Debmar-Mercury has named Karen Bonck new SVP Branded Partnerships. Based in New York City, she will report to Debmar-Mercury co-presidents Ira Bernstein and Mort Marcus, and will create and execute branded content and advertiser partnerships for the company’s first-run series, including The Wendy Williams Show (produced and distributed by Debmar-Mercury) and fall 2014 entry Celebrity Name Game (co-produced and co-financed by Debmar-Mercury and FremantleMedia North America, and distributed domestically by Debmar-Mercury).
Disney said today that it has added sneak previews of its Jon Hamm-starring baseball pic Million Dollar Arm on the night of Saturday, May 10. Those screenings come ahead of the planned May 16 wide release, which is unchanged. The move comes as the marketing ramps up for the based-on-a-true-story pic, about a fading sports agent (Hamm) who hatches a plot to turn a pair of Indian cricket players into major league baseball players. Disney boss Alan Horn said at CinemaCon last month that the movie scored higher than any other movie he has ever tested — either at Disney or his former home Warner Bros — and exhibitors were talking it up after a screening. Tom McCarthy wrote the script and Craig Gillespie directed.
EXCLUSIVE: Appropriate considering today is the 50th anniversary of the creation of the It’s A Small World attraction that has been such a staple of the Disney theme parks, the movie studio has hired Jon Turteltaub to direct a feature based on the venerable family film ride with the catchy tune. Jared Stern pitched Small World and will write the script. He, Turteltaub and The Lego Movie‘s Dan Lin will be the producers. This one will take awhile to come together but it is envisioned as a potential franchise for the studio. Turteltaub is coming off the CBS Films hit comedy Last Vegas, a movie that has grossed $134 million worldwide. For Disney, Turteltaub directed the first two installments of National Treasure and is working on a third with producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Stern is repped by WME, managers Marc Provissiero and Helena Heyman and attorney Karl Austen, while Turteltaub is repped by WME, managed by David Lonner at Oasis and lawyered by Steve Warren.
EXCLUSIVE: Andy Fickman has been set by Millennium Films to direct My Owner’s Wedding, a romantic comedy about two eligible young women, the guy they both want, and his dog. The latter will go to any length to make sure his owner winds up with the right girl. Fickman is coming off Parental Guidance and helmed the hits Race To Witch Mountain and The Game Plan. He is also exec producer and is directing the Disney Channel’s series Liv And Maddie and is producing and directing the Off-Broadway production Heathers The Musical, based on the cult teen movie. Fickman is directing Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, with Kevin James reprising for Sony, and Fickman’s producing the self-explanatory Scouts Vs. Zombies for Paramount.
My Owner’s Wedding was scripted by Robert Cary (Anything But Love) and Jonathan Tolins, whose Buyer And Cellar is playing off-Broadway. The film is produced by Cary, Tolins and Mark Gill, with Avi Lerner, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson, John Thompson and Alan Gasmer serving as executive producers. Fickman is repped by WME, Management 360 and Hansen, Jacobson.
The comedy starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will hit theaters on December 18, 2015. Pitch Perfect helmer Jason Moore directs The Nest, about two disconnected sisters cleaning out their parents’ family home who throw one last high school rager for their now-grown former classmates. Universal hopes it’ll serve as a counterprogramming option to Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: Episode VII, which also opens that weekend along with Sony’s thriller Inferno. Jay Roach is producing The Nest alongside Fey, with Poehler exec producing. SNL and 30 Rock scribe Paula Pell penned the script.
If you thought that the legal dispute between Aereo and the broadcasters was combative, it paled compared with today’s one-hour hearing at the Supreme Court. In oral arguments before the nine Justices, both sides took some heavy blows, but the Barry Diller-backed streaming service definitely took one to the jaw from Chief Justice John Roberts. “Your technological model is based solely on circumventing legal prohibitions that you don’t want to comply with,” Roberts told Aereo attorney David Frederick during the presentation before a packed chamber. “There’s no reason for you to have 10,000 dime-sized antennas except to get around the Copyright Act,” he said. Added Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: ”You are the only player so far that pays no royalties whatsoever.”
Coming after arguments from the broadcasters by former Solicitor General Paul Clement and current Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart, Frederick started off his presentation by saying “this is a reproduction rights issue masquerading as a public performance case.” The Justices didn’t seem to buy it.
