The box-office story of
early summer was Universal. Still counting cash from
its late-May comedy
blockbuster “Bruce Almighty,” the studio scored
big twice more in June: with a Diesel-free “2Fast
2 Furious” (first weekend: $50.4 million) and “Hulk” ($62
million in three days).
2 Busy 2 Stop.
When “2 Fast” crosses the finish line later
this summer, it is likely to fall a little short of its
predecessor’s $144 million in winnings. Nonetheless,
a third entry in the street-racing franchise wouldn’t
be a surprise.
Mendes seems to be the big winner in the race to make new
young stars out of the “Fast” franchise.
A Customs Service agent in “2 Fast,” she
plays a cop again in “Once Upon a Time In Mexico.” Details
on this sequel to “El Mariachi” and “Desperado” can
be found in this month's Preview.
She once again swears to serve and protect
in “Out Of Time.” The
thriller, set in Florida, is about a small-town police chief who must save
his reputation and career after he steals money from the evidence room and
is betrayed by the woman he loves. Carl Franklin (“Devil in a Blue Dress,” “High
Crimes”) directed from a screenplay by Dave Collard. Mendes’ castmates
include Denzel Washington (“Antwone Fisher”), Sanaa Lathan (“Brown
Sugar”), Robert Baker (TV’s “The Funkhausers”), Dean
Cain (“Rat Race”) and John Billingsley (“White Oleander”).
MGM has timed it for Oct. 3.
Mendes surrenders the badge for “Stuck On You,” a comedy about
what happens to unseparated Siamese twins when one decides to pursue an acting
career in Hollywood. It was written and directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly
(“Osmosis Jones,” “Shallow Hal”). Her co-stars include
Matt Damon (“Gerry”), Greg Kinnear (“Auto Focus”),
Jessica Cauffiel (“Legally Blonde 2: Red, White &Blonde”),Wen
Yann Shih and Terence Bernie Hines (“Identity”). Fox is stuck
on Dec. 12 as the release date.
She gets a lead role in “Ask The Dust,” a drama, set in Depression-era
Los Angeles, about a young writer from Colorado who finds himself forced to
choose between his work and his love for a Latina waitress. It’s based
on the 1939 novel by John Fante. Robert Towne (“Tequila Sunrise,” “Without
Limits”) was set to direct from his own screenplay. Colin Farrell (“S.W.A.T.”)
was set to co-star. Warner Bros. has yet to put it into production.
Paul Walker gets out of the car and
into the Middle Ages for “Timeline,” a contemporary science fiction
thriller about an amusement park entrepreneur who becomes
trapped while visiting 14th century France. Based on the
1999 novel by Michael Crichton (“The Lost World,” “The
13th Warrior”), it was directed by Richard Donner
(“Lethal Weapon 4”) from a screenplay by George
Nolfi and Frank Cappello. Walker stars with Frances O’Connor
(“Windtalkers”), Neal McDonough (“Minority
Report”), Ethan Embry (“Sweet Home Alabama”),
Billy Connolly (“White Oleander”), Matt Craven
(“The Life of David Gale”), Anna Friel (“Me
Without You”), David Thewlis (“Gangster No.
1”), Gerard Butler (“Lara Croft Tomb Raider:
The Cradle of Life“), Marton Csokas (“Kangaroo
Jack”) and Michael Sheen (“Four Feathers”).
Paramount plans to release it Nov. 26, this century.
Warner Bros. has bought an untitled thriller as a vehicle
for Walker to star in. Brian Horiuchi is penning the script,
which is set in the Philippines and concerns drug runners
and modern day pirates. Walker would play the reckless
leader of a drug interdiction team.
“2 Fast’s” villainous Cole Hauser appears
next in “Paparazzi.” The thriller is about
a popular movie star (Hauser) who seeks revenge on four
tabloid photographers who caused his wife and son to get
into a dangerous car accident. TV director Paul Abascal
(“Witchblade”) helms from a screenplay by Forrest
Smith. Robin Tunney (“The In-Laws”), Dennis
Farina (“Stealing Harvard”) and Tom Sizemore
(“Dreamcatcher”) co-star. Fox hasn’t
set a release date.
Tyrese is set to headline “Extortion,” an
urban crime thriller set in Los Angeles and based on an
idea by the recording-artist-turned-actor. He will play
an undercover detective who, to investigate his foster
brother’s murder, must infiltrate a gang and become
a confidante of a crime lord. John Jarrell (“Romeo
Must Die”) wrote the screenplay. Universal has yet
to score a release date.
