Jose Padilha & Eric Newman Team For John Hlavin’s WWII Revenge Pitch ‘Nekome’

By | Wednesday April 16, 2014 @ 9:24am PDT
Mike Fleming

ericnewmanpadilhaEXCLUSIVE: GrandElectric Entertainment, a new shingle formed by ex-Strike Entertainment partner Eric Newman, has teamed with director Jose Padilha‘s Cold Mountain to preemptively purchase Nekome, a period action pitch by John Hlavin. Studiocanal will finance development and production of the film.

The title is the Yiddish word for revenge and the film is set in the days following the end of World War II. Two young Holocaust survivors are sent by the Jewish underground to Brazil to hunt down and kill the escaped Nazis who ran their concentration camp. The film will shoot in Brazil. Studiocanal is committed to finance the film, but Newman and Padilha retained distribution rights in Brazil, where Padilha is a movie god after his Elite Squad films. Read More »

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Starz Sets Premiere Date For Drama ‘Power’, Releases Key Art, Theme Song By 50 Cent

By | Tuesday April 8, 2014 @ 1:38pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

powerkeyartStarz‘s new original series Power will debut at 9 PM Saturday, June 7. The pay cable network made the announcement in conjunction with the release of “Big Rich Town”, a new music video by Power executive producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. The single was created specifically for the show and will serve as the main title theme. It features never-before-seen footage from the New York-based crime drama from writer Courtney Kemp Agboh, which is set in two different worlds, the glamorous New York club scene and the brutal drug trade. “For me, the musical component of Power is so important,” Jackson said. “I wanted to let the music speak to the viewers as they are watching the show and being able to create the theme song, ‘Big Rich Town’, was crucial as it sets the tone of the show.” Power centers on James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), the owner of an up-and-coming new nightclub in New York with plans to build an empire who also is a drug kingpin. Watch the video here.

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Noah Segan Joins Chilean Action Star Marko Zaror In ‘Redeemer’

By | Wednesday March 26, 2014 @ 12:52pm PDT

Noah Segan Redeemer EXCLUSIVE: XYZ Films‘ action pic Redeemer just got more international with the addition of actor Noah Segan (Looper, Brick), who’ll co-star opposite martial artist Marko Zaror (Expendables 2, Machete Kills) in the pic now filming in Chile. In his fourth team-up with director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza, Zaror stars as an ex-hitman who’s made a deal with God to hunt down the men he used to work for. Segan’s come aboard to play an unhinged American expat businessman-cum-kingpin with a thing for Chilean culture who zeroes in on Zaror when his money goes missing. The casting is unusual in that he’ll play his character in English within the otherwise Spanish-language pic – a development that arose when the filmmakers tailored the role for Segan, who is also joining the project as a producer alongside Zaror, Espinoza and Diego Moral Heimpell. Read More »

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Desmond Harrington Joins ABC Series ‘Astronaut Wives Club’; Victor Garber & Sonya Walger In Starz’s ‘Power’

Dexter alum Desmond Harringtondesmond1 has signed on to ABC’s 10-episode summer drama series Astronaut Wives Club, from Fake Empire, Groundswell Productions and ABC Studios. Written by Stephanie Savage based on Lily Koppel’s book, it tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history during the height of the space race. Harrington, repped by UTA and Untitled, will play Alan Shepherd, one of the Mercury 7 astronauts and the first American in space. Despite a playboy reputation, he and his wife Louise were married for 53 years.
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UPDATE: Warner Bros’ Next Whitey Bulger Move: Ease Rift With Ben Affleck And Matt Damon

Mike Fleming

UPDATE, 12:04 PM: By damon_affleckWarner Bros jumping aboard the high-profile Johnny Depp-Joel Edgerton pic Black Mass, it means the studio won’t be taking on another Whitey Bulger project in its own backyard: the one that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon had been developing for a couple of years as a starring vehicle for Damon via their Warners-based Pearl Street Films. I’m hearing that Affleck and Damon were given a day or two advance notice that the studio was putting its eggs in the Black Mass basket, but that news came just a day before the latest rewrite was turned in by Aaron Stockard, who worked with Affleck on The Town and Gone Baby Gone and who rewrote the script by Oscar nominated The Wolf Of Wall Street scribe Terence Winter. There was much enthusiasm, then radio silence, and then…Naturally there are bruised feelings that Warners will have to repair with two of its most valuable players, as this was the first project pitched for Affleck to direct and Damon to star after Pearl Street inked its overall deal there, and I’m told the studio assured the pair it wanted to make their movie.

warnerbrosThis is all a part of the big rough and tumble game of studios needing to fill slates, and clearly someone was going to come out first with a Bulger biopic. But there are plenty of reasons to smooth any ruffles here. Affleck is directing and starring in Warner Bros’ Live By Night, an epic period crime drama that he adapted from the best-selling novel by Dennis Lehane, author of Affleck’s first directorial outing Gone Baby Gone. It’s the follow-up to the Best Picture Oscar winner Argo he made for the studio. He also is playing Batman in Warner Bros’ Batman Vs. Superman. Read More »

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Berlin: Radius-TWC Pays $2 Million For Pablo Escobar Pic ‘Paradise Lost’

Mike Fleming

escobaEXCLUSIVE: Radius-TWC has closed a deal to pay $2 million to Pathe for North American rights to Paradise Lost. The Andrea Di Stefano-directed film stars The Hunger GamesJosh Hutcherson as a young surfer who visits his brother in Colombia and falls in love with the country, especially when he meets and marries the gorgeous girl of his dreams. Then he finds himself sucked into the family business. She’s the niece of notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, who’s played by Benicio Del Toro. The film also stars Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene’s Brady Corbet and newcomer Claudia Traisac.

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The film has been slated for release later this year by Radius, whose presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego have now made three deals during an otherwise sluggish Berlin (not counting TWC’s $7 million acquisition of The Imitation Game). Radius also snapped up the Salma Hayek thriller Everly and the Danish horror pic When Animals Dream. The label’s got some momentum, with two Oscar nominations for the docus 20 Feet From Stardom and Cutie And The Boxer.

Paradise Lost is produced by Dimitri Rassam and and co-produced by Romain Le Grand on behalf of Pathe and Frédérique Dumas on behalf of Orange Studio. Miguel Angel Faura from Spain’s Roxbury and Belgium’s uMedia also co-produced.

traisQuinn and Janego confirmed the deal. “We have been tracking this project for months and could not be more energized by Benicio’s  outstanding performance, Josh’s extraordinary turn and Claudia Traisac’s star-making role,” the pair said. “Di Stefano has delivered the goods and we feel privileged to be working alongside him on this fantastic film.” Read More »

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Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

By | Sunday February 9, 2014 @ 5:11pm PST

Catch up on Deadline’s top film stories you missed this week:

James Franco The RoomJames Franco’s Production Company Acquires Book About So-Bad-It’s-Good Cult Movie ‘The Room’
By The Deadline Team – James Franco’s Rabbit Bandini Productions has optioned book and life rights to The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the book published last fall by Simon & Schuster from actor Greg Sestero and journalist Tom Bissell.

BOX OFFICE: ‘Lego’ Blockbuster $69M+; ‘Monuments Men’ Solid Second; ‘Vampire Academy’ Has No Bite
By Anita Busch The Lego Movie is in the record books as the biggest animated pic opener of all time for Warner Bros., surpassing Happy Feet which opened to $41.5M in 2006 (and went onto gross $384.3M worldwide). It’s also the biggest opener ever for the studio in February.

Universal Closes $1 Million Spec Deal For ‘Mena,’ 80s Drug Tale Ron Howard Will Direct
By Mike Fleming Jr.EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures today closed a $1 million spec deal for Mena, a script by Gary Spinelli that has Ron Howard attached to direct.

Benedict-CumberbatchBerlin Record Deal: Harvey Weinstein Pays $7 Million For Alan Turing WWII Tale ‘The Imitation Game’
By Mike Fleming Jr.EXCLUSIVE: In what I am told will go down as the highest price paid ever for U.S. rights on a movie at the European Film Market, The Weinstein Company has locked a deal to pay $7 million for The Imitation Game, the Graham Moore Black List script that Morten Tyldum directed with Benedict Cumberbatch playing Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the Allies win WWII. Read More »

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Berlin: Johnny Depp Seals Deal To Play Whitey Bulger In ‘Black Mass’; Tom Hardy In Talks To Play FBI Pal John Connolly

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Johnny Depp has made his deal to star in Black Mass, hardyThe Lone Ranger --UK Film Premierethe drama Scott Cooper will direct about the Boston crime kingpin-turned-fugitive Whitey Bulger, for Cross Creek Pictures and Exclusive Media. Now, they are in early  talks with Tom Hardy to play John Connolly, the FBI agent and childhood pal of Bulger, who is in prison for tipping Bulger that he was about to be indicted. That led Bulger to go from ruthless Boston crime kingpin to the top of the FBI’s Berlin2014_200most wanted list. Domestic distribution hasn’t yet been decided and there are some territories that Exclusive is selling at Berlin, a task made easier by these casting developments.  Production will begin in May.

