Tron creator now developing Soul Code

Variety says Steven Lisberger, the writer-director of Tron (1982; my review), is now developing a movie called Soul Code:

Lisberger will direct the story of a tech pioneer who has perfected a way to download and transfer a person’s memory. Script examines what happens when her memory is placed into a much younger woman’s body. . . .

Lisberger met [Jessica] Chobot, a comely tech guru with a devoted following among the geek set, at a “Tron” screening and was quickly intrigued by her fresh femme take on a male-dominated arena. The two soon began hatching a story about the dangers of cyberspace from a distinctly female point of view.

“Jess is not a film person — she was a fan — and that was refreshing,” Lisberger said. “She wasn’t double-thinking what the audience wants; she was the audience.”

Lisberger, who has been involved with several post-”Tron” projects that never got off the ground, said this one “felt different from the get-go.” . . .

Lisberger has also become more jaded about cyberspace in the intervening years. He credits Chobot for re-energizing his creative muse, noting that he really didn’t have a project to which he felt a real connection until they cooked up “Soul Code.” This project, he said, is the type he wanted to explore 25 years ago, when he was developing “Tron.” . . .

As a fan of Tron, and as a fan of movies about memory and its ties to identity and spirituality, I am definitely intrigued.

Yet another movie not screened for critics?

I just saw an ad on TV for The Brothers Solomon, and it occurred to me that I have heard not a single peep anywhere about a screening for this film. Then I checked to see who had produced this film, and discovered that it is being distributed by Screen Gems, a studio with an established track record of foregoing press screenings. I’m guessing we can add this one to the list, then.

UPDATE: Apparently there is a preview screening tonight, though I am told the passes were sent out by courier late last week, and not by regular mail. I’m guessing the fact that I recently moved to a new, temporary address may be one reason why I didn’t get a pass myself. Ah well, I guess I’ll take this one off the list.

Perelman to re-write, direct Atlas Shrugged

Variety reports that Vadim Perelman, writer-director of House of Sand and Fog (2003), has been hired to direct Atlas Shrugged:

Perelman will work from a draft of the script penned by “Braveheart” scribe Randall Wallace, who managed to boil down the Rand manifesto of 1,100-plus pages into a 127-page script. The drama revolves around what happens when great industrialists and thinkers go on strike and the world grinds to a halt.

Wallace will remain involved, and in a recent meeting with Perelman, the pair traded Russian dialogue. Perelman was born in Kiev, while Wallace has picked up the language researching his Catherine the Great pic “The Mercenary”; Rand was born in Russia. Perelman has brought his own take that will be incorporated into Wallace’s script.

The filmmakers reportedly hope to start shooting the film in early 2008, with Angelina Jolie in the starring role.

Exodus premieres at Venice, sans Margate

The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw on The Margate Exodus, the title of which was apparently trimmed to simply Exodus before it premiered at the Venice International Film Festival this week:

I was intrigued, but perplexed by another British film, Penny Woolcock’s Exodus; it’s a dystopian fantasy that parallels the Biblical story of the same name. Some time in the future, a firebrand fascist leader called Pharaoh (Bernard Hill) leads Margate as a secessionist city-state, and herds all the undesirables into a fenced-off zone on the site of the old Dreamland funfair. Part shanty-town, part concentration camp, it’s a Sowetànamo of boiling resentment. Pharaoh’s son Moses (Daniel Percival) winds up living there, and finds himself destined to lead the people into the promised land. The casting of up-and-comer Claire-Hope Ashitey underlines a resemblance to Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men, though, frankly, without any very convincing or exciting story.

FWIW, the Times of London has an article on the non-actors who were hired to play many of the parts in this film.

Canadian box-office stats — September 2

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.

Mr. Bean’s Holiday — CDN $4,400,000 — N.AM $18,992,000 — 23.2%
The Nanny Diaries — CDN $1,750,000 — N.AM $15,262,000 — 11.5%
Superbad — CDN $9,860,000 — N.AM $89,335,000 — 11.0%
Stardust — CDN $3,420,000 — N.AM $31,092,000 — 11.0%

War — CDN $1,710,000 — N.AM $16,979,000 — 10.1%
The Bourne Ultimatum — CDN $20,010,000 — N.AM $199,734,000 — 10.0%
Death Sentence — CDN $389,253 — N.AM $4,225,000 — 9.2%

Rush Hour 3 — CDN $9,070,000 — N.AM $120,416,000 — 7.5%
Balls of Fury — CDN $991,850 — N.AM $14,307,000 — 6.9%
Halloween — CDN $1,290,000 — N.AM $26,462,000 — 4.9%

The Simpsons Movie vs. Pixar, redux.

Last month, I noted that The Simpsons Movie had grossed more in its opening weekend than any Pixar film — indeed, more than any animated film that was not a sequel to Shrek (2001) — so I figure it is only fair to post an update on that film’s situation.

Put simply, it looks like The Simpsons Movie will become the first movie ever to gross over $70 million in its opening weekend and not gross over $200 million before it leaves North American theatres. Pixar’s Ratatouille, on the other hand, crossed the $200 million line in North America just this past weekend.

Ah, but here’s where things get interesting. Jim Hill reports today that Ratatouille is still seen as an underperformer, at least by Pixar standards. It took the film 65 days to cross the $200 million line, whereas every other Pixar film since 1999′s Toy Story 2 did it in 44 days or less. And whereas every previous Pixar film, going back to 1995′s Toy Story, was in the Top 5 for its year, it looks like Ratatouille might not even make the Top 10 for 2007.

Add to this the fact that Ratatouille is said to have cost twice as much to make as The Simpsons Movie, as well as the fact that The Simpsons Movie has done much, much better overseas than Ratatouille has, and… well… perhaps The Simpsons Movie really is doing better than Pixar after all, at least with respect to Pixar’s current offerings. Worldwide, The Simpsons Movie has earned $469.4 million so far, whereas Ratatouille has earned $373.4 million, and last year’s Cars came to a halt at $462 million.

Make of all that whatever you will.