Archive | December, 2010

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Favreau Talks IRON MAN Departure

Posted on 15 December 2010 by Rich Drees

In the aftermath of yesterday’s news that he was leaving Marvel Studios’ billion dollar Iron Man franchise, director Jon Favreau talked with the LA Times to dispel much of the speculation as to why he was stepping down from the director’s chair.

As the news of Favreau’s departure spread yesterday, so too did speculation as to the reasons why he might be doing so. Recent interview statements where he talked about how he doesn’t quite understand how to reconcile the crossover nature of Iron Man’s technology-based hero with Marvel’s other superhero films given the studio’s plan to have them all co-exist within the same cinematic reality. An alternate theory was that as Favreau continued to get more hit films under his belt, the price for his services may be getting hire than what Marvel is willing to pay.

But Favreau dismissed such talk, stating that he was moving on in order to tackle a new project that he says “lights a fire” inside of him as a filmmaker and will give him a chance to “blow people away, which is easier to do with a project that isn’t loaded with built-in expectations.”

The new project is the previously reported Magic Kingdom, which the LA Times described as “a family fantasy adventure that will tap into the vintage Disney creations that ‘loomed so large in the imagination’ of [Favreau’s] generation.” Even while still finishing off the post-production of his upcoming Cowboys & Aliens, due next summer, Favreau has already begun the research for the new project.

Favreau insists that the parting is aimicable, and given that Magic Kingdom is going to be produced for Disney, who owns Marvel Studios there is no reason to doubt him. As he told the Times

Marvel and I both came of age together… The years that we shared were a pivotal experience. Kevin [Feige, Marvel Studio’s head honcho] has a firm grasp on the many franchises and how they all interweave and I am happy that I had the opportunity to establish the world that these characters can now play in…. Iron Man has given me tremendous opportunities and Kevin and I are enjoying a lot of momentum in our careers thanks to the Iron Man films. I look forward to seeing what others can do playing in the same world.

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Favreau Not Returning For IRON MAN 3

Posted on 14 December 2010 by Rich Drees

Director Jon Favreau, who launched Marvel Studios growing superhero franchise with the blockbuster Iron Man and its sequel Iron Man 2, will not be back for a third installment. He will be continuing his executive producer duties on Marvel’s The Avengers.

The news was confirmed earlier this afternoon by Deadline after being initially reported by Vulture.

No reason for the departure were given, though a few educated guesses could be made. Favreau is currently wrapping up Cowboys & Aliens for release next summer and will next be going on to do Magic Kingdom for Disney, which would probably conflict with Marvel Studios’ plans to get Iron Man 3 into theaters for May 3, 2013.

Also, with the success if the two Iron Man films coupled with the possibility of Cowboys & Aliens being another hit for the director, Favreau’s directing fee is very probably rising for each new project he takes on. He reportedly was given a $10 million paycheck and for Iron Man 3, he would probably would have been asking $12 to $15 million with up to 15% of the movie’s box office take. This would be in addition to whatever Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr is getting from his participation in the film’s gross. Given Marvel’s, shall we say pusillanimous, nature, it is very probable that Favreau has priced himself right out of what they would be willing to pay.

But there is a third possibility, and one that has been lurking in the background for some time – a growing unease with how to approach the cinematic world that he had helped to create. When a director was being sought for Marvel’s The Avengers, which would feature Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk and Thor all sharing an adventure, many fans thought that Favreau would be the perfect candidate for the position. But the director deferred, stating he wasn’t sure how to merge the magical reality of Thor with the more technological reality of Iron Man and the others. Favreau expounded on that just last week when talking to MTV -

In theory, Iron Man 3 is going to be a sequel or continuation of Thor, Hulk, Captain America and Avengers… This whole world… I have no idea what it is. I don’t think they do either, from conversations I’ve had with those guys.

So now we are left with Marvel having to find themselves a director who will step into Favreau’s shoes, no tall order as star Downey has contractual approval over anyone who may up for the job. Marvel has no script and will need to find themselves someone soon to oversee the production if they’re going to get Iron Man 3 in front of cameras by 2012 in order to make their May 2013 release.

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The 2010 Black List Is Here

Posted on 13 December 2010 by Rich Drees

Politics, power and corruption dominated the top 10 of this year’s Black List released today, with four chosen titles directly relating to politics and one other with possible political undertones.

