Inside Movies & DVD with Drew McWeeny
With Zak Penn hard at work on the script, the film's on track for 2012
Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man are all core members of 'The Avengers,' the superhero team that now appears to be headed to the bigscreen in a film directed by Joss Whedon.
Credit: Marvel Comics
Color me intrigued by this choice.
When word first broke that Joss Whedon was a possible director for "The Avengers," it was April 1st, so there was little or no chance I was going to reprint the story. I'll give credit where it's due, though, because now, almost two weeks later, it looks like Whedon has pinned the job down, and as with anything related to Joss Whedon or Marvel Comics or, in this case, the combination of the two, expect there to be controversy in a big ol' way.
It's not hyperbole to say that "The Avengers" is the single most important film on the Marvel Studios agenda. Everything they've done for the last few years has been about laying the right groundwork for this film. That means they've had to focus on getting each building block right. "Iron Man" was an unexpectedly robust hit for the studio, and even if "The Incredible Hulk" wasn't a megahit, it re-established the character in a way that fans seemed pleased with following Ang Lee's nearly experimental take on the property. This summer, "Iron Man 2" seems poised to be one of the biggest films of the year, and work is well underway on "Thor" for a release next year, with "Captain America" about to start shooting.
Universal picks up the hard-R comedy from 'Family Guy' creator
I hope Seth MacFarlane is as disturbed by this photo as I am.
Credit: 20th Century Fox
There are certain subjects you cannot write about without infuriating the fanbase of that subject, no matter what you say.
I'll be blunt: 'Family Guy' does not make me laugh much. I don't hate the show, I don't begrudge the fanbase their enjoyment of it, and I certainly don't have any problem with Seth MacFarlane's methodical takeover of the Fox network. I actually enjoy the way the story unfolded, with the show getting canceled its first time on the air, then getting saved by DVD sales, and now serving as the cornerstone of an entertainment empire. Even if I'm not the audience for the show, I can appreciate a content creator getting a second chance.
Now it looks like he's getting his first shot at bigscreen success, courtesy of Universal, with a live-action/CGI comedy called "Ted," which is so far simply described as a hard-R-rated comedy about a man and his teddy bear, with MacFarlane doing the voice of the bear. Sounds like a perfect fit for the filmmaker, since I'm guessing the teddy bear will be an even-dirtier riff on the Stewie character from "Family Guy." The film, which MRC developed with MacFarlane before taking it to Universal, is said to be a $65 million production, and I'm betting most of that ends up on the screen. You don't need to hire giant movie stars for a film like this because MacFarlane is the star that will get the fanbase interested.
The stars of the summer's rowdiest studio comedy on the set of a party and a party of a set
Russell Brand and Jonah Hill play a scene on the Las Vegas penthouse set of 'Get Him To The Greek,' the new summer comedy follow-up to 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'
Credit: Universal Pictures
Russell Brand has the perfect last name.
"Get Him To The Greek" is a perfect movie star vehicle in terms of conception and timing and opportunity, and there's a good chance it's going to do exactly what it's been designed to do and kick Russell into a different level of movie stardom.
There is a major difference between a movie star and an actor. Sometimes, movie stars are great actors. Sometimes they are not. Doesn't really matter. Movie stars are personalities that audiences will go see on the flimsiest possible excuse just to spend time with the personality. Good movie star movies are built to give a movie star an excuse to do something, preferably with another movie star, that is fun to watch for a while and that fulfills whatever promise its premise makes. "Get Him To The Greek" is the story of Aldous Snow (the same rock star character that Brand played in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall") and the American junior record executive Aaron Green (Jonah Hill not playing the same character he played in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall") who is assigned to bring Snow to America for a heavily-promoted concert appearance at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles.
The joke is simple: Aldous Snow is decadence incarnate, Pete Doherty-by-way-of-"Arthur. And this isn't a guy who likes a few too many cocktails, either. In "Marshall," the character was portrayed as sober, reformed, all of his energy chanelled into chasing girls instead of drugs and alcohol. It's part of the public face he wears. In "Greek," Snow is off the wagon, back on the prowl, abusing himself with abandon. And that's what makes Aaron's just so difficult, and it's also what looks to be a major source of humor in this gleefully R-rated comedy, one of several that Universal is making right now.
Plus a sneak peek at the new Riddick movie
I am almost entirely sure Ryan Reynolds is wearing actual clothing in this photo. Almost.
Credit: AP Photo
Welcome to The Morning Read.
The superhero film continues to evolve. It's hard to believe that the modern superhero movie is really only about twelve years old (I'd argue that "Blade" was the first in this latest cycle), and that we've already seen so many variations on the form played out by so many different studios using so many different characters. Technology is part of what shifts from film to film, but so are the ideas about how we tell these stories. As "Kick-Ass" hits theaters this week, it's obvious there's a lot of life in the genre, and I'm fascinated with the way DC is trying to get into the business that Marvel's in, building out a universe populated with many heroes instead of relegating each one to a separate movie world.
