Comics2Film

Wed, February 23rd, 2000 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rob Worley, Columnist

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Rat Bastard

[Rat Bastard]With work on the Rat Bastard TV show underway, creators Cliff Galbraith and Tim Bird are headed for the Hollywood hills to help with the process of adapting their creation. "We're headed out there on Sunday for meetings with [Imagine Televison] and Ed Neumier," Galbraith told Comics 2 Film Monday night. Ed Neumier, best known for creating Robocop is writing and developing the show as an animated series for UPN.

Galbraith and Bird, who work creatively under the pen name of the Huja Brothers, are pleased with Neumier's vision for the show. "We get along with Ed really great. Ed wants to make this really bad ass," Galbraith told C2F.

Galbraith credits Neumier with putting the deal together. "I believe he had a development deal with Imagine. The book was brought to Ed through a series of agents. When Ed saw it he said 'Well, this is it, this is what we should be doing.'"

The Huja brothers told us they were the last to know about the deal.They were not informed about it until all the papers had been signed by the studio and the show was set up at UPN. "All this just seems to us to be happening so fast," Bird told us. "We went from wondering, 'Geez! Are we going to be able to afford to put out the graphic novel' to 'Oh my God, Disney is flying us out to Hollywood.' It's definitely been a bit of a trip."

Although they're happy to be collaboration with Neumier, the Huja's have found that working from New Jersey on the Hollywood based production has put a strain on things. Galbraith said, "We've been working with Ed from over 3000 miles away, by fax and by phone and it's just not the same as being out there with everybody. And so, we put a little pressure on the studio to bring us out there and get us involved in this thing."

While they have been involved in the development, it started to feel like things were getting away from the Hujas. The pair lobbied with the studio to come out to California and participate to a greater extent. "We want to go out there now and kind of shape what this whole thing is going to look like."

Next week the creators will meet with the studio and network types to make sure the essence of their comic remains intact. "I think that either the network or the studio wants to possibly lighten it up a little bit. Its not like we want to blow people's heads off or anything like that or have any language that's questionable. Its more a case of how true it's going to be to the book, what they're going to do with the actual characters and what their personalities are going to be."

"We're going to be involved in that process," Galbraith told C2F."A lot of creators don't get the right to do that. We're involved with a really good company. Imagine is treating us really well. I think Ed is being really cool about the whole thing."

Neumier was interested in having Bird and Galbraith write for the show, even before the contracts were drawn. "He wants us to be involved in this. Like I said before, most studios want to get you out of the way. The reason it is going so well is that the producer used to be a screenwriter. He knows what its like to get pushed aside and to not be listened to."

Casting talks are underway on the show, although no one has been signed at this point.

Galbraith also told us that the trip to Hollywood may last longer than a week. "We're going to go out there for a week this time and after that we may relocate out there. There's just not a lot of animation going on in New Jersey," he said, laughing. The Huja brothers will now likely look at TV and film for future projects that were originally slated for comics.

However, Bird suggested that there may be a return to comics in the future. "Once the show is up and running it'll definitely be a shot in the arm for any other projects we were to do now in the comics field. Our first love is comics, we grew up on those." The once planned paperback collection of the original Rat Bastard comic is currently on hold. Once the show is on the air, the book may be released and reach a potentially larger audience than the comics enjoyed.

Elfquest

[Elfquest]
Enlarge

The Elfquest CG animated feature continues to pick up steam. Comics 2 Film recently spoke with Craig Miller of Wolfmill Entertainment and got a status report on the movie. Miller is an Executive Producer on the movie and co-wrote the screenplay with Wolfmill partner Marv Wolfman and Elfquest creator Wendy Pini.

"We're in the storyboarding phase at this point, doing the preliminary designs." Miller told C2F. Casting is underway on the movie, although no actors have been signed at this point.

The filmmakers will be hosting a reception at this week's American Film Market to get the word out on the movie. "We just wanted, along with our European partners, to really announce that Elfquest was underway and let people know about it."

Accompanying the announcement is a Wendy Pini preliminary poster. "It's a preliminary poster for the movie," Miller told us. "They are not the final character designs, but it gives you an idea of what the movie will be like."

Although the movie has been in the works for several years, Miller told us it is still about two years from being released.

However, today Wolfmill Entertainment announced that they'd entered into a a worldwide licensing agreement with Living Toyz for a line of action figures based on the movie.

Prior to the release of the movie, Los Angeles-based Living Toyz will produce several sets of action figures based on the original comic book designs as featured in the Elfquest comics published by Warp Graphics.

With the premiere of the film, Living Toyz will release a double-sized set of figures based on the character designs from the film.

The film is being produced in association with the European Animation Group, a pool that includes Project Images Films, Sceneries Europe, GTC (France), Das Werk, Trixter Film (Germany), Indice Multimedia, and Storyboard (Spain).