Compiled by polling 300 development executives and high-level assistants, The Black List is a list of the hottest and most like screenplays that have been circulating in Hollywood over the past 12 months. The scripts could be currently in production, optioned by a studio or are still looking for a sale. The only stipulation is that any film made from a potential Black List script cannot be released in 2010. For example, Margin Call, number seven on the list, is completed but won’t be premiering until next month at Sundance.

Heading off this year’s list is Wes Jones’s College Republicans, a script based on real events which tells the story of “aspiring politician Karl Rove [who] runs a dirty campaign for national College Republicans chairman under the guidance of Lee Atwater, his campaign manager.” The FBI’s 1980 investigation into Congressional corruption known as Abscam is the subject of American Bullshit, while Argo recreates the real-life CIA operation that “used a fake movie project to smuggle hostages out of Tehran during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.” Jackie, the number two script on the list, looks at Jackie Kennedy in the week following JFK’s assignation. The last 24 hours of collapsed financial giant Lehman Brothers is charted in Margin Call.

Although some have speculated that with the List’s rise in prominence since it first was published in 2005 there has come a similar rise in voters trying to promote scripts that they have business ties to. While it may be true that there is some of that going on, past results show that those screenplays that make the list are generally the cream of the crop. Last year’s Black List (topper/no 1? was) The Social Network, which many critics have already named the best film of this year.

For those of you following along year after year, the 2010 installment of the Black List will yield some familiar names. Danny Strong, who topped 2007’s list for his 2000 election drama Recount, is back with The Butler, the true story of White House butler Eugene Allen, who served eight United States presidents from 1952 to 1986. The list isn’t restricted to just up-and-coming writers, either with such strong scripters as Brian Helgeland (LA Confidential), Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci (Star Trek) and Rian Johnson (Brick) all having spots on the list.

Special note should be made of Dan Fogelman, who scored two spots on this year’s list for his drama Imagine, about a man who wonders tries to live his life differently after reading an old letter he received from John Lennon and Crazy, Stupid Love about a man whose ideal life is shattered when he discovers that his wife has cheated on him and wants a divorce.

While most of the loglines describing the scripts seem interesting, there are a few duds that stand out. Hunger Games (“In an America of the future, young boys and girls are forced to participate in a televised battle to the death.”) sounds like a riff on the modern Japanese classic Battle Royale, while One Day (“Dexter and Emma meet for the first time at college graduation in 1988 and proceed to reunite one day a year for the next 20 years.”) recalls Neil Simon’s Same Time, Next Year. Anyone who has ever seen the classic MASH episode “Tuttle” may find that the synopsis for Ricky Stanicky (“For years, three lifelong friends have used an invented character named Ricky Stanicky to get out of sticky situations. When their wives demand a meeting with Ricky, the friends hire an actor to portray him.”) rings a little familiar.

The following is the 2010 Black list’s Top Ten. You can download the complete Black List here.

1.      College Republicans by Wes Jones (49 Votes) – Based on true events. Aspiring politician Karl Rove runs a dirty campaign for national College Republicans chairman under the guidance of Lee Atwater, his campaign manager.

2.      Jackie by Noah Oppenheim (47 Votes) – Jackie Kennedy fights to define her husband’s legacy in the seven days immediately following his assassination.

3.      All You Need Is Kill by Dante Harper (45 Votes) – A new recruit in a war against aliens finds himself caught in a time loop where he wakes up one day in the past after having been killed on the battlefield.

4.      Safe House by David Guggenheim (43 Votes) – A young man at a CIA-run safe house in Rio de Janeiro must help a rough ex-agent escape assassins who want intelligence that he won’t sell them.

5.      Stoker by Wentworth Miller (39 Votes) – After the death of her father, a teenager must deal with a mysterious uncle who returns to spend time with the family.

6.      999 by Matt Cook (32 Votes) – A gang of crooked cops plans a major heist that will require them to shoot a fellow officer in order to get away with it.

7.      Margin Call by J.C. Chandor (31 votes) – Based on true events, the final 24 hours of Lehman Brothers

8.      American Bullshit by Eric Warren Singer (30 votes) – The true story of Abscam, the FBI’s 1980 undercover sting operation of Congress to root out corruption, which was the brainchild of the world’s greatest con man.

9.      Argo by Chris Terrio (28 Votes) – The true story of how the CIA, with help from Hollywood, used a fake movie project to smuggle hostages out of Tehran during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.

10.  The Last Son of Isaac Lemay by Greg Johnson (24 votes) – An aging outlaw convinced that there is evil in his genes goes on a journey to kill his offspring. In the process, he discovers that his last remaining son is a terrifying manifestation of his worst fears.

