Last week, we reviewed 12 of the year’s top “Fresh Development” stories, so this week, we’re looking at each month’s most Rotten Ideas, and the biggest one of the year was…
This summer, audiences and critics alike celebrated the box office and critical success (Certified Fresh at 92%) of Wonder Woman, which seemed to represent a new path for Warner Bros’ DC Comics adaptations. Neither of 2016’s DCEU movies did well on the Tomatometer: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (27%) and Suicide Squad (25%). And yet, Warner Bros is still moving forward with a Suicide Squad sequel. We know that because the news broke in July that director Jaume Collet-Serra is the frontrunner for the job. His track record on the Tomatometer is not super encouraging, with five Rotten efforts outnumbering the two Fresh scores he received for Run All Night and The Shallows. Suicide Squad 2 will presumably feature Margot Robbie returning as Harley Quinn, but that’s just the tip of DC’s commitment to milking Robbie’s popularity for all it’s worth.
We get it, an actor’s got bills to pay, fun real estate to purchase, etc. One would think, however, that Sir Patrick Stewart should be pretty much set, with both the Star Trek: The Next Generation and the X-Men franchises presumably filling his coffers with riches. So, considering Stewart is mortal like us all, and only has so many years left to turn in quality work, it was a little frustrating to hear that he made the sort of “cash grab” that January’s news reported. Movie stars are prone sign on for projects we might consider “crap” from time to time, but this week’s announcement takes that quite literally. Sony Pictures took to their Twitter account back in January to announce that Patrick Stewart will be providing the voice of the Poop Emoji in The Emoji Movie, which eventually opened on August 4th, 2017, earning one of RT’s lowest Tomatometer scores for a wide release movie with a measly 9%.
When the 2017 Academy Award nominations were announced early this year, one of the big takeaways was that “Hollywood has officially forgiven Mel Gibson.” Put in terms of film development news, that meant that movies directed by Mel Gibson would have a better chance of being produced by studios again, and that he was once again in the running for roles produced by mainstream Hollywood. That acceptance went to the next level when Mel Gibson was officially cast by Paramount Pictures to co-star in Daddy’s Home 2, their sequel to the 2015 comedy Daddy’s Home (Rotten at 31%), starring Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell. Daddy’s Home 2 did pretty good box office business, but earned a Rotten 19% Tomatometer score. Another Christmas sequel that made the news in early 2017 and released in late 2017 was A Bad Moms Christmas (Rotten at 29%).
Although Netflix receives a lot of critical love from hits like Stranger Things, the streaming service also has shown a willingness to produce movies, some of which don’t necessarily need to appeal to critics. The first and biggest deal they made was with Adam Sandler for four movies, which started with The Ridiculous Six (0%), The Do Over (5%), and Sandy Wexler (32%), with The Week Of coming in early 2018. Regardless of those three movies earning an average Tomatometer score of 12%, and The Meyerowitz Stories notwithstanding, Netflix revealed in March that they had signed Sandler for another four movies. Within a few years, we will have more Adam Sandler movies made for Netflix than there are Peter Jackson movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien books, or than there are in the Jason Bourne, Mission: Impossible, or Spider-Man franchises. In closing, we leave you with Adam Sandler’s Tomatometer, which pretty much speaks for itself.
Although Michael Bay’s first Transformers movie in 2007 did come within three points of being Fresh, its three sequels have all been even more Rotten. Talking to MTV in April, Bay (who is stepping down as franchise director after the fifth movie) mentioned that last year’s “writers room” project had led to Paramount developing 14 potential Transformers movies for the future. For those keeping count, 14 movies on top of the five we have right now would be a total of nineteen Transformers movies. As for what these movies might be, there appear to be three options: the “main Transformers” movies (like The Last Knight), the spinoffs (like next December’s Bumblebee) (12/21/18), and crossovers (like the rumored movie connecting to a new G.I. Joe reboot). The question now is whether or not any of them will ever receive Fresh Tomatometer score.
One of the most surprising release date announcements in early 2016 was the revelation that Tyler Perry was indeed turning the “joke” movie Tyler Perry’s Boo: A Madea Halloween (from Chris Rock’s Top Five) into an actual movie that would see a theatrical release and everything. Well, this year, we received another such surprise when Lionsgate announced that Perry’s Madea character would return in another Halloween “horror” comedy, scheduled for October 20, 2017. This time around, “Madea, Bam, and Hattie venture to a haunted campground and the group must literally run for their lives when monsters, goblins, and the bogeyman are unleashed.” If you don’t count 2009’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself, the highest a Madea movie (proper) has ever scored on the Tomatometer is 38% (2011’s Madea’s Big Happy Family). Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween earned a Rotten score even lower than Tyler Perry’s usual results, with just a 6% Tomatometer score.
