The trailer for Universal and Focus Features‘ Fifty Shades Of Grey is due to drop on Thursday this week, but Beyoncé evidently wanted to get a jump on the action, posting a short teaser on Instagram featuring a lot of heavy breathing. The singer’s involvement in the film has not been confiremd, although when some footage was screened at CinemaCon in March, her “Haunted” was heard in the background. The handsy clip below has a remix of Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love”, but no recognizable shots of leads Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson. Awareness of Fifty Shades is already through the roof (97% Want To See on Rotten Tomatoes), and given the performer’s 13,936,206 Instagram followers, it’s a wonder she didn’t break the internet, again. The Sam Taylor-Johnson directed pic starts its global rollout on February 11. Here’s a little foreplay for your Monday:
Every studio was after it, but Universal Pictures acquired worldwide rights to the script Angelina Jolie is writing to possibly make her next movie, one she’ll star in with Brad Pitt. Deadline broke news of the project in May. It now has a title, By The Sea, and the studio says Jolie will direct. I’d heard that when I broke the story, but they weren’t admitting it at the time. Jolie and Pitt will produce.
Jolie and Donna Langley have developed a strong relationship after Langley tapped Jolie to direct Unbroken, the adaptation of the Laura Hillenbrand book about the late Olympian and war hero Louis Zamperini. That film bows on Christmas Day. Jolie has been fully focused on making that date, so don’t expect this next film to happen all that quickly.
One of the longest running talent-rep relationships in Hollywood has come to a climax. As Natalie Portman transitions to a move to Paris, she and Brillstein Entertainment partner Aleen Keshishian will be parting ways, sort of. Portman is relocating to be with husband Benjamin Millepied. A dancer she met while making Black Swan, Millepied is taking the job as director of the Paris Opera Ballet.
Portman, who just made her directorial debut on the Hebrew-language adaptation of the Amos Oz novel A Tale Of Love And Darkness, will continue to star in Hollywood movies, and maybe some European films. She will also write and direct while being a wife and mother, all part of the next chapter in a remarkable life. To that end, she has hired French agent Laurent Gregoire, who’ll work with CAA on Portman’s film career. Keshishian will still be involved in the branding aspect of Portman’s career, which includes a lucrative Dior campaign, but she will no longer manage the movie career of her first client.
Universal has unveiled the first trailer for Angelina Jolie‘s Unbroken, the true story of World War II hero and former Olympic long distance runner Louis Zamperini. Unbroken tracks the life of the young Olympian, who enlisted in the Air Force after war broke out in 1941. After his plane went down in the Pacific, Zamperini and two crew mates survived on a raft for 47 days before being taken prisoner by the Japanese. Last week Zamperini passed away at the age of 97. Universal first bought rights to Zamperini’s life story in the 1950s. It will finally hit theaters this Christmas. Unbroken stars Jack O’Connell, Garrett Hedlund, Domhnall Gleeson, Jai Courtney, Luke Treadaway, and Alex Russell and marks Jolie’s sophomore turn as director. Take a look:
16th UPDATE, Monday, 2:40 PM: Here are the final gross updates for the Top 20 films of the July Fourth weekend. I’ve included both 3-day and 5-day totals for the Top Ten. The jump went to favorite son 22 Jump Street as this morning it looked like it was under Screen Gems’ Deliver Us From Evil. See below for the Monday updates. So while 22 Jump Street won the three-day weekend, it racked up a lesser per screen average than Evil which won the five-day derby. That’s a way to mix it up as they were neck in neck throughout the weekend. Overall, the Fourth of July holiday weekend was 42% lower than last year when Despicable Me 2 bowed to a whopping $83.5M. Last year, the 4th fell on a Thursday.
Interesting to see how the weather affected the box office holiday this weekend. On the Fourth, which was a Friday, Los Angeles was down only 1% night to night (which is fairly normal for the Fourth with good weather in L.A.). However, the East Coast where it was raining saw a huge jump in movie attendance — 76% up from Thursday to Friday in New York and 170% rise on Friday in Boston. When it rains in the summer, people go to the movies, esp. on a rainy holiday.
