Friday, January 29, 2010

Have a Drink on Tony Stark

Sure, most people probably associate Iron Man with Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man,” a song that has absolutely nothing to do with the Marvel superhero but kicks ass nevertheless. However, it looks like AC/DC have become ol’ shellhead’s new go-to rockers, especially when it comes to his hit movie franchise. “Back in Black” featured pretty prominently in Jon Favreau’s original Iron Man, and the soundtrack for the sequel is essentially an AC/DC greatest hits album.

AC/DC: Iron Man 2 will feature 15 tracks from 10 of the band’s studio albums from 1976 to 2008. As expected, one of those tracks is “War Machine,” one of my favorite songs off their underrated 2008 disc Black Ice. When I first heard that song, I was convinced that AC/DC wrote it specifically for Iron Man 2, in which Iron Man/Tony Stark’s pal James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle, replacing Terrence Howard) steps into the War Machine armor. Maybe I was right.

Other songs on the album include “Shoot to Thrill,” “Guns for Hire” and “Have a Drink on Me.” While Iron Man 2 opens in the U.S. on May 7, the album hits shelves on April 19.

“Music is an integral part of the Tony Stark and Iron Man experience, and we are pleased that Columbia and AC/DC are taking part in the franchise’s phenomenon,” Marvel Studios chief operating officer Tim Connors said in a statement. “Through this relationship, the band is delivering fans supercharged Iron Man-branded music through all our combined consumer touch points, from the movie to retail outlets and even virally with the debut of the new video.”

New video you say? “Shoot to Thrill,” is the debut video from the soundtrack/greatest hits collection. Watch it below. For more info, visit marvel.com or acdc.com.

George Lucas’ Next Project: A CGI Fairy Musical?

Huh? According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog, Star Wars mastermind George Lucas is producing a computer-animated musical about fairies. Yep. This is an actual thing that is actually happening. In real life.

Kevin Munroe, who directed the 2007 animated Ninja Turtles flick TMNT will helm the as-yet-unnamed project. David Berenbaum (Elf) will write the screenplay.

It’s an odd choice for Lucas, since he’s currently wrapping up far more mature film, Red Tails. In addition to writing the story, Lucas is serving as executive producer on this long-gestating World War II epic about the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American fighter pilots.

I’ve gotta give cyber props to my good friend and longtime fairy (faery? faerie?) aficionado Shannon for the tip. I bet she sees this movie three times. At least.

Click here for the full story. And please, lay off the pixie dust. We worry.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Marvel Enters a “Heroic Age” This Spring

The Marvel Universe has been through a lot over the last few years. From civil wars to secret invasions to dark reigns, Spidey, Iron Man, Wolverine and the gang just can’t seem to catch a break. But Marvel promises that things are going to get a lot a cheerier for these characters later this year with the dawn of “The Heroic Age.”

“Our heroes have experienced some of their greatest trials and tribulations recently, but now there’s going to be a renewed hope among their ranks,” Marvel’s chief creative officer and editor-in-chief Joe Quesada said in a statement. “As our heroes emerge from the darkness, the Marvel Universe is going to be a more optimistic place than we’ve seen in quite awhile. But that doesn’t mean we’re making things easy for our characters!”

While some might speculate that this shift in tone has something to do with Disney’s recent $4 billion acquisition of the comic book publisher, Quesada told USA Today that this return to Marvel’s roots, “with more of a swashbuckling feel,” has been in the works for two years. Fans need not fear that their favorite titles are being watered down.

“There is no sanitizing of the Marvel books at all,” he said. “Our philosophy here is to just keep telling good stories.”

Personally, I think this is a great idea. I’ve always thought comics should be about escapism first and foremost, and the industry tendency to contemporize classic characters by making them “dark and gritty” doesn’t always sit well with me.

“The Heroic Age” kicks off in May with the release of Avengers #1, which will reunite Thor, Captain America and Iron Man on Marvel’s premier superhero team.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Avatar Becomes the Biggest Movie of All Time

On Monday, January 25, James Cameron’s Avatar was officially crowned the all-time worldwide box office champion, Variety reports. The film toppled the $1.84 billion global box office record held by Cameron’s Titanic, which was released in 2007.

Does this mean Cameron has to send himself a congratulatory fruit basket?

In the U.S., the film has earned $551.7 million since its December 18 release, beating The Dark Knight’s record $533.3 over the weekend. That means Avatar is just $49 million shy of Titanic’s record $600.8 million.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Gremlins 3?

I’m not sure how true any of this is, so let’s approach this news/rumor with caution. MarketSaw reported on January 24 that a third Gremlins film is being discussed, and that it might be screened in “stereoscopic 3D.”

