8th UPDATE, 9:40 PM and 10:34 PM: Lucy is having a ball (okay, I know that’s lame), but Universal Pictures certainly is. How high can she rise? Right now, all bets are on that the Scarlett Johansson sci-fi actioner should kick in over $42M for the three-day weekend for director Luc Besson — maybe even as high as $44M. The picture has enjoyed a very good Friday with about $15.4M (and that includes the almost $2.8M it grossed Thursday night). In the No. 2 spot is, as expected, is Paramount/MGM’s Hercules whose estimates didn’t strengthen much throughout the day and is still expected for an $11M Friday for a weekend around $28M to $30M. Chalk it up to the star power of Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson.
Fox’s The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will take the No. 3 spot in its third week of release for a $17.3M three-day and the horror flick The Purge: Anarchy is in the No. 4 spot with $10.4M for Universal. After the distrib. added 50 theaters, it is nonetheless falling about 65% in its second weekend and going the way of most horror flicks that burn hot and then go out. Still this low-budget Blumhouse dystopian flick will have grossed about $52M after the weekend. No small wonder why the studio did a deal with the profit-maker Jason Blum this past week. Rounding out the Top Five is the flyover holdover Planes: Fire & Rescue … Read More »
Looks like the greater Marvel Universe is officially coming to the upcoming Marvel’s Agent Carter – at least behind the camera. It was announced today during the Marvel TV panel at Comic-Con that Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Joe and Anthony Russo will be helming the second and third episodes of the ABC series set to debut in 2015. Captain America: The First Avenger director Joe Johnson will helm the fourth episode, with Marvel Studios co-president Louis D’Esposito set to direct the first one.
Related: TCA: ABC Sets Fall Premiere Dates
The announcements were made after a short teaser video was shown to a packed Ballroom 20. Mostly a voice-over via President Harry Truman, the post-WWII-set series promised fans that they would discover a “different side of the Marvel Universe.” Agent Carter picks up in 1946 and the first version of S.H.I.E.L.D. coming together as the Cold War heats up. Marvel TV boss Jeph Loeb said the show hasn’t started stated filming and the writers room opens next week.
The cast of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. was also on the panel with Clark “Agent Phil Coulson” Gregg coming out to a thunderous standing ovation. The panel confirmed Lucy Lawless will join the show in the second season as a longtime S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Isabel Hartley. British actor Nick Blood will also join as a mercenary, and Reed Diamond, who appeared on Joss Wheldon’s 2009 Fox series Dollhouse, will also be added. The panel was treated to a specially made video of Patton Oswalt in his S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Billy Koenig role jokingly lecturing the crowd on security.
Related: ABC Picks Up ‘Marvel’s Agent Carter’, Renews ‘Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’
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EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros hosts its Comic-Con panel tomorrow morning where Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is expected to be front and center, but here’s a morsel to nibble on today. I’m hearing that after he absolutely crushed the script on that film, Oscar-winning Argo scribe Chris Terrio is being courted by the studio to come aboard and script its Justice League movie. That superhero mash-up will be DC Comics‘ answer to Marvel’s Avengers juggernaut. Not that well known prior to Argo, Terrio has fast become an A-list scribe, and a favorite of writer-directors. He’s got Bunker Hill with Ben Affleck, and The Foreigner, among several big pics. Terrio’s repped by WME.
Related: Zack Snyder Locked For ‘Justice League’
Affleck’s going to star as Batman in the Zack Snyder-directed Justice League and Henry Cavill will reprise Superman, while Gal Gadot will play Wonder Woman and Game Of Thrones alum Jason Momoa is on the docket to play Aquaman. Might be the highest-priority film at Warner Bros for new film division managers Greg Silverman and Sue Kroll.
Related: Comic-Con: Ben Affleck As Batman Shows Up … Sort Of
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures is setting Edgar Wright to direct Grasshopper Jungle, the acclaimed Andrew Smith YA novel that is being adapted by Beautiful Girls scribe Scott Rosenberg. Rosenberg is producing with Amazing Spider-Man‘s Matt Tolmach and they will be joined by Nira Park, who is at the center of all Wright’s films. Wright, you’ll remember, recently squashed his participation in Ant-Man, the Marvel Studios film that has Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas still starring, because he and Marvel clashed over visions for the wannabe franchise. Wright is staying in insect mode, but moved onto a project that suits his sci-fi sensibility and teams him with Rosenberg, as distinctive a dialogue writer as Wright is a visual director of popcorn films.
