EXCLUSIVE: French Canadian drama Sarah Prefers To Run has been acquired by distribution platform Film Festival Flix following its U.S. debut at Outfest. Chloe Robichaud wrote and directed Sophie Desmarais in the story of a college-bound young woman who agrees to get married in order to get a grant to afford university and compete in the school’s premiere athletic club. Film Festival Flix’s deal covers U.S. rights. The company will open Sarah as part of its Film Festival Flix theatrical series monthly film series that enables audiences to interact with filmmakers and actors, as well as in limited release next Spring. Film world-premiered at Cannes where it screened in the Un Certain Regard section. E-One negotiated the deal via its Les Films Séville label.
The stock price fell 4.6% to $431.09 even though the Q2 earnings reported last night were largely in line with analyst expectations, subscriptions were up impressively, and management forecasts were upbeat. What gives?
The simplest explanation is that Netflix always is susceptible to downturns because its shares are so expensive, reflecting investor optimism about its prospects. They trade for about 128 times the company’s earnings — a stark contrast to more stable media giants such as Fox, Comcast, Time Warner and CBS whose stock prices equal about 20 times earnings.
And Netflix bears found some reasons to be skittish. The company will have to boost spending to secure the content it will need to serve new markets including Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg — and that could put pressure on earnings “as soon as next year,” says Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter. He’s concerned about the decline in DVD-by-mail rental subscribers; they account for “half of all operating profit for the company.” The analyst also says that Amazon’s recent streaming deal with HBO suggests that “a stand-alone subscription plan is coming” that would make the e-retailer a more potent video competitor.
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Animation has set Jimmy Miller’s Mosaic and Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions on Manimal, the feature based on the cult 1980s TV show about a man who fights crime using his ability to morph into animals. Miller, Ferrell, and McKay will produce along with original series co-creator Glen A. Larson, and Key & Peele EPs Jay Martel and Ian Roberts already have been tapped to write.
The original 1983 series starred Simon MacCorkindale as Dr. Jonathan Chase, a dashing and wealthy man raised in Africa who was also “master of the secrets that divide man from animal.” It was cancelled after eight episodes, only to live on in the hearts of a devoted cult fandom (flash back with a clip from Manimal below). Sony Pictures Animation’s live-action/animation hybrid will reinvent that concept as an action-comedy with heavy visual effects and animated elements. SPA President of Production Michelle Raimo Kouyate and SVP Michael Lachance are overseeing for the studio.
Downton Abbey’s fifth season will debut on January 4, PBS chief Paula Kerger said this morning. She boasted the fourth season was up 16% year over year — among the reasons PBS will not consider an airdate that more closely coincides with the British play-pattern — and that the Masterpiece franchise within which Downton Abbey airs is up 24%. “We’re extremely proud of this growth and continue to focus on Sunday night drama,” she told TV critics at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014.
As for Sherlock, Kerger said PBS did not yet have word as to when it would be ready for air. “Because it’s coming from our partners in the UK, we have to wait to know when it will be finished,” Kerger said. “But, whenever it comes we’ll put it in a wonderful place and we know the next season is going to be terrific,” she added.
Likewise, Kerger said she had no airdate for the return of Mr. Selfridge, starring Jeremy Piven. That franchise’s renewal for a third season was announced by its British producer in February, saying only that it would air in 2015.
In an exclusive interview with Deadline, a crew member who suffered serious injuries on an earlier film by Midnight Rider director-producers Randall Miller and Jody Savin has called their “safety first” claims “a lie.”
Katie Dover, a costumer who was hurt on the set of Miller and Savin’s 2013 film CBGB during pre-production, says Miller and Savin’s recent statements regarding safety on their films don’t jibe with her experience.
Days ago, Midnight Rider director Miller and his wife-producer Savin — two of the three filmmakers charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones — went on the record stating that since they began in the business in 1990, “We have always emphasized the safety of the crew. In all those years we have never had a significant injury or accident of any kind.”
“That’s a lie,” said Dover, who is going on the record about the injury for the first time. “My injury was significant. I lost 6 months of work because of it.” After a table sliced the back of her hand open from little finger across to her forefinger, Dover underwent two surgeries, was in a cast and had to endure months of physical therapy. “I’d call that significant,” she said.
The Not-Very-Nice Little Witch That Could keeps enchanting audiences around the globe, as Disney’s ‘Maleficent‘ crossed the $700 million mark in global box office, Disney distribution execs said. It’s the studio’s second 2014 release to cross that high mark (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, box office champ for the first half of 2014, is the other).
