Weekly Ketchup

In The Heights' Leslie Grace is Batgirl, and More Movie News

Batgirl gets its Barbara, title and poster revealed for Jordan Peele's Nope, and Dwayne Johnson is Fast & Furiously done.

by | July 23, 2021 | Comments

This Weekly Ketchup brings you another ten headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Batgirl, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Blade, and Clerks III.



(Photo by Warner Bros.)

A common publicity strategy for really big projects is to slowly tease out a group of actors that is being considered for a role, before officially announcing who actually got the role in a following news cycler. This week, HBO Max sped the process up quite a bit for the announcement of who will be starring as Barbara Gordon, AKA Batgirl, in their upcoming solo movie. On Monday, the big news was that Warner Bros and DC Comics had “started testing” a small circle of actresses for the role that included Isabela Merced (Dora and the Lost City of Gold ), Zoey Deutch (Zombieland: Double Tap), and Haley Lu Richardson. That was on Monday. On Wednesday, the role was announced as going to Leslie Grace, one of the stars of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights. Batgirl will be directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Bad Boys for Life) as an expected 2023 HBO Max exclusive. Leslie Grace took to Twitter to exclaim, “I am BEYOND EXCITED to embody Barbara Gordon, your #Batgirl ! I cannot believeeee what I’m writing rn…”

Other Top Headlines


(Photo by Mark Johnson / ©E4/Channel 4 /Everett Collection)

We’ve known for a while that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is scheduled for release next summer on July 8, 2022, but the actual premise of the sequel is still shrouded in mystery. We can now confirm that Winston Duke will be reprising his role as M’Baku in the sequel. And the latest casting news that sent Twitter all into a flurry is that Michaela Coel (creator and star of HBO’s I May Destroy You) has joined Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in an undisclosed key role. There are dozens of characters from the comics that Coel could possibly be playing, but speculation immediately jumped to her playing Storm, who in the comics was once married to T’Challa. Of course, one of the lingering rumors about the film is that Tenoch Huerta (Narcos: Mexico) is playing Namor the Sub-Mariner. Presuming the film does deal with the political intrigues between Wakanda and Atlantis, that also opens the door to Coel playing one of the Atlanteans, like perhaps Namor’s longtime romantic interest, Lady Dorma.


Bill Murray in The Grand Budapest Hotel

(Photo by Universal)

Jordan Peele’s first two films as director (Get Out, Us) had such an impact that any news about his third movie is noteworthy, even it’s just a title and an enigmatic poster. Speaking of which, the title of Jordan Peele’s next movie will be Nope. Whatever it’s about, we do know that the stars are Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Keke Palmer (Hustlers, Akeelah and the Bee), and Steven Yuen (Minari, The Walking Dead), and that it’s scheduled for July 22, 2022.


(Photo by ThinkFilm)

Emmett Louis Till was a 14-year-old boy who was lynched and murdered in Mississippi in 1955, leading to the controversial trial and a legacy of providing the burgeoning civil rights movement an example of injustice for African-Americans. The story of Till has been told many times in documentary form, including the 2003 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award winner The Murder of Emmett Till. The true story of the aftermath of Till’s murder will soon be told as a dramatic film in Till, with Whooopi Goldberg and Danielle Deadwyler (Paradise Lost, HBO’s Watchmen) attached to play Till’s grandmother and mother, respectively. Till will be directed by Chinonye Chukwu, who won the 2019 Sundance Film Festival Dramatic Grand Jury Prize for Clemency.


(Photo by Strand Releasing/Everett Collection)

Riz Ahmed, who received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for Sound of Metal, followed that film up with a British rap drama called Mogul Mowgli. That film actually premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February of 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its release was delayed all the way until September 3rd, 2021.  Someone at Marvel Studios must’ve gotten their hands on Mogul Mowgli early because they have already started negotiating with director Bassam Tariq to direct the upcoming reboot of Blade, starring Mahershala Ali. No details have been revealed about what Marvel’s new version of Blade might be tackling first. Screenwriter Stacy Osei-Kuffour (story editor on HBO’s Watchmen and Amazon’s Hunters) was hired to adapt Blade in February, and is expected to start filming in sometime in 2022.


