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The Animatrix Network is an anime & manga fan club located in the Southwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. We usually meet on the third Saturday of each month (except when holidays or conventions coincide). The meetings are free and open to the public. Join us for a day filled with anime.

This site provides news, reviews, commentaries, and previews of the world of anime and everything it inspires, such as live-action films, comics, music, art, and other weird things to enjoy and contemplate.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Newsletter - January 2011

Articles Collected and Edited by Octavio Soto
Manga Creators Oppose Bill, While PTA and Tokyo Governor Support It
On November 29, three manga creator groups — the Japan Cartoonists Association, the Copyright Network for Comic Authors in the 21st Century, and Manga Japan — announced their opposition to the bill. In their joint statements, the groups said that there is an extremely high risk that the bill would infringe on the freedom of expression due to the expansive scope of the proposed regulations. In particular, the groups assert that the restrictions against content that "unjustifiably glorify or exaggerate" are vague and unclear; the groups added that these regulations would deprive manga and anime of the diverse and versatile methods of expression that they currently have. 
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara advocated the previous and current versions of the bill. After manga creators who opposed the bill held a November 29 press conference, the broadcaster TV Asahi reported that Ishihara responded by saying, "Anyone who claims it's not harmful to children to draw manga that features the sex life of married couples and the such are idiots. Tell them, 'You need to go cool your heads.'" Ishihara responded to the Tokyo Parent Teacher Association's December 3 petition in support of the bill by saying, “It's not just about children. We've got homosexuals casually appearing even on television. Japan has become far too untamed. I'll go forward with [this bill] with a sense of mission in heart.”

News: Voice Actor Mark Dailey Passes Away at 57 posted on 2010-12-06 18:13 EST
Beyblade actor, Toronto news anchor loses battle to kidney cancer
Toronto TV news anchor and part-time voice actor Mark Dailey has passed away today due to complications from kidney cancer. Dailey, 57, has voice-acted in several anime series, including the Beyblade franchise as Brad Best, and as multiple characters in the Medabots franchise. Dailey was born in Ohio in 1953 and worked as a police officer before transitioning to full-time news reporter; he specialized in crime reporting. In 2009, Dailey celebrated his 30th anniversary with Toronto's CityTV, where he anchored the CityPulse and CityNews programs. Dailey announced his cancer diagnosis in September.

News: Kadokawa Shoten Cancels Its Tokyo Anime Fair Display (Update 3) posted on 2010-12-08 04:09 EST
President Shinichiro Inoue cites Tokyo's stance towards manga, anime creators
Shinichiro Inoue, the president of the Japanese media company Kadokawa Shoten, revealed on his Twitter account on Wednesday that his company has decided to cancel its display at next year's Tokyo International Anime Fair. Inoue said that his company cannot accept the stance that Tokyo has taken towards manga creators and people in the anime industry. 
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government submitted a revised bill to amend the Youth Healthy Development Ordinance at the end of last month. The current ordinance already prevents the sale and renting of "harmful publications" — materials that are "sexually stimulating, encourages cruelty, and/or may compel suicide or criminal behavior" — to people under the age of 18. The proposed Bill 156 would require the industry to also self-regulate the sale and renting of "manga, anime, and other images (except for real-life photography)" that "unjustifiably glorify or exaggerate" certain sexual or pseudo sexual acts. Another section of the revised bill would allow the government to directly restrict the sale and renting of the above images if the depicted acts are also "considered to be excessively disrupting of social order" such as rape. 
On November 29, three manga creator groups — the Japan Cartoonists Association, the Copyright Network for Comic Authors in the 21st Century, and Manga Japan — announced their opposition to the bill. 
Update: A half hour after Inoue made the Twitter post above, he thanked the many people who offered their words of support. 
Update 2: Translator Dan Kanemitsu notes that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is part of TAF's executive committee, and Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara also serves as the chairperson of that committee. Ishihara was a leading advocate of the previous amendment bill that was rejected in June, and he has been pushing the current revised bill. 
Update: Motoki Watase, the editor-publisher of the magazine Manga Hihyō, reported on Thursday that another major publishing company besides Kadokawa has decided not to display at TAF. According to Watase, this second company is also part of TAF's executive committee.

News: Adult Swim to Run More FMA: Brotherhood on January 9 posted on 2010-12-17 19:53 EST
U.S. TV programming block schedules at least 5 episodes in January-February
The online schedule of the Adult Swim programming block on America's Cartoon Network lists new Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood episodes starting at 1:00 a.m. on Sunday, January 9, 2011. The first new episode will be #27, "Interlude Party." The series will continue every Sunday morning in the same timeslot, and the online schedule lists up to episode 31, "The 520 Cens Promise," on February 6. The first 26 episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood premiered on Adult Swim on February 14 of this year. Episodes 27 to 39 are already available on Apple's iTunes Store in the United States.

News: Ad Parodies Japan on Climate Change with Spirited Away posted on 2010-12-10 13:00 EST
Citizen's group runs newspaper ad to criticize Japan's stance during climate summit
On Friday, the American citizen's group Avaaz published an ad in the Financial Times newspaper's international editions that uses images from the anime Spirited Away to criticize the Japanese government's stance in the ongoing climate summit. In particular, the ad incorporates a photograph of Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan into a key image from the anime film's English promotional campaign. The ad from Avaaz and another climate change organization called TckTckTck reads as follows:
Japan Presents
A Threatening to Abandon Kyoto Film
Climate treaty:
Washed Away?
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan is living in a
fantasy–imagining he can refuse a new Kyoto Protocol
commitment period without wrecking hopes for a global
climate treaty. As UN talks in Mexico bog down, the
world needs Kan to wake up: if he abandons Kyoto, the
climate treaty will be washed away!
The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference began at the Mexican city of Cancún on November 29, and it will end on Friday. Japan revealed at the conference that it will not accept future carbon emission targets; a consensus between the nations on future targets would be necessary to extend the current Kyoto Protocol agreement past its 2012 expiration date. 
According to the public relations department of Studio Ghibli (the anime company behind Spirited Away), the studio did not receive a request from Avaaz to use images from its film. The current Japanese Copyright Law requires permission from the copyright holders for any kind of copying or use, except for personal, library, or academic purposes. Japan does not have the same fair-use clauses that the United States and other countries have.

