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.
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.
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.
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 …