Wright’s importance here at Comic-Con wasn’t lost on me yesterday as I walked among the throng and noticed that right between the two men holding the bright yellow signs reminding us we should repent and are going to hell, a guy held an equally bold sign on a wooden stake that read “Edgar Wright Was Right.” Whether that was for him sticking to his guns on his version of Ant-Man or something else, the filmmaker is beloved here. I’ve seen him speak in years past at Marvel panels as the difficult visual effects that will shrink Ant-Man were being harnessed, and last year he was here vamping The World’s End, the alien-attacks-pub-crawlers film that was the third in the Cornetto Trilogy he made with Nick Frost and Simon Pegg.
Grasshopper Jungle, which is best described as Stand By Me meets Attack The Block, seems right in Wright’s wheelhouse. It’s a coming-of-age story that focuses on an Iowa teen trying to come to grips with his own raging hormones and sexual feelings as he and his cohorts cause a deadly genetically engineered plague that unleashes an army of 6-foot-tall praying mantises. Those bugs live the life these guys wish for, acting on an insatiable appetite for fighting, food, and fornicating. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Don’t expect Patrick Wilson, Matt Gerald and Kevin Weisman to be at tomorrow’s Marvel Studios Hall H presentation at Comic-Con. That trio has dropped out of the ever-morphing Ant-Man movie that has Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas and The Hobbit‘s Evangeline Lilly starring. The movie has been in some state of flux after director Edgar Wright dropped out over differences in creative vision with Marvel’s Kevin Feige, so not surprisingly there is speculation that the trio’s exit is for the same reason that Wright departed and was replaced by Peyton Reed. Marvel insiders adamantly dispute that.
Related: Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari In Negotiations For ‘Ant-Man’ Rewrite
We’re told by insiders that Gerald and Weisman’s characters were omitted in the newly evolved version of the script. Wilson, on the other hand, had a scheduling conflict as production on the movie got delayed, and that is why he won’t be there. Lilly is at Comic-Con to tour a children’s book and Peter Jackson’s final Hobbit installment, The Battle Of The Five Armies. We wouldn’t be surprised to see her at the Marvel panel along with Rudd, Douglas and Reed. Feige always pulls out the stops on Comic-Con, so we expect star-studded updates on Avengers: Age Of Ultron and some vamping on the imminent release Guardians Of The Galaxy. Feige is always good for a few … Read More »
Marvel Studios‘ next potential franchise has a director and a writer, and now it the Doctor himself might be in. Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix is in talks to star in Doctor Strange. Those negotiations should put to an end all those Benedict Cumberbatch rumors blowing through the halls here at Comic-Con. The Wrap got this first one first. Marvel has been culling through a list of aspirants that included Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy and Jared Leto. The studio has been teasing references to the Doctor, most recently he got a shout out in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Scott Derrickson is directing and Jon Spaihts is writing the script for the pic (the first draft was penned by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer). Doctor Strange was hatched by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko during that Marvel Comics heyday of the early 1960s. He’s a neurosurgeon who becomes Sorcerer Supreme, protecting Earth against magical and mystical threats with powers of sorcery, mysticism, and martial arts. Marvel’s Kevin Feige is producing.
Phoenix had more than a few people calling doctor strange when he played a quirkier version of himself in that wannabe rapper docu I’m Still Here. But when you see his work in films from The Master to Her, it’s hard to find many leading men who do it better and commit to character the way he does. He’ll be back on the awards circuit most likely in the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed … Read More »
With the power of fans growing and the influence of TV reviews declining in the age of social media, the once marque summer TCA press tour has been taking a back seat to Comic-Con. Once again, the Los Angeles critics convention served as a warm-up for the San Diego geekfest, with the networks trying to save their noisy announcements for the Con. But what would’ve been another uneventful summer TCA was livened up by two big consolidation stories that broke in the first and second week — 21st Century Fox’s decision to put both the broadcast network and 20th Century Fox TV under the studio’s chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman, and the company’s (for now unsuccessful) bid to acquire Time Warner.
