When Disney bought Lucasfilms, we knew it got the rights to the Star Wars universe, but is acquiring the Indiana Jones franchise was in question. It turns out that wasn’t part of the deal, because Paramount staked a claim to the franchise and owned the rights to it.
Well, not any more.
HitFix is reporting that Disney has bought the right to all future Indiana Jones films from Paramount, a deal that has been in the works since the Lucasfilms purchase. Paramount will still own the rights to the first four films in the franchise, and will become a silent partner in any new films from here on out.
This lends credence to the rumor from October that stated Harrison Ford used the possibility of more Indiana Jones films as a requirement for him returning as Han Solo in resurrected Star Wars franchise. That contract point has become much easier to do now that Disney owns the rights to the Indiana Jones franchise.
Of course, the question now is when Disney will fit the next Indy flick in on their schedule.
If you’re like me, then Han Solo was your favorite part of the Star Wars franchise. And the prospect of him being played by anyone else than Harrison Ford would be sacrilege. Well, it seems that Ford used this to his advantage in his attempts to get another shot at playing Professor Henry Jones.
Jedi News is quoting a source that states that Ford has had a verbal agreement to return to the role that made him famous since before Disney bought Lucasfilms in October of 2011, but the actual nitty gritty was ironed out over the summer, and Ford wanted certain guarantees before he officially signed. And one of his qualifications was that the powers that be would commit to a fifth Indian Jones film.
According to the website, he didn’t get that exactly, since no script exists for the project. What he did get get was a promise that at least an outline for the film would be finished by the end of 2014, and if everyone likes that, the next Indy film would be fast tracked for a 2016 release.
Ford also wanted to see what the plans were for Han’s development in the new sequels before he signed off on any deal. Apparently, they showed him a synopsis of the character arc in August, and he liked what he saw.
All of this apparently was good enough for Ford to sign on for a multi-picture deal, meaning that not only will Han return for Episode VII, but also Episode VIII, IX and perhaps more.
Of course, this is just a rumor. It’s a great rumor, but a rumor nonetheless. As such, it’s now my turn to poke possible holes in it.
Like, pointing out that as far as I know, the Indiana Jones rights are owned jointly by Disney and Paramount, and both have to sign off on any potential sequel. In other words, having Disney guaranteeing that a new Indiana Jones film will be made is nice and all, but it won’t be made unless Paramount agrees to it as well.
Less of an obstacle but still a warning flag is the rumor that the script for Episode VII is in the process of being rewritten by J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan as we speak. This is rumored to be a complete overhaul, so whatever synopsis Ford got back in the summer, if there was one, might be moot. Although, the reworking could keep Han’s character arc the same as the synopsis Ford saw.
In a multi-part series, Comic Book Film Editor William Gatevackes will be tracing the history of comic book movies from the earliest days of the film serials to today’s big blockbusters and beyond. Along with the history lesson, Bill will be covering some of the most prominent comic book films over the years and why they were so special. Today, we continue our profile of Alan Moore and bring you part two of a look at the film adaptation of one of his most political works.
We almost got a Watchmen movie back in the late 1980’s. It would have been a bombastic Joel Silver production that would have starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Manhattan, open with the Statue of Liberty being destroyed, and ended with the surviving heroes transported to our reality when their history was forever altered. Thankfully, that was avoided.
We also almost had a more faithful version from Terry Gilliam, complete with a narration from Rorschach but most likely still with Schwarzenegger in the cast. Unfortunately, that never came to pass.
What did come to pass was if not more interesting, then definitely more controversial and convoluted. What came next was a more than twenty-year trek to the big screen for the property, with no less than five studios, six directors, eight writers, and one lawsuit standing in the way of the production.
The rights to Watchmen were bought by Lawrence Gordon in August of 1986, before the fourth issue of the miniseries was even published, and partnered with Silver to work on the film with 20th Century Fox. Alan Moore was asked to write the script, but he refused. Instead, the studio pegged Batman scribe Sam Hamm to adapt the miniseries. In addition to the tacked on opening where the Statue of Liberty is destroyed, the book’s “alien invasion of New York City” ending is changed to one where Veidt plans on going back in time to stop Jon from becoming Dr. Manhattan. Veidt fails but Dr. Manhattan doesn’t, as he goes back in time to save himself from the accident that gave him his powers. That is what shifts Rorschach, Nite Owl, and Silk Spectre to our reality, where Watchmen is just a comic book and being dressed as characters from it causes the police to descend on the trio (obviously, cosplay wasn’t very big in the late 80s). Fox put the project in turnaround before a director could be attached, but stated their interest in bringing the project to the screen.
