"Guardians of the Galaxy" crushes domestic box office record for August!
What once was considered one of the riskiest ventures of the Marvel Studios era (which began with "Iron Man" in 2008) has instead become yet another success for the seemingly unstoppable studio. The comic book based space epic, directed by James Gunn, grossed $94.3 million over the weekend. It easily crushed the record set for August films by 2007's "The Bourne Ultimatum", which had grossed just under $70 million its' first weekend. It helped a lethargic Hollywood box office jump ahead 40% to where it was last year. Not only did Marvel Studios' marketing campaign convince mainstream film goers that an adventure with some oddball characters that even many hardcore geeks barely knew about, but it convinced them to turn out in higher numbers than many other Marvel Studios or other Marvel licensed films. "Guardians of the Galaxy" was under a million shy from matching where "Captain America: the Winter Soldier" debuted in April and it saw a better opening weekend than Sony's "Amazing Spider-Man 2", Fox's "X-Men: Days of Future Past" or even last summer's "Thor: the Dark World" from Marvel Studios. 3D and IMAX showings accounted for 45% of the film's opening grosses, and in addition to strong word of mouth and good reviews, 44% of the audience were women; that's up from the last Marvel Studios film that scored highly with women, Joss Whedon's "The Avengers" from 2012. As if "Frozen" or "Malificent" or the "Hunger Games" films hadn't proven it, a film which scores well with ladies tends to perform better than those who do not. After all, appealing exclusively to immature frat boys hasn't done Adam Sandler any favors for years.
In addition, "Guardians of the Galaxy" earned $66.4 million in international markets over the weekend, including Russia, the U.K., Mexico, Brazil, and South Korea. That's a lower opening worldwide tally than some Marvel films, but still nothing to sneeze at. Overall, the film has brought in $160.7 million worldwide in its' opening weekend, and could go on to gross $300-$400 million worldwide so long as it fends off the Michael Bay produced "Ninja Turtles" this weekend. If any film screamed "risk" compared to the latest batch of sequels or team-ups that the studio has been relying on since 2010, it was this. Now, it looks like another surefire hit and puts more pressure on the maligned "Ant-Man" to keep the streak alive next year (following up the sure bet that is "Avengers 2").
"Rocket Raccoon" creators enjoy private screening of "Guardians of the Galaxy"!
In additional feel good news, Marvel executives visited the ailing Bill Mantlo at the care facility he resides in to arrange a private screening of "Guardians of the Galaxy". The film credited him and Keith Giffen for creating Rocket Raccoon back in the 1980's, and his family notes that Marvel has compensated Mantlo well for his creation in recent years. The former comic book star suffered permanent brain injuries in a motorcycle accident in 1992 and has needed around the clock care ever since. Since in the United States, any government program which aides anyone who isn't wealthy is considered "communist", Mantlo's family has shouldered the brunt of the bills from his care for some time. Donations and a stronger relationship with Marvel Entertainment have helped ease this burden, and a private screening was an extra treat. Good P.R., Marvel!
Sony restructures their "Spider-Man" film franchise & plans to make a super heroine film!
Despite the dominance of lady led films over the past few years, both Marvel Studios/Disney and DC Entertainment/Warner Brothers have been cautious at best (and cowardly sexist at worst) with bringing a superhero film starring a woman to the big screen. For the record, the last studio that tried was Fox, with 2005's "Elektra" which starred Jennifer Garner, was a spin off to their modest hit "Daredevil", and tanked. Since then, both major studios would rather invest tens of millions into Ant-Men or scarred cowboys ("Jonah Hex") than take a plunge with a super heroine film. Gal Gadot will presumably get her own Wonder Woman film so long as her cameo in "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" in 2016 does well, but that's a major if for the most well known heroine in pop culture. Throwing down the gauntlet, then, turns out to be Sony as they seek to solve their dilemma with "Spider-Man" films.
