Newsbites: CleanFlicks! Kong! Rambo! Trek!

Newsbites: CleanFlicks! Kong! Rambo! Trek! February 1, 2008

Here’s another batch to get you through the weekend.

1. Christianity Today reports that CleanFlicks, the firm that edits Hollywood movies to make them safe for families, has filed a $1 million lawsuit against Daniel Thompson, who was widely reported to be a co-owner of the company when he was caught in a sex scandal a few days ago. The company claims that Thompson has “harm[ed] the firm by illegally claiming a business relationship with the firm and infringing its trade name and trademarks.”

If this claim is accurate, it is curious that CleanFlicks did not sue Thompson for trademark infringement a few years ago, when he was being quoted alongside CEO Ray Lines as though he were a representative of the company in stories such as this one.

It is also kind of funny that a company which has, itself, been sued by the studios for infringing on their properties would now be suing someone else for infringing on its own trademarks.

2. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that Billy Mitchell, one of the two “co-stars” of the documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, has not seen the film itself but, based on what he has heard and read about it, he claims it leaves out some important facts in order to make him the “bad guy” of the story:

Challenger Wiebe, for example, “did not surpass my [Donkey Kong] score, contrary to what the movie would have you believe,” Mitchell said. He hasn’t spoken with Wiebe since the two met at Rickey’s, Mitchell’s Hollywood restaurant, in 2005.

But he said he bears Wiebe no ill will, and he maintains that they had more friendly interaction, both competitive and casual, than the filmmakers let on.

A parallel story in the same newspaper adds:

The dispute sets up Wiebe for a second, official run at the record, and presumably a face-to-face showdown with Mitchell. This is where Gordon has left out a bit of back story for the sake of the yarn. A viewer will get the distinct impression that these foes have never met until an on-camera encounter at an arcade-game warehouse in Pompano Beach. But according to Mitchell (see accompanying article), he and Wiebe actually did play Donkey Kong side by side at an earlier meeting in California.

That’s all very interesting, if true. But at the same time, there is no question that Mitchell behaves within the film in a way that is oddly defensive and arrogant and so on and so forth. He couldn’t have been such an effective “bad guy” within the film if he hadn’t actually played that part, to some degree — though as Sun-Sentinel writer Sean Piccoli notes, Mitchell isn’t really a bad guy, per se, he’s more like the Apollo Creed to Steve Wiebe’s Rocky Balboa.

3. Reuters reports that the government of Myanmar, AKA Burma, has banned the new Rambo movie. I can’t imagine why.

4. Speaking of Rambo, the British film Son of Rambow made a splash at Sundance over a year ago, and at one or two other festivals since then, but it hasn’t come to regular theatres yet. Why the delay? Legal matters, it turns out. Reports Variety:

After a year in legal limbo following its splashy $7.5 million acquisition by Paramount Vantage at Sundance ’07, “Son of Rambow” is finally ready for release.

Vantage has reached a compromise with StudioCanal in their tug of love over this quirky little British movie by writer/director Garth Jennings.

Vantage has sold certain U.K. rights to StudioCanal’s Optimum Releasing; and the French major has dropped its objections over the pic’s use of material from “Rambo: First Blood,” which it owns as part of the Carolco library.

Optimum, whose topper Will Clarke was after the movie from the start, will now send it out wide in early April. Vantage goes a month later in the U.S. with a platform release. Both hope it could be a leftfield Brit break-out in the vein of “Billy Elliot.”

It was a tough call for Vantage to give up the movie in its home territory — where it stands the greatest chance of success, and where its performance will set the bar for Par’s distribution in the rest of the world.

“Everything we did, we did because we love the movie and we want to get it out as soon as we can,” explains Vantage prexy Nick Meyer. . . .

5. Did yet another Star Trek XI actor let slip yet another spoiler? reports that Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov in the new movie, said something in a recent interview about “seeing the Klingon warships” during the special-effects shots. For a while now, it has been said that the villains — including a guy named Nero, played by Eric Bana — will be Romulans, but this is the first time anyone has said that there will be Klingons in this movie.

Just for the record, Klingons have made appearances in all but one of the previous Star Trek films, the single exception being Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) — although even there, footage of Klingon warships was used during the Kobayashi Maru test at the Academy, and Khan himself quoted a Klingon proverb.

So if the Klingons do make an appearance in this film too, it will be interesting to see whether they have the bumpy-skull look that all Klingons have had since the first movie came out in 1979, or — given the retro quality of the new film — if they will look more like the dark-skinned and sometimes-bearded humans that we saw in the original live-action and animated TV shows between 1966 and 1974. (Click here to see how a couple episodes of the TV series Enterprise tried to resolve this discrepancy in 2005.)

6. Variety notes that less and less newspapers, including the major ones, are keeping home-grown, full-time movie critics on staff.

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