Check Out Our New Look

Sony Pictures Vice Chairman Jeff Blake Exiting Studio After 22 Years

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 8:06am PDT

Sony Pictures Vice Chairman Jeff Blake Exiting Studio After 22 YearsEXCLUSIVE: Jeff Blake, who has served as vice chairman of Sony Pictures and chairman of worldwide marketing and distribution for Sony Pictures since 2005, is leaving the studio that he has been a part of for the past 22 years. Part of the innermost circle of Sony’s senior management team with CEO Michael Lynton and chair of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group Amy Pascal, the departure is a real shake-up for the studio at the highest level. Blake is the stalwart pro and has been one of the longest survivors at any studio. He worked under several Sony regimes including that of Peter Guber and Mark Canton, Jonathan Dolgen, Alan Levine, Robert Wynne, Mel Harris, the beloved John Calley, Howard Stringer, and finally Lynton and Pascal. He exits August 1.

Sony announced it at 8 AM this morning, saying, “It’s with a heavy heart and great appreciation that we want to share with you news that Jeff Blake has decided to leave SPE to pursue other opportunities … he’s been an important part of the fabric of SPE. We have all loved his legendary role as raffle master at our annual holiday party, enjoyed his gregarious laugh and sense of humor and appreciate his reputation as one of the nicest and most easy-going guys in the business.”

Image (1) sony-pictures-logo__140323172613.jpeg for post 703140With Blake’s departure, the studio loses an executive with institutional and strategic knowledge of not only marketing and distribution both domestically and internationally, but on the business itself. He has worked at three studios, having joined the business in 1974 working for Paramount Pictures in Chicago. He has also worked with the best known names in the business at Paramount and at Sony (and even a short stint at Disney) – from Charlie Bludhorn and Barry Diller to Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Stanley Jaffe, Frank Mancuso, the wonderful Brandon Tartikoff, the aforementioned executives and so many others. Katzenberg and Mancuso became Blake’s lifetime friends and mentors.

decode-pascal-articleInlineHis departure comes after Pascal and Lynton and the rest of SPE’s senior management have been under tremendous pressure after a rough round last summer and a hit-and-miss year so far in 2014. Pascal and Lynton have spent this past year making changes at the studio and shoring up their ranks with execs like Michael De Luca coming in as president of production at Columbia, and the announcement last week that Doug Belgrad is expanding duties with a new president of the motion picture group title. Those expanded responsibilities included working with the marketing and distribution team which also saw changes last year. Sony has undergone extreme cost-cutting at the studio as well with layoff after layoff. They have also worked to bring in co-financing deals and closed a big one with Lone Star Capital and Citibank, a smaller agreement with Village Roadshow and have also been waiting for former Warner Bros. executive Jeff Robinov to secure financing to start producing movies to distribute.

“Certainly there has been an air of change at Sony for the past couple of years,” said Blake. “I put it out there prior to our summer if at some point, I needed to step aside that I certainly would but, in the meantime, I wanted to make sure that there were no distractions in releasing our summer slate. I’m really comfortable with my decision, Read More »

Comments (17)

Comic-Con: Warner Bros. Bringing Peter Jackson, ‘Mad Max’, ‘Jupiter Ascending’, ‘Into the Storm’

Comic-Con: Warner Bros. Bringing Peter Jackson, ‘Mad Max’, ‘Jupiter Ascending’, ‘Into the Storm’In the first of what is yet to come in terms of the major studio film announcements, Warner Bros. revealed today its cinema panel lineup at Comic-Con 2014.  On Saturday, July 26 at 10 AM, the studio is bringing Peter Jackson and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies to Hall H as well as director George Miller who’ll present a sneak peek at his Mad Max: Fury Road.  In addition, there will be a first look at the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending.  Attending stars will be announced at a later date.  In the meantime, fans can start lining up at the Gas Lamp Theatre for a 10 PM  pre-Con fan screening of New Line and Village Roadshow Pictures’ upcoming “cli-fi” thriller Into the Storm on Wednesday, July 23.

