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QUEEN AND COUNTRY

[Greg Rucka]
Greg Rucka

Hot comic writer Greg Rucka has sold the film option on his latest book, Queen & Country according to a write-up in last week’s Variety. Betty Thomas’ Tall Trees Productions is in final negotiations on the option, which will be set up at 20th Century Fox. Should the deal become final the movie will be developed under Fox’s production president Hutch Parker, with production vice president Emma Watts overseeing it.

Comics2Film spoke with Rucka about the deal, which allows for the possibility that he’ll write the screenplay. “It’s something we fought for,” Rucka told us. He’s working on a treatment right now. “I’ll try to do an outstanding treatment and hopefully they’ll like it enough to give me a crack at the screenplay.”

The writer told us he’s happy to have the opportunity to do the treatment, even if he ultimately doesn’t get the scripting job. “I get to lay a foundation for it at worst, and at best they could just love the treatment.”

Queen & Country tells the story of Tara Chace, an assassin (or minder) employed in the service of Britain’s MI6 or S.I.S. Rucka told C2F that his treatment will be based on the opening story arc in which Chace assassinates a Russian mob boss and has to deal with reprisals from his cronies.

“It’s going to start with the same premise but it’s going to do it a different way,” Rucka said. “The nature of the comic is the first four-issue story arc is the opening story arc for an ongoing series. It establishes certain things and certain themes. But those themes in the comic are going to be extended for the next 20 issues or so. You can’t do that a movie obviously.”

Rucka had originally planned the comic as a spin-off from his Whiteout mini, which would feature the character Lilly Sharpe. Instead the author created the younger Tara Chace, a minder who is near the beginning of her career.

“One of the things I’m doing in the comic book and would like to do in the movie is that there’s an incredible toll this kind of work takes on a person,” Rucka said. The central theme will be how Chace comes to deal with the cost of doing her job. “It’s emotional currency, and you have to spend it in the job. How do you preserve it so that you have some left at the end of the day?”

Betty Thomas is better known for helming lighter fare such as Dr. Dolittle or The Brady Bunch Movie. However, Rucka told C2F that he has no reservations about Tall Trees developing this movie or the possibility that Thomas may also direct it. The writer was well-impressed by his meetings with the people involved with the deal, which contrasted with mediocre Hollywood meets he’s had in the past.

“This time, when I was down there, every meeting I’ve had was excellent. The people I met with were razor sharp, very passionate, clearly cared about wanting to do something well,” Rucka said. “The people at Tall Trees made a case that was very strong, and very close to my heart, as to what they wanted to be able to do with the property. I think it’s irrelevant whether or not Betty Thomas has actually directed an action adventure before.”

Rucka cites the UK TV series The Sandbaggers and it’s writer, Ian Mackintosh, as inspirations for Queen & Country. “It was the best espionage I’d ever seen and I wanted to be able to honor that. Mackintosh, as a writer, was someone who inspired me when I was very young.”

Finally, Rucka assured C2F that he’s committed to the comic book, which was never intended to be merely a springboard into other media. “This is a comic book that they happened to like and want to do a movie. That doesn’t mean the comic has served its purpose. The comic’s going to continue regardless of whether or not the movie gets made.”

Issue #2 of Queen & Country from Oni Press can be found in comic stores everywhere.

ALIEN ARENA

[Arena]
Preview 1

Preview 2

Preview 3

Comic and screen writer Dave Elliott gave Comics2Film readers a first look at his soon to be released Alien Arena comic. The story appears in Heavy Metal Summer Special which is due to ship this week.

Alien Arena features Elliott’s Sharky character as well as queen of the B’s Julie Strain. “The basic story is about our first contact with aliens and they’re into dangerous contact sports,” Elliott said. “When a group of humans mistakenly stop two aliens fighting in Times Square by killing one of them, the Alien Arena is revealed.

“Now we must find someone who can go up against a tough alien and survive, for to the winner goes Earth. Sharky fights alongside Julie Strain and even the artist Simon Bisley makes a guest appearance.”

