Jason Blum‘s Blumhouse Productions is launching Blumhouse International to handle foreign sales on the company’s films. The new division has a worldwide distribution and servicing deal with IM Global and the two will introduce the new venture to foreign distributors in Cannes. Kicking off the slate are Sinister 2, the sequel to last year’s hit horror pic, and Stretch, a comedy thriller to be directed by Joe Carnahan who also produces with Blum. Tracy Falco is exec producer on the latter project and Leon Corcos is co-producer. Both films start production later this year. The new division will handle sales of films outside Blumhouse’s first-look deal with Universal.
EXCLUSIVE: Jason Blum‘s Blumhouse Productions is moving forward on its third micro-budget franchise with Sinister 2, the sequel to last year’s horror pic that grossed more than $87M worldwide off of a $3M budget. The move to build the Sinister franchise follows in the footsteps of Blumhouse’s successes with the Paranormal Activity and Insidious series of ultra-low-budget genre hits.
I understand that all of the major behind-the-scenes players are back for Sinister 2, including creators Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill. They wrote the original, which Derrickson also directed. Thinking is that they’ll write the sequel, and I hear director conversations are in the works. Blum will produce as will Derrickson. (Blumhouse and Derrickson are also working on a screen adaptation of Stephen King novella The Breathing Method.)
The original Sinister starred Ethan Hawke as a true crime novelist who discovers a box of mysterious, disturbing home movies that plunge his family into a supernatural nightmare. Cast and story for the sequel are being kept under wraps.
EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films has signed Scott Derrickson to direct Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the screen adaptation of the iconic Square Enix video game. Derrickson, who has had a hot hand recently in helming the hits Sinister and The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, will write the script with his Sinister co-writer C. Robert Cargill. Roy Lee and Adrian Askarieh will produce, and John P. Middleton is exec producer.
The setting is the near future, when dramatic advances in human augmentation have triggered a technological renaissance. The protagonist, an ex-SWAT security specialist named Adam Jensen, must embrace mechanical augments in order to unravel a global conspiracy.
“Deus Ex is a phenomenal cyberpunk game with soul and intelligence,” said Derrickson. “By combining amazing action and tension with big, philosophical ideas, Deus Ex is smart, ballsy, and will make one hell of a movie. Cargill and I can’t wait to bring it to the big screen.”
EXCLUSIVE: Hot off an $18 million opening-weekend gross of Sinister that was six times its $3 million budget, Jason Blum‘s Blumhouse has teamed with Sinister director and co-writer Scott Derrickson on a screen adaptation of the Stephen King novella The Breathing Method. They’ve secured an option on King’s work from the author, and the script will be written by Scott Teems. They haven’t yet set it for financing.
The novella was part of the 1982 King collection Different Seasons and is the only story in the volume that hasn’t been adapted. If focuses on an elderly physician named Dr. Emlyn McCarron, who recounts an incident in his career of a patient who was determined to give birth to her illegitimate child, despite her financial difficulties and the social stigma in the 1930s. The patient turns to the doctor because of the book he has written about the Breathing Method, a system to help women through childbirth. She grows close with the doctor, who finds that she is so determined to have the child through the method that she lingers on even after a horrific accident on the way to the hospital.
