Comics2Film

Wed, May 8th, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rob Worley, Columnist

SPIDER-MAN AND LOTS OF MARVEL

[Spider-Man]Hot on the heels of the news of Spider-Man's uncontestable box office dominance, Sony Pictures and Marvel have released twin statements touting the web-slinger and other upcoming projects.

Sony announced that the unprecedented reaction to Spider-Man will indeed have Spider-Man 2 filming early next year shooting for a May 7, 2004 release.

Marvel Enterprises CEO Peter Cuneo announced that it has received a substantial, seven figure advance for the sequel.

"We said last week that the Spider-Man movie would usher in the Golden Age of Marvel. While we had great confidence in the potential of the Spider-Man motion picture, no one could have predicted the remarkable, record-breaking success the film has achieved in its opening weekend. We are extremely grateful for the creative achievement of our own Avi Arad, executive producer of the film, director Sam Raimi, producer Laura Ziskin, and the many extraordinary talents who contributed to the film," said Cuneo. "As the head of Marvel Studios, Avi Arad has always believed that our characters would be Hollywood celebrities and it is his pursuit and realization of this dream that has made this day so special. We are also very grateful to the many executives at Sony/Columbia Pictures for their dedication in bringing one of our premiere characters to life, and executing a superb, record-setting marketing strategy."

Sony now fixes Spidey's opening weekend receipts at a whopping $114,844,116. The record-breaking debut earned a per screen average of $31,769 and shattered a number of industry benchmarks including:

  • Best Opening in Box Office History
  • Best Single Day Gross (Saturday 5/4 $43,622,264)
  • Fastest Film to Cross $100 million (3 days)
  • Biggest Per Screen Average for a Wide Release ($31,769)
  • The movie also set records in its international debut with record-breaking openings in Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, The Phillipines, and Thailand.

"It took a superhero to deliver these historic numbers," Jeff Blake, President of Worldwide Marketing and Distribution for Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group said. "The magnitude of this achievement is staggering by every standard and Spider-Man's success is a wonderful tribute to a character that has meant so much to so many people for the past forty years. The cast and filmmakers were dedicated to Stan Lee's imaginative vision, and Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst deserve our thanks and all the credit for bringing Spider-Man to life in such a magnificent, memorable and exciting way."

Marvel will continue to reap the benefits of the Spider-Man movie as the company has a gross participation from dollar one in the box office as well as earns revenue from the DVD sales and the pay-per-view, cable and network television deals. The company also generates revenue from the licensing and merchandising of the movie -- including the brisk-selling toys, action figures and accessories from the company's internal toy division, Toy Biz.

Marvel points to a slate of projects, at various stages of development, that will continue the company's big-screen success. The Hulk and Daredevil are currently filming, with recent Hulk teaser already generating excitement. X-Men 2 is slated to go into production on June first with a targeted release date of May 2003. Blade 3 is also on the horizon.

Additional Marvel franchises scheduled to get the big screen treatment include: Sub-Mariner (Universal), Ghost Rider (Sony), Fantastic Four (Fox), Dr. Strange (Dimension), Iron Man (New Line), Prime (Universal), and from Artisan Punisher and Iron Fist.

SPIDER-MAN

In early March of 1999, with the legal tangle around the Spider-Man movie untangling once and for all, Comics2Film fielded a poll with its readers asking the question: "Who should direct Spider-Man?"

Showing uncanny foresight readers selected none other than Sam Raimi as their top choice to helm the comic book adaptation. Some nine months later Raimi got the job. As everyone has learned since then, Raimi got the job, in part, because he is a longtime and enthusiastic fan of the comics.

"We are very fortunate that Sam grew up with Spider-man, always wanted to do it and grew up saying, 'Maybe one day I'll make it and I can make that movie,'" producer and Marvel Studios chief Avi Arad said of Raimi.

Willem Dafoe, who plays the movie's villain, adds, "Here's a guy that loves Spider-Man. Here's a guy that has lots of style, has a very personal way of looking at things."

For actor James Franco, having Raimi at the helm was a big part of why he wanted to do the movie. "I've always been a fan of Sam. Evil Dead are fantastic. His recent movies as well: A Simple Plan and The Gift. He was a big draw for me."

On the set Franco was not disappointed, "He's great with actors. If you look at the recent films...he gives each character their own life and background. Even though this was a supporting role I felt like he wouldn't leave me out to dry," Franco said.

