Kick-Ass star Aaron Johnson is set to join Marvel‘s The Avengers: Age Of Ultron in the role of Quicksilver AKA Pietro Maximoff. Earlier this month Elizabeth Olsen closed in on the role of Scarlet Witch, sister to Quicksilver. Both characters also appear in Marvel’s X-Men comics. The Avengers sequel helmed by Joss Whedon is slated for May 1, 2015.
Elizabeth Olsen is heading for her superhero movie debut in Marvel‘s 2015 sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron. A source close to the situation tells Deadline she’s all but sealed for the pic and that her deal is “just a matter of formality before it’s done.” Marvel isn’t officially talking specifics but Samuel L. Jackson, the Avengers’ Nick Fury, confirmed Olsen’s casting as the Scarlet Witch during an interview with the WSJ. Olsen next appears in FilmDistrict’s Oldboy and is repped by The Gersh Agency, Brillstein Partners, and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern.
The Avengers sequel has its villain. James Spader will play Ultron in The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Marvel announced today online. A fixture of the Marvel universe for decades, the evil robotic Ultron has repeatedly fought the Avengers collectively and individually in attempts to take over the world. At Comic-Con this year, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige announced the title of the upcoming Avengers tentpole and who the villain would be. Disney will release the Joss Whedon-directed sequel on May 1, 2015. Last seen on the big screen in Lincoln, Spader returns to the small screen September 23 as the star of NBC’s new drama The Blacklist. Spader is repped by ICM Partners and attorney Melanie Cook at Ziffren Brittenham.
D23: Alan Horn Jeered For Keeping Mum On ‘Star Wars’, ‘Maleficent’s Angelina Jolie Makes Surprise Appearance, Marvel Teases ‘Avengers 2′
Anthony D’Alessandro contributes to Deadline’s D23 coverage.
Disney’s live action panel today at D23 started off with Alan Horn being heckled by disappointed Star Wars fans and pretty much turned into a clipfest afterwards. Only a surprise appearance by Maleficent star Angelina Jolie at the Anaheim event raised the temperature anywhere near Friday’s news filled Animation panel. The newest jewel in Disney’s crown, Star Wars was dealt with by the studio boss with a list of old announcements of approximate release dates, JJ Abrams being on board and spinoff films. “I really wish I could tell you more. It will come soon,” Horn told the crowd as a big “awww” and boos emanated from around the convention center from fans expecting a bone to be thrown their way today.
That was in sharp contrast to Jolie’s sudden walk-on later in the two-hour panel. Then it was cheers not jeers. “Since I was a little girl, I was drawn to her. But I was also terrified by her, but she had this elegance and grace,” said Jolie about playing in the upcoming backstory to the Sleeping Beauty character. “When I heard Disney was making the film, my brother encouraged me to take the role.” Jolie’s appearance in front of the audience of 7,500, came after Walt Disney live action production head Sean Bailey spoke about casting her for Maleficent. “You can pencil out a list of all the amazing actresses in the world and for us this list only had one name for the role, Angelina Jolie,” exclaimed Bailey over as sketches from the film played on the big screen. After Jolie’s brief turn on stage, Bailey showed the audience exclusive footage from Maleficent. In the clip, Jolie’s British-accented wicked Queen appeared amidst CGI fairies and green steam rising to curse the baby Sleeping Beauty. “Without a doubt, Maleficent will be a powerful movie experience when it comes to theaters next summer,” Bailey told the crowd. Maleficent is set to be release on July 2, 2014.
EXCLUSIVE: Chris Evans will make his feature directorial debut on 1:30 Train, a Ron Bass-scripted film that will be funded by Wonderland Sound And Vision. Evans will star and produce with Mark Kassen, Howard and Karen Baldwin, Bill Immerman, and Wonderland’s McG and Mary Viola. I’ve heard Evans plans to direct the movie this fall, completing production before he picks up his shield to play Captain America in The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, the Joss Whedon-directed sequel for Marvel. The film is a romance in the vein of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, focusing on two strangers who meet in Manhattan and spend one night together as the conflicts in their own lives become the basis for their exploration of each other and themselves.
This becomes the first financed feature for Wonderland since director-producer McG re-launched his Wonderland banner last month with a multi-year funding partnership with Mickey Liddell’s private equity-backed LD Entertainment. This has enabled Wonderland to be a buyer and independently develop, produce and finance its own slate of feature film, television and digital projects. Wonderland’s McG and Viola worked with Evans on the upcoming Justin Reardon-directed A Many Splintered Thing, and 1:30 Train grew out of that. Evans had been involved in an earlier incarnation of the film with another director. And he never forgot the material. Now’s he’s in a position to do something about it. Evans is repped by CAA and 3 Arts. …
In the final moments of Marvel’s rousing panel at Hall H, Marvel chief Kevin Feige brought out Joss Whedon, who showed a very early teaser of the sequel The Avengers and revealed that the film will be called Age Of Ultron with a May 1, 2015 release date. Marvel Comics aficionados might know that the title and the baddie Ultron are the subject of 10-issue limited series comic book crossover storyline published by Marvel Comics that involves the return of Ultron and his conquest of the earth. Ultron and his Sentinels should prove a worthy antagonist for the Avengers and it looked like all will be back though there was no mention of Vin Diesel, who is rumored to be in line to play The Vision. The comic series was published between March and June 2013 and features a storyline by Brian Michael Bendis. Artist Bryan Hitch provided the art for issues one through five, and Brandon Peterson for issues six through eight. Other artists who contributed to the series include Carlos Pacheco and Joe Quesada, the latter of whom drew part of the final issue.
After DC’s announcement earlier today that the sequel to Man of Steel would be a Superman/Batman team up, the pressure was on for Marvel to top that bombshell during their own Hall H Comic Con panel. Marvel delivered with the announcement of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, but it wasn’t just Avengers news that electrified the assembled throngs of fanboys and fangirls. Marvel put on a highly theatrical presentation that featured never before seen footage of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World, and Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as some of the most elaborate fan service seen at this year’s Comic Con courtesy of Loki actor Tom Hiddleston.
After a brief introduction from panel moderator Chris Hardwick and Feige, Hiddleston came onstage dressed in character as Loki to present new footage from Thor: The Dark World. “Silence, you mewling quims,” a scenery chewing Hiddleston said, referencing The Avengers‘ most notorious line of dialogue. Delivering a speech based heavily on his lines from the blockbuster, Hiddleston exhorted the crowd to shout his name. The Thor footage included scenes previously seen in the recent teaser, but mainly offered a much expanded look at the film’s larger scope. It was small on actual plot details but demonstrated that Marvel intends to keep doing what has worked for them for the last 5 years.
Ross Lincoln contributes to Deadline’s Comic-Con coverage.
Andrew Garfield revealed today that the Spider-Man story he’d most like to see made into a film is one that is legally impossible, at least for the moment. “I’d love to see [Spider-Man] with The Avengers,” he said, to audible gasps, during the Sony Pictures panel discussion of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 at Comic-Con. “Wouldn’t that just be awesome? Just saying.”
Sadly for everyone drooling at the prospect of Spider-Man joining that Marvel superhero squad, it’s not going to happen as long as Sony retains the rights to the character. And judging by the presentation during tonight, the company expects to retain them for the foreseeable future. Sony clearly expects Amazing Spider-Man 2 to be a huge hit. During the first half of the discussion, the participants — co-stars Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan and, eventually, Garfield, along with director mark Webb and producers Ari Avad and Matt Tolmach — didn’t even attempt to sell the movie; instead, after a short film depicting him attempting to sneak into Hall H, Garfield appeared dressed and in character as Spider-Man, then spent 10 minutes wisecracking with the cast.
The irony wasn’t lost on Joss Whedon as he lobbied for more original content in Hollywood in his anything-goes Comic-Con Q&A Friday evening. The director behind both Marvel’s The Avengers and indie Shakespeare pic Much Ado About Nothing acknowledged his own recent successes with adaptations big and small between answering Whedonverse queries from fans. “I do feel like we are in desperate need of new content,” he said. “Pop culture is eating itself at a rate that is going to be dangerous. Too many narratives are built on the resonance of recognition. That’s going to become really problematic. Even though it’s enormous fun to work on something I read as a child, I think it’s important for us to step back from that and create new universes, new messages, and new icons … so that 10 years from now we can reboot those.”
Whedon said he’d like to do more with Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, the indie web series he directed, co-wrote, and produced during the WGA strike. He drew loud cheers with the dream project idea of getting the crew of Serenity back together, but he expressed no interest in returning to other projects he was formerly attached to, like his Wonder Woman script for Warner Bros. and DC. “I don’t like to go back to things,” he said, “and I also feel there’s plenty of room for a new iconic female heroine. So let’s look to the future.”
The news was announced a few minutes ago on Marvel.com. Robert Downey Jr reprises his role as Tony Stark in a 2-picture agreement for Marvel’s The Avengers 2 (May 1, 2015) and Marvel’s The Avengers 3 (undated). The sequel will start production on March 2014 led again by writer and director Joss Whedon. Downey had been involved in tough negotiations with cheapskate Marvel as I’ve previously reported; now the question is which other Avengers 2 actors will solve their contract disputes. Downey is represented at CAA by Bryan Lourd, Jim Toth and Matt Leaf and by his attorneys Tom Hansen and Stewart Brookman of the firm Hansen Jacobson. Downey’s past two Marvel films, 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers and this year’s Iron Man 3, rank as two of the top five grossing films of all time, collectively earning over $2.7 billion worldwide to date. Marvel.com said it will be revealing additional casting updates, new characters coming to Marvel movies, and more in coming weeks.
EXCLUSIVE: Marvel Studios is courting Aaron Taylor-Johnson for the role of Quicksilver in The Avengers 2, I’m told. Taylor-Johnson, who reprises the title role in Kick-Ass 2: Balls To The Wall, has scheduling issues and I’m not sure this will work out, but Marvel wants him.
There have been reports on the comic-savvy websites that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who are twins, were in the current draft of Avengers 2 via Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios. Fox is also gung-ho on that character, as Bryan Singer, director of X-Men: Days Of Future Past announced on Twitter that he’d cast Evan Peters to play that role in his film for Fox. More intriguing is that Peters played in Kick-Ass alongside Johnson. I’ll let you know if this embryonic situation turns into something real and Taylor-Johnson gets fitted for spandex.
Most execs like to raise expectations when they address investors. But Disney CFO Jay Rasulo did just the opposite when he opened his appearance today at the Nomura U.S. Media & Telecom Summit. After seeing some analysts’ rosy forecasts for the current quarter, he says that “maybe I wasn’t clear” in earlier presentations about the challenges the entertainment giant faces in the quarter that ends in June. Although the company is “thrilled with the outcome” of Iron Man 3, which could end up with $1.3B in worldwide box office sales, last year it had The Avengers, which generated $1.5B. In addition it will have a lot of marketing expenses for The Lone Ranger, “a film we’re very excited about.” But since the film will be released July 3, the revenues won’t be booked until the fiscal Q4. All told, the studio’s operating income could be down $150M vs last year. In addition, ESPN will defer some revenues. And Disney’s theme parks could be down $65M with one fewer Easter holiday week falling in fiscal Q3. Disney shares, which had been up in early trading today, are now down about 1%.
On Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night Friday, Joss Whedon confirmed that Marvel characters Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver would be in The Avengers 2. “I found their powers to be very visually interesting,” Whedon explained. “In the last film a lot of the characters had very ‘punchy powers’ where they were always punchy something and that got kind of boring after awhile.” Whedon said no one has been cast yet, and Fallon suggested Selena Gomez and Channing Tatum. (Was that a joke?) Whedon didn’t raise the name of Evan Peters, who was cast as Quicksilver in Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past earlier this week. Here’s the Fallon-Whedon video:
Previous: Paramount Makes Money Off ‘Avengers’ Too
A year ago I was first to toldja about Paramount‘s big payday from The Avengers and Iron Man 3 - the two movies left on its 6-pic distribution deal with Marvel. Now I can tell you how much Disney moolah it pocketed. According to calculations I’ve received from insiders, Paramount receives 9% of Disney’s take on what is expected to be $1.2 billion worldwide gross theatrical receipts plus projected ancillary (like homevideo, VOD, television) for Iron Man 3. So that works out to be about $90 million to the Melrose Avenue studio. Paramount also pockets 8% of Disney’s take on the $1.5 billion worldwide gross theatrical receipts plus ancillary for The Avengers. So that works out to be about $100 million. In other words, the total dollars equal $190M. “It’s very nice,” a Paramount exec deadpanned. Oh, and did I mention that, when I first wrote about this deal, Disney was spitting mad at me?
