Maybe it's Godzilla's revenge. "Godzilla" Word comes this week that there likely (and somewhat surprisingly) will be a sequel to Sony's disappointing big-budget 1998 "Godzilla". But, even more surprising, the guys who made the first overhyped film (remember those "Size does matter" billboards?) won't have anything to do with the second overhyped film.
Although Sony Pictures Entertainment and director Roland Emmerich's Centropolis Entertainment couldn't (or wouldn't) immediately confirm it, an insider tells Hollywood.com that the two sides parted ways on "Godzilla 2" in March, and Sony (which holds the U.S. rights to the Japanese-born Godzilla character) now hopes to hire a new production team within a few months.
And that's probably a good thing, since Emmerich and his producer/co-writer Dean Devlin seemingly remade "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" instead of a Godzilla movie. Their monster was too skinny, and it was more interested in laying eggs than laying waste to New York. Still, since there's no accounting for taste, the thing made about $375 million worldwide.
"Godzilla 2," by the way, shouldn't be confused with "Godzilla 2000," a low-budget Japanese film to be released in U.S. theaters this summer.
Centropolis had begun work on "Godzilla 2," commissioning a story treatment by screenwriter Tab Murphy ("Tarzan"), which reportedly climaxed with a big battle between Godzilla and a giant insectoid foe in downtown Sydney, Australia. But, after making "The Patriot" with Mel Gibson, the duo is reportedly more interested in making action dramas than sci-fi spectacles.
If and when Sony makes "Godzilla 2," it's likely that the monster will still look like a giant iguana, although it could be bulked up slightly.
"The American Godzilla is a $40 million computer program that was developed for the first film, and that's a significant part of the budget for the sequel," says the insider. "They're not going to throw that out and start over again."
Most interesting of all: Some Sony officials reportedly want the American Godzilla to fight the Japanese Godzilla in "Godzilla 2."
Ian McKellen LORD OF THE DOWNLOADS: New Line Cinema's "Lord of the Rings" preview (viewable at www.lordoftherings.net) was downloaded nearly 1.7 million times during its first 24 hours online, surpassing a record set by the trailer for "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" . The preview makes "Rings" (the first in a trilogy to be released in 2001, 2002 and 2003) look like it's worth the hype, but frankly we're more interested in the Hobbits. A few months ago, there were reports that the extras playing these diminutive beings were suffering long shooting schedules and arduous makeup applications, but no new gripes have been reported of late.
"The Hobbits' body doubles are real little-people from India, very short people whom are exactly the right size for certain shots when they need to have a smaller person," say our friends at Theonering.net, a Web site devoted to the films.
"On the flip side," the Web site reports, "all the non-Hobbit actors have large body doubles [the Ian McKellen double is reportedly 7-feet tall]," who are used to help make the "real" Hobbit actors (Elijah Wood, Sean Astin and Ian Holm among them) look small. Something called "CGI shrinking" is also being used minimally.
The production, now in its sixth month, is currently based in Heritage National Park on the North Island of New Zealand, and director Peter Jackson is keeping the crew sane by filming for three weeks at a time, followed by a two-week vacation.
TOM HANKS AS ROBBY THE ROBOT? Did you know that director Frank Darabont was once a writer on the remake of "The Blob" and "The Fly II"? Then maybe it's not so weird that the guy who made "The Green Mile" and "The Shawshank Redemption" wants to do a remake of "Forbidden Planet." He's in negotiations to make the film at New Line.