This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Lilo & Stitch, Thunderbolts, and Venom 3.
This WEEK’S TOP STORY
WARNER BROS. WANTS MORE LORD OF THE RINGS MOVIES
(Photo by ©New Line Cinema)
Going into 2023, keeping track of all the various Lord of the Rings movies was already confusing, but we might need to start keeping a scorecard now. Not counting anything made before 2000, there were Peter Jackson’s six movies (three each for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit), Amazon’s recent prequel series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Fresh at 83%), and Warner Bros.’ upcoming animated film for next year called The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim (4/21/2024). Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema have now made a deal with the Swedish video game conglomerate Embracer Group for the rights to make additional films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It’s unclear what exactly WB and New Line plan to do with this new deal, which appears not to include J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, arguably the largest untapped source of Tolkien stories (Amazon’s The Rings of Power also does not have rights to the stories in The Silmarillion). Early speculation from The Hollywood Reporter is that “Warners now could focus on new stories centering on Tolkien’s big guns such as Gandalf, Bilbo, and Aragorn.” For their part, Peter Jackson and his co-writing partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens seem to be congratulatory towards New Line Cinema, saying, “We look forward to speaking with them further to hear their vision for the franchise moving forward.” The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim (4/21/2024), which will be produced separate from this new deal, will tell the backstory of the fortress of Helm’s Deep and its King of Rohan, Helm Hammerhand.
Other Top Headlines
1. JAMES CAMERON TO TAKE A BREAK FROM AVATAR TO BOARD THE LAST TRAIN FROM HIROSHIMA
(Photo by ©20th Century Fox)
With James Cameron talking recently about possibly making Avatar 6 and Avatar 7 someday, Avatar: The Way of Water (Certified Fresh at 76%) may only represent one third of the eventual Avatar saga. That also means that Cameron will only have a limited amount of time to direct other movies (even if he does eventually hand off some of the sequels to another director). This week, Cameron revealed that he does plan on taking some time off from Avatar 4 (12/18/2026) to finally direct a film he’s been developing since at least 2010. That film will be an adaptation of Charles R. Pellegrino’s non-fiction book The Last Train from Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back, which will be a drama about the two hydrogen bombings on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the perspective of the civillians on the ground. Cameron’s development work on The Last Train from Hiroshima included interviewing Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only Japanese survivor of both bombings, in 2010, just before his death later that year. Reflecting on why he wants to return to The Last Train from Hiroshima, Cameron said, “We live in a more precarious world than we thought we did. I think the Hiroshima film would be as timely as ever, if not more so.” Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, which depicts the story of the Hiroshima bomb from its creation, will be released this summer, on July 21, 2023. There is currently no release date for The Last Train from Hiroshima, but it likely won’t be until 2024, 2025, or 2026.
2. ZACH GALIFIANAKIS TO STAR IN LIVE-ACTION LILO & STITCH
(Photo by JC Olivera/Getty Images)
Walt Disney Pictures is now nearly 20 movies into the studio’s ambitious plans to produce “live-action remakes” of its various classic animated films (the next three will be The Little Mermaid on 5/26/2023, Peter Pan & Wendy, and Snow White on 3/22/2024). Another project that appears closer to being filmed is Lilo & Stitch, based on the 2002 animated film about a little Hawaiian girl who befriends an alien criminal on the loose on Earth. The first actor cast in the new Lilo & Stitch this week was Zach Galifianakis, who is probably best known for his role in The Hangover and its sequels. It’s unclear who Galifianakis will be playing (though some sources claim it will not be Stitch), and Disney is currently conducting a national search for young actors to play Lilo and her older sister Nani. The new Lilo & Stitch will be directed by Dean Fleischer Camp (Marcel the Shell with Shoes On) and premiere directly on the Disney+ app.
