Aging ‘Young Turks’ tell kids to get off the lawn

Avengers: Endgame poster

I was going to take a pass on this. But it’s pretty clear that aging “Young Turks” in the movie industry are telling the kids to get off their lawn.

Over the past few years, the likes of Francis Ford Coppola, 80, Martin Scorsese, 76, and Steven Spielberg, 72, have taken shots at the super hero genre of movies, particularly those made by Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios.

Coppola, Scorsese and Spielberg were the directors who turned Hollywood upside down in the 1970s with the likes of the first two Godfather films, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, etc.

Their legacies are set. Nobody can take that away from them.

They came to prominence when the likes of directors such as John Ford and Howard Hawks had vacated the stage. Go back a little further, and you’ll read about how cinema was more pure before the “talkies” came in circa 1929.

At the same time, one has to wonder how the former “Young Turks” would react to a job offer from Marvel Studios.

MARVEL STUDIOS BOSS KEVIN FEIGE: Francis, we’ll pay you (THIS AMOUNT) to direct MCU Daredevil.

FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA: How much?

FEIGE: (Repeats amount).

COPPOLA: I used to be a Young Turk. I suddenly feel young again.

A friend of mine hates movies based on comic books. He is reveling in these stories and citing how they mean he is correct.

Comic book-based films, like any genre, have their highs and lows.

Chinatown, the first Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back are among the genre films that are celebrated. High Noon, Rio Bravo and Red River are among the Westerns that were celebrated in the day. Other movies in those genres weren’t as celebrated.

Engaging in broad attacks, on the other hand, isn’t a good look. The former Young Turks might want to look back to the early years of their careers and ponder. Then again, it’s easier to shout at the kids to get off your lawn.

Sony, Marvel make up on Spider-Man

Spider-Man: Homecoming poster from 2017

Sony Studios and Marvel Studios patched up their differences and said they will do a third Spider-Man movie together.

The two studios said today that Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige will again produce a Spider-Man movie for Sony. You can view details in VARIETY and THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.

Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017 and Spider-Man: Far From Home this summer were made under that arrangement and were big hits.

The deal also allowed Tom Holland’s Spider-Man to appear in other Marvel Studios movies such as Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

However, the two sides publicly said in August they couldn’t agree on how to continue the arrangement. So it appeared Spider-Man would keep appearing in Sony movies but no longer be part of Marvel films.

We’ll see if the new deal lasts beyond one movie. But both sides benefited from working together, with Sony getting a revitalized Spider-Man series and Marvel getting to use its most popular comic book character. Sony is also developing other movies based on Spider-Man characters.

When universes collide: Marvel and Star Wars?

Marvel’s Dr. Doom (created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962) and Darth Vader of Star Wars, originally created for the first Star Wars movie in 1977.

Kevin Feige, the head of Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios unit, is developing a new Star Wars movie, The Hollywood Reporter said.

The move comes as Disney faces where to take Star Wars next. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, is due out late this year. That will end the entire Skywalker saga encompassing nine films from 1977 to 2019.

Since Disney acquired Star Wars from George Lucas for $4 billion ($2 billion in cash, $2 billion in Disney stock), it attempted to kick start the franchise, which had been dormant since 2005.

Some movies were big successes, but some (such as a film showing Han Solo’s back story) not as much.

Star Wars has been supervised by producer Kathleen Kennedy under Disney ownership while Marvel Studios (a separate Disney acquisition) has operated under Feige.

“With the close of the Skywalker Saga, Kathy is pursuing a new era in Star Wars storytelling, and knowing what a die-hard fan Kevin is, it made sense for these two extraordinary producers to work on a Star Wars film together.”Disney said in a statement to THR.

There have been connections between Star Wars and Marvel going back to the early days of Star Wars.

In the 1970s, many fans commented on the similarities between artist Jack Kirby’s design for Dr. Doom, the arch villain of the Fantastic Four, and Darth Vader in Star Wars.

What’s more, Marvel published comic books based on Star Wars beginning when the first film came out in 1977. The move proved to be a major boost for Marvel during a comic industry slump at the time. That helped keep Marvel alive for better days many years later.

Bond 26 (!) questions: The Pinewood deal edition

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Over the weekend, Pinewood Studios announced that Walt Disney Co. had signed a deal to lease almost all of the revered London-area studio sound stages and production facilities.

Terms weren’t disclosed, but the deal may run for 10 years.

Given that Pinewood is the traditional home to James Bond film productions, the blog has questions how this may affect future James Bond films, starting with Bond 26.

OK. What does this mean for Bond 26?

There’s a good chance that Bond 26 — whenever that goes into development — may have to look for another home studio base.

But, couldn’t Disney sub-lease space at Pinewood to Eon Productions for Bond 26?

It could. But then again, why would Disney do so? Disney wouldn’t have cut such a deal unless it had production plans where it would need all that Pinewood space.

Put another way, Disney has never been known for sentimentality, even when “Uncle Walt” was running the place.

After Disney animators went on strike in 1941, some were fired. The Magic Kingdom may be part of Disney. But the Magic Kingdom is, in the end, a fairy tale.

Some of the Disney strike participants were among the founders and contributors of United Productions of America (UPA). UPA went on to win some Oscars and created characters such as Mr. Magoo and Gerald McBoing Boing.

Is there back story we should be aware of?

Pinewood is exiting Pinewood Atlanta, a joint venture. Pinewood is selling out to its partner. That operation will retain the Pinewood Atlanta name for up to 18 months.

Pinewood Atlanta has been the home base of some major productions by Disney-owned Marvel Studios, including the last two Avengers films. But that appears to be a things of the past.

What happens next?

No Time to Die, aka Bond 25, still is in production. We won’t know about Bond 26 for a long time, perhaps years.

With the increasingly long time in-between Bond films, Eon Productions will have plenty of time to look for a new home production base.

If something bigger happens — some kind of sale that would shake up the Bond status quo — that will have to play out before a search for new studio quarters. If Bond became part of the Disney fold, then presumably it could again film at Pinewood.

Meanwhile, Pinewood has just secured rent for the 007 Stage, the Roger Moore Stage and other studio facilities for years. That’s business.

UPDATE (11:35 a.m. New York time): The BBC has weighed in with a story about the deal. It has this line:

“Despite the Disney deal, it is believed that there is a possibility that, given its history, future James Bond films will still be filmed there.”

First of all, who believes this? Secondly, “a possibility” is less than definitive. Possibilities are not certainties.

UPDATE II (Sept. 11): This slipped by me at the time. In July, Netflix reached an agreement to lease almost all of the space at Sheppterton Studios (owned by Pinewood’s parent company). A July story in The Guardian has details. In effect, there’s now an arms race to lock up U.K. studio space.

Marvel, Sony snatch defeat from the jaws of victory

Spider-Man: Homecoming poster from 2017

Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures entered in a partnership which included, among other things, the highest-grossing (unadjusted) film Sony history while Marvel featured its best known character in its own movies.

What next? Perhaps end the partnership.

That’s apparently what’s happening. This week saw numerous reports about the split. (See THIS STORY from Variety, THIS STORY from The Hollywood Reporter and THIS STORY from The Wrap, among others.)

Essentially, Marvel film boss Kevin Feige produced two Spider-Man movies for Sony while Marvel got to use the Tom Holland version of Spidey in three Marvel films (Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame).

All of the films were enormously successful. Spider-Man: Far From Home, released earlier this year, passed Skyfall in unadjusted worldwide box office for Sony. Still, things apparently not successful enough.

Marvel, owned by Walt Disney Co., reportedly wanted to co-finance Sony’s solo Spider-Man films. Sony issued a statement on Twitter that Feige is getting overextended because of the studio’s “newly added Marvel properties.”

Marvel has gotten control of the X-Men and Fantastic Four as a result of Disney acquiring most of the assets of 20th Century Fox. It’s also launching new TV series on Disney’s new Disney + streaming service.

Whatever the specifics, Sony is saying in effect it doesn’t need Marvel’s Feige to make successful films. Marvel seems to be signaling it still wants a better deal regardless of past success.

