Tuesday, June 24, 2008

News - 06/24/08...

American Greetings Fights for Strawberry Shortcake Rights

Who knew Strawberry Shortcake could be such a little troublemaker? According to a story in The Los Angeles Times, Cleveland-based American Greetings, which owns the rights to the famous ’80s character Strawberry Shortcake has won a temporary restraining order to stop the sale of licensing partner DIC to Toronto-based Cookie Jar.

DIC, which produces the new animated series based on the character, has generated over $3 billion in retail sales from the property. An Ohio judge has granted American Greetings’ request for a temporary restraining order to stop the sale of DIC to Cooke Jar. On Friday, American Greetings filed a suit that alleges that a 2001 agreement with DIC stops the firm from transferring the rights to Strawberry Shortcake without its approval.

"We expected this, and frankly we don't consider that it has any merit," Andy Heyward, chief executive of DIC Entertainment, told the L.A Times. "We are prepared to move forward with the merger, and we are moving forward."

Under the proposed deal, Cookie Jar would acquire DIC's stock for $0.7153 a share, or a total of $31.5 million. It also agreed to assume $42 million in outstanding debt and pay $14 million in transaction fees. After the merger, DIC would become a division of Cookie Jar, and Heyward will receive a five-year contact to manage DIC. Currently, the Burbank-based studio employs 220 people. The merger will create a huge library of animation (over 6000 hours) which will include DIC’s shows such as Inspector Gadget, Horseland, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sabrina and Madeline with Cookie Jar’s family of series such as Caillou, Johnny Test and Magi-Nation. Cookie Jar will also acquire DIC’s one-third interest in the international TV channel KidsCo, which is also owned by NBC-Universal and Corus Entertainment.

Toper Taylor, president of Cookie Jar Entertainment, said the acquisition of DIC would add a valuable licensing and merchandising business to Cookie Jar's portfolio. "We spent more than a decade arm-wrestling each other for network [time] slots," Taylor told the Times. "But we've always engaged in mutual admiration."

Smart, Panda Top Box Office

Warner Bros.’ update of the ’60 television spy spoof Get Smart successfully infiltrated the North American box office over the weekend. The Steve Carrell vehicle earned an estimated $39 million and easily took the top spot from Universal’s and Marvel Studios’ CG-laden The Incredible Hulk. The DreamWorks Animation/Paramount action-comedy Kung Fu Panda is showing staying power by apparently holding onto the No. 2 spot in its third week in theaters. The toon has grossed roughly $155.5 million domestically and $42.6 internationally for worldwide total nearing $200 million.

According to BoxOfficeMojo.com, Panda squeaked by last week’s box office champ with an estimated $21.7 to Hulk’s $21.5 million. Unless the actual results tip the scale in Hulk’s favor, the superhero flick will have to settle for third place in its second week. Though critics have been far more supportive of this latest attempt at a Hulk feature, Marvel and Universal must be concerned by a 61% drop off in attendance. The pic has little chance of matching the success of big brother Iron Man, which has earned more than $300 million for Marvel and Paramount since opening in May and remains a top-ten box-office contender.

Brutalized by critics, Paramount’s Mike Meyers comedy The Love Guru managed an estimated $14 million to debut at No. 4. Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox’s M. Night Shyamalan thriller The Happening suffered a steep 65% drop off in its second week, earning $10 million to bring its domestic gross to about $50.2 million.

Five weeks out of the gate, Paramount’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has dropped out of the top five, adding an estimated $8.5 million to bring its North American draw to more than $290 million. Foreign audiences have given Dr. Jones an even bigger homecoming, buying tickets to the tune of roughly $359 million and driving the worldwide gross to around $650 million, enough to beat Iron Man on a global scale.

A new major contender enters the ring this coming weekend as Disney/Pixar’s highly anticipated new animated feature, WALL●E, makes its way to theaters. Watch the trailer and behind-the-scenes videos on AniMagTV.

