Rio 2 will fly into theaters this weekend from Fox and easily peck away the rest of the flock of openers that includes Lionsgate’s Draft Day, the third Kevin Costner starrer this year,, and the horror film Oculus from Relativity. The current thinking is that the animated sequel will do roughly $40M to $42M while the second weekend of Disney’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier will play out to mid-to-high $30M number, but it might surprise. According to Fandango, both Rio 2 and Captain America are neck in neck with ticket sales, each representing roughly 25% of total sales. It really depends how much Captain America drops from its second weekend. Captain America grossed $95M with $10.2M coming from Thursday last weekend (its debut), so if it holds at 50%, it grosses $42.4M. The first Captain America dropped 61% in its second weekend, the first Thor dropped only 47% while its sequel Thor: The Dark World dropped 57%. The first Iron Man dropped only 48.1%, but subsequent sequels dropped 59.4% and 58.4%, respectively. All Marvel titles. Given the stellar reviews for Captain America, it might surprise.
Captain America co-creator Joe Simon has died. The legendary Simon, who collaborated with Jack Kirby on other characters as well, died Wednesday night in New York City after a brief illness. He was 98. Athough Simon was a successful artist and editor in his own right, he remains best known for his partnership with Kirby. The duo worked hand-in-glove for years and from their fertile imaginations flowed a trove of characters, heroes, villains and misfits in the Golden Age of comic books during the 1940s. They worked for Timely, the forerunner of Marvel Comics; National Periodicals, the forerunner of DC and home of Superman; and Fawcett, among others. Their partnership led to additional creations the Newsboy Legion, the Boy Commandos and many others including Blue Bolt. Simon and Kirby’s work was known for its dynamism and ingenuity. Interrupted by service during World War II, they resumed their collaboration afterward, including the first romance comics in Young Love for Crestwood Publications and horror series Black Magic and the political satire Fighting American. They were never able, however, to break free from working for other publishers. In the late ’50s they went their separate ways. Simon attempted to regain his and Kirby’s rights to Captain America from Marvel but despite a significant appellate court victory he settled with Marvel and did not regain the rights. Simon is survived by two sons, three daughters and eight grandchildren.
It is often the case in this business that when actors are out promoting movies they have a filter on that keeps the real honesty at bay. That’s definitely not the case with the blazingly truthful Chris Evans, whose new indie film, Puncture, opens in limited release today from distributor Millennium Entertainment and who is also coming off the summer hit Captain America: The First Avenger, which has grossed $364 million worldwide. He is currently back in “Cap” mode shooting the all-star Marvel flick The Avengers, which Disney and Marvel release in May. Evans, in his guise of Captain America (aka Steve Rogers), is signed up for three Captain America and three Avengers films, having previously appeared in two Fantastic Four films as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch. So it’s no wonder in his down time between superhero travels he is proud to get the chance to do a small, true-life drama like Puncture, in which plays Mike Weiss, a drug-addicted lawyer who takes on a giant health supply company while trying to overcome his own problems with the needle and other demons.
When I talked with him, he made no apologies for doing the films that pay the big bucks. But to drum up interest in this tiny film for which he is receiving the best reviews of his career, he will even be out making personal appearances at the Landmark Theatre in Los Angeles, where the movie opens this weekend.
It was expected that intellectual property lawyer Marc Toberoff, who is suing Disney/Marvel on behalf of the heirs of legendary comics artist Jack Kirby, would appeal the decision by a federal judge in U.S. District Court for the Southern District Of New York that went against him. The judge not only granted the studio motions for summary judgment but also denied the Toberoff/Kirby’s cross-motion for summary judgment. The ruling revolved around character ownership and the fact that Kirby was a freelance writer who did work-for-hire and so didn’t retain the copyright. As Toberoff had told me at the time, “This is just the beginning.” The notice of appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeal was filed today. Specifically, the estate of comic book superhero legend Kirby — co-creator of Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, The Avengers, Iron Man, Hulk, The Silver Surfer and Thor — sent notices terminating copyright to publishers Marvel and Disney, as well as film studios that have made movies and TV shows based on characters he created or co-created, including Sony, Universal, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures. Normally these kinds of lawsuits are run of the mill for Hollywood. But not when they’re litigated by Toberoff, who is the bane of Big Media studios because he has a winning track record.
EXCLUSIVE: Intellectual property lawyer Marc Toberoff has a winning track record when he goes after Hollywood studios on behalf of rightsholders. But not today. I’ve just learned that he lost big in Federal Court for the Southern District Of New York after suing Disney/Marvel for the Jack Kirby Estate. The federal judge not only granted the studio motions for summary judgment but also denied the Toberoff/Kirby’s cross-motion for summary judgment. The ruling revolved around the fact that Kirby was a freelance writer and did work-for-hire and so didn’t retain the copyright. Well, you win some and you lose some. But all the Hollywood studios are chortling because they now see Toberoff as vulnerable and not invincible. “This is just the beginning,” Toberoff just told me, noting that, after the Kirby Estate exercised their termination rights under the Copyright Act, Marvel (backed by Disney) was in the middle of settlement negotiations in December 2009 and sued the Kirbys on January 8, 2010 in NY to benefit from that state’s more favorable work-for-hire case law. UPDATE: The
Walt Disney Companyissued this statement regarding the Marvel Worldwide Inc. v. Kirby ruling: “We are pleased that in this case, the judge has confirmed Marvel’s ownership rights.”
Specifically, the estate of comic book superhero legend Jack Kirby, co-creator of Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, The Avengers, Iron Man, Hulk, The Silver Surfer and Thor, sent notices terminating copyright to publishers Marvel and Disney, as well as film studios that have made movies and TV shows based on characters he created or co-created, including Sony, Universal, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures. Normally these kinds of lawsuits are run of the mill for Hollywood. But not when they’re litigated by Toberoff, who is the bane of Big Media.
FX’s buying spree of marquee summer movie titles continues with deals for comedies Friends With Benefits and Horrible Bosses. Additionally, the network has the rights to current No. 1 opener Captain America: The First Avenger under FX’s 2008 output deal with Marvel. The three movies join recent acquisitions Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Bad Teacher, Green Lantern, The Hangover Part II, Rio, Super 8, X-Men: First Class, Thor, Just Go With It, The Green Hornet, Tron: Legacy, and Kung Fu Panda 2.
Deadline Comic-Con Movie Contributor Luke Y Thompson reports:
It’s the story every media outlet is dying to tell every year: “Comic-Con just ain’t what it used to be.” This year, however, the event — set for July 21-24 at the San Diego Convention Center — comes with some alarmist (and circumstantial) evidence: Warner Bros won’t be doing a movie presentation. Marvel Studios won’t be either, even though the tiniest teaser for The Avengers last year made for the most memorable panel. Disney initially appeared absent too. So what’s going on? Did the failure of Scott Pilgrim to triumph at the box office following a massive Con promotion last year leave studios leery?
Well, you’d think if that were the case, Universal would feel the most burned — yet they’re doubling down by holding the premiere of Cowboys and Aliens there, inviting many of the fans to attend; one would imagine the big names like Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig will at least attend.
Disney, which now owns the Muppets and Marvel Studios, is likely saving those properties for its own D23 Expo in Anaheim toward the end of August. They are, however, bringing the DreamWorks pickup Fright Night to Comic-Con (in presentation and screening form) — notably, this is a movie that will open Aug. 19, the same day the D23 Expo begins, so it makes sense to hype it sooner. Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are the big names attending; curiously, the publicity has consistently downplayed the presence of former Doctor Who star David Tenant, and he has not been mentioned as attending, though he’d be given a hero’s welcome if he did.
Warner Bros’ lack of a movie panel may largely be due to the fact that the next Superman and Batman movies aren’t ready to show much yet — Man of Steel star Henry Cavill will be there, but on behalf of Relativity’s Immortals (also Luke Evans, Kellan Lutz and Mickey Rourke; director Tarsem Singh is not currently expected). Certainly WB is showing a ton of TV previews, but I’ll leave that to my colleague Gary Hodges to discuss. The biggest question mark in my mind is what Time Warner-owned Entertainment Weekly will put on the cover of their Comic-Con issue now: traditionally, it’s been a big reveal from a Warners movie.
The biggest name being batted about right now as a possibility is Steven Spielberg, to present footage from his The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. Certainly, a Tintin presentation would be wise, as the teaser has left many (myself included) highly skeptical. The fanbase needs persuading, and since it’s Spielberg, there’s probably at least one kickass scene that can get people hyped. But Paramount’s still playing things close to the vest — when I asked a publicist there about Comic-Con plans, I was told “It’s uncertain what or if we’re bringing anything.” That’s not a denial. And there has been talk of a Captain America screening — whether that translates into an actual panel is uncertain, as the regular press junkets and such will already be in full swing for the movie, opening that week.
