While Transformers 2 is the first mega movie of the year, an early preview indicates that James Cameron’s Avatar could give it a run for its money. We have details on that in our weekly genre movie news wrap-up, along with updates on Simon Pegg’s Paul, the Watchmen extended edition, Fahrenheit 451, and more. Plus all the weeks previews, including the latest Harry Potter.
24 Minutes of James Cameron’s Avatar Screened
Last Tuesday journalists at the Cinema Expo in Amsterdam were screened about 24 minutes of James Cameron’s upcoming 3-D sci-fi epic "Avatar". Judging by the reactions, we’re going to be in for one amazing experience. Here’s some key excerpts from reports of the event:
It’s the third scene where my heart begins to pound like crazy. Jake and Norm will inhabit their Avatar for the first time. They enter some sort of capsule and – flash – their mind enters the blue creatures, now lying on hospital tables. And not before long Avatar Jake wakes up. And it took my breath away. I thought–just like you guys–that I’ve seen it all with Gollum, or The Hulk, but Cameron has done it again. These creatures seem so real, that within minutes you forget you’re watching an enormous and very blue CGI character. Even the eyes are totally convincing. The characters have real personalities and a soul.
[The Hollywood Reporter]
"Three years ago, I stood up here and said the 3-D renaissance is coming," Cameron said. "And from what we’ve seen in the business, we can now say it has arrived."
Cameron encouraged theater owners to add 3-D capability as quickly as possible. But acknowledging "Avatar" will have to play in a mix of conventional and extra-dimensional venues due to insufficient number of 3-D auditoriums, he added, "I just want to say that I think ‘Avatar’ is going to play great in 3-D, 2-D, any ‘D.’ "
What is most important about this movie: Everything lives and breathes. The tree in the scene with the sacred seeds glowed. Not the bast, but the tree underneath glowed like a living thing. Jake encounters plants which look like a kid’s slide which shrink when he touches them. Little fireflies and birds fly through the shots without being there. You just take them as the world, like a dove in Central Park. It’s not placed there, it lives there and just happens to be in the shot.
MarketSaw, which seems to be the leading site for Avatar news, also has an updated on status of the film’s first trailer. According to a tipster, Cameron has given Fox a cut that that the studio will now turn into a trailer: "It’ll be heavily tweaked and won’t be expected until mid/end august to be shown online/cinema’s etc." Even more coverage from MarketSaw can be found here, here and here and some images from the event are posted below. "Avatar" hits conventional and 3-D theaters on December 18, 2009.
[more at MarketSaw]
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost Report From Set of Paul
The official website for the upcoming sci-fi comedy "Paul" — starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost — has launched at What Is Paul? The website has tons of content including images from the set and videos of the various actors and crew members. Here’s a sampling:
Set images [more here]
Unfortunately, there’s also some bad news to report this week. A few weeks back Bleeding Cool previewed the film’s screenplay — which we covered here at TrekMovie — and noted that production was hoping to film some of the scenes on location at the San Diego Comic Con. That’s no longer the case. Here’s what Pegg told thelondonpaper (via Bleeding Cool):
“We are recreating Comic-Con for it in Alberquerque, New Mexico. I wanted to shoot at real Comic-Con, but it’s a minefield – you can’t have a room of 10,000 people and not have one of them look at the camera and go, “oooohh”.
Zak Penn Talks About Adapting The Avengers To Screen
Speaking to the Graphic Explosion panel at the L.A. Film Festival last Tuesday, "The Avengers" screenwriter Zak Penn revealed that he’ll soon be meeting with the teams writing the other upcoming Marvel Studios films ("Iron Man 2", "Thor" and "The First Avenger: Captain America") so that they can link together storylines and provide some overlap in the various plots:
"They’re doing Captain American and Thor first, and then Avengers is coming out," Penn said. "They want to see that they’re all connected, not like the Fantastic Four can’t come into the X-Men world, like I was told. I’m taking a meeting next week with the Thor and Captain America people, and we are all going to get together, and I will see what is going to happen. I’ll see where they are leaving the characters; it’s pretty complicated. … There’s a board that is tracking what is happening. [We’ll see] how this movie overlaps in that movie. … Marvel is autonomous now. It is night and day: Everyone has read every comic. They know how to make a cool movie."
