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Movie Academy Invites 271 New Members

Movie Academy Invites 271 New MembersThe 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:

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CinemaCon: Will Confab Be A Calm Moment Before An Exhibition Industry Storm?

CinemaCon2014_badgeIt sure looks that way as exhibition and studio execs prepare to head to Las Vegas next week for the annual confab. There are no obvious, explosive controversies to address this time out — which is unusual. Since 2011, when the meeting formerly known as ShoWest became CinemaCon, “some big issue has blown up,” Cinemark CEO Tim Warner tells us. “I hope that doesn’t happen [this year] because the business is going so good.” Says National Association of Theatre Owners CEO John Fithian: “Sometimes we go into these conventions we go into this with one or two issues, but that’s not the case this year. We’ll be talking about product supply and movies, and how it relates to product returns. We’ll also be talking about technology.”

Related: Deadline Big Media 77 – CinemaCon Preview Podcast

This all comes as the exhibition business is poised for dramatic, and possibly painful, changes as owners deal with consumers who say that ticket prices are too high, a creative boxoffice-moneycommunity that wants better projection and sound quality, studios that want a bigger share of the box office pie, and investors who demand higher dividends.

Cheerleading is to be expected at a trade show, and there’s sure to be a lot as execs look ahead to a tsunami of sequels that could make 2015 a blowout year for box offices. Paramount, Universal, Sony, Fox and Warner Bros will show their product reels. Disney will feature its Jon Hamm-starring sports-themed Million Dollar Arm. Not to be outdone, Lionsgate will feature its sports-themed comedy-drama Draft Day from director Ivan Reitman and starring Kevin Costner, while Universal swings back around with a screening of the comedy Neighbors about newlyweds with a baby who must live next to a fraternity house. And filmmaker Chris Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) will take part in a discussion about his career. The late Tom Sherak will also be honored on Wednesday night at The Pioneers Dinner.

legoOn broad-stroke matters, exhibitors can pretty much cross off their top concern from last year: the dearth of family-oriented titles in Q1 followed by a summer onslaught. Exhibitors wanted family films spaced out better. “We had encouraged the studios to think about that more, and they did,” Fithian says. Family fare from this year’s early months included The Nut Job, The Lego Movie, Mr. Peabody And Sherman, and — this weekend — Muppets Most Wanted.

There’s also been progress on exhibition’s call for more small- and medium-budget movies. As the six big studios cut their output by 40%, Read More »

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UPDATE: Intl Box Office: ‘300: Rise Of An Empire’ Lifts To $88.8M; ‘Non-Stop’ Passes $100M Worldwide; More

cinemaworld6th UPDATE, MONDAY 9:09 PM PT: Updated numbers for Best Picture Oscar winner 12 Years a Slave and Pompeii have been added below. 12 Years a Slaves cume internationally is now $104.5M and its worldwide total stands at $157.6M.

5TH UPDATE, MONDAY 12:20 PM PT: Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures’ 300: Rise Of An Empire is now tracking up 11% over the original 300 internationally. Revised numbers have just come in from Warner which says the movie took $88.8M in 58 markets. Some of the major territories were slightly down, but the overall cume was up. The Lego Movie was slightly lower than predicted at $9.6M on 5,585 screens, however the overall overseas cume is $135.4M, a small bolt off the originally estimated $135.6M. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug added a confirmed $7.5M internationally — down from the estimated $8M — and with $679.7M total; again, a breath away from the previously reported cume of $680M. As ever, numbers are updated in the territory sections below, with more to come as they roll in. Read More »

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UPDATE: International Box Office: ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ Has No. 1 Japan Opening; ‘Lego’ Builds to $121M Overseas; ‘Frozen’ Crossing $1B Worldwide; ‘Robocop’ Takes $20.5M In China; More

By | Monday March 3, 2014 @ 9:00pm PST

cinemaworld6th UPDATE, 9 PM: Final numbers are in for The Lego Movie, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Pompeii and this year’s Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave. All have been updated below. Slave grossed another $7M over the weekend in 55 markets to bring its total international cume to $89.93M and its worldwide to $140.5M. Its top grossing market is the UK, followed by France and Spain where it had a terrific jump of 56% at the box office. It also had a nice 20% bump in Australia. It will open in Japan on Friday, the first territory to open since winning the Oscar. The other big winner at the Oscars with 7 statues, Gravity is still playing to bring its international cume up to $436.9M for a worldwide total of $707.3M. The breakdown of grosses territory by territory are below.

5th UPDATE, Monday 12:33 PM: Ride Along numbers have been updated as have some of grosses of  The Wolf Of Wall Street. Meanwhile, Dallas Buyers Club, which won Matthew McConaughey an Oscar is currently in its Latin American run and film has a cume of $1.16M in 10 markets, grossing $354K on 221 screens. It only has one more territory in Latin America to open before it completes its international run and to date has a worldwide total of about $32M on a $5M budget shot over only 23 days. Interesting to note also that Universal’s 47 Ronin is still playing in 23 territories for a total cume to date of $107.4M with four more territories to open over the next couple of months, including Italy and France.
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UPDATE: Int’l Box Office: ‘Lego Movie’ Builds $93.5M Overseas; ‘Desolation Of Smaug’ Sets Records In China; ‘Frozen’ Hits $980M Worldwide; ‘Robocop’ Big In Brazil; More

cinemaworld3rd UPDATE, 3:20 PM PT Monday:  The Lego Movie has upped its overseas weekend cume to $24M in its 48 markets due to stronger UK and France numbers. It now has an international total estimated at $93.5M. Key building block territories yet to bow include Russia, Japan, Australia and Germany. In the UK, Lego took the wind out of the box office with a 55% share among the top five films and its gross actually increased 1% from opening weekend. It has taken $36M in the UK legosince its debut. The French opening also came in higher than expected this frame with $3.1M from 521 screens. With U.S. cumes this weekend (where it was No. 1 for the third week in a row), the worldwide total is now $276.5M. Also via Warner Bros, Best picture Oscar contender Gravity‘s new cume worldwide is $703.6M after this weekend with international repping $434.4M. We are still waiting on confirmed opening weekend numbers from China for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.