Transformers: Age of Extinction, in its second weekend dropped 63%. It also dropped 75% Friday to Friday (which included $8.75M of late night grosses) so the studio likely made their adjustments during the week or weekend. Despite what others reported, everyone knows that this industry has yet to see a picture open to $100M. Next weekend, we have Dawn of the Planet of the Apes coming from Fox, but that is not expected to do it either even though it is a high-quality film well-targeted for its demo. Expect a high CinemaScore and great word of mouth. Right now, it’s expected to surpass the opening weekend of Rise of the Planet of the Apes which bowed to $54.8M in April 2011. Dawn opens at 10 PM on July 10.
A shout out to a very high-quality film coming out this coming weekend: Richard Linklater’s Boyhood from IFC Films. It is, simply put, one of the best films I’ve seen so far this year.
Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see how far Tammy falls next weekend as word of mouth is going to hurt it. Here’s the finals from the studios:
What sad pre-holiday news: American Olympian track star and WWII hero Louis Zamperini passed away last night at age 97, just one day short of Independence Day. It’s somehow poignant that Zamperini’s shadow hovers over the July 4th holiday; it comes half a year before the Universal Pictures release of Unbroken, the Angelina Jolie-directed adaptation of the Laura Hillenbrand bestseller about a man whose unwillingness to break despite the most difficult of circumstances in a Japanese POW camp made him the personification of struggle and heroism. Part of that struggle included getting a movie made on his extraordinary life; imagine, Universal’s first attempt at a Zamperini film came in the 1950s, when Tony Curtis sparked to playing Zamperini as his follow-up to Spartacus.
Many know Zamperini’s story because of the superb book by Seabiscuit author Hillenbrand, and the world will celebrate him at year’s end when Universal releases the film in Oscar season, with Jack O’Connell playing Zamperini. I have been obsessed with Zamperini since I saw a segment on his ordeal broadcast by CBS during the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, and have written about the movie at Variety and Deadline since then at the slightest provocation, because it seemed such a worth screen story. When CBS chronicled his story, Zamperini returned to Japan to run with the Olympic torch, covering ground not far from where he spent an unimaginably brutal stretch in a Japanese prison camp …
UPDATED: Louis Zamperini, the World War II hero and former Olympic long distance runner, has died. The subject of Angelina Jolie‘s upcoming sophomore directorial effort Unbroken, Zamperini was 97. Universal, which announced his passing this morning, had developed the Unbroken project for close to 55 years when it finally got off the ground with Jolie signed to direct in December 2012. The script is based on Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption, by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand. Zamperini was a Depression era kid who became a track prodigy and was the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic team that traveled to Berlin for the 1936 games. He didn’t medal, but was so impressive that Hitler asked to meet him. The 1940 Olympics in Tokyo were cancelled due to the war, and in 1941, Zamperini enlisted in the Air Force. When his plane went down in the Pacific during a rescue mission, Zamperini and two other crew mates survived on a raft in the hot sun for 47 days. They were ultimately caught by the Japanese Navy, beginning a terrifying term of captivity that lasted until the end of the war in 1945. Universal first bought Zamperini’s rights back in the 1950s.
As Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr has written, “Few movies gestate as long as this one, but it’s clear from Hillenbrand’s remarkable book that it …
EXCLUSIVE: Akiva Goldsman is stepping behind the camera again, this time to bring a horror film to the big screen with Stephanie — a story about a little girl with unworldly abilities who was abandoned before a man and a woman show up claiming to be her parents, thereby interrupting her mysterious world. A fall start is being eyed.
Goldsman, of course, is the Academy Award-winning screenwriter behind A Beautiful Mind and one of the many producers on Lone Survivor which Universal released last Christmas to critical and commercial acclaim. He also co-scripted Insurgent and Allegiant: Part 1, the next two pictures in the Divergent trilogy series for Lionsgate. He also exec produced Paranormal Activity 2, 3 and 4 with Blumhouse, which is one of the producers of this film. Horror fare can be extraordinarily profitable at the box office because their budgets are usually lower and the genre itself tends to have rabid fans.
