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Surprising No One, AVENGERS 2 In The Works

Posted on 09 May 2012 by William Gatevackes

It had the biggest opening weekend of any film, ever. It has made $226,337,707 as of today, which is more than it cost to make. And no matter how what type of math you use, the $702,137,707 million it has made worldwide has guaranteed the film will make a profit. And this is all after its first weekend of release in the U.S. with unbelievable buzz that will surely bring people into theaters for weeks to come. Of course The Avengers will have a sequel.

The Hollywood Reporter states that Disney CEO Bob Iger  confirmed the sequel during a conference call to go over quarterly earnings. There will be theme park attraction tied into the franchise as well. I can see an “Avengers 3-D Quinjet Experience” coming to Disney World and Disneyland in the next couple years.

Iger also talked about the franchise in an interview with CNBC yesterday (see clip of the interview below), and what he said there is much more interesting. This is exactly what Iger said on the matter, as per the CNBC transcript (Emphasis mine):

Well, The Avengers isn’t just a film. it’s a franchise, from our perspective. It was helped by the success of the Iron Man movies and Captain America. From The Avengers we get a chance to make Thor 2 and Iron Man 3 and hopefully another Avengers movie. This one film, which was successful, over 700 million, as you said, as of last night, is going to get a number of other films and franchises. We see tremendous interest in products and in games for The Avengers.

You can take the ‘hopefully another Avengers movie” as The Avengers 2, or you can also take it as The Incredible Hulk 2, Black Widow, Hawkeye, or S.H.I.E.L.D. as well. Or all of the above. The quote isn’t exactly saying anything definite, other than the success of the film will result in a lot of spin-offs and tie-ins, both in and out of movies. So, for all of you clamoring for a Hulk film starring Mark Ruffalo, keep clamoring. If the studio feels there is a demand for it, you just might get it.

No date has been announce for the sequel. While Marvel does have a date in 2014 free (May 16), it seems more likely that the sequel would come sometime in 2015. The good news, according to Collider, is that Marvel has an option to bring Joss Whedon back for a sequel. This is great news, because I don’t think the film would have been as good without him.

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Rodriguez Adds FIRE AND ICE To Workload

Posted on 25 April 2012 by Rich Drees

If yesterday‘s news that director Robert Rodriguez may be jumping into production on the much anticipated Sin City 2 even before he is done shooting Machete Kills didn’t sound like he was over working himself, perhaps this will convince you. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Rodriguez stated that as soon as he is finished with Sin City 2 he should be moving right into shooting the sword and sorcery fantasy Fire And Ice.

We’re almost done with the script, we’ve got it pretty much 70 percent there – I’m really excited about that one… I think the timing is going to work out just right and we’ll have a finished script in the next month or so. So that we can start lengthier pre-production and we can go right into pre-production – well, we’re actually in pre-production, sort of, or we’ve been doing a lot of the previsualization. But that would be the next thing after Sin City.

A remake of the 1983 animated film that was inspired by the paintings of Frank Frazetta, Rodriguez announced his planned back in May 2010.

A collaboration between animator and director Ralph Bakshi and Frazetti, Fire & Ice was elevated above its script rather straight forward sword-and-sorcery pulp roots – courtesy of comic book writers Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas who had both worked on four-color adaptations of Conan The Barbarian – through Frazetta’s unique fantasy work. Fire And Ice used the same rotoscoping process that Bakshi employed in his previous films Wizards, Lord Of The Rings and American Pop. And I would say that despite the good job of world building that Frazetta and Bakshi did, a good portion of the film’s charm is the use of rotoscoping to visualize the action.

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Shocker! – International 3D Society Study Says People Like 3D

Posted on 24 April 2012 by Rich Drees

A study released by the International 3D Society would like you to believe that that people just love the format. But a critical look at the numbers that they are presenting reveal a different story.

According to their survey conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation, 52% of 1,011 Americans 18 years old and older surveyed (or 526) had seen at least one 3D film in the past year. And out of that group 71% reportedly prefer 3D films to 2D ones. Additionally 31% of that 52% stated that seeing 3D films is “incredible.”

But then again, of course a study paid for by an organization calling itself the International 3D Society would have this kind of result. According to the group’s website it is a group “founded to advance the art and technologies of stereoscopic 3D content and its professional innovators.” It doesn’t really get into specifics as to how founded it, but considering that their chairman is Jim Mainard, head of Production Development at Dreamworks Animation and that several members of their Executive Committee and Board of Governors are all highly placed studio and filmmaking technology executives, it is kind of hard to look at them as completely non-partisan.

But let’s break that down a bit. A quick bit of math reveals that out of those 1011 surveyed, only 373 (or 37% of the total surveyed) prefer 3D to 2D with just 163 (16%) people found seeing a 3D movie “incredible.” Not as rosy as their presentation of the facts would lead you to believe.

