Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Hollywood's DIY superheroes

The Hollywood Reporter notes that the success of The Incredibles -- it's already grossed $243 million domestically -- shows you don't need comic books as source material for a superhero movie. Still, it sometimes helps:
Starting in 1981, The Greatest American Hero took to the skies for two seasons on ABC. In that instance, Hero was riding on the familiarity its audience had with Superman thanks to the success of the Christopher Reeve-as-Superman movies that began in the '70s.

More recently, though, attempts to create original superheroes have been problematic.

M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable, released in 2000, was a realistic superhero movie that left many audiences scratching their heads. Many viewed its domestic gross of $95 million as a disappointment.

Mystery Men, starring Ben Stiller, might as well have been a superhero original because the comedy was based on a relatively obscure comic. Playing satirical riffs on superhero conventions, it grossed a weak $29.7 million in 1999.

Even Iron Giant, the film Bird made before The Incredibles, struggled. Although the Warners release about a giant robot received critical praise, the 1999 release earned just $23.2 million.

"An argument could be made that Iron Giant didn't succeed because it was a comic book movie too early," [New Line's Jeff] Katz said. "Same as Mystery Men. Look at what's happened in the interim."