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BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER

[Batman Beyond DVD]

Sources in Hollywood have told Comics2Film that the rumors regarding the delay of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker are true. The release of the DVD was bumped back almost two months so that the movie could be retooled and the violent content reduced.

Warner Bros. is apparently reacting to the recent saber-rattling on the part of the U.S. government about violent content in entertainment. A Federal Trade Commission report, ordered by the Clinton-Gore administration, found that the entertainment industry routinely targets children under 17 for the sale of movies and other forms of entertainmentostensibly designed for adults.

According to a recent write-up in The Hollywood Reporter, the FTC report has led to election-year politicians seizing on violence-in-the-industry as a hot-button issue. “We have to help parents by dealing with the kind of inappropriate entertainment that families are just heartsickthat their children are being exposed to,” Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore said in a recent debate.

Likewise, Republican hopeful George W. Bush claimed he had “been standing up to big Hollywood.”

Yesterday it was reported that vice presidentialnominee Sen. Joseph Lieberman is considering drafting a letter that would admonish Hollywood to “take steps to solve the problem.”

While Warner Bros. has claimed that the delay of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is to reposition it as a holiday release and to add new features, several corroborating reports indicate otherwise. In addition to the word from our own sources Corona Coming Attractions ran similar reports on Monday of this week. Furthermore, Ain’t It Cool News received a barrage of reports indicating that violence was the issue and not holiday features.

Predictably, efforts to combat the censorship of this particular movie have sprung up quickly. Ain’t It Cool has posted a page encouraging fans to express their dissatisfaction with Warner Bros’ decision and demand a choice between the family friendly version and the uncensored release.

The World’s Finest website is posting a similar petition page. This site features a petition fans can sign, as well as contact information for letting WB know how you feel.

Word of Warner Bros. action spread quickly. By this week a third protest site has also emerged. Fans can sign the Save the Joker as a way of voicing your disapproval for the decision to recut the film.

Thanks to Dark Horizons and Corona Coming Attractions.

SPIDER-MAN

Earlier this year James Franco read for the lead roll in the Spider-Man movie. Of course, we all know that that part went to Tobey Maguire. According to The Hollywood Reporter Franco is now in talks for a different part in the film. The actor is now eyeing the part of Harry Osborn, Spidey’s best bud who also happens to be the Green Goblin’s son. The article states that the actor is in negotiations with Sony for the part.

Franco also recently signed to star with Robert De Niro in City by the Sea.

In related Spidey news, Anderson Jones of E! Online recently spoke to Spider-Man director Sam Raimi.

Raimi told Jones that he was “thinking hard” about casting Alicia Witt (Urban Legend) as Mary Jane in the movie. Last everyone had heard Kate Hudson was up for the part. This latest report could be an indication that, for whatever reasons, Hudson has passed on the movie and Witt is now the front runner.

Jones also reports that Raimi commented on the potential casting of John Malkovich as The Green Goblin. The article states that “Malkovich is set to take on the…role,” which has led many websites to report that the actor is a lock for the part. However, the article also states that Raimi is worried about losing Malkovich to scheduling concerns. This says to us that Malkovich has not signed, but is still in talks.

Thanks to Dark Horizons for the lead on the E! story.

Meanwhile, Cinescape has been dishing out excerpts from their interview with Raimi. At one point Raimi talks about how he won the directing job. “I went in and pitched them on what I always loved so much about this great character and how much I loved the comic books and how I saw it taking the next step into becoming a motion picture. I think what I really pitched was just my love for what Stan Lee created.”

WONDER WOMAN

[Mariah Carey]

Rumors began circulating yesterday that singing star Mariah Carey was set to launch her acting career and had been offered the lead role in the upcoming Wonder Woman movie. Fans who were upset by this horrendous miscasting can breath a little easier.

Comics2Film has thrown the lasso of truth around a source close to the project and learned that the rumors are most likely false. Our source-in-the-know claims that he’s heard nothing of the kind from his end of the project. However, he did caution us that there are many hands on this project and it’s possible that talks with Carey have happened with other involved parties.

The story apparently originated in the UK’s Daily Star.

BLADE 2

Jonathan Ellis over at the PopImage website tipped us off to their recent interview with comic artist extraordinaire Timothy Bradstreet. Bradstreet, of course, is doing design work on the upcoming Blade sequel.

Bradstreet talked briefly about the plot of the movie and how it impacts his design work. “Blade does in fact have to team with the nightwalkers, but not without hesitation and several nasty plot twists. The new breed are a threat to all concerned. They have some very interesting design requirements that are sure to be good for some eye-popping sequences,” Bradstreet explained.

