Comics2Film

Wed, November 13th, 2002 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rob Worley, Columnist

SPIDER-MAN, SPIDER-MAN ANIMATED SHOW

According to last week's Hollywood Reporter, the home video release of Spider-Man set a new sales record as expected. The DVD/VHS cut of the movie garnered an estimated $245 million in gross rental and sell-through revenue in the first five days, topping the opening week record momentarily held by Monsters, Inc.

Spidey sold more than 11 million units (combined VHS and DVD).

Fans who ordered the DVD version got two discs packed with extras and bonuses. But there's one bonus they didn't get: a sneak peek at the upcoming CGI animated Spider-Man show for MTV.

VHS copies of the Spider-Man movie include a 30 second clip featuring highlights for the new series. We get a look at the new animated designs for Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, Harry Osborn and, of course, Spidey! Lots and lots of Spidey!

The webslinger himself looks like a nice blend of the comic and movie designs. Strangely, the other characters look a bit different from their previous incarnations, be they comic or film.

If you purchased the DVD, then go out and rent the VHS for this little snippet of coolness. Until then, here's a few screen grabs to satisfy your Spidey cravings:

Thanks to Mayhem of See-Gee Mayhem for the tip!

MERIDIAN

[Sephie]Back in the summer CrossGen comics announced that they'd set up their Meridian title with Cornerstone Animation as a feature film project. Now, the project is already showing some signs of movement.

Cornerstone has set up a web page supporting the Meridian film. Although the page sheds little light on the project, Cornerstone did recently post a series of Concept Art.

The images are character designs posted on a page that bears the message "Just for fun, one of our Flash artists went ahead and did a few character drawings. We thought these were cool so we'd share with you. Enjoy."

We're not sure if that means these are actual designs that will be used in the project or if they are, in fact, "just for fun." At any rate, visit the link above for a look at nine design plates featuring characters from Meridian.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES - ANIMATED SHOW

[TMNT - Villains]Last week NinjaTurtles.com posted a first look at design art for the heroes of the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated show. Now, it's time to bring on the bad guys!

The site has posted a new set of design art featuring the likes of Oroko Saki (both in and out of his bad guy guise of The Shredder), a member of Shredder's Foot clan, scientist Baxter Stockman (who morphed into a bug in previous incarnations of the Turtles), the hulking Hun and a rival clan, The Purple Dragons.

According to the site, the show is coming together via 4Kids Entertainment and Dong Woo Animation and will debut on Fox in February of 2003. Cowabunga!

You can see a small sampling by clicking the graphic, but visit NinjaTurtles.com for many more hero and villain designs.

VANISHERS, THE

Beau Smith, manly man and vice president of sales for IDW Publishing, told Comics2Film that Hollywood is currently eying a few IDW titles.

The upstart publisher recently reprinted Chuck Dixon's graphic novel The Vanishers. The comic tells the tale of Andy, a boy whose friends begin to vanish without so much as a trace. Nobody but Andy even remembers they existed. The boy joins Arvis Volt on a time-travel quest to discover the fate of their missing friends.

Smith tells us that The Vanishers is generating "very strong" interest as a TV series.

Also recently reprinted was Smith's own Wynonna Earp: the adventures of a monster-slaying U.S. Marshall who descended from the legendary Wyatt Earp. The high-concept vehicle has consistently attracted interest and with the graphic novel back on the shelves that interest has been renewed.

DAREDEVIL

Fans got the first look at the new Daredevil trailer last Wednesday night when it was broadcast on the syndicated magazine half-hour Entertainment Tonight. At 10:30pm ET, the same evening the entire world world was given access to the new clip at DaredevilMovie.com.

The new trailer is a mix of gritty action and urban humor and best of all, it gives fans a good, solid look at the their comic favorites come to life. Fan reaction to the trailer is very positive so far. Many agree that Daredevil has a solid, realistic look, especially when the character performs his aerial acrobatics.

Head over to DaredevilMovie.com and check it out.

