Christopher Walken Joins Dune Part Two in Pivotal Role, and More Movie News

This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Dirty Dancing 2, Dune Part Two, Scream 6, and Spinal Tap II.


This WEEK’S TOP STORY

CHRISTOPHER WALKEN TO REIGN AS DUNE PART TWO’S EMPEROR

(Photo by Stephane De Sakutin/Getty Images)

If a movie fan watched David Lynch’s 1984 film Dune (Rotten at 44%) just before seeing last year’s Dune (Certified Fresh at 83%) from director Denis Villeneuve, they might notice that there are three missing characters of note. As Villeneuve prepares to film Dune Part Two (10/20/2023), a couple of those roles have since been cast, like Florence Pugh as Princess Irulan, and Elvis star Austin Butler stepping into Sting’s shoes as Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen. Before this week, that meant that the third major character not yet cast for Dune Part Two was the Emperor Shaddam IV, who is referenced in Villeneuve’s first film but never seen. Christopher Walken has officially joined the cast of Dune Part Two in that role, taking over the character played in 1984 by the late José Ferrer. Walken, Pugh, and Butler will join the returning ensemble cast that includes Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Javier Bardem, and Rebecca Ferguson, as the story picks up where the first left off. Dune Part Two (10/20/2023) is currently one of just three films that are scheduled for October 2023, along with an untitled new entry in The Exorcist franchise, and PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie, both scheduled for Friday, October 13, 2023. HBO Max is also developing a spinoff series called Dune: The Sisterhood, which Villeneuve is not expected to direct, about the mysterious Bene Gesserit order.


Other Top Headlines

1. TURN IT UP TO 11: SPINAL TAP SEQUEL IN THE WORKS FOR 2024

Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, and Michael McKean in This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

(Photo by Everett Collection)

As producers continue to announce projects that will on sale next week at the Cannes Film Market, there was at least one genuine surprise in the mix. Rob Reiner and Castle Rock Entertainment have confirmed that filming will soon start on a sequel to Reiner’s 1984 comedy classic and rock mockumentary comedy This is Spinal Tap (Certified Fresh at 95%). Reiner (Stand by Me, The Princess Bride) will again direct (and co-star as filmmaker Marty DiBergi) the returning three stars Christopher Guest (Nigel Tufnel), Michael McKean (David St. Hubbins), and Harry Shearer (Derek Smalls). Spinal Tap II is already scheduled for release on March 19, 2024 (though, oddly, that is a Tuesday), which is 10 days before Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse (3/29/2024), the third film in that animated trilogy. The Spinal Tap II premise will revolve around the death of band manager Ian Faith (played by the late Tony Hendra), who leaves behind a contract that states that Spinal Tap owes Faith one final concert, forcing the band to reunite despite decades of “bad blood” between them. Rob Reiner has said that he expects there to be several cameos from real musicians who are fans of This is Spinal Tap, but no names have been confirmed yet. The original film also had a number of famous comic actors in supporting roles that could possibly return for the sequel, like Ed Begley Jr., Dana Carvey, Billy Crystal, Fran Drescher, Anjelica Huston, and Paul Schaffer. It’s not yet known if movie theaters will be required to install new sound systems that can be turned up to 11.


2. SCREAM 4 FINAL GIRL HAYDEN PANETTIERE TO RETURN FOR SCREAM 6

Hayden Panettiere in Scream 4 (2011)

(Photo by ©Dimension Films)

Last year’s “requel” Scream (Certified Fresh at 76%), the fifth film in the franchise, featured both a new cast of young victims, survivors, and possible (no spoilers here) killers, along with a few returning stars from previous films like Neve Campbell (Sidney Prescott), Courteney Cox (Gale Weathers), David Arquette (Dewey Riley), Heather Matarazzo (Martha Meeks from Scream 3), and Marley Shelton (Judy Hicks from Scream 4). Going into this week, Scream 6, which is already scheduled for March 31, 2023, had just one known returning cast member in Courtney Cox, who vaguely raved about the screenplay this week, but several more Scream 6 actors have now been announced. When Scream (2022) picked up the story, one of the mysteries from Scream 4 that was left unanswered was the fate of Kirby Reed (unless you spotted this Easter egg), played by Hayden Panettiere, who appeared to have been killed in Scream 4. Panettiere will indeed return in Scream 6 as Kirby Reed, although it’s not yet known how substantial her role will be. The new central characters appear to be the two sets of siblings who survived last year’s Scream; the sisters played by Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera, and the twins (and Mindy Meeks’ kids) played by Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy-Brown, with all four actors set to return. Scream 6 will follow those four friends and siblings as “they leave Woodsboro behind and attempt to start a fresh chapter.” Scream 6 will again be directed by the team of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who also co-directed Devil’s Due (Rotten at 18%) and Ready or Not (Certified Fresh at 88%).


