Guardians of the Galaxy has been a massive hit for Marvel and Vin Diesel’s character Groot was a big part of that success, but was he cast because of his massive social media presence?

Now, before Diesel fans start throwing rocks, hear us out on our social media theory.

If you’re a fan of the Fast and Furious actor, you’re well aware that he has a whopping 83.6 million Facebook fans. If that doesn’t impress you, it should. He has more likes than any other actor on the planet and is very in touch with his fans – something studios would be very interested in using to their advantage to increase a movie’s exposure.

For reference Will Smith is the next actor on the list, with 10 million fewer fans, which is pretty astonishing considering how massive of an actor Smith has been over the last 20 years.

With the international box office becoming more and more essential for a film’s success, having an actor with such a massive social media presence in the international market is key.

Guardians of the Galaxy pulled in $94M at the box office during its opening weekend, which is incredibly impressive for an entirely new group of superheroes. It has just crossed $500 million worldwide today, with nearly half of that coming from international markets without being released in China, Japan, Germany or Italy yet. It’s also now Vin’s most successful film ever at the domestic box office.

Recently, there was an interview released which featured Kick Ass 2 actress Chloë Grace Moretz. While being asked multiple questions about her latest film If I Stay, she explained that her most bizarre experience while auditioning for a role was when a casting director asked her how many Twitter followers she had at the beginning of an audition.

‘If you don’t Instagram or Tweet your movies then they aren’t going to succeed’

 

For reference the actress has 1.1 million Twitter followers, which is a fairly respectable number for a talented actress of her age and popularity. But she explained that she couldn’t believe that the casting director even cared enough to ask her during an audition.

She insinuated that her social media presence was deemed vital for her chances of landing the role with this large film and she revealed that she did not end up getting the role. Now, Moretz could have not gotten the role for a multitude of reasons, but this is the first time we’ve ever heard of an actor being directly asked how large of a social media presence they have.

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Moretz continued, saying, “Instead of being asked how you want to approach [the role], they tell you that if you don’t Instagram or Tweet your movies then they aren’t going to succeed.” This is a very surprising statement and if it’s happening with other actors (which is highly likely), then it’s truly a paradigm shift from what we’ve seen in the past with actors and auditions.

Normally actors are asked to read scripts, meet other cast members already involved, talk with studio heads, directors, writers, producers, you get the point. Twitter followers or Facebook likes haven’t exactly been the first things that come up when an actor shows up for an audition for a massive film.

Back when Vin Diesel was making his way around the web saying that he was going to have a role in a new Marvel movie, he was throwing out some massive hints, pointing at posters in Marvel Studios’ offices, posting an image of The Vision on Facebook and then taking it down and that’s when everyone began speculating.

Most believed that with his size, tough guy persona and deep voice that he’d be playing the villain that every Marvel film is building up to: Thanos.

That role ended up going to actor Josh Brolin, who we heard for the first time in Guardians of the Galaxy as Thanos and The Vision role ended up going to actor Paul Bettany, who previously voiced J.A.R.V.I.S. in the Iron Man trilogy and The Avengers.

vin diesel groot small social mediaAfter all the speculation Vin Diesel finally revealed that he would be voicing Groot, the character essentially no one outside of comic book fans even knew or cared about. What no one could have expected was that Groot would end up being one of, if not the biggest, highlights in the entire film despite saying only three words (four if you count the one time he said “we”).

Guardians of the Galaxy had a unique problem, in that not even American audiences knew who the superheroes were, the director wasn’t a household name, neither were the actors, and the story was entirely in space.

The actor best known in the film was two-time Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper, who wasn’t even on screen, but voiced the second most popular character Rocket Raccoon.

Marvel have proven to be incredibly smart and when taking a look at all of the check boxes for Guardians, they undoubtedly had a big box with “find an actor with international appeal” beside it to check off.

That’s where Vin came in. The actor has the biggest international appeal of any Hollywood actor on social media and if you check out his official Facebook page, you’ll see his over 80 million fans eating up every Guardians of the Galaxy related post he made over the last six months leading up to Guardians’ release.

This was even more apparent when Groot became a star during Guardians of the Galaxy’s #1 run at the box office. The actor posted pictures of himself wearing “I am Groot” t-shirts which had millions of views and likes. International and stateside fans were falling over themselves to share Diesel’s posts about the film on Facebook and he was trending, along with his character who a year earlier 99% of the world had never even heard of.

‘I am Groot’ has become Marvel’s new ‘I am Iron Man’

Despite the fact that Chris Pratt was the star of the film, and did one hell of a job as the leading man, everyone wanted to hear three little words from Vin Diesel at all the premieres around the globe – and why not? It’s catchy, we can use it online in nearly any situation and now “I am Groot” has become Marvel’s new “I am Iron Man.” Fairly lucky for them, considering the latter phrase had become a bit stale, they get a new one just in time for it to become a global phenomenon.

