Comics2Film

Wed, July 3rd, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rob Worley, Columnist

CRISIS

[Crisis]Comic creator Matt Busch doesn't get Hollywood. Specifically, he doesn't get why the movie industry requires screenwriters to present their work in such a mundane format when showing it around.

"When you write a screenplay, the cover page has to be blank except for the title and your name in the middle and the first page has got to be courier font, 12 point and your script can't be more than 120 pages and it can't be less than 90, blah, blah, blah," the artist said. "It's just so odd to me with a medium like movies that's so amazing, that every script has to be written in such a boring fashion. Why can't there be a cool cover and why can't there different fonts?"

To that end, Busch has presented script readers and comic fans with Crisis: An Illustrated Screenplay. The trade paperback went on sale in April and features painted covers, character sketches and storyboard-style illustrations. The project has been percolating with the creator for about eight years. He hopes producers will find the format of his spec intriguing.

"It's just kind of the way I see things, not just through words but through words and pictures," Busch told C2F. "Of course that comes from years of doing comic books and reading comic books. I think at worst [people] are taking the time to look through the pictures and they can tell right away, 'this is the kind of thing I'd like to consider' or right off the bat, 'no, we're not interested in making a movie like this.'"

Crisis is an action thriller that tells the story of a heroic Detroit cop, but with a few interesting twists. "Bruce Lombardo is your basic rough and tough Die Hard-type cop," Busch explains. "The twist is though that he loses his legs early on in the story. The action doesn't stop there. The whole idea is that even though he's bound to a wheel chair the action is that much more intense."

Another interesting facet of the story is the villain of the piece. "The adversary in the story is the Zodiac serial killer, a real-life serial killer in California about 20 years ago," Busch said. "So there's a little bit of fact mixed in with this completely fictional story."

Handicapped, Lombardo is forced to learn a new set of rules for getting the bad guy. "He used to be the kind of cop that, in order to get the answers he wants he breaks down doors, uses his fists," Busch said. "Now he's forced to use more classic, Sherlock Holmes methods of deductive reasoning to catch criminals."

Busch first got the germ of the idea while watching Die Hard 3 in a movie

theater. He happened to be sitting near a handicapped moviegoer. While he

often imagines himself in the dramatic action and situations in the movie,

his initial thought was that the man in the wheel chair wouldn't like the

film.

"Halfway into it I looked over and this guy was having a ball watching this movie," Busch said. "I kind of felt stupid. Who was I to think that just because someone is handicapped that they can't enjoy a good action movie too? When we go see Spider-Man we're not constantly reminded that we can't climb on walls. We get into it and we love it."

From there Busch aspired to create a hero who is also handicapped. "This cop loses his legs, but that doesn't stop him from being a hero," Busch said. "In fact, he actually finds a life that is more rewarding than what he had before. The things that really matter in life become more clear to him."

Busch tells us that the illustrated spec is making the rounds in Hollywood right now and several well known producers have expressed interest.

G-MEN FROM HELL

[G-Men From Hell]The movie version of Mike Allred's G-Men From Hell makes it's long-awaited debut this month. Comics2Film obtained a copy of the box art for the release along with some details about the package.

The disc contains, the usual array of interactive menus, scene selection and trailers. In addition it has a commentary track recorded by Allred himself.

Producer Rick Albert was enthused by Allred's commentary. "I thought it was one of the best commentaries that I'd ever heard," Albert told Comics2Film. "To see it from his eyes is really the most important aspect of it. It really is his idea. The director and the producer and the actors were fleshing out what was in Michael Allred's mind. The fact that he liked that and he felt that we got it right is extremely gratifying."

Albert tells us that the production company gave Allred the Cheetahman costume that was used in the film. "I felt that he really deserved it," Albert said.

Other extras on the DVD include "Comic To Film Shot Comparison" and a special bonus feature: Michael Allred's Astroesque.

