Jon Favreau: Summer 2011 will be a ‘blood bath’ for Hollywood

Nov. 01, 2010 | 11:09 a.m.


As 2010 winds down, we’ll be taking a look at the key films and Hollywood players for 2011. Today, we have a conversation with Jon Favreau, the director of the “Iron Man” films and “Elf.” Favreau goes in a new direction next year with “Cowboys and Aliens,” which stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, boasts Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Steven Spielberg as producers and was written by in-demand screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (“Star Trek,” “Transformers,” “Fringe“). Even with that lineup, though, Favreau knows that 2011 will provide especially fierce competition.

picture 011 Jon Favreau: Summer 2011 will be a blood bath for Hollywood

Jon Favreau at work on "Iron Man 2." (Marvel Entertainment)

Jon Favreau has seen Hollywood’s future — at least as far as summer 2011 — and it looks a lot like “Saving Private Ryan.” “It’s Omaha Beach, it’s going to be a blood bath,” the filmmaker said Friday about next year’s crush of big special-effects films, remakes and sequels.  “There’s never been a summer like this next summer. It’s going to be bloody [for filmmakers and the studios]. As we were sticking thumb tacks in a calendar we realized that this is going to be looked back upon as Omaha Beach.”

Favreau, the director of the “Iron Man” films,  is well known to moviegoers as an on-screen funny guy in movies like “Couples Retreat” or the sublime “Swingers”  (which he also wrote), but he wasn’t joking a bit when he said Hollywood is going to be in “a pit fight” next summer because of a glut of high-profile releases that will translate to some big-name disappointments just because of the numbers game. Favreau has a sci-fi horse in the race, of course, with July’s “Cowboys and Aliens,” which stars Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell and Harrison Ford in a mash-up of an Old West tale with a space-invader story.

cowboys and aliens Jon Favreau: Summer 2011 will be a blood bath for Hollywood

Daniel Craig in "Cowboys and Aliens." (DreamWorks)

Favreau’s track record and the cast make “Cowboys and Aliens” a movie to pay attention to, but Favreau knows he is going up against some titans of the popcorn sector. “Do you know the list? It’s pretty staggering,” Favreau said. It is a deep roster: There’s the huge finale of the “Harry Potter” franchise, Johnny Depp’s return to his signature role with a new “Pirates of the Caribbean” installment from Disney and a third “Transformers” film, which is Michael Bay’s follow-up to the 2009 mecha-movie that pulled in more than $836 million worldwide.

potter Jon Favreau: Summer 2011 will be a blood bath for Hollywood

Harry Potter (Warner Bros.)

Then there’s the masked-man crowd, with four major superhero films: “Green Lantern” starring Ryan Reynolds and  directed by “Casino Royale’s” Martin Campbell ; “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger,” two promising projects from the ever-expanding Marvel Studios universe; and director Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class,” which will take the prequel route to Fox’s mutant-hero epic. Also arriving are proven animation powerhouses, such as Pixar’s Cars 2” and the DreamWorks sequel to “Kung Fu Panda,” as well as a new “Winnie the Pooh” feature film that goes old-school bear with hand-drawn animation. “The Smurfs 3D” will seek out the youngest moviegoers, as will Robert Rodriguez’s return to kid fare, “Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World.”

pirates Jon Favreau: Summer 2011 will be a blood bath for Hollywood

Jack Sparrow (Disney)

There are also some wild cards. “Rise of the Apes,” starring James Franco, aspires to take the “Planet of the Apes” property in a bold new direction, while “Super 8” is an alien-menace tale that follows  “Cloverfield” in cinematic spirit and, with J.J. Abrams’ name in the credits, can’t be dismissed. On the comedy front, there’s “Zookeeper” with Kevin James, which might just as well be called “Paul Blart: Zoo Cop,”  and “The Hangover 2,” which might end up being a bender to remember.

Favreau said it’s great for moviegoers, but it looks like a steel-cage match for filmmakers and studio executives. “There’s not a weekend where there won’t be teeth on the floor. The audience wins but it’s going to be rough for people making these movies. Then there was the big rush to 3D,  so you have all of these people fighting for a limited number of screens and to get the 3D done, since most of these are hybrids or conversions, so this is a technology that is still in the relatively early stages and there’s going to be a lot of blood pressures going up in the months ahead.”

transformers Jon Favreau: Summer 2011 will be a blood bath for Hollywood

Optimus Prime (DreamWorks)

Why don’t studios spread the wealth? The simple reason is that the summer months mean big box-office; young people are out of school and willing to make repeat visits to their favorite new silver-screen adventure. More than that, Favreau said, there is a deep anxiety in Hollywood that home-video retail is headed for a cliff.

