Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Fading Gigolo’, ‘The Final Member’, ‘Cesar’s Last Fast’, ‘That Demon Within’, ‘Tasting Menu’, ‘Small Time’

By | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 6:05pm PDT

boxoffice-specialty__111212022432-200x150 (1)After making a mega-splash at the box office last year, Woody Allen gets some time in front of the camera with John Turturro‘s comedy Fading Gigolo, which he also stars in along with Sharon Stone. Millennium Entertainment will open the title in limited release. Two docs are among this weekend’s crop of new Specialty releases, including Sundance title Cesar’s Last Fast as well as penis documentary The Final Member from Drafthouse Films. China Lion is opening action-crime feature That Demon Within, which co-stars Nick Cheung who recently won Best Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards for his role in Unbeatable. Magnolia is rolling out Tasting Menu, hoping to re-create a recipe of lofty box office returns from its previously released food-oriented fare. And Anchor Bay will open Small Time from first time filmmaker Joel Surnow in just over a dozen locations.

Fading Gigologigolo
Director-writer: John Turturro
Cast: John Turturro, Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Vanessa Paradis, Liev Schreiber
Distributor: Millennium Entertainment

John Turturro directed Woody Allen’s one-act play Honeymoon Hotel in 2011. “I was thinking it would be interested to do something with Woody, but I didn’t know if we’d have chemistry,” said Turturro about the beginnings of what would become Fading Gigolo. The comedy centers on Fioravante who decides to become a Don Juan as a way of making money for his cash-strapped friend, Murray. The pair wind up in the sex business. “I didn’t know how I’d approach it but we exchanged notes,” said Turturro. “I did research on living that kind of life and on the Hasidic community. I wanted to make a human comedy and [Woody Allen] encouraged me to take that route.” Read More »

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OSCARS: Paramount Courts Academy Voters For ‘Noah’ And It’s Only April!

By | Wednesday April 16, 2014 @ 3:51pm PDT
Pete Hammond

Are you kidding?

Did Paramount just officially start the 2014 Oscar campaign even as we are barely getting the Emmys off the ground and theRussell Crowe as Noah Tonys are two months away? Uh, yes. Looks like it. One top studio exec (not from Paramount) forwarded me an email he got yesterday from the Paramount Awards Office that pronounced free admission starting April 15th - two by two for Academy members and a guest- to screenings of Noah at theaters nationwide – but only Monday thru Thursday since most theater owners usually don’t like to give up seats on the weekends, especially to rich and famous movie types.

Related: Can ‘Noah’ And ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ Overcome Oscar’s Greatest Curse: A March Release Date?
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Film Business Is Recovering, But It Won’t Be Steady: Analysts

By | Monday April 7, 2014 @ 8:56am EDT

Wall Street usually shows little love for the movie business with its typically low, and unpredictable, profit margins. Movie MoneyBut in a combined look at the studio and exhibition businesses this morning, MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson and Robert Fishman tell investors that it’s time to take a fresh look — as long as they proceed with caution. They lowered profit estimates for major exhibition chains Regal and Cinemark, citing expectations for weaker domestic summer box office results vs 2013. They project a full-year decline of 1.6% to $10.7B followed by a 5% jump in 2015 to $11.3B and then a drop of 2.6% in 2016 to $11.0B. The analysts appeared more upbeat about the studios. “After several terrible years post the popping of the DVD bubble, we believe the film industry is showing signs of health,” they say. “The combination of fewer releases, greater international focus and lower overhead expenses are all driving studio margins ahead of pre-recession levels. These results show that a good crisis wasn’t wasted in Hollywood.” Revenues fell over the last few years at the big four film studios (Warner Bros, Disney, Fox, and Paramount) as they reduced their output. Yet cash flow margins improved to a little under 12% which is “a tribute to their ability to curb bloated studio expenses.” Read More »

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CinemaCon: Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition Agrees To Buy Satellite Competitor Deluxe/EchoStar