The project moved next to Warner Brothers, parent company of Watchmen’s publisher DC Comics. It’s here where Terry Gilliam became attached to the script. I consider Gilliam one of the most underrated directors and a true visionary. I would have loved to see his take on the project. It looks like what we would have gotten was a far more faithful version of the story—he hired writers such as Charles McKeown and Warren Skaaren to add more of the graphic novel to the film’s script. However, since Gilliam’s most recent film at the time, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, went anywhere from $12 million to $23 million dollars over budget, and Silver’s most recent film at the time, Die Hard 2, also went over budget, Warner put a restrictive $25 million budget on the project. This caused Gilliam to walk away from the project.
The film languished in development limbo until 2001. By then, the Blade and X-Men films proved there was a market for superhero movies, so Gordon resuscitated the film at Universal Studios and pegged X-Men writer David Hayter to write and direct the film. Development lasted two years at Universal before disagreements between the studio and the creative team caused a split.
After a brief dalliance at Revolution Studios, the project was brought to Paramount in 2004. Hayter was out as director, replaced by Darren Aronofsky. But Watchmen became one of many superhero themed projects Aronofsky walked away from. It’s a trend for him. Aronofsky left to focus on The Fountain, and was replaced by Paul Greengrass. However, a shake up in command at Paramount ended up putting Watchmen in turnaround once again.
In 2005, the film was finally on its way to the big screen. The project had returned to Warner Brothers for a second time and Zack Snyder was chosen to direct and Alex Tse wrote a new screenplay culled from Hayter’s drafts for the film. That’s when the legal wrangling came.
First up was Paramount, the most recent studio to try to get a Watchmen film up and running. Warner settled with Paramount, giving them 25% of the film and the distribution rights outside of the U.S.
Next came 20th Century Fox. In February 2008, they filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Warner, claiming they never sacrificed the rights to the film (forget the decades that other studios tried to get a film up and running and Fox did nothing about it). Warner said Fox had passed on a number of opportunities to make a film based on the Hayter screenplay, which their film was adapted from, therefore Fox passed on the rights. A judge ruled in favor of Fox, and Fox threatened to legally stop the film from being released. This was averted as the two studios came to a settlement. Fox got a percentage of the gross and some of their development costs back. And Watchmen was finally going to hit movie screens.
I find Snyder’s film to be a noble disappointment. It was a film that wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t as great as the expectations, unfair though they may be, built up for the film indicated. When I first saw the film, my main criticism was that I thought that Snyder and Tse were too faithful to the graphic novel. In retrospect, the problem I most come back to are the changes Snyder made to the text to make it a more “dynamic” film. Moore and Gibbons’ story was the prototypical illustration of what would happen if superheroes existed in the real world. They made a point of having Dr. Manhattan be the only superpowered being. In Snyder’s film, Ozymandias’ and the Comedian’s punches can break through brick walls and Silk Spectre’s kicks can send bad guys flying feet in the air.
And I think the less that is said about the sex scene, the better. Moore and Gibbons enter the scene between Nite Owl and Silk Spectre after the deed was done, because the point of the scene wasn’t to titillate the audience, but to illustrate how the characters feel impotent without their costumed identities. The same scene, drawn out in slow motion (or at least what seemed like slo-mo) with a Leonard Cohen score, has all the earmarkings of a note from a Warner’s executive asking for more skin in the film. I am far from a prude, but the scene wasn’t sexy, it wasn’t erotic, and the original reason for it was entirely lost.
One change that did work was the ending. You can say that the ending was the weakest part of the graphic novel, and the fact that it was stolen, inadvertently or otherwise, from another work meant it was ripe for a reworking. Having Veidt create, not an alien that could destroy a city, but bombs using Dr. Manhattan’s energy signature was a more realistic choice from a narrative perspective, and far more believable from a story stand point.
Join us next time for a look at a pair of very well received films that you might not have realized was adapted from graphic novels.
