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TrekMovie.com Sci-Fi Movies Thursday: Predators, X-Men, Kick-Ass, Captain America, The Hobbit, Ghostbusters III + more

I’ve missed a lot of news this week so I’m cross -posting my TrekMovie.com Sci-Fi Movies article.  There’s a lot of great news so enjoy.

In this week’s Sci-Fi Movies column we have info the next X-Men and Planet of the Apes movies, Captain America and Conan casting news, first impressions of Predators and Kick-Ass, and much more. All that and more, including the latest box office numbers, casting bites, images and videos after the jump.

Cross-posted from TrekMovie.com

GENRE MOVIE NEWS

Bryan Singer talks X-Men: First Class and X-Men 4
“X-Men First Class”
director Bryan Singer talked to the LA Times about the upcoming film. Singer says the film will focus on the moment in time when the relationship between Professor X and Magneto soured, as well as the beginning of the school for mutants which means younger incarnations of some characters including Cyclps, Jean Grey and the Beast (but he was noncommittal with regards to whether Hugh Jackman might appear as Wolverine).  Here’s some more of what Singer had to say:

“Just doing younger mutants is not enough. The story needs to be more than that. I love the relationship between Magneto and Xavier, these two men who have diametrically opposite points of view but still manage to be friends — to a point. They are the ultimate frenemies.”

The article also talks about the possibility of a fourth “X-Men” film, although Singer and producer Lauren Shuler Donner have put that off for the time being:

“Hold that one off for just a little, I’m fixated on the other one right now,” Singer said. “I will, I will … I’m holding it open with high hopes. It’s totally different [from ‘First Class’] and it will be so interesting for you,” Shuler Donner answered.

Predators SXSW impressions + Teaser trailer and poster
Some footage from Nimród Antal’s “Predators” was screened during SXSW over the weekend and 20th Century Fox has released a two-minute behind the scenes preview with producer Robert Rodriguez [Trailer Addict]:

The teaser trailer has been released and is embedded below.

Here’s what Adrien Brody had to say about being chosen as the film’s lead:

“I know I’m not the obvious choice, i get that. I probably wouldn’t have even been on the studio’s list, even near the bottom. You can ask Robert, I’m very persistent. I’m very focused. I give my word that I know what I need to do to deliver a level of truth and authenticity with a role like this. I put on 25 pounds for this role, but that wasn’t the point — they didn’t hire me to be a body-builder. But in order to playful with it as well I should be strapped, but it’s not the physical strength that outsmarts an alien with energy-based weapons and higher tracking skills, and a culture of hunting and trophy-hunting, you have to outsmart them.”

Here are a few excerpts from various sites’ (SCI FI Wire (2), (3) | io9 | Shock Till You Drop | Heat Vision (2) | MTV ) coverage of the SXSW screening/panel:

  • Rodriguez confirmed that the film will be Rated R.
  • Greg Nicotero, who worked on the original “Predator”, was brought on board to help the Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios FX crew.
  • There will be various types of Predators in the film: falconer predator, a flushing predator and a dog handling predator.
  • The film is meant to be a real sequel to the original, and there is a direct dialogue reference to the events of the first film.
  • Two tribes of Predators: Desert Nomad (armor-wearing) and Berserker (purely natural skin without high-tech armor).
  • 3D was discussed but Rodriguez feels it’s better to shoot natively in 3D so he didn’t want to convert it.
  • The plan is definitely to make more if this one does well.
  • The trailer will likely be attached to this Friday’s “Repo Men”.

Be sure to check out the links referenced above for more details. “Predators’ is scheduled to hit theaters on July 9, 2010.

