Bob Berney‘s company has grabbed all U.S. rights to the latest from the team behind the Lionsgate slasher pic You’re Next. The Guest, from director Adam Wingard, writer Simon Barrett and Snoot Entertainment, follows a family who takes in a young soldier who claims to be a good friend of their son who was killed in action. But when people in their town start turning up dead, the teenage daughter becomes suspicious of their guest. Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Leland Orser, Lance Reddick and Sheila Kelley star in the film, which is screening as a Midnighter at SXSW after bowing at Sundance in January. Picturehouse is planning a fall release for The Guest.
E! is making a regal entry into scripted programming. The network has picked up one of its first two scripted pilots, The Royals starring Elizabeth Hurley, to series. The one-hour drama, about a fictional British Royal family set in modern London that is informed by the regal opulence of the British monarchy and framed by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, hails from Lionsgate and a trio of One Tree Hill alums. OTH creator Mark Schwahn wrote and directed Royals, which he is executive producing with Brian Robbins and Joe Davola. Getting reality focused E! into the scripted space had been a priority for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment topper Bonnie Hammer. Sibling cable channel Bravo had been put on a similar path and just greenlighted its first scripted series, Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce. E!’s second pilot, musical drama Songbyrd, remains in contention. “The Royals will offer a fictional look behind the very public gilded façade of the palace gates to imagine the private, lush, fun, sexy world of the most-watched celebrity family on the planet,” said E! EVP Original Programming and development Jeff Olde said. Added the network’s scripted executive Kevin Plunkett who spearheads E!’s scripted efforts, “This is a big idea and Mark, Brian, Joe and the Lionsgate team delivered.”
In a study released today on feature film production in California in 2013, FilmL.A. has added its voice to the chorus wanting an increase to the entertainment industry tax incentives the Golden State offers. While the opinion is nothing new for the nonprofit local-permitting organization, the basis of its latest argument is: We need more blockbusters. According to FilmL.A.’s 6-months-in-the-making report, California is tied for second place with the entire country of Canada for the location where most feature films released last year were made. Introduced in 2009, California’s current $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program does not allow pics with budgets of more than $75 million to be eligible for its annual lottery. “For a program intended to help reverse runaway production, California’s incentive entirely ignores film projects carrying the greatest economic value with the greatest propensity to run away: big‐budget features,” says the 2013 Feature Film Production Report. Even with an increase in overall feature production in California last year, the only 2014-released pics with budgets of more than $100 million that were partly made in the state are Interstellar and Disney/Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Solder. Removing the cap on blockbusters is one of the elements of new legislation introduced on to expand the state’s program.
A pair of flicks that were shut out at the Oscars on Sunday lead the field for the erstwhile music network’s film nods. American Hustle and The Wolf Of Wall Street snagged eight noms apiece for the 23rd MTV Movie Awards. Close behind are The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with seven and We’re The Millers with six, including a coveted Best Shirtless Performance nom for Jennifer Aniston. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Dallas Buyers Club, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, This Is The End and Best Picture champ 12 Years A Slave are next with four apiece. Conan O’Brien will serve as host of this year’s festivities, which air live on April 13 at the Nokia Theatre in L.A. The show — which last year switched from its longtime post-Memorial Day date to April — again relishes is such signature categories as Best Kiss, Best Scared-As-S**T Performance and #WTFMoment, The telecast is exec produced by Jesse Ignjatovic. Here are the nominees:
Marjane Satrapi’s English-language debut The Voices premiered this year at Sundance and stars Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, and Jacki Weaver. Lionsgate has landed U.S. distribution rights to the horror comedy, which centers on a lovable but disturbed factory worker (Reynolds) who yearns for the attention of a woman in accounting. When their relationship takes a sudden turn, the man’s talking pets — a sinister cat and benevolent dog — lead him down a fantastical, murderous path. Michael R Perry wrote the script and Matthew Rhodes, Adi Shankar, Roy Lee and Spencer Silna produced. The film is presented by Lionsgate and 1984 Private Defense Contractors and is a Mandalay Vision, Studio Babelsberg and Vertigo Entertainment production. Satrapi’s first feature, Persepolis, was nominated for an Animated Feature Oscar in 2008. CAA and UTA co-repped the deal.