Since its U.S. release on May 30, the film has tallied $228.8M domestically. Overseas, it has been extremely strong, no doubt helped by star Angelina Jolie‘s global visibility and appeal. The overall international gross has hit $471.8M so far, with big numbers out of China, Mexico, Russia and Brazil. Japan, which has a habit of keeping late-arriving Disney films in theaters for many lucrative weeks (see what happened with Frozen earlier in the year before Maleficent dethroned it), just debuted the film on July 5. Since then, it’s been No. 1 for three straight weekends, pulling in $32.7M already.
The studio said Maleficent is the year’s highest-grossing film based on an original story, (though some may quibble, given the film’s roots in Disney animated classic Sleeping Beauty). It’s also Jolie’s highest-grossing live-action film ever, whether measured by domestic, international and global box office.
Well, they are coming hot and heavy now. With Toronto International Film Festival announcing 13 Galas and 46 Special Presentations this morning in what is really just the first wave of their upcoming lineup, and on top on New York Film Festival’s confirmation of their Opening (Gone Girl), Centerpiece (Inherent Vice) and Closing (Birdman), BFI London’s opener of The Imitation Game and Venice Film Festival’s opener (also Birdman) the awards season landscape is starting to fill in a bit more significantly. Venice in fact will announce their entire lineup tomorrow but today’s TIFF list gives us some further clues as to how the Oscar game is being played on the fest circuit. Of course Telluride is another factor, but they won’t officially announce anything until their fest begins just before Labor Day weekend.
One player that I hear won’t be going to Telluride this year, or it seems Venice, is Warner Bros which has used both fests significantly in the past (Warners had Oscar winners Argo and Gravity at the past two Tellurides and Gravity opened Venice last year). But, as predicted here, they are going to Toronto in a BIG way with World Premieres of three of their Fall films, The Judge, This Is Where I Leave You and The Good Lie. Will TIFF mean the launch of an Oscar campaign for the trio, or is it just an effective way of getting the most media bang for your buck in releasing these early Fall titles? Certainly The Judge would seem to have acting potential for …
Ed Helms, Hilary Swank & Ed Harris In Talks To Star In Alejandro González Iñárritu’s MRC Series ‘One Percent’
Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s MRC series is taking shape, with Ed Helms, Hilary Swank and Ed Harris in various stages of negotiations to topline the hour-long project. In his U.S. TV debut, the Oscar-nominated Iñárritu will direct the series, titled One Percent, which he co-created with Alexander Dinelaris, Nicolas Giacobone, and Armando Bo. The four recently collaborated on the script of Iñárritu’s latest feature, black comedy Birdman Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance, which has been selected to open this year’s Venice Film Festival in its world premiere and as the closing-night title for the New York Film Festival.
One Percent is set against the backdrop of the organic farming community. Helms and Swank would play a husband and wife who are struggling professionally and personally to keep their business afloat, while Harris would play the family patriarch. MRC is expected to take the project out to buyers in a few weeks, likely seeking a straight-to-series order, which has been the company’s strategy. It has been able to secure two-season pickups for its Emmy-winning David Fincher-Kevin Spacey drama House Of Cards at Netflix and the Seth MacFarlane comedy at Starz.
One Percent, which …
Toronto Film Fest Will Close World Premiere of ‘A Little Chaos’; No Opener Yet; Jon Stewart, Chris Rock Get Perches
UPDATED, 8:40 AM: The 39th Toronto Film Festival, running September 4-14, will close with the world premiere of Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos with Kate Winslet, Rickman, Matthias Schoenaerts and Stanley Tucci. The opening-night film was not announced at this morning’s press conference.
“A Little Chaos is the perfect closing-night film – it transports audiences to another time, another place, full of beauty, complexity, rivalry, politics and romance,” said Toronto artistic director Cameron Bailey. “Alan Rickman’s film will wind audiences up just as our festival is winding down.”
In this sumptuous historical drama Sabine De Barra (Winslet) — a landscaper with a taste for the unconventional — is invited to design one of the fountains at the Palace of Versailles. As she battles with the weather, the perilous rivalries at the court of Louis XIV and her own private demons, she finds herself drawn inescapably closer to the formality and enigma of the architect who hired her.
