American Splendor, LXG, Fantastic Four and Future Comics: Comics2Film wrap for July 28, 2003


"American Splendor" arrangement leads to new distributionoutlet. 

From a press release:

HBO Films announced last week the launch of the HBO Films theatricaldistribution arm as it entered into an innovative distribution arrangement withNew Line Cinema's specialized distribution division Fine Line Features. The dealextends the reach of HBO Films further into the theatrical arena under the HBOFilms banner.

To oversee HBO Films theatrical expansion and the relationship with Fine LineFeatures, Home Box Office named Dennis O'Connor as head of HBO Films DomesticTheatrical Releasing.

In making the announcement, Colin Callender, president, HBO Films, said,"Over the last couple years we have had a number of movies which have beenvery well received at film festivals around the world. We feel we can bringHBO's unique marketing and promotional skills to help some of these movies,which rely on word of mouth, find an audience in the theatrical marketplace. Ourbigger budget event movies will of course continue to be a vital part of theprogramming mix available exclusively to HBO subscribers." Callendercontinued, "This is not just another distribution deal. We brought onDennis O'Connor to fuse HBO's in-house marketing expertise with the highlyregarded New Line/Fine Line team to find new and innovative ways to connectfilms with their audience.

"Our experience with Fine Line working towards the August 15th releaseof 'American Splendor' has been so productive that it seemed only logical tofurther extend this relationship. Mark Ordesky, Russell Schwartz, StevenFriedlander and Marian Koltai-Levine are a wonderful team." He added,"To guide this venture for HBO Films we have brought on board a skilled andseasoned executive in Dennis O'Connor. He combines an intimate working knowledgeof the nuts and bolts of distribution with extensive hands on marketingexpertise. We are thrilled to have him on board as part of the HBO Filmsteam."

"In a short span, HBO Films has created some of the most widely praisedand memorable movies on the indie scene," said Mark Ordesky, President,Fine Line Features. "We look forward to combining our strengths to providea bold, innovative, and supportive platform for their filmmakers."

The first two HBO Films to be released under the Fine Line Featuresarrangement will be "American Splendor", scheduled for August 15,winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and awarded the International FilmCritics Association Award at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, and Gus Van Sant's"Elephant," scheduled for October 24, winner of the Palme d'Or andBest Director at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival.

"American Splendor" immerses the viewer in the life and worldviewof underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar: file clerk, working-classintellectual, obsessive-compulsive collector, and creator of the seminalautobiographical comic book series "American Splendor." Written anddirected by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini and produced by Ted Hope,the film stars Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis, James Urbaniak, Judah Friedlander andMadylin Sweeten, and features Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner, Toby Radloff andDanielle Batone.

In "Elephant," Gus Van Sant takes us inside an American highschool, working with actual high school students to create a powerful portraitof teenagers in today's volatile world. The story unfolds on an ordinary schoolday, filled with class work, football, gossip and socializing. For each of thestudents, high school is a different experience: stimulating, friendly,traumatic, lonely, hard. Diane Keaton and Bill Robinson executive produce; DanyWolf produces.

"American Splendor" and "Elephant" follow HBO Films firstsuccessful foray into the theatrical marketplace -- the 2002 release of"Real Women Have Curves," 2002 Sundance Audience Prize winner, whichgrossed $6 million domestically.

At this year's Cannes Film Festival HBO Films unveiled the launch of HBOFILMS London, a foreign sales company based in London run by Joint ManagingDirectors Rosa Bosch and Penny Wolf, which will handle the sale of all HBO Filmsin all media in the rest of the world. This latest development provides HBOFilms with the capacity to release its films theatrically worldwide.



Weekend estimates published by BoxOffice Mojo show "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" fallingto seventh place this week amid a competitive summer schedule. The film took inanother $4.9 million, bringing it's domestic total to $52.7 million.

Three major new releases helped push "LXG" down the charts."Spy Kids 3D: Game Over," the third installment of the franchise thathas delayed the "Madman" movie from getting made, debuted at #1 with a$32.5 million take. "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life" made itsbow at #4, falling behind Bruckheimer's "Pirates" and "Bad BoysII". "Seabiscuit," starring "Spider-Man" actor TobeyMaguire spent its first weekend in the #5 spot.

