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GUERILLA

Beau Smith likes monkeys. The comic book writer and McFarlane Productions big shot told Comics2Film that much yesterday as we discussed his plans for a series of projects that would simultaneously develop concepts for both movies and comics.

“With Idea + Design Works (IDW) and through Image comics we’re going to be doing a book called Guerilla which is going straight to film as soon as the comic comes out,” Smith told C2F. 

He and screenwriter/producer Kevin Bernhardt and developing the concept which features a gorilla guerilla. “He and I have been co writing that and it’s been going pretty quick too. Mitch (Starship Troopers) Byrd’s doing the artwork on it,” Smith said.

So what’s the story? “I’ve always been fascinated that, the human mind, we only use 10% off,” Smith told C2F. With that in mind, the story centers on a silverback gorilla who has been taught sign language by his human caretakers. His human surrogate mother is a researcher. She has a romantic interest in a man who was once a big game hunter, but has become and eco-defender after witnessing the horrors of the poaching trade.

The surrogate father is killed when his poaching past catches up with him. The trauma, along with some jungle mysticism unleashes allows the silverback to use the dormant 90% of his brain power. The now intelligent gorilla, with the aid of the researcher pursue the killers through jungle and city to avenge the hunter’s death.

“We actually wanted to make the hero here, not the girl, not the guy, but the ape is the true action hero,” Smith told us. “He’ll be the Steve McQueen of animals. He’ll be able to do stuff with just looks and stuff and not have to say that much.”

Bernhardt is working to set the project up in Hollywood. Work on the comic is already underway. “Mitch Byrd’s done beautiful work on it so far,” Smith said.

Smith and Bernhardt own controlling interest in the concept with IDW investing in it as well. IDW is a graphic design art studio which creates custom comics, DVD menus, character and trading card designs, among other things.

Guerilla is the first such project for the partnership although Smith could not discuss future projects.

In related news Smith reports that he and Bernhardt have begun work on a treatment for Parts Unknown, Smith’s alien invaders concept.

[Greg Ellis]
Greg Ellis

DAN DARE

Comics2Film has learned that English actor Greg Ellis is providing the voice for Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future. Ellis starred in the 1999 film Crash and Byrnes and has also appeared on Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and The X-Files.

Meanwhile, the SFX Network reports that Charles Dance (The Last Action Hero, Michael Collins) is also among the cast members for the show.

SPIDER-MAN

[Spider-Man]

Late Last week Sony provided the online press with the first image of Tobey Maguire in costume as Spider-Man. Sony also provided these details about the suit:

The costume which Tobey Maguire wears as Spider-Man was in design and development for six months, according to Spider-Man costume designer James Acheson, who has won Academy Awards for Restoration, Dangerous Liaisons and The Last Emperor.

“It is based on tension-and is one piece-all the way from the boots to the top of the head,” says Acheson. “The boots have actually been built into the suit.”

Acheson also revealed tidbits about the helmet, which contains lenses by Oakley. Also of note, the suit is printed with a computer-generated rectangular pattern in order to create an illusion of dimensionality-an almost 3-D effect. There are over 120 individual silk screens on the suit, for shading and highlighting. The suit’s web has been molded in latex and dyed, but the actual design has been cut by computerized cutters. Teams of gluers and painters handglued the web onto the compressed suit and handpainted the web with various metallic finishes.

Corona Coming Attractions reports that fans will see a more amateurish version of the costume earlier in the movie. It’ll be Parker’s first attempt at costume making, and the one he wears into the ring with wrestler Bone Saw McGraw (“Macho Man” Randy Savage).

[Entertainment Weekly]

The above image was not the only one to hit the web that day. Entertainment Weekly notified webmasters everywhere that they would publish an exclusive image of Tobey, in costume, Friday on their website. However, the guys at CHUD managed to get the image online before hand, forcing EW to post it a bit earlier than expected.

That image will also appear in the issue of the magazine that hits the stands next week. Pick it up if you want a nice glossy print of the image.

So, with Spider-Man just now filming and over a year to go until it’s released, why are we seeing these revealing photos now? ”We want to save some surprises,” director Sam Raimi told EW. ”But we’re not going to torture the audience.”