G-Men From Hell carries a suggested retail price of $19.98 for the DVD copy and $39.98 for the VHS copy.

MEN IN BLACK 2, MAL CHANCE, COWBOYS AND ALIENS

Comics2Film checked in with Scott Rosenberg at Platinum Studios to see what the status is on their various projects.

Rosenberg, of course, was responsible for bringing an obscure comic called Men In Black to the big screen where it became, up until this May, the most successful comic adaptation ever. The sequel to that one opens today.

"We had a great premiere party where the Santa Monica pier was taken over last Wednesday," Rosenberg told us. All the stars were on hand, including Will Smith who did a few impromptu rap songs as well.

In terms of Platinum projects, Rosenberg tells us that they're just about ready to start talking to directors about Mal Chance. The script is written by Scott Murphy based on Martin Pardo and David Morancho Spanish comic of the same name.

They've also got a new writer on Cowboys and Aliens. We're getting new take in the next 45 days that we're excited about," Rosenberg said. Thompson Evans, who penned the Meg Ryan vehicle Wedlocked is writing the new draft.

And of course, Platinum intends to start publishing comics soon. "We're at various stages both scripting and art," Rosenberg told C2F. The first slate will be solicited for the first part of next year.

JUDGE DREDD: DREDD RECKONING, JUDGE DREDD: POSSESSION

The screenplays for the new Judge Dredd movies are undergoing a polish right now according to Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley. The chief is hopeful that the films could go into production shortly thereafter.

Two Dredd movies are to be filmed back-to-back. Rebellion is teaming with Shoreline Entertainment on the projects.

X-MEN 2

It came out of the blue--perhaps because we'd been disappointed by the rumor that it would be attached to Minority Report--but it is here...

The official X-Men 2 trailer!

Now, before anyone starts screaming like a twelve-year-old girl at an N*Sync concert, I'll be frank: It's not much to look at. Like the Daredevil trailer, only much more so, this seems to be Fox's attempt to push out teaser material as early as is possible. It's a "logo" teaser, nothing more.

Or is it? Like the new website we reported on last week, this trailer features a "big, round room," to quote Wolverine... But it certainly isn't the Cerebro we saw in the first X-Men film. We get a better look at this room in the trailer, and it appears to be more disc-shaped. Additionally, the floor is divided into a series of elevating columns, rising up and down like a vertical gauntlet. So this begs the question: Are we getting our first look at the Danger Room? This reporter thinks so. Perhaps this is the non-holographic skeleton of the room, like the empty, yellow-grid holodeck in Star Trek.

But I digress. About the trailer... As said before, there's not much to it. While the camera pans around the room and up and down the shafts, we hear a narrator tell us: "Last time it was a fight for acceptance, this time it is going to be a struggle for survival. The evolution continues!" By this time, the camera has panned to a bird's eye view of the room, and quickly zooms in at the center to reveal the X2 logo.

Although it is not known how stable these links will be, you can possibly view the trailer here or here. If you are a member at MyMovies.net or wish to register at the site, you may find a more reliable link therein.

Thanks to Ain't It Cool News for the scoop.

CONSTANTINE, BATMAN: YEAR ONE, SUPERMAN, BATMAN/SUPERMAN, CATWOMAN

With Spider-Man and Blade 2 topping the box-office during 2002 and a slate of Marvel movies on the horizon for 2003 many fans have been asking the question, "where are the DC superheroes?"

A write-up in yesterday's Variety on Warner Bros. development strategy may hold some answers. According to the report, the studio aims to continue it's strategy of generating five tentpole movies a year to support it's 20-25 other titles.

In ticking off the tentpole/franchise projects for the near future, Warner president and chief operating officer Alan Horn talked about three comic book movies.

Catwoman is named as a contender for upcoming development. Interestingly, although Ashley Judd has been talking up the project quite a bit recently, Horn said the actress' involvement is not a done deal. "I like Ashley, and I'd like her to do it", Horn said. According to the write-up, the studio is waiting for the latest script for John Rogers.

