EXCLUSIVE: Paradigm‘s longtime production department co-head Frank Balkin, who reps below-the-line talent, has left the agency for a partnership at 3-year-old Worldwide Production Agency – but Paradigm is refusing to let Balkin out of his contract. Nonetheless, Balkin is currently working out of the WPA offices as the dispute continues. At the same time, Paradigm is answering Balkin’s office phone saying that they are taking messages for him. Threats of litigation have been levied as Paradigm has apparently insisted he return to the agency, but progress has been made to let him out. I called Paradigm and asked about this about two weeks ago. At that time, Balkin was still working out of the Paradigm offices and the talent agency said they were hoping to work it out with him. Oh well. It’s unclear what Paradigm is hoping to get but commissions if the agent has already bailed. He had been with Paradigm for over a decade.
International Box Office Update: Iron Man No. 1 In 2013 With $1.2B Global Take, Best Gross for Marvel/Walt Disney Studios which Tops $3B For First Time; Fox International Down 14% In 2013 But Still Grosses $2.33B; ‘Hunger Games’ Heading Over $400M
UPDATE, 1:54 PM: surpassing $3B (specifically $3.013B) for the first time in its history. Bouyed by the Marvel franchise Iron Man 3 which took in $806.3M (almost double of its domestic take), the animated Monsters University with $476.4M, and Thor: The Dark World with $4.26M, Frozen which bowed late in the year and has racked up $267.3M in only six weeks’ time, and Oz The Great and Powerful ($258.4M), Disney has emerged as No. 2 in overall market share worldwide, under Warner Bros. Iron Man 3 was the number one film in the marketplace internationally and if you add in its domestic gross of $409M, it was a cash cow of $1.215B and the highest grossing film of 2013. It is also the No 5 film of all time globally. Its opening alone was $174M this summer. Universal International’s hit of the year was Despicable Me 2 which grossed $553.2M which helped rocket the studios’ total international cume to $2.258B. The animated franchise grossed a total of $921M globally for the studio. The other titles helping to push Universal into the record books was Fast and Furious 6 which grossed a total of $550M and About Time which has pulled in $65.9M in foreign territories.
Considering that global movie ticket sales reached precedent levels after a particularly robust holiday period and a mostly sizzling summer, 2013 was one of the most turbulent years I can remember in the executive suites of major studios. Studios were overhauled all over town to better compete in an arena that is more of a global pursuit than ever, with victory belonging to whoever can build and maintain the most franchises.
Purists will decry the fact that Hollywood’s brightest minds are mostly focused on repackaging derivative concepts for maximum global grosses, but evidence of the rewards are right there in the gross charts: Six of the top seven biggest films were sequels that provided the kind of results that keep studio conglomerate parents happy, keep studio chiefs employed, and slate co-financiers coming back for more. Sure, studios will still get involved with awards-season prestige films like The Wolf Of Wall Street, American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave, but often only when someone else pays to make them. This franchise fever pushed costs of blockbusters to ridiculously high levels, and left top execs and producers explaining, and sometimes packing, when some badly misfired. Add that to internal power struggles at places like Universal and Warner Bros, and you needed a scorecard to keep up with the executive changes — which came fast and furious, especially after the brutal summer blockbuster season. Among them:
*Universal fired film chairman Adam Fogelson in a move that surprised him along with everyone else in town but Ron Meyer and Donna Langley, with whom he engaged in a quiet power struggle. Fogelson was blindsided by the result, coming hours after he presided over the Toronto premiere of Rush. The Comcast-orchestrated move that put Jeff Shell in charge of filmed entertainment after he did well running NBCUniversal’s international operations. Meyer was upped to vice chairman of NBCUniversal and Langley as sole Universal Films chairman and picture picker. Even though the studio placed third in market share and Despicable Me 2 could become the studio’s biggest-ever box office hit when it plays in China, Universal also flubbed franchise launch attempts like R.I.P.D. and 47 Ronin, and Kick-Ass 2 proved that once was enough. Universal has sequels to Jurassic Park, The Mummy and Ted coming, and a new salty adult franchise in Fifty Shades Of Grey for 2015. Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures moved in to hatch pictures and co-fi Universal titles like Jurassic World, hedging the studio’s bets as it moves forward. Langley’s biggest challenge has been retooling the studio’s most lucrative franchise, Fast & Furious, which was halfway completed when star Paul Walker died tragically in a fiery car crash. Right after Fogelson was ousted, longtime Focus Features chief James Schamus was dismissed just as suddenly. He was replaced by Peter Schlessel, the whip-smart former Sony dealmaker who’d been running FilmDistrict and who clearly will be charged with broadening the highbrow Focus slate to include more low-risk high-return genre films like the FilmDistrict hit Insidious. Schamus’s co-chairman, Andrew Karpen, declined to relocate and stay on, dramatically changing the complexion of that prestige company.
