Monday, January 28, 2008

Del Toro set to do "Hobbit" double-take

Before I get to what can only be called rather insanely good news, I have a question: Is there any way a baby being thrown to its death in a pit can be funny? Judging from the poster for "Meet the Spartans," at least, I have to assume someone thinks so, since the central image does indeed appear to be a woman with a shaved head (making her Britney, of course) being thrown into a pit with her newborn child. And this beat "Rambo" at the box office? Sheesh.

But I didn't bother seeing either of them, so enough of that. There's much better news in the world, starting with the fact that just about everyone's top choice (I would have taken Alfonso Cuaron too) has stepped forward and is about to sign on to direct two "Hobbit" movies for producer Peter Jackson.

With Jackson passing on the director's chair to focus on "The Lovely Bones" and then "Tintin," the honor is indeed about to go to Guillermo del Toro. The final piece of the puzzle will be to name a writer if and when the strike ends, after which both del Toro and Jackson will also be heavily involved in the writing.

And, of course, that means New Line and friends are set to shell out some mad cash to make this happen. The films, which will be shot simultaneously in 2009 for releases in 2010 and 2011, will have a combined budget of about $300 million.

The only question this doesn't resolve is why in the world do we need two movies? If I have this right (and, for once, I'm pretty sure I do), the first movie will tell the entire tale of Bilbo, Gandalf, the dwarves and Smaug. The second movie, which sounds much more iffy, will apparently attempt to fill the gap between the end of "The Hobbit" and the beginning of "The Lord of the Rings," which Tolkein would write 17 years later.

This just sounds like an extreme act of hubris, but I guess if they were really to pull it off and make something entertaining the accomplishment would be all the more remarkable. And, assuming this deal gets signed, I couldn't think of any more capable hands for it to be in.

More Miyazaki on the way (slowly)

It seems like the great Hayao Miyazaki has been working on his latest movie, "Ponyo" (or maybe "Ponyo on a Cliff"), for many years now, but an end is finally in sight.

According to Variety Japan, the release date in Japan has been set for the middle of July, most likely the 19th. It doesn't say when the usual English voice-over version will be ready, but hopefully fairly soon after that.

So, what in the world is "Ponyo" about? As far as I can tell, the plot centers on a goldfish princess named Ponyo who desperately wants to be a human. In pursuing her goal, she befriends a 5-year-old human boy, Sōsuke (based on Miyazaki's son, Goro, when he was 5.)

All I know beyond that so far is that the animation will be done in watercolor style, as the photo at left shows. More details are expected to spill out after the Tokyo Animation Fair at the end of March, so definitely stay tuned.

"Mad Men" back in business!

According to TV Guide, thanks to an interim deal between the WGA and Lionsgate, writers for AMC's "Mad Men" are now set to get started on scripts for season 2.

"This is excellent news for us," Rich Sommer (Harry) told TV Guide. "It means that on Monday the writers' room opens. It was supposed to open Nov. 7, and now it’s opening Jan. 28. It means we’re going to be back before anyone else."

Well, maybe not anyone else. At least 12 studios (including the Weinsteins and Marvel) have struck their own deals with the writers, which can only raise hopes that an overall deal will soon be in the works. Even if not, the fact that AMC's extremely smart and entertaining show is headed back to the airwaves can only be good news.

Who's the coolest chick in the world?

Although there's probably a much more polite way to put that, the answer at this point certainly has to be Marion Cotillard.

Not only is she, of course, nominated for an Oscar (for "La Vie en Rose," which I haven't had the pleasure of seeing yet), but now she gets to be John Dillinger's moll, Billie Frechette, in Michael Mann's "Public Enemies." Which of course means she'll be draped on the arm of Johnny Depp.

Mann has now pretty much assembled all the members of Dillinger's team. Channing Tatum will play Pretty Boy Floyd, Giovanni Ribisi will be Alvin Karpis, Stephen Dorff will play Homer Van Meter and Jason Clarke will be John "Red" Hamilton. Already announced as their chief pursuer will be Christian Bale as FBI man Melvin Purvis.

Finally, a superhero I can believe in

After this summer's "Wall-E," which is shaping up to be pretty cool itself, Pixar will release "Up" and unleash on the world the first (as far as I know) septuagenarian superhero. Since I almost always eat dinner before 5 p.m., I can certainly get inspired by this tentative tag line: "Our hero travels the globe, fights beasts and villains, and eats dinner at 3:30 in the afternoon." Here's a pic that's on display at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Fla. Enjoy, and have an entirely bearable Monday. Peace out.


kat said...

It's bizarre to me that there's been no season 1 DVD release yet for "Mad Men." You'd think they would have capitalized on their success at the Golden Globes and yet I don't see any mention of a release in the near future.

Needless to say, I'm stoked for season 2.

Reel Fanatic said...

I actually went to Amazon to find out about the same thing, even though I have them all on DVD thanks to the generosity of a very kind reader of this blog ... I couldn't even find a future release listed there .. I guess they're waiting for just before the beginning of season 2, but as you pointed out, it seems like a definite missed opportunity to pick up on the awards buzz

Mercurie said...

It is funny. My best friend and I walking out of Pan's Labyrinth agreed that Del Toro would be a good choice if Jackson couldn't or wouldn't do The Hobbit!

And I am glad to see Mad Men, although I wish they would get season one out on DVD....