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DEATHLOK, ZOMBIE, IRON FIST

[Deathlok]

Marvel Comics controls more than 4700 proprietary characters and Hollywood seems intent on developing a movie for every last one of them. In speaking with Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios last week, Comics2Film was surprised to learn about a few more movies in the works based on Marvel characters.

Marvel is currently putting together a development effort for their berserk cyborg from the future: Deathlok. “We’re just sort of finishing a deal with a major studio,” Feige told C2F. “We’ve got two writers and they’re going to start, hopefully, very soon.”

Those writers are Stu Zicherman and Raven Metzner who recently penned a Jackie Chan vehicle called Nosebleed. No word on which Deathlok the movie would be based on: the original future-soldier Luther Manning or the pacifist engineer named Michael Collins. Or, could it be based on Joe Casey’s recent like-named but otherwise unrelated comic book series.

Marvel is apparently much further along on developing a movie based on Tales of the Zombie.”We have some writers,” Feige told us. “Hopefully we’ll get in shape for Halloween next year.”

Newcomers Chum Langhorn and Brent Askari are developing the screenplay for this one.

Finally Feige told us that Marvel hopes to begin casting and script development on Iron Fist soon.

HULK

Comics2Film talked to Kevin Feige at Marvel Studios about recent positive buzz surrounding the Hulk movie. “David Hayter did a kick-ass job on the script,” Feige told us. Feige went on to say, “We love the script. Universal wants to make it and we want to make it. We’re just trying to figure out when the best time to do that is.”

However, Feige did tell C2F that it’s not appropriate to say the movie has been greenlit at this point. “Movies are in pre-production for eight months and three weeks away from cameras starting to roll before they even get greenlit,” Feige explained. “That’s the way things really work. X-Men wasn’t greenlit until we were in Toronto.”

David Hayter was one of the writers who worked on X-Men and received the sole, official writing credit. We asked Feige is Hayter’s Hulk script is based on previous takes by Michael France (Goldeneye) and Michael Tolkin (Deep Impact). “He really reworked it from the ground up. He used those two as sort of a guide point.”

“It’s the best Hulk script there’s been,” Feige said. Or put another way: this Hulk is the strongest one there is!

THE TERROR

Todd McFarlane Entertainment is developing a TV show that may have been inspired by a comic book character. The show, still in the early stages of development, is simply called The Terror. Comics2Film spoke with Terry Fitzgerald of McFarlane about the development.

“The Terror is moving ahead at UPN,” Fitzgerald said. “It looks like Paramount TV has come on board as the studio for the series and we can’t be more happy with that.”

The show will be executive produced by Andrew Horne (Blade). Fitzgerald told us that Horne “is a long time friend of ours and someone we have wanted to work with for some time now.”

Plans are to shoot the show early next year. Fitzgerald told C2F that they are hoping for a Fall 2001 debut, but it’s too early to say for sure at this point.

We first heard about the show months ago and were told that the show might be based on The Black Terror comics. The Black Terror first appeared in comics in the early 1940’s. The concept was completely revamped in the late 1980’s by McFarlane Director of Publishing Beau Smith, Chuck Dixon and Dan Brereton. Smith and Dixon own the rights to their version of the character.

Smith told us that the concept for the TV show may have been born out of an inkling to do a take on The Black Terror. However the concept has changed completely and isn’t related to the comics at this point.

Smith and Dixon’s comic was published by the now defunct Eclipse Comics. Smith told C2F he had also work on a new series of Black Terror comics for McFarlane. However, those plans have been halted as well.

BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER

[Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker]

Last month, word spread quickly that Warner Bros. was delaying the release of the animated feature Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker in order to cut back on the violent content of the film. In spite of fan protests and pleas for two versions of the film, the edited version is the only one slated for release in less than a month.

James Harvey of the World’s Finest News Page wrote in to provide a detailed look at what has been cut from the movie. “The [edited version of the] movie is almost completely different than the uncut,” Harvey told us. We’re issuing a SPOILER WARNING to fans who may not want to read the details of key plot points of the movie. Harvey’s description does provide major story revelations.

