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NO SEX, VIOLENCE OR STARS, YET #1: ‘Twilight’ Takes Biggest $70.5M Bite Out Of Box Office Weekend; Bond #2, Bolt #3

By | Saturday November 22, 2008 @ 9:30pm PST

SUNDAY AM: Summit Entertainment’s low cost blockbuster Twilight opened huge as expected because of heavy pre-sales with $35.8M Friday. But the front-loaded pic dropped a big but expected 41% to $21M Saturday. (Similarly front loaded Sex And The City also had a big Friday to Saturday fall…)With an estimated $13.6M Sunday from 3,419 theaters, including $7M worth of Thursday midnight shows, Twilight will end up with $70.5M for its first North American weekend in release. Exit polling showed audiences were 75%/25% female to male, and 55%/25% under or over the age of 25. Fangirls — or should I say fang-girls — were buying 5 Twilight tickets per second as of early Friday morning, making it online ticket-seller Fandango’s fastest-selling film since The Dark Knight last July. Then the tween and teen females in store bought or homemade Twilight clothes (and even Twilight tattoos) flocked to the first Big Screen version of Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling series of Romeo & Juliet-style vampire romance books. Yet the movie adaptation by Melissa Rosenberg was made by start-up studio Summit for only $37M. This will be the start of a big new franchise since a sequel is already in the works — New Moon, based on Meyer’s second book in the series. The first box office records have already been broken by Twilight‘s girl power. This is the biggest opening for a female director. Catherine Hardwicke is easily beating Mimi Leder’s $41.1M for 1998′s Deep Impact. (But with an asterisk since these figures aren’t adjusted for inflation, ticket prices, etc.) TwilightRead More »

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UPDATE: AMPTP Trash Talks SAG Strike

By | Saturday November 22, 2008 @ 11:50am PST

2ND UPDATE:  New SAG-AMPTP post coming with all new information…

Just now, the Big Media cartel’s negotiating clique, the AMPTP, issued this statement about SAG’s decision to seek a strike authorization vote from its members now that all talks have broken down and federal mediation has been adjourned. (It’s interesting that the AMPTP has yet to comment on the WGA’s news that the infotainment conglomerates aren’t paying residuals for writers’ work that is reused on New Media. That was the key issue during the 100-day strike and now the WGA has filed for arbitration):

“Let’s review the facts: SAG is the only major Hollywood guild that has failed to negotiate a labor deal in 2008.  Now, SAG is bizarrely asking its members to bail out the failed negotiating strategy with a strike vote – at a time of historic economic crisis.  The tone deafness of SAG is stunning.”

  • SAG-AMPTP Talks Break Down; SAG Will Now Seek Strike Authorization
  • SCANDAL! WGA Goes After Big Media For Reneging On New Media Payments
  • Comments 78

    TOLDJA! Summit Announces ‘Twilight’ Sequel “New Moon’: Studio May Make #2 And #3 Back-To-Back; Stars Thank Fans

    By | Saturday November 22, 2008 @ 10:36am PST

    NO SEX, VIOLENCE OR STARS, YET #1: ‘Twilight’ Opens With $35.7M Friday

    UPDATE: I’m told Summit Entertainment to contain costs is considering making sequels #2 and #3 back to back like some other franchises, i.e. Lord Of The Rings, the upcoming Hobbit. The start-up studio announced today that it’s officially moving forward with the production of New Moon, the second installment of its filmed franchise vampire love story Twilight which took the biggest bite out of this weekend’s box office for No. 1. But Summit said nothing about #3 in the series, Eclipse. (I first reported this on October 13th, Summit Readying ‘Twilight’ Sequel.) The follow-up will be based on the second novel in author Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series titled, New Moon. “I don’t think any other author has had a more positive experience with the makers of her movie adaptation than I have had with Summit Entertainment,” Stephenie Meyer said in the press release. “I’m thrilled to have the chance to work with them again on New Moon.” The enormous success of Twilight in theaters this weekend is a defining moment for start-up studio Summit, which had struggled with its early produce. Meanwhile, on Saturday morning, Twilight stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart issued a formal “thank you” to fans for their box … Read More »

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    SAG-AMPTP Talks Break Down After Only 2 Days; Mediation Process Adjourned; SAG Will Now Seek Strike Authorization

    By | Saturday November 22, 2008 @ 1:28am PST

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    The federal mediator had arranged the first formal face-to-face in months between the two parties. But, given the acrimonious history of their stalled negotiations, it’s not surprising that there was no progress. The question, just as it was before the economic climate collapsed, is what happens next? SAG seemed to answer that by issuing this statement about the breakdown of talks:

    “Our leadership was optimistic that federal mediation would help to move our negotiations forward, but despite the Guild’s extraordinary efforts to reach agreement, the mediation was adjourned shortly before 1:00 AM today.