*The final shoe dropped after Warner Bros gave the top job to Kevin Tsujihara instead of Warner Bros movie chief Jeff Robinov. At a time when Robinov should have been taking victory laps after his bets on filmmakers paid off so well with Ben Affleck’s Argo, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel and Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, Robinov instead left in a frosty exit to form his own moneyed film venture. This, and the equally tempestuous exit of Legendary’s Tull after a lucrative franchise-fueled run, left Robinov’s successors Greg Silverman and Sue Kroll under big pressure to assert themselves to find new franchises. The studio re-upped Village Roadshow Pictures and replaced Legendary with James Packer, Brett Ratner and Steven Mnuchin’s RatPac Dune in a slate co-financing deal that will spread $450 million or more over 75 films. While Warner Bros brass tired of Tull imposing his creative will and cherry-picking Warner Bros titles to co-fi, RatPac Dune will not do that, and I heard the studio was able to exclude certain plum titles from the arrangement. But Warner Bros also gifted RatPac Dune with a co-fi stake in Gravity after it was completed, creating a big windfall for a fledgling venture. It’s ironic given nobody in Hollywood but Robinov seemed to want to make that movie — an expensive auteur effort that has zero sequel potential. One challenge for the new team at Warner Bros: keeping Robinov from peeling away the directors he empowered, from Christopher Nolan to Affleck, Snyder, Luhrmann, The Hangover‘s Todd Phillips and Cuaron to make movies at the new company he and Graham King are expected to launch at Sony. Silverman is respected and Kroll is regarded as arguably the best marketer in town and the studio’s global distribution and marketing operation is as good as there is, but the pressure’s on even though Warner Bros topped other studios in market share. It also has what seems like a strong year with franchise launches in Godzilla and LEGO, another installment of 300 (so what if everybody died in the original?), and a Hobbit finale. Beyond Hobbit, New Line continues to do its part on the franchise front, hatching a Horrible Bosses sequel for 2014 and gearing up another installment of its sleeper 2013 road trip comedy We’re The Millers.
*After two costly summer misfires in After Earth and White House Down, a lackluster Smurfs sequel that fizzled the franchise, and disappointing returns on the Matt Damon-starrer Elysium, Sony Pictures chairman Amy Pascal found herself in the cross-hairs of minority activist shareholder Daniel Loeb. The result: seismic changes in its executive structure and game plan moving forward. The studio dropped marketing head Marc Weinstock, corporate PR chief Steve Elzer and home entertainment chief David Bishop, and then added former New Line president-turned Fifty Shades Of Grey producer Michael De Luca to share president of production duties with Hannah Minghella. The studio vowed heading into its fall investor meetings that it would cut $250 million in costs through 2016, and make fewer movies in 2014 and pour the money into TV. I keep hearing that was temporary window dressing, and after adding former Fox chief Tom Rothman to revive TriStar, which creates another buyer on a lot full of them, Sony will continue to try and create franchises to go along with its Spider-Man and 007 stalwarts. Sony secured a big slate co-fi investment from John LaViolette and Joseph Singer’s Blue Anchor that begins with George Clooney’s The Monuments Men. And then there is the prospect of the venture by Robinov/King which would give Sony huge movies to release and gain market share and bragging rights, without actually having to fund them if they don’t want to. If 22 Jump Street and especially The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hit as well as is hoped, some of that pressure could be alleviated as the studio presses ahead with reboots of past franchise successes Ghostbusters and Men In Black.