Elliott’s been shopping the concept around for development as either a TV show or a feature film. There’s plenty of interest in the property with several production houses eagerly awaiting the release of the graphic novel.

Elliott would like to see the concept done as an animated TV series. To help sell the concept, Elliott plans on developing scripts for a TV take with comic legend Kieth Giffen. “We’re going to write the first three episodes. The approach I favor is the approach Bruce Timm is taking with the Justice League, which is every three episodes basically makes up a movie. Something like Alien Arena is a lot to digest in one episode.”

The comic is written by Elliott and with art by Dany Orizio from layouts by Alex Horley. The book will also feature a giveaway poster by Horley.

SUB-MARINER

Universal Pictures is in negotiations for the feature film rights to Marvel’s Sub-Mariner according to a write-up in today’s Hollywood Reporter. Marvel’s Avi Arad will produce with Kevin Misher (The Scorpion King).

Misher and Arad are enthused about the prospect of bringing Namor’s undersea kingdom to big-screen life.

“One of the great things about this property is, given the technology at hand today, it will be exciting to see the depiction of life under the sea (in the film),” Misher told The Reporter. “What other movies have done to depict life in outer space, we hope to do with the mysteries that lie under the sea.”

“This is one of Marvel’s biggest franchises because it deals with a world that has not yet been explored in film — the undersea — and that is absolutely the next frontier,” Arad said. “Even though it was first published in 1941, ‘Sub-Mariner’ has modern-day implications because if you look at the undersea and what’s happening there, you have to address such issues as Exxon Valdez and the oil spill, undersea bomb testing, pollution and global warming.”

Comics2Film followed up with Kevin Feige, senior veep at Marvel Studios, about the project. Specifically we wondered if the movie had any writer or director attachments, recalling that Philip Kaufman (The Right Stuff, Quills) expressed an interest in the movie last November.

Feige told us that there are no creative attachments on the project yet. Marvel is set to get the ball rolling on Subby by taking meetings with writers in the next few weeks. However, Marvel’s not looking to rush the project into production. “We don’t want to get this done fast,” Feige told C2F. “We want to get it done right.”

HELLBOY

Fans who had their hopes up for Vin Diesel to take on the part of Hellboy can now lower their expectations. The actor has told the Sci Fi Wire he currently has no attachment to the movie version of Mike Mignola’s character.

“Absolutely none, except for my admiration for the project,” Diesel said. “This won’t be the first time that I find out what my next project is from a team of reporters.”

Just over a week ago Comics2Film published a report on the subject. Although we reported there was no deal fore Diesel to do the movie, our sources did indicate that the possibility of a future deal was there. A source at Dark Horse Entertainment told C2F, “There’s definitely talks going on, and there’s definitely interest on his part, but I don’t know that there’s been a full commitment yet.”

MIGNOLA ON HELLBOY AND BLADE

Smilin’ Jack Ruby got a chance to sit down with comic great Mike Mignola for a talk over at the 13th Street website. Mignola is, of course, the creator of Hellboy and has also done design work for the upcoming movies Blade 2 and Disney’s Atlantis.

The comic creator commented on the work he did on the vampire-hunter sequel. “There will be no evidence of my involvement in Blade 2. There’ll be certainly nothing anybody could point to and say, that looks like a Mike Mignola thing,” Mignola said. “I wasn’t a production designer. I was the visual consultant. My position was that I would try to get the director’s vision onto paper and then whatever designs I came up with would be handed over to the real designers and the real production designers. My stuff would be used as a point of departure.

“So, maybe some of what I came up with will end up on the screen and maybe they’ll say, well, that’s fine, but it’s impossible to build. Then they throw it out.”

Blade 2 is directed by Guillermo del Toro, who has long been attached to direct the Hellboy movie, should it get made.

“If Del Toro ends up doing Hellboy, I would love to do exactly what I did on Blade, because I had such a good time,” Mignola told Ruby. “That’s one of the things we talked about a lot on Blade was, if we did Hellboy, get these same designers back, because it was like camp. I ended up living down in L.A. for two months in a hotel with some of the most genius, talented people.”

Mignola also commented on the comic to film adaptation process. “I’ve come up with ideas that I think would be great film projects and whatever happens to them, that’s fine. But first, I want to put it on paper the way I see it,” The comic creator said. “Then if someone wants to make a movie or a cartoon or something, then they can do whatever they want because I will have done my version first.

“If there’s a Hellboy movie, my feeling is Del Toro or whoever, let them make the film they want to make. Adhere to my stuff as closely as they want, because I would have already done my version. I’m not looking for someone to just slavishly translate my version from paper. I’ve done my version. Let them do their interpretation.”

Check out 13th Street for the complete interview with more comments from Mignola on Blade, Hellboy and Atlantis.

BATMAN (1966) DVD

[Batman DVD]
DVD Main Menu

DVD Scenes Menu

Biff! Bam! Pow! Fans eager for a special edition DVD of Batman can check the shelves at video stores on August 21 of this year.

Holy extra-features! Is this too good to be true? Maybe. The DVD is not Tim Burton’s 1989 movie, but instead it’s the 35th Anniversary Special Edition of 1966’s Batman, The Movie.

The feature film is based on the 1960’s TV show. While many fondly recall the show to be good, goofy fun, others consider it a campy disgrace to the character. There’s little doubt that, for several decades, it has inspired journalists to begin comic-themed articles with the phrase “Biff! Bam! Pow!”

The movie features Adam West and Burt Ward as the dynamic duo, out to stop a plot by their most vile villains. The cast includes Lee Meriwether as Catwoman, Cesar Romero as The Joker, Frank Gorshin as The Riddler and Burgess Meredith as The Penguin. The fearsome foursome aim to take over the world by reducing the United Nations to dehydrated powder.

Fox Home Entertainment has provided C2F readers with a sneak peek at the artwork for the DVD and gives this description list of features:

  • An all-new 16-minute featurette featuring interviews with Adam West and Burt Ward
  • Engaging running commentary with West and Ward
  • An exclusive tour of the original Batmobile
  • A behind-the-scenes stills gallery
  • Never-before-seen shots from Adam West’s private photo collection
  • The original theatrical trailers
  • More!

Online vendors are now taking preorders.

BATMAN YEAR ONE

A source with ties to Warner Bros. heard an interesting tidbit about the Batman: Year One movie project. Our source claims that the higher-ups at WB are talking about a 2003 release for Batman: Year One.

This sounds like an aggressive schedule considering there’s no script and Aronofsky seems to be leaning towards his science fiction project. However, our source assured us that Frank Miller, who is co-writing the script, has wrapped up his major comics projects and is now focused on developing the film.

CONSTANTINE

A source close to the production of Constantine, the movie based on DC/Vertigo’s Hellblazer, tells fans to keep their eyes peeled for announcements on that movie. Our source tells us the producers are hoping to get the green light on the project some time this year.

According to our source, the current screenplay by Frank Cappello is getting a very enthusiastic reception that is moving the project forward. “He’s responsible for getting the project where it is.”

WITCHBLADE

[Yancy Butler with Roger Daltrey]

TNT has released another image from the upcoming Witchblade TV series. The photo, from the July 10 episode “Legion”, shows Yancy Butler with guest star, former Who front man Roger Daltrey. Daltrey plays a priest named Father Del Toro in the show.

TNT provides this description of “Legion”: When a respected Catholic priest is brutally murdered by one of his students, Donny Woo appears with the ghost of the dead priest to give Sara direction. The priest reveals that he was murdered to conceal a controversial bargain that suggest the Nazi’s and the Vatican were allies during WWII, and that the Witchblade was used to seal the deal.

CATWOMAN

When John Rogers (Mage) sits down to write his Catwoman screenplay he won’t be making use of the goofy script for the concept that surfaced last year. Two independent sources- in- the- know told Comics2Film that Kate Kondell and Theresa Rebeck’s take on the character is out and Rogers is starting from scratch. The earlier draft was said to be more Scooby Doo than Catwoman by one online critic.

However, both sources agree that the character under the mask will not be Selina Kyle. Our sources also told us that the movie will likely have no overt links to the Batman movie franchise. One source did speculate that filmmakers may leave the door open for such a crossover.

