Friday, March 23, 2012

Superhero Bits: Dark Knight Rises, Avengers, Ninja Turtles, Wonder Woman, Bane, Captain America

Superhero Bits: Dark Knight Rises, Avengers, Ninja Turtles, Wonder Woman, Bane, Captain America

Superhero Bits: Dark Knight Rises, Avengers, Ninja Turtles, Wonder Woman, Bane, Captain America

Posted: 23 Mar 2012 11:00 AM PDT

Want to cry while watching Captain America come home from war? What’s the latest on the Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark lawsuits? Does the original creator of Bane like the character’s look in The Dark Knight Rises? Which Fringe actor auditioned for Batman and would do it again? Did Conan O’Brien have anything to say about the Michael Bay/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles controversy? Read about all this and more in today’s Superhero Bits.

Buzzfeed ran this tear-inducing video of a military dad returning home dressed at Captain America.

The Hollywood Reporter has the latest on the Julie Taymor/Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark lawsuit.

Check out this image of Superman, Captain America and Nick Fury fighting stormtroopers. Thanks to Spectacularry (via Blastr).

EPIX HD has released a trailer for their upcoming Marvel Heroes Weekend leading into the release of The Avengers. Thanks to Comic Book Movie.

Graham Nolan, one of the co-creators of Bane in the Batman comic books, spoke to Cine Web Radio (via CBM) about his impressions of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. Here’s just one quote:

I like what I see so far. I understand the need to change certain things for a movie. The Batman costume of film is not that of the comics either. It’s more important to get the character right.

Converse is continuing their DC line of Chucks with Killer Croc and Wonder Woman. Head to CBM for full photos.

A new trailer for the new season of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes has come online. Thanks to Bleeding Cool.

Screencrave has come up with the top 10 cliches of superhero movie trailers.

Minimalist Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle art via Geekologie.

Continue Reading Superhero Bits >>

Due to the amount of graphics and images included in Superhero Bits, we have to split this post over TWO pages. Click the link above to continue to the second page of Superhero Bits.

Nicholas Braun Describes ‘Hit Somebody’ as Kevin Smith’s ‘Finest,’ More Details Revealed

Posted: 23 Mar 2012 10:30 AM PDT

Today brings two minor updates on Kevin Smith‘s Hit Somebody. The first is from Nicholas Braun, the actor who’ll eventually star in the film as a hockey enforcer who dreams of scoring just one goal. We spoke to Braun on the set of his latest movie, Dylan Kidd’s Get A Job, and he said the version of the script he read is Kevin Smith’s “finest” work and a “love letter to hockey” complete with flashbacks to the origins of the sport.

Also, Smith was recently on Sirius XM’s The Opie and Anthony Show and gave more information on a supporting character comedian Jim Norton will play in the film, a goalie based on hockey legend Glenn Hall. Read more after the jump.

On the set of Get a Job, in which Braun plays one of four friends struggling through post-college life, I asked him what the latest was on Hit Somebody and if he’d read the script. He said the following:

I read it when it was going to be two movies. So I read the first 150 pages of what he had. It was amazing. It was a beautiful piece of writing, wasn’t all funny. It’s like this hockey lore, this legend of hockey including flashbacks from when hockey was first invented. It’s kind of this love letter to hockey by Kevin, with this back drop of this Canadian farm boy turned hockey player except he’s terrible. And just beats the shit out of people. I can’t wait to get started. I’m not exactly sure when we’re going to start but I couldn’t believe it when I read it. I was like ‘Holy shit.’ It’s going to be Kevin’s finest, I think.

That statement leads one to believe Braun hasn’t read Smith’s latest work, which combines both parts into a hypothetically more economic version. There’s no word if that version will include the historical flashbacks Braun mentions or concentrate more on the story of his character, Buddy McKraken, but we’ll surely find out soon.

What will be in the film is a character based on Hall of Fame Goalkeeper Glenn Hall, a soft spoken man who never wore a mask and famously threw up before each game. Smith has stated for sometime that comedian Jim Norton would play the character in the film but recently added the character has three big scenes and is sprinkled throughout the rest of the movie as well. He also asked Norton to work on an almost Winnie The Pooh voice for the character.

Finally, though Braun wasn’t sure, Smith stated he hopes to start shooting by the end of the year. That should give him enough time to try and corral all of the people he’s said would be appearing in the film from Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, to Colin Hanks, Norton and the majority of the Red State cast.

Producer Offers Update On Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’

Posted: 23 Mar 2012 10:00 AM PDT

After a barrage of casting news followed by some very basic set photos, all’s been quiet on the Django Unchained front for some time now. That’s because writer/director Quentin Tarantino has been working hard with his amazing cast (Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, Don Johnson, Christoph Waltz, Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony LaPaglia) to complete the film, which is aimed at a December 25 release date.

So while we have yet to see or hear anything from the film, I asked the executive producer Michael Shamberg when that might change. We were on the set of his next film, Dylan Kidd’s Get A Job starring Miles Teller, Bryan Cranston and Anna Kendrick, and he obliged with a small update. Read his quote after the jump.

Here’s what Shamberg said when I asked when we may see some footage from Django Unchained:

I’ve seen some stuff and it’s amazing. We’re still shooting and my partner Stacey [Sher] is producing with Pilar Savone who worked for Quentin and Reggie Hudlin. I’m exec-producing and we’re like, maybe, half-way through. You have no idea. It’s the most amazing film cause, as you know, it’s a spaghetti western about slavery and Quentin’s vocabulary is such that it’s just pure entertainment, Leonardo’s the bad guy, it’s gonna be awesome.

That’s the basic lip-service a producer is going to give you on a film that’s still in production but Shamberg not only produced Pulp Fiction for Tarantino, he’s also did The Big Chill, Reality Bites, A Fish Called Wanda, Out of Sight, Contagion and many more. Not a bad track record. And it’s good to know they’re about half way done.

In the film Jamie Foxx plays Django, a slave freed by a bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). The pair team up to free Django's wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) who is held captive by plantation owner and slave runner Calvin Candie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

How much are you looking forward to Django Unchained? When do you think we might see some footage?

Juan Carlos Fresnadillo No Longer Directing ‘Bioshock’

Posted: 23 Mar 2012 09:01 AM PDT

The game BioShock was a massive hit when it was released in 2007. One of the better examples of world-building in gaming, the original title was set in Rapture, an underwater city built by an entrepreneur that wouldn’t e out of place in an Ayn Rand novel. But things had gone bad — power struggles and genetic tinkering destroyed Rapture’s hope for the future. The upshot, for us, is that the damaged Rapture turned out to be a darkly beautiful gaming playground.

Gore Verbinski was once set to direct a film version of BioShock for Universal, but he ended up vacating the director’s chair and staying on as producer. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, who directed Intacto and 28 Weeks Later, came on to direct, and as recently as a couple weeks back he was still talking in cautious terms about the movie. But now he says he’s off the project for good.

The Playlist caught up with the director as he was promoting his latest film, Intruders. He said,

To be honest, by now, I'm completely out of that, and developing other stuff… Right now it's on hold. The studio and the videogame company, they have to reach some kind of agreement about the budget and the rating.

In other words, Universal wants it to be cheaper and PG-13, while 2K games and the developers, led by Ken Levine, want something that is more true to the games, assuming they want the movie to happen at all. Verbinski said a while back that the movie had to be a hard R and that he and Universal were working with Fresnadillo to bring the budget down. But after the way things have gone with various studios and expensive genre projects in the past couple years, it isn’t difficult to imagine Universal being reluctant to pull the trigger on an expensive R-rated genre film, unless it has Tom Cruise in the lead.

Levine said last year,

…for us there's no burning [desire] to have a movie made just to get it made. For us and for Take-Two, it's really got to be something that will a) give the fans something that they want, and b) for those who don't know BioShock, really introduce them to something that is consistent with the game, and is it going to be a good representation of the game. There are differences between games and movies, no doubt, but the movie has to draw from the same DNA in terms of the world and the story beats. But you know, we don't have a need to get it made.

I’m with Levine. BioShock was incredible, and there’s no real reason for a film. Everything we need from Rapture is right there in the game.

Fresnadillo also recently moved on from directing the reboot of The Crow, though he is still possibly going to make an updated, revamped version of Highlander.

‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ Co-Financier MGM Calls the Film a Loss, Wants “Better Economics” For Sequels

Posted: 23 Mar 2012 08:30 AM PDT

John Carter isn’t the only write-down being talked about right now. While Disney’s recent release is a much bigger financial albatross, with the company being forced to call it a $200m loss, MGM now saying that David Fincher‘s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which it co-financed, hit below studio expectations and is “a modest loss.”

The studio wanted about 10% better returns on the picture, but the real takeaway here is what this effect this might have on further adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium novels. MGM has the option to co-finance the next two films and is interested in doing, so. But it wants “better economics,” which means cheaper films. And that could mean that David Fincher will not direct.

Deadline points to the recap of MGM’s recent earnings call, where MGM Holdings CEO Gary Barber said his company is talking to Sony about co-financing The Girl Who Played With Fire, “assuming we can achieve better economics.” We don’t know what that means, exactly, and it should be kept in mind that MGM’s outlay wasn’t as significant as Sony’s. But with co-financing being an important part of the financial makeup of the project, MGM’s reluctance to dive back into a thriller on the same scale as Dragon Tattoo is noteworthy.

We’ve wondered about David Fincher directing a second and possibly third film in the Millennium series, and when the original film went into development the plan was for Fincher to make the entire trilogy. That was the public plan, at least; I’m not sure how many people ever believed he would really make three Larsson adaptations.

Sony said in January that it does still plan to make the second movie, though it isn’t yet greenlit. At that point, Fincher’s participation still seemed far less than certain. He’s not a director used to working under severe financial cosntraints, and if MGM and Sony both want to reign in the spending on The Girl Who Played With Fire, don’t be surprised to see Fincher handing the director’s chair over to someone else and staying on as producer. From my perspective, that would be the preferred outcome, anyway, so he can move on to other projects.

The upshot to this report is that MGM also co-financed 21 Jump Street, and is calling that a win. There’s also the disclosure that MGM bought back United Artists last year, and “may resume using the United Artists banner to develop and produce new films.” (The full story of UA is a long and complicated one, but also a pretty interesting tale, as the banner started off as sort of an early cinematic model of the same plan used for Image Comics.)

The Best Deadly Competition Movies You Probably Haven’t Seen

Posted: 23 Mar 2012 08:00 AM PDT

This is the week The Hunger Games officially takes over the world. Try as we might to fight the system, we can’t escape – that is unless we kill every last one of you.

As I’m writing this I’ve yet to see HG, but I know I’ll dig it because the concept of deadly competition is one I find endlessly fascinating. How does one form allegiances with others when each party knows that there can ultimately be only one victor? I don’t know. It’s also why I don’t work in an office anymore.

There are a number of movies that deal with this topic, so let’s get cookin’ with this week’s TBMYPHS. Note: I’m not including The Running Man. You’ve seen it already, I hope. (I’m also not including Planet Hulk.)

Battle Royale (2000); Kinji Fukasaku, director.

Like I said, I haven’t seen HG yet and, despite downloading it to my Kindle a year ago, I haven’t read the book. (I’d like to lie and say it is because I’ve been waist-deep in the lesser known work of Dostoyevsky, but, honestly, I’m just very caught up in The New 52.)

Nevertheless I know enough about Katniss, Haymitch and District 12 to realize that, yeah, there seem to be a lot of similarities between it and this psychotic Japanese flick from 2000. There certainly are differences (every single website I read has written-up a "how The Hunger Games is different from Battle Royale” piece) but this is all beside the point. Battle Royale is a fun, little nasty bugger of a film with a young schoolgirls killing one another in surprising and alarming ways. When I first saw it I thought it was a tad exploitative toward women – then a feminist friend told me to relax. "You don’t understand," she said. "High School is combat for us."

You’ve certainly heard about the film, now is the time to actually see it.

Series 7: The Contenders (2001); Daniel Minahan, director.

Unlike The Hunger Games, which takes place in a dystopian future, Series 7: The Contenders is set very much in the here and now. Presented in the style of a packaged reality TV show, this flick about civilians picked at random to kill one another was a tiny bit ahead of its time when it came out. I recall there being resistance to seeing "a whole movie shot on video like that." That is hardly an issue now, so definitely hunt this one down.

Director Dan Minihan has since gone on to direct episodes of all your favorite HBO shows like Game of Thrones, Deadwood and True Blood, and was briefly in contention to direct Thor 2.

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969); Sydney Pollack, director.

Yowza yowza yowza! Get in line to see one of the most nihilistic, depressing tales ever put to celluloid! Be the first to witness man’s brutal inhumanity to man as greed and corruption debase good people into primal barbarians. Yowza yowza yowza! Popcorn, only 5 cents!

If you’ve watched the trailer and are still confused, TSH, DT? is about a group of desperate people taking part in an multi-day endurance "dance marathon." The scariest thing about this flick is that my grandfather, who survived the Depression, told me that he absolutely remembered things like this happening.

Movie-lovers bonus: this is one of the very few examples of a film being better than its book source material.

The Most Dangerous Game (1932); Irving Pichel and Ernest B. Schoedscack, directors.

First: the word “game” is a pun.

Second: If you should ever get shipwrecked and end up on an island with one lunatic who rambles on and on about hunting, you should probably get back in your trunks and swim on down the line.

This classic tale of “outdoor chess” has been parodied so many times you may think you’ve actually seen it – but maybe haven’t. I put the strange German teaser up top because I liked the narration, but you can watch the whole thing, legally, right here.

Continue Reading The Best Deadly Competition Movies You Probably Haven’t Seen >>

‘Friday the 13th’ Reboot Writers Plot High School Horror at Paramount

Posted: 23 Mar 2012 07:30 AM PDT

Briefly: Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, who wrote the Friday the 13th reboot as well as Freddy vs. Jason, have set up a new horror film at Paramount.

Details are pretty thin at this point, but the Mary Parent-produced film is reportedly set in a high school. The currently-untitled film will be directed by Shannon and Swift as well, making the film their directorial debut.

We don’t know the budget for this one, but Paramount has done very well with the low-budget Paranormal Activity series. Without this new horror having some sort of franchise appeal it seems unlikely that Paramount would commit significant resources to it, so perhaps we should be on the lookout for a found-footage high school film? (Please, no. Just make a horror movie, with no kooky camera conceit.)  [THR]

New ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ Promo Art Showcases The Lizard

Posted: 23 Mar 2012 07:00 AM PDT

For most of the past year, the only members of the public who had any real idea what to expect from the villain in Marc Webb‘s The Amazing Spider-Man were those in attendance at Sony’s panel at Comic Con last year, when the first footage of the Lizard was shown. Over the past couple months we’ve seen images of licensed products that showed a hint of the character, and the full-length trailer revealed quite a bit as well.

But the best look at the actual face of the character now comes via more merchandizing. In this case, a big poster shows us just what Marc Webb and his designers and effects team have cooked up as the post-transformation visage of the character played by Rhys Ifans.

