Open Road’s animated indie pic The Nut Job opened this past weekend and grossed $25.7 million over the four-day MLK Day holiday — a record for the best animated debut for a non-studio film. Now the sequel as been set for January 15, 2016. Will Arnett voiced a mischievous squirrel who plans a heist to get into his town’s biggest nut shop in order to help his pals in the park gather food to survive the winter. Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, Stephen Lang, Jeff Dunham, Gabriel Iglesias and Sarah Gadon also provided voices. Peter Lepeniotis directed from a screenplay by Lorne Cameron and Lepeniotis. No word yet who is coming back for the second go-round, but we’re hearing those talks are already underway. The pic was a collaboration of Redrover, ToonBox Entertainment and Gulfstream Pictures.
One in a series of Deadline stories that look back on 2013 and ahead to 2014.
Some of 2014′s most important sporting events won’t take place on a grassy field or an indoor court. They’ll play out in board rooms as TV execs continue their struggle to balance the diverging interests of those who love sports, and others who don’t — but still have to subsidize the programming as part of the pay TV bundle. Sports accounts for about 33% of cable and satellite company programming costs, Barclays Equity Research’s Kannan Venkat estimates. That percentage will grow: Sports prices are rising about 10% a year while other channels rise about 7%. DirecTV CEO Mike White says consumer frustration could soon begin to boil. “There’s a point where you have to stand up for the 99% who are angry about their bills.”
Will 2014 be the year when distributors make a serious effort to slow their rising sports costs? It’s possible, especially in dealings with regional sports channels — particularly in Los Angeles. Time Warner Cable is about to introduce a service for Dodgers games, SportsNetLA, following its launch last year of SportsNet and Deportes which show Lakers games. The cable company is said to want other distributors to pay $5 per subscriber per month for the Dodgers, roughly the same price MSG charges for its regional service that offers the New York Knicks and Rangers. But so far other distributors have not stepped up to the plate. DirecTV could help everyone hold out; the No. 1 satellite company has led the charge against high-priced regional sports networks. It declined to carry the Pac-12 Network which is home to two schools (UCLA and USC) in the key LA market, the University of Texas’ Longhorn Network, and Comcast-owned sports services in Portland, Philadelphia and Houston. (The Houston network filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September.)
Can’t help but think James Schamus receiving the WGA East‘s Evelyn F. Burkey Award for “bringing honor and dignity to writers” is the guild’s way of making sure it thanks the now former Focus Features boss for his years mentoring art house fare from writers like Dustin Lance Black, Charlie Kaufman, Larry McMurtry & Anne Proulx, and Jose Rivera as well as himself (Lust, Caution and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). Shamus was the longtime CEO at Focus before a full rethink of the business at NBCUniversal in October saw him removed and replaced by FilmDistrict’s Peter Schlessel, part of a plan to focus on more mainstream and genre films (at least in part) in the future. One of Shamus’ final films in Focus’ pipeline is Dallas Buyers Club, the kind of film Focus has so successfully shepherded through many an Oscar season. “This film is very important and we have believed in it from the beginning”, Schamus told our Pete Hammond after the movie’s LA premiere October 18. “We are taking this one all the way to the altar, all the way, and I am going to be there for it.” Here’s today WGA East release, which comes a day after it said it would award The Wire creator David Simon with Ian McClellan Hunter Award for Career Achievement during the WGA Awards on February 1:
The Publicists of the International Cinematographers Guild (IATSE Local 600) have announced some of this year’s nominees, with winners to be unveiled at the 51st annual Awards Luncheon on February 28 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Last year, Deadline’s Pete Hammond and Mike Fleming were both nominated for the American press award, with Hammond winning for a second time (he’s the only U.S. journalist to win it twice). This year Fleming is back on the nominee list alongside Variety‘s Tim Gray, Entertainment Weekly‘s Jeff Jensen, Access Hollywood‘s Scott Mantz and ComingSoon.net’s Ed Douglas. Here are the rest of the noms unveiled today:
Here’s proof that time-shifted viewing and a target demo whose schedules are horribly unpredictable (at least in a certain Deadline editor’s house) equals victory: Disney said today that its Disney Channel special Sofia The First: The Floating Palace was watched by 7.6 million total viewers last week based on Live+7 ratings, making it the second-most-watched telecast in cable TV history in the kids 2-5 demo and No. 1 in scores of other preschool demos. The only show to beat it? The Sofia The First movie (8.2 million viewers) that officially launched the princess franchise in November 2012. The audience for Floating Palace more than doubled in the time-shifted metric in kids 2-5 (2.63 million vs. 1.10 million) and girls 2-5 (1.85 million vs. 706,000), and grew double digits in total viewers (7.62 million vs. 4.72 million), adults 18-49 (2.15 million vs. 1.40 million) and women 18-49 — aka moms — (1.43 million vs. 911,000). At least around here, our own personal Nielsen viewer watches episodes multiple times and almost never when they’re actually on TV unless by accident, so these kinds of numbers make sense — though the viewership numbers are impressive nonetheless.
