"TURISTAS" REUNION IN "TRON": I’m not sure whether this is an alarming development, but the makers of the "Tron" revival appear to be fans of "Turistas" — how else should we interpret the fact that two of the female stars from that 2006 bikini bloodfest are the first announced cast for the sci-fi revamp? Borys Kit has this trades announcement story: "Olivia Wilde and Beau Garrett are the first to sign on for ‘Tron 2.0,’ the sequel to the 1982 Disney cult classic being directed by Joseph Kosinski. Sean Bailey is producing along with Steven Lisberger, who co-wrote and directed the original film, and Jeff Silver. The original, about a programmer thrust into a computer and forced to fight in games he helped create, is remembered for its sci-fi gladiator-style battles and groundbreaking special effects. The new movie is acting as a ‘next chapter.’ Plot details are being guarded closely, but Wilde will play a worker in the virtual world who tries to help fight Master Control Program, the villainous intelligence protocol that was the nemesis in the original film. Garrett will play a siren in the virtual world. The male lead has not been cast, but the studio and filmmakers are screen-testing actors as it brings on other leads and supporting players. ‘Tron 2.0′ is eyeing a spring shoot and is shaping up as one of the studio’s most anticipated projects in years. Kosinski shot reels to test technology and showcase his vision for the film; the footage screened at Comic-Con in July and was one of the most buzzed-about films coming out of the geekfest." [Hollywood Reporter]…ALSO Read about 13 other upcoming remakes of sci-fi classic films right here.
"WATCHMEN" CASE STILL IN LIMBO: The court case regarding the rights to the film adaptation of "Watchmen" is still up in the air, according to an update from Times reporter John Horn: "A federal judge said Monday that he was unable to decide whether 20th Century Fox controls rights to the movie that Warner Bros. has produced and plans to release March 9, leaving open the possibility that the dispute between the studios could be tried on Jan. 20. U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess told lawyers for Fox and Warners that a series of 1990s contracts between Fox and ‘Watchmen’ producer Larry Gordon are so open to interpretation that he could not render a pre-trial judgment for either party, as the lawyers had requested. Fox sued Warners in February, arguing that Gordon — who once ran Fox — assigned Warners ‘Watchmen’ rights he didn’t possess. Warners maintains that Fox holds no copyright on the movie, which is adapted by director Zack Snyder (‘300‘) from the groundbreaking graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. [Los Angeles Times]
A "PHANTOM" MENACE?: You don’t usually see a wire story about Aussie film producers acquiring the rights to a languishing property, especially if they have no casting announcement. But this came over the wire with a Sydney dateline, so here you go: "An Australian production company on Monday announced it had secured the rights to ‘The Phantom Legacy,’ a follow-up to the 1996 film, ‘The Phantom,’ which starred Billy Zane as the masked hero who fights evil from his jungle headquarters.The latest adaptation, which is expected to cost $87 million, will focus on ‘the father/son relationship, and what it means to be the Phantom,” scriptwriter Tim Boyle said in a statement. ‘The film will be set in the present day and will deal with the concept of destiny.’ Producer Bruce Sherlock, who also served as executive producer of the first Phantom movie, said the new film will be a marked improvement over its predecessor, which received mixed reviews. ‘It has the makings of a blockbuster,’ Sherlock told The Associated Press. ‘There’s some surprises that will thrill the Phantom fans worldwide’…the Phantom began as a daily newspaper comic strip by Lee Falk in 1936. The protagonist — alter ego Kit Walker — is the 21st in a family of men who have passed the task of fighting injustice onto their sons. The first Phantom took the job to avenge his father’s death at the hands of pirates." [Associated Press]
"TWILIGHT," TRANSLATED: There is some interesting Hollywood industry kabuki being staged in the naming of Chris Weitz as the director for the next "Twilight" film in place of the just-ousted Catherine Hardwicke. My favorite analysis so far is by columnist Patrick Goldstein who had this to say: "Chris is a talented writer-director and, having shepherded ‘Golden Compass’ to worldwide box-office success, clearly can handle the popularization of a franchise property. But what’s fascinating, for the moment, is how Chris handled his first big assignment — reaching out and reassuring ‘Twilight’ fans who were upset over Hardwicke’s sudden departure, wanted a woman director to get the gig, or crave a absolutely faithful translation of the remaining books in the series, starting with ‘New Moon,’ which Summit hopes to have in theaters by the end of next year. So here are a few excerpts from what Chris said in his letter to fans — and what it really means: What he said: ‘In the past few days I have been involved in a whirlwind romance with Stephenie Meyer’s extraordinary books.’ What it means: ‘It’s amazing how fast Amazon can rush an overnight shipment of books to your house.’ What he said: ‘I am very grateful to have received [Stephenie's] permission to protect ‘New Moon’ in its translation from the page to the screen.’ What it means: ‘I passed the audition.’ What he said: ‘For the last decade of my career as a director, I have chosen to make adaptations of complex and involved works of literature.’ What it means: ‘I barely remember being that smart-aleck brat who did all the semen jokes and sexist gags in ‘American Pie.” What he said: ‘When I saw the film of ‘Twilight’ … I was struck by the extraordinary passion for the characters, story and theme that was evident in the people sitting in the seats around me.’ What it means: ‘I saw the film in a real movie theater, not in my agent’s screening room.’ [The Big Picture blog, Los Angeles Times]
ON THIS DATE: Wow, what a day for science fiction. On this date in 1917, the futurist, inventor and author Arthur C. Clarke was born in Minehead, in the the southwest of England, the beginning of a 90-year life that would give the world "Childhood’s End," "2001: A Space Odyssey" (co-written with Stanley Kubrick), "Rendezvous with Rama" and so many other slices of genius. Also on this date, in 1928, Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago but found a much more daunting life path ahead of him. The troubled writer died at age 52 but not before writing "Ubik," "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" "The Man in the High Castle" and "A Scanner Darkly." Also, British sci fi writer Kenneth Bulmer, author of more than 150 novels including the Dray Prescot series, died on this date in 2005 at age 84. To mark the day, let’s all pick up a book and remember that science fiction doesn’t begin and end on a movie screen.
– Geoff Boucher
CREDITS: "Turistas" image courtesy of 20th Century Fox."Watchmen" image courtesy of Warner Bros.