Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Top 100 Comic Book Runs Master List

Folks have been asking to see all the Top 100 runs (as voted on by about 700 Comics Should Be Good readers, who each ranked their ten favorite runs from an ongoing comic book series from #1-10, with each ranking given a different point total - #1=10 points, #2=9 points, etc., I then counted up all the points and presented them all as a countdown) as one master list, so, well, here ya go!


100 (tie). Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library – 95 points (2 first place votes)

100 (tie). Doug Moench’s Master of Kung Fu – 95 points

100 (tie). Jack Cole’s Plastic Man – 95 points (1 first place vote)

99. Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise – 96 points (2 first place votes)

97 (tie). Matt Wagner’s Grendel – 98 points (1 first place vote)

97 (tie). Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo – 98 points (2 first place votes)

96. Denny O’Neil and Denys Cowan’s The Question – 99 points (1 first place vote)

95. Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s Lone Wolf & Cub – 100 points

93 (tie). Garth Ennis’ Hellblazer – 101 points (1 first place vote)

93 (tie). Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos’ Alias – 101 points (1 first place vote)

92. Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen’s Nextwave – 103 points (2 first place votes)

91. Mike Grell’s Green Arrow – 104 points (3 first place votes)

90. Chris Claremont and John Romita Jr’s X-Men – 106 points (1 first place vote)

89. Mark Gruenwald’s Captain America – 107 points (3 first place votes)

88. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Doctor Strange – 108 points (2 first place votes)

86 (tie). Roy Thomas’ Avengers – 109 points (2 first place votes)

86 (tie). Jim Starlin’s Warlock – 109 points (1 first place vote)

85. Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier’s Groo – 110 points (1 first place vote)

83 (tie). Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Thor/Tales of Asgard – 112 points (1 first place vote)

83 (tie). Warren Ellis’ Stormwatch – 112 points (1 first place vote)

81 (tie). Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s X-Force/X-Statix – 113 points (2 first place votes)

81 (tie). Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Sleeper – 113 points (2 first place votes)

80. Mike Carey, Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly’s Lucifer – 114 points (3 first place votes)

79. Robert Kirkman’s Invincible – 115 points (1 first place vote)

78. Joe Casey’s Wildcats – 117 points (1 first place vote)

77. John Byrne’s Superman – 119 points (1 first place vote)

76. Paul Chadwick’s Concrete – 120 points (4 first place votes)

74 (tie). Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker’s Gotham Central – 122 (1 first place vote)

74 (tie). Chris Claremont and Alan Davis’ Excalibur – 122 (3 first place votes)

73. Christopher Priest’s Black Panther – 130 (4 first place votes)

71 (tie). Chris Claremont and Paul Smith’s Uncanny X-Men – 133 (1 first place vote)

71 (tie). Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri’s Uncanny X-Men – 133 (3 first place votes)

70. Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming’s Powers – 134 points (1 first place vote)

69. Peter David’s 1st Run on X-Factor – 140 points (2 first place votes)

68. Alan Moore’s Top Ten – 141 points (3 first place votes)

67. Peter Milligan’s Shade, the Changing Man– 142 points (4 first place votes)

66. Chris Claremont’s New Mutants – 144 points (4 first place votes)

65. Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle’s Batman – 146 points (2 first place votes)

64. Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – 148 points (2 first place votes)

62 (tie). Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo’s Fantastic Four – 150 points (1 first place votes)

62 (tie). Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s 100 Bullets – 150 points (3 first place votes)

61. Bob Layton and David Michelinie’s 1st Run on Iron Man – 152 points (2 first place votes)

60. Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s Authority – 159 points (2 first place votes)

59. Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ Green Lantern (co-starring Green Arrow)– 162 points (1 first place votes)

58. Roger Stern’s Avengers – 164 points (3 first place votes)

56 (tie). Alan Moore’s Supreme – 168 points (2 first place votes)

56 (tie). Geoff Johns’ Flash – 168 points (2 first place votes)

55. Roger Stern and John Romita Jr.’s Amazing Spider-Man – 170 points (4 first place votes)

53. Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern – 174 points (1 first place vote)

53. Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s Nexus – 174 points (4 first place votes)

52. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All Star Superman– 176 points (3 first place votes)

51. Mike Mignola’s Hellboy – 179 points (2 first place votes)

50. Jack Kirby’s Fourth World – 180 points (2 first place votes)

49. Steve Englehart’s Detective Comics – 184 points (3 first place votes)

48. Geoff Johns’ JSA – 192 points (1 first place votes)

47. Joe Kelly’s Deadpool – 202 points (6 first place votes)

46. Will Eisner’s The Spirit – 204 points (7 first place votes)

45. John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake’s The Spectre – 205 points (5 first place votes)

44. Keith Giffen and Tom and Mary Bierbaum’s Legion – 208 points (4 first place votes)

43. Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil – 211 points (3 first place votes)

41 (tie). Steve Gerber’s Howard the Duck – 218 points (1 first place vote)

41 (tie). Kurt Busiek’s Avengers – 218 points (1 first place vote)

40. Alan Moore and J.H. Williams III’s Promethea – 220 points (4 first place votes)

39. Mark Waid’s 1st Flash Run – 228 points (2 first place votes)

38. Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men – 229 points (2 first place votes)

37. Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s Hitman - 232 points (6 first place votes)

36. Alan Moore’s Marvelman/Miracleman – 234 points (3 first place votes)

35. Los Bros Hernandez’s Love and Rockets – 236 points (5 first place votes)

34. Stan Lee and John Romita’s Spider-Man – 270 points (3 first place votes)

33. Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s Runaways – 307 points (3 first place votes)

32. Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Ultimates – 315 points (5 first place votes)

31. Jeff Smith’s Bone – 321 points (7 first place votes)

30. Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson’s Astro City – 323 points (4 first place votes)

29. Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen’s 1st Legion of Superheroes Run – 328 points (10 first place votes)

28. John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad – 336 points (5 first place votes)

27. Grant Morrison’s Invisibles – 349 points (10 first place votes)

26. Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s Ultimate Spider-Man – 364 points (3 first place votes)

25. Dave Sim and Gerhard’s Cerebus – 370 points (8 first place votes)

24. Garth Ennis’ Punisher – 389 points (5 first place votes)

23. Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan – 418 points (11 first place votes)

22. Bill Willingham’s Fables – 428 points (6 first place votes)

21. Grant Morrison’s Animal Man – 430 points (13 first place votes)

20. Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s Daredevil – 480 points (9 first place votes)

19. Peter David’s Hulk – 484 points (7 first place votes)

18. Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s Planetary - 493 points (7 first place votes)

17. Ed Brubaker’s Captain America – 504 points (4 first place votes)

16. John Byrne’s Fantastic Four – 508 points (7 first place votes)

15. Walt Simonson’s Thor – 514 points (5 first place votes)

14. Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol – 524 points (12 first place votes)

13. Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y the Last Man – 547 points (6 first place votes)

12. Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s JLA – 574 points (7 first place votes)

11. Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s Teen Titans – 643 points (15 first place votes)

10. Grant Morrison’s New X-Men – 701 points (14 first place votes)

9. Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’s Justice League – 742 points (13 first place votes)

8. Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher – 857 points (21 first place votes)

7. James Robinson’s Starman – 921 points (35 first place votes)

6. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man – 926 points (19 first place votes)

5. Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing – 942 points (30 first place votes)

4. Frank Miller and Klaus Janson on Daredevil – 988 points (12 first place votes)

3. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four – 1030 points (37 first place votes)

2. Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s X-Men – 1182 points (28 first place votes)

1. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman - 1318 points (42 first place votes)

Original here

"Family Guy" Creator Signs Record Megadeal

From wunderkind to TV mogul: After 2 1/2 years of negotiations, "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane has inked a new overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV that would make him the highest-paid writer-producer working in television.

The pact, which could be worth more than $100 million, will keep MacFarlane at 20th TV through 2012. It covers his services on "Guy" and his other two animated series for 20th TV and Fox -- "American Dad!" and the upcoming "Guy" spinoff "The Cleveland Show" -- as well as his series development, which includes a multicamera comedy with "Guy" writer Gary Janetti. It also encompasses new-media projects related to MacFarlane's TV series as well as DVD and merchandising revenue from them. ("Guy" alone has grown into a $1 billion franchise with red-hot DVD and merchandise sales.)

"I get a lot of pleasure out of making shows," MacFarlane said. "It's a bonus to be getting paid well for it, and it's a double bonus to be getting paid exorbitantly for it."

Original here

Everyone’s turning into pigs and ponies. Can’t let it happen to me.

Thanks, Trent

Nine Inch Nails in Stockholm by Travis Keller
[photo from Travis Keller’s Flickr stream]

Thanks Trent Reznor for blazing the trail.

Everyone is talking about his latest free download and his previous digital foray, but don’t forget his work with Saul Williams (statistical transparency included) and the marketing of his last record for Universal, which was by far the craziest marketing endeavor in the history of recorded music (if you follow one link in this post, follow that one). As Bob Lefsetz pointed out yesterday, it’s not about a press release, it’s about connecting with your fans and giving them something to believe in. And Trent has the attention to detail to see it all the way through. I’ve never met the guy but he seems driven.

What he’s doing doesn’t just take balls, it takes awareness and intelligence. Congrats, man. Keep it comin’.


ps - the $300 Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition NIN Ghosts box showed up at the office last week and it’s AMAZING. by far the best album package I’ve ever seen in my life.

Original here

10 Factors that Could Kill Super Heroes in Hollywood

After enduring years of sub-par super hero movies in the 1980s and '90s, comic book geeks everywhere finally got their wish when the first X-Men ushered in the new age of heroes on the big screen. Not only was X-Men the first super-hero film to truly do its comic justice, it paved the way for other super heroes to follow on the big screen. Since 2000, we've seen two more X-Men films, three Spider-Man movies, the reinvention of the Batman franchise, the return of Superman, Hulk, The Punisher, even second tier characters like Catwoman, and most recently the birth of a new franchise with Iron Man.

Although comic book geeks are basking in their own glory days of cinema, with no signs of super hero movies slowing down anytime soon, there will come a time when the tide turns. It happens with most properties in Hollywood when popularity reaches an inevitable peak, the times change, and new concepts take hold for up and coming generations. When the tide will actually turn, we're not quite sure. When the day comes, and we hope it's not anytime soon, we're preparing ourselves with a list of the "10 Factors that Could Kill Super Heroes in Hollywood."

10. Time

Just like Westerns were cool back in the day, it's safe to say that cinematic super heroes will ride off into the sunset only to reappear sometime in the future. At some point, it's likely people will ask, "Are super hero movies dead?" Although us comic book geeks are finally having our day in the big screen sun, thanks largely to the advances in technology, time is an unstoppable villain that even our greatest heroes can't defeat. Time is the one factor that transcends all forms of entertainment. Just like bands such as Warrant and Poison rode the final wave of glam-metal back in the late 1980s and early '90s, time will eventually usher in a new era of action ass-kickers. Although our favorite super heroes are already doomed to a predestined fate, it's undeniable that whatever comes next will be heavily influenced by the popularity of super hero movies. While big screen super heroes might be in their prime, you can expect Hollywood to use the genre as a springboard into something new and innovative. Think about it for a second. In 20 years, will the likes of Iron Man, Spider-Man, Hulk, Batman and X-Men be sitting atop the box-office?