News: Tokyo's Youth Ordinance Bill Approved by Committee (Updated) posted on 2010-12-13 03:21 EST
Formal vote by full assembly on Wednesday
The general affairs committee of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly has approved the government's revised bill to amend the Youth Healthy Development Ordinance on Monday afternoon. Bill 156 will then go before the full assembly for a vote on Wednesday. The current ordinance already prevents the sale and renting of "harmful publications" — materials that are "sexually stimulating, encourages cruelty, and/or may compel suicide or criminal behavior" to people under the age of 18. Bill 156 would require the industry to also regulate "manga, anime, and other images (except for real-life photography)" that "unjustifiably glorify or exaggerate" certain sexual or pseudo sexual acts. Another section of the revised bill would allow the government to directly regulate the above images if the depicted acts are also "considered to be excessively disrupting of social order" such as rape. 
Update: The bill has a non-binding supplemental resolution urging newly designated harmful publications to be “carefully regulated, with the work's merits based on artistic, social, educational, and satirical criticism criteria to be taken into account in the evaluation process.” The government's Tokyo Youth Healthy Development Evaluation Panel is also urged to respect “the intent of the revision and take necessary steps, such as increasing the time involved in the evaluation process.” 
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan wrote in his blog on Monday:
There is another topic I would like to talk about concerning [the strength of] the Japanese brand. Currently, there are concerns over the possibility that the Tokyo International Animation Fair could be cancelled due to controversies related to the healthy development of youth issues. Healthy development of youth is an important issue. At the same time, it is important that Japanese animation is broadcast to a global audience. I urge all parties involved to try to work toward preventing a situation where an international animation fair cannot be held within Tokyo
Shueisha senior managing director and editor Kazuhiko Torishima said at the New Manga Creators Awards ceremony on Monday: “I want new manga authors to produce manga that would blow away [Tokyo Governor] Shintaro Ishihara.” Masahiko Ibaraki, the editor-in-chief of Shueisha's third editorial department, added to the new manga creators, "Don't let the chilling effect [of increased regulation] stop you from doing material you want to do. Jump will feature anything [we feel] that is exciting [to read].“ 
Update 2: The Mobile Content Forum, an industry group that includes the social networking company DeNA and Nico Nico Douga's Dwango, announced its opposition to the bill on Monday. A group of female creators, including boys-love genre authors, also announced their opposition to the bill on Sunday.

News: Full Tokyo Assembly Passes Youth Ordinance Bill posted on 2010-12-15 00:36 EST
Self-regulation clauses go into effect on April 1; restrictions on sales on July 1
The full Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly approved the government's revised bill to amend the Youth Healthy Development Ordinance on Wednesday afternoon. The current ordinance already prevents the sale and renting of "harmful publications" — materials that are "sexually stimulating, encourages cruelty, and/or may compel suicide or criminal behavior" to people under the age of 18. Bill 156 would require the industry to also regulate "manga, anime, and other images (except for real-life photography)" that "unjustifiably glorify or exaggerate" certain sexual or pseudo sexual acts. Another section of the revised bill would allow the government to directly regulate the above images if the depicted acts are also "considered to be excessively disrupting of social order" such as rape. The assembly also approved a non-binding supplemental resolution urging newly designated harmful publications to be carefully regulated, with the work's merits based on artistic, social, and other criteria to be taken into account in the evaluation process. The voluntary self-regulation clauses will go into effect on April 1 of next year, and the restrictions on sales and renting will go into effect on July 1.

News: U.S. Supreme Court Deadlocks on 1st-Sale Doctrine Case posted on 2010-12-13 19:45 EST
Circuit court's decision on imported goods stands after 4-4 deadlock
On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its affirmation (PDF) by deadlock on Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Omega, S.A., a court case about the application of the first-sale doctrine to imported goods. At least for domestic goods, the doctrine allows the purchaser of a copyrighted work to sell or give away the work without its creator's permission after the first transaction or sale is made. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had decided (PDF) that the doctrine does not apply to imported goods, and thus a copyright holder can restrict the sale of imported goods. The Supreme Court affirmed this decision. 
A lower district court had previously ruled in favor of Costco by virtue of the first-sale doctrine, but Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's decision after Omega appealed. The Ninth Circuit ruled that Costco did not have the right of the first-sale because the works in question — watches by Omega and displaying Omega's logo — had been made outside of the United States and had not originally been sold into the country with Omega's permission. 
The Supreme Court's affirmation of the Ninth Circuit decision was split 4-4, with recently confirmed Justice Elena Kagan recused and thus not contributing a vote. As a result of the tie vote, the Supreme Court will not hear the case, and the previous decision made by the Ninth Circuit stands. However, since the Supreme Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit's ruling by deadlock instead of actually hearing the case, no legal precedent has been made that is binding to future cases outside the Ninth Circuit (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands). While the original case involved watches, the Association of American Publishers issued a brief this past September in favor of upholding the Ninth Circuit ruling, and the association said that the ruling is an important one for all publishers. A decision on first-sale doctrine's application to imports could affect imported items into the United States, including Japanese manga and anime goods. The Berne Convention grants foreign copyrighted materials the same copyright recognition in the United States as American copyrighted materials. A U.S. District Court had ruled in 2008 that the first-sale doctrine did not apply to imported textbooks.

News: Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal TV Anime's Promo Video Streamed posted on 2010-12-17 21:27 EST
TV Tokyo's 4th Yu-Gi-Oh! anime to debut next spring in evenings; manga launched
The Japanese broadcaster TV Tokyo has launched a website for the new Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal anime series with a one-minute promotional video. The anime will premiere next spring in "Golden Time" — the popular evening timeslots — on TV Tokyo and its network affiliates nationwide. The video features Yūma Tugumo, the new 13-year-old main character in middle school, and Astral, the mysterious lifeform from a parallel world who suddenly appears before Yūma. The new series will be the fourth one in the franchise to air on TV Tokyo after Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monster GX, and the current Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's. The manga version is already launching in the expanded February issue of Shueisha's V Jump magazine on Saturday.

News: Satoshi Kon's Short Manga Stories to be Published (Updated) posted on 2010-12-22 11:52 EST
Kodansha to also reprint the late Paprika director's 1st manga series, Kaikisen
The official website of the late director Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Paprika) announced on Monday that Kodansha will publish Kon's first manga series and a complete collection of his short manga stories next year. The publisher will first reprint Kon's Kaikisen series (pictured at right) on January 21, 2011. As Kon's first manga series, Kaikisen ran for 11 installments in Kodansha's Weekly Young Magazine from March to June of 1990. Kodansha had previously published the series in one compiled book volume in 1990 and again in a new edition in 1999. 
Kodansha will then publish Yume no Kaseki Kon Satoshi Zen-Tanpen (Fossils of Dreams: Satoshi Kon's Complete Short Story Collection) on February 17. The 400-page book will contain the first collection of all 15 short manga stories that Kon created. The collection begins with "Toriko," Kon's 1984 manga debut that won the Tetsuya Chiba Award for new artists, but never ran in a magazine. (Kon's story has no relation to the later manga by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro.) The last story in the upcoming book is "Bashō-Ō no Bōken" ("The Adventures of the Venerable Bashō," 1988). 11 of the stories have never been compiled in book form before, and one of the stories, "Picnic," will be reproduced entirely in color as it was first published. 
Tokuma Shoten's Animage magazine reprinted part of Kon and Mamoru Oshii's Seraphim: 2-Oku 6661-Man 3336 no Tsubasa (Seraphim: 266,613,336 Wings) manga series earlier this year. Kodansha then reprinted the entire Seraphim series on December 4, as well as Kon's Opus manga on December 13. Madhouse announced last month that it resumed production on Yume-Miru Kikai, Kon's unfinished last feature film.