Marvel Studios head of marketing, Doug Finberg discussed the same aspect during interviews at the Saturn Awards: "Having everybody on board and really being able to actually work as a team together and develop the Marvel cinematic universe is what’s most important to us," Finberg said. The plan is to introduce Thor and Captain America, and then combine them with Iron Man to form the Avengers, but Finberg says that Zak Penn could introduce other superheroes in "The Avengers": "I think that really remains to be seen," he said.
Zack Snyder Talks Watchmen: Directors Cut; Hits Theaters in July + more
Warner Brothers has decided to go through with a limited theatrical release of Zack Snyder’s director’s cut of "Watchmen" which features 25 minutes of additional footage. The engagement will be very limited, with the film scheduled to play a week before the San Diego Comic Con for only one weekend and in just four markets (Los Angeles, New York, Minneapolis and Dallas). The release is timed to coincide with the Blu-ray and DVD release on July 21st. There will also be a special screening on July 25 at Comic Con designed as a BD-Live event, allowing any viewer in North America to watch the film simultaneously with the audience at Comic Con where Zack Snyder will comment on the film and even respond to viewer questions. THR reports that the screening will be archived and will be able to be accessed for future viewings:
"Comic-Con, it isn’t just comic book fanatics, it’s cinephiles as well. It’ll be cool to discuss what people are thinking," Snyder said at a "Watchmen" press day, held Wednesday at Warner Bros., where the news was unveiled. The day was designed to showcase a bonus Blu-ray feature called Maximum Movie Mode as well as features to be seen in Snyder’s Blu-ray release of "300: The Complete Experience."
"Watchmen" was a bit of a disappointment at the box office, grossing only $107.5 million domestically ($182.7M worldwide), but Snyder stands by the film: "I’m proud of the movie. It does everything I wanted it to," he said. Here are two promos for the Blu-ray release (July 21, 2009):
Blu-ray Special Feature: "Maximum Movie Mode"
Another clip at /Film
More from Zack Snyder on the Blu-ray special features
Although he was doing press for the "Watchmen" Blu-ray, Snyder also talked about three of his upcoming projects: "The Illustrated Man", "Guardians of Ga’Hoole", "Sucker Punch". Bites related to those three films are below:
"The Illustrated Man": They’ll be taking a "retro" approach to this proposed adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s book: "We tried to do it basically retro technology, retro sci-fi, which I feel like is kind of cool. It’s sort of in spirit of the novel." The film will be comprised of five of Bradbury’s 18 short stories, but Snyder wouldn’t reveal which five. [SCI FI Wire]
"Guardians of Ga’Hoole": Feels fans will be blown away by the look of this upcoming animated fantasy film : "It looks like talking owls, but they are expressing, and they’re emoting, but there’s this awesome proprietary software that we created for the feathers, so all the inclusion happens, and it’s all real, and it looks totally—it’s just awesome." Snyder also revealed that there will be a 3-D release and likened the project’s tone more to "Harry Potter" than "Shrek". [SCI FI Wire]
"Sucker Punch": The film will take movie action to a level we haven’t seen before, beyond "300" and "Matrix": "I’m not a gimmick-based [filmmaker]. I’m not looking to do a big rubber CGI double jumping from building to building and [an] unkillable crazy hero. So I do like sort of hard effects. Give me a machine gun and some kind of cool fighting hand to hand, and let’s get it on." [SCI FI Wire]
…Snyder also talked about casting "High School Musical" star Vanessa Hudgens as one of the film’s main girls. [MTV]
Frank Darabont: It’s Make or Break Time for Fahrenheit
Writer/director Frank Darabont told SCI FI Wire that he’s anxious to move to the next stage of his adaption of Ray Bradbury’s "Frahrenheit 451", a project he’s been working on for nearly a decade:
"Fahrenheit is the thing I’m trying to get up next, which is casting-dependent, so it’s one of those," Darabont said in an exclusive interview. "I’m out to somebody at the moment, fingers crossed, because, boy, do I want to make that movie. I’m not giving up. I’ll die in the traces before I don’t make that movie."
Darabont says that if the un-namted actor doesn’t come on board it could be the final blow:
"Yeah, it’s not one of those movies that are vastly expensive by any contemporary standard, but money is still money, and it’s of a price that requires somebody that will justify that investment," Darabont said, without identifying the actor. "This is definitely going to be more than [The Mist], so those other considerations do come into play."
