EXCLUSIVE: Horror network Chiller today announced the addition of two features to its line-up of 2013-2014 original movies. Animal, from exec producer Drew Barrymore and her Flower Films banner, follows a group of friends stranded in an isolated cabin who find themselves hunted by a predator. Deep In The Darkness stars Sean Patrick Thomas and Dean Stockwell in the tale of a NYC doctor who moves his family to a small town only to discover a race of creatures living in the woods behind their home. Both films join previously announced features Beneath, from director Larry Fessenden, and The Monkey’s Paw, adapted from W.W. Jacobs’s short story, to launch Chiller Films’ new multiplatform release strategy. The four titles will get limited theatrical runs via Synthetic Cinema International before debuting on VOD in partnership with NBCU Digital Distribution.
Prime Focus already has a global footprint with offices in the LA, NY, Canada, the UK and India. That makes it more immune to the problems American-based VXF firms like Rhythm & Hues have had sustaining a viable business model (Prime Focus was one of four companies in the running in the R&H bankruptcy auction eventually won by another global firm, India-based Prana Studios). In March, Prime Focus announced a Chinese joint venture with Hong Kong–based private equity group AID Partners and local partner Zhejiang Jingqi Wenhua Chuanbo Co to invest $3M in a new operation that will provide 2D/3D conversion, VFX and postproduction services on the mainland and in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Its recent credits included stereo VFX, 3D conversion and archive footage colorization work on Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. Here’s today’s release out of the Shanghai International Film Festival announcing the Beijing opening:
Megan And David Ellison Will Each Pay 33% Of ‘Terminator’ Costs; Paramount Paying The Rest To Bring Arnold Back
EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: A spate of reports of movement on The Terminator franchise is a good sign that the franchise is finally starting to percolate again. I’ve learned that each Ellison — David and Megan, both scions of Oracle chief Larry Ellison — will finance 33% of the film’s budget, with Paramount finding the remaining third. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself said yesterday during an appearance in Sydney that he’s coming back and the movie will start shooting in January. None of this is really a surprise: Back in December, Megan Ellison, who’d spent $20 million to buy The Terminator sequel rights during 2011 Cannes, partnered on the franchise with her brother David. She makes prestige films and he makes popcorn fare like Star Trek and Mission: Impossible sequels, so the union made sense. The Wrap claimed an exclusive that Paramount would be the distributor. Well, through Skydance Productions, David makes all his movies with Paramount, so it was kind of obvious the films would likely land there. Skydance and Paramount are just coming through the gigantic ordeal of making World War Z, which, despite a massive budget, looks like it will do some serious global business.
As for Schwarzenegger, he’s been attached since back in May 2011, when Megan Ellison beat out Lionsgate and paid around $20 million for the franchise. She bought it from Pacificor, which had paid $29.5 million to pull the property out of bankruptcy. The latest rumor is that Megan Ellison would make a hail mary pass attempt to draft her Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow. That would be a coup, but it’s being denied, which means either that it’s not true, or Bigelow passed already. The project has been director-less since Fast 6‘s Justin Lin bowed out of the project when it was being developed solely by Megan Ellison. I met Lin at Sundance and he made it clear he wouldn’t return because he was not involved in the development of the script. Ellison in January hired Avatar and Shutter Island‘s Laeta Kalogridis and My Bloody Valentine‘s Patrick Lussier to write the script, so it stands to reason that the film should be ready to shoot by early next year.
The Art Directors Guild (IATSE Local 800) will highlight the sci-fi work of members in a special exhibition at the Peninsula Museum of Art running this summer, the ADG announced today. The Art Of Science Fiction will feature 150 paintings and drawings by production designers, art directors, scenic, title and graphic artists, set designers, illustrators, matte artists and digital artists from the ADG ranks. Sci-fi properties from film and TV represented include Real Steel, the original Tron and Tron Legacy, Avatar, Men In Black, 10,000 Days, Dr. Who, Firefly, Serenity, and the Star Trek franchise. The exhibit runs from June 9 to August 25 in Burlingame, CA.
Los Angeles, CA (May 30, 2013) – XLrator Media has acquired all U.S. distribution rights to the film “CBGB,” a rock ‘n roll true story of the legendary New York City club that launched dozens of top bands and is known globally as the home of American Punk Rock music. “CBGB” tells the tale of the famed venue and its iconoclastic founder Hilly Kristal, portrayed by Alan Rickman (Harry Potter series) and directed by Randall Miller (Bottle Shock). The release of the much-buzzed-about film is timed to take advantage of the huge CBGB Music Festival event this Fall and the current mainstream popularity of “PUNK” in the media, art and fashion. The announcement was made today by XLrator Media CEO Barry Gordon.
The film will be released theatrically to coincide with the fast-growing CBGB Music Festival, which takes New York City by storm October 9-13, 2013 with over 500 bands performing on 175 stages across the city including Times Square and Brooklyn’s Barkley Center.
“CBGB” features an all-star cast, including Malin Akerman (The Numbers Station), Ashley Greene (Twilight franchise), Johnny Galecki (“The Big Bang Theory”), Rupert Grint (Harry Potter franchise), Justin Bartha (The Hangover franchise), Joel David Moore (Avatar), Freddy Rodriguez (“Six Feet Under”), Donal Logue, Stana Katic (“Castle”), and Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters. With 16 on-camera musical performances, the film features over 60 classic songs by the Talking Heads, The Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, The Police and The Dead Boys, among others.
2013-14 Fox New Series
New Comedies — Fall
Brooklyn Nine-Nine — From Emmy Award-winning writer/producers Dan Goor and Michael Schur (“Parks and Recreation”), and starring Emmy Award winners Andy Samberg (“Saturday Night Live”) and Andre Braugher (“Men of a Certain Age,” “Homicide: Life on the Street”), BROOKLYN NINE-NINE is a new single-camera ensemble comedy about what happens when a talented, but carefree, detective gets a new captain with a lot to prove. Detective JAKE PERALTA (Samberg) is a good enough cop that he’s never had to work that hard or follow the rules too closely. Perhaps because he has the best arrest record among his colleagues, he’s been enabled – if not indulged – throughout his entire career. That is, until the precinct gets a new commanding officer, Captain RAY HOLT (Braugher), who reminds this hotshot cop to respect the badge. Jake may have collared more criminals, but Detective AMY SANTIAGO (Melissa Fumero, “One Life to Live,” “Gossip Girl”) is close behind, and she’s keenly aware of how many arrests she needs to close the gap. Amy grew up with seven brothers who were all cops. She’s the first girl in the family to put on a police uniform, and suffice it to say: she’s extremely competitive…about everything. Also working cases in Brooklyn’s 99th precinct is Sergeant TERRY JEFFORDS (Terry Crews, “Bridesmaids,” “Everybody Hates Chris”), a linebacker of a man who’s lost his nerve, not because he’s a wimp, but because a year ago, his wife …
It only has 3 of the top international markets in release. And it doesn’t open in North American until May 24th. But Twentieth Century Fox’s Blue Sky Studios toon Epic launched with almost no fanfare overseas to $14.5M from 4,674 screens in 16 markets. Mexico ($3.5M from 1,416), Brazil ($2.5M from 616), and Germany ($2.3M from 957) were the leaders with 20 additional international markets opening next Memorial Weekend alongside the U.S. The storyline bears great resemblance to Fox’s juggernaut Avatar and little to Blue Sky’s previous blockbuster franchise Ice Age. “This is an excellent launch in a competitive window,” a Fox exec told me. Epic was #1 in 8 markets, and #2 in 5 markets, because of what has been a long, long draught for family fare in the worldwide market. The last toon in theaters was DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods also distributed by Fox which is playing in 38 markets and whose international cume to date of $375.8M is the 19th highest grossing animated film of all time overseas. Worldwide cume is $552.2M.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Orphan Black’ To BBC; ‘Face’ Adds Faces In UK; 3D Ballet From Cameron Pace; Fremantle Sales
BBC Three Takes ‘Orphan Black’
In a west-to-east move, Britain’s BBC Three has acquired the BBC America original series Orphan Black. The 10-part drama, co-created by Graeme Manson (Flashpoint) and John Fawcett (Spartacus), centers on a street-wise chameleon whose life changes dramatically after witnessing the suicide of a woman who looks just like her. Taking on the woman’s identity, boyfriend and bank account, she is thrust into a kaleidoscopic mystery. Tatiana Maslany stars. BBC America just renewed the series in the U.S. It’s produced by Temple Street Prods in association with BBC America and Space.
