Tagged: First Class

Divergent Blu-ray Release Scores August 5 Release Date

0612176BTr1SANTA MONICA, CA (May 20, 2014) – Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), the premier next generation global content leader, will release the electrifying first installment of t
he blockbuster action adventure franchise Divergent on Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital), Video on Demand and Pay-Per-View on August 5, the Company announced today. The film will be available on Digital HD two weeks early on July 22.

A new trailer for the home video release was also announced.

Based on Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times best-selling book series which has sold nearly 22 million copies worldwide, the film features an all-star cast including Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Academy Award® winner Kate Winslet and Ashley Judd. To date,

Divergent has grossed nearly $150 million at the domestic box office and more than $250 million worldwide in its theatrical release on Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment label, getting the new franchise off to a fast start.  The next three installments — Insurgent and Allegiant Parts 1 & 2 — will be released theatrically on March 20, 2015, March 18, 2016 and March 24, 2017, respectively.

There is a new clip, “Bringing Divergent to Life”, that’s worth a look.

Packed with bonus material, the Blu-ray Combo Pack includes the documentary “Bringing Divergent to Life,” an in-depth look at the making of the film plus the exclusive featurette “Faction Before Blood,” detailing the film’s future world. The Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD both feature deleted scenes and two audio commentaries – one with director Neil Burger and one with producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher. The Divergent Blu-ray Combo Pack will be available for the suggested retail price of $39.99 and the DVD for $29.95. 

Divergent stars Shailene Woodley (upcoming The Fault in Our Stars), Theo James (Underworld: Awakening), Ashley Judd (Double Jeopardy), Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard), Ray Stevenson (Thor), Zoё Kravitz (X-Men: First Class), Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now), Tony Goldwyn (TV’s Scandal), Ansel Elgort (upcoming The Fault in Our Stars), Maggie Q (TV’s Nikita), Mekhi Phifer (Torchwood) and Academy Award® winner Kate Winslet (Best Actress, The Reader,2008). The film is directed by Neil Burger (The Illusionist, Limitless) from a screenplay by Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsman) and Vanessa Taylor (HBO’s Game of Thrones).

Divergent is a thrilling action adventure set in a future world where society has been divided into five distinct factions. But Tris will never fit into any one group-she is Divergent, and what makes her different makes her dangerous. Targeted by a faction leader determined to eliminate all Divergents, Tris turns to the one person she believes she can trust: Four, an instructor for the militant Dauntless faction, and a man full of dark secrets. Together, Tris and Four uncover a mind-bending conspiracy that will put their courage to the ultimate test…and forever link their destinies.

BLU-RAY COMBO PACK SPECIAL FEATURES*

  • “Bringing Divergent to Life” Documentary
  • “Faction Before Blood” Featurette
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Audio Commentary with Director Neil Burger
  • Audio Commentary with Producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher

*Subject to change

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES*

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Audio Commentary with Director Neil Burger
  • Audio Commentary with Producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher

*Subject to change

PROGRAM INFORMATION

Street Date: August 5, 2014
Price: $39.99 Blu-ray / $29.95 DVD
Title Copyright: Divergent © 2014, Artwork & Supplementary Materials ™ & © 2014 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All Rights Reserved
Rating: PG-13 for Intense Violence and Action, Thematic Elements and Some Sensuality
Feature Run Time: 139 Minutes
Type: Theatrical Release
Genre: Action/Adventure
Closed Captioned: NA
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish
Blu-ray Format: 1080P High Definition 16×9 Widescreen (2.40:1)
DVD Format: 16×9 Widescreen (2.40:1)
Blu-ray Audio Status: English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Optimized for Late-Night Listening and English Descriptive Audio
DVD Audio Status: English and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio

Watch the “X-Men: Days Of Future Past” trailer now

The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-Men: Days Of Future Past. The beloved characters from the original “X-Men” film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from X-Men: First Class, in an epic battle that must change the past — to save our future.

Based on the classic story from Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Terry Austin, the movie stars (deeeep breath) Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Ellen Page, Daniel Cudmore, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Lucas Till, Peter Dinklage, Omar Sy, Booboo Stewart, Fan Bingbing, Adan Canto, Evan Peters and Josh Helman. Written by Simon Kinberg from a story by Kinberg, Matthew Vaughn, and Jane Goldman, and directed by Bryan Singer, X-Men: Days Of Future Past is due in theaters May 23, 2014.

Live-Action Cinderella Begins Shooting

CINDERELLABurbank, Calif. (September 23, 2013)—Walt Disney Pictures announced today that principal photography has begun at Pinewood Studios in London, on Cinderella, Disney’s first-ever live action feature inspired by the classic fairy tale.

