Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Breaking Star Wars News





6 Star Wars DVDs in the Fall
According to sources for ComingSoon.Net, we'll be seeing 6 different Star Wars DVD releases on November 1st of this year.EDITOR'S NOTE: I HAD HEARD SEPT OR OCTOBER. SO YOU WERE CORRECT, JOEL. THAT WAS OVERLY OPTIMISTIC OF ME. (6-PICTURE MARATHON. NOVEMBER. CHEZ QOTD!!!)

It looks like you can buy the final movie separately, buy the prequels together or buy all six films in a complete set.

Whether or not this is the "definitive release" of the complete saga is unknown, but we can sure hope for a pile of new extras.

Here's the list we were given:
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (Widescreen) 11/1
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (Full Screen) 11/1EDITOR'S NOTE: WHY WOULD YOU BUY THIS?

Star Wars Episodes I-III (Widescreen) 11/1
Star Wars Episodes I-III (Full Screen) 11/1
Star Wars Episodes I-VI (Widescreen) 11/1
Star Wars Episodes I-VI (Full Screen) 11/1

Return of Audio Dramatizations
Previously only available on cassette, the full-cast audio dramatizations of the Tales of the Jedi and Tales of the Jedi: Dark Lords of the Sith are now available on CD from HighBridge Audio.

Also available are the audio dramas of Dark Empire and Dark Empire II, previously only on CD as part of the Dark Empire Collector's set with Empire's End.


Blue Bunny Brings Sweet Revenge!

If your backyard feels less like Hoth and more like Mustafar, beat the heat with new Revenge of the Sith ice cream treats from Blue Bunny. Only available from your neighborhood ice cream trucksEDITOR'S NOTE: AWWW, SHUCKS. FIND ME A TRUCK, DARNIT!!!, these treats come in two tastebud-satisfying varieties -- Lightsaber Bomb Pops and Darth Vader character ice cream confections.

"Blue Bunny felt the release of Revenge of the Sith would coincide great with the start of the ice cream season," Lesley Bartholomew, Public Relations Manager for Wells Dairy, Inc., says. "The novelties are being sold off ice cream trucks directly to kids and their parents, both of whom are fans of the Star Wars movies."

This marks the first time Blue Bunny has created ice cream products for a Star Wars film.

Blue Bunny has developed two kinds of Star Wars products including the Darth Vader Face Bar and three different Lightsaber Bomb Pops including red, green and blue to represent the various lightsabers used in Revenge of the Sith. EDITOR'S NOTE: ONLY THE NAUGHTY KIDS GET THE RED ONES?

The Lightsaber Bomb Pops come in Sour Blue Raspberry or Sweet Cherry with sour inner cores, while the frozen Darth Vader confection is available in cherry, fruit punch and berry flavors with sour cherry bubblegum eyes.

"Our Star Wars products have been a hit with kids already," Bartholomew says. "We felt kids would love the Darth Vader Face Bar because it tastes great with cherry, fruit punch and berry flavors along with the all-time favorite -- sour bubblegum eyes. Plus, it is well recognized by all Star Wars fans. The Darth Vader Face Bars are now one of the fastest selling products on ice cream trucks."


Even though the ice cream trucks won't be playing the Imperial March as they drive through your neighborhood, and you still might spot one of the specially-decorated Revenge of the Sith ice cream trucks with Vader-themed decals.

After Episode III: Dark Lord
In Episode III you witnessed Anakin Skywalker succumb to the dark side and be reborn as the fearsome Darth Vader. To find out what happens next, you'll need to read Star Wars: Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader.

The Republic has become the Empire, ruled by the wicked Palpatine EDITOR'S NOTE: BOO HISS. (LIKE HAMAN AT PURIM. WE SHOULD RATTLE NOISEMAKERS AND BOO EVERY TIME WE HEAR HIS NAME! OR NOT.....) with order enforced by his new right hand agent, Darth Vader. The galaxy is reeling from civil war and the shocking elimination of the Jedi Knights. EDITOR'S NOTE: SNIFFLE.... Some worlds are resistant to the New Order, and are determined to make a stand against these sweeping new changes.

One of Darth Vader's first tasks is to snuff out these early embers of resistance, and it is this mission that will lead him to discover his true strength and come into his own as the Emperor's iron fist.

Star Wars: Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader is a new novel by author James Luceno.

Together with his previous book, Labyrinth of Evil and Matthew Stover's bestselling Revenge of the Sith novelization (which are now being combined into an omnibus), this new hardcover forms a trilogy of novels chronicling the collapse of the Republic and the emergence of the Empire.

Star Wars: Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader is due out in hardcover from Del Rey Books on November 22. EDITOR'S NOTE: THAT IS WAY TOO LONG TO WAIT, DARN IT!!!

Here's a first look at a solicitation version of the cover; the final cover may vary.

AFI to fete Schrader with Schaffner medal
Paul Schrader will receive the 2005 Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal, awarded annually to a graduate of the AFI Conservatory, at the AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute to George Lucas on Thursday at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland.

