Marvel movie news: Ant-Man, and other things, get smaller; GHOST RIDER's empty saddle

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cageghostrider Marvel movie news: Ant Man, and other things, get smaller; GHOST RIDER's empty saddle

• Yow, lots of Marvel movie news percolatin’ out there. Claude Brodesser-Akner reports that Columbia is the first studio to run up against the ticking time bomb of Marvel’s reversion clause. That is, rights to many of the film franchises Marvel has at other (i.e. not Disney) studios, such as Spider-Man, X-Men, Daredevil, and so on, will revert to Disney/Marvel if the studio doesn’t make a movie for a few years. And so, to hold onto Ghost Rider, Columbia has to get cracking on making a sequel, even if it means toughing it out without Nicolas Cage:

Insiders tell us that Columbia is asking Marvel for an extension. (Asking, pleading, it’s a fine line.) But time is running out. Cage has spoken about his desire to make a second Ghost Rider; the issue is whether his schedule will be free before the deadline. Disney is also hoping to get him for a third National Treasure with Jerry Bruckheimer, which could be shooting as early as this fall and would presumably earn the star a hefty paycheck. And considering Cage’s well-documented money troubles, that cash may trump his deep love of comic books. But Columbia (which would not comment on this story) desperately needs a blockbuster for 2011, now that Spider-Man has been pushed to 2012 — not to mention that no exec wants to lose a moneymaking franchise to a rival studio


Okay, we get it — Columbia needs a blockbuster. So, now, why are they holding onto Ghost Rider? BA-DUM-CHING.

• It seems that Edgar Wright is gonna join the director’s comics two-fer club (like Zack Snyder and Mark Steven Johnson) by making ANT-MAN once he’s done with Scott Pilgrim:

“[‘Ant-Man’] isn’t one of their biggest properties,” related Wright. “It’s not like a tentpole deadline. It’s more like me and Kevin [Feige] [saying], ‘Let’s make a really good script.’ We’ve always agreed on that — ‘Lets make a good script that works, that’s all about a great genre film, and that isn’t necessarily relying on anything else.'”

• ANT-MAN is supposed to be a wacky, goofy kinda superhero movie, which would tie in to this story from Devin Faraci, explaining that , Marvel wants to get costs under control by making low budget movies that can easily recoup using obscure characters — see, KICK-ASS is going to be a pioneer after all:

Marvel Studios is currently taking meetings with writers and directors to work on small scale movies based on some of their third tier characters. The movies would cost in the range of 20 to 40 million dollars (very small when we’re talking studio films) and would allow them to take risks with less obvious characters and with interesting talent.

Filmmakers are being offered their pick of characters whose names are only familiar to comic fans. Properties like Dr. Strange, Ka-Zar, Luke Cage, Dazzler and Power Pack are among the many that are being tossed around right now. And the attitude seems to be that Marvel is open to bringing any of their characters to the screen at the right price point.


A DAZZLER movie? Ka-Zar? Is this a step forward or a step back? Does anyone remember Roger Corman’s FANTASTIC FOUR and Dolph Lundgren as The Punisher? If you do, they are surely the kind of memories that leave you waking up, in a cold sweat, screaming into the night.

On the other hand, this could be very good news indeed for — dare we say it —

woodgod Marvel movie news: Ant Man, and other things, get smaller; GHOST RIDER's empty saddle

Comments

  1. Tim O'Neil says:

    WOODGOD.

    YES.

    THIS PLEASES ME.

  2. I’m still holding out for a Skull The Slayer movie.

  3. I doubt David Lynch would ever do a funnybook-based movie, but boy howdy would I ever love to see his take on Dr. Strange …!

  4. Kenny Cather says:

    Power-man & Iron Fist as a Black Dynamite sort of buddy cop movie is my dream.

  5. Synsidar says:

    The plans to do movies about third-tier characters don’t make much sense. Name recognition is a factor in promoting a film and creating favorable publicity. If a character’s name isn’t recognizable, and the film itself is known to be a low budget thing, either an R-rated or G-rated film could fail to find an audience. How many screens will be available for a film, or would the films be direct to DVD? The people at Marvel might be overestimating the pull of the “Marvel” name.

