Man’s best friend, the giant robot, gets a little more love as Netflix drops its third season of Voltron: Legendary Defender. In celebration, we’ve bolted together one heckuva mecha list: Choose and upvote your favorite giant robots from TV and movie history.

Plenty of new releases are making their way to theaters this weekend, but there’s only one wide release — because if you’re forced to choose between opening opposite one of Michael Bay‘s Transformers movies or simply moving to a different week, it’s usually best to pick the latter. In honor of Transformers: The Last Knight‘s arrival, we decided to take a look back at Bay’s directorial output, but with a twist: instead of arranging it by Tomatometer, we’ve lined up these releases in order of opening week box office. Get ready to push the awesome button, because it’s time for Total Recall!


Use the up and down arrows to rank the movies, or click here to see them ranked by opening weekend box office!

Transformers: The Last Knight is out this week! Take a look back and upvote the Transformers movies you like, and lay waste to the ones you don’t — including the animated one!

We bet those pesky xenomorphs are getting smug now that their last two movies, Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, have gone Certified Fresh.

Enough with the space jockeys, unqualified cartographers, and people who run in straight lines: How about terrorizing someone who can put up a real fight? Vote on our 10 suggestions below or leave your dream Alien deathmatch in the comments!

This week’s Ketchup covers ten headlines from the arena of film development news from the last seven days. Included in the mix this time around are stories about such movies as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Charlie’s Angels, an Evel Knievel biopic, War of the Planet of the Apes, and new roles for Ice Cube and Jennifer Lawrence.


This Week’s Top Story

DISNEY TO GIVE MARY POPPINS A SEQUEL 50+ YEARS LATER

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As we frequently cover in the Weekly Ketchup, Walt Disney Pictures is currently in the midst of reviving many of their classic animated films as live action reboots and remakes. Not all of Disney’s hits from the middle of the 20th Century were (100 percent) animated, however, such as 1964’s Mary Poppins, based on the first novel in the series by P.L. Travers (as depicted in Saving Mr. Banks). Possibly confusing matters, some this week reported that Disney was going to “remake” Mary Poppins, but what they’re actually doing is rather more conventional (and one might guess, in keeping with Travers’ intentions). Walt Disney Pictures has started development of a new Mary Poppins musical movie which would be a sequel set 20 years after the original movie in the 1930s. This new Mary Poppins musical will be directed by Rob Marshall, whose filmography includes Chicago, Nine, and last year’s Into the Woods. For the film, the songwriting duo of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray, Smash) will start working on new songs that will attempt to follow up on the classics written for the first movie, like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “A Spoonful of Sugar.” There’s no word yet about who Disney might be hoping to cast as the older Mary Poppins, or any of the members of the Banks family.


Fresh Developments This Week

1. DARREN ARONOFSKY MAY DIRECT CHANNING TATUM AS EVEL KNIEVEL

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One of the biopic projects that has been kicking (and jumping and rocket-cycling) around Hollywood since the 1990s has been the idea of an Evel Knievel movie. “Evel Knievel” might not be as well known a celebrity as he was in the 1970s, but during that time, Knievel was arguably one of the most famous figures in pop culture, following a series of well-publicized super stunts (some of which weren’t successful) on both motorcycles and a steam-powered rocket called the “Skycycle X-2.” In the past, stars such as Johnny Knoxville and Matthew McConaughey have been rumored or attached to star as Evel Knievel, but lately, it has been Channing Tatum who wanted to put on Knievel’s star-spangled jumpsuit. The project, which may be based on the Pure Evel biography book, is now being discussed with director Darren Aronofsky, whose filmography as director includes Black Swan, Noah, Requiem for a Dream, and possibly closest to an Evel Knievel movie, The Wrestler. In other Channing Tatum news, his superhero movie Gambit this week lost its director, Rupert Wyatt, over scheduling conflicts, as Fox is racing to get the movie made in time for an October, 2016 release.


2. WILL DC COMICS MOVIES START BEING FUNNY WITH BLUE AND GOLD?

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One of the complaints movie fans sometimes have about recent DC Comics superhero movies is that they are less “fun,” or at least less “funny,” than their counterparts at Marvel Studios. This was a notion that some felt gained traction last year with a story that claimed that WB has a “no jokes” policy about their upcoming superhero scripts. Of course, that never necessarily meant that Warner Bros couldn’t change their plans, especially if they started to think that there would be a backlash over it, right? That might at least be one way to interpret the late-breaking news this week that Warner Bros is starting development of a movie focusing on the Blue & Gold team of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. Like many of DC’s characters who aren’t Batman, Booster Gold and Blue Beetle are usually portrayed in the comics as being less serious and/or comedic. Blue Beetle is your typical inventor-turned-superhero (who was given a dark interpretation as Nite-Owl II in Watchmen). Booster Gold is a more unique concept, as a time traveler from the distant future who uses technology and knowledge of past events to make a name for himself in our time.  Reportedly, WB is also hoping to recruit screenwriter Zak Penn, who worked on The Avengers for Marvel, to come across town to work on Blue & Gold.


3. ELIZABETH BANKS TO DIRECT CHARLIE’S ANGELS REBOOT

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With Sony’s plans for a female reboot of Ghostbusters now less than a year away from release (7/15/16), the studio is now looking at other female-centric action comedies. The latest that we’ve heard about involves rebooting a TV-show-adaptation from 2000 (and a sequel in 2003), which was the private eye comedy Charlie’s Angels. The director that Sony has recruited for their Charlie’s Angels reboot is Elizabeth Banks, who is in high demand following her successful directorial debut with this year’s Pitch Perfect 2.  The reboot doesn’t yet have a screenwriter yet, so it’s probably a few years away from happening. It’s also unknown if Elizabeth Banks might also take one of the female leads (or who knows, maybe “Charlie” could be a lady this time?).


4. JENNIFER LAWRENCE MAY STAR IN SPY MOVIE RED SPARROW

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(Photo by Frazer Harrison / Staff / Getty Images)

In the arena of comic book adaptations, female spies and superheroes often have similar codenames, including Black Widow, Black Canary, and Mockingbird (from ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.).  That last one in particular is also similar to the last two movies in the Hunger Games franchise, which is close enough for us to call that a successful segue. 20th Century Fox is currently hoping to put together a package for a spy novel adaptation called Red Sparrow (again, with the color/bird codenames!). What Fox is trying to put together is a new film for both Jennifer Lawrence and director Francis Lawrence (the director of all of the Hunger Games movies except the first one). If Jennifer Lawrence signs on to star in Red Sparrow, she will be playing a young Russian spy and “trained seductress,” who is assigned to “operate against Nathaniel Nash, a first-tour CIA officer who handles the agency’s most sensitive penetration of Russian intelligence.” Red Sparrow is an adaptation of a novel by Jason Matthews.


