They’ve been a long time coming, but Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are reaching the climax with Fifty Shades Freed, opening wide this Friday. And if history is any indication (Grey and Darker are 25% and 10% respectively on the Tomatometer), Freed won’t be hitting the spot with critics, prompting this week’s gallery of the most Rotten movie trilogies ever.
This week, the Weekly Ketchup is departing from our regular Friday schedule because of San Diego Comic-Con, and all of the extra big news that it will bring throughout the weekend. So today, you get a “pre-SDCC” Weekly Ketchup! This edition brings you nine headlines from the world of film development news (those stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next). Included in the mix this time around are stories about such titles as Ghostbusters 2, Star Trek 4, a remake of Cooley High, and Edgar Wright’s Shadows.
This Week’s Top Story
THE DIVERGENT SERIES ASSIGNED TO A NEW FACTION: DIRECT-TO-TV
When film historians tell the story of the first 15 or so years of the 21st century, at least one chapter is likely to be dedicated to the “YA” fad. The movie business is by nature cyclical, but this particular wave started and seemingly has ended all within the course of eight years. It was only in 2008 that the first Twilight movie was released (the last in 2012), and The Hunger Games spanned four movies, one a year from 2012 to 2015. Those two mega-successful franchises (both from Lionsgate or subsidiary Summit Entertainment) are the rare exceptions to a rule that was much more demonstrated by box office disappointments (The Host, Beautiful Creatures, I Am Number Four, The Giver, The Mortal Instruments, etc). Until this March, the Divergent series seemed like it would be another four-films-adapting-three-novels genre success for Lionsgate. The franchise starring Shailene Woodley kept dropping, both in box office and critical reception. Even so, it was presumed by most that Lionsgate would continue their sad march towards a Divergent series wrap up. The fourth movie, Divergent Series: Ascendant, even had a release date of June 9, 2017, up against both World War Z II and Universal’s next reboot of The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise. Well, according to Variety this week, Lionsgate is changing course at the last moment, negotiating for The Divergent Series: Ascendant to be made into a “TV movie” that would then lead to a Divergent spinoff TV series (probably using different characters). It sounds like there are still many unknown variables, such as which of the “movie stars” will also reprise their roles in the “TV movie.” Shailene Woodley, who got her start in TV (Secret Life of the American Teenager) might be likely to return, but Ansel Elgort and Theo James might not. As for what channel Divergent Series: Ascendant will be produced for, we still don’t know yet. However, Starz seems the most obvious candidate since that network was just acquired by Lionsgate three weeks ago for $4.4 billion (ie, Lionsgate might have known they were doing this at the time). So, what do the fans think? Is Divergent going direct-to-TV the final death knell in the “YA novel adaptation” fad?
Fresh Developments This Week
1. DESPITE OPENING AT #2, THE GHOSTBUSTERS REBOOT WILL STILL GET A SEQUEL
When it comes to sequels, the math varies depending upon a few different factors, but the most obvious one is budget. The $46 million opening weekend of the Ghostbusters reboot, for example, would have been an obvious “franchise starter” for a movie on a $40 million budget. However, that movie was a special effects extravaganza, with a budget in the $144 million range. One of Sony Pictures’ executives confirmed soon after the box office numbers came out that, yes, they are still committed to making more Ghostbusters movies in the near future. Sony President of Worldwide Distribution Rory Brue specifically said, “I expect Ghostbusters to become an important brand and franchise… While nothing has been officially announced yet, there’s no doubt in my mind it will happen.” As for what the next Ghostbusters sequel might involve, the reboot has a scene after the credits that pretty much tells us. And we can almost certainly expect that the four female stars (Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Kristen Wiig) are probably already signed (or in negotiations) for the sequel as well (and probably director Paul Feig, too). One actor who might be tougher to confirm is Chris Hemsworth — along with his Marvel committments, it’s sounding like he will continue to be quite busy because…