The actor apparently has too much on his agenda to take on a starring role in a stage musical. For starters, Paramount is developing the Harlan Coben novel Six Years as a potential star vehicle for Hugh Jackman, and Fox is eyeing another installment of his X-Men spinoff The Wolverine. “I have greatly enjoyed the collaborative process on Houdini,” Jackman said in a statement. “Ultimately, though, I wasn’t able to commit to the time this role will require. I have tremendous respect and admiration for the creative team and I wish everyone the best. I know they’re well on their way to making something extraordinary.” It’s the second high-profile departure from Houdini this year. Back in January, Aaron Sorkin pulled an escape act from the upcoming show in which he was to make his debut as a librettist. He also had to pull out because of scheduling difficulties, less than a month after Jackman boarded the project from composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, Godspell).
BEVERLY HILLS, CA — One hundred fourteen scores from eligible feature-length motion pictures released in 2013 are in contention for nominations in the Original Score category for the 86th Oscars®, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today.
The eligible scores along with their composers are listed below, in alphabetical order by film title:
UPDATED WITH FULL LIST: The nominations for the 20th annual SAG Awards for film and television were announced this morning at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. Rizzoli & Isles‘ Sasha Alexander and Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Clark Gregg, who were introduced by SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard, unveiled noms in 13 acting categories — five for film and eight for TV. There also are noms for outstanding action performances by TV and film stunt ensembles, with winners for those to be announced during the SAG Awards pre-show January 18. Fox Searchlight’s 12 Years A Slave led the way with four nominations on the film side, including one for Outstanding Performance By A Cast — the group’s sort-of equivalent to the Best Picture category, though it doesn’t like to say so. Joining that pic in the category are American Hustle, August: Osage County, Dallas Buyers Club and Lee Daniels’ The Butler. The Weinstein Company led the studios list with seven total noms. Last year, SAG voted Argo as winner of its Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, which helped launch that pic’s run to the Best Picture Oscar at the end of the season. On the TV side, Breaking Bad earned a leading four nominations for its final season, and HBO had a leading 13 noms among the networks.
After today’s announcement, the guild is mailing out voting information Monday to every active paid-up member across the country, and final votes from the nominees’ peers must be received by Friday, January 17, 2014. Winners will be announced at the SAG Awards ceremony January 18 at the Shrine Auditorium in LA, which will be simulcast live on TNT and TBS. Here are this morning’s nominations:
Theatrical Motion Pictures
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
BRUCE DERN / Woody Grant – “NEBRASKA” (Paramount Pictures)
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR / Solomon Northup – “12 YEARS A SLAVE” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
TOM HANKS / Capt. Richard Phillips – “CAPTAIN PHILLIPS” (Columbia Pictures)
MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY / Ron Woodroof – “DALLAS BUYERS CLUB” (Focus Features)
FOREST WHITAKER / Cecil Gaines – “LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER” (The Weinstein Company)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
CATE BLANCHETT / Jasmine – “BLUE JASMINE” (Sony Pictures Classics)
SANDRA BULLOCK / Ryan Stone – “GRAVITY” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
JUDI DENCH / Philomena Lee – “PHILOMENA” (The Weinstein Company)
MERYL STREEP / Violet Weston – “AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY” (The Weinstein Company)
EMMA THOMPSON / P.L. Travers – “SAVING MR. BANKS” (Walt Disney Pictures)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
BARKHAD ABDI / Muse – “CAPTAIN PHILLIPS” (Columbia Pictures)
DANIEL BRÜHL / Niki Lauda – “RUSH” (Universal Pictures)
MICHAEL FASSBENDER / Edwin Epps – “12 YEARS A SLAVE” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
JAMES GANDOLFINI / Albert – “ENOUGH SAID” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