2ND UPDATE, 2:10 PM PT MONDAY: Actuals are trickling in with no huge surprises in the bunch so far. Universal added figures for Ride Along, the Ice Cube/Kevin Hart action comedy that’s been so hot Stateside. It bowed in Iceland and South Africa this weekend with $20K at seven dates and $87K at 50 dates, respectively. Its … Read More »

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Int’l Box Office: Wavering ‘Wolf’ Reports, ‘Lego’ Building Big Numbers, ‘RoboCop’ No. 1 In 15 Markets, ‘Endless Love’ Opens in 25 Markets and ‘Monuments Men’ in 19

Box office7TH UPDATE, WEDNESDAY 5:50 PM: Most numbers for The Wolf Of Wall Street are now in, putting the overseas cume at $225.5M in 48 markets, according to Red Granite. That number was hard-fought this evening and we’ve spent several hours verifying it. Initally this weekend, Deadline was told the overseas cume was $175M, then we heard $225M, with a pit-stop at $212M. When we inquired as to the potential discrepancy of $50M or therabouts we were ultimately told that differences in reporting times were the culprit. In any case, Wolf openings this week included Taiwan with $988K, Ukraine with $346K and Hong Kong with a three-day take of $550K. Individual territories are updated below with local cumes.

6th UPDATE, TUESDAY 5:00 PM: A flurry of new grosses and big territories added below including Germany, Australia, Japan and Korea. Top five film grosses are available now in each market. All numbers updated, but The Wolf of Wall Street total cumes worldwide.

5th UPDATE, MONDAY, 2:25 PM: Updated grosses on The Lego Movie show that the Warner Bro. film, which is in playing in 42 markets, is higher than previously thought, raising the weekend take to $28.4M for a international cume of $52.3M in only two weeks of release. That means that the animated film is poised to pass the $200M mark worldwide in just a couple of days as the domestic cume is expected to rise to $143.7M after the U.S. Presidents Day holiday weekend. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has a total international cume of $604.2M. Adding in the domestic take of $256.2M and worldwide the second Hobbit picture has grossed $860.4M. The first in the trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, grossed $714M in its international run, which amounted to 70% of its total worldwide cume of $1B. Smaug is on the same track, with 70% of its box office coming from international markets. It has yet to debut in two major territories: China and Japan. It will hit theaters in China on Feb. 21 and Japan on Feb. 28.

New grosses are added below and will be continually updated in the copy below as they come in throughout the afternoon and evening and into tomorrow.

Related: Domestic Box Office: ‘Lego’ Blocks ’80s Remakes In Valentine’s Day/President’s Day Weekend Read More »

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Annie Awards: ‘Frozen’ Wins Big Including Best Feature; Miyazaki Gets Best Writing; Spielberg Honored; ‘Futurama’ & ‘Sofia’ Top TV; ‘Get A Horse!’ Best Short

Annie Award WinnersDisney’s Frozen was on fire tonight at the 41st Annie Awards and now is generating real heat for the upcoming Academy Awards. Having made $864.4M worldwide at the box office since its late-November release, the 3D fantasy musical snagged 5 Annies tonight. Frozen won Best Animated Feature, Best Directing for Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, Best Music, Production Design and a Voice Acting win for Josh Gad. who also was a presenter. Whether this will translate into Oscar gold remains to be seen. Last year’s big Annie winner, Wreck-It Ralph, which Lee co-wrote, ended up losing the Best Animated Feature Oscar to Pixar’s Brave. However, the 2012 Annie Feature winner Rango did win at the Oscars that year.

“We haven’t even started talking about a sequel yet,” Frozen co-director Jennifer Lee told me before the ceremony started. “We’ve talked about the Broadway musical but not a sequel. No one’s even mentioned it,” said Lee, who just flew in today from a promotional visit to Tokyo.

frozen2With 30 awards handed out and hosted by Patrick Warburton, this year’s Annies from UCLA’s Royce Hall also saw animation trailblazer Hayao Miyazaki take home the Writing in an Animated Feature award for The Wind Rises and Disney’s Mickey Mouse throwback pic Get A Horse! — which played before screenings of Frozen — take the Best Animated Short prize. Steven Spielberg, Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo and Star Wars and Jurassic Park effects whiz Phil Tippett were honored with the Annies’ prestigious Winsor McCay for their contribution to the art form. DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods garnered three awards, for Best Animated Effects in an Animated Production, Character Design and Character Animation. The Chris Meledandri-headed Illumination and Universal’s Despicable Me 2 took the Best Animated TV/Broadcast Commercial award.

A recap of Deadline’s live blog of tonight’s show follows the winners list below.

Related:
Disney’s ‘Frozen’ Stays Hot With Sing-Along Version Headed To Theaters
‘Despicable Me 2′ Breaks Records In $80M Home Vid Debut
OSCARS: Best Animation 2013 – Titans Vs. Indies In A Wide Open Race

Toy-Story-of-TerrorThe Halloween special Toy Story of Terror! and Disney Mickey Mouse each won three awards. Best General Audience Animated TV Production and best Writing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production went to Futurama, while Disney’s Sofia The First picked up the category’s Preschool Children award. Industrial Light & Magic’s Pacific Rim team won the Animated Effects in a Live Action Production for their work on Warner Bros and Legendary’s apocalyptic blockbuster.

After a slightly late start, host Warburton kicked off the show by making a joke that he has “no experience as a host” but that the Annies are his favorite awards show. He later said of Royce Hall, “What a terrific venue to have the Annies — or, if you’re Seth MacFarlane, a birthday party.” He added that maybe he shouldn’t have mentioned it because “not everybody here was invited.” Later he said, “We lost Brian the dog on Family Guy this year. That was tragic news for fans of the show. … Tragic news for me would be if I found out Rogaine caused brain cancer.” He added that, “So Seth MacFarlane killed a dog. To me that makes him no better than Michael Vick.” The joke got a big laugh.

