Thursday, August 31, 2006

RIP Glenn Ford (1916-2006)

Another Hollywood great is gone..

Actor Glenn Ford has passed away at the age of 90.

According to AP writer Bob Thomas:

On Wednesday, the 90-year-old actor who starred in movies such as "The Blackboard Jungle," "Gilda" and "The Big Heat" was found dead in his home, police said. A cause of death was not given, though Ford suffered a series of strokes in the 1990s.Ford appeared in scores of films during his 53-year Hollywood career.

As for me, his role as Jonathan Kent, in the original Superman film will always be with me. He was perfectly cast in the film--bringing the character to life with such an all American feel that it was if Norman Rockwell was there on set coaching him.

The first time I saw him in the groundbreaking drama Blackboard Jungle (1955), as Richard Dadier, was in film school. Wow! He is amazing in that film! A must see for sure!!

Shockingly, despite a long career in Hollywood, and great roles, he never was even nominated for an OSCAR! Can you believe that? He did win a Golden Globe though, in 1961 as best actor for Pocketful of Miracles . In 1963 Ford played Tom Corbett in the comedy The Courtship of Eddie's Father. The premise of which was adapted for TV from 1969-1972. Ford later headlined a schlock horror film from '81, called Happy Birthday to Me--where he elevated the material--making it a true guilty pleasure. Speaking of which, he also showed up on TV's Circus of the Stars #12 (remember those?) What were they thinking?

Failing health meant Ford missed a 90th birthday tribute on May 1st at Hollywood's Grauman's Egyptian Theatre.

But he did send greetings via video, saying:

"I wish I were up and around, but I'm doing the best that I can. There's so much I have to be grateful for."

At the event, actress Shirley Jones, who co-starred with him in "Courtship", called Ford:

" of the cornerstones of our industry, and there aren't many left."

For more on this class act, read the rest of the AP tribute...

RIP Joseph Stefano (1922-2006)

His name may not be instantly recognizable, but I would say even with that, you probably know the work of Hollywood writer Joseph Stefano anyway. Sadly, he has passed away at the age of 84, from a heart attack.

A native of Philadelphia, he was a prolific writer at the dawn of the TV medium in the 50's, finding work wherever he could. But Stefano skyrocketed to fame as the screenwriter of Alfred Hitchcock's directorial masterpiece Psycho (1960). In fact, the script was so good that the team behind the 1998 remake asked him to update his work for the modern version. After Psycho hit it big, he took a job as a writer/producer on the first season of the sci-fi anthology series "The Outer Limits" penning some of the best segments of the show. He would come back for the 90's revival as writer for 2 episodes.

He even came into the world of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and helped to concoct Skin of Evil, a late first season episode, that saw the death of a major character. In 1990, Stefano returned to a certain motel to pen Psycho IV: The Beginning--a cable movie prequel that looked at how Norman Bates turned into a murderer.

He will be missed...

For more on Stefano, read The Los Angeles Times obituary

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bats On The Brain

The casting rumors that surround the forthcoming Batman Begins sequel, The Dark Knight, have been coming fast and furious in the last month or so...

Director Christopher Nolan addressed the validity of those rumors and what we can expect from TDK on the whole at an informal Internet website press event for his latest film--The Prestige (which looks great by the way).

From IESB/The Movie Reporter:

In the midst of all the Prestige talk, we were able to get him to talk a bit about the highly anticipated Batman sequel.

Q: Looking at Batman Begins now, were you surprised or was that the reaction you were expecting to get?

CN: I was very surprised for the simple reason that I felt that we really put our hearts into making a great film and I felt that on our own terms we had succeeded but I never never really expected to satisfy critics and fans, you know Batman fans, and regular audiences equally. I mean I thought maybe we'd get two points of the triangle but the fact that all three groups seem to respond well, that was a big surprise. It felt like you were going to lose one aspect of that somewhere along the line. But, I don't know, we were very fortunate in that regard.

Q: Because the formula works so well is that something that you were looking to do for The Dark Knight?

CN: I think, what people responded to most about Batman Begins is how different it was from their expectations. So I think we would be foolish to not recognize that and attempt to do something very different in the sequel. I certainly wouldn't have, you know, any interest in somewhat trying to repeat the experience that the film already made because I think, particularly being an origin story, it's a very unique thing very singular. My interest in the sequel is to move on from there and do something quite different.

Q: Since you did the origin story, it frees you up from doing the whole introduction, so are you expecting to do a whole lot more action the second time around?

CN: Um, I mean we certainly put a lot of action into Batman Begins through the film even though it didn't involve Batman until 50 minutes in or whatever. So certainly we are free to put Batman into action earlier on. But if you look at the, I mean the rhythm of action movies is very complicated because there is a limit actually to how much action is in the film, how you have to have a particular ebb and flow to what actually works and Batman Begins is pretty stuffed to be honest. But, it didn't all get to involve that character, Bruce Wayne was Batman because of the origin and that we don't have to do.

Q: Any truth to the rumors of Ryan Phillippe or Phillip Seymore Hoffman?

CN: (Laughing) As the penguin, no, not true.

Q: Sean Penn?

CN: No truth, no truth to any of those rumors. All interesting ideas though...

So there you have it folks, straight from the horses mouth...

The Dark Knight is set for release in June 2008.

I'd still like to see Ryan Phillippe take a crack at the Harvey Dent role...

Meanwhile, The Prestige, starring a cast that includes Hugh Jackman, Batman himself Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Andy Serkis (who played Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, Piper Perabo and David Bowie, opens on Oct. 20th.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Deal Me In

The status of three lucrative film franchises are making news from all corners of moviedom.

First up, offers up a strange twist in the ongoing saga of Tom Cruise and Paramount Pictures:

Crazy as it may sound all things are not lost for Mission Impossible fans. With the recent breakup up between Cruise Wagner Productions and Paramount one would think that the franchise would be forever lost, but that is not the case.

Studio head Brad Grey has gone on record saying that he believes that Tom Cruise is a great actor and that he believes that he will work once again with him. Paula Wagner also has gone on record saying that “she would consider making a fourth "Mission"—at Paramount. "If it's the right script, why not?."

The L.A. Times is reporting that “Tom Cruise has cut a deal with a group that includes the owner of the
Washington Redskins to finance the overhead costs of his film production company, sources close to the negotiations said today. Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder, chairman of Six Flags Inc., is said to be a leading investor in an agreement that would give Cruise less than $3 million annually to finance staff and office expenses. In exchange, Snyder and the others will have the ability to finance movies developed by Cruise and his producing partner, Paula Wagner.

The two-year deal gives Cruise less than the $3 million a year that he reportedly turned down from Paramount Pictures to renew his longtime deal with the studio that expires Thursday. Cruise and Wagner had been receiving an estimated $10 million annually from Paramount to cover their overhead under the soon to be expired deal.”