JARED LETO / Rayon – “DALLAS BUYERS CLUB” (Focus Features)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
JENNIFER LAWRENCE / Rosalyn Rosenfeld – “AMERICAN HUSTLE” (Columbia Pictures)
LUPITA NYONG’O / Patsey – “12 YEARS A SLAVE” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
JULIA ROBERTS / Barbara Weston – “AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY” (The Weinstein Company)
JUNE SQUIBB / Kate Grant – “NEBRASKA” (Paramount Pictures)
OPRAH WINFREY / Gloria Gaines – “LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER” (The Weinstein Company)
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
12 YEARS A SLAVE (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH / Ford
PAUL DANO / Tibeats
GARRET DILLAHUNT / Armsby
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR / Solomon Northup
MICHAEL FASSBENDER / Edwin Epps
PAUL GIAMATTI / Freeman
SCOOT McNAIRY / Brown
LUPITA NYONG’O / Patsey
ADEPERO ODUYE / Eliza
SARAH PAULSON / Mistress Epps
BRAD PITT / Bass
MICHAEL KENNETH WILLIAMS / Robert
ALFRE WOODARD / Mistress Shaw
AMERICAN HUSTLE (Columbia Pictures)
AMY ADAMS / Sydney Prosser
CHRISTIAN BALE / Irving Rosenfeld
LOUIS C.K. / Stoddard Thorsen
BRADLEY COOPER / Richie DiMaso
PAUL HERMAN / Alfonse Simone
JACK HUSTON / Pete Musane
JENNIFER LAWRENCE / Rosalyn Rosenfeld
ALESSANDRO NIVOLA / Federal Prosecutor
MICHAEL PEÑA / Sheik (Agent Hernandez)
JEREMY RENNER / Mayor Carmine Polito
ELISABETH RÖHM / Dolly Polito
SHEA WHIGHAM / Carl Elway
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY (The Weinstein Company)
ABIGAIL BRESLIN / Jean Fordham
CHRIS COOPER / Charles Aiken
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH / “Little” Charles Aiken
JULIETTE LEWIS / Karen Weston
MARGO MARTINDALE / Mattie Fae Aiken
EWAN McGREGOR / Bill Fordham
DERMOT MULRONEY / Steve
JULIANNE NICHOLSON / Ivy Weston
JULIA ROBERTS / Barbara Weston
SAM SHEPARD / Beverly Weston
MERYL STREEP / Violet Weston
MISTY UPHAM / Johnna
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (Focus Features)
JENNIFER GARNER / Dr. Eve Saks
MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY / Ron Woodroof
JARED LETO / Rayon
DENIS O’HARE / Dr. Sevard
DALLAS ROBERTS / David Wayne
STEVE ZAHN / Tucker
LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER (The Weinstein Company)
MARIAH CAREY / Hattie Pearl
JOHN CUSACK / Richard Nixon
JANE FONDA / Nancy Reagan
CUBA GOODING, JR. / Carter Wilson
TERRENCE HOWARD / Howard
LENNY KRAVITZ / James Holloway
JAMES MARSDEN / John F. Kennedy
DAVID OYELOWO / Louis Gaines
ALEX PETTYFER / Thomas Westfall
VANESSA REDGRAVE / Annabeth Westfall
ALAN RICKMAN / Ronald Reagan
LIEV SCHREIBER / Lyndon B. Johnson
FOREST WHITAKER / Cecil Gaines
ROBIN WILLIAMS / Dwight D. Eisenhower
OPRAH WINFREY / Gloria Gaines
FX continues to bolster its library of theatrical hits, acquiring the TV rights to Gravity (Warner Bros), Captain Phillips (Sony) and this past weekend’s box-office topper Thor: The Dark World (Disney). It also has locked in Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2, and Prisoners. FX has been very aggressive in acquiring blockbusters, buying virtually every No. 1 movie in the box office for the past couple of years for the main network and FX siblings FXX and FXM. Other previously announced acquisitions include Iron Man 3, Despicable Me 2, Man of Steel, Fast & Furious 6, Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, The Croods, The Heat, Identity Thief, Grown Ups 2, The Wolverine, The Hangover Part III, and Pacific Rim. The new films will make their premieres on the FX Networks beginning in 2015.
Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada, recently seen in The Wolverine, is set to co-star opposite Halle Berry in CBS’ upcoming summer drama series Extant, from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV and CBS Studios. Created by Mickey Fisher, it centers on an astronaut (Berry) who returns home from a year-long solo mission in space and tries to reconnect with her husband and son in their everyday life. Her experiences in space and home lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history. Sanada will play a wealthy technological genius who put his wealth to work privatizing the world’s space programs into a single entity. The actor — repped by CAA, Axon Entertainment, Lighthouse Entertainment and Sheppard, Mullin — just finished voicing a character in Universal’s Despicable Me Minions spinoff and will next be seen as the chief Samurai Oishi in Universal Pictures’ 47 Ronin and the Weinstein Co’s The Railway Man.