(Photo by Netflix/Everett Collection)

Zack Snyder started 2021 with Zack Snyder’s Justice League as one of HBO Max’s most ambitious exclusives in March. We’ve since received Snyder’s Army of the Dead on Netflix, and Snyder is currently filming the prequel spinoff series Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas, giving Snyder a new post-DC franchise.  This week, Snyder and his wife and producing partner Deborah Snyder signed a new two year deal with Netflix, and that news included the revelation that the Snyders are now officially developing an Army of the Dead sequel. That film will not, however, be produced for a while, as Snyder’s immediate priority is the science-fiction adventure Rebel Moon (also for Netflix), which is being compared to Star Wars in its scope and scale. The cast of Rebel Moon have not been announced yet.


(Photo by Amazon/Everett Collection)

Usually, when a prolific director delivers a mid-budget movie that earns over $400 million, leading to a $3 billion five-movie franchise, they become a household name. That’s not really how things have turned out for original Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, although she certainly has stayed busy. Hardwicke’s next film will be a family drama called Prisoner’s Daughter, and her stars will be Brian Cox (Succession, X2) as the titular prisoner, and Kate Beckinsale (Underworld, this week’s Jolt) as the daughter. In related news, Beckinsale also made the news this week for talking about how she pitched Marvel on a BladeUnderworld vampire movie crossover.


(Photo by TWC/Everett Collection)

When director Kevin Smith got his Clerks crew back together in 2006 for the sequel Clerks II, it was the end of a 12-year wait. As it turns out, however, the delay between Clerks II and Clerks III will have been even longer, presuming it’s released sometime in either 2022 or 2023 (making the gap 16 or 17 years). The first two Clerks movies were distributed by Miramax (as were many of Smith’s early films). Recently, Lionsgate stepped in to acquire Clerks III and get the sequel going. With a new studio home, Smith is now set to start filming Clerks III on location in New Jersey, with most of his Clerks II cast returning, including Rosario Dawson, Jeff Anderson, Brian O’Halloran, and Jay Mewes and Kevin Smith reprising their Jay and Silent Bob characters. The premise will involve Randal (Anderson) suffering a massive heart attack, which inspires him to get his friends together to make a movie about his life as a convenience store clerk.


(Photo by ©Universal Pictures)

Universal Pictures announced release dates this week for two movies that we didn’t previously know much about. Anthony Ramos (In the Heights, Hamilton), Zachary Quinto (Star Trek, TV’s Heroes), and Naomi Scott (Aladdin, Power Rangers) will star in the 2022 sci-fi thriller Distant, about a spaceship in the future that is hit by an asteroid, putting the characters in a Gravity-style survival situation.  Comedian Jo Koy will star in the second Universal movie, Easter Sunday, as “a man returning home for an Easter celebration with his riotous, bickering, eating, drinking, laughing, loving family, in this love letter to his Filipino-American community.” Easter Sunday will be directed by Jay Chandrasekhar (Super Troopers, Beerfest).


(Photo by Universal)

Your Twitter feed may have been recently full of stories of the ongoing back-and-forth between Fast & Furious franchise stars Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, but this week, it seemed to finally reach a point how the future movies will be developed. That’s because Dwayne Johnson was quoted this week as saying, “I wish them well on Fast 9. And I wish them the best of luck on Fast 10 and Fast 11 and the rest of the Fast & Furious movies they do that will be without me.” Dwayne Johnson last played his Hobbs character in Hobbs & Shaw in 2019, and there had been talk of a sequel, but in February, one of the producers suggested it might take longer than a while. And now, Johnson’s comment about “the rest of Fast & Furious movies they do without me” suggests he’s done, period.

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