9. Failed Heroes and Movies:

There's nothing worse than waiting for your favorite hero to hit the big screen only to walk out of the theater hoping no one sees you standing under the sign that reads "Now Playing - Catwoman". The fact is - just because some of our favorite super hero movies made money, doesn't mean we'll see them again, or need to for that matter. After Batman & Robin and Superman III (Superman IV, even Superman Returns) the Bat-franchise and Superman movies have been the exception to the rule. Either critically or monetarily, there have been a number of misses over the years. It goes without saying that Catwoman was a disaster. Despite being resurrected in 2008, the 2003 Hulk was a disappointment. The Punisher was critically "punished" by fans in 2004 and, although he's not your typical super hero, John Constantine/Hellblazer went down in a ball of flames in 2005. Hell, we're not even talking about the likes of Judge Dredd and Spawn. Although some heroes have lived to see another turn on the big screen, we already know others have met their untimely demise and won't be back (for at least a couple of decades of eternity). The exception to the rule... Superman, who's getting yet another cinematic turn in the next couple of years.

8. Questionable Heroes:

There's nothing better than being surprised when some super heroes unexpectedly work on the big screen. Let's be honest here - when Iron Man was first announced, most fans were intrigued and curious as to how Jon Favreau would pull it off. It wasn't like Iron Man was beyond the question, "Can Tony Stark support his own movie?" Throw in Robert Downey Jr. and a kick-ass trailer and we all felt A LOT better. Although there's a ton of territory for Hollywood to mine when it comes to established super heroes, do some of them really need their own movie? Sure, some characters have potential given their popularity, but many only appeal to a niche market of fans. In recent memory, Elektra forced us to question whether the warrior assassin really deserved her own film. As far as female super heroes go, where the hell is Wonder Woman hiding? Daredevil, as popular as he is off-screen, certainly had an uphill climb given the fact that much of the super hero market was cornered at the time by X2 and the first two Spider-Man films. Some super heroes are no-brainers while others are nothing but questionable at best. Captain America? Sure. The Sub-Mariner? Not so sure. The Avengers? Maybe. Green Lantern? Would love to see. Shazam? Not so sure. Thor? Not so sure. Luke Cage? Not so sure. Justice League? Was a maybe for us, but now not sure at all. That's eight super hero properties and a number of characters that we question whether they can truly stand on their own. It's not that we don't want to see them, but the X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Batman franchises have set the bar so high that each one would have to blow us away on the scale of Iron Man to work. What are the chances?

7. The New Kid on the Block:

Let's see, cop movies in the 1970s, cheesy action movies in the '80s, non-linear pulp pics in the '90s, torture horror, remakes, and super hero flicks in the 2000s. If we follow historical patterns, something else always comes along to keep things fresh. It's hard to predict what will come down the pike to knock our favorite super heroes off the box-office throne. Given the latest string of war-movie flops, we doubt the Iraq war epic will get its due for quite a while. There is a ton of fertile ground with the Internet, but how that could possibly take shape (if at all) as a sub-genre is anyone's guess. We do see a ton of potential with the animated universe to break new ground as the years go by, but animation has always been popular and in play to some degree. There was a time when Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sly Stallone were as popular as Wolverine and Peter Parker, so is there any reason to think that today's successful big screen super heroes will be able to stay atop the box-office longer than The Terminator and Rambo in their day?

6. Fatigue:

What's better, to be teased with little bits and pieces of your favorite upcoming super hero movie or to be slammed over the head every day for an entire year until the movie hits theaters? After the hype surrounding Iron Man, fans or not, there's no doubt that some people will simply become exhausted by the buzz. Sure we were all looking forward to Iron Man, but it came damn close to being over-exposed by the time it was released. With the glut of super hero projects in the works, fans could possibly see three or four super hero movies a year for the next three to four years. If each film comes with the same barrage of hype and marketing, it's inevitable that some fans will suffer burn out. Although the hardcore comic book fans will be there, several super hero projects will need a wider mainstream audience to bring in the girlfriends and wives. Like it or not, fatigue will be setting in at some point. When? Who knows. As always though, too much of anything will kill any good property, super hero related or not.

5. Sequels:

When it comes to the topic of sequels, it's a two-sided debate. There's good and bad, but the battle of attrition will eventually win out on the downside. For studios, sequels are often money in the bank because of brand loyalty. For the fans, it's a 50/50 crap shoot. An interesting question comes to mind - how many movies is it going to take to put the X-Men and Spider-Man franchises to bed for a few years? We all know it's coming. What 20th Century Fox is doing with the upcoming Wolverine spin-off movie appears to be a smart move to continue the X-Men universe on the big screen. Also, given the reports of an upcoming Venom movie, the Spidey franchise looks set to live on in a varied form for a few more years aside from the inevitable Spider-Man 4. Add to that, despite our concerns whether he even warrants a movie as a lead/title character, the Silver Surfer will be surfing into his own big screen adventure from the last Fantastic Four film. Yeah, we know it's the Silver Surfer, but it's not like he made such an impression last year that people are still talking about him today. We hope we're wrong. As far as sequels go, there are a lot of points in favor of future success. However, as much as the spin-off sequel formula might ensure a certain longevity, no super hero sequels to date have been met with the same reception as the initial films. Reaction to X-Men: The Last Stand was much less positive than the first, and the same can be said about the third Spidey movie. Batman Begins was met with mostly positive reaction but there was still a mixed sector of fans. Don't believe me... go look up old reviews and forum posts. At this rate though, The Dark Knight will ease our sequel fears for now. However, it's only going to take a couple atrocious sequels, maybe two, to kill X-Men and Spidey for a few years. It's a fate almost all super heroes will eventually meet on the big screen, even Batman and Superman at some point.

