Tyler Perry, whom I always think of as The Busiest Man in showbiz, is about to get a little busier. The writer/director just signed a three-year first look deal with Lionsgate, wherein he has promised the studio three more films in addition to giving them first dibs on any other films of his within that time frame. The studio already has two upcoming Perry movies, The Family That Preys which comes out in September, and Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail, set for a February release, neither of which are included in the deal.
Wasn't Lionsgate supposed to be revamping their image to be more Universal Pictures and less Dimension Films? Isn't that why they risked a visit from the Cenobites by mutilating the release of Clive Barker's Midnight Meat Train? If so, then Lionsgate has a warped idea of what constitutes classy movies. They are currently in the process of dropping $100 million on a remake of Ah-nuld's gory 1982 showdown with a Darth Vader voice, Conan the Barbarian. The John Milius and Sandahl Bergman epic, written by Ollie Stone, was originally rewritten by the folks who did Sahara. That script was tossed, presumably because nobody would believe Matthew McConaughey was barbaric. At least not the way Conan is.
Perhaps hoping that the Christian subset of the movie-going public will confuse "The Spirit" as a holiday and/or Christian movie, Lionsgate has moved the release date of the comic-strip adaptation from January 16, 2009 to Christmas of this year. And while the more observant of us -- or at least those of us stuck in traffic in L.A. -- who have seen the billboards for the film with giant, noir-ish looking text reading "My City Screams" probably aren't mistaking it for a Christmas story, maybe the rest of the city really is screaming for Jesus. You never know.
According to Variety, the movie got a vote of confidence after Lionsgate brass presented the project to fans at New York Comic-Con. I hate to channel my 10 year-old self but, no duh, Lionsgate. Of course they were receptive to a comic-strip adaptation; it's Comic-Con. It's up against other Christmas releases like Marley & Me, The Time Traveler's Wife and Adam Sandler's Bedtime Stories, and only time will tell whether or not the greater public will be quite as enthusiastic as the comic book nerds.
"The Spirit," which was created by writer-artist Will Eisner in 1940, tells the story of Denny Colt, a masked vigilante who fights crime with the blessing of the city's police commissioner. Written and directed by Frank Miller (whose work also includes "Sin City," and "300") and starring Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Eva Mendes, the film will be an action-adventure romance that revolves around a slain rookie cop who returns from the dead to fight crime and track a cold-blooded killer. Which when you think about it, actually does kind of have Christ parallels. Perhaps the move wasn't so dumb after all.