Newsbites: The comics and fantasy edition!

1. Disney dumped the Chronicles of Narnia franchise not only because Prince Caspian underperformed at the box office, but also partly because of a long-simmering feud between the studio and Walden Media, the latter of which insisted on renegotiating their deal after The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) became a huge hit. If Fox doesn’t sign on to co-produce The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in the next week or so, then Sony or Warner might leap at the chance. — Patrick Goldstein

2. The first issue of Star Trek: Countdown is out now, and it reveals some interesting things about the fate of Romulus following the destruction of its government in Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). —

3. The CGI-characters-in-a-live-action-setting thing worked well enough for Scooby-Doo (2002-2004), Garfield (2004-2006) and especially Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007) — in box-office terms, that is — so now it’s Tom and Jerry’s turn to step before the cameras. — Variety

4. John August is writing the screenplay for Preacher, based on the comic-book series by Garth Ennis. After that, he’ll tackle Frankenweenie for Tim Burton, with whom he frequently collaborates. — Variety, Hollywood Reporter, John August

5. Watchmen, like many comic books written by Alan Moore, has a rape scene, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays one of the “heroes” in the film version of that graphic novel, says the scene in question took three days to shoot. Meanwhile, a vintage news broadcast about Dr. Manhattan, circa 1970, has surfaced on the internet. — MTV Splash Page, YouTube

6. J.K. Simmons, who plays newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson in the Spider-Man movies, says the next installment in the franchise will begin filming in 2010 for a May 2011 release. — MTV Splash Page

7. Dominic Monaghan, who played the hobbit Merry in The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003), says “there’s a really strong chance that we might be back” in the upcoming prequels, even though Merry and various other characters do not appear in the book version of The Hobbit. — MTV Movie News

8. Dakota Fanning, who turns 15 next month, could be in the running for a part in New Moon, the sequel to Twilight, as an Italian vampire. — Mark Malkin

9. The release date for Roland Emmerich’s disaster epic 2012 has been pushed back to November 13. — Hollywood Reporter

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