When it comes to comic based movies, one of the most prolific production houses is Platinum Studios. Platinum is headed up by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, the driving force behind the Men In Black movie and former publisher at Malibu Comics. Comics 2 Film spoke with Rosenberg and Platinum VP Gregory Noveck about the wide variety of projects they have in production.
Fans have long been anticipating a big-screen version of Prime, the Malibu/Ultraverse muscleman who's literally just a kid at heart. "It's currently being written," Rosenberg told us. I'm executive producing that with Chuck Gordon (Rocketeer, October Sky) producing for Universal." Doug Chamberlain and Chris Webb, who scripted the planned Casper theatrical sequel, are working on the screenplay.
"Not that Casper's the tone of this, by the way. We don't do that," Rosenberg assured us. "It's staying very true to the character in the comic book. So, that's looking good."
Also looking sturdy is Million Dollar Heroes, based on a concept created by Rosenberg. Noveck described the story for us. "It's essentially two comic book creators who are best friends growing up but always very competitive. There's a falling out. They bet each other a million dollars to become the heroes that they've created for the next 30 days. Whoever solves the most crimes, busts the most criminals, over the 30 days wins the million bucks and gets to kill the other guy's character in the pages of the comic book.
"What they don't realize and what they come to realize very quickly is that, what looks really cool and awesome and amazing in the pages of the comic book may be woefully impractical in real life.
"So, there'll be scenes of one character whose like sort of a big tech guy with all this gear and armor and all that stuff. His name'sGear Head. He puts it all on and he just tips over."
The screenplay for this project is in the early draft stages and currently being written by fan-favorite Paul Dini (Batman Beyond). Michael De Luca at New Line is firmly behind the project as well. "What's nice about it is De Luca and Brian Witten, both over at New Line, are working with us on it," Rosenberg explained. "We actually set it up kind of in a strange manner. We didn't pitch it. We were just in the middle of a casual get-together with Mike and we were just talking about some of the things we were working on. He fell in love with it. He essentially said, 'I'm buying it, you're not talking to anyone.'"
Mining the world of European comics led the pair to Nathan Never, a futuristic cop concept. The movie is being written by Walter Beck and Peter Nelson, who collaborated on the upcoming film Buying the Cow. "Nathan Never's at Dreamworks. The Tone of the movie is 48 Hours in the future," Rosenberg told Comics2Film.
Noveck expanded on the concept, "It's definitely a buddy action movie with Nathan being a late 21st century maverick cop. He's a throwback to the 20th century. The future is high-tech. It's not the dystopia of Blade Runner. It's a little more like today just extrapolated. He thinks that all this technology sort of dehumanizes people. He'd rather wear a 45 than a blaster."
Prime, Million Dollar Heroes and Nathan Never are just three of many concepts in the works at Platinum. Tune in next week for more interesting revelations from Rosenberg and Noveck.
MAI: THE PSYCHIC GIRL
Comics 2 Film checked in with No Prisoners, Todd Moyer's production company, about the long in-development Mai: The Psychic Girl. We asked if the project is still in active development.
"More than that," We were told by a representative of No Prisoners. "Sony Family Entertainment will be making that picture."
According to our source SFE is trying to fast-track the movie, which currently has a script by Larry Wilson (Ash). The studio is actively seeking a director for the project with an eye towards a 2000 production start.
Todd Moyer was a producer on several comic-based movies in the early and mid-90's, including The Mask, Time Cop and Barb Wire. He's been working for several years to bring Mai to the big screen. No other names are currently attached to the project.
HEAVY METAL TV
Heavy Metal publisher Kevin Eastman told Comics 2 Film that there are still plans for a Heavy Metal TV show in the works, but the concept may be a bit different than what has been previously reported. "Larry Kasanoff of Threshold Entertainment, (producer of True Lies, Mortal Kombat) wanted to do a live action TV show called Heavy Metal," Eastman explained. "We kicked around a bunch of ideas." One of the ideas was to have former wrestler Rena Mero star in the show.
However, at this point there have been no takers on the concept. Eastman assures us that he and Kasanoff will be developing some different ideas for the show. They plan to make another run at pitching it later this year.
STATIC SHOCK! AND X-MEN: EVOLUTION
Steve Gerding at the 4-Color Review website sent a special gift over for Comics 2 Film readers. 4CR recently ran a preview of the new animated shows on the Kids WB! schedule. Among the images are two that are likely to be of interest to C2F readers. The first image is from the upcoming Static Shock! show. The other is from the X-Men: Evolution animated program. In both cases, character designs have been altered from the comic book source material...but they still look pretty cool. Check out 4CR for the complete WB preview.
Speaking of Static, Comics Buyer's Guide reports that a revival of the late, lamented Milestone comic line is in the near future. Michael Doran and Matt Brady's Scouting Report column features some insights from Milestone founder Dwayne McDuffie. McDuffie reports that a four-issue series called Static Shock! Rebirth of the Cool will coincide with the animated program. Original Static artist John Paul Leon (Earth X) will return to pencil and ink the series. If the new comic attracts enough readers, it could mean a return to publishing for Milestone.