EXCLUSIVE: Alex Russell has been tapped for a starring role in AMC drama pilot Galyntine. Written by Halt And Catch Fire‘s Jason Cahill and executive produced by Scott Free and The Walking Dead‘s Greg Nicotero, the fantasy-action adventure with hints of sci-fi is set in a postapocalyptic future without technology where a band of survivors is forced to adapt to isolation and the challenges of their new world. Nicotero is also directing the pilot, stepping in to replace original director David Mackenzie, who left in May owing to creative differences.
Russell, repped by UTA and United Management in Australia, will play Roman, an orphan who was unofficially adopted by his best friend Aethys’ family, and he hopes to marry Aethys’ sister Essyn to make his membership in the family official. A very public victory appears to cement his status as a future leader of the colony, but a twist of fate (and a deeply wounding betrayal) set him on a different, more dangerous path. Catherine Dent and Charlotte D’Ambroise already have been cast in the pilot, which was greenlighted in November for 2015 series consideration.
Russell recently wrapped Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken and Cut Snake. His previous film credits include Carrie and Chronicle.
As TV Critics Hand Out Prizes And Emmy Ballots Are Due, The Movie Awards Season Could Face A Major Shakeup
EXCLUSIVE: With last night’s Broadcast Television Journalists Association’s 4th Annual Critics Choice Television Awards now out of the way, and Emmy ballots due by 10 tonight, there is lots of news on the TV awards front. But I have learned there also is news on the nascent movie awards season that could mean a radical shake up for the BFJA’s kissing cousins’ Critics Choice Movie Awards.
A meeting will be held today to discuss moving the CCMAs up in the season by as much as a month to mid-December. Yikes! (Full Disclosure: I vote in those awards). For the last two years they have been held on Oscar nomination day (January 17th earlier this year), drawing a big star-and-industry turnout as well as lots of attention due to the fact that newly minted Oscar nominees hit the CCMA red carpet just hours after getting the big news. But I am told BFCA officials are frustrated by the forced proximity not only to the higher profile Golden Globes show on NBC, but also the glut of other pre-Oscar events and guild nomination announcements. Also factoring in is a new broadcast partner as The CW, which has carried the show for the past two years (after previous stints with VH1 and E) is no longer going to be involved. Last night’s TV awards was also the first — and apparently last — broadcast for that show as well on The CW. The BFCA/BFJA (same group of …
Cannes Briefs: The Exchange Goes ‘Under The Electric Sky’; ‘The Woods’ Gets Underway; Fortissimo Adds Titles; Content Revs ‘Life At These Speeds’; D Films Bites Into Jennifer Aniston’s ‘Cake’; More
The Exchange will kick off sales of 3D documentary Under The Electric Sky in Cannes next week. Focus Features is releasing the film in the U.S. this summer. It premiered in Sundance’s Park City at Midnight section in January. Directed by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, the doc chronicles the love, community, and life of festivalgoers during Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas, the largest music festival in the U.S. The fest draws the top talents in electronic and dance music and is known for its immersive environment featuring state-of-the-art stage production, pyrotechnics and lighting, roaming theatrical performers and dancers, full-scale carnival rides and interactive art installations. The film is executive-produced by Pasquale Rotella of Insomniac with Cutforth and Lipsitz. Haven Entertainment produced the film, with the music score composed by DJ Kaskade.
EXCLUSIVE: Aaron Eckhart will play University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal and Finn Wittrock will play UT football great Freddie Steinmark in My All American, a film that feels like a cross between Brian’s Song and Rudy, the latter of which was written by Angelo Pizzo, who’s making his directorial debut on My All American. Wittrock, coming off Noah and co-starring in the upcoming Angelina Jolie-directed Unbroken, plays Steinmark. A scrappy undersized defensive back, Steinmark was a standout player on the national-title-winning 1969 team, before his gridiron career was tragically cut short when he went to the hospital for a bone bruise and learned that he had a cancerous tumor that took his leg and ended his career. The film’s being largely financed by Bud Brigham, a gas and oil industry entrepreneur who is from Austin, where the movie will begin shooting on location next month.