5. X-MEN DIRECTOR TO JOURNEY 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA

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A few years ago, director Bryan Singer returned to the X-Men film franchise for X-Men: Days of Future Past (and next year’s X-Men: Apocalypse) after starting things off in the early 2000s with the first two X-Men films. This week, we learned that Singer has chosen his next film, and that it won’t be a fifth X-Men movie. Instead, Bryan Singer is taking on an adaptation of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the classic science fiction story about a high-tech submarine called the Nautilus. Singer’s movie is expected to be produced by 20th Century Fox (also the home of the X-Men franchise). That also means that this project is not the same as the long-in-development reboot that Walt Disney Pictures has been trying to get started, which at one point had David Fincher (Fight Club, Gone Girl) attached to direct. As for the future of the main X-Men film franchise, there have not yet been any announcements outside of spinoffs like Deadpool, Gambit, The New Mutants, X-Force, and a possible X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover. With X-Men: Apocalypse, the team’s second trilogy of films will be concluded.


6. WOODY HARRELSON CAST AS HUMAN VILLAIN IN WAR OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

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Although the (movie) summer of 2015 only ended a few weeks ago, much of Hollywood’s current focus is already on the summer of 2017, given the time needed to get expensive summer movies greenlit, cast, produced, marketed, and released. One such film will be 20th Century Fox’s third film in their rebooted Apes franchise, War of the Planet of the Apes (7/14/17).  Details aren’t yet known about this third film, except that following the events of 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, humanity’s future was looking quite dire, and the word “war” isn’t exactly a positive portent. For that reason, it shouldn’t be surprising that the humans will be the villains in War of the Planet of the Apes. This week, we learned that the main human villain (“The Colonel”) will be played by Woody Harrelson, who is looking for a new franchise with The Hunger Games wrapping up on November 20.  


ROTTEN IDEAs OF THE WEEK

3. ICE CUBE TO STAR AS THE NEWEST SCROOGE IN HUMBUG

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Following the success of both Ride Along and Straight Outta Compton (which was essentially an “Ice Cube biopic”), Universal Pictures is very much interested in staying in the Ice Cube business. This was manifested this week by the news that Universal Pictures has won a studio bidding war to acquire a comedy spec script for Ice Cube to star in. The comedy is called Humbug, and much like the Bill Murray comedy Scrooged, it’s a contemporary retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. If the deal comes together, Ice Cube will play “a wealthy real estate mogul shown a path to redemption by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.” Humbug will be directed by Tim Story, who previously worked with Ice Cube on Barbershop, First Sunday, Ride Along, and next year’s sequel, Ride Along 2.  Story also directed the 2005 and 2007 Fantastic Four movies, which now despite having RT scores of 27 and 37 percent have the distinction of being the best reviewed Fantastic Four movies to receive theatrical releases. In similar news (insofar as the connection between Ice Cube and Straight Outta Compton goes), Universal Pictures is also reportedly considering producing another rap industry biopic in the form of an adaptation of the non-fiction book Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money + God, about the early years of Def Jam records.  If Universal does proceed, an early rumor suggests that they may be considering casting Jonah Hill and Fantastic Four star Michael B. Jordan as Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, respectively.


2. PROLIFIC ACTION STAR LIAM NEESON TO BE… THE REVENGER

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(Photo by Larry Busacca / Staff / Getty Images)

The problem with basing the “Rotten Ideas” each week objectively on the aggregated RT Tomatometer scores of those involved, is that sometimes the numbers are misleading (there is such a thing as luck, and it’s not always good). Or sometimes people are punished by bad reviews for trying to operate outside their wheelhouse. Take for example, director Ruben Fleischer, who debuted in 2009 with the genre spoof Zombieland (90 percent on the Tomatometer), and then followed that up with three films as director or producer that have all struggled to receive RT scores above 45 percent. Then, there’s the case of Liam Neeson, who has appeared in plenty of well-received films, but partly because he’s so prolific, he’s also appeared in many (and in recent years, more) Rotten films than Fresh ones. Putting those two creatives together leads us to this week’s news that Liam Neeson has signed with Universal Pictures to star in an action comedy called The Revenger. Nothing is known about the premise, except that the title suggests that it’s possibly a spoof. There’s also the detail that the comedy pitch came from the writing team of The State/Reno 911 stars Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, who have given us such wacky comedies as Balls of Fury, Herbie: Fully Loaded, and the first two Night at the Museum movies (though as writers, their Tomatometer only has one Fresh score, Starsky & Hutch).


1. DETAILS EMERGE FROM TRANSFORMERS “WRITERS ROOM”

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Earlier this year, the news cycle was populated several times about (many, many) different writers who were recruited by Paramount Pictures to participate in a “writers room” experiment for their Transformers franchise. The concept is that for two weeks, the same soundstage where dance recitals for Glee were held was used for over a dozen high profile screenwriters to pitch and “workshop” various ideas on where the Transformers franchise should go next. This week, we learned some preliminary details about two of the first projects to emerge from this experiment.  The first such film is the least surprising, which is that there will be a straight up fifth Transformers movie, and the second to feature Mark Wahlberg in the lead role after last year’s Transformers: Age of Extinction. That film will be written by Akiva Goldsman (Batman & Robin, Insurgent), who had also been sort of leading the writers room project. Michael Bay was initially reported to be returning to direct Transformers 5, but Bay quickly replied via Twitter, “Re: directing TF5. No, it’s not official. I have not committed to any idea as of yet.” The other project announced this week comes from screenwriters Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari (who are described as Ant-Man writers, but they were not credited on that film). Their film will be an animated Transformers movie focusing on the history of the planet Cybertron, and how the Transformers came to be. Barrer and Ferrari are also working on a new Sabrina the Teenage Witch movie.

The week in Hollywood movie development news — following last week’s announcement of Disney’s plans for Star Wars Episode VII — seemed almost late-August-like in terms of relative activity. What did make the news this week included stories about The Giver, Tarzan, Transformers 4, the not-going-to-happen-anymore sequel to Top Gun, and yes, indeed, more stories about Star Wars Episode VII.