Of the 13 Galas and 46 Special Presentations announced, the initial lineup includes 37 world premieres from directors including Noah Baumbach, Susanne Bier, Peter Ho-Sun Chan, David Dobkin, Philippe Falardeau, Mia Hansen-Løve, Ning Hao, François Ozon, Christian Petzold, Lone Scherfig and Chris Rock. Here’s the list:
EXCLUSIVE: Jeff Blake, who has served as vice chairman of Sony Pictures and chairman of worldwide marketing and distribution for Sony Pictures since 2005, is leaving the studio that he has been a part of for the past 22 years. Part of the innermost circle of Sony’s senior management team with CEO Michael Lynton and chair of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group Amy Pascal, the departure is a real shake-up for the studio at the highest level. Blake is the stalwart pro and has been one of the longest survivors at any studio. He worked under several Sony regimes including that of Peter Guber and Mark Canton, Jonathan Dolgen, Alan Levine, Robert Wynne, Mel Harris, the beloved John Calley, Howard Stringer, and finally Lynton and Pascal. He exits August 1.
Sony announced it at 8 AM this morning, saying, “It’s with a heavy heart and great appreciation that we want to share with you news that Jeff Blake has decided to leave SPE to pursue other opportunities … he’s been an important part of the fabric of SPE. We have all loved his legendary role as raffle master at our annual holiday party, enjoyed his gregarious laugh and sense of humor and appreciate his reputation as one of the nicest and most easy-going guys in the business.”
With Blake’s departure, the studio loses an executive with institutional and strategic knowledge of not only marketing and distribution both domestically and internationally, but on the business itself. He has worked at three studios, having joined the business in 1974 working for Paramount Pictures in Chicago. He has also worked with the best known names in the business at Paramount and at Sony (and even a short stint at Disney) – from Charlie Bludhorn and Barry Diller to Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Stanley Jaffe, Frank Mancuso, the wonderful Brandon Tartikoff, the aforementioned executives and so many others. Katzenberg and Mancuso became Blake’s lifetime friends and mentors.
His departure comes after Pascal and Lynton and the rest of SPE’s senior management have been under tremendous pressure after a rough round last summer and a hit-and-miss year so far in 2014. Pascal and Lynton have spent this past year making changes at the studio and shoring up their ranks with execs like Michael De Luca coming in as president of production at Columbia, and the announcement last week that Doug Belgrad is expanding duties with a new president of the motion picture group title. Those expanded responsibilities included working with the marketing and distribution team which also saw changes last year. Sony has undergone extreme cost-cutting at the studio as well with layoff after layoff. They have also worked to bring in co-financing deals and closed a big one with Lone Star Capital and Citibank, a smaller agreement with Village Roadshow and have also been waiting for former Warner Bros. executive Jeff Robinov to secure financing to start producing movies to distribute.
“Certainly there has been an air of change at Sony for the past couple of years,” said Blake. “I put it out there prior to our summer if at some point, I needed to step aside that I certainly would but, in the meantime, I wanted to make sure that there were no distractions in releasing our summer slate. I’m really comfortable with my decision,
GLAAD Study Finds Lack Of LGBT Images, Offensive Content In Films From 7 Studios, Sony Columbia Gets Best Grade
GLAAD has released its second annual Studio Responsibility Index that maps the quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest motion picture studios during the 2013 calendar year: 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Sony Columbia, Universal Pictures, The Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brothers. GLAAD found that of the 102 releases from the major studios in 2013, 17 of them included characters identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. It found that the majority of these characters were minor roles or cameos, and that many of these were outright defamatory representations in films such as Pain & Gain and Riddick.
Ahead of Thursday’s announcement of the Venice Film Festival competition lineup, the parallel Venice Days section has presented its roster. As previously noted, Kim Ki-duk’s revenge drama One On One will open the section out of competition. The Korean helmer’s Pieta won the Golden Lion in 2012. Closing the section is Alex De La Iglesia’s documentary about Argentine football great Lionel Messi. Titled Messi, the film uses reconstructions, archival material and interviews to trace the player’s rise to stardom. Among the competition titles is the world premiere of Palme d’Or winner Laurent Cantet’s Return To Ithaca. Set in Havana, the film sees five friends reflect on their past and future. The section also hosts the international premiere of Shawn Christensen’s SXSW drama Before I Disappear with Emmy Rossum, Fatima Ptacek, Paul Wesley, Ron Perlman and Richard Schiff. It’s based on Christensen’s 2013 Oscar-winning short film Curfew. Click over for the full Venice Days lineup:
CBS Films insiders confirm that about three weeks ago, CBS Films co-president Wolfgang Hammer quietly segued to become a consultant focusing on digital content. Among the youngest production presidents of a major company ever, Hammer ran the film division with Terry Press, who is alone at the top. Under Hammer, Les Moonves’s boutique film label went from an original mission to create homegrown films, and became a significant player in the acquisitions game in the last few years while the original productions percolated, often with good results. Last Vegas, a homegrown film, was a sleeper hit, and the label made its highest profile acquisition when it paid $4 million for Inside Llewyn Davis. That movie didn’t garner Oscar love in the major categories after the prestige folk music film got a rousing reaction at Cannes last year and won the Grand Prix, but it got CBS Films its first ever Oscar noms and Golden Globes, and grossed just north of $13 million domestic. That number could have been higher had Oscar voters embraced it more fully, the way critics did. The label has made other big festival buys including the Toronto acquisition Salmon Fishing in the Yemen to put itself on the map.