Corona followed up on last week’s Spider-Man images with a report on the Spider-Man costume and on what the Green Goblin may look like once he hits the big screen. A scooper for that site gave CCA a report on the costume designs, which CCA says is consistent with information they have in hand.

The scooper claims to be a production assistant in the art department on the Sony lot. The scooper allegedly handled the lenses for the Spider-Man costume, which Sony has said were created by Oakley. According to the scooper, Spidey’s lenses are hand-cut from oversized goggle lenses and coated on the inside with ‘black iridium’ coating. The interior coating will allow the camera to catch Tobey Maguire’s eyes through the lenses in close-up, while still giving a “grey mirror” effect at a distance. Designer Hans Moritz, who created the Cyclops visor for X-Men did the work on the Spider-Man lenses.

“As for Green Goblin, look for his eyes to be bulbous beyond belief,” the scooper told CCA, “like golf balls and coated with Oakley’s 24k iridium coating which has real gold in it.” The scooper also reports that the Goblin’s costume will have armor plating which is coated with the same substance.

In other Spider-Man news, Fandom: Spider-Man recently reported on the use of the world wide web to promote the movie. Summarizing an article from the New York Times, the website reports that Sony is looking to utilize online reporting to get the word out on the webslinger.

“One of the things we have realized in the past couple of years is that the Internet audience is actually the same consumers as those moviegoers we get opening weekend,” V.P. for Internet marketing at Sony Pictures,  Dwight Caines is quoted as saying. “When these guys become evangelists for you, their demographic profile looks just like early- weekend frequent moviegoers, and that`s the best kind of evangelist to have.”

Further, producer Laura Ziskin had this to say, “we want to make them happy and keep them in the loop. But ultimately, we are responsible for the movie. We are not looking for a Web-based focus group.”

Comics2Film can vouch that Sony has been very open about sharing information with sites like this one. The widespread distribution of costume photos last week is evidence of that. This is in marked contrast to 20th Century Fox’s paranoid secrecy about X-Men.

In still more Spidey news: Spider-Man Hype! reports that the address for the official movie website will be www.spider-man-movie.com. Hitting that address now takes you to the generic Sony Movies site, but it does pop up a browser window with the costume photo in it.

In yet another Spider-Man item: A write up in Las Vegas Review Journal mentions that Cirque du Soleil performer Christopher Childers is the choreographer on the movie. Childers, a dance coach on various Vegas productions, served as a “test double” on Spider-Man. Apparently Sam Raimi liked his work and asked him to stay on as choreographer.

Under the heading of “There’s Just No End To The Spidey Update”: Kirsten Dunst recently spoke with Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith for their Hollywood Exclusive column about how she was cast in the movie. Dunst first heard Sam Raimi was interested when she was filming The Cat’s Meow in Berlin. Raimi, producer Laura Ziskin and Spider-Man himself, Tobey Maguire, all flew to Berlin so she could read for the role of Mary Jane. The tests were conducted in a hotel conference room.

“All the other girls had been tested professionally on a soundstage,” Dunst told the columnists. “We had to keep calling the front desk to get more lights for me. But luckily, I got the part.”

But wait! There’s more! Spider-Man Hype has laid to rest the question of whether or not the Flash Thompson character appears in the Spider-Man film. An inside scooper tells the website that and newcomer named Joe Manganiello will play the bullying jock. The Hypesters verified this information with a casting agency involved with the film.

This is…really: In other Spider-Man news, a posting from IGN FilmForce puts you, the reader, at the recent Spider-Man press conference. The website has posted video clips from the conference.

HELLBLAZER

[Hellblazer]

An article in today’s Hollywood Reporter discusses the expiration of the production dealbetween Warner Bros. and Donner/Shuler Donner, the production house headed Richard Donner (Superman) and Lauren Shuler Donner (X-Men). The deal with Warner Bros. expired on December 31 and the studio has opted not to renew it.

The article mentions that the Donners still have three pictures in development with Warner. Constantine which is based on DC Comics Hellblazer is mentioned as being fast-tracked by the studio.

However, the most interesting insights about the Constantine movie are to be found at the DC Comics message boards. Screenwriter Frank Cappello has been posting there since early December.

