Will 2013 finally be the year that Joss Whedon’s legion of fans get to sing along with the long-awaited sequel to his 2008 Internet sensation Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog starring Neil Patrick Harris, Felicia Day and Nathan Fillion? The geek pop polymath who gave us Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and a surprisingly successful indie about a band of superheroes no one had ever heard of called The Avengers made no promises when Entertainment Weekly caught up with him late last year, but he did say that putting a crooning Doogie back in a lab coat is on his “to do” list. “We really want to shoot it next year. We feel strong about the idea and we have a bunch of stuff written,” said Whedon, who is currently directing the pilot episode of Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. series while also writing the script for the sequel to The Avengers, plus prepping the release plan for his film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, due in theaters this summer. In between: The occasional napping.
Tag: The Avengers (21-30 of 115)
The economy may be teetering on the edge of a fiscal cliff, but such dire financial woes were nowhere to be found at the box office in 2012. Over the past 365 days, Americans spent many of their hard-earned dollars at the movies — paying to see everything from Channing Tatum’s abs to a foul-mouthed talking teddy bear, and as a result, the box office had its best* year ever.
Movie theaters sold an estimated $10.84 billion worth of tickets domestically in 2012, beating the previous record of $10.59 billion set in 2009 (when Avatar led a late-December surge), and marking a new record in terms of revenue earned in a single calendar year. All told, the 2012 box office finished 6.6 percent ahead of 2011′s $10.17 billion take and 2.5 percent of 2010′s $10.57 billion cume. 3D and IMAX surcharges, which have now become a common part of the moviegoing experience, no doubt helped the box office reach such heights, though this year’s average ticket price (it stood at $7.94 through Q3, per the MPAA) just barely increased over 2011′s ($7.93).
So, it was those surcharges coupled with a boost in admissions that helped the industry achieve record-breaking grosses. An estimated 1.365 billion tickets were sold in North America this year. That’s 6.3 percent higher than 2011 (when 1.283 billion were sold) and 1.9 percent higher than 2010 (1.339 billion tickets sold), but 3.4 percent lower than 2009 (1.412 billion tickets sold) and a full 13.4 percent lower than 2002 (1.576 billion tickets sold), which was the most attended box office year of the past three decades. (BoxOfficeMojo has a handy chart that sums up much of this info.)
Of course, ticket admissions wouldn’t have increased unless there were new releases that moviegoers wanted to see — and this year had no shortage of blockbusters. The Avengers was the year’s biggest hit, grossing a thunderous $623.4 million — and over $1.5 billion worldwide — and The Dark Knight Rises finished in second place with $448.1 million. Those two films ruled the summer, but it was The Hunger Games that ruled the spring. Games exploded out of the gate in March with $408 million, thereby becoming the year’s third-biggest hit. Skyfall ($289.6 million) and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 ($286.1 million) rounded out 2012′s Top 5.
This year saw its fair share of flops, too. John Carter bombed with only $73.1 million against a $250 million budget, which forced Disney to publicly announce an expected $200 million loss. Battleship, another film starring Taylor Kitsch, sank as well, finding just $65.2 million against a $209 million budget. The $150 million production Dark Shadows drained a lackluster $79.7 million, and the $125 million Total Recall remake proved D.O.A. with a weak $58.9 million. Oh yeah, and The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure had the worst debut weekend of all time.
Still, for the 655(!) movies released in theaters this year, the impressive box office performances far outweighed the bad ones, and now the industry has its sights set on 2013, which — thanks to Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, The Hangover Part III, World War Z, Star Trek Into Darkness, Despicable Me 2, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire — could give 2012 a run for its money. Bring it on, Hollywood.
*As is always the case in box office writing, “best” is a relative term. For as long as the media has covered the box office, the film industry has (shrewdly) reported grosses instead of ticket sales — that way, Hollywood can keep claiming “record-breaking” years, even if ticket sales aren’t record-breaking. (I bet the music industry wishes it had set that precedent when it started reporting sales.) I understand the inherent flaws in this system, so I’ve done my best to include as many specifics about ticket sales and ticket price as possible.
For more box office musing, follow me on Twitter.
The title of the movie might be Man of Steel, but the star of the latest clip from Zack Snyder’s franchise reboot isn’t actually Superman. It’s Clark Kent, the alien boy who grows up to be a (hipster-bearded!) man, learning along the way some tough lessons about power, responsibility, and the cost-benefit bottom line of using his super strength to save all his schoolmates from a submerged bus. Which makes it official: Man of Steel isn’t just going to be another superhero movie. It’s going to be everyone’s — yours, mine, Hollywood’s — favorite kind of superhero movie: an origin story.
Why exactly do we love watching our favorite heroes begin again (and again)? Do we get some kind of parental joy from seeing their tall-building-spanning baby steps? Were scientists right about the Twitterfication of our attention spans? Maybe, but there’s also a deeper-seated reason: creation stories show the exact moment when a normal guy goes from being Just Like Us to being somehow better, faster, stronger. It’s the bridge between the relatable and aspirational parts of the hero myth. It’s also a handy way for filmmakers to pay their dues to a brand’s fan base (“See? I know my stuff!”) before sending its character off on a splashy villain-fighting quest that might diverge wildly from anything in the sacred comic book canon.
