Here is a look at Netflix‘s next original series, the irreverent (and a little trippy) adult animated comedy BoJack Horseman, which premieres August 22. The PSA-style promo introduces BoJack (Will Arnett), the failed legendary star of the favorite ’90s family sitcom Horsin’ Around, who has been trying to find his way through a muddle of self-loathing, whisky and failed relationships. Now, in the presence of his human sidekick Todd (Aaron Paul) and his feline agent and ex-paramour Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), BoJack is primed for his comeback. The cast of the 12-episode series, which marks Arnett’s return to Netflix following last year’s installment of Arrested Development, also includes Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins and Patton Oswalt. Raphael Bob-Waksberg created the comedy, from Michael Eisner’s The Tornante Co., and executive produces with Arnett, Paul, Steven A. Cohen and Noel Bright. BoJack was designed by graphic artist Lisa Hanawalt and animated by ShadowMachine.
Global Showbiz Briefs: China Forum Held On Sino-U.S. Cooperation; Simon Cowell Named Mipcom Personality Of The Year; ITV Drama Lineup; More
As I reported on Monday, the China Film Association has formed the International Communication Committee of the China Film Association. At an event held Tuesday in Beijing, the ICCCFA was unveiled to address critical issues facing the Chinese film industry. DMG Entertainment, whose president Wu Bing was named as VP of ICCCFA, helped organize the event. The ICCCFA’s focus will be to educate and engage the global film community, particularly Hollywood, to enhance the development of the Chinese film industry by establishing best practices for partnering with China’s established and proven film companies to access the market. One of the major questions addressed was whether the Chinese film industry should support Hollywood studios making Chinese films or Chinese studios making Hollywood films. DMG’s Dan Mintz said the industry is “collectively agreeing on the latter as the correct agenda.” Along with the heads of many of China’s most influential state-backed film organizations, DMG escorted former Skydance COO Paul Schwake and screenwriter Evan Daugherty to the forum. Talking about the long-term goal of global film and cultural balance, Schwake said: “Though Hollywood isn’t a perfect system, it is an industry that has benefited from 100-plus years of trial and error and adaptive evolution. It’s important for the governing entities in China to support their own industry leaders so that those entities can catch up to the U.S. studios and perhaps even surpass them some day.” Said Daugherty: “Yes, it takes a great story to make a great film, but to complete that journey takes a system that excels at development, finance, production, marketing, and distribution. Otherwise that great story just lays on a shelf.” Via the ICCCFA, the Chinese government has put an emphasis on building China’s cultural industries. Kang Jianmin, Secretary-General of the China Film Association, noted: “The mission of the Chinese film industry should not only focus on content, even though content is king. It should also nurture a solid foundation of new technology, creativity and talent – in other words, focusing on industry development at-large. This macro-strategy, if successfully implemented, will most rapidly create a world-class film industry.”
Not even the arrival of fast-selling sequel Mario Kart 8 could rev up sales of the Wii U game console, as one-time video game king Nintendo continued to struggle in its first quarter. Operating losses of 9.47 billion yen ($92.2M) were twice as bad as expected in consensus analyst estimates, while sales dropped more than 8 percent to 74.7 billion yen ($72.7M) despite sales of more than 2.8 million units of Mario Kart in the quarter.
There were modest signs of hope, as Wii U sales spiked more than three times from the same quarter a year ago, hitting 510,000 units. That still leaves the Wii U far behind Sony’s next-generation game console, the PS4, which has racked up 8.7 million units sold since its debut in November 2013, a year after the Wii U. Nintendo has sold fewer than 6.7 million units in 19 months.
‘Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn Sets ‘Sex With Strangers’ On Fire; A Pianist’s Tale Of Survival After The Kindertransport
Anna Gunn, an Emmy winner as Skyler White on Breaking Bad and Geffen Playhouse regular, has taken to the boards as her latest show, Gracepoint, heads to its October premiere on Fox. In Laura Eason’s Sex With Strangers, running at the increasingly essential Second Stage, she plays Olivia, a writer who has retreated to a secluded B&B in Michigan to finish her second novel. It’s a dark and snow-stormy night when Ethan comes stomping in from the cold.