4. The High Cost of Marketing:

If you haven't figured it out by now, there's a reason why Cloverfield was marketed in such a low-cost, viral manner. We all know that the most successful super hero movies have cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make. Given the financial evolution of Hollywood blockbusters and summer tentpole movies, some films have been nearly half a billion dollars (plus) in the hole before the start of production. In order for a big budget super hero film to get the proper amount of cash for a large marketing campaign, studios need to know ahead of time that there will be a sizable return at the box-office to still make money well beyond production costs, casting, marketing and distribution. Although it's not quite like the days of Cleopatra, which almost bankrupted 20th Century Fox into becoming a cinematic memory, we're wondering how many studios will be able to finance other films if it costs $200 million just to market one blockbuster, super hero movie or not. Extrapolate those numbers over a few more years and some super hero movies won't be feasible. Like I mentioned, there's a reason why Cloverfield was marketed in such a viral manner. It didn't cost nearly as much as larger films but it made a ton of cash. Throw in a bunch of no-name actors, and Paramount didn't have a lot of costs. Look at the marketing for The Dark Knight, it's similar in its viral nature to Cloverfield. After the huge marketing costs associated with Spider-Man 3 (some estimates of $120 million), studios have had no choice but to explore other options if they want to even think about making another super hero movie.

3. Crap:

There may come a time - and it might be here sooner than we think - when there could be so many sub-par super hero movies coming down the pike that fans will lose faith in the genre. Actually, you can take some of the factors already mentioned on this list and roll them into one neat pile called "eventual crap". I remember having long discussions with other webmasters prior to the release of X-Men and almost everyone was in agreement - it's only going to take a few consecutive stinkers to render our favorite super heroes powerless in Hollywood. Obviously it hasn't happened yet, but in relation to #10 and "Time", eventually the day might come when you won't be able to pitch a super hero project to anyone in Hollywood without someone laughing you out of an office. That's when it'll all come full circle. We're not sure how many actual nails it takes to hammer a coffin shut, but, in relation to the many upcoming super hero based movies in the works, just imagine a string of eight or nine potential super hero stinkers at the box-office over a two year period. We're not sure if the combined forces of Wolverine, Iron Man, Spidey, and Batman would be able to save the super hero day if that happens.

2. Hollywood:

Just like with every hot commodity in Hollywood, super heroes are the current "flavors of the day." It wasn't that long ago when a super hero flick couldn't make its money back no matter how big the marketing campaign. There was a time when a Spider-Man movie was only a dream and most hardcore fans threw their hands up in the air in resignation over the fact that it would never happen. When the floodgates opened after the first X-Men film, Hollywood execs quickly began to jump on the bandwagon when it was proven that super hero movies could turn a huge profit. All one needs to do is look back at the many super hero properties that were resurrected from development hell and given a green light since. Looking ahead to the future, fans can expect a lot more super hero based properties to find their way into theaters. From the studio side of the fence, you can't really fault a business for wanting to cash in on the action. However, as much as studio insiders can blame fans for poor ticket sales or overblown internet hype, Tinseltown has to shoulder much of the blame when the super hero bubble eventually bursts. In the end, like the assembly line of remakes and Asian horror in recent years, Hollywood will eventually cannibalize the super hero sub-genre until there's nothing left. It's just the nature of the beast.

1. The Buck Stops Here:

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the day our favorite super heroes fail to turn a profit at the box-office is the day the sun will set on the current trend that we're enjoying at this moment in time. Given the resurgence and popularity of the comic book and graphic novel industries, super hero movies will never go away entirely. Given the financial success of Iron Man, the super hero trend is alive and well on the big screen for another few years. Still, when you think of truly successful super hero movies as compared to the many attempts in recent years, only four franchises have risen to the top in our modern era - Batman, X-Men, Spider-Man, and now Iron Man. That's certainly not a lot given the amount of super hero properties that have been pushed into some phase of development. Since each studio (big or small) is looking for their own mega-franchise, it's doubtful that a lot of others will turn out to be big money makers on the same scale. Think about it... Warner Brothers has Batman (and Superman), 20th Century Fox has the X-Men universe (not to mention Fantastic Four), Sony Pictures has Spider-Man, and Paramount now has Iron Man. If all goes well with The Incredible Hulk this summer, Universal Pictures will have a revived Hulk franchise. In the end, to a large degree, all of those projects have proven to be safe money makers for their respective studios. Why take a chance on an unproven entity when you can always rely on your safe bet? The fact is, studios won't need to take the gamble. Still, it's not going to stop more from coming down the pike. Like we mentioned earlier in this list, it might be a string of potential super hero stinkers that fail to produce at the box-office that brings the big boys to their knees. Thankfully, we're not there yet.

Original here

Iron-Man and GTA IV Team up to Crush a Modern Marketing Myth


Last year, Hollywood executives were whining about how the fact that they make bad movies Halo 3 (a massively successful video game) was putting a big dent in their movie sales. In October 2007, box office receipts were down 27%. Company mouthpieces had to come up with a reason why, so they fired up their BS machine that allows them to blame everything from online piracy to Scientology for poor movie sales and came up with this: (Excerpt from CVG)

Film executives are blaming Halo 3 for lower than expected October Box Office numbers, which on the weekend of the 5th were down a whopping 27 percent from the same time last year.

Many film executives, reports Advertising Age, are convinced that punters stayed indoors to play Master Chief’s latest, which let’s not forget broke all box office records by making $170 million on its first day. It’s now gone on to sell well over $300 million.

Ben Stiller’s new offering, The Heartbreak Kid (which cost $60 million to make) was expected to clear $20 million in its opening weekend, instead it made only $14 million. Execs blame the Chief.

It sounds like a good excuse, but RUH-ROH! A little movie called Iron Man debuted this weekend and brought in ~$104 million, which sets it at the second-highest ever opening weekend gross for a non-sequel movie. That’s a pretty good take; in fact, it’s an opening weekend that most studio execs would give their eye teeth for.