News: Kyojin no Hoshi's Kawasaki Refuses Tokyo Anime Award posted on 2010-12-29 03:56 EST
Champion RED editor reports that Noboru Kawasaki cites Tokyo youth bill as reason
Jun Itō, the editor-in-chief of Akita Shoten's Champion RED magazine, told manga creator Takeshi Nogami that fellow creator Noboru Kawasaki (Kyojin no Hoshi baseball manga) is refusing an award that would have been given at next year's Tokyo International Anime Fair (TAF). According to the editor-in-chief, Tokyo contacted Kawasaki about attending the event to receive the award. Kawasaki then contacted Machiko Satonaka, the manga creator of Lady Ann and the executive director of the Japan Cartoonists Association. Satonaka told Kawasaki that it was ultimately his decision, but she also gave him the details about the recently passed amendment to the Tokyo Youth Healthy Development Ordinance. (The amendment will expand the number of manga and anime that fall under "harmful publications," the legal category of works that must not be sold or rented to people under the age of 18.) As a result, Kawasaki decided to refuse the award. The people from Tokyo then suggested that Kawasaki can receive the award on any other day besides TAF, but he refused again. Kawasaki is best known for creating the classic baseball manga and anime Kyojin no Hoshi, which will mark its 45th anniversary next year. Nogami is collaborating with anime writer and setting advisor Takaaki Suzuki (Strike Witches, Last Exile) and translator Dan Kanemitsu (new Evangelion films, Love Hina) on a dōjinshi (self-published work) about the recently passed amendment.

The Japan Cartoonists Association is one of several organizations that opposed the amendment, and Akita Shoten joined the nine other manga publishers in Comic 10-Shakai in boycotting TAF because of the amendment. Eight media companies are holding a new event called Anime Contents Expo on the same March weekend that TAF scheduled its two public days.

News: Gonzo Anime Studio Returns to Profitability This Year posted on 2010-12-29 12:33 EST
Restructured studio reported 47 million yen in net profit in 1st half of fiscal year
The anime studio Gonzo revealed on Monday that it earned 74 million yen (about US$900,000) in operating profit or 28 million yen (US$340,000) in ordinary profit during the first half of the fiscal year ending in March 2011. The first half ran from March to September of 2010. Gonzo's reported net profit did drop from 82 million yen (US$1 million) in the same period last year to 47 million yen (US$570,000). However, Gonzo was only able to report a net profit in that period last year because 339 million yen (US$4.12 million) in debt was forgiven, so the actual profit was greater this year. In the past year, Gonzo was involved in several animated sequences for games, such as Crackdown 2 (Riot Act 2) and Arcadia Saga. Gonzo told ANN during March's Tokyo International Anime Fair (TAF) that it was developing a potential Spring 2011 project that would take advantage of the new stereoscopic 3D televisions now entering the marketplace. Gonzo then confirmed in September that Range Murata (Blue Submarine No. 6, Last Exile, Solty Rei, Shangri-La) worked on character designs for a new anime scheduled to air next year. Gonzo announced in August that it was recruiting new animation staff members. Gonzo is working with the Malaysian animation studio Funcel and Malaysia's National Film Development Corporation to produce an adventure animation series called Satria - The Warriors of the 7 Elements for Fall 2012. Hiroyuki Kitakubo (Blood: The Last Vampire) is involved, although he states that he is only an advisor. Gonzo is also looking to work on a collaborative project with a major Chinese media firm. Gonzo was established in 1992 when anime producer Shouji Murahama left Gainax to start his own company. Gonzo merged with Shinichiro Ishikawa's Digimation company in 2000 and a new parent company was formed, GDH (Gonzo Digimation Holdings). The Nihon Keizai Shimbun paper reported last year that GDH was restructuring its anime production operations after GDH asked 20% of its workforce to "voluntarily retire" in 2008. GDH has since absorbed Gonzo and adopted the Gonzo name for itself.

News: Comic Market to Stay at Tokyo Big Sight Next Summer (Update 3) posted on 2010-12-30 07:40 EST
Comiket 80 on August 12-14 after Tokyo's youth ordinance amendment takes effect
The Mainichi Shimbun paper's Mantan Web site reports that the Tokyo Big Sight event center will again host Comic Market (Comiket), the world's largest dōjinshi convention, next summer. Comic Market 80 will take place August 12-14, after the recently passed amendment to the Tokyo Youth Healthy Development Ordinance goes into effect. The current Comic Market 79 event is running from Wednesday to Friday, and 160,000 came on the first day.
The amendment will expand the number of manga and anime that fall under "harmful publications," the legal category of works that must not be sold or rented to people under the age of 18. 10 manga
 publishers announced earlier this month that they would boycott next year's Tokyo International Anime Fair (TAF), which is also slated to be held in Tokyo Big Sight, because of the amendment. Eight media companies are holding a new event called Anime Contents Expo on the same March weekend that TAF scheduled its two public days. 
Comic Market first ran in 1975, and it moved to its current Tokyo Big Sight home in 1996. Comic Market reported a turnstile attendance of 560,000 during its last two summer events. 510,000 are expected at the ongoing Comic Market 80. 35,000 circles sell works that they published themselves over the three days of the event. 
One of Comic Market's several previous homes was Makuhari Messe, the complex just east of Tokyo that will host Anime Contents Expo in March. Besides Comic Market, Tokyo Big Sight also hosts the Tokyo Toy Show and other events. Makuhari Messe hosts the Tokyo Game Show and Shueisha's Jump Festa. 
Update: Mantan Web reports that the Comic Market organizers is distributing a pamphlet detailing the important points of the amended ordinance to the dōjinshi circle sellers. The staff members will take other steps to ensure that they can run the event after the amendment takes effect. 
Update 2: 160,000 people also came on the second day of Comic Market 79, which was Thursday. 
Update 3: Dan Kanemitsu notes that Comic Market is already distributing the pamphlet: "The Comic Market Committee publishes the Comiket Appeal, an information booklet regarding how the event is run, how circles are expected operate, what are the rules, what are the changes, maps, history of the Comic Market, etc. It has a section in it that informs circles what the laws they need to keep in mind."