This Week’s Top Story

MARK WAHLBERG WAS THE LEAD IN TRANSFORMERS 4 BEFORE HE WASN’T THE LEAD (BUT NOW HE IS FOR REAL)

Two weeks ago, there was a story that made the rounds online that Mark Wahlberg was talking to director Michael Bay about starring in Transformers 4, as part of the new post-Shia-LaBeouf cast. And then, Michael Bay posted on his official site that, no way, of course not, he was just talking to Mark Wahlberg about some other completely different movie that totally wasn’t a new Transformers movie. What did happen this week was that Michael Bay returned to his official blog to say that, yes, now, he actually was considering Mark Wahlberg for Transformers 4 (and also that other mysterious movie, presumably). And that led, all of a full day later, to Mark Wahlberg being confirmed as the lead in Transformers 4, which Paramount Pictures has scheduled for June 27, 2014. Now, there appear to be two possibilities here. First of all, maybe Michael Bay really was talking to Mark Wahlberg (his star in the upcoming Pain and Gain) about some other movie that the director isn’t ready to announce yet. And then, the Internet’s reaction so inspired Bay that he actually started talking to Wahlberg about Transformers 4 within the last two weeks. The other possibility is that there never was a mysterious other movie, and Michael Bay was just, oh what’s the word… Anyway, that’s all moot now, because we now know who will be replacing Shia LaBeouf and/or Josh Duhamel, and it’s not the previously rumored/reported Jason Statham.

Fresh Developments This Week

#1 THE WEEK OF NEWS FOLLOWING THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF STAR WARS EPISODE VII

The announcement last week of Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and their plans for Star Wars Episode VII led to one of the longest paragraphs ever printed in the Weekly Ketchup, as this writer tried to squeeze in as much news as possible. That movie, however, is far larger and of more interest than just one link-filled story. And so, here’s another. The biggest, most important news to know is that Disney may already have a screenwriter for Episode VII (and possibly Episode VIII and IX too). Screenwriter Michael Arndt, who wrote Little Miss Sunshine, cowrote Toy Story 3, and cowrote next year’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, has turned in a 40-50 page treatment for Star Wars Episode VII that includes the roles of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo. That doesn’t, however, mean that Arndt necessarily has the job, although he may at least be credited for “story” if elements of his treatment are eventually used. That story also mentioned that Arndt’s treatment would be crossing the desks of directors Brad Bird (The Incredibles), J.J. Abrams (Star Trek), and Steven Spielberg (does anyone need his credits listed?). For certain, many director’s names will be mentioned before someone is actually signed, and indeed, in the same week, we heard that Zack Snyder, Quentin Tarantino, and the aforementioned Steven Spielberg all denied interest in taking over from George Lucas. Another name that got mentioned this week was Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass), but that’s probably mostly just because he recently dropped out of directing X-Men: Days of Future Past (which was probably because he’s directing Mark Millar’s The Secret Service for 20th Century Fox). Finally, going back to Leia and Han, both Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford commented this week about returning to their roles (answer: of course, and maybe, with the Bill Murray Ghostbusters 3 clause).

#2 THE LONG AWAITED MOVIE ADAPTATION OF THE GIVER MIGHT FINALLY HAVE A DIRECTOR

Yes, that’s a corny title, but some times the easy choice is the correct choice. Anyway, the idea of a movie based upon the Newberry Medal winning children’s novel The Giver by Lois Lowry has been around pretty much since the early 2000s, when the success of Harry Potter made the “kids lit” market so appealing to Hollywood. As a quick catch up, The Giver is set in a futuristic utopian society (as opposed to a dystopian society like in The Hunger Games) where one person knows all the secrets of the past, and the book is about a 12 year old boy whose turn is next for becoming… The Giver. I’ll leave discussions about the use of “utopian” and “dystopian” to commenters down below who have either read the novel, or glanced at its Wikipedia page. Actor Jeff Bridges acquired the rights to The Giver back in the 1990s with the idea of his father Lloyd Bridges playing the old man. Along the way, Lloyd Bridges died in 1998, and Jeff Bridges started looking old enough that he himself could just go ahead and play the aged vizier himself. That much has been known for a while now. What’s new this week is that the job of actually directing The Giver may be going to Phillip Noyce, who is in early negotiations for the job. Earlier in his career, Noyce directed the two Harrison Ford Jack Ryan movies (Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger), but he’s spent much of his career directing less box office friendly movies like Rabbit-Proof Fence and The Quiet American, until in 2010, he went back to the spy game with Salt. If there’s still a young audience around for The Giver, this might be an opportunity for Noyce’s biggest box office earner yet.

#3 SNL ALUMNI KRISTEN WIIG AND BILL HADER REUNITE AS THE SKELETON TWINS

Former Saturday Night Live costars Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader (who’s now in his 8th season on SNL) also played two of the funniest characters in 2009’s Adventureland. Now, the two are signed to reunite in an indie comedy called The Skeleton Twins as two (not identical, obviously) twins who touch base with each other after they both cheat death on the same day. Anna Faris was previously expected to play the Kristen Wiig role, and Luke Wilson will also costar. The Skeleton Twins will be the second film from director Craig Johnson, whose first film True Adolescents is sometimes lumped in with the “Mumblecore” scene. Black Swan cowriter Mark Heyman also cowrote The Skeleton Twins with Craig Johnson.

#4 FOUR TIME HARRY POTTER DIRECTOR DAVID YATES SWINGS ONTO THE SCENE OF TARZAN

The name of David Yates (who directed the last four Harry Potter movies) has appeared in this column quite a bit over the last year or so, as Warner Bros has repeatedly tried to lure Yates into directing one of their next movies. That list includes (but possibly isn’t exclusive to) the Al Capone biopic Cicero, the true story Your Voice in My Head, and the Stephen King post-apocalyptic adaptation The Stand. Well, now we finally have an answer for what David Yates will actually direct next, and it’s Warner Bros’ long-in-development attempt to reboot Edgar Rice Burroughs’ once popular jungle adventurer Tarzan back on the big screen. There had been some questions as to whether Tarzan should move forward after the domestic failure of ERB’s John Carter, but maybe people then remembered that the two characters are nothing alike, and that Warner Bros is not Disney. The next question is who exactly Yates and Warner Bros will find to play Lord Greystoke in what could potentially be a series of films. That short list reportedly includes future Superman Henry Cavill, Pacific Rim star Charlie Hunnam, Inception/The Dark Knight Rises star Tom Hardy, and True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgard. Of those four, only Skarsgard is not best known for a Warner Bros project (except that HBO is a corporate sister of, that’s right… Warner Bros).

#5 TIM ROBBINS CELEBRATES BOB ROBERTS NOT BECOMING A REALITY BY… DIRECTING ANOTHER MOVIE

Actor Tim Robbins has directed three feature films to date, all of which were released in the 1990s (Bob Roberts, Dead Man Walking, and Cradle Will Rock), and then he focused the 2000s on other things (like the play Embedded). Now, Robbins is returning to feature film directing with a (dysfunctional) family comedy called Man Under, about an upstate New York family whose lives change when they are the subject of a MOMA photography display. Tim Robbins will also star as the pater familias, with Michelle Pfeiffer and Chloe Grace Moretz playing his wife and daughter, respectively (obviously).