Simpsons Tops EW’s Best Show List

Entertainment Weekly (EW) has released its list of new classic TV shows, placing FOX’s The Simpsons at No.1 in the rundown of the 100 best television programs to debut between 1983 and 2008. Other animated programs making list include Comedy Central’s South Park (No. 12), MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head (No. 38), FOX’s Family Guy (No. 65), FOX’s King of the Hill (No. 80) and Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants (No. 89.)

EW has also put out a list of new classic movies, with Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story (1995) at No. 5 behind Pulp Fiction (1994), The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003), Titanic (1997) and Blue Velvet (1986). The first outing for Woody and his plastic friends is the only animated feature to make the top ten. It was also recently named by The American Film Institute (AFI) as the sixth greatest animated movie of all time. Read more on that at www.animationmagazine.net/article/8485.

Disney’s The Lion King, which became the highest grossing animated movie after its release in 1994, also made the EW movie list at No. 20. Other toons recognized by the publication include DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek (No. 25), Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles (No. 35) and Paramount’s South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (No. 100). See EW’s lists of modern classics in TV, film, music, video games and various other categories at www.ew.com.

Cents and sensibility

Toon marketing budgets rising

From Variety, comes an article about how expensive selling the latest big budget animated feature is...

The characters may be cute. The plots may be funny. But Hollywood isn't finding anything hilarious about marketing animated movies.

Over the last five years, toons were the most expensive movies to promote, easily costing tens of millions more than the average pricetag to promote live-action features.

Disney and DreamWorks Animation are the top spenders and, whether intentional or not, it's become a Coke vs. Pepsi kind of battle.

This year isn't expected to prove any different.

Despite costly campaigns for "Iron Man" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," Disney-Pixar's "Wall-E" is expected to easily become the year's most marketed movie, with DreamWorks' "Kung Fu Panda" coming close behind.

Last year, "Ratatouille" topped the marketing charts, with Disney spending $54 million to cook up ads for the Pixar-produced pic, according to TNS Media Intelligence. That's compared to the $46.8 million Paramount and DreamWorks spent to tout "Transformers" that year.

To put that into perspective, the industry average to promote a pic was $35.9 million last year, according to the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

"Cars," "The Polar Express" and "Finding Nemo" led each annual list, respectively, before that.

Four toons broke the top 10 in ad spending in 2007 and 2004:
"Ratatouille," "Bee Movie," "Shrek the Third" and "Meet the Robinsons" in '07, and "Polar Express," "Shark Tale," "The Incredibles" and "Shrek 2"
three years earlier.

Only 2005 was an unusual year, in which live-action pics dominated. Yet "Madagascar," "Robots" and "Chicken Little" still spent considerable coin for ads that year, with DreamWorks' zoo animal adventure leading with $44.8 million.

There's a reason for the high cost to hype toons.

For one, it pays off handsomely at the box office, attracting families and repeat viewing from younger auds.

They also bring in considerable coin from DVD sales and vidgames. Off the screen, they amass millions more from merchandise and toy sales, or as attractions that lure tourists to theme parks.

Disney-Pixar is still enjoying robust income from "Cars," which is expected to sell $2.5 billion in merchandise this year and has revved up $5 billion in just merchandise sales since its release in 2006.

Because of such huge returns from ancillaries, studios will continue to make the huge outlays for promotion and marketing.

"You're not just selling a movie anymore," says one ad exec that creates campaigns for studio pics. "There's the movie, the toys, the theme park ride and all that has to appeal to everyone. It takes a lot of money to reach everyone."

There's also the stock price.

DreamWorks Animation is a publicly traded company and relies on the success of its pics to prop up its shares.

This year, the company is relying on "Kung Fu Panda" for most of its revenue, so it needs the film to do well. The same was true for Pixar Animation Studios before Disney acquired it. Each pic affected the company's stock. Even the type of buzz each film was generating had an impact on shareholders before the films unspooled.