DCDCNo word yet on how much the exhibition- and studio-backed satellite distribution group is paying for Deluxe/EchoStar. But the letter of intent announced today will add about 1,000 theaters to DCDC‘s footprint, including many owned by Marcus Theaters and Harkins Theaters. “This important agreement creates clarity in the marketplace,” DCDC CEO Randy Blotky says. CinemaCon2014_badge“It clarifies the roles of DCDC and Deluxe/EchoStar for their respective customers and potential future customers, and it shines a spotlight on DCDC’s future expansion pathway.” Deluxe’s Joe Hart adds that the combination “opens the door to the distribution of not only features but trailers and alternative content as well.” Exhibition execs like the low cost and flexibility of satellite delivery, but many have been frustrated by the competition between companies that use different technologies — forcing some to install multiple dishes. DCDC began its transmissions in October. It was founded by AMC Theatres, Cinemark, and Regal — and Warner Bros and Universal Pictures. Disney, Sony, Fox, Paramount, Lionsgate and Open Road also provide content via DCDC, and Southern Theatres and National Amusements are customers.

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UPDATE: Fandango Adds More Than 1,000 U.S. Screens

By | Wednesday March 26, 2014 @ 11:50am EDT

UPDATED, 8:50 AM: CinemaCon2014_badgeFollowing its exclusive multi-year renewal with Cinemark (original story below), NBCUniversal-owned Fandango announced today it has added five new exhibitors, Malco Theatres, Frank Theatres, Goodrich Quality Theaters, NCG Cinemas and Paragon Theaters. That brings its online and mobile ticketing to more than 1,000 screens in over a dozen states, Fandango says.

Related: CinemaCon: Fandango & Veezi Ink Online Ticketing Deal

Fandango-logo__140325154101-275x154PREVIOUS, MARCH 24 AM: We’ll probably see a lot of announcements like this one pegged to the exhibition industry gathering this week in Las Vegas. Fandango says that it has a new multi-year deal to be the exclusive third-party provider of online and mobile ticketing services for Cinemark‘s 4,400 U.S. screens. “We have worked closely with Fandango for many years and they’ve been a great partner, helping us deliver many conveniences to our guests,” says Cinemark CEO Tim Warner. NBCUniversal-owned Fandango continues to say that it’s “coming off a record-breaking year in 2013, with record-high ticket sales, web and mobile traffic, and app downloads” as well as “a dramatic 57% increase in mobile ticket sales.” But, as we’ve noted before, it’s hard to say what these statements mean: Fandango doesn’t disclose how many tickets it sold. The impressive growth in mobile sales still is a slowdown from the 171% growth in 2012, and the 73% increase in 2011. Smart phone and tablet users accounted for more than … Read More »

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BOX OFFICE: ‘Divergent’ Takes $54.6M; ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ Zapped By ‘Peabody’ & ‘Frozen’?; Faith-Based ‘God’s Not Dead’ Surprises At No. 4 And ‘Budapest Hotel’ Another Strong Showing

OPENING: Divergent (LGF/SUMMIT) was expected at $53M to $55M+ and rose to $56M+ for the weekend, ended at $54.6; Muppets Most Wanted (DIS) was tracking at $28M, then opened and was thought to be $18 to $19M, then ended at $17M; God’s Not Dead (FREESTYLE RELEASING) surprised everyone to take the No. 5 spot and a wicked $11K per screen. NOTEWORTHY: The Grand Budapest Hotel (FSL) expands to 304 for a strong $22K per screen; Frozen drops out of Top Ten after 18 weeks in release.

Box office6th UPDATE, MONDAY, 2:45 PM: With an opening weekend of $54.6M, Lionsgate’s Divergent opened right in line with what it was tracking at, not $56M+ but still a strong opening for the start of another hopeful franchise for the company. It should get yet another good weekend as Spring Break swings into gear and before Captain America (DIS/MARVEL) debuts. The surprise of the weekend was the strong opening of faith-based film God’s Not Dead which debuted in No. 6 on Friday and ended up stepping up to No. 4 with a higher than expected gross on Sunday of  $9.2M with a very hearty per screen average of $11,852. The question is, of course, its second weekend out and how much it will drop. Son of God from Fox took around a 60% hit on its second weekend out and Paramount Pictures’ Noah opens this weekend so it may sink to the bottom like a rock.