SPIDER-MAN (AND HULK)

Comics2Film has confirmed that the trailer for the Spider-Man movie will, indeed, run with the upcoming Final Fantasy animated feature. A source at Sony Pictures said that the preview reel is definitely attached to the all-CGI feature.

Meanwhile, the ever resourceful Spider-Man Hype website has uncovered a video preview of the super-cool looking Spider-Man: The Movie video game. The game is due out for PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Gamecube. The impressive trailer can be found at the FirstLook website.

[Spider-Man Shirt - front]
[Signature]
[Spider-Man Shirt - back]

In other Spider-Man news, Dark Horizons reports that work on the new animated show is due to start at the end of this year. The show will sport CG animation. The source reports that Sony is “looking to carry the production quality [of the movie] over to the TV show.”

Allstarcharity.com brings us our next Spidey item. They’ve announced that an upcoming charity auction will give fans a chance to own a prop from the movie. Here’s the press release:

“Your friendly neighborhood Spider-man, Tobey Maguire, may stick to the walls of New York’s skyscrapers in Columbia Picture’s latest flick, but he left something behind when he went home to LA. No. It wasn’t sweetheart Kirsten. It was his sweatshirt! And online celebrity auction website allstarcharity.com has it. Tobey signed it before he boarded the plane so it can be auctioned off to benefit his favorite charitable institution – The American Ocean Campaign (AOC).

“Like all the auction proceeds received by allstarcharity.com, 100% of the highest bid on this unique item goes to AOC’s ongoing fight to restore and protect the future of the nation’s coasts.

“Spider-man toys, games, clothing, underoos, and other marketing items won’t be rolled out until this mega film is released in May 2002. In order to be the highest bidder and be the first to own an autographed piece of this legendary comic book hero’s latest collectible, log onto allstarcharity.com from June 12th to June 26th.”

[Spider-Man]
[Hulk]

Finally, the guys at Corona Coming Attractions unearthed a couple of cool images promoting upcoming Marvel movies. The images graced brochures that Marvel was circulating at a recent licensing show in New York City.

The first piece of artwork is from the Spider-Man movie. it depicts the movie version Spidey in action. It’s a nice contrast to the numerous set photos we’ve seen, which show the webslinger just standing around.

Next up is the teaser literature for the Hulk movie. It features a teaser poster along with some text promoting the current progress on the film. The poster sports at Summer 2003 release date. The literature discusses the signing of Ang Lee as director and the ongoing syndication of the Lou Ferrigno/Bill Bixby TV series.

Check out the CA website for large copies of the images.

GHOST WORLD

According to the recent Fantagraphics e-mailer this is the current release schedule for the Ghost World movie:

June 16th and 17th: Preview screenings at the Seattle International Film Festival. Director/screenwriter Terry Zwigoff, creator/screenwriter Daniel Clowes and star Thora Birch will be on hand for Q & A after the screening on the 16th.

July 20th the film opens in limited release in New York and Los Angeles.

August 3rd the movie goes into national release.

WEREWOLF BY NIGHT

A recent article in the Hollywood Reporter talks about the resurgence of werewolves as grist for the movie mill. As examples, the article cites projects like the TV show Wolf Lake or the movies like Brother hood of the Wolves, Ginger Snaps and Marvel’s Werewolf by Night.

As Comics2Film reported last month, the article confirms that Werewolf by Night is a co-venture with Dimension Films and Crystal Sky.

Marvel’s Avi Arad commented on the new interest in werewolf movies. “Part of (the appeal of werewolves) has to do with the fact that the technology has caught up where we can make them look the way we want them to,” said Arad told The Reporter.

Arad also talked about the appeal of “the beast within” as a universal concept. “I think that everyone’s got personal issues that prevent them from realizing their full potential. I definitely think it’s time for the werewolf genre to assert itself.”

Arad described the movie as a Shakespearean love story.