EXCLUSIVE: Veteran reality producer Sean Travis has inked a pod deal with Asylum Entertainment. Under the pact, he will produce his own shows. Travis’ unscripted credits include MTV’s The Real World, ABC’s The Mole and Celebrity Mole, WB’s High School Reunion, Spike TV’s The Joe Schmo Show and Fox’s Princes Of Malibu and The Rebel Billionaire. He also was executive producer for MTV’s The Hills and The City, and currently is EP on that network’s Wait ‘Til Next Year via his 2Lights Entertainment. He is repped by WME and Greenberg Traurig. It’s the latest addition for Asylum, producers behind The Kennedys miniseries as well as reality shows like ReelzChannel’s Beverly Hills Pawn and the ESPN docu series 30 For 30. As part of its expanding unscripted efforts, Asylum last month inked an output deal with Kennedys partner ReelzChannel with plans to produce 50 hours of unscripted programming for the network in 2014. That move came hortly after hiring reality TV veteran Stephanie Lydecker joined to oversee unscripted development as well as develop for the company’s scripted business. On the scripted side, Asylum just named Joan Harrison SVP Scripted Programming & Development to oversee miniseries and limited series for the company; she had most recently been at Gersh, where she repped showrunners and filmmakers and packaged longform and unscripted series.
Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World had already eclipsed the worldwide gross of its predecessor and officially crossed $500M globally yesterday, Disney confirmed this morning. It’s the distributor’s third title to top that milestone this year following Marvel’s Iron Man 3 and Pixar’s Monsters University. For the record, to date Thor 2 has grossed $152M domestically and $352.2M internationally for a $504.2M total — the overseas figure better than the final numbers for the first Thor, Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Captain America. Those international totals include $46.1M in China, which just premiered Gravity to $9M in its first two days and is prepping for tomorrow’s day-and-date launch of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
The classiest anchor in San Diego also happens to be the busiest promoter of Paramount‘s Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Will Ferrell has appeared as Ron Burgundy in Dodge ads, is getting Emerson College’s journalism school renamed The Ron Burgundy School of Communication (OK, for one day), and even wrote a book that Ferrell as Burgundy promoted last night on Conan. While it can be debated whether Paramount and Farrell are overexposing themselves in the run-up to the film’s December 20 release, he nailed it last night singing the campaign song for “let’s call him embattled” Toronto Mayor Rob Ford – proving that this style of Sacha Baron Cohen-esque marketing can work wonders when it hits the zeitgeist head-on. Check it out:
First the romantic family comedy was Blended, then it was changed in the summer to The Familymoon. Now today it’s been re-titled Blended. The release date is still May 23, 2014. I’ll just rewatch Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore and director Frank Coraci’s other movie together, The Wedding Singer, until Warner Bros marketing makes up its mind. My money is on Blendedmoon, but I bet Deadline’s loyal readers can do better than that.