Focus Makes $20 Million P&A Deal For River Road, Participant And Lionsgate Intl-Funded Juan Antonio Bayona-Helmed ‘A Monster Calls’
EXCLUSIVE: In the third huge pre-buy deal this year, Focus Features is committing $20 million in P&A to release A Monster Calls, a film that will be financed by River Road Entertainment and Participant Media. The film will be the next directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, who helmed the tsunami film The Impossible and made his breakthrough on The Orphanage. The film is an adaptation of the children’s fantasy novel series by Patrick Ness and it is already on course to begin production this fall for release in 2016. The novel focuses on a young lad who tries to deal with school bullies and his mother’s illness by losing himself into a vivid world of monsters and fairy tales. Ness adapted his own prize-winning work.
In the configuration taking shape, Focus releases the film wide domestically and Universal Pictures International releases in Spain. Lionsgate International is a key piece of this puzzle, as Patrick Washsberger’s troops will sell all other world territories. Producing is Belen Atienza, who teamed with Bayona on his films and produced Pan’s Labyrinth. Bill Pohlad’s River Road is coming off the Best Picture for 12 Years A Slave, and I’m told Pohlad and his team will exec produce with Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll and his team, along with Wachsberger.
This becomes the first major deal for Peter Schlessel since James Schamus and Andrew Karpen left Focus and Schlessel merged his FilmDistrict shingle in the company and took the reins. While Bayona is separately attached to helm a sequel to the zombie saga World War Z 2, this film will come first.
Fox Revives ‘West Side Story’ For Steven Spielberg As Town Ponders Stacey Snider Move And DreamWorks’ Future
ANALYSIS: Even though the Robert Wise original musical West Side Story is about as sacred a cow movie as you are going to find, Fox has unlocked that movie title for a remake specifically because Steven Spielberg is interested in making it. No writer has been set yet and Spielberg hasn’t done anything more than register his interest, which traditionally has always been enough to get a studio hot and bothered. Between this project and the Fox/DreamWorks team-up Robopocalypse, the Daniel H. Wilson sci-fi novel that has a Drew Goddard script and which Spielberg has said he will direct even though he stepped away to make Lincoln, it would be easy to see Spielberg directing movies at Fox for the next several years if in fact Stacey Snider makes a move to that studio after her contract expires at year’s end.
That’s just part of why the town sees Snider’s move over there as such an easy transition. It is an easier fit than when Jeff Robinov eyed Fox at a landing place but he did not want to report to Jim Gianopulos, who likes calling the shots after sharing power so long with Tom Rothman. Snider is apparently willing to do that and she has a lot of experience to offer managing a studio pipeline, skills that are rusting with DreamWorks’ comparatively small output.
Robinov is now well on his way to finding his money to start a company that will allow him to take big swings at Sony, and I’ve heard that there’s a good chance the bulk of that investment will come from Len Blavatnik, the Ukraine-born billionaire whose worth has been pegged at north of $17 billion. What better way for a man with that kind of money to jump into the perilous Hollywood movie business than with Gravity and Argo architect Robinov and the distribution and marketing might of Sony Pictures?
After a strong run when DreamWorks was sold to Paramount, a nasty divorce that left behind plum properties like the Transformer series, a near move to Snider’s past home Universal, and the Reliance financing/Disney arrangement which has been stepped down and has hobbled the company, I can easily imagine this finally calling a halt to the great DreamWorks experiment. The one that started with Jeffrey Katzenberg being denied the crown at the Mouse House by Disney’s Michael Eisner, and then joined into building what was to become the next great major studio by his pals Spielberg and David Geffen. I look at the recent crop of DreamWorks films, from the upcoming Need For Speed, the good but disappointing at the box office flop The Fifth Estate and the solid hit The Help, and DreamWorks just seems like an ordinary production company to me. That certainly didn’t have to be the case if the supremely ambitious principals hadn’t made all those deals that disrupted the company and instead stayed a solid course from the beginning and kept building a company on a consistent track.
