Indy IV plot details — a producer speaks, again.


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull producer Frank Marshall has spilled a few more details about the film — this time to USA Today — and once again, he’s basically just confirming what the rumour mill has been saying for months now. He even teases us with a possible reference to those alien rumours:

The artifact of the title is inspired by real quartz sculptures of disputed origins that are carved in a way that defies the natural structure of the crystal.

“The theory is they are shaped by higher powers or alien powers or came from another world, or an ancient Mayan civilization had the powers,” Marshall says.

The Cate Blanchett character also has a name, now:

The Nazis are no longer Indy’s chief foe — he’s racing for the Crystal Skull against operatives from the Soviet Union, including Oscar winner Cate Blanchett as the seductive Agent Spalko. “Indy always has a love-hate relationship with every woman he ever comes in contact with,” Marshall says.

I must also nitpick one little detail here:

When last we saw Indy, he was riding off into the sunset in 1989′s The Last Crusade, set in 1938 near the start of World War II. The new movie, due this spring, is set at the height of the Cold War in 1957, so the character has aged in real time — 19 years.

While it may be true that both Indiana Jones and Harrison Ford have aged the same number of years since the last movie, the last movie was produced 8 years after the first movie but was supposedly set only 2 years after it, so Harrison Ford would still be about 6 years older than the character he is playing. So Indy has aged in “real time” — but only to a point. No big deal, though.

Jim Hill on Disney and Pixar in-jokes


Click here for a post at Jim Hill Media that is full of screen captures from various Pixar short films and feature films, showing how the stars of one film often tend to pop up in other films, sometimes even before their primary film has come out.

And click here for a much briefer post on a reference to an upcoming Disney cartoon in their current hit Enchanted; along the way, Jim Hill says it looks like the upcoming straight-to-video Tinker Bell movie might not give its title character a voice after all.

Oh, and speaking of Disney and screen captures, check out this exhaustive visual synopsis of the classic educational film Our Friend the Atom (1957), over at the Liverputty blog.

Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to be remade


Variety reports:

Producer Thomas Schuehly (“Alexander”) has acquired the remake rights to Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” and is partnering with Mario Kassar on an updated version of the 1927 silent sci-fi classic.

Remake rights!? Does this mean the movie isn’t in the public domain yet, even after 80 years? Yowzers. The story continues:

“With the overwhelming role technology plays in our daily lives, the growing gap between rich and poor, including the gradual elimination of the middle class, the story of ‘Metropolis’ is a frightening reflection of our society that takes place in an all too possible not too distant future,” said Schuehly.

Let’s just hope they don’t go all CGI on the android Maria.

The Golden Compass doesn’t bomb overseas


The Golden Compass may have had an underwhelming first weekend in North America, but overseas it’s doing rather well. Variety reports:

New Line’s big-budget fantasy epic “The Golden Compass” had trouble finding its bearings at the domestic box office, grossing an estimated $26.1 million from 3,528 theaters. That’s a soft debut considering the film’s pricey production budget of at least $180 million. . . .

New Line said while the film’s performance fell below expectations–New Line had estimated that the opening haul would be between $30 million and $40 million–”Compass” had a strong international debut, grossing an estimated $55 million from 25 territories in its day-and-date debut.

At the same time, New Line’s overseas take will be capped, since it sold off all international territories. . . .

So the film is currently making about twice as much overseas as it is in North America, but it’s quite possible the studio that produced the movie will get only a fraction of that money.

How does that bode for the prospective sequels? I have no idea. If the first film can show that the franchise has a proven global audience, I suppose it is possible that New Line could sell off the international territories at a higher rate next time — but whether it could do so at a high-enough rate to justify the expense of producing the sequels in the first place is another question.

