UPDATE: Amid the morning news that Adam McKay has backed away from talks of directing Marvel‘s Ant-Man, the Anchorman director took to Twitter to say the following:
PREVIOUS, 8:04 AM ANALYSIS: Marvel and the reps of Adam McKay will spend the weekend trying to make a deal for the Talladega Nights helmer to replace Edgar Wright as the director of Ant-Man. McKay, the former Saturday Night Live writer who grew up on that show with Will Ferrell and moved with him to feature films, has become an accomplished director of comedies (Step Brothers is my favorite), but this seems to be a risky move (reports have him already deciding this is not for him). I was already skeptical of how serious to take the Ant-Man thing when Paul Rudd was cast as the title character, not because Rudd isn’t a good enough actor, but because he’s so identified as a comic actor. Setting McKay as director pushes the perception of this movie more towards, say, The Green Hornet than something like Captain America: Winter Soldier. I would have been less surprised had McKay been set to direct Ghostbusters, after Ivan Reitman bowed out, than a superhero film. One of the best things about these Marvel superhero movies under Kevin Feige is that they don’t take themselves too seriously in between giant action sequences. The blend of the occasional great comic line was particularly sharp in the Joss Whedon-directed Avengers film.
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A couple of things to consider in the divorce between Edgar Wright and Marvel over Ant-Man. In my mind, Wright’s surprise exit Friday over creative differences shows that while Marvel certainly will try to tap strong directors for its superhero properties, the power at that studio clearly resides with one person, Kevin Feige. You might recall this is the second high-profile shooter who was ousted from a big Marvel movie. Patty Jenkins, who guided Charlize Theron to an Oscar performance in Monster, had been set to helm Thor 2 until she clashed creatively with Marvel. If you recall, the hiring of Jenkins was considered a big step forward because so few female directors get a shot at a superhero film. Feige replaced her with Alan Taylor, the Game Of Thrones helmer who did a fine job and has taken on the job of resuscitating the Terminator franchise for Paramount and Skydance Productions.
Related: Director Patty Jenkins Exits Marvel’s ‘Thor 2′
The exit of Wright is more surprising, considering he came to Comic-Con several years ago and showed a sample of the shrinking technology that would anchor the film. Then, Wright got Feige’s blessing to postpone the movie while he did The World’s End because Working Title partner Eric Fellner had a life-threatening health matter and Wright felt honor bound to see through the final leg of the Cornetto trilogy. The fact that Wright is so revered among the demo that Ant-Man will have to appeal to shows the confidence that Marvel has in Feige’s vision — and, indeed, the movies under his watch have been so good it’s hard to argue. It seems similar to the hold that producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson wield over the James Bond franchise. How many huge directors have expressed desire to helm a 007 film but were rebuffed or stepped away because the ultimate creative call resides not with any filmmaker but the producers who are the flame keepers of the franchise?
Related: Comic-Con Q&A With Edgar Wright
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The Chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment addressed 2014 graduates of USC‘s School of Cinematic Arts today at the Shrine Auditorium near the LA campus. Prior to Jim Gianopulos‘s speech, Marvel President and USC alumnus Kevin Feige received the school’s Mary Pickford Alumni Award, remembering his own time as a Trojan and sharing advice for the program’s aspiring filmmakers. Gianopulos joined the SCA Board of Councilors last year. Here’s a full transcript of Gianopulos’ speech, followed by highlights of Feige’s:
Congratulations Kevin on receiving the Mary Pickford foundation Award. It’s very well deserved for the great Marvel films you’ve produced, and I wish you continued success, as long as your movies aren’t opening on the same weekend as ours!
Dean Daley, distinguished faculty, guests and—most important—all of you graduates in the class of 2014—it is an honor and a thrill for me to be here today.
I’d like to make one thing clear right away—I am not here to give you life-changing advice. As someone who’s worked in Hollywood for many years, the only thing I can tell you with certainty is… stay off the 405.
I have no easy answers, no mandated rules for living, no reminders to floss. The great journey you’re about to embark upon will be about exploring questions and finding your own answers to them, and trust me, it’s way better than thinking you have all the answers already.