2. STAR TREK 4 (OR 14) CONFIRMED… INCLUDING CHRIS HEMSWORTH AS KIRK’S DAD?
Earlier this year, it was confirmed that the “official” designation for the new timeline that started in the 2009 Star Trek reboot is “Kelvin.” That name comes from the ship that was destroyed by the time travelling baddies in the beginning of that film (if that’s a spoiler to you after seven years, well, you probably shouldn’t be reading any of this). One of the crewmen on the Kelvin was George Kirk, played by Chris Hemsworth, who of course was the father of the future Captain James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine). Kirk’s father dying so young was one of the more character-oriented changes in the Kelvin timeline (along with, you know, the entire planet Vulcan being destroyed), and this week’s news indicates we haven’t seen the last of him. Paramount Pictures, Skydance, and Bad Robot have announced the fourth/fourteenth Star Trek movie, and one of the stars will be… Chris Hemsworth as Kirk’s dad. The announcement doesn’t explain exactly how that happens, but calls him “a man he [James T. Kirk] never had a chance to meet, but whose legacy has haunted him since the day he was born.” Time travel probably is the most obvious explanation for how this will all go down (whole books could be written about time travel in Star Trek), but there are other possibilities. One other detail was revealed about Star Trek 4 this week, namely a confirmation from J.J. Abrams that Pavel Chekov, played by the recently late Anton Yelchin, will not be recast, saying, “There’s no recasting. I can’t possibly imagine that, and I think Anton deserves better.” There’s no release date for the 4th/14th Star Trek movie yet, but given the 3-4 years between the films recently, we can guess at a target window of either 2019 or 2020.
3. BROOKLYN DIRECTOR TO ADAPT PULITZER PRIZE WINNING NOVEL THE GOLDFINCH
This week, we’re giving you two editions of The Weekly Ketchup, because of the anticipated deluge of news coming out of San Diego Comic-Con. If there’s going to be one story that sort of exemplifies the difference between this first column, and the second, it’s this one (in a few ways). In 2014, after taking 11 years off, author Donna Tartt came back with her third novel, The Goldfinch, and was rewarded with the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The Goldfinch is a sprawling, decades-long American epic with elements including terrorism, art theft, and alcholism (basically, it’s a lot like Great Expectations) — in other words, it’s a little different from the comic book movies we’ll hear about this week. Warner Bros has had the film rights to The Goldfinch since 2014, and this week, we learned that the studio is now in talks with director John Crowley for him to make The Goldfinch his next film after last year’s award-winning drama Brooklyn. If he signs on, Crowley will be working from a screenplay adaptation by screenwriter Peter Straughan (cowriter of Frank, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy).
4. DREAMWORKS’ BIG PLANS FOR 2019: SHREK 5 AND EDGAR WRIGHT’S SHADOWS
The traditional “trades” are still out there covering the film business, but every once in a while they do something that reminds us they’re still not fully caught up with the era of “social media.” For example, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter still sometimes “bury the lede,” nestling the most interesting tidbits in much longer, seemingly less important articles or profiles. One example happened this week when The Hollywood Reporter ran a story about Jeffrey Katzenberg’s future, following the acquisition of DreamWorks Animation by Universal earlier this year. Sort of halfway through, you’ll find one sentence about the year 2019, during which DreamWorks Animation will release Shrek 5 and the movie now known as Shadows. We’ve covered both of those movies in the Weekly Ketchup in recent weeks and months, but the news that they are now “only” three years away is still big. There’s not much to say about Shrek 5 (except maybe that it now sounds more like a sequel, and less like a reboot, as once suggested). The movie called Shadows definitely does require a bit more explanation, though. The film, first announced last November, will mark the animation debut of fan-favorite director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz). DreamWorks has long been wanting to do an animated movie involving the concept of “shadows,” dating back to their ambitious Me and My Shadow from several years ago, and Edgar Wright’s Shadows is an extension of that.
5. DAKOTA FANNING TO STAR IN SYLVIA PLATH’S THE BELL JAR FOR DIRECTOR KIRSTEN DUNST
Kirsten Dunst is now preparing to make her feature film debut as director after directing two short films in 2007 and 2010, and she’s sort of swinging for the fences with an independent remake of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, previously adapted as a film in 1979 starring Marilyn Hassett and Jameson Parker. Originally published under a pseudonym, The Bell Jar was the only novel written by poet Sylvia Plath– she committed suicide a few months after The Bell Jar was published in 1963 — and is now interpreted as a roman à clef (a work of fiction based mostly on real events), as both the main character and Plath herself struggled with similar psychological issues. Dakota Fanning (who will turn 23 next year) will star as the novel’s central character, Esther Greenwood, a young woman whose potential future as a promising writer is rocked by her own struggles with mental health. Independent production of Dunst’s adaptation is expected to start in early 2017, possibly aiming for a debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2018.