In early 2017, there was some intimation from Chris Evans that he might soon be hanging up his shield as Marvel’s Captain America. However, there were also statements like this, which suggested an absolute end date to Evans playing the character was still unknown. In June, Evans spoke more authoritatively on the issue, naming the fourth Avengers movie (scheduled for May 3, 2019, and not to be confused with 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War) as his last film as Captain America. Said Evans, “I had six films in my Marvel contract, so I could have said after the third Avengers I was done, but they wanted to make the third and fourth Avengers films as a two-parter. They said they had so many other characters to fit in – Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man – and couldn’t get them all into one movie. [I agreed] because it made sense. It’s going to wrap everything up.” (Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel is scheduled for release in between Avengers: Infinity War and the fourth Avengers movie on March 8, 2019.)
Before the initial weekend box office results were even in yet, the Tomatometer score for The Dark Tower tagged it as a certified stinker, with a Rotten score of just 17%. Even so, reports confirmed that the long-in-development plans for a Dark Tower TV series to be spun off of the feature film would still continue. The news broke the day before the movie’s release that Glen Mazzara (showrunner of TV’s The Walking Dead) was developing The Dark Tower as a series for Sony Pictures Television. Idris Elba, Dennis Haysbert, and Tom Taylor are all expected to reprise their roles on the 10-episode series, which is expected to debut on either cable or a streaming outlet.
Universal Pictures was trying to get a live action/CGI hybrid adaptation of the popular children’s book (and PBS TV series) character Clifford the Big Red Dog going for many years (including a period in which he was used in their promotional materials). In 2016, however, after Universal’s plans to release the film in 2016 failed to work out, Clifford the Big Red Dog bounded his way over to Paramount Pictures. A year later, we learned who Paramount had hired to direct Clifford the Big Red Dog, and it was Walt Becker. Becker’s Tomatometer record is remarkably Rotten; none of his five feature films has earned a score above 16% (Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip), and one of them scored as low as 5% (2009’s Old Dogs).
Although we keep getting remakes like last month’s Flatliners that fall flat, attempts to translate that into an anti-remake narrative are deflated by remakes like IT that are huge box office successes. There are also the “remake TV shows” like The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, The Exorcist, and Lethal Weapon to consider. Both of those types of reboots have led the newly rebranded Morgan Creek Entertainment Group (the company behind The Exorcist) to announce their plans to revive their catalog of titles as either movie remakes, new TV shows, or possibly both. The three multi-film franchises that were mentioned are Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, the baseball comedy Major League, and the western Young Guns. The other films are mostly thrillers (Dead Ringers, Diabolique, Pacific Heights) and one horror film (Clive Barker’s Nightbreed). Ace Ventura and Young Guns are being eyed as both movie reboots and TV shows, with Dead Ringers and Nightbreed being developed as TV shows.
Box office diagnostics continued as we headed into the tail end of the year (like this much-shared piece about Blade Runner 2049). Any would-be franchise obviously can get stalled by box office disappointment (Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, for example, might be the last epic movie too). Universal’s The Mummy (with a Rotten Tomatometer score of just 16%), however, carried the extra burden of launching an entire “cinematic universe” for Universal (a la Marvel) called Dark Universe. Well, with the departure in November of the masterminds of that plan, namely Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, it now appears Dark Universe may never come to be (at least not as planned). This came just a month after Universal delayed production on Bride of Frankenstein and canceled the film’s 2/14/19 release date. It’s still possible that some of the reboots might happen, such as The Invisible Man, Van Helsing, or The Creature from the Black Lagoon, but they may no longer be interconnected.
As we mentioned in the Most Rotten Story above Margot Robbie is set to return as Harley Quinn in the Suicide Squad sequel. As it happens, Robbie herself is also stepping up to produce and develop new films for WB. In the past, we’ve heard that she was attached to reprise her role as Harley Quinn not only in Suicide Squad 2, but also a spinoff featuring both Harley Quinn and Jared Leto’s Joker, and Gotham City Sirens, also featuring Batman villains like Poison Ivy and Catwoman. If all of those movies get produced, we’d have at least four movies featuring Robbie as Harley Quinn, and in December, she announced plans for a fifth, a solo movie, which could actually replace some of these other films if WB wants to change priorities. Or maybe we will really have four separate franchises featuring Harley Quinn on the way. Robbie was frequently cited as one of the few bright spots in Suicide Squad, but is it a wise move on WB’s part to put all their eggs in Harley Quinn’s basket? On top of all that, there are also the multiple movies for the Joker, some with or without Jared Leto, with or without Harley Quinn. Meanwhile, DC Comics has hundreds of superheroes closer to the spirit of Wonder Woman who don’t have movie projects at all.