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

by  in Movie News, TV News Comment
American Splendor, LXG, Fantastic Four and Future Comics: Comics2Film wrap for July 28, 2003


“American Splendor” arrangement leads to new distribution

From a press release:

HBO Films announced last week the launch of the HBO Films theatrical
distribution arm as it entered into an innovative distribution arrangement with
New Line Cinema’s specialized distribution division Fine Line Features. The deal
extends the reach of HBO Films further into the theatrical arena under the HBO
Films banner.

To oversee HBO Films theatrical expansion and the relationship with Fine Line
Features, Home Box Office named Dennis O’Connor as head of HBO Films Domestic
Theatrical 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 been
very well received at film festivals around the world. We feel we can bring
HBO’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. Our
bigger budget event movies will of course continue to be a vital part of the
programming mix available exclusively to HBO subscribers.” Callender
continued, “This is not just another distribution deal. We brought on
Dennis O’Connor to fuse HBO’s in-house marketing expertise with the highly
regarded New Line/Fine Line team to find new and innovative ways to connect
films with their audience.

“Our experience with Fine Line working towards the August 15th release
of ‘American Splendor’ has been so productive that it seemed only logical to
further extend this relationship. Mark Ordesky, Russell Schwartz, Steven
Friedlander and Marian Koltai-Levine are a wonderful team.” He added,
“To guide this venture for HBO Films we have brought on board a skilled and
seasoned executive in Dennis O’Connor. He combines an intimate working knowledge
of the nuts and bolts of distribution with extensive hands on marketing
expertise. We are thrilled to have him on board as part of the HBO Films

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

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

“American Splendor” immerses the viewer in the life and worldview
of underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar: file clerk, working-class
intellectual, obsessive-compulsive collector, and creator of the seminal
autobiographical comic book series “American Splendor.” Written and
directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini and produced by Ted Hope,
the film stars Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis, James Urbaniak, Judah Friedlander and
Madylin Sweeten, and features Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner, Toby Radloff and
Danielle Batone.

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

“American Splendor” and “Elephant” follow HBO Films first
successful foray into the theatrical marketplace — the 2002 release of
“Real Women Have Curves,” 2002 Sundance Audience Prize winner, which
grossed $6 million domestically.

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



Weekend estimates published by Box
Office Mojo
show “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” falling
to seventh place this week amid a competitive summer schedule. The film took in
another $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 that
has delayed the “Madman” movie from getting made, debuted at #1 with a
$32.5 million take. “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life” made its
bow at #4, falling behind Bruckheimer’s “Pirates” and “Bad Boys
II”. “Seabiscuit,” starring “Spider-Man” actor Tobey
Maguire spent its first weekend in the #5 spot.

Having been in theaters for three weeks, “LXG” still performed
better than a few newer movies. “Johnny English” fell behind the comic
flick in the #8 spot where as teen romance “How To Deal” fell all the
way to #12. Both these movies are in their second week of release.



Peyton Reed has bailed out on the “Fantastic Four” movie according
to Ain’t-it-cool-news.
The gossip site got the news directly from Marvel chief Avi Arad, who would not
discuss 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 been
targeted at.



From a press release:

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

Future Comics is headed by three of this industry’s most lauded and colorful
personalities. With careers spanning decades, these veterans have been forging
new and innovative initiatives in the comics industry longer than most of
today’s superstars have been around. And now, for the first time in their
illustrious careers, they’re doing it for themselves. Future Comics is a labor
of love for all three partners. 

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

When developing the concepts that would become Future Comics, each comic
series was specifically tailored to translate easily into film, television or
video games. The business plan from day one was to establish intellectual
properties that would attract the largest possible audience. Clearly this
initiative has worked wonders, as evidenced by the fervor all four properties
are currently causing in Hollywood.

Robert Keyghobad, co-founder of Metrostop Entertainment has said of Future
Comics, “When you spend week after week sifting through hundreds of pieces
of material, in search of an original work that speaks to you, and then to come
across more than one from the same source is really amazing. Future Comics is
not only a producer’s dream, but a screenwriter’s as well. They’re a true
diamond 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, a
unique setting and incredibly complex and dark characters.” 

“Freemind” was the launch vehicle of Future Comics. It’s story of
how paraplegic MacKinsey Flint used his genius and technology to create a fully
functioning android body that he could transfer his mind into as part of his
quest for normalcy has resonated with fans since it’s inception.

“‘Freemind’ is an incredibly cerebral and character driven comic that
reflects the expansion of the human spirit,” says Keyghobad. “I think
it’s a really original comic and that our hero, like Spiderman, is an empathetic
and vulnerable protagonist.”

Future’s second debut was “Metallix,” the story of four adventurers
who share a unique suit of liquid armor. Dubbed the ‘Tag-Team Superhero’, the
members of Team Metallix transfer the one-and-only suit to one another,
depending on the circumstances. Metal X, the ‘smart metal’ that the armor is
comprised 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 Ranger
meets James Bond (with a touch of Star Wars)”. With much of the details
kept under wraps until its debut, Future is building an industry-wide fervor
over this next release.

While “Deathmask” and “Freemind” are paving the way for
Future Comics translation to the film and television mediums, “Metallix”
and “Peacekeeper” are running close behind. It is a staggering
testament to the talents behind Future Comics that every property developed thus
far is in some stage of development toward another medium.



has drawn the winners in our DVD giveaway. 20th
Century Fox provided five copies of the two-disc set. Without further ado, the recipients
of 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+ people
who entered the giveaway.  The
“Daredevil” DVD is due in stores tomorrow. Look for a review of the
DVD later today on CBR.

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