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TrekMovie.com Sci-Fi Movies: Transformers 3, Thor, The Avengers, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Predators, Cowboys & Aliens + more

Cross-posted at TrekMovie.com

In this week’s Sci-Fi Movies column there is big news for Transformers 3 with Megan Fox out and speculation as to why and who will replace her. We also have Avengers rumors, Thor details, news of a Comic Con documentary, and tons of new images and previews, including Predators posters and the first image from Cowboys & Aliens. All that plus celebrating Empire Strikes Back and the latest box office numbers, casting bites, and more.

GENRE MOVIE NEWS

Megan Fox exits Transformers 3; She says it was her decision + Rumored replacement
Paramount Pictures has decided against picking up Megan Fox’s option to star as Mikaela Banes in “Transformers 3″. Deadline first broke the news of Fox’s departure, reporting that the decision “ultimately” fell on director Michael Bay:

(So he gets his revenge for her remark comparing him to “Hitler”.) Right now Bay and writer Ehren Kruger et al are finishing up the script for the threequel and “giving Shia a new love interest makes more sense for the story,” an insider tells me. Bay will start casting immediately for the new female co-star.

However, shortly after the news broke, Fox’s publicist issued the following statement contradicting reports that she was booted:

“Megan Fox will not be starring in Transformers 3,” reps for the actress, 24, tell PEOPLE. “It was her decision not to return. She wishes the franchise the best.”

…which in turn was backed up by reporting from The Wrap’s Deal Central:

Megan Fox walked away from “Transformers 3″ because director Michael Bay was “verbally abusive” toward her and “she had enough and decided to get out early,” an individual close to the actress has told TheWrap.

Both Deadline and The Wrap are sticking to their reporting. Moving forward, The Wrap reports that Gemma Arterton (“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”) is at the top of the list of potential replacements which also includes models Bar Rafaeli, Miranda Kerr and Brooklyn Decker. Separately, AICN reports through “trustworthy sources” that Zoe Saldana, Hayden Panetierre, Vanessa Hudgens, Amber Heard, Camilla Belle, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Ashley Greene, Julianne Hough, Jessica Lowndes and English model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley are also being considered for the new role. “Transformers 3″ hits theaters on July 1, 2011.

Interview with Shia LaBeouf [YouTube via TLAMB]

Rumor: The Skrulls in The Avengers?
Could the villain of “The Avengers” be The Skrulls? That’s what Comic Book Movie is reporting according to two sources “close to production”, although they caution that they haven’t been able to confirm it with the studio (but this does back up CHUD’s reporting from last July):

“…the shape-changing alien race the Skrulls are being used as the main antagonists for The Avengers. Not only that, but the Skrulls will ‘brainwash’ and use the Hulk in a similar fashion Loki did in the comics. Don’t expect a full on alien invasion, though; that will have to wait for a sequel. The Skrulls’ role will be largely clandestine, similar to the way S.H.I.E.L.D. operates. “

CHUD has posted a follow-up report:

Since Joss Whedon hasn’t written the script it’s hard to say what will be in the final movie. My sources last year told me to expect the movie to open with The Avengers coming together to stop a rampaging Hulk; in the comics the Hulk’s rampage was instigated by Loki, but it could just as easily be spurred by the Skrulls, who are shapeshifters. My sources told me to look at the first 12 issues of The Ultimates, Mark Millar’s reboot of The Avengers in the Ultimate Universe, for a basic structure for the first film.

Meanwhile, CBM goes on to report that the Kree, the enemy of the Skrulls, “will also have a presence as Earthly allies.” And lastly, the site reports that rather than try to work out deals with Fox and Sony, rights owners to Spider-Man, Wolverine and the Fantastic Four, etc., Marvel Studios will instead “pretend they don’t exist in the Marvel Cinema Universe until those companies inevitably grow tired of them.”