6. RAPPER/ACTOR COMMON TO PRODUCE AND STAR IN A REMAKE OF COOLEY HIGH
Few decades were as rife with nostalgia as the 1970s (mostly for the 1950s and early 1960s). Full discussion of the “why” would require much, much more discussion, but it was probably partially due to how quickly American life had changed in 10 or so years from, say, 1962 to 1972. A few examples of this nostalgia in the 1970s were Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and at the movies, American Graffiti and Animal House. Another such film (which is arguably not as popular today as its competition) was 1975’s Cooley High, about a group of African American best friends living in Chicago in 1964. Produced for under a million dollars, Cooley High was both a box office success ($13 million) and a hit with critics (82 percent on the Tomatometer). MGM is the studio most known for remakes than any other these days (such as Poltergeist, Hercules, RoboCop, and the upcoming Ben-Hur, The Magnificent Seven, and Going in Style), and now, it’s also planning a remake of Cooley High, working with rapper-turned-actor Common, who will produce the remake as well as costar (probably as one of the teachers). It’s also possible Common might contribute at least one song to the score. As for why Cooley High, and why now? Reportedly, the producers felt that a new Cooley High would be “a timely project in light of the racial unrest that has followed several high-profile shootings throughout the country.”
Rotten Ideas of The Week
2. SILICON VALLEY/DEADPOOL STAR T.J. MILLER TO VOICE LEAD IN EMOJIMOVIE: EXPRESS YOURSELF
Although it was great that The LEGO Movie was over-the-top fun and creative in its adaptation of the titular toys, the bad news was that its success unsurprisingly inspired lots of other studios and producers to try to mine gold from traditionally non-narrative properties. One example is the “Emoji,” i.e. the little smiley faces and icons you can attach to texts and Facebook posts. To that end, Sony Pictures put an animated movie called EmojiMovie: Express Yourself into fast production, aiming for a release date next summer on August 11, 2017. And now, we know who will be providing that movie the voice for its lead character. T.J. Miller, who is probably best known for either costarring in Deadpool, or in HBO’s Silicon Valley, will provide the voice of a “meh” Emoji named Gene who finds himself conveying other emotions (because of a software glitch). EmojiMovie: Express Yourself will be directed by Anthony Leondis, whose previous films included Igor (Rotten at 36 percent) and the direct-to-video sequel Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch (also Rotten at 40 percent).
1. R.I.P. GARRY MARSHALL (1934-2016)
Obviously, beloved celebrities and filmmakers die every year, but 2016 seems particularly rough so far. We lost another of Hollywood’s most popular filmmakers this week, with the news that Garry Marshall died at the age of 81 from complications from pneumonia following a recent stroke. Marshall was a triple threat, working as a film director/writer, one of the most successful TV producer/showrunners ever, and also as a frequent comedian and actor. This included the rare feat of becoming something of a center of a “Marshallverse,” an ever expanding circle of stars and creators who all had deep ties early in their careers to Marshall. We can arguably thank him for the careers of director Ron Howard (from Happy Days), Robin Williams (from Mork & Mindy), Penny Marshall (his sister, but also his Laverne & Shirley star), and even Julia Roberts (who had her first major hit movie with Pretty Woman). Critically, Marshall’s last 25 years have been a little rough, but many of his Rotten movies were, admittedly, “barely” Rotten, right in the 50-59 percent range. The “Garry Marshall problem” might simply have been that he made the sort of broad appeal, warm-and-fuzzy comedies that audiences tended to embrace more than critics did. In recent years, Marshall had turned most of his energy towards his own mini-genre of holiday comedies: Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and Mother’s Day. Sure, none of them earned above 18 percent on the Tomatometer, but we’re still going to miss reporting on what holiday he might have adapted next. R.I.P. Garry Marshall.
In a world…where Jeff Daniels knows how everybody likes their eggs in the morning? After the last Divergent movie’s reveal of nonstop surveillance, we spoke with Allegiant‘s Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Zoe Kravitz, and Miles Teller on what embarrassing private behavior The Jeff’s fast-forwarding through. Also, Grae gets compared to Janet Reno.