3. DAN STEVENS FIRST TO JOIN GODZILLA VS KONG 2

Dan Stevens

(Photo by Bruce Glikas/Getty Images)

Even though it will soon be 10 years since the Season 2 finale of Downton Abbey (Fresh at 91%) first aired in 2012, many fans still consider the surprise “departure” of series star Dan Stevens as one of the show’s most shocking moments. To his credit, Stevens has kept very busy since then, working on movies like Colossal (Certified Fresh at 81%), Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast (Fresh at 71%), and Netflix’s Eurovision Song Contest (Fresh at 63%). One of the first films Stevens starred in after Downton Abbey was the 2014 thriller The Guest (Certified Fresh at 92%), directed by Adam Wingard, whose most recent film was last year’s Godzilla vs Kong (Certified Fresh at 75%). Godzilla vs Kong was one of the Warner Bros. films last year that also streamed day-and-date with its theatrical release, which may have explained the film’s relatively disappointing box office opening of just $31 million in the midst of the pandemic. Despite those numbers, Warner Bros. hasn’t given up on their Godzilla franchise just yet, with a Godzilla vs Kong sequel scheduled to start filming this summer in Australia. Godzilla vs Kong 2 will also be a reunion project as the new lead — and the first to join the cast — is Dan Stevens, while Wingard will return to direct. It’s not yet known if any of the surviving cast from Godzilla vs Kong, like Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler, or Brian Tyree Henry will be returning for the sequel.


4. ETERNALS STAR GEMMA CHAN TO GET HER OWN CRAZY RICH ASIANS SPINOFF

Gemma Chan in Crazy Rich Asians

(Photo by ©Warner Bros. Pictures)

Many moviegoers may know Gemma Chan best for her her two roles in MCU movies, first as the Kree villain Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel (Certified Fresh at 79%) and then as Sersi in last year’s Eternals (Rotten at 47%). Before either of those films, Chan also had a standout role in the hit romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians (Certified Fresh at 91%). A sequel to that film is still in development, but its release may be a few years away now, as director Jon M. Chu is busy working on the two movies based on the Broadway musical Wicked, starring Ariana Grande. Possibly to bridge that gap, Warner Bros. is now developing a Crazy Rich Asians spinoff that will focus on the romance between the Astrid and Charlie characters played by Gemma Chan and Harry Shum Jr. The new project got its start following a “dynamite pitch” to Warner Bros. by screenwriter Jason Kim, who worked with Warner Bros’ HBO on 10 episodes of Girls (Fresh at 89%) and two episodes of Barry (Fresh at 99%). Kim is now working on the Crazy Rich Asians spinoff, which will be at least partially adapted from Kevin Kwan’s sequel novel China Rich Girlfriend, which also features Astrid and Charlie.


5. ADAM DRIVER TO LEAD FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA’S MEGALOPOLIS

Adam Driver in This Is Where I Leave You

(Photo by Jessica Miglio/©Warner Bros. Pictures)

Over the 20+ years that Francis Ford Coppola has been trying to get his epic futuristic drama Megalopolis produced, dozens of actors have been considered, including (back in the 2000s) Nicolas Cage (his cousin), Russell Crowe, Robert De Niro, Paul Newman, and more recently, actors like Oscar Isaac, Jessica Lange, and Zendaya. With Coppola independently financing the (just under) $100 million budget with his own money, Megalopolis is finally expected to start filming in late 2022, and we now have what appears to be the final official cast list (or at least, the first five cast members). Adam Driver has landed the lead role, Nathalie Emmanuel (Fast X) is the female lead, and three other key roles have gone to Forest Whitaker, Jon Voight, and Laurence Fishburne (who, incidentally, got his start at age 14 in Coppola’s Apocalypse Now). Francis Ford Coppola describes Megalopolis as a reflection of how “the fate of Rome haunts a modern world unable to solve its own social problems in this epic story of political ambition, genius, and conflicted love.”


