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TrekMovie.com Sci-Fi Movies: Avatar, The Hunger Games, Rise of the Apes, Prometheus, X-Men: First Class, The Hobbit, Tron 3 + more

Cross-posted at TrekMovie.com

In this week’s Sci-Fi Movies column, we’ve got big casting news in the form of the announcement of Henry Cavill as Superman, an update on Cameron’s plans for Avatar 2 and 3, release date updates for Rise of the Apes and Promotheus, news on Tron 3

Summary of Column Contents

  • Henry Cavill is the next Superman
  • James Cameron says plan is for Avatar 2 in 2014 followed by Avatar 3 in 2015 + An update on Battle Angel
  • Release dates: The Hunger Games, Rise of the Apes and Prometheus (plus Michael Fassbender joins cast)
  • Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci to produce Ender’s Game big-screen adaptation
  • Bale says he’s open to a fourth Nolan Batman film + Dark Knight Rises begins shooting in May and Joseph Gordon-Levitt joins cast
  • No best director nod for Christopher Nolan, but Inception gets eight oscar nominations
  • Matthew Vaughn says ‘First Class’ is “X-Men meets Bond”
  • The Hobbit gets slight filming delay + Elijah Wood offers story details and Saorise Ronan joins cast
  • Summit confirms development on Red 2
  • TRON 3 teaser trailer to be included on TRON: Legacy Blu-ray/DVD?
  • Captain America title to be shortened overseas?

…and more, including the latest casting bites, images and videos.

GENRE MOVIE NEWS

Henry Cavill is the next Superman

We have our Man of Steel. Warner Brothers has announced that British actor Henry Cavill has been cast as Superman in the upcoming Zack Snyder-directed / Christopher Nolan-produced reboot (working title “Superman: Man of Steel”). Here’s what Snyder said about the casting:

Zack Snyder: “In the pantheon of superheroes, Superman is the most recognized and revered character of all time, and I am honored to be a part of his return to the big screen. I also join Warner Bros., Legendary and the producers in saying how excited we are about the casting of Henry. He is the perfect choice to don the cape and S shield.”

Superman: Man of Steel (working title) is scheduled to hit theaters in December 2012.

James Cameron says plan is for Avatar 2 in 2014 followed by Avatar 3 in 2015 + An update on Battle Angel

James Cameron has always hinted that the wait between “Avatar” and its planned sequels would be long, and the director has now confirmed that fact. Cameron told Entertainment Weekly that the “current plan” is to shoot both films back-to-back and release them in Christmas 2014 and Christmas 2015, respectively:

“I am in the process of writing the next two Avatar films now. We are planning to shoot them together and post them together, and we will probably release them not quite back to back, but about a year apart. Christmas ’14 and ’15 is the current plan.” Of course, it’s probably best to take those release dates with a grain of salt, since the first Avatar had several release dates before its December 2009 release. Still, now fans know that they’ll have to wait at least three more years for a return to Pandora.

“Avatar” was released in December 2009, so at the moment it appears there will be a five-year gap between films. Cameron also gave an update on his Manga adaptation “Battle Angel”. Cameron told Collider.com that his busy schedule had him considering handing the project off to another director, but he loves it “too much” to give it to someone else:

” It’s such a rich world. What I’m going to do is take the spine story and use elements from the first four books. So, the Motorball from books three and four, and parts of the story of one and two will all be in the movie.”