This week on home video, we’ve got a YA sci-fi thriller, a couple of literary adaptations, a couple more period dramas, an indie dramedy, and a horror comedy. Read on for details:
In this sequel to Divergent, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her fellow Divergents are on the run from evil overlord Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet), who wants to exterminate the rebels and take control of futuristic Chicago’s various factions.
Anton Yelchin and Ashley Greene star in this horror comedy from Gremlins director Joe Dante about a young woman who returns from the dead to prevent her ex-boyfriend from entering another relationship.
Shailene Woodley is well on her way to becoming one of Hollywood’s brightest stars. However, critics say there’s only so much she can do to save Insurgent, a middling middle chapter with frenetic action sequences but little narrative cohesion or character development. This time out, Tris (Woodley) and her fellow Divergents are on the run from evil overlord Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet), who wants to exterminate the rebels and take control of futuristic Chicago’s various factions. The pundits say Insurgent is a definite step back for the franchise, as its excessive violence and confusing story overwhelm a terrific cast. (Watch our video interview with Woodley and co-stars Theo James, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, and Octavia Spencer, and click through our gallery of young adult novels that have been adapted to film.)
The veteran actor-shooting-people action subgenre is all the rage these days, and The Gunman has two things to set it apart from the pack: geopolitics and Sean Penn. Unfortunately, critics say it’s pretty generic otherwise, with a predictable plot and a shortage of energy. Years after carrying out a hit in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jim Terrier (Penn) is working for a humanitarian organization when he discovers he’s the target of a shadowy organization — and that his ex has fallen into its clutches. The pundits say The Gunman benefits greatly from its scenic locations, but otherwise, this is a so-so thriller that doesn’t live up to its lofty ambitions. (Check out Penn’s best-reviewed films here.)
What’s On TV:
Despite cast and broadcast changes, Community (Certified Fresh at 91 percent) manages to remain at the top of its quirky class.
An amusing variation on the zombie trend, iZombie (Certified Fresh at 90 percent) is refreshingly different, if perhaps too youth-oriented to resonate with adult audiences.
Also opening this week in limited release:
Metalhead, a dramedy about a girl who immerses herself in heavy metal as a way of dealing with the death of her older brother, is at 100 percent.
Spring, starring Lou Taylor Pucci in a horror film about an American backpacker who strikes up a relationship with an Italian woman who’s harboring a shocking secret, is at 95 percent.
Amour Fou, a drama about writer Heinrich von Kleist and his attempt to get a society woman to join him in a suicide pact, is at 94 percent.
Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, and Octavia Spencer all came out in support of their new film The Divergent Series: Insurgent. Miles Teller is kind enough to give a scoop on the upcoming Fantastic Four, Shai and Theo talk about hair prejudice in the world, Ansel wants to be clear about his running abilities, and the entire cast rolls up their sleeves and plays a feisty game of Name That Movie Box.
The People’s Choice Awards opened the season of award shows on the evening of Jan 7th at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. Check out the list below to find out who the fan favorites were in 2014.
The full list of nominees for the People’s Choice Awards 2015 was announced today by Anna Faris and Allison Janney at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles. The contenders were entirely chosen by fans, who cast over 70 million votes in the past few weeks.
Awards season is on, and with everything that is going on from December through February, it’s difficult to keep track of who is getting what. To help you with that, we created the Awards Leaderboard, a ranking of movies by the number of awards won and their respective categories. Read on to find out where your favorite movies stand, and who is leading the pack.
This live-action reboot of the franchise featuring modified, crime-fighting, pizza-eating turtles is a Michael Bay production. That means it’s essentially a Transformers movie, complete with shiny action sequences and destructive battles that place innocent bystanders in peril. The turtles themselves may be cute and cool and wacky in other incarnations but here, the special effects make them odd-looking in an off-putting way. Still, they emerge from the sewers to defend New York City, as is their duty, with the help of Megan Fox as an intrepid TV reporter. The enemy is a giant robot samurai named Shredder who resembles a Japanese Megatron. He’s working with a wealthy, villainous scientist (William Fichtner) who wants to rule the city by releasing a deadly toxin. There are explosions, lots of gunfire and general mayhem as a roaming group of marauders known as the Foot Clan terrorize the city and take hostages. I saw this movie with my son (who’s almost 5) and he was a bit frightened of Shredder, but only briefly.
Rating: PG, for thematic elements, some violence, language and brief sensuality.
