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Marvel characters holding attraction for filmmakers

A look at the development roster for Marvel characters in both film and TV reveals the unprecedented level of enthusiasm for such projects. On the film side:

  • “Terminator 2” director James Cameron hopes to produce, direct and write the live-action “Spiderman” feature for Carolco. Sources say the budget, currently at $ 60 million, could be the highest ever for a feature film. And they are confident this project will hit screens regardless of what ultimately happens to financially troubled Carolco.

    Third parties, including the Rizzoli Group, have anted up Marvel’s and Cameron’s fees so far. Those parties could possibly strike a deal to finance the film should Carolco fall by the wayside; Carolco chairman Mario Kassar remains determined to produce the pic.

  • Columbia Pictures is developing “The Black Panther” to star Wesley Snipes and is in early discussions with Marvel about a live-action “X-Men,” based on the comics about a team of mutants who have superhuman qualities.

  • Oliver Stone is in early discussions about doing a live-action “Elektra Assassin,” a female superhero accomplished in martial arts whose ongoing battle is to defeat the evil “Hand.”

  • Two studios have made competing offers for a live-action film featuring the popular Ghost Rider, whose “penance stare” makes criminals feel the pain they have inflicted on others.

  • “Hoffa” producer Ed Pressman has acquired the rights to “Cage.” Screenwriter Kit Carson has finished a script about the black hero for hire, now making a reappearance on the comic books racks after a long hiatus.

  • Horrormeister Wes Craven has agreed to write and direct “Dr. Strange” for Savoy Pictures. The character, who dates back to the ’60s, is a sorcerer charged with protecting the planet from mystical and magical threats.

  • Marvel is in discussions with Universal for a live-action “Incredible Hulk.” It was, of course, the subject of a long-running CBS series, starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno.

  • A live-action “Fantastic Four” by Neue Constantin should lens by the end of the year.

  • Rapper L.L. Cool J is developing “Blade,” the story of a black vampire hunter.

    Projects for television:

  • An animated “X-Men” series debuted on Fox Oct. 31 and begins a regular weekly run in January. The sneak preview was the highest-rated Saturday morning program on all the networks among viewers 6 to 17 and scored an unprecedented 9. 5 rating/44 share according to Nielsen.

  • Lorimar and Fox have placed a script order for a live-action series featuring Daredevil, a blind crime-fighter and lawyer by day who also happens to be Elektra’s boyfriend.

  • Paramount is developing a brand new Marvel hero, Tomorrow Man, as a live-action series.

  • Producer Lewis Chesler is developing a live-action “Black Widow” aimed for a web sale.

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