Hong Kong Disneyland’s ticket counter hasn’t exactly been the happiest place on Earth since the park opened in 2005. But Disney is reaching into its $4B bag of Marvel tricks in an effort to juice attendance: An Iron Man-themed thrill ride, shopping area and photo pavilion will open at HK Dis –which turned it meager first profit this year — in late 2016, The New York Times reports. Inspired by the $121M success of Iron Man 3 in China this year, it will be Disney’s first ride based on a Marvel property since it acquired the company in 2009. “It’s important for us to have a story for our Hong Kong guests, a little bit of bragging rights that they have something that nobody else has,” said Bill Ernest, the president of Disney’s theme parks in Asia, told the Times. The attraction will arrive more than a year after the planned opening of Disney’s multibillion-dollar park in Shanghai, its first on the Chinese mainland, and the company is counting on both parks thriving to achieve its corporate goals in the country.
Turns out the Walt Disney Company really does own the rights to the Marvel characters created by Stan Lee, at least according to a federal judge today. U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez Thursday granted with prejudice Disney’s motion to dismiss Stan Lee Media’s multibillion-dollar lawsuit superhero copyright suit. In his 11-page order (read it here) Martinez did little to hide his annoyance with the litigious SLMI. “Plaintiff has tried time and again to claim ownership of those copyrights; the litigation history arising out of the 1998 Agreement stretches over more than a decade and at least six courts,” he wrote of the company’s many legal moves.
This latest attempt started in mid-October 2012 when SLMI filed a copyright infringement complaint seeking the profits from the $5.5 billion it said that Disney made from Marvel superhero movies and merchandise based on characters created by Lee. In its suit, SLMI claimed that Lee, who no longer has anything to do with the company with his name, signed over the rights to comic book characters like Iron Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Spider-Man and many more that he created or would create to its corporate predecessor in October 1998 for shares in the company. In November 1998, Lee signed an agreement with Marvel handing over the rights to the same characters. …
The same day Robert Downey Jr likely broke the bank reupping to play the superhero in two more Avengers flicks, a dude wearing an Iron Man mask robbed a bank in Florida. Flagler County Sheriffs say the 5-foot-4 bandit showed a gun in a Palm Coast Wells Fargo branch and demanded cash Thursday afternoon. Our anti-hero — sporting a tan jumpsuit, boots and a backpack — got away in a maroon car. Which begs the question: Will there be a sequel? Actually, there was something of a prequel: A guy wearing a different Iron Man getup knocked over a San Clemente bank last month. While you weigh conspiracy theories, take a look at the trailer for the Florida job released by local authorities:
EXCLUSIVE: CAA has signed screenwriters Art Marcum & Matt Holloway, the scribes behind Iron Man and the upcoming remake of Highlander that has Juan Carlos Fresnadillo directing at Summit Entertainment. The writers had been repped for years by ICM, and that agency certainly helped get them on the A-list. Among their other work, the scribes also adapted the Robert Ludlum novel The Sigma Protocol for Universal.
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.
It may be indelicate to make this argument just as thousands of fantasy fans are converging on San Diego for the annual Comic-Con. But the movie business may soon find itself mourning “the death of superheroes,” Susquehanna Financial Group’s Vasily Karasyov says in an intriguing report this morning. The analyst says that the boom in superhero movies began around 2000 as computer generated imagery (CGI) made it easier for filmmakers to credibly show action that defies the laws of physics. Virtually all of the most popular films of the last decade couldn’t have been made without CGI. Within that group Karasyov counts 16 superhero films, not counting sequels, resulting in four franchises: Fox’s X-Men, Sony’s Spider-Man, Warner Bros’ Batman, and Paramount’s Iron Man. Yet nothing has taken off since Iron Man came out in 2008, he says, largely because studios have already tapped their hottest properties. “As film studios dig deeper into catalogues for characters for new films, we think the chances of finding a break out property are diminishing fast” — even though the films still come with high production costs — Karasyov writes. If superhero films fail to catch on, then studios can forget about raking in lots of additional revenue from licensed merchandise. The bottom line: Investors should expect “growing risks to (financial growth) estimates” for companies including Disney and Time Warner that are looking to superheroes to help rescue their studio profits. And Disney CEO Bob Iger may end …
Los Angeles, CA, July 26, 2010 – G4 will be the exclusive U.S. television home of four brand-new anime series featuring some of the most successful and iconic brands from the Marvel Universe. Produced by Madhouse for Marvel Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan (SPEJ), these four original series – “Iron Man,” “X-MEN,” “Wolverine” and “Blade” - will premiere on the network in 2011 and will air as standalone series made up of twelve 30-minute episodes under the guidance of Warren Ellis.
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.
Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con For Deadline:
WEDNESDAY PM: If there’s a recession going on, you wouldn’t know it from the looks of Comic-Con. While last year’s exhibit hall featured recycled set-pieces and props we’d seen a time or two too many, this year sees the big show-offs back to spending money again. Massive ads adorn the sides of skyscrapers. Fox, which isn’t promoting much more than an ALIEN Blu-Ray set, has nonetheless created a full-scale replica of the cryo-sleep pods from the first movie. Stan Winston studios has both a full-sized AVATAR armor suit and multiple IRON MAN costumes. Hasbro has the hammer of Thor and the shield of Captain America, promoting those upcoming movies we’ll be getting a look at shortly. Warner Bros has the body of Abin Sur, the alien who gives Green Lantern his power ring in the upcoming film. Not to be outdone by anyone, Marvel has the full-scale golden throne of Odin, Thor’s father. Way to rub it in that most of us are broke, Marvel.
Prices are in that same spirit of entrepreneurial optimism – I didn’t find anything at a must-have price as yet, though the exclusive toys from Hasbro and Mattel still generate large lines. The smaller retailers offer prices that generally would not be considered competitive, per se…let’s see if those hold through Sunday, shall we?
But not ALL toys are overpriced. Remember back in the ’90s when everyone hoarded …
THURSDAY, JULY 22
The Real Start Day Of The Con
Luke Y Thompson covers Hollywood events at the Con for Deadline:
10:00-11:00 AM: DreamWorks Animation: Megamind. I can’t say the posters for this new 3-D animated movie starring Will Ferrell were particularly appealing. A hybrid Smurf-Martian thing with a goatee, and, one imagines, Ferrell doing the same voice he always does? Not super-exciting. But the recently released trailer made things look up a bit – Ferrell’s character is the last son of a dying planet like Krypton, who learns in short order that a far more Superman-like character (Brad Pitt) has a similar story, and made it to Earth first. Ferrell, Tina Fey, and Jonah Hill will be in attendance, and there are rumors Pitt may even make a surprise appearance, but don’t hold us to that. Hall H
10:30-11:30 AM: Danny Elfman. Everybody loves Danny Elfman. Right? Even if you think that faux-lullabye-over-brooding thing he does has gotten stale, I guarantee that you love at least one soundtrack he’s done, whether it be the TALES FROM THE CRYPT intro, 1989 BATMAN theme, those infernal NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS songs, or my personal fave, the PE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE music. It’s been 25 years since that movie teamed him with Tim Burton for the first time, so instead of sending him an anniversary card, you can just show up here and listen to him speak. Room 6BCF
10:30-11:30 AM: TheOneRing.net Talks The Hobbit movies. Considering there isn’t …
‘Twilight’ Saga Facebook Page Now Has More Fans Than ‘Iron Man’, ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Transformers’, ‘Toy Story’ Combined
THE TWILIGHT SAGA Facebook page now has 6.665 million fans. (Above, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart sign autographs at last night’s Eclipse premiere.) It’s the largest of all the film pages, with more fans than Iron Man, Harry Potter, Transformers, and Toy Story Facebook pages combined.
WHAT A DISASTER! ‘Speed Racer’ $20M Weekend Half What Warner Bros Hoped; Rival Studios Accuse WB Of Inflating #s
SUNDAY AM: Showing just how fiercely competitive the summer box office is right now, rival Hollywood movie studios are complaining to me they don’t believe Warner Bros’ domestic gross numbers released today. Those claim its disastrous Speed Racer came in 2nd behind Marvel’s Iron Man in the weekend’s Top 10 contest. All the other majors — Fox, Sony, Paramount, Universal, Disney, and MGM – have the anime actioner opening only 3rd. And rivals dispute WB’s reporting that Speed Racer made $20.2 million for Fri-Sat-Sun because its projected Sunday number isn’t seen as possible. “That’s a very aggressive Sunday estimate to try and claim 2nd,” one studio’s top marketing and distribution mogul complained to me this morning, echoing the disbelief of most of his colleagues. “Warners is hoping moms want to go to Speed Racer for Mothers Day.” (To give Warner Bros the benefit of the doubt, it’s true that family pics do well on Mothers Day.) But all the other studios have Fox’s romantic comedy What Happens In Vegas in 2nd place with $20 million, and Speed Racer only 3rd with $19.7 million. And the rival execs say that, since Speed Racer‘s gross was even softer than anyone thought, up only 18% on Saturday because of kiddie matinees compared to Friday, the Warner Bros film couldn’t possibly get to $20 million for the weekend barring a box office miracle on Sunday. “Their estimate is utterly laughable!,” a top exec at a rival major told me this AM. “That being said, …
SATURDAY NOON UPDATE: I’m just receiving reports that Speed Racer also isn’t doing well overseas where it opened day and date Friday in 30+ territories. Says a marketing and distribution source for another studio: “It is a disaster in the worst way. It was No. 6 in the UK and No. 9 in Germany and the numbers are horrific. Only Latin America showed signs of life – but it was barely a pulse.” I haven’t seen any official international figures from Warner Bros yet. But the film was supposed to do better overseas where anime is a bigger draw than in the U.S.
