EXCLUSIVE: Filming in the Hollywood Hills has wrapped on The Invitation, the latest feature from Girlfight‘s Sundance award-winner Karyn Kusama and the helmer’s first since 2009′s Jennifer’s Body. It’s also the second feature to be backed by femme-focused Gamechanger Films, the film fund established last year to finance narrative features helmed by women in an effort to equalize gender disparity in film. The first Gamechanger project, road tripper Land Ho! co-directed by Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz, sold out of Sundance in January. Sony Classics opened the pic on Friday.
The Oscar organization has unveiled its annual invitees list for 2014. Check out the release below:
LOS ANGELES, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 271 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures. Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2014. “This year’s class of invitees represents some of the most talented, creative and passionate filmmakers working in our industry today,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “Their contributions to film have entertained audiences around the world, and we are proud to welcome them to the Academy.”
The 2014 invitees are:
EXCLUSIVE: Marvel Studios is negotiating with Jon Spaihts to write the script for Doctor Strange, the franchise-launching film which will be directed by Scott Derrickson. 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.
Spaihts is writing Universal’s The Mummy reboot as well as the New Regency alien invasion pic The Darkest Hour and The Black Hole. His script Passengers has Keanu Reeves attached and made the 2007 Black List, but he is probably best known in the genre crowd for being the first writer of Prometheus, which rebooted Ridley Scott’s Alien franchise.
FINAL BOX OFFICE: ’22 Jump Street’ Ends Weekend With $57M, ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2′ No. 2 With $49.4M
OPENING: 22 Jump Street (SONY) looks like it may be $60M or a little under; How to Train Your Dragon 2 (FOX) should come in around $50M.
FINAL UPDATE, MONDAY, 1:11 PM: It’s the morning after and the harsh reality has set in. 22 Jump Street came in below $60M at $57M (still pretty darn good) while How to Train Your Dragon 2 tallied $49.5M when dust cleared this morning. What happened? Father’s Day, good weather, NBA Finals, and Stanley Cup finals in the top two TV markets (take your pick) all suppressed Sunday moviegoing a bit. 22 Jump Street mid-week numbers will be interesting to watch as there is a great possibility that it’s already been there-done that with its core fans, but this weekend only sees the opening of the older demo Jersey Boys from Clint Eastwood and the Kevin Hart-Tim Story re-teaming with Think Like A Man 2.
Dragon 2, although it didn’t open to higher numbers as expected,still is well-executed and the distribution date was well chosen. Expect it to keep playing straight through to mid-July when Planes: Fire & Rescue bows from Disney as families will be looking to it and to Maleficent until then. (Earth to Echo comes out in between). Edge of Tomorrow edged out Fox’s The Fault in Our Stars this weekend as the latter took a bad tumble, down 69% in its second weekend. Edge is actually holding fairly steady (-43%) but this is a big-budget bummer for Warner Bros. at the domestic box office. Here’s final chart for Father’s Day weekend:
BOX OFFICE: ’22 Jump Street’, No. 1, ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2′ No. 2 Around $50M In Big Sequel Weekend
OPENING: 22 Jump Street (SONY) looks like it may be $60M or a little under; How to Train Your Dragon 2 (FOX) should come in around $50M.
9th UPDATE, SUNDAY 7:15 AM: A softer-than-expected Saturday for moviegoing now has 22 Jump Street just a smidgen over or under $60M and How to Train Your Dragon 2 hovering around $50M+, yet those are still two good openings and account for a significant 60% of the Top Ten box office marketshare this AM. 22 Jump Street started out strong Friday, front-loaded with the teens and 2o-somethings who had long anticipated this sequel. By yesterday’s matinees, it was clear that it was softening and looks like it dropped 26% from Friday (that includes that $5.5M late night Thursday). It becomes the second-biggest R-rated comedy behind Hangover II and grossed 65% higher than the first installment.
Filmmaker and TV producer-director Carol Polakoff is expanding her Viewfinder banner into television with two hourlong series projects at FX, including a cyber crime drama from writer Ed Burns (The Wire). She’s also officially rebranding her Carol Polakoff Productions company to Viewfinder Pictures and bringing on former Vie Entertainment exec Kristina Sorensen (Freeheld) as VP Production & Development.
In addition to the untitled cyber crime dramas, with cyber crime/counter-terrorism expert Marc Goodman executive producing and Burns writing, Polakoff has The Iron King, an adaptation of a French book series. Sorensen will help oversee these and other projects for Viewfinder, along with Daniela Albin, who has been developing projects for Carol Polakoff Prods since its inception in 2009.
