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TrekMovie.com Sci-Fi Movies: The Hobbit, Spider-Man, Flash, X-Men, Captain America, Transformers 3, Inception + more

Cross-posted at TrekMovie.com

In this week’s Sci-Fi Movies column we start out with lots of casting news for the next Charles Xavier/Professor X, the next Peter Parker/Spider-man, and Megan Fox’s replacement for Transformers 3. There are also production updates on The Hobbit, Batman 3, Mass Effect: The Movie, and more. The Ho . Plus more, including the latest box office numbers, casting bites, images and videos.

GENRE MOVIE NEWS

James McAvoy cast as Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class

“Wanted” star James McAvoy has signed on to play a young Charles Xavier (aka Professor X) in the Matthew Vaughn-directed “X-Men: First Class” [Heat Vision]:

According to Fox, “First Class” will “chart the epic beginning of the X-Men saga. Before Charles Xavier and Eric 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 the closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-Men.”

Patrick Stewart portrayed the character in the original “X-Men” trilogy. The film is expected to begin production this summer in London with a release planned for June 3, 2011.

Spider-Man shortlist: Jamie Bell; Alden Ehrenreich; Frank Dillane and Andrew Garfield

Alvin Sargent may be re-writing the script for the Marc Webb-directed “Spider-Man” reboot, but Heat Vision reports that Webb has been meeting and reading actors for several months and his list has been narrowed down over the last week or two. Here are the actors reportedly in consideration for the role of Peter Parker:

  • Jamie Bell (“The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn”)
  • Alden Ehrenreich (“Tetro”)
  • Frank Dillane (“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”)
  • Andrew Garfield (“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”)
  • Josh Hutcherson (“Journey to the Center of the Earth”)

Heat Vision adds that Columbia wants to begin production by the the end of the year, but the studio declined to comment on the casting process, saying “There have been a number of names floated online and almost every week, someone calls with a new rumor. We are not commenting on the casting process or rumors such as these.” “Spider-Man (in 3D)” is scheduled to hit theaters on July 3, 2012.

Confirmed: Tommy Lee Jones joins the cast of Captain America

A few weeks ago there were reports that Tommy Lee Jones had been cast in “The First Avenger: Captain America”. Those rumors have now been confirmed courtesy an interview with Hayley Atwell (who plays Captain America’s love interest Peggy Carter). Atwell didn’t reveal what character Jones would be playing, but rumor has it the actor will be playing the character General Chester Phillips, the person responsible for selecting Steve Rogers to take part in the Super Soldier program. Here’s how that character is described in the Marvel Wikia:

General Phillips hand picked 4-F army reject Steve Rogers to become a part of the 1940 Operation Reborn experiment. In particular, he admired Rogers patriotic spirit. Later, Phillips was a part of picking Rogers as the eventual Super-Soldier Captain America. Phillips also oversaw Rogers initial training as well as some of his early missions.

After the fact, Phillips was aware that an unauthorized military group gave the Super Soldier Serum to Protocide, prior to Steve Rogers. As he displayed no life functions, Phillips believed Protocide to be deceased and the General dealt severely with the perpetrators through military channels.

Phillips was a hard nosed commander who did not tolerate errors from his charges. Phillips eventually retired from the military and lived a long life. He was killed in a rest home in Kentucky. He and Captain America were attacked by Lemurian assassins. While battling his assailants, General Phillips throat was fatally slit.

You can watch the interview embedded below:

Interview with Hayley Atwell [YouTube]

Victoria’s Secret model in line to replace Megan Fox on Transformers 3 + New details on Fox’s departure

There are reports that Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley will soon be cast as Shia LaBeouf’s new girlfriend / Megan Fox’s replacement in “Transformers 3″ (July 1, 2011). The news comes from Deadline and GeekWeek‘s (although AICN was the first to mention Huntington-Whiteley’s name last week). In related news, The Wrap has new details on the circumstances that pushed Megan Fox out of “Transformers 3″:

Megan Fox arrived on the set of “Transformers 3″ looking too “pale,” “underweight” and “unhealthy” for director Michael Bay’s taste, ratcheting up tensions that ultimately pushed her to walk away, TheWrap has learned.

