(Photo by Claire Folger/20th Century Fox Film Corp.)
All Chris Evans Movies Ranked
Even if Chris Evans hadn’t played Captain America in the MCU over the last eight years, there’s all kind of evidence he’s some kind of secret comic book nerd. He played the ice-cool Human Torch in two Fantastic Four movies. He was the comic relief in The Losers. He played a jerk-ass ex-boyfriend of Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Casey Jones was his jam in the animated TMNT movie. And he was on the world’s longest train ride ever in Snowpiercer. And just what do all those movies have in common? Yep: They’re all adaptations of comic panel to the big screen.
When he’s not helping sequential art books go back into print, Evans’ other notable jobs include being in one of the few actually funny parody movies of this century (Not Another Teen Movie), reigniting the sun (Sunshine), and testing the waters of his dream career as a director (Before We Go).
But honestly, playing Steve Rogers, the dorky hot guy in the MCU (as opposed to Mark Ruffalo, who plays the hot dork), takes up so much time, it’s amazing Evans gets anything else done. And his recent films, Avengers: Endgame and Knives Out, turned out to be his best. And now you can see the rest as look back on Chris Evans movies ranked by Tomatometer!
Critics Consensus:Playing It Cool pits Chris Evans and Michelle Monaghan's easy chemistry against a screenplay that tries too hard to be quirky and clever, and the results are disappointingly lukewarm.
Synopsis: A lovestruck man (Chris Evans) enters into a platonic relationship with a woman (Michelle Monaghan) who's already engaged to someone... [More]
Critics Consensus: Chris Evans' directorial debut is modest to a fault, with a threadbare story and minimal style leaving his and Alice Eve's likable performances adrift in New York City with nowhere to go.
Synopsis: A chance encounter between two strangers (Chris Evans, Alice Eve) in Grand Central Terminal sparks a life-changing, nighttime sojourn through... [More]
Critics Consensus: While it deserved stronger direction and a more fully realized script, Michael Shannon's riveting performance in the title role is more than enough to make The Iceman recommended viewing.
Synopsis: Hit man Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) earns a well-deserved reputation as a cold-blooded killer but manages to keep his violent... [More]
Critics Consensus: Exuberant and eye-popping, Avengers: Age of Ultron serves as an overstuffed but mostly satisfying sequel, reuniting its predecessor's unwieldy cast with a few new additions and a worthy foe.
Synopsis: When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) jump-starts a dormant peacekeeping program, things go terribly awry, forcing him, Thor (Chris Hemsworth),... [More]
Critics Consensus: Danny Boyle continues his descent into mind-twisting sci-fi madness, taking us along for the ride. Sunshine fulfills the dual requisite necessary to become classic sci-fi: dazzling visuals with intelligent action.
Synopsis: In the not-too-distant future, Earth's dying sun spells the end for humanity. In a last-ditch effort to save the planet,... [More]
Critics Consensus:Avengers: Infinity War ably juggles a dizzying array of MCU heroes in the fight against their gravest threat yet, and the result is a thrilling, emotionally resonant blockbuster that (mostly) realizes its gargantuan ambitions.
Synopsis: Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet --... [More]
Critics Consensus:Captain America: Civil War begins the next wave of Marvel movies with an action-packed superhero blockbuster boasting a decidedly non-cartoonish plot and the courage to explore thought-provoking themes.
Synopsis: Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The... [More]
After months of secret talks and at least six weeks of speculation, the Walt Disney Company announced it will buy most of 21st Century Fox’s media holdings. According to reports, Disney will acquire the 20th Century Fox, National Geographic, and FX cable networks, as well as various international holdings, while 21st Century Fox will spin off Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News, Fox Business, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network to its shareholders.
While Disney’s acquisition of the complete distribution rights to the original Star Wars, National Geographic programming, and other properties had Wall Street buzzing, the merger means one important thing for fans of comic book movies and television shows: The return of the X-Men and, presumably, Fantastic Four characters to Marvel Studios.
In the late 1990s, when Marvel was an independent company nearing bankruptcy, Fox bought the film rights to both properties in perpetuity: As long as they made X-Men or Fantastic Four movies every few years, they retained control of those titles and associated characters forever.
But now that Disney is buying the studio, it will mean some of Marvel Comics’ most popular characters can finally appear alongside the stars of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and the potential for character crossovers and story line adaptations is staggering. Below are just a few ways fans win if the deal goes through.
1. The Arrival of The X-Men
Despite Marvel Studio’s attempts to position the Inhumans as their answer to the X-Men, fans desperately want the Merry Mutants to fight alongside (or against) the MCU’s roster of Iron Men, Asgardians, sorcerers, and talking raccoons. In fact, pitting the two groups against each other might be a thrilling way to introduce the X-Men to the MCU. Such a battle took place in 2012’s Avengers vs. X-Men. The story line saw the Phoenix Force return to Earth while the Avengers and the X-Men fought over how best to protect the person destined to bond with the cosmic entity.
There are some pitfalls to adapting the story, as it relies on a lot of shared history between the two groups. Wolverine, for example, is a longtime member of both the Avengers and the X-Men. But without his presence in the MCU, those connections would have to be built anew. Going into the fifth phase of Marvel’s feature film story line, the X-Men would be a completely new element (a possibility with its own set of advantages) unless there was a way to retroactively insert them into MCU history.
The 2015 event series Secret Wars saw Marvel’s mainline universe (referred to as Earth-616) merging with a number of other alternate realities published by Marvel over the years. The story is epic and insanely intricate with Doctor Doom as the supreme ruler of a feudal universe. The end result saw Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales join the main Marvel Universe and the company’s first family (Reed Richards, Sue Storm, and their children) removed entirely.
It is easy to imagine, say, Legion’s David Haller (Dan Stevens) imitating his comic book counterpart – who once ripped apart the Marvel Universe with his awesome power – to create a new MCU where mutants are an established fact.
The pitfall, of course, is the X-Men film series’ own convoluted timeline and half-hearted reboots. Which films would be considered canon? Do you retroactively call X-Men: Days of Future Past an opening shot of the Secret War? Maybe it would be better to have Deadpool laugh it off and just accept that the characters are part of the MCU now. But fans would want some sort of acknowledgement of this monumental change to Marvel’s film universe even as X-Men films suffer from a sense of reboot fatigue.
Perhaps it would be easier for Marvel to start with the comic book concept that never generated a winning film for 20th Century Fox:
2. The Return of the Fantastic Four
As watchers of the comic book industry know, the disappearance of the Richards clan in Secret Wars was more than just a story point; it was an allegedly cynical move in an ongoing battle between Fox and Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac Perlmutter. Knowing the studio was prepping a new Fantastic Four film – the infamous 2015 reboot directed by Josh Trank – he reportedly ordered the publishing division to cease publication of the title. According to the rumor, Perlmutter allegedly considered a Fantastic Four comic book to be free advertising for a Fantastic Four film Marvel would see little revenue from.
And so, longtime Fantastic Four scribe and Secret Wars writer Jonathan Hickman wrote the family out of the prime universe.
But with all media rights to the Fantastic Four were once again under one roof, Marvel Comics is free to publish the comic once more — and potentially giving fans something they crave: a Marvel Studios–produced Fantastic Four movie.
Imagine, as many fans do, a film set in the 1960s with Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm experiencing their original comic book origin. It could be something hip and poppy, in the vein of A Hard Day’s Night, with a Doctor Doom who looks and sounds the part. It would be easy to explain away their absence in the MCU as a plot of Doom’s to obscure the cursed Richards and his family. It could even make light of all the silly studio politics.
