Thursday, January 14, 2010

News - 01/14/10...

Animator, with 8 Kids, Loses Home in Fire

Kayla Stewart in front of her burned-out home. The caption from the Spokesman-Review says that Stewart is wearing her mother’s thirty-year-old coat.

Veteran feature animator Chad Stewart (Cats Don’t Dance, The Pagemaster, Surf’s Up, Open Season, The Polar Express, Fantasia/2000, Tarzan, The Emperor’s New Groove) lost his home in an electrical fire last Sunday while his family was attending church. The Spokesman-Review has the sad details. What makes the situation particularly tragic is that Chad and his wife, Kayla, have eight kids—four birth daughters and four adopted biological brothers from Liberia. A friend of Chad tells me that, “After sixteen years working the studios down in LA, Chad wanted to spend more time with his family and made the move to Washington, where he began freelancing full-time.” The family is currently looking for a nearby home to rent and acquire replacement clothing and furnishings while they rebuild their burned-out home.

A charitable fund has been established and donations can be sent to either of these two places to help the Stewarts get back on their feet:

Northview Bible Church
13521 N. Mill Road
Spokane, WA 99208


Chase Bank
12120 N. Division St.
Spokane, WA 99218

(Thanks cartoon brew)

No Way!: Disney Exec on Fantastic Mr. Fox’s Oscar Chances

“It’s not even a contest,” was the response an unnamed Disney exec gave the NY Times when asked to comment on Fantastic Mr. Fox’s Oscar chances against Up. Despite the swagger that some Disney folks apparently have, the Times warns that Disney and Pixar shouldn’t break out the bubbly just yet:

In a mid-December surprise, both the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association named “Fantastic Mr. Fox” the best animated movie of 2009. Similar awards from five other critics’ groups followed.

Fantastic Mr. Fox and Up are both nominated for this weekend’s Golden Globe Award, along with Coraline, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Princess and the Frog. Since initiating a Best Animated Feature Film category in 2007, the Golden Globes have given the award to Pixar every year (Cars, Ratatouille, WALL•E). We’ll find out in a few days whether Pixar can make it four-in-a-row at the Globes.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Zoic Studios Adds Editorial Services

Visual effects company Zoic Studios has opened a new division called Zoic Editorial that will provide editorial, creative and technical services for projects of all types.

The project is headed up by senior editor Dmitri Gueer, who has been with Zoic since its founding, and has experience in commercial editorial, visual effects editorial and promotions.

While at Zoic, Gueer has improved the standard editorial pipeline, adding what he calls a “binning” system that provides tapeless delivery of VFX shots to clients via Avid or Final Cut Pro media files. He also improved the visual effects editorial pipeline.

Zoic Editorial will combine editorial and VFX production for projects, improving the lines of communication with clients and crew at all elvels.

Gueer is dedicated to making Zoic Editorial a go-to name in the entertainment industry. "I'm extremely passionate about editing,” he says. “Clients love that I care so deeply about their projects — and that's the best compliment I can receive.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Actors in Talks for Zemeckis’ Yellow Submarine Remake

Robert Zemeckis is close to finding his Fab Four.

Actors Cary Elwes, Dean Lennox Kelly, Peter Serafinowicz and Adam Campbell are in talks to play the members of The Beatles in Zemeckis’ 3D, CGI, motion-capture remake of the 1968 animated feature Yellow Submarine, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Zemeckis wrote the screeplay for the film, and is producing along with his Imagemovers Digital partners Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey.

The movie will use original Beatles music, so the actors will not be performing new versions of any of their music. The report has Elwes playing George Harrison, Kelly as John Lennon, Serafinowicz as Paul McCartney and Campbell as Ringo Starr.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Exodus Films Starts Animated TV Division

Exodus Film Group has launched a new television animation division and appointed world-renowned illusionist Nicholas Night to head it up.

Night, whose title will be VP of television animation, will oversee development and production of all projects within the division and will report to president of consumer products and television Bruce Auerbach.