Release dates: The Hunger Games, Rise of the Apes and Prometheus (plus Michael Fassbender joins cast)

Gary Ross’ adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling novel “The Hunger Games” will be released on March 23, 2012, Lionsgate has announced. In other release date news, 20th Century Fox has pushed back Rupert Wyatt’s “Rise of the Apes” to November 23, 2011 instead of June 24, 2011. There also may be some new movement on the casting front as Liam Hemsworth (Chris Hemsworth’s brother) revealed to MTV that he has read the script — calling it “super dark — and that he could soon be in talks to play Katniss’ love interest Peeta. In related release date news, Fox has slated the Ridley Scott-directed / Damon Lindelof-scripted “Alien” film “Prometheus” for June 8, 2012. “Prometheus” had been scheduled for release on March 9, 2012 but Fox was forced to move the film to June after Disney moved Andrew Stanton’s “John Carter of Mars” into its former slot (March 9). In casting news, Heat Vision | THR is reporting that Michael Fassbender will star opposite Noomi Rapace in the project. Fassbender will be playing an android.

Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci to produce Ender’s Game big-screen adaptation

Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci will be producing Gavin Hood’s (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine) big screen adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s 1985 sci-fi novel “Ender’s Game”. Here’s what Orci tweeted:

“Ender’s Game! Us(K/O), Oddlot, and Gavin Hood taking his amazing script to the town! Who wants some?”

The two will only be producing the project.

Bale says he’s open to a fourth Nolan Batman film + Dark Knight Rises begins shooting in May and Joseph Gordon-Levitt joins cast

Christopher Nolan is on the record stating that “The Dark Knight Rises” will be his last Batman movie, but star Christian Bale says he would be open to doing a fourth movie if Nolan reconsidered his stance [via Empire]:

All I know is the likelihood that this will be the last one,” says the star. “Well, I wouldn’t say definitely. If Chris goes, ‘Hey, I’ve got another story I think could be interesting,’ then yeah, great, I’d go do that. I always assumed it would be three, but I could be wrong. I don’t know if there’s something wrong with me, but I don’t feel any pressure.

Bale also expressed excitement in new castmember Tom Hardy, who was recently cast as Bane:

“[Tom Hardy] seems like he’s balls-out, doesn’t he? Like he really goes for it.He looked like a guy that was happy to go to extremes, to really push it. Looks like he could go the distance…”

Nolan, meanwhile, has confirmed that production on the project will begin in May. Nolan also again noted this will be his last Batman movie, responding to a question on why he decided to do a third film by saying “It was about finishing the story”. And lastly, Deadline is reporting that Joseph Gordon-Levitt — who starred in Nolan’s 2010 hit “Inception” — has joined the cast of ‘Dark Knight Rises’. It’s unclear at the moment what role Levitt will play in the film. “The Dark Knight Rises” is scheduled to hit conventional and IMAX theaters on July 20, 2012.

No best director nod for Christopher Nolan, but Inception gets eight oscar nominations

“Inception” was tied for second-most Oscar nominations this year with eight, including one for Best Picture, but director Christopher Nolan was not nominated for Best Director. Nolan did, however, pick up a nomination for Writing (Original Screenplay). Here are the film’s six other nominations:

  • Art Direction
  • Cinematography
  • Original Score
  • Sound Editing
  • Sound Mixing
  • Visual Effects

“Inception” grossed $823.6M worldwide ($292.6M domestic / $531.0M foreign). Here’s a round-up of the other nominations for sci-fi/genre films:

  • “Black Swan”
    • Actress in a Leading Role – Natalie Portman
    • Cinematography
    • Directing (Darren Aronofsky)
    • Film Editing
    • Best Picture
  • “Toy Story 3″
    • Animated Feature Film
    • Original Song – “We Belong Together”
    • Best Picture
    • Sound Editing
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • “Alice in Wonderland”
    • Art Direction
    • Costume Design
    • Visual Effects
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1″
    • Art Direction
    • Visual Effects
  • “How to Train Your Dragon”
    • Animated Feature Film
    • Music (Original Score)
  • “Iron Man 2″
    • Visual Effects
  • “Tangled”
    • Original Song – “I See the Light”
  • “Tron: Legacy”
    • Sound Editing
  • “The Wolfman”
    • Makeup

Matthew Vaughn says ‘First Class’ is “X-Men meets Bond”

When asked to describe “X-Men: First Class”, director Matthew Vaughn told Entertainment Weekly it’s “X-Men meets Bond, with a little bit of Thirteen Days thrown in for good measure”:

“It’s set in the ’60s, and I basically molded a young Magneto on a young Sean Connery. He’s the ultimate spy — imagine Bond, but with superpowers.”