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UPDATED: Avi Arad, the former chairman/CEO of Marvel Studios (which he founded) has responded harshly to last month’s BusinessWeek‘s cover story profiling Marvel president Kevin Feige. In an email, first obtained by Latino-Review, Arad takes issue with the report about Feige titled “The Man Who Saved Marvel” which states that Arad resigned from Marvel in 2006 over a disagreement about a $525M self-financing deal with Merrill Lynch. Arad, one of the producers on Sony/Marvel’s big weekend opener The Amazing Spider-Man 2, is now running his own production company, Arad Prods. He still produces Marvel titles.
Arad told Deadline: “We had a list of titles, but the slate didn’t have Iron Man or Hulk, and I had a very tough time getting Iron Man back from New Line, but we got it back. I always loved Iron Man. I left because I wanted to leave. It was nothing other than it was time to go. The company was growing and I didn’t like committees and I was 60 and was doing well as it was. I took a walk and thought, ‘I’m too old for this.’ And I thought if I keep nothing but Spider-Man, I will continue with Marvel, but I can do other things. I wanted to do other things … and I am now. The company is in good hands with Kevin who doing a great job.” His anger over the insinuations in the article written by staff writer Devin Leonard are very clear.
BusinessWeek spokeswoman Rachel Nagler told Deadline: “Devin Leonard did receive this email from Avi Arad, and an email exchange followed between them. We stand by the reporting in our story.” Here, in his own words, is Arad’s email (paragraphs have been added to make it easier to read):
Good morning Devin. As usual you manage to disappoint me with your false statements. I am sure you were told by Marvel that I resigned over the self-financing strategy. It is about time for a reporter like you to do your homework and check the facts. It will sound arrogant to you, but I single handedly put together the Marvel slate. Read it carefully and you will notice the natural progression of the character’s design to get to where we are today.
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Vin Diesel just might be Groot. The Fast and The Furious franchise actor is in negotiations to join Marvel’s newest ensemble tent pole, I’ve learned. If it all works out, Vin Diesel would play the tree-like alien in the James Gunn-directed Guardians of the Galaxy, sources say. Earlier today, Diesel posted a captionless pic of Groot up on his Facebook page. For a while the drawing from the GOTG comic (see left) stood as his cover page before being taken down though the photo is still in his timeline. Studio boss Kevin Feige made no mention on August 10 of Diesel joining GOTG during Marvel’s presentation at Day 2 of D23. Marvel showed the same footage from the recently started lensing GOTG, which stars Chris Pratt, Benicio del Toro, Zoe Saldana and Glenn Close, as he did at Comic-Con in July. The Groot character can absorb wood to gain strength and recover from injuries as well as control trees. While hyper-intelligent, the alien seems to only ever say the line “I am Groot” over and over to those who cannot hear his real voice.
Related: Comic-Con: Vin Diesel On Marvel Rumors: “Some Very Big News Coming”
Today’s Facebook post by Diesel isn’t the first time the actor has hinted via social media that he’s joining the Marvel … Read More »
The blogosphere is going wild as Marvel chief Kevin Feige does interviews for Iron Man 3 and acknowledges that Daredevil has returned to the Marvel fold at Disney. We told you this was going to happen last August, when a last ditch attempt to shape a movie with Joe Carnahan cratered. Ben Affleck starred in the original film, and he’s doing way more interesting things now as a writer/director/actor/producer. Without him, it was pretty clear that Fox wasn’t confident about bankrolling a superhero-sized movie based on the character and that the brass at the studio wasn’t at all upset about coming out on the losing end of the witching hour of when Marvel and Disney got back those rights. The intrigue will be to see if Marvel vamps the blind lawyer character, and whether he begins showing up in other superhero movies and maybe a sequel to The Avengers. They certainly have made The Hulk viable after he was pretty much thought to be dead as disco. Here’s what we said last August:
Director Joe Carnahan seems to be ready to toss in the towel on the last ditch attempt to reboot the Marvel superhero Daredevil before Fox’s rights to the franchise expire this fall. Carnahan sent out a tweet today saying, “I think my idea for a certain retro, red-suited, Serpico-styled superhero went up in smoke today kids.”
From what I’m hearing, that means that Fox, which made the original … Read More »
ICG publicists will honor Kevin Feige as Motion Picture Showman of the Year at the 50th Annual Awards Luncheon on February 22. As producer and president of Marvel Studios, Feige oversees all creative aspects of the company’s feature film and home entertainment ventures. He most recently produced The Avengers and is currently producing Iron Man 3, slated for a May 3, 2013 release. His other upcoming projects are Thor: The Dark World; Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians Of The Galaxy, The Avengers sequel and Ant-Man. Feige joined Marvel in 2000.
