Will ‘Star Wars’ Comics Stay at Dark Horse?

October 31, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Perhaps the geek culture company with the most at stake in the Disney-Lucasfilm deal (see "Disney Acquires Lucasfilm") is Dark Horse, which has been producing Star Wars comics under license from Lucasfilm for decades. Just in September, Dark Horse released four Star Wars comic titles (see "Top 300 Comics–September 2012") and two Star Wars graphic novels (see "Top 300 Graphic Novels–September 2012").

The book collections are especially important, as they’re bestsellers in the book market as well as being important in comic stores. And the new book releases feed into Dark Horse’s extensive library of in-print Star Wars collections that form a key portion of the Dark Horse book backlist.

Disney already owns a comic publisher, Marvel, which it acquired in 2009 (see "Disney Buys Marvel"). Marvel had the Star Wars license before Dark Horse acquired it, and Dark Horse has done far better with the franchise than Marvel did. But the temptation to bring the Star Wars comic publishing operation in house will be strong.

Dark Horse declined to reveal when its current license for Star Wars ends, but did provide the following statement from CEO Mike Richardson. "Dark Horse and Lucasfilm have a strong partnership which spans over 20 years, and has produced multiple characters and story lines which are now part of the Star Wars lore," he said. "Star Wars will be with us for the near future. Obviously, this deal changes the landscape, so we’ll all have to see what it means for the future."

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Disney Buys LucasFilm For 4 Billion Dollars

October 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Huge news from Disney, which is under the relatively new steerage of Alan Horn. CNBC was first to report via twitter that Disney has purchased Lucasfilm, paying the same amount for the company that it did for Marvel a few years ago: $4b in cash and stock.

THR quickly confirmed the report, saying that current LucasFilm co-chair Kathleen Kennedy will become president of LucasFilm, as we’ve more or less known would happen. The bigger news is that THR mentions that a new Star Wars film is planned for 2015. Kennedy will be the exec producer of Star Wars: Episode VII and future Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas acting as “creative consultant.”

Read a statement from Lucas after the break.

Here’s what Star Wars and LucasFilm creator George Lucas had to say:

For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.

Yahoo Finance reports:

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Lucasfilm, a leader in entertainment, innovation and technology, including its massively popular and “evergreen” Star Wars franchise and its operating businesses in live action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post production. Disney will also acquire the substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies that have kept audiences enthralled for many years. Lucasfilm, headquartered in San Francisco, operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, and the present intent is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations.

In a conference call, Disney execs discussed the previous success that Disney and LucasFilm have had together, and the idea of bringing together the companies, their stable(s) of characters, and approach to creative content, based in part on the early experience of featuring Star Wars content in Disney theme parks.

Star Wars Episode VII will be released in 2015, and followed by Episodes VIII and IX, with long-term plans including a “new Star Wars film every two to three years.” Those will be part of Disney’s overal eight to ten film per year plan. The Indiana Jones franchise is mentioned in the call, but one “encumbrance” of Indy is the fact that Paramount has released those films, so Disney can’t quickly begin making new films in that franchise.

Star Wars is clearly the focus of Disney’s interest. Use of Star Wars in games, parks, and television mentioned as well, with no specifics. The deal specifically brings the already in-development Episode VII to Disney; which is to say, there’s a good amount of work done on that film already, with plans in place for the next two episodes as well. And one mention in the conference call is that Lucas has consulted on the currently in-development Episode VII, “but it is his intent to retire.”

Disney Announces ‘Ant-Man’ Movie for Nov.5, 2015

October 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

At long last The Walt Disney Company has finally set a release date of November 5th, 2015 for a film based on Marvel Comics’ Ant-Man. Writer/director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) has been working on a Hank Pym epic since 2006. Even after Wright showed off an Ant-Man test reel at Comic Con (see “Ant-Man Test Reel”), and Wright’s longtime collaborator Simon Pegg indicated that Ant-Man would start filming in 2013 (see “Ant-Man to Film Next Year?”), many comic fans remained skeptical of seeing an Ant-Man movie anytime soon, at least until today’s announcement.