Vaughn also offered up a few plot details, including how the movie begins:

“In the beginning of the film, no one knows that mutants exist, and all the mutants don’t know that each other exist. They’re all in hiding. Kevin Bacon plays a very megalomaniac mutant [Sebastian Shaw] who decides that he can take over the world and that mutants are the future. Erik and Charles then meet each other and hook up with the CIA to try and prevent World War III. You find out everything about what went on between Erik and Charles.”

Vaughn also revealed that although the film may share the name of the popular First Class comics, it’s not all that related to it, save for some nods here and there:

EW: Is the movie related at all to the First Class comics?

Vaughn: “Not really. There are a lot of nods to the X-Men world and the X-Men movies, but it’s definitely its own beast.”

Check out the rest of the interview here. You can also check out an interview with star James McAvoy (Charles Xavier) over at Cinema Blend. “X-Men: First Class” is scheduled to hit theaters on June 3, 2011.

The Hobbit gets slight filming delay + Elijah Wood offers story details and Saorise Ronan joins cast

Shooting on “The Hobbit” will be slightly delayed because director Peter Jackson underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer. The director underwent surgery and is said to be resting comfortably [via Heat Vision | THR]:

Sir Peter’s surgery is not expected to impact on his directing commitment to The Hobbit beyond a slight delay to the start of filming,” according to the statement.

In better news, The Irish Film & Television Network (via ComingSoon.net) is reporting that Saorise Ronan has joined the cast of “The Hobbit”. It’s unknown at the moment what role the actress will be playing in the films. Ronan last worked with Jackson on “The Lovely Bones”. In other news, Elijah Wood discussed his recent addition to the cast. Wood will be reprising the role of Frodo in a cameo [MTV Movies Blog]:

“The Hobbit” has a rumored release date of December 2012 for ‘Part 1′ and December 2013 for ‘Part 2′.

Summit confirms development on Red 2

Summit Entertainment has confirmed Collider’s scoop that they’ve hired Jon and Erich Hoeber to write a screenplay for a sequel to the action-comedy “Red”:

A sequel to RED is on. Summit has hired brothers Erich and Jon Hoeber, who wrote the script for the hit action movie, to return to the keyboard to pen a second instalment. Although there are no confirmed deals at this stage with the original film’s stars Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Summit is pulling the trigger for a second helping of over-the-hill special ops agents shoot-’em-up.

TRON 3 teaser trailer to be included on TRON: Legacy Blu-ray/DVD?

“Tron: Legacy” is closing in on $350M in worldwide box office (it’s currently at $345M), and as has been previously reported, Disney is likely close to greenlighting a sequel. But we may be getting a look at said sequel sooner than expected. AICN has details from a source close to production of the upcoming DVD / Blu-ray “Tron: Legacy” release that a teaser trailer made up of three scenes will appear on the home video release. Here are descriptions of the three scenes, courtesy AICN:

One includes Bruce Boxleitner (as Alan) and Dan Shor (as Ram). Turns out that “Ram” was apparently running the FLYNN LIVES campaign and he’s frantically destroying all of that data and files, as Alan confronts him. Dan apparently utters the line, “Why did Kevin give you the cool name” – which means to my way of thinking that after Flynn came out of the Grid, he sought out the human soul of Ram and befriended him and started calling him RAM – you know – some geek that wrote that Actuarial Program that helped people plan for the future. I sorta love that. And love that the kindness Flynn showed this lowly geek, apparently created a gung ho champion for the life and memory of Kevin Flynn.

Another has Quora showing up to ENCOM and getting acousted by the press because she’s riding Sam’s Ducati – and states that she just spoke with Kevin Flynn, yesterday!