Kirsten Dunst agrees. "He inspires you on set. He is so passionate about Spider-Man and so passionate about what he does," the actress said. "He's just such a good man. He did make you want to do the best job you can."

Dafoe also had praise for Raimi's on-set persona. "He is terrifically warm and terrifically unassuming and respectful," Dafoe said. "He defers to you a lot, encourages you to participate. In the end he's a very strong personality, really works the details, always gets what he wants, every decision in the end is his. He makes you feel like you're in the driver's seat."

Producer Laura Ziskin also talked about that attention to detail. "He creates a fantastic atmosphere," the producer said. "He wears a ties to the set every day as a demonstration for his respect for the people with whom he's working. He's very, very funny, very focused, incredibly prepared. He's as prepared a director as I've ever worked with."

Actor J.K. Simmons had worked with the director previously on For Love of the Game and The Gift. The actor told C2F that he and Raimi's preparedness is balanced by a sense of spontaneity. "I always tell people Sam is the ideal combination of a very meticulously prepared director, but who is also very open to improvising and coming up with stuff on the spot. That's a really rare combination," Simmons said.

"Sam is a real novelty. He's a treasure," Arad adds. "He's a kind, smart storyteller. Laura made a lot more movies than I did, but in my experience this guy is very special.

"The moment we met we knew he was going to be special. We didn't know he'd be special under pressure."

Pressure indeed...then relief. Several years worth of buzz exploded into a movie event that marked up the record books, and continues to do so. But even before the movie realized its success Sony apparently saw that he was doing something right. The studio's already signed him for Spider-Man 2, which is set to lens early next year.

POWERS, AGE OF HEROES, PSYCHO, THE, BASTARD SAMURAI

[Powers]Comics2Film spoke with producer David Engel this week. Engel has a slate of comic book movie projects, not the least of which is the adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming's Powers. Last week it was announced that director Frank Oz is in talks to helm the pic.

"Brian and I are unbelievably flattered that Frank Oz is interested in Powers," Engel

told us.

"I'm totally psyched for this," Bendis posted on his new message board at Image Comics

If Oz signs for the movie, there'll likely be some additional work on the script followed casting. Engel speculates that the director's ability to attract actors will make that process move quickly. "Here's a guy who cast Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton in one movie," Engel said, referring to last year's The Score.

Sony is eyeing Powers as a 2004 release.

In addition to Powers Engel is also developing James Hudnall's Chiller. The producer told C2F that he's got even more comic based projects in development. "We're way down the road with A-list writers on three more projects that I'm very excited about," Engel said. "The titles are so rich and cool. I feel really good about them."

[Bastard Samurai]One of the projects is none other than Oeming's new title Bastard Samurai. "Bastard Samurai is awesome," Engel enthused. "It's a contemporary Samurai story set in New York City."

The first issue of the book was recently published by Image. It's written by Oeming and Miles Gunter with art by Kelsey Shannon.

[The Psycho]Another soon-to-pen script will be for The Psycho, based on a comic book written by Hudnall with art by Dan Brereton. The comic tells the tale of Jake Riley, a man forced to become the thing he hates, a superhuman agent in the service of the government.

"The Psycho is unbelievably cool," Engel said. "It is the hottest comic book that has never been exposed to Hollywood."

[Age of Heroes]The third project is Hudnall's fantasy adventure Age of Heroes. Engel describes that concept as a medieval X-Men.

The producer did not want to name the talent he's bringing on board the new projects, but promised more information as soon as the deals are signed.

HELLBOY

Director Guillermo del Toro (Blade 2) told Comics2Film that he's "over the moon" about the recent greenlighting of Hellboy. He confirmed that the movie's budget is $60 million and Ron Perlman will be playing the big guy. He also plans to make sure the comics' creator has plenty of say in things.

"I know this movie is important for the fans so I am keeping Mike Mignola involved ALL THROUGH the process," Del Toro told us.

He went on to say that Hellboy's creator will likely have a co-producer or executive producer credit, "thus having him involved in the decision making for the movie in pre-production, production and post-production."

Del Toro also said that it's not just his and Mignola's opinions that are important. He wants to hear from Hellboy fans too. "I will welcome one and all letters of support and good will," the filmmaker said.

To that end we've set up a special e-mail address for fans to send their inquires. E-mails sent to hellboy@comics2film.com will go directly to Del Toro. The director said he can't promise to answer them all, but he does want to hear what the fans think.

