SUNDAY AM: It’s a dull pre-Oscar weekend at the North American box office with only two major releases are genres fighting each other for No. 2. There were better than expected grosses considering the East Coast was slapped with another harsh snowstorm. Otherwise, there’s not much to say. Holdover Shutter Island, the Marty Scorsese/Leo DiCaprio psychological thriller from Paramount, will easily stay No. 1 again with just a 41% drop from a week ago. It made $6.7M Friday and $10.4M Saturday for a $22.2M weekend and estimated cume of $75M. Warner Bros’ Bruce Willis/Tracy Morgan buddy comedy Cop Out (formerly entitled A Couple Of Dicks) opened Friday with $6.2M Friday and $7.8M Saturday for a $18.5M weekend which shows audiences are starved for laughs. Gee, you don’t think director Kevin Smith’s nationally blown-out-of-proportion fight with Southwest Airlines was a PR grab by this publicity hog, do you? It’s the first film he helmed that he also didn’t write. Overture’s doomsday horror pic The Crazies co-financed by Participant Media and Imagenation Abu Dhabi debuted with $5.7M Friday and $6.4M Saturday for a $16M weekend due to heavy TV ad rotation. Fox’s Avatar crossed $700M domestic. And Sony Pictures Classics platformedg the French language prisoner drama A Prophet in 9 NY and LA locations after it’s won several awards and is Oscar nominated. Industry types all weekend emailed me from the theaters gushing how good this … Read More »
Documentary filmmaker RJ Cutler, who directed the Anna Wintour/Vogue profile The September Issue, is heading from high fashion to the Hamptons social swirl. Cutler successfully pitched Warner Bros on the feature film Au Pairs, an adaptation of the Melissa de la Cruz novel about three teenage girls from different socioeconomic backgrounds who work as nannies for a wealthy family in the Hamptons one summer. The girls balance their domestic duties with their suddenly interesting social lives. The pic is being produced by Drew Barrymore and Nancy Juvonen of Flower Films and Les Morgenstein and Bob Levy of Alloy. Liz Garcia wrote the first draft and another writer will be brought in to execute Cutler’s vision for the film. The intention is to shoot this summer in East Hampton where I’m sure residents will be thrilled. This sounds like The Nanny Diaries but with 3 strong roles for teenage actresses. Cutler also produced such documentaries as The War Room. He’s repped by WME.
Oy, now there’s even more about Oscar badmouthing, and this is even more unimportant. I’ve learned that Hurt Locker financier and producer Nicolas Chartier today admitted to Summit Entertainment he sent more emails about Avatar. But these weren’t mass mailings to Oscar voters; rather, they were simply individual messages sent to personal acquaintances, including one that specifically said Avatar should be placed No. 10 on the Best Pictures list. Sources tell me that Chartier copped to it when Summit’s Rob Friedman today picked up the phone to question the producer about a new allegation from a Los Angeles Times blog that there were more Chartier emails. That prompted Summit to send out the following statement just now: “Summit and our consultants were completely unaware of any emails that were sent until we were alerted by the Academy earlier this week. Thus we also had no additional knowledge of different text that may have been sent by this producer.”
Summit through its flacks have asked LA Times blogger Pete Hammond to forward even one of the emails mentioned today, but the blogger has refused. His reason? It would “violate the confidentiality” of the recipient who is the producer’s personal acquaintance “so Chartier would know who it is” if made public. I have not seen these personal emails myself. I do think, however, that the Los Angeles Times should have explained in its posting that there was no other mass mailing to Oscar voters by Chartier. It makes a … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Summit Entertainment has acquired domestic distribution rights for The Three Musketeers, a 3-D period adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel that will be directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Constantin Films and Impact Pictures are producing a film that will be shot in “real 3-D.” The action will be shot in Babelsberg Studios in Germany, and on location in France. The late summer start gives Anderson a decided advantage over a rival film based on Dumas’ swordsmen that has taken root at Warner Bros. That film was conjured up by producer Lionel Wigram with a stylized take similar to the one that breathed life into Sherlock Holmes. Peter Straughan (The Men Who Stared at Goats) is writing the script.
What the Anderson-directed 3-D Musketeers won’t have is Taylor Lautner, who is in business with Summit on two more Twilight sequels and the action film Cancun. He had been offered the role, but passed last week.
From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: You wait ages for one cozy class-bound drama to come along again, and then two come along at the same time. Bit like London buses really. The BBC this week announced it has signed a deal with PBS to remake that classic ITV drama Upstairs, Downstairs, which told the story of the aristocratic Bellamy family and their staff and stayed a huge Sunday night hit for ITV in the 1970s. PBS’ Masterpiece Theater had a good run with it in the U.S., too. This new Upstairs, Downstairs for the Beeb will be a 3-part series set just before World War II in the same London house as the original. WGBH Boston and BBC Worldwide will co-produce the show to air next year.
However, next month ITV starts filming what seems like a remarkably similar series. Downton Abbey is for all intents and purposes a weekly TV version of Robert Altman’s hit film Gosford Park. Carnival Films/NBCU has even hired Julian Fellowes, Gosford Park’s Oscar-winning screenwriter, to pen most of the 7 episodes. Downton Abbey will star Dame Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Duchess of Grantham, with Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern. There’s even a butler called Carson and a cook called Mrs Hughes similar to Upstairs, Downstairs’ butler Hudson and cook Mrs Bridges.
From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: There’s a great scoop in this morning’s Times of London but it’s bad news for American television producers: the BBC could have 1/3 less to spend on importing Hollywood TV shows such as Mad Men and Heroes. That’s because the BBC Trust, the corporation’s governing body, is to try and push BBC boss Mark Thompson into slashing his £100 million U.S. acquisition budget by 33%. Current plans call for the state broadcaster to cut its foreign programme budget by 25%. The plans are detailed in a strategic review of the BBC, due to be published next month, a copy of which was leaked to the newspaper. The overhaul also includes closing two radio stations and shutting half of its website.