Schrader, who has screenplay credit on "Taxi Driver" and "Raging Bull" in addition to his directorial efforts such as "Blue Collar, "American Gigolo" and "Affliction," was a member of the first class at the AFI Conservatory. EDITOR'S NOTE: BUT ENOUGH ABOUT SCHRADER....DID WE KNOW ABOUT THIS UNCLE G LIFE AWARD? (NOT TO BE CONFUSED...HEAVEN KNOWS...WITH A WOOKIE LIFE-DAY THING)?

'Sith' keeps o'seas hold; global cume hits $618 mil
The Force in the shape of George Lucas'

"Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" ruled the overseas roost for a third straight weekend as two newcomers to the international scene -- Robert Rodriguez's crime thriller "Sin City" and DreamWorks' new animated entry "Madagascar" -- showed early signs of making strong impacts at the boxoffice.

Also new in the foreign marketplace, Adam Sandler's "The Longest Yard" kicked off in Australia and Mexico.

Still on view on 9,630 screens in about 105 territories, "Sith" took in $37 million over the weekend to lift its international gross to $309 million, an amount equal to the domestic take to date, and provides the 20th Century Fox release with a worldwide cume of $618 million. EDITOR'S NOTE: WOOHOO!!! SIZE DOES MATTER SOMETIMES!

As it awaits its final offshore bow July 19 in Japan, "Sith" -- which continues to haul in "Star Wars" aficionados in the face of drops ranging from 18% to 50% -- managed to hold on to the top boxoffice position in most key markets.EDITOR'S NOTE: ALL THAT BOX OFFICE AND IT HASN'T EVEN OPENED IN JAPAN YET? WHERE IT'S GONNA ROCK?! Germany, off 18% in its third weekend, scored $5.4 million for a market cume to date of $37.5 million; the U.K., off 39%, tallied $6 million for a market cume of $60.8 million; Australia, off 46%, took in $2.7 million for a market total of $21.3 million; Spain, off 50%, hit $2.1 million for a market cume of $19 million; and Mexico, off 41%, recorded $1.4 million to raise its market total to $13.2 million.

Disney segues to Star Wars



Crowds surround the newly golden Sleeping Beauty Castle.

All over Disneyland park, there’s a new glitter, a new gleam, adding to the atmosphere.

Everywhere, from lampposts to the spires of Sleeping Beauty Castle, the Park shimmers with touches of gold.

Disneyland park is turning 50 this year, and it is shining like never before.

The Happiest Homecoming on Earth, Disneyland park’s birthday bash, kicked off on May 5, 2005, and the Park has pulled out all the stops to make this a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

From the floral plantings by the main gate to the windows along Main Street to the farthest reaches of Critter Country, the Park is bursting with special surprises. Sleeping Beauty Castle has never looked lovelier; the turrets have been sheathed in real gold leaf and jeweled tiaras crown each spire, each bedecked with symbols representing one of Disneyland park’s lands. EDITOR'S NOTE: I WAS AT THE DISNEYLAND 45TH CELEBRATION, AND SLEEPING BEAUTY CASTLE LOOKED LIKE A TROLLOPED BIRTHDAY CAKE. (NOT THE LOOK THEY WERE GOING FOR?)

Read on to learn about Disneyland park's newest parade and the Hidden 50s scattered throughout the Park.

The Lion King float is one of the highlights of Walt Disney's Parade of Dreams.

Walt Disney’s Parade of Dreams We love a parade! But even we at the Insider had never seen a spectacle like the shiny new parade debuted especially for the Happiest Homecoming on Earth.

Walt Disney’s Parade of Dreams is a tribute to the creative imagination of the man who dreamed Disneyland into being. Extravagant floats fill the corridor of Main Street. A slice of African savannah from "The Lion King," Alice's encounter with the caterpillar from "Alice in Wonderland," and a grand golden castle inhabited by Disney's Princesses and Mickey and Minnie Mouse themselves, all evoke oohs and aahs from the crowd.

"The floats are engineering marvels, because they're so elaborate. I call it ‘the parade you can’t watch just once,' because it's just an eye-popping extravaganza,"EDITOR'S NOTE: OF COURSE, THEY PAY HIM TO SAY THAT. says parade designer Steve Davison, a Creative Director at Walt Disney Imagineering. "The parade's very theatrical. We created the floats as environments - everything's scaled up to such a height that when Alice is in front of you, you feel like you ARE Alice, shrunk down to that little height." EDITOR'S NOTE: SHARE THE MEDS.

He’s especially proud of the parade’s salute to "The Little Mermaid" - an enormous inflated puppet representing the film's villain, Ursula. Rippling and undulating down the street, Ursula is controlled by two operators seated inside her in what Steve laughingly calls "a condo" – controlling her hands, eyes, and mouth. As the puppeteers lean and move inside the puppet, the whole creation responds by rippling and moving along. The effect is spectacular... and just the teeniest bit scary.

Although the floats and animatronics are showstoppers, Steve says that other elements are even more challenging to coordinate – and just as rewarding. “We have a lot of live performers doing spectacular things. There's a web circus act, a trampoline, even bungee-jumping elements," he explains. "A lot of time and energy went into safety." EDITOR'S NOTE: AND IF IT DOESN'T WORK OUT, WE BURY THEIR BODIES UNDER THE 'IT'S A SMALL WORLD RIDE', OR USE THEM AS AUDIOANIMATRONIC PRESIDENTS. ACTORS. WHO'D MISS EM?!

