The movie isn’t out until May 2014 but Legendary Pictures tonight provided a glimpse in San Diego at what their Godzilla is going to look like. And while not a scene from the movie itself, you do get an up close and personal look at the monster as he almost sticks his head though the window-like screen. (Or just a smudge? Yes, it’s a lousy pic – but the first one.) Transformed was a section of Downtown San Diego into Tokyo street scenes full of monster paraphernalia, underground decontamination bunkers, and abandoned skyscrapers looking out over a destroyed city. The studio’s multi-level Godzilla Encounter is a theme park experience that lacks a theme park. But Legendary execs insist that’s not what Godzilla Encounter is aiming for. “We wanted to do something for the fans to give them a look at the legacy of Godzilla and a sense of the movie,” Legendary president Jon Jashni told me tonight. Of course now that Legendary are leaving Warner Bros, who is releasing Godzilla, and partnering with NBCUniversal in a five-year deal, theme park experiences are a certain part of the company’s future. However, that deal only allows Legendary to license the rights to NBCUniversal’s theme parks of properties they hold the IP to. Legendary are licensing the movie rights to the Godzilla character from Japanese corporation Toho Co. in an agreement …
Less than a week before their Hall H panel, Legendary today rolled out a Comic-Con message from Gareth Edwards from the set of the monster movie reboot. The Godzilla helmer says the company has “something very exciting planned” for this year’s SDCC. “Something very big is heading to San Diego,” Edwards adds. Legendary has set up a website reminiscent of the kind of thing we see every Christmas from NORAD that tracks a strange object originating from the North Pole. This new site has various pseudo-official like warnings of “oceanic anomaly” and the like. Also, a building on the city’s 7th Avenue and J Street has been decorated in very Godzilla-like graphics. Check out Edwards on SDCC here:
The official schedule isn’t out until tomorrow, but expect a big July 20 presence from Legendary at Comic-Con this year. Even with the split between Thomas Tull’s company and Warner Bros seemingly inevitable, Legendary will be holding branded panels for Godzilla, Seventh Son and other projects in the cavernous Hall H during WB’s block on that Saturday, I have learned. Both the still-filming monster movie and the Jeff Bridges-starring fantasy adventure pic are being distributed by WB under their current deal with Legendary. Like last year, the company will also be flying its Legendary Comics banner with a booth on the floor of the San Diego Convention Center. Additionally, Legendary has a monster-themed event scheduled in SD on the evening of July 16 just before Comic-Con opens. A showstopper at Comic-Con in 2012, the Legendary & WB Guillermo del Toro-helmed pic Pacific Rim comes out on July 12 this year. Godzilla bows wide on May 16, 2014.
The legal battle between Legendary Pictures and producers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison over the Godzilla reboot seems more and more certain to be headed to trial. “We’re not interested in arbitration, we want a jury to hear this case”, said the producers’ lawyer Stanton L. Stein in a hearing today in LA Superior Court. With his clients Lee and Lin looking on, Stein made clear that a jury trial is still his goal despite an agreement today by all parties to pursue mediation. “I understand why they don’t want public scrutiny of this case. I understand why they don’t want their behavior being made public”, he added of Legendary’s efforts to have the case moved to private arbitration.
Back in January dueling suits were filed between the producers and Legendary after the studio sought to remove them from the project with a tiny $25,000 payout. The trio countered with a cross complaint January 17 accusing Legendary of breach of contract. Lin, Lee and Davison are seeking millions in compensatory damages, screen credit, and participation in sequels, prequels, or further remakes. As this legal tussle continues, Godzilla is currently in production in Vancouver with the movie set for a May 16, 2014 release.
EXCLUSIVE: Sally Hawkins has nabbed the final lead role in Godzilla, the monster movie that Legendary and Warner Bros kicked off shooting last week in Vancouver. Hawkins (Happy Go Lucky) will play a scientist alongside Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, David Strathairn, Brian Cranston and Juliette Binoche. Gareth Edwards is directing Godzilla, which is slated for a 3D release on May 16, 2014. Max Borenstein, Frank Darabont and Dave Callaham wrote the script.
Hawkins recently starred in Constellations, the Nick Payne play that had a sold-out run at the UK’s Royal Court Theatre and then the West End. Her upcoming films include Almost Christmas with Paul Rudd and Paul Giamatti, which will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, and Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine which opens July 26. She is repped by ICM Partners, Principal LA and John Grant in the UK.
Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures today announced final principal casting for Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, which begins filming today in Vancouver. Ken Watanabe, repped by WME and ROAR, joins Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn, and Bryan Cranston in the reboot that is slated for a 3D release on May 16, 2014. Edwards is helming from a script by Max Borenstein, Frank Darabont, and Dave Callaham. But the producer roll call is where things get awkward: Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni are confirmed as producing with Mary Parent and Brian Rogers, but there’s no mention of Roy Lee, Dan Lin, and Doug Davison, the trio of producers who were iced out of the project they claim they brought to Legendary in the first place. Back in January dueling suits were filed between the trio and Legendary after the studio sought to remove them from the project with a mere $25,000 payout. Lee, Lin, and Davison countered with their own cross complaint accusing Legendary of breach of contract and seeking millions in compensatory damages, screen credit, and participation in sequels, prequels, or further remakes or compensation thereof.
Producers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison today launched their own lawsuit in the escalating legal war over the Godzilla reboot. The duo filed a suit against Legendary Pictures in LA Superior Court on Thursday, with the cross complaint alleging breach of contract among other counts (read it here). Seeking a jury trial and millions in damages, this latest legal action also names fellow Godzilla producer and Legendary President/CCO Jon Jashni as a defendant. Legendary’s Chairman and CEO Thomas Tull was not named in the suit. Today’s action comes in response to Legendary’s suit earlier this month to have Lee and Lin and fellow producer Davison removed from the movie with a $25,000 payout. An action that today’s cross complaint says came about only because the trio of producers were going to assert their claims to a project that that they say they brought to Legendary and that they developed.
EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures is eyeing Kick-Ass star Aaron-Taylor Johnson to star in Godzilla, the Gareth Edwards-directed reboot of the franchise based on the iconic Japanese reptile. I’m told that Johnson, who starred in the Oliver Stone-directed Savages and Anna Karenina and followed by reprising in Kick-Ass 2: Balls To The Wall is the frontrunner for the job. He won’t make a final decision on whether or not to take the offer until he sees the final polish that Frank Darabont is writing based on the Max Borenstein script.
Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni are taking the creative lead on this project — they just put Mary Parent on after she became a producer of Pacific Rim — and Warner Bros is distributing everywhere except for Japan. There, rightsholders Toho will handle the release. While there has obviously been a legal dust-up in the producing ranks, the film is still on course to begin production in March, with the film dated for a May 16, 2014 release. If he takes the gig, Johnson could well have a second franchise, not at all a bad thing for a young actor. He’s repped by WME and Brillstein, and Christian Hodell in the UK.
Legendary Pictures today filed suit (read it here) against producers Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Doug Davison to have them removed from the Godzilla reboot. The company also wants the court to order arbitration to stop a potential temporary restraining order by the defendants against the film’s production. The new Godzilla is scheduled to be released by Warner Bros and Legendary on May 16 2014. “This dispute…concerns Defendants’ assertion that they are entitled to substantial producing fees and backend compensation on the Film,” claims Legendary in the suit. Lin Pictures and Vertigo Entertainment are also named as defendants in the case.
The complaint for Declaratory Relief filed in LA Superior Court Wednesday by The Dark Knight Rises and 300 producers claims that all is owed to the Warner Bros lot based Lin, Lee, Davison and their respective companies is $25,000 as agreed upon in the March 2011 Producer Loan Agreement the parties drafted. “Defendants would be entitled to certain backend compensation only if the Film were ‘produced substantially under the supervision’ of Defendants,” says Legendary in their suit. In their court documents, Legendary claims that it brought the trio on board soon after acquiring the rights to the Godzilla character from Japanese corporation Toho in March 2010. …
UPDATE: Mary Parent Boarding ‘Godzilla’, Which Is Getting A Frank Darabont Rewrite And Losing Roy Lee And Dan Lin
UPDATE, 1 PM:: I can understand why Godzilla is trying to shed producers, because there are plenty. Mary Parent is about done with a deal to come aboard on the producer roster. Parent, whose Disruption banner is based at Paramount, takes the job after working closely with Legendary on the Guillermo del Toro-directed Pacific Rim.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 8:42 AM: As it stomps its way toward a March production start, Godzilla has two significant developments in the offing. Frank Darabont, who veered into genre territory by launching the AMC series The Walking Dead, has been hired by producer-financier Legendary Pictures to do a final rewrite on the script that was written by The Seventh Son scribe Max Borenstein.
At the same time, Warner Bros-based producers Dan Lin and Roy Lee, who were among the producers who came into Legendary with a Toho rights deal for the iconic reptile, are in a huge battle with the financier-producer. Legendary, which now controls the rights, wants to drop the producers from the film. As it stands right now, the 3D picture will be produced by Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni, along with Brian Rogers, the latter of whom was on the ground floor of the Toho deal. The film will be directed by Monsters helmer Gareth Edwards and has been dated for May 16, 2014 release.