    SRS

  6. I’m not the only one who remembers the MAN-THING movie, right?

  7. The Roger Corman Fantastic Four movie was a low-budget affair that still had more heart than both of Columbia’s bigger budget flicks put together.

    And it also got the original Stan & Jack characters much closer to “right” than Columbia’s efforts.

    It is one of the best bad movies ever!

  8. Hollywood’s mining of comic book properties seems less to be motivated my name recognition alone (Wanted, Blade, Kick Ass, Surrogates, ect.), but more that of an industry bereft of creative ideas (or, at least, creative ideas that have some semblance of a built-in audience).

    I wouldn’t mind at all seeing a Shang-Chi movie, Strikeforce Morituri, or even Rom Spaceknight. Yep, I went there.

  9. RJ Ryan says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rom_Spaceknight#Other_versions

    Dust: Rom is not owned by Marvel. But I think a movie or show of it would be cool, too.

  10. Kid Kyoto says:

    One reason Hollywood so loves remakes and adaptations is the idea of ‘pre-awareness’ so talk shows and websites and would-be fans have some vague idea that this already exists and is a hit, or at least a cult favorite, in some medium.

    So a hypothetical Dazzler movie would already lend itself to happy talk stories on TV, SNL skits, t shirts and other ways to generate buzz before it ever hit screens.

  11. Charles Knight says:

    “I’m not the only one who remembers the MAN-THING movie, right?”

    I would love to go to a IMAX 3d showing and see a GIANT SIZED MAN-THING thrusting out of the screen at me.

    ;-)

  12. Synsidar,

    Could it be that Marvel’s trying to prove that their characters can be adapted profitably even w/o mega-budgets? The budgets certainly propelled obscure-to-outsiders characters like Blade and Iron Man to popularity, but if your company has a lot of characters to offer and only so many shots at the megabudget gold, then it might make sense to throw a lot of, uh, characters at the wall in more low-cost efforts in the hope of seeing which ones stick.

    Not long ago there was some entertainment article talking about how middle-budgeted Jennifer Aniston films often did better for studios than mega-budgeted Julia Roberts films because the former were better at recouping their costs. Take that for what it’s worth.

  13. They should just shoot, panel for panel, the DAUGHTERS OF THE DRAGON mini-series justin and I did a few years back.

    simple.

  14. Hmmm…
    Jim Starlin’s Warlock?

    Does anyone remember Blade?
    Men In Black?

    I don’t care how directs (well, maybe…) but why is there no Damage Control movie in pre-production??? Such a simple concept, there’s FOUR series Marvel could reprint to tie-in with the movie, and Marvel could back-door a whole slew of costumed characters into the movie! And then you spin it off into a sitcom! The Office Meets The Marvel Universe! If that becomes successful, then you film a back-door pilot starring She-Hulk as a lawyer for Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway!

  15. Brett says:

    I’d go see Dazzler and Rom!

    Sometimes, low budget cheesy is kind of fun. Anyone remember the live action Spider-Man TV show?

  16. Synsidar says:

    Could it be that Marvel’s trying to prove that their characters can be adapted profitably even w/o mega-budgets?

    Yes, but the emphasis on low-budget films would be more consistent, I think, with direct to DVD films. Marvel seems to be assuming that superhero films will continue to have mass appeal, even while critics are talking about the genre dying. What would happen if other studios tried copying Marvel’s approach? A big budget allows the studio to tout the quality of the special effects, the acting, the screenplay. What does a low budget allow a studio to tout? Producing a series of low-budget films seems like trying to take advantage of cultists. If a viewer has a choice between two superhero films, one with a big budget, bankable stars, etc. and one with a low budget, at the same ticket price. the big budget film is the obvious choice.

    There’s also the problem of coming up with story material, which has reportedly been the problem for several films about DC characters. Combining a low budget with a weak screenplay is a recipe for failure.

    SRS

  17. Mad Dog WIlliams says:

    Reboot Man-Thing, combine it with a Ghost Rider sequel, throw in a Morbius and Werewolf by Night smackdown, and now you’ve got a Legion of Monsters movie that will make twice as much as “The Losers” and half the box office of “Kick-Ass.” Al-RIGHT!