1. Monsters University (Disney/Pixar, 4,004 Theaters, 110 Minutes, Rated G): If you have ever read my writing on this site, you know that I love Pixar. I think that they are by far the most innovative studio working in Hollywood today. So when they do a sequel, or in this case, a prequel, I feel a bit disappointed.
I mean. I love Monsters, Inc. It’s one of my favorite films. And I’m sure this film, which goes back to when Mike and Sully were in college, will be awesome. And also that Toy Story 3 might just be the best installment of that franchise. My gripe isn’t that the quality of the sequel will be lacking.
It’s just that when Pixar goes back to the well for a prequel or sequel to one of its legendary hits, I feel we miss out on new ideas like Ratatouille, Up,Wall-E, or Brave. Pixar does only one film a year (if we are lucky), and doing a follow up means that we don’t have the joy of seeing Pixar tackle a concept that might not seem to work on paper (A rat who cooks? Really?) and turn it to something magical.
Not to say I’m boycotting this film. I’ll probably be there this weekend with my daughter in tow, just a minor quibble.
2. World War Z (Paramount, 3,607 Theaters, 116 Minutes, Rated PG-13): So, World War Z is a best selling book written by Max Brooks, son of Hollywood legend Mel Brooks. It has so much buzz behind it that a bidding war between Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment erupts for its film rights. Pitt’s production company wins. Now the problem begins: translating Brooks after-the-fact, interview format into a film narrative.
J. Michael Straczynski writes a script that does just that. It is a script that is good enough to get the film officially green lit and is rumored to keep the “looking back” nature of the book as well as the political commentary intact. That was back in 2009.
However, someone believed that the script, with all its accolades, just wasn’t good enough. Straczynski’s script is thrown out and Matthew Michael Carnahan is brought in to write a new one from scratch. The script now places the action as the zombie outbreak is happening. Much of the political commentary is stripped, even going so far as to change the origin of the outbreak from China so as to not upset film distributors in that country. It is dumbed down to a action flick. The film finally enters production in 2011.
But there are still problems. The third act is rumored to be weak, so Lost’s Damon Lindelof is tapped to rewrite the film’s ending. He is unable to do due to time constrains, so his partner Drew Gabbard takes on the job. The cast is called back for seven weeks of additional shooting.
The reason why I am going into such detail about the production of this films is because I think it’s a reason why this film will bomb terribly at the box office. It has to counter act not only the second weekend of Man of Steel, which is getting great word of mouth, but also Monsters University. The film opened to $3.6 million dollars last night, $1 million more than Monsters University made but expect that latter film to make up the difference in a big way when kids are awake to see it. With a price tag near $190 million, World War Z better hope that a miracle happens or else this war will be over before it even starts.
1. Star Trek Into Darkness(Paramount, 3,868 Theaters, 132 Minutes, Rated PG-13): And along comes the summer’s second biggest film. Apologies for the late write up for this. Typically, I like these New Release posts to hit before a film opens, and, well, they went and changed the opening date on me. Phooey. So it’s a day late.
I have to say that I was looking forward to this film a lot. I really like 2009’s Star Trek. I liked the way they set it so that the film was technically in the same continuity as every other Star Trek installment, yet in a separate, alternate universe. It was the filmmakers way of saying, we are going to change some major things here, but really we aren’t changing a thing. That old Star Trek world still exists for you and always will.
Of course, after reading reviews like FBOL head honcho Rich Drees’s take on the film, that enthusiasm has dampened a bit. The way Rich describes the film (and he goes into spoilerish detail, so you might want to see the film first before reading the review if you are put off by spoilers) kind of makes it seem like its going in the wrong direction.
I will of course see the film…someday…to form my own decisions on it. But I am not in as big of a hurry to do it.
1. Pain & Gain (Paramount, 3,277 Theaters, 130 Minutes, Rated R): My first thought on how to approach writing the blurb for this film was how awkward a fit Michael Bay was for directing this film. After all, the ads portray it as a wacky crime comedy about a group of bungling bodybuilders who engage in an extortion plot as revenge against a particularly obnoxious client. That is almost a story that Elmore Leonard would write. It was a film that would be better suited being directed by a Barry Sonnenfeld or a Steven Soderbergh, not the master of the explosion.
