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TrekMovie.com Sci-Fi Movies Thursday: The Hobbit, Men in Black 3D, Batman 3, Iron Man 2, Avatar + more [UPDATED]

Cross-posted at TrekMovie.com

In this week’s Sci-Fi Movies column we have news of the return of Avatar (and the sequel). Plus news on The Hobbit scripts, a 3-D decision for the next Batman, timing on the Green Lantern trailer, Star Wars Blu-ray info, Iron Man 2 details and previews, and more. Plus the latest box office numbers, casting bites, images and videos. [UPDATED: More news and videos added]

GENRE MOVIE NEWS

Avatar theatrical re-release this August; Sequel will focus on the oceans of Pandora
James Cameron has confirmed that “Avatar” will be re-released in theaters this August with six additional minutes of footage [LA Times]:

We’re working on finishing an additional six minutes of the film — which includes a lot of Weta work — for a theatrical re-release in August. We were sold out of our Imax performances right up to the moment until they were contractually obligated to switch to “Alice in Wonderland,” so we know we left money on the table there. And the 3-D really helped “Avatar” right up until the moment that it hurt it…Clearly, it wasn’t market forces directly; it was the availability of theaters. So we’re going to wait until there’s a time to come back in, inject the new footage into the mix and see if we can interest people in the “Avatar” experience in theaters.

Cameron also talked about the second and third “Avatar’ sequels, revealing that the second will focus on the Oceans of Pandora and the third more of the Alpha Centauri AB:

We created a broad canvas for the environment of film. That’s not just on Pandora, but throughout the Alpha Centauri AB system. And we expand out across that system and incorporate more into the story – not necessarily in the second film, but more toward a third film. I’ve already announced this, so I might as well say it: Part of my focus in the second film is in creating a different environment – a different setting within Pandora. And I’m going to be focusing on the ocean on Pandora, which will be equally rich and diverse and crazy and imaginative, but it just won’t be a rain forest. I’m not saying we won’t see what we’ve already seen; we’ll see more of that as well.

Check out the rest of the LA Times’ interview with Cameron here. “Avatar” hits DVD and Blu-ray (with DVD) today.  A 4-disc ultimate edition — incorporating the additional six minutes and many, many more extras — will be released this November. A 3D edition will follow sometime next year. You can read some comments on the current and upcoming “Avatar” releases from producer Jon Landau here and here and from Cameron here.

[Update] The Blu-ray sold a record 1.5 million units in its first day of release, crushing the previous record set by 2008’s “The Dark Knight” (600,000).

Peter Jackson updates The Hobbit (scripts have been delivered)
“The Hobbit”
executive producer / writer Peter Jackson confirmed that the screenplays for the two films have been handed to the studio and despite issues with MGM — for example the recent news that “Bond 23″ is indefinitely delayed — everything looks good for the start of production:

We’ve just delivered the script. Literally last week, we delivered the second of the two screenplays — the first draft. So the studio’s got both scripts now, which is a milestone; and if anything was holding it up, it was us doing the screenplays, because we’d just been writing as fast as we can, but it took us this long to get them finished.

Jackson says the major hold-up had to do with the slow pace of completing the script. Now that that’s complete, Jackson expects the films to be greenlit soon and with that comes the start of production, perhaps as early as this October or November:

So we take whatever responsibility there is for the speed. And we’re now in the process of budgeting the films, and then hopefully we’ll get to a budget the studio [people] are happy with, and they’ll greenlight the movies and we’ll announce the shooting dates. I’d be pretty optimistic that we’ll be shooting before the end of the year. I would imagine October, November, we’d be shooting by. I’m not announcing it, though.

You can read the rest of Jackson’s interview at Moviefone.

Nolan not interested in 3D for Batman 3 + Announcement expected in July
Wally Pfister, who is the cinematographer on Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” and has worked with Nolan on both “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight”, told Cinematical that he and Nolan have a “mutual disinterest” in 3D, but are still very interested in doing “Batman 3″ fully in IMAX:

“What Chris and I have talked about is doing something cool and something interesting…Brad Bird was [saying] ‘you’ve got to shoot the whole thing in IMAX!’ I was like, yeah, I’ve talked to Chris about that.”