From Hell

Recent reports from various sources have indicated that Brad Pitt is interested in playing Jack the Ripper in the upcoming adaptation of Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's From Hell. Comics 2 Film asked Don Murphy, the producer of the movie what to make of these reports. Although Murphy admits they've been talking to the actor he downplayed the reports. "He's somebody that we'd love to get in it, but that doesn't necessarily translate into [Pitt being interested in playing the role]. We've had a couple of meetings."

At this point no actors have been cast for the movie.Murphy did tell us that they hope to begin filming the movie in May of this year.

A related story appeared in a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly. According to the magazine, Johnny Depp is one of the actors in discussions to appear in From Hell. The article states that Depp met with directors Allen and Albert Hughes on Saturday, February 12, to discuss the project. No word is given as to what role Depp might be looking at. The article also mentions that Brad Pitt will not be in the movie due to a scheduling conflict.

X-Men

[ X ]After months of hoping to anticipate its arrival in theaters fans finally got a glimpse at the long-awaited trailer from the long-awaited X-Men movie. The trailer debuted on E! last Wednesday night. Anyone who missed it was able to find it on the official website or on Comic Book Resources. These showings allowed fans their first glimpse of the characters in action.

Fan reaction was generally positive. The trailer is a high-octane collage of flashy images on top ofCurve's Chinese Burn. The footage starts with the opening of the X doors and finishing up with a mighty Wolverine SNIKT and Patrick Stewart's Professor X assuring us "We're not what you think."

Entertainment Tonight also aired the trailer. Fans interested in seeing the complete ET report can download it at the Cinemenium website.

Also new on the official site is a link to Senator Kelly's Mutant Watch 2000 site. The site is part of Senator Kelly's campaign to protect patriotic homo sapiens from the homo superior threat. At the Mutant Watch 2000 site, concerned Americans can read many articles that prove just how dangerous these mutants are. You can also take a self test to determine whether or not you are a mutant and also register any known or suspected mutants.

Thanks to Bruinhilda, SilentBJ, Christian Purnell, Justin Ferell.

In related news, Corona Coming Attractions reports that the poster that hit the internet last week is not official artwork for the movie. An unnamed source who is deemed to be "in the know" informed them that the work wasn't associated with the production, but is actually something Marvel cooked up for their end of promoting the movie. Marvel provided similar artwork last year when they released the famous crossed claws poster which was generally taken for teaser artwork.

Following all this excitement came an announcement from Xceed, Inc.:

Xceed Inc., interactive architect and solutions builder, announced on Tuesday that it has been selected by Twentieth Century Fox to develop the online promotional campaign for the new X-Men feature film. Xceed will be creating a fully interactive Web site dedicated to the movie as well as crafting the online messaging so as to draw the fans of the X-Men comics to the film. The initial version of this site launched in December, and will continue to grow and develop until the release of the movie in July 2000.

"Working with the team at Twentieth Century Fox will allow us to create an extremely compelling online promotional vehicle for their X-Men movie," said Scott Mednick, chairman and chief strategic officer of Xceed Inc. "The people who are fans of the X-men are a unique demographic who are young, techno savvy and will embrace more non-traditional marketing approaches. The web site that Xceed will develop for this project will offer the online audience a virtual X-Men experience along with up-to-date information on the film and will build anticipation and enthusiasm for the movie."

"We are very happy to have Xceed on our X-Men team and are looking forward to the creation of a great campaign for this film," said Jeffrey Godsick, Senior Vice President, Publicity & Promotions of Twentieth Century Fox. "Online X-Men fans are an intricate part of this movie, and we want to make sure that they are kept up-to-date on how production is going. We know that Xceed has unsurpassed talent and experience in communicating with the online community and it is critical that we leverage these assets in support of our films."

Mage/Grendel

[Mage]It's been years since Comics 2 Film has been able to offer a report on a movie version of Matt Wagner's Grendel. We recently attended an online chat at the Mage web site in hopes of learning more about the in-development Mage movie, as well as any plans for Grendel. It looks like fans of The Devil will have to keep waiting.

When a chatter identified as Echo_Grendel asked about if Wagner hoped to make a Hunter Rose movie, the comic creator responded, "Oh yes. Its just that Grendel will garner more [money], if Mage is hot shit. Hate to be a whore, but we're almost considering Grendel more of a franchise than Mage." Wagner's told us in the past that he wants to see the Mage movie through before he focuses any attention on Grendel.

We asked Wagner how the screenplay for Mage is coming along and what interaction he had with screenwriter John Rogers. "Rogers is a hugeMage fan. So far, I'm thrilled with the interaction. Which means, I know when to leave him alone..."

For fans who missed out on the Wagner chat, Kevin Hawkins tells us that another is scheduled for March 8th at 6:30 PST, 9:30 EST. See the Mage site for more details.

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

[Batman Beyond]October 31, 2000 is the date that the Joker will menace the Batman of the future in the direct-to-video feature Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. However, thanks to Lovecraft13 of the Van Gough Experience and Batcave web sites, we can get a glimpse of the undying clown-prince-of-crime today. The image sent in by Lovecraft13 is from a "Batman Beyond: Decode & Win" promotional display that can currently be seen at Warner Stores. Presumably, the image of Joker on the display reflects what the character will look like in the video feature.

