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On a day rife with fake announcements and Photoshoppery, this April Fool’s Day prank is real (or, rather, “real”): Wolverhampton Station, in England’s West Midlands, has been renamed Wolverine Station, if only for today. It’s a stunt orchestrated by Virgin Trains and Fox to promote X-Men: Days of Future Past.
London24 explains that the station’s 65 signs underwent the change, which was even reflected in the departure board at London’s Euston Station. Other signs (below) warned travelers about the potential threat posed by mutants. (Local radio station BBC WM even got in on the action, tweeting its opposition with a poster that reads “Mutant And Proud.”)
Gameloft this morning released its Captain America: The Winter Soldier — The Official Game on Android, allowing players to assume the role of the Sentinel of Liberty as he leads an elite team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to stop a sinister global plot. An iOS version is promised soon.
Announced last month, the mobile game is, of course, a tie-in to the new Marvel Studios sequel, which opens April 4 in the United States. The Paris developer previously partnered with Marvel for Spider-Man: Toxic City, Spider-Man: Total Mayhem, Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3.
It’s common for film studios to partner with fast-food chains, cereal manufacturers and soft-drink companies to help market major releases, but here’s a tie-in few likely expected: The United States Postal Service has teamed with Sony Pictures for a campaign to promote Priority Mail and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — and they’ve enlisted Stan Lee for a little help.
The effort launches with a television commercial (below), featuring appearances by both the wall-crawler and the legendary creator, and includes limited-edition Spider-Man shipping boxes, Spider-Man postage from self-service kiosks, and special signage that extends to USPS vehicles. The campaign will also cast a spotlight on “stories of ‘USPS super heroes’ – real-life Postal Service employees delivering for their customers.”
The TV spot was created by DNA Productions with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 director Marc Webb and commercials/music video director Rich Lee.
If Hammacher Schlemmer‘s $200,000 licensed, street-legal 1966 Batmobile is a little too cheap, or a little too dated, for your tastes, allow us to this roadworthy replica on the Tumbler from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Listed on the James Edition luxury goods website, the vehicle will only set you back … $1 million.
But, hey, it’s worth it: This concept car — it’s “inspired by the movie Batman Begins” — comes equipped with an eight-cylinder LS1 engine, four 44-inch super swamper tires with custom rims, five driver-assist cameras and a stereo with blue tooth, CD/DVD and iPod integration. Plus, it’s a limited edition; there are just five of these in the world.
Publishing | Variety speaks with Madrigall President Antoine Gallimard about how the French publishing giant and its holdings (Gallimard, Casterman, Flammarion and Futuropolis, among them) handle the film rights to their many graphic novels, and the popularity of comics as source material: “I think that the French publishing and film industries feed on, complement, and ultimately do help each other. The number of films adapted from books that are produced every year in France is eloquent testimony to this.” Noting that, “In recent years, there’s a real feeding-frenzy for graphic novels, comic books,” Gaillimard says, “Comedy, in all its variants, is the most popular of adapted materials.” [Variety]
Legal | An Algerian judge has made a preliminary recommendation of 18 months’ imprisonment for cartoonist Djamel Ghanem for drawing a cartoon, which was never published, that government officials deemed offensive. In an odd twist, Ghanem was sued by his own newspaper, La Voix de l’Oranie, which tends to favor the current administration, and as a result, he has been blackballed by the Algerian media. The cartoon is critical of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fourth term but doesn’t even depict the president — it shows two people in conversation, comparing the fourth term to baby diapers — Ghanem said the point was that Algerians were treated like children. Pressed by the district attorney to admit the cartoon was insulting to the Bouteflika, Ghanem insisted that wasn’t his intention. [Global Voices Online]
“Cowboys & Aliens was a completely manufactured myth of a comic book. They went in and sold the idea of Cowboys & Aliens based on a one-sheet of what they thought the cover of a comic book might be, then sold it as a movie, then created as a comic book. They backed in to the comic book part of it. The book itself isn’t actually very good. It’s worse than the movie.
