Comics2Film

Wed, May 22nd, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rob Worley, Columnist

HELLBOY

[Hellboy]Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro told Comics2Film that he's just completed a polish on the script for the film.

The director first penned his draft of the screenplay some three years ago. "The essence of the piece remains exactly the same as in the last draft," Del Toro said. He told us he's added some new action and settings and removed an original character that he'd created for the piece.

The movie is in preproduction, with the art team due to get started in a few weeks. "We start conceptual design probably June the 10th. We're gonna have [Hellboy creator Mike Mignola] and [Wayne] Barlow here," Del Toro said, stating that other artist were on the team as well. However, comic illustrator Richard Corben could not find time in his schedule for the film.

The crew will go straight to work on the cast of characters and impressive lineup which includes Hellboy, the amphibious Abe Sapien, the fire starting Liz Sherman, the vampire-loving Ilsa Hauptein, the villainous Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, Hellboy's mentor Professor Bruttenholm, Dr. Tom Manning and Kroenen.

Other familiar characters appear very briefly. Von Klempt, still intact, makes an appearance. Roger the homunculus will make a blink-and-miss-it cameo as well. "We will not use the Mignola patented Kriegaffe," del Toro said.

However these characters could figure more prominently into a sequel. "My hope is that for a sequel, if there is one, then we can bring in some of the real B.P.R.D. members like Roger the homunculus or someone equally picturesque," the director reported.

Casting is due to begin in July. Ron Perlman, of course, has landed the role of Hellboy. Del Toro said he favors Kevin Spacey or Steve Buscemi as the voice for Abe Sapien. "Now that I've finished the rewrite I think definitely Spacey would be the best for that voice," Del Toro said. "I think the perfect Rasputin would be Jean Reno or Gary Oldman. The perfect professor Bruttenholm would be John Hurt."

The one character Del Toro doesn't have specific casting in mind for is Liz. "You need someone that is truly striking and also a very good actor. It's a difficult part. Liz is probably, in the comic books, the most complex character emotionally."

DAREDEVIL

[Daredevil]Daredevil writer/director Mark Steven Johnson has said in recent interviews that the character's renaissance in the comic books has reignited his passion for the medium. Not surprisingly the movie pays homage to past and present creators.

Of course Stan Lee is making one of his patented cameos in the film, playing the elderly gent that Matt Murdock saves while sacrificing his vision.

Kevin Smith, whose run on the book marked the beginning of a new era for the man without fear, also filmed a bit role in the movie. His character was named after none other than Marvel legend Jack Kirby.

Comics2Film has learned of two more nods to comic creators that'll be found in the film. At this past weekend's Motor City Comic-Con David Mack, whose "Parts of a Hole" story arc followed Smith's, gave us the scoop.

Mack told us to watch for characters named Mack and Bendis. Brian Michael Bendis, of course, is the current writer on the book. Mack did not say if either comic creator would visit the set.

News about Daredevil has picked up in pace as of late. Today, we have three new bits to report on the film.

Click to enlarge
First and foremost, Fox released a photo of Ben Affleck in costume. Although he's shrouded and shadow, the pic represents the first good look we've had and the movified version of DD.

Next up, ManWithoutFear.com has supplied us with more photos from their anonymous scooper, 'M'. The photos show a newly constructed "Royal View" sign on top of the Arcade building, as well as a production sign used to direct cast & crew to the set.

In other news... MovieHole recently interviewed 14-year-old Scott Terra, the actor set to play a young Matt Murdock. Viewers of the Disney Channel may recognize the actor from Motocrossed. He can also be seen in the upcoming Eight-Legged Freaks, a lighthearted film about monstrous spiders. (Fittingly, Scott plays a character whose last name is "Parker".)

Tierra says he was unfamiliar with the background of Daredevil before the movie, but was attracted to the concept, which he considers "a cross between Batman and Superman." However, it seems the young actor may be less informed about the film than the fanboys online, as he says "no, I haven't seen Ben in costume yet."