peabodyMuppets Most Wanted was a big disappointment for Disney, ending its opening weekend with $17M and change on a budget of $54M. Frozen is on PPV and hit the street on DVD this weekend so you have to wonder how much that took from its opening weekend. Same studio, too. And, as I said below, if Mr. Peabody, which took in $11.8M wasn’t in the marketplace wouldn’t Muppets have benefited that much more? Hopefully, for the filmmakers it will make some money in home entertainment. Exhibs wanted more family films in the first quarter and they got it, 80FEB5CE-B4B3-FFD6-28D0C3F38E6C445Bmaxresdefaultbut the success of one film is gnawing the box office away for another. The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of those first quarter surprises for the industry. It opened in very limited release three weeks ago for a record-breaking $202K per screen and it just … won’t … quit. Fox Searchlight is expanding the Wes Anderson-directed pleaser to around 700 to 800 screens this weekend. Shouldn’t be hard to reach that goal. Final Top 20 chart below: Read More »

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Lionsgate Shares Up Modestly After ‘Divergent’ Meets Analysts’ Expectations

By | Monday March 24, 2014 @ 1:21pm EDT

Divergent coverOn an ordinary day you’d expect Lionsgate shares to rebound nicely today. Stifel’s Benjamin Mogil predicted “a sigh of relief” after the studio’s latest release, Divergent, pretty much met analysts’ recently lowered expectations by generating $56M at domestic box offices over the weekend. But company shares are up 2.7% in mid-day trading,  leaving Lionsgate down 14% since March 12, while exhibition stocks are off today. Investors are responding to the anemic overall box office results — as well as a report showing weak growth in U.S. manufacturing, and growing predictions that Russia could fall into a recession following Western economic sanctions its annexation of Crimea. The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index is down about 1%. Too bad for Lionsgate: Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker says the film beat her $50M target and “more than likely sets up another franchise for the studio.” MKM Partners’ Eric Handler thought Divergent would hit $64M but notes that “solid word of mouth … could help sustain the film’s legs in the coming weeks.” Read More »

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CinemaCon: Will Confab Be A Calm Moment Before An Exhibition Industry Storm?

CinemaCon2014_badgeIt sure looks that way as exhibition and studio execs prepare to head to Las Vegas next week for the annual confab. There are no obvious, explosive controversies to address this time out — which is unusual. Since 2011, when the meeting formerly known as ShoWest became CinemaCon, “some big issue has blown up,” Cinemark CEO Tim Warner tells us. “I hope that doesn’t happen [this year] because the business is going so good.” Says National Association of Theatre Owners CEO John Fithian: “Sometimes we go into these conventions we go into this with one or two issues, but that’s not the case this year. We’ll be talking about product supply and movies, and how it relates to product returns. We’ll also be talking about technology.”

Related: Deadline Big Media 77 – CinemaCon Preview Podcast

This all comes as the exhibition business is poised for dramatic, and possibly painful, changes as owners deal with consumers who say that ticket prices are too high, a creative boxoffice-moneycommunity that wants better projection and sound quality, studios that want a bigger share of the box office pie, and investors who demand higher dividends.

Cheerleading is to be expected at a trade show, and there’s sure to be a lot as execs look ahead to a tsunami of sequels that could make 2015 a blowout year for box offices. Paramount, Universal, Sony, Fox and Warner Bros will show their product reels. Disney will feature its Jon Hamm-starring sports-themed Million Dollar Arm. Not to be outdone, Lionsgate will feature its sports-themed comedy-drama Draft Day from director Ivan Reitman and starring Kevin Costner, while Universal swings back around with a screening of the comedy Neighbors about newlyweds with a baby who must live next to a fraternity house. And filmmaker Chris Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) will take part in a discussion about his career. The late Tom Sherak will also be honored on Wednesday night at The Pioneers Dinner.

legoOn broad-stroke matters, exhibitors can pretty much cross off their top concern from last year: the dearth of family-oriented titles in Q1 followed by a summer onslaught. Exhibitors wanted family films spaced out better. “We had encouraged the studios to think about that more, and they did,” Fithian says. Family fare from this year’s early months included The Nut Job, The Lego Movie, Mr. Peabody And Sherman, and — this weekend — Muppets Most Wanted.

