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TrekMovie.com Sci-Fi Movies Thursday: Kick-Ass, The Avengers, Spider-Man, Iron Man 2, Green Lantern + more

Cross-posted at TrekMovie.com

In this week’s Sci-Fi Movies column Joss Whedon is back and directing The Avengers, The Spider-man teenboot has a name (and more rumors), Green Lantern’s suit is going CG,  , Branagh is giving the goods on Thor, Iron Man 2 is poised for hugeness, and Kick-Ass heads to theaters (and controversy). All that and more, including the latest box office numbers, casting bites, images and videos.

GENRE MOVIE NEWS

Joss Whedon will direct (and re-write) Marvel’s The Avengers

On April 1st IESB reported that Joss Whedon was at the top of Marvel’s short list to direct “The Avengers” and now Deadline New York’s Mike Fleming is reporting that Whedon is in final negotiations to direct the film:

I’m told Marvel Studios is in final negotiations for Buffy the Vampire Slayer series architect Joss Whedon to direct Marvel Studios’ The Avengers. That’s the fast-tracked film that would amount to an all-star team of Marvel superheros, including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), as well as SHIELD leader Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Other signature superheros will likely be involved, but I’ve listed the actors in active superhero duty.

In related news, Variety’s report on the deal notes that Whedon will also rework Zak Penn’s script and Pajiba adds from their source that Whedon will also do a polish on the “The First Avenger: Captain America” script:

Apparently Whedon’s role in the Marvel film universe may expand even further, as he’s also likely to be tasked with doing a polish on the Captain America script. At this point, we know the general news about Captain America — Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans) undergoes a secret super soldier experiment during WWII and becomes Captain America. During a battle with The Red Skull (played by Hugo Weaving), he ends up frozen in ice, only to re-emerge during the modern era (where, presumably, he’ll eventually meet up with Tony Stark, Nick Fury, Thor, and the rest of the gang).

On the casting side, British actress Hayley Atwell (“The Prisoner”) will play Peggy Carter, the female lead, opposite Chris Evans (Steve Rogers / Captain America) and Sebastian Stan — who at one point was one of the rumored actors on the shortlist to play Captain America — will instead play Captain America’s sidekick Bucky. “The Avengers” is scheduled to hit theaters on May 4, 2012 (preceded by ‘Captain America’ on July 22, 2011).

Spider-Man: Begin Again (?) casting rumors

A few days ago HitFix reported that Logan Lerman was the frontrunner to play Peter Parker in Marc Webb’s “Spider-Man” reboot scheduled to hit 3D theaters on July 3, 2012.  However, the casting rumor was shortly denied by Sony in a report by Deadline New York’s Mike Fleming. HitFix’s Drew McWeeny is standing by the story, but now IESB is reporting another actor has emerged as a candidate; Josh Hutcherson (“Journey to the Center of the Earth”, “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant”). In related news, the film’s title is reportedly “Spider-Man: Begin Again”.

Confirmed: Green Lantern’s suit will be CG

Through a post on his Twitter account, Geoff Johns seems to confirm /Film’s scoop that Ryan Reynolds’ suit in “Green Lantern” will be CG:

The rumor is that Ryan’s #GreenLantern uniform will be CGI — hell, yeah it will be! Generated from his ring in Ivan Reis-like glory!! :)

Here’s what /Film originally reported:

The suit that Ryan wears on set is a grey tracking motion/performance capture suit with led lights. I’ve heard that Ryan Reynolds has been joking on set that Warner Bros is going to make him into a Na’vi when the final cut is released. His joke, not mine. The Green Lantern suit you will see in the final film will be almost entirely created using computers.

That’s right — Green Lantern’s suit will be mostly CG!

/Film also offered a few other bites they’ve learned from the production:

  • That leaked set photo of the silver ship is indeed Abin Sur’s crashed spaceship
  • “Temura Morrison looks legit as Abin Sur, although his head isn’t as elongated as in the concept art photos leaked awhile back.”
  • Peter Sarsgaard’s makeup tests with the enlarged head look cool. He has wild hair, kind of like Jason Lee in “My Name is Earl” and, of course, the kind of traditional Hector Hammond stache.
  • I’m told that Reynolds is awesome in the role. He’s knocking it out of the park so far.
  • The screenplay that leaked online is a very old draft. I’ve been told that the villains have changed a bit and that the rewritten script is supposedly way better in the end.