And speaking of X-Men: Evolution, a report from Matt Brady appearing on Mania's Daily Buzz page indicates that the much-discussed animated show may actually be in jeopardy.
According to an unnamed source, the show has gone through numerous format changes (between CGI and traditional animation). Furthermore, the original intention was for the show to be a sequel to the movie, not the prequel concept that's been recently discussed. According to the article, another sticking point is said to be that the Kids WB! take on the show would target a younger crowd, and the execs involved are concerned about the Wolverine character's impact on such an audience.
Finally, the article states that these concerns place the show's fall debut in question.
Hugh Jackman, who plays Wolverine in the X-Men movie, talked to fans via an online chat at the Official X-Men Website last Wednesday. The transcript from the chat is now available at that site. Here are some interesting excerpts from the chat.
Regarding the pressure of playing a character so revered by so many fans: "I always thought of an actor that to play someone alive and famous was the greatest challenge. But now I know otherwise. Yes, it was daunting. And at the same time, quite an honor."
Regarding what interested him in the part: "I didn't know the X-Men growing up in Australia, even though there are a lot of fans there. However, I didn't really know Wolverine at all. But reading the script, regardless of the comic strip...was too good to turn down. Also, Bryan singer as a director and the fantastic cast...made it so there wasn't even a choice."
Regarding working with Ian McKellan (Magneto) and Patrick Stewart (Professor X): "They're two of the greatest actors alive today. And I knew of their work as Shakespearean actors from years ago. To actually work with them, I had to kind of forget that I was a little bit in awe and remember that as Wolverine, I couldn't give a stuff who they were. There was one scene with Patrick where he was showing my character around the school...and it finished with a long monologue about why the school existed. And, the director let him do the scene 6 times. It took about a minute and a half long, and after the 6th tape.. I thought each one was so brilliant and different...'Why would he have him do it again?' Then, Brian said I want one more.... Not because he needed one more...it was just because they were all so brilliant, I wanted to make sure it wasn't a fluke! He was amazing."
Regarding the special effects behind Wolverine's Claws: "When the claws are retracted, or coming out, they're an element of CGI. For shots when they START out and FINISH out, they're real. Hard metal. And I have the scars to prove it: one on my forehead, one on my knee, one on the Mystique double's arm...On the trailer, the extreme close-up of my eye and the claws coming out is all real. It's a constructed arm with claws extending."
Regarding Jackman's own combat abilities and how it effected his character: "I do have a stunt double for some things, when you see the movie you'll see the double back flip...landing on his face.
"But I did as much as my body could handle. I've done a lot of fights before on stage, and in movies...so I've had quite a lot of training. I even have a Stage Combat certificate somewhere. But we did a lot of training in the specific style in which Wolverine would fight. We wanted him to have his own style, and the closest I can liken it to is a street fighters. Not pretty, but effective. Much like how Mike Tyson exploded in the boxing circuit...that's the spirit of Wolverine."
Regarding dance-partner Tyler Mane: "Tyler Mane, who played Sabretooth, was amazing. He actually had done 11 years of professional wrestling. What was incredible was how he'd punch and kick...he'd JUST hit me each time. It was uncanny. He was quite the pro."
Regarding the comics as source materials: "I read a lot of the comics when I first got cast. Which admittedly was quite late. They'd even already started shooting by then. I drew a lot of inspiration from the artwork itself, which I just found to be so expressive and economical and smart. And finding wolverine's physicality was easier after reading them. Things like the tilt of a head, or positions during fighting...arm positions. I found it fantastic. A lot of his history in the comics filled out the reasons why he is like he is. Which does get explored in the movie.
"I also rejected the nude scenes in the snow. It looked great in the drawings but at -46 degrees, no thanks. I can't really remember rejecting anything else. I even brought in the occasional 'bub', but hopefully they'll be more than 1 X-Men movie, so we can explore quite a lot."
Regarding Wolverine's healing factor: "Put it this way, Full Face healing happens...and then later, from the major fight....with Sabretooth...my healing factors really come into play. Heavily."
Regarding director Bryan Singer: "Bryan was just fantastic. He's something of a genius. Very exact about what he wants. Very smart and intellectual, and never compromised the integrity of the script and series. The film is never 2 dimensional. It's never stereotypical. The characters are well thought out ,and he insisted on 150 % commitment and development. It HAD to be that way. And he pushed everyone of us.
"He was wonderful to work with. The beauty of working with Bryan is that his films always are smart and they make sense, regardless of special effects. So when I saw cut footage of certain scenes with green screen and some F/X not even there, it was still interesting and fantastic, brilliant to watch. So I can only imagine what it will be like with the special effects at the end."
At the end of the chat Jackman promised to do another one when the movie comes out. The moderator of the chat also told fans that Ray Park, who plays Toad, and the Production Designers for the movie will be chatting at the website some time in May.
The Coming Soon! website has scored a piece of production artwork from the X-Men movie. That website has unveiled a 4 second animatic video which provides an animated story board for the movie. The segment shown is a brief cut of the Statue of Liberty battle scene between Wolverine and Sabretooth.
At the time of this writing, the Coming Soon! site was working on their server and we couldn't see the clip. However, the X-Fan website is also displaying the animatic (which is where we saw it in the first place).
Following up on the Metallica news from earlier in the week, Dark Horizons ran a report from an anonymous source. The source informed DH that previous reports about Metallica member Lars Ulrich being in talks to be a music supervisor on X-Men were true. However, Fox did not reach an agreement with Ulrich. Finally, the unnamed source tells Dark Horizons that, although Kamen may have talked to Metallica about doing a song for the movie, it isn't going to happen.
However, sources for Rob Allstetter's Comics Continuum tell a different story. This (also unnamed) source, who is said to be close to the movie, claims a Metallica song on the soundtrack is still a possibility.
Finally, we have more merchandising news from X-Fan. Their recent report on Marvel themed video games indicates that the upcoming X-Men game will have loose ties to the movie. X-Fan cites the Happy Puppy game site as their source.
Marvel Interactive V.P. of consumer products, Nancyanne Volpe made these comments about the game, "The first game will be X-Men: Mutant Academy. That`s coming out in June. It has elements from the movie, but it`s not completely movie. It really is training to become a member of the X-Men. You train in the Xavier School`s Danger Room. It will be available on all platforms including PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and Game Boy."
The training provided in the Academy will server gamers well. Volpe told Happy Puppy that a follow-up game called X-Men: Mutant War will debut in November. "That will be an action-adventure game where you can use the characters you developed from Mutant Academy. That will be tied in with the home video release of the movie."
Still More X-MEN
Cinescape ran a report on recent comments made by Tom Rothman of 20th Century Fox regarding the X-Men movie. Citing a Hollywood Reporter article by Martin Grove, Cinescape reports that Rothman said of the movie's chances for success, "The reason that X-Men has been the largest-selling comic book in the world for almost two decades is the themes within it. It's for that reason that we believe -- and I've seen the picture - that… X-Men moves the bar forward in terms of what the sci-fi experience has been. It's not a traditional comic book movie in that way. It's very thematic, very resonant. It's character driven, at the same time being very exciting. For that reason, we look at it as a broadly playable science fiction action adventure experience. And it's a PG-13 movie. So it should have playability across a broad, broad age and sex range."
Rothman goes on to talk about the concepts appeal, "The reason it always appeals to people is it deals with very real themes because every person from eight to 80 has felt at some time alone and separate. So it has a very strong character base."
The Counting Down website heard from X-Men producer Tom DeSanto about the movie. According to that site, DeSanto told them there will be no soundtrack CD for the movie.
Fans eager to see the theater lobby banners that are set to adorn showings of the upcoming X-Men movie need look no further than the Cinemenium website. That site is displaying nine of the reported ten banners that have been shipped to film houses throughout the country.
Need more X-Men eye candy? The Wizard website has a few new stills including a dramatic shot of Wolverine, claws extended, as well as a close-up of Rogue sporting you-know-what.
Meanwhile, our old pal Stax kicked off his new IGN column The Stax Report with an exclusive review of the X-Men final shooting script.
You say it's toys that you want? Toysrus.com announced that it has formed a partnership with 20th Century Fox and Marvel Enterprises, Inc. and Toy Biz to launch Marvel's X-Men Official Online Store. The store premiered May 1st and carries a range of X-Men licensed products including collectible action figures from Toy Biz.
Thanks to Bloodfang, Catseye and Justin Ferrell for the tips!
A little over a week an internet buzz began indicating that the Fantastic Four movie may be showing signs of moving forward. Additional reports this week seem to support the notion that a Fantastic Four flick may be in our near-future.
On Friday, Daily Variety reported on a major television development deal for FF producer Chris Columbus. The article states that several Columbus films are to be released by 20th Century Fox over the next year. The projects named are Monkeybone, The Interpreter and Fantastic Four.
Meanwhile, syndicated columnist Cindy Pearlman interviewed director Raja Gosnell for her new Cin City at the Cinescape website. Gosnell has long been attached as the director of Fantastic Four. "It's in the future," Gosnell told Pearlma about the movie. "It's such a big project that we're really taking the time to get it right."
Comments from Chris Columbus about the movie will be found in the May/June issue of Cinescape magazine.
Patrick Sauriol's Trailers column in the recent 105th issue of Wizard magazine reveals new details about the movie version of Alley Baggett's comic heroine Alley Cat. According to the report, the movie is in production with Mindfire Productions and is set to film in New Orleans this August. Matt Hawkins, who writes the comic, is penning the script. The movie will be directed by Greg Aronowitz whose done special effects work for The Lost World: Jurassic Park among others.
THE CROW: SALVATION
Fans interested in discussing the upcoming sequel The Crow: Salvation may now do so at the Crow website. The Crow Community Forum has areas for discussing The Crow in all its movie, TV, comic and musical incarnations.