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I'll do my best to read and respond to your e-mails. Sci-Fi Movies: The Hobbit, Spider-Man, Superman, Wolverine, Transformes, Paul, Oz + more

Cross-posted at

In this week’s Sci-Fi Movies column we have a ton of Hobbit news, including the casting of Bilbo Baggins. , . Plus more, including the latest casting bites, images and videos. There is also news and casting (and rumors) on the next Spider-man and Superman movies, a description for the next Transformer movie and more. We also have all the latest previews, including a teaser trailer for Simon Pegg’s Paul.


Hobbit ready to go w/ Bilbo (and more) cast but won’t film in New Zealand

Good news/bad news this week on “The Hobbit” front. First up, Peter Jackson has finalized his deal to direct the two-part $500M film which has officially been greenlit by Warner Brothers and MGM. Production will begin as early as next February and ‘Part 1’ has a rumored release date of December 19, 2012. In addition the lead role of Bilbo Baggins has been cast with Deadline reporting that Martin Freeman (Hot Fuzz, Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy) has been cast. Peter Jackson said of Freeman:

There has only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us There are a few times in your career when you come across an actor who you know was born to play a role, but that was the case as soon as I met Martin. He is intelligent, funny, surprising and brave–exactly like Bilbo and I feel incredibly proud to be able to announce that he is our Hobbit.

Deadline also reports that Jimmy Nesbitt and David Tennant have been offered roles in the project with Stephen Frye, Saoirse Ronan and Bill Nighy (as the voice of the dragon Smaug) as “are possible participants, and Aiden Turner is in contention for the Elf King”. Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis are also expected to reprise their roles as Gandalf and Gollum, respectively, but deals have not been completed yet. More quotes from Jackson at Deadline. In additional casting news Jackson has also cast several Dwarf characters:

Richard Armitage (MI-5 and Captain America: The First Avenger) will play Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the Company of Dwarves which sets off to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from a thieving dragon. Aidan Turner (Being Human) and Rob Kazinsky (EastEnders) will play Kili and Fili, members of the Company of Dwarves. Graham McTavish (Secretariat) will play Dwalin, John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury) will play Oin; Stephen Hunter (All Saints) will play Bombur, and Mark Hadlow (King Kong) plays Dori, while Peter Hambleton (The Strip) will play Gloin.

Now the bad news. Despite the union issue in New Zealand having been settled, Peter Jackson says that the two-part project won’t be filmed in the country. Jackson released a joint statement with co-writer/executive producer Fran Walsh announcing that Warner Brothers will likely film the project in another country [The Press of New Zealand]:

Sir Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh said the lifting of the actors union’s blacklist “does nothing to help the film stay in New Zealand”.

“The damage inflicted on our film industry by [the actors unions] is long since done.”

The move has undermined Warner Brothers confidence in the industry “and they are now, quite rightly, very concerned about the security of their $500m investment”.

“Next week Warners are coming down to New Zealand to make arrangements to move the production offshore. It appears we cannot make films in our own country even when substantial financing is available.”

New Line and Warner Brothers on Thursday say they are still considering alternative locations:

“It was not until last night [Wednesday] that we received confirmation of the retractions from SAG, NZ Equity and AFTRA through press reports,” Warners and New Line said in a brief statement. “We are still awaiting retractions from other guilds.”

Warners and New Line said it has been waiting for almost a month for a lifting of the “improper” do no work orders, but that NZ Equity continued to demand that Warners participate in union negotiations. Studios said such talks would have been illegal, since the New Zealand government does not consider NZ Equity a union.

“We have refused to do so, and will continue to refuse to do so. The actions of these unions have caused us substantial damage and disruption, and forced us to consider other filming locations for the first time,” Warners and New Line said. “Alternative locations are still being considered.”

Disney purchases distribution rights for Iron Man 3 and The Avengers from Paramount; IM3 set for May 2013

Disney, Paramount and Marvel have announced that they’ve reached an agreement that will have Paramount transfer its worldwide marketing and distribution rights to Disney for “The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3”. Under the terms of the deal, Disney will pay $115M — which will increase based on box office gross — to be paid on the theatrical release dates of The Avengers (May 4, 2012) and “Iron Man 3” (which has been set for release on May 3, 2013). You can read the full press release here. “Thor” (May 6, 2011) and “Captain America: The First Avenger” (July 22, 2011) will both be distributed by Paramount, but every Marvel-based film thereafter will be distributed by Disney, as part of the studio’s recent acquisition of Marvel Studios. This will of course put a greater focus on Paramount’s existing blockbuster franchises such as “Indiana Jones”, ‘Transformers”, “G.I. Joe” and…”Star Trek”. “Untitled Star Trek Sequel” hits theaters in June 2012 as the studio’s main summer blockbuster whereas before this news, the summer season would have kicked for the studio with May’s release of “The Avengers”.

