Wednesday, 31 March 2021
Modiphius unveil the FALLOUT tabletop roleplaying game
Tuesday, 30 March 2021
GAME OF THRONES stage play will tell the true story of the Great Harrenhal Tourney
AMERICAN GODS cancelled at Starz
The show also experienced a high cast turnover, with Gillian Anderson and Kristin Chenoweth departing after Season 1 and Pablo Shreiber and Orlando Jones departing after Season 2 (the former after being cast as the lead in the Halo TV series), although the core cast of Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Emily Browning, Crispin Glover, Bruce Langley and Yetide Badaki remained intact.
HBO renews George RR Martin development deal
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
The Unseen University, the centre of magical learning on the Discworld, a building whose endless rooftops make Gormenghast look like a toolshed on a railway allotment and whose faculty are the guardians of magic for the whole world. Of course, wizards are renowned for being incredibly intelligent but not very smart, and when Drum Billet realises his time is almost up he decides to pass on his staff to the eighth son of a poor blacksmith, himself an eighth son, and thus a potential great wizard. Unfortunately, he neglects to check the baby's gender first...
After two unexpectedly bestselling novels, Terry Pratchett changed gears in his writing career. He quit his day job as a press officer for a nuclear power station and became a full-time writer, churning out two volumes a year for more than a decade. He also adjusted his vision of what the Discworld series could be. No more a series of satires of fantasy or fairy tale tropes, he decided that he could take any subject and make a Discworld novel about it.
Equal Rites is the first novel to employ this approach. No previous characters from the first two books turn up (with one orange-furred and banana-stained exception), and there isn't even any mention of those events. Instead we have new characters having new adventures. Pratchett also starts to use his creation to address real-world concerns here, in this case, well, equal rights for those of a nonmale persuasion. The humour remains fairly broad, but you can almost sense the author thinking at this point that maybe the funny planet with the turtle and elephants can be used for something more interesting than just poking fun at Lovecraft and Conan the Barbarian, amusing as that may be. Unfortunately, this idea falters a bit since Esk's story is meant to make Unseen University a co-ed establishment, bringing in female wizards and making it more equal. As later books show, none of this happens, Esk doesn't show up again until more than thirty books down the line and UU remains a male-only establishment in the later novels. Given how well Pratchett develops his world, this lack of evolution is mildly disappointing.
That's more a problem with the later books than this one, though. As with several other early Discworld books, there is something of a lack of focus here. The book starts off as a travelogue, with Granny Weatherwax and Esk travelling to Ankh-Morpork from the tiny Ramtops village of Bad Ass (later retconned into the Kingdom of Lancre, the setting for many later books), though the limited page count (Equal Rites barely cracks 200 pages in paperback) and the need for a Big Finale in Ankh-Morpork curtails this element just as it's getting interesting and we quickly (via a jump-started, second-hand broomstick) move to the city and the ending which - and stop me if you've (already) heard this one before - involves the threat of Unspeakable Things from the Dungeon Dimensions erupting through the skein of reality to destroy the universe. Again.
In terms of character, it's hard to argue with the book: Esk is a well-defined protagonist and Granny Weatherwax, of course, is one of Pratchett's signature characters, a formidable and solid figure whose common sense sometimes feels a bit adrift in a world as off-kilter as this one (Pratchett uses the Only Sane Person idea a lot in the series, but none are saner than Granny Weatherwax). This is still very much a proto-Granny, not the much more complex and sophisticated character of the later novels, but it's fun to revisit the somewhat simpler village witch and see her evolution and growth into a stronger and more interesting figure. Among Discworld characters, only arguably Sam Vimes of the City Watch can match this kind of evolution. We also get our first sympathetic Archchancellor of Unseen University, Cutangle, and it's rather a shame he doesn't show up again (though given the events of Sourcery, that might be for the best, for him at any rate).
Equal Rites (***½) is important as the first Discworld novel where Pratchett changes gears and realises he can tell self-contained stories about this world not involving Rincewind and Twoflower, and use the Discworld as a reflection for real-world concerns as well as simply being funny. It's still Early Pratchett, with a bit of a reliance on standby ideas, but you can see the growing ambition and craft on display here. The novel is available in the UK and USA.
