Mad, Bad but Good: Creepy Sick Clip from the Possession

Well, Sam Raimi’s definitely involved in this weirdness somewhere. There’s nothing he likes better than a spot of body horror. It’s not his hands on the creative tiller. Originally titled the Dybbux Box, known as the ‘Jewish exorcist’ the flick containing this little moment is directed by Ole Bornedal – clearly a man of considerable talent and a Raimi graduate. On top of that, Madison Davenport, the main little actress is pretty great in this scene.

As someone who likes Drag Me to Hell, the bit where the Octopus arms go nuts in Spidey 2 and the Evil Dead movies, I’m looking forward to this. For a comparable project, look how good Juan Antonio Bayona and Sergio G. Sánchez’s The Orphanage was under the tutelage of Guillermo Del Toro.

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Moon goes Luna! Harry Potter Star backs Moon 2!

Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) and Steve Penfold with a copy of Moon

Over at the Entertainment Media Show at Earls Court last weekend, featuring many of the great and good (and the guy who plays Young Indy) and we thought we’d introduce our latest book to some of the folks signing at the event. Luckily, with me was my lovely girlfriend Laura who accosted Harry Potter star Evanna Lynch (who is also from Drogheda, Ireland) for a quick snap to show her support for the book. Thanks to Evanna and thanks to Laura for sparking up the conversation with her.

Dan had been introduced to John Hurt the day before but got a little overwhelmed and forgot to get a photo but Mr. Hurt has also earned himself a copy of Moon. Another great memory alongside working with the likes of Ridley Scott, Ron Perlman and Guilermmo Del Toro. Now Hurt can finally say he’s made it!!

Monkey Magic! – Neil Gaiman & Guillermo del Toro Working on Journey To The West Film Series?

Bleeding Cool News are reporting that Sandman and American Gods writer Neil Gaiman has just signed a deal with Zhang Jizhong (one of China’s biggest TV producers) to work on a big screen adaptation of the Chinese classic novel “Journey To The West”. The book tells the tale of the Monkey King’s quest to protect the boy-priest Tripitaka (the character’s name varies depending on the version of the story) as he attempts to retrieve the sacred Buddhist scrolls from India. It also formed the basis for one of the greatest cult tv series of all time, “Monkey!”

Monkey ran for several years in the late 70s and is simply wonderful

Gaiman will replace the previous (currently unnamed) screenwriter and will produce English scripts for a series of three films. Speaking in China last year, Jizhong boasted that the adaptation of the three thousand page epic would cost in excess of $300 million to make. That’s about the same as the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, but given how cheap it is to make films in China it could work out to being a lot more in like for like terms. The films are currently being funded by Chinese backers but it’s understood that overseas investments may be sought as well, making this a truly international effort. The Chinese government has become extremely keen on exporting Chinese culture in recent years which explains the rather unusual level of openness to outside involvement. Concerns have already emerged about how much influence the government will try to exert over the production after a representative from the state Censors appeared at the press conference alongside Jizhong, but Gaiman seems undeterred:

“Monkey is irrepressible. The moment that you try to censor Monkey, he’s not Monkey anymore.”

If that’s not exciting enough for you then you may like to hear that the name at the top of the list for potential directors is none other than Hellboy & Pan’s Labyrinth director, Guillermo del Toro! Nothing is confirmed as of late but we know that del Toro and Gaiman are personal friends and there are reports that the legendary director is being strongly courted by the film’s producers. You probably don’t need me to tell you just how incredible a team up like this could be. Sure it means that we may have to wait quite a while for a third Hellboy film but given what’s on the table here, that’s a hit I’ll happily take.

Monkey as drawn by Jamie Hewlett for the stage version of Monkey: Journey To The West

It has also been reported that Gaiman has contacted James Cameron about helping to apply 3D to the movie. I’m very much from the “couldn’t give a crap about 3D if it was strapped to a bus and dropped on my head” camp. I think it reduces the clarity of the image and I resent paying extra for what is effectively a gimmick. But it will help the movie to sell and if they’re going to do it then they might as well have the guy who invented half the tech helping out. So long as there’s a 2D version released as well then I’ll be happy.

Speaking to Hollywood Reporter this week, Gaiman laid out his stall in terms of how serious he is about the project:

“We have to do what Peter Jackson did with Lord of The Rings. We have to make it filmic, non-episodic. This story is in the DNA of 1.5 billion people. “

From where I’m sitting, this has the potential to be one of the most exciting film projects for a decade. It’s still a long way off, but trust me, we’ll be keeping an eye on this one.

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Peter Jackson: The Return of the King

With The Hobbit finally going into production in New Zealand we’re looking at the production, cast and Director over the next 9 days to get the ball rolling.

More than perhaps any other name, Peter Jackson is synonumous with the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. So how was it that the man himself insisted, after 11 years of pitching to see the Hobbit made into a film, that he not pilot it onto the big screen. And how is it after Industrial disputes, financial wrangling with New Line Cinema and the Tolkien estate, struggling Studios pulling the plug and a major director dropping out due to delays, Peter Jackson is back at the helm? Read on to find out….


Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh first expressed interest in filming the Hobbit in 1995, at the time envisioning it as part one of a trilogy (the other two being based on Lord of the Rings). Jackson’s producer, Harvey Weinstein, discovered that while Saul Zaentz had production rights to The Hobbit, production rights still belonged to United Artists. United Artists deliberately retained the rights to the Hobbit because they expected Jackson and Weinstein to try to make that instead of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, expecting to make a quick buck out of selling the rights. This convoluted and confusing arrangement, in which all parties with all aspects of the rights have to be in conjunction with each other or have a project planned that would justify the cost of paying out to gain said rights, something that can be hard to quantify, is what keeps most films the public want made in development hell. But it is pretty inevitable given the amount of money a successful project could gain.