The companies finally put a date on the agreement made in December for the No. 2 cable operator to offer the premium service which has been struggling to expand its distribution. Time Warner Cable will help to generate some buzz by offering its digital video customers a three-month free trial of Epix, Epix 2, Epix 3, and Epix Drive-in. Epix will be available in standard and high definition, while Epix Drive-In will be only in SD. In addition to the linear channels, TWC will offer Epix programming on VOD and will stream content to the service’s app. “This is yet another way of showing that we appreciate our customers’ loyalty and are consistently working hard to provide even more value to their service,” says TWC’s Jeffrey Hirsch. The cable company is eager to slow, and possibly reverse, the decline in its video subscriptions. Meanwhile Epix — owned by Viacom, Lionsgate and MGM — sees the deal as an opportunity to build momentum for additional deals, possibly including with Comcast, which plans to buy TWC, and DirecTV.
SANTA MONICA, CA, March 3, 2014 – As part of the continued expansion of its worldwide distribution infrastructure, Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), a leading global entertainment company, has entered a multifaceted output agreement with fast-growing Leone Film Group in Italy covering feature films from its Lionsgate and Summit labels, the two companies announced today. Italy was one of the last remaining major territories not previously covered by one of the Company’s output arrangements. The agreement, which was finalized at the Berlin Film Festival, also includes Lionsgate’s exploration of worldwide promotional opportunities on a case by case basis with Leone’s Pacmedia promotional group.
All attention is on the Oscars (and Spirits) this weekend, but a couple new specialty releases managed to gain some sparkle as they rolled out in limited release. Sony Pictures Classics’ Cannes debut The Lunchbox from India reigned over a half-dozen newcomers that rolled out Friday. The feature from the subcontinent (and not a “usual Bollywood” film) found traction to the tune of $51K-plus in an NYC & LA platform release for a solid $17,108 average, while Cinedigm’s Bag Man also bowed decently, grossing over $28K for a $14,245 average.
“It’s one of those engaging foreign films that has a potential to cross over [audiences],” SPC’s Michael Barker said about the film this week. “It’s culturally Indian, however the story crosses all borders.” Barker said the film will head to up to a dozen markets the following week, eventually playing the top 50 markets within five weeks of this weekend’s initial rollout.
EXCLUSIVE: The appetite for scripts and partially finished films is soaring. Lionsgate is tying up a deal today to pay $7 million to pre-buy U.S. distribution rights to American Ultra, the action comedy that begins shooting in New Orleans in five weeks with Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart starring for Project X director Nima Nourizadeh. In the script by Chronicle writer Max Landis, Eisenberg plays a stoner whose small-town life with his live-in girlfriend (Stewart) is upended when his past catches up with him, putting him the crosshairs of a government operation bent on wiping him out. It’s a co-production between A Likely Story and Circle Of Confusion, with Anthony Bregman, David Alpert and Britton Rizzio producing, and Kevin Scott Frakes of Palmstar Media Capital and Raj Brinder Singh of Merced Media Partners exec producing.
The buzz on this one has been building since Berlin, and I thought a deal might be made there. This rivals the record $7 million Berlin deal that The Weinstein Company paid for U.S. rights to the Morten Tyldum-directed The Imitation Game, the film that sold based on script and promo reel about WWII war hero Alan Turing, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley starring. The same team at CAA brokered this giant American Ultra deal with Lionsgate after the agency packaged the film and arranged the financing. While many felt that the results …
The campaign teams from Warner Bros’ Gravity and FX’s American Horror Story: Coven came away with the respective Maxwell Weinberg Publicist Showmanship Award for Motion Pictures and Television at today’s 51st annual ICG Publicists Awards. Michael Singer received the Les Mason Lifetime Achievement Award. Other winners announced at the Beverly Hilton luncheon ceremony were Access Hollywood‘s Scott Mantz (American Press Award), former HFPA President Philip Berk (International Media Award). Peter Fountain (Excellence in Still Photography, Motion Pictures) and Michael Yarish (Excellence in Still Photography). Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-chairs Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger were presented with the Motion Picture Showmanship Award by the Divergent duo of Shailene Woodley and Theo James, and Shonda Rhimes received the Television Showmanship Award from her Scandal actor Tony Goldwyn. Jerry Lewis also was on hand to accept his Lifetime Achievement Award. A complete list of winners follows.
