This week’s Ketchup brings you another ten headlines from the world of film development news (those stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next). Included in the mix this time around are stories about such titles as Avengers: Infinity War, Dumbo, Green Lantern Corps, The Onion (yes, that Onion), and Shazam.
With reports emerging this week that filming will start on location in Scotland next month, it’s not at all surprising that we heard about Avengers: Infinity War casting. First, Peter Dinklage (AKA Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones) is in early talks for a “key role.” And that, right there, is all that we know about it. That aura of mystery sent various comic book-related websites into a frenzy of speculation, as you can see here, here, and, oh yeah, here. Dinklage is on the short side, so obviously some of the guesses included the likes of Puck, M.O.D.O.K., and Pip the Troll, but in the past, Dinklage has often favored roles that were not “height specific” (such as his role as Bolivar Trask in X-Men: Days of Future Past). Other guesses included “cosmic” characters like the Beyonder, Eternity, the Gardener, the Living Tribunal, Order or Chaos, and Uatu the Watcher. Of all the possible roles he might play in Avengers: Infinity War, this writer is going to guess it could be Starfox, a (relatively) long time member of the Avengers in the 1980s, who also happens to be the brother of Thanos. Anyway, yes, filming of Avengers: Infinity War starts soon-ish, and Marvel Studios has scheduled the film for May 4, 2018, and its untitled sequel for a day shy of a year later, on May 3, 2019. Returning to the news about filming in Scotland, one of the details that was sort of buried in that story was the revelation that Liv Tyler will be costarring in Avengers: Infinity War. If it turns out to be true, it almost certainly means that Tyler will be returning to the MCU after an absence so long that many people might not even remember she was ever in it. If you still can’t remember, you might also have not seen The Incredible Hulk, in which Tyler played Bruce Banner’s girlfriend Betsy Ross (AKA Red She Hulk in the comics).
Let’s be completely honest here: some movie stars have big ears. Some have big noses, some have big heads, and some have big ears. Clark Gable, for example, had ears so big, that when he appeared in cartoons, he was caricatured like this. Among today’s movie stars, one whose lobes cast long shadows in profile is Will Smith. (Googling “Will Smith Ears” will give you results like this and this). With that in mind, Will Smith is reportedly now in early talks with Walt Disney Pictures to star in their live-action remake of the studio’s fourth animated feature, 1941’s Dumbo. Tim Burton, who recently directed the biopic Big Eyes, is attached to helm the movie, about a baby elephant whose life in the circus is made more difficult by the size of his ears (and the cruel treatment of his mother). If Smith signs on, he will play a father whose children develop a friendship with Dumbo. Tom Hanks has also reportedly been offered the role of the film’s villain, but the filming schedule of Dumbo may conflict with another film he’s considering, a World War II drama called The Grey Hound. Speaking of scheduling conflicts, there are also stories suggesting that if Will Smith does sign on for Dumbo, it could mean scheduling problems for Sony’s two planned Bad Boys sequels planned for 2018 and 2019.
This was sort of a slow news week, so we’re admittedly filling this column out with a few fluffier stories that might not have made the cut in a busier week. For example, ever since WB and DC announced plans for a movie called Green Lantern Corps, it’s always been fairly obvious that there would be multiple “Green Lanterns” in the movie, and yet, here we are, reporting just that. Confirmation came this week that Green Lantern Corps will focus on the space adventures of both Hal Jordan and John Stewart, the African American character best known for costarring in the animated shows Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. The Hollywood Reporter also posted this handy guide to John Stewart for those less familiar with the character. As for who might play John Stewart in the Green Lantern Corps movie, Sterling K. Brown has already come right out and said, “I humbly submit my name.”
Three movies in, thus far, Warner Bros’ current slate of DCEU movies are pretty darn glum. Metropolis was half-obliterated in Man of Steel, Superman and Batman came to blows in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad featured the wholesale massacre of citizens (temporarily) turned into blobby zombies. We’ve known for years now that WB (and previously, New Line Cinema) has long-term plans for a Shazam movie about the original character called Captain Marvel (before Marvel’s… it’s a long story). DC’s Shazam (which has to be called that because Marvel Studios has the rights to the title Captain Marvel) has been, for decades, a paragon of optimism and hope and FUN. The one movie star who has long been associated with the Shazam movie is Dwayne Johnson, and this week, in what seemed like it might have been encouraged by the studio, Johnson took to Facebook to make a statement about a recent meeting with DC, which we know was about him playing Black Adam in Shazam, because he used #BlackAdam. Johnson’s statement went like this: “Had a very cool and strategic meeting with the heads of DC Comics about their entire universe. As a hard core DC fan, to get a real sense of the tonal shifts and developments coming in these future movies has me fired up. Something we, as DC fans have all been waiting for. Hope, optimism & FUN. I’m excited about our future together and you should be too. Even when talking about the the most ruthless villain/anti-hero of all time finally coming to life. Prepare yourselves DC Universe.” There is still no official release date (or a director, even) for WB’s Shazam.
