>> “Collateral” Writer Tackles GI Joe

duke.jpg“Collateral” screenwriter Stuart Beattie is strapping on his helmet for writing duties on “G.I. Joe,” a live-action film based on the popular Hasbro action figures.

Paramount is moving fast on the project, having last week signed “Mummy” director Stephen Sommers to shoot the movie. The studio hopes it will be ready for a summer 2009 release.

“Joe” will be based on the toy line launched in the 1980s, which also was tied to a comic book series and Saturday morning cartoon. It is the cartoon version that saw soldiers from all branches of the military fighting a terrorist group called Cobra, led by the Cobra Commander and featuring such villains as the Baroness and metal-faced arms dealer Destro.

 

The strike force featured such heroes as the mute ninja Snake Eyes and the heroine Scarlett, who were led by a Joe named Duke.

Beattie’s credits also include “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” and the upcoming horror movie “30 Days of Night.”

Yahoo! Movies

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>> Douglas Set for “Wall Street” Sequel

wallst.jpgJust like his first love, Gordon Gekko never sleeps. One of the most enduring anti-heroes of cinema’s past two decades, the super rich trader from Oliver Stone’s 1987 film Wall Street is likely to return as a far less parochial figure in the sequel now being finalised.“Wall Street was New York-centric. Today the markets are much more global, hence the title of the new film, Money Never Sleeps,” says Ed Pressman, the producer of both films, as well as the likes of Reversal of Fortune, Thank You For Smoking and Conan the Barbarian.

“The new film will be based in New York, in London, in the United Arab Emirates and in an Asian country. We’ve pretty well worked out the inter-personal relationships between the characters. We’re now talking about the business events.”

Over the past few months, those talks involved Pressman and Lolita screenwriter Stephen Schiff visiting London and meeting the likes of billionaire Vincent Tchenguiz.

“We are talking to Vincent to see how people behave in this era,” the producer adds, though Tchenguiz is not the new Gekko, again to be played by Michael Douglas.

“Originally, there was no one individual who Gekko was modelled on,” he adds. “But Gekko was partly (Michael) Milken.”

Last time we saw him, Gekko ruled Wall Street and made billions through insider trading. In the real world, Michael Milken, best known as the “Junk Bond King” of the 1980s, was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and fraud in 1989 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison (he served less than two). Since then he has devoted much of his time and money to charity.

And Milken still seems comparable to the modern Gekko who, we will learn, has been to prison but, a free man for the past eight years, will return to our screens as a more outwardly altruistic figure though, as Pressman admits, “a leopard doesn’t change its spots, despite appearances”. So Gekko will be a philanthropist, then? “Now that’s a good idea,” he smiles, less than cryptically.

If the Gekko character seems settled, it is fair to say that nobody quite predicted how well he would go down last time.

Wall Street was really a film about Bud Fox, a young ambitious stockbroker played by Charlie Sheen (who may or may not return in the sequel) whom Gekko took under his wing. Having been corrupted by Gekko, Fox eventually betrays his mentor to arch-rival Sir Larry Wildman (played by Terence Stamp and modelled, Pressman says, on James Goldsmith) before grassing Gekko up to the authorities.

Even so, actual Wall Street traders saw Gekko as the hero. “That’s his appeal,” Pressman says. “Gekko is larger than life. His appetites are large. The audience enjoys a vicarious pleasure of seeing a world they would never be part of. In a funny way Wall Street was like The Godfather — in that the real mob began dressing and behaving like characters in the movie. After Wall Street people started wearing suspenders (braces) like Michael.”

Douglas’ Gekko is the brand in his own right — and one that is likely to sell more these days with business enjoying a wider audience than 20 years ago.

Schiff says: “The first film was a moderate hit at the time (it took about $US60 million at the box office and cost $US16 million), but Gekko became a household name.”

The West (Australia)

>> Abrams’ “Trek” Rumor Holds Promise

trek.jpg“Moriarty”, aka screenwriter Drew McWeeney, posted what could be the first real plot details of the upcoming J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek film, and they reveal some ideas that Trek fans probably never considered. McWeeny doesn’t site his source, but he has relationships with some very willing leaks in the industry, so don’t be too surprised if this Trek springboard is spot on.

