SUNDAY 8 AM UPDATE: This over-hyped movie ended up being more trick than treat. Sources tell me the domestic numbers for Michael Jackson’s This Is It underperformed even more than Sony expected. And that the concert rehearsal footage pic took in just $20.7M this weekend and only $31.9M for the first five days it opened. Broken down per day, that’s $7.4M Wednesday, $3.7M Thursday, $7.8M Friday, $7.2M Saturday, and an estimated $5.8M for Sunday. But Sony’s official figures, and its overseas total and worldwide number, won’t be available until later Sunday. Meanwhile, Paramount’s Halloween thriller Paranormal Activity made $6M Friday, $6.6M Saturday, and an estimated $4M Sunday for a $16.6M weekend which should bring the low budget film’s cume to around $84.8M. (See chart below for updates. I’ll have a writethru later.)
SATURDAY 3 PM UPDATE: Sony is trying to lower expectations and now says it’s hoping for a $100M five-day total worldwide but would be happy with $90M. “But nobody knows what’s good. We are competing against a ghost,” one of the studio execs just told me.
SATURDAY 11:30 AM: Sony now is predicting $35M domestic and $65M international for a $100M five-day cumulative for Michael Jackson’s This Is It through Sunday.
SATURDAY AM: This is a tough weekend for U.S. moviegoing, especially since Hollywood hasn’t had a Halloween fall on a Saturday since 1998. All the horror and supernatural pics in theaters this weekend — Paramount’s low … Read More »
The Obama administration did a Friday afternoon news dump of the names of 500 visitors to the White House spanning the time period from January 20 to July 31, 2009. And almost no one from Hollywood showed up to meet the president or his family or his aides. Weird, especially since so much of Hollywood was supporting the Obama campaign. But the list is not comprehensive, just a response to specific disclosure requests. So who stopped by? George Clooney who once visited Vice President Joe Biden; Denzel Washington, twice, as part of a group tour; and Oprah who came by twice — once for a reception, and once to conduct an interview with Michelle Obama. Also, Jeff Immelt, chairman of GE which owns NBC/Universal, 4 times. And a guy named Michael Moore who visited 8 times and isn’t the Hollywood documentary maker.
October 29th, Variety: No Oscars For Jackman: “While speculation is running high on who’ll host the Oscarcast, it won’t be Hugh Jackman. Jackman, who’s currently starring on Broadway with Daniel Craig in the drama “A Steady Rain,” quietly turned down the job within the past several weeks, sources said.”
October 16th, Deadline Hollywood: Oscar Can’t Always Gets What He Wants: “I’m told that AMPAS is about to check on the availability of Hugh Jackman to host for the 2nd year in a row. What an honor for the Aussie actor, who recently helped the show win the Emmy. But I’ve learned people around Jackman are going to privately recommend against him doing it twice. “He’s a movie star, not a song and dance man,” one rep told me, especially since Hugh also hosted the Tony’s. So it looks as if new AMPAS president Tom Sherak is back at square one.”
3RD UPDATE: Here’s Miramax Films president Daniel Battsek’s email to staff:
After further reflection and discussion about the change in direction for Miramax, Rich Ross and I have agreed that I will step down as President of Miramax, effective the end of January, 2010. With this decision, we have also agreed that the best chance of success for Miramax is for the company to be located in Los Angeles, and I will work with the group on a transition plan. I’m very proud of all the great work we have accomplished here at Miramax and equally proud of my overall career at Disney.
Best -Daniel B.
2ND UPDATE: Consider that, just a month ago, Disney said the president of Miramax Films would “continue to oversee all aspects of creative, development, production and business and legal affairs” out of New York. I’ve learned that Miramax will close its New York office and move its Los Angeles headquarters to the Disney lot in Burbank. And instead of 6 to 8 films a year, Miramax will now put out 3. What’s still to be determined, I’m told, is how long Miramax will be left without a leader and how long it will continue to exist. But is this really existing? Especially after such a long and rich post-Weinstein Oscar history? Showing Daniel Battsek the door follows the “restructuring” of Miramax and the exits of president of production Keri Putnam and VP of acquisitions Peter Lawson. So another studio dismantles its specialty division, even though … Read More »
Hollywood already knows what a powerful marketing tool Twitter has become. But now Twitter subscribers are using that power to promote film piracy. Someone is promoting a web page that offers a full-length digital video of Paranormal Activity. Does Paramount Pictures know about this? UPDATE: The studio tells me, “It’s such a popular title with online folks. We are finding and removing a number of these.”
…”DB” who submitted:
A: “I hope this Douchebag can make me richer.”
S: “I hope this Douchebag can make me richer.”
WEDNESDAY PM UPDATE: I’m being picky about which captions I let through.
WEDNESDAY: Rose Palmisano of the Orange County Register took this photo of Ari Emanuel and Sacha Baron Cohen “enjoying” the Lakers game at Staples Center last night. It’s time once again for a Deadline Hollywood Photo Caption Contest, commenters: What are these two major players really thinking?