Also a contender is Constantine, a movie that has comic fans in a tizzy. The studio changed the Brit character to an American in order to secure a marquee name actor like Nicolas Cage. The movie was slated for production earlier this year. However, when the director, Tarsem (The Cell) bailed the project fell apart. According to the report, Cage has also departed and the studio is now looking to put Keanu Reeves (The Matrix) into the Constantine overcoat.

Finally the studio is eying DC's top guns Superman and Batman for the next franchise. While there are several different projects with these characters in the development, Horn told Variety that the project combining the two characters is the most likely to move forward. Wolfgang Petersen is attached to produce and possibly direct. Comics2Film recently confirmed with sources at Petersen's office that the Superman/Batman film is operating under the working/code title of Asylum.

BIRDS OF PREY

This week Eli McElmurray of The DC Live Action Universe website sat down with TV's latest Joker: Roger Stoneburner. Stoneburner, a stuntman by trade, delivers the clown prince of crime's physical performance in the upcoming Birds of Prey pilot, while veteran actor Mark Hamill provides the character's voice.

Here's the Q & A with the new Joker:

Eli McElmurray (EM): How did you get the role as Joker?

Roger Stoneburner (RS): I was chosen from the Stuntplayers Directory. It's a book that contains every stuntman and stuntwoman in the business (well about 90% anyway). In that book I have a picture of me wearing an old style suit (like a zoot suit) and a Cuban brimmed hat, smoking a cigarette. I think that picture is what booked the job for me. After that I just went in for a 'looksee' with the producers and passed the test.

EM: Will you be showing up in the series or was role done only for the pilot? Are there plans for a Joker/Harley Quinn team up down the line?

RS: I would definitely love to come back as the Joker, especially now that I've been learning more and more about the character. I will be able to put my 'flavor' on him, a little more sinister than in the past. As far as I know there is no talk of him coming back. I think him and Batman were used to explain how this show comes about (how the Birds of Prey began) and that's about it. Send 'em an email and tell them you want more Joker, he he he....fun stuff! EM: What was it like playing such a Huge role? Joker is one of the two biggest villains in the DC universe (second only to Lex Luthor).

RS: Actually, for me this was a very small role, about 2 days of work, that ended up being 4 days. Two very quick flashbacks. I agree though that this was the biggest character part for me. That was pretty cool, as far as I know the Joker has been played by Cesar Romero, [Jack] Nicholson and me, and voiced by Mark Hamill.

Although, I consider myself a stuntman first I do get many bit and supporting roles that have stunts. This is definitely a good feather under the cap. Heck, I may even get a Joker tattoo?!? EM: What was your first contact with the Joker (comic books, '60s TV series, '89 Batman movie, cartoons)?

RS: My first contact was with the 60's series. I grew up watching "Crack," "Pow," "Kaboom." Cheesy but fun.

EM: How did prepare for your role?

RS: I got on the internet and tried to find anything I could relating to the Joker. I came across two sites that helped me out, Canarynoir.com and GothamClockTower.com. They both gave me back story on the Joker. They also recommended some books for me. I bought "The Killing Joke," and immediately recognized that as the scene I was recreating.

EM: Did you mind that your voice was substituted by Mark Hamill?

RS: No, not at all, flattered that they picked me for the look and him for the voice. I think it is reminiscent of the version of Steinbrenner on the show Seinfeld, where an actor plays him only seen from the back and someone else does the voice. I think it's great that two people were able to get work out of that part. I have not yet seen the animated version (I don't have cable), but I thought Mark's voice was unbelievable!! It sent shivers down my spine, he he. EM: If the Superman/Batman movie ever gets the green light, are you going for the role as Joker again?

RS: I doubt it but would not turn it down if they offered me the part or an audition. I'm sure they will need someone with some clout (maybe Christopher Walken, he strikes me as The Joker, although didn't he play another DC Villain?)

