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TrekMovie.com Sci-Fi Movies: Iron Man 2, X-Men: First Class, Rise of the Apes, Thor, Inception, Smurfs + more

Cross-posted at TrekMovie.com

In this week’s Sci-Fi Movies column we have details and official announcemetns on the next movies in the X-Men, Planet of the Apes, Batman and Twilight franchises. Christopher Nolan is also revealing more on Inception and there are some final pre-release comments from Jon Favreau on Iron Man 2. All that plus plus more, including the latest box office numbers, casting bites, videos and images (including first Smurfs).

GENRE MOVIE NEWS

Matthew Vaughn will direct X-Men: First Class; Set for June 3, 2011

Matthew Vaugnn (“Kick-Ass”) will direct “X-Men: First Class” for 20th Century Fox and the studio says filming will begin this summer with a release date of June 3, 2011 (leading some to assume that preliminary casting is already underway). The film is based on a story by Bryan Singer, who will produce alongside Lauren Shuler Donner:

“I’ve been a fan of Matthew’s since LAYER CAKE,” said Singer. “He has a deft hand with multiple characters and storylines, and a great love of the X-Men universe. I feel the combination of this story and his vision will make for an exciting and original X-Men film.”

Here’s the current synopsis for the film:

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, following the classic Marvel mythology, charts the epic beginning of the X-Men saga. Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known.

In related news, screenwriters Zack Stentz and Ashley Edward Miller were interviewed by io9 about the film. Here’s one excerpt where the two mention “Star Trek” as an influence in their writing:

io9: Did you feel any pressure/desire/necessity to “reintroduce” us to the X-Men?

Zack Stentz: In some sense you should be reintroducing your characters in every film.

Ashley Edward Miller: The thing is, we’ve been here before. We did it on Terminator for two seasons. We did it on Thor. You learn how to approach the material as something you can live in and not just nod at.

ZS: Well, look at Star Trek (2009) — that’s a film that did a great job of acknowledging that its characters are part of the culture, yet treating them as fresh and new to the audience.

AEM: I would also argue that if you’re telling a story where your characters can no longer surprise the audience, you’re telling the wrong story. These characters surprised us at every turn, sometimes in really wonderful and emotional ways. Those moments are what make movies great.

Rise of the Apes set for June 24, 2011; Rupert Wyatt will direct

20th Century Fox has announced that they will release the prequel “Rise of the Apes” (tentative title) on June 24, 2011 and Rupert Wyatt has been confirmed to direct:

RISE OF THE APES (tentative title) is an origin story in the truest sense of the term. Set in present day San Francisco, the film is a reality-based cautionary tale, a science fiction/science fact blend, where man’s own experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy.

Iron Man 2 opening weekend

Iron Man 2″ makes its highly anticipated debut this weekend when it opens at a record 4,380 theaters (the previous record belonged to “The Dark Knight” with 4,366 theaters). The film is currently tracking to do between $155 million to $160 million for the 3-day, possibly beating “The Dark Knight’s” $158.4M record. “Iron Man 2″ actually opened internationally earlier in the week and has already grossed more than $132 million. Director Jon Favreau was recently interviewed by Vanity Fair and the villain The Mandarin was brought up. Here’s what he had to say about the character:

Vanity Fair: Iron Man’s best-known villain is The Mandarin. In Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, he waited until the second film to incorporate The Joker. In Robert Downey Jr.’s other franchise, Sherlock Holmes, they’re waiting until the second film to make Professor Moriarty the main villain. Is there a strategy to waiting before using an arch enemy as the antagonist?

Jon Favreau: Yeah, I think you have to really foam the runway for that one. Because if you think a Soviet villain is anachronistic, the way the Mandarin was depicted in the books would be very distasteful, nowadays. And so you have to crystallize The Mandarin down to what it is that makes him scary and intimidating. We have to create the world, and the world we’ve created up to this point has been based in technology. I think all of that’s going to change with Thor and Captain America. Once magic and supernatural stuff is introduced by other directors at other ends of the franchise, that might be able to form The Mandarin a bit. But to have a guy dressed like a medieval Asian nobleman with ten magical rings did not seem like it fit with what people like about Iron Man. The Mandarin would probably need to be interpreted with a large degree of creative license because it will not look like what’s in the comics.