‘The Face’ UK Names Models To Join Naomi Campbell
Sky Living has added supermodels Erin O’Connor and Caroline Winberg alongside Naomi Campbell for the UK version of model reality show The Face. The U.S. version, produced by Shine America, launched on Oxygen in February. The local UK format will be co-produced by Princess Productions and Shine TV. The three models will mentor three teams of four girls over eight weeks as they compete in photo shoots, runway shows and commercials. The last girl standing will be crowned the face of a globally known brand. Production starts in the spring. Campbell is exec producing.
Male-friendly new comedy and drama series dominate Fox‘s new series picks. Fox is launching six new series in the fall — comedies Dads, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Enlisted and dramas, Sleepy Hollow and Almost Human — and one reality series, Junior Masterchef. Midseason will be as important with six new shows slated to unspool then: comedies Surviving Jack, Us & Them and animated Murder Police, dramas Rake and Gang Related and event series Wayward Pines, from M. Night Shyamalan. Without further ado, here is Fox’s 2013-14 schedule, with analysis and new show descriptions below it:
FOX FALL 2013-2014 SCHEDULE
(New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET/PT)
8-9 PM Bones (fall) / ALMOST HUMAN (late fall)
9-10 PM SLEEPY HOLLOW (fall) / The Following (midseason)
8-8:30 PM DADS
8:30-9 PM BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
9-9:30 PM New Girl
9:30-10 PM The Mindy Project
8-10 PM The X Factor (fall) / American Idol (midseason)
8-9 PM The X Factor Results (fall) / American Idol Results (midseason)
9-10 PM Glee (fall) / RAKE (midseason)
8-9 PM JUNIOR MASTERCHEF (wt) (fall)
9-10 PM SLEEPY HOLLOW encores (fall)
8-9 PM Bones
9-9:30 PM Raising Hope (late fall)
9:30-10 PM ENLISTED (new; late fall)
7-10:30 PM Fox Sports Saturday
11 PM-12:30 AM ANIMATION DOMINATION HIGH-DEF
7-7:30 PM NFL Game (fall)
7:30-8 PM The OT (fall)
8-8:30 PM The Simpsons
8:30-9:00 PM Bob’s Burgers
9:00-9:30 PM Family Guy
9:30-10 PM American Dad
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, goes the old saying. While the studios continue trying to crack the nut of getting Hollywood films into China, many of the majors also have a wider global strategy that’s proving lucrative both there and elsewhere: Local-language production. Hollywood’s involvement in the area is not new. But, increasingly, movies that are co-produced or distributed by the majors in such places as China, India, Germany, Italy, Spain, Korea and Latin America are finding themselves reaping strong returns.
The markets “are huge,” especially where local box office rivals that of Hollywood pictures. Homegrown films in China, for example, generally snag about 50% of the annual market share and are currently widely outperforming Hollywood films – this week’s Iron Man 3 notwithstanding. In India, the indigenous share of a $2B market can be as much as 90%. There’s an argument to be made that Chinese or Indian films don’t cross cultural borders, but with those kinds of numbers, “Why would the film need to travel?” posits an exec.
Richard Fox, EVP International for Warner Bros., says the studio is looking to develop relationships to make Chinese-language films. “There are a lot of moving pieces in assessing which countries to focus on,” but, “if it doesn’t recoup in the country of origin, we don’t get involved,” he says. Warner recently bet well in Mexico where its comedy Nosotros Los Nobles smashed records with the second biggest opening ever for a non-animated local film.
