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Old 08-20-2006, 12:23 PM   #1
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Cool X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

I posted this in the wrong forum yesterday. Good read.

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Aug. 18, 2006


Fox got bigger hit, but WB happy with Singer

By Anne Thompson

As summer nears its end, "X-Men: The Last Stand," which nabbed middling reviews, seems to have exceeded expectations with a $441 million worldwide gross, while "Superman Returns" -- though it earned a strong, positive ranking of 76% on RottenTomatoes.com -- has yet to break the $200 million mark domestically. Although "Superman" is still playing overseas with a $347 million worldwide gross to date, it has failed to return on its lofty expectations. The drama behind Bryan Singer's departure from 20th Century Fox's "X-Men" franchise to direct "Superman" for Warner Bros. Pictures left much Sturm und Drang in its wake. But who were the real winners and losers on this deal?

Warners was delighted to poach Singer -- a proven tentpole director with a canny understanding of the action-adventure universe -- from Fox. He was available because Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairman Tom Rothman had been playing a game of chicken with him on his "Last Stand" deal: Singer wanted to cash in on the final installment of the "X-Men" saga. When Warners lured Singer away with the chance to direct "Superman" and a top-dollar deal -- sources say it was $10 million vs. 7% of the gross -- Rothman was livid. He promptly shut down Singer's Bad Hat Harry Prods. office on the Fox lot -- though Singer returned the next day to the Fox set of his TV series "House."

"We were in a heightened emotional state of mind," Fox president Hutch Parker says. "We believed that Bryan was going to do 'X-Men 3,' and when he made a different choice, it was scary and daunting to be losing someone so essential to the expression of the franchise. We had to rethink how to approach this. There was a lot of anxiety for everybody."

Rather than wait for Singer, Fox made the decision to go full steam ahead. "We needed the movie," Parker says, "and it was critical that it get made in that window. We were wary about where the comic movie would be in the larger cycle."

Fox first proceeded with director Matthew Vaughn and then Brett Ratner to meet the tentpole's original May 26 release date. But it cost the studio to make that target. (According to sources close to the movie, "Last Stand" cost about $168 million after tax rebates.) Producer Lauren Shuler Donner shouldered the burden of wrestling the movie into submission; the studio rushed two pricey screenwriters, Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg, to complete their scripts; and the studio paid dearly to get elaborate visual effects from about six FX houses, including Weta Digital, finished in time. In the short term, the studio clearly won the summer 2006 battle with Warners. But where is the "X-Men" franchise going forward?

Singer was the creative force behind the "X-Men" franchise, and now he's gone. Ratner is not in the picture; the sense in Hollywood is that Fox scored with "Last Stand" despite the director, not because of him. With its "X-Men" actors now too expensive to reassemble, Fox is proceeding with development on two "X-Men" spinoffs, starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (David Benioff and David Ayer have written drafts) and Ian McKellen as Magneto. The bloom is definitely off the "X-Men" rose. One could argue that in the long term, the studio would have been better off paying Singer to keep him or waiting to get him back. (Rothman and Singer eventually buried the hatchet over lunch.)

Freed from Fox's tough budget controls ("X-Men" cost $80 million and "X-Men 2" $120 million), Singer was ecstatic to be moving to a studio like Warners, which was willing to let him spend. But at the July 2005 Comic-Con International in San Diego, perhaps in a heady state of jet lag from his long flight from the "Superman" set in Australia, Singer launched the film's marketing campaign on a spectacularly wrong foot, happily proclaiming that the movie he was shooting was the studio's most expensive movie ever and might cost $250 million. From that moment on, Warners marketing tried to manage that number.

In fact, Warners failed to get out from behind that disastrous budget. The Internet ran rampant with reports that the movie was in the $300 million range. When the studio admitted to writing off about $60 million in costs from all the previous iterations of "Superman," some reporters added that to the studio's official $209 million budget -- a figure no one ever believed. If Warners had convinced Singer from the start to make a movie closer to two hours, it might have saved some money and come out ahead, instead of leaving entire $10 million sequences on the cutting-room floor.