In casting news, SuperHeroHype reports that Jon Tenney will play Hal Jordan’s dad, test pilot Martin H. Jordan. “Green Lantern” will be released in conventional and 3D theaters on June 17, 2011.

Set images [Comic Book Movie and more at SuperHeroHype]

Kenneth Branagh talks Thor

Director Kenneth Branagh is currently out in Santa Fe, New Mexico filming Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hiddleston, among others, in Marvel’s “Thor” and some details about the film’s story are starting to come out. Via the LA Times:

The story is split between Asgard, the majestic and eternal home of the Norse gods, and the modern world, which Branagh says he views more as an opportunity than a challenge.

“Inspired by the comic book world both pictorially and compositionally at once, we’ve tried to find a way to make a virtue and a celebration of the distinction between the worlds that exist in the film but absolutely make them live in the same world,” Branagh said. “It’s about finding the framing style, the color palette, finding the texture and the amount of camera movement that helps celebrate and express the differences and the distinctions in those worlds. If it succeeds, it will mark this film as different…. The combination of the primitive and the sophisticated, the ancient and the modern, I think that potentially is the exciting fusion, the exciting tension in the film.”

Branagh also talked about linking his film with the other upcoming Marvel properties, including ‘Captain America’ and “Iron Man 2″:

“It’s going very, very well,” Branagh said Wednesday. “We’re in New Mexico now where we have a contemporary Earth part of our story. I guess we’re two-thirds of the way through the story and at this stage of the game what’s surprising and delighting me is the way the cast, the ensemble, has fused together. It’s kind of an interesting combination of very young and very experienced people and the double-up of that, it seems to me, is there is a lot of fire in the movie. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, it doesn’t try to be too solemn.”

Analysis: Iron Man 2 could beat The Dark Knight’s box office record

There’s a ton of buzz surrounding Jon Favreau’s “Iron Man 2″ (May 7), leading some to suggest the film could beat the opening weekend number ($158.4M) currently held by 2008’s “The Dark Knight” [LA Times]:

According to just-released tracking surveys, director Jon Favreau’s second installment in the Marvel franchise is showing astonishing levels of interest and awareness well ahead of its three-day opening next month. There are enough statistical indications to think that the first-weekend gross could top the $158.4-million haul for “Dark Knight”, the current record-holder for the biggest (non inflation-adjusted) opening weekend and the gold standard for movie debuts.

The LA Times notes that thanks to star Robert Downey Jr., interest appears to be very strong among women:

This year’s sequel opening on May 7 should pulverize that $98 million figure. Thanks in part to Downey, the Paramount-distributed film is drawing as much (strong) interest among women over 30 as it is among women in their 20s, the tracking surveys show. Males in their teens and 20s are so keen on the film they may as well be dressing up in an iron suit. About the only people who aren’t fully sold are teen girls, but there are signs of robustness there too.

In other news, be sure you stick around after the end credits because like the first film, “Iron Man 2″ will feature an Easter egg for the fans in the form of appearances by both [SPOILERS–highlight to view] Captain America and Thor. Rounding out this week’s “Iron Man 2″ coverage is an interview with Don Cheadle (War Machine) which you can check out here.

Viral video: Stark Expo 2010 [Official Website]

Interactive trailer [Paramount Pictures]

Watch a Chinese trailer here

New clip [Paramount Pictures]

TV spot [YouTube]

Watch another TV spot here

Promotional stills [more at Movies.SpoilerTV.com, (2) and Comic Book Resources]

Domestic and International posters [more at SCI FI Wire & Movies.SpoilerTV.com]

Disney hires Tron Legacy writers to script sequel

We’re still more than seven months away from the release of “Tron Legacy” (December 17 in conventional and 3D theaters), but according to Heat Vision blog, Disney has already hired screenwriters Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz to begin work on a sequel. Check out some of the latest viral marketing Disney has done for the film below, including footage from the WonderCon 2010 viral event reports of which you can read from the following sites: /Film | ComingSoon.net | HitFix | SCI FI Wire | io9 | Cinema Blend | AICN | CHUD.

ENCOM press conference [YouTube]

Sam Flynn’s ENCOM helicopter jump [YouTube]

Space Paranoids trailer [YouTube]

Report: Sony unhappy with “Campy” Green Hornet

There’s a report from IESB that Sony is unhappy with the results of the Michel Gondry-directed / Seth Rogen-starring “Green Hornet”:

Sony executives are displeased with the results. The tone is too campy, they’re not happy with the work from director Michel Gondry, and Seth Rogen does not look the part. At all. In fact, the feeling at Sony is the movie is a disaster.