So, this would mean we’re getting a 3D Gremlins movie more than two decades after the hugely underrated Gremlins 2: The New Batch hit theaters. Given Hollywood’s obsession with rebooting and revitalizing the franchises of yesteryear, this news wouldn’t come as a huge shock.

But let’s keep in mind that MarketSaw also “broke the news” that a 3D Star Wars sequel trilogy was on its way. In other words, they’re often full of it.

Joe Dante—who directed the first two Gremlins films—has already responded to the widely circulating rumor, telling MTV News that he doesn’t “know of anything officially that’s going on” with the dormant horror/comedy series. Could this news be completely false? Or is Warner Bros. moving forward on a third movie without Dante?

Personally, I don’t see any reason why a third Gremlins wouldn’t work, provided that it has the proper tone, Dante is on board and that the gremlins themselves remain puppets for the most part. Otherwise, the film would lack much of the charm that made the first two films so fun.

As for Dante, he told MTV that he’s open to revisiting Gremlins, but he’s “not sitting by the phone.”

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pee-wee Herman Uses Toys to Reenact the Leno/Conan/NBC Debacle

I’m sure we’re all tired of hearing about the feud between late-night funnyman Conan O’Brien and NBC at this point. But, I have to say, Conan’s handling the situation pretty damn well and is really sticking it to the network (in this case they deserve it). I wish him and his masturbating bear all the best.

On the January 21 edition of The Tonight Show, Conan enlisted Pee-wee Herman and some toys to explain the legal drama behind the so-called “Late Night Wars.” Optimus Prime made a guest appearance. Comedy gold.

Watch the clip below.

PETA Honors James Cameron for Avatar

I know, I know. Yet another Avatar news story. But this announcement threw me for a loop yesterday and I just had to share. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has awarded director James Cameron with its 2010 Proggy (progressive) Award for Outstanding Feature Film.

Wait, what? I’m guessing that no (computer-generated) animals were harmed while making the film, but the honor seems a bit odd—at least on the surface.

PETA blogger Logan Scherer writes, “Through a mastery of CGI and an unparalleled script, Cameron beautifully shows that all nature is interconnected and that all beings—no matter their species or race—deserve to be treated with kindness, respect, and dignity.”

Okay, so now it makes sense. Scherer goes on to say that the visual-effects technology on display in Avatar hint at “the coming end of the use of live animals in entertainment,” which raises an interesting point about animal cruelty in film.

I’d love to be snarky about this, but it’s actually a pretty cool nod. So…congrats?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

(500) Days of Spider-Man

So, it looks like Marc Webb—who directed the indie romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer—is going to helm Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man reboot, which will hit theaters in 2012. Variety reports that Webb is only locked in for one movie at present, but since this next film will take Peter Parker back to high school, one would assume Sony has sequels in mind.

Yes, a guy named Webb is directing a Spider-Man movie. You can’t make this stuff up.

I loved (500) Days of Summer, and I’m at least confident that Webb knows how to deal with the romantic aspects of Peter Parker’s story. However, I’m not sure well he’ll handle the visual effects side of things. Spider-Man is an action-oriented character, after all. Then again, Jon Favreau was hardly an action director before Iron Man and that worked out pretty well.

Webb’s an offbeat choice, and this might turn out well. But it’s still a colossally bad idea to reboot such a popular franchise just 10 years after it started.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Avatar Inspires George Lucas to Release Star Wars in 3D

You knew it was coming. In an interview with Access Hollywood, Star Wars mastermind George Lucas revealed that the 3D technology James Cameron used to bring Avatar to life has inspired him to finally take his galaxy far, far away into the third dimension.

[“I’m] happy it’s so successful, and worked very well in 3D,” Lucas said of Avatar at the HBO Golden Globes party on January 17. “Haven’t been a big fan of 3D, but that movie definitely improves in [the field of] 3D.”

He continued, “We’ve been looking for years and years and years of trying to take Star Wars and put it in 3D. But [the] technology hasn’t been there. We’ve been struggling with it, but I think this will be a new impetus to make that happen.”

Keep your inner cynic in check, fellow fanboys. This is good news.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Avatar Blue Away the Competition at the Golden Globes

At the 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 17, James Cameron’s Avatar came away with awards for Best Motion Picture-Drama and Best Director. It looks like Cameron’s gonna need a bigger trophy case, especially since Oscar season is right around the corner.

In addition to applauding Avatar’s sweeping critical and commercial success (it just passed the $500 million mark domestically), I’d also like to extend kudos to Christoph Waltz, who took home a Golden Globe for his supporting role in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Bastards. If you haven’t seen it—and you really should—Waltz played the slimy Nazi colonel Hans Landa, one of the best screen villains in quite some time.