Helen Mirren stars as the uptight owner of an elegant restaurant in the south of France. Om Puri plays the boisterous patriarch who moves his family into her quaint village and opens a new Indian restaurant directly across the street — 100 feet away, to be exact. Their competition, and the way they sabotage each other, is petty and cruel but amusing. And eventually — spoiler alert! — their rivalry leads to multicultural understanding. There are a couple of brief instances of violence — one in the beginning, one in the middle — in which vandals attack the Indian family’s restaurants, setting fire to them and even causing a death. But in both cases in director Lasse Hallstrom’s film, these are opportunities for rebuilding and redemption. Fine for kids around 10 and older.
Rating: PG-13, for some language and suggestive material.
I’m guessing that the solitary, casually tossed F-bomb is the main reason that this fifth Step Up movie received a PG-13 rating. Otherwise, it’s pretty harmless as it offers one dance battle after another after another. This time, the action takes place at a competition in Las Vegas, with various characters from the previous films assembling and reassembling in different crews. The ultimate prize is a three-year deal performing at Caesars Palace. Maybe some of the dance moves are slightly and briefly risque — the thrusting, the suggestion of some sexual acts — but it all flies by at a dizzying pace. Even the dancers’ night out on the town is chaste. No smoking for these agile, muscular guys and gals, and even the drinking they do consists of a few glasses of celebratory champagne. Totally fine for kids around 8 or 9 and up.
Rating: PG-13, for intense violence and action, thematic elements and some sensuality.
This is yet another movie based on a young adult novel set in a dystopian future where teenagers must fight each other for survival. Tweens who have read the book — and anyone familiar with this genre, really — will know what to expect in terms of violent situations and disturbing imagery. Still, because it’s rated PG-13, there’s very little blood to accompany the considerable body counts that accumulates. Shailene Woodley stars as Beatrice — or Tris, as she renames herself — a modest girl who faces the momentous task of deciding which of society’s five factions is the best fit for her. She chooses to join the Dauntless, which means a quick and demanding training regimen of shooting, fighting, throwing knives, climbing great heights and jumping from moving trains. But she also must defend herself against the competing initiates who are trying to take her down. It’s intense, dark stuff with a lengthy running time at two-plus hours.
Rating: PG-13, for sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language.
Aaron Paul’s first major role post-Breaking Bad finds him starring in this zippy, flashy action thriller in which a lot of cars get seriously mangled. Paul plays a small-town drag racer and mechanic who must compete in that tried-and-true one last race to redeem himself and save his family’s shop. It’s a high-stakes road challenge full of exotic sports cars, which inevitably causes some serious crashes. These adrenaline junkies knowingly put themselves in this dangerous situation — and some of them won’t survive — but they also subject untold innocent pedestrians and fellow drivers to their general disregard for human safety. Probably fine for viewers age 10 and up — but kids, don’t try this at home.
Though critics weren’t particularly kind to all of the films available this week on home video, we’ve got a number of titles that cater to specific audiences, and if you’re part of one of those audiences, you should find something worthwhile here. The biggest films this week include a racing action film, a dystopian YA adaptation, a well-reviewed horror thriller, and a faith-based drama. Then we’ve got some smaller choices, including an Australian film currently playing select theaters, and some noteworthy choices on television. Read on for details:
Maybe Shailene Woodley took a cue from Jennifer Lawrence, earning rave reviews for her work in indie films like Alexander Payne’s The Descendants and last year’s The Spectacular Now before taking the lead in a young adult franchise about a dystopian future. Unfortunately, Woodley’s Divergent failed to wow the critics like Lawrence’s Hunger Games did. Based on the novel by Veronica Roth, the film is set in an alternate Chicago, where citizens are sorted into five factions based on their genetic aptitude. Woodley plays Beatrice Prior, whose serum-based test reveals she is suited to more than one of the factions, rendering her “divergent” and thrusting her into the middle of a power struggle. While critics noted that the film certainly seemed to have the ingredients of another successful franchise, they also agreed that these same ingredients made the film feel overly derivative, and the result was a lukewarm 41 percent on the Tomatometer. Special features include commentary tracks, a handful of making-of featurettes, and an exploration of the film’s factions, among other things.