The label has What If opening in August, Pride in September and just wrapped the teen comedy The Duff for a February opening. One potential gem it hasn’t been able to get into production is the series of bestselling novels by author Vince Flynn featuring counter terrorism operative …
Global Showbiz Briefs: André Rieu Sets UK Box Office Record; Venice Critics’ Week Roster; Alibaba Pacts With Helmers; More
André Rieu Concert Sets UK Box Office Record
Flying the flag for event cinema, André Rieu’s 2014 10th Anniversary Maastricht Concert became the UK’s highest-grossing music event of all time at the box office this weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, CinemaLive screened the concert at 410 locations across the UK and Ireland, grossing $1.42M. The concert also screened at 234 moviehouses in European markets including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Romania, Finland and Croatia, bringing the total gross box office figure to more than $2.05M for the weekend. Rieu’s July 2013 cinema concert event set UK records with about $766K. The massive jump this year is one more feather in the cap of live event cinema which has been growing in popularity with music- and theater-loving crowds. Classical violinist Rieu, aka “The King of Waltz”, is known for his energetic and festive live performances. He has sold more than 35M albums worldwide. Further screenings of the concert will take place this coming weekend in Australia and New Zealand, followed by Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Russia and South East Asia to ultimately reach more than 1,000 cinema screens in 35 countries. Pretty soon, I’ll have to start adding these to my international weekend box office reports.
The second season of FX’s Fargo will take place in Sioux Falls, S.D., in 1979, creator Noah Hawley said this afternoon at the TCA Summer Press Tour. “If you were paying attention to Season 1, we made a lot of references to Sioux Falls,” he said told TV critics. Some of the second season also will take place in Luverne, Minn.
The season will be a prequel of sorts, in that the Lou Solverson character, played in Season 1 by Keith Carradine, will be back, only this time he’ll be just 33 years old and recently back from Vietnam. “That time period is interesting — post-Vietnam, post-Watergate … the best of America versus worst,” Hawley said. “That sense, I think, that this war had come home with people, and the violence and brutality of it.”Lou Salverson went to Vietnam and came home, but now he’s come back and it’s here — it’s domestic.”
And while he said he would like nothing more than to see the continuing adventures of Molly and Gus, “I felt it would be disingenuous,” Hawly said of Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) and Officer Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks). Molly’s mom will be featured in Season 2 but will not be played by Tolman, despite urgings of several TV critics. “She should be in everything anybody ever made, as far as I’m concerned,” Hawley said. But he added that the idea of casting Tolman to play her character’s mother “seems a little gimmicky to me, and like cheating.” Using the same actors in different roles each season is “a brilliant turn on Ryan’s part, and he owns it — it would be imitative,” Hawley said of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story, with its practice of bringing back actors in different roles each season.
“I didn’t want to do the serial-killer-of-the-year story. I can’t compete with the genre that’s out there,” The Bridge executive producer Elwood Reid said today at TCA about his primary objective for Season 2 of the FX thriller.
“If I’m going to tell a story about the U.S.-Mexican border, one which these characters warranted, I couldn’t tell that story while they were tracking a serial killer,” said the EP. Departing Bridge EP Meredith Stiehm, who developed the series with Reid before returning to Homeland, also shared the same second-season vision.
“Meredith was right there with me in wanting to break the old mode of the show,” said Reid, “We looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s get these figures up on the bridge and finish this part of the story.’”
FINAL: Intl Box Office: ‘Transformers’ Adds $84.6M; ‘Apes’ Swings Up With $61.9M; ‘Boyhood’ Growing In UK; More
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 …
This is the first concrete sign that Time Warner is determined to fight Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch if he decides to do an end run around the board in an effort to acquire the company. Directors adopted an amendment to TW’s by-laws, which took effect immediately, that makes it harder for a small group of shareholders to call a special meeting, Time Warner says in an SEC filing. Previously investors holding at least 15% of the total votes could demand a meeting. The change limits that right to “the Chief Executive Officer or a majority of the entire Board.” The fear was that Murdoch — or anyone — could have tried to stampede short-term investors into accepting a deal even if the board concluded that it would not serve their long-term interests.
Time Warner shares are down 1.6% in post-market trading following disclosure of the change. The company says that it intends to restore the 15% threshold at the 2015 annual meeting.