The Mouse who started it all,with his sweetie, in the parade's grand finale.

From a friendly and inquisitive rhino who wanders up to guests, to bird kites, to the swaying, twirling chandeliers of Beauty and the Beast’s ballroom, the Parade of Dreams offers an almost-infinite array of enchanting details. We think Walt would have loved it. Stake out a viewing spot along Main Street early; although the floats are large enough to be visible from any spot in the crowd, the wandering rhino, dancing flowers, and other small elements of the parade are best experienced up close, and prime locations on the route tend to go fast.

Hidden 50s
The Mickey Mouse silhouettes hidden throughout the Disney parks by mischievous Imagineers are the stuff of legend - many Disney fans spend hours seeking them out.

Those illustrious "Hidden Mickeys" have now been joined by a golden host of "Hidden 50s," placed for the celebration by the Disneyland team.

The Hidden 50s display the Happiest Homecoming on Earth’s distinctive logo, a 50 framed by Mickey ears, and they're scattered all over the park - 50 of them in all.

We asked Sayre Wiseman, who was responsible for the decor of the park for the celebration, to tell us more about the Hidden 50s – and give us a few hints for finding them! "The basic rule was, it had to be visible from a walkway," says Sayre. "We didn’t want to put any in a ride because we didn't think that would be fair. Every one had to be visible. It didn't really matter how big or small they were, so we had some tiny ones."

Welcome to the party!

We don't want to ruin the surprise, but Sayre divulged that the largest of the 50s is probably the one on the Haunted Mansion, while the smallest is tucked away in the vicinity of a certain amphibian speed demon. They are rendered in a variety of materials – "some of them are painted, some are carved, some are antiqued, some are all gold, and some have blue on them. They're all over," says Sayre. To get you started, she gave us a starting place for the quest:

"The first one is the Mickey floral display when you enter." EDITOR'S NOTE: SEE PICTURE, ABOVE.

Can't find all 50? Don’t despair!

"I know all of them really well, and if I were to sit down here and try to make a list, I’d miss two or three," EDITOR'S NOTE: KINDA LIKE TRYING TO LIST THE US STATES AND CAPITALS? (YOU ALWAYS GET 48 OR 49 AND GET STUCK)Sayre confesses. "So we have a book in City Hall, on Main Street USA, listing them so people won't be totally frustrated. For the most part, the team just sort of went out and found places to put them. But we had to make sure that there are 50, always."

For the next 18 months, make sure to visit Disneyland park with a notebook - and your detective hat!


What is the unofficial name applied to Disneyland's Opening Day?
Opening Day became known as "Black Sunday" -- it was hot, the park was overcrowded with gate crashers, the water fountains didn't work, and the day was widely regarded as a fiasco. Fortunately, Disneyland recovered and became a smashing success within weeks of opening!

2005 Star Wars Weekends #3
This past weekend the third episode, er weekend, of the 2005 Star Wars Weekends at Disney-MGM Studios in Florida packed in fans from around the country to celebrate the entire Star Wars saga. On hand were special guests Warwick Davis (Wicket) and prequel Droid Unit Supervisor Don Bies.

The 2005 Star Wars Weekends picture viewer has been updated with all new images, courtesy of Mark Ashman from Disney. EDITOR'S NOTE: HERE ARE A SELECT FEW -----







Fans of all ages and Star Wars characters of all varieties are converging to celebrate the heroes, villains and droids of the saga during the 2005 Star Wars Weekends.

In addition to Star Wars costumed characters, fun activities, and the Star Tours theme park ride, celebrity guests will be in attendance for meet-and-greet sessions, star conversations, and a classic Hollywood-style motorcade.

This upcoming weekend's guests include Jerome Blake (Rune Haako, Mas Amedda) and Revenge of the Sith's Practical Model Supervisor Brian Gernand.

A little TV News, a little Misc.


Bell and Stoltz Head into TRIANGLE
Catherine Bell and Eric Stoltz have signed on to star in the Sci Fi Channel's six-hour miniseries THE TRIANGLE. Michael Rodgers, Bruce Davison and Sam Neill also star. EDITOR'S NOTE: SAM NEILL. YUMMY.

The story centers on a disparate group of professionals who are brought together to investigate the dangerous truths behind the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle.

Rockne O'Bannon wrote the script, which is based on an original story by Dean Devlin and Bryan Singer. Craig Baxley will direct. Devlin and Singer will executive produce. EDITOR'S NOTE: ROCKNE O'BANNON GOOOOOOOOD. DEAN DEVLIN...WELL, NOT SO GOOD. SO WE HAVE A 50/50 SHOT AT SOMETHING WORTH WATCHING. (AND THEN THERE'S THE SAM NEILL FACTOR, WHICH RAISES IT AT LEAST TO 65%)

The mini series will air in December.

