Comics2Film

Wed, October 17th, 2001 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rob Worley, Columnist

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PRIME, JEREMIAH, MAL CHANCE

Comics2Film spoke briefly with Platinum Studios' Scott Rosenberg who gave us a quick progress update on Platinum's various comic-based projects.

Rosenberg told us that Universal is still actively developing a feature film version of the Marvel/Malibu Ultraverse comic character Prime. Although things have been pretty quiet on the project, Rosenberg said there may be some new developments very soon. Prime, one of the most popular characters in the now-defunct line, featured a truly geeky teenager who could transform into a beefy superhero.

In active production at Platinum is Jeremiah, based on the comic series by Belgian author Hermann Huppen. The show stars Luke Perry and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, Rising Stars) serves as the writer and showrunner. The pilot film is currently being directed by Russell Mulcahy (Highlander).

Rosenberg told us Jeremiah is on track to make a spring debut on the Showtime cable channel.

Finally, Rosenberg said that the adaptation of Mal Chance is looking good. The script by Scott Murphy (Angel) is apparently in good shape and is well-liked at Miramax.

Mal Chance is based on Martin Pardo and David Morancho Spanish comic of the same name. It follows the exploits of Lola, a female Chinese assassin who has been marked for death by her own boss, the most powerful gangster in Chinatown. To save her own life, Lola must bring down he former-boss' criminal empire.

HULK

[Eric Bana]
Eric Bana
Just a month after his name popped into the collective consciousness of comic book movie fans, Australian actor Eric Bana has signed a deal to star in the Marvel/Universal movie The Incredible Hulk. Variety reports that the Aussie actor has signed a three picture deal and will collect a seven figure salary for the first movie. That sum will increase if the franchise takes off.

Bana, whose biggest role to date has been a starring turn in the Australian biker biopic Chopper, apparently first talked to Marvel in regards to Ghost Rider.

"He'd heard (Nicolas Cage) might get the job, but wanted to meet anyway because he's a professional biker," Arad told Variety. "He was immensely appealing, and we are lucky to have him to be Bruce Banner. He's a fresh face, but he's a veteran performer who has a unique combination of great strength and the most soulful eyes. That is a difficult combination to find."

According to Variety, the film is on track for a March 2002 filming start. The film is to be directed by Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). The script has been written by David Hayter (X-Men) and is currently be rewritten by Lee's producing partner James Schamus.

Last week Variety also reported that George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic will be handling the special effects chores for the movie. The announcement of the assignment comes with word that the f/x house will also be working on Warner Bros. sequel Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. ILM is expected to bill in the ballpark of tens of millions of dollars for the pair.

The write-up indicates the the lead time for ILM on The Hulk is especially long, with the movie not due out until 2003. The f/x shop has already spent millions on test footage for the film back when the movie was in development with Jonathan Hensleigh at the helm.

According to the write-up, Dennis Muren will oversee the visuals the film for ILM. Muren previously worked on The Phantom Menace and Terminator 2: Judgment Day and won an Oscar for Jurassic Park.

"Universal has planned a pretty good prep period to hone in on how to do things," ILM president Jim Morris told Variety. "It provides us enough fertile ground to create something very different that pushes the genre. Dennis has an interesting taste level and an unusual take on things. Given the comic book nature of the show and his photographic background, it seemed like a right match. He likes the broad sweep of fantasy, but he roots it in a photo-realistic tradition."

The more-recent Variety article also provides a quick round-up of other Marvel movies. It mentions that Fox and New Regency are near a deal with Ben Affleck for Daredevil. Iron Fist is also set to lens next year with Ray Park in the title role and Kirk Wong behind the camera. Finally, the script for X-Men 2 is said to be nearly complete.

BIRDS OF PREY

DC Comics' super-spy book Birds of Prey may be then next concept to get the small-screen treatment according to an article in today's Hollywood Reporter. Tollins/Robbins Productions, the producers of tonight's Superman-based Smallville, have been given the high sign from the WB Network to shoot a pilot for the show.

Laeta Kalogridis (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) is on-board to write the script. Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins and Joe Davola are named as Executive Producers.

The Birds of Prey comics feature former-Batgirl turned super-intelligence-agent Barbara Gordon (a.k.a. Oracle) who enlists the Black Canary as a field operative on various spy missions.

The trade article describes the concept as having three female crime fighters, which could still be consistent with the comics. The series has featured frequent guests on a mission-to-mission basis, including The Huntress, Catwoman and Power Girl.

WITCHBLADE SEASON 2

Summer's Witchblade mini-series proved to be the first successful original show aired by the TNT cable network. According to today's Variety, the show's director/writer/executive producers Ralph Hemecker is officially on board for a second season of the program. New episodes of the show are slated for filming in Toronto in January for a spring or summer 2002 airing.

"Ralph's creative vision, outstanding execution and direction are an integral part of the success of Witchblade," said Peter Roth, President of Warner Bros. TV. "We are delighted that he will serve as executive producer on our second season."

