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Some major developments for the sequel to Superman Returns, tentatively titled Superman: The Man of Steel, hit the web today in quick succession. First, IESB reports that they’ve received “100%” confirmation that Bryan Singer will return to direct the flick and they’ve also heard that writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Transformers, J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek) are in major talks to replace Returns scribes Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris.

And then, later today Empire actually chatted with Singer, who not only confirmed his “intent” to direct, but once again defended Returns‘ poor critical, fanboy and box office reception, while playing up action in the sequel…

“That movie made $400 million!” Singer says to Empire. “I don’t know what constitutes under-performing these days…Look, I can understand, I suppose, what some people mean. Perhaps some people went in with the expectation of it being like an X-Men film, and Superman is a tougher character than that. Especially bringing him back. It really goes back to the fact that you can only please some of the people some of the time. But, yes, I’m just getting back with writers after the strike. We’re just in the development phase. I’m starting to develop a sequel…with the intention of directing it.”

He goes on to jokingly jab at female fans who went ga-ga over Superman Returns, while mentioning the sequel’s upped stakes…

“The first one was a romantic film and a nostalgic film,” he says. “I’ll be the first person to own up to that without making any apologies for it. I knew it was going to be that from the outset. And now that the characters are established, there’s really an opportunity to up the threat levels…Clearly there’ll be a body count [laughs]. From frame one, it will be unrelenting terror! All those teenage girls who found the movie and mooned over James Marsden or Brandon? Well, I’m going to wake them up!”

I’m moderately surprised that Warner Bros. is going ahead with a sequel rather than scrapping it and revamping the character once again a la The Incredible Hulk or Punisher: War Zone. Not to sound like a smirk jerk, but the first film, which cost $200 million (I’ll still add an ! to that), totally blew it in my opinion and was basically one of the largest pet-projects ever. A Superman movie should reign supreme over all comic book films in terms of epic-ness, scope, special effects and box office, but even if Man of Steel boasts more action, it’ll still be difficult to get stoked after the first faux-weepy, overly nostalgic bummer.

Update (2 a.m. EST): CHUD reports that writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are definitely not attached to pen the Man of Steel screenplay.

Discuss: Can Singer knock a sequel out of the park? Moreover was the only complaint about the first film merely action-related?

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Why not? Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine, the minds behind the hit comedy site Ask a Ninja, are set to make their feature film debut with a remake of the lucrative 1978 B-movie spoof Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. They are currently working on the script. Nichols will direct. Both appear to be very fond of the cult classic and arguable pop culture phenomenon.

” ‘Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!’ is the masterwork of a generation,” Nichols said. “We can only aspire to recapture that magic.”

I can’t tell if this sentence is supposed to be funny, but The Hollywood Reporter sez that the remake’s plot is “expected to revolve around killer tomatoes.” I mean, really? ATOFKT spawned a sequel, Return of the Killer Tomatoes, which remains infamous for starring George Clooney (Possible cameo? Let’s hope.), a Nintendo game, a Game Boy game, a ’90s animated TV show that went great with SpaghettiOs, and tons of other tie-ins of questionable taste.

For what it is, Ask a Ninja is rather smart (Sarine and Nichols reportedly make $100K a month off the site and merch) and I’m curious to see how far these guys take their comedic voice. The deal is great news for original content generators on the Web and no doubt a promising glimmer in the eye of Slashfilm: The Movie. Seeing the remake’s absurd title stretched across a marquee next to, let’s say, The Mummy 5 should draw a smile from some and a frown from annoyed adults forced to hear that friggin’ theme song once again. Click here for a clip from the original film.

Discuss: Would you rather see a Tomatoes remake or Attack of the Killer ;)s?

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“I’ve got the touch.”

Over at Deadline Hollywood Daily, Nikki Finke is reporting that actor Edward Norton and Marvel Studios are in an escalating tizzy over editing and final cut on The Incredible Hulk. Oh boy, this is not good. Norton, who pretty much received the right to rework Zak Penn’s script however he wanted, is known for having strong feelings about the end product. His arguments with director Tony Kaye over American History X (Norton won) are the stuff of legend.