Pfister says that he and Nolan just prefer Film over Digital Cinema due to the higher image quality available in film, especially when using IMAX cameras [via AICN]:

Because of his and Nolan’s feelings toward Digital Cinema, Pfister does not want to shoot in 3D. He actually had some pretty harsh things to say about the format, he says that “it’s great for like amusement park rides like the ‘Honey I Shrunk The Kids’ ride at Disneyland.” He said that 3D is not realistic and “it’s a distraction. Can you imagine Memento in 3D? With Joey Pantoliano’s glasses sticking out ‘a few feet’ with his hair all the way back there?”

In related news, Batman on Film reports that some sort of official announcement for “Batman 3″ is expected in July. BOF notes that when “The Dark Knight” was officially announced right after Comic Con 2006, the press release included the title, casting and director confirmation. BOF expects something similiar this time as well.

Sam Mendes to direct Oz the Great and Powerful with RDJ to star?
Sam Mendes is reportedly the front runner to direct “Oz The Great And Powerful” from Mitchell Kapner. As reported previously, the project is a prequel to “Wizard of Oz” focusing on the wizard before he came to Oz. Production Weekly adds that Robert Downey, Jr. is circling the role of the Wizard. LA Times later reported that in addition to Mendes, Adam Shankman (“Bedtime Stories”) is also in the running to direct the project and that Disney has put it “on a fast track of sorts.”

Green Lantern trailer expected this July
“Green Lantern”
is currently shooting in New Orleans, and Comic Book Movie was able to visit the set. Speaking with an effects supervisor at Sony ImageWorks (who are handling the effects), here are some interesting bites to pass along:

  • The previously leaked concept art of Kilowog, Abin Sur, Tomar-Re and the Guardians are all legit, although they were early drafts.
  • A trailer will “definitely” be revealed at this year’s San Diego Comic Con (July 21-24) and teaser posters will be in theaters this fall.
  • The budget and prints and advertising campaign for the film total “well over” $200M before tax incentives.
  • Hal Jordan will be wearing the domino mask in the film.

“Green Lantern” is scheduled to hit conventional and 3D theaters on June 17, 2011.

Set images [more at Pop Sugar]

Star Wars Blu-rays in the works
Speaking at the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2), Lucasfilm Director of Fan Relations Steve Sansweet revealed that the company has been working on a Blu-ray set of all six “Star Wars” movies:

We have been at work for a couple of years working on—I won’t call it the Ultimate Set because we keep finding stuff—but, a very full set of all six movies on Blu-ray with lots of extra material. We’re finding all kinds of scenes from dailies that have never been seen before. Beyond all of those things that you know about… there are some real treasures.

Sansweet didn’t give a timetable for its release, but did say “it won’t be in the too distant future.”

Iron Man 2 won’t end with a cliffhanger + Other Marvel news
In an interview with the LA Times’ Hero Complex blog, director Jon Favreau says that “Iron Man 2″ will not end with a cliffhanger:

“I want it to be completely self-contained because a lot is going to happen between now and the next chapter. You’ve got ‘Thor,’ you’ve got ‘Captain America ‘ and you’ve got ‘Avengers.’ I don’t know how all of that is going to impact this little handmade story of ours that we’ve been doing over the last two films.”

In other news, Samuel L. Jackson (who reprises his role as Nick Fury in “Iron Man 2″) told IESB that he will not appear in Marvel’s “Thor” but will have a part in “The First Avenger: Captain America” and “The Avengers”, the latter of which he says will “pretty much” be his “own starring vehicle for that character.” Speaking of “Thor”, Fanboyweb reports on what may be the description for Stan Lee’s cameo in the movie:

Thor’s hammer ( Mjolnir ) is found lying inside a crater in the middle of the road by the U.S. Army. The army tries to move it but can’t because it’s too heavy. They decide to bring in a truck for assistance. The soldiers tie Thor’s hammer to the back of the truck with chains. The truck driver accelerates to pull Mjohnir. The back half of the truck falls apart as the front keeps moving. Finally, the camera cuts to the driver who happens to be comic legend Stan Lee.

Check out the new viral website AccuTech Research & Development for Stark Industries. Also, check out an interview with Mickey Rourke (Whiplash) at Inquirer. “Iron Man 2″ hits conventional and IMAX theaters on May 7, 2010.

Promotional stills [more at /Film]

Iron Man and Whiplash IMAX posters [SuperHeroHype & Screen Rant]

Featurette on the villains [YouTube / Entertainment Tonight]

New TV spot [YouTube]

[Update] New clip: “Suitcase Armor” [Yahoo! Movies]

Interview with Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) [MTV]

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones returning for Men in Black 3D
Will Smith and Tommy Leen Jones are both returning for “Men in Black 3D”, reports Roger Friedman of Showbiz 411:

Director Barry Sonnenfeld tells me that “Men in Black 3-D” is ready to roll. Will Smith has signed on, Tommy Lee Jones is in, and a script is awaited.

