In this Issue

Fantastic Four director talks details
Passion gets controversial
Sony ups its animation projects
Tidbits and Rumors

Fantastic Four director talks details

Peyton Reed, director of the proposed Fantastic Four movie, told SCI FI Wire that he hopes to tell a different kind of superhero story. "I didn't want to do a giant superhero movie, because there are a million of them now," Reed said in an interview. "Those Marvel properties all inherently have similar thematic stuff going on."

Reed said that he believes he and screenwriter Mark Frost have tapped into something that would make Fantastic Four "interesting and worth doing," but added that he was not at liberty to discuss specifics. "We're still so early on," Reed said. "We have to get the script done."

Reed (Bring It On) said that he doubted that his adaptation of the long-running Marvel comic will suffer from the same problems that plagued an earlier film version of The Fantastic Four, a Roger Corman-produced cheapie that went virtually unreleased after its completion in 1994. Most genre fans saw only bootleg copies of the film.

"That was just so hamstrung by budget," Reed said. "It cost, I think, $1 million. It was a pretty decent poster. You can't blame them for trying. To make that movie for $1 million, it's just a battle that's unwinnable."

As for his movie, Reed said that "there are people we're thinking about" for key characters such as Invisible Girl and Human Torch. But he added that no offers will be made until Frost completes his script. "It's just too early," Reed said.
Passion gets controversial

Monica Bellucci, who stars in Mel Gibson's upcoming Passion, downplayed to SCI FI Wire reports that the movie about Jesus Christ's last days would cast Jews in a bad light. Controversy has swirled around Gibson's pet project, which some fear may resurrect the canard that Jews killed Christ—a position formally denounced by the Catholic church. Gibson has previously taken issue with some of the church's more recent policies.

"It's so funny for me that everybody's talking about it being so controversial, and nobody's seen the movie," Bellucci said in an interview while promoting her upcoming sequel film The Matrix Reloaded. "Visually it's going to be something beautiful and strong, but ... everybody [already] knows the story. So I don't understand what can be so controversial." She added: "It's not the Jews. I mean, it was the political situation. It was the Romans who killed Jesus. They put Jesus on the cross, not the Jews."

But Bellucci acknowledged that she had not yet seen a finished version of Gibson's movie, which stars Jim Caviezel and was reportedly shot in ancient languages, such as Latin and Aramaic, with no subtitles. "We just finished about two months ago," she said. As for the controversy, she said, "It's good for us. It's good to be controversial. ... I have nothing against controversy." Passion is tentatively slated for an April 2004 release.

(Note from Granite: I really want to see this, particularly because it will not be in english, but rather in the languages of the historical period)
Sony ups its animation projects

Sony Pictures Animation has hired a raft of seasoned talent to create a slate of new computer-animated feature films, Variety reported. The company's goal is to produce movies on a par with Shrek, Ice Age and Toy Story, the trade paper reported. Among the projects under development:

•Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer is writing This Enchanted Forest, a fantasy comedy featuring his sardonic sensibility.
•The Lion King director Roger Allers and Brenda Chapman, who served as that film's story supervisor, will direct Tam Lin, loosely based on the Celtic folk ballad. Created by husband-and-wife artists Brian and Wendy Froud, the script will be written by Neil Gaiman (the English translation of Princess Mononoke).
•Jill Culton will direct and Anthony Stacchi will co-direct the comedy adventure Open Season, based on the work of cartoonist Steve Moore. Nat Mauldin (Doctor Dolittle) is writing the script, about wild animals who try to turn the tables on hunters.
•Twin brothers Paul and Gaetan Brizzi (Fantasia 2000) will direct Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, based on the children's book by Judi and Ron Barrett. Wayne Rice (Dude, Where's My Car?) will write the screenplay, about a land where food falls from the sky.
Tidbits and Rumors

Ashton Kutcher's agent told IGN FilmForce that rumors about his starring in a Knight Rider movie are only that. "It's a possibility, but that's all," the agent said."He hasn't even seen a script."
Ain't It Cool News reported a rumor that Marvel executive Avi Arad is in talks with George Clooney to take on the lead role of Reed Richards in its proposed Fantastic Four movie.
John Kent Harrison's A Wrinkle in Time, based on Madeleine L'Engle's classic book, received top honors at the sixth Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children, Variety reported.
Marvel chief executive Avi Arad told reporters that the proposed film version of the Fantastic Four comic series is being targeted for a Nov. 4, 2004, release, Cinescape Online reported