It's been about six months since we heard the announcement that Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber's Whiteout is in development as a major motion picture. Last December it was announced that the comic was set up at Columbia Pictures and was to be produced by Wolfgang Petersen and Gail Katz, both of Radiant Productions (The Perfect Storm).
Looking for an update on the project, Comics 2 Film spoke with Erich Hoeber. Hoeber, along with writing partner and brother Jon Hoeber, wrote and produced 1998's Montana and also worked on the screenplay for the upcoming Dungeons and Dragons. The pair have been hard at work developing the screenplay for Whiteout, which they were instrumental in setting up.
Erich told C2F that he and Jon weren't familiar with the comic when it first came out. However, their agent, Angela Cheng, is also Greg Rucka's agent in Hollywood. Cheng had been trying to get the concept set up with a studio. "She had shown it around town a little bit and it hadn't gotten a terrific response," Hoeber told us. "She gave it to us and we immediately responded to it. We thought, 'this is so obviously a film.' Not just because it has great characterization and great setting (you know the world in this movie and in the comic book is really a character) but also structurally it seemed to be a film."
However, Hollywood wasn't quite prepared for a movie centered around a female hero. "We shopped it all over Hollywood, which was a fairly difficult process. It always is. We literally went to every studio," Hoeber said. "Frankly, it wasn't an obvious sell for a lot of these people. It's obviously a commercial piece, but people had reservations about doing a big studio film with a woman in the leading role. That's something that always comes up. It's not to say anything bad about the studio people. They have to make decisions based upon what's succeeded in the past."
Presently, Hoeber sees that climate changing, citing the box office success of recent movies like Double Jeopardy and Erin Brockovich as examples. On top of that, the pair's Montana features Kyra Sedgwick as the lead protagonist. "Doing female characters is something that we are known for, so it seemed a good fit to Columbia."
Hoeber also praises Rucka and Lieber for realizing such a strong character in the comic's heroine, US Marshal Carrie Stetko. "The character they created has a very clear voice. A lot of times people will come to the work and everybody will find something they like different about it. People, as a result, have different visions of the film, but everybody we've presented this material to sort of bought into the concept of the character those guys created. That's one of its great strengths and it's a credit to both of them."
The Hoeber brothers are also pleased to be working with Petersen and Katz. "The two of them have been wonderful. It's been one of the best experiences with a producer that we've ever had," Hoeber said. "They've proven themselves to be incredibly smart about the material, incredibly open to why this material is different, why it's special, what its unique strengths are, rather than trying to put it into a totally reductive mold. That's always a strength, when people can come to the material with a really clear vision and sense of direction."
With a draft of the screenplay written, the ball is currently out of the Hoeber brothers' hands. "The studio ultimately has to decide to greenlight the movie, which means they decide to spend however many million dollars it takes to make it. In the case of a movie like this one, it's not cheap. It's not a low-budget movie. It's a big studio movie. But we're in great shape to do that. I'm really optimistic about it."
DARKNESS, DARK MINDS, ECHO, SHANG CHI
A source at Chris Lee Productions told Comics2Film that the screenplay for the movie version of Top Cow's The Darkness is moving forward. Chris Morgan as work on the script. The movie is set up at Columbia and Hong Kong action director Andrew Lau is set to direct.
The production company also has a pact with Dreamwave Studios. This pact currently has the Image titles Dark Minds and Echo in development as movies. Music-video director, Kaos is writing a spec script for Echo.
Chris Lee Productions and Marvel are working to set up Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu at New Line. Previous reports indicated that Kaos would also direct this.
Just two weeks ago it was announced that the live action Tick TV show is on Fox's schedule for the next season. Now, New England Comics has published the first post-announcement interview with Ben Edlund, the writer and producer of the show and creator of the character. The interview is presented in both Real Audio and text transcript formats, and is accompanied by 20 set photos from the 9 day shoot.
According to Edlund, he was aided with the writing chores on the pilot by Randolph Heard, Chris McCulloch, and Richard Liebmann-Smith, all veterans of the animated show. Edlund told NEC that the live-action show would slightly shift the focus of the concept. "Well, yeah. I mean one of the keys of live action---well not live action but prime time---is that you really want to humanize the characters to the point where adults can watch a silly superhero show and on some level, connect with the characters there. So Arthur's going to have, I think, a more involved family life."
Fans commented favorably on the look of the big blue character after seeing the publicity photos that were released last week. However, some expressed disappointment over the completely open-faced mask. "Yeah, we actually did make both an open-faced and an actual mask. I mean like the two different versions of the Tick," Edlund explains. "And really what was found was that the mask covers certain really key parts of [star Patrick Warburton's] face: eyebrows, for example---and kind of constricts, because, it would be rubber, you know, a very light rubber, that would almost move with his face. It would be glued on. But, in addition, it gives him a shifty-eyed look. Because you get these blue orbits around his eyes. And every way we sculpted them, it would fix one emotion on his face."
Edlund also said that they contemplated using CGI to animate a set of eyes that followed the look of the cartoon and comic. However, that notion was thwarted by the expense of it and the possibility that the effect (on top of the costumes) would "probably induce seizures and nausea."