That said, there is one major problem plaguing the Fantastic Four as a film property: It’s already failed twice. Or three times, if you count the infamous and unreleased Fantastic Four produced by Roger Corman. The underlying premise of a science hero family does not sit well with the action-oriented screenwriting tropes of Hollywood studios. Even Marvel itself might have a problem adapting the concept. Perhaps it, and certainly other Marvel properties formerly controlled by Fox, would work better in the realm of television. Additionally, the rights to the Fantastic Four may not be as clear-cut as originally thought.
3. Silver Surfer as a TV Star (And Professor X for Legion)
While the Fantastic Four may make a better television program, one of their supporting characters practically screams for a TV adaptation. The recently concluded run of Silver Surfer by Dan Slott and Mike Allred stars a human character named Dawn Greenwood who is whisked away by the Surfer on a psychedelic trip across the universe. As the two journey among the stars and help people out of jams, Dawn shows the often aloof and spacey Surfer – real name Norrin Radd – the value of consideration and compassion. They also fall in love, but their relationship is challenged when she learns how Norrin became the Silver Surfer.
Like Doctor Who infused with the love story between Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Matthew Crawley (Stevens), this winning TV premise is unlike anything Marvel or Fox has produced with comic book properties so far.
Of course, having most of Marvel in one place could also clear up the way shows like Legion and The Gifted dance around their feature film cousins. Currently, the layers of bureaucracy between Marvel and the web of Fox film and TV production and distribution companies make it difficulty for either show to relate to the established X-Men film series or each other. With Marvel’s television division as the only authority, Professor X could be revealed as David Haller’s father, while Polaris could announce to her friends in the Underground that she is Magneto’s daughter. Imagine if both of these shows suddenly took to heart Marvel’s edict that “it’s all connected.”
But before we consider the potential for character crossovers, let’s go back to the Silver Surfer for a second and his possible place in the MCU. Whether he received his own series or popped up in an Avengers movie, his debut in a Marvel film or television project could herald the MCU’s next big bad.
4. Galactus or Doom as the Phase Five Antagonist
Since the first Avengers film, Thanos the Mad Titan has been teased as the group’s ultimate cosmic antagonist. But once his defeat comes in the fourth Avengers, who will pose any major threat to them in the MCU’s fifth phase?
How about someone who eats planets for breakfast?
Though the ancient and eternal devourer of worlds known as Galactus appeared in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the film re-imagined him as an amorphous alien death cloud. The character, with his thrilling Jack Kirby–designed head gear, living spaceship, and next-level intelligence, could be the sort of opponent even the combined strengths of Tony Stark, Thor, the Guardians, Captain Marvel, and Ant-Man would find overwhelming.
Alternatively, the Fantastic Four property comes with one villain who may be worth more to Marvel Studios than anyone else in the Fox-controlled library. Imagine the sudden appearance of Latveria on the MCU scene and the arrival of its absolute dictator, Dr. Victor Von Doom. Facing just about every character from Luke Cage to Reed Richards to Squirrel Girl (and in one instance, even Superman), Doctor Doom is very much the ultimate antagonist. Everyone has a bone to pick with him, and every Marvel fan laments his absence in the MCU.
Either would make worthy adversaries of the combined Marvel Studios and Fox libraries. In fact, Doom’s ubiquity as a Marvel Comics villain underscores the most thrilling aspect of the potential Fox sale: the character interactions.
5. Character Crossovers To Make Fans Weep
Hulk and Wolverine’s first meeting has never be realized in live action or even cheekily referenced in any film. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver’s real parentage is never discussed because Magneto is a 20th Century Fox property. And then there’s a story line like World War Hulk, which requires the presence of Professor X and Reed Richards to complete a counsel of power characters like Doctor Strange, Tony Stark, and Black Bolt.
Because Marvel Comics has always enjoyed crossing characters over into its various titles, the MCU has always been just a little poorer for lacking the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. A perfect example is Scarlet Witch, who first appeared in early X-Men stories before spending decades in the Avengers ranks. But that emotional tie is blunted in her MCU form. Imagine an Avengers film in which the veil is lifted and she remembers who her father is. Imagine a Secret Wars–style mashup in which she meets her father (in the form of Michael Fassbender or Ian McKellan) and the Evan Peters version of her brother. Imagine the drama and the confusion for a character who has had little to do in the MCU so far.
And that’s only one example. Consider the potential for laughs, should Deadpool and Ryan Reynolds find their way into the MCU. Relish the possibility of Chris Evans and a new Johnny Storm making a wink-and-nod reference to his own Fantastic Four past — Evans even recently joked about playing both characters in a buddy picture. Imagine the connections between Legion, The Gifted, and the upcoming Cloak & Dagger (coming in 2018 to the Disney–ABC Television Group’s Freeform). Then there are Wolverine’s constant guest appearances in every Marvel title clearing the way for him once he’s recast — Hugh Jackman has said about the likelihood of his return to the role, “the ship has sailed” — to venture far and wide to Avengers films and Hulu’s Runaways.
Provided, of course, the merger overcomes any regulatory hurdles. And though it will be sad to see one of Hollywood’s oldest studios disappear under the Disney banner, the return of significant Marvel properties to Marvel is just too exciting for fans of the characters. And now that the merger is on its way, the imaginations of fans can run wild.
Hugh Jackman delivers his slicey swan song as Wolverine in Logan, the R-rated for-realsies conclusion to the arc of Marvel’s famous X-Man. This week’s gallery pays tribute to the Marvel movies that existed before and now compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe — read on for the best & worst Marvel movies (outside the MCU)!
Pity the poor Fantastic Four. Marvel’s original superhero team has never been particularly well served on the big screen, and critics say that trend continues with Fantastic Four, a jumbled attempt to reboot the franchise that boasts talented actors stranded in an oddly morose, badly paced misfire. It’s yet another origin story: Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and his pals figure out how to teleport to another dimension, but after an ill-fated trip they all end up with superpowers — and make an enemy of the evil Dr. Doom. The pundits say that Fantastic Four has a few interesting ideas that are quickly pushed aside in favor of overripe dialogue, endless exposition, and so-so special effects.
The cheeky Brits over at Aardman Animations — the folks who brought you Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run — are masters of the witty, whimsical stop-motion comedy. However, critics say they may have topped themselves with Shaun the Sheep, an astonishing achievement that blends Chaplinesque silent-movie slapstick with a surfeit of hilarious visual gags. Shaun the Sheep encourages the rest of his flock to take a day off, which eventually leads to the disappearance of their owner into the big city. The sheep attempt to recover the farmer, and hilarity ensues. The pundits say the Certified FreshShaun the Sheep is truly inspired in its comic lunacy, and while some of the jokes might fly over the heads of the youngest viewers, it’s sure to enchant the whole family.
Meryl Streep classes up everything she touches, so it’s a little surprising to see her play a down-and-dirty rocker in Ricki and the Flash. But critics say the film has a few more tricks up its sleeve — despite its shopworn premise, Ricki and the Flash offers enough great acting and toe tapping tunes to be a little more than just the same old song. Streep stars as a singer who ditched her family to chase musical stardom. But with her estranged daughter in the midst of a personal crisis, Ricki heads home in an attempt to heal old wounds. The pundits say Ricki and the Flash isn’t earth-shaking, but it’s energetic and raggedy enough to make its formulaic elements feel fresh.