In a posting dated yesterday, Cappello told readers that there may be “news shortly on Constantine getting green light.”  Nicolas Cage (who’ll play a comic book character on the big screen or die trying) was recently given the script. Late last year Cappello said that the studios casting preferences also include Mel Gibson, Kevin Spacey and, if budget becomes a concern, Hugh Jackman is a top choice.

Cappello told fans that his script for the film has been well received at DC. “The president of DC comics has officially been quoted as saying it’s one of the best comic adaptations they have ever read,” Cappello said. “I essentially threw out everything that had been written before and went back to the comics. It is very dark in tone but still has John’s sense of humor.”

One major point of controversy is the studio’s decision change the character from British to American. “Yes, Constantine was British and he had a lot to say against the queen and all her court’s warts but do you really believe Warner Brothers OR DC Comics wants to make a major American motion picture whose main character’s biggest pet peeves and constant ravings are about the British government? (Remember The Avengers?)” Cappello asks fans, referring to 1998’s insipid remake of the British TV series. The screenwriter points out that there’s plenty to complain about in American politics.

“It’s that ‘attitude’ of John’s, his unwillingness to let things slide even in the face of death, that is so special,” Cappello said. “That’s what’s most important to capture. If you can’t live with that, then you won’t go. Fine. For the rest of the audience, though, John Constantine will be a very fresh character in a sea of worthless devil movies.” 

Cappello also states that, unlike previous drafts of the screenplay, his version displays the characters contempt for both heaven and hell. The story will focus more on Constantine himself, than on demons or magic.

HULK

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon director Ang Lee is in early talks to direct the big-screen version of Hulk according to today’s Hollywood Reporter. The movie is targeted for a 2003 release.

The movie has long been in development with Gale Anne Hurd for Universal Pictures. James Schamus, Lee’s producing partner at Good Machine, is now on board as a producer for the film as well. Schamus co-wrote and executive produced Crouching Tiger.

David Hayter (X-Men) turned in a draft of a screenplay late last year which was said to have had everyone very excited. According to the Reporter, this script is what is attracting Lee to the film.

“If you were to think who could bring this franchise to life and make it the best possible movie, I don’t think you could find a better director than Ang Lee,” Hurd told The Hollywood Reporter. “Between the character work that is at the core of Hulk — the duality of Banner and the primal nature of the Hulk — and the ability to create something visually that we’ve never seen before, there are not a lot of people who bring that to the table. And certainly no one who can do that better than Ang Lee.”

Marvel producer Avi Arad talked about what Lee will bring to the project. Unfortunately Arad indicates that the movie will be following the TV show’s lead in one regard, rather than remaining true to the comics. “Everything Ang Lee does is thought-provoking– no matter what language it’s in,” Arad told The Reporter. “He shows it in the characters’ emotions and gestures. Don’t forget: The Hulk can’t speak — it’s all about emotions and gestures.”

It’s important to note that Lee is not completely on board the project yet. If he does sign on, it’s also possible he’ll do another movie before starting on Hulk.

FANTASTIC FOUR

Cinescape magazine recently spoke with screenwriter Sam Hamm about his work on the Fantastic Four movie. Hamm reports that he finished a draft of the screenplay for that movie in the summer and has turned in a second draft since then.

Hamm contrasted the work to his first big comic book adaptation. “The Fantastic Four are generally a sunnier bunch than Batman,” Hamm told Cinescape. “And the fun of doing a team story is that it’s really about an extended dysfunctional family.”

Hamm aims to be true to comics first family and cites an early issue of the comic as an influence on the script. In that comic, the group has to deal with the fact that Reed Richards has lost all their money on bad investments. “The notion of comics characters having to deal with petty real-life issues in addition to alien invasions and supervillains who want to take over the world is what gave them so much flavor. And that’s really what we tried to capture in [the script].”

ASTROTHRILL

Craig Clark of Cheeky Press wrote in to let us know that work progresses on his 12 minute Astrothrill short movie. The movie is based on his comic book/CD. It features the voice talents of William Barker (Family Matters), Brandy Young, and Rene Estevez (The West Wing). A new test animation is available for download on the Cheeky Press website.