The first news, which had been widely expected, was met largely with approval as an inevitable move in an industry where owning content is becoming more and more important. CBS has helped grow CSI into a billion-dollar franchise for the parent company, which owns the show. Compare that with The Big Bang Theory, which CBS developed and nurtured to a blockbuster hit that would make as much as $3 billion — for another company, Warner Bros. TV. Watching how much money it has made for WBTV, with the Chuck Lorre series, and for 20th Century Fox TV, with How I Met Your Mother, the network focused on growing its own syndicatable comedies, recently renewing CBS Studios-produced The Millers for a second season. During CBS’ TCA executive session, chairman Tassler was asked whether ownership played a role in the decision to renew The Millers over two 20th TV freshmen, The Crazy Ones, which drew bigger DVR ratings increases, and Friends with Better Lives, which showed better retention. “We will never ever, ever discriminate based solely on ownership,” Tassler said. “We feel that The Millers has a lot of great story material still imbedded in the DNA of the show.” Read More »
Here’s some food for thought for Comic-Con: Paul Rudnick, the fine playwright and screenwriter of such films as Jeffrey, Addams Family Values and The Stepford Wives, has made a Facebook post on how ever-evolving movie superheroes can really change the spandex game. Under the heading Supergay, he writes:
“Marvel has announced that in an upcoming edition, Thor will be a woman, and that the new Captain America will be black. And while there have been gay superheroes, and Archie Andrews has recently taken a bullet for his gay friend, Kevin, we could still use a re-thinking of a central icon. Because if Superman was gay:
- It would explain the cape.
- Because he’s such a good guy, he’d still save people in the states where he couldn’t get married.
- He’d get really tired of the “So are you seeing Batman?” jokes, especially because they met on Supr, a hookup site for heroes, and it didn’t really click. Read More »
DreamWorks Animation might take it as a good sign that the mere sound of Benedict Cumberbatch‘s voice — and the vision of him in character as an animated wolf in Penguins Of Madagascar – elicited screams in Hall H this morning at Comic-Con. Cumberbatch, who’s making his first stop at the San Diego fan convention this year, also stars in Comic-Con fave Sherlock and Peter Jackson’s upcoming The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies. Not that distracting Sherlock chatter was welcome at the DWA panel: “Any questions about Sherlock, and Comic-Con is CANCELLED,” joked moderator Craig Ferguson.
Cumberbatch stars in Penguins as Classified, the leader of secret animal agent operation The North Wind who teams with Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private to stop new villain Dr. Octavius Brine. John Malkovich stars as Brine and also made his maiden voyage to San Diego Comic-Con for the panel. “This your first Comic-Con? You’ll fit right in,” Ferguson quipped to Malkovich. Studio pushed the Madagascar spin-off hard, unveiling 20 minutes of footage from the November 26 release.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘The Penguins Of Madagascar’
There is also speculation and hotfire rumors that Cumberbatch will be announced to star in Doctor Strange, Marvel’s franchise-launching film that will be directed by Scott Derrickson and penned by Jon Spaihts. Cumberbatch has been deflecting questions left and right — maybe more clarity is to come at the Marvel presentation Saturday?
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Comic-Con 2014 officially opens today and tens of thousands are descending on San Diego to pick up their passes and prepare for four days of special screenings, studio and network panels, and previews. Having already hit the ground running, Deadline is here with Mike Fleming Jr leading our film coverage along with Jen, while Dominic and Anthony D’Alessandro handle the TV side. (Dominic will also be moderating FX’s Archer panel this year.)
Of course, veteran heavyweights like HBO’s Game Of Thrones and AMC’s The Walking Dead will be packing the mammoth Hall H on the TV side. HBO’s True Blood, a longtime fave in its final season, is set to make its Comic-Con bow Saturday in Ballroom 20, as is Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, which just wrapped its first season and has its panel this evening. Repping the big screen side, studios are putting their tentpole wares out there with presentations by Marvel and Warner Bros with The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and Mad Max: Fury Road among others.