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Fifteen Make The Oscar Visual Effects Short List

Posted on 13 December 2010 by Rich Drees

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have announced this year’s short list of films eligible to be nominated for the Best Visual Effects Academy Awards. This is just the first step towards earning a spot of the list of five nominees that will be voted on for the Oscar. From these 15, seven titles will be chosen in the next round of eliminations. At this point members of the Academy’s visual effects branch will watch 15 minute highlight reels from each of those films to choose the five official nominees which will be announced on January 25.

The eligible films are -

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • Clash of the Titans
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • Hereafter
  • Inception
  • Iron Man 2
  • The Last Airbender
  • Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  • Scott Pilgrim vs the World
  • Shutter Island
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
  • TRON: Legacy
  • Unstoppable

So how will this process shake out? There are a few titles that will definitely not make it out of this first round – Clash Of The Titans, Percy Jackson and The Last Airbender most definitely. Iron Man 2, Prince Of Persia and Unstoppable may pass on to the group of seven, but I don’t see all of them making it to the final five. Inception, Scott Pilgrim and TRON: Legacy all seem like sure bets to me, leaving the rest as wild cards. Since there is no clear cut leader in the field this year like last year’s Avatar, it should be interesting to see who things play out.

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Marvel Studio’s Kevin Feige Talks THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA, AVENGERS And Future

Posted on 13 December 2010 by Rich Drees

On Friday, Marvel Studios honcho Kevin Feige held a webchat through the LA Times Hero Complex blog, in which he beat the promotional drum for next summer’s Thor (“Thor is our first step into [the cosmic Marvel Universe] and from there, anything’s possible”) and Captain America: The First Avenger (“an epic, period adventure”) releases as well as answered numerous questions about what Marvel has in store for their super-hero team-up film The Avengers in 2012 and beyond.

Feige reconfirmed some of the superhero films that will be making their way to cinemas in the next couple of years. In response to a FilmBuffRich (Now who could that be?) who asked, “After Avengers we know you’re looking at Iron Man 3, The Runaways and possibly Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man. Anything else you care to share?” Feige responded, “ Those 4 films are gonna take up the next three years of my life! But don’t worry, we’re always working on more.” As to what those more may be, Feige hinted that Marvel Comics characters the likes of Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, Black Panther, Luke Cage, Moonknight, Power Pack and the Punisher were in various stages of development over the course of the hour.

Since the chat jumped back and forth through a number of topics, we’ve organized all his responses below by category.

Thor

  • Natalie [Portman] was always our first and only choice for Jane.
  • Natalie and Chris [Hemsworth] have amazing chemistry in the film. After an early cut, [Marvel Comics writer Brian] Bendis told me it was the best romantic chemistry in a Marvel movie.
  • People looking for a reference to Don Blake in the Thor film will find one.
  • (On the abandonment of the Thor comic’s faux-Shakespearean dialect) – As much as I love Stan the Man’s Shakespearean dialect, we felt it would be over-bearing. However, our director Kenneth Branagh has a great ear for the English language and I think you’ll find that the Asgardian speak is appropriately regal.
  • You only see her briefly in the trailer, but Kat Dennings comes close to stealing the film.
  • Idris rules as Heimdale. Come to think of it HE may come close to stealing the movie!

Captain America: The First Avenger

  • (On star Chris Evans having previously played the Human Torch in Twentieth century Fox’s two Fantastic Four films being cast as Captain America) – We figured if Harrison Ford could be Indiana Jones and Han Solo, Chris Evans could play Torch and Cap.
  • Working on the Cap trailer now. You should be seeing one in the new year.
  • More Cap pics coming early next year.
  • (Will one of those pictures be Hugo Weaving in his Red Skull makeup?) – You’ll be seeing it soon enough. And believe me, he looks amazing.
  • While there’s no Invaders, there’s lots of Howling Commandos!
  • (Though it looks like the Howling Commandos will not be lead by Sgt. Nick Fury) – We’re keeping Nick Fury as portrayed by the great Sam Jackson just in the modern era for now.
  • [Captain America’s sidekick] Bucky plays an important part in the film. Sebastian Stan’s done a tremendous job playing him.

The Avengers

  • (Responding to a fan’s concern that Chris Evans as Captain America may not have the same screen presence as Iron man’s Robert Downey Jr or Thor’s Hemsworth) – Evans owns the screen as Cap and is going to hold his own and then some.
  • The best part about making an Iron Man movie is deciding which of his many armors to debut. Joss would kill me if I gave anything away, but I will say that the evolution you saw his armor take in IM2 will continue in The Avengers.
  • (On the possibility of any other heroes or cameos we don’t know about yet in the film) – Maybe…
  • On choosing Joss Whedon to direct – He doesn’t lose site of the characters no matter how big and crazy the spectacle gets.