SPIDER-MAN ANIMATED SHOW

Brian Michael Bendis has been hard at work on many projects, including the upcoming Spider-Man animated show for MTV. However, Bendis wants to let fans know exactly what his role of co-executive producer does and doesn't entail.

"I keep hearing 'my show' and it's not my show and that's not fair to the people whose show it is," Bendis told Comics2Film. "I'm not show runner. I'm not even head-writer but it's a job where I have a say."

The comic creator told us characterized his role on the show as "Spider-Man expert. I'm just there to make sure it keeps feeling like a Spider-Man show."

Bendis reports that he is involved with creative brain-storming and also scripting some episodes. "I am writing for the show, but I'm not writing as many as I initially had planned," Bendis reports citing other commitments as the reason for the reduced workload.

WITCHBLADE SEASON 2

Production on TNT's Witchblade TV series was temporarily halted this week. An official statement issued by TNT states, "series star Yancy Butler has voluntarily checked herself into a rehabilitation center for alcohol treatment. We wish her all the best."

The series is still slated to premiere on schedule with a two-hour showing on Sunday, June 16th at 8 p.m. Filming was been completed on six episodes before the production stopped.

Fans who would like to send well-wishes to Butler are encouraged to send them to witchblade@turner.com.

Thanks to Dex and Jessica for the tip.

SPIDER-MAN

Although Attack of the Clones did not top Spider-Man's box office for top opening weekend, initial estimates indicated that the Star Wars Episode's four-day take did exceed the web-slinger's three-day opener. Now Variety reports that even the four-day tally fell short.

The final count of receipts on Monday showed the Clones total to be $6.2 million less than expected. This brings the movie's actual four-day gross to $110.1 million, short of Spidey's three-day record of $114.8 million.

Spider-Man continues to break records in foreign markets too. Variety reports that the movie set records in "every significant Latino territory except Ecuador." It set new high-water marks in Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and Chile.

In Japan the movie dropped off only 8% in its second week.

Sony also reports that the movie has grossed more than any other title in the Philippines.

Spider-Man is poised to break even more records this week. It opens in India on a with a record number of 250 prints. By contrast, Godzilla previously represented the widest foreign release with a mere 123 prints.

The movie has been dubbed in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu for Indian audiences.

SPIDER-MAN, DAREDEVIL, ELEKTRA

[Spider-Man and Jennifer Garner]He's not just breaking box-office records but hearts as well. Spider-Man crashed this weekend's Taurus World Stunt Awards and pasted one of his famous upside-down kisses on Daredevil's love-interest Elektra.

Sort of.

The awards ceremony for the Taurus stunt honors was held on Sunday, May 19th. Alias star Jennifer Garner, who plays Elektra in the upcoming Daredevil movie was a presenter at the event. During her presentation a stunt player dropped in to try to re-enact the oft-cited scene from Spider-Man.

The web-slinger's appearance was one of many stunts performed at the ceremony. Others included Arnold Schwarzenegger falling from a helicopter, Dennis Hopper crashing a limousine and premiere fall guy Bob Brown plummeting 20 stories in a death-defying leap of faith-on fire.

The World Stunt Awards benefits the Taurus World Stunt Awards Foundation, established by an endowment from Dietrich Mateschitz, founder of the Red Bull Energy Drink Company, which supports stunt professionals that have suffered severe physical injury in pursuit of their work. One of the evening's highlights included the first awards of $50,000 each to recipients Jacob Chambers (who also won for Best Fire Stunt) and Harry Wowchuck, both stunt professionals injured while performing dangerous stunt work in 2001.

The ceremony will be aired on ABC television on Friday, May 31st at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

LIBERTY MEADOWS

Frank Cho had good news for fans hoping to see an animated project based on his comic strip turned comic book Liberty Meadows. When Comics2Film spoke to Cho this past weekend at The Motor City Comic Con, Cho said that his agent in Hollywood is still shopping the property around looking for a satisfactory deal.

