As is becoming more and more common for comic publisher’s panels at conventions, Top Cow’s panel at WizardWorld Chicago contained a fair chunk of movie news. We’ll have the comic news in a separate report – but for now….on to Top Cow’s movie biz.
Obviously, the panel featured a staff thrilled by success of the Wanted movie based on the publisher's comic book series.
"All they're waiting for is the totals for international," said Top Cow founder Marc Silvestri, "and once we get to those numbers (and it looks like we've surpassed those numbers), the trigger will be pulled for a sequel. And we have Timur. And we have all the principal cast re-signed."
"Variety actually reported today, based on the estimates, this is Angelina Jolie's biggest opening for a film ever," said Filip Sablik, publisher.
"You've never seen Angelina like this," Silvestri said. "What she was hinting at in Tomb Raider and everything else? This is like Tomb Raider on crack. Not only do we see her tattoos, but we added some. The whole movie is absolutely balls-out.
The publisher, which released a new hardcover of the collected Wanted series, was ready to admit the comic is not followed to the letter.
"It does veer from the comic... but it veers for all the right reasons. If you have read Wanted, you already know: You cannot film that movie," Silvestri said. "Mark Millar's voice is all throughout it. He gives it his absolute stamp of approval. He loves it even though it departs, and that's a rare thing for a creator. They get very possessive of it. J.G. Jones loves it."
Silvestri said the action in the movie is top-notch. "The really cool thing about Hollywood -- and also the really screwed up thing about Hollywood -- is that we have to thank 300, because when it went through the roof, Wanted was greenlit. It was already in development, but when 300 came out, they said OK," he said. "We had a $40 million budget. OK, that's pretty cool. They can do a lot for 40 million bucks, if you spent your time and money right. Angelina came on board -- at last year's Comic-Con, we got that news -- and suddenly our $40 million was kicked up to $80 [million].
"Suddenly everything that was crossed out of the script... train chase? Gone. Car chase? Gone. Suddenly all this stuff was protected. So it's amazing what star power can buy you for an action film. So there's all this crazy over-the-top amazing stuff you get to see in the movie," he said.
"I remember watching it, and it's the same kind of feeling you got when you watched The Matrix the first time," Sablik said.
The publisher was offering discounts on Wanted merchandise at their booth for people who brought in a Wanted movie ticket stub.
The other discussion of interest to movie fans occurred during the panel when Sablik put a teaser image or the Witchblade movie onto the screen.
"We thought we were going to have something else to announce, but we can't," Sablik said of the Witchblade movie project. "We thought we'd be able to tell you the director."
Silvestri said the property is doing well, with the Witchblade TV series DVD coming out this month with extras that include an interview with Silvestri. And the movie now has a director attached to it and will definitely be a theater release.
"This is not a DVD release. This is an actual feature film. We have a budget, and we've signed on a real director, which is a guy we cannot tell you," Silvestri said. "When we're able to tell you the name, you're going to geek out. You'll know who he is."
"Let's just say it's a guy who's got chops," Sablik said.
"He's got geek cred. And we're all from that cloth, so I geeked out when he signed on. And when he did, it turned into a really good movie. We were hoping, and it's still possible, for a 2009 release. But it's probably going to be 2010. We're in no hurry. We don't want something really crappy," Silvestri said. "So right now we're working on the story. We're making sure it's good. We're looking into casting. And fortunately -- thank you to Iron Man -- now everyone wants your franchises to star in. So suddenly people who would not consider a female lead in an action role after Catwoman, now it's a good career movie. So we have some good choices."
Silvestri said he thinks the success of Iron Man and Wanted will help a lot of new comic book projects get off the ground -- particularly those with a grittier edge now that Wanted is doing so well.