Night will begin by concentrating on Exodus’ core brands, The Hero of Color City, Bunyan and Babe and Igor, as well as new properties, Auerbach said.

He comes to Exodus with broad experience in the entertainment industry, having worked as animator and game designer in addition to performing.

"I am thrilled to be working with Exodus to develop and create exceptional animated television properties, drawing from their wonderful films and characters, as well as from completely original concepts,” Night said. “As a creator of both interactive and traditional media properties, plus my years of experience in the performing arts, I believe I can help Exodus create a slate of truly unique and groundbreaking shows that can flourish across all distribution platforms. I look forward to working with their incredibly creative production team as we embark on this exciting new opportunity.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Nick Internship Ranks Among Nation’s 10 Best

Nickelodeon Animation Studios has been named one of the 10 best internships for college students in the United States by

The website cited the studio’s offering of in-depth, hands-on work experience in a wide variety of jobs and departments, from animation production to finance, development, CGI, human resources and business and legal affairs.

"Our goal at Nickelodeon Animation Studios has always been to remain leaders in the industry, whether its producing a number-one rated show or running a top 10 internship program," said Ashley Morley, internship coordinator, and Josilin Torrano, recruiter. “We are thrilled that our internship program has been recognized for its success in offering students classes with executives, opportunities to take animation skills tests, and much more – all resulting in a 1 in 3 chance at being hired. And, we are both examples of the programs success, having been former interns ourselves."

Nick takes between 10 and 30 interns for academic credit and no pay. Internships run 8 to 16 weeks, 16 to 30 hours a week in the spring, summer and fall semesters. The studio’s internships are open to sophomores, juniors and seniors, with ongoing applications.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Digital Domain Adds Four to New Vancouver Studio

Digital Domain has named four visual effects veterans to the management team of its just-opened Vancouver facility.

The company has hired Troy Brooks as studio manager, Arin Finger as studio producer, Tim Belsher as pipeline supervisor and veteran Digital Domain staffer Darren Poe as digital supervisor.

The studio is already at work, having already begun to contribute to the studio’s visual effects work for Disney’s Tron Legacy and set to start soon on Marvel’s Thor.

“This core team provides an extraordinary foundation of talent, experience and leadership, and Troy’s background was particularly invaluable to launching this studio,” says Cliff Plumer, CEO of Digital Domain.

Brooks is a Canada native who joins Digital Domain with over eighteen years of experience in animation and visual effects. Most recently as co-founder and CEO of PipelineFX, Brooks oversaw technology development and strategy for the company and provided consulting to film studios on pipeline workflow.

Finger has over a dozen feature film credits and held various roles on projects including A Christmas Carol, Night at the Museum, Sin City and Hellboy. Belsher was a computer graphics supervisor on District 9 and also worked on War of the Worlds, Poseidon and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Poe is a thirteen-year veteran of Digital Domain and served as digital effects supervisor on Roland Emmerich’s 2012 and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

AICN Anime - An Animatic Preview of Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic

On February 9th, Anchor Bay will be releasing Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic on Blu-ray and DVD. The anthology, with work from and Production IG (Kill Bill animated sequence), Dongwoo (Batman: Gotham Knight), Manglobe (Ergo Proxy, Samurai Champloo), JM Animation (“Avatar: The Last Airbender”), tie-ins to EA's upcoming Divine Comedy inspired action-adventure game.

AICN has been fortunately enough to get a look at the several animatic story reels used to develop the work, which you can see HERE.

Warner Home Video Releases New Details, Images From "The Spectre" Animated Short

Warner Home Video has provided new images and details from the upcoming The Spectre animated short, the initial entry in the all-new "DC Showcase" series of animation shorts. The animated short will be included on the upcoming Blu-ray and Two-Disc Special Edition DVD releases of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.

New images and the following press details on the upcoming The Spectre animated short, the initial entry in the all-new "DC Showcase" series of animation shorts, available below, are provided by Warner Home Video and Warner Bros. Animation. Click on the thumbnails featured for a closer look at each image.

From the creative forces behind the PG-13 "DC Universe Animated Original Movie" line, "DC Showcase" puts the spotlight on favorite characters from throughout the annals of DC Comics in fascinating, short-form tales sure to entertain longtime and new fans alike.

The Spectre focuses on a detective story with an ethereal twist, featuring the otherworldly character originally introduced by DC Comics in 1940. The short is written by Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) and directed by Joaquim Dos Santos (G.I Joe: Resolute). The voice cast is led by Gary Cole (Entourage) as the title character and Alyssa Milano (Charmed) as Aimee Brenner.

The Spectre will be distributed February 23 by Warner Home Video as part of the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Blu-ray/DVD.

"DC Showcase" is a co-production from Warner Premiere, Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Home Video and DC Comics. Bruce Timm is Executive Producer. Future "DC Showcase" titles include Jonah Hex (written by Joe Lansdale).

The inaugural “DC Showcase” animated short The Spectre will be included on the upcoming Blu-ray and Two-Disc Special Edition DVD releases of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. A co-production of Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation, the direct-to-video Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths animated feature debuts February 23rd, 2010 on home video.

Pryor Delivers Alien For Christmas

Today, I’m putting my final 3 holiday cards in the mail, so thereby it’s still “Christmastime.” I stumbled onto Dave Pryor’s Flash-animated film, which he produced a few years back, but has only arrived online this season. It’s titled Alien For Christmas, and it’s set to Fountains of Wayne ’s song I Want An Alien For Christmas.

SuperNews Hits the Gym

In this new clip from Supernews!, Gorgon the Awkward Alien aims his nebula-destroying powers at the ab-crunch machine. Supernews! airs on Current TV on Thursdays 11/10c.

Elastic Helps the Crosstour Gear Up For Snow

New Honda Accord Crosstour ads keep popping up all over that TV gadget in my living room. Crazy contraption! Just like the one we featured back in November of ‘09, this one was produced by Elastic, with help from a52. RPA was the ad agency on this new spot titled Snow Trip.

Madrid Invaded by Timono Animators

Three talented Spanish artists have launched a new production company – Timono. While the animation here is minimal, this stylish short displays their excellent illustration skills.

Planktoon Launches Reindeer Commandos for Canalsat

This new spot for the French TV service Canalsat is short but really beautifully executed. The team behind the holiday-themed ad, titled The Reindeer Commandos Return, was Paris-based Planktoon. The agency on the gig was Euro RSCG.

Creator Reed, Actress Tyler Talk Archer

Adam Reed has jumped from the Adult Swim ship to FX Networks, but the content will be reassuringly familiar in terms of humor to fans of his previous shows, Frisky Dingo and Sealab 2021.

Archer debuts tonight at 10 p.m. on the FX with two back-to-back episodes. The series follows the adventures of Sterling Archer, voiced by H. Jon Benjamin, who works for the spy agency ISIS.

Among his unusual cohorts are Jessica Walter of Arrested Development fame as his domineering mother and boss Mallory Archer; Aisha Tyler as his ex-girlfriend and current co-worker, Agent Lana Kane; George Coe as his aging-but-loyal butler, Woodhouse; Chris Parnell as ISIS comptroller and Lana’s new love interest, Cyril Figgis; Judy Greer as Mallory’s lovesick secretary, Cheryl; and Amber Nash as Pam, the director of human resources for ISIS.

Reed says he came up with the idea for the series while on an extended vacation in Spain. But Archer is not your usual spy and he’s a far cry from either James Bond or Maxwell Smart.

“I didn’t want to do the bumbling spy who gets it right accidentally, but also thought it was important that Archer not win all the time,” says Reed, who wrote and directed the voice actors for the first four episodes. “I thought if he won all the time, then you wouldn’t root for him. So rather than make him stupid and bumbling, we decided that the only way to have him fail was he’d need to get in his own way and fail 90 percent of the time due to selfishness.”

