This Week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Tenet, and Tom Cruise’s Space Project.
We may have had to wait a few more months (from 11/15/2019 to 2/14/2020) for the character design to be redone on Sonic the Hedgehog (Fresh at 63%), but Paramount is apparently attempting to avoid too much of a wait for Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The studio has announced a release date of April 8, 2020 for the sequel, or just two years and two months after the first film, and that’s even after they already factored in the various delays right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The sequel does not have a premise yet, but the ending of Sonic the Hedgehog teased both the debut of Tails the fox, but also the villainous return of Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik (now looking even more like his video game character). Director Jeff Fowler will return for the sequel, working from a screenplay by Pat Casey and Josh Miller, who also both worked on the first film. Ben Schwartz is also expected to return as the voice of Sonic, and he may also again be joined by James Marsden and Tika Sumpter (though neither is confirmed yet). Release dates are obviously changing all the time, but other movies scheduled within a month of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 include Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (3/25/2022), The Matrix 4 (4/1/2022), and Black Panther II (5/6/2022).
Movie studios are increasingly planting “untitled” films on the release calendar these days, especially when the title in question is a new property and not a sequel, prequel, or remake. So, we’ve actually known for a while that Disney and Pixar were planning on releasing “something” next summer on June 18, 2021; we just didn’t know anything else beyond that. Normally, Disney and Pixar might have made a big announcement at San Diego Comic-Con, but that, of course, ended up being replaced by last week’s Comic-Con@Home, which had some big panels, but not as many as usual. Instead, we learned through other means (in this case, Collider) that Pixar’s next movie after Soul (11/20/2020) will be a fantasy adventure set in Italy called Luca. We also have this fairly lengthy premise: “Set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, the original animated feature is a coming-of-age story about one young boy experiencing an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta and endless scooter rides. Luca shares these adventures with his newfound best friend, but all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: he is a sea monster from another world just below the water’s surface.” Some writers are already comparing Luca to both Call Me By Your Name (thanks to the setting) and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water.
Ever since his breakout success in 2017 with Get Out (Certified Fresh at 98%), Jordan Peele has worn several hats (director, producer, and host) on a variety of horror, thriller, or related genre movies and shows, including Us (Certified Fresh at 93%), CBS All Access’s The Twilight Zone, HBO’s upcoming series Lovecraft Country, and this fall’s reboot of Candyman. We can now add another project to his upcoming filmography, as he will be producing a sci-fi horror film for Universal Pictures called Sinkhole, in which Issa Rae (The Lovebirds, HBO’s Insecure) will star. The premise revolves around a strange pit that appears in the backyard of what otherwise seems like a perfect home, with the added information that the original short story started as a writers group project with the theme, “I married a monster,” and that the story will “explore themes of female identity and perfection.”
Plenty of werewolf movies have been made since the 1920s, and along the way, the concept has certainly veered into comedy, such as with Jon Landis’ An American Werewolf in London, Michael J. Fox’s Teen Wolf, and, one could reasonably argue, with Disney’s Shaggy D.A. franchise. Now, werewolves are frequently men, but Amy Adams is now attached to star in a film called Nightbitch which will team her up with the Annapurna production company, with which she has worked four times before (The Master, American Hustle, Her, and Vice). Nightbitch, which is not technically a werewolf movie, will star Adams as a “former artist who is thrust into stay-at-home domesticity after the birth of her son, who becomes increasingly worried that she may be turning into a dog.” (Some versions of this story suggest it is actually the baby that is turning into a dog, but the official premise of the source novel, which comes out next summer, is pretty clear.)
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the USA, movie theaters remain unsure about when they will be able to fully reopen. Last Friday, we heard that Warner Bros. was considering opening Tenet internationally first and then in the United States at a later point. That plan was confirmed on Monday when the studio released a press release that the film will be released in over 70 countries on August 26, 2020 before opening in the United States a week later, just in time for Labor Day weekend, but only in “select cities.” What’s unclear is whether that Labor Day release will also then lead to a wider release for Tenet, or if it will end up adding something like a VOD release in lieu of a wide release (which may not be fully possible in September if not enough theaters are open in the USA by then). Of course, this also means that American movie fans will have to endure at least a week of possible social media spoilers during which the rest of the world understands exactly what Tenet is about.