As expected, Marvel’s Iron Man is the blockbuster No. 1 for the second week in a row. According to distributor Paramount, it took in a str0ng $15 million Friday from 4,111 theaters (-62% from its opening) for what should be a $50 million …
Usually the success or failure of one film doesn’t affect the Big Media parent company of a major movie studio’s value on Wall Street. But Marvel Entertainment is small enough to feel the impact. So today its stock price soared over 9.42% as its Marvel Studios’ first self-financed production, Iron Man, became 2008′s first record-breaking rocketman and the second biggest 3-day release for a non-sequel in the history of Hollywood. Capitalizing on that great news, Marvel Studios today unveiled its 2010-2011 complete slate of developed, produced and financed feature films. Expectedly, it contains immediate plans for Iron Man 2 in 2010. And in 2011, Marvel will present an “Avengers Themed Summer”, introducing a Captain America film and then uniting heroes Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and Thor in a single film. Meanwhile, Marvel has a library with over 5,000 high-profile characters, so stay tuned for more announcements. Most immediately, Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk is scheduled for a June 13th release by distributor Universal, but, unlike Iron Man, this next film has been troubled creatively. (See my previous, Ed Norton And Marvel In ‘Hulk’-ing Feud and Edward Norton vs Marvel, ‘Hulk’ Round 2.)
Here’s the list of 2010-1011 releases:
IRON MAN 2 (scheduled for April 30, 2010 release)
THOR (scheduled for June 4, 2010 release)
THE FIRST AVENGER: CAPTAIN AMERICA (scheduled for May 6, 2011 release)
THE AVENGERS (scheduled …
‘IRON MAN’ IS A ROCKETMAN: SOARS TO $201 MILLION WEEKEND WORLDWIDE; …”It Beat Will Smith And Jesus!”
SUNDAY AM: Here are the official blockbuster numbers — Paramount Pictures release of Marvel Studios’ Iron Man, in 4,105 theaters, made an estimated $35,125,000 on Friday 5/2, an estimated $37,500,000 on Saturday 5/3, for an estimated 3-day weekend box office of $100,750,000. Advance screenings in select locations, about 2,500 venues, from 8:00 PM to midnight on Thursday 5/1 contributed an additional $3,500,000. With this addition, the total estimated box office is $104,250,000. The estimated international box office for the weekend is $96,750,000 from 57 territories. The total combined estimated global box office for Marvel Studios’ Iron Man is $201,000,000.
“It beat Will Smith and Jesus!” gushed a Paramount insider referring to the openings of I Am Legend and The Passion Of The Christ. “It’s just mind-blowing. Internally, some people were going into high 80sM and low 90sM but people were laughing at them. We had our own box office poll and maybe one person thought $100M.” The monster numbers now make Iron Man the second biggest 3-day release for a non-sequel in the history of Hollywood, behind only Sony’s first Spider-Man. It’s also the No. 10 movie opening weekend and the No. 4 superhero movie weekend of all time. The $140 million production self-financed by Marvel was also distibutor Paramount’s biggest live action opening of all time. I understand that, at first, Paramount thought Thursday’s advance screenings generated $5 million, but then discovered that $1.7 million ended up being for …
THURS-FRI’s $38.5 MIL ‘IRON MAN’; …$95 Mil 3 1/2-Day Weekend Gross; …$30 Mil From 47+ Foreign Territories
SATURDAY PM: ‘IRON MAN’ ROCKETS FOR $100 MIL WEEKEND
SATURDAY AM: This is why Hollywood keeps making movies from comic books. Now it’s official: Marvel’s Iron Man opened with $38.5 million at Thursday’s and Friday’s box office for what will be $95 million in total domestic gross for the full 3 1/2 day release (including Thursday night’s $5 million haul from advance screenings in 2,500 theaters, plus Friday-Saturday-and-Sunday’s monster take in 4,105 venues).
The PG-13 blockbuster distributed by Paramount logged in No. 1 as the best 2008 film opening, but also should finish among the Top 2 or Top 3 summer movies of the year as it kicks off the all-important May through August popcorn season. The $140 mil production self-financed by Marvel also broke the record for the second biggest non-sequel opening of all time behind only Spider-Man 1. “Especially when we’ve had a horrid March and April, this shows people are ready to go to the movies,” an insider says. I understand the Cinemascore was an A, and an A-plus with younger groups: 18 to 24, and under 25. The movie like most comic book pics understandably skewed more male: I just saw the Cinemascore figures, and that …