[NOTE: So much Spidey, so little room! For the latest news from Spider-Man this week click here.]
Universal Studios held a press conference for The Hulk Wednesday on Treasure Island in San Francisco, CA to thank the Bay Area for allowing them to film and to answer questions about the project's filming. The conference coordinators world premiered the first official teaser for The Hulk, which will run with the release of Spider-Man next week.
In attendance were the film's star Eric Bana, director Ang Lee, and many of the films producers including Marvel Studio's Avi Arad, Gail Anne Hurd, James Schamus and Larry Franco. Due to a filming schedule which included aerial helicopter scenes, Lee and Bana's costar Jennifer Connelly were significantly delayed. Connelly opted not to attend the conference altogether, but Lee eventually did arrive to discuss filming with his longtime collaborator Schamus.
Lee was tired from the shooting schedule but did note that he was grateful for having "a great studio supporting my dream." Lee likened the jump in technological advancement that The Hulk will take over his previous film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, as being similar to the jump between Crouching Tiger and some of his first films.
"The transformation we're still figuring out [it will be] something we haven't seen before," Lee said of the startling metamorphosis that drives the title character.
When asked about the process that will transform Bana into the Hulk, Bana commented that he would not be able to go into details but that there would be "a lot" of him in the Hulk.
Lee suggested that his approach to filming a character like the Hulk was easily relatable because of its similarity with basic human nature. "We all have the Hulk inside of us," the director said.
A general theme expressed by the producers and by Lee was the importance of conveying emotion and drama. Hurd called The Hulk an "elemental drama of the human condition."
Bana, who's Australian accent was immediately noticeable, seemed tired but eager to answer a few questions before going on his lunch break. Bana noted he was drawn to the project because Lee was attached and also because the Hulk was a hesitant hero, "The thing I think that particularly attracted me to the character of the Hulk was the fact that he's a slightly reluctant superhero, which I think is a really interesting hook and angle to go for in terms of acting."
When asked about how much attention he was giving to Internet rumors and fan discourse, Lee admitted that he tended to lock himself in his own "fantasy world" but that he would likely open up more because he has a lot of respect for the fan and comic worlds.
Schamus noted that their goal is to stay true to the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee era of the Hulk, calling it a "return to what is old" in the character's long history.
Bana noted that he was homebody but that he enjoyed working in the San Francisco on this, his second visit, "It's a beautiful city and its hard working away from home."
Bana, who is traditionally known as a comedic actor in Australia, says he would like to continue to explore dramatic and action roles here in America, but that he would still be open to the comedic genre if the opportunity presented itself.
The producers present said they chose Hulk to adapt because it was a such a big brand name. Bana noted that even his mother, who was present at the filming, was familiar with the character and enjoyed the television series.
Hurd thanked the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley for their cooperation and assistance, noting that filming of The Hulk constituted hiring 3000 local workers, pumping over $10 million into the local economy.
Addressing concerns over the amount of destruction and commotion that would be caused by the special effects filming, the producers said that the majority of destruction would take place at George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic special effects studios.
When Comics2Film correspondent Kevin Leung attended last week's Hulk press conference, he was among the first to see the teaser trailer for the movie. The ad is set to run with Spider-Man in theaters this weekend.
Kevin provides this description of the reel:
"The trailer opens with a shot of a one story house and the camera approaches slowly. Inside the house the camera approaches Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) from behind. He's in a bathroom, dressed only in a towel (he's actually kind of muscular), leaning against a sink staring into the mirror.
"There's a voice over of Bana and he says something about being afraid, not of changing, but of enjoying the changes. He starts to get angry and the camera cuts to a close up of his eye. His pupil changes and then the skin around his eye saturates with green.
"The camera cuts to an external view of the home and there appears to be a pounding coming from inside. The wall facing the camera explodes and household materials (I think the sink, for one) come flying towards the camera, transitioning to the movie title and logo and the target release time."
Comics2Film has learned that there are plans afoot to bring artist Tanino Liberatore and writer Stefano Tamburini's European comic Ranxerox to the big screen.
Producer Chris Hanley is working to develop the concept with London-based director Chris Cunningham.
