This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering new titles such as Godzilla vs Kong 2, Nova, and Voltron.
This WEEK’S TOP STORY
MARVEL’S COSMIC HERO NOVA IN DEVELOPMENT TO JOIN THE MCU
(Photo by Marvel Comics)
In the first Guardians of the Galaxy (Certified Fresh at 94%) in 2014, director and co-writer James Gunn included the Nova Corps as something of a supporting cast and comedic foils. Many Marvel Comics fans, however, were excited to see the Nova Corps on film (even if their uniforms were a little… off), because it suggested that the Marvel Cinematic Universe could someday introduce one of the Earth heroes known as Nova. The first Nova (Richard Rider) was introduced in 1976 and went on to be in super groups like The New Warriors, Defenders, Secret Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy itself. There was also a time when Richard Rider was presumed dead, and another younger Nova (Sam Alexander) took over, and he was also in a few teams, notably the Avengers and the Champions. We bring up both Nova heroes, because there is some mystery around this week’s news that Marvel Studios is now developing a solo Nova project. In addition to it being unclear which Nova the film will be about (some sources are presuming Richard Rider, but that wasn’t confirmed), it’s also unknown if Nova will be a feature film, or perhaps one of the Disney+ streaming series (like WandaVision, Hawkeye, and the upcoming Moon Knight). Whatever it turns out to be, it’s currently being adapted by screenwriter Sabir Pirzada, who also wrote two episodes of Moon Knight.
Other Top Headlines
1. GODZILLA VS. KONG SEQUEL TO BEGIN FILMING THIS YEAR
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)
This is probably an understatement, but over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it extremely difficult to judge the box office success (or failure) of many films that actually had theatrical releases. All of the Warner Bros. films of 2021 were especially handicapped by the decision to release the entire slate day-and-date both in theaters and on HBO Max. So, for example, the $100 million domestic box office of an ambitious monster movie like Godzilla vs. Kong (Certified Fresh at 75%) might seem like a disappointment compared to the budget (though it did earn over $468 million worldwide), but HBO Max also had to have had an impact on that number. Warner Bros. was apparently satisfied with the film’s haul, because Legendary Entertainment is moving forward with plans for a sequel, which will start filming in Australia later this year. The premise of the new film (including what monsters might be featured) is not yet known. Godzilla vs. Kong director Adam Wingard has not been officially confirmed to return for the sequel, but he was reportedly in talks for the job last year, at which time the premise was rumored to be a remake of Son of Kong (Rotten at 42%).
2. BIOPIC FOR GROUNDBREAKING ACTRESS ANNA MAY WONG IN THE WORKS
(Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)
Long before she was one of the characters on the Netflix drama Hollywood (Rotten at 59%), Anna May Wong was a real-life actress of Chinese descent who was one of the very first Asian movie stars with a career in Hollywood that dated all the way back to 1919 in The Red Lantern. Wong may soon get more time in the spotlight, because a biopic about her life is now in development at the British production company Working Title Films. Gemma Chan, who played Sersi in Eternals (Rotten at 47%), as well as roles in Crazy Rich Asians (Certified Fresh at 91%), Captain Marvel (Certified Fresh at 79%), and Raya and the Last Dragon (Certified Fresh at 93%), will star as Anna May Wong and serve as executive producer. Screenwriter David Henry Hwang, who is also working on Disney’s live-action remake of Hunchback of Notre Dame, has been hired to adapt the screenplay from the 2012 biography Anna May Wong: From Laundryman’s Daughter to Hollywood Legend, with Wong’s niece Anna Wong also serving as a consultant.
3. RATCATCHER 2 FROM THE SUICIDE SQUAD JOINS FAST & FURIOUS 10
(Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
One of the fun new characters introduced last year in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (Certified Fresh at 90%) was Ratcatcher 2, played by Portuguese actress Daniela Melchior. This week, Melchior became the second DCEU star to join Fast & Furious 10 (5/19/2023), after Aquaman star Jason Momoa recently joined the sequel as one of the franchise’s new villains. No details about
Melchior’s character are currently known, including whether she will be an ally or one of the villains. It’s also not yet known if another star from The Suicide Squad, John Cena, will reprise his character from last year’s F9 (Rotten at 59%).
4. POP SINGER CIARA JOINS THE COLOR PURPLE MUSICAL
(Photo by Robyn Beck/Getty Images)
Just one year after Steven Spielberg directed his own first movie musical by remaking West Side Story (Certified Fresh at 91%), another film of his is also being revived as a musical. Specifically, we’re talking about The Color Purple (Fresh at 81%), Spielberg’s 1985 adaptation of the eponymous Alice Walker novel. That novel was also adapted as a Broadway musical in 2005, and it’s that musical that Warner Bros. is now adapting for a big screen release on December 20, 2023. There have been a number of casting announcements over the last several months, as the ensemble grew to include people like Taraji P. Henson, Halle Bailey, Fantasia, H.E.R., Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo, Louis Gossett Jr, and Corey Hawkins. The latest name to be added was singer and multi-hyphenate Ciara, who will play the adult version of the character Nettie, the younger version of whom will be portrayed by Halle Bailey, the star of Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid (5/26/2023).
