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Joss Whedon's 'Much Ado About Nothing' adaptation gets June 2013 release

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.
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'Avengers,' 'Dark Knight,' 'Skyfall' qualify for Oscar visual effects nominations

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Finalists for the visual effects Oscar nominations are some of the biggest films of the year — and some of the biggest bombs.

The main thing they have in common — BIGNESS.

While visual effects have become more common even in smaller films such as Beasts of the Southern Wild or Chronicle, the field is still dominated by big-budget studio behemoths, many of them wearing capes or fighting aliens. READ FULL STORY

Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): The story of the after-credits shawarma scene in 'The Avengers'

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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?

Right?

Anyway …

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.

Read more:
More of EW.com’s Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes) coverage
Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): The Avengers assemble for an EW roundtable — VIDEO

Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): The Avengers assemble for an EW roundtable -- VIDEO

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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.

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'Iron Man 3': The 10 weirdest things in the new trailer

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

'Iron Man 3': Sneak peek at the upcoming trailer -- VIDEO

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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UPDATE: Joss Whedon responds to 'The Dark Knight Rises' cinematographer's slam of 'The Avengers': 'I'm a fan.'

Wally Pfister, director Christopher Nolan’s longtime cinematographer, is not a fan The Avengers.

While participating in a Q&A last week at Ringling College of Art and Design, the Dark Knight Rises cinematographer staked his claim in the ongoing rivalry between DC Comics and Marvel, blasting the record-breaking film. “I thought The Avengers was an appalling film,” he said, according to the Huffington Post (via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune). “They’d shoot from some odd angle and I’d think, why is the camera there? Oh, I see, because they spent half a million on the set and they have to show it off. It took me completely out of the movie. I was driven bonkers by that illogical form of storytelling.”

UPDATE: When reached by EW, The Avengers writer-director Joss Whedon responded: “I’m sorry to hear it, I’m a fan.”

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'Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United': First Look at Marvel Animation's debut movie -- EXCLUSIVE

The big green guy and the big metal guy are having a post-Avengers reunion in animated form.

Marvel Animation Studios has exclusively revealed plans to EW for its debut feature, Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United, which will team Tony Stark and Bruce Banner in a fight against the villain Zzzax, a creature formed out of pure energy who can absorb human minds.

As these first images show, the movie (which will debut on home video April 23) is a hybrid of computer-generated animation and hand-drawn art.

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Briefcase lawsuit delays Marvel's 'Phase One' box set until next spring -- EXCLUSIVE

So close …

Marvel Studios’ massive box set collection of its “Phase One” series of movies — everything from 2008’s Iron Man to last May’s The Avengers — will no longer be released on Sept. 25, but will instead be pushed back to an unspecified date next spring, according to sources at parent company Disney.

The holdup … ? The packaging.

A German luggage firm has filed a lawsuit alleging that the silver briefcase for the six-movie collection is too similar to one of its products. READ FULL STORY

Joss Whedon on 'Much Ado About Nothing' and how Shakespeare and 'The Avengers' are similar

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Joss Whedon’s name has been flung around the movie stratosphere with Thor-worthy momentum since his superhero blockbuster The Avengers staked a claim on the box office this summer.

But the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly creator still feels relatively nervous, modest, yenta-ish and excited when it comes to film festivals. His equally modest, black-and-white Shakespeare adaptation Much Ado About Nothing premieres Saturday at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The festival runs from Thursday through Sept. 16.

“I’ve been to two festivals in my life, and I’ve never been to Toronto. I haven’t really been making festival movies. This is new territory for me,” Whedon told EW.com. “I’m kind of festive. Toronto has an amazing rep. The entire cast is coming. That’s so exciting for me, since they’re all my buddies. I would like to find a distributor and would really like to see other people’s movies.”

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