It is certainly not in keeping with Variety’s headline of “Moviegoers surveyed say 3D pics are better” with which they report this story. But then again, Variety, who basically just ran a rewritten press release, has a vested interest in keeping the industry happy and reporting what they would like to be reported.

I think that what has been said about the inflated numbers that Hollywood usually offers about piracy losses can be applied here as well – Never trust numbers offered by an industry whose main product is fiction.

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Relativity Takes Another Try At STRETCH ARMSTRONG Movie

Posted on 24 April 2012 by Rich Drees

Although their attempt to make a movie with Taylor Lautner based on the 70s toy Stretch Armstrong came to naught, it doesn’t mean that toy manufacturer Hasbro and studio Relativity have given up on the idea. They are poised to make another try and to that end have hired Dean Georgaris to write a new screenplay for the project.

According to Variety, Georgaris will be taking a direction that should deliver a “plausible, action oriented family pic” for the studio. I’m not sure how you fit the word “plausible” into a pitch for a character who can stretch himself to ridiculous lengths, especially with the writer of 2004’s fairly preposterous The Manchurian Candidate attached.

Relativity must be pretty confident that this attempt will prove successful as they have already announced an April 11, 2014 release date. Is this a case of putting the cart before the-as-yet-to-be-born horse? We’ll see.

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Feige: Ruffalo Whedon’s Choice, Button Scene Hints, And Other Tidbits From The CBR Interview

Posted on 17 April 2012 by William Gatevackes

You have to love Kevin Feige. He has provided enough talking points in a recent article on Comic Book Resources to fill fifteen blog posts. I’ll try my best to squeeze them all into this one.

The comments come from a one-on-one interview with CBR News’ Josie Campbell as part of the promotional blitz leading up to May 4th’s The Avengers release. That film was a main talking point, but Feige also touched on Marvel Studios’ past and future.

Let’s start with the now-expected post-credits button scene. Feige explained what that scene will contain:

There’s a reveal at the end — the notion that Loki has made an arrangement with somebody, that somebody has provided these extremely deadly and creepy and cool aliens to fight alongside him and then to reveal who that somebody was, that’s all Joss and that was sort of the big payoff

So, who could the the big baddie of the button scene be? This modus operandi sort of fits Thanos, the cosmic Marvel Comics bad guy that has been long rumored to be included in the film. However, the fact that Joss Whedon appears to be the one who came up with the bad guy could lend credence to the rumor that the villain would be Ord from Whedon’s run on the Astonishing X-Men comic book. Personally, I think it will be the former rather than the latter, if only because Thanos would have more of a wow factor for the comic book fans in the audience.

Feige also touches on the casting of Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner. If you recall, the recasting of the character caused a bit of controversy back in July of 2010 as Edward Norton was removed from the role, which cause a flurry of statements from Marvel, Norton’s agent, and Norton himself over the brouhaha, before it was announced that Ruffalo signed on. Well, if Norton’s fans were looking for a black hat in all of this, Feige gave them one–Joss Whedon.

There had been discussion as to where to take that character and where to take the part and Joss had some ideas; he came to us and said, ‘I’d like to think about another actor,’ and we said, ‘Well, much of what we like about ‘The Avengers’ is we’re taking all the actors we had before and putting them together again, so we said it depends on who you’re thinking of — if you’re thinking of A, B or C maybe not, if you’re thinking of Mark Ruffalo we’d be open to a conversation. And he goes, ‘Holy shit!’ and takes a list out of his pocket, and at the top of his list was Mark Ruffalo! We had said that because Mark had come very, very close to playing Banner in ‘The Incredible Hulk,’ which Joss had no idea, we never talked about it before. It was one of those moments when you’re so deeply on the same page without even realizing it.”

It’s pretty clear from this quote that jettisoning Norton was Whedon’s idea. Feige doesn’t give a reason, but presents Marvel Studios as being okay with the decision as long as Whedon didn’t go too far off the reservation. It also goes to show how popular Mark Ruffalo is within this realm of Hollywood.

Feige also gave us a little insight into the creative process of how the studios worked with Whedon to keep The Avengers in line with the rest of the Marvel films:

We told him what characters we wanted, we told him how we wanted S.H.I.E.L.D. to be sort of the umbrella organization that tied it all together, we wanted the Helicarrier and we wanted Loki to be the bad guy and sort of that final, final battle in New York. All of the specifics, all of the dialogue, all of the humor and the emotional states of the characters and the interconnected way the characters relate to each other is from the books, from the other movies and from Joss.

