Disney, Diablo, and the King Kirby clan’s Spidey claim

Just  a few interesting items in recent movieworld news.

* Nikki Finke selects a possible future “toldja” candidate for the next Disney chairman. Toothy, bespectacled Rich Ross is not a name that’s likely to excite movie fans, as his background is pretty much Disney Channel material. Interesting comments on this one.

* Fresh on the heels of the bad box office of  the graphic comedy horror flick, “Jennifer’s Body,” “Juno” authoress Diablo Cody’s next outing will be a major dialing down of the “edgy” factor, as she will be adopting the Sweet Valley High book series for the movies. I had only heard of the television series until I saw this item, but according to the Heat Vision blog, a humongous 150 of the books were published between 1983 and 2003 and 60 million copies are in print. That’s not small and reminds me of a female-skewing variant on classic pulp series based on characters like the Shadow and Doc Savage.

Attaching Cody to this project strikes me as a canny move. Not only is she apparently a fan, but giving it to a writer with a known “edge” might broaden the appeal to cynics and, possibly, males. I’m far from Cody’s biggest fan, but I’m still a lot more likely to check out the movie than I would have been otherwise.

* Also courtesy of Heat Vision, the Jack Kirby estate law suit against the Disney owned Marvel continues to play out. The THR blog’s Borys Kits and Matthew Belloni say that they’ve seen some of the legal “termination notices” and that this might be a more sweeping suit that was thought. To me, the really interesting portion of this is that one of the notices was for Spiderman, a character Kirby never drew that’s usually credited largely to the eccentric and brilliant Steve Ditko. However…

According to several accounts, Kirby, with his Captain America co-creator Joe Simon, did create a character called the Silver Spider, whose alter ego was an orphaned boy living with two elderly people, and that character was morphed into Spider-Man. Other accounts have the Silver Spider becoming the Fly for another comic company.

It gets a lot broader than that, with the Kirby claiming some possession of several Spidey supporting characters, but that may be just so much legal jockeying. We’ll see.

  

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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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Funny book sequels

Updates….

* A couple of addenda of yesterday’s DC demi-bombshell. First, Heidi MacDonald allows us to “Meet Diane Nelson.” The woman who’ll sooon be running DC spoke to Sharon Waxman at The Wrap and did joint interviews with soon to be former DC Comics president Paul Levitz for Comic Book Resources and Newsarama. Apparently part of the function is to reassure fans that the new DC will be “talent friendly” and that the highly regarded Levitz wasn’t too unhappy to be nudged aside after seven year’s in the prexy-seat.

So, what does “Kremlinologist” MacDonald make of the interviews:

…the emphasis on creators and their importance is heartening. Surely the person who negotiated the interests of J.K. Rowling understands the importance of the sole creator and inspiration, without which big corporations just turn out things like Loonatics. At the same time, the lack of mentions of the phrase “comic books” in most of the answers is troubling.

Of course, Nelson admits readily to not being “by nature” a comic book fan, and she will not be the publisher. Look for the selection of the person to fill that role to be receiving some serious geek attention in coming weeks.

* A fun piece of fall-out from Disney/Marvel merger is the talk of Pixar taking on the planned Ant Man movie, an even more fun thought given that the project when last heard of was resting in the capable and fanboy-approved hands of writer-director Edgar Wright of “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” Well, CHUD’s Devin Faraci managed to get a missive from Wright who confirmed his ongoing involvement, but not so much Pixar’s.

The news that Pixar is involved is not wholly accurate and a little premature to comment on. I love Pixar’s work more than anyone and indeed would love to collaborate with them.

I’m not sure though that they would want to do a ‘shrinking’ film as a Pixar animation – since Toy Story and A Bug’s Life already cover this territory to some extent…My spin on Ant Man is very different than a straight superhero origin – and very much live action.

Sounds fun, regardless.

ant-man-edgar-wright

  

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