This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering new titles such as BioShock, Star Trek 4, and Wonder Twins.
This WEEK’S TOP STORY
CHRIS PINE, ZOE SALDANA, AND REST OF STAR TREK CREW RETURNING FOR NEW FILM
(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)
One of the biggest differences between modern TV production and film production is that television tends to move much faster than film development does. Let’s consider, for example, the last few years of Star Trek. The current Star Trek streaming renaissance began just five years ago with Star Trek: Discovery (already four seasons in), which was followed by Star Trek: Picard, the animated shows Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek: Prodigy, and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, which is coming later this year. By contrast, in the time that all of those Star Trek shows have aired, there have been exactly zero Star Trek feature films, and there have only been three in the 12+ years since the “Kelvin Timeline” started in 2009 with J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek (Certified Fresh at 94%). Fans of Chris Pine (Kirk), Zoe Saldana (Uhura), Zachary Quinto (Spock), John Cho (Sulu), Simon Pegg (Scotty), and Karl Urban (Bones) can finally rejoice, as the full crew is expected to return when Star Trek 4 starts filming in late 2022. The as-yet-untitled film is being written by Josh Friedman (Snowpiercer) and Cameron Squires (WandaVision) and will be directed Matt Shakman (WandaVision). The premise of the new film is not yet known, including how the sequel will address the absence of Chekhov following the 2016 death of actor Anton Yelchin. In related news, Variety also published a lengthy article this week delving into Quentin Tarantino’s apparently shelved Star Trek project, including the premise and setting, which would have been heavily influenced by 1930s gangster movies.
Other Top Headlines
1. PARAMOUNT ANNOUNCES NEW TMNT, TRANSFORMERS, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG, AND MORE
(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)
Once upon a time, “Investor Day” events, even for Hollywood studios, were relatively boring news items during which not much new was actually announced. The Walt Disney Company wasn’t the first entertainment company to use an Investor Day to reveal new projects, but in 2020, they sort of “dropped the mic” by revealing dozens of projects all in one day, mostly for the Disney+ streaming app. This week, ViacomCBS (which also formally changed its name to Paramount) attempted to replicate Disney’s big day with several big announcements for some of their most popular franchises or properties. Let’s start with Sonic the Hedgehog 3, which is already in development, two months before Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is even released on April 8, 2022. In addition to that third film, Paramount+ is also developing a spin-off series for Knuckles, to be voiced by Idris Elba. In addition, Paramount also announced that the upcoming Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (6/9/2023) will be followed by Transformers 8 and Transformers 9, forming a new trilogy. Another franchise getting several new films announced is SpongeBob SquarePants, which will continue with a fourth film, as well as three spin-off films on Paramount+. There’s also Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which is set to be rebooted (again) with Seth Rogen’s TMNT (8/4/2023). That film will be followed by multiple spin-off feature films on Paramount+ about the various TMNT villains (one can safely guess this might include villains like Krang, Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady). Finally, the Paramount+ announcement also included Blue’s Big City Adventure, the first major feature film adapted from the popular children’s TV program Blue’s Clues, which will feature all three previous human hosts (Steve Burns, Joshua Dela Cruz, and Donovan Patton).
2. THE LORD OF THE RINGS RETURNS TO BIG SCREEN IN ANIME THE WAR OF THE ROHIRRIM
(Photo by New Line Cinema courtesy Everett Collection)
In the lead up to last weekend’s Super Bowl, one of the hotly discussed new trailers was for the Amazon series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which is scheduled to start streaming on September 2, 2022. What’s mildly misleading about the title is that it’s not actually an adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but rather the various stories set thousands of years earlier found in The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-earth. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema continue to assert that they retain the film rights to The Lord of the Rings, and as part of that effort, they announced a new Lord of the Rings feature film, which, like the Amazon show, is also a prequel, but with a more recent setting. New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Animation are partnering on The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim, an anime-style feature film from anime director Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Blade Runner: Black Lotus), set hundreds of years before The Lord of the Rings during the reign of the Rohan king, Helm Hammerhand (whom the Lord of the Rings setting Helm’s Deep was named after). Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings co-writer Philippa Boyens is executive producing The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim, which is scheduled for a theatrical release on April 12, 2024.