Directed by Academy Award®-nominee Kenneth Branagh (Jack Ryan, Thor), the film stars Lily James (Downton Abbey, Wrath of the Titans) in the title role, Richard Madden (Game of Thrones, Birdsong) as the Prince, Oscar®-winner Cate Blanchett (The Aviator) as the infamous stepmother Lady Tremaine, and Academy Award-nominee Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech, Alice in Wonderland) as the Fairy Godmother. Holliday Grainger (Great Expectations, Anna Karenina) and Sophie McShera (Downton Abbey, Waterloo Road) play Ella’s stepsisters Anastasia and Drisella, respectively. Stellan Skarsgård (The Avengers, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Nonso Anozie (Game of Thrones, The Grey) play the Arch Grand Duke and the Prince’s loyal friend, the Captain. Tony® Award-winner Derek Jacobi portrays the King.

Cinderella is produced by Simon Kinberg (X-Men: First Class, Elysium), Allison Shearmur (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), David Barron (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Jack Ryan), from a screenplay by Chris Weitz (About a Boy, The Golden Compass).

The filmmaking team includes three-time Academy Award-winning production designer Dante Ferretti (The Aviator, Hugo, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), three-time Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell (The Aviator, The Young Victoria, Shakespeare in Love), director of photography Haris Zambarloukos (Sleuth, Thor) and Academy Award-winning editor Martin Walsh (Chicago, Clash of the Titans).

The timeless story of Cinderella dates back to 1697 when first created by Charles Perrault, although it truly came to life for millions all over the world in 1950 with Walt Disney’s celebrated animated feature.

Director Kenneth Branagh says: “It is impossible to think of Cinderella without thinking of Disney and the timeless images we’ve all grown up watching. And those classic moments are irresistible to a filmmaker. With Lily James we have found our perfect Cinderella. She combines knockout beauty with intelligence, wit, fun and physical grace. Her Prince is being played by Richard Madden, a young actor with incredible power and charisma. He is funny, smart and sexy and a great match for Cinderella.

The story of Cinderella follows the fortunes of young Ella whose merchant father remarries following the tragic death of her mother. Keen to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new stepmother Lady Tremaine and her daughters Anastasia and Drisella into the family home. But, when Ella’s father suddenly and unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family. Finally relegated to nothing more than a servant girl covered in ashes, and spitefully renamed Cinderella, Ella could easily begin to lose hope. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella is determined to honor her mother’s dying words and to “have courage and be kind.” She will not give in to despair nor despise those who abuse her. And then there is the dashing stranger she meets in the woods. Unaware that he is really a prince, not merely an employee at the Palace, Ella finally feels she has met a kindred soul. It appears as if her fortunes may be about to change when the Palace sends out an open invitation for all maidens to attend a ball, raising Ella’s hopes of once again encountering the charming “Kit.” Alas, her stepmother forbids her to attend and callously rips apart her dress. But, as in all good fairy tales, help is at hand as a kindly beggar woman steps forward and, armed with a pumpkin and a few mice, changes Cinderella’s life forever.

Production on Cinderella will take place at Pinewood Studios and locations throughout England.

Cinderella will be released through Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures on March 13, 2015.

Win a Copy of Trance!

TranceDanny Boyle’s Trance is now available on DigitalHD and will debut on Blu-ray add DVD July 23. To celebrate, we have 1 copy of the disc to giveaway to a lucky reader.

Trance brings us tons of twists and turns in the plot as multiple layers of backstabbing occur.  Movies with unexpected turns have become a favorite of audiences. It’s a difficult task to make sure that the twist is unpredictable, but when it is done correctly, double-cross heist films make great additions to movie history. Here, we lay out some of our favorite twisty-turny heist films.

From Academy Award-Winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) comes an “exhilarating brain-twister” (New York Post)! After a blow to the head during his attempted robbery of a $27 million Goya painting, Simon (James McAvoy, X-Men: First Class), a fine-art auctioneer, awakens to find that the painting – and his memory – are missing. Forced by his ruthless crime partner Franck (Vincent Cassel, Black Swan) to undergo hypnosis, Simon enters into a deadly love triangle with his seductive hypnotist (Rosario Dawson, Sin City). As the plot twists, the line between reality and dream becomes blurred in this fast-paced, unpredictable, “sexy and suspenseful” (Empire) thriller.

Heat

HeatA series of unexpected changes puts the police close on the trail of Neil McCauley and his crew as they plan yet another bank robbery. After a brutal beating to the crew, only a few are left to carry out the plan. McCauley goes through a lot of difficulties and even develops a mutual understanding with Lieutenant Hanna. In the end, this heist may prove to be too difficult and could be the last string for the crew.