“Green Hornet” is scheduled to hit theaters on December 22, 2010.

David Slade to shoot ‘Eclipse’ pickups + Bill Condon to direct ‘Breaking Dawn’?

Director David Slade is heading back to Vancouver to film a few pick up shots, not reshot scenes as was initially reported by Canadian gossip site Lainey Gossip, for Summit Entertainment’s “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” which hits theaters this June 30. HitFix expands on the initial report with more details and clarifications:

HitFix has learned that Slade, who is currently overseeing the film’s score in London, would be headed to Vancouver himself to film what are obvstentively pick up shots, not reshot scenes. Pick up shots are cut into already completed scenes and can be necessary because of anything from bad lighting, a faulty print or a missing expression or line that was determined in editing. Reshoots insinuate a completely new scene being inserted into a picture.

Additionally, a Summit spokesperson told HitFix that the shoot has been planned for months, the picture is not in “trouble” and, in fact, the studio thinks it may be the best of the three so far. Considering, this writer has heard praise for “Eclipse’s” script, that’s easy to believe. The spokesperson also noted that reshoot timing is three days or less, is not a lot of material and furthermore, they do not involve the meadow scene or any action scenes whatsoever.

In other news, Deadline New York reports that Bill Condon has emerged as the frontrunner to direct the two-part “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”:

Summit Entertainment hasn’t signed him, but I’m told that after several strong meetings, they are negotiating. Condon was among a list of A-list directors approved by Summit and Twilight author Stephenie Meyer. That list included Gus Van Sant, Sofia Coppola and Fernando Meirelles. Shooting will begin in the fall, and I heard the plan is to shoot two films back to back. That was just what my colleague Nikki Finke reported. She also wrote that Summit was looking for a big director and Dreamgirls and Gods and Monsters director Condon certainly fits that bill.

Kick-Ass opening weekend: Controversy over Hit Girl

“Kick-Ass” opens tomorrow night and while the reaction has been mostly solid (75% at Rotten Tomatoes — fun, but very violent seems to be the consensus), film critic Roger Ebert gave the film only 1/2 star and calls it “morally reprehensible”. Ebert’s criticism centers mainly around the 11-year-old character Hit Girl. Here’s just the opening paragraph of his review:

“Shall I have feelings, or should I pretend to be cool? Will I seem hopelessly square if I find Kick-Ass morally reprehensible and will I appear to have missed the point? Let’s say you’re a big fan of the original comic book, and you think the movie does it justice. You know what? You inhabit a world I am so very not interested in. A movie camera makes a record of whatever is placed in front of it, and in this case, it shows deadly carnage dished out by an 11-year-old girl, after which an adult man brutally hammers her to within an inch of her life. Blood everywhere. Now tell me all about the context.”

13-year-old actress Chloe Moretz responded to the outrage in an interview with io9:

“Younger children shouldn’t see the movie. It’s R rated for a reason. R rated is 18 and over, and if you are 18 and over, then you can take someone younger, but I wouldn’t advise it. I don’t advice it even if you’re 90 years old. I don’t think a 90-year-old, [or anyone] young or old, should say what I say, or do what I do in the movie. It’s a movie for a reason. It’s not meant to be taken as real life. I wouldn’t advise anyone to do what they see in the film — or what happens to [wannabe superhero] Kick-Ass in the film — where he gets stabbed and run over — will happen to you.”

Check out some interviews with the cast: Christopher Mintz-Plasse [CinemaBlend & io9] | Aaron Johnson [Newsarama] | Mark Strong [Cinematical]

Clip: “Birthday Present” [YouTube]

TV spot: “Little Review” [YouTube]

Watch six more TV spots: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Interview with Mark Millar talking about Kick Ass 2 [IGN]

Harrison Ford cast in Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens

“Cowboys & Aliens” director Jon Favreau more or less confirmed Latino Review’s scoop last week that Harrison Ford has been cast in the film:

“Please stop asking if Harrison Ford is in Cowboys & Aliens. Okay? He is. lease don’t tell anybody.”

Ford joins a cast that includes Daniel Craig (‘James Bond’) and Olivia Wilde (“Tron Legacy”). “Cowboys & Aliens” is based on the comic-book series of the same name and the script was penned by “Star Trek” writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman and “LOST” co-creator Damon Lindelof. It’s is scheduled to be released on July 29, 2011.

