Literary and cinematic roots run deep in Showtime’s new psychosexual horror series Penny Dreadful, which debuts in May with an episode helmed by The Orphanage director Juan Antonio Bayona. Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, Timothy Dalton, and Harry Treadaway star in the show created by Oscar-nominated scribe John Logan and exec produced by Sam Mendes which crosses the mythologies of iconic horror figures from Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dorian Gray lore in a Victorian England setting. “We wanted to pay respects to the mythology but bring them to a new level,” said Bayona of the show’s twisty take on well-known stories and characters.
Coincidentally, another thread connects the Penny Dreadful gang in front of and behind the camera. “There’s a lot of James Bond on this show: John wrote Skyfall, Sam directed it, Eva was in Casino Royale – I said to someone, I think I’m being groomed for the next Bond movie,” said Hartnett at a Q&A following the premiere of Penny Dreadful’s first episode Sunday at SXSW. Hartnett plays American gunslinger Ethan Chandler, who is recruited by Sir Malcolm (Dalton, a former 007 himself) and the enigmatic Vanessa Ives (Green) for a supernatural mission in London. The gothic series is one of a handful of television projects highlighted this year in SXSW’s new programming slate devoted to episodic /TV content.
Related: Showtime Lands Horror Drama From John Logan & Sam Mendes Read More »
The Tribeca Film Festival continues to roll out its lineup for this year’s 13th edition, which kicks off April 16. Here is the program slates for the Spotlight, Midnight, Special Screenings and Storyscapes sections. The fest’s shorts program will be unveiled Tuesday. Here are today’s films, which include Spotlight spots for Roman Polanksi’s Venus In Fur, the Robin Williams-starrer Boulevard from Dito Montiel, world premieres of films directed by actors Chris Messina and Courteney Cox, and of course the horror comedy Zombeavers:
Related: Tribeca Film Festival Unveils Competition Slate
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In a move that was expected, Sony will sell off its Vaio personal computer business to investment firm Japan Industrial Partners, the company said this morning in Tokyo. Also on the electronics side, the company is continuing with a restructure of its TV business, with plans to spin the division off by July. As a result of the measures, Sony anticipates it will cut 5,000 jobs by the end of the 2014 fiscal year. The announcements were made as Sony reported consolidated financial results for the third quarter ended December 31, 2013, and adjusted its forcast for the fiscal year to a $1.08B loss. That’s compared to a previous estimate of a $295M profit. Restructuring costs of $690M are partly responsible for the revised figures. Overall, sales and operating revenue were up 23.9% to $22.9B, boosted by the new PlayStation 4 game console, which sold more than 4.2M units since its November launch. Operating income was also up to $860M. In the movie division, sales were down 13% on a U.S. dollar basis. Operating income dropped to $231M. The motion picture division saw lower theatrical and home entertainment revenues, despite the strong performance of Captain Phillips and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2. The same quarter last year had Skyfall still in theaters while The Amazing Spider-Man and Men In Black 3 were clicking on the home entertainment front. On a U.S. dollar basis, … Read More »
There are strong debuts and holds for Hollywood in the international marketplace this week, despite a drop of about 25% from the similar frame last year when Django Unchained was the top film overseas. (Last week, international box office was off about 50%, so that’s an improvement of sorts.) Still, a fair few movies are making, and breaking records — especially in China. While Monday-morning quarterbacks have been gearing up for today’s Super Bowl, in the rest of the world where football is played without shoulder pads and where the Big Game isn’t due til this July, audiences flocked to movies in such diverse places as China, Russia, Germany, Korea and France. Notably, the Chinese New Year began on January 31 and with it came The Monkey King. The film took $46M in seven territories, and broke records at home, while TV reality series transfer Dad, Where Are We Going? grossed $34M (more below).