EXCLUSIVE: Twentieth Century Fox has begun negotiations with James Mangold to return for another installment of The Wolverine, with Hugh Jackman bringing back his signature character with the razor sharp adamantium hooks. This comes after The Wolverine played very strongly overseas, enough to now sit as the second highest grossing X-Men film of all time. The film has grossed $413 million worldwide, with $132 million domestic and $280 million in international revenue.
Here’s where it is right now. Mangold is making a deal to write the treatment, with X-Men franchise matriarch Lauren Shuler Donner producing. The storyline is being kept under tight wraps. I think Mangold did a bang up job on his first superhero film. When I met him at Comic-Con San Diego, he said he tried to veer from the usual superhero formula–if hero doesn’t succeed, world is doomed–and instead make it a character-driven storyline. There were plenty of action pieces, samurai swordplay and reasons for Logan to work up that famous temper, but at its core the film worked because the stakes were subtler and the storytelling somehow more intimate. Mangold is repped by WME and Management 360, Jackman by WME.
Gael García Bernal To Star In Amazon Pilot ‘Mozart In The Jungle’; Will Yun Lee Joins USA’s ‘Novice’
EXCLUSIVE: Amazon Studios continues to attract big names for its pilots. Feature actor Gael García Bernal (Y Tu Mamá También, Amores Perros, Babel) has been tapped for the streaming service’s comedy pilot Mozart In The Jungle, written by Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman and Alex Timbers. Based on the memoir by Blair Tindal, the project is all about sex, drugs and classical music and shows that what happens behind the curtains at the symphony can be just as captivating as what happens onstage. Mexico-born Garcia Bernal, repped by WME, will play Gustavo, an enfant terrible who’s utterly devoted to his art as a conductor — but also to his image.
Will Yun Lee (The Wolverine) is set to co-star opposite Shane Coffey in USA’s drama pilot The Novice, from Fox 21, Joe and Tony Gayton. It centers on Kyle (Coffey), a recent college graduate who is forced to move back home with his parents and soon lands a position with a Korean crime organization. Lee, a second-generation Korean American, will play Big Bang, a thug with a lot of anger issues who is a major player in the Korean syndicate. The actor, repped by APA and Zero Gravity, next stars in director Duane Adler’s Korean film Cobu.
BREAKING: 20th Century Fox has just gone live with a new trailer for the eagerly awaited X-Men: Days Of Future Past, the film that brings back original X-Men director Bryan Singer and mashes together both casts from its X-Men and X-Men: First Class franchises. We saw a preview close to this trailer during Fox’s killer panel at San Diego Comic-Con, and it introduces a Terminator-esque time-travel storyline. The fan reaction to the trailer, and to the appearance of both casts at Hall E, was thunderous, to the point that some fans who got up to ask questions could barely get them out because they were crying. Here’s the trailer for the May 23 release:
Global Showbiz Briefs: Girls Impact The World, Dubai Fests Partner On Filmmaker Prize; ‘The Wolverine’ Tops In China; More
Girls Impact the World And Dubai Fests Team On Film Prize
The Girls Impact the World Film Festival and the Dubai International Film Festival have partnered to offer a new prize, the DIFF Prize for Advancing Women and Girls. The prize will be awarded to an aspiring student filmmaker from the Middle East and North Africa region for a short original film on an issue related to the advancement of women and girls globally. The winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship award. The submission deadline is December 31. Entries will be judged by a panel that includes Jeff Skoll, Christy Turlington-Burns, actor Ian Somerhalder, and Paley Center CEO Pat Mitchell. The winning submissions will be screened — and the final winner selected — at an awards ceremony at Harvard College on February 22. Guidelines and entry requirements can be found here.
‘The Wolverine’ Claws Its Way To $14.4M Opening In China
Fox’s The Wolverine opened in China this weekend, taking $14.4M from Friday through Sunday. After four days in release, it had earned $18.3M through last night, according to FilmBizAsia. The film was No. 1 at the box office and outperformed 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which earned a total of $13.2M. The Wolverine was ahead of Donnie Yen’s new Chinese entry Special ID, which opened on Friday to $10.9M. Last week, magic/heist thriller Now You See Me was the top pic at the box office, but fell sharply in its second weekend, FBA said. Tsui Hark’s hot Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon, is closing in on $98.5M and Huayi Brothers Media Corp said Monday that it was lowering its box office revenue share from 43% to 30% in an effort to get the film across the line.