Chris Hemsworth talks Thor
Speaking at the Australians In Film Breakthrough Awards, “Thor” star Chris Hemsworth discussed the upcoming Kenneth Branagh-directed film [SPOILERS]:

“I just finished shooting last Thursday, and saw “Iron Man 2″ the other day–which I loved–and saw the tag at the end. I was with a bunch of mates and we all got kind of giddy watching it. I can’t wait! It was such an incredible four months shooting that film, and I think the film’s going to be fantastic.”

Hemsworth also discussed his take on the character:

“We just kept trying to humanize it all, and keep it very real. Look into all the research about the comic books that we could, but also bring it back to ‘Who is this guy as a person, and what’s his relationship with people in the individual scenes?’ And working with someone like Kenneth Branagh, who has all those bases covered and has so many ideas, it was a hell of a time!”

“Thor” is scheduled to hit theaters on May 6, 2011.

First image from Cowboys & Aliens
Director Jon Favreau has tweeted the first camera test picture (below) from Cowboys & Aliens, the comic book adaptation produced and written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof. He later revealed to Collider that the image is of Daniel Craig, who plays one of the cowboys in the old west who will be taking on the aliens.

Pirates of the Caribbean 4 will be 3D
As previously rumored, Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross has finalized the decision to shoot “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” in 3D. The film’s release date of May 20, 2011 will remain in place. ‘On Stranger Tides’, directed by Rob Marshall, returns Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow and co-stars new additions Ian McShane (Blackbeard), Penelope Cruz (Blackbeard’s Daughter) and Sam Claflin (Philip).

Morgan Spurlock will direct documentary Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fans Hope
In February it was revealed that Morgan Spurlock was working with Joss Whedon on a documentary about Comic-Con. Now we have complete details on the film, which will be called “Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan’s Hope”.

COMIC-CON EPISODE FOUR: A FAN’S HOPE will begin shooting in June and culminate its principal photography at this year’s Comic-Con in July. Morgan Spurlock will direct the film and Thomas Tull will produce alongside Spurlock’s Warrior Poets producing partner, Jeremy Chilnick. Stan Lee, Joss Whedon and Harry Knowles will executive produce. The film will capture not only a moment in time that literally touches hundreds of thousands of people, but a world that inspires us all – but more than anything else, it will show us that whether at home or away, in costume or not, en masse or alone, we should all have the courage and confidence to be ourselves.

“Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fans’ Hope” will begin shooting this June and finish principal photography at this year’s Comic-Con in July.

PREVIEW Videos & Images

The Awakening

Teaser poster [/Film]

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Poster [Narnia Web]

Immortals

Henry Cavill as Theseus, Mickey Rourke as King Hyperion and Frieda Pinto as Phaedra [Rogue Pictures]

Watch some behind-the-scenes videos here

Inception

TV spot [YouTube]

Iron Sky

First footage Teaser [IronSky.net]

John Carter of Mars

Set images [JCOM]

Jonah Hex

Character posters [two more at IMP Awards, (2)]

Promotional stills [more at HitFix]

TV spot [ComingSoon.net]

Watch another TV spot here

King Kong 360 3-D (Universal Studios Hollywood ride)

Teaser trailer [Crave]

The Last Airbender

New international posters [more at IGN]

Promotional stills [more at movies.spoilerTV.com]

Lost Boys: The Thirst

Behind the scenes stills [more at JoBlo]

Megamind

Poster [Trailer Addict]

Movie trailer [Yahoo! Movies]

Predators

International posters [BadTaste.it]

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Interviews with the cast and crew [IGN]

The Smurfs

Neal Patrick Harris on set [Yahoo! Movies]

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

TV spot [ComingSoon.net]

Splice

Domestic and international posters [Shock Till You Drop]

Super 8

Viral newspaper articles [ScariestThingIEverSaw.com — more via Super 8 News]

Toy Story 3

Behind the scenes: “Look on the Sunnyside” [Yahoo! Movies]

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

New character banners [ComingSoon.net]

New clip: “The Volturi Decide” [Yahoo! Movies]