If you’ve seen Warrior or The Great Gatsby, you know Joel Edgerton has a commanding screen presence. And critics say that if the chilling, intelligent thriller The Gift is any indication, he’s got a promising future behind the camera as well. Well-to-do Simon (Jason Bateman) has a seemingly chance encounter with Gordo (Edgerton), an old high school classmate. But Gordo starts showing up everywhere Simon goes, and leaving odd gifts at his house; is there something in their pasts that prompted such behavior? The pundits say The Gift is a deeply unnerving psychological drama that sustains its tension from beginning to end.
What’s Hot On TV:
Strike Back‘s final season promises a big finish fueled by compelling characters and sensational video game-style action.
This week’s Ketchup includes movie development news stories for the superhero movies Mystique, the sequels for James Bond and Star Wars, the TV show adaptations Kung Fu and Battlestar Galactica, and new roles for Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Keanu Reeves.
This Week’s Top Story
LIONSGATE ANNOUNCES FOURTH MOVIE IN DIVERGENT TRILOGY
When Warner Bros. first announced plans to expand the seven Harry Potter books into a total of eight movies, they started a new trend for YA franchise adaptations that Lionsgate has been repeating ever since (first with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 and next with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2). This week, we learned that Lionsgate will be adding a fourth finale movie to the Veronica Roth books that hit the big screen last month with Divergent. The plan is one Divergent movie each March, starting with Insurgent (Mar. 20, 2015), followed by Allegiant Part 1 (Mar. 18, 2016), and concluding with Allegiant Part 2 (Mar. 24, 2017). Shailene Woodley will star in all four movies. Neil Burger, who dropped out of the franchise after directing Divergent, was replaced for Insurgent by Robert Schwentke, whose most recent film was last summer’s R.I.P.D.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 FROM 12 YEARS A SLAVE TO JAMES BOND #24 FOR CHIWETEL EJIOFOR?
Chiwetel Ejiofor may have lost the Best Actor race to Matthew McConaughey, but that doesn’t mean that the British actor isn’t reaping rewards for his work in the Best Picture 12 Years a Slave. Sources at MGM and Sony have told Variety that Chiwetel Ejiofor is the top choice to play the villain in the next installment (#24) of the James Bond film franchise — though nothing is official. Daniel Craig will be returning for his fourth film as James Bond, and he will be joined by returning cast members Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, and Naomi Harris. The newest Bond film will be directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty), who also directed Skyfall, and the movie is already scheduled for release on Nov. 6, 2015.
#2 JENNIFER LAWRENCE MIGHT GET HER OWN SPINOFF FILM AS MYSTIQUE
Besides next month’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, we already know about the 1980s-set X-Men: Apocalypse (May 26, 2016), a third Wolverine solo movie (Mar. 3, 2017), plans for an X-Force movie, and possible solo movies for Deadpool and Gambit. This week, for the first time, there was confirmation from franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner that another popular X-character might also be getting her own solo spinoff movie: Mystique, the shape-shifting mutant as played by Jennifer Lawrence. Writer/producer Simon Kinberg (X-Men: First Class) confirmed interest, saying, “I love what Jen Lawrence has done with her, and I feel like because she is in such a crowded ensemble, there’s so much more opportunity if you were to follow her solo.” Rebecca Romijn played Mystique in the first three X-Men movies, which are set in a different period (and possibly a different timeline) than the two movies in which Jennifer Lawrence has appeared as Mystique so far.
#3 TINA FEY AND AMY POEHLER REUNITE AS SISTERS IN THE NEST
Saturday Night Live alumns Tina Fey and Amy Poehler work together so regularly that they will eventually need sections of their Wikipedia pages devoted to the other. Some examples of their professional partnership include anchoring “Weekend Update” on SNL, starring opposite each other in the 2008 comedy Baby Mama, and co-hosting the last two editions of the Golden Globes. And now, we know that Amy Poehler is in final negotiations to join Tina Fey in the Universal Pictures comedy The Nest. They will play two adult sisters who spend one last weekend in their childhood home after their parents put the house up for sale. The Nest will be directed by Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) from a script by Paula Pell, a longtime member of the Saturday Night Live writing staff.
#4 PETER MAYHEW RETURNING AS CHEWBACCA IN STAR WARS EPISODE VII
Filming has already started on Star Wars Episode VII, but except for returning stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford — along with Girls‘ star Adam Driver as a villain — Disney has kept most of the cast a secret. This week, however, the studio confirmed a fourth returning cast member, and it’s Peter Mayhew, the 69-year-old (and 7-foot-tall) British actor known for playing Han Solo’s Wookiee friend Chewbacca. No other details have been revealed yet, but one good guess is that 30 years after Return of the Jedi, Chewbacca is possibly showing his age (cue the Star Wars fans who actually know his age). Anthony Daniels is also expected to return as C-3PO, but that hasn’t officially been confirmed yet. We also learned this week that Star Wars Episode VII will be filming for four weeks starting in May in Abu Dhabi, which is almost certainly going to be for scenes set on Tattooine, Luke Skywalker’s home planet. Walt Disney Pictures will release Star Wars Episode VII on Dec. 18, 2015.
#5 KEANU REEVES TO ASK “WHO’S THERE?” IN KNOCK KNOCK FOR DIRECTOR ELI ROTH
Horror director Eli Roth has mostly avoided working with big movie stars on movies like Cabin Fever, Hostel, and The Green Inferno, but that will be changing with his next film, a psychological thriller called Knock Knock. Keanu Reeves will play a happily married man whose life is turned upside down when two young women (Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas) show up at his house while the family is away. Eli Roth starts filming Knock Knock in Santiago, Chile on Apr. 14th.
#6 CLASSIC 1980S SCIENCE FICTION COMIC BOOK DREADSTAR NOW IN DEVELOPMENT
He may not be as famous as some of Marvel’s other creators, but comic book writer and artist Jim Starlin had a remarkable run at Marvel in the 1970s, and you could argue that we wouldn’t be getting Guardians of the Galaxy without him. Jim Starlin gave the characters Captain Mar-Vell and Adam Warlock the “cosmic” revisions they’re famous for, and also co-created Shang-Chi, Guardians of the Galaxy members Drax the Destroyer and Gamora, and cosmic super villain Thanos (the purple guy at the end of The Avengers). As with most characters created for Marvel, all of it remains the company’s property. In the 1980s, however, Jim Starlin created his own long-running “space opera” title for Marvel-owned Epic Comics which was character-owned, and this week, that creation Dreadstar got its own movie deal. Production companies Benderspink (We’re the Millers, A History of Violence) and Illuminati Entertainment are teaming up for Dreadstar, which tells the story of the last survivor of the Milky Way galaxy, Vanth Dreadstar, who teams up with a motley band that includes a mystic, a telepath and a cat-man-alien. In related news this week, Nathan Fillion revealed he might have a small role in Guardians of the Galaxy, saying, “Maybe check the credits of the movie when you watch it.” That could either mean he appears in the movie’s credits scene, or that his role is so obscure, you would only know what it is by looking for his name.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 MATT DAMON MIGHT STAR IN GRAVITY-ESQUE SPACE SURVIVAL ADVENTURE THE MARTIAN
The downside to a movie being as successful as Gravity was last fall is that Hollywood then starts greenlighting similar movies, hoping that lightning can strike the same spot twice. That reasoning is why this story is one of the week’s “Rotten Ideas,” but only a borderline one, since the movie in question, The Martian, might end up being awesome on its own merits. Matt Damon is being eyed by 20th Century Fox as a potential star for The Martian, which is about a stranded survivor of a manned mission to Mars who is left behind on the planet and must figure out a way back to Earth. The Martian was formerly a project for director Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods), but Goddard has left The Martian to focus his time on developing The Sinister Six for Sony, which he is in talks to direct, possibly for release in 2017. (Drew Goddard has been working on The Sinister Six as writer and likely director since last fall.)
