« Michael J. Fox and The 700 Club. | Main | Ron Howard Fights Back »

April 18, 2009

Newsbites: The fantasy edition!

1. It has been public knowledge for years now that the studios behind the film version of The Hobbit want to make it a two-movie series that will connect in some way to Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) -- but there has been much speculation as to what sort of two-movie series it will be. Will one movie be devoted to The Hobbit proper, followed by another movie that "bridges" the gap between the two stories? Or will The Hobbit itself be spread out over the two films? Jackson and Hobbit director Guillermo Del Toro have now announced their decision, and the answer is: the second option. Says Del Toro: "We’ve decided to have The Hobbit span the two movies, including the White Council and the comings and goings of Gandalf to Dol Guldur." Adds Jackson: "We decided it would be a mistake to try to cram everything into one movie . . . The essential brief was to do The Hobbit, and it allows us to make The Hobbit in a little more style, if you like, of the trilogy." -- Empire

2. Speaking of The Lord of the Rings, each film in that series was released to DVD three times: once in its shorter theatrical version, once in its longer "extended" version, and once in a format that included both versions. Now it is time for the trilogy to come out on Blu-Ray -- and apparently the series will go back to square one, with a shorter-version-only edition; the "extended" versions will not come out on Blu-Ray until closer to the Hobbit release date. -- High-Def Digest, Digital Bits

3. 20th Century Fox has revealed that it will release three films in 3D in 2010. They have not yet said which films they have in mind, but one of their biggest movies that year will be The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, so some of the online speculation has pointed in that direction. -- CinemaBlend.com, NarniaWeb

4. Rhys Ifans has joined the cast of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Meanwhile, producer David Heyman has confirmed that some of the actors who began this series as prepubescent children will look more grown up than they have ever looked before in the final film. (Let the reader understand.) -- ComingSoon.net, MTV Movies Blog

5. Emma Thompson may have skipped the last Harry Potter movie in order to make a sequel to Nanny McPhee (2005), but she's bringing some of her fellow Potter alumni -- such as Ifans, Maggie Smith and Ralph Fiennes -- along for the ride. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Asa Butterfield have also joined the cast of Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, which will take place during World War II, several decades after the previous film. -- Variety, ComingSoon.net

6. Michael Sheen, who is perhaps best-known for playing Tony Blair in The Deal (2003) and The Queen (2006), has been cast as a vampire in The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which recently began shooting in Vancouver. Prior to this, Sheen had played a werewolf in the Underworld series (2003-2009). There is no word yet on who will direct Eclipse, the next film in the Twilight franchise, but Drew Barrymore recently stated that she is no longer in the running for that job. -- Variety, ComingSoon.net, Entertainment Weekly, MTV Movies Blog (x2)

7. Catherine Keener has joined the cast of Percy Jackson; she will play the title character's mother. His father, the Greek god Poseidon, is being played by Kevin McKidd. -- Hollywood Reporter

8. Watchmen co-writer Alex Tse is working on an adaptation of the graphic novel Battling Boy, which concerns "the son of a god who comes down from the top of a mountain at his father's urging to rid the giant, continent-sized city of Monstropolis of a plague of beasts." -- Hollywood Reporter

9. The sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) will be based on a spec script that is, in turn, "based on the fantasy conceit that the literary tales 'Gulliver's Travels,' 'Treasure Island' and [Jules] Verne's own 'Mysterious Island' all occurred on the same island." -- Variety, Hollywood Reporter

10. Twenty-five years ago, Brian Grazer produced Splash (1984), the story of a mermaid who falls in love with a human being. (It was also the first Tom Hanks movie to be directed by Ron Howard; they have since done Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons together as well.) Now, Grazer has picked up a script called Merman, which "follows a merman who comes to land so he can win back his mermaid fiancee, who has left him for a real man." And no, it's not a sequel. -- Variety

11. Catherine Hardwicke, whose last film was the original Twilight (2008), now has at least two more fantasies on her plate: Maximum Ride, based on the James Patterson series about "six teens, known as the Flock, who are genetically altered so that they are part human and part bird"; and If I Stay, based on Gayle Forman's novel about "a gifted classical musician and her indie rockstar boyfriend who's forced to choose between life and death when she's in a car accident with her family." -- Hollywood Reporter, Variety

Related Tags: battling boy, chronicles of narnia, eclipse, harry potter, hobbit, if i stay, journey to the center of the earth, lord of the rings, maximum ride, merman, nanny mcphee, new moon, percy jackson, twilight, voyage of the dawn treader