Look for more Hellboy developments right here on C2F.

According to this week's Entertainment Weekly , Guillermo Del Toro is looking to cast some more roles for his greenlit Hellboy film. The magazine mentions that Del Toro is eyeing Steve Buscemi and John Heard for roles in the film.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES - ANIMATED SHOW

4Kids Entertainment, Inc. and Mirage Licensing, Inc. announced yesterday that 4Kids will produce twenty-six (26) episodes of a new animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television series.

According to the press release, the new Ninja Turtles series is scheduled to premiere in the first quarter of 2003 on the Fox Saturday Morning Block programmed by 4Kids. In addition to producing the television series, 4Kids will also serve as the exclusive merchandise licensing agent for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles property worldwide.

"In reintroducing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I am pleased to say that 4Kids will be going back to the Turtles' comic book roots," said Peter Laird, co-creator of the Turtles. "We anticipate that the new Ninja Turtles series will contain the same irreverent contemporary humor and compelling action sequences that the Turtles are famous for, updated for the 21st century."

HULK

[Hulk]
[Hulk]
[Hulk]
The Hulk teaser trailer aired on Entertainment Tonight last night. The clip is sure to send chills down the fanboy spine as we get a mere glimpse of jade-jaws.

If you missed it, Universal has now put the teaser online. Tune your browser to Apple.com for a QuickTime peek at the new Bruce Banner and his startling metamorphosis!

Hurry up Summer of 2003!

Thanks to James Harvey and Craig Haubert for the lead!

Meanwhile, Dark Horizons is reporting that bodybuilder Lee Priest has been chosen to be computer mapped for the digital model of the Hulk being used in the feature film. According to Priest's web site his competition weight is usually between 200-225 pounds. He stands about 5'4 and his arms measure about 20 and inches. Strangely, you can find pictures of Lee Priest on the site.

SOME TROUBLE OF A SERRIOUS NATURE

[Some Trouble Of A Serious Nature]Comic scribe and Comic Book Marketplace executive editor J.C. Vaughn is ready for his close-up!

Comic creator turned filmmaker Billy Tucci (Shi) told Comics2Film that Vaughn is filming a part in his independent movie Some Trouble of a SeRRious Nature this week.

Principal photography on the movie wrapped last year, but Tucci shooting additional footage on the for 3 extra days in New York. The new footage provides a framing sequence for the story of two country boys who take possession of a Chance Vought F4U Corsair fighter plane.

Vaughn plays an aircraft manufacturing rep who puzzles over a complaint letter that tells the heroes' comedic story. The comic writer landed the part after it was passed over by manly man Beau Smith and the director himself.

Vaughn may be best known for his graphic novel McCandless & Company. Published last year, the comic garnered critical praise and instant attention from Hollywood.

DAREDEVIL

[Joe Quesada on the set of Daredevil]Fox has released a new image from the set of Daredevil. The last photo features Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, who paid a visit to the set. No word is given as to whether Quesada got in front of the camera or if he was just there observing.

In other news, Ben Affleck recently talked to Dark Horizon's Paul Fischer, about his roles in The Sum of All Fears, Changing Lanes and most importantly to C2F readers: Daredevil. Affleck said that he had been working out a lot for Daredevil and maintaining a healthy life style. This made him feel good.

When the role became available to the actor he jumped for it, "I had no qualms about doing that, because that was a comic that I SO loved as a kid, that if I hadn't done it, I'd just hate myself." He said.

Affleck also revealed that it was a challenge bringing Daredevil's abilities to life, "because he's not exactly blind, because he has this kind of sonar ability, so he doesn't see through his eyes, but more in a 360 degree way, seeing more objects, than texture. That's been a challenge and quite hard, because is he blind or not blind? I don't have eyes at the back of my head, so I had to do all these tricks."

On trick involved blinding the actor. "They gave me these contact lenses that actually MADE me blind," Affleck said, "but the problem with that, was that I really do walk into tables and stuff, which he wouldn't do, because he's a superhero, but it's a challenge and we're working on it."

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN

Variety confirms internet rumors that Shane West is coming on board The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The trade reports that the actor is in negotiations for the part of Tom Sawyer, an American police detective.

Variety reports that the details are still being worked out, but the casting seems likely.