That leads to some pretty strange and funny stories that definitely push the envelope of propriety as Archer and everyone around each uses international crises as an excuse to lie, cheat, steal and indulge their every whim. An early episode makes fun of everything from torture to masturbation — and it’s finding the limits of how far it can go that’s part of the fun of making the show, Reed says.

Tyler, a comic and actress who did a voice on The Boondocks and has appeared on such series as Friends and CSI, says she was a big fan of Sealab 2021 and jumped at the chance to be on the show. “I’m a fan girl,” she says. “I grew up collecting graphic novels and comic books, and I love animation.”

Her character is a tough as nails and super deadly spy who “looks like a backup singer for Danity Kane.” While there’s some resemblance between them, Tyler says she’s not as alike her character as people seem to think.

“I will say that I’m particularly uniquely suited to play Lana in that I am obsessed with video games and action movies and things of this nature,” she says. “There’s this scene when Archer and Lana have to fight their way out of the yacht and they’re in their underpants and they’re both firing automatic weapons — that’s a childhood dream of mine. … Some girls put a T-shirt on their head and dream about their wedding; I held up a hairbrush and thought about shooting my way out of a $7 million yacht in my underpants. These are the dreams that I had as a girl and I’m living them out on this show.”

Reed says he likes working in animation because it’s more flexible and a lot less boring than hanging around a live-action set all day long. “I think (people) cut animation some slack and I think you can get away a little more with violence because it’s a little more divorced from reality,” he says. “For example, Lana shoots Archer in about half the episodes and by the next episode he’s fine, whereas in live action you’d have to spend a three-episode arc dealing with the character’s physical therapy and surgeries.”

Reed and Tyler both said that while the finished scripts are very funny and well structured, the fast production process — three weeks from finished script to final mix with character designs that borrow heavily from photographs of actors — gives them plenty of freedom to play around in the recording booth.

“Though the scripts are very funny when we get them and they are very well defined, there is a good amount of back and forth and play in the booth and then they go animate that,” says Tyler. “It gives these guys incredible comedic flexibility to say, ‘Well, this was funny when we did it this way in the booth and we’re going to animate to that rather than what we said we were going to do when we wrote the script.’”

Archer debuts tonight, Jan. 14, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Why ABC's not giving up on V and FlashForward. Yet.


Fans of ABC's sci-fi series FlashForward and V have been concerned both with the network's decision to delay both shows' spring returns until March and with whether the network continues to have confidence in them, but ABC Entertainment Group President Stephen McPherson assured reporters on Tuesday that he has a clear plan for building both shows' audiences, with two different strategies.

In a press conference at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif., McPherson said he decided it was important to air FlashForward with no repeats, following the network's strategy for Lost's later seasons.

For V, he clarified that the plan was always to tell the story in chapters, but that the first chapter got shortened to only four episodes because of production issues.

"The original [1984-'85] V was two minis and then a series," McPherson said in a group interview later. "The two minis did incredibly well, and the series did not do as well. Now there was a huge creative change between those two, but I think as long as you market them appropriately, I do think the audience is willing to come in for chapters."

McPherson brought in producer Scott Rosenbaum to join the V creative team. "Scott has really got a vision for what that needs to be," McPherson said. "Those shows are always about 'How do you balance character with concept?' Obviously, it's a huge concept, but I think we were getting away early on, and the reason we put a stop to things is we were getting away from having a real character drive throughout. It was just literally burning through concept story, and I think he has a real sense of how this can have chapters, what each of those chapters will be, much the way Lost has been, certainly, in the past few years. They look at a season and they say, 'Here's the beginning, middle and end of the season.' Maybe they'll learn something from that and bring their own thing to it."


Last week, FlashForward co-creator and executive producer David Goyer told reporters that he had already pitched the network a second-season storyline for the show, and on Tuesday McPherson confirmed that he has high hopes for the show to persevere and return next season.