There’s also been progress on exhibition’s call for more small- and medium-budget movies. As the six big studios cut their output by 40%, Read More »

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Is This Hollywood’s Next Major Studio? Bob Simonds & TPG Growth’s Venture Fully Financed, JP Morgan Says; Hiring, Deals To Start In Earnest

China-And-Hollywood__130605112955-150x150__130925193515There has been a fair amount of speculation since producer Robert Simonds, TPG Growth, Gigi Pritzker and Chinese concern Hony Capital announced their plans for “a next generation film studio” to finance, produce and self-distribute eight to 10 star-driven films every year. The group has already gone around the traditional business model in making deals for screen plays directly with the nation’s exhibitors and it will also make other output for home video, pay and other ancillaries. It also boldly announced that they would spend $1B over the next five years. When folks around town heard that, they rolled their eyes. After all, there is a history of largess announcements with Chinese investors only to find out later that it’s not real. So who better to confirm than with the bankers.

Related: Robert Simonds, Gigi Pritzker, China’s Hony Capital Partner On Indie Studio Venture

Producer Robert SimondsAccording to JP Morgan’s David Shaheen, the head of the financial institution’s entertainment banking team for the past 18 years, the deal is closed. “The funding is in place. We’ve been working with them for the past year and in earnest the last several months,” he said. “We were engaged from the beginning evaluating their business strategy and helped structure the financing. David Shaheen JP MorganThe combination of the equity capitalization that has been funded, the subordinated debt capital, the prints and advertising facility, and the senior debt revolving line of credit are sufficient to fund the production and releasing of film (and television content) for the term of the deal.” Which is? “Five to six years.” The prints and advertising facility is being handled by a separate company. But a billion dollars? “It’s fair to say that the capital is there,” says Shaheen. The Raine Group also served as the financial adviser to the studio.

Shaheen added that he was impressed with “the quality of the shareholders — all blue-chip players — including their exhibition partners and how they were able to pull the ingredients together. The capital is in place and ready to go. I’ve gotten some calls on this, too, from people around town wondering if this was real. I don’t know what else to tell you but it’s real.” It’s basically a revolver financial structure, which means that they can tap into larger resources if needed.

Also, the exhibitors — AMC Theaters, Regal Entertainment Group, Cinemark and Carmike — have all negotiated separately with the joint venture. In order to agree, they also needed assurance, which was provided. They all put a conditionality on the agreement that they had to see the capital to produce the films before they would make an agreement to offer them a certain amount of screens each year. By making deals directly with the theater owners, it is a major shift away from the traditional way of doing business with exhibition. Read More »

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Robert Simonds, Gigi Pritzker, China’s Hony Capital Partner On Indie Studio Venture

China-And-Hollywood__130605112955-150x150__130925193515While Hollywood wonders if a big part of the financing for Jeff Robinov’s new shingle will come from Huayi Brothers Media, others with less luster are tapping China for funding. Producers Robert Simonds and Gigi Pritzker announced in The New York Times they have teamed with backers including TPG Growth and Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital to form a venture they call “a next generation film studio” that will finance, produce and self-distribute eight to 10 star-driven theatrical films per year for the global market with budgets at around $40M. They expect the venture to spend over $1B over the next five years. The strategy: Hollywood’s devotion to tent poles has pushed them away from star vehicles, and the venture wants to bring those back. Of course, that happened because new stars are few and far between, and even the dependable ones no longer deliver strong opening weekends like they once did. Simonds, who had an early strong run with Adam Sandler comedies but whose last hit was 2006′s The Pink Panther, will be chairman and CEO of the venture with former Viacom Entertainment Group exec Thomas McGrath as COO. OddLot Entertainment CEO Pritzker will also sit on the board. She is coming off the disastrous Ender’s Game, but has also been involved in tasteful fare like The Way Way Back, Drive and the upcoming Jon Stewart-directed Rosewater. They say they have made direct distribution deals with North American … Read More »

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Could Carmike’s Strong Q4 Earnings Help To Put It In Play?