“The regular Vampires are going to be a challenge as well because there are a lot of characters being introduced to this film that require their own ‘look.’ I’m not sure (sounding like a politician) if I’m at liberty to discuss this point further than that at the present time.”

Bradstreet also talked about the location of the shoot: ” And yes, the plan is to shoot in Toronto again. I’ll be up there during filming to get some extra shots. We’re very seriously discussing me doing a Blade 2 movie adaptation for Marvel Comics. If that happens I’ll want to work pretty heavily alongside the still photographer since I’d be using his shots for the artwork.”

Subsequently Ellis posted a follow-up to the interview on the PopImage message boards. Apparently Bradstreet later told Ellis that the production may move to Prague, instead of Toronto, due to weather.

HELLBOY

[Hellboy]

Hellboy.com recently conducted an interview with director Guillermo del Toro about the troubled Hellboy feature film. Del Toro has long been attached as director of the movie. He’s currently in post-production on The Devil’s Backbone in Spain and is also working on his next project Blade 2. Hellboy, however, remains the movie that del Toro is the most passionate about.

Hellboy.com asked del Toro which supporting cast members he’d most like to include in the movie. “Lots of them! Abe, Bruttenholm, Liz, Rasputin, Ilsa, Kroenen, Manning and some new, original characters. And, of course, the monster in that Wayne Barlowe painting.”  The director later names Abe Sapien as his favorite supporting character.

LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN

[League of Extraordinary Gentlemen]

Patrick Sauriol of Corona Coming Attractions recently sat down and read the July draft of the screenplay for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Alan Moore’s comic is a favorite of Sauriol and was adapted by comic great James Robinson, also a favorite of Sauriol’s and ours as well.

Surprisingly Sauriol’s review indicates that, even in Robinson’s capable hands, the script is more like a typically weird Hollywood mutation of the comic, and less like the comic itself.

Primary complaints included:

  1. The action is transplanted from England to America (New York City)
  2. Mina’s role in the story is diminished to being almost insignificant
  3. Mina is effectively replaced by the team’s “American liason” Tom Sawyer.

    Check out the review for a complete description of the screenplay.

    KABUKI

    Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum reports that progress is being made on the animated feature film version of David Mack’s Kabuki.  The movie is set up at 20th Century Fox with producer Catherine Winder. Mack told Allstetter that he can’t say much about the movie except to say that things are moving. He also listed his credits on the film as writer, visual designer, creative consultant and co-producer.

    MONKEYBONE

    Well, Monkeybone certainly sounded good on paper: an adaptation of Kaja Blackley’s graphic novel that would be a combination of live-action and stop-motion animation starring talented comedic actors like Brendan Fraser. However, recent buzz on the movie from Corona Coming Attractions has not been good.

    A test screening yielded early reviews of the movie, which CA posted. These reviews were negative.

    Later a scooper wrote in to CA to discuss the delayed release of this movie. Apparently the movie will not be released this year as was previously targeted. The bigwigs at Fox will be tracking how Fraser’s upcoming release Bedazzled does before committing a date to Monkeybone. Likewise, the studio will not promote the movie with any other Fox 2000 releases.

    BATMAN BEYOND LIVE ACTION

    It probably doesn’t surprise anyone that recent rumors about Paul Newman playing the elder Batman in Batman Beyond have turned out to be false. Cinescape checked on the reports, which originated in the UK press, that Newman was in talks to play the aging Bruce Wayne in the live-action movie.

    Cinescape contacted Newman’s publicist who said of the rumors, “Not a chance. I don’t know how these stories get started.”

    HULK

    Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum spoke with X-Men scribe David Hayter about his work on the Hulk movie for Universal Pictures.

    “I’m taking the same mixture of taking it seriously and also having a good time at the movies that X-Men had and am bringing it to the Hulk,” Hayter told Allstetter.

    The writer also revealed that he is restarting the script rather than work from the script that was recently written by Michael France and Michael Tolkin. “I’m writing the whole thing up from the ground again,” Hayter is quoted as saying. “It’s going great. I’m really happy with it and everybody seems happy with it.”

    The writer added that he hopes to finish the screenplay as soon as possible.

    SPAWN 2

    [Spawn 2000]

    Spawn 2 will likely not be made with New Line Cinema according to Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum. Terry Fitzgerald of Todd McFarlane Productions told Allstetter that it “still looks like New Line is abandoning the sequel as of first week in November. Other parties are interested, so I doubt we will have a problem finding it a new home!”

    TIMECOP 2

    An anonymous scooper for Dark Horizons reports that there may be a sequel to the successful Dark Horse movie Timecop. Dark Horizons cautions that this should be considered a rumor. The scooper claims that Jean-Claude Van Damme is eager to reprise the role of the high-kicking chronal cop. Lawrence Gordon is said to be the producer.

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