THE CROW IV

Dark Horizons reported that Lance Munigia who co-wrote and directed the Indy cult film Six String Samurai is penning a new Crow Script. Munigia is reportedly adapting the novel, The Crow: Wicked Prayer by Norman Partridge. The novel is part of a series of original novels that use the Crow concepts created by J. O'Barr.

Amazon.com offers a description of Wicked Prayer:

"On a coal-black night, on a desolate stretch of Arizona highway, two last-chance lovers die badly.

"In these, the final, cruelest moments of his earthly existence, Dan Cody watches as the lifeblood of his lady is sucked down by the thirsty desert sands. In an instant , his heart and his redemption have been blown away by a postmodern witch and her sadistic goth-giant companion on their gore-soaked joyride to immortality.

"But even as one life ends in pain and anguish for Dan Cody, another begins . He is about to join those chosen to walk beneath the shadow of the Crow's wing. Revenge will be the sole reason for his return; revenge on tow who are speeding into the night in a '49 lamb's-blood Mercury on the fast track to Hell...or Nevada. And thought Kyra Damon and Johnny Church have embraced evil with a zealot's fervor, they underestimate the power of what's pursuing them from beyond the grave-the rough beast that's now slouching toward Vegas with murderous rage in its dead eyes."

CATWOMAN

SCI FI Wire recently talked with Ashely Judd, regarding her role in the upcoming Catwoman movie, and how the Spider-Man movie might influence the film.

"One of the things I loved about Spider-Man is that for the genre, they made it very real," Judd said. "They played the emotion very genuine, and even the news editor, who was the most campy sort of iconic cartoon figure, there was something really great and plausible about him. It just definitely reinforced the direction that we had been planning on taking Catwoman all along, which is why we've worked so hard on the script in order to make it more real."

Judd commented that the Catwoman script will have to alter at least one joke during re-writes: a reference to Superman. "I think our joke was a Superman joke, so we've got to find a good joke, since there was a good Superman joke in Spider-Man."

Michelle Pfeiffer (the Catwoman from Batman Returns) who had commented to SCI FI Wire that Judd should make sure to have fun in the role. "My first sort of internal response was it's got to be the funnest thing I've ever done in my life, or else it's not worth it, because [these films] are hard," Judd said. "It sounds so trivial, but the reality of being in that costume and doing all that stuff is just if you do it for something like four months, that can be miserable. It's got to be the funnest thing ever."

"I remember watching it in spring of 2000 and just thinking, she's definitely got the devilish part of Catwoman, which is so delicious." Judd also made comment that she has not seen Julie Newmar's performances as Catwoman from the 1960's Batman TV show, and that she hopes production for the movie will start this year.

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN

[The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen]Variety reports that Monica Bellucci is in negotiations to play the female lead in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Bellucci would play Mina Harker, a character familiar to readers of Bram Stoker's "Dracula."

Bellucci played the a title role in the recent French blockbuster Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra. She'll be seen next in Man of War with Bruce Willis.

Bellucci's flirtation with the part was first reported over a week ago by IGN FilmForce, a site that's been leading the charge in recent casting announcements. Yesterday that site reported yet another casting possibility for League.

According to FilmForce Indian actor Irfan Khan is the "frontrunner" for the part of Captain Nemo in the movie. The site reports that Khan is a veteran of Indian cinema with credits in movies like Salaam Bombay!, The Warrior and others.

With camera set to roll on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in June, the roster of purported cast members continues to grow.

More recently FilmForce reported that Richard Roxburgh (Moulin Rouge) will be playing Campion Bond, the British Secret Service agent that forms the League and who is the supposed ancestor of James Bond. Recently, FilmForce had reported that former James Bond star Roger Moore was in consideration for the role. However, now their source claims that the much younger Roxburgh has been cast.