Deadline has cited unknown sources with news that Sony is restructuring their "Spider-Man" film franchise besides on changes to their management structure as well as diminishing returns for the webbed wonder. As the article notes, the studio has released five "Spider-Man" films within twelve years, and with few exceptions each one has a higher budget with lower box office returns. In addition, the franchise now more heavily relies on international ticket sales than on domestic ones. This summer's "Amazing Spider-Man 2" grossed $50 million less than 2012's "Amazing Spider-Man" did, despite costing considerably more. The entire purpose of allowing Sam Raimi to depart the franchise after 2007's "Spider-Man 3" was not clashes over each film's plot or philosophy, but an attempt to cut costs and increase profits. "Amazing Spider-Man" under Marc Webb had a budget which was merely $20 million less than "Spider-Man 3", and failed to even match that film's grosses. Plans to drastically expand the franchise after "Amazing Spider-Man 2" have hit a snag due to this dilemma.
As such, "Amazing Spider-Man 3" has been pushed from 2016 to 2018 in order to focus more on spin offs to keep the franchise going while allowing the web-head himself to take a rest. This is similar to how Fox Studios has branched out their line of "X-Men" films (even if that studio's success doing so has been mixed). A "Sinister Six" film has been slated for November 11th, 2016 which will be written and directed by Drew Goddard, and produced by Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach. Which villains the piece will showcase are unknown, but "Amazing Spider-Man 2" seemed to imply that Green Goblin, Electro, Dr. Octopus, Vulture, and Rhino could be involved. The team of villains have long plagued Spider-Man, but they have never held court on their own series. A more fascinating rumor is that Lisa Joy ("Westworld") is being tapped to write a film for 2017 that centers around a super heroine, which will also be produced by Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach. If true, Sony's efforts would beat both Marvel Studios and Warner Brothers to putting a film around a super heroine into theaters in the drastically different era of comic book adaptations.
Deadline's piece offers many theories, as well as some erroneous ones. The biggest is attaching Firestar to this license; while she was a creation of the NBC animated series "Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends" from the 1980's, she is a mutant who is likely a part of Fox's toy box. The easiest bet is a film centered around "Black Cat", especially as her alter ego of Felicia Hardy was played by Felicity Jones in "Amazing Spider-Man 2". However, that may remind stockholders and audiences of the 2004 bomb, "Catwoman", who Black Cat has always seemed at least a bit inspired by. The other historical lady spin off of Spider-Man was Silver Sable, an international mercenary who would hunt both criminals and terrorists alongside a team of carefully selected operatives, the Wild Pack. While it is presumed that Sony has the rights to produce a film around anyone named "Spider-Girl" or "Spider-Woman", the exact rules around each heroine could be mixed. The most well known Spider-Woman - Jessica Drew, who had her own cartoon in the 1970's - has very little to do with Spider-Man himself and could lead to a Maximoff twins style showdown with Marvel Studios. The second most well known Spider-Woman is Julia Carpenter, who debuted in 1984's "Secret Wars #6" and is best known for being a supporting cast member in the "Iron Man" cartoon of the 90's as well as being the inspiration for Spider-Man's (and Venom's) black costume. Carpenter could allow Sony to have another feisty red head character without having to recast Mary Jane Watson, as well as offer audiences a rare dynamic for a leading lady - juggling crime fighting with being a single mother. A possibility, if Sony wanted to be boldly inclusive, would be to utilize Anya Corazon's version of "Spider-Girl" (formerly "Arana"), even if they didn't run with her magical origins. She was one of the first Latina heroines to star in her own ongoing series at Marvel Comics back in 2005. However, considering how cavalier Sony has been with some of the back stories of their characters, for all anyone knows they could come up with their own gestalt version of Spider-Woman around an alias Marvel Studios may not go near, such as Charlotte Witter. Expect either "Black Cat" or "Spider-Woman" to tie into the needlessly complicated OsCorp conspiracy as begun in Marc Webb's films.
There seems to be a long yearning in the audience for a decent super heroine film, so if Sony could actually produce one, they could have an unexpected hit on their hands.