UPDATE: Intl Box Office: ‘Rio 2′ Soars With $63.4M; ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Blasts Past $300M Overseas; ‘Noah’ Adds $36.2M; ‘Divergent’ Nearing $50M

Highlights: Rio 2 (FOX) has $63.4M weekend, lands $12.6M in China debut; Captain America: The Winter Soldier (DIS) crosses $300M international; Noah (PAR) adds $36.2M; Divergent (LGF/SUM/var) nears $50M; Spanish Affairs (UNI) has 5th No. 1 weekend in Spain…

cinemaworld4th UPDATE, 7:15 PM, PST: The final Divergent  numbers are in, with the film nearing $50M but not yet crossing it; it stands at $48.1M. The film is based on the YA novel of the same name (part of a trilogy) and Lionsgate is hoping it will become another big franchise. This is the same company that launched the wildly successful Hunger Games series. Divergent is at $124.7M in the U.S. after the 3-day weekend for a worldwide gross of $172.8M+.

3rd UPDATE, Monday, 1:52 PM, PST:  New grosses are in for Rio 2, The Grand Budapest Hotel, 300: Rise Of An Empire, The Lego Movie, Spanish Affairs and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Rio 2 did better than previously expected internationally over the weekend, with a total tally of $63.4M to date; the worldwide cume on the animated family picture is over $100M.

2ND UPDATE, MONDAY 12:45 AM PT: Last weekend, Captain America: Read More »

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UPDATE: Intl Box Office: ‘The Winter Soldier’ Plants $39.2M Flag In China, Crosses $200M Overseas; Disney Passes $1B Global; ‘Rio 2′ Flies To $55.4M; ‘Noah’ Sails Past $100M; ‘Divergent’ Cumes $22.4M; More

Highlights: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (DIS) bests Iron Man 3 China bow with $39.2M; Frozen (DIS) ices competition in Japan with $75.1M total, studio passes $1B in global box office; Rio 2 (FOX) lifts to $55.5M cume on extra $22.2M; Noah (PAR) builds to $106.2M; Divergent (LGF/SUM/var) adds $10.9M in 44 markets; Spanish Affairs (UNI) is Spain’s top local-lingo pic ever…

cinemaworld3RD UPDATE, SUNDAY 3 PM PT: Led by Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this weekend was a big 34% boost on the same frame last year when G.I. Joe: Retaliation, The Croods and Chinese romantic comedy Finding Mr Right were the top three earners. This frame also repped a 19% jump on last weekend. There are no major new wide releases set for next week, although Divergent will continue its overseas rollout hitting Germany, Russia, France and Australia, while Rio 2 takes flight not only in the U.S., but notably lands in China, France and Mexico.

2ND UPDATE, SUNDAY 12:46 PM PT: Concurrent with its massive domestic opening (see Anita Busch’s box office report here), Captain America: The Winter Soldier continued its huge international run, and, with the help of Frozen, pushed Disney past the $1B global box office threshold. The estimated 2014 cume to date for the studio is $1,211M. Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, The Winter Soldier added a massive $107.1M this weekend overseas for an international cume to … Read More »

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Johnny Knoxville, Tony Shalhoub Lend Voices To ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’

Mike Fleming

shalknoxEXCLUSIVE:  If the half-shell hero Leonardo sounds a bit like Bad Grandpa in the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the half-pint sensei Splinter sounds like Monk, there’s good reason. Johnny Knoxville has just been added to voice the role of Leonardo, and Tony Shalhoub is voicing Splinter, the Yoda-like creature that teaches chop socky technique to the turtles. Now, Pete Ploszek played the role of Leonardo during the filming part, while Seinfeld‘s Danny Woodburn played Splinter. Insiders tell me they were always open to changing the voicing component of the Jonathan Liebesman-directed film that Paramount releases August 8, and those actors were only guaranteed to physically perform the roles in costume. But as it has proven with World War Z, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Noah, Paramount also is a studio that isn’t reticent to adding ingredients to the souffle after it has risen, and right up to the point where it’s ready to be served.

