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MAGE

[Mage]

Disney has given it’s blessing to move forward with the big screen version of Matt Wagner’s Mage. Spyglass Entertainment is producing. Comics2Film spoke with Wagner today and heard the exclusive news straight from the man himself.

Screenwriter Jon Rogers (Jesse James) made some tweaks to the screenplay last month which the studio approved. The script was sent to budgeting which came back at $70 million. According to Wagner, Disney approved that too. “Nobody has yet used the word green light, but they keep approving everything that comes through!”

The producers of the movie are ready to take the next step. “Spyglass claims they’re going to hire a director within the next week to 10 days. They have a list of who’s available.” Wagner talked about the short list of directors that the producers are eyeing. While no names could be named, he did seem excited about the top choices.

According to Wagner, the producers are hot to go into production quickly before the SAG strike. “They’re hoping to start filming in January in order to avoid that.” 

Wagner has frequently expressed his approval for Rogers’ screenplay. The script adapts Wagner’s The Hero Discovered story arc. “He’s really managed to maintain everything about the book.  He also puts so much of his own sense of humor and way of looking at things into it,” Wagner told us on a previous occasion.

BONE

[Bone]

Bone creator Jeff Smith spoke with Comics2Film about recent reports that plans for an animated feature film version of his comic book had run aground. Although reports from late August stated that Nickelodeon and Paramount had allowed the option to expire on the project, Smith told C2F the decision to put the brakes on was his. “It just wasn’t gelling,” Smith said of the project. “They wanted to keep going. They offered another development period and I walked away.”

Things had sounded more positive when we talked to Smith about the movie in San Diego late last July. Smith told us, “In San Diego I was hopeful that we’d actually go into [production]. Some of the things that I wasn’t crazy about, once we got into [production], we could work them out. Continuing into another development period with no change in real direction, I didn’t see much point in that.”

This development, however, does not spell the end of the Bone movie. “The option’s lapsed, but everybody still likes everybody,” Smith said of his relationship with Nickelodeon. “I still think there’s a good possibility we’re going to do it.

“I’m definitely not running away from it. In fact we’re still talking,” Smith revealed. After an appearance at the upcoming Small Press Expo (SPX) in Washington D.C., Smith and his Character Builders animation crew are flying out to L.A. on Nick’s ticket. “I think things are good. I’m not frustrated in any way. We’re just taking a breather. I just had to hit the reset button.”

OMEGA 7

[Omega Man]

Comics2Film recently spoke with Alonzo Washington, founder and primary creator for Omega 7 comics. Washington is a black, independent comic creator who has been publishing comics with positive black characters for 8 years. In the past 4 years Washington has also developed a successful line of action figures and spin-off products based on his creations.

Washington feels that his comics can communicate a positive message to young readers concerning tough issues that are of importance to them. “We’re able to deal with a lot of social issues,” Washington said of his comics. “We’ve had comic books that dealt with the million man march, the L.A. riots, O.J. Simpson (when we did the O.J. Simpson thing we got a lot of mainstream press).”

He goes on to say that his Omega Man comic “Is topical, it deals with school shootings and things like that. It gets the person who may not be the average comic book buyer to take a look at it.”

However, in spite of the success of his independent efforts, Washington feels that Hollywood has been less-than receptive to his work. “I haven’t seen Hollywood come to any of the independent black comic book publishers like they’ve come to concepts like The Crow. Any number of independent comic book companies got into movies,” Washington said, giving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as another example. “But when it comes to the black comic book publishers you hear the rumors and nothing ever begins to happen.”

“I think the major reason we didn’t get that type of deal is that we are independent where other companies are mainstream. We talked to HBO before they did Spawn. What I’m beginning to find is that, if you’re a white creator and have a black character, you can probably get a cartoon deal or a movie done. But when you’re a black independent and you have a black character, it’s like it’s a risk. It seems like a double standard.”

Washington also notes that when Hollywood does do black superheroes, it’s usually with corporate or white-owned character, as with Blade and Spawn or original, comedic characters like Damon Wayans’ Blankman or Robert Townsend’s Meteor Man.

While Washington has had conversations with various production companies in Hollywood, he often finds that they want to fall back on stereotypes. “I don’t really want to do any black stereotypical things,” Washington said. “I want to do a positive black superhero that is a superhero and not an infantile who doesn’t know how to use his powers. He’s not an ex-con or ex-thug. Those are the kinds of scripts [Hollywood seems to be looking for]. It’s going to be a hard thing to achieve but I think in time it’ll actually happen.

