Black Widow may be delayed again

Poster for Black Widow

Marvel Studios’ Black Widow may be delayed again, further muddling the U.S. movie release outlook, Variety reported.

Variety said Black Widow, currently slated for a Nov. 6 release, was “likely” to be pushed back. The Marvel film originally was to have come out in early May. But it was delayed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

COVID-19 earlier spurred Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal to delay the release of No Time to Die from April to November.

From the perspective of Bond fans, the question is whether a Black Widow delay (assuming it happens) affects No Time to Die.

This month, MGM and Universal seemingly doubled down on the November release for No Time to Die. A new trailer was released. Also, a new online promo featuring Rami Malek as the Bond film’s villain came out.

One view: A Black Widow delay opens the field more for No Time to Die in November.

Another view: Walt Disney Co., assuming it delays Black Widow, shows is not confident about releasing a major film in November.

In the United States, about 70 percent of theaters are open. But COVID-19 closings on movie theaters are still in effect in New York and Los Angeles, the two largest movie markets.

The main major film that has been released during the pandemic is Tenet, the new Christopher Nolan-directed movie. Warner Bros.-released Tenet’s box office has been mixed, doing better internationally than in the U.S.

As usual, we’ll see.

About No Time to Die saving cinema

Last shot of No Time to Die spot on Saturday Night Live last spring.

The past few weeks, there’s been a repeated trope saying that No Time to Die will save cinema.

The 25th James Bond film had been set to be released in April. But it was delayed until November because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Recently, a new trailer was released again saying the movie would be out in November. That, in turn, generated the idea that James Bond was coming to the rescue of the traditional movie theater.

The thing is, the Christopher Nolan-directed film Tenet was also supposed to be saving cinema. It was the first major movie to come out during the pandemic.

At the moment, Tenet is the only major new movie out in theatres. Its global box office total as of midday Sept. 12 is $152.3 million, according to Box Office Mojo. 

For a movie with a production budget of $200 million (with additional marketing costs), that’s not so great. But these aren’t ordinary times. Tenet shows that some people will show up at a theater, pandemic, or no pandemic.

Still, saving cinema? Here in the United States, movie theaters are closed in New York and Los Angeles, the two biggest movie theater markets. They’re still closed where I live, in southeastern Michigan.

The U.S. accounts for about 25 percent of the global audience for a James Bond movie. If No Time to Die really makes that November release date, there may be big chunks of the country where theaters aren’t open.

Perhaps there will be enough international markets open where No Time to Die will do OK. Perhaps.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros., Tenet’s studio, has delayed Wonder Woman 1984 again, this time from Oct. 2 to Dec. 25. That’s not the biggest vote of confidence.

Will No Time to Die follow suit? Who knows?

Another possibility: Cinema won’t be saved until people feel comfortable going to the theater again. That includes those with pre-existing health conditions (diabetes, etc.) or those 60 or older. Or both.

All of that will depend on a lot more than a single movie.

Bond 25: The release date (again) edition

No Time to Die poster released Sept. 1.

No Time to Die is cruising toward a November release — or is it?

The blog has some questions. Let’s take a look.

What’s the latest?

Deadline: Hollywood is reporting that Warner Bros.’s Wonder Woman 1984 may be delayed (again) from a scheduled October release to November or December. This follows mixed results in the U.S. for Tenet, the spy-fi/sci-fi film from director Christopher Nolan.

How is that significant for No Time to Die?

There’s a lot of volatility amid COVID-19 for movies and their release dates. If this news pans out, it will be another bit of volatility.

Another superhero movie, Marvel’s Black Widow, currently is scheduled to be released on Nov. 6 in the U.S. It was originally slated to come out in May but was delayed because of COVID-19.

Anything else going on?

The U.K. is banning social gatherings of more than six people starting next week in England, according to the BBC.

That applies to “schools, workplaces or Covid-secure weddings, funerals and organised team sports,” the BBC said.

That suggests it will be difficult to hold the kind of grand premieres normally associated with James Bond films.