Collider also interviewed Darabont. Watch their interview embedded below:
Transformers 2 at $200.1M; $386.2M Worldwide
TDK’s five-day domestic record of $203.8M is safe but "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" sure got close. The Michael Bay-directed follow-up to 2007’s "Transformers" coasted to $200.08M through five days ($108.97M for the weekend). Those numbers easily topped its predecessor ($76.1M and $124.5M, respectively). When you add in the foreign markets, even abysmally poor reviews — it’s sitting at just 20% at RT — couldn’t keep audiences away ($386.2M worldwide). Speaking of those reviews, some critics have taken Bay on for what they feel are overly racist characters. /Film gathered various discussions on the matter which you can check out here. Co-writer Roberto Orci addressed the controversy directly via the comments section at AICN. Here’s one such comment in response to a question on whether he’s bothered that people see the addition of the Twins (Skids and Mudflap) as being racist:
"Yes… it would bother me. If anyone thinks that, it would bother me. While it is very difficult for me to be personally offended by much, and without agreeing or denying that there a line has been crossed in the movie, Alex and I were aware that it some jokes could give Bay’s enemies ammunition to make very negative accusations. We expressed our opinions freely as always."
Rounding out opening week coverage for "Transformers 2′, ILM apparently taxed their computers to the brink with the SFX work they did for the film. Some of their equipment even exploded. And finally, the Eastman Kodak Company is offering a $5,000 reward to the person who provides information to bring Megan Fox and the Spanish boy who tried to offer her a Rose together. The company will also provide a new rose and travel expenses for the boy and his family. Just send an e-mail to Kodak at email@example.com with your info. If you missed it last week, Megan Fox told Collider (by the way you can watch the second part of their interview with Megan Fox below) that she didn’t mean to slight the boy.
Eight new posters
Check out the other six via First Showing
Check out more artwork here
First look at star Alex Pettyfer [via SCI FI Wire]
Teaser poster [SCI FI Wire]
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
New character posters [more at Filmz.ru]
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Set images [more at ComingSoon.net]
The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Scans from US Weekly [more at SpoilerTV-Movies]
One more here
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Adam Sandler, Cher, Jon Favreau, Sylvester Stallone and Judd Apatow will provide the voices for the animals of MGM’s live-action comedy "The Zookeeper"… [Variety]
…Earlier in the week, Rosario Dawson and Leslie Bibb were added to the cast. Dawson will star opposite Kevin James. [Variety]
Stan Lee’s cameo in "Iron Man 2" may have been revealed: "I was told Stan filmed earlier this week and he was dressed as Larry King. The scene has Stan asking Tony Stark when he’s going to be on his show." [Collider]
Marion Cotillard will play the wife of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Christopher Nolan’s "Inception". The actress also revealed that the majority of her scenes will be played alongside DiCaprio and confirmed that the film’s plot is "about the mind". [MTV]
Rumored for months, Evan Rachel Wood has been cast as Peter Parker’s love-interest in the musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark". Wood’s "Across the Universe" co-star Jim Sturgess is still rumored as a possible Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Also joining the cast is Alan Cummings, who will play the villain Green Goblin. The Broadway musical will open February 25, 2010. [Variety]
Among the film’s Warner Bros. will present at the San Diego Comic Con are "The Final Destination" (in 3-D), "Where The Wild Things Are", "The Book of Eli", "Jonah Hex" and "Shorts". The full list and day/time details can be found at ComingSoon.net.
