Jonah Hill to Star in Martin Scorsese’s Grateful Dead Biopic, and More Movie News

This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Lethal Weapon 5 and four different Marvel movies.


This WEEK’S TOP STORY

JONAH HILL TO DEPICT JERRY GARCIA IN SCORSESE’S GRATEFUL DEAD MOVIE

(Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

For many movie fans, director Martin Scorsese may be synonymous with crime films like Goodfellas (Certified Fresh at 96%), Casino (Certified Fresh at 79%), and The Irishman (Certified Fresh at 95%), but there is another side to Scorsese that dates back to some of his earliest work. In 1969, Scorsese was on the scene at Woodstock as one of the assistant directors of the 1970 concert film Woodstock (Fresh at 100%), on which he also served as editor, and other music-related films he directed have included the documentaries The Last Waltz (Certified Fresh at 98%), No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (Fresh at 88%) Shine a Light (Certified Fresh at 86%), and George Harrison: Living in the Material World (Fresh at 86%), all about musical stars of the 1960s. The next band Martin Scorsese will be adapting to film will be The Grateful Dead, with Jonah Hill already attached to star as the group’s de facto leader, Jerry Garcia. The film does not yet have a title, but Apple has already stepped up to back the project, following Scorsese’s work for them on the upcoming serial killer historical drama Killers of the Flower Moon. Jonah Hill and Martin Scorsese are both guiding the project as producers, and the screenwriting team of Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, whose films have included the biographical dramas Ed Wood (Certified Fresh at 92%), The People vs Larry Flynt (Certified Fresh at 88%), and Man on the Moon (Fresh at 64%), are currently adapting the screenplay. In related news, director Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook, John Q) is now developing a film based on the lives of southern rock pioneers The Allman Brothers Band, led by Duane and Gregg Allman.


Other Top Headlines

1. SCARLETT JOHANSSON REUNITING WITH MARVEL FOR TOP SECRET PROJECT

Scarlett Johansson

(Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

One of the most surprising movie news stories of 2021 may have been the revelation in July that Scarlett Johansson had sued Disney over Black Widow (Certified Fresh at 79%). That lawsuit was eventually settled about two months later, with a quote from Johansson stating, “I look forward to continuing our collaboration in years to come.” As it turns out, she didn’t have to wait “years,” because an unexpected announcement was made at an American Cinematheque gala event honoring her Thursday night. Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige was there, and he revealed that, “we are already working with Scarlett on another non-Black Widow-related top secret Marvel Studios project with her as producer.” What’s unclear from that statement is whether Johansson will also be acting in the new film or if her participation is only as a producer. It’s also unclear whether the top secret project is a feature film or something like a series for Disney+. Since it’s “top secret,” it’s probably not one of the many previously announced films or snows.


2. DAVID HARBOUR TO SPEND VIOLENT NIGHT WITH JOHN WICK TEAM

David Harbour

(Photo by JA/Everett Collection)

Earlier this year, Universal Pictures released the pandemic-delayed action movie Nobody (Certified Fresh at 83%), which teamed Better Call Saul star Bob Odenkirk with the producers of the John Wick franchise. In June, some news about a possible sequel came out, but that was all thrown into question a month later, when Odenkirk had a heart attack while filming Better Call Saul in Albuquerque (thankfully, he has since recovered and returned to work). If a possible Nobody franchise is now unlikely, this week’s new project from Universal Pictures and the John Wick production company 87North could be seen as something of an alternative. Universal has scheduled the holiday-themed action thriller Violent Night, starring David Harbour (Stranger Things, Black Widow), for release on December 2, 2022. No premise details were revealed, other than it being an action thriller somehow involving the holidays. Violent Night will be directed by Norwegian genre director Tommy Wirkola (Dead SnowHansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters), working from a screenplay by Sonic the Hedgehog screenwriters Pat Casey and Josh Miller. Violent Night is currently the only film scheduled for December 2, 2022, which is a week after the boxing sequel Creed III (11/23/2022).


3. PRODUCTION SETBACKS FOR DOCTOR STRANGE AND BLACK PANTHER SEQUELS

Poster for Doctor Strange

(Photo by © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Last month, Marvel Studios shifted its 2022 and 2023 release schedule considerably, and this week, two different production updates provided fans with a bit more context on why two of the films were delayed. Let’s start with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (5/6/2022), which is now undergoing “significant” reshoots. Many big budget movies require reshoots, often because of post-production requirements, but the Doctor Strange sequel reshoots call for an additional (at least) six weeks of filming, with the cast and crew expected to work six days a week. No exact reason for the reshoots was given, but an “insider” source cited both actor availability issues during pricipal photography, story “retooling,” and also “COVID-related production slowdowns.” Another Marvel sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (11/11/2022) experienced a different sort of production delay this week, as the production is now on hiatus for the rest of 2021 while star Letitia Wright recovers from an on-set injury that happened in August, which reportedly was more severe than originally diagnosed.