Click here for a full list of winners and nominees.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Michael Bay Promises Less Robots, Explosions in Transformers 3

In an interview with the Los Angeles TimesHero Complex blog, Michael Bay vowed that there would be less robots and fewer explosions in the forthcoming third Transformers film, seemingly forgetting that pyrotechnics and giant robots were among the only things that actually worked in the first two movies. However, he did say that there would be more emphasis on character this time around.

“There will be a nice crescendo ending,” Bay said. “It gets much more into the robot character. The last time you kind of met a few of the robots; this time you’re gonna get a much cooler landscape.”

Sounds great, as long as Bay lays off the toilet humor, needlessly complicated plotting, lame comedy sidekicks and not-so-subtle racism in Transformers 3 (spoiler alert: he won’t). Sure, Revenge of the Fallen grossed more than $834 million worldwide, but can you imagine how much more successful that film might have been if it didn’t insult the audience’s intelligence outright?

Transformers 3 is scheduled to hit theaters in July 2011.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Iron Man 2: The IMAX Experience Opens May 7

Marvel Entertainment and Paramount Pictures announced on January 14 that Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2 will open in IMAX theaters simultaneously with its worldwide release on May 7. The IMAX version of the film will be digitally re-mastered using IMAX DMR (Digital Re-Mastering) technology.

Bottom line? Ol’ shellhead will look and sound pretty awesome in this limited release.

“The success of the first Iron Man movie catapulted the franchise from the comic books to theatre screens, and we're excited that the IMAX format will offer fans an even more immersive way to experience the sequel," said Marvel Studios CEO Tim Connors in a statement.

Iron Man 2 stars Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell. But you knew that already.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Confirmed: Ivan Reitman to Direct Ghostbusters 3

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. At the National Board of Review red carpet in New York City, Ivan Reitman—who directed the original Ghostbusters and its much-maligned sequel—told MTV News that he will be returning to the director’s chair for the third installment.

He also confirmed that the writing team of Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (The Office) has submitted the first draft of a script.

“They have delivered a draft,” Reitman told MTV’s Josh Horowitz. “We are working our way through another draft... good work is being done and all of us have our fingers crossed.”

And so do we. But keep those expectations tempered, people. Yes, Reitman is on board, and yes, the original cast is returning, but let’s not forget that Eisenberg and Stupnitsky also lent their pens to Year One, that now-forgotten and universally panned 2009 historical comedy co-written and directed by Dr. Egon Spengler himself, Harold Ramis. Uh oh.

Reitman hinted that Ghostbusters 3 might begin shooting this year.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sony: Spider-Man 4 Is Dead

On January 11, Nikke Finke and Mike Fleming at Deadline Hollywood brokenews that following some widely publicized script problems that delayed production, Spider-Man 4 won’t be happening at all. Sony Pictures confirmed that report, announcing in a press release that it will be rebooting the franchise entirely by taking Peter Parker/Spider-Man back to high school in the next film. This means series director Sam Raimi and its star, Tobey Maguire, will not be involved.

Keep in mind that the first Spider-Man came out in 2002. This reboot is apparently scheduled for a 2012 release. That’s just a decade later.

“Working on the Spider-Man movies was the experience of a lifetime for me,” Raimi said in a statement. “While we were looking forward to doing a fourth one together, the studio and Marvel have a unique opportunity to take the franchise in a new direction, and I know they will do a terrific job.”

Really?

“A decade ago we set out on this journey with Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire and together we made three Spider-Man films that set a new bar for the genre,” said Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures. “When we began, no one ever imagined that we would make history at the box office and now we have a rare opportunity to make history once again with this franchise. Peter Parker as an ordinary young adult grappling with extraordinary powers has always been the foundation that has made this character so timeless and compelling for generations of fans.”

This sounds terrible. No, thanks.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Another Trek Scheduled for June, 2012

We’ve known for quite some time that director J.J. Abrams is planning a sequel to Star Trek—one of 2009’s best films—but fans have been in the dark as to when the next voyage of the U.S.S. Enterprise will take place. According to Box Office Mojo, Paramount Pictures has set an official release date for the unnamed film: June 29, 2012.

Abrams hasn’t revealed what the new Trek will be about or whether he’ll direct it, but he did tell MTV News last fall that he doesn’t “want to approach the second film as a remake of episodes we’ve seen in the past” and that “nothing is off limits in terms of what we’re discussing.”

Beam us up, J.J.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Zombieland Writers Mobilize for G.I. Joe 2, Deadpool

I might be in the minority on this, but I actually really liked Stephen Sommers’ G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. It was dumb and ludicrously cheesy at times, but it was also far more enjoyable than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, last year’s other mindless, toy-based summer blockbuster.

Despite near-universal criticism, G.I. Joe was moderately successful, bringing in more than $300 million worldwide not counting revenue earned through home video sales and merchandising. As one might expect, Paramount Pictures is readying a sequel.