Rodriguez Will Get LOST Next Season

Variety has reported that Michelle Rodriguez will be joining the cast of ABC's LOST next season.

She was featured in a prominent flashback with Jack chatting in the Sydney airport lounge as an "alluring stranger" before boarding the ill-fated flight that left him and dozens of others stranded on the mysterious island.

Rodriguez is apparently joining the cast full-time. She will reprise her role as Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 passenger Ana-Lucia Cortez. EDITOR'S NOTE: HMM.....GIVING KATE A RUN FOR JACK'S AFFECTIONS, PERCHANCE?

Study: G-rated fare more profitable
By Brian Fuson
Family-friendly movies are more profitable than R-rated films, according to a new study released Tuesday.

In a follow-up to a 10-year study commissioned by the nonprofit Dove Foundation in 1999 -- which found that between 1988-97 the average G-rated film made eight times the profit of an R-rated picture -- an extension of that study found that trend continuing and expanding.EDITOR'S NOTE: WE MUST CONSIDER THE SOURCE OF THIS RESEARCH, SINCE DOVE'S MANDATE IS TO 'CLEAN UP' THE MOVIES. THAT SAID, THIS SEEMS A NO-BRAINER. THERE ARE FAR FEWER G-RATED MOVIES, AND THEY COST A LOT LESS TO MAKE (SINCE NO ONE WILL PUT A LOT OF MONEY INTO THEM). SO FOR FAMILIES WANTING THIS, THEY HAVE TO PILE ONTO WHATEVER FEW FILMS ARE OUT THERE, SO THE G-RATED PROFITIBILITY IS BOUND TO BE RATHER HIGH.

The new, expanded study examines the revenue and negative costs for 3,000 MPAA-rated theatrical films released between Jan. 1, 1989, and Dec. 31, 2003, using the 200 most widely distributed films each year based on the number of theaters.

The 15-year study throws more fuel onto the fire of the long-running debate over sex and violence in entertainment -- and whether it sells.

To encourage the production and distribution of more wholesome family entertainment, the Dove Foundation commissioned the study to examine the profitability of movies broken down by their MPAA ratings to compare family-friendly movies vs. R-rated films.

"While the movie industry produced nearly 12 times more R-rated films than G-rated films from 1989-2003, the average G-rated film produced 11 times greater profit than its R-rated counterpart," said Dick Rolfe, founder and chairman of the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based media advocacy group.

The new study found that in the years after the first study was released in 1999, from 2000-03, that trend has continued. The average profit for films rated G went from $74.2 million to $92.3 million, PG vaulted from $9.9 million to $78.8 million, PG-13 rose from $15.4 million to $45.6 million, and R-rated films increased from $3 million to $17.9 million. The study notes that those increases are probably due in part to increased ticket prices, coupled with a decrease in manufacturing costs associated with videos and DVDs.

At the same time, on average more G and PG-13 films are being made and released. Since the first study was released in 1999, Rolfe noted that there has been a slight production shift toward more family-friendly films: "The production of R-rated films has dropped by 12%, while G-rated fare has increased by 38%."

The average number of R-rated films released each year dropped from 105 to 93, G-rated films increased from seven to 10, PG-rated films decreased from 36 to 21, and PG-13 rated films went from 50 to 75.

Rolfe points out that the goal of the foundation and the report is not to eradicate R-rated films. "Dove is not suggesting that Hollywood produce only G and PG movies," he said. "We just think the proportionality is out of balance, given the relatively few, highly profitable family-friendly movies released each year. Our study reveals that Hollywood is not serving the most prolific audience segment in the entertainment marketplace: the family."

The study defined "profit" as estimated worldwide theatrical rentals, TV and video grosses, minus estimated negative costs, P&A and video/DVD manufacturing costs. To produce an accurate rate of return, all costs and revenue used were limited to the first 24 months from the date of each release."Profit" in this study does not include revenue derived from merchandising, licensing or fast-food tie-ins. If those revenue streams were included, the average profit for G, PG and PG-13 films would rise dramatically, while the average profit for R-rated films would not, because sales of toys and other licensed products are rarely associated with R-rated films.EDITOR'S NOTE: SO SALES OF SEX TOYS AND KINKY CLOTHES DON'T COUNT? BUMMER.....

The well-known research firm Kagan Media Appraisals assembled the data (though some results are based on Kagan's estimates of proprietary corporate information), which was analyzed by the finance department of Grand Rapids' Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University.

Rolfe makes the case that films can be entertaining and profitable without the sometimes gratuitous trappings that go along with an R rating. "Movies such as 'Shrek 2,' 'Finding Neverland,' 'National Treasure,' 'The Incredibles' and 'Miracle' -- all rated PG -- are action-adventure films, comedies, dramas and mysteries -- but without the explicit language and gory special effects that are rampant in R-rated movies," Rolfe said.

While an R-rated film has never been given the Dove Seal of Approval, Rolfe said the foundation has given endorsements to select R-rated films that have a redemptive message, including "Saving Private Ryan," "Schindler's List," "Amistad" and "The Passion of the Christ."

"The portrayals were too explicit to meet our standards," he said in regard to the violence in those films, "but they did have a strong redemptive message."

