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|For U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko, things are about to get even more dangerous. The only law enforcement in this unforgiving territory, she has just been sent to investigate a body on the ice. Antarctica's first homicide. A shocking discovery in itself, it will plunge her into an even more bizarre mystery and the revelation of secrets long-buried under the endless ice--secrets that someone believes are still worth killing for. As Stetko races to find the killer before he finds her, winter is already closing in. In the deadly Antarctic whiteout, she won't see him till he's a breath away.... (more)|
|Production Status :||Released|
|Genres :||Action/Adventure, Thriller, Crime/Gangster and Adaptation|
|Running Time :||1 hr. 41 min.... (more)|
Hollywood's recent love affair with comic books doesn't stop with superheroes, as this month's box office proves.
In the next two weeks, two movies based on comic books - this weekend's "Whiteout
"Hollywood has been turned onto comics in a way that they actually haven't been before," said Greg Rucka, who wrote "Whiteout" in 1998 for publisher Oni Press and its sequel, "Whiteout: Melt."
"Hollywood people tend to be people who are, in my experience, very visually oriented people," Rucka said. "And if you put a novel in front of them, they are less inclined to really dive into that novel. But if you can put in front of them a story that combines prose with images, they get that. And they get that much more quickly, and can see a translation to film much more effortlessly. So it's not just about superheroes - I think now, it's about comics."
With the recent success of cape-free comic book movies like "300" and "Wanted" - along with the upcoming films based on comics like "Kick-Ass" and "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" - Hollywood has quietly been sneaking a surge of comic book movies into theaters without most movie-goers even realizing it.
"There's a little line on the corner of the poster that says it's based on a graphic novel," Rucka said with a laugh. "And I think it says something in the credits. So I'm not sure anyone will know it was a comic."
[Here's a look at 8 films some people may not have known are based on comic books]
As more than 40 comic book properties are in some stage of production and dozens others are optioned for film, there seems to be a slew of comic book properties being eyed by Hollywood - but many never make it to the screen. While "Surrogates" was turned into a movie only three years after its original publication in 2006, "Whiteout" was stuck in film-option limbo for almost a decade.
"Steve and I had reached a point where we just thought we'd start living off the options. We'd be 80 and this thing would be optioned again," Rucka said. "I actually never thought they'd do it."
"A lot of it is out of your control once it's optioned, and you just don't know if it's going to make it to the film stage," Venditti said. "But 'Surrogates' was unique in that it was made so quickly. You talk to a lot of people - producers and things like that - and they'll say, 'What are you working on now?' And you'll tell them. And they'll say, well, I'll tell you right now that it's not going to go into production as quickly as Surrogates did.
Although Rucka is currently writing comics for DC involving both Superman and Batman characters, he's got another non-superhero comic book property for Oni Press that is moving toward a possible movie - the spy thriller "Queen and Country".
"For reasons that have never become clear to me, the first draft of the screenplay for 'Queen and Country' was set aside," Rucka said. "But just recently, a young man named Ryan Condal was given the assignment to write the screenplay. And I've actually spoken to him a couple of times, and I read one of his screenplays already. And I think the comic is in very good hands. He's very talented."
And although Rucka admitted he never thought "Whiteout" would make it to the theaters, he believes "Queen and Country" might be among the next phase of non-superhero comic book movies that Hollywood brings to the big screen.
"I think it may happen!" he said. "I think we may be getting close."
More on Newsarama:
A "Whiteout," we are told early on in the new film of the same name, is what happens when "an unholy set of weather patterns converge, and the world falls away."
"Whiteout" the movie is
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Kate Beckinsale has to be one of the most schizoid actors working. She careens from arty dramas like "Snow Angels" to schlock like the "Underworld" vampire series.
Her latest, "Whiteout," opening Friday via Warner Bros., finds her on another slumming expedition. Even a bad thriller can be entertaining, and this gory murder mystery set in Antarctica has a certain dumb fascination -- up to a point. Then it is defeated by its sheer idiocy. The advertising will draw the core audience to the opening weekend. A huge drop-off awaits.
A prologue shows a Russian plane crashing at the South Pole in 1957. Fifty years later, Beckinsale's Carrie Stetko is a U.S. marshal stationed there at a scientific research base. When a body is discovered out in the snow, she has to solve the case -- before the entire base is evacuated because of a severe winter storm. Of course, that buried Russian aircraft has something to do with the increasingly grisly series of murders. To add to the backstory, Carrie is still recovering from the psychic scars of a botched mission she survived years earlier in Miami.