#6 KRISTEN STEWART AND BEN AFFLECK GET THE FOCUS ROLES PREVIOUSLY INTENDED FOR GOSLING AND STONE

At one time, Crazy Stupid Love costars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone were expected to reunite with that film’s writers for a movie that they (Glenn Ficarra and John Requa) also directed, called Focus. That didn’t actually happen, however, and so instead, that same movie will feature Ben Affleck and Kristen Stewart in the leading roles, which also adds a possibly creepy older-man-much-younger-woman angle to a movie that previously didn’t have that vibe at all. That might actually be the point, because the way that Focus is described now, it’s about a “veteran” con man who gets involved with a “newcomer.” The idea of Kristen Stewart playing against a much older man might not have mattered as much, except there was a certain much publicized story earlier this year. Something to do with Snow White and the Huntsman.

#7 NICK NOLTE AND JEREMY IRONS JOIN THOMAS JANE’S WESTERN A MAGNIFICENT DEATH

The usually rare mini-genre “indie western” seems to be experiencing a resurgence, with such titles as Jane’s Got a Gun and Bone Tomahawk making the news in the last few months. There’s also the studio remake of The Magnificent Seven starring Tom Cruise that might get made in the next year or so. Another title for the mix is A Magnificent Death, which will be directed by actor Thomas Jane (who previously directed 2009’s Dark Country), who also cowrote the script. Thomas Jane will also star in the movie, along with Nick Nolte and Jeremy Irons. What will probably not be the feel good comedy of the year involves “one man’s journey for redemption in the ruthless West — where an ex-soldier is relentlessly tracked down for the murder and rape of a well-to-do woman. He must face mercenaries, tribal warriors, and women of sin to clear his name and uncover the true story behind the manhunt.”

Rotten Ideas of the Week

#2 TONY SCOTT’S DEATH SHUTS DOWN THE TOP GUN SEQUEL

When director Tony Scott took his own life on August 19, 2012 by jumping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge in the Los Angeles port districts, the future of many of the projects he had been developing were potentially put into jeopardy of never happening. This week’s news concerns the previously planned Top Gun sequel, which has now been confirmed as pretty much being over. Paramount Pictures will however still proceed with the rerelease of the original movie as Top Gun 3D, which is expected to happen in Feburary, 2013. This is a Rotten Idea not so much because of any optimism about the actual quality of a sequel to Top Gun, but is rather just a reflection of how much it sucks that Tony Scott isn’t around anymore. On the lighter side, here’s a picture of Tom Cruise in an oversized mech suit. Try looking at that face and not smiling.

#1 PEOPLE ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT A CASABLANCA SEQUEL AS IF IT’S A GOOD THING

Later this month will be the 70th anniversary of the premiere in 1942 of Casablanca, the World War II drama starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, and Peter Lorre, about the various comings and goings in a Moroccan nightclub in the days before an impending takeover by Nazi forces. That is at least how the movie would need to be described if Casablanca wasn’t already one of the most cherished and well known films of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Either because of or despite that fact, the notion of a sequel to Casablanca has been a recurring news story since before almost-cast-as-Rick Blaine actor Ronald Reagan became president. Probably because the anniversary is indeed looming, a lengthy piece was run by The New York Post this week about the efforts of the heirs of some of the people behind Casablanca to actually get a greenlight for a sequel. There’s much too much to reprise here, but the gist is that one of the original cowriters of Casablanca went to his grave after a lifetime of trying to get a sequel made. That sequel would have involved the adult son of Rick and Ilsa searching for his long lost father, presumably in the 1980s (when the sequel was originally attempted to be made). This story basically has more questions than answers, such as who would play those iconic characters today, who would expand Howard Koch’s treatment today, who would direct, etc. In other words, basically everything that would have to happen for this project to become something more than… the subject of a lengthy piece by The New York Post.

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.

It wasn’t too long ago that Megan Fox found herself at the dizzying center of the celebrity maelstrom. Through no particular fault of her own, she was teetering on the brink of media overexposure — the kind that comes from the usual perception of someone (and more often an actress) suddenly becoming too big, and too fast. Fox’s well-publicized (and rather humorous) feud with her Transformers director Michael Bay lead to her being dismissed from the third installment (quick: try and remember the name of her replacement), while her would-be star vehicle — the hopelessly misunderstood Jennifer’s Body — bombed with critics and audiences.

Yet Fox’s career is taking an arguably more interesting turn now that the white light of scrutiny has subsided: she’s got roles in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up sequel This is 40 and Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator on the way, and this week stars as part of the ensemble cast of Jennifer Westfeldt’s Friends with Kids. In the well-received comedy-drama, Fox plays Mary Jane, the much-younger girlfriend of single-dad-with-a-twist Adam Scott, while getting to act alongside a cast that includes Westfeldt, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph.

We got a chance to chat with Fox about the experience recently, as well as her thoughts on doing more of this kind of comedy in the future. Read on for that, but first, she reeled off her five favorite films. (And for being the first person to pick Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, well, we salute her.)

The Lord of the Rings trilogy (Peter Jackson; 2001, 2002, 2003; 92%, 96%, 94% Tomatometers)


Well number one — and we have to count it as one or else it’s take up my whole list — is The Lord of the Rings. That’s pretty self-explanatory. I read the books when I was a kid and Peter Jackson just created this incredible world and environment that you get caught up in. It’s amazing.

How to Train Your Dragon (Peter Hastings and Chris Sanders, 2010; 98% Tomatometer)



Number two — you’re not gonna believe me [laughs] — number two is How to Train Your Dragon. You should see it. It’s sad, it’s sweet — it’s a really good movie.

Kung Fu Panda 2 (Jennifer Yuh, 2011; 81% Tomatometer)



Kung Fu Panda 2. [Laughs] I really love that.

You really like those animated movies, huh.

I really love kids’ movies. I watch them constantly. I don’t know, it’s nostalgic I guess. I don’t know why I love them so much.

The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming and King Vidor; 1939; 100% Tomatometer)



The Wizard of Oz, which I grew up with. That has always been one of my favorites. It’s a classic.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trilogy (Steve Barron, Michael Pressman, Stuart Gillard; 1990, 1991, 1993; 44%, 36%, 27% Tomatometers)



Finally — and this is a series as well — the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies. The original three are just… [sings] “Go ninja, go ninja, go!” I just really loved those movies.

I do love the first one. How old were you when you saw them?

I was must have been really young — maybe five or six when I first saw them. And I think they still hold up. [Laughs] My husband laughs ’cause he thinks they’re so terrible, but I love the animatronic puppets. I just love the old school, the practical — you know, there’s no CG. I prefer the original Yoda in Star Wars as opposed to the CG Yoda. I love puppets and animatronics.

I’m with you. He needs to go and rewatch those films. That should be your mission.

To make him a believer? [Laughs] I’ll try.

Next, Fox chats about her role in this week’s Friends with Kids, why she enjoys playing comedy, and her experiences working with Judd Apatow and Sacha Baron Cohen.