Over the 15-year period, Hollywood produced 123 G-rated films, which accounted for approximately 4% of the top 3,000 films and had an average profit per film of $79 million. At the same time, R-rated films comprised 1,533 of the total, or 52% of the 3,000 films in the study, and averaged $7 million each. The second most widely distributed film rating was PG-13, with 847 films averaging $23.5 million in profit, while 479 PG-rated films averaged $28.3 million.EDITOR'S NOTE: ROTS IS REALLY GONNA THROW OFF THE FIGURES FOR PG-13, HUH? GIGGLE.

While studio executives have long known that films with less restrictive ratings have a potentially bigger audience, the rating is not the sole driving force of the business. EDITOR'S NOTE: "MY FRIEND FLICKA" AIN'T EXACTLY SOMETHING YOU CAN LOOK 'COOL' TALKING ABOUT AT THE NEWEST TRENDY CLUB, I GUESS.

"There is no question in my mind that Hollywood has been making more PG-13-, PG- and G-rated movies. Movies make huge sums of money when they work and have those ratings, since they have a much broader audience to draw from," said Tom Sherak, a partner at Sony-based Revolution Studios, who said he had not seen the report."But the key to the entertainment business is that movies are made for different things and different reasons," Sherak added.EDITOR'S NOTE: LIKE FOR PRODUCERS TO PICK UP CHICKS. "Our industry tells stories, and not all of those stories are G or PG stories. There are movies that are rated R, which should be rated R, which need to be made as well."

Regarding the profitability of G-rated fare, Sherak said, "G-rated movies will always have a place in society -- films that you can take everybody to and not worry. The thing about G-rated films is they have to appeal to the parents and the kids to be really successful."

Weighing in on the ratings-profitability study, a leading entertainment investment banker said the conclusion was not unexpected. "The results are not that surprising but are in fact quite intuitive," said Lloyd Greif, president and CEO of Greif & Co., a Los Angeles-based investment banking firm. "The reason for that is G-, PG- and PG-13 rated films are widely accessible to nearly all age groups -- both in the theaters and in the aftermarkets. By its very definition, a more restricted film is accessible by a more limited audience."Greif added: "An adult will watch once, twice if you're lucky, but a child or adolescent or a teenager will go back to the movie or video and watch it multiple times and will not tire of the experience. If Hollywood is chasing the older teens and early 20s age demographic with R-rated product, they are missing a much greater opportunity to attract all age groups with more accessible product -- product you don't need a driver's license in order to see."

Commenting on the new study and the move away from R-rated films in recent years, Greif said, "While the shift isn't dramatic, it looks like Hollywood has gotten the message and is producing proportionally fewer R-rated films today."

While the "profit" used in the report is not the actual profit earned by a studio, the comparisons cited in the study are viable because the same factors were applied to all films. Hence, the results reflect a relative, though not absolute, assessment of return on investment.

With these qualifiers in place, for films released from 2000-03, the study maintains that the average rate of return on investment for a G-rated picture was 94.5%; PG-rated films, 72.6%; PG-13-rated films, 43.6%; and R-rated, 28.7%.

The dominance of less restricted fare also can be seen in the top 10-grossing films in the international boxoffice: Five are rated PG-13, four are rated PG and one is rated G. "The Matrix: Reloaded" is ranked 18th and is the highest-grossing R-rated film among the worldwide boxoffice champs, and "The Passion of the Christ" is ranked 27th and is the only other R-rated film in addition to "Reloaded" in the top 30.

Between 1988 and 2004, Buena Vista was the largest purveyor by far of G- and PG-rated films. And while it cannot be attributed solely to family-friendly ratings, the Disney distribution arm has collected more than $1 billion in annual domestic film gross nine times in the past 11 years -- more than any other distributor.

The foundation also will attempt to make an impact on the suppliers and producers of entertainment by appealing to the investment community. Rolfe noted that in addition to the major studios, the study also will be sent to 200 mutual and pension fund administrators."Clearly, if Hollywood is worried about a recent decline in attendance and the resulting loss of profits, they should be producing more G- and PG-rated films," Rolfe said. "The general public is voting with their feet, heading to movies that the whole family can enjoy without having to worry about exposing themselves or their youngsters to inappropriate language or behavior,"

A complete copy of the report and all supporting documentation is available on the Dove Foundation's Web site.

Harry Harry Harry


Yates comments on next Harry Potter installment
Today there was a small article in The Independent about the politics behind shooting certain scenes for the next Harry Potter installment.

Right now David Yates, the director of OOTP, needs to secure 17 different councils to shoot the scenes for the next movie, and some of them are not being co-operative.

"A highlight of the superhero's next film outing will (hopefully) see Potter, played by Daniel Radcliffe leading a high-speed broomstick chase, James Bond-style, down the Thames.Unfortunately, the film's director, David Yates, who is currently masterminding pre-production, says that several local councils are refusing to play ball.

"So far, we have spent a lot of time on boats on the Thames," he tells me."I want to do a great big wizard chase past the London landmarks and it is going to be very exciting, but it has not been easy to set up."