PREVIEW Videos & Images

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Clip: All I Have To Do Is Dream” [Yahoo! Movies]

TV spot [YouTube]

Avatar

Director James Cameron talks extended edition Blu-ray [SCI FI Wire]

The Chronicles of Riddick: Dead Man Walking

Concept art [Vin Diesel]

Inception

Promotional (and production) stills [more at LA Times]

The Last Airbender

Promotional stills [IGN]

The Losers

Clip [MySpace]

Piranha 3D

First official still [IGN]

Resident Evil: Afterlife

Trailer [Trailer Addict]

Shrek Forever After

Poster [ComingSoon.net]

Small

Concept art [more at /Film]

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Teaser poster [SCI FI Wire]

Splice

Trailer [YouTube]

The Thing Prequel

First set image [/Film]

Toy Story 3

New clip (Ken — voiced by Michael Keaton — introducing the toys) [Trailer Addict]

MOVIE BITES

  • “Twilight” author Stephanie Meyer has revealed that she has written a spinoff novella called “The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner”, based on a character in ‘Eclipse’.  The novella will be released for free online and will also be available in bookstores on June 5. [SCI FI Wire]
  • Principal photography for Michael Bay’s “Transformers 3″ will run from May 17th to July 1st. Shooting locations are listed as Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC, Florida, Texas, Africa, Moscow and China. [acting-auditions.org via TFW2005]
  • The Syfy channel has announced two more Saturday night movies: “Mongolian Death Worm”, starring Sean Patrick Flanery (May 8) and “Witchville”, starring Luke Goss (May 22). [SCI FI Wire]
  • “The Cabin in the Woods” star Amy Acker (“Dollhouse”) describes the Joss Whedon-scripted / Drew Goddard-directed “The Cabin in the Woods” as a creature feature: “There’s a lot of scary monsters…It’s a scary movie”… [SCI FI Wire]
  • …Co-star Fran Kranz echoed Acker’s comments and revealed that the MGM film is complete and is now in the process of being converted into 3D. “The Cabin in the Woods” is scheduled for release on January 14, 2011. [SCI FI Wire]
  • In addition to revealing that Chris Evans didn’t have to audition for the part, “The First Avenger: Captain America” director Joe Johnston revealed that Evans will be playing both Captain America as well as the 98-pound version of Steve Rogers: “Casting Captain America is really casting two roles… Steve Rogers before and after the transformation from 98 pound weakling to perfect physical specimen. I can’t divulge how we’re going to do it, but the performance will be Chris Evans from beginning to end.” [Earth’s Mightiest via io9]
  • New Regency is in negotiations to pick up Andrew Niccol’s (“Gattaca”) script “I’m.mortal”, a story “set in the not-too-distant future where the aging gene has been switched off. [Heat Vision blog]
  • “Predators” screenwriters Mike Finch and Alex Litvak have been hired by Columbia Pictures to script the studio’s “Masters of the Universe”. [Heat Vision blog]
  • Not a fan of Joe Johnston’s “Clash of the Titans”? Check out a report on what could have been over at CHUD.
  • As expected, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” has received a R-rating by the MPAA for “strong bloody horror violence, disturbing images, terror and language”. [SCI FI Wire]
  • Robert Rodriguez’s next ‘Spy Kids’ movie will be called “Spy Kids 4: Armageddon” and is scheduled to begin filming mid-July at the director’s Troublemaker Studios in Austin, Texas. The film is scheduled for release on August 19, 2011. [Production Weekly]
  • “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World” creators are trying to downplay expectations for the Edgar Wright-directed feature, including the comic book’s writer Bryan Lee O’Malley who says he’s doing so “to no avail,” adding “It’s totally out of my control.” [Variety]
  • Frank O’Connor is confident a film version of the popular video game “Halo” will happen at some point in the future: “We’re going to make a movie when the time is right,” he said. [IGN]
  • 20th Century Fox’s “Planet of the Apes” prequel (currently titled “Caesar”) will begin shooting in British Columbia in mid-July… [Production Weekly]
  • …Meanwhile Bryan Singer’s “Jack the Giant Killer” will shoot in London and Iceland beginning this July. [Production Weekly]
  • Paul W.S. Anderson is rebooting “Buck Rogers” and has revealed that they have a storyline — currently being fleshed out by “Iron Man” scribes Art Marcum and Matt Holloway — and the film will “play it straight” and be based off the comic strip… [io9]
  • …Speaking of Anderson, check out an interview with him about the 3D “Resident Evil: Afterlife” over at Shock Till You Drop
  • …And check out another interview with star Ali Larter also at Shock Till You Drop as well as a set visit at IGN.
  • Robert Zemeckis will adapt Kat Falls’ upcoming young adult novel “Dark Life”. The story is set “in a near-future world in which rising ocean levels and natural catastrophes have led some people to homestead on the ocean floor, and kids to develop supernatural powers.” [Variety]
  • “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling won’t rule out writing another novel in the series, but she wouldn’t tackle the novel until sometime down the line, “maybe 10 years from now,” she said. [Washington Post]
  • “The Losers” director Sylvain White confirmed rumors that he is interested in directing a feature-film version of the 1980s animated sci-fi series “Robotech”: “I read a draft that’s really good. … I’m interested in doing it, but the project is not fast tracked or anything like that, so there’s no official thing. There’s no deal.” [SCI FI Wire]
  • A new trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender” will be attached to “Iron Man 2″, when it hits theaters on May 7. [SCI FI Wire]
  • The next “Chronicles of Riddick” film currently carries the title “The Chronicles of Riddick: Dead Man Stalking”. Check out a script review over at Corona Coming Attractions.
  • “Real Steel” director Shawn Levy says the film will not be 3D. [MTV Movies blog]
  • “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” star Hugh Jackman is very happy with the script for the sequel, calling it “the best one we’ve had.” Jackman also said that some of the film will “definitely” be shot in Japan. [MTV]
  • DreamWorks Animation will convert the first three “Shrek” films to 3D for a an upcoming 3D Blu-ray Disc release… [THR]
  • …In the same article DWA CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg pointed out that George Lucas is looking to converting “Star Wars” to 3D (confirming that long-standing rumor).
  • Darren Aronofsky’s “Robocop” is reportedly still in development, but original star Peter Weller, doesn’t think the original will ever be topped: “The combination of action and myth and humanity and humor, all those things wrapped into one in a perfectly constructed script. I don’t think they’re going to do anything better but I certainly wish them  well to do something as good.” [io9]
  • Check out an extensive feature on Christopher Nolan’s upcoming psychological sci-fi thriller “Inception” over at the LA Times
  • …Meanwhile, Warner Brothers has launched a new viral website at PASIVDevice.com which leads users to an online alternate-reality game at Mind-Crime.com.