However, the big question Comic-Con attendees really wanna know is: Will Disney bring Star Wars: Episode VII in any shape or form to the fanboy confab? Will J.J. Abrams possibly start that August break just a little earlier and bring the gang to San Diego?  Disney did not reveal any sneek peeks of the franchise at their D23 convention last summer.

Comments (7)

R.I.P. Greg Coote

By | Friday June 27, 2014 @ 9:16pm PDT

R.I.P. Greg CooteThe former CEO of Dune Entertainment and Village Roadshow chief died today of cancer in Los Angeles. Greg Coote was 72. He was a key player in the emergence of the Australian film industry, starting in the mailroom at Aussie distributor Village Roadshow and working his way up to Managing Director. “Greg was a champion of Australian films from the early 1970s, and he continued being a great supporter of Australian filmmakers,” said Screen Producers Australia president Brian Rosen. After a stint at Ten Network during which its ratings soared, Coote relocated to LA as President of Columbia Pictures’ international division, where he oversaw worldwide distribution, acquisitions and marketing. He later became the founding President and CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures in Los Angeles, and the company helped finance films including The Matrix. Later, when Coote was Chairman and CEO of Dune Entertainment, the company co-financed dozens of movies including Avatar, which went on to be the top-grossing film in history. Read More »

Comments (4)

Akiva Goldsman To Direct Horror Film ‘Stephanie’

By | Wednesday June 25, 2014 @ 8:54am PDT

Akiva Goldsman To Direct Horror Film ‘Stephanie’EXCLUSIVE: Akiva Goldsman is stepping behind the camera again, this time to bring a horror film to the big screen with Stephanie — a story about a little girl with unworldly abilities who was abandoned before a man and a woman show up claiming to be her parents, thereby interrupting her mysterious world. A fall start is being eyed.

Goldsman, of course, is the Academy Award-winning screenwriter behind A Beautiful Mind and one of the many producers on Lone Survivor which Universal released last Christmas to critical and commercial acclaim. He also co-scripted Insurgent and Allegiant: Part 1, the next two pictures in the Divergent trilogy series for Lionsgate. He also exec produced Paranormal Activity 2, 3 and 4 with Blumhouse, which is one of the producers of this film. Horror fare can be extraordinarily profitable at the box office because their budgets are usually lower and the genre itself tends to have rabid fans. Read More »

Comments (5)

R.I.P. Jim Miller, Former Longtime Warner Bros Exec

By | Thursday June 19, 2014 @ 11:46am PDT

Longtime Warner Bros executive James (Jim ) R. Miller who worked at the studio for 20 years and guided many of its financial deals and joint ventures, died June 6 at age 72. He was battling pancreatic cancer but was undergoing a surgery on Monday and was expected out. He died suddenly and no exact cause of death is known yet.

Miller initially joined the studio in 1979 and was instrumental in creating off balance-sheet financing and financial joint ventures that propelled slate after studio slate. Simply put, he was the financial brains behind the studio to get movies financed and produced — the financial architect, if you will. He began at the studio as VP of business affairs and left in 2000 as president of worldwide theatrical business operation. He set the entire financial course for all of the studio’s motion picture operations.

Miller helped establish long-term relationship with Village Roadshow, helped with the PolyGram deal to acquire CastleRock Entertainment, and also  set up the joint venture between such companies as Arnon Milchan’s New Regency Enterprises; Jim Robinson’s Morgan Creek; producer Jerry Weintraub; producers Joel Silver; and Jon Peters.

“Jim was an extraordinary executive,” said Bob Daly (former Warner Bros. co-chair) in a statement, “and the way Warner Bros. approaches deals today reflects the creativity and strategic thinking he instilled during his long tenure at the studio.” He was known as a smart guy in structuring deals but also known as a tough guy and negotiator for the studio. And … Read More »

Comments (1)

VFX Delays Push Wachowskis’ ‘Jupiter Ascending’ To February

By | Tuesday June 3, 2014 @ 5:46pm PDT

jupiterascendingUPDATED: Warner Bros and Village Roadshow were set to open the Wachowskis’ sci-fier Jupiter Ascending on July 18 after moving it up by a week in the summer 2014 tentpole calendar back in December. Now the actioner starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis won’t fly into theaters until February 6, 2015. WB’s action pic Run All Night, starring Liam Neeson as a hitman protecting his family, had occupied that February date but has been moved off the schedule completely as Jupiter slides into its place. I hear the Wachowskis needed more time to complete visual effects work on their CG-heavy space epic, which spans intergalactic worlds and follows the story of a woman (Kunis) who links up with a space warrior (Tatum) and learns she’s the heir to Earth. The shift to February now pits Jupiter Ascending against Johnny Depp in Lionsgate’s Mortdecai and Universal’s fantasy actioner Seventh Son, which ironically endured multiple date changes and millions of dollars in extra fees when its own VFX schedule was thrown into crisis by the Rhythm & Hues bankruptcy.

Related: Hot Trailer: The Wachowskis’ ‘Jupiter Ascending’

Comments 52

‘San Andreas’ Adds Will Yun Lee; Lee Tergesen To Lead ‘Taken’ Spoof ‘Tooken’; ‘The DUFF’ Rounds Out Cast

By | Wednesday May 28, 2014 @ 12:43pm PDT

will yun leeWill Yun Lee (Red Dawn, Total Recall, The Wolverine) has locked a role in New Line, WB, and Village Roadshow’s disaster pic San Andreas. Lee will play Dr. Kim Chung, the co-director of the Cal-Tech Seismology Lab in the film about an ex-Special Ops firefighter (Dwayne Johnson) scouring Northern California for his family after the Big One hits. He was recently tapped for a recurring role on HBO’s vamp series True Blood and also appears in Fox’s upcoming Melissa McCarthy comedy Spy and Duane Adler’s Make Your Move, opposite Korean superstar BoA. San Andreas is produced by Beau Flynn. Rob Cowan is executive producer, and Hiram Garcia is co-producer. Tripp Vinson also serves as a producer on the film which hits theaters next summer and begins filming in Australia next month. Lee is repped by APA and Zero Gravity Management.

Lee tergesen TookenThe Americans and Longmire thesp Lee Tergesen (Monster, Wayne’s World, Point Break) has a particular set of skills, which Elevative Entertainment has tapped for its upcoming spy comedy spoof Tooken. The Naked Gun-style send-up of actioner Taken sees Tergesen play the Liam Neeson role as “Bryan Millers,” with Lauren Stamile (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and the upcoming USA series Complications) as his ex-wife and Laura-Leigh (We’re the Millers, The Client List) playing their daughter Kim. Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly, Transformers: Age of Extinction), Joyce Bulifant (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), and Ray Abruzzo (The Sopranos, Last Vegas) round out the cast. Actor-turned-director John Asher, who co-starred with Tergesen on USA’s Weird Science, is at the helm of the film which begins lensing in LA next week. Read More »

Comments (1)

Cannes: Well Go Acquires U.S. Rights To Aussie Thriller ‘These Final Hours’

By | Wednesday May 21, 2014 @ 11:25am PDT

Cannes2014_badge__140417160328-150x150 (1)Aussie Zak Hilditch‘s directorial debut These Final Hours has been acquired by Well Go USA Entertainment, which plans to platform release the dramatic thriller in NY and LA. Village Roadshow’s Roadshow Films is set to release the pic wide in Australia on July 31. Paradigm handled North American sales on behalf of Roadshow Films, which in addition to Australia and New Zealand also has U.S. and UK rights. Celluloid Nightmares is selling international at the Cannes market. The pic, which Hilditch also wrote, centers on a self-obsessed man who on his way to the party-to-end-all-parties on the last day on Earth ends up saving the life of a little girl searching for her father. The relationship between the two ultimately leads him on the path to redemption. Nathan Phillips, Angourie Rice and Jessica De Gouw star. (Check out the trailer below.) Hilditch is repped by Paradigm, Thruline Entertainment and HLA Management Australia.