In what may have been surprising box office news, the space race true story Hidden Figures this past weekend became the first movie to unseat Rogue One: A Star Wars Story from the top of the domestic box office charts. As a potential reaction to that news, one of the stars of Hidden Figures landed a new movie project this week as well. Taraji P. Henson (also from TV’s Empire) has signed a deal with Sony’s Screen Gems to star in a thriller called Proud Mary, about a female assassin “whose life is upturned when she meets a young boy who awakens the maternal instinct she never knew she had.”
Long before the 2016 presidential news cycle gave “fake news” a bad name, The Onion was delivering truly false news stories. There has been talk in the past about The Onion expanding into movies, but all that seemed to come out of it was the 2008 direct-to-video release The Onion Movie. Well, now that everyone (even the President Elect!) is talking about “fake news,” the Chicago-based satire publication appears poised to try once again to spread their special brand of news fakery to your local cineplex. That’s because The Onion has signed a three-picture deal with Lionsgate. We don’t yet know what those three movies might be about, but the deal only extends to the year 2018 (ie, next year), so if Lionsgate is going to do something with their new property, we should hear (relatively) soon.
Once upon a time, Matt Damon considered making his directorial debut with a Warner Bros movie called Father Daughter Time, but he eventually dropped out. That film is also known by the much longer title of Father Daughter Time: A Tale Of Armed Robbery And Eskimo Kisses, but that subtitle is probably something just added to the screenplay’s title page that was never intended to be the real title. This week, we learned that the new director of Father Daughter Time will be Gavin O’Connor, whose most recent film was the Rotten action thriller The Accountant. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are both attached to produce Father Daughter Time, but there’s no word yet as to whether either of them might play the titular father. Only one of Gavin O’Connor’s last four films as director received a Fresh Tomatometer score, which is why we’re calling this one of the week’s Rotten Ideas.
We’re still a week away from the January 20th release of xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, but its star Vin Diesel is already talking about a sequel. While at the film’s London premiere this week, Vin Diesel recounted a recent story, saying that while doing an interview, he was asked by Paramount executive Brad Grey whether “everyone” could come back for filming the fourth film in May (2017). That is… pretty much all there is to this story. We’re calling this one a “Rotten Idea” (despite not knowing how high a Tomatometer score the third movie will earn) if only because the first two were indeed both Rotten.
Over the last several years, Christmas movies have featured a few variants on Santa Claus. There was Tim Allen’s contractually obligated replacement in the Santa Clause movies, 2011’s Arthur Christmas (about Santa’s son), and 2007’s Fred Claus, starring Vince Vaughn as Santa’s brother. Those movies are obviously very male-centric, however, which leads us to the next obvious Santa replacement concept, which we can easily imagine being pitched like this: “What if Santa had a daughter?” Pitch Perfect star Anna Kendrick is now in talks to star in Nicole as exactly that character, who is forced to take over the family business after Santa retires and her brother gets “cold feet” on Christmas Eve. (We should note that the Nicole title is tentative, with some sources saying the movie is currently untitled.) This “daughter of Santa” comedy is based at Walt Disney Pictures and was written by screenwriter Marc Lawrence, whose Tomatometer has lots and lots of Rotten splotches, which is why this is one of the week’s “Rotten Ideas.”
For movie fans who follow movie development news like their own personal dreams of movies they’d like to see someday, it’s possibly always been fun to imagine what films Martin Scorsese might take on. One project that Scorsese has been trying to get going for many years now is a biopic about famed Italian crooner Frank Sinatra. The appeal for Scorsese is obvious on many levels, including the fact that Sinatra was Italian-American, and like Howard Hughes (The Aviator), his shadow stretched across half the 20th century (including the movies). Well, it appears that the dream of a Martin Scorsese-directed Sinatra biopic will have to stay exactly that, because this week, Scorsese was quoted as saying that he can’t make the movie. Here’s what he said: “We can’t do it!… I think it is finally over. They (remaining members of the Sinatra clan) won’t agree to it. Open it up again and I’m there! Certain things are very difficult for a family, and I totally understand. But, if they expect me to be doing it, they can’t hold back certain things. The problem is that the man was so complex. Everybody is so complex — but Sinatra in particular.” The news that we’ll probably never get to see this promising biopic is even worse than hearing someone with a lot of Rotten Tomatometer scores is making a movie, so it’s the Rotten Idea of the Week.