Yearly Ketchup: The Most Rotten Movie Development News of 2018

Few industries enjoy taking really, really long extended holiday vacations quite like Hollywood, and when we get to this time of the year, there’s rarely much in the realm of “movie development news” to discuss. Last week, we reviewed 12 of the year’s top Fresh Developments, and this week, we’re looking at each month’s most Rotten Idea.

JANUARY: JOHN CENA MIGHT STAR AS DUKE NUKEM

(Photo by Mary Cybulski/Universal Pictures)

FEBRUARY: MICHAEL BAY MAY DIRECT DC’S BAD BOY LOBO

(Photo by Jaimie Trueblood/Paramount courtesy Everett Collection)

The first Transformers film following Michael Bay’s departure as director was last week’s Bumblebee, which is currently enjoying a Certified Fresh 92% Tomatometer score. Instead, Bay is now turning his camera flares and limited color grading towards Warner Bros.’ DC Comics projects. In February, Bay started talking to WB about possibly directing their long-in-development Lobo movie, based on the “cosmic bad boy” character who’s sort of a cross between Marvel’s Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy. The film’s budget is currently reported as $200 million, so bringing that down will be one of the challenges Michael Bay will face.

MARCH: CAPTAIN AMERICA CONFIRMS HE’S DONE AFTER AVENGERS: ENDGAME

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

When you follow movie development news, sometimes a story takes on a second life because not everyone picked up on it the first time around. This year, we saw that happen with a story reported not just for the second time, but a third time as well. You see, we first told you that Chris Evans was hanging up his Captain America shield way back in 2017. Then this year, in March, Chris Evans confirmed that with another announcement. Despite telling the world twice, it was Evans’ tweet in October that finally seemed to reach the widest audience. Even so, we expect that people are probably going to be surprised in April as well, when Evans departs as Captain America in Avengers: Endgame. Having said that, maybe he’s not really done with Marvel Comics, particularly with Fantastic Four likely to join the MCU in the 2020s. Is Michael Chiklis still available too?

APRIL: LAWSUIT MIGHT MEAN WE NEVER GET ANOTHER TRIP DOWN FURY ROAD

(Photo by Jasin Boland/Warner Bros.)

Not every “Rotten Idea” is based on Tomatometer scores — some stories are Rotten because they mean movies with extremely Fresh potential might not happen. That’s absolutely what happened in April as we learned about a lawsuit that may jeopardize a fan favorite sequel. One of the most surprising films of 2015 was the sequel/reboot Mad Max: Fury Road, which won dozens of awards, including six of the ten Academy Awards it was nominated for. Though Mad Max: Fury Road was a triumph for its director, George Miller, he found himself engaged in what is being called a “bitter court battle” with Warner Bros. over what Miller’s production company claims is “high-handed, insulting, or reprehensible” behavior. The financial crux of Miller’s lawsuit involves what he says were promised bonuses for bringing Mad Max: Fury Road in under budget, and for “breaching a co-financing agreement.” Miller reportedly has had screenplays for both Mad Max 5 and Mad Max 6 completed for years, but for now, he’s directing Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton in Three Thousand Years of Longing instead.

MAY: TWO OF WILL SMITH’S ROTTEN FILMS GET POTENTIALLY ROTTEN SEQUELS

(Photo by Columbia courtesy Everett Collection)

JUNE: LUCASFILM HAS A BAD FEELING ABOUT THE STAR WARS STORY PREQUELS

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

Oh, how quickly things can change. On May 25th, the Top Story in The Weekly Ketchup was about Logan director James Mangold signing on with Lucasfilm for the prequel spinoff Boba Fett: A Star Wars Story. And then the box office numbers for Solo: A Star Wars Story continued to roll in — ouch! — and by June, we were running this story. That meant bad news not just for Boba Fett, but also previously discussed prequel spinoffs for characters like Obi-Wan and Yoda. Several months later, we can also now report that the prequel focus is shifting towards streaming, with Jon Favreau directing The Mandalorian for the upcoming Disney+ subscription service, which will be followed by a Rogue One spinoff series starring Diego Luna.

JULY: DIRECTOR JAMES GUNN FIRED FROM GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

In July, the Marvel Cinematic Universe went all topsy-turvy when Walt Disney Pictures announced that they had “severed our business relationship” with director James Gunn, who delivered the first two Guardians of the Galaxy movies and had been developing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The reason for Gunn’s dismissal was the re-discovery of several joke tweets from 2008 to 2011. In response, Gunn said in a statement that, “regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today.” Meanwhile,  Gunn’s firing inspired a wide spectrum of responses, from this Collider editorial to Dave Bautista being “NOT ok” with it to Selma BLair saying Gunn is “one of the good ones” to this response calling for criminal prosecution. Eventually, in October, Marvel’s “Distinguished Competition” at Warner Bros. snapped up James Gunn to work on their Suicide Squad sequel.

AUGUST: HOLLYWOOD TRIPLES DOWN ON NOSTALGIA

(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp. courtesy Everett Collection)

SEPTEMBER: YIPPEE-KI-YAY, THE DIE HARD ORIGIN MOVIE MOVES FORWARD

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

OCTOBER: LEBRON JAMES MIGHT REBOOT FRIDAY THE 13TH

(Photo by Mary Cybulski/Universal Pictures)

NOVEMBER: GARFIELD IS COMING BACK

(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)

In 2004 and 2006, Bill Murray starred as the voice of the world’s most famous comic strip cat in Garfield: The Movie (Rotten at 15%) and Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties (Rotten at 11%). From one perspective, those low Tomatometer scores could mean that there’s “nowhere to go but up,” but as with video game movies, it’s probably more likely to mean that any future Garfield movies probably won’t be well received either. Those films also weren’t particularly successful financially either, with the first one only earning $75 million domestically from a budget of $50 million and the sequel barely making more than a third of that. Regardless, development is underway on a new animated adaptation of Jim Davis’ popular comic strip character. The challenging prospect of turning the Garfield ship around is being taken on by director Mark Dindal who is best known for Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove (Certified Fresh at 85%) and Chicken Little (Rotten at 37%).

DECEMBER: THE TOXIC AVENGER IS GETTING A BIG-BUDGET REBOOT

(Photo by Troma Films)

Although both 1984’s The Toxic Avenger and Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV received Fresh Tomatometer scores of 70%, the second film has an absolutely Rotten 0% and the third film wasn’t even reviewed enough to earn a score. The Toxic Avenger became such a cult fan favorite, though, that he became the company mascot of Troma Entertainment, the super low-budget production company behind such chestnuts as Blood Sucking Freaks, Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD, and Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. Despite its gonzo origins, The Toxic Avenger is now being developed as a new big-budget superhero franchise by Legendary Entertainment, the company behind The Dark Knight, Watchmen, and Godzilla. In addition to the four feature length movies, The Toxic Avenger was also adapted as “a stage musical production, a children’s cartoon TV series, and a Marvel comic.”

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