EM: Have you seen the pilot?

RS: Not yet, just the promo.

It blew me away! I was really impressed with how much they made that thing look like a feature film, utilizing some Matrix-like stuff and fantasy stuff great music, great acting. Ashleigh Scott came off sexy as hell.

EM: What do you think of your role after it was filmed?

RS: My stuff came out just like they told me, except I think I was more recognizable than I thought I would be.

EM: What do you think that you would like to have come across that didn't?

RS: The only thing I wanted to come across in that part was that people would believe that I was the Joker and not some bad imitation. Because everything happens so quickly and not much acting for me to do I think it worked. I think straight bad guy roles are the easiest to act, if there were more to that part then it would be tough, he's a bad guy with a sense of humor.

[Birds of Prey] [Birds of Prey]
[Birds of Prey] [Birds of Prey]
[Birds of Prey] [Birds of Prey]
[Birds of Prey] [Birds of Prey]
For those of you who haven't been visiting The WB Birds of Prey website recently, you may want to swing by.

The WB has posted video clips from the upcoming Birds of Prey television series.

One scene, showing an encounter between The Huntress (Ashley Scott) and Detective Reese (Shemar Moore) can be seen here and the second scene featuring all three of the female leads can be viewed here.

Thanks to Gotham Clock Tower for pointing the way.

SPIDER-MAN

Spider-Man finally fell off the top 10 list for U.S. box office this weekend, pushed off by Adam Sandler's Mr. Deeds which was the number one film.

Box Office Mojo reports that after nine weeks on the chart the web-head came in at #11 for a total domestic gross of $395,700,000.

However, a write-up in Monday morning's Variety shows that Spider-Man is still flexing its super-powered muscles overseas. The comic flick took in $23 million on 7500 screens in 60 territories around the world. The total overseas take will exceed $300 million today.

Spider-Man debuted at #1 in Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Israel and Finland according to the trade write-up. The movie hung on to the #1 spot in other territories like Spain, Germany, the U.K., France, Italy and Sweden.

ROAD TO PERDITION

[Road to Perdition]When next years Oscars are given out, Oscar may once again be saying hello to his old friend Tom Hanks. E! Online's Anderson Jones wrote in his latest c olumn that Hanks latest film, Road to Perdition, is generating a lot of Oscar buzz.

Jones reports, "Hanks performance is so subtle he never utters more than three lines of dialogue in a row the entire film."

Jones predicts best supporting actor accolades might be coming the way of Hank's co-stars Jude Law, and Daniel Craig. The columnist praises Sam Mendes, the film's director. He writes that he pulls of some startling images.

DAREDEVIL

The Independent Film Channel announced that the new season of the Dinner For Five series, hosted by series regular Jon Favreau, will included Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Kevin Smith from the upcoming Daredevil movie.

The show, which has garnered critical praise for its commentary on the entertainment industry and the art of filmmaking, will begin production on its second season this summer to premiere in early 2003. The show's format revolves around Favreau and four guests dining at a restaurant discussing their experiences in the industry in an unscripted, casual manner. The cast of Daredevil will appear in the show's season premiere.

Other guests for the show's second season include Famke Janssen from the upcoming X-Men 2, Illeana Douglas from Ghost World and John Leguizamo from the Spawn feature film.

MEN IN BLACK 2

SCI FI Wire recently discussed rumors that a "complicated deal" was needed to reuinite Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in their roles as Agents J and K in the upcoming Men In Black II with producer Walter F. Parkes.

"I've never known a movie that didn't come together because of a deal; if people want to do a movie a deal gets made one way or another," Parkes said. After the first film was made, Parkes and producing partner Laurie MacDonald were busy developing new material for DreamWorks. Smith and director Sonnenfeld went right into Wild, Wild West. Discussion of a Men In Black sequel didn't even start until a year after the success of the first.