So a big spend can pay off.

Naturally, it costs more to market a property no one's ever heard of. That's especially true when you're trying to get kids interested -- a demo already barraged by other options at the multiplex, TV shows on the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon, as well as online communities and videogames.

That pressure to perform has forced studios like Warner Bros. to go on ad-buying spending sprees with releases like "Polar Express" and "Happy Feet," or Fox with "Robots."

Still, DreamWorks spent more than the norm to push
"Kung Fu Panda"
and it resulted in a better-than-expected $60 million haul, one of the year's biggest openings and the best launch for a DreamWorks toon that wasn't a sequel. The result now opens the doors for a followup.

Disney and Pixar are also hoping the marketing machine behind "Wall-E" will give the pic wheels at the B.O. and ring up sales at retail. A barrage of 300 robot-themed items have rolled out onto store shelves worldwide.

The studio started pushing the pic last summer at Comic-Con in San Diego, and continued its campaign with imagery of the titular robot, as well as a Super Bowl promo leading up to its June 27 release.

At DreamWorks Animation, ad budgets have been going up each year, and with each release. For example, the studio has spent more money to push each installment of the "Shrek" franchise, despite the proven popularity of the property.

Topper Jeffrey Katzenberg already is planning on spending more to launch "Monsters vs. Aliens" next summer than any previous feature because the pic will showcase the studio's efforts to sell 3-D.

In fact, every one of its pics will be produced for the format starting with "Monsters."

The company is betting heavily that 3-D will prove a big draw for moviegoers and attract auds that may have opted to wait for the DVD release instead.

Disney also is expected to tout its own slate of 3-D pics, including re-releases of the first two "Toy Story" pics, leading up to "Toy Story 3."

You don't necessarily have to break the bank to open a toon.

Fox enjoyed big success with the "Ice Age" pics, but has kept costs down to market the movies. None ever broke the top 10 in terms of ad spenders for the years of their releases, according to TNS.

But the films consistently performed at the B.O., earning on average $185 million domestically.

The studio also was thrifty with "The Simpsons Movie," and that pic went on to earn $183 million. Its promotional partners like 7-Eleven actually generated more attention for the pic than some of the efforts from the studio.

"Again, Fox is a different animal," says one studio marketing exec. "Its entire business isn't riding entirely on the success of its animated movies. If it makes one or two that perform, great. But if that's all you have, you need those movies to make money. Just remember that saying, 'You have to spend money to make money.' "

Hulk and Iron Man Box Office Updates

ComingSoon.net has posted two separate articles on the box office results this weekend, one on the domestic figures and the other on the international results. Here are some clips from each;

Last week's top movie, Marvel Studios' The Incredible Hulk (Universal) starring Edward Norton took a 61% plunge this weekend, dropping to third place with $21.6 million just behind Kung Fu Panda with a total of $96.5 million, about $4 million behind the previous Hulk movie five years ago.

The Incredible Hulk finished a close second by grabbing $23.4 million at 4,700 theaters from 50 territories in its second weekend. "Hulk" has raised its totals to $63.3 million overseas and $159.8 million worldwide.

Having earned a badge of honor from becoming the first movie of the year to cross the $300 million mark, Marvel Studios'
Iron Man (Paramount) added another $4 million to its take, once again having the smallest drop-off from last weekend in the Top 10.

Direct The Dark Knight: Christopher Nolan

"The Dark Knight" opens July 18 in the US

Christpher Nolan made a name for himself very soon into his career with 2000’s Academy Award-nominated “Memento,” a film that highlighted the director’s penchant for uncommonly dense plotting and vivid characters. He proceeded quickly to the thriller “Insomnia” and then of course to Warner Bros. Pictures' “Batman Begins,” the critically and commercially successful resurrection of the once mortally wounded film franchise based on the DC Comics icon.

