This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Five Nights at Freddy’s, The Oregon Trail, Spawn, and Tarzan.
There are YouTube “Let’s Plays” and reaction videos for nearly every video game ever made, but there is a whole subset of reaction videos specifically for the 2014 horror game Five Nights at Freddy’s and its sequels. There have been various attempts to get a Five Nights at Freddy’s movie going for over seven years, including a period when two-time Harry Potter director Chris Columbus was considering the job. Horror specialist Blumhouse is now on board the effort to bring the game’s spooky animatronic robot animals to the big screen. The Five Nights at Freddy’s movie will be directed by Emma Tammi (The Wind), with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop handling the design and production of the various animatronic animals that come to life at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza at night. Filming of Five Nights at Freddy’s is expected to start sometime in early 2023.
Marvel fans who have been keeping up with the Disney+ shows have probably noticed that they are very much setting up the future of the MCU, including movies like The Marvels (2/17/2023) – featuring Iman Vellani Ms. Marvel – and Captain America: New World (5/3/2024) – a direct follow-up to Anthony Mackie becoming Captain America in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The Phase Five and Six movies have also been drawing upon the writers and directors of the Disney+ shows, and that happened again this week. Marvel Studios has drafted Loki head writer Michael Waldron to adapt the screenplay for Avengers: Secret Wars (11/7/2025), which will reportedly end the MCU’s Phase Six and Marvel’s ongoing “Multiverse Saga,” which arguably began in Loki. Destin Daniel Cretton (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) was hired in July to direct Avengers: The Kang Dynasty (5/2/2025), but no director has been announced for Avengers: Secret Wars yet.
As computers were first introduced into schools in the 1980s, there were gaps in the sorts of “educational games” that were available, especially for older students. One game that seems to have been almost universally available was The Oregon Trail, a deceptively simple game about surviving the long journey across America in the 1800s that often ended with deaths from dysentery. The Oregon Trail is also now in development as a movie musical from the team behind this week’s Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, which includes co-directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck and songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Will Speck also mentioned in an interview this week that the publishing company behind The Oregon Trail is also on board as one of the movie’s co-producers.
(Photo by New Line Cinema)
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the 1997 superhero film Spawn (Rotten at 17%), based upon Image Comics’ and creator Todd McFarlane’s supernatural antihero. For almost all of those 25 years, McFarlane has been trying to get a sequel and/or a remake developed. The Spawn reboot may finally get produced thanks to the horror specializing production company Blumhouse (which coincidentally also made the news this week for reviving the Five Nights at Freddy’s project). To get Spawn going again, Blumhouse has recruited two screenwriters with past experience adapting popular comic book characters: Scott Silver (co-writer of Joker and its upcoming sequel Joker: Folie à Deux), Malcolm Spellman (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the upcoming Captain America: New World Order ), and relative newcomer Matt Mixon. Jamie Foxx remains attached to take over the Spawn role first portrayed in 1997 by Michael Jai White.
4. SONY PICTURES ACQUIRES TARZAN RIGHTS FOR NEW FRANCHISE
(Photo by Jonathan Olley/©Warner Bros.)
In the 110 years since Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan first appeared in the 1912 novel Tarzan of the Apes, the character has appeared in dozens of films, as well as various TV shows and other adaptations. We haven’t gotten quite as many in the last 25 years, with the highest profile adaptations being Disney’s 1999 animated film Tarzan (Certified Fresh at 89%), and Warner Bros’ 2016 attempt at restarting the franchise with The Legend of Tarzan (Rotten at 35%), starring Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie. Nearly every studio in Hollywood has tried at least one Tarzan movie, with the exception (to this writer’s knowledge) of Sony (or Columbia Pictures), but that changed this week when Sony Pictures picked up the screen rights from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ estate. Sony is reportedly interested in doing a “total reinvention” of the character in pursuit of developing Tarzan into a new feature film franchise. Since this project was just first announced this week, it’s far too early to even guess who Sony might eventually cast as their new Tarzan.
