Fox Searchlight has had two great box office wins with this year’s Grand Budapest Hotel and Belle, though some challenge with I Origins. Calvary from John Michael McDonagh with Brendan Gleeson and Chris O’Dowd will be the distributor’s next title opening this weekend in a summer season that has heated up in recent weeks among Specialties with films like Boyhood. Sundance documentary winner Rich Hill will also join this weekend’s newcomers with a New York bow via The Orchard, while writer-director-star James Franco‘s Child Of God will open in 10 locations courtesy of Well Go USA. KimStim will open German film The Strange Little Cat, a festival favorite that was made for about €13,000 in New York with a day and date release with Fandor.
Director-writer: John Michael McDonagh
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran, Isaach De Bankolé
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Chris Clark and producing partner Flora Fernandez-Marengo first heard the idea for Calvary back when their company Reprisal Films produced filmmaker John Michael McDonagh’s previous project The Guard in 2011 (that film opened with a $19,209 PTA in four theaters in July 2011 in the U.S. via Sony Classics, going on to cume $5.36M domestically). “It came out of a conversation we were all having with Brendan Gleeson [who also starred in The Guard],” said Clark. “Nine months later, John [McDonagh] presented the script.” Read More »
The cable networks company known for its hits The Walking Dead and Mad Men could use the deal to further establish itself as a leading distributor of premium content — strengthening its ability to sell ads and negotiate high fees from cable and satellite companies. Bankers and executives are working on a cash and stock deal, I’m told — but with no dollar figures yet.
The arrangement would give AMC Networks just short of a majority stake in BBC America, unlike a previous representation arrangement with Discovery, which did not own equity. While BBC Worldwide would still control the channel and brand, AMC would be able to influence programming decisions and handle BBC America’s domestic ad sales and distribution. Talks have been ongoing for several months, but a deal isn’t complete. Bloomberg was first to report the negotiations.
AMC and BBC know each other well. They’re co-producers of The Honorable Woman, which premieres tomorrow on SundanceTV. Last year they partnered on Sundance’s Top Of the Lake, and they have an upcoming production, One Child.
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The fanboy Super Bowl is over. Who made the most of San Diego Comic-Con and who spit the bit? Here’s the view from Deadline staffers who endured endless movie and TV show presentations. We’ll start with features:
WARNER BROS: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Mad Max: Fury Road, Jupiter Ascending, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
The best Comic-Con panels show fans things they’ve never seen before. From that standpoint, Warner Bros changed the game by making the Hall H experience seem larger. It turned the dark curtains covering 450 feet down the sides of the auditorium into a wraparound multimedia visual experience that left jaded geeks looking left and right in wonder at images that complemented the onstage presentation. Expect others to rip this off. For star power: Zack Snyder introduced his Batman v Superman stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Gal Gadot and offered glimpses of the film. Warner Bros also wowed with explosive footage from Mad Max: Fury Road, a film that looks like it could be the answer someday to this Trivial Pursuit question: What movie transformed Tom Hardy from a great actor into a big fucking movie star? Warner Bros also brought Middle Earth excitement to Hall H with a lengthy Hobbit: The Five Armies panel and footage that had LOTR fans aflutter.
Related: Q&A: Peter Jackson On His Middle Earth Exit And A Disguise That Let Him Haunt Comic-Con
MARVEL: Ant-Man, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Marvel is always the must-see panel; not so much this year. Maybe it was DC Comics’ turn to shine, and maybe being a sequel factory imposes limits on the surprise front. They trotted out the superstar Avengers lineup — been there, done that! — with additions Josh Brolin, Aaron Johnson, and Elizabeth Olsen. No Black Widow Scarlett Johansson, who was busy bitch-slapping Hercules at the box office in the Luc Besson film Lucy. Footage was OK, but Kevin Feige set a high bar for himself in past Cons, and this year he couldn’t clear it. Ant-Man brought Corey Stoll and Evangeline Lilly (already knew they were in the movie), and plans for a Guardians Of The Galaxy sequel were greeted by a collective “Duh!’ Feige could have told us what movies will fill all those release dates he recently staked out. He didn’t. Better luck next year, Marvel Man.
Related: Marvel Sets ‘Guardians 2′ For 2017; ‘Avengers 2’ Footage Draws Standing O
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Universal and director F. Gary Gray have found their MC Ren and DJ Yella, adding two more thesps who’ll portray core members of rising 1980s gangsta rap group N.W.A in biopic Straight Outta Compton. Turn‘s Aldis Hodge will play MC Ren aka Lorenzo Jerald Patterson, and The Walking Dead‘s Neil Brown Jr will play DJ Yella aka Antoine Carraby alongside O’Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell as Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E.