Cunningham first came to prominence doing special effects work for movies like A.I., Alien³ and Alien: Resurrection. He went on to direct the controversial "Come to Daddy" music video for Aphex Twin and also directed "All is Full of Love" for Bjork.
Hanley told us that Cunningham is a fan of the book and wanted to adapt it for film. The director is currently writing the screenplay for the movie.
The darkly humorous comics features Ranxerox, a punk, Frankenstein's monster and Lubna his teenage sidekick. Together they form a bizarre beauty and beast team in a post-apocalyptic world.
"It's pretty violent and it's got a lot of sex," Hanley said. "We'll see what take we end up with."
The comic's themes made it controversial and even led to it being banned in some countries. As a producer, Hanley is no stranger to controversy.
"You know I did American Psycho and Virgin Suicides and I've got Gary Oldman playing a dwarf in Tip Toes right now as we speak," Hanley said. "My movie Spun with Jonas Åkerlund directing had nine passes at the MPAA. There's Freeway that had nine passes at the MPAA. James Toback's Two Girls and a Guy, that had nine passes at the MPAA. What can I say?"
Hanley also confirmed that star Leonardo DiCaprio is interested in the project. The actor filmed a TV commercial with Cunningham and is looking to work with the director again. However, if he comes on board the project it will probably be as a producer and not an actor.
Comics2Film followed up with sources at Twentieth Century Fox and confirmed that Lee has a small but important role in the film. Fox said that Lee plays the old man that young Matt Murdock saves from being hit by a bus. Fans know well that Murdock is blinded and given his other super senses while trying to save the elderly pedestrian.
It appears Daredevil's creator is playing the man who helped Daredevil become a superhero.
Meanwhile, E! Online's Anderson Jones reports that Michael Clark Duncan is very happy and excited about his role as Daredevil villain The Kingpin in the upcoming feature film.
In his Movie Scoop column Jones writes that Duncan said he has an affinity for villain roles. Duncan said, "I've always wanted to be a Kingpin type of guy, where I order everybody around. For the first time, I don't have any makeup. I'm in nice suits. I have nice shoes, gold watches. I smoke cigars, and I have pretty women around me."
In other DD news, Daredevil fans can acquaint themselves with Ellen Pompeo, who's set to play Karen Page in the adaptation, by watching the short film 8½x11 online at Blood Orange Films.
Thanks to ManWithoutFear.com for the scoop.
Finally, Jason Voorhees and the bodyguard who kills Battlin' Jack Murdock (Matt "Daredevil" Murdock's father) have a few things in common, according to Kane Hodder, the actor who portrays both characters. In an interview with SCI FI Wire, Kane commented on the similarities between his stuntwork as Jason Vorhees and that of the bodyguard role in Daredevil.
"It's one of those rare cases where I don't have to hit the ground at all. I just beat the hell out of the guy, he dies, and I hardly get hit. I get hit a couple times, but it's not that effective, almost like with the Jason stuff. Things are tried, and once in a while I'll have to do some stunts."
"[In Friday the 13th] Part VII, I had to do a lot of different stunts as Jason, but that's because the girl had the telekinetic powers and made things happen," Hodder said. "Other than that, most of the violence is directed towards other people, so it's a little easier for me."
Hodder appears as Jason Vorhees again in Jason X, which opens April 26. Daredevil is not slated for release until 2003.
HEROBEAR & THE KID
Universal Picture's is set to close a deal for and animated feature film based on Mike Kunkel's Herobear & The Kid according to The Hollywood Reporter. The studio is in final negotiations to option the property for Chuck Gordon's Daybreak Prods. and Adrian Askarieh's Prime Universe Prods.
Kunkel is attached to direct the project. He'll also co-write the script with comic scribe Jeph Loeb. Loeb will serve as executive producer.
The story is described as centering on a little boy named Tyler who inherits a stuffed polar teddy bear from his dead grandfather. The bear comes to life as a superhero and the duo embark on adventures together. Their adventures touch on such childhood themes as new schools, bullies, love and imagination.
"We see this as a major animated franchise for Universal with the appeal level of Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story," Gordon told The Reporter. "Mike Kunkel has created a classic. It's a family movie for everyone, and Universal is the perfect place to brand this."