West joins Sean Connery on the project. Stephen Norrington is set to direct. The film is produced by Don Murphy, with Mark Gordon exec producing.

BULLETPROOF MONK

Michael Stevens of Sneak Peek fame was kind enough to send in a set report from the May 1st shooting of Bulletproof Monk in Toronto. The report is from 'Griffin Mill' who worked as a background performer on the project.

The report does contain potential spoilers, so read it at your own peril. Here's an edited version of Griffin Mill's report:

I just finished working as an extra (playing a 'pedestrian') on Day 26 of Bulletproof Monk. The Second Unit Director is Guy Norris who started out as a stunt performer in Mad Max 2 : The Road Warrior (one of the Mohawks), working his way up to Stunt Co-ordinator for Quigly Down Under, Red Planet and Moulin Rouge.

The Main Unit filming (already in the can from another day's shoot) was set in an industrial warehouse loft, where 'The Monk-With-No-Name' trains 'Kar' in martial arts exercises, saying things like, "Its not about anger. Its about peace. Its not about power. Its about grace. Its not about knowing your enemy. Its all about knowing yourself ..."

Suddenly a helicopter looms into view and shatters the loft windows with a hail of machine-gun fire. As Monk and Kar run for safety into the stairwell, they are spotted by two 'Heavily-Armed Badass Mercs' coming up the stairs.

The Monk goes into action and 'Merc 1' falls down the stairwell (stunt #1 - Second Unit). The Monk and Kar dive for cover as the Mercs open fire. The Monk races back into his studio, then leaps up through an open skylight and swings himself onto the roof, followed by Kar (stunt #2 - Second Unit).

SECOND UNIT : (on the day)

Monk (stunt double) and Kar (stunt double) stare helplessly as a dark Mercedes SUV screeches up to the curb on the street down below. 'Pedestrians' react as 'Nina' (Victoria Smurfit) grabs up THE SCROLL which is lying in the street (?!). Nina gets back into the car and speeds off down the road.

Suddenly 4 police cars pull up to a stop in front of the warehouse. The cops charge inside the warehouse and race up the stairs to the roof-top. The cops smash the rooftop door wide open, and look around. But Kar and The Monk are gone.

That was it for my day. The catered lunch was terrific. Chicken, fish, pasta. Great group of people to work with.

MORT THE DEAD TEENAGER

Mort the Dead Teenager, a comic book series about... if you can't guess from the title... a dead teenager, may be once again moving toward the big screen.

According to Fox 411, Quentin Tarantino and Lawrence Bender will serve as Executive Producers on the film, along with Madonna's production company Maverick Films. The film has been in limbo for some time, after Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis' plans for the project died.

Reportedly, Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood may be playing living-impaired character.

Thanks to IGN Film Force for the lead.

WITCHBLADE SEASON 2

Witchblade fans can tune their web browsers to TNT's Multimedia site for the official trailer for the second season of Witchblade. Much of the trailer is drawn from season one, but it looks as if there are some snippets from the new episodes as well.

The show is set to return on Sunday, June 16th with a two-hour block of episodes. Airing at 8 p.m. (ET) is "Emergence". TNT provides this description:

"In the season premiere, it's a case of deja vu when Sara Pezzini is once again chosen to wield the Witchblade. But when the sinister Kenneth Irons vows to take the powerful weapon from her, can she master its powers in time to defend her destiny?"

Another episode, "Destiny", follows at 9 p.m.:

"Using the powers of the Witchblade, Sara saves the life of her partner, Danny Woo. But when Irons procures an ancient weapon, can she save herself as the battle for the Witchblade turns into a fight to the death?"

Encores begin at 10 p.m. the same night.

The debut is followed by another new episode in the show's regular time slot on Monday, June 17th at 9p.m. (ET). Here's the synopsis for that episode, "Agape":

"As Sara and Danny investigate a series of bizarre drug-related murders, rookie detective Jake is pulled into a sting with a questionable cop. Now Sara must learn to use the Witchblade to solve the crime and save Jake before it's too late.".

An encore airs on Tuesday, June 18th at 11p.m. (ET).

Thanks to Dex and Ron for the scoop!

SPAWN 2

The 'Devil' himself sat down at his computer a few weeks back to chat with the common folk about his massive success, and and more to the point, to hype the new documentary on him - Todd McFarlane: The Devil You Know. On USA TODAY.com, McFarlane typed away, covering all his film and TV work. He even found time to say a word on a certain wall-crawler he used to be associated with.

