Shocker: Fox cancels Hieroglyph before Premiere

hieroglyph

As one show resurrects another finds itself stillborn. In an unexpected turn of events, Fox, who had made a big deal earlier this year of bypassing the traditional “pilot season” for its shows, has cancelled its ambitious Ancient Egyptian drama Hieroglyph before it ever made it to the air.

Only the pilot was shot, but Fox executives reportedly didn’t like where the scripts for further episodes where going…which is ironic as they had initially given the show a 13 episode straight commitment.

Cancelling a greenlit show before it premieres is an extremely rare move from broadcasters, expecially for such ambitious shows as this. Fox had actually pulled the same move last year with Us & Them, starring Jason Ritter (Freddy vs. Jason) and Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls), as had NBC with its Dane Cook vehicle Next Caller, but those were both comparatively “small” comedy shows.

Find out more about the show that will never be and watch its trailer after the jump. Continue reading

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Disney to make Arab movies

Walt Disney Pictures, which already produces movies in France, China and India (at least) in addition to their regular roster of American pics, is now eyeing the Arabian peninsula and is in talks to finance The Last Of The Storytellers from Lebanese director Chadi Zeneddine (Falling From Earth), which would mark their first film in Arabic and will likely start filming by the end of next year.

Disney has big plans for the Middle East. The Arab world has a population of some 300 million people, and with two-thirds under age 30, the market is a natural for family-friendly Disney fare. Disney expects to announce two more Arabic-language features in time for the fifth edition of the Dubai Film Festival, which unspools in December.

“There’s a lot of opportunity for us in the Middle East,” said a Disney exec, who insisted on anonymity. “There’s a lot of room for growth for us. It’s the international territory that we’re most excited about expanding into.”

Disney’s arabian move is expected to be followed by other American studios, such as 20th Century-Fox. I can already repeat what I said following Disney’s recent announcement of big Indian plans: I’m really glad American studios are finally seeing the importance of international markets, but I wish they’d use their power to distribute the films they produce in other countries worldwide.

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Give Babylon A.D. a second chance, watch the “real version”

I saw Babylon A.D. today, and while I won’t write a full review of it at this time, I do have a few things I want to say. Babylon A.D. has been a pet project for acclaimed French director Mathieu Kassovitz (Gothika) for many years, with him being a huge fan of Maurice Georges Dantec’s source novel Babylon Babies. The film had a very troubled shoot and was delayed from its original release date in early 2008. Ultimately, most people had already dismissed the film before it was released, and the final nail in its coffin was when both Kassovitz and lead actor Vin Diesel (Find Me Guilty) trashed the film before its American release. Here’s the catch though: they were talking about the Fox version of the film.

Yes, there are two versions of Babylon A.D., one which runs 90 minutes and is distributed by 20th Century-Fox in the US, Canada, UK and some other countries, and another by Studio Canal, which doesn’t mention Fox at all and lasts 11 minutes more. Now this doesn’t mean that Fox simply cut out 11 minutes from the film and released it…they actually cut out much more, and replaced it with footage that isn’t in the longer version. I haven’t seen the Fox version, but I’ve read about it and can thus tell you that Fox basically removed significant parts of plot development and replaced them with action scenes that are completely absent from the Studio Canal version… Fox changed the beginning, Fox changed the ending, Fox changed the dialogues, Fox changed everything.

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Fox wants more X-Men spinoffs (yes!) and a Daredevil reboot (why?)

With X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the X-Men prequel, to be released by next May, and X-Men Origins: Magneto (another prequel) to follow soon after, 20th Century-Fox have decided they have a gold mine and are planning at least two more spinoffs: a “Young X-Men” movie (Generation X?) and a film focusing on the high-tech mercenary Deadpool, whom Ryan Reynolds (Definitely, Maybe) plays in Wolverine. I say go for it, as long as you keep the films consistent with one another.

Additionally, Fox is considering a reboot of the Daredevil franchise, which spawned a 2003 film starring Ben Affleck (Hollywoodland) as the titular hero and the 2005 spinoff clunker Elektra, and wall I can say is why? Why can’t we simply have a Daredevil 2? The first film isn’t anywhere near the failure most people seem to think it is. Exceeding its budget by 100 million dollars worldwide, it was well received by many, and even some people who hated it loved the director’s cut which adds 30 minutes to the film, including an entire subplot. Hell, I even know quite a few people who prefer it to Spider-Man! Why must there be a reboot? Blame Christopher Nolan. Not long ago, Jason Statham (Death Race) expressed interest in taking the role, with long time Daredevil writer Frank Miller’s support. I like Jason, but that’s just a bad choice.

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Maggie Grace takes role from Mischa Barton

Maggie Grace (The Jane Austen Book Club) has replaced Mischa Barton (FOX’s The O.C.) in the lead of Malice In Wonderland, a British re-telling of Lewis Carroll’s famous book. Since both girls are very pretty, this probably means that the American Maggie is more convincing in an English accent than the British Mischa… Anyway, the movie will probably be the better for it, since even though Maggie Grace hasn’t really proven herself as an actress yet, she’s miles ahead of the incredibly wooden Mischa Barton, who couldn’t emote if her life depended on it.

