Comics2Film

Wed, September 4th, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rob Worley, Columnist

DOMINION, ORBITER, ZODIAC, 10TH MUSE, ISIS

It's no secret that, with several hit movies in theaters in the past few years, Hollywood is now riding the comic-to-film wave. Comics2Film has learned that Hollywood management-production house Energy Entertainment has started a property division dedicated to managing the film rights of comic book titles.

Energy is owned and operated by Brooklyn Weaver. The company has set up 12 projects in the last year and a half and enjoys a first-look deal with the Sony-based Original Film (xXx, The Fast and the Furious). Energy's comic book division is to be spear-headed by Daniel Alter.

"It was always a childhood dream of mine to run a comic book company," Alter told C2F. "Instead I'm excited to take that medium and import it into the medium in which I work."

The company has already hit the ground running working with comic creators like Keith Giffen, Colleen Doran and Tidal Wave Studios. Energy will be packaging the comic book properties with A-list screenwriters.

Their deal with Tidal Wave has them angling to set up Isis as a feature and 10th Muse as a TV series.

The Hollywood trades announced last week that Doran had signed with Energy. The firm is interested in Orbiter, the Vertigo graphic novel that Doran is collaborating on with Warren Ellis.

They're also eyeing a planned DC Comics series by Giffen and Doran called Zodiac as well as Giffen's upcoming Dominion.

Dominion is a new title Giffen created with Mage producer Ross Richie for the Image super-heroes line.

C2F spoke with comic great Keith Giffen and Mage producer Ross Richie about their new comic-book series Dominion. The concept is part of the upcoming shared superhero universe from Image Comics and is already garnering interest from parties in Hollywood.

The premise for the comic is that Australia has become ground zero for an alien contagion that grants super powers to the infected.

"It's Invasion of the Body Snatchers with superheroes," Giffen told us. "An alien contagion, a virus, actually the first life-form created out of the big bang, it's been around billions and billions of years traveling from planet to planet taking over, creating a dominion. When they run the planet dry they move on."

Giffen said he was inspired by the futuristic scenes from the Terminator movies in which flying robot drones rain death and destruction on a devastated human populace. "I thought, what if that was Superman?"

Co-creator Richie describes Dominion's top super-entity. "The index case, the first person to catch this alien outbreak, is the guy who is the last guy in the world who should get that kind of power. He's an incredibly smart individual and he uses [his powers] to dominate."

Richie adds, "Our big catch phrase is 'Look! Up in the sky! Oh my God! Ahhhhhh!'"

Many are infected and attain super-powers and a hierarchy forms among the malevolent, super-humans. With normal humans in great peril a resistance breaks out to prevent the newly-formed dominion from taking hold.

Although creator-owned, the comic is to be part of Image's shared-universe of superhero titles. Richie said, "Originally we wanted to set the story in the USA, but because the story takes place in a shared super-hero universe, the Image guys were nice enough to give us Australia and that section."

Giffen is plotting and penciling the title. Richie is plotting and scripting. Claude St. Aubin is providing the inks. The comic is due out in January.

[ED: For more on Dominion read the CBR News interview with Giffen conducted by Beau Yarbrough.]

HARD BOILED

In our recent rundown of the activities of one Nicolas Cage we neglected to mention his involvement in the big-screen version of Frank Miller and Geoff Darrow's Hard Boiled.

A source close to the development effort told C2F that Cage is still attached to the project as both an actor and a producer. Frank Miller himself is actively involved in the development of the movie as screenwriter. David Fincher (The Panic Room) is attached as director.

According to our source Miller has been focusing his efforts on developing for Batman: Year One but Hard Boiled is also a priority. Both projects are set up at Warner Bros.

2000AD PROJECTS

Who says Judge Dredd can't be bought?

A press release found on 2000AD Online discusses the impending offering of public shares in 2000AD Films, plc under the UK based Enterprise Investment Scheme.

The shares would presumably give the public a stake in the public limited company that would focus on developing films from 2000AD characters and concepts.

2000AD Films plc will be distributing a prospectus to interested parties around September 20th, 2002. Potential investors are instructed to send inquiries to films@2000adonline.com.

CORTO MALTESE: LA COUR SECRETE DES ARCANES

[Corto Maltese] [Corto Maltese]
[Corto Maltese] [Corto Maltese]
[Corto Maltese] [Corto Maltese]
[Corto Maltese] [Corto Maltese]
[Corto Maltese] [Corto Maltese]
[Corto Maltese]
The animated feature film Corto Maltese: La Cour Secrete Des Arcanes opens this month in France. Based on Hugo Pratt's graphic novel Corto Maltese in Siberia, the film has already been screened in film festivals in Italy and Canada. The wide-release of the French-language movie is set for September 25th.

