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CLOAK AND DAGGER

Dimension Films has asked comic and screenwriter David Tischman to begin work on the screenplay for Cloak and Dagger. The Marvel movie was announced in May. Rick Alexander and Marvel's Avi Arad are producing, with Kevin Feige executive producing. Jesse Berdinka is overseeing for Dimension.

Comics2Film talked to Tischman about how the project is shaping up. "I think that we've crafted a really smart, fun movie," Tischman said. "The great thing about Cloak and Dagger is that, in its concept it's so simple: white girl, black guy, light, dark. What this gives us room to do, is really get into their heads, and really explore who Tyrone and Tandy are. What has brought them to this point? How has that background has shaped who they are?

"Now they're on their own and, maybe for the first time, really making their own decisions, their own choices and figuring out, as most people of that age are doing, who they are, what they believe in, what they want their lives to be."

The writer told us that plans are to make a comic book movie set in a very real world. "We all realize that for this kind of superhero movie, the way this is going to have the most impact, is that everything about this world is completely realistic," Tischman said. "This is a dark and dangerous area of town where these kids are living. There are homeless people that live on the street. There are hookers and drug dealers and things like that. This is not like Giuliani's New York."

Although the filmmakers aim to be as true to the comics as possible, they are putting a new spin on the heroes' origins. The comic book story has the characters kidnapped off the street and subjected to experimental drugs by a sinister pharmaceutical corporation. The new take has been updated a bit. "We've given the origin of our heroes a much more mystical bent. The people who turn out to be our villains kill our heroes and our heroes are resurrected. When they are resurrected they have been given these power," Tischman told C2F.

As with the comics, Tandy and Tyrone find sanctuary in an inner-city church. In spite of the presence of religious themes, Tischman tells us that Cloak and Dagger is not a "God movie. But what it does do is that it forces our heroes to ask the ultimate questions: 'Why am I here? Why did I come back? Am I supposed to use these powers to gain revenge on the people who did this to me? Am I supposed to use these powers to protect the people on the streets so that others cannot be victimized as I was? Why am I still alive?' All of those big questions," Tischman said.

Philosophical issues and a gritty city milieu aside, Tischman promises that the movie will be, very much, an action-adventure. "While our environment is dark, our heroes are still going to have a lot of fun with their powers."

Another important element is the love story between the characters. "That was a very big part of the book: the tension between Tyrone and Tandy," Tischman said. "We're playing the powers as being symbiotic, as it was in the comics. They cannot stray too far from one another because the powers are irrevocably tied to one another. So, even if they have a fight and they're pissed off at each other, they can't just get on an airplane and run out of town. How does that complicate the mixed feelings you have for the other person?"

Fans of the comics will recognize familiar elements. Father Delgado is set play a supporting role in the film. The movie will also have a familiar lady detective, although she'll have a different name from the comic book counterpart. But the question on most fans minds is likely, will they wear the costumes?

"They will be in what I would call movie versions of the comic uniform," Tischman told us. "They come to these uniforms in a very organic way. In the same way that, for example, it was raining and Bruce Willis puts on that poncho in Unbreakable. You saw the shadow and you realize that this is his superhero uniform. Our heroes get their costumes in a similar way."

Tischman is encouraged by the way the project has gone so far. "Dimension and Marvel and my producer, Rick Alexander and I are all very happy with the direction it's going in and I really think it's going to be a solid movie."

While Tischman will be hard at work on the Cloak And Dagger screenplay he told C2F that he has other comic-to-film adaptations that he's developing. However, at this stage it's too early to name them.

If the movie work weren't enough, the writer has been very busy in other arenas as well. A 4 issue collection of his American Century comic (which he co-writes with Howard Chaykin) is due out in September. That's the same month his run on Marvel's Cable hits the stands as well as his DC mini Angel and the Ape (also co-written with Chaykin). He and Chaykin will have the first issue of the ongoing Mutant X comic (based on the TV show) in stores in October.

MARKUS FANG

[Markus Fang]Comic creator and animator Shannon Denton told Comics2Film that he's working with Hollywood talent to develop a new property for comic and, possibly, other media. Denton, along with screenwriter Ross LaManna (Rush Hour) and actor Russell Wong are close to signing a deal with a major comic publisher to launch the new concept. Wong may be best known for his recent role as the heavy in Romeo Must Die.