Related: Hot Teaser Trailer: ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’

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Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

Catch up on the top film stories you missed this week:

Harold Ramis GhostbustersThird Installment Of ‘Ghostbusters’ A Go For Early 2015; Death Of Pal Harold Ramis Prompts Ivan Reitman To Turn Over Directing Reins
By Mike Fleming Jr.EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures is eyeing an early 2015 production start in New York on its next installment of Ghostbusters. There is a major change, though. In the wake of the death of his close friend and original Ghostbuster Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman has decided he won’t direct the film, after all.

2013 Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament Tip-Off – #1 ‘Iron Man 3′ Vs. #16 ‘The Conjuring’; #8 ‘Gravity’ Vs. #9 ‘Man Of Steel’
By Mike Fleming Jr.EXCLUSIVE: Oscar crowned a Best Picture winner two weeks ago, but which 2013 film deserves to be called the profitability champ?

Horror Hit ‘The Grudge’ Going Reboot Route
By Mike Fleming Jr.EXCLUSIVE: The Grudge, the Takashi Shimazu-directed 2004 film that helped establish the viability of low-cost genre films, is getting a reboot.

Divergent posterBOX OFFICE: ‘Divergent’ No. 1 On Track For $56M+ Weekend; ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ Very Soft; Faith-Based ‘God’s Not Dead’ Surprises In Top Five And ‘Budapest Hotel’ Another Strong Per Screen
By Anita BuschEXCLUSIVE: More for Divergent. $19.75M and higher for the Lionsgate film — $56M+. (56.7M when all is said and done?) Nicely positioned for international. They will likely have at least another good weekend before Captain America swoops in to do battle.

Jason Blum, Scooter Braun Prods & Jon M. Chu Team With Hasbro On ‘Jem And The Holograms’: Video
By The Deadline Team – Hasbro, Blumhouse Prods, Scooter Braun Prods and Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) are partnering to bring Hasbro’s 1980s cult classic cartoon series Jem And The Holograms to the big screen. Read More »

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Jason Blum, Scooter Braun Prods & Jon M. Chu Team With Hasbro On ‘Jem And The Holograms’: Video

By | Thursday March 20, 2014 @ 9:59am PDT

jem-and-the-holograms1Hasbro, Blumhouse Prods, Scooter Braun Prods and Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) are partnering to bring Hasbro’s 1980s cult classic cartoon series Jem And The Holograms to the big screen. Chu, Jason Blum and Scooter Braun made the announcement today on Tumblr and are asking fans to help in the creative process (see video below). Chu is directing from a script by Ryan Landels with production set to begin this spring. Mixing music, art, technology, and fairytale, Jem And The Holograms reimagines Jem for a whole new generation with themes of being true to who you are in a multitasking, hyperlinked social-media age. When an orphaned teenage girl becomes an online recording sensation, she and her sisters embark on a music-driven scavenger hunt – one that sends them on an adventure across Los Angeles in an attempt to unlock a final message left by her father. Hasbro, Blumhouse and SBP are producing. Chu is repped by WME, Principato-Young and Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson and Binder; Landels is with WME, Kersey Management and Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson and Binder and Hasbro is repped by WME. Check out the video:

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‘Divergent’ Tracking To Huge $50M-$60M Weekend Three Weeks Out; Pre-Sales Outstanding; ’300′ And ‘Mr. Peabody’ Also Strong For Weekend Bows

By | Wednesday March 5, 2014 @ 4:39pm PST

imagesAnother huge box office is on the way this weekend as tracking for Warner Bros’ 300: Rise Of An Empire (from Legendary Pictures) could be $40M-$45M, with Fox’s Mr. Peabody And Sherman roughly around $30M-$35M. But the story of this week is Divergentwhich looks to be a whopper of a box office hit two and a half weeks out. Some distribs in the industry have it tracking between $50M-$60M. It bows March 21. (300 will open at 8 PM tomorrow so we’ll be watching those Thursday night numbers).