News: Saiyuki Creator Kazuya Minekura Returns from Surgery posted on 2010-12-31 03:25 EST
Part of her jawbone with noncancerous growth removed; manga still on hiatus 
Saiyuki manga creator Kazuya Minekura reported on her blog on Tuesday that she returned from the hospital without incident. She had placed her manga on hiatus and had undergone surgery for ameloblastoma, a noncancerous tumor on her right upper jawbone. She noted that she received thousands of paper cranes to wish her well, and even her doctors and nurses remarked that they have never seen so many before. She thanked everyone who supported her. While she is returning to life at home, she is still on hiatus from her manga work. She already had a previous operation, but the latest surgery removed the right half of her upper jawbone. The teeth on that part of her jawbone and the bone between her nose and mouth were also removed. As a result, she cannot eat food well, and she also cannot pronounce words properly. While the surgery spared the bone around her left eye, she did lose part of the bone around her right eye. Also as a result of the surgery, she lost the sense of touch on the skin on the right side of her face for the rest of her life, although her facial muscles can move normally. Minekura is being fitted with artificial prosthetics to reconstruct the area around the lost bone.

News: 2011 Fullmetal Alchemist Film Opens July 2, 2011 After Festival posted on 2011-01-01 01:40 EST
Aniplex's official email newsletter and website for Fullmetal Alchemist revealed on Saturday that the Fullmetal Alchemist: Milos no Sei-Naru Hoshi film will open in Japan on July 2. Aniplex also announced that there will be a Fullmetal Alchemist Festival 2011 event on May 22 in Tokyo. The voice cast and the musical artists behind the theme songs are slated to appear.

News: T.M. Revolution on Hiatus Due to Inflamed Vocal Cords posted on 2011-01-04 08:48 EST
Sengoku Basara/Gundam Seed singer ordered to rest vocal cords for at least a week
Takanori Nishikawa, the singer better known as T.M. Revolution, revealed on Tuesday afternoon that he has to stop singing for at least a week due to acute inflammation of his vocal cords. According to the doctor's orders (pictured below) that Nishikawa posted online, the doctor discovered a polyp on the singer's left vocal cord. As a result, the doctor prescribed a week of silence during which Nishikawa cannot use his voice except for daily conversation. 
Nishikawa noted that he had been overextending himself from the end of last year through Japan's New Year's holidays. He performed as recently as Monday during the "Sengoku Basara 5th Anniversary Festival ~Budōkan Party~" event. The singer assured his fans that he will return to performing as soon as he can. Besides Sengoku Basara Two, Nishikawa sang theme songs for Bleach: Jigoku-hen, D.Gray-man, Darker than BLACK, Mobile Suit Gundam Seed, Rurouni Kenshin, and Soul Eater.

News: Borders Delays Payments as Execs Depart posted on 2011-01-04 18:23 EST
Two executives at the media store chain Borders have resigned; Executive Vice President General Counsel Thomas Carney and Senior Vice President Chief Information Officer D. Scott Laverty resigned on Sunday and Monday, respectively. The Publishers Marketplace and The New York Times newspaper reported that Borders informed major publishers last week that it would be delaying payments which the bookstore chain owes to them. Company representatives will meet with publishers this week to discuss the company's plans. Borders spokeswoman Mary Davis also denied rumors that Borders is suffering from a liquidity crisis. This past August, the company laid off 128 workers from its Michigan headquarters.

News: 3 More Executives at Borders Store Chain Resign posted on 2011-01-05 22:15 EST
Three more top executives of national media store chain Borders left the company this week: Senior Vice President Business Development Larry Norton, Vice President Real Estate Tony Grant, and Senior Vice President of Marketing Bill Dandy. They join former Executive Vice President/General Counsel Thomas Carney and former Senior Vice President/Chief Information Officer D. Scott Laverty, who all left Borders earlier in the week. This string of resignations are happening in parallel with the financial troubles that the bookstore chain is having with its publishers. Borders representatives are meeting with major New York publishers this week to negotiate new terms. The Wall Street Journal newspaper explains that Borders is asking these publishers to push back due dates of bills, giving the company time to refinance.

News: Weinstein Buys 25% of Manga Ent. Parent Starz Media posted on 2011-01-05 21:03 EST
 Manga Entertainment's British arm revealed on its Twitter account on Wednesday that the Los Angeles-based Weinstein Company has acquired a 25% minority stake in Starz Media, the parent company of Manga Entertainment and Anchor Bay. According to the Los Angeles Times newspaper, the deal also includes a five-year distribution deal under which Starz Media will handle DVD and digital distribution for the film company. The Weinstein Company paid an undisclosed amount for the stake. In North America, Manga Entertainment holds the license to a variety of anime titles such as Ghost in the Shell, and it handles digital releases and other forms of distribution for a variety of titles, including Bandai Entertainment's Gurren Lagann. Sibling company and distributor Anchor Bay has also listed such licenses as First Squad - The Moment Of Truth and Redline. 