Congrats to all who took home an Annie tonight, check out the full list of winners below:

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OSCARS: Reactions To Academy’s Nominations

By | Thursday January 16, 2014 @ 8:23am PST

Anita Busch, Jen Yamato, Diane Haithman and Cari Lynn contributed to this report

Oscar Nominees ReactionsREFRESH FOR LATEST…

Best Picture

American Hustle
For Chuck Roven, one of the producers of American Hustle, it’s been a long journey to the Oscar red carpet as he receives his first Academy Award nomination. Roven, who started in the film industry in 1973 and in 1975 hung out his producing shingle, first produced Heart Like A Wheel in 1982 and never stopped making films. "American Hustle" New York Screening - Outside ArrivalsIn recent years has gone on to produce several commercially successful films when Warner Bros put the seasoned producer on its most important franchises — such as Man Of Steel and The Dark Knight Rises. He remembers the beginnings of how Hustle came together. “The original script by Eric Singer was developed by Atlas at Sony and then David (O. Russell) had just finished shooting Silver Linings Playbook and was looking for his next movie, so we gave him the script and he turned it into a David O. Russell film,” Roven said. “We had a really short period of time between juggling pre-production while he was on the Oscar campaign for Silver Linings Playbook,” the film that had been nominated for Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, and all of the four acting categories. “We had an amazing group of people working incredibly hard on the movie. Amazing partners. The fact that the movie got this many nominations from its peer group, it’s so humbling and satisfying to think that your peers — that people you work with — in the secrecy of the film balloting are actually recognizing you and it’s especially humbling where there are so many fantastic works by so many this year.” Roven starts production Monday on Warcraft and also starts later this year on the untitled Zach Snyder project at Warner Bros. that is generally known as Superman v Batman (but that will not be the title).

Related: OSCARS: 86th Academy Award Nominations (Full List)

Dallas Buyers Club
“We’re over the moon how could you not be — I think we’re just kind of going between laughing hysterically, crying, in shock — wow. This is a moment in time we’ll have for the rest of our lives”, said producer Robbie Brenner, also president of production at Relativity Media (“I also have a day job,” she said of that gig). “I think the six nominations really represent the teamwork,” producer Rachel Winter added. “The crew worked so hard; we had no money. Terry (husband Terence Winter) is so thrilled for Dallas Buyers Club. There kind of aren’t words — we were just saying how one day our kids might have this really fun fact: Well, one year, they both went to the Oscars.” Winter said she’s currently in postproduction on Stealing Cars, and is working on films being directed by William H Macy and Michael Morris.

Philomena
“Steve Coogan read a story about the book and there was a photo with Michael Sixsmith (author of the book The Lost Child Of Philomena) and Philomena Lee smiling and this odd couple just piqued his interest and my interest in it,” producer Gabrielle Tana said. “It was such a strong story and we were just driven by the story. Once we had the screenplay in hand and Judi [Dench] came aboard, it was pretty easy to get going then.” With the help of the BBC and Pathe Communications, the picture was financed. Tana is said she is working again with Philomena writers Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan on something right now: an original coming-of-age story. “It’s been a real privilege to do this and we had an amazing team,” she said.

12 Years A Slave
12-years-a-slave-steve-mcqueen-lupita-nyongoOut of the mouths of babes. 12 Years A Slave producer Dede Gardner found out about the Oscar nomination for Best Picture from her young son. “I’ll confess that I woke up at 8 AM. My 9-year-old son came in and said, “You got 9 nominations and now we have to go school.” Said fellow producer Jeremy Kleiner: “I woke up after the broadcast but I spoke to my Mom in New York and she was psyched. My father who passed away was a big movie buff so it was cool.” Gardner and Kleiner have worked together for a decade producing movies together such as World War Z and Eat Pray Love. Asked if they knew there was something special about this film, Gardner said, “We believed it would be great, but you never know if it’s going to be received. We loved it and we just hoped other people would love it too.” Kleiner said, “The dailies were very powerful and effective, but we had 35-day schedule and everyone was working and when you’re inside of it, you’re just doing the work.” One of the interesting things about the screenplay is that it is very faithful to the book, written in 1853. In fact, it begins with the same vernacular of its author, Solomon Northrup, on whom the movie is based. “Steve [McQueen, the director] responded to the formality (of the language),” said Gardner. “It was a powerful contrast to the event that Solomon was living through. It lent an alien quality to the world we are experiencing. Steve found his story so undeniable and so the commitment was really to restoring the story with as much authenticity as you could.” The producers are in post production on two projects currently: The Normal Heart for HBO which will premiere in May and True Story for New Regency. They have yet to pick their next project.

Related: OSCARS: David O Russell’s Nomination Hot Streak

The Wolf Of Wall Street
“I’m on cloud nine. I’m sowolf3 thrilled for Marty and Leo and Terry and oh my god, Jonah. I’m so thrilled for the academy’s recognition of the film. (This morning) I just texted everybody – Marty, Leo, Jonah, Terry, our whole team, as many crew as I could get to, and my phone’s been going off the hook with family and friends. It’s been a celebratory few hours. We could not have done this without the amazing Red Granite, Joey McFarland and Riza Aziz. They stepped up and came in and said, ‘We are here, make the movie you want to make within reason,’ but they never balked at anything. They gave Marty and Leo the creative and financial freedom they needed to make this movie. We would not have a movie without them. For me, running the production on the ground was no small feat but I was a small part of that. I had the most incredible production team, we had a phenomenal creative team for Marty in place. Everybody from our grips to our teamster to our ADs, everybody just gave 200 percent and we just knocked it out for these guys and made sure every day Marty and Leo were armed with the means they needed to make this incredible film.” –Emma Tillinger Koskoff

Gravity
“What’s great is it’s a reward for Alfonso [Cuaron], whose vision really this is, and the thousands of people who worked to make the film. It’s a great reward. The journey of the film in many ways mirrors the themes, which is adversity and rebirth. It was at Universal, it came to WB – it died and was reborn. Through every step of the way there was adversity. Looking back now it’s amazing it has done as well as it has at the box office. It may seem obvious now but it wasn’t at the time. Making a film with so many taboos – two people alone in space, where their voices are muddled, and the performances are given through visors in space suits where you can’t see their physical expression… and yet it connected. It’s been amazing. The fact that critics and audiences have embraced it so has been rewarding.” — producer David Heyman