Yes. I did say 3D. “Men in Black 3″ will be in 3D. Sonnenfeld says it is so. Why not? Everything else is, and this is one movie that might be cool in the process.

[Update] Green Hornet pushed to 2011, but will be 3D (And so will Last Airbender)
Sony has announced that “The Green Hornet” will be delayed three weeks to January 14, 2011. Despite recent bad buzz, the studio says the reason for the move — which is actually its second delay — is because of their recent decision to convert it to 3D:

“We’ve had a lot of success with the Martin Luther King frame, including ‘Paul Blart,’” said the studio’s marketing and distribution topper Jeff Blake. “We couldn’t be more excited about ‘Green Hornet.’ In fact, we’re doubling down by making it 3D.”

In related news, Paramount Pictures announced that M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender” will also be getting a 3D conversion of its own. According to Deadline, Stereo D, the same company that worked on “Avatar”, will handle the 3D conversion work. The July 2, 2010 release date will remain. Check out a new trailer for “The Last Airbender” below.

PREVIEW Videos & Images

A Nightmare On Elm Street

Promotional stills [Shock Till You Drop]

New clip [YouTube]

New TV spot [YouTube]

Beastly

New trailer (with introduction by Vanessa Hudgens) [MTV]

Gatchaman

Early production trailer (the film likely won’t be released) [twitch]

Inception

Promotional stills [more via /Film]

Jonah Hex

Promotional still [MTV Splash Page]

Kick-Ass

Interview with director Matthew Vaugn [MTV]

The Losers

Interview with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoë Saldana and Idris Elba [SuperHeroHype]

Predators

Promotional still [Rope of Silicon]

Behind-the-scenes clip on Isabelle (played by Alice Braga) [ComingSoon.net]

Shrek Forever After

First clip: “What Happened to You” [Yahoo! Movies]

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

New movie trailer [SCI FI Wire]

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

[Update] Movie trailer #3 [TrailerAddict]

MISC Video

District 9

“Wikus and Charlize” [Funny or Die]

MOVIE BITES

  • Previously on TrekMovie.com: Karl Urban Talks Star Trek Sequels
  • Previously on TrekMovie.com: Zoe Saldana: Star Trek Sequel Filming Dates To Be Set Within Month
  • Previously on TrekMovie.com: John Cho on Star Trek Sequel: No Decisions Have Been Made
  • “Kick-Ass” narrowly won the weekend with a disappointing $19.8 million. “How to Train Your Dragon” finished in a strong 2nd with $19.6M in its fourth weekend… [BOM]
  • …Mark Millar issued a statement downplaying the weak debut. In part it reads: “We were top Friday, Saturday and Sunday — which is amazing, considering we’re in the middle of a holiday season and up against 3-D competition with an R-rated superhero movie…It’s also worth remembering that we only cost $28 million after the U.K. tax breaks, and our U.K. and U.S. gross alone is already at $38 million as of last night.” Click over to MTV to read the full statement.
  • Joss Whedon was recently hired to direct and re-write “The Avengers”. Before beginning work on “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”, Edgar Wright had completed a script for “Ant-Man”, a character who is a member of The Avengers. Which leads us to this tweet by Wright: “I just met Joss Whedon for the first time. Speculation commence!” Significant, or meaningless? [Edgar Wright]
  • “Friday the 13th: Part 2″ producer Brad Fuller replied to a fan on his Twitter account that the sequel to the 2009 reboot is “dead”. [via Shock Till You Drop]
  • Paramount Pictures has renewed their option on a big screen version of the apocalyptic zombie novel “World War Z” for what author Max Brooks described as “half the time and twice the money,” a strong indication that the film is closer to hitting theaters. Brooks also confirmed that Marc Forster is still attached to direct. [Fear Net]
  • One of the criticisms of “The Dark Knight” was Christian Bale’s growling voice. Turns out Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman in “Batman: The Animated Series”, wasn’t too fond of the decision either. Watch and listen to Conroy’s response to a question posed by a fan asking if he’d ever been asked to re-dub “The Dark Knight” in the embedded video below. [YouTube / Screen Rant]

