Marvel gives us a rare peek in its offices, and Kevin Feige talks R ratings and Spider-Man

Marvel gives us a rare peek in its offices, and Kevin Feige talks R ratings and Spider-Man
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images)

Marvel Studios is known for being tight-lipped about most everything, fiercely guarding the details of film projects, casting choices and even the broad outlines of its moviemaking philosophy.

But a wave of box office successes — with several billion-dollar-grossing hits — has given the company reason to crow. And on Monday, Marvel Studios, which is owned by Walt Disney Co., invited reporters to its Burbank offices for an open house of sorts.

The gathering came just weeks before the company will release another hoped-for blockbuster, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” The film, which stars Chris Pratt and premieres May 5, is a sequel to a surprise 2014 hit. The first picture in the “Guardians” series grossed more than $750 million, launching a franchise that most moviegoers never saw coming (a third “Guardians” has already been announced).

Reporters toured Marvel Studios’ offices, which are housed at Disney’s headquarters, under the watchful eye of security personnel and other minders who instructed the visitors on where it was permissible to take photographs.

Marvel Studios, which was acquired by Disney in 2009, showed off footage from projects including “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Black Panther,” and revealed concept artwork for “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Captain Marvel.”

The company’s president, Kevin Feige, also sat down with reporters in a conference room lined with movie posters for “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” for a group interview.

Here are highlights of the nearly hourlong conversation:

Don’t expect any R-rated Marvel Studios films

Although 20th Century Fox has found recent critical and commercial success with R-rated comic book adaptations “Logan” and “Deadpool,” Feige said Marvel would not follow suit.

“My takeaway on both of those films is not the R rating, it’s the risks they took, the chances they took, the creative boundaries that they pushed,” Feige said. “Which I hope is what we always try to do, and certainly what we should continue to always do. That I think should be the takeaway for everyone.”

Disney, of course, is known for family-friendly fare, and does not produce any R-rated pictures.

“Logan,” an ultraviolent action film starring Hugh Jackman, has grossed more than $600 million worldwide since March, and “Deadpool,” about a lewd superhero played by Ryan Reynolds, took in more than $750 million last year.

Still, Feige left the door open on the prospect of R-rated pictures from Marvel Studios, saying: “In the future, who knows?”

Marvel hopes to make more films in California

Marvel Studios has shot movies in California — including 2010’s “Iron Man 2” — but not for some time. Feige hopes that will change.

“We’d love to — we all live here, we all work here,” Feige said. “We made a handful of the early movies here. We hope to make some in the not-too-distant future here again.”

In recent years, the company has instead made several pictures in Georgia, taking advantage of that state’s generous production incentives. Films including “Ant-Man,” “Captain America: Civil War” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” were shot at Pinewood Atlanta Studios. The next two “Avengers” movies are also being made there.

Feige said that the California incentive program, which was expanded in 2014, simply doesn’t stack up to Georgia’s offering. “That’s a big part of it,” he said.

Disney, however, has recently taken advantage of California’s program. Last year the state film commission approved about $18 million in tax credits for the upcoming Walt Disney Studios movie “A Wrinkle in Time,” the largest production incentive ever from California.

Making ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ with Sony has been ‘additive’

In an unusual partnership, Marvel Studios is producing “Spider-Man: Homecoming” with Sony Pictures Entertainment, which has long held the film rights to the character.

The co-producing arrangement, which was announced in 2015, also includes Amy Pascal, the former co-chairman of Sony Pictures who departed the Culver City studio after years of middling financial returns and a devastating cyberattack.

Starting in 2002, Sony Pictures made several “Spider-Man” films on its own, but some were not well received by critics and underperformed.

The new version of Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland, made his first appearance on screen in Marvel’s 2016 hit “Captain America: Civil War.”

Tom Holland, who stars in the forthcoming "Spider-Man: Homecoming," appears backstage at the Sony Pictures Entertainment presentation at CinemaCon 2017 last month at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Tom Holland, who stars in the forthcoming "Spider-Man: Homecoming," appears backstage at the Sony Pictures Entertainment presentation at CinemaCon 2017 last month at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Feige said that working with Sony and Pascal on the “Homecoming” movie, which comes out in July, has been “additive.”

“They were great and Amy was great in saying, ‘We want this to be a Marvel Studios film,’” Feige said. “It very much felt like it was run the way we want to run a Marvel Studios production.”

Feige said that co-producing the project with Sony and Pascal has been collaborative too. “At no point have we become the type of filmmakers that don’t want to listen to anybody,” he said. “That’s very important to us — that we don’t close off to other people’s thoughts or ideas.”

Disney will also work with Sony and Pascal on a sequel to “Spider-Man: Homecoming” that is scheduled for release in 2019. And the character will appear in two forthcoming “Avengers” movies.

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