News Briefs

DreamWorks Animation announced Tuesday that David Geffen has resigned from its board of directors but will remain a major shareholder. Jeffrey Katzenberg issued a statement saying that he looked forward “to working with David as a trusted adviser going forward.” It is unclear what role, if any, Steven Spielberg continues to play in the affairs of the animation studio.

Steven Spielberg is returning to Universal Studios, where he began his career as an unpaid intern in the 1960s (after first sneaking into the studio by, as he said, “looking important,”). Under a seven-year deal, Universal will distribute movies produced by his DreamWorks company and financed by India’s Reliance entertainment conglomerate. He’ll be joined by DreamWorks’ CEO Stacey Snider, but David Geffen, who reportedly negotiated the deals with Reliance and Universal and the exit from Paramount, will be leaving the company. Spielberg acknowledged that the Walt Disney Company had also made him an attractive offer to distribute the six DreamWorks films that he has said the company will produce annually. He told today’s (Tuesday) Wall Street Journal, “It was a tough decision because I love the whole legacy of the Walt Disney Co. … But when it came down to my final decision, it was about my feeling that it was right to return to the lot that gave me my first chance to be a director.” Although Paramount has distributed DreamWorks’ movies since 2006, Spielberg kept his offices on Universal’s lot. “Even coming through the gate this morning actually felt different,” he told today’s New York Times. “I felt better. Less like a squatter.” And in an interview with USA Today, Snider added: “It was really a decision not about terms or money, but ‘where do we belong?’ Steven and I felt the most comfortable there.” Snider also has a long history at Universal, having spent nine years there as a top executive.

Robert Downey Jr. has just signed on to do two more Iron Man movies as well as the superhero flick The Avengers.

XXX: The Return of Xander Cage will likely begin filming sometime in early 2009. Of it, Collider reported that director Rob Cohen has revealed the matter through a recent interview saying, “We met the writers yesterday and we’re trying to get into production by late spring, to have it out for the summer of 2010.” On the occasion, he also made time to confirm that this new XXX project will team him up once again with action man Vin Diesel who will reprise his role as Xander Cage, a law-breaking extreme sports enthusiast-turned-government agent. “Yes, they’re doing it with me and producer Joe Roth. We made the deal recently, it’s named XXX: The Return of Xander Cage,” he exclaimed. Despite Cohen’s remark on the filming plan, details on the third installment of XXX remain under tight wraps. Still, it is known that Columbia Pictures are looking forward to develop this second sequel.

Iron Man director Jon Favreau has seen parts of James Cameron’s highly anticipated Avatar and tells Ain’t It Cool News: “…he’s really pushing the boundaries on motion capture, he’s integrating live action with motion capture and CGI. It takes a painstaking and technical approach to that. And he really wants to make it a very visceral, emotional experience and he’s … he’s a bit of a P.T. Barnum in the sense that he likes to put on a big show.”

Being the replaced man in Imagine Me & You, Matthew Goode (soon-to-be Watchmen) managed to balance the anger and loneliness of being second place while his wife found true love with their wedding florist. Now The Hollywood Reporter posts that he will be starring in A Single Man along with Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. This is Tom Ford’s adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel about a gay Englishman and professor named George (Firth). Over the course of one day, the story follows George as he tries to continue his normal life and routine after the death of his partner Jim (Goode). Moore will play one of his fellow professors.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal has picked up the movie rights to the upcoming Viper Comics graphic novel Villains. Universal reportedly paid a mid-six-figure sum for the rights, which could prove profitable if the lesser-known property enjoys the same super-hero buzz that other films in the genre have yielded. Sean Bailey produces via his Idealogy banner, and Matt Jennison and Brent Strickland are set to write the screenplay. Jennison and Strickland are also working on the stalled Wonder Woman for Warner Brothers and Joel Silver. Villains, not to be confused with the current Heroes volume on NBC, is a four issue mini-series by Adam Cogan and Ryan Cody. Villains focuses on Nick Corrigan, “an aimless 20-something who discovers that his aging neighbor used to be the notorious supervillain known as ‘Hardliner,’ now retired and living in hiding for the past few decades. Rather than turn him in to the authorities, Nick decides to blackmail him in exchange for lessons in the fine art of career super-crime. But the old pro is about to teach his student some lessons he’ll never forget.”

Bill Mechanic, the former chairman of 20th Century Fox and now founder of independent production company Pandemonium, told Collider that the long planned adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis’ Torso is heading into production soon. “Torso is moving right towards the starting gate,” Mechanic tells the site. “We’ve got a screenplay and we’re waiting for Paramount to decide when to make it.” He also confirms what many have heard: David Fincher will direct the feature. “I’m hoping we’re shooting in March or April … [so] it should be [Fincher’s next project],” says Mechanic. And while he has a ton of faith in the project, he does admit that there will be departures from the source material, much in the way that the movie Fight Club broke off from the novel. “Torso the movie, which may not be called Torso the movie at the end of the day … makes the book better reading because it doesn’t follow [the book] literally,” Mechanic says. Torso is a historical fiction limited series published by Image Comics. The story focuses on the “Torso Murderer,” an actual serial killer in the 1930’s who left behind only the torsos of his victims, making them very difficult to identify for police without DNA testing. The investigator on the case and protagonist of Torso is Eliot Ness, Cleveland Chief of police and one-time head of the Untouchables, the police task force that enforced Prohibition and went after crime lord Al Capone.

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