The Austalian actor is physically nothing like how Bond is portrayed in the Alan Moore graphic novel. In the comic, Bond is a very imposing, obese figure... while Roxburgh has more of an average build.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is set to be released in 2003 and is directed by Stephen Norrington for Twentieth Century Fox.

HULK

Upcomingmovies.com reports that a new actor has joined the cast of The Hulk. Mike Erwin is said to be on board in an unspecified role. The young actor has previously appeared in bit parts movies like The New Guy and American Pie 2. He's also got a handful TV credits on his resume.

BIRDS OF PREY

When Birds of Prey hits the airwaves this fall one character in the show is former (in the context of the series) Batman butler Alfred Pennyworth. Now, Gotham Clock Tower reveals that Ian Abercrombie will play the part.

The actor has appeared in movies like Wild Wild West, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Army of Darkness. He may be best known for playing Elaine's demanding boss Mr. Pitt on the hit sitcom Seinfeld.

ROAD TO PERDITION

Fans who want a sneak peek at The Road To Perdition can direct their browsers to http://www.roadt operdition.com/media/honor_qt_h.html for an online version of the official trailer for the movie.

Road is already garnering Oscar buzz, due in large part to its academy-award winning star Tom Hanks and director Sam Mendes (American Beauty). The film is an adaptation of the DC/Paradox graphic novel by writer Max Allan Collins and artist Richard Piers Rayner.

Thanks to Aint-It-Cool-News for pointing the way.

BLADE II

Fans can look for Blade 2 on DVD before the end of summer. New Line has announced that September 10th is the target date for the home-video release of the action-gore-fest.

The original Blade set sales records when it was released to a then-young DVD market. Like many of New Line's discs, Blade was packed with extras and helped define the key ingredients for a hit movie presentation.

No doubt Blade 2 will receive a similar treatment. Director Guillermo del Toro was already instrumental in making sure Blade2.com felt like a DVD extras disc even before the movie opened.

SPIDER-MAN, BLADE II, HULK, DAREDEVIL, ELEKTRA, GHOST RIDER, SPIDER-MAN 2, DOCTOR STRANGE, WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, SUB-MARINER, PUNISHER, THE, PRIME

Marvel Enterprises conducted a conference call last Wednesday detailing the company's just-published first quarter earnings report. Of course, a fair amount of discussion was given to Spider-Man and other Marvel movies.

The company expects to make anywhere from $70 million to $100 million from the movie and licensing and toy business. Marvel collected $10 million of that as an advance from Sony in 1999. The estimates assume that total, worldwide box office for the film will be in the $800 million to $1 billion range.

Marvel enjoys participation deals in, not only the box office but also DVD and VHS sales and ancillary sales, which include sales of the film to networks, cable, pay per view, airlines, etc.

The company will collect most of the box office revenues will be in 2002, the DVD and VHS revenue in 2002 and 2003 and ancillary revenue in 2003.

Marvel Studios Chief Avi Arad was also on hand to discuss the company's movie deals. He credited Blade as a film that opened a lot of doors for the company. "It was the standard studio deal with net profits. With net profit deals it is very difficult to actually realize this elusive word 'profit,'" Arad said. Regardless the movie performed well with for New Line Cinema and demonstrated the potential of Marvel's character, and the fervor of the comic book audience.

That, along with escalating performance on movies like X-Men, Blade 2 and now Spider-Man has made the company very attractive to outside parties. CEO Peter Cuneo said, "What has come back in a big way Marvel's credibility as a property management company." Marvel has over 4700 characters ready for exploitation.

Arad gave a run-down of upcoming movie projects. There were now real surprises but a few tidbits.

Along with Hulk at Universal, Arad also discussed Sub-Mariner. "It's a big saga about the undersea. It's going to be a spectacular movie taking us to places we've never been before," Arad said. He mentioned that David Self is writing the script and said that the project is "in active, aggressive development"

Also at Universal is Prime based on the Malibu character. That one is also said to be in active development.

