SUNDAY UPDATE: Illumination Entertainment‘s and Universal‘s 3D sequel Despicable Me 2 opened this weekend as one of the top 4 films internationally for the weekend alongside Man Of Steel, World War Z and Monsters University. All its rivals are playing in 40+ territories against DM2‘s seven markets. Yet the new toon opened #1 in five of its 6 new territories this weekend for a cumulative total of $50M through Sunday from the UK-Ireland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, French-speaking Switzerland, and Sweden as well as Australia which debuted last weekend. As a comparison in the same seven territories, DM2 is performing well ahead of the original Despicable Me as well as DreamWorks sequels Kung Fu Panda 2 and Madagascar 2 and 3. Gru and his manic minions open in North America in limited release Tuesday night and go wide on Wednesday before the Fourth Of July holiday. Expectations are for new records in the 38 territories with the U.S./Canada opening next weekend. Here’s a territory by territory breakdown:
This is the first in a planned series of reports on the people, projects and polemics that have folks buzzing in various overseas territories.
Each year following the Cannes Film Festival the French film industry falls into semi-hibernation as execs recover from months of build-up, the box office gives way to Hollywood tentpoles and attention turns to tennis and weeks-long vacations. Some years, it seems like the industry doesn’t even really wake up again until the fall festivals hit. But in this past month since Cannes ended, there’s been quite a bit keeping the industry buzzing. Among the issues are what France’s Oscar entry will be, vagaries at the local ratings board, a renewed push to allow film advertising on television and the fight to preserve the Cultural Exception. France led the charge on the latter, winning in its bid on June 14 to keep the audiovisual business out of a negotiation mandate for trade talks between the U.S. and Europe. This was a fight that got a lot of traction in Cannes with even Harvey Weinstein and Steven Spielberg coming out in favor of the Cultural Exception as a means to maintain the diversity of European cinema.
Meanwhile, the jury that Spielberg chaired in Cannes gave its top honor to a coming-of-age love story between two women, Blue Is The Warmest Color. Many people have posited that Blue will be France’s Oscar entry this year, but I’m told that it will not. It’s generally accepted that films that win the Palme d’Or end up representing their country — the last time a French film won, The Class, it indeed was the submission.
Despite the difficulties of trying to woo some Academy voters with a lesbian love story with explicit sex scenes like Blue, the main reason I’m told it won’t make the cut is because French distributor, Wild Bunch, is not releasing it in time. The Oscar rep selection committee at French film body the CNC requires that a film go out nationally in France before September 30 and Wild Bunch has set an October release. Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval calls the rule “stupid” but tells me they believe October is best for the picture. It’s my understanding that Sundance Selects will release Blue unrated later this year in the U.S. Blue is expected to get a French rating that bars only kids under 12 because, Maraval says, “There are only positive values and love in the film, no violence or drugs.” When I asked him if he thought drugs were regarded more damaging than sex by the ratings board at the CNC, he said “Well, I hope sex is less serious than drugs, no?”
In a summer where internal studio battles are exploding, talent agencies are attacking each other, gun violence is rampant in real life and on screen, football teams are spawning accused murderers, teen idols are out of control, and people don’t talk — they just text — it’s nice to reflect on this Sunday before Independence Day that there once was what, at least in retrospect, seemed to be a kinder, more innocent Hollywood. At least that was the feeling I got this week at two events celebrating two uniquely inspiring past stars, both very much off the radar of the industry that eats its young today. They are worth noting.
Many people today who worship the likes of the Kardashians may not know who Dolores Hart is. Or was. But in the late 1950s and early ’60s she was a genuine film star who gave Elvis Presley his first screen kiss in Loving You (1957) and again in King Creole (1958); searched for men in Where The Boys Are (1960); and co-starred opposite the likes of Montgomery Clift, Karl Malden, Anthony Quinn, Myrna Loy and many others until she suddenly gave it all up after attending the New York premiere of her last film (1963′s Come Fly With Me). She told the studio’s limo driver to drop her off at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, CT, and became a nun. That was exactly 50 years ago, and Mother Dolores, as she is now known, is still there and still doing great things with her life — even if it isn’t as the movie star she once was.
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
Pedro Almodovar‘s boozy sex comedy I’m So Excited lead an otherwise unremarkable host of newbies in the Specialty Box Office. The feature, which opened the Los Angeles Film Festival earlier this month, bowed in 5 locations in New York and L.A., grossing over $100K for a three-day winning $20,546 average. Jem Cohen’s Museum Hours debuted two runs, grossing almost $30K for a decent $14,718, while Tribeca Films’ doc How To Make Money Selling Drugs rolled out in 5 theaters, grossing over $15K. IFC Films’ Byzantium opened with a $3K average in 6 theaters, followed by Drafthouse Films’ A Band Called Death ($2,193 PSA) and Roadside’s Redemption, which floundered with a $959 average albeit in 19 runs.
Insiders speculated over whether the latest feature from Spanish maestro Almodóvar would pass muster from his fans and the art house crowd. The speculation will still linger. Opening weekend numbers were decent although not, to take a cue from the film, orgasmic. Almodovar’s much darker last film The Skin I Live In boasted more recognizable stars and bowed with a $37,187 average in 6 theaters, a figure topped by Broken Embraces in 2009 ($53,556 PSA in 2 runs). 2006′s Volver averaged $39,540 in five theaters on its way to nearly a $12.9 million cume in the U.S. Excited has not flown the way of his most recent films, however, opening in the summer and bowing out of the usual Almodovarian Cannes debut.
SAG-AFTRA Election Coalition Collapses As Roberta Reardon Fails To Push NY Local Prez Aside And Secure EVP Support
EXCLUSIVE: It was a SAG-AFTRA coalition that ultimately wasn’t. Roberta Reardon‘s plan to run for both NY Local President and National Executive Vice President came only after coalition talks collapsed, union sources tell me. NY-based USAN and the current SAG-AFTRA Co-President’s then-unnamed slate were deep in negotiations to form a powerhouse unit for this year’s union national elections. Those talks included current NY Local President Mike Hodge seeking his post again in this summer’s election and Reardon running for the EVP gig when the SAG-AFTRA national convention meets in September. Initially Reardon wanted Hodge to step aside as NY Local President. But all the principals involved in the coalition negotiations thought that was a bad idea and agreed that the current NY Local President should seek re-election. The grand alliance splintered and folded when Reardon was unable to secure endorsements from the USAN slate for the EVP job. (Related: USAN Unveils SAG-AFTRA Election Slate.) ”People involved in the talks thought that because this is the merged union’s first national election, people shouldn’t be bound by endorsements and should vote their conscience,” a source says. Meanwhile, Reardon has announced the formation of the unfortunately named NYC4U, a new slate that is expected to announce other candidates next week.
Benjamin Bratt voices supervillain El Macho opposite Steve Carell‘s Gru in Universal‘s July 3 animated sequel, which is already speeding along strongly overseas. Bratt introduces this Spanish-language promo put out by Universal Pictures Latino, the marketing arm targeting Hispanic audiences:
LAObserved columnist Veronique de Turenne was headed to the Hollywood Bowl the other night when she saw these lawn signs for Emmy campaigns. “I hate when people say this but, seriously, only in LA,” she wrote: