Fri, Apr 20, 2007 - Page 17 News List

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Australian actor Eric Bana is to star in a movie adaptation of Audrey Niffnegger's novel The Time Traveler's Wife, it was reported on Wednesday.

Bana, the star of Munich and The Hulk, will play a Chicago librarian who is affected by a gene that causes him to hurtle backwards and forwards through time involuntarily, The Hollywood Reporter reported.

Canadian actress Rachel McAdams of the Wedding Crashers and The Family Stone fame, will co-star as Bana's love interest, the report said.

Meanwhile, two-time Academy Award nominee Edward Norton will play scientist-turned-superhero Bruce Banner in a new movie version of The Incredible Hulk, Marvel Entertainment said on Monday.

The new movie is based on the comic book series telling of the exploits of Banner, a scientist who transforms into a giant green brute.

Norton, 37, is among Hollywood's most versatile actors, having appeared in more than 20 films including American History X and Primal Fear, both of which earned him Oscar nominations for acting. For the most part, his roles have been in dramas such as last year's The Illusionist, making his choice to portray a comic book hero a novel idea.

"His ability to transform into a particular role makes him the ideal choice to take on the character of Bruce Banner/The Hulk," said Kevin Feige, president of production at Marvel Studios.

The Incredible Hulk will be directed by Louis Leterrier, a Frenchman whose previous films include the action adventure The Transporter. The new movie is expected to be in theaters by June 2008, and will be distributed by Universal Pictures.

Universal, owned by General Electric, and Marvel teamed up in 2003 to produce and distribute Hulk, which was directed by Ang Lee (李安).

His version of Hulk raked in US$245 million at global box offices, but the amount was deemed to be a modest sum given its high expectations and budget of nearly US$140 million.

The stars and the director of Spider-Man 3 gave no clear clues on Tuesday whether Sony's money-spinning superhero would return to the screen in a fourth adventure, but fans got a glimmer of hope from Kirsten Dunst.

Asked how her character — Peter Parker's love interest, Mary Jane Watson — had developed in the latest film, Dunst told a news conference: "I admire her bravery and she's always been a challenging character for me.

"I think this last film — not the last film, but the third film — has really been a culmination of that growth of family," she said, referring to the cast.

"It's really apparent on the screen because of all the hard work we've put into it," said Dunst, dressed in a black turtleneck and pleated knee-length skirt.

In a nod to the importance of the revenue-boosting international market, Spider-Man 3 premiered in Tokyo on Monday. It will debut globally on May 4.

Tobey Maguire, who plays Parker in the action series, and director Sam Raimi were also at the packed news conference, but no reporters got a chance to ask the question on every fan's mind: will there be a fourth movie?

Entertainment Weekly magazine on Monday cited Raimi as confirming a long-held Hollywood rumor he might direct a movie version of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit if Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson is not eventually hired.

Dunst separately told the magazine that a Spider-Man 4 without Raimi, herself and Maguire would be "disrespectful to the whole team" and would be a big flop.

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