"[Its prospects are] really good," McPherson said. "We love the show. David's been fantastic. He was talking about season two when he pitched the show. He's had such a kind of long-term vision for it. That was one of the things that made us comfortable about it. So we're excited to be able to air consecutive episodes. I think as much as taking the break has its downside, I think the ability to really take a beat after this fall launch, adjust some things, make some changes and move forward is great."

Genre fans may not entirely trust ABC after it quickly wrapped up Life on Mars and buried Defying Gravity in the summer. With low ratings, the network canceled Gravity even before it reached a conclusion. At least McPherson promised he won't make the same mistakes with V and FlashForward.

Defying Gravity

"Defying Gravity was an acquisition that we made, and we liked it, too," he explained. "It was also a really good business for us, because it was a low-cost production. I think the summer is tough in general. We're going to be doing more scripted this summer, and I think we have to use the end of the season as part of the summer in terms of launching. I think you can't end your season, have all these big finales and then be like, 'We'll be back in a couple weeks with the summer.' I think we really have to make that one smooth transition. They were lost in the end in that kind of lull."

Would he have given Gravity a fall slot if he could do it all over? "That had to do with the entire business plan around it, so we couldn't have done anything else with that show, but we look at everything when they don't work," he said.

FlashForward returns March 18. McPherson said he is still figuring out whether V will return on March 16 or March 23.

Do you believe ABC will stick with these shows or bury them?

We know when the Star Trek writers will finally start

Star Trek director J.J. Abrams may have been vague about the details of the follow-up movie, which has a release date of June 2012, but co-writer Damon Lindelof confirmed that he and co-writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman will begin drafting the new screenplay in the spring.

"We're going to start probably in April once the writing on Lost is done," said Lindelof—who co-created and executive-produces the ABC show—in a group interview Tuesday in Pasadena, Calif. "Trek will come out in 2012 some point, so we've still got a little bit of time, but we've been talking about it. We just haven't been writing."

It's unclear when production would begin.

Cowboys and Aliens

Meanwhile, another Lindelof project—a movie adaptation of the comic series Cowboys & Aliens—lost its star, Robert Downey Jr., according to Lindelof had not heard the news as of Tuesday, but said there's still reason to be excited about the Jon Favreau-directed film.

"Oh, is that official?" Lindelof said. "I've not been officially briefed on any of the casting. I am but a writer, but all I can say is if Favreau did it once with Downey [in the Iron Man movies], I'd be looking forward to see who he's going to make a star this time."

Cowboys & Aliens is expected to begin production in June for a June 24, 2011 release. The next Star Trek movie is scheduled for June 29, 2012.

Lost returns Feb. 2 with a two-hour premiere, starting at 9 p.m. ET/PT, and will air Tuesdays at 9.

Original Ghostbusters director back for III?

If you're going to make a third installment in the Ghostbusters movie franchise, who you gonna call?

Original director Ivan Reitman, who confirmed to that he will return to direct the sequel (he's already a producer on the movie):

Asked if he would be returning to direct "Ghostbusters III," Reitman answered with a simple and unequivocal "Yes."

We think this is good news for Reitman, whose last directorial outings were the horrible My Super Ex-Girlfriend and the horribler Evolution. Lately, he's more famous for being the father of Up in the Air and Juno director Jason Reitman.

Here's more from MTV:

A few weeks ago, "Ghostbusters" writer and star Harold Ramis revealed that the long-awaited third movie in the series is planned for a 2011 release. This news broke only a short time after "Avatar" star Sigourney Weaver speculated that Bill Murray's character Pete Venkman might appear in the movie as a slimer ghost, and that Oscar, her character's son from the second movie, would be a full-fledged Ghostbuster.

Ivan Reitman, director and producer of the first two movies, stopped to chat with MTV's Josh Horowitz last night on the National Board of Review red carpet in New York City. He shied away from addressing Weaver's spoiler-y speculation, but he did have some things to say about the general state of development for
"Ghostbusters III."