Ant Man

  • Edgar [Wright, writer and director for the project] was here a few days ago. He’s already working on the next draft.
  • (We should see the movie) – sometime after The Avengers.

Iron Fist

  • A very talented writer is currently working on a draft
  • (Will the script be based on Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction’s work on the series?) – The movie is definitely inspired by that great run.

The Future

  • (On how far their films are planned out for) – We try to stay five years ahead of the game. But now that you bring it up, what would you like to see in 20 years?
  • Love Power Pack, Maybe someday!
  • I have not been shy about my love for Dr. Strange, Black Panther, and Luke Cage.
  • (Another question about a possible Black Panther film brought this response) – Things are in the works.
  • Punisher’s back in house, and various plans are in the works.
  • (On the possibility of an R-Rated superhero film from Marvel) – We’re definitely open to it. Blade was a great franchise for us
  • I love female heroes too and would love to bring many more to the big screen in the future.
  • Moonknight’s a challenging, but extremely interesting character. We’ve been discussing various versions of it for years.

Miscellaneous

  • Love Marvel Zombies, but don’t think a Zombie TV show would ever work… haha.
  • (On Easter Eggs in upcoming films) – The Thor and Cap movies are really about our distinct origin stories for two of our most famous characters. As long as people are excited to find hidden secrets, we’ll continue to hide them.
  • (Will Thor, Captain America and/or The Avengers have button scenes after the credits?) – Some of them will…
  • The Incredible Hulk is MCU canon.
  • Our primary job is doing justice to the title characters, but we do have someone who’s got a large chart that spans across his office wall tracking the continuity. It’s pretty cool. Maybe we’ll publish it one day.

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New Releases: December 10

Posted on 10 December 2010 by William Gatevackes

1.) The Chronicles of Narnia (Fox, 3,555 Theaters, 115 Minutes, Rated PG): I don’t know about you, but I kind of forgotten the franchise was still around. It’s only been two years since the last entry, but that go around was slightly less successful that the powers that be might have liked. Let’s hope this one picks up the pace, because there are even more sequels in the pipeline.

The kids are back in Narnia again and have reunited with Prince Caspian. This time, they engage in a sea voyage where they meet dragons, merfolk, and lost warriors. The final destination turns out to be the end of the world.

I will be interested to see how this film does, with the similar-ish Harry Potter still in theaters. It might not really matter because like I said the next edition is in the works whether this succeeds or fails.

2.) The Tourist (Sony/Columbia, 2,756 Theaters, 103 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Five years ago, if you told me that a romantic thriller starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp was set to be released, I’d say that it would be a can’t miss proposition. This year? I’m not so sure.

All the ads I see for this film make it seem like the actors are just sleepwalking through their roles. It’s hard to read chemistry from the small amount of clips that are in ads, but it doesn’t really seem like there’s much chemistry there between Depp and Jolie. I could be wrong.

The film follows Depp’s character to Italy, where he goes to men a broken heart. While there, he meets Jolie and gets drawn into to a world of espionage. Chases and gunfights, I imagine, will ensue.

The two wide releases don’t seem to have what it takes to get the Academy’s attention. If I’m wrong, then The Tourist might garner acting nods for Depp and/or Jolie, but based on what I have seen of the film, they might not entirely be deserved.
However, there is The Fighter (Paramount, 4 Theaters, 114 Minutes, Rated R) which has Oscar written all over it. Esquire magazine has already given the Best Actor award to Christian Bale. If the film is good enough, Esquire might be right and Bale might have some company.

There is also The Tempest (Miramax, 5 Theaters, 110 Minutes, Rated PG-13). Julie Taymor is considered by some an unmitigated genius. But the Academy doesn’t really seem to think so. She does have one Oscar nomination to her name, but that is for Best Original Song for “Burn it Blue” from Frieda. But it is Shakespeare and she is taking chances with the work. If they pay off, it has a chance at a nod or two.

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First Official Look At PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES

Posted on 09 December 2010 by Rich Drees

Disney has released six high resolution photos of their upcoming Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with Johnny Depp once more playing Captain Jack Sparrow. This new installment will see Captain Jack crossing paths with a beautiful woman from his past (Penelope Cruz) as well as the pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane). Click on each picture for a much bigger look.

