In this week’s Sci-Fi Movies, we have news on the new director for Sony’s 2012 Spider-Man reboot (plus details on the plot), an update on the box office success of James Cameron’s Avatar and his sequel plans, the latest updates on production starts for John Carter of Mars, Ghostbusters III and Thor, plus more details on Tron Legacy, Captain America, Green Lantern, Dune, Paranormal Activity 2 and even Jurassic Park IV. All that and more, including the latest casting bites, images and videos.
GENRE MOVIE NEWS
Marc Webb Attached To Direct Spider-Man (2012); Possible Start to New Trilogy
Since Sony announced that they were rebooting "Spider-Man" with a new director and cast, one of the directors rumored was "(500) Days of Summer" director Marc Webb. Now the studio has confirmed the hire via a press release. Vulture was the first reveal the news and says that Webb is attached to direct three films in the rebooted franchise that will "focus far more on the private life of Peter Parker." Here’s an excerpt from the Sony/Columbia press release:
"At its core, Spider-Man is a small, intimate human story about an everyday teenager that takes place in an epic super-human world. The key for us as we sought a new director was to identify filmmakers who could give sharp focus to Peter Parker’s life. We wanted someone who could capture the awe of being in Peter’s shoes so the audience could experience his sense of discovery while giving real heart to the emotion, anxiety, and recklessness of that age and coupling all of that with the adrenaline of Spider-Man’s adventure. We believe Marc Webb is the perfect choice to bring us on that journey."
Vulture adds that Webb will be paid roughly $10 million for the first film, with bonuses built in if the film reaches certain box-office milestones. There are also a few new details pertaining to why "Spider-Man 4" fell apart. Again, courtesy Vulture, who got the details from production insiders:
"[Director Sam] Raimi wanted all sorts of envelope-pushing CGI (though not 3-D, which the studio was considering). Such effects would take more money and, just as crucially, more time. But the studio, whose corporate parent Sony must answer to Wall Street, had set a strict May 6, 2011 release date, and missing that date would mean depriving Sony of a billion dollars in revenue. "Every movie is a power struggle," explains one producer on the Sony lot familiar with the fracas. "But the tipping point was that Sam wanted to do certain things that would push the envelope in terms of [special effects] ‘toys’ and other visual stimulation, and Sony didn’t feel that was essential to the franchise."
The studio was also concerned with the direction Rami wanted to take the Spider-Man storyline, which according to Vulture went something like this:
Peter Parker gets over MJ, finds a new girl, falls in love. But: Peter also discovers her father is actually the Vulture, a naughty green guy with wings to be played by John Malkovich. Peter is torn between the love of his new lady and taking down the Vulture. Being a Spandex tight-ass, he decides to take down the Vulture, and kills him. This patricide goes down poorly with Peter’s new fiancée, and she rejects him. Despondent, Peter decides to abandon his superpowers, and Movie No. 4 ends with Peter Parker throwing away his Spider-Man mask, and audiences wondering if they are watching Superman II.
Sony also cited concerns over the budget — they wanted it to be $230M, Raimi wanted it to be more in line with "Spider-Man 3" ($258M) and perhaps then some — so it probably won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that the studio is hoping to reboot with a budget in the $80M range featuring a cast of relative unknowns. Here’s what THR’s Risky Business blog reports on the plot of basic plot of the new film and how the "Ultimate Spider-Man" comics will serve as inspiration:
And the story will be pared down to center on a high school kid who is dealing with the knowledge that his uncle died even though the teen had the power to stop it.
The touchstone for the new movie will not be the 1960s comics, which were the inspiration behind the movies by Raimi, who grew on up on them, but rather this past decade’s “Ultimate Spider-Man” comics by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley where the villain-fighting took a back seat to the high school angst.
Ivan Reitman Will Return to Direct Ghostbusters 3
Ivan Reitman, director of "Ghostbusters I" and "Ghostbusters II", has confirmed to MTV that he will return to direct the proposed third film (which he is also producing):
Asked if he would be returning to direct "Ghostbusters III," Reitman answered with a simple and unequivocal "Yes."