Despite Roberts’ comments, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer were by far the most inquisitive during the presentation with concerns over cloud computing taking up almost as much time as the copyright issue at the heart of the lawsuit filed by an armada of Big Media companies — including CBS, Disney, Fox, and Comcast’s NBCUniversal — as well as the federal government. “I don’t understand if the decision I write for or against you will affect other technologies,” Breyer told Frederick. ”It’s not your problem — but it might be,” Breyer deadpanned to a big laugh from the courtroom.
“I think the cloud was the winner today,” MPAA boss Christopher Dodd said after the hearing. “But I think the Justices see Aereo as gimmicky and want to address that.” Dodd’s comments mirrored remarks made by Clement during the presentation.
During Clement’s three-minute rebuttal at the end of the hearing, Sotomayor directly asked the lawyer about the consequences of a potential ruling. “If it’s just a gimmick, then they deserve to go out of business and no one should shed a tear,” Clement said of Aereo’s prospects should it lose at the high court. The lawyer added that if Aereo’s technology was innovative, it would persevere in one form or another regardless.
Said Frederick in a statement after the presentation: “We’re confident, cautiously optimistic, based on the way the hearing went today that the Court understood that a person watching over-the-air broadcast television in his or her home is engaging in a private performance and not a public performance that would implicate the Copyright Act.”
Originally scheduled to start at 11 AM ET, today’s hearing was pushed back 30 minutes because of readings of other opinions from the bench. In the sundrenched chamber with its strategically lit red velvet drapes and engraved marble walls, almost all of the nine Justices asked questions from their high-backed chairs. As is common, the only Justice not to ask a question was Clarence Thomas, though he did take time during the presentation to whisper asides to Justice Antonin Scalia.
The court likely will rule by late June.
ION Television has acquired series Rookie Blue from the Disney-ABC Television Group. The Canadian police drama has been airing in the U.S. on ABC where the most recent fourth season averaged 7.0 million total viewers, up 13% from season 3. Season 5 premieres on ABC in June. The series, about the personal and professional lives of five rookie cops, will make its debut on ION this fall. It will join two other Canadian drama procedurals that started their U.S. run on another broadcast network before becoming ION originals, Flashpoint and The Listener. Rookie Blue is a production of IFC Films and Entertainment One, who also distributes the series internationally.
While the multichannel YouTube network awaits a big buyout payday, it has signed a deal to create its first scripted drama series. Maker Studios, which last week thwarted Relativity’s acquisition bid weeks after making a deal with Disney potentially worth $950M, has partnered with the fashion/lifestyle brand Nylon. They will create programming for the Nylon TV YouTube channel, starting with Oh, You Pretty Things, starring Francesca Eastwood (watch the trailer below). The 10-episode series follows a lifestyle blogger and her group of twentysomething trendsetters looking to make their big break in the underground music and fashion scene on LA’s Eastside. Sarah Dumont, Tui Asau, Alexander Nifong, Julian de la Celle and Matthew Grathwol co-star. The show will premiere May 19 on Maker’s fashion and beauty channel The Platform.
INTL BO: ‘Spider-Man 2′ Spins $47M Web For Biggest Opening Of 2014; ‘Captain America’ Passes $500M; ‘Frozen’ Highest Animated Grosser Ever; ‘Rio 2′ passes $200M Overseas
Highlights: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (SONY) opens in 14 markets with $47M; Captain America: The Winter Soldier (DIS) passes $500M; Transcendence (WB) opens to $17.1M, mostly from China; Rio 2 (FOX) flies past $200M and is burning it up in Latin America. Noah (PAR) at $197.4M; Divergent (LGF/SUM/var) at $18M for $74.7M cume; The Other Woman (FOX) bows with $5.3M in four markets; Spanish Affairs (UNI) phenom as Spain’s top local-lingo pic ever, still No. 1 … twice the marketshare of Spider-Man 2′s bow.
3rd UPDATE, Monday, 10:50 PM PDT: Final numbers in for Transcendence, Divergent, Rio 2, The Other Woman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Lego Movie, and Mr. Peabody & Sherman. All grosses for the movies have changed.