I knew someone would come along and sign a deal with Cruise/Wagner Productions...I just didn't expect the broker to be tied into a sports team of all things. Strange bedfellows indeed--but O.K.

The Star Trek fansite TrekWeb had this interesting little blurb concerning Star Trek XI:

The search for Spock is on again, as it becomes evident that JJ Abrams' Star Trek story shall focus on younger versions of the original crew.

With the Canadian Fan Expo nigh, the Ottawa Sun made a call to Leonard Nimoy, who joked about having to write a sequel to his I Am Not Spock and I Am Spock books.

"My next title should be I Am Not Necessarily Spock," laughed Nimoy as he considers that his signature character may be played by another actor, one who might need blessings from the archetype (story).

Having received a call from Paramount, Nimoy now speculates about his participation in the next Star Trek film, suggesting that he may be willing to come out of retirement to reprise his Vulcan persona.

"The head of production at Paramount called my agency to tell them about this project and they are aware of [William Shatner]'s and my contribution to the franchise," Nimoy explains, "and they'd like us to know they might want some involvement. It was all very, very general.

"They might possibly want Bill and I to set up the story as a flashback. But that's just conjecture on my part."

If I'm not mistaken, at one time anyway, both Shatner and Nimoy had it written into their contracts to have final casting approval during the time of the original series flicks. The "courtesy" call sounds like an offshoot of such a clause. No matter what the studio's reason for such a call happens to be--I think it's a good idea and the proper thing to do. After all, who knows Kirk and Spock better than Shatner and Nimoy, with the exception of maybe Trek's late creator Gene Roddenberry (1921-1991)?

And finally, Pamela McClintock of Variety reports that all signs are, that Legendary Pictures will once again team up with Warner Bros., and help to finance the Superman sequel.

If Legendary is unnerved, it isn't showing. Like Warners, Legendary insists it will turn a profit on "Superman Returns," and has given all indications that it's on deck to co-finance a sequel.

Like Legendary, all the funds [mentioned in the article] argue that they won't be made, or broken, by just one pic. By investing in a slate of pics over the course of several years, they're virtually guaranteed a return of 10%.

For more on this story, read the complete article here...

I wish I could be "guaranteed a return of 10%" for every "deal" I make--given that the Warner/Legendary partnership also yielded a bigger box office dud called Lady in the Water. Glub__Glub!...

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Invincible Man

As predicted, Invincible, recorded a win during this weekend's box office match-up. I am planning to see the movie sometime this afternoon. Look for an official Last Reel review to be posted in the next few days...

In the meantime, Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo wrote this in his Weekend Report:

Rookie 'Invincible' scored a solid estimated $17 million, while 'Little Miss Sunshine [placing 3rd with $7.5 million],' and 'The Illusionist' [at #14 with $1.8 million] successfully expanded and 'Snakes On A Plane' [#9 with $5.8] tumbled...

Here's Gray's full report...

Ben Fritz of Variety offers his own playbook to crunch the numbers

In Touch Down for "Invincible" Entertainment Weekly cinema guru, Joshua Rich said this:

Marky Mark is back in play with "Invincible", "Little Miss Sunshine" holds on tight, and frat boys come in small numbers to cheer on "Beerfest" [at #4 with $7 million in ticket sales]

I can't end today's post without taking time to congratulate actor Kiefer Sutherland and director Jon Cassar for taking home Emmy Awards during last night's telecast for their work on the Fox-TV drama 24 My favorite series also won as Best Drama for the 05/06 season. It's about time!! Way to go!! (I know this is a movie blog...But hey 24 is a very cinematic show right?)

Sutherland as CTU Agent Jack Bauer on "24"

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Shock And "Call"

Reaction among industry heavyweights over the recent split between Tom Cruise and Paramount Pictures has proven to be...interesting:

From Friday's World Entertainment News Network column

Spielberg "Stunned" by Paramount's Cruise Decision

Hollywood filmmaker Steven Spielberg insists he had no prior knowledge of Paramount's decision to end their partnership with...Cruise, declaring he was stunned by the news.

Spielberg's Dreamworks company is owned by Paramount Pictures and has directed Cruise in Minority Report and War of the Worlds. Spielberg also owns the talent firm Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which represents Cruise. When Sumner Redstone, the chairman of Viacom - Paramount's parent company - announced the studios would not be renewing Cruise's 14-year production deal due to his "recent conduct," Internet gossips claimed Spielberg was aware of the decision.

However, his spokesman Marvin Levy tells the New York Daily News, "Steven had no advance knowledge of Sumner Redstone's position. The story broke when Steven was on an airplane. He found out when the plane landed." Spielberg's producing partner Kathleen Kennedy has lashed out at reports the director was unhappy with Cruise's behaviour during the War Of The Worlds publicity campaign last year, when he indulged in public displays of affection with fiancee Katie Holmes on red carpets all over the world. Kennedy says, "It's not true. Tom was a consummate professional. He's done nothing wrong."

I believe Speilberg, when he says he had no prior knowledge, of Redstone's decision. As chief of Viacom Redstone doesn't need to report to Speilberg for anything...

Studio Briefing had this:

Were Grazer's Congratulations To Redstone Really In Order?

Producer Brian Grazer is reportedly contradicting statements by...Redstone that he phoned Redstone to congratulate him on decision to break off ties with Cruise's production company.

L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke, citing a Grazer intimate (Grazer, she said, is on vacation and could not be reached), reported Thursday that Grazer had merely phoned Redstone "to ask what's going on."Finke's source added that "anyone would be shocked to see a private phone call ever discussed publicly, much less reported in The New York Times."

Meanwhile, Paramount chief Brad Grey and Viacom CEO Tom Freston remained conspicuously silent on Redstone's critical remarks about Cruise... [Friday's] New York Post quoted an unnamed studio executive as saying that Redstone "chopped his management off at the knees" and "showed no confidence" in either.

Patrick Goldstein of The Los Angeles Times wonders if Grey is Redstone's real target in all of this... After reading the Big Picture Extra--you may begin to think of the canning of Cruise as a small part of a larger plan for the company...?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Truth, Justice, And Marriage

Cinema Stew is back! On today's menu--Kryptonian Cuisine--Yummy!

We start things off with this--A new controversy surrounding Superman Returns has published an article revealing that the Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU) has taken aim at Warner Bros. for advertising the film during shows aimed at children.

In part, the article reads:

CARU, the self-regulatory ad industry monitoring panel, says Superman Returns, which has a PG-13 rating for action violence, should not have been advertised in kids shows before 8:30 at night on Cartoon Network because, it said, that would "create an interest in the film by the child audience and send an implicit message that the film is. appropriate for all children."