MUTANT X

The official Mutant X website posted the finalized descriptions of the major characters for the show. Fans will notice that these descriptions are altered from the very early takes culled from casting call sheets. Most notably, the mutant leader’s last name has been dropped, and the villain’s name has been changed entirely. Here are your Mutant X characters:

Adam (played by John Shea): Adam, whose last name is shrouded in mystery, is arguably the smartest man alive – the strategist, tactician and moral center of Mutant X. It was his genetic research that inadvertently created New Mutants – and he takes as his responsibility the salvation of these innocent victims of society. Adam has the serenity of a warrior poet – the perfect leader for Mutant X.

Shalimar Fox (played by Victoria Pratt): Shalimar Fox is in her mid 20s, fiery, feral and stunning, a sensual beauty utterly in touch with her primal self. Blessed with both human and animal DNA, Shalimar has the strength, speed, and cunning of the animal kingdom…with a tempestuous nature to match. She is uncannily fast, inhumanly agile and sensually feline. Walking the line between human and feral, Shalimar is a little wild and completely unpredictable.

Brennan Mulwray (played by Victor Webster): Brennan Mulwray is a tough, yet vulnerable, street-smart wiseguy in his late 20s-with the astonishing ability to generate enough electricity from his own body to power a small city. A fast talking cavalier with an ingratiating grin, Brennan is a master of electricity – who throws bolts of energy from his fingertips. Brennan loves being a New Mutant – throwing off sparks is an absolute blast.

Jesse Kilmartin (played by Forbes March): Jesse Kilmartin is a sweetly naive and good-natured guy in his early 20s who can alter the density of his body at will – going from rock solid as a stone wall one moment-then walking through a stone wall the next. Jesse led a sheltered childhood, and still has a lot to learn about the harsh realities of the world, but he’s more than proved himself an invaluable member of Mutant X.

Emma Desalvo (played by Lauren Lee Smith): Emma DeSalvo is a mischievous knockout in her early 20’s – a telempath who can communicate her own feelings – and receive the feelings of others around her. Emma can’t read thoughts, but she can sense in great detail an emotional state of mind – and learn an awful lot about another person from it. When these gifts combine with her party girl personality, fun and trouble are a double guarantee.

Marcus Eckhart (played by Tom McCamus): Markus Eckhart is the head of the Genetic Security Agency – a man who hunts down New Mutants for his conscience and his country. Eckhart blames Adam for the failed experiment that requires him to be forever insulated in an impermeable artificial skin. His distaste for New Mutants grows everyday that Mutant X exists. He won’t rest until all these anomalies are under his control.

BARBARELLA

Last Thursday’s Variety featured a write up detailing the upward trajectory of screenwriter and soon-to-be director John August. August penned last year’s hit Charlie’s Angels and got behind the camera for some second unit work on Go (which he also wrote).

The article mentions that he’s been busy writing a draft of the script for Barbarella, a job that is said to be nearly complete.

MARSHAL LAW/COOL BEANS WORLD

Cool Beans Productions recently announced the launch of it’s on-line comic site Cool Beans World. The computer animation house had enlisted some top-notch names in comics to provide subscriber content for the new site. Fans can check out the site for a free animated preview. Here’ the press release:

Seven on-line fantasies start Cool Beans World spinning. Pat Mills and artist Kevin O’Neill inject a heavy dose of cool carnage with an epic, all-new Marshal Law storyline. Alongside it, The Saintly Prologues chronicles a dark, computer-generated face-off between a schoolteacher and small-town evil. Clive Barker’s The Yattering and Jack tells of a demon’s attempts to capture the soul of a middle-aged pickle importer from London. While in Kingdom of the Wicked, a writer falls into the poisoned realm of Castrovalva, a world he once imagineered as a child. The digital tales of mad scientist Krieger, future convict Bone Ed and moody creature-feature Dark Frankenstein complete the launch line-up. Cool Beans World is a subscription-based service. Membership of the site can be purchased on-line and costs $2.95 (for four weeks), $16.95 (for six months) or $29.95 (for 12 months).