DreamWorks Pictures has purchased the film rights to "I Am Number Four", an unpublished science fiction book about nine alien teens assimilating to high school on Earth after their planet is destroyed by an enemy species. Michael Bay will produce, and perhaps direct the project… [THR]
…Check out a synopsis at Film Drunk.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Cobra Commander in Stephen Sommers’ "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" talked about the role in a new interview. [SCI FI Wire]
Director Nimród Antal ("Armored", "Vacancy") is reportedly one of the seven names mentioned by AICN to be in consideration for directing duties on the Robert Rodriguez-produced "Predators" reboot. Not only is he one of the seven, but he’s apparently at the top of the list. [Latino Review]
"Toy Story 3" animator Angus MacLane says Andy’s room will be featured in the film, but he didn’t say how much. MacLane did reveal that the story will deal with Andy going off to college. [SCI FI Wire]
Columbia Pictures is adapting the PS3 video game "Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune" to film. Kyle Ward will write the screenplay, with Avi Arad, Charles Roven and Alex Gartner attached to produce. [THR]
Lucasfilm is teaming up with G4 to present "the first-ever exclusive live television broadcast of a presentation from the San Diego Comic-Con." The broadcast, they promise, will feature never-before-seen footage, breaking news, surprise announcements, guest stars and more. "Star Wars Spectacular!" will air Saturday, July 25th at 2:00pm ET/PT and will be hosted by Olivia Munn and Kevin Pereira. [via SCI FI Wire]
Paramount Pictures has picked up "Hellified", a supernatural action script by Andy Burg involving a journey to hell. Dan Bradley is attached to direct with Lorenzo di Bonaventura set to produce. [THR]
Johnny Depp, who plays the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton’s "Alice in Wonderland", says he was surprised he wasn’t fired from the job because of the way he portrayed the role: "…I’ve just seen the little bits and pieces of it, but, yeah, what I ended up looking like is how I thought he was going to look, how I thought he should look, which was one of the first reasons why I’m surprised I didn’t get fired," Depp said. [SCI FI Wire]
Duncan Jones is following up "Moon" with a $25M UK-German co-production described as a sci-fi thriller-mystery. That’s a nice step-up from the $5M independent "Moon". [Screen Daily]
Universal Pictures has acquired the film rights to the Larry Doyle novel "Go Mutants!". Doyle will also write the script while Brian Grazer will produce. [Variety]
Chris Columbus, who wrote the script to the 80’s cult hit "The Goonies", says that Rirchard Donner told him he’s trying to get the cast together for a sequel: "I think the only way it could be done is if the kids are now the parents, and their kids have become the Goonies. I still think the two brothers are still alive and well, so they could still be in the movie."… [SCI FI Wire]
…Christopher Columbus’s current project is "The Lightening Thief" (February, 12, 2010), an adaptation of Rick Riordan’s first "Percy Jackson & the Olympians" book. The Greek-inspired film releases just a month before "Clash of the Titans", but Columbus says he’s not concerned by that: "No, because we’re first." [SCI FI Wire]
Writer/director John Landis has sold the remake rights for "An American Werewolf in London" to Dimension Films. [Bloody-Disgusting]
Despite behind-the-scenes legal issues, Steven Spielberg and Will Smith are moving forward with plans for their remake of Chan-Wook’s 2003 cult hit "Old Boy". [Reuters]
Columbia Pictures is developing "The Smurfs Movie" as a CG/live-action hybrid film — in the style of say 2007’s "Alvin and the Chipmunks". It’ll also be released in 3-D. [ComingSoon.net]
"Sorority Row" has been moved up to September 11, 2009 from its original October 2nd release date, while "Pandorum" has been pushed back to September 18, 2009 from September 4th. [Dark Horizons]
DreamWorks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg says he’s considering a sequel to the successful "Monsters vs. Aliens": "Oh, maybe," he said. "We’re waiting for it to finish its run internationally, and then we’ll kind of sit down and figure that out. But it’s been a great success so far." [SCI FI Wire]
- Previously on TrekMovie: Winners of the "35th Annual Saturn Awards" were announced last Wednesday
Captain America: Reborn [more at io9]
Marvel Zombies Return [Newsarama]
Neil Gaiman was interested in writing a special story for the 20th anniversary of his comic book series "Sandman", but he says talks between him and DC Comics broke down when DC insisted on negotiations based on his 1987 terms: "And my thought was, ‘You know what, guys, it really doesn’t work like that.’ I wasn’t going to do a deal at the same terms we had in 1987, and they were not willing to do any better than that." [Jam! Showbiz via SCI FI Wire]
While he’s a big proponent of libraries, Ray Bradbury is not at all a fan of the Internet: "Yahoo called me eight weeks ago,” he said, voice rising. “They wanted to put a book of mine on Yahoo! You know what I told them? ‘To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the Internet." "It’s distracting,” he continued. “It’s meaningless; it’s not real. It’s in the air somewhere." [NY Times]
Marvel Comics has released the following image of Wolverine with the word’s "The End" scribbled above. No explanation was provided. [via io9]