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Busiek Announces ASTRO CITY Feature


By Rob M. Worley     August 03, 2010
Source: Mania

Comics2Film: ASTRO CITY
© Mania

Kurt Busiek announces Astro City feature film development. Plus: Matt Wagner's Mage back in development. Vaughn has Inception nightmare over X-Men. Did The Sorcerer's Apprentice swipe from a comic?! It's your Comics2Film 10.8.3!





From a press release:

Actresses Indira Varma and Janet Montgomery are joining the cast of HUMAN TARGET when the series begins its second season Friday, Sept. 24 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

Varma will play ILSA PUCCI, a beautiful, sophisticated and recently widowed billionaire who seeks the help of CHRISTOPHER CHANCE (Mark Valley) after the mysterious murder of her philanthropist husband. Impressed with Chance's expertise, Ilsa offers to become his benefactor and a silent owner of his protection agency, allowing him and his partners, WINSTON (Chi McBride) and GUERRERO (Jackie Earle Haley), access to her unlimited resources, including her trust's vast bankroll, private planes, computer technology and connections to the world's most powerful and influential citizens.

Montgomery will recur as AMES, a gorgeous thief whose chameleon-like abilities allow her to blend into any situation. Winston, familiar with Ames from his days on the police force, offers her a job in an effort to help her get her life on the right track.

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art graduate Indira Varma is most familiar to American audiences as "Inspector Cate Pritchard" on BONES and as "Niobe" from the critically acclaimed historical drama series "Rome." She has also appeared on "Little Britain," "Torchwood," "3 lbs.," "The Whistleblowers," "Moses Jones" and "Luther." Her film credits include "Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love," "Canterbury Tales" and "Bride and Prejudice."

British-born actress Janet Montgomery can currently be seen in a recurring role as "Jennie" on the cable comedy series "Entourage." She will next be seen opposite Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis in director Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan," and she recently wrapped production on the feature comedy "My Idiot Brother" starring Paul Rudd and Zooey Deschanel.



Len Wein Says SWAMP THING Will Happen

Movieweb chatted up comics scribe Len Wein about the long-planned Swamp Thing movie. He'd written a script for the movie for producer Joel Silver years ago. Silver was quite high on the film late last year and projected a 2010 production start. More recently it was revealed that there are legal entanglements due to the previous round or live-action Swamp Thing movies and TV shows, which were produced in the 1980s and 90s.

"There is a rights problem which I don't understand because I'm not a lawyer," Wein told Movieweb. "We desperately want to make a new Swamp Thing  movie. I've written a screenplay, Joel Silver's gung-ho to make it, to do it right, big budget, CG, the whole dance. I know Akiva Goldsman wants to take my script and rewrite that and do something with it. We want to do a Swamp Thing movie. Once we can figure out the rights problem, we will."



Matt Wagner's MAGE Back in Development

Back in the early days of Comics2Film we were introduced to Matt Wagner's outstanding 1980s comics series Mage due to the fact that it was in development as a feature film. The folks behind that effort -- Ross Richie, Andrew Cosby and John Rogers -- went on to noteworthy successes as the founding of Boom! Studios and the launch of the TV shows Eureka and Leverage, but the movie never got off the ground in spite of its film-friendly premise.

Now, Variety reports that Watchmen producer Lloyd Levin has obtained the film rights to the series and aims to make it into a feature film.

The comic focuses on one Kevin Matchstick, and ordinary guy living in the big city who discovers he is a successor to the mythic figure of King Arthur. Armed with Excalibur (now in the form of a baseball bat), Matchstick goes on a quest to thwart the plans of the villainous Umbra Sprite.

Wagner's comic deftly blended fantasy elements with a modern urban setting in a "heroes journey" framework, and told a semi-biographical story of a man finding his place in the world.

Levin's development effort will likely start anew, although Cosby is still attached as a producer. No writer is currently attached to the project.

Here's hoping the project gets momentum because it's a great story that would work well on the big screen.




Producer Greg Berlanti is out promoting his new TV series, No Ordinary Family but also took the time to field some questions about the DC Comics movies that he's attached to. Collider.com provides the transcript.