“We’ve had an amazing response to our preview site,” says Cool Beans World Creative Director Nick Percival. “We’re also being regularly approached by comic book writers and artists, keen to bring exclusive new projects to us and to develop existing ones. Many of these are big, big names – one great project is Clive Barker’s The Yattering and Jack, lavishly illustrated by the award-winning John Bolton. It’s quite surprising how many creators out there want to embrace the technology Cool Beans World can offer, and see what it can do for them and their creations.”

Marshal Law: Cool Beans World plans to bring all of the classic Marshal Law adventures to a new Internet audience. Enhanced with digitally animated episodes, plus a 182-page book-length thriller, Fear & Loathing, which reveals the Marshal’s origin. Marshal Law: Fear & Loathing is written by Pat Mills and stunningly illustrated by Kevin O’ Neill.

The Saintly Prologues: Saintly is a computer-generated horror flick that has been developed by Cool Beans Productions. The Prologues are a series of CG animations introducing some of the bizarre and dangerous characters in the film, which focuses on a group of children who go missing in a mysterious town, one Halloween. The chief suspect is a loner gravedigger, dubbed Old Gimpy, but there are strong hints at supernatural forces at work. ‘The Saintly Prologues’ are supported by bonus comic book material, biography pages, behind-the-scenes information and lots of extras.

Krieger: The mad scientist who has a sinister link to the events in Saintly gets his own computer-animated series. These e-episodes follow Krieger’s twisted experiments, his failed creations and visitors will even be able to follow his monthly journals online, giving an insight into his warped mind. Krieger’s regular journals are written by Pat Mills and they contain some of his best writing to date, supported by insane graphical imagery from the guys at Cool Beans World.

The Yattering & Jack: Written by Clive Barker, and lavishly painted by award-winning illustrator John Bolton, The Yattering and Jack tells of a demon’s attempts to capture the soul of a middle-aged pickle importer from London. It’s the first of three planned collaborations between Barker, Bolton and Cool Beans World, a major work fantasy-fiction to be followed by painted stories The Llehs and Mail’s Revenge. The Yattering & Jack will be supported by exclusive behind-the-scenes material and interviews.

Kingdom of the Wicked: On-line and in color for the first time, Kingdom of the Wicked is beautifully illustrated by D-Israeli and written by Ian Edginton. When the childhood creations of a renowned author return to haunt him, taking on lives of their own, the tormented writer slips into the realm of Castrolvalva. But the fantastical domain he dreamt up as a boy has now turned into a surreal nightmare world. Kingdom of the Wicked features numerous animations plus a mood setting original soundtrack.

Bone ‘Ed: For those who like their comic books to hit hard and take no prisoners, Bone ‘Ed offers something completely different. The creation of former 2000AD art droid, Dave Millgate, Bone ‘Ed serves up in-yer-face action, ink-black humor and eye bleeding visuals. Written by Simon Millgate, Bone ‘Ed is a bloody, violent tale of a deep-space prison colony and a convict who wants out. Having already achieved a cult following on the web, Bone ‘Ed offers intense, knife-edge storytelling with an extraordinary imagination and style.

Dark Frankenstein: Another unique animated comic book, Dark Frankenstein is written by Ian Edginton and illustrated with the dangerous paintbrush of Simon Davis. Set in the surreal city of Tyler, it tells of a dark creature that lives in alleyways feeding on the innocent. Detective Madeline Franke is doing all she can to track the monster, but sinister forces are at work behind the scenes hindering her attempts to do so. A moody soundtrack and animated effects add a new dimension to the traditional comic book. Support materials will include CG sequences, character biogs and behind-the-scenes information.

Future titles scheduled to appear on Cool Beans World include Simon Bisley’s eagerly anticipated computer animated Doomkeeper series followed by another new hot off the press Bisley project, Wrestling Wars. These will appear alongside Scarlet Traces – a sequel to War of the Worlds, Nobody a spy thriller with a twist, illustrated by Charlie Adlard, and Torturer which reunites the Nemesis team of John Hicklenton and Pat Mills.

Cool Beans World will also feature fun extras such as desktop themes, games, screensavers, animated sequences and exclusive behind-the-scenes material. Cool Beans World will also feature loads of exclusive merchandise including posters, signed prints, T-shirts and many other goodies.

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