Depp was originally expected to play Bulger when Barry Levinson was attached to direct, but the deal fell through over money even though the deal was near $20 million. Deadline revealed last month that talks had rekindled with Depp, and this has now become a blue-chip project, particularly when Crazy Heart and Out Of The Furnace helmer Cooper boarded it. The script is by Mark Mallouk, who adapted the 2001 Dick Lehr/Gerald O’Neill New York Times bestseller Black Mass: The True Story Of An Unholy Alliance Between The FBI And The Irish Mob. Read More »

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Berlin: Focus Features Pacts With Sales Outfit Sierra/Affinity

BerlinFilmFestival_badgeAmid last year’s shake-up at Focus Features, the group’s international sales arm was shuttered. Focus is now turning to Nick Meyer’s Sierra/Affinity to handle rights outside North America on select titles from the company. The formalized relationship will complement the activities of Universal Pictures International, which distributes Universal and Focus movies internationally. The new tie-up had been expected, notably after Sierra/Affinity took over Mike Flanagan’s Oculus and follow-up, Somnia, at the AFM, both of which were previously with Focus Features International. The relationship with Focus and Sierra/Affinity kicks off at this EFM where the latter will service existing licensing and distribution agreements on Kevin Macdonald’s Black Sea and Jeremy Renner-starrer Kill The Messenger, a hot property for FFI last Berlin. Click over for more details on the new pact: Read More »

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Berlin Briefs: Nicolas Cage In Talks For ‘Men With No Fear’; Tom Berenger Stars In Western ‘Lonesome Dove Church’

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BerlinFilmFestival_badgenicolas-cageWriter-director Paco Cabezas’ heist thriller Men With No Fear is coming to Berlin’s European Film Market this month, with Nicolas Cage in negotiations to star  and The Exchange setting a deal to finance and sell worldwide rights. Bryan Singer and Jason Taylor of Bad Hat Harry Productions are producing. The movie centers on Marty ‘The Mule,’ newly released from prison after being set up by his former boss Frank, a smalltime neighborhood crook. While Mule was locked up, Frank went big time and became a ruthless drug kingpin. But Frank also took Mule’s most precious item — his son, raising him like his own. But now Mule is back on the streets and ready for revenge. Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Ellen’ Is First U.S. Daytime Talk Show In China; Starz’s ‘Power’ To Premiere At MIP-TV; More

China’s First Daily U.S. Talker? ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’
The Ellen DeGeneres Show has become the first U.S. daily talk show to be carried in China with the current 11th season now available on-demand via online video service provider Sohu Video. Episodes of the Warner Bros International Television Distribution property will be subtitled in Chinese and delivered within 48 hours of the original U.S. broadcast. Ellen is the top-rated daytime talk show in the U.S. with women 25-54. The talker seems well-suited to the Chinese audience with its brand of family-friendly humor and big stars. Here’s a clip of DeGeneres welcoming her new audience:

Starz’s ‘Power’ To Premiere At MIP-TV
Power, the Starz original series exec produced by Curtis Jackson (aka 50 Cent) will have its world premiere at this April’s Starz_logoMIP-TV market in Cannes. MIP-TV and sister market Mipcom have been increasingly drawing big-ticket premieres and talent to the Riviera in recent editions. In October, Mipcom hosted the world premiere of The Tunnel, the Franco-British adaptation of The Bridge. The eight-episode first season of Power was created by showrunner Courtney Kemp Agboh. Jackson also stars in the story of a wealthy New York City nightclub owner (Omari Hardwick) who caters to the city’s elite. He’s also living a double life as the kingpin of the most lucrative drug network in New York. His marriage, family and business all become unknowingly threatened as he is tempted to leave his criminal life behind and become the rags-to-riches businessman he has always dreamed. Mark Canton, Randall Emmett and David Knoller also serve as executive producers. The screening will be held April 7. Read More »

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‘Out Of The Furnace’ Helmer Scott Cooper In Talks For ‘Black Mass;’ Johnny Depp Talks To Play Whitey Bulger Reignite

Mike Fleming

scottcooEXCLUSIVE: Scott Cooper is negotiating to rewrite and direct Black Mass, the drama about the Boston crime kingpin-turned-fugitive Whitey Bulger, for Cross Creek Pictures and Nigel Sinclair and Guy East’s Exclusive Media, with Universal releasing through Cross Creek’s distribution deal with the studio. And guess what? Talks have rekindled for Johnny Depp to possibly play Bulger in the film. You’ll recall he was nearly set last year, but talks fell apart over money.
The subject matter is irresistible. Bulger had risen to the top of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List when he disappeared for a decade before he could be put behind bars. Many felt he could never have gotten that far without the help of John Connolly, an FBI agent and childhood pal of Bulger and his brother William, the former president of the Massachusetts Senate. Joel Edgerton had been in talks to play the FBI pal. Connolly was tasked with bringing down the Italian mob, and he was aided by Bulger, who burnished his own position as Boston crime kingpin by getting rid of the competition for his Winter Hill gang. Connolly was lauded for his work before things went south for him. He eventually was convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice for aiding Bulger, who is currently in a Massachusetts state prison for second-degree murder. Read More »

