FX Movie News: 10-24-06

Jackson’s Dragon Epic Heads For Scotland; Aardman Animation Begins Pre-prod On Crood; Dreamworks Animation Thinks TV Spinoffs; STAN LEE Meets KEVIN SMITH; Sci-Fi Great Ray Bradbury Headlines Festival of Books; Hobbit Picture ‘Four Years Away’; Gromit Faces Off With Potter & Sparrow; YOUTUBE Losses It’s Cool To “COPYRIGHT CLEANSE 2006”; Night Dawning In IMAX; CGI and the Desecration of Film Heritage; ‘Star Wars’ Exhibit Lands At OMSI


Jackson’s Dragon Epic Heads For Scotland

(news.scotsman.com) A DRAGON trained in the Highlands to defeat the French during the Napoleonic wars is to become the next blockbuster hero of the Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson.

The man behind the Lord Of The Rings and King Kong has snapped up the rights to a series of fantasy novels by self- confessed “geek” Naomi Novik, a little-known American writer who features Scotland heavily in her debut work.

With his JRR Tolkien trilogy, Jackson propelled New Zealand to the top of the world’s must-visit tourism destinations. Now plans are under way for Scotland to make the most of a potential multi-million-pound windfall.

Set in the British Isles, Scotland and China, Novik’s novels are set to receive a multi- million-dollar makeover in line with the scale and profile of Jackson’s previous projects.

Jackson’s involvement could mean a major windfall for Scotland’s tourism and film industries. The country grossed £6m worth of global publicity following the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code earlier this year. The blockbuster, based on Dan Brown’s best-selling novel featured a series of iconic locations, including Rosslyn Chapel in Midlothian.

Set in the time of the Napoleonic wars, with a fantasy element of airforce dragons and aviators, Novik’s first book sets key chapters around Loch Laggan – also the setting for hit BBC series Monarch Of The Glen. Scotland’s film agency, Scottish Screen, expressed its own excitement and pledged to do everything in its power to make the most of Jackson’s profile.

In Novik’s first novel, His Majesty’s Dragon, Loch Laggan – between Kingussie and Fort William – is the site of the training camp where Laurence and the dragon, Temeraire, train for battle. Last night, Novik, 33, revealed that Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens and the castle would feature in her fourth book of the series, due out early next year.

The writer said she may also feature Glasgow in the fifth instalment of her series, presenting Jackson with ample inspiration to feature Scotland on screen.

Novik, a former computer programmer, first visited Scotland in March 2003. She told Scotland on Sunday: “I did a lot of research online and originally though that Scotland would be too romantic a setting. But then I arrived and started walking near to where Monarch of the Glen was filmed and it was just one of the most incredible experiences. I hadn’t anticipated the way that Scotland has four seasons in one day – it’s beautiful.

“I live in Manhattan and don’t see too many trees or mountains, so I knew immediately that I had found the place. I could just envisage my dragons swooping down and resting on the lake.

“It was so unspoiled. Scotland will feature again and again in my books. Edinburgh is just one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. It has kept that really ancient quality to it and has so much character. I liked Glasgow too, so it may make an appearance in book five.”

Novik said she hoped Jackson would stay faithful to the book and set the scenes in the Highlands. “I’m a big geek and I don’t want to jinx anything, as I know nothing about film-making,” she said. “I think someone like Peter Jackson could create something wonderful anywhere, but I would certainly love to see Scotland on screen.”

Plans for the film adaptation are still in the early stages, but Jackson has said of the project:

“I’m really excited to be working with Naomi and to explore the world she has created. I can’t wait to see Napoleonic battles fought with a squadron of dragons. That’s what I go to the movies for. The Temeraire trilogy is the perfect blend of two genres I particularly love: historical war and fantasy. That blending will generate all kinds of creative possibilities.”

Industry insiders said Jackson’s involvement was good news for Scotland. Former director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Mark Cousins, added: “Jackson is leading a crusade for the fantasy film genre. Since 9/11, the focus has very much been on realism films around the world – and that’s something Scotland is very good at.