UPDATE: Mike Sitrick just confirmed to me that he has sold his “Crisis PR” company. Well, this is a surprise! According to the PRNewswire, Resources Global Professionals, a consultancy spinoff from Deloitte & Touche and a multinational operating subsidiary of Resources Connection Inc (RECN), will hold a conference call tomorrow “to discuss the creation of a new Corporate Advisory and Restructuring business through the acquisition of Sitrick And Company and Brincko Associates”. Sitrick and Company is the Century City-based flackery started by Sitrick that’s mostly corporate but also handles a lot of showbiz messes, from actor arrests to cinematic hot button issues.
Fox Releases New ‘Avatar’ Trailer
Clearly Fox is going all out for the male audience for Jim Cameron’s game-changing 3-D oeuvre Avatar opening December 18th. The studio announced today it’s arranging the biggest live trailer viewing on one of the biggest sports days of the year (with key NFL match-ups + Game 4 of the World Series) November 1st. That’s when the Avatar trailer will get the world’s biggest live trailer viewing when it debuts live on the world’s largest video display at Cowboy Stadium’s Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision Screen while millions of football fans watch it at home. It will be carried by FOX Sports on FOX NFL SUNDAY before the Dallas Cowboys-Seattle Seahawks game live just minutes prior to the noon (Central time) kickoff. In addition, throughout the day, 90-second Avatar commercial spots will air on all regional games carried on the Fox affiliates, as well as on the national game on Fox, and on the World Series on Fox.
THURSDAY NOON: Hollywood is predicting that Sony’s This Is It will have trouble making its expected $50 million in 5 days domestically based on Wednesday’s $7.4 million opening including $2.2M from Tuesday night. Today will probably come in at the $4M range. And estimates now are for $20+M for Fri/Sat/Sun. So that comes out to a 5-day number in the low $30sM. ”And with Halloween killing Saturday, Sony’d better have a hell of a Sunday to make it much past $20M for the weekend,” one rival studio exec emails. And with international figures coming in weaker than expected, “my $90M all-in number looks like a pipe dream.”
THURSDAY 10:30 AM: Sony just announced that Michael Jackson’s This Is It opened Wednesday all around the world in 99 countries with a 1-day gross of $20.1 million. The studio’s press statement called it “an extraordinary start” but, immediately, Hollywood considered that number disappointing after all the pre-sales hype surrounding the concert footage and its 2-week limited run. The film opened to a paltry $7.4 million domestic even including Tuesday’s $2.2M late night showings. That’s almost 50% less than the $17M Sony hoped for, and 39% less than the $12M Hollywood expected. “This is not promising,” a rival studio exec just told me even though Sony Pictures paid $60M to concert promoter AEG for the rehearsal footage. But a Sony spokesman challenges that: “We took in 1/3 of what the film … Read More »
Six writers won the 24th annual Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Each writer or writing team will receive the first installment of a $30,000 prize at a gala dinner in Beverly Hills on November 12. This year’s winners are (listed alphabetically by author): Matt Ackley of Los Angeles for Victoria Falls; Vineet Dewan and Angus Fletcher of Los Angeles for Sand Dogs; John Griffin of Los Angeles for Dream Before Waking; Nidhi Anna Verghese of Los Angeles for Jallianwala Bagh; Jeff Williams of Wake Forest, N.C. for Pure. The winners were selected from a record 6,380 scripts submitted for this year’s competition open to any individual who has not sold or optioned a screenplay or teleplay for more than $5,000, or received a fellowship or prize that includes a “first look” clause, an option, or any other quid pro quo involving the writer’s work. Final judging of the competition was conducted by the Nicholl Committee, chaired by writer and 1992 Nicholl fellow Susannah Grant, and composed of writers Naomi Foner, Daniel Petrie Jr, Tom Rickman and Dana Stevens; actor Eva Marie Saint; cinematographers John Bailey and Steven B. Poster; executive Bill Mechanic; producers Gale Anne Hurd, David Nicksay, Peter Samuelson and Robert W. Shapiro; marketing executive Buffy Shutt; and agent Ronald R. Mardigian. Fellowships are awarded with the understanding that the recipients will each complete a feature-length screenplay during their fellowship year. Since the program’s inception in 1985, … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: This is how Epix is launching as it bills itself as the “next generation” premium entertainment service from Viacom, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, MGM/UA, Samuel Goldwyn Films, and Roadside Attractions. For the more than one million people invited to experience the free weekend previews starting today, it’s available on a first come, first serve basis through Thanksgiving weekend. I’ve learned that EPIX is reaching out to U.S. consumers about the free weekend preview through social media, online fan sites, and traditional advertising on television, radio, print, online and out-of-home to invite them to experience EpixHD.com. To participate, online visitors to EPIX’s website can register for free online 3-day weekend-long passes giving them complete access to the launch programming. The lineup includes Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet: Live from Buenos Aires, Marvel/Paramount’s Iron Man, and the exclusive comedy special Eddie Izzard: Live From Wembley. The EPIX launch weekend will also debut more than 15 world television premieres with a combined worldwide box office value of more than $2.5 billion — including Paramount’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Lionsgate’s Tyler Perry hit Madea Goes to Jail, MGM’s Pink Panther 2, Paramount/Lucasfilm’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Paramount’s Cloverfield. Also offered are more than 150 films and additional programming in an online on-demand format. To lure younger viewers, EpixHD.com has some technological tricks to showcase, like an online screening room feature which enables consumers to invite up to four friends anywhere to watch movies while … Read More »
Continuing his mega-media blitz of self-promotion for his newly named company Electus, Ben Silverman gave an interview to Worth magazine. Here are the interesting bits:
Worth: You arrived at NBC with a glowing public image. That changed almost overnight.