It probably was inevitable that someone would eventually want to make a big budget movie in outer space, but the when felt further away until recently. And if any movie star was going to attempt it (and do most of his own stunts), it was also probably obvious that it would be Tom Cruise. Just two months after we first found out about Cruise’s plans to film a movie in outer space, the news broke this week that a deal has been made with Universal Pictures to fund the project with an “atmospheric” budget of over $200 million. It had already been known that the film will be directed by Doug Liman (who worked with Cruise on Edge of Tomorrow, Certified Fresh at 91%), but another name that has joined the production is Christopher McQuarrie, Tom Cruise’s recent Mission: Impossible director (who’s preparing to film movies #7 and #8 soon). McQuarrie will serve as one of the film’s producers, and also contribute story ideas (a credit just shy of actually “writing” the screenplay). In related news, Top Gun: Maverick recently became just one of the many movies to have its 2020 release date delayed until next year (7/2/2021), which is almost two years after its original release date (July 12, 2019).
In the 2000s, the popular news satire website The Onion announced that they would be getting into the movie business, but all we got was the little-seen 2008 project The Onion Movie. In that same spirit, Buzzfeed is now apparently hoping to have better success with a cinematic endeavor, as they are now partnering with Lionsgate for a theatrical film slate. Although we haven’t gotten any specific examples of what a “Buzzfeed movie” might be exactly (documentary? drama? comedy? collection of cat videos?), the press release did say that the movies will be “aimed at millennial and Gen Z audiences,” so if you’re over the age of 40 or so, these movies apparently won’t be for you. Lionsgate and Buzzfeed expect to launch their first co-production sometime in 2021.
When Neve Campbell was first announced in May to be in talks to return to the Scream franchise for Scream 5, this column predicted that we would soon hear about a few other returning cast members as well. That hunch was confirmed soon after with the news that David Arquette was returning as Deputy Dewey Riley, but it took another two months for Courteney Cox to be announced as returning as Gale Weathers. Scream 5 will be directed by the team of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (A.K.A. Radio Silence), who are currently best known for last summer’s horror comedy Ready or Not (Certified Fresh at 88%). So far, no new cast members have been announced, but presumably, that will soon change, and at this point, it’s all but expected that Neve Campbell’s return will be officially announced in the near future.
It’s not uncommon for directors, writers, or actors who first became famous for broad comedies to stretch out into more serious films. Recent examples of this include: Adam McKay (who went from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy to The Big Short); Jay Roach (from Austin Powers to Recount and Game Change); and Peter Farrelly (from Dumb and Dumber to Green Book). Someone else who appears to be heading down a similar track is Seth Rogen, who is obviously best known for “stoner comedies” like Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, and This is the End. Rogen and his producing partner Evan Goldberg are partnering with director Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name) for an adaptation of the 2017 documentary Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (Certified Fresh at 86%). Guadagnino will direct the adaptation about the life of Scotty Bowers, a former U.S. Marine who had a second career during the golden age of Hollywood as a pimp and hustler for many within the secret world of the studios and actors, frequently using a Hollywood gas station as a cover location. Details of Scotty Bowers’ life also inspired the Netflix series Hollywood. It’s not yet known who will star in this film, but one has to guess that two possible candidates might be Channing Tatum (a friend of Seth Rogen) or Armie Hammer (who starred in Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name).
Before 2020, most of us had presumably gotten pretty used to slick filmmaking and TV production styles, and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and many TV shows essentially became very well publicized Zoom calls. It was probably inevitable, therefore, that there would eventually be a movie that was filmed in that style. Although Michael Bay is also producing a pandemic thriller called Songbird that may also look like it was filmed by the actors, the movie that sounds closest to that theme is called Within/In. The project is described as a “made-at-home anthology film revolving around themes of confinement and isolation.” Within/In will feature several established actors, including Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, Chris Cooper, Rebecca Hall, Sanaa Lathan, Emily Mortimer, Alessandro Nivola, Rosie Perez, and Debra Winger. Since it’s an anthology film, we can expect there to be several individual stories, but since it’s also “made at home,” most of the actors also won’t appear onscreen together (at least not physically). Many of the actors (including Chris Cooper and Griffin Dunne) will also be taking directing credits as they’re basically directing themselves.