Another studio exec says local language production “is all relatively opportunistic.” It can be a distraction to try and stay abreast of local material, but “paying attention to local markets, filmmakers and stories around the world gets you more educated in terms of worldwide taste and emerging filmmakers.” Plus, “the minute you have a hit, it’s ‘How much money are we making? Why don’t we up this business?’” Here’s a look at how the studios are speaking in various tongues:
EXCLUSIVE: Sam Worthington is now set to star in The Keeping Room alongside Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld and Nicole Beharie. Harry Brown helmer Daniel Barber will direct. Wind Dancer Films will finance and produce with Gilbert Films and Anonymous Content. The script was written by Julia Hart. Set in the dying days of the Civil War, Worthington plays a soldier who has broken off from the fast-approaching Union Army and encounters women who have been left to fend for themselves. Principal photography is scheduled to begin in June. Worthington, who most recently wrapped the David Ayer-directed Ten with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mireille Enos, and who certainly has an Avatar sequel in his future, is repped by CAA and Anonymous Content. Sierra/Affinity will be selling the film at Cannes.
EXCLUSIVE: Stephen Lang will play the dual role of a French Colonel in 1860 China and the mysterious chauffeur of an American architect in modern-day Beijing in The Dragon Angel, a family adventure movie. Pitof, who directed Halle Berry’s Catwoman and honed his craft as a visual effects ace on such pics as Alien: Resurrection and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s The City Of Lost Children and Delicatessen, is helming this one. Igor Darbo from Popcorn & Friends is producing from a script by Dana Ziyasheva. The film is scheduled to begin shooting at year’s end in China, and Lang’s commitment is set to be announced at the Beijing International Film Festival going on now. He is repped by Innovative Artists.
BREAKING… 21st Century Fox replaces the previously announced name Fox Group for the independent media and entertainment company. The publishing side will retain the name News Corp when the Big Media corporation splits off its two main businesses. The new name will be effective with the separation and “draws on the Company’s creative heritage, while also speaking to the future as well as the innovation that defines its portfolio of businesses,” according to today’s press release. (I hear Rupert Murdoch‘s giant actually hired a naming company for this rather obvious choice unofficially pictured here.) Under the 21st Century Fox umbrella will be a global portfolio of cable and broadcasting networks and properties, including FOX, FX, FXX, FS1, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Sports, Fox Sports Network, National Geographic Channels, Fox Pan American Sports, MundoFox and STAR; film studio Twentieth Century Fox Film; and television production studios Twentieth Century Fox Television and Shine Group as well as its pay-television services in Europe and Asia, including Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia and its equity interests in BSkyB and Tata Sky. On June 28, 2012, News Corp announced the separation of its businesses into two separate independent companies, with the other containing newspapers, information services, and integrated marketing services, digital real estate services, book publishing, digital education and sports programming and pay-TV distribution in Australia. The split still needs federal regulatory approval. Here is Murdoch’s memo to all employees about the new name announcement:
Producer Jon Landau revealed today at the 2013 NAB Technology Summit on Cinema that Jim Cameron “will do performance capture in water” on the sequels to his 2009 Fox megahit. “We want to take advantage of the technologies brilliant people are putting out to make the next two movies even more emotionally engaging and visually tantalizing, and to really wrap up the story arc of our two main characters”, Landau said in his keynote chat today. The filmmakers are currently exploring technologies to allow for underwater capture of actors’ performances “because we can simulate it visually but can’t simulate it experientially for them”.