This comes from Trends International and, as it turns out, looks almost exactly like that piece of concept art that showed up a while back:

The Amazing Spider-Man stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Denis Leary, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, and Sally Field. It opens July 3, 2012.

New Projects: ‘The Departed’ Screenwriter William Monahan Directing ‘Mojave,’ Catherine Hardwicke Making ‘Diamond’

Posted: 23 Mar 2012 06:00 AM PDT

Catherine Hardwicke, who made the first Twilight film a few years back, and followed that with Red Riding Hood, is looking back towards the indie circuit. She’s about to make Plush, a thriller with Evan Rachel Wood, and as a potential follow-up she’s developing a gangster film set in ’60s London.

The new film is called Diamond, but it hasn’t been fully scripted yet; Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse are writing, and we probably won’t see cameras roll on this before 2013. Hardwicke began her career as a production designer, so I’d like to see how she approaches visualizing ’60s London for this one. [ScreenDaily]

After the break, The Departed screenwriter and London Boulevard director William Monahan sets up his next directing gig.

William Monahan‘s directorial debut, London Boulevard, didn’t make very big waves as it slowly released around the world. Perhaps he’ll have better luck with his sophomore effort, which will likely be a film called Mojave.

Deadline says Monahan wrote the crime thriller, and is planning to shoot the movie in August. He’s bakced by Atlas Independent, a new arm of Atlas Entertainment, which is run by Charles Roven (The Dark Knight, Man of Steel). William Green is running Atlas Independent.

We don’t have any more info on Mojave at this point, but with that backing, Monahan could end up pulling together a noteworthy cast.

Hugh Dancy Will Be Will Graham in NBC’s ‘Hannibal’

Posted: 23 Mar 2012 05:00 AM PDT

I can’t really justify my curiosity about Hannibal, the NBC series that will act as a prequel to films like Manhunter and The Silence of the Lambs. (It will act as a new prequel, that is, since we’ve already had a feature film prequel called Hannibal Rising.) We’ve seen this story before. We’ve seen it done pretty well. There’s no real reason to have it told again, now, other than the fact that this sort of thing is popular on TV. And yet I’m curious to see what comes of it, and given that I’m probably not the only one, that curiosity is likely exactly why NBC is game to order the series.

We know that Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies) is writing and producing the show, which skipped the pilot stage and went straight to a thirteen-episode order. There is no casting for Hannibal ‘the Cannibal’ Lecter at this point, but now the show has cast Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, the FBI profiler who was played by William Peterson in Manhunter and Ed Norton in Red Dragon, the other film based on the book that spawned Manhunter.

You might know Hugh Dancy from The Big C, or recent films like Our Idiot Brother and/or Martha Marcy May Marlene. He’ll play Graham, and the series will chart the agent’s work and his attempt “to solve a series of murders and enlists the help of brilliant psychiatrist Dr. Lecter — unaware the good doctor is secretly a cannibalistic killer.” In other words… it’s the same story we’ve seen incarnated on screen before. But on a smaller screen. Dancy is a solid actor, so he doesn’t hurt.

Still, once again, I’m not quite sure why I’m even vaguely interested in this. I suppose in part it is that there’s enough of a legacy to the Lecter character and the major stories with which he’s associated that just knowing the guy is going to be back on screen provokes a certain response. And I’m also just curious to see how Fuller pulls this off… if he does. [EW]


‘Battleship’ Featurette Explains Goldilocks Planets and Why It’s a Bad Idea to Reach Out to Alien Life

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 05:00 PM PDT

Earlier this week at WonderCon, director Peter Berg revealed that he’d taken inspiration for his new movie Battleship from an unlikely source: Stephen Hawking. Berg had been watching a documentary in which the iconic scientist discussed Goldilocks planets, so called because their distance from the sun is “just right” for sustaining life. NASA has been trying to send signals to those planets in an attempt to discover extra-terrestial intelligence, but according to Berg, Hawking believes this to be a terrible idea because aliens knowing of our existence can do just as much damage as good. Berg then spun that idea into the plot of the film.

Which sounds pretty interesting, but unfortunately, most of the trailers we’ve seen so far haven’t gone into much detail about the sci-fi storyline. So far, they’ve shown us who the characters are and what it looks like when Berg tries his best to be Michael Bay, but we’ve had no sense of what exactly the aliens are doing here. Now a new featurette focuses on just that, explaining what exactly a Goldilocks planet is and how the crew of the USS John Paul Jones find themselves to be defending our planet from vicious otherworldly visitors. Watch it after the jump.

[via MovieWeb]

I think this is by far the most intriguing thing we’ve seen from Battleship so far. I’d love it if they actually explored the twist of the aliens being here because we called them over, rather than just using it as a flimsy excuse to get started on the big, expensive, explosive action pieces, but either way it’s a neat reversal of the typical alien-invasion story. Maybe Battleship won’t be a totally mindless Transformers wannabe after all.

Battleship hits May 18.


In Summer 2012, the battle for Earth begins at sea.

