Good morning, one and all. Yesterday was Independence Day in the U.S., so I hope all my fellow Americans had a good time. As might be expected, the holiday meant that there were fewer press releases this week than there have been for the last few, but there are still some interesting tidbits to share for this week’s News Bites.
What’s new this week includes a few more remakes, and a few more young adult novel adaptations — Hollywood seems to have really latched onto these recently, especially as now the books are being optioned even before they hit the bookshelves. Also some legal wrangling over a high-profile film title. What’s on the docket? Read on.
With the release of Monsters University this year and the announcement of Finding Dory in 2015, some people have complained that it seems like Pixar’s only doing sequels now. Of course, they had their first sequel with their third film, so it’s not entirely new — but that was the only sequel out of their first ten films. At any rate, this hasn’t been lost on Pixar themselves, as studio president Ed Catmull has plans to up the number of original movies. What’s interesting is that this isn’t a plan to scale back sequels, precisely. The current plan is to release three movies in every two year period — an original film each year, and a prequel/sequel every other year. Catmull also briefly discusses plans to ensure that newcomers keep getting chances to direct so that the reins at Pixar don’t go through a period of executive confusion as Disney’s did when Walt Disney died.
There are yet more young adult sci-fi/fantasy movie adaptations in the works. Warner Brothers has won the rights to adapt The Young World in auction. The Young World is the first of a trilogy being written by Chris Weitz, the first of which is to be published this year; in the novel, a cataclysm kills off every person on Earth except those between the ages of 12 and 21. Weitz, who directed The Golden Compass and Twilight: New Moon, will direct the adaptation himself.
Meanwhile, Dreamworks has their own acquisition in the field, with The Fire Sermon, by Francesca Haig. As with a lot of these adaptations, it’s the first of a trilogy, and the first novel is not yet published. The Fire Sermon is set in the distant future, also after a cataclysm, and human technology has become limited. More importantly, all humans are now born as twins, who are linked such that when one dies, the other dies. One twin in each pair is an “Alpha”, a physically perfect specimen, and the other is always an “Omega”, bearing some form of physical mutation. The story concerns one such twin and what happens when he becomes the leader of the ostracized Omegas. Carla Hacken is attached to produce.
The Weinstein Company’s upcoming film The Butler, about a man serving as butler in the White House (particularly to Kennedy), may be forced into a name change. The MPAA has ruled against TWC in favor of Warner Brothers, who objected to the use of the name, as it was already used by a 1916 WB short film. There is no law protecting the reuse of a movie title, and they are often reused, but the use of movie titles is organized by the MPAA’s Title Registration Bureau, to which most studios are signatories to. Most cases of title reuse involve quiet deals with the other company; in this case, the Weinstein Company made no such deal. I’m no legal expert, by any means, but it seems like both sides have a valid point here. The Weinstein Company is correct that nobody is going to confuse a 2013 feature film with a 1916 short. But Warner Brothers is also correct in that if you sign on to an agreement, it behooves one to play by the rules. The Weinstein Company is apparently now looking to sue under anti-trust legislation; sites dealing with Hollywood legal matters are already speculating this will fail. So the ultimate question is, will the Weinstein Company work things out with Warner Brothers, or will The Butler bear a different name? (And is it really worth it to TWC to fight so hard to keep such a generic name? The President’s Butler isn’t taken.)
Martin Kemp has signed on to direct Top Dog, based on a crime novel by Dougie Brimson. The story is about a London criminal who finds he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he antagonizes a rival gang. Leo Gregory is attached to star in the lead role.
Up next for the remake treatment is Jacob’s Ladder, the 1990 psychological thriller. The new script is being written by Jeff Buhler, and is reportedly meant more as an homage rather than a direct copy of the original.
Also getting the remake treatment is a film adapted from a novel with a more prestigious pedigree: John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. It’s being handled as a high-profile adaptation, as might be expected for a novel labeled a classic which has previously been adapted into a nominee for Best Picture. Dreamworks has the adaptation, and Steven Spielberg is producing but not directing.
Lion Forge Comics is partnering with NBC to produce digital comics based on five different NBC shows from the 1980s; the comics will be released for Kindle, Nook, iPad, and Kobo. The shows being adapted to comic form are Knight Rider, Airwolf, Miami Vice, Punky Brewster, and Saved by the Bell. There is no word yet on what I’m sure is everybody’s most pressing question, whether it’s the live-action or animated Punky Brewster that is being adapted.
Rumors and Speculation:
It’s not yet certain, but Hellboy 3 could be happening at Legendary Pictures. Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman have reportedly spoken to studio president Thomas Tull about doing the film.
This is speculation of the purest form — it’s not even attached to any news or rumor at all — but it’s interesting to think about. Tim Beyers, of financial site Motley Fool, claims a Wonder Woman movie could eclipse Man of Steel at the box office. Beyers’ reasoning is two-fold. First, he believes the mythological elements could strengthen the film, as it helped with Marvel’s Thor. And secondly, he feels that although previous superheroine films did poorly (mostly because they were poor films), there’s now a strong example of a female action lead in The Hunger Games, which could demonstrate to Warner Brothers that it wasn’t the idea of female heroes that the audience objected to, it was the portrayal.