Best Actor

Bruce Dern, Nebraska
brucedern1“There are three people nominated this year, and go figure, I’m the baby of the group — there’s June Squibb, Judi Dench, and me,” Dern said. “It’s like the peers of ours, if you will, have all gotten together and said, ‘Hey, there are still roles! And they’re good roles, in very good movies!’ I think these nominations will pump hope into people who are older and still looking to make a living as an actor or actress. I am quite honored to be included, it’s really big stuff. And I’m saying this even though I started out with Roger Corman. I also hope this helps more people discover Nebraska. The hardest thing about this role was the detachment and being there, but not really being there all the time. It was there on the page, though — it was all there on the page. Now, June [Squibb] brought something to her role that wasn’t there on the page, I couldn’t have done what she did. Her rashness and her courage to just blow that sh*t out! Will Forte, he should have gotten a nomination, he’s the lynchpin to this movie. For 20 years he’s done the opposite, broad jokes, broad humor, so to him just there doing this was really something.” As for what’s next? “I’m not sure. The exciting thing is who will step forward and say, ‘Come on down!’ I’m always excited at how other people will see me and cast me. And what writers dare to dream that I might have a chance to play now. That’s the joy of Alexander Payne — he’s made six movies, and he’s had nominations in every movie. He gives people opportunities that no one’s used to seeing. He loves to surprise audiences. He gets it, he just flat out gets it.

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf Of Wall Street
“I’m very excited that the film got this much attention. It’s an honor to be recognized for a film like this. What Marty [Scorsese] does is he doesn’t judge his characters. He ultimately puts these people onscreen as authentically as he possibly can and lets the audience extract what they can from it…. The reaction we wanted was for there to be a dialogue about this attitude. This is a very destructive attitude, and what some people don’t get is that is ultimately not a cautionary tale but an indictment of this world…. It’s not often you get the opportunity to do movies that are that loose and take that many chances.” — DiCaprio

Related: OSCARS: Leonardo DiCaprio On Scorsese, ‘Wolf’: “I Knew It Would Be Polarizing”

Dallas Buyers ClubMatthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
“I was making all the choices for the experience, because there’s something in the material I found original, because I felt I would be able to work with directors and a production that would allow the freedom to tell the story in an honest way and never try to placate or bring it back to the middle … there was always a wonderful risk in all of these choices and that turned me on. Now, kind of for the first time on this scale, here come these results! I win a Golden Globe other night, the movie is nominated for Best Picture and Best Screenplay at the Oscars, Jared [Leto]’s work is being recognized – these results are coming in! Usually you finish a movie, you move on, you go make something else, they call the you back to promote a film… well, this one sticking around! It’s relevant, it’s more than relevant – it’s vital right now.” – McConaughey

Related: Sundance: Robert Redford Claims “No Campaign” From Roadside Attractions

Best Actress

Amy Adams, American Hustle
“It’s so exciting to me that everybody was recognized – I know how much work went making this movie in all categories, so it’s nice to see not only cast but wardrobe, and I feel it’s a real acknowledgement for the crew who worked really hard. David [O. Russell] knew after The Fighter even if he wrote a walk-on that I would show up for him. I felt like he really gave me a great opportunity to break type in The Fighter and that wasn’t an opportunity I was getting at the time. To be honest, I was a little scared because the way he described her she was really such a complex character and I knew I had to surrender something of myself to accomplish her. She’s playing so many roles so you have to develop who she is and then on top of it play the role. It was one of those characters where I thought, ‘Gosh, if I don’t get this right the level of humiliation will be up there,’ [laughs], you know? I think that’s a normal fear going into anything, then you surrender to that fear. You have to. You want to grow. I’ve never wanted to be a type.” — Adams

Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Gravity-c“It’s not just the feeling of what’s happening now, it’s also what the last two years have been like with the amazing experience of Gravity. All we cared about was that Alfonso [Cuaron] got recognized because this is his story, his journey, his life story. I feel like I have an embarrassment of riches and now something horrible is going to happen. [Laughs] But I want to not blow through this. I want to savor every moment, I want to enjoy it. I want to hang out with my fellow ladies like I have been when we see each other on these crazy press tours. I just don’t want to miss a thing, like Aerosmith said. Yes the circumstances were bizarre and difficult. You’re acting by yourself and are forced to dig deep to find emotions hanging from things and being in pain and twisted… but you also got to have this amazing, never-done-before experience. We didn’t think we were making a blockbuster – we thought we were making an art house film that happens to be in space, it’s existential, and it has these beautiful life metaphors. I’m sure the studio can tell you didn’t think in a million years this film would make a dime. But Alfonso stayed with his vision, he knew what he was making.” – Bullock Read More »

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Best Box Office Ever? Biggest Hollywood Franchises Explode In 2015 On Historic Collision Course

star-wars-logoIn 2011, Iron Man (I and II) director Jon Favreau called the summer of 2011, “a bloodbath for Hollywood” because of the number big-budget special effects films, remakes and sequels. Pfft! Wait until you get a load of next year. The amount of big-budget sequel fare and remakes set for 2015 from the major studios is mind-boggling and add to that highly anticipated films such as Fifty Shades Of Grey and another Quentin Tarantino film in the same year and you have all the makings for the biggest movie going year in history. The year is even going to start out hitting the ground running with audience-familiar titles, but it’s the summer and holiday season of 2015 that will be packed like no other — which brings up serious questions about what will happen as some of the biggest franchises in history collide? Remember, these films need major market exposure on over 2,500-3,000 screens or more to open big and some of them hope to play for weeks. This is going to be a star-studded war. I guess it was inevitable when studios ride out the franchises as far as they do now … what are we on Mission: Impossible 5 and Fast & Furious 7 now? And we have another Star Wars on our hands.

Related: Top 10 Domestic Box Office Grossers Of 2013 (Slideshow)

Mockingjay Book CoverThe year 2015 will go down in the books as the World Cup of franchise players: Superman vs. Batman vs. The Avengers vs. Mad Max vs. Fast & Furious vs. Jurassic Park vs. Terminator vs. Fantastic Four 3D, Marvel’s Ant-Man vs. Assassins vs. Untitled Bourne Identity, and then James Bond vs. Star Wars vs. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 vs. Mission Impossible for top film of the year.

In kid fare, parents should be ready to be pulled to the theater time and time again (sacrificing much-needed sleep) with Cinderella, Monster Trucks, The Penguins Of Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda 3, The Jungle Book, Alvin And The Chipmunks 4, Peanuts, The Smurfs 3, Tomorrowland, and SpongeBob 2.