Guardians of the Galaxy desperately needed international appeal because it barely had any domestic appeal prior to its last few trailers, which is really when fans truly started gaining interest and it began generating traction due to solid word of mouth after early reviews started to roll in.

This isn’t intended to discredit Vin Diesel’s work as Groot in any way, because he was obviously brilliant, but because of Groot’s one line, nearly anyone (with a deep voice) could have voiced Groot and most likely would still have been a gigantic hit with moviegoers. His beloved presence was felt because of the incredible VFX artists working their magic to bring this tree-like character to life and tap into our deepest emotions.

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Especially considering one of the most memorable parts of the film was when baby Groot was dancing during the mid-credits scene – a scene where Groot doesn’t speak at all. But when fans can put a face to the character, it becomes all the more popular and even more advantageous to Marvel for promotional purposes.

So, what does all of this mean? Was Vin Diesel the right guy for the job? You bet he was, but maybe not because of his unique voice and unlikely due to his past experience doing voice work on The Iron Giant.

Marvel have become marketing ninjas and they saw the potential to include a cast member that only has three words, yet would bring them 80+ million adoring fans spreading the word that Vin Diesel, the actor with 80 million strong, is the voice behind the heartstring-pulling superhero in their latest film.

Guardians of the Galaxy owes quite a bit of its success to Diesel and we would never take that away from him, but Marvel is behind-the-scenes pulling the strings in exactly the right way and there’s no doubt in our mind that they’re a lot smarter than the rest of us.

Which means their casting choice for Groot may have been a bit more about brilliant promotion as opposed to brilliant voice work.

The real question is how this will affect casting in the future. Will the first question during all auditions become: How many Facebook fans do you have?

It wouldn’t surprise us in the least.

With Captain America: Civil War coming to theaters this week in the U.S., the Russo brothers are teasing their plans for Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 and Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2!

In an interview with Uproxx, the Russo brothers revealed that they believe that the current titles for the next Avengers films are misleading. Joe Russo stated, “The movies are two very different movies.” However, the current title makes it feel as though it’s the same story just split into two different films. It looks like that’s not what they’re going for, though.

“The intention is we will change it, we just haven’t come up with the titles yet. But, yes, we will change it. And, yes, that is a scoop: we will retitle them,” Joe Russo went on to say in the interview. Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 is currently scheduled for release on May 4, 2018 so it may be quite a while before we learn what the new title is. Thanos will be serving as the main antagonist in both of the films, with the conflict revolving around the Infinity Stones.

Before we even get to Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1, Marvel still has several movies to release. Including, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther.

Marvel recently pulled Inhumans from their upcoming Phase Three slate. It was supposed to be released July 12, 2019 after the release of Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2. It’s still unclear whether the film is cancelled entirely or if it is simply being pushed back.

Are you glad to hear ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ will be retitled?

Another nail has just been placed through the cable box coffin: Hulu has just confirmed reports that they’re putting together a live TV service.

Speaking in front of advertisers on Wednesday morning, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins said that live TV on Hulu is in the pipeline and will offer consumers a way to watch network and cable channels live via Hulu’s suite of apps.

Hopkins’ comments arrive on the heels of a report in the Wall Street Journal which first revealed the streaming service’s plans. According to that report, ESPN, ABC, Disney, Fox News, FX are the first channels set to join Hulu’s live TV service. Hopkins didn’t confirm any channels during his presentation this morning.

When it launches, Hulu will likely have one of the best shots at making a live TV streaming service take off, and it may seriously disrupt the traditional cable box business. The only other major service currently offering live TV via streaming is Sling TV (with plans starting at $20/month), but unlike Hulu, Sling lacks brand recognition.

Over the past couple of years it’s been widely report that Apple has made several attempts at creating a live TV service like the one Hulu is trying to put together, but the iPhone maker has run into trouble striking deals with the various networks.

Hulu’s current packages allow consumers to watch TV shows from most of the major channels the day after they air on traditional television. Plans start at $7.99 per month.

For some fans, watching TV shows live is important so they can live tweet or discuss their shows elsewhere online immediately after they air. A live TV service from Hulu could cause many people to get rid of their traditional cable boxes, which tend to come saddled with bad user interfaces and extra fees.

Are you tentatively interested in Hulu’s live TV service?

The price of the service will be an important factor in how many people subscribe, of course. Hopefully it’s cheaper than most cable subscriptions.

What Jon Snow’s fate means for the future of ‘Game of Thrones’

Oh, the places we'll go, the things we'll learn!

