Iron Man 3 weighed in with the second biggest movie opening of all times, but since it was right behind The Avengers, you could say it was all in the family still. The third movie staring Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark opened with $175.3 million for the weekend (the Avengers did $207.4 mil) and has already raced to $680.1 million globally. That is a lot of cheddar.
While everyone can be happy with the opening, it was also the last film on Downey’s contract, meaning he might not be back for an Iron Man 4 or (even worse in our opinion) Avengers 2. The investors board, Motley Fool, is already crying “Marvel Must Get Robert Downey Jr. Back for “Iron Man 4” . While Downey says he’s renegotiating his contract, you’ll recall that Marvel Studios is legendarily thrifty when it comes to paying stars, and if one demands too much, they get bounced. In fact, it was already hinted that the Tony Stark character could be James Bonded, with a new actor in the role.
RDJ was still on the comeback trail when he signed up for Iron Man #1, now he’s starred in two of the biggest movies in history. So he probably won’t come too cheaply. But with so much at stake, expect Disney/Marvel to release a little bit from the coffers to keep Downey on board.
Meanwhile, the mastermind behind all this, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, is revealing snippets of info on Phase 3 and beyond of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Like, for instance, Doctor Strange.
On Doctor Strange, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige stated, "Within the next year or so we'll really start the advanced planning on post – Avengers 2, and I would love Strange to be a part of that. There's a whole supernatural/magic dimension going on in Marvel comics that we haven't ever touched on." His statement is pretty much in line with what was reported earlier this week from other media outlets. However, it's a noticeable step back from his previous statement in January where he said Doctor Strange was "definitely" going to be one of the Phase III films. With a number of character rights recently returning to Marvel Studios, has that made Doctor Strange's Phase III roster spot less certain?
And what of Feige’s own contract? Collider asked when it ran out:
FEIGE: I don’t know, the truth of the matter is, I always sort of set a goal or set a horizon line and look towards that. Then say, “Once I get to that horizon line I will see where we stand.” For a long time it was X-Men 2 and then for a long time it was Iron Man and Incredible Hulk – are we going to be a studio by then or not? Is it going to work or is it not? Then it was Avengers, now it’s Avengers 2. So, two years after that, three years after that, I can’t even begin to guess.
Feige has developed into the planner behind one of the most profitable movie franchises in history—although franchise doesn’t even do it justice. Imagine if Star Wars had somehow split off into individual Boba Fett and Mace Windu movies, or if Harry Potter had solo Hermione and Ron movies. Feige was only building on the interconnectivity of the Marvel Universe of the comics, but he was smart enough to figure out how to do it.
Now if only Disney/Marvel would pledge .01% of the receipts of all of their films to The Hero Initiative. Good box office, good reviews, and good karma? How amazing would that be.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.