  18. LobsterAfternoon says:

    This is a great idea. Budgets should be proportional to the demands of the script and the talent involved. I think it’s great to give a lower-tier property a shot with new talent or with creators that aren’t interested in using the most cutting edge SFX. Battlestar Galactica got made on a budget of what, a couple million per episode? And they had little space ships chasing each other, giant spaceships blasting each other to pieces, robots and all sorta of other stuff? Not all sci-fi/fantasy/comic genre stuff needs to cost 150 million bucks.

  19. Jim Jurgensen says:

    Y’know, I kinda liked the Dolph Lundgren Punisher movie. Very family friendly.

  20. Joe Heffernan says:

    Devil Dinosaur – CGI or pure animation! :)

  21. My love of film as an art form, forget comic book movies, is dwindling rapidly. Same with television. But, he says, but, I would gladly take the trip to the local multiplex to see a Moon Knight film.

  22. Wraith says:

    Like LobsterAfternoon said, you don’t need a $150 million budget to make an action packed scifi/fantasy/superhero movie with cool looking special effects and lots of action.

    The first BLADE movie cost $45 million to make ($5 to $10 million of which probably went to Snipes), and that movie certainly didn’t look low budget. DISTRICT 9 cost $30 million to make and that movie had a good amount of action and didn’t look low budget.

  23. I’d love to see Son of Satan, but I won’t hold my breath.

  24. mark coale says:

    For the longest time, marvel’s highest grossing comic book movie was Men In Black (thanks to their buying Malibu).

    What’s to say a third-string character with a good hook couldn’t make Big BO?

    Miley Cyrus as Dazzler would presumably soak teen/pre-teen girls for plenty of cash.

    Same if they made some kind of teen movie with that kid who is always leading Twitter.

  25. on the other hand,smaller movies could very well mean a “closer to the comic” adaptation of some of these characters. with the big mega budget movies we always seem to get producers, directors, screenplay writers, and actors that want to give us “THEIR VERSION” of what these characters should be like on the big screen, basically ignoring the comics. maybe (just maybe) with a smaller movie, the folks producing those will be a little more eager to please a smaller core audience and will create a movie that’s closer to the source material.

  26. Wasn’t Skull the Slayer already made into a TV show …and called LOST?

  27. “Yes, but the emphasis on low-budget films would be more consistent, I think, with direct to DVD films. Marvel seems to be assuming that superhero films will continue to have mass appeal, even while critics are talking about the genre dying. What would happen if other studios tried copying Marvel’s approach? A big budget allows the studio to tout the quality of the special effects, the acting, the screenplay. What does a low budget allow a studio to tout? Producing a series of low-budget films seems like trying to take advantage of cultists. If a viewer has a choice between two superhero films, one with a big budget, bankable stars, etc. and one with a low budget, at the same ticket price. the big budget film is the obvious choice.

    There’s also the problem of coming up with story material, which has reportedly been the problem for several films about DC characters. Combining a low budget with a weak screenplay is a recipe for failure.

    SRS”

    Nowhere in this post did you address my primary hypothesis: that the competition for the megabudget gold is such that Marvel may have no choice but to go low-budget.

    DTV’s not the only way to go. I’d guess that a sizeable percentage of modern horror films are not aimed at the mainstream audience but at teens who want to let their gorefreak-flag fly. The same’s true for childrens’ movies: they’re rarely going to be top grossers but as long as they’re cheaply made and well-marketed they’ll probably turn a profit.

  28. “What does a low budget allow a studio to tout?”

    Budget does not always equal quality. Just look at the Oscars, specifically those of last February. A movie with a budget of $11 Million won six Academy Awards (including Directing, Writing, and Best Picture), trouncing a movie with a budget of $237 Million.

    Studios make the movie they want to make. If it requires a big budget, then the studio must decide if the movie is spectacular enough to make back that money. If the movie does not require a large budget, then it is easier to market and amortize.

    Of course, if that small film becomes a phenomenon (Blair Witch, Greek Wedding, Star Wars), then the movie makes a huge profit. If you can factor in the Geek Index, then the movie will have initial buzz and possibly strong sales in DVD.

