Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Why Am I Not Surprised?

On the geek front, there is a rolling boil on the Internets these days over reports that Marvel Studios (and its head, David Masiel) is jerking “Iron Man” director Jon Favreau around over his due compensation for helming a Shellhead sequel.

Make no mistake, a sequel will go forward – but likely with another, cheaper director who will provide a fraction of the skill Favreau did with “Iron Man.”

I hope this all proves to be false, but I’m disheartened for two reasons: 1) much of this information about Marvel Studios balking is from Favreau himself, and; 2) consider Hollywood’s history of pimping successful movie franchises for every conceivable cent, and discarding the original creative teams who made that success possible in the first place.

This same scenario reminds me of an interview I once saw with “Wayne’s World” director Penelope Spheeris, in which she described attending an early screening of the film with several studio heads anxious about its market viability. However, as the show went on and the audience clearly enjoyed it, Spheeris described the sight of these same honchos—with whom she had been standing at the back of the theatre—immediately beginning to buzz about a “Wayne’s World” sequel. And where she had been surrounded by this studio brain trust a few minutes before, Penelope soon found herself physically nudged out of the group as the sequel talk became more excited, leaving her standing alone a few feet away.

Cutting to the chase: “Wayne’s World 2” was not directed by Penelope Spheeris, but by a nameless guy with little experience whom the studio could buy for a song. This is why big box directors like Micheal Bay and Brett Rattner have become successful in Hollywood: they know how to bring a production in on budget, and deliver a splashy first weekend gross. As for details like an intelligent script, leave that to someone else.

Regardless, I’ll lose little sleep over “Iron Man 2”.

Yet if Jon Favreau is indeed cast aside by Marvel Studios like a two-dollar whore, I sincerely hope that Robert Downey Jr., and producer Peter Billingsley march out the door right after him.

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