After 300: Rise Of An Empire had an opening week global gross of $136 million and resuscitated the franchise potential of a first film that ended with a bloody pile of 300 dead Spartans, the town is asking: who the heck is this Sullivan Stapleton, avenger of Spartans, scourge of Persians and the latest guy in town with a star look and a six-pack? And more importantly, when is he available to reinforce to Hollywood that he’s got the goods to become its next leading man?
I caught up with Stapleton as he was home in Melbourne, recuperating from a concussion suffered in Bangkok while he was there filming Strike Back, the Cinemax series he stars in with Philip Winchester. He has done barely any press. That knock on the head kept him from being able to fly, which knocked him out of the chance to do the tour for 300. A few things about Stapleton: he’s Australian, and like most of the actors who grew up in the business there before coming to these shores, he’s got a working class attitude and is not at all full of himself. When you speak to him, you call him Sully. He looks like an edgier version of Pierce Brosnan, and in an age where Hollywood continues to build franchises around young actors who’ve barely passed puberty, Stapleton is (gasp!) 36 years old and is the first new face to come along in the … Read More »
6th UPDATE, MONDAY 9:09 PM PT: Updated numbers for Best Picture Oscar winner 12 Years a Slave and Pompeii have been added below. 12 Years a Slave‘s cume internationally is now $104.5M and its worldwide total stands at $157.6M.
5TH UPDATE, MONDAY 12:20 PM PT: Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures’ 300: Rise Of An Empire is now tracking up 11% over the original 300 internationally. Revised numbers have just come in from Warner which says the movie took $88.8M in 58 markets. Some of the major territories were slightly down, but the overall cume was up. The Lego Movie was slightly lower than predicted at $9.6M on 5,585 screens, however the overall overseas cume is $135.4M, a small bolt off the originally estimated $135.6M. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug added a confirmed $7.5M internationally — down from the estimated $8M — and with $679.7M total; again, a breath away from the previously reported cume of $680M. As ever, numbers are updated in the territory sections below, with more to come as they roll in. Read More »
Nico Santos has joined the cast of the Kevin James sequel Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. He will play Brian, the sassy receptionist at a Las Vegas hotel. Santos is a frequent panelist on Chelsea Lately and a regular on Night Crew. He recently signed a talent holding deal with CBS after the network’s Diversity Showcase in January. He is repped by Greene & Associates, manager Bernie Spektor and attorney Gregg Gelman
Adam Pally and Rosa Salazar have been tapped to star in Night Owls, an indie dramedy from director Charles Hood. Pally plays as a workaholic who has a drunken one-night stand with a beautiful train wreck (Salazar) — who he discovers to his horror is his boss’ jilted ex-mistress. Pally is a regular on The Mindy Project and starred on Happy Endings. He appears in the upcoming feature comedy Search Party, as does Salazar, whose credits include Parenthood and American Horror Story. He is repped by CAA and 3 Arts; she is with Paradigm and Seven Summits Management.
Patrick Fischler has joined the cast of Warren Beatty’s untitled Howard Hughes project. He will play the director who is screen testing and casting Hughes’ love interest (Lily Collins). Martin Sheen was cast in the … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Hot off the debut of his most recent film at SXSW, the multihyphenate has booked his next acting gig. Jon Favreau will co-star in Universal‘s crime thriller Term Life, which stars Vince Vaughn as a thief who plans and sells heists to the highest bidder. He takes his estranged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) on the lam when a job goes bad. Hunted by mob bosses, contract killers and dirty cops, he takes out a life insurance policy on himself to leave something for his kid. One problem: It doesn’t take effect for 21 days. Production began March 1 on the pic, which Vaughn, Micah Mason Victoria Vaughn and Kevin Frakes are producing with Raj Brinder Singh exec producing. Peter Billingsley will direct from a screenplay by A.J. Lieberman, who created the original graphic novel with Nick Thornborrow. PalmStar Media Capital and Merced Media financed Term Life. Favreau most recently directed and stars in Chef, which bowed Friday at the Austin fest. His recent onscreen credits include The Wolf Of Wall Street, Iron Man 3, Identity Thief and People Like Us. He is repped by CAA and attorney Geoffrey Oblath.
Related: Universal’s ‘Term Life’ Adds Mike Epps, Jordi Molla, William Levy
Barry Sonnenfeld is poised to direct Fox‘s half-hour pilot Dead Boss, from WBTV and Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment. An adaptation of the BBC3 series, Dead Boss is a comedic mystery that finds overachiever Helen Stephens (Jane Krakowski) wrongfully convicted of murdering her boss and forced to rely on her train wreck of a sister (Justine Lupe) to prove her innocence. This marks a reunion for Sonnenfeld and Kaplan — Sonnenfeld directed former agent Kaplan’s first pilot as a producer, ABC comedy Funny In Farsi. The Man In Black helmer most recently directed the CBS’ Beverly Hills Cop pilot last season.