Reitman also added that the script from writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky ("Year One", The Office") has been submitted and that they are currently working on a second draft. Reitman also said that he hopes to start shooting this year which echoes Harold Ramis’ recent comments suggesting a release in 2011. In related news, Sigourney Weaver is reportedly reconsidering returning to reprise her role in the third film: "I haven’t read the script but you know, why not? I don’t know any details actually but I’m looking forward to reading it. It’ll be fun."
Disney’s John Carter of Mars & Paramount’s Thor Start Principal Photography + Paramount Sets October 22nd for Paranormal Activity 2
Disney has announced that their upcoming live-action adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs "Barsoom" books "John Carter of Mars" has begun production in London. The film comes from Pixar director Andrew Stanton and will be released in 2012. Click here to read the release. Also starting principal photography in the past week was Marvel Studios’ "Thor" which stars Chris Hemsworth and comes from director Kenneth Branagh. Read the press release here. Included below is a brief synopsis for "Thor" and a description for "John Carter of Mars":
Thor [May 6, 2011]
The epic adventure THOR spans the Marvel Universe from present day Earth to the realm of Asgard. At the center of the story is The Mighty Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. Thor is cast down to Earth and forced to live among humans as punishment. Once here, Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous villain of his world sends the darkest forces of Asgard to invade Earth.
John Carter of Mars 
From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton ("Finding Nemo," "WALL-E"), JOHN CARTER OF MARS brings this captivating hero to the big screen in a stunning adventure epic set on the wounded planet of Mars, a world inhabited by warrior tribes and exotic desert beings. Based on the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ "Barsoom Series," the film chronicles the journey of Civil-War veteran John Carter (TAYLOR KITSCH), who finds himself battling a new and mysterious war amidst a host of strange Martian inhabitants, including Tars Tarkas (WILLEM DAFOE) and Dejah Thoris (LYNN COLLINS).
In other development news, Paramount Pictures has greenlit a sequel to the 2008 low-budget horror hit "Paranormal Activity". According to THR’s Heat Vision blog, the studio has hired screenwriter Michael R. Perry to pen the script and Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI") to direct the film for release on October 22, 2010. Created with a budget of just $15,000, "Paranormal Activity" went on to gross $151 million worldwide. Creator Oren Peli, who directed the first film, will be back to produce "Paranormal Activity 2" along with Jason Blum who also worked on the first film.
Pierre Morel Offers More Dune Details
Pierre Morel, who was hired to take on "Dune" after Peter Berg dropped out, offered some more details about the project in interviews with MTV. Although he’s a fan of director David Lynch, Morel says he wasn’t so much a fan of Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of the novel: "As a David Lynch movie, I loved it," he said of the 1984. "As a ‘Dune’ fan, I was not such a big fan." So instead, Morel says he plans to take his film in a different direction, one which will be "very respectful to the original novel":
“[My movie] is all about the first book. I’m trying to be very respectful to the original novel,” he explained. “But it’s a challenge; there’s a lot of expectation, all the readers will be waiting for me with their shotguns. All the non-readers will also be waiting for us, because it’s such a complex, rich novel and you have to make it accessible to those who have not read the book. So, it’s a tough challenge but I’m very excited about that.”
In another interview with MTV, Morel talked about his direction for the film:
“Like many people, I was not fully satisfied with David Lynch’s movie in 1984,” Morel said. “I do respect David, and I think his interpretation and vision was interesting, but not what we [fans] expected. And I thought I’d give it a chance, try to do this, make it faster and more modern. I think that now, in 2010, we have the technology to achieve much more than David could do twenty-five years ago. I think it will be cool to try something different.”
Morel also talked about some of the things he’ll be changing, including the clothes and the way technology is presented in the future:
“Well, this is supposed to take place 10,000 years from now, so I wonder why people are still dressed like Captain Nemo,” he said with a laugh. “It feels very 19th century to me. I think the [character’s clothes] should be much more modern than that. That’s one thing [I’ll change]; that’s a basic thought.”