The Bank Job

The Bank JobTerry, Kevin, Dave, Bambas, and Guy thought they had it made when they were given the chance to rob a London bank for millions. The job seemed simple enough for the crew, who made plans to dig a tunnel and empty the bank’s safety deposit boxes. Things got a little more complicated once they realized one of the boxes held scandalous photos of British Royalty, Princess Margaret.  Through a series of twists and turns, members of the crew were tracked down and only a few made it out alive.

Training Day

training_day-300x210Jake Hoyt had no idea what he was getting himself into when he started his first day of work as a narcotics officer.  His new partner, Detective Alonzo Harris, has planned to steal millions of dollars from a drug dealer and save himself from the Russian Mafia. Alonzo may have surprised the audience with his scheming, but in the end a plot twist leaves the money in the hands of Jake.

The Score

The ScoreBack from retirement, Nick Wells plans to steal a scepter and complete one final heist. He teams up with another robber, Jack Teller to complete his plan. It turns out that Jack and Nick do not make such a great team. Both the robbers become selfish and want the scepter for themselves. In the end, Nick has much more experience and is one step ahead of his partner in crime.

After The Sunset

After the SunsetMax Burdett and his wife Lola promised to retire from the business forever and moved to a tropical island.  An FBI agent who had been trying to convict the couple for years followed them to the island, but unknowingly became friends with the retirees.  When a cruise ship with a large diamond is scheduled to visit the same island, the stone is taken by a well-planned heist. In the end, the diamond ends up in the hands of the person who is least expected after a few series of back-stabbing situations.

The Trance Blu-ray offers up the following  Special Features:

BD Exclusive Features

●    Theatrical Feature Blu-ray

●    Deleted Scenes
●    Trance Unraveled (Easter Egg)
●    The Power of Suggestion-Making Trance
●    Kick Off
●    Danny’s Film Noir
●    Hypnotherapy
●    The Look
●    The Final Rewrite
●    Danny Boyle Retrospective
●    Short Film: EUGENE by Spencer Susser
●    Theatrical Trailer
●    UV Copy

DVD Exclusive Features

●    Theatrical Feature
●    Hypnotherapy
●    The Look
●    The Power of Suggestion-Making Trance
●    The Final Rewrite
●    Theatrical Trailer

To win, tell us which feature film James Marsden has not appeared in:

  • Enchanted
  • Superman Returns
  • Looper
  • Hairspray

You must have your answer submitted no later than 11:59 p.m., Sunday, July 6. The decision of ComicMix will be final.

Emily S. Whitten: Cleolinda Jones – Comic Book Movies in 15 Minutes

You don’t have to be born with a comic book in your hand to be a fan. As I’ve mentioned, my early exposure to comics was mostly in the form of movies and TV. These days, I read comics too; but I know a lot of fans who’ve primarily discovered comics through the movies, and often stay mostly with that medium.

Some of those people take that movie fandom and turn it into something awesome. One such is Cleolinda Jones, prolific blogger and author of numerous hilarious movie parodies called Movies in 15 Minutes (there’s also a book). Although one thing she’s known for is being the Internet’s top Twilight snarker, she also writes really interesting discussions of comic book movies.

Recently, there’s been a flurry of talk about who gets to be a geek, and I agree completely with John Scalzi’s assessment that anyone who shares a love of geeky things is just as much of a geek as anyone else, and that we can all come at our love of pop culture and fandoms from very different backgrounds and tastes. Given all that, I thought it might be fun to get the perspective of an awesome female author and blogger who’s so known in pop culture and geek circles that people have actually written articles studying her blogging habits  and who clearly fits into comic book fandom but doesn’t come at it from the usual angle of reading comics. Also Cleolinda is just awesome and fun to interview! So here we go!

What kind of exposure have you had to comics generally – as a reader, a viewer, etc.?

Um… there were some tiny comics that came with my She-Ra dolls? I remember walking past racks and racks of comics at the grocery store every weekend and being really intrigued, but I was a very quiet, bookish child, and didn’t even bother asking my mother if I could have one. When I was in my 20s, I started picking up graphic novels based on which movies I had become interested in, and Watchmen on its general reputation.

How did you get into comics movies, and what was the first one you watched (as a child, and/or in the modern resurgence of comics movies)?

I think it says a lot about the genre that I don’t think of them as “comics” movies – I think of them as superhero movies and thrillers and action movies and whatever genre the actual story happens to be. I mean, technically, you could say that The Dark Knight and Wanted and From Hell and 300 are all “comics movies,” but if you say “comics,” I’m generally going to think “superheroes.” And those are such a box-office staple that it’s hard to think of them as something you get into, you know? They’re just there, and everyone goes to see them, and there are so many of them that some of them are awesome and some of them aren’t.

