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This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Girls Trip 2, Nosferatu, Violent Night 2, and Wallace & Gromit.
This WEEK’S TOP STORY
WILLEM DAFOE REUNITES WITH ROBERT EGGERS FOR NOSFERATU
(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Robert Eggers’ recent Viking epic The Northman (Certified Fresh at 89%) featured three returning cast members from his 2015 film The Witch (Certified Fresh at 90%), namely Anya Taylor-Joy, Kate Dickie, and Ralph Ineson. So far, however, the cast of his remake of the 1922 German vampire silent film Nosferatu (itself an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula) has only included actors Eggers hasn’t worked with before: Nicholas Hoult, Lily-Rose Depp, and, as the film’s titular vampire, Bill Skarsgård (whose brother Alexander starred in The Northman). That has changed with the remake’s fourth cast member, as Willem Dafoe, who starred in The Lighthouse (Certified Fresh at 90%) and had a key supporting role in The Northman, is now in talks for an undisclosed role in Nosferatu. Two likely possibilities for Dafoe’s character are the film’s anecdotes for Dr. Van Helsing and the vampire’s assistant Renfield (those names weren’t used in the 1922 original, but they were in Werner Herzog’s previous 1979 remake, also called Nosferatu). It’s also worth noting that Willem Dafoe has a previous history with Nosferatu, as he starred as the actor Max Schreck in Shadow of the Vampire (Certified Fresh at 81%), a fictionalized retelling of the filming of Nosferatu. There is no release date yet for Robert Eggers’ Nosferatu, but it will likely be after this year’s two Dracula-inspired films, Renfield (4/14/2023) — also featuring Nicholas Hoult — and Last Voyage of the Demeter (8/11/2023), about the ship that transported Count Dracula to England in Bram Stoker’s novel.
Other Top Headlines
1. SECOND WALLACE & GROMIT MOVIE COMING NEXT YEAR
(Photo by ©BBC courtesy Everett Collection)
The stop motion characters Wallace & Gromit got off to an impressive start in the mid-1990s, winning two Academy Awards for The Wrong Trousers (Fresh at 100%) and A Close Shave (Fresh at 100%), after their first short, A Grand Day Out (Fresh at 100%) was also nominated. Those shorts were followed in 2005 by a feature film, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Certified Fresh at 95%), but that film was released almost 20 years ago. Wallace & Gromit fans will not, however, have to wait much longer for the second feature film, as Netflix has announced that director Nick Park’s next film will start streaming sometime in 2024. The official premise goes partly like this: “Gromit’s concern that Wallace has become overdependent on his inventions proves justified, when Wallace invents a ‘smart gnome’ that seems to develop a mind of its own.” The second Wallace & Gromit feature film isn’t, however, the only sequel that Aardman Animations are delivering for Netflix, as the Chicken Run (Certified Fresh at 97%) sequel Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget (11/10/2023) will start streaming later this year.
2. CONFESS, FLETCH SEQUEL IN THE WORKS DESPITE BOX OFFICE WOES
(Photo by ©Paramount Global)
Although the box office success of recent genre films like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Avatar: The Way of Water, and M3GAN have inspired some on “Film Twitter” to pronounce the triumphant return of theatrical cinema, an analysis of 2022 shows that the going was much rougher for mid-market movies like comedies and dramas. One of the biggest box office flops of 2022 may have been Confess, Fletch (Certified Fresh at 85%), which rebooted the 1980s Chevy Chase franchise with Jon Hamm, and earned just 5% of its budget back theatrically ($1 million off a budget of $20 million). Director Greg Mottola appears to be undaunted, however, as he is now working on an adaptation of author Gregory McDonald’s third Fletch novel, Fletch’s Fortune (Confess, Fletch was the second Fletch novel), which was set at a journalism conference. Jon Hamm has not officially signed on for the sequel yet, but he reportedly “donated 60% of his salary” to save Confess, Fletch, so he appears to be a true believer in the character.
3. SANTA CLAUS TO GET INTO MORE FIGHTS IN VIOLENT NIGHT 2
(Photo by ©Universal Pictures)
Christmas Day of 2022 was over a month ago, which means that the theatrical release of the Christmas-themed action comedy Violent Night (Fresh at 73%), starring David Harbour as Santa Claus, is winding down, with a global box office haul of over $75 million from a budget of just $20 million. Director Tommy Wirkola revealed this week that he and the Violent Night screenwriters are indeed currently working on developing a screenplay for a sequel that promises to touch upon more of the Santa Claus mytholgy that was “left on the floor like the North Pole, Mrs. Claus, [and] the elves.” Violent Night writers Pat Casey and Josh Miller also wrote Sonic the Hedgehog (Fresh at 63%), and co-wrote its sequel Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Fresh at 69%). David Harbour will presumably return as Santa Claus, but no additional casting, including Mrs. Claus, has been announced yet.
