This week’s Ketchup includes remakes of The Wizard of Oz and The Swarm, and new roles and potential new roles for George Clooney, Sacha Baron Cohen, Daniel Day-Lewis and Robert Downey, Jr.
THIS WEEK’S TOP STORY
While Hollywood is in the midst of the current wave of remakes, there remain a few classic movies that are considered perfect, and therefore untouchable for remakes. This week, however, one of those classics was revealed to be getting exactly that: The Wizard of Oz. L. Frank Baum’s book is already the subject of two planned movies that would reinterpret the story from the perspective of both the Wicked Witch of the West (Universal’s movie version of the musical Wicked) and Oz (Disney’s Oz: The Great and Powerful, starring Robert Downey Jr. as the Wizard). However, the newly announced project at Warner Bros is a much more direct remake, working off the original 1939 movie’s script. What is unclear is whether this remake will also retain all of the original movie’s songs (although it’s difficult to imagine the script being used without them). There’s also no word as to whether the script would be used exactly, or whether a modern writer would be hired to adapt the script that was written by a massive team of 19 screenwriters (including Bert Lahr, who played the Cowardly Lion). One detail that is known already is that Robert Zemeckis (Beowulf, Back to the Future), who was mentioned in the initial report, will not be directing this Wizard of Oz remake. Zemeckis will instead continue to focus on his CGI animated remake of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.
FRESH DEVELOPMENTS THIS WEEK
After bringing characters from Da Ali G Show to the big screen in Borat and Brüno, Sacha Baron Cohen is set to make a third, similar movie called The Dictator, but this time, it’s an entirely new character. In The Dictator, Cohen will play two different characters as they explore America, in a style very similar to both Borat and Brüno. One will be the title character of a deposed foreign ruler, and the other will be a goat herder from the same (possibly fictional) country. Cohen will again be working with Larry Charles (Religulous), who also directed those two previous movies. Cohen and Charles will be working with three screenwriters who have all worked with the director on the Larry David TV series Curb Your Enthusiasm: Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer. That trio of writers have also worked together previously on EuroTrip and The Cat in the Hat. The Dictator will be a Paramount Pictures production, and is expected to be Cohen’s next movie after he wraps filming of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo Cabret. Sacha Baron Cohen is also attached to star in the planned Freddie Mercury biopic.
With the two Paranormal Activity movies, Paramount Pictures discovered a new “hidden camera” franchise that could be made on the cheap and released to huge box office (worldwide grosses of $193 million and $157 million to date, respectively). So, it’s not at all surprising that the studio has already scheduled Paranormal Activity 3 for a release date on October 21, 2011. There’s no word yet as to who will direct Paranormal Activity 3. The first film’s director Oren Peli only produced the prequel/sequel, with the directing job instead going to Tod Williams (The Door in the Floor).
ROTTEN IDEAS OF THE WEEK
Relativity Media (Skyline, Robin Hood) is in talks with both Gerard Butler and director Antoine Fuqua (Shooter, King Arthur) to come aboard their adaptation of the independent Red 5 comic book Afterburn. The science fiction thriller takes place in the future a year after a solar flare has burned half the planet, and tells the story of a band of treasure hunters searching for items of value left behnd. Afterburn has been in development for a few years now, and at one point, Tobey Maguire had been producing and had been expected to star. The original Afterburn script was adapted by Matt Johnson (Torque, Into the Blue), and Christian Gudegast (cowriter of A Man Apart) is now being brought in to do a rewrite. Afterburn is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas because except for Training Day and the documentary Lightning in a Bottle, Antoine Fuqua’s track record is mostly in the mixed range (below 50%) on the Tomatometer.
Few movie ideas could be as rotten as a remake of The Wizard of Oz.