October 1, 2008

Scot is Mov Ie Industry ‘s Most Wanted Storyteller Behind Hollywood Hit Celebrates Double Success


HIS stories have made an action star of James McAvoy, fascinated Nicolas Cage and now, with another major film deal, have helped confirm him as Scotland's most wanted storyteller in Hollywood.

Mark Millar, the Scottish comic book writer, was yesterday celebrating a double success as Sony's Columbia Pictures began work on the script of his latest comic book, War Heroes, and Universal decided to turn Wanted, which starred Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy, into a trilogy of films.

War Heroes, which has only been in print for six weeks, has been the subject of a "bidding war" between a number of Hollywood companies, but late last week Columbia bought the rights to its story and characters and is now fast-tracking the production of the film so that it could be released as early as 2009.

Wanted, which was released earlier this year, starred McAvoy as an unassuming man who suddenly becomes part of the world of assassins. It was a surprise box office success, grossing nearly Dollar300m worldwide, with more profit yet to be made on DVD.

Universal has now decided to make Wanted into a trilogy - it was originally intended as a stand-alone film - and filming on the next instalment begins next year.

War Heroes, which does not yet have actors or a director attached, centres on a US experiment that gives superpowers to ordinary soldiers, fighting in an escalating war on terrorism, with economic hardship back home.

The works of Millar, from Coatbridge, have been described by the Hollywood Reporter as "one of the most sought-after materials for Hollywood" outside characters from Marvel and DC Comics.

"I suppose this story is very timely, " Millar said last night. "It sees the war in the Middle East becoming more and more unpopular as the financial system collapses and the only way they can get more soldiers to go out to war is to give them special powers.

"Unfortunately, al Qaeda get hold of the same special powers, too, so it's kind of superhero soldiers versus al Qaeda. In five years it might seem out of date, so that is why now they are fast tracking the production process.

"There are a lot of Iraqthemed movies coming out that are all so worthy, and I wanted to do Full Metal Jacket with superheroes, or Apocalypse Now for the X Men generation.

"Really, I wanted to do a propaganda film from the leftist position on the war, but dress it up as a gung-ho action movie. It will be a really exciting action movie but with a subversive political message."

He added: "It is amazing because I only had the first part published six weeks ago. I have never planned for a career in the movie world, I write comic books, and because of that I think Hollywood thought I was playing it cool, but it's exciting."

Millar is currently working on another idea, called American Jesus, which sees Christ returning to Earth in modernday America.

Recently it was revealed that another of his titles, Kick-Ass, is being made into a movie starring Cage and Aaron Johnson. It s to be co-produced by Millar, Hollywood actor Brad Pitt and Matthew Vaughn. Vaughn is also said to be interested in making American Jesus.

Millar, 38, now based in Glasgow where he lives with his wife Gillian, and daughter Emily, 10, has had remarkable success as a comic book writer, becoming one of the most successful in the business.

However, the writer recently told The Herald that he will stop writing comic books when he reaches 45 .

Mark Millar will be appearing at an event as part of the North Lanarkshire book festival on Saturday. He will be answering questions at Sir John Wilson town hall in Airdrie at 12.30pm.

Originally published by Newsquest Media Group.

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