The first superhero movie, certainly, that I remember was Tim Burton’s Batman in the summer of 1989. I was probably ten or eleven at the time, and didn’t actually see it until it was on HBO a year or so later, but I remember that it was a big damn deal at the time. That black and yellow logo was everywhere, as were the dulcet purple strains of “Batdance.” Maybe it’s the Tim Burton sensibility that really got me into Batman movies initially; Batman Returns is pretty much my favorite Christmas movie ever, shut up. I just straight-up refused to see the Schumachers at all.  But I’m a Christopher Nolan fangirl, so that got me back in. Which may be the roundabout answer to the question: I get into these movies depending on who’s making them and/or who’s playing the characters. Nothing I read or saw about Green Lantern really attracted me from a filmmaking point of view (well, I love what Martin Campbell did with Casino Royale, there is that), so, in a summer crowded with movies, I didn’t go see it. And, you know, I’ve had Green Lantern fans tell me they really enjoyed it; that’s just the kind of choice you end up making with the time and money you have when you’re more interested in movies as a medium than comics.

What are your thoughts on the accessibility of comics movies, as someone who doesn’t primarily read comics? Are there any you found incomprehensible or confusing because you didn’t know the source material? Which do you think has been most successful as an adaptation for non-comics-reading viewers?

Well, despite my lack of comics-reading background, I usually hit up Wikipedia to get a vague idea of what happened in the original storyline. So the moment I heard that Bane was the TDKR villain, I went and looked it up and immediately wailed, “Noooooo I don’t want to see Bane [SPOILER SPOILER’S SPOILERRRRR]!” Because I keep up with movie news very closely, I knew when Marion Cotillard was cast that she would probably be [SPOILER]. And then, of course, they mixed it up a little anyway.

I guess The Avengers could have been confusing – which was something I lampshaded a little in the Fifteen Minutes I did for it, the umpteen previously on bits. But I felt like they explained it fairly well as they went. I had randomly seen Captain America (“It’s hot. Which movie you wanna see?” “Uh… that one? Sure”), so I knew the Tesseract back story, but I didn’t see Thor until two weeks after I saw The Avengers. But pop cultural osmosis plus the explanations in the movie meant that I understood the Loki business just fine; all seeing Thor did was give me more specific punchlines. (I do think that humor relies on knowing what you’re talking about, so I usually do a little research after I’ve seen something when I’m going to write it up.) Really, though, it’s hard to say. I’m usually aware enough of the movie’s background by the time I see it that I’m not confused. I mean, I’m already aware that Iron Man 3 is using the Extremis storyline, and there’s some kind of nanotech involved, and an Iron Patriot? Something – not enough to be spoiled, per se, but enough to have a frame of reference going in.

Just going by the numbers, it seems that The Dark Knight and The Avengers have been incredibly successful adaptations – and I don’t even mean in terms of money, but in terms of how many people flocked to those movies, saw them, enjoyed them, and were willing to see them again. You don’t make a billion dollars without repeat viewings. And that indicates to me that these movies were rewarding experiences for people, rather than frustrating or confusing (the Joker’s Xanatos gambits aside). And I think familiarity helped in both cases, though through different means. The Joker is obviously the most iconic Batman villain; in fact, The Dark Knight actually skips the slightest whiff of genuine back story there, instead showing the Joker as a sort of elemental chaos, almost a trickster god who comes out of nowhere and then, as far we viewers are concerned, vanishes. There’s no background for non-readers to catch up on; the TDK Joker is completely self-contained. Whereas Marvel’s approach with The Avengers was to get the public familiarized with the characters, very painstakingly, with this series of movies that built up Iron Man as the popular backbone, and then filled in the others around him, either in their own headlining movies or as supporting characters in someone else’s. One movie started out with very recognizable characters, and the other endeavored to make the characters recognizable by the time it came out.

Have you read a comic because you saw a movie about it? Or, have you read a comic because you were going to see a movie about it? How did that change your movie viewing and fan experience?

I got interested in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and read the trade paperback a few weeks before it came out – and then hated the movie. And you know, I think I would have actually enjoyed the silliness of it if I hadn’t “known better,” so to speak, so if it’s not already too late, I try to hold off on reading a book until after I’ve seen the movie. I did read Watchmen first – and did enjoy the movie. I think those are the only ones I’ve read beforehand, though. I did go pick up From Hell and a Sin City set, and I bought the second LXG series in single issues as well; I keep meaning to get V for Vendetta. I’ve never picked up a superhero comic. I just look at the vast history of Marvel and DC and think, where would I even start? (How could I even afford it? Do they have comics in libraries?) I’ve never even read the Sandman series, and that’s supposedly the traditional gateway drug for geek girls.

You write hilarious parodies about all sorts of movies; and the recent The Avengers in 15 Minutes is no exception. Can you talk a little about what it’s like writing the parodies (including how you started and your experience with that generally), and whether it’s any different for comics vs. other movies? Was there anything unique about writing The Avengers one?