In a follow-up story, the BBC said: “Pubs, restaurants, shops and other venues will remain open, but people can only attend in groups of up to six. Venues should also allow for social distancing between groups.”

Halle Berry provides a Jinx footnote

Die Another Day poster

Variety is out with an interview with Halle Berry where she describes her efforts to become a director. Her debut as a director, in a film titled Bruised, is being shown at the Toronto Film Festival.

The story also provides a kind of footnote to the proposed spinoff based on her Jinx character from Die Another Day.

Here’s the key excerpt:

After the success of “Die Another Day,” “Bond” producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson lobbied for Jinx to get her own spinoff, an idea that thrilled Berry. But MGM balked at the $80 million price tag. “It was very disappointing,” Berry says. “It was ahead of its time. Nobody was ready to sink that kind of money into a Black female action star. They just weren’t sure of its value. That’s where we were then.”

At the time, Berry had appeared in X-Men (2000), a 20th Century Fox adaptation of the Marvel comic book. But that was an ensemble project and it was dominated by the debut of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.

Jinx, on the other hand, would have highlighted Berry. According to Variety, when the Jinx spinoff didn’t happen, that spurred Berry to star in Catwoman (2004), a movie that didn’t work out so well.

Meanwhile, this was an odd period for Eon Productions as well.

Dana Broccoli, the widow of Eon-co-founder Albert R. Broccoli and the mother of Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, died in 2004. Eventually, “the kids” decided to start the James Bond film series over with 2006’s Casino Royale. Barbara Broccoli was the force behind the casting of Daniel Craig in the series reboot.

Chadwick Boseman dies

Black Panther poster

Chadwick Boseman, who brought to life real-life figures such as Jackie Robinson to life as well as the Stan Lee-Jack Kirby character Black Panther, has died at 43, according to The Associated Press.

Boseman played Jackie Robinson in the 2013 film 42 (referring to Robinson’s uniform number), James Brown in Get on Up (2014) and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall (2017).

The actor also played the title character in Black Panther (2018). He had earlier played the part in Captain America: Civil War (2016) and did an encore in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).

Black Panther was the first Marvel Studios film to receive a Best Picture nomination. It was seen as a sign that comic book-based movies could reach beyond their humble origins.

When the film came out in 2018, it had a big impact. Black audience members embraced the phrase “Wakanda Forever!”

T’Challa, the Black Panther, was introduced in 1966 in an issue of the Fantastic Four. The character was the head of an African country with advanced technology. Black Panther ever since has been one of the major characters of Marvel Comics.

News of Boseman’s death was shocking to fans. The actor was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, AP reported.

UPDATE (Aug. 29): Here is a tweet on Chadwick Boseman’s Twitter feed announcing his death:

 

Happy Independence Day 2020

Jim Steranko’s cover to Strange Tales 167

Today, July 4, is Independence Day in the United States.

For this blog, there’s no better image to celebrate the holiday than this Jim Steranko cover from Strange Tales No. 167, published in January 1968. The issue was the climax to a months-long saga that Steranko wrote and drew featuring the intrepid Nick Fury and the forces of SHIELD.

For more background, CLICK HERE for a 2000 article that originally appeared on the Her Majesty’s Secret Servant website. Happy July Fourth to everyone.

Joe Sinnott, Marvel’s ace inker, dies at 93

Splash page to a 1967 Nick Fury story, drawn by Jim Steranko and inked by Joe Sinnott

Joe Sinnott, an inker who contributed to the look of Marvel titles such as the Fantastic Four, died today at 93, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Monthly comic books, because of their deadline pressures, typically had one artist draw in pencil with another going over the drawings in ink.

Sinnott drew particular praise for inking Jack Kirby’s work on the Fantastic Four in the 1960s.

Sinnott’s “smooth, stylized ink work” brought “a new sheen and consistency” to Kirby’s pencils, THR said.

The artist came aboard the FF as the title, primarily plotted by Kirby, exploded with new characters such as the Silver Surfer, Galactus, the Inhumans and the Black Panther.

