Weekly Ketchup

Paddington Director Paul King Signs on for Willy Wonka Prequel, and More Movie News

Peaky Blinders gets a movie, Mahalia Jackson gets a third biopic, and the makers of Fortnite get into animated movies.

by | January 22, 2021 | Comments

This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Gilgamesh, Peaky Blinders, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Wonka.


This WEEK’S TOP STORY

A WILLY WONKA PREQUEL FROM PADDINGTON DIRECTOR PAUL KING IS COMING IN 2023

Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

(Photo by Everett Collection)

Few movie characters may cause quite the generational dispute as Willy Wonka, with older movie fans possibly preferring Gene Wilder’s take in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Certified Fresh at 90%), and younger fans being more familiar with Johnny Depp’s portrayal in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Certified Fresh at 83%). The latter is also now over 15 years old, so that may explain why Warner Bros. is preparing for a third movie for yet another generation to embrace. This time around, the film will be a prequel called Wonka, which will ostensibly delve deeper into the backstory of how the young Willy Wonka became a candy company impresario and met the Oompa-Loompas (though Depp’s movie did address some of that). Wonka is now scheduled for release on March 17, 2023, and the prequel will be directed by Paul King, who directed both Paddington (Certified Fresh at 97%) and its critically beloved sequel Paddington 2 (Certified Fresh at 100%). No official casting announcement has been made yet, but Warner Bros. is reportedly considering either Tom Holland (the MCU’s Spider-Man) or Timothée Chalamet (the star of Warner Bros.’ Dune reboot, due later this year). Several years ago, when the Wonka prequel first entered into development at Warner Bros., other actors who were reportedly being considered included Donald Glover, Ryan Gosling, and Ezra Miller (who will soon be busy starring in WB’s The Flash).


Other Top Headlines

1. MATT DAMON RETURNING FOR THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER

Matt Damon in Thor: Ragnarok

(Photo by ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Director Taika Waititi came to Thor: Ragnarok (Certified Fresh at 93%) from a career rooted in comedy (Eagle vs Shark, What We Do in the Shadows), and one of the funnier early bits in Thor: Ragnarok was the revelation that the Asgardian actor playing Loki in a stage production was none other than famous actor Matt Damon. It was something of an impressive “get” for Marvel Studios, because Damon remains one of the bigger movie stars who hasn’t yet appeared as a superhero (unlike his pal Ben Affleck, who’s played both Daredevil and Batman). This week, we learned that Damon and his family had arrived in Sydney, Australia so that he can participate in the filming of Thor: Love and Thunder (5/6/2022). It’s currently unclear whether Damon will be playing the same actor he played in Thor: Ragnarok or someone else, but he was reportedly quoted as saying he would be in Australia for “the next few months,” which suggests a role bigger than a mere cameo. Damon joins a cast that also includes Chris Hemsworth (of course), Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jaimie Alexander, and Chris Pratt, with Christian Bale as the film’s villain Gorr the God Butcher.


2. PEAKY BLINDERS MOVIE PLANNED AFTER THE SHOW’S FINAL SEASON

Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders

(Photo by Netflix)

Peaky Blinders is an award-winning crime drama BBC TV (and Netflix) series currently in its fifth season that is based upon a real street gang that operated in England from the 1890s to 1910. Earlier this week, the announcement was made that Peaky Blinders would end after its upcoming sixth season, but that news was followed the very next day by the story that applies here. Showrunner Steven Knight elaborated that Peaky Blinders will indeed continue past the TV series with “with a movie… That is what is going to happen.” Nothing else is known yet about what form a Peaky Blinders movie might take, and it’s also worth noting that both a ballet and a stage musical have been considered. Like many other long-running TV shows, Peaky Blinders has had a large ensemble cast that has included Cillian Murphy (as the gang’s leader), Paddy Considine, Aiden Gillen, Tom Hardy, Sam Neill, and Anya Taylor-Joy.


