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Avi Arad on the “Uncharted” movie and why he passed on “Halo”

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It’s no secret that veteran movie and television producer Avi Arad has played an important role — possibly one of the most important — in bringing comic book movies to the point they are today. Not only did the former CEO and founder of Marvel Studios help bring Marvel out of bankruptcy in the late ’90s, but his efforts to bring Marvel superheroes from the page to the screen paved the way for much of the characters’ rise to mainstream prominence in recent years.

Over the weekend, Arad was in town promoting his latest page-to-screen project, “The Amazing Spider-Man,” a reboot of the popular Marvel Comics character’s big-screen franchise that casts Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”) as wall-crawling, web-slinging nerdy superhero Peter Parker. Along with telling IFC all about the new film — which is directed by “500 Days of Summer” filmmaker Marc Webb — Arad also shared some thoughts with IFC about the other genre he’s been mining for movie projects lately: video games.

Keep an eye on IFC.com as we get closer to the July 3 premiere of “The Amazing Spider-Man” for more on the webslinger’s return to the screen, but with Arad currently nudging along films based on popular games like “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune,” “Infamous,” “Twisted Metal,” and possibly “Metal Gear Solid,” we couldn’t help picking the producer’s brain on the appeal of games as source material and where some of these projects are at right now.

“I think what will happen with ‘Uncharted’ is that it will be the first of many, because it will be so fun and [I think it will be] a very big movie,” Arad told IFC. “So the floodgates will open.”

The award-winning “Uncharted” franchise follows the adventures of a treasure hunter named Nathan Drake who travels around the world with his pal Victor “Sully” Sullivan. An “Uncharted” movie has been in development for several years now, with “Limitless” director Neil Burger attached to the project since July 2011.

“We have a great director,” said Arad of the film. “So in anticipation, I’m accumulating the kind of games that I’m personally interested in from a story standpoint. They have to have a story.”

According to Arad, the presence of a strong narrative thread has often been the deciding factor in which games he pursues for the big screen, and which ones he’s content to pass over. And just because a game sells well, that doesn’t mean it makes sense as a movie.

“My problem with the ‘Halo‘ games was that there was no face anywhere,” he said of his decision not to pursue a big-screen version of the wildly popular “Halo” franchise. “I didn’t know what to do with it. I thought about it a lot, because commercially it was huge. But when I look at things like ‘Metal Gear Solid’ and I’m reading the bible for it, and there’s this Cain and Abel story and all this shit, I’m like, ‘Now, that is a movie!'”

“But ‘Uncharted’ was very natural, because it’s about historical things.” he continued. “Emotionally, there was a very simple story about a boy searching for something, who had no origin, in a way. He was a street rat. And just like my mother used to tell me that 500 years ago we were princes in another country, someone told [Nathan Drake] something that he could hold on to. That makes for enough emotion to make a fun story.”

Arad also touched on the difficulty of adapting certain types of games — specifically, first-person shooters.

“Sometimes I would find that video games lacked one particular component: the definition of the hero of the game,” he explained. “And that’s because you are that character — especially with the first-person shooters.”

Still, there are certain elements of the modern gaming scene that have actually made it easier for projects to make the leap from the gaming world to Hollywood, said Arad. And more and more often, he finds himself looking to the gaming industry as often as the comic-book world for the next big thing.

“With the cinematics in games today, I could easily cut a long trailer — a 70-minute animated presentation — just from the cinematics in these games,” he laughed. “So video games are already primed to be the next source material.”

“And I hope I’m right again,” he added.

Is there a video game you’d like to see adapted into a movie? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

E.coli-class-

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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