First Teaser for Simon Pegg’s Paul

The first teaser trailer has been released for Paul, the sci-fi comedy written and starring Star Trek’s Simon Pegg. Paul will be in theaters in February 2011. [MSN]

Zack Snyder says he’s considering 3D for Superman + Brandon Routh still in the running?

“Superman: The Man of Steel” (unconfirmed title) director Zack Snyder says he hasn’t ruled one way or the other whether the film will be shot in 3D, although he’s leaning towards using 3D as long as it isn’t used as “a gimmick”:

“I don’t know for sure, I can’t say for sure but I will say that the experience of the 3D in Guardians was so successful for what I wanted it to do. I think that 3D is pretty awesome if it’s done as part of the cinematic language as opposed to being a gimmick.”

Meanwhile, Snyder said that the project won’t be based on any particular story from the comic books [Films Actu | Translated by Google via Bleeding Cool]:

As I have already explained, the film will focus on early days of Superman, so there will be no links with other films. This is not a remake then. Similarly, although I still can not talk about the script, I can assure you that this new Superman will not be based on a comic book in particular.

And finally, there are conflicting reports on the casting of Superman in the film. According to the British newspaper News of the World, Snyder is open to recasting Brandon Routh as the lead [via Den of Geek]:

“I didn’t realise there was such a groundswell,” Snyder was quoted as saying.

At the same time, however, there are hints that they may go for an older Superman. When asked about rumors about him being considered to play Superman, Armie Hammer told Vulture that he has looked into the possibility but got the feeling that the studio was looking for an older actor to play the role:

You’ve made a lot of people’s Superman fantasy-casting lists. Did you have your people put in a call to Zack Snyder, who’s directing the reboot?

[Laughs.] You know what’s funny? I did talk to my people recently about that for the first time, and I think they’re going a little older with Superman. I hear they’re going 35, 40.

Rhys Ifans will play The Lizard in Spider-Man reboot

Sony still isn’t confirming it, but recently cast Rhys Ifans will play the villain The Lizard in Marc Webb’s upcoming 3D reboot “Spider-Man” [The Wrap]:

Rhys Ifans will play Dr. Curt Connors, better known as The Lizard, in Marc Webb’s “Spider-Man,” TheWrap has learned.

The Wrap also reported that Venom will not be in the film:

There had been rumors across the blogosphere that Sony was thinking of bringing back Venom for the franchise reboot, but that character will not be featured in the movie…

In related news, Moviehole is reporting that Sony has sent out a casting call for young actors to play the roles of a Young Peter Parker and the role of Billy Connors, who of course is the son of Dr. Curt Connors / The Lizard:

Description for Transformers: The Dark of the Moon + Will be shot AND post-converted in 3D

A description for Michael Bay’s upcoming “Transformers 3”, now titled “Transformers: The Dark of the Moon”, has been revealed courtesy a listing on for the book “Transformers 3 Push-Pops [Board Book]” [via TFW2005]:

“The Autobots Bumblebee, Ratchet, Ironhide and Sideswipe led by Optimus Prime, are back in action, taking on the evil Decepticons, who are determined to avenge their defeat in 2009’s Transformers Revenge of the Fallen. In this new movie, the Autobots and Decepticons become involved in a perilous space race between the U.S. and Russia, and once again human Sam Witwicky has to come to the aid of his robot friends. There’s new characters too, including a new villain in the form of Shockwave, a longtime “Transformers” character who rules Cybertron while the Autobots and Decepticons battle it out on Earth.”

In other news, director of photography Vince Pace revealed that the film is being both shot and post-converted in 3D:

“We’re doing Transformers with Michael Bay, and that’s a big challenge because he’s not the kind of director that’s going to give you a break…But he met it halfway and he said, look, it complements my product, and I want to incorporate this into my shooting style…They’re doing both”.

“Transformers: The Dark of the Moon” is scheduled to hit theaters on July 1, 2011.

Details on Oz, The Great and Powerful

Details have leaked for the Sam Raimi-directed ‘Wizard of Oz’ prequel “Oz, The Great and Powerful”. As previously reported, Robert Downey Jr. is expected to take the lead role in the Mitchell Kapner-scripted project [via Pajiba]:

…[T]he Wizard — a snake-oil salesman posing as a magician — enter[s] Oz via a hot-air balloon, which he uses to escape an angry husband who has found out that Oz slept with his wife. There, Oz — a fast-talking huckster who wears a velveteen frock coat (yes, I can see that) — falls in love with Glinda (the Good Witch), and the two combine forces to Fight the Evil Witches Evanora and Theodora. Theodora starts out as a good witch, but after Oz jilts her sexual advances, Evanora — the truly evil witch — convinces Theodora to become an evil witch with her and help her to rule all of Oz. Both Evanora and Theodora are described as incredibly attractive, seductive women, and Theodora likes to wear black, thigh-high boots.

