Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Justice" superheroes no match for striking writers

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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The superheroes of "Justice League of America" will have to hang up their costumes, because the Hollywood writers strike prevents Warner Bros. from sorting out problems with the movie's script.

The feature, starring DC Comics staples such as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in live-action flesh, was to have been a special-effects extravaganza for the studio. George Miller ("Happy Feet") was attached as director.

Word leaked in the fall that the script, by the husband-and-wife team of Kieran and Michele Mulroney, was good but that subsequent rewrites, including the latest by Miller, had pacing issues and took the project in the wrong direction. With the 11-week writers strike in full swing, the studio decided it was best to wait to iron out the problems.

Adding to the woes were questions of tax-incentive qualifications in Australia, where Miller was preparing to shoot. The project's costs were escalating, and the script would need an overhaul if the movie didn't qualify for discounts.

The decision to put the project on hold now frees up the actors who had been cast in such roles as Superman (Scott Porter), Batman (Armie Hammer), Wonder Woman (Megan Gale), Green Lantern (Common) and the Flash (Adam Brody). Extensions on their contracts expired Tuesday. The studio is not afraid of losing the actors because playing iconic superheroes in "Justice" is seen as a starmaking turn.

"Justice's" delay is considered good news for Christopher Nolan's camp. The director is in post-production on "The Dark Knight," the sequel to "Batman Begins," and is said to have been unhappy with the "Justice League" movie because its version of Batman clashed with his one, starring Christian Bale. Nolan has been resisting directing a third "Batman" movie, though the studio would relish the possibility and could begin heavy courting.

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