Peter Berg (Hancock, The Kingdom, Friday Night Lights) directs and produces Battleship, an epic-scale action-adventure that unfolds across the seas, in the skies and over land as our planet fights for survival against a superior force.

Battleship stars Taylor Kitsch as Lieutenant Alex Hopper, a naval weapons officer assigned to USS John Paul Jones; Alexander Skarsgård as Hopper’s older brother, Stone, Commanding Officer of USS Sampson; global music superstar Rihanna, making her motion-picture debut as Petty Officer Second Class Cora Raikes, Hopper’s crewmate and a weapons specialist on USS John Paul Jones; Brooklyn Decker as Sam Shane, Hopper’s fiancee and a physical therapist specializing in the rehabilitation of military combat veterans; Tadanobu Asano, as Captain Yugi Nagata, Commanding Officer of the Japanese destroyer Myoko and Hopper’s archrival; and Liam Neeson as Hopper and Stone’s superior (and Sam’s father), Admiral Shane, Commander of the Pacific Fleet.

Supporting the cast are Hamish Linklater as Cal Zapata, a scientist who mans the international satellite station in Hawaii that searches the skies for signs of life; Jesse Plemons as Jimmy “Ordy” Ord, a boatswain aboard USS John Paul Jones; New Zealander John Tui as the ship’s engine room expert, Chief Petty Officer Walter “The Beast” Lynch; and, in his professional acting debut, U.S. Army Colonel Gregory D. Gadson, a battalion leader who lost both legs in Iraq in 2007. Gardson plays Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales, an Army combat veteran and double amputee who begins his recovery just as the alien attack begins.

Other ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Co-Creator Says Michael Bay’s Take is “Awesome”

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 04:30 PM PDT

At the start of this week, Michael Bay pissed off Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lovers everywhere by revealing that the new Turtles film, which he’s producing, will see the central characters reimagined as aliens rather than mutants. Predictably, a firestorm ensued, and even more predictably, Bay responded to the the outrage by stating that “fans need to take a breath, and chill.”

“Our team is working closely with one of the original creators of Ninja Turtles to help expand and give a more complex back story,” he assured them. That “original creator” is Kevin Eastman, and Eastman’s now making it known that he is indeed behind Bay’s vision 100%. Read his comments after the jump.

Comic Book Movie picked up the statement from Eastman:

Hey Guys, Sorry to have been away for so long–completely swamped with work–but it is some pretty exciting stuff. I had been invited to check out the TMNT film development by my friend Scott Mednick over the years, and a while back had a full look behind the curtian at what writers [Josh] Appelbaum and [AndreNemec, director [JonathanLiebesman, and producer Bay are doing–and trust me–it IS AWESOME. I’m officially on board, and will share more as I’m allowed… thanks all!

Eastman’s enthusiasm is a far cry from the ambivalence expressed by his co-creator Peter Laird, but even Laird has been advising folks to “wait and see what might come out of this seemingly ill-conceived plan” before getting all up in arms. “It's possible that with enough truly creative brainpower applied to this idea, it might actually work,” he wrote on his blog. ”I'm not saying it's probable, or even somewhat likely… but it IS possible.”

Somehow, I doubt that even Eastman’s endorsement will smooth over the controversy entirely. But with one creator wholeheartedly supporting the “turtles as aliens” idea, and the other asserting that we should at least give it a chance, maybe it really is time we took Bay’s advice to relax, at least for right now.

Watch a Rare Banned Disney Behind the Scenes Documentary Called ‘The Sweatbox’

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 04:00 PM PDT

Disney is a prolific company with its name on a great many successes, and it likes to hide its missteps and failures. The process of doing so sometimes helps those mistakes become things of legend. Song of the South, with its politically incorrect and racist portrayals of certain characters, is likely the most famous example. Another example might be The Sweatbox, a very rarely-seen documentary about the failed making of an animated film called Kingdom of the Sun, which eventually morphed into The Emperor’s New Groove. (Pictured above.)

The Sweatbox filmmakers John-Paul Davidson and Trudie Styler were given unprecedented access to Disney’s process and the resulting film painted the executives in such a negative light, they more or less made sure the film would never been seen in public.

Until now. For a little while at least. After the jump, you can watch the rarely seen 2002 documentary The Sweatbox.

Here’s the film, for the time being.

LaughingSquid alerted us to the video and link to this description of the film from Mouse We’ve mentioned the film before, and you can find some more info via Jim Hill.

In 1997, musical performer and composer Sting was asked by the Walt Disney Company to write the music for a new animated feature called Kingdom of the Sun. It was to be directed by Roger Allers who was basking in the success of his work on The Lion King.