2nd UPDATE, Sunday, 6:50 PM. PDT: More estimates have been added for Rio 2, Divergent, and further analysis on The Amazing Spider-Man 2. There will be another update tomorrow, but no territory by territory breakdown this week. It’s always interesting to see a snapshot of the top international pictures so far in 2014. Disney’s has the two lead spots right now with Frozen $462M) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($385.1M), followed by The Wolf of Wall Street ($262.5M), which is being handled by Universal and many other distribs. The difference between the No. 2 and No. 3 pictures is a substantial $122.6M so far. Surprising, no? Rounding out the top five is Warner Bros.’ duo The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ($244.5M) and 300: The Rise of an Empire ($223M).
PREVIOUSLY, 10:27 AM, Sunday, PDT: Marking the biggest opening internationally of 2014, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has taken the markets by storm, grossing an estimated $47M as it bows in such major territories as the U.K., Spain, Germany and Belgium, Mexico and Australia. All told, 14 markets. It was a big box office weekend internationally with several major pics playing well throughout the world. But all eyes are on Spider-Man, which opened strong in territories earlier in the week. The top market for the Sony franchise is
Movies open every weekend. Some soar, some fail. Every once in a while a flop comes along that is so unexpected and devastating that everyone in town is left saying, “How the hell did that happen?” Recent examples include John Carter, The Lone Ranger and maybe even Pompeii or The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, even if the latter two sank without making much of a ripple. The $100 million Transcendence, the Johnny Depp-Morgan Freeman starrer that marked the directing debut of Chris Nolan’s vaunted cinematographer Wally Pfister, is one of those what-the-hell-happened films. Consider it grossed just $10.8 million domestic for its opening weekend, about half of Heaven Is For Real, a starless movie whose $12 million budget was likely less than Depp’s Transcendence salary. Heaven If For Real has grossed $30 million so far domestically and looks like a breakout sleeper hit.
So what the hell happened? There is blame to go around, including at Alcon Entertainment, which with its offshore partners fully financed the Warner Bros-distributed flop. Talking to numerous parties, I believe this was a movie that probably never should have been made because the script was complex, derivative, and hard to market, and it was not easy to discern who the audience should have been. It also is a case where yet again it was a mistake to give a first-time director the keys to a movie with complex subject matter that required meshing with the high maintenance of a big movie star and a giant budget. Transcendence seems similar in some ways to John Carter, where first-time live-action director Andrew Stanton had the endorsement of Pixar’s John Lasseter that led Disney execs to give him a lot of rope, and he proved out of his depth despite having directed so many animated hits. Here, Pfister got the job after standing aside Nolan as cinematographer, and proving himself a gifted visual artist on such films as The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception. Nolan, who made the film Insomnia at Alcon, endorsed his protege there and encouraged him to start on the kind of big canvas on which Nolan creates his masterpieces. But just because Pfister stands next to Nolan doesn’t mean he is Nolan, or has his ability for making the most complex storytelling palatable for the masses, like he did on Inception. The shoot was rough. Pfister and Alcon certainly put in the work here, and got the test scores to an acceptable level, but critics just hated the movie. Audiences felt the same, with the film getting a 19% rating on RottenTomatoes. And Johnny Depp, mostly seen as a computer image on a computer screen, didn’t open it the way that highly paid movie stars are supposed to.
Woody Allen Star Not ‘Fading’ As Moviegoers And Oscar Voters Ignored The Scandalous Headlines And Embraced The Movies – Analysis
Hey Woody Allen haters: if you were hoping his rare sojourn as strictly a hired actor in writer/director/star John Turturro‘s new comedy, Fading Gigolo, would flop due to his latest scandal and controversy you have to be sorely disappointed today. Not only did Gigolo NOT fail, it drew the second highest opening weekend gross for a 2014 indie release and reviews, though mixed for the movie are particularly good for Allen’s turn as a “pimp” for the aging lothario played by Turturro. With nearly $200,000 at just five theaters and a sterling $39,680 per screen average it came in only behind Wes Anderson’s hit, The Grand Budapest Hotel in terms of limited debuts this year. Millennium’s Bill Lee told Deadline Sunday the film was performing even better than they had hoped. It starts expanding next weekend. Now why is this significant?
Box Office Final: ‘Heaven’ Is Real Deal Behind ‘Captain America’ Which Shoots Past $200M; ‘Rio 2′ Perches At No. 3; ‘Transcendence’ Short Circuited
OPENING: Heaven Is For Real (SONY) stellar at $22.5M (3-day) and $29.5M (5-day) for No. 2; Transcendence (WB) despondent at No. 4 with $10.8M; A Haunted House 2 (OPRD) $8.8M; Bears (DIS) hibernating with $4.7M.