And so, having found that origin stories are a handy narrative tool for kicking off a franchise, Hollywood decided that every superhero movie should be an origin story, dropping our spandex icons into a Groundhog Day loop of childhood traumas, first kisses, and clumsy jumps off high roofs. The intro portion that used to take 10 minutes at the beginning of a movie is now filling entire movies — franchises, even. READ FULL STORY
It’s a common theme for superheroes to stand for more than just their own powers.
In the DC universe, Superman is famously synonymous with “truth, justice, and the American way,” while Batman is a darker symbol of vigilante justice, inspiring citizens to resist the things they fear the most.
In Marvel’s realm, Spider-Man stands for every puny kid who ever got pushed around, and learned how to use brains as well as brawn, the Hulk is the anger inside all of us, fighting to get out, if only we can channel it for good. Wolverine is the rebel without a cause, looking for something he cares enough about to fight for.
But what does Iron Man stand for? READ FULL STORY
To be, or not to be … Joss Whedon.
The Avengers writer-director’s film adaptation of the comedic Shakespeare classic Much Ado About Nothing has been slated for a June 7, 2013 joint theatrical release by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, according to a press release Thursday.
The contemporary take on the play stars Whedon alums Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof and Nathan Fillion, plus Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese, Sean Maher, Clark Gregg, and Reed Diamond. Whedon and his wife Kai Cole produced the film through their studio Bellwether films, with Daniel Kaminsky as a co-producer, according to the release.
The movie, about bickering lovers Beatrice (Acker) and Benedick (Denisof), was filmed in only 12 days. Any loyal fan of Acker and Denisof in Whedon’s Buffy spinoff Angel, or Fillion in Whedon’s sci-fi western show Firefly, will appreciate the stars’ performances in Much Ado.
READ FULL STORY
At an April 12 press conference, two days after the Hollywood premiere of The Avengers, Robert Downey Jr. let slip that the stars of the film were reuniting that very night to shoot one last bit of footage for the movie. Here, in an excerpt from a piece originally published the day the movie opened, we share the origin of the now infamous shawarma scene. For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012: Behind the Scenes coverage.
So, if you’ve seen the movie, you know that in the climactic New York battle against the alien invaders Iron Man does something selfless and noble and nearly loses his life for it. As he tumbles back to Earth, he is rescued mid-plummet by the Hulk, who breaks the fall by surfing down the side of some buildings and deposits Iron Man’s limp form on the pulverized street below.
EW, coincidentally, was on the New Mexico set of the movie during filming of this scene, in which Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Chris Evans’ Captain America rush over and Thor rips off Iron Man’s mask to reveal an unconscious Tony Stark.
In the original script (SPOILER ALERT — and, do I really need to keep saying that at this point?) the billionaire awakens with a start and asks, ”What’s next?”
But during filming, Downey is notorious for pushing for variations and felt that line could be something snappier. Whedon agreed, and penned several new versions of the scene in a notebook the day of shooting. ”Peek behind the curtain,” Whedon told EW, showing us the scribbles. ”It was one line — now it’s three pages.”
Those new lines were the seed that led to the last-minute scene, though no one knew that at the time — not even Whedon. Otherwise, he surely would have shot the post-credits sequence before his cast scattered and had to be reunited by the movie’s premiere.
What was in those pages? “Please tell me nobody tried to kiss me,” Stark says, looking up at a looming Thor and Cap. That line made the finished movie, but others didn’t. There were several other variations in which Stark congratulates his fellow Avengers on winning the battle, and then — realizing it’s not over yet — wearily begins making suggestions about how much time off they’re going to be owed.
The line that made the final cut was a slightly more random one: Stark learns that there is more fighting left to do, and says fine, as long as the others agree to hit a good shawarma restaurant he knows in the neighborhood. (I guess after spending all that time in the Middle East, Stark developed a taste for Arab slow-roasted meats.)
We’re not doing justice to the jokes here, but Stark’s other cracks seemed to be a little funnier than the shawarma one, which seemed a little obscure. Of course, that changes dramatically if you pay it off with a scene of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the re-humanized Hulk all grabbing an after-work bite at said restaurant.
And that, dear readers, is what Whedon and Marvel realized after the fact, too.
When The Avengers is over — and we mean over-over, when the last credit has rolled — we cut to the gang sitting silently around a table, munching on pitas like any colleagues who have just put in a lot of overtime. In the background, restaurant workers quietly clean-up debris in the apocalypse-adjacent eatery.
And they say… nothing. After saving the planet, they are spent. It’s basically an awkward kind of funny.
You can find bootleg clips of the scene online, but why do that? You’ve already seen the movie, right?
We join The Avengers reunion already in progress [for an exclusive roundtable that would become an EW cover story].