CASTING BITES

  • Previously on TrekMovie.com: Anton Yelchin To Star In ‘Fright Night’ Remake
  • Previously on TrekMovie.com: Anton Yelchin Adds Voice To New Smurfs Movie
  • Sharlto Copley (“District 9″) is in talks to play the lead in DreamWorks’ adaptation of the upcoming James Frey / Jobie Hughes science fiction novel “I Am Number Four”… [Heat Vision blog]
  • …Alex Pettyfer is also in negotiations to star in the film. [Heat Vision blog]
  • “The Last Airbender” executive producer Frank Marshall has now chimed in on the race controversy surrounding the casting around the film. [UGO]
  • Taylor Kitsch (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, “John Carter of Mars”) has been cast in Peter Berg’s alien-themed adaptation of the Hasbro board game “Battleship”… [Heat Vision blog]
  • …Also joining the cast will be Tom Arnold (“True Lies”), who also revealed that the film is scheduled to begin shooting this August in Australia. “Battleship” is scheduled to hit theaters on May 25, 2012. [Movieline]
  • Adam Baldwin (“Chuck”, “Firefly”) says he would like to reprise his role as Major Mitchell (with a promotion, of course) in any upcoming “Independence Day” sequels. [io9]
  • Teresa Palmer won’t confirm or deny earlier reports that she has been cast in George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road”. [MTV]
  • Kevin Dunn and Julie White have signed deals to reprise their roles as Ron Witwicky and Julie Witwicky, respectively, in Michael Bay’s “Transformers 3″. [Variety]
  • Olivia Thirlby (“Juno”) has been cast in Summit Entertainment’s alien invasion film “The Darkness”. Timur Bekmambetov (“Wanted”) is producing with Tom Jacobson. [Reuters]

MISC Videos & Images

Star Wars Uncut: A New Hope

Trailer [details at Star Wars Uncut]

Star Wars

Han Solo soap [Luxury Lane Soap via SCI FI Wire]

Phantom Menace reviewer takes on Episode II – Attack of the Clones [YouTube]

Watch all nine parts here

Tron

South Park Tron parody [Comedy Central]

Follow Russ on his blog: Your Entertainment Now and on Twitter: Twitter.com/YourEntNow.

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