Saban Films launched just before Cannes in May and made a statement by acquiring Tommy Lee Jones’ Competition title The Homsesman, which it will release in the U.S. via Roadside Attractions. It was the first glitzy step in a plan to release 8-10 commercial, talent-driven features per year via a distribution partner. Now it has more help under the division’s president Bill Bromiley: Jonathan Saba has been tapped as VP Marketing and Azniv Taschyan as VP Finance.
Tentpole director-producer Michael Bay has extended and expanded his first-look agreement with Paramount Pictures. The new deal, just announced, extends the current agreement with Bay’s production company Platinum Dunes for an additional three years, and also expands it to cover Bay Films. The pact begins immediately. This seems like a no-brainer for the studio: Bay’s pics have made more than $6 billion at the global box office, and his hits for Paramount include the Transformers series, the latest of which, Transformers: Age Of Extinction, is at $966.4 million worldwide since its release a month ago. In all, the four pics have grossed $3.7 billion.
“With an ever-growing, worldwide fan base, Michael is truly one of the most inspired and beloved filmmakers of our time,” Paramount chairman and CEO Brad Grey said. “We take great pride in the fact that Michael is part of the Paramount family and we look forward to growing our productive and successful partnership.”
Bay’s other popcorn pics include The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, The Island, the Bad Boys movies and Pain & Gain. Platinum Dunes partners Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form are next up with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in August, horror pic Ouija and Project Almanac and a Friday The 13th reboot due in 2015.
Platinum Dunes is having a good run on the TV side too, with The Last Ship debuting this summer as cable TV’s top new series, and Starz’s swashbuckling pirate adventure series/Treasure Island prequel Black Sails, which seems destined for a third-season pickup.
In a world … that’s not underwater, the denizens of Bikini Bottom must recover a mysterious book that — oh, forget about the plot. Just go get your kids and behold the first trailer for SpongeBob: Sponge Out Of Water, the second big-screen romp for the Nickelodeon stalwart and his briny chums. The 3D pic from SpongeBob SquarePants vet and rookie feature director Paul Tibbitt follows the CGI adventures of our porous hero along with Patrick, Squidward, Sandy, Mr. Krabs and Plankton, as they venture onto terra firma for the first time. Look for bikini babes and Slash, listen for “Welcome To The Jungle” and Antonio Banderas as Alameda Jack. Paramount opens it February 6:
Celluloid lives to film another day: “After extensive discussions with filmmakers, leading studios and others who recognize the unique artistic and archival qualities of film, we have in place a plan that will enable us to continue production” of film stock, Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke says. The company once famous for “Kodak moments” will make about 450M linear feet of film — about 1/28 its output in 2006 as Hollywood has shifted to digital recording and projection.
Kodak was about to go to zero — with plans to close the last remaining film production plant, in Rochester, NY — before directors including Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Judd Apatow, and J.J. Abrams and several studios lobbied for a reprieve. (Abrams is shooting Star Wars Episode VII on film.) Kodak relented after Warner Bros, Universal, Paramount, Disney, and Weinstein Co. committed to buy a set amount of film stock for several years, the company says, confirming a report in The Wall Street Journal.
In its first collaboration, Paramount Digital Entertainment is teaming with Pitch Perfect’s Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman’s Brownstone Productions banner on the workplace comedy Resident Advisors. Banks and Handelman will exec produce and Ira Ungerleider (Friends) has come aboard to shepherd the project as both exec producer and director. Natalia Anderson will produce based on a pilot script written by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Alex Reid. The ensemble cast includes Ryan Hansen (2Broke Girls, Burning Love), Jamie Chung (Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, The Hangover Part II & III), Alison Rich (College Humor Originals), Andrew Bachelor (House Of Lies), Graham Rogers (Revolution) and Anna Camp (Pitch Perfect). Series is set in the most hormonally overloaded, sexually active, out-of-control workplace in the world: a college dorm. It follows a group of resident advisors as they navigate sex, drugs, and midterms.
