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‘Avatar: The Last Airbender,’ ‘Serenity’ get adult coloring books from Dark Horse


It’s hard getting over a cancelled TV series, but Dark Horse is making it that much less difficult by introducing new adult coloring books for cult sci-fi/fantasy properties “Serenity” and “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” On sale this fall, both books come printed on thick, heavyweight 10 x 10-inch pages, for the affordable price of $14.99 USD.

Illustrated by Jed Henry, the “Avatar” book was crafted in collaboration with series creators Michel Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko to ensure the most authentic “Avatar” coloring experience.

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Original 1966 Batmobile sells for $4.62 million at auction

On the set of "Batman" in 1966 (from Life.com)

Ever since Rick Champagne was a kid playing with his toy replica of the Batmobile, he’s wanted to own the iconic car from the 1960s Batman television series. On Saturday, that dream at last became a reality.

The Arizona businessman, and lifelong Batman fan, shelled out $4.62 million for the customized 1955 Lincoln Futura, the second-highest amount ever paid for a vehicle at the famed Barrett-Jackson collector car auctions (a 1966 Cobra Super Snake owned by auto designer and racing driver Carroll Shelby sold for a record $5.5 million in 2007).

“I’m going to keep it at home,” Champagne told SPEED TV. “Maybe take it out for a Sunday drive.” Asked whether he’d store the Batmobile in his garage, he said he’ll probably put it in his living room.

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SDCC ’12 | A roundup of news and announcements from Friday

Comic-Con International kicked into full gear Friday in a bustling second day that was capped off last night with the presentation of the 24th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. Here’s the highlights of the announcements emerging from the second day — and a few holdovers from the first day — of the San Diego convention:

• During its annual “Cup O’ Joe” panel, Marvel teased post-Avengers Vs. X-Men plans that include: A+X, described as “the opposite of [AvX: VS],” by such creators as Jeph Loeb, Dan Slott, Dale Keown and Ron Garney; Avengers Vs. X-Men: Consequences, a five-issue miniseries written by Kieron Gillen that addresses the effects of the summer crossover; Marvel NOW! Point One, featuring Nick Fury Jr.; and an October one-shot called Avengers Vs. X-Men: Babies, by Skottie Young.

• After initially dismissing Kickstarter as a potential source of money for the stalled Goon animated movie, creator Eric Powell teased he plans to launch a campaign on the crowd-funding website.

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Comics A.M. | Borders loses another $132M; Rubenstein exits Marvel


Retailing | Borders Group, the second-largest book chain in the United States, reported a loss of $132.3 million in April, its second full month in bankruptcy. That figure follows on the $52.6 million loss reported in February and March as the bookseller sought Chapter 11 protection and began liquidating 226 locations. [Detroit Free Press]

Publishing | Ira Rubenstein, executive vice president of Marvel’s Global Digital Media Group, has left the company to become executive vice president of digital marketing for 20th Century Fox. He begins the new job in Los Angeles on Monday. Rubenstein joined Marvel in 2008 after 12 years at Sony, and oversaw the launch of the publisher’s digital subscription service. His departure comes less than two weeks after news surfaced that Ron Perazza is resigning as DC Entertainment’s vice president of online. [Variety]

Publishing | Ada Price surveys the graphic novel exhibitors at this year’s BookExpo America, which opens today in New York City. [Publishers Weekly]

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Bryan Singer will produce, not direct, X-Men: First Class

Bryan Singer

Bryan Singer

Bryan Singer will move from directing to producing X-Men: First Class to enable 20th Century Fox to move quickly on the film, which the studio hopes to release next year, Deadline reports.

That means we could see a 2011 movie slate with Thor, The First Avenger: Captain America and X-Men: First Class — plus Green Lantern, courtesy of Warner Bros.

Singer, who directed the first two films in the X-Men franchise, announced in December that he had signed on to direct First Class (he’s also rumored to helm the sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine). However, according to Deadline, Fox is so pleased with the First Class script Jamie Moss (Street Kings) wrote from Singer’s treatment that the studio wants to push forward. But Singer is tied up this summer with Jack the Giant Killer, so he’ll join Lauren Shuler Donner and Simon Kinberg as a producer.

“Last December, Singer agreed to direct the First Class prequel after the studio sparked to his detailed treatment,” Deadline’s Mike Fleming wrote, “with the studio knowing full well Singer would likely make the other movie first. The willingness to wait changed when execs flipped for Moss’s script.”

Singer told the Los Angeles Times last week that while the prequel will deal with the early days of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, the focus will be on the relationship between Charles Xavier and Magneto.

“Just doing younger mutants is not enough,” Singer told the newspaper. “The story needs to be more than that. I love the relationship between Magneto and Xavier, these two men who have diametrically opposite points of view but still manage to be friends — to a point. They are the ultimate frenemies.”

Wolverine sequel, set in Japan, to start production in January

Wolverine #1

Wolverine #1

A Wolverine movie sequel based on the 1982 miniseries by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller reportedly will begin production in January.

The Hollywood Reporter‘s Roger Friedman confirms earlier reports that the follow-up to 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine will be a tale of martial arts and romance set in Japan.

