§ The first images of Robert Downey as Tony Stark were released last week and according to director Jon Favreau, the oft-troubled star fits the role to a T:

“We didn’t want to just go with a safe choice,” Favreau says from the set of the film, due in theaters May 2, 2008. “The best and worst moments of Robert’s life have been in the public eye. He had to find an inner balance to overcome obstacles that went far beyond his career. That’s Tony Stark. Robert brings a depth that goes beyond a comic-book character who is having trouble in high school, or can’t get the girl. Plus, he’s simply one of the best actors around.”

§ Elsewhere, Downey, who has been hitting the gym five days a week, displays the now-requisite for actors comic book cred:

Downey knows a thing or two about comics. He prefers Marvel to D.C. comics. He liked Iron Man, “but mainly through his appearance with Avengers.” His favorite early heroes, he says, were the relatively obscure Sgt. Rock and Sgt. Fury.

§ It’s SPIDER-MAN week in NYC, and gossip-site TMZ shows Spidey is no flash in the pan! Star Tobey Maguire’s Spidey sense and camera-slapping reflexes are sharp as ever — Electro beware!

§ WHITEOUT is one of the 700 or so comic book movies currently in production and producer Joel Silver had a few things to say:

“I thought 300 would be successful, but I didn’t think it was going to be that big,” Silver says. “I think 2007 is going to be a very healthy time for action pictures, horror movies, genre movies.”

Whiteout stars Kate Beckinsale as Carrie Stetko, “a federal marshall in Antarctica, which is an area composed of scientists and blue collar workers, and that’s it. They never really had any crime there and now there’s murder. And then winter kicks in.

“We shot the out of door stuff on Lake Manitoba, 40 below. Believe me, we didn’t need fake snow out there. They built a set on the shore and we had to land out planes on that frozen lake. You could see the curvature of the earth on that lake, it was such a frozen expanse.”

§ However, the recent shooting at Virginia Tech may have cooled Hollywood’s ardor for extreme youth violence, including a proposed BATTLE ROYALE film based on the violent Japanese video game:

Mr. Lee said that the killings have seriously shaken the prospects for his “Battle Royale,” based on a Japanese video game in which ninth graders imprisoned on an island are forced to kill one another. (Lionsgate’s “The Condemned,” with a similar island face-off premise involving adults, opened this weekend to $4 million.) New Line Cinema has been working since last year for film rights to the game but has yet to sign a deal, according to Mr. Lee.

But he said that he was glad the movie had not started production before the Blacksburg killings. “We would have been slaughtered by the press,” he said.

Asked if he would still be willing to proceed with a “Battle Royale” movie, Mr. Lee said yes, though “we might be a little more sensitive to some of the issues.” A spokeswoman for New Line said she had “no news” about progress on the rights deal.


  1. The American movie was going to be based on the videogame and not the movie? That’s kind of odd.

    I wondered if they’d ever make one. I can’t imagine there’s a fan of the original movie that wants to see an American version no matter what they’re basing it on. No one wanted to see Billy Bob Thornton standing in front of a classroom of 24-year-old TV soap opera actors. Or John Travolta. Or The Rock.

    I’m trying to think of a movie that functioned for us back when we were kids the way this functions for cool nerdy kids now and I’m drawing a blank.

  2. For some reason I was under the impression that New Line was basing the American film, somewhat, on Keith Giffen’s manga translation, which has the students partaking in a reality TV show as opposed to being imprisoned due to anti-terrorism laws like in the original novel.

    Regardless of the source material, this article is irritating to me. I have to wonder how much ethnicity is an issue for Mr. Lee in remaking Battle Royale for American audiences, since, as the article points out, The Condemned has a nearly identical premise, but has had no problems opening.

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