5. JOHN WATERS RETURNING TO DIRECTING AFTER 18 YEARS WITH LIARMOUTH
(Photo by David Crotty/Getty Images)
This is a big week for projects involving properties that have lain dormant for decades. For this story, the concept applies instead to a beloved director who hasn’t given his fans a film since 2004. John Waters (Hairspray, Serial Mom) is returning to directing for the first time in 18 years since 2004’s A Dirty Shame (Rotten at 53%) with an adaptation of his own 2022 novel Liarmouth. Waters’ production company partners on Liarmouth will be Village Roadshow Entertainment, a frequent partner with Warner Bros., but it’s not yet known if Warner Bros. has plans to distribute the film. As far as a potential plot synopsis, the source novel focuses on “Marsha Sprinkle, a suitcase thief, scammer and master of disguise. Dogs and children hate her. Her own family wants her dead. She’s smart, she’s desperate, she’s disturbed, and she’s on the run with a big chip on her shoulder.”
6. BAD BUNNY’S MARVEL MOVIE EL MUERTO TO BE DIRECTED BY JONAS CUARON
(Photo by Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)
When Sony Pictures acquired the film rights to the various villains and supporting characters first introduced in Spider-Man comics, the package included not just famous characters like Venom but also more obscure ones like the upcoming Madame Web (2/16/2024). One of Sony’s deepest dives into Spider-Man supporting characters is El Muerto, a Mexican luchador-style wrestler who has only appeared in a few comics since 2006. For their El Muerto movie, Sony attracted Grammy-winning musical performer Bad Bunny, and now the project has its director in Jonás Cuarón (Desierto), the son of director Alfonso Cuarón (Roma, Children of Men), who co-wrote the Oscar-winning Gravity (Certified Fresh at 96%) with his father. Sony Pictures has already scheduled El Muerto for release on January 12, 2024.
7. REESE WITHERSPOON PARTNERING ON BUILD-A-BEAR’S GOLDILOCKS MOVIE
(Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
To date, Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine production company has mostly focused on adult dramas or thrillers like Wild (Certified Fresh at 88%), Gone Girl (Certified Fresh at 88%), and this year’s Where the Crawdads Sing (Rotten at 34%). This week, however, Hello Sunshine’s kids and animation division was the one to make the news, as they are partnering with Build-a-Bear Entertainment on an adaptation of the classic children’s story Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The project will be “a modern take on the classic tale” that focuses on a “powerful female protagonist” and, presumably, will also be strongly branded by Build-a-Bear upon its release.
8. ALEXANDER AND… THE VERY BAD DAY TO BE REBOOTED ON DISNEY+
(Photo by Dale Robinette/©Walt Disney Motion Pictures)
The popular children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day was just adapted by Disney as a movie starring Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner as recently as 2014. Of course, eight years feels a lot longer for young children, which might explain why Disney+ is already planning to reboot the title with a new adaptation of the children’s book by Judith Viorst. The new film will be a Latino-centric adaptation with George Lopez and Eva Longoria taking over the roles of Alexander’s parents, and it will be directed by Marvin Lemus, the showrunner of the bilingual series Gentefied (Fresh at 96%).
9. JARED LETO TO TRY ANOTHER ACCENT AS GERMAN DESIGNER KARL LAGERFELD
(Photo by Derek Storm/Everett Collection)
Last year, Jared Leto earned a Golden Raspberry nomination for Worst Supporting Actor for his role in House of Gucci, in which he adopted an Italian accent that attracted its share of ridicule on social media and elsewhere. For his new project, Leto will be taking on the German accent of famous fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. Leto will also coproduce the untitled Karl Lagerfeld biopic along with three of Lagerfeld’s career-long confidants, Pier Paolo Richi, Caroline Lebar, adn Sebastien Jondeau. In addition to his own eponymous fashion label, Lagerfeld was also the longtime creative director of Chanel and the Italian fur fashion house Fendi.
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