Hugh Jackman confirms Darren Aronofsky will direct Wolverine 2

Shortly after news broke that Darren Aronofksy had basically finalized his deal to direct “X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2”, star Hugh Jackman confirmed that Aronofsky will direct the project. Jackman also promised that the sequel will be “thoughtful” and “meaty”:

Chris McQuarrie, who wrote The Usual Suspects, has written the script, so that’ll give you a good clue. [Aronofsky’s] going to make it fantastic. There’s going to be some meat on the bones. There will be something to think about as you leave the theater, for sure.”

‘Wolverine 2’ will begin shooting next March in New York before moving to Japan to complete the majority of the movie. A release date for the sequel has not been announced.

PREVIEW Videos & Images


Collector’s Edition DVD/Blu-ray trailer [Trailer Addict]

Watch a deleted scene here

Drive Angry

Movie poster [Shock Till You Drop]

Movie trailer [Yahoo! Movies]


Bill Murray in costume at the SpikeTV Scream Awards [AP]

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Character posters [more at IMPAwards]

Movie trailer [YouTube]

Mars Needs Moms

Movie poster [Yahoo! Movies]

Scream 4

Promotional still [E! Online]

Teaser trailer [Trailer Addict]

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

Behind the scenes images [more at Vanity Fair]

TRON: Legacy

Movie poster (re-creation of the original 1982 “TRON” poster) [Yahoo! Movies]


  • James Cameron confirmed that he intends to direct “Avatar 2 and “Avatar 3” back-to-back: “Our plan, right now, is to make two and three together as a single large production, and release them a year apart.”… [ScreenRant]
  • …Cameron also all-but confirmed that Sigourney Weaver’s character — despite what happened to her in the original — will return: “Who said she died? Nobody dies in a science fiction movie. Whether Grace lives or dies depends more on Sigourney’s agent than anything.”… [ScreenRant]
  • …Speaking of “Avatar”, the collector’s edition DVD/Blu-ray will be released on November 16 and will feature an opening sequence showing Earth in the future. In total, the DVD/Blu-ray release will feature three cuts of the film: the original theatrical cut, the extended theatrical cut and a new exctended cut plus 45 minutes of deleted scenes and various other special features. [USA Today]
  • “The Fourth Kind” writer Olatunde Osunsanmi is writing and directing a lunar “found footage” film called “Dark Moon”. The basic premise of the film is that the moon landings continued after Apollo 17 with the film following “a black ops post-Apollo mission sent to the moon to explore previously classified discoveries and its unintended and disturbing consequences.” [Heat Vision | THR]
  • Danny Boyle re-iterated his desire to direct “28 Months Later” but there isn’t a script and the soonest it could probably get underway would be after 2012. [Shock Till You Drop]
  • Ben Affleck is in early talks with Warner Brothers to direct and possibly star in “Replay”. The Jason Smilovic-scripted project is an adaptation of a Ken Grimwood novel about a “43-year old radio journalist who dies, wakes up in his 18-year old body, and gets to relive his life over and over.” [Deadline]
  • Jonathan Demme, Mike White, Matt Reeves and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” team Phil Lord and Chris Miller are in the running to direct Lionsgate’s big screen adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”… [The Wrap]
  • …Others rumored to be in the mix include Mike Newell and Neil Marshall. [Deadline]
  • Hasbro and Universal Pictures may move “Stretch Armstrong”, starring Taylor Lautner, from 2012 to 2013. [THR]
  • Sigourney Weaver says she “would be surprised if [the Ghostbusters group] didn’t do [“Ghostbusters III”]…
  • …And on that note, Sony has reportedly approved the script for “Ghostbusters III”. [Ghostbusters Italia via Bloody Disgusting]
  • Watch an interview with “Green Lantern” writer Marc Guggenheim, where he addresses rumors circulating the project, over at Newsarama.
  • “Star Trek” star Karl Urban says that the team behind the new “Judge Dredd” film are “going to make sure that [their adaptation] hits the mark”, unlike the 1995 Sylverster Stallone-starring adaptation. [Moviefone]
  • Mark Millar wrote on his official board that two movie offers have already come in for his recent book “Superior” and both people — one director and one producer — suggested Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) for the lead role. [MillarWorld]
  • Guillermo del Toro has denied rumors that he is directing the “Godzilla” reboot, which is reportedly being folded into Travis Beacham’s script for “Pacific Rim”. [HitFix and Latino Review]
  • Michael Giacchino is keeping his slate full. Over the coming years the composer will score “John Carter of Mars”, “Cars 2”, Super 8 and “Mission: Impossible IV”. [Variety]
  • Dimension Films has set Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan to write and John Gulager to direct a sequel to this past summer’s Alexandre Aja-directed “Piranha 3D”. The sequel will be titled “Piranha 3 DD” and is scheduled to hit theaters in August 2011. [Deadline]
  • It may not seem to be the best film to make use of the large-screen format, but Paramount and IMAX have announced that “Paranormal Activity 2” will be released to digital IMAX theaters worlwdie simultaneously with the film’s release tomorrow, October 22. [via YourEntNow]
  • The script for Ridley Scott’s “Alien” prequel has been leaked online, details of which have been released. Although it’s unclear what version of the script was seen, it appears to be accurate because the studio has requested the source site (what’s playing) to remove it. You can still read the details at the via link. [what’s playing via WorstPreviews]
  • M. Night Shyamalan will direct, but not write, a sci-fi project titled “One Thousand A.E.”. Plot details are being kept under wraps, but the film is being developed as a vehicle for actor Jaden Smith. Smith’s father Will Smith is producing but won’t be starring, although there is a role for an adult male. [Heat Vision | THR]
  • Mandate Pictures has picked up “The Day of the Triffids” and Sam Raimi wants to direct it. The project is based on the 1951 alien-invasion novel by John Wyndham: “…when a shower of meteorites lights up the sky, it creates such a gorgeous sight that most earthlings can’t help but look…The meteorites unleash Triffids, plants capable of moving around so they can better attack the blind.”  [Deadline]
  • New Line Cinema has greenlit Bryan Singer’s “Jack the Giant Killer” and the casting process has begun. Aaron Johnson (“Kick-Ass”) is currently favored, but other young actors are also being looked at. [Deadline]