By | Wednesday March 5, 2014 @ 2:26pm EST

The exhibition chain’s stock is up about 7.7% so far today, and hit a 52-week high of $32.60, as its stronger-than-expected Q4 earnings delighted investors — and revived speculation that it might soon be ripe for a takeover. carmikecinemasSome analysts say that the stars will align if the leading theater ad sales company, National CineMedia, buys its rival Screenvision. That “could happen this year,” B. Riley’s Eric Wold says. And since Carmike owns about 19% of Screenvision, that “would also put Carmike in play to be acquired by one of the top three domestic exhibitors.” Benchmark Co’s Mike Hickey says that a deal would “create a +$300 million asset within Carmike” potentially enticing bidders to offer about $40 per share. Even without a deal, investors like Carmike’s report that its attendance per screen increased about 3% in Q4. That’s a contrast with AMC, Regal, and Cinemark which were down — one analyst attributed that to the holiday season launches of Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s XBox One gaming consoles. What accounted for the difference? Wold says that Carmike benefited from its small market theaters which operate “within somewhat competitor-free film zones.” Maxim Group’s John Tinker pointed to “the success of family-oriented films such as Frozen and The Hunger Games, which align well [with Carmike's] concentration in suburban markets.” And Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter noted that the chain bought 52 screens from Cinemark and 147 from Muvico Theaters that “added three IMAX screens, … Read More »

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Trial Date Set For Aurora Theater Shooter

By | Thursday February 27, 2014 @ 3:09pm PST

forsaleA Colorado judge has set an October 14 start date for the trial of the man accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 others at a megaplex in 2012. Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour said today he wants the first group of the 6,000 would-be jurors to report on that date for Phase 1 of jury selection. But attorneys for the accused killer said they will appeal the decision because they want their client to undergo a second psychiatric evaluation, which could stall the proceeding again. In June the court accepted the defendant’s plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, which led to his first psychiatric evaluation. He faces 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other crimes.

Related: Court Rules Fox News Reporter Won’t Have To Name Sources For Aurora Shooting Coverage

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Annie Awards: ‘Frozen’ Wins Big Including Best Feature; Miyazaki Gets Best Writing; Spielberg Honored; ‘Futurama’ & ‘Sofia’ Top TV; ‘Get A Horse!’ Best Short

Annie Award WinnersDisney’s Frozen was on fire tonight at the 41st Annie Awards and now is generating real heat for the upcoming Academy Awards. Having made $864.4M worldwide at the box office since its late-November release, the 3D fantasy musical snagged 5 Annies tonight. Frozen won Best Animated Feature, Best Directing for Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, Best Music, Production Design and a Voice Acting win for Josh Gad. who also was a presenter. Whether this will translate into Oscar gold remains to be seen. Last year’s big Annie winner, Wreck-It Ralph, which Lee co-wrote, ended up losing the Best Animated Feature Oscar to Pixar’s Brave. However, the 2012 Annie Feature winner Rango did win at the Oscars that year.

“We haven’t even started talking about a sequel yet,” Frozen co-director Jennifer Lee told me before the ceremony started. “We’ve talked about the Broadway musical but not a sequel. No one’s even mentioned it,” said Lee, who just flew in today from a promotional visit to Tokyo.

frozen2With 30 awards handed out and hosted by Patrick Warburton, this year’s Annies from UCLA’s Royce Hall also saw animation trailblazer Hayao Miyazaki take home the Writing in an Animated Feature award for The Wind Rises and Disney’s Mickey Mouse throwback pic Get A Horse! — which played before screenings of Frozen — take the Best Animated Short prize. Steven Spielberg, Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo and Star Wars and Jurassic Park effects whiz Phil Tippett were honored with the Annies’ prestigious Winsor McCay for their contribution to the art form. DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods garnered three awards, for Best Animated Effects in an Animated Production, Character Design and Character Animation. The Chris Meledandri-headed Illumination and Universal’s Despicable Me 2 took the Best Animated TV/Broadcast Commercial award.

A recap of Deadline’s live blog of tonight’s show follows the winners list below.

Related:
Disney’s ‘Frozen’ Stays Hot With Sing-Along Version Headed To Theaters
‘Despicable Me 2′ Breaks Records In $80M Home Vid Debut
OSCARS: Best Animation 2013 – Titans Vs. Indies In A Wide Open Race

Toy-Story-of-TerrorThe Halloween special Toy Story of Terror! and Disney Mickey Mouse each won three awards. Best General Audience Animated TV Production and best Writing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production went to Futurama, while Disney’s Sofia The First picked up the category’s Preschool Children award. Industrial Light & Magic’s Pacific Rim team won the Animated Effects in a Live Action Production for their work on Warner Bros and Legendary’s apocalyptic blockbuster.

