Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means… something’s gone a little awry with the scheduling because the News Bites are normally supposed to be released on Friday. I’m getting reports of a maniacal Jersey Devils fan, but those reports are coming from Manny the rumor-monger, so we’ll just have to take that with a grain of salt. But even though the News Bites are a day early, that doesn’t mean they’ll be coming up short; there’s still a full slate of movie news to be talked about.
There’s some superhero movie news, some monster movie news, some sequel news, and some news on new original films. So continue reading to find out what’s going on.
The Toronto International Film Festival was this past week, and lots of deals were made for film distribution. Among the companies acquiring films was Viva Pictures, who picked up the distribution rights to Antboy, starring Oscar Dietz as the title character, a 12-year-old boy who develops superpowers after being bitten by an ant. The film is directed by Ask Hasselbach, and has no relationship to Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man.
Speaking of Ant-Man, Marvel Studios seems to have some optimism in it, as they are advancing the release date from November to July 31, 2015. A summer release date says a lot about how well Marvel thinks it will do.
And now a moment to address the eleph-ant in the room: Yes, there are films entitled Antboy and Ant-Man, and they are both about superheroes, and are not connected, and will be coming out about the same time. Yes, Antboy is a non-Marvel project. And yes, Antboy sounds like it’s inspired by Spider-Man, which is, like Ant-Man, owned by Marvel (though the film rights are Sony’s, but that’s a side note). It has to be wondered if Marvel will step in and say Viva has to change the title of the film. On the one hand, the title may be different enough that a court would side with Viva, especially if Marvel doesn’t have a trademark on “Antboy”. And Viva mostly distributes things via home video, so it may not be a big deal to Marvel, as their film is theatrical. On the other hand, we are talking about a company that was notoriously lawsuit happy before being bought by Disney, and which comes from an industry where it’s a common practice to create spin-off characters purely for the purpose of reserving similar trademarks (this is how Supergirl reportedly came about). It’s likely nothing will come of it, but it’s interesting to note.
In non-speculative lawsuit news, Sweetpea Entertainment is counter-suing Hasbro over Dungeons and Dragons, claiming that Hasbro signed over the film rights — theatrical and television — to Sweetpea in perpetuity, and that Hasbro’s claim that the rights had reverted is invalid, as is Hasbro’s deal with Universal. Now, I’m not a lawyer, and I haven’t seen the contract. But when you go claiming that a company known for ruthlessly absorbing rival companies and intellectual property rights said you could have something forever, I’m a little skeptical.
In happier legal news, Marvel has settled out of court with Ghost Rider creator Gary Friedrich, who was claiming ownership of the character. Details of the settlement have not been revealed, but as both parties have agreed to settle, one can assume it means that Friedrich will be getting money and/or a percentage of profits while Marvel will continue to have the rights to use the character.
IFC Midnight has picked up the distribution rights to The Station, a horror film by Marvin Kren. In the film, an alpine research station finds a glacier that is leaking a mysterious red fluid that is transforming all the local wildlife.
Keanu Reeves reports grim tidings on the likelihood of a third Bill and Ted film. Reeves says it’s still being worked on, but it’s entering a “dark period”, implying that there is difficulty getting it greenlit. Bogus. On the other hand, Alex Winter is reportedly still optimstic.
Speaking of Alex Winter, his documentary feature Downloaded, about Napster, will be released for free streaming on AOL at http://on.aol.com/downloaded. Show of hands: Who, upon watching Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure for the first time thought both of those guys would one day be directors? Second show of hands: Who knew AOL was still trying to be relevant?
After the departure of Joe Cornish, Rio director Carlos Saldanha is in talks to direct Rust, about a jetpack wearing boy being chased by a giant war robot.
Due to script issues, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales has been delayed from summer 2015, and is now expected to be released summer 2016.
Meanwhile, The Mortal Instruments sequel City of Ashes, has been pushed back to an indefinite date, to “analyze the results to date and reposition the franchise in order to maximize results for future installments.” Constantin Film still apparently plans to go through with the sequel, but they are clearly rethinking how to get better results than they did with the first film at the box office.
The fourth Jurassic Park film not only has an official release date, it also has a new title. Jurassic World will be released on June 12, 2015.
Universal’s origin story for Dracula is getting a title change as well; rather than simply being Dracula, as it was before, it will now be Dracula Untold.
Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey) is joining the cast of Fox’s Frankenstein, which already has James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe. Paul McGuigan is directing.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a Star Wars: Episode VII rumor, so here’s one regarding the title. Talkbacker.com reports that two separate sources have each claimed the title of the film will be A New Dawn.
Max Landis wants to write Wonder Woman for Warner Brothers. Landis states he has a pitch he plans to make for the character which has had a rocky existence in film development. As Landis wrote Chronicle, he might have a good handle on superheroic characters. On the other hand, he also said he’d like to do a version of Green Lantern that was “E.T. meets Stand By Me using the goth/punk scene and Kyle Rayner.” Never really pictured Rayner as a goth.
That’s all for this week’s News Bites. Thanks for reading, and leave a comment below with your thoughts!