Practically every genre in 2015 is looking at proven titles: The year will start with the typical early year horror film fare — again no stopping franchise names — Amityville from Dimension and Frankenstein starring Daniel Radcliffe both in January, and Friday the 13th and Poltergeist. That will be followed by Fifty Shades Of Grey, based on the mega-selling book by EL James, which bows in February before the floodgates open again on sequels and remakes.

Related: Despicable Me 3′ Set For June 2017 Release

The plethora of franchise titles will likely push the 2015 box office to record-breaking heights as this year’s holdovers from the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday fare — such as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (which bows on November 21), Fox’s Night At The Museum 3 and Sony’s Annie and Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: There And Back Again (or should it be called The Hobbit: Here It Comes Again) will also add to the huge overall gross numbers of 2015. Read More »

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UPDATE: International Box Office: ‘Despicable Me 2′ Has $14.4M Weekend In China; ‘Frozen’, ‘Smaug’ Hit Milestones; ‘Book Thief’ Steals Spain; Scorsese Scores In Denmark; More

cinemaworld1UPDATE, MONDAY 12:39 PM PT: Actuals from the overseas weekend box office are starting to roll in with Universal among the first to report. Despicable Me 2‘s China opening weekend ended higher than the studio had predicted with $14.4M as opposed to the estimated $13.8M. The original estimate was based on a screen count of 3,000 and ultimately, Universal is now reporting the movie played at 4,500 dates, including all 141 IMAX screens, as previously noted. (It’s not unusual for screen counts to shift so drastically in China from what’s expected at the outset to what becomes reality.) In any case, DM2’s opening is the 3rd biggest ever for an animated film (on regular and IMAX screens) behind Kung Fu Panda‘s $16.2M in 2008 and Ice Age: Continental Drift‘s $19.4M in 2012. The gross in China, which is DM2‘s last international territory, brings the overseas cume to $567.8M and the worldwide cume to $935.8M. Today, DM2 will pass Finding Nemo to become the third highest-grossing animated film of all time worldwide. As for other notable updates, The Wolf Of Wall Street, which Universal has in nine territories, upped its score in Denmark in the actuals with $1.1M versus a previous estimate of $961K at 74 dates; it’s the best opening ever for a Martin Scorsese film in the country. Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug offically passed the $800M mark with a worldwide cume now … Read More »

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OSCARS: Which Visual Effects Contenders Can Fight ‘Gravity’s Pull?

Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor.

Gravity Oscars vfxExpect Gravity to be as powerful and inevitable a force in the visual-effects category at this year’s Oscars as, well, gravity. Offering more than just snazzy visuals — about 95% of what’s on screen is digital — Gravity’s visual-effects supervisor Tim Webber fulfilled many artists’ dreams by working from the start with director Alfonso Cuaron and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki to completely embed the effects into the storytelling and filmmaking process.

The space drama also has some serious cachet as a more artistic use of effects — a quality Academy voters have AwardsLinerewarded recently with trophies for Life of Pi, Hugo and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. With Gravity offering a seemingly irresistible complete package, it looks as if the other nine Academy short-list contenders will just have to aspire to impress the effects branch enough at the Jan. 9 bake-off to score one of five Oscar nominations on Jan. 16.

In addition to Gravity, the short list includes Elysium, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Oblivion, Star Trek Into Darkness, Thor: The Dark World, Pacific Rim and World War Z. The most obvious question about the list is: How did the year’s highest-profile boxoffice dud, The Lone Ranger, make the cut and Man of Steel did not? Read More »

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Year-End: Legal Battles Of 2013 And Beyond – Aereo, ‘Hobbit’ Sequels, ‘Walking Dead’ Vs. Frank Darabont, Prospect Park & ‘Godzilla’

One in a series of Deadline stories that look back on 2013 and ahead to 2014.

NEW DJP LEGAL BADGEIt was a year that saw the Weinsteins and Warner Bros clash over the title of The Butler and then get into the ring again for The Hobbitsequels. 2013 also witnessed the first fired Walking Dead showrunner wanting to take a bite out ofAMC for his piece of the cable blockbuster, a  Ray Donovan EP nailed by the feds in a big-time gambling scheme right out of the Showtime Hollywood fixer series and a monster of a legal drama in the YearEnd2013_badge__131227212819making as Legendary Pictures tried to swat some seasoned producers off its Godzilla reboot. In the end, with those cases and more, the Hollywood legal landscape of 2013 proved to be a stringent reminder of why they call it show business and not show friends.

With money and rights at the basis of most of the disputes, the complaints and motions were as numerous as locusts and as prevalent as rats, with many of them spilling over into 2014 and perhaps beyond. Just ask Barry Diller and Les Moonves as streaming service Aereo and CBS and other broadcasters suit up for a potential Supreme Court winner-takes-all showdown next year. Or Prospect Park as it fights ABC in a $125 million suit over licensed soaps All My Children and One Life To Live while having to contend with a complaint from co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz seeking a declaratory judgment from the court over non-compete clauses in his contract with the company. Sure, sometimes weapons are lowered like when Paramount and asset management firm Content Partners reached Paramount100__130517234217-200x151__130607180615__131212203235an undisclosed settlement on December 12 in their $45 million film financing slate dust-up after three years going at it in the courts. With a pivotal hearing looming, that was realpolitik in action as the sudden deal allowed the studio to sidestep dragging JPMorgan Chase, which corporate parent Viacom has significant banking dealings with, into the protracted case despite the blessing of the presiding judge. However, with the grinding duration of a lot of the legal disputes in this town, such resolution is rare, even when the end seems in sight.

superman-comic-30-2__121011182348-2-2__130321233701__130405012002-1__130419004954__131213030639Look for instance at Warner Bros and the seemingly never-ending Superman heirs’ rights battle. After a string of seemingly conclusive legal wins this year, WB and subsidiary DC Comics now could face more Krypton courtroom drama in 2014. On December 10, the co-creators heirs’ attorneys Marc Toberoff and Keith G. Adams petitioned the 9th Circuit for either a rehearing by the panel that found in the studio’s favor on November 21 or by the full court itself. If that effort fails, they could take the matter to the SCOTUS. Even with all the billings that O’Melveny & Myers get to make to WB after years of litigation, the sharp-elbowed Daniel Petrocelli and Matthew Kline must want to be able to declare a super-lawyer victory and move on – after all, they also have the Trouble With The Curve copyright suit to handle for the studio and a February 24 hearing on a summary judgment motion in that case by plaintiffs Ryan A. Brooks and Gold Glove Productions to fend off.  Read More »