Straight Outta Compton chronicles the meteoric rise and fall of the seminal group, which burst from the streets of Compton, CA, with aggressive beats and tales of hood life. O.G. N.W.A members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre are directly involved as producers, alongside Matt Alvarez and Tomica Woods-Wright. Will Packer and Gray are exec producing the August 14, 2015, release.
Cube, Dre, and Eazy-E are the pic’s lead characters, but the formative years of N.W.A saw a deep lineup of hip-hop talent joining the group. DJ Yella, a colleague of Dre’s from their early electro DJ days in the World Class Wreckin’ Cru, would become a co-producer on Eazy-E’s solo debut Eazy-Duz-It and co-produced all of N.W.A’s albums including its 1988 debut Straight Outta Compton. MC Ren joined the group in the same year and co-wrote the majority of the first album with Ice Cube. Read More »
Ron Livingston will play Paul Revere in AMC’s comedy pilot We Hate Paul Revere, which begins shooting next month in LA. The pilot received the network’s first green light to a half-hour project back in March. It centers on two brothers living in Colonial Boston who are not fans of local industrialist and activist Paul Revere. Now they have their “bad guy.” The project is written, executive produced and stars Ethan Sandler and Adrian Wenner. AMC Studios is producing, and Troy Miller is a non-writing executive producer through his Dakota Films.
Livingston is playing Elvis Presley in the Eddie OKeefe-directed drama Shangri-La Suite and also stars in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, which he joined for Season 4. His next pic is Fort Bliss opposite Michelle Monaghan. He is repped by UTA and Thruline Entertainment.
Bluebirds of happiness were alighting at distributor Fox and creator Blue Sky Studios this week, as Rio 2 flew to the No. 1 spot in Rentrak’s weekly DVD and Blu-Ray sales charts in its home-entertainment debut. The sequel’s capering birds were followed at the top by two other animated hits beloved by kids and therefore their parents: Warner Bros’ The Lego Movie and Disney’s Oscar-winning and all-time animated box-office champ Frozen.
The theatrical arrival of Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, another Fox film, likely caused its cinematic predecessor, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, to swing back near the top of the charts a whopping 136 weeks (more than 2 1/2 years) after it first arrived there.
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15th UPDATE, Monday, 2:00 PM: Lucy ended up the weekend just shy of $44M while Hercules did better on Sunday to get $29.8M and several other films did a notch better than expected from Sunday moviegoers. And So It Goes ended up right at $4.6M. Ugh. The Fluffy Movie was on only 432 screens and will remain on those going into the weekend (results below).
Next weekend, all eyes are on the new openers — Marvel/Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Universal’s James Brown biopic Get On Up — to lift the box office out of its summer slump. And Guardians is likely to do just that. It’s tracking right now between $65M and $75M and veteran distribution executives think it could go higher. It’s 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes right now and seems to be getting positive reaction on all sides. And why not? It’s a really entertaining film, filled with unexpected humor and a raccoon character that kind of steals the show. Right now, Get On Up is tracking around $15M to $20M so between that and the second weekend of Lucy, Universal should end up with the No. 2 and No. 3 spots. Here’s the Top 20 chart … until next weekend when the Star Lord arrives:
1). Lucy (UNI), 3,173 theaters / 3-day cume: $43.9M / Per screen average: $13,835 / Wk 1
2). Hercules (MGM/PAR), 3,595 theaters / 3-day cume: $29.8M / Per screen: $8,289 / Wk 1
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SPOILER ALERT: This story discusses possible plot directions and future of Sons of Anarchy.
Sons Of Anarchy may be starting its final season this fall, but tales about the world shown in the FX drama are not over. “We are having serious conversations about our prequel,” said SOA creator Kurt Sutter to loud applause today at Comic-Con. “My sense is right now that I don’t know if it will be a full-on series or a mini-series.” While this is far from the first time the showrunner has talked about going back to the show’s roots, it had special significance Sunday in the massive Hall H for what is expected to be SOA’s last of many SDCC appearances.
“There’ll be no spinoffs,” added Sutter. “I think spinoffs work well on procedural dramas, which this clearly is not.” The SOA story will also continue in Bratva, the show’s first novelization. The upcoming book, whose cover art Sutter showed the audience, picks up after Season 4.
The often acerbic Sutter teared up when other show principals thanked him for creating the series and for the experience of working on it. “Sit the f*** down,” Sutter told the cast and the thousands in the hall when they gave him a standing ovation. “I got an image.”