Universal production president Mary Parent and vice president production Dylan Clark will oversee the project for the studio.
Variety confirmed the story that Ain't It Cool News broke last week: Revolution Studios has committed financing to the Hellboy movie. The movie is budgeted at $60 million. Blade II director Guillermo del Toro is set to helm the pic from his own script. Actor Ron Perlman is in talks to star.
Revolution's Todd Garner brought the project to the studio and Revolution top gun Joe Roth gave the greenlight to the project.
G-MEN FROM HELL
Mike Allred updated readers of his message boards on plans for the release of G-Men From Hell on DVD.
One surprise is that the disc will also contain the indie film Astroesque which Allred wrote, directed, produced and starred in in 1998. The film tied in to his Red Rocket 7 comic series which was released the same year.
"Laura and I just spent a day in L.A. where we recorded a commentary track," Allred told his readers. "Laura sat in to give me someone to talk to (and I talked and talked and talked. Beaver Cleaver seemed to come up a lot) when it was decided that [director] Christopher Coppola and I would have separate tracks.
"I already have a DVD screener of G-Men and the print and transfer are PHENOMENAL! This is a GREAT looking film," Allred said.
As far as the comic creator knew the disc would also contain:
- A "making of" feature
- Theatrical trailer
- Comic book to film comparisons
- Production and marketing art
- An intro to Astroesque by Allred
- Additional materials from Coppola
Allred reports that he had a say in the packaging art and is happy with the way it looks. The DVD is due out in June and should be available wherever DVDs are sold.
Dark Horizons reported that a DVD of the pilot of Smallville is in the works. The bad news is that the DVD will be released in Canada only.
According to Dark Horizons, the DVD will contain extra features like deleted scenes with commentary, wide screen format, storyboards, and a commentary track. The DVD is set for a June 4th release in Canada. Dark Horizons writes that currently there is no U.S. release date.
The upside for U.S. residents is that Canadian DVDs are not recorded for a different region. So they are capable of being played on U.S. DVD players, if you feel like making a trip to our northern neighbor.
In other Smallville news, AOL Time Warner has announced that rock band Remy Zero, whose hit single "Save Me" serves as Smallvile's theme song, will now be guest-starring on the show.
The band will be appearing as themselves in the show, and will perform "Save Me" and their new single, "Perfect Memory", on screen.
"We are always looking for ways to organically incorporate music into the audience viewing experience," said Lew Goldstein, co-President, Marketing of The WB. Goldstein adds, "This is a testament to the rapid rise of Remy Zero and the fact that they speak to the same teen and young adults audience that The WB does."
Expect to see the band in the show's May 21st season finale.
SMALLVILLE, BIRDS OF PREY
Although the WB network won't announce their Fall 2002 schedule until Tuesday, May 14... there is now some insight into when two DC Comics-inspired series may air.
The Futon Critic has made their predictions concerning which shows will be on the new Fall line-up and in what time-slot they'll go.
According to the website, Birds of Prey will be picked up by the network and will likely air Thursday nights at 8:00 (7:00 Central). Smallville, meanwhile could be moved to Sunday nights and shifted an hour earlier than its current time to 8:00 (7:00 Central).
Remember, you'll have to wait until May 14 for the official word.
SPIDER-MAN ANIMATED SHOW
Comics Continuum has released some tidbits from Audu Paden, producer of MTV's upcoming Spider-Man animated series, concerning the effects of computer animation.
According to Paden, character production is a slow process in this particular animation style. "In computer animation, it's accumulative, so we start with a few characters in each episode and as the budgets permit to sort of move forward and create a few more," says Paden. As a result, he instructs the writers that they "get three main characters in this show and... can work with everyone who has been created before."
As a result, the early episodes are said to focus chiefly on Peter Parker, MJ Watson, and Harry Osborn.
Those interested can visit Comics Continuum for screenshots from a small preview which aired within MTV's Spider-Man movie special.
SPIDER-MAN, BLADE II, HULK, DAREDEVIL
Comics2Film caught up with Marvel Studios CEO Avi Arad to discuss the progress of many of Marvel's films currently in production.