Favreau also talked about the possibility of incorporating the “Demon in a Bottle” storyline in future “Iron Man” movies:

“I think the closest you’ll get is what we did in this one. You obliquely address issues that were raised in the books. If you look at the storyline of “Demon in a Bottle,” we follow the plot points of that. We don’t delve as deeply into it totally, because “Demon in a Bottle” was a very depressing exploration of alcoholism. Here, we obliquely touch upon things, but the reason Rhodey [Don Cheadle] first puts the suit on is because Iron Man is not capable of handling the mantle of his responsibility. And that’s the same thing in this movie. We do a tip of the hat to that, but we do it in a tone people are accustomed to for our franchise. There are so many comic-book movies operating on parallel paths; if we became a little bit too playful, it would have verged on Spider-Man. If we had gotten too dark, it would have verged on Batman. So we have our own lane in the highway that we like to stick to.”

Head on over to Vanity Fair to read the rest of the Q&A.

Here are some last minute stills [more at Comic Book Resources]

And Jon Favreau talking about the role Olivia Munn was originally cast to play [MTV]

Previously on TrekMovie.com: Confirmed: ‘Super 8′ is JJ Abrams Next Film As Director – Co-Produced With Steven Spielberg

The drip drip drip of the secret JJ Abrams project continues. Today comes more details on “Super 8″, which has a teaser trailer showing with “Iron Man 2″ this weekend. It is now confirmed that “Super 8″ is a collaboration between JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg. More details, including a description of the trailer here.

Complete coverage on this project here and here.

First look: Chris Hemsworth as Thor

Also, if you missed the TrekMovie CelebWatch earlier, Pramount Pictures and Marvel Studios have released the first official look at Chris Hemsworth as the Thunder God “Thor” in the upcoming Kenneth Branagh-directed feature. Click to enlarge.

“Thor” is currently filming in New Mexico and is scheduled to hit theaters on May 20, 2011.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn hitting theaters on November 18, 2011; Tom Condon writes note to fans

Summit Entertainment has announced that “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn” will hit theaters on November 18, 2011. The studio hasn’t indicated whether it will be one film or two, but in a note to fans posted on Facebook, director Bill Condon seems to indicate it’ll be two films:

I just want to say hello to all of you and let you know that I’m stoked to be getting underway on the adventure of making BREAKING DAWN. As you’ve probably heard, I’ve been given a very warm welcome by Stephenie and Team Summit – who are super-focused, as you know, on getting these movies right.

Condon also revealed there will be no musical numbers in the film. You can read the rest of his note here.

But before that film, there still is this summer’s “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”, here are some promotional stills [more at Cinema Blend and Movies.SpoilerTV.com]

Batman 3 confirmed; Set for July 20, 2012

Warner Brothers has confirmed that the third “Batman” film from Christopher Nolan will hit theaters on July 20, 2012. That puts the film in competition with several other high-profile summer 2012 releases including of course the “Star Trek” sequel (6/29/2012) and “Spider-Man” (7/3/2012):

The studio has barely begun the process of developing the movie; Nolan is in post-production on “Inception” but is hammering out a story with David Goyer.

There is no title at this point and no start date. July is becoming Nolan’s month. “The Dark Knight” opened on July 18, 2008, and “Inception” debuts July 16.

Official synopsis for Inception released

Meanwhile, Warner Brothers has released the official synopsis for Christopher Nolan’s current project, the upcoming sci-fi psychological thriller “Inception”:

Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan directs an international cast in an original sci-fi actioner that travels around the globe and into the intimate and infinite world of dreams. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb’s rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible-inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming. This summer, your mind is the scene of the crime.

And here is a new poster [via /Film]

PREVIEW Videos & Images

Green Lantern

Concept art [more at The Movie Insider]

Jonah Hex

Interview with Josh Brolin (Jonah Hex) [MTV Movies blog]

The Last Airbender

New posters [Empire & /Film]

Machete

Red band trailer (NSFW) [Aint It Cool News]

Piranha 3D

New trailer [Trailer Addict]

Predators

Featurette on Laurence Fishburne’s character “Noland” [20th Century Fox]

Shrek Forever After

U.K. poster [Empire]

Sherlock Holmes 2

Robert Downey Jr. talking about the “Sherlock Holmes” sequel [MTV Movies Blog]

The Smurfs

Hank Azaria as Gargamel [ComingSoon.net]

Splice

Teaser poster [SCI FI Wire]

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2

Promotional stills (video game) [more at Gamekyo via io9]

