24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Henry Cavill

'Immortals:' How much is it like '300'?

November 14, 2011 |  7:30 am

Similarities and difference between "Immortals" and "300"
The millions of people this weekend who paid to see "Immortals," the mythology-laden story of Theseus and the cruel King Hyperion, turned out for plenty of reasons. But doubtless high on the list was the movie's underlying similarities to "300," the Gerard Butler-starring story of dueling Persians and Spartans.

Like the 2006 hit, Tarsem Singh's movie, which stars Henry Cavill and Mickey Rourke, is a swords-and-sandals swashbuckler heavy on the visuals (and the ketchup packets). "Immortals" also came from the same producers, a fact that the film's distributor, Relativity Media, was not shy about emphasizing in its television ads.

But those producers were not entirely keen to compare the two movies. "We don't really see them as that similar," Mark Canton, one of the producers who made both films, told 24 Frames last week. "This ['Immortals'] is about the journey of a man finding his faith, and '300'...is a great action movie."

He added that "300," based on the Frank Miller graphic novel, centered on a war between two human civilizations whereas "Immortals" mixed in legends of the gods. (Canton did allow for a superficial similarity: "'Immortals' is the most visually compelling movie that we've seen in a long time, and '300' before that was the most visually arresting movie we've seen in a long time.")

A Relativity executive heavily involved in "Immortals" was similarly inclined toward distinctions.

"We looked at the Greek mythology as a fantasy world more than a Greek world," said Tucker Tooley, the Relativity No. 2 who oversaw "Immortals" production. "We didn't approach this as a typical swords-and-sandals film."

He added that there were differences in the visuals department too: "As Tarsem has said on many occasions, he views '300' as a comic strip coming to life, and this is a painting coming to life."

There's a reason to put some distance between the two films -- apart from producers not wanting to feel like they're repeating themselves, a "300" sequel has long been in the works, and what's the sense of doing one if "Immortals" already fits the bill? (Of course, with Relativity's $32-million domestic opening for "Immortals," we wouldn't rule out a sequel for that film either.)

In at least one regard, though, "Immortals" has a long way to go before it can be uttered in the same breath as "300" -- the Butler pic grossed more than $200 million in the U.S.


Relativity Media is at a crossroads

Box Office: Sandler, DiCaprio can't beat No. 1 "Immortals"

"Immortals"' stuns visually, stumbles narratively, critics say

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Mickey Rourke in "Immortals." Credit: Relativity Media


From ‘I’m.mortal’ to ‘In Time,’ from ‘War of Gods’ to ‘Immortals’

October 31, 2011 | 10:06 am

Henry Cavill in

Picking a movie title is often a fraught affair. Just ask sci-fi alum Andrew Niccol, whose latest journey into the future, “In Time,” hit theaters Friday.

That wasn’t always the title 20th Century Fox had penciled in for the movie. The Justin Timberlake-starrer was previously titled “Now” and, before that, “I’m.mortal." 

As Fox was working on Niccol's film back in spring 2010, Relativity Media was preparing its own fall 2011 film, a Greek epic by Tarsem Singh (“The Fall,” “The Cell”). It was initially dubbed "War of Gods."

The “I’m.mortal” title hadn’t been registered with the Motion Picture Assn. of America yet when “Immortals” switched its title from “War of Gods” in April 2010.  Relativity, Niccol said, demanded Fox give his sci-fi flick a new name to avoid confusion with their Nov. 11, 2011, release. 

Niccol recalled his aha moment when he came up with "I'm.mortal." “I was so happy when I finally saw that ‘I’m mortal’ is inside the word ‘immortal,” the writer-director told 24 Frames. “And then someone goes and steals it from you,” he added with a laugh. (Not everyone, though, was as enthusiastic as Niccol was about "I'm.mortal" — online opinions about it ranged from “sure-to-be-tweaked” and “dumb” to “cute, quirky.” )

Re-titled “Now” last fall, the movie became "In Time" in May.

“[‘Now’] was just more difficult for people to grasp. So we made it something even more accessible,” Niccol said.

As for that title revision for Singh's movie, Relativity and the filmmakers decided "Immortals" was a more original-sounding title that better spoke to the novel take on Greek mythology than "War of Gods."

“We love ‘Immortals.’ It’s a strong title. It sounds like an event movie and very epic,” a spokesperson for Relativity Media said.

Niccol is no stranger to having to think up new titles. His 1997 cult favorite, “Gattaca,” was filmed under the name “The Eighth Day,” a reference to Genesis and the genetic engineering that defines the film’s “not-so-distant future.” When a Belgian film with the same name, “Le huitième jour,” made it to theaters before Niccol’s movie, he was forced to come up with a new title. He decided on the name of the spaceflight corporation in the story, Gattaca, derived from the four letters of DNA bases.

“That [title] actually got better, I think. It was just so unique,” Niccol said. “It’s sort of lasted the test of time.”

Whether “In Time” and “Immortals” stand that test of time remains to be seen, but their test at the box office comes first. "In Time" opened Friday to challenge "Puss in Boots" and "Paranormal Activity 3," finishing in third. Starring the new Superman, Henry Cavill, "Immortals" opens Nov. 11 against Leonardo DiCaprio's "J. Edgar" and Adam Sandler's "Jack and Jill."


‘In Time’: Time is money in the Justin Timberlake sci-fi film

‘In Time’: Young actors on the secrets to playing old characters

Comic-Con 2011: ‘Immortals’ brings young Greek gods to the screen

— Emily Rome

Left photo: Henry Cavill and Joseph Morgan in "Immortals." Credit: Jan Thijs

Right photo: Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried in "In Time." Credit: Stephen Vaughan / 20th Century Fox.

'Immortals' tries to give a worn genre new life [Video]

April 27, 2011 |  2:02 pm

The success of “300” four years ago could have ushered in a new era of artistry for swords-and-sandals tales, or simply a new era of knockoffs. Judging by what’s come since, it’s getting harder to argue the former.

“Immortals,” which shares producers with “300” and follows a trio of films similarly themed with honor and epic battle (“Clash of the Titans,” “Prince of Persia” and “The Eagle”), begins its pre-release campaign with a new teaser trailer released Wednesday.

Tarsem Singh (“The Fall”) brings a sense of style to the material, which this time around takes on the battle of Thesus (Henry Cavill) against King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke, trying out a new villainous accent). But amid the flaming arrows and leaping swordsmen is a generic story of honor and gods and battles, and a somberness that can border on the comic. The earnest disrobing from the likes of Freida Pinto doesn't help, nor do the "Eyes Wide Shut" masks, or the boilerplate dialogue. (“Today we are offered something we would never have. Today we fight for honor.”)

When it was first developed three years ago the action movie, now scheduled for November, looked like it would compete in the marketplace with “Clash of the Titans.” In fact, Warner Bros. contemplated buying the script on which it’s based for use in developing “Titans," so closely related were the pair. “Immortals” is now sandwiched between that movie and its sequel next March, which may or may not give it enough breathing room.

Sandal-philia aside, the interesting question is how “Immortals” will affect Cavill’s stock -– the film will be closely watched by Superman lovers to see what kind of hero chops Cavill demonstrates.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Mickey Rourke in "Immortals." Credit: Relativity Media



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