After a slightly late start, host Warburton kicked off the show by making a joke that he has “no experience as a host” but that the Annies are his favorite awards show. He later said of Royce Hall, “What a terrific venue to have the Annies — or, if you’re Seth MacFarlane, a birthday party.” He added that maybe he shouldn’t have mentioned it because “not everybody here was invited.” Later he said, “We lost Brian the dog on Family Guy this year. That was tragic news for fans of the show. … Tragic news for me would be if I found out Rogaine caused brain cancer.” He added that, “So Seth MacFarlane killed a dog. To me that makes him no better than Michael Vick.” The joke got a big laugh.

Congrats to all who took home an Annie tonight, check out the full list of winners below:

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AMC Entertainment Denies Report That It Opposes NATO’s New Trailer Guidelines

Looks like Variety got carried away this afternoon with a story that says “several prominent exhibitors” are rejecting the National Association of Theatre Owners‘new voluntary guidelines calling for a two-minute cap on movie trailers. movie-theaterThe site named two chains – Cinemark and AMC Entertainment — saying that their defection raises ”the question of why NATO is pushing the issue at all.” Just one thing: AMC denies the story’s claim that it “has reversed its position” after its rep on the NATO board voted for the new guidelines. “AMC Theatres is in full support of the voluntary NATO In-Theatre Marketing Guidelines, which at their core are about the more efficient and effective use of our industry’s marketing resources,” the company says. “Recently published letters, articles and commentary we’ve seen throughout the industry badly misrepresent the intent of these guidelines. As has always been our practice, this and all studio dealings will be handled directly with our distribution partners as we seek to maximize the box office performance of their films, and we expect that practice to continue.” Read More »

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Cinemark Extends CEO Tim Warner’s Contract To 2016

By | Tuesday January 21, 2014 @ 5:43pm EST

The new arrangement replaces the contract from 2012, when Tim Warner replaced Alan Stock after he retired. cinemark-logo-180x180-2-2-2That deal was set to expire in April but was subject to a one-year extension. With the new agreement, Cinemark “will continue to benefit from [Warner's] global growth and management experience,” Chairman Lee Roy Mitchell says. The exhibition chain also seemed to anoint Robert Copple as heir apparant,  promoting him to President and Chief Operating Officer from CFO. In the new job, Warner says, Copple “will remain engaged in the day-to-day operations of the company and will be more available to help execute global strategic initiatives. Specifically, Robert will direct the efforts of our domestic company’s senior management team, while working more directly and on a broader basis with Valmir Fernandes, President of Cinemark International, on strategic initiatives such as FLIX Media and alternative content.”

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AMC Theaters Teams Up Again with MovieTickets.com, Adding It As An Online Ticketing Provider

By | Tuesday January 21, 2014 @ 12:55pm EST

The addition of the No. 2 exhibition chain is a coup for MovieTickets.com — and a logical development following the settlement in November of the online ticketing company’s suit that charged AMC with a breach of contract when it went exclusively with Fandango.movietickets.com The new non-exclusive relationship adds 4,950 AMC screens to MovieTickets’ tally, for a total of more than 22,000. That “substantially increases our domestic reach” with “some of the highest grossing and busiest locations in many of the strongest markets across the country,” says MovieTickets CEO Joel Cohen. The ticketing service also has deals with Carmike Cinemas, CineMark, Cinepolis, Landmark, Rave Cinemas, and Regal. MovieTickets co-owner Hollywood Media noted in an SEC filing last year that the court agreement with AMC included a “non-exclusive ticketing agreement,” but the terms were confidential.AMC Entertainment The companies have had a rocky relationship since 2000 when they created MovieTickets as a 50-50 venture, later adding National Amusements. In 2012 Hollywood charged AMC with “unconscionable, unfair, and deceptive acts and practices” that culminated with its decision that year to move its online business exclusively to Comcast-owned Fandango. The suit added that MovieTickets’ “current viability has been threatened” by AMC, which at the time still owned 26.2% of MovieTickets. AMC said in a recent SEC filing that Fandango sold 17.2M tickets for the chain in 2012. AMC is owned by China’s Wanda Group, but … Read More »

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AMC Entertainment Goes Public Tomorrow At $18 A Share