BREAKING: Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures have set their reboot on the Godzilla franchise for May 16, 2014. And it will be in 3D. The move was made by studio domestic distribution president Dan Fellman and international distribution president Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, along with Legendary Pictures. The film got a rousing reception at Comic-Con in San Diego over the summer.
The Gareth Edwards-directed film is being made in partnership with rights owner Toho. Godzilla has appeared in more than 25 films, multiple television programs, video games and book series. Legendary, which has been developing the project, and its partner Warner Bros. will return the character to its epic roots with a gritty, realistic actioner. The project will fall under Legendary’s overall agreement with Warner Bros. Warner Bros will release it worldwide except in Japan, where Toho will release it.
Edwards previously directed Monsters, and here will be helming a script by David Callaham (The Expendables films), David S. Goyer (the Dark Knight trilogy) and Max Borenstein (The Seventh Son). Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni will produce, along with Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Brian Rogers. Alex Garcia and Patricia Whitcher will serve as executive producers alongside Doug Davison, Yoshimitsu Banno and Kenji Okuhira.
Luke Y. Thompson is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of Comic-Con.
For the Warner Bros/Legendary panel Comic-Con‘s big screen expanded to Cinerama proportions to impress fans with Pacific Rim and Godzilla teases while Man of Steel moved at least one fan to tears. For good measure, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey footage mixed familiar and new. Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick, dressed as David Tennant’s Doctor Who, moderated what was probably the most anticipated panel of the convention. He came in with a Sonic Screwdriver remote control, and suddenly two extra giant side screens were revealed as the black curtains peeled back. (Sort of like the Terminator 3D screen at Universal Studios.) This feels like what Cinerama was always supposed to be.
Legendary’s Thomas Tull came onstage, saying that his having a mic up there was a sign of the apocalypse, then briefly showed off how all the screens worked together for a Pacific Rim tease (metallic panels, serial numbers, vague sketches of pods – a mere taste for what was coming). Then Guillermo del Toro came out to say, in his inimitable, profane-comic fashion, “I’m shitting in my pants right now.” As he spoke and was pictured on the center screen, production designs and on-set footage flanked him on the side screens. He said it was important to have a sense of romantic adventure — not a war movie. And that it was important to have a sense of awe in a movie with giant robots and monsters. Del Toro said this will be the only thing shown until Christmas, and that this footage was just for us at Comic-con. Admonished “you motherfuckers with the James Bond cameras in the glasses, take them off.”
There was a huge reaction for Charlie Day coming out, and Ron Perlman (only in cavernous Hall H). Charlie Hunnam and Rink Kikuchi followed. Cheers for them too, but not quite as extra loud. How does Perlman feel about coming to Comic-Con? “It’s a miracle I’m still invited.” He says Guillermo’s standards are clearly plummeting since he keeps inviting Perlman back.
EXCLUSIVE: David Goyer has worked with Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures on both Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy and the new Superman reboot Man Of Steel. Now the in-demand writer will pen the screenplay, from a draft written by David Callaham, for Legendary Pictures’ new version of Godzilla. The project will fall under Legendary’s overall agreement with Warner Bros while Toho Company, which own the rights to the oversized reptile, will distribute the film in Japan. Toho’s Godzilla franchise boasts one of the most widely recognized film creatures worldwide, resulting in a series of books, television programs, video games and more than 25 films worldwide. Legendary intends to approach the film and its characters in the most authentic manner possible and was smart to get a pro like Goyer on board so early in the process since he has so much experience creating franchises. Of course, Sony Pictures in 1998 tried to jumpstart a Godzilla franchise and that disappointed. And the first Godzilla movie came out in 1954 which was an indictment of nuclear wweaponry. Gareth Edwards is attached to direct the Legendary project. Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni will produce on behalf of Legendary. Goyer is repped by CAA.
Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros finally closed a deal with Toho to do another Godzilla. This has been going on for a year or so. Surely there will be 3D like in the Legendary/Warners Clash of the Titans. But can they breathe fire into an over-sized lizard that seemed out of gas in a 1998 Roland Emmerich-directed TriStar version considered a pricey disappointment? Anybody got ideas on how to make this reptile relevant?
EXCLUSIVE: After turning the Jackie Robinson-Branch Rickey story 42 into a hit, Legendary Pictures is now targeting Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi for a feature film. Legendary has made a deal with All Is Lost and Margin Call writer-director J.C. Chandor to write with an eye to direct a feature about the coaching legend who led Green Bay to five NFL championships and the first two Super Bowl titles. Legendary, whose principal Thomas Tull is a part owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and a passionate pigskin fan, will produce the film with Mary Parent. She produced Pacific Rim and Godzilla for Legendary. Tony Ponturo and Fran Kirmser will be exec producers.