Reitman said that the script from
"Year One" writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky is in and that a second draft is currently in the works.

He added that he hopes to begin shooting sometime this year.

So, yay. Next step: Getting the band back together. Dan Aykroyd, Murray, Weaver, Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Rick Moranis ...

What would bring 24's Kiefer Sutherland back for season 9?

As Fox's 24 gets ready to begin another day—the eighth season in the hit spy-fi series—producers and star Kiefer Sutherland are leaving open the possibility that the show could come back for another season.

"If I were to come back and do a ninth season—which is something that [executive producer] Howard [Gordon] and I have talked about at length—about bringing the show back to a much smaller situation like we had in year one," Sutherland said in a group interview this week in Pasadena, Calif., as part of the Television Critics Association winter press tour. "In year one there was no bomb. There was no real threat. It was literally trying to protect the [potential] president of the United States and then protect his family. It was literally that small. It lends itself more to a thriller genre than maybe more of an action genre. That was something that interested both of us. So it would be a choice like that which would bring us back."

Sutherland says if he came back, it wouldn't be for the money. "In all fairness, 24 has been so great for me that for me to come back, it would not be a financial decision," he said. "I'm in really good shape. They've taken care of me really well. In all fairness, the same for season eight. I didn't need to come back. I wanted to. I've loved making this show."

In an earlier press conference, Sutherland explained that the show's producers are still hard at work on season eight. In every year of the show, no plans for a new season have ever come before the current season finished.

"Because the task of doing it is so great, that literally from the very first season on, we completed that season and it was really Fox's decision to pick us up," Sutherland said in news conference. "There's never been one specific season that next season was guaranteed or insured. This has been one of the greatest gifts of my life, the ability to do 24. For me, it is something that is absolutely open. I've always said that as long as people wanted us to make it, people were really interested in watching it, I would be interested. There are a lot of components involved. The task of writing it is far greater than the task of acting in it, but certainly it's always open. To continue on doing it, right now my focus is finishing season eight."

Gordon himself added to the hope for a ninth season by hinting that the writers have already started formulating possible ideas. "I will say there's the intellectual, emotional and creative curiosity," Gordon said. "The writers sit around and in the margins of the time when we're not working on season eight, we do ask ourselves what if? So it's certainly a possibility."

24 premieres with a two-night, four-hour event starting Jan. 17 at 9 p.m. on Fox.

The Burning Questions Spider-Man Fans Want Answered... Soon!

"Spider-Man 4" is dead. Long live the new "Spider-Man" movie franchise!

Okay, so maybe popular sentiment isn't quite that positive regarding the recent news that Sony will reboot the "Spider-Man" franchise in 2012 with a new movie, director and star. But why should it be?

While reports from the "Spider-Man 4" front have included no small amount of obstacles to production, yesterday's announcement still came as a surprise to most fans. And now many of the Spider-Man faithful are left wondering what's in store for Peter Parker and his surrounding cast — and more importantly, whether his big-screen future is in good hands.

With that in mind, here are the five burning questions the studio should answer soon (either directly or by way of "Spider-Man" movie news) if they're hoping to keep fans excited about the wall-crawler's future in theaters.

Without Sam Raimi, Does Sony "Get" Spider-Man?
Much has been made of the faults of "Spider-Man 3," but various reports indicate that the films followed the path of most blockbuster franchises with regard to the balance of control between director and studio. In fact, Raimi's made no secret of his belief that many of the third film's flaws resulted from his diminishing lack of creative control with each successive film. Now, with Raimi out of the picture and the studio in full control of the franchise, fans will likely found out soon whether Raimi really was the last, best defense against another "Spider-Man" movie with dance numbers and an overloaded roster of villains.

