Peter Jackson is coming to the end of a stay in JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth that has dominated a quarter of the 53-year old director’s life, right into middle age. The result: three Lord Of The Ring films and two installments of The Hobbit that grossed $4.89 billion in worldwide box office. By the time The Battle Of The Five Armies finale plays out, Jackson’s six films may reached $6 billion, and better the current hardware haul of 17 Oscars including Best Picture for Return Of The King, and 35 other noms. Unless James Cameron has something to say about it with his new Avatar trilogy, we may never see anything again in our lives to match Jackson’s cinematic accomplishment, done with the same creative team. If he’s feeling the weight of that, he wore it well at Comic-Con. Mostly, he battled jet lag after the long trip to San Diego from New Zealand, where the last film waits for him to finish. He’s tired enough when I enter his hotel room that he suggests I get in bed next to where he’s resting. Then he thinks better, unsure he can stay awake unless upright. I tell him I had the same problem the night before at a very funny live Chris Hardwick-hosted game show my son was desperate to see, only to nudge me again and again for snoring too loud. Our chat started with middle age sleep apnea and moved to Middle Earth, how close The Beatles came …
Q&A: Peter Jackson On His Middle Earth Exit, How The Beatles And Stanley Kubrick Nearly Did LOTR, And A Disguise That Let Him Haunt Comic-Con
UPDATE: Intl Box Office: ‘Apes’ Dawns In Latin America; ‘Godzilla’ Stomps Japan; ‘Hercules’ Has Muscle; Big Action In Asia; ‘Kick’ Hits India; More
2ND UPDATE, 5:10 PM PT: While Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Transformers: Age Of Extinction, newcomer Hercules, and How To Train Your Dragon 2 led the international charge for the studios this weekend, there was local action in Asia. The Continent, a feature directorial debut from author/rally car driver/blogger Han Han, had a $45M cume after opening Thursday. That bested the 2nd frames of The House That Never Dies ($8.7M weekend, $48.5M cume) and Tiny Times 3 ($7.2M weekend, $73.5M cume). Also in China, TAOE added $5.4M to pass $300M with a $301M cume. Its worldwide total is now $966.35M, and with Japan and Spain to come on August 8, that’s the weekend to expect it to tumble over $1B. In Korea, period action film Kundo: Age Of The Rampant made good on its buzz and earned $20.1M. Elsewhere, we’re still waiting on official numbers for Salman Khan’s Kick as it rolled out to several international markets. At home in India, it’s understood to have had the best opening day of the year at about $4.4M.
Among the Top Ten studio releases internationally, there was a 34% drop from last weekend when TAOE added $84.6M and Apes brought in $61.9M as the top grossers. This frame was down 17% compared to the same one last year that saw …
“For me it is very important for this show to have Latin characters and Mexican characters that defy the stereotype of gang bangers,” said Guillermo del Toro today at Comic-Con about his series The Strain.
In what was a wide-ranging panel discussion of the new show, the Mexican-born director wasted no time revealing to a packed Hall H his specific intentions for the characters of the vampire series. “I want Gus to become not only complex character but a full-fledged hero who will kick some ass,” del Toro said of the just out of juvie Augustin “Gus” Elizalde role played by Miguel Gomez. The director also noted that the sense of cultural difference was part of the casting of Mia Maestro and the Dr. Nora Martinez character she plays. “Her being a Latin women and me being a Latin man, we are very aware of otherness and I thought she could be a good counterpoint to Eph’s (Corey Stoll’s Dr. Ephraim Goodweather) scientific method “God willing next season, we have a masked Mexican wrestler to also kick ass” del Toro added to big laughs.
The vivid and highly stylized The Strain chronicles the NYC head of the Centers for Disease Control Canary Team Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, played by Stoll as he, fellow scientists and others try to figure out a mysterious viral outbreak that seems to have arrived in America via a European-originated plane of seemingly dead passengers. …
UPDATE 3, 2:45 PM, Sunday: We’ve added at the end of this story several snippets of video posted on YouTube during and just after the incident. They provide some additional sense of the chaos around the event, and give a somewhat better idea of what happened. They are far from definitive, however, and the rest will await the police investigation.
