1) District 9’s writer/director Neill Blomkamp is now a man to watch, so it’s not a surprise that he’s hooked top stars Jodie Foster and Matt Damon to headline his new movie, Elysium. Set far in the future, it’s about… well we don’t know what it’s actually about, but we do know that Sharlto Copley, the star of District 9, will be in it too. Blomkamp and his producers are now picking which studio is going to back the project.
2) Ron Howard has taken up the mantle of bringing Stephen King’s dark fantasy series The Dark Tower to the big screen and the little screen at the same time for Universal/NBC through his production company with Brian Grazer. Apparently, the plan is to have a first film, directed by Howard, followed by a first season of the t.v. show that follows the events of the film, also directed by Howard, followed by a second film, followed by a flashback season for the second season of the t.v. show, and on down through the seven novels, short stories and comicbook lines that make up The Dark Tower universe. I don’t know how exactly that’s supposed to work unless the t.v. seasons are done primarily as complete miniseries, and even then, I’m not sure how that’s going to work. Rumors are swirling that Viggo Mortensen or Javier Bardem may play the older version of the main character, Roland Deschain, a magical gunslinger bent on revenge. Both guys are good, but I’d suggest getting a strong character actor in the main role and let the bigger names cameo in the films or on t.v. There may very well be Web stuff as well on this deal, so keep an eye out.
3) Godzilla, as we know, cannot die. So Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures are trying to launch the giant lizard again on the Hollywood film screen. (The quirky, messy 1998 attempt starring Matthew Broderick didn’t go so well at the box office.) Japan’s Toho Co. sold the rights last year and Warner has tapped British filmmaker Gareth Edwards to direct. Edwards has gotten a lot of buzz for his low budget indie SF film Monsters.
4) I can say without question that the big budget action movie G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was one of the most thrown-together illogical messes I’ve seen in some time, with lousy CGI, despite a very talented cast who managed to say all the lines with straight faces. Perhaps because of that cast, the movie made a big haul in worldwide box office, and so a sequel is coming from Paramount. This time, though, it might be somewhat more bearable. The director of the first film, Steven Sommers, will not be helming the sequel, and the script for the new movie is being written by Rhett Rheese and Paul Wernick, who wrote the great zombie action comedy Zombieland. So at least the dialogue may be better.
5) Disney’s Tron: Legacy had mixed reactions and mixed box office, but Disney is all in and bringing Tron to the t.v. screens as an animated mini-series for summer 2012. The animated series will cover the period between the first, original Tron film and the events of the sequel and concentrate on the computer world of the Grid. Bruce Boxleitner, who starred in both films, will be voicing his roles, as will Elijah Wood, Linda Moore, Paul Reubens and Lance Henriksen. So basically, all the sorts of things you thought were going to be in the new movie will probably be in the cartoon version.
6) Marvel Studios knows that they can’t bring every character they have in Marvel Comics to the big screen. But there’s nothing to stop them from bringing quite a few of them to the small screen. In addition to trying to adapt the dark superhero series Cloak and Dagger for t.v. (apparently ignoring the presence of The Cape already on t.v. now,) Marvel is taking a series from their MAX imprint umbrella series Alias, written by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, called AKA Jessica Jones for ABC. The comic is about Jones, a former superhero named Jewel who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and so has retired to be a private investigator, as there is no stress or danger or violence in that line of work whatsoever. Jones gets dragged back into the world of superheroes, possibly again because she is a private investigator. The script of the series is being written by Melissa Rosenberg, who also wrote the third Twilight movie, Twilight: Eclipse, the one with the big fight scenes.
7) The Carl Brandon Society has announced the winners of the Parallax and Kindred Awards. The Parallax Award is given to works of speculative fiction created by a self-identified person of color. It was awarded to Hiromi Goto for the novel Half World. The Kindred Award is given to any work of speculative fiction dealing with issues of race and ethnicity. It was awarded to Justine Larbalestier for her novel Liar. Both awards carry a $1000 prize and were presented at the Arisia convention.
8 ) Wonder Woman, recently ejected from the big screens, has now been exiled from the small screens too. The major U.S. broadcasters have passed on a proposed television series from impresario David E. Kelley and Warner Bros. Television. Apparently, even the CW didn’t want to do it, despite being owned by Warner Bros. A likely problem was that the new series was going to be very expensive, and given that it’s focused on a female lead, not a male, that was probably not a gamble execs are willing to take right now and will discourage cable stations as well. Wonder Woman is the most popular, well known female superhero the comics world has ever created and remains hugely popular in comics and animated cartoons on t.v.. We still like her, just as she is. This shouldn’t be this hard to do in 2011, people. At this point, I’d take a show where Lynda Carter reprises the hit t.v. role from forty years ago and plays her as a semi-retired Amazon princess and the show is about her young daughter dealing with the new paradigms of the modern world.
9) Producer Neal Moritz is doing a new version of Phillip K. Dick’s short story, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” which was also the basis for the weird SF shoot-em-up action picture in 1990 starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Total Recall. This time, Colin Farrell will play Douglas Quaid, the mild mannered guy who finds he may have been a spy when he tries to get memory implants. Moritz plans to follow Dick’s story more closely and won’t be having any of the action set on Mars, with the movie instead focusing more on an overcrowded, near future Earth.