Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hump Day MOVIE News

Ford announces Indy 4 deadline
Harrison Ford has told George Lucas and Steven Spielberg that if they don’t get “Indiana Jones 4” off-the-ground next year – they can find themselves a new man to wear ‘the hat’. EDITOR'S NOTE: UNCLE GEORGE! COUSIN STEVIE! HURRY HURRY HURRY!

The 63-year-old tells
Contact Music that, “It's looking very good to do another one. I haven't felt this positive about it happening in a long time... but if it doesn't happen in the next two years we should all forget it."

The latest is that the film will begin shooting in Autumn this year.

Producer Frank Marshall says it’s a definite priority at the moment. "Way back when Harrison was being honored by the AFI when this all started, we were all standing backstage, we saw all the movies and everything and we were a little nostalgic and mellow and we said, 'You know, that was fun. We ought to do that. Let's try and do this." Marshall tells

"Well that was a while ago. And I think that what we want is we want it to be as good as the others. These are not stories based on anything, so it's taking a while. But I'll tell you, it's on the front burner and we're gonna decide to do this or not real soon. We're gonna have a script real soon and now it's a question of getting our schedules all to where we can do it," is all Marshall can promise. "There's four of us, so it's hard."EDITOR'S NOTE: GET OFF YOUR DUFFS AND DO IT. (OH...AND MAKE IT GOOD, TOO, WHILE YOU'RE AT IT).


Oscar®-winner Hans Zimmer will compose the score to Ron Howard’s film adaptation of Dan Brown’s best-selling novel, The Da Vinci Code.

This highly-anticipated film from Columbia Pictures and Imagine Entertainment stars Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno, Paul Bettany and Sir Ian McKellen, and is set for release on May 19, 2006.

For Robbins, It Feels Like 1984
Empire Online is reporting that actor/director Tim Robbins is working on his own film version of 1984. In the interview, Robbins says, “I’ve got a screenplay of it. And now I’m starting the process of trying to put it together.”

Robbins is currently directing a stage (play) version of the novel in Los Angeles via his The Actors’ Gang. He noted, "When we think about the authoritarian world that Orwell painted, the catchphrases are one thing, but when you read the book again, the specifics and relevance for now are stunning."

Bond: Newton vs. Byrne?
Various news stories are circulating once again about who will be the next Bond girl or even possibly girls.

The Daily Telegraph is reporting that Rose Byrne (TROY) will sign this week to star in CASINO ROYALE. Byrne would play Vesper Lynd.

Per the story, "'All the actresses had to perform a bedroom scene with Daniel where Bond says he is leaving the service to be with Vesper Lynd. Barbara Broccoli was particularly impressed by Rose,' one insider said."

Then Sky Showbiz and some other sources are reporting that Thandie Newton is close to signing to be in the film. The reports are saying Mr. Bond himself, Daniel Craig, was "impressed" by Newton's audition. EDITOR'S NOTE: AND HE COULD TURN HER SIDEWAYS AND SHE WAS INVISIBLE! (NO "Q" NEEDED).

Time will soon tell which source, if either or any, are right.

Madsen Lands on NUMBER 23
New Line has set Virginia Madsen to star in THE NUMBER 23.

She joins a cast which already includes Jim Carrey, Danny Huston and Rhona Mitra. Madsen is replacing Elisabeth Shue.

Carrey will portray a man who becomes obsessed with a book that seems to be about his life but ends with a murder, with the number 23 woven through the plot.

Joel Schumacher is directing from a script by Fernley Phillips.

Paramount Pictures has set John Singleton to adapt and direct the novel WITHOUT REMORSE by Tom Clancy. The studio looks for it to possibly become a franchise.


Michael Ovitz, who owned the rights to the property, will produce.

HOODWINKED 2: Success Breeds Sequels
With the success of HOODWINKED, it can't be too suprising a sequel is alread in the works.

