EXCLUSIVE: The “one shot” short films featured as extras on Marvel movies’ DVD releases are becoming a hotbed for TV series ideas. After one such short, Item 47 on The Avengers DVD about the agents of …
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Squash Those Petitions! Why Ben Affleck As Batman Is Good Move For Warner Bros
By Mike Fleming Jr - OPINION: I was as surprised as anyone when Ben Affleck was named the new Batman by Warner Bros.
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.
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 …
UPDATE: I got it backward. John C. Reilly will play Rhomann Dey, leader of the Nova Corps, in Marvel Studios‘ Guardians Of The Galaxy, the James Gunn-directed franchise launch that stars Benicio Del Toro, Glenn Close, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Lee Pace, and Michael Rooker. He’s not playing Ronan the Accuser, the Kree Empire’s badass juror and military governor in space. According to Comicvine.com, here’s the deal on Rhomann Dey:
They thought they’d won it but now Marvel will have to defend itself again over who owns Ghost Rider. A federal appeals court today overturned a 2011 ruling in Marvel’s favor which means former freelancer Gary Friedrich can take his copyright case to trial. “We conclude that the district court erred in granting summary judgment because the Agreement is ambiguous and there are genuine disputes of material fact regarding the parties’ intent to assign renewal rights in that Agreement, the timeliness of Friedrich’s ownership claim, and the authorship of the work,” wrote Judge Danny Chin in a ruling (read it here) from the Second Court of Appeals today. Friedrich, who came up with the original idea for the Ghost Rider character back in 1972, first filed his suit against Marvel, Columbia Tri-Star, Relativity Media and more back in 2007 claiming that he owned the renewal term copyrights on the character and his origin story. The initial suit was filed the same year the first Ghost Rider movie starring Nicolas Cage came out. Not that everything is clear in Friedrich’s favor from today’s ruling. “We agree with the district court that there are genuine disputes of material fact that preclude granting summary judgment on the issue of authorship,” said the ruling as it also rejected the plaintiff’s motion today.
UPDATE, FRIDAY AM: Disney confirmed today that last night Iron Man 3 crossed $1B at the worldwide box office and $300M at the domestic box office. The global milestone came on the 23rd day of release around the world, making it the second Marvel Studios film (after The Avengers, which crossed the mark in 19 days) and sixth Disney pic (Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Alice In Wonderland, Toy Story 3, and Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Avengers) to cross that threshold. The domestic mark comes on the 14th day of release and is the ninth studio pic to reach that peak. To date, the pic has grossed $1.008B globally — $698.9M international and $301.9M domestic. It is the 16th highest-grossing film of all-time globally and 11th all-time internationally.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, WEDNESDAY PM: More records breaking for Summer 2013 as may continues to sizzle at the global box office. The Disney/Marvel threequel has only been in theaters for 23 days around the world but already Iron Man 3 is set to cross the $1B mark on Thursday. Its latest cumes are $294.7M domestic and $685.6M international through May 14. That makes it the 16th biggest film ever amid predictions it will finish as the 5th highest grossing film of all time when all theatrical grosses are in.
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.’”