Right off the bat, McFarlane was asked how he felt about the boom in comic to film adaptations. He said that after spending so much time in the medium and community of comic books, that "...it's a thrill to see it get out to the public."

Of course there was also talk of McFarlane's favorite son - Spawn. When can we expect season four of the Spawn Animated Series? "We don't have a deadline right now, but we have hopes for next year," McFarlane said. He also said they have some new visuals in store for the next Spawn animation. "We're actually talking to some companies to see if we can give it more of a "Japanimation" look"

Live-action Spawn: a frank chatter from Jackson, MS told McFarlane he thought the first Spawn film "failed to capture the torment of it's title character," and asked what the creator thought of his first film project. Though McFarlane has often said the sequel would go in a different direction, he was uncharacteristically humble:

"We were first time filmmakers." (note: not only was it McFarlane's first film, it was the first and only film to date for visual F/X wizard Mark Dippe). "And we all tried our best. With some hindsight and a little more skill on our side, I think we could have delivered more story instead of dazzling with special effects."

On Spawn 2, McFarlane said "Columbia Pictures has the Spawn script I gave them for the second movie, which is a reinvention of the character as opposed to a sequel. I'm supposed to head in there next week to get their notes on the script."

Other properties: McFarlane updated the fans on the Brian Michael Bendis comic Book Torso, a dramatization of the true story of Elliot Ness on the trail of America's first serial killer. When asked if we'll se the film soon, McFarlane said, "We hope so! Again, in Hollywood you sell them the ideas and then begin development. Sometimes it goes quickly, sometimes it goes nowhere. We've just begun the process of looking for a writer to do a final screenplay."

There was also mention of another collaboration with the creator of the Hellraiser films. "We've got another project that Clive Barker and I are working on based on the toyline we did together that's called Tortured Souls.

Also, look for Todd's latest foray into film, in the suddenly controversially titled The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys, starring Jodie Foster. In the film, a disadvantaged youth escapes through the wonder of comics, and that leads to a short animated sequence directed by none other than McFarlane. "For people looking for [my] animation, I did about 10 minutes worth for that movie."

And finally, before he left, McFarlane also chimed in on whether he was excited to see the new Spider-Man film. "Yes. On a fan level and also by the fact that Spider-Man was the character that put me over the top in my career, too. I have an emotional tie to this character, too."

Todd Trivia: McFarlane, creator of many violent comic books, Film, and TV products, minced no words regarding policy on real-life guns. "I don't think we'd have death by guns if there were no guns. It's a pretty simple equation. I don't believe our forefathers would have been quite as anxious about codifying the right to bear arms if someone had shown them how a submachine gun works." Fight the power, Todd.

MORE SPIDER-MAN

Entertainment Weekly wanted some answers about the Spider-Man movie, so they made it the subject of their latest "Burning Questions" feature and took the queries straight to the filmmaker's.

According to the article the movie Spider-Man's costume is designed to accommodate his powers. Producer Laura Ziskin said there is a "little hole" in the costume for Spidey to shoot his webs.

Director Sam Raimi, reports that the micro-hairs that aid the webslinger in wall climbing are microscopic and capable of puncturing through his costume.

Producers Avi Arad and Ziskin also explain why early on in the film Bone Saw McGraw was able to clobber Spidey with a metal folding chair. Arad said, "When you have inanimate objects like a chair coming from a very short distance, there is no way for the warning to [kick in]," Arad said.

Ziskin adds, "He's still learning at that point."

SMALLVILLE

In two recent interviews, Alfred Gough, the Executive Producer of Smallville revealed what lies in store for Clark and the gang.

In an interview found at The Superman Homepage, Gough talks about how Clark will change and grow next season.

"Season 2 is about getting to the heart of who he is and where he's from. I mean again, we're not going to see anything like the Phantom Zone or anything. But we'll definitely start to take steps in that direction in terms of discovering his origin and where he's from."

"I think what's been really good is that people have been responding to the characters. If you'd asked me a year ago what I thought would drive the show I would have said the plots, but know I think it's the emotional stories that drive the episodes. So know I think it's trying to find a balance between that and trying to service the element of the Superman thing, you know a Superman show. I mean we're not interested in doing "Krypton Creek" but next season you'll see bigger episodes that'll be focused on his powers and then I think we'll see some more dramatic episodes, you know things that are more real-world. Maybe see the return of some of the "villains" we've seen from this season and other characters that we've met. We'll see the emergence of more of Clark's powers, we'll meet Martha's parents. I think that's the plan... to keep expanding the stories."