4. NEW LINE WINS “INTENSE” AUCTION FOR NEXT FILM FROM BARBARIAN TEAM
(Photo by ©20th Century Studios)
Every January, fans and pundits alike attempt to predict “movies to watch out for” in the coming year, and invariably, most predictions are only half right, as some films underperform or disappoint, and others come out of nowhere. One film that no one was talking about 12 months ago was the horror film Barbarian (Certified Fresh at 92%), which had its world premiere at San Diego Comic-Con in July, 2022. Four months after the film’s release, the Barbarian team, including director Zack Cregger, were the focus of an “intense auction” among various Hollywood studios (including Netflix and Universal Pictures) for their next horror/thriller called Weapons. The win eventually went to New Line Cinema, reportedly due to the distributor’s commitment to ensuring both a greenlight and a wide theatrical release. The premise is still being kept secret, except that it’s “an interrelated, multistory horror epic that tonally is in the vein of” Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia (Certified Fresh at 83%).
5. GIRLS TRIP 2 SETS GHANA AS ITS NEXT VACATION DESTINATION
(Photo by Michele K. Short/©Universal Pictures)
Ever since Girls Trip (Certified Fresh at 92%) was a comedy hit in 2017 (and basically established Tiffany Haddish as a new movie star), the idea of a Girls Trip 2 has been quietly percolating through development at Universal Pictures, but the actual premise has been more of a mystery. Although the first film was strictly a domestic vacation (New Orleans), for the sequel, the four leads (Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, and Jada Pinkett Smith) will be journeying off on an international vacation in the West African nation of Ghana, the film’s writer-director Tracey Oliver revealed at the Sundance Film Festival this week. One of the reasons the Girls Trip stars are going to Ghana will be to attend Afrochella (now called AfroFuture), an African music festival whose original name was partly borrowed from the USA’s Coachella. No filming or release date for Girls Trip 2 has been confirmed as of yet, as Tracey Oliver has not yet finished her screenplay.
6. ETHAN HAWKE TO DIRECT DAUGHTER (AND STRANGER THINGS STAR) MAYA HAWKE IN WILDCAT
(Photo by Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)
Ethan Hawke will soon return to directing with a feature film called Wildcat about the life of acclaimed Southern author Flannery O’Connor, whose career was cut short after just two novels when she died in 1964 at the age of 39. For his lead, Ethan Hawke has cast his daughter Maya Hawke (Robin from Stranger Things) as Flannery O’Connor. Maya Hawke will be supported by an ensemble cast that includes Vincent D’Onofrio, Cooper Hoffman (Licorice Pizza), Laura Linney, Alessandro Nivola, and Steve Zahn. Ethan Hawke recently posted an image to Instagram from the set of Wildcat on location in Louisville, Kentucky, ending with the sentiment, “let’s hope I don’t blow it.”
7. AMY RYAN JOINS GEORGE CLOONEY/BRAD PITT CRIME THRILLER FOR APPLE TV+
(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images)
We’ve known since 2021 that George Clooney was set to reunite with frequent co-star Brad Pitt (in the Ocean’s trilogy and the Coen brothers’ Burn After Reading) in a crime thriller to be written and directed by Jon Watts, the man behind the recent Spider-Man trilogy, with all three producing as well. The news of their collaboration inspired a bidding war between Sony, Lionsgate, Netflix, and Apple TV+, with the latter eventually winning. Around the same time that production on the film began in New York this week, we also learned that Amy Ryan (The Wire, The Office, Gone Baby Gone, Only Murders in the Building) has joined the cast in an undisclosed role. The film, which doesn’t have an official title but is being referred to as “Wolves” by some outlets, will center on Clooney and Pitt’s characters, “two lone-wolf fixers assigned to the same job.” And while Apple TV+ has slated the film for a theatrical release, we don’t yet know when that will be.
8. MADONNA PULLS THE PLUG ON HER OWN BIOPIC
(Photo by Kristin Callahan/Everett Collection)
Almost six years ago, Universal Pictures landed the rights to a film project then called Blond Ambition, about the life of pop star Madonna, and then two years ago, Madonna signed on to direct and co-write her own biopic (separate from the Blond Ambition project). That led to several months during which a number of actresses auditioned (or were at least considered) for the role, including Florence Pugh and Sydney Sweeney. The role eventually went to Julia Garner, but as it turns out, the Ozark and Inventing Anna star will have a lot more time on her hands, because Madonna has put the biopic on “indefinite hold,” with Universal Pictures stopping all development on the project. Instead, Madonna is fully throwing herself behind a new world tour of concerts which last week sold out in major cities like London, Paris, and New York within minutes.