Twentieth Century Fox International films set another milestone this weekend for what it boasted was an unprecedented 5 straight years and 7 overall – both industry records. Its 2013 overseas theatrical grosses passed the $2 billion box office mark for an unprecedented 7 calendar years. This spotlights the studio’s leadership by Chairman Jim Gianopulos who has always specialized in the global marketplace. Meanwhile, The Wolverine landed in China earning $13.6M from 4,800 screens for a first place finish and an opening weekend 4X bigger than Thor and 3X bigger than Captain America. Its cume now stands at $258.8M international and $390.7M worldwide.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ITV Studios To Distribute ‘The Great Fire’; ‘Young Detective Dee’ Opens Big In China; More
ITV Studios To Distribute Miniseries ‘The Great Fire’
ITV Studios Global Entertainment has come aboard to distribute miniseries The Great Fire, with a launch set for next year’s MIPTV. The four-part series is produced by Ecosse Films, the company behind biopic Diana with Naomi Watts and the original UK format of Mistresses. Written by Tom Bradby, ITV News Political Editor and author of Shadow Dancer, The Great Fire follows the lives and loves of both historical and fictional characters in a world where, on the surface, the rich have everything and the poor have nothing. Set in 1666, events unfold over four consecutive days as the Great Fire of London indiscriminately engulfs the city. The Great Fire is executive produced by Douglas Rae and Lucy Bedford for Ecosse Films.
‘Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon’ Opens Big In China
Tsui Hark’s Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon notched the fourth-biggest opening day ever for a domestic film in China this weekend with $9.2M. According to FilmBizAsia, the 3D film falls in behind Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons ($13.7M), Tiny Times 1 ($13.2M) and Painted Skin: The Resurrection ($11.7M) on the list. The Huayi Brothers production took in $15.1M over two days and accounted for about 30% of all screenings nationwide. FBA said Detective Dee has a “strong head start” going into the weeklong National Day holiday, which starts today. The other domestic films opening in time for the holiday are 3D fantasy The Fox Lover, road comedy Bump In The Road, the Pang Brothers’ firefighter drama Out Of Inferno 3D and sci-fi sports drama Amazing.
APA Signs Yule Caise; Will Yun Lee Inks With Zero Gravity Management; Resolution Reps Lamorne Morris
Yule Caise has signed with APA and 3 Arts Entertainment. In July, he was selected as the Fox Writers Intensive Fellow from among 10 finalists. Caise inked a development deal with FX Networks, in conjunction with Fox Broadcasting Co and 20th Century Fox Television, and will pitch a new original script to FX. His credits including writing and directing the 2010 comedy Swishbucklers. Caise is repped by attorney Linda Lichter.
Will Yun Lee has inked with Zero Gravity Management. The actor’s recent credits include The Wolverine and Total Recall and recurring roles on Hawaii Five-O and the new drama Intelligence. He also appeared in such films as Die Another Day and Elektra.
Lamorne Morris has signed with Resolution in all areas. He stars as Winston on Fox’s New Girl and recently joined the cast of the indie drama Sex Ed. Morris’ credits also include Comedy Central’s Drunk History and several independent features and shorts.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Ataru’ Dethrones ‘The Wind Rises’ In Japan; Peter Jackson Given Highest Kiwi Honor; More
After a nine-week streak, Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises has slipped from the No. 1 spot at the Japanese box office. Ataru: The First Love & The Last Kill, an adaptation of a popular TV series, overtook the animation master’s final feature at the weekend, making over $3.5M. FilmBizAsia reports that it is only the second live-action TV adaptation to open at No. 1 this year. The Wind Rises fell to the No. 2 spot and now has a cume of $106.5M. Meanwhile, The Wolverine opened at No. 3 with $1.85M and Warner Japan’s remake of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven was No. 4 with $1.45M.
Peter Jackson was given New Zealand’s highest honor on Tuesday, becoming an Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand for services to the country. He also received the order’s insignia, the first time a film industry player has been given the badge. According to Stuff, only 20 members of the order can hold the badge and it must be returned by the recipient’s estate upon their death. “Obviously, it’s something I’m going to have to look after and I’m going to have to make sure my children know where to find it, but I do hope to hold on to it for quite a long time,” Jackson said.