"Then we sat down and said, 'OK, we have to have deals before we move forward.' And we spent a good year, I'd say, trying to put together deals," Parkes told SCI FI. However, even that proved difficult. "Truthfully, it was impossible, because artists don't commit to business arrangements, they commit to movies. After failing to put together an approach to it we made a decision with the studio to do it the old-fashioned way, much like the first movie."

With that Parkes and MacDonald developed the script with Bob Gordon (Galaxy Quest). "We spent a good year on that, and once we had a document that people could read and say, 'OK, we get it. That's fun. The guys get back together. Will falls in love,' then Columbia could put together a deal," Parkes said. "Actually, because they came up with a rather creative approach to it, it went down rather quickly given how big this movie was."

Our next item asks the question: Why simply watch Men in Black when you can be one?

Infogrames, Inc. announced Friday that they've shipped the PlayStation 2 game Men In Black II: Alien Escape to stores. According to the press release the game is a fast-paced third-person action game infused with the trademark humor of both the original hit film and its sequel set for release on July 3.

"Men in Black II: Alien Escape is as action-packed and exciting as the motion picture," said Jean-Philippe Agati, senior vice president and general manager of Infogrames' Los Angeles studio. "The game offers players a fast-paced shooter with the quick-witted commentary typical of Agents J and K. Featuring snappy one-liners, and bizarre, humorous situations, Men in Black II: Alien Escape is no ordinary video game experience."

In Men in Black II: Alien Escape, Agents J and K discover a space prison hulk that crashed into the Earth's ocean decades ago, carrying the most dangerous alien gangs in the galaxy. The ship's arrival unleashed a large number of unlicensed and unaccounted-for aliens now hiding out on Earth, each a hardened criminal. There's only one possible course of action -- hunt them down and bring them in -- dead or alive.

Each agent has his strengths. J moves faster while K has greater experience and technology. Players can switch between the characters during the course of the game.

The game features a host of aliens from the movie, an array of high-tech weapons and has five distinct episodes with varying themes and settings -- each with its own sub-levels and story scenes.

WITCHBLADE SEASON 2

According to our Witchblade deputy correspondent Dex, Tuesday was Yancy Butler's birthday. The Witchblade turned 32.

Fans wanting to send their salutations and good wishes to the super heroine can direct e-mails to YancyButler@earthlink.net or post a greeting on The Warner Bros. message boards.

Happy birthday, Yancy!

THOR

Many rumors have been flying recently about Marvel's favorite Hammer Wielding Thunder God, Thor, taking a trip to the big screen.

E! Online's Anderson Jones sought out one of the men who controls Thor's celluloid destiny, Avi Arad, president of Marvel Films. Jones asked Arad about the possibility of a Thor movie. His reply might have Thor searching the Golden Halls of Asgard for spare change. Arad said, "If you find a movie studio willing to put up $400 million."

ANIME FANS FIND ACTION ON CABLE TV

Anime fans may want to start bugging their local cable outlets to make sure they'll have access to the upcoming relaunch of ACTION channel. The cable station is set to return with a line up of the top Anime films of all time.

Starting July 5, every Friday at midnight will bring ACTION channels "Animidnight" spotlighting one of the top films.

"Anime embodies what the re-launched ACTION channel is all about," says Stephan Shelanski, senior vice president of acquisitions and scheduling. "The ACTION channel has been home to the best in Anime since 1999, and now we're increasing our commitment to the franchise with a new anchored time for Friday's at midnight -- and by getting the best programming, which is what these four films represent."

Here's the lineup.