“If Jackson was to come here it could really kick-start a genre that has been a bit ignored in Scotland and really broaden the scope for what we make films about here. That would be great for the film-making industry in this country.”

British fantasy fiction writer China Miéville added: “The fantasy genre is doing very well at the moment and Jackson is a very important figure in that. He’ll give any adaptation of the books a real epic sweep. He’s a real fantasy geek and has an obvious passion for the genre. Whatever he does with it will be extremely high profile.”

Scottish Screen is already preparing a plan of action to sell the country to Jackson. Spokeswoman Celia Stevenson said: “We fully appreciate that Peter Jackson may want to film a lot of it in his native New Zealand, but we will be fighting our corner to be involved in what would be an incredible project for Scotland.”

Scotland’s national tourism agency, VisitScotland, said: “There is considerable evidence to show that having big blockbuster films that capture the beauty and character of a country provide inspiration, and are a real draw for visitors from all over the world and in Scotland. We have seen this with the success of Braveheart 10 years after it was filmed and most recently with The Da Vinci Code phenomenon.”

Aardman Animation Begins Pre-prod On Crood

(scifi.com) The co-directors of DreamWorks/Aardman Animations’ upcoming Flushed Away told SCI FI Wire that they’re heading back to their Bristol, England, studios to work on their next big animated film, Crood Awakenings, written by comic actor John Cleese. “It’s a very funny idea about a caveman,” said Flushed co-director Sam Fell in an interview.

We have a great team working on that project, and it will be done like we did Wallace & Gromit,” added co-director David Bowers, who also worked on Aardman’s Oscar-winning Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Unlike the computer-generated Flushed Away, the Cleese story will mark a return to Aardman’s trademark, time-consuming stop-motion animation, like that used in the Wallace & Gromit films. That’s why it’s not scheduled for release until 2008.

But Crood will share Flushed Away’s sense of humor, which includes jokes about the French, Fell said with a laugh. (Flushed co-star and French actor Jean Reno had no problem with the jokes at his countrymen’s expense, but there was some grumbling among the Parisian technicians at the studio they where the film’s voices were recorded.)

Cleese (the Shrek films) will voice Crood’s lead character, a caveman who comes up with revolutionary new inventions, such as fire. Cleese co-wrote the story with Kirk DeMicco (Quest for Camelot, Here Comes Peter Cottontail: the Movie). Crood is also expected to feature the voices of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Adam Sandler.

“Again you’ll see a nice collaboration by DreamWorks and Aardman, and we’ll still have the Aardman style, like in Flushed Away, but be a little bit different,” Bowers said. “We don’t want to repeat ourselves, but grow in the field of animation.” Flushed Away opens Nov. 3.

Dreamworks Animation Thinks TV Spinoffs

(Variety) Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation are joining forces on a pair of potential weekly series based on DreamWorks features.

One series will be based on the upcoming film Kung Fu Panda; the other is a spinoff of 2005 hit Madagascar, centered on its popular penguin characters.

“Panda,” due in theaters in May 2008, revolves around a lowly waiter in a noodle restaurant whose shape doesn’t lend itself to kung fu fighting. The movie features the vocal talents of Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Dustin Hoffman and Ian McShane.

DreamWorks Animation will take a back seat on day-to-day development of the Nick projects. The cable channel will take the reins on physical production out of Nick Studios.

“We’ve given them all the elements that exist in the movies and then, really … we’re pretty deferential on this,” DreamWorks Animation chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg said. “They spent a lot of time with the creators, directors, producers and talent involved in the two movies, but it was more to pick their brains and then take the properties and make them their own.”

Both projects are in the early stages of development. Tom Martin (“The Simpsons”) will write the pilot script for “Panda.” Paul Rugg (“Freakazoid!”) is aboard to write the Madagascar offshoot, centered on penguins Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private in a series of new adventures.