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The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus shot some video from his perch on the dais today during the hit AMC zombie series’ panel in cavernous Hall H at the San Diego Convention Center. He then tweeted it out to his 2.1 million-plus followers, all of whom appear to have shown up and been crammed into the room. It makes being chased by the flesh-eating undead seem refined by comparison. Check it out for yourself:
The Walking Dead is heading to Washington D.C. for Season 5 to find a cure for the zombie apocalypse. That was made very clear by an intense 5-minute sneak peek that Comic-Con fans saw today in the massive Hall H (see it below). “This is a season that is going to be pretty close to the comics,” said Robert Kirkman. The comic co-creator and series executive producer’s point was emphasized by fellow EP Gale Anne Hurd, who hinted before the video was shown at some suburban locations, and “you’ll see us take some big leaps with the characters and the set pieces.” AMC announced the new season debuts October 12 at 9 PM.
Before the Season 5 video was shown the panel started off with a fake sitcom-like clip from Episode 15 of the upcoming season that showed an aged Rick Grimes and the other characters with long long beards playing cards in the train car they were trapped in at the end of Season 4. “Sort of like Cheers at Terminus,” joked showrunner Scott Gimple. Read More »
AMC continues to explore new places and genres with a pilot order to White City, a geopolitical drama focused on Western diplomats and journalists living in Afghanistan. An adventure story set in the somewhat surreal ex-pat world of near-present Afghanistan, White City was among the scripts vying for a pilot order at the network’s 2014 annual script showcase held in the spring. The show focuses on Jon Liston, a war junkie who has spent the better part of the last decade in Kabul with a front-row seat to the carnage. In the pilot, against the advice of everyone from American embassy staffers to tweeting tribal leaders to the French journalist he’s in a relationship with, Jon tragically overreaches in an attempt to talk with insurgent leaders. In the series, Jon must find a new role in Kabul as he attempts to address his guilt, frustration and doubts about whether there is good left for him or any Westerner to do in Afghanistan.
Related: 2014 AMC Pilots
The project, produced by AMC Studios, comes from co-writers and co-executive producers Nick McDonell, a novelist (Twelve) and journalist who has covered Iraq and Afghanistan for TIME, and John Dempsey, former long-time resident of Kabul and senior advisor on Afghanistan to the late US diplomat, Richard C. Holbrooke. Executive producers are Chris Mundy, a former journalist for Rolling Stone and showrunner of Criminal Minds and AMC’s Low … Read More »
With the power of fans growing and the influence of TV reviews declining in the age of social media, the once marque summer TCA press tour has been taking a back seat to Comic-Con. Once again, the Los Angeles critics convention served as a warm-up for the San Diego geekfest, with the networks trying to save their noisy announcements for the Con. But what would’ve been another uneventful summer TCA was livened up by two big consolidation stories that broke in the first and second week — 21st Century Fox’s decision to put both the broadcast network and 20th Century Fox TV under the studio’s chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman, and the company’s (for now unsuccessful) bid to acquire Time Warner.
The first news, which had been widely expected, was met largely with approval as an inevitable move in an industry where owning content is becoming more and more important. CBS has helped grow CSI into a billion-dollar franchise for the parent company, which owns the show. Compare that with The Big Bang Theory, which CBS developed and nurtured to a blockbuster hit that would make as much as $3 billion — for another company, Warner Bros. TV. Watching how much money it has made for WBTV, with the Chuck Lorre series, and for 20th Century Fox TV, with How I Met Your Mother, the network focused on growing its own syndicatable comedies, recently renewing CBS Studios-produced The Millers for a second season. During CBS’ TCA executive session, chairman Tassler was asked whether ownership played a role in the decision to renew The Millers over two 20th TV freshmen, The Crazy Ones, which drew bigger DVR ratings increases, and Friends with Better Lives, which showed better retention. “We will never ever, ever discriminate based solely on ownership,” Tassler said. “We feel that The Millers has a lot of great story material still imbedded in the DNA of the show.” Read More »
Outcast, the exorcism drama project from The Walking Dead executive producer Robert Kirkman, is moving to a pilot stage at Cinemax. Kirkman made the announcement on Twitter from Comic-Con, where he is with the AMC zombie drama which has its always-popular panel presentation in Hall H. In his pilot writing debut, Kirkman penned Outcast on spec for The Walking Dead international partner Fox International Channels, which developed the project internally before taking it out. Cinemax acquired the script last November. Like The Walking Dead, Outcast too is based on a comic by Kirkman, who will serve as executive producer alongside David Alpert of Circle of Confusion, Sue Naegle, Chris Black, and Sharon Tal Yguado of FIC. The project follows Kyle Barnes, a young man who has been plagued by possession since he was a child. Now an adult, he embarks on a journey to find answers, but what he uncovers could mean the end of life on Earth as we know it.
