Newsbites: League! Franklyn! Dollar! Cleo!

Four quick news blurbs, all courtesy of Variety magazine.

1. George Miller — director of Happy Feet (2006), Babe: Pig in the City (1998), The Witches of Eastwick (1987) and the Mad Max trilogy (1979-1985) — will direct that upcoming Justice League movie. One slight complication is that the Batman franchise is currently going strong on its own with Chris Nolan and Christian Bale. The Superman franchise, on the other hand, seems to have been put on hold for now. The Justice League movie is also expected to feature Wonder Woman, the Flash and Aquaman.

2. Ryan Phillippe and Eva Green have joined the cast of Franklyn:

The pic is set in contemporary London and a future metropolis dominated by faith and weaves the tale of four lost souls divided by two parallel worlds on course for an explosive collision when a single bullet will decide all their fates.

It was said at one point that Ewan McGregor would star in the film, but his name does not come up anywhere in the Variety article.

3. Here is another story on the havoc that is being wreaked on the Canadian film industry by the falling American dollar:

Now there is no advantage to shooting in Canada in terms of exchange rate or tax credits, as many U.S. states and countries have similar or even more lucrative tax breaks.

“I think it’s a nightmare,” said Paul Bronfman, who runs the Toronto-based Comweb Group, one of the country’s leading production services and equipment rental companies. Comweb is also an investor in Filmport, the massive film studio being built in Toronto.

“I think it’s going to make it extremely difficult to attract more American work,” he added. “We have a lot of variety of locations but the bottomline is that the economics are getting skinnier and skinnier to shoot in Canada. Right now, we have to find new ways to attract business here.”

Canada is actually doing okay in terms of American shoots this year, but most believe that’s only because the studios are stockpiling pics in case there is labor strife in Hollywood next year.

4. Young Cleopatra begins shooting in Cairo in November. When I mentioned the film four months ago, it had a reported budget of $5 million; now, its reported budget is $3 million.

Canadian $ now as good as American $

If not better. This is a bummer, for me and many others.

So much for one Narnia movie per year.

Remember that promise the producers of the Narnia movies made to the fans at Comic-Con two months ago? (Okay, technically it wasn’t a promise, but still…) It’s off now, says Variety:

The third installment in Disney and Walden Media’s “The Chronicles of Narnia” franchise, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” will sail into theaters in 2010, rather than the previously announced 2009. . . .

“Dawn Treader” release has been delayed because the start of production has moved from January to summer, pushing the fantasy pic’s release to May 7, 2010.

Franchise’s producers had announced at Comic-Con this summer that auds could expect a “Narnia” installment each May as adaptations of each of the seven books in the series are produced.

But that plan proved too difficult to pull off.

Date shift comes in response to “the challenging schedules for our young actors,” Disney and Walden said, and will help avoid a potential conflict for the cast members between shooting the third pic and undertaking promotional activities for the second.

Zodiac — a visual effects sampler

The gritty, realistic Zodiac is easily one of my favorite films of the year so far, and I am stunned to see how much of it was CGI:

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Click here if the video file above doesn’t play properly.

Evan limps across the $100 million line.

I have mentioned a few times, here and elsewhere, that Evan Almighty was the only major sequel and — with the exception of Halloween, which opened on the Labour Day weekend — the only #1 movie last summer which failed to gross $100 million.

But that is now no longer true. This past Sunday, Evan Almighty crossed the century mark on the North American chart.

The film’s combined production and promotion budget was still at least double that, though. And studios typically get only about half the money that comes in at the box office; the rest stays with the movie theatres. And this film has done even less business overseas than it has in North America. So it’s still a flop.

Prince Caspian — the teaser poster

Cinematical posted the teaser poster for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian earlier today. The film comes out in eight months.