Monday, July 7, 2008

News - 07/07/08...

Video: Bruce Timm on 'Gotham Knight'

Animator extraordinaire Bruce Timm gives you the scoop on 'Batman: Gotham Knight'

"Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow" Screening At Upcoming Comic-Con

The upcoming direct-to-video Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow animated feature will screen at the San Diego Comic-Con.

Marvel and Lionsgate will give fans at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con a first look screening of Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow on Friday July 25, at 8:30PM in Room 6A. Seating is limited and on a first-come basis.

The screening will be followed by a panel that will include the film's Supervising Producer Craig Kyle, Producer/Supervising Director Gary Hartle, Writer Christopher Yost and some of the voice talent from the film. This will be the only screening of Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow before its September 2, 2008 Blu-Ray and DVD release.

As an added bonus, fans who stay to the end of the event will get to see a sneak peek of Hulk Vs Thor, which is Marvel and Lionsgate's next hardcore fan-focused feature being released in January 2009. Hulk Vs Thor is one half of the upcoming Hulk Vs movie, the other half being Hulk Vs Wolverine.

Panel Discussion for "Batman: The Brave & The Bold" At Upcoming Comic-Con

Cartoon Network and Adult Swim have released their event listing for the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con 2008, and a panel for Batman: The Brave and The Bold is included.

Below is the listing for the panel.

Friday, July 25, 10 - 11a.m. (PT)
Location: TBD

From Warner Bros. Animation comes the latest interpretation of the classic Batman franchise. Our caped crusader is teamed up with heroes from across the DC Universe, delivering nonstop action and adventure with a touch of comic relief. Blue Beetle, Green Arrow, Aquaman and countless others will get a chance to uphold justice alongside Batman. Though still based in Gotham, Batman will frequently find himself outside city limits, facing situations that are both unfamiliar and exhilarating. The panelists include:

* Sam Register, executive producer
* James Tucker, producer
* Michael Jelenic, story editor
* Brandon Vietti , director
* Ben Jones, director
* Michael Chang, director
* Andrea Romano, voice director
* Diedrich Bader, voice of Batman

Comic-Con International will be held in San Diego, Calif., Friday, July 26 - Sunday, July 28, 2008. All times, dates and locations subject to change.

More trouble for Where the Wild Things Are?

Coming Soon notes that the Spike Jonze film, which was to use live-action puppetry and computer animation to bring to life the Maurice Sendak picture book, has been removed from Warner Bros.’ release schedule. Where the Wild Things Are began shooting in 2005 and was initially set for a May 2008 release before being pushed back to October 2008 then 2009. Rumors started floating earlier this year that Warner Bros. was considering reshooting the entire film.

Ron Perlman - The Man Inside the Hellboy

Actor Ron Perlman is pleased to find that his alter-ego Hellboy hadn’t changed much in the four years between the first film and Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

“It’s very much the same guy, except this time we’re seeing him circumstantially in a highly emotionally compromised state because the relationship with Liz is on the rocks and perhaps in danger of burning up, pardon the pun, right in front of him,” Perlman says. “And, of course, he does what Hellboy will do when he’s not sure whether he has a reason to live or not, he starts drinking heavily. And meanwhile, parenthetically, he’s got to go save the Earth from complete extinction — while he’s buzzed.”

Perlman is talking about the highlight scene of the film, opening July 11, in which Hellboy and Abe Sapien drown their troubles with women in a case of beer. “The more we did that the happier everybody got. It was almost like a wrap party,” he says. “The good news is I liked it every bit as much when I finally saw it Saturday night at the premiere.”

The character’s sense of humor is a primary attraction for Perlman, who describes Hellboy as the Dean Martin of superheroes. “To me far and away the most attractive aspect of Hellboy is the fact that he doesn’t take anything seriously.”

Playing Hellboy does have its drawbacks — namely the extensive makeup and costume process, which takes between three and a half to six hours to complete. Perlman says it’s still just a costume, though looking the part does put a little spring in his step when it’s all ready to go.

“I don’t think it really changes anything. I will tell you that when they finally zip up the last zipper and tie up the last shoelace and I start walking through the set, it’s like there’s a strut that I don’t have in real life,” he says.

Perlman says that even though it looks like he’s leaping through the air and throwing down punches with Luke Goss’s Prince Nuada, looks can be deceiving. “I spent most of them in an armchair. I didn’t have to learn anything,” he says. “I get thrown about a bit, but the question is, was it really me? Seamless, though, wasn’t it?”