UPDATE 2, 1:15 PM, Sunday: And a little more. The organizers of the ZombieWalk officially declined comment regarding the Saturday evening incident, as the the event was breaking up, between the costumed crowd of participants and a car filled with a deaf family, an incident that left a 64-year-old woman hospitalized with serious but non-life-threatening injuries including a possible broken arm. We’ll continue to update as we get more.
UPDATE 1, Noon, Sunday: A little more information, very little, and a lot of heated reaction, are coming out this morning after last night’s incident at the end of the annual San Diego ZombieWalk, when a car with a deaf family in it hit and possibly broke the arm of a woman at the end of the event and a crowd of other ZombieWalkers in costume began beating on the car, panicking the family.
Is there a better Comic-Con closing act than Quentin Tarantino? He’s here today to launch a Django Unchained comic book sequel, but I’m sure the crowd will prod him for details on his next movie, and you never know what you’ll hear when you put a microphone in front of Tarantino and ask the right question, or any question, really.
Here’s what I’m hearing, that he’s locking in everyone from cast to producers for an early 2015 shoot on The Hateful Eight, the Western which has had perhaps the most unusual journey to the start gate for a Tarantino film. That goes back to last January when he revealed to Deadline that he would shelve the movie because he felt so betrayed it got leaked by a rep for one of the handful of actors he showed an un-watermarked first draft script to. At the time, I spent half our phone call trying to talk Tarantino into not shelving it. After watching Inglourious Basterds for the umpteenth time last night, I’m sure glad his creative instincts overtook his feelings of betrayal.
Comic-Con: Last ‘Sons Of Anarchy” Panel Talks Prequel, Previews Final Season, Amid Emotions For Kurt Sutter, Cast
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.”
Bold debuts from two of the weekend’s openers in a crowded specialty box office included yet another Woody Allen film as well as a last starring turn from the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight was another solid opener in a string of recent successes for the veteran writer-director, with a good per-screen average. That said, the numbers were less stratospheric than some of his recent summer films when comparing on a straight theater average, though this go-around did bow in substantially more locations.
Magic is Allen’s third consecutive summer release (and seventh if you count the ”shoulder” seasons). The formula continues to be a lucrative one for Allen and his backers. In its opening weekend, Magic brought in nearly $426K in 17 theaters, for a solid $25K PTA. The film, starring Colin Firth and Emma Stone, bowed with 11 more runs than last year’s box-office and award-winning behemoth Blue Jasmine (the best performer of Allen’s very long career), which debuted to a $102K PTA in 6 theaters. That film also had a $612K opening weekend and went on to cume over $33.4M.
Bart: You’ve been hanging at the epicenter of pitchdom all week at San Diego Comic-Con so you have watched the masters at work (also the loser geeks). But my thoughts this week were focused on a different generation of marketing mavens — those of Jeff Blake’s generation. Blake was “let go” this week after serving as Sony’s king of marketing and distribution for a couple of decades. Another of his generation, Dan Fellman of Warners, also is set for the sidelines. These were not the Comic-Con types — they were thoughtful pros who knew how to set strategy, pick dates — and tactfully tell filmmakers when their movies were dead on arrival. They didn’t bulls*** about social marketing like their young cohorts. One studio chief told me recently that all social marketing represents is a road map for spending less money while still failing to find an audience. The Comic-Con-crowd would likely disagree.
Fleming: This is the movie business in Moneyball mode. We are seeing a profound change of the studio guard as they figure out how to tap a completely new generation that’s easily distracted by video games, social media and TV binge watching. Social media allows them to …
13th and 14th UPDATES, Sunday, 6:30 AM and 8 AM: As the industry waits for next weekend’s Guardians of the Galaxy to lift the summer box office blues (it will start next Thursday at 7 PM), this weekend is wrapping up: Lucy will end the 3-day with $44M for Universal, director Luc Besson and our new solo, female action star Scarlett Johansson. On a budget of what the studio claims to be $40M, this picture should turn a profit with international yet to weigh in (it doesn’t open until next weekend) and Johansson already an known entity overseas from all the Marvel movies she’s been in. Now, if Sunday moviegoing drops more than 20%, Lucy will come in around $43.5M for its debut weekend. Its second weekend could dive, given the mixed reviews and the C+ CinemaScore it received Friday night.