  • Mark Wahlberg has reportedly been offered the lead role in Relativity Media’s remake of the 1994 film “The Crow”. However, Stephen Norrington recently announced that he has departed the project as director so it’s unclear where it stands and if it’ll get made. [Bloody Disgusting and Mania]
  • Anne Hathaway and James Franco are possible casting picks for Ridley Scott’s “Alien” prequel. [Bloody Disgusting]
  • Bradley Cooper has denied rumors that he is the frontrunner to play the lead in “The Flash”: “I’ve never heard anything about it ever in my life,” Cooper responded. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not the studio’s choice, however. [SuperHeroHype]
  • Morena Baccarin (“Firefly”, “V”) has addressed rumors that she may play The Wasp in Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers”: “I wish I had more information for you,” she said (with a notable big beaming smile)” [Access Hollywood]
  • Johnny Galecki (“The Big Bang Theory”) has joined the cast of writer/director Andrew Niccol’s untitled sci-fi project (fomerly titled “I’m.mortal”). Galecki joins previously cast Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried and Olivia Wilde in the project. He’ll play Timberlake’s best friend, “a screw-up of a father with a drinking problem who wastes all of his family’s excess time.” [Heat Vision | THR]
  • Lyndsy Fonseca and Kaya Scodelario are rumored to be in the running to play the lead role of Katniss Everdeen in upcoming movie adaptation of “The Hunger Games”. [Shelf Life | EW]
  • Vanessa Hudgens is in final negotations to play the female lead in “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”. [Heat Vision | THR]
  • Sharlto Copley, Alec Baldwin and Gemma Arterton are all in negotiations to join the cast of “Men in Black 3”. [Pajiba]
  • Sanaa Lathan has joined the cast of Steven Soderbergh’s sci-fi drama “Contagion”. [Variety]
  • Bruce Willis is open to the recent rumor of him playing The Thing in the “Fantastic Four” reboot: “It’s a rumor, but I love rumors,” said Willis. “I haven’t gotten that call yet. It’s a good rumor, though. I like that film. It’s a good comic, as well.”.[MTV Splash Page]
  • Summit Entertainment has cast the roles for the Amazon Coven, The Egyptian Coven, The Irish Coven and The Romanian Coven in “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”. [via]
  • Keith Richards will reprise his role as Captain Jack Sparrow’s father, Captain Teague in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”. [Reuters]
  • Colin Farrell is the frontrunner to play the lead role in Len Wiseman’s reboot of the classic sci-fi film “Total Recall”. While Farrell is on the top of the list, others in the running include Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender. [Heat Vision | THR]
  • J. Michael Straczynyski has revealed his cameo role in Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor”. Read the description at Comic Book Movie.

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