The picture is based on a graphic novel by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber, and the script was written by two sets of brothers: Jon and Erich Hoeber and Chad and Carey W. Hayes. All these scribes have disgorged a heap of nonsense with laughable dialogue ("Doc, this wasn't an accident!"). Director Dominic Sena ("Swordfish") favors the flashy style of music videos -- lots of handheld shots and rapid-fire editing of images that never quite come into focus. A headache is guaranteed. The cinematography by Chris Soos takes advantage of the white-on-white locales (filmed in Manitoba and Quebec), and the eerie music by John Frizzell provides the frissons of suspense missing from the writing and direction.
Beckinsale can be a fine actress in some films, but her earnestness is ludicrous in a potboiler like this one. The handsome Gabriel Macht is the U.N. observer (don't ask) who might be a romantic interest for Carrie or a villain. Tom Skerritt lends his grandfatherly presence to the poorly conceived role of Doc. Most of the other actors have little to do except to fight off a knife-wielding maniac. The predictable denouement will leave viewers in a sour mood.
(Editing by DGoodman at Reuters)
(please visit our entertainment blog via www.reuters.com or on http://blogs.reuters.com/fanfare/)
With last year's box office success of The Dark Knight and Iron Man,2008 was labeled by many as the year of the comic book movie. But 2009may turn out to be just as influenced by the world of comics, only thistime, it won
"I would argue that 'comic book movies' is its own genre now. And I'mnot just talking about superheroes," said Jeff Katz, the former 20thCentury Fox executive and comics writer who was a producer on thisyear's X-Men Origins: Wolverine . "For a decade, we had to educate the audience and Hollywood about the difference. They get the difference now. 300 was a comic book movie, but it wasn't a superhero movie. Men in Black, Ghost World, Sin City-- comic book movies, but not superhero movies. Look where we areversus where we were 15 years ago in terms of respect and even lipservice. There's an applied respect for this medium and this form now.People get it."
Although in the past, many film-goers didn't realize non-superhero movies like Road to Perdition and A History of Violence(famously, on the latter, director David Cronenberg didn't even know itwas a graphic novel first) were based on comic books, that's startingto change as studios are more willing to use the comic connection intheir marketing, as Universal did with Wanted last year.
"I think that used to be the case, but 300 seemed to be awatershed moment where studios realized that tying a film in with itssource material is a good marketing idea, even if the source materialisn't one of the more recognizable Marvel or DC properties," saidRobert Venditti, the author of Surrogates, the graphic novel on which this year's Surrogatesmovie starring Bruce Willis is based. "So I think, generally speaking,moviegoers are now much more aware of the alternative comics andgraphic novels that find their way to the screen."
As audiences are educated on the comic book origin behind theirfavorite films, the hope of publishers is that they'll seek out thesource material.
"Hopefully once there are enough non-superhero movies out there, andthey've been promoted as being based on comics/graphic novels, it willhelp educate the public at large that there is a wider variety ofstories and characters available in our medium," said Oni PressPublisher Joe Nozemack, whose Greg Rucka-penned graphic novel Whiteoutis being released as a crime thriller film later this year. "Thechallenge then becomes to be sure they're introduced to books that meettheir interests and tastes, instead of forcing superheroes orsci-fi/fantasy books on them."
In 2009, the variety of stories and genres in film that originated incomic book form are many, including the following comic-related moviesset to hit theaters this year:
Astro Boy: With a voice cast that includes superhero fan favorites like Ghost Riderstar Nicolas Cage and Heroes villain Kristen Bell, Astro Boy will bringthe star of manga and anime television to modern audiences through CGIanimation. Originating as a manga comic book in 1952 by Osamu Tezuka,Astro Boy became a popular television show that first found success inJapan and later other countries. The film version, set to be releasedin October, stars Spiderwick Chronicles actor Freddie Highmore as thevoice of Astro Boy, the young robot with amazing powers whoseadventures require him to save his futuristic hometown of Metro City.
Coraline: While the story was first a novella, Coraline makes our listbecause it's written by comics scribe Neil Gaiman and was just adaptedby artist P. Craig Russell as a graphic novel last year. With a February 6threlease, Coraline tells the story of a young girl who moves to a newhome and unlocks a mysterious door that leads to a parallel reality.Shot as stop-motion animation, the movie will have Dakota Fanningvoicing the lead role and Lois and Clark/Desperate Housewives star TeriHatcher as her mother.