On location in New Zealand for The Two Towers


Jackson launched a lawsuit in 2005 with New Line Cinema (the eventual studio behind the Lord of the Rings), claiming he had lost revenue from merchandising, video and computer games releases associated with The Fellowship of the Ring. Refusing a specific settlement and requested an audit to see whether New Line had deprived him of any money. Although Jackson wanted the matter resolved, he saw the dispute as minor and presumed that New Line would allow him to make The Hobbit. In January 2007, New Line’s co-founder Robert Shaye scuppered these plans, accusing the director of being greedy and stating that Jackson would never direct another film for New Line.

By August of the same year, Shaye was furiously back-pedalling after a series of very serious flops for New Line saying “I really respect and admire Peter and would love for him to be creatively involved in some way in The Hobbit.” The following month New Line was fined $125,000 for not providing the requested accounting documents.

On December 16, 2007 – New Line announced that Jackson would be executive producer of the Hobbit and its sequel. New Line and MGM would co-finance the film and MGM would distribute via 20th Century Fox ( an unprecedented deal with a major studio proving, unsurprisingly, how far the stock of Tolkien material had gone up). Each film budgeted to cost $150 million, almost $60 million more than each of the original LOTR trilogy.

Jackson at the time, made it clear that he chose not to direct as he would have been unsatisfying to compete with his previous films. So in February 2008, much to the disappointment of the viewing public and scores of fans around the world, Peter Jackson bowed out of heading the two final installments of the Tolkien canon.

Guillermo Del Toro was confirmed as Director in April 2008, following working with Jackson on the shelved Halo film project some time before. Jackson remained heavily involved, video conferencing with Del Toro, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh to complete the script.

Jackson announced that the scripting for the Hobbit would not be finished until early 2010, with scripting days rolling on for 12 hours at a time. Jackson, tellingly had kept the Rivendell scale model and the Bag End set live for the Hobbit in the intervening years, using Bag End as a guest house (seriously, orderly queue starts here!) Guillermo was quoting as saying that every week, they were discovering new things about the script and it was becoming clear that development was taking significantly longer than anticipated.

Jackson and Del Toro had a positive working relationship, disagreements resolved to the benefit of the script. Del Toro was insistent that he could direct the film in its entirety however Jackson, through personal experience on the original LOTR films offered to take the position of second unit director. While Del Toro has the same love of scale models and painted backdrops as Jackson – Del Toro was looking to move towards animatronics – enhanced through CGI in some cases but saw it as an opportunity to move animatronics 10 years into the future. This may very well have worked, however the animatronics in previous Del Toro films (such as Hellboy 2) are very clear to anyone who is looking. However, overwhelmingly the styles and creative output of the two men are very similar and the response from the public was positive at Del Toro’s involvement following successes such as Hellboy and classics like The Devil’s Backbone.

In 2010, Del Toro left the project, due to delays, saying that MGM’s financial problems had led to the Hobbit still not being Greenlit. “There cannot be any start dates until the MGM situation gets resolved… We have designed all the creatures. We’ve designed the sets and the wardrobe. We have done animatics and planned very lengthy action sequences. We have scary sequences and funny sequences and we are very, very prepared for when it’s finally triggered, but we don’t know anything until MGM is solved.”

A still from Jackson's latest film - Tintin

Two days later, Del Toro announced his departure on TheOneRing.net that “[i]n light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming”, he would “take leave from helming”, further stating that “the mounting pressures of conflicting schedules have overwhelmed the time slot originally allocated for the project. (…) I remain an ally to it and its makers, present and future, and fully support a smooth transition to a new director.” The internet went wild at the prospect of a new director and a faltering of the project everybody wanted to see. However, MGM had put all its major releases on hold including the lucrative Bond franchise. Jackson’s name was being thrown around however also mentioned were Neill Blomkap (a short film maker with only one feature, the excellent District 9, produced by Jackson, under his belt), David Yates (safe handed director responsible for the most recent Harry Potter films), terrifyingly Brett Ratner (Rush Hour trilogy, X-Men: The Last Stand) and Dave Dobkin (director of Clay Pigeons, Shanghai Knights and the Wedding Crashers) – however Jackson was responsible for Braindead, Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles and The Frighteners (directly before LOTR) so few saw Lord of the Rings coming though Jackson was clearly a capable effects director before hsi triumph with the trilogy of trilogies.

Finally, on June 25, 2010, Jackson was reported to be in negotiations to direct the two-part film. On October 16, 2010, New Line Cinema and a newly joined Warner Bros. confirmed absolutely that the Hobbit was to proceed with Jackon as the director. As well as that, both companies confirmed that The Hobbit was officially greenlit and would begin principle shooting in February, 2011. In about 7 days time….

Its been a long journey for Sir Peter Jackson. From that first meeting at New Line Cinema in which it was insisted by the studio itself that it needed to be a film for each book to the glory days of the releases, mired by the financial disputes between New Line and the Tolkien estate (to the tune of $24 million no less according to reports) and now after considerable delays and frustration, Jackson has returned to the helm of the new Tolkien film. Although Del Toro would certainly have done an excellent job nobody doubts the integrity and determination of the original director to heave into view another magical and monumental installment of the tales of Middle Earth.

There and Back Again : A Wanderers tale by Peter Jackson….

Jackson relaxing on the set of Lord of the Rings - shots of Jackson enjoying himself have been in short supply these last few years