    “Management continues to insist on terms we cannot responsibly accept on behalf of our members. As previously authorized by the National Board of Directors, we will now launch a full-scale education campaign in support of a strike authorization referendum. We will further inform our members about the core, critical issues unique to actors that remain in dispute.

    “We have already made difficult decisions and sacrifices in an attempt to reach agreement. Now it’s time for SAG members to stand united and empower the national negotiating committee to bargain with the strength of a possible work stoppage behind them.

    “We remain committed to avoiding a strike but now more than ever we cannot allow our employers to experiment with our careers. The WGA has already learned that the new media terms they agreed to with the AMPTP are not being honored. We cannot allow our employers to undermine the futures of

    Read More »

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    Weinstein Co’s Expected Layoffs Reality: But Will Harv & Bob Ever Admit Blame?

    By | Friday November 21, 2008 @ 4:15pm PST

    Sorry I’m late getting this up because today has been nonstop. But I’d been hearing from tipsters for weeks that firings were on the horizon at the Weinstein brothers’ company. But they finally came down today. (The New York Post says NYC employees were called into a meeting shortly after 2 PM ET to receive the bad news from Human Resources.) The big surprise to me is that The Weinstein Co bloodletting was only 11% of its workforce. But that’s because so many other staff and execs have been quietly let go and not replaced over previous weeks dating back to the beginning of the summer. Today’s firings appear to affect 24 out of 224 across all the offices (NYC, LA, UK, HK). As emails to me demonstrate, some of the staff had heard there were layoffs imminent but others were caught completely by surprise. Because it’s tragic when anyone loses a job, I would sure like to see Harvey and/or Bob start taking responsibility for their company’s abject failure by at least admitting it instead of fighting the media tooth-and-nail to protect what little is left of their once enviable success. This is especially galling because of all the pain they’re causing other people, whether firing staff, or convincing people to leave secure jobs and work for TWC without giving them all the facts about how much trouble the company is really in, or forcing filmmakers to pay for reshoots out of their own … Read More »

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    Christensen Wants To Do Time In His Crib

    By | Friday November 21, 2008 @ 2:10pm PST

    Former entertainment superlawyer and now convicted felon Terry Christensen is being sentenced at 8:30 AM Monday morning. But get this: he still thinks he’s a bigshot. Because he’s requesting to be put on probation for 10 months under home confinement. That’s right, he doesn’t want to go to jail with all the peons after he was convicted this summer for hiring then Hollywood P.I. Anthony Pellicano to wiretap Kirk Kerkorian’s ex-wife in a high profile 2002 child support case. According to details provided by the Los Angeles Daily Journal newspaper (subscription only so I can’t link), Christensen is now explaining away his crime as an “aberrational, isolated exercise of bad judgment” on his part. His sentencing request was outlined in his recently filed sentencing memorandum. To be fair, the U.S. Probation Office is also asked for the same sentence for him, plus a fine of $30,000. But prosecutors, in their sentencing memo, called the Probation Office’s recommendation “reckless, uninformed, and completely inappropriate”. Their memo states that Christensen had managed the scheme with Pellicano to wiretap Bonder Kerkorian’s phones and, as an attorney, held a higher level position of trust that warranted prison time. So the feds demand that Christensen serve three years in federal prison and pay a $500,000 fine due to his “brazen efforts to corrupt and subvert the legal system… This is not a case of a defendant who committed a crime and who coincidentally happened … Read More »

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    Latest News On ‘Twilight’ Zone Phenom

    By | Friday November 21, 2008 @ 11:19am PST

    FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Summit Entertainment tells me Twilight midnight shows made ”north of $7 million” Thursday. That’s a big number. Here are some other updates on the Twilight zone phenomenon: major online ticket-seller Fandango has been selling 5 Twilight tickets per second as of early this morning. According to an online poll, 34% of moviegoers said they will take off a few hours from school or the office today to see the pic. It’s Fandango’s fastest-selling film since The Dark Knight in July of this year. It now occupies the #3 spot on Fandango’s list of Top Advance Ticket-Sellers, surpassing the Harry Potter, Pirates Of The Caribbean, and Lord of the Rings movies. (Only Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and The Dark Knight remain in the #1 and #2 spots, respectively.) Twilight also finished in the No. 5 slot on MovieTickets.com’s Top-5 Presellers of All-Time, one spot ahead of Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert and one behind Dark Knight.