“Okay, first thing that surprised me: I think Leonard Nimoy is sort of the star of the movie. I think a lot of this movie is about Spock. Nimoy-aged Spock, mind you.

How?

Okay… you know the scene in BACK TO THE FUTURE 2? Where Doc Brown explains alternate timelines? Well, this is sort of… ummm… TREK TO THE FUTURE, I guess you would call it…

Picture an incident that throws a group of Romulans back in time. Picture that group of Romulans figuring out where they are in the timeline, then deciding to take advantage of the accident to kill someone’s father, to erase them from the timeline before they exist, thereby changing all of the TREK universe as a result. Who would you erase? Whose erasure would leave the biggest hole in the TREK universe is the question you should be asking.

Who else, of course, but James T. Kirk?

If Spock were in a position to change that incident back, and then in a position to guard that timeline and make sure things happen the way they’re supposed to, it creates…

… well, what does it create? Because evidently the plan is to use this second timeline as a way of rebooting without erasing or ignoring canon. These new voyages of the ENTERPRISE, they’re taking place in whatever timeline starts with this story. Maybe this timeline features dramatic differences. Like… say… if Vulcan were to be blown up. If the Vulcans in the series were suddenly the last of their kind, alone in the universe, it would change who they are and maybe even redefine their strict rejection of emotion in favor of logic.

You can introduce these Universe2 versions of classic TREK events and characters, and you can play with the audience’s expectation. Things have changed. Some things play out the way you expect… some don’t. It’s basically the same solution Marvel Comics has in terms of publishing, the way they use their ULTIMATES line to reboot continuity.

As a friend said when I was talking to him about this tonight, “Wait… so you’re saying they’re not just doing a square one reboot that would simplify everything, but that they’re actually making it… more complicated?”

It would appear so. Not that I think TREK fans mind complicated. It’s certainly not the safest choice if this is, in fact, the direction he goes with the film.”

I’m all for this idea. I’m a Classic Trek fan, and I think it’s a great way to dodge a bullet with the die-hard fans while still bringing in new ones.

–John

>> Is a New “Dune” Film In the Works?

dune.jpg Frank Herbert’s” Dune” novels remain amongst the most impossible literature properties to translate onto the screen, but that won’t stop people from trying.

C.H.U.D. reports that Byron Merritt, the adminstrator of the official Dune novel forums and a member of the Herbert family, says that after months of ongoing negotiations, things are coming to a head for a new feature film version of the property.

Back in May he said they were “still in negotiations with the studio reps/lawyers. The contract lengths are enough to make one ill…We’re getting VERY close to a deal. Heard that news today…we’ve had on-going negotiations for over two years.”

He followed that up with this posting last Friday: “We’re getting VERY close to a deal. Heard that news today. I’ve heard that “someone” at the studio wants Dune reallllly bad and has been a fan of the novel for “years.” They’re not saying who this is (and it might just be hype) but I’m holding out hope that whoever this might be is a big enough fan that he/she will do the book justice. Supposedly it’s some director.”

The property has been twice adapted before – 1984’s David Lynch-directed big budget feature film which was a famous nightmare behind the scenes and butchered the source material, or 2000’s Sci-Fi Channel mini-series which was much more accurate to the books but suffered from generally flat reviews and budgeting issues.

Dark Horizons

>> World’s First Futuristic Ostrich-Battle Movie!

joust.gifNewly formed Hollywood production company, CP Productions, is bringing a number of new and classic games to the big screen and comic books. In addition, the company will package its sci-fi, fantasy and horror movies with video games. Hollywood Producers Christine Peters (Area 51, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) and Michael Cerenzie (Blackout, Black Water Transit) created CP Productions to focus on the under-25 filmgoer. The first of many projects coming from the new production studio is a new imagining of Midway Games’ classic Joust arcade game.

Joust is an arcade game that’s as old as Pac-Man and has global awareness,” said Cerenzie. “We took one element of the game and the brand itself and built a whole new world around it for the film.”

Cerenzie calls the new script by Marc Gottlieb “Gladiator meets Mad Max.” The film is set 25 years in the future and includes a Las Vegas suspended in mid-air.

“We’ve updated the game into a commercial, tent pole movie,” said Cerenzie. “Marc has done an amazing job in creating a tantalizing and filmic world based on the original game.”