Comments (4)

Over The Cannes Transom: ‘Sea Of Trees’ Awash In Sales; Music Box Grabs Fortnight’s ‘Gett’; Hairun, Village Roadshow Climb ‘Mountain Cry’; Cinedigm Picks Up ‘Stream’; More

By | Wednesday May 21, 2014 @ 3:02am PDT

Cannes2014_badge__140417160328-150x150 (1)Alex Walton and Ken Kao’s new production, finance and sales outfit Bloom got off to a strong start in Cannes this week with one of the more sought after projects in town, Gus Van Sant’s Sea Of Trees starring Matthew McConaughey. The film has now virtually sold out around the world after Van Sant and McConaughey came to the Croisette to share their vision with buyers. Among the territories that closed are the UK, Australia and New Zealand (eOne), Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and pan-Latin America (Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions), France (SND), India and Pakistan (Apsara), Israel (United King), Italy (Lucky Red), Japan (Parco) and CIS and the Baltic States (West). McConaughey stars in the drama about a man who journeys to the Sea Of Trees, a dense forest lapping the foothills of Mount Fuji and described by many as the perfect place to die. There, he encounters a Japanese man who has also lost his way. Ken Watanabe and Naomi Watts are in negotiations. The film will start production in July.

Music Box Films has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz’s Gett, The Trial Of Viviane Amsalem. FilmsDistribution’s Nicolas Brigaud Robert confirms the deal on the Directors’ Fortnight title that premiered to glowing reviews. The story follows a woman’s five-year fight to obtain her divorce in Israel’s Rabbinical Court. Set entirely inside the courtroom, the film centers on Viviane and her lawyer who must face the uncompromising attitude of Elisha, the husband — he keeps refusing the divorce even though they’ve been separated for years. Read More »

Comments (0)

Hot Trailer: ‘Edge Of Tomorrow’

By | Monday May 12, 2014 @ 1:29pm PDT

WB and Village Roadshow unveil more in the latest trailer for sci-fi actioner Edge of Tomorrow, playing up the Groundhog Day element in the tale of a military officer (Tom Cruise) stuck in a time loop that restarts his day every time he dies, allowing him to slowly turn into the ultimate weapon to fight invading alien hordes. Emily Blunt co-stars in the June 6 release helmed by Doug Liman and adapted by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth from Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel All You Need Is Kill:

Comments 30

Clifford Werber Tapped As Worldview Entertainment President

By | Monday May 12, 2014 @ 8:55am PDT

Werber-clifford-120Clifford Werber, a former senior exec at 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros, has been tapped as president of the motion picture group for Worldview Entertainment, an indie that finances, produces and acquires feature films which has a five-year multi-pic partnership with The Weinstein Company. Werber will report to Worldview’s chairman and CEO Christopher Woodrow and COO Molly Conners.

worldviewlogoWerber worked for many years in structuring financial deals at the studios and is well-known around town and on the major festival circuits like the Cannes Film Festival. He coordinated equity film financing deals with companies such as Alcon Entertainment, Village Roadshow Pictures and Morgan Creek Prods, Lightstorm Entertainment at Warner Bros, and Lightstorm Entertainment at Fox. He’s adept at production and finance deals and understands the international markets well. Read More »

Comments (6)

Sony Pictures Nears Co-Finance Deal With Village Roadshow

By and | Monday May 5, 2014 @ 1:13pm PDT

village roadshow sonyThe supplementary financing deal between Village Roadshow Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment won’t trump Village Roadshow’s longtime co-financing partnership with Warner Bros., whose first-look deal most recently yielded the blockbuster $450M animated hit The Lego Movie.

Deadline previously reported that SonyEntertainment CEO Michael Lynton was looking for other co-financing partners and, in fact, are ready to go with former Warner Bros. president Jeff Robinov when his financing comes together and that will be a coup. Two of the films Robinov had the insight to shepard — 300: Rise of an Empire and The Lego Movie — together have already generated over $1B worldwide for WB this year. Sony already sealed a big $200M deal with Lone Star Capital and Citibank — half debt and half equity — which Deadline reported exclusively last month. It is a multi-year agreement to co-finance the majority of their films for the next several years.

