Michael Jackson Estate Begins to Shop Biopic

Briefly: The Michael Jackson estate is finally starting to test the waters for a biopic about the King of Pop. Estate executor John Branca has approached Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollock of the Montecito Picture Company about financing and producing a Jackson film. It’s way to early to say what the film might look like — the deal to develop the thing isn’t even finished, so there is certainly no writer or director on board. It is possible that Reitman could direct if the deal goes through, but that’s too early to call now, too.

Variety says the film “would only cover certain periods of the late singer’s life,” and your guess is as good as mine as to which periods will be included. Presumably any biopic licensed by the estate would have full access to Jackson’s music. Would this be a true musical, or the sort of music-infused biography that has been more familiar in recent years? (Think Ray and Walk the Line.) I’d expect the latter.

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VOTD: Patrick Boivin’s Black Widow Gone Wild

We’ve featured a bunch of Patrick Boivin’s videos in past editions of Video of the Day, including AT-AT Day Afternoon, a Batman vs. Hellboy movie trailer mash-up, Iron Man vs. Bruce Lee, Bumblebee’s stop-motion animated dance and Boba Fett’s stop-motion Mandalorian Dance. The French Canadian director has just released his newest creation, a stop-motion animated action figure short titled “Black Widow Gone Wild.” The short takes an action figure of Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and pits her against some of movies biggest stars, Whiplash, the t1000, Rocky, Michael Jackson, Superman, Batman, Jack Bauer, Predator and Spider-Man. And what if Black Widow was War Machine? Watch the short embedded after the jump.

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Briefly: Last week there was a collective ‘huh?’ (and probably some genuine interest) when word filtered out that High School Musical director Kenny Ortega might direct a feature film based on Michael Jackson‘s song ‘Thriller.’ But the director, who was Michael Jackson’s long-time choreographer and frequent creative partner, has been in touch with EW to say, hey, hold up a second.

“It got put out there before I’ve even really had a chance to think about it too much,” Mr. Ortega said at the end of last week. He elaborated:

It is still in very, very early stages of development. The [Michael Jackson] estate would have to sign off on it. I have been a part of some early creative meetings and if all goes well, I think it could happen in the next couple of years.

And, with respect to the idea of trampling the very good legacy of the existing ‘Thriller’ video, directed by John Landis, he explained, “I would never do anything to ruin his memory or one of his creations. But like I said, it is so early, so who knows what will materialize?”

Did you know that there is a plan afoot to make a new feature film based on ‘Thriller,’ by Michael Jackson? Neither did we, but a rights package is being fought over that would allow a studio to further exploit the posthumous popularity of Michael Jackson and his music. The result might be a new Thriller directed by…the guy who made High School Musical? John Landis has got to be rather irritated right now. Read More »

Never Let Me Go

After the Telluride Film Festival premiere of his latest film, I had the opportunity to sit down and interview director Mark Romanek for a long-form interview.  It was a collaboration between Alex from FirstShowing and myself, which explains how we were able to get so much time with the filmmaker.

Mark Romanek is one of the best music video directors to come out of the 1990′s. His videos have included Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer”, “Scream” – Michael Jackson’s grammy award winning collaboration with sister Janet Jackson (at $7 million, one of the most expensive music video ever made), Janet Jackson’s “Got ‘Til It’s Gone”, Johnny Cash’s gut-wrenching cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”, En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind”, Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way”, Beck’s “Devil’s Haircut”, Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” and Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”. His 2002 feature film One Hour Photo is probably best known for Robin Williams’ dramatic turn. While the film is beloved by cinephiles, it pretty much went under the radar of mainstream audiences. It did however gain Romanek a lot of the respect in the movie industry. His follow-up, a big screen adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro‘s novel Never Let Me Go, premiered at the 37th Telluride Film Festival. The book was named one of TIME’s 100 Best Novels (from 1923 to the Present), featured on many top ten books of 2005 lists, and a finalist in the National Book Critic Circle Award.

We ran the first part of the interview yesterday, click here if you missed it. After the jump is part two of the chat, where we talk about the casting for Never Let Me Go, deleted scenes, what’s up next, the state of the music video industry, clarifying the Guinness Book of World Records-perpetrated lie that he was responsible for the most expensive music video ever made, why Michael Jackson/Janet Jackson‘s “Scream” cost so much, the wonders of creative producing, and what he thought of Joe Johnston‘s The Wolfman. Hit the jump to read the interview.

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Michael Jackson's Thriller

Director John Landis‘ was asked during his appearance at the BFI in London if the one-hour documentary “The Making of Michael Jackson‘s Thriller” would ever be released on DVD or Blu-ray. CHUD reports that the director confirmed that the doc, along with the remastered longform video, would be coming soon. Apparently the lawsuits and royalty issues that had been holding up such a release have been resolved following the death of the pop star.

Landis also dropped the new that the owners of Jackson’s estate want to convert the music video into 3D. Landis is apparently fine with the idea even though he might not be a fan of the technology.

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Captain EODisney Parks has confirmed that the Francis Ford Coppola-directed/George Lucas-produced Michael Jackson sci-fi action 3D musical short film Captain EO will return to Disneyland’s Tomorrowland beginning on Tuesday, February 23rd 2010.

As a tribute to the magic, music and messages of “Captain EO,” the 3-D musical adventure is returning to the Tomorrowland theater in which it debuted. While it’s not possible to replicate some special effects elements from the original presentation, it will boast a new 70mm print of the film, and it will sound better than ever thanks to acoustic enhancements made to the theater since the film last played there in 1997.

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

Rent It

SURROGATES
It’s bad, no question. But bad doesn’t necessarily mean unwatchable. At a scant 88 minutes, Surrogates doesn’t linger on a single idea long enough to be boring. Swap out “boring” with “interesting”, and the same point stands. There was undeniably potential here for a vastly better film, one which more creatively explores this world and more thoughtfully examines the many questions that Surrogates only touches on before rushing to hit the next derivative action movie beat. If you’re willing to accept that the movie isn’t going to do that, it should suffice as cheesily enjoyable formula trash. Hopefully you liked I, Robot, because it’s pretty much the same movie.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – A commentary with director Jonathan Mostow. Blu-ray – Includes everything on the DVD, as well as 2 featurettes (“A More Perfect You: The Science of Surrogates”, “Breaking the Frame: A Graphic Novel Comes to Life”), and 4 deleted scenes.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$16.99 $16.99 $15.77
Amazon – $16.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$24.99 $24.99 $24.77
Amazon – $23.49

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