Tyler Perry‘s longtime and lucrative first-look deal with Lionsgate is not being renewed, though there are still several projects in the pipeline at the studio beyond his upcoming release Single Mom Club, which is due out March 14. That means the impact of this split won’t be felt for some time. We’re even hearing there could more Madea films for Lionsgate –his last Lionsgate pic was Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, which grossed $52.5M when it came out in December. The decision was mutual between the studio and Perry’s 34th Street Production, a source close to the situation says, based on a variety of matters such as international distribution and marketing. Perry’s company is now leaving LA and Perry will consolidate his operations at his Atlanta-based Tyler Perry Studios. He still has plenty of irons in the fire, including a big exclusive deal with Oprah Winfrey’s OWN for scripted series inked in the fall that has spawned two successful sitcoms.
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘The Bag Man’, ‘Repentance’, ‘Stalingrad’, ‘The Lunchbox’, ‘Fatal Assistance’
Big Sony is opening Russian epic Stalingrad in a record number of IMAX theaters this weekend. The roll out may be a watershed for Russian filmmaking in the U.S. and it marks another blending of “specialty” and “Hollywood” though that isn’t really new as the grey areas have mounted for years. Hollywood’s biggest stars have long had indies intervals between studio cash cows. Cinedigm will open The Bag Man with Robert De Niro and John Cusack theatrically, while the Universal acquisition will remain with the studio’s non-theatrical lineup. Lionsgate/Codeblack will bow Repentance with Anthony Mackie and Forest Whitaker in over 150 theaters, targeting its primarily African-American audience. On the traditional end, Sony Classics will platform Cannes debut The Lunchbox this weekend, while Velvet Films will open an exclusive engagement at Film Society of Lincoln Center for Raoul Peck’s Fatal Assistance.
The Bag Man
Director-writer: David Grovic
Writers: Paul Conway, James Russo, Marie-Louise von Franz (inspired by her short story, The Cat)
Cast: John Cusack, Rebecca Da Costa, Robert De Niro, Crispin Glover, Dominic Purcell
First-time feature filmmaker David Grovic landed quite a cast for his crime thriller The Bag Man. Starring John Cusack, Rebecca Da Costa and Robert De Niro, the title centers on a criminal who bides his time at a seedy motel, waiting for his boss after killing several men and making away with a mystery bag. “We were incredibly fortunate to get essentially first choices in all the roles,” said Grovic. “Unless you’re a studio paying huge money, I think the only way you can get this quality of cast is by making it a passion project.” Grovic said that the cast responded to the script’s non-stereotypical traits including De Niro’s hair and eccentric dialog as well as Da Costa’s wonder woman outfit for starters.
Corporate synergy with 50% owner CBS already has done well for TVGN, which saw triple-digit ratings increases from last fall’s broadcasts of CBS properties Big Brother After Dark and The Young & The Restless. Now it is adding exclusive encores of the most current episodes of CBS competition series The Amazing Race and Survivor back-to-back Saturdays at 8 PM and 9 PM beginning this week. Amazing Race kicked off its 24th season last Sunday opposite NBC’s Sochi Olympics Closing Ceremony, and Survivor‘s 28th cycle debuted last night. TVGN, in more than 80 million homes, is 50/50 co-owned by CBS and Lionsgate.
UPDATE, 5:36 PM: Mike Epps has been added to the cast of Universal’s Term Life, starring Vince Vaughn and Hailey Steinfeld. Epps will Darryl Mosely, a dirty cop who is trying to frame Vaughn’s character. The actor, whose recent credits include The Hangover Part III and Sparkle, next stars alongside Forest Whitaker, Anthony Mackie and Sanaa Lathan in Repentance, which Lionsgate opens Friday. He is repped by CAA, managers Dan Spilo and Niles Kirshner and attorney Todd Rubenstein.
