On Wednesday, we pointed your attention to reports of renewed, possibly contentious negotiations between Robert Downey Jr. and the good-but-stingy folks at Marvel over future Iron Man and Avengers sequels. Today, more Marvel inside baseball, this time volunteered freely via Avengers lord of the realm Joss Whedon.
See, during the chatter about Downey's paychecks, as well as the paychecks for his superhero friends, the number $100 million was thrown out for Joss. As in, $100 million to make another Avengers. $100 million?! For the guy who can barely keep a show on the air for more than a season?!! No, you're right, it was too good to be true. And Joss himself set the record straight, in his trademark cheeky manner. From his comment on the site Whedonesque (via EW):
Iron Man 3 is making money hand over fist ($678.9 million in 10 days, to be exact). Robert Downey Jr. is being paid handsomely for his services ($50 milliooooooon). What could possibly stop the beautiful Marvel-RDJ relationship from blossoming ever more? Two things: (1) Downey is not signed for any more Marvel movies. And while he's already entered negotiations for two more Avengers movies, he's not quite ready to talk Iron Man 4. And (2), Marvel, it turns out, is actually quite cheap. Just ask all the Avengers who don't have a powerful suit of armor that keeps their injured hearts beating.
Iron Man 3 opened this weekend, and it opened huge. It managed $175.3 million, which makes it the second-biggest opening ever — second behind only its own lead-in, The Avengers. As the Huffington Post points out, along with its international tally so far of $504.8 million, the flick has managed $680.1 million right off the bat.
This Friday sees the release of Iron Man 3, with Robert Downey Jr. returning to the role that took him from (hugely rewarding) indie purgatory to all-out blockbuster movie star. But there are more than two chapters to the RDJ saga, and this week the Grantland staff looks back at some of the most memorable moments of his career.
You expect a Michael Bay joint to take the top box office slot when that joint has screeching space robots, or Martin Lawrence dropping gems of knowledge and badassery, or just, generally, a whole mess of stuff exploding underneath glorious lens flare. But when Bay goes small-ball (at least by his standards), like with Pain & Gain, you don't necessarily foresee box office glory. And, yes, relative to the Transformers flicks, P&G's first-week haul was paltry: just your basic $20 million. But not only was that good enough for a no. 1 opening, it also almost recouped the entire production budget for the movie — a reported $26 million, downright peanuts for Bay — in its first weekend. Certainly, seeing this kind of result, Michael Bay will be encouraged to go only deeper and deeper into the indie/lo-fi/DIY movie world. By the end of next year, if Bay isn't shooting a black-and-white travelogue with Greta Gerwig as his leading lady and Noah Baumbach as his co-writer, frankly, I'll be shocked.
Ahead of his next just-like-clockwork blockbuster Iron Man 3, Robert Downey Jr. invited GQ’s Chris Heath to his Malibu mansion for a bit of a chat. The results are illuminating, invigorating, and well worth your time in full. But just to get you started (you really should read the whole thing), we plucked out some interesting bits.
We are willing to stipulate that the first Iron Man is among the best comic book movies of all time. Was it better than even The Avengers? Is it fanboy blasphemy to dare introduce such an idea, especially considering the Marvel All-Star Spandex and Airbrushed Body-Armor Superhero Gangbang is the third-highest-grossing film in the history of mankind? Let's table that discussion for the moment, but we will point out the fact that Iron Man didn't squander an entire set piece on propeller repair. Sorry. Things get awkward when you try to speak truth to power. To his credit, Captain America was really good at pulling that one lever labeled "FIX FLYING HEADQUARTERS."
We are also willing to stipulate, perhaps less controversially, that Iron Man 2 was a garbage fire so white-hot we've mentally recast Taylor Kitsch in it to keep recent-vintage Robert Downey Jr. pristine in our minds. Not even Mickey Rourke's electric whip burlesque rodeo could save it, no matter how many race cars he sliced in half.