#2 THIS WEEK IN MOVIES BASED ON 1970S TV SHOWS: KUNG FU, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
It may have been a coincidence, but this week saw news for two different (previously announced) projects at Universal Pictures based on genre TV shows from the 1970s. The one that you probably saw the most about on your Facebook feed is the movie reboot of Battlestar Galactica, the NBC series that premiered in 1978 as an obvious reaction to the success of Star Wars. Director Bryan Singer was previously attached to the reboot, but it appears that he departed to focus his time and energy on his various X-Men projects at Fox. Universal has hired screenwriter Jack Paglen (Transcendence, Prometheus 2) to work on the screenplay following Singer’s departure. The other 1970s TV show adaptation at Universal to make the news this week is the Kung Fu movie, which Baz Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge) is now in talks to direct. The addition of a director with such a strong visual flair is certainly interesting for a project that most people had probably forgotten even existed, but… then you remember what Baz Luhrmann’s RT Tomatometer page looks like these days. Both of these movies are “Rotten Ideas” because, really — why is Hollywood still adapting 1970s TV shows?
#1 GERARD BUTLER TO STAR IN METEOROLOGICAL DISASTER MOVIE GEOSTORM
In this last entry, we’re going to consider two movies that would seem to have absolutely nothing in common, except that they really do. Back in the 1990s, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin had a partnership that gave us the strange trio of Stargate, Independence Day, and Godzilla. Again, coincidentally, this week saw two different movies announced for each of them. Let’s start with Dean Devlin’s Geostorm. The Warner Bros. science fiction adventure has Gerard Butler attached to star as a “stubborn but charming satellite designer, who when the world’s climate-controlling satellites malfunction, has to work together with his estranged brother to save the world from a man-made storm of epic proportions. A trip into space follows, while on Earth a plot to assassinate the president begins to unfold.” Dean Devlin wrote and will direct Geostorm. Roland Emmerich’s news story this week doesn’t seem as ridiculous — at first — and then you remember that the director is Roland Emmerich, who seems outs of his depths with Stonewall, the story of the 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a popular bar for New York’s gay and transgender community. The incident, which went on to be known as the “Stonewall Riots,” is an important event in the history of gay rights. But for the guy who gave us 10,000 B.C. and the 1998 Godzilla? Noble, but still a “Rotten Idea.” Jeremy Irvine of War Horse is the first actor to sign on.
This week’s Ketchup may be covering the last seven days and the first day of April, but there are no April Fools Jokes here. Actually, what we will find are a surprising number of movie development news stories involving Academy Award winners like Amy Adams, Mel Gibson, Brad Pitt, and Meryl Streep.
This Week’s Top Story
DOCTOR DOOM CAST IN THE FANTASTIC FOUR REBOOT
This was arguably a slow news week, and the blame for that can probably be assigned to Tuesday being April 1st. Some movie news was likely held back — not just that day but the whole week — to avoid people thinking the stores were a joke. The day did, however, bring one big movie news story: 20th Century Fox announced that British actor Toby Kebbell (RocknRolla, The Conspirator) has been cast as Doctor Doom in The Fantastic Four. If negotiations go through, Kebbell will join the already announced titular quartet of Jamie Bell (The Thing), Michael B. Jordan (Human Torch), Kate Mara (Invisible Woman), and Miles Teller (Mister Fantastic). The Fantastic Four reboot joins Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (7/11/14) (also from Fox) and Warcraft (3/11/16) as one of three high profile franchise entries that Toby Kebbell has coming in the next two years. 20th Century Fox has scheduled The Fantastic Four for release on June 19, 2015. Kebbell’s casting wasn’t the only FF news this week, however, as “Nerdist” also reports that Doctor Doom will be aided in the reboot by Doombot robots, who Doom will control “telekinetically.” It’s not yet known why someone who can telekinetically control an army of robots would bother with the robots at all (why not just throw rocks and cars and stuff?). Meanwhile, in other 20th Century superhero movie news, the studio this week hired newcomer screenwriter Jack Stanley to work on their planned sequel to Chronicle, which also featured Michael B. Jordan (who will most likely not be returning for the sequel, for obvious reasons).
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 WILL FERRELL TO STAR IN THE RIGGS/KING TENNIS MOVIE MATCH MAKER
Will Ferrell has attached himself to star as Robert “Bobby” Riggs in Match Maker, a sports dramedy which will tell the true story of the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Riggs and female player Billie Jean King. The movie is being adapted from this article at ESPN.com, which includes rumored connections to the mafia (and the suggestion that Riggs threw the match to pay off gambling debts). It’s not yet known who will play Billie Jean King, or her husband at the time, Larry King (who was not, unfortunately, a radio talk show host). Will Ferrell has not yet won an Academy Award, which may seem like a non-sequitur, until you get to…
#2 ACADEMY AWARD WINNER HOLLY HUNTER JOINS THE CAST OF THE MAN OF STEEL SEQUEL
Casting news stories continue to trickle out for the Man of Steel sequel with Batman and Wonder Woman, and this week’s additions appear to have been grouped together to avoid three separate waves of speculation. Academy Award winner Holly Hunter, Australian actor Callan Mulvey (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and Japanese actress Tao Okamoto (The Wolverine) have all been cast in the sequel. The press release makes a point of making this sentence its very own stand alone paragraph: “All three actors will play characters newly created for the film.” The subtext is pretty clear: no, Holly Hunter’s not playing Hippolyta, or Catwoman, or Dr. Amanda Waller, or Harley Quinn, or the original Red Tornado. So, who do the commenters down below think will play Hippolyta, Catwoman, Dr. Amanda Waller, Harley Quinn, and the original Red Tornado?
#3 ACADEMY AWARD WINNER MERYL STREEP TO ROCK OUT WITH HER FROCK OUT IN RICKI AND THE FLASH
Meryl Streep has signed with TriStar Pictures to star in the musical dramedy Ricki and the Flash as “a guitar-wielding, hard rockin’ mamma by night and grocery store checkout lady by day.” Academy Award winner Jonathan Demme (Philadelphia, The Silence of the Lambs) will direct from a screenplay by Academy Award winner Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult). Sensing a pattern here? This is how studios stack the deck for a future “awards season.” Ricki and the Flash will mark Meryl Streep’s third movie in which she sings, following Mamma Mia! and the upcoming Into the Woods.
#4 ACADEMY AWARD WINNER BRAD PITT TO RETURN TO WORLD WAR II
(Admittedly, that title is a bit misleading because Pitt won his Oscar for producing 12 Years a Slave, not for acting in it.) Regardless, we’ve got a streak going with those titles. Much as Meryl Streep is lining up her third movie with singing, Brad Pitt is strongly considering a third movie set during World War II, the first two being Inglourious Basterds and the upcoming tank adventure Fury. We don’t really know much about this untitled project yet, except that it’s a “romantic thriller” written by Steven Knight (Eastern Promises), and filming might start in early 2015.
#5 ACADEMY AWARD WINNER HELEN MIRREN TO STAR IN NAZI ART THEFT DRAMA THE WOMAN IN GOLD
Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, and Daniel Bruhl are in various stages of negotiations and/or signings to star in The Woman in Gold. The movie is based on the true story of Maria Altmann, a Jewish holocaust survivor “who fought the Austrian government to get back several paintings by Gustav Klimt that were pilfered from her family during wartime.” Ryan Reynolds will play Altmann’s attorney, and Bruhl will play the attorney for the Austrian government. The Woman in Gold will be directed by Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) for The Weinstein Company.
