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10 items from 2004


Black belt: M6, RTL pick up Action's 'Lasko'

6 October 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

CANNES -- Germany's RTL and France's M6 have secured TV rights to the action series Lasko from Cologne, Germany-based production house Action Concept, company head Hermann Joha said in an interview Wednesday at MIPCOM. The English-language show, about a martial arts monk who fights crime for the Catholic Church, features German actors Mathis Landwehr and Stephan Bieker. The series pilot, shooting in Germany and Belgium, also stars Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy) as a gangster boss who tries to escape the police by hiding among the Catholic faithful on their pilgrimage to Lourdes. RTL and M6 have picked up the two-hour, €5 million ($6.1 million) pilot with an option for the series. Action Concept is handling worldwide sales for the project. »

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Alien vs. Predator

9 September 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Alien vs. Predator combines two of Fox's best-known science fiction titles, but let's give an assist to a third, non-Fox title. That would be The Mummy. To bring together those Alien dudes, who prefer deep space, with Predator, invisible hunters that prefer the jungles and inner cities of Earth, British sci-fi director Paul W.S. Anderson places the action inside a pyramid. The pyramid is, bewilderingly, buried under Antarctic ice -- why would it be there? -- but once inside, "AVP" bears greater kinship to movies involving Egyptian corpses, Indiana Jones and Lara Croft.

Fox can count on young males to give the film above-average grosses and no doubt boost DVD sales of the six previous Alien and Predator movies. But asking "AVP" to reignite interest in more sequels involving these alien monsters, either together or apart, may be asking too much.

Back in 1979, Alien was a breakthrough science fiction work. Its artistic look and strategies for frightening audiences were downright revolutionary. But in this, the fifth outing for the slime-dripping, shape-changing creatures, the Aliens are looking a little dogged, perhaps ready for the Alien Retirement Home. Meanwhile, the Predator warriors, who never achieved the artistic heights of their counterpart, look better invisible. When visible, they resemble robotic can openers gone berserk.

Anderson, who wrote the script from a screen story by Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett and himself, finds a replacement for Sigourney Weaver's Ripley, the principal hero of the Alien films. The new heroine is Alexa "Lex" Woods, played with straightforward intensity by Sanaa Lathan. She leads a hastily assembled expedition down to the ancient pyramid underneath all that ice, a group thrown together by billionaire industrialist Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen).

Sebastian (Italian actor Raoul Bova), a guy who can miraculously read the ancient hieroglyphics that don't belong to any particular culture, is the first to puzzle out the expedition party's dilemma. It seems they have stumbled into a war between two alien races that has been going on for thousands of years.

It goes something like this: Predators like to hunt, and they especially like to hunt Aliens. Every hundred years, an Alien Queen, kept captive in the ice pyramid, lays hundreds of eggs. The Predators have lured the humans down to her lair to play their role as incubators to the offspring. Once they hatch, the Predator warriors will have a great time hunting and killing Aliens.

No, this is not a very smart premise, but how else to bring the two franchises together?

Shot in Prague and at a fairly modest price for a sci-fi monster film, "AVP" benefits from a stellar crew behind the camera. The most inventive thing is the set design by Richard Bridgland. The pyramid is a dark, diabolical maze that reconfigures itself every 10 minutes. This causes blocks of the floor, ceiling and walls to move this way and that, separating characters and trapping them in new and more frightening cubicle and passages.

The creatures, on the other hand, have grown too familiar. Whatever improvements the new designers, Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr., have made to H.R. Giger's original Alien design or Stan Winston's Predator creations, the boo factor is definitely missing.