Just back from Comic-Con, Paramount has released a trailer for its upcoming November 7 Christopher Nolan sci-fi mystery Interstellar starring Matthew McConaughey as a haggard, ex-pilot father of two, who has to leave his kids behind while he heads to outer space. Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine also star. It’s no secret that Nolan is making a number of homages to one of his fave films, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The director, who made his first Hall H appearance at the San Diego fanboy confab last week, told the crowd: “I grew up in a time when being an astronaut was the highest ambition of any child. The idea that we’d keep exploring space seemed an inevitability.” Check it out:
The fanboy Super Bowl is over. Who made the most of San Diego Comic-Con and who spit the bit? Here’s the view from Deadline staffers who endured endless movie and TV show presentations. We’ll start with features:
WARNER BROS: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Mad Max: Fury Road, Jupiter Ascending, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
The best Comic-Con panels show fans things they’ve never seen before. From that standpoint, Warner Bros changed the game by making the Hall H experience seem larger. It turned the dark curtains covering 450 feet down the sides of the auditorium into a wraparound multimedia visual experience that left jaded geeks looking left and right in wonder at images that complemented the onstage presentation. Expect others to rip this off. For star power: Zack Snyder introduced his Batman v Superman stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Gal Gadot and offered glimpses of the film. Warner Bros also wowed with explosive footage from Mad Max: Fury Road, a film that looks like it could be the answer someday to this Trivial Pursuit question: What movie transformed Tom Hardy from a great actor into a big fucking movie star? Warner Bros also brought Middle Earth excitement to Hall H with a lengthy Hobbit: The Five Armies panel and footage that had LOTR fans aflutter.
MARVEL: Ant-Man, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Marvel is always the must-see panel; not so much this year. Maybe it was DC Comics’ turn to shine, and maybe being a sequel factory imposes limits on the surprise front. They trotted out the superstar Avengers lineup — been there, done that! — with additions Josh Brolin, Aaron Johnson, and Elizabeth Olsen. No Black Widow Scarlett Johansson, who was busy bitch-slapping Hercules at the box office in the Luc Besson film Lucy. Footage was OK, but Kevin Feige set a high bar for himself in past Cons, and this year he couldn’t clear it. Ant-Man brought Corey Stoll and Evangeline Lilly (already knew they were in the movie), and plans for a Guardians Of The Galaxy sequel were greeted by a collective “Duh!’ Feige could have told us what movies will fill all those release dates he recently staked out. He didn’t. Better luck next year, Marvel Man.
To quote the Thing from the Fantastic Four – “It’s clobberin time!” Just two days after Jack Kirby was honored at Comic-Con, lawyers for the heirs of the comic legend have replied to Marvel and Disney with a pummeling brief filed at the Supreme Court. “Respondents, although called to respond, do not address the legal issues. Instead, they focus on the wrong questions and the wrong court,” say lawyer Marc Toberoff and Tom Goldstein, a new attorney on the case, today. After failing repeatedly in lower courts, Lisa Kirby, Neal Kirby, Susan Kirby and Barbara Kirby petitioned the High Court on March 21 for a hearing. The heirs want SCOTUS to rule in favor of their assertion that they had the right in 2009 to issue dozens of termination notices to Marvel and others on the artist’s characters under the provisions of the 1976 Copyright Act.
UPDATE: SEC Investigating DreamWorks Animation Writedown On ‘Turbo’; Shares Fall After Q2 Earnings Miss
UPDATE: DreamWorks Animation just disclosed the SEC investigation in its conference call with analysts and says it’s cooperating. The company took a $13.5M writedown on Turbo in February. DWA told analysts that it won’t comment further on the matter. Shares were down 8.2% after the news; if that holds tomorrow then it would be a 52-week low.
Separately, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg declined to comment on the potential impact on his company if its distributor, Fox, acquires Time Warner. “Honestly, it’s way above my pay grade,” he says.
DWA said that it has bought from Paramount distribution rights to its feature films prior to 2013. They’ll now all be handled by Fox.
Katzenberg calls 2014 an investment year for DWA as it builds consumer products, TV programming, digital, and location-based entertainment. He adds that, generally speaking, the film “marketplace has gotten tougher. We’re competing against more movies than we have in the past.” Still, he says DWA is examining the lower-than-expected sales for Dragon 2.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Nat Geo Wild Orders More Of Arrow’s ‘Animal Fight Night’; ‘The Voice’ Sings In Croatia, India; ‘Top Gear’ Falls Foul Of Ofcom; More
The UK’s Arrow Media has received a commission for six more hours of its wildlife show Animal Fight Night which premieres on Nat Geo WILD in the U.S. on August 18 before rolling out internationally in September. Animal Fight Night was first launched in the U.S. in October last year. It was Arrow Media’s first move into natural history programming and the company later received orders for Building Penguin Paradise (Nat Geo WILD) and Dogs: Their Secret Lives (Channel 4). Each Animal Fight Night episode uses CGI to recreate and examine same species battles between animal world adversaries and dissects the science behind the tactics and bodily weapons that various creatures employ.