CARU has previously cited several PG-13 films advertised in kids programming, and with Wednesday's decision sent the message that it believes such a move clearly violates its guidelines. "By airing PG-13 rated films during children's programming, the advertiser is substituting its judgment for that of the parents," CARU said.

Warner Brothers asserts that "a PG-13 rating does not mean that children under age 13 should not see a film or are barred from seeing it without a parent and therefore airing the commercial during children's programming is consistent with the self-regulatory guidelines for children's advertising."

Read the complete article at the Broadcasting Cable website.

Better late than never, eh?

How ridiculous is this? Forgetting that the film is now heading out of theaters--awaiting a release date on DVD--compared to most of this Summer's other PG-13 rated fare SR was pretty mild. I have always said that it's up to the parent or guardian of a child, to decide what he or she should see at the movies or on TV, not some group or government agency. And if a young person doesn't have an adult looking out for them--the problems they have are bigger than being harmed by anything one sees on the screen. There's nothing in the ads that children don't see during the afternoon on any given day. Good Gosh! Get a life!

Several clips and a featurette showcasing Hollywoodland--the film that looks into the mysterious death of actor George Reeves (Television's Superman of the 1950's) are up on though I'm not a fan of these "clip dumps", the more I see of this movie, the more impressed I get. You be the judge. Here are Seven Film Clips and Behind the Scenes Footage From Hollywoodland...

People Magazine reported a few days ago that “Superman Returns” star actor Brandon Routh is taking the BIG plunge... confirming that he is engaged to his girlfriend Courtney Ford.

According to Routh’s publicist, Routh proposed in early August with a ring from Los Angeles-based jeweler Neil Lane. Routh and Ford plan to marry next fall. The newly engaged couple will also costar in the upcoming short film “Denial”. Read the rest of the details here.

Routh And Ford At The 2006 MTV Movie Awards

While Routh is now engaged to be married, fellow "Superman Returns" star Sam Huntington (who played Jimmy Olsen) recently tied the knot with his long-time girlfriend Rachel Klein.

Sam and Rachel exchanged vows on August 12th

Huntington And Klein At The L.A.
Premiere of Superman Returns In June

Love is in the air for the citizens of Metropolis...big time. Congratulations!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Team Spirit

As Summer '06 winds down, 4 new films are hoping to make it into the end zone, before the play clock reaches zero. Invincible (Reviews) leads the pack--with most critics giving the Vince Papale biopic high marks.

Dave McNary of Variety handicaps this weekend's derby in Pic quartet tackles B.O....While Entertainment Weekly's Joshua Rich is a bit more certain who will come away the win: On a slow weekend, Wahlberg looks "Invincible"---adding that the football drama will be No. 1, but it's a victory against the second division as summer turns to fall.

Nothing goes better with football than a nice cold beer, right?...Cold is a great way to describe the critical reaction to the comedy Beerfest (Reviews). Meanwhile, rapper André Benjamin of Outkast tries to further cultivate a film career, in the prohibition era musical drama Idlewild (Reviews). Author Thomas Rockwell's popular book, How to Eat Fried Worms (Reviews) gets the big screen treatment, to round things out...

Can you believe it? Next week marks the end of the Summer '06 movie season. Wow! How time flies...Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a very special post that's coming soon concerning a particular comic book flick--taking the summer out in style.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

But Who Gets Custody Of The Kids?

The noise generated by the nasty split between Tom Cruise and Paramount Pictures seems to have quieted in the last 24 hours...

But as is the case with any "divorce", since the love is gone, ultimately it's all about the division of assets accumulated during the union that matters now.

Michael Fleming and Chris Gardner of Variety discuss the possibilities:

The abrupt divorce of Paramount Pictures and Cruise/Wagner Prods. has not only sent shock waves through the industry but also raised questions about the future of the [production company] and its many projects at the studio.

The vociferous exchanges between [the studio] and Cruise's reps at CAA quieted down Wednesday. ...industry insiders observed that CAA also represents someone equally if not more important than Cruise -- Steven Spielberg. Paramount, of course, now owns Spielberg's company, DreamWorks.

The Spielberg angle puts even more pressure on [the studio] and CAA to devise a way to settle out the Cruise/Wagner deal. ...

As for the films, C/W had continued to dig up new projects for Paramount. They were in early talks for a fresh deal to develop a Hurricane Katrina film, made with Scott Gold, the journalist from the L.A. Times' Houston bureau who covered the disaster.

No deal has been closed for that project, giving Cruise and Wagner the option to take it to their new [production company], for which they have raised a revolving fund of $100 million.

Getting other projects they've developed at C/W for Paramount off the lot when they leave next month could be tricky, however.

A rep for [C/W] said that conversations about the fate of their Par-based pics have not yet begun. "We have not discussed what will happen with the projects. They all have separate contracts and agreements, and I'm sure they will be honored," said C/W spokeswoman Julie Polkes of Rogers & Cowan.

Negotiations could get very complicated. Several months ago, Paramount toughened its conditions for projects put into turnaround, insisting that [the studio] not only get fully reimbursed but also obtain co-production rights. The policy has frustrated producers who are trying to recover projects they'd set up under the Sherry Lansing regime.

It was during her tenure that C/W began to flourish on the Par[amount] lot. But with new top brass in place under studio chairman Brad Grey and movie stars facing a tougher studio landscape, many speculate that C/W's exit from Paramount is more about money and less about the behavior of Cruise, as cited by Redstone.

Cruise and Wagner had a notoriously rich deal with Paramount before Grey came in and began cutting costs...

Producers on the lot have groused about the studio's reluctance to let projects go into turnaround. And they cite the "brutal" terms Par imposed in allowing Lionsgate to take over the remake of Hong Kong thriller "The Eye" last month.

Paramount let C/W take it elsewhere after Renee Zellweger dropped out and instead committed to another Par thriller, "Case No. 39." Par waived its reversion rights to reclaim the project, even when Jessica Alba committed to star for directors David Moreau and Xavier Polud.

Cruise/Wagner is scheduled to make the film for Lionsgate next year.

While producers who exit first-look deals often see those projects through to production after they leave, insiders are wondering if the avalanche of other potentially lucrative C/W projects will become the kids in an ugly custody battle.

Outside of Scott Rudin -- who just completed his move to the Walt Disney Co. -- C/W was for years the most prolific buyer of books and scripts on the Paramount lot.

There is a stockpile of projects, many acquired because of their potential to become starring vehicles for Cruise...

Click here to see the list. Some of these projects sound really cool...

C/W has an inventory of projects that were originally bought for Cruise but atrophied. There are also numerous titles that will not star Cruise. It would not be surprising if Paramount was less territorial over those given its track record with C/W projects that Cruise didn't topline.

