This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Madame Web, Lisa Frankenstein, and the Wicked movies.
This WEEK’S TOP STORY
EMMA ROBERTS JOINS MADAME WEB ENSEMBLE
(Photo by Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Getty Images)
When Disney acquired the Fox TV and film properties in 2019, many fans were excited because it would bring properties like Fantastic Four and X-Men into the MCU, resulting in one cohesive world of Marvel characters. Meanwhile, Sony Pictures continues to hold the film rights to hundreds of Spider-Man villains and supporting characters, which has resulted (so far) in movies like Venom (Rotten at 30%), its sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Rotten at 58%), Morbius (Rotten at 16%), and coming next year, Kraven the Hunter (1/13/2023). The next film, scheduled to come out in just over a year, will be Madame Web (7/7/2023), based on a clairvoyant Spider-Man supporting character. Dakota Johnson will star as Madame Web, and most of the supporting cast are also women, including Isabela Merced (Dora and the Lost City of Gold), Celeste O’Connor, and Sydney Sweeney. This week, Emma Roberts (We’re the Millers, Scream 4) also joined the Madame Web cast in an unknown role (pretty much all of the supporting cast are in unknown roles at this point). Madame Web is currently filming under the direction of prolific TV director S.J. Clarkson, working from a screenplay by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, the screenwriting team behind Morbius and Gods of Egypt (Rotten at 15%).
Other Top Headlines
1. SEVEN MORE JOIN THE HUNGER GAMES PREQUEL
(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)
By their very nature as movies about “tributes” from several Districts of the futuristic Panem, The Hunger Games movies have all featured pretty large ensemble casts. Such is also the case with the upcoming prequel The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (11/17/2023), based on the novel by Suzanne Collins. After the initial casting of the two leads, Rachel Zegler (West Side Story) as District 12 Tribute Lucy Gray Baird and Tom Blyth as the young Coriolanus Snow, several more cast members were announced just last week, and another seven were added this week. The most famous of these seven is Jason Schwartzman, who will be playing Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman, the host of the 10th Hunger Games and the ancestor of Caesar Flickerman, the host in The Hunger Games played by Stanley Tucci. The others who were added this week as mentors or tributes are Ayomide Adegun (District 7 mentor), Kaitlyn Akinpelumi (District 10 mentor), Amelie Hoeferle (District 7 tribute), Max Raphael (District 4 mentor), Zoe Renee (District 12 mentor), and Sofia Sanchez (District 8 tribute). Francis Lawrence, who directed all of the previous films except the first, is also directing The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
2. WICKED SONGWRITER EXPLAINS WHY WICKED HAS TO BE TWO MOVIES
(Photo by Everett Collection)
After over a decade of development, Universal Pictures’ big screen adaptations of the Broadway musical hit Wicked are finally happening. Last November, we first heard that the two stars will be Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo as Glinda and Elphaba, respectively. Then, two months ago, the news also broke that the Wicked adaptation will actually be split into two movies, to be released on consecutive Christmas Days in 2024 and 2025. This week, Wicked songwriter and composer Stephen Schwartz clarified why the split was happening, stating that it all has to do with the song “Defying Gravity,” which closes out Act I in the stage musical: “We found it very difficult to get past ‘Defying Gravity’ without a break… That song is written specifically to bring a curtain down, and whatever scene to follow it without a break just seemed hugely anti-climactic.” Of course, the difference between the play and the two movies is that movie audience will have a full year to digest “Defying Gravity” versus a 20 minute stage intermission.
3. CHRIS PRATT JOINS MILLIE BOBBY BROWN IN ELECTRIC STATE
(Photo by Jon Kopaloff, Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)
One of the most expensive action thrillers Netflix has coming up soon is The Gray Man (7/22/2022), starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, and directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, who moved to Netflix after directing several of Marvel Studios’ biggest hits (their first was Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and their last was Avengers: Endgame). The Russo brothers’ next film will be a futuristic sci-fi movie called Electric State, starring Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) as a teenage girl who sets off on an adventure to find her missing brother accompanied by a “strange but sweet robot.” We now also know that one of Millie Bobby Brown’s co-stars will be another Marvel Studios veteran in the form of Chris Pratt, the MCU’s Star-Lord. It is, however, unknown what character Pratt is playing in the new film.