Denton and LaManna have been working to set up his concept The Big Game as a movie. "We were going out pitching that, and we had so much fun working together we were like, 'let's work on something else,'" Denton said. "So we created something together with Russell Wong."

That something is a high-tech, martial arts action comic named Markus Fang. It's a high-adventure concept that's geared toward all ages. "If it was a move it would be rated PG, maybe PG-13," LaManna told C2F. "We'd like for a 30-year-old guy to be able to read it, like it and pass it to his 10-year-old nephew and he read it and like it, without either one of them going, 'this is lame.'"

The title character is a near-future, Asian America spy whose just as at home inventing weapons as he is wielding them. "His mind has been disciplined by science. His body had been disciplined by martial arts," LaManna said. "His cover is that he works for a multi-national corporation, P.T.T. (Peace Through Technology). They're the cover for this really cool secret organization called O.S.I.R.I.S. (Organization Strategic International Research and Intelligence Services)."

LaManna goes on to describe the character, "If [James Bond's] Q had a son, it would be Markus. He uses all the gadgets that he, himself, is part of the team building. It's a little bit of that Clark Kent double life, in that he's kind of bookish and kind of smart. But then, when somebody needs to go off and use this stuff, he's the guy that can do it."

"I just really want this to be a good comic," Denton assures stating that the primary goal is the book. However, with the team of a comic creator, a screenwriter and an actor, all the pieces are in place to move Markus Fang into other media. LaManna tells us they have "an eye towards possibly turning it into a TV series or a movie if people respond to it. It's all kind of built-in because, I can write it, Russell can play it, and we're good to go."

Denton and LaManna will be promoting the comic at the upcoming Comic-Con International in San Diego. "We're actually working on a 3-D animated trailer right now. We've got Jack Chan's stunt-double, Jet Li's stunt double and Russell Wong to do motion-capture for this fight scene," Denton told C2F. "It'll look cool."

Star Trek veteran Dennis McCarthy is scoring the 90 second clip.

Denton, LaManna and Wong will also be speaking on a Comic-Con panel called "Film To Comics and Back Again". They'll be joined by Star Trek's Brent Spiner (a.k.a Mr. Data). Denton tells us they may also be joined by a well-know producer and special effects whiz. The panel is scheduled for on Thursday July 19th at 4:30.

SPIDER-MAN

[Green Goblin Art]Spider-Man Hype followed up on its publication of a design illustration of the Green Goblin from the Spider-Man production. Fans agreed that the Goblin in the illustration looked quite a bit more dramatic than the photo of the costume snapped on the set earlier this year.

However, word from their anonymous source is that the final version will look more like the photo than the design illustration.

According to SMH's source the glider depicted in the illustration is "identical" to the final movie version. However, the complicated costume design was apparently deemed "too cost-prohibitive." Because the character will be rendered as CGI in many of the action scenes, the decision was made to simplify the suit.

In other Spidey news, a recent Reuters wire story detailing Kirsten Dunst's rise as a box office force. Although it focuses on her upcoming dramatic release crazy/beautiful, it also talks about the much-anticipated, Spider-Man.

"It was a good movie to be a part of," Dunst said of Spidey, "It's not like a cheesy superhero movie at all."

According to the article, Dunst said she got beat up "by far" more than co-star Tobey Maguire. Her role as Mary Jane also required her to endure being hung up by wires, thrown around and drenched in torrential downpours.

BLUEBERRY

[Blueberry]It's been a few years since we've heard anything about a big screen adaptation of Jean (Moebius) Giraud's Blueberry. However, Jean-Marc Lofficier of Hollywood Comics points interested parties to the official website of French filmmaker Jan Kounen.

Kounen has been developing the film since 1999. The movie is still in pre-production, and development efforts have recently been delayed due to a project that spun out of Kounen's research for the film.

"As part of the research for my screen adaptation of the western Blueberry, I embarked on several journeys to study Indian Shamans. On one of these trips to Peru, I met a master Shipibo Shaman," Kounen writes on his site. "Based on this encounter, I decide to make a documentary feature film, called Other Worlds, which is currently being edited."

Work on the documentary have delayed the comic book adaptation. "However, they have contributed immensely to enlightening me and providing me with a fresh outlook on the film," Kounen said. "Personally, it has been the most fulfilling adventure in humanity and film-making that I have ever had the privilege of experiencing."