In what amounts to a non-story, Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige has unwittingly whipped the web into a frenzy by acknowledging the possibility that both Thor and Captain America: First Avenger will be sequel-ized. Feige gave an innocuous interview to a Disney fan club magazine that hasn’t been published yet. And he didn’t really say anything. First of all, the promise of sequels is the whole reason Marvel makes and Disney finances/distributes these superhero movies, and the studio’s intentions were bared back when they signed Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans to superhero deals laden with sequel options. Same with directors Kenneth Branagh and Joe Johnston. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely reportedly are already working on the Captain America 2 script, and the same thing will happen soon with Thor. Most of the other news nuggets dropped by Feige were equally familiar, including the chatter about Dr. Strange percolating, which Deadline revealed last June.
Disney Publishing Worldwide announced today it is adding four titles based on its properties to join a U.S. roster that included the moms-skewing monthly Disney FamilyFun. The first, Phineas and Ferb, based on the hit Disney XD TV series, will be bi-monthly and cost $4.99 on newsstands and $23.95 for an annual subscription. Three more based on upcoming films — Thor in April, followed by Cars 2 and Captain America — will be stand-alone issues that will sell for $9.99. Another title, Cars, will be a monthly beginning in the fall.
DPW is attempting to grow a model that already is a success overseas, where the company publishes kid-targeted books and magazines that reach 75 countries in 85 languages.
I wrote about actor Neal McDonough’s trouble with ABC back in March and received one of the biggest responses ever to a story because he was standing up for his religious beliefs. You may recall the post (No Sex Please, I’m Neal McDonough): how he was suddenly replaced 3 days into the filming on the ABC series Scoundrels in a move officially explained as a casting change. But, in fact, McDonough was sacked because of his refusal to do some heated love scenes because he’s a family man and a Catholic, and he’s always made it clear that he won’t do sex scenes. And ABC knew that. Well, a lot of people who applauded Neal wanted to know what he’ll be doing next. Of course, he’s co-starring in Marvel’s Captain America movie currently shooting in London. But now I hear McDonough has co-created and will executive produce and star in VIGILANTE PRIEST, a one hour drama for Starz which is fast-tracking the project.
I hear the series was his own idea, and he will co-create it with Law & Order vet Walon Green who will also exec produce and write. John Avnet also will be executive producing and directing the pilot. McDonough will take on the title role: an ex-cop turned priest who is cleaning up the streets of Los Angeles “one sinner at a time”. I continue to applaud the Band Of Brothers and …
MARVEL-OUS STAR WATTAGE: Actors Assemble For Comic-Con Panel Including ‘The Avengers’, ‘Captain America’, & ‘Thor’
Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con for Deadline:
2ND UPDATE: Marvel tonight put together the most high-profile panel of any Hollywood studio at this year’s Comic-Con. From left to right, ”Iron Man” Robert Downey Jr., “Agent Phil Coulson” Clark Gregg, “Black Widow” Scarlett Johansson, “Thor” Chris Hemsworth, “Captain America” Chris Evans, “Nick Fury” Samuel L. Jackson, and the newest members “Hawkeye” Jeremy Renner and “Hulk” Mark Ruffalo (TOLDJA! Marvel & Ruffalo Ink Hulk Deal), as well as The Avengers director Joss Whedon, and Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige who’s also the producer. It was indeed a big deal that the studio assembled “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” including Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nick Fury, and Agent Coulson together on screen and on stage for the first time. That prompted an insane reaction by assembled audience: massive standing ovation at end, and same when Jackson came out, and same for Whedon announcement. Also there was a good reaction for Thor stuff. Captain America didn’t give fans a lot, but still generated a decent crowd pop.
Here’s what happened at the very end of today’s panel: Auditorium goes dark. Samuel Jackson’s voice starts talking about earth’s mightiest heroes. A giant “A” onscreen becomes “AVENGERS.” Out comes Jackson, and introduces the team. Clark Gregg! Scarlett Johansson! Chris Hemsworth! Chris Evans! …
Back in April, I reported exclusively that Marvel Studios was in final negotiations for Joss Whedon to direct The Avengers. Today, Whedon confirmed the news, and Marvel sources say the deal is done. That’s the fast-tracked film that would amount to an all-star team of Marvel superheros, including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), as well as SHIELD leader Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Whedon has been rumored for this job for awhile, and was high on the fanboy wish-list. Marvel has considered all of the individual superhero movies to be an intro to The Avengers, so the wanna-see on this one in May 2012 will be huge.