Big Crowded Weekend: ‘Taken 2′ Still #1; Ben Affleck’s ‘Argo’ Opens #2; ‘Sinister’ #3; ‘Boom’ #5; ‘Seven Psychopaths’ #9; And ‘Atlas Shrugged Part 2 #10
SUNDAY AM, 5TH UPDATE: What a crowded domestic box office with five films opening in wide release. And it’s not even a holiday weekend. I just don’t get the distribution crush, especially with so much sports on TV (college and NFL football, baseball playoffs). Nevertheless, it was another major-league grossing weekend: $120M which is up a whopping +45% from last year. Twentieth Century Fox’s popcorn action holdover Taken 2 (3,706 theaters) starring Liam Neeson finished #1 for the second straight weekend with $22M, or a good -54% hold from a week ago. Cume is now $86.M
Following in #2 this weekend is yet another critically acclaimed and Oscar buzzed Ben Affleck R-rated film for Warner Bros. Argo (3,232 theaters) opened Friday #3 because exhibition told me it was playing “very old”. But pic logged a rare ‘A+’ CinemaScore from audiences which resulted in great word of mouth and a bump of +50% Friday to Saturday. Now it ends the weekend #2 and $20.1M. That’s less than director Affleck’s previous The Town opener ($23.8M) for this true story of the ‘Canadian Caper’ covert operation to rescue 6 Americans during the 1979-1980 Iran hostage crisis. But it should have legs since The Town kept widening its audience week after week. Made on just a $44M budget, which included a $6.4M California film tax credit, Argo was financed by Warner Bros and Graham King’s GK Films (which also backed The Town). To save money, most of the pic was filmed right in Los Angeles and with a large pool of local Iranian-American extras supplementing star Affleck and supporting actors Alan Arkin and John Goodman. Screenplay by writer Chris Terrio was adapted from a Wired magazine article and a memoir chapter from CIA spy Tony Mendez. Script was commissioned by Smokehouse Pictures producers Grant Heslov and George Clooney who then selected helmer Affleck, a Middle Eastern studies major at Occidental College before dropping out to act. (Clooney first intended to play the pic’s lead himself before passing the role to Affleck. By the way, I could have done without so many extended but distracting close-ups of bearded Ben.) Warner Bros’ marketing campaign “sought to highlight the well-crafted tension, balanced by a unique comedic sensibility, which results in a completely original, wildly entertaining movie,” an exec tells me. Studio drove early interest and critical accolades at the Telluride Film Festival in August, and then built upon that at Toronto. A multipronged TV, social media, and online campaign was targeted to both males and females before release. Affleck was everywhere and on everyone and did everything. Red Carpet premiere in LA included tastemakers from DC and NY.
Friday’s order of finish was up-ended when Summit Entertainment’s Sinister came on very strong during late shows for #1. The horror pic (2,527 theaters) went into this weekend as the top-selling film online at Fandango and Movie Tickets with 25%-30% of all tickets. Then it started out better than expected with $1 million from Thursday’s late shows and Friday midnights in 1,494 locations. Unfortunately, audiences gave it only a ‘C+’ CinemaScore so it fell to #3. But it’s $18.8M by end of Sunday is incredible in view of its $3M cost and R-rating. Lionsgate’s Summit is distributing in the U.S. and Alliance in Canada. The film’s producers Jason Blum (of the Paranormal Activity franchise) and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones (Insidious) along with the director/writer Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism Of Emily Rose) were the creative team behind the micro-budget film. Ethan Hawke comes out of the Witness Protection Program to play a true crime novelist who discovers a box of mysterious and disturbing home movies that plunge his family into a supernatural nightmare. Summit kicked off its theatrical marketing campaign for Sinister at SXSW and then focused on moviegoers aged 17-34 reaching out to African American and Hispanic moviegoers. The studio used Tugg, the collective action platform, to allow fans across the country to organize their own word-of-mouth screenings in their hometowns. The trailer launched at midnight on June 13th simultaneously across the 6 top horror sites, which had never been done before. A red band trailer debuted 3 months later.
Sony Animation’s blockbuster toon Hotel Transylvania (3,375 theaters) will scare up another strong weekend by holding -32% from a week ago. It could move up to #3 or #2 for the weekend with $19M.
That pushes down Sony’s Kevin James new comedy Here Comes The Boom (3,014 theaters) to 5th place with what even the studio said was a “hard fought” $12M. That’s a lousy per screen average for the likeable James and Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison banner in this live action comedy. (I should note they’re voice talent in the big hit Hotel Transylvania.) But audiences gave the family fare a surprisingly good ‘A’ CinemaScore which should help word of mouth. Studio knew from tracking that this movie was in trouble from the get-go – but it was made for only low $40sM. James even did stunts like teaching TV viewers how to be an MMA fighter and serving as Grand Marshal at Talladega. Big marketing push to sports outlets with integrations in UFC (natch), NFL and college football (“Bringing the Boom”), NASCAR, MLB playoffs, and wrestling.
Playing is half as many locations, CBS Films’ well reviewed R-rated Seven Psychopaths (1,408 theaters) ended #9 but with -40% less box office take than the studio was hoping. Not clear if film can find a bigger audience beyond its urban and college town plays. The movie was co-financed by CBS Films and Film4 and BFI at a cost of just teens. It’s got a 90+ score on Rotten Tomatoes and won the People’s Choice Award in Toronto. Not surprising with a cast consisting of Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, Tom Waits, and Colin Farrell who also starred in pic’s writer/director Martin McDonaugh’s first feature film In Bruges. Studio’s current plan is to expand on the other side of Paranormal Activity 4 on October 26 so word of mouth has time to grow. Paid media spend was limited given the scope of the release and targeted to men 18–49. Heavy TV sports and scripted series as well as print. Film premiered as part of Toronto’s Midnight Madness and extended to Hampton’s and Mill Valley film fests. Online content initiatives included Seven PsychoCATS. Best was that viral video from the LA junket where Walken, Rockwell, and Farrell did Honey Boo Boo.