However, work is resuming on Blueberry. Kounen reports that casting is underway on the film.

Fans can find several pages of interesting material on Kounen's website. The site features storyboards, design illustrations, location photos and a Flash animated teaser for the film. As an added bonus, Kounen provides fans with a photo-journal of his location scouting in Mexico.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

A little over a week ago, Digital Rim Entertainment and Mirage Studios announced the development of a CGI Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. The deal for the movie spun out of a TV pilot that's been developed by Digital Rim and is currently being shopped around to networks.

Now, TMNT co-creator Peter Laird has given fans a sneak peek at that pilot episode. On his Planet Racers website, Laird posted two frame grabs from a VHS tape of the show. Laird references Rainbow Studios as the producers of the show. Late last year Rainbow Studios joined Digital Dream Studios and filmmakers John Woo and Terrance Change to form Digital Rim Entertainment.

Laird promises more previews with future updates to his website.

BLADE 2

Empire Online ran some interesting quotes from Blade 2 director Guillermo del Toro. The director, speaking to Screen International magazine, talked about the sequel and what it means to the vampire genre.

"I was attracted to the idea of making vampires scary again," Del Toro said. "They have become almost gothic romance heroes a la Anne Rice. I wanted to find the animal component again: something that just wants to drink your blood and kill you."

Del Toro also comments, "The style I like is a more contemplative and atmospheric approach, but in Blade 2 I am doing action and horror, so it's a good combination. I'm making the camera much freer."

DEATH: THE HIGH COST OF LIVING

Last week, the newly relaunched Cinescape magazine published an interview with author and filmmaker Neil Gaiman. Gaiman talked about his various projects, like his new novel American Gods which he is currently promoting. He also spent some time on the subject of the movie version of his acclaimed comic Death: The High Cost of Living.

Gaiman is very involved with the big-screen adaptation, as both writer and director of the project. "I handed in the first script treatment last April," He told Cinescape. "It was rather rushed because there was the possibility of a writer's strike. As such, I felt I really handed in not so much a first treatment as a seven-eighths treatment. After reading it over, I noticed the character of Sexton whines through the entire film. If I was in the audience, within 20 minutes I would want to kill him."

Gaiman also expressed pleasant surprised that Warner Bros. seems to be committed to having him on the project. When an unnamed production company, who had initially been involved with the film, asked for a more action-oriented script, the author expected to be replaced by a new screenwriter. "Normally, when something like this happens, Warners would call a person like me up and say, 'Thank you for your efforts,' and let me go," Gaiman said. "This time they shocked me by turning around and telling the production company, 'Thank you for your efforts' and telling them to go."

A new production company has joined the project although Gaiman was not ready to announce which one. But the writer and author is set to continue developing Death. "I get to work the script over, and do something about Sexton," Gaiman said.

Check out the entire Cinescape interview for more on Gaiman's projects. Thanks to Matt for the lead.

STARDUST

Corona Coming Attractions reports that Kate Hudson (Almost Famous) has her eye on the big screen version of Neil Gaiman's Stardust. This news comes from a Dayton, OH fan who claims to have heard it from Gaiman himself.

Gaiman is currently on a tour, promoting his new novel American Gods and popping off about his different movie projects.

GHOST WORLD

[Ghost World]Fantagraphics reports that Ghost World did well at last month's preview screening at the Seattle International Film Festival. The movie was a runner up (out of about 150 movies) for the Golden Space Needle Award, the highest festival honor. Thora Birch was named the festival's Best Actress. Steve Buscemi as a runner up for best actor.

Due to the positive buzz generated at the fest, MGM has added Seattle to the small list of cities that will enjoy the early release of the film on July 20th. The film will also open in New York and Los Angeles that day.

Fantagraphics reports that the wider, August 3rd, release of the film will include Toronto, Washington D.C., Chicago, Boston, San Diego, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

The film will also screen at the Edinburgh Film Festival in the U.K. on Friday, August 17th. British fans will subsequently see the movie released some time in November.

Finally, Fantagraphics reports that creator and screenwriter Daniel Clowes is hard at work on an official website for the movie, which will reside at ghostworld-themovie.com. The site should be up and running within a week.