While the test reel did show how Wright could present the character and deal with the problems of scale, it didn’t really give much of a clue about the nature of the film. In the past Wright has indicated that, at least in his first draft, he saw the movie as a sort of high concept caper that involved a main character with a very specific skill set. In a 2010 interview with Box Office, he described his concept for an Ant-Man film as “a high-concept genre film where it’s within another genre. His suit and its power is the big gadget and it (the story) takes place in the real world.” Wright also noted that his script was “funny, but it’s a genre film. It’s about the level of comedy that Iron Man has.”

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Stan Lee Media sues Disney for billions over Marvel characters

October 10, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Undeterred by numerous legal setbacks, failed dot-com Stan Lee Media on Tuesday filed a $5.5 billion copyright-infringement lawsuit against Disney, claiming the entertainment giant doesn’t actually own the Marvel characters featured in such blockbuster films as The Avengers, X-Men: First Class and Thor, and the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.  The dollar amount reflects the estimated revenue from box-office receipts, licensing and merchandising dating back three years, the statute of limitations for copyright infringement.

The complaint, filed in federal court in Colorado and first reported by Deadline, has its roots in Marvel’s 1998 bankruptcy, when CEO Isaac Perlmutter ended the $1 million-a-year lifetime contract with Stan Lee, negating the legendary writer’s assignment to the company of his rights to his co-creations. It also freed Lee to form Stan Lee Entertainment, which later merged with Stan Lee Media, with infamous entrepreneur Peter F. Paul. That company in turned filed for bankruptcy in February 2001; just four months after SLM emerged from protection in November 2006, shareholders filed a $5 billion lawsuit against Marvel. Stan Lee Media has had no connection to its co-founder and namesake in more than a decade; in fact, the two have sued each other on a few occasions.

That 2007 action, and virtually every one since then, hinges on a sequence of events that took place between August 1998, when Marvel terminated Lee’s employment, and November 1998, when Lee entered into a new agreement with the House of Ideas and signed over his likeness, and any claims to the characters. Stan Lee Media has long claimed that on Oct. 15, 1998, Lee transferred to that company the rights to his creations and his likeness. SLM asserts in the latest lawsuit that neither Marvel nor Disney, which bought the comic company in 2009, has ever registered Lee’s November 1998 agreement with the U.S. Copyright Office.

In what makes for entertaining reading, SLM retraces the tangled web of lawsuits — the company characterizes it as a “somewhat tortured history” –which zigzags through at least three jurisdictions and spans more than five years, right up to Aug. 23, 2012. It’s that last date The Hollywood Reporter contends could signal doom for the company’s current action. In the August decision, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson dismissed a 2007 SLM claim against Lee and his POW! Entertainment, citing res judicata, which the judge said barred any lawsuits based on “any claims that were raised or could have been raised in a prior action.”

Stan Lee Media has appealed Wilson’s ruling to the Ninth Circuit, but considering the company’s “somewhat tortured history” of courtroom defeats, that avenue doesn’t look promising. However, the plaintiff seems to be pinning its hopes on the argument that, because Disney didn’t enter the picture until 2009, the court will view its conduct as separate from the 2007 lawsuit.

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‘Finding Nemo’ Sequel Actually Happening With Director Andrew Stanton

July 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Finding Nemo

By Meg Malone

Let the happy memories of swimming along with Marlin and Dory (well, minus a few perils of the ocean here and there) come flooding back, because there’s some exciting news on the Pixar front. In an exclusive report, Deadline confirmed that Andrew Stanton will be back for the sequel to the 2003 underwater adventure, "Finding Nemo."

Stanton directed and also co-wrote the screenplay for the original "Finding Nemo," which won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. He later directed "Wall-E," which also earned an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and more recently, Stanton directed the live-action "John Carter," which premiered in March but unfortunately wasn’t as hot a box office commodity as was hoped.