Cory & Todd Edwards and Tony Leech, who share directing and writing credits on the film, told the Los Angeles Times "We have a lot of stuff we didn't get to do in the first movie a lot of back story and subplots."

Todd added, "We want it to be like the TERMINATOR 2 of the franchise." He also said, "We made this movie so we could make other movies. If we had known at the time how much time it would take and how hard it would be, I am sure we would have all bailed." EDITOR'S NOTE: SOMETHING WE SUSPECTED ALL ALONG...CREATIVE TYPES ARE LAZY. (SNICKER)

Mandate Sets GHOULY BOYS

Mandate Pictures has acquired the rights to the children's comic book series, THE GHOULY BOYS by Christopher.

The story centers on four sweet, young monsters -- a wolf boy, a kid zombie, a young sea monster and the son of the boogeyman plus their flight-challenged pet bat EDITOR'S NOTE: I THINK THEY JUST DESCRIBED MY CLOSEST CIRCLE OF FRIENDS! -- who have a hard time fitting in with the "normal" human kids until they find each other. Mandate Pictures and Benderspink will produce.

Anderson puts 'Blood' on track

Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson is in advanced talks to produce and direct "There Will Be Blood," starring Daniel Day-Lewis as a turn-of-the-century Texas oil prospector in the early days of the oil business.

The sprawling period piece, which Anderson has spent several years writing, is loosely adapted from Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel "Oil!"

Budgeted at more than $25 million, "Blood" will be jointly financed and distributed by Paramount's specialty films division and Miramax Films, according to Paramount specialty division president John Lesher.

"It's an ambitious film and a compelling, relevant story about family, greed, religion and oil," EDITOR'S NOTE: AND WE'RE GOING TO CALL IT "GIANT"? Lesher said. "Paul is an incredible talent, exactly the kind of filmmaker the new division wants to be in business with." EDITOR'S NOTE: JUST ONCE, I'D LIKE ONE OF THESE GUYS TO SAY SOMETHING LIKE 'WE DON'T WANT TO MAKE THIS MOVIE, AND WE CAN'T STAND THIS GUY. BUT HE HAS PICTURES OF US IN UNSEEMLY POSES WITH SEVERAL BARNYARD ANIMALS, AND SO WE HAVE NO CHOICE.'


Former Paramount power producer Scott Rudin, who has shifted his base of operations to Disney, where he struck a new deal last year, was instrumental in bringing in Disney subsidiary Miramax, led by president Daniel Battsek, as a 50/50 partner on "Blood." Paramount will handle domestic distribution, and Miramax will release the film in foreign territories, which could yield the lion's share of the final gross.

Raver taking 'Museum' trip for Fox, Levy

Kim Raver has signed on to join the cast of Shawn Levy's "Night at the Museum" for 20th Century Fox.

Ben Stiller and Carla Gugino already have boarded the big-budget, live-action/CG comedy, which centers on a goodhearted but bumbling security guard (Stiller) who works at a natural history museum, where he accidentally trips an ancient curse that causes the creatures on display to come to life. Raver will play the ex-wife of Stiller's character.

"Museum" is scheduled to begin shooting next month in Vancouver and is slated for a holiday release this year

It will be a BLACK CHRISTMAS for Trachtenberg
Production Weekly is reporting that Michelle Trachtenberg has been hired to star in BLACK CHRISTMAS. She joins a cast which already includes Oliver Hudson, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Katie Cassidy.

The film, which is a remake, centers on a killer who terrorizes a sorority house with phone calls before he begins to murder the various girls of the house during the annual Christmas holiday break. EDITOR'S NOTE: HAVEN'T THE CRAZED KILLERS DONE IN ALL THE SORORITY GIRLS BY NOW?

Glen Morgan is directing.

Li and Statham go Rogue
So much for the “I’m retiring”, and “definitely no more Hollywood movies for me” statements.
Jet Li will re-team with Jason Statham, his co-star in 2001’s “The One”, for “Rogue”, a new actioner about to lens in Vancouver.