There was less of a challenge in the film being a sequel as there was in living up to the vision that del Toro had for the film. “I think there was a huge amount of empowerment that took place by the whole Pan’s Labyrinth experience. I think that he truly, finally came to terms with the possibilities of cinema and now refuses to settle for anything less than exactly what it is he wants to do that he can think of and that he thinks is cool,” Perlman says. “Shooting a scene was far longer, but I don’t think that that had anything to do with the sequel, I just think that that was trying to realize this unbelievably epic world that Guillermo was depicting.”

Perlman, who says he’d happily reprise the role should there be a Hellboy III, recently completed work on The Job, Shem Bitterman’s adaptation of his own stage play; The Mutant Chronicles, a completed film in search of a distributor that will be screened at Comic-Con International this year; and a TV series for FX called Sons of Anarchy.

"Kung Fu Panda" prompts soul-searching in China

More than just a box-office hit in China, animated Hollywood comedy "Kung Fu Panda" has led Chinese artists to find fault with their own film industry and call for fewer government controls on culture.

The movie, which tells the story of a fat panda who dreams of martial arts glory, was faithful to Chinese culture and laced with good humor, but China itself may have been incapable of producing such a film, a Chinese filmmaker and opera director lamented.

"The film's protagonist is China's national treasure and all the elements are Chinese, but why didn't we make such a film?" Wu Jiang, president of the China National Peking Opera Company, was cited as saying by Xinhua news agency on Saturday.

Lu Chuan, a young film director, applauded "Kung Fu Panda" as a fresh and rich take on Chinese culture, mixing references to martial arts films with classic legends.

"I cannot help wondering when China will be able to produce a movie of this caliber," he wrote in the China Daily on Saturday.

Lu said the government was stifling the creativity of China's filmmakers, explaining how he had been asked to make an animated film for the Olympic Games, which will be hosted by Beijing in August, but decided to walk away from the project.

"I kept receiving directions and orders on how the movie should be like," he said. "The fun and joy from doing something interesting left us, together with our imagination and creativity."

An advisory body to the country's rubber-stamp parliament debated this week why a film like "Kung Fu Panda," produced by DreamWorks Animation, had not been made in China, Xinhua reported.

A standing committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress said that, though there was no secret ingredient to filmmaking success, the government ought to relax its oversight. Opening more space for Chinese artists would allow more innovation, ultimately giving China greater cultural influence abroad, they concluded.

Some Chinese critics had called for a boycott of "Kung Fu Panda" because Steven Spielberg, an executive at DreamWorks, quit his role as artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympics to protest China's links to the Sudanese government.

Zhao Bandi, a Chinese artist who features pandas in his work, also called for people to shun the film, saying that foreigners were profiteering from China's national symbol.

But Zhao has since come under fire from Chinese critics for misguided nationalism, while theatre operators have reported packed houses for "Kung Fu Panda."

The comedy had earned $16 million at the Chinese box office as of Wednesday, according to its distributors. Any film that grosses $15 million is considered a big hit in China.

Box office update

Disney/Pixar’s Wall•E made $8.8M Friday, bringing its domestic cume to an impressive $128M and on its way to post the third best 10-day total in Pixar history and 5th highest for any animated film with a projected $133M. Meanwhile DreamWorks Animation’s critically acclaimed blockbuster hit Kung Fu Panda grossed an additional $2M on Friday and might top Madagascar’s $193.6M by Monday to become the second biggest original film in the studio’s history. Both movies are also expected to perform strongly overseas, proving once again the unparalleled appeal of quality animated films worldwide.

New Wolverine Promo Photo

The new issue of Empire magazine has this new promo photo of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine for 20th Century Fox's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, opening May 1, 2009. Directed by Gavin Hood from a David Benioff, the action-thriller co-stars Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Kitsch,, Danny Huston, Dominic Monaghan, Daniel Henney and Lynn Collins.

Leading up to the events of X-Men, X-Men Origins: Wolverine tells the story of Wolverine's epically violent and romantic past, his complex relationship with Victor Creed, and the ominous Weapon X program. Along the way, Wolverine encounters many mutants, both familiar and new, including surprise appearances by several legends of the X-Men universe.

'Hancock' grabs heroic $107.3M over long weekend

Will Smith's box-office superpowers remain intact. Smith's "Hancock" — the story of a boozing, foul-mouthed superhero who dresses like a street bum — led the Fourth of July weekend with a $66 million debut, according to studio estimates Sunday.

That raised the total for Sony's "
to $107.3 million since it opened Tuesday night to get a jump on the holiday.

It was a familiar place for Smith, one of Hollywood's most-consistent draws. "Hancock" is his fifth movie to open at No. 1 over the Fourth of July. The others were "Men in Black" and its sequel, "Independence Day" and "Wild Wild West."

"Will Smith, Mom, apple pie and the Fourth of July. It doesn't get any better," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony. "People just so relate to him and the characters that he plays. They totally embraced it as something different, something fresh."