Now consider the fact that Grand Theft Auto IV was released last week. The Grand Theft Auto gaming-franchise is one of the few that is actually bigger than Halo’s. This latest installment cost $100 million to make, and GTA IV is expected to out-sell Halo 3 by more than two-fold in it’s first week of release.

In conclusion: big, bad GTA IV just came out and should have kept Iron Man’s bread-and-butter audience indoors, blood-shot eyes illuminated by a flickering screen filled with the most comprehensive, open-ended virtual world ever created. So, why didn’t Iron Man flop and make $1 over the weekend? Um, maybe because it’s a good movie, and if you make good movies you don’t have to come up with silly, back-pedaling excuses for your share holders.

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"I'm trying to rape the viewer into independence": 17 Notorious Living, Working Cinematic Provocateurs

1 and 2. Kim Ki-Duk and Park Chan-Wook

For prickly provocation, it's hard to outdo the upstart Korean directors that have been shocking, scandalizing, and grossing-out art house audiences and festivalgoers for much of the '00s. Kim Ki-Duk got the buzz started with movies like The Isle and Bad Guy, which detailed the extremes of sexual obsession via scenes of women swallowing fishhooks or getting forced into prostitution. Around the same time, Park Chan-Wook—who'd previously helmed the slick, crowd-pleasing action-mystery Joint Security Area—made the taboo-shattering Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, which squeezes black comedy from the accidental death of a child and features a hero who gets back at black-market organ-dealers by eating their kidneys. Since their respective breakthroughs, Kim has made the far gentler Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…And Spring and 3-Iron, while Park has beefed up his "vengeance" series with the more accessible Oldboy and Sympathy For Lady Vengeance. Although given that Oldboy has been cited as inspiration for Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung-Hui, these Koreans' controversial days may not be gone for good.

3. Uwe Boll

An inclination for combativeness is a given among notorious cinematic provocateurs, but only Uwe Boll, the thin-skinned German behind many of the worst video game adaptations of all time, has the iron cojones to literally challenge his detractors to fisticuffs in a publicity stunt worthy of P.T Barnum. After being hailed and derided as the new Ed Wood by a generation of anonymous Internet smartasses, Uwe Boll climbed into the ring and opened a can of whoop-ass on a number of his most voracious detractors in matches that will be included on the DVD of Postal, a brazenly offensive satire that explores the funny side of 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden. Afterwards, one of Boll's bruised and battered critics opined "I think he's a jerk. This might be PR, but I don't want to keep getting punched in the head." Moviegoers everywhere could relate, though continually being pummeled with laughably awful, disturbingly prolific filmmaking is a lot easier on the melon than getting punched repeatedly by a towering, enraged shlockmeister.

4. Catherine Breillat

Controversy has dogged French director Catherine Breillat since her first film, 1976's semi-autobiographical A Very Young Girl, was shelved for 25 years for its graphic depiction of a sexually precocious 15-year-old. In retrospect, it served as an excellent introduction of the typical Breillat heroine: a sexual adventurer who blurs the line between curiosity and masochism. Breillat's international breakthrough, 1999's Romance, featured the considerable assets of porn star Rocco Siffredi in real sex scenes that challenged critics and audiences to distinguish art from pornography. (Breillat would employ Siffredi's services again in 2004's Anatomy Of Hell, which included among many delights "menstrual tea" and the creative use of gardening tools in the bedroom.) Her most notorious and widely seen effort, 2001's Fat Girl, has as its centerpiece the excruciating deflowering of a virginal teen and ends with an act of violence intended to shock viewers to the core. Breillat has been yanking pin from post-feminist grenades for three decades now, and she seems to enjoy watching people scatter.

Vincent Gallo

5. Vincent Gallo Vincent Gallo has directed just two features, but he's got a lifetime of braggadocio and ridiculousness to balance them on. If Buffalo 66 and The Brown Bunny weren't so damn good, he'd be just another blowhard NYC dabbler—he also paints and rocks—but it's tough to deny the power and artistry of each. (Yes, even the controversial Brown Bunny, with its graphic fellatio, is worth exploring closely.) Sure, his personal life can be pretty repugnant: His website offers his sperm for sale, but only to whites, and he also offers himself as an escort. (There's some latent anti-Semitism in there, too, just for good measure.) But it's all part of being a provocateur—until somebody comes up with the sperm money.

6. Jean-Luc Godard

The generous assortment of movies Jean-Luc Godard signed his name to in the '60s represent the greatest extended stretch of high-profile films made by an internationally famous director who was essentially just dicking around. From 1960's Breathless to 1967's Weekend, Godard enticed serious cineastes to watch as he gleefully—and occasionally maliciously—played with the conventions of filmmaking, trying to see if un-matched editing, off-beat camera angles, cut-up scores, purposefully pointless dialogue, and extended breaks for political essays could still be entertaining (or even enlightening). Godard has continued to experiment and tease over the past four decades, though of late he's more likely to garner press for his America-and-Hollywood-bashing interviews than for his movies, which barely get seen.

7. Michael Haneke

Late last year, while filming the English-language remake of his own Funny Games, Austrian director Michael Haneke told the New York Times: "I've been accused of 'raping' the audience in my films, and I admit to that freely—all movies assault the viewer in one way or another. What's different about my films is this: I'm trying to rape the viewer into independence." If you don't feel like being raped into independence, then his deeply discomforting features aren't for you. But films like The Seventh Continent (about the long, slow descent of a seemingly normal family) and Benny's Video (about a shocking act of violence and its ripples) are so starkly brilliant that they're difficult to dismiss—even if you're of the opinion that Haneke is a heavy-handed schoolmarm.