  • Akira - ACTION presents the restored version of the #1 Anime title of all-time, directed by Anime legend Katsuhiro Otomo. The plot centers on a secret government project known as Akira, where anti-government activists, greedy politicians, irresponsible scientists and a powerful military leader all have their footprints linked.
  • Metropolis - Directed by acclaimed Anime director Taro Rin and written by Akira's Otomo, Metropolis has been hailed by film critic Roger Ebert as "one of the best animated films I have ever seen," and director James Cameron said, "it has beauty, power, mystery and above all ...heart." Named after director Fritz Lang's classic 1927 silent film, and based on a 1949 comic book by the late Osamu Tezuka, Metropolis features a powerful leader who plans to unveil a highly advanced robot and his violent son who vows to destroy it.
  • X - With Rin again at the helm, the future of the universe rests on one young man who must decide whether to destroy either the Dragons of Earth or the Dragons of Heaven, two opposing armies.
  • 3X3 Eyes - A savvy boy is drawn into the spellbinding world of immortals and three-eyed demons and is forced to confront this hidden world in order to find some sense of humanity.

The ACTION channel's new look and new attitude kicks off in July with a variety of cool programming offerings, starting with "31 Days of Action Figures" (every night at 10:00 p.m.), featuring some of today's biggest action stars including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and many more. Other new packages will include "Saturday Action Zone" (an action- packed film every Saturday at 10:00 p.m.), "Martial Arts Mayhem" (the best of the best martial arts films), "Dimension X" (featuring sci-fi films), and "Battlefront" (war films).

The channel will also debut two world-premiere movies in July: the sequel John Carpenter's Vampires: Los Muertos and Soul Assassin starring Skeet Ulrich (Scream) and Kristy Swanson (Buffy The Vampire Slayer).

THIS WEEK ON SABRINA

It's a double dose of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch this week on The WB!

First, on Wednesday, it's a repeat showing of "Sabrina Down Under" the special two-hour movie.

Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) travels to Australia on a wild adventure where she aspires to learn about marine biology. Her journey leads her to a handsome merman (Scott Michaelson, "Flipper") and his mermaid sister (Lindsay Sloane, "Grosse Pointe"), who she is determined to save from an oil spill along with the other inhabitants of the sea. Ken Koch directs from a screenplay written by Daniel Berendsen.

"Sabrina Down Under" airs Wednesday, July 3rd at 8:00 p.m.

Then, in her regular time-slot, Sabrina retrieves as spell from cyber-space in a repeat airing of "Deliver us from E-Mail".

Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) is a candidate for a writer's position at the local newspaper, but Sabrina's evil twin Katrina (also played by Melissa Joan Hart) jeopardizes her chances by e-mailing a supernatural virus that turns her ditzy, causing the editor (guest star George Wendt, "Cheers") and Josh (David Lascher) to doubt her intelligence.Anson Williams directed the episode written by Dan Kael.

"Deliver us from E-Mail" airs Friday, July 5th 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 WITCHBLADE

Danny's niece is in danger on "Nailed", next week's episode of Witchblade.

When a psychotic serial killer with a penchant for young girls -- and a fetish for their fingernails -- becomes obsessed with Danny's (Will Yun Lee) niece, Sara (Yancy Butler) must rely on the Witchblade's visions to find the girl before she becomes the killer's next victim.

"Nailed" airs Monday, July 8th at 9 p.m. on TNT. An encore showing airs Tuesday, July 9th at 11 p.m.

Thanks to Dex!

NEXT WEEK ON SMALLVILLE

A psychotropic flower turns Lana into the Lolita of Smallville while an infected Pete goes after Lex in the encore showing of "Nicodemus", the July 9th episode of Smallville.

Clark (Tom Welling) must solve the riddle of the mysterious Nicodemus flower and Lex's (Michael Rosenbaum) shady involvement after it infects the residents of Smallville removing their inhibitions - Jonathan (John Schneider) becomes a coach potato, Lana (Kristin Kreuk) puts the moves on Clark as the town Lolita and Pete (Sam Jones III) tries to kill Lex - then puts them into a deadly coma. James Marshall directed the episode; written by Greg Walker with teleplay by Michael Green.

"Nicodemus" airs Tuesday, July 9 at 9:00 p.m. ET on The WB network.

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

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