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IRON FIST

[Ray Park]

Marvel Enterprises has issued an official press release announcing the casting of Ray Park in the title role in the Iron Fist movie. Park is well known to genre fans as Toad in X-Men and Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace.

John Turman (Buck Rogers, The Incredible Hulk) is also officially on board to write the screenplay. Artisan is actively seeking a director for the picture with plans to fast track the film in order to put it into production before the potential Screen Actor’s Guild strike goes into effect. The announcement was made today by Patrick Gunn, Executive Vice President, Artisan Entertainment.

The martial arts-themed Iron Fist will tell the story of Danny Rand, a westerner, who as a child was raised in a secret temple in the Far East and as an adult returns to the United States to seek revenge on his parents’ murderer. The character has the power to channel his “chi” into his fist and strike with the force of iron. Fittingly, both Park and Turman are accomplished martial artists.

Iron Fist represents the first official announcement in regards to a theatrical film to come out of the Artisan and Marvel joint venture, designed to produce and distribute character-based programming across multimedia outlets. Artisan and Marvel are also actively developing the legendary comic book character, The Mighty Thor, as a television property.

Said Gunn, “With the recent theatrical successes of comic book based programming, audiences have shown their appetite for the genre. Artisan intends to bring Iron Fist to the screen with the same cutting edge style and smart filmmaking for which the studio is known. We are pleased that Ray and John have joined us, thereby bringing incredible talent to the table for a project that has already generated a great amount of excitement and anticipation.”

Avi Arad, CEO of Marvel Studios, added, “We are delighted to be moving ahead with the first feature film project under our unique venture with Artisan. Iron Fist is a very edgy property which perfectly fits Artisan’s strength. This project is just the first step in our mission with Artisan to deliver some of our most popular superhero brands to a mass audience through different mediums.”

SMALLVILLE

Last September the WB network announced that it was ordering up 13 episodes of a TV show featuring and teenage Superman. Comics2Film has uncovered some information about the characters that will occupy the show, and town, named Smallville. A source close to the project provided this background information for the main players:

Clark Kent is, of course, the main character in the show. Kent is depicted as a 15 year-old. Jonathan and Martha Kent found the boy at the crash site of a strange metallic craft. The 3 year old escapes the crash unharmed. As Clark’s strength quickly grew, the Kents encouraged him to keep it a secret in order to avoid scrutiny by the authorities. In order to keep up the charade, Clark avoided sports and excelled in academics. At 15, new powers have started to emerge and it’s a struggle for Clark to control them. The Kents have come clean about the boy’s origins. Clark fears that he my be responsible for a string of weird occurrences that have plagued his small town since his arrival on Earth. Because he feels responsible, Clark uses his powers to stop these occurrences.

Lex Luthor is the 21 year-old son of Lionel Luthor the pesticide king of Metropolis. Lionel is a driven businessman who neglects his family. Lionel tries to connect with young Lex by including him on a business trip when the boy is nine years old. During the trip an accident causes Lex to lose all his hair. The guilt ridden Lionel tries to restore the boy’s hair but fails. Instead he showers Lex with money and gifts, but eventually sends him off to boarding schools. An academic overachiever, Lex faced constant ridicule due to his baldness. Ridicule led to altercations, which had Lex bouncing from school to school. Eventually he graduated from Metropolis University at the top of his class. However, rather than taking Lex under his wing, the senior Luthor sends him to Smallville to turn a struggling fertilizer plant around. It’s supposed to be a one-way ticket to failure but Lex vows to succeed and the take the corporation from his father.

Lex and Clark become friends after Clark saves his life. Clark looks at Lex as a big brother, while Lex feels Clark is a confidant. Neither can imagine that one day they’ll be bitter enemies.

Lana Lang is Clark’s 15 year-old love interest. Like Clark, she’s an orphan, but she’s overcome that by being outgoing. She’s the most popular girl in school and dates the high school’s star quarterback. Lana feels a closeness with Clark, but that’s usually thwarted by his strange behavior. When Lex Luthor comes to town, Lana is intrigued by his big-city mystique which appeals to her desire to escape the confines of the small town.

DIABOLIK

[Diabolik]

Two weeks ago, Comics2Film reported information from an anonymous insider regarding the Diabolik animated show. The show had been announced as part of Fox Kids Fall 2000 schedule. We later learned from Fox Kids that the network was not going to air the show after all. Our insider filled in some of the details as to why the show may have been pulled from the Fox schedule.

Larry Brody, a creative consultant on Diabolik, and an Executive Creative Consultant on Spider-Man Unlimited checked in with C2F to illuminate the situation further.

“The problems with Diabolik were much more complex than your ‘source’ indicated,” Brody told us. “First, someone who had never done animation before and had no real affinity for comics was hired to develop/supervise the series (not me; I replaced him later). Then, the network exec who had championed the show was kicked off it in a power struggle. And then there was the fact that there were 5 partners, French, Italian (2), American, and Japanese, all of whom had contracts giving them ‘final approval’ of each episode.”