Kick-Ass: Tentatively slated for late 2009, Kick-Ass is the comic bookmovie that was being filmed before the comic series was even finishedby writer Mark Millar (Wanted) and artist John Romita Jr. With on-set photoshitting Newsarama in November, the movie looks to be sticking close tothe comic book, which tells a modern and brutally realistic story ofwhat would really happen to a teen who wants to fight crime like thesuperheroes in his beloved comic books. With young actor Aaron Johnsonin the lead role and the aforementioned Nick Cage as an ex-cop, thestory centers on a high school nerd who decides to try his hand atfighting crime in spandex, despite the fact he has no powers nor any ofthe basic physical attributes necessary to live up to the label crowdsgive him, "Kick-Ass."
Sherlock Holmes: This one shows up on our list of comic book films onlybecause of how the film was developed in the first place. Yes, thebooks and the character are legendary without the help of comic books.But Lionel Wigram's still-unpublished comic book was the spec scriptfor the film, meaning that graphic novels are not only rumored to beeffective in lieu of a speculative script, but are now proven as havingworked.
"I think when you put illustrations on paper -- essentiallystoryboards, for people who think in movie terms -- and they canenvision how this will look on the screen, it does help sell theproduct," writer B. Clay Moore told Newsarama last year."In fact, I know there are more and more people in Hollywood that areputting together sort of graphic novels in an attempt to elevate thepitch so the people can see it visually, which I don't think is a badidea at all."
With movies based on comics producing more than $1 billion last year,it's not surprising that studios are wooed by the medium even when thesource was never published. Besides, Sherlock Holmes has Iron Man starRobert Downey Jr. taking on the lead role in the film, further linkingit to the comic book movie genre when it comes out in November.
The Surrogates: Starring Bruce Willis, the September 25 film The Surrogatesis based on the comic series by writer Robert Venditti and artist BrettWeldele and published by Top Shelf. The sci-fi story takes place in 2054, when advancements invirtual reality and cybernetics have led to an era where "surrogates"let people interact with the real world without leaving their ownhomes. When someone starts to "kill" surrogates, a copy played byWillis is forced to leave his home to investigate.
The Surrogates, which is being brought to theaters by the filmmaking triobehind Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, is one of thosenon-superhero movies that has the potential to further educate amainstream audience on the wide variety of fiction genres available incomics. And publisher Top Shelf Productions is preparing for the kindof interest in the source material that publishers saw after therelease of other comic book movies like Sin City and Wanted.
"Top Shelf will be ready by summer to support the frenzy of interestwith not only a large run of the new edition of The Surrogates graphicnovel, but also the brand new prequel, The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone-- another amazing graphic novel by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele,"said Chris Staros, Top Shelf publisher.
Watchmen: Probably the most anticipated by comics fans, the Marchrelease of Watchmen will bring the acclaimed graphic novel to thescreen now that its legal problems have been settled by Warner Bros. and Fox. Originallypublished as a 12-issue comic series by writer Alan Moore and artistDave Gibbons in 1986/87, Watchmen is still among the best-sellinggraphic novels for DC Comics even 20 years later.
The story's premise -- the deconstruction of the superhero -- is whatmade it such a pivotal work for the comic book industry, but it's alsobehind the film taking two decades to hit the screen. "I'm not surethat a deconstruction of the genre like the Watchmen would have beenpossible without all these other archetypical superhero origin moviesout in the marketplace providing the right language first, so theaudience could get the shorthand down," Katz said.
Although Watchmen may not generate the box office numbers of The DarkKnight, the benefit for the publishing industry is potentially moresignificant because this film leads movie fans back to the sourcematerial more readily than a movie about iconic characters like Batmanor Superman. Because Watchmen is about characters unfamiliar tomainstream audiences, and because the film is based on a self-containedstory that can be purchased in one volume, interest in the Watchmenbook is already skyrocketing, just from the word-of-mouth caused by thetrailer.
"Clearly, it's worked beyond any recognition in history," DC Publisher and Presidnet Paul Levitz told Newsarama last year just before it was announced that 1 million copies of Watchmenhad been sold in 2008. "We had a dinner of the buying teams from allthe major bookstore franchises, and no one there or on our Random Housesales side could remember a trailer from any film having the kind ofmathematical effect on book sales that we're experiencing withWatchmen."
Whiteout: Starring genre movie favorite Kate Beckinsale (Underworld/VanHelsing), Whiteout is based on the graphic novel by writer Greg Ruckaand artist Steve Lieber. A crime thriller with Beckinsale playing aU.S. Marshal, Whiteout is about murder and intrigue in Antarctica,where the brutal white landscape plays as much of a role in the storyas the characters.