Olivia is on the cusp of 40, wispy and comfortably wrapped in an afghan. Ethan is played by Billy Magnussen, for whom the cusp of 40 is still a considerable way off and who — as anyone knows who saw him as Sigourney Weaver’s gifted boy toy in Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike (he was Spike) — has a body to render women weak and set men’s teeth on edge.
Emmy-winning TV movie and miniseries producer Robert Halmi Sr. has died. At 90, he was still doing what he had loved doing for the past three and a half decades — producing television — until his sudden passing this afternoon in his New York home from a brain aneurysm.
A freedom fighter in his native Hungary, where he had been jailed and sentenced to death twice — once by Nazi invaders, then by the communist regime — Halmi was able to emigrate to the U.S. in 1951, arriving with a Leica camera and $5 in his pocket. He started off as a “diaper photographer,” taking pictures of babies for a diaper service, before becoming one of America’s leading magazine photographers. He then switched to television, becoming one of the most prolific longform producers in the genre’s heyday during the 1980s and 1990s. His more than 200 movies and miniseries included such hits as Gulliver’s Travels, Merlin, The Odyssey and Tin Man. Together, they have earned 136 Emmy Awards (and 480 nominations), as well as Golden Globes, Peabodys, Christophers and Humanitas Prizes.
“I cannot retire, I would go nuts,” Halmi told me five years ago, when he was still jetting around the world to the sets of his movies, with that still camera still around his neck. Recently, he was working on the latest big-scope project, Syfy’s 13-part series Olympus, which started filming three weeks ago for a 2015 premiere.
EXCLUSIVE: Incomparable writer, producer, First Amendment apostle and funny guy Norman Lear will receive this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN Center USA, which works on global issues of freedom of speech and censorship. The non-profit human-rights group also said it is giving its First Amendment Award to journalist Glenn Greenwald and documentary director Laura Poitras for their work disseminating documents relating to NSA surveillance. Journalist and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas will receive the Freedom to Write Award for his work on immigration issues.
Lear, who turned 92 on Sunday, made his name creating groundbreaking TV sitcoms in the 1970s, including All In The Family, Maude, Good Times, One Day At A Time, Sanford And Son and The Jeffersons. The shows couched controversy in humor, dealing with thorny societal issues including racism, bigotry, feminism, divorce, abortion and class. Lear, also the producer of films including Fried Green Tomatoes, was as politically active off-screen as on: He founded the advocacy group People for the American Way in 1981, led a consortium to purchase an original copy of the Constitution and toured it around the country, and remains at the forefront of Hollywood’s most active and influential political progressives.
The actress who went from reclining in King Kong’s hand to creeping us out on American Horror Story, picking up a pair of Oscars along the way, will be feted this fall by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Organizers said today that Jessica Lange will receive the ninth annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film during a black-tie gala on November 16 in Santa Barbara. Presenters will be revealed in the coming months. Here’s the release:
ITV, the UK’s leading — and highly acquisitive — commercial broadcaster said this morning that it’s on track to deliver another year of growth despite a 3% drop in viewing figures for the flagship channel over the first six months of 2014. In releasing its half-year results, the company says external revenues are up 7% to £1,225M ($2,074M). That includes increases in non-advertising, online, pay, interactive, and ITV Studios revenues. The latter, which is one of the key areas the company has been focusing on, is up 2% to £402M ($681M). ITV has acquired a slew of independent production companies over the past nearly two years, most recently taking 80% of Pawn Stars maker Leftfield Entertainment. The broadcaster has also been on a transformation plan to reduce debt and says its total cost savings for the full year is ahead of target at about £15M ($25.4M). The acquisitions, it says, will “ensure continued good growth in ITV Studios this year and into next year” while a return to organic growth will be seen in 2015 helped by investment in scripted programming. The evolving strategy will include an increasing emphasis on international content creation and distribution. However, ITV is not expecting to be acquired itself. Liberty Global recently bought BSkyB’s 6.4% holding in ITV, but boss Adam Crozier said today that the broadcaster doesn’t plan to sell parts of its business. “We are certainly not considering selling off any parts of this business; …
Social-media service Twitter saw its shares fly skyward, jumping as high as 31 percent in after-hours trading after it reported much better earnings and continued user growth. The shares closed on the NYSE up 66 cents for the day, or about 1.7 percent, at $38.59 a share. Within less than two hours of post-market trading, however, the shares had hit as high as $49.99, a jump of more than $11, or 29.5 percent, just since the market close.