The script is by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie). No director has been signed.

Claremont and Miller’s four-issue series — Wolverine’s first solo comic — is a story of love, honor and revenge, with Logan battling ninjas and the politics of the criminal underworld for the heart of his ex-lover, the daughter of a Japanese crime lord. Just to make life more complicated, as assassin hired to kill Logan ends up falling for him. Star Hugh Jackman has called the miniseries his favorite Wolverine story.

The $150-million X-Men Origins: Wolverine, from 20th Century Fox, grossed $373 million worldwide.

Screenwriter hired for Daredevil movie reboot



Spider-Man isn’t the only Marvel superhero-movie franchise destined for a reboot. Fox-affiliated New Regency, which produced 2003’s Daredevil, has hired screenwriter David Scarpa to have another go at the Man Without Fear.

The first movie, which starred Ben Affleck, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Garner, received mixed reviews at best, grossed about $102 million domestically and spawned the widely panned spin-off Elektra.

Rumors of a Daredevil do-over have circulated since at least 2008, when in the wake of a tepid summer 20th Century Fox reassessed its superhero properties.

By pushing forward with the reboot, the studio bolsters its superhero slate — Fox holds the X-Men and Fantastic Four licenses — and keeps the property in active development, which prevents it from reverting back to Marvel.

Scarpa wrote the screenplays for the 2001 thriller The Last Castle and the 2008 remake of the sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still. The first Daredevil was written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson, who went on to helm Ghost Rider.

Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Legal | On Thursday 20th Century Fox filed six lawsuits against several dozen people the studio claims sold DVDs containing unfinished versions of X-Men Origins: Wolverine before the movie’s May 1, 2009, theatrical release.

In December, the FBI arrested Gilberto Sanchez, a New York man suspected of uploading an unfinished edit of the film to a file-sharing website. Sanchez claims he purchased the bootleg for $5 from a street vendor. [Media Decoder]

Legal | The Department of Justice has delivered another blow to Google’s controversial plan to make millions of out-of-print books available online. In a statement issued Thursday night, the DOJ said that despite “good faith” efforts, the revised agreement still suffers from class certification, copyright and antitrust issues. A hearing on the proposed agreement is scheduled for Feb. 18. [Publishers Weekly, Epicenter]

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Peter Bagge’s Bradleys are heading for FOX

Move over, American Dad

Move over, American Dad

Could Buddy Bradley be the next Bart Simpson? That’s the tantalizing possibility presented by Fantagraphics’ Eric Reynolds today, as he revealed that writer/artist Peter Bagge has signed a deal with the FOX network to produce a pilot for a potential prime-time animated series based on the Bradleys, the less-than-functional family at the heart of Bagge’s series Neat Stuff and Hate. The show would reportedly focus on Buddy’s teen years at home.

This caps off a rather high-profile few months for Bagge (ahem, Professor Bagge) , a period that has seen the release of his political-strip collection Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me from Fantagraphics and his long-suppressed Incorrigible Hulk story in Marvel’s Strange Tales anthology. No word yet on whether he plans to have Mrs. Bradley pose for Playboy.

Fox looks up and shouts ‘8.5%,’ Warner Bros. whispers ‘OK’

Rorschach, from "Watchmen"

Rorschach, from "Watchmen"

Details are still trickling out about the terms of the settlement that brings to an end the bitter feud between Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox over the Watchmen movie.

The agreement, revealed late Thursday, clears the way for Warner Bros. to distribute its $130-million adaptation of the 1986 DC Comics miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The Zack Snyder-directed movie is set for release on March 6.

Although the details of the settlement won’t be disclosed by the studios, The New York Times’ Carpetbagger blog reported last night that Fox will get a cut of profits from Watchmen and any sequels or spinoffs, and recoup its development costs and legal fees.

Variety now provides more concrete figures: Fox’s gross participation will be on a sliding scale, ranging between 5 percent and 8.5 percent, depending on Watchmen‘s worldwide revenues. The studio reportedly also will receive between $5 million and $10 million upfront to cover the other expenses.

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Studios will announce Watchmen settlement Friday morning [Update]



Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox will announce Friday morning that they have resolved the lawsuit regarding the $130-million Watchmen movie.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the studios will present the settlement at 9:30 a.m. (PST) to U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess and request that the case be dismissed.

Although the terms of the agreement won’t be disclosed, the trade paper reports “it is said to involve a sizable cash payment to Fox and a percentage of the film’s box office.”

The studios are expected to release a joint statement on Friday.

Fox filed the lawsuit in February, claiming it still holds the movie rights to the 1986 DC Comics miniseries, which it had acquired in the late ’80s for producer Lawrence Gordon. Although the project passed from studio to studio over the next two decades before finally settling at Warner Bros., Fox asserted Gordon had never obtained the necessary rights from the studio.

Feess agreed, ruling on Dec. 24 that “Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the Watchmen motion picture.”