For comparison’s sake, here is how some other recent films have fared when they took a skeptical look at religion etc.:

  1. The Da Vinci Code (2006) — $217.5m domestic, $540.7m overseas, 28.7% + 71.3%
  2. Kingdom of Heaven (2005) — $47.4m domestic, $164.3m overseas, 22.4% + 77.6%
  3. Troy (2004) — $133.4m domestic, $364.0m overseas, 26.8% + 73.2%

And here is how some recent films have fared when they catered to the religious market:

  1. Evan Almighty (2007) — $100.3m domestic, $72.7m overseas, 58.0% + 42.0%
  2. The Nativity Story (2006) — $37.6m domestic, $8.2m overseas, 82.1% + 17.9%
  3. The Passion of the Christ (2004) — $370.8m domestic, $241.1m overseas, 60.6% + 39.4%

And here is how other recent films have fared when they were based on British fantasies:

  1. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) — $291.7m domestic, $453.1m overseas, 39.2% + 60.8%
  2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2004) — $290.0m domestic, $606.0m overseas, 32.4% + 67.6%
  3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) — $377.0m domestic, $741.9m overseas, 33.7% + 66.3%

So openly skeptical or agnostic movies tend to make about a quarter of their global revenues in North America, openly religious movies tend to make well more than half of their global revenues in North America, and fantasies tend to make about a third of their global revenues in North America.

Proportionately speaking, The Golden Compass is in the third category, for now; but if the gap between the North American and foreign revenues should increase, then it would be in the first category, which might say something about how the film is perceived by audiences both here and abroad.

The Golden Compass bombs in North America


I can’t sum up the basic points any better than Lou Lumenick of the New York Post already has:

Early Friday estimates for “The Golden Compass” are running between $8.6 and $8.8 million, suggesting the megabucks fantasy may have a hard time matching the $27.5 million opening weekend of “Beowulf,” much less than $65.6 million debut for “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” New Line has copped to a budget of $180 million for “Golden Compass,” which likely means it actually cost north of $200 million. Perhaps 60-65 percent of that is covered by foreign pre-sales, but that also means New Line won’t be able to make up a domestic shortfall with revenues from overseas, where “Compass” is at least posting respectable numbers. Expect a statement from New Line tomorrow that they expect “Compass” to play well through the holiday season, which is the standard Hollywood spin on underperforming tentpoles. Forget about the second and third installments of Philip Pullman‘s trilogy, and Nicole Kidman can probably say bye-bye to $15 million paydays at least for a while.

Variety, which reported yesterday that the studio was predicting an opening weekend in the $30 million to $40 million range, adds this interesting data point of comparison:

Pic’s opening day take is on par with last December’s “Eragon,” also based on a young adult fantasy book, which grossed $8.7 million on its first day and $23.2 million during its opening weekend.

And Eragon had a production budget of only (only!) $100 million and opened against stiff competition in the form of both The Pursuit of Happyness and Charlotte’s Web, whereas The Golden Compass was the only new wide release this week.

Meanwhile, Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood Daily adds:

Wildly expensive flop should sink New Line Cinema chairman Bob Shaye’s chances to stay on when his contract expires in 2008…

And, hmmm, if Shaye were to leave New Line Cinema, maybe that would open the door to the studio patching things up with Peter Jackson and getting started on that long-delayed movie version of The Hobbit. I mean, it’s not like the studio has any other surefire hits in development right now — not after the failure of The Golden Compass has made it pretty much impossible to go ahead with the even costlier, even more controversial sequels to that film.

In the meantime, let’s hope the film’s original deleted ending will be included, in some form, on the DVD. MTV News posted a story yesterday in which director Chris Weitz and a few of the cast members speculated as to what other things might be included if an “extended version” of the film were to be released on DVD.

Brand new Indy IV revelations! … or not.


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull producer Frank Marshall has talked to MTV News and revealed … nothing that those following the rumours hadn’t pretty much already figured out. But still, it’s nice to get some official confirmation on a few points, finally.

Cate Blanchett is playing an enemy, Jim Broadbent is playing a friend, and Ray Winstone is playing … a little of both, apparently:

“Ray Winstone, he came from ‘Beowulf‘ to this,” Marshall continued, describing Winstone’s character, Mac, as a sort of cross between villain Belloq and friend Sallah. “He plays an archaeologist competitor to Indy. Friend and competitor.”

Okay, that last revelation is a little new, at least to me. But Marshall doesn’t say anything one way or the other about, say, the role that John Hurt is playing in this film, or whether Shia LaBeouf really is playing Indy’s son as everybody assumes, or whether there is any truth to those alien rumours.

Which is fine. I wouldn’t mind if there were still some surprises in store when the film comes out six months from now.


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