According to Production Weekly, Li will be playing the bad guy in this (his first since “Lethal Weapon 4” from memory?), a cold-blooded killer who murders Statham’s partner and the partner’s family. Needless to say, Statham’s got a bullet with the nasty Li’s name written all over it.

Corey Yuen, of “The Transporter” fame, is putting together the action sequences, so that fares well for the film

Zollo, Levine plan feature on Till's life, death
Producers Frederick Zollo and Thomas Levine are set to bring to the big screen the story of Emmett Till, the black teenager from Chicago who was killed in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. They are teaming on a narrative feature with director Keith Beauchamp, whose ThinkFilm documentary "The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till" is in theaters.

Till's killing by a group of white Southerners is widely recognized as the impetus of the civil rights movement. The men were acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury after less than an hour of deliberation. Four months later, they boasted about the crime in an interview with Look magazine but were never brought to justice because of laws against double jeopardy.

Beauchamp's longtime manager Steven Laitmon will co-produce

Rothenberg Heads to CITY OF THE BEASTS

Walden Media has hired David Rothenberg to adapt CITY OF THE BEASTS by Isabel Allende.

BEASTS, which is the first book in a trilogy, focuses on a 15-year-old adventurer and his 12-year-old sister who discover "People of the Mist" and the mythical city of El Dorado.


Will an old-fashioned Superman fly?
"Superman Returns" offers a traditional, invulnerable man of steel. But on screen and off, it’s a different place for his kind of heroics.

By Geoff Boucher, Times Staff Writer

SYDNEY, Australia — In a secret corner of a warehouse here, the biggest star of one of the biggest movies of 2006 was hidden away all of last summer. Outside eyes were not welcome and sunlight was blocked out to avoid its aging effects. But on one rainy day in June, the star's keeper allowed a rare visit.

"Not a lot of people get to see this," she said with a conspiratorial whisper as her key clicked open the lock.

Inside were 60 versions of a famous costume, all blue tights and red capes, but hardly identical. Some of the crimson capes were fashioned of silk twill (for just the right flutter during supersonic flying) while others came with boots of vinyl (better than leather during those seagoing adventures). More than a few featured a specially milled French wool that simply dazzles beneath a Metropolis sunset.

"This one here is a beauty cape," said Louise Mingenbach, the costume designer for "Superman Returns," "and with backlighting it's gorgeous … the aura a hero deserves, don't you think?"

If the medium is the message, certainly fashion can be the film and costume can be character.

That's never more true than with Superman.

He's been the hero of comic books, radio, film, Broadway and television, and (with the notable exception of the TV hit "Smallville") the most powerful constant has been that signature costume.

"Superman Returns" features notable actors (Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth EDITOR'S NOTE: KATE BOSWORTH IS NOTABLE? TO WHOM? and Parker Posey, with newcomer Brandon Routh in the title role), but undeniably, its star power is vested in the most famous uniform south of Santa's closet.

Yes, after nearly two decades, Superman is back.

Can't you hear it already?

Look ... up in the sky….The June release of "Superman Returns" will end a long, ugly and often ridiculous quest to relaunch the first and greatest superhero as a silver-screen venture. And a lot has happened since last we left our hero; the 1987 "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" was a poor final flight for the late Christopher Reeve, and in the years since a different sort of hero has filled the void. Costumed characters such as Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Incredibles not only made big box office, they also flipped the definitions of the genre.

In temperament, Superman is essentially a big, blue Boy Scout — but the heroes now in favor come wrapped in dangerous black leather, fight authority or wrestle with internal angst. Sometimes they even lose. All that keeps them down to earth, unlike the traditional and invulnerable Man of Steel.

The new edgy generation also comes in PG-13 films, but now Superman, like a Midwest candidate lauding family values, is expected to arrive at theaters as proudly PG. That rating gives it the rare "movie for all ages" status, but it also risks the dreaded eye-roll from teenagers, the constituency that clearly rules the summer movies.

