Welcome to your Tuesday morning edition of Everyday Hero, the roundup of handpicked headlines from across the fanboy universe.
ALAN MOORE SAYS ‘BWAH-HA-HA-HA!': Well, not really, but I just love posting this photograph of him any chance I get and I do suspect that he would express some glee about the ugly corporate feud that has raised doubts about the planned release of "Watchman," the big Warner Bros. adaptation of Moore’s epic. I would call Moore and ask him directly, but the last time we spoke he made it quite clear that he was done talking about the film and Hollywood in general because he more or less loathes the film industry. A judge’s surprise ruling last week has created the very real possibility that "Watchmen" might not hit theaters in March — a shocking development but, now that I think about it, when Moore talked to the Hero Complex in September he seemed to have some mystic premonition of this latest development. "Will the film even be coming out? There are these legal problems now, which I find wonderfully ironic. Perhaps it’s been cursed from afar, from England. And I can tell you that I will also be spitting venom all over it for months to come." Spooky! Well, the guy does wear metallic talons and worship an ancient Roman snake god, so I wouldn’t want to get on his bad side. And what is the latest on the "Watchmen" case? Here’s a statement from Warner Bros.: "We respectfully but vigorously disagree with the Court’s ruling and are exploring all of our appellate options. We continue to believe that Fox’s claims have no merit and that we will ultimately prevail, whether at trial or in the Court of Appeals. We have no plans to move the release date of the film." "Watchmen" has joined the list of truly contentious Hollywood projects. What are some of the other ones? Check out our new photo gallery "Big Hits, Bitter Battles."
A DIMMER ‘TWILIGHT’?: Reporter Michael Cieply (a former colleague here at the Los Angeles Times) has always been a smart and savvy chronicler of the movie industry, and his take on the real story behind the 2008 box-office returns is especially insightful: "What a year for movie openings. I mean, who could forget ‘Twilight’? Teenagers screaming for free tickets outside the dual-theater Westwood premiere here. Mayhem in the malls. Girls thirsting for Robert Pattinson. Box-office projections growing bigger and bigger as online vendors sold out theater after theater. It was amazing. When all is said and done, maybe 24 million tickets will be sold to that movie, based on current sales. That makes it almost as big as, what? ‘Patch Adams,’ the No. 10 movie of 1998. Or roughly the size of ‘George of the Jungle,’ which placed No. 13 the year before. Or any number of films that are fondly remembered as midsize hits. Looking back, in fact, 2008 may be remembered as the year when Hollywood succeeded in redefining the Big Event. A "movie of the century" — something that made you want to dress up, get in line, and act silly just to see it — used to come along every year or two. The "Star Wars" films had that quality. So did "Titanic," in a quieter, dreamier sort of way. But heart-stopping film events like that have been popping up every few weeks this year…. Even this year’s really big one, "The Dark Knight," was never quite as big as it felt. Clear away the urgent reports about 6 a.m. screenings and Imax-size demand, and you are left, according to an always-sobering tally kept by the Box Office Mojo website, with the 26th-most-popular movie of all time, in terms of tickets sold. A smart, counterintuitive article, and again you can read the rest right here. [New York Times]
A BRIGHTER "TWILIGHT"?: Remember that Will Rogers line about lies, damn lies and statistics? Joal Ryan has a look-on-the-bright-side article compared with that New York Times piece; Ryan points out that, considering its budget, "Twilight" was a bigger hit than "The Dark Knight" (although it ignores the fact that Warner Bros. made a gazillion dollars on all the product and licensing deals for "Dark Knight"): "If only Wall Street had bet on Twilight. Or Hannah Montana. Or Kirk Cameron. With a $167.3-million overall domestic take as of Sunday, per Box Office Mojo, Twilight made more than four times its reported $37-million production budget — the best rate of return on any film in the 2008 Top 10, including ‘The Dark Knight.’ The Batman epic was a pretty good investment, too, very nearly tripling its gargantuan $185-million budget with a $530.8-million domestic take, Hollywood’s second-biggest ever. Still, ‘The Dark Knight’ was nothing compared to these off-the-charts performers: ‘High School Musical 3: Senior Year’ ($89.7 million), which grossed about eight times its $11-million budget; the Hannah Montana concert movie, which made about nine times its $7-million budget; and, Cameron’s ‘Fireproof,’ which cost $500,000 to produce, and made $33.1 million — or, more than 60 times its budget." [E! Entertainment News]
‘Y’? BECAUSE WE LIKE YOU: One of the more intriguing comics-as-film projects kicking around town is the D.J. Caruso adaptation of Brian K. Vaughn’s wry, sublime series "Y: The Last Man." I talked to D.J. a few months back, and he was mightily enthused about the prospects of making the film with his familiar on-screen muse Shia LaBeouf, but in a recent conversation with Edward Douglas it sounds as if the last-man-on-earth tale is presenting the filmmaker with some headaches: "Yeah, it’s been a while. I think it’s one of those that the source material is fantastic stuff, it’s great, but it’s a tough one to lick into getting into a screenplay. I’ve tried to feel like it’s a trilogy of movies and I think everyone sort of agrees, but at the same time, just getting the first movie right and getting the right beats and knowing what to put in, it’s been really tough. You have great minds like David Goyer and you’ve got Carl Ellsworth and you’ve got Brian K. Vaughn, and I’m working with them to just kind of crack it and get it down. And we’re almost there. I know it’s a slow process, but I think eventually we’ll get it. We’re going to get it and we’ll get it right, but we had a pretty good breakthrough a couple of weeks ago in the final act, and hopefully we’ll get there…. If you’re familiar with the source material, there’s so much great stuff and he meets so many great characters but it’s over the course of a long period of time. When you’re telling the story — yes, the fanboys and all the people who love it will go and see it — but if you’re just seeing the movie from a filmgoers’ perspective and you’re not familiar with the source material, you have to make sure you make the movie that they understand and they love, too. Like I said, it’s been more difficult than I thought, but we’re getting close." [Comingsoon.net]
LOOK, UP IN THE SKY: Here’s some consumer news for you fans of the classic Superman cartoons, this from Robert Greenberger’s short article: "Warner Home Video is finally releasing their own version of the Superman cartoons produced by Max Fleischer and Dave Fleischer. The 17 classics have been in the public domain and collected repeatedly over the last 20 years. Come April 7, though, the first authorized collection will be released. In addition to the Paramount cartoons, released in 1941 and 1942, the two-disc set will include two extras: ‘The Man, The Myth, Superman’ and ‘First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series.’ The set will retail for $26.99 and if you have never seen these cartoons, they are well worth it." [Comic Mix] If you’d like to see a few snippets from the genius work of the Fleischers on the Man of Steel, there’s some video at the bottom of this post.
MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: Empire magazine has some exclusive photos from Michael Bay’s "Transformers 2" and you can see them right here.
ON THIS DATE: Author Lewis Shiner, whose work began in cyber-punk, drifted into magical realism and often deals with the slippery nature of reality and history, celebrates his 58th birthday today. Today is also the 27th birthday of Kristin Kreuk, the Canadian actress who is best known in the role of Lana Lang on "Smallville," but I especially liked her with Miranda Richardson in the wonderfully weird 2001 television movie "Snow White: The Fairest of Them All." So to celebrate, let’s avoid all bad apples today.
Here are some of the classic Fleischer Superman cartoons. First, "The Mad Scientist"….
Here’s "The Mechanical Monsters."
One more: "Electric Earthquake"
— Geoff Boucher
Photos: From top, Alan Moore, circa 2001, in Northampton, England. Credit: Graham Barclay / For The Times. "Twilight" image. Credit: Summit Entertainment. "The Dark Knight" image. Credit: Warner Bros.
D.J. Caruso at Union Station. Credit: Stefano Paltera / For The Times. "Smallville." Credit: The CW.