8. Werner Herzog

For 40 years, Werner Herzog has been making fiction films and documentaries, but he doesn't like to draw any sharp distinctions between the two; both fall under the aegis of "ecstatic truth," which is his way of saying that the truth in this films is filtered through his sensibility first. And that sensibility, from early provocations like Even Dwarfs Started Small and The Mystery Of Kaspar Hauser to recent work like Grizzly Man and Rescue Dawn, has always been marked by a love for mad, quixotic outsiders and a deep skepticism of man's ability to overcome forces from within and without. His legendarily arduous productions have put cast and crew through incredible ordeals to achieve verisimilitude: Aguirre, The Wrath Of God was shot entirely in the Peruvian rainforest to better reflect a conquistador's journey; Herzog had his actors hypnotized for Heart Of Glass, about an isolated 18th-century Bavarian village that sinks into collective madness; and Christian Bale lustily devoured maggots as a POW in Rescue Dawn. But Herzog's most contentious shoot was 1982's Fitzcarraldo, in which he employed indigenous Peruvians for virtually no money to drag a 320-ton steamboat up a steep incline using a primitive pulley system. And that's just for starters: His controversial misadventures are chronicled in the excellent documentary Burden Of Dreams.

9. Harmony Korine

There's a certain level of grotesquerie involved in the three films written and directed by Harmony Korine. (He also wrote Kids, directed by Larry Clark.) But there's also a beautiful cinematic eye and a weird sense of empathy to Gummo, Julien Donkey-Boy, and the new Mister Lonely. It may be tough to get past certain scenes—cat-drowning, a meal in a dirty bath—but there's something at the heart of each film that makes it more than just provocation. On that front, though, Korine is also capable of simply pushing buttons: He started a film a decade ago that involved him instigating fist fights with strangers and surreptitiously filming them beating the shit out of him. Fight Harm was never released.

10. Takashi Miike

From 1995 to 2003, Japanese gadfly Takashi Miike directed anywhere from four to seven movies a year, many of them direct-to-video releases, and any given one of them likely to disgust at least someone in the audience. In films like Audition, Dead Or Alive, Ichi The Killer, Visitor Q and, Gozu, Miike has shown a preoccupation with the bestial side of human nature, as expressed in rough sex, ritualized violence, and gallons of bodily fluids. Miike's output and his outrageousness have slowed some in recent years, though as recently as 2006, his entry into Showtime's Masters Of Horror series—an episode entitled "Imprint," focusing on abortion, prostitution, and torture—was tabled by the network for being too extreme.

11. Michael Moore

Long before 24-hour cable news turned journalism into contrarian loudmouth jerks screaming at each other, Michael Moore pioneered the art of "I'm right, you're evil" entertainment with his film Roger And Me. By the time of his massively successful Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore was making films with the expressed purpose of influencing the presidential election. Problem is, as good as Moore is at rallying the left-wing base, he's equally good at galvanizing right-wingers against everything he stands for. So while Moore's socialized medicine movie Sicko was admirable, the message might have been more persuasive for those outside the choir if it came from a guy who hadn't made his name by smugly mocking those outside the choir.

12. Gaspar Noé

Gaspar Noé's entire output at this point consists of two features, a handful of shorts, and contributions to the anthology films Destricted and 8, but even with such a small body of work, he's earned a reputation for his staggering cruelty, both to his characters and to his audiences. His first feature, I Stand Alone, centers on a blunt, miserable butcher who translates his miserable childhood into a miserable life for him and for those around him. Noé lets him work out his philosophy of hatred and contemptuous self-sufficiency in slow, excruciating detail, as though he was some grotesque flower gradually blooming into poisonous maturity. And Noé's follow-up, the justly infamous Irréversible, tells the story of a grotesque rape and an even more grotesque revenge with a backward chronology, a nauseatingly whirling camera, and a level of grunge and grit guaranteed to unsettle. He's said the film's barrage of grinding static, disorienting camera work, and insistent, pounding repetition of horrors were all intended to make viewers feel like they were losing their minds. His tactics are unnervingly effective.


13. Todd Solondz

A quintessential Nerd Wit' Attitude, Todd Solondz has earned a cult following by rubbing movie-goers' faces in misery, misanthropy, sexual perversion, and the grotesque. Though an uncompromising wallow in the depths of adolescent agony by every other standard, Solondz's 1995 breakthrough film Welcome To The Dollhouse now looks positively meek compared to the films that followed it. 1998's Happiness infamously offered a sympathetic exploration of pedophilia through the story of a loving father and husband (Dylan Baker, in a career-making role) who also happens to molest little boys. The film was dropped by its distributors but not even oceans of controversy and press could transform it into a hit. Solondz followed with the racially and sexually explosive Storytelling and Palindromes, a pitch-black, largely self-financed art film with a pregnant, 13-year-old protagonist played by eight different thespians, including Jennifer Jason Leigh and actor Will Denton. In case a plot involving abortion, teen pregnancy, killing abortion doctors, and pedophilia weren't provocative enough, Solondz begins the film by killing off his most popular character, the geeky protagonist of Welcome To The Dollhouse.


14. Oliver Stone

You want provocative? How about a movie accusing the goddamn government of perpetrating a conspiracy to kill JFK? Or an über-violent, balls-out treatise on the dangers of über-violent entertainment? Or an old-fashioned motherfucking sand-and-sandals epic depicting Alexander The Great's steamy acts of man-love passion? You want provocative? Oliver Stone has it. True, the only thing shocking about Stone's big 9/11 movie World Trade Center was how sappy it was. But for the most part, the flamboyant Vietnam vet—please ask him about Vietnam!—has made a career out of rhetorical outrageousness unencumbered by subtlety or stylistic restraint.

