This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Attack the Block 2, DC League of Super-Pets, and Phantom.
(Photo by (c)Buena Vista courtesy Everett Collection)
In the realm of disinformation and online hoaxes, perhaps the greatest mark of achievement is to be debunked by Snopes.com. That site also doesn’t normally fact-check most pop culture claims and memes, so it’s perhaps especially noteworthy that the idea of a sequel to the 1993 comedy Hocus Pocus (Rotten at 38%) had to be debunked. However, at least year’s Investor Day event, Walt Disney Pictures announced that the studio was indeed moving forward with a Hocus Pocus sequel that would premiere on Disney+. Those plans were confirmed this week as Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker are all officially signed to return as the original film’s trio of witch sisters. Hocus Pocus 2 will be directed by Anne Fletcher (The Proposal, 27 Dresses), while the original film’s director, Adam Shankman, is instead working on another sequel for Disney+, Disenchanted, the follow-up to the 2007 Amy Adams fantasy hit, Enchanted. The Hocus Pocus sequel will debut on the Disney+ streaming service sometime in 2022.
(Photo by Ron Phillips/©Warner Bros. Pictures)
Dwayne Johnson has done a pretty great job of letting the world know that he will be starring as the DC Comics anti-hero Black Adam (7/29/2022) next year. As it turns out, however, that actually will not be his next DC Comics superhero movie. That’s because Johnson will be providing the voice of Superman’s best friend (see what we did there?) Krypto the Super-Dog in the animated adventure DC League of Super-Pets (5/20/2022). This movie has been announced for a while now, but it’s frequently overlooked when people discuss future DC Comics projects, possibly because, until today, it lacked a big-name movie star. Although the League of Super-Pets is a much larger ensemble in the comics, the premise seems to suggest this first film will mostly focus on Krypto and (most likely) Streaky the Super-Cat. DC League of Super-Pets will be co-directed by Jared Stern (Netflix’s Green Eggs and Ham, TV’s Dr. Ken) and Sam Levine (Robot and Monster). In related news, this week Warner Bros. also hired Bad Boys for Life directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah to direct their HBO Max movie Batgril, the lead role of which hasn’t been cast yet.
(Photo by Marvel Studios)
Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos is on quite an impressive streak right now. Starting with Dogtooth (Certified Fresh at 93%) in 2009, Lanthimos has directed six movies in a row that all have earned “Certified Fresh” scores, including The Lobster (Certified Fresh at 87%) and most recently, The Favourite (Certified Fresh at 93%), which received nine Academy Award nominations (including Best Director and Best Picture) and a Best Actress win for Olivia Colman. Much attention is being given, therefore, to Lanthimos’ next film, which will be an adaptation of Scottish author Alasdair Gray’s novel Poor Things, which has been described as a “send up of Victorian literature” that bears similarities to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This week’s news is that Mark Ruffalo has joined the Poor Things cast opposite Emma Stone, who earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for The Favourite, and who will star in the new film as an abused woman who is reborn in an infant’s body. It’s unclear which role Ruffalo is taking on, as well as whether the previously announced Willeam Dafoe and Ramy Youssef are still attached to star or Ruffalo might be replacing one of them.
(Photo by Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection)
Most movie fans are familiar with the Classic Universal Monsters movies of the 1930s and 1940s, but Universal’s first major horror hit was in the 1920s with the silent film The Phantom of the Opera (Certified Fresh at 90%), starring Lon Chaney Sr. That film was an adaptation of the 1910 French novel Le Fantome de l’Opera by Gaston Leroux, and it obviously led to several later adaptations. As these things sometimes go, people usually cite the 1925 silent film as the source material instead of Leroux’s novel. However, a new adaptation of Phantom of the Opera is now in development and the project is described as a psychological thriller set in “London’s contemporary music scene” that “intends to upend the romanticism associated with previous interpretations, and instead lean into the suspense and horror that was a big part of the book.” This adaptation is currently being called just Phantom (probably to avoid associations with the opera). Phantom is being adapted by screenwriter Anthony McCarten, whose credits include The Theory of Everything (Certified Fresh at 80%), The Two Popes (Certified Fresh at 89%), and the upcoming Whitney Houston biopic, I Wanna Dance with Somebody.
(Photo by Stephen Vaughan/©Screen Gems courtesy Everett Collection)
The relatively recent box office successes of the musical biopics Bohemian Rhapsody (Fresh at 60%) and Rocketman (Certified Fresh at 89%) continues to have an impact on Hollywood’s plans to adapt other musical superstar’s lives. These plans include Respect (8/13/2021) (starring Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin), Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis (6/3/2022), and movies about the Bee Gees, Boy George, Whitney Houston, Bob Marley, Amy Winehouse, and Madonna (which Madonna herself will direct). Folk-singer-turned-TV-star-turned-disco-and-pop-superstar and Academy Award winner Cher turned 75 this week, and Universal Pictures used that as an opportunity to announce that the studio is actively developing a Cher biopic. Although it’s often remarked upon how well Cher has aged, she is not expected to star in the film as herself. The Cher biopic will be written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, A Star is Born, Munich) for the producing partners behind the ABBA musical Mamma Mia! (Rotten at 55%). Cher, who will also produce the biopic, took to Twitter to shout the news.