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‘The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug’ Breaks Box Office Record Down Under

By | Thursday December 26, 2013 @ 3:25pm PST

tauriel-kicks-ass-in-new-tv-spot-for-the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug-watch-now-149430-a-1385366847The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug is off to a smash hit start in Australia having opened on Boxing Day (December 26th) — a national holiday observed by most of the country. The sequel, which dominated the box office with a 60% market share of the top 5 films, grossed an estimated $4.9M in U.S. dollars from 629 screens. It holds the distinction as the second-biggest Boxing Day opening of all time, finishing 7% behind The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It also ranks as the biggest Thursday opening in Australia. Warner Bros’ Desolation Of Smaug opened about 10 days earlier in New Zealand (where Peter Jackson is making the Hobbit trilogy) with a four-day gross of $1.85M from 201 screens. That also logged a 10% higher box office gross than An Unexpected Journey’s record-breaking showing a year earlier. Smaug also gave the studio its biggest-ever weekend opening in Russia and opened in the top spot there with an estimated $18.8M from 2,115 screens, tracking ahead of the original. It has been No. 1 in Germany and has been outperforming the original Hobbit there and in France. The total take in the UK alone is more than $32M.

Related: Christmas Day Box Office: ‘Hobbit’ No. 1, ‘Wolf’ Gives Chase Read More »

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International Box Office Update: ‘Desolation Of Smaug’ Adds $97.4M To Edge Ahead of First ‘Hobbit’; ‘Anchorman 2′ Nearly Triples 1st Pic’s Total; ‘Dinosaurs’ Roam; ‘Dhoom’ Vrooms; ‘About Time’ Record; More

International box office highlights: Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug added $97.4M in its second outing for a $278.4M cume; now running neck-and-neck with An Unexpected Journey. The studio had a record opening in Russia and has been given a China release date of February 21st. Paramount’s Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was the biggest overseas opening weekend ever for a Will Ferrell movie with $13.4M in six territories, almost tripling the first movie’s $5M international career total. Fox’s Walking With Dinosaurs landed $13.8M in 40 markets on its debut. Universal’s 47 Ronin bowed No. 1 in Malaysia for an estimated $1.1M at 91 dates, beating its Japanese start two weeks ago of $1.05M at 333 locations. The same studio’s About Time is now the biggest foreign romantic comedy ever in Korea and the studio’s biggest film in the territory this year. India’s Dhoom 3 broke records at home and abroad.

smaugUPDATE: MONDAY, 12:30 PM: Final numbers are arriving to show that The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug actually brought in a higher gross than estimated with a total haul of $97.4M from 16,840 screens in 56 markets, representing a drop of -42% from last weekend’s opening.  The international cume to date is now $278.4M and it has edged ahead of the first Hobbit (in the same markets at the same point in release). The worldwide cume is now $406M. Studio expectations are that the sequel will ultimately gross very close to the first Hobbit when all is said and done. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ended with a total international cume of $714.M. The other WBros.’ title in the marketplace, Gravity, also ended up slightly more — $4.1M from 1,769 screens in 32 markets.  The international cume to date of $398.8M for Desolation of Smaug now stands just a smidgen higher than its weekend estimate. It currently ranks number one in the UK, Germany, France and Spain in its second weekend. It is still yet to open in Australia (Dec. 26), China (Feb. 21) and Japan (Feb. 28). Totals for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire were higher than estimated. In 86 markets, it took in another $12.2M for a total cume of $394.5M.

The weekend overall was down across distributors by about 27% versus last weekend, but only 9% versus last year, data indicates. According to international estimates, Warner BrosThe Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug was the big performer overseas in its 2nd frame, adding $96M on 16,830 screens across 56 markets. The estimated haul was a 43% drop from last weekend’s opening and gives the film a $276.3M cume for parity with 2012′s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the same point in release in the same markets.

anchorman 2Among the new openers, Paramount‘s Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues had the biggest debut weekend internationally for a Will Ferrell movie. The sequel to 2004′s Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy opened in six territories outside North America and brought in an estimated $13.4M. That’s kind of a big deal when compared to the first film whose career total overseas was $5M. Ferrell is better-known now outside the States than in 2004, and with the promotional push the movie has gotten this time around, it was a safe bet the follow-up would outperform. Its five-day opening gross in the UK is estimated at $7.4M, or 725% better than the first installment, Paramount says. Australia opened at No. 1 with $5.2M from 243 theaters, nearly seven times the first Anchorman. In New Zealand, the film opened at 64 locations for $480K, slotting in at No. 2 behind the homegrown The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug. With $200K at 54 locations in Sweden, Anchorman 2 bested the entire $24K lifetime gross of the first film on its opening day (does it help that Ferrell’s wife is Swedish?). The next international territory to open will be Germany in late January. Latin America opens in early February.

Walking-With-Dinosaurs-The-3D-MovieFox‘s Walking With Dinosaurs roamed for the first time this weekend, breaking into 40 markets for a total estimated haul of $13.8M from 7,576 screens. Of those 40 markets, six are non-Fox distributed. Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale directed the CG/live-action movie that’s based on the 1999 BBC miniseries and a live touring show that was seen by more than 8 million people around the world. The 3D movie was originally financed by Reliance, and Fox picked up U.S. and other international rights back in 2010. The story is set 70 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period and follows the adventures of an underdog dino named Patchi. The voice cast includes John Leguizamo, Justin Long, Tiya Sircar and Skyler Stone. This weekend, the film claimed the No. 2 or No. 3 market share position in most bows. Read More »

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TNT Picks Up ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ TV Rights

By | Monday December 23, 2013 @ 9:47am PST
Nellie Andreeva

Hobbit-Desolation-of-Smaug-Bilbo-medFX has been picking up virtually every tentpole movie over the past couple of years. But The Lord Of The Rings franchise has been a TNT property, and the network just added the latest title, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, which finished No. 1 in the domestic boxoffice this weekend and has brought in $127.5 million domestically and $403.8 million worldwide in 10 days of release. Turner’s ties with Warner Bros., which is behind the J.R.R. Tolkien movie adaptations, help it secure the Lord Of the Rings trilogy, with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring premiering on TNT in 2004. The network followed with the premieres of The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers in 2005 and Best Picture Oscar winner The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King in 2006. The first film in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, makes its debut on TNT in 2015. It will be followed by The Desolation Of Smaug in 2016. “TNT has been the primary television home to Tolkien’s Middle Earth for nearly a decade,” said TNT president Michael Wright. “We’re proud to continue our association with these extraordinary and enormously popular epics with the acquisition of The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug.”