3. R&B SINGER LEDISI JOINS THREE WAY RACE TOWARDS MAHALIA JACKSON BIOPIC

Mahalia Jackson in Jazz on a Summer's Day

(Photo by Everett Collection)

This August will mark the 58th anniversary of the the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. One of the performers that day was gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and she was the one who called on King to “tell them about the dream” that he had told her about. The world is still waiting for a full Martin Luther King, Jr biopic (that Steven Spielberg may still have the rights to produce), but in the meantime, it appears that Mahalia Jackson may get one first, as she is now the subject of three separate biopics. The first project we heard about last August was a Lifetime TV movie produced by Robin Roberts; that one has already been produced, and it even has a trailer. Within 10 days, the news also broke that Queen Latifah is producing a feature film called Mahalia! with Jill Scott attached to star. That brings us, then, to this week’s news, which is that R&B and jazz singer Ledisi has signed on to star as Mahalia Jackson in a third biopic project to be titled Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story and directed by actress Denise Dowse in her feature film debut. Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story will focus on the key Civil Rights Movement years of 1956 to 1963, with Columbus Short co-starring as Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s also unclear when that film — or the Jill Scott movie that it’s now in direct competition with — will be produced, and specifically, which project might be produced first.


4. HUGH GRANT AND JOSH HARTNETT TO BOTH REUNITE WITH DIRECTOR GUY RITCHIE

Hugh Grant and Josh Hartnett

(Photo by Priscilla Grant, John Paul Melendez/Everett Collection)

British director Guy Ritchie is managing to continue working right through the COVID-19 pandemic at basically his normal rate, but there’s an argument to be made that his latest crime thriller, Wrath of Man, is one of those films currently left in a sort of pandemic-induced limbo. That film features long-time Guy Ritchie collaborator Jason Statham, who will also be the lead in his upcoming spy thriller (currently untitled after previously being called Five Eyes) opposite American actress Aubrey Plaza, and this week, we learned that the film will feature two others actors reuniting with Ritchie. Josh Hartnett, who is also one of the stars of Wrath of Man, will also co-star in the spy thriller in an unknown role, while Hugh Grant will also co-star in what will be his next film working with Guy Ritchie after last year’s The Gentlemen (Certified Fresh at 75%).


5. MAKERS OF FORTNITE EXPAND INTO MOVIES WITH ANIMATED GILGAMESH

Epic Games Logo

(Photo by Epic Games)

Hollywood has obviously been adapting the tales of Greek mythology (Hercules, Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans) for decades, but many other cultural mythologies are adapted at varying levels. One such culture that is almost never adapted is ancient Babylonian mythology, but that’s about to change, and it’s coming from a surprising source. Hot off the continuing success of their online game Fortnite, the video game developer and publisher Epic Games is preparing to move into the realm of animated feature films using the same Unreal technology that is used both in their games and in current productions like The Mandalorian on Disney+. The first animated film to be produced as part of this new initiative will be Gilgamesh, based on the ancient Mesopotomanian Epic of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is being produced by animation companies in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America, but the film will also be adapted with an English language cast yet to be announced.


6. JOSH DUHAMEL REPLACES ARMIE HAMMER IN J.LO ROM-COM

Josh Duhamel

(Photo by Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)

One of the most intriguing recent stories was revealed last week when we learned that Armie Hammer had dropped out of the romantic comedy Shotgun Wedding just a few weeks before filming was scheduled to start on location in the Dominican Republic. (We won’t get into the alleged details why.) Film productions frequently have “back-up plans” (mostly because of scheduling conflicts, such as the situation that WandaVision star Elizabeth Olsen explained in this piece), and we now have a good guess at who has also been in the running when producers were considering “an Armie Hammer type.” Las Vegas and Transforrmers franchise star Josh Duhamel is now in talks to replace Armie Hammer opposite Jennifer Lopez in the romantic comedy Shotgun Wedding. If the deal goes through, Duhamel and Lopez will play a couple who gather their friends and family for a destination wedding in the Caribbean that goes awry when the wedding party is held hostage. Lionsgate will distribute Shotgun Wedding, which will be directed by Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect, Sisters).


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