The big rise was fueled by Twitter’s better-than-expected earnings, up more than double for the quarter, and signs that its efforts to attract and keep new users were paying off. Revenues for Q2 hit $312.2M, way up from a year ago’s $139.3M, and also well above its own guidance of $270M to $280M. The company remains unprofitable, however, with losses widening to $144.6 million, up from $42.2 million the previous year, though that included costs such as stock-based compensation. Minus those expenses, the company logged a profit of 2 cents a share, way up from last year’s loss of 12 cents a share.
Ethan Embry and Brooklyn Decker have been cast in Netflix‘s half-hour comedy Grace & Frankie, toplined by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The 13-episode series — created by Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris, directed by Tate Taylor and executive produced by Paula Weinstein and Skydance Prods — centers on longtime nemeses Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin), who are facing the last chapter of their lives. When their husbands (Martin Sheen, Sam Waterston) announce they are in love with each other and plan to get married, the women find their lives both turned upside down and, to their dismay, permanently intertwined.
Embry, repped by APA and Nelson Davis Wetzstein, will play Coyote, the charismatic son of Sol (Waterston) and Frankie (Tomlin). More than a little self-destructive, he has a history of drug abuse; however, after 90 days of sobriety, he’s determined to get back his life. Decker, who comes off CBS’ Friends With Better Lives, will play Mallory, the younger daughter of Grace (Fonda) and Robert (Sheen). She is a classic beauty like Grace. She modeled her marriage after her parents and now that their relationship has blown up, she doubts all aspects of the choices she’s made in her life. She is repped by Gersh, Authentic and attorney James Adams.
Kino Lorber Acquires Award-Winning Himmler Docu ‘The Decent One’ & Lit Adaptation ‘Winter In The Blood’
Kino Lorber has acquired all U.S. rights to The Decent One, the pic that just won the Best Documentary award at the 2014 Jerusalem Film Festival. That’s the fest that was impacted by war itself this month, with attendees rushed into bomb shelter as rockets soared and troops began moving on the ground in the ongoing clash between Israel and Hamas. Decent One, directed by Vanessa Lapa, premiered in Berlin this year and reveals the secret personal writings and photographs from the private life of Nazi SS Commander Heinrich Himmler, providing an authentic account of the reality of Nazi Germany during Hitler’s reign through the eyes of the Nazi’s military leader. The pic is set to open at Film Forum in NYC on October 1 before a national rollout as part of an Oscar-qualifying run.
Kino Lorber CEO Richard Lorber negotiated the deal with Cinephil managing director Philippa Kowarsky.
Toronto Adds Kevin Smith’s ‘Tusk’, Frederick Wiseman & Ethan Hawke Docus; Vanguard & Midnight Madness Lineups
UPDATED: The Toronto Film Festival announced several additions to the 2014 lineup this morning including the documentary pics and the lineups for The Masters, Vanguard and Midnight Madness. The docu lineup features pioneers of BASE jumping in Sunshine Superman; Los Angeles sex workers in Tales Of The Grim Sleeper; survivors of the Indonesian genocide in The Look Of Silence; and, in Red Army, a hockey captain’s transition from national hero to political enemy during the rise and fall of the Soviet game.