  • The first trailer for the Josh Brolin-starrer “Jonah Hex” will be attached to “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, which hits theaters on April 30. [Shock Till You Drop]
  • There are various reports / rumors that Bumblebee will be a Chevrolet Camaro Convertible 2011 in “Transformers 3″. [via TFW2005]
  • Universal’s “Stretch Armstrong” has gotten a director and a new writer. “Monsters vs. Aliens” co-director Rob Letterman has signed on to direct and Nick Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) will re-write the original screenplay (which was written by Steve Oederkerk). Taylor Lautner (“Twilight”) is still attached to star. [Heat Vision blog]
  • In 2006, David Goyer admitted that he didn’t think he’d “ever be good to write Superman”. [via /Film]
  • 20th Century Fox has set a September 3 release date Robert Rodriguez’s “Machete”. The film, originated from the faux trailer featured in 2007’s “Grindhouse”, stars Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and Lindsay Lohan. [Deadline]
  • Dark Horse Comics has announced that they will release a companion graphic novel to the upcoming thriller “Let Me In”. [/Film]
  • To celebrate the 30th anniversary of “The Empire Strikes Back”, Lucasfilm is planning a year-long charity campaign that kicks off on May 19 with a digital screening for the the film at the ArcLight Hollywood along with an on-stage Q&A with Harrison Ford. [LA Times’ Hero Complex blog]
  • Walt Disney Pictures has announced that Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” will hit DVD, Blu-ray and VOD (all in 2D) on June 1, 2010… [Walt Disney Pictures]
  • …The week after, meanwhile, will see the release of the Martin Scorsese / Leonardo DiCaprio thriller “Shutter Island” on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD (June 8, 2010). [Paramount Pictures]
  • The Motion Picture Association of America has announced that “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” has received a PG-13 rating for “stylized violence, sexual content, language and drug references.” [SuperHeroHype]
  • Screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (“X-Men”) is re-uniting with Bryan Singer to re-write the script for Singer’s “Jack the Giant Killer”. [Heat Vision blog]
  • [Update] Breck Eisner (“The Crazies”) is in talks to direct New Line’s “Escape from New York” remake. [Variety]
  • [Update] Rumored for several months, Disney has officially announced “Monsters, Inc. 2″. The sequel to the hit 2001 film is scheduled to arrive in theaters on November 16, 2012. Disney also announced that “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” (May 20, 2011) and “The Muppets” have been officially greenlighted. [THR] & [Variety]

CASTING BITES

  • Alan Cumming has dropped out of the Broadway musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” because of a scheduling conflict. Cumming was set to play the villain Green Goblin in the long-delayed musical. [NY Times]
  • “Transformers 3″ producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura has confirmed that John Malkovich will have a role in the film, but only said he would “have a lot of interaction with Shia” and it’ll be a “really fun character”. [ComingSoon.net]
  • …Malkovich, meanwhile, confirmed that he would have played The Vulture in the now canned “Spider-Man 4″: “I’m not sure, I never really spoke with Sam about this, but I’m not sure they—maybe the kind of fanbase, the fanboys—either didn’t approve of [The Vulture] as an adversary for [Spidey] to some extent…or maybe the studio [didn’t]. Or maybe that was totally unrelated to why it fell apart.” [/Film]
  • Tom Elkins (editor on “The Da Vinci Code”) will direct “A Haunting in Georgia”, the horror follow-up to “A Haunting in Connecticut”. [Heat Vision blog]
  • There’s a rumor that Olivia Munn’s appearance in “Iron Man 2″ is a cameo playing Janet Van Dyne, a.k.a. The Wasp. Backstory: Munn was originally cast in a different role in the film, but went back to film new scenes for a new character. Munn recently revealed that she would be playing a character already established in the Marvel universe. [Forces of Geek and Complex Magazine]
  • Noah Ringer (“The Last Airbender”) has joined the cast of Jon Favreau’s “Cowboys and Aliens”. It’s unknown what role he’ll play. [Variety]
  • Disney has announced that Sam Cleflin and French actress Astrid Bergès-Frisbey have joined the cast of Rob Marshall’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”. Cleflin will play Philip, described as a “a youthful missionary” while Bergès-Frisbey’s will play the part of “a beautiful and alluring young mermaid named Syrena”. [Disney]
  • Teresa Palmer has joined the cast of DreamWorks’ adaptation of the upcoming James Frey / Jobie Hughes novel “I Am Number Four”. Palmer will play Number Six, “one of nine aliens who escape their home planet before its annihilation by a rival species and hide out on Earth disguised as human high schoolers.” D.J. Caruso is directing. [Heat Vision blog]

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

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