UPDATE: 5:49 PM: There were a few surprises at the Hannibal panel today after all. Both leads Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy appeared to Ballroom 20 via short individual video greetings with the former in Denmark and the latter from Australia.
Also, it turns out Season 3 will pick up a year after the brutal events of the Season 2 finale. Episode 4 of Season 3 will fill in what happened between the two cycles, Bryan Fuller disclosed. He also revealed after a half-joking question by moderator Jonathan Ross that Eddie Izzard in fact will return to the series. “We’re writing for Eddie Izzard to return in a flashback scene,” said Fuller to applause from the packed ballroom about the reappearance of the losing limbs Dr. Abel Gideon. Izzard appeared in 5 episodes in Season 2. BTW – Raul Esparza did show up, and he’s coming back to the show.
PREVIOUS, 4:05 PM: Bryan Fuller doesn’t spare Hannibal viewers the raw deal on the show and he has no intention of doing otherwise today at Comic-Con. “We’re pretty generous with the spoilers,” the showrunner refreshingly told me just before this afternoon’s panel. “We will be talking fairly openly about events in Season 3 and hopefully getting people excited.” If last year’s SDCC appearance by the NBC series is any indication, the fans in Ballroom 20 will be very exited indeed. Despite a sometime … Read More »
Comic-Con 2014 officially opens today and tens of thousands are descending on San Diego to pick up their passes and prepare for four days of special screenings, studio and network panels, and previews. Having already hit the ground running, Deadline is here with Mike Fleming Jr leading our film coverage along with Jen, while Dominic and Anthony D’Alessandro handle the TV side. (Dominic will also be moderating FX’s Archer panel this year.)
Of course, veteran heavyweights like HBO’s Game Of Thrones and AMC’s The Walking Dead will be packing the mammoth Hall H on the TV side. HBO’s True Blood, a longtime fave in its final season, is set to make its Comic-Con bow Saturday in Ballroom 20, as is Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, which just wrapped its first season and has its panel this evening. Repping the big screen side, studios are putting their tentpole wares out there with presentations by Marvel and Warner Bros with The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and Mad Max: Fury Road among others.
Below we spotlight a few special events on the schedule that you don’t want to miss. (For the full TV and film lineups, go here and here.) Read More »
Only 10 days after Better Call Saul creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould revealed that in the Breaking Bad prequel series Bob Odenkirk‘s title character will actually be known as Jimmy McGill, here he is in the flesh. A photo of a billboard along I-25 in Albuquerque advertising the services of a younger-looking Odenkirk as attorney James M. McGill, was snapped by a commuter. I’ve learned the billboard is a prop put up for an episode of the AMC series, which films in the New Mexico town that also housed Breaking Bad. For maximum authenticity and a nod to the local community that had embraced the franchise, the number on the billboard also is real, greeting callers with a recorded message by Odenkirk as McGill. Slated for a 2015 premiere, Better Call Saul, from Sony TV, will track the transformation of McGill, a small-time lawyer hustling to make ends meet, into Saul Goodman.
AMC has hired former Warner Horizon Television exec Drew Brown as SVP Production. In his new role, Brown is responsible for overseeing all aspects of production and post production for the studio and network side of the business. He reports to Joel Stillerman, the network’s executive vice president of original programming, production and digital content.
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Comic-Con doesn’t officially open until tomorrow, but the soon-to-be packed San Diego confab will be buzzing with this news. The Walking Dead EP Gale Anne Hurd, one of the queens of the geekfest, is partnering with Warren Ellis, one of the biggest names in comics, for the latter’s first leap into the world of TV. In a deal signed with Universal Cable Productions, the as-yet-untitled Ellis project will be produced with Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment. “I’ve been strongly drawn to television over the last few years, and working with brilliant and determined collaborators like Gale and the UCP team, I’m delighted at the opportunity to add my voice to the new, novelistic TV form that’s evolved so dramatically,” said the Iron Man: Extremis, Gun Machine and Red author today. Added Hurd: “There are very few writers who have been able to so completely influence a medium as Warren has with comic books.”
Although Ellis won’t be at Comic-Con this year, Hurd will appear again in the cavernous Hall H for the always-packed Walking Dead panel featuring AMC’s zombie apocalypse blockbuster. This year’s panel is set for Friday at 12:20 PM and will feature co-creator Robert Kirkman, cast members Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus and others. Read More »