This weekend continues to be down around 14% from last year at this time, and overall moviegoing is off about 6% from 2013′s record-breaking box office year and what was the all-time highest summer (with a total of $2.753B from the beginning of May through Sept. 2). So far, May 2nd to July 27th 2014 is $2.930B compared to last year’s $3.674B year’s for the same period. Now, if you bring the April bow of Captain America: The Winter Soldier into the mix, moviegoing is off 14%. No wonder everyone is waiting with baited breath for the debut of Disney/Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy which could lift the box office about 15% to 20% next weekend up over the equivalent weekend in 2013. It’s tracking for a $65M to $75M opening but veteran distributors think it could go to $80M.
Universal weighed at 8 AM that Lucy the fifth No. 1 opener for the studio this year and Johansson’s top opener where she was the lead in a film. That’s fair. It did equally well among genders (literally a 50/50 split). Lucy also marks the 2nd biggest weekend ever for a French-produced film (it is from Besson’s EuropaCorp.) behind only Taken 2 which grossed $49M in its opening weekend (EuropaCorp./Canal +). Among the Top Ten French produced films, EuropaCorp. now has seven of those. Well done.
The unsung hero for Lucy? It would be Peter Cramer, co-president of production for the studio, who really championed this project, was instrumental in bringing it into the fray, and oversaw the production on behalf of Universal.
Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller returned to Comic-Con with Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, the next month’s sequel to their 2005 graphic novel-based groundbreaker — and already began stumping for a threequel. “Robert and I are already talking about Sin City 3. so you’d better show up to 2,” Miller told the Hall H crowd, with most fans waiting for today’s late-afternoon Marvel presentation.
Not that Comic-Con doesn’t love Sin City. Con-goers first glimpsed the pair’s first film a decade ago. By now they’ve been hearing Rodriguez and Miller talk up their DIY greenscreen process for years. While nobody lost their geek marbles over Saturday’s subdued panel conversation with Rodriguez, Miller, and stars Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, and Rosario Dawson, it wasn’t until they screened new dazzling footage from the film’s opening sequence and a “montage” teaser reel that Hall H-ers woke up.
The original Sin City won the Technical Grand Prize from Cannes when it screened there in 2005, and in the nine years since Rodriguez and Miller have added more crispness to the series’ black-and-white comic book aesthetic. They screened an opening sequence tracking the bloody shenanigans of returning character Marv (Mickey Rourke) …
Comic-Con: ‘Boxtrolls’ Producer Travis Knight Gives Shout-Out To Tracy Morgan; Urges DIY Attitude On Filmmaking
UPDATES THROUGHOUT: Boxtrolls producer Travis Knight gave an update on cast member Tracy Morgan during the Focus Features panel for the pic today at Comic-Con. Morgan was seriously injured in a June crash that killed his mentor, comedian James McNair, in New Jersey. “Thankfully he’s home with his family now and recovering… I’ve come down to Comic-Con for five years and not found a family as loving, kind and generous as the Comic-Con family,” he said. Knight and the cast and crew of Boxtrolls led the 6,500 strong Hall H audience in a round of “We love you Tracy” cheers, filming the moment to send to Morgan back home.
The Laika stop motion animation pic has been ten years in the making, but comes after the Portland-based studio’s first two feature hits. Development began before the studio’s Coraline (2009) and ParaNorman (2012) on the tale of a young boy named Eggs who’s raised by a family of underground-dwelling trash-collecting creatures known as the Boxtrolls.
Game Of Thrones‘ Isaac Hempstead-Wright voices Eggs, and got a huge response from fans as he took the stage just a day after the HBO series packed Hall H with its own panel. Elle Fanning and Ben Kingsley also “star” and joined Hempstead-Wright, Knight, and co-directors Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable to present charming footage from the September 26 release. Laika has created a richly detailed world inspired by works of “Roald Dahl, bits of Monty Python, and Charles Dickens,” according to Knight.
The Blacklist star James Spader may have been snubbed for an Emmy nomination this year, but he got a lot of love today from the Comic-Con crowd. The actor drew a roar from the more than 1,000 fans in the packed room 6A of the San Diego Convention Center. “It’s been quite a journey, this craziness — and the craziness really started last year right here at Comic-Con,” Spader said after the applause died down. Then again, one year after his debut at the confab and with a breakout show success in the crime drama, the man who plays former super-fugitive Raymond Reddington is a geekfest multitasker this time round thanks to his part as the primary villain in next year’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron pic – which got a big cheer when Spader mentioned his work on the Marvel movie.