PREVIOUS, 1:17 PM: Universal’s Term Life has recruited two new castmembers to join the crime thriller starring Vince Vaughn and Hailee Steinfeld. The pic tracks Nick Barrow (Vaughn), who takes his estranged daughter (Steinfeld) on the lam when a heist goes south and he takes out a life insurance policy on himself that doesn’t take effect for 21 days. Jordi Molla (Riddick, Bad Boys II) has been cast in the Peter Billingsley-helmed pic as a ruthless Mexican cartel leader Victor Fuentes, who’s after Barrow. Molla recently filmed a regular role on FX’s upcoming Hoke. Also joining Term Life in the role of Molla’s son Alejandro is William Levy. The Cuba-born telenovela star and Dancing With The Stars Season 14 contestant most recently filmed feature The Veil. He’s shooting Change Of Heart with Jim Belushi and Virginia Madsen and will be seen in Lionsgate’s Addicted.
The company has been on a release-date roll, slating a dozen films since Friday. In its second announcement today, Warner Bros has set theatrical debuts for the Untitled New Line Horror Film (October 3), Mean Moms (May 8, 2015), The Conjuring 2 (October 23, 2015) and How To Be Single (February 12, 2016). The NL horror pic is getting a jump on this year’s Halloween fare, steering clear of Universal’s Dracula Untold (October 17) and Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 5 (October 24). Warners must have good vibes about Mean Moms, the feature directing debut of veteran TV helmer Beth McCarthy-Miller. The comedy about the cutthroat world of competitive parenting in the suburbs has no stars booked but has a plum start-of-summer launch date to itself for now. The sequel to last summer’s horror hit The Conjuring is slated for the 2015 trick-or-treat season, a week after Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak begins its Halloween haunt. And How To Be Single is the first rom-com set for the 2016 Valentine’s Day weekend, going up against the Lionsgate actioner Gods Of Egypt and Universal’s Untitled Pets Project from Illumination Entertainment.
Erik Feig now shares the co-president title of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group with Steve Beeks, who continues as co-COO of Lionsgate. The long-term deal, terms of which were not disclosed, comes after the former head of production at Summit helped oversee a film slate that made more than $2.3 billion at the 2013 box office including The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Now You See Me. Here’s today’s release:
SANTA MONICA, CA, February 25, 2014 – Motion picture executive Erik Feig has been promoted to Co-President of Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group and has signed a new long-term agreement, the Company announced today. He oversees all aspects of feature film development and production for the Company’s Lionsgate and Summit film labels.
The Company’s feature film slate generated more than $2.3 billion at the global box office in 2013, led by the second film of Lionsgate’s blockbuster Hunger Games franchise, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the 10th highest-grossing film of all time at the domestic box office, and Summit’s sleeper hit Now You See Me, which grossed more than $350 million worldwide.
“Erik has assembled a tremendous production slate over the past two years, and he will be a critical, innovative and disruptive part of our future as we continue to evolve as a next generation global content leader,” said Lionsgate Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer.
Callum Blue (The Princess Diaries 2) has been tapped for a regular series role in TNT’s pilot Proof, a supernatural medical drama executive produced by Kyra Sedgwick. Written by Rob Bragin and directed by Alex Graves, Proof centers on a skeptical, hard science, female surgeon who is persuaded to investigate cases of reincarnation. Callum, repped by Gersh, The Artists Partnership and Sanders Armstrong Caserta, plays Peter Van Owen, a charming, a best-selling author who claims to be a psychic medium.
Related: 2014 TNT Pilots
Alexia Fast (Jack Reacher) has been booked for a regular series role in WGN America’s 13-episode scripted series Manhattan. From writer Sam Shaw and director Thomas Schlamme, Skydance TV, Tribune Studios and Lionsgate TV, Manhattan is set against the backdrop of the clandestine mission to build the world’s first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico and follows the brilliant but flawed scientists and their families. Fast, repped by UTA, Great North Artists Management and Sanders Armstrong Caserta, will play Callie Winter, the 16-year-old somewhat sharp-tongued daughter of Liza and Frank, whom she needles about his frequent, secretive absences from home for his work.