Two weeks ago it was announced that producer Mimi Polk Gitlin had entered into a new development deal with Billy Tucci for a feature film version of his comic character Shi. The movie is to be written by Tucci and his long-time collaborator Kevin Bernhardt.
Comics2Film talked with Bernhardt about the new deal and his plans for the movie.
Bernhardt has been the driving force behind the Shi movie in the past, initially setting it up at Franchise pictures as a vehicle for Tia Carrera. However, after that deal came apart the screenwriter/producer approached Gitlin. "[She's a] very prestigious producer with a great track record, who I've been in business with on other projects," Bernhardt said. "I brought her this and she fell in love with it."
Bernhardt tells us that there were other interested parties, but Gitlin fought for the project and won. He credits the strength of Tucci's comic with generating enthusiasm in Hollywood.
"[You have an] action samurai in the form of a woman, which I think is interesting, but beyond that the book is so intelligently written and drawn," Bernhardt said. "The way that the 'Senryaku' and the 'Book of Five Rings' are built into his strategy: it's not just action for action's sake, there's a method to the Tucci madness.
"He really paints a picture that's really just laden with interesting cultural and Japanese backdrops. It's just head and shoulders above any comics I'd read at that time."
Although Bernhardt acknowledges that the recent surge of interest in comic book movies will likely help the Shi project, he also hopes that the concept's differences are apparent.
"We're going to strive to be a little bit less black and white than those were. It'll certainly have all the action that those have, but we're trying to root this a little more in reality being that she's not super-human. She's just a very special human," Bernhardt said.
"It's rooted in the age-old revenge story but we want to take it further than that and to a sensibility that's a little more current. A large part of what makes it attractive is the juxtaposition of East against West. A lot of the Eastern culture, set within Manhattan provides a very interesting backdrop."
The screenwriter also feels the characters have a depth and ambiguity that will translate to the big screen. He calls the antagonist Arashi "a very grey character...someone who in the past was more a ninja than samurai. He's now come full circle with his own life and spirituality and is someone who is a lot more of a grey area for [Shi] to contend with."
Bernhardt and Tucci are set to begin writing the script immediately, with a target delivery of the first draft happening late this year. Bernhardt is also working on a spy film with Gitlin called The Swallow, a movie for animator Will Vinton (The PJs) called Pigeon and a project called Ungodly for Paramount Pictures.
G-MEN FROM HELL
The movie stars William Forsythe and Tate Donovan as Allred's redemption seeking characters who first appeared in the Grafik Muzik comics. The film features a great comedic cast which includes Gary Busey, Kari Wuhrer, Robert Goulet, Bobcat Goldthwait, Vanessa Angel, Gregory Sporleder and Paul Rodriguez. Christopher Coppola directed from a script by Robert Cooper and producer Rick Albert.
Hellboy is getting a face-lift, and Guillermo Del Toro's the operating surgeon. How do we know? Del Toro, who's directing the upcoming Hellboy film, told SCI FI Wire in an interview. That's how we know.
"We're on the fifth week of designing the film," Del Toro said. "I'm going to go into a meeting with the special-effects guys and work on the clay maquettes [three-dimensional concept sculptures]. That's the stage we're at. We're locking up the monsters."
Del Toro also said that the look of the film would be influenced, but not dictated, by the Hellboy comic book. "We're using it as a bible, as a reference for the colors and the textures of the movie, but not as a storyboard."
Fans attending Comic-Con International in San Diego this weekend will get a chance to snap up a copy of the new teaser poster for the movie: an image of Ron Perlman as Hellboy rendered by Mike Mignola himself. If you're not going you can at least view a large image of the poster at Hellboy.com.
The official website also posts this notice for convention-goers: On Thursday (August 1st) at San Diego Comic-Con, Dark Horse will be distributing a free, limited-edition Hellboy Movie Teaser Poster at booth #2115. The rolled poster is limited to 2004 copies-- referring to the release date of the film. Find the two Dark Horse employees wearing Hellboy t-shirts-- Rich Powers and Adam Gallardo. These are the only people you can get a teaser poster from, and it is absolutely limited to one poster per person.
