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I'll do my best to read and respond to your e-mails. Sci-Fi Movies: The Dark Knight Rises, Captain America, The Hobbit, Avatar, Super 8 + more

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In this week’s Sci-Fi Movies column we have the first look at the Captain America movie, some details and a title for the next Batman movie, release dates for a Super 8 and more genre films, a Hobbit shooting update, another Star Wars rumor.

Summary of Column Contents

  • First official look at Chris Evans as Captain America
  • Nolan’s third Batman gets a title: The Dark Knight Rises
  • Avatar 2 and 3 set for 2014 and 2015
  • The Hobbit will film in New Zealand; NZ passes law to make sure it stays in country
  • J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 gets a date: June 10, 2011
  • Rumor: Warner Brothers wants Chris Pine to play The Flash
  • Lucas planning new Star Wars trilogy? Lucasfilm immediately denies

Much more, including the latest casting bites, images and videos after the jump.


First official look at Chris Evans as Captain America

This week’s edition of Entertainment Weekly — on newstands now — features a cover-story on “Captain America: The First Avenger” (June 22, 2011). Here’s a look at the cover, along with scans from the pages within –giving us new looks at Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter and Hugo Weaving as — a pre-Red Skull — Johann Schmidt. [Pow Watch | EW &]

Nolan’s third Batman gets a title: The Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan has revealed the title for his third Batman movie: “The Dark Knight Rises”. Here’s what the director told Hero Complex | LA Times about the title:

“We’ll use many of the same characters as we have all along, and we’ll be introducing some new ones,” Nolan said cryptically. I had an odd thought: What if Nolan somehow brings back Harvey Dent? The only reason I even mention it is because, back during post-production on the second film, Nolan told me that the title “The Dark Knight” was just as much about Dent and his fall from the status of shining-knight civic crusader. Dent was plainly dead at the end of the last film, though, and Nolan has been intent on keeping his Gotham City film firmly rooted in a gritty gangland realism– this isn’t a franchise that has veered off into the supernatural or even much super-science.

Nolan also ruled out the use of 3D — he’ll instead stick with a mixture of High-Def and IMAX — and ruled out the rumored use of The Riddler as the villain, “It won’t be the Riddler”, Nolan told the site. With that casting rumor out of the way…how about we move forward with another? Moviehole reports that Nolan has begun the casting process for a new female lead:

Several young (“Late 20′s, early 30′s”) ladies are meeting with the Caped Crusader’s resuscitator this week to talk about the new film. Interestingly enough, quite a few of the ladies don’t actually know what role they’re being asked to read for/meet Nolan about (yep, security is tighter on this thing than the department store Jonathan Switcher worked at in “Mannequin” – Okay, maybe a bit tighter than that) they’ve just accepted an offer to “meet” with the filmmaker. Presumably, they’ll leave the meeting knowing quite a bit more.

One of the rumored characters is…Catwoman. “The Dark Knight Rises” is scheduled to hit theaters on July 20, 2012 (two weeks after the “Star Trek” sequel).

Avatar 2 and 3 set for 2014 and 2015

We’ll be visiting Pandora again sooner than expected. Director James Cameron has announced that he will film “Avatar 2” and “Avatar 3” back-to-back for release in theaters in 2014 and 2015, respectively:

“I’m looking forward to returning to Pandora, a world where our imaginations can run wild,” Cameron said in a statement released by Twentieth Century Fox, which is eager to go back to the jungles of a distant moon where the studio found the biggest box-office grosses in history. In a joint statement, Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairs Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman said: ” ‘Avatar’ is not only the highest grossing movie of all time, it is a created universe based on the singular imagination and daring of James Cameron, who also raised the consciousness of people worldwide to some of the greatest issues facing our planet.”

