Hugh Jackman has something to prove — can he be a major movie star when he isn’t in the role of Wolverine? We have some early looks at the film that Jackman is making right now, the sci-fi action film “Real Steel,” due in theaters next year, and you can bet that the actor is hungry for the boxing movie to deliver a knockout.
The 41-year-old Aussie has been given a number of chances — “Kate and Leopold,” “Deception,” “Swordfish,” “Van Helsing,” “Scoop” and “The Fountain” — but he has yet to claw out a major hit with any live-action role away from the Marvel Comics mutant persona.
The closest he came was Christopher Nolan’s in 2006, a film that pulled in $110 million worldwide and had a lean $40 million production budget, but that was more of an ensemble film (with Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Scarlett Johansson). And then there was “Australia,” which tanked in the U.S. ($50 million in box office) but made $162 million in foreign markets to cover its production budget of $130 million, although that budget number doesn’t include the major marketing and advertising expenses.
Jackman, widely considered one of the nicest guys in Hollywood, is getting back into the ring right now with “Real Steel,” a sort of mecha-gladiator tale filming in Detroit. Jackman plays a washed-up boxer named Charlie Kenton who with his estranged son Max (played by Dakota Goyo) makes a comeback bid in a new high-tech sport of robot boxing.
(If we’re going to come up with joke titles for the concept, my best shot is “Raging Mechanical Bull,” I’m sure you guys can do better…)
At top is an early shot from the movie and the second photo shows Jackman, right, with director Shawn Levy (who scored major success with “Night at the Museum” and its sequel) who also has something to prove since he is moving away from comedy with this DreamWorks film that opens in November 2011.
If the premise sounds a bit familiar that’s because its based on the short story “Steel” by Richard Matheson, the prolific sci-fi and fantasy writer whose works have yielded the films “What Dreams May Come,” “Somewhere In Time” and “I Am Legend.” Matheson was also the writer of the great “Twilight Zone” episode, also called “Steel,” that adapted the tale and starred Lee Marvin as boxer Steel Kelly who manages a creaky old robot called Battling Maxo and then, when his machine man is broken, steps into the ring himself in disguise to pay the bills. Considering the photo at top, it doesn’t look likely that Jackman will be pulling off that kind of masquerade in this new gearbox fantasy.
– Geoff Boucher
UPDATE: Is this some early test footage for “Real Steel”…?
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