SOME TROUBLE OF A SERRIOUS NATURE
Some Trouble of A SeRRious Nature, the directorial debut of comics creator and publisher Billy Tucci, has been awarded BEST SHORT FILM (Video category) at the 2002 Long Island International Film Expo.
The film is a comedy based on the legendary 1947 hoax letter written to Chance Vought Aviation detailing the end of World War 2, one unfortunate Vought F4U Corsair fighter plane and the hillbillies who were determined to fly it. Thousands of copies of the letter have been distributed throughout aviation circles in the years since, but Some Trouble of A SeRRious Nature represents its first incarnation as a motion picture. The film utilized a 1945 F4U-4 Corsair, a full-scale static model and CGI effects by John Vilardi.
Some Trouble was originally filmed in 16mm, but due to deadline constraints, Tucci decided to submit the movie on Beta SP.
"I was a little weary when we were placed in the video category." Tucci stated. "Due to the immense popularity and versatility of High Definition (HD) and Beta SP, we were now in competition with 37 other shorts, by far the most competitive category of the festival. But as we screened the film, my confidence began to soar as the audience laughed hysterically from start to finish!"
L.I. Film/TV President Robert Hansen added, "Some Trouble of a SeRRious Nature is a wonderful film. I¹m very proud of Billy's talent and ability to write, direct and produce his first movie. He rightly deserved to win the award for best short film."
Tucci along with Executive Producer Andrew Steffens will be honored on August 22nd at this year¹s Salute to Independent Filmmakers and Awards Gala held at the Vanderbilt in Plainview New York.
Some Trouble of a SeRRious Nature is Tucci's first film and will make its comic industry debut at Comic Con International in San Diego Saturday August 3rd 11:30am. in Conference Hall 13.
Cameras are rolling on X-Men 2 in Vancouver and photos and set reports are starting to roll in.
The first comes straight from 20th Century Fox who sent out the first issue of their "X-Men Insider" newsletter. The e-mailer contains a picture (left) and the following report from "John Smith":
"Greetings to all X-Fans! John Smith here. I am working behind the scenes on the production of X-Men 2. I'll be sending production updates and cool pics regularly (surely with no spoilers!) direct from the amazing sets of X-Men 2 in Vancouver, BC.
"We began shooting on Vancouver Island on June 17th, and here is a picture of director Bryan Singer directing Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine with a few claw pointers for later in the movie. This shot was taken the first day cameras began rolling.
"The X-Men are all back for this highly anticipated sequel which is sure to blow your minds with cool new characters and stunning action sequences. We are aiming to please the X-Men fans above all else."
If you want to receive images and reports directly visit the official X-Men movie site and register your e-mail address.
An even cooler set of behind the scenes photos comes from photographer and Victoria resident Scott Rose. On his ScottRose.com website, the photographer has posted a series of high-quality images of recent filming on the movie.
The images come from a location shoot at Hatley Castle on the Royal Roads University Grounds. According to Rose, the castle serves as interiors and exteriors for Professor X.
This particular sequence of the movie has military helicopters swarming around the castle. Rose has photographed the castle and the choppers from a variety of angles.
The most fun bit on the page is a short video clip of the helicopters in action.
Thanks to Scott Rose for posting this visual set report!
Alan Cumming's X-Men 2 training has given him a hard body like "Stretch Armstrong," according to the actor's comments on Late Night with Conan O'Brien last week. The Comics Continuum reports that Cumming appeared on the show promoting his play "Elle."
"Because I'm going to do this X-Men 2 film, I've been going to a trainer to get leaner and stronger," Cumming said of the comic book production. "I've got to do wires and things. I wish I had worn something more revealing to show my muscles."
Cumming plays Nightcrawler in the Marvel sequel.
In related new, MTV.com confirms both that Halle Berry's Storm character will have a larger role and that many mutants including Beast and Gambit will be featured during a montage scene in next summer's X-Men 2.
