This November, Marvel and Netflix Unleash The Punisher

imageMarvel’s The Punisher will premiere November 17, which we didn’t learn during Marvel Television’s presentation at the 2017 New York Comic-Con because if never actually happened.

The panel for the latest Marvel Television/Netflix co-production was cancelled  out of respect for those who were killed in Las Vegas (which makes sense considering the Punisher is particularly fond of guns.  And while the violence that he projects is typically directed at various shades of criminal–and isn’t real–I applaud Marvel for being wise enough to see that it would have been in particularly bad taste).

Though what’s worse than ‘bad taste’ is willfully neglecting the issue, which is the ready availability of guns combined with the moral cowardice of our so-called representatives–who respond to almost monthly mass shootings with condolences and regret, but never with legislation that actually does anything to prevent such violence in the first place (so forget about anything as commonsensical as limiting the amount of guns one person can own–or ways to make them even deadlier, like bump stocks).

Let’s be honest: if we had rules to limit the amount of weapons a person could own, if conversion kits (which change a semi-automatic rifle to, essentially a full automatic) were illegal to sell or own, if background checks to purchase weapons were thorough and rigorous and if buying a gun meant you were registered in a national database (which would flag ‘unusual’ purchasing patterns) it likely wouldn’t be the end of gun violence.

But it would (probably) be lessened considerably, and mass shootings would be significantly less ‘massy.’

Though even if it did nothing at all, it would be better than burying our collective heads in the sand, waiting for the next time.

And isn’t that a bit more important than whether or not the Punisher appears at Comic-Con?

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Rebirth of the Dark Universe?

The seeming collapse of Universal’s Dark Universe cinematic universe should maybe be seen as a blessing in disguise.

Keep in mind Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy earned over $409 million on a budget of $125 million, which isn’t a terrible outcome (though promotional costs, which I haven’t seen, are important) and indicates an interest in the concept.

Interestingly, NOT casting Tom Cruise might have better shown how much interest there was in The Mummy–and by extension their Dark Universe–and likely would have cost less to produce, which could mean the movie would have had a better chance at profitability.

What Universal needs to do is to go back to the original movies–and for a start emphasizing horror, as opposed to action– and put Jason Blum at the helm because if he and his Blumhouse Pictures production shingle–conveniently at Universal as well–has proven anything, it’s that he knows how to make extremely profitable horror movies at minimal cost.

By way of illustration, Blum’s The Purge cost $3 million and Insidious cost $1.5 million and earned $98 million and $97 million, respectively.

Which is exactly what Dark Universe needs right now.

 

Does Sony Really Understand Their Marvel Properties?

Screenshot 2017-11-13 13.43.21Let’s see if I understand…Sony is moving full-steam ahead on their own corner of the Marvel Comics universe and recently announced features based on Venom, Silver Sable, Black Cat and most recently Morbius, the Living Vampire?

And let’s forget for a moment that Sony doesn’t exactly have a stellar record with managing their Marvel properties (Spider-Man 1 & 2?  Pretty good.  The Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2?  Not so much) which is why I approach their latest development with such reticence.

And writers MATTER because what ruined The Amazing Spider-Man movies was not the direction, but the writing by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.

Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless are in negotiations to write Morbius.  If you’re not familiar with Sazama and Sharpless, they worked on Dracula Untold, The Last Witch Hunter, and Gods of Egypt, and Power Rangers.

What do all those movies have in common?  Every single one (arguably excluding Power Rangers) tanked at the box office.

And that’s not to say that the Morbius adaptation can’t be absolutely brilliant, though I wouldn’t hold my breath on it.

Lightning Strikes, Thor: Ragnarök Roars!

img_0536And Yes, ‘Ragnarök’ has an umlaut and it’s lazy not to include it.

Anyway, last week I made the audacious claim that Thor: Ragnarök would likely join the Billion Dollar Club, the hallowed ground where movies that earn at least a billion dollars go during their theatrical runs roam.

And profits matter because as much as some want to make it all about the quality and watchability of a movie–which are important–Hollywood isn’t a charity and if these expensive tentpoles aren’t going to bring adequate returns, they’re going to stop making them.

And it goes without saying that that’s a bit of a double-edged sword because what applies to the original Star Wars trilogy also applied to the Transformers movies 😭.

I mention this because Thor: Ragnarök has crossed the $500 million mark ($502.3 m) not even two weeks into its box office run though it has to be mentioned that it has done so with little in the way of competition–A Bad Mom’s Christmas is less a genuine alternative than cagey counter-programming–till Justice League comes out in about a week’s time.

It’s worth looking at where Thor: Ragnarök is making its money.  Over $350 million of the $503 million it has earned thus far has come from the international box office–$354 million versus $150 million domestically.

That domestic figure is problematic, though I suspect if it reaches $400 million on this end of the pond a billion dollar run is assured, and ironically Justice League could help as much as hinder that from happening.

Expect moviegoers to initially flock to the latest from Warner Bros and DC Entertainment (ironically enough, on the strength of Wonder Woman, a fortuitous accident because there’s no sign Warner Bros expected her to resonate with audiences as much as she did) but that should only slow Thor’s momentum, not stop it outright.