“Even if there is a DVD market now, there won’t be in a few years,” Favreau said, predicting that all those expensive boxed sets of Blu-rays and DVDs will be pushed aside for digital delivery of movies, a far lower price point and rampant piracy. That’s what has happened in the music industry, where the scale of economics changed dramatically once the shiny silver disc gave way to the mouse-click.

“People will download on a subscription basis, and the industry model that allowed me to make independent  films [such as ‘Swingers’ and ‘Made’] and approach the limited theatrical release as a way to market the home-video products, that’s going away as home-video dries up rapidly. Everything soon will be about what you take in at the box office.”  That explains why filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese and Michael Mann are turning to outlets like HBO as the natural place for adult drama. And the movie theaters — especially next summer — will be loud and crowded with something a bit more explosive and expensive. “In the hour-and-a-half and two-hour theater experience, what people are looking for is something big and brash, an event that you can communally share … that’s what people want and everybody in Hollywood is chasing that right now. And I mean everybody.”

— Geoff Boucher


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Branagh hammers away at nasty ‘Thor’ rumors

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“Green Lantern” says film has “Flash Gordon” element

“Green Lantern” = “Top Gun” +  Jedi knights

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Christopher Nolan: “It won’t be the Riddler”


52 Responses to Jon Favreau: Summer 2011 will be a ‘blood bath’ for Hollywood

  1. catfriend says:

    So, basically, what I take away from this is that very few if any of next summer's movies will be based on an original story, and that there are no female leads at all, just maybe some pseudo women in two dimensional supporting roles. That speaks volumes about the state of moviemaking in Hollywood today. Way to go.

    • Joe says:

      Become a film-maker and change the landscape.

    • TrollHunter says:

      Sheesh, way to be a debbie downer.

    • Big Dave says:

      There is also no blacks, hispanics, asians, or gays as lead roles either, if youre about equality in movies, you should really defend them as well.

      • lukecarey says:

        Oh bitch, bitch, bitch. Hate to say it, but most people in America still are not black, hispanic, asian, or gasp even gay. I'm not saying that is good or bad, but it is what is it. People, for the most part, WANT to see movies about Americas because THAT'S WHO THEY ARE. Now procede to call me a racist and homophobe without really paying attention to what I'm saying.

  2. PIMAG says:

    Yes teenage boys and immature 20 something men rule the day.
    Dating conversation is a series of grunts and OMG or WTF.
    Hard to make a romantic story or drama based on that.

  3. holly wood says:

    A profit between half a billion and a billion dollars is not really "rough" for any of the moviemakers, is it? Just for the poor saps worked to death in post production cranking it out for straight pay. Give me a break.

    • FrankBob says:

      Where did it say profit? They were talking about revenue (before costs). Last time I checked making movies wasn't free, nor was the advertising and promotion that also significantly add to costs. Many movies, even those that bring in a lot of money, result in losses given the high costs of production and marketing the movie.

      And, no where did it say that every movie brought in this much money. Most movies make far less than $100 M (before costs), and even so-called blockbusters rarely bring in less than a couple hundred million (before costs).

      Check your facts before you make an assumption.

    • Doug Drexler says:

      No kidding.

    • ratzorizzo says:

      Hey, remember "pick two of three"?…. oh darn, it's Hollywood. They'll take all three.

      -18% pay cuts for senior vfx artists (sorry parents, no career here. move along… and don't pass the torch onto your kids…)
      -straight pay. no o.t. (and while you are at it, pay this other firm here to collect your paychecks for you. They'll only take 10% off the top)
      -vfx production farmed out of State and Canada (for profit!!!)..

  4. Noelle says:

    Word catfriend

  5. Anthony says:

    If I were Favreau I wouldn;t to much. Most of these movie will probably tank and tank hard. The bigger fare like Harry Potter and Pirates will probably do well but aside from that…bah humbug.