300 Rise Of An EmpireMarketing for Divergent, based on the Veronica Roth trilogy and starring Shailene Woody and Theo James, has been smartly done. Audiences got their first look at the trailer for Divergent ahead of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire last November, and it continued playing on The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug through the holidays. This weekend it will play before 300. Three weeks ago, it had 58% definite interest from females under 25 and has been racking up consistently as avid moviegoers’ first choice. That interest from females may end up hurting Muppets Most Wanted which bows the same weekend, but only time will tell. Read More »

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Luke Bracey Set For ‘Point Break’ Remake Opposite Gerard Butler

By | Monday February 24, 2014 @ 5:51pm PST

Luke Bracey Point BreakAlcon Entertainment has cast the Johnny Utah to Gerard Butler‘s Bodhi in the upcoming Point Break remake. Luke Bracey (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) will star opposite Butler in the updated of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 bro-action classic, which is being directed by Invincible‘s Ericson Core. Kurt Wimmer (Salt, Total Recall) scripted the pic which sees the original Keanu Reeves-Patrick Swayze starrer updated from a surfer-scene setting to the world of extreme sports. Aussie actor Bracey played Cobra Commander last year in G.I. Joe: Retaliation and stars in the upcoming Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Best Of Me. Point Break is produced by Alcon’s Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson alongside John Baldecchi, Taylor and Kurt Wimmer. RGM Media’s Devesh Chetty and Marloss Entertainment’s John McMurrick will executive produce. Filming begins this summer. Bracey is repped by CAA, ROAR and Mark Morrissey & Associates.

Related: Gerard Butler Catches Wave In ‘Point Break’

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Elodie Yung Joins Summit’s ‘Gods of Egypt’

By | Wednesday February 19, 2014 @ 4:53pm PST

Elodie Yung Gods of EgyptEXCLUSIVE: French actress Elodie Yung is following her turn in last year’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation with her next Hollywood actioner. She’s been cast as the goddess Hathor in Summit Entertainment’s Gods of Egypt opposite Gerard Butler, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Chadwick Boseman and Geoffrey Rush. The February 12, 2016 release is directed by Alex Proyas from a script he wrote with Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, about a thief and a god on a magical quest in ancient Egypt. Yung made an impression as a lethal gang lord in action sequel District 13: Ultimatum and also appeared in David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. She also stars in the upcoming rom-com 10 Things I Hate About Life with Evan Rachel Wood and Billy Campbell. Yung is repped by Generate, Gersh, Independent Talent in the UK and Tara Kole.

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‘The Best Of Me’ Adds Luke Bracey; Sanaa Lathan Heads For ‘Ad Inexplorata’

By | Wednesday February 12, 2014 @ 5:00pm PST

Luke BraceyEXCLUSIVE: Aussie actor Luke Bracey is joining the cast of Relativity’s Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Best Of Me. The actor, who played Cobra Commander in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, joins a cast that includes James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, and Liana Liberato. Marsden came aboard last month replacing the late Paul Walker in the role of Dawson opposite Monaghan as Amanda, two former high school sweethearts who return home for a friend’s funeral and reignite their past romance only to discover that what drove them apart years ago could pose even more serious threats now. Bracey will play the younger Dawson opposite previously cast Liana Liberato as the younger Amanda. The Relativity release is the latest Sparks adaptation at the studio which also brought the author’s Dear John and Safe Haven to the big screen. The Best of Me is directed by Michael Hoffman from a script by J. Mills Goodloe rewritten by Hoffman and Will Fetters (The Lucky One). Denise DiNovi, Nicholas Sparks, Theresa Park and Alison Greenspan are producing alongside Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh. Tucker Tooley is exec producer. Bracey is repped by CAA, ROAR and Mark Morrissey & Associates. He next appears in Roger Donaldson’s November Man.

sanaa-lathanEXCLUSIVE: Sanaa Lathan is going to space with indie Ad Inexplorata, from writer-director Mark Elijah Rosenberg and Beasts of the Southern Wild producers Josh Penn and Matt Parker. Low Winter Read More »

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CES: Comcast, Netflix, Paramount, DirecTV And Amazon Will Stream 4K Video To Samsung TVs

