Following the successful launch of Thor at the start of May, things have been pretty quiet on the Marvel Studios front as of late. With just over a month until the final puzzle piece leading up to next summer's The Avengers, though, Marvel and Paramount are set to escalate the promotion of Captain America: The First Avenger like none other. To wit: a whopping twelve new images from the film that mostly skip over Chris Evans in his full Cap costume, opting instead to highlight skinny Steve Rogers, supporting characters, and evocative WWII-era sets. Also present are two menacing new looks at Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull, along with an entire army of HYDRA shock troops.
In Spider-Man, the first iteration of the familiar red-and-blue costume sported by Tobey Maguire is a crude sweatpants-and-balaclava combination, while Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr)'s Mark I super-suit in Iron Man is cobbled together from missile components in a Afghan cave. Similarly, the frequently-discussed and now-familiar costume that Steve Rogers so strappingly wears into battle in Captain America: The First Avenger is not the first patriotic outfit that Chris Evans will wear in the film. Today brings our first look at its amusingly spandex-style predecessor, complete with little wings on the mask.
Not many directors can successfully carry the marketing of a major summer movie without recognizable stars, an identifiable source material, or even a clear concept. Though it is only his third feature film, Super 8 was sold principally as collaboration between writer-director JJ Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg, whose early films served as inspiration for the would-be blockbuster. The nostalgic adventure opened with an estimated $37.0 million in receipts. This is not the huge take that would necessarily be expected from a Spielberg-Abrams joint, but it does exceed last week's less-than-stellar expectations.
As rumored, Leonardo DiCaprio is almost set to collaborate with Quentin Tarantino, as he is reportedly in talks to play the villain in Django Unchained, a Spaghetti Western-inspired revenge tale set in the post-Civil War American South. DiCaprio, who previously flirted with the role of Colonel Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds, joins fellow no-yet-locked actors Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz, who ended up playing Landa. While DiCaprio will in all likelihood end up in the film, it seems that Will Smith is considerably less likely to star as Django, an escaped slave on a quest to free his wife.
The fifth entry of the theatrical X-Men franchise was the only major new release this weekend, but despite that, some box office forecasters predicted that X-Men: First Class would finish its first weekend behind last weekend's juggernaut The Hangover Part II. Alas, the mutant prequel debuted in first place, with The Hangover Part II dropping substantially after its huge opening and Kung Fu Panda 2 also seeing its audience dwindle considerably. First Class's estimated haul of $56 million is being interpreted as a disappointment by some, but context is crucial.
What happens when the sequel to the most successful R rated comedy of all time is released on Memorial Day Weekend? The Hangover Part II happens, earning an estimated $86.48 million over three days, accounting for the biggest weekend ever for a live-action comedy. Kung Fu Panda 2 followed in second place, not quite living up to its predecessor, with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in third place. It's an unusual weekend though, as both Hangover and Panda opened on Thursday, and will continue making it rain through Monday.
As you read this, The Avengers is filming under the direction of Joss Whedon, and while we know a little bit about the film's plot and antagonists, a new rumor suggests that we've been missing an important ingredient. Specifically, an ingredient that will menace Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Nicky Fury, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. The teasing after credits tag on Thor confirmed none-too-subtly that Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, will get his hands on the Cosmic Cube, and a longstanding though unconfirmed rumor suggests what he'll do with it, but now there's a report of an additional baddie. Read on, if you dare, but beware: it's pretty much all potentially one big spoiler.
Back in the days before audiences really gave a rat's ruby starfruit about box office grosses, conventional wisdom held that the sequel game was generally one of diminishing returns, with each new entry earning less money than the film that preceded it. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth installment of the franchise, opened with an estimated $90.1 million in its first three days. That haul qualifies the Johnny Depp vehicle as the biggest debut weekend of 2011 so far, but it also established that the Pirates series has been performed somewhat more like an old-fashioned franchise.
The last few weeks have seen big summer movie debuts, with Fast Five pre-emptively cracking open the season and Thor following up with a respectable opening for a an arguably second-tier superhero. With very little competition from other beefy superheroic types, Thor held on to the top spot for a second week, earning an estimated $34.5 million. The big surprise this weekend was Bridesmaids; the raunchy wedding-themed comedy from Kristen Wiig exceeded all expectations in second place, with a projected $24.4 million opening gross.
As the first superhero film of the season, Thor officially kicked off summer this weekend, and the Norse God brought a moderate amount of box office thunder. The Kenneth Branagh film debuted at number one with an estimated gross of $66 million, which is right in line with the expectations for the cinematic debut of the character. After its big opening, Fast Five naturally fell to second place, with two new romantic comedies well behind in third and fourth place.