One again: MAJOR SPOILER WARNING! If you don’t want the movie to be spoiled, skip to the next article. Just to be safe, we’re printing Harvey’s descriptions in white text. If you want to read it, you can swipe the text with your mouse to make it appear.

“[One of the Joker’s henchmen,] Bonk is not shot, but given a lethal dose of laughing gas, and he dies off screen. Because of this the whole ‘Take the trash outside, Dee Dee’ and ‘Are you with me?’ sequence is cut.

“The Joker is not shot, but slips in some water and is electrocuted off screen. Plus, they don’t mention they buried him deep under Arkham or any of that. The dialogue is completely changed in that sequence.

“Barbara says that Leslie Thompkins helped Tim Drake ‘regain himself’ instead of ‘regain his sanity.’ (or something along those lines)

“Joker no longer slices Batman across the chest or in the leg, and any blood is digitally removed. Joker just punches Batman.

“More than half of the ‘Our Family Memories’ [scene] is cut out, only showing Robin tied up and struggling, and cutting the scene where Joker opens the barbeque lids, picks up the voltage tongs, and shocks the Boy.

“A lot of dialogue is changed as well. And reference to the word ‘kill’ is changed.

“The opening fight sequence is trimmed, cutting out a second Dee-Dee kick and completely redoing that entire Batman/Dee Dee sequence.

“The club fight is changed. The pink clown no longer punches Terry and says ‘I don’t know why the boss wants a dreg like you outta the way, but as long as it’s fun.’ He just goes for his gun and says ‘Slag him!’

“Bruce says ‘Robin defeated him.’ instead of ‘Robin did kill him.’

“Joker says ‘Bat-Kook’ instead of ‘Bat-Fart’.

“Jordan Price says ‘Ice’ instead of ‘kill’.

“Tim Drake says ‘I can still hear his scream’ instead of ‘I can still hear the shot’.

“Joker says ‘…with such yutzes’ instead of ‘…with such putzes’.”

JETCAT

The Hollywood Comics website reports that Jetcat is poised to make a comeback next year. The Jetcat animated shorts are scheduled to start airing again next May on Nickelodeon. According to the information at had, Jetcat will once again be part of the Ka-blam! animated anthology.

If you can’t wait that long, you can look for the first issue of Jetcat Clubhouse in April of 2001. Oni Press is set to begin publication on the book April 27th. The comic will have eight pages of full color, and will feature comics, models and stories connected to the animated Jetcat shorts!

HELLBLAZER

[Hellblazer]

Corona Coming Attractions reports that Constantine, the movie version of DC/Vertigo’s Hellblazer is in active development. The scoop comes from none other than producer Lauren Shuler-Donner (X-Men) herself.

“Yes, Constantine/Hellblazer is in active development and should be in production this year,” Shuler-Donner told CA. “[Warner Bros.] is the studio. I am producer. No director is set yet. Frank Cappello is the current writer.”

According to the report, Cappello directed American Yakuza and wrote Suburban Commando.

Reports from long ago indicated that music video director Paul Hunter (Marilyn Manson’s The Dope Show) might direct, but apparently that is no longer the case.

BATMAN: YEAR ONE

The following information about Batman: Year One may be a little bit dated, but it does provide some insights about director Darren Aronofsky’s commitment to that movie. In an October interview with Salon.com, Aronofsky talked about his dueling projects stating, “it’s not like I’m definitely doing Batman, which everyone seems to think.”

To clarify that Aronofsky said, “Well, I’m going to write it and we’ll see what happens. We’ll see if they let me make the script that I’m interested in.” Aronofsky confirmed for Salon that he’ll be writing in partnership with Frank Miller.

On why he is drawn to Batman, the director told Salon, “I just think it’s a great story that’s been told two different ways in the last 10 years, both interesting, but not the way I would tell it. I think it’s an amazing story that touches very deep in the American consciousness.

“There’s something about vengeance and justice that are really deep issues for Americans. And vigilantism,” Aronofsky continued. “But to tell you the truth, I haven’t even started on it. We’ve been talking about doing this for a long time. It seems like it’s finally happening, but it’s a long road.”