We’ll see what happens. The collaboration with Marvel was a shot in the arm for Sony’s Spider-Man franchise. Having Spider-Man in Marvel films was a boost for Marvel.

What’s more, Holland’s Spider-Man had been in position to be the “the face” of future Marvel films with the departure of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America. Nothing last forever, but this partnership may have reached a premature end.

Family model (Eon) vs. corporate model (Marvel): Update

Avengers: Endgame poster

Chalk up one for the corporate side.

After less than two weeks, Avengers: Endgame has generated almost $2.2 billion in worldwide box office.

What’s more, the mammoth production wraps up story lines from more than 20 Marvel Studios movies going back to 2008.

The inter-connected extended fictional universe has affected how films — at least “popcorn,” escapist movies — are made.

Warner Bros., the studio that’s home to DC Comics characters, has tried to follow Marvel’s path. It has had mixed results.

Some were big successes (Wonder Woman, Aquaman). Others, such as Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, had decent box office but didn’t match the success of Marvel’s four Avengers films.

Meanwhile, in Jamaica, the family-led Bond 25 began filming late last month. The franchise is coming off a hiatus. In the words of lead actor Daniel Craig in 2016 at an event sponsored by The New Yorker, “(E)verybody’s just a bit tired.”

By the time the untitled movie debuts in April 2020, more than four years will have passed since the last 007 entry, SPECTRE.

The series has embraced inter-connectivity that Marvel has popularized. Skyfall originally was to have nothing to do with Quantum, the villainous organization in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. “It’s its own story,” Skyfall director Sam Mendes said at a 2011 press conference. “It doesn’t connect with the last two movies.”

Never mind. When SPECTRE was made, that was “retconned” (retroactive change in continuity).

Quantum was now SPECTRE (after the Eon side got back the rights to the organization and its leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld in 2013). Silva (Skyfall’s villain played by Javier Bardem) became part of the conspiracy. The new Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) was now “the author of all your pain” for Daniel Craig’s 007.

Director Cary Fukunaga has said that Bond 25 will continue the character arc for Bond that began with Casino Royale. Lea Seydoux, who played Dr. Madeline Swann in SPECTRE, is back. So the inter-connectivity appears to be continuing.

As the blog has stated before, both the family and the corporate model can be successful. But both are different. As Marvel moves into a new era, we’ll see next spring how Eon has adapted.

Avengers: Endgame, an epic about second chances

Avengers: Endgame poster

Only the mildest of spoilers but the super-sensitive to spoilers should go somewhere else.

The three-hour epic Avengers: Endgame is, in the end, a story about second chances. Not only in its extravagant story but it also appeals to the human desire for do-overs.

As a result, it’s an epic with a heart, frequently punctuated by emotional scenes. For a genre attacked by detractors as a lot of CGI (which it has), there are many human moments.

In last year’s Avengers: Infinity Wars, the superheroes had been beaten by Thanos, who wiped out half of living beings in the universe.

The story utilizes time travel as a plot device for the Avengers to try and undo their defeat. But it also becomes a way for key members of the team to address personal setbacks and regrets.

The result is a film that keeps topping itself in terms of spectacle. Just when the viewer thinks the stakes can’t get higher, they do. Just when it seems there can’t be another twist, there is.

The movie, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, also is self-referential to the 11-year, 22-movie Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you’ve seen all of the entries, it’s easier to follow along. But things move swiftly enough, late comers can enjoy the ride and go to Google later to catch up.

In the meantime, virtually every actor who’s had a significant role in any of the Marvel films gets to make an encore.

Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame were filmed back-to-back. Together, they comprise a mammoth $500 million (at least) undertaking. I had some misgivings about Avengers: Infinity War. They were all wiped away with this film.

It’s a cliche, but true. Things will never be the same for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Studios will face challenges where to go from here, although it has the laid the foundation for ways to proceed.

But that’s a discussion for another day. The film, its huge cast and creative personnel have delivered what seemed impossible: A spectacle with a heart and emotion. GRADE: A.