Public shrugged at Atlas Shrugged Part 2 (1,012 theaters). Serious drama to Ayn Rand accolytes, hilarious comedy to the rest of us, its gross fell from Friday to Saturday – never a good sign – for #10 for the weekend.
Here’s the Top Ten based on weekend estimates:
1. Taken 2 (Fox) Week 2 [3,706 Runs] PG13
Friday $7.0M, Saturday $9.8M, Weekend $22.7M (-54%), Cume $86.3M
2. Argo (Warner Bros) NEW [3,232 Runs] R
Friday $5.9M, Saturday $8.9M, Weekend $20.1M
3. Sinister (Summit/Lionsgate) NEW [2,527 Runs] R
Friday $7.4M, Saturday $7.0M, Weekend $18.8M
Lionsgate-Summit has shifted the wide-release horror movie Sinister to October 12th from October 5th. The week earlier date has Tim Burton’s stop-motion Disney animated Frankenweenie and Fox’s Taken 2. The Scott Derrickson-directed horror flick starring Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio will now go up against Warner Bros’ Argo, Here Comes The Boom and Seven Psychopaths.
Today, the Sundance Film Festival announced more participants for its 30th annual gathering next month with the out-of-competition sections of Spotlight, Park City at Midnight and New Frontier, along with the latter’s featured installations.Yesterday, the festival revealed its 2014 U.S. and World Cinema dramatic and documentary competition slates and the films in its NEXT section.
The films unveiled today see appearances by Hollywood stars like Tom Hardy in Locke; Jesse Eisenberg, Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Jason Clarke, Diane Kruger, Elijah Wood and Rainn Wilson in Cooties; and a double shot of Mia Wasikowska. Plus there’s a Dead Snow sequel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s new variety show, and a video installation featuring multimedia rock star Beck. The upcoming Sundance, which runs January 16-26, also sees the debut of the new Sundance Kids section with films featuring Forest Whitaker, Mackenzie Foy, Lauren Bacall and Paul Giamatti among others. The last slates to be revealed are the Premieres and Documentary Premieres, which are set for Monday. Until then, check out today’s release:
EXCLUSIVE: Franklin Leonard’s Black List has become a buzzy barometer for promising screenplays, but here’s a genre-centric version of the script service suited for the spooky season. The Blood List names the 13 best unproduced horror, thriller, and sci-fi scripts of the October-to-October calendar year as voted on by more than 100 film execs. This year’s #1 pick: Ink and Bone, Zak Olkewicz’s horror spec about a writer held hostage by his own creations that Dimension snapped up earlier this year. Independent manager/producer Kailey Marsh runs the annual Blood List, which has no affiliation with the more mainstream-leaning Black List but in its fifth year is turning out more and more high-profile alums. 2012 Blood List topper The Disciple Program landed at Universal with Mark Wahlberg attached to star for Morten Tyldum, while Barbara Curry’s 2011 selection The Boy Next Door is in production under the Blumhouse banner with Jennifer Lopez starring.
The 2013 edition was voted on by 108 feature execs, each of whom chose their top three favorite genre screenplays. Seventy-seven of them earned votes, with screenplays requiring a minimum of four votes in order to make the final cut. The 2013 class is announced, as it has been for four years, on Halloween:
‘Boardwalk Empire’ At NY PaleyFest: Tony Soprano As Nucky Thompson? “One Of The First People We Talked About”, Creator Says
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
James Gandolfini as Boardwalk Empire kingpin Nucky Thompson? It might have happened had the stars aligned differently, the HBO drama’s creator and showrunner Terence Winter said today during the concluding panel of the PaleyFest: Made in NY event at New York’s Paley Center for Media. In response to a question from an audience member about actors other than Steve Buscemi who were considered to portray Nucky, Winter said that Gandolfini — who died in June — was “one of the first people we talked about” for the role. “Not only had we just worked with him,” Winter added, “but he also bore such an uncanny resemblance to the actual Nucky.” But Gandolfini was never really given serious consideration because he was coming off having portrayed an iconic gangster on The Sopranos, Winter admitted. A few other names came up, but because most people had no clue what the actual Nucky Thompson looked like, exec producer Martin Scorsese recommended that they just pick an actor they “really like and want to work with,” Winter said. “Then Marty called me up and said, ‘I can’t stop thinking about Steve Buscemi.’” I said, ‘I can’t either.’ And that was it.”
