Brillstein Reups With ABC Studios & Reorganizes TV Unit, Peter Traugott Exits

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 12:25pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Brillstein Entertainment Partners has signed a new two-year deal with ABC Studios, which will bring the company’s current tenure at ABC to eight years. Under the new pact, Brillstein Entertainment is reorganizing its TV division. Peter Traugott, who has run the TV unit for the past five years, will leave to form his own production company, which I hear will be based at NBC. Brillstein is coming off one of its strongest development seasons since setting up shop at ABC Studios in 2005. (Brillstein Entertainment’s predecessor, Brillstein-Grey, also had a TV financing deal with ABC in the mid-1990s). The company landed three pilot orders, for comedies My Freakin’ Family and Other People’s Kids at ABC and drama Ringer at CBS, which stars Brillstein client Sarah Michelle Gellar. Ringer went to series at the CW, with ABC Studios pulling out as an active co-producer but retaining passive interest. “We’ve enjoyed a long and close relationship with ABC Studios,” said Brillstein Entertainment Partners CEO Jon Liebman. “We love working with the people there and appreciate the studio’s continued commitment to building our television company.” Brillstein’s most recent series were ABC’s According to Jim, which continues to air in syndication, and Samantha Who?, both of which ended their runs in 2009. While known mainly as a comedy series producer, Brillstein has been looking to branch out, and Ringer marks its second drama series after HBO’s The Sopranos.

As for the ongoing reorganization of Brillstein’s TV division, the decision for TV president Traugott to leave was amicable. “Peter has been part of our company for many years,” Liebman said. “He is a talented producer and our good friend, and we genuinely wish him the best.” Read More »

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Paramount And Fake Empire Buy ‘Let It Snow’

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 12:11pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures-based Fake Empire has acquired Let It Snow, a pitch package that includes rights to an anthology of three intersecting short stories by young-adult novelists John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. The script will be written by … Read More »

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George Lucas Has 50 Hours Of Scripts For ‘Star Wars’ Series

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 11:26am PDT
Mike Fleming

George Lucas gave a long-winded explanation of why the re-release of the Star Wars prequel trilogy will be important, in an interview with G4′s Attack of the Show. Personally, I was underwhelmed by the prequel and am not as sparked up for a 3D conversion as I would if The Read More »

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Universals Ups Nicholas Carpou To Co-President Of Distribution

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 11:04am PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Universal’s legendary President of Distribution Nikki Rocco is promoting Nicholas Carpou from EVP/General Sales Manager in Distribution to Co-President of Distribution. “For recognition of his 25 years here and 34 years in the biz,” an insider tells me. “He’s a tremendous right hand to Nikki. It’s time.” Rocco, of course, has been President of Distribution at the studio since 1996 and remains the only top female in the male-dominated field (when she was appointed, all the guys said a woman wouldn’t last six months in the job). She’s been in the business for 44 years. You gotta love it. … UPDATE: Universal has issued a press release announcing the promotion:

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA (May 31, 2011) — Universal Pictures’ President of Distribution Nikki Rocco today announced that as of June 1, Nicholas Carpou will become Co-President of Distribution for the film studio.

Carpou, who currently serves as Executive Vice President of Distribution, has been with Universal for 29 years. In his new role, Carpou will become more involved in the day-to-day management and operations of the studio’s distribution division and at this time will remain responsible for oversight of Canada, the Eastern United States and Puerto Rico. He will continue to report to Rocco and work closely with Executive Vice President, General Sales Manager of Distribution, Mark Gaines and Universal’s sales team.

Read More »

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‘Kung Fu Panda 2′ Kicks Up Anti-3D Sentiment On Wall Street

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 10:55am PDT

Investors are jumping on the anti-3D bandwagon as the weekend’s lackluster sales of 3D tickets for DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 2 seemed to confirm that audiences are fed up with the higher prices exhibitors are charging for … Read More »

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‘Camelot’s Jamie Campbell Bower Gets Lead in Screen Gems’ ‘The Mortal Instruments’

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 9:43am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Screen Gems has made its choice: Jamie Campbell Bower will get the male lead in The Mortal Instruments, the Scott Charles Stewart-directed adaptation of the Cassandra Clare novel series. He’ll play Jace Wayland, starring alongside Lily Collins, who’ll play … Read More »