"'Superman Returns' will be profitable for us," says Warner Bros. production president Jeff Robinov. "We would have liked it to have made more money, but it reintroduced the character in a great way and was a good launching pad for the next picture. We believe in Bryan and the franchise. Clearly, this was the most emotional and realistic superhero movie ever made."

But what really mattered to Warners was the successful relaunch of its franchise, and to that end they wanted to keep their director happy -- even if it meant letting him deliver a two-hour, 40-minute movie. "If Warners goes ahead with the 'Superman Returns' sequel," says producer Don Murphy ("From Hell"), "then they've ended up well because they've gone from having a wannabe franchise to a real franchise."

Returning to Comic-Con in July, Singer announced that he and Warners are in discussions about doing the sequel for 2009. But Singer said he "had certain issues" with Warners' marketing campaign. He also acknowledged his film's competition. "We had a little 'Pirates' and a little 'Prada.' It is a chick flick to some degree; it is a love story."

As challenging as it was for Singer to re-establish "Superman" by building on Richard Donner's 1978 classic, he also was working with a decidedly retro hero from a bygone time. There was little that Warners marketing could do to make Superman seem less square, wholesome and, finally, old-fashioned. (The "X-Men" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchises do seem younger, hipper and more dangerous.) Choosing to reprise Lex Luthor might have been a too-familiar choice as well. "Bryan kicked ass," journalist Cheo Hodari Coker says. "But the principal argument does hold: Does the world really need Superman? Clark is a big blue Boy Scout. I wonder if this generation really has any heroes. Everyone is pushing in some way to be unheroic."

But Singer does know where he has to go with the sequel. He told Comic-Can fans that he would add more "scary sci-fi in the next movie." "We can now go to into the action realm."

While some "Superman Returns" viewers objected to the addition of an illegitimate child of Lois Lane and Superman (which never appeared in any of the comic books), Singer intends to proceed with that story arc. "There's a lot of room to go with that character and his upbringing and human background and Krypton heritage," he says. "He's the genetic material of both parents. Superman doesn't have that. It's hard to write for Superman. He's a tough character to create insurmountable obstacles for. This one is unique and insurmountable." For the sequel, Singer will be able to expand and play around with what he's introduced, and "bring in more of the energy" of the contemporary comics, he promised.

Singer likely will do another movie before the sequel to "Superman Returns," according to sources, possibly Warner Independent's "The Mayor of Castro Street" or "Logan's Run" at the big studio. Finally, though, Warners president Alan Horn and production chief Jeff Robinov want this tentpole director to be making movies on their lot -- and not Fox's. And that may, in the long run, be the real payoff to their "Superman Returns" investment.

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Old 08-20-2006, 01:07 PM   #2
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Default Re: X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

Fox is soo evil.

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Old 08-20-2006, 01:19 PM   #3
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Cool Re: X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

They're the diet coke of eeevil mkay.


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Old 08-20-2006, 01:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

This got closed last time it was posted.

I would have liked greater comparison between the two movies. Essentially, X3 is briefly mentioned, and then the rest of the movie is about Superman Returns.

The clear winner in terms of box office was of course X3. Dare I say it, I also prefered X3 to SR too.

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Old 08-20-2006, 02:10 PM   #5
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Default Re: X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

I thought that SR was a better movie, but yeah X3 won at the box office.

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Old 08-20-2006, 02:17 PM   #6
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Default Re: X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

Also read the CHUD and Hotblog comments on the articles where they point out all the absurdities in the Hollywood Reporter article.

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Old 08-20-2006, 02:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

What absurdities are these?

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Old 08-20-2006, 02:38 PM   #8
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Default Re: X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

I read the CHUD article, and I find it to be just as full of absurdities as the alleged ones featured in the above article. The CHUD article claims that Berry and Jackman aren't even driving forces of the franchise.

Quote:
Does anyone really believe that Hugh Jackman or Halle Berry are opening these pictures? Give me a break . . . And Halle Berry is a non-entity at this point in the world of big budget action films or we’d all be talking about her Jinx movie.
Halle Berry may not be a huge action star, but she certainly helps. I like Ashmore, Page, and Paquin, but somehow I'm willing to bet that if Berry and Jackman's names are attached, more interest is generated.

http://www.chud.com/index.php?type=news&id=7438


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Old 08-20-2006, 02:44 PM   #9
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Default Re: X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

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Originally Posted by Avalanche
What absurdities are these?
Here's the Chud article:

http://www.chud.com/index.php?type=news&id=7438


Basically, it disputes how the HR claims "the bloom could be off the X-Men rose", when the movie clearly scored at the box office despite the high production costs and behind the scenes drama, when spinoffs are production and the franchise is moving forward...while SR has yet to make a profit and the status of the sequel is still up in the air.