The end result of all this confusion was “a series that was too childish for Italy and Fox Family, too adult for France and Fox Kids, and too expensive for Japan,” Brody told us. “Yet the show was a certified hit in France anyway, and would have been a moneymaker if the toys had ever come out.”

The failure to bring the toys to market is another complicated story Brody said.

THE ROAD TO PERDITION

A comic book adaptation that recently flew under the C2F radar is The Road to Perdition. This movie is based on the graphic novel by Max Allen Collins and Richard Piers Rayner which was published by DC Comics under the Paradox Press imprint in 1998.

Tom Hanks is set to star as the story’s protagonist Michael O’Sullivan. DC provides this description for the graphic novel: “Michael O’ Sullivan is a hitman. Uncompromising in his work,he is just as devoted to his private life, as an upstandinghusband and father of two young boys. But when those worldscollide, taking the lives of both his wife and the younger of histwo sons, O’Sullivan and his surviving son, Michael Jr., leavetheir sedate home life behind and embark on a startlingfather-and-son journey of revenge.”

The movie is to be directed by Sam Mendes who picked up an Oscar this year for directing American Beauty. Hanks had apparently wanted to appear in American Beauty but had to pass it over in order to work on Cast Away.

Hanks recently did a Q & A session with E! Online. When asked when he’d consider playing a bad guy the actor responded, “I’ve always said, ‘When I can understand his motivation.’ Why do Cast Away when I could play a Bond villain? If I wanted to, I could manufacture any mad-bomber option, but what do I get to examine in the course of that? What aspect of human rationale and behavior is there to be looked upon? I think [Michael O’ Sullivan] is it.”

So, is Hanks a fan of the source material? Not necessarily. The actor had this to say about The Road to Perdition: “It’s based on a graphic comic novel, whatever that is. I don’t know where you can buy graphic comic novels.”

In November the trades reported that Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan) is in negotiations to play Al Capone. Also reported is that Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley) is up for the part of the film’s antagonist and Paul Newman is being considered for an unspecified role in the film. David Self (Thirteen Days, The Haunting) is writing the screenplay for the film. Lili Fini Zanuck and Richard D. Zanuck (True Crime, Mulholland Falls) are producing.

Thanks to Tom Lynch for the lead and to Corona Coming Attractions for much of the above info.

BLOODQUEST

Exile Films has mailed out the latest edition of the newsletter supporting the CGI film BloodQuest, which is based on the Warhammer 40,000 comics and games.

The folks at Exile are presenting fans with a chance to “‘live’ in the 41st Millenium as a fully animated CGI hero!” 

Fans are asked to send a head and shoulders picture along with a short explanation of why you would “make a great Space Marine/Imperial Guardsman/Ork(!?!)” People sending in photos will have to sign a model release. Materials may be e-mailed to starsearch@exile-films.com or sent regular mail to the address listed on the Contacts page of the Exile Films website. Entries send regular mail will not be returned.

The filmmakers also told readers that they should have a distribution arrangement in place for the movie by the end of January or early February. They also provide fans with the latest test image which can be found at http://www.exile-films.com/media/newsletter.jpg.

SPIDER-MAN

[Spider-Man]

A few weeks ago Comics2Film broke the scoop about TVTix rounding up unpaid extras to fill a crowd scene in the Spider-Man movie. Now, the folks at Metropolis Comics in L.A. provide the following press release with additional information for fans:

Metropolis comics has a great opportunity to help provide extras for the Spider-Man movie being filmed in Culver City on Jan 17th, 18th and 19th. Here’s the deal: A bus will be sent to pick up our people from the store’s parking lot if we can get a group of 45 or more. All participants must be over 16 years of age. There is no pay, but there will be casting company reps there for those who want info on paid extra gigs.

The bus will return everyone to the store around 7:30pm. The scene being filmed that day features: the very first transformation of Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) into Spider-Man, his first encounter with the evil Bone Saw McGraw (“Macho Man” Randy Savage) an un-sanctioned wrestling match between Bone Saw McGraw and Spider-Man with lots of special FX.

Metropolis comics is located at 8323 Firestone Blvd. in Downey, CA, near the 5, 105, 605, and 710 freeways. Call the store for more details 562-869-1492 as we get them. There will be sign-up sheets at the store – you MUST sign up in order to be included, and if you are not signed up, there may not be room for you on the bus! So call us, get to the store, do whatever you must to get on that list if you want to be there those days – you may come for one or all days!!

BLADE 2

Teen singer Samantha Mumba has auditioned for a part in the upcoming Blade 2 according to Showbiz Ireland. The Irish entertainment news site spoke with Mumba’s manager Louis Walsh who said, “I can confirm that Sam will be in American for nearly all of next year and that has just done the screen test for Blade 2. She will only be in Ireland for the Childline concert in January and then for the rest of the year she will be in the states so this would be the perfect opportunity for her to start her film career, This would also be the perfect role for her to start it with.” Unfortunately for Mumba, Blade 2 is filming in Prague, not the U.S.

Earlier in December Yahoo! UK reported that Mumba would be reading for the part. At that time, the singing star said, “It’s very exciting – I’d love to do an action movie and I want to be a bad girl that kicks a**, so this would be perfect. Wesley Snipes would be the my first choice to appear with – he’s the toughest and best man on the big screen. So hopefully it’ll happen.”