Eckhart plays Royal, who guided the Longhorns to three national titles in his 20-year tenure and never had a losing season. He developed a special bond with Steinmark, whose cancer was discovered just after the team beat the Arkansas Razorbacks to win the title. Steinmark, who made an emotional appearance on crutches when UT played Notre Dame at the Cotton Bowl, coached the team’s freshman defense and became an inspiration to cancer sufferers before the cancer took his life.
EXCLUSIVE: Here is a film that instantly becomes the one every studio will want on their slate. Angelina Jolie is in early talks to star with Brad Pitt in an original script that she has written. It’s in the early talking stages and nothing is solidified, but I hear it’s happening. I don’t know a lot more at this point.
The film hasn’t locked distribution, but it will team Jolie and Pitt together for the first time since 2005′s Mr. And Mrs. Smith. That film displayed an intense chemistry onscreen, and this was before they became a couple offscreen. Jolie is working on post-production on Unbroken, the adaptation she directed of the Laura Hillenbrand book. Universal has set a December 25 release for the harrowing survival tale of Olympic track prodigy-turned-WWII POW Lou Zamperini. It’s expected to be right in the Oscar mix. Unbroken was a hotly contested directing project, and Jolie won the job with a presentation that wowed the studio, where Donna Langley also was very impressed with her directorial debut, In The Land Of Blood And Honey. She next stars in Disney’s Maleficent, which opens May 30 with Jolie playing the title character in the revisionist version of the fairy tale.
2ND UPDATE, 5:06 PM: The Atlantic is bringing a number of D.C. players to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner — TV D.C. players, this is. The magazine’s guest list includes several cast members from Netflix’s House Of Cards: Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Sakina Jaffrey, Michael Gill, Mahershala Ali and Molly Parker, along with the show’s creator-writer Beau Willimon. Cynthia Nixon of Amazon’s Alpha House also is on the list.
UPDATE, 1:45 PM: Reuters and CNN have unveiled their guests for Saturday’s shindig, with the former adding among others Unbroken lead Jack O’Connell, The Newsroom‘s Olivia Munn and Revenge‘s Madeline Stowe, and CNN hosting Diane Lane.
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY PM: Awards season has receded in Hollywood, but Washington D.C. is getting ready for its biggest party weekend of the year with the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. It’s an even bigger deal this year as Saturday’s event will be the centennial dinner for the White House Correspondents Association. Joel McHale will be providing the headlining laughs at the self-described Nerdprom this year, but of course it’s President Obama who is the real marquee act.
X Files veteran Frank Spotnitz moved to London for Cinemax/BBC series Hunted a few years back, and in 2013 launched London-based Big Light Productions. Now, he’s digging even further into the UK TV scene. Spotnitz and Nicholas Meyer (Houdini) have created crime series Freud: The Secret Casebook. NBC Universal-owned Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films will produce with Big Light. The period drama will see Sigmund Freud become the world’s first criminal profiler. Set in early 20th century Vienna, the series will focus on Freud as he uses his startling new theories about psychology to help solve crimes, and will blend episodic murder mysteries with the on-going tale of the psychoanalyst-cum-detective’s tangled and provocative personal life. The project is out to cast and directors. Downton‘s Gareth Neame is exec producing with Nigel Marchant for Carnival; Alan Gasmer (Vikings), Matt Baer (Unbroken) and Christian Popp and Alexander Keil of Germany’s Producers at Work are also exec producing. Spotnitz is keeping busy in Europe these days. He was at Mip-TV in Cannes last week to talk about his gig as showrunner on the second season of TNT pick-up Transporter The Series, and he also unveiled Big Light’s new first-look distribution deal with Tandem Communications. Transporter, which he boarded in season two, will air on TNT later this year.