Below we spotlight a few special events on the schedule that you don’t want to miss. (For the full TV and film lineups, go here and here.) Read More »
Once again it’s the networks that have poured big money into blanketing downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter in promo materials, with a few exceptions. Besides Showtime’s Penny Dreadful being on all the lanyards for the more than 130,000 attendees, here’s what’s greeting Comic-Congoers on the ground as Wednesday’s Preview Night kicks into gear ahead of the Thursday-to-Sunday rush (check back for more glimpses from geek ground zero throughout the week):
Related: Comic-Con 2013: TV Outrunning Film As Race To Blanket San Diego Hits High Gear (PHOTOS)
NBC’s Constantine (above) has a blazing standee of star Matt Ryan on display to get audiences used to seeing the Welsh thesp as DC Comics antihero John Constantine. Show debuts October 24. Elsewhere around Comic-Con’s downtown HQ, a massive banner for TNT’s August-premiering series Legends, starring Sean Bean and Ali Larter, has taken another chunk of prime eyeball real estate. Read More »
UPDATED, 3:15PM: As folks head south for Comic-Con, Disney and Marvel have announced yet another mystery movie, this one set to kick off the 2018 summer season. Marvel Untitled — that “title” sound familiar? — will invade a megaplex near you on May 4, 2018. This makes a half-dozen of their TBA superhero flicks set to open 2017 and 2019.
PREVIOUSLY, July 18: Just in time for Comic-Con, Disney has press-dumped a quintet of release dates for untitled Marvel films that fanboys and girls can spend the weekend agonizing over before the Con. They’ll open two films in 2017, on July 28, 2017 and November 3, 2017, followed by two more in 2018 on July 6, 2018 and November 2, 2018. The summer/fall double hitter strategy stops (as far as we know) in 2019, when Marvel will release one new to-be-identified pic on May 3, 2019.
We’ll know next week if Disney/Marvel reveal any of this extended lineup in San Diego, though the studio might as well use it as more ammo to drive fans to its own D23 fan confab. Read More »
Composers from a number of Marvel and DC film and TV projects will be talking about their craft at the second annual “Musical Anatomy of a Superhero” panel tomorrow, Thursday, July 24th, from 3-4 PM in the Hilton Bayfront Indigo Ballroom. John Ottman (X-Men: Days of Future Past,Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer), Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy, Salem) Brian Tyler (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Blake Neely (CW’s The Flash, Arrow) and Christophe Beck (Frozen, Edge of Tomorrow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) will take attendees behind the scenes on their musical process and show clips, some never-before-seen. The event is produced by Costa Communications.
San Diego Comic-Con has become more than a place for film studios to vamp their upcoming superhero movies. Now, they use the geek frenzy to stake out release date turf. Days after Disney and Marvel declared release dates for a flurry of superhero films the studio isn’t even ready to identify yet, Columbia Pictures has set its release plans and formalized plans to expand its $4 billion Spider-Man universe. As expected, the next film in the series will be Sinister Six, writer-director Drew Goddard’s bad guy mash-up, which is the first of several planned character and story expansions. That film has been dated for release November 11, 2016, with Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach producing.
Columbia will then release the third installment of The Amazing Spider-Man in 2018.
The studio also announced that it has slated Uncharted for June 10, 2016, the date originally held by The Amazing Spider-Man 3. The adaptation of the Sony PlayStation vidgame will be directed by Seth Gordon, and the latest draft of the screenplay is being written by David Guggenheim. They haven’t set a star to play Nathan Drake; I’ve heard they are trying to pull Mark Wahlberg back into the mix, but the studio and the actor’s reps say nothing is happening. That film will be an Arad/Atlas Entertainment Production, produced by Charles Roven, Avi Arad, Alex Gartner and Ari Arad. Read More »
Here’s one to get the Comic-Con crowd going as things ramp up in San Diego. I’m hearing that Edgar Wright has found his next film, after stepping away from Marvel’s Ant-Man. Wright’s looking to next direct Baby Driver for Working Title Films. The project, which Wright wrote, is described to me as a collision of crime, action, music and sound. That sounds like a close cousin to the Cornetto Trilogy of films that Wright did at Working Title, but at this point at least, it doesn’t appear that Nick Frost and Simon Pegg are part of this. They made the three comedies World’s End, Hot Fuzz and Shaun Of The Dead together. Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing with Nira Park. This is all happening on a fast track, and I will keep you posted as more details emerge. It isn’t at a studio yet, but Working Title’s deal is at Universal and so it seems natural that the film will be made there or by Focus Features, which released World’s End. CAA and Anonymous Content rep Wright.