"I’m still involved with The Flash. I’m a producer on it, and I’m working on the story with the same guys I did the Green Lantern script with," Berlanti said. When asked about a time line for that movie he replied, "We’re just getting into the script. We’re just starting the script, so that’s about where we’re at."

He had quite a bit more to say about Green Lantern which is obviously far along in the production process.

"It was a melding of a traditional superhero film on earth and a space opera," when asked about making that movie accessible to all audiences. "It was a melding of genres. I did it with two other guys who I’d worked with a lot in television. We’re all comic book fans and we all grew up wanting to have an opportunity like that, so we just started listing all the stuff we would want to see in a movie like that, and that was a large part of where the story came from."

He also compared the concept to another hit franchise.

"Hal Jordan has been called the Luke Skywalker of the DC Universe, so I think it does have comparisons to that."

Berlanti was asked about the green energy constructs Hal Jordan will create in the film and whether or not they all came directly from the comics.

"Everybody is down there, working away on really creative constructs and I think the film will be loaded for them. That was definitely a blast," he said. "When we were first writing it, we were a little timid about writing all of it into the script because we thought, 'How will that read? Will they think it’s too goofy?' So, in one of the initial drafts, we wrote a lot of, 'A ring blast,' or 'A shot from the ring.' We didn’t always get as detailed with it. And then, as we got later and later into drafts, and they could provide more artwork and really show people what the movie could be, we could be more explicit about what those things were without it coming off too goofy.

The writer/producer said he's seen some of the F/X work and calls it "a feast for the eyes. Martin Campbell is an amazing director, and it’s going to be a pretty incredible film."



Favreau and Wilde on COWBOYS & ALIENS

If you were recently on the set of Cowboys & Aliens then you may have seen a spectacular site that has nothing to do with wide-open western vistas or mind-blowing Hollywood F/X.

"We just finished shooting Olivia Wilde naked in front of a bonfire in front of 500 Apache warriors," actor Adam Beach told the Toronto Sun. "That was beautiful. You won't get to see what I saw, but you'll get a glimpse."

Wilde confirmed Beache's story for the paper.

Meanwhile, director Jon Favreau has resumed tweeting about the production, telling his followers:

  • Another great week shooting Cowboys and Aliens. I actually directed while stand up paddle boarding. It might've been a first.
  • Filmed a scene on Friday with Buck Taylor and his sons Matt and Cooper. Now it's a Western.
  • Back in the town of Absolution on the set of Cowboys and Aliens. This time no pyro.   




In 2006, Italian comics creator Giulio De Vita released a comic called Wisher. The comic never made it to English-speaking markets so we're not completely clear on the storyline or concept, but it appears to involve a young man who comes into alliance with a wish-granting Djinn.

The 2010 movie The Sorcerer's Apprentice involves a young man (Jay Baruchel) who comes into an alliance with a centuries old Sorcerer (Nicolas Cage).

While De Vita acknowledges that the two stories have distinct enough plots, he recently blogged that the movie is uncomfortably similar to his comics in terms of their visuals. His blog entry strongly insinuates that Disney's new movie borrows heavily from his comic.

The evidence is hard to refute. De Vita points to over a dozen points of similarity between the two works, and that's just using images from the film's trailer. One wonders if a thorough comparison of the complete movie and the complete comic series would yield more crossover.

A primary point of similarity is between the comic's antagonist and the film's, played by Alfred Molina. Both wear a bowler hat, a gray top coat and gloves, and carry a cane. Also similar are Nicolas cage's sorcerer and the mentor character from the comics.

Additionally, both works feature:

  • A scene where the protagonist is cornered in a public bathroom by the bad guy.
  • A scene where the protagonist is attacked on  a subway platform by the bad guy.
  • A building gargoyle brought to life.
  • A training scene which involves glowing magic circles on the floor.

Those are just a few of the similarities that De Vita points out. Most troublesome is the way the shots and camera angles from the movie seem to replicate the composition of the panels of the comic, even where very mundane elements are concerned (like a shot of the bulldog that appears in both stories).

Below are a few of the suspect entries, but click through to De Vita's blog for numerous additional illustrations.

