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Comics2Film Wrap for April 22nd, 2003

HAMMER OF THE GODS

The feature film rights for Michael Avon Oeming's comic "Hammer of theGods" has been picked up by Regency Enterprises according to today's HollywoodReporter.

Peter Wortmann and Bob Conte ("Who's Harry Crumb?", "The BlackRock") are set to write the script. The pair will be collecting a mid-sixfigure salary for it.

As Comics2Film reported in January, the movie will deviate from the comicbook significantly, instead following the adventures of a contemporary21-year-old who is fated to save the Norse world in order to keep an evil forcefrom bleeding into the present day.

 

HULK TRAILER

Hulk dogs bite! Puny Banner change into Hulk! Hulk smash puny police car!Hulk smash puny tank! Hulk smash puny helicopter! Hulk do super leap in air justlike comics!

The new trailer for "The Hulk" is online! Check it out at Apple.com.

 

SPIDER-MAN 2

Spider-Mancrews in New York were busy on Easter Sunday shooting in-costume stunt work.Check out this galleryof images on IMDB.com, including some shots of the web-slinger saving AuntMay from God only knows what.

 

HELLBOY

Fans are still itching for that picture of Ron Perlman in "Hellboy"makeup. For now they'll have to settle for a new batch of production stills anddesign illustrations from the movie. Click over to theofficial website.

The site now had design art for the aquatic Abe Sapien, a set called"the Ice Cave" and Grigori's mecha glove. Fans can also get a close-uplook at that grainy image of Hellboy jumping, that appears on a tabloid paper inthe movie, as well as a good shot of Hellboy's big gun. 

In other HB news, a start-of-production press release issued in early March for"Hellboy" named Victoria Smurfit ("Bulletproof Monk") asplaying Ilsa in the movie. However, Comics2Film/CBR News has confirmed thatBiddyHodson will play the role.

CountingDown reported in early February that Hodson ("The Mists ofAvalon") was replacing Smurfit due to scheduling conflicts. The erroneouspress release caused some confusion when Smurfit was again named for the part.

Director Guillermo del Toro told C2F/CBR news that he has alreadyshot scenes with Hodson in the role of the Nazi femme fatale. 

 

SPIDER-MAN

As expected, yesterday Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Judge AlexanderWilliams III lifted the seal on the court documents regarding the Spider-Manlicensing case that Marvel has brought against Sony. Marvel issued the followingpress release in the matter:

A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Monday denied a motion brought by SonyPictures Entertainment to seal proceedings in a lawsuit brought by MarvelCharacters, Inc., a subsidiary of Marvel Enterprises, Inc. concerning Marvel'smost popular hero, Spider-Man. Judge Alexander Williams III ruled Mondayafternoon that all aspects of Marvel's lawsuit will henceforth be entirely opento the press and to the public.

On February 25, 2003, Marvel filed, temporarily under seal, a twelve-countcomplaint against Sony. The lawsuit seeks more than $50 million in damages aswell as rescission of the License Agreement between Marvel and Sony and aninjunction against any further film or television production by Sony ofSpider-Man beyond the current sequel, "Spider-Man 2," which is alreadyin production. Marvel has asked to try its case to a jury.

The suit accuses Sony of fraud and of deliberately misleading Marvel byfailing to disclose its intent to misappropriate Spider-Man for itself to theexclusion of Marvel. Marvel claims that Sony falsely represented that it offeredMarvel unique and unparalleled merchandising opportunities -- unlike any otherpotential partner, but Sony never delivered on its false promises. The suit alsocharges Sony with material breaches of the parties' License Agreement andmerchandising joint venture, and of wrongfully withholding millions of dollarsit owed to Marvel, by using "Hollywood accounting" practices andrefusing to provide critical financial information owed to Marvel.

"Sony's allegations that this dispute arose out of Marvel's allegedlyimproper accounting is completely false," Carole Handler, one of Marvel'sattorneys, stated. "As Marvel's Complaint makes clear, Marvel is owedmillions of dollars by Sony, and the reason for this lawsuit is Sony'sappropriation of the Spider-Man character for itself. Marvel created thepopularity that ensured Sony's box office success and that Marvel Studioscontributed to that success."

Marvel also alleges that Sony engaged in restraints of trade to protect theinterests of affiliates such as Sony Electronics and Sony Interactive. The suitalso charges that Sony ignored contractual arrangements that protected Marvels'ongoing licensing by failing to market movie merchandise only during limited"windows" and by ignoring Marvel's "tie-breaker" rights whendisagreements arose over merchandise licenses.

"We allege that Sony has hijacked Spider-Man to promote and merchandiseother less popular characters," stated Ms. Handler. "Spider-Man is oneof the brightest stars in the Marvel universe. Disregard of Marvel'sintellectual property rights by a major studio cannot be condoned."

If the License Agreement between Sony and Marvel is cancelled, Sony will losethe right to make movies based on Spider-Man after "Spider-Man 2."More important, Sony's opportunity to build a long-running film franchise foritself comparable to the James Bond films (Sony's unsuccessful attempt toacquire that franchise for itself from MGM was defeated in federal court in1998) will be in jeopardy. The first "Spider-Man" grossed $821 millionin worldwide box office receipts and, including its DVD sales, generated morethan $1.3 billion in revenue.

Judge Williams deferred any ruling on Sony's motion to refer the dispute to aprivate judge within the auspices of the court system until more information wasplaced before the Court.

The right to make a movie based on the popular Spider-Man character andstories had been hotly contested in court for years before Sony and Marvelexecuted a License Agreement in 1999 giving Sony the motion picture andtelevision rights to the character.

In the 1990's, six different studios went to court to claim those rights forthemselves. One of those studios was Sony. In January, 1999, another SuperiorCourt Judge, Aurelio Munoz, determined that the motion picture and televisionrights belonged to Marvel.

Marvel's legal representation in this case is led by Carole E. Handler andPierce O'Donnell, O'Donnell & Shaeffer LLP, Los Angeles, California.

 

LXG (BY ANY OTHER NAME)

Last week we picked up on a report which stated that the upcoming"League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" was not undergoing a last minutetitle change (a la "X2: X-Men United"). Cinescapefollowed up on the story both confirming it and also shedding some new light.

Anonymous sources tell Cinescape that the long title will officially stick,but for promotional purposes Fox will start referring to the movie simply as"The League."

 

SABRINA

Varietyreports that The WB Network is pulling the plug on what may have been thelongest-running comic book adaptation for TV. "Sabrina, The TeenageWitch" will see it's last two episodes combined into a one-hour seriesfinale which will air this Thursday.

"Sabrina" enjoyed seven seasons on the air and 163 episodes. Itinitially ran on ABC for four years before moving the The WB in fall of 2000.

Executive producer Paula Hart, mother of the show's star Melissa Joan Hartsaid the cancellation surprised her due to the show's strong performance for thenetwork. She credits the show for being a launching foundation for the net'sother Friday comedies.

Never the less, the storyline for the season finale ties up many loose ends,in anticipation of the series end.

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