‘Twilight,’ Batman and ‘Half-Blood Prince,’ all in Everyday Hero headlines


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Hardwicke’s hard fall: What really happened with the ‘Twilight’ franchise and suddenly ousted director Catherine Hardwicke? There’s plenty of knee-jerk journalism and amatuer psychoanalysis underway on the Internet, but the most reasoned reportage I’ve seen is from Patrick Goldstein, who pulls apart the complicated case on his Big Picture blog. Here’s an excerpt: ‘Director of such indie-style films as ‘Thirteen’ and ‘Lords of Dogtown,’ Hardwicke is an incredibly gifted filmmaker who gave ‘Twilight’ an emotional intensity that helped the movie capture the heart-racing intoxication of Stephenie Meyer’s novel, making the film a must-see for teenagers everywhere. (It’s now grossed nearly $140 million in 18 days of release.) But Hardwicke is also a notoriously difficult, high-maintenance filmmaker who wears her emotions on her sleeve. This emotional intensity cuts both ways -- it brought something special to the movie, but it made life a vertiginous roller-coaster for many people working on the film, from crew to executives. On an indie film, prickly auteurs are a dime a dozen -- they come with the territory. But in a shockingly short time, ‘Twilight’ went from a quirky cult project, aimed at a teen subculture, to a massive, mainstream franchise. The indie movie suddenly became a mass-production product. The day after the movie opened, Summit announced that it wanted a sequel by late 2009. As Anne Thompson reports in today’s Variety, Melissa Rosenberg, who wrote ‘Twilight,’ delivered her first draft of the sequel the weekend ‘Twilight’ opened. Summit chief executive Rob Friedman, who deserves a lot of credit for supporting a project that had been put in turnaround by Paramount, the studio where he was a top executive for years, seems to have made a classic studio-style risk vs. reward decision: The sensitive artist who was the perfect filmmaker to launch the franchise was the wrong person to run the show once the project became a blockbuster franchise.’ There’s a lot more in the column; it’s well worth reading and again it’s right here. [The Big Picture]

A French connection: The first woman elected to the White House is assassinated by a sniper during a Veterans Day speech. Three months later, a mystery man, wounded and claiming amnesia, is found in a forest. Is he the presidential shooter? The only clue to his identity is the tattoo on his neck “XIII.” That’s the set-up for two-night NBC movie ‘XIII’ which airs Feb. 8 and 15 and stars Val Kilmer and Stephen Dorff. Reporter Matthew Brady writes about the origins of the thriller: ‘While English versions of the celebrated Frenco-Belgian ‘XIII’ comic may be hard to come by, those interested in Jean Van Hamme and William Vance’s story of an amnesiac killer will get a chance to see an adaptation of it on NBC in February...’XIII’ began in the Belgian magazine Spirou in 1984, and all told has spanned 19 volumes (published by Dargaud), with ‘The Last Round’ being published last year. The series has a large following in France and Belgium, as well as other countries where the work has been translated. English translations of the work are very limited, and to date, have only covered the first few issues. Catalan Communications published translated versions of the first three volumes in 1989; Alias Comics published censored versions of the first 5 issues in 2005, and Dabel Bros., in association with Marvel Comics collected the first three volumes (uncensored) in 2007. Ironically, the property’s largest audience in the Unites States is probably most familiar with XIII due to its 2003 videogame incarnation.’ [Newsarama]


Batman, in motion: The graphic album ‘Batman: Black & White’ debuted today on iTunes and will be coming soon to other distribution channels, including Amazon Video On Demand and Verizon Wireless VCAST. Here’s the hype on the latest entry in the DC Comics bid to create a motion comics library, all from a Warners press release: ‘Batman: Black and White’ Motion Comics features 10 stories created by comic book legends that include Alex Ross, Dave Gibbons, Ted McKeever, Paul Levitz and others. The stories are available on iTunes as five episodes of two shorts each and can be purchased and downloaded for $0.99 per episode. In addition, comic book fans can download a free podcast, also available on iTunes, featuring “Batman: Black & White” illustrator Alex Ross. Hosted by John Siuntres of the popular Wordballoon comic book podcast, Alex discusses Motion Comics, his work on the best-selling series and his current projects. Warner Premiere’s Motion Comics are a new way for comic fans to connect with their favorite characters and the stories they know and love through short-form digital content. The Motion Comics slate draws on a deep reservoir of source material to bring a new visually engaging experience to life through the use of subtle movements, voice-overs, sweeping music scores and stunning comic book artwork...the “Batman: Black & White” stories range in theme from the unsettling drama of solving a brutal murder to the light comedy of fighting bad guys with a broken nose. These short episodes also touch on elements of romance, mystery and even the supernatural. [Warner Bros Home Entertainment press release]

Hermione, how could you?: There are few film stars who grow up in front of the world in the way that the ‘Harry Potter’ stars have, but they are growing up, which explains why British tabloid writers such as Hugo Daniel are writing red-carpet stories like this one: ‘She only turned 18 eight months ago, but Harry Potter star Emma Watson is already considering stripping off on screen. In what many might see as further evidence of the pressure on women in the industry, the young actress admits she is prepared to go nude -- if the role demands it. The news will shock fans who have watched her grow up as Hermione Granger in the series of J.K. Rowling adaptations and still think of her as a child. But when asked by a Sunday magazine if she would ever film naked, she admitted: ‘Yes. For Bernardo Bertolucci. It ... depends. ‘I’m not getting my kit off any time soon, but it is part of my job. I’m at a strange age. I’m not a woman yet, but I’m not a girl anymore. They [film companies] say: ‘Oh, in a couple of years you’ll be perfect for this.’ I’ll be like, yeah, but I want to be studying English then, so it’s going to be quite tough to choose between the two.’ Meanwhile, the university-bound actress showed her youth as she donned mouse ears -- and a fashionable dress, of course -- for her latest Hollywood premiere last night. She may have graced the cover of Vogue, but she looked at home promoting the animated movie, ‘The Tale of Despereaux,’ which is set to be a big Christmas hit. The British star had a big smile for the camera as she posed on the red carpet in the satin dress and a pair of peep-toe black heels. She posed with co-stars Dustin Hoffman and Matthew Broderick in Los Angeles. In the CGI film she provides the voice for the character Princess Pea, who forms a friendship with a brave little mouse with huge ears.’ [The Daily Mail]

More ‘Harry Potter’: Speaking of the Hogwarts crowd, here’s a sneak peek about the romantic subplots of ‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince,’ the sixth film in the franchise, due in theaters next summer. You can see four more of these mini-previews on the jump page; just click through to the second part of this post...

Here’s one on the story:

Here’s one on Jim Broadbent’s character:

Here’s one on the Tom Riddle mystery:

And finally here’s one on the comedy spirit in the movie:

-- Geoff Boucher

CREDITS: Robert Pattinson and Catehrine Hardwicke during the filming of ‘Twilight,’ photographed by Rick Bowmer /Associated Press. Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,’ photo by Murray Close/Warner Bros.