Was 'Avatar' stolen from a popular Russian SF series?
Welcome to The Morning Read.
The sun's coming up and I've spent all night preparing for Sundance next week. I put together my schedule, I watched one of three movies playing this year's fest that I have here in the house, and I sent out about 40 e-mails regarding things I need or want to do while I'm in Park City. Right now, I feel more prepared for the festival than I've ever felt for any festival before actually showing up on site, but at the expense of sleeping at all, and I still have a Morning Read to put together. Good thing I bookmark things as I spot them, so I don't have to spend the whole morning trawling. There's already plenty worth talking about, and I can finally clear out some of the bookmarks I've set this week.
For the first time, I'm a little uncomfortable with one of the charges of theft leveled against James Cameron regarding "Avatar." For the most part, people are getting upset over very broad stroke myth and hero story beats, but with this latest news about a ten-part Russian series set on a planet called Pandora, it's a little close. The authors don't seem concerned, but I can see why people who know those books might question how this happened. And in the meantime, the film shows no sign of stopping its juggernaut assualt on the worldwide box-office record. Amazing.
I didn't know Cathryn James, but I know many people who did, and considering the history I had in my first ten years in town, I know the value of representation that genuinely values you as a person, not just as a commodity. She sounds like a classy lady, and producer Don Murphy wrote perhaps the best summary of her impact upon her passing this week.
Lots of talk about Pee-Wee Herman out there this week, and most of the reactions I've heard so far to his just-opened show at the Nokia Live here in Los Angeles have been wildly enthusiastic. I'm not going until February 2nd, after I get back from the festival. Can't wait.
Joe Johnston's out there right now starting to talk up "The Wolfman," and it's inevitable he'd be asked questions about "Captain America: The First Avenger," which he's attached to direct. What surprised me is that he's also still dropping hints about a "Jurassic Park IV," and although he's playing coy about what that film might consist of, I wonder if it is connected to the William Monahan/John Sayles version that I first wrote about almost five and a half years ago.
Likewise, when Frosty from Collider gets Mike DeLuca chatting about "Ghost Rider," but he tries to play coy with the premise of the film, I have to wonder if it's got anything to do with the version that Nic Cage pitched to me on the set of "Kick-Ass." DeLuca does have some interesting things to say about "Fright Night," and the fact that Marti Noxon is writing it gives me some hope that they may actually pull off those good ideas.
By any chance, do you remember the film I wrote about at SXSW last year, "The Snake"? Well, according to the film's star, Adam Goldstein, it's available now from over 100 operators and digital destinations, including the following --
In general, the idea of what distribution is seems to change daily right now. Joe Queenan talks about his experience with movies on YouTube in a new column, and it's surprisingly not just one big ball of snark. He sounds genuinely fascinated with what's out there. And YouTube's obviously got a lot of people feeling the same way based on how much profit they're turning over these days. I do worry about people screwing it up, but I think we're living through genuinely evolutionary days in terms of media.
I think I'm glad I never had to be a single man living in the UK.
In honor of the ongoing auction of the "Terminator" movie rights, enjoy this:
I wonder if the Weitz Brothers still own the rights to the Elric series by Michael Moorcock, and if so, I wonder if they're ever actually going to make a movie based on the books. And if so, I wonder if it can possibly be as weird and groovy as Wendy Pini's take on the material.
You know what makes me crazy? The new updated edition of the DSM-V, evidently.
Quint just ran a great interview with Peter Jackson over at Ain't It Cool, and the A/V Club just ran an excellent piece on "The State." They're not connected in any way besides the fact that both of them are just good solid examples of websites and writers I like doing their jobs right. Thanks, fellas.
Oh, look, another great story on "Popcorn Fiction." How predictable. Boy, it's boring getting lots and lots of great fiction, completely free, from a wide range of excellent writers. That's almost as predictable these days as Roger Ebert writing some Proustian piece about memory or his senses or making out or his travel in the past. Yawn. I am bored by greatness.
I hardly know what to make of "Flooding With Love For The Kid," but rest assured, I will see this movie:
I'm not sure how or where or when, but I'll see it. And Andrew O'Hehir makes a strong case for why.
I guess that's it for me for this morning. Have a great weekend and remember... Santa can find anybody:
I've got more reviews for you all weekend long, and I'll be back here for one of the last Morning Reads of January on Monday.
The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Except when it doesn't.
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