The only new studio entry on the international scene this week was MGM and Columbia Pictures’ Robocop which blasted its way into three territories in Asia. The movie, starring Joel Kinnaman, strategically bowed in Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore – taking advantage of the Chinese Lunar New Year – and scored a strong opening with $5.5M and a No. 1 trifecta. Robocop does not yet have a China date, although that’s expected to be clarified shortly. … Read More »
Netflix Execs Headed Back To France For More Expansion Talks
Last week, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the company was eyeing “substantial” European expansion in 2014. His comments came a little more than a month after execs from the streaming service met with staff of French President François Hollande to discuss an entry into France. According to local media reports, Netflix execs now are due to return to France to meet with industry folk within the next week. Pascal Rogard, head of authors’ rights group the SACD, told Le Figaro that the situation is coming into focus with a possible launch later this year. Netflix is available in 41 countries including France’s neighbors to the north such as the UK, the Netherlands and the Nordic region. A French launch has been rumored over the years, but moving into the fiercely protected territory is ornery in part due to a complex film-windows chronology that prohibits movies from appearing on monthly SVOD services until three years after a theatrical release. There is no such protection for TV series, but Netflix’s House Of Cards already airs on local pay-TV leader Canal Plus, which would see the service’s arrival as competition. In a conversation with analysts, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos was asked last week whether the service would be out of certain markets with its key originals because it had already sold them to local providers. “It depends,” he said. “There’s multiple windows, and we’ll continue to have those negotiations as we get closer to those launches.” It’s expected that should Netflix enter France, it would have to adhere to obligations to invest in local content. Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti told Le Journal du Dimanche this weekend, “Netflix should be an additional player, not a stowaway.” It’s also believed that Netflix is eyeing a move into Germany. With regard to expansion, MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson said last week that “it remains difficult to figure out the ultimate size and value of Netflix’s international opportunity” due to the company’s “undisclosed new market entries, minimal transparency and continual reinvestment.” Read More »
UPDATED, MONDAY 3:55 PM: International numbers are flowing in and will be updated as they arrive in the below market by market breakouts. The Wolf Of Wall Street continues to show its teeth, grossing $17.4M in eight markets holding the No. 1 spots in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Australia and Switzerland. Norway will be the next (and final) release date on Friday, January 31 for UPI, but the picture is expected in other markets with other distribs. Just to update on Universal’s 47 Ronin: The mega-budgeted pic which is playing strong in Russia, has now cumed $83.7M internationally and $38M domestically for a worldwide total of $121.7M. It has 14 more markets to play, most notably Germany. Frozen is over $813M now globally and The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug added another $5.7M this weekend for worldwide box office of total of $947.6M ($595.3M internationally). Paramount’s numbers have not arrived on Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, but Universal’s Despicable Me numbers have been revised upwards to $5.2M in China in 4,500 runs for a total of $43.5M. It’s still too close to call to see who will be No. 1 in this all-important territory but the numbers should arrive from China tomorrow.
UPDATED, SUNDAY 7:30 PM: The international box office is off about 50% from last year when Django Unchained … Read More »
Technology, not executive hypersensitivity, accounted for the blackout of last night’s Grammy Awards broadcast on AT&T U-verse systems around Orlando at a potentially controversial moment in the proceedings, the company says. The show went dark just as performers Macklemore & Lewis prepared to sing their song “Same Love,” with Queen Latifah set to use her new authority to officiate at weddings to marry 33 couples. AT&T says that’s when a fiber cut left customers experiencing “a brief disruption of local TV affiliate channels, including CBS.” Technicians made the repairs in about 10 minutes. “We sincerely apologize for the perceived implication of the timing. It definitely was not purposeful,” AT&T says.