While "Ask the Dust," "Elizabethtown" and "Suspect Zero" were... misfires, C/W produced better-received titles "The Others" and "Shattered Glass."

I think both parties are looking to resolve these issues quickly and quietly...After all, the break-up itself was very noisy, and I doubt either side wants to have a prolonged "shouting match" over this stuff. I bet that Steven Spielberg is the key to how all of this ends. He's important to both sides...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Cruise--In-For A-Bruisin'

Actor Tom Cruise received "divorce papers" from Paramount Pictures yesterday. And to call the split "ugly" is putting it mildly.

The beginning of the end?

Chris Gardner of Variety gives us the play by play:

The 14-year Tom Cruise-Paramount relationship has ended on a note of anger and outrage.

Cruise and production partner Paula Wagner said they have raised a revolving fund of $100 million from two hedge funds and are striking out on their own -- including setting their next project at another studio.

Wagner denounced comments made by Sumner Redstone about Cruise as "outrageous and disrespectful." Redstone told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that [the studio] was ending its relationship with Cruise because "his recent conduct has not been acceptable."

In fact, Wagner said that CAA, Cruise's agency, terminated discussions with Par earlier in the week. After Cruise/Wagner made 14 films in 14 years (not all Par[amount] releases), the studio had declined to renew the original Cruise deal and offered a sharply reduced pact.

Cruise has been a tabloid regular over the past year due to his relationship with actress Katie Holmes, their daughter, his outspoken views on psychiatry and medication, and his increasingly outspoken advocacy for the Church of Scientology.

Wagner defended Cruise/Wagner's longtime success for the studio, saying that the [production company]'s product has accounted for 15% of Par[amount]'s theatrical revenue in the last 10 years and 32% for the past six years. Their credits include the "Mission: Impossible" franchise, "Vanilla Sky" and "War of the Worlds."

The C/W [production company] also produced "Elizabethtown," "Ask the Dust" and "Suspect Zero."

"Worlds" grossed $591 million worldwide, while "MI3" recently took in $393 million.

Studio insiders have long been aware of Redstone's attitude that $10 million in overhead isn't worth it especially given Cruise's behavior.

In making his critical remarks about Cruise, Redstone has triggered an angry confrontation with one of Hollywood's most important superstars and his power broker, CAA.

Rick Nicita (who is married to Wagner) and Kevin Huvane, the two agents who rep Cruise, denounced Redstone's remarks as "shockingly offensive and graceless.

In addition to finalizing the $100 million revolving fund, the reps at CAA are about to close on a C/W overhead deal with another entity but not a distributor, they said. Further, Cruise has decided on his next film as an actor and negotiations are commencing at another studio.

Insiders reacted sharply to the Redstone-Cruise imbroglio, suggesting that it points up the mixed messages that the studio has been sending. "When you talk to Paramount, which voice will respond to you?" asked one top agent.

Par[amount] is a much different studio than the one where C/W set up shop in the early '90s. Jonathan Dolgen and Sherry Lansing guided the studio at the time when Cruise/Wagner rose to become the marquee [production company] on Melrose Avenue.

But over the past two years, the studio saw a massive overhaul following the exits of Dolgen and Lansing, followed by the installation of chairman Brad Grey.

Grey reworked the executive ranks and its supplier chain with the acquisition of DreamWorks and several new producer deals -- including another star pact with Brad Pitt and his Plan B [productions] and, more recently, a lucrative pact for Cruise's "MI3" helmer J.J. Abrams.

Clearly, there's more to this story then we know right now. While I agree that Tom Cruise is Nuts, and his behavior resulted in a backlash against Mission Impossible III I do question the timing and severity of the separation.

Why now? Cruise has been laying low of late. The box office receipts for MI-3 were counted long ago... MI-3 wasnt the money maker--but so what? Neither was Vanilla Sky. I'm the last to defend Mr. Cruise but to fire him over "personal" stuff such as this seems a bit much. The wording used by Redstone appears rather harsh as well, In the end the studio can do what ever it wants of course---Cruise may get the last laugh. As this incident could cause his devotees to shower him with much needed sympathy...I think the mighty $$ caused this split to happen more than anything else...for sure. Paramount hasn't had a bona fide hit movie, both critically or finacially in a while. The studio probably figures if golden boy Cruise couldn't deliver in tough times who can?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Reluctant Hero

As part of the Indiana Jones 25th anniversary celebration, (gosh, has it really been that long that the character's been around? Sigh...I feel very old!) Empire Magazine spoke with George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and the man himself Harrison Ford about the first three films in the series and Indy IV. Regarding the long gestating fourth installment, the trio offered up a status report. Garth Franklin of Dark Horizons gives us the highlights:

"We're basically going to do The Phantom Menace. People's expectations are way higher than you can deliver. You could just get killed for the whole thing... We would do it for fun and just take the hit with the critics and the fans" says Lucas

As a result, the trio has come up with an idea for a plot that was originally deemed 'too incendiary' by others. Lucas liked the idea it seems, but the other two were "a little dubious about it" and thought it was a "little too 'connected'" which would cause a critical backlash. This disagreement over the central idea seems to be the reason for the delays in recent years.

Why's it moving again? "Then Harrison really wanted to do it and Steve said, "Okay". I said, "We'll have to go back to that original MacGuffin and take out the offending parts of it and we'll still use that area of the supernatural do deal with it" says Lucas, with Spielberg adding "Hopefully it will be different in all the right ways and the same in all the familiar ways".

"There's a good chance it will happen. There are things left for this character to do" says Ford, whilst a mid-2007 start of shooting date is scheduled (which would put the film on course for a Summer 2008 release.

For more on Indy IV pick up a copy of the new issue (#308) of Empire on sale from August 25th.

'There's a good chance it will happen'. What does that mean? I thought it was a done deal? The article makes it seem like Ford isn't as optimistic about a fourth film as he once was....

I love Lucas talking expectations and referencing Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Priceless!!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Calling Animal Control

Snakes On A Plane de-throned 'Talladega Nights' as the top movie over the weekend--just barely. In fact, if it wasn't for those Thursday night screenings, the results would have been very different.

In his "Weekend Report" for Box Office Mojo Brandon Gray writes:

Scaling back from high expectations, 'Snakes on a Plane' nabbed an estimated $13.9 million Friday-to-Sunday ($15.3 million including Thursday night previews), as people didn't have to pay for the movie to chuckle at the title...

You can read Gray's full report here...

Meantime, in A slithery slope Ben Fritz of Variety says:

'Snakes' bite doesn't match the hype


...Gross is well below predictions at New Line and among industry folk that the hype could translate into a bow somewhere in the 20 or perhaps even 30 millions.