EXCLUSIVE: Showtime has put in development Dope, an hourlong drama about the business of performance-enhancing drugs for athletes and the doctor who popularized it in South Florida. The project is timely in light of the Alex Rodriguez scandal, but it is fictional and not based on recent events. David Hollander (Ray Donovan) is writing the script and will produce with Michael Costigan (Prometheus). Serving as consultants are two journalists who have covered that Major League Baseball doping scandal extensively: Tim Elfrink, managing editor of the Miami New Times, who broke the story about the link between big names in MLB, including Rodriguez, to an anti-aging clinic in Miami, and Gus Garcia-Roberts of New York Newsday, who uncovered a report about MLB’s alleged involvement in the acquisition of stolen documents as part of its investigation into the Florida clinic. Elfrink and Garcia-Roberts are repped by Gersh; Hollander is with CAA.
Film Roundup: Ridley Scott Ponders ‘Martian’, Jessica Chastain Eyeing ‘Mission: Impossible 5′, Peter Sarsgaard & Winona Ryder Eye ‘Experimenter’
Fox has been talking to big directors to team with Matt Damon on Martian, and the latest is Ridley Scott. The filmmaker reportedly is eyeing the Gravity-like project about a stranded astronaut, but it would be surprising if he takes this over Prometheus 2. Paul Greengrass was among the directors kicking the tires on this one recently.
The Swiss surrealist painter and sculptor who created the Xenomorph alien design for Ridley Scott‘s 1979 sci-fi classic Alien died Monday after suffering injuries in a fall. He was 74. H.R. Giger‘s name became synonymous with his iconic Alien design, which originated from his own lithograph Necronom IV and went on to nab him an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Giger’s sexually charged “biomechanical” designs got him on Scott’s radar in the 1970s when the artist had been working on Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s doomed version of Frank Herbert’s Dune (later directed by David Lynch). After Alien co-writer Dan O’Bannon showed Giger’s nightmarish designs to Scott, the helmer tapped Giger to design the Alien creature, eggs, planetoid Acheron AKA LV-426, and Alien ship for the film. He would go on to contribute designs to Aliens, Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection, Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Species, and Tokyo: The Last War, and was credited for original designs used in 2012′s Prometheus. Giger, who directed his own documentary shorts in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, appears in the new Sony Classics docu Jodorowsky’s Dune.
WE tv‘s slate of unscripted original programming for 2014-2015 includes a one-hour pilot of Charlie Sheen’s Bad Influence, a relationship-based competition show in which Sheen puts engaged couples to the ultimate test by challenging how well they think they know their intended. The pilot is currently in production in Los Angeles and was announced today during WEtv’s upfront presentation. The network also greenlighted the new series Match Made In Heaven, Mystery Millionaire and David Tutera’s CELEBrations and renewed the popular shows Kendra On Top, Marriage Boot Camp and the Braxton Family Values spinoff Tamar & Vince. In addition to the network’s growing unscripted efforts, WE tv will debut its first original scripted series, The Divide, this July. The network previously announced the fourth season of Braxton Family Values, second season of SWV Reunited, and the new series Love Thy Sister debuting this summer. Here’s a complete description of its slate:
The streaming service has put together a decidedly international cast for its upcoming drama about the legendary 13th century traveler. Italian actor Lorenzo Richelmy stars as the title character in Marco Polo, which has begun filming in Venice before moving on to Kazakhstan and the new Pinewood Studios in Malaysia. Richelmy starred in the Italian dramedy Terra e vento and has appeared in other films including Fat Cat and Terzo tempo. The cast also includes England’s Benedict Wong (Prometheus), China’s Zhu Zhu (Cloud Atlas), Hong Kong-born and London-raised Tom Wu (Skyfall), Aussie Remy Hii (Treading Water) and Washington, D.C. native Rick Yune (Olympus Has Fallen). Creator John Fusco and Harvey Weinstein are executive producing the Weinstein Co. drama, which received a 10-episode straight-to-series order in January. Kon-Tiki helmers Joachim Ronning & Espen Sandberg are directing the first two episodes. Dan Minahan is exec producing and also directing two episodes. The series is set in China during the 1200s — a world replete with astonishing martial arts, sexual intrigue, political skullduggery and spectacular battles. Netflix plans to debut Marco Polo late this year.
EXCLUSIVE: Noomi Rapace is in negotiations to join director Mikael Hafstrom in Unlocked, the spy thriller produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Georgina Townsley and Erik Howsam. The Peter O’Brien-scripted thriller made the Black List, and Rapace would play a female CIA interrogator duped into getting a terrorist to provide key information to the wrong side. It puts her at the center of a plot to launch a biological attack in London. It was originally set at Warner Bros, but the studio let it go and it’s being mounted as an indie film.