(Photo by Liam Daniel/©Screen Gems courtesy Everett Collection)
Many science fiction fans were probably first introduced to British actor John Boyega through his performance as Finn in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Certified Fresh at 93%), but Boyega’s first feature film role was actually four years earlier in the sci-fi action movie Attack the Block (Certified Fresh at 90%). The surprise success of that relatively low budget film also propelled the career of director Joe Cornish, who went on to co-write Ant-Man (Certified Fresh at 83%) and direct and write The Kid Who Would Be King (Certified Fresh at 89%). Ten years later, Boyega and Cornish are reuniting for an Attack the Block sequel, which Cornish promises will deliver “an even bigger slice of inner-city alien action.”
Corporate news about one big company acquiring another large-but-not-as-large company might seem boring, but these stories have some of the biggest impacts on what we watch. Consider, for example, how different movies today would be if Disney had never acquired Marvel, or if (going way back to 1969), Warner Bros. had never bought DC Comics. There were actually two big announcements this week, but the biggest is that Amazon is in the midst of a $9 billion bid to acquire MGM, one of Hollywood’s oldest studios. Although Warner Bros. owns many of the pre-1986 MGM classics (like The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, etc.), the catalog that Amazon is reportedly likely to acquire includes over 4,000 titles, including franchises like James Bond, The Pink Panther, RoboCop, and Rocky, as well as hits like The Magnificent Seven and The Silence of the Lambs. The expectation is that Amazon will bring the MGM catalog to its Amazon Prime service, which could sizably improve its share in the streaming subscription marketplace. In related news, AT&T is also spinning off its WarnerMedia properites (including, obviously, Warner Bros.) to Discovery, creating a new corporate body that is strong in both narrative and documentary content. Finally, Warner Bros. also made a course correction on their plans for Dune, which will now debut exclusively in theaters on October 1st, 2021, before heading to HBO Max 45 days later, which is the opposite of what had been announced in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in December.
(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)
The animated Nickelodeon show SpongeBob SquarePants has ballooned since its debut in 1999 to include a multi-media franchise that has reportedly earned over $13 billion in revenue. That has included three feature films, including last year’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run (Fresh at 67%), various video games, and TV show spinoffs like The Patrick Star Show and Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years. Nickelodeon is now developing a SpongeBob spinoff feature film for Sandy Cheeks, his squirrel friend from the surface who is easily identified by the deep diving suit she wears. The Sandy Cheeks movie is expected to be a CGI animation and live-action hybrid, and it’s expected to premiere exclusively on a streaming service, though it has not yet been disclosed if that will be on Paramount+ (the obvious choice) or on Netflix, which picked up Sponge on the Run for international markets during the COVID-19 pandemic. Development of Sandy Cheeks is apparently pretty far along, as production is already expected to start on location in New Mexico in August, 2021.
(Photo by ©MGM courtesy Everett Collection)
Just when you might have thought that Hollywood had finally run out of 1980s genre films to remake, someone apparently remembered the 1983 vampire film The Hunger (Rotten at 55%), directed by Tony Scott and starring David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve. Warner Bros. has begun development on a remake of The Hunger with director Angela Robinson (Professor Marston & The Wonder Women, Certified Fresh at 87%). Like Robinson’s movie about the creator of Wonder Woman, Tony Scott’s The Hunger was an erotic drama that attempted to deconstruct a pop culture phenomenon (in The Hunger, it was the myth of the modern vampire).
(Photo by Kerry Hayes/©Paramount Pictures)
Few writers in human history have had as many of their stories and novels adapted to film as Stephen King, and this includes several of his works that have been extended past a single film. Let’s consider King’s 1983 novel Pet Sematary, which was first adapted as a film in 1989 (Rotten at 51%), which then received a sequel in 1992 (Rotten at 22%), before itself being remade again in 2019 (Rotten at 57%). That means Pet Sematary has led to three feature films to date (all with Rotten Tomatometers), and this week’s news concerns a fourth. Paramount Players is now developing a sequel to the 2019 update of Pet Sematary, although it’s unclear what the sequel will be about, such as whether it will attempt to adapt the second film directly, or spin off a new story. The new film will be directed by screenwriter Lindsey Beer, who has also worked on several (unproduced) high profile projects like M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand), a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, the Short Circuit remake, and Marvel’s Silver Sable.