John Travolta's Secret Life Surprises Kelly Preston: "Kelly was suddenly besieged by the reports of John's secret sex life." After their 11-year-old daughter asked what was up, Kelly "fell to the floor in a flood of tears. Suddenly, Kelly feels like she's been living a lie for two decades, and it's like a knife to the heart." The rumors about Travolta "have swarmed around Hollywood since at least 1990, when Paul Barresi, a gay porn star, publicly claimed that he and John were having sex." As a complete coincidence, Travolta married Preston in 1991 in "a quickie Scientology wedding ceremony." They signed a contract whose "exact contents are unknown" and "such agreements can contain almost anything — including prohibiting a spouse from speaking publicly about scandals." Jeff Conaway, who co-starred as Kenickie in Grease alongside Travolta, claims "that John once tried to perform oral sex on him while he slept." Conaway also says "that Kelly knows that John is gay" and agreed to beard for him, because she "wanted the lifestyle that comes with a marriage to a Hollywood celebrity more than love."
OK, first thing: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Robert Downey Jr. is set to make, once box office bonuses and back-end compensation is tallied, in the vicinity of $50 million for his role as Iron Man/genius billionaire playboy philanthropist Tony Stark in The Avengers. $50 million! For one movie! That's so much money! How is that possible?! Glad you asked.
There was a time, not that long ago, where we harbored an irrational fear that the Avengers movie would consist of nothing but a string of scenes of an eye-patched Samuel L. Jackson playing "Surprise!" with various Marvel characters, a neurosis fueled by that seemingly endless, years-spanning procession of post-end-credit Nick Fury teasers. Though that version wouldn't have been without its costumed peek-a-boo charms (especially if he ever tried to sneak up and pants the Hulk in a really misguided, potentially fatal recruitment pitch), it finally feels like this thing is happening. Look, here's two and a half minutes of very exciting and expensive-looking proof! High-five, Joss Whedon!
Following the lead of his Tower Heist director Brett Ratner, Eddie Murphy has dropped out of his gig as host of next February's Oscars, leaving the Academy with just over three months to find a replacement. Who should they go with? We polled the Grantland staff and have a few suggestions.
Marvel Studios is riding a nice groove heading into The Avengers, its big, ambitious, years-in-the-making, star-packed, crossover superhero flick. Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man was already a proven entity, and this summer saw the critical and box-office success for Chris Evans’ Captain America ($362 million worldwide) and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor ($448 million); all three figure prominently in the new, much-hyped trailer. Also present, though less accounted for: Iron Man 2's Scarlett Johansson, back in the Black Widow outfit; Jeremy Renner, who debuted as the archer Hawkeye in a three-second cameo in Thor; and Eric BanaEdward Norton Mark Ruffalo as Hulk. Most heartwarming of all: finally, Samuel L. Jackson, as S.H.I.E.L.D. team leader Nick Fury, gets to do more than pop up briefly in secret post-credits Easter-egg scenes. See, he’s bringing the crew together to fight an evil no one of them can handle alone, only they’re superheroes who are used to starring in their own movies, so of course they don’t trust each other. While Thor’s disgraced Norse god Loki is wreaking havoc, lots of snappy banter ensues. Cap America to Tony Stark: “Big man in a suit of armor. Take that away, and what are you?” Tony Stark: “Genius billionaire playboy philanthropist.” Thor: [hearty Viking laugh]. Anyway, this looks awesome.
The writers responsible for The Smurfs — David Stem, David Weiss, Jay Scherick, and David Ronn — will be back for Smurfs 2. In fact, because the live-action/CGI combo thing takes so long to produce, they’ve already turned in a draft of the screenplay for the 2013 sequel. People hoping for topical political humor are probably out of luck. Grade: C [HR]
Sarah Silverman’s working on a new show — about a woman re-entering single life after a decade long committed relationship — and ABC, NBC, and FOX all want it. Also, it’s being produced by Ron Howard’s Imagine TV, and Howard is apparently so into the concept that he’s tagging along to pitch meetings. Can they just make a show about Ron Howard and Sarah Silverman in pitch meetings? Grade: B+ [Deadline]