 

Let’s talk a little about Friends with Kids. This is an ensemble comedy, and a different kind of movie for you. How’d you get involved?

Megan Fox: I think that there were a few names that Jen [director Jennifer Westfeldt] was considering to play Mary Jane, and she came over to my house to meet with me about it. We ended up talking for hours. I think it was maybe three hours, and we were talking about astrology and nothing that had anything to do with the movie — but we ended up getting along well so it sort of came about that way.

Adam Scott, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph — you got a fine cast to work with there. What was that like?

Well they’re all… first of all I feel like they were such a safe choice to make, because the movie’s gonna be amazing because the talent in the movie is so high. There’s so many really strong comedians and fantastic actors in it, and I just wanted the opportunity to get to work with them. I sort of felt the pressure was off of me, you know — I didn’t have to carry it or do anything spectacular to move the story along. It wasn’t really about me, which I really appreciated. I really enjoyed the process of that. And they’re also all good friends, which I feel like is an easier environment to work in and walk in to — as opposed to this sort of awkward, get- to-know-you stage that people go through when the entire cast has not met one another and is not familiar with each other.

With that pressure off, did you get a taste for doing more of these kinds of smaller films?

Yeah, I love it. I also really enjoy being a part of an ensemble cast. It was fun to go to work every day, and that’s a nice feeling to have — to wake up and be happy that you’re going to work. It’s not always that way.

It sounds like you don’t miss being part of a huge juggernaut production.

Ah… I don’t. There is something about filming those types of movies that is so [laughs]… there’s a lot of adrenalin each day because you never know what’s gonna happen, and literally going to work was dangerous. It was like, “Well, who on the crew is gonna almost get blown up today?” Which was, you know, there’s something really fun in it — I mean, it’s psychotic, but there’s something really fun and kind of frighteningly enjoyable about doing that. But you can’t always do that. [Laughs] That’s sort of a once-in-a-lifetime, or you maybe do that a couple of times, but you can’t make a living out of doing that. It’ll kill you.

 

You’ve done comedy before: Jennifer’s Body, for example, which most people unfortunately didn’t get—

[Sighs] I know.

Is comedy something you’d like to pursue?

I mean, I’m much more comfortable doing comedy. It feels, I don’t know — it’s a better environment for me and I just enjoy it more. That’s not to say that I’ll be successful at doing it, but right now I at least have more fun on comedy sets.

There’s less chance of getting blown up.

[Laughs] Exactly.

What was it like working with Judd Apatow on This is 40?

I love him. He’s such a nice guy. I never saw him get angry or impatient; he’s just this big, happy kid who also happens to be a genius. The way he shoots is so open and so creative. There’s so much improv on his set, it’s crazy. I don’t know how he has the foresight to take all of that and make it into a movie, because he has endless hours of material of all of these comedians that just spend all day improv’ing in these scenes. I loved working with him; he’s one of my favorite people.

And you’re in The Dictator — that’s just a cameo?

Yeah, it’s just a cameo I shot one day. [Laughs] But, you know — it’s Sacha, so it’s gonna be really interesting. It pushes some boundaries. I had a good time. He was a gentleman, but he’s really hysterical and very funny. That was a good experience as well. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I think it’s probably going to be really funny.

Did he stay in character while he was filming?

Yeah he did. He was in character the whole time. He would come out of character for a few minutes, but he has this song — he has this sort of chanting — that he would do to get himself back into his Dictator character, which he would do right as we were rolling


Friends with Kids is in theaters this week.

This week’s Ketchup includes news for the latest movies in the Star Trek and Transformers franchises, sequels for Grown Ups and The Lincoln Lawyer, an American Psycho remake, biographical movies about Charles Dickens and WWE wrestler Chris Benoit, and new movie deals for (likely) AARP members Anne Rice and Stan Lee.


This Week’s Top Story

MICHAEL BAY’S TRANSFORMERS TO EXPLODE AGAIN IN ALL THE COLORS OF THE RAINBOW, AS LONG AS THEY’RE ORANGE AND CYAN

The trilogy is a common limitation put upon movie franchises simply because there is a shared perception that sequels start to have diminishing returns. This is not always the case, however, as demonstrated by Paramount Pictures’ three Transformers movies, which started with a worldwide take of $709 million, followed in 2009 and 2011 by $836 million and $1.123 billion, respectively. And so, this weeks’ should surprise very few people. Michael Bay is reportedly in final negotiations with Paramount Pictures to produce and direct a fourth movie in the Transformers film franchise. No concrete details have been revealed about this fourth film yet, except that Shia LeBeouf’s character (and all related human characters) are expected not to continue as the film’s focus (including rumors in recent months that Jason Statham might be the new Transformers star). Supporting characters from the old school 1980s Transformers cartoon series may also be brought back into prominence with this fourth movie. One of the factors reportedly used by Paramount to get Michael Bay to return for a fourth Transformers movie was the studio’s agreement to first greenlight one of Bay’s pet projects, Pain and Gain, which Bay has been trying to get made since 1999 or so. Pain and Gain will be a relatively low budget ($20 million) action comedy based on the true story of a group of Florida bodybuilders who get themselves involved with extortion and kidnapping. Dwayne Johnson and Mark Wahlberg (who costarred together in 2010’s The Other Guys) have both been in talks with Paramount to potentially play two of the lead bodybuilders. Wahlberg, however, is less likely to sign due to possible scheduling conflicts. Pain and Gain was adapted by the screenwriting team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and is reportedly similar in style and tone to the Coen Brothers modern classic Fargo. Markus and McFeely were the writers of this summer’s Captain America: The First Avenger (also for Paramount), and were also among the writers of the three thus far produced Chronicles of Narnia films.

Fresh Developments This Week

#1 FREEZE, KLINGON: PETER WELLER JOINS THE STAR TREK SEQUEL

With filming scheduled to start in January, the casting process for J.J. Abrams’ sequel to 2009’s Star Trek (RT Tomatometer score, 95%) continued apace this week with three different related casting news stories. First up was the revelation of what exactly J.J. Abrams probably meant recently when he said rumors that Benicio Del Toro would be playing Khan Noonien Singh (ala Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) were “not true.” That clever little bit of wordplay didn’t necessarily mean that Khan wouldn’t be in this sequel, but just that Benicio Del Toro eventually had to drop out of starring in the movie at all. Along the way, however, the news of Del Toro’s not signing has (almost) confirmed that Khan is indeed in the sequel. Part of what helps identify Khan as the film’s villain is the news that the two front runners to replace Benicio Del Toro are Edgar Ramirez (The Bourne Ultimatum, Vantage Point) (the frontrunner) and Jordi Molla (Bad Boys II, Elizabeth: The Golden Age). The other big casting news of the week was that Peter Weller, AKA the original RoboCop and Buckaroo Banzai star, has also signed on. The one detail that has been leaked about Weller’s character is that he will be playing a “C.E.O.” Most people would tend to think that implies a huge corporation, which does not jive with 45+ years of Star Trek continuity in which corporations do not play a major role. However, what may be more likely is that in Star Trek parlance, those initials also stand for Chief Engineering Officer. Perhaps Scotty will be getting a new boss? Alice Eve also signed on for an unknown role recently, and of course, pretty much everyone with a major role from the first film except Eric Bana, Chris Hemsworth, Winona Ryder and Leonard Nimoy are likely to return for the sequel as well.