Transformers 3

Megan Fox on the set [more at Movies.SpoilerTV.com]

Tron Legacy

New banner [Yahoo! Movies]

MOVIE BITES

  • “Clash of the Titans” will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 27, 2010 and will include a sneak peek at Martin Campbell’s “Green Lantern”. [Warner Brothers]
  • The Henson Company has announced that the 3D sequel “The Power of the Dark Crystal” is moving forward with new directors: Peter and Michael Spierig (“Daybreakers”). [The Henson Company via /Film]
  • “A Nightmare on Elm Street” producer Brad Fuller announced through a post on Twitter that a sequel is “already in the works”. [Brad Fuller via Dark Horizons]
  • “Kick-Ass” creator Mark Millar will launch a sequel, “Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall”, in comic form in the U.K. this September.[Comic Book Resources]
  • Dimension Films has hired Spanish director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego to direct a “Paranormal Activity”-type movie based on Mummies called “The Mummy Archives”. [LA Times]
  • Ian McKellen has revealed that he has read the script for “The Hobbit” and he is currently in negotiations to reprise his role as Gandalf: “I’ve read the script, or as much as had been written, they sent it to me, which was very accomplished and good, I thought, and a wonderful part, Gandalf. But I don’t have a contract and I don’t have a start date, so there we are. We’re in a bit of limbo at the moment.” [what’s playing]
  • Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis have made comments in recent days that “Ghostbusters III” is moving forward and could hit theaters by 2011 or 2012. [Proton Charging]
  • Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura has revealed that a sequel to “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” could start shooting spring 2011 which would make it ready for release summer 2012. [MTV Movies Blog]
  • 20th Century Fox has set a July 12, 2012 release date for “Ice Age: Continental Drift”. [BOM]
  • Director Edgar Wright has confirmed that they will be doing three days of pick ups for “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”: “…and to be honest – I’m excited about it. It was my suggestion to the studio and the bits and pieces are all things that I want to tweak…we are not even redoing one full scene, nor any action, just some bits and bobs and new jokes and beats that I wrote with Bacall & O’Malley”. [/Film]
  • James Cameron says he doesn’t expect there to be a sequel to “Avatar” for at least 3 1/2 years. [/Film]
  • Check out some reports from the set of the Robert Rodriguez-produced / Nimrod Antal-directed “Predators” at SCI FI Wire and ComingSoon.net.
  • “Transformers 3″ producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura touches on the mythology of the franchise and the “feud” between Michael Bay and Megan Fox in an interview with MTV.
  • “A Nightmare on Elm Street” opened to a solid $32.9M last weekend. “How to Train Your Dragon” dropped one spot to 2nd as it nears $200M domestic and “Clash of the Titans” crossed the $150M domestic mark. “Kick-Ass”, meanwhile, fell out of the top five to 8th place as it struggles to reach $50M. [BOM]

CASTING BITES

  • Patrick Dempsey (“Grey’s Anatomy”) has been cast in “Transformers 3″. Dempsey will play Megan Fox’s boss in a role that is described as being “significant to the plot”… [EW]
  • …but contrary to rumors, Jamie Kennedy’s representation have denied reports that the actor has been cast in the film. [MTV]
  • Sam Rockwell (“Iron Man 2″, “Moon”) has joined the cast of Jon Favreau’s upcoming “Cowboys & Aliens”. Rockwell will play “a bar owner named Doc who joins in the pursuit of the aliens”. Favreau and the writers — Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci — reconceived and expanded the role when Rockwell became interested in the film. [Heat Vision blog]
  • Dianna Agron (“Glee”) has been cast as the female romantic lead in “I Am Number Four”, the upcoming film based on the as-yet released young-adult sci-fi book of the same name by James Frey and Jobie Hughes. [Heat Vision blog]
  • It’s official. Marvel has announced that Hugo Weaving will play the Red Skull in Joe Johnston’s “The First Avenger: Captain America”. [EW]
  • …In related news, there’s a rumor that Tommy Lee Jones may be joining the film, although it’s not known what role he’d be playing. [UGO]
  • Robert Englund will star in “Incubus”, a horror film that “tells the story of a skeleton crew working the final shift at a soon-to-be demolished police station. The night takes a gruesome turn when the demon Inkubus calmly walks into the station holding a severed head and begins to confess a litany of crimes, some dating back to the Middle Ages.” [Variety]

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

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