STAN LEE Meets KEVIN SMITH

(filmthreat.com) Hollywood’s Master Storytellers series presents Stan “The Man” Lee and Kevin Smith LIVE! On Monday, October 30th at 7:30pm, Hollywood’s Master Storytellers will be presenting a screening of Spiderman 2 at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatres Complex in Hollywood. After the screening will be a live Q&A with Spiderman creator Stan Lee and filmmaker friend Kevin Smith. On top of seeing a comic book God live, come dressed as your favorite Stan Lee character and potentially win “Best Costume.”
“Any time there’s a chance to share a podium with the always provocative, ever unpredictable, never dull Kevin Smith there’s no way I can refuse; especially when the function is an evening at Hollywood’s Master Storytellers which is one of the most enjoyable and thought provoking sessions any writer can find himself trapped in!” says Stan Lee. “The only negative about the whole affair is the fact that everyone’s saying I’m the one guy who won’t need a Halloween mask! I wonder if they’re tryin’ to tell me something!”

Whether you’re a Hulk Smasher, a Silver Surfer, or a Fantastic Freak, this unforgettable costumed event will be the biggest Super Hero/Super Villain collision in Hollywood, and definitely not to be missed. So sling on over to the Mann’s Chinese Theatre to hear straight from Stan’s mouth what it takes to write, create, and maintain America’s favorite Super Heroes.

Sci-Fi Great Ray Bradbury Headlines Festival of Books

(tehachapinews.com) International literary giant Ray Bradbury will join nationally and locally acclaimed authors and illustrators at the 2nd annual Festival Of Books scheduled Nov. 4 at California State University at Bakersfield.

“Wow! Ray Bradbury in Bakersfield. I’m thrilled he’s coming,” said Donna Hylton, executive director of the Kern Adult Literacy Council in Bakersfield and organizer of the event that will benefit the nonprofit council.

“What better way to celebrate reading than to bring so many great authors together at one location,” she said. “This has become a signature event for us and Bakersfield that already is attracting attention from the rest of California and throughout the Southwestern United States.”

The event, scheduled from 10 am – 2 pm Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Cal State-Bakersfield gymnasium, will feature keynote addresses by the authors, local entertainment and other festivities, book signings and books by the invited authors for sale on the premises.

Hobbit Picture ‘Four Years Away’

(news.bbc.co.uk) Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has said that it will be up to four years before he starts work on a film version of The Hobbit.

The Oscar winner said on a visit to Sydney there was a “desire” to make it, but not before lengthy negotiations.

“I think it’s gonna be a lot of lawyers sitting in a room trying to thrash out a deal before it will ever happen,” said the New Zealander.

The rights to JRR Tolkien’s book are split between two major film studios.

Jackson, who is currently filming a remake of Hollywood classic King Kong, said he thought that the sale of MGM studios to the Sony Corporation would cast further uncertainty on the project.

The 43-year-old was in the Australian city to visit a Lord of the Rings exhibition, which has attracted 140,000 visitors since it opened in December.

Gromit Faces Off With Potter & Sparrow

(bbc.news) Animated characters Wallace and Gromit Animated duo Wallace and Gromit could score a Bafta double after The Curse of the Were-Rabbit earned a best film nomination in the children’s awards.

The movie is up against The Lion, the Witch And the Wardrobe, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

The latest Wallace and Gromit adventure won best British film at the main Bafta awards earlier this year.

It is also one of 10 films shortlisted for the Bafta Kids’ Vote award.

The other three best film nominees are also shortlisted, along with Superman Returns, Nanny McPhee, Chicken Little, Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, Over the Hedge and Cars.

The awards ceremony takes place on 26 November at the London Hilton in Park Lane, and is hosted by children’s presenter Reggie Yates.

