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Monday, May 5, 2003

X2'S GRAND OPENING

A record-setting weekend for X2, the X-Men sequel, will likely prompt Fox to move ahead with a third installment.

According to weekend estimates, X2 pulled in $85.9 million domestically over the weekend, the fourth-best opening-weekend gross ever and a 58 percent increase over the $54.5 million first weekend of the original X-Men in 2000.

The film, which was released in 95 countries, also took in $69.3 million internationally for a total of $155.2 million.

"We are thrilled with the numbers on X2," producer Ralph Winter told The Continuum on Sunday afternoon as the weekend estimates came in. "Everyone is finding the movie to be very satisfying and that makes all of us very happy.

"I think if this continues, the studio will definitely want to make more X-Men movies. A successful movie is good for everyone in the movie business, and it's a great way to kick off the summer."

Winter, who produced Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes between X-films, might be involved in another Marvel film before the third X-Men. He has been linked to Fox's Fantastic Four.

"I am not officially on Fantastic Four yet, but I am sure we will be talking about that this week," Winter told The Continuum.

Getting the cast back together might be one of the toughest challenges for a third X-Men movie. Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Patrick Stewart (Professor Xavier), James Marsden (Cyclops), Halle Berry (Storm) and Ian McKellen (Magneto) are not signed beyond the first two films.

Jackman will follow up the currently shooting Van Helsing with The Boy from Oz on Broadway. Berry, who has expressed frustration over lack of screen time for Storm, said she will begin shooting Catwoman in September.

Despite reports by Entertainment Weekly that they are signed for a third movie, both Famke Janssen (Storm) and Anna Paquin (Rogue) have said in recent interviews they are not signed. Based on the ending of X2, Janssen's character could be crucial for the third installment.

"I'd love to play that," Janssen said, in response to an online inquiry about the Phoenix.

Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (Mystique) said she is in board for a third film, and Alan Cumming (Nightcrawler), Aaron Stanford (Pyro) and Shawn Ashmore (Iceman) will likely be back.

Bryan Singer, who directed X-Men and X2, said he is interested in a third movie, but would like to work on a different project first.

According to the Associated Press, X2 drew about 14.3 million viewers, up 4.2 million from the opening weekend for X-Men. The movie played in a record 3,741 theaters.

"Marvel today is a bona fide brand name for the movie industry," Marvel Studios president Avi Arad told AP. "More and more, the audience is catching on that when they see the Marvel logo, they know that fun is about to begin."

X2 follows Daredevil, Spider-Man, Blade II, X-Men and Blade as Marvel films to top the box office.



NEW EPISODE OF THE SIMPSONS

Fox has released a preview image from "Brake My Wife, Please," the new episode of The Simpsons scheduled to air Sunday at 8 p.m. (ET/PT).

The episode features the guest voices of Steve Buscemi, Jackson Browne and Jane Kaczmarek.

Here's how Fox describes the episode:

"When Judge Harm revokes Homer's driver's license, Marge is forced to do all the driving. She gets increasingly stressed while chauffeuring everyone around and develops road rage. So, Homer starts walking and actually begins to enjoy it as he meets many interesting people out on the street - including Steve Buscemi and Jackson Browne (guest-starring as themselves) - that is, until an enraged Marge sees Homer crossing the street and attempts to clip him with her car."



EA GETS SUPERMAN RIGHTS

Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Comics announced on Monday that Electronic Arts has been awarded the worldwide interactive rights to develop, publish and distribute computer and video games based on Superman.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"We are extremely excited about creating a whole new look and feel for the universe of Superman characters," said John Riccitiello, President and COO of Electronic Arts. "We'll work closely with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Comics to make the games compatible with the evolution of this character and the highly-anticipated film to come."

Under the multiyear agreement, EA will publish games based on the upcoming Superman feature film from Warner Bros. Pictures as well as any subsequent Superman films distributed during the term of the agreement. Beginning in 2004, the license grants EA the rights to develop game titles for all current and next generation video game consoles, handhelds and the PC. In addition, EA has the rights to produce games based on Superman comics and animated television programs.

"We are very pleased to be extending our relationship with EA once again. With the overwhelming success of the Harry Potter games, the groundbreaking co-publishing relationship on the Looney Tunes: Back in Action game, and now Superman, we are set to take our gaming franchises to superheroic heights," said Dan Romanelli, President, Warner Bros. Worldwide Consumer Products.

"Whether storylines are based on film, comics, or television, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, DC Comics and EA will work closely on the all creative fronts to create a seamless, truly interactive gaming experience that capitalizes on the strength of the Superman legacy."



BRIEFLY

  • Dynamic Forces is releasing the G.I.Joe/Transformers: Cobra/Decepticons Premiere Lithograph by Pat Lee. Measuring 18" by 24" and printed on archival 80lbs. Gallerie Silk Stock, the piece features COBRA Commander, Megatron, Soundwave, Destro, Starscream, Storm Shadow and more. It will cost $19.99.

  • Coming Tuesday: Smallville news -- and much more!!!


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