Oh dear, it’s the last Weakley Film News column…
IN THIS WEEK’S “DC character studies” story, Long before “Joker” went into production at Warner Bros., it got its start as a pitch from Todd Phillips as the first film to make under a proposed subdivision of the studio’s DC Comics banner. The pitch was to create a movie label called DC Black that would specialize in producing comic book movies that are lower-budget character studies. In a new interview with IGN, Phillip says that he pitched DC Black with three movies in mind. In some sense, Joker was pitched as an anthology trilogy with two other comic book characters receiving their own Joker-like character study films.
“I pitched it as three movies, ‘Joker’ being the first with me, and then these two other movies, with two other directors,” Phillips said. “But I don’t really want to name them, because then it’ll become a thing and I’m pulling these directors into it when I’ve never even told them about it. It was just me telling Warner Bros. about it.”
According to Phillips, Warner Bros. did not move forward with his DC Black pitch for a simple reason: “Their argument — well, it wasn’t an argument — their thing is, there’s no reason to create its own label, there’s no reason to go to all that trouble,” the director said. “Just when we want to [make] one of these kind of movies, we’ll do it, just like ‘Joker’ is. I get that, but I also thought it was just kind of cool if it became a thing.”
Eh? Well, seeing as Joker made a billion dollars, some of this could happen in some context.
IN THIS WEEK’S “IN THIS WEEK’S “Who you gonna call?” story, The Ghostbusters are back. But in writer/director Jason Reitman’s new iteration of the genre (he’s the son of Ivan Reitman, the original filmmaker), now titled Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the connections to the past and the original Ghostbusters cast—all of whom are all scheduled to appear in the movie minus Harold Ramis who passed away in 2014—is a mystery even to the new lead characters. “As the family arrives at an old farm, they begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters,” Jason Reitman told Vanity Fair in a first look at the movie today. “Trevor and Phoebe are about to find out who their grandfather was and whether they’re ready to pick up the proton pack themselves.”
Trevor and Phoebe are played by Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things and Mckenna Grace known for The Haunting of Hill House, Gifted and playing the younger version of Margot Robbie in I, Tonya. Reitman revealed more details too: Paul Rudd stars as a summer school-teacher and Carrie Coon (The Leftovers, Fargo) plays the single mother of the two aforementioned siblings. When their family moves to a farm in Oklahoma, the mom, after inheriting property from the father she didn’t know—far from the Manhattan setting of all the previous Ghostbusters movies—they discover some supernatural happening.
A new trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife is arriving on Monday, and more shall be revealed. Reitman is keeping mum on some of the details and when the other Ghostbusters will turn up in the movie.
Afterlife “is a new adventure that connects back to the Manhattan Crossrip of 1984,” Reitman said, alluding to Ghostbusters one and its sequel, but purposefully overlooking the 2016 all-female version.
“The joy of co-writing a film like this is imagining the sound of Ecto-1’s engine revving back to life or the moment a PKE meter lights up for the first time and begins leading you toward your destiny,” said Reitman, who co-wrote the screenplay with City of Ember filmmaker Gil Kenan. Ghostbusters: Afterlife, is scheduled to hit theaters on July 10, 2020.
Ok, well, I guess we’ll all find out how this is eventually.
IN THIS WEEK’S “The better half?” story, Stephen King’s horror novel The Dark Half is getting the movie treatment at MGM with Her Smell director Alex Ross Perry on board to helm.
King wrote the book in 1989 about a novelist whose pseudonym comes to life as a murderous twin after his own pen name, Richard Bachman, was revealed.
MGM first adapted a film version in 1993 with zombie horror icon George Romero directing and Timothy Hutton starring. Hutton portrayed the best-selling author Thad Beaumont, who also sells grisly crime novels under the name George Stark. When the pseudonym is exposed, the author and his wife give the other author a ceremonial burial — resulting in George Stark coming alive and going on a murder spree. The movie was a box office flop, grossing $10 million from a $15 million budget.
Perry’s other directing credits include Queen of Earth, Listen Up Phillip and The Color Wheel. He is repped by WME and Mosaic and King is repped by Paradigm. The news was first reported by Deadline.
The Stephen King novels keep getting mined for film and TV, still with varying results.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Some legit film dates” story, Warner Bros. has dated the fourth The Matrix movie and The Flash for summer openings in 2021 and 2022, respectively, and pulled Akira off the schedule.
The studio announced Wednesday that The Flash would be released on July 1, 2022, while the untitled Matrix would open on May 21, 2021. The Flash will star Ezra Miller, who debuted as The Flash in Zack Snyder’s Batman vs. Superman with roles in Suicide Squad and Justice League.
Original stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are returning for the fourth “Matrix” along with co-creator Lana Wachowski. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, and Neil Patrick Harris will also star.