Ratings: Longest Grammy Awards In 22 Years On Par With 2013
Griffin, Colbert, ‘Skyfall’ & Fincher Among Grammy Winners
What do Kathy Griffin and Stephen Colbert have in common? They are now both Emmy and Grammy winners. Colbert, winner of four Emmys for his eponymous Comedy Central late-night program, added a second Grammy to his collection for the audio version of his book America Again: Re-becoming The Greatness We Never Weren’t. He previously won in 2010 in the comedy category where Griffin nabbed her first Grammy in her sixth nomination tonight to become only the third woman to do so. (Whoopi Goldberg and Lily Tomlin were the other two.) Griffin, who won two Emmys for her Bravo series My Life On The D-List, thanked recently arrested pop star Justin Bieber for giving her his “relax juice.”
Related: Who’s Giving Grammy Intro To Paul McCartney And Ringo Starr?
The reigning Oscar winner for best song, Adele’s James Bond ballad “Skyfall,” and Tony winner for best musical, Kinky Boots, repeated at the Grammys as Best Song Written for Visual Media and Best Musical Theater Album (Skyfall also won for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.) After missing out on the DGA Award last night for directing the pilot of Netflix’s House Of Cards, David Fincher was triumphant in the Best Music Video category for helming Justin Timberlake’s black-and-white “Suit & Tie.” And Pharrell Williams, big winner tonight with the French electronic music duo Daft Punk, was named Producer of the Year for several songs, including ”Happy,” the Oscar-nominated track from Despicable Me 2. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: I have learned that Gaumont International Television’s Barbarella has been set up at Amazon Studios, which has taken in the pilot script penned by feature writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (Skyfall). I hear search is underway for a showrunner in anticipation of a pilot pickup. Barbarella is based on the character created by Jean-Claude Forest in a graphic novel and made famous in the 1968 sci-fi movie staring Jane Fonda as a sexpot tasked with finding and stopping an evil weapons inventor. The project, which has been in the works at GIT for a year and a half, is executive produced by Nicolas Refn (Valhalla Rising), who had been attached to direct, and Martha De Laurentiis, whose late husband Dino produced the 1968 movie. GIT has two other series – Hannibal on NBC and Hemlock Grove on Netflix — with a third, Narco, eyeing a green light at Netflix. Amazon Studios has five drama and comedy pilots in the works following the launch of its first original series, comedies Alpha House and Betas. Purvis and Wade are repped by UTA and Casarotto and Neil Meyer; Refn by WME.
When I ran into Ben Affleck at the Golden Globes on Sunday he told me he thinks this wide open Oscar race won’t really come into focus until the Producers Guild names its choice for Best Picture on January 19th at the Beverly Hilton. Of course Affleck (with George Clooney and Grant Heslov) won at the PGA last year for Argo and it went on to take the Oscar for Best Picture as well. Now about to celebrate their 25th anniversary the PGA awards have become one of the most reliable bellwethers of eventual Oscar glory. In fact the last six films in a row that have taken the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures has gone on to win the Academy’s Best Picture prize too, a list that in addition to Argo includes The Artist, The King’s Speech, The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire and No Country For Old Men. In fact it was the PGA that turned the race completely around for The Hurt Locker by unexpectedly choosing it over Avatar and picking King’s Speech over The Social Network, the favorite until that point. The PGA turned both races on a dime. In fact since handing out awards a quarter century ago the Guild has had a strong overall track record in matching Oscar’s sentiments. Perhaps one reason is they work very closely with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in vetting producers credits and determining which producers are eligible not only for the PGA award, but also the Oscar, although the final decision on the latter is up to the Academy’s producers branch.