ALIEN VS. PREDATOR

20th Century Fox

A Davis Entertainment Co./Brandywine production

Credits:

Screenwriter-director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Screen story: Paul W.S. Anderson, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett

Producers: John Davis, David Giler, Walter Hill

Executive producers: Wyck Godfrey, Thomas M. Hammel, Mike Richardson

Director of photography: David Johnson

Production designer: Richard Bridgland

Music: Harald Kloser

Co-producer: Chris Symes

Costume designer: Magali Guidasci

Visual effects supervisor: John Bruno

Editor: Alexander Berner

Cast:

Alexa Woods: Sanaa Lathan

Sebastian De Rosa: Raoul Bova

Charles Bishop Weyland: Lance Henriksen

Graeme Miller: Ewen Bremmer

Maxwell Stafford: Colin Salmon

MPAA rating: PG-13

Running time -- 110 minutes »

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Conran tapped for 'Princess'

30 July 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Alphaville's sci-fi adventure-action picture A Princess of Mars is closing in on a new captain: director Kerry Conran. Conran, whose Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, is set for release Sept. 17, is in negotiations to direct Princess, a Paramount-based production, as his next project. Conran entered the picture after former Princess director Robert Rodriguez resigned from the DGA earlier this year, making him ineligible to direct the Paramount tentpole. Based on the first book in Edgar Rice Burroughs' 11-volume John Carter of Mars series, the property is being developed as a major franchise. Alphaville's previous forays into the fantasy and f/x arena include The Mummy franchise and its spinoff The Scorpion King. »

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Aarniokoski nails 'Repairman' pic

15 June 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Helmer Douglas Aarniokoski, who frequently collaborates with Robert Rodriguez, is meeting up with Repairman Jack for Beacon Pictures, sources said. The project is described as Indiana Jones meets The Mummy, centering on a man for hire who tries to track down an elusive evil figure and save the world. Bill Borden and Barry Rosebush are producing along with Beacon Pictures, where it's being shepherded by company topper Armyan Bernstein and development and production topper Suzann Ellis. Originally written by Trevor Sands, the project was most recently handled by scribe Chris Morgan. Executives at Beacon could not be reached for comment. Aarniokoski is repped by ICM, Nine Yards Entertainment's Matt Luber and attorney Marc Golden at the law firm Gendler & Kelly. He also is attached to direct The Courier for Avi Lerner's Millennium Films and producers Willi Baer and Carmen Miller at their Eternity Pictures. For Rodriguez, Aarniokoski has directed second unit on Once Upon a Time in Mexico and was first assistant director on Spy Kids and From Dusk Till Dawn. »

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Boxoffice preview: 'Troy' poised to hit a homer

14 May 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

The forces of ancient Greece move to the forefront of the boxoffice battles this weekend as Warner Bros. Pictures launches its epic Troy in a lot more than 1,000 theaters. As the gods would have it, Troy appears fated to claim the top slot in the weekend standings once all the dust clears. Universal Pictures' Van Helsing, from director Stephen Sommers, which kicked off the summer last weekend with a $51.7 million debut, is probably facing a 50% falloff typical of horror fare. Currently, the movie is performing somewhat more robustly than Sommers' 1999 creature feature, The Mummy but not up to the level of 2001's The Mummy Returns. That suggests that the vampire-slaying flick will achieve a second-weekend haul somewhere around the $25 million mark and open up plenty of room for Warners' Trojan horse. »

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'Van Helsing's' creatures entrap $55.3 mil overseas

11 May 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

The tentpole season got off to a roaring start as Van Helsing, the first of the summer's megabuck entries, engulfed the overseas market with a smash $55.3 million from 5,204 screens in 41 territories. Of the total weekend boxoffice of the epic horror adventure, $51.7 million -- which came from markets controlled by production company Universal and offshore distributor United International Pictures -- represented the biggest opening ever for the longtime partners in overseas marketing. Van Helsing beat two previous creature features -- The Mummy ($46.4 million) and The Mummy Returns ($47.2 million). Highlights of the UIP-Universal day-and-date explosion were the United Kingdom's $9.9 million (with previews) from 458 sites, Germany's $7.4 million from 742, France (638 screens) and Spain (404 screens) with $4.9 million each and Australia with $3.6 million from 227. »