Well, the short version is that I came home from Van Helsing (2004) and started writing a script-format bit on a whim; I thought it was just going to be one scene plunked into a Livejournal entry, but it took on a life of its own. I published a book of ten print-only parodies in 2005 with Gollancz; the original Spider-Man (2002) is in there, but there’s also fantasy, sci-fi, overly serious historical epic, etc., spread pretty evenly throughout. Looking back, I think The Avengers is the only other superhero movie I’ve done; 300, V for Vendetta, and Wanted might count generally. It helps for the movie to have some sense of silliness, or at the very least absurdity or over-seriousness. If nothing else, there’s something humorous about movies as a medium – the tropes they run on, the expectations, the necessary coincidences, the mundane things they conveniently skip, the way that this stuff just would not work in real life. And you can point this out and have fun with it without saying, “And that’s why this is a terrible movie.”

The real difference with the Avengers movie – the material it provided – was that it had all of these background movies leading up to it. So you immediately have more opportunities for cross-referencing and in-jokes, in addition to a running “previously on” setup. There were few comics-only jokes (although I did enough research to mention the Wasp and Ant-Man), because the movies themselves were plenty to deal with. Whereas the various Harry Potter in Fifteen Minutes writeups I’ve done played more on the “This Scene Was Cut for Time” idea, referencing the books and the plot holes incurred by leaving things out – what wasn’t there.

If anything, The Avengers was incredibly hard to do not because it was good, but because it was self-aware. I mean, I did Lord of the Rings, a trilogy I love, for the book, but I consider what I do to be “affectionate snark,” and… that’s kind of already built into The Avengers. So, while a gloriously absurd movie like Prometheus took four days and all I really had to do was describe exactly what happens, The Avengers took six weeks.

What’s your favorite comics storyline and/or character?

I seem to be drawn to characters who have just had enough and start wrecking shit. I think I’m so drawn to Batman not because I want to be rescued by him, but because I want to be him. I discussed last week how the Omnipotent Vigilante just can’t work in real life – but it works as a fantasy. Because every time I hear about something horrible on the news, or even just someone on the internet being a complete and utter asshole, I wish I could go be Batman and show up in the dark and scare the fear of God back into people (“Swear To Me!!!! 11!!”). Also, I didn’t really grow up with the more light-hearted TV version(s) of Catwoman; my frame of reference is Michelle Pfeiffer. And that’s a Catwoman whose story arc is almost a “vengeful ghost” story. She has been wronged, and now she’s back, and you are going to pay (maybe for great justice, maybe not). Whereas the Anne Hathaway Catwoman, while a really interesting character, is more about Selina wavering between conscience and self interest, not vengeance. And maybe that’s closer to the “cat burglar” origin of the character – which, again, speaks to how meeting these characters through movies may mean that you have a very different experience from a comics reader.

And then you have someone like Wolverine – I think my favorite scene in the entire series is in the second movie, where he ends up having to defend the school pretty much entirely by himself. You wish you could be that badass, in defense of yourself or someone (everyone) else. This also may be why I saw X-Men: First Class and kind of wanted an entire Magneto Hunts Nazis movie – and maybe why Magneto, even as an antagonist, is so compelling in the Bryan Singer movies. The X-Men universe has some genuinely interesting moral ambiguities, you know? Gandalf has a few legitimate grievances and now he is tired of your shit. *CAR FLIP*

Also, I have a little bit of grey hair at my temple that I wish would grow into a Rogue streak.

Marvel, DC, or neither?

You know, as much as I love Batman, I tend to be more interested in Marvel characters as a whole; not sure what’s up with that. Actually, it may be that Marvel has been so much more pro-active about getting movies made and characters out there; I like about three of the X-Men movies a lot, the first two Spider-Man movies are good (the reboot was good except for the feeling that half the story got chopped out, I thought), and now the Avengers-based movies are turning out really well. There’s just more to chose from on the Marvel side at this point.

Do you have more of a desire to pick up paper (or digital) comics to read after seeing a comics movie? Or do you prefer sticking with the movies?

I seem to be more interested in reading stand-alone stories, which is probably why I picked up Alan Moore books pretty quickly. Even if it’s a somewhat self-contained Marvel/DC storyline, it’s like… do I need to have read twenty years of story before this? Can I just walk in and start reading this, or am I missing volumes and volumes of context? And then, if I get really into this, are they just going to reboot the universe and wipe all of this out? And then you have to figure out what the movie was based on in the first place. I might be interested in reading the comics a particular movie is based on – but then you say, well, The Dark Knight Rises was inspired by ten different comics. If you put all that into a boxed set with a big The Dark Knight Rises Collection plastered across it, I would be more likely to buy that than if you shoved me into a comics store (complete with disdainful clerk) and said, “There Is The Batman Section, Chew Your Own Way Out.” The decades of stories and do-overs and reboots, the sheer flexibility and weight and history, are what appeal to a lot of comics readers, I guess, but they’re exactly what bewilder movie viewers, leaving them no idea where to start.