When Walt Disney set up his studio in Burbank, there was a screening room with no air conditioning, causing the animators to sweat while their rough work was being critiqued. The room became known as the Sweatbox and it became the name used for the process of reviewing the animation as it developed…

The two executives did come across as nerdy bullies who really didn't seem to know what was going on when it came to animation and were unnecessarily hurtful and full of politically correct speech. They looked like the kids in high school that jocks gave a "wedgie" to on a daily basis. How much of that impression was due to editing and how much was a remarkable truthful glimpse is up to the viewer to decide…

Following a tense, brutal sweatbox screening for executives Schumacher and Schneider…the original story, which was a sort of a version of the well-known "Prince and the Pauper" story, is torn apart. Director Allers quits. Sting's songs are suddenly out of key in a movie that is now going to be changed into a raucous comedy…

The documentary includes the animators' initial research trips to Peru, rough sketches, long discussions of color palate and backgrounds, completed animation that was later totally discarded, intense story meetings, Eartha Kitt's voice recording and glimpses of Sting's songwriting process. The first 40 minutes or so document the great detail and effort in putting together Kingdom of the Sun. The remainder of the documentary showcases the breakneck rush to complete the film when it becomes The Emperor's New Groove. The difference in quality is jarring.

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Michael K. Williams Will Play Rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard In ‘Dirty White Boy’

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 03:30 PM PDT

In the realm of films about iconic deceased rappers, Dirty White Boy has to take the cake. It’s the story of how Wu-Tang Clan co-founder Ol’ Dirty Bastard, aka Russell Jones, was partially conned into letting an unproven VH1 production assistant named Jarred Weisfeld manage him while the rapper was in jail. The move paid off, sparking an unlikely comeback, before ODB passed away due to a drug overdose at the age of 35.

ODB’s story has been one several filmmakers and even his friends have been trying to get to the big screen but it seems this relationship was the hook that’ll get it in cinemas first. First-time director Joaquin Baca-Asay will helm Dirty White Boy and he’s already cast the lead: none other than The Wire and Boardwalk Empire‘s Michael K. Williams. The script is the first ever by Brent Hoff, an acquaintance of the pair. Read more after the jump.

Entertainment Weekly first broke the news of this casting and film. And though this wil be Baca-Asay’s first directing gig, he’s an experienced cinematographer whose worked on We Own the Night, Roger Dodger and even Jay-Z’s video 99 Problems.

Dirty White Boy will be produced by the team behind recent Oscar-winner Beginners, Lars Knudsen and Jay Van Hoy, who said the following in a news release:

We both knew full well who Ol' Dirty Bastard was but this story completely floored us. As filmmakers, we knew that this would make a great film and that Jarred Weisfeld would offer an actor a complicated and compelling character to play. This felt to us like Risky Business and 8 Mile, with equal elements of darkness, humor, and humanity.

Another producer, Todd Hagopian, added the following about Williams and the rest of the team:

We are thrilled to have the genius of Joaquin Baca-Asay behind the camera, directing this incredibly original screenplay by Brent Hoff. I know Michael K. Williams will leave audiences completely in awe as Russell Jones, the man behind the character 'Ol' Dirty Bastard.'

ODB’s cousin and fellow Wu-Tang Clan founder Raekwon has reportedly been writing another film about the deceased rapper with Tracy Morgan and Eddie Griffin hoping to play the role. Each of them would certainly bring to life ODB’s charisma, but Williams is simply a grand-slam casting coup.

Do you think the Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s life will make a compelling film? Does Williams have what it takes? Can this film be a hit?

‘The Host’ Teaser Trailer

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 03:00 PM PDT

Author Stephenie Meyer is obviously best known for writing the Twilight books, but she also wrote a best-seller not filled with vampires, werewolves and teen lust. It’s called The Host and the film version, directed by Andrew Niccol, has just released its first teaser trailer. Starring Saoirse Ronan, The Host is about one woman’s struggle in world where aliens have fused themselves with the majority of humans to create an ideal society.  It’ll be released March 29, 2013 and you can check out the teaser after the jump.

Thanks to Yahoo Movies for the trailer.

Quite a tease, but I do love how the possessed eyes stay in one position. Here’s the plot description of The Host:

Melanie Stryder [is] one of the last humans putting up a fight against an alien species called Souls. These parasites invade human bodies, fuse to each person's consciousness and systematically erase their personalities. Melanie is captured by the aliens and implanted by a Soul called Wanderer, something of a legend because of all of the "hosts" she has attached to on numerous planets. Wanderer's goal is to get Melanie to give up the remaining pockets of humans, but instead the alien finds Melanie to be unique in her unwillingness to surrender her consciousness. Wanderer is so overwhelmed by Melanie's memories and feelings, the alien is driven to reconnect with Melanie's old life.

The cast includes Ronan, Max IronsJake AbelWilliam Hurt and Diane Kruger.

Niccol has made some great movies in the past though his last film, In Time, was most definitely a misstep. He co-wrote this screenplay with Meyer so you’d have to think his thoughts and her story have likely created a pretty strong basis for a film. I do think, though, Open Road should try and not market this strictly to the Twilight crowd. The premise seems to be something more hardcore sci-fi people could get into as well as that younger audience.

What did you think of the teaser?

Sequel Bits: Men in Black 3, The Muppets 2, Catching Fire, Wrath of the Titans, Hangover III, 300 Sequel

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 02:30 PM PDT

Music, release dates, expanded roles, clips and interviews. It’s all in this edition of Sequel Bits. After the jump read about:

  • Pitbull, not Will Smith, will be doing the theme song to Men in Black III. A nation weeps.
  • Liam Hemsworth talks about how his expanded role in The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire, didn’t change this performance plus Expendables 2.
  • A new clip has been released from Wrath of the Titans featuring Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes.
  • Kermit the Frog and Walter discuss Jason Segel‘s departure from The Muppets 2.
  • Warner Bros. gives official Summer 2013 release dates to The Hangover Part III and 300: Battle of Artemisia.

