Newsbites: The Guillermo Del Toro edition!

Guillermo Del Toro has so many projects on his plate right now, it is doubtful he will ever find time to do them all. (He has already parted ways with Tarzan.) But here are some of his thoughts on the projects he’s still got on the go, as reported by the MTV Movies Blog.

1. Del Toro is, of course, working on The Hobbit first and foremost. And he says that he and his colleagues are now referring to The Hobbit as one movie in two parts, rather than as two completely separate movies. So where will they break the story? Del Toro isn’t saying, quite, but he does say this: “I think Smaug dies in the first movie. So draw your own conclusions.” Del Toro also says there are currently no plans for producer (and former Lord of the Rings director) Peter Jackson to do any second-unit directing. But shooting the two films in 3-D and IMAX is a possibility.

2. Next up, Del Toro talks about remaking Slaughterhouse-Five (1972), and says “digital effects” might make it easier to “push [the] narrative” of Kurt Vonnegut’s story about a man who is “unstuck in time”.

3. Finally, Del Toro says he would love to tap into the religious dimensions of Frankenstein. He sees the creature as “a lost child of Paradise” and says “there are aspects to it which is the dialogue between the creature and the creator for example [that haven’t been fully explored].”

OC Weekly profiles Larry Norman movie

The OC Weekly has a really interesting story up on documentarian David Di Sabatino and his new film Fallen Angel: The Outlaw Larry Norman — and it includes a quote from yours truly. I have not seen the new film yet, but I hope to soon, as I found Di Sabatino’s previous film, Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher (2005), quite fascinating, and everything I have heard about Norman suggests that he was, at minimum, a rather dramatic character. Definite movie fodder there.

Brad Pitt: a space Odysseus.


Four years ago, Brad Pitt starred in a little movie called Troy (my review), which was based on Homer’s Iliad. As I recall, my friend Magnus and I were not all that impressed by Pitt’s performance as Achilles, but we did like Sean Bean’s portrayal of Odysseus, and we kind of hoped that someone would make a sequel, based on Homer’s Odyssey, in which Bean could reprise the role.

So imagine my surprise when I read tonight that Pitt himself is thinking of starring in an adaptation of The Odyssey. And imagine my further surprise when I read that this adaptation might take place not in the distant past, but rather, in the distant future.

Reports Variety:

After turning Homer’s epic poem “The Iliad” into the 2004 film “Troy,” Warner Bros. and Brad Pitt are teaming with George Miller to adapt the Greek poet’s other masterwork, “The Odyssey.”

Their intention is to transfer the tale to a futuristic setting in outer space. . . . .

The mind boggles.

At any rate, it looks like we can add this to the list of movies currently in development that are based, however loosely, on ancient Greek myth and history. I would link to my earlier posts on those films, but there are too many to mention these days.

Brian Cox joins the cast of Kings


The Hollywood Reporter says character actor extraordinaire Brian Cox will be joining the NBC series Kings for “a major four-episode arc”:

“Kings,” from UMS, creator Michael Green and director Francis Lawrence, centers on David (Christopher Egan), an idealistic soldier who joins the court of King Silas (Ian McShane), monarch of the modern nation of Gilboa.

Cox will play Silas’ nemesis, former King Vesper.

The description of Cox’s character is interesting, because this series is based, to some degree, on the biblical story of the relationship between King Saul and his sometimes-protege, sometimes-nemesis, the future King David. And according to the biblical narrative, Saul was the first king of Israel.

So who is this “former King Vesper” supposed to represent? The former ruler of one of the neighbouring kingdoms? The former ruler of one of the Canaanite communities that were displaced by the Israelites before and during David’s lifetime? Or does this character have no biblical analogue in particular?

It is possible, of course, that this character was invented just for this series. But this raises an interesting point: Will the series follow the general arc of the biblical narrative, or, after starting with a modernized but basically biblical premise, will it go in its own direction and tell an entirely different story?

And how close of a correspondence will there be between the Old Testament and the TV series on an episode-by-episode basis, or even on a major-subplot-by-major-subplot basis?

The Bourne Redundancy gets a writer.


Variety reports:

Universal is moving ahead with its fourth installment of “The Bourne Identity” series, setting George Nolfi to write the script.

Nolfi was co-writer of the third film, which was based on a story by Tony Gilroy. Though the series is based on the Robert Ludlum novels, the new film won’t be based on a Ludlum title, but rather an original story involving the Ludlum-created Bourne character.

One slight problem, of course. The Bourne character doesn’t exist any more. He’s David Webb now, and everybody knows it.

Oh, and you have to love this almost-closing paragraph:

The studio intended to stop at the third installment, but the film grossed $227 million domestically and $215 million overseas.

Gotta hate that. “The money made me do it,” and all that.

Religulous set to outgross Expelled


I can’t find it now, but I seem to recall seeing a banner ad for Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed recently which stated that it was the top-grossing documentary of the year.

If such an ad did exist, then there is a good reason why it might not be online any more: the film, which comes out on DVD next week, is about to be surpassed by Religulous.

Josh Friedman of the Los Angeles Times reports:

“Expelled,” hosted by commentator and character actor Ben Stein, opened April 18 at a whopping 1,052 theaters and grossed a total of $7.7 million at the domestic box office during its full run, according to data tracker Box Office Mojo.

That was nothing like the breakout blockbusters “Fahrenheit 9/11” ($119.2 million), “March of the Penguins” ($77.4 million) or even “An Inconvenient Truth” ($24.1 million), but nothing to sneeze at either: It was the 12th-highest gross ever for a documentary. . . .

“Religulous,” playing at 568 theaters, is benefiting from positive word of mouth. The controversial documentary, hosted by comedian Maher (“Politically Incorrect”) and directed by Charles (“Borat“), dropped only 35% in its second weekend, compared with the industry average of about 51%. By Monday it had topped $7 million, on pace to surpass $7.7 million by Friday and ultimately to a spot in the all-time top 10 for the documentary genre. . . .

Anybody up for a double bill?

UPDATE: Aha! I found the banner ad in question at Beliefnet — so now the question is, will they still be running it next week?