When You Imagine Peter Parker, What Do You See?
One of the biggest questions on fans' minds right now is who will play Peter Parker when the next "Spider-Man" hits theaters. The studio has indicated that the new franchise will kick off with a teenage Parker battling the dual threat of high-school troubles and superhuman danger, leaving much of the character's fanbase wondering if the last film's dance number was an early indicator of what the studio would like to see from Peter Parker. The studio's choice of actor could go a long way toward calming those fears — or widen the divide between franchise and fan even further.

Are We Any Closer To Spider-Man Teaming Up With Iron Man?
While such a team-up is unlikely given the separation of Sony and Marvel Studios' character rights, a reboot of the franchise does seem like an ideal opportunity to revisit the notion of crossovers. Previously, the combination of Spider-Man's established movie continuity and Marvel's intense planning for a sync'ed up "Avengers" movie made such a crossover impossible. However, the last few years of Marvel movies have proven how easy it is to cross-pollinate characters across projects of different size, tone, cast and crew. Want to earn some instant goodwill from comics fans? Have Tony Stark speak at Peter Parker's school. You get that one free, Sony — the next one's going to cost you.

What About The Spin-Offs?
One of the main concerns fans had about a potential "Venom" solo film was the character's less-than-stellar debut in "Spider-Man 3." Now that the franchise that spawned the sinister symbiote has been junked, does that make a "Venom" movie more or less likely to happen?

Five Reasons To Look Forward To A 'Spider-Man' Reboot

Whether you're over the moon or down in the dumps about the news, the fact of the matter is Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire are no longer a part of the "Spider-Man" franchise.

Sony's decision to pursue the superhero series without Raimi and Maguire hasn't gone without some backlash, but the course is set regardless of how downtrodden some members of the fan community may be. But there's no use dwelling on the past when it can't be changed. Instead, lets look towards something less tangible but no less exciting — opportunity.

No matter what the future holds for the "Spider-Man" series, here are five aspects about the property's relaunch that we're excited for.

While Tobey Maguire will be missed, it's exciting to think about the identity of Spidey's next performer. Casting Peter Parker is one of the single most important elements to the new series, and while we've already suggested a few names, it's likely that the role could go to an unknown actor. Without a doubt, the search for the next webhead is one of the most fascinating components of the reboot — let's just hope that the chosen actor isn't a universally panned pick.

With the possible exception of Batman, Spider-Man's own rogues gallery is populated by some of the most compelling villains in mainstream comics. We've already seen some great bad guys in the forms of Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Sandman and Venom, but there are so many more to choose from. Be it Electro, Kraven or someone else entirely, one thing is clear — the villainous choices are truly endless.

I'm a big supporter of Sam Raimi's and would have loved to see him tackle Spider-Man one more time, but I'm equally ready to embrace an entirely new director. Whether the franchise ends up in the hands of a big name like James Cameron or a more intimate choice such as Marc Webb, Sony has to understand that selecting the proper filmmaker is just as important as casting the new Peter Parker.

One of the weaker points of the "Spider-Man" movies, at least in my opinion, was the forgettable score. Sure, it was serviceable, but ultimately the music wasn't very memorable when compared to the theme songs associated with the 1960s and 1990s animated series. Could the new Spidey series herald new iconic music? It's too early to say, but I've certainly got my fingers crossed.

James Vanderbilt is already working on the new film's script, so offering specific suggestions might not be helpful at this point. Even so, the reboot means that Spider-Man can go in any number of new directions, all of which are completely free of the first trilogy's continuity. That's a pretty exciting prospect considering the tremendous wealth of comic book stories that Vanderbilt has to draw from.

'Thor' Roundup: Fat Suits And Praise As The Cast Reports From The Set

Following the first day of filming on director Kenneth Branagh’s long awaited “Thor” adaptation, several of the cast members are already enthusiastically talking about their experiences on the set. Ray Stevenson was particularly boisterous when speaking about his role as Volstagg — the powerful and rather obese member of the Warriors Three — during the premiere for “The Book of Eli”

“Oh, I've got a huge fat suit, I'm going to be shedding a lot of pounds in that thing,” said Stevenson during an interview with “It's just great fun and Kenneth Branagh is fantastic!” Stevenson also spoke at length about the mythology and tone of the movie.