Actor-comedian Paul F. Tompkins (Comedy Bang! Bang!) will star opposite Molly Shannon in ABC’s single-camera comedy pilot from creator Brian Gallivan, Sony TV and Olive Bridge Prods. It centers on an overworked father (Tompkins) dreaming of being “on vacation all year” who decides to uproot his family from the city and move them to New Hampshire, where they open a group of tourist cottages but rarely, if ever, feel like they’re on vacation. Shannon plays his wife. Also cast in the pilot is Tessa Albertson as the couple’s older daughter. Repped by Innovative/MKSD.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
Strangers With Candy‘s Amy Sedaris will co-star opposite Jane Krakowski in Fox‘s half-hour pilot Dead Boss, from WBTV and Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment. An adaptation of the BBC3 series, Dead Boss is a comedic mystery that finds overachiever Helen Stephens (Krakowski) wrongfully convicted of murdering her boss and forced to rely on her train wreck of a sister to prove her innocence. Sedaris plays Mary, one of Helen’s nosy, fault-finding co-workers and the gatekeeper to their boss who secretly loved the man and openly hated Helen.
Related: 2014 Fox Pilots
The premiere of CNN’s new Chicagoland didn’t get totally whacked last night but it certainly didn’t make a ratings killing either – in fact it came a distant third in terms of total viewership compared to its cable news time slot rivals. The 10 PM debut Thursday of the cable news network’s heavily promoted 8-part documentary series drew 227,000 viewers among adults 25-54 with 629,000 total viewers. That was a drop in total viewership of 7% from the 673,000 that the second hour of CNN’s much less hyped And The Oscar Goes To… documentary pulled in on February 27. That also leaves Chicagoland in third place behind the 1.43 million total viewers who watched Fox News Channel’s Hannity and the 816,000 who tuned into MSNBC’s Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell.
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In terms of the key news demo, Chicagoland was up 58% from the weak 144,000 viewers who watched the Oscars docu in the same time slot last week. Yes, that’s up just over 100% from the limbo low 113,000 viewers among the 25-54s that CNN has averaged on the previous four Thursdays in the time slot. However even with the full marketing efforts of CNN both on and off-air, Chicagoland was not that much ahead of the 207,000 among the 25-54s that MSNBC got last night with The Last Word– a show that was … Read More »
TBS has picked up a 10-episode second season of multi-camera comedy Ground Floor, created by Bill Lawrence and Greg Malins and starring Skylar Astin and Briga Heelan. The renewal extends TBS’ streak of renewing its freshman series, which includes sitcoms Men at Work and Sullivan & Son and reality comedy King of the Nerds. Ground Floor started off lower than the other two scripted comedies, drawing 1.6 million viewers for its premiere vs. 2.7 million for for Men at Work and 2.5 million for Sullivan & Son. But Ground Floor launched against much stronger competition during the November sweep; it has been pretty consistent, and TBS brass believe in its upside potential. Ground Floor finished its first season with an average of 1.8 million viewers in Live + 7 delivery, including 1.1 million adults 18-49 and 575,000 adults 18-34. The renewal keeps Lawrence and Malins with two projects each at TBS. Lawrence has series Cougar Town, while Malins has pilot Your Family or Mine. Read More »
Former Warner Bros executive Jeff Robinov is said to be talking to a number of investors to finance a new production company that could be set up most likely at Sony Pictures, and if a deal can’t be made there possibly 20th Century Fox. Despite rumors and reports swirling about done deals with the likes of China’s Huayi Brothers Media, we’re hearing that nothing has been set in stone in his quest to raise $100 million in funds. There are many moving parts, we’ve been told, and talks with numerous other investors are ongoing, and any combination of investors is possible. One rumored financier that is out at the moment is Ukrainian-born billionaire Len Blavatnik, who had been in talks to provide the bulk of an investment for the new shingle. The crisis in Ukraine might have played a part in the cooling off of those talks. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Safe House helmer Daniel Espinosa is in talks with Warner Bros to develop to direct Blood On Snow, which Leonardo DiCaprio is eyeing as a potential star vehicle. This is a two-book series that Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbo has written under the pseudonym Tom Johansson. The books, which Knopf will publish in two installments this fall and the following spring, will be produced by Kevin McCormick’s Langley Park (which is bringing Charlie And The Chocolate Factory to Broadway) and DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran’s Appian Way, which is coming off Best Picture nominee The Wolf Of Wall Street.