Bay gave Fox some time to pull her appearance together, but when she returned, the director expressed his displeasure in such a way that Fox walked off the blockbuster sequel, according to individuals close to the production. The people spoke to TheWrap on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The Wrap adds that Shia LaBeouf “isn’t happy” that Fox is being replaced by a model with no acting experience. If negotiations stay on, Huntington-Whiteley would join the cast and shoot alongside LaBeouf in about two weeks. I guess Heidi Montag wasn’t a good fit for the role…

Heidi Montag Transformers 3 audition tape [YouTube]

Cillian Murphy talks Inception and Batman 3

Cillian Murphy plays Fischer in Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” (July 16, 2010) and the actor discussed his role and the director in an interview with Total Film magazine. Here are some highlights courtesy Nolan Fans. Murphy reveals that he met with Nolan over a year ago and was given two hours to read the script to decide what character best fit him. Nolan had someone in mind and the two came to the same conclusion:

“He didn’t say, ‘Take whatever role you want.’ I wasn’t going to steal Leonardo DiCaprio’s part. But [Nolan] said, ‘I have an idea what you might be good for…Tell me what you think.’ And we both agreed. It’s different for me. It’s not like any character I’ve played before.”

The two agreed Murphy would be good for Fischer, a character “central to the narrative of the film” and the mark for the heist. “Chris has talked about it being an existential heist movie and if you take that, I would be a crucial cog in that heist set-up.”

Murphy also spoke very highly of Christopher Nolan, whom he has worked with in the past on films such as “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight”:

“[T]here is never confusion on a Chris Nolan set. Just to be around him… he has complete confidence in his abilities without ever appearing arrogant. He’s just at ease, and he gives actors great confidence. To feel a director like Chris has faith in you is very liberating.”

Murphy was also asked about “Batman 3″, but wouldn’t devulge any details, saying only that he’d be willing to reprise his Scarecrow role if asked:

“It’s not for me to start campaigning for the Scarecrow to come back but if Chris wants me back in that role, yeah, absolutely, I would love to do it…”

International trailer [YouTube via NolanFans]

Watch two more TV spots here and here

TV spot [YouTube]

Production images [more at NolanFans]

Character posters [more at Empire]

del Toro: MGM finance problems delaying Hobbit production + close to greenlight?

Speaking in a conference call last night about the upcoming thriller “Splice”, Guillermo del Toro confirmed that the situation at MGM has caused a delay in production on the two “Hobbit” films:

“There cannot be any start date until the MGM situation gets resolved because they hold considerable portion of the rights,” del Toro says. “It’s impossible to take a unilateral decision to give the greenlight to proceed. We really believe that the date will be known after they fact of MGM’s fate. Whether they stay or get supported or get some of the rights.”

“We have been caught in a very tangled negotiation,” del Toro. “Now I have been on the project for nearly two years. We have designed all the creatures, the sets, the wardrobe, animatics and planned action sequences and we are very, very prepared for when it is finally triggered. We don’t know anything until MGM is solved.”

The topic of 3D also came up, but del Toro said that at the moment it’s not being planned to be in 3D:

“3-D has been discussed once in the room,” del Toro says. “The budget and the schedule and the cost of the film the number of days it would take to shoot without looking toward 3-D. Is there a chance it will become 3-D in the future? Right now it’s not being planned as such.”

Having said all that, the 3D-focused blog MarketSaw is reporting that the film has been given a green light and production will begin this November. Also, despite the official word from the studio and crew, 3D is definitely happening, according to the site:

I have now heard from another top source embedded in New Zealand – 3D is definitely going to happen as all the animatics are being geared that way. If you want to believe what the official company line is – go ahead. This info is straight from my top sources. This source is less gung-ho about the green light announcement happening soon however. I will stay where I am though and that is touting that THE HOBBIT is greenlit and it is full steam ahead for November.

The two-picture project was first announced in December 2007.  Warner Brothers went on record as recently as this past April that the first film was still on track for a 2012 release date.

Sherlock Holmes 2 set for December 16, 2011 + The Flash close to greenlight

Warner Brothers has scheduled “Sherlock Holmes 2″ for release on December 16, 2011. The principal cast — Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law and Rachel McAdams — are all set to return. The first “Sherlock Holmes” was released this past Christmas and went on to gross more than $516 million worldwide. In other development news, Warner Brothers says they’re getting close to giving the green light to a film based on the popular DC Comics superhero “The Flash”. The announcements were made during a presentation on Thursday by Warner charimen and CEO Barry Meyer, who also noted that the third “Batman” film by Christopher Nolan will hit theaters on July 20, 2012 followed by the “Superman” reboot holiday 2012. Other release dates include:

  • “Red Riding Hood” (April 22, 2011)
  • “Journey to the Center of the Earth 2 (3D)” (September 23, 2011)”
  • “Happy Feet 2 (3D)” (November 18, 2011).