So as strange as it is, the question that greets this ambitious $200-million revival of the 68-year-old champion of truth, justice and the American way is not "What took so long?" The question is: "Will this still fly?"

THE return of Superman has been building for 11 years — or more precisely, it's been collapsing during that span. At one point, Nicolas Cage was set to wear the cape and Johnny Depp was tapped as Lex Luthor. Directors came and went — Tim Burton, Wolfgang Petersen, McG and Brett Ratner among them. Scripts churned too, with wildly different plots (Superman dies, Superman turns evil, Superman fights Batman) and varying degrees of separation from the familiar mythology (Superman's home planet never really blew up, Superman wears a different costume, Superman can't fly).

All of it was a stab at securing the most powerful profit engine known to Hollywood: a magnetic, multiple-movie franchise that spans summer seasons. Warner Bros. could not let Superman languish. The problem was in the details of his return. Everybody wanted the old war horse to ride in new fashion.

"I don't want to sound critical, but some of the changes were, in a way, quite dangerous," said Guy Hendrix Dyas, production designer for "Superman Returns." "To ignore or explode the folklore may feel rewarding or bold for the person doing it, but you really risk treading on what's been done before. Bryan didn't want to do that."EDITOR'S NOTE: START A NEW STORY IF YOU WANT A NEW STORY. SUPERMAN HAS A STORY, AND HAS A HISTORY THAT SHOULD REMAIN RELATIVELY SACROSANCT. IT'S WHAT MAKES IT SUPERMAN, YES?

Bryan is Bryan Singer, the man who finally ended up with the director's job for Superman's 21st century revival. His presence has been cheered by comic book fans, and with good reason. Singer directed the two "X-Men" movies that — along with Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" films — are credited with ushering in the modern maturity of superhero movies. Unlike Raimi, Singer was never a comics fan. But he passionately loved the 1978 "Superman" with Reeve. And his version is a valentine to that Richard Donner film.

The Fortress of Solitude, Superman's Arctic headquarters, is carefully designed to remind audiences of the one that Donner shot. The Kent farm in Kansas has the same layout too. John Williams' theme music from the original is used lovingly in the new one. Even Marlon Brando, who played Superman's father, Jor-El, is heard in "Superman Returns" — the late actor's voice speaks words of wisdom to Routh, just as it did to Reeve. (There will be a dedication to Brando in the film's credits.)

Singer, raised in New Jersey by adoptive parents, said Donner's telling of how the last son of Krypton was raised on Earth always resonated with him.

"He's an American superhero, but he's also the ultimate immigrant, isn't he? And it's interesting to go back to that story now, because things are different."

Different in the real world, different in Hollywood and different in the film too. Today's cynicism and expectations of darker hero tales are reflected in the plot of "Superman Returns."

A huge crystalline spaceship (again a nod to the original franchise) crashes near a Kansas farm — but this time, instead of an infant, the passenger is a grown man. Superman has been gone from Earth for five years on a failed quest to learn more about his origins. And in his absence, his adopted world grew sour toward its hero. That's exemplified by Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth), now a single mom engaged to a new man (played by James Marsden, a veteran of both "X-Men" movies) and riding high in her journalism career after an award-winning Daily Planet series critical of the missing Superman.

"In a sense, the movie is about what happens when an old romance returns unexpectedly and also the anger we all have toward people that let us down or leave us behind," Singer said. "This is about the obstacles that befall an idealistic man. It's about an old-fashioned hero in a modern world that isn't sure it wants him."Singer said all of this wincing. His neck and shoulders were tight — "It happens when I don't get enough rest."

Filming at Fox Studios Australia (which, thanks to Australian tax breaks, has become a hectic hub for production), Singer was clearly ragged from working on a film that, by its budget alone, is a high-stakes affair.

But the early signs are positive.

At the San Diego Comic-Con in August, thousands of die-hard fans — the toughest crowd there is — gave sneak-peek footage a rousing, extended ovation. And the cable channel FX this month inked an early-bird deal worth as much as $25 million to secure the television rights for the movie, which won't air until 2009.