#2 THE LINCOLN LAWYER MAY GET A SEQUEL AS WELL AS A TV SERIES SPINOFF

Back in August, it was revealed that ABC is developing a pilot script for a TV series spun off from the recent Matthew McConaughey movie The Lincoln Lawyer (RT Tomatometer score, 84%), which was itself based upon a novel by Michael Connelly. This week, one of the executives at Lionsgate also let slip that the mini-studio is also developing a Lincoln Lawyer sequel, as well as the possible ABC series version (which may not necessarily feature Matthew McConaughey, by the way). No other details are currently known about the possible Lincoln Lawyer sequel, except that one would expect that if it’s a theatrical sequel, Matthew McConaughey would most likely be returning.

#3 FELICITY JONES AS THE INVISIBLE WOMAN… YET ANOTHER MOVIE EASILY CONFUSED WITH A MARVEL COMICS ADAPTATION

Sometimes one has to really dig through online sources to find what is basically a buried lead. Consider this link, which starts with an article about Daniel Radcliffe having messy habits in his home, before getting to something that is actually interesting movie news. British actress Felicity Jones, whose 2011 roles included The Tempest and Like Crazy, has signed to play the romantic female lead in The Invisible Woman, an adaptation of a book by Claire Tomalin about a 13 year relationship between Jones’ character and literary giant Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, the list goes on and on). The Invisible Woman will also be the second film as director from actor Ralph Fiennes, following his recent adaptation of the Shakespeare play Coriolanus (RT Tomatometer score, 93%). Filming of The Invisible Woman is expected to start in the spring or summer of 2012 in England, after Felicity Jones wraps filming of Warren Beatty’s untitled drama about a young woman who had a relationship with the much older Howard Hughes.

#4 TRAGIC WRESTLER CHRIS BENOIT GETS BIOPIC IN CROSSFACE

“Crossface” is the name of a wrestling move popularized by the late Chris Benoit, in which the hands are interlaced across an opponent’s face, forcing his head backwards. Crossface is also the name of a planned Chris Benoit biopic, which will question how “the combination of drug-use, depression and head trauma became increasingly impossible for him to handle.” Chris Benoit‘s life and 20 year wrestling career ended in 2007 when Benoit murdered his wife and young son before also taking his own life. Crossface is currently an independent production being produced by Dale Alexander Carnegie (whose relationship or lack thereof to author Dale Carnegie is unknown), who was also one of the executive producers of 2010’s Clash of the Titans. The Crossface script was adapted from the Matthew Randazzo V book Ring of Hell: The Story of Chris Benoit and the Fall of the Pro Wrestling Industry by former Weinstein Company staffer Sarah Coulter (no known relation to author Ann Coulter). This is one of the week’s Fresh Developments mostly because there has not yet been an actual theatrically released non-fictional biopic about a modern professional wrestler (The Wrestler and documentaries don’t count), and Chris Benoit’s story seems particularly appropriate to be the first.

Rotten Ideas of the Week

#5 WILL ANNE RICE’S VAMPIRE MOVIE FANS FOLLOW HER INTEREST IN CHRIST THE LORD?

In 2005, Anne Rice, the original modern-vampire-author-with-rabid-fans, shocked the world when she put her pen where her recently reborn mouth was, and published Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, the first of a planned trilogy portraying the life of Jesus Christ, specifically depicting Jesus around the age of 7 or 8. Producer/director Christopher Columbus’ 1492 Pictures (The Help, Rent, Christmas with the Kranks) and Korean distributor CJ Entertainment have acquired the film rights from Anne Rice to Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, and already set up a director and screenwriter. Cyrus Nowrasteh (The Stoning of Soraya M, the TV movie The Day Reagan Was Shot) will direct from the screenplay that he and his wife Betsy adapted from Rice’s historical novel. Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas based mostly upon the mixed/negative critical track record for past adaptations of her novels (RT Tomatometer scores of 60% for Interview with the Vampire, 17% for Queen of the Damned, and 6% for Exit to Eden).

#4 TWO MOVIES BASED ON STAN LEE’S POST MARVEL CONCEPTS UNLIKELY TO MAKE PEOPLE SHOUT “EXCELSIOR!”

When Marvel Comics writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby parted ways in 1969, what was left in Kirby’s wake in his move to DC Comics was a new Marvel Universe that included Black Panther, Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Silver Surfer, Thor, and oh yeah, a little something called The Uncanny X-Men. Comparing their respective post-Marvel careers, Jack Kirby went on to create Darkseid, Mister Miracle and all of the other Fourth World characters, Kamandi, OMAC and The Demon, while Stan Lee’s post Marvel career, despite receiving a lot of press, has only created one mildly known new character: Stripperella. Many of Stan Lee’s post-Marvel projects, like Mosaic and The Condor, aren’t even listen on his Wikipedia page. To his credit, Lee (at 88 years of age) does still keep making all sorts of deals for comics, TV shows and movies based on his concepts (even though most of them never end up being produced). He is truly a modern master of showmanship and deal making, and this week, we got the two latest examples, both based upon completely new post-Marvel Stan Lee ideas. First up was The Annihilator, “a new Stan Lee superhero of Chinese heritage to global audiences,” which Stan Lee sold to a new production company called Magic Storm Entertainment. The Annihilator will be adapted by Dan Gilroy, screenwriter of the Al Pacino/Matthew McConaughey movie Two for the Money, cowriter of The Fall and Freejack, and Gilroy also received “story” credit for this year’s boxing robot movie Real Steel. The other Stan Lee superhero project to make the news this week is an untitled “multigenerational superhero movie that spans several decades” that will be written, produced and directed by the team of Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. Although they are most famous for the TV series Smallville, Gough and Millar’s other projects also include Spider-Man 2, Shanghai Noon, Shanghai Knights, Herbie: Fully Loaded and I Am Number Four. Although Stan Lee’s early Marvel Comics era certainly has produced or inspired many great comic books or movies, the same can’t really be said of anything he’s done since Jack Kirby’s death in 1994 (not that the two are related… just saying), and so that’s why both of these movie concepts are Rotten Ideas this week.