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AMC Sets ‘Breaking Bad’ Return Date

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 9:42am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

The wait is over — the delayed Season 4 of AMC’s praised drama Breaking Bad will premiere on Sunday, July 17. The cable network took a longer-than-usual break between Season 3 of the show, which launched in March of last year, and Season 4, rendering the series ineligible for this … Read More »

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Kim Rozenfeld Joins Sony TV As EVP & Head Of Current Programming

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 9:30am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures TV is rebuilding its current executive ranks with the hire of former ABC head of current Kim Rozenfeld as EVP current programming. Rozenfeld will oversee all on-air series for Sony, which had been without a head of current for more than a year, since 25-year Sony TV veteran Jeanie Bradley left in February 2010 as part of the company-wide layoffs at Sony Pictures Entertainment. The across-the-board cuts claimed about 450 jobs, including Bradley, VP current programming Debra Curtis and manager of current programming Rose Lee, leaving VP John Westphal as the only remaining member of Sony TV’s current department. Westphal will now work under Rozenfeld. This marks Rozenfeld’s return to the studio where he started his executive career as director of series development for Columbia TriStar TV. Rozenfeld most recently had a pod deal at ABC Studios, to which he segued after his position as SVP and head of current at ABC was eliminated in June 2009 in an executive restructuring that included current duties being folded into ABC and ABC Studios’ drama and comedy departments. As a producer, Rozenfeld recently executive produced the ABC Family series Huge through his Half Full Entertainment banner. He joined ABC in 2005 as SVP current drama and took oversight of both comedy and drama series in 2008. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Bachelorette’ Slips, ‘Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss’ Debut OK

Nellie Andreeva

As the only network with an all-original lineup, ABC easily won Monday in adults 18-49 (2.2/6) and total viewers (7.1 million). Moving to its regular 8-10 PM time slot, The Bachelorette (2.1/6) was down 23% from its premiere behind the … Read More »

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‘Countdown With Keith Olbermann’ Taps EP

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 8:33am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

David Sarosi of Keith Olbermann’s old Countdown show on MSNBC has been named executive producer of Olbermann’s new Countdown on Current TV, which will premiere June 20. “Nobody knows what Countdown should be, more than Dave Sarosi,” said Olbermann, host of Countdown With Keith Olbermann and Chief News Officer at … Read More »

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Donald Sutherland Joins ‘The Hunger Games’

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 8:24am PDT
Mike Fleming

Lionsgate has set Donald Sutherland to play the role of President Snow in The Hunger Games, the trilogy that will be directed by Gary Ross based on the Suzanne Collins novels. Snow is the autocratic ruler of Panem who uses … Read More »

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ReelzChannel Taps SVP Of Programming

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 7:01am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

ReelzChannel, which is stepping up its original programming efforts, has appointed Matthew Singerman as SVP of programming. Singerman had been a consultant with the channel since January and assisted in the marketing and scheduling of The Kennedys miniseries. He previously worked for five years as SVP of programming at TV … Read More »

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‘The Hobbit’ Films Get Release Dates

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 4:44am PDT
Mike Fleming

The first of the Peter Jackson-directed installments will be called The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and Warner Bros will release the film Dec. 14, 2012. The second installment, The Hobbit: There And Back Again, will be released a year later, … Read More »

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‘X FACTOR’ JUDGE DRAMA 4TH UPDATE: Cheryl Cole Out Of British ‘X Factor’ Too

MONDAY: She was sought after for both the U.K. and the U.S. versions of X Factor. Now Cheryl Cole won’t be a part of either of them. After getting axed from the upcoming Fox edition of the singing competition, there was speculation that Cole would return to the British version of the show. But no deal was reached, and the X Factor network ITV announced earlier today that the judges for the upcoming season of the show will be Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos, Kelly Rowland and the only returning member of the panel, Louis Walsh. “These four are totally up for it, each of them bring a different attitude,” X Factor chief Simon Cowell said in a statement. “They have had a ton of hits between them and they are all committed to finding a star.” Cowell, who made an appearance as a judge on his other U.K. talent competition series, Britain’s Got Talent, over the weekend, got ribbed by co-host Dec over Cole’s dismissal. “Can you understand my accent Simon,” asked Dec, who shares the same Geordie roots as Cole. Read More »