Chandor, who made his feature directing debut on his Oscar-nominated script Margin Call, is once again in the awards season conversation for his follow-up All Is Lost, which stars Robert Redford as a man struggling to survive on the open seas. Chandor is casting up his next directorial outing, A Most Violent Year, which will star Jessica Chastain with production to begin early next year.
He has already begun writing the new film, and Legendary has assembled a rights package that includes a deal with the Lombardi estate, as well as the Broadway play written by Eric Simonson that starred Dan Lauria and Judith Light. That play was based on the David Marannis book When Pride Still Mattered, and that is also part of the package.
EXCLUSIVE: They’ve cast one of the final major roles in Fifty Shades Of Grey, the Universal Pictures and Focus Features adaptation of EL James’ global bestseller that stars Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele and Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey. Victor Rasuk has been set to play Jose, the aspiring photographer and classmate of Anastasia, whose close friendship with the young girl — he’d like it to be more — pits him as rival for her affections with Grey, the wealthy businessman whose warped past leaves him with a need to dominate his partners and unable to accept Anastasia on equal terms (yes, I read the damn book).
UPDATE, 7:35 AM: IMAX‘s stock price is down about 6% in early trading after Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter lowered his earnings estimates, citing disappointing Q3 box office sales. Sony’s Elysium, Warner Bros’ Pacific Rim, and Universal’s Riddick “likely did not perform at the levels we initially expected,” he says this morning. That led him to chop his revenue estimate for the quarter by 9.4% to $58M, with his earnings forecast down 53% to 7 cents per share. But he’s holding firm on his estimates for Q4 until he has a better handle on how audiences will respond to expected hits led by Warner Bros’ Gravity and The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, and Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY PM: Today was at least the second day this week that an analyst has questioned the large-screen movie company’s growth prospects — and it contributed to a 4.4% drop in the stock price.
Yurusarezaru Mono, the Warner Bros Japan-produced remake of Clint Eastwood’s 1992 Best Picture Oscar-winner Unforgiven, had its official screening here in Venice on Friday night. The out-of-competition selection met with widely positive reactions, especially for the strong cast and lush cinematography by Norimichi Kasamatsu. When the Japanese project was originally proposed, Eastwood was consulted for his yea or nay. He gave his approval, and I’m told that he has seen and likes the finished product. The movie next heads to Toronto, and Warner opens it in Japan on September 13th. I understand it’s being trailered locally with Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, the box office hit that had a berth here in competition.
Directed by Lee Sang-il, Yurusarezaru Mono hews very closely to the original film’s arc. Here, a legendary former Samurai is coaxed out of retirement – and a vow of non-violence – by an old friend seeking a reward for avenging a knife attack on a prostitute (check out the trailer). The island of Hokkaido in 1880s Meiji era Japan steps in for Wyoming and Samurai replace gunslingers, although there are still plenty of guns to go around. Ken Watanabe stars in the Eastwood role, veteran actor Akira Emoto has the Morgan Freeman part, Kôichi Satô steps in for Gene Hackman and Yûya Yagira, who won Cannes’ top acting prize for 2004’s Nobody Knows, is the young upstart. Kill Bill‘s Jun Kunimura, who featured in Venice Horizons hit Why Don’t You Play In Hell?, also appears in the role that Richard Harris originated.
Universal and its new co-production/co-finance partner Legendary Entertainment are in serious discussions about Thomas Tull’s company coming aboard Dracula: Year Zero, the origin pic that has Gary Shore aboard to direct and Luke Evans starring as the immortal bloodsucker from Bram Stoker’s iconic novel. It would be Legendary’s first project since the Batman-Hangover-Pacific Rim-Godzilla producer-financier inked a wide-ranging deal in July with NBCUniversal after leaving longtime home Warner Bros. Tull’s company made its name at Warners with big-budget genre fare, so Dracula seems a good fit. Universal has already set an August 8, 2014 release date for the bloodsucker pic so there’s little time to waste. Dominic Cooper and Zach McGowan star in the movie, which Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless wrote and Michael De Luca and Alissa Phillips are producing. Variety first reported the talks. Before its current incarnation, the Dracula project was close to a production start with Sam Worthington starring and Alex Proyas directing, only to see Universal close the coffin because the budget was too high. Proyas eventually left to direct Paradise Lost, which had its plug pulled coincidentally by Legendary Pictures over high costs.