And if Justice League doesn’t meet audience expectations–all those rewrites and reshoots weren’t made out of overwhelming confidence–which has the side effect of increasing the budget to a rumored $300 million.

That’s problematic because if it makes anything under a billion it’s a well-intentioned failure, while Thor: Ragnarök at a budget of $180 million can reach $800 million and be comfortably profitable.

Though as I have written, I see it going higher.

Welcome To Millarworld?

Screenshot 2017-11-08 02.38.43I thought the benefit of Netflix buying Millarworld (the publisher of comics like Kick-Ass and The Golden Circle) was to provide competition to Marvel and DC (especially when you consider that Disney is starting their own streaming service sometime in 2019 and taking their content–Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm and Pixar–with them.

According to Vulture, Netflix is planning to launch a new comic via Millarworld, The Magic Order, about a bunch of magician families that come together to protect the world against a threat potentially more powerful than themselves.

Which is interesting because I’m no longer certain what direction Netflix is taking with Millarworld, and perhaps more importantly, why (other than to keep the comic publisher out of someone else’s hands)?

Disney & Fox Would Be the Avatar of Movie Studios

And speaking of Avatar, guess which studio released it?

If your guess is ‘20th Century Fox,’ now picture one studio releasing Avatar, the Alien and Predator movies, Star Wars and Marvel superhero movies.

Those are a few of the movies that would come under the aegis of a combined Disney and Fox, which would likely cause even more consolidation among studios because who can effectively compete with that lineup?

As awesome as the idea is of the X-Men finally coming back to Marvel Studios is, I’m not at sure Disney buying Fox’s film and television production and distribution businesses is such a great idea.

Sure, Simon Kinberg would likely no longer be given free rein to ruin the X-Men, and the fate of the Fantastic Four would finall be resolved in the most awesomest manner possible but it would make Disney even more massive, more powerful than it already is.

And I’m not entirely sure a 21st Century Fox as a division of The Walt Disney Company (it would likely require way too much effort–and money–to get rid of  Fox branding, which is why it’s likely to exist alongside Disney as a stand-along shingle) is a really good idea for anyone that’s not a shareholder in either company.

And to emphasize my last point, Disney earned $2.9 billion in 2016 (and that’s not including the millions generated by Thor: Ragnarök).  

Combining the titles they already control with those of Fox sounds like Ragnarök for all the other studios, which certainly wouldn’t have the seer market power of a combined Disney/Fox.

Is Wonder Woman Really the Highest Earning Superhero Origin Movie?

'Wonder Woman' is highest-grossing superhero origin movie of all time - Business Insider copySorry, I don’t buy it Wonder Woman as the ‘highest-grossing superhero origin movie of all time.

Reason being, it neglect a little movie called Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Spider-Man isn’t an origin movie, you say?

That’s where we’ll have to differ (because it is).

This iteration of Spider-Man is first introduced in Captain America: Civil War so it technically isn’t his first appearance.  Then again, Wonder Woman was first introduced in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice so it wasn’t her’s either.

But what people who say Spider-Man: Homecoming isn’t an origin story seem to be missing is that there have been THREE prior versions of the character relatively recently, which means to include it again would bore moviegoers (The Amazing Spider-Man retconned the origin, making Peter Parker’s parents spies–sort of–which was  dumb, though you can at least understand why they did it).

So Marvel Studios took a different approach.  They emphasized Spider-Man growing in the role, so in a sense it is an origin film in that Parker–despite wearing the costume–is not Spider-Man.

Instead he’s awkward, and truth be told, not terribly good at what he does (a fact the movie emphasizes more often than once).

In other words, Spider-Man: Homecoming is an origin story, just not a blatantly obvious one.

Full Metal Alchemist – Official Trailer

Screenshot 2017-11-02 01.51.33I recall that someone explained why it is that Japanese people in anime don’t look particularly Japanese, but I don’t recall the explanation (which implies that it didn’t particularly resonate for me).

I should mention that my feeling also doesn’t apply to all anime.  Characters from the works of Hayao Miyzaki appear distinctly Japanese (in terms of how they’re drawn).

Which is one of the reasons I enjoyed Gantz: 0:  all the characters looked Japanese (which makes sense when something takes place in Japan).

I was bothered as much as anyone else by Scarlett Johansson’s casting as the Major in Ghost in the Shell though less because she was playing a Japanese character–since as I explained earlier, the Major never looked Japanese to me–more than I knew she was despite that fact and therefore should be played by a Japanese person.

Though having seen the trailer for Full Metal Alchemist–filmed with an entirely Japanese cast–it looks a bit…off, especially compared to the episodes of the anime I have seen.

It’s sort of weird, but it reminds me of someone’s interpretation of Full Metal Alchemist–which it obviously is–but I mean in a more deeper, essential sense of who these characters are.

It’s like it were being made especially for the Japanese market–which in a sense it is–after the Hollywood version.

If that makes any sense.