EXCLUSIVE: Last week, I broke that Paramount Pictures had set The Hunger Games: Catching Fire newcomer Alan Ritchson to play Raphael in the reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Allow me to lift the shell off who’ll be playing the other three turtles. I’m told that Pete Ploszek will play Leonardo, Jeremy Howard will play Donatello and Noel Fisher will play Michaelangelo in the Jonathan Liebesman-directed film. Now, the turtles in the original movies were kind of interchangeable, stuffed into those cheesy costumes, but this is supposed to be a more sophisticated Avatar-like approach. It should give the quartet better exposure, especially since Paramount views this as a franchise. Megan Fox was already set as female lead, and they will lock the bad guy Shredder shortly. Paramount has already dated Ninja Turtles for June 6, 2014.
EXCLUSIVE: Now that Paramount and Platinum Dunes has set Megan Fox as the female lead in the Jonathan Liebesman-directed live-action/CGI feature Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, they are working on the turtles. First to be cast: Alan Ritchson, who’ll play Raphael. He’ll be coming off playing Gloss, the deadly dagger-wielding male tribute from District One in the upcoming The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Now, the original movie series put its actors in bulky turtle suits, but this one will be more like the performance capture in Avatar, making this a good role. The TMNT reboot is dated for a June 6, 2014 release after it was pushed back to cut the budget to around $125M. Ritchson is repped by UTA and manager Michael Yanni.
James Cameron and Fox today did not get their request for a total dismissal of Bryant Moore’s $2.5 billion lawsuit claiming that Avatar was stolen from his scripts. The defendants did get some legal traction when federal Judge Roger W. Titus granted a motion Monday to dismiss the breach of implied contract claim in Moore’s 2011 suit. However, he did not dismiss Moore’s copyright claims in the hearing in the Southern District of Maryland over the 3D blockbuster. The ruling means the jury trial-requested case will go forward, with discovery to occur next during the next four to six months.
Moore sued the director, his Lightstorm Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation on December 19, 2011. The writer claimed that copies of his Aquatica and Descendants: The Pollination screenplays made their way to Cameron in 1993 and 1994 through Lightstorm production assistants. Though Moore says he was eventually told the company did not accept the submissions, he found “striking substantial similarities” between his scripts and 2009’s Avatar. Cameron has said in court filings that he had Avatar mapped out in a detailed scriptment before any such materials by Moore were submitted to his company. Moore is seeking $1.5 billion in profits and another $1 billion in punitive damages.
EXCLUSIVE: Avatar‘s Stephen Lang has been tapped for a lead in ABC‘s drama pilot Reckless. Written by Chris Black and directed by Martin Campbell, the thriller centers on David (Patrick Fugit), a resourceful problem solver who, when his wife Sarah (Eloise Mumford) disappears during a violent military coup in East Myanmar, resorts to entering a world of political intrigue, dangerous alliances and high emotional stakes in order to get her out. Lang plays Sarah’s father Tom, who runs a top military manufacturing facility and uses his strong political connections to demand action when his beloved daughter disappears. Notoriously impossible to please, Tom has never fully embraced his son-in-law David as a member of the family. This marks Lang’s first series regular role since Fox’s Terra Nova. Innovative-repped Lang was among the most vocal supporters of the futuristic series, penning a passionate open letter following its cancellation by Fox.
FactoryMade Ventures, which with Robert Rodriguez co-owns Tres Pistoleros Studios and the soon-to-launch El Rey Network, has formed a joint venture with Lucha Libre AAA, the popular Mexican wrestling league. The plan is to re-imagine, operate and expand the league in the U.S. and other international territories on multiple platforms that at first will focus on live events and sponsorship, pay-per-view, scripted and non-scripted series, licensing and merchandise. It’s unclear but possible such an expansion would include a spot on El Ray, the new English-language U.S. cable channel backed and carried by Comcast that will launch January 1, 2014.
Founded in 1992 by its creator, Antonio Peña Herrada, Lucha Libre AAA is Mexico’s dominant wrestling league with an audience of 1 million for more than 1,000 live events per year and a reach of 52 million viewers on Spanish network Televisa. (It also was the basis for the 2006 comedy feature Nacho Libre starring Jack Black). The joint venture will hold exclusive licenses in all territories excluding Mexico to Lucha Libre intellectual property, which includes its brand, more than 250 characters, and its entertainment formats.