5TH UPDATE, 2:45 PM: The final numbers are in for the box office Top 20, and Sony/TriStar has a lot to celebrate this weekend as peeps flocked to Heaven Is For Real this Easter holiday with a final tally of $22.5M (three-day) and $29.5M (five-day). Disney/Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier has a very good chance of being No. 1 for four weekends in a row as there is nothing in the hamper next weekend to stop it. Not since Lionsgate unleashed The Hunger Games in 2012 has that happened, and before that, the last time was in 2008 when Warner Bros introduced The Dark Knight. Rio 2 is No. 3 in its second weekend out, dropping 44%, and racking up $75M in two weeks. Transcendence, the Johnny Depp-starring sci-fi film, short-circuited this weekend and should have been retitled Despondence as it came in under $11M for Warner Bros. and Alcon. Uh, no peeps cared for that one. Surprising coming from Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister who made his directing debut and delivered such a bomb. The trailer was confusing and hard to follow. Seemed like it was just a bunch of shots of Depp in different states of duress instead of selling futuristic sizzle. The one sheet was a headshot of Depp with digits on his head. And the production stills made him look like American Hustle‘s Bradley Cooper in perm rods. It’s like Lawnmower 2 for the YK2 generation. Yes, in fact, there is actually a Y2K joke in there … so 2000.
Leaving no question about Divine Intervention: Noah jumped up two notches yesterday over opener Bears and God’s Not Dead to round out the Top 10 … and … Draft Day (which dropped 42% this weekend) scored better in its sophomore frame and juked Divergent this weekend to get the No. 6 spot. A Haunted House 2 from Open Road creaked its way to No. 5 and $8.8M in its debut while Oculus dropped 57% in its second weekend. Opening next weekend: the Cameron Diaz-Kate Upton-Leslie Mann comedy The Other Woman (Fox), Brick Mansions (REL) which stars the late Paul Walker, and the horror film The Quiet Ones (LGF). Expanding from five theaters to 25 runs in LA and NY will be the John Turturo’s comedy Fading Gigolo (Millennium). Here are the final weekend box office numbers:
That’s up just 2 cents vs the same period in 2013, and down from $8.35 in Q4 according to domestic numbers out this morning from the National Association of Theater Owners. The drop from the end of the year mostly reflects the fact that theaters in Q1 were filled with kids’ films including Frozen, Mr. Peabody And Sherman, and The Lego Movie. They typically drive the ticket averages down because they include a lot of low-priced children’s tickets and matinees. Remember that several factors influence the average price — including how many people pay a premium to see a film in 3D or on an IMAX screen. The Q4 number included 3D hits with Warner Bros’ Gravity (80% of its domestic gross came from 3D venues) and The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, and Disney’s Thor: The Dark World. The quarter also had several popular films targeted to adults including Paramount’s The Wolf Of Wall Street and Sony’s American Hustle. The average outlay for a movie ticket in 2013 was $8.13.
Based on the phenomenal grosses from Frozen and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Disney (which crossed $1BM worldwide earlier this month) now can boast that it crossed $1B internationally in record time. Frozen has just surpassed Ice Age 4 to become the worldwide leader as the highest-grossing animated film of all time in international markets with a total tally of $729.3M. In comparison, Ice Age: Continental Drift grossed $715.9M in 2012. In addition, Frozen is hovering at $400M domestically and should reach that watermark next weekend. It just skated across the $100M in Japan while Captain America 2 opened there as its final territory in its international run. Disney boasts the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the country now with Frozen leading the way.
So far this year, the studio also commands the top two positions internationally of all films in the marketplace … Frozen is No. 1 with $462M and Captain America is $385.1M for the second spot. To show the dominance internationally, the No. three movie – The Wolf of Wall Street — is $122.6M behind the Cap.
Marvel’s Captain America 2 has now grossed over $500M. In China alone, it is on the verge of passing $100 million. The sequel, 199% ahead of what the first installment did in its full run of $194M, has already passed the total international box office cumes for Iron Man 2 ($312M) and Iron Man ($267M) as well as Thor ($268M) and it did so in four weeks. In Japan, it grossed $2M, more than doubling the opening weekend of the first installment. It is still No. 1 in Korea four weeks running, too.