At Television Without Pity, the discussion turned to the hope of the show's producers that Bruce Wayne may be able to make an appearance. When Gough was asked about the subject, this was his response:

"Not in the near future. I think that's something that we could potentially see a little further down the road. That all has to do with issues, financial and rights control. It's an ongoing dream. [Laughs.] It's just hard when you cross those two worlds. It's difficult. You deal with Warner features and DC comics and other entities. If anyone doesn't like the idea, it's dead. It's just finding the right way to approach that."

Gough mentions that next season's episodes will feature more realistic crimes and not quite so many Kryptonite-induced mutations. He also says the characters of Pete Ross and Martha Kent will be fleshed out more next season and will have more stories dealing with them. Smallville's inaugural season will come to an end on May 21.

X-MEN 2

Anderson Jones reported in his Movie Scoop column this week that he is friends with X-Men 2 screenwriters Dan Harris, and Mike Dougherty.

Harris and Dougherty are currently doing rewrites and polishing up the script to X2. Jones writes that once a draft is set, production will begin on the sequel. Harris and Dougherty both chose the mutant movie over another project that came their way: Urban Legends 3.

Jones' friends are keeping mum the details of the sequel but he speculates that, "Magneto will likely escape that plastic prison and join the good guys against a new threat."

In other X2 news, IGN Film Force reports that contrary to previous rumors, Kevin Dillon will not be appearing in X2. Dillon was rumored to be playing a "Colonel Frank Davis." in the highly anticipated sequel to X-Men

The Twentieth Century Fox production is set to be in theaters May 2, 2003.

SPIDER-MAN ANIMATED SHOW

Toonz one.net recently posted some images and video of the upcoming 3-D Spider-Man Animated series. The images are some striking and dramatic shots of Spidey in action throughout the city. The images were shown with the special MTV did on Spider-Man.

Also in Spider-Man animated news, TV Guide online recently conducted an interview with the voice of the new animated Spider-Man Neil Patrick Harris. Harris describe his qualifications for being the animated Spidey's voice, "I still have a bit of an adolescent tinge to my tenor when I talk, so I think that plays well for Peter Parker. And then I can change it to be Spider-Man, who's a trash-talkin' guy. Since I sing and stuff, I'm pretty aware of inflection."

The Spider-Man animated series is set to air this fall on MTV.

CATWOMAN

Just days after IGN Film Force reviewed the script for the new Catwoman movie, the site reports that casting is underway.

FilmForce reports that reliable sources have informed them that Owen Wilson has been offered the lead male role in the film, to star opposite Ashley Judd. Wilson, who is best known for his comedic roles in such films as Shanghai Noon and The Royal Tenenbaums has been approached to play John Lone. In the script, Lone is a former Gotham City police officer who worked on the costumed hero and villain cases. When Catwoman appears in his new home, Lake City, Lone is back on the case.

While Wilson has been offered the role, he reportedly has not yet accepted it.

SUPERMAN

Despite rumors to the contrary, Brendan Fraser has not yet signed on to play the Man of Steel in the next Superman movie from Warner Bros. Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith over at Creators.com report that, although Fraser is a definite contender for the role, no casting decisions will be made until the script is finalized.

Director McG (the director of Charlie's Angels - who is slated to direct Charlie's Angels 2, which is currently estimated out in 2003) signed to direct the fifth Superman movie back in February. J.J. Abrams of, creator of Felicity and Alias (springboard of future Elektra, Jennifer Garner) has writing duties on the project.

Beck and Smith hint that Fraser would want script approval, should he be offered the role.

ASTERIX AND OBELIX: MISSION CLEOPATRA, BLUEBERRY, L'AVENTURIER, WOMAN TRAP, THE, LA MARQUE JAUNE, FANTOMAS, MICHEL VAILLANT

It's no doubt that the blockbuster status of Spider-Man will push the comic-to-film drive even further in the U.S. but Variety reports a similar phenomena occurring in France.

The French comic flick Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra has racked up $100 million in ticket sales, sparking a comic book feeding frenzy in that country.