The Midnight Madness section includes the world premiere of Kevin Smith’s Tusk, the wacky horror thriller that dropped its first trailer during Comic-Con. Set in the Canadian wilderness, it stars Justin Long as a podcaster who’s assigned to interview a mysterious seafarer (Michael Parks) who happens to have a strange obsession with walruses. Haley Joel Osment and Genesis Rodriguez also star. The pic hits theaters just after the fest on September 19; the Toronto fest runs September 4-14.
Here are the sections announced today:
Bluebirds of happiness were alighting at distributor Fox and creator Blue Sky Studios this week, as Rio 2 flew to the No. 1 spot in Rentrak’s weekly DVD and Blu-Ray sales charts in its home-entertainment debut. The sequel’s capering birds were followed at the top by two other animated hits beloved by kids and therefore their parents: Warner Bros’ The Lego Movie and Disney’s Oscar-winning and all-time animated box-office champ Frozen.
The theatrical arrival of Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, another Fox film, likely caused its cinematic predecessor, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, to swing back near the top of the charts a whopping 136 weeks (more than 2 1/2 years) after it first arrived there.
15th UPDATE, Monday, 2:00 PM: Lucy ended up the weekend just shy of $44M while Hercules did better on Sunday to get $29.8M and several other films did a notch better than expected from Sunday moviegoers. And So It Goes ended up right at $4.6M. Ugh. The Fluffy Movie was on only 432 screens and will remain on those going into the weekend (results below).
Next weekend, all eyes are on the new openers — Marvel/Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Universal’s James Brown biopic Get On Up — to lift the box office out of its summer slump. And Guardians is likely to do just that. It’s tracking right now between $65M and $75M and veteran distribution executives think it could go higher. It’s 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes right now and seems to be getting positive reaction on all sides. And why not? It’s a really entertaining film, filled with unexpected humor and a raccoon character that kind of steals the show. Right now, Get On Up is tracking around $15M to $20M so between that and the second weekend of Lucy, Universal should end up with the No. 2 and No. 3 spots. Here’s the Top 20 chart … until next weekend when the Star Lord arrives:
1). Lucy (UNI), 3,173 theaters / 3-day cume: $43.9M / Per screen average: $13,835 / Wk 1
2). Hercules (MGM/PAR), 3,595 theaters / 3-day cume: $29.8M / Per screen: $8,289 / Wk 1
Cuba Gooding Jr., Michael Madsen & Keith David Join Comedy Central Series ‘Big Time In Hollywood, FL’
EXCLUSIVE: Cuba Gooding Jr, Michael Madsen and Keith David have joined the cast of Comedy Central’s new scripted series Big Time In Hollywood, FL, produced by Ben Stiller‘s Red Hour and Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Written by Alex Anfanger and Dan Schimpf, it follows two delusional brothers and self-proclaimed filmmakers (Anfanger, Lenny Jacobson), who are kicked out of their parents’ (Kathy Baker, Stephen Tobolowsky) house and forced to fend for themselves for the first time in their lives, leading them on an epic journey in pursuit of their American dream. In six episodes of Big Time‘s 10-episode order, Oscar winner Gooding will play a fictionalized version of himself. In four episodes. Madsen will play a grizzled, alcoholic private investigator hired by the family to track their sons’ criminal activity. In six episodes, David will play a federal agent sent to investigate Cartel activity in Hollywood, Fla. The series is filming in Los Angeles for 2015 debut.
Hulu’s subscription service Hulu Plus has bought exclusive VOD rights to stream online episodes of WGN America‘s new historical drama Manhattan, the companies announced the morning after the show’s debut. Under the deal, new episodes of the show will unspool each Monday after their initial Sunday airing on WGN until all 13 have played. The five most recent episodes will be available for free on Hulu’s basic service, after a three-day delay.
Hulu touted the deal in a release as the first time it has secured SVOD rights on a show before a single episode has aired. Manhattan is set in WWII in the Manhattan Project in New Mexico’s desert, where the federal government set up a secret project to research the first atomic weapons, and the surrounding and equally secret community set up to support the work. The show is being produced by Tribune Studios, Lionsgate and Skydance Television. Manhattan was created and written by Sam Shaw (Masters of Sex) and directed by Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing). Executive producers are Shaw, Schlamme, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Marcy Ross and Dustin Thomason.