“We’ll try to figure out what things may look like 10,000 years from now; it’s all about reconfiguring the entire universe. Everything is going to be very different than [it is] now,” Morel said. “And we know from the book that there’s no more computers, no thinking machines. So a lot of the technology is going to be different. We’ll be working with design concepts, futurists and scientists who will give us a vision of how technology may evolve with certain conditions. That might lead us to another vision of the future – it’s not David Lynch’s vision, it’s not ours either, but in-between.”
"Dune" doesn’t have a date yet, but Morel says he hopes to make it the next he works on and added that they will be starting the writing process soon: "We start the writing process in a couple weeks; there’s so much to sort out,” the filmmaker explained. “[My ‘Dune’] is not a sequel to anything. It’s just a re-interpretation of the original novel."
Joseph Kosinski Talks Tron Legacy + New Poster/Banner
Although principal photography on "Tron Legacy" — check out the new poster/banner art below — is complete, director Joseph Kosinski tells MTV that the process to get the film completed in time for its release on December 17, 2010 is still extensive:
MTV: Much of the work was done last year, but looking at 2010, does it feel like this is an important professional year for you?
Joseph Kosinski: I’m about two and a half years in on this, with about another year still to go. We still have a tremendous amount of work still to do, because there are a lot of visual effects on a movie like this, and we’re also doing it in 3-D, which doubles up everything. Then sound design and tweaking the music. It’s not the home stretch by any means.
With regards to tone, Kosinski says the Comic-Con teaser isn’t too far removed from his vision:
"The teaser, at least tonally, represented the direction I wanted to take it. That sequence actually doesn’t appear in our film at all. It represents a period of time before our film begins. We were able to refine the design of the light cycles, the characters, the world and kind of flesh it out to a much higher level of detail than we were able to do for the test. What we’re going to see in the film will feel a lot more photorealistic. They did that test with eight or 10 people in a matter of months. We have thousands of people working on the film. It’s a whole different scale."
Kosinski also cleared up Jeff Bridges’ role in the film and elaborated on more of the film’s plot and its place within the franchise:
MTV: So the takeaway is that Jeff Bridges is playing at least two representations of himself, one that is a contemporary of the original character and one that is a younger version. How much of Jeff are we going to see?
Kosinski: Jeff is playing two characters. He’s playing Kevin Flynn, the character from the original film, and he’s playing Clu, the avatar that Kevin Flynn created in the 1980s. I’d say he’s Clu 2. There was a Clu in the first film who looked like Jeff but was very simple in terms of his abilities. He’s very stiff. Clu 2 is a second incarnation of Kevin’s avatar. He doesn’t only look like Jeff, but he can think like him too. So it’s a whole new level of artificial intelligence.
MTV: What were the hallmarks that you felt you needed to retain to satisfy the core audience who loved the original?
Kosinski: The focus was always to serve the story we are telling. To include Bruce Boxleitner is not at all a cameo or stunt casting. He is integral to the story we’re trying to tell, which is why he’s in it. We’ve taken the events of the first movie as historical facts. In our story, Kevin Flynn emerged from his first experience as CEO of ENCOM and actually released the Tron video game based on his experiences in the first movie. ENCOM has become the most innovative, most successful, most forward-thinking digital company in the world as of 1989. There are fun references to parts of the first film. Sam Flynn [Garrett Hedlund], in searching for his father, has to retrace his steps and comes upon clues and places that we visited in the first film, like Flynn’s Arcade. Even in the world of Tron itself, a lot of vehicles and sequences have evolved. We’ll get to see how the disc game has changed, how the light cycle battle has changed. We get to see the new version of these iconic sequences. Things have gotten bigger and a bit out of control.
Some other key takeaways: he expects the film to receive other a PG or PG-13 rating, and while he didn’t shoot in IMAX, it will be released in IMAX theaters and he is considering finishing four or five sections of the film in a non-letterbox format so as to take advantage of the large-screen format. Read the rest of the interview at MTV.