4. DIABLO CODY WRITING AND PRODUCING TEEN HORROR FILM LISA FRANKENSTEIN
(Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
For whatever reason, there are relatively few famous screenwriters actively working these days who don’t also direct their own films, which is a change from earlier decades when there were many who did. One of the remaining “famous” screenwriters still actively working today is Diablo Cody, who first shot to fame in 2007 with Juno (Certified Fresh at 94%), which won her the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and was recently in the news for collaborating with Madonna on her biopic (which Madonna will direct). Diablo Cody wrote and is producing a teen supernatural drama called Lisa Frankenstein, loosely based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, about a high school girl in 1989 who accidentally re-animates a corpse in her garage in hopes of creating the “man of her dreams.” Kathryn Newton (the daughter of Ant-Man in the MCU) will star as the title character, and Riverdale star Cole Sprouse will (apparently) play the corpse she re-animates. Lisa Frankenstein will also be the directorial debut of Zelda Williams, the daughter of the late actor and comedian Robin Williams.
5. THRILLER APARTMENT 7A MAY BE PREQUEL TO CLASSIC HORROR FILM
(Photo by Everett Collection)
Movies like 10 Cloverfield Lane (Certified Fresh at 90%), M. Night Shyamalan’s Split (Certified Fresh at 77%), and the upcoming Prey (8/5/2022) do a fairly good job of hiding their twisty, secret connections to other films that came before. This week, rumors began to circulate — and they probably won’t be confirmed until at least the first trailer, if not the film’s release — that a Paramount Players thriller called Apartment 7A might have a connection to a classic horror film. Let’s start with what is known: Apartment 7A is a thriller starring Julia Garner and Dianne Wiest that is being produced by John Krasinski and Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes, and it was directed by Natalie Erika James (Relic). The movie that Apartment 7A may be connected to, if this week’s news is correct, is Roman Polanski’s 1968 supernatural horror film Rosemary’s Baby (Certified Fresh at 96%), which was also distributed by Paramount, and which featured a subplot about mysterious activity on “the seventh floor.” Paramount Players has not yet announced a release date for Apartment 7A.
6. JENA MALONE AND OTHERS JOIN KRISTEN STEWART’S LOVE LIES BLEEDING
(Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
Kristen Stewart ultimately lost Best Actress this year to Jessica Chastain (for The Eyes of Tammy Faye), but her performance as Princess Di in Spencer (Certified Fresh at 83%) was still considered a strong contender. Kristen Stewart’s first new role announced since the Academy Awards is a romantic thriller for A24 called Love Lies Bleeding. This week, a few more actors joined Stewart in the film, including Jena Malone, Dave Franco, Ed Harris, and Katy O’Brian. Their roles are still unknown, as is the premise, except that it’s a “romance fueled by ego, desire, and the American Dream.” Love Lies Bleeding will be directed by Rose Glass (Saint Maud) from a screenplay she co-wrote with shorts filmmaker Weronika Tofilska.
7. RUSSELL CROWE TO STAR IN THE RELIGIOUS TRUE STORY THE POPE’S EXORCIST
(Photo by ©Universal Pictures)
Ever since The Exorcist (Certified Fresh at 84%) first became a pop culture phenomenon in 1973, there have been dozens of depictions of “exorcisms” in various movies and TV shows, but few were directly based on the stories of priests who were officially sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church to perform exorcisms. Russell Crowe is now attached to star in a supernatural thriller called The Pope’s Exorcist, based on the true story of Father Gabriele Amorth, who reportedly performed over 100,000 exorcisms during his 60 years as a Roman Catholic priest working for the Diocese of Rome. The Screen Gems release will be directed by Julius Avery, whose previous films include the World War II zombie movie Overlord (Certified Fresh at 81%) and the upcoming Sylvester Stallone superhero movie Samaritan. Filming of The Pope’s Exorcist is scheduled to start in September, 2022.
8. PHILIP K. DICK IS GETTING THE BIOPIC TREATMENT
(Photo by Everett Collection)
Philip K. Dick was an American science fiction author who died in March, 1982 (at the age of 53), before the release of several movies based on his work like Blade Runner (which he missed by three months), Total Recall, Minority Report, and the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle. The life story of Philip K. Dick is now in development as a biopic to be partially based upon the book Only Apparently Real by author Paul Williams (not to be confused with the singer), who was at one time the literary executor of Dick’s estate. The producers are currently seeking a director with an eye towards starting filming in the fall of 2022.
9. CAMERON DIAZ COMES OUT OF RETIREMENT FOR NETFLIX COMEDY BACK IN ACTION
(Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)
It has now been eight years since Cameron Diaz co-starred in the 2014 remake of Annie (Rotten at 28%), which starred Jamie Foxx and effectively marked Diaz’s last film before she retired from acting. Diaz surprised fans this week by announcing via Twitter that she and Jamie Foxx are teaming up again for a comedy for Netflix called Back in Action. The premise is still being kept secret for now, but we do know that Back in Action will be directed by comedy director Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses, Baywatch) from a screenplay he co-wrote with Brendan O’Brien (co-writer of Neighbors).