Edlund had high praises Warburton, "Patrick was REALLY good. Like he really got into this role. He invested himself and managed to wear this costume for like five days straight, basically, everyday being strapped into this thing. It was really hot. We had to keep the studio chilled in order for him to not collapse. It was a lot of work"
If the show is a success, the comic, cartoon and film creator is contractually obligated to stick with it for two years. In general Edlund seems pleased with the show. "Yes, good, shiny, pretty. It's got stuff in it. It's good, you know. I like it."
Edlund also revealed that Sony now holds the rights for long talked-about animated feature. Edlund discussed how an animated movie might compare or contrast to the animated TV show. "My primary focus now would be trying to figure out how to expand The Tick into another medium," Edlund told NEC. "Because that's been what's kept The Tick interesting, in my opinion. As interesting as one might consider The Tick, for me it's been a very effective passport to move through different media. If it came up [The Animated Movie] there's always a chance that the people who own those rights would want to exploit those rights. And that's all fine, but that's not what I'm concentrating at this point upon."
Check out the complete interview where Edlund talks about how the live-action show came into being, his thoughts about co-producer and director Barry Sonnenfeld, the naming of Captain Liberty, rubbing and his other movie projects like Titan A.E. and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.
Following the posting at NEC, 4-Color Review unveiled a nice treat for Tick fans late last week. The site posted the first video images from the live-action show to be seen on the internet.
A Real Media clip depicts the opening title sequence of the pilot episode. The sequence opens with The Tick (Patrick Warburton) standing vigil over the bus station he has sworn to protect. The hero springs into action aiding a hapless traveler victimized by the "armless bandit" of a malfunctioning coffee vending machine. "Empty your bladder of that bitter black fury men call coffee," The Tick rages.
The remainder of the clip features some typically funny Tick taunts and sets up for his fateful journey into "The City." Although the clip is of low quality (making for a fast download), what we are able to see is quite funny. If its any indication, the show should be hilarious.
Our friends at the 4-Color Review website have provided Comics2Film with a video preview reel from the upcoming Static Shock! animated show. The reel features concept art from the show, partially animated to Eminem and Beastie Boys music. Denys Cowan, director on the show and creator of the character, Allen Burnette, supervising producer of the show, and Scott Jeralds, producer, are also featured in video snippets in which they describe the concept as well as the various characters on the show.
Continuing their string of online video previews the 4-Color Review website told Comics 2 Film that they'll be unveiling the Kids WB! trailer for the animated X-Men: Evolution. In the clip, the show is simply referred to as X-Men.
Like the Static Shock! trailer, this blurb features the show's creators talking about the concepts of the series. Executive producer Dick Ungar tells the audience, "What we want to do with this X-Men is take it to places where it hasn't been before. The X-Men will be teenagers...and they're not only going to confront the difficulties that come from being a mutant. They're going to confront the difficulties of being a teenager."
Producer Boyd Kirkland also provides commentary during the clip.
Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Kitty, Wolverine and Professor X are all shown in the preview. The school, the blackbird and the danger room are also revealed in design sketches.
Corona Coming Attractions reports that super-comic artist Timothy Bradstreet (Punisher) has been asked by director Guillermo del Toro to do conceptual designs for the upcoming Blade sequel. Fans commented that the design work on the original movie seemed to have been inspired by Bradstreet's work on White Wolf's role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade.
Having trouble opening your snail mail? The Wolverine letter opener may be just what the professor ordered. It's just one of several items that will be available to members of the X-Men Collectors Club. The Club, which is a promotional tie-in to the upcoming movie, just opened a preview version of its website. Mutants will be allowed to register in the near future.
In other X-Men news, the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly reports that fans are running with the Senator Kelly campaign concocted for the X-Men movie. In addition to the Mutant Watch 2000 site, a TV ad for the fictitious senator's anti-mutant agenda has been running in New York City, L.A. and Washington D.C. Bumper stickers and buttons have also been distributed (but not to C2F).
The article even mentions that X-Men fans have even shown up toting pro-Kelly signs at recent tapings of the Today show. Fox publicist Jeffrey Godsick is quoted as saying, "We got the ball rolling and fans have decided to give it a life of its own."
THE CROW: SALVATION
Irony Despair, webmaster of the super-cool A Boy and His Bird site, sent in this next scoop. According to I.D. The Crow: Slavation will enjoy a June 28th release date in France. Recent rumors have the movie making its U.S. debut later this year.
BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER
Fans eager for the Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker feature will be able to order the script before the movie comes out. Amazon.com is now taking orders for the official screenplay by Paul Dini, which is set to ship September 1. The movie itself is not due out until October of this year.
Thanks to Corona Coming Attractions for the tip.
That script reviewer extraordinaire Stax has focused his latest column on the screenplay for the Sgt. Rock movie. The script was written by Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential). Stax sums up his review as Mixed/Positive and containing minor spoilers.
Sgt. Rock has long been stalled at Silver Pictures where it was developed as a potential Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Recent statements from Silver Pictures indicate there is little activity on this movie.
McFARLANE/SPAWN STORY CORRECTION
Last week's story giving Todd McFarlane's comments on the live-action Spawn sequel and an animated Spawn feature was incorrectly credited to Cinescape. The good folks at Cinescape have informed us that the appropriate credit goes to Mania, as was cited in their write-up.