I previously reviewed the book here.
Monday, 29 March 2021
STAR WARS: OBI-WAN announces main cast
Friday, 26 March 2021
Chris Wooding's EMBER BLADE sequel on temporary hold
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
Thursday, 25 March 2021
ROME: TOTAL WAR REMASTERED announced for release next month
Wednesday, 24 March 2021
Peter S. Beagle regains control of THE LAST UNICORN and other works
Tuesday, 23 March 2021
Marvel announces simultaneous cinema-streaming release for BLACK WIDOW
After more than a year of speculation and delay, Disney and Marvel have thrown in the towel and confirmed that the next Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, Black Widow, will get a simultaneous cinema and Disney+ release on 9 July.
The film was originally set for release on 1 May 2020, but the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic put paid to those ideas. The film was initially delayed until November 2020 and then May 2021 as the pandemic continued to unfold.
However, the continuous delays caused significant headaches for Marvel, who had a whole raft of additional MCU movies in production for release after Black Widow. Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings both also saw their originally-scheduled release dates shifted back due to the pandemic, with another three films currently shooting (Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder) and three more in pre-production for filming to begin soon (Black Panther II, Captain Marvel 2 and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania).
Further complicating matters was a raft of MCU-set TV shows, some of which are due to tie in with the upcoming movies. The recently-aired WandaVision, for example, sets up plot points that will be further explored in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, whilst a character introduced in Black Widow will recur in Hawkeye, due to air at the end of this year. Delaying the films continuously risks breaking the ties of continuity between the various Marvel projects.
Although the vaccination programme is proceeding apace in several countries, such as the UK, USA and Israel, it is off to a much slower start in mainland Europe, and even in countries where vaccinations are proceeding well, it's far from clear if cinemas will be able to open in May (the UK is not expecting to reopen cinemas until June at present). Delaying the film to July gives countries more time to proceed further in vaccinations and the Disney+ option gets the film in front of fans who will still be unable to see the film in cinemas.
This will be a Disney+ Premier Access release, so an additional payment will be required on top of the standard Disney+ subscription, in line with other Disney+ premier movies like Mulan.
Disney have also confirmed that Cruella will also have a joint cinema/Disney+ launch on 28 May, whilst Pixar's Luca will launch exclusively on Disney+ on 18 June.
The shuffles have also dropped Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings back to 3 September. At present it is listed only for a cinema release. The release dates for the remaining Marvel Phase 4 films remain unaffected, although industry experts are now wondering if Marvel will want such a rapid release of films: Black Widow on 9 July, Shang-Chi on 3 September, Eternals on 5 November and Spider-Man: No Way Home on 17 December. However, with Doctor Strange 2 locked in for March 2022, Thor 4 due in May, Black Panther II in July and Captain Marvel 2 in November, they don't have much room to maneuver.
A Potted History of Cyberpunk: Part 2
Neo-Tokyo is About to Explode
The backstory to Akira has Tokyo destroyed by an unknown phenomenon in 1992. Hours later, World War III begins and devastates the world, leading to the annihilation of most of the world’s major cities. Thirty-eight years later, the city of Neo-Tokyo has arisen out of the ashes of the old world, a city of gleaming mega-skyscrapers surrounded by the desolate ruins of the old city. The story follows a biker gang led by the charismatic Kaneda and backed up by his best friend Tetsuo. Tetsuo becomes afflicted by strange abilities, the result of a government experiment into psychokinetic energy, and loses control, going on a murderous rampage that attracts the attention of the government. Kaneda’s attempts to help his friend are complicated by the growing danger that Tetsuo presents to his friends and to innocents, and by a government conspiracy to cover up their culpability for these events.
Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira was a cyberpunk epic, more than 2,000 pages long, (both drawn and written by Otomo) serialised in Young Magazine over eight years. It began in 1982, attracting immediate critical acclaim and attention, with Otomo soon being courted to develop a film adaptation. Otomo rejected initial overtures, insisting on having full creative control and being allowed to use a fluid animation style far beyond that seen in most anime productions, which necessitated a massive budget. The rising fame and acclaim of the manga saw his requirements eventually met and the feature film version of Akira (featuring a hugely compressed version of the manga’s storyline, with many subplots and characters omitted) was released in 1988, more than two years before the manga itself concluded. A phenomenon at home and in the West, Akira played a key role in the rise in popularity of anime outside Japan and also the rise of the cyberpunk genre in Japan.
The manga even improved real-life technology: a colourised version of the comic was the first comic to ever use digital colouring techniques, which would later become standardised in the industry.
Akira was hugely influential and important in the development of cyberpunk, but its influence was not felt outside of Japan for some years.
Disney were an unlikely choice to produce the second movie to expand on cyberpunk’s visual identity. As it happened, the development happened almost by accident. Animator-director Steven Lisberger had grown fascinated by computer graphics in the late 1970s and had become intrigued at the idea of creating a film completely based around them. Computer graphics were increasingly used in films – such as the targeting computers and simulation of the Death Star trench run in Star Wars (1977) – but the hardware was simply not up to the task of rendering an entire movie in anything like a reasonable time frame, or at an acceptable level of detail.
Lisberger was frustrated, but decided that traditional forms of animation could be used to simulate computer-generated imagery, in particular the use of backlit animation, which was seen as a bridge between the disco aesthetics of the late 1970s and the computer-driven effects that started coming into more widespread use in the 1980s. He took the idea to several studios, but none bit apart from Disney. Disney wanted to make more daring and interesting films, and took a chance on the idea after being impressed by test footage. However, Lisberger quickly discovered that Disney was incredibly cliquey. The animation division was less-than-friendly to outsiders and he was unable to recruit any Disney animators to work on the project, having to outsource to a Taiwan studio instead.
The resulting film, released in 1982, was TRON. An oddball film, it features a man who is literally teleported into a computer system controlled by a hostile AI. Inside the computer system he finds programmes trying to “rebel” against the dictatorial control of the AI and helps them in their struggle, eventually succeeding despite incredible odds. The film was a modest success and its dazzling visuals – particularly the lightcycles and tanks – were acclaimed. The story wasn’t entirely coherent and perhaps a tad too fantastical to be hugely influential on the nascent subgenre, but it did overcome the perception that cyberpunk could be more cerebral than visually spectacular.
In the meantime, it fell to a batch of American literary authors to bring the idea to a wider audience…and give it a name.
In 1980, American SF author Bruce Bethke wrote a story about a young man, Mikey, who is a troublemaking computer hacker who has online friendships and interfering parents. Mikey uses his skills to overcome interference from his parents in his life. Bethke pondered various titles for the story but settled on “Cyberpunk” – or, in the novel-length version, Cyberpunk! – as a name to sum up his rebellious protagonist.
“Cyberpunk” did the rounds of various magazines and collections before being finally published in 1983 in Amazing Stories. Though the story was delayed before being published, the title became known in editorial circles and started being used more widely; editor Gardner Dozois is credited with helping spread and normalise the term in discussing an increase number of stories utilising the same approach: near future, computer-heavy, usually involving an interface between human and machine and featuring rebellious protagonists. A key moment came in 1984 when Dozois wrote an article for The Washington Post which popularised the movement to the masses for the first time.
Cyberpunk had a visual and audio aesthetic, thanks to Blade Runner. It had a name, thanks to Bruce Bethke. But what it was still lacking was a work that codified and summarised the movement, a Lord of the Rings which everyone could point to and say, “Yes, that’s what this is all about.”
William Ford Gibson was born in Conway, South Carolina, in 1948. Mostly raised in Virginia, his family moved around a lot when he was young. After the abrupt death of his father, he found his home town confining and small-minded, and escaped by reading a mixture of science fiction and Beat literature. He moved to Canada in 1967, ostensibly to avoid the draft for the Vietnam War, but he later noted he wasn’t in much danger of being drafted after he spent an interview with the draft board talking about an ambition to imbibe every “mind-altering substance in existence.”