With the Fast and Furious franchise temporarily set back by the tragic loss of star Paul Walker, Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul made an attempt to fill the void with Need for Speed, an adrenaline-fueled adaptation of the popular racing video game series. Paul plays Tobey Marshall, a mechanic and muscle car enthusiast who’s framed for manslaughter and embarks on a cross-country trek to participate in a race to clear his name. If it sounds a little hokey to you, you aren’t alone; though critics noted that stunt coordinator-turned-director Scott Waugh did some impressive work on the big setpieces, they found little in the way of story to support the spectacle and saddled the film with a 22 percent Tomatometer. If all you’re looking for is some hard driving action, in other words, you’d probably be just fine skipping to those scenes. Bonus features on the Blu-ray include a look at the mostly practical special effects in the film, an interview with Waugh about the dedication of stuntmen, outtakes and deleted scenes, and more.
Though the traditional slasher horror films may be fewer and farther between these days, haunted houses and cursed objects remain a strong presence in the genre. The latest film to take advantage of the theme is Mike Flanagan’s Oculus, an expansion of a short film he wrote and directed back in 2006. Brenton Thwaites is Tim Russell, a teen accused of murdering his parents and sent to prison for a decade, while Doctor Who‘s Karen Gillan plays his sister Kaylie, who attempts to prove Tim’s innocence by investigating the history of the cursed mirror she suspects is actually responsible for the deaths. The more Kaylie digs, the more she discovers about the mirror’s past, endangering her and her brother once again. Thanks to minimal use of gore in favor of chilling atmosphere and effective head games, Oculus managed to impress critics to the tune of 74 percent; it won’t shock you out of your seat, but it might stay with you after the credits roll. Extras include deleted scenes, the original short film, an interview with Flanagan and producer Trevor Macy about expanding the film to feature length, and more.
Often, the common criticisms of faith-based films in the US are that they lack sophistication, possess little to no nuance, and exist primarily to reaffirm and reinforce ideals its target audience already holds. God’s Not Dead is unfortunately no exception. The plot follows Christian college freshman Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), who enrolls in a philosophy class taught by notorious atheist Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo). When Prof. Radisson demands his students sign a statement declaring that “God is dead,” Josh takes exception, and P-Rad then insists that Josh debate him on the subject. Most critics agreed this could have been an excellent opportunity to explore a provocative topic relevant to today’s believers, but God’s Not Dead instead chose to soft-pedal the issue, present a caricaturized version of reality without a hint of irony, and consider the matter closed. Like other films of its kind, God’s Not Dead will neither convert any new followers nor challenge those who already follow. Special features include a short making-of featurette, two music videos, and a brief look at the struggles of on-campus Christian groups.
Also available this week:
12 O’Clock Boys (91 percent), a Certified Fresh documentary about a young boy in Baltimore who grows increasingly enamored with a local gang of urban dirt bike riders.
Australian import Around the Block (57 percent), starring Christina Ricci in a drama about a trouble aboriginal student who forms a bond with a transplanted teacher as they prepare to put on a presentation of Hamlet together.
Ping Pong Summer (54 percent), starring Susan Sarandon and Lea Thompson in a coming-of-age film set in the 1980s about a boy obsessed with ping pong and hip-hop.
Anna (33 percent), starring Mark Strong and Taissa Farmiga in a thriller about a telepathic detective who investigates a teenager accused of murder.
I’ll Follow You Down (25 percent), starring Rufus Sewell and Gillian Anderson in a sci-fi mystery about a young scientist who learns his long-missing father may have discovered time travel.
The Certified Fresh season five of cult favorite NBC sitcom Community (92 percent) is available on DVD.
This week on streaming video, we’ve got the fledgling installment of a new YA adaptation franchise, a documentary about internet activist Aaron Swartz, and some noteworthy choices on Netflix, including a PT Anderson’s most recent drama and Michael Mann’s Hannibal Lecter tale. Read on for details:
In a dystopian future, teenagers are forced to chose one of five factions with which they’ll associate for life. However, Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) doesn’t fit neatly into any one group, and her independent streak makes her a target when two rival tribes prepare for war.
Joaquin Phoenix stars as a navy vet in the midst of personal turmoil who turns to Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the charismatic leader of a group called the Cause; soon, the two men are locked in a test of wills.
In Michael Mann’s underrated 1986 adaptation of Thomas Harris’s novel Red Dragon, Brian Cox stars as Hannibal Lecter (just a couple years before Anthony Hopkins’ iconic performance in The Silence of the Lambs).
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.