By | Tuesday December 17, 2013 @ 9:08pm EST

The No. 2 exhibition chain will trade on the NYSE under the symbol “AMC.” It will use the proceeds from the $331M offering to pay down some of its  high-interest debt and for the catch-all “general corporate purposes.” The offering AMC Entertainment logowill leave China’s Wanda Group, which paid more than $2.6B for AMC last year, firmly in control of the theater company. It is selling 18,421,053 shares of its Class A stock that entitles owners to one vote per share, and will keep the Class B stock with three votes per share. Class A owners just have 7.8% of the votes while Class B holders have 92.2%. The stock price values AMC Entertainment at about 6.8 times its estimated cash flow for 2014, a bit lower than rivals Regal Entertainment and Cinemark at about 7.5 times cash flow, MKM Partners’ Eric Handler says. AMC has a lot of debt and its theaters, concentrated in major cities, pay high rent. Handler estimates that AMC pays about $90,000 per screen for rent vs. $58,000 for Regal and $55,000 for Cinemark. But exhibition stocks have been hot: Regal shares are +37.7% in 2013, Cinemark is +25.3%, and Carmike is +65.9%. AMC’s expected to end this year generating $103.3M in net income from continuing operations on revenues of $2.78B.

Related: AMC Entertainment Gives Customers A Shot At IPO Shares

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BOX OFFICE FINAL: Weather Impacts BO But Attendance Up Overall Year To Date; ‘The Hobbit’ Lighter But Strong, ‘Frozen’ Steals ‘Madea Christmas’ As ‘American Hustle’ Kicks It On Six Screens

BoxOffice_logo3RD UPDATE, 1:40 PM: Every Monday, we run the final numbers for the Top 20 for the weekend so an accurate accounting can be seen by all. Sony reported this morning that due to a computer glitch, the final per-screen numbers for American Hustle, which played on six screen this weekend, were actually $123,409 not $113,000 as it previously reported. Interesting, too, is that PLF’s (led by 92 Cinemark XD in the U.S.) and IMAX accounted for roughly $15.47M of Warner Bros./MGM’s The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug. Here is the final Top 10 from Rentrak — the full Top 20 list is at the bottom of the post.

Related: Overseas Box Office: ‘The Hobbit’ Bests 1st Pic; ‘Gravity’ Pulls In Japan; ‘Frozen’ Melts Russia

1.  The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, Warner Bros., $73,645,197, 3,903 locations, $18,869 average, $73,645,197, 1 week.

2.  Frozen, Disney, $22,568,138, 3,716 locations, $6,073 average, $164,772,211, 4 weeks.

3. Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, Lionsgate, $16,007,634, 2,194 locations, $7,296 average, $16,007,634, 1 week.

4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Lionsgate, $13,671,666, 3,563 locations, $3,837 average, $357,503,663, 4 weeks.

5. Thor: The Dark World, Disney, $2,820,055, 2,264 locations, $1,246 average, $198,245,744, 6 weeks.

6. Out Of The Furnace,”Relativity Media, $2,425,978, 2,101 locations, $1,155 average, $9,574,440, 2 weeks.

7. Delivery Man, Disney, $1,968,891, 2,041 locations, $965 average, $28,091,575, 4 weeks.

8. Philomena, The Weinstein Company, $1,820,479, 835 locations, $2,180 average, $11,083,457, 4 weeks.

9. The Book Thief, 20th Century Fox, $1,734,679, 1,158 locations, $1,498 average, $14,936,447, 6 weeks.

10. Homefront, Open Road, $1,706,286, 2,103 locations, $811 average, $18,507,155, 3 weeks.

BOX OFFICE THUMBNAIL: Weather impacts this weekend, Attendance overall up from last year: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Warner Bros, wide) playing to lighter numbers than last year’s first installment of the trilogy; Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas (Lionsgate, wide) looks to be lowest opening for a Madea title; American Hustle (Sony, limited) very strong per screens; Saving Mr. Banks (Disney, limited) not banking; Inside Llewyn Davis (CBS Films, expanded to 15 locales) per screens falling fast; Hours starring the late Paul Walker (Pantelion Films – joint venture between Lionsgate and Grupo Televisa– limited in 16 theaters and on VOD).