The previous weekend's top flick, the Disney-Pixar animated tale "WALL-E," slipped to second place with $33.4 million. Its 10-day total is $128.1 million.

Overall business slipped for the first time in a month. The top 12 movies pulled in $158.7 million, down 4 percent from the Fourth of July weekend last year, when "Transformers" opened at No. 1 with $70.5 million, according to box-office tracker Media By Numbers.

Revenues this summer are at $2.22 billion, about 2 percent ahead of Hollywood's record pace in 2007, when summer revenues topped $4 billion for the first time.

"Hancock" co-stars Jason Bateman as a public-relations man who tries to give an image-makeover to Smith's cranky character. Charlize Theron plays Bateman's wife, who has her own reasons for wanting the superhero to stay out of her life.

It was the second-best opening weekend for Smith, following last December's "I Am Legend" at $77.2 million, and was his eighth-straight movie to open at No. 1.

"`Hancock' did not get great reviews, but it doesn't matter. A guy like Will Smith is arguably the most-bankable star in the world," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers. "He's utterly likable and he's real, and that permeates from the screen to the audience."

Overseas, "Hancock" pulled in an additional $78 million in 50 other countries.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC.

1. "Hancock," $66 million.

2. "WALL-E," $33.4 million.

3. "Wanted," $20.6 million.

4. "Get Smart," $11.1 million.

5. "Kung Fu Panda," $7.5 million.

6. "The Incredible Hulk," $5 million.

7. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," $3.9 million.

8. "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl," $3.6 million.

9. "Sex and the City," $2.3 million.

10. "You Don't Mess With the Zohan,"
$2 million.

Latest Wall•E interviews

Andrew Stanton lost his cool with while Sigourney Weaver was all smile on the Early Show a few days ago to promote Pixar’s new film.

Pixar exhibit moving to Korea

The Korea Times walks us through the traveling Pixar exhibit, now in Seoul on time for the studio’s 20th anniversary.

Dark Knight's music was almost scrapped

Composer Hans Zimmer was so upset after Australian actor Heath Ledger's death that he thought of scrapping the entire score for the new Batman movie Dark Knight and re-doing it.

Zimmer was scared that the music for the scenes with Ledger was too dark and morbid.

According to him, "I, for a moment, was thinking, 'Oh my god, I should throw out all the music I've written for The Joker and just start over again,' which is just exactly the wrong thing to do. To honour his (Ledger) performance, I had to stick to my guns."

"The music has to portray the philosophy of anarchy that The Joker displays in the face of Batman's valour. I couldn't soften the music or compromise the evil he projects because Heath really did give such a tremendous performance. If I had taken my eye off the ball, if I had been sentimental, if I had done anything like that, it would really have not served him."

Kevin Durand Briefly Talks Wolverine

Kevin Durand (ABC's "Lost") briefly talked to Thunder Bay's Source about playing Frederick J. Dukes/The Blob in X-Men Origins: Wolverine:

He spent time in the land down under working on the next installment of the X-Men movies: Wolverine, where he plays alongside Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds as the villainous mutant The Blob also known as Frederick J. Dukes, a perennial X-Men character. The film is set for theatrical release in spring 2009.

"I wasn't a comic book kid because I was busy playing hockey here in Thunder Bay. That's all I wanted to do and all I dreamed of really. But when I saw the first (X-Men film), I was just in awe and the second one (X2:X-Men United) just blew me away," he said.

When he heard the news a new installment was in the works, he was hoping the producers would consider him for a part and luckily for Durand, they already knew his name and called for him to take a look at the part.

And to get the larger than life Blob ready for the cameras, it took six months of costume and special effects preparation.

"I have a feeling people are going to like him," Durand said.

Opening May 1, 2009, the Gavin Hood-directed film stars Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Kitsch,, Danny Huston, Dominic Monaghan, Daniel Henney and Lynn Collins. "Wolverine" tells the story of Wolverine's epically violent and romantic past, his complex relationship with Victor Creed, and the ominous Weapon X program.

Christopher Drake Composing For "Wonder Woman" Animated Feature

The World's Finest has confirmed that the acclaimed composer will provide the score for the upcoming animated feature.

Christopher Drake, known for his work on Batman: Gotham Knight and the animated Hellboy movies, will be providing the score for the upcoming Wonder Woman animated feature. The direct-to-video animated feature is due for release in Spring 2009.

For All The Tezuka Fans, Black Jack Teasers

Among adult readers in Japan, BLACK JACK is Osamu Tezuka's most popular achievement, and perhaps the most close to the creator's heart, as Tezuka considered entering the medical field -- majoring in medicine in college -- before devoting his life to comics.

