Thursday, June 30, 2011

Is Richard Lester available? Disney and Marvel press ahead with Thor 2 for summer 2013, without director Kenneth Branagh.

Well, it looks like summer 2013 is the one where we find out how much the Marvel franchises truly depend on their would-be auteurs.  The summer will kick off with Iron Man 3 (directed not by Jon Favreau but by Shane Black) opens on the same first-weekend in May slot the previous two have debuted in.  And Disney announced today that Thor 2 is scheduled for July 26th, 2013.  The big news is that while star Chris Hemsworth will be back, original helmer Kenneth Branagh will not (Natalie Portman is contracted for a sequel, but we'll see if she makes the choice to return).  This is a surprise to say the least.  This is not a case like the Iron Man franchise, where Jon Favreau butted heads with Marvel throughout the sequel and decided to quit at two.  This isn't a case like Green Lantern, where Martin Campbell found himself a bit over his head with the whole green-screen/CGI action department and will probably fall on the sword for the movie's poor box office (Warner Bros' new habit of micromanaging didn't help either).  Thor withstood a weak marketing campaign and ended up with a rock-solid $437 million worldwide, earning relatively solid reviews in the process.  I don't wish to speculate and will only say that I hope that Branagh's choice to move on was merely a case of not wanting to get tied to the franchise, and not another case of penny-pinching by Marvel or some kind of corporate decision by Disney (which takes over the previously-Paramount owned Marvel films after Captain America).  Anyone want to offer suggestions or guess the release date?  As for replacement directors, it's the same list I always have: Sophia Coppola, Werner Herzog, and Terrence Malick.

Scott Mendelson      

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