Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Big Marvel purchase, Jack the Giant Killer, and various projects in the works

Some recent entertainment news that caught my eye...

Let's start out with yesterday's big news: Disney has made a deal to acquire Marvel for $4 billion (Variety). The deal gives Disney access to Marvel's many popular characters, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, and Captain America. Disney has classically had trouble attracting boys to its audiences, so having Marvel's inventory should help with that. Marvel gains extra marketing muscle particularly overseas, where they have been trying to expand their brand power. The deal will not affect Marvel's film deals that are already in place, but it's still a huge deal, affecting films without current franchises as well as comic books, TV shows, video games, theme parks, action figures, and other merchandise. I'm not in any way a true comic book fan--I just like many of the movies and TV shows based on comics--but there's still a purist in me that just hopes this doesn't mean Marvel will become "Disney-fied". It's unlikely we have anything to be worried about, though.

I mentioned last time that production of Spider-Man: The Musical (aka Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) was delayed due to money troubles, and there were reports that star Evan Rachel Wood (cast as Mary Jane) was planning on leaving. I don't have any more news regarding the production schedule of the musical or if they've resolved their monetary issues, but I can at least say that Wood has not, in fact, abandoned the project (IMDb).

In yet further Marvel-related news, it looks like Fantastic Four, which had two recent movies come out in 2005 and 2007, will be treated to a reboot (Variety blog). The script will be written by Michael Green, who just co-wrote the Green Lantern script (playing both sides, is he?). The movie franchise is controlled by 20th Century Fox, so it was not a part of the Disney deal.

The planned BioShock movie may have found a new director after Gore Verbinski stepped down from the role. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) is in talks to direct the live-action feature for Universal (Variety blog). I don't know the game, but I'm always interested in the development of movie adaptations of video games. Always keeping an eye out for the first one that might actually be good.

Kevin Tancharoen, who directed the upcoming remake of Fame, will direct a new fantasy sci-fi movie called Arcana, with Brett Ratner (Rush Hour 1, 2, and 3; X-Men 3) producing (IMDb). Tancharoen describes the movie as having a Blade Runner feel, shot like 300. Hmm. Could be interesting, could be bad. We'll see if anything comes of it.

Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke will be directing a gothic retelling of Little Red Riding Hood (Variety, IMDb). Sounds like another teen fantasy; the plot will center around a teenage love triangle.

Michael Bay has signed up to develop another teen sci-fi franchise. His production company bought the rights to James Frey's novel I Am Number Four, about nine aliens who escape to Earth before their planet is destroyed, one of whom takes the form of a high schooler (IMDb).

I reported a couple months ago that Atari was developing a new MMO based on Dungeons & Dragons franchise Neverwinter Nights. While those plans have still not been announced officially, they are getting Atari into trouble. Dungeons and Dragons Online developer Turbine is suing Atari for breach of contract and fraud, accusing them of purposely pulling back support of D&D Online, which Atari distributes in Europe but apparently has not done to Turbine's satisfaction (Variety blog). It's not clear to me how this will affect the planned MMO.

Warner Bros. has signed Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men 1 and 2) on to produce (with the possibility of directing) a remake of Excalibur (Variety blog). That's all well and good; I like Bryan Singer and I like Arthurian legend. But what really caught my eye when I read this little article was the second paragraph:
Deal comes as Singer gets serious about making the New Line-Legendary co-production “Jack the Giant Killer” his next directing effort, according to sources.
Jack the Giant Killer? My Jack the Giant Killer? It's a bit like when I saw a photo from Comic-Con last year of Dakota Fanning promoting Push and scrambled to confirm that it was really the movie script I had read two summers before that. Well, the summer that I read the Push script (that is, the summer of 2006), the other movie script I read was Jack the Giant Killer, an epic fantasy by Darren Lemke, based on the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk. So when I read that article about Bryan Singer, the immediate question was Is this the Jack the Giant Killer that I read? The answer is basically yes. All I've been able to find other than that off-handed comment in the Variety blog is this Variety article from January, which mentions that the script has been treated to a rewrite by Mark Bomback. It seems things have changed in the past eight months, with Legendary coming on as co-producer with New Line, and D.J. Caruso leaving the project and being replaced by Bryan Singer. Well, the Jack the Giant Killer script I read was pretty awesome, and hopefully the rewrite only made it better. I'm really excited about it, especially if Bryan Singer is developing it. Maybe I'll give that its own post some time in the future.

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