Official teaser poster [/Film]

Rupert Wyatt to direct Planet of the Apes prequel + Story details
20th Century Fox continues to move forward with their “Planet of the Apes” prequel. As you may remember, Scott Frank was on board the project as director and writer but left after creative differences. Shortly thereafter Fox insisted that they were still moving forward with the project and now Deadline New York is reporting that Rupert Wyatt (“The Escapist”) has been hired to direct the project from a script written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. In related news, CHUD has some new details about the project, which is currently called “Caesar: Rise of the Apes”:

Like Scott Frank’s version, Caesar: Rise of the Apes is centered on genetic research. Will is a doctor trying to cure Alzheimers, a disease that afflicts his father. He’s working with monkeys to create a benign virus that can get into brain tissue and restore functionality. After his research is shut down he’s left with just one chimp, the child of his most promising subject, and Will raises him at home. Young Caesar is incredibly intelligent for an ape, and over time he continues to mutate and evolve, looking less like a chimp and moving on from sign language to actual speech. Eventually Caesar ends up leading an army of apes in an uprising just as a catastrophe strikes mankind.

More spoiler-filled details at CHUD.

Tatum and Phillippe in consideration for Captain America; Weaving joins cast
A few more ‘Captain America’ casting updates to get caught up on. Deadline New York is reporting that Marvel Studios and director Joe Johnston have added Channing Tatum to their list of potentials, while HitFix is reporting that Ryan Philippe is also now in consideration for the role. Adding in prior reports — Chris Evans, Mike Vogel, Garrett Hedlund and Wilson Bethel — the field of nominees for the role has expanded to six. Deadline is also reporting that Marvel is also testing leads for the female role of Peggy. Those in consideration for the role are Keira Knightley, Alice Eve and Emily Blunt. In more concrete casting news, THR’s Heat Vision blog is reporting that Marvel has settled on Hugo Weaving to play the villain Red Skull.

In the Marvel comics, Red Skull has been Captain America’s archenemy since 1941, when he engaged in espionage and sabotage as Hitler’s right-hand man. In his final battle with the superhero, he was buried under the rubble of a bombed building but—as would occur later with Captain America—fell into a state of suspended animation. Both were revived in modern times.

“The First Avenger: Captain America” is scheduled to hit theaters on July 22, 2011.  The film starts shooting in London this June.

Perlman replaces Rourke on Conan + Rose McGowan cast
Last week it was reported that Mickey Rourke had signed onto Universal’s “The War of the Gods”. That resulted in the actor having to drop out of Marcus Nispel’s “Conan” which he was in negotiations in to play Conan’s father Corin. Variety has now confirmed Vulture‘s scoop that Ron Perlman (“Hellboy”) has replaced the actor in the role.  In related news, Rose McGowan (“Grindhouse”) and Said Taghmaoui (“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”) have also joined the film. McGowan will play an evil half-human/half-witch and Taghmaoui is playing a leader of thieves who is saved by Conan (played by “Stargate: Atlantis” actor Jason Momoa). “Conan” is scheduled to begin shooting this week in Bulgaria.

Columbia wants younger director for Ghostbusters III – Reitman fights back
“Ghostbusters”
/ “Ghostbusters II” director Ivan Reitman is currently attached to direct Columbia’s “Ghostbusters III”, but NY Mag’s Vulture blog is reporting that the studio is hoping to get someone younger to direct the film. Unfortunately for the studio, Reitman has a contract in place that gives him near total creative control:

“…a source tells us that Reitman and all three original principals (Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Harold Ramis … sorry, Ernie Hudson!) have a deal that says that if any of the four of them don’t like any element of a new Ghostbusters, they can singlehandedly veto and kill the project; it has to be unanimously approved before going forward. (Considering that both Aykroyd and Ramis have been consulting on the story, Murray is likely the only unknown quantity on the actors’ side.) However, the key difference is that Columbia would love for these actors to be onboard to pass the torch and cross the streams. Not so with Reitman.”

The second draft, penned by “The Office” writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, is expected to be handed into the studio this May.

