Last summer Joss Whedon proved a box office mega-force with the superhero ensemble The Avengers. This summer, he followed up his sprawling, action-stuff epic with a project that is essentially its polar opposite, a low-budget, black-and-white adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Also an ensemble, this movie was made up of a cast of Whedon’s longtime friends and collaborators, and served as a sort of rejuvenating palate cleanser between Avengers‘ production wrap and postproduction process. Shot over 12 days in Whedon’s own home, Much Ado About Nothing unfolds a classic story of love and deception, and is a natural draw for fans of the genre-loving writer-director.
Turns out, those fans turned out in force this past weekend when Much Ado About Nothingmade its theatrical debut, playing in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The Wrapreports that despite opening in only five theaters, the black-and-white Shakespeare adaptation took in an impressive $183,400, which breaks down to $36,680 per-screen average. The $15,027 it made on Saturday at New York’s Lincoln Film Center Society Theater broke the esteemed venue’s house record.
Much Ado About Nothing‘s success so far can be credited to several sources. Critics have been heaping praises on the pic since it made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall. Whedon and his cast have promoted the film at festivals as well as nerd nirvana Wonder Con, and on television. Then of course there’s the Whedon fans who have been chomping at the bit in anticipation for Much Ado since cast member Nathan Fillion tweeted a teaser image back in 2011.
Lionsgate picked up distribution rights last September, and will continue to unfurl the film in more and more theaters as June proceeds. Much Ado About Nothing will first open in three more markets on June 14th, and then on 200-300 more screens on June 21st. Meaning very soon it will be easier and easier to see the Shakespeare comedy that has critics buzzing and audience filling art house theaters.
Of all of the special guests that visited Dublin during the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival back in February, the one with the most fervent fan base has got to be Joss Whedon.The creator of the shows such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse, as well as having written the screenplays for Toy Story, Cabin In The Woods and Alien: Resurrection, Whedon was in town to discuss his third time out as director, after Serenity andMarvel’s Avengers Assemble.
During some downtime following one of the biggest films of the 2012, Whedon decided to take on a Shakespeare adaptation, namely Much Ado About Nothing. Shot in black and white, in his own house, over twelve days with a group of his (famous) friends, it is the exact polar opposite of a huge explosive film filled with superheroes. So, first things first…
Entertainment.ie: The obvious question to all of your fans, especially fans of The Avengers, why did you decide to direct a black-and-white version of a Shakespeare movie?
Joss Whedon: Well, ye know, I wanted to do something down and dirty with my friends that I felt very passionately about, because no matter how passionately I feel about The Avengers, after 93 days of shooting it, I desperately wanted to do anything else. It had been something that had been brewing for a long time, and it seemed like the right time to do it.
E.I.: A lot of the “classic literature” current updates, like Clueless or Ten Things I Hate About You or Easy A, used modern language. Were you ever tempted not to use Shakespeare and write your own script?
JW: No, Shakespeare IS the language. A lot of the themes are recycled, and quite frankly, particularly Much Ado, which is really the birth of the modern rom-com, but it’s about the language, the humanity, everything that we love about it comes through the language. I could not imagine doing it without the language.
E.I.: Your original intention was to do Hamlet, is that correct?
JW: No, that was just something that I would love to do.
E.I.: Could you ever see that on the horizon?
JW: You can’t really see Hamlet coming, because you’ve got to look so far out, and you’ve got to find your Hamlet, and by the time you get to the point you can film it, your Hamlet has become your Claudius because he’s too old. Also, it’s something that would require a lot of care and feeding, it’s not something that can be done as lightly – not that we didn’t work really hard on Much Ado. But there is a lightness of spirit within the film that was something that we took with us to set.
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