Deadline broke the news when Patty Jenkins was the surprise choice to direct Chris Hemsworth in Thor 2, and Marvel has just confirmed that her deal closed. Jenkins, who directed Charlize Theron in her Oscar-winning Monster performance, also directed the pilot of the AMC series The Killing. Still, she was a surprise because superhero directing assignments most often go to men. Here is the official word:
Marvel Studios announced today that Patty Jenkins will direct THOR 2, which will be released in theatres on Friday, November 15, 2013. Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman will return to star in the film along with Tom Hiddleston. Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige will produce the sequel to this summer’s blockbuster THOR, which has grossed over $448 million worldwide to date.
Patty Jenkins previously directed MONSTER starring Charlize Theron, who won an Academy Award® for her performance in the film. Jenkins, who received an Emmy nomination for directing the pilot of AMC’s acclaimed series The Killing, has also directed episodes of Entourage and Arrested Development. Most recently, she directed “Pearl,” one of the five short films that comprise Lifetime’s original movie FIVE.
In addition to THOR 2, Marvel Studios is currently scheduled to release MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS on May 4, 2012, and IRON MAN 3 which is slated for release on May 3, 2013.
Jenkins is represented by CAA, Anonymous Content, and Alan Wertheimer.
EXCLUSIVE: Everybody is trying to keep this secret. But I’ve learned that yesterday Disney canned Dana Precious, EVP of Worldwide Marketing for Marvel’s LA Studios (she had replaced Doug Finberg at the end of last summer); Jeffrey Stewart, VP of Worldwide Marketing (he’d been brought in by Dana); and Jodi Miller, Manager of Worldwide Marketing. That’s essentially Marvel’s entire marketing department. Marvel redundant jobs were on the line ever since Disney bought the publisher/studio in 2009. And the marketing department even more so this summer after Paramount released Thor and Captain America domestically and internationally, thus effectively ending that studio’s marketing and distribution of Marvel pictures. I’m told that on June 24th, Rob Steffens, who is Marvel Studios’ EVP Operations, met with all of the department at the Manhattan Beach offices in what was described as a “Disney Rules of the Road” meeting. He told staff that there would be no house-cleaning by the mouse, period, so they were not to fear for their jobs and flee en masse. So much for that promise.
The official line on why Marvel’s marketing team was let go is that Disney will be taking over that function and handling the releases of The Avengers and future Marvel movies themselves. In fact I’ve learned that Marvel will bring in someone in a “project management role”. But Kevin Feige’s continued supervision of all things Marvel should resolve any doubts by fanboys that Disney will screw around or screw up the comic book films. Insiders tell me that Precious and her team were not well-loved by Marvel bigwig Feige and other top execs at Marvel or by Disney and Paramount. (Some of the comments I heard today included: “Not up to or have the skill set to release this brand properly”… “Their job was to keep track of the people doing the real work”… “Paper pushers”… ”Would it have killed them to return an email?”… “Disney doesn’t need someone to cut its trailers”…)
Now Marvel staffers wonder whether the firings were really to avoid duplicating efforts with Disney or just petty vindictiveness. Read More »
Insiders close to Marvel and Robert Downey Jr, who has director approval on Iron Man 3, confirm that Jon Favreau won’t direct this next installment of the franchise. Granted there’s no script yet. And few helmers do what Sam Raimi (Spider-Man) and Gore Verbinski (Pirates Of The Caribbean) did: stick around for a trilogy. Favreau just wrapped Cowboys & Aliens and is about to embark on Disney’s Magic Kingdom and “is excited about the opportunity to go do his own thing” while Kevin Feige as the ultimate custodian of Marvel’s Iron Man franchise “sees it as an opportunity to bring some more fire to the franchise”. Favreau is still on board to exec produce The Avengers which Joss Whedon is directing. Favreau just negotiated a Disney development deal but the director had been expected to re-team with RDJr for the third Iron Man, one of the Marvel films bought out from Paramount so Disney could distribute. Vulture got there first.