    Wkd Prediction: Twilight $60M, Bolt $35M

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    Bushies Now Fighting Janet Jackson/CBS Indecency Case Up To Supreme Court

    By | Friday November 21, 2008 @ 10:52am PST

    This looks like the last gasp decency battle fought by the Bush administration’s Republican-dominated FCC. Still, it’s utterly ridiculous that Dubya’s communications watchdog and his politicized Justice Department are now asking the Supremes to overturn that appeals court decision throwing out the $550,000 fine against CBS for Janet Jackson’s one-secon-long exposed boob during the Super Bowl halftime show four years ago. Then FCC chairman and GOP stalwart Michael Powell took up the cause of Christian right groups and denounced Jackson plus everyone associated with the tit scandal. (But FCC Democrat Michael Copps also wanted enforcement because he has long championed tighter monitoring of Big Media’s stranglehold on the airwaves.) This latest legal salvo claims the 3rd Circuit Court Of Appeals ruling in July was flawed and tred on FCC turf for thinking the fine against CBS stations was arbitrary and capricious. And let’s not forget that the FCC and Justice Department recently argued before the Supreme Court over the Fox profanity appeal earlier this month. The Bushies want the Supremes to wait until after the august body decides that case before considering the CBS one. Both concern so-called “fleeting” instances of indecency that the networks argue cannot possibly be blocked every time out because of their randomness and brevity despite best efforts. It’s expected that under the incoming Obama administration a Democratic-controlled FCC will return to the policy of restrained indecency enforcement for broadcast content, which was reined in by pressure from the then Republican-controlled Congress. But the two cases may test the social conservatism of the current … Read More »

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    New Bond Now Boasts $355M Worldwide

    By | Friday November 21, 2008 @ 10:23am PST


    MGM/Sony’s Quantum Of Solace goes into this weekend with an overseas total of $272.9M. In North America, it finished Week One at $82.1M (vs $63.2M for Casino Royale, so +30%). That makes its new worldwide number $355M. Yowza!

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    Wkd Prediction: Twilight $60M, Bolt $35M Vampire Movie’s Midnight Showings $7M; Fastest Online Ticket Sales Since Batman

    By | Friday November 21, 2008 @ 6:31am PST

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    FRIDAY 6 PM: I think these numbers are way too early, but studios are estimating Friday’s Twilight take at $30+M based on matinees and maybe $65M for the weekend. “It’s taking that extra right out of Bolt which will be more like $30M,” one mogul emails me. The first box office record has already been broken by girl power: this is the biggest opening for a female director. Catherine Hardwicke is easily beating Mimi Leder’s $41.1M for 1998′s Deep Impact. (But with an asterisk since these figures aren’t adjusted for inflation, ticket prices, etc.)

    FRIDAY AM: Summit Entertainment sources now tell me Twilight midnight screenings made ”north of $7 million” Thursday. That’s a big number. Some updates on the Twilight zone phenomenon: major online ticket-seller      Fandango has been selling 5 Twilight tickets per second as of early this morning. According to an online poll, 34% of moviegoers said they will take off a few hours from school or the office today to see the pic. It’s Fandango’s fastest-selling film since The Dark Knight in July of this year. It now occupies the #3 spot on Fandango’s list of Top Advance Ticket-Sellers, surpassing the Harry Potter, Pirates Of The Caribbean, and Lord of the Rings movies. (Only Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and The Dark Knight remain in the #1 and #2 spots, respectively.) Twilight also finished in the No. 5 slot on MovieTickets.com’s Top-5 Presellers of All-Time, one spot ahead … Read More »

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    Stalled SAG-AMPTP Talks Resume; Agents Want To Help WGA On New Media Pay