After taking a break from the Bat with 2006’s similarly well-received “The Prestige” (or, as it is known to some comics fans, “Batman Vs. Wolverine”) starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, Nolan returns to Batman on July 18 with “The Dark Knight.” The director’s bringing with him a new and improved bag of tricks that includes a screenplay tightly packed with a detective story, fan-favorite characters, intense action, some IMAX film, and a secret weapon called Heath Ledger.

For this first in a series of interviews with the cast and crew of “The Dark Knight,” CBR News along with other members of the press spoke with Christopher Nolan at the film’s location shoot in Chicago.

NOTE: This and all subsequent interviews were conducted prior to the death of Heath Ledger.

CBR: Batman is a detective. In the first film, there was a great deal of time spent explaining in very realistic detail how Batman does all these fantastic things that he does. In “The Dark Knight,” now that those things have been done, will we see Batman using his head?

Christopher Nolan: Yes. He definitely, much more easily in this story, assumes more of a detective role. That was something that was important to us to get in [“Batman Begins”]. We got it in a small way, but in dealing with the origin and dealing with all the larger aspects of the character, it became very difficult to get that in. We’re trying to get in stuff we couldn’t get into the first film, and the detective stuff is definitely one of those aspects.

Christopher Nolan on the set of "The Dark Knight"

What made you want to revisit the world of Batman?

Certainly, addressing the character of the Joker has a lot to do with it. Overall, I just very much enjoyed making the first film, but I had no real intention of doing a sequel. But having created a view of Batman’s universe and then, at the end of the film, introducing the idea, the thought of the Joker, that to me became an irresistible creative process that myself and [co-writers] David Goyer and Jonathan [Nolan] just got into. It’s a very interesting thing to sit around and think with “Batman Begins” as a prism for how you view Batman, how does that effect the way you see the Joker. Who would that guy be in our universe?

In speaking to costume designer Lindy Hemming, we learned that when she was looking for a reason as to why the Joker would dress the way he des, she came to the conclusion that he simply… would. That’s just who he is. Can we infer that in “The Dark Knight,” the Joker doesn’t have an A-B-C path from wherever he was to how he got to wherever he is now. He just is. Is that an accurate?

It is. That’s the way it is in the comics, too. If you read the first couple of appearances, he just is. I think that’s a absolutely why we wound up going in this direction. We have set out to do a more realistic version of the character that has been done before, something that fits in to our somewhat more realistic, slightly grittier view of the Batman universe. Ultimately, you accept the character just is that way. That becomes the most realistic way of doing it. We didn’t want to be pedantic in trying to find a real-world explanation for every aspect of his character. What we realized is, to a certain extent, the flamboyance of the character is who he is.

Heath Ledger's Joker has no origin, he simply is

Is The Joker a force of nature?

He is a force of nature, and once you start thinking of the character as a given -- that he is just who he is -- then the psychology of that becomes immediately very obvious, and the idea that he’s a very unusual character, a very anarchic character in our society does seem to me quite obvious. We very much took the view in looking at the character of the Joker that what’s strong about him is this idea of anarchy, this commitment to chaos. He’s not just a bank robber or an ordinary criminal who’s only in it for material gain. His chief motivation is that of an anarchist. I talked to Heath a lot about it even as we were finishing the script, and we both agreed that the most threatening force society faces is pure anarchy, someone who wants to do harm for its own sake and for his own entertainment.

What can you tell us about Heath Ledger’s performance in this role?

What Heath’s doing is very unique and, I think, pretty amazing and very frightening, as the character should be. There’s a wicked sense of humor to it, he’s extremely entertaining but he’s definitely taking it in a very scary and very intense direction.

If someone’s five-year-old wants to see this film really badly, is Heath Ledger going to scare the shit out of him?

Yes, definitely. I wouldn’t take a five-year-old. I’d wait a few years.