Latino Review reports that additional shooting on Daredevil is slated to happen in New York City in the coming weeks. The word comes from Ben Urich himself, or rather, actor Joe Pantoliano.

"We are actually doing some re-shoots of the exterior and interior of the taxi cab scene. Since Ben [Affleck] and I are in NY we might as well make it look like we're in NY," Pantoliao told Lation Review. "We are going to start shooting in Hells Kitchen next week."

The shooting of additional coverage after the main production has wrapped is common.

ZEN: INTERGALACTIC NINJA

Zen: Intergalactic Ninja co-creator Steve Stern tell Comics2Film that things are still percolating with the big-screen version of his flagship character.

New film plans were announced over a year ago with Zen Comics and Surge Licensing entering into an agreement with Eight Celestials Entertainment and Shanghai Films. Although things are not moving as quickly as initially anticipated, Stern tells us that the the development team is still actively working on the project.

Fans will likely see a new Zen comic before production on the movie gets underway. "We are re-launching the Zen monthly comics series starting in April," Stern told us. The character is enjoying renewed interest due to the recent wave of 1980s relaunches. Stern and Dan Cote created Zen: Intergalactic Ninja as an independent comic in 1987.

SUPERMAN

Comics2Film has learned that the filmmakers behind the new Superman movie are looking to four comic greats for guidance on the design of the film.

Sources in-the-know told C2F that members of the Superman production design team sat down with Howard Chaykin, Walter Simonson, Michael Kaluta and Stuart Immomen on Wednesday of last week to kick around design ideas for the film.

Few details were available at the time of this writing. Hopefully this meeting of the comic minds can be taken as a sign that the movie will faithfully adhere to the comic book roots.

Fans were alarmed in recent months when a detailed description of an early script hit the web indicating drastic changes to the Superman canon were afoot. Subsequently, screenwriter J.J. Abrams and director Brett Ratner have both admitted that that version of the script was not going to be used, and the film will be more true to the core of the character.

C2F was unable to learn if this is a one-time consultation or if the four comic creators will have an ongoing role in the development effort. If nothing else, it's certainly another sign that development on the film is moving quickly.

X-MEN 2

[X-Men 1.5]Comics Continuum scored a first look at box art and promotional materials for the upcoming DVD release X-Men 1.5 Collectors' Edition. As has been reported, this is an updated edition of the original X-Men movie, packed with more extras than the initial release.

X1.5 features the original movie presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 tracks.

Disc one of the set contains an audio commentary with director Bryan Singer and an 'Enhanced Viewing Mode' with 23 segments: 6 deleted scenes and 17 behind-the scenes vignettes.

Disc two features a new intro from Singer, four featurettes ('The Uncanny Suspects,' 'X-Factor: The Look of the X-Men Costume,' 'Special Effects of the X-Men' and 'Reflection of the X-Men'), Storyboard-to-animatic-to-film comparison, exclusive premiere footage from Ellis Island and around the world, multi-angle scene studies, still gallery, 3 theatrical trailers, 14 TV spots, 12 web interstitials, and an X-Men 2 sneak preview with exclusive set footage and the teaser.

Recent reports also indicate he new edition will have a suggested retail price of $26.98 and will also contain "a sneak preview teaser" for X-Men 2 and a coupon worth up to $12 toward admission to X-Men 2 or to Daredevil.

The disc is due in stores February 11th.

MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN, WONDER TWINS

James Harvey at Toonzone.net posted some interesting news about the new Batman animated movie. The site posted this official description for the direct-to-video Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman:

"A ruthless destructive vigilante posing as Batwoman is wreaking havoc in Gotham City. While she sets her sights on thwarting Penguin's evil plans, Batman concentrates on discovering this mysterious imposter's true identity. But when she's captured by the vicious Bane, it falls upon the caped crusader to rescue her, defeat Bane and foil the Penguin's devious plot himself."

Kelly Ripa has been cast as the voice for Batwoman. The movie is being prepped for home video release in the fall of 2003.

Also of interest to comic fans, Toonzone reports that Warner is gearing up to release the venerable Superfriends cartoon on the home video market. VHS and DVD releases of the Justice League of the 1970's are due out April 22nd of 2003.