Academy members will get the chance this weekend to see Noah and The Grand Budapest Hotel when their official Academy screening program finally resumes after a break for Oscar. But while the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy’s Beverly Hills headquarters is undergoing major renovations, the screenings have moved to Hollywood at the Acad’s much smaller Linwood Dunn Theater at its Pickford Center For Motion Picture Study on Vine Street. That’s a loss of about 700 seats, so it could get dicey, especially since no extra screenings are added and RSVPs aren’t taken. For a lot of films the Academy screens, 300 seats is just fine, but these fall squarely in the hotter want-to-see category, and it’s still first-come-first-served, just as it is at the Wilshire Boulevard location. Could get nasty for members wanting a free screening. Better get there early, folks.
Of course this is not exactly crunch time for serious 2014 Oscar contenders, so distributors need not worry too much about disgruntled voters getting turned away from their hot-button potential nominees. But recently I got an email from a veteran Oscar campaign consultant who asked the simple question, “Is NOAH a contender?” And it got me wondering if not only director Darren Aronofsky’s towering epic, which screens Sunday at 3 PM, but also Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, which runs Saturday at 7:30 PM both might actually have a decent shot at racking up numerous nominations, including Best Picture, despite their first quarter release dates (Noah opened March 28 and Budapest has been playing since March 7th). Both are doing extremely well at the box office and riding high with critics too (Noah is 77% fresh and Budapest is 91% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes) and have the kind of first-rate production values to which Oscar voters usually pay serious attention.
CinemaCon: Universal Excites Convention With First Looks At ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’, ‘Minions’, ‘Fast & Furious 7′ And Angelina Jolie’s Potential Oscar Juggernaut ‘Unbroken’
Universal wowed exhibitors this morning with a presentation that went way beyond just showing off what they have this summer. Among the films getting their first look anywhere was Scarlett Johansson’s summer action flick Lucy, the long-gestating follow-up to Dumb And Dumber with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels back in Dumb And Dumber To, plus hot-button first looks at footage from 2015 releases including with the late Paul Walker in the April 2015 Fast & Furious 7 and Valentine’s Day 2015 opener Fifty Shades Of Grey. According to the studio’s Donna Langley, this was the first time anyone has viewed any of it outside of the Universal hierarchy. It was a good teaser but stopped shy of showing any of the really hot stuff. The 2015 spinoff of Despicable Me, Uni’s biggest domestic hit ever (the sequel that is), Minions also got a hearty response from the pumped-up crowd who is anxious for a few hits. It looks like over the course of the next two years this studio is determined to give some to them. But despite all of this news-making footage it was clearly Angelina Jolie who stole this show. As the only star Universal trotted out onstage, she was there this time as the director of their Christmas Day release Unbroken, and introduced seven minutes of footage from what definitely looks like a possible Oscar juggernaut. It has all the makings.
Universal has set Attack The Block helmer Joe Cornish to direct Section 6, the Aaron Berg-scripted formation of the British intelligence agency MI6 during WWI. Unbroken star Jack O’Connell is starring. The Wrap had this first. Cornish directed Attack The Block, the story of a group that protected its neighborhood against an alien invasion. Now he’s making a movie about the people who would cover it up.
Yann Demange’s debut feature ’71 generated a lot of heat when it premiered in competition at last month’s Berlin Film Festival. The anti-war parable takes place in 1971 and centers on a young British soldier (Unbroken‘s Jack O’Connell) accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot on the streets of Belfast. Unable to tell friend from foe and increasingly wary of his own comrades, he must survive the night alone and find his way to safety. Roadside Attractions and Black Label Media have partnered to take all U.S. rights on the Gregory Burke-scripted pic and plan an early 2015 release.
Robin Gutch of Warp Films and Angus Lamont of Crab Apple are producers, and the pic is backed by Film4, BFI Film Fund, Screen Yorkshire, and Creative Scotland. Protagonist Pictures is handling international sales. The deal was negotiated by CAA on behalf of Black Label and Howard Cohen on behalf of Roadside Attractions, with Mike Goodridge of Protagonist on behalf of the filmmakers. Here’s a clip that made the rounds during Berlin: