SciFi Wire: "Howard Adapting Da Vinci" dateline: October 6, 2003 9:00am ET Quote: Ron Howard is set to produce and direct the big-screen adaptation of the best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code, Variety reported. Producer Brian Grazer and writer Akiva Goldsman, both of whom worked with Howard on the Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind, will also be involved in the project. The novel, by Dan Brown, centers on a Harvard symbol expert who is called in to investigate the murder of a curator at the Louvre and discovers a mystery related to a secret society and the paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci. Columbia Pictures owns the film rights to the book, which has remained at the top of the New York Times best-seller list for 27 weeks. Production on the film will begin once Howard completes work on his latest feature, Cinderella Man. SciFi Wire: "Dimension Mulls Merlin" dateline: November 19, 2003 9:00 a.m. ET Quote: Dimension Films is in talks to acquire film rights to The Lost Years of Merlin, T.A. Barron's best-selling young adult novel series that traces the boyhood and coming of age of the Arthurian magician, Variety reported. Lorenzo di Bonaventura will produce the movie, which is the start of a possible fantasy franchise, the trade paper reported. Screenwriter Simon Kinberg will adapt the first of Barron's series of five books, which follow the young Merlin from the moment the wizard washes up on the shores of ancient Wales to his quest to find his real home and identity, his friendship with King Arthur and his travels in enchanted lands, the trade paper reported. As I remember it, Merlin was supposed have been "born old" (ancient, in fact) and have gotten younger, as time passed. I assume these novels have diverged from that part of the legend. SciFi Wire: "Barker Back In Director's Chair" dateline: December 8, 2003 9:00 a.m. ET Quote: Clive Barker will return to the director's chair after an eight-year absence to helm Universal Pictures' horror movie, Tortured Souls, Variety reported. Barker last directed 1995's Lord of Illusions, a Scott Bakula supernatural horror movie released by MGM, the trade paper reported. Tortured Souls is based on Barker and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane's line of action figures, which debuted at the International Toy Fair in New York in February 2001. Each of the six grisly Tortured Souls-Talisac, Lucidique, Scythe-Meister, Agonistes, Mongroid and Venal Anatomica-was sold with a chapter of an original Barker-penned storyline, forming the chapters of a novella outlining the Souls' origin, the trade paper reported. For the big-screen adaptation, Barker told the trade paper that the Souls storyline centers on a man who exchanges his wife for a demon goddess from another world, throwing her into a shadowy world of monsters from which she must escape, the trade paper reported. Universal is owned by Vivendi Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM. SciFi Wire: "Serkis Gets Blessed" dateline: December 12, 2003 9:00 a.m. ET Quote: Lord of the Rings co-star Andy Serkis (Gollum) told SCI FI Wire that he will play a priest in the upcoming independent supernatural thriller film Blessed, an update of 1968's Rosemary's Baby. "There are elements of [it]," Serkis said in an interview. "It's grounded in this notion of an [in vitro fertilization] clinic and the community that surrounds that, and the medical world. So it's less satanic and more supernatural." Serkis said that he plays a priest hunting down supernaturally possessed mothers. "You're not quite sure if he's a religious freak who goes around murdering pregnant women because he believes that they're carrying the spawn of Satan, or whether he's onto something for real," he said. Blessed, a working title, is shooting in Romania under director Simon Fellows. An "update of Rosemary's Baby"??? Oh, what a bad idea that is . . . . SciFi Wire: "Ricci: Cursed Like New" dateline: December 12, 2003 9:00 a.m. ET Quote: Christina Ricci, who stars in director Wes Craven's troubled werewolf movie Cursed, told SCI FI Wire that the film is being reshot as an entirely new movie after an 11-week hiatus to fix problems. "We're essentially reshooting the whole movie, so it's sort of like going on to another movie," Ricci said in an interview. "And this time it's a lot more fun. We have a lot more action, and it seems better." Ricci added that Craven's spirits seem lifted by the new material. "I think he's happy, because I don't think he was happy with what he was originally getting," Ricci said. "I think he's glad that he has the chance to remake it." One of the issues of the reshoots involved changing werewolf makeup. Ultimately, Ricci is confident that Cursed can be saved. "If you scrap an entire movie and shoot it all over again, rewrite the script, then yeah, it can be saved," she said. SciFi Wire: "Columbia Holds Grudge" dateline: December 12, 2003 9:00 a.m. ET Quote: Columbia Pictures has acquired domestic distribution rights to the English-language remake of the Japanese horror thriller film Ju-On (The Grudge), according to The Hollywood Reporter. Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures will produce the movie, which Senator International will finance. The film centers on a curse that befalls someone who dies in the grip of a powerful rage. Those who encounter this murderous supernatural curse die, and a new one is born, passed like a virus from victim to victim in an endless, growing chain of horror, the trade paper reported. The remake is being written by Stephen Susco and directed by Takashi Shimizu. SciFi Wire: "Gellar Holds The Grudge" dateline: December 15, 2003 9:00 a.m. ET Quote: Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) will star in The Grudge, the English-language remake of the Japanese supernatural horror movie Ju-On, Variety reported. Columbia Pictures has secured domestic distribution rights for the film, which is being produced by Ghost House Pictures, a genre division of Senator International, launched with Sam Raimi, the trade paper reported. Shooting will begin at Tokyo's Toho Studios in late January. Takashi Shimizu, who wrote and directed the original film, will helm the remake, the trade paper reported. Producer Taka Ichise (Ringu), who also worked on the original, will team with Raimi and partner Rob Tapert to produce. Stephen Susco is writing the screenplay, combining elements from the original Ju-On and its three sequels. The Grudge is about a murderous supernatural curse born of a grudge held by someone who dies angry. The curse passes like a virus to its victims, the trade paper reported. . . . . SciFi Wire: "Fox Previews Slate" dateline: December 23, 2003 12:00pm ET Quote: Fox has released details of its 2004 slate of films, including I, Robot, Alien vs. Predator and the supernatural-tinged thriller film Stay. I, Robot, based on the Isaac Asimov collection of stories, is slated for a July 16 release; Alien vs. Predator, based on the two SF film franchises, is eyeing an Aug. 6 date; and Stay has no release date yet. . . . . [I believe both I, Robot and Alien vs. Predator already have or have had their own threads] . . . . Star [sic] is directed by Marc Forster (Monster's Ball) and stars Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Ryan Gosling, Bob Hoskins, and Janeane Garofalo. It is a reality-bending thriller about a psychologist whose suicidal client makes bizarre predictions that, to the psychologist's mounting terror, begin to come true. The shrink must race against time to save everything he loves before it disappears.