To remind you, The Avengers was the first Marvel Studios film marketed and distributed by The Walt Disney Studios which took over those duties from Paramount in 2012 after Bob Iger bought the comics entertainment company for $4 billion in 2009. Then in 2010 Disney bought Paramount out of the final two films and paid a premium to put everything …
EXCLUSIVE: Robert Downey Jr is set for another huge payday from a mega-hit Marvel movie, this time Iron Man 3. I’ve learned he’s already made $35 million from the actioner, which grossed $680 million worldwide in its first 12 days. He should exceed his biggest payday to date — that $50M from The Avengers which I’ve learned was more like $70M-$80M now that the film is all in. But it’s really Avengers 2 where he’ll clean up big-time — if he wants to reprise the role. He’s hinting to some media it may be time to retire Tony Stark. And saying to other outlets that Marvel better show him more money for Avengers 2. ”I don’t know,” he said on The Daily Show. ”I had a long contract with them and now we’re gonna renegotiate.” (“You are Iron Man! You are!” cheered Jon Stewart.) I’ve learned that Marvel and therefore owner Disney are going to run into big trouble on that sequel because the upfront pay, backend compensation, break-even points and box office bonuses aren’t pinned down yet for several big stars and castmates. This is major hurdle that Walt Disney Co Chaiman/CEO Bob Iger hasn’t even mentioned to Wall Street or shareholders though he’s already been hyping Avengers 2 for more than a year now.
First and foremost Marvel does not have Downey in place yet. ”They need him, and they don’t have him. He’s got a lot of leverage,” one insider tells me. Much less so Scarlett Johannsen (paid to pop up in Marvel movie after movie), Chris Evans (whom some sources say made his deal for Avengers 2 when he signed for Captain America 2), Chris Hemsworth (a much bigger star now than before and unsigned for Avengers 2), Mark Ruffalo (whose Hulk role already was cast 3 times and could be the most vulnerable), Jeremy Renner (probably grateful for more exposure), Samuel L. Jackson (Scarlett’s doppelganger) among others who were paid pittances for their first movies, not much better for the sequels, and are counting on at least $5 million upfront and better back ends for Avengers 2. That means much better than what Marvel claimed was Avengers’ break-even point: a whopping $1.1 billion in global grosses. (“If Avengers wasn’t profitable until then, why would you make it?” one rep pointedly asked Marvel top execs Kevin Feige and Louis Esposito.) In a business where studio accounting is known as fatal subtraction and even worldwide blockbusters are still supposedly in the red, Marvel and its famously frugal CEO Ike Perlmutter still give new meaning to the term stingy. I’ve learned that one reason why The Avengers was nominated for only one Oscar – Best Visual Effects – in the 85th Academy Awards contest was because Marvel refused to pay for an awards season campaign for the picture. And even when Disney offered to foot the bill, Marvel still wouldn’t budge. (Yet the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences assembled the cast onstage to create buzz.) Here’s how one exec describes any negotiation with Marvel: “I wouldn’t say it’s brutal. It’s uncompromising, not mean or draconian. The fact is this is the reality of the world we’re living in right now.”
But The Avengers cast are ready to rumble with Marvel for the Avengers sequel slated for a May 2015 release. “Some received only $200,000 for Avengers and Downey got paid $50M. On what planet is that OK?” an insider tells me. CAA represents an overwhelming majority of the Marvel stars and is trying hard to keep the negotiations out of the public limelight and media headlines. But that may not be possible with some reps blaming the studio for ’scorched earth’ tactics past and present. ”Marvel has created so much animosity by strong-arming and bullying on sequels already. It’s counterproductive,” one source tells me. Says another, “I’m sick of Kevin Feige telling me again and again how Marvel is ‘reinventing the movie business’. It doesn’t work like this. They’re reinventing business, period.” I’ve learned Marvel already has threatened to sue or recast when contracts and/or options are challenged. That prompted a few cast members to respond, “Go ahead.” I hear Hemsworth especially wasn’t anxious to go back into that arduous diet and training regimen and subsist primarily on egg whites for Thor: Dark World which hits theaters November 8th. I also understand that Scarlett Johanssen told castmates she’s “not going to cut her quote” for Marvel’s Avengers 2. The actress as butt-kicking operative Black Widow in The Avengers and Iron Man 2 is wrapping Captain America: The Winter Soldier and has a whopping 8 options total.