5. SETH ROGEN JOINING AZIZ ANSARI’S DIRECTORIAL DEBUT
(Photo by Elizabeth Goodenough/Everett Collection)
With his Netflix series Master of None (Fresh at 93%) now apparently finished, Aziz Ansari is preparing to make his feature film directorial debut with a Searchlight Pictures project called Being Mortal, which will be an adaptation of the nonfiction book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. Ansari will also star in the movie, which begins filming next month, alongside the already announced Bill Murray. The third actor to join the project this week was Seth Rogen, who is coming off a key role in the Hulu miniseries Pam & Tommy (Fresh at 79%). There may be some corporate synergy going on there, because Searchlight Pictures is also stepping up their production of films for streaming on Hulu, but Being Mortal is confirmed to be receiving a theatrical release in 2023 (before eventually streaming on Hulu).
6. MICHAEL B. JORDAN PRODUCING POST-9/11 DRAMA STARRING YAHYA ABDUL-MATEEN II
(Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)
Many actors have production companies, but some of those companies are more prolific than others, and some of those stars are more involved in the process than others. Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Will Smith (who basically willed the recent Academy Award-nominated film King Richard into existence) are among the more actively involved stars, but we can now add Black Panther and Creed star Michael B. Jordan to the list (and you can see a list of his current producing credits right here). Jordan has landed one of his producing projects at Amazon Studios, as the streaming service has picked up the rights to the post-9/11 drama I Helped Destroy People. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, whose recent credits included Aquaman, HBO’s Watchmen, last year’s Candyman reboot, and The Matrix Resurrections, is already attached to star in the drama as the “FBI’s only Black agent in its Minneapolis field office and a firsthand witness to the racist and xenophobic practices of his colleagues and superiors,” who after 9/11 became involved in surveillance of Muslim and immigrant communities. The film is based upon this story in The New York Times, which gets into more details likely to be included in the film’s plot, but we’re not going to spoil any of that here.
7. WILL THE COLONEL SANDERS BIOPIC BE FINGER LICKIN’ GOOD?
(Photo by Leila Grossman/Getty Images)
Modern fast food enthusiasts may not know this, but the “Colonel Sanders” character that is the mascot for the restaurant franchise Kentucky Fried Chicken was in fact the real founder of the franchise, Harland Sanders, who held the honorary title of Kentucky Colonel. During his life, Colonel Sanders was a devoted promoter of the “KFC” brand (including playing himself in a cameo in the 1970 biker movie Hell’s Bloody Devils), which set KFC apart from other fast food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King that used fictional characters for their mascots. The colorful life of Colonel Sanders is now in development as a biopic to be adapted from the book The Colonel’s Secret: Eleven Herbs and a Spicy Daughter, written by his real-life daughter Margaret Sanders. The current title for the biopic is A Finger Lickin’ Good Story: The Life of Colonel Sanders, but it’s possible that it might be shortened by time of released.
8. PLAY-DOH TO BE MOLDED INTO AN ANIMATED KIDS MOVIE
(Photo by Bloomberg/Getty Images)
At least two of the biggest toy companies are currently devoted quite actively to building a stream of film projects based upon their various toy and game brands. Mattel made the news cycle recently as people responded to the list of 14 different properties that are currently in development (we won’t list them all, but they include Barbie, Barney, Hot Wheels, and Masters of the Universe). Then, of course, there’s Mattel competitor Hasbro, the company behind franchises like G.I. Joe and Transformers. The latest Hasbro film project to move forward in development is Play-Doh, the popular moldable clay brand, which is now being adapted as a family-friendly animated film. The Play-Doh movie will be produced by Jon M. Chu, who is probably best known for directing movies like Crazy Rich Asians (Certified Fresh at 91%) and last year’s In the Heights (Certified Fresh at 94%). The Play-Doh screenplay will be written by Emily V. Gordon, who might be best known for writing the screenplay for The Big Sick (Certified Fresh at 98%), which stars her husband Kumail Nanjiani in a romantic comedy about their own lives. In related news, the still-developing sequel to Crazy Rich Asians got a new screenwriter this week.
9. LIVE-ACTION GIANT ROBOT MOVIE VOLTRON SPARKS BIDDING WAR
(Photo by ©Netflix)
Sometimes, we hear about big movie projects while their status is very much static, and the “story” we’re trying to report on isn’t actually over quite yet. An example of that this week is the live-action Voltron movie, which has been bouncing around in development for several years (dating back most likely to when the first Transformers movies were box office hits). Voltron is already a multimedia franchise, but it is best known for the various TV shows, which have been spun off into things like toys, comic books, and video games. The status of the Voltron movie right now is that Rawson Marshall Thurber (Red Notice, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story) has signed on to direct Voltron, and that news ignited a bidding war among several studios and streamers. Curiously absent from the list is Netflix, which not only produced Thurber’s most recent film (Red Notice) but also produced a successful animated series called Voltron: Legendary Defender that ran for eight seasons, ending in 2018. Since the 2000s, the companies that have tried to make the Voltron movie have included New Regency, Relativity Media, and DreamWorks.