May 8, 2013 09:18

Iron Man 3 launches summer movie season and brings bucks to N.C.


One need only to have read last week’s YES! Weekly cover story to get an idea that comic books are as popular as ever. They’re also big business. The ties that bind Hollywood and comic books have never been stronger (or more profitable).

Last week marked the North American opening of Iron Man 3 (see review, Page 44) and, essentially, the kick-off for the 2013 summer movie season. The film grossed approximately $175 million in its opening weekend. Combined with the grosses from the foreign markets in which it had already opened two weeks ago, Iron Man 3 has grossed more than its two bigscreen predecessors did during their entire theatrical runs.

For the state of North Carolina, Iron Man 3 proved a financial boon. Between December 2011 and December ‘12, that one production brought nearly $180 million in spending and more than 2,000 jobs to the Tar Heel State.

“These findings are just the latest evidence of the economic benefit that film and television production has meant for North Carolina,” said Sen. Chris Dodd, the chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), in an official statement released last week. “Thanks to a reliable and refundable production incentive, North Carolinians have been able to reap the benefits of direct spending and job creation across the state. Marvel’s Iron Man 3, like so many productions that choose to shoot in North Carolina, generated hundreds of millions of dollars in spending for local businesses in dozens of communities and thousands of jobs for North Carolina workers.”

At the 15 th annual RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, Aaron Syrett, director of the North Carolina Film Office, expressed his excitement and gratitude over Marvel’s decision to shoot much of the film in the state (primarily Wilmington).

Thanks to Iron Man 3 and other recent high-profile films such as The Hunger Games (filmed in 2011 and released in 2012), North Carolina’s film industry has enjoyed unprecedented success in recent years. (Alas, for the second Hunger Games film, Catching Fire, the producers opted to shoot in Georgia.)

The spate of upcoming movies based on comic books is staggering. Having released four Superman films during the 1970s and ’80s, Warner Bros. “rebooted” the franchise with Superman Returns in 2006 and will do so again this summer with the release of Man of Steel. The studio also scored big with four Batman movies in the ’80s and ’90s, then brought the Caped Crusader back in a wildly profitable new trilogy masterminded by Christopher Nolan. Of course, not every adaptation is a winner; Warner Bros. is hardly planning a follow-up to Jonah Hex (2010), a DC Comics adaptation that found neither critical nor box-office favor.

Sony had such great success with Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy that the studio hardly waited before rebooting — or, in this case, rehashing — the same storyline for The Amazing Spider-Man last year. (A sequel is well underway.)

The trend cuts both ways. Years before the Alien vs. Predator films were released, Dark Horse Comics released its own version of the story, the success of which undoubtedly prompted Twentieth Century Fox to produce two movies on the same theme.

Taking the opposite tack, Vertigo Comics and DC Entertainment have recently released a graphic-novel adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo ($19.99 retail), based on the late Stieg Larsson’s bestselling Millennium Trilogy. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its follow-ups, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest were all international bestsellers.

The Swedish films based on those novels likewise became international successes — and gave a big boost to the careers of Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist. David Fincher followed up with an “Americanized” version of the original film in 2011, which earned five Academy Award nominations (including one for Rooney Mara as Best Actress), with a win for Best Editing. Although the film grossed over $230 million worldwide, it’s currently uncertain whether there will be sequels.

Vertigo, on the other hand, will most definitely be releasing The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Volume 2 is out now), penned by noted crime author Denise Mina with cover by Lee Bermejo and art by Leonardo Manco and Andrea Mutti.

Vertigo has also released the paperback edition of Get Jiro! — which is not based on the award-winning documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) — a satirical, futuristic action-thriller written by Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose, which takes America’s fascination with exotic cuisine to undreamed-of levels. DC’s also got four volumes of Before Watchmen on tap for this summer. The movie may not have been a big hit, but the comics sure are!

For more information about Vertigo Comics, see: vertigocomics.com. For more information about DC Entertainment, see: dccomics.com. And, just to be fair, for more information about Marvel, see: marvel. com.

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