Speculation is that Mumba read for the part of Nyssa, a female member of the vampire “Bloodpack” that Blade is forced to team up with.

Thanks to Popcorn.co.uk and Ain’t It Cool News for the lead.

BATMAN: YEAR ONE

Frosteey, webmaster of the Pure Batman 5 Rumors sends in a status report on Batman: Year One.

One rumor that is apparently making the rounds is that Aaron Eckhart (Nurse Betty, Erin Brockovich) is writer/director Darren Aronofsky’s favorite to don the cape and cowl. Frosteey’s top anonymous source tells him, “This is another one of those false rumors spread by someone for fun. There is not truth to this whatsoever! I promise you Eckhart will not be playing Batman!”

Meanwhile, Frosteey also observes that Warner Bros. picked up the domain name batmanyearone.com. The domain is not yet active, but a look at the Internet Whois registry confirms that WB owns it. WB purchased a number of Batman Year One and Batman Beyond related domains last February, but batmanyearone.com is new.

In a somewhat related note. Frosteey has also started up the first and only website dedicated to the work of Aronofsky. Check out Darren Aronofsky Online.

WITCHRIGHT HALL

Emily Hart is set to star in Witchright Hall, the spin-off of the popular Sabrina The Teenage Witch TV show, according Fandom Shop’s Daily Buzz. Hart voiced the Sabrina character in Disney’s Sabrina The Animated Series and is the younger sister of Melissa Joan Hart who plays the title role in the live-action series.

Citing Entertainment Weekly as their source, Fandom states that Emily will play Sabrina’s obnoxious cousin Amanda.

The bookish Emily told EW that she’s concerned the Witchright series may conflict with her academics. “I was pretty excited,” Emily is quoted as saying. “But then I also was sort of upset. I don’t want to take time off from school, I don’t think you understand how much I love school.”

Paula Hart, producer of both the shows and the Hart sisters told EW, “Sabrina will be on for quite some time, ‘but as she’s growing older, it’s time to fill those shoes again with a younger witch.”

Emily was set to star in a different Sabrina spin-off called Spells Trouble back in 1999. That concept would have also featured another Hart sibling: Alexandra Hart-Gilliams. ABC passed on the concept, and eventually canceled the Sabrina show as well. Now on the WB network, Sabrina is a ratings hit and the spin-off is back on again.

HULK

[Bill Paxton]

An anonymous scooper for Corona Coming Attractions reports that Bill Paxton (Vertical Limit) may be a contender for the role of Dr. Bruce Banner in the Hulk movie. Paxton has worked with Hulk Producer Gale Anne Hurd on such movies as Aliens and Terminator.

CA does not give an indication of how credible the source may be. Paxton has been rumored as a contender for the role as far back as an article in Premiere Magazine dated September of 1998.

MONKEYBONE

Movie fans with discriminating taste who subjected themselves to recent screenings of Dude, Where’s My Car were also treated to the trailer for Fox’s Monkeybone. The live-action and animated movie stars Brendan Fraser, is directed by Henry Selick (A Nightmare Before Christmas) and is based Kaja Blackley’s graphic novel Dark Town.

This prompted us to check the various domains that Fox has purchased to see if an online trailer was to be found.  We didn’t find any trailers, but we did find that Fox has grabbed up a new batch of domain names for the movie. None of the domains are active but instead, redirect to FoxMovies.com. Here’s the list of potential new web addresses for the Monkeybone movie: monkeybone-themovie.com, monkeybone.com, monkeybonelive.com, and monkeybonethemovie.com.

X-MEN 2

[X]

Rumors that pro-wrestler The Rock (a.k.a. Duane Johnson) had signed for the role of the Beast in the X-Men sequel spread like wildfire across the internet yesterday. And just as quickly, this bit of casting nonsense was struck down.

Corona Coming Attractions correctly points out that at this stage in the movie’s development it’s very unlikely that someone like The Rock would be cast. Director Bryan Singer (who allegedly started the rumor at a recent comic convention) is not signed for the sequel yet. Nor is there a script for the film. It’s uncertain whether or not the Beast will even be in the movie (although it seems likely), so it’s unlikely they’d be casting the part.

The most positive debunking of the rumor comes from Ain’t It Cool News who spoke to Singer himself. Singer told that website that the story that he and Lee made the announcement at a comic convention is “complete BS.”

The Rock will be appearing in the upcoming sequel The Mummy Returns with Brendan Fraser. His performance there was apparently so good that Universal already signed him to headline a spin-off called The Scorpion King. The Rock’s deal for that movie landed him a record-setting salary for a first-time leading man.

MUTANT X

Cinescape reports that Katz Television is pushing Marvel’s Mutant X TV series as their “first recommendation” to their broadcasting clients. This comes from The Hollywood Reporter who quotes Katz vice president Bill Carroll. Carroll points to the success of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda as signs of continued life for the declining syndicated programming market.

Update 1-3-2000 at 12:00 PM

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