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UPDATE: Overseas Box Office: ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ Bests 1st Pic; ‘Gravity’ Pulls In Japan; ‘Frozen’ Melts Russia

the-hobbit-desolation-of-smaug-gold-pile-970x04TH UPDATE MONDAY 1:45 PM, PT: Box office for the top 10 international films this weekend was up versus last weekend, but according to industry data, it’s 25% down on the same frame in 2012. On both occasions there was a Hobbit movie at the theaters, but the discrepancy doesn’t come from how this year’s Warner Bros sequel, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, is faring compared to An Unexpected Journey: The new film is performing 3% ahead overseas. Instead, there were two non-Hollywood movies that goosed overseas box office this time last year: Lost In Thailand and One Piece Film: Z. Lost In Thailand, you’ll recall, was the mega-hit out of China that broke records in its late 2012 debut and went on to be the highest-grossing Chinese film ever with over $200M in takings. One Piece Film: Z, based on a popular manga, opened in Japan last year with $16.34M. Also last year, Skyfall was still sleuthing its way around the globe and Rise Of The Guardians was raising coin in its 5th week.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug was the big story of the weekend, rolling out in 49 markets since last Wednesday. Its international haul has come in higher than Sunday’s estimates with an overseas cume of $135.4M. It ranked No. 1 in each of its openings on about 16,405 screens and drew 3% more than An Unexpected Journey. Another Warner Bros film, Gravity, had a super opening in Japan, while Disney’s Frozen melted the Russian box office and Sony’s Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 was bright and shiny in Venezuela and Australia. Here are some of the notable happenings around the globe this weekend:

JAPAN
Gravity had a lot of traction in Japan where it bowed to $3.6M on 544 screens. 3D reps over 78% of the total box office. The film opened in the No. 2 spot behind local hit Lupin III Vs Detective Conan. Also in Japan, Universal’s 47 Ronin brought in another $485K at 331 dates for a 10-day total of $2.8M. The Keanu Reeves samurai pic that has been a disappointment in the territory, next opens in Malaysia and Singapore on December 19th and Indonesia on December 20th. A further 23 territories including Spain and the UK will open day-and-date with North America on Christmas weekend. Catching Fire opens in Japan on December 27th. Smaug goes out in 2014 as does Disney’s Thor: The Dark World. Read More »

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BOX OFFICE FINAL: Weather Impacts BO But Attendance Up Overall Year To Date; ‘The Hobbit’ Lighter But Strong, ‘Frozen’ Steals ‘Madea Christmas’ As ‘American Hustle’ Kicks It On Six Screens

BoxOffice_logo3RD UPDATE, 1:40 PM: Every Monday, we run the final numbers for the Top 20 for the weekend so an accurate accounting can be seen by all. Sony reported this morning that due to a computer glitch, the final per-screen numbers for American Hustle, which played on six screen this weekend, were actually $123,409 not $113,000 as it previously reported. Interesting, too, is that PLF’s (led by 92 Cinemark XD in the U.S.) and IMAX accounted for roughly $15.47M of Warner Bros./MGM’s The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug. Here is the final Top 10 from Rentrak — the full Top 20 list is at the bottom of the post.

Related: Overseas Box Office: ‘The Hobbit’ Bests 1st Pic; ‘Gravity’ Pulls In Japan; ‘Frozen’ Melts Russia

1.  The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, Warner Bros., $73,645,197, 3,903 locations, $18,869 average, $73,645,197, 1 week.

2.  Frozen, Disney, $22,568,138, 3,716 locations, $6,073 average, $164,772,211, 4 weeks.

3. Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, Lionsgate, $16,007,634, 2,194 locations, $7,296 average, $16,007,634, 1 week.

4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Lionsgate, $13,671,666, 3,563 locations, $3,837 average, $357,503,663, 4 weeks.

5. Thor: The Dark World, Disney, $2,820,055, 2,264 locations, $1,246 average, $198,245,744, 6 weeks.

6. Out Of The Furnace,”Relativity Media, $2,425,978, 2,101 locations, $1,155 average, $9,574,440, 2 weeks.

7. Delivery Man, Disney, $1,968,891, 2,041 locations, $965 average, $28,091,575, 4 weeks.

8. Philomena, The Weinstein Company, $1,820,479, 835 locations, $2,180 average, $11,083,457, 4 weeks.

9. The Book Thief, 20th Century Fox, $1,734,679, 1,158 locations, $1,498 average, $14,936,447, 6 weeks.

10. Homefront, Open Road, $1,706,286, 2,103 locations, $811 average, $18,507,155, 3 weeks.

BOX OFFICE THUMBNAIL: Weather impacts this weekend, Attendance overall up from last year: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Warner Bros, wide) playing to lighter numbers than last year’s first installment of the trilogy; Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas (Lionsgate, wide) looks to be lowest opening for a Madea title; American Hustle (Sony, limited) very strong per screens; Saving Mr. Banks (Disney, limited) not banking; Inside Llewyn Davis (CBS Films, expanded to 15 locales) per screens falling fast; Hours starring the late Paul Walker (Pantelion Films – joint venture between Lionsgate and Grupo Televisa– limited in 16 theaters and on VOD).

2ND UPDATE, SUNDAY, 9:20 AM: The severe weather across the nation – winter storms across 23 states and 100 million people – also impacted the nation’s box office this weekend. It seems to have affected the older pictures most. That being said, I will post the newcomers and top five first and then update again with the rest of the pack. Overall, year-to-date attendance is up and expected to surpass $10.7 billion (which was last year’s total). Responding to feedback from readers, will highlight numbers for easier reading.