This is an interestingly timed bit of news. It’s been a busy week or so for Jerry Bruckheimer, who is seeing his longtime first-look film deal with Disney come to an end after this year, and his latest TV series Hostages premiered on CBS last night. He will be honored with the 27th American Cinematheque award, with the ceremony set for December 12 at the Beverly Hilton. He was a unanimous choice for the honor, the org says, which goes to “an extraordinary filmmaker in the entertainment industry who is fully engaged in his or her work and is committed to making a significant contribution to the art of the motion picture.” In reality the award usually goes to an actor, though last year’s winner Ben Stiller acts and directs. Rob Reiner, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Martin Scorsese have won before, but Bruckheimer seems to be the first pure producer to be honored. Here’s the official release that’s longer than the U.S. Tax Code:
EXCLUSIVE: After Insidious: Chapter 2 grossed eight times its $5 million budget on its opening last weekend, the film’s producer, Blumhouse Productions’ Jason Blum, has set the company’s next launch at another horror film franchise. Incarnate will go into production in November, with Aaron Eckhart starring and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island‘s Brad Peyton directing a script by Ronnie Christensen. The plot: an unconventional exorcist who can tap into the subconscious of the possessed meets his match when a 9-year-old boy is possessed by a demon from his past. Blumhouse and IM Global will co-finance the film. Blum is producing, and Couper Samuelson exec producing with Michael Seitzman and Trevor Engelson. Foreign sales will be overseen by Cynthia Kim, who recently joined Blumhouse International as senior veep of International Sales and Distribution. Peyton, Stuart Ford and Charles Layton are also exec producers.
Blum has put together an enviable track record in the low-cost horror game. Besides Insidious, he presides over the Paranormal Activity and Sinister franchises as well as The Purge, the latter a $3 million film which opened to a $34 million weekend in June, finishing with a $64 million domestic gross. Blumhouse has its first-look deal with Universal but Incarnate hasn’t yet been set for distribution. Hard to imagine the studio won’t jump on this because these low-cost genre films keep minting money …
Cynthia Kim previously was VP International Sales and Distribution at Exclusive Media and is joining Blumhouse International just in time for the Toronto Film Festival, where she and founder-CEO Jason Blum will be selling Visions, the company’s latest micro-budget effort a la The Purge and the upcoming Joe Carnahan action comedy Stretch. Kim has been named SVP International Sales and Distribution and will oversee sales in Benelux, France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland, UK, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, Latin America, Australia and Canada. Remaining territories are handled by IM Global via a servicing deal; BHI handles sales of films outside Blumhouse’s first-look deal with Universal. At Exclusive, Kim oversaw territory sales for titles like End Of Watch, The Woman In Black, The Ides Of March and upcoming films Rush and A Walk Among The Tombstones. Before that she worked at Paramount Vantage and on the finance side at Sony Pictures. Blumhouse International launched at Cannes this year where it sold Stretch to Universal. The studio has set a March 21, 2014 release date for it with Patrick Wilson, Ed Helms, Chris Pine and Brooklyn Decker starring.
Martin and Gary Kemp are re-teaming on screen for the first time since they played the title roles as the vicious British siblings in The Krays. The brothers will play sinister gangsters The Alberts brothers in Assassin, starring opposite Football Factory‘s Danny Dyer. I always found it amusing that the Kemp brothers transitioned from the soft pop ballad band Spandau Ballet (best known for “True”) and did such a convincing job portraying the ruthlessly violent and twisted Kray Brothers in that 1991 cult favorite film directed by Peter Medak.
Ducks and sharks made waves on cable, Hillary Clinton was at the center of a different kind of partisan battle, and there were ramifications as the game of chicken between Time Warner Cable and CBS continued with football season looming. Those were some of the top TV stories that Deadline ran during the past week. Take a read here:
By Nellie Andreeva – EXCLUSIVE: The beards of the stars from A&E‘s mega hit Duck Dynasty probably grew a few inches while their lengthy salary renegotiations were going on, but I’ve learned that the talks have successfully concluded with new deals, just in time for the series’ fourth season premiere.
By Nellie Andreeva – On Friday, ABC Studios closed a put pilot commitment deal at CBS for Gorgeous Morons, a multi-camera comedy from Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky and Danny Chun, which the studio only shopped to outside networks.