 

What comics movie are you most looking forward to in the near future; and is there a comic book story or character you’d like to see a movie about who doesn’t have one yet?

I’m curious to see how Man of Steel turns out, even though Superman has never done that much for me as a character. (That said, I always talk about “going into the Fortress of Solitude” when I try to seriously get some work done.) I once heard that Metropolis and Gotham are, metaphorically, the same city – one by day and the other by night – and I don’t know that there would be enough sunlight in a “gritty” Superman reboot, if that makes any sense. And I was just fascinated by the idea of Darren Aronofsky doing The Wolverine, of all things, but it looks like James Mangold is directing that now. And, you know, in checking on that, I see “based on the 1982 limited series Wolverine by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller.” I see the words “limited series” and “trade paperback rated Must Have” and I think, okay, maybe this is something I have a chance of catching up on first.

I would really, really like to see a Black Widow movie, at this point. As much as I liked Anne Hathaway’s Selina, I wonder if a character that arch doesn’t work better in small doses. I mean, I’d still like to see them try a spinoff movie, but somehow, I think Black Widow might work out better. Everyone’s remarked on how great a year it’s been for people actually going to see movies with active heroines – Katniss, Merida, Selina, Natasha, even warrior princess Snow White – and I’m hoping that idea sticks. I know that the comics industry in general has a problem both in writing about and marketing to women. Maybe movies can lead the way on that.

Thanks for a fascinating perspective on your comics (and movie) fandom, Cleo!

If you haven’t done so, check out Cleo’s comics thoughts and parodies and, until next time:

Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis and the Death of Batman

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold Goes To A Party!

DOC WILDE RETURNS!

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Return of Doc Wilde!!!

 

In a young adult book market crowded with the depressing and the dour, Tim Byrd’s Doc Wilde swings in on a jungle vine to raise the flag high for adventure. Infused with pace, fun, and all the two-fisted action a reader could ask for, Wilde lovingly riffs on situations straight out of the old pulps, even while making them fresh for a new generation.
— Zack Stentz, screenwriter, ThorX-Men: First Class

In 2009, Penguin/Putnam released my book Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, an adventure novel for all ages, my homage to the great pulp adventure stories of the thirties and forties. I conceived it as the first of a series, but Putnam waited to see how it was received before committing to more books.
The reviews were great, and the sales very good. As a result, Putnam asked for two more books. But, as regular readers of this blog know, I went through some rough times that delayed completion of the second book, and in the time since Frogs was released there has been a great deal of change in publishing. Thanks to digital distribution, the rapid rise of ebooks, and print on demand, the options for authors are much better than they used to be.
So, today, I’m excited to announce that Doc Wilde is going indy.

Written in fast-paced, intelligent prose laced with humor and literary allusions ranging from Dante to Dr. Seuss, the story has all of the fun of old-fashioned pulp adventures. A tale ‘terrifying and dark, of indescribable horrors and eldritch mysteries,’ this is sure to be Wilde-ly popular, and readers will anxiously await future installments.                                                     —Kirkus Reviews

Putnam treated me well enough, but I was largely underwhelmed with my experiences with them. The  money was relatively lousy (and usually delivered months after it was contractually supposed to be), they did no promotion, and I thought they failed to take advantage of important opportunities. At no point did I get the idea that my input was valued, except insofar as delivering a printable text was concerned. And they allowed the hardback to sell through its print run and fall out of print before even scheduling a paperback printing, meaning the book’s effective shelf life and opportunity to find new readers was less than two years. In other words, I was treated like most authors are treated by the Big 6.
The thing is, I want to make a living at this, and unless the series really took wing, I was never going to do that under standard publishing terms. Everybody in publishing makes a good living, with benefits, except the folks who write the books. Going independent is a gamble, but honestly, if it doesn’t work, I’m not out much income, and if it does (and I expect it will) I’ll at least be able to keep the roof over my head.
So this is the year of Doc Wilde.

Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom is an adventure yarn in the old tradition. It gets that reading is an intellectual activity, and that an adventure, to be really good, has to engage the reader’s brain. I love a smart book!
—Daniel Pinkwater, author of The Neddiad and The Yggyssey

The fact that Putnam allowed Frogs to fall out of print turned out to be a great thing, because it allowed me to retrieve the rights and I can start the series anew, the way I want to. There were things I wanted to do with the books that I wasn’t getting to do with Putnam, and now I can.
One of those things is working with Gary Chaloner. As I’ve written before, well before I finished writing Frogs, I tried to find the perfect artist to depict the Wildes, and Gary was my choice. Not only was he a gifted graphic storyteller with a distinctive style, he was also a huge fan of pulp adventure and had an instinctive understanding (and love) of the material. Together we decided to produce lavishly illustrated books, and he put a lot of time into honing his designs to match my vision of the characters. (To see some of his early designs, go here.)