They will now go out to scribes to draft the tale of a hit man who’s forced to go into hiding after he fails on a job and finds himself on the run with his intended target, who unfortunately happens to be his boss’s wife. Landing Espinosa is a coup. He’s coming off Child 44 for Summit, the adaptation of the Soviet serial killer tale that stars Tom Hardy, Joel Kinnaman, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke. Espinosa is repped by UTA and Magnolia Entertainment. Jon Berg and Cate Adams are steering the project for Warner Bros.
While California Gov. Jerry Brown is still “not committed” to expanding the state’s film and TV tax credit, Los Angeles is seeing another drop in broadcast pilot production to what appears to be an all-time low. Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been doing photo ops with Disney and Marvel execs to celebrate their commitment to film some 60 episodes of Marvel’s four Netflix series and a miniseries in the Big Apple. And now New York, which also lured The Tonight Show franchise away from Los Angeles, has more reasons to celebrate after another very strong pilot performance, returning this year to the top as the most popular drama location and reinforcing its strong position in comedy.
A record 15 broadcast pilots will be filming in New York this year, including 10 — almost a third — of the 34 drama pilot/direct-to-series projects filming within the regular cycle that have set their locations (two remain TBD). That is up from 13 total and eight dramas last year and just shy of the city’s all-time drama record of 11 in 2012. (Keep in mind that the number of NY-based was zero just four years ago, before the state implemented its aggressive tax break program.) New York is chipping away at Los Angeles’ comedy dominance. LA used to own the comedy space, with virtually every pilot filming here. Just two years ago, it housed 100% of the broadcast comedy pilots. The percentage dropped to 89% last year and is at 85% (39 out of 46) this season. New York made a big move in the arena in 2013 after seven years of no major broadcast comedy pilot presence there. A whopping five broadcast half-hour pilots were filmed in the city last year, including straight-to-series The Michael J. Fox Show. Proving that that wasn’t a fluke, New York matched its comedy haul this year with another five pilots, including NBC’s straight-to-series Tooken. Like last year, all five are single-camera. What’s more, a hybrid comedy, How I Met Your Dad, which is filming the pilot in Los Angeles, will move to New York if it goes to pilot. In most cases, the NY location is talent-driven (Irreversible star David Schwimmer, Dead Boss‘ Jane Krakowski, How I Met Your Dad star Greta Gerwig, Lowell and Gaffigan are all based in NY). But studios wouldn’t have been as open to setting shop in New York had the tax incentives not been strong enough to rein in production costs on comedies, especially the expensive single-camera format, which are still higher than a Los Angeles-based half-hour pilot but not by much. One drawback of comedy series filming in New York has been the shortage of writing talent as broadcast shows have to compete with such cable comedies as Louie and Girls, but with New York-based comedy production appearing to be here to stay, more writing talent may relocate there to support them.
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Coming off HBO’s Treme, Rob Brown has joined NBC’s drama pilot Salvation. In the project, written by Elizabeth Heldens and directed by Jeffrey Reiner, mega-church Pastor Daniel Strickland suddenly dies, and his loyal wife, Jennifer Strickland (Ashley Judd), must rally to keep their family together and save the church. Brown, repped by WME, Industry Entertainment and Jeff Endlich, will play Miles Strickland, the adopted son of Jennifer and Daniel Strickland who returns home after a 6-year absence out of a sense of loyalty to the family but does not share in their beliefs. He most recently seen in Joseph Gordon Levitt’s directorial debut Don Jon.
Related: 2014 NBC Pilots
Drew Powell has been cast in a guest starring/recurring role in Fox‘s Batman prequel drama Gotham, which has a series commitment. Based on DC characters from the Batman universe, Gotham explores the origin stories of Commissioner James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) as an idealistic rookie detective in Gotham City, along with Bruce Wayne and the villains who made Gotham City famous. Powell, repped by Stone Manners Salners and Billy Miller Management, will play Butch Gilzean, the deceptively clever and ambitious second-in-command to sadistic gangster boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith).
Related: 2014 Fox Pilots
Justine Lupe and Ravi Patel are set to co-star opposite Jane Krakowski in Fox‘s half-hour pilot Dead Boss, from WBTV and Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment. An adaptation of the BBC3 series created by Sharon Horgan and Holly Walsh, Dead Boss is a comedic mystery that finds overachiever Helen Stephens (Krakowski) wrongfully convicted of murdering her boss and forced to rely on her train wreck of a sister to prove her innocence. Lupe, repped by Gersh and Authentic, plays Laura, Helen’s well-intentioned sister who moves into Helen’s condo, takes over Helen’s job and finds herself starting to enjoy living Helen’s life. Patel, repped by Seven Summits, TalentWorks and Gregg Gellman, plays Henry, one of Helen’s co-workers who loves and is obsessed with her and is devastated when Helen receives a guilty verdict.