Related: Producers Guild Unveils Motion Picture And Long-Form TV Noms
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Marc Weinstock had been president of worldwide theatrical marketing at Sony Pictures until late September, when he was ousted as part of what became a seismic shake-up at that studio. Those moves included the exits of corporate PR chief Steve Elzer and home entertainment chief David Bishop and the addition of former New Line president-turned-Fifty Shades Of Grey producer Michael De Luca. Weinstock’s new gig at Fox helps put a bow on the studio’s own new exec structure; in mid-October, Oren Aviv left as Chief Movie Marketing Officer, replaced by Fox international guys Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus, who became co-presidents of Worldwide Theatrical Marketing & Distribution as marketing was combined into a worldwide division. Chief Creative Officer Tony Sella soon followed Aviv out the door. Weinstock, whose new deal we’re hearing came together pretty fast, will report to Jegeus and Hanneman as part of that plan, with Jegeus and Hanneman overseeing the overseas side of the business. Here’s Fox’s release:
LOS ANGELES (January 7, 2014) __ Twentieth Century Fox Film (Fox) has hired Marc Weinstock as President of Domestic Theatrical Marketing, reporting to co-Presidents of Worldwide Theatrical Marketing & Distribution, Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus. Weinstock, who joins Fox on January 13, will oversee all domestic marketing functions for the studio.
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UPDATE, 12:16 AM PT: Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity scored 11 nominations from the British Academy this morning including Best Film, Best British Film, Best Director and Leading Actress for Sandra Bullock. It led the pack of movies recognized by BAFTA and is followed by 12 Years A Slave and American Hustle with 10 nods each across the major categories. Captain Phillips drew nine mentions; Behind The Candelabra – released theatrically in the UK – has five, as does Saving Mr Banks. The latter film has underperformed at the British box office, but it clearly found a mark with voters. It world premiered in London and both of its stars, Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, recently made a point of stopping by BAFTA for lengthy sit-downs and a look back at their careers. Thompson is nominated in the Leading Actress category for the film and Hanks is also a Leading Actor candidate, although he’s up for Captain Phillips which is also a Best Film contender. But back to Gravity: It’s also vying in the original screenplay, original music, cinematography, editing, production design, sound and special visual effects races. Notably, Gravity is nominated as both Best Film and Best British Film, something I expected might happen. The same thing goes for Philomena which scored … Read More »
UPDATED Monday, 4:15 PM: Most grosses have been updated below as distributors have been reporting new numbers today. We’ll be updating as we receive them.
There were a handful of milestones at the international box office this weekend amongst studio pics, although total overseas grosses were down around 21% on the comparable year-ago frame when Life Of Pi was the top film. This year, Warner Bros‘ The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug crossed the $500M mark internationally, adding $58.2M in 62 markets, on par with the first Hobbit in terms of weekend take. Smaug has been the top movie overseas since release and has an estimated overseas cume of $527M with continued No. 1s in Germany, Australia and the UK. Its domestic take is $229M for a total of about $766M worldwide. Two big markets to come for the film are China on February 21st and Japan on February 28th, although the latter is showing weaker returns for Hollywood fare overall. Disney‘s Frozen surpassed $600M globally this weekend to make it the highest-grossing Disney Animation release of all time behind The Lion King. Frozen added $55.7M and now has an international cume of $343.9M. Combined with the domestic gross, its estimated global cume is $639.6M. In another watershed, Lionsgate‘s The Escape Plan … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: One of the most compelling movie questions coming into 2014 is, what film will Steven Spielberg direct? I don’t know if this is next or far down the line, but here is a tantalizing possibility: I’m told that he has his sights on Montezuma, an epic tale of the kinship and ultimately the bloody collision between Montezuma and Cortez as the latter led the Spanish infiltration into Mexico. I’ve heard that Javier Bardem has sparked to playing the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez, and that the catalyst here is a nearly 50-year old script by Dalton Trumbo that is being rewritten by Steve Zaillian, who teamed with Spielberg on the Oscar-winning Schindler’s List.
Zaillian is boarding this project as producer, likely alongside Spielberg and his DreamWorks team. The rights are now controlled by DreamWorks, but Zaillian’s first look deal is at Fox and I don’t know if a team-up there is in the works. Zaillian is currently producing the Moses epic Exodus for Fox, with Ridley Scott directing Christian Bale in the lead role.