By | Monday January 6, 2014 @ 6:04pm EST

This is becoming a theme at the International CES. Earlier today Netflix said that it will stream 4K content including the next season of House Of Cards to LG TV sets. Samsung logoNow Samsung is raising the stakes unveiling similar arrangements with Netflix, Comcast, Paramount, DirecTV and Amazon — part of its campaign to popularize the new technology with video that’s four times as sharp as conventional HD. The Samsung UHD [for Ultra Hi-Def] Video Pack will bundle Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and Forrest Gump. “Users will also be able to download new UHD content as it becomes available,” the company says. In addition, Comcast will have an app for 4K Internet streams. The company says that it is “working with programmers, including NBCUniversal, to provide a library of 4k UHD choices for the Xfinity TV 4K app.” Comcast Cable SVP Matt Strauss says that later this year the company’s X1 set top boxes “will deliver 4K UHD content to all 4K capable televisions.” Amazon says that it’s working with several consumer electronics companies as well as Warner Bros., Lionsgate, 20th Century Fox, and Discovery. Last month Amazon Studios said that it will shoot all of its original series in 4K.

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Year-End: How A Growing Global Mandate And Franchise Fever Led To Movie Studio Tsuris

Mike Fleming

Considering that global movie ticket sales reached precedent levels after a particularly robust holiday period and a hollywood-signmostly sizzling summer, 2013 was one of the most turbulent years I can remember in the executive suites of major studios. Studios were overhauled all over town to better compete in an arena that is more of a global pursuit than ever, with victory belonging to whoever can build and maintain the most franchises.

YearEnd2013_badge__131227212819Purists will decry the fact that Hollywood’s brightest minds are mostly focused on repackaging derivative concepts for maximum global grosses, but evidence of the rewards are right there in the gross charts: Six of the top seven biggest films were sequels that provided the kind of results that keep studio conglomerate parents happy, keep studio chiefs employed, and slate co-financiers coming back for more. Sure, studios will still get involved with awards-season prestige films like The Wolf Of Wall Street, American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave, but often only when someone else pays to make them. This franchise fever pushed costs of blockbusters to ridiculously high levels, and left top execs and producers explaining, and sometimes packing, when some badly misfired. Add that to internal power struggles at places like Universal and Warner Bros, and you needed a scorecard to keep up with the executive changes — which came fast and furious, especially after the brutal summer blockbuster season. Among them:

Related: Leonardo DiCaprio On Creating Fact-Based Black Comedy Without Glorifying Crooks

Universal Pictures logo 2013*Universal fired film chairman Adam Fogelson in a move that surprised him along with everyone else in town but Ron Meyer and Donna Langley, with whom he engaged in a quiet power struggle. Fogelson was blindsided by the result, coming hours after he presided over the Toronto premiere of Rush. The Comcast-orchestrated move that put Jeff Shell in charge of filmed entertainment after he did well running NBCUniversal’s international operations. Meyer was upped to vice chairman of NBCUniversal and Langley as sole Universal Films chairman and picture picker. Even though the studio placed third in market share and Despicable Me 2 could become the studio’s biggest-ever box office hit when it plays in China, Universal also flubbed franchise launch attempts like R.I.P.D. and 47 Ronin, and Kick-Ass 2 proved that once was enough. Universal has sequels to Fast & Furious 6Jurassic Park, The Mummy and Ted coming, and a new salty adult franchise in Fifty Shades Of Grey for 2015. Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures moved in to hatch pictures and co-fi Universal titles like Jurassic World, hedging the studio’s bets as it moves forward. Langley’s biggest challenge has been retooling the studio’s most lucrative franchise, Fast & Furious, which was halfway completed when star Paul Walker died tragically in a fiery car crash. Right after Fogelson was ousted, longtime Focus Features chief James Schamus was dismissed just as suddenly. He was replaced by Peter Schlessel, the whip-smart former Sony dealmaker who’d been running FilmDistrict and who clearly will be charged with broadening the highbrow Focus slate to include more low-risk high-return genre films like the FilmDistrict hit Insidious. Schamus’s co-chairman, Andrew Karpen, declined to relocate and stay on, dramatically changing the complexion of that prestige company.