Yellow Lightcycle poster/banner [MTV]
Joe Johnston Talks Captain America + Jurassic Park IV (and V and VI)
Joe Johnston’s next project after "The Wolfman" (which hits theaters this February 12th) is "The First Avenger: Captain America" and the director talked with BoxOffice.com about the upcoming film. Here’s what he had to say:
It’s not going to be a Captain America that you expect. It’s something different. It is influenced by the comic book, but it goes off in a completely different direction. It’s the origin story of Captain America. It’s mostly period—there are modern, present-day bookends on it—but it’s basically the story of how Steve Rogers becomes Captain America. The great thing about Captain America is he’s a super hero without any super powers. Which is why this story, among the hundreds of superhero stories, appealed to me the most. He can’t fly, he can’t see through walls, he can’t do any of that stuff. He’s an everyman who’s been given this amazing gift of transformation into the perfect specimen—the pinnacle of human perfection. How does that affect him? What does that mean for him emotionally and psychologically? He was this 98-pound weakling, he was this wimp, and he’s transformed instantly into this Adonis. You’d think he got everything he wanted. Well, he didn’t get everything he wanted. The rules change at that point and his life gets even more complicated and dire. For me, that’s the interesting part of the story. It’s got some great action sequences in it and some incredible stuff that we’ve never seen before. But at the heart of it, it’s a story about this kid, who all he wants to do is fit in. This thing happens and he still doesn’t fit in. And he has to prove himself a hero—essentially go AWOL to save a friend. Eventually at the very end, I don’t want to give away too much, but he does fit in. But it’s the journey of getting him there that’s interesting. And it’s a lot of fun.
In other news, Johnston confirmed that "Jurassic Park IV" is a go and that they are crafting it as the start of a new trilogy (Johnston directed 2001’s "Jurassic Park III"):
You said that there was no way to get people back on the island for a fourth time and have it make sense, but that 2001 was the last installment and we’re due.
Johnston: Well, there is going to be a Jurassic Park IV. And it’s going to be unlike anything you’ve seen. It breaks away from the first three—it’s essentially the beginning of the second Jurassic Park trilogy. It’s going to be done in a completely different way. That’s pretty much all I can tell you.
A second trilogy?
Johnston: If you think of the first three as a trilogy, number four would be the beginning of a second trilogy.
That’s big. So not to lock you in, but there’s a possibility there might be a total of six films?
Johnston: Well, you never know. If they keep working—and if audiences keep going to them—there’s no reason why there wouldn’t be. We just want to make them justified in their own right. We don’t want to make sequel after sequel just because there’s a market for it. We want to tell different, interesting stories. You don’t want to just sell hamburger.
Martin Campbell: No Superman Cameo in Green Lantern
About a year and a half ago, "Green Lantern" co-writer Marc Guggenheim revealed that a Superman cameo was being written into early drafts of the script, although last July he provided an update and said he wasn’t sure if the cameo would make the final cut. Well, director Martin Campbell told MTV that the cameo will not be happening: "No, that won’t happen." Not only that, but Campbell also revealed that "none of the other DC characters" will be appearing in the film. Campbell has been making the rounds promoting his latest film (the Mel Gibson thriller "Edge of Darkness", which opens this Friday) and has taken some time to offer more of his thoughts on upcoming adaptation of "Green Lantern" Speaking with Superhero Hype, Campbell offered the following about the film’s origin story:
"I think it will stick closely to the origin story, but we all know Sinestro, for an example, is a character who goes over to the dark side, and of course, Carol, played by Blake Lively, in later versions becomes a bad guy as well. I think people will be able to see forward to the characters that in the comic went on to (become bad guys)… but people will be ahead of us on all that I think."
Speaking with SCI FI Wire, Campbell talked about how he wants to make sure the film doesn’t get overly "cheesy":
"I think the thing to do is keep a sense of reality about it," Campbell said. "Any time we talk about it, we sit in meetings, we have a cheese meter. We talk about de-cheesing any scene. So it’s quite funny. We’ve all sort of got a sort of cheese meter where that becomes our sort of yardstick in terms of keeping it, giving it some sense of reality."