Variety just did a similar article regarding SR, saying that it will ultimately be profitable, but it's going to be a long time before that happens.

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Old 08-20-2006, 02:49 PM   #10
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Default Re: X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

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Originally Posted by BMM
I read the CHUD article, and I find it to be just as full of absurdities as the alleged ones featured in the above article. The CHUD article claims that Berry and Jackman aren't even driving forces of the franchise.

Halle Berry may not be a huge action star, but she certainly helps. I like Ashmore, Page, and Paquin, but somehow I'm willing to bet that if Berry and Jackman's names are attached, more interest is generated.

http://www.chud.com/index.php?type=news&id=7438
I thought that was ridiculous too. If both of them had decided not to come back for X3, it wouldn't have made the money it did. They're clearly a draw to this franchise, even if Halle is not as well-recognized as an action star.

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Old 08-20-2006, 02:54 PM   #11
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Default Re: X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

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Originally Posted by danoyse
Here's the Chud article:

http://www.chud.com/index.php?type=news&id=7438


Basically, it disputes how the HR claims "the bloom could be off the X-Men rose", when the movie clearly scored at the box office despite the high production costs and behind the scenes drama, when spinoffs are production and the franchise is moving forward...while SR has yet to make a profit and the status of the sequel is still up in the air.

Variety just did a similar article regarding SR, saying that it will ultimately be profitable, but it's going to be a long time before that happens.
I wholeheartedly agree with CHUD's article. The X-Men franchise is in no way dead and I agree that the introduction of new characters/Next Generation mutants is the obvious way to go with X4; giving the franchise/next trilogy a fresh start. Fox would be stupid to ignore the massive potential the X-Men franchise still has!

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Old 08-20-2006, 03:00 PM   #12
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I thought that was ridiculous too. If both of them had decided not to come back for X3, it wouldn't have made the money it did. They're clearly a draw to this franchise, even if Halle is not as well-recognized as an action star.
I know. Who do they think they're kidding? The general audience may not know the difference between Cable and Cannonball, but they certainly know the difference between a no named actor playing a secondary character and Jackman's mega-Wolverine with whom they've become accustomed.

With these kinds of movies, audiences expect bigger and better things with each installment. Suddenly reducing them to no-namers and secondary characters with the assumption that they would do just as well without Berry and Jackman is ridiculous. It may have worked for X-Men back in 2000 when people weren't overly familiar with the characters . . . but the same cannot be said in 2006 after X-Men 3.


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Old 08-20-2006, 03:12 PM   #13
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Default Re: X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

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I know. Who do they think they're kidding? The general audience may not know the difference between Cable and Cannonball, but they certainly know the difference between a no named actor playing a secondary character and Jackman's mega-Wolverine with whom they've become accustomed.

With these kinds of movies, audiences expect bigger and better things with each installment. Suddenly reducing them to no-namers and secondary characters with the assumption that they would do just as well without Berry and Jackman is ridiculous. It may have worked for X-Men back in 2000 when people weren't overly familiar with the characters . . . but the same cannot be said in 2006 after X-Men 3.
And imagine if they had to recast them for some reason. Suddenly here's the trailer with...someone else as Wolverine or Storm. How much interest is that going to generate?

General audiences not only expect bigger and better with each installment, they expect the cast to continue their roles, particularly the popular ones. They see a lesser-known actor playing that role instead, and I think it would lessen the excitement for that movie, because it makes them think that something about this sequel wasn't good enough to bring the original actor back.

Look at the hype "The Prestige" is getting right now, mostly because of the casting of Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. I have yet to find an article that doesn't refer to them as Batman and Wolverine at least once. They're so connected to these roles, they can't say just the title alone is the driving force behind it's success.