Related: Why ‘Fifty Shades’ Date Move Makes Sense

warnerbros_logo__131127025856-275x209*The final shoe dropped after Warner Bros gave the top job to Kevin Tsujihara instead of Warner Bros movie chief Jeff Robinov. At a time when Robinov should have been taking victory laps after his bets on filmmakers paid off so well with Ben Affleck’s Argo, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel and Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, Robinov instead left in a frosty exit to form his own moneyed film venture. This, and the equally tempestuous exit of Legendary’s Tull after a lucrative franchise-fueled run, left Robinov’s successors Greg Silverman and Sue Kroll under big pressure to assert themselves to find new franchises. The studio re-upped Village Roadshow Pictures and replaced Legendary with James Packer, Brett Ratner and Steven Mnuchin’s RatPac Dune in a slate co-financing deal that will spread $450 million or more over 75 films. While Warner Bros brass tired of Tull imposing his creative will and cherry-picking Warner Bros titles to co-fi, RatPac Dune will not do that, and I heard the studio was able to exclude certain plum titles from the arrangement. But Warner Bros also gifted RatPac Dune with a co-fi stake in Gravity after it was completed, creating Gravity-ca big windfall for a fledgling venture. It’s ironic given nobody in Hollywood but Robinov seemed to want to make that movie — an expensive auteur effort that has zero sequel potential. One challenge for the new team at Warner Bros: keeping Robinov from peeling away the directors he empowered, from Christopher Nolan to Affleck, Snyder, Luhrmann, The Hangover‘s Todd Phillips and Cuaron to make movies at the new company he and Graham King are expected to launch at Sony. Silverman is respected and Kroll is regarded as arguably the best marketer in town and the studio’s global distribution and marketing operation is as good as there is, but the pressure’s on even though Warner Bros topped other studios in market share. It also has what seems like a strong year with franchise launches in Godzilla and LEGO, another installment of 300 (so what if everybody died in the original?), and a Hobbit finale. Beyond Hobbit, New Line continues to do its part on the franchise front, hatching a Horrible Bosses sequel for 2014 and gearing up another installment of its sleeper 2013 road trip comedy We’re The Millers.

Related: OSCARS Q&A: Alfonso Cuaron On ‘Gravity’

Sony-Pictures-logo__130125035333-200x312 (1)*After two costly summer misfires in After Earth and White House Down,  a lackluster Smurfs sequel that fizzled the franchise, and disappointing returns on the Matt Damon-starrer Elysium, Sony Pictures chairman Amy Pascal found herself  in the cross-hairs of minority activist shareholder Daniel Loeb. The result: seismic changes in its executive structure and game plan moving forward. The studio dropped marketing head Marc Weinstock, corporate PR chief Steve Elzer and home entertainment chief David Bishop, and then added former New Line president-turned Fifty Shades Of Grey producer Michael De Luca to share president of production duties with Hannah Minghella. The studio vowed heading into its fall investor meetings that it would cut $250 million in costs through 2016, and make fewer movies in 2014 and  pour the money into TV. I keep hearing that was temporary window dressing, and after adding former Fox chief Tom Rothman to revive TriStar, which creates another buyer on a lot full of them, Sony will continue to try and create sony_amazing_spiderman_DF-06775_rV7franchises to go along with its Spider-Man and 007 stalwarts. Sony secured a big slate co-fi investment from John LaViolette and Joseph Singer’s Blue Anchor that begins with George Clooney’s The Monuments Men. And then there is the prospect of the venture by Robinov/King which would give Sony huge movies to release and gain market share and bragging rights, without actually having to fund them if they don’t want to. If 22 Jump Street and especially The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hit as well as is hoped, some of that pressure could be alleviated as the studio presses ahead with reboots of past franchise successes Ghostbusters and Men In Black.