Also at the Telluride Film Festival picnic I ran into Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve and its producers, Alcon’s Andrew Kosove and Kira Davis. The trio were anxiously awaiting the festival’s reaction to their incredibly tense thriller. I had speculated pic would be a surprise entry here and indeed it as now been officially announced as one of Friday night’s screenings. (The festival also confirmed my earlier prediction that Fox Searchlight’s 12 Years A Slave will screen Friday, ratcheting up the Oscar-wattage considerably). I am told Prisoners stars Hugh Jackman is in Japan promoting The Wolverine and Jake Gyllenhaal is starting a new film and also couldn’t make the trek to Telluride. But both will be at the Toronto premiere next week along with the rest of the impressive cast. Villeneuve is no stranger to Telluride and was last here in 2010 for his Oscar-nominated Incendies.
Oprah’s PR Blitz Helps ‘The Butler’ Open #1 With $25M: Soft Box Office As ‘Kick Ass 2′ Falls, ‘Jobs’ Biopic Dies, ‘Paranoia’ Bombs
SUNDAY 8 AM, 6TH UPDATE WRITETHRU: With one exception, this weekend was a disaster zone for three of the four newcomers at the domestic box office. Tanking big-time were Universal’s Kick-Ass 2 based on the comic book, Five Star/Open Road Films’ Jobs biopic about the Apple co-founder played by Ashton Kutcher, and IM Global/Relativity’s Paranoia starring Liam Hemsworth and Harrison Ford. Total moviegoing this weekend was only around $160 million, or -6% from last year, despite the uber-crowded marketplace. Even the surprise #1 this weekend, The Weinstein Company’s Lee Daniels’ The Butler, opened with $25 million which was down from the $30+M Hollywood projected when the weekend started. ”Everything is coming in softer,” one studio exec warned me Friday night. Love her or hate her, co-star Oprah Winfrey and her big media blitz helped open the pic even if it did little to help her public image by providing more dirt for her detractors. Yet a survey by Fandango found that 72% of Butler ticket-buyers claimed Oprah’s involvement increased their interest in seeing the film which was her first movie role in 15 years. But The Butler still trailed the opening weekend grosses of two recent and similarly race- and civil rights-themed adult pics: 42 and The Help. No one, and certainly not The Weinstein Company, expected director Lee Daniels’ or screenwriter Danny Strong’s biopic (playing in 2,933 theaters) to double its $15M weekend projection much less land on top of the weekend box office. But on Thursday morning it already was the #1 ticket-seller on both Fandango and MovieTickets – a welcome event for such a modest $25M negative cost film. Its 73% Rotten Tomatoes positive reviews and ’A’ CinemaScore from audiences surely helped word of mouth as much as Oprah. (Note that in 1998. at the height of her syndicated power when she could sell anything to anyone, Oprah starred in and produced the film flop Beloved. Now she’s on her struggling cable network. But I’m assured she had no financial investment in the film nor contributed into the P&A nor bought up advance tickets in bulk like the rumors claimed.)
Forest Whitaker, Terrence Howard, Alan Rickman, and Cuba Gooding Jr helped overcome the uneven script that – depending on your POV – is dumbed-down or condescending, historically important or filled with historical inaccuracies. But the stunt casting of Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan has caused considerable Red State outrage on social media. Like 42 and The Help, this pic was marketed first to African-Americans through outreach in those faith-based communities. Then the campaign widened to the art house crowd and curious general audiences. Rival studios initially speculated that The Butler‘s grosses would be frontloaded since it was so dependent on pre-sales. But its Saturday number went up +10% over Friday’s. The film’s genesis began with a Washington Post profile of the longtime White House black butler Eugene Allen that was optioned by Sony Pictures producer Laura Ziskin. When she died of cancer 3 weeks before shooting began, Cassian Elwes and Pam Williams met with Daniels and, together with CAA, scrambled to put together financing. In all 28 investors came together including Buddy Patrick, Sheila Johnson, Michael Findley, and Len Blavatnick. Harvey Weinstein and his TWC boarded late in the production and banked $4M to help finish the film. Then Harv “helped edit” – we all know what that means – with Daniels. Initially The Butler was a fall film to platform for awards consideration. “But when it tested through the roof, we decided then that we needed to go wide. And we saw a gap in the schedule for adult fare in the summer,” an insider tells me. “In our deal we had a $20M P&A cap, and we had to go to the investor group to get the cap raised to $30M in order to go wide.” I’m told 100% of the P&A money is TWC’s. Along the way, Harvey orchestrated free publicity as he battled Warner Bros over the pic’s title.