The Matrix movie is taking over the slot for Akira, which now has no release date. Warner Bros. has apparently ditched Akira for now despite the movie — which had been due to be produced by Leonardo DiCaprio — having been allocated to receive a conditional $18.5 million tax credit for shooting in California.
The California Film Commission announced in April that Akira was by far the biggest of the 18 tax credit allocations unveiled under the state’s Film & TV Tax Credit Program 2.0. Akira, based on a manga series written and illustrated by Katsuhiro Otama and set in a post-apocalyptic 2060 Tokyo, would have generated an estimated $92 million in qualified spending.
But to receive the California credit, Akira would have needed to start shooting within 180 days after the announcement.
I still REALLY want to see a live action Akira with Taika Waititi directing. Let’s hope.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Quick! Hide your franchises! Disney eyeing it!” story, Despite always being a powerhouse studio, Disney has risen to incredible heights in recent years thanks to acquisitions such as Lucasfilm, Marvel, Fox, and Pixar. And while the studio has more money than it probably knows what to do with, it would appear that CEO Bob Iger isn’t on the hunt for another purchase. But if he was, he does have one franchise in mind.
Speaking to Time, after being named Businessperson of the Year, Bob Iger was asked if Disney had any plans on another big purchase in the near future. 2019 is probably going to go down as the year that the Mouse House finalized its deal to buy Fox, which led to the successful launch of Disney+ and the studio’s streaming future. But if Iger had his way, the next purchase wouldn’t be a rival studio. Instead, it’s a franchise that he likes quite a bit — James Bond.
“We’re not looking to buy anything right now,” he said. “But I’ve always been a huge James Bond fan.”
Of course, being a fan of something isn’t necessarily a sign that Iger is going throw money at ‘Bond’ mastermind Barbara Broccoli and entice her to sell (as he did with George Lucas and Star Wars), but it does tease a possibility that might scare certain film fans worried that Mickey Mouse is taking over the world.
I think many people are already thinking that.
No Time to Die arrives in theaters on April 8, 2020.
IN THIS WEEK’S “The Dune to come” story, Despite being insanely difficult to adapt for live-action, Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic Dune, has been brought to life most popularly in a 1984 film by David Lynch and early-2000s miniseries for SyFy network. Neither quite hit the mark, with Lynch doing the whole Lynch thing in his film and the miniseries suffering from a lack of budget, among other things. But director Denis Villeneuve is hoping to do the source material justice in his upcoming 2020 film, and star Oscar Isaac thinks the filmmaker is going to succeed.
Speaking to EW, Isaac talked about Dune, in which he stars opposite an incredible cast that includes Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgard, Charlotte Rampling, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, and Zendaya. The actor specifically discussed how Villeneuve’s take on the Herbert novel is something completely different than the adaptations of previous years.
“It’s just a wholly, wholly different thing,” said the actor. “I couldn’t imagine anyone more suited for the tone of the original Frank Herbert novels than Denis. There are some things that are — for lack of a better word — nightmarish about what you see… There’s just this kind of brutalist element to it.”
He added, “It’s shocking. It’s scary. It’s very visceral. And I know that definitely between Denis and myself and Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson as the family unit, we really searched for the emotion of it. I’m beyond myself with excitement. I think it’s good to feel cool, unique, and special.”
Everything I’ve heard so far about this is good. I think tht if anyone right now can do some kind of justice to this material, it’s Denis Villeneuve.
Dune is expected to hit theaters on December 18, 2020.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Home Alone: reboot…ish.” story, Archie Yates, Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney will star in Disney Plus’ Home Alone reboot. Sources add Kemper is still in negotiations and a deal has not closed yet.
Dan Mazer is on board to direct the film from a script by Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell.
Sources say Yates will not be playing the iconic Kevin McCallister, but a new character in a similar premise to the original franchise. In the original 1990 film, Kevin, played by Macaulay Culkin, is accidentally left behind while his family heads to Paris over the holidays. During that time, he must protect his house from a pair of burglars, portrayed by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.
Though originally thought to be Yates’ parents, sources now say Kemper and Delaney will be playing someone else in the film, possibly another couple not related to Yates.
The first movie was a major hit, grossing $476.7 million worldwide, including $285.8 million domestically, leading to the 1992 sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, which also went on to become a huge success.
The pic will be produced by Hutch Parker and Dan Wilson, and marks the first project to be produced by Twentieth Century Fox for Disney Plus.
Yates recently had his breakout role in the Golden Globe-nominated Jojo Rabbit, playing the title character’s lovable best friend. He is repped by Atwell Artist Management.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Marvel moving pieces” story, Marvel TV is winding down. Two months after the division was moved under Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios, the TV-arm of Marvel is ending all of its development plans.
Marvel TV will complete all of its projects that are currently in development, which include the final season of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that will air next summer, but will not continue beyond that. Those also include the four animated series that are currently in development at Hulu, as well as the live-action Helstrom.
