Marvel Opens Its Secret Lair – Vanity Fair
It’s only Tuesday, and Baby Groot and I already need a nap.
Hello from Los Angeles, where we’re drinking Marvel’s Kool-Aid, watching writers take it to the brink, and crowning Adam Sandler king of Netflix.
A MARVEL-OUS EVENING, PART 1
On Monday night, my VF.com colleague Joanna Robinson and I hit an open house at Marvel Studios on the Disney lot. A bartender served Marvel-tinis (vodka, cranberry juice, triple sec, lime), an Avengers pinball machine gleamed temptingly in the lobby, and Marvel execs walked us and the rest of the L.A. entertainment-journalist press corps through their memorabilia-and-secrets-stuffed office space, currently occupying the second floor of Disney’s Frank G. Wells building “until we outgrow it,” Marvel Studios’ executive V.P. Victoria Alonso said.
Yes, at moments I felt like we were those reporters in North Korea invited to gaze upon Kim Jong Un’s giant missiles, but instead of bombs we were looking at Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige’s plans for global domination. Fortunately Feige’s future involves some promising-looking films that suggest the studio is evolving in interesting new ways (more on those below, from Robinson). The tour finished with a screening of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which includes a Sylvester Stallone appearance, no fewer than five post-credits sequences, and 1970s pop soundtrack that sent us all back to the parking structure humming the soundtrack’s 1972 pop tune, “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl).”
A MARVEL-OUS EVENING, PART 2
Robinson e-mails about what caught her eye at Marvel Monday night:
Marvel once had a reputation for prizing franchise continuity over the creative freedom of its directors, but dazzling early footage from Black Panther and a quirky new character from Thor: Ragnarok played by director Taika Waititi proved that when it comes to Ryan Coogler and Waititi, the studio has finally figured out how to let its artists do their own thing.
Pinned to the wall and tucked away inside the warren of Marvel offices was a sneak peek at one of the most anticipated characters in the studio’s near-decade-long history. Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel—the first female character to get her very own movie—may now officially have a look to go with the hype. Concept art showed Larson striking a heroic pose or two while wearing the more militaristic look her character, Carol Danvers, has been sporting since a massive redesign in 2012. No bathing suit and thigh-high boots for this superhero.
Of particular interest to devoted fans might be Carol’s hair, which is shoulder-length and possibly asymmetrical. In fact, it’s very similar to the fresh new haircut Larson was sporting at a film premiere just last week. Could it be that we’ll see Carol on-screen much sooner than expected?
W.G.A. UPDATE: YIKES
There’s more warmth between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis on Feud right now than there is between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Contract negotiations fell apart again on Monday, with the parties agreeing to return to the bargaining table next Tuesday, April 25. By then, W.G.A. members will have voted whether to authorize their negotiating team to call a strike. Tonight guild members in L.A. will start that voting process in a membership meeting at the Sheraton Universal, with online voting set to start Wednesday at 8:30 P.M. Pacific Time and conclude on Monday, April 24, at noon Pacific Time.
Based on my reporting, a yes vote seems likely, and the town is bracing for a possible work stoppage that would begin May 2. “We hope that there’s not a strike and everyone works everything out, but we’re making a plan,” said Jeremy Latcham, Marvel Studios senior vice president of production and development, during Marvel’s open house Monday night.
HALF A BILLION
VF.com’s Yohana Desta e-mails:
Ted Sarandos, a man who zealously guards Netflix’s viewership statistics like they hold the secret to Gabrielle Union’s eternal youth, has one stat he actually wants you to know: users of the popular streaming platform have watched a half a billion hours of Adam Sandler content. Take that in for a second. That’s half a billion cries for help (kidding, kidding, please put down your Little Nicky–branded pitchforks). On a practical front, the figure explains why Netflix recently expanded Sandler’s exclusive deal to include four more films, despite the fact that his projects released thus far—including Ridiculous 6, The Do-Over, and the newly released Sandy Wexler—have been torn apart by critics. Releasing the stat is Sarandos’s sly “witness me!” moment, a way to quiet the Internet’s collective groan over Sandler’s continued creative freedom at Netflix, a company he once applauded for having a name that rhymes with “wet chicks.”
ACADEMY UPDATE: DAWN HUDSON STAYS
The Academy’s board of governors has renewed C.E.O. Dawn Hudson’s contract through 2020, according to an e-mail sent to members on Monday. The contract renewal resolves one of the two big leadership questions facing the industry group, which will choose a new president this summer when Cheryl Boone Isaacs terms out of her position after four years. Hudson has held the C.E.O. gig since 2011, during a period of enormous change at the Academy that saw the passage of controversial new rules designed to foster diversity and the start of construction on the costly Academy Museum.
Variety’s Gene Maddaus and Brent Lang have a barn burner of a story that suggests the board’s debate over Hudson’s contract got hot, pitting board member and new Paramount chief Jim Gianopulos, who opposed keeping Hudson, against Annette Bening, who supported her. A major sticking point, they say, was Hudson’s stewardship of the Academy Museum, which is behind schedule and over budget.
The next question is who will get Boone Isaacs’s gig, a job that was once a lower-key position intended to fit around a full-time Hollywood job at a studio. It has grown to include more responsibility and longer hours in recent years, which may impact who raises a hand for it. Some folks considered likely contenders right now are former Academy president Sid Ganis, onetime Lionsgate co-chair Rob Friedman, and casting director David Rubin.
TONY TONY TONY
He acts! He sings! He gets people to subscribe to Netflix! And now Kevin Spacey will host the Tony Awards, happening in New York City on June 11 and airing on CBS. VF.com’s Hillary Busis breaks down the news.
That’s the news for this sunny Tuesday in L.A. What are you seeing out there? Send tips, comments, and high pinball scores to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @thatrebecca.