For something completely unrelated yet something that caught my eye was Feige’s comment on the differences between the Marvel film adaptations and the DC film adaptations:

I haven’t seen ‘Dark Knight Rises.’ [Christopher] Nolan’s tone is very specific and is pretty awesome and we’re very different. I think that while we have, particularly in ‘Avengers,’ very serious moments and [it] is as dark and serious as the moments in any of our films, there’s a sense of humor that goes along with it that Joss is an expert at and that we believe very strongly that Jon Favreau really helped define in the ‘Iron Man’ films, that allows, we believe, the audience to get in even deeper into the story. There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in our movies and we want people to believe in them and we want people to relate to them. When they’re laughing, when they’re cheering, you can suddenly hit them with something else — you open up through humor and that tone, that fine line between the epic, the bombastic, the moving and the humor is to me that favorite part of stringing all these movies together.

I find this to be either a savvy piece of marketing or a subtle dig at the DC film slate (or possibly both). This comes on the news reports that the new Superman film, Man of Steel, will be “edgier,” confirming that Warner Brothers’ film group President Jeff Robinov wasn’t joking when he said again and again that DC films would be better if they were as dark and gritty as The Dark Knight.  I always thought that Robinov’s belief that every DC character would benefit from a darker tone was asinine at worst and ill conceived at best, but with this statement, Feige is saying two things. One, we have no problem getting people to see lighter superhero fare and, two, if you want an alternative to the darker, less kid-friendly DC films, bring them over here! Either way, it’s a genius statement.

Feige also hinted at the future of the Marvel film universe, stating that Iron Man 3 will “redefine” the franchise:

‘Iron Man 3’ being the next one up is a very different film than the others. I am a big fan of continuing to redefine what a Marvel movie is, what a comic book movie is; I think we did that with ‘Iron Man,’ we did that with ‘Thor,’ we did that with ‘Cap’ and Joss [Whedon] has helped us doing it now on ‘Avengers.’ Shane Black is helping us do it on ‘Iron Man 3.’

I get the feeling that many people consider Iron Man 2 to be a disappointment.  I don’t, so I really don’t think that it needs redefining. However, I do appreciate the fact that they are tweaking the concept in franchise instead of doing a reboot, which seems so common these days.

And, when asked which of the four most talked about forthcoming Marvel franchises–Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Runaways, and Inhumans–would be the next to come down the pipeline, Feige offered this cryptic statement.

Two of those four are much closer than people realize, and we’ll be talking about them in the coming months!

Go ahead. Place you bets as to what two he’s talking about. I’ll dare ya. You can pick just about any two from the list and have justification in guessing those particular films. tell you what, here’s my choices–Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. My reasoning: if they will be talking about them in the coming months, they will probably have something to do with The Avengers. Ant-Man is an Avenger in the comic books, and of the four it seems like the one furthest along in the production cycle. And if you are going to introduce a cosmic, intergalactic villain in the final frames of your big summer blockbuster, wouldn’t you want audiences to see them again in the near future? And what better concept to showcase a threat to the Galaxy than in a film centered on the Guardians of the Galaxy?

There’s a lot of other good stuff in the interview. I recommend everyone to check it out.

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Leslie Zemeckis To Make Siamese Twin Doc BOUND BY FLESH

Posted on 11 April 2012 by Rich Drees

Leslie Zemeckis is starting work on a documentary focusing on the lives of Daisy and Violet Hilton, British Siamese twins joined at the hip born in 1908. Entitled Bound by Flesh, the film will cover the girls’ birth to an unwed barmaid who in effect sold them to her employer who turned them into a sideshow and then vaudeville attraction.

At the height of their careers, the Hilton sisters were one of the biggest moneymakers on the vaudeville circuit and appeared on stage with the likes of such classic comedians as Jack Benny and George Burns and Gracie Allen. They were a part of Bob Hope’s 1926 act “The Dancemedians” where they performed a tap dance routine.

In addition to their various stage acts and public appearances, the sisters also appeared in Tod Browning’s 1932 classic Freaks. Their only other film appearance was in the semi-autobiographical 1951 exploitation film Chained For Life. They were also a loose inspiration for the 1997 musical Side Show, which received four Tony nominations.

Previously Zemeckis, the wife of director/ producer Robert Zemeckis, directed the Burlesque documentary Behind The Burly Q which is currently airing on Showtime and is also available on Netflix. Robert Zemeckis will serve as executive producer on Bound By Flesh. They are hoping to have it in theaters in 2013.

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Universal Honcho Hints At SNOW WHITE & HUNTSMAN Sequel Possibility

Posted on 09 April 2012 by Rich Drees

It is a given that even self-contained stories are often eyed for sequels by the Hollywood studios. And before a movie it has become almost a standard part of the promotion to mention sequel possibilities.

Still, it seems a bit odd to be discussing the possibility of a sequel to Universal’s upcoming Snow White And The Huntsman when you factor in the whole “Happily ever after” angle of the source material. But that hasn’t stopped studio honcho Ron Meyer from stating last Friday at the 2012 Pulse Conference put on by the Anderson Business School at UCLA that Universal was indeed contemplating turning the film into a franchise and in a rather unexpected way. As the Hollywood Reporter states-

Meyer said that while the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman doesn’t appear to lend itself to a sequel, Universal thinks it can do more movies based on the character of the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) if it is successful.