Though "Snakes" was the big story going into the weekend, other pics mattered in their own right. "World Trade Center" and "Talladega Nights" held up nicely, while "Little Miss Sunshine" stayed strong as it started its move into wide release.

Finally, Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly, agrees After all the hoopla, "Snakes on a Plane" slithers in way below expectations...For more--read "Snakes" doesn't have much bite"

Hype? In Hollywood? Who would have thought...I still want to see this.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

"The Decision Of The Council Will Now Be Heard"...

An answer, to the question of whether or not a sequel to Superman Returns, will be produced, has been given. And the result, really should come, as no surprise... As I predicted just six days ago, the announcement comes just close enough to the studio's stated goal of a $200 million domestic run, to allow for spin in either direction. The film's total U.S. gross, as of this post, now stands at an estimated $194,165,746 (figure courtesy Box Office Mojo)

Posted on Yahoo Movies (via The Hollywood Reporter) on Friday, the article "X-Men" vs. "Superman", examines the success of X-MEN:The Last Stand in relation to that of Superman Returns.

Within the article, Warner Bros. production president Jeff Robinov said this:

"'Superman Returns' will be profitable for us. We would have liked it to have made more money, but it reintroduced the character in a great way and was a good launching pad for the next picture. We believe in Bryan and the franchise. Clearly, this was the most emotional and realistic superhero movie ever made."

I love how he uses the word "realistic" to describe the film--Very lofty spin... Ever Made? Really? How does one qualify a comic book film as the most realistic?

Meanwhile, studio President Alan Horn told LA Times staffer Claudia Eller that he expected "Superman Returns" to continue making money, and has plans for a sequel film...

Horn expects "Superman Returns" to eventually gross about $400 million worldwide, more than last year's hit "Batman Begins." Nonetheless, "Superman" fell at least $100 million short of his expectations.

"I thought it was a very successful movie, but I think it should have done $500 million worldwide," Horn said. "We should have had perhaps a little more action to satisfy the young male crowd."

More action and less bloated storyline...

Still, he's betting Warner has firmly reestablished the "Superman" franchise and is planning another installment for summer 2009.

The second coming of Superman is gonna happen...Where do we go from here?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Left Handed A Right Turn

At a time when remakes of movies seem to be replacing any original thought coming out of Hollywood, now comes news that horror master Wes Craven has inked a deal to produce an update of his very first flick, 1972's The Last House on the Left.

Variety's Michael Fleming has all of the details:

...Craven, who wrote and directed the original, will produce the remake with longtime partner Marianne Maddalena and Sean S. Cunningham. Latter produced the original. Rogue co-president Andrew Rona and Craven forged a relationship while Rona was co-[President] of Dimension.

Craven and Rogue are eyeing an early 2007 start date.

Rogue will retain worldwide rights for the redo, which follows the same storyline. A pair of adventurous teen girls are kidnapped, raped and murdered by a gang of thugs. The killers unwittingly hole up in the home of one victim's parents, who, upon realizing what their guests did, devise gruesome revenge.

Craven said that of all his films in talks for a remake -- "Shocker" and "People Under the Stairs" redos are in the offing -- the original "Last House" is still the most unsettling.

"I'm far enough removed from these films that the remakes are a little like having grandchildren," Craven said. "The story, about the painful side effects of revenge, is an evergreen. The headlines are full of people and nations taking revenge and getting caught up in endless cycles of violence."

Craven and Cunningham got $90,000 to shoot the original from drive-in theater owners in Boston who wanted cheap second films for double-feature bills. The R rating was self-imposed, since Craven had never heard of the MPAA.

"I had been teaching college and never intended to make horror films," Craven said.

New project marks the third remake of a Craven film that the director is producing. "The Hills Have Eyes" and a sequel that is in pre-production were remade for Fox Searchlight.

The original is pretty intense even by today's more sophisticated standards. I like the fact that Craven and Cunningham are both involved with the project. Fingers crossed that the right director is chosen for the film...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Plea Flicker

File this one under "Not at all a surprise".

From today's Movie/TV News column from The World Entertainment News Service

Gibson Agrees To Plea Deal To Stay Out of Jail

Mel Gibson has avoided a spell in jail after agreeing to a plea deal following his drink driving arrest at the end of last month. In court in Malibu, California yesterday morning, the movie star's lawyer confirmed he had thrashed out a deal with prosecutors, which will place Gibson on probation for three years.

Under the terms of the deal, Gibson will attend a full year of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

He has also been fined $1,200. Gibson has also volunteered to record a public service announcement on the hazards of driving while drunk and to enter a rehabilitation facility immediately, according to website

It was understood that Gibson had checked himself into such a facility after his arrest, but US tabloids report the actor has been a recluse at his home in California since the incident hit the headlines. Gibson has pleaded no contest to driving with a .08 blood alcohol level or higher. The count of driving under the influence was dismissed, as was a charge of driving with an open container of alcohol.

The plea deal was officiated by judge Laurence Mira, who has passed sentence on a number of lawbreaking celebrities like Nick Nolte, Nicole Richie and Gibson's pal Robert Downey, Jr.

Gibson was arrested on July 28 after leaving Malibu bar Moonshadows. His arrest prompted outrage from Jewish community leaders after the actor's drunken, anti-Semitic rant was made public.

Now that he's avoided any jail time...I hope he 1.) really makes an effort to straighten himself out and 2) realizes how lucky he is

When Animals Attack

The big opener at the box office this weekend, is of course, Snakes On A Plane. The horror/thriller hybrid, starring Samuel L. Jackson, has been all over the place really since Summer '06 began. At first glance, the film looks like it's a lot of fun, not taking itself too seriously. The reviews for Snakes are favorable...yes, but not a grand slam.

What about those Thursday night preview screenings of "Snakes"? How did they do?

Box Office Mojo reports:

'Snakes on a Plane' made an estimated $1.4 million on Thursday night from 10 p.m. and midnight shows at about 2,200 theaters. The number was modest compared to most reported Thursday night previews. 'Superman Returns,' for instance, grossed about $3 million from 10 p.m. showings earlier this summer. 'Snakes' hits 3,555 theaters today, making it the third widest August debut ever

In Snakes' ready to rattle Ben Fritz and Dave McNary of Variety wonder Will hype help 'Plane' land aud[ience]s?