What if any comic books did you refer to in fleshing out your version of the Joker? The way he looks reminds one of certain versions of the Joker, particularly the work of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips in “Batman: Gotham Noir,” which depicted a Joker with facial wounds.

Scenes from "The Dark Knight"

To be honest, myself and David Goyer, we really just kind of dove in and tried to do our version of the character simply based on our memories of the comics without going back [to research]. When Jona came on board to write the first draft of the screenplay from our treatment, one of the first things he said was, “Did you read the first appearances of the character?” I said no and went back and looked at those as we were writing the script and I think we wound up very, very close to the original jumping-off point of the character in the history of the comics.

In visual terms, we really tried to just go our own way and work with Heath in developing what we thought was a good look for the character. Basically, it winds up being an amalgam of looking at everything that’s been done with the character and just processing it. Just ruminating and allowing our imaginations to remember what we remembered and then take what we took from the history of the comics and put it altogether --which is very much how we approached Batman in the first film.

Concerning Batman or Bruce Wayne, in “Batman Begins” he was depicted as a profoundly unhappy individual, for obvious reasons. Has he changed in the time between films, or is he still that tortured soul in “The Dark Knight?”

I think Batman is a more complete version of himself. He has sort of moved on, he is less tortured by his distant past. So we get to torture him all fresh! He’s never entirely free from torture, one might say.

Scenes from "The Dark Knight"

He can’t mope. He can’t have a self-indulgent angst. It has to be substantial. We tried to tell a story in the first film whereby he did confront and overcome various aspects of what drives him, of that angst, and left others hanging. So in this film we try to have the way Christian [Bale] plays the character start from that point. He’s not sitting around moping about the fact his parents got killed -- we dealt with that in the first film. But he’s nevertheless a very dark character.

“Batman Begins” concluded with a sense that for Batman and Gotham, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. Can you elaborate on that theme, and how does it effect the story and tone of “The Dark Knight?”

It’s not necessarily that things are going to get worse before they get better, although that’s certainly a theme in this film, but really the key point is Gordon’s little speech about escalation; the idea of such a radical response to crime then prompting its own radical response. At the end of the first film, when the Joker card is presented, it’s very clear that was our idea of yes, Batman’s succeeded but he’s going to prompt a very extreme response. And that’s the jumping-off point for this film, that extreme response.

There's a quote attributed to you that said Superman is sort of the way that America views itself and that Batman is the way that the rest of the world views America.

Scenes from "The Dark Knight"

That’s fantastic that’s attributed to me, but it’s not my quote, it’s Michael Caine’s. He said that to me the first time I met him, I thought it was very interesting. It was a very interesting point of view. I agree with that only in the sense that Superman is an ideal of something. I think that Batman, being a more human character, is not as ideal, and is having to deal with the consequences of his actions in a more relatable and a more human and in a more political way. That’s what I love about the character, because it means the story gets messy. It’s not always easy to figure out what is the heroic course of action, what is it okay to do? What’s the line you can’t cross as a vigilante or as somebody who works outside the law? This story gets to really explore those issues.

We constantly ask ourselves this question while writing the film and making the film, why is Batman a hero? Why is he a good guy? There are certain directions you could take -- and directions some of the fans would like to see you take -- with this character that are very, very dark and very intense, but there always has to be this guiding idea of heroism. Batman is a good guy and that’s an important question to continually ask.

Scenes from "The Dark Knight"

Your Batman movies, relative to other superhero films, employ a huge amount of supporting characters -- characters from the books, not just invented ones. By what criteria do you decide which characters to bring in? For example, in “The Dark Knight” you’ve got Sal Maroni and Lucius Fox, and on set we saw a female police officer who looked like Renee Montoya.

Yeah, she’s not Renee Montoya. We did look at using her but we wanted to change the character from the way she is in the comics, so we changed the name of the character. And that’s part of our process, we look at the demands of our story, based on our reading of various comics we’re being influenced by and everything, and as the story starts to shape itself, there’s a certain sense in which you decide which characters you’re [accurately] representing and which have changed a bit and therefore need to be our own characters. In one way, the history of the comics is helping you tell your story, that’s kind of the best way I can describe the process.