Black Jack is a genius surgeon who never acquired his license due to his clashes with the medical establishment. He is hired out by anyone willing to pay his exorbitant rates and is perceived as a heartless rogue because of his enigmatic nature and antisocial manner. But as readers will soon discover, that is not the whole story.

Vertical, Inc. will release the BLACK JACK episodes in the order that Tezuka indicated for a hardcover "Deluxe Edition" planned before his death in 1989 at the age of 60. Two earlier volumes of translations were released in 1998-99, but featured only 17 episodes of the nearly 250 that Tezuka created.

Each 300-page volume of the Vertical, Inc. series will feature a dozen-plus stories, most published in English for the first time. The Vertical volumes will also embody the high production standards that readers have come to expect, not only from the publisher's Tezuka output, but also its line of Japanese pop fiction.

Go to for a link to a free preview.

Ready to Take a Stand?

The Dark Knight viral site has updated with two coordinates where Batman fans will want to gather when the countdown clock hits zero! (9pm Central Time in Chicago and 10pm Eastern Time in New York on Tuesday). Two threads on both gatherings can be found here and here!

In related news, has posted a new clip from the next "Gotham Tonight." And want to see the Toyota F1 team "racing" the Batmobile? You can check it out using the player below (the Batpod also makes an appearance)

'GI Joe' Destro casting

Hiss report some interesting Destro casting news about the 'G.i. Joe' movie. Be forewarned, this is a potential, albeit light spoiler.

Apparently at the European Cinema Expo word leaked out that David Murray is still playing Destro in the movie.

He'll be playing James McCullen The 1st and has a key role in shaping the Destro lineage. Chris Eccleston will play Destro XXIV, the present-day villain of the film.

'Dark Knight' Writer David Goyer - "This One IS Better"

Even though Batman Begins ended with a scene seemingly written with the express intent of paving the way for a sequel with the Joker, co-writer David S. Goyer says it was written and film with no plan to follow through.
“(Director Christopher Nolan) did not call me until about three months after Batman Begins had opened to talk about the second one,” says Goyer, who returned to help the director write the story for The Dark Knight, which opens July 18.

Though titled The Dark Knight, echoing Frank Miller’s classic graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, the film follows its own story, Goyer says. “I think that there are elements from The Dark Knight, elements from The Long Halloween, elements from The Killing Joke,” he says. “But it’s not like we were specifically adapting one specific comic book or comic book arc.”

Goyer says he and Chris Nolan spent a month together writing a detailed outline of the story. There were some changes from the outline to the final produce, but not many — a fact sure to disappoint fans of deleted and alternate scenes. “The basic building blocks were there,” he says.

Turning the story into a screenplay fell to the director and his brother, Jonathan Nolan, who says the comic books provided a deep library of stories that could be cherry picked for the best ideas.

“One of the reasons why this is such a cool job is because you have all these incredible writers who’ve worked the character before you. And the fans will actually get mad at you if you didn’t try to incorporate some of those cool ideas they came up with,” says Nolan, who also collaborated as writer with his brother on The Prestige and Memento. “I would like to think if I watched this film without having worked on it, I would enjoy the moments that I recognized from the books.”

What may surprise audiences and spark some debate are the parallels between the Joker’s crime spree and terrorism in the modern world. But Goyer says they did not set out to make a political film. “I think that if you try to do that, you’re going to screw up.”

The starting point was again the final scene of Batman Begins, in which the idea was floated that Batman’s presence alone would bring out a more freakish and unstable element in a dangerous game of escalation.

Goyer says the Joker is at heart an anarchist, and since anarchy leads to terrorism it’s an obvious leap for people to make. But Nolan points out there are plenty of differences between the story in the film and terrorism in the real world, most notably that the Joker has no political cause behind his crimes.

“The Joker’s cause is chaos. To me that’s very different, somewhat timeless and a little more frightening,” he says.

That point of view in the film evokes the Batman-Joker relationship as defined in comics like Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, with each seeing in the other a dark and necessary reflection of themselves.

“In this movie, the only goal of the Joker when he’s sort of evoking this reign of terror is for the Batman to turn himself in. But you also get the sense that — well, he says it — he doesn’t even want Batman to do it. He just wants to keep playing,” Goyer says

Though neither writer spent much time on the set, Nolan says was thrilled by the contributions the late Heath Ledger made to the Joker. “I felt like Heath took what we’d written and took it to a whole different, extraordinary place,” he says. “I almost feel like he took authorship over the whole thing. I’m just glad to have been along for the ride.”

As for whether there would be a third film in this series, both Nolan and Goyer said it would be up to his brother. Nolan says the key will be simply whether he thinks a third film could improve on The Dark Knight. “There’s got to be a real reason to go back and do it,” he says.

Goyer says that will be a tall order. “This one is better — and it’s going to be harder to do it again,” he says.

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