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March 11, 2009

Newsbites: The comics and cartoons edition!

1. Steven Spielberg has just finished a month or so of motion-capture photography on The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn. Peter Jackson and his team will spend the next 18 months on the digital animation and special effects -- but Spielberg will receive the sole directorial credit. It has long been reported that Jackson will direct the next film in what is expected to be a three-part series, but as of right now, there is no script or budget lined up for the next installment. -- Variety

2. Thanks to the recession, less theatres have installed digital projectors capable of showing 3-D movies than was expected even a year ago, and the first big victim of this slowdown will be Monsters Vs. Aliens, which opens March 27. A year ago, DreamWorks Animation said it expected there to be 5,000 screens capable of showing digital 3-D movies by the time the film came out, but last week, they admitted there would only be "in excess of 2,000". Another 4,000 screens or more will show the film in regular 2-D. -- The Wrap

3. Fox is developing a movie based on the comic strip Marmaduke, which concerns "a mischievous Great Dane". It is unknown at this point whether the film will be animated, live-action, or a combination of the two like Fox's previous Garfield (2004-2006) and Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007-2009) adaptations. -- Hollywood Reporter

4. Green Lantern producer Donald De Line says the film will focus on "the Hal Jordan origin story," and the actor playing the titular superhero will probably be "late '20s, early '30s" -- and not as young as Anton Yelchin, the 20-year-old who was rumoured to be up for the part last week. -- ComingSoon.net

5. George Miller says he is "still attached" to the Justice League movie that was almost made last year, but Warner is taking its cue from Marvel now and wants to give each superhero his or her own movie series before bringing them all together as a super-team. Given how long it can take to develop a single franchise, let alone to make a sequel or a threequel, is it safe to say that, by the time any future Justice League movie gets made, the actors would not be as ridiculously young as the actors that Miller was considering last year? -- MTV Splash Page

6. Transformers star Megan Fox is in talks to play the "gun-wielding beauty" Leila in Jonah Hex, an adaptation of the DC comic that will also star Josh Brolin and John Malkovich. Fox is also attached to star in an adaptation of Fathom, a comic about "a young woman named Aspen who learns she is a member of a race of aquatic humanoids who possess the ability to control water." -- Hollywood Reporter, Variety

7. Kenneth Branagh was recently spotted having lunch with Alexander Skarsgård, leading fans to speculate that the son of Stellan Skarsgård might be in the running for a part -- maybe even the lead? -- in Branagh's Thor. -- Latino Review

8. Nicolas Cage says Ghost Rider 2, which is currently in the very, very early stages of development, should "go deeper" into the "action horror element". -- MTV Splash Page

9. Fox is reportedly thinking of rebooting the Fantastic Four (2005-2007) franchise and taking it in a "less bubble gum" direction. -- IESB.net

10. Disney has moved the nationwide release date for The Princess and the Frog up from Christmas Day to December 11, to get the film out of the way of Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel. The film, which marks Disney's return to hand-drawn animation, will also open in New York and Los Angeles exclusively on November 25. -- Variety

11. DreamWorks Animation has bought the rights to Chris Gall's Dinotrux, which "takes place in a fictional prehistoric age, when the world was ruled by . . . creatures that were part trucks, part dinosaurs". The studio plans to develop it as a CG-animated feature. -- Variety

12. Fox has bought the rights to Mr. Popper's Penguins, a children's book that won the Newbery Award in 1939. It concerns a house painter who manages a stage act consisting of 12 performing penguins. -- Variety

Related Tags: dinotrux, fantastic four, fathom, ghost rider, green lantern, jonah hex, justice league, marmaduke, monsters vs aliens, mr popper's penguins, princess and the frog, thor, tintin


Re: bite #9. I think it would be great to have a Fantastic Four film that's worth the time and money. I do think it's sad, though, that the perceived way to do this is to take it in a more severe direction. It's worth noting (I think) that the recent good superhero films that have been dark and serious, like The Dark Knight and Ironman, have both been based on comics that are themselves dark and serious. I believe the reason George Clooney's infamous go at Batman failed to spectacularly was because the writer and director tried to make the film off of Adam West's Batman, which is really in a class of its own (and yes, is on my DVD shelf, two rows down from Batman Begins). My point is, that film tried to make the Batman franchise into something it inherently isn't, or at least wasn't at the time, and that seems to me the reason it failed.

Unfortunately, good movies based on lighter superheros have been very hard to come by. The only purely fun comic book movie I can think of that's also quality work is Mystery Men, which shares space with the Marx Brothers on my list of best comedies. The Fantastic Four would probably do well with some help from the Spider-Man people, because they pulled off films combining the serious and the silly very, very well.

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