"Snakes" in the cineplex! Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly thinks the Samuel L. Jackson's thriller will slither to No. 1, but the movie's R rating may limit its gross, while boosting numbers for "Accepted"

Speaking of Accepted (reviews), the college comedy is being panned by most critics...Meanwhile, sisters Hilary Duff and Haylie Duff team up for Material Girls (Reviews), another film targeted for the "tween" demographic... And in limited release is the drama Factotum (reviews), starring Matt Dillon, playing an author who finds comfort in a bottle. Counter programing at its best.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Name Game

The IMDb has posted an unconfirmed rumor that Ryan Phillippe may be set to take the role of Harvey Dent/Two-Face in the upcoming "Batman Begins" sequel "The Dark Knight".

The report says Phillippe beat out contenders Liev Shreiber and Josh Lucas for the role of the once good guy district attorney who turns evil and disfigured during the course of the next film.

If this rumor turns out to be true...I can actually buy it. More so, in fact, than I can seeing Heath Ledger playing the Joker. At least Phillippe has played both the good guy and bad before--in a wider array of films.

It's Heads or Tails for Phillippe as Two-Face. It could go either way

In other Super-Hero Sequel news 20th Century Fox has officially confirmed that the title for the "Fantastic Four" sequel (hey, I liked the first one!) is "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" reports Dark Horizons.

In the sequel, the enigmatic, intergalactic herald, The Silver Surfer, comes to Earth to prepare it for destruction. As the Silver Surfer races around the globe wreaking havoc Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben must unravel the mystery of The Silver Surfer and confront the surprising return of their mortal enemy, Dr. Doom, before all hope is lost. The movie will be in theaters June 15th 2007.

I HATE that title!! Period!! What's next? Fantastic Four: The Fall Of Sub-Mariner? The FF should stand on their on as far as the title goes. And yes I know the plot follows a storyline from the comics...but geez non-comic readers will be goin "Huh?" What's a Silver Surfer?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

RIP Bruno Kirby (1949-2006)

Character actor Bruno Kirby lost his battle with leukemia on Monday. He was just 57 years old.

Kirby carved out a nice little career as a true go to guy in both film and TV His final on screen appearance, as Phil Rubenstein in a 2006 episode of the hit HBO series "Entourage" , was a fitting swan song for the everyman performer.

He is best known though, for film roles in Donnie Brasco (1997) playing Nicky opposite Al Pacino and Johnny Depp. Sleepers (1996) saw him in a series of flashbacks as one of the tormented boys' father. I will never forget him in 1974's The Godfather: Part II (1974) playing a Young Clemenza, the cult classic This Is Spinal Tap (1984) as Tommy Pischedda, The Freshman (1990) as Victor Ray, and 1989's When Harry Met Sally... as Jess, best friend to Billy Crystal's character. Of course they would also team up again in the hit comedy City Slickers.

For more on Kirby read the E! tribute

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

By Land And By Sea

As someone who lives just outside of Philadelphia--I'm quite looking forward to seeing Invincible (opening on August 25th 2006) even as a non Philadelphia Eagles football fan. I am just old enough to remember Vince Papale, a down-on-his-luck teacher, and part-time bartender who tried out for the team in 1976--making the roster. For me the team may not be my favorite, but any flick that highlights Philly, deserves my attention.

In the movie, Mark Wahlberg plays Papale while, actor Greg Kinnear plays legendary coach Dick Vermeil.

While out promoting the film, The Movie Reporter caught up with Wahlberg... Surprisingly, the first question asked was regarding a rumored Aquaman movie...

With the huge success of Wahlberg’s HBO series “Entourage”, where he serves as executive producer, rumors have been flying around for a real feature film Aquaman. On the show, hot Hollywood actor Vincent Chase is set to portray Aquaman in a James Cameron directed big screen version of the superhero.

Subsequently, with the Aquaman spoof on the hit show, there has been a lot talk of an actual feature film. When asked about it...He denies that such a project exists that has him filling out the wetsuit

Although, he does acknowledge there has been talk from multiple sources he says he would be more interested in producing such a project rather than star in it.

So who would be his first choice to star as the underwater superhero? Why Adrian Grenier of course who portrays Vincent Chase in Entourage who is portraying the Aquaman in the fictional feature film of the storyline. Confused? He isn't, he says Adrian is already Aquaman for him and he would be his choice.

So where do we stand? It’s all talk right now, but we may see something in the future, but Wahlberg will not be starring perhaps behind the camera instead and his first choice, well his only choice actually, would be Vince, Adrian Grenier, the star of Entourage.

Live action Aquaman has had a tough go of it lately. The CW Television Network passed on a TV series, based on the comic book hero, called "Mercy Reef" this past spring. Developed by the team that created Smallville, at least the pilot is making some waves. For quite some time, the aborted Aquaman pilot was the top TV show download, on iTunes. In fact, the August 11th, 2006 issue of Entertainment Weekly magazine had a half-page article about the iTunes success of the Aquaman pilot and what it might mean for the possible future of the project.

From AquamanTV:

"If some network wanted the show, we'd find a way to work it out," creator Alfred Gough told the magazine. Unfortunately, the magazine notes that the CW currently has "no plans to save Aquaman from his watery grave."

I have seen the pilot in question and, it's OK, at best--That said, I see the concept of Aquaman working better as a weekly series, than a feature film franchise.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Caped Wonder-ing

Remember these words from my post of July 10th, 2006?

Unless Superman Returns can gross more than $200 million domestically, Warner Bros. [chief Alan Horn] is said to be unsure [he] wants to back any sequels.

The updated domestic gross for Superman Returns, as of August 13th, 2006, is estimated to be $192,602,000...(figure courtesy Box Office Mojo)

Pamela McClintock in an article for Variety, writes:

...Warner Bros. Pictures execs are mulling whether to go ahead with a planned sequel and ink another deal with director Bryan Singer.

The film is not such a blockbuster that a follow-up is inevitable -- but not such a disappointment that a sequel would be ludicrous. After all, the first "Austin Powers" pic was a modest hit that begat two huge grossers. ...

Many speculate that WB has invested too much time and money to walk away. What's more, the film fuels a number of Time Warner outlets, including homevid, ancillaries and merchandising -- even subsid DC Comics.

Warners and co-financing partner Legendary Pictures have a shot at breaking even on "Superman" once all the revenue streams are accounted for, but it's going to be a long, tough haul.

Warners and Legendary -- which splits all profits with the studio down the middle -- are counting on strong home entertainment sales to make up for slower-than-expected box office. (WB's 2005 "Batman Begins," whose B.O. was comparable to that of "Superman," earned $167 million in DVD sales, according to estimates by Variety sister pub Video Business.) Then there are the various TV windows.

There's no doubt that with Legendary as a partner, Warners has a far easier time justifying big-budget efforts like "Superman." At the same time, Legendary has investors to answer to.

Officially, Warners says it's premature to talk about any sequel, since "Superman" has yet to open in certain key international territories.