Related: Hot Teaser: ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′ Read More »

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Paramount Dips Toe Into MGM’s ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ Sequel

By | Tuesday December 17, 2013 @ 3:54pm PST

Paramount will distribute the film worldwide theatrically and on home video while MGM will handlehottub2 select international territories. MGM/United Artists paired on the first movie in 2010 which grossed $50.3 million domestically, a mild success theatrically but the pic did well digitally and on demand. Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke return for the sequel, along with Steve Pink who directs from a screenplay by Josh Heald. Adam Scott also stars. In the sequel, when Lou (Corddry) finds himself in trouble, Nick (Robinson) and Jacob (Duke) fire up the hot tub time machine in an attempt to get back to the past. But they inadvertently land in the future. Now they have to alter the future in order to save the past… which is really the present. The pic is produced by Andrew Panay. It’s slated for a 2014 release. MGM and Paramount have partnered on several projects including the upcoming Hercules, starring Dwayne Johnson and directed by Brett Ratner, due for release July 25, 2014 as well as G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Related: The Financials Of ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’

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OSCARS: Original Score Category To Draw From 114 Movies

By | Thursday December 12, 2013 @ 3:42pm PST

Oscar100__120725193608__120830210159__130208010240BEVERLY HILLS, CA — One hundred fourteen scores from eligible feature-length motion pictures released in 2013 are in contention for nominations in the Original Score category for the 86th Oscars®, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today.

The eligible scores along with their composers are listed below, in alphabetical order by film title:

Read More »

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Jon M. Chu Godfathers ‘Run,’ High Concept Horror For Lionsgate

By | Tuesday December 10, 2013 @ 10:58am PST
Mike Fleming

jonchuuEXCLUSIVE: G.I. Joe: Retaliation helmer Jon M. Chu and Hieu Ho have made a deal to produce Run, a high concept action horror film they’ve set at Lionsgate under their Chu Studios banner. Alex Ankeles & Morgan Jurgenson are writing the script, and John Sacchi is overseeing for Lionsgate. Ankeles is repped by CAA and Kaplan/Perrone; Jurgenson is APA and Jonathan Hung, while Chu’s repped by PYE, WME and SMGSB.

This is another example of Chu branching out. He started on a musical track, helming Step Up 2: The Streets with Briana Evigan and Channing Tatum, and Step Up 3D, both of which grossed big overseas. Chu then directed Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, before moving into the action arena with the G.I. Joe sequel, which was reframed at a more reasonable price point. Chu’s next is Justin Bieber’s Believe, which Open Road releases this month.

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Fox 2000 Hires Paramount Exec Greg Mooradian

By | Monday December 9, 2013 @ 10:24am PST
Mike Fleming

Greg Mooradian Executive PortraitEXCLUSIVE: Greg Mooradian is joining Fox 2000 as EVP Production. He reports to Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler. Mooradian joins from Paramount, where he was SVP Production and helped initiate Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters and helped reinvigorate the G.I. Joe franchise with G.I. Joe: Retaliation, a sequel reconstructed at a lower price point. Before joining Paramount in 2009, he ran his own production shingle making youth-driven pictures that included the Screen Gems remake Stepfather, the Percy Jackson films for Fox 2000, and the Twilight Saga films for Summit. Mooradian started as a development exec for producer Arnold Kopelson on films like The Fugitive and Falling Down before becoming production president for Wendy Finerman and working on such films as The Fan and Drumline, the latter for Fox 2000. Read More »

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The Takeaway On A Record Holiday Weekend? Be Fearless In Making Good Movies And Audiences Will Come

Mike Fleming

Hunger Games Catching Fire Box Office Record6TH UPDATE:  The staggering grosses turned in this weekend by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen, and the collective strong box office that will likely result in a record five-day Thanksgiving weekend come along at a fortuitous time for the movie business. Why? Because fear has ruled the roost lately, and these numbers on a diversity of mostly smart films shows clearly that if you give an audience a story well told, they will show up.

The performance of Catching Fire and Frozen are all the more remarkable if you consider that both of these films are squarely driven by female heroines. Conventional wisdom is that the marketplace could never support more than one female-driven film, because while gals will see guy movies, it doesn’t work the other way. Well, it worked big time — both films crushed the 5-day Thanksgiving domestic gross record – and it happened shortly after another female driven film, Gravity, crossed the $600 million mark in global gross this weekend. That movie would not have been made if not for a maverick advocate and you could make the same argument for a drama about Somali pirates, Captain Phillips, which has passed the $100 million mark domestically and will crack $200 million worldwide on a $55 million budget. You can look at The Best Man Holiday and Last Vegas (CBS Films’ biggest grossing film ever) and find similarly encouraging signs; good movies made for a price, finding crossover audiences.