"The Green Lantern" is a big film for them in every way, and the report that /Film ran about the film over the weekend is provocative. The notion of the uniform that Ryan Reynolds wears in the film being entirely CGI makes actual thematic sense. The uniform that the members of the Green Lantern Corps wear is created by their ring, more of an energy construct than an actual cut-from-cloth suit. Creating it the way they're planning to makes it feel otherworldly, and I'm excited now to see what it looks like in motion. It's going to make set photos a lot less interesting, but the final result should be worth the wait.
Update: Sony Pictures denies. HitFix stand by source.
Logan Lerman, star of 'Percy Jackson And The Olympians: The Lightning Thief,' is the front-runner now to star as Peter Parker in the new Sony Pictures reboot of 'Spider-Man'
Credit: AP Photo/Pete Kramer
UPDATE (8/11/10) -- Sony Pictures has issued an official denial that Lerman is a contender for the role or that there is, at this point, a short list. That denial was run at Deadline Hollywood by Michael Fleming, and the same source at Sony Corporate wrote to HitFix this evening, 30 hours after our initial attempts to contact them for comment.
Sony's track record on "Spider-Man" story denials is important to keep in mind, however. When development on "Spider-Man 4" was put on hiatus in December of last year, IESB broke the story, and Sony denied it completely. Even when internal memos that explained the hiatus to department heads on the film circulated among film journalists, Sony continued to say there was no interruption in progress on the film. Immediately afterwards, Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire left the picture and the reboot was announced.
HitFix stands behind its initial source on this story, and will bring you further updates as they occur.
The initial story remains intact below.
The search for the new "Spider-Man" appears to be over.
HitFix has exclusively learned that Logan Lerman is first choice for Sony Pictures and the clear frontrunner to replace Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker in the reboot of the blockbuster franchise. A source close to the production tells HitFix Lerman is "almost 100% locked" but not in contract negotiations for the role yet.
Marc Webb ("500 Days of Summer") is directing the new untitled "Spider-Man" which is being written by James Vanderbilt ("Zodiac," "The Losers") and is meant to be a more teen-friendly incarnation, taking Peter Parker back to his early days of balancing girl trouble, homework, and crimefighting. The new film is expected to begin production later this year for a July 3, 2012 release.
Maguire, co-star Kristen Dunst and director Sam Raimi were expected to continue their version of the wall-crawler's adventures until Raimi bowed out after creative differences with the studio earlier this
year. At that time, Sony Pictures decided to re-cast the film and move in a new direction, and had already been developing a reboot script as a contingency plan.
Lerman beats out rumored contenders Anton Yelchin, Jesse Eisenberg, Patrick Fugit and Johnny Simmons.
How's the trailer for this star-studded late-summer comedy?
Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell are mismatched cops in the new Adam McKay comedy 'The Other Guys'
Credit: Columbia Pictures
I'm a fan of the films that Adam McKay and Will Ferrell have made together so far. "Anchorman," "Talladega Nights," and "Step Brothers" are all deranged, and they also all have something in common besides the creative teams that made them: I didn't like the trailers at all.
I think what McKay does is context-based comedy. A good example would be that dinner table sequence in "Talladega Nights" where Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) and his wife (Leslie Bibb) and his best friend Cal (John C. Reilly) sit around the dinner table with Ricky Bobby's family, and things break down into a lecture on good parenting and a display of hyperactive hostility and a debate on which Jesus is the right Jesus to pray to. It's a ludicrous, magnificent scene, and it really only works if you see the full thing, start to finish, so you can see how it evolves. There are great lines in the scene ("I"m gonna come at you like a spider monkey!"), but it's the context that really puts it all together.
I say this to preface the release today of the trailer for "The Other Guys," which is the new film that Adam McKay directed, and which stars Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell as a pair of mismatched detectives. We've been seeing buddy cop comedies for decades now, as far back as "Freebie and the Bean" and as recently as this spring's "Cop Out." It's certainly not a new idea, but it's one that can provide strong returns in the right hands.
How many years will the fanboy community cry the same song?
George Lucas and his uneasy relationship with fandom is the subject of the new documentary 'The People Vs George Lucas'
Credit: Exhibit A Pictures
When I was at Wondercon last week, someone at the Warner Bros. panel asked Sylvain White, the director of "The Losers," how he got into filmmaking. I think they were asking more in terms of "What steps did you go through to get into the director's chair?", but he answered it a different way. "When I was eight years old, I had a life-changing religious event in the movie theater," he said. "My parents took me to see 'Star Wars.'"
How many people had that same life-changing religious event? I know I did, and it seems like every filmmaker roughly my age can say the same thing. The original "Star Wars" trilogy was a hugely important and beloved cultural event that lasted for six years, and during those six years, it was an amazing, intoxicating lovefest for the world and the characters created by George Lucas.