Five years ago stock of Martha Stewart Living Ominmedia traded at around $36 a share and founder Martha Stewart‘s TV shows were all over first-run and syndication. Today shares are trading at $2.40 after the company’s board of directors announced that Daniel Dienst has been named CEO to spearhead the strategy of “renewed growth” at the media company, which has its hands in magazines, books, TV and radio. Former CEO Lisa Gersh said in December she was stepping down after having been in the job only a few months. Dienst is a turnaround guy but not in the media field: He most recently was CEO of Sims Metal Management. He had been on the MSLO board chaired by Stewart and will remain there. Here’s the release:
NEW YORK, Oct. 28, 2013 — Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (“MSLO”) (NYSE: MSO) and its Board of Directors today announced that Daniel W. Dienst has been named Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Dienst is a highly accomplished CEO who has successfully repositioned and grown publicly-held companies. Mr. Dienst was recently appointed to the MSLO Board of Directors and will continue to serve in that role.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s psychological thriller Penance (Shokuzai) first aired on Japanese TV early last year as a serial drama. Music Box Films will release it theatrically in summer 2014 after snagging distribution rights for the U.S., Canada, UK and Ireland, followed by DVD and digital rollouts. It’s the latest addition to Music Box’s slate of foreign TV acquisitions joining Sweden’s Wallander, Germany’s Generation War and France’s The Returned. Penance begins when a mysterious stranger approaches a group of young girls, then kidnaps and brutally murders one of them. Wracked with grief, the victim’s unhinged mother demands that the four survivors identify the killer or face a penance of her choosing. They grow up in the shadow of that tragic debt. Music Box president William Schopf negotiated the deal with Miyuki Takamatsu of Free Stone Productions on behalf of Japanese network WOWOW.
Syfy has greenlighted eight episodes of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge, which will pit 10 aspiring creature creators competing in a series of challenges where they will build everything from mechanical characters to whimsical beasts. The winner gets $100,000 and a contract working at the famed Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Jim Henson’s son Brian Henson is aboard as lead judge. This is the puppeteering version of the network’s Face Off, in which aspiring special effects makeup artists go head-to-head, and an early 2014 premiere is planned. Serving as mentors on Creature Shop Challenge will be three longtime Creature Shop artists: designer Peter Brooke, mechanization and animatronics master John Criswell, and fabrication and artistic specialist Julie Zobel. The Jim Henson Co is producing the series, with Brian Henson executive producing with his sister Lisa Henson, the company’s CEO who also is in production on Disney’s Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Joseph Freed and Rob Bagshaw are also exec producing.
As part of the deal struck today between Joan Rivers and the WGA East, the Fashion Police host said that she will not “render any writing services even though as a comedian and SAG-AFTRA host, I often write material for myself.” The WGA East had set an October 14 disciplinary hearing in New York to determine whether the E! host violated the union’s rules by writing and performing showrunner duties for the E! Network show during its current writers strike. Action could have resulted in Rivers becoming the first member of that guild to be tossed, and she had called the trial board hearing “a bunch of bullsh*t“. Former writers for show have been on strike since mid-April for over $1 million in back wages and overtime. Rivers and the network contend have that Rivers played no part in the situation that led to the dispute.
Daniel Porter made his mark in the gaming space with OMGPOP and Zynga and now will be tasked with overseeing all of WME‘s online and mobile initiatives and help identify digital opportunities for clients. Based in the agency’s New York office as head of the Digital Department, he will work closely with Chris Jacquemin, who will continue to focus on digital content for agency clients via channel strategies and online packaging negotiations. Porter oversaw the design and release of OMGPOP’s Draw Something, now the third most downloaded game ever, and helped orchestrate OMGPOP’s sale to Zynga in 2012; most recently he was VP and General Manager of Zynga New York. His previous titles include SVP Corporate Development for Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, and he also helped develop TicketWeb, an online ticketing company eventually sold to Ticketmaster. Porter is the founder of the entrepreneurial organization Inside Startups and sits on the board of Venture for America.