Devon Aoki steps out of her red bikini
and into a plaid skirt as one of the “D.E.B.S.” The comedy is
about a quartet of high school girls whose SAT scores and
school records display an exceptional aptitude for deception
and mayhem – so the femmes are recruited by the government
as secret agents. Angela Robinson directs from her own
script, based on her short film. Aoki’s fellow D.E.B.S.
agents are played by Sara Foster (“The Big Bounce.”),
Meagan Good (“Biker Boyz”) and Jill Ritchie
(“Ready to Rumble”). Jordana Brewster (“The
Fast and the Furious”) plays Foster’s high
school nemesis, Michael Clarke Duncan (“Daredevil”)
is the D.E.B.S. Academy president and Holland Taylor (“Spy
Kids 3-D: Game Over”) is the headmistress. Jessica
Cauffiel (“Stuck On You”) also stars. Sony
has yet to set a graduation date.
Not unexpectedly, Ang Lee’s “Hulk” brought
the Marvel Studios its seventh number-one opening in a
row – and while the action drama may not have benefitted
from an Affleck-calibre movie star as its lead, the green
guy still managed to outgross his non-sequel Marvel Comics
cousin, “Daredevil,” in the span of 11 days.
Since we last covered comic book movies in development
in February, quite a few have moved farther up the production
chain. No fewer than eight of them are due next summer.
“Iron Fist” tells the story of a martial arts
expert who fights crime with a superhuman punch. Steve
Carr (“Daddy Day Care”) was reportedly set
to direct from a screenplay by John Turman (“Hulk”). “X-Men’s” Toad,
Ray Park, was set to take on the title role. Hong Kong
martial arts film vet Wai-Man Chan also stars. Artisan
takes the gloves off May 5.
“Hellboy” is an actioner about
a demon-like creature, originally summoned from another
dimension by Nazi occultists in 1944, who grew up to work
as an investigator for the U.S. government’s Bureau
of Paranormal Research. Based on the Dark Horse comic book
created by Mike Mignola, it was written and directed by
Guillermo del Toro (“The Devil’s Backbone,” “Blade
2”). Ron Perlman (“Star Trek: Nemesis”)
stars as Hellboy, with Selma Blair (“A Guy Thing”)
as Liz Sherman, John Hurt (“Owning Mahowny”)
as Professor Bruttenholm, Doug Jones (“Adaptation”)
as Abe Sapien, Jeffrey Tambor (“Never Again”)
as Dr. Tom Manning, Karel Roden (“Bulletproof Monk”)
as Grigori Rasputin and Victoria Smurfit (“Bulletproof
Monk”) as Ilsa. Sony fires it up May 21.
“The Hands of Shang-Chi” is
based on the Marvel Comics hero, a young Kung-Fu master
who learns his father
is the world’s most notorious criminal mastermind.
Longtime stunt coordinator Yuen Woo-ping (“The Matrix” franchise)
was reportedly set to direct from a screenplay by Bruce
McKenna. No cast has been announced, but DreamWorks reportedly
plans to hand it off to audiences in June.
“Man-Thing” is an actioner based on the Marvel
comic about a swamp creature who grows more powerful and
dangerous as he senses fear. Brett Leonard (“Virtuosity,” “T-Rex:
Back to the Cretaceous”) was set to direct from a
screenplay by Hans Rodionoff. Artisan senses no fear in
reportedly releasing it in June.
“Spider-Man 2” is well under way now that
Tobey Maguire has settled his back problems and contractual
snit with the producers. In this installment, Peter Parker
must use his bizarre superpowers to combat the freakish
multi-armed super-villain Dr. Otto Octavius. This follow-up
to the 2002 mega-hit is based on the 40-year-old Marvel
Comics character created by Stan Lee (“X-Men,” “Daredevil,” “Hulk”).
Returnees from part one include director Sam Raimi (“The
Gift”) as well as actors Maguire as Parker, Kirsten
Dunst (“Cat’s Meow”) as Mary Jane Watson,
James Franco (“Sonny”) as Harry Osborne, J.K.
