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THE 7TH PORTAL

[7th Portal]

Michael Tabb has been hired to write the screenplay for the live-action version Stan Lee’s 7th Portal. Nathan Kahane at The Canton Company talked to Comics2Film about the project. “[Tabb] met with Stan Lee,” Kahane said. “Stan loved him. They’ve developed a take together and he’s off and writing.” Kahane told us that Tabb recently scripted a movie called Casanova which will be directed by Mike Newell (Donnie Brasco) and will star Dustin Hoffman.

7th Portal can be viewed as serialized, Flash animated episodes on the Stan Lee Media website. The strip tells the story of a handful of international computer gamers who meet on the internet for online fun. One night, they receive some mysterious beta software which transforms them into superheroes.

The movie will build on the storyline from the online strip. “What we’re basically going to do is take the basics of the origin story and rebuild,” Kahane told C2F. “We’re going to see the story from the eyes of the American guy [who becomes the super-vocal Thunderer] and then they’re going to have to deal with saving the earth. It’s going to be big and expensive and fun.”

BOOKS OF MAGIC

[Books of Magic]

Although things have been quiet on the movie version of Neil Gaiman’s Books of Magic, Comics2Film recently got an update on the project, which indicates things may be moving forward. Things were looking iffy for the concept, largely due to Warner’s interest in a big screen version of Harry Potter which has some similarities to Gaiman’s comic.

However, Nathan Kahane at The Canton Company told us things are looking up for Books of Magic. “Matt Greenberg did a draft that the studio loved,” Kahane told us. “We’re now getting ready to go out to directors, so that project’s very much alive and it’s healthy now.”

Greenberg also wrote Halloween: H20 and the recent TV movie The Invisible Man and the theatrical sequel among others. Gaiman serves as executive producer on the movie.

Other comic based projects at the Canton Company haven’t been doing so well. Kahane told us that plans for big-screen versions of House of Secrets and The Human Target have pretty much run aground.

ASTROTHRILL

Animator, musician and renaissance man Craig Clark checked in with Comics2Film to let us know about his latest project. Clark is producing a short film based on his comic book/CD Astrothrill. The comic, published by Cheeky Press, tells the story of Zeon, a half human, half alien from the asteroid Nor, who’s stranded in Hollywood. Zeon juggles his time between his rock band, Astrothrill, and his yen for extreme sports, all the while avoiding evil aliens and government agents.

Now that the character has appeared in comics and in music, it’s time to make the leap to 3D animation. Clark told C2F that the Astrothrill 3D short will feature the voice talents of William Barker (Family Matters) and Rene Estevez (The West Wing). Barker plays Zeon. In addition to the 3D version of the 12 minute movie, there will also be a Flash version.

Clark also tells us that music from the Astrothrill comic book/CD is featured as background music on MTV’s Live Through This. The bands 29 Died and Purr Machine can be heard on the show.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN

[Conan]

Warner Bros is eyeing Conan The Barbarian as a potential new film franchise according to The Hollywood Reporter. Warner reportedly paid Stan Lee Media $2.5 million for a one-picture license on the movie. The studio has the option to purchase sequel rights as well.

Warner plans to place the franchise in the hands of writer/director John Milius who wrote and directed the original the 1982 version starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Larry and Andy Wachowski, the minds behind The Matrix, will serve as creative partners.

The article states that Schwarzenegger is expected to be featured in the new Conan movie, but is unlikely to play the title role. In spite of this, the movie is being discussed as a continuation of the previous series, and not a remake or restart.

Jon Jashni (The Hurricane), Irving Azoff (The Hurricane) and Richard Alexander (Strong Medicine) will produce alongside the Wachowskis. Stan Lee will serve as executive producer and creative consultant.

Overseeing the project for Warner are Lorenzo di Bonaventura, (president of worldwide production), Jeff Robinov (senior vp production) and Aditya Sood (creative executive).

Thanks to Michael Rhode of the Comics Research Bibliography.

SPIDER-MAN

The announcement that actor John Malkovich is in final negotiations to appear in the sequel to The Talented Mr. Ripley led to speculation that this would make it impossible for him to appear as the Green Goblin in Spider-Man. Indeed Empire Online has gotten confirmation straight from the actor on the subject. “I won’t be doing Spider-Man,” Malkovich told Empire. “It’s not really my genre particularly, and there were scheduling difficulties and what they offered wasn’t in any way an inducement for me to do it.”

At the time of the interview, Malkovich called Ripley’s Game, the above-mentioned sequel, “a possibility” suggesting there were more difficulties than just scheduling. “It was everything,” Malkovich is quoted as saying, “way too much time, not enough money, not enough of anything. I mean, if I’d have loved it obviously I would have done it, but those sort of films aren’t art films, they’re business propositions.”

Thanks to CHUD for the lead!

DOC SAVAGE

[Doc Savage]

The Sci-Fi Wire at SciFi.com checked in with Arnold Schwarzenegger about various projects he’s involved with. According to the actor, work on Doc Savage seems to be proceeding smoothly.

“Doc Savage is a movie that is written,” Schwarzenegger told Sci-Fi. “It’s all done. It’s just a matter of me having time to film the movie. Because these are all huge projects, and you can only do … them one at a time. But it will be done, … I would say, probably next year.”