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The First TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON Teaser Is Here

Posted on 09 December 2010 by Rich Drees

It’s understandable if you think that perhaps this isn’t a trailer for Michael Bay’s next installment of the Transformers franchise. There are no ridiculous explosions, no overtly manipulative patriotic images and no Shia LaBeouf running around. Nonetheless, this is indeed our first official look at the Transformers: Dark Of The Moon.

It’s not a bad trailer, as it sets up what will probably be the mystery in the film this time around. My only complaint is that it is very similar in idea to the teaser trailer for the first film which featured a Mars rover encountering a decepticon.

While I’m no Transformers fanboy, I’m guessing that the Transformer that the Apollo 11 astronauts discover on that historic July 20, 1969 day is Apha Trion, one of the original 13 Transformers created by the alien Quintessons and granted sentience by the computer designated Vector Seven. Alpha Trion was the Transformer who lead the rebellion that freed the robot race from slavery, though it lead to the civil war between the Autobots and the Decepticons.

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Wachowskis Gearing Up For A Modern Robin Hood Story

Posted on 08 December 2010 by Rich Drees

The Wachowskis are in the process of developing a modern version of the classic Robin Hood story for Warner Brothers. Called Hood,  not much more is known about the project except that the siblings have written the screenplay and will be directing this urban take on the legendary hero who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Wachowskis are already approaching some actors about the project, with Will Smith being the only one mentioned by name.

Since the box office failure of Speed Racer, the Wachowskis have been spending their time developing CN-9, an Iraq War film told from the viewpoint of archaeologists discovering video footage 100 years in the future. Also hidden underneath the usual veil of secrecy that the pair work under, we do know that CN-9 would have featured a plot line about two male American soldiers and a conspiracy to assassinate President George Bush. Perhaps because of these plot points, the project has been slow in finding funding.

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SPIDER-MAN Reboot Cinematographer Raves About Digital Camera

Posted on 08 December 2010 by Rich Drees

Sony’s still untitled Spider-Man reboot began shooting this Monday, and it looks like they are using the new EPIC cameras from RED Digital Cinema. These are the same cameras that Peter Jackson will be using when The Hobbit goes into production next February.

Spider-Man‘s cinematographer John Schwartzman took to an online forum for RED users to enthuse about how the camera contributed to the first day’s success. (Warning, some high level techie talk follows)

Today was Epic, Monday December 6 marks the first day the Red Epic camera was used to shoot a major studio motion picture. I can say for certainty the camera does exist and boy is it ready for primetime, as a matter of fact it’s a true game changer. We shot in 3D with 4 Epics mounted on 2 3ality TS-5 rigs today, we did 22 set ups, including running high speed and the images look stunning! I do believe the sensor is iso 800 minus 1 stop for the mirror in daylight and iso 640 in tungsten light but that is really for every dp to determine for themselves, Brook Willard and I figured 640 tungsten but that’s just a number. For the first time in digital cinematography, small size doesn’t come with a resolution penalty, as a matter of fact there isn’t a higher resolution camera available other than IMAX, and this one weighs 5lbs with an ultra prime on it, suddenly 3D isn’t a 100lb beast! We had the cameras on dollies and a libra head today and we flew the 3D rig like it was an Arri 435. You guys told me you could do it in September and here we are today, Congratulations.

I am lighting by eye except that I’ve had to re-train myself to work at lower light levels because the camera is so sensitive. The images we made today were stunning, rich beautiful color and the resolution of a vistavision camera all in a package the size of a Hasselblad 501. We are shooting 2.40 at 5K, there wasn’t a hiccup from the cameras all day, the data was flawless, and there was a lot of it. I can tell you without these cameras it would be impossible to move a 3D rig in the ways that THIS story demands, if Jim and the crew hadn’t made these cameras available to us I don’t think we could have shot this movie the way our director envisioned it in 3D. Guys you’ve trusted me to take these out on their maiden voyage and I can tell you that after today I won’t let you down. I will have the members of my team, most of whom are familiar to the REDUSER site post about things about sub-menu’s and stuff my camera assistants won’t let me touch. I would like to thank Nate, Brook, Michael, and Deanan as well as my regular camera crew for an unbelievable first day, and Brook thanks for the Tiff’s they look amazing!

Mazel Tov RED!

This isn’t Schwartzman’s first time shooting a superhero film. He also served as director of photography on next month’s The Green Hornet, also shot in digital and which will be presented in 3D.

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