EXCLUSIVE: Marvel Studios is moving forward on a live action feature version of Iron Fist, hiring screenwriter Rich Wilkes to draft a movie based on a martial arts expert whose battle with a dragon–ended when he plunged his hands through the beast’s molten heart–turned his fists into indestructible weapons.
Iron Fist was on the minds of many fanboys when Disney paid $4 billion for Marvel’s 5000 superhero library and vowed to turn the less obvious comic book heroes into films and TV properties. Marvel tried to make an Iron Fist movie with Artisan nearly a decade ago, as a vehicle for X-Men villain and martial arts expert Ray Park. The Iron Fist comic book mythology was created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane in the 1970s, when the popularity of martial arts films was on the rise.
Iron Fist was among a bunch of Marvel superhero properties scattered around Hollywood. While tent poles like X-Men, Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, Fantastic Four and a handful of others remain at other studios, Marvel has recaptured rights to many wayward properties and Kevin Feige is hitting the reset button on a bunch of them. Marvel recently began work on Dr. Strange, hiring Conan scribes Thomas Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer to generate a film from a superhero property that four studios tried to crack over the years. Both Iron Fist and Dr. Strange will be distributed by Disney. Marvel Studios has four more films under the preexisting … Read More »
Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con for Deadline:
SUNDAY AM UPDATE: I think the biggest news of the Marvel Studios panel tonight is that The Punisher is now owned by Marvel Studios again, and will probably figure into a future film. I’ve learned The Punisher rights reverted to Marvel in 2009 following the release of Punisher 2. The studio has no immediate plans to develop a movie based on the franchise. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige last night did not say when the Punisher rights reverted, or how: just that they have.
So who is The Punisher? In the comics, Frank Castle is a Vietnam veteran whose family is killed in a Mafia crossfire. Donning a black spandex costume with a skull logo, he declares war on crime and becomes a vigilante. Introduced as a Spider-Man foe in the 1970s, his popularity took off in the late 1980s, when grim and “realistic” superheroes became the norm. The Punisher is different from many superheroes in that he uses guns and has no secret identity. (He is known to be Frank Castle.) On film, he has been portrayed three times.
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EXCLUSIVE: Back on July 14th, I scooped that Mark Ruffalo Is In Late-Stage Talks To Be Marvel’s New Hulk in ‘The Avengers’. Now I’ve just learned the ink is drying on the deal reached by Brillstein Entertainment Partners with Marvel. (There’s no official confirmation yet from Marvel whose reps aren’t available for their usual “No comment”.) So it looks like Marvel movie mastermind Kevin Feige may pull this off and bring Ruffalo along with other of The Avengers superheroes and director Joss Whedon to tomorrow night’s panel at Comic-Con. Read More »
SATURDAY, JULY 24
THE DAY YOUR FEET GET REALLY SORE
Luke Y Thompson covers Hollywood events at the Con for Deadline:
10:00-11:00 AM: Mad about MAD! I used to love Mad Magazine, but in the years since it started accepting advertising, it has gone way downhill. Apparently there’ll be some sort of new TV venture announced, though not necessarily a spiritual successor to the late MADtv. Magazine vets Sergio Aragones, John Ficarra, and Sam Viviano will be onhand. Room 7AB
10:00-11:00 AM: Twilight Fanfiction Author Fangroup. Why is it that I have a sneaking suspicion most TWILIGHT fan fiction is actually better written than the prose of Stephenie Meyer? Santa Rosa Room, Marriott Hotel and Marina
11:00-11:45 AM: Family Guy. Clips from the upcoming third STAR WARS parody? You know it. Beyond that, we all know this is a love it or hate it show. I used to hate it, but I’m warming up. Ballroom 20
11:45 AM-12:30 PM: The Cleveland Show. Ditto to everything I said above about FAMILY GUY, except for the STAR WARS part. Ballroom 20
11:45 AM-1:15 PM: Warner Bros.: Green Lantern, Sucker Punch, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Aside from the Marvel movie panel, this will be the big deal. Here’s why: GREEN LANTERN is an iconic DC character finally getting his own live-action movie. SUCKER PUNCH is the first original, non-adapted movie from visual stylist Zack Snyder (WATCHMEN/300), and no-one really knows what to expect yet. As for HARRY POTTER, well, people know almost exactly what to expect from that … Read More »