Watch two more clips here

MOVIE BITES

  • Shia LaBeouf feels he “dropped the ball on the legacy [of Indiana Jones]” with the fourth installment ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’: “You get to monkey-swinging and things like that and you can blame it on the writer and you can blame it on Steven [Spielberg]. But the actor’s job is to make it come alive and make it work, and I couldn’t do it. So that’s my fault. Simple….” [LA Times]
  • Drew Barrymore is reportedly attached to direct the “Wizard of Oz” sequel “Surrender Dorothy”. First announced in 2002, the project centers around the great, great granddaughter of Dorothy who “has to learn how to use the power of those ruby red slippers to keep the Wicked Witch of the West from taking control of the kingdoms of Earth and Oz.” [Pajiba]
  • The rights to Christopher Farnsworth’s “Blood Oath” have been picked up by Warp Films and the film is being fast-tracked as a feature franchise about a vampire secret agent. [Heat Vision blog]
  • David Fincher is in negotiations with Disney to direct what was formerly the McG-helmed “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”.
  • “Iron Man 2″ held onto the top spot last weekend with $52.0 million (down 59% from the weekend prior). Through yesterday, ‘IM2′ is at $224.7M domestically and will cross $500M worldwide this weekend (currently at $479.7M worldwide). The original “Iron Man” was at $191.3M through this same point domestically. [BOM]
  • “Star Wars” attractions “Star Tours” will close at Disneyland Park on July 27 and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on September 8 and re-open in 2011 with “a new 3-D, immersive experience that’ll take guests to familiar places in the Star Wars galaxy.”… [Disney Parks]
  • …Speaking of which, did you know that it was 30 years ago today that “The Empire Strikes Back” was released in theaters (May 21, 1980)?…
  • …And the first draft of the film has been leaked online. Check it out at Crave.
  • “Metropolis: All New Restoration” will be playing 13 states and in Montreal, Canada over the course of the next several months. [Kino]
  • The epilogue in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” will be created using a mix of CG and prosthetics, says co-star Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy): “For nearly two months, we’ve all been doing prosthetic tests and all sorts of preparation for the epilogue,” Felton said. “I’ve been having some aging training. You’ve got to walk differently. There’s a slump in your walk.” [MTV]
  • Disney has made a pitch for a live-action reimagining of the classic fairy tale “Cinderella” (working title). Aline Brosh McKenna (“The Devil Wears Prada”) wrote the script. [Deadline]
  • Blake Lively talks about her role in “Green Lantern” in the June issue of Vogue magazine.
  • “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” will be released in IMAX theaters internationally beginning May 19 with 20 locations. The film will open at another 33 locations in conjunction with its release starting on May 28, 2010… [IMAX]
  • …Check out an interview with director Mike Newell at ComingSoon.net.
  • “Shrek Forever After” will open in a record 194 IMAX theaters domestically simultaneous with the film’s wide release on May 21, 2010 and in 45 IMAX locations internationally starting on May 20. [IMAX]
  • Paramount Pictures has picked up Jordan Canan’s sci-fi adventure comedy “Field Trip”. The story is said to involve time travel, a high school teacher and his students. [THR]
  • 20th Century Fox will release “Predator: Ultimate Hunter Edition” on Blu-ray June 29, 2010. Cover art is included below. In addition to an all-new retrospective documentary entitled “Evolution of the Species: Hunters of Extreme Perfection”, the release will also contain a $10 certificate for “Predators” which hits theaters on July 9. [/Film]