The show ran for many seasons and introduced not-so-super sidekicks like Wendy, Marvin, Wonderdog as well as Zan and Jayna, the Wonder Twins (and their crime-fighting pet monkey gleek). The Wonder Twins are now in development as a live-action feature film.

JUSTICE LEAGUE

Cartoon Network issued a press release declaring the weekend airings of the Justice League movie "A Savage Time" to be a ratings success.

According to the release the movie generated double digit increases in ratings and delivery to tween, teen and adult categories. Compared to last year, tweens 9-14 ratings (2.8) saw a 12% spike while delivery (526,000) climbed 17%. Likewise, teens 12-17 ratings (1.9) increased by 12% and delivery (363,000) jumped 21%. Adults 18-34 also improved ratings (1.1) by a significant 83% and delivery (556,000) by a whopping 96%. The Sunday performance (11/10, 10-11:30 a.m.) proved even stronger, earning 40-80% delivery and ratings gains across kids 2-11, kids 6-11 and tweens 9-14. Teens 12-17 and adults 18-34 powered into triple-digit gains, earning between 100-150% delivery and ratings increases, respectively.

Early word is that the Justice League: A Savage Time movie will be re-broadcast as half-hour episodes in the show's January run on Cartoon Network. However, at this time no scheduling has been finalized.

ASTERIX 3

Variety reports that fans in France will be treated to another installment in what's proven to be a lucrative comic franchise. Producer Claude Berri is preparing a third Asterix movie that is slated for production next year.

Actor-director Gerard Jugnot (Monsieur Batignole) is set to direct, with Christian Clavier returning in the title role.

The movie is expected to be less ambitious than its predecessors, 1999's Asterix and Obelix Vs. Caesar and this year's Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, two of the most expensive French movies ever made. Berri told Variety that budget is much more of an issue on the new project. Cleopatra opened big in France but did not fare as well in the international market.

Both movies have yet to hit the U.S. market. Miramax holds the domestic distribution rights and plans on releasing Cleopatra in June of next year with Caesar following later in 2003.

BLUEBERRY, et. al.

[Premiere]The film adaptation of Jean (Moebius) Giraud's Blueberry will be the subject of an upcoming cover for the French Edition of Premiere magazine. The movie, formerly known as Mike S. Blueberry has been retiled Muraya.

The magazine will feature an interview with director Jan Kounen. The director will talk about his experiences filming the movie in Mexico this summer. The film stars Vincent Cassel as Blueberry, Juliette Lewis (Enough), Colm Meaney (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) and Eddie Izzard (Mystery Men).

Word is that the film was retiled due to the fact that it draws very little from the comic book source material.

Muraya isn't the only French comic headed for the big screen. Dark Horizons reports that Brotherhood of the Wolf director Christopher Gans is developing the cave man comic Rahan as a feature film. Gans is currently filming an adaptation another comic: L'Aventurier which the director describes as "the French Indiana Jones."

Arena Films (Pathe) has plans for film version of a comic called Grand Vampire. Iznogoud, a comic about a Machiavellian advisor to an Arabian Sultan is also being adapted by Arena and will supposedly star Patrick Braoud and Jose Garcia.

These projects join previously announced films like the currently-in-production La Marque Jaune and Michel Vaillant, as well as Fantomas and The Woman Trap (La Femme Piege) and the big-budget Asterix franchise.

POWERS

Powers scribe Brian Michael Bendis announced the Powers movie deal has been re-upped by Sony. Bendis made the announcement last Thursday night, explaining Sony has exercised their option to continue with the active development of the movie.

Bendis added, "Does this mean the movie will get made? I do not know. But it does mean they are happy with the package as it rolls on."

HELLBOY

Wayne Barlowe, the main creature designer behind the upcoming Hellboy, spoke recently with Countingdown.com about the influences contributing to his designs for the film.