This project could be retitled Cortez, since the viewpoint will be from the latter character to be played by fellow Spaniard Bardem. The project, considered one of the great unmade scripts in moviedom, has an illustrious history. Trumbo wrote it for actor/producer Kirk Douglas, with whom he did the classics Spartacus and Lonely Are the Brave. Trumbo turned in a 205-page draft in 1965, when Martin Ritt was supposed to direct Douglas in the film. It never happened. Read More »
The UK emerged in 2013 as an increasingly attractive location destination with new and expanded tax credits – but can it stand the bulge? Hollywood has cozied up to Britain, not only bringing its films there to shoot, but now its TV programs while it also continues to plumb it as a source of original drama to be remade in the U.S. Across the Channel, after a wake-up call in the waning days of 2012 by France‘s influential Vincent Maraval of Wild Bunch, the local industry spent 2013 debating its rich subsidy system that’s spent big (too big?) on talent. Germany‘s local share of the box office is expected to be down for 2013, only slightly, but it’s been fertile ground for the studios working in local language. Meanwhile, Olympics host Russia is seeing its star rise while Italy and Spain are still undergoing financial woes. And yet, nothing seems rotten in the state of Denmark where the box office is top heavy with local films and a new drama series could be the Danes’ answer to Downton Abbey. Here’s a look back at 2013 and some glimpses of what 2014 may hold:
The British government has strongly backed the film and television business by increasing tax breaks this year. But in so doing, has it backed the industry into a corner? Arguably one of the biggest stories out of the UK in … Read More »
There may be a couple of eye-openers about individual producers who didn’t get nominated (sorry Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio – see below) but there were no huge surprises, and no slam dunk front runner either, from the Producers Guild Of America‘s list of ten films competing for their Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures (now in its 25th year) with expected bids going to a lot of titles that have been showing up on other lists including American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Saving Mr. Banks, 12 Years A Slave and Wolf Of Wall Street. The list is rounded out by a couple of smaller films, Focus Features’ micro-budgeted, long gestating Dallas Buyers Club and Sony Pictures Classics’ Blue Jasmine from Woody Allen.
The latter is considered an awards front runner for Cate Blanchett’s lead performance this year but was thought to be possibly a longer shot for Picture. This helps its Oscar chances big time since PGA is likely representing industry sentiments and has a large crossover with Academy voters. And even though they are from major studios both Her and Nebraska are also smaller films that resonated with the PGA membership which in the past has often tended to throw bones to some bigger- budgeted contenders such as the James Bond juggernaut, Skyfall last year. Not so this year. But despite a lack of huge blockbuster-type films (save Gravity maybe) it was a … Read More »
Dame Judi Dench is poised to have a very happy new year. She is certainly no stranger to awards, but there could be more in her immediate future. She’s had 6 Oscar nominations and one win as 1998 Supporting Actress for an eight minute role in Shakespeare In Love. There are also 11 Golden Globe nominations and two wins. And then the British superstar can also boast of an astounding 25 BAFTA nominations and 10 wins split between her film and television work — the most recent coming for her final appearance as M opposite James Bond in 2012′s Skyfall. So what does she need another one for?
The fact is she’s back in awards contention in a big way again this season in Philomena, another signature role as Philomena Lee, a true life story of a woman who had to give up her young child for adoption in the Irish orphanage where she worked — only to search for him 50 years later and discover some startling truths along the way. She’s already racked up SAG, Globe and Critics Choice Movie Award nominations for the crowd-pleasing film (which also has a Best Drama Picture bid at the Globes too) and seems a sure thing for another go at the Oscars when nominations are announced January 16th. This would be her fifth nod (in addition to Mrs. Brown, Iris, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Notes On A Scandal) as actress in a leading role , quite a feat for a performer at any age but particularly one who just turned 79 years old earlier this month. A win would make her the second oldest ever (after Driving Miss Daisy’s Jessica Tandy) to nab the Best Actress Oscar.
Related: The Real ‘Philomena’ Answers NY Post Critic Who Condemns Her Film Read More »