This Week’s Ketchup brings you seven headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Black Widow, Space Jam 2, and the sequel to Hobbs & Shaw.
Universal Pictures recently pushed the Fast & Furious sequel F9 back a full year to April 2, 2021 (the date when FF10 previously would have been released). Despite that delay, Dwayne Johnson took to his Instagram feed in a Live Q&A this week to confirm that Universal is indeed developing a sequel to last year’s spinoff Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & SHaw (Fresh at 67%). Johnson said of the sequel (we like to think of it as 2 Hobbs 2 Shaw), “Just gotta figure out the creative right now, and the direction we’re going to go.” Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw earned over $759 million worldwide, which suggests there was an audience not only for the action movie chemistry between Johnson and co-star Jason Statham, but also for the “superhero movie” direction the film took. Having said that, Universal could easily switch things up with each new film, possibly taking on other action movie genres. The studio has not yet scheduled the second Hobbs & Shaw movie for release yet, but with all of the other delays going on these days, it likely won’t be before 2022.`
As it appears more and more likely that most movie theaters will remain closed until probably May or June (or later), studios have been pushing back their films repeatedly over the last couple of weeks. Disney, which has some of the biggest upcoming titles, has been slower to act, but late this afternoon, the studio did finally make some big announcements. Let’s start with Marvel Studios, which always would have been the most impacted because of the way the Marvel Cinematic Universe works. A delay to one or two films basically could mean a delay for the whole slate, or else the narrative could end up a jumbled mess. Black Widow has been pushed back six months from 5/1/2020 to 11/6/2020 (and is also getting a new composer), which was the former home to Eternals, which now takes 2/12/2021, the former date for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Rings. This continues right down the line to include Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Captain Marvel 2 (7/8/2022). (Black Panther II, meanwhile, did not get moved from its 5/6/2022 release date.) Other movies that Disney has bumped back include Mulan (7/24/2020), Jungle Cruise (7/20/2021, which is a push of a whole year), and Indiana Jones 5 (7/29/2022) (likewise). Finally, the movie that is arguably experiencing the biggest change is the long-in-development Artemis Fowl (formerly scheduled for 5/29/2020), which will now skip theaters entirely to debut on the Disney+ app instead.
As with Disney’s treatment of its Marvel slate, we can fully expect that release date shifts will have a wave-like effect for the rest of 2020 and 2021. We mention this because director Edgar Wright’s next film, Last Night in Soho, had been scheduled for release on September 25, 2020, but it’s now very possible that the film might be shifted to late 2020 or sometime in 2021. Wright himself, however, appears to be getting ready for his next film, as he is now attached to direct an adaptation of an upcoming novel called Set My Heart to Five about an android “learning to love” in an “all-too-human” future of 2054 when the lead android “works as a dentist, as he undergoes an emotional awakening that is sparked by an introduction to ’80s and ’90s movies.” That logline brings to mind two films that were both directed by Steven Spielberg: A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Certified Fresh at 74%) and Ready Player One (Certified Fresh at 72%). Edgar Wright is also still developing his Baby Driver sequel and an adaptation of the YA novel Grasshopper Jungle.
It was only seven years ago that future Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman starred in 42, the long-in-development Jackie Robinson biopic (Certified Fresh at 80%). If we go back twice as far to 2013, that lands us in the decade of the 1990s, when Spike Lee had once hoped to give the world his own Jackie Robinson project. In the spirit of giving people something to read while they’re holed up during the current COVID-19 crisis, Lee has revealed a “Dropbox” containing his 1996 screenplay for his adaptation of Jackie Robinson’s autobiography, I Never Had it Made. Spike Lee seems to be putting this out there in the spirit of “what-might-have-been,” but it certainly begs the question, “could it still be made?” Might he still be able to make his Jackie Robinson?
Universal Pictures scrapped their plans for their Dark Universe after the disappointment of The Mummy in 2017, but the studio has hopes of reviving those various franchises. That quick turnaround started just over a month ago with The Invisible Man. With that in mind, let’s look at this week’s news that Universal Pictures has hired TV director Stephen Williams (LOST, Watchmen) to helm a “suspenseful monster movie” called Don’t Go in the Water. That title could refer to any number of underwater threats, but writers online are already speculating that this could be a “back door” remake of Creature from the Black Lagoon. Having said that, Don’t Go in the Water could be a warning about something else, like piranha, barracuda, crocodiles, etc. Heck, this could as easily be a secret Sea Monkeys monster movie.
Amidst all of the big delays, it can seem almost jarring when one hears about something that’s proceeding unabated. For example, the animation process for Space Jam 2 is still moving forward as scheduled, according to the sequel’s star and producer, LeBron James. “Just like everything in the world, everything is slowed down a little bit, but we’re still on target,” James said of the film’s release date on July 16th, 2021. In related news, comedian-actor Paul Scheer also confirmed this week that Don Cheadle (whose casting in Space Jam 2 was actually announced last July) is playing the film’s villain. Live-action filming of Space Jam 2 wrapped in September of 2019.
Until just two years ago, Disney and Lucasfilm were still committed to the Star Wars Story movies being an ongoing franchise to support the “main” franchise of films (The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker). In addition to planned projects for Boba Fett and Obi-Wan (which will instead be a Disney+ series), the ending of Solo: A Star Wars Story (Fresh at 70%) also seemed to suggest there was narrative room for sequels (unlike, say, Rogue One, which ended exactly where Star Wars: A New Hope starts). The huge wrench in all of those plans, however, was that Solo only earned $392 million worldwide. We’ve known for a while that the Star Wars Story movies were done, but there had been some speculation online that perhaps Alden Ehrenreich’s version of young Han Solo could continue his adventures on something for Disney+. Well, screenwriter Jon Kasdan answered that question directly this week, and he pretty much shot down such talk, specifically saying, “the D+ Star Wars slate is really… pretty packed.” Alden Ehrenreich has no feature films in the works, but he did land the lead role in the Brave New World series that will premiere on NBC’s Peacock app.
Like many filmmakers during the ongoing health crisis, Zack Snyder staged an online event recently for fans as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Rotten at 28%) celebrated its fourth anniversary. Especially of note were Snyder’s comments about longtime Justice League member J’onn J’onnz, the Martian Manhunter (played by Harry Lennix) and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Talking about the image of Gal Gadot (teasing her debut in Batman v Superman), Snyder said that the exact setting of Wonder Woman during World War I wasn’t known while they were filming, with other possibilities (at the time) being either the Crimean War (1853 to 1856) or the American Civil War (1861 to 1865).
This year marks 24 years now since Michael Bay’s first and only Fresh film as director, which was also his second film, The Rock (Fresh at 66%). After directing his last Transformers film (The Last Knight, Rotten at 15%), Michael Bay moved over to Netflix with last year’s 6 Underground (Rotten at 36%), starring Ryan Reynolds. Netflix has obviously been very much in the business of establishing new relationships and deals across the board, but Bay has chosen to go another direction, as he has signed a new deal that brings him back to Sony Pictures, the studio behind his very first ever film as director, Bad Boys. Bay’s first new project under this new deal at Sony will be an “ensemble drama” called Black Five. Sony is reportedly still hoping for an early 2020 production start date with a “big male lead.” The premise is being kept secret, but it’s reportedly got a “gritty sci-fi element to it” that’s “that’s very much in the vein other Bay films.”