Yates has assigned the task of sorting all this out to his location manager over the next four months. Filming for OOTP is scheduled to begin next spring.

Heyman confirms: OOTP may be filmed overseas

EDITOR'S NOTE: TIRED OF NEGOTIATING WITH THEIR OWN FOLKS?The HP producer told ScreenDaily.com: "We are exploring all options to determine the best place in the world to make the film. We are looking at the UK and other places all over the world."

Filming it in eastern Europe?

With its top-notch facilities, cheaper rates and tax incentives, the Czech Republic and other eastern European countries such as Hungary and Romania are among becoming increasingly attractive locations for film-makers priced out of the UK by the strong pound.

Levine and Dale interviewed at BookExpo America

Arthur Levine and Jim Dale, American editor and audiobook narrator of the Potter series respectively, appeared at BookExpo America.

Newsday caught up with them and posted interviews with the two in their blog. While they didn't reveal anything new, they did drop a few very vague hints.

Some would consider his comments slightly spoiler-ish,

There’s a new character named Maclaggen,” he said, and spelled the name. And ...? And nothing. Levine clammed up. Jim Dale had mentioned yesterday that somebody dies. True? “I can neither confirm nor deny.” Does Harry have a girlfriend? “I can’t say ... He’s definitely growing up in all areas of his life.” Later, he said he didn’t experience this book to be as dark as the last, though the overall arc of the series is that the “world is getting more pernicious (dangerous).” This one, he said, “has more romance in general.” And then he and marketing VP Jennifer Pasanen, who was sitting in, started humming “Love is in the air.

Well, it’s a clue.

New GOF picture released

Trio at the Quidditch World Cup campsite

Warners casts spell over 'Potter' satire
Tuesday evening in a small Brooklyn club, about 50 hipsters gathered to sip ale and dabble in illegality: They watched "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

But this wasn't precisely the 2001 Warner Bros. Pictures version. The soundtrack had been changed to the voice of an unreliable, creepy narrator who called Professor McGonagall "Professor Hardcastle McCormick" and hinted that Harry liked to tipple -- a book on tape gone very wrong.

It was the voice of Brad Neely, a comic book artist from Austin who created "Wizard People, Dear Reader" as a joke in 2004. "I never thought it would get this kind of attention," he said. "It was just for laughs."

His narration has audiences in stitches, but Warners isn't laughing.

After initial screenings generated buzz, the studio began canceling contracts to rent the print in the spring at such venues as New York's Anthology Film Archives and the Alamo Draft House in Austin.

"We wanted to respect the studio's decision in that they don't want people to do this," an Alamo representative said.

"The print is their property, and all they did was inform us that they did not want to honor that booking," Travis Miles of the Anthology Film Archives said. "They credited the funds toward another rental."EDITOR'S NOTE: SPORTING OF THEM. (NOT A BIG SENSE OF HUMOR, BUT SPORTING).

Sponsored by the zine Stay Free, editor Carrie McLaren said Warners threatened not to service those theaters with any more studio-related product if they continued with "Wizard" events. "They want to stop the film but do it silently," she said. "It's soft censorship."EDITOR'S NOTE: IT'S A COPYWRITED PROPERTY. I DON'T THINK THIS QUALIFIES AS CENSORSHIP THAT THEY DON'T WANT HARRY POTTER PORN OUT THERE. (OR HARRY POTTER ALCOHOL ABUSE, OR WHATEVER).

The legality of "Wizard People," however, is unclear. "Technically, even to create a derivative work is something you need a license to do," transactional entertainment lawyer Laurie Soriano said. "When it's for your private use, courts and legislatures are OK. When you start engaging in commerce, that's when you start running into trouble."

That's one of the main sticking points for Warners, which in a statement expressed a need to protect the "integrity" of the original material and concerns over commercial (and noncommercial) uses of it that "tarnish the brand." Additionally, the studio notes a responsibility not to confuse fans of the series with "material that is not true to the source material, and may not be age-appropriate."

As for Neely's next endeavor, he's avoiding recent works altogether. "I'm doing a comedy about the Civil War, from the point of view of Ulysses S. Grant. Anything before 1912 is up for grabs, but I'm going to make sure I get permission first," he said. EDITOR'S NOTE: THERE YA GO. AND MAKING GRANT'S STORY INTO A DRINKING GAME IS PROBABLY NOT THAT FAR FROM THE TRUTH, TOO!

Movie News (Tuesday)


KONG Trailer to Run With WAR OF THE WORLDS
KongIsKing.net is reporting that the first trailer for Peter Jackson's remake of KING KONG will be on the front of Spielberg's WAR OF THE WORLDS, which opens in theaters on June 29th.

News 10 Now reports a Ubisoft Entertainment spokesman at E3 stated, in regards to the upcoming videogame for the movie, "Well, you're going to be able to play both as Kong and as Jack. That's about all I can tell you right now. You know, Universal isn't going to unveil KONG until June 28th when they release their first trailer, and obviously there’s a lot of anticipation for it, so we're going to hold off as well." EDITOR'S NOTE: YOU CAN PLAY AS KING KONG? THIS INVOLVES A LOT OF STRATEGY AND INTELLECTUAL GAME-PLAY, NO DOUBT? (RAMPAGING IS NOT JUST FOR BIG MONKEYS!)