There’s certainly a legalistic aspect to it as well. I’ll sit there with David Goyer and say, “Wouldn’t it be great if this happened” and he’ll say, “Ah ha, that’s so-and-so from such-and-such.” He has a great, great knowledge of the comics and it’s very fun to sit and sort of run over stuff with him.

Playing those supporting roles are a number of incredibly talented and very famous actors like Michael Caine as Alfred, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon. What is it that you think brings such performers to a project like this?

Scenes from "The Dark Knight"

They’re all pretty excited by the nature of the material and where the story took them. The great thing about doing a sequel --that I didn’t really know until we really dived into it-- is that you’ve set up all the characters already, so you don’t have to take that time with the audience. You can take them a little further; you can jump in with them. There’s a nice familiarity to them as they first pop up on screen. You can do a little bit more with each of them, and you can do it in slightly less time -- which in a way you have to because you’re introducing new characters. To try and not make a four-hour movie, the shorthand you have with characters you already know is tremendously valuable.

Would you talk about the IMAX scene you’re shooting, and would you ever consider shooting a Batman film in 3-D?

We’re shooting various action sequences of the film in the IMAX format, and as we progress I’m sort of trying to convince everybody to shoot more and more bits of it in IMAX, but is’ a very unwieldy and burdensome format, but it’s really a pretty incredible thing to look at. I’m just having a blast working with that format. I’ve never been particularly interested in 3-D because to me, one of the things that’s just amazing, one of the things I’m trying to get back, what I love about movies is their larger than life quality. And it’s a peculier thing, the way our eyes work, that when you wear 3-D glasses to look at a 3-D image, the screen appears to be smaller. When you take the glasses off, the screen seems massive again. I’m interested in that massive canvas, that larger than life canvas that IMAX gives you. It creates an immersive quality by the clarity of its imagery and size and brightness. That gives you a great visceral sense like you would get in a 3-D movie, but it doesn’t diminish the scale of it.

Scenes from "The Dark Knight"
I also hate wearing those glasses.

All of your films are really meticulous with plotting. When you were crafting "The Dark Knight," what things could you not fit in that you would have liked to have shot?

Honestly, we’ve pretty much stuffed everything I wanted into the movie. My biggest fear right now is there’s a lot to put in that we’re shooting, and when we get to finishing the film we’ll have to be somewhat ruthless about how we put it together. We’re telling a very dense story and a very sprawling story. There are a lot of characters, a lot of plotlines, a lot of things going on. I kind of didn’t leave anything out, and I felt that would be part of the fun of doing a sequel, actually. You’re jumping into a story with a character very fully formed. We’re not having to deal with the origin of the character so we’ve got a pretty good head start. We wanted to be as ambitious as possible with the scope of the movie and what we put into it.

What makes a good sequel?

Christopher Nolan on the set of "The Dark Knight"

I think a good sequel is a film that feels inevitable. When you go back and you see the first film, you completely understand the story had to continue into the second film. I wouldn’t be making this film if it didn’t have that feeling about the story, how that has to continue. I think the pitfalls are simply repeating yourself. I think we’re not doing that at all. We’re really very much creating the second half of a story.

Do you have any such feelings of inevitability for a third film?

No, I’m very interested in this film. Honestly, I’m sure you could look back at all the things I said during the making of the first film and how I wanted [the focus] to be on the first film, and that was a very genuine process. For me, having a great story of two halves is something I’m really aiming for with this movie. So when people see this movie, they feel they’ve seen a complete story.