Rapace, who broke through in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trilogy, last starred in the Ridley Scott-directed Prometheus, and next stars with Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke in the Daniel Espinosa-directed Child 44 for Summit Entertainment. She is repped by CAA and Shelley Browning at Magnolia Entertainment.
TriStar Options Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s Memoir, Which Launches Company For Actors Ben McKenzie, Logan Marshall-Green
EXCLUSIVE: Actors Ben McKenzie and Logan Marshall-Green have joined forces to launch the shingle A Thing Or Two Productions. They come to the table in a big way. Tom Rothman’s TriStar Pictures has made a deal on a baseball memoir which the duo will produce with Michael De Luca. TriStar has optioned Wherever I Wind Up, the memoir by pitcher R.A. Dickey about his unusual life journey. Buzz Bissinger has been set to write the script. It becomes another eclectic project for Rothman’s upstart division.
McKenzie first starred on Fox’s The O.C. and now is playing the lead role of Detective Jim Gordon in the Bat-prequel series Gotham, while Marshall-Green played his brother on O.C. and has co-starred in Brooklyn’s Finest, Prometheus and As I Lay Dying. He just shot the pilot Quarry. They have been friends since doing theater together at Williamstown in 2001 and talked about partnering in a production company. It all crystallized when both sparked to Dickey’s memoir. Neither is looking to play the pitcher in the feature.
E!’s Slate Includes Gucci Miniseries, More ‘Rich Kids’, New Kardashian Offshoots, Christina Milian & Lance Bass Reality Series
Heading into its upfront presentation, E! has unveiled its original programming slate, which includes three upcoming series: reality competition series Escape Club premiering June 8, plastic surgery docu-series Botched premiering this September, and the network’s first original scripted series The Royals debuting in early 2015. The network has picked up a second season of #RichKids Of Beverly Hills and has put in development a New York-based spinoff. It also has greenlighted a new installment of the Kardashians’ Take franchise, Kourtney & Khloe Take The Hamptons while developing yet another Kardashian reality series, Dash Dolls, about Kim and Khloe Kardashian’s boutiques. “E! continues to deliver for the pop culture fan through buzzy original programming, unparalleled entertainment news, and innovative digital initiatives,” said Suzanne Kolb, President, E! Entertainment.
While celebrity-driven unscripted fare remains a cornerstone of E!’s programming with new projects headlined by the Kardashians, Christina Millian and Lance Bass, there are also more fashion and lifestyle offerings, including a new reality series in the works toplined by fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg. E! also stepped up its coverage of Fashion Week this year. The expansion in the arena is in part because E!’s sister network Style was phased out, said Kolb. “We are stretching that muscle more.”
On the scripted side, the network is developing a miniseries about the Gucci family. Longform is a relatively new area for E!, where the network also has in the works another project, The Four Hundred. Because of E!’s tradition with covering events, like awards ceremonies, event programming “feels like area that would have great traction for us,” Kolb said.
E!’s upfront scripted slate only includes the Gucci mini and pilot Songbyrd, one of E!’s first two scripted pilots along with The Royals, which is still undergoing testing. “It’s a good pilot,” said Kolb. And while there are no scripted development projects announced today, “we are continuing the active scripted development pipeline,” Kolb said, noting that the network won’t wait to see how The Royals does before ordering more scripted pilots later in 2014.
E! also eyes expansion of its late-night block anchored by Chelsea Lately by possibly turning its awards night special After Party into a daily pop culture news recap that could air at 11:30 PM. Here is the network’s original programming slate:
EXCLUSIVE: Martin Sheen has joined the cast of Warren Beatty‘s untitled Howard Hughes project, the script of which is being kept tightly under wraps. Sheen and Beatty are old friends but this is the first time they’ve worked together. Sheen, who will next be seen opposite Rooney Mara in Stephen Daldry’s Trash, been on and off the set for director Beatty, who is also producing and plays Howard Hughes. The story centers Hughes’ assistant (played by Alden Ehrenreich) and his love interest (Lily Collins). The pic, known around town as the untitled Warren Beatty project, also includes Annette Bening and Matthew Broderick.
The project was funded by billionaires Ron Burkle, Steve Bing, Windsor Media’s Terry Semel, Arnon Milchan’s New Regency and James Packer and Brett Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment. It’s a $26.7M negative. Ratner and Beatty are producing with Packer exec producing.
PBS has named Ira Rubenstein new general manager of PBS Digital. He will report to PBS chief operating officer Michael Jones and serve as a member of PBS’ senior leadership team, starting March 24. Rubenstein will lead all digital content and service efforts for PBS and its member stations, and will focus on PBS’ digital efforts in both the children’s and general audience space. He joins from mobile media company MeeMee Media where he was CEO. Prior to that, Rubenstein served as EVP Digital Marketing for 20th Century Fox where he established the Digital Marketing organization and led the team behind social and mobile campaigns for Prometheus, Chronicle, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, X-Men: First Class, and others. Before joining Fox in 2011, he had stints at Marvel and Sony.
