Hurried and harried midweek movie news

I’m blogging tonight from the Gower Gulch Starbucks, right in the heart of deepest darkest Hollywood, and as I said in the post right below this, seriously pressed for time tonight. A bunch of work still to be done ,a studio screening, plus a bunch of other stuff that won’t interest you. Also, there’s a guy behind me conducting an impromptu revival service for an audience of none, which is a little distracting.

So, that Comic-Con thumb-sucker will just have to wait as I present only a few selected items of movie news to nourish your spirits.

* Speaking of Comic-Con, in terms of innovation, influence, and ability to tell a simple story very well, Will Eisner was pretty much the D.W. Griffith, John Ford, and Billy Wilder of comic books all rolled into one, but few people who aren’t serious comics fans even know his name. 2008’s despicable “The Spirit” most certainly did not help with his memory or in terms of encouraging a younger generation to check out his work. (I’m glad the movie did horribly because if kids had liked the hyperviolent and mean-spirited film, they would have had no time for the humanistic original.).

Now, via /Film’s Russ Fischer, we hear that an appropriately low budget/indie film version of Eisner’s groundbreaking non-genre comic, “A Contract with God,” is in the works. Among other points of interest, it was the book that caused Eisner to come up with the term “graphic novel” when he was led to believe the publisher wouldn’t want to be involved with a mere “comic book.” Ironically enough, it’s actually a collection of related short stories and the term “graphic novel” actually may predate the incident, so Fischer isn’t  wrong when he says it’s not the first graphic novel. I truly hope this turns out well and makes everyone forget that other movie. It was nice that this was announced at the awards named for Eisner, who died in 2005, at Comic-Con.

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* In the here-we-go-again file, it looks like Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” is being delayed for the millionth time, says the Playlist. And check out that graphic making Gilliam look a bit like a certain Mr. Orson Welles, who also struggled for years to make his vision of Cervantes’ classic delusional non-knight-errant.

* Another Deadline story: Kudos to writer Phil Johnston and Zack Galifianakis for taking on the deadly scourge that is the “Reply All” button. The children must be warned.

* The Jack Sparrow comparison will come easily to many with news of Russell Brand’s possible swashbuckling debut, but any excuse for swordfighting comedies that might actually be good works for me. (Actually, the character as described reminds me more than a bit of George MacDonald Fraser’s “Royal Flash,” portrayed by a young Malcolm McDowell. Never read the book(s) or saw the movie, but since it was directed by the great Richard Lester, I really need to.)

  

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No box office surprises: “A Nightmare on Elm Street” tops the charts; “Furry Vengeance” bites it

A Nightmare on Elm StreetI’m going to keep in short and snappy, especially since things have worked pretty much they way they looked to way back on Thursday night. So, yes, as expected, the critically dissed remake/reboot of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” did scarily well for Warners, earning an estimated $32.2 million or so as detailed by Box Office Mojo. At the #2 and #3 spot are the leggy successes of the moment, Paramount/Dreamworks “How to Train Your Dragon” and Fox’s “Date Night.” They earned estimates of $10.8 and $7.6 million respectively.

In other news…Oh, for a universe where someone not named Frank Miller made “The Spirit” and cast Brendan Fraser in the part he was born to play as Will Eisner’s affable-but-tough Denny Colt.  In that universe the accomplished actor wouldn’t have to take parts in apparently horrid comedies like Summit Entertainment’s “Furry Vengeance,” which climbed all the way up form 0% on Rotten Tomatoes earlier to a rocking 02% here on Sunday nigh because of a positive review from voice-in-the-wilderness Chris Hewitt. Still, the other 48 RT critics apparently spoke for the majority of filmgoers. The comedy earned a fairly pitiful estimated $6.5 million on its opening weekend to hit the #5 spot, despite plenty of publicity and screens for a wide release family film.

In the world of limited releases, the top per-screen earner was the extremely well-reviewed comedy-drama from critical favorite Nicole Holofcener and star Catherine Keener, “Please Give,” which earned a rocking estimated $25,600 or so for Sony Classics on five art-house screens over the weekend. Among other indie films doing notable business was the offbeat comic documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop” which earned an estimated $182,000 on 20 screens. “Harry Brown” starring Michael Caine also debuted strongly, earning an estimate $180,000 on 19 screens for Samuel Goldwyn, who is doing very well for a mogul whose been dead since 1974.

Michael Caine is

  

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Neverending battles

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Some continuations of ongoing tales in the never ending movie wars…

* Naturally, Nikke Finke has more on the Disney-Marvel deal. Of course, there’s a discussion of Universal’s currently existing use of Marvel licensed characters at theme parks, which Finke points out is pretty much a job security plan for lawyers. Disney may spend decades slowly bringing the characters fully on board. Much more interesting to me is another post on the background of the deal. It’s been brewing for nearly a decade, but she reminds us of the genetic link Iger has to the history of comics.

His late great-uncle (his grandfather’s brother) was illustrator/cartoonist Jerry Iger, who partnered with illustrator/cartoonist Will Eisner back in the 1930s to create — you guessed it — the comic book packager Eisner & Iger Studios...And their first hire was Jack Kirby, who as you know later became the co-creator of many of Marvel’s best known characters with Stan Lee.

Kirby almost needs no introduction. Eisner, for those of you with less than obsessive old school comics knowledge,  is probably the comic book equivalent of John Ford with a dash of D.W. Griffith in terms of his influence on the medium as an artist/writer. He was also a very successful entrepreneur on various ends of the comic book industry for decades. (He’s best known as the creator of “The Spirit,” a great series which may take years to recover from the damage done to its memory by Frank Miller’s reprehensible film version.)

* I haven’t really had the chance to geek out with either friends or even online about how much I loved “Inglourious Basterds.”  If you were similarly entranced and want to read more, more, more about the movie, you need to check out last week’s ‘net colloquy between Dennis Cozzalio of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule and Bill R. of The Kind of Face You Hate. It’s an involved discussion that went to some surprising places as it addressed some explosive comments by film historian/critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, who eventually was mensch enough to join the discussion.

It’s a lengthy three part discussion at two sites, but probably the easiest place to start is the final post, because it has links to the previous three. Got it? There are some fairly significant spoilers hidden here and there, for sure, but if those don’t bother you too much and you haven’t gotten around to seeing the movie, you still might want to check it out. I was already spoiled on the main ones before I saw the movie, and it didn’t harm my enjoyment of it.

* One of the main villains of “Inglourious Basterds,” who has recently been making a name for himself one of the more recognizable ‘net commentators on geek matters, weighs in on last weeks “Avatar Day.” (H/t Den of Geek.)

  

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