Cate Blanchett And More Join The Hobbit Posted December 8, 2010 - By Joseph Baxter
The already huge cast of the 3D two-part epic The Hobbit only continues to grow with the latest announcement from Warner and MGM of the next acquisitions. At the front of this group, is none other than Cate Blanchett, who will be reprising her role of Galadriel from the Lord of the Rings films. The addition of the Galadriel character, who is not in the original book, actually confirms rumors that have been swirling for years that Peter Jackson and the creative team will be taking plenty of liberties in order to stretch this single novel into two whole films. (Which, for the record, is a good thing.) ...And just to name more of those confirmed liberties, the rumors of former Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy joining the cast as wizard Radagast the Brown, another character not in this book, has also been legitimized. Additionally, an actor has been cast for the (again, not in the book) role of Drogo Baggins, father of the future-ring-bearing Frodo. However, there is some news for purists of the book, as we now have faces to go with character favorite from the book in shape-shifter Beorn and members of Bilbo's Dwarf companion party in Balin, Bifur, and Nori. We're keeping close tabs on The Hobbit cast, so let's take a further look at where things stand.
I don't think we need to cover Cate Blanchett, but let's take a look at the other newly-confirmed cast who will be joining star Martin Freeman and company:
Sylvester McCoy: "Radagast the Brown"
Best known to Who fans as the Seventh Doctor, McCoy has been a mainstay in British TV before and after his long tenure in the TARDIS. His role as Radagast, the brown-clad wizard who is somewhat of a bumbling couterpart to Gandalf, is known for his communion with nature and beasts. According to imdb (for what it's worth,) he's listed as being set for The Hobbit: Part 2 in 2013. This would seem consistent with the idea of having characters anachronistic to the book, since, pacing being critical with Smaug the Dragon dominating the first film, the second film will need all the help it can get content-wise.
Ken Stott: "Balin"
The Scottish actor, besides roles in British TV, has appeared in films like Charlie Wilson's War, King Arthur (you know, the one with Keira Knightley's tight bod on display,) and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Of course, it would hardly be a spoiler to reveal that this Dwarf Lord would be destined for death at the hands of goblins deep in the Mines of Moria, as it was in his tomb, with a weepy Gimli, in The Fellowship of the Rings, where the group had that epic battle with the goblins and their cave troll.
Mikael Persbrandt: "Beorn"
With a long resume on TV in his home country, the Sweedish actor will get international breakthrough with the role of the beloved shape-shifter. Unceremoniously ignored in the famous 1977 animated TV movie of The Hobbit, Beorn will finally get his props on the big screen and kick some goblin ass, likely in his favorite form, a giant black bear. It's time to bite off the faces of some bad guys!
Ryan Gage: "Drogo Baggins"
Known primarily from his work on the UK stage and some British TV, notably the recent version of Hamlet starring former Doctor Who (and rumored Hobbit cast member) David Tennant, this young Brit will find himself playing the would-be father of the bearer/destroyer of the One Ring. In all likelihood, this will be a minor role, relegated to the bookend scenes of the films beginning and ending in the Shire. If anything, this news might squelch the old rumors implying that Elijah Wood would have returned to play the role of his own character's father.
Jed Brophy: "Nori"
With this Kiwi actor, we're actually getting an alumnus of Peter Jackson's Tolkien films. You may remember him from The Two Towers as Sharku, the captain of the warg-riding orcs who, in his dying act, tied Aragorn's hand to the saddle of his beast and sent him over a cliff. Brophy has also been seen in other Jackson films like Heavenly Creatures, King Kong, as another orc in Return of the King, and in the Jackson-produced District 9. His dwarf character Nori, like his brother in Ori (Adam Brown), are known as flute players. (Which hopefully will be kept to a minimum in the film.)
William Kircher: "Bifur"
One look at this Kiwi actor and you can't help but think for brief second that, to the elation of fans, Peter Jackson has cast Bruce Campbell in The Hobbit. -- Not so. However, as cool it would be to see the monstrous primitive screwheads threatening Middle Earth to meet the wrong end of a boomstick, I'm sure he'll be able to entertain. Last seen on TV's Legend of the Seeker, Kircher will play Bifur, one of a trio of dwarf cousins along with Bombur (Stephen Hunter) and Bofur (James Nesbitt.)

DC's Raven Set For TV Series On The CW: Thoughts? Posted December 6, 2010 - By Joseph Baxter
It seems that the Teen Titans' leggy, psionic-powered half-demon Raven will be the next DC Comic property to grace the small screen. According to the report from Variety over the weekend, the CW, set at the end of this season to send-off its longtime superhero drama Smallville, will look to adapt the powerful demoniac temptress as its genre-similar replacement. Set to serve as Writer and Executive Producer, is Diego Gutierrez, who will be bringing loads of experience from his time as Co-Exec Producer on ABC's revival of V, as well as serving in various capacities on Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. While the CW network has recently reinvented itself to focus on "teen" type shows like Gossip Girl, it's also managed to maintain shows with a bit of an edge like Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, as well as this season's new show Nikita. While Raven may seem like an odd DC property to use, taking the network's lineup of shows consisting of teen drama, monsters, and femme fatale's into consideration, it's actually a perfect fit. The question is, how will they approach her story?
Raven was the daughter of DC's notorious outer-dimensional demon Trigon, who mated with a human female to produce an offspring for the purpose of being his living portal to our dimension. So...yeah, it will definitely be interesting to see how they handle not only Raven's story, but exactly what she's going to do in each episode. (Assuming that the Teen Titans will not be a part of the storyline.) However, even if the show follows a standalone canon, the idea of Raven's constant struggle with the overwhelming powers from her demon half, and perhaps an ongoing quest to foil Trigon's arrival on Earth, just might be enough to serve as workable plot. Regardless, on paper, it seems to have present all the tools that make a show that would be on the CW in the post-Twilight era of drama surrounding the "tortured, but beautiful."  
With David E. Kelly shopping his Wonder Woman project for a network, loose rumors of a Batman TV series possibly set to hit sometime after the last Christopher Nolan Bat-film in 2012's The Dark Knight Rises, and a boat-load of Marvel TV projects on the horizon, Raven would be joining a growing group of comic heroes set to enjoy the spotlight on TV. Likely, the CW is going to inject it with its brand of superficial, self-pitying teen issues and plenty of gratuitous slow-motion bod shots. However, the same could have been said on paper many years ago about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and, of course, Joss Whedon managed to turn a questionable TV adaptation of a movie comedy into one of the most compelling and beloved TV universes ever. So, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss Raven just yet.