I did another one like that — Hellbenders was an idea that J.T. Petty had, and he wrote it as a script. One of the producers got the idea to pitch it around as a comic book. As soon as something is a graphic novel or a comic book or has another life in a another medium, people sit up and take notice and are more willing to write the check.
I don’t know why that is — well, I think it’s obvious why that is: Because the traditional properties like Superman and Batman and the Marvel characters — Spider-Man and so on — they’re all money machines. So, people are trying to create that. […] Everything is being optioned now to be turned into franchises because of the success of Walking Dead and a few that have made the transition. Mostly, people walk into a room and pitch a movie — and the first question if they don’t say it in the original pitch is, ‘Is this a graphic novel or comic?’ and of course you say, ‘Yes’.”
– actor Clancy Brown, who has a good deal of experience with comic-book adaptations, discussing Cowboys & Aliens Hollywood’s continued attraction to comics
Marvel and Paris-based mobile game developer Gameloft have announced Captain America: The Winter Soldier — The Official Game, in development for smartphones and tablets.
Inspired by the upcoming Marvel Studios movie adaptation, the game will allow players to assume the role of Captain America as he leads an elite team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in a fight to stop a sinister global plot. A multiplayer mode offers the ability to join clans and to compete for a higher position in leagues.Gameloft and Marvel previously partnered for the mobile games Spider-Man: Toxic City, Spider-Man: Total Mayhem, Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier — The Official Game will be released in late March on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android, ahead of the April 4 U.S. premiere of the film. Watch the game teaser trailer below.
Yep, this year’s Marvel kickoff film is Captain America: The Winter Soldier, due out April 4 (which is a little weird considering the studio historically releases its films the first week of May, giving Free Comic Book Day a boost), so we’re starting to get that media blitz a-rollin’ with teaser trailers, Super Bowl spots and the like. However, nothing will be seen as consistently or as widespread as the movie posters.
Keep in mind, posters are a little boring these days, especially for action films. There’s a certain color palette used, that gray-blue shine and airbrushed effect that has become shorthand for “cold and hard.” You know, like an action hero. But I digress. The movie posters released for Captain America: The Winter Soldier have the traditional “‘people walking at you from a horizon line,” two different profiles of Cap with headgear on or off, Nick Fury looking like Samuel L. Jackson looking mean and, the one a lot of people are talking about: Black Widow.
There’s just something about Natasha. Everyone has an opinion about Black Widow as a character, about Scarlett Johansson’s body shape and about what the retouching of photos does to our perception of beauty and realistic expectations of women. A single image has caused so much of a stir, I can only imagine what people will do when she actually shows up in the film. Because we can’t talk about Johansson’s performance and Natasha’s place in the storyline, let’s focus on the poster.
WARNING: No spoilers, but if you’re sensitive to body issues, I understand if you’d want to skip this one today. Everyone is beautiful, Photoshopped or not, voluptuous or rail thin! Now let’s go complain about a celebrity.
Hajime Isayama’s dystopian manga Attack on Titan is as unstoppable as its human-eating giants, selling 15.9 million copies last year in Japan alone — it was second only to One Piece — buoyed by the popularity of the television anime. It’s infiltrated the North American book market, too, placing five volumes in the Nielsen BookScan Top 20 for September. The are also Attack on Titan video games and a light novel, not to mention the live-action adaptation in development by director Shinji Higuchi.
If you’re curious how the grotesque Titans will translate to the big screen, Higuchi provides a sneak peek in this incredible TV commercial for the Subaru Forester, which has been has racked up more than 6.5 million views since its debut Friday on YouTube.
One of Japan’s top special effects supervisors, Higuchi is best known for his work on the Gamera trilogy. Attack on Titan is scheduled for release in 2015.
Forbes has named Stan Lee among its most influential celebrities of 2014, a list led by Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and George Lucas. The 91-year-old comics legend came in at No. 9 (of just 10), between Bono and Rush Limbaugh.