Last month at the fanboy gathering Comic-Con in San Diego, Singer enthusiastically predicted the second film would bow in 2009. He promised fans more action, saying he used the first pic to "lay the foundation" for the relaunch of the franchise.

Singer said he'll "go all Wrath of Kahn " on the next installment -- a reference to the fact that Paramount's long-running "Star Trek" film franchise really kicked in with its second installment, which was tighter, faster and better received than the original "Star Trek: The Motion Picture."

Negotiations between Singer and the studio would get delicate if Warners wants to include over-budget penalties. Warners certainly can't wrest control away from a director like Singer, but it can try to make sure the budget stays under a certain level.

Word is that WB and Legendary will want to keep the budget of the next one at $200 million or below, but the studio denies any such cap.

Sequels are generally costlier than the original pics, since they need more action and more special effects to tempt auds. In theory, a "Superman" follow-up could be cheaper, since expensive sets are already built, and some CGI experimentation is out of the way (e.g., how does his cape look when he flies?). ...

But is the character too retro? While "Superman Returns" received better notices than nearly all of the other 2006 summer tentpoles, some reviewers questioned whether the superhero is too stolid for modern-day fans, who favor darker, more complicated characters, such as Batman or Spider-Man.

Warners had believed that Superman, because of his good-beats-evil mythology, would appeal to a broader audience than Batman...

Top studio execs, along with Legendary, insist they will make money on the pic when all is said and done.

But some have speculated that -- based on box office alone and just counting the production budget -- Warners and Legendary could each be out more than $20 million. Those losses could rise sharply when factoring in marketing costs.

Strong DVD sales could lessen the gap. In it deal with Legendary, Warners also gets a theatrical and home entertainment distribution fee.

In "Superman Returns," the question is posed: Does the world still need Superman?

The answer isn't clear, at least in the real world. But the world -- along with Warners, Legendary and Singer -- may have another chance to find out.

As I have said before--A sequel to Superman Returns is (almost) a sure thing. I think the studio is holding off on any "official" sequel announcement, until just before, or right after it hits $200 million mark. Even if the film just misses that magic number by a hair--they will still be able to argue that they met the stated goal. And if it happens to eek past that figure, before it leaves theaters, that will afford the parties involved bragging rights ahead of any news. Either way a sequel to SR seems likely--even surrounded by a hint of uncertainty.

As the "Best Reviewed Summer Blockbuster", and with Singer at the helm, that the question of a follow-up still hangs there at all, is amazing.

Step By Step

Normally, it's the weekend's number one box office draw, that gets all of the attention on Monday. Not so this week. It's all about #2

Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo fills us in up front, while Variety and Entertainment Weekly bring up the rear.

'Talladega Nights' was tops again [with $23 million], but 'Step Up' was the unexpected success with an estimated $21.1 million and 'World Trade Center' [in 3rd place with $19 million] posted a solid start...

Here's Gray's complete report...

In 'Trade' secrets Ben Fritz says:

Disney dance pic steps lively at B.O. [while] 9/11 pic finds traction as 'Nights,' 'Step' rule

Joshua Rich writes in "Talladega Nights" beats out the rest:

Ferrell speeds to first place again, "Step Up" dances to it's own tune and "World Trade Center" draws a crowd

The results prove once again, just how powerful generation "Y" can be, ala John Tucker Must Die from a few weeks ago. Step Up wasn't on anybody's radar when the weekend began, and now, look where we are---I smell sequel...Step Up II

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Studio Chatter

Here's two industry blurbs that caught my eye, from this past week, courtesy Studio Briefing:

First, it was a Broadway musical, then it was adapted for the big screen in 1978, and now it's...

'Grease': The Reality Show

The casting of a Broadway musical will become a TV reality series when NBC launches You're the One That We Want, a midseason show in which viewers will select the leads for a revival of Grease on Broadway. (The show's title was lifted from a song title in the musical.) It will be produced by Kathleen Marshall, who will serve as a judge on the TV show, along with Jim Jacobs, the co-creator of Grease, and theatrical producer David Ian. The Grease revival is scheduled to open on Broadway in June 2007, with tickets going on sale in December. It is being produced by BBC Worldwide Productions, the commercial subsidiary of the publicly funded British broadcast company.

Meanwhile, auditions for Season 6 of Fox's American Idol kicked off at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena Tuesday.


Pellicano Case to Enter Civil Litigation

While the criminal investigation into the alleged wiretapping activities of Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano appearing to be throttled, several civil lawsuits seem to be proceeding full-bore.

The Hollywood Reporter reported... (Thursday) that attorney Stephen Kolody has filed suit charging that Pellicano wiretapped his conversations with client Lisa Kerkorian while she was battling her ex-husband, former MGM owner Kirk Kerkorian, in a child-support case.

Named in the suit besides Pellicano are Terry Christensen and Dennis Wasser, Kirk Kerkorian's attorneys, and their respective law firms.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Spy Hard

As part of Entertainment Weekly's Fall Movie Preview, Benjamin Svetkey, takes readers behind the scenes of perhaps the most anticipated film of the season--Casino Royale.

Staring Daniel Craig as the newest James Bond, some of the highs and lows of the production have already been documented on The Last Reel, of course. I gotta say though, for all of its troubles and very public fan backlash over the casting of Craig, things seem pretty solid. Graig certainly looks the part anyway:

The jumbo jet parked on the runway is ready to be blown up.

The fuel truck with the leaky gas tank — and a terrorist bomber behind the wheel — is idling in a nearby hangar. And the Aston Martin belonging to a certain secret agent has juts pulled up to the curb.

In other words, everyone at this secluded airfield outside London, on this picture-perfect July afternoon, is waiting for the cameras to roll on what could be one of the most spectacularly explosive — not to mention spectacularly expensive — action sequences ever shot for a James Bond movie.

Unfortunately, so is the guy in the hang glider, making swooping circles in the sky overhead, snapping as many photos as he can.

''The paparazzi are everywhere,'' sighs a weary Daniel Craig, taking a break as security guards chase after the winged intruder. ''We pulled two of them out of the bushes last night. They were in Prague when we were there. They were in Venice. They were on the beaches in the Bahamas. Everywhere Casino Royale has shot, they've been there.''

Well, who can blame them? The press — and public — always get a little curious whenever someone new starts shaking James Bond's martinis. And this time around, there's certainly plenty to be curious about. After all, many moviegoers had never heard of Craig before October 2005, when it was announced that the 38-year-old blue-eyed Brit would follow Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan to become the sixth James Bond. Frankly, some wish they still hadn't heard of him: A group of hardcore purists have been so outraged by the casting of a fair-haired actor in a role they believe is strictly for brunets, they've gone so far as to launch an anti-Craig Internet campaign and threaten a boycott of the movie (yes, Mr. Blond, they expect you to dye!). But even those who don't care about hair color, who admire Craig's work in films like Layer Cake and Munich, may have questions about this 21st official installment of the seemingly eternal action series. Because the hair isn't the only thing different about this new 007. In fact, with Casino Royale, Bond is undergoing his boldest makeover since swaggering onto screens some 45 years ago in Dr.No.