Marvel Studios Head Drops Answers About Upcoming Films Posted December 13, 2010 - By Joseph Baxter
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige recently sat down for a chat Q&A with LA Times' Hero Complex. Answering a barrage of questions submitted by rabid fans which spit-balled several subjects related to the plethora of Marvel movie properties both within and outside the studio, Marvel's head movie honcho was actually quite candid on some of the Internet community's most pressing questions. What's the status of Deadpool? What's going on with those rumored ten-minute short films? Will Iron Man be sporting new armor in 2012's The Avengers? The result of questions just like that, was an overwhelming flow of information, which, thanks to a recap from Collider, have been reduced to clear bullet points. There's just SO much stuff to cover here, but we're going to take a quick look at some of the revelations we were able to take away and what they mean.
Avengers-Related News: (Recapped from Collider)
Iron Man will have new armor in The Avengers
Says the next 3 years he’s working on Iron Man 3, The Runaways, Ant-Man and The Avengers
Don Blake is somehow referenced in Thor
Edgar Wright is still working on the screenplay for Ant-Man
We should be seeing the Captain America trailer early next year
Wants to bring female heroes to the big screen
Claims Natalie and Chris have amazing chemistry in Thor
Nick Fury will stay in the modern era
No Invaders in Captain America but there will be Howling Commandoes [sic] 
The Avengers stuff obviously contains some of the juicier tidbits from the chat. With Thor, having just come off last weekend's big trailer debut, fan enthusiasm has never been higher for this film. We've actually known for some time that the comic origin of the Asgardian Avenger would be altered to omit the depiction of the essence of the exiled Thor inhabiting the body of disabled Med Student Donald Blake. However, the inclusion of a Blake reference, (perhaps in a "secret identity" type context) is welcome news. Also, Iron Man sporting brand new armor in The Avengers was kind of expected, but nevertheless, is still big news. It will be interesting to see if we get a version of the armor that's more of a homage to Iron Man's classic comic looks.
The other stuff is kind of a "wait and see" thing, but it was noteworthy that Feige pointed out that Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury would stay in the modern era. It's a distinction that may have confirmed that he would not be leading the Howling Commandos when they appear in the World War II-set Captain America: The First Avenger. We can also take the blurb about more female heroes as being Avengers news, since the original question made reference to the need for more female Avengers team members like Ms. Marvel and Mockingbird. It's also good to know that Edgar Wright's Ant-Man is still moving along. Hank Pym is one of Marvel's most underrated heroes, it's about time he gets his moment in the spotlight.
Other Marvel Movie News: (Recapped from Collider)
Mentions his love of Dr. Strange, Black Panther, and Luke Cage
They are working on The Punisher. No word if it’s TV or live-action
A very talented writer is currently working on a draft of Iron Fist right now
Open to an R-Rated Marvel movie
Says some of the upcoming Marvel movies will have after the credit scenes
The ten-minute shorts before the features was just a rumor.
Says Fox is still working on a Deadpool movie
The debunking of the rumored ten-minute short films is kind of disappointing. While from a logistical standpoint, lower-budget shorts would have worked well, I guess there was the danger of diluting the Marvel brand. (Even more than current levels.) Nevertheless, some of these "fringe" projects that were once pegged for those short films like Dr. Strange, Black Panther (which may tie into the Avengers films,) Luke Cage (aka: Power Man,) and even The Punisher (now thankfully back in the hands of Marvel) still seem to have signs of life. The most notable of that bunch, is Iron Fist, who it was already reported last summer would feature a script from Rich Wilkes (xXx,) who we can assume was the "talented writer" Feige mentions. And lastly, while Feige may not be in a position to give an official answer about Fox's Deadpool film, his position must keep him in the loop to know that the project, prospectively starring Ryan Reynolds, is still alive and likely R-rated with all the foul language and gore that quite frankly, is obligatory with the character.It's clear that Marvel has no plans to slow down the barrage of film properties it has lined-up. From a fan's perspective, it appears we could be on the brink of some exciting times. However, one could also see it as the moment where a fad reaches its climax in a very messy way. Is Marvel keeping tabs on the sheer volume of content that's set for the next few years? Given that there are quite a few major Marvel movie properties that are scattered outside of their influence over at Sony and Fox (Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men,) there's always the possibility that someone else could jump that shark before they even got the chance.
Is Jon Favreau Leaving The Iron Man Series? Posted December 14, 2010 - By Joseph Baxter
Could Jon Favreau be finished calling the shots with the Iron Man series? According to a report from New York Magazine's Vulture, this may be the case. While nothing has been confirmed (*see update below) and the exact reason for his apparent exit was not made clear, speculation has been abound that the relationship between Favreau and Marvel has been fizzling out. According to the report, the search for a new director for Iron Man 3 has already begun. Indeed, it would be quite a blow to the series to lose the director who, doubling on screen as Tony Stark's friend Happy Hogan, did such a tremendous job giving the series a nice balance between pure action, comedy, and character development. It's an admirable feat to get such well-rounded films, considering that the series is essentially about a billionaire who creates a suit of armor to burn terrorists and beat the crap out of evil industrialists. So, what's the reasoning behind this parting of the ways? There are some theories.

One theory centers on a creative conflict. When looking at a project with such an ambitious scope as Joss Whedon's The Avengers in 2012, the future of the Iron Man series is not only at the mercy of the mega-movie's production schedule, but exactly what it will do with its main character. The film in question, Iron Man 3 was recently announced for 2013 after the upcoming trilogy of crossover films, culminating in The Avengers. Therein lies a supposed disconnect between Favreau and the still non-existent expectations Marvel has for this third film. With no script, continued pressure to include a variety of characters from the Marvel Universe, Favreau has openly expressed his confusion and frustration about the increasingly complex movie continuity. The other theory for his exit, is financial. Coming off a $10 million payday for Iron Man 2, it seems that the success of the Iron-films, along with auspicious numbers for his upcoming projects Cowboys & Aliens and Disney's Magic Kingdom (yes, they're making a movie about Disneyland,) have driven-up the price tag for the actor-turned-director to a level that may be too high for the studio's comfort. The report speculates that his asking price this time might be as high as $15 million, with 15% of the film's gross. Keeping in mind that Iron Man grossed about $585 million and Iron Man 2 grossed almost $622 million, we're looking at quite a hefty payday for part three. With star Robert Downey Jr. also having a portion of the till allocated for him, as well, you do get the impression that Disney, who have already spent $4 billion to acquire Marvel last year, are starting to see Favreau as replaceable. However, with the contract of star Robert Downey Jr. giving him a say in who directs the film, it will be interesting to see if things get messy if he decides to stand behind Favreau. 
Iron Man 3 was recently given a release date of May 3, 2013, which actually came as quite surprise considering what Marvel already has on its plate. That's still quite a while away, so I can't imagine that a potential scramble for a new director would change that. How it will affect the film itself, is an entirely different question. Some argue that even without these issues, the Favreau-directed Iron Man 2 was inferior to its predecessor because it was too far reaching in what it tried to do, which threw off the pacing. Would a change in directors have made things different?

ABC To Bring Marvel's Jessica Jones To TV Posted December 17, 2010 - By Joseph Baxter
It appears that yet another Marvel Comics property is making its way to the small screen to join Guillermo del Toro and David Eick's Incredible Hulk on ABC. While asking most people if they know the character of Jessica Jones might evoke a response like "you mean that chick from Mad Men?", your more informed comic book fanatic would know her as the main character of the title from Marvel's mature "Max" label, Alias. (No relation to the JJ Abrams she-spy show, which coincidentally enough, aired on ABC.) Going by the title AKA Jessica Jones, the project is being head by writer and exec-producer Melissa Rosenberg who, besides screenwriting credits on the Twilight movies, had a hand in shows like Dexter, The O.C., and even some comic book cred with the short-lived Birds of Prey, which featured on DC heroine, Huntress. (The version from an alternate future that was the daughter of Batman and Catwoman.) Set for Fall of 2011, Jessica Jones will be the first show to be released under Rosenberg's Tall Girls production banner which will focus on shows with "large, complex female roles." So, what will we be getting? Will superpowers and some comic book connections bring something new to the table of the growing femme fatale genre?  Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, the character was introduced in 2001 as super-powered private investigator with a retconned origin loosely connected to Spider-Man's, as a woman who gains super strength, durability, and flight after a car accident that killed her family exposed her to radioactive material. However, after a less than successful stint as a costumed hero called Jewel, her present was shown as a gritty career in street clothes as owner of Alias Private Investigations. With a relationship to Marvel hero Luke Cage (who is rumored to be in the running for a movie,) that results in their marriage, as well as a stint with the New Avengers, Jessica's ran quite a gamut in just under decade. As the report describes her TV character:  "Jessica, now in her early 30s, decides to keep far away from others gifted with superpowers and to open her own detective agency. But once she settles down, she realizes she still has a drive to help people -- and finds herself assisting other superheroes." We could possibly be in store for a show with a bad-ass female who, unlike the others we see on TV and movies, isn't all that self-assured and carries an ambivalence with which audiences might identify. While she'll undoubtedly be gorgeous and sexual, and her superpowers may be larger than life, her day-to-day problems may not necessarily be the hybrid of the plot of some Bond film and a Penthouse forum letter. In fact, Rosenberg describes her new show's character as "deeply flawed but with a biting sense of humor." With creators Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos on board as consultants, the show will also have Marvel TV head Jeph Leob, and Marvel exec Joe Quesada watching over things. With the show designated for a Fall 2011, it will likely beat the Del Toro/Eick Hulk project to the punch as the first of what's looking to be several comic book properties making their way to TV by both Marvel and DC.