Fans interested in the movie can visit the multi-lingual website at CortoLeFilm.com, which features French and English versions. The site gives this synopsis of the movie's storyline:

"1918. Corto Maltese is crossing Siberia hot on the tracks of a runaway train that has become a fortress on wheels. In order to get his hands on its cargo of gold, he'll have to deal with the last remaining members of the Russian aristocracy, mysterious Chinese triads and a crazy army general reigning over a horde of pillaging thieves..."

The site features tons of information about the movie including the film's impressive trailer, character descriptions and a Hugo Pratt biography.

It's also got video interviews with director Pascal Morelli, producer Robert Rea, artistic producer Sophie Glaas and writer Thierry Thomas.

Other fun site features include an online tour of the various locales of the film, screensavers, wallpapers, soundtrack info an more.

Jean-Marc Lofficier of Hollywood Comics tells us there is also a live-action Corto project still in development, tentatively titled Corto Maltese and the Ballad of the Salty Sea.

HELLBOY

[Hellboy]Fans who are anticipating the upcoming Hellboy movie should check out a great feature article by CHUD's Nick Nunziata. Nunziata visited the production offices for the film where director Guillermo del Toro, creator Mike Mignola and a crew of designers are whipping up designs for the movie.

The head sewer chewer said of the artwork he laid eyes on, "There are creatures in this film that will blow your pants to tattered threads. These are creatures that not only evoke the feel of H.P. Lovecraft... they practically eject the guy from his grave."

He also commented renderings of Ron Perlman as the title character. "Any worries you may have had about whether he looks the part should be effectively stymied once you see his face," Nunziata wrote. " You won't know where Ron ends and Hellboy begins."

For a complete account of Nunziata's field trip visit CHUD.

In other news, actor Ron Perlman chats up his upcoming Hellboy movie in an online video clip now available on the official Hellboy website. The clip was filmed at the Dark Horse booth at the recent Comic-Con International in San Diego.

The actor discusses lessons learned in auditioning for important roles such as his well-known turn on Beauty and the Beast and how those experiences will color his new role as Hellboy.

The clip is available in QuickTime, Real and Windows Media formats for easy download!

Everyone knows that Mignola and director del Toro agreed from the start that Perlman should star as the big-screen version of Hellboy.

But did anyone check with the big guy? Perhaps not according to this bit of Hellboy movie fun. It's a comic strip by fantasy illustrator Peter Bergting!

Bergting recently completed an assignment providing artwork for the Hellboy Sourcebook and Role Playing Game from Steve Jackson Games. Check out his Hellboy page for all the artwork from that project.

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN

[The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #4]IGN FilmForce has followed up on a report originally posted by the World Entertainment News Network which claimed tensions have been at an all-time high on the set of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and recently reached a climax which almost resulted in a fist-fight between Sean Connery (playing Allan Quartermain) and director Stephen Norrington. According to FilmForce however, this is not true.

FilmForce contacted League producer Don Murphy, who vehemently denies the rumor. Murphy offered a rather tongue-in-cheek response to the accusation suggesting that Norrington challenged Connery to the best two out of three and that perhaps Stuart Townsend (Dorian Gray) was the referee for the debacle.

Murphy cited a number of loopholes in the source’s information. Included was the comment that Norrington was under a great deal of stress when the supposed altercation took place (while shooting in Prague) because of the horrible flooding in the Czech Republic and that one of the film’s sets was destroyed. However, Murphy pointed out that production moved to Malta when Prague flooded so the fight couldn’t have happened there and that there were in fact five sets ruined by the flooding.

According to FilmForce’s own source, filming has wrapped in Malta and things went very well there. Now, the production has moved back to Prague and will wait to resume filming until the flood waters recede.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is scheduled for a June 6, 2003 release from Twentieth Century Fox.

In other news, the Hollywood Reporter gave a run down of special effects shops that are set to work on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie.

Tippett Studio (Men in Black II, Blade II) will be handling character animation shots in a fight sequence between Dante Aligheri and Mr. Edward Hyde.

Double Negative (Pitch Black, Die Another Day) in London will give life to Nemo's Nautilus and handle simulated water shots.

Hunter/Gratzner (Pitch Black) is said to be creating miniatures for a sequence that occurs in Venice, Italy.

Cinema Production Services Inc. (Vertical Limit) is working on interior miniatures and indoor sets.

Meanwhile, Cinesite (Clockstoppers) is negotiating for 400-plus shots.

20th Century Fox vice president of visual effects Rich Thorne told The Reporter that the movie is, "the biggest miniature film Fox has done since Titanic."