Kick-Ass: SXSW screening impressions + New trailer
“Kick-Ass”
director Matthew Vaughn, Mark Millar, writer of the comic and screenplay and stars Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse were on hand at a SXSW panel over the weekend where the film was screened. Most of the impressions were incredibly favorable. Here are some highlights from various reports: [Heat Vision | io9 | SCI FI Wire]

  • A franchise is definitely hoped for. The film ends with a note with a nod to a follow-up that echoes the first “Spider-Man” by quoting a line from Tim Burton’s “Batman”.
  • The script makes direct or indirect references to several films/franchises including: Jason Bourne, Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, Wolverine, Scott Pilgrim, Ditko’s Spider-Man comics, Kill Bill, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Lost, Sin City and American Beauty.
  • Vaughn says that he wasn’t happy with an early cut of the film and went back for a 10-day shoot about six months after production wrapped to shoot more fighting sequences.
  • The film is violent, but there’s not as much blood as expected.
  • Not a direct copy of the comic series: “The episodic nature of comics meant I had to have an eight-act story, had to have reveals and twists that would have messed up the nature of the film,” Millar said during the panel. “Big Daddy’s story in the comic book … would’ve ruined the movie. Likewise, the jetpack scene wouldn’t have worked in the comic. It was only two or three real diversions it took, but it was just necessary.”

One of the first reviews for the film comes from IGN UK who gave it 5/5.  Here are their concluding remarks:

…Kick-Ass is as good a superhero movie as has yet been made — storytelling of the very highest order, crafted by experts who know, love and treat the subject matter with the respect it deserves.

The result is utterly compelling from start-to-finish; an adaptation that perfectly captures the anarchic nature of the comic while at the same time eliciting unexpected emotions from a film about a crime-fighting kid in a wet-suit.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll squeal in delight at the outrageous behaviour of a little girl in a purple cape. But most of all, you’ll wish that all superhero movies were like this.

Lastly, Lionsgate has released a new trailer for the film which you can see below along with some of the latest posters. “Kick-Ass” is scheduled to hit theaters on April 16, 2010.

Movie trailer #2 [Trailer Addict]

Kick-Ass, Red Mist and Hit Girl posters [MTV, (2), (3)]

Avatar DVD/Blu-ray coming April 22 + Extended re-release this fall?
20th Century Fox has confirmed that “Avatar” will be released on DVD and Blu-ray this April 22nd, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. As originally reported, this will be a “bare-bones” 2D only release of the film. A 3D and value-added DVD/Blu-ray is expected to follow sometime next year. 20th Century Fox has also issued release dates for other countries (see them here). In other news, director James Cameron told USA Today that the studio is considering re-releasing the film theatrically — potentially in an extended cut — this fall:

The wildcard is that we might be re-releasing the movie this fall. It’s kind of gotten stomped out (in theaters) because of Alice in Wonderland. The word we’re getting back from exhibitors is we probably left a couple of hundred million dollars on the table as a result. The question is the appetite still going to be there after the summer glut of movies. We’re going to assess that. We’re talking about maybe adding in additional footage and doing something creative.

On the box office front, “Avatar” took in $6.5M over the weekend (down less than 20% from the weekend prior–despite losing nearly 450 theaters). Through Wednesday it’s at $732.2M domestically and an estimated $1.9B overseas for a worldwide cume of $2.64B worldwide.

The Hobbit starts shooting in July
Ian McKellen’s official website has been updated to report that filming on the two “Hobbit” movies will begin this July in New Zealand:

HE HOBBIT’s, two films, start shooting in New Zealand in July. Filming will take over a year. Casting in Los Angeles, New York City and London has started. The script too proceeds. The first draft is crammed with old and new friends, again on a quest in Middle Earth.

The director Guillermo del Toro is now living in Wellington, close to the Jacksons’ and the studio in Miramar.

McKellen’s website actually originally listed June as the start of filming — which was in-line with Production Weekly’s January tweet — but was edited to July shortly thereafter.