Speaking with a spokesperson at 20th Century Fox, MTV.com reveals a few details and well as contradictory statements regarding the Marvel film. The article confirms the appearances of Beast, Colossus, Iceman, Gambit, Jubilee, Kitty Pryde, and Siren but then goes on to explain character history that may or may not appear in the film. For example, the article describes Beast as "blue-furred" but previous reports have indicated that he may be appearing in his original human form. The article also suggests that Colossus will be romantically linked to Shadowcat.
The article falsely credits Katie Stuart with appearing as Shadowcat in the original X-Men. Shadowcat or Kitty Pryde was actually played by Sumela Kay.
Finally, Corona Coming Attractions claims to have uncovered the names of two young actresses who have joined the cast of X2.
According to CCA, Kea Wong will be playing Jubilee and Shauna Kain will be playing Siryn in the sequel to the highly successful film adaptation of the Marvel comic book X-Men. At this point, little is known about the two actresses aside from their filmography.
Wong has appeared on television in Millennium and Seven Days, while Kain has appeared in Harsh Realm and will be seen in the upcoming film Dreamcatcher.
We at Comics2Film will be looking into this further, so be sure to stop back for more information.
BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN
Misleading rumors broke on the net over the last week that the Batman Vs. Superman movie had found its leading men. According to Ain't It Cool Jude Law (Road To Perdition) would play the man of steel while Colin Farrell (Daredevil) would fill the cowl of the dark knight.
However, a source for Radiant Productions, producer/director Wolfgang Petersen's production company told Comics2Film that these rumors are not true and that nobody has been signed to the film. Casting is underway and these actors are certainly under consideration, but at this point, no casting has taken place.
A report from Corona Coming Attractions also indicates that no actor has been signed for the leads in this movie. Corona cites sources at Warner Bros. who say that the actors are being considered but more actors will be tested next week.
C2F's same source at Radiant also addressed rumors that Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, Batman & Robin) was coming on board the project in some capacity. Our source told us that as far as she knew Andrew Kevin Walker was still the only screenwriter working on the script.
SPIDER-MAN, MEN IN BLACK 2
MTV announced that music videos from Spider-Man and Men In Black II were among the nominees for their upcoming MTV Music Video Awards.
In the catagory "Best Video From A Film", "Hero" by Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott from the Spider-Man soundtrack will contend with "Black Suits Comin' (Nod Ya Head)" by Will Smith off of the Men In Black II soundtrack. Spider-Man and Agent J will have competition in the form of "#1" by Nelly from Training Day and "Area Codes" by Ludacris and Nate Dogg from Rush Hour 2.
The nineteenth annual video awards will broadcast live from New York City's Radio City Music Hall on Thursday, August 29, 2002 at 8:00PM (LIVE ET/Taped PT).
That's not all the awards coverage we have this week. Spider-Man has also been nominated for "Best Picture"! No, we're not talking about the Oscars. It's too early for that. We're talking about The 2002.1 Internet Movie Awards.
Spidey picked up an additional nine nominations for a whopping total of 10! Also nominated were Tobey Maguire for both "Best Actor" and "Breakthrough Performance", Kirsten Dunst for "Best Actress", Willem Dafoe for "Best Supporting Actor", the song "Hero" for "Best Song" and David Koepp for "Best Screenplay." The movie also got nods for "Best Soundtrack" and "Best Visual Effects."
The 2002.1 awards cover films that were released in the first half of this year. The internet community at large gets to vote on the nominated films. Voting runs until August 25th so get out there and vote for Spider-Man!
MEN IN BLACK 2, ROAD TO PERDITION
A swinging super-hero was #1 at the box office again this week. No, we're not talking about Spider-Man, we're talking about Austin Powers, baby! The third Powers movie Goldmember debuted in the top spot this week, taking in an estimated $71,540,000 according to Box Office Mojo.
Exciting news for comic fans is that the much-acclaimed Road To Perdition continues to hang tough. The film spent it's third straight week in the box office top 2, collecting an estimated $11 million this weekend.
Men In Black II slipped a notch, ending up at #4 this week. The comic book sequel pulled in $8.7 million brining it's four-week total to $173.6 million.
The movie is doing strong numbers in Germany, according to Variety. MIIB opened strong last week, making it the second-biggest opener this year, after Attack of the Clones. However, as with the U.S. bow, the sequel's numbers did not measure up to the original.