BATMAN

[Jack 'The Joker' Nicholson]

Will Jack Nicholson reprise his role as the Joker in either of the upcoming Batman movies? Probably not, but if the actor had his way he would do it. In his weekly column for E! Online, Anderson Jones heard from the actor at a press junket for his upcoming movie The Pledge. Nicholson told reporters he’d love to play the Joker on the big screen again.

“Baby, I’ve promoted it endless times,” Nicholson is quoted as saying. “I’ve got the title. I wrote the scene. I know how to bring him back to life. They’re hung up on: I died in the first picture. Are they kidding? The guy was in radioactive waste over his head in the opening scene.”

THE CROW DVDS

Frank over at CrowFans.com sent in a nice report on the upcoming release of The Crow: Salvation on DVD. The film will be released as a single disc and also as part of a boxed set with the previous crow films. Features on the set will include:

  • Extra Brandon Lee interviews (currently being worked on)
  • Each of the DVD’s will contain a screen play viewer
  • Each DVD will have an enhanced playback track which includes commentary and trivia from Jeff Connor, and a list of web links.
  • The Crow DVD will contain:
    • Behind The Scenes, 30 minute James O’Barr commentary.
    • Three extended scenes which include Arcade Games, The infamous Funboy/Eric Draven fight, and the Shoot Out at Top Dollars. However there will not be any video footage of the liquor store hold up, due to today’s political environment.
    • There will be a number of deleted scenes stills. 
    • The storyboards will contain info on the liquor store hold up and Skull Cowboy. The Skull Cowboy footage will not be on there since it’s already on the web.
    • There will a Devil’s Night Retribution Trivia Game that allows fans to post their scores online.
  • The Crow: City of Angels DVD will contain:
    • Behind The Scenes
    • Costume Design
    • Production Design
    • Still Gallery of the original poster concept, and Storyboards
    • Commentary from Jeff Most, Graeme Revell, Richard Brooks, and Alex McDowell
  • The Crow: Salvation DVD:
    • Behind The Make Up
    • Behind The Scenes
    • Storyboards
    • Production Design
    • Who’s that bird, footage with the crow trainer
    • Commentary from Bharat Nalluri, Eric Mabius, Jeff Most, Macro Beltrami, and the production designer

SUPERMAN ON DVD

[Superman]

Andy Mangels published an excellent comics to film DVD guide in recent issues of Comics Buyer’s Guide. Of special interest were details on the Supeman: The Movie Special Edition DVD.

The DVD will feature an expanded cut of the movie. However, the cut will not be called a “Director’s Cut” as the original 1978 release of the film actually was director Richard Donner’s cut. Donner’s longtime associate, producer Michael Thau has worked on the disc along with Johnathan Gaines, who produced the DVD for The Matrix.

Thau told Mangels, “this has more material on it that has been made for the DVD, than any DVD that I know of.” Included in the new material are commentary tracks by Donner and producer Tom Mankiewicz, interviews with Christopher Reeve and more.

Warner Bros. would not give a firm release date for the disc, but told Mangels that they’ll be aiming to release it this year.

BLADE 2

Traci Lords will be back in all her bloodsucking glory in the upcoming Blade sequel according to IGN FilmForce. Lords had a bit part in the original, but was quickly disintegrated by the vampire hunter. FilmForce cites the Hollywood Reporter as the source of its information.

Lords will play Verlaine, the twin sister of the night-clubbing temptress Blade killed in the first act of the original.

The casting of Tcheky Karyo was confirmed in the same article.

IRON FIST

[Ray Park]
Ray Park

Corona Coming Attractions reports a blurb from Ray Park’s official newsletter indicates that the actor will be using his own voice in the upcoming Iron Fist movie. Although Park has appeared in three recent Hollywood movies, he’s have very few speaking lines. The Scottish actor does speak with an accent. The traditionally American character will be rewritten to account for that (which sort of balances the whole Hellblazer thing, doesn’t it).

Park also told his fans, “We are working with Marvel and Artisan on some very cool stuff surrounding the new movie. Too early to say anything yet as the script has not even been written. The movie will begin filming early this year and we will continue to bring you up to the minute news on the movie as we get it.

Screenwriter John Turman told Comics2Film that he’ll be in England this week to meet with Park and discuss the movie. He plans to begin writing the script soon and have it completed as quickly as he can.

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