FINAL: Intl Box Office: ‘Apes’ Dawns Again; ‘Godzilla’ Stomps Japan; ‘Hercules’ Muscles In; ‘Transformers’ $300M+ In China; Asia Action Ramps Up; More
3RD UPDATE, MONDAY 3:10 PM PT: All studios have reported actuals for the international weekend with no major discrepancies between the cumulative estimates reported Sunday and what’s come across today. Across the top titles, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes was up a tick to $54.84M from an estimated $54.4M; Transformers: Age Of Extinction was slightly lower at $36.9M versus $37.5M; Hercules was smack on with $28.7M; and How To Train Your Dragon 2 was up a whisker at $24.4M versus the $24M estimate.
One notable factoid is that for the 2nd weekend in a row, numbers on Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore comedy Blended are higher than expected. Yesterday, they were estimated at $3.8M in 47 markets. Today, Warner says the actuals are $4.25M. That takes the overseas cume to $66.6M – the domestic cume was $45.4M. In Brazil, the film has been especially strong, adding $1.7M this weekend for a local cume of $6.8M and a slight 18% drop from last frame. When I asked what the deal is with Sandler, Blended and Brazil, I was told that his films are roundly popular there where family fare is also big – and this one is now bigger than Grown Ups, 50 First Dates, Bedtime Stories, Don’t Mess With The Zohan and Chuck And Larry.
Along with the above films, all figures throughout the below have been updated on: Planes: Fire & Rescue, Godzilla, Step Up All In, Sex Tape, The Purge: Anarchy, Maleficent, The Fault In Our Stars, Mrs Brown’s Boys D’ Movie, 22 Jump Street, Deliver Us From Evil, Neighbors, Kick, Edge Of Tomorrow, and Boyhood.
15th UPDATE, Monday, 2:00 PM: Lucy ended up the weekend just shy of $44M while Hercules did better on Sunday to get $29.8M and several other films did a notch better than expected from Sunday moviegoers. And So It Goes ended up right at $4.6M. Ugh. The Fluffy Movie was on only 432 screens and will remain on those going into the weekend (results below).
Next weekend, all eyes are on the new openers — Marvel/Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Universal’s James Brown biopic Get On Up — to lift the box office out of its summer slump. And Guardians is likely to do just that. It’s tracking right now between $65M and $75M and veteran distribution executives think it could go higher. It’s 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes right now and seems to be getting positive reaction on all sides. And why not? It’s a really entertaining film, filled with unexpected humor and a raccoon character that kind of steals the show. Right now, Get On Up is tracking around $15M to $20M so between that and the second weekend of Lucy, Universal should end up with the No. 2 and No. 3 spots. Here’s the Top 20 chart … until next weekend when the Star Lord arrives:
1). Lucy (UNI), 3,173 theaters / 3-day cume: $43.9M / Per screen average: $13,835 / Wk 1
2). Hercules (MGM/PAR), 3,595 theaters / 3-day cume: $29.8M / Per screen: $8,289 / Wk 1
Four years ago, a modern dude quartet took a booze-soaked soak in a hot tub and were hurled back to the Reagan era. Now Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke are suited up for the sequel (though John Cusack isn’t) and are joined for Round 2 by Adam Scott and Gillian Jacobs. This time when our heroes fire up their watery wayback machine, they accidentally are sent to the future. And of course they must alter said future so they can preserve the past — which is really the present. Got that? Anyway, Steve Pink returns to direct from a script by Josh Heald, who co-wrote the 2010 original. Paramount will unwrap Hot Tub Time Machine 2 on Christmas Day. Until then, here’s the decidedly NSFW redband trailer:
Paramount scored the first bona fide surprise of Comic-Con when Christopher Nolan strode onstage in Hall H. After some evasive small talk, Nolan showed the very first trailer for Intersteller. Much like Nolan’s Inception, which was too complicated to describe in a sound bite, the trailer basically showed enough footage to convince you that you are going to want to see this when it opens in November. With Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway leading his cast, it also showed that Nolan might very well have a major entry in the Academy race on his hands.