3. HELLBOY: THE CROOKED MAN TO BE FOLK HORROR MORE FAITHFUL TO THE COMICS
(Photo by ©Universal Studios)
Guillermo del Toro’s 2004 superhero movie Hellboy (Certified Fresh at 81%) and especially its sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Certified Fresh at 86%) were colorful adventures that showed off Del Toro’s visionary style. There is, however, an argument to be made that they were not 100% faithful to Hellboy creator Mike Mignola’s original comic books, which were so dark that they were actually printed on black paper. One person who would make that argument is director Brian Taylor (co-director of Crank, Crank: High Voltage, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance), who clarified this week what his reboot, Hellboy: The Crooked Man, will be like. Taylor said of Mike Mignola’s comics (contrasting with del Toro’s films), “But some of the comics Mike was doing at the time had a very different feeling. More lean and mean, creepy folk horror. A younger Hellboy, wandering the dark corners of the world… Paranormal investigator, night stalker… [so the appeal is to] really give us that version of Hellboy, which I don’t think we’ve seen yet.” Hellboy: The Crooked Man, based on the graphic novel of the same title, will be set in the 1950s, feature a younger Hellboy than either the Ron Perlman or David Harbour movies, and will be the first Hellboy movie co-written by Mignola himself. No casting, including the title character, has been announced yet, but filming is scheduled to start in March in Bulgaria, so there should be news soon. Hellboy: The Crooked Man should also not be confused with The Conjuring spinoff that franchise creator James Wan recently confirmed is no longer happening.
4. STEVEN YEUN JOINS MARVEL’S THUNDERBOLTS IN MULTI-FILM DEAL
(Photo by Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)
We may still not know which characters and actors will comprise the ensembles of upcoming Marvel Studios movies like Fantastic Four (2/14/2025) and Avengers: The Kang Dynasty (5/2/2025), but Thunderbolts (7/26/2024) was announced with its main cast, which includes MCU veterans like David Harbour, Florence Pugh, and Sebastian Stan, almost immediately. Even with such a large ensemble of stars at its core, Thunderbolts will also introduce some new actors, like Harrison Ford (stepping in for the late William Hurt), Ayo Edebiri (The Bear), and now, Steven Yeun, the former The Walking Dead fan-favorite star who turned in an Oscar-nominated performance in 2020’s Minari and is coming off of Jordan Peele’s supernatural thiller Nope. The identity of Yeun’s role in Thunderbolts is being kept secret for now (as is usual for Marvel Studios), but it’s expected to be one that will reappear in other upcoming MCU films and shows.
5. PARAMOUNT TO BUY BUY BUY RYAN REYNOLDS’ BOY BAND
(Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
No one can accuse Ryan Reynolds of slacking off on his career as a movie star, as he has led at least two major films for each of the last several years (we’ll give him a pass for 2020 because of the pandemic), and with projects like Imaginary Friends (5/24/2024), Deadpool 3 (11/8/2024), and Red Notice 2 coming soon, he’s definitely not slowing down anytime soon. This week, Reynolds added yet another project to his slate, as he will produce and star in Paramount Pictures’ musical comedy Boy Band, which, as the title suggests, will be about an aging boy band’s reunion project. Reynolds co-wrote Boy Band with screenwriter Jesse Andrews (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), and his frequent director Shawn Levy (Free Guy, The Adam Project) may also direct the film, which is currently eyeing a production start date in either late 2023 or early 2024, suggesting a release date in either late 2024 or sometime in 2025.
6. TOM HARDY REVEALS VENOM 3 IS NOW IN PRE-PRODUCTION
(Photo by ©Sony Pictures Releasing)
Marvel Studios and the Marvel Cinematic Universe seemed to become easier to track in 2019 when Disney bought the film and TV assets of the the former 21st Century Fox, promising to bring in the Fantastic Four (2/14/2025) and X-Men characters. That, however, is not the complete story, as movie audiences still have to somehow make sense of Sony’s own Marvel Comics movies, all of which began in the comics as Spider-Man supporting characters, such as Venom (Rotten at 30%), Morbius (Rotten at 16%), and the upcoming Kraven the Hunter (10/6/2023), among others. Another movie that appears likely to be added to Sony’s calendar soon is Venom 3, as franchise star Tom Hardy took to Instagram this week to post a video with the caption, “Whilst working on V3 pre prep,” which was basically his way of announcing that he is now working with Sony Pictures on pre-production of Venom 3. No premise or casting has been announced for Venom 3 yet, but the ending of Venom: Let There Be Carnage seemed to suggest the introduction of the Marvel Comics character Toxin.