''I watched every single Bond movie three or four times, taking in everything I could about how the character had been portrayed in the past — then threw all that away once I started doing the role,'' Craig announces. ''There's no point in making this movie unless it's different. It'd be a waste of time unless we took Bond to a place he'd never been before.''

Of course, some things about Bond never change. In Casino Royale, he still carries a license to kill (although not so many lethal gadgets), takes orders from ''M'' (Judi Dench, the only familiar face returning from previous Bond movies), and invariably goes for the girl with the bodacious, um, accent (this time even getting his heart — among other body parts — broken by French actress Eva Green). Still, make no mistake, this is not your father's 007. In some ways, it's more like your grandfather's. ''We're going back to the character Ian Fleming originally conceived,'' says Barbara Broccoli, producer of the series along with Michael Wilson (Broccoli's half brother and stepson of the franchise's late co founder Albert ''Cubby'' Broccoli). ''It's not a period piece or anything like that. It's set today, right now, and it's got all the action fans have come to expect from the movies. But we're getting back to the essence of Bond, to the Bond in Fleming's first 007 novel.''

Actually, that original novel is hardly the most action-packed in Fleming's oeuvre — the drama essentially hinges on a high-stakes game of baccarat. And it has been (very loosely) adapted before, in 1954 as a live TV drama on Climax! (with a crew-cutted Barry Nelson playing American agent Jimmy Bond), and again in 1967 as a big-screen spoof (with Woody Allen as the diabolically nebbishy Dr. Noah). But now, with this $150 million-plus production, shot over six months at a half dozen locations around the globe, Casino Royale is finally becoming part of the official canon — and a hugely ambitious part at that. As if the previous 20 films never existed, this latest will push the reset button on the whole series, reintroducing Bond to audiences as if for the first time with the tale of his maiden mission as a double-0 agent. Darker and more violent (in one torture scene that actually does come from the novel, Bond's testicles are...oh, but let's not spoil the surprise), with a story line involving no hollowed-out volcanoes or henchmen with oversize orthodontia (only a terrorist financier named Le Chiffre, played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, who Bond is sent to bankrupt at a high-stakes game of Texas Hold 'Em), Royale is a return to a more serious, realistic 007, what Broccoli calls ''classic Bond.''

Obviously, it's an enormous gamble, especially since the franchise hasn't exactly been losing money lately (the last Bond movie, 2002's Die Another Day, grossed $432 million worldwide). But Broccoli and her brother, who used to be famously reluctant to tinker with the franchise's formula, are now convinced it's time to take a risk. Especially since they couldn't think of anything else to do. ''After the last film, we spent eight months trying to come up with a story, but just couldn't,'' says Wilson. ''The movies had become so fantastical — with invisible cars and stuff like that — there was just no way to continue in that same vein. There was nothing new left to do. So we decided to start all over with the story we've always wanted to tell — how Bond became Bond in the first place.'' ...

Be sure and click here to read the entire article.

To be honest, I was never part of the "Craig Is Not Bond Crowd" anyway, and after 44 years on the big screen.. a 007 reboot may be just what the doctor ordered. Casino Royale opens Nov 17 2006.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Wanna Trade?

There may be four new films opening on this Friday, but given the breaking news about the foiled airline terror plot, movie industry watchers are talking about Oliver Stone's World Trade Center--in theaters since Wednesday, making $7.8 million in its first two days.

While Ben Fritz of Variety wonders Will terror take toll on 'Trade'? Recent events could affect Par pic's B.O. Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly feels, despite headlines of the terror plot and war in the Middle East , Americans will be ready for "World Trade Center" . His prediction: Oliver Stone's tribute to the heroes of 9/11 will be No. 1, doubling the opening-weekend take of "United 93"

Here's a rundown of the other openers:

Step Up (reviews) This film looks like it travels down a very familiar road ala 1987's Dirty Dancing; Publicity for Half Nelson (reviews) may be non existent--but critics love it; As a film with a "kids as superheroes in training "plot Zoom (reviews) looks very much like last year's Sky High (hey, I thought it was a lot of fun!); At first the horror film Pulse (reviews) looked pretty dumb---that was until I found out that genre favorite Wes Craven wrote the at least I'm interested. The film stars TV's Veronica Mars herself--Kristen Bell, so you know fans of the The CW Television Network series will turn out to support her.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

From Men To Boys

Director Brett Ratner, hot off of this summer's X-MEN: The Last Stand, is going to spend a little time in Brazil, as soon as he's done making Rush Hour 3.....

Word is that he is going to remake The Boys from Brazil--a 1978 sci-fi film originally made by the late Franklin J. Schaffner (1920-1989).

Michael Fleming of Variety has the 411 (Did I really just type that?)

Brett Ratner will direct a contemporized remake of 1978 thriller "The Boys From Brazil" for New Line, which has finalized a seven-figure rights package for the property.

Richard Potter and Matthew Stravitz will write the script.

The rights and scribes were part of an auction that came down to New Line and Universal.

Outcome was shaped when New Line-based Ratner agreed to make the movie.

Granada Films held the rights for the original film, which it acquired when buying the ITC library. "The Boys From Brazil" will be produced by Rob Green of Granada, along with Rat Entertainment partners Ratner and Jay Stern.

Based on the Ira Levin novel, the original "The Boys From Brazil" fit the mode of 1970s paranoid thrillers, with Laurence Olivier uncovering a diabolical plot by Nazis in South America to revive the Third Reich through the use of cloning. Gregory Peck played Dr. Josef Mengele, the plot's mastermind.

The writers pitched a take that sticks close to Levin's novel but sets the action in the present day.

"The original was a flawed film with a brilliant concept," Ratner said. "You no longer have to spend time explaining cloning as you did then."

The hope is Ratner will make "Boys" his follow-up to "Rush Hour 3," which New Line puts into production in late September for an Aug. 10, 2007, release.

Deal is the second for the writers since they teamed a year ago. They're working on an untitled supernatural thriller they sold to Warner Bros. and Mosaic

The '78 version is very underrated and is among Schaffner's best behind Patton and the original Planet of the Apes from 1968. Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier played wonderfully well off of one another. For the remake to work as well you need 2 very good dramatic actors--no stunt casting please. Here's a good suggestion as a possible pair for the updated version: Patrick Stewart and Sir Anthony Hopkins---both of whom have worked with Ratner before. They would be perfect.