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug brought in around another $24.4M on Saturday after a Friday haul of $31.1M and is expected at $73.6M (according to WB) for its debut weekend, industry estimates show. The Warner Bros./MGM franchise played on 3,903 theaters for a per screen of around $18,700. The IMAX numbers for Hobbit accounted for about 12.5% of the national gross or about $9.18M in 344 locales. All top 10 locations for Hobbit have IMAX screens. Internationally, The Hobbit has brought in $205M so far for the studio.

“Our suburban business was severely off last night due to the inclement weather,” said Dan Fellman, president of distribution for Warner Bros. Other veteran distributors also noted this, citing up to 50% drops last night in east coast theaters vs. 20% drops in L.A. theaters.

Frozen, the animated family film from the Walt Disney Co., held a solid second place this weekend up about 101% from Friday (family pics traditionally excel on Saturdays) to bring in another $10M in 3,716 theaters and estimates for the weekend are now around $22.3M to $22.7M for the three-day. That would bring its cume up to around $164 million in its four weeks of release. It’s per is about $6,000.

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas from Lionsgate was up 10% from Friday with an estimated take of between $15.8M and $15.9M, a far cry from other outings for the pic which in the past have opened to at least $25M. This is the first time the picture has opened in this time-frame pre-Christmas. It is in 2,194 theaters for an estimated per screen of roughly $7,200. This is Tyler Perry’s and Lionsgate’s 16th collaboration and marks its 8th Madea film together.

American Hustle, which bowed in only six theaters in N.Y and L.A., continued to do well on Saturday night for Sony, adding another $270,000 to bring its estimated weekend per screen total to around $113,000 its debut weekend. Very strong numbers. Up around 30% from Friday night. Estimates have the total gross hovering around the $700,000 mark. The critically-acclaimed picture will go wide next weekend in around 2,500 theaters.

Sony notes that the opening is higher than director David O. Russell’s two previous films, The Fighter (which had a $75,000 average and went on to make $93.6M in domestic  box office and 34.5M overseas) and Silver Linings Playbook $27,687; that went onto make $132M domestically). Both films, likewise, rode critical acclaim and positive word-of-mouth right into Oscar season.

“It’s an incredible start for an incredible film,” said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Sony Pictures. “I think David O’Russell created a film that gives crazy, cool performances that will be savored for years to come.” Those who have seen the picture that I know are planning to go back and see it again. So expect some repeat business and a long tail for this entertaining romp.

Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, on 15 screens in its first weekend out in limited release, was up around %29 from Friday and its per screen averages are running anywhere from $26,000 to $28,000 in estimates right now for the three-day. It rolls out wide next weekend in a marketplace that looks to be packed.

Fourth place is another Lionsgate franchise, Hunger Games: Catching Fire with an estimated Saturday take of anywhere between $5.7M and $5.8M so the three-day puts it at around $13.2M to $13.4M to bring its cume up to about $357M. In 3,663 locales, it has a per screen of around $3,700. Internationally, Lionsgate has the film grossing an estimated $19.5M from 83 markets, so that brings the total international cume to $372.9 million. With the domestic added in, that pushes it to around $730M worldwide in just four weeks of release.

Thor: A Dark World from Disney took in another $1.2M on Saturday and should finish the weekend with another $2.7 million or so to bring its overall cume to around $198M. It is in its sixth week of release. Read More »

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James Cameron To Make ‘Avatar’ Sequels In New Zealand; Government Unveils New Tax Breaks For International Productions

james cameronAfter making Avatar in Wellington, James Cameron’s three sequels are now also lined up to shoot in New Zealand. The Kiwi government says it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox to see the director make each of the next Avatar installments locally. The move doesn’t come as much of a surprise given Cameron/Avatar‘s history Down Under, along with the helmer’s 2012 purchase of oodles of land in South Wairarapa, near Wellington. The news coincides with changes to the tax incentive structure in New Zealand which were also unveiled today. Under the new regs, the new Avatars could qualify for a total rebate of 25%.

avatarWhen the first Avatar was made in New Zealand, it delivered more than NZ$307M in spend for the local economy. The memo of understanding on the new movies includes several commitments inlcuding a spend of at least NZ$500M ($413.1M) on local production activity – ie, most of the live action shooting and VFX. There’s also an engagement to hire Kiwis in Head of Department roles with about 90% of the live action crew expected to be local. New Zealand will also get to host “at least one” official red carpet premiere. (The original film world premiered in London.) James Cameron and John Landau have also offered to serve as founding members of a new screen advisory board. And, there is language on marketing and promotion of New Zealand and its film industry alongside the three Avatar films; the transfer of technological know-how to New Zealanders; retaining screen production infrastructure in New Zealand that could be used for industry training; and a commitment by both parties to grow the screen sector in New Zealand and to building a long term and productive relationship between the Crown and Lightstorm/Twentieth Century Fox.

Meanwhile, changes to the tax incentive scheme announced by the local government today will see a hike in the rebate from 15% to 20% for international film and television productions. A further 5% will be available for international productions that deliver significant economic benefits to New Zealand. An as-yet undefined points system will determine eligibility. Read More »

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BOX OFFICE: ‘The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug’ Grosses $8.8M In Midnight Shows, Faces Different Marketplace This Year

Hobbit Desolation Of Smaug Box OfficeWarner Bros.’ The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug generated $8.8 million from midnight screenings. The studio is calling it “the second biggest midnight numbers ever in December.” Last year, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey brought in about $13 million in a similar number of theaters at midnight.

Now, this reminds me of something I haven’t thought about in a long, long time but could use a mention: The studios are always looking for SOMEthing to tout … SOME way to use the box office to tout its numbers. When this first started years ago, we used to roll our eyes as we’d be told things like, “It’s the second biggest five-day opening for a May.” Everything can be spun, right? Such as, “the second biggest midnight in the South during an election year” or “it’s the highest box office three-day during a leap year.”

Though Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug’s midnight numbers are not ones for the record books, the fact is it is still on track for a big opening this weekend (estimates are around $80 million today) in a crowded marketplace that is very different environment from last year, when theaters had Lincoln and the ending run of Twilight pulling in small numbers. This weekend Hobbit has two very strong contenders in the marketplace for box office dollars with the family film Frozen and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire“We had a fan base that was drooling to see … Read More »

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