Finally, the writer director names Batman Returns as his favorite of the current series of bat-films.

Thanks to Speed Demonic for the scoop!

SPIDER-MAN

Last Week’s Movie Scoop column on E! Online indicates that all may not be well with the development effort on the Spider-Man movie.

A “Sony spy” reportedly told columnist Anderson Jones that execs are unhappy with the current draft of the script. The spy also claims that the studio will spend the next two months reworking the script and going back to James Cameron’s scriptment for reference. The spy is quoted as saying “Raimi has no clue” how to handle the superhero. The studio hopes that Scott Rosenberg (Con Air) will whip the screenplay into shape.

The report does describe Peter Parker as a “weird, hip kid” who feels conflicted about his super-powers and questions being thrust into the role of a hero. Sounds like Spider-Man to us.

Tobey Maguire, who plays Parker in the movie, insists that Raimi is not in trouble. “Sam’s the perfect guy for this thing,” Maguire told Jones. “He’s going to make a very interesting movie.”

Maguire remains enthusiastic about donning the webs. “It’s been a blast already, and I haven’t even started,” he told Jones. “There are so many things I’m going to be doing that are fun, like a lot of wire work and wearing harnesses and stuff.”

The same week, Raimi recently chatted with Mothership about his upcoming movie The Gift. At one point Raimi commented on how casting that movie compares and contrasts with casting Spidey.

“I think we’re approaching it in the same way — who is the best actor for the job but also something else has entered into it on Spider-Man — audiences have great expectations that we all have an obligation to meet on this film and that’s brand new for me,” Raimi told Mothership. “They already have in their minds who Peter Parker is and who Aunt May is and you can get it wrong. So not only have I got to meet their expectation, I have to go beyond that and say I’ve got to choose who is also the soul of the character.”

Raimi said that he favors finding an actor who captures the soul of the character, regardless of whether or not they look like the character as originally depicted in the comics. At this point it is well known that Raimi feels Tobey Maguire embodies the spirit of the title character.

“Watching Cate Blanchett’s performance [in The Gift] for so long it was really about having a great actor in there and I think that’s why I went for Tobey Maguire harder than I should have — fortunately the studio got behind me,” Raimi said. “I knew I needed somebody that could give me that same experience. Peter Parker, who I loved — I wanted to make sure the actor was someone I could talk to in an intimate way and make sure he understood him like I did and asked the right questions.”

Raimi continued, “I never wanted to watch Peter Parker say something to Aunt May that wasn’t really Peter Parker and be afraid to approach the actor. I didn’t want any of that lack of communications nonsense. I wanted someone who would work hard at making him real. Batman and Superman are great movies, but they’re more fantastic world movies with these super heroes in them and funny outrageous costumes. This movie is more like making it real world with a real Peter Parker — and then something fantastic happens to him.”

For more information about Sam Raimi, The Gift and Spider-Man, see the complete interview at Mothership

In other Spidey news, TV Guide reports that the search for a Mary Jane in the Spider-Man movie is attracting “Hollywood’s hottest ingénues.” Along with the long-rumored Alicia Witt, other actresses said to be up for the part are model/actress James King (Pearl Harbor) and Mena Suvari (American Pie, American Beauty).

BLADE 2: BLOODHUNT

Blade 2 will be headed to Prague for pre-production right after the Thanksgiving holiday according to yesterday’s Variety. The movie’s pre-production will take place at the L.A. and Prague-based production house called Milk & Honey. An 85 day shoot on the film will begin at the end of February.

At $55 million, Blade 2: Bloodhunt marks one of the largest budgeted movies to be filmed in the growing Prague film industry. It is Milk & Honey’s first international feature to film in the Prague studios.

SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED

Spider-Man Unlimited is set to return to Fox Kids this Saturday at 11am according to the latest Zentertainment e-mailer. The animated program finds our hero in the dumps after failing to save John Jameson’s space mission to Counter-Earth from Venom and Carnage. Spidey aims to set things right by creating a suped-up new costume and heading to the doppelganger planet himself. Stranded there, the new high-tech wall-crawler encounters strange variations on his earth-bound friends and foes, and becomes involved in an uprising against that world’s ruler, the High Evolutionary.