2ND UPDATE, MONDAY 3:20 PM PT: Updated figures for the international weekend have come in with all studios reporting. Among the top movies in the marketplace, Transformers: Age Of Extinction‘s 4th frame was up from original estimates to $84.6M in 58 territories ($662.6M cume), and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes was slightly higher than predicted in its 2nd frame with $61.93M on 10,347 screens in 51 markets ($103.6M cume).
Also of note, Fox’s The Grand Budapest Hotel has officially passed $110M internationally, adding $491K in 15 territories this weekend. Meanwhile, Boyhood, which Universal is releasing most everywhere overseas, added 60 locations in its 2nd UK frame. The result was a 0% drop from last week with $537K at 89 dates. The UK/Ireland total is now $1.5M (£892K). With the buzz growing, Universal is looking to continue the pattern by increasing the number of screens in more regional areas this Friday. In the next few days, the studio says the Richard Linklater drama will best the director’s Before Sunset (£932K) and A Scanner Darkly (£995K) to become his 2nd biggest film in the market behind School Of Rock.
Updated throughout the below are figures on the above films as well as Planes: Fire & Rescue, Sex Tape, The Purge: Anarchy, How To Train Your Dragon 2, Step Up All In, Maleficent, Blended, The Fault In Our Stars, 22 Jump Street, Edge Of Tomorrow, X-Men: Days Of Future … Read More »
8th UPDATE, Monday, 1:32 PM: It was a down weekend. After the dust cleared today, we can see the final dips: The calendar year-to-date is down 6% with the weekend of the Top Ten from last year to this year down 25%. All films added in, the business is down 23.9%. Given that all pictures underperformed a bit, here are the final box office numbers as they look this morning. Of all the newbies, The Purge: Anarchy actually was able to gross the high end of yesterday’s estimate and ended with $29.8M. Both Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue and Sony’s Sex Tape took more of a hit, both off just a tad from their yesterday expectations; neither performed well. Meanwhile, Earth To Echo and Maleficent came in only $29K apart and the more exciting part of this box office weekend was that the smaller films did exceptionally well. Dinesh D’Souza’s controversial documentary America from Lionsgate, at No. 12, held quite well, down only 30% as did Jon Favreau’s Chef (Open Road), which even after dropping about 150 locations saw a significant jump on Saturday and ended the weekend at $25.9M. Another bit of sweet news was the solid per-screen number of Richard Linkaleter’s little masterpiece Boyhood (IFC) which held a nice $34,418 per screen; its cume is now $1.785M after two weeks in a platform release. The Top 20 chart follows: Read More »
This weekend’s domestic box office was off a whopping 28 percent, which has people wondering why. Could it be the quality is just not there? “Yeah, what the hell is going on, right?” said one distributor when I asked. “It’s content driven. We’re in a slump at the moment, but next year will be better. This year, I don’t think it’s any indication that problems are anything but the content.” As in quality, or lack thereof, and I think that most Deadline readers would concur that though this summer has seen some gems (like The Fault in Our Stars, Apes, Heaven is For Real), they’ve wrapped around some real stinkers (A Million Ways to Die in the West, Moms Night Out).
By the way, Paramount’s Transformers:Age of Extinction has made $659.1M internationally and around $228M to date domestically, is on track to become the 19th picture ever to move past the $1B mark and could end up in the Top Ten all-time worldwide grossers. But others have fallen flat. As we’ve noted in the past, it’s a cyclical business. Some of the pictures from 2014 moved to 2015 to avoid having to deal with the World Cup. Next summer looks more promising: the April 3rd release of Fast and Furious 7, followed in May by the highly-anticipated The Avengers: Age of Ultron and then The Fantastic Four, Jurassic World, Ted 2, Minions and Terminator.
But here’s the question: When will the industry see a movie that will go four consecutive weekends in a row at No. 1? (see chart below, courtesy of Rentrak). And could Disney/Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy do it? Read More »