G.I. Joe Will Show the Rise of Cobra

The Cinema EXPO in Amsterdam, The Netherlands kicked-off today and a new poster for Paramount Pictures' "G.I. Joe" movie has already been spotted. The poster, featuring Channing Tatum as Duke, reveals that the full title for the movie is G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. What we're not sure about is if this is only for international territories, but the fact that Hasbro has the domain name GIJoeRiseofCobra.com registered is a pretty good indication that it will be the title here as well.

The Stephen Sommers-directed film, co-starring Dennis Quaid, Sienna Miller, Ray Park, Rachel Nichols, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Said Taghmaoui, Marlon Wayans, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Arnold Vosloo and Christopher Eccleston, opens in theaters on August 7, 2009.

Here is the poster, courtesy of Film1.nl.

Sony Teases The Green Hornet

We're almost exactly two years away from the release of Columbia Pictures' The Green Hornet on June 25, 2010, but the Sony-owned studio has already released the logo for the comic book adaptation that will star Seth Rogen in the title role. The action adventure, co-written by Rogen and Evan Goldberg, will bring to life the story of the masked fictional crime fighter and his similarly masked Asian manservant Kato.

Iron Man 2 Rumors

I’ve been looking around and reading different things regarding Iron Man 2 and I took a moment to find some rumors that are pretty solid, but still just rumors. There’s information that we got from the Iron Man film that is pretty straight forward about various characters we might see, but it’s still not known what the overall plot will be. So sit back and read up on these possible Iron Man rumors that I read on the net, and be warned if you don’t want to know, some of the stuff might be spoilers:

You’ve been warned!

Jon Favreau planned Iron Man as the first in a trilogy.

According to MTV Movie Blogs in July of last year Favreau believed the sequel will allow latitude in tone, and explore darker story elements such as alcoholism, which he intentionally set aside from the first film.

Wikipedia reminds us that Robert Downey Jr. has said “the next one is about what do you do with the rest of your life once you’ve completely changed. I think the drinking and all that stuff would be a good way to confront his age, to confront his doubts, to confront the fact that maybe Pepper gets a boyfriend.”

Downey and Favreau met with Shane Black, who suggested they model Stark on Robert Oppenheimer, who became depressed with being “the destroyer of worlds” after working on the Manhattan Project.

Terrence Howard added this would be the manner in which his character would become War Machine, like in the comics: Rhodes built his own suit after temporarily becoming Iron Man when Stark succumbed to alcoholism.

Favreau perceived depicting Iron Man’s nemesis, the Mandarin, as a challenge, as he finds the use of the character as a metaphor for communism dated.

There are references to the Mandarin into the first movie, primarily with the terrorist organization named the Ten Rings.

Super Duper Rumors:

The sequel will heavily focus on War Machine. Says Howard, “Judging from how that audience responded, we got a pretty good shot of having some War Machine go down.” (MTV.com)

Thor will appear in the sequel, setting up the Thor film.

Iron Man will face off against Mandarin in the sequel.

Captain America’s shield has been spotted lying around Tony Stark’s workshop; there have been rumors that Captain America will be interwoven in the second film’s story line to set up the Captain America film, due out shortly after Iron Man 2.

So there you have it.

Also check out the video below.

'Wolverine And The X-Men' Pilot To Premiere at San Diego Comic Con

According to Marvel.com, the 90 minute pilot for the upcoming Wolverine And The X-Men animated series will premiere at this Summer's San Diego Comic-Con. The site also has a new clip from the show.

Wolverine And The X-Men and the upcoming Iron Man: Armoured Adventures are set to premiere on Nicktoons in Early 2009. Wolverine will premiere on the BBC in the UK in August 2008.

More G.I. Joe and Dragonball Posters!

In addition to this morning's new G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra poster featuring Channing Tatum as Duke, Film1.nl has added two more photos of posters featuring Sienna Miller as Baroness and Ray Park as Snake Eyes. Just click the links to check them out.

The site has also posted the first official poster for Dragonball which you can view here.

The site has also added previously-seen artwork for Hancock, Wanted, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Watchmen and The Dark Knight.

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