“I know countless black folks that have no criminal record. I know a lot of black people who are not funny. I’m probably one of them,” Washington said, laughing. Washington told us about his Shadow Knight concept, which he feels would be well-suited for the big screen. Indeed, the basis for the character is the Hollywood action hero. “Shadow Knight is written in the format of the different kind of action films I go to. The main character is one of these action hero type of guys like Die Hard or Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon,” Washington explains. “He feels like he’s pretty much as bad as he can be. He’s like Shaft.”

However, the character is out of touch with his heritage. “He has a uncle, his mentor, who has been trying to get him for years to get into his culture some more. They have this heirloom, this African cloak that’s been handed down for years.” Although the character is dismissive of his cultural roots, he eventually finds power in them. He’s confronted by a villainous super-powered character that he cannot defeat, a Senator and drug-lord known as The Dragon.

[Shadow Knight]

In his time of need, the uncle reveals the true nature of the African cloak, which gives Shadow Knight the extra edge he needs to dispatch the villain. “He wasn’t the ultimate hero he thought he was. He wasn’t in touch with himself and his culture and all that,” Washington said. “But when he gets this cloak he becomes all he really can be.” Washington also feels his Dark Wolf character would appeal to the Blade and Buffy crowd. The character is a mysterious operative on unknown origin. He has a wolf like appearance and is a weapons expert.

“Nobody knows what his true identity really is,” Washington said. “He fights any given number of ghouls, vampires, witches or anything evil, possessed people, child molesters.” The character is also hounded by a government agency who has ties to his past, all the while stalking his own choices of targets.

[Dark Wolf]

Omega Man may be Washington’s most popular creation. Washington described the concept as super-hero meets Star Trek mixed with some real-world reality.

“[Omega Man] comes from this future where there’s a  perfect society: no crime, no racism. He’s always fighting these aliens that can shape-shift and travel through time trying to distort history so the future can be different. They want the negativity that we experience now to exist in the future.”

The character’s adventures so far have touched on many topical issues. While Washington would like to see Omega Man on the big screen, he also thinks an animated version might work better. “Omega Man would probably be better as a cartoon. At this time I don’t think Hollywood could give me a budget where I would be satisfied with what Omega Man should look like. I wouldn’t want the traveling through time looking cheesy or the effects looking bad.”

When I’m at comic-cons people are always saying ‘When you get a cartoon or you get a movie, it’s going to be great.’ So, I wonder if that’s true. As a creator I’m always looking towards getting the opportunity to do that.”

POWERS

[Powers]

Mike Sangiacomo recently interviewed Brian Michael Bendis for Fandom’s Comics Newsarama. Bendis revealed that he and Michael Avon Oeming have signed a deal with Sony to make a movie version of their comic Powers. Mace Neufeld (The Hunt for Red October) is the producer and the movie is targeted for next summer.

Thanks to Drew Reiber for the tip.

Monday’s edition The Hollywood Reporter shed further light on the deal to bring Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming’s Powers to the big screen. Columbia Pictures has paid “low- against high-six figures” to option the rights from the pair.

No screenwriter has been hired. Bendis, an accomplished screenwriter, reported on his Jinxworld website that he would not be writing the screenplay for the film. The comic creator will receive a co-producer or associate producer credit on the movie.

SPIDER-MAN

[Spider-Man]

Variety reports that John Malkovich is in negotiations to play the Green Goblin in the upcoming Spider-Man movie.

Thanks to Michael Rhode – of the Comic Research Bibliography and Richard Tocci for the scoop.

In the rumor department, 4Filmmakers has added another name to their cast listing for the Spider-Man movie. Kate Hudson (200 Cigarettes, Dr. T and the Women) is now listed as a cast member for the movie. Presumably the 21-year-old Hudson would play Peter Parker’s some-day bride Mary Jane. No official announcement or confirmation has been made regarding this casting.

Thanks to Spider-Man Hype for the lead.

Meanwhile Corona Coming Attractions has uncovered new information in regards to a rumored villain cameo in the movie. They had recently reported that unnamed sources say Eddie Brock (who later becomes Venom) may appear as a bit character in the film. Subsequently another scooper raised the issue that Venom had, at one time, been slated to have his own feature at New Line, which would make an appearance in this movie impossible.

CA talked to New Line big-wig Michael DeLuca. DeLuca said that Venom is no longer at New Line. CA also tried to determine which studio, if any, now held the rights to Venom. Calls placed to Marvel Enterprises, Marvel Studios, Sony and Avi Arad’s office yielded no answers.  But, this could mean that an Eddie Brock cameo appearance is possible after all.