  • Writer Nick Stoller offers his thoughts on “Stretch Armstrong” and “The Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time” in a new interview with ComingSoon.net.
  • Paul Greengrass won’t be directing the James Cameron-produced 3D remake “Fantastic Voyage”. Greengrass has instead chose to focus on “Treasure Island”, although he isn’t locked into that project either. [Deadline]
  • Sharlto Copley denied recent rumors that he dropped out of “I Am Number Four” over creative differences relating to him wanting his character to have prosthetic Spock-like ears: “I don’t know where that came from! I was working on a prosthetic look for the character, but not for an alien look at all, no,” he revealed. “He was going to look human. There was no difference of opinion on the physicality, on trying to look like Spock or anything. I love that.” [MTV]
  • Sony/Columbia’s “Battle: Los Angeles” has been pushed back three weeks to March 11, 2011. [BOM]
  • Veteran screenwriter Alvin Sargent has been brought on board to fine-tune Columbia’s “Spider-Man” reboot from director Marc Webb. Sargent is working off a script by Jamie Vanderbilt. Sargent did uncredited rewrite work on the original “Spider-Man”, and had a shared credit on “Spider-Man 2″ and “Spider-Man 3″. [Heat Vision blog]
  • Check out “Jonah Hex” set visit interviews with Josh Brolin [Comic Book Resources, Cinematical], John Malkovich [Comic Book Resorces] and Will Arnett [Cinematical, Comic Book Resources].
  • “There’s nothing tongue-in-cheek” about “Conan” says co-star Stephen Lang: “And there’s nothing send-up about the world we’re creating, though hopefully the movie is made with a lot of wit…To me, in spirit, the movie we’re making is lot more like ‘Jason and the Argonauts’ or ‘The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.’ It’s this huge adventure, these otherworldly things, these rip-snortners,” Lang adds. [MTV]

CASTING BITES

  • Keanue Reeves will star as the male lead in Gabriele Muccino’s “Passengers”, described by producers as “Adam & Eve in Space”. [THR]
  • Jemaine Clement (“Flight of the Conchords”) is in final negotiations to play one of the villains in “Men in Black 3″. Clement will be playing a villain named Boris, who is described as being both “charmy and creepy”. [Heat Vision blog]
  • There’s a rumor that Nathan Fillion (“Firefly”) is “pretty much locked” to play Henry Pym, aka Ant-Man, in director Edgar Wright’s upcoming adapation. The casting decision is expected to be announced around Comic-Con time. [Marvelous Marvel]
  • Sam Worthington will star as the lead in DreamWorks’ “Quatermain”. The film will also mark Worthington’s debut as a producer on a feature project. [Heat Vision blog]
  • Katherine Heigl will star in “The Age of Adaline”, a sci-fi love story, whose plot is described thusly: “…a young woman, born at the turn of 20th century, who is rendered ageless after an accident. After years of a solitary life, she meets a man who might be worth losing her immortality.” [THR]
  • Peter Facinelli, Ashely Greene, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone, Elizabeth Reaser and Nikki Reed will all return as members of the Cullen Family in “The Twilight Saga” Breaking Down”.[ComingSoon.net]
  • James Franco (“Spider-Man”) will star in 20th Century Fox’s Rupert Wyatt-directed “Rise of the Apes”. Production begins July 5 for its planned June 24, 2011 release date. [Deadline]
  • Paul Dano (“There Will Be Blood”) will play a cowboy in Jon Favreau’s “Cowboys & Aliens” (July 29, 2011). [Deadline]
  • Lake Bell (“Surface”) is in negotiations to join the cast of “Scream 4″ (April 15, 2011) and offers have gone out to Ashley Greene (“Twilight”), Hayden Panettiere (“Heroes”) and Rory Culkin (“Twelve”) for “key starring roles”. [Heat Vision blog]
  • Gary Oldman will offer is voice to DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom”. Oldman will voice a character named Peacock who “helps Po [Jack Black] find the bandits but is more than he seems.” [Heat Vision blog]

MISC Videos & Images

Batman

Batman #700 cover art by Mike Mignola [DC Comics The Source]

Ghostbusters

Improv Everywhere: “Who You Gonna Call?” [YouTube via Collider]

Star Wars

Boba Fett in the ESPN logo [The Daily What]

Rare “The Empire Strikes Back” images [Maxim — more via StarWars.com]

“Premakes” The Empire Strikes Back (1950) [YouTube via SCI FI Wire]

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

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