  6. Gary says:

    I understand superlatives, but if Favreau had paused and think about what happened at Omaha Beach he’d realize that it’s profane to compare that to the annual Hollywood frenzy for teen-age dollars.

    “Transformers III” will slaughter all competition; it’ll be like the Holocaust all over again. See? Think, Jon Favreau.

    “Cowboys and Aliens” will flop, along with “Captain America” and “Thor”. You read it here first.

  7. Tom Fiore says:

    Can't Johnny Depp find something productive to do with his time? The first Pirates movie was good, but after that it just became bigger and bigger buckets of digital goop.

    • phyllis greenberg says:

      I dont think you have to worry about Johnny Depp…..He's one of the most talented actors of our generation……..And he's a gent!….Thx….

  8. i am sick says:

    Oh good! Another summer of remakes and adaptations! Nothing says AMERICA than unoriginal, over-indulgent consumerism.

    It will be a bloodbath, though not for the same reason Favreau means. The country's collective intelligences will be insulted along with a splattering of their dignity smeared all over the wall.


  9. Gordon Hill says:

    Favreav is cool and likeable but many of the movies he make are just real stinkers….

  10. LAarch says:

    I like his movies but how dare he analogize producing a product in a competitive market with putting one's life in harms way as our boys did on D-Day. C'mon Jon, what's the worst that can happen to you? You lose some money…big deal, you get to go home and cry yourself to sleep in the lap of luxury. Go talk to a D-Day veteran and ask him what was the worst that happened at Omaha beach. Just another example of insensitive hollywood-speak.

  11. gmh says:

    what a bunch of crap. I'll stay home and watch something original on cable.

  12. Anya says:

    Catfriend, you rule. Joe – you think people aren't trying? Sorry, even superproducer Gale Anne Hurd has moved to TV, which has better roles/opportunities for women.

  13. Craig says:

    Netflix will soon completely Pwn Hollywood. Resistance if futile.

  14. whatever says:

    I could barely even parse this ridiculous article. Just like the stupid movies themselves it just recycles old crap.

  15. Jeff says:

    in line buying discount tickets at Costco already

  16. kenmandu says:

    A CGI bloodbath of boring, repetitive projects, with similar themes, familiar plots, unchallenging cinema that will please the bean-counters but prove, once and for all, that Hollywood is a total creative vacuum where film-makers have totally yielded the field to marketers and a lucky few pick up huge checks for pedestrian pictures.

  17. kenmandu says:

    He must mean a CGI bloodbath for the unsuspecting fools who actually pay for these pictures.

  18. kenmandu says:

    A CGI bloodbath he means…

  19. Reader666 says:

    This interview with Favreau epitomizes everything that is wrong with Hollywood today. His insensitive analogy, his list of deplorable films aimed at the optimum money-target of teen boys who will see a movie 3 times. In fact, Jon Favreau himself epitomizes much of what is wrong with Hollywood. Many in the industry dishonor the legacy of producing quality films that meant something, that moved people. He needs to rewatch Rudy a few times, perhaps..

    • phyllis greenberg says:

      Hollywood is a business……..You are not in the industry therefore you are clueless……..Sorry

      • Ice T Bagger says:

        Who the h@ll are you Greenberg!?! You can’t have a valid opinion unless you are in the business?

        We are the consumers. We have every right to our opinions which are often far less clueless that those of the people who run Hollywood.

        It is not as if opinions in the industry are homogenous and it is quite clear by results that people that run the studios have little clue of what they are doing.

        Are you a director or producer? An actor? Make sandwiches? What gives you this “divine” point of view that makse all of our opinions “clueless”? Oh, Johnny Depp held a door once for you once and now you are and expert?

  20. Happy Go Lucky says:

    Awww, I wouldn't be watching good indies such as swingers… Can Jon favreau find another 2weeks to write swingers 2? Of course, he can't.

  21. M.C. O'Connor says:

    A little off-topic but, unless they're collecting admission from the bed bugs, my prediction for summer 2010 in the NY Metropolitan area is… empty theaters. Bed bugs are a huge epidemic over here. They were only discovered in movie theaters at the very end of this past summer. Don't know what percentage of sales this area accounts for but I'm guessing it's a chunk of change. The media outlets here in NY are in LOVE with the bed bug botheration. It'll only take one big story to ruin the summer.

