Hollywood skulduggery


After a bidding battle involving several Hollywood studios, Warner Bros announced at Cannes that it has acquired the movie rights to Irish author Derek Landy's first novel, Skulduggery Pleasant, along with the rights to further titles in what is planned as a nine-book series.

 The deal provides a new fantasy film franchise for Warner, which has had huge commercial success with the Harry Potter series. Published here and in the UK two months ago, Landy's novel is due to be translated into 25 languages.

Set in present-day Dublin, it follows the exploits of Skulduggery Pleasant, a wisecracking skeleton detective and wizard thwarting the evil Faceless Ones with the help of his young assistant, Stephanie Edgley. Landy, who wrote the screenplays for the Irish movies Dead Bodies and Boy Eats Girl, will write the screen adaptation of his novel.

Hitch as certificate challenged

Just as hitching a ride can entail turning down drivers going in the wrong direction, the distributors of The Hitcher twice resisted the certificate given by Irish film censor John Kelleher. The remake was given an 18 certificate here and in the UK when first submitted. Universal Pictures made a brief cut and resubmitted the movie. As a result, the UK certificate was changed to 15, but Kelleher maintained the 18 rating. Universal took their case to the Film Appeals Board, whose members have not been very busy in recent years, and they agreed to give Universal the 16 rating they sought.

The film opens here today, with an advisory from the

censor that it contains "sustained, intense, bloody and graphic violence".

Once upon a time . . . fairytale goes on

The Metacritic website, which analyses critical coverage of movies, calculates that John Carney's Dublin musical, Once, starring Glen Hansard (right), has achieved the best reviews for any movie released to date this year in the US. On its opening weekend at two US cinemas, Once scored the highest average takings of all films in release - $30,951 per screen. www.metacritic.com

Curiosity shop re-opens its doors

A new version of the much-filmed Charles Dickens classic, The Old Curiosity Shop, is now shooting in Ireland with Derek Jacobi as the grandfather and Toby Jones, who distinctively played Truman Capote in Infamous, as Daniel Quilp. It also features Martin Freeman, Zoe Wanamaker, Gina McKee, Bradley Walsh, Steve Pemberton, Charlotte McKenna and, playing Little Nell, Sophie Vavasseur.

The director is Brian Percival, who received Bafta awards for the 2001 short, About a Girl, and the 2005 TV treatment of Much Ado About Nothing. His new film is the second version of the Dickens novel to be shot in Ireland, following the Disney channel's 1995 production starring Peter Ustinov and Tom Courtenay.

Shanghai surprise for Irish movie

Robert Quinn's Irish-language feature, Cré na Cille, is one of 16 international movies selected for competition at this month's Shanghai Film Festival. Quinn will attend the festival with the film's producer Ciarán Ó Cofaigh and star Bríd Ní Neachtain. Chen Kaige, the Chinese director of Farewell My Concubine, will chair the jury, which includes Spanish director Fernando Trueba, French director Luc Jacquet and German cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, who has worked extensively on Martin Scorsese's movies.

Cré na Cille joins Oscar-winning German drama The Lives of Others and blockbusters 300 and Spider-Man 3 on the diverse Cinemobile programme this month, along with Mr Bean's Holiday, Meet the Robinsons, Bridge to Terabithia and The Last Mimzy. The June itinerary for the air-conditioned 100-seater Cinemobile, which travels the country to towns and villages without a cinema, includes Ballinrobe, Claremorris, Charlestown, Ballycroy, Belmullet, Louisburgh, Achill Keel and Achill Sound. www.cinemobile.net

Boybands get Spinal Tap treatment

Manband! The Boyband From Hell, a new feature film following music promoters searching for hot new talent, will be screened at Glór in Ennis, Co Clare, at 2.15pm tomorrow. The scouts assemble a band named Parazone in the experimental movie, directed by Los Angeles-based Lisdoonvarna native, Dermott Petty, who explained to Reel News why it was shot on DV. "It was an aesthetic and practical decision giving Mandband! a more reality TV look . . . and we had no money!" www.glor.ie