Arad pointed to Ghost Rider at Sony, but said that the studio is approaching Spider-Man 2 even more aggressively with a, "combination of development and pre-production. We want to be in front of the cameras January, February next year," the producer said.

New Line's Iron Man and Fox's Fantastic Four were named.

At Dimension Films, Dr. Strange was mentioned and also Werewolf by Night. Arad said the horror flick "is something in the area of Blade but it will be a PG-13 movie."

Finally The Punisher, Daredevil and Elektra were all discussed, although no new information was given.

Also of interest were comments by Cuneo about new ventures where Marvel characters will be appearing. The CEO was enthused about partnerships with electronic gaming companies and said they are very interested in massively multiplayer games featuring the Marvel heroes.

NEXUS

[Nexus]A brief mention in the "Dude News" e-mailer gives an update on the animated version of Steve Rude's Nexus. The show had been in development for Fox Kids many years ago, but the project eventually ran aground. The e-mailer offers this bit on the current state of affairs:

"Steve is working closely with friends in the animation industry to speed along the completion of the show. He is also getting quotes on the cost of completing his pilot. Nothing really solid to report at this point in time as the wheels are just starting to turn."

For your own copy of the newsletter and more information about all things Dude check out SteveRude.com.

BACK TO THE BATCAVE FOR CBS

Fans who miss the old Batman TV series will be pleased to learn that CBS is ready to take you "Back to the Batcave".

Variety reports that Paul Kaufman, who produced Surviving Gilligan's Island will executive produce Back to the Batcave: The True Adventures of Adam West and Burt Ward for the eye net. The telepic will reunite the cast of the classic comic book adaptation.

No word is given on when CBS plans to air the show.

THIS WEEK ON SABRINA, THE TEENAGE WITCH

Cheers star George guest stars on "What's New," this week's episode of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.

Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) is tested when Josh (David Lascher) lands a photojournalist job and the paper's editor (guest star George Wendt) consumes Josh's time because he has no life of his own. Meanwhile, Sabrina is in shock when Morgan's (Elisa Donovan) new boyfriend turns out to be Sabrina's first love, Harvey (guest star Nate Richert). Melissa Joan Hart directed the episode written by Dan Berendsen.

"What's New" airs Friday, May 24th 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 "The Brave and the Bold."

This episode features the fast-talking Flash teamed with the no-nonsense Green Lantern on a mission to save Central City from the mind control of an evil super-genius: Gorilla Grodd!

"The Brave and the Bold Part II" airs Sunday, May 26th at 7:00 p.m. on Cartoon Network.

NEXT WEEK ON SMALLVILLE

Clark makes a deal with the devil in an encore presentation of "Rogue", the May 28th episode of Smallville.

Clark's (Tom Welling) secret identity is at stake when a bad cop (guest star Cameron Dye) witnesses him use his superhuman powers and coerces Clark to join forces with him; however, when Clark double-crosses the cop, he is not prepared to deal with the consequences for him and his family. Meanwhile, Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) receives an intriguing proposal from an old British flame (guest star Kelly Brook, The Big Breakfast). David Carson directed the episode written by Mark Verheiden.

"Rogue" airs Tuesday, May 28th at 9:00 p.m. ET on The WB network.

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

NEXT WEEK ON JEREMIAH

[Jeremiah] [Jeremiah]
[Jeremiah] [Jeremiah]
Jeremiah's past comes back to haunt him again as a former lover reenters his life in "Mother of Invention," this week's episode of Jeremiah.

Looking for Steve, the leader of a group Marcus may want an alliance with, Jeremiah finds Michelle, who had been his lover, and her son. He and Kurdy must find out if Michelle is rebuilding a world or just piling up a private treasure. The episode is written by Alan Katz from a story by Sara Barnes. It's directed by Neill Fearnley.

"Mother of Invention" airs Friday, May 24th at 10:45 P.M. on Showtime. There will also be an encore on Sunday, May 26th 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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