SAM KIETH: FILMMAKER

Chris Caughey, proprietor of the the Dwellers of the Outback Maxx/Sam Kieth website wrote in to give us an update on Kieth’s recent movie dealings.

First up is a movie called Take it to the Limit. Kieth directed this rock-climbing movie for Roger Corman’s Concorde company. “There were lots of name and script changes (it was going to be a horror movie, then a kickboxing movie, and so on.)” Caughey tells us. “Sam ended up directing it, as opposed to writing and directing.”

Kieth had also written a screenplay called Megan which is based on characters from the Maxx comics. That script can now be read on the Dwellers Web site. Last we heard the movie was being held off and could possibly be reworked with a larger budget, but that was in early 1999. No word on the status of the movie since then.

Thanks to Chris for the update! Visit Dwellers of the Outback for all your Sam Kieth needs.

THE CROW: SALVATION

The Crow Fans Web Portal reports that Eric Mabius, star of the upcoming The Crow: Salvation will be making a theater appearance supporting the test screening of the movie. The information comes from the marketing director of the AMC River Park Square 20 Theater in Spokane Washington.

Mabius will be appearing at the AMC 20 for the film’s premier on Friday, September 15th from 6:00-8:00 PM.

In addition, Eric will be signing autographs on Saturday, September 16, from 7 -9 PM and will be doing a question and answer session after the 9:00 PM showing of The Crow: Salvation.

GENERATION X

Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum recently spoke to Steve Melching about the prospect of a new, live-action TV series based on Marvel’s Generation X concept. Melching told Allstetter, “as far as I know, it’s on indefinite hold.”

Melching sites competition from the upcoming X-Men: Evolution animated show as being a possible source of conflict. Melching told Allstetter that the two concepts were very similar.

BATMAN

Frequent Comics2Film contributor Joe Hendren reports that he saw a recent mention of the Brad Pitt as Batman rumor on the syndicated Access Hollywood TV show. AH contacted Pitt’s agent about the rumors, which started with a report from Entertainment Weekly last week.  However, the actor’s agent said that the movie is not on Pitt’s radar.

In other Batman news, Fabio2’s The Batcave reports that Warner Bros. may be moving away from Year One as a concept for Batman 5 and instead may be gravitating back to a traditional sequel. Batcave’s sources claim that the story of Bruce Wayne starting out as Batman may seem too similar to the story of Terry McGinnis starting out as the next generation Batman in the recently announced Batman Beyond movie. One idea is to have the Batman 5 movie some how set up the Beyond concept. This is an unconfirmed report of insider talk, so no direction is set in stone yet.

A later report from The Batcave alleges that screenwriters  James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox may have been instructed to start thinking about a non-Year-One sequel. One story idea would use the Scarecrow and the Ventriloquist as villains. As with the previous report, it is emphasized that this is unconfirmed talk, and a Year One movie may still be a possibility.

X-MEN DVD

[X]

IGN DVD reports that the DVD release of X-Men is set for November 28 at a price of $26.98. They cite The Digital Bits as the source of the information, and caution that this is unconfirmed.

Among the features said to appear on the disk are:

  • an “extensive” deleted scenes section
  • a gallery of production art (including some 150 images)
  • the theatrical trailer
  • interview footage with director Bryan Singer
  • TV spots
  • behind-the-scenes featurette
  • anamorphic transfer
  • dual DTS and Dolby 5.1 soundtracks
  • Easter eggs

NEXT MEN

Corona Coming Attractions reports that a movie version of John Byrne’s Next Men is in the works. According to their report. The concept is close being ready to be shopped around by Vanguard Films and screenwriter Matt Johnson. The pitch is said to be very faithful to the original work. The project should start making the rounds in a month.

According to the write-up Johnson is best known for writing a script called Backcountry which may be developed as an Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle. Byrne is said to be involved with the project.

BLADE 2

Dark Horizons recently ran some comments from director Guillermo del Toro regarding the upcoming Blade sequel. The comments originally ran in a Spanish newspaper called El Pais.

“I’m scared about doing another vampire film. I’m doing lots of changes in the script,” del Toro told the paper. “In terms of story, Blade 2 will be 60% similar to the first part but we are changing the visual aspects. We are going down to dark catacombs, we are entering my territory to explore vampire’s biology.”

Del Toro also talked about producer/star Wesley Snipes. “We are still working on a final version of the script but, at this moment, my relation with Wesley Snipes is very good. He likes the director to have a clear vision of what he wants to do with his script”.

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