Iron Man 3, the Future of NBC and How Will Jack Bauer End?

Straight links today:

nothing surprising about iron man 2's opening

nothing surprising about iron man 2's opening

Iron Man 2 is on my schedule for next week, so I wasn’t one of the people spending a collective $133 million on it this weekend. That’s almost $30 million off the opening weekend record of Dark Knight in 2008, proving the talk of it breaking it the opening weekend record was pretty lame and short-sighted. The LA Times got the campaign of craziness started a couple weeks ago, and I fell for it — although at least I said I didn’t think it was going to happen. I’m kicking myself now because I should have flat-out said, “There is a better chance of American Idol making my DVR than IM2 beating out Dark Knight’s opening weekend.” Right now, it just looks foolish that anyone would have thought otherwise. From sheer logistics, Dark Knight played well on IMAX — where ticket prices are much higher — and Iron Man 2 wasn’t on IMAX or in 3-D. Batman is one of the most popular fictional characters in American history — Iron Man is a surprise of a movie star that wouldn’t rank in the top 10 (20?) in comic book character popularity. Reviews for Dark Knight were of the “see this or die!” variety — Iron Man 2’s reviews came out decidedly on the “meh” side.

But $133 million is still $133 million so there will be an Iron Man 3 unless Robert Downey Jr. defecates on the desk of the president of the studio. Actually, never mind, he could do that and there will still be an IM3. Downey is like Ernie McKracken in Kingpin at this point — above the law. Jon Favreau is pretty funny, wondering whether Iron Man will make it through Avengers. Yeah, I’m pretty sure he will. If they have to, the studio will conjure up some kind of force field around Iron Man in The Avengers made of $100 bills and pass that off as some crazy new device from Stark Industries.

Bad news for us working men and and women. If you want to go to the movies, it’ll cost you more than usual. Thanks to 3-D, digital sound, the flight of the African swallow and whatever other BS excuse the movie industry pulls out of their butthole, the price of the average movie ticket rose eight percent from between the first quarters of 2009 and 2010. This just can’t continue. There will be a tipping point for the consumer at some point, and hopefully it’s coming soon. Talking to local theater owners recently, they think $10 is how far people will allow this to go before there are full-scale riots in the streets and Mookie throws a garbage can through the window of Sal’s Famous. But 3-D completely throws a wrench into that theory since people are now willing to pay upwards of $15 for a 3-D movie. But how long will that last? Never, for me. I’m the guy who drove 20 miles with his friends in college past three movie theaters to specifically go to the Colonial Park Mall in Harrisburg because its twilight shows were $2.50. Skipped happy hour for that too, so you know we meant business. I used to have Fridays off, and that’s when I hit the movies all the time, Friday afternoons, because weekdays are cheaper than weekends. I’m already mostly in “wait for DVD” mode, but if tickets get any pricier, I’m there. Feel free to join me in the comments.

There’s a new trend in Hollywood, and it’s a good one. Studios seems to be hiring legitimate storytellers who may be somewhat unproven to direct their franchise tentpole action movies instead of just going the easy route and hiring Michael Bay to spew out some big pile of testosterone-filled drivel. It continued last week when Tom Cruise hand-picked Pixar wonder-guy Brad Bird to write and direct the next installment of Mission: Impossible IV — even though he’s never helmed a live-action project. I don’t like Pixar one bit — but I at least can see it’s better work than most movies. This comes on the heels of Joss Whedon being tabbed to direct Avengers despite directing only one movie and having two pretty big TV failures on his recent resume. Marc Webb is getting his shot at Spider-Man even though he’s handled just one movie, last year’s quirkily entertaining (500) Days of Summer. Maybe it comes from Jon Faverau’s success with Iron Man, since his biggest project before that was Elf. Whatever it is, the quicker it gets guys like Bay out of Hollywood, the better.

shot at the big time

shot at the big time

It’s about time Sasha Grey started going more mainstream, even if when she gets to the mainstream, she’s still playing a porn star. She showed big potential in The Girlfriend Experience last year, but instead of getting out of porn, she went on to make the classic Butt Sex Bonanza this year. Scorsese movie, right? At least in Entourage, she’s going to have a real role. I’m glad the Entourage people mentioned how impressed they were with her in Girlfriend Experience, because she was. You can’t watch that movie and say, “Yeah, she’s just a porn star,” because she’s as good — or better — than just about any actress in Hollywood in that role. She deserves a shot in the mainstream.