Finke reports that Norton and Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel are currently “holed up” alongside director Louis Leterrier (who is oddly mentioned in the news item like a third wheel) in hopes of reaching an amicable decision. It’s not clear what the arguments are over and it seems that, like fanboys, even the insiders have little idea how the $150 million flick is shaping up.

Another unnamed source seems to throw some water on the flame, saying…

“There is a very healthy exchange of ideas going on. Discussions now are even more heated. But some of Ed’s best movies have had this exact dynamic to them. Everyone’s in the process of figuring it out and working it out. But I expect it’ll all get resolved pretty quickly.”

With The Incredible Hulk‘s teaser trailer, yes only a teaser, appearing tomorrow night on MTV, it’s at once worrisome and kinda sweet how cloaked this project is from the public eye. Opening on June 13th, its secrecy has almost seemed like a Sun Tzu marketing strategy when compared to The Dark Knight and Iron Man; but while a secretive approach might work for a never-before-seen character that’s eagerly anticipated, we’ve seen Ang Lee’s Hulk already. Either Leterrier’s Hulk is going to blow us away tomorrow or get a big “meh!” It’s really that simple. And Norton is pretty sharp, so hopefully Marvel listens to him. As much as I pined for Liv Tyler in that Aerosmith video, Norton is the only reason why I’m interested in the remake.

Discuss: Does Norton’s disagreement with Marvel over final cut bother you? What are you expecting from the teaser tomorrow? Do you find it cool to know so little about the film this far in?

“Wasn’t me.”

Peter emailed me the following question regarding the announcement that Justin Long will now star in Sam Raimi‘s Drag Me to Hell: How did a movie go from so much potential with a return to old form, an Oscar nominated actress [Ellen Page] attached, to a Justin Long movie? I have no idea, but I too would rather see Mr. PC star in Raimi’s first horror thriller in years than the baby-faced star of Jeepers Creepers, Drew Barrymore’s prolonged youth and Apple propaganda.

Long (Live Free of Die Hard) will star alongside Ellen Page’s lesser known replacement, actress Alison Lohman, who joined the film just days ago after Page bailed due to scheduling conflicts. Written by Raimi and his brother Ivan, not much is known about Drag Me to Hell except that it will follow the unfortunate recipient of a supernatural curse, it has an awesome title, and it harks back to Raimi’s Evil Dead salad days but with less gore and less Bruce Campbell.

Next up for Long is He’s Just Not That Into You. Make ‘em swoon Long, make ‘em swoon.

Discuss: What has more scary potential, Drag Me to Hell or Justin Long in a movie?

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Shock Till You Drop received a tip over the weekend from a source at 20th Century Fox who claimed that a sequel to last December’s generally hated Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem is a “certainty.” A second sequel in the battle royal sci-fi horror franchise would be rather surprising, as AvP-R didn’t reach $50 million domestically, though it made about $130 million worldwide. However one might expect sales of the DVD, set for April 15th, to be rather healthy. As aforementioned, after much boasting by visual effects wizard brothers Colin Strause and Greg Strause, their film still sucked about as much as the first AVP flick from Paul W.S. Anderson. The source didn’t clarify whether the Brothers Strause would return.

The question here is whether this potentially landmark franchise can ever retain the promise that existed in so many fanboys’ heads before it became a cinematic reality. Twentieth Century Fox has to realize at this point that the key factor to making an AVP film that can reach $100 million domestic (and a third film still could) is the director. At this point they need to go with a well known action director rather than a young hot shot with visual acumen.

While some of the thrill is gone after two outings, especially amongst the non-geek mainstream, an injection of class and a detachment from the prior two films could still make considerable bank. I doubt they could get Ridley Scott at this point, but that’s the type of talent they should aim for. And this isn’t about AVP so much as rebooting the Aliens and Predator franchises, neither of which are particularly strong go-to’s right now. As seen from the boffo grosses and insatiable interest in I Am Legend, moviegoers want their dark sci-fi, so do it right or don’t bother.

