Here’s this week’s stories the industry is buzzing about and some you will be after reading this column.
Horror Villains Never Say Die
After more than a decade away from theaters, a new Scream movie hits theaters on Friday, and though I didn’t personally care for it, I imagine it’s going to do pretty well for Paramount. Not only has horror largely proven to be pandemic-proof, but the studio orchestrated a solid marketing campaign that found a way to unite the older fans who grew up with the franchise with the next generation of genre buffs, who were raised on “elevated” horror as opposed to slasher movies.
Though the times (and rules) have changed, the villains certainly have not, as Ghostface is hardly the only horror icon back to haunt audiences in 2022. Next month, Netflix will release a new Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie featuring the ever-reliable Leatherface, while Michael Myers returns once again in Halloween Ends, which is either a promise or a threat, depending on what you thought of the last movie, Halloween Kills. We’re also getting a new Hellraiser movie from David Bruckner (The Night House), a new Firestarter movie starring Zac Efron, a new Salem’s Lot movie from Gary Dauberman (The Nun), and another Orphan movie, which arrives 13 years after the original sleeper hit. Keep in mind that Season 2 of Syfy’s excellent Chucky series is expected to debut next fall.
Don’t forget that Universal just paid Blumhouse and Morgan Creek $400 million for a new Exorcist trilogy from director David Gordon Green. And Los Angeles also hears that there’s a movie that’s been making announcements in the trades that’s secretly connected to yet another horror classic, though that connection is being kept under wraps for now. But oh baby, it’s happening right under everyone’s noses! The point is, you’d be forgiven if you look at this year’s horror villains and came away asking yourself, what year is it again?
Spider-Clout = Death Lives?
Speaking of horror movies, did you see the news about Jon Watts this week? He directed the current Spider-Man trilogy, including the mega-blockbuster No Way Home, which is now the eighth-highest-grossing movie of all time. So Jon Watts, suffice to say, is having a moment. He can really do whatever he wants to do. He has his pick of scripts, projects, IP, etc. And what does Jon Watts want to do? How does he want to use his Spider-clout? Jon Watts wants to make a new Final Destination movie. Incredible!
On one hand, it’s proof that horror is really where it’s at right now. Like, if you’re not working in the Marvel or Star Wars universes, you should probably be making a horror movie. Watts has spent the past five years making Marvel movies, and he’ll likely spend another five years doing the same, as he’s also attached to direct the Fantastic Four reboot, but Watts also comes from horror (remember Clown?), so with that in mind, it’s not such a surprise that he’d be interested in bringing back Final Destination, which boasts a killer premise. I wish him well on this dangerous endeavor.
To Catch a Gal… and a Quiet Pig
Paramount kicked off the year with some big announcements, setting Gal Gadot to produce and star in a remake of Alfred Hitchcock‘s classic 1955 thriller To Catch a Thief starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. It’s unclear whether Gadot will slip into the Kelly role, or whether this new film will be gender-swapped and feature Gadot as a former thief who must prove her innocence upon being suspected of a new crime. The Wonder Woman star just played a thief in Netflix’s Red Notice, with a sequel expected to happen eventually, but maybe she just has a hankering to break bad? The real question is, are we about to see a run on Hitchcock movies? For some reason, it wouldn’t shock me…
Paramount also tapped Pig helmer Michael Sarnoski to write direct A Quiet Place 3, which is quite a leap, but one that makes sense. Recall, if you will, that Jeff Nichols was originally attached to direct AQP3. Sarnoski seems like the kind of filmmaker who’s cut from the same cloth. He doesn’t have a ton of VFX experience but I like this hire, both for his career and for Paramount. Neither Emily Blunt nor John Krasinski is expected to return in this installment, so Sarnoski will have his work cut out for him, but maybe he can entice his Pig star Nicolas Cage into doing a cameo—one that has him screaming in defiance, I hope.
The Raid: Reimagined and High-Way Robbery
Meanwhile, A Quiet Place 3 isn’t the only new movie that Michael Bay is producing, as he’s also involved with a “reimagining” of The Raid that’s in the works at Netflix. Patrick Hughes (The Hitman’s Bodyguard) is set to direct the film, which will be executive produced by Gareth Huw Evans, who directed the original Raid movie and its equally badass sequel. The English-language version will be set in Philadelphia’s drug-infested “Badlands,” where an elite undercover DEA task force climbs a ladder of cartel informants in pursuit of an elusive kingpin.