Arad, who flew from the Southern California set of Daredevil to supervise work on The Hulk, spoke about his faith in the directors of Marvel's string of successful comic adaptations. Arad likened finding the right director for a film to "interviewing babysitters for your baby."
Speaking about the freedom Universal Studios was giving Director Ang Lee and the producers to create and develop The Hulk as they saw fit, Arad explained, "They know we know how to threat our characters."
Speaking of Daredevil, Arad said that everything was "looking amazing."
The sequel to 2000's X-Men appears on track for a June 2002 start date after missing its initial target. Arad explained, "We had minor delays due to casting issues and availability issues."
Meanwhile, Arad affirmed that he had every confidence in Spider-Man. He said that examining the successes of Blade, X-Men and Blade II, opening weekend performance seems to be a crucial aspect of the films' success.
Arad also anticipates that the the successes of The Hulk and Spider-Man will open the door to even more future Marvel projects.
The big-screen version of DC/Vertigo's Constantine (based on the comic Hellblazer) was charging towards production when the director bailed out on the project in January. Now The Hollywood Reporter reports that Warner Bros. and that director, Tarsem Singh, have filed lawsuits against one another in Los Angeles Superior Court.
On Feb. 1, Warner Bros. filed a complaint against Tarsem and his Oedipus Productions. The suit alleges that Singh violated his contract with the studio by bailing on the project. Warner is requesting that the court order arbitration of the dispute and may also seek damages.
Last Friday, Singh fired back claiming that Warner "baited (him) with false promises, usurped his creative rights (rights guaranteed under the DGA Agreement), and then, in an ultimate irony, sued him for millions for allegedly failing to do exactly that which they prevented him from doing."
Among Singh's allegations are the charge that the studio tried to prevent him from meeting with the film's writer, that they ignored his script changes and instead presented him with a script "which could not be performed at a cost the studio was willing to accept." Finally, the director also alleges that the studio was actively seeking a replacement for him during the development.
In his complaint, Singh also claims that he never signed the contract with the studio and only had an oral agreement to supervise development of the script.
In a interview with The Calgary Sun's Louis B Hobson, Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire revealed that the scene in Spider-Man where Peter Parker gains his powers was more dangerous to film than it looked.
Apparently, director Raimi was looking for a Spider that looked good visually. He said, "The black widow spider was definitely the best visually, but we needed the red markings on it. We couldn't paint the spider or it would die so we had to make it a little costume."
Star, Tobey Maguire assumed that the costumed arachnid would then be landing on a hand double, writes Hobson. However, Raimi found that he really need his star's hand for a shot when the camera's pulled away. Raimi said, "The spider wrangler told me if the black widow bit Tobey it wouldn't actually kill him, but it could make him ill. I didn't go into all those details with Tobey. I just told him it was pretty safe as long as he kept his hand perfectly still."
Maguire recalls the one warning he got, "there was talk about there being some potential danger in using the spider and that it was a black widow, but if I recall correctly those discussions came after we'd shot the scene."
Thanks to Cinescape for the lead.
If you missed it last week, you've got another chance for a sneak peek at the upcoming Spider-Man movie this week. Check out Spider-Man: HBO First Look on the HBO pay-cable channel on Wednesday, May 1 at 12:30 p.m.
If you're not in movie theaters watching the film itself on May 3rd, you'll get another chance. The special runs at 7:30p.m. on Friday, followed by a presentation of X-Men.
One last encore of the First Look special is also slated for Saturday, May 4 at 1:45 p.m.
At last week's Marvel conference call Bill Rosemann announced that MTV will air a Spider-Man movie special next week. The show will promote the movie and the comics as well. Rosemann reports that the comic segment is "rather lengthy".
Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, Marvel Studios chief Avi Arad, Spider-Man artists John Romita Sr. and Jr. and Spidey editor Axel Alonso are among the guests to be intereviewed.
The special airs April 28th at 9:00 pm ET, April 29th at 5:00pm ET, May 1st at 12 noon ET and May 3rd at 3 pm ET.
If the show does good numbers there may be additional airings.
Wanna see the movie with 50 of your closest friends? Here's your chance to go on the ultimate spin with your friends.
Enter now for your chance to win a private screening of Spider-Man in your hometown for yourself +50 friends.