#6 ACADEMY AWARD WINNER MEL GIBSON HAS “TAKEN” THE LEAD IN BLOOD FATHER
The success a few years ago of Taken has done wonders for Liam Neeson’s bankability, but you know, it’s not like he’s the only actor of a certain age with an accent and the ability to communicate a simmering rage. Mel Gibson’s got all that, and the rage… Don’t even get us started on the rage. And so, Gibson is now in talks to star in Blood Father, “a Taken-style action thriller” about “an ex-con who reunites with his estranged wayward 16-year old daughter to protect her from drug dealers who are trying to kill her.” Blood Father is already scheduled to start filming in New Mexico next month under the direction of Jean-Francois Richet (Mesrine: Killer Insinct, Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One), whose Tomatometer has enough red tomatoes to earn this film a “Fresh Development” spot with or without Mel Gibson’s help.
#7 AMY ADAMS AND EMILY BLUNT UP FOR TWO DIFFERENT MOVIES FOR THE DIRECTOR OF PRISONERS
Last fall’s Prisoners sort of arrived and departed movie theaters without much ado. Indeed, this week, the film’s director Denis Villeneuve nearly got more press for two completely different movies than that movie itself received the week it came out. First up, there’s Story of Your Life, a science fiction drama about a language expert recruited to start communications with aliens after their space ships start landing all over the planet. Amy Adams is now in early talks to star as that aforementioned linguist. The movie that appears like it might happen first, however, is a thriller called Sicario (Spanish for “hitman”), which Emily Blunt (and breaking news: Benicio del Toro!) is in final talks to star in. Sicario is about a police officer from Arizona who travels to Mexico with two mercenaries to track down a drug lord. What’s unclear is which roles Emily Blunt (the cop, maybe?) and Benicio del Toro (any of those roles?) are going to be playing.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#2 ZAC EFRON TO BE FORCED TO PRACTICE LAW IN JOHN GRISHAM’S THE ASSOCIATE
Zac Efron, for whom Academy Award wins (or even nominations) continue to prove elusive, is now producing an adaptation of John Grisham’s The Associate, with Efron also attached to star. The 2009 book is about a recent Yale Law School graduate who is blackmailed into taking a job at the world’s largest law firm, where he is forced to spy on the behind-closed-door negotiations between two powerful defense contractors. You can check out Zac Efron’s verdant display of green splotches on his Tomatometer here.
#1 THE PINK PANTHER GETS A REBOOT, SANS CLOUSEAU
Yes, there is an animated character called The Pink Panther, and yes, he’s appeared on TV a few times over the years, but when you look up “pink panther” on Wikipedia, he’s not even what comes up. No, of course not, because The Pink Panther is a comedy classic, as were a few of its sequels, and the “Pink Panther” of the title was basically just a joke that didn’t have anything to do with the actual movies (except appearing in the credits). The true main character of the Pink Panther movies is, of course, Inspector Clouseau (most famously played by Peter Sellers, and most recently, by Steve Martin). So, of course, it would just be silly to imagine a movie called The Pink Panther without Inspector Clouseau. With that in mind, MGM has announced plans for a animation/live action hybrid comedy about The Pink Panther, with absolutely no French police detectives named Clouseau. Perhaps most oddly, the movie is still being described as a “caper.” This version of The Pink Panther will be directed by David Silverman (The Simpsons Movie, The Road to El Dorado).
This week’s Ketchup includes movie development news stories about the Marvel movies Doctor Strange and The Fantastic Four, sequels for Mean Girls (sort of) and Ride Along, and new movies starring Jennifer Aniston, Tina Fey, Will Smith, and Meryl Streep.
This Week’s Top Story
THAT AWKWARD MOMENT WHEN YOUR STARS JOIN THE FANTASTIC FOUR REBOOT
With filming scheduled to start in just a few weeks in Baton Rouge, it was fairly obvious that we were going to be getting a big announcement from 20th Century Fox about the casting of the Marvel reboot The Fantastic Four. What that announcement ended up including was two of the actors that have been mentioned for months now, another previously announced candidate, and only one new name. Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan from the recent comedy That Awkward Moment will play Mister Fantastic and The Human Torch, respectively. That pair of recent costars will be joined by Kate Mara (Rooney Mara’s older sister) and Jamie Bell, who costarred together in the upcoming indie boxing drama Fighting Jacob, as Invisible Woman and Ben Grimm (AKA The Thing), respectively (obviously). This announcement also brought with it confirmation that the reboot will be joining The Amazing Spider-Man and Marvel’s cinematic version of Nick Fury in being inspired more by Marvel’s “Ultimate” comics than the mainstream Marvel stories. In Ultimate Fantastic Four, instead of gaining their abilities from cosmic rays during a space mission, the “Fantastic Four” have their origin instead in a sort of think tank for young scientific geniuses. Probably not coincidentally, Ultimate Fantastic Four was cowritten by Mark Millar, who is now acting at 20th Century Fox as a creative consultant on all of their Marvel Comics adaptations. The Fantastic Four will be released on June 19, 2015, and will be directed by Josh Trank, who also previously worked with Michael B. Jordan on the superpowers movie Chronicle.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 WILL SMITH TO INVESTIGATE SUPER POWERS IN BRILLIANCE
It was just two weeks ago that we learned that Will Smith had finally and officially dropped out of starring in the Independence Day sequel, and this week, we learned what he might be doing at around the same time instead. Smith is now in early talks with Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures to star in their “potential tentpole” called Brilliance. Based upon a recent science fiction novel by Marcus Sakey, Brilliance is “set in a world where some people called ‘brilliants’ are born with heightened cognitive abilities, the story follows a federal agent whose extraordinary gift makes him exceptional at hunting terrorists.” Will Smith would be playing that federal agent who investigates “brilliants” such as a woman who is able to be “invisible” by having an innate knowledge of where people aren’t looking. Brilliance will be directed by indie filmmaker Julius Onah in his studio feature debut, from a script by David Koepp (Panic Room, Spider-Man). Will Smith’s next released movie will be the romantic comedy Focus, which was recently scheduled for February 27, 2015.
#2 MARVEL’S SHORT LIST OF POTENTIAL DOCTOR STRANGE DIRECTORS CONJURED FORTH
Marvel Studios is very good at measuring out their news stories so that every week gets at least one or two mentions in stories like The Weekly Ketchup. The biggest one this week was actually the first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, but that’s less “film development” than “film publicity.” This week’s big story in that department involves a short list of four directors that Marvel Studios is reportedly considering for the job of directing Doctor Strange. Marvel has taken some interesting chances in the past (like say, Kenneth Branagh on Thor), and most of these are less obvious possibilities like that. The four names are: Mark Andrews (codirector of Pixar’s Brave), Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair), Dean Israelite (the upcoming found footage movie Welcome to Yesterday), and Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies). All four resist stereotyping, and aren’t “action” directors (Brave comes closest). Doctor Strange is, of course, Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme, and so the movie promises to really open up the “mystical” side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which we may get our first glimpse of with Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Age of Ultron). Doctor Strange will probably come out in either 2016 or 2017.
