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May 25, 2012

Weekly Ketchup: Tom Cruise to Remake The Magnificent Seven

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Fresh Developments This Week

#1 WILL ZACH GALIFIANAKIS FINALLY BE IGNATIUS J. REILLY IN A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES

The Pulitzer Prize winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole is a book that from its very origin has always been shrouded in unusual events, starting with the fact that it wasn’t published until 1980, 11 years after Toole committed suicide in 1969. The notion that A Confederacy of Dunces could be adapted as a movie goes back some 30 years, and even that story is one of significant coincidence. Back in 1982, Harold Ramis (Caddyshack, Groundhog Day) scheduled a meeting at Universal Pictures to discuss the movie with John Belushi… and then Belushi died a few days before the meeting. This started what some might almost call a curse (but probably has more to do with the sometimes short lives of heavyset American men), as in later years, John Candy and Chris Farley were also considered for A Confederacy of Dunces, and then… they both died too (Will Ferrell was also attached at one point, but happily, it didn’t kill him). All of that set up leads us to this much buried lead: Zach Galifianakis is now attached to star as Ignatius J. Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces. The project is now the subject of negotiations with director James Bobin, the cocreator of HBO’s The Flight of the Conchords, who made his feature debut last year with The Muppets. A Confederacy of Dunces is being developed by producer Scott Rudin and Paramount Pictures, who have hired screenwriter Phil Johnston (Cedar Rapids) to adapt Toole’s tale of an odd man and all of the people he knows and meets in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

#2 GARY OLDMAN WILL BE THE GEPETTO/FRANKENSTEIN BEHIND THE REBOOTED… ROBOCOP

Darren Aronofsky may have long since departed MGM’s reboot of Robocop, but it’s starting to look like there are still reasons for movie fans to be excited that maybe the reboot won’t be an abomination. Namely, Gary Oldman has signed a deal with MGM to play a scientist named Norton who creates the Robocop technology, and “finds himself torn between the ideals of the machine trying to rediscover its humanity and the callous needs of a corporation.” There really wasn’t much of a character like that in the original film, unless this Norton is somehow related to Bob Morton, the OCP executive played by Miguel Ferrer. This also all ties into what director Jose Padilha (Elite Squad, Bus 174) has already said about how his version will differ from the original. Explaining how his movie will be very much about the story not told originally, Padilha said, “My movie is between those two cuts. How do you make Robocop? How do you slowly bring a guy to be a robot? How do you actually take humanity out of someone and how do you program a brain, so to speak, and how does that affect an individual?” Robocop himself, AKA Alex Murphy, will be played by Joel Kinnaman (The Darkest Hour). Filming is scheduled to start in Toronto in September, 2012, and MGM is currently eyeying a release sometime in the summer of 2013.

#3 SANDRA BULLOCK JOINS THE DE FACTO BRIDESMAIDS REUNION PROJECT

There’s been a lot of talk over the last year about what the various people behind Bridesmaids will be doing next. Now, we have the answer for director Paul Feig, who also directed Unaccompanied Minors in 2006 and created the TV show Freaks and Geeks. The comedy will also reunite Paul Feig with Melissa McCarthy, who garnered dozens of nominations for Bridesmaids. McCarthy will play an “unconventional” Boston cop who has to team up with an “uptight” FBI agent played by Sandra Bullock, who previously played an agent (but probably a different one) in the two Miss Congeniality movies. The untitled comedy was written by Katie Dippold, a writer and producer of episodes of MADtv and Parks and Recreation. 20th Century Fox is hoping to get production on this comedy started sometime this summer while Melissa McCarthy is on hiatus from her CBS sitcom Mike Molly.

#4 THE IAN FLEMING BIOPIC TO START FILMING THIS YEAR AS PART OF THE JAMES BOND GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY

The James Bond film franchise turns 50 this year, and the golden anniversary is being celebrated commercially in a few different ways, including the release of Skyfall in November, and a massive Blu Ray boxed set of all the films to date. Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, will himself be directly involved with all of this (well, as directly as can be for someone who died in 1964), as he will be the subject of Fleming. The long planned biopic will tell the true story of how Fleming’s own experiences as a Naval Intelligence Officer led to the creation of the world’s most famous (fictitious) super spy. After a search that included Gary Ross and Francis Lawrence (coincidentally, the directors of The Hunger Games and its upcoming sequel, Catching Fire), the director job for Fleming has gone to Duncan Jones, the David Bowie progeny who made his auspicious debut with Moon and whose second film was Source Code. Fleming will be a British production in association with Fleming’s estate, and will be based upon the book Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond by Andrew Lycett. Duncan Jones is currently casting up, and production is expected to start by the end of 2012.