It’s the day after filming the new scene — weirdly, two days after the premiere — and Chris Hemsworth and Jeremy Renner are seated at a conference table in the Four Seasons Hotel, joking about the look of their respective LEGO figurines. Mark Ruffalo is playing “Hulk SMASH!” with a few of the Hasbro toys scattered across the table while Joss Whedon looks on. We’re waiting for the rest to arrive.
Robert Downey Jr. has just entered the room, and immediately begins mocking the prosthetic that Evans needed to hide his beard for the scene. (Evans also, you’ll notice, covers his face throughout that footage by resting his cheek against his hand.)
“Where is Chris Evans? Getting his face replaced?” Downey asks.
Evans hasn’t arrived yet, but that doesn’t hold back Downey. “Chris, why the long face? Chris, why the WRONG face?” Downey says as the other guys laugh.
Ruffalo shakes his head, his lips pursed. “Oh no …”
“I felt so bad for him!” Hemsworth says, wincing. He makes a swallowed sound, like someone trying to speak through glued-shut lips.
Downey twists his face into an Elephant Man snarl. “Hey guys, I am not an animal,” he mutters.
Pah! Out of nowhere, a rocket from an Iron Man toy fires just past Ruffalo’s head, nearly hitting the real Iron Man beside him.
“What the f–k did you just do?” Downey asks, still giddy.
Ruffalo is still turning over the toy, trying to figure that out. “I just shot myself,” he shrugs.
Whedon, who has been silent this whole time (making ixnay eyes because THERE’S AN EW REPORTER SITTING RIGHT THERE) finally gives up, and tells Downey: “Thank you for having every reporter ask me what we were shooting.”
“You’re welcome,” Downey says, unapologetic about revealing plans for the scene at a press conference the afternoon before.
Whedon was exaggerating, of course. Not every reporter had asked that question … yet.
“So what were you shooting today?” your friendly neighborhood EW reporter inquires.
Whedon squints his eyes, like Mr. Peabody when he’s fed up with Sherman.
Downey opens his arms. “Carnival barker!” he declares. “Last night, I just wanted to make sure the excitement was there.”
Whedon breaks into an impression of what he’s been dealing with all day: “’So I hear you’re shooting a scene?’” he says in the voice of a curious reporter. Leaning back and twiddling his thumbs, the filmmaker offers his fake-smiley response: “‘I’m sure I don’t know what you mean!’”
Then Whedon decides to tell them how it turned out. “We actually went through it as you guys left. It’s awesome. We found three bits, beginning, middle, and end, and the end one was just supreme.”
“So it’s [going to be] the last 30 seconds?” Ruffalo asks.
“They. Are. Tired,” Whedon tells him. “And then at the last second, he is just like [CHOMP],” the filmmaker says, gesturing toward Hemsworth and miming a big bite from a stuffed pita.
“I thought I might be sick, by the way,” Hemsworth says. “I ate one [pita] each take, you know! And by the end, I was like, Whooooaaa …”
“Hello, sir!” Evans says cheerfully as he enters the conference room — unaware that his prosthetic-covered lower face, and the difficulty he had speaking, are the hot topic.
“Not without my beard,” Downey says, mumbling like his jaw is wired shut.
Suddenly Renner, who has been low-key this entire time, breaks into a Chris-Evans-with-prosthetic-make-up Buffalo Bill impression from The Silence of the Lambs: “‘I’d f–k me!’”
Downey, as you can imagine, just loses it.
Evans laughs along like a good sport, but it was probably easier on him when the other Avengers had their faces stuffed with shawarma.
After the credits roll on a movie, it’s always good to sit around with friends and talk about your favorite moments.
When Entertainment Weekly got a conversation going about The Avengers last spring, the friends just happened to be Iron Man, Nick Fury, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and the Hulk, or at least the stars who played them — who swear a lot more.
Miniature versions of the heroes as Hasbro playthings were scattered around the table, but they stayed mostly quiet, unless their buttons were pushed. (The stars were more focused on pushing each other’s buttons.)
The Avengers writer-director Joss Whedon says his biggest challenge with the actors was getting them to stop goofing around on set, but now that the film is finished, you can see him here dropping the vice principal act and joining forces with the troublemakers.
Check out our exclusive video with Whedon and his cast below. Their far-ranging discussion included such matters as: Who has the most serious battle scar, who blew the most takes by forgetting lines, and … did Whedon really cry while discussing Black Widow’s origin story?
For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012: Behind the Scenes coverage.
The evil geniuses of Marvel Studios are the masters of building suspense among hardcore fans, often by creating trailers that show a lot of imagery that is, 1) very exciting, and 2) entirely out of context. As we watch, we’re in a constant state of “What exactly is going on here?”
The new trailer for Iron Man 3 is full of such headscratchers, which only help build tension and anticipation for the May 3 opening.
Like I said — evil geniuses. READ FULL STORY
I know, I know … a teaser clip for an upcoming trailer. It seems kind of silly.
But for fans of the Marvel movies who’ve been eagerly awaiting the start of their “Phase Two” series of post-Avengers movies, this is kind of like nibbling a little Halloween candy before heading home from trick-or-treating to rip open the whole bag.
The full trailer for Iron Man 3 comes out on Tuesday, but for now … we get the fun-size version.
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