Ben Silverman: It was shocking how stupid some [reporters] were in their lack of research or their lack of knowledge. [In 2007] I’m the only two-time comedy Emmy nominee as an exec producer, and I throw a party for it and all people talk about is that I threw a party.
Worth: You’re referring to the infamous “White Tiger Party,” featuring bikini-clad women dancing on ﬂoats and a white tiger in a cage.
Ben Silverman: Someone else threw the party for me. I didn’t know that there was going to be a tiger there. Once I was there, I went with it.
Worth: Another controversy came when you compared rival network heads to “D-Girls,” meaning powerless female executives. Would you take back that remark?
Ben Silverman: Yes. Totally. That I totally regret.
Worth: Nikki Finke, the blogger who writes DeadlineHollywood.com, was brutal to you, posting frequently about what she calls “the Ben Silverman experiment.” What was your response?
Ben Silverman: How do you have time? You’re either in the business, moving the business, or you’re sitting at home with your left-over food bitching about the business. I’m like, “Who cares”?
Worth: Still, bad press is a factor in your business.
Ben Silverman: It’s only a factor when you’re at NBC. Because NBC cares.
Disney-ABC TV today filed paperwork seeking approval from Los Angeles County for a huge 56-acre production facility on property it has long owned in the Santa Clarita Valley. It would include a dozen soundstages, almost doubling the number it has now in LA County. Predictions are for a $533 million economic boost to the region and about 2,854 new full- and part-time jobs. It’ll be called the Disney/ABC Studios at the Ranch, located on the western edge of Disney’s 890-acre Golden Oak Ranch.
I’ve just confirmed the AllThingsD and BusinessWeek report that Quincy Smith, the one-time investment banker turned digital guru, is leaving his job in January as CEO of CBS Interactive to start his own consulting firm. (Back when he was venture capilatist and then investment banker with Allen And Company, Smith advised Google and Comcast.) Smith will continue to provide consulting services to CBS. Since joining CBS in early 2006, Smith has been Les Moonves’ top new media advisor who counseled CBS to keep its distance from Hulu.com unlike NBC, Fox and ABC. Under his guidance, the company has been building its own TV distribution arm through its TV.com site. Smith also was a key architect of the $1.8 billion acquisition of CNET last year. At CBS, he is CEO of the unit that includes CNET sites as well as the cbs.com and cbsports.com that distribute shows from CBS’s existing businesses. Smith was also a key driver behind CBS’s efforts to stream high-end sporting events, including the annual Final Four college basketball tournment games.
UPDATES Michael Jackson’s ‘This Is It’ Hot Online
UPDATES AEG Predicts Jacko Pic Will Make ‘$250M In First 5 Days’
THIS IS IT is Fandango’s #3 top advance lonline ticket-seller of 2009 so far. It didn’t beat HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE (#1) or NEW MOON (#2). By the way, a lot of folks are dressing up like Michael Jackson for Halloween: according to a Fandango survey, he’s the No. 1 choice for movie-inspired Halloween costume among men and No. 9 among women.
2ND UPDATE: WME says its head of East Coast Television and Lifestyle & Branding Group head Jon Rosen is staying with the agency. This despite several sources close to Rosen claiming he asked to be let out of his contract in order to start his own business. NY-based Rosen is a former William Morris “old school” agent with 17 years experience. WME does confirm that Rosen’s contract with Morris was up around the time of the merger, and that he signed another deal that has an out clause coming up in June. Rosen’s pals say WME’s Ari Emanuel told him, “You need to show up for work every day, and on the last day of your contract I’ll walk you to the door.” But WMA sources insist Rosen has had ”many, many conversations with Ari and inner circle board members that have been very positive about his future here.” Rosen’s clients include Rachael Ray, Al Roker, Bobby Flay, Lara Spencer, Donnie Deutsch, Lisa Ling, production companies and executive producers.