THE PLAYLIST – One of the big narratives in terms of superhero movies over the summer has been the lack of women-led movies in the genre: despite the success of everything that Marvel does, Kevin Feige has remained non-committal in terms of the studio putting out a film with a female lead. And Warner Bros. may have cast Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in “Batman Vs. Superman” but don’t appear to have made any strides forward in terms of giving the character her own solo movie.
And a backlash is starting to form: Jessica Chastain, being as awesome as she is, spoke up in favor of Scarlett Johansson (who had a monster hit with “Lucy” this summer) getting her own Marvel movie in the last week, and now one of Johansson’s co-stars has weighed in, with Robert Downey Jr, the figurehead of the Marvel movies, also speaking up in favor of a solo “Black Widow” film.
Speaking to USA Today (via Latino Review), Tony Stark himself spoke up in favor of the female character in Marvel movies, saying “Look, I think that the interesting thing particularly after Guardians with Zoe (Saldana), (or) even from the first Iron Man where Pepper was kind of this really – to me the Iron Man franchise would never have taken off without (Gwyneth) Paltrow. There’s something about her that grounded the story. She’s not your typical lady in a superhero movie, and then by ‘Iron Man 3′ she’s swallowing serums and putting on suits and kicking (butt) and all that stuff.” But the actor also added that he’d like to Johansson get top-billing on a project: “It would be kind of more appropriate for a character that already was like a Black Widow (to lead a movie). It just seems like whatever Scarlett does people want to go see it.”
Notwithstanding that the disappointing box office of the awesome “Under The Skin” doesn’t quite back that up, point taken. But that’s not the only Marvel spin-off that Iron Man wants to see. “The funny thing is,” he says,’ honestly, at this point, everyone deserves a franchise. I think Jeremy Renner is—when folks see “Avengers: Age of Ultron” he’s just a rockstar, a badass. And Ruffalo is pumped. He does great (work). I’d like to hear them talk even more seriously about a Hulk franchise, because that’s been one of the toughest ones to get right. But I’m sure that my parent company is feeling expansive and and bold after the summer they’ve had.”
Your move, Marvel. Given the potential of a Hulk or Black Widow movie, or even of a modestly-budgeted “Hawkeye” movie inspired by Matt Fraction’s incredible recent run in the comics, these all seem like good ideas, even if Marvel has other franchises they want to launch too. In the meantime, Downey Jr’s about to open the Toronto International Film Festival with “The Judge” —look for our review in the next few days. And the whole gang will be seen in next summer’s “Avengers: Age Of Ultron.”
VOGUE – She may have created costumes for some of the biggest films of the past 20 years – from The Hunger Games and Harry Potter to Eighties classic Big – but Judianna Makovsky says there’s no doubt about which is the biggest challenge: superhero movies. The costume designer, who has won awards for her creations across many genres, including period dramas, says that her work on the recent Captain America: The Winter Soldier came with challenges not experienced on every film set.
“Well, firstly the directors wanted the clothes to look less superhero and more real; so not a colourful spandex suit,” she explained. “We look to the past for movies like this – the comics, previous adaptations – and we don’t want to stray too far from what the character ‘should’ look like, but also Disney didn’t want it to look exactly the same. The costumes have to look new. Marvel has an incredible knowledge of the character, so we work with them throughout the process, but – although they have to be recognisable – the characters do inhabit different worlds in different films. There’s a lot to balance. Superhero films are definitely the most labour-intensive for a costume designer.”
Working with the actors on set, and in pre-filming fittings, is part of that job, said Makovsky, but it is even more crucial on action-heavy movies – since the costumes must work physically as well as aesthetically. Scarlett Johansson’s character, The Black Widow, is as feisty as she is sexy, which provided its own challenges.
“Scarlett didn’t actually start to fit for the catsuit until two days before we started shooting, so we had to do lots of trials and testing in quite a short timeframe,” Makovsky explained. “It was a challenge to get that many looks done in time. We work very closely with the actors on an action movie. We’ll make different versions of the same costume depending on what she’s doing: boots with running heels, fighting heels, standing heels; costumes that will allow her to kick; others that will accommodate a harness. I supervise all the props as well – shields for every purpose, and masks for different scenes as well. Some parts of the job are more product design than costume. Film is the art of collaboration.”
Multi-million-pound franchises being what they are, Makovsky’s costumes have a life far beyond the film – not to mention the thousands of fans who dissect her work on forums. Although it’s not the first time she’s seen little versions of her work running around – since past films, including Harry Potter, engendered a wealth of merchandise – how does it feel seeing her work worn in the form of dressing-up costumes by children everywhere?
“It’s fun,” she smiled. “The costume designers are actually not involved in merchandise so much – I wish they would involve us more – so sometimes you see a cheap copy and think ‘Oh!’ – but the Captain America ones look great.”
VARIETY – Scarlett Johansson action fantasy Lucy has made the best first-day bow of any Luc Besson film ever in the director’s native France.
Distribbed by Besson’s own EuropaCorp Distribution, Lucy nuked all opposition, taking a 43% market shasre and storming on Wednesday to 351, o54 tix sales off 615 copies, per CBO-BoxOffice.com: About $3.0 million in one-day gross box office. Figure does not include prior sneak-peak premieres.
Opening marks the best-ever first day for a Besson-directed movie – and many of the 55-year-old director’s titles have gone boffo in France – and the fourth-best first day of any film this year, only bettered by Fox’s How To Train Your Dragon 2 (427,234 admissions) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Dany Boon’s Superchondriac, distribbed by Pathe (367,153).
After Superchondriac, Lucy is the second best first day for any French film this decade.
Explanations for the boffo opening: Huge anticipation at Besson’s return to an action format, his first since 1997’s The Fifth Element; Johansson’s star turn; Lucy’s muscular U.S. debut.
“It’s a tremendous opening that confirms the good trend for French movies this year, after the huge success of comedies in the first semester (‘Serial (Bad) Weddings,’ and others), said Eric Marti at Rentrak.
“Lucy” will have to show long, long legs of course to equal Besson’s top-three hits in France with movies he’s directed, which are, per Rentrak: 1987’s Le gran bleu (9.2 million admissions); 1997’s The Fifth Element (7.7 million); 2005’s Arthur and the Invisibles (6.4 million).
I’ve uploaded scans from the June issue of Empire to the gallery. I know, I’m more than a little late adding these but there is a nice little feature on Lost in Translation featuring some behind the scenes photos of Scarlett and Bill Murray that I haven’t seen before now. Hopefully this is something new for you too. Enjoy.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy opened to a winning $44 million at the North American box office, an impressive start for an action film featuring a female heroine. The movie, directed by Luc Besson, easily showed more muscle than Dwayne Johnson’s epic Hercules, which debuted at No. 2 to roughly $29 million for director Brett Ratner.
The pair of new offerings weren’t able to cure the ailing box office. North American revenue was once again down, this time by nearly 12 percent from the same weekend a year ago (the summer continues to be down by more than 20 percent).
Paramount and MGM, which partnered on Hercules, have much more at stake financially since the movie cost at least $100 million to make and had hoped it would do more domestically. However, the movie is making up ground overseas, where it took in $28.7 million over the weekend from its first territories, including a stunning $12 million in Russia. It has yet to open in much of Europe, Latin America or in larger Asian markets.
Lucy was produced by Besson’s EuropaCorp for a reported $40 million and is being released by Universal. The R-rated movie co-stars Morgan Freeman and features Johansson as a woman who ingests a drug that gives her extraordinary abilities. The movie only earned a C+ CinemaScore, although that didn’t seem to slow traffic on Friday.