Punisher Movie: The Punishment Begins Now

Tue, August 5th, 2003 at 12:00am PDT

TV/Film
Rob Worley, Columnist

Cameras started rolling on "The Punisher" over the weekend, with

principal photography beginning at the Am South building in Tampa on Saturday.

Marvel and Artisan kicked off the picture with an announcement on Saturday

followed by a press conference on Monday.

The announcement was the typical start-of-production release, listing out the

principals involved in the film. Most surprising was the addition of actor Roy

Scheider to the cast list. Scheider has been seen in numerous movies over the

past thirty years. He's probably best remembered as the heroic sheriff in

"Jaws."

Other interesting names in the release are Conrad W. Hall ("Fight Club") who serves as the cinematographer on "The Punisher"

as well as Michael Hanan ("Ronin") as the production designer and Lisa

Tomczeszyn ("Daredevil", "Spider-Man") as the costume

designer.

Brian Pate, webmaster of Comic

Book Conventions, attended the press conference for "The Punisher"

in Tampa, Florida, yesterday as a special correspondent for Comics2Film/CBR

News.

Attending

the conference on behalf of the Artisan Pictures'/Marvel Studios' production

were lead actor Thomas Jane, writer and director Jonathan Hensleigh, producer

Gale Anne Hurd, producer and Marvel Studios CEO Avi Arad, Executive Vice

President of Productions for Artisan Andrew Golov, and line producer John

Starke.

Hensleigh described the movie as "an intense urban drama" and noted

that he used a lot from "The Punisher: Year One" mini-series, as well

as elements from "Welcome Back Frank," Garth Ennis's recent story

which "supercharged the series."

Hensleigh said that Marvel sent him a bound copy of "Welcome Back

Frank" which he read in about 45 minutes, and within another 30 minutes, he

had committed to the project.

Tim Bradstreet's Punisher covers were cited as a major influence on the look

of the movie as well. Hensleigh did note that, "the plot is my own," a

point Jane described as "exciting." Jane said that comic fans would

recognize characters and recognize themes yet get a new story.

Hensleigh stated that Michael France's script was "not part of my story

or vision." His Punisher film will be "vastly different."

When asked about the previous Punisher film starring Dolph Lundgren, Arad

said, "The last movie was made with different resources. The two won't have

anything in common."

Jane, wearing sunglasses nearly the entire time, told the attending press,

"I love the world of comic books. I think this character…bridges the gap

between the fantastic and the real world."

Jane said he felt just as much responsibility in bringing Frank Castle to

life as he did for the real people he has portrayed such as Mickey Mantle. Jane

has been training for the film with "a troupe of Navy seals."

Jane described himself as a "comic nut." His interests include the

EC Comics line from the 50's, all the "Punisher" comics (including the

current series), "Sandbox" (an indie series), and "Astro

City." He also described Garth Ennis's "Thor: Vikings"

mini-series as "pretty damn interesting."

Hensleigh observed that through immense pre-production and planning, they

would be able to do much with their limited budget. Golov noted that Florida

residents staffed many departments. Hurd praised the quality of the staff as

well and described the production as "a perfect match between Hollywood and

Tampa."

As filming began Saturday, 220 cast and crew members were working. Around 300

people may be working on the production at any one time, however, as

construction crews are working at other locations.

Hurd said that they expected onlookers at the film locations, but that there

were "do's and don'ts" for bystanders such as refraining from flash

photography while filming was going on.

Hurd noted that principal actors will be "arriving daily."

While a release date has not been set, Hurd said the film is projected as a

spring/summer film and could come out as early as April. A screening is likely

to be held in Tampa before the release of the movie.

Arad said that the phrase "comic book movies" is "hopefully

going to become a broader term."

Jane noted that you "find an incredible wealth of material."

Find more pictures from the press conference on Brian Pate's Comic

Book Conventions website.

CBR News

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