#3 JENNIFER ANISTON TO BE ONE OF THE MEAN MOMS
As sort of a quasi-sequel to their hit comedy Mean Girls, New Line Cinema is preparing to start filming on a comedy called Mean Moms. Mean Moms will be adapted from the Rosalind Wiseman nonfiction book Queen Bee Moms and King Pin Dads, which was a sequel to her book Queen Bees and Wannabees, which was the inspiration for the movie Mean Girls. Since the title is plural, we can presume there will be more than one Mean Mom, but we now know that one of the leading ladies might be Jennifer Aniston. Mean Moms will mark the feature film debut of Beth McCarthy-Miller, who has directed episodes for dozens of TV shows, including 11 seasons of Saturday Night Live (1995-2006).
#4 TINA FEY TO STAR IN (NOT REALLY) WACKY MIDDLE EAST COMEDY THE TALIBAN SHUFFLE
Speaking of SNL, Tina Fey also landed a new job this week. The former 30 Rock star will star in The Taliban Shuffle, which was adapted by 30 Rock writer Robert Carlock from the Kim Barker memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tina Fey will also produce the dramedy about an American female journalist working in the two Muslim nations in 2002. Paramount Pictures is still looking for a director.
#5 WAHH, WHAM BAM, THANK YOU, MA’AM! MERYL STREEP TO STAR IN SUFFRAGETTE
Meryl Streep is continuing her career of portraying real life figures in “Oscar bait” type prestige films this week by signing on to play iconic political activist Emmeline Parkhurst in the British drama Suffragette. Streep joins the already cast Carey Mulligan, who will star as Maude, “a foot soldier of the early feminist movement.” The next day, Ben Whishaw and Brendan Gleeson were also announced as having roles in Suffragette, which will be directed by Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane).
#6 JAI COURTNEY TO TRAVEL BACK IN TIME IN THE TERMINATOR REBOOT
We’ve known for a while about the casting of two of the characters in the Terminator reboot that might be called Terminator: Genesis. Jason Clarke will play John Connor, and Emilia Clarke will play his eventual mother Sarah Connor. This week, we finally learned who will be travelling back in time and fathering his former (and future) boss. If that reads as convoluted and difficult to follow… hey, time travel! Anyway, the honor of playing Kyle Reese will go to Jai Courtney, who is probably best known for playing John McClane Jr. in last year’s A Good Day to Die Hard. Whatever it’s called, the Terminator reboot will be directed by Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones, Thor: The Dark World), and is scheduled by Paramount Pictures for release on July 1, 2015.
#7 THE WALKING DEAD STAR NORMAN REEDUS BREATHES AIR FOR THAT SHOW’S CREATOR
This story is pretty much all about the hit AMC series The Walking Dead. Norman Reedus is one of the most popular actors to emerge from that show, and this week, he signed on for a movie which is being produced by comic book writer Robert Kirkman, whose credits include creating The Walking Dead (the original comic book). Reedus and Djimon Hounsou will star together in Air, a science fiction thriller about the caretakers of an underground bunker in a future where most of Earth’s atmosphere has been destroyed. Air will be directed by first time director Christian Cantamessa.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#2 FORMER MARVEL STARS JESSICA ALBA AND THOMAS JANE LIFT BACK THE VEIL
Jessica Alba (Fantastic Four) and Thomas Jane (The Punisher) are in talks with Blumhouse to costar together in the supernatural thriller The Veil. The story revolves around a mass suicide by members of a cult called Heaven’s Veil, and the woman (Alba) who returns to the scene after being the only survivor as a little girl. The Veil will be directed by Phil Jounou (Gridiron Gang) from a script by Night at the Museum cowriter Robert Ben Garant.
#1 RIDE ALONG HAS EARNED $122 MILLION AND COUNTING SO… RIDE ALONG 2, HERE WE GO
Ride Along has only been out for a little over a month, and has already earned over $122 million on a production budget of $25 million (with more box office surely yet to come in). And so, it should surprise pretty much no one that all of the principal players (including director Tim Story and stars Ice Cube and Kevin Hart) are coming together to start work on Ride Along 2. One audience for whom the first Ride Along was not a resounding success was film critics, who have given the movie a “Rotten” score of just 17%. Filming is expected to start in June or July of this year, in the hopes of getting Ride Along 2 in theaters possibly as early as sometime in 2015. The premise hasn’t been revealed yet, but maybe this time, Ice Cube rides along with Kevin Hart? Hey, it’s what they did with Rush Hour 2.
Enter Marvel Movie Madness, wherein Rotten Tomatoes watches all of the significant Marvel movies ever made. Full Marvel Movie Madness list here. Tune in! We give you our thoughts, and you give us yours.
Jeff: The 1994 edition of Fantastic Four was reportedly filmed with a $1.5 million budget. The 2005 version cost $100 million to make. Here’s how that extra $98.5 million paid off for audiences: Loads of awesome special effects, a couple of solid performances struggling to get out from under a cast loaded with dead weight, and a script that might actually be worse than the original.
It isn’t just that FF lurches unsteadily between moments of corny comedy and high drama, or that it plays fast and loose with the comics version of the team’s origin — it’s that, aside from a few brief moments of well-staged action, this is one extraordinarily dull film. One of the reason these characters have been Marvel cornerstones for over 40 years is that, in the books, they blend incredible adventures with the kind of petty family squabbling everyone can understand. Here, they’re just vanilla archetypes who spend most of the movie either moping around a lab or causing accidental property damage.
Matt: I remember being mostly disappointed with this movie when it came out, but it’s not quite as awful as I remembered. That might be because I had just watched the Corman version, and so this seemed a lot easier to watch, or it might be that I watched it with a seven-year-old, and his enjoyment of it colored mine (we both shouted “Wilhelm” simultaneously when we heard one in a fight scene). If you view this as a superhero movie you can watch with the kids, it’s not terrible.
The best and worst thing about this movie is the casting. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that Chris Evans as the wisecracking, irresponsible Human Torch is the best match of an actor and a comic book hero since Christopher Reeve played Superman (though Ron Perlman as Hellboy is also in the top three). And Michael Chiklis finds the perfect note for the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing. But the casting of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Girl is disastrous. Ioan Gruffudd comes off like more like a salesman quoting technical specs that he doesn’t actually understand, and less like one of the smartest men on the planet. And the less said about Jessica Alba’s casting, the better.
Jeff: My experience mirrored yours to an extent, Matt — although the first time I watched this movie, it was in the theater with a seven-year-old next to me, and his sheer enjoyment did nothing to improve my experience. I braced myself for the worst this time around, and it wasn’t as awful as I’d remembered, but Ioan Gruffudd (whose name looks like something you might read on a bottle of moderately expensive Scotch) and Jessica Alba (who makes for the least convincing movie scientist since Christmas Jones) don’t do themselves any favors. It’s all about Chris Evans — at times, it’s almost like he’s acting in a different film.
Alex: Chris Evans carries this. I’ve only otherwise seen his great brief appearance in Scott Pilgrim, and now I’m really looking forward to see what he does with Captain America. As for the movie overall, I’ve got no complaints. Like Thor, Fantastic Four has a bit of fun with ridiculous premise though the movie admittedly lacks Thor‘s walloping action. The fight scenes here feel small and pedestrian, I guess about what you would expect from the guy who made Barbershop.
Say what you will about the casting (no real opinion on Gruffudd or Alba; I liked Chiklis when he was costumed up but otherwise he felt a TV actor gruffing his way through movie land), together this group does the job. The script is nimble when it tires, whipping you through various state of emotions with all the characters – I simultaneously pitied The Thing, love/hated The Human Torch, and resisted the urge to yell for Mr. Fantastic to freaking grow a pair. These are big, weird characters exposed for the first time, and in those moments when the movie is firing on all cylinders it’s a little joy to see them bounce off each other. Good ensemble work. Again, about what you would expect from the guy who made Barbershop.