    By | Friday November 21, 2008 @ 12:06am PST

    SAG and the AMPTP met throughout Thursday and will continue meeting Friday, I’m told. There were no formal announcements by either side, thus indicating another news blackout. The federal mediator had arranged the first formal face-to-face in months between the two parties. But, given the history of their stalled negotiations, it’s not surprising that they don’t expect any real progress. The question, just as it was before the economic climate collapsed, is what has to happen to force a resolution for a new contract. The AMPTP clearly thought it could further marginalize the big actors union with Wednesday’s announcement that Big Media had reached a tentative contract agreement with IATSE. But I know there’s been real consternation within SAG over Wednesday’s other news: that Big Media have failed to comply with the WGA contract negotiated to end the 100-day writers strike by not making New Media payments to the writers. And that the WGA has filed for arbitration against the AMPTP. Seeing the writers get stiffed was a giant wake-up call for SAG and undermined the AMPTP’s own argument that the actors could have been collecting New Media residuals all this time if only they’d signed the Hollywood CEOs’ supposed “last best” offer many months ago.

    Meanwhile, I learned Thursday that at least two major agency heads want to help the WGA secure those unpaid New Media residuals from the Hollywood CEOs. Tenpercenters played a pivotal early role in getting the writers and moguls to talk to each other during the strike. And let’s not forget that the studios and networks still owe … Read More »

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    VIDEO: Letterman And Couric Talk McCain

    By | Thursday November 20, 2008 @ 6:48pm PST
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    Ax Falls On 3 Shows In ABC Primetime

    By | Thursday November 20, 2008 @ 3:46pm PST

    Today, Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, and Pushing Daisies were all cancelled after posting season lows among adults 18-49 this week. But ABC did order five more episodes of its new series (based on the British drama) Life On Mars. All the axed shows were marginal at best, and two were interrupted by the writers strike. Warner Bros’ Pushing Daisies was an expensive experiment. It began airing with big buzz but also had early budget and production problems from trying to sandwich 70 to 170 visual effects into every episode — so many that people considered it an unsustainable show. ABC Entertainment prez Steve McPherson called Bryan Fuller with the news: “We gave it the best shot we could.” This was also the show that ABC decided not to preempt for Barack Obama’s half-hour campaign commercial which every other major network aired. Dirty Sexy Money (ABC Studios/Berlanti) should have been put out of its misery last season. It’s been a major primetime headache for ABC, especially the showrunner musical chairs. First, Josh Reims left last year. Then Dexter’s Daniel Cerone sealed an overall deal with ABC Studios last fall and joined Dirty Sexy Money as showrunner right after the end of the writers’ strike in February. Then, in June, Cerone’s 3 already-shot episodes for the 2008-2009 season were thrown out (talk about an expensive decision), and he was replaced by Jon Harmon Feldman (whose Big Shots didn’t last very long on ABC but who had worked with Dirty Sexy Money‘s exec producer Greg Berlanti on … Read More »

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    Four PR Staffers Laid Off At PMK/HBH

    By | Thursday November 20, 2008 @ 3:46pm PST

    UPDATES: I’m hearing from tipsters that one of Hollywood’s top flacks there is also leaving. But I keep getting denials from PMK/HBH brass…

    Here are the names of the flacks whom PMK/HBH let go today: Craig Bankey had some notable clients, but Jennifer Holiner (veteran from the NY office), Andy Snyder and Karen Oberman (both there less than a year) mostly serviced existing clients. [UPDATE: I also hear they let go a freelance sports publicist out of Chicago.] “None are part of our senior management,” an insider tells me. “As you know, the economy is forcing everyone to make tough decisions and we didn’t make these without a lot of consideration. Given that, the agency remains extremely healthy. We are more diversified than ever and we feel we are well positioned for continued growth.”

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    MRC Fails So Miserably That CW Pulls Plug

    By | Thursday November 20, 2008 @ 1:08pm PST

    The last time I checked, MRC was living in Fantasyland and fully expecting to come up with substitute shows to replace cancelled series Valentine and Easy Money on the Sunday nights that The CW stupidly allowed these network TV neophytes to program this fall. Well, the experiment has failed. Broadcasting & Cable is first with the news just now that The CW has pulled the plug on 4Real and In Harm’s Way as well. Now the network will air repeats of the cancelled CBS fan favorite Jericho at 7 p.m., followed by a movie from a package purchased from MGM. So much for financier and producer Media Rights Capital’s supposedly ongoing authority to program Sunday nights on The CW for the entire 2008-2009 season. The shake-up was outlined today in a letter to CW affiliates from network COO John Maatta, according to B&C: “As you know, to focus our efforts on the earlier part of the week, we entered into a time buy agreement with an outside supplier to program Sunday night,” he wrote. “While this move has clearly paid dividends for the overall schedule, the results on Sunday night have been below expectations.  The MRC shows are simply not working. To that end, we have made a business and programming decision to protect our network and your local interests on Sunday for the remainder of the season.” Along the way, MRC’s contract TV programmer Keith Samples was fired. Although there have been rumors for days that co-CEOs Asif Satchu and Modi … Read More »