Lisa De Moraes – EXCLUSIVE: When the dust settled, …
EXCLUSIVE: Andre Holland (42), Juliet Rylance (Sinister), Eve Hewson (Enough Said) and Michael Angarano (Empire State) are set to co-star opposite Clive Owen in Cinemax‘s 10-part series The Knick, directed by Steven Soderbergh. Oscar winner Soderbergh is set to direct all 10 episodes of the project, written by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler. Set in downtown New York in 1900, The Knick centers on Knickerbocker Hospital and the groundbreaking surgeons, nurses and staff who push the bounds of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics. Holland, repped by Paradigm and Brookside Artist Management, will play Algernon, a gifted, black Harvard-trained surgeon who fights for respect in the hospital while trying to navigate his way through the racially charged turn-of-the-century NYC.
Universal Pictures has set Emmy-nominated Breaking Bad writer/producer George Mastras to adapt the Dean Unkefer book 90 Church: The True Story Of The Narcotics Squad From Hell to be directed by its Snow White And The Huntsman director Rupert Sanders. The project will be produced by Huntsman’s Joe Roth and Palak Patel, who’ll produce with Deborah Giarratana.
90 Church refers to the address of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics when it was formed in New York City to combat organized crime and drug traffic in the mid-1960s through early ’70s. While the FBI refused even to acknowledge organized crime, 30 agents stood alone against a well-organized Mafia and vicious drug cartels. To survive against impossible odds, the agents used incredibly brutal and cunning tactics to make cases and bring the war to a stalemate. Using an ever-expanding network of criminal informants held together by secret immunity deals, the sinister reputation of 90 Church grew along with the rising body count. The book is fictionalized but based on true events, written by one of the agents who worked in the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. That bureau later merged with another and became the DEA. The studio bought the book preemptively last summer.
Mastras, who was Emmy-nominated for writing the Dead Freight episode in Breaking Bad‘s final season, is repped by CAA and manager Dan Halsted.
Lava Bear and QED International will finance and co-produce Intrusion, a thriller to be directed by David Bruckner from a script by writer L.D. Goffigan that got a rewrite from Amy Herzog. Quadrant Pictures’ Doug Davison will produce the project with Tariq Jalil, Lava Bear, and QED’s Bill Block. QED’s John Hegeman will executive produce. Bruckner helmed the segment Amateur Nights from the anthology pic V/H/S. A young woman’s life begins to unravel shortly after moving to San Francisco, when she realizes she’s being pursued by a disturbed stalker. As the assaults and creepy incidents escalate she realizes that she has become the target of something far more sinister and horrifying. Pic will shoot later this year.
Meet Norman’s new romantic interest. Paloma Kwiatkowski has booked a recurring role on the second season of A&E‘s Bates Motel. She will play Cody Brennan, a small town party girl who befriends Norman (Freddie Highmore) and bonds with him, showing him how having fun and “acting out” can sublimate pain – at least for awhile. Bates Motel executive producer Carlton Cuse at Comic Con alluded that a romance was on the horizon for Norman. In her feature debut, Kwiatkowski, repped by manager Darren Goldberg, agent Carrie Wheeler and attorney Neil Meyer, plays Thalia in the upcoming Percy Jackson And The Olympians: The Sea Of Monsters. She recently wrapped the lead role in the indie Sitting On The Edge With Marlene.
Manolo Cardona has been tapped for a recurring role on the new CW drama Reign, about the teen years of Mary Queen Of Scots (Adelaide Kane) in the French court. Cardona will play Tomas, the dashing Prince of Portugal. He’s playful and seemingly grounded though he may have a sinister, sadistic, and completely amoral soul. Cardona, repped by D2 Management, just wrapped an arc on USA’s Covert Affairs as Arthur’s (Peter Gallagher) son Teo Braga.
EXCLUSIVE: Silver Reel and FlynnPictureCo have preemptively closed a deal for screen rights to Elusion, an upcoming young-adult novel written by Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam that is to be the first in a two-book series. Elusion gets published next March as a lead title for Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. The sequel, Etherworld, comes out in 2015. Beau Flynn will produce through his FPC banner along with Claudia Bluemhuber, who will oversee for Silver Reel. Wendy Jacobson will oversee for FlynnPictureCo.
Elusion is a contemporary sci-fi thriller about two love-struck teenagers who discover that the wildly popular game created by their wunderkind best friend, which uses deep hypnosis to transport users to a virtual alternate world, is actually much more sinister than it appears. It visits territory covered in Inception and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. ICM Partners and Fletcher & Co repped the authors.