Having been in theaters for three weeks, "LXG" still performedbetter than a few newer movies. "Johnny English" fell behind the comicflick in the #8 spot where as teen romance "How To Deal" fell all theway to #12. Both these movies are in their second week of release.



Peyton Reed has bailed out on the "Fantastic Four" movie accordingto Ain't-it-cool-news.The gossip site got the news directly from Marvel chief Avi Arad, who would notdiscuss why the director left, but simply confirms that Reed is off the project.

Arad indicated that a new director would be hired in August or September.This does not bode well for the December 2004 release the movie has beentargeted at.



From a press release:

Less than a year from their publishing debut, the Future Comics propertieshave attracted the eye of some of the top names in Hollywood. As such, FutureComics' principals Bob Layton, David Michelinie and Dick Giordano haveestablished a relationship with Metrostop Entertainment and D-No Entertainmentto bring these exciting characters to the big screen, and possibly even thesmall screen.

Future Comics is headed by three of this industry's most lauded and colorfulpersonalities. With careers spanning decades, these veterans have been forgingnew and innovative initiatives in the comics industry longer than most oftoday's superstars have been around. And now, for the first time in theirillustrious careers, they're doing it for themselves. Future Comics is a laborof love for all three partners. 

Bob Layton, President of Future Comics, said of this new Hollywoodconnection: "We got off to a shaky start in Hollywood, by hooking up withthe wrong type of representation for our needs. I have every confidence that theproducers at Metrostop & D-No, with their impressive list of credits, willhave no problem bringing the Future Comics Universe to the screen."

When developing the concepts that would become Future Comics, each comicseries was specifically tailored to translate easily into film, television orvideo games. The business plan from day one was to establish intellectualproperties that would attract the largest possible audience. Clearly thisinitiative has worked wonders, as evidenced by the fervor all four propertiesare currently causing in Hollywood.

Robert Keyghobad, co-founder of Metrostop Entertainment has said of FutureComics, "When you spend week after week sifting through hundreds of piecesof material, in search of an original work that speaks to you, and then to comeacross more than one from the same source is really amazing. Future Comics isnot only a producer's dream, but a screenwriter's as well. They're a truediamond in the rough."

The two Future properties leading the charge in Hollywood are "Deathmask"and "Freemind." 

Of "Deathmask," Keyghobad says, "Unlike most comics, 'Deathmask'is more than your traditional story of good vs. evil. It's filled with magic, aunique setting and incredibly complex and dark characters." 

"Freemind" was the launch vehicle of Future Comics. It's story ofhow paraplegic MacKinsey Flint used his genius and technology to create a fullyfunctioning android body that he could transfer his mind into as part of hisquest for normalcy has resonated with fans since it's inception.

"'Freemind' is an incredibly cerebral and character driven comic thatreflects the expansion of the human spirit," says Keyghobad. "I thinkit's a really original comic and that our hero, like Spiderman, is an empatheticand vulnerable protagonist."

Future's second debut was "Metallix," the story of four adventurerswho share a unique suit of liquid armor. Dubbed the 'Tag-Team Superhero', themembers of Team Metallix transfer the one-and-only suit to one another,depending on the circumstances. Metal X, the 'smart metal' that the armor iscomprised of, enhances each wearer's own natural abilities. "Metallix"contains the same unique slant that made Layton and Michelinie's run on Marvel's"Iron Man" THE definitive version of that character.

"Peacekeeper" could best be described as "The Lone Rangermeets James Bond (with a touch of Star Wars)". With much of the detailskept under wraps until its debut, Future is building an industry-wide fervorover this next release.

While "Deathmask" and "Freemind" are paving the way forFuture Comics translation to the film and television mediums, "Metallix"and "Peacekeeper" are running close behind. It is a staggeringtestament to the talents behind Future Comics that every property developed thusfar is in some stage of development toward another medium.



Comics2Filmhas drawn the winners in our DVD giveaway. 20thCentury Fox provided five copies of the two-disc set. Without further ado, the recipientsof those free DD DVDs are:

Chris P of Cary, NC

Michael D of Methuen, MA

Craig S of Wheeling, IL

Matt B of Memphis, TN

Ted H of Madison, MS

Thanks to Fox for providing the prizes and to the 2200+ peoplewho entered the giveaway.  The"Daredevil" DVD is due in stores tomorrow. Look for a review of theDVD later today on CBR.

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