4. SYLVESTER STALLONE CONFIRMS RETURN IN GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3

Sylvester Stallone in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

Given the success of Guardians of the Galaxy (Certified Fresh at 92%) in 2014, director James Gunn was able to get started relatively quickly on the sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (Certified Fresh at 85%). We might have seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 released in 2020, but Disney fired James Gunn over Tweets posted in poor taste before eventually hiring him back again, all of which means we’re getting the third film on May 5, 2023 instead. The second film ended with a tease about a team of Ravagers led by Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone) that included Michelle Yeoh as Aleta and a robot voiced by Miley Cyrus, but it’s been unclear whether any of those characters would indeed return. We still don’t know about Yeoh or Cyrus, but this week, Sylvester Stallone confirmed that he will indeed return for Vol 3, including a close-up of Stallone in his costume, which is visibly based on his character’s original comic book costume design.


5. MEL GIBSON TO DIRECT LETHAL WEAPON 5

Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon

(Photo by ©Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection)

Almost 12 years after the release of Lethal Weapon (Certified Fresh at 80%) in 1987, Warner Bros. was dared to release Lethal Weapon 4 (Rotten at 53%) in 1998, and it earned noticeably diminished critical acclaim. Production news and rumors about a possible Lethal Weapon 5 have occasionally resurfaced throughout the almost 25 years since Lethal Weapon 4, but the death of franchise director Richard Donner in July seemingly put the kibosh on all of that. Of course, this isn’t any ordinary franchise, and its star Mel Gibson also happens to be an Academy Award-winning director (for Braveheart, Certified Fresh at 79%). Richard Donner’s widow, producer Lauren Schuler Donner, has recruited Gibson to take over as the director of Lethal Weapon 5, which was confirmed by Variety this week shortly after Gibson let the news slip out during an event in London. Gibson will direct from a screenplay by screenwriter Richard Wenk. The premise of Lethal Weapon 5 is not yet known, and it’s unclear if any of the previous franchise co-stars (such as Danny Glover, Rene Russo, or Joe Pesci) will also return, or if they’re simply too old for this s–t.


6. ANTHONY MACKIE TO STAR IN ACTION MOVIE DESERT WARRIOR

Anthony Mackie in Captain America: Civil War

(Photo by Zade Rosenthal/©Marvel)

This past April, Disney+ streamed the season finale of the second live action Marvel Studios series on the service, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Fresh at 89%), which ended with a set up for a fourth Captain America film, with Anthony Mackie taking over the shield from Chris Evans. It will be some time, however, before Captain America 4 starts filming, so Mackie is getting some other projects in. For example, Mackie has joined an international cast on location in Saudi Arabia for Desert Warrior, a historical action epic set in 7th century Arabia. The story revolves around a conflict between an “utterly ruthless” emperor (Sir Ben Kingsley) and a princess (Aiysha Hart) who refuses to become his concubine, with Ghassan Massoud playing her father and Anthony Mackie as a “mysterious bandit.” Desert Warrior is being directed by Rupert Wyatt, who is probably best known for rebooting the Planet of the Apes franchise ten years ago with Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Certified Fresh at 82%).


7. STERLING K. BROWN TO DEPICT GROUNDBREAKING LAWYER IN THE DEFENDER

Sterling K. Brown

(Photo by Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)

Scipio Africanus Jones was a lawyer, judge, and educator who is most remembered for his defense of 12 African-American men convicted to death sentences, the appeal of which set a new precedent over how courts apply the 14th amendment. Despite that achievement (and others), Jones is far from a household name today, but that could soon change, as his story is being adapted as a historical drama called The Defender. Searchlight Pictures has acquired the film rights to the screenplay by E. Nicholas Mariani, with both a director and actor already attached. Sterling K. Brown (This is Us) will star as Scipio Africanus Jones for director George Tillman Jr. (The Hate U Give, Soul Food), who also directed three episodes of This is Us. It will take some time for Searchlight to continue to develop The Defender. In the meantime, George Tillman Jr. is expected to begin filming the untitled George Foreman biopic starring Khris Davis soon, which Sony Pictures has already scheduled for March 24, 2023.


8. THREE MORE JOIN KEIRA KNIGHTLEY IN SERIAL KILLER DRAMA BOSTON STRANGLER

Carrie Coon

(Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Last month, Keira Knightley was cast in Boston Strangler, a 1960s-set historical drama about the serial killer, which is being produced by Ridley Scott. We can now also report that three more acclaimed actors have joined the cast of Boston Strangler. Carrie Coon (TV’s Fargo, The Leftovers) will play a reporter who worked with Knightley’s groundbreaking reporter Loretta McLaughlin, who “challenged the sexism of the early 1960s to report on the city’s most notorious serial killer.” Alessandro Nivola (The Many Saints of Newark) and Chris Cooper (American Beauty) have also joined Boston Strangler, but the nature of their roles have not been revealed yet (although Nivola does bear something of a resemblance to Albert DeSalvo, aka the Boston Strangler). Boston Strangler will be directed by Matt Ruskin (Crown Heights) from his own screenplay.


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Eleanore Beatty

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