''South Park,'' Sir Ian McKellen, and ''Hannibal'' made movie news this week

By Chris Nashawaty
May 28, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Park dangers
Blame it on the generation gap. It looks like the only moviegoers not busting a gut over the potty-mouthed trailer for Paramount’s summer comedy South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut were the members of the MPAA. Apparently, the touchy ratings board wasn’t hip to the fact that the punny title referred to a different kind of member. Says the film’s producer Scott Rudin, ”They were like, ‘Wait a minute, does this have some double meaning we don’t know about?”’ Penis jokes aside, Rudin says Paramount was always fine with the title gag and simply reminded the board that they’d already approved the title before getting wise. But Rudin says that they’re hardly in the clear. ”Now we’re fighting with them over the rating — they’ve given us an NC-17 twice.” If anything, the ratings scrum only encourages the movie’s wiseass creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker even more. Says Parker, ”This film is really nothing more than getting our own satisfaction in knowing that the MPAA has to sit and watch this.”

X marks the part
What supervillain through yonder window breaks? Hark, it’s Sir Ian McKellen. The classically trained Oscar nominee, who’s more accustomed to donning tights for Shakespeare than playing comic-book heavies, has signed on as Magneto in 20th Century Fox’s big-budget adaptation of X-Men. Before taking the role of the magnetically charged nemesis of Marvel Comics’ popular gang of ragtag mutant crime fighters, McKellen was reportedly flirting with a part in Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible 2, which later went to Anthony Hopkins, who seems to have come out of his short-lived ”retirement.” ”Needless to say, Ian wasn’t a huge X-Men fan before this,” jokes the film’s director, Bryan Singer, who also cast McKellen as Apt Pupil‘s aged Nazi, ”but then I showed him the outfit he’d be wearing and it was a done deal.” According to X-Men producer Lauren Shuler Donner, hulking wrestler Tyler Mane has also signed on, to play Sabretooth. ”Sabretooth is a seven-foot-two character, and Tyler’s as close to that as a human could be.” While Singer’s deal with Fox gives him total control over casting if the budget comes in under $75 million, the director won’t confirm any other members of the X-Men posse. But at press time, another veddy British thespian had been offered a role: Patrick Stewart may join McKellen as the telepathic leader of the X-Men, Professor Charles Xavier. X-Men starts shooting in Toronto in late July and is scheduled for a summer 2000 release.

Now that producer Dino De Laurentiis has reportedly snagged the movie rights to Thomas Harris’ Silence of the Lambs sequel, Hannibal, for a record $9 million plus, the Oscar-winning team (Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, director Jonathan Demme, and screenwriter Ted Tally) should be all but printing up the baseball caps, right? Not so fast. Sources say Demme is about to turn down the gig, saying that the book is too violent.

(Additional reporting by Kristen Baldwin)