    • phyllis greenberg says:

      That is for sure…..I already am not interested in coming to NY ..The city that I love………Bed bugs on top of everything else are anything but appealing….That is why Netflix and Ondemand are up in numbers and the box office's are hurting…For many reasons however …Entertainment changes daily……….One has to realize that if a film costs 150 mil to make? Its another 150 mil to advertise…Therefore they better be able to do sales oversees………..Its a biz…Thats what most do not understand…

  22. Crestfallen says:

    Summer 2011 will be a big one, likely tough to predict the top 10, but probably not much different from the crowded summer of 2008 which also featured several special-effects extravaganzas and superheroes: Iron Man, Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Wall-E, Hancock, Incredible Hulk, The Dark Knight, Tropic Thunder, Kung Fu Panda, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Sex and the City, Speed Racer, Hellboy II, Pineapple Express.

  23. sdzuck says:

    It seems like a lot more garbage from Hollywood. Glad to see Jon Favreau's taken the creative high road with his work and stayed classy with his analogies.

    I guess I'll be staying at home and watching films from the era when art mattered.

  24. thankful says:

    Perhaps this would be the place to once again give Thanks to the men who landed at Omaha Beach.

  25. Hunter says:

    Aside from Winnie the Pooh (seriously!), there is not a single movie mentioned that interests me in the least. Movie making in Hollywood is really on the downslide.

  26. Tom M. says:

    Hollywood has officially run out of ideas. Why does the public feel the need to spend money on this mindless junk???

  27. Scott Mendelson says:

    Been saying this for two years. Anyone who glanced at the release calendar over at Box Office Mojo knew that this was a longtime coming. There’s a decent shot that we’ll see a $50 million opening for at least one film every weekend from May until late July. Of course, most of these films are so expensive that they’ll HAVE to open to $50 million just to survive. Me thinks this will be a summer of reckoning, as audiences overdose on 3D (and revolt over having so few screens allotted to see a given movie in 2D if they choose), and the studios realize that they can’t survive when every single one of their movies has to make $400-600 million just to break even. Paramount seems to be getting out of the blockbuster game, so maybe Disney will be the only ‘only tentpoles, all the time’ studio in a few years. That would be nice.

  28. MARK11 says:

    Basic common sense to some of John, but not much.

    No way to compare OMAHA BEACH to Hollywood. Really stupid J.
    Coulda kept it simple with just…it's like war.

    He doesn't want to mention the continual change in the digital tech in this digital age
    unless it connects to his use of it in CGI for big budget hollywood studio movies.

    Because, if he did, then he'd have to admit…that with the new dig. age and all its stuff,
    moviemakers with far less money — like under 200 grand — and know what they're doing,
    are going to keep coming out from nowhere and making very cool, intense and gritty genre movies
    available for global downloads and over hd tv — and not studio theatrical releases.

    And then, John will have to admit that he and his studio buds are not the only one in the game.

  29. Ice T Bagger says:

    Oh poor Favreau, it must be the mythical billions of losses from piracy and higher profit margins from digital sales that are killing hollywood. Couldn’t possibly be pieces of crap like Iron Man 2 that contribute to Hollywood’s well deserved death.

  30. Rich Van Ort says:

    Summer 2011 will rock!

  31. Trajan says:

    Oh lighten up people, his comparison to Omaha Beach is just an analogy. And yes, it is pathetic that all we get are retread film franchises. Transformers 2 was terrible yet made a buttload of coin. Why? Teenagers. Nuff said. Cowboys and Aliens will be fun, but I don't see anyone unseating Harry Potter. As for a female lead catfriend, she is on her way: Wonder Woman.

  32. Horace Austin says:

    I'm not expecting next summer to be like the summer of 1982 when we had STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, E.T: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, TRON, POLTERGEIST, BLADE RUNNER and THE THING. But, it would be cool if just one of next summer's films was a bonafide classic.

  33. anastasia chavez says:

    We just need new perspectives in this industry. Will you at least support those that ARE going to be changing the landscape, or at least attempting to do so?

  34. Horace Austin says:

    I've seen most of the live action sci-fi and fantasy films this summer. While I've enjoyed most of them, none are as good as Chistopher Nolan's INCEPTION which came out the summer of 2010.

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