“Maybe it’s all those cameos in Marvel movies,” the business magazine explains. “Lee doesn’t usually show up on this list but the comic creator is responsible for the characters in some of the biggest movies in recent years.”
“I’m just jumping on this one because I find it ludicrous. First of all, that’s what we should be doing. In order to help the print business we need to get as many people as possible excited about the content we’re delivering them, and the less confusing it is for them to engage in our product, the more success we’re going to have. That’s one part. We should be communicating with each other. […] At the same, we allowed Ed Brubaker to kill Captain America and have another guy run around in that costume for over 18 months to two years when we were making a Captain America movie. We stopped making Thor the comic book for over a year and then we re-launched it with JMS and Oliver Coipel telling his story. Does Marvel give editorial direction on what you can and cannot do with our characters? Yes. We did that before we made movies and before we went to Disney. That’s what the editorial group does here for a living.”
— Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley, responding to the suggestion that companies like his “with a big media operation” are “controlling the print content to a greater degree in order to make it align more successfully with the other media”
Comics | Rupp’s Comics in Fremont, Ohio, will display a rare comic this weekend as part of the store’s 22nd-anniversary celebration: Detective Dan: Secret Operative No. 48, published in 1933, is the first comic book to contain a single original story (as opposed to several strips, or a compilation of reprints from newspapers). The new format was not an immediate success, and the series was canceled after just one issue. [The News-Messenger]
Creators | It’s old but it’s good: The Comics Journal dips into the archives for a 1989 interview with Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson. [The Comics Journal]
Creators | John Porcellino reflects on 25 years of King-Cat Comics. [du9]
OK, so that $200,000 street-legal Batmobile replica is a little bit out of your price range. It’s understandable: After all, the economy is soft and crime-fighting doesn’t pay as much as it used to. Then maybe you’d have been better suited for a “one-of-a-kind” Batman Tumbler Golf Cart.
Alas, someone just snapped it up for a Buy It Now price of $17,500, ending the eBay auction a few days early. Sure, it isn’t Warner Bros.-approved, and it doesn’t have a blinking Batphone, it does look like an adorably squat version of the vehicle from the Christopher Nolan movies. Plus, hey, four cupholders!
The other former superheroes at Gotham Acres Retirement Community will definitely be jealous when they see the Can’t-Drive-After-Dark Knight cruising around in this baby.
Manga | While Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan has been burning up the bookstore sales charts in the United States, the dystopian manga is also giving the smash-hit One Piece a run for its money in Japan. According to market research firm Oricon, Attack on Titan sold more than 15.9 million copies in the past year, just behind One Piece‘s 18.1 million (Kuroko’s Basketball is a distance third with about 8.8 million). Of course, Eiichiro Oda insanely popular pirate manga has little to fear: The 72-volume (and counting) series has 300 million copies in print in Japan, and 345 million worldwide. Kodansha’s Attack on Titan, meanwhile, is on its 11th volume. [ICv2]
Auctions | Select titles from Don and Maggie Thompson’s collection of rare comics — among them, The Avengers #1, Journey Into Mystery #83 and The Incredible Hulk #1 — sold at auction last week for a combined $835,384. A 9.6 copy of Tales of Suspense #39 alone fetched $262,900. [Heritage Auctions]
Owner Dish Network, which bought the already-struggling company in a 2011 bankruptcy auction announced this morning it will also end the Blockbuster By Mail service in mid-December and shutter its distribution centers. According to Reuters, 2,800 employees will lose their jobs.
As with the decline of music stores that preceded it, the death of Blockbuster is being attributed to the rise of digital (in particular, Netflix), which curiously enough — and despite fears to the contrary — hasn’t appeared to harm another specialty channel: direct-market comic stores. In fact, all indications appear to point to digital helping print sales. Could it be that comic shops, long the subjects of apocalyptic predictions, end up as the last ones standing?