Then, thanks to the Internet, I was able to read the articles that inspired the film. You can read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 by clicking those links. If you have enough time, I’d recommend you do so. You’ll find a fascinating retelling of the true story that is being dramatized on the screen. What you won’t find is a wacky comedy. Yes, there is bungling. But there is also brutal, inhuman torture of the character Tony Shalhoub represents. There is also a second crime done by the same crew that ends in the murder of two people and their corpses being cut up and sunk in a culvert. The victims of the second crime are listed on IMDB in the cast listing, so that gruesome crime will be addressed in the film.
The true story the poster takes so much pride in stating it is adapted from doesn’t seem like the buoyant fun-filled romp that the trailers make it out to be. That means one of several things. It could mean that Paramount is misrepresenting the film as a goofy comedy instead of a pitch-black comedy/drama the real story would be. This kind of bait and switch is always unctuous.
Or it could be that the Hollywood has taken liberties with the story so it is now a wacky crime caper. This is likely, because Dwayne Johnson’s character appears to be a composite of numerous other accomplices of the Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie characters.
Either way, this is an event where people died. People who were loved and respected by their friends and family were brutally murdered and the bodies underwent the ultimate disrespect after their demise. And while some of the incompetence about the muscle-headed plotters can lend itself to dark humor, you need a master of setting a tone to ensure the film stays respectful to the victims. And Michael Bay is anything but a master of setting the tone, unless it is coming from loud explosions.
2. The Big Wedding (Lionsgate, 2,633 Theaters, 90 Minutes, Rated R): You know, you don’t often get casts like this one in your remake of a French farce. I mean, you have four Oscar winners, and Prince Caspian! How could you lose!
This is a remake of France’s 2006 film, Mon Frère Se Marie. The plot consists of a family whose adopted son is getting married. The son has been writing home to his biological mother, a devout Catholic, about the wonderful family he was raised in. Only problem is that the story is a lie. His parents are divorced, his siblings are crazy, and his life is anything but perfect. But his birth mother is coming to the ceremony so the man’s family has to pretend to live up to the idealized version he relayed to his mom.
Now, right off the bat, I can pick a bone about the premise. Not that I am one to judge, but I think a Catholic who got pregnant out of wedlock and gave her son up for adoption should be able to cut a divorced couple a little slack. And the semantics of the son’s lie is troubling for me. Why would he have to address his family life in any sort of detail? And if he did, couldn’t he find something positive about his family to relate? In other words, why did he lie when he could have just not admitted the whole truth?
Anyway, farces usually have plots that work best if you don’t think about them. And this all-star cast could make anything good. Might be a fun film if you just take it at face value and run with the concept.
1. G.I.Joe Retaliation (Paramount, 3,719 Theaters, 110 Minutes,Rated PG-13): So, the weather isn’t even warm yet and we already have our first summer blockbuster. Unfortunately, it’s from the summer of 2012.
That’s when the film was supposed to come out. But last May, just a month before the film was supposed to hit theaters and with marketing tie-ins already starting to roll out, Paramount pulled the plug on the release. They said it was so the film could be converted into 3-D, but industry wags claimed that it was done for other reasons, everything from rewriting Channing Tatum’s character’s death out of the film or just to avoid Tatum’s Magic Mike (although that excuse seems flimsy when you consider Dwayne Johnson has 15 other films coming out this year).
The sequel deals with how the team reacts after Cobra takes over the U.S. Government and makes the Joes public enemy #1.
I was a minority who actually liked the first film, so I can’t wait to see what they do now.Not all of the original cast is back, but the addition of Johnson and Bruce Willis more than make up for it.
1. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (Paramount, 3,372 Theaters, 88 Minutes, Rated R): I’d like to go on the record here and say that this could quite possibly the stupidest movie ever. Well, that’s not fair. I haven’t seen the film. Allow me to correct myself. This could quite possibly the stupidest concept for a movie ever.
Everybody knows the story of Hansel and Gretel, right? Two children are abandoned in the woods. They come across a gingerbread house. Starving, they decide to eat it. The witch who lives there does not take kindly to them eating her house and decides to eat them. The kids narrowly escape becoming Witch Chow by shoving the witch into the stove. We all learn a very valuable lesson–don’t go eating strange houses you stumble upon in the woods.
This film picks up quite a bit after that story as the pair, so angered by the witch who was only defending their property, go into the witch hunting business. With pump-handled shot guns. In Medieval Germany. Yep, you read that right. You can almost hear the Academy calling Jeremy Renner to rescind those two Oscar nominations now.