#3 ANGELINA JOLIE TO FOLLOW PORTMAN AND JOVOVICH AS ACTRESSES WHO’VE STARRED IN LUC BESSON MOVIES

Although a movie star like Angelina Jolie may at any one time be attached to star in several movies, lengthy development times for any one of them often means that new projects can come along and totally jump ahead of them. Such appears possibly to be the case this week with Angelina Jolie, who is now in talks to star in a “dramatic thriller that is rooted in true scientific elements” for director Luc Besson (The Professional, The Fifth Element). If the deal goes through, filming will start in the spring of 2012, before Jolie starts filming with Ridley Scott the biopic Gertrude Bell. Other projects that Jolie remains attached to star in include the Sleeping Beauty spin off Maleficent for Disney, the long-in-development Patricia Cornwell adaptation Kay Scarpetta, and the historical epic Cleopatra. This untitled Angelina Jolie/Luc Besson project is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas mostly because one has to go all the way back to 1997 and The Fifth Element to find a >Luc Besson-directed film that had a wide release in the USA and also has a Fresh RT Tomatometer score.

#2 AMERICAN PSYCHO: A MOVIE PRODUCED IN THE NINETIES ABOUT THE EIGHTIES GETS A REMAKE IN THE TEENS

Next month’s Sundance Film Festival will mark the 12th anniversary of the world premiere of the film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho. That film was arguably the beginning of Christian Bale’s ascent to being a legitimate “movie star” (despite at that point having already been in 20 movies, Bale was a child/teen actor in over half of those). This brings us to the news that Lionsgate has begun development of a remake of American Psycho by hiring Noble Jones (one of the second unit directors of The Social Network) to start adapting a new screenplay based upon Bret Easton Ellis’ original novel. Simply put, this is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas because the world does not need a remake of American Psycho, a film that holds up incredibly well.

#1 ADAM SANDLER’S FIRST SEQUEL MAY BE GROWN UPS 2

Although Adam Sandler has starred in over 20 movies, many of them box office hits, not a single one of them was a sequel (a few were remakes). This week, however, brought the news that all of that may soon change as Adam Sandler and his frequent screenwriter and collaborator Fred Wolf have begun negotiations with Sony Pictures about a sequel to the 2010 comedy Grown Ups. Unlike most of Sandler’s bigger hits, Grown Ups was far from merely an Adam Sandler comedy, as he shared the film with costars Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider and David Spade in the comedy about junior high friends who reunite 30 years later as adults after a friend’s funeral. Adam Sandler’s signing on to Grown Ups 2 (or whatever it ends up being called) will reportedly depend upon what Fred Wolf can produce for a script. The possibility of a sequel to Grown Ups is this week’s Most Rotten Idea based upon the critical scathing the first film received, with a RT Tomatometer score of just 10% Fresh.

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook or a RT forum message.

This week’s Ketchup includes casting news for Transformers 3, director news for new versions of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Treasure Island, and news of remakes of Cinderella and Gidget.

FRESH DEVELOPMENTS

#1 MEGAN FOX TALKS HERSELF OUT OF STARRING IN TRANSFORMERS 3

Megan Fox’s rise to fame has been so fast that it might be easy to forget that before Transformers came out in 2007, she had just some TV roles and had costarred in 2004’s Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. Transformers made Megan Fox a household name overnight, but her first solo film as a star, last year’s Jennifer’s Body, was a massive box office flop. While promoting that film however, Megan Fox also said this of Michael Bay, the director of the two Transformers movies that she starred in, “[he wants to] create this insane, infamous mad-man reputation. He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is.” Whatever faults anyone may have with Michael Bay as a director or as a human being, Fox showed an ignorance of human tragedy to compare Bay to Adolph Hitler. There are plenty of people who weren’t responsible for millions of deaths that Fox could have compared Bay to. And also, if you know your boss has a temper, is it really particularly wise to go around badmouthing him? This set off a flurry of back and forth letters between various parties defending either Michael Bay or Megan Fox. In October, things seemed to have been resolved, as Bay issued a public letter welcoming Fox back for Transformers 3, promising, “no alien robots will harm you in any way during production of this motion picture.” Well, something has changed, because this week, as filming started, Megan Fox… is out of Transformers 3, to be replaced by a quickly-rewritten, new romantic interest for Shia LeBeouf’s character. The initial report was that it was Michael Bay’s decision, and also Paramount’s decision, but Megan Fox’s publicists of course immediately said that it was the actress’ decision (including the report that Bay had been “verbally abusive” to Fox). As for who will replace Megan Fox, we should know the answer very soon (since the movie is currently filming!), but the initial report is that it may be British actress Gemma Arterton (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time). As for Megan Fox’s post-Transformers future, she still has Jonah Hex coming out next month, but the advance buzz on the DC Comics adaptation is not particularly strong. This writer predicts that by 2011, we may well see the direct-to-video release of Jennifer’s Body 2: Dead Sexy, and by 2013, Megan Fox might be lucky if she gets cast in Dancing with the Stars (only to then get voted out on week 1). Transformers 3 is scheduled for release on July 1, 2011 and costars John Malkovich, Frances McDormand and Patrick Dempsey.

#2 THE RACE TO REACH 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA

A few months back, Disney scrapped plans for McG (Terminator: Salvation) to direct a new adaptation of Jules Verne’s 1869 novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, focusing on the character of Captain Nemo. Now, the studio has hired a very different director to take on the project, and it is fan favorite David Fincher (Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was of course also adapted by Walt Disney in 1954 as a live action adventure film, and was one of the studio’s earliest non-animated box office successes. The screenwriter for this latest attempt will be Scott Z. Burns, who wrote The Informant!, cowrote The Bourne Ultimatum, and also has Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion in the works (see below). Unlike McG’s Captain Nemo project, this version is expected to be a more faithful adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and not a prequel. Fincher, who recently wrapped The Social Network, is expected to probably direct another movie while waiting for the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea script. This story, however, does not end there, as the next day after Disney’s news broke, it was reported that 20th Century Fox also has a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea project in the works. But this version is set in the future. Fox’s version is being produced by Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Productions. The Scotts have been talking to Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) about possibly directing, although his development slate is very full already (including the possibility of Wanted 2). This futuristic version of Verne’s story was written by Travis Beacham, one of the cowriters of the Clash of the Titans remake.