IESB.com reports that Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick—who wrote the uproariously entertaining horror comedy Zombieland—are on hand to write G.I. Joe 2.

Do these names seem familiar? If you’ve been following movie news recently, you might have read that Reese and Wernick are also penning Deadpool, a film based on the popular Marvel Comics character.

Great writing was one of Zombieland’s many strengths, so this is promising news for fans who vehemently exclaimed “No, Joe!” when the first G.I. Joe movie hit theaters last August.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Spider-Man 4 Delayed Due to Script Problems

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sam Raimi’s fourth installment in the Spider-Man franchise probably won’t be hitting theaters on its scheduled May 6, 2011 release date due to script complications. Although, if you ask me, this series had script complications even before Spider-Man 3 started filming. Yes, that movie is still an easy target.

Apparently, Raimi and the studio, Sony Pictures, have differing opinions on who the Spider-Man 4 villain should be. While Raimi wants to feature winged classic Spidey villain the Vulture, the studio has another baddie in mind and is calling for a romantic subplot involving the web-slinger’s sultry sometimes-sweetheart, Black Cat.

Studio meddling in a Spider-Man movie? Why is this familiar? By the way, Venom says hi. Oh wait, no he doesn’t. He’s dead.

Spider-Man 4 has already had a swarm of writers take a crack at the script, including James Vanderbilt (Zodiac), Gary Ross (Seabiscuit) and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole).

Paramount Pictures has moved another Marvel superhero adaptation, Thor, into the now-vacant May 6 slot. Meanwhile, Disney—which now owns Marvel Entertainment—has placed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Strange Tides in Thor’s previous May 20 slot.

George Lucas Pays a Visit to The Daily Show

While writing this might offend Star Wars fans who are still nursing prequel-related emotional wounds, I’ve gotta say: George Lucas seems like a really cool guy when you get right down to it. Don’t believe me? Watch him hold his own in this clip from the January 5 broadcast of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, during which he self-effacingly discusses the prequel backlash, the power of nostalgia and, yes, even Jar Jar Binks. He also talks up his new book, George Lucas’s Blockbusting.

“I love doing Star Wars,” he says. “At the beginning I thought it was going to be one little movie [and I’d] move on. It’s not at all what I expected my life to be.”

A few moments later, he jokingly adds, “I expected to turn into something great. But, you know, you take what you get.”


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Avatar Earns More Than $1 Billion Worldwide

Admittedly, I doubted Avatar in the months leading up to its release, largely due to the underwhelming theatrical trailers that did little to showcase the overall look and scope of the 3D sci-fi epic. But, like many of you out there, I wound up loving it and will probably see it again while it’s in theaters.

The Associated Press
reports that James Cameron’s technological gamble has paid off in a big way: the film has earned more than $1 billion worldwide. Cameron is now the only director to have two films pass the $1 billion mark internationally. His last film, Titanic, earned $1.8 billion worldwide in 2007. It should be noted that ticket prices for 3D screenings, which account for about 75 percent of Avatar’s business, are a few dollars higher than 2D screenings.

Domestically, Avatar raked in $68.3 million to top this weekend’s box office, bringing its U.S. total to $352.1 million in just 17 days. Wow.

Click here to read my full Avatar review.

Disney Finalizes Marvel Acquisition

Back in August, Disney announced it would be purchasing Marvel Entertainment and its more than 5,000 characters for about $4 billion, but it wasn’t until December 31 that the deal became official. Mouse ears and Hulk Hands for everyone!

“We’re thrilled to welcome to the Disney family the talented team at Marvel,” Disney President and CEO Robert A. Iger said in a statement. “We believe the creative and business potential of this combination is substantial and can help us grow both our top and bottom line, leading to a significant increase in long-term shareholder value.”

While some comic book fans might be skeptical about this acquisition, fearing that Disney will compromise Marvel’s creative freedom, it’s surprising that these companies didn’t pair up sooner. I doubt I’m the only one who’s noticed some unsettling similarities between the Hellfire Club and the Mickey Mouse Club…

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Peter Jackson Knighted in New Zealand

While Patrick Stewart was being knighted in the United Kingdom earlier this week, Oscar-winning director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and fellow geek icon Peter Jackson became Sir Peter Jackson in New Zealand, BBC News reports.

“I didn’t think anything would surpass the 2004 Academy Awards, but I was wrong,” the filmmaker said in a statement, referring to The Return of the King’s 11 Oscar wins that year including Best Picture and Best Director. “The feeling of gratitude and pride I have in accepting this honor from my home country is profound.”

Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, based on the 2002 novel by Alice Sebold, will get a wide release in the United States on January 15.