In 1977 Gibson published his first story: “Fragments of a Hologram Rose.” The story relates the experiences of a jilted lover who relies on artificial dreams to sleep in a polluted, enigmatic story. Gibson’s output was limited and his discontinued writing for several years, until he attended an SF convention and met author John Shirley, who shared his interest in punk music. Shirley introduced Gibson to Bruce Sterling and Lewis Shiner. All four were interested in the idea of fusing science fiction with postmodernism to bring more contemporary ideas to the genre, a furthering of the “New Wave” of the preceding decade but on a greater scale. Inspired and fired up, Gibson wrote a short story called “Burning Chrome,” a story of two freelance hackers who fall in love with the same woman. They undertake various crimes using advanced software called “icebreakers” to operate in “cyberspace” – the first time the term ever appeared in print – against the backdrop of the Sprawl, a massive mega-city that has accumulated out of the Eastern Seaboard metropolises. Gibson had preceded that story with “Johnny Mnemonic,” a story about a man with a cybernetically-enhanced brain carrying password-protected information, the contents of which he has absolutely no idea.
A key moment came at ArmadilloCon, a science fiction convention held in Austin, Texas in late 1982, when Gibson, Shiner, Sterling and Shirley appeared on a panel called “Behind the Mirrorshades: A Look at Punk SF.” On the panel and in discussions in rooms and in bars afterwards, the foursome and assorted other writers and fans thrashed out the idea of a new form of SF which mixed fashion, drugs and politics, whilst embracing some of the new, cool aesthetics of the time: Japan, MTV and early experiments in CGI.
The development of Gibson’s writing abruptly curved upwards in 1982 when editor Terry Carr of Ace Books offered to publish Gibson’s first novel, an offer which Gibson was both awed and slightly confused by, as he didn’t have a novel in development. In fact, he considered himself to be at least five years away from being capable of writing a novel, but scrambled to meet Carr’s request, recognising that the opportunity was not to be squandered. Gibson continued to develop ideas from his short fiction, setting the novel in the Sprawl which both “Johnny Mnemonic” and “Burning Chrome” had inhabited, but expanding a story across a grander scale. Gibson suffered reversals of confidence during the writing process – panicking after a viewing of Blade Runner that he’d be accused of ripping the film off – but ultimately completed the novel after rewriting it a dozen times.
The novel, published in July 1984, was entitled Neuromancer, the title being a play on “necromancer,” a term for someone able to raise the dead. The novel follows computer hacker Henry Case, a washed-out computer hacker hired for one last case – heavy shades of noir fiction – and encounters mysteries and events culminating in the discovery of a powerful AI straining to overcome the limitations placed upon it by humanity.
Neuromancer was an immediate critical success, winning the Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick awards on publication, and Gibson was encouraged to write a sequel (despite trying to sabotage the prospect during the writing of Neuromancer itself by closing down narrative avenues for the story to continue). Count Zero (1986) and Mona Lisa Overdrive(1988) were almost as well-received as Neuromancer itself, the three books becoming collectively known as The Sprawl Trilogy. A collection of Gibson’s short fiction, Burning Chrome, was published in 1986 as an addendum to the trilogy.
No sooner had Gibson completed the work, then he distanced himself – somewhat – from the subgenre he’d helped popularise and moved into the realm of alternate history, joining forces with Bruce Sterling to write a novel set in an alternative, more advanced Victorian setting. The result was The Difference Engine, which helped give rise to the “steampunk” genre.
Dicing on the Edge
In 1986, Walter Jon Williams released the novel Hardwired. Williams was an author in the right place at the right time: he was halfway through writing his novel about futuristic rebels equipped with neural interfaces fighting corporations based in Earth orbit when Gibson dropped Neuromancer, and the book was well-placed to capitalise on the booming interest in cyberpunk that followed. Whilst cash-in books in the wake of cyberpunk of were not uncommon, Williams found that Hardwired garnered a much more positive reception, with strong sales and critical praise.