LyntonPascal__131119192611-e1384889190694-200x357This is important, coming just on the heels of that Sony investors meeting held on the Culver City lot. It was a powwow that on the surface seemed to be a capitulation to cranky shareholders like Daniel Loeb, who, as George Clooney said, whined about two summer flops but betrayed a complete lack of understanding of how the movie business works. This weekend was a good reminder that, few legal businesses are capable of creating cash as quickly as blockbusters do. The people who make those bets are like shrewd riverboat gamblers, and if the current climate makes them fearful, they will not make good films. They are only good if they’ve got swagger and cockiness, and it would be nice to imagine a weekend like this serves as a reminder of what happens when smart risks are taken and good movies are the result.

Related: George Clooney To Hedge Fund Honcho Daniel Loeb: Stop Spreading Fear At Sony

When Sony responded to Loeb’s criticism by announcing plans to shed $100 million in overhead and trimming back its film slates to instead put more chips on TV projects, some in town wondered if Japan was planning to sell its showbiz division. Nonsense, say insiders I trust. Read More »

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Virgin Produced Joint Venture To Generate Films For Massive Bollywood Youth Market

By | Monday November 18, 2013 @ 8:24am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Virgin Produced has partnered with Cinema Capital Venture Fund and Tantrik Group to launch Virgin Produced India, a venture that will create content for the fast-growing Hindi-speaking population. VPI will be Mumbai-based, and intends to be a full-service operation that will develop, produce and distribute Bollywood films and remake Hollywood content for Indian audiences. Jasbinger Mann, the Tantrik Group founder, will be VPI managing partner.

Virgin Produced launched in 2010 and has made such films as the Bradley Cooper-Robert De Niro-starrer Limitless, as well as the Gerard Butler-starrer Machine Gun Preacher and the comedy Movie 43. It also was behind the music-infused safety video for Virgin America that was directed by G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Step Up 2 helmer Jon M. Chu, which became a viral sensation with 5 million YouTube hits. VPI will be wired to be irreverent and o respond to a movie-hungry young audience in the Indian market, where over half the population is under 25. Read More »

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Chris McQuarrie To Direct ‘Star Blazers’ From ’70s Sci-Fi Anime Series For Skydance

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Skydance Productions has set Christopher McQuarrie to write and direct Star Blazers, the live-action adaptation of the space-set 1970s anime TV series also known as Space Battleship Yamato. McQuarrie, Josh C. Kline, David Ellison and Dana Goldberg will produce, and Shouji Nizhizaki and Paul Schwake will be exec producers.

Skydance had set McQuarrie to write back when it acquired the series in 2011. In the futuristic Star Blazers, Earth’s atmosphere has been obliterated by a distant alien race, and the survivors have one year before radiation will reach their underground refuge and wipe out the human race. The survivors get a shot of hope in the form of alien technology that can deliver a small crew across the universe and back with the means to stave off extinction. The intention is to hatch a franchise from a series that was ahead of its time, coming before Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. It becomes another big-scale film for Skydance — which is coming off World War Z, Star Trek: Into Darkness and G.I. Joe: Retaliation – with Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit coming in January. Skydance is working with Paramount and Annapurna on the Terminator reboot, and is developing Geostorm, a global disaster film which Dean Devlin will direct from a script he wrote with Paul Guyot.

McQuarrie is repped by CAA, Key Creatives’ Ken Kamins … Read More »

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Dwayne Johnson Toplines ‘San Andreas’

By | Monday October 14, 2013 @ 5:36pm PDT

Dwayne Johnson will star in the disaster pic San Andreas for New Line. He’ll play a rescue-chopper pilot who treks across an earthquake-devastated California in search of his estranged daughter. Brad Peyton, who directed Johnson in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, will helm San Andreas. The actor’s recent credits include G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Pain And Gain, and he next appears in Hercules: The Thracian Wars and Fast & Furious 7. He is repped by WME, the Garcia Companies and Gang Tyre.

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