GEN13

[Gen13 DVD]

A few weeks ago, Comics2Film told you that the Gen13 animated feature had gone on sale as a video in the United Kingdom. Now, Australian reader Travis Burch tells us that the video is also on video store shelves in his country.

Steve Gerding of the 4 Color Review website confirmed this information for us. Gerding heard the news from an associate of the movie’s director, Kevin Altieri.

French reader Ian Clausse-Ribot writes in to tell us that comic and movie fans in France can also find the Gen13 animated movies in video stores. According to Ian, the movie hit the shelves a few days ago, and can be found in the manga section.

X-MEN

[X-Men]

Bryan Singer hopes to bring the production of X-Men 2 back to Toronto, according to a recent article in the Toronto Sun (via Jam! Showbiz). Although Singer has not yet signed on for the sequel he told reporters on Tuesday that we was definitely willing to do the movie. “I really feel that we started something and I want to continue,” Singer said during a promo junket for the X-Men DVD and video release.

Singer looks forward to reassembling the cast from the first movie. “There were a lot of difficulties (in filming the original here last winter), but we really came out of it feeling like a family.”

The junket was held at the Casa Loma location, which served as Xavier’s school in the movie. The director said he hoped to return to Casa Loma for the sequel. “We may need it. But I don’t know if Casa Loma will let us back in.” Singer looks forward to a less intense shooting schedule on X-Men 2.

The director also talked up the DVD. He stated that the quality in picture and sound on X-Men is of the highest quality. The dedication to that quality is what may have caused the trimming of extra features. Singer made no mention of an alternate edition in anyone’s future.

On Monday it was reported that X-Men continued to be a box office smash for 20th Century Fox. This time the mutants dominated the home video marketplace. According to Variety the home-video release of X-Men took in more income than even most holiday-weekend theatrical releases. The DVD and VHS versions of X-Men raked in over $50 million in sales and rentals, compared to the $47 million take of also comic-themed Unbreakable, which debuted in theaters in the #2 spot. X-Men hit the big-screens just four months ago, earning $57 million there in its first weekend.

“This incredible consumer response proves that X-Men was not only an event at the box office, but that it is also an event at retail cash registers,” Fox spokesman Steve Feldstein is quoted as saying. Fox estimates that 1 million copies of the DVD and 1.12 million copies of the VHS tape will have been sold by the end of the holiday weekend.

Also opening strong in the video market is Gladiator from DreamWorks. Sales on the DVD version of that film will likely outstrip the merry mutants. However, the VHS version of Gladiator carries a hefty, priced-to-rent sticker price, which translates to dramatically lower sales.

Follow up reports indicated that Gladiator’s take came in at $60 million, topping the mutants in spite of the hefty VHS price.

THE CROW

CrowFans.com will be hosting a chat with Bridget Baiss on Wednesday, December 6 at 9PM EST/6 PM PST. Bridget Baiss is the author of the book The Crow: The Story Behind The Film. Fans will be able to submit their questions about her experiences on writing her book, share their opinions on her book, and ask her questions about The Crow. After the moderated chat with Bridget Baiss, fans will be able to chat with each other freely.

The Crow: The Story Behind The Film published by Oliver Books, is currently available on hardback at most book stores, online book stores, and specialty stores for a suggested retail price of $25.00. Services for this chat are being provided by Infinity-IRC Networks.

Bridget Baiss is a journalist living in Los Angeles, where she started her journalism career with Life Magazine. She is also a producer and writer of television features, covering subjects from the Environment to the Internet, to Medicine. Her work has been seen in international magazines, in documentaries, and on the Net with corporations such as America Online, Hollywood.Com and Paramount. She is currently working on a book examining the phenomenon of the Internet and its new class of super-rich entrepreneurs.

DAREDEVIL

Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum reports that Kingpin, Elektra and Bullseye are all included in Mark Steven Johnson’s screenplay for Daredevil.

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