If the concept alone isn’t enough to keep you away, realize this was scheduled to come out in March…OF 2012! Supposedly it was delayed to capitalize on Renner’s big 2012 of The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy. Unfortunately, the only one of the two that Renner had the lead role in failed to make its budget back domestically. Tough luck!
2. Parker (FilmDistrict, 2,224 Theaters, 118 Minutes, Rated R): On the surface, this might seem like a typical Jason Stratham revenge film. But it goes a little bit deeper than that.
This is the first film adapted from the Parker line of books written by Donald E. Westlake under the the pseudonym Richard Stark where the author allowed filmmakers to keep the lead character’s names the same (for 1967’s Point Break, Lee Marvin starred as Walker and in 1999 Mel Gibson starred as Porter in Payback. Both films were adapted from Westlake/Stark’s 1962 Parker novel, The Hunter. This one is adapted from a later book called Flashfire).
The film is also directed by Taylor Hackford, whose past credits include An Officer and a Gentleman and Ray. So this should look a lot better than other films of its ilk. And with 26 novels in the Parker series, this could turn out to be lengthy franchise if this film does well.
3. Movie 43 (Relativity, 2,023 Theaters, 90 Minutes, Rated R): And then you have this movie, which is like 14 films all in one, replete with 15 writers and 12 directors. And a cast that redefines “star-studded.” Seriously, the only other place you’d see this many Oscar nominees and winners in one place would be the Oscars themselves.
The film is a parody anthology in the mode of The Kentucky Fried Movie, although it is closer structurally to the lesser known Amazon Women on the Moon. The basic conceit is that three teenage boys are looking for the most banned film of all time, and their search brings them down the path of one offensive film after another.
The cast is awesome, but from what I’ve seen of the ads, the film looks horrible. These kinds of films are always uneven, but there seems to be very little thought put into the film other than “Let’s have all of these great actors be as filthy and offensive as they can be! Everyone will laugh!” And this film was also supposed to be released last year. Take that as you will.
1. Jack Reacher (Paramount, 3,352 Theaters, 130 Minutes, Rated PG-13): So, the problem with this film is not that Tom Cruise is trying to play a bad ass. He’s starred in the Mission Impossible films, and he had bad ass moments in all of them.
The problem is that he is playing a character described in the novels the film is adapted from as being a 6’5″bruiser. No matter what you think of Cruise’d acting skills, there’s no way the 5’7″ actor can pull off looking almost a foot taller.
Of course, the last time Cruise was criticized for being miscasted as a popular literary character–Lestat in Interview With a Vampire–he acquitted himself quite nicely. So, maybe the same will happen here.
2. This Is 40 (Universal, 2,912 Theaters, 134 Minutes, Rated R): Judd Apatow is billing this as the “sort-of sequel” to Knocked Up. “Sort-of” is right. Outside of Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (Apatow’s wife) as Pete and Debbie and Maude and Iris Apatow (Apatow and Mann’s daughters), the only other person from the original cast is Jason Segel, who, if I recall correctly, had little or no contact with either Pete or Debbie in the orginal film. IMDB doesn’t show either Seth Rogen or Katherine Heigl, who played Debbie’s sister, in the cast list.
But it appears that this film is trying to attract the same audience. Good luck with that. Ilike Apatow’s work, but Knocked Up focused on a bunch of 20-something stoners goofing around until life butted in. This is about a pair of 40-year-olds dealing with the fact that they are on the cusp of not being able to be called young and beginning to be called old. I don’t see a lot of cross over in those audiences.
It looks like the designers for the first look poster for May’s Star Trek Into Darkness were quite taken with The Dark Knight Rises’ poster’s use of property damage to form the outline of the franchise’s recognizable logo, because they have done a version of it here.
Plot details for the second film of Paramount Star Trek reboot has been kept a secret. However, the studio has revealed this plot blurb:
In Summer 2013, pioneering director J.J. Abrams will deliver an explosive action thriller that takes Star Trek Into Darkness.
When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis.
With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.
As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.
This synopsis led many to believe that the film will be adapting “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” the third episode aired from the Original Star Trek TV series. In that episode, Gary Mitchell, an old friend of Kirk’s and helmsman of the Enterprise, comes in contact with a cosmic force that gives him immeasurable telekinetic powers. He promptly declares himself a god and it comes down to Kirk having to kill his friend to save the universe.