The last scene that was shot in this mini-shoot involved text screens where you see the Father & Son… The Dillingers stating that everything is going as planned.

Captain America title to be shortened overseas?

“Captain America: The First Avenger” will go by a shortened title in some overseas territories. Marvel Studios has shortened the film’s name to just ‘The First Avenger’ in Russia, South Korea and the Ukraine. According to Hero Complex | LA Times, Marvel insiders say the change in title only needed to be applied to a few markets and that there was a “pleasant surprise” they didn’t have to shorten the name in other international markets:

In private, Marvel insiders said that early on in the project’s planning there was talk that the title might need to be changed in numerous international markets but that there was a “pleasant surprise”—the brand recognition of the comic-book superhero was so strong that it overrode those considerations in many places. That was not the case in Russia, South Korea and the Ukraine.

In other news, Dominic Cooper spoke to Vulture about his role in playing Howard Stark in the film. Here are a few excerpts from the interview:

“We learn the whole idea of where Stark Industries comes from, which is out of pure curiosity and creative juices and excitement towards thinking of the future and developing things for good. He’s a Howard Hughes. He’s a guy that loves inventing, that’s extremely intelligent, and that loves his lifestyle as well.”

“He’s important because he’s part of the machinery that helps Captain America manipulate his body.”

“Captain America: The First Avenger” is scheduled to hit conventional and 3D theaters on July 22, 2011.


PREVIEW Videos & Images

The Avengers

Interview with Chris Hemsworth (Thor) [MTV]

Battle: Los Angeles

Behind the scenes images (including a first look at the invading aliens) [Famous Monsters--more via Bloody Disgusting]

Movie posters [IGN & ShockYa]

I Am Number Four

Promotional stills [more at HeyUGuys]

Lazy Teenage Superheroes

13-minute short film [Lazy Teenage Superhero / YouTube via Topless Robot]

Dredd

First look at suit and bike [2000 AD via io9]

Drive Angry 3D

TV spot [Summit Entertainment / YouTube]

Watch two more TV spots here and here

Dylan Dog: Day of Night

Promotional stills [more at Every Eye via Shock Till You Drop]

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Promotional still [Occlumencia via CBM]

I Am Number Four

TV spot: “Graphic/Hunted” [YouTube via BeyondHollywood]

Watch another TV spot here

John Carter of Mars

Interview with director Andrew Stanton [MTV]

Kung Fu Panda 2

Super Bowl spot [Yahoo!]

Paul

Promotional stills [more at HeyUGuys]

Rango

Listen to the theme song from Los Lobos [via Pop & Hiss | LA Times]

Rio

Watch the first two minutes []

http://www.slashfilm.com/watch-minutes-rio/

Scream 4

Promotional stills [Cinema Blend]

Poster [Yahoo! Movies]

Movie trailer [Cinema Blend]

Spider-Man (2012)

Set images [more at The Daily Blam]

Set video [YouTube via Shockya]

Source Code

Movie poster [Yahoo! Movies]

Sucker Punch

Movie posters [more at Parallel Universe | MSN Movies]

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Chevrolet Camaro (Bumblebee) Super Bowl XLV TV spot [via TFW2005]

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1

Logo [Movies.SpoilerTV.com]

X-Men: First Class

Set images [Comic Book Movies]