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EMMYS: ‘Two And A Half Men’ Won’t Compete For Best Comedy Series

By | Monday May 30, 2011 @ 9:04am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: With 16 produced and aired episodes, this past eighth season of the CBS comedy Two and a Half Men is eligible for a best comedy series Emmy Award. But the veteran sitcom, which has been the subject of controversy … Read More »

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BIGGEST MEMORIAL WEEKEND B.O. EVER! ‘Hangover Part 2′ Shatters Comedy Records For $138M Domestic/194M Worldwide Total; ‘Kung Fu Panda 2′ Kicks Up $123M Global; ‘Pirates 4′ Sails Past $640M Cume In 12 Days

By | Monday May 30, 2011 @ 5:01am PDT

SUNDAY PM/MONDAY AM, 7TH UPDATE: As a frustrated studio bigwig who didn’t have a fresh film playing emailed me dripping sarcasm, “Yay, another day of counting other people’s money.” I told you to Memorial-ize this holiday because the 2011 North American box office slump is officially over thanks to moviegoers starved for comedy. Now the official start of the 2011 Summer Movie Season has set a record for the biggest Memorial Weekend box office ever – $275M overall for the 4-day holiday. Which easily beat 2007 as the highest grossing (when Pirates Of The Caribbean 3, and Shrek 3, and Spider-Man 3 ran 1-2-3 for $254M). And it beat last year’s overall total by almost +50%. YOWZA! Here is North American box office for the Top 10 movies:

1. The Hangover Part 2 (Legendary/Warner Bros) NEW [3,615 Theaters]
Thursday $31.6M, Friday $29.8M, Saturday $30M, Sunday $26M
Three-day Weekend $85M, Four-day Memorial Holiday $103
Five-Day Cume $135M, Intl Cume $59M, Global Cume $194M

It was one of the most anticipated sequels of the summer. And while the derivative content may have disappointed — oh, hell, I’ll just say it: this was shamefully just like the original (“The Wolfpack Is Back”) except transplanted to Thailand — the humongous holiday grosses sure didn’t. “It doesn’t get much better than this,” an exultant Warner Bros bigwig emailed me. One reason for the giant number is because 80% of U.S. colleges were out Thursday and Friday. So Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures’ Hangover 2 is the biggest 3-day weekend comedy debut ever, beating The Simpsons Movie‘s $74M. And it shattered all R-rated comedy records, both weekend and even first week numbers for Sex And The City ($56.8M/$79M). Hangover Part 2 opened after midnight Thursday in a wide 2,600 locations with $10.4 million. That was a big number and set the record for the highest grossing R-rated midnight show. (The previous record was Paranormal Activity‘s $6.3M.) It set another R-rated film record by debuting in 3,615 theaters. With the first Hangover in 2009 having made $44.9M the weekend of June 5, the sequel was expected to nearly double that for the same period, and then soar as high as $125 million according to some rival studio estimates for the five-day-long weekend. But even that was a modest guesstimate. (Warner Bros low-balled the five-day estimate at $100M.) Then again, this was a 2D feature without the higher 3D ticket prices. And it had only 33% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes going into this weekend. But the lure of a replay with the original cast including Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis under director Todd Phillips was irresistable. Exit polling showed that 51% of the audience was female, and 41% of moviegoers were aged 18 to 24 and 13% were under 18. Moviegoers gave the pic an “A-” CinemaScore overall, with under 18 rating it “A+”. The film played strong in both blue and red states with Los Angeles overindexing to lead the major cities. 

Internationally, Hangover 2 opened in 40 countries on 5,170 screens to a humongous $59m with 7.2m admissions, which is 3 times higher than the opening of H1 in the same markets. UK debuted to a massive £10.2m (US $16.4M) from 920 screens in 469 situations, making this the all-time biggest opening weekend for a U.S. comedy (all ratings) and the biggest opening weekend to date in 2011 (ahead of Pirates 4).