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    2ND UPDATE: PMK/HBH Layoffs Today

    By | Thursday November 20, 2008 @ 11:34am PST

    This was one of the big Hollywood flackeries I heard was going to be firing/laying off PR staff within 24 hours. I’ll have names by this afternoon, but one insider there now tells me no “senior” flacks there are exiting today.
    (See my previous: Hollywood Flackeries Plan Major Layoffs.)

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    Vivendi Hints At NBC Universal Stake Sale

    By | Thursday November 20, 2008 @ 9:46am PST

    News reports quote Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy as saying he’ll “make the decision in the next 2 or 3 weeks, so you will hear about it shortly” whether to sell its 20% holding in NBC Universal. He acknowledged it’s not a long-term investment even though “right now, considering the general expectations for the value of the assets, the dividend flow we get from NBCU is very good”. Vivendi’s option to sell a max $4 billion of NBCU shares runs from November 15th to the Friday of the first week of December. But GE can preempt it by buying back the stake which GE chief Jeff Immelt has said as recently as this week he “would do in a heartbeat”. Vivendi obtained the stake in 2004 when it sold its Universal Studios, USA and SciFi Networks, and other media assets assets to GE.

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    Moguls Have Reason To Fear Congress

    By | Thursday November 20, 2008 @ 9:05am PST

    News reports say the Democratic Caucus voted today for U.S Rep. Henry Waxman to replace Rep. John Dingell as chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, which oversees the FCC and other other communications issues. Dingell was seen as ridiculously friendly to the handful of moguls who maintain a stranglehold on the infotainment industry. Now there’s hope LA’s outspoken and fearless broadcasting critic uses the panel to crack down on Big Media’s run amok power and manipulations. The public has never needed Waxman more than now. UPDATE: I’m amazed that Variety thinks Waxman will be Big Media’s newest best friend. The moguls have been dreading this for some time. Because Waxman, among other things, is the guy who in 2000 demanded that NBC turn over in-house tapes that would prove once and for all whether GE’s then chairman Jack Welch ordered his network and cable stations to reverse course and call the election for Bush instead of Gore. Waxman also has taken a lead position on media independence and accountability issues by pushing for free airtime for candidates, trying to increase regulations on over-the-counter drug advertising, expressing concern about product placement, and railing against media depictions of smoking.

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    Since GE Stock Isn’t Low Enough…

    By | Thursday November 20, 2008 @ 8:49am PST

    If the people running it think this is a good idea, then no wonder GE Capital is in such a mess that it has to tap into the $700 billion government bailout of financials:

    NEW YORK (20 November 2008) – The Peacock Equity Fund, the joint venture between GE Capital’s Media, Communications & Entertainment finance business and NBC Universal, today announced that Ben Silverman has joined the fund’s Board of Directors. Silverman, the Co-Chairman of NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio, brings his experience in media, production, and advertising to help identify media investment opportunities for the $250 million fund, which has offices in New York, London, and Singapore.

    peacock-ben.JPG“We are extremely excited to have Ben join the Peacock board,” said Michael Chen, President & CEO of GE Capital’s Media, Communications & Entertainment business, and a Peacock board member. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and contacts in the media and entertainment space and a great track record that will help the Peacock Fund uncover the best investment opportunities.”

    “Peacock Equity has been incredibly successful and I’m honored to join the board,” said Silverman. “Entrepreneurs can utilize not only the traditional dynamics of this fund but also access the involvement of exceptional business units and leaders.”

    Peacock Equity is a $250 million global capital fund co-founded by GE Capital’s Media, Communications & Entertainment business and NBC Universal. Introduced in April 2007, the joint venture focuses on companies developing technologies, platforms or business models that are a strategic fit

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