And finally, Meyer mentioned that films featuring “Wonder Woman”, “Aquaman” and “Mad” magazine characters are also in development.

Mass Effect: The movie

Legendary Pictures has purchased the movie rights to the video game franchise “Mass Effect”, with Heat Vision reporting that Mark Protosevich (“I Am Legend”, “Thor”) is in talks to write the script:

“Mass,” which debuted in 2008, is an epic sci-fi action game set in the year 2183, focusing on a human soldier and his starship, the SSV Normandy. The galaxy-spanning story involves a long-extinct race of aliens, dormant beacons and more alien species than you can shake a lightsaber at.

A sequel to the game was released in January.

Warner Brothers will share production and financing with Legendary Pictures, with Warner Brothers distributing worldwide. Check out a trailer for “Mass Effect 2″ embedded below:

Journey to the Center of the Earth sequel moving forward; New director + Brendan Fraser out

Brad Peyton has signed on to direct “Journey to the Center of the Earth 2″. However, one consequence of Peyton being on board could be the exit of original star Brendan Fraser who has expressed disinterest in the project unless original director Eric Brevigis — who is busy with other projects — returns [Deadline]:

New Line and Walden Media will move the picture right into pre-production, but they are preparing to redraw the film to make Josh Hutcherson the lead character.  Fraser played Prof. Trevor Anderson in the original, and Hutcherson played his nephew, Sean.

Deadline cautions that Fraser could still return for the sequel, but at the moment that looks unlikely. Like the original, the sequel will be shot and released in 3D. “Journey to the Center of the Earth 2″ will hit theaters on September 23, 2011.

Logan’s Run remake back on

The long-in-development “Logan’s Run” remake appears to be back on track at Warner Brothers with Carl Rinsch in talks to direct. Rinsch is well known in the commericial business and was recently attached to direct the “Alien” prequel before producer Ridley Scott decided he wanted to direct himself. Some background on the project:

“Logan’s Run” is best remembered as the 1976 film starring Michael York, Jenny Agutter and Farrah Fawcett, though it was based on a 1967 novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. The premise sees a future society that demands the death of everyone upon reaching a certain age. Anyone who veers from that destiny is dubbed a “runner” and is hunted by operatives known as Sandmen. Logan is a Sandman who is forced to go on the run.

The project had been set up at Warners since the mid-’90s but heated up in 2004 when Bryan Singer signed on to develop and direct with an eye toward a 2005 release. Singer had begun previsualization work on the project before he bolted to do “Superman Returns” for the studio. “Flightplan” director Robert Schwentke and James McTeigue were helmers that had been associated with the project, while Joseph Kosinski came attached to it in 2007. (Kosinski has since been busy with “Tron Legacy.”)

PREVIEW Videos & Images

The Chronicles of Riddick

Concept art from a presentation on the third ‘Riddick’ movie [more via Collider]

Despicable Me

Featurette: “A Look Inside” [YouTube]

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Epilogue set images [more at oclumencia via Collider]

John Carter of Mars

More images from the set [more at John Carter Movie]

Jonah Hex

Trailer #2 [IGN]

The Last Exorcism

Theatrical trailer [Yahoo! Movies]

Lost Boys: The Thirst

Official trailer [YouTube]

Predators

Adrien Brody teases finale [MTV]

Resident Evil: Afterlife

Promotional stills [via Movies.SpoilerTV.com]

Sharktopus

First image from the upcoming Syfy original movie [Karen O’Hara]

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Interview with producer Jerry Bruckheimer [IGN]

Behind the scenes featurette: “Good vs. Evil” [Yahoo! Movies]

Splice

Interview with director Vincent Natali [Fangoria]

Clip: “It’s Alive” [YouTube]

Watch three more clips: 1 | 2 | 3

Survival of the Dead

Interview with director George A. Romero [SCI FI Wire]

Toy Story 3

Clip: “Buzz Flies” [MySpace]

Featurette: “The Great Escape” [YouTube]

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

New posters [IGN]

TV spot: “Event” [Yahoo! Movies]