3. A QUIET PLACE III TO SNEAK INTO THEATERS IN 2025
(Photo by Paramount Pictures)
Actor-turned-director John Krasinski directed both A Quiet Place (Certified Fresh at 96%) in 2018 and its pandemic-delayed 2021 sequel A Quiet Place Part II (Certified Fresh at 91%), which starred his wife Emily Blunt, but he won’t be returning for the third movie, an untitled spin-off to be directed by Michael Sarnoski (Pig, Certified Fresh at 97%) that Paramount has scheduled for September 22, 2023. Whatever that movie ends up being titled, the movie actually called A Quiet Place III (which will therefore be the fourth film despite the title) is now scheduled for release sometime in 2025. Krasinski was at the ViacomCBS Investor Day to announce the film, but it is not yet confirmed whether he will be returning to write or direct it. Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe were also not announced as returning cast, but their involvement in the sequel seems likely.
4. TOM HANKS REUNITING WITH FORREST GUMP CREATIVES FOR HERE
(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis first collaborated in 1994 on Forrest Gump (Fresh at 70%), which went on to be nominated for 13 Academy Awards and won for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Forrest Gump led to Hanks and Zemeckis working together again on Cast Away (Certified Fresh at 89%), The Polar Express (Rotten at 56%), and the upcoming Disney+ movie Pinocchio. Absent from all of those projects was Forrest Gump screenwriter Eric Roth, who spent much of that time collaborating with directors like Michael Mann (The Insider, Ali), Steven Spielberg (Munich), and most recently, Denis Villeneuve (Dune). The project that will finally bring all three back together after almost 30 years is Here, an adaptation of a 2014 graphic novel by Richard McGuire. Here is set within a single room and “chronicles the events that have occurred in that space over the course of hundreds of thousands of years.” Despite what sounds like a rather limited setting, Here is reportedly seen as a “big ticket film with a lot of heart.” Besides Pinocchio, Hanks’ upcoming slate also includes Elvis (6/24/2022), the trailer for which debuted online this week; Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City; and A Man Called Ove, which was recently acquired by Sony Pictures for $60 million.
5. MEGAN THEE STALLION TO STAR IN A24 MUSICAL WE SHOULDN’T SAY HERE
(Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while, a movie will be initially announced with a highly dubious title (as was the case with 2011’s No Strings Attached, which was formerly titled “F–kbuddies“). As such, we don’t really know what to do with an R-rated musical called F*cking Idential Twins being produced by A24, the indie distributor best known for both its award-winning dramas like Lady Bird and The Farewell and its indie horror movies like Midsommar and The Witch. That provocative title refers directly to the musical’s premise, which is a spin on The Parent Trap. The film will feature an ensemble cast that includes rapper Megan Thee Stallion, Saturday Night Live star Bowen Yang, Broadway star Nathan Lane, and Megan Mullally (TV’s Will & Grace). F*cking Identical Twins will be written by comedians Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp (both from The Opposition with Jordan Klepper), who were also the stars of the play when it was a two-man show, and they will also star as the two titular identical twins. The film will be directed by Larry Charles, whose impressive comedy resume includes TV’s Seinfeld, HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, and three of Sacha Baron Cohen’s films, including the first Borat (Certified Fresh at 90%).
6. BIOSHOCK VIDEO GAME ADAPTATION FINALLY HAPPENING AT NETFLIX
(Photo by 2K Games)
In the grand schme of things, 2007 is “only” 15 years ago, but because Hollywood has been trying to make a BioShock movie since 2008, almost as far back as when the first video game came out in 2007, there is a sense that it has been in development for a very, very long time. The director that was attached to BioShock for the longest time was Gore Verbinski, who is best known for the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. We can finally see the end of the long road to a BioShock movie, and the savior of the film, as is often the case when it comes to “dead projects” getting rescued, is Netflix. There are no writers, directors, or cast for the eventual BioShock movie, but it is in official development once again as Netflix and video game company Take-Two Interactive have reached a formal agreement to develop the film. BioShock is a multi-game franchise that takes place mostly in an underwater city called Rapture that was built in a retro-futuristic 20th Century as a utopian society, but has since devolved into a violent and chaotic environment inhabited by giant cyborgs called Big Daddies.