The film boasts the fourth highest premiere of all time in the Czech Republic, the fifth best in Hungary, the seventh highest of all time in Hong Kong and the eight-biggest premiere in Austria.
Men In Black II also opened in the top spot in Singapore, Malaysia, Chile and the Philippines.
DANGER DIABOLIK, L'AVENTURIER
Fangoria.com reports that Brotherhood of the Wolf director Christophe Gans is looking to do The Adventurer as his next film, rather than his long-in-development Nemo. The movie will be a co-production between Universal Pictures and Europe's Studio Canal+.
The film is based on best-selling French comic L'Aventurier featuring the action her Bob Morane. Gans describes Morane as "the French Indiana Jones."
According to Fango, Gans is writing the script with Stephane Cabel. The storyline is drawn from a run of the books that featured the villain Golden Shadow, an Asian, Fu Manchu-esque villain. The movie has a $70 million budget.
No casting has been done yet but Gans told Fangoria said he wants Vincent Cassel to play Morane and Mark Dacascos to appear as a villain.
Gans is also looking forward to adapting another comic, the Italian espionage flick Danger: Diabolik. The director said he aims to be more true to the source material than the 1968 movie version was.
"Look, I love the film as much as anyone," Gans told Fangoria, "but it was much more a James Bond/Batman parody, the vogue of the time, rather than anything to do with the original Italian comic book."
Gans hopes to develop an "erotic, very adult" take for the movie. He named Dacascos as a his preferred leading man and Monica Bellucci as his choice to play Eva.
Thanks to Aint-It-Cool-News for the lead.
SPY VS. SPY
Scooby Doo screenwriter James Gunn told MovieHole.net that he is no longer involved with the development of the Spy Vs. Spy movie. The long-in-development-hell film version of Mad Magazine's strip was previously to be directed by Meet The Parents and Austin Powers helmer Jay Roach.
However, neither Gunn nor Roach are presently working on the film according to the site. "I'm not still involved -- I was involved when Jay Roach was, right before [Scooby Doo]", the screenwriter told MovieHole.
Internet rumors of a renewed development effort on Spy Vs. Spy broke out over the weekend. However Aint-It-Cool-News now reports that those rumors are false.
French speaking fans can get a sneak peek behind the scenes of the currently-filming Michel Vaillant. Clips for the film may be found Luc Besson's EuropaCorp website.
Besson is the writer and producer of the film, based on Jean Graton's comic strip about a racing hero.
Thanks to Dark Horizons for the lead.
SMALLVILLE, BIRDS OF PREY
According to Zap2it, the series premiere of Birds of Prey and the second season premiere of Smallville now have dates attached to them for The WB network fall season.
The website reports that Birds of Prey, based on the DC comic book, will be premiering on Wednesday, October 9 at 9 pm Eastern, 8 pm Central.
The Smallville Season Two premiere will air two weeks earlier than Birds of Prey on Tuesday, September 24 at 9 pm ET, 8 pm CST. According to KyrptonSite, the Smallville epsiode (entitled Vortex) will pick up where the Season One finale left off.
Astro Aces, the upcoming comic that Komikwerks big-shot Shannon Denton recently optioned to Flat Iron Flms will be heading to this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego.
Ken Boyer, the Emmy winning animation director will be the artist on Astro Aces and Ken will be found exclusively at the Komikwerks booth #1546. Please stop on by so Ken and Shannon can discuss the art and future plans for these junior super-heroes.
BECOMING TOMORROW SCREENS AT COMIC-CON
Superhero movie fans attending Comic-Con International (there should be a few there) will want to stop in and check out the short movie Becoming Tomorrow. The movie will air at 2:30pm on Thrusday. Filmmakers Robert Ashe, Kristin Ashe and Bill Van Cuyck will be introducing the film and taking questions afterwards.
Stan Gordon was just an average guy with an exceptional girlfriend until the day she left him for one of the world's finest super heroes. So when the mailman delivers an important package altering his destiny, Stan sees it as his chance to win her back. Stan soon finds that being a superhero requires more than a cape and that true love might only be a happy accident away.