This Week’s Ketchup leads off with lots of big news for three of Marvel Comics’ biggest properties (Thor, Iron Man and Fantastic Four), followed by sequels for Taken, Hard Boiled and Journey to the Center of the Earth, a revival of a Stephen King favorite, a N.W.A. biopic and more.
#1 FANTASTIC FOUR ALREADY GETTING A REMAKE
IESB.net broke the exclusive news this week that 20th Century Fox, which is developing reboots of Marvel’s Daredevil and their Planet of the Apes franchise, now also has plans to reboot Fantastic Four completely from scratch. This means none of the same cast will return, and most importantly (I think) neither will director Tim Story, who arguably exaggerated the lighter aspects of the classic Marvel Comics title, so much that it became just plain goofy and basically a kids movie. Both recent movies were hits ($290 million and $330 million), but they were also critically reviled (26% and 35% on the Tomatometer), and are generally unpopular with comics fans. IESB.net says that Fox wants the new version to be “less bubble gum” and more like Iron Man. No writer or director has been hired yet. Although I am very much in favor of Fantastic Four getting a fresh start at the movies (because I’ve been a lifelong fan and didn’t see the comic I love in the movies) it’s regrettable that the reboot will apparently not be done in conjunction with Marvel Studios, and that means that the Fantastic Four won’t be able to rejoin the rest of the Marvel Universe in any upcoming Marvel productions. As for what I hope the next version of Fantastic Four is like, here are some thoughts: A) we don’t need another origin story; B) Doctor Doom can also take a break for a while; and C) the emphasis should be on the quartet having strange adventures around the world, because to me those were always the best stories (i.e. Atlantis, Wakanda, Monster Isle, Attilan and the Inhumans, etc.)
#2 MARVEL CASTS TWO OF ITS MOVIES, AND DELAYS MORE
There was a good deal of casting news this week for Marvel Studios’ next two movies. First, there was confirmation of the lingering rumors regarding Mickey Rourke and Scarlett Johansson, who will be playing Whiplash and Black Widow in Iron Man 2. Clearing up some confusion, it was revealed that the movie version of Whiplash will be based on the villain from the comics, but also incorporate elements of the Crimson Dynamo (probably mostly the Russian part). I’m totally okay with Whiplash being reimagined for the movie, because it’s hardly like he’s one of those untouchable characters; he’s actually borderline obscure to most comics fans. As for Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanov, AKA the Black Widow, that casting choice is a lot more curious, because really she looks nothing like most depictions of her, and she’ll have to pull off a sultry Russian accent. Also getting casting buzz is Thor, with word that director Kenneth Branagh had lunch recently with Alexander Skarsgard (Stellan’s son), who is best known for his work in HBO’s Generation Kill and as a viking vampire in True Blood. Standing 6′ 4″, with blonde hair, a great build, Swedish good looks and acting chops to boot, Skarsgard seems almost too good to be true for the role of the Son of Odin. For that matter, his father Stellan could even be a pretty good choice for that role of Odin. There’s also news that Branagh is looking for Thor’s brother Loki, the God of Mischief, with Josh Hartnett reportedly being his top choice. Hartnett is interested in it as a chance to prove his chops, Heath Ledger style, which is a pretty good call considering that both Loki and the Joker are villainous “prankster” archetypes. Finally, Marvel Studios also announced a revision to their schedule this week, which bumps several movies back a year. You can check that link for the specific dates, but basically Iron Man 2 is alone in 2010 now, with 2011 having Thor, The First Avenger: Captain America and (Sony’s) Spider-Man 4, and The Avengers as one of the first major movies to claim a summer, 2012 release date.
#3 JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH 2: MYSTERIOUS TRAVELS
New Line Cinema, Walden Media and ContraFilm are reuniting for a sequel to the 3-D hit, Journey to the Center of the Earth. The plan is to adapt a pre-existing script entitled Mysterious Journeys: The Lost Map of Treasure Island by screenwriter Richard Outten (Pet Sematary II) as another adventure for the character played by Brendan Fraser. The concept of Mysterious Journeys centers around an island that was the inspiration for three different classic novels: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Mysterious Island by Jules Verne and Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (which is also being filmed this year as a movie starring Jack Black). From that, we can gather that the movie might involve pirates, giant insects, and either really tiny people, really big people or talking horses (or all three). Eric Brevig, who made his directorial debut with Journey to the Center of the Earth, has not yet committed to return for this sequel, and neither has Brendan Fraser. Here’s hoping Mysterious Travels doesn’t also feature a smoke monster.
#4 WARNER BROS BRINGING PENNYWISE THE CLOWN TO THE BIG SCREEN WITH IT
Hot off the success of Watchmen, Warner Bros has acquired the movie rights to another 1986 novel with a large fanbase: Stephen King’s It. Also made into a 1990 ABC mini-series starring John Ritter, Richard Thomas and Tim Curry, It is the story of a group of childhood friends from the 1950s who reunite in the 1980s when one of the members of their “Losers Club” dies, ultimately teaming up to fight a strange monster that lives in their hometown’s sewers and takes the form of a creepy clown named Pennywise. For the movie version, the decades are being bumped up a bit, so they will be kids in the 1980s (or maybe even 1990s?) and adults in the 2010s (by the time the movie gets made). Dave Kajganich, writer of the Warner Bros flop The Invasion, is working on the script. Tim Curry did an incredible job being creepy on a John Wayne Gacy scale as Pennywise, so it should be interesting to guess who might take on the role next.
#5 TAKEN SEQUEL IN THE WORKS… TOOK?
Although it’s buried at the bottom of the article, The Los Angeles Times broke the news this week that producer Luc Besson and frequent collaborator and screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen are already at work on a sequel to Taken, the surprise hit thriller starring Liam Neeson which has currently earned $108+ million in the U.S. No other details, such as whether Liam Neeson or director Pierre Morel would be returning, or what the premise might be about, but it’s probably a good bet that it would involve a kidnapping and someone getting very angry about it.
#6 N.W.A.’S STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON: THE MOVIE
Rappers Ice Cube and Dr. Dre have joined together with Tomica Wright, widow of Eazy-E, to produce a movie for New Line Cinema based upon their group N.W.A., which popularized gangsta rap from 1986 to 1991, despite limited radio airplay. Taking its title from their 1988 breakthrough album, Straight Outta Compton will chronicle the group’s meteoric climb to fame and controversy (best represented by the 1988 single, F*** Tha Police), their five short years together, the tumultous break up and feuds, and finally, Eazy-E’s death from AIDS complications in 1995. The trio is currently looking for a director comparable to Curtis Hanson, director of the Eminem movie 8 Mile.
#7 HARD BOILED VIDEOGAME SEQUEL BECOMING A MOVIE SEQUEL
John Woo is producing a movie adaptation of the 2007 video game, John Woo Presents Stranglehold, which was billed as a sequel to Woo’s 1992 Hong Kong cop action film Hard Boiled. That would effectively make this movie both a sequel and a videogame adaptation. The game featured the likeness of Chow Yun-Fat, reprising his role as Officer Tequila Yuen. The adaptation is being written by Jeremy Passmore (the Red Dawn remake) and Andre Fabrizio, both of whom are also working on the direct-to-DVD remake of Chuck Norris’ Missing in Action.