#3 ROBERT RODRIGUEZ BRINGING NEW (LIVE ACTION) LIFE TO FRANK FRAZETTA’S FIRE AND ICE

Wildly imaginative fantasy and science fiction artist Frank Frazetta died just 11 days ago on May 10, 2010, just as the final pieces were being put into place concerning one of his most revered creations. Although Frazetta’s work was mostly in the form of novel and album covers, in the early 1980s, he worked with animator Ralph Bakshi on Fire and Ice, a fantastic and savage animated movie that used rotoscopic animation to bring Frazetta’s artwork to life. And now, director Robert Rodriguez (From Dusk Till Dawn, Desperado; the upcoming Machete) has announced that his Troublemaker Studios has finalized acquisition of the rights to make a new live action version of Fire and Ice. Rodriguez didn’t reveal exactly what he plans to do with Fire and Ice, but it seems likely that the project will utilize green screen filmmaking and CGI similar to Sin City, which Rodriguez co-directed with Frank Miller. Rodriguez had long been planning on making a new Red Sonja movie, and Fire and Ice seems like a thematic replacement for that project, as both feature scantily clad women, lots of swordplay and ample opportunities for gory action sequences.

#4 CINDERELLA IS THE LATEST DISNEY PRINCESS TO BENEFIT FROM THE SUCCESS OF ALICE IN WONDERLAND

The success of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland has led in recent months to development for live-action movies of similar properties, including multiple versions of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz and Maleficent, which will focus on the villainess of Sleeping Beauty. And now, Disney has hired a writer to adapt Cinderella as a live action movie. Disney has paid a 7 figure amount to screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (27 Dresses, The Devil Wears Prada) to adapt the classic fairy tale. which also became the studio’s 12th animated film in 1950. McKenna’s upcoming projects also include Morning Glory, starring Rachel McAdams and Harrison Ford and We Bought a Zoo, which was confirmed this week to be Cameron Crowe’s next film. There is no word yet as to whether the new Cinderella will be 3D, or what sort of changes might be made to the story.

#5 MACGYVER GETS SERIOUS SCREENWRITER TO COUNTER THE SPOOF THAT IS MACGRUBER

On the very same day that the spoof MacGruber is being released, the producers of the long-planned MacGyver movie have hired a new screenwriter whose resume seems to tell us of their very different approach. New Line Cinema has hired Jason Richman (Bangkok Dangerous; cowriter of Bad Company) to adapt the classic 1985-1992 adventure TV series for the big screen. Richman also did uncredited work on Rush Hour 3 and Ridley Scott’s very uncomedic Black Hawk Down. As The Hollywood Reporter describes the move, “New Line plans to make MacGyver straight-laced but still keep it fun.”

#6 THE TREASURE ISLAND ULTIMATUM

Director Paul Greengrass (United 93, The Bourne Supremacy) had recently been reported as being in talks with James Cameron about directing the 3D remake of Fantastic Voyage, in which scientists shrink down to microscopic size to save a dying man. The director has decided to drop out to focus instead on a “stylized adaptation” of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic pirate novel Treasure Island. This new take on the classic tale of Jim Hawkins, Long John Silver and the hunt for buried treasure is being developed at Warner Bros by one of the producers of Sherlock Holmes. There’s no word yet as to who is adapting the Treasure Island script.

#7 THE ORIGAMI KILLER STRIKES BACK: HEAVY RAIN THE MOVIE

Heavy Rain for the Playstation 3 has been a hit video game this year since its release in February, selling over 1 million copies. Back in 2006, New Line Cinema optioned the rights to the game about the search for a serial killer who leaves origami figures as a calling card. Those rights apparently lapsed, however, as this week the film rights were put up for auction. The winning bid reportedly came from Unique Pictures, the new production company of Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, former executives at New Line Cinema (apparently, they really, really wanted to make the movie after all). The gloomy visuals and themes of Heavy Rain are being compared to David Fincher’s Seven, which was an early hit for New Line under Shaye and Lynne’s control. There’s no word yet as to who Unique Pictures will hire to write or direct the Heavy Rain adaptation.

#8 MATT DAMON AND SEVERAL OTHER STARS ARE INFLICTED WITH STEVEN SODERBERGH’S CONTAGION

The next film for director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Erin Brockovich) is called Contagion, and the Warner Bros production has an impressive ensemble cast. Matt Damon, who has worked with Soderbergh previously (all three Ocean’s movies and The Informant!) will be joined by Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard and Jude Law. Of those five actors, Jude Law is the only one who is not an Academy Award winner (although Damon’s Oscar was for cowriting Good Will Hunting, not acting). Contagion is a thriller about a virus outbreak that is expected to be stylistically similar to Traffic. Contagion was written by screenwriter Scott Z. Burns, who also previously worked with Matt Damon on The Informant! and on The Bourne Ultimatum, which Burns cowrote. Scott Z. Burns is also working on the David Fincher 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea project mentioned above. Warner Bros has announced a release date for Contagion of October 21, 2011, and the movie will also be released in 3D.

ROTTEN IDEAS OF THE WEEK

#2 SCREENWRITER BROUGHT IN TO GIVE TEEN SPIDER-MAN REBOOT THAT 80S FEEL

Perhaps someone at Sony misheard their superior’s instructions when it came to hiring the latest screenwriter for their teen-oriented Spider-Man reboot. It might be understandable that they would want the script to have a certain “80s” vibe (John Hughes, Steven Spielberg, etc). What Sony got instead is someone who is IN his 80s: 83-year-old screenwriter Alvin Sargent (1980’s Ordinary People, 1973’s Paper Moon). In addition to those 30+ year old Oscar favorites, Alvin Sargent does also have the distinction of having worked on all three previous Spider-Man movies (although he was uncredited for the first one), and he had actually been working on Spider-Man 4 before the plug was pulled. Sargent is said to be giving the reboot a “production polish” on a draft by screenwriter Jamie Vanderbilt (Basic, Zodiac). This is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas, because the idea of rebooting Spider-Man to appeal to the Twilight crowd remains a questionable proposition, and Sargent’s work on Spider-Man 3 didn’t help save that movie from being a disappointment either.

#1 GIDGET GETS REBOOTED FOR THE GRANDKIDS OF HER ORIGINAL FANS

Gidget was a popular teen female character in the late 1950s and 1960s, starring in three movies with three different stars, and launching the career of Sally Field with the short-lived 1965 TV series. First appearing in the 1957 novel Gidget: The Little Girl With Big Ideas, the premise of Gidget was that she was an all-American girl who was just crazy about one of the hot new fads of the time (surfing, the Beach Boys, etc.). And now, thanks to a collaboration between the producers of Forever Plaid and the producer of Letters to Juliet and Piranhas 3-D, Gidget is in line to be revived as both a feature film and a new TV series. There’s no writers or other creative staff attached to Gidget just yet. Producer Mark Canton describes the appeal of Gidget this way, “with female surfing exploding across the globe, the time is right to bring her back in a major way.” Of course, female surfing was a pretty big thing in 2002 as well, and Blue Crush only made back a little bit more than its budget. The Gidget reboot is another Rotten idea because it feels like Hollywood trying to force a tired old franchise on today’s kids, and I have a feeling they’re too hip to ride this particular wave. Of course, they also love Twilight

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via a RT forum message.

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