15. James Toback

Since writing the screenplay for 1974's The Gambler, writer-director-provocateur James Toback has subjected an increasingly small circle of moviegoers to his pet obsessions with sex, gambling, violence, retro-pop, philosophers and great writers you stopped caring about after college, organized crime, and classical music. With a complete indifference to anything outside the realm of his own ego, Toback has essentially made the same film over and over again, a combustible cocktail of high art, pop trash, gratuitous nudity, and full-frontal pretension, often graced with at least a cameo appearance by the publicity-shy shrinking violet of an auteur himself, as well as his good buddy/muse Mike Tyson. Toback has thumbed his nose at propriety and good taste for decades, but his pinnacle in provocation is undoubtedly Black And White, a wholly improvised, wildly self-indulgent free-form essay on sex and race featuring a notorious scene where Robert Downey Jr. hits on Mike Tyson while Downey's turned-on wife (a cornrows-sporting Brooke Shields) tapes it all for posterity. When Black And White was slapped with an NC-17, Toback stuck some especially spicy sex scenes on the Internet. Now that's provocatastic!


16. Lars von Trier

Danish enfant terrible Lars von Trier is just as cruel to his characters as he is to his audiences: As a feature filmmaker, he's best known for Breaking The Waves, Dogville, Dancer In The Dark, and Manderlay, four features in which women are systematically abused and broken as they desperately try to maintain a kind, giving attitude toward the people exploiting them. His central philosophy in these films, repeated over and over, seems to be that good intentions just spur evil people on to worse acts of evil, and that softness is synonymous with weakness. But even outside these notoriously emotionally wrenching films, von Trier has made a career out of provocation. His obstreperous, gnomish attitude toward filmmaking can perhaps best be seen in The Five Obstructions, where he smugly challenges one of his inspirations, Jørgen Leth, to remake his classic short "The Perfect Human" five times, under increasingly twisted, ridiculous constrictions. And of course, as one of the cofounders of the Dogme 95 movement, he established a manifesto about the conditions under which films should be made, and judged other filmmakers' "purity" by how well they followed his restrictions. It's worth noting, however, that he himself walked away from those conditions shortly after laying them down; von Trier is masterful at manipulating emotions both in life and onscreen, but he seems far more interested in pushing people down roads he finds interesting than he is in traveling them himself.

17. John Waters

After John Waters' cult sensation Pink Flamingos was released in 1972, some wondered what the self-proclaimed Baltimore "trash artist" could film that would be more shocking than lovemaking hippies squashing chickens between their bodies and transvestites eating dog shit. But what those folks missed is that with Waters, it's never just the acts themselves that are off-putting. It's his tinny style and down-is-up approach to beauty and class. In movies as diverse as the serial killer homage Female Trouble and the teen-friendly musical Hairspray, Waters lionizes the outré and makes anyone who doesn't see the world as he does feel like a hopeless square.

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`Iron Man' alchemy translates to $98.6M opening weekend

LOS ANGELES - Fictional billionaire Tony Stark has made a fortune in Hollywood as the superhero adventure "Iron Man" pulled in $98.6 million domestically in its first weekend.

That's about $2 million less than distributor Paramount estimated Sunday, but still good enough to put "Iron Man" in second-place behind the original "Spider-Man" on the list of best debuts among nonsequels.

Counting overseas receipts, "Iron Man" already has taken in $200 million worldwide.

Marvel Studios announced Monday that it will have "Iron Man 2" in theaters April 30, 2010. Its slate of other comic-book adaptations includes next month's "The Incredible Hulk," plus "Thor" in summer 2010 and "The First Avenger: Captain America" and "The Avengers" in summer 2011.
"Iron Man" stars Robert Downey Jr. as Stark, a wealthy weapons designer who builds a high-tech metal suit to battle bad guys.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by Media By Numbers LLC:

1. "Iron Man," Paramount, $98,618,668, 4,105 locations, $24,024 average, $102,118,668, one week.

2. "Made of Honor," Sony, $14,756,850, 2,729 locations, $5,407 average, $14,756,850, one week.

3. "Baby Mama," Universal, $10,065,010, 2,548 locations, $3,950 average, $32,062,480, two weeks.

4. "Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay," Warner Bros., $6,114,373, 2,545 locations, $2,403 average, $25,369,337, two weeks.

5. "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," Universal, $6,059,920, 2,872 locations, $2,110 average, $44,732,340, three weeks.

6. "The Forbidden Kingdom," Lionsgate, $4,187,897, 2,960 locations, $1,415 average, $45,112,303, three weeks.

7. "Nim's Island," Fox, $2,677,543, 2,478 locations, $1,081 average, $42,471,660, five weeks.

8. "Prom Night," Sony Screen Gems, $2,403,313, 2,434 locations, $987 average, $41,350,731, four weeks.

9. "21," Sony, $2,002,471, 2,242 locations, $893 average, $78,959,237, six weeks.

10. "88 Minutes," Sony, $1,545,084, 1,765 locations, $875 average, $15,368,925, three weeks.

11. "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!," Fox, $1,337,562, 1,463 locations, $914 average, $149,817,680, eight weeks.

12. "Deception," Fox, $883,417, 2,001 locations, $441 average, $4,000,654, two weeks.

13. "Drillbit Taylor," Paramount, $730,231, 427 locations, $1,710 average, $31,164,888, seven weeks.

14. "Street Kings," Fox Searchlight, $708,142, 855 locations, $828 average, $25,133,327, four weeks.
15. "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," Rocky Mountain Pictures, $678,304, 656 locations, $1,034 average, $6,613,256, three weeks.

16. "The Visitor," Overture Films, $606,597, 130 locations, $4,666 average, $1,576,256, four weeks.

17. "Leatherheads," Universal, $572,320, 1,022 locations, $560 average, $30,332,745, five weeks.

18. "Smart People," Miramax, $325,787, 401 locations, $812 average, $8,943,977, four weeks.
19. "Young At Heart," Fox Searchlight, $315,357, 121 locations, $2,606 average, $925,669, four weeks.

20. "Shine a Light," Paramount Vantage, $278,006, 142 locations, $1,958 average, $4,846,348, five weeks.