The movie is big in a literal sense too: Singer's emphasis on real-world sets meant building a 200-foot burning spaceship, the façade of a five-story Daily Planet, the glass-bottomed deck of a luxury yacht, the Fortress of Solitude and a Kansas homestead (complete with cornfield) re-created in a dusty Australian plain an hour's flight from Sydney.

Asked about the breadth of the endeavor, Singer shrugged. "It has to be big, right? It's Superman."

THE most fascinating set may be the smallest. The bad guy in the film is Lex Luthor, and one of his lairs is a mansion with a spectacularly detailed model-train set. The train set comes complete with aircraft, a model of Metropolis and even a harbor that (if you look really closely) has figurines posed in a reenactment of the shootout from the dock scene in "The Usual Suspects," Singer's breakthrough heist film. EDITOR'S NOTE: UMM....COULD A WEE BIT HAVE BEEN SHAVED OFF THE 200 MIL PRICE TAG, DO YOU THINK. I MEAN, IF THE TRAIN SET WAS A LITTLE LESS EXACT, ARE WE DOWN TO 199 MIL?

In that film, Singer got a bravura performance from Spacey as criminal mastermind Keyser Soze; now the Oscar-winning Spacey is Lex Luthor.

"This is a darker Lex too, because he's been in prison and he wants revenge," Singer said as he prepared for a scene on the giant Arctic set. "He's not playing around."

Over his shoulder, Spacey studied script pages and adjusted his parka and goggles. With his shaved pate and jackboots, the actor seemed to channel both Daddy Warbucks and Gen. Rommel.

As the scene began, Singer fidgeted with a microphone (which was decorated with a tiny red cape)EDITOR'S NOTE: GIGGLE. SOME ADORNMENTS ARE WORTH THE PRICE. A CAPE FOR THE MIC, FOR INSTANCE. and called out vague instructions for Spacey to "do it different."

Spacey smiled as the director mumbled and winced and said he's enjoyed working with Singer again.

"This is really my first time in a film of this sort — the big-budget, franchise, huge Hollywood thing — and Bryan has shown an ability to do these and do them in an interesting way, a sophisticated way," Spacey said.

In the scene, huge fans blow fake snow into the faces of Luthor and his henchmen as they creep up on the entrance to the Fortress of Solitude. Spacey barks out insults to his bumbling assistants with such gusto that Singer and the crew have to muffle their laughter while the cameras are rolling. The movie is split between the hero and villain, and it builds to a climactic showdown — the only time Spacey is on camera with his caped rival ("If you're Lex Luthor," Spacey noted, "you don't want to get near Superman because, well, you're not going to win if it comes down to a fistfight, are you?").

Singer said Spacey is vital to the film."The original movie was credible, and one big reason was casting people like Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, Jackie Cooper, Glenn Ford — I felt coming in that we were measured by that yardstick. So we have Kevin and Eva Marie Saint, Parker Posey. This kind of movie requires you to have a strong center, strong actors who don't get lost in it."

Just as Harrison Ford brought vital humor to the first "Star Wars" franchise, Hackman was the winking presence in the "Superman" movies that helped grown-ups deal with the fact that they were watching a movie about a fellow wearing tights. Now Spacey must be both menacing and funny to keep "Superman Returns" interesting.

They say a superhero movie lives and dies by the quality of its villain."I've heard that and, certainly, it's fun to play the villain, but I disagree that it's the most important aspect," Spacey said. "This movie is about Superman, and I think it comes down to that costume and the person in it."EDITOR'S NOTE: I DON'T KNOW. FIRST, OF COURSE, IS THE SCRIPT. BUT I THINK THE BAD GUY IS A CLOSE SECOND. THE HERO...WITH THE POSSIBLE EXCEPTION OF BATMAN, WHO IS A DARK HERO...IS RELATIVELY DULL BY DESIGN. BUT THE CONFLICT AND SHADES-OF-GRAY THAT MAKE THE BADDIE DO WHAT HE DOES IS WHAT GIVES THIS SORT OF THING ITS HEFT.