MOVIE BITES

  • Filming has wrapped on the Mark Neveldine/Brian Taylor-directed sequel “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”. The film, which returns Nicolas Cage in the lead role of Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider, is scheduled to hit conventional and 3D theaters on February 17, 2012. [Today's Zaman via CBM]
  • Warner Premiere has officially anounced development on a live-action digital series based on the online short “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth”, which itself was based on the popular video game franchise. Shooting will take place in early February for online release this spring. Casting will be announced in the coming weeks. No word if “Star Trek: Voyager” star Jery Ryan, who played Sonya Blade in the short, will reprise her role. [Warner Premiere via YourEntNow]
  • Johnny Depp says he thought ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3′ were too confusing but thinks they’ll do a better job with the fourth film in the series, ‘On Stranger Tides’: “Pirates 2 and 3 became quite … sub-plotty. The mathematics of it. All of these people went to see them two or three times just to figure out what was happening. This one is a little closer in tone to the first: more character driven, more subject driven. It has a freshness. Less mathematics.” [Empire]
  • The mayor of Bucharest, Romania has confirmed that city will serve as a shooting locale for Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises”. There are also some plot rumors at the CBM link. [Brusimm via CBM]
  • There’s some conjecture that the Spider-Man outfit seen via the set of Marc Webb’s 3D “Spider-Man” reboot could just be his wrestling outfit and not the final outfit that Sony has officially showcased. [CBM]
  • Sam Rockwell revealed some details about his character in the Jon Favreau-directed / Roberto Orci/Alex Kurtzman/Damon Lindelof-scripted “Cowboys & Aliens”: “My wife gets taken by the aliens, and so I go on a journey with the rest of the cowboys to find her, and get involved in the big final battle. I ride a horse too, a pretty smooth one called Fred.” [Empire]
  • Mandalay has tapped Nick Pustay to adapt Sophie Jordan’s young-adult fantasy novel “Firelight” to for the big-screen. [THR]
  • Mark Heyman will write a sci-fi project called “Age of Rage” with Marc Webb (“Spider-Man (2012)”) attached to direct. [Heat Vision | THR]
  • Don Cheadle, who played James “Rhodey” Rhodes in “Iron Man 2″, says that Marvel has begun developing a “War Machine” movie: “They’re developing [a War Machine film] now, they’re working on that. … I think they’ve hired a writer, so we’ll see how it goes. It would be a lot of fun.” Watch the interview clip below. [MTV Splash Page]

  • There’s no truth to the rumor that the Wachowski’s are working on a two-film treatment for “Matrix 4″ and “Matrix 5″. [The Daily Blam]
  • “Wrath of the Titans” director Joe Liebesman shared his thoughts on the sequel: “I think the cornerstones of modern storytelling stem from these myths, so we’ve got some brilliant source material to work with. That said, I want to ground the myth in reality, find the truth of these huge stories and make sure that every detail serves the driving narrative of the film. Clash II is going to be an action-packed, visceral epic told on a grand scale — but it’s all about grounding the truth, the character and the story and staying true to that in order to elevate it from the previous movie.” [Earth's Mightiest]
  • “Cloverfield” director Matt Reeves says the proposed sequel may not happen: “Unfortunately, I don’t have any [news]…[W]e haven’t really had a chance to talk about it. I mean, J.J. [Abrams] is eding [sic] ‘Super 8′ right now, he’s got a very, very intense schedule right now that he’s working on. And Drew [Goddard] is writing Steven Spielberg’s next movie, I think, after the Abraham Lincoln film. He’s doing ‘Robopocalypse’. So everybody’s very, very busy. But I’m sure we’ll get together one of these days and sort of bounce it around until we come up with something that we get excited about. And if we don’t, then we won’t make it.”. [Bloody Disgusting]
  • David O. Russell revealed that budget was one of the reasons he decided not to direct “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”: “I thought at $40 to $50 million was a bargain price to make a “Sherlock Holmes”-style period action romance that happened to have zombies in it…The studio budgeted it as a genre zombie movie and gave me $25 to $28 million. I was like, that’s not cool. We have crazy big action sequences in it. It’s very commercial; we have a major romance. It’s a period film…It made no sense to me. That I found was frustrating.”. [Speakeasy | WSJ]
  • Duncan Jones revealed that he spoke with Christopher Nolan about directing “Superman: Man of Steel”, and shared his thoughts about making the short list: “I think, maybe, I’m not quite ready for that scale of project and that scale of expectation from an audience that is already existing and is waiting to see the next generation of Superman film…Superman was so big that I think I was a little intimidated by it and sort of backed out.” [ComingSoon.net]
  • 20th Century Fox will air a TV spot for their upcoming animated feature film “Rio” during the fourth quarter of this year’s Super Bowl. The ad will also feature a frame with a code that fans will have to spot and then enter online to unlock a special level of “Angry Birds”. Playing that level will in turn take players to a “Rio” sweepstakes with the winner attending the world premiere of the film in Rio de Janeiro on March 22. [THR]