Not that the panel didn’t cut to the Blacklist chase. There was a big casting announcement with the revelation that Mary-Louise Parker would be joining the NBC series in Season 2 in a recurring role as a character named Naomi Highland. EP/creator Jon Bokenkamp didn’t reveal any more details of the former Weeds star’s Blacklist involvement, but he described the character as “completely tied to Reddington.”
Then there is the question of relationships on a show all about unknown relationships. “The question of who is Reddington to Elizabeth Keen is the central conceit to the show,: responded Bokenkamp to questions of whether Reddington is the rookie FBI agent’s father, “but we’re really not going to answer that.” From burn marks to pocket photos and the secrets of a dying man, the May 12 Season 1 finale set up a lot for the show’s return – especially about who Reddington really is and what his relationship with Keen might be. Spader himself had some thoughts on the big question. “The real relationship is their present relationship,” the lead actor said. “Destinations aren’t enough. The ultimate answer should be that looking backwards.”
George Miller blazed through Hall H with footage from Mad Max: Fury Road, which isn’t exactly a sequel or a prequel but feels very Mad Max through and through. “I was able to make the movie I wanted to make,” he told the standing-room-only Comic-Con crowd. “WB allows the filmmakers their process.”
It’s been 35 years since the Aussie filmmaker started the franchise with Mel Gibson as the iconic post-apocalyptic road warrior, the cult fave who last hit screens in 1985′s threequel Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. (One big difference in shooting the first movie and shooting this one? “It took over a week before we saw our dailies – now you see it immediately.”) Fury Road is led by Tom Hardy as loner Mad Max Rockatansky and Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa, and Miller said it lies closer in spirit to the second film.
UPDATE: Miller also unveiled four new official posters for the pic featuring stars Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult and Hugh Keays-Byrne:
There are tears ahead in Peter Jackson‘s third and final Hobbit flick, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies. “There’s a lot of sadness and tragedy,” he told the Comic-Con crowd. “It’s always great when you can kill off some main characters.” The good news for Lord Of The Rings and Hobbit fans? There’s more footage Jackson might pack into a new extended version of his LOTR franchise.
“There are a few scenes that haven’t been seen from Lord Of The Rings, but not many. We might try to put them back in,” he said, although he said obstacles will make it difficult to get to his seven million feet of footage locked away in a WB vault. “It’s a big logistical thing which haven’t wrapped our heads around. But if there’s enough interest…”
Jackson and his Hobbit cast return this December with Battle Of The Five Armies, which sees the Hobbit films move toward more somber territory in alignment with the LOTR pics. “It’s not as comical as the first Hobbit movie and they’re progressively getting to tone of Fellowship Of The Ring,” said Jackson. He’s still in production on the pic’s CG-heavy war action sequences but brought a stirring, battle-heavy teaser that played twice for the Comic-Con crowd.
Similar to 20th Century Fox TV‘s Bones Comic-Con presentation, the Family Guy creators and cast also revealed a number of storylines for its upcoming season. In no particular order, Meg (Mila Kunis) becomes a foot-fetish model, Stewie is impregnated with Brian’s baby, Jesus returns in the Christmas episode and “the guys help him get laid,” said executive producer Steve Callaghan. And as discussed at TCA, there’s the episode where Peter tries to kick Liam Neeson’s ass. Other guests stars in addition to Neeson this season include Allison Janney, Julie Bowen, Lea Thompson and Jeff Garlin.
Related: Fox Announces Fall Premiere Dates
The toon’s director and producer Peter Shin confirmed that there’s a looming feature film of Family Guy, but it’s currently on hold while creator Seth MacFarlane directs Ted 2. Said Shin, ”We started some work on one a while ago, but it’s been put on hold. It might move forward in the future.” Callaghan mentioned that the upcoming September 28 The Simpsons Guy is much in the vein of a film. MacFarlane would also like to do a Star Trek parody much in the same way Family Guy did a send-up of Star Wars: A New Hope with its sixth season premiere Blue Harvest. Airdate TBD.