The deal with Village Roadshow is imminent but will finance only a small percentage of a few pictures — not below 25% on each. A key deal point is that Sony will continue to keep most of its territories internationally as Village Roadshow operates in only a few territories, so the deal includes Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Village Roadshow have deep pockets to finance and the deal covers select films on a picture-by-picture basis, starting with an initial quartet of upcoming titles: Antoine … Read More »

Comments (2)

Ioan Gruffudd Heads For ‘San Andreas’

By | Tuesday April 29, 2014 @ 2:05pm PDT

Ioan GruffuddEXCLUSIVE: Welsh thesp Ioan Gruffudd is set to join Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino in New Line’s disaster actioner San Andreas. Johnson stars as a former Special Ops firefighter scouring a post-quake California for his ex-wife and daughter. Fantastic Four star Gruffudd will play Daniel Reddick, a wealthy real estate developer who’s engaged to Johnson’s ex-wife (Gugino). Alexandra Daddario is aboard as the daughter with Arrow‘s Colton Haynes also cast. Brad Peyton is at the helm of the Warner Bros and Village Roadshow co-financed co-production, which begins filming in Australia in June and hits theaters in Summer 2015. Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson are producing and Rob Cowan is exec producer. Gruffudd recently wrapped feature Home Invasion and ABC and WB’s pilot Forever. He’s repped by ICM Partners, Framework Entertainment, and Nelson Davis.

Comments (3)

Warner Bros Dates ‘King Arthur’ For July 2016

By | Thursday April 10, 2014 @ 4:21pm PDT

Warner Bros and Village Roadshow Picturesguyritchie have slotted the Guy Ritchie-helmed King Arthur for July 22, 2016. As we reported back in January, Ritchie was circling the project, a tentpole fantasy retelling of the Arthur legend. This new version was created by Joby Harold, who wrote the script for the first film. Producing is Akiva Goldsman through Weed Road, Harold and Tory Tunnell through Safehouse Pictures, and Ritchie’s partner Lionel Wigram. So far the pic has the July 22, 2016 date to itself.

Comments (6)

CinemaCon: Warner Bros Brings Out Heavy Star Power To Court Theater Owners – Eastwood, Depp, Freeman, Sandler, Tatum Hit Vegas

By | Thursday March 27, 2014 @ 6:38pm PDT
Pete Hammond

If CinemaCon delegates were waiting for a busload of movie stars to show up at the convention, Warner Bros granted their wish this afternoon delivering, by far, CinemaCon 2014 - Warner Bros. Pictures Invites You To "The Big Picture," An Exclusive Presentation Highlighting The Summer Of 2014 And Beyondmore star power to the stage of the Caesars Palace Colosseum Theatre than the other studios combined. Clint EastwoodAdam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Melissa McCarthy , Morgan Freeman, Johnny Depp, Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis were among the names who were trotted out by the studio to the delight of theater owners in the audience. But sometimes it gets awkward up there. Tatum and Kunis just read their lines off a teleprompter, and CinemaCon2014_badgeDepp couldn’t seem to figure out if he had any. Usually at these things he just walks across the stage and waves. Sandler actually was quite funny, bantering with a very pregnant Barrymore, who was still in tears she said over the preceding clip from Godzilla. Eastwood managed a standing ovation and, in talking about the very high-decibel sound levels of the film clips, charmed his way through a brief introduction to footage from his forthcoming musical Jersey Boys.

