DC and Warner — getting their act together?

Marvel Comics has been having lots and lots of success lately, first with its standalone franchises such as X-Men (2000-2006) and Spider-Man (2002-2007), and now with Iron Man and, to a lesser extent, The Incredible Hulk, the two of which Marvel plans to bring together in a few years with a couple more superheroes for a major, major cross-over called The Avengers.

Meanwhile, what is DC Comics doing? They’ve got a successfully rebooted Batman franchise, of course, but beyond that? There are rumours of all sorts of superhero projects in the works — from Wonder Woman and The Flash to Green Lantern and the Justice League — but it’s not clear which of these projects are related to each other and which are not. And in any case, everything — even the Superman franchise, which Bryan Singer tried to revive a couple years ago — seems to be stuck in development hell right now.

Well, it sounds like someone at DC Comics or Warner Brothers, the studio that has dibs on all of DC’s properties (both companies are owned by Time-Warner), has had enough of this confusion too. Variety and the Hollywood Reporter say “a big shake-up” could be in the works, as the head honchos of both companies have been meeting recently “to discuss a new direction for film adaptations.”

Meanwhile, there has been some buzz over an interview that Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier gave in France, where he seemed to suggest that Warner had asked him if he would be interested in making the next Superman movie.

This comes only a week or so after comic-book writer Mark Millar said that he and a “very well known American action director” were pitching a Superman reboot to Warner. Is Leterrier, who is French but recently made the move to Hollywood (having just rebooted the Hulk franchise, he is now attached to Warner’s remake of Clash of the Titans), the “American action director” in question? Or is that a whole different round of discussions?

And is Warner still talking to Bryan Singer, as well?

Well, whatever is going on with that franchise, it’s probably safe to say no particular project will be greenlit until DC and Warner have come to some sort of agreement on their master plan.

Nostalgia for what year and decade, again?

One of the weirder trends these days is the one that has studios releasing DVDs of older films with CDs of music that came out during the same decade but otherwise have nothing to do with the movies in question.

As luck would have it, my first exposure to this trend came a few weeks ago when I saw the “Decades Collection” editions of The Graduate (1967), Fiddler on the Roof (1971; my comments) and When Harry Met Sally… (1989) at the local Superstore.

Now, apparently, there are lots of other films in this series too, but these particular films all happen to be famous for their music: The Graduate has a classic soundtrack by Simon & Garfunkel; Fiddler on the Roof was the longest-running Broadway musical of all time at that time; and the original soundtrack album for When Harry Met Sally… introduced Harry Connick Jr. to the world, featuring nothing but his covers of classic songs made famous by Sinatra etc.

But do the CDs that accompany these DVDs reflect any of this? Do they contain any music that is featured within the films themselves? No, no, of course not, no. Instead, each disc is a miscellanous grab bag of whatever was popular on the radio at some point in that decade; if memory serves, the songs included on each disc are not even necessarily tied to the specific year in which the film came out.

The “Decades Collection” is put out by MGM. And now, according to Lou Lumenick, Paramount is getting in on the act too, releasing new “I Love the ’80s” editions of Warren Beatty’s Reds (1981) and various other films, each of which will come with a CD that includes a-ha’s ‘Take On Me’, Echo & the Bunnymen’s ‘Lips Like Sugar’, INXS’s ‘Need You Tonight’ and Erasure’s ‘Chains Of Love’.

Note: all of these songs were originally released between 1984 and 1988, which in pop-culture terms is a whole different era from the one that produced films like Reds.

The decade thing becomes even more absurd when you consider titles like, well, Fiddler on the Roof and Reds, both of which may have been produced in my lifetime but take place at least partly before my 93-year-old grandmother was born — and in a foreign country where the American popular culture of that time might not have had that much of an impact to begin with.

Journey to the Center of the Earth — the review’s up!

My review of Journey to the Center of the Earth is now up at CT Movies.

The barbarians are storming the theatres.

The good news: The young generation that consumes all sorts of entertainment via iPods and the internet is doing more than anyone else to keep the big-screen experience alive. Rather than undermine the movie industry, these “third-screen” technologies are actually supporting it.

The bad news: Theatres are increasingly catering to this generation by creating “rowdier, text-friendly auditoriums” that encourage this generation to do all sorts of rude but increasingly common things like chatting and sending text messages while the movie is still in progress.

So says Metro Times Detroit, via Jeffrey Wells.

I am vaguely reminded of how, at the Wanted screening I attended a couple weeks back, a guy sitting across the aisle and a few rows down from me pulled out his cell phone and lit up its screen, and a security guard came up to him and asked him to turn it off. “But it’s silent,” the guy replied, as though that were the point. Never mind that the phosphorescent glow of his cell-phone screen was taking my eyes and many other people’s eyes off of the movie that we were all there supposedly to watch.

See also this recent comment by my CT Movies colleague Todd Hertz.

Same director. Similar costumes. Hmmm.

Jeffrey Wells ponders the similarities between the outfits worn by James Dean in Rebel without a Cause (1955) and by Jesus in King of Kings (1961), both of which were directed by Nicholas Ray.

Frakkin’ toasters.

For the serious Battlestar Galactica fan, a limited-edition toaster that “brands” your toast with an image of a Cylon. And it’s only $65. Sweet. Hat tip to Mark Verheiden.