7. SIMU LIU AND KATE MCKINNON JOIN MARGOT ROBBIE’S BARBIE
(Photo by Steve Granitz, Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Another film that has spent a great deal of time in development is Mattel’s Barbie, which has, in the last 10years, reportedly taken a few different forms, including the time when it would have starred Amy Schumer as a toy from the world of Barbie who comes to life in the real world. The star of Barbie has been, for a few years now, Margot Robbie, and while the film has had a few different directors and writers involved (including Elizabeth Banks), the director who has been attached for a while is Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird, Little Women). Robbie is going to play Barbie, and Ryan Gosling will play Ken, but it wasn’t until the last week or so that we knew any of the other actors who would co-star in the film. America Ferrera (TV’s Ugly Betty and Superstore) signed on to Barbie last week, and this week, she was joined by Simu Liu (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) and then, Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnnon; we still don’t know who any of them is playing. Barbie is expected to start filming in early 2022 for a release date by Warner Bros. sometime in 2023.
8. JOHN CENA TO JUMP INTO ROGER RABBIT-STYLE WACKINESS IN COYOTE VS ACME
(Photo by NBC/Getty Images)
We frequently point out exactly how long some movies have been in development, but some waits are longer than others, and then there are cases when development has been ongoing without anyone being aware of it. An example of the latter is Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes spinoff Coyote vs Acme, featuring Wile E. Coyote’s battle with the company that supplies all of his weapons against the Roadrunner. The origin of this project is a 1990 satirical piece in The New Yorker (which you can read right here), which was subsequently sort of mentioned “in passing” in various pieces about Warner Bros. Animation in the 1990s before it disappeared into the ether during the 2000s and 2010s. Coyote vs Acme eventually came back to life in 2018, and it now appears to actually be closing in on production with the announcement of a human movie star. John Cena, who is hot at Warner Bros. because of both The Suicide Squad (Certified Fresh at 90%) and his HBO Max show Peacemaker, which just completed its Certified Fresh first season this week, has signed on to star in Coyote vs Acme as the CEO of the titular fictional company. It’s not yet known who will voice Wile E. Coyote, or if the world they live in will feature cameos from other Looney Tunes characters (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, etc).
9. SUPER FRIENDS CO-STARS WONDER TWINS FINALLY GET THEIR OWN SPOTLIGHT
(Photo by Everett Collection)
Although many DC Comics characters have been around since the 1940s (or in the case of Superman, the 1930s), there is an argument to be made that one of the most influential vehicles for their superheroes was not their own comic books but the long-running ABC Saturday Morning cartoon, Super Friends. Consider, for example, that the reason that Aquaman, of all DC Comics superheroes (and there are hundreds), is considered one of DC’s biggest stars is because he was one of the four core heroes on Super Friends. In addition to characters from the comics, Super Friends also introduced new heroes (the less said about those the better) and sidekicks (like Gleek, Marvin, and Wendy). The two characters that exist in both spaces are the Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna, who were aliens in purple body suits whose faces and hairstyles sort of resembled Vulcans (or Romulans) from Star Trek, and who had shapeshifting powers. HBO Max is now developing a Wonder Twins movie, giving the characters their own spotlight for the first time in TV or film. Wonder Twins will be adapted by Adam Sztykiel, a screenwriter who also worked on the Shazam! anti-hero spin-off movie Black Adam (7/29/2022). Wonder Twins is now the second DC Comics feature film being exclusively developed for HBO Max, after Blue Beetle graduated from the streaming service to being a theatrical release.