RICHIE RICH

[Richie Rich]

The folks who brought us the popular Sabrina, The Teenage Witch televison show have now set their sights on Harvey Entertainment’s Richie Rich according to The Hollywood Reporter. The WB Network is developing a live-action TV show based on the character which will be produced by Hartbreak Films.

The twist on this show is that Richie will now be a teenage college student. The ridiculously wealthy Richie will struggle to fit into normal society.

Paula Hart is executive producing. Jon Vendergriff is also executive producing and writing the script.

BATMAN: YEAR ONE

The Sci-Fi Wire at SciFi.com presents the latest interview with Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream). As with many of his recent online interviews, Aronofsky is low-key about his involvement with Batman: Year One, insisting that he has several projects in the air.

“Nothing’s green-lit,” Aronofsky told Sci-Fi. “We’ve been talking to Warner Brothers for a long time. It looks like me and Frank Miller are going to write a [script] draft, and then we’ll see what happens.”

The director also commented on his untitled science fiction movie, and Proteus, a sea-monster movie that he took on directly after Pi. The director did not comment on his other Frank Miller comic project, Ronin.

THE FACTOR

Nat Gertler’s acclaimed comic The Factor is set to be shopped around Hollywood as a potential TV property. In an interview with Mark Parsons at the BigTime Hollywood website, Gertler reveals that his manager Kim Tambascia is currently prepping for meetings on the subject.

The Factor is described as a superhero comic that forgot the superhero. It’s an anthology that tells the stories of ordinary people and how their lives are effected by the presence of a superhero in their world.

Gertler told Parsons that he’s not too worried about what Hollywood might do to his concept. “In one sense, they can’t mess up my story as it’s already been told,” Gertler said. “You just have to let these things go and hope good creators take an interest and move things to the next level.”

Thanks to Dark Horizons for the lead.

THE CROW: LAZARUS

In their Hollywood Exclusive column, Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith provide a Crow: Lazarus update. The columnists spoke to a representative at Pressman Films about the status of the project, in the wake of The Crow: Salvation going straight to video.

The columnists report that Lazarus has no cast beyond the headliner DMX. No start date has been set for production. In spite of this, Pressman Films insist Lazarus is “still a go.” The movie is said to be part of a multi-picture deal between Pressman and DMX, specifically centered on the Crow franchise.

In related news, various online vendors have started taking preorders for the video release of The Crow Salvation. The DVD version of the movie is said to include audio commentary, a featurette, behind-the-scenes footage and additional extras. Although the online stores can’t seem to agree on the release date, most have January 30, 2001.

RUPERT THE BEAR

According to a recent report on the Reuters news service Rupert the Bear is about to “clinch a film deal.” Although no details about the movie deal are given the article provides plenty of background on the character.

According to the write-up Rupert is the longest-running children’s comic character. Created by Mary Tourtel, Rupert’s first adventure appeared in Britain’s Daily Express on November 8, 1920. This week marks the strips 80th anniversary. The strip has seen many creative changes over the decades and is now written by Ian Robinson and illustrated by John Harrold.

STATIC SHOCK!

The first episode of Static Shock that was written by co-creator Dwayne McDuffie did not air last Saturday as previously announced. That day’s episode, in the new 11am timeslot, will be a rerun of “The Breed – Your Favorite Static Shock!” McDuffie’s “They’re Playing My Song” will instead run on November 11th, the first week of sweeps.

BLADE 2

David Goyer told Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum that pre-production on Blade: Bloodhunt is underway.

“We began pre-production on Blade II last Monday,” Goyer told Allstetter. “Right now, Guillermo has been working with Mike Mignola and Tim Bradstreet and a number of other conceptual artists. Looks like Steve Johnson will be doing the creature effects. Casting begins next week, etc.”

GATECRASHER

Jimmy Palmiotti told Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum that work on the Gatecrasher animated series is progressing rapidly. Series co-creator Amanda Conner recently completed a trip where she performed art direction and set design on the show. Palmiotti also reported that they are close to signing a deal with a network, most likely Fox Kids.

The show is based on the comic created by Palmiotti, Conner and Mark Waid for Black Bull Comics. The show will be produced by Mainframe Entertainment, the animators behind computer-animated shows like Beast Machines,  Action Man and the recently released Casper’s Haunted Christmas. Palmiotti told The Continuum that Gatecrasher won’t look like other computer generated fare. “It’s a 2D animation with 3D shading on the characters and a 3D backdrop,” Palmiotti said. “It looks totally like nothing out there.”

Palmiotti also reports that Greg Johnson’s first script is very loyal to the comic.

X-MEN DVD

[X-Men DVD]

The CHUD website presents a story that will likely aggravate DVD aficionados. According to a report from that website, the X-Men DVD that’s set to hit the shelves in the next few weeks will be followed by a better disc to be released in the unspecified future. The report claims that the the more basic edition is being rushed to market, while an enhanced edition is developed in secret.

Although the source of the information is not given, the report claims that Fox has plenty of behind-the-scenes footage that won’t be appearing on the disc released November 21. Likewise, the November disc does not contain a commentary track (a staple of “special edition” DVDs).

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