The Hobbit will film in New Zealand; NZ passes law to make sure it stays in country

Last week “The Hobbit” director Peter Jackson was concerned about the status of filming on the two-part project, proclaiming that at the moment it appeared it would not film in New Zealand. However, Prime Minister John Key announced earlier this week — via press conference — that the movies will be shot in New Zealand [via Deadline]:

Producer/director Peter Jackson is celebrating. Warner Bros executives were locked in negotiations all day with New Zealand government leaders. Then Prime Minister John Key announced at a press conference tonight that The Hobbit back-to-back movies will be made in New Zealand. That’s a $500+ million project, and the Hollywood studio bargained considerable perks for itself. Tax rebates of up to an extra $7.5 million per movie are arranged, subject to the success of the pics. The NZ government will offset $10 million of Warner Bros’ marketing costs as part of the strategic partnership.

New Line/WB/MGM recently issued a statement:

New Line, Warner Bros and MGM are pleased to have concluded successful discussions with the New Zealand government this past week. We’d like to thank Prime Minister Key, his Cabinet and the other dedicated New Zealand officials for their support and cooperation, which helped assuage our concerns and enabled us to keep The Hobbit in its proper home of New Zealand.

We’d also like to express very special appreciation to Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and the people of New Zealand for their tireless support of The Hobbit and their commitment to maintain and grow their vibrant film industry. Filming is scheduled to begin in February 2011 and we look forward to returning to Middle-earth.

And what of future concerns relating to labor disputes? Variety reports that New Zealand legislators have approved an amendment to the country’s existing labor law. “Hobbit law” will assure the film is shot locally:

The change in the law was part of a package hammered out earlier this week by prime minister John Key to persuade Warners to keep the two pics in New Zealand. The revision — dubbed The Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill — specifies that actors and other film production personnel hired as independent contractors can not subsequently claim to be employees, preventing the workers from claiming additional rights.

There’s also news this week on the casting front with Sylvester McCoy (best known for playing the seventh TV incarnation of The Doctor) confirming that he will play the wizard Radagast The Brown in the films. “The Hobbit: Part I” is rumored to have a December 19, 2012 release date with ‘Part II’ to follow the following December.

J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 gets a date: June 10, 2011

Paramount has set J.J. Abrams’ secretive sci-fi project “Super 8” for release on June 10, 2011. Details on the project, which is currently filming in West Virginia, remain limited but rumors suggest it will involve aliens. This is Abrams’ first film since directing “Star Trek”. Competition wise it’ll go head-to-head with the romantic comedy “Something Borrowed” and the action film “Fast Five”. It’s also sandwiched between several expected hollywood blockbusters — releasing after “Thor” (May 6), “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” (May 20), “The Hangover 2” and “Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom” (both on May 27) and releasing before “Green Lantern” (June 17), “Cars 2” and “Rise of the Apes” (both June 24) and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (July 1).

Super 8 set video [YouTube]

Watch another set video here

In other box office release date news:

  • Universal has set a November 9, 2012 release date for “Ouija”, a December 21, 2012 release date “Snow White and the Huntsman” and a May 17, 2013 release date for “The Dark Tower”. []
  • 20th Century Fox has picked June 22, 2012 (the week before the “Star Trek” sequel) as the release date for the Seth Graham-Smith-scripted / Timur Bekmambetov-directed “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” while Summit Entertainment has pushed back the Nicolas Cage-starrer 3D “Drive Angry” to February 25, 2011 (from February 11, 2011). [Deadline & Box Office Mojo]

Rumor: Warner Brothers wants Chris Pine to play The Flash

Could “Star Trek’s” Chris Pine next play Barry Allen / The Flash? That’s what Warner Brothers apparently wants. It’s pretty much just a throw-away line buried in a Screen Rant article on an interview Newsarama conducted with “The Flash” writer Marc Guggenheim, but here is what Screen Rant reports:

Current rumors for casting the lead point toward Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, The A-Team) although he denies it. Other rumors through the grapevine hint at Chris Pine as a sought-after lead.