Daredevil transfers to Hawaii Five-O
Looking to reclaim the fame he lost about the same time as he bumped rumps with JLo, EDITOR'S NOTE: TMI!!!! (OH GOLLY, MUST GO RINSE EYES....)Ben Affleck is in talks to star in the big-screen version of TV golden-oldie "Hawaii Five-O". EDITOR'S NOTE: FINALLY, A CASTING DECISION FOR AFFLECK THAT MAKES SOME SENSE. I MEAN, JACK LORD WASN'T EXACTLY THE KING OF BIG EMOTIONAL EXPRESSION EITHER, RIGHT?

Sky News reports that Affleck, currently filming "Truth, Justice and the American Way", would take on the role of Steve McGarrett, made famous in the Sixties and Seventies by Jack Lord.

An insider says, "Ben is ideal as he mixes the serious with comedy. All we have to do now is find him a leading lady."

George Nolfi ["Ocean's Twelve"] is penning the script for the film, believed to be a near-Xerox of the TV series' template, with George Litto (the creator of the original series) playing producer.

The original series fixed on the investigations of Hawaii Five-0, an elite branch of the Hawaii State Police answerable only to the governor and headed by stalwart Steve McGarrett. James MacArthur, Zulu, Al Harrington, Kam Fong and William Smith co-starred.

Warner will release the film next year.

The Simpsons movie is in production
A shock is a live-action "Simpsons" movie flying under the highly-sensitive radar.

Or so says one of the hit show's long-standing (as in she's been on it since day one, not that she's without a chair) stars, Nancy Cartwright.

The girl behind the boy that is Bart Simpson (sure to have any 8-year-old's head in a spin) says "The Simpsons" movie is in the works - right now.

"You know what? We've just done the table read for the 'Simpsons' movie so although we've been promoting that we're going to do it, now we're actually doing it and are in production", she tells the BBC.

Cartwright, who is performing her one-woman show 'My Life as a Ten Year Old Boy' in London, says it'll take a couple of years to make cinemas. "I'm sure it won't take any less than a couple of years. I don't know the name of it and I can't go into details about it and we'll just have to see how it goes, but I think it's going to be great and the fans are going to dig it." EDITOR'S NOTE: DID THEY MEAN 'LIVE ACTION'? NOT ANIMATED? (SURELY NOT....)

Molly Ringwald confirms Sixteen Candles 2
Seems the "Breakfast Club" reunion at Saturday's MTV Movie Awards serves as sort-of a comeback announcement for a certain flame-haired screen queen.

Molly Ringwald, who joined co-stars Anthony Michael Hall, Alley Sheedy and Paul Gleason to accept the Silver Bucket of Excellence Award for their legendary hit, told reporters we can expect to see a sequel to at least one of those great 80's movies soon.

Ringwald told the Mercury News that she's in discussions to make a sequel to "Sixteen Candles," the 1984 movie about the obstacles and embarrassments a teen girl faces on her birthday.

Ringwald, 37, said she had been approached repeatedly about doing a sequel but recently read a script that she liked and wanted to star in the movie. "I've turned it down for years. I couldn't see how it would work," she said Saturday. "Now, it seems right."

It was rumoured a few moons back that a sequel called "32 Candles" was in the works, with Anthony Michael Hall rumoured to be in talks to return as her co-star. No word if it's the same project. Also, no word on whether "The Breakfast Club" will get another belated detention anytime soon, but it was rumoured a few years back that Director John Hughes was keen to do a follow-up. EDITOR'S NOTE: WELL MISS B AND HER CHRONOLOGICAL CRONIES WILL BE SO PLEASED TO HEAR THAT THE 80'S AIN'T QUITE DEAD YET. (NOT THAT THEY WERE EVER REALLY ALIVE).

Men in Black back on duty
According to a scooper for Aint it Cool, sunny-adorned alien busters Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are set to hit the creature-infested streets again for a "Men in Black 3".

Producer Walter Parkes ["The Island"] confirmed that the sequel is in the "planning phase" and that they're coaxing Sirs Jones and Smith back to the ghostbusting business.

In 2003, rumours surfaced that Barry Sonnenfeld, director of the first two "Men in Black" movies, and Producer Parkes, didn't especially enjoying work together on the last sequel - so it'll be interesting to see whether Bazz returns for a third bout.

Johnny Depp to join the Serkis?
The busier-than-a-hooker-on-Valentine's-Day EDITOR'S NOTE: AND YET ANOTHER IMAGE WE DIDN'T NEED.... Johnny Depp is being courted to star in a new film to be helmed by "Lord of the Rings" squat EDITOR'S NOTE: 'SQUAT'? NOT NICE. Andy Serkis.

According to Contact Music, the movie tells the tale of 62-year-old drug addict Stephen Smith. Smith was a chap who was locked in an asylum at 14 and molested by a doctor before becoming addicted to amphetamines. Later, he'd become an apprentice to a master thief - stealing jewels from such notable names as Sophie Loren, and getting entangled with notorious nasties like The Kray twins. EDITOR'S NOTE: SO IT'S A LIGHT-HEARTED COMEDY? EEK.