And lastly, in terms of tone, Campbell told Collider that he sees the film as more in the tone of "Iron Man", than say "Batman Begins":
"It will be much more in the tone of Iron Man. It’s got to be. Certainly not Batman Begins, which is a pretty dark movie. No, he’s the Hal Jordan character who’s the sort of shoot from the hip, irresponsible kind of cocky test pilot if you will. In fact, the character seems to be the least likely to be chosen as Green Lantern. Well, of course that’s the fun of it. So no, it’ll be much more like Iron Man. So it’ll have one foot in reality if you see what I mean."
Campbell also confirmed that Mark Strong is in negotiations to play Sinestro and that he hasn’t had discussions with Warner Brothers about doing the film in 3D, but suspects they may be considering it. Check out the more from the interviews at Superhero Hype, Collider and SCI FI Wire. "Green Lantern" hits theaters on June 16, 2011.
Five Straight #1’s for Avatar + More Sequel Details
For the fifth weekend in a row, "Avatar" is the #1 film domestically and worldwide. The James Cameron 3D sci-fi epic took in $54.4 million over the 4-day MLK Jr. holiday weekend pushing its domestic total to $504.9M domestically in just 32 days of release (the previous fastest to $500M was "The Dark Knight" which took 45 days to reach that mark). "Avatar" added another $128.5 million from overseas markets pushing its overseas cume to $1.115 billion through the weekend. Counting yesterday, "Avatar" sits at a massive $1.662 billion worldwide ($509.1M domestic / $1.153B overseas). The film is currently #3 on the all-time domestic chart — having recently passed "Star Wars" ($461.0M) — and will soon pass both "The Dark Knight" ($533.3M) and "Titanic" ($600.8M). "Avatar" will also eventually surpass the $1.843B worldwide record of "Titanic". Meanwhile James Cameron offered a few more details about the proposed sequels in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, telling the magazine that he left certain scenes in the film to set up the sequels:
But not only did director James Cameron always believe that the film would be a hit—he was even planning a sequel during production. "I’ve had a storyline in mind from the start—there are even scenes in Avatar that I kept in because they lead to the sequel," Cameron says. "It just makes sense to think of it as a two or three film arc, in terms of the business plan."
Rounding out the week’s "Avatar" news, the film picked up six awards at the "15th Annual Critics Choice Awards" last Friday and took home two Golden Globes on Sunday for Best Director and Best Picture. Meanwhile, although the film has already broken the China box office record, Censors in the country are pulling it from 2D theaters to make room for the domestically-produced biography “Confucius”, which stars Chow Yun Fat. The film is expected to remain in 3D and IMAX theaters in China through February. And finally, here’s a treat. io9 went through the film’s script — which is still available to view via download online — and put together a great rundown of all the scenes that were cut. Check out their piece here. Also, check out some digital sculptures down for the film below [also via io9–see more here], followed by a 22+ minute featurette on the film.
