Dark Horse's Mike Richardson talks comic book movies

Mon, March 31st, 2003 at 12:00am PST

TV/Film
Rob Worley, Columnist

Sure, comic book movies are the hot genre today. But long before the current

wave of high-profile projects, Dark Horse Entertainment big shot Mike Richardson had a

slate of big-screen adaptations that would make Avi Arad envious.

Out

of those development efforts came "Timecop", which some would argue is

Jean-Claude Van Damme's finest movie, and "The Mask" a film that

helped propel Jim Carrey to superstardom and introduced the world to beautiful

starlet-to-be named Cameron Diaz.

The Dark Horse movie machine hit some speed

bumps in 1999. The techno-suspense movie "Virus" was truly painful to

watch. "Mystery Men," based on Bob Burden's comics and featuring an

all-star cast of top-drawer comic actors, is a hilarious movie and a fan

favorite. Sadly it was also a box-office dud.

Richardson and Dark Horse

haven't abandoned Hollywood. Comics2Film/CBR news got a chance to chat with

Richardson about their current slate of movies, which will kick off with next

year's much-anticipated "Hellboy."

HELLBOY

The producer

told us what he's seen so far in the form of dailies is "sensational. Unbelievable."

As

fans well know, writer/director Guillermo del Toro has made "Hellboy"

his passion project since joining it in 1998. "This is really Guillermo's project. Guillermo had a vision for this and he's

absolutely a genius," Richardson said. "He immerses himself completely in the material and has a

single mind and focus on the project."

As with any adaptation del Toro is

tweaking the "Hellboy" story for the big screen.

"The additions Guillermo's making to the comic are absolutely perfect. It's

right on," Richardson said. "Mike's been very, very involved from day one. He's over there in

Prague right now. It's going to be as true to the comic as possible."

Richardson himself will be traveling to the Prague shoot soon.

30 DAYS OF NIGHT

Richardson was also responsible for ushering Steve

Niles' high-concept hit "30 Days of Night" into a Hollywood bidding

war.

"Steve Niles is doing a number of books for

[Dark Horse] and we took '30 Days' over to Sam

Raimi and Rob Tapert, who are friends of mine," Richardson said. Raimi,

Tapert and Richardson all collaborated on "Timecop."

The movie was initially optioned by Senator International. Sony pictures

recently came on board as a partner in the production. "Now it's going to be a much bigger project."

Niles has just turned in a first draft of the screenplay. "What I've read looks great. This is going to be a very scary movie that

really lives up to a very different premise involving vampires," Richardson

said.

CONCRETE

One project that should be made but so far has struggled is Paul Chadwick's

"Concrete," about a gentle writer trapped in an immensely powerful,

stone-like alien body. Where some comic book characters would be tempted to use

their new situation to fight crime, Concrete is more a study of the man inside

the stone shell and his struggle to cling to his lost humanity.

The

project looked promising when Peter Jackson got involved, but Jackson then got

the opportunity to do a little pet project of his called "Lord of the

Rings."

Richardson assures us that "Concrete" is still in development.

"We're trying to jump

start it again," Richardson said.

We asked if there was any chance Jackson would return to it one

"Rings" had run its course. "Peter's in a whole new world, isn't he? All I can say is that would be the

best thing that could happen," Richardson said. "Peter's a great guy. As much as I felt confidence

in Peter's ability to do 'Lord of the Rings' successfully, he succeeded

beyond my wildest dreams."

However, it was announced today that Jackson's next project would be

"King Kong," so "Concrete" may have to wait.

TIMECOP II

Strangely, one comic adaptation that that Richardson is

not involved in is the direct to video sequel to "Timecop."

"Even though it was a

creation of mine, through some lapse in our contract,

they were able to do a straight-to-video movie," Richardson told us. The

new movie was done completely without his involvement or that of co-creator Mark

Verheiden. "I hope it's good but we have nothing to do with it."

The

original "Timecop" was a box-office hit and spawned a TV series (on

which Richardson was an Executive Producer).

Richardson tells us that he

and Verheiden always planned to revisit the concept and even had a storyline

mapped out. "We'll take that story and do it as 'Timecop' at some point, or we'll create a

new project out of it. We have a very clever twist to the story."

 
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