Basically, the trailer established that the world needs saving and that it’s down to McConaughey. A widowed and haggard father of two, he is loathe to leave behind his children but finds himself on what seems to be a space mission, though you get the clear impression time travel is part of this mix. Nolan cited Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 as a major sci-fi influence in his life, and you can see that he has tried to make something as ambitious, in his own way. It was Nolan’s first visit to Hall H, because all of his Comic-Con bait films were in various states of production or post production during previous geek fests. He was introduced by Matthew McConaughey, all cool and lean from his turns in Dallas Buyers Club and True Detective. Both of them soaked up the geek love, while playing hard to get. Asked if there was
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has a problem. Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch is preparing to sweeten his offer for the owner of Warner Bros, CNN, and HBO after it rejected an $80B cash-and-stock proposal last month. And Bewkes, who says he wants to keep Time Warner independent, has few takeover defenses. What can he do? Here are a few of the leading options that Time Warner execs and their advisors at Citigroup are weighing.
Combine with CBS: This would make Time Warner toxic for Fox: The FCC would not allow Murdoch to control two of the four biggest networks, and two of the largest TV station groups with overlaps in the nation’s largest markets.
And the business logic of a Time Warner-CBS combination is compelling. CBS chief Les Moonves would like to diversify his company to make it less dependent on domestic TV advertising. (He has already said that he’d like to buy CNN if Fox prevails with Time Warner and puts the news channel on the block.) Moonves also has made it clear that he’d like to play a bigger role in movies — his CBS Films appears to be struggling to figure out its identity. CBS could address these concerns by blending with Time Warner’s cable channels and movie studio.
The chief obstacle is that CBS is controlled by Sumner Redstone, who also owns Viacom. He hasn’t wanted to give up either property, and some bankers believe he’d prefer to …
The adaptation of Anne Rice‘s best-seller is set to hit theaters March 23, 2016, the Wednesday before Easter. Christ The Lord is a fictional account of young Jesus as he comes to discover his real identity and the truth surrounding his birth. It was greenlighted during Cannes in May and is set to begin production September 15 in Italy. No cast is in place, but Cyrus Nowrasteh (The Stoning Of Soraya M.) will direct from a script he wrote with his wife Betsy. Enzo Sisti (Passion Of The Christ) is executive producing. The wide-release pic will arrive two days ahead of its weekend competitors Beverly Hills Cop 4 from Paramount and Warner Bros’ Geostorm.
At the onset of USA’s Dig panel at Comic-Con, the creators and pilot director behind the action miniseries tubthumped extensively how their project is an anomaly in so far that it’s a show set in Jerusalem, shot in Jerusalem. “Shooting there is paramount to the story in capturing the vividness and emphasizing the characters of the show,” said Dig pilot director S.J. Clarkson. (Watch the trailer below.)
Emphasizing their point, the creators went so far as to show a behind-the-scenes clip of the cast and crew wowing about how riveting it is to shoot in Jerusalem. Then, when asked by Deadline about the production’s status, particularly as it relocates to Albuquerque, New Mexico in the wake of turmoil in Gaza, executive producer Gideon Raff explained, “We shot everything we need for the pilot and now we are relocating to Albuquerque but also scouting locations internationally that will be our new Jerusalem. We are committed not to give up based on what happened.”
Paramount marketing chief Josh Greenstein and former Fox marketing guru Tony Sella are two of the leading contenders Sony brass are eyeing to come into their executive ranks following the exit of distribution and marketing executive Jeff Blake this week. Insiders caution that there are several others are in the mix too, including execs currently at the studio. Sony CEO Michael Lynton and chair of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group’s Amy Pascal said as much on Tuesday. Specifically, Lynton said, “Right now we are going to leave the existing structure under Jeff in place, and we will be looking both internally and externally to replace Jeff.” The studio already has shored up exec Doug Belgrad and gave him a new title (President of the Motion Picture Group) and expanded duties over marketing and distribution. Also this week, longtime Sony Pictures EVP Elizabeth Cantillon left her production post to become a producer with a three-year first-look deal at the studio. So the restructuring at Sony continues.
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.