The Wildes à la Chaloner

When I signed with Putnam, they completely disregarded my wishes. The resulting book had a really nice cover, but I never got so much as an email consultation from the artist and I have a few minor issues with some of its details. There were no lovely illustrations inside. Instead, there were some goofy typographical effects that (I felt) distracted the reader and made the book look like it was meant solely for very young readers, rather than for young and old as I intended.
Well, Gary’s back on board, and we’re doing the books the way we originally envisioned.
Here’s the plan:
Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom will be released in its new edition in June, in both ebook and paper. It will offer my preferred edit of the novel, along with a new short Doc Wilde adventure, and (like future books) will have a new cover and be fully illustrated by maestro Gary Chaloner.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be putting together a Kickstarter project so folks can help us with the relaunch and get assorted boons ranging from being named in the acknowledgments to autographed limited editions and other exclusives.
Then, in August or September, the long-awaited second adventure will finally appear, Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull, in which the Wildes face a mind-blowing mystery and a truly bizarre villain. Book 3, to be named soon, will follow in November.
Had I remained with Putnam, by year’s end there would have possibly been a paperback of Frogs of Doom, and The Mad Skull might have seen print some time next year, though more likely it would have been in 2014. Doing things this way, you get the first three books by Christmas, with more to follow next year.
This is all very exciting for me. Going indy will allow me not only to produce nicer books, not only to make more money (at less cost to readers), but to have a more organic and personal relationship with fans. It’s a great time to be a writer.
Stay tuned for more news, including the details of the Kickstarter project…

A true delight…Tim Byrd has taken Doc Savage, added in a pinch of Robert E. Howard, a liberal dose of H.P. Lovecraft, and mixed it all together in a well done, enchanting pastiche of the pulps that will appeal to the adult audience as well as the young adult readers. It is an over the top at times, rip roaring adventure that returns us to the days of yesteryear and leaves us wanting more.
—Barry Hunter, The Baryon Review

(Note: At the time I post this, Putnam’s ebook version of Frogs of Doom is still available online. The wheels of publishing grind slowly, and they haven’t yet gotten around to removing it as they’re supposed to. If you’re interested in the book, I encourage you to wait for the new version later this year. It will be a much better edition, will cost you less, and I’ll benefit a lot more from the sale.)

MINDY NEWELL: A Face In The Crowd

Outside my window it’s January in October; the snow is falling in thick full flakes, the wind is howling, and the steam radiator is hissing and spitting heat while I write this. I just finished watching Captain America: The First Avenger. The perfect movie for a day like a day like this, when I’m all warm and cozy inside while a little Ice Age is raging on the other side of my window.

It’s a really great movie, totally true to its comic book roots, and yet with just enough of an underpinning of truth that enables – for me, at least – a total suspension of disbelief. I haven’t felt this way about a super-hero movie since I first saw Superman. Yeah, I dug Batman Begins and Dark Knight and I’m looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises. And I liked the X-Men movies, even though they were all about Wolverine – hell, the guy even makes a quick cameo (brilliantly done and totally in character) in X-Men: First Class; but Superman and Captain America are movies that leave me walking on air and just full of joi de vivre.

So much of the credit, like 99% of it, goes to Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of Superman, and I think, in the same way, 99% of the credit for the success of Captain America goes to Chris Evans. They both really get it. They get that these characters are representations of, characterizations of – no, the embodiment of the American dream, the American ideal, the “gee whiz, this is the best country in the whole world, and I am one damn lucky fellow to be living in it” experience.

When suits at Marvel made the decision a few years ago to kill Captain America, I was so upset. Honestly – and I mean this in the best possible way – it was for me as if Christopher Reeve had just died all over again. Reeves had proved himself a true Superman, a true American hero, in so many ways; and his death was, for me, an end of an era. And then, a few years later, and all for the sake of $$$, for publicity, Cap is dead. And I felt like – well, let me put it as succinctly as I can:

This country is fucked.

In 1957, Elia Kazan directed A Face In The Crowd. Starring Andy Griffith in his film debut, it’s the story of Lonesome Rhodes, a hard-drinking country-western singer pulled out of obscurity and given his own radio show by talent scout Patricia Neal. His “down-home” philosophical spiels soon lead to his own television show, leading to worshipful fans, drooling sponsors with money, and political influence. Now drunk on power instead of alcohol, Rhodes is a manipulator of Machiavellian proportion. And although A Face In The Crowd was not considered a success during its theatre run, it has proven to be, as so many of Kazan’s movies were – prescient in its depiction of the overtaking by pop culture and big business of the American political system.