BRANDON ROUTH got physically ill the first time he saw a Superman movie. It was Iowa, he was just a kid, and his family took him to see one of the "Superman" sequels (he was too young to see the original at the cinema — he was born in 1979) and he was so excited he threw up. He shakes his head at the memory.

"Isn't that sad?"EDITOR'S NOTE: UMM...YEAH. KINDA.

Routh, at certain moments, looks remarkably like Reeve, although the young man's features are thicker than the late actor's.

"Watching some of the footage, there was a spot where I turned my head and I looked just like him," Routh said, sounding amazed. He most resembles Reeve in the guise of Clark Kent. "It's nice, actually. It makes me proud."

Like Reeve and other actors who have played Superman, Routh, 26, comes into the project largely as an unknown. That was important to Singer, who was loath to take a well-known face and try to persuade an audience to accept him as the Man of Steel. EDITOR'S NOTE: YEAH, BUT WASN'T REEVE A RELATIVE UNKNOWN AS A MOVIE ACTOR, BUT ALREADY SEMI-ESTABLISHED AS A STAGE ACTOR? AND ISN'T THIS GUY MOSTLY JUST PRETTY?

Routh, a soap opera veteran, called the physical process of donning the famed suit "humbling and sometimes painful," because of the rigors involved, but he lauds the under-armor and fake musculature. "I recommend it for everyone. Who needs the gym, right?"

He describes as "torture" the entire process of making him fly."The hardest thing was the first day I actually flew on film, you know, riding the wires." Routh shook his head and sipped on bottled water. "Nobody was quite sure how it would look. It had been tested with other people, but everyone has their own, uh, unique style of flying. And putting the costume on for the first time was, well, scary. But once it's on, it's really powerful. That was a relief. It wasn't goofy."

Goofy is always a deep concern when it comes to men in tights. So is typecasting. The first live-action Superman on screen was Kirk Alyn, but the first man to truly define the role was George Reeves, another Iowa native. The actor became famously bitter about the power the role exerted on his career. He often said he despised the costume he wore for "The Adventures of Superman," and he sourly noted that many children would try to "test" his invulnerability by kicking or punching him. EDITOR'S NOTE: KIDS TODAY ARE SO MUCH MORE CYNICAL, I THINK THE TYPE-CASTING THING IS A LOT LESS OF A PROBLEM. ESPECIALLY IF THIS GUY CAN ACTUALLY ACT.

Singer has become a student of Superman history. He knows the sad tales associated with something that, on paper, is so uplifting. He speaks with reverence about the character. But he also understands that the past must still fly in the present.

"One of the things that pulled me to this was to do something that answers to a bigger legacy," he said. "And this film is a much more funny and romantic movie than any I've made before..."

Viewers of "Superman Returns" won't know it when they walk into the theaters next summer, but for the scenes at the Daily Planet newsroom, Singer had Dyas and his people make up a phone list and job description for every single extra in the background — dozens of people. EDITOR'S NOTE: OH DEAR. THIS SOUNDS LIKE THAT 'METHOD' PRODUCTION OF "CATS" THAT CAME THRU HOUSTON NOT LONG AGO. ALL THE 'METHOD' IN THE WORLD DIDN'T TURN IT INTO SONDHEIM. OR EVEN BOUBLIL.

"Bryan wanted all of them to have a character, whether they were a sportswriter or a comic strip artist or a news reporter."

Singer, asked about the puzzling attention to phantom details, shrugged and said that this movie will live or die by its marriage of the heroic unreal to its real-world setting. Superman has been wearing the cape for a half-century, but it can still fit — and the ideal can still make everyone look to the skies.

"Things have moved on, people have moved on," Singer said. "Lois Lane has moved on. Superman is the same, but the world is changed. And that's what makes the movie interesting."


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