RADIX

MIT engineers borrowed design elements from from an Image comic book when submitting their winning bid for a grant to develop high-tech super soldier armor according to a report from the Reuters newswire service.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology acknowledged this week that artwork from the comic Radix helped them land a $50 million grant from the U.S. Army. The institute's proposal featured a future female soldier in high-tech gear, looking very similar to the comics' cover art featuring the main character Val Fiores. The image featured armor, head-gear and even backgrounds which have many similarities to artwork found in Radix #1.

Radix creators Ray and Ben Lai were alerted to the swipe by fans who saw the MIT design. While the institute claims it was an "innocent use," the comic's creators are concerned that it could interfere with their ability to capitalize on the concepts they created.

Ray Lai told Reuters that there's been much interest in the comic from Hollywood with several studios coming after the property. "That's why it's very important for us to clear the air and come out and say 'We didn't copy MIT; MIT copied us,'" he said. "We could still file a lawsuit. We're weighing our options."

For comparisons between the MIT artwork and the comic book visit the official Radix website.

Associated Press followed up on the story and reported that a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has issued an apology to Ray and Ben Lai, the creators of the comic book Radix, over the unauthorized use of their designs.

Edwin L. Thomas, director of MIT's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, has issued a public apology, sent via e-mail and also posted on the MIT website. "If I had known it was your work, I would not have used it," Thomas said to Ray Lai. "MIT strongly supports the rights of creators and greatly regrets using the image without permission or credit. I am very sorry that this happened; it won't happen again."

However, the Lai brothers are not completely satisfied. The apology came five months after they issued a complaint to MIT. Furthermore, the apology was not circulated as widely as the dubious image.

"If MIT was to do the right thing, they would put out a press release like they did before," Ray Lai said to the Associated Press. The Lai brothers expect some financial compensation for the blunder as well as an acknowledgement of wrongdoing from MIT as an institution.

DAREDEVIL

[Daredevil]So you think you're a man (or woman) without fear? Do you have what it takes to be the guardian of Hell's Kitchen? Find out by taking the Daredevil Quiz now found on the official Daredevil movie website.

The clever flash game simulates life under the crimson horns. You must use your the same skills the enhanced, blind super-hero uses to navigate the mean streets of the city and distinguish the guilty from the innocent. Use enhanced hearing, smell and your radar sense to ferret out clues. Read brail and learn other ways that Matt Murdock copes with his blindness.

Hit DaredevilMovie.com today and take the Daredevil quiz.

X-MEN 2

[X-Men 2]Canadian stunt performer James Bamford has just updated his personal page on the Stunts Canada website where he is now listed as "Gambit - Stunt Actor" for X-Men 2.

X-Men 2 fans will remember that director Bryan Singer has previously hinted at an appearance by Gambit in the sequel to 2000's X-Men, possibly in a montage sequence featuring a number of other cameos. This revelation is consistent with filming locations, as X-Men 2 is currently being shot in various areas of Canada.

Thanks to the mutant friendly folks at Countingdown.com and ever-vigilant Franck for the tip.

SPIDER-MAN, MEN IN BLACK 2

"Hero" the song and accompanying video from the soundtrack to Sony Pictures' Spider-Man recently won an MTV "Moonman" Video Award for "Best Video From a Film."

The video, performed by Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott, beat out Men In Black 2's "Black Suits Comin' (Nod Ya Head)", Rush Hour 2's "Area Codes" by Ludacris f/ Nate Dogg, and Training Day's "#1" by Nelly.

BLADE II, HELLBOY

About: Action-Adventure Movies recently chatted with Blade II director Guillermo del Toro about the DVD for the second installment of the successful Marvel movie franchise. The disc sports several commentary tracks, hours of behind-the-scenes footage, documentary footage and more.

According to the write-up, Del Toro's commentary track takes on a humourous, self-deprecating tone. "I think that [a sense of humor is] interesting, especially with a movie like Blade II which I call a 'six pack and a pizza' kind of movie that you enjoy more in an informal kind of atmosphere, to try to be the host of a pizza party for the audience, you know. I think that you have to be just very relaxed and informal and I think that humor just comes naturally," the director told About.

In addition to Del Toro's commentary track, the disc also features separate tracks for screenwriter/producer David Goyer and star/producer Wesley Snipes. Although initial plans were for combined tracks, scheduling didn't allow for it. "David is the writer that created the character for the screen and Wesley I think is a huge part of the Blade mythology," del Toro said. "I think Wesley's truly one of the creators of the character."

The director also told About that they started preparing for the DVD even in preproduction, carefully earmarking material as potential "extra" features. Documentarians were given full access to the set of the movie.

The director also plays host to the disc's deleted footage segment, providing video intros to excised clips. Del Toro said that moviegoers have long been fascinated by deleted footage, which sometimes takes on mythological proportions. "I think that it's important for you as a budding filmmaker or as a film fan to know that this scene could have been in the movie but this is the reason why it's not there," Del Toro said.

The director finds DVDs an essential tool of modern filmmaking, and has taken to carrying around a portable theater during travel so he can watch movies daily. During the production of Blade II he reveals he watched "a lot of Japanese samurai films and I took some Hong Kong movies and a lot of anime," as well as a few horror films.

For Hellboy he'll be looking at Universal monster movies.

Visit About: Action-Adventure Movies for the extensive interview with Guillermo del Toro.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES - ANIMATED SHOW

The new, animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles now have an official online home. Fans can direct their web browsers to FoxBox.tv or TMNT.tv for a look at the website promoting the heroes on a halfshell's new Saturday morning show.

The site currently features biographies of the four teens supreme as well as a synopsis of episode 1 of the show. In the first installment the Turtles are driven out of their sewer home by the mechanical mousers. Master Splinter goes missing and they heroes afoul of the mysterious Purple Dragon street gang.

If you need more Turtle action check out NinjaTurtlesNetwork.com. This site features the show's television ad and them music, digitized and available for download.

Thanks to Superhero Hype for the lead.

MEN IN BLACK 2, ROAD TO PERDITION

Road to Perdition is back in the top 10 at the U.S. box office according to Box Office Mojo. The movie dropped to 11 last weekend but estimates have the comic adaptation taking in $3.34 million moving up a notch in its eight week.

The film edges out second-week contenders One Hour Photo, Undisputed and Simone. This is may be indicative of a weak late-summer box office which has people staying away from theaters.

However, Variety reports that the overseas box office is rallying, lead by Men In Black 2. The film opened big in Spain and was joined by strong ticket sales on other new films there, like Signs, Lilo & Stitch, xXx, Road To Perdition and The Sum of All Fears.

MiB2 took in a reported $3.5 million of 534 screens in Spain, topping the performance of the first installment by 133%. It also grossed $331,000 in Portugal. It remains the top movie in France four weeks running, taking in $2.1 million this week. Fans are also eating it up in the U.K. where Men In Black 2 totaled $30.9 in its run.

SPIDER-MAN, MEN IN BLACK 2

Spider-Man led the charge in a record-setting summer box office for Hollywood this year. Fans know well that the web-spinner shattered all kinds of box office records and landed in the top 5 all-time grossing films.

An Associated Press wire report indicates that, as of labor day weekend, movie ticket sales topped the $3.15 billion mark, surpassing the previous record of $3.06 billion, according to box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

However, the number of tickets sold is actually lower than the previous record.

It looks like Spider-Man will have another chance to rack up more box office this weeks. According to a posting on Box Office Mojo, Sony is planning a comic-to-film-two-fer. On Friday, September 6th, the studio is sending web-head out on a double-bill with Men In Black 2. The double feature is set to play on 1500 screens nationwide.

Meanwhile a Reuters report indicates that youngsters in the U.K. will have a new opportunity to see Spider-Man. Britain's Board of Film Classification (BBFC) changed their ratings criteria last week. The Marvel/Sony pic now has the new rating of "12A" rather than the previous rating of "12".

The difference is, the old rating prohibited children under the age of 12 from seeing the movie, while the new rating allows that age group to attend, as long as they are accompanied by an adult.

Thanks to Frostbayne for the assist!

BIRDS OF PREY

The WB recently released three more publicity photos from the upcoming Birds of Prey series. We've got new pics of Ashley Scott, Dina Meyer and Rachel Skarsten respectively. In Scott's photo, fans can get a peek at the redesigned huntress costume, which looks a bit edgier than the sheer, frilly topcoat worn in the pilot.

[Birds of Prey] [Birds of Prey] [Birds of Prey]

Gotham Clock Tower also has new information on the third episode of Birds of Prey, called "Prey for the Hunter." Check out the Clock Tower's spoiler page for all the details!

The Comics Continuum reports a redesign in the Clock Tower set used on the show. The goal is to make the previously gray walls a little brighter, but the clock itself will still be used. The Tower plays a big role visually in the end of the pilot for the series.

THIS WEEK ON JUSTICE LEAGUE

Every Friday in September brings a new episode of Justice League to Cartoon Network.

A cadre of super villains plagues our heroes in this week's installment "Injustice For All - Part 1".