And now we have Herman Cain. Everybody knows him as “The Pizza King,” and who hasn’t seen his “Imagine There’s No Pizza” performance? (John Lennon must be rolling over in his grave. Yoko, can’t you sue him or something?) But did you know that he’s also a gospel singer, and performed on the 13-track album Sunday Morning released by Selah Sound Production & Melodic Praise Records in 1996? Did you know that he writes an op-ed column that is syndicated by the North Star Writers Group to over 50 newspapers? Did you know that he has written numerous books – Leadership is Common Sense; Speak as a Leader; CEO of SELF; They Think You’re Stupid – and that the latest, This is Herman Cain: My Journey to the White House, is on the bookshelves now, and that he is not only campaigning, but on a national book tour as we speak? And did you know that, until he formally announced his candidacy, he hosted The Herman Cain Show on WSB-AM in Atlanta? Lonesome Rhodes, you’ve met your match!

So is he just a huckster peddling his wares? Well, let’s see. Did you know that Cain was on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve in Kansas City? And that he was the chairman of the Omaha branch? (It’s not surprising that Fox News never reports on that, since the Fed is one of the big bad bogeymen under attack by the Repugnanticans.) And that he sat on the boards of some of America’s biggest corporations, including Nabisco and Whirlpool?

So he ain’t just a huckster, he’s a corporate toady and a bankster too! (Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Together, are you listening?)

And since 2005, and ending when he announced his candidacy, Herman Cain worked for Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a right-wing political action committee (PAC). You know who funds AFP? The Koch brothers!!!! You know who’s Cain’s campaign manager? Mark Block, his co-worker at AFP. You know Cain’s senior economic adviser, Richard Lowrie, he of the totally huckster 9-9-9 tax plan? Guess where he met Cain? Yep. Lowrie sat on the AFP board of directors until Cain announced his candidacy.

Yeah, good ol’ Herman Cain. He’s just a regular old joe. A face in the crowd.

Watching Shane now.

Come back, Cap. Cap. Cap, come back. Come back, Cap! Caaaaaaap!!!!!!!

TUESDAY: Michael Davis

X-Men First Class

When we first heard that the reboot of the X-Men film franchise was being set in the 1960s, there was a lot of head scratching going on. But once you stopped to consider the ages of the characters, a lot of it began to make sense. Of course, the first thing you need to do is totally forget about the source material. There are just too many elements that have been radically changed from the comics that it would just hurt your head. Instead, focus on the film as a prequel to a trilogy that more often than not has done a fabulous job adapting the merry mutants to the silver screen.

I’ve been a big fan of Matthew Vaughn’s work for a while now, so I was thrilled that he finally got a chance to try his hand at the X-Men. His work adapting other comics, Stardust and Kick-Ass, prove he has a good handle on what to keep, what to toss, and what to change. Here, he keeps the friendship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr at the core of the story. Thankfully, Vaughn cast Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy as the leads because both do superb jobs.

(more…)

Marvel Studios Regains Punisher and Blade

Marvel Studios has reacquired film rights to the characters of Blade and The Punisher according to Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada. He announced this during his Cup O’ Joe panel during Comic-Con International, but cautioned the audience that this did not mean either was being put into active production.

As a result of these acquisitions from New Line Cinema and Lionsgate, respectively, this leaves the X-Men, Ghost Rider, and Fantastic Four franchises still under 20th Century-Fox control while Sony continues to produce Spider-Man films. A Ghost Rider sequel with Nicholas Cage returning as Johnny Blaze is in the works while a reboot of the FF is in pre-production. X-Men: First Class performed so well this summer sequels are already on order.

Marvel has indicated that as the first cycle of films based on their best known heroes chugs along, the focus is shifting to their lesser known characters, most likely leading off with Doctor Strange and Edger Wright’s Ant-Man. At present, none of these projects have been given release dates meaning they are far off.

At the Marvel Television panel conducted by their VP Jeph Loeb, it was shown that the ABC pilot for Alias Jessica Jones continues to move through the production process, and would include Luke Cage in the supporting cast. Cloak & Dagger is also in development for ABC Family.

2012 will see The Avengers on May 3 followed by Amazing Spider-Man over July 4 weekend with 2013 already ticketed to screen Iron Man 3 and Thor 2. Beyond that, the calendar and options remain wide open even though lead actors including Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Samuel L. Jackson are signed for multi-picture deals. Evans, for example, has a nine picture deal with Captain America and The Avengers only covering two of the nine.