“The Wolverine” just wrapped. “Thor: A Dark World” is currently shooting in London and Iceland. “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is in Atlanta and Hawaii. Early 2013 features production start dates for yet another “Transformers” and a new “Captain America,” to be followed in short order by a new “X-Men” and another “Amazing Spider-Man.” In other words, while we in the publishing industry might still be feeling the pinch of a slow recovery, for those in the codpiece-manufacturing business, the recession is over.
Amidst the deluge of sequels, there are a few aspirational new franchises launching to tide us all over until “Fifty Shades of Grey” in 3-D brings about the end of civilized society. One of the most "promising" is "Divergent." Scare quotes around promising due to the fact that by promising, I don't mean "likely to be good"; I mean likely to make tons of money and rocket the protagonist's name up the list of most popular U.S. baby names. Based on the novel by Veronica Roth — the first in a planned trilogy, which goes without saying at this point — “Divergent” is set in a future dystopia named … Chicago, where humanity is divided into five factions. At the age of 16, all children take a test to determine what faction they are best suited for. The factions — despite all having benignant names like Candor, Erudite, and Amity — don’t get along. Also, they make new recruits go through brutal initiation ceremonies that involve fighting, stunt work, and sitting through terrible movies like “The Hunger Games.” According to reports, Shailene Woodley is in negotiations to play the lead, Tris (short for Beatrice), so good for her. Mary Vernieu and Venus Kanani of Bety Mae Inc. are casting ahead of a March start in … Chicago.
But lest you think that unoriginality is limited to big-budget action franchises, fear not. Comedy is not immune from the copycat tendencies of the genres more likely to contain explosions. And it hurts me to say this, because I love Elizabeth Banks, but if her new movie “Walk of Shame” wasn’t pitched to studios as “ ‘The Hangover’ meets ‘Anchorman,’ ” I’ll vote for Roseanne Barr today. Here’s the story: After bombing an interview for her dream job, a TV anchor goes on an epic bender. She wakes up the next morning with no memory of the previous night, no money, and no car, but she receives a call informing her that she did, somehow, land the job. Now all she has to do is fight through her hangover to piece together the previous night’s events and make it to the studio by 5 p.m. I should point out that I think this movie will be funny. Hilarious even. We’ve already seen what E.B. can do in the role of a TV news personality. Tricia Wood and Jennifer Smith from Aquila/Wood a casting for a January start in Los Angeles.
Now get out there and vote, be it for Roseanne or one of the lesser candidates!