Simmons (“The Mexican”) as J. Jonah Jameson,
Ted Raimi (“For Love of the Game”) as Ted Hoffman,
Rosemary Harris (“The Gift”) as Aunt May, Elizabeth
Banks (“Catch Me If You Can”) as Betty Brandt
and Bruce Campbell (“The Majestic”). Newcomers
to the series include novelist Michael Chabon (“Wonder
Boys”), who contributes to the script, and screenwriter
Alvin Sargent (“Unfaithful”), as well as actors
Alfred Molina (“Identity,” “My Life Without
Me”) as Doc Ock, Dylan Baker (“Head of State,” “How
To Deal”) as Curt Connors and Daniel Gillies (TV’s “Jeremiah”)
as astronaut John Jameson. Sony plans box office fireworks
“Deathlok” is based on the Marvel comic about
a man who undergoes an experiment that slowly turns him,
body part by body part, into a cyborg. Lee Tamahori (“Die
Another Day”) was reportedly set to direct from a
screenplay by Raven Metzner and Stu Zichermant. Paramount
reportedly has a death grip on Aug. 8, 2004 for the release.
“The Punisher,” based on a Marvel title, depicts
a D.E.A. agent who takes the law into his own hands after
a group of drug dealers murders his wife and son. His crusade
leads him into conflict with a former crime boss gone straight,
who vows revenge after the Punisher kills his son. Screenwriter
Jonathan Hensleigh (“The Saint,” “Armageddon”)
makes his feature directorial debut from a script by Hensleigh
and Michael France (“Hulk”). Thomas Jane (“Dreamcatcher”)
stars as the title character, opposite Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
(“X2”), Ben Foster (“Northfork”),
Laura Elena Harring (“Willard”) as Ivia Saint,
and John Travolta (“Basic”) as Howard Saint.
Artisan plans to inflict it August 2004.
“Blade: Trinity” is, understandably, the third
in the lucrative “Blade” franchise. David S.
Goyer (“Zigzag”), who scripted all three installments,
was reportedly set to direct this episode as well. Other
expected returnees include Wesley Snipes as the title character
and Kris Kristofferson as Whistler. New Line expects it
to make the cut in August 2004.
Based on the long-running Marvel Comics
Four” is an actioner about a quartet of scientific
adventurers who find themselves transformed during a space
mission into four super-powered beings – the highly
elastic Mr. Fantastic, the force-field-generating Invisible
Girl, the flying Human Torch and the grotesque, super-strong
Thing. Being comic book characters, they also confront
their arch-nemesis, Dr. Victor Von Doom. Peyton Reed (“Bring
It On”) is set to direct from a screenplay by Michael
France (“Hulk,” “The Punisher”)
and Mark Frost (“Storyville”). Though no cast
has been announced, Fox thinks a Dec. 24, 2004 release
will also be fantastic.
“Catwoman” has picked up a change of actress
since we last wrote about it. This spin-off of the “Batman” franchise
is about a gymnast who runs a pet grooming business by
day and fights crime by night. Visual effects director
Pitof (“Alien: Resurrection,” “The Messenger:
The Story of Joan of Arc”) makes his feature directorial
debut from a screenplay by John Rogers (“The Core”),
and Mike Ferris & John Brancato (“The Game,” “Terminator
3: Rise of the Machines”). Halle Berry (“X2”)
has stepped in the role previously intended for Michelle
Pfeiffer and then Ashley Judd. Warner Bros. finds July
30, 2004 to be the purr-fect release date.
Comic-book collector Nicolas Cage was
set to star in “Ghost
Rider,” but some recent reports suggest Kiefer Sutherland
may be donning the fire-retardant motorcycle boots. The
drama details the adventures of a motorcycle stunt performer
named Johnny Blaze who is cursed to spend his nights as
host to a fiery spirit of vengeance. Mark Steven Johnson
(“Daredevil”) was reportedly set to direct
from a screenplay by Johnson and Shane Salerno (“Shaft”).
Jon Voight (“Holes”) was set to co-star. Sony
has yet to set a release date.
Kickboxing, blade-flinging heiress
Elektra Natchios managed to survive the denouement of “Daredevil” to
get her own spin-off. “Elektra” stars Jennifer
Garner as the Greek assassin in form-fitting miracle fiber.
Fox hasn’t announced a supporting cast but Raven
Metzner and Stu Zicherman (see “Deathlok,” above)
are reportedly hard at work preparing a script for a tentative
And even Harvey Weinstein is getting
into the comic book adaptation business. Miramax is reportedly
Horse’s “The Green Hornet” as
part of a new strategy to release a big summer movie or
year. No word on whether Gwyneth Paltrow is interested
in the role of Kato.