China Briefs: Beijing Forum To Address Sino-U.S. Film Cooperation; Local Producers Eye ‘Avatar’ Rival
A forum to be held this week in Beijing will address critical issues facing the Chinese film industry, especially as they regard cooperation with the U.S. The state-backed China Film Association has created the International Communication Committee of CFA in an effort to educate and engage the global film community, particularly Hollywood, in how to partner with China’s film entities to access the market. As Hollywood increasingly seek to establish ties to China, some thorny issues have crept up. Recently, Transformers: Age Of Extinction has faced criticism from sponsors over their portrayal, while the Chinese are understood to be concerned about foreign press coverage of reported extortion attempts on the set in Hong Kong last year. I hear folks expected to attend the forum include top execs from SAPPRFT, China Film Group, Huaxia Films, the CFA and DMG. Also expected to attend panels and presentations are former Skydance COO Paul Schwake and screenwriter Evan Daugherty (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Divergent).
With Avatar the 2nd highest-grossing film in Chinese history, local producers are looking to cash in with their own rival take. The state-backed Xinhua news agency reports that Beijing Chinese Century Media Company is prepping 3D fantasy film Bainiaoyi to shoot in May 2015 in Hengxian County for release at the end of 2016. The tale based on Zhuang folklore follows a young …
Bold debuts from two of the weekend’s openers in a crowded specialty box office included yet another Woody Allen film as well as a last starring turn from the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight was another solid opener in a string of recent successes for the veteran writer-director, with a good per-screen average. That said, the numbers were less stratospheric than some of his recent summer films when comparing on a straight theater average, though this go-around did bow in substantially more locations.
Magic is Allen’s third consecutive summer release (and seventh if you count the ”shoulder” seasons). The formula continues to be a lucrative one for Allen and his backers. In its opening weekend, Magic brought in nearly $426K in 17 theaters, for a solid $25K PTA. The film, starring Colin Firth and Emma Stone, bowed with 11 more runs than last year’s box-office and award-winning behemoth Blue Jasmine (the best performer of Allen’s very long career), which debuted to a $102K PTA in 6 theaters. That film also had a $612K opening weekend and went on to cume over $33.4M.
Comic-Con: Marvel Sets ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy 2′ For 2017; ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Footage Draws Standing Ovation
We finally know the first of the Marvel films that Disney has been setting aside dates for: Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 will arrive July 28, 2017. That leaves five unidentified superhero flicks between November 2017 and May 2019. The announcement came during Marvel’s Comic-Con panel tonight. Guardians star Chris Pratt and director James Gunn appeared via video from London, where they are promoting the first movie’s release overseas.
The panel also included the Avengers cast, who were introduced one by one and asked what it’s like to be in the third-highest-grossing film of all time. Throwing roses out to the Hall H crowd, Robert Downey Jr introduced all those in Avengers: Age of Ultron sans Scarlett Johansson: Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Quicksilver), Paul Bettany (The Vision), James Spader (voice of Ultron) and Elizabeth Olsen (as Scarlet Witch).
Whedon couldn’t be here because of an injury. Feige said, “Scarlett couldn’t be here because she’s pregnant.” Then she introduced a clip via video from Age of Ultron in which the team, in a penthouse, play a round of trying to pick up Thor’s hammer. Tony Stark puts his Iron Man hand on, Captain America makes a go. Then Ultron crashes the party. Iron Man gets in a big super suit as apocalypse dawns again. A lot of crash-bang-boom, like the finale of the first film. Playing throughout the trailer is a child singing, “I Got No Strings” from Disney’s Pinocchio. Last shot in the clip shows all the Avengers lying dead in a massive heap against a black sky, with Tony Stark the only one standing alive. The audience gave the clip a standing ovation. Amplifying the room’s mood was Josh Brolin walking in as Thanos.