Fading Gigolo cashed in at the box office this Easter weekend, catapulting itself to the second-highest theater average of 2014 among specialty releases. The feature directed by John Turturro and starring Turturro, Woody Allen and Sharon Stone opened in five locations in New York and LA on Friday, grossing an estimated $198,399 through Sunday for a solid $39,680 average. That outranks A24′s strong debut for Under The Skin starring Scarlett Johansson, which opened at the beginning of this month. That film, incidentally, passed the $1M cume mark this weekend, with the Jonathan Glazer-directed experimental sci-fi pic grossing $140K in four theaters for a $35K average. The top opener by far of course is Fox Searchlight’s sizzling The Grand Budapest Hotel, which bowed to a record $202K per-theater average March 9.
The opening for Fading Gigolo portends a good run for the comedy, which centers on Fioravante (Turturro), who decides to become a Don Juan as a way of making money for his cash-strapped friend Murray (Allen). Turturro told me last week the film had sold to “top notch” distributors worldwide with strong opens in some international territories ahead of its U.S. launch. “It’s a date movie and even people in their 20s like the movie,” he said. “If they like the movie, then anyone will like the movie.” Millennium Entertainment CEO Bill Lee said this morning that Fading Gigolo is performing better than even hoped. “We saw a spectacular jump from Friday to Saturday, which goes to show that audiences were craving a funny and heartfelt film,” he said. Millennium will hold in NY and LA next week expanding the film to 25 runs in both metropolitan areas. It will head to San Francisco, Dallas, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Miami on May 2, then to additional markets May 9.
Under The Skin saw a sizable expansion and grossed more than $467K in 176 theaters, averaging $2,656. Last week, the film grossed over $309K from 54 runs ($5,727 PTA). Its cume now stands at $1,086,241.
WonderCon: Warner Bros Still Earns Cheers With Largely Star-Less Presentation & Jaw-Dropping ‘Godzilla’ Tsunami Clip
Next to the all-star fireworks Warner Bros unleashed at CinemaCon last month with Adam Sandler, Johnny Depp and Clint Eastwood, the studio kicked off WonderCon’s Saturday movie schedule on a sleepy note with a low wattage of stars. Comparisons to Disney’s previous D23s are inevitable, especially due to the fact that the Mouse House has trotted out such megastars at this same venue — the Anaheim Convention Center Arena — in its previous confabs, i.e. Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman, and Robert Downey Jr. First up for Warner Bros today was a fresh Edge of Tomorrow trailer, spotlighting co-star Bill Paxton as a Kentucky sergeant. Paxton later took the stage, but Edge of Tomorrow star Tom Cruise didn’t show; the crowd didn’t seem to mind, though, rolling their cheers in appreciation for the Aliens thespian, but still — Cruise isn’t here. Nor was Godzilla castmember Bryan Cranston, a fave for his panel appearances for Breaking Bad at ComicCon.
It has been a three-way race for renewal among three bubble ABC comedies: sophomore The Neighbors and freshmen Trophy Wife and Mixology, There seems to be some movement within the pack, with the youngest, midseason entry Mixology, gaining momentum. I hear the network and the studio already have put in place a leadership plan for next season, with creators Jon Lucas and Scott Moore set to take over the reins as showrunners from Ira Ungerleider, who will be leaving after running the series for its original 13-episode order. What’s more, in a sign of confidence to Lucas & Moore and their show, I hear ABC Studios is in negotiations with the duo for an overall deal. At the same time last year, ABC Studios inked an overall deal with Dan Fogelman, with his freshman comedy The Neighbors going on to clinch the only comedy renewal for ABC Studios a few weeks later. Mixology – set in a bar over the course of one night — quickly built a core fan base and has supporters at ABC, including network topper Paul Lee. Its ratings have been lackluster at best, but so have been the numbers for Trophy Wife and The Neighbors. Relaunching a heavily serialized comedy in the fall four months after a brief midseason run would be a challenge, though I hear the story might be reset for Season 2.
In this week’s podcast, Deadline Executive Editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom preview what could be a very big day in the history of broadcasting and technology, as the Supreme Court hears legal arguments Monday about Aereo and its business model. The Davids talk about what’s at stake and how it might play out, where broadcasters might go if they lose and whether a win will turn the broadcasting business upside down. They also look over that very messy, and pricey Disney acquisition of online video powerhouse Maker Studios, and examine why ESPN, pay-TV’s most valuable brand, felt compelled to pitch investors that it’s just fine despite competition, cord-cutting and other existential challenges.