Despite all the hubbub surrounding production woes on Barry Sonnenfeld‘s Men in Black 3 starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin, many of us took solace in hope that we’d at least get a new Will Smith theme song such as we did with Men in Black and Wild Wild West. (YouTube embeds there. You’re welcome). However, it seems the world’s biggest movie star is too busy shooting After Earth to do that and instead, popular hip hop artist Pitbull will do the song. It’s called Back in Time (not to be confused with Back in Time from Back to the Future) and will be released next week, March 26. Read a comment from Pitbull and more over at Superhero Hype.

Those of you who see The Hunger Games this weekend might be confused about how little Liam Hemsworth, who plays Gale, is in the film. It’s all set up for an expanded role in the second and third films, Catching Fire and Mocking Jay. However, he told, all of what happens to Gale later was not on his mind in this movie. He also discusses some Expendables 2 at the link:

I read all of the books before shooting, and then I'd just stick one thing in my head – I'd just keep the script in my head, the first thing we were shooting at that point. And I don't try to think too far ahead at that point; obviously, there are things that you may need to take into account, but for me, the first book and the first movie are very similar, so they kind of became the same thing anyway. But I'd just focus on the script and turn up on set every day and be as present and honest as I can be.

Yahoo Movies has posted the first clip from Wrath of the Titans which hits theaters next Friday. It has to at least be better than Clash, right? Anyone?

MTV spoke with Kermit the Frog and Walter about Jason Segel‘s choice to not return for a Muppets sequel. No news here, but it’s a fun interview nonetheless.

Finally, Warner Bros. has changed up their Summer 2013 release schedule. Pacific Rim has moved from May 10 to July 12 to make room for The Hangover Part III, which will now officially open May 24, 2013. Also dated is 300: Battle of Artemisia which may, or may not, end up being the title of the sequel to 300. That’ll be released August 2, 2013.

Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘Pacific Rim’ Moved From May To July 2013

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 02:00 PM PDT

As good as the summer of 2012 could potentially be for blockbuster movies, 2013 is looking even better. Films such as Iron Man 3, Star Trek 2, The Hangover Part 3, Fast & Furious 6 and Man of Steel just scratch the surface of films we know will have built in, mega-audiences and expectations. One huge wildcard on the schedule though is Guillermo Del Toro‘s robot-infused alien invasion film Pacific Rim.

Warner Bros. is showing extreme confidence in the film, moving it from an slot in early May to the more crowded month of July. It’ll now open on July 12, 2013, with competition such as Robopocalypse, Grown Ups 2 and The Wolverine.

Del Toro has been in production on Pacific Rim for some months now so, hopefully, we’ll learn something new about it soon. For now, check out our previous coverage. Thanks to Box Office Mojo for the info.

Unused ‘Akira’ Storyboards Blended Iconic Images With New Twists

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 01:30 PM PDT

Most fans of Katsuhiro Otomo‘s 1988 animated masterpiece Akira never wanted a live action remake to happen. But Warner Bros., the studio who holds the rights, has been pushing the issue for about five years. Almost every single prominent actors in his late-twenties or early-thirties was floated as possibly playing the star of the film, Kaneda, and several directors have been attached too. The most recent being Jaume Collet-Serra who almost got the film in front of cameras – he had even auditioned and cast some roles – before the studio pulled the plug on the film for what feels like the 10th time.

A live action Akira may still happen but, for now, it just lives in that weird limbo of films that got close but never made it. Which just means, for years to come, we’ll hopefully be rewarded with glimpses at pre-production work hinting at what could have been.

The first instance of that has now been revealed: unused storyboards from one of the film’s earliest incarnations. They show imagery that’s both directly from the original film (and graphic novels) as well as a few twists that are very unlike the source material. Check it out below.

Thanks to IO9 for posting these revealing images. We’ll discuss them after the jump.

Akira Storyboards 2 Akira Storyboards 1

As you can see at the top of each page, these storyboards were drawn by concept artist Sylvain Despretz when the film was in the hands of director Ruairi Robinson around 2008. He was off the film about a year later, the first of many times Akira was pronounced dead.

From the first board, you see the destruction of the city portrayed in almost identical fashion to the original film. The second board, however – the one with many more frames – shows a Caucasian Kaneda with a bike that seems more street legal and realistic than the original film. Would these choices eventually have made it into the movie? We’ll never know. But you do see how Robinson was trying to take the familiar Akira iconography and mold it to the modern world.

Superhero Bits: The Avengers, Dark Knight Rises, Iron Man 3, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Amazing Spider-Man

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 12:30 PM PDT

Want to see the new IMAX commercial for The Avengers? How about a bunch of book covers for The Dark Knight Rises? What does Darth Vader look like dressed at Batman?  Has Stan Lee learned about his Iron Man 3 cameo yet? Does Batman‘s Batarang really work? What’s the latest update on the Incredible Hulk TV show? How many Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did it take to set a Guinness World Record? Read about all of this and more in today’s Superhero Bits.