Related: 2014 Fox Pilots
Tara Holt has joined the final season of Showtime’s Californication in a recurring role. In it, Hank (David Duchovny) is joining the writers room as his never-released film Santa Monica Cop now becomes a TV series. He’s riled frequently by his boss, the show’s old-school executive producer Rick Rath (recurring Michael Imperioli). Holt, repped by Nancy Chaidez & Associates and Untitled, will play Melanie, Rath’s gorgeous assistant whose presence causes a commotion in the writers room. Read More »
UPDATE, 12:04 PM: By Warner Bros jumping aboard the high-profile Johnny Depp-Joel Edgerton pic Black Mass, it means the studio won’t be taking on another Whitey Bulger project in its own backyard: the one that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon had been developing for a couple of years as a starring vehicle for Damon via their Warners-based Pearl Street Films. I’m hearing that Affleck and Damon were given a day or two advance notice that the studio was putting its eggs in the Black Mass basket, but that news came just a day before the latest rewrite was turned in by Aaron Stockard, who worked with Affleck on The Town and Gone Baby Gone and who rewrote the script by Oscar nominated The Wolf Of Wall Street scribe Terence Winter. There was much enthusiasm, then radio silence, and then…Naturally there are bruised feelings that Warners will have to repair with two of its most valuable players, as this was the first project pitched for Affleck to direct and Damon to star after Pearl Street inked its overall deal there, and I’m told the studio assured the pair it wanted to make their movie.
This is all a part of the big rough and tumble game of studios needing to fill slates, and clearly someone was going to come out first with a Bulger biopic. But there are plenty of reasons to smooth any ruffles here. Affleck is directing and starring in Warner Bros’ Live By Night, an epic period crime drama that he adapted from the best-selling novel by Dennis Lehane, author of Affleck’s first directorial outing Gone Baby Gone. It’s the follow-up to the Best Picture Oscar winner Argo he made for the studio. He also is playing Batman in Warner Bros’ Batman Vs. Superman. Read More »
Son Of God from Fox so far is the surprise of the weekend, taking in a phenom $1.2M Thursday in late-night shows that began at 10 PM. Universal’s Non-Stop also did bang-up business beginning with 8 PM shows and a total of 720K, according to estimates, as the actioner starring Liam Neeson right now is also playing strong. Two distributors compared Non-Stop‘s opening to that of Olympus Has Fallen, which went onto gross $161M+ worldwide ($99M of it in the U.S.) and that opening was $500,000. So right now Non-Stop is playing above that.
Son Of God still could end up anywhere on the box office top 10, depending how it does this weekend, but if last night is any indication, it could push right up the aisle past Non-Stop. Distributors and those who track the films for a living cannot predict what this picture will gross in its three-day. Reality TV king Mark Burnett, who is producing the picture and is doing a heck of a job garnering publicity with his exec producer Roma Downey, already helped drum up $4.5M in pre-sold tickets — that includes a tremendous amount of group sales from a Colorado-based company called Compassion International which is buying up tickets and giving away parishoners to churches in 40 U.S. cities. “It’s an excellent start and it looks as though Mark and Roma’s sincere grass-roots marketing efforts have ignited and motivated audiences across the country to see Son Of God,” Fox domestic distribution boss Chris Aronson said.
Related: Hot Trailer: Fox’s ‘Son Of God’
The moviegoers that come to see this particular genre aren’t frequent moviegoers so they are traditionally hard to track. To that point, only 30% of 1,000 people buying tickets for Son Of God have seen Frozen and only 28% have seen Gravity — two of the biggest box office hits today. However, at the same time, Fandango also found that 94% Son Of God ticket buyers want to see more Biblical stories made into motion pictures and 76% plan to see Paramount’s Noah starring Russell Crowe and 83% are interested in seeing TriStar/Screen Gems’ Heaven Is For Real (Greg Kinnear). The latter is based on the book that wouldn’t leave the New York Times bestseller’s list. Roughly the same percentage — 82% — are interested in seeing Fox’s Exodus starring Christian Bale. So Son Of God is going to give the studios — especially Fox — a lot of propriety information moving forward on marketing Exodus.
Paramount is also enlisting help from religious entities for their marketing materials. The National Religious Broadcasters and Paramount said last night that they made the joint decision to add an explanatory message to future marketing materials for Noah. Specicially, marketing materials will state: “The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.” Studios are listening to the faith-based organizations and what works and what doesn’t. Read More »