The review assumes that the annual £3.6 billion state grant will be frozen in 2013. The overhaul will be seen as an attempt to show the Tories that that the BBC doesn’t need government intervention to get its house in order. The Tories have been unhappy about how big the BBC has grown for some time. Mark Thompson, the head of the BBC, will admit that the state broadcaster has become too large, and must shrink to give the private sector a chance. The BBC is already the size of the British book publishing industry. Rivals have long complained that the BBC just maps everything they do commercially, putting them out of business.
Some snarkster sent this to me a few days ago. I think it deserves equal time since Nicolas Chartier’s email has gotten so much publicity:
From: Jake Sully
I hope all is well with you. I just wanted to write you and say I hope you liked Avatar and if you did and want us to win, please tell (name deleted) and your friends who vote for the Oscars, tell actors, directors, crew members, art directors, special effects people, if everyone tells one or two of their friends, we will win and not a film that grossed $6M at the box-office, we need movies that people actually see to win, like the movies you and I do, so if you believe Avatar is the best movie of 2010, help us!
I’m sure you know plenty of people you’ve worked with who are academy members, in fact many of them likely worked on Avatar which employed hundreds of people (many from Los Angeles) and did not make the movie with 6 Brits and a number of Jordanians, please take 5 minutes and contact them. Please call one or two persons, everything will help!
Jake Sully, Pandora Films
If you never saw Nicolas Chartier’s email, Read More »
Jay Leno made news when he announced that Sarah Palin will be among his high-profile guests when he returns to The Tonight Show next week (aka “The Jaysurrection”). Now David Letterman’s lineup for next week pits Mitt Romney against Sarah Palin on Tuesday night — and the ratings may well provide clues on which probable GOP presidential contender may be most popular. The week’s lineup for Letterman’s Late Show are: MONDAY, Bill Murray; TUESDAY, Mitt Romney; WEDNESDAY, Jerry Seinfeld and Tom Brokaw; THURSDAY, Tom Hanks; and FRIDAY, Matt Damon. Leno’s first week of guests are: MONDAY, Jamie Foxx, Olympic Gold Medal Skier Lindsey Vonn; TUESDAY, Sarah Palin, Olympic Gold Medal Snowboarder Shaun White; WEDNESDAY, “Jaywalk All-Stars” with the Cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore, Chelsea Handler, and the most decorated American Winter Olympian of all time Speed Skater Apolo Anton Ohno; THURSDAY, Matthew McConaughey and Jason Reitman; FRIDAY, Morgan Freeman and Meredith Vieira.
UPDATES Oscar Campaign Badmouthing Has Begun!
Aren’t you shocked, shocked, that there’s badmouthing during awards season? And don’t you love how some media are pretending this is the end of Hollywood as we know it? Today, Summit Entertainment issued the following statement: ”An enthusiastic and naive young producer made a mistake. When we found out, we asked him to stop immediately and let the Academy know and he is making amends.” I hear Summit’s Rob Friedman is pissed this is now a cause celebre. (I bet he now wishes financier Nicolas Chartier had been shut out of a producing credit altogether. See ‘Hurt Locker’ Oscar Credits Controversy.) Already today rumors are flying that the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is holding an “emergency meeting” about how to discipline the pic’s filmmakers. Boo-hoo: all AMPAS ever does anyway is take away some Oscar tickets.
So what if on Feb 19th Chartier sent out that e-mail message asking for Hurt Locker votes and not that “$500M film”. When it appeared in my email, I laughed. Not only because the Voltage Pictures partner didn’t have the guts to even mention Avatar by name. But for months now I have been sent so many emails from so many studios and filmmakers and flacks and insiders badmouthing every rival nominee this Oscar season and talking up their own. How the hell am I to tell them apart? Or tattle on them all? This is the … Read More »
This may be welcome news to people like me who have Jennifer Aniston fatigue. After receiving Golden Globe, Emmy, and SAG nominations for her title role in the canceled ABC sitcom Samantha, Who?, Christina Applegate is segueing once again from TV to film. She’s about to close a deal to join Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, and Jenna Fischer in Hall Pass, the Farrelly brothers comedy for New Line. Applegate will play one of the wives who give a hall pass to their husbands allowing them to have sex with another woman without consequence. Written by Bobby Farrelly, Kevin Barnett, Peter Farrelly and Peter Jones, the pic began shooting this week in Atlanta. The film is being produced by Bobby Farrelly, Bradley Thomas, and Peter Farrelly with Peter Farrelly directing. Applegate also stars alongside Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, and Charlie Day in the upcoming comedy Going The Distance, also for New Line. She is repped by Management 360, CAA, and lawyer Steve Warren.
Now everyone is reporting the story we broke on January 25th: TV TUG OF WAR: It’s Ellen vs Simon.
From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: You may be upset or relieved to hear my news that Howard Stern definitely won’t be joining American Idol as the judge replacing Simon Cowell. According to my sources close to the show, the new judge will be announced at the end of the current run. Whoever gets the gig will have a sweet deal: 19 Entertainment, the London-based company which created American Idol, has a budget of $38 million to spend on Cowell’s replacement.
From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: Michael Grade, ITV’s former executive chairman, has become non-executive chairman of UK management agency James Grant Group. The agency represents TV presenters, including ITV mainstays Ant & Dec, America’s Got Talent judge Piers Morgan and radio DJ Fearne Cotton. Holly Pye, the highly-regarded ex-WME reality television agent, joined James Grant last month.