Discuss: Can you ever get excited for an AVP film again after the first two? 

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“Takes all kinds, guys.”

The premiere for Horton Hears a Who! was held today at Mann Village Theater in Los Angeles. In attendance were stars (and Horton voices) Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, non-star Victoria Beckham, lots and lots of children and…a totally uninvited group of pro-lifers, who were apparently uber-inspired by the film’s upbeat mantra of “After all, a person is a person no matter how small.”

The protesters reportedly “chanted” pro-life messages after the flick was over, then applied red tape labeled with the word “LIFE” to their mouths and kept on protesting. What would Dr. Seuss think (WWDRST?). Sidenote: This item was brought to my attention by Peter and since I’ve already been called a “commie” today on Slash (a first!), we thought it was worth posting.

Discuss: Have you ever attended a screening interrupted by protesters? If not, what’s the craziest distraction you’ve encountered during a movie screening?

via TMZ

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After The Golden Compass failed to crack $70 million at the domestic box office, many industry types and American moviegoers pfffft‘d the notion that the other films in Philip Pullman‘s His Dark Materials trilogy would ever be made. However, as Variety notes, the first film, which starred Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, and had a budget of nearly $200 million, is line to be the first film to ever crack $300 million internationally without reaching $100 million domestic. This is an astonishing disconnect, really. Producer Deborah Forte is not only hopeful that The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass will be made, she is adamant…

“This was a success as a family movie in most countries, it’s a very strong family franchise, it won an Academy Award [for Visual Effects]. We have to make the second and the third movie. …”I will make ‘The Subtle Knife’ and ‘The Amber Spyglass,’” she vows. “I believe there are enough people who see what a viable and successful franchise we have.”

The Golden Compass‘s failure domestically and New Line’s decision pre-release to sell off the international rights are seen as primary factors in the studio recently being downsized and absorbed by Warner Bros. Forte doesn’t offer an outright opinion on the gross gap, but hints that she was displeased with the marketing in the U.S. She says that per discussions with New Line, Compass‘s DVD, to be released stateside on April 28th, “must be marketed as a family film.” Moreover, a script for The Subtle Knife has already been written by Hossein Amini (Killshot, The Four Feathers). If Warner Bros. passes on the sequels, it’s even suggested that Forte might seek an independent route.

While I think the marketing in America focused too much on Kidman and Craig, two stars with little appeal to tweens, The Golden Compass faced a tall order of bad, nearly sensational, press domestically, with many outlets playing up the books atheistic messages. Its release during the holidays was also rather careless. The film came to be seen by the mainstream as an anti-Christian Chronicles of Narnia and thus unsuitable for family viewings. As Variety points out the film did well in Italy were the pope publicly called out the film as “the most anti-Christmas movie possible,” but Italy doesn’t have virulent talk radio and Fox News talking heads.

Discuss: Why did The Golden Compass perform so well worldwide? Are you interested in seeing the sequels?

Tropic Thunder Teaser Trailer

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Nolte totally cracked out! Creedence Clearwater Revival blaring! Robert Downey Jr. as a fake black man! Jack Black as an albino! A real black dude yelling, “I’m from Brooklyn motherfucker!” The red-band teaser trailer (who knew, right?) for Ben Stiller‘s Tropic Thunder has arrived and it packs a soap-in-mouth wallop. Unfortunately, the characters are layered over footage from the film, so for the trailer’s entire duration you’re looking for an “X CLOSE” so you can get rid of the Flash and enjoy it. It’s not there, sadly.

But what is there, more and more, is the potential for Tropic Thunder to shred up throats with laughter like so many foreign palm trees this August. And I am already digging the P.C. controversy that is erupting over Downey’s performance. Say what you want about Apatow but his comedy doesn’t exactly piss people off, and it’s about time we got one that did.

Click here to skip the stupid age registration and watch the first “Over the Top Restricted Teaser Video” trailer for Tropic Thunder.

Discuss: Are you liking what you’ve seen of the film thus far or what? And how badass is Nick Nolte, I mean, really?

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