YOUTUBE Losses It’s Cool To “COPYRIGHT CLEANSE 2006”

(filmthreat.com) After Google acquired YouTube, it was rumored that the copyright violations rampant on the video-sharing site would quickly become more scrutinized. Today those rumors began to bear fruit, as the Japan Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers came down on YouTube for having 29,549 videos that violated their rights laws. YouTube quickly eliminated the videos.

If this is the future of YouTube, the site will become less an online gallery of cool videos and more a showcase of morons with webcams, in which case Google is going to learn very quickly how unexceptional YouTube content really is without those obscure, often copyright-infringing, video clips.

Night Dawning In IMAX

(scifi.com) Night at the Museum, Fox’s upcoming fantasy film starring Ben Stiller, will open in IMAX theaters at the same time it hits conventional theaters on Dec. 22, Greg Foster, chairman and president of filmed entertainment at IMAX Corp., told an audience of academics and business people at the California Institute of Technology on Oct. 24.

Foster, the keynote speaker at the Caltech Executive Forum in Pasadena, Calif., said the film would be released in a 2-D IMAX version in the company’s theaters. A formal announcement about the day-and-date IMAX release is due in a couple of days, he added.

The decision was made not to release a 3-D version of Museum in part because of a lack of time to convert the live-action movie, as was done with last summer’s Superman Returns. Foster said that the company is eyeing a possible 3-D release of the upcoming fifth Harry Potter movie, The Order of the Phoenix, which opens next July, but that no deal was yet in place.

Foster added that it was possible Museum would also screen in some of IMAX’s theaters in various museums around the country. At one preview screening of IMAX footage from Museum, Foster said he was actually high-fived by one curator, who said the movie played like a love letter to museums.

CGI and the Desecration of Film Heritage

(topix.net) Twenty years ago, a persistent if not widespread public outcry arose over the colorization of old black and white movies. Although Ted Turner (at the time having just purchased MGM for the sole purpose of exploiting its film library) was the most prominent perpetrator of this heresy, he was not the only one that tried to ‘update’ what colorizers thought everyone else would think were musty old unwatchable monotone flicks.

In response to the outcry, as well as to the fact that colorization did not end up being the boon that colorizers thought it would be, the practice thankfully disappeared after only a couple of years.

In the past several years, a similar and equally insidious practice has emerged in regards to the supposed updating of old movies and TV programs. I’m referring to the addition of CGI elements to revise media texts that were created before the advent of computer generated imagery.

The rationale is that the creators of these texts would have utilized the creative possibilities of CGI in their original creation had it been at their disposal when the movies or TV shows were first made. One of the reasons this rationale is so clear is that in most cases it is the original creators who have decided to make the alterations to their films and programs.

As he has in so many other ways, George Lucas led the way in terms of the digital ‘revision’ of old movies. The first significant CGI updating of a body of work was with Lucas’ Star Wars trilogy ‘Special Edition’ theatrical re-releases that appeared in 1997.

Lucas, famously a perfectionist and a stickler for technical detail, felt that the new digital technology would allow him to create enhancements such as new backgrounds, more elaborate alien characters, and more complex spaceships and outer space settings that were impossible with the state of late-1970s and early-1980s cinematic art.

These modifications included adding a digital (and mobile) Jabba the Hutt to a previously unused docking bay scene in Star Wars, additional exotic beasts of burden, cityscape improvements in the desert setting of the planet Tattooine in the same film, and similar cityscape improvements to Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back.

These changes in the original trilogy, besides sprucing up scenes Lucas thought needed it, were a shakedown of the digital technology he would subsequently use (much, much more extensively) to finally make the Star Wars prequel trilogy that was completed last year.

Lucas’ sometime collaborator, Steven Spielberg, also did a digital revamp of his film E.T. The Extra Terrestrial on its 20th anniversary in 2002. The modifications made by Spielberg were not as extensive, but they were more gratuitous. The most famous of these was in the scene where the police are chasing the children. The guns the police are carrying were replaced with walkie-talkies.