Van Cuyck, the film's co-writer and co-director told C2F that, while the movie isn't based on a comic, he does hope to get a comic published at some point. He's also working on a feature-length version of the script.
The film is running as part of the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival. Look for Becoming Tomorrow in room 1AB at 2:30pm on Thursday.
THIS WEEK ON SABRINA
It's back-to-back Sabrina with two encore episodes of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch airing Friday, August 2nd.
First up is "Sabrina's Date With Destiny".
Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) is ecstatic when Josh (David Lascher) returns from his summer in Europe but her joy is soon crushed when he accepts a job offer in Prague. Sabrina takes charge and calls on Destiny (guest star Brian McFayden, MTV veejay) to give her a glimpse of what her future would be like if she moved overseas to be with Josh. Ken Koch directed the episode written by Adam England.
"Sabrina's Date With Destiny" airs at 8:00 p.m. ET on The WB network.
Following that is "Murder on the Halloween Express!"
Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) plans a special Halloween for her friends on a murder mystery train unaware that the train has been sent from the other realm and will magically transport the passengers back in time as characters in a real murder mystery. While on the train, Sabrina scrambles to solve a murder that is the link to get her friends back to the real world. Ken Koch directed the episode written by Dan Berendsen.
"Murder on the Halloween Express" airs at 8:30 p.m. ET on The WB network.
Thanks to author and comic book movie journalist Andy Mangels for the info.
NEXT WEEK ON JUSTICE LEAGUE
Next Sunday night brings an encore airing of "War World Part I," on Justice League on Cartoon Network.
Superman and the Martian Manhunter find themselves stranded on Mongul's War World where heroes are pitted against each other in gladiator style death matches.
"War World Part I" airs Sunday, August 4th at 7:00 p.m. on Cartoon Network.
Cartoon Network also presents a repeat airing of "Legends Part I" on Saturday, August 3rd at 10:00p.m.
NEXT WEEK ON SMALLVILLE
It's a back-to-back Smallville next week with encores airing Monday, August 5th and August 6th!
Monday's episode is "Rogue" in which Clark makes a deal with the devil.
Clark's (Tom Welling) secret identity is at stake when a bad cop (guest star Cameron Dye) witnesses him use his superhuman powers and coerces Clark to join forces with him; however, when Clark double-crosses the cop, he is not prepared to deal with the consequences for him and his family. Meanwhile, Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) receives an intriguing proposal from an old British flame (guest star Kelly Brook, "The Big Breakfast"). David Carson directed the episode written by Mark Verheiden.
"Rogue" airs Monday, August 5th at 9:00 p.m. ET on The WB network.
Next up is "Hourglass" in which Clark gets a glimpse at his destiny.
Clark (Tom Welling) is rocked by haunting visions when he meets an old woman (guest star Jackie Burroughs) who can see the future, while a scheming Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) uses the seer's gift to glimpse his own destiny and learn more about Clark's secret. Meanwhile, a bitter old man (guest star George Murdock) discovers a "fountain of youth," and once restored to his teenage self (guest star Eric Olsen), seeks revenge on jurors who decades ago put him in jail for murder. Kristin Kreuk, Allison Mack, Sam Jones III, Eric Johnson, Annette O'Toole and John Schneider also star. Chris Long directed the episode written by Doris Egan.
Watch "Hourglass" Tuesday, August 6th at 9:00 p.m. ET on The WB network.
Thanks to author and comic book movie journalist Andy Mangels for the info.
NEXT WEEK ON WITCHBLADE
Gabriel is threatened by a conspiracy in "Veritas", next week's episode of Witchblade.
While investigating an execution-style murder, Sara is pulled into a web of deception and conspiracy that threatens her life and the life of her friend Gabriel Bowman. With both the FBI and unknown assailants in hot pursuit, Sara must employ the Witchblade to save herself, but will using her powers compromise the truth that she has sworn to uphold?
"Veritas" airs Monday, August 5th at 9 p.m. on TNT. An encore showing airs at 11 p.m the same night.
Thanks to Dex!