Inception Actor Pete Postlethwaite Dies Posted 5 days ago - By Stephen Johnson
Inception and Clash of the Titans star Pete Postlethwaite has died over the weekend after a long battle with cancer. He was 64.
Although not exactly a household name, the British character actor's credits date back to 1975, and include some of the greatest films made since then. Check out these films: The Usual Suspects, Jurassic Park, The Duelist, Mel Gibson's Hamlet, Amistad, Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet and many other great films.
There aren't many actors who engender a universally positive response, but it's hard to think of anyone who sees Postlethwait's distinctive face and doesn't think "Oh, that guy! I love him!" Including Steven Spielberg, who once called Postlethwaite "the best actor in the world."
Postlethwait's response speaks volumes about his self-deprecating personality. "I'm sure what Spielberg actually said was, 'The thing about Pete is that he thinks he's the best actor in the world," Postlethwaite reportedly replied.
Postlethwait's last film, Killing Bono, is awaiting a release date. He is survived by his wife Jacqueline and son William and daughter Mary.

Does Harrison Ford Want Indiana Jones To Die? (Updated) Posted December 20, 2010 - By Joseph Baxter
After getting the better of countless enemies ranging from hordes of Nazis, Egyptian assassins, blood-drinking cultists who rip still-beating hearts from peoples' chests, and the relentless, E.T.-chasing forces of Mother Russia, it seems that the one and only Indiana Jones could soon encounter the intractable force he cannot defeat: Harrison Ford. According to a report from ShowBizSpy, not even the most lead-lined kitchen appliance ever made would save him, since it seems that the actor who gave Indy life now wants to take it away. With loose talk going around about him taking up another entry in the Indiana Jones film series, apparently the actor is saying that he'd prefer the upcoming film to be the last, with Indy finally meeting his end. (*See update below.) The report is far from confirmed, but seems to have legs, due to it being rooted in some reasonable truths: Mainly that Harrison Ford obviously cannot do many more Indy films, and that in the past, he actually did request the death of his other iconic character in Han Solo.
According to ShowBizSpy's report: “Harrison thinks it would be good for Indy to die and pass on his hat to his son in the next one,” reveals an insider. George [Lucas] especially is resisting the notion but Steven [Spielberg] is considering it.”
Of course, during the filming of Return of the Jedi, Ford actually tangled with George Lucas regarding the fate of the newly-carbonite-thawed smuggler. Ford unequivocally wanted Han to die, since he felt that his arc in the story had pretty much played out and that there was no more use for his character. Wanting that dramatic bookend to the Star Wars saga, Ford thought that a martyred Han would serve the film much better -- Lucas disagreed. -- Lucas was the boss. -- Lucas won.
This time, however, Steven Spielberg, not Lucas, is calling the shots and is apparently more receptive to the idea of Indy meeting his maker. (The one besides Lucas.) However, while Ford may possibly have visions of Indy going out like a champ, some may remember the TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, which depicted Indy as an elderly man (played by George Hall) telling flashback stories of his youth (where he's played by Sean Patrick Flanery.) While it may be unrealistic to think that a major movie production is strictly beholden to the canon of a short-lived TV show from the early 90's, I think that as a fan, I like the notion of Indy living to a ripe old age, telling stories of all his outrageous exploits, and maybe even slapping around the occasional smart-ass whippersnappers who think they can have fun at his expense. So, personally, I hope that Spielberg can retire Indy with dignity and not with some dramatic device of a death used to propel Shia LaBeouf's potential run with the whip and fedora.
Update: Reps for Harrison Ford are denying that he wants to kill off Indy.

Mark Millar's Superior Lands "High Profile" Star? Posted December 23, 2010 - By Joseph Baxter
Comic book legend Mark Millar has sort of a "reputation," if you will, for stirring the pot of rumors for upcoming projects. With a recent tweet, it seems that he's showing no signs of stopping. Talks of a movie project for his still-new title Superior with Marvel's creator-owned Icon label have already been swirling. However, if we were to take the word of the quirky Scotsman, then said project is set for what he is describing as "the most high profile actor of 2010." From that quote, general speculation seems to be pointed to Leonardo DiCaprio. However, those are just opinions and we will apparently get the official word in January. Without even specifying which role the actor in question would be taking, this is one of those news tidbits that essentially serves only to tell you what you don't know. However, another critical question one might have is: What is Superior?
As Millar tweeted:
"Huge News: Superior movie just locked down most high profile actor of 2010. Official release in January. PS Issue 3 is out today. GET SOME!!"
With its first issue having hit just this fall, the title focuses on Simon Pooni, a young boy who once had it all as a popular basketball player in school, but was struck down with multiple sclerosis and confined to a wheelchair. His imagination became his only escape, specifically with a superhero movie centered on a character called Superior. However, fate would soon have plans for Simon that would exceed merely living vicariously through fiction when he was visited by a powerful alien. Told that he was chosen out of all the people on Earth, he was give one magical wish. The result, was his transformation into the very superhero he idolized. As the living embodiment of Superior, he fights crime, while dealing with the fallout with his parents from his alleged  "disappearance" after his transformation. 
So, this is essentially a take on the old Billy Batson/Captain Marvel story, but with some touching elements that make the character's rise to greatness even more poignant. Though unlike Millar's other recently film-adapted Kick-Ass, this is a story that focuses on a protagonist that understands each side of the coin between adulation and humility. If the "high profile" actor Millar mentioned is to be for the role of Superior himself, then judging by looks alone, is either Sam Worthington, Josh Brolin, or Jon Hamm. Surely, there would be some comic elements, in which case, Hamm may be the better choice. But who knows? It's all rumors, thus far.