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Annie Mumolo Joins NBC’s ‘About A Boy’; Diane Neal Boards Starz’s ‘Power’

By | Tuesday December 17, 2013 @ 2:05pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

mumoloActress/writer Annie Mumolo, who co-wrote the 2011 blockbuster comedy Bridesmaids with Kristen Wiig, has joined NBC‘s midseason comedy series About A Boy in a major recurring role. The single-camera comedy, written by Jason Katims based on the Nick Hornby book, follows the relationship between Will (David Walton), a bachelor man-child, and the young boy who moves in next door with his kooky single mother, Fiona (Minnie Driver). Mumolo will play Laurie, the wife of Will’s best friend Andy (Al Madrigal). The role was played in the pilot by Anjelah Johnson. Mumolo toplined ABC’s comedy pilot Middle Age Rage last season. Read More »

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‘Prisoners’ Helmer Eyeing Tense Mexican Border Crime Drama ‘Sicario’ For Black Label

By | Friday December 6, 2013 @ 11:36am PST
Mike Fleming

villEXCLUSIVE: Hot off helming the kidnap thriller Prisoners, Denis Villeneuve is circling Sicario, a Taylor Sheridan-scripted drama that is fast coming together with Black Label financing, and producing with Basil Iwanyk’s Thunder Road. Black Label is the finance/production company formed by Molly Smith, Trent Luckinbill and Thad Luckinbill. Just as Villeneuve’s films Prisoners and especially Incendies presented thrillers with complex moral dilemmas and shocking conclusions, Sicario presents a similar opportunity for the filmmaker. It focuses on the murky legal loophole that allows mercenaries to breach the border of Mexico to corral drug kingpins, as long as they are accompanied by a legitimate law officer. In this case, a female cop from Tucson accompanies two delta force-type rangers across the border to apprehend a drug lord. Once across the border, the cop finds she has stepped into No Country For Old Men terrain, with violence and depravity she never imagined. I’m told that distributors are sparked about this one, and that CAA will broker the domestic deal. The Canadian helmer is being courted for other films, but this certainly sounds like this is right in Villeneuve’s wheelhouse.

Related: Denis Villeneuve Inks Overall Deal With Alcon

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Elizabeth Rohm & J.R. Ramirez Join Starz’s ‘Power’; Rachel Blanchard In FX’s ‘Fargo’

By | Thursday November 21, 2013 @ 8:00pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Elizabeth Rohm and J.R. Ramirez have joined the cast of Starz’s drama series Power, about wealthy New York City nightclub owner James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), who wants to build an empire and turn the club into a Fortune 500 business. But there’s just one problem: He is living a double life. When he is not in the club, he is the kingpin of the most lucrative drug network in New York for a very high-level clientele. Read More »

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Starz Series ‘Power’ Adds La La Anthony

By | Thursday November 14, 2013 @ 7:20am PST
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Actress/DJ/TV personality La La Anthony (Think Like A Man) has joined the cast of Starz’s drama series Power, which also has added theater actor Andy Bean and Debbi Morgan. The project tells the story of wealthy New York City nightclub owner James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), who wants to build an empire and turn the club into a Fortune 500 business, but there’s just one problem: He is living a double life. When he is not in the club, he is the kingpin of the most lucrative drug network in New York for a very high-level clientele. Anthony, star of VH1′s reality series La La’s Full Court Life, will play LaKeisha Grant – childhood friend to Tasha St. Patrick (Naturi Naughto) and her closest confidant who is kept in the dark on certain aspects of Tasha’s life out of necessity. She is repped by APA, Untitled and Rosenfeld Meyer. Bean, repped by TalentWorks and Magnolia Entertainment, plays Greg, Angela’s (Lela Loren) super-fit and over-protective boyfriend who is not what he seems. Morgan, repped by Hartig Hilepo Agency, Will play Estelle, Tasha’s mom.