#5 ZAC EFRON AND SETH ROGEN TEAM UP FOR TOWNIES

Director Nicholas Stoller got his film career started with a hit in the form of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which was followed by the spinoff Get Him to the Greek, and continued this year with The Five-Year Engagement. Now, Stoller is lining up his fourth film, and it will be the first movie that doesn’t either star Jason Segel, or is a spinoff of a movie starring Jason Segel. That movie is called Townies, a comedy for Universal Pictures, that will star Seth Rogen and Zac Efron as two guys on either side of a turf war between a “family man” (Rogen) and a hard-partying fraternity member (Efron). Townies got its start last summer as the subject of a bidding war between the studios, and is seen as a top priority, so it is likely that filming will start relatively soon.

#6 PETER BOGDANOVICH WILL RETURN WITH SQUIRRELS TO THE NUTS

It is literally cinema history now, but there was a time when Peter Bogdanovich was one of the hottest screenwriters/directors in Hollywood, as a member of the “New Hollywood” scene of the 1970s. Bogdanovich’s career included such films as Mask, Paper Moon, and The Last Picture Show, and he has also long been prolific as an expert on film history, aided greatly by his early friendships with such old school directors as John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks and Orson Welles. However, along the way, Bogdanovich’s own career as a screenwriter and director sort of hit the brakes, with his last film as director (The Cat’s Meow) opening way back in 2001, and his last film as screenwriter even further back (Texasville in 1990). In an arc that is quite circular considering what Bogdanovich did for some of those old time directors, he is now the benefactor of younger directors Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, who are helping him get a new movie made. That movie is called Squirrels to the Nuts, and it’s about a New York prostitute whose “business” with a Broadway director leads to her getting a new career on the stage. Brie Larson will be that “working girl,” Owen Wilson will play the director, and Olivia Wilde will play a “therapist dealing with her own mother’s alcoholism.”

#7 MORE VILLAINS GET CAST IN BOTH THOR 2 AND IRON MAN 3

As The Avengers continues to smoke just about any other film released this month, development of the sequels for two of that film’s central characters continued with much haste and activity this week. And the theme was villains! Mads Mikkelsen is a Danish actor who is probably best known for playing the villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, and he also had roles in King Arthur (2004), Valhalla Rising, and Clash of the Titans. Mikkelsen’s Nordic ancestry arguably makes him sort of inevitable for any short list for future Thor casting, and sure enough, he’s in talks to play one of (if not “the”) the villains in Thor 2. Now, that’s pretty much all we know, so any further speculation on who that might be will have to remain in the realm of fan chat for now. Some possibilities, however, could be Skurge the Executioner (especially if Amora the Enchatress is the other villain), or maybe someone like Malekith the Accursed, if the storyline focuses more on the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim. Meanwhile, over in the Iron Man 3 production offices, relatively unknown actor Ashley Hamilton (Sunset Beach) has landed a small role as the super armored villain Firepower. The addition of a relatively unknown villain (who is more memorable for the story that introduced him than his legacy as an actual character) is particularly interesting when we factor in another hiring from last week. James Badge Dale (AMC’s Rubicon) was cast to play Eric Savin, AKA Coldblood, another “wait… who’s that again?” nearly unknown Marvel super villain. On the bright side, the inclusion of lesser known villains for the movies might be seen as a good thing in that it means the script isn’t being written just to fit in popular villains just… because. Lesser known characters might service the story of this film better… we don’t know. And in other news… Jon Favreau may not be directing Iron Man 3 (Shane Black of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is), but he will still be on set anyway, because he’s returning as bodyguard/chauffeur Happy Hogan.

#8 THE VIDEO GAME MOVIE CURSE… CAN SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS FARE ANY BETTER THAN MOST?

After Hollywood got its first look at the super-powered-teens movie Chronicle back in January, that film’s director Josh Trank has since lined up three different comic book adaptations at various studios (Red Star, Venom and the Fantastic Four reboot). But to paraphrase the old show business expression, what Josh Trank may have really wanted to do was make a video game adaptation, delving into a collective source material that thus far has not had its own Blade/X-Men moment, marked by increased and frenzied Hollywood interest. Trank has signed with Sony Pictures for an adaptation of the 2005 PS2 game Shadow of the Colossus from Japanese developer Team Ico. In the fantasy game, a young adventurer named Wander has to explore a vast expanse on horseback searching to defeat sixteen massive monsters to restore life to his girlfriend. Trank has long been a fan of Shadow of the Colossus and basically sought this project out, and it is his interest that may be the key to it actually getting made someday.

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