A nice button during the Q&A included Simpsons creator Matt Groening taking the mike and asking, ‘Hey guys, what advice can you give a young, struggling animator? Please if you …
Legendary Entertainment packed its film panel today with plenty of monsters (Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah), but a small teaser at the end of the Hall H event today glimpsed an unexpected one: King Kong. It was Legendary’s way of unveiling that it will be making a feature film based on King Kong’s home Skull Island. That film will be released November 4, 2016. The teaser video did the trick, showing first person POV soaring over dark and stormy seas into an island — Skull Island — where King Kong stands tall and roars.
From the studio’s post-panel release: “Previous works have touched on the island, but staying and exploring this mysterious and dangerous place offers Legendary the opportunity to take audiences deeper inside this rich world with a style and scope that parallels other Legendary productions.”
It wasn’t an A-list star or surprise announcement that scored the biggest reaction during Fox‘s mammoth Comic-Con panel — it was rapper Biz Markie, who joined producer Guillermo del Toro‘s Book Of Life gang onstage belting his 1989 anthem “Just A Friend” in a moment of random pop culture mishmash. The song is covered in the 3D animated feature from director Jorge Gutierrez, a dazzlingly designed romantic adventure inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday and produced by Reel FX that Fox will open on October 17.
The original story follows Manolo (Diego Luna), who must fight for his lady love when spirits La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (Ron Perlman) meddle in the world of the living. A trailer introduced to the Hall H crowd gave fans their first taste of Book, filled with Latin-inspired designs, a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” sung by lovesick matador Manolo, and the voice work of Ice Cube dropping his wink-wink line, “Today was a good day.”
The Day of the Dead holiday, celebrated around the world, served as a springboard for award-winning animator Gutierrez to fold in many elements of his Mexican heritage. “The Day of the Dead is very near and dear to my heart,” he said. “Got married on the Day of the Dead because I wanted my best friend who passed away to be my best man, and I knew he would be there. The core belief of the holiday is that as long as we tell stories of those came before us, sing their songs, and cook their dishes, they’re with us.”
Comic-Con: ‘Babylon 5′s J. Michael Straczynski Teams With Graphic India, Chernin On ‘Titans’ Feature
Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski and digital company Graphic India have joined with Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes‘ Chernin Entertainment to turn Straczynski’s upcoming graphic novel Titans into a feature. Straczynski, whose credits include Thor, World War Z and Sense8, will write the script and produce through his Studio JMS banner. The logline: When ships from an unknown world crash-land around Earth, the Titans on board — massive entities with no memory of where they came from or where they were going — bond telepathically with the ordinary humans who encounter them. The story follows the Titans and their humans over a decade as the world tries to use them for their own purposes. Some want military superiority, others peace; some want to build cities, others to destroy them. The result is great hope and terrible wars. Chernin Entertainment will produce with Graphic India, the joint venture that Chernin formed with Liquid Comics and CA Media LP, Chernin’s Asian investment arm. Sharad Devarajan and Gotham Chopra of Graphic India and Liquid Comics also will serve producing roles.
Said Straczynski: “In an increasingly international marketplace, Titans represents the kind of multinational storytelling that will play an ever more important role in both film and publishing. Sharad Devarajan and Gotham Chopra have been extremely supportive of this story, and Peter Chernin is exactly the right person to shepherd this into a successful film franchise.”
EXCLUSIVE: Don’t expect Patrick Wilson, Matt Gerald and Kevin Weisman to be at tomorrow’s Marvel Studios Hall H presentation at Comic-Con. That trio has dropped out of the ever-morphing Ant-Man movie that has Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas and The Hobbit‘s Evangeline Lilly starring. The movie has been in some state of flux after director Edgar Wright dropped out over differences in creative vision with Marvel’s Kevin Feige, so not surprisingly there is speculation that the trio’s exit is for the same reason that Wright departed and was replaced by Peyton Reed. Marvel insiders adamantly dispute that.
We’re told by insiders that Gerald and Weisman’s characters were omitted in the newly evolved version of the script. Wilson, on the other hand, had a scheduling conflict as production on the movie got delayed, and that is why he won’t be there. Lilly is at Comic-Con to tour a children’s book and Peter Jackson’s final Hobbit installment, The Battle Of The Five Armies. We wouldn’t be surprised to see her at the Marvel panel along with Rudd, Douglas and Reed. Feige always pulls out the stops on Comic-Con, so we expect star-studded updates on Avengers: Age Of Ultron and some vamping on the imminent release Guardians Of The Galaxy. Feige is always good for a few …