Williams was also a tabletop gamer, and for some years had been playing in a postmodern superhero roleplaying game run by his friend George R.R. Martin and also including members of an informal Albuquerque-Santa Fe SFF author collective: Melinda Snodgrass (who was about to start work on Star Trek: The Next Generation), Victor Milan, and John J. and Gail Gerstner-Miller. Martin had the brainwave of turning the roleplaying game into an anthology series, resulting in the Wild Cards series, with a number of authors from the nascent cyberpunk movement getting involved, including Pat Cadigan and Lewis Shiner. Wild Cards wasn’t cyberpunk, but used some of the same literary languages and weaponry to invigorate the superhero genre (across the Atlantic, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons had the same idea in a new comic series they were writing for DC, Watchmen) in the same way that cyberpunk had done for science fiction.
Influences extend backwards and forwards, and even as Williams took part in the direction of moving from a tabletop game to writing fiction, another group of writers took the ideas he had put forwards in Hardwired and translated them into a tabletop roleplaying game. Most notable in this group was Mike Pondsmith, who had worked in board games and tabletop roleplaying games for many ears. Pondsmith had played Dungeons and Dragons (1974), which he was cool on, and Traveller (1977), a space opera roleplaying game which he was much more enthusiastic about, going as far as rewriting the rules to his own specifications as a game called Imperial Star (which he kept to himself for legal purposes).
Pondsmith’s first solo-developed game was Mekton (1984), which replicated anime-style mech combat in an original setting (albeit one based, in aesthetics at least, on Mobile Suit Gundam). The game was a success and he founded his own company, R. Talsorian Games, to exploit it further.
Pondsmith had heard news about the growing cyberpunk movement but had not read any of the work coming out of it. As well as working on his own games, he was providing support to TSR on their Forgotten Realms adventure line and was also consulting with West End Games on their Star Wars licence. However, a group of friends and co-designers (including Mike Blum, Colin Fisk, Dave Friedland, Will Moss and Scott Ruggels) suggested they work on a cyberpunk game and encouraged Pondsmith to read Hardwired. Impressed by the novel, Pondsmith and his friends set about re-engineering it into an original setting: a futuristic Californian metropolis called Night City in the improbably distant future of 2013. Perhaps a tad cheekily, they realised the genre name “cyberpunk” had not been trademarked and snatched it up for their game.
Released in 1988, Cyberpunk: The Roleplaying Game of the Dark Future (the first edition of the Cyberpunk RPG line) was an immediate smash hit success in the world of roleplaying games. Whilst tabletop roleplaying games had expanded from their fantasy origins to incorporate a number of different genres and ideas, Cyberpunk’s emphasis on a near-future setting, complete with familiar (if enhanced) weapons and politics was refreshing. The rules for hacking and cyberspace also added a different feel to the game.
Cyberpunk was a hit and numerous expansions and supplements followed. Pondsmith repaid Walter Jon Williams for the original idea by licensing Hardwired for a series of supplements incorporating its setting and ideas into the game. The second and arguably definitive edition of the game, Cyberpunk 2020, was published in 1990. The fourth and more recent edition, Cyberpunk Red, was published in (appropriately) 2020.
Cyberpunk’s success inspired other games to dive into the same genre. The popular universal rules system GURPS (1986) developed several cyberpunk spin-offs, but arguably the biggest and most successful derived game was Shadowrun (1989), which somewhat bizarrely fused Cyberpunk with Dungeons & Dragons.
By the start of the 1990s, cyberpunk had become more widespread and popular, but also seemed to be running out of steam. Gibson had moved on to other genres, and space opera was making a resurgence. Articles and thinkpieces asking if cyberpunk was dead started appearing. It was clear that cyberpunk was not dead, but it was going to have to evolve to survive.