11:00 am EDT, May 4, 2016

This week, Game of Thrones continued to create more questions out of answering others.

Now that we finally know for certain what we all predicted, it’s time to speculate how this will impact Game of Thrones going forward. Yes, of course I’m talking about Jon Snow’s resurrection.

There are larger implications for the future of the show besides the fact that Jon is an active character again. Aside from how different Jon himself might be, we also must consider what his presence means for other characters and plots.

First thing’s first, Melisandre is going to die. She has two things working against her. 1) She did her part in bringing Jon back, so her purpose is done. 2) She’s getting a sympathetic edit, and that never bodes well. Start preparing yourself now, because Melisandre doesn’t have long for this world. It is known (wait, no, wrong religion!).

Now let’s talk about Jon. What Jon Snow are we getting back ? Resurrection is not new to Westeros. Most recently we saw the Mountain brought back to life through ‘scientific’ methods, and he appears to be quite obedient. He’s mute and just does what he’s told, a mere killing machine (although, you could argue that’s all he was in life too).

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Then there’s Beric Dondarrion, resurrected by Thoros through magical means in more or less the same way as Jon. Though Thoros was adept at this feat (he’d done it enough times), every time Beric came back, he lost a bit of himself. Memories would go, and he seemed only capable of (re)living for a singular purpose: revenge.

This was Melisandre’s first attempt at bringing the dead back to life, so it’s possible she might have screwed up somewhere in the ritual, causing Jon to come back a little different from the Jon we know. Even if she did it perfectly, Jon is likely to be a changed man.

Having died, he has no Night’s Watch oaths to maintain, and seeking revenge on those who killed him would understandably be a high priority. We’ve known Jon to be more merciful than merciless, but will this be reversed after losing a part of himself in death?

And will Jon’s return impact other characters? Sansa is on her way to Castle Black, and after hearing what she has to say (assuming they actually do reunite), Jon will have more vengeance to seek. The Boltons have taken over his home and hurt his family, so it’s likely he’ll rally all he can to help him go after them.

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Back home in Winterfell, Ramsay is planning on storming Castle Black, and if he’d done it earlier, he just might have won. The old Jon probably wouldn’t have been prepared for a man like Ramsay, but the new Jon will give no pity and show no mercy. After having died, Jon might feel he’s nothing to lose, that this is a second chance and he’ll take it guns blazing (swords slashing?). It would be the perfect contrast, the two Snow bastards who each believe Winterfell is theirs, fighting to the death.

Jon coming back is also almost solid proof that R + L = J. From the beginning we’ve heard tidbits of information about Lyanna Stark, Ned’s sister, and the mentions last season were particularly blatant and frequent. Even this season, already, we’ve gotten a Lyanna reference, when Bran visited the past. Unless it’s a giant red herring, there’s obviously a reason a long dead woman with seemingly no relevance keeps getting a shout out.

Of course, if it is true that Jon is a Stark and Targaryen, then Dany is not necessarily the ‘rightful’ heir to the Iron Throne. Being half Targaryen also means that Jon has the blood of the dragon, and he has a claim to the Throne and to one of Dany’s dragons.

Side note: He probably won’t get Drogon, since he’s Dany’s favorite. But how funny would it be if Jon just strolls in and Drogon immediately bows down and does what he’s told? That’ll teach Dany the importance of training!

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Having been resurrected by the fire god and having the blood of the dragon also poses an interesting notion of Jon’s overall purpose. It’s long been postulated that the “Ice and Fire” referenced in the book series title is Jon and Dany. But what if it’s just Jon? Jon has gotten ‘looks’ from both sides: Melisandre stared him down when she first saw him, and believes him to be Azor Ahai. The Night’s King also shared what seemed like a telling look with Jon at Hardhome.

We know the war between ice and fire is coming, so what if Jon is a link that connects them? He’s the undead brought back to fight the undead, and put an end to this war. He won’t do it alone, either. Azor Ahai needed a weapon to fight the darkness, and he had Lightbringer. If we’re to assume Lightbringer is a physical sword, it’s most likely Longclaw. In season 5, both Jon and a White Walker were surprised to see Longclaw kill the White Walker. We thusly learned that Valyrian steel can kill White Walkers. But what if it was more than just being Valyrian steel? If Jon is Azor Ahai, why couldn’t Longclaw be Lightbringer, the ‘hero’s sword’ meant to fight the darkness?

Jon coming back opens many doors. There are so many possibilities his presence brings to the show. Is Melisandre finished? Will Jon be the one to kill Ramsay? Is Jon really half Targaryen? And most importantly, will he ride a dragon?!

How do you think Jon’s resurrection will impact the future of ‘Game of Thrones’?