Bolding added for emphasis. Chris Pine would be a good fit for the role, but the up-and-coming actor’s full schedule may have other plans. As previously reported the script for “The Flash”, which is currently being written by Greg Berlanti, Michael Green and Marc Guggenheim, is due into the studio by this Christmas. You can watch the interview with Guggenheim at Newsarama, excerpts of which can be read at Screen Rant.

Lucas planning new Star Wars trilogy? Lucasfilm immediately denies

Could Lucas be planning a new “Star Wars” trilogy? That’s what the new is reporting:

Uncle George’s modus operandi has not changed, the plan is that he will self finance the new trilogy after he rakes in an expected $500 – $750 million dollars with the re-release of the entire Star Wars Saga in 3D and on Blu-Ray.

As previously reported Lucasfilm will re-release all six “Star Wars” movies in 3D in theaters and on Blu-ray beginning in 2012 at a clip of one a year. The seventh film would reportedly be ready for release within 24 months of the sixth film (so 2012-2016 for the 3D re-releases and a seventh “Star Wars” by 2018). Here are some more details from the report:

Too early for story details but one thing that our source is certain about, they will not be prequels but instead sequels. It’s not for certain if they will be the long awaited Episodes 7, 8 and 9 but could instead be Episodes 10, 11 and 12 or possibly even further out in the Star Wars timeline. And by giving space in the timeline, possibly even as far as 100 years or 1,000 years in the Star Wars universe future, Lucas avoids having to make these stories “fit in” with what the previous stories have told.

According to our sources, the most likely scenario for the films is that they will exist in the same universe but will not have anything to do with the Skywalker Clan. That story has been told, that starship has sailed.

Not surprisingly, Lucasfilm quickly debunked the report [via Underwire | Wired]:

“This is, of course, completely false,” Lucasfilm spokesman Josh Kushins told in an e-mail Saturday about the report. “George Lucas has plenty of projects to keep him busy right now — including plenty of Star Wars projects — but there are no new Star Wars feature films planned.”

PREVIEW Videos & Images


Clip [YouTube]

Watch two more clips here and here

Now (previously titled “I’m.mortal”)

Set images of Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried [more at Daily]


Promotional stills [IGN]


Promotional stills [via Cinema Blend]

Promo video [via Cinema Blend]

Watch two more promos here

The Thing (prequel)

Interview with Joel Edgerton and Eric Christian Olsen [Movies Blog | MTV]

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Possible teaser poster [TLAMB]

ET promo clip [YouTube]

Watch two more ET promo clips here and here

TRON: Legacy

Music video for Daft Punk’s “Derezzed” [YouTube]

New clip [YouTube]

X-Men: First Class

Interview with Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) [Splash Page | MTV]