No new footage, but this Avengers IMAX commercial is still exciting. Thanks to Marvel.

Superhero Hype posted a bunch of information on the Avengers colognes and perfumes that are about to hit shelves.

This promo image for Sony’s NEX camera reveals a new look at The Amazing Spider-Man, via Comic Book Movie. It’s not from the movie, persay, just an idea of what the camera can do.

This custom action figure by Mint Condition Customs, Darth Knight, sold for $64. Seems like a steal. Head to Geekologie for more images.

Happy Place (via NPR Tumblr) did a very funny article featuring “17 comic book covers were Superman is a complete sociopath.” Not to outdo them, iO9 has an article called 10 Times Batman Acted Like An Absolute Lunatic.

Gamma Squad has a huge gallery of their favorite WonderCon cosplay from last weekend including the above female Justice League.

Bleeding Cool now not only has the ComiXology iPad app updated to HD, but the Marvel app has now too. There’s more at the site.

Cool piece of fan art by Deviant Artist Enymy called The Knights. Thanks to Geek Tyrant.

Stan Lee spoke to Collider about what it’s like doing cameos on the big Marvel movies, such as the upcoming Iron Man 3:

I haven't done that cameo yet. It's almost scary 'cause they just give me a date. They'll say, "Stan, come over next Thursday for your cameo," but they don't tell me what it is. So, I show up and they say, "Go to wardrobe." In wardrobe, they say, "We want to get you a white shirt and a green sweater and a black zippered jacket," and I'll say, "Don't bother, I'm wearing one." And then, they say, "But, you can't wear yours!," and they look around and get me the exact same thing, but I'm not allowed to wear my own. And I still don't know what my role will be. I go on the set and one minute before we're gonna shoot, the director says, "Okay, Stan, this is what I want you to do." So, I don't know what is expected of me, until I get there, but of course, I do it magnificently.

DC Nation – Batarang Test by shikinatural93

Promoting their new DC Nation series on Cartoon Network, they tested out if a Batarang really could work. And it does…in destroying stuff. Am I the only one who thought the Batarang was supposed to return like a boomarang, hence the “arang?” Thanks to Daily Motion (via Nerd Bastards) for the heads up.

Continue Reading Superhero Bits >>

Due to the amount of graphics and images included in Superhero Bits, we have to split this post over THREE pages. Click the link above to continue to the second page of Superhero Bits.

Is This Our First Look at Guillermo Del Toro’s Hatbox Ghost from ‘Haunted Mansion’?

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 12:00 PM PDT

Update: Disney blogger InsideTheMagic informs us that: “That sculpt has been around for years. It has nothing to do with the film. It was inspired by HBG but isn’t related to del Toro. Here’s a commercially-available version of that sculpt. Nothing new. (Still cool though…)” Original post follows.

At Comic Con 2010, Guillermo del Toro surprised the crowd at the Disney panel in Hall H by announcing that he would be producing (and probably directing) a new big screen adaptation of the classic Disneyland attraction The Haunted Mansion.  The center of his plan is the reintroduction of the Hatbox Ghost, a character that appeared originally in The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland but was removed shortly after the attraction’s debut.

Illusion Industries has been creating concept designs for del Toro’s Haunted Mansion, and AICN found an image on their website which looks very much like a reimagining of the Hatbox Ghost. Hit the jump to check it out.

As Harry notes, this could be one of several things:

A sculptor at Illusion Industries could have just been a fan of Disneyland’s HAUNTED MANSION and of Bernie Wrightson and just did this because he knew that it must be sculpted by him because the world would destroy itself if it didn’t happen.   It could be that Guillermo has asked a selection of companies to bid via creating a HATBOX GHOST and he’ll decide which companies work on it based upon their interpretation.

It sure looks creepy — I really hope this project happens. Del Toro called the Hatbox Ghost "one of the scariest" images created for the ride, but a character which he also considers "incredibly whimsical."

“There's a legend that it was discarded on the first day of the ride's operation because it was too scary,” said del Toro. “I like that legend, but the reality is that the imagineers could not make the illusion work, so they took it out."

Here is a bit of history on the character from wikipedia:

Because The Hatbox Ghost featured prominently in artwork and narration for popular Haunted Mansion record albums sold for many years at Disney parks, and because Disney continues to market the ghost’s image, he has never been forgotten and has become somewhat of a legend, complete with cult following. Many fans of the ride wish to see him returned and have gone so far as to circulate petitions calling for the figure’s restoration.

Last we heard, The Haunted Mansion was being written by del Toro and Mimic/Don't Be Afraid of the Dark remake scribe Matthew Robbins. Del toro said he wanted to make a scary movie in live-action 3D, set in “a heightened reality, which is super designed, incredibly innovative, narratively and visually.” It would not be a comedy, and he would attempt to make “the Haunted Mansion the most haunted place on Earth” and “doing it by being true to the spirit and the art and the aesthetic of the original Imagineers that created the mansion.”


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