Newsbites: The sequels and remakes edition!

Glad to have these out of my system, at last!

1. MTV Movies Blog notes that Pixar may run into some difficulties on Cars 2, due to the rumoured health problems that may or may not be plaguing Paul Newman, who provided the voice of Doc Hudson in the original film.

The blog doesn’t mention it, but the series may also be affected, one way or another, by the recent death of George Carlin, who provided the voice of Fillmore, and the rumoured suicide attempt last year of Owen Wilson, who provided the voice of Lightning McQueen.

This would not be the first time a Pixar franchise has had to press on without some of its original members. Jim Varney, who provided the voice of Slinky Dog in the first two Toy Story movies (1995-1999), died eight years ago. I have no idea whether the character will appear in Toy Story 3, which is currently in production, but the actor certainly won’t.

2. The New York Times takes a look at Terminator Salvation and the producers’ determination to keep filming even though there is the possibility that an actors’ strike could start at any moment. The story includes a couple nice photos of the film’s post-apocalyptic exterior sets in New Mexico, including a ruined 7-Eleven sign.

3. The Dark Knight is such a highly anticipated film, it’s kind of nice to hear at least one person, i.e. Devin Faraci, express the view that the film isn’t as “revolutionary” as some people have been saying it is — though he says it is still very good, etc. By all means, let us keep our expectations realistic.

Meanwhile, Variety looks at the age-old issue of how the makers of the Batman films need to toe a fine line between edginess and family-friendliness, while the MTV Movies Blog asks whether any future film in the Chris Nolan – Christian Bale series of Batman films should even think about bringing Robin the Boy Wonder into the storyline. Reportedly, Bale himself has said that he will refuse to be involved with any film that features the character.

4. Cinematical reports that Mark Millar, author of the comic-book mini-series that inspired Wanted, has said that he and an anonymous “very well known American action director” are pitching a reboot of the Superman franchise to Warner Brothers. This is interesting, as Bryan Singer and Brandon Routh have both been talking as though they were still working on a sequel to Superman Returns (2006). Paul Christian Glenn ponders what should and shouldn’t be salvaged from Singer’s previous film, regardless of who makes the next one.

5. Variety reports that The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is moving from New Zealand to Mexico, to take advantage of the water tanks there that were used for Titanic (1997) and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003).

6. The Hobbit director Guillermo Del Toro tells MTV Movie News:

But it is the second movie that is the treasure trove of possibilities. I believe the second movie will be present as an opportunity of enthusiasm and creation. I frankly look forward to that one so much. I really want us to prove that we have a solid concept for that, but the promise of that land is absolutely mind-boggling! I can’t wait to mount on the horse and ride, and I hate horses!

Meanwhile, he tells Defamer:

“We believe there is a second movie,” del Toro said during a discussion at the Majestic Crest. “If there isn’t, there will not be. If we find it, we will shoot it, but by God, if we do not find it, we will not shoot it. I am anxious to shoot the book, and I’m willing and able to dedicate myself to shooting the [second film].”

Not very reassuring, we don’t think — especially for MGM, which needs the prestige and profit of a Hobbit two-fer, like, yesterday. It’s trickier than it sounds, though; the second film, which would apparently bridge the gap between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, can only draw on the novels to which Jackson holds the rights. The rest of the background or ancillary literature (and there’s a lot) is off-limits. “In the four books that are in the domain of the copyright, there are appendices and ideas and things that can be traced without risk,” del Toro said. “But I have to be careful not to overstep. We believe there is a way to create this film and make it interesting, but it’s too early.”

So, does it sound like the second film will happen, or won’t happen? Who knows. But don’t count on the Tolkien estate making it even remotely easy for the filmmakers to use any of that other ancillary literature. The Los Angeles Times has an update on the Tolkien estate’s lawsuit against the filmmakers, which isn’t scheduled to be heard in court until October 2009.

7. The New York Times takes a look at Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the seventh big-screen Star Wars movie and the first to be completely animated, and the upcoming TV series to which it is connected.

Speaking of George Lucas’s ongoing milking of this franchise, a few weeks ago my priest referred me to Michael Kaminski’s The Secret History of Star Wars, an in-depth, 532-page PDF file on the creation of the franchise and Lucas’s almost Stalinist efforts to revise the history of how the franchise came to be.

Example: Lucas likes to give the impression nowadays that he had the prequels in mind all along, but Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker’s father were two different people until Lucas wrote the second draft of The Empire Strikes Back, which was then known as Episode II and not as Episode V, in March or April 1978.

I’ve only had time to read bits and pieces of Kaminski’s book, so far, but much of it seems plausible and fits with my own memory of how the original trilogy was promoted back in the day. Check it out.

8. Eddie Murphy tells the MTV Movies Blog that Beverly Hills Cop III (1994) was “a crock of sh-t” and he wants the currently-in-development Beverly Hills Cop IV to be “special”. Meanwhile, director Brett Ratner tells Latino Review that the rumours of the new film being PG-13 are false: “Believe me, this is going to be a hard core ‘R’ Beverly Hills Cop.”

9. Variety reported last week that Robert Rodriguez was going to remake Red Sonja (1985) with his current main squeeze Rose McGowan, who he met on the set of Grindhouse (2007). Then reports surfaced that they had broken up. Now People assures us that they are still together and their plans for making this movie are ticking along just nicely. Thank goodness for that.

10. Variety says Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) star Ian McKellen will play Number Two and Passion of the Christ (2004) star Jim Caviezel will play Number Six in a new series based on The Prisoner (1967-1968).

Number Six was originally played by Patrick McGoohan, who reportedly turned down the part of James Bond for moral reasons related to his Catholicism, and Caviezel is a well-known Catholic who has also refused to do love scenes — coincidence?

McGoohan was also reportedly offered the part of Gandalf, but turned it down for health reasons; in the end it went to McKellen, of course.

McKellen, for his part, is an atheist, so I wonder what kind of conversations he and Caviezel might have on the set? Could be interesting. At any rate, they have both played prophetic wonder-workers who died and came back to life!

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  • McGoohan was also reportedly offered Dumbledore and turned it down for the same reasons — pity, really. McGoohan’s voice has always been the one I hear for Dumbledore in the books.

    I’ll be interested to see what the Prisoner re-imagining turns into, particularly with this cast.