The studio’s strategy for selling Hangover 2 was “to stoke the very high anticipation coming off of the first movie by promising even more  outrageous comedy — an insanely good time with the guys you love in the exotic locale of Bangkok,” an exec tells me. The buzz for the movie transcended anything in the genre, and tracking had been at summer tentpole levels. The campaign kicked off with a teaser trailer in February, and a main trailer that launched on April 1st. TV was key, taking advantage of the highly-rated NBA playoffs and network primetime season finales. The publicity included a hosting position for Zach Galifianakis on SNL in March and Ed Helms in May as well as a heavy magazine campaign of covers. Warner Bros also participated in the National Association of Theatre Owners convention in Las Vegas and showed footage from the film. Press tours were completed in Toronto, New York, and Philadelphia, while screenings were hosted in Top 60 markets around the country. Online was also key to the sell with 13 million fans on Facebook (a staggering number) who regularly received content from the studio. In addition, there was a game based on the Mr. Chow character, and an omnipresent online advertising campaign.

2. Kung Fu Panda 2 3D (DWA Animation/Paramount) NEW [3,925 Theaters]
Thursday $5.8M, Friday $13.1M, Saturday $18.6M, Sunday $16.3M
Three-Day Weekend $48M, Four-Day Memorial Holiday $60M
Five-Day Cume $66M, Intl Cume $57M, Global Cume $123M

DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 2 distributed by Paramount earned an “A” CinemaScore and its opening tally was on target for a 3D film with higher ticket prices. But its grosses started out slowly because only 10% of K-12 schools were out on Thursday and just 20% on Friday. The toon sequel built strength daily for the extra long 5-day holiday. Internationally, sequels always do better than in this country, and Kung Fu Panda 2 opened in 11 territories this weekend to a heavyweight total of $57M from 8,023 locations. The Dragon Warrior came in at #1 in nine of the territories it played in, shattering a string of records in the process. This opening represents 29% of the international markets on the film. Natch, it posted huge #1 totals in China ($18.5M from 5,540 positions) with Saturday’s opening day the all-time highest debut by a foreign film, exceeding the record set last weekend by Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 by a staggering 50%. Kung Fu Panda 2 became the highest grossing animated film ever released in 7 of its 11 debut markets this weekend.

Paramount had to position the toon so audiences understood what was new in this sequel about Po’s personal journey to discover who he really is. A teaser trailer was launched with DreamWorks Animation’s Megamind back on November 4th. On TV, the marketing campaign had spots running for 24 hours beginning with a New Year’s Eve Takeover on Fox, ABC, NBC, BET, and MTV carrying throughout the next day on kids programming as well as heavy frequency on cable networks. There also was a float at the Macy’s Day Parade, ads during the Rose Bowl Parade, followed by a pre-kickoff SuperBowl spot. A final trailer ran with Paramount’s own production Rango on March 4th. At the Kids Choice Awards, Jack Black hosted and had a conversation three times with an animated Po. Online, there was a first-ever in-game integration within CityVille, Facebook’s largest and most popular application, a Youtube homepage takeover last Monday, and then a Yahoo homepage takeover Friday. Footage was presented at NATO’s Cinemacon with Jack making a presentation in person. A worldwide junket and photo op was done at the Cannes Film Festival with Angelina Jolie and Dustin Hoffman joining Black there. A giant Hollywood premiere was held at Mann’s Chinese Theater, followed by a first ever live morning premiere last Tuesday in NYC. Jack surprised audiences of The Today Show with tickets. The Atlanta Zoo named a newborn panda Po in honor of Kung Fu Panda 2 and Black went to the naming ceremony. Furthermore, there was outreach to both the Girl Scouts and Martial Arts schools. Phew!  

3. Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 3D (Disney) Week 2 [4,164 Theaters]
Friday $10.8M, Saturday $15.1M, Sunday $13.3M
Three-Day Weekend $40M (-45%), Four-Day Memorial Holiday $51M
Cume $164.6M, Intl Cume $483M, Global Cume $647M

This weekend Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 crossed the $600M global threshhold in only 12 days after releasing into 100% of its international markets, which the studio says matched the industry speed record set by Pirates Of The Caribbean 3 back in 2007. It’s the #1 release of 2011 globally and now stands as the 6th biggest overseas release ever for Disney. Its international tally is now $483M and global cume $647M as of through Monday.