Deadline reported that the studio is said to be impressed with the concept Stanton has for the "Finding Nemo" sequel — though, Deadline also noted that when it comes to development, Pixar doesn’t provide comments. According to The Hollywood Reporter, in addition to Stanton joining the sequel as the director, the film will also be written by Victoria Strouse and produced by Lindsey Collins, and there is a potential 2016 theatrical release.

Spoiler Alert: Nemo was found by the end of the first movie, so we’re wondering what direction this new project may take. I’m hoping we won’t have to completely re-live the stress of Nemo’s disappearance for a second time for the sake of avoiding emotional trauma. In any case, the ocean is a pretty big place, so we’re sure something good will be dreamed up for our aquatic friends.

If you absolutely cannot wait for the sequel, fear not because as Deadline reminded us in their report, this September, "Finding Nemo" will be getting a 3-D theatrical re-release. I would love if some sort of marketing push was done to make 3-D goggles instead of 3-D glasses. Let’s get that petition started!

What do you think a "Finding Nemo" sequel could look like? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter!

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Rumor: Disney Is Developing A ‘Hocus Pocus’ Sequel

July 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

My memories of the 1993 Kenny Ortega film Hocus Pocus are of its purple VHS box sitting on a shelf in my local video store, always rented out. The film starred Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as witches who terrorize a small town on Halloween and was a moderate hit for Disney, raking in about $40 million at the box office. It still remains a fan favorite among adults who saw it in their formative years too, largely in part to those video rentals.

Almost 20 years later, Moviehole.net reports Disney is developing a sequel called Hocus Pocus 2: Rise of the Elderwitch. Could the witches ride again? Read more after the jump.

Moviehole.net says the film is strictly at the development stage and none of the principals are likely to return, however, we’re calling it a rumor because a Disney spokesperson denies it. Does that mean it’s not true? Not necessarily. If it is, though, expect some kind of official news break soon as Moviehole’s source believes Disney wants to have the film out next year.

Now, assuming this is true (which is admittedly a big assumption) there’s no indication if it’ll be a full theatrical release or a direct-to-DVD project. That likely depends on the cast, which in turn depends on the script.  It’s also important to note that since Rich Ross left Disney, the company has slowly started moving away from the huge mega blockbusters. Maybe a moderately priced nostalgic trip like this is the new direction the studio is taking. If that’s the case, I think it’s probably a smart move.

And what do you make of the title, Rise of the Elderwitch? For me, it obviously signifies an expansion of the Hocus Pocus universe, hinting as some supreme being, but also sounds suspiciously like something from Lord of the Rings.  That will make a marketing team happy.

Do you have fond memories of Hocus Pocus? Do you think this is a smart move if it’s happening?

The Avengers Passes $1 Billion Mark Worldwide in 19 Days!

May 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Walt Disney Pictures reports that Marvel’s The Avengers is expected to cross the $1 billion global box office mark today on its 19th day of release! It will be the first Marvel film and fifth Disney release to reach $1 billion.

Domestically, the Joss Whedon action adventure added $103.2 million, which is the first time in history a film has crossed the $100 million mark its second weekend. Last weekend, the film set the opening weekend record with $207.4 million. Internationally, "The Avengers" earned $95.4 million this weekend. The film has earned an estimated $373.2 million now in North America and $628.9 million overseas for a worldwide total of $1,002.1 million.

That means in just 19 days, the $220 million-budgeted film has surpassed The Dark Knight‘s $1,001.9 million and has climbed to the 11th spot on the all-time worldwide list. It’s also the fastest film to reach the $200 million mark domestically in three days, the fastest to reach $300 million in nine days, it has the highest Saturday ($69.5 million) and Sunday ($57 million) totals of all time, and the second-biggest single-day gross of all time ($80.8 million).

Internationally, "The Avengers" began opening April 25 and is the biggest opening weekend of all time in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Central America, Peru, Bolivia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, and United Arab Emirates. "The Avengers" has now opened in all major markets except Japan (August 17).