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Hiroyuki Sanada To Co-Star In CBS Series ‘Extant’; Starz’s ‘Power’ Casts Trio

By | Friday November 8, 2013 @ 6:00pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada, recently seen in The Wolverine, is set to co-star opposite Halle Berry in CBS’ upcoming summer drama series Extant, from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV and CBS Studios. Created by Mickey Fisher, it centers on an astronaut (Berry) who returns home from a year-long solo mission in space and tries to reconnect with her husband and son in their everyday life. Her experiences in space and home lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history. Sanada will play a wealthy technological genius who put his wealth to work privatizing the world’s space programs into a single entity. The actor — repped by CAA, Axon Entertainment, Lighthouse Entertainment and Sheppard, Mullin — just finished voicing a character in Universal’s Despicable Me Minions spinoff and will next be seen as the chief Samurai Oishi in Universal Pictures’ 47 Ronin and the Weinstein Co’s The Railway Man.

Related: Halle Berry To Topline CBS Series ‘Extant’ Read More »

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AFM Hot Titles: Better Quality Pix In The Mix

By | Wednesday November 6, 2013 @ 5:05pm PST
Mike Fleming

AFM kicked off today, and my has that indie business changed over the years. The schlock is almost all gone, and the chase is on for fewer movies of higher quality, with recognizable stars and filmmakers who have classed up a business. The elevated level of product has been made possible by studios vacating the tweener film space, leaving a lot of orphaned development available to the indies.

That means it’s a lot less fun. When I first got to Variety in the ’90s, I was dispatched to AFM and asked to come back with a report about what it all meant. A distributor friend recounted observing a stranger who was going around making tiny offers on films for his obscure home territory. Based on what he was buying, he seemed to have zero taste. Finally, somebody stopped the guy to see what he was doing. Turned out he was a distributor — but produce, not movies. He had a chain of outdoor vegetable stands, and showed movies to his customers. The worse the film, the more vegetables his patrons bought to throw at the screen.

Any thoughts I had that this was a too-good-to-be-true story faded when I got there. You could throw a rock and hit Fred Williamson, the gridiron great-turned-star of many forgettable action films. And hey, be careful, you almost stepped on Nelson de la Rosa, the world’s smallest man who would go on to become Brando’s sidekick in The Island Of Dr. Moreau. The halls were lined with one-sheets where all the creativity went into the titles. And while the Weekly Variety AFM issue was thick as a phone book, I’d hear salesmen grumble about getting stiffed for ads on movies that didn’t sell.

Aside from a few titles still exploiting the bogus Sharknado craze, it’s a world of different now. The schlock meisters are relics, and the projects ringing the bell with distributors coming from all over the world are the ones that have name directors like Woody Allen, David Koepp, Tom Tykwer, Tommy Lee Jones, and stars like Meryl Streep, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Stone, Colin Firth, Ian McKellen, Jesse Eisenberg, Tom Hardy, Andrew Garfield, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Russell Crowe, Michael Fassbender and Nicole Kidman. These are studio-caliber names.

“You will see the occasional hilarious poster, but since the high end studios abandoned everything but superheroes, the independent financiers and producers have been the beneficiaries,” said Millennium Films president Mark Gill. “Olympus Has Fallen would have had studios all over it five years ago. We were able to do it.” Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: Girls Impact The World, Dubai Fests Partner On Filmmaker Prize; ‘The Wolverine’ Tops In China; More

Girls Impact the World And Dubai Fests Team On Film Prize
The Girls Impact the World Film Festival and the Dubai International Film Festival have partnered to offer a new prize, the DIFF Prize for Advancing Women and Girls. The prize will be awarded to an aspiring student filmmaker from the Middle East and North Africa region for a short original film on an issue related to the advancement of women and girls globally. The winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship award. The submission deadline is December 31. Entries will be judged by a panel that includes Jeff Skoll, Christy Turlington-Burns, actor Ian Somerhalder, and Paley Center CEO Pat Mitchell. The winning submissions will be screened — and the final winner selected — at an awards ceremony at Harvard College on February 22. Guidelines and entry requirements can be found here.

‘The Wolverine’ Claws Its Way To $14.4M Opening In China
Fox’s The Wolverine opened in China this weekend, taking $14.4M from Friday through Sunday. After four days in release, it had earned $18.3M through last night, according to FilmBizAsia. The film was No. 1 at the box office and outperformed 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which earned a total of $13.2M. The Wolverine was ahead of Donnie Yen’s new Chinese entry Special ID, which opened on Friday to $10.9M. Last week, magic/heist thriller Now You See Me was the top pic at the box office, but fell sharply in its second weekend, FBA said. Tsui Hark’s hot Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon, is closing in on $98.5M and Huayi Brothers Media Corp said Monday that it was lowering its box office revenue share from 43% to 30% in an effort to get the film across the line. Read More »

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