Heavy Metal 2000

A recent announcement reveals the line up of musicians who will provide songs for the upcoming movie Heavy Metal 2000, which has previously been referred to as F.A.K.K.2. According to the press release the soundtrack for the movie will be available in stores on April 18. It will feature 18 tracks of unreleased and/or exclusive music from Pantera, Monster Magnet, MDFMK, Zilch, Insane Clown Posse and Twiztid, System of a Down, Days of the New, Coal Chamber, Sinisstar, Queens of the Stone Age, Machine Head, Full Devil Jacket, Hate Dept., Puya, Apartment 26, Billy Idol and the first original Bauhaus recording in 17 years!

The soundtrack will be released by Restless Records. It will feature four separate cover designs by comic fave Simon Bisley (Batman/Lobo) who provided designs for the animation as well as illustrating the Melting Pot graphic novel that the feature borrows from. Restless will also release a limited edition, double CD that includes a CD-ROM containing additional movie paintings, a comic book version of the movie, PC game demos and a movie trailer.

Fans can also expect to see an entire line of Heavy Metal 2000 merchandise including games for the PC, Mac and Sega Dreamcast, action figures, skateboards, trading cards, magazines, posters and clothing.

Heavy Metal 2000 is slated to be released this summer by Sony Entertainment/Columbia Tri-Star.

Hell Eternal

In a December interview with the PopImage online magazine, Jamie Delano revealed that he is at work on a screenplay of his 1998 comic book Hell Eternal.

"I've been working on adapting Hell Eternal for the screen," Delano told the magazine. He also revealed that he had production company involved. "They have a first draft screenplay in with FilmFour at present, awaiting a decision on further development funding. It's too soon to be optimistic, but I think I did pretty good work on the script, considering I was learning movie-writing on the job."

Hell Eternal was a one-shot published in 1998 by DC/Vertigo.The comic was illustrated by Sean Phillips. Delano provided this description of the story, "This is an 'inspired by real incidents' story of three young dilettante neo-Nazi British students who slip too far 'outside' to find their way back, and end up dead 'by their own hands' in heartland USA. Some strong interest has been shown, but I guess it has about a 10% chance of making it to production as a (low budget) movie."

Thanks to Michael Rhode of the Comics Research Bibliography.

Blade 2

In a recent interview with the PopImage online magazine, screen and comic writer David Goyer talked about the sequel to Blade. "I can't reveal very much about Blade 2, but we should be going into production this summer. I will also be Executive Producing the film."

Goyer also commented on the success that the original movie enjoyed, especially in terms of satisfying comic fans. "As for the first Blade movie, I was on the set constantly and spent a fair amount of time in the editing room with Steve Norrington (the director), so I'd say I was very in touch with the production.

"As far as Blade being one of the only good comic book movies, I'm damn proud of that and I'd like to think part of the reason was my involvement (beyond just writing the script). I know the comic book universe quite well and I was hell-bent on making a good movie."

Thanks to Michael Rhode of the Comics Research Bibliography.

Superman

The Hollywood Reporter reports that Will Wisher has turned in the latest draft of a script for the Superman movie. According to the article, the script was well received by Warner Bros. and Nicolas Cage, who is still attached to star in the movie.

X-Men: Children of the Atom

Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum reports that the new X-Men animated show that is to air on Kids WB! will be called X-Men: Children of the Atom. Allstetter spoke to Bob Skir (Beast Machines) who reports that he and frequent collaborator Marty Isenberg will be story editors for the show.

Boyd Kirkland (Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero) is said to be the producer. The show is not officially scheduled, but it'll likely be slated for a fall debut. Skir told The Continuum that the show is not based on the upcoming movie.

Daredevil

Ain't it Cool News reports that Sony Pictures has decided on Mark Steven Johnson (Simon Birch) to direct the Daredevil movie.

Johnson's name had come up in relation to this project back in 1998. At that time Johnson had reportedly met with Joe Quesada (who would be editing and illustrating the Marvel Knights revival of the comic) and was also pitching the concept to Disney. Subsequent to that, producer Ben Myron (Waking up in Reno) told us that while it was true Johnson was interested, he wasn't officially involved.

Late last year, it was reported that Sony had picked up the property and was fast tracking it. It is uncertain as to whether Myron or co-producer Chris Columbus are still involved with the project.

At any rate, AICN reports that Johnson is "beyond feverish fanaticism concerning this film." This could explain his re-emergence as a candidate for the movie. AICN also reports that they soon host a 20 questions with Johnson about the movie.

Danger Girl

According to a scooper for Corona Coming Attractions, movement on the Danger Girl movie may be slowed due to studio cautiousness. The scooper claims that New Line is nervously watching similar productions like Columbia's Charlie's Angels and Paramount's Tomb Raider before charging forward with Danger Girl.

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