Extended featurette: "Creating the World of Pandora" [Yahoo! Movies]
New posters [Apple]
First official production photo [LA Times]
Iron Man 2
New poster [HitFix]
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief
Behind-the-scenes images [more at AICN]
- Jason Momoa ("Stargate Atlantis") was rumored to be one of two choices to play Conan the Barbarian in Marcus Nispel’s "Conan" — along with Kellan Lutz of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" — but the studio reportedly has decided to look at another "better established actor" before they make their decision. [Deadline Hollywood]
- A casting call for the Matthijs Van Heijningen-directed "The Thing Prequel" (not the actual title) has been released and contains a list of nine characters along with this brief synopsis: "In a remote Antarctica outpost, an alien spaceship is discovered far beneath the ice. When a group of ambitious scientists decide to thaw out one of the creatures inside, they’re in for the terrifying fight of their lives…" The film will begin shooting on March 15th in Toronto. [movies.spoilertv.com]
- In addition to reprising his role as Agent Coulson in "Iron Man 2", Clark Gregg will play the role in Kenneth Branagh’s upcoming adaptation of "Thor", which stars Chris Hemsworth as the Norse god. [Variety]
- Mel Gibson, the original Mad Max, doesn’t confirm one way or the other whether he’s open to making a cameo in George Miller’s "Fury Road", the upcoming fourth installment in the "Mad Max" franchise starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron… [SCI FI Wire]
- …Meanwhile, according to Jay Baruchel, his "The Sorcerer’s Apprentice" co-star Teresa Palmer has been cast in "Fury Road" as the "main chick". It’s unclear how accurate Baruchel is, given Charlize Theron is already on board as the female lead, so treat this as a big rumor for now. The film begins shooting in Australia next August. [Herald Sun via /Film]
- Brian Cranston ("Breaking Bad") has joined the cast of Andrew Stanton’s "John Carter of Mars". Cranston will play "a Civil War colonel who comes into conflict with Carter." [THR’s Heat Vision Blog]
- Olivia Wilde talking about her role in Joseph Kosinski’s "Tron Legacy": "I find the human perspective of anything I play, and I tend to do a lot of research for every role. For that particular one, I did a lot of research. I guess I should leave it at that." [SCI FI Wire]
Movie trailer #3 [YouTube]
How to Train Your Dragon
Movie trailer #2 [TrailerAddict]
Movie preview [IGN]
Clip: "This is an extermination" [Trailer Addict]
Watch more clips here
Let Me In
Interview excerpt with director Matt Reeves [read the rest of the interview at MTV]
Movie trailer [YouTube]
TV spot: "Afraid" [YouTube]
Watch another TV spot here
- George Lucas says that he was so impressed with the 3D effects used in James Cameron’s "Avatar", that he believes it could pave the way for creating 3D versions of his "Star Wars" movies: "We’ve been looking for years and years and years of trying to take ‘Star Wars’ and put it in 3-D," Lucas said. "But, [the] technology hasn’t been there. We’ve been struggling with it, but I think this will be a new impetus to make that happen." [Access Hollywood]
- "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" will shoot on the Hawaiian islands of Kauai and Oahu this summer. [ComingSoon.net]
- "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" director Michael Bay offered a little glimpse into what to expect for the third film: "It gets much more into the robot character. The last time you kind of met a few of the robots; this time you’re gonna get a much cooler landscape." [LA Times’ Hero Complex blog]
- Mark Millar recently had a meeting about his proposed "Nemesis" movie and teases it’ll have a strong cast and director. [Millarworld via Bleeding Cool]
- "Iron Man 2" will hit IMAX theaters simultaneously with its conventional theater release on May 7, 2010. [ComingSoon.net]
- Jackie Earle Haley, the new Freddy in "A Nightmare on Elm Street", says the re-shoots that were done for the film over the Christmas holiday were just for some "tweaks that I think are probably customary for pretty much every movie that gets made," although they did work on the film’s signature dream sequence with Haley in full make-up. [SCI FI Wire]
- Lionsgates’ status as the lead bidder for the rights to the "Terminator" franchise — they had a high bid of $15M — may not last long. Sony, Warner Brothers, Summit Entertainment and Legendary Pictures are now all vying for the rights. [LA Times]
- If Legion — opening this Friday — does well, writer/co-director Scott Stewart says that he has plans for two more films: "I have two other films in mind after Legion," Stewart said. "Yeah, we talked about it, and I have mapped out two other very different kinds of movies." [SCI FI Wire]
- Christopher Nolan calls his next film, "Inception", "the biggest challenge [he has ever] taken on," adding "We’re trying to tell a story on a massive scale, a true blockbuster scale – the biggest I’ve ever been involved with. We tried to make a very large-scale film with ‘The Dark Knight’ and with this one we wanted to push that even further". [LA Times’ Hero Complex Blog]
- Alex Proyas ("Dark City", "Knowing") says he thinks his next movie will be "Dracula Year Zero". [Techland]