You could also win a Sony DVD Player, stereo system, Mini-disc player, the Spider-Man soundtrack or even the new Spider-Man video game!
STAN LEE PUTS POW! INTO HOLLYWOOD
Stan Lee is at it again according to The Hollywood Reporter. Lee has launched a new company, POW! Entertainment, and is busy cutting deals with parties in Hollywood.
According to the writer, MGM and Bruce Willis' Cheyenne Enterprises have signed a first-look deal for new movie and TV projects from POW! The deal only lasts through the end of this year and has an option to renew.
Cheyenne us currently eyeing three concepts: The Femizons, with writers Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman attached; The Double Man, which is being developed with director Antoine Fuqua and scripted by Alan McElroy and Nightbird, with discussions under way to sign a writer.
"I've never felt more creatively excited or motivated," Lee told The Reporter. "There are dozens of high-concept plots and colorful new heroes and villains germinating in my mind, and I can't wait to bring them to life in the biggest arenas of all -- motion pictures and TV."
The article also alludes to POW!'s Striperella animated show. It states that Pamela Anderson is doing motion capture for the series. Two weeks ago C2F reported that she's also providing the voice for the show which will run next year on TNN (not TNT as stated by The Reporter).
VANHOOK JOINS FILM ROMAN
Film Roman, Inc. announced monday that it will acquire acclaimed visual effects house, VanHook Studios. Former comic pro Kevin VanHook and his staff, including top effects artists Chadd B. Cole and Vince Di Meglio, will form a new division, Forum Visual Effects, which will be based out of Film Roman's North Hollywood studios.
Film Roman is looking to VanHook to enhance all areas of its animation production, including television, commercials, feature films, special projects and music videos. Currently, the two entities are working on promos for "Night Out on SHO TOO" for the Showtime Networks.
"We are continually looking to expand our creative capabilities to provide the best and most extensive animation services to our clients. We look at Film Roman as a place where animation, art and technology come together," stated John Hyde, president and CEO of Film Roman. "Kevin VanHook and his outstanding group are well known as innovators and will further expand Film Roman's animation and digital reach. We are proud that VanHook Studios chose us as their partner, and we are extremely pleased to welcome Kevin and his experienced staff to our growing family."
After a career in comic books, Kevin VanHook set up VanHook Studios in 1994, designing trading cards and collectibles for high-profile products like, Godzilla, Pokemon, WWF, X-Men and Dragonball Z. Soon, his Visual Effects and Post-Production company was working on such major television shows such as Ally McBeal, Xena: Warrior Princess and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Their feature films credits include work on Disney's My Favorite Martian, The Thirteenth Warrior and Hellraiser: Hellseeker. VanHook Studios also brought their talents to the world of children's animation, creating many of the 3D environments and vehicles for the popular WB series, Max Steel. When FOX KIDS needed a team to create the 3D portion of their 2D/3D hybrid series, NASCAR Racers, VanHook Studios was brought in to add their realistic touch to the fantasy racing series. The studio is currently creating special effects sequences for Dimension Films' Dracula: Resurrection.
"Our studio has always tried to keep the quality of our work as the ultimate goal," stated Kevin VanHook. "That same dedication to quality has made Film Roman the leader in their field. Together, I think we'll be able to create something truly special."
Senior Vice President of Animation Production, Mike Wolf, brought Kevin VanHook to the Film Roman studios. Wolf, who has been with Film Roman since 1990, worked as an animator on Tron, a visual effects supervisor on Something Wicked and supervised the first 3-D animated feature, Starchaser.
MEN IN BLACK 2
According to UpcomingMovies.com a new Men In Black 2 trailer is set to hit the offical site today. It'll be in theaters on Friday with an obscure little movie called Spider-Man.
Comics Continuum reported that two new writers are currently working on the script for X-Men 2. Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty are currently working with the film's director Brian Singer on a new draft of the script. Dark Horizons who followed up on the story indicates that time is short, with shooting for the film set to begin on June 17th.
Screenwriter David Self is set to dive into the undersea kingdom of Sub-Mariner according to today's Hollywood Reporter. The trade magazine reports that Self has signed a seven-figure deal to write and executive produce a movie based on Marvel's aquatic king for Universal Pictures.