Converting Mike Mignola's version of Hellboy for the big screen involved a lot of reseach into the visual structures of real world creatures. Creating the face, Barlowe explains, "The only way I felt comfortable doing that was taking myself over to Border's and buy a couple of Caribbean fish books and take a look at the actual structure of that kind of strange oversized scale plating and that sort of thing around the lips, and once I arrived at that, it felt a lot more comfortable messing with his face."

Check out Countingdown.com for the rest of the interview.

JEREMIAH

Variety reports that actress Joanne Kelly will be joining the cast of Jeremiah for season two. Kelly is described as a newcomer, although she's appeared on syndicated shows like Mutant X with a recurring part on Tracker.

Kelly is the second new cast member coming on board the show. Last month Lord of the Rings player Sean Astin joined the cast. Returning Jeremiah cast members include Luke Perry and Malcolm-Jamal Warner.

SMALLVILLE, BIRDS OF PREY

Last Thursday The WB issued a press release touting the success of two of it's comic based properties, Smallville and Birds of Prey. The November sweeps are here, and The WB continues to best it's last year ratings for Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Tuesday's Smallville keeps breaking records for the network, and The WB calls Birds part of a "strong Wednesday tandem" with Dawson's Creek.

Smallville brought in 9.4 million viewers, marking a new all-time series high for the show. The super show ranked #1 for the night in persons 12-34 (5.5/15), females 12-34 (5.7/15), women 18-34 (5.6/14), teens 12-17 (6.2/20) and male teens (6.5/19). Smallville ranked #1 in its time period in female teens (5.9/21) and finished #2 in its hour, just a few tenths of a rating point out of first and closing in on Fox's 24, in adults 18-34 (5.2/13) and males 12-34 (5.3/14). The show also ranked #2 in the time slot among men 18-34 (4.8/12) and finished #3 in the time period among adults 18-49 (4.4/10) and men 18-49 (4.2/9).

In spite of reports that the series is in trouble, the WB's press release looks on the bright side of the Birds of Prey ratings picture. At 9:00pm, the show, with 4.6 million total viewers, posted its second highest delivery since its debut in females 12-34 (3.1/8), equaled its second highest in women 18-34 (3.5/8), and notched its third highest numbers yet in persons 12-34 (2.5/7), adults 18-34 (2.9/8), adults 18-49 (2.4/6), and women 18-49 (2.6/6). The action show topped Fox's Fastlane and UPN's The Twilight Zone among females 12-34 (3.1/8), women 18-34 (3.5/8), women 18-49 (2.6/6 tied Fox), and female teens (1.9/7).

Though the network has plenty of reason to crow about these gains, Birds of Prey still hasn't been picked up for a full season. Rumors continue to circulate that the show is already on the chopping block, but perhaps this release indicates that the WB is committed to giving the show a fair shot.

WITCHBLADE SEASON 3

Witchblade correspondent Dex sends in a report from The Omaha World Herald. Comic creator Michael Turner did an interview with the paper. In it, he discussed the recently canceled Witchblade TV series.

"I liked it. It was different from the comic book because they had to do things differently because of budgets and stuff," Turner said.

He went on to comment on star Yancy Butler. "She was believable as Sara Pezzini. They didn't want some supermodel. She was believable as a cop. She has that rough, detective look. But she's still hot."

In spite of good ratings, TNT canceled the show. Fans have been working to encourage other networks to consider picking it up. They may be encouraged by Turner's next comments: "I don't think TNT wanted to be in the original-series business anymore. We're shopping it around and have had some interested parties. I think it might resurface again."

Fans of the show recently participated in the "11th Precinct Charity Fundraiser" and raised over $2,000 for the New York Police & Fire Widows' & Children's Benefit Fund.

Named for the fictional 11th Precinct of Witchblade, the fundraiser ran for two weeks and was organized by Witchblade Central Station, a fan-run organization devoted to unifying fans in their campaign to get Witchblade back on the air. The goal of the fundraiser was twofold: to serve as a show of support and a "thank you" to the cast and crew of Witchblade for their work over the two seasons of the show, and also to recognize the families of the real world police officers and firefighters of New York City.