#8 A MOVIE VERSION OF CHARIOTS OF THE GODS?
Paradox Entertainment, the production company behind the reboot of Robert E. Howard’s Conan, has picked up the rights to make a science fiction movie based upon the bestselling 1968 book Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Daniken. Chariots of the Gods?, which was also adapted as a 1970 documentary feature film, claimed to present evidence from ancient cultures around the world that mankind had been visited frequently by extraterrestrials, who were then the inspiriation for the gods of the local religions. Ancient astronaut theories predate Chariots of the Gods?, but the book certainly popularized the notion, and science fiction of all forms has been informed by the concept for the 40 years since. Paradox has not yet lined up any talent for the movie version.
#9 SEAN PENN IN TALKS TO JOIN A CARTEL
Sean Penn is in talks with Universal Pictures to star in Cartel, his first action movie since 1998’s The Thin Red Line. Loosely a remake of the 1993 Italian film La Scorta, Cartel is the story of a man trying to protect his son after his wife is brutally killed by a Mexican drug cartel. Documentary filmmaker Asger Leth will make his dramatic directorial debut with Cartel, based on a script by Peter Craig, who is also working on the Cowboy Bebop movie. Latino Review is reporting that Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) is also in talks to play a district attorney. Universal hopes to start filming this summer, but that will depend upon ongoing negotiations with Penn, who is also in talks to star as Joe Wilson in the Valerie Plame biopic Fair Game.
#10 DANNY DEVITO’S MAKING A CRAZY EDDIE MOVIE? THAT’S INSANE!
Danny DeVito (Death to Smoochy, The War of the Roses) is producing and will direct a biopic about electronics retail entrepeneur Eddie Antar, cofounder of the Crazy Eddie store chain, who was eventually sentenced to eight years of prison on fraud charges. Although just based in four states in the New York area, Crazy Eddie stores became famous nationwide for their commercials featuring a local DJ who yelled “Crazy Eddie, his prices are insane!”, which inspired stores of all stripes around the country to use similar commercial gimmicks. In Wisconsin, for example, we had “Crazy TV Lenny.” Peter Steinfeld (Be Cool; cowriter of 21) is working on the script.
Four new releases take a gamble debuting in theaters across North America hoping to hit the jackpot with audiences. The blackjack drama 21 and the spoof comedy Superhero Movie lead the way and will try their best to reach the number one spot. Other choices for ticket buyers include the soldier drama Stop-Loss and the marathon comedy Run, Fat Boy, Run in what should be another down weekend for the industry.
Kevin Spacey leads a team of math wizards from M.I.T. to a life of card-counting riches in Las Vegas in the new Sony pic 21. The PG-13 flick stars Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, and Laurence Fishburne and is based on a true story. Teens and young adults will be the target audience here as well as card sharks everywhere. The marketing has been slick and even though the film is not all that high on starpower, the subject matter and the look should help it connect with audiences. The studio has given 21 a big push and it should play as something new for young adults to get excited about instead of the same tired old formula. Competition will be a factor though, given that some of the other new flicks will appeal to the same age range. Opening in more than 2,500 locations, 21 could debut with about $15M.
Kevin Spacey and Jim Sturgess in 21
The spoof comedy, the movie staple that won’t go away, returns again with the new film Superhero Movie from MGM and The Weinstein Company. Rated PG-13, the pic lampoons several comic book flicks like Spider-Man and Fantastic Four and will target teens and young adults looking for immature fun. Meet the Spartans proved in January that the genre still makes money thanks to its $18.5M top spot bow. However, Superhero does not look as funny as some of the recent spoof hits as commercials are lacking in the joke department. Plus it lacks the special touch that Fox gives to these kinds of films to steer them to solid debuts. Flying into 2,700 theaters, Superhero Movie could capture about $14M this weekend.
Drake Bell in Superhero Movie
The frame’s sole R-rated title is also the best-reviewed film of the lot. Paramount’s Stop-Loss stars Ryan Phillippe as a decorated soldier home from Iraq who tries to reclaim his former life in his small Texas hometown. Channing Tatum and Abbie Cornish co-star giving the film some star wattage with teens and young adults. And good marks from critics can’t hurt. But the rating could cut into some of the sales from younger teens and subject matter remotely related to conflicts in the Middle East have driven audiences away time and time again. The studio and producer MTV Films have downplayed the war element and instead wisely focused on the young hip stars. Competition will come mostly from 21 and Superhero Movie which will play to many of the same folks and carry a more commercially viable PG-13. Landing in roughly 1,200 sites, Stop-Loss could take in about $6M this weekend.
Channing Tatum and Ryan Phillippe in Stop-Loss
An overweight man fights for his true love in the new comedy Run, Fat Boy, Run which arrives in the fewest theaters of any new release. The PG-13 film stars Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead fame and could tap into his cult fan base in the U.S. which grew bigger after last year’s Hot Fuzz. Unfortunately that audience is not large enough to command big numbers at the turnstiles. Picturehouse’s sneak previews last weekend helped to circulate some buzz but most other major films have more. Mixed reviews won’t do much to spark a frenzy either. Running low on starpower, hype, and theaters, Run, Fat Boy, Run could debut to the tune of around $4M from 1,050 locations this weekend.
Hank Azaria and Simon Pegg in Run, Fat Boy, Run
Horton Hears A Who will try to become the first film of the year to threepeat atop the box office charts but will have to fend off the advances of a couple of potential new hits. Luckily the Fox toon has no direct competition for its family audience so its decline should be less than last weekend’s. A 40% drop would give the Dr. Seuss pic around $15M over three days and boost the overall tally to $114M.
Tyler Perry will see a sizable fall for his latest venture Meet the Browns since his loyal audience shows up in big numbers on the first weekend. Look for Lionsgate to lose half of its sales and bank around $10 for a ten-day total of $35M.
Fellow sophomores Shutter and Drillbit Taylor should fall hard too. The weekend could result in a 55% fall for the Fox thriller to $4.5M and 50% decline for the Paramount comedy to $5M. Totals would rise to about $19M a piece.
LAST YEAR: Two new comedies posted strong debuts to end the first quarter with a bang. Will Ferrell‘s figure skating pic Blades of Glory opened at number one with a solid $33M for Paramount. After spending two weeks on top, the sports comedy went on to score $118.6M domestically. Disney’s animated film Meet the Robinsons snagged second place with $25.1M on its way to $97.8M. The stylish actioner 300 placed third with $11.4M for Warner Bros. and was followed by the studio’s kidpic TMNT with $9.2M and Disney’s biker comedy Wild Hogs with $8.7M.
“I’m pretty sure we won’t do [another] one. I’m assuming that one is a closed book. After the first one was released we got wind of potential titles and plots [almost immediately], and I’ve heard nothing from anyone at Fox [yet]…We had all planned on doing [another] one, but if there were going to be a third, I think a week after the second one was released we would have heard.”
It would be tempting to dismiss Evans’ comments as the movie-star equivalent of “I’m taking my marbles and going home,” but he’s always been admirably forthright about the weaknesses of the Fantastic films — when promoting Rise of the Silver Surfer, he expressed hope that good reviews and/or box office would enable a third installment to “inch closer to a legitimate cast and a legitimate film.”
Of course, Evans isn’t ruling out a return to blue spandex. What with all the rumors of crossover cameos in the current crop of Marvel films, MTV thought it might be a good idea to ask him if he’d be up for an appearance as the Torch in another hero’s franchise, and Evans — who is co-starring with Keanu Reeves in April’s Street Kings — responded with “Absolutely.”