He played Gollum … he played King Kong …

… so of course Andy Serkis had to be cast in the motion-capture adaptation of the Tintin comics currently being developed by Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg. Interestingly, though, Variety reports that Serkis will be playing someone other than Tintin himself — though who, exactly, the studio won’t say.

UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter says “it is believed Serkis will play the role of Capt. Haddock, a temperamental sea captain”.

The Golden Compass tanks some more

How badly is The Golden Compass doing at the North American box office? So badly that, despite the film’s reported $250 million production budget — a figure that does not include marketing costs! — BoxOfficeMojo.com has added the film to its “showdown” chart for “Mid-Range Fantasy” movies, pitting it against the modest likes of Eragon and Bridge to Terabithia rather than the all-time blockbusters whose ranks it clearly wants to join. And The Golden Compass is actually making less money after one week in release than those other films, which ended their North American runs with grosses of $75 million and $82.3 million, respectively.

And the news gets worse — for the people who made the film, that is — as the film goes into its second week. Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily reports that the film “earned only an anemic $2.6 million Friday from 3,528 nearly empty runs”, a figure that prompted Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere to quip:

The projected haul will mean a 60% drop from last weekend, give or take. The Golden Lion of the Rings & the Wardrobe & the Order of the Magical Polar Bear is dead, dead…deader than dead. If this were Japan, certain New Line executives would be getting out their samurai swords in preparation for ritual seppuku.

Of course, the film seems to be doing well enough overseas — but even there, who knows how long that will last. Variety reports:

Despite the strong start for “Compass,” “the jury’s out on its legs,” says a Spanish booker. “It can’t be compared with ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ Audiences are eager to find something similar, but they will soon realize that ‘Compass’ is not on par with it.”

It will be interesting to see how this film is packaged when the DVD comes out. Quibble though I might with some aspects of the film, I would still be very interested in a commentary by director Chris Weitz — and/or author Philip Pullman, come to think of it — to say nothing of all the possible making-of featurettes. And since it looks increasingly unlikely that the sequels will ever be made, I would really, really like to see the original ending, which was cut from the film after bits of it had already been shown in the trailers. But depending on how badly the film flops, the studio might decide it’s simply not worth the effort. And it might be kind of embarrassing to have anyone provide a commentary on a cliffhanger ending, when everyone knows the cliffhanger will never be resolved.

The Kite Runner — the review’s up!

My review of The Kite Runner is now up at CT Movies.

Review: The Kite Runner (dir. Marc Forster, 2007)

kiterunnerIt’s probably safe to say you’ve never seen kite-flying scenes like the ones that form the emotional and metaphorical core of The Kite Runner. The film, based on the best-selling book by Khaled Hosseini, is partly set in Afghanistan in the 1970s, and the simple act of flying a kite comes to represent a freedom of spirit that is lost when the nation is invaded by the Soviets in 1979, and then remains lost when the nation is dominated by the extremist form of Islam that characterized the Taliban.

But the two boys at the heart of this story do not merely fly kites, they “cut” them — by chasing other kites through the air and curling around their strings until they snap. Kite-flying thus becomes a form of competition — and with the help of modern special effects, the film sometimes uses aerial shots to show how the airborne kites pursue one another, like fighter planes hot on each other’s tails.

[Read more...]

Clash of the Titans gets a director — ugh.

Variety reports that Stephen Norrington has been tapped to direct the remake of Clash of the Titans (1981).

Norrington directed the original Blade (1998). He also directed League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), which may go down in history as the movie that ended Sean Connery’s career.

Somehow I am not expecting great things, here.

Then again, if Connery could be lured back to play Zeus, that could make this a riotously funny bit of camp. Or perhaps not.

Now I’ve got this image in my head of Zeus wearing a giant teddy-bear costume. And as surreal as that was in The Avengers (1998), it didn’t exactly make that movie funny.

Peter Jackson isn’t the only one suing New Line.

Variety reports that Saul Zaentz, who has owned the film rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings since 1976, is suing New Line Cinema for the chance to look at their financial records, to see whether they have paid him his proper share of the profits from Peter Jackson’s enormously successful trilogy.

You may recall that Jackson himself is suing New Line for pretty much the same thing — and that Jackson’s lawsuit is one of the reasons why many people think a film version of The Hobbit will never get made, at least not by these guys.

You may also recall that Zaentz said over a year ago that the film rights to The Hobbit would be reverting to him in the very, very near future — and that Jackson would make the film, with or without New Line.

And all of this is happening while New Line’s latest attempt at a popular fantasy franchise — Chris Weitz’s adaptation of The Golden Compass — has been seriously underperforming at the box office.

Make of all that what you will.