PREVIEW Videos & Images

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Standee [Shock Till You Drop]

George Romero’s Survival of the Dead

Promotional stills [more at IGN]

Green Lantern

Ryan Reynolds on the set [CBM]

Iron Man 2

War Machine collectible figure [Hot Toys on Facebook via io9]

Megamind

Teaser trailer [Yahoo! Movies]

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Book trailer [YouTube]

Priest

On the set/first look [YouTube]

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Featurette: “Destiny – Jack Gyllenhaal” [YouTube]

Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World

Teaser poster [Scott Pilgrim The Movie]

Shrek Forever After

Movie trailer #2 [Trailer Addict]

Toy Story 3

Standee, international and new character (“Sparks”) posters [ComingSoon.net / The Pixar Blog / Latino Review]

Tron Legacy

Set images [more at /Film]

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Teaser trailer [Trailer Addict]

MOVIE BITES

  • Previously on TrekMovie.com: Michael Giacchino To Score ‘John Carter of Mars’
  • “Sharktopus” isn’t the only Syfy Saturday Night movie on tap this year.  Syfy has announced complete plans for their 2010 TV movie slate which includes 23 others including “Lake Placid 3″ starring Colin Ferguson (“Eureka”). [Syfy]
  • Summit Entertainment is reportedly considering several high-profile directors to take on “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”. They include Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”), Gus Van Saint (“Milk”) and Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls”). Summit is expected to deliver screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg’s detailed outline to the directors sometime next week. [EW]
  • The estate of comic book icon Jack Kirby have officially filed a lawsuit against Marvel to terminate copyrights and gain profits from several of Kirby’s works including Iron Man, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man. [THR, esq.]
  • Universal’s “The Thing” prequel has officially been greenlit by the studio and will begin shooting this Friday. [LA Times’ The Big Picture blog]
  • Kristen Wiig talks about her role in Simon Pegg’s “Paul” in a new interview with io9.
  • “Zombieland 2″ director Ruben Fleischer says that the movie’s 3D won’t be used as a gimmick: “We’re writing it with 3-D in mind,” Fleischer said. “I took the writers to the 3-D workshop. We’re really going to try and make it something that’s intentional, as opposed to some of the movies where it’s just another component to market or a way to make more money at the box office”. [SCI FI Wire]
  • Director Robert Rodriguez has turned in a script for his “Spy Kids” reboot which will focus on a new group of kids. [SCI FI Wire]
  • Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” staved off four new releases to finish in an easy first place over the weekend, taking in $62.7M.  Through Wednesday, ‘Alice’ is at $226.1M domestically (worldwide the film is at an estimated $447.1M). [BOM]
  • After 2011’s “Mars Needs Mars”, Disney is shuttering Robert Zemeckis’ motion-capture studio ImageMovers Digital. The reason is quite simple: weak profits. Zemeckis’ films are always expensive (last year’s “The Christmas Carol” for instance grossed just $137.9M domestically with a budget of $200M–although foreign numbers were better, they still weren’t enough to turn a profit). [New York Times]
  • Director David Fincher is shopping a new version of “Heavy Metal” considered to be more appealing to the masses. The project will reportedly see James Cameron (“Avatar”) directing one segment, Zack Snyder (“300″) another and Fincher also directing one himself.  [Deadline New York]
  • Warner Brothers has picked up a treatment titled “Leonardo da Vinci and the Soldiers of Forever”. The project “re-imagines Da Vinci as a member of a secret society who falls headlong into a supernatural adventure that pits the man against Biblical demons in a story involving secret codes, lost civilizations, hidden fortresses and fallen angels.” [THR]
  • DreamWorks has hired Drew Goddard (“Cloverfield”) to adapt Daniel H. Wilson’s upcoming novel “Robopocalypse” and Steven Spielberg may direct. [Deadline New York]
  • Tim Burton (“Alice in Wonderland”) will direct a 3D stop-motion animated film based on Charles Addams’ original cartoon drawings of “The Addams Family”. [Deadline New York]
  • “The Green Hornet” director Michel Gondry has revealed that a trailer for the the film should be out by this spring or summer. The film is scheduled to hit theaters on December 22, 2010… [MTV Splashpage]
  • …Gondry also made clear that he’s proud of his original vision and doesn’t appreciate people suggesting that he’s not doing it the way it should be done: “If people think we owe to follow the rule of a comic book, there is no comic book of The Green Hornet, so f–k that. I’m sorry, but I don’t owe anything to any aficionado of the comic book. I’m doing a film.” [SCI FI Wire]
  • Akiva Goldsman has boarded Paramount’s “Paranormal Activity 2″ (October 22, 2010) as executive producer, but not as a director as was previously rumored. Goldsman will also help to “flesh out the story”. [Deadline New York]
  • Summit Entertainment has picked up “The Last Witch Hunter”, a pitch by “Priest” writer Cory Goodman. Timur Bekmambetov (“Wanted”) is on board as a producer and could direct. [Deadline New York]
  • “Clash of the Titans” writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi talk about how they approached the film for the new millennium: “All those signature creatures are there; we wanted to do that. I think the way the action is pulled off is different”, Hay said. “We focused on the interactions between the men and gods, and the journey of Perseus. He’s a demigod…Our feeling is that he resists the god side of him. He chooses the side that is a man,” added Manfredi. [io9]
  • Russell Mulcahy, director of MTV’s upcoming “Teen Wolf” remake, defends the project against fan concerns of taking on the popular 80s film: “I’ve heard this, I haven’t read it, but I’ve heard this and let me assure you – I mean we are not screwing around with the obviously very much beloved 80s Michael J. Fox classic, we are not doing that.” [Den of Geek]
  • Edward Norton doesn’t think Marvel will move forward with a sequel to “The Incredible Hulk”: “I don’t think so. I think it has got more to do with what Marvel is doing. I get the sense they have this grand vision of unspooling a lot of their characters and then starting to put them together.” [Cinematical]
  • Visits to the set of Disney’s “Tron Legacy” took place last summer and embargoes are only now being lifted. Here are links to the various set reports and interviews with the cast and crew [/Film (2) (3) (4), Hit Fix (2), ComingSoon.net and SCI FI Wire]