6. FREQUENT SETH ROGEN DIRECTOR TAKES ON 1990S-SET DIRTY DANCING SEQUEL

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing (1987)

(Photo by Artisan Entertainment courtesy Everett Collection)

In additon to movies like the “zom com” Warm Bodies (Certified Fresh at 81%), the Sundance hit The Wackness (Fresh at 70%), and the Amy Schumer comedy Snatched (Rotten at 36%), director Jonathan Levine is best known for his projects starring Seth Rogen like Long Shot (Certified Fresh at 81%) and 50/50 (Certified Fresh at 93%). Levine has also avoided sequels or franchises, but that will soon change, as he has been hired to direct the long-in-development sequel to the nostalgic 1987 musical hit Dirty Dancing (Fresh at 69%). Jennifer Grey will reprise her role as “Baby” in the sequel, which will return to the Catskills setting of the original film but will be set 40 years later in the 1990s, with hip-hop songs of the 1990s expected to be used prominently alongside familiar hits from the first movie. Exact details of the coming-of-age sequel aren’t yet known (except that Baby’s life and another woman’s “intertwine” at Kellerman’s Lodge), including whether the sequel will address the decline of the Catskills as a resort area by the 1990s (depressing images of the abandoned resorts frequently appear on social media).


7. ANNA KENDRICK AND BLAKE LIVELY TO RETURN FOR A SIMPLE FAVOR SEQUEL

Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively in A Simple Favor (2018)

(Photo by Peter Iovino/©Lionsgate)

Produced on a budget of just $20 million, the 2018 comic thriller A Simple Favor (Certified Fresh at 84%) seemed to come out of nowhere and surprise box office pundits with a domestic take of nearly $100 million. It’s not quite so surprising, then, the film is officially getting a sequel, with stars Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively both signed to reprise their roles for returning director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters). Screenwriter Jessica Sharzer, who adapted the first film from the novel by Darcey Bell, is now working on adapting the sequel. In the first film, Anna Kendrick played a single mom and vlogger who befriends a successful neighbor played by Blake Lively, who then disappears, leading Kendrick’s character to investigate the mystery, but it’s unclear what the premise of the sequel might be. The sequel to A Simple Favor is being produced by Lionsgate in conjunction with Amazon Studios.


8. EMILY BLUNT TO STAR IN HARRY POTTER DIRECTOR’S PAIN HUSTLERS

Emily Blunt

(Photo by Vera Anderson/Getty Images)

Director David Yates has directed so many movies based on the works of J.K. Rowling (the last four Harry Potter films and all three Fantastic Beasts films) that it’s perhaps now difficult to remember that he actually got his start with movies like Sex Traffic and The Girl in the Cafe (Yates also directed The Legend of Tarzan in between the two franchises). Yates appears ready to get back to his more grounded roots with a conspiracy drama about the pharmaceutical industry called Pain Hustlers, with Emily Blunt now attached to star. Blunt will play as “a high school dropout who lands a job with a failing pharmaceutical startup in a Florida strip mall, [who then] catapults the company into the high life and finds herself at the center of a criminal conspiracy with deadly consequences.” Filming of Pain Hustlers will start on August 22nd, after Emily Blunt wraps filming of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer (7/21/2023).


9. ANNE HATHAWAY AND JESSIC CHASTAIN SHARE MOTHERS’ INSTINCT

Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain pose for a photo together

(Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

Amidst the dozens of movies being announced this week in advance of next week’s Cannes Film Market, one of the standout titles is a psychological thriller called Mothers’ Instinct, starring Academy Award winners Jessica Chastain (for The Eyes of Tammy Faye) and Anne Hathaway (for Les Miserables). Mothers’ Instinct will be an English-language remake of the 2018 Belgian thriller Duelles (Fresh at 73%), and that film’s director, Olivier Masset-Depasse, will also be directing the the new film when it begins production on May 25th. Set in the 1960s, Mothers’ Instinct will tell the stories of two housewives who are best friends and neighbors until “a tragic accident shatters the perfect harmony of their lives, guilt, suspicion and paranoia begin to unravel their sisterly bond and a darker side of the maternal instinct emerges.” The U.S. rights to Mothers’ Instinct have been secured by the indie distributor Neon, which also has a streaming deal with Hulu.


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Kenneth Proto

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