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Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Rogue Pictures are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co.; Sony Pictures, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; DreamWorks, Paramount and Paramount Classics are divisions of Viacom Inc.; Disney's parent is The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is a division of The Walt Disney Co.; 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Atomic are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros., New Line, Warner Independent and Picturehouse are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a consortium of Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Sony Corp., Comcast Corp., DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Quadrangle Group; Lionsgate is owned by Lionsgate Entertainment Corp.; IFC Films is owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp.
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The Screening Room's top ten songs in movies

(CNN) -- This list isn't just about soundtracks or great music in the movies -- it is about quintessential movie moments where a song flawlessly complements or enhances the action.

Reservoir Dogs: Mr. Blonde tortures a prisoner accompanied by 70s bubblegum pop

Reservoir Dogs: Mr. Blonde tortures a prisoner accompanied by 70s bubblegum pop

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A riff or harmony that works so perfectly that the hair on the back of your neck stands on end. Or a classic song at just the right moment to mainline feel good factor.

We've compiled a list of 10 of what we think are the best. If you don't agree or think we've missed one, share your views by using the Sound Off box below and we'll publish the best.

1. The film: Easy Rider, Dennis Hopper (1969)
The song: Born to be Wild, Steppenwolf
The scene: The opening sequence

From the moment Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper kicked their motorbikes to life and gunned down the dusty highway accompanied by "Born to be Wild" almost 40 years ago, audiences were electrified. The lure of escaping onto endless, empty roads still resonates today, even if Steppenwolf has become the food of a million drivetime clichés.

2. The film: Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino (1992)
The song: Stuck in the middle with you, Stealers Wheel
The scene: Mr. Blonde cuts a man's ear off

"You ever listen to K Billy's Super sounds of the 70's?" asks Michael Madsen's super-cool psychopath Mr. Blonde as he opens up a cut throat razor. Innocuous -- but then we see a bloody man with a duct-taped mouth. Mr. Blonde tunes the radio, does an eccentric little dance to "Stuck in the Middle With You" and then brutally cuts the man's ear off. It's the juxtaposition of sadistic violence with bubblegum pop that epitomizes Tarantino's brilliance and has been much aped since.

3. The film: Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese (1990)
The song: Layla, Eric Clapton
The scene: Jimmy's murder spree montage

Scorsese's use of the piano exit from "Layla" over a montage showing the ugly demise of a series of gangsters after a heist is simply brilliant. The pink car, the garbage truck, the meat locker: scene after scene of horribly disfigured corpses that Scorsese has somehow imbued with the wistful poetry of the end of an era.

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4. Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola (1979)
The song: The End, The Doors
The scene: Captain Willard waiting for an assignment in Saigon

The Doors' dark epic twists and turns of over the opening scenes of Captain Willard waiting for his next assignment in a humid hotel room in Saigon. It perfectly evokes the stifling claustrophobia he feels stuck alone with nothing but his demons and a bottle for company.

5. The film: Muriel's Wedding, P. J. Hogan (1995)
The song: Waterloo by ABBA
The scene: Muriel and Rhonda triumph at a talent contest

ABBA-obsessed ugly duckling, Muriel performs "Waterloo" at the local talent contest and sticks the proverbial two fingers up to the small-town bitches who have been bullying her. Even the white satin jumpsuit straining over her ample figure can't take away from her triumph -- and when the synchronized dancing starts there aren't many film moments that can beat it for feel-good factor.

6. The film: Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe (2000)
The song: Tiny Dancer, Elton John
The scene: On the tourbus the band sing along to Tiny Dancer

1960's rockers, Stillwater, are stuck on the tour bus. No-one is talking and the tension is palpable. "Tiny Dancer" comes on the radio and slowly one by one they start singing along. Everyone grins and tensions drain away. Touching without being cheesy, this scene is full of nostalgia for good times had with friends and will stay with you long after watching the film.

7. Say Anything, Cameron Crowe (1989)
The song: In Your Eyes, Peter Gabriel
The scene: Lloyd tries to woo Diane

You have to admire Lloyd's (played by a young John Cusack) style as he stands outside love interest Diane's window holding his boombox aloft blaring "In Your Eyes" like a modern day Romeo. Maybe Peter Gabriel's song hasn't quite stood the test of time but if you don't get hung up on the fact that it sounds a bit cringeworthy now, this is a scene of perfect romance -- 80's-style.

8. The Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson (2001)
The song: Needle in the Hay, Elliot Smith
The scene: Richie Tenenbaum attempts suicide

Beautifully shot with no ambient noise, just the melancholy "Needle in the Hay," we see Richie -- the tennis prodigy who never realized his potential --methodically cutting off all his hair before, shockingly, slicing his wrists. It's both intimate and appalling. In a dark coincidence, Smith died in 2003 as a result of two stab wounds to the chest, thought to be suicide.

9. Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Stanley Kubrick (1964)
The song: We'll meet again, Vera Lynn
The scene: Nuclear apocalypse

"We'll meet again, Don't know where, Don't know when," warbles a hopeful Vera Lynn as mushroom cloud after mushroom cloud explodes into the sky. It's as preposterous as making a comedy about nuclear armageddon. But with Kubrick at the helm and Peter Sellers playing three of the main characters, this unlikely film -- like its ending -- works very well indeed.

The film: Trainspotting, Danny Boyle (1996)
The song: Lust for Life, Iggy Pop
The scene: Choose Life voiceover

The opening drumbeat of "Lust for Life" kicks in and Renton deadpans "Chose life. Choose a career." -- the beginning of one of the most cynically brilliant monologues in film or literature. It is strangely exhilarating and the fact that Iggy Pop is a punk legend and heroin survivor just adds to the pop culture cool.
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Take your seats for the top 100 films

Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley, London

Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley, London

Another film list? The same old Citizen Kane? No - this one’s different, says The Times’s chief film critic James Christopher

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