"I'm so psyched to do this project. I'm a scuba diver and my dad's a marine biologist, so this is right down my alley," Self said to The Reporter. "This is not going to be like any comic book movie you've ever seen. It will not be a men-in-tights movie. We're going for a hard sci-fi feel."
Marvel Studios president Avi Arad is producing with Kevin Misher's studio-based Misher Films.
"David is a high-quality writer who happens to be a Marvel geek," Arad told The Reporter. "In addition to that, he's a diver and shares a love for the undersea world, which is very important in this particular case. Add all of those things together and you've got the perfect person to bring this character to life."
Sub-Mariner marks Self's second major comic book adaptation. He also penned the script for Road to Perdition, which is due out later this year.
ASTERIX AND OBELIX: MISSION CLEOPATRA, ASTERIX AND OBELIX VS. CAESAR
UpcomingMovies.com reports that tentative dates have been set for the U.S. releases of the French-made Asterix movies.
The sequel Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra is said to be slated for a June, 2003 release (possibly limited).
Meanwhile the original Asterix and Obelix Vs. Caesar is also due for a 2003 release. A specific date has not been announced for that one.
Cleopatra is the most expensive and successful movie in the history of French cinema.
SABRINA GETS NEW SHOWRUNNER
Variety reports that David Babcock has been brought on board the long-running comic book show Sabrina The Teenage Witch. Babcock is the new showrunner for the sitcom's next season on The WB network. He replaces Bruce Ferber.
According to the report, the network is hoping Babcock will change the focus of the show to target a slightly older demographic. The new season of the show will also likely see the departures of co-stars Caroline Rhea and Beth Broderick, who play Sabrina's aunts.
Previously, Babcock was a co-producer on Dharma & Greg and Suddenly Susan.
WITCHBLADE SEASON 2
TNT has released a new set of promo pics for season 2 of Witchblade. Feast your eyes:
All of the principals from the first season return including Yancy Butler as Sara Pezzini, David Chokachi as Jake McCartey, Will Yun Lee as (the now-living) Dany Woo, Eric Etebari as Ian Nottingham, John Hensley as Gabriel Bowman and Anthony Cistaro as Kenneth Irons.
Witchblade returns on June 16th with the back-to-back episodes "Emergence" and "Destiny".
It's mind over matter in "Crush", the May 7th episode of Smallville.
Clark (Tom Welling) faces an unexpected foe when a gifted art student (guest star Adam Brody) returns to school after a hit-and-run accident robbed him of the use of his hands but gave him the gift of telekinesis, and he is seeking revenge against those he holds responsible. Meanwhile, Lana (Kristin Kreuk) becomes jealous after watching Clark with Chloe (Allison Mack) and begins to question her relationship with Whitney (Eric Johnson). James Marshall (The Famous Jett Jackson) directed the episode written by Philip Levens (Wolf Lake) & Alfred Gough & Miles Millar (Shanghai Noon).
"Crush" airs Tuesday, May 7th at 9:00 p.m. ET on The WB network.
Thanks to author and comic book movie journalist Andy Mangels for the info.
It's repeats on Cartoon Network next Sunday night with the "War World" episode of Justice League.
The show sends Superman and The Martian Manhunter after Mongul, the world-dominating villain that pits warriors against one another in gladiator style matches. Eric Roberts voices the despotic villain.
"War World Part I" airs Sunday, May 5th at 7:00 p.m. on Cartoon Network.
THIS WEEK ON SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH
Joanie Laurer (formerly WWF superstar Chyna) guest stars on "Driving Mr. Goodman," this week's episode of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.
Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) and Miles (Trevor Lissauer) get in a minor fender bender, but the other driver (Laurer) brings a phony lawsuit to fleece them for millions. Sabrina turns for expert advice to "Car Talk" radio hosts Click and Clack (NPR hosts the Tappet Brothers playing themselves). Brian Roberts (Lizzie McGuire) directed the episode written by Suzanne Gangursky (The Nanny).
"Driving Mr. Goodman" airs Friday, May 3 at 8:00 p.m. on The WB Network.
Thanks to author and comic book movie journalist Andy Mangels for the info.