2ND UPDATE, SUNDAY, 9:20 AM: The severe weather across the nation – winter storms across 23 states and 100 million people – also impacted the nation’s box office this weekend. It seems to have affected the older pictures most. That being said, I will post the newcomers and top five first and then update again with the rest of the pack. Overall, year-to-date attendance is up and expected to surpass $10.7 billion (which was last year’s total). Responding to feedback from readers, will highlight numbers for easier reading.

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug brought in around another $24.4M on Saturday after a Friday haul of $31.1M and is expected at $73.6M (according to WB) for its debut weekend, industry estimates show. The Warner Bros./MGM franchise played on 3,903 theaters for a per screen of around $18,700. The IMAX numbers for Hobbit accounted for about 12.5% of the national gross or about $9.18M in 344 locales. All top 10 locations for Hobbit have IMAX screens. Internationally, The Hobbit has brought in $205M so far for the studio.

“Our suburban business was severely off last night due to the inclement weather,” said Dan Fellman, president of distribution for Warner Bros. Other veteran distributors also noted this, citing up to 50% drops last night in east coast theaters vs. 20% drops in L.A. theaters.

Frozen, the animated family film from the Walt Disney Co., held a solid second place this weekend up about 101% from Friday (family pics traditionally excel on Saturdays) to bring in another $10M in 3,716 theaters and estimates for the weekend are now around $22.3M to $22.7M for the three-day. That would bring its cume up to around $164 million in its four weeks of release. It’s per is about $6,000.

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas from Lionsgate was up 10% from Friday with an estimated take of between $15.8M and $15.9M, a far cry from other outings for the pic which in the past have opened to at least $25M. This is the first time the picture has opened in this time-frame pre-Christmas. It is in 2,194 theaters for an estimated per screen of roughly $7,200. This is Tyler Perry’s and Lionsgate’s 16th collaboration and marks its 8th Madea film together.

American Hustle, which bowed in only six theaters in N.Y and L.A., continued to do well on Saturday night for Sony, adding another $270,000 to bring its estimated weekend per screen total to around $113,000 its debut weekend. Very strong numbers. Up around 30% from Friday night. Estimates have the total gross hovering around the $700,000 mark. The critically-acclaimed picture will go wide next weekend in around 2,500 theaters.

Sony notes that the opening is higher than director David O. Russell’s two previous films, The Fighter (which had a $75,000 average and went on to make $93.6M in domestic  box office and 34.5M overseas) and Silver Linings Playbook $27,687; that went onto make $132M domestically). Both films, likewise, rode critical acclaim and positive word-of-mouth right into Oscar season.

“It’s an incredible start for an incredible film,” said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Sony Pictures. “I think David O’Russell created a film that gives crazy, cool performances that will be savored for years to come.” Those who have seen the picture that I know are planning to go back and see it again. So expect some repeat business and a long tail for this entertaining romp.

Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, on 15 screens in its first weekend out in limited release, was up around %29 from Friday and its per screen averages are running anywhere from $26,000 to $28,000 in estimates right now for the three-day. It rolls out wide next weekend in a marketplace that looks to be packed.

Fourth place is another Lionsgate franchise, Hunger Games: Catching Fire with an estimated Saturday take of anywhere between $5.7M and $5.8M so the three-day puts it at around $13.2M to $13.4M to bring its cume up to about $357M. In 3,663 locales, it has a per screen of around $3,700. Internationally, Lionsgate has the film grossing an estimated $19.5M from 83 markets, so that brings the total international cume to $372.9 million. With the domestic added in, that pushes it to around $730M worldwide in just four weeks of release.

Thor: A Dark World from Disney took in another $1.2M on Saturday and should finish the weekend with another $2.7 million or so to bring its overall cume to around $198M. It is in its sixth week of release. Read More »

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Annie Award Nominations Unveiled

By | Monday December 2, 2013 @ 8:15am PST

The slate of nominations for Best Animated Features this year are A Letter To Momo (GKIDS), annieDespicable Me 2 (Universal Pictures), Ernest & Celestine (GKIDS), Frozen (Walt Disney Animation Studios), Monsters University (Pixar Animation Studios), The Croods (DreamWorks Animations), and The Wind Rises (Studio Ghibli and The Walt Disney Studios). Winners will be announced during the 41st Annual Annie Awards ceremony February 1 at UCLA’s Royce Hall. The full list of nominees follows: Read More »

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