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Old 08-20-2006, 03:15 PM   #14
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Default Re: X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

X1 did fairly well despite a lack of box office stars, so it's clear that the names aren't needed to sell it. However, bad publicity about cast members opting out of X3 could have hurt it, leading people to think they were getting a cheap substitute. Losing Alan Cumming wasn't a problem and most people weren't expecting Halle to return anyway, but if Hugh, Ian or Patrick had opted out things would have looked bad.

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Old 08-20-2006, 03:55 PM   #15
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X1 did fairly well despite a lack of box office stars, so it's clear that the names aren't needed to sell it.
X-Men did well for its time, but I don't think the same formula would work. After 3 films, six years, and the launching of international superstars, too much is now associated with X-men. It doesn't benefit from the unknown freshness it did in 2000. I would be willing to bet that if in a couple of years a trailer, under the title X-Men 4, were to be released with no Wolverine, no Storm, no Berry, no Jackman, no McKellen, no Stewart, etc. and instead there were no-named actors playing secondary characters like Cannonball, the movie would not do as well as the CHUD article would like to have us believe.

I think the films would have to take a prolonged break before they could benefit from such freshness again.

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However, bad publicity about cast members opting out of X3 could have hurt it, leading people to think they were getting a cheap substitute. Losing Alan Cumming wasn't a problem and most people weren't expecting Halle to return anyway, but if Hugh, Ian or Patrick had opted out things would have looked bad.
I agree, although I think Halle Berry not returning probably would have hurt as well.

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Old 08-20-2006, 04:06 PM   #16
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Default Re: X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

I agree to an extent. I think an X4 with the younger cast members(Paquin, Ashmore, Stanford etc.) and some new mutants would work and be successful however I do think the movie will need a tentpole and recognisable character from the current trilogy Berry/Marsden/Stewart/McKellan to pull in the crowds and keep a sense of continuity. Tbh I think X4 could do without and will most likely go ahead without Jackman's Wolverine.

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Old 08-20-2006, 05:43 PM   #17
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Default Re: X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

I think maybe ratner shouldve done superman. The fans dont appreciate Singers style and the x fans do.


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Old 08-20-2006, 07:05 PM   #18
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Well I loved X3 and SR but I do wonder what they would have turned out like if Singer did X3 and Ratner SR. I think Ratner gave X3 the action we've been waiting for since the first film and Singer reintroduced alot of people to the story behind Superman.

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Old 08-20-2006, 07:19 PM   #19
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Trust me man... Singer is completely garbage to the die hard super fans... thats ashame

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Old 08-20-2006, 07:20 PM   #20
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Default Re: X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

how come when I posted this it got closed?

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Old 08-20-2006, 07:24 PM   #21
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Trust me man... Singer is completely garbage to the die hard super fans... thats ashame
I know. I think maybe Singer went a bit OTT with his attempts to make Superman, essentially an alien in blue tights and red underpants, a serious story. I think Ratners style of directing would have been more suited to Superman's world. However I'm glad he didn't veer too far from Singer's style with X3. I think Ratner did a great job with X3 but if they're going ahead with an X4 I'd love for Singer to come back and do it.

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Old 08-20-2006, 07:31 PM   #22
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The thing is... i think for style change we got the best side of it all.. Ratner while short on character and deliberate directing methods, kept the tone the same. Singer swung Superman more our way and in a way I feel sorry for them.

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Old 08-20-2006, 07:35 PM   #23
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The thing is... i think from style change we got the best side of it out of it all.. Ratner while short on character and deliberate directing methods, kept the tone the same. Singer swung Superman more our way and in a way I feel sorry for them.
Agreed. Luckily though, this was the 3rd film of the trilogy so most characters had already been well developped and established. Admittedly I would have liked to have seen more of Angel but in the overall run of things he served his purpose well.
I wonder now, is Singer regretting his decision to leave the X-Men franchise.

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Old 08-20-2006, 08:06 PM   #24
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Default Re: X3 vs Superman/Warner vs Fox...Who won? (Article)

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I posted this in the wrong forum yesterday. Good read.
That was a good read. what a shame though... and if Singer and Rothman "buried the hatchet over lunch" why not let him do the spin-off?

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Old 08-20-2006, 08:07 PM   #25
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YES spinoff.. that would be a great idea.

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