4. Bridesmaids (Universal) Week 3 [2,958 Theaters]
Friday $4.6M, Saturday $6M, Sunday $6.4M
Three-Day Weekend $17M, Four-Day Memorial Holiday $21.4M
Cume $90M

5. Thor 3D (Marvel/Disney/Paramount Week 4 [3,296 Theaters]
Friday $2.4M, Saturday $3.5M, Sunday $3.6M
Three-Day Weekend $9.5M, Four-Day Memorial Holiday $12M
Cume $162.3M

6. Fast Five (Universal) Week 5 [2,982 Theaters]
Friday $1.8M, Saturday $2.4M, Sunday $2.3M
Three-Day Weekend $6.5M, Four-Day Memorial Holiday $8.2M
Cume $197.6M, Intl Cume $346M, Global Cume $545M

Overseas, Fast Five grossed an estimated $13.3M at 7,700 dates in 61 territories and raised its international total to $346M this weekend. Combined with the domestic estimate, the worldwide cume will reach nearly $545M on Monday starting its 6th week abroad. International will cross $350M and domestic will cross $200M this week.

7. Midnight In Paris (Sony Classics) Week 2 [58 Theaters]
Friday $474K, Saturday $775K, Sunday $472K
Three-Day Weekend $2M, Four-Day Memorial Holiday $2.6M
Cume $3.5M

8. Something Borrowed (Warner Bros) Week 4 [1,440 Theaters]
Friday $550K, Saturday $700K, Sunday $750K
Three-Day Weekend $2M, Four-Day Memorial Holiday $2.4M
Cume $35.3M

9. Jumping The Broom (TriStar/Sony) Week 4 [939 Theaters]
Friday $475K, Saturday $800K, Sunday $680K
Three-Day Weekend $1.8M, Four-Day Memorial Holiday $2.2M
Cume $35.1M

10. Rio 3D (Blue Sky Studio/Fox) Week 7 [1,672 Theaters]
Friday $420K, Saturday $720K, Sunday $640K
Three-Day Weekend $1.7M, Four-Day Memorial Holiday $2.2M
Cume $135.1M, International Cume $321.9M

Fox Searchlight’s recent Cannes Film Festival Palme D’Or winner The Tree Of Life from filmmaker Terrence Malick and starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain, broke records this weekend with every prime and evening show sold out in all locations (2 in NY and 2 in LA). It grossed grossed $352,320, with a theater average of $88,080. This will be  the highest opening average of any Fox Searchlight film — even ahead of Black Swan‘s $80,000 per theatre. The grosses are even more impressive when you consider the film is 2½ hours long (and therefore gets significantly fewer showings). Playing in the Arclight in Hollywood, the Landmark in West LA, as well as the Lincoln Plaza and the Sunshine in New York, the film had a very traditional art house roll out. Next weekend, it will open in exclusive engagements in an additional 8 cities while adding just 3 additional theaters in both New York and Los Angeles. Expansions are planned and booked for the succeeding four weeks when the film will reach its national release on July 1. Malick’s signature imagery and complex storyline in this fifth film earned a 92% rating on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. But its rollout indicated more interest than just cinephiles. Read More »

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What Was Hot During L.A. Int’l Screenings?

By | Saturday May 28, 2011 @ 11:17pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

U.S. comedies have harder time than dramas traveling internationally. But strong showings by new half-hour series at the broadcast upfronts last week were followed by solid performances at this week’s L.A. Screenings, where international buyers gather to sample the new crop of U.S. series. Upfront standouts — Warner Bros.-produced CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls and the 20th TV comedies New Girl (Fox) and Apt. 23 (ABC) — did very well. Read More »

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Paget Brewster Returning To ‘Criminal Minds’ Next Season, Rachel Nichols Leaving

By | Saturday May 28, 2011 @ 5:14pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Paget Brewster will continue on CBS’ crime drama Criminal Minds next season, while new series regular Rachel Nichols won’t return. Meanwhile, co-star Thomas Gibson still doesn’t have a deal for next season, with negotiations ongoing.

I hear CBS and series’ … Read More »

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Alice Braga Added To ‘Elysium’ Cast

By | Saturday May 28, 2011 @ 4:54pm PDT

UPDATE: So an idiot publicist can’t distinguish between Brazilian actresses even though they’re a generation apart and Alice Braga is the niece of Sonia Braga. It’s the former who’s confirmed for Neill Blomkamp’s latest project Elysium. The filmmaker won’t provide any details on the character she’ll play, but the actress … Read More »

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