MOVIE BITES

  • Newly installed “Stretch Armstrong” director Nicholas Stoller reveals that he wants the film to have a Iron Man/James Bond vibe: “with that light tone of Iron Man but the gadgetry of James Bond. I’m very excited about playing around in that world. I’ve never had the opportunity to.” [SCI FI Wire]
  • Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s Bruckheimer Films have picked up the Terry Rossio and Bill Marsili epic space adventure “Lightspeed”: “Story centers on a young pilot who makes the Earth Interstellar Racing Team and must take his ship on a perilous journey across the galaxy on the brink of war.” Bruckheimer wants to make the film live-action and possibly in 3D. [Variety]
  • “Shrek Forever After” debuted in 1st place last weekend with $70.8M. Normally that would be an impressive opening, but for the 4-film “Shrek” franchise it’s a major disappointment. Expectations going into the weekend were for a $90M or so opening, instead it settles for the weakest opening since the original ($42.3M) and well below #2 ($108.0M) and #3 ($121.6M)… [BOM]
  • …In other box office news, Tim Burton’s 3D “Alice in Wonderland” became just the sixth film to pass the $1 billion mark in global box office ($332.4M domestic / $667.7M foreign).
  • “Splice” producer Joel Silver says nothing was changed to the Vincenzo Natali-directed creature feature to earn an R-rating from the MPAA and any chances made to the film since its Sundance premiere were “minimal”… [Shock Till You Drop]
  • …Check out interviews with director Vincenzo Natali at Cinematical and at SCI FI Wire.
  • “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” scribes Doug Miro and Carlos Bernard have moved on to “National Treasure 3″ which they say has a draft. They’re keeping details surrounding the plot secret, but Miro did reveal that they are working on a way to link the third film with “National Treasure: The Book of Secrets”: “…if you remember that bit at the end of the last one, we’re trying to pick up from that. We’ll see how it works, because it’s tricky. It’s a tricky one, what’s on Page 47 [of The Book of Secrets], but we’re trying to pick up from there.”… [ComingSoon.net]
  • “National Treasure 3″ is scheduled to star shooting late fall, early winter, with a possible Christmas 2011 release date, according to director Jon Turteltaub. [ComingSoon.net]
  • Stunt coordinator turned director Simon Crane was attached to direct “Kane and Lynch”, but it didn’t work out and word has it that Wayne Kramer (“Crossing Over”) is in talks to direct the film. Bruce Willis and Jamie Foxx are attached to star. [Latino Review]
  • Paramount Pictures has brought Platinum Dunes, the Michael Bay / Brad Fuller / Andrew Form-backed production house, on board to produce the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” reboot. The producers will meet with writers in the next few weeks. [Deadline]
  • Disney is pushing up the release of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” by two days. The film is now scheduled to hit theaters on Wednesday, July 14, giving it a little more space before Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” hits theaters that Friday. [BOM]
  • Check out interviews with “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” director Edgar Wright, stars Michael Cera and Jason Schwartzman and co-writer Michael Bacall at /Film, (2).
  • Pacificor LLC, owners of the “Terminator” franchise, have retained WWE to handle the sale of rights for the sci-fi property which includes future movies, TV series, DVDs and merchandise. [Variety]

CASTING BITES

  • Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (“LOST”) has been cast as “Derek Jameson” in Universal Pictures’ “The Thing” prequel. [Bloody Disgusting]
  • Jake Abel (“Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief”) has been cast in “I Am Number Four”. Abel will play the QB of the local high school football team and social rival to the title character (played by Alex Pettyfer). [MTV]
  • Emma Roberts will play Jill in “Scream 4″. Her role is described as being “one of the the film’s primary heroines.” In related news, Dimension Films has confirmed that Hayden Panettiere and Rory Culkin have all joined the project. Additionally, Lake Bell and Ashley Greene are both reportedly in negotiations to join the film. [ComingSoon.net & Heat Vision blog]
  • There’s a rumor that Jeremy Renner will play Hawkeye in “The Avengers”. [AICN]
  • Kristin Kreuk, Keisha Castle-Hughes and Rachel Leigh Cook are reportedly joining the cast of Iwai Shunji’s “Vampire”. [Screen Daily]
  • DreamWorks Animation has confirmed that Gary Oldman has joined the voice cast of “Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom” and also announced that Michelle Yeoh, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Victor Garber have joined the cast as well. The film has been moved up to May 27, 2011 (from a previously announced release date of June 3, 2011). [ComingSoon.net]

Hi, I’m a Marvel… and I’m a DC: The Musical [YouTube]

FUN VIDEOS

Hi, I’m a Marvel… and I’m a DC: The Musical [YouTube]

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

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