WITCHBLADE

Need to catch up on the Witchblade series? On July 8th TNT will show a 6-hour Witchblade marathon. The marathon kicks off at 4:00pm ET, with an airing of the original movie. Followed by the first four episodes of the series at 6, 7, 8 and 9pm

TNT also released a description for the July 17th episode of the show. The sixth installment is called "Maelstrom". Here's the synopsis:

"Conchobar (Kim De Lury) is abducted by Irish militants, and Sara will do anything to save him, even if it means compromising the powers of the Witchblade."

The 11 episode mini series winds down in August. The schedule for that month is:

TNT is only providing a description for episode 9 at this point: "Apprehension - Sara (Yancy Butler) is immersed in an investigation surrounding the murder of a pimp when a mysterious package is delivered to her. Her world begins to unravel when clues suggest the enemy may not be who she thought. The only thing she can trust now is the knowing eye of the Witchblade."

Thanks to Ron for the assist.

Meanwhile, Witchblade fan Dex provides a roundup of what's new at the WitchbladeTV.com website.

There are two new photo galleries available, one 9 image set spotlighting the movie and another one detailing 4,5,6.

Fans can also look to the site for series notes, mythology about the Witchblade and information about former Witchblade wielders.

Unfortunately, ratings on the series continue to slip, according to an analysis from Inside.com. The series debuted with a 2.7/4 rating, but fell to a 2.2/4 in the second week. The third episode slipped even further to a 2.0/4. According to the write-up, Witchblade Episode 3 tied for fourth in its hour among major basic-cable channels. Episode 1 won that time period while Episode 2 came in second.

FISTFUL OF BLOOD

[Fistfull of blood]Gary Gray of The Z Review (the hottest UK movie site) reports that a feature film adaptation of Kevin Eastman and Simon Bisley's Fistful of Blood is in the works. According to their report, the Fistful comics, described as a zombie western, were originally published by Heavy Metal and will soon be available online at the Cool Beans World website.

Z provides this description of the concept: "Out of the blistering heat of the desert a mysterious stranger wanders into a grim, dusty, twisted border town with three names... It's a female...bruised, battered, and naked... who is quickly drawn into a vicious war between two rival gangs who prey on tourists. Redefining the term "femme fatale" and in a cold, calculated game, she switches allegiances to the highest bidder, which in the end turns out to be her own morality...."

Citing the Simon Bisley Online as their source The Z Review states that Eastman is currently adapting the concept as a movie. No word is given as to whether this would be a live action effort or animated. Eastman and Bisley previously developed last year's animated feature Heavy Metal 2000, which integrated parts of their Melting Pot story and cast Julie Strain (Mrs. Eastman) as the hero of the story.

ZITS

Freak and Geeks creator Paul Feig is hard at work. A recent Variety article reveals that Feig has been hired to do what he does best: tap into the awkward angst of being a teenager.

This time he's been hired to write the big screen adaptation of Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman's popular comic strip Zits. The movie is set up at Universal with Marc Platt (Josie and the Pussycats) producing.

BULLETPROOF MONK

MGM Studios has registered the domain name BulletproofMonk.com, BulletproofMonk.net and BulletproofMonk.org. As is typical, these early domain registrations are not yet active, but currently take users to the general MGM website.

The studio is currently developing a big-screen version of Gotham Chopra and Michael Avon Oeming's comic Bulletproof Monk. John Woo and Terrance Chang are producing with Chow Yun-Fat attached to star.

Thanks to UpcomingMovies for the lead.

UNBREAKABLE

Bruce Willis may be Unbreakable but some fans are finding Alex Ross's art invisible. The special edition DVD of the comic-book-themed Unbreakable, which was released last week, was to have shipped with an exclusive double-sided postcard sporting Alex Ross art. However, according to DVDFile.com some fans are finding that Ross' art is not in the box as promised.

However, all is not lost. A Comic Book Resources reader named Kolchak posted a message on CBR's message boards tells fans that Disney is ready to assist fans who are missing out on the art. Dissatisfied disc owners can direct their browsers to Disney's DVD Technical Support area and ask for a replacement.

SHA

Jay (a Comics2Film reader, not a Men In Black agent) writes in to correct our recent article on Pat Mills' projects. According to Jay, Mills' Sha is a French comic book, and not a German comic as we stated. However, a German-language version of the comic has been published.

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