NEW YORK — With Marvel's fiery motorcyclist topping the box office for a second week and countless other four-color flicks on the horizon, Hollywood's tinselly shadow was inescapable as tens of thousands of fans poured into Comic-Con's second appearance on the East Coast.
During the convention's three-day run, MTV News scoured the show floor for comic book insiders willing to chat about the industry's most anticipated movies. Here's what we learned about "Green Hornet," "Afro Samurai" and more of the fanboy faves.
"Green Hornet": So where does Kevin Smith stand with his heavily hyped "Hornet" adaptation? " 'Green Hornet' is dead," the director insisted, closing the case on the long-awaited comic flick (see " 'Clerks' DVD Inspires Kevin Smith To Write A Sequel"). Smith said the franchise was something he wanted to do for the "first 10 minutes," but that he quickly fell out of love with the idea. "If I'm going to [do] a big-budget movie," the director said, "I'd rather it be on something that I created and not somebody else's character." Instead, Smith is turning his attention to two projects that he'll write and direct: a comedy scheduled to shoot in '08 and a horror film he described as "unsettling and disturbing." Whether he can pull off a no-humor vehicle is a question that Smith doesn't even have an answer to. "I just think of myself as a guy who makes comedies," he said, "so it'd be interesting to test the filmmaker theory by making a movie that doesn't rely on comedy at all."
"Afro Samurai": Spike TV's popular hack-and-slash cartoon is getting the big-screen treatment. The show's creator, Gonzo Studios, is teaming with the production company behind "Batman Begins" to deliver a live-action adaptation in which Samuel L. Jackson will reprise his role as the lead character. The film will stay true to its hip-hop-heavy soundtrack, Gonzo exec Eric Calderon told MTV News, but it will keep its basis in samurai films, because "the original creator and Sam Jackson are samurai fans." The screenplay is currently being written.
"Wanted": The story of a loser who must become the world's greatest assassin after his father dies will be brought to life by the director of acclaimed Russian horror/fantasy trilogy "Night Watch," the screenwriter of "2 Fast 2 Furious" and rising acting star James McAvoy. Executive producer — and Top Cow Comics head — Marc Silvestri said the book's superhero elements probably won't make it to the film but that everyone is "thrilled" about the screenplay, which is in the polishing stage with a planned '08 release.
"The A-Team": Will Hollywood soon pity the fool? Top Cow's Silvestri — who holds claim to the TV show's movie rights — tells us that the underground mercenaries are still in the running for a potential big-screen franchise. "It's one of those situations where we've had more than a couple scripts written that just haven't nailed it yet," he said, promising "when the script comes in that everyone is happy with, then it'll be made."
"Witchblade": Silvestri also dished on his "Witchblade" property, revealing that the comic book and former television series is being developed as a feature film. He said Top Cow has reached out to writers and studios and that funding is already in place.
"The Darkness": One more for Top Cow's top dog: "The Darkness," a comic book that is being turned into a video game, will "absolutely" be made into a movie as well, Silvestri promised, mentioning that a script is currently being developed, and when the game hits shelves in May, "We're anticipating that [the film will] suddenly become fast-tracked."
"Y: The Last Man" and "Ex Machina": Comic writer extraordinaire and newly hired "Lost" story editor Brian K. Vaughan updated us on the status of his two optioned comic books. New Line is still seeking a director for "Y," Vaughan said, and he's currently working on script revisions. He's also working on the first draft of an "Ex" screenplay.
"The Spirit": Producer Michael Uslan, the man responsible for every Batman film since 1989, is bringing Will Eisner's "The Spirit" to theaters with "Sin City" scribe Frank Miller set to write and direct. The film will follow an ordinary, post-9/11 man who sets out to clean up the streets. "The Spirit is the ultimate middle-class superhero," Uslan said. "He doesn't have Bruce Wayne's wealth. He can't afford a Spiritmobile to get around, and the gadgets. He has to rely on his brains, his detective skills, his two fists, and he gets the crap kicked out of him often." Audiences should expect to see familiar faces. "We've been bombarded with calls from agents [who are] dying to get their star clients locked into a room with Frank Miller." Filming will begin this summer with a planned '08 release.
"Shazam" and "The Shadow": Also from Uslan is the long-anticipated "Shazam" film, which the producer said has made "tremendous progress." He also promised major announcements soon. Already attached to direct is Peter Segal ("Get Smart," "The Longest Yard"). Celebrated superhero franchise "The Shadow" is also getting the big-screen treatment with Sam Raimi co-producing. "It's going to be the Shadow as a force of nature the way the Shadow is meant to be," Uslan said.
"30 Days of Night": "Keep those lights on" is the moral of Steve Niles' acclaimed horror tale. The comic book film — which tells the story of an Alaskan town, in the dark for 30 days, that is held hostage by vampires — will be released October 19. Josh Hartnett and Melissa George will star in the thriller directed by "Hard Candy" helmer David Slade and produced by Raimi. Don't assume this is a run-of-the-mill vamp flick, though. "There's a lot of blood," Niles exclaimed. "These are not Anne Rice vampires with doilies around their necks. These vampires don't try to romance or try to hypnotize you. They attack and rip your throat out and then take your head off so you don't transform." Niles also said he has finished the screenplay for "Bigfoot," a comic he wrote with Rob Zombie and Richard Corbin, and he's currently writing the script for "The Lurkers" at Lionsgate, with Thomas Jane set to star.
"Rex Mundi": Arvid Nelson's Dark Horse book "Rex Mundi" was optioned by Warner Bros., which is currently developing the property with Johnny Depp's production company. There's a good chance that the quirky actor will also star as the lead: a doctor in search of missing church documents in a 1930s noir world in which the Catholic Church never lost power and the Inquisition still roams town. Nelson said a screenplay by the writer who adapted "Fight Club" should be finished soon. Will audiences be scared off by the story's religious angle? Nelson doesn't think so. "It would be a real mistake" not to make the movie controversial, he said.
"Talent": Not many comic books get optioned, and it's even rarer to have a five-studio bidding war after only the first issue. Universal won the battle over "Talent," a comic about the lone survivor of a plane crash who has acquired the memories and talents of everyone else onboard, along with the responsibility to fulfill their unfinished business. "Two or three of the biggest stars in Hollywood got in touch with Universal to say, 'What's this thing?' " co-creator Christopher Golden told MTV News. A screenwriter is currently working on a script.
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