warner_bros_logo-2__130321233618__130419003343__131121204956__131213030736__140121202406__140209183407__140215004412The heavy star presence distinguished Warners’ turn in the spotlight, the last of the major studios to come to bat, in a presentation that was otherwise very corporate in its approach. Warners had much to crow about and clearly knew it after coming off a record $5.03 billion year, 10 Oscars and a personal-best 21 nominations. It also had a 2013 summer that produced another record: All seven releases earned more than $100 million each. And Warners touted early results in 2014 as being just as promising, with The Lego Movie earning $400 million worldwide so far and the sequel 300: Rise Of An Empire already up to a symmetrically perfect $300 million. Whether the studio can continue on this kind of roll is anyone’s guess as it has a year ahead that’s almost totally lacking in bread-and-butter sequels. Read More »

Comments (6)

Hot Teaser Trailer: ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’

By | Thursday March 27, 2014 @ 10:56am PDT

Here’s the first look at the Michael Bay-ified version of the iconic comic quartet. Looks like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been toughened up, a departure from the franchise’s more kid-friendly animated past more akin to the Turtles’ ’90s-era live-action iterations. Megan Fox and William Fichtner star in the origin story, which Jonathan Liebesman directs. Paramount releases the pic August 8, a busy date on the summer schedule with New Line/Village Roadshow’s Into The Storm (which also dropped its teaser today), Disney’s The Hundred-Foot Journey and Universal’s Scarlett Johansson-starrer Lucy also set to premiere that day.

Comments 61

Hot Trailer: Warner Bros’ ‘Into The Storm’

By | Thursday March 27, 2014 @ 10:31am PDT

New Line Cinema and Village Roadshow Pictures will release the Steven Quale-helmed Into The Storm on August 8, 2014. This is the first teaser for the pic, which is told through the eyes and lenses of professional storm chasers, thrill-seeking amateurs, and courageous townspeople, throwing you “directly into the eye of the storm to experience Mother Nature at her most extreme.” John Swetnam wrote the script and Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Arlen Escarpeta, Nathan Kress, Jon Reep and Jeremy Sumpter star. A lot has improved VFX-wise since Warners’ 1996 tornado pic Twister, so this looks pretty great (check out the teaser below). But it sure is a tough time to promo a pic from the disaster genre, what with the Malaysian Airlines plane and its 239 passengers still missing and the tragedy in Washington state where rescuers are faced with recovering an entire neighborhood that essentially disappeared under a wave of mud.

Comments 24

Hot Trailer: The Wachowskis’ ‘Jupiter Ascending’

By | Wednesday March 26, 2014 @ 4:57pm PDT

It’s been more than three months since we got our first look at Jupiter Ascending, now comes the second trailer for the sci-fi actioner written and directed by the Wachowskis. Look for warriors, crafts that soar through space and under water, bees, toilets and battles for the very future of our Earth. Channing Tatum plays an interplanetary warrior and Mila Kunis is a janitor who’s meant for much greater things. Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne also star. Warner Bros will release the Village Roadshow co-production on July 25. Check it out:

Comments 28

Sam Jaeger Enlists For ‘American Sniper’; Jon Tenney Joins ‘The Best Of Me’

By | Tuesday March 25, 2014 @ 7:29pm PDT

Sam JaegerSam Jaeger has joined the cast of Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. The film stars Bradley Cooper as decorated marksman Chris Kyle, whose memoir American Sniper: The Autobiography Of The Most Lethal Sniper In U.S. Military History serves as the basis for the Warner Bros film. Village Roadshow is co-producing and co-financing. Jaeger will play Captain Martens, who welcomes Chris back to Iraq for his second tour of duty and is his commanding officer on his subsequent tour. Jaeger is a regular on NBC’s Parenthood and appeared in last year’s The Truth About Emanuel. He next will be seen in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. Jaeger is repped by Greene & Associates and Circle of Confusion.

Jon TenneyJon Tenney has booked a role in The Best Of Me, Relativity’s adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel.The pic ttells the story of Dawson and Amanda, former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart when they return to their small town for the funeral of a beloved friend. Their reunion reignites the love they’ve never forgotten, but the duo find the very same forces that drove them apart before live on. Tenney plays Harvey, father of Amanda (played as a teenager by Liana Liberato and as an adult by Michelle Monaghan). Read More »

Comments (0)
More Deadline | Hollywood »