Weekly Ketchup

Ip Man Star Donnie Yen Joins John Wick: Chapter 4, and More Movie News

Issa Rae enters the Spider-Verse, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II teams up with Dwayne Johnson, and Damien Chazelle and David O. Russell both recruit big names.

by | June 4, 2021 | Comments

This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Creed III, Firestarter, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2.



Donnie Yen

(Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images)

John Wick (Certified Fresh at 86%) could have “just” been a very well-produced action revenge thriller, but the film’s star Keanu Reeves, director Chad Stahelski, and screenwriter Derek Kolstad figured out a winning formula has has led to sequels and even a spinoff series focused on its secret world of assassins. Production on John Wick: Chapter 4 has been held back a little bit by both the COVID-19 pandemic (and scheduling conflicts with Reeves’ other upcoming #4 sequel, The Matrix 4, scheduled for 12/22/2021), but the pieces are finally coming together for filming to happen at locations in France, Germany, and Japan this summer. Just last week, we learned that pop star Rina Sawayama will make her acting debut in a lead role in John Wick: Chapter 4, and now we know about another big addition to the cast. Hong Kong superstar Donnie Yen has recently increased his Hollywood profile with roles in films like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Certified Fresh at 84%) and Disney’s live-action Mulan (Certified Fresh at 72%), and next, he will co-star in John Wick: Chapter 4  as an old friend of Wick’s who shares many of his experiences… and enemies. John Wick: Chapter 4 is currently scheduled for May 27, 2022. Finally, in what is probably a coincidence, both Donnie Yen and Keanu Reeves have been rumored in recent years to be in consideration for the role of Marvel’s Namor the Sub-Mariner, with Yen even Tweeting this audition picture. Marvel Studios has made no official Namor announcements.

Other Top Headlines


Issa Rae

(Photo by Elizabeth Goodenough/Everett Collection)

Some weeks reveal certain trends in development news, and this week, the theme involves stars on the upswing landing big new projects with the potential of expanding their careers. Let’s start with Issa Rae, whose popular YouTube series Awkward Black Girl led to the acclaimed HBO series Insecure (Fresh at 96%), which likewise led to a supporting role in The Hate U Give (Certified Fresh at 97%) and lead roles in The Photograph (Fresh at 74%), and The Lovebirds (Fresh at 65%). Issa Rae will also provide the voice of Jessica Drew, AKA Spider-Woman, in the upcoming sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Certified Fresh at 97%) as the sequel’s first new cast member. It is not yet known if Rae might also be in the running to play the role also suspected to be Jessica Drew in the untitled female-centric Spider-Man spinoff that director Olivia Wilde is currently developing (though it’s also worth noting that there have been a few different Marvel heroes all called Spider-Woman). The Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse sequel is currently scheduled for release on October 7, 2022. Although Shameik Moore and Hailee Steinfeld are both confirmed to be returning, other stars like Nicolas Cage (as Spider-Man Noir) and John Mulaney (as Peter Porker/Spider-Ham) haven’t yet been announced.


Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Dwayne Johnson

(Photo by Priscilla Grant, Elizabeth Goodenough/Everett Collection)

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is not yet a “household name,” but his face is becoming more and more familiar following breakout roles in two DC Comics projects, first as the villain Black Manta in Aquaman (Fresh at 65%), and then as nope-we’re-not-spoiling-it in HBO’s Watchmen (Fresh at 96%). Roles in US and The Trial of the Chicago 7 will also soon be followed by performances in the Candyman reboot (8/27/2021), The Matrix 4 (12/22/2021), and Aquaman 2 (12/16/2022) (for which he is currently preparing). Abdul-Mateen II and Dwayne Johnson are teaming up to produce an action movie set in Austin, Texas for Warner Bros. called Emergency Contact, in which Abdul-Mateen II will also star (it’s not yet known if Johnson will have a supporting role, but it sounds like he’s not the film’s star). The premise of Emergency Contact is being kept secret for now, except that it’s a “high-concept, high-octane action film set in Austin,” and that the screenwriters also worked with Dwayne Johnson on his upcoming DC Comics movie Black Adam (7/29/2022).


Samara Weaving

(Photo by Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)

Damien Chazelle, who won an Academy Award for directing La La Land (Certified Fresh at 91%), and who also directed Whiplash (Certified Fresh at 94%) and First Man (Certified Fresh at 87%), has been trying to get his movie Babylon about Hollywood in the 1920s going for a few years now (much of that delay was caused by COVID-19, obviously). Babylon is going to feature a large ensemble cast led by Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, which will now also include Samara Weaving (Ready or Not), Max Mingella (The Social Network), Lukas Haas (Witness), Eric Roberts (The Pope of Greenwich Village), and rocker-turned-actor Flea of the band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Katherine Waterston, who co-starred with Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice, also joined Babylon in a separate announcement. Paramount Pictures has scheduled Babylon for a limited release on December 25, 2022 which will then platform to a wide release on January 6, 2023.


Taylor Swift

(Photo by JA/Everett Collection)

Another director who is assembling an ambitious ensemble for his next project is David O. Russell, whose last film six years ago was the 2015 “Miracle Mop” movie Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence. We’ve known for a while now that the leads in his next film will be Christian Bale and Margot Robbie, supported by John David Washington, Rami Malek, and Zoe Saldana. This week, however, the cast list sort of ballooned to include Robert De Niro, Mike Myers, Alessandro Nivola, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Riseborough, Chris Rock, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Shannon, Anya Taylor-Joy, and pop singer Taylor Swift, in a relatively rare acting performance (Swift’s first since Cats). Both the premise and the title of this film are currently being kept secret by 20th Century Studios. Having said that, past reports have described the lead characters as being “a doctor and a lawyer who form an unlikely partnership.”


Jonathan Majors

(Photo by The Washington Post/Getty Images)

Even lifelong Rocky fans probably have to admit that the franchise was seriously struggling before it was revived in 2015 with the spinoff Creed (Certified Fresh at 95%), which turned the focus towards Adonis Creed, the son of Rocky’s friend Apollo, as played by Michael B. Jordan. That film was followed by Creed II (Certified Fresh at 83%), in which Creed squared off against another son of a famous boxer, Ivan Drago, who killed Apollo in Rocky IV (Rotten at 40%). We don’t yet know the premise for Creed III (with which Michael B. Jordan will make his feature film directorial debut), but we do now know that Adonis’ new boxing opponent will be played by Jonathan Majors of HBO’s Lovecraft Country. As expected, fans were quick to speculate about who Majors might play, with the most common guess being the son (or some other relative) of Clubber Lang, who was played in Rocky III (Fresh at 63%) by Mr. T, whose last major role was over 10 years ago in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Certified Fresh at 86%). It is not yet known how the recent acquisition of MGM by Amazon might impact the theatrical release of Creed III.


Tiffany Haddish in Girls Trip

(Photo by Michele K. Short/Universal Pictures)

The recent career of Tiffany Haddish has been so prolific and ubiquitous that it might be easy to forget that her breakout role in Girls Trip (Certified Fresh at 91%) came just four years ago in 2017. Haddish hasn’t had that much time to expand into other genres besides comedy, but she is indeed taking her shot at an ambitious dramatic role that will also require (ostensibly) a good amount of physical personal training, as she is producing and will star in a biopic about the life of three-time Olympic gold medalist Florence Griffith Joyner, popularly known as “Flo-Jo.” Florence Griffith Joyner (who died in 1998) was an American track and field athlete who in 1988 set still-standing world records in both the 100 meter and 200 meter dash, and then retired less than a year later. Tiffany Haddish will also be producing a documentary series about “Flo-Jo” as a companion to the narrative feature.


Glenn Close in The Wife

(Photo by Sony Pictures Classics)

A little over a year ago, The Weekly Ketchup reported Avengers: Infinity War co-stars Josh Brolin and Peter Dinklage were signed to co-star in a Twins-style comedy called Brothers for director Macon Blair (I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore, Certified Fresh at 89%). Before we get to this week’s actual news, this is a good place to remind everyone that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now so big that its list of illustrious alumni is massive. That being said, yes, Brothers is going to feature another MCU star, and that will be Glenn Close, who appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy (Certified Fresh at 92%) as the leader of the Nova Corps. Close’s role in Brothers isn’t yet known, but an obvious guess is that she could be playing the mother of the two siblings played by Brolin and Dinklage. (Collider also pointed out that Glenn Close did play the mother of Ed Helms and Owen Wilson in the similarly-titled Father Figures in 2017.)


Ryan Kiera Armstrong

(Photo by Michael Tran/Getty Images)

One of the more memorable “kills” in IT: Chapter Two (Fresh at 62%) is the moment when a young girl is pulled under the bleachers by Pennywise the evil clown. That girl was played by 8-year-old Ryan Kiera Armstrong, who is now 11, and she has been cast as the lead in another Stephen King adaptation, the reboot of Firestarter, which was first adapted as a 1984 movie (Rotten at 37%) starring Drew Barrymore. The announcement of Armstrong’s casting came along with a set photo of Armstrong in character, wearing a jacket that looks like it might have been in or around, you know, a fire. Armstrong joins a cast that includes the already announced Zac Efron as her father (originally played by David Keith) and Michael Greyeyes as the Native American government agent assigned to befriend her (controversially played by George C. Scott in the original film). Former ER star Gloria Reuben also landed a Firestarter role this week.


Alicia Silverstone in Clueless

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

It has been over 25 years since the now-classic teen comedy Clueless (Certified Fresh at 81%), and the career of its star Alicia Silverstone has taken her a lot of places, including Gotham City as Batgirl (Batman & Robin, Rotten at 12%). Silverstone, now 44, is signed to return to high school (sort of) in the Paramount Players high school comedy Senior Year. Rebel Wilson will star in Senior Year as a cheerleader who wakes up from a coma after 20 years to return to her high school “to regain her status and claim the prom queen crown that eluded her.”

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