"We’re obviously thrilled with the global success of ‘The Avengers,’" said Robert A. Iger, Disney�s Chairman and CEO. "It’s a fantastic movie and an extraordinary franchise that will continue with more great stories and compelling characters for years to come."

On May 8, Disney announced that a sequel to Marvel’s The Avengers was in development, following last month’s announcement that a follow-up to 2011′s Captain America: The First Avenger will be released April 4, 2014. A sequel to last summer’s Thor is scheduled for release November 15, 2013, and the third installment of the hit "Iron Man" series, which has earned over $1.2 billion worldwide, will arrive in theaters May 3, 2013.

Opening in second place domestically was Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, which earned an estimated $28.2 million from 3,755 theaters. Starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Eva Green, Chlo� Grace Moretz, Bella Heathcote and Gully McGrath, Warner Bros.’ big screen adaptation cost about $150 million to make.

Third place belonged to Screen Gems’ Think Like a Man, which added $6.3 million for a total of $81.9 million after three weeks.

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Disney and Marvel Announce ‘Captain America’ Sequel For May 2014

April 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

We still don’t know who will direct, and there is no confirmation of refutation of the director shortlist revealed recently, but Disney and Marvel have just announced the release date for the sequel to last year’s Captain America: The First Avenger. The film will hit on April 4, 2014. From the sound of things, the movie will also be set primarily in the present, rather than bouncing back to World War II.

Along with the announcement, the companies sent out the image above, from The Avengers. The contents of the brief press release are below.

The Walt Disney Studios has announced a release date for Marvel Studios’ sequel to the blockbuster Captain America: The First Avenger on April 4, 2014.  The second installment will pick-up where the highly anticipated Marvel’s The Avengers (May 4, 2012) leaves off, as Steve Rogers continues his affiliation with Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D and struggles to embrace his role in the modern world.

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President Of Disney Interactive Media Resigns

September 24, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Steve Wadsworth, head of Disney’s Interactive Media Group — better known to us as "the guy in charge of Disney’s video game arm" — has stepped down. According to a New York Times report, Wadsworth issued a late-night missive to his staff last Thursday announcing his resignation. "I have been thinking about this for quite some time, and while it is difficult to leave a great company, an exciting business anda wonderful group of people, my desire and excitement to pursue other opportunities is too great to ignore."

Disney confirmed the news and offered an official statement from Wadsworth: "While there is never a good time to leave a great role at a great company, for many reasons now is the right time for me to move on. I am extremely proud of the huge progress we’ve made at Disney Interactive Media Group, and am confident that the business is well-positioned for continued significant growth." The split appears to be amicable, with Disney CEO Robert Iger offering only kind words about Wadsworth (found in full after the break).

The NYT also heard from "people with knowledge of the matter" that a replacement should be revealed "shortly," with Playdom head John Pleasants allegedly being eyed for the position (a social game developer that Disney acquired earlier this year).

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Disney’s ‘DigiComics’ iPhone App Launching Worldwide In 2010

December 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Disney is rolling out a digital comics application for Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch and Sony’s PlayStation Portable globally beginning in Italy and soon to include the U.S. and UK, with rollouts in key markets throughout the world in 2010.

Disney DigiComics will begin by offering a relatively modest fifty downloadable comics featuring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and other familiar Disney characters via in-app purchases, according to the Disney Comics Worldwide blog. The company will then begin adding five to ten new comics weekly, continuing storylines.

The comics were originally created for newspapers and magazines in Disney-crazy Italy, though in the future new content may be created just for the application. Series available first, according to the report, are X-Mickey, Wizards of Mickey, The Canterville Ghost, and Phantom of the Opera. Wizards of Mickey is published in the States by Boom! Studios (see “Boom’s Disney Standards”).

Up to 50,000 stories from the Disney archives are eventually planned for release through the app, according to Italy.

The new application represents a divergence from Disney’s digital strategy for desktop, where it’s pursuing a subscription model. Disney Books is now offering over 500 titles online by subscription for an annual fee of $79.95 (see “Disney Makes Children’s Books Available Online”).

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