After years of court battles of his own, David Bergstein is now turning the legal spotlight onto The Hollywood Reporter – for $150 million. Earlier this week the film financier filed a defamation suit against the trade and parent company Prometheus Global Media. “Defendants’ reporting included material misstatements which were not matters of opinion, inference, shading or context, but were simply untrue,” says the February 19 filing in New York state court (read it here). Seeking “not less than” $100 million in damages and $50 million more in other compensation, the detailed complaint alleges that the trade deliberately allowed biased and false reporting against the film financier by one reporter in particular – Alex Ben Block.
Also claiming business interference and conspiracy, the very litigious producer is alleging that Block, who wrote the vast majority of the trade publication’s stories about Bergstein’s bankruptcy and other proceeds, was in the pocket of Aramid Entertainment’s David Molner, a former business associate of the film financier’s and his primary legal adversary. “Plaintiff was advised that Block was paid and compensated by Molner, and Block and defendants were given special access in return for the favorable bias which defendants’ articles set forth. Block and defendants continued to play a key role in furthering Molner’s improper efforts,” the 24-page complaint claims.
Over 20 years after his debut feature Public Access was the co-winner of the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, Bryan Singer is returning to the Sundance Film Festival. The X-Men: Days Of Future Past director was named today as one of this year’s jurists at the Utah-based festival. Singer will serve on the U.S. Dramatic Jury along with critic Leonard Maltin, producer Peter Saraf, writer-director Lone Scherfig and Slate.com critic Dana Stevens. Jurists in the U.S and World Cinema Documentary sections as well World Cinema Dramatic, Short Film, and Science In Film categories were announced too (see the full list below). Additionally, the fest revealed today that Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally will front the Feature Film Awards ceremony on January 25 in Park City. This isn’t the only appearance by Offerman and Mullally at Sundance this year. The Parks & Recreation star tops Nick Offerman: American Ham which premieres January 23 in Salt Lake City, and Mullally is one of the voices in the animated pic Ernest & Celestine, which is being screened January 18. The fest’s 30th anniversary edition runs January 16-26. Here’s the full release:
Sundance Premieres & Documentary Premieres 2014 Lineup
Sundance Reveals U.S. & World Cinema Competition Slates
Sundance Unveils Spotlight, Midnight, Frontier Films & New Kids Slate
Sundance Reveals Short Film Lineup
Park City, UT — Sundance Institute announced today the members of the six juries awarding prizes at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, January 16-26 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. Short Film Awards will be announced at a ceremony on January 21 at Park City’s Jupiter Bowl. Feature film awards will be announced at a separate ceremony on January 25 in Park City, hosted by husband-and-wife duo Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally and livestreamed at www.sundance.org/live. Offerman headlines the film Nick Offerman: American Ham in the Festival’s Premieres section. Mullally voices a character in the English-language version of Ernest and Celestine, which will have its world premiere in the Festival’s new Sundance Kids section.
WME Partner Ken Slotnick Departs To Start Management/Production Company Backed By Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Companies
EXCLUSIVE: Financier Ron Burkle‘s global investment firm The Yucaipa Companies is expanding its entertainment portfolio with another move in the representation area. WME partner Ken Slotnick is leaving the agency to start a management/production company backed by Yucaipa. It is the second major move by Yucaipa in the last couple of weeks, following the launch of UK-based production company SID Gentle Films, headed by Sally Woodward Gentle, which will be focused on scripted drama, TV movies and miniseries as well as indie features. Based in New York, Slotnick was part of WME’s branded lifestyle group and worked in the non-scripted area, with The Talk/Big Brother host Julie Chen among his clients. He came from the William Morris side where he was an agent for a decade before the 2009 merger with Endeavor and was named a WME partner in January 2012.
Burkle has been ramping up his entertainment portfolio, recently joining with former top Conde Nast and Prometheus Global Media executive Richard Beckman to start New York-based Three Lions Entertainment. Two years ago, the supermarket mogul and philanthropic businessman bought most of Elliot Capitol Management’s stake in Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media for what is believed to have been $800M. He also helped to launch Current TV started by former VP Al Gore, and also financed movies for Harvey and Bob Weinstein. Last year, Burkle bought one of the leading live entertainment agencies, Artist Group International, which books musicians, comedians and sporting events around the globe, and Yucaipa and Relativity Media launched Relativity Sports to represent athletes, coaches and broadcasters.