Fast forward to the past week, where "Mr. Plinkett" of Red Letter Media is the nerd du jour thanks to his just-released nine-part video review of the 2002 film "Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones." His review last year of "The Phantom Menace" made him a cult figure in fandom, and he seems to be a perfect example of the corner of pop culture that gave rise to the documentary I saw at this year's SXSW festival, "The People Vs. George Lucas." Directed by Alexandre O. Philippe, the title would imply that it's a sort of mock trial of George Lucas for the crimes he's committed against fandom. It's more or less another slice-of-fandom film that makes a few arguments for Lucas as a hypocrite without really landing any serious points. If anything, the sheer scope of the subculture that still exists around fandom refutes the idea that Lucas did something "wrong." For all of the tears that have been spilled, "Star Wars" remains an incredibly healthy overall property in terms of enthusiasm around the world among all ages. It's just that one part of that fandom, a very specific part, has managed to become the most vocal.
And frankly, I'm tired of it.
HitFix Film Editor Drew McWeeny hosts his first podcast
HitFix Film Editor Drew McWeeny finally joins the world of podcasting.
Be gentle with me.
Our TV guru and overall resident sardonic wit Dan Fienberg has been podcasting for the last few months with his partner in crime and good friend Alan Sepinwall, and the result has been a genuinely engaging listen. I'd been talking about doing this for a while, but talking about it and actually doing it are radically different things.
So this weekend, I took the plunge. I downloaded Audacity, I invited over my good friend and longtime media collaborator Scott Swan, and I recorded and edited a podcast. A two-hour long podcast. And it was waaaaaaaaay too much. We've cut it down by over half, and what you're going to hear (if you care) today is a rough model for what I'll be doing in the weeks ahead.
If you don't know Scott, he's been working with me since I was in high school. As a writing team, we've been award-winning members of the WGAw since 1994, and we've worked on stage, on screen, and on television. You can pick up both seasons of "Masters Of Horror" as well as the one season of "Fear Itself," all on DVD now. You can also get Scott's horror film, "Maskhead," which he co-directed with Fred "August Underground" Vogel if you're braver than I am. He's pretty much the oldest friend I have in the world, and I figured if I was going to have anyone on as a guest for this first one, it would be him.
I've included a brief rundown of what you'll hear and where it is in the show.
Drew McWeeny spends ten minutes with the outrageous movie star
Nicolas Cage, looking pensive, answers questions at last weekend's Wondercon 2010 in San Francisco, CA.
I've been looking forward to a second sit-down with Nicolas Cage since we met on the set of "Kick-Ass" in London. He's a guy whose work I've been fond of since I saw "Valley Girl" theatrically. It's been a thrill watching his filmography develop with pictures like "Peggy Sue Got Married" and "Raising Arizona" and "Vampire's Kiss" and "Wild At Heart" and "Birdy," just to name some of his early triumphs. At some point, he shifted gears and became the Jerry Bruckheimer Action Guy with movies like "The Rock" and "Con Air," and he has certainly made movies both great and mystifying.
Right now, it seems to me that he's in a bit of a career resurgence as far as public opinion goes. He's always been busy, but you'd be hard-pressed to find staunch defenders of "Next" or "Bangkok Dangerous" or "G-Force." I can understand why he would do any of those... even "G-Force"... but that doesn't mean those are films I want to see or that I connect with when they're released.
WIth "Kick-Ass," he's done great work, funny and real and sad and strange all at once, and he makes one of the most frightening variations on Batman so far onscreen.
With "Bad Lieutanant: Port Of Call New Orleans," he's playing with that image of him as a lunatic, and it's a wry and knowing performance, a great collaboration with Werner Herzog.
Plus five new short films from Ridley Scott's commercial division and Bill Condon circles 'Breaking Dawn'
How great would it be if Harrison Ford looked like this when he shows up in Jon Favreau's upcoming 'Cowboys and Aliens'?
Welcome to The Morning Read.
Lots of news breaking this morning. None of it particularly earth-shaking, but some of it fun.
For example, I'm not sure if I'm excited for "Cowboys and Aliens" yet. I mean, the film's been limping through development for about a decade now, and it's always seemed like the highest of high concepts in search of a compelling story and characters. I like Jon Favreau as a filmmaker, so I'm curious, and Daniel Craig in a Western is also enough to get me interested. Adding Harrison Ford to the cast, though? That might be the thing that finally pushes me over. It's been a long time since Harrison did anything that made me curious, but this is one of those moves I wouldn't have seen coming. Nice work by Latino Review breaking the story, and nice work by Favreau getting Ford involved.
Meanwhile, it's looking more and more likely that Bill Condon, director of "Gods and Monsters" and "Kinsey" and "Dreamgirls," is about to sign on for the final two movies in "The Twilight Saga." If it happens, the real winner is Summit Entertainment, who just classed up a very, very silly franchise just as they get it across the finish line. I have made no secret of the fact that I think the "Twilight" series is garbage, but Condon makes sense as a director here. Despite his Oscar-bait pedigree, the man earned his stripes in the horror world, and I know for a fact he's been interested in doing a gothic Vampire story for a while now... just not this one. I'd wager this is all but a done deal at this point, and I hope these turn out to be the biggest movies out of the entire franchise, just so Condon can move on from a position of enormous strength and get some of his dream films made, like that Richard Pryor biopic or something else close to his heart.