The antagonist of WISHER and THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE are very similar looking


The mentor characters of WISHER and THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE are very similar looking


Similar elements between WISHER and SORCERER'S APPRENTICE






INCEPTION Prompts X-MEN Rewrites

Director Matthew Vaughn told the Hero Complex blog that he's been forced to rethink a portion of X-Men: First Class' script after seeing Christopher Nolan's current blockbuster Inception.

"I saw Inception, which I loved," Vaughn said Monday. "But my heart sank when I saw that a few of the ideas we had were up [on the screen]. So it's either leave it in and look as if you're copying or change things. We completely ripped out about 12 pages of the script and the storyboards."

The scenes apparently involved some psychic battling between Professor X (now played by James McAvoy) and another mutant taking place on the mental plane. The sequence would have involved "physics-bending imagery" similar to that seen in Inception.



Busiek Announces ASTRO CITY Movie

After years of resisting Hollywood's call to make a feature film of his beloved Astro City anthology comic, Kurt Busiek revealed this week on his blog that such a movie is now in development.

Busiek writes:

As I write this, I'm still getting over an enjoyable but exhausting San Diego Comicon. The big Astro City announcement there was that Working Title Films, who've made such terrific movies as O Brother Where Art Thou, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Billy Elliot, Shaun of the Dead and more, has optioned Astro City  and is developing it as a feature film. It's a long process, and we're right at the beginning of it—and it feels very strange to type that, considering how long ago this whole journey started.

It was in 2002 or maybe even earlier that a young screenwriter named Jonathan Alpers contacted me about turning Astro City into a movie. I told him what I'd told everyone else who'd called: I wasn't interested, I was happy to have the book remain a comic book as it was intended to be, and I had severe doubts that the series could successfully be translated into movie form at all.


Anyway, I told Jonathan that I wasn't interested, but unlike everyone else, he wouldn't go away.

Alpers persistence paid off. He eventually demonstrated to Busiek how the movie would work and introduced him to producer Ben Barenholtz of Miller's Crossing fame. Barenholtz finally convinced Busiek that the proposition could work and they began exploring the project. They looked at various formats including the go-to "HBO mini-series" as well as animation and, as Busiek puts it, "every other different way you can imagine to approach it."

Just as things started to look grim, with the ambitious Watchmen movie struggling at the box office, Barenholtz took the project to Working Title Films. Busiek met with the L.A. people for that company and everybody liked each other. Eventually they agreed to go forward together.

Busiek seems to be happy with the relationship and is directly involved with developing the story.

The people at Working Title are smart and visionary and their movies are built outward from character far more than from spectacle and action—which is one of the things we talked about at that meeting; I don't think anyone will mind if I let that slip—and I think that's just the right approach to Astro City. I'd been saying all along that what we needed was moviemakers who were great at character drama and emotion, and could add spectacle to the mix, as opposed to someone who was great at spectacle, and might not realize that character and drama were even necessary.

The next step is to work out what the story will be and how best to realize Astro City up on the big screen. And that falls to me, at least to begin with—I'm starting work on the initial treatment, and as I type this, am scheduled to have my first serious creative meetings on the matter next week.

For Busiek's complete account of the journey thus far as well as more musings on what an Astro City movie might eventually look like, click through for the complete post.

What do you think, Maniacs? Do you like ASTRO CITY as much as we do? Post your comments below...


Showing items 1 - 10 of 23
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8man 8/3/2010 8:10:25 AM

Wow!  That is come compelling evidence to support plagiarism, idea theft, rip-off, whatever you want to call it.  Can you spell L-A-W-S-U-I-T?  Way to go Disney.  Pay the man now and maybe he'll go away.