Smith wants the "Pirates of the Caribbean" star to bring his story to life. "We are speaking to Johnny Depp's agents about him playing the lead role. He is a wild-card actor who takes parts he wants and not for money."

Of director Andy Serkis, making his directorial debut with the film, Smith says : "Andy is the blue-eyed boy of Hollywood and has the clout to get the film distributed across North America. I went for him because he is pedantic about detail. He will capture the authenticity and rawness of my life as a down-and-out." EDITOR'S NOTE: OK. SO WHO SHOULD PLAY ME IN THE MOVIE ABOUT MY (INCREDIBLY FASCINATING) LIFE? I MEAN, SINCE WE GET TO PICK THESE THINGS IT SEEMS.

A film based on Smith's life has been in the works for several years now - originally it was eyed as a potential acting vehicle for Robbie Williams.

Ratner Takes Helm for X-MEN 3
Twentieth Century Fox and Marvel Entertainment have hired Brett Ratner to direct X-MEN 3.

Ratner will be filling the spot left by Matthew Vaughn when he exited the project last week. He'll be working from the script by Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg.

The original cast is returning and as previously reported they will be joined by Kelsey Grammer, Vinnie Jones and Maggie Grace, who signed on to play new mutant characters.

Batman vs.Superman match still on the cards
"Batman Begins" producer Charles Roven seems pretty certain that one day the chap with the cowl and the dude in tights will team up.

Naturally, says Roven, "Batman vs.Superman" depends on the success of Batman and Superman's first solo missions.

"It all depends on the success of Batman Begins and Superman Returns", he tells IESB, adding that the current script for "Batman vs Superman" is superb.

"Batman Begins" star Christian Bale, who would no doubt be reprising his role as the Caped Crusader in the two-hander, says there might be a few solo missions before the teaming, but that it should happen.

"Batman vs.Superman" was the movie Warner Bros. were considering doing inititally - before deciding on solo missions for both characters. Wolfgang Peterson was attached to direct at one point, with everyone from Jude Law to Colin Farrell and John Travolta (yep, Zuko in tightsEDITOR'S NOTE: SHUDDER) in the running to play the crimefighters. One of the many problems in getting the film off the ground was getting two actors locked into the pic.

A spokesperson for Christian Bale told us at the time that, "...all rumoured participants have various conditions with regard to casting/money/marketing rights. For example, actor A may choose to do the movie ONLY if actor B is playing opposite him. If B drops out, A has the option to drop out or insist on Actor D, etc. ... Actor C may sign on with a condition that he makes the same dollars as Actor B. If he doesn't get it, he'll walk."

Ultimately, Peterson decided to go off and make "Troy" instead,EDITOR'S NOTE: SO IT'S BATMAN'S FAULT THAT WE GOT "TROY"? and "Batman vs.Superman" was shelved.

In "Batman vs.Superman", the Caped Crusader's girlfriend dies and Superman snags the blame. This leads to a conflict between the two crimefighters, not helped by the appearance of both heroes' long-time enemies.

Russell, Dreyfuss and Rossum to Set Sail on POSEIDON

Russell will play an ex-fireman and politico who is traveling with his daughter (Rossum) and her boyfriend. Richard Dreyfuss will play a gay man,who has just been dumped.

Wolfgang Peterson is directing from a script by Mark Protosevich and Akiva Goldsman.

The film will start production on June 18th.

Lucas boards 'Poseidon' for Warner Bros.
Josh LucasEDITOR'S NOTE: YOU WERE WORRIED ABOUT WHICH LUCAS, HUH? has finally signed on for Warner Bros. Pictures' remake of "The Poseidon Adventure," being directed by Wolfgang Petersen.

Lucas has been flirting with the role of the ship-hopping gambler for some time. Negotiations, which were on and off, broke down late Friday, leaving the part up for grabs. Both sides quickly reconvened over the weekend and sealed the deal.

Like the 1972 original, the story follows the survivors of the S.S. Poseidon, a cruise ship that is capsized by a tidal wave. The survivors, trapped inside, are forced to work their way to the surface of the upside-down ship through the hull. EDITOR'S NOTE: COME ON. EVERYONE SING....'THERE'S GOT TO BE A MORNING AAAAAAFTER.....'

Cage, Smith book trip to 'Time Share'
Nicolas Cage and Will Smith are attached to star in and produce "Time Share," a comedy pitch by Mark Steilen that was picked up by Columbia Pictures.

"Time Share" follows two fathers who lock horns when they discover their families are booked into the same time share on what should have been their dream vacation.

SISCO and SIN's Gugino is Ready to RISE
An insider has reported that SIN CITY and KAREN SISCO's Carla Gugino is in negotiations to join Lucy Liu and Michael Chiklis in Ghost House's upcoming horror thriller RISE.

Gugino will play the femme fatale Eve, member of the Undead cult that Lucy's character is hunting down.

This is an unconfirmed report at this time.