Already a lot of brinkmanship played out for Captain America 2 and Thor 2. Calling it the “weirdest experience”, one rep still can’;t believe Marvel offered “only a $500,000 raise and then would pay another $500,000 when the movie hits $500M. Are they out of their minds?” When it was pointed out to Marvel that Hemsworth already had received $5M for his starring role in Snow White And The Huntsman, the studio shot back, ”I don’t know why you’re complaining when Marvel only has hit movies.” To which the response was, “He’s happier working at a place like Universal.” After hard-fought bargaining, Chris Evans for Captain America 2 and Chris Hemsworth for Thor 2 wound up with deals still weighted on the back end but at least with attainable break-even numbers and small upfront guarantees and box office bonuses.
The issue going forward is how many of the Avengers stars and starlets are still bound by early agreements and longterm options which Marvel can continue to exploit individually. To counter, I’ve learned the Avengers cast are becoming united behind Robert Downey Jr who is seen as the “leader” – like “a big brother” in the words of one rep - for all the younger actors in the ensemble. “He’s the only guy with real power in this situation. and balls of steel, too. He’s already sent a message that he’s not going to work for a place where they treat his colleagues like shit,” one source explains. Another rep tells me, “I have four words for Marvel – ‘Fuck you, call Robert.’”
If your trophy show is going to inaugurate its first new category since the Clinton administration, not a bad idea to dole it out to the third-biggest film of all time. Deadline has learned exclusively that the Golden Trailer Awards will lay its spanking-new Top of the Box Office prize for the year’s top-grossing film on the marketing superheroes behind Disney/Marvel’s superflick The Avengers. The trailer-topped statuette will go to Walt Disney Studios’ Asad Ayaz, SVP Marketing, Live Action and Marvel, and John “Ibby” Ibsen, SVP Creative Film Services. While saving the world, The Avengers made off with $1.51B worldwide last year, beating the No. 2 title, Sony’s Skyfall, by more than $400M. The 14th annual Golden Trailers — which honor achievement in movie marketing, including film trailers, posters and TV spots — will be handed out Friday at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. Rob Schneider and Aisha Tyler are your hosts.
The Weinstein Co.’s Silver Linings Playbook and leading duo Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper came up big at the 2013 MTV Movie Awards, nabbing Best Female Performance, Best Male Performance, and Best Kiss at the annual fan-driven ceremony. Marvel’s The Avengers took home three awards including Movie Of The Year, while host Rebel Wilson and her breakout summer pic Pitch Perfect also garnered kudos. Meanwhile, Taylor Lautner of Summit’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 snagged a win out of the film’s lone nomination: Best Shirtless Performance. Here’s the full list of winners, highlighted in bold:
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Marvel’s The Avengers cast mates Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo will present together on the Oscar stage, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today.
“We are happy to re-unite the Avengers cast to present on our show,” said Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. “Audiences who enjoyed the year’s biggest box office hit will be excited to see these terrific actors back together again.”
Los Angeles – The Visual Effects Society (VES) is pleased to announce the nominees for the 11th Annual VES Awards, which recognize outstanding visual effects artistry in 24 categories of film, animation, television, commercials and video games. Nominees were selected Saturday, January 5 by VES members at SPY/ a FotoKem Company in the Bay Area and at FotoKem in Burbank in California; and at Blue Sky Studios in New York, Weta Digital in New Zealand, Fuel VFX in Sydney, Molinare in the UK and Image Engine in Vancouver.
Jeffrey A. Okun, Chair of the Visual Effects Society, comments, “Visual effects have helped define the experience of going to the cinema. Every year, visual effects artists put their technical skill, ingenuity and passion to work in the creation of images that astound and move us. We congratulate all of our nominees on their amazing accomplishments in – and contributions to – the worlds of film, animation, television, special venue and games.”
As previously announced, acclaimed director Ang Lee will be honored with the VES Visionary Award. Richard Edlund ASC, VES will be presented the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The 11th Annual VES Awards will take place on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
The nominees for the 11th Annual VES Awards are as follows:
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Kevin L. Sherwood
Life of Pi
EXCLUSIVE: Joss Whedon, who late last spring set the blockbuster tone for summer with the May release of The Avengers, will venture further into the warm weather season with his next film — this time aiming for the counter-programming buck. Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate have set a June 7 opening for Much Ado About Nothing, Whedon’s contemporized adaptation of the William Shakespeare play. The film will open that day in five markets and then broaden out June 21.