“It's basically the ‘Thor’ comic book.,” related Stevenson. “It's definitely the Marvel comic book. The origins of the Norse legends. What is actually behind the Norse legends is what's explored in the Marvel comic book. The existence of Asgard and the Nine Realms. It's more in the high realms of intergalactic space and planets. It's very exciting!”

“[It’s] epic,” continued Stevenson. “There are visits to Earth as well, with the wonderful Stellan Skarsgard and Natalie Portman. But the presence of gods, or the previous presence of gods... It's a great, great film. The sort of film you want to see as a kid. You come out [saying] 'Oh my god, flight of fantasy here we go!' It's that escapism again, and Marvel and Disney are putting their weight behind it; putting a lot of money behind it. It's the first day of filming. It couldn't be more exciting.”

Stevenson also spoke about his previous experience working with Branagh during the film “The Theory of Flight” in 1998.

“I loved [working with him] then,” recalled Stevenson. “I got the call out of the blue for [‘Thor’] and was completely blown away by it and just jumped at the chance to work with him again. And I'm so pleased that I did!”

Elsewhere on the internet, actress Jaimie Alexander — who has spoken out extensively about her experiences during the “Thor” rehearsals singled out Stevenson in a post on Twitter.

“Ray Stevenson is the best thing since sliced bread. Having a jolly good time here in Asgard!”

Alexander also mentioned that she met “Iron Man 2” director Jon Favreau on the set and described him as a "freakin' bad ass."

Kat Dennings also posted a brief update about her first day of shooting.

"First day of filming and I'm already staggering around my hotel room shirtless and dazed like a homeless man"

“Thor” is scheduled to be released on May 6, 2011.

SPIDER-MAN Reboot Already Written; Film to be “Gritty, Contemporary”

More details have arisen regarding today’s massive news that Sony would be scrapping Spider-Man 4, kicking out Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire, et al., and rebooting the series. EW reports that Sony wants “a more gritty, contemporary redo of the series,” and are focused on younger, up-and-coming directors. I’m going to try and be optimistic and not take that to mean Sony wants someone who can make a good film, but more importantly won’t have enough weight to push any independent artistic decisions.

EW also reports that Sony was always aiming to reboot the series in 2012 no matter what, but they did want one last outing with Raimi, Maguire, and co. This means that Sony just pushed up the timetable on setting up a crappy precedent where they don’t have to use over forty years of material from the comics, but can just keep redoing the series to suit the demographic with the most purchasing power at the time. That’s why when Sony means Peter Parker is going back to high-school, it means they’re skewing towards the Twilight crowd because they know the fanboys will nut up, take it, and then complain about it after they’ve already paid x-amount of dollars to see it (most likely in 3D; Sony hasn’t announced that for this new movie, but it’s a safe assumption they’ll jump on that bandwagon as well).

Variety explains that Sony must continue to actively develop the Spider-Man franchise or else the rights revert back to Disney/Marvel. Knowing that along with their intended 2012 reboot, it should come as no surprise that James Vanderbilt’s (Zodiac) script for the new film is already written. The story of the teenaged Peter Parker is now in preproduction with the announcement of the new director and star expected in the coming weeks. I wish there were a way to measure the groans/outrage from fanboys when the young, unknown actor to be the new web-slinger is announced.

There’s very little hope to be found in this reboot mess, and I’m trying to movie myself to indifference and focus on projects that I may end up enjoying. Maybe if they get a strong director on board or a young star who has real acting talent, I may not be as depressed writing about this new Spider-Man, but it’s hard to muster up any enthusiasm at such a rancid business move that cynically chooses to ignore the potential for better stories in order to water down the one we already saw and enjoyed.

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