I’m sorry, but was that a spoiler for how the film may end?

And exactly how does one extend the franchise using the Huntsman and not Snow White? Will they have him meet other fairy tale heroines? Would you want to see movies like Cinderella And The Huntsman or Rapunzel And The Huntsman? This certainly seems like an odd view to have especially when Meyer stated that the the one-off, ending-on-a-happy-note nature of their recent hit The Lorax was what was keeping the studio from pursuing a follow up there.

Snow White And The Huntsman with Hemsworth, Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron hits theaters on June 1. As for what comes afterwards, time will tell.

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SUPER TROOPERS 2 Script Is Ready To Go, Waiting On A “Legal Thing”

Posted on 12 March 2012 by Rich Drees

In terms of how quickly films go from being an idea someone has to having a script written and getting the go ahead to start production, Super Troopers 2 is not going to be getting any speeding tickets.

The sequel to comedy troupe’s 2001 break out comedy has been rumored for many years now and in December 2009, members Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme confirmed to me that they were indeed working on a script for a follow up, but that it wasn’t ready yet. A little over two years later and it finally appears that the screenplay is ready to go but there is one other detail that they have to iron out before being able to start shooting.

Heffernan and Broken Lizard member Jay Chandrasekhar told IFC the news this past weekend while at the SXSW festival in Austin to promote, The Babymakers, the group’s new film in which they star as a group of guys who help out their friend and his wife who are unable to conceive by stealing back his last remaining donation he made to a sperm bank.

“We’re hoping to make Super Troopers 2 eventually,” Chandrasekhar, who has also served a s director on a number of the group’s films, stated. “We’ve written the script and as soon as we figure out a little sort of legal thing with Fox, I think we’ll hopefully get a chance to make that.”

But even if the group’s next project isn’t Super Troopers 2, Chandrasekhar, Heffernan and Lemme, along with Broken Lizard’s other members Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske have plenty of other projects in the pipeline for fans including Freeloaders which the group is producing and which is currently in post-production.

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Brian Kirk In Talks For OSTERMAN WEEKEND Remake

Posted on 28 February 2012 by Rich Drees

Television director Brian Kirk is in talks with Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment to helm their new adaption of the Robert Ludlum spy thriller The Osterman Weekend. The Luther and Game Of Thrones helmer has been looking to break into features as of late. Last August he was close to signing on to direct Thor 2 before Marvel Studio decided to go with Patty Jenkins.

Kirk has also been developing a potential Tom Cruise film called Paper Wings for Sony and Midnight Delivery with producer Guillermo Del Toro at Universal.

Previously adapted in 1983 by the great Sam Peckinpah, this new version of Ludlum’s classic novel is being scripted by Simon Kinberg and Jesse Wigutow. There’s no word yet as to whether the studio wants to go with the script that they have or if Kirk will oversee revisions.

Via Deadline.

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Welles’ CITIZEN KANE Oscar Back Up For Auction

Posted on 13 December 2011 by Rich Drees

Looking for the ultimate Christmas gift for the movie lover in your life? How about the Best Screenplay Academy Award statue that Orson Welles won for writing the classic Citizen Kane. The Oscar will be going up for auction on December 20th at Los Angeles auction house Nate D. Sanders. This is the same Oscar statue that was up for auction in 2007, but didn’t sell then. This time around, it is hoped that the statue will sale for anywhere between $60,000 and $1 million. This is down considerably from the $800,000 to $1.2 million it was expected to earn the last time it had been placed up for auction.

Long thought lost, Welles’s Oscar was revealed to be in the possession of cinematographer Gary Graver, who stated that the director had given him the statue as payment for working on Welles’s unfinished 1974 film The Other Side Of The Wind. Graver tried to auction the Oscar through Sotheby’s, but was sued by Welles’ daughter Beatrice Welles, who was eventually awarded ownership of the Academy Award by a California court.

Beatrice Welles put the Oscar up for auction herself, but was sued by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences. The Academy had enacted a stipulation that the Oscar statues could not be resold without first offering to sell them back to the Academy for the nominal sum of $1.00. However, a California court ruled that as this rule was enacted in 1950, the Citizen Kane Oscar was not covered by the policy. The auction went ahead in 2003, with the Oscar being acquired by the Dax Foundation, who has decided to resale the statue and use the proceeds to help fund the non-profit organization’s charitable works. However, the statue failed to move at the 2007 auction and it appears that the Dax Foundation has sold the Oscar privately, as the reported current owner of the statue is wishing to remain anonymous.

Via Hollywood Reporter.

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