NBC seems to want to take all the fun out of upfront week, picking up three more shows for the fall season. That doesn’t leave a lot of real estate out there, unless the network is completely selling off its entire schedule. It has to save some drama for upfronts, right? If it picks up many more shows, then you have to start really wondering whether shows like Mercy or Chuck will be coming back. Chuck looks pretty safe, but the more shows it picks up — with a couple more sure-things in the bag for the actual upfronts — the worse it looks for Heroes. Looks like NBC is trying to squeeze its way into the gaping hole that will be left by the departures of Lost and 24 by launching its own serialized thriller, The Event. I have no idea whether I’ll watch at this point, but I’m at least curious.

The news here isn’t that there is a Pac-Man movie coming long after the height of its popularity. The news is that Pac-Man will be turning 30 in June. 3-freakin’-0! I think I just felt my bones creak and my heart start to fail. This is the oldest I’ve felt in a while.

People say the Pocono Record’s forum comments are brutal — but those people have never been to AV Club. No other forum could make me go from happy enough to scream “YES!!!” when I click on something — like when I saw their news that the miniseries from The Kids in the Hall was coming to American TV in August — to me thinking I’m going to be horribly, tremendously disappointed in the series when I read the comments. I have family in Ontario that I’ll be seeing this weekend, I’ll have to ask if they saw it when it aired. Otherwise, it seems like it might be Brain Candy without the small cameos from their popular sketch characters. All I know is I’m already planning a PopRox Kids in the Hall salute coming in August. I’ll try to give plenty of warning in case you wanna tune out for those couple of days. As long as we’re here, I was trying to explain this sketch to my wife the other day for some reason, and it’s a good example of the genius of the greatest sketch comedy troupe of all time:

Oh, what the heck. One more that shows why Dave Foley has some of the best comedic timing ever. Think about it, you little mathematicians:

complicated is the only way to go

complicated is the only way to go

Looks like it’s time to start thinking about how 24 will end for Jack Bauer. I’m hoping it’s not pretty — it shouldn’t be. In TV history, Jack may be the ultimate guy who makes us all sit back and swoon, “Awwww, our hero!” He’s given everything but his life for the country, putting all aspects of his personal life on hold to make sure America is a safe place to live. Fictitiously, of course. But along the way, he’s sold his soul about a trillion times, killed hundreds of people, broken all kinds of humanitarian rules and been at the very least indirectly responsible for the deaths of his wife, his lover, and the crazy-fication of another. On one hand, Jack deserves peace. On the other, we just witnessed him kill a defenseless woman in cold blood last week. The fact that she was a traitor and a horrible, unseless character notwithstanding, Jack’s hands aren’t clean here. They never really have been. So there should be some kind of ambiguity to his resolution. And if you think he can’t die because of the planned 24 movie franchise, think again. There have been some big time jumps between seasons, the movies can easily be prequels to fill in some blanks. That’s probably not realistic, but I’m just trying to not rule out anything.

If you’re anxious about whether Lie to Me will return next year, then the news isn’t good — showrunner Shawn Ryan has taken some other projects and won’t be returning to the show. The guy who created The Shield signed on to Lie to Me last year and was thought to be the saving grace that got Lie to Me its second season this year (even though we won’t see another new episode until the summer since it left in December, and won’t until June). So taking off a week or so before upfronts? You can pretty much guarantee it won’t be on the fall schedule. The one scenario that could save the show is maybe it does well enough during the summer that Fox decides it wants to pick up the show for summer 2011 with a reduced order. But this is a pretty good death blow for Mr. Orange’s foray into TV.

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