Nozemack said the film, which is set to come out on September 11, hasalready generated an interest in the Whiteout book and its sequel,Whiteout: Melt.
"We've already seen an increase in sales and interest in the books justfrom the publicity that's been done up to this point," the publishersaid. "We expect to see two more surges, one when the trailer isofficially released and then when the full marketing campaign is ineffect just before the film's release."
Whiteout is another film that promises to further break the stereotypeof comics being all about superheroes, as the parkas and real-worldinvestigating tools used by the characters in this movie are about asfar removed from superheroes as possible.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine: With a May 1st release, X-Men Origins:Wolverine will have Hugh Jackman back as the lead character in a storyset 20 years before the original X-Men movie. Focusing on Wolverine'sorigins as part of the Weapon X program and his vendetta againstarch-enemy Victor Creed, the film has generated a lot of buzz,particularly when Jackman publicly thanked Wolverine creator Len Weinat San Diego Comic-Con. While the film has recently been reported asneeding reshoots, the number of X-Men guest stars -- including Gambit,Deadpool and the Blob -- gives this movie a lot of cred with comicsfans, and with People's "Sexist Man Alive" in the lead role, it's got abuilt-in attraction for mainstream fans as well.
With such a wide array of movies based on stories from comic books,2009 could again claim the title of the year of the comic book movie.But with dozens more comic book movies in production and optioned forfilm, Hollywood's love affair with comics doesn't look to be endinganytime soon.
9 to Watch in 2009: The Movies
9 to Watch in 2009: The Comics
P. Craig Russell: Catching up - Coraline and More
"I just want to say thank you. It's going to be terrible for me, I know," the often prematurely apologetic White said, referring to the encore she knew she would be called upon to perform. As if she knew what was coming, she choked up as Ryan Seacrest went through the good-bye motions and then sobbed on Mercado's shoulder after hearing the bad news.
Despite the tears, the 24-year-old nanny from Arizona knew enough not to start and stop while taking on Diamond's "I Am...I Said" one last time.
Although it was arguably White's time to go, it meant Castro got to stay, even though he hasn't been that great since he took us "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"…where he apparently peaked. But so went the dreads-sporting pretty boy—with the sweet-yet-unversatile voice—into week nine.
Well, at least the fall of White meant the rise of Mercado—all the way to the final four after seemingly being earmarked for elimination weeks ago. To her credit, the theatrical songstress never gave up and even upped her game over the last few shows, perhaps taking advantage of her long-shot status to finally unleash her fetching personality.
And then there's Archuleta and Cook, neither of whom has ever faced the bottom rungs. Both were ushered to safety tonight, despite the great sea that separated their performances.
Cook continued to proficiently do the rocker thing on the Diamond tunes "I'm Alive" and "All I Really Need Is You," the latter of which was particularly good, but Archuleta went with the sing-along standards "Sweet Caroline" and "America" and ended up diving off the karaoke deep end.
"Amateurish," Simon Cowell deemed "Sweet Caroline" afterward.
But the ladies (and girls who can't feasibly be called ladies yet) just love the 17-year-old stud, so on he goes, without even an inkling of what being in the bottom two (or three, or seven, or nine) feels like.
Before any of the dramatics got underway, however, Seacrest took an opportunity to address Abdul's judging gaffe last night—largely just to refute the more vicious gossip out there, including speculation that the singer was less than "Straight Up" when she started to comment on Castro's second song before he'd sung it. (An interview with Abdul earlier in the day revealed that the slipup was one of those rehearsal-versus-live-show confusions.)
With that cleared up, it was on with the show, which included performances by Diamond and British popster Natasha Bedingfield.
And we knew, if we waited long enough, that those viewer-submitted questions would finally unearth something interesting. (That's a lie—admittedly, we never thought they'd get interesting.)
Tonight, a pleasant-sounding woman with a British accent phoned in to ask Cowell whether he most fondly remembered a kiss he shared with Paula on camera or the one he had with her "at the bottom of your garden when you were 9 years old."
A stunned Cowell asked, "Is this Tara Miller?"
And it was! Miller, being both Cowell's first crush and first kiss, really had called in to say hullo.
"I've had a lot of therapy, so I'm doing very well," she said when Paula asked whether she'd kicked the rabies yet.
Anyway, it was a very sweet, fun moment, capped off with Ryan's reminder to all the kids watching at home: "Nine years old is too young to kiss." (Note: He didn't say 9 is too young to vote.)
Next week, the final four will once again sing two songs apiece, tunes that helped shape or otherwise inspire rock 'n' roll as we know it today. Maroon 5 and Bo Bice will perform Wednesday.