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
Ankh-Morpork is the greatest city on the Discworld - a flat planet carried through space on the back of four elephants standing astride a giant turtle - and has seen fire, flood, famine and even the odd barbarian invasion during its long history, but even it is unprepared for the arrival of a much more devastating threat: tourism. Twoflower is the first visitor to the city from the distant Agatean Empire, and is happy wandering around taking "pictures of the sights" with a magic box and soaking up the authentic atmosphere. This behaviour in Ankh-Morpork would normally result in him having the lifespan of a mayfly confronted by a supernova, but luckily the wizard Rincewind has kindly volunteered to be his guide and protector in return for not having his extremities removed by the city's Patrician, who is anxious to avoid insulting a foreign power with an army in the millions.
Unfortunately, Twoflower's attempts to introduce the concept of fire insurance to the hardy and creative business-owners of Ankh-Morpork results in an enforced flight from the burning metropolis and the beginning of a long and very strange journey across the Disc, taking in dragons, spaceships and the fabled temple of Bel-Shamharoth along the way. All the while the only spell that has ever managed to lodge itself in Rincewind's mind is very keen to get itself said, which could be a very bad idea indeed...
Monday, 22 March 2021
Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott
Friday, 19 March 2021
HBO developing numerous additional GAME OF THRONES spin-off projects
HBO has put three more Game of Thrones spin-off shows into development.
As is well-known, HBO developed six spin-off projects before the original show even finished, fielding ideas including a prequel set in the Valyrian Freehold before its collapse, before settling on a show about the rise of the White Walkers, set between four and five thousand years before the events of the original show and books. However, that project (The Longest Night) only made it to the pilot stage before a changing regime at HBO decided to drop it.
The new regime subsequently greenlit House of the Dragon, an epic story set just under 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones and relating the events of the Dance of Dragons, a bloody civil war within House Targaryen, with both sides armed with dragons. That show is due to start shooting in the next few weeks.
It sounds like the prior plan was to see how House of the Dragon does before considering additional Westeros-set projects. However, the advent of American streaming service HBO Max, which has been slightly underperforming in terms of subscribers, has seen a desire to get more buzz-worthy shows on the screen and Warner Brothers have seen George R.R. Martin's novels, short stories and source material as a potential goldmine if they can exploit it correctly.
As a result, back in January it was reported that HBO were developing proposals on both the Dunk & Egg short story series and on Robert's Rebellion, despite Martin previously shooting down proposals for both ideas (Martin has a veto on any HBO project set in Westeros). It may be that HBO are developing these ideas to convince Martin of their merits.
The three new ideas announced in the last day or so are more like the original pitches, being prequels set earlier in the history of Westeros.
The first idea is a show with the working title Nine Voyages. This would be a naval-based show focused on Lord Corlys Velaryon, the Sea Snake, who is being played by British actor Steven Toussaint. The pitch seems to be for a show based around a much younger Corlys, who as a young man embarked on nine ambitious voyages around the world. These took him to fabled places such as Qarth, Yi Ti and Asshai-by-the-Shadow, the distant island of Ib, the Thousand Islands and the mysterious city of Nefer. He also undertook a voyage to find a "northern passage" around Westeros through the frozen Lands of Always Winter, to no avail.
There is plenty of material to be mined in such a show and there's an added bonus in that it re-teams HBO and producer Bruno Heller, with whom they had a fruitful collaboration on Rome (2005-07), the show that arguably paved the way for Game of Thrones. Although if I'm honest, I think I'd rather that Heller work on a "next generation" Rome series for HBO, perhaps the I, Claudius narrative that's been mooted a few times over the years (and which HBO held the rights to for a time in the early 2010s).
The second project may be a revival from the original six projects HBO developed a few years ago, with a story revolving around Princess Nymeria of Ny Sar. Nymeria was the warrior-queen of the Rhoynar who led her people in a grand exodus across the Summer Sea after her homeland was destroyed by the Valyrians. Eventually her people settled in Dorne, becoming the ancestors of House Martell and the Sand Snakes. It's possible that this was the show that Carly Wray was developing for HBO in 2017-18. This show has the working title Ten Thousand Ships.
The third project is the least-fleshed-out. The show has the working title Flea Bottom and will apparently be set in the poor district of the city of King's Landing, and will provide a "bottom-up" view of Westeros from the POV of the poorest and most destitute people in the kingdom. It's unclear what time period this would be set in, or if it would involve established characters (both Ser Davos Seaworth and Gendry were born in Flea Bottom and grew up there) or a whole new cast.
These are all development ideas at the moment, with HBO not having committed to anything so far. If I had to guess, I'd say that the Nine Voyages idea is the one most likely to move forwards.
Wednesday, 17 March 2021
First glimpse of Rosamund Pike as Moiraine in WHEEL OF TIME TV show teaser
Amazon have released a new video teasing the appearance of a character in their TV adaptation of The Wheel of Time. Rosamund Pike, fresh off winning a Golden Globe, appears for the first time in the iconic role of Moiraine Damodred from the books.
The Wheel of Time's first season has completed filming the bulk of its material, but still has some material that needs to be picked up. How quickly they can resume filming in the Czech Republic will govern when the show can air, but at present it's looking like it might be closer to the end of 2021.
Tuesday, 16 March 2021
Shooting on first season of live-action COWBOY BEBOP wraps
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: DARK ALLIANCE gets release date and trailer
Saturday, 13 March 2021
Wales' biggest superhero being developed for a reboot
The most successful superhero franchise to come out of Wales - SuperTed - is set for a reboot.
Created in 1978 by Mike Young, SuperTed was a highly successful, multi-media franchise consisting of books, comics and a successful Welsh-language animated series which ran for three seasons and 36 episodes, from 1982 to 1986. There was an American animated continuation in 1986, although that was cancelled after half a season.
The series was inspired by Young's son, who had trouble falling asleep without a light on. Young made up stories about how his teddy bear was secretly a superhero who was waiting for him to fall asleep so he could get on with saving the universe. Young developed the idea further by adding allies - such as the alien "Spotties", including SuperTed's best friend Spotty Man - and villains such as Texas Pete. Young wanted to avoid overt violence so had Ted and his friends overcoming obstacles by using their wits rather than blowing things up.
The animated series was hugely successful in the UK, with the vocal performances of Derek Griffiths as SuperTed and the late Jon Pertwee as Spotty Man in the English dub were particularly praised.
SuperTed's popularity waned in the 1990s once the animated series was no longer in production.
Young and Abbey Home Media are developing a new series which will involve CG animation and will re-envision the characters for a new audience. However, Young wants to avoid making the animation too glossy and is also keen to remain true to the roots, particularly the focus on younger children and not using overt violence.
AVATAR reclaims box-office crown from AVENGERS: ENDGAME
After twenty months on top, Avengers: Endgame has lost the crown of the highest-grossing movie of all time (unadjusted) back to James Cameron's Avatar, which has reclaimed the prize it held for a decade from 2009-19.
The move comes courtesy of a reissue of the film in China, which has added $9 million to the 2009 3D movie's total. Although not much in the large scale of things, the gap between the two movies was only $7.8 million. With the reissue expected to remain in cinemas for several more weeks, Avatar may be able to pull out a stronger lead as well, with its total re-release haul anticipated to be around $50 million. Both films have grossed just under $2.8 billion worldwide.
James Cameron will be pleased to retake the crown he'd held of being the world's highest-grossing director for two films back to back. Avatar displaced Cameron's own Titanic, originally released in 1997.
These figures are unadjusted for inflation; so adjusted, the highest-grossing movie of all time would still be Gone with the Wind (1939), although Avatar would still be an impressive second place, ahead of Titanic, Star Wars (1977) and Endgame.
The news will be encouraging to Cameron, who recently wrapped back-to-back shooting on Avatar 2 and Avatar 3, which are scheduled for release on 16 December 2022 and 20 December 2024 respectively. Avatar 4 and 5, which have had some material shot for them during production of the preceding two movies, are also greenlit with anticipated release dates in December 2026 and 2028.
Disney, which now owns both the Avatar and Marvel franchises, is of course very happy with the situation.