The deal has reportedly been in the works for a while, which is disheartening, as that means there was plenty of time for executives, and Evans especially, to come to their senses. Sure, I’m as curious about a new Raid movie as you, but c’mon, this isn’t anything anyone needs, as The Raid is a perfect movie, and besides, we already have an English-language reimagining of that film. It’s called Dredd, and it, too, rules. Still, expect bigger stars in this new version.
Speaking of remakes, Fox has ordered a Hell or High Water TV series. The original starred Chris Pine and Ben Foster as bank-robbing brothers on the run from a Texas Ranger played by Jeff Bridges. In the series adaptation, two brothers from West Texas start robbing banks owned by a ruthless oil tycoon while staying one step ahead of a zealous Texas Ranger. The one-hour drama hails from writer Jessica Mecklenburg (Dopesick), and we’ll see if she has the Taylor Sheridan touch. Sheridan earned an Oscar nomination for his original screenplay and has since gone on to become one of the biggest names in television thanks to Yellowstone. If Hollywood is going back to Hell or High Water, it can only be a matter of time before Starz orders a Sicario update from Lionsgate, right?
Pete Davidson: The King of Statue Island?
Elsewhere, Pete Davidson signed on to star in a movie called The Home, a new Miramax horror-thriller from The Purge director James DeMonaco. The SNL star and current Kim Kardashian squeeze will play a troubled young man who starts working at a retirement home and realizes its residents and caretakers harbor sinister secrets. As he investigates a mysterious floor of the building, he starts to uncover connections to his own upbringing as a foster child. It seems like a bit of a stretch for Davidson, but not nearly as much of a stretch as another gig he’s been rumored for.
See, news of The Home arrived the same day that the NY Post reported that Davidson was being eyed to host the Oscars. Davidson’s manager didn’t respond to a request for comment. Could this really be happening? Could the Academy really be this desperate for ratings? I happen to think Davidson is a talented guy who could very well find himself nominated for an Oscar one day, but he would be an obnoxious choice for an Academy that already feels like it has been grasping at straws when it comes to the Oscars.
The Not-So-Wonderful Story of Roald Dahl
I’ve never thought of Wes Anderson as particularly prolific, but he’s really been picking up the pace of late. Before The French Dispatch had even hit theaters, Anderson had already wrapped his star-studded follow-up, Asteroid City, which he shot in Spain. And now he’s set to direct an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. In typical Anderson fashion, he has assembled a strong cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel, Ralph Fiennes, Rupert Friend, Richard Ayoade, and Oscar winner Ben Kingsley.
But as Below the Line columnist Neil Turitz noted this week, Dahl was a raging antisemite, and if Anderson is going to adapt his work, he really should address that topic. I loved reading Dahl’s books as a kid, and I’m hardly the type to argue that his books should be banned or that movies shouldn’t be based on them, but it would go a long way with this longtime Anderson fan if he simply offered his thoughts on Dahl’s controversial beliefs, just once, and then he can be done with it.
Mahershala Ali Returns to TV
The King of the Segues has found another one, as speaking of problematic authors, True Detective star Mahershala Ali is returning to TV to lead a new Hulu show called The Plot, which follows a struggling author who commits an act of literary theft that changes his life forever. Naturally, someone finds out his secret and starts to threaten him and the idyllic life he has built for himself. The eight-episode limited series hails from Disney’s Onyx Collective and Endeavor Content, and is based on the bestselling novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz, who also wrote the book that served as the basis for HBO’s Nicole Kidman-Hugh Grant series The Undoing.
I love the idea of two-time Oscar winner Ali leading a cat-and-mouse story, so here’s hoping this gains more traction than his long-gestating project about boxing great Jack Johnson. Abby Ajayi will adapt Korelitz’s novel and serve as executive producer and showrunner, and she also worked on Netflix’s upcoming Anna Delvey series Inventing Anna starring Julia Garner.
R.I.P. Bob Saget
And finally, I just wanted to pay tribute to Bob Saget, who was America’s dad, and by all accounts one of the nicest guys in showbiz. I grew up watching Full House and America’s Funniest Home Videos, and I loved his work in The Aristocrats and Entourage. But most of all, I loved a movie that Saget wasn’t even in, and many are surprised to learn he directed—Dirty Work, starring the great Norm Macdonald. If you’d told me 10 years ago that Artie Lange was going to outlive Macdonald and Saget, I’d have called you crazy, though I’m relieved and grateful that my beloved Artie is still around. Dirty Work is a cult classic, a movie you either “get’ or you don’t, and that’s in keeping with Saget’s unique sense of humor. He’ll be missed, and I wish the media would stop speculating about the cause of his death. R.I.P.
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