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'Van Helsing' a boxoffice killer

10 May 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Universal's Van Helsing staked out a prominent place at the boxoffice this weekend as the high-profile monster mash debuted with a worldwide gross of an estimated $104.7 million. The Stephen Sommers-directed horror-actioner scared up a domestic gross of $51.7 million to easily claim the top spot, while the international cume rose to an estimated $53 million from 41 countries and more than 5,000 screens, marking an international best for UIP and Universal. The North American debut for the Hugh Jackman starrer was the fourth-highest opening ever for the first weekend in May, which in the past few years has become the premier launching point for presummer tentpoles. Out of the top five openers on that weekend, Sommers' directing credit now resides on three of them: Universal's The Mummy Returns ($68.1 million), Van Helsing and The Mummy ($43.4 million). Sony's Spider-Man ($114.8 million) holds the top spot as well as the biggest opening in boxoffice history, and 20th Century Fox's X2: X-Men United ($85.6 million) is the second biggest on the first session in May. »

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'Van Helsing' a boxoffice killer

10 May 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Universal's Van Helsing staked out a prominent place at the boxoffice this weekend as the high-profile monster mash debuted with a worldwide gross of an estimated $107.2 million. The Stephen Sommers-directed horror-actioner scared up a domestic gross of an estimated $54.2 million to easily claim the top spot, while the international cume rose to an estimated $53 million from 41 countries and more than 5,000 screens, marking an international best for UIP and Universal. The North American debut for the Hugh Jackman starrer was the fourth-highest opening ever for the first weekend in May, which in the past few years has become the premier launching point for presummer tentpoles. Out of the top five openers on that weekend, Sommers' directing credit now resides on three of them: Universal's The Mummy Returns ($68.1 million), Van Helsing and The Mummy ($43.4 million). Sony's Spider-Man ($114.8 million) holds the top spot as well as the biggest opening in boxoffice history, and 20th Century Fox's X2: X-Men United ($85.6 million) is the second biggest on the first session in May. »

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'Van Helsing' a boxoffice killer

9 May 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Universal's Van Helsing staked out a prominent place at the boxoffice this weekend as the high-profile monster mash debuted with a worldwide gross of an estimated $107.2 million. The Stephen Sommers-directed horror-actioner scared up a domestic gross of an estimated $54.2 million to easily claim the top spot, while the international cume rose to an estimated $53 million from 41 countries and more than 5,000 screens, marking an international best for UIP and Universal. The North American debut for the Hugh Jackman starrer was the fourth-highest opening ever for the first weekend in May, which in the past few years has become the premier launching point for presummer tentpoles. Out of the top five openers on that weekend, Sommers' directing credit now resides on three of them: Universal's The Mummy Returns ($68.1 million), Van Helsing and The Mummy ($43.4 million). Sony's Spider-Man ($114.8 million) holds the top spot as well as the biggest opening in boxoffice history, and 20th Century Fox's X2: X-Men United ($85.6 million) is the second biggest on the first session in May. »

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Boxoffice preview: 'Van Helsing' opens summer hunt

7 May 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Does Van Helsing's nemesis, Count Dracula, have fangs? Hollywood jump-starts the summer this weekend as the first of the season's big titles, Universal Pictures' Van Helsing, plants its flag in 3,574 theaters. Director Stephen Sommers' hellzapoppin' resurrection of the classic Universal creatures -- Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolf Man -- moved into the summer kickoff position when Sony Pictures, which had originally laid claim to the date, moved its Spider-Man 2 to the Fourth of July weekend. (Spider-Man 2 is now set to bow June 30.) And that puts Van Helsing in the catbird seat. Sommers is no stranger to the early May slot. In 1999, his The Mummy bowed to $43.4 million on May 7, and two years later, he increased his winnings when The Mummy Returns debuted to $68.1 million. »

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10 items from 2004


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