Described as an action movie, Malice In Wonderland co-stars  Nathaniel Parker (St. Trinian’s, amovie ironically starring Mischa Barton). It is directed by Simon Fellows and written by Jayson Rothwell (who already worked together on Second In Command). The film is now currently shooting.

In the meantime, you can catch (sooner or later, depending of where you live) Maggie Grace is the amazingly badass actioner Taken, co-starring Liam Neeson (Seraphim Falls) kicking ass and Famke Janssen (the X-Men films) moping around. I caught the flick at the beginning of the year, and if you hadn’t guessed, I strongly recommend it. Taken is directed by Pierre Morel (District B13) and written by the Luc Besson/Robert Mark Kamen team (the Transporter films).

Meanwhile Mischa Barton, whose career is fading faster than you can say “hey!”, is resorting to staged paparazzi outings to keep her name in the papers (true story) and is seeing all her post-O.C. efforts go straight-to-DVD in the States. In fact, her latest turd, Virgin Territory, was released last week. The film co-stars Hayden Christensen (Jumper) and Tim Roth (The Incredible Hulk) and was written and directed by David Leland (The Land Girls). Also, don’t buy it (more about that here).

Other Alice In Wonderland movies to be released in the next few years include the adaptation of American McGee’s Alice video game (which has been gestating forever it seems) and a new Disney film by Tim Burton (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street). Both of these movies will give a darker spin to the tale.

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Movie Of The Day: Eragon (2006)

After the first installments of Harry Potter and The Lord Of The Rings rocked the global box-office back in 2001, American  movie studios started buying the rights of every fantasy book they could find in the hope of striking cinematic gold. Barely any executive was able to shout “cha-ching” however, as only a handful of these opportunist films have proved successful, namely Disney’s The Chronicles Of Narnia and New Line’s The Golden Compass (sure, it bombed in the US, but it was huge everywhere else). Indeed, in their rush to shell out movies about magical worlds, studios seem to have mostly forgotten what made Potter and Rings so successful: it’s not only an established fanbase and an otherworldly setting, but mainly faithfulness, and a creative team truly invested in the source material.

Which brings us to Eragon, which is adapted from the first book in Chistopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle. The movie was directed by first-timer Stefen Fangmeier, a visual effects supervisor on films such as A Series Of Unfortunate Events, and adpated to screenplay form by Peter Buchman (Jurassic Park III). It stars newcomer Edward Speleers in the title role, as well as Jeremy Irons (Kingdom Of Heaven), Sienna Guillory (Resident Evil: Apocalypse), Robert Carlyle (28 Weeks Later), John Malkovich (Beowulf), Garett Hedlund (Death Sentence), Djimon Hounsou (Never Back Down), Rachel Weisz’s voice (Definitely, Maybe) and pop singer Joss Stone in her first (albeit brief) film role.

Eragon‘s story goes pretty much like this: Once upon a time, peace was kept by an order of knights with special abilities. One of these knights turned to evil however, and betrayed his comrades, killing them all (or did he?) and establishing himself as ruler of everywhere. Years later, a young blond male living at his uncle’s farm stumbles upon something stolen from the evil lord. After his family is killed, he is recruited by a wise old ex-knight and sets on a journey to join a small band of dedicated rebels, to whom the stolen item could prove extremely useful. Along the way, they will venture into one of the enemy’s fortresses to rescue the young princess who stole the thing in the first place. Sound familiar? Review and trailer after the jump.

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Harry Potter attacks Hari Puttar

In what can only be labeled a bitch move, Warner Bros has filed a lawsuit against Indian production company Mirchi Movies regarding the forthcoming film Hari Puttar: A Comedy Of Terrors. The reason? Warner feels the movie is taking advantage of the Harry Potter name. WB spokeswoman Deborah Lincoln tells The Hollywood Reporter:

“We have recently commenced proceedings against parties involved in the production and distribution of a movie entitled ‘Hari Puttar’. Warner Bros. values and protects intellectual property rights. However, it is our policy not to discuss publicly the details of any ongoing litigation.”

Mirchi CEO Munish Purii retorded:

We registered the ‘Hari Puttar’ title in 2005 and it’s unfortunate that Warner has chosen to file a case so close to our film’s release. In my opinion, I don’t think our title has any similarity or links with ‘Harry Potter.’

The irony here? Mr Purii is actually the one who’s right. From the looks of Hari Puttar‘s trailer, the movie has nothing to do with the world’s most famous teenage wizard and is actually eerily similar to the Home Alone franchise, a property owned by Twentieth Century-Fox. So if anyone should file a lawsuit against Hari Puttar, it ought to be Fox, a company currently tangled with Warner in a messy battle over the Watchmen rights (god, it’s like a vicious circle).

Article continues after the jump. Also, Hari Puttar trailer.

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