More: http://www.topix.net/content/blogcritics/3104241816408982389529677762193202542586

‘Star Wars’ Exhibit Lands At OMSI

(registerguard.com) May the force of Interstate 5 traffic not be with you – because this exhibit is here only through New Year’s Day.

All six of George Lucas’s “Star Wars” films – from 1977’s original to 2005’s “Revenge of the Sith” – were hugely popular, and now you can see the costumes and props from the movies at a $5 million exhibit that opened Oct. 11 at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

“This is a really unique opportunity to get to see this stuff up close,” says Lee Dawson, an OMSI spokesman, as he walks through the exhibit.

Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder. The Millennium Falcon model. C-3PO and R2-D2. Sebulba’s podracer. Obi-Wan’s lightsaber. Anakin and Luke Skywalker’s prosthetic hand props. Yoda, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Mace Windu – they’re all here. Or at least their costumes are.

Even a couple of wookies.

The Jawas’ Sandcrawler – the combination tank and scrap-yard vehicle that rides across the Tatooine desert – from 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back” is here, too. Only it’s, uh, not quite as big as it seems in the film. In fact, it’s the size of a small trunk.

“There it is,” Dawson says. “Yeah, it kind of messes with your head a little bit.”

Developed over three years by the Boston Museum of Science in conjunction with Lucasfilm – George Lucas’s film and entertainment company – the exhibit opened last fall in Boston. This is its West Coast debut before it moves on to Los Angeles, Dawson says. At 10,000 square feet and spread across two large rooms on separate floors of the museum, it’s one of the largest exhibits in OMSI history, he adds.

More: http://www.registerguard.com/news/2006/10/22/ol.starwars.1022.p1.php?section=oregonlife

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8 Responses to “FX Movie News: 10-24-06”

  1. junktape says:

    Can I just say Nmancer’s daily posts are the best thing to ever happen to this site?  I just wish any of our friends were reading it.  Post a hello if you are, you bastards!

    xo

    dan

  2. Eros Welker says:

    I read every last story except for the Spidey 3 bit. 

    SPOILERS

    A friend of mine saw a scene from the flick where Spidey goes up into a church or something and rings a bell to get Venom off/out of him… said it was awesome.

    Also, what’s up with the Aardman animated flick?  Totally came outta nowhere.

  3. Nmancer says:

    Actually the Aardman film isn’t out of nowhere. It’s been in the works for quite a while and sounds like a great story. The problem has been the falling out between Dreamworks and Aardman. So they’ve been keeping it a bit quiet lately.

  4. MDHuff says:

    The Aardman flick is FLUSHED AWAY, right?  It looks like poop (of all things.) And I can’t believe how much I love how big fantasy is again, these past 5 years.  That dragon flick sounds fantasitc.  Jesus I love movies.

  5. Nmancer says:

    FLUSHED AWAY is >anwaswas< an Aardman film that Dreamworks decided to do all CG in house at Dreamworks with direction by two people from Aardman. Flushed Away caused a lot of problems between the two companies and is largely responsible for dissolving the “partnership”. Aardman’s next film (mentioned above) is “Crood”, which will be done entirely back at Aardman studios (like Curse of the Were-Rabbit).

  6. Eros Welker says:

    I just hope people don’t get scared off dragon flicks after that turd, Eragon, comes out.  I hope I’m wrong about it – but it looks kinda bad. 

    Still praying for a direct-to-DVD sequel to Reign of Fire…

  7. Roger says:

    Regarding that SPOILER for Spider-Man, that’s exactly how Spidey got the costume off of him in Web of Spider-Man #1 back in the 1980s. It would be nice if they come up with a different solution for the movie.

  8. Roger says:

    Another thing I remembered from the issue that preceded WOSM #1: Spidey goes to Reed Richards to get the costume removed, and afterwards is left with nothing but his tighty whiteys and covering his face to protect his identify from the Fantastic Four. Reed lends him a spare FF uniform and a paper bag to go home in, and you see that someone has stuck a “KICK ME” sign on his back.

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