Watchmen worked.  Astro City can work.

msglover 8/3/2010 8:10:43 AM

KEEP Akiva Goldman AWAY FROM SWAMP THING.    KEEP HIM AWAY FROM ANYTHING RELATED TO COMICS.  He just ruined "Jonah Hex" and before that, he was the writer behind "BATMAN & ROBIN".

gauleyboy420 8/3/2010 8:21:51 AM

One thing I can't stand in these rip-off (plagarism) cases is BULLSHIT evidence. The first two photos, yeah I see some resemblance, but why not make your case stronger by NOT including a shot that couldn't even be considered close. REALLY!?? the shot of a hand holding a fairy, why include that? ONE, how f0ing common is it in a fantasy to hold a small creature. TWO , the movie hand is holding a dragon thingy, not a fairy. So why show that picture (original blogger, not you Rob)

It's rediculous and it weakens the argument for me. So you can't show a hand holding a small creature EVER, cause this guy drew a hand holding a fairy in some comic that no one ever read....

I'm not making excuses for Disney, but that shot is not relevant in this case.

It's as annoyoing as when two anime characters are compared, they all look the same anyway. And I'm not talking about legit rip-offs, just there were a few comparisons in the Bleach case (which I do think ws ripped off by Simmons) that were baloney.  Seriously search your feelings ... some of the comparisons were of big eyed anime drawings... thats how they all look

Wyldstaar 8/3/2010 8:53:59 AM

I'm with gauleyboy on this one.  I could rip this so-called evidence apart with no more than a few hours research.  I bet I could find at least a dozen examples on film of a fairy lying in the palm of somone's hand, attacks in public bathrooms or subway stations, gargoyles coming to life (wasn't the Gargoyles cartoon made by Disney?)  Glowing magic circles on the floor are a standard visual effect for any fantasy story involving mysticism.  Any halfway decent attorney could utterly destroy such a complaint, and I'm quite certain that Disney has plenty of lawyers on staff for just this sort of problem.  If Giulio De Vita wants to bankrupt himself on legal fees trying to beat Disney in a legal battle he doesn't even deserve to win, that's his business.

Tevii 8/3/2010 9:24:16 AM

Wow... Disney rip something off.... NEVER.......... Lion King wasnt a blatant rip-off of Leo the Lion... and Atlantis wasnt a blatant rip-off of Stargate (even though it was suppose to be an adaptation of the Jules Verne novel)Disney built an empire on theft.

CANT WAIT FOR GREEN LANTERN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111



Darkknight2280 8/3/2010 9:33:44 AM

Very Classy and smart of Mathew Vaughn to remove that scene... Cause i know some fan boys (some that comment here on mania.com) would totally blast him for using a similar scene saying he stole form the great Chris Nolan. Good way of avoiding the arguments all together. So far i have alot of confidence in Vaughn..However its still a FOX Marvel movie.


Calibur454 8/3/2010 9:51:05 AM

I dont care who directs swamp thing just use a really good alan moore story for the plot and it will do fine.

Mage- Didn't Wagner do the comic book GRENDEL as well. I'd rather see that one made into a movie. I may be wrong about that one though I cant remember its been so long.

the flash movie-  I hope it is better than the tv series that was done (live action)

Astro City- could go either way

jfdavis 8/3/2010 9:55:11 AM

I agree aside from the villian costuming thing, most of this is common to everything of the genre.  And yes, Gargoyles is a Disney property.  I never noticed the similarities between the Disney Atlantis movie and Stargate. That's how not a big deal it was...

Same argument can be applied to Vaughn changing scenes in X-men because of Inception.  You'll have at least 3 telepaths in the movie. Of course there wil be psychic plane scenes.  But if you want to pussyfoot around it, why not? 

So Berlanti is invloved with the No Ordinary Family series? That sounds even more promising...  

Tevii 8/3/2010 10:08:21 AM

@jfdavis...  didnt notice the similarities.... BLATANT rip off - here - .... rip-offornot.com/SGATL0003.php

And what does having a Gargoyles cartoon have to do with anything. they didnt create or invent gargoyles

violator14 8/3/2010 1:14:25 PM

I really dont think it's necessary to fix the script for Xmen just cuz of Inception. Not that big a deal imo. Prof X and the mental plane existed LOOONG before Inception came out and shouldn't be written out cuz the director is being a pu$$y! This does not give me alot of confidence... but  *crossing fingers*

Dying to see some GL footage dammit!!!

Btw... saw Iron Man2 again..... definitely a lot better the 2nd time around. RDJ rules!!


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