Sinnott also worked with other Marvel artists, including Gene Colan, John Buscema and some issues of the Jim Steranko written and drawn run of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Sinnott retired in the early 1990s but continued to appear on the comic book show circuit and do paid commissions.

Writer and artist Walter Simonson issued a tribute to Sinnott on Twitter.

UPDATE (10:35 p.m. New York time): Jim Steranko also issued his own tribute to Joe Sinnott on Twitter.

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Denny O’Neil, who helped revive Batman, dies

Splash page to the Batman story “There Is No Hope in Crime Alley,” written by Denny O’Neil

Denny O’Neil, a comic book writer and editor who returned Batman to his dark origins, has died at 81, the Games Radar website said.

The character’s comic stories had turned light-hearted during the run of the 1966-68 television series starring Adam West.

After that show ended, editor Julius Schwartz assembled contributors who’d take the character in a darker direction.

O’Neill, artist Neal Adams and inker Dick Giordano were among the key contributors, though there were others.

Those stories ended up being an influence on the 1989 Batman feature film directed by Tim Burton. O’Neil and Adams also created the villain Ra’s al Ghul, who appeared in the 2005 Christopher Nolan-directed Batman Begins. Also, some of the O’Neil-written comics stories were adapted by a 1990s Batman cartoon series.

O’Neil and Adams also worked together on a run of Green Lantern and Green Arrow comics in the 1970s intended to take on contemporary issues, such as drug addiction.

O’Neil left DC for a time to work at Marvel. He was editor of Daredevil when writer-artist Frank Miller rejuvenated that character in the late 1970s and 1980s. O’Neil also wrote Daredevil for a time after Miller departed.

O’Neil later returned to DC, where he edited the Batman titles from 1986 to 2000.

Tributes to O’Neil were published on social media, including one by retired comic book writer Gerry Conway.

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Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League coming to HBO Max

Justice League movie logo

Waste not, want not.

Zack Snyder, the original director of 2017’s Justice League, will see the light of day on HBO Max in 2021, the new stream service announced on Twitter.

The exact format may be not be decided. The Hollywood Reporter said “the Snyder cut” may be in a four-hour single edition or six “chapters.”

The entertainment news outlet said that Warner Bros. may spend an additional $20 million on the project.

Justice League was intended to be Warners’ answer to The Avengers films from Walt Disney Co.-owned Marvel Studios.

Justice League’s worldwide box office was almost $658 million, according to Box Office Mojo. While hardly a flop, it was far less than the four Avengers films released between 2012 and 2019.

What’s more, vast portions of Justice League were refilmed with director Josh Whedon, who helmed the first two Avengers films. It’s generally thought that Whedon lightened the proceedings from a darker Snyder version.

Since Justice League’s original run, things haven’t been quite the same for Warner Bros.’s cinema universe of DC Comics characters. Ben Affleck’s Batman has been replaced. The future of Henry Cavill’s Superman is unsettled. Warner Bros. has been deemphasizing the idea of a big cinematic universe.

HBO Max is AT&T’s entry in the streaming competition involving the likes of Netflix, Disney + and others. AT&T is the parent company of Warner Bros. and HBO.

For now, Black Widow and Bond will be out in November

Poster for Black Widow

Movie studios continue to play a game of chess with release dates as the coronavirus slams the global economy.

Walt Disney Co. announced a series of release dates, according to Exhibitor Relations, which tracks movie box office.

Among the new dates is Black Widow, made by Disney’s Marvel unit, now scheduled to debut on Nov. 6 in the U.S.

Black Widow originally was slated to come out on May 1. The coronavirus, which resulted in movie theater closings in multiple countries, has forced many changes.

One of the first films to change dates was No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film. It originally was scheduled to be out on April 2 in the U.K. and April 10 in the U.S.

The Bond film currently is scheduled to be out in Nov. 12 in the U.K. and Nov. 25 in the U.S.

If all this holds up, Marvel’s leading espionage character will have her solo film the same month as No Time to Die.

How significant is this? With the coronavirus, everything is in flux. We’ll see how it goes.