RED SKY DIARY

click to enlarge
[Gallows]
The main character from "Red Sky Diary," the hunter Gallows.
[Polidouris]
One of the main protagonists from "Red Sky Diary," an assassin named Dr. Polidouris.
Keith Giles recently sat down with comic artist extraordinaire Timothy Bradstreet in an interview for Comic Book Resources. Bradstreet talked about his various comic book projects, including cover art for Marvel's upcoming Blade comic which will run under the adult-oriented Max imprint.

More interesting is Bradstreet's creator-owned project Red Sky Diary. The concept features a demon-hunter named Gallows who is the descendant of a line of hunters dating back to the 14th century.

Bradstreet told Giles that he hopes to finish a script for the concept next spring. The script would be published as an illustrated, coffee table sized volume.

"In addition, I'm currently underway with plans to shoot, direct and edit a Red Sky Diary movie trailer," Bradstreet said. " This trailer, once completed will offer a unique look at the characters as well as serving as a promotional tool to get the film project off the ground."

The trailer will be released on a limited edition DVD which will also preview the book. The DVD will be available exclusively through TimBradstreet.com. A Flash-animated teaser trailer is also planned.

Check out the complete interview for more about Bradstreet's upcoming projects.

GAHAN WILSON'S THE KID

[The Kid]With a number of comic-related movies and TV shows rolling out in October, one that fans might have missed is due on Showtime in October. An animated feature adaptation of Gahan Wilson's comic strip Nuts will air on the premium cable channel on the 28th.

The movie, titled Gahan Wilson's The Kid stars the voice talent of Edward Asner, Lolita Davidovich, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, William Shatner and Jennifer Tilly. The 80 minute movie is described as "an animated adventure is told from the point of a view of an adventurous 10-year-old boy whose carefree childhood memories have not yet been blocked out by adulthood."

Gahan Wilson's The Kid airs on Showtime on October 28th at 8:00 pm and on Showtime Too on October 29th at 9:00 pm.

MAGE

[Mage]Andrew Cosby, producer on the big-screen version of Matt Wagner's Mage, tells Comics2Film that the movie is progressing through development.

F. Gary Gray (The Negotiator) signed on as director on the film last July. Cosby tells us that Gray is currently working to get the script ready to shoot. John Rogers (American Outlaws) penned the current draft of the screenplay.

Currently there's no word on casting for the film or when production may start. The Spyglass Entertainment Mage page still indicates a December 2002 projected release date.

AVENGELYNE

Fans who are fretting over the fate of the movie version of Rob Liefeld's Avengelyne may find encouragement in a recent Variety article.

The article is details a recent career move by independent producer Kevin Messick (American Pimp) who is taking a position at Paramount Picture's Mutual Film Co. (Tomb Raider). Messick (along with Bay Films' VP Jennifer Klein) will be a senior executive at Mutual.

According to the write-up Messick is still attached to produce Avengelyne for New Line Cinema.

Thanks to Greg Dean Schmitz at UpcomingMovies.com for the lead.

SPIDER-MAN

Variety reports that Spider-Man director Sam Raimi is already laying the groundwork for a sequel to next summer's most-anticipated comic book adaptation. According to the report Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst have option deals for two more Spidey flicks.

In other news, the official Spider-man movie site posted a handful of new pics from the film. Checking the site's "On Location" area fans will find a pic of Willem Dafoe, another pic of Tobey Maguire, James Franco and director Sam Raimi, and a third pic pf the crew on the Times Square balcony set.

COMIC BOOK MOVIE DOMAINS

The Comics2Film web-squirrel has been busy rounding up domain-name nuts and it's uncovered a number of registrations that are of interest to comic book movie fans.

First up is daredevilmovie.com. This domain was purchased in July by New Regency Productions for the purposes of promoting the soon-to-lens Daredevil film.

Almost a year ago Discovery Channel grabbed up tutenstein.com, tutenstein.net and tutenstein.org. The cable network has long had in development an animated version of Jay Stephen's Tutenstein (currently starring in Oni Press' Jetcat Clubhouse).

Clive Barker's Seraphim Films registered saintsinner.com and saintsinner.org at the end of August. Seraphim is actively developing Barker's Saint Sinner as a movie for the SCI-FI Channel.

Speaking of Barker, Paramount Pictures just purchased ecto-kidmovie.com this week. This would be for the Ecto-Kid feature that was announced in August. Like Saint Sinner, Ecto-Kid was a comic created by Barker for Marvel's Epic line.

As is usually the case these domain names are purchased long before the website goes active, so don't be disappointed if clicking the above links takes you to a general corporate site or even nowhere.

SABRINA SPIN-OFF

The producers of the popular and long-running Sabrina, the Teenage Witch are making another try at conjuring up a spin-off from the series according to today's Hollywood Reporter. The show has tried previously to create a companion show with their Spells Trouble concept in 1999 and Witchright Hall this year.

Both shows utilized an episode each of the Sabrina series to serve as a back-door pilot for an ongoing show. Witchright Hall was targeted to be in this year's fall schedule, but its post-Sabrina timeslot was given to Maybe It's Me instead.