Brotherhood of the Wolf helmer Christophe Gans is set to direct L'Aventurier. for Eskwad Prods. The English language movie is set to lens next January and will be the highest priced French film to date with a $45million budget.

Moebius' Blueberry is filming this month in Mexico for La Petite Reine. That company is also adapting Fantomas based on the cult comic strip. Jean Reno is set to star with Frederic Forestier directing.

Comics creator Enki Bilal is directing and adaptation of his book The Woman Trap (La Femme Piege) for Telema. The film is due out this year.

Telema is also working up La Marque Jaune for a 2004 release. James Huth (Serial Lover) is directing.

Luc Besson is producing a film version of the race-car strip Michel Vaillant. Filming is slated to start on that one in June.

GHOST RIDER, SPIDER-MAN 2

While certain actors have already been confirmed to return for Spider-Man 2, James Franco isn't sure if he will, says The Calgary Sun.

Franco plays Peter Parker's best friend Harry Osborn in the highly anticipated film which opens today. The young actor says that while he hasn't been told he's returning for the sequel, he hasn't been told he's not returning either.

Franco also mentioned that if he isn't in Spider-Man 2, which is set to begin production in January, he'd be interested in being in Ghost Rider with Nicolas Cage.

RANXEROX

Comics2Film would like to clarify last week's Ranxerox report. Although the article was factually accurate, it omitted important details about producer Fernando Sulichin of Blacklist Films in Paris, who is a partner on the project. Sulichin has been instrumental in developing the project and has worked closely with director Chris Cunningham in the past.

THIS WEEK ON SABRINA THE TEEANAGE WITCH

Melissa Joan Hart directs the season finale in which Hilda ties the knot on "I Fall To Pieces," this week's episode of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.

Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) fears that Hilda (Caroline Rhea) is impulsively jumping into marriage on the rebound, so she uses magic to break it up, resulting in driving away Hilda's one true soul mate and shattering her into pieces. In order to save Hilda from a broken heart, Sabrina is forced to gamble with her own love life. Melissa Joan Hart directed the episode written by Jon Vandergriff (Home Improvement).

"I Fall To Pieces" airs Friday, May 10 at 8:00 p.m. on The WB Network.

Thanks to author and comic book movie journalist Andy Mangels for the info.

NEXT WEEK ON JUSTICE LEAGUE

Next Sunday night brings another encore for Justice League. Cartoon Network presents a re-airing of part II of "War World."

In this episode Superman has been forced to engage in gladiator style games by Mongul, the despotic ruler of War World. The Martian Manhunter works to free Superman as Green Lantern and Hawkgirl race to the rescue.

"War World Part II" airs Sunday, May 12th at 7:00 p.m. on Cartoon Network. Another Encore showing is at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 18th. The widescreen presentation airs the same day at 10:00 p.m.

NEXT WEEK ON SMALLVILLE

Lana sees through the eyes of a murderer in "Obscura", the May 14th episode of Smallville.

Clark (Tom Welling) and Lana (Kristin Kreuk) race against time to find a kidnapped Chloe (Allison Mack) after a kryptonite explosion gives Lana the ability to "see" through the kidnapper's eyes and she watches Chloe being buried alive. Meanwhile, Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) discovers evidence that a spaceship landed in Smallville during the meteor shower. Terrance O'Hara directed the episode with story written by Greg Walker and teleplay by Michael Green & Mark Verheiden.

"Obscura" airs Tuesday, May 14th at 9:00 p.m. ET on The WB network.

Thanks to author and comic book movie journalist Andy Mangels for the info.

THIS WEEK ON JEREMIAH

Jeremiah and Kurdy are reunited with the one person they never wanted to see again: Theo (from the pilot movie) in "Thieves' Honor," the next episode Jeremiah. It's a fun episode written by executive producer Sam Egan.

Jeremiah (Luke Perry) and Kurdy (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) are sent to Clairfield to find Elizabeth (Kandyse McClure) and a friend who were captured by Theo's jocks. Meanwhile, investigations are under way to find a potential traitor who's been leaking information from Thunder Mountain. The episode is written by Sam Egan and directed by Holly Dale.

"Thieves' Honor" airs Friday, May 10th at 10:45 P.M. on Showtime. There will also be an encore on Sunday, May 12th on Showtime Beyond East at 10:45 PM (ET & PT).

Preview clips of the show are available online at Showtime's Jeremiah site. Click "Episode Preview" from the site's nav.

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