The integration of Marvel TV under Marvel Studios will include layoffs as a result, both in the immediate future and long term, once development on all current Marvel TV shows is completed. The move effectively shutters the division as it will be absorbed by Marvel Studios — though the Marvel TV name may still continue.
Marvel TV staff, including Karim Zreik, senior vice president of current programming and production and members of his team, will join the Marvel Studios group. Zreik will head up current projects in production. Jeph Loeb, who is exiting as head of Marvel TV in the coming weeks, will remain available during the transition. Marvel Studios is planning its own foray into the small screen with eight different shows for Disney+. Those include The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki and Hawkeye, which all star characters from the hugely popular Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Earlier this year, Marvel TV signed a large, multi-series animated deal with Hulu, and then a separate agreement with the Disney-owned streamer for a pair of live-action series in Helstrom and Ghost Rider. Plans for Ghost Rider were eventually shelved. The third and final season of The Runaways premieres on Hulu this Friday.
Sort of the same, but different.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Shazam!” story, it appears that Warner Bros. is planning on releasing the Shazam spin-off film Black Adam and Shazam 2 less than a year apart beginning in late 2021.
According to Deadline, WB has announced that Zachary Levi-led Shazam 2 will arrive in theaters on April 1, 2022. That would put the sequel hitting the big screen only 101 days after Black Adam, starring Dwayne Johnson. And while the studio and those involved in the projects have said the stories won’t be connected, it’s important to know that Black Adam and Shazam are linked on a foundational level as both films feature heroes that derive their superpowers from the same source.
We’ve known about Shazam 2 for quite a while, as the intention to do a sequel was reported shortly after the film premiered earlier this year. However, with Black Adam coming in 2021, it was assumed that there would be a bit of an extended break between Shazam films. But apparently WB is confident that the two movies won’t affect each other at the box office. And perhaps if both are hugely successful, the inevitable clash between the two franchises will arrive even sooner than expected.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Watch it here, watch it there, watch it anywhere” story, streaming your favorite movies or TV shows is oft done from your big screens at home, but plenty of people watch them on their tablets, laptops, or smartphones. I mean, personally I’d rather watch on a larger screen whenever possible, but I can see why you would use your phone sometimes. Like, when your traveling and at the airport or something. totally makes sense.
And while this seems to get under the skin of folks like Martin Scorsese, actor Ryan Reynolds recently told Variety that he’s okay with his films being watched however the hell people want to watch.
“You should be able to watch whatever the fuck you want to watch on whatever fucking device you want to watch it on. I don’t know. I would say that’s just the way things are,” said Reynolds.
With 6 Underground reliant on huge set pieces and crazy action, you would think the actor would be more on board with Scorsese’s plea to have film fans enjoy the movie on the biggest screen possible. At least in that respect, “6 Underground” director Michael Bay agrees with the legendary filmmaker.
“I don’t want my movies to be watched on a phone either,” said Bay. “But movies aren’t that bad on these new TVs that have HDR, high dynamic range. Listen most of the Academy votes on TVs, okay. We all love movies. I’m a big cinema guy. But, the great thing about Netflix is it’s a new voice out here and it’s a strong voice. And they do interesting content. So, that’s why I appreciate it.”
If you have Reynolds saying that you should enjoy films on a phone while sitting on the toilet and Scorsese still advocating for the big screen experience, Bay is firmly between the two, advocating for TVs instead of phones to enjoy his latest dose of Bayhem.
You can watch 6 Underground while going to the restroom or sitting on the comfort of your couch on December 13 via Netflix.
Aaaand IN THIS WEEK’S “It’s been fun” story, all good things come to an end, they say. So here we are. Doing this column has been fun, actually. I like kinda knowing what’s going on or what’s coming up in the film industry. I won’t, however, miss the mechanics of posting these things.
Every film title has to be in italics, so I have to take out EVERY quotation mark and italicize the title of each film. Holy crap, that takes a lot of time. Like, a full hour. I guess if I didn’t make this column so long it would take less time, but hey, I wan to fill people in on stories I think are worth knowing about, or are least so ridiculous that they may offer a laugh. I mean, hey, I TRY to find a crazy Nic Cage story whenever possible. Sometimes I have to just accept a crazy Johnny Depp story instead. If there’s no Depp story, then it’s down to a Michael Bay story, or even (GASP) a lowly John Travolta story. 🙂
It’s been entertaining, for sure, and that’s all we can really ask for, isn’t it? Well, it’s at least the most worth while part of it anyway. If you can’t laugh, you can’t live. It’s a big part of what keeps me going. But I’ll keep seeing movies and I’ll always like talking about them. And don’t let the film snobs tell you that you can’t enjoy some movie that you like. Fuck that. One person’s trash is another’s treasure.
Except Michael Bay movies. You shouldn’t like those. 😉
Thanks for the memories. See you at the movie theater! Or, well, maybe not, it’s kinda dark in there. Maybe at the bar after? And don’t forget your kittenhands!
Happy Holidays, Merry merry, and all that! ~ Neil