    Example: Mirrormask. Written by Neil Gaiman, designed and directed by Dave McKean. A small art-house movie (originally direct-to-video) with a budget of $4 Million. It had a great opening week ($10,000+ per screen), and made about $800 Thousand domestically. There were at least five book tie-ins (many have sold out) and then the DVDs, which continue to sell.

    A small movie can also give the movie cachet. “Here’s something which isn’t mainstream. Here’s something which didn’t make the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Here’s something cool and alternative and groundbreaking which probably will only be on screen for a week or two. It doesn’t have explosions or ADD-editing or a soundtrack which cures kidney stones. It is Something Different.”

  29. >>>Insiders tell us that Columbia is asking Marvel for an extension. (Asking, pleading, it’s a fine line.) But time is running out. Cage has spoken about his desire to make a second Ghost Rider; the issue is whether his schedule will be free before the deadline. Disney is also hoping to get him for a third National Treasure with Jerry Bruckheimer, which could be shooting as early as this fall and would presumably earn the star a hefty paycheck.<<<

    Is it just me, or does this seem like Disney's playing hardball?

    "Hey, Nick. We know you'd like to do 'Ghost Rider 2: Highway to Heaven,' but we've got all this money just waiting for you to do a National Treasure sequel… And if you choose this pile of cash, we might get Ghost Rider, too. It's a win-win!"

  30. I know at least 6 people that would go see Razorback: The Movie

    Maybe a genre movie with a twist? Razorback Mountain?

  31. If it’s Razorback: Space Trucker, I’m there!

    Although, given his mutant ability to drive anything, why not make it just one big chase movie? Maybe a mix of “Mad Mad World” with a “DOA/Iditarod” MacGuffin.

  32. Jesse Post says:

    I second Jimmy Palmiotti’s nomination — I’ve re-read that darned book ’til the pages fell out.

  33. Synsidar says:

    Torsten, when I use “big budget,” I’m referring to a film project in which the director won’t feel constrained by the budget. My thinking is that third tier characters are “third tier” for reasons, because the concepts don’t lend themselves to stories or because they were intended to be teamed with other characters. If a character’s origin doesn’t make sense to a non-comics fan and would have to be revised for a film, then the character isn’t worth using. How many characters would actually be suited to one-shot movies, in which, after the character is introduced, his origin explained, etc., he actually does something entertaining in a story designed for that character, not a generic “Hero confronts villain; hero defeats villain” story.

    I’m just wondering whether some people at Marvel are under pressure, real or perceived, to do something profitable with all those characters that Disney paid all that money for, especially since the economic future of comic books is uncertain. Doing low-budget movies starring the likes of Ka-Zar and Luke Cage wouldn’t be insane, but I wouldn’t consider it intelligent.

    I suspect that the comic book fan base isn’t large enough to make movies written for comic book fans profitable. There will always be pressure to make a movie accessible to the general public, even if that means targeting children and their parents, rather than adults.

    SRS

  34. Synsidar,

    BLADE was originally a third-tier hero or lower, and the original MEN IN BLACK might not have even gotten up to the tiered section!

  35. Synsidar says:

    Yes, but Blade fought vampires. If a movie is marketed on the basis of the menace, then the star doesn’t matter. Shang-Chi and Iron Fist are martial artists; anything they appeared in would be a martial arts film. MEN IN BLACK 3 is scheduled for a 2011 release, so fans of that don’t need clones.

    SRS

  36. I want an Omega The Unknown movie. By Charlie Kaufman.

  37. gene philips:
    “Could it be that Marvel’s trying to prove that their characters can be adapted profitably even w/o mega-budgets? ”

    No … Marvel isn’t trying to PROVE anything … they waznt to make profitable movies. And not all movies need 150K budgets.

  38. Rich,

    But the only way you get producers to lay out $$$ is to “prove” that you can bring in $$$.

    I’m not pretending to read Marvel’s minds on this matter. The low-cost alternative just seems to have a logical appeal, though in execution the films could be as bad as most kiddie-pictures these days.

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