Oy, what a weekend: A Disney exit and a Toronto bloodbath (Updated)

You may not have heard it, but the movie world’s been shifting on its axis over the last few days. It might not be very pretty.

* Dick Cook, the Chairman of Disney who doesn’t get nearly the amount of press of CEO Bob Iger, resigned just before the start of Rosh Hashanah last Friday night. In the inevitable “did he fall or was he pushed?” argument, the “push” side seems to have the edge and the repercussions are significant, but not completely clear.

The short version seems to be that Cook and Iger simply had different views on too many issues and that the movie side of Disney, Pixar aside, hasn’t been doing quite as well lately as some would like. Cook was, however, apparently rather well liked by such superstars as Steven Spielberg and Johnny Depp, and that might have an impact on such issues as whether not they’ll be a fourth “Pirates” movie. Marc Graser of Variety has more — including the tantalizing suggestion that the job might be Pixar head John Lasseter’s to turn down. Of course, Nikki Finke has yet more of the seemingly endless lowdown.

Johnny Depp and Dick Cook

* Speaking of Disney and its famous recent acquisition, there’s a second lawsuit similar to the one that wrapped a while back regarding the rights to Superman — or not. Let’s just say it’s from the same lawyer and this time the target is Time Warner/DC Comics competitor, the newly Disnified Marvel Entertainment. As described by Nikki Finke, who picked up the story from the comics site Bleeding Cool, this time the creator in question is the late, great Jack Kirby, one of the most respected figures in all of comicsdom and the co-creator with Stan Lee of many of Marvel’s best known characters including the Fantastic Four and the Mighty Thor. (He also co-created Captain America with Joe Simon just months before America’s entry into World War II.) There’s a long history on the whole issue of Kirby’s role in creating these comics in relation to Stan Lee, and there are a number of issues here. Like anything legal, it gets pretty thorny and there’s some pretty “lively” debate among the commenters at Deadline Hollywood.

* Perhaps most significant of all, reporter/blogger Anne Thompson has written a post that’s sent shockwaves through the online film world and probably the actual film world as well — though the news itself is known to those affected. She concisely entitled her post-festival piece “Toronto Wrap: Indie Bloodbath.” The villain here seems to be, at least partly, rising marketing costs — though I’d like someone to explain to me why they are rising as we’re coming out of a recession with a more or less jobless recovery. Nevertheless:

It costs too much money these days to make a dent, a mark, an impression that will create enough urgency in filmgoers to make them go out and see a movie. While Ted Mundorff insists that business is up at indie-branded Landmark Cinemas around the country, and Apparition’s Bob Berney is hopeful that exec changes at Cinemark and AMC will bring a new awareness to booking the right movies in the right locations, the indie market needs help.

With the exception of the high profile deal for a “A Single Man” last week, very little business got done in Toronto and struggling indie filmmakers are, rather than selling their films, paying to have their films released. Terms like “tectonic shift” are being bandied about. Via David Hudson/The Auteurs Daily, we have reaction from my personal movie Yoda, Roger Ebert and Vadim Rizov, who comments on Universal’s recent troubles and its ensuing spending freeze.

The irony is, of course, that all of this comes after a  very successful movie summer. Another chapter, I suppose, in the ongoing realignment of all media, though the timing sure seems odd. Movies will survive, but it’s a most definitely a tough time for all but the most micro-budgeted of indies and the big budgeted productions of ordinary Hollywood, and life’s not exactly a feather-bed for them, either.

UPDATE: Also via The Auteur’s Daily, apparently there’s been some delayed Toronto-related action and some blood just got mopped off the floor. And a little more. Things are, I’m sure, still bad, but perhaps the mood might be a hair less apocalyptic for larger indies.

  

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* Naturally, Nikke Finke has more on the Disney-Marvel deal. Of course, there’s a discussion of Universal’s currently existing use of Marvel licensed characters at theme parks, which Finke points out is pretty much a job security plan for lawyers. Disney may spend decades slowly bringing the characters fully on board. Much more interesting to me is another post on the background of the deal. It’s been brewing for nearly a decade, but she reminds us of the genetic link Iger has to the history of comics.

His late great-uncle (his grandfather’s brother) was illustrator/cartoonist Jerry Iger, who partnered with illustrator/cartoonist Will Eisner back in the 1930s to create — you guessed it — the comic book packager Eisner & Iger Studios...And their first hire was Jack Kirby, who as you know later became the co-creator of many of Marvel’s best known characters with Stan Lee.

Kirby almost needs no introduction. Eisner, for those of you with less than obsessive old school comics knowledge,  is probably the comic book equivalent of John Ford with a dash of D.W. Griffith in terms of his influence on the medium as an artist/writer. He was also a very successful entrepreneur on various ends of the comic book industry for decades. (He’s best known as the creator of “The Spirit,” a great series which may take years to recover from the damage done to its memory by Frank Miller’s reprehensible film version.)

* I haven’t really had the chance to geek out with either friends or even online about how much I loved “Inglourious Basterds.”  If you were similarly entranced and want to read more, more, more about the movie, you need to check out last week’s ‘net colloquy between Dennis Cozzalio of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule and Bill R. of The Kind of Face You Hate. It’s an involved discussion that went to some surprising places as it addressed some explosive comments by film historian/critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, who eventually was mensch enough to join the discussion.

It’s a lengthy three part discussion at two sites, but probably the easiest place to start is the final post, because it has links to the previous three. Got it? There are some fairly significant spoilers hidden here and there, for sure, but if those don’t bother you too much and you haven’t gotten around to seeing the movie, you still might want to check it out. I was already spoiled on the main ones before I saw the movie, and it didn’t harm my enjoyment of it.

* One of the main villains of “Inglourious Basterds,” who has recently been making a name for himself one of the more recognizable ‘net commentators on geek matters, weighs in on last weeks “Avatar Day.” (H/t Den of Geek.)

  

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