CASTING BITES

  • Javier Bardem has been offered the lead role in director Ron Howard’s proposed trilogy/TV series adaptation of Stephen King’s 7-novel series “The Dark Tower”. [Deadline]
  • Lake Bell wants to put her name out there as a potential actress to play “Wonder Woman”: “I’ll be honest, I think I’d make a great Wonder Woman. So if anyone out there is listening …”. [E! Online]
  • Viggo Mortensen is in negotiations to star in Universal’s “Snow White and the Huntsman”. Charlize Theron is in talks to play the evil queen and the studio is currently screen-testing for the role of Snow White. Emily Brunning and Kristen Stewart are both rumored to be in the mix for that role. [Heat Vision | THR & Deadline]
  • Chris Pine has been cast in the lead voice role of Jack Frost in DreamWorks Animation’s “Rise of the Guardians”. Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher and Jude Law round out the voice cast. “Rise of the Guardians” is scheduled to hit theaters on November 21, 2012. [DreamWorks Animation via ComingSoon.net]
  • J.K. Simmons, who played J. Jonah Jameson in “Spider-Man 1-3″ would have reprised the role in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 4″ had Sony not decided to reboot the franchise, and Simmons is still disappointed it won’t be happening: “There wasn’t a script-script yet, but I had seen Sam a few weeks before that and we talked about story ideas, because on those movies, we always started on the script and we expanded on it…There was a lot of either us coming up with stuff in the room or doing it literally on set — a lot of improv-y stuff with the whole cast in those office scenes”. [MTV]
  • Benjamin Walker has been cast as Abraham Lincoln in Timur Bekmambetov’s adaptation of the Seth Grahame-Smith novel “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”… [Variety]
  • … In related news, Joaquin Phoenix is in talks to join the project as the mentor who teaches President Lincoln how to kill vampires. [Deadline]
  • There’s a rumor that Robin Williams may be playing Hugo Strange in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises”. [Batman-News via CBM]
  • Brandon Molale revealed on his Twitter page that he auditioned to play the Hulk (via motion capture) in Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers”. This might mean that Mark Ruffalo will only be playing Bruce Banner, and not also the Hulk as previously expected. [Brandon Molale | Twitter via CBM]
  • A leaked “Thor” script, since removed at the request of Paramount, confirmed the following cameos in the film: Hawkeye, Ant Man (referenced as Dr. Pym), Bruce Banner (mentioned as “a pioneer in gamma radiation”). [CBM via Movies.SpoilerTV.com]
  • Kristen Stewart is in negotiations to star as Snow White in Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman. Stewart would star alongside previously cast Viggo Mortenson and Charlize Theron. [Heat Vision | THR]
  • Eva Green will play the lead female role opposite Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s big screen adaptation of the 60s supernatural TV series “Dark Shadows”. Depp will play Barnabas Collins in the series. In related news, both Jackie Earle Haley and Bella Heathcoate are said to be in negotiations for lead roles in the film.. [Deadline]
  • James Cameron has revealed that Tom Cruise still wants to star in the film and says that although they don’t have a deal in place for him yet, they’re hoping “to get that closed soon”. Cameron, who is producing the project for director Guillermo del Toro, also revealed that del Toro is “madly working on a new draft of the script” and that they hope to shoot “by June or July.”. [MTV]

You can follow me on Twitter at Twitter.com/YourEntNow.