Newly retired tennis pro Andy Roddick will co-host Fox Sports Live, the network’s flagship news and highlights show, when Fox Sports 1 launches August 17. He joins Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole, the Canadian duo previously announced as the primary highlight team for the show, which will be the News Corp-owned network’s equivalent and rival to ESPN’s SportsCenter. Roddick is no stranger to the spotlight, having been the U.S.’ top male tennis player for years before being slowed down by injuries and age — he won a slew of titles but only one major, the 2003 U.S. Open, before he retired after the U.S. Open last August at age 30. On the media front, he hosted Saturday Night Live in 2003 and co-hosted a nationally syndicated Fox Sports Radio show last year — the guy knows his sports. Sports Illustrated has already reported that Charissa Thompson, co-host of ESPN’s SportsNation, will also join the team as a co-host.
The real fun might not be seeing the LA Kings against rival Anaheim Ducks in Chavez Ravine but instead those poor workers and Zamboni drivers trying to keep the ice from melting on a potentially hot LA day. That’s what first came to mind when the NHL today announced the Jan 25, 2014, game as part of its expanded outdoor schedule last year. The Stadium Series as it’s now called was spawned by the successful annual Winter Classic game on New Year’s Day, which has boosted awareness of the sport, and provided NBC a killer TV alternative to college bowl game blowouts. Toronto plays Chicago at Soldier Field on March 1, and other matchups are to be announced including likely Yankee Stadium games featuring the NY Rangers, NY Islanders and NJ Devils.
Chris Broussard became part of the story yesterday with his outspoken comments about NBA player Jason Collins‘ coming-out in a Sports Illustrated column, making the journeyman center America’s first openly gay major sports figure. Broussard, a Christian and a longtime respected NBA beat writer who now works for ESPN The Magazine, called homosexuality a sin during a segment on the network’s newsmagazine OTL discussing Collins’ revelation. Not sure why anyone is surprised that a TV commentator provided commentary — agree or disagree with his take that’s what they pay the guy for, and he won’t be the last to offer an opposing view in this debate — but it prompted an apology from ESPN last night and a clarification by Broussard via Twitter:
Today on OTL, as part of a larger, wide-ranging discussion on today’s news, I offered my personal opinion as it relates to Christianity, a point of view that I have expressed publicly before. I realize that some people disagree with my opinion and I accept and respect that. As has been the case in the past, my beliefs have not and will not impact my ability to report on the NBA. I believe Jason Collins displayed bravery with his announcement today and I have no objection to him or anyone else playing in the NBA.
PHILADELPHIA – April 16, 2013 – Starting today, Comcast’s Xfinity TV and Tribeca Film® will bring Xfinity TV customers special access to the 12th Annual Tribeca Film Festival® on Xfinity On Demand. This offering includes four films available before they make their debut during the Tribeca Film Festival, which begins on April 17: The English Teacher, Fresh Meat, What Richard Did, and Greetings from Tim Buckley along with past Tribeca Film favorites that have screened at the Festival including Newlyweds, Grave Encounters, Janie Jones, Struck by Lightning, and over a dozen more.
Jeanine Mason, who won Season 5 of Fox‘s competition series So You Think You Can Dance, has been cast in the network’s drama pilot Delirium. The project, from 20th Century Fox TV and Chernin Entertainment and based on Lauren Oliver’s book trilogy, is set in a world where love is deemed illegal and is able to be eradicated with a special procedure. With 95 days to go until her scheduled treatment, Lena Holoway (Emma Roberts) falls in love. Mason will play Lena’s best friend Hana, who also faces the procedure. An apparently flirty girl who lives next door to Julian Fineman (Gregg Sulkin) and enjoys messing with his head, she is ultimately less rebellious than she appears. Billy Campbell, Corey Reynolds and Daren Kagasoff co star in the pilot, written and executive produced by Karyn Usher. Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope and Paula Mazur are also exec producers. Mason, whose recent credits include a turn on ABC Family’s Bunheads, is repped by ABA Talent and 3 Arts.