Stan Lee Gets Star On Hollywood Walk Of Fame Posted 3 days ago - By Joseph Baxter
Yesterday, a man whose creations were responsible for putting billions into Hollywood revenue circles has been finally given his due respects. Introduced in a ceremony by Gill Champion, COO and co-founder of his production company Pow! Entertainment, and legend in his own right, Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, Stan Lee was given a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. The iconic Marvel guru's list of creations reads like an almost surreal roll-call of the most popular characters conceived in the last 50 years such as Spider-Man, Hulk, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and many more. Among the other 2,427 names who grace the walkway between Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, Lee's contribution to pop culture and the imaginations of millions around the world are massively undeniable, and frankly, long overdue.
As the official press release explains his accolade:
In 1981 Stan Lee transformed his Spider-Man and Hulk creations into Saturday morning and syndicated television cartoons. When Marvel Comics and Marvel Productions were acquired by New World Entertainment in 1986, Stan’s horizons expanded even further, giving him the opportunity to become more deeply involved in the creation and development of filmed projects for both the big and small screen. He supervised such diverse animated series as X-Men, Spider-Man and The Hulk. To date, Stan’s characters have populated over 24 separate television series, all of which continue in syndication around the world. 
Accepting the honors, a humble, yet sharp-witted 88 year-old Lee quipped:
"I want to thank the men who are responsible for putting that star there, but I can't, because I don't know their names."
Recalling advice (real or not) given to him by the legendary suspense director Alfred Hitchcock, who, like Lee, was known for managing to squeeze himself into cameo roles in his films, Lee recounts:
"I remember as a young man when he dangled me on his knee and Alfred said to me: 'Stan, don't waste time trying to be a screen star, there's too much competition. Get into cameos!'"
Congratulations to Stan "The Man!" We look forward to every single one of your cameos for years to come.

No Shared Universe For The Dark Knight Rises And Superman Reboot? Posted 3 days ago - By Joseph Baxter
Producer Charles Roven has credits attributed to him in a vast array of big movies, including some of the biggest comic book film adaptations. Two of those happen to be the upcoming third film in Christopher Nolan's Batman series, The Dark Knight Rises and Zack Snyder's upcoming reboot of Superman. In a recent interview discussing his current project, Nicolas Cage vehicle Season of the Witch, he answers a few questions about the two highly-anticipated films. While both movies are slated for the second half of 2012, they've been the subject of speculation for few years, at this point. One major point of speculation, which was re-stoked last month with another rumor, surrounded whether or not DC and Warner would take the reboot of Superman as an opportunity to link together the movie universes of its two signature heroes. Well, Roven would not only address this issue, but also discusses the process that both directors Nolan and Snyder will undergo, with the shooting of these films likely to begin real soon.When asked the important question of whether or not the upcoming Batman and Superman films would share a single universe, Roven, (to his credit as a straight-shooter,) answered emphatically "no." Adding:
"That may be in somebody's mind but right now the Batman lives in his world and the Superman lives in his world. Those stories are those stories and we haven't thought beyond each individual picture."
Roven now finds himself balancing a huge workload, bouncing back and forth between the Batman and Superman projects. The focus right now, is to make sure that each film will be good in its own right, not on any crossover potential.
"Right now Dark Knight Rises is coming out in the summer of 2012 and Superman is coming out in the winter of 2012. So hopefully -- and we're just at the beginning phases of both of them. We haven't even entered official pre-production on either one of them -- there will be a little bit of room. They're both going to be long shoots. I'm sure there's going to be some overlap, but hopefully there'll be as little overlap as possible."
He also assures that, although it will be his last Bat-film, The Dark Knight Rises will receive the full undistracted attention of Christopher Nolan's talents.
"I've said this about Chris before: I've never known Chris to do anything but focus on the movie he's making. He gets completely immersed in the movie he's doing and I know that all he's thinking about right now when it comes to Batman, the Dark Knight Rises, is making it the best movie he can. He's not thinking, "will there be another one?"
However, with Nolan's impending exit, you do get the sense that DC/Warner are also quietly watching how things progress over at Marvel with the string of comic book films building-up to 2012 mega-event, The Avengers. If indeed, that franchise becomes a box-office golden goose, then regardless of the state of things right now, I wouldn't expect to see Batman warm the bench with his kevlar butt-huggers for too long after Nolan's departure. With this summer's Green Lantern also an important test for the idea of a broader stable of heroes, talk of a string of Justice League films would undoubtedly start to swirl and I could easily see DC attempt to create a similar momentum buildup with a (...gulp) new Batman series, one that will be crossover-friendly.

Elijah Wood To Return As Frodo In The Hobbit? Posted Yesterday 12:02 PM - By Joseph Baxter
We last saw Elijah Wood's Frodo in a tear-inducing, bittersweet goodbye as his ticket was punched on Middle Earth's Love Boat for a one-way trip to the Undying Lands. (Cancún.) However, it turns out that may not be the last time we see him. While the casting news we've been getting over the last few months have confirmed some minor anachronistic straying from the book, the latest may blow all of that away. Fan site TheOneRing (a fairly reliable source,) is reporting that Elijah Wood will reprise his role as Frodo in the upcoming films. Indeed, we always knew that Peter Jackson and company would need to utilize some unorthodox strategy in order to adapt the relatively short novel of The Hobbit into a two-part 3D epic for the big screen. (And for the record, that's a good thing!) So, you may ask yourself : "Doesn't The Hobbit take place like 80 years before The Lord of the Rings?" Well, once you hear the explanation, it will make sense. However, it's also kind of spoileriffic, so I would advise only clicking the read more link if you don't mind being privy to that sort of thing. Rest assured, it won't involve time-traveling DeLoreans, Skynet, or the schlepping of humpback whales.
Apparently, The Hobbit will open in a time period during or after the events of The Lord of the Rings. The key to Woods' appearance, seems to be the red book that we've seen Bilbo and later Frodo himself use to document their adventures. (Which was eventually given to Sam at the very end.) Its role in the Tolkien universe would go on further in the continuing Middle Earth history, known as the "Red Book of Westmarch." It is believed that Frodo, possibly accompanied by Hobbit companions Sam (Sean Astin,) Merry (Dominic Monaghan,) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) will sit down in a mellow moment and recite Bilbo's entry into the holy Hobbit book entitled "There And Back Again." I suppose it's comparable to the wraparound story of The NeverEnding Story, in which young outcast Bastian hides away to read the book, which then illustrates the story of hero Atreyu in the fantasy world to the audience. (Or The Princess Bride as another example of that type of device.)
In their confirmation of Wood's involvement in the film, TOR also makes note that the script will not be changed to accommodate him. We can take that to mean that this flash-forward sequence has been in the works all along. While the returns of other Hobbits Astin, Monaghan, and Boyd are not confirmed, it does seem likely, given not only the need for people with which Frodo would interact, but what a reunion would mean to this cast, who did become so close over the years filming the trilogy. Yet, with Cate Blanchett also confirmed to reprise her LOTR role as Galadriel and Orlando Bloom looking very likely to return as Legolas for the main story (remember, Elves have very long lives,) we still await the official confirmation of the extremely necessary returns of Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Andy Serkis as Gollum, and Hugo Weaving as Elrond.

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