“This film is the type of action-packed story that appeals to all four quadrants of the movie-going public and we are excited to be in the Midway Games business once again,” said Peters.

“You need these kids to come in on Friday with a film’s opening today because they’re texting their friends right after the movie and you no longer have until Sunday,” said Cerenzie.

The plan is to launch the new Joust franchise with a graphic novel, which is being penned by Steven Elliot Altman of DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics, and will be based on Gottlieb’s screenplay. The film has been given the fast track by CP Productions and should be wrapped by June 2008. Several A-list directors are already interested in helming this sci-fi/action project.

Midway Games has a first-look deal with CP Productions on all of its projects and the game maker is interested in launching a new game franchise based on this film, according to Cerenzie. With the number of projects in the works, it’s also likely that CP Productions will work with additional game makers. Cerenzie said that 80 percent of the company’s film projects will have some type of game component.

“We’ll cap each film with a moderate budget and bring in awareness with games, graphic novels, and toys,” said Peters. “If you look at what Transformers did this summer, it reached well beyond the P&A. Today’s kids grew up with games and graphic novels and we have that type of fan base to tap into with these projects.”

Paramount Pictures has a first-look deal with CP Productions on the theatrical side and Cerenzie expects that studio to work on two to three projects a year. CP Productions will also work with other Hollywood studios on its films.

“I did all of my films with independent financing, which is a model we’re doing with this company,” said Cerenzie. “We’re doing a lot of co-financing deals with studios and in some cases we’re just using them for distribution. We’re bringing money to the table, plus the video games, which gets a greenlight much quicker in Hollywood.”

It’s this business model, coupled with the gaming component, which should make the game, film and graphic novel deals announced more than just a press release. These movies will be made, according to Peters. And these movies will allow the directors and creative people behind them to have control of their visions.

“We’ll work to keep the creative team intact throughout the process,” said Cerenzie. “We won’t have eight writers and six executives trying to put their thumbprint on the film. The vision of the filmmakers will be kept pure.”

GameDaily

>> Campbell Out as Elvis in “Bubba” Sequel

bubba.jpgGenre fave Bruce Campbell dropped a bombshell on FANGORIA RADIO listeners the other night: The actor has turned down appearing in BUBBA NOSFERATU, the long-mooted sequel/prequel to his and director Don (PHANTASM) Coscarelli’s 2002 sleeper hit BUBBA HO-TEP. You read that right: The EVIL DEAD actor won’t be growing out his sideburns and donning the white jumpsuit again to play the geriatric Elvis Presley for the follow-up. The reason, Campbell said, had to do with the screenplay by Coscarelli and co-scripter Stephen Romano, which features Elvis, both in the past and present, battling a clan of Las Vegas vampires and dealing with the machinations of his duplicitous manager, Colonel Tom Parker (to be played by Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti, a big Coscarelli/Campbell fan).

“[BUBBA NOSFERATU] is dead to me,” Campbell said flatly. “It sleeps with the fishes. Don Coscarelli is a very passionate filmmaker. We got to a few points [developing the screenplay] that we couldn’t reconcile. I want to keep our friendship, so we parted ways. So I’m not part of that project.”

fangoria.com

>> Snyder to Adapt Bradbury Classic

bradbury.jpg“300” director Zack Snyder is sharpening his pencil for “The Illustrated Man,” a project based on the Ray Bradbury collection of short stories.

The unrelated tales explore the nature of humankind and are linked by a storyteller with talking tattoos.

Some of the better-known stories include “The Veldt,” about two parents who use an artificial nursery that re-creates the African savanna to placate their children but get locked inside it by the kids; “The Other Foot,” in which Mars has been colonized by black people who want to create a system of segregation when they learn that a rocket filled with white travelers is arriving from Earth; and “Marionettes Inc.,” in which a man attempts to escape his unhappy marriage by replacing himself with a robot to fool his wife, only to discover that his wife left a while ago and he had been living with a robot version of her.

 

The book, originally published in 1951, was the basis of a 1969 film that starred Rod Steiger in the title role.

The film is set up at Warner Bros., where Snyder is in preproduction on the comic-book adaptation “Watchmen.”

Reutgers/Hollywood Reporter