Pre-release tracking predicted that Universal’s superhero action-comedy Kick Ass 2 (playing in 2,940 theaters) would be the #1 film this weekend as it made steady gains in key areas with solid interest indicated from younger audiences and males in particular. Instead, it bombed with only $13.6M after looking to open #1, then #2, then #3 on Friday - trailing the Warner Bros/New Line holdover comedy We’re The Millers. Not even its ‘B+’ CinemaScore could help word of mouth after critics savaged it with only 29% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes because it fell short of the original. Fanboys decided to stay away. I predict debate will rage about whether this sequel based on Mark Millar/John S. Romita’s comic book was necessary. Even the 2010 original’s $19.8M opening was considered dismal, only to make up for it as a hot DVD sale and rental and digital download because of its R-rated irreverence and style. Wrongly, the studio believed “there was a committed fan base that could be activated as a core audience for a sequel,” as a Universal exec emailed me. So the studio handled worldwide distribution for the further adventures of Kick-Ass, Hit Girl and Red Mist (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse respectively). Vigilante crusader Colonel Stars and Stripes is played by Jim Carrey who kicked up a fuss by proclaiming he wouldn’t promote the film because of its ultra-violence. A few weeks later, he got onboard – but not before generating a ton of bad publicity for the pic. (He didn’t make himself very popular in Hollywood with this stunt. Let’s see if his career continues to crater.) From a screenplay by director Jeff Wadlow, pic also reteamed producers Matthew Vaughn, Adam Bohling, Tarquin Pack and David Reid. It was independently financed for only $28M, then acquired by Universal before production began in September of 2012. Film opens day-and-date in 18 international territories including the United Kingdom, France, and Germany and grossed $6.3M at 1,500 dates.
Flopping in wide release (2,381 theaters) was Open Road Films’ Jobs, the much-publicized biopic about the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher. It came in only #7 with a meager $6.7M despite a plethora of TV ad buys. Ashton just isn’t a movie star, period, and the ‘B-’ CinemaScore didn’t generate any helpful word of mouth for the pic directed by Joshua Michael Stern (Swing Vote) and scripted by first-time screenwriter Matt Whitely. Open Road acquired Jobs just before it premiered at Sundance in January from Five Star Feature Films which financed the $12M production. Rotten Tomatoes critics only gave it 24% positive reviews because of its superficial made-for-TV depiction of a complex creative and business icon. Still it’s surprising how many Apple devotees stayed away despite the marketing’s psychographic targeting to them. And digital stunts included the launch of the first-ever Instagram movie trailer and Kutcher ringing the bell at the NY Stock Exchange.
Another tech pic tanked. Dropping from #10 on Friday to #13 by Sunday was the IM Global/ Reliance produced thriller Paranoia (distributed by Relativity into 2,459 U.S. theaters with EOne releasing in Canada). Even starring Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford, and Gary Oldman who all are good in the film, it made only $3.5M or about half what was projected. Both audiences and critics hated on it with a ‘C’ CinemaScore and 4% Rotten Tomatoes positive reviews. ”I think Relativity’s marketing department screwed up,” one insider tells me. “They tried to focus on the youth audience and teen girls in particular, and it isn’t that kind of movie at all. Also, IM Global picked this date, and they never should have opened this kind of film in the summer.”
EXCLUSIVE: Fox has made a pre-emptive pitch deal for Breaker, an original sci-fi idea by VFX wiz and commercials director Trevor Cawood. Fox-based Hutch Parker Entertainment is producing. Matt Cook, whose scripts By Way Of Helena and 999 made the Black List, will write the script. The scribe and Parker previously teamed for an untitled heist project at the studio. Dan Wilson is running point for Hutch Parker Ent, and Jason Young is the Fox exec. Parker just produced The Wolverine and is working on X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Cook and Cawood are both repped at WME and Anonymous Content.