When Lex Luthor discovers that he has contracted an incurable case of Kryptonite poisoning, he blames the Man of Steel. Using his vast personal fortune, Luthor hires a team of the world's most powerful super-villains to destroy Superman and The Justice League. he taps Joker, the Ultra-Humanite, Solomon Grundy, Shade, Star Sapphire, Cheetah and Copperhead to assist him in his diabolical efforts. The entire Justice League must assemble to face their greatest challenge.

"Injustice For All - Part 1" airs Friday September 6th at 7pm. Encores air Saturday, September 7 at 12:30pm and 9:30pm. Another Encore airs Sunday, September 8 at 7pm.

Then: it's a special Justice League bonus as the team squares off against the immortal evil of Vandal Savage in the Cartoon Network movie "Justice League: The Savage Time."

In this special feature length presentation the Justice League returns from a mission in deep space to find a world that has drastically changed -- for the worse. A ruthless, repressive dictator named Vandal Savage has seized control. To restore life as they know it, the world's greatest collection of superheroes must travel back in time and team up with Sgt. Rock and his military squadron, the Blackhawks. Together, they must re-fight a world war in order to stop Savage from taking power.

"Justice League: The Savage Time" airs Saturday September 7th at 7pm.

THIS WEEK ON SABRINA

It's a double dose of Sabrina this week on The WB.

First, Sabrina's (Melissa Joan Hart) joy over her mother 's (guest star Alley Mills, "The Wonder Years") unexpected visit quickly diminishes when the witches council's decree that the two must never come face to face turns Diana into a ball of wax. Henry Winkler directed the episode written by Laurie Gelman.

"The Whole Ball of Wax" airs Friday, September 6 at 8:00 pm on The WB.

Then, 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. Beth Broderick, Nick Bakay, David Lascher, Elisa Donovan, Soleil Moon Frye and Trevor Lissauer also star. Melissa Joan Hart directed the episode written by Jon Vandergriff.

Watch "I Fall To Pieces" the same night at 8:30 pm.

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

SPIDER-MAN + POWER RANGERS = TEAM HERO

Spider-Man animated fans will want to tune in the weekend of September 7th and 8th as cable's ABC Family Channel will be presenting the animated version of Marvel's secret wars storyline.

The show, along with multi-part segments of Power Rangers (1993, season 1) will be presented in a special Team Hero Weekend -- a double feature highlighting the triumph of good over evil.

Saturday, September 7 - Spider-Man (1995)

  • 9:30 a.m. Secret Wars, Chapter 1

  • 10:00 a.m. Secret Wars, Chapter 2: The Gauntlet of the Red Skull

  • 10:30 a.m. Secret Wars, Chapter 3: Doom

  • 11:00 a.m. Blade, The Vampire Hunter

  • 11:30 a.m. The Immortal Vampire

In this Spider-Man saga, the all-powerful Beyonder conducts an experiment to determine which is stronger, good or evil, by pitting two teams of heroes and villains against each other for the salvation of an alien world. Spider-Man is chosen to lead a group of Earth's mightiest champions: Captain America, Iron Man, X-Men's Storm and the Fantastic Four. Together, they must reclaim the planet that has been defiled in the clutches of villains Doctor Doom, Dr. Octopus, The Lizard and The Red Skull.

Then, a special two-part Spider-Man adventure showcases Marvel hero and feature film star, Blade. In the episodes, Blade tracks a vampire to New York and mistakes Spider-Man for the fanged monster.

Sunday, September 8 - Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993)

  • 9:30 a.m. Green With Evil I: Out of Control

  • 10:00 a.m. Green With Evil II: Jason's Battle

  • 10:30 a.m. Green With Evil III: The Rescue

  • 11:00 a.m. Green With Evil IV: Eclipsing Megazord

  • 11:30 a.m. Green With Evil V: Breaking the Spell

Green With Evil, a five-part storyline from the first season of the popular Power Rangers franchise -- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers -- marks the introduction of the legendary Green Ranger. The villainous Rita Repulsa casts an ancient spell on one of the kids' new classmates, Tommy, turning him into one of the Power Rangers' greatest adversaries. Yet as things look the most bleak for the team, Tommy's true spirit of goodness enables him to break free from Rita's spell, and he becomes the newest hero within the ranks of the Power Rangers.

NEXT WEEK ON SMALLVILLE

Lana sees through the eyes of a murderer on the encore presentation of "Obscura", the September 10th 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. Sam Jones III, Eric Johnson, Annette O'Toole and John Schneider also star. Terrance O'Hara directed the episode with story written by Greg Walker and teleplay by Michael Green & Mark Verheiden.

"Obscura" airs Monday, September 10th 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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