Yet another Noah’s Ark cartoon brewing?

The Hollywood Reporter says Casey Affleck, the Oscar-nominated younger brother of Ben, pitched an animated film called Aardvark Art’s Ark two years ago and is still developing it at Warner Brothers, though a new screenwriter has been brought in to do the rewrites while Affleck takes care of his busy acting career.

The paper says the film concerns “a group of animals who are stranded when they are not chosen to go on Noah’s ark.”

That brings the number of recent and in-development Noah’s Ark cartoons — whether literal or quasi-allegorical — up to six. Other such films that I have noted here include:

  1. The Flood — Promenade Pictures
  2. Rock the Boat — Gaumont
  3. Noah’s Ark — Unified Pictures
  4. El Arca — Patagonik Film Group
  5. The Missing Lynx — Kandor Graphics

And that’s not counting the seemingly defunct projects that were once being developed by Bill Cosby and Walden Media — to say nothing of the recent live-action effort Evan Almighty (2007).

All About Us — the interview’s up!

My interview with Michael and Christine Swanson, the producer and writer-director respectively of All About You (2001) and All About Us (2007), is now up at CT Movies.

Billy: The Early Years has a website.

CT Movies has an update on Billy: The Early Years, the Billy Graham biopic coming out in October, including a link to the film’s official website, which includes a trailer. Bits of it seem kind of over-the-top, and the photo below would seem to confirm suspicions that the film will give Charles Templeton, the evangelist-turned-agnostic played by Martin Landau, something of a non-historically happy ending. But we’ll see. I do get a kick out of the scenes of young Graham refining his preaching style.

John Boorman preps Hadrian

Variety reports that John Boorman is preparing a movie about the Roman emperor Hadrian, who reigned AD 117 to 138 and is most famous now for building a fortified wall across the northern part of England. Boorman’s films have ranged anywhere from great to awful, so it’s impossible to say what will become of this particular project. But it’s a handy excuse to post the picture above, taken when I visited Hadrian’s Wall on August 3, 1994.

Interestingly, Boorman tells Variety that Hadrian’s reign “marked both the height of the Roman empire and the beginning of its decline. It’s the irony of his rule.” That’s certainly true geographically, inasmuch as Hadrian’s predecessor, Trajan, had conquered Mesopotamia, i.e. the region now known as Iraq, whereas Hadrian pulled out of that territory — thus marking the end of Rome’s imperial expansion. Others, however, have placed the beginning of Rome’s cultural and imperial decline at a later date. For example, Anthony Mann’s The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) derives its title from the idea that everything began to go downhill with the death of Marcus Aurelius, who reigned AD 161 to 180.

For what it’s worth, it was also Hadrian who, following the Bar Kokhba revolt in the 130s, changed the name of the Holy Land from Iudaea to Syria Palaestina — or, if you will, from Judea (named after the Jews) to Palestine (named after the Philistines). So, depending on what it chooses to emphasize, a movie about his reign could resonate with modern audiences for a whole host of reasons.

Canadian box-office stats — July 27

Here are the figures for the past weekend, arranged from those that owe the highest percentage of their take to the Canadian box office to those that owe the lowest.

Journey to the Center of the Earth — CDN $5,930,000 — N.AM $60,185,000 — 9.9%
Mamma Mia! — CDN $5,920,000 — N.AM $62,714,000 — 9.4%
Wanted — CDN $11,250,000 — N.AM $128,616,000 — 8.7%

Hellboy II: The Golden Army — CDN $5,710,000 — N.AM $65,894,000 — 8.7%
Get Smart — CDN $10,740,000 — N.AM $124,214,000 — 8.6%
The Dark Knight — CDN $25,210,000 — N.AM $314,245,000 — 8.0%
Hancock — CDN $16,330,000 — N.AM $206,371,000 — 7.9%
Step Brothers — CDN $2,270,000 — N.AM $30,000,000 — 7.6%
The X-Files: I Want to Believe — CDN $763,474 — N.AM $10,200,000 — 7.5%
WALL·E — CDN $14,110,000 — N.AM $195,235,000 — 7.2%

A couple of discrepancies: Get Smart was #9 on the Canadian chart (it was #11 in North America as a whole), while Space Chimps was #9 on the North American chart (it was #11 in Canada).

Terminator, Sarah Connor, and faith.

Several outlets, journalists and websites — including SpoutBlog, Entertainment Weekly, Nikki Finke, Anne Thompson, and the Associated Press — have covered the Terminator Salvation panel at Comic-Con in some detail by now.

Among other things, we have learned that Warner Brothers is deliberately spreading misinformation about the film to keep spoiler hounds off the scent, and Kyle Reese will get to say the immortal line “Come with me if you want to live” to John Connor, and the filmmakers are making a big deal of the fact that they have a multi-racial cast (as though previous Terminator films did not co-star the likes of Paul Winfield and Joe Morton), and so on.

But what intrigues me just a little bit more is a tiny detail that has come out of the comparatively under-reported Sarah Connor Chronicles panel. Entertainment Weekly writes:

In season 2, say the producers, the universe has been expanded, and the core group we met last spring will be rubbing shoulders with the real world. We’ll see the Connor family crumble, and what that stress does to a mom — even as Skynet continues to evolve. Some of the actors — Dekker and Headey, especially — may be directing some of the show’s online content going forward, and they’re writing Richard T. Jones’ Christian faith into the show as part of Agent Ellison’s character.

I am curious to see how they do this last bit. The Terminator franchise has always had mythic or religious overtones — I have often quipped that the first film is one of my favorite Christmas movies, and of course expressions like “Judgment Day” carry a certain thematic weight — but I am leery of anything that would literalize these allegorical allusions.

I am leery, in other words, of anything which would suggest that the “apocalypse” wrought by these machines is identical to the “apocalypse” foretold in the Bible — and there has already been at least one episode of this series that seemed to nudge in that direction, if I recall correctly.

Still, I’m all in favour of bringing faith issues to the fore. And if they are doing this partly in response to the faith that the actors themselves are bringing to the set, then that is all the more intriguing.

For more on The Sarah Connor Chronicles and its use of biblical motifs, whether directly or by way of Johnny Cash songs, check out this post and others at Carmen Andres’s blog In the Open Space: God & Culture.

JUL 29 UPDATE: Carmen has posted her own two bits on the news from Comic-Con, and she links to this interview from back in February in which Richard T. Jones talks about the “divine timing” that he believes is manifesting itself in his acting career.