"Witchblade fans' willingness to give to charity in the name of Witchblade demonstrates fans continued support for the cast and a third season," Witchblade Central Station committee member Jessica Roberts said.

"It was important to us to select a charity that had a connection with Witchblade. Choosing the New York Police & Fire Widows' & Children's Benefit Fund was an easy decision," said Alicia Bennett, Witchblade Central Station committee member and fundraiser coordinator. "Over two seasons, fans grew to love and care for the characters of Witchblade as they worked within the New York City police system. As fans, we wanted to show our respect and admiration for their real-life counterparts, as well."

Witchblade, based on the Top Cow comic of the same name, consistently earned a 2.0 or better cable rating during its two seasons on TNT, according to information published by several industry trade publications. Witchblade was produced by Top Cow Productions, Halsted Pictures and Mythic Films in association with Warner Bros. Television.

Viewers are asked to continue to write letters, send postcards, sign an online petition, and e-mail representatives and executives at Warner Bros. Television on behalf of Witchblade. Details on the campaign and other pertinent information about the 11th Precinct Charity Fundraiser and the continuing campaign to save Witchblade can be found at Witchblade Central Station. Information about the New York Police & Fire Widows' & Children's Benefit Fund can be found at www.nypfwc.org.

BALL & CHAIN

They're back and bickering! Variety reports that Warner Bros. Pictures has taken a new interest in the comic property Ball & Chain. The studio is in negotiations to acquire the feature film rights to Scott Lobdell's comic for Harry Potter producer David Heyman.

The comic tells the story of a soon-to-be divorced couple who are endowed with super powers by an alien being. The problem is, the powers only work when the squabbling couple is together.

Lionel Wigram, Warner's senior VP of production, will oversee for the studio.

Fans will recall that Ball & Chain was previously filmed as a pilot for Fox TV. The pilot starred Dan Cortese (Veronica's Closet) and Myndy Crist (Baseball Wives) in the starring roles. Although it was shot, the pilot was never aired.

ADV FILMS ANNOUNCES ANIME NETWORK

Last week ADV Films announced publicly the creation of The Anime Network, the first television channel in North America dedicated to anime (Japanese animation) and anime-related content. The Anime Network targets the nation's estimated 85 million cable television subscribers, and seeks to capitalize on cable's increasing dominance in the world of at-home entertainment.

Initially announced in June, 2002 at ADV Films' 10th Anniversary party in Tokyo, and announced in the U.S. at ADV's November 2 invitation-only 10th Anniversary party in Houston, the creation of The Anime Network has the industry abuzz with excitement and speculation.

"This has been in the works for some time," said ADV Films President, Founder and CEO John Ledford. "Until now, the market and the culture haven't been ready for it. But today ever-increasing numbers of Americans are becoming familiar with anime and its distinctive aesthetic; they're curious about anime, they're hungry for it, and The Anime Network is going to deliver it right to their televisions."

While existing cable outlets have enjoyed strong ratings with limited blocks of anime and anime-inspired animated programming, The Anime Network will make fine anime programming available to viewers 24 hours a day.

"The Anime Network is the next logical step," said Ledford. "The television outlets that currently carry anime aren't meeting the potential demand; they offer very limited selections of titles, and only during very restricted hours. The Anime Network will change all of that, and we're excited to be leading the revolution."

The Anime Network model is structured around four categorized content areas: Action Zone, Sci-Fi, Comedy Incorrect, and Horror/Martial Arts. These categories are designed to include virtually the entire spectrum of quality anime, while guiding new viewers unfamiliar with specific titles.

Coming soon, releases detailing geographic/service provider availability of The Anime Network, along with information about whom viewers can call regarding local availability; also, a sneak preview of programming that will be available in The Anime Network's first months.

THIS WEEK ON SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH

[Sabrina]Singing sensation Arvil Lavinge and actor/director Garry Marshall guest star on "Bada-Ping", this week's episode of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.

Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) catches a special performance by pop star Avril Lavigne ("Let Go") and meets a talented musician (guest star Richard Voll, Crossroads) whom she believes is being blackmailed by a gangster (Garry Marshall). After Sabrina is threatened by the gangster, she and her cousin Amanda (guest star Emily Hart) take a trip into the future where she sees that her premature death is really caused by Amanda's second-hand smoke. Soleil Moon Frye, Elisa Donovan, Nick Bakay, Andrew Walker, Diana-Maria Riva and Bumper Robinson also star. Anson Williams directed the episode written by Nancy Cohen.

"Bada-Ping" airs Friday, November 15 at 8:30pm on The WB.

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

THIS WEEK ON JUSTICE LEAGUE

Heeeeee's back. In case you missed him in previous airings, Etrigan The Demon guest stars in a repeat airing of "A Knight of Shadows - Part 1", this week's episode of Justice League.

The episode airs Friday November 15th at 7pm. Encores follow on Saturday, November 16th at 9:30pm (widescreen) and Sunday, November 17th at 7pm.

Also, look for a repeat airing of "Injustice For All" Parts 1 and 2 on Saturday, November 16th starting at 12:00pm. Watch Lex Luthor assemble a team of the League's worst villains to get his revenge on Superman and the gang.

THIS WEEK ON JEREMIAH

Marcus' (Peter Stebbings) position as Thunder Mountain's leader is challenged by brothers who are threatened by the decision to introduce outside community leaders to the secret headquarters in "A Means To An End", this week's repeat airing of Jeremiah.

"A Means To An End" airs Friday, November 15th at 10:50 P.M. on Showtime. There will also an encore on Sunday, November 17th on Showtime Beyond at 10:50 PM (ET & PT).

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

You can also visit that site for a virtual tour of Thunder Mountains. Click "Behind The Scenes" from the site's nav. (Java and Flash required).

NEXT WEEK ON SMALLVILLE

In case you missed it last night, The WB is going to rebroadcast the Smallville episode "Ryan", an episode featuring the return of the mind-reading Ryan.

Clark (Tom Welling) pushes his abilities to the limit to save his telepathic young friend Ryan (guest Ryan Kelley) from an evil doctor who wants to control the boy's abilities. Meanwhile, Nell (guest star Sarah-Jane Redmond) tells Lana (Kristin Kreuk) they are moving to Metropolis. Michael Rosenbaum, Sam Jones III, Allison Mack, Annette O'Toole and John Schneider also star. Terrence O'Hara directed the episode written by Philip Levens.

"Ryan" re-airs Sunday, November 17 at 9:00pm ET on The WB.

Then, in the show's regular timeslot, Home Improvements star Jonathan Taylor Thomas guest stars in a new episode called "Dichotic".

When Clark (Tom Welling) tries to warn Lana (Kristin Kreuk) and Chloe (Allison Mack) about Ian (guest star Thomas), an overachieving student who is surreptitiously dating both girls, they accuse Clark of jealousy but realize too late that he was right. Meanwhile, frustration with his father (John Glover) causes Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) to lose his temper and attack a parking attendant's car with a golf club, landing him in an anger management class where he meets an interesting new woman. Sam Jones III, Annette O'Toole and John Schneider also star. Craig Zisk directed the episode written by Mark Verheiden.

"Dichotic" airs Tuesday, November 19 at 9:00pm on The WB.

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

NEXT WEEK ON BIRDS OF PREY

Huntress is drawn to a handsome metahuman in "Split," next week's episode of Birds of Prey.

Already frustrated with her relationship with Reese (Shemar Moore), Helena (Ashley Scott) is intrigued when she meets Darkstrike (guest star Kristoffer Polaha), a metahuman who has come to New Gotham on the trail of a serial killer. Meanwhile, Barbara (Dina Meyer) and Dinah (Rachel Skarsten) discover that Darkstrike has a dangerous alter ego. Mia Sara also stars. James Marshall directed the episode written by Adam Armus and Kay Foster with story by Edward Kittis and Adam Horowitz.

"Split" airs Wednesday, November 20th at 9:00pm on the WB.

 

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

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