CASTING BITES

  • Ellen Page (“Inception”) will star in Michel Gondry’s time-travel movie which he hopes to take-on after “The Green Lantern”. [MTV Movies blog]
  • Robert Downey Jr. is in negotiations to star in Alfonso Cuaron’s 3D space film “Gravity”. [Deadline New York]
  • Evan Rachel Wood has dropped out of the Broadway musical “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark”. She was to play Mary Jane Watson in the show. Wood dropped out because of a scheduling conflict. [Variety]
  • Sam Worthington (“Avatar”) has reportedly signed on to an adaptation of the British sci-fi comic property “Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future”. [Pajiba]
  • Eric Roberts has signed on to star in Roger Corman’s Syfy Original Movie “Sharktopus”. [Syfy]
  • Jason Segal will star as the human lead in Disney’s upcoming “Muppets” movie. Segal co-wrote the script with Nicholas Stoller and has also boarded the project as one of its producers. [Heat Vision blog]
  • Sigourney Weaver (“Avatar”) has joined the cast of Amy Heckerling’s new vampire feature film “Vamps”.  Weaver will play the role of Ciccerus, a “bloodthirsty ‘stem’ vampire who has created a dynasty.” The film starts production this May. [ComingSoon.net]
  • Get paid $200/day to be an extra in Michael Bay’s “Transformers 3″. The ad was placed on Craigslist. [via Collider]
  • DreamWorks and “Real Steel” director Shawn Levy have tapped 11-year-old Dakota Goya for the part of Hugh Jackman’s son in the futuristic robot boxing drama. [THR]
  • Hank Azaria will play Gargamel in Raja Gosnell’s 3D live-action/animated “Smurfs” movie…
  • …Also, Jayma Mays (“Heroes”) will play the pregnant wife to Neil Patrick Harris’ character. Production on the film is slated to begin next month. [EW & Neil Patrick Harris]
  • Filmmaker-actor Taika Waititi and ‘Attack of the Clones’ star Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett) have joined the cast of Martin Campbell’s 3D “Green Lantern”. Waititi will play the best friend of Hal Jordan / Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds) while Morrison will play Abin Sur, a member of the Green Lantern corps. [THR’s Heat Vision blog]
  • Not unexpected, but at ShoWest 2010 Josh Duhamel revealed that he has spoken with director Michael Bay and will return for “Transformers 3″.  Duhamel also revealed that the script for the film is done and shooting will begin this summer. [ComingSoon.net]
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