Attorneys for the two studios began settlement talks five days later, ahead of an expected Jan. 20 decision from Feess on whether Fox could block release of the movie. Negotiations reportedly “got serious” last weekend after the judge postponed a settlement hearing so the studios could meet further.

If everything goes as planned in the morning, Warner Bros. will release Watchmen on March 6.

(Note: Post updated to replace earlier reporting from The Hollywood Reporter’s media-law blog with expanded information from the trade paper.)

Update 2 (8:26 p.m. PST): Details of the agreement — y’know, the one whose terms supposedly won’t be disclosed — already are leaking out.

The New York Times’ Carpetbagger blog reports Fox will get a cut of gross receipts of Watchmen or any sequels or spinoffs — as much as 8.5 percent — which could end up amounting to tens of millions of dollars. The studio also will recoup its development costs and legal fees, which amounts to millions of dollars more.

Watchmen legal battle could end today



The bitter legal feud over the Warner Bros. adaptation of Watchmen could be resolved as early as today.

Rodney Perkins of Film Esq. notes that attorneys for 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. filed a request yesterday with U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess for a hearing at 3:30 p.m. “to report on a final resolution or, alternatively, to discuss how to proceed on January 20, 2009.”

According to the document, the studios began settlement talks on Dec. 29, just five days after Feess ruled that Fox owns a copyright interest in Watchmen because of a tangled development history that dates back to the late 1980s.

Early last week the two sides agreed to allow Feess to decide in a planned Jan. 20 hearing whether Fox could block the release of the $130-million movie.

However, negotiations reportedly “got serious” last weekend after the judge postponed a settlement hearing so the studios could meet further.

If the studios come to an agreement, Watchmen will be released on March 6.

Developing …

Studios ‘close’ to settlement in Watchmen lawsuit



Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox reportedly are “close” to reaching an agreement in the bitter lawsuit over the $130-million Watchmen movie.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, negotiations between the two sides “got serious” over the weekend after U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess postponed a status hearing so the studios could pursue settlement talks.

Attorneys met yesterday for 30 minutes behind closed doors in Los Angeles federal court to discuss details. Neither studio would comment, but the trade paper notes that Warner Bros. hasn’t pressed its earlier request to move up the injunction hearing, “suggesting a settlement is near.”

Fox filed the lawsuit in February, claiming it owned the movie rights to Watchmen, based on the 1986 DC Comics miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. In December Feess ruled that Fox owns a copyright interest in the movie because of a tangled development history that dates back to the late 1980s. Last week the studios agreed to allow the judge to decide whether Fox can block release of the movie.

Over the weekend, tea-leaf readers gleaned positive signs from settlement talks in the small rollout of a Watchmen TV campaign, and in the body language of studio executives during the Golden Globes ceremony.

If an agreement is reached, Watchmen will open in theaters on March 6.

Related: The Los Angeles Times looks at what the lawsuit could mean for producer Larry Gordon, who’s at the center of the bitter feud.

Settlement likely in bitter Watchmen dispute [Update]



In what seems like promising news, a federal judge has postponed today’s hearing on the status of the Watchmen lawsuit so attorneys for Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox may pursue settlement talks.

Michael Cieply of The New York Times reports that the hearing has been rescheduled for 3:30 p.m. Monday.

Fox filed the lawsuit in February, claiming it owned the movie rights to Watchmen, based on the 1986 DC Comics miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. In December U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess ruled that Fox owns a copyright interest in the movie because of a tangled development history that dates back to the late 1980s.

Earlier this week, attorneys for both studios agreed to allow Feess to determine whether Fox can block Warner Bros.’ planned March 6 release of the $130 million film. Today’s hearing was for the judge to decide whether he’d rule on Jan. 20 or, as Warner Bros. had requested, on Monday.

Update: Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood Daily has a few more details: “According to court documents, Fox and Warner Bros have conducted the settlement talks since last weekend and made concessions. This is surprising since WB lawyers announced they would continue to fight immediately after Feess announced his intention to rule in favor of Fox for copyight infringement and distribution rights.”

As studios await Watchmen decision, producers speak out



A federal judge could announce today whether he’ll hear arguments about the release of Watchmen on Monday rather than Jan. 20. But while Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and countless fans wait anxiously for the decision, not everyone is waiting quietly.

On Jan. 5, attorneys for the two studios agreed to allow U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess to decide if Fox can block distribution of the highly anticipated adaptation, now scheduled for a March 6 release. Arguing that “time is of the essence,” lawyers for Warner Bros. have asked that the hearing be moved up.

At the center of the bitter legal battle is producer Lawrence Gordon, for whom Fox originally secured the movie rights two decades ago. Now Gordon, whom The Hollywood Reporter says “is tired of being the villain,” has written a lengthy letter to Feess blaming Fox and his former lawyers for the mess, and offering his own version of events.

Citing “improper communication” in violation of court rules, Feess refused to read the letter.

In December Feess ruled that Fox owns a copyright interest in Watchmen because of a tangled development history that dates back to the late 1980s, when the studio acquired the rights to the Alan Moore-Dave Gibbons comic Gordon. The movie passed from studio to studio over the next two decades before finally settling at Warner Bros.

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