  • Warner Brothers has picked up an original pitch by Kevin and Dan Hageman based on the fictional ACME warehouse from the “Looney Tunes”. [Heat Vision | THR]
  • James Cameron reportedly wants Louis Leterrier to direct the 3D remake of “Fantastic Voyage”, of which Cameron is producing. Cameron has also brought on board his frequent collaborator Laeta Kalogridis to do a “quick polish” of the Shane Salerno script. [Deadline]
  • “Paranormal Activty 2” grossed a R-rated record $6.3M from midnight screenings and grossed a supernatural horror record $40.7M last weekend. The previous record was for “The Grudge” ($39.1M). [Box Office Mojo]
  • Lucasfilm is expected to announce next month that they are converting the “Indiana Jones” saga to 3D for theatrical re-releases. [Blue Sky Disney]
  • Gary Ross is in negotiations to direct an adaptation of “The Hunger Games”. [Shelf Life | EW]
  • Marvel Studios has delayed production on “Runaways”. [Deadline]
  • Director Su-yeon Kim says he’ll be filming “Host 2” in 3D: “Given the nature of the film and the current trends in the global film market, we think that 3D is the medium to go…But this will delay the film’s release date and bring significant changes to the film’s logistics.” [THR]
  • Check out a report from the set of “Green Lantern” over at IGN.
  • Warner Brothers has greenlit Bryan Singer’s 3D “Jack the Giant Killer” movie. [Deadline]
  • “The Avengers” director Joss Whedon says his version of the Hulk — played by Mark Ruffalo — will be more like Bill Bixby from the TV series: “We want him to be an everyman, not so dour. A little more charming or accessible. We’re still sort of working it out with the script. I’m not exactly sure what it’ll end up being, but we’ve talked quite a bit about the Bill Bixby version of the Hulk”. [Digital Spy]
  • With Robert Rodriguez no longer attached to direct “Deadpool”, a new name has entered the picture: Swedish commericial and video director Adam Berg. [24 Frames | LA Times]
  • There’s a report that Sony has cut the budget of “Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance” to $75M from its original projected budget of $135M. [The Wrap]
  • Sylvain White and Scott Stewart are in the running to direct Universal’s 2012 adaptation of the board game “Ouija”. [Deadline]
  • Stephen Norrington is no longer attached to direct the proposed remake of “Crow”. Norrington also wrote the script for the remake (although Nick Cave was brought on board to do a polish). [Mania]
  • It’s confirmed. Steven Spielberg’s next directorial project will be the Drew Goddard-scripted adaptation of the upcoming Daniel H. Wilson novel “Robopocalypse”. The novel is about “the human race’s attempt to survive an apocalyptic robot uprising”. Filming is expected in 2012 with a release in 2013. The novel will be published by Doubleday in June 2011. [Deadline]
  • Lionsgates’ “Saw 3D” took in an estimated $1.7M from midnight-Thursday screenings. The the seventh film in the franchise is expected to gross $20M through Sunday. Although no where near the record highs in the franchise — Saw III ($33.6M), “Saw IV” ($31.8M) and “Saw II” ($31.7M) — its signficantly stronger than last year’s “Saw VI” which grossed a franchise-worst $14.1M in its opening frame (en route to a $27.7M domestic cume). [THR]


  • Kristin Davis (“Sex and the City”) has joined the cast of “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”. Davis will play the mother to Josh Hutcherson’s character and a love interest to co-star Dwayne Johnson [Deadline]
  • Colin Farrell is reportedly at the top of the list to play the lead in Len Wiseman’s reboot of “Total Recall”. Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender are also reportedly rumored for the role. [Heat Vision | THR]
  • Michael Sheen will reprise his role as the vampire leader of the Volturi in “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”. [Variety]
  • Robert Downey Jr. will reportedly have to exit Alfonso Cauron’s “Gravity” due to scheduling conflicts. [Deadline]
  • Stan Lee says he hasn’t filmed a cameo for “Captain America: The First Avenger” and isn’t sure if he’ll be able to since it’s filming in the UK: “I don’t know. They’re filming it in London and I don’t have the time to go there. Now if they shoot any scenes here in the States, I’m sure that I will be in one of them…”. [freep via Comic Book Movie]
  • 20th Century Fox and director Ridley Scott have completed meetings with actresses to play the role of Ripley in the “Alien” prequel and Scott’s favorite is reportedly “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” star Noomi Rapace. [Deadline]
  • John Slattery and Sam Elliot are two names mentioned as possible actors to fill the role of Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson in Marc Webb’s “Spider-Man”. J.K. Simmons played the character in the three Sam Raimi movies. [What’s Playing]
  • Summit Entertainment has announced that Olga Fonda (Love Hurts), Janelle Froehlich (Hacienda Heights), Masami Kosaka (The Runaways), Sebastiao Lemos (Brazilian TV series Força-Tarefa), Amadou Ly (The Tested, The Bridge), Ty Olsson (X2), Wendell Pierce (Ray), and Carolina Virguez have all joined the cast of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”. [via Cinema Blend]
  • Speaking of Rodriguez, the director is currently shooting “Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World” and Jeremy Piven has signed on to play the film’s villain. The film is scheduled to hit theaters on August 19, 2011. [/Film]

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