The new concept will also appear first as an episode of Sabrina. It will focus on a family with a talking dog, perhaps creating a rival for Sabrina's talking cat, Salem. Russell Marcus (Married ... With Children) is set to pen the show, which will be produced by Paula Hart's Hartbreak Films and Viacom.

MEN IN BLACK 2

Patrick Warburton (The Tick) is set to play one of a series of agents partnered with Will Smith in the upcoming Men In Black 2 movie. The actor sat down with SCI FI Wire to talk about his experiences as Agent T in that movie. The actors comments to the site were amusing, but not necessarily informative.

SCI FI asked if Agent T got to fire any special weapons in the movie. Warburton replied, "Gosh, I guess I'm not that special. I felt good about it up until this point."

As far as aliens encountered by T, the actor talked about, "very scary subway aliens. You've seen them before. Have you ever traveled around New York City underground? You know what I'm talking about."

So how does Smith's Jay end up ditching T and reuniting with Tommy Lee Jones' agent Kay? Warburton told SCI FI, "I've already said too much."

CONAN 3

Over at IGN FilmForce Stax crushes his enemies, sees them driven before him, and hears the lamentation of the women with his latest script review. This time Stax takes on King Conan: Crown of Iron, the proposed 3rd Conan movie. The script is by John Milius, the writer and director of the original.

Stax characterizes his review as "slightly positive with some spoilers."

CROSSGEN

[CrossGen]Last week CrossGen Comics announced a deal that set up producer Michael Uslan (Batman) as the sole developer of their comic book properties. This week Matt Brady at Newsarama sat down with the producer and talked about the deal, how it happened and what it means.

According to the report Uslan was approached by CrossGen's Mark Alessi and Tony Pannacio about developing the company's concepts as movie or TV projects. Uslan was reluctant to get involved until CrossGen threw down the Pepsi challenge: read the comics and then decide.

"Everything changed from that day," Uslan told Brady. "I read about everything CrossGen had produced, and I couldn't believe what I was reading. Here was a comic book company, with maybe the exception of Classics Illustrated that was going out without a single superhero in its lineup." Uslan said that CrossGen's commitment to the fantasy and science fiction genres fits neatly with Hollywood's current focus, which includes high-profile films like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings.

Uslan was impressed by the rich artwork of the book, but even more so by the well-developed stories.

Uslan's focus will be on finding the best homes for CrossGen's various characters. "I'm going to nurse and shepherd these properties into development with specially selected companies that I think will fit like a glove for each property, be it studio for a motion picture, a television company, a television studio, or an animation studio," Uslan said,. "And to piece together the puzzle and also to make sure as we proceed that it's packaged with the right talent that's capable of really executing these projects in a great and bankable way."

The producer will be looking to set up talent packages (writers, directors and stars) that will allow the projects to move forward quickly.

Unlike many comic book movie translations, Uslan hopes to keep the comic book creators involved. "[CrossGen has] such wonderful writers and artists that are going to participate in the development process. I want their writers to be working with us on concepts and treatments and stories, and their artists working on presentation pieces and pitch pieces that can really help sell an idea."

The NY-based Uslan reports he's heading out to California next week to begin pitches.

Visit Newsarama for more insights from Uslan on the CrossGen deal.

MUTANT X

[Mutant X]Mutant X made it's debut in first-run syndication earlier this month. Lead John Shea recently talked to SCI FI Wire about the new show. The actor has gone back and forth between acting in commercial, genre fare and more serious material.

"When Mutant X was offered to me, it seemed like the natural evolution of the cycle, back to the commercial end, back to where I'd been with Lois & Clark," Shea told SCI FI. The actor is well remembered for his turn as the villainous Lex Luthor on Lois & Clark.

"I didn't want to repeat myself and play another villain. What I like about Adam is that he's sort of an antihero. He's a wounded idealist, which is something I could relate to," Shea said. "I liked that he's a complicated modern hero who's not so clearly black and white. I also met with [producer] Jamie Paul Rock and Howard Chaykin, the head writer, and I liked their take on what they promised would come. They said Mutant X would become an ensemble piece that would deal with some fairly serious issues and, at the same time, be enormously entertaining and broadly popular."

The show has sold two seasons worth of episodes. Shea told SCI FI that he looks forward to watching the character and the concept evolve, and knowing that he'll be on board for 44 episodes.

JUSTICE LEAGUE

The Comics Continuum provides details about the upcoming "In Blackest Night" story arc for the Justice League TV show. The show spotlights The Green Lantern. The Continuum spoke with the show's producer, Rich Fogel, about the episode.

"It highlights our Green Lantern, John Stewart," Fogel said. "[Writer Stan Berkowitz] and [director Butch Lukic] did an outstanding job with a story that literally spans galaxies. There are plenty of surprises along the way, and just wait for the big action finale in Part Two. I've never seen anything like it on TV. Incredible!"

Phil LeMarr (Static Shock!, Mad TV) provides the voice for the Green Lantern. Parts 1 and 2 of the story arc air November 19th and November 26th.

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