UPDATE: Bullets Over Broadway will close at almost a complete loss of its $15 million-plus capitalization. Here’s the second announcement in a week about a movie-to-Main Stem musical closing. Six days after news surfaced that Rocky The Musical was KO’d comes word that Bullets Over Broadway will go dark August 24. The show, based on Woody Allen’s 1994 film comedy about an idealistic playwright who gets entangled with gangsters in order to see his high-minded play produced on Broadway, will lose most, if not all, of its $15-million-plus capitalization. It also represents the second costly demise, after Big Fish, of a musical from last season that arrived with high expectations based not only on its film pedigree but on the previous record of director-choregrapher Susan Stroman (Contact; The Producers).
But the great-looking, slickly-produced, high-energy tuner failed to garner the necessary rave reviews and theatergoer buzz despite a name star (Zach Braf) and six Tony nominations. Last week, an almost universally upbeat one on Broadway, Bullets took in $686,693, equal to just 45 percent of its gross potential, at the St. James Theatre box office. That probably didn’t cover its weekly operating expenses.
The show will have played 156 performances since opening April 10 after 33 previews. In addition to Braff, it starred Helene Yorke as the talent-free girlfriend of mobster Vincent Pastore he is forced to cast in order to get his play produced. Brooks Ashmanskas, Nick Cordero, Marin Mazzie, Betsy Wolfe, … Read More »
WGA West President Chris Keyser sent a “private” email today to select members of the guild in a pitch for money to support the WGA political action committees’ lobbying efforts. Guild leaders, who oppose virtually all media mergers, used Fox’s proposed takeover of Time Warner as the drumbeat to scare up money to support its PAC’s ongoing political activities.
According to the guild’s latest filing with the Department of Labor, its political action committee spent $347,037 last year on “political activities and lobbying,” and it wants to raise even more this year. The PAC was formed in 2009, and the guild says that it is funded solely from voluntary contributions from its members. “WGAW assets will not be used to fund contributions to the WGAW PAC,” the guild told the Department of Labor. “WGAW PAC will solicit and raise voluntary contributions from the WGAW members, which will be used to support political activities on behalf of writers.” The guild’s PAC is administered by an 11-member committee that includes the guild’s elected officers and executive director. Day-to-day operations are delegated to a firm of election law attorneys.
Related: Time Warner Changes By-Laws To Help Block A Hostile Takeover
In the supposedly private email, Keyser and negotiating committee co-chairs Chip Johannessen and Billy Ray pointed to a New York Times headline about the proposed Fox takeover of TW (“$80B Offer From Rupert Murdoch Puts Time-Warner In Play”) saying, “If this headline scares you — and it should — then consider this a call to arms.” The email said the pitch letter was “paid for” by the guild’s political action committee. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: UK director Carl Tibbetts (Retreat, Black Mirror) is now in the director’s chair on Timeless, the science fiction project scripted by Bill Kelly (Enchanted, Premonition). Story tracks a twentysomething surfer who sets out to build a time-travel machine after his wife dies in an accident. He taps a young Harvard physicist to help make the impossible a reality. Kelly first sold the spec in 2010 when Phillip Noyce was attached to direct. Now new financier Nicolas Veinberg and Defiant Pictures have come aboard, and Sunil Perkash (Salt, Enchanted, Premonition) will produce alongside Veinberg and Lucas Jarash. Relativity Media, which made the initial spec deal, is not currently attached to the project. Tibbetts made his feature debut with the sci-fi thriller Retreat starring Cillian Murphy, Thandie Newton, and Jamie Bell. He’s casting for the Timeless shoot next spring in Gran Canaria, Spain, where producers aim to take advantage of generous 38% local tax incentives. Defiant Pictures’ upcoming slate includes Charlize Theron starrer Dark Places and Wild Oats starring Shirley MacLaine and Jessica Lange. Tibbets is repped by Verve, Independent in the UK and Attorney Doug Stone. Kelly is repped by WME.
Malcolm D. Lee is back to write and direct the third film in the series, which Universal has titled and slated for April 15, 2016. The studio says the ensemble cast is returning for The Best Man Wedding, which features the group getting back together for a most unexpected nuptials. The previous film in the franchise, $17 million sequel The Best Man Holiday, was a hit right out of the gate, scoring a $30 million opening in November. It was the fifth-largest bow for an R-rated romantic comedy, the second-highest for an urban romantic comedy and the sixth-biggest for an urban-themed film overall. It also received an A+ CinemaScore across all quadrants. Best Man Holiday and 1999′s The Best Man starred Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Harold Perrineau, Monica Calhoun and Melissa De Sousa. Sean Daniel also is returning to produce the threequel, which has the release date to itself for now.
Cable news networks would not allow for Teddy Roosevelt or Franklin Delano Roosevelt to become POTUS today, the creators of PBS’ new Roosevelt family documentary suggested at TCA today. Teddy was too eccentric, and FDR was stricken with polio.
“I’m not sure they could have been president now,” Geoffrey Ward, an authority on FDR and longtime Ken Burns collaborator, told TV critics at Summer Press Tour, where they’d come to plug The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. “TR was very eccentric, and FDR was physically helpless, and in the modern world in which everything is fair game. … I think TV cameras would compete with each other to see who could get the most ‘helpless’ footage of FDR.” Ward said he doubted the U.S. will ever see another physically challenged president.
FDR was maybe the most press-accessible president, holding nearly 1,000 news conferences during his White House tenure, Burns and Ward said. The press “understood” they were not to write about FDR’s polio or vie for the “worst-looking Roosevelt” shot and wrote “more substantive pieces” than they might have otherwise, the producers said.
Asked why, then, they had scoured various sources to find footage of Roosevelt struggling with his polio-stricken limbs – Burns mentions spending a great deal of money after the documentary was wrapped after discovering four seconds of footage of FDR struggling to get off a train in Bismarck, ND — Burns responded, “We’ve got an obligation to do that,” because it illustrates what an effort it was for FDR to get through a day and speaks to his character. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Aly Michalka and AJ Michalka have wrapped on an untitled indie dramedy for first-time feature writer-director Stephen Pierce Ringer. The musician-actress siblings known as Aly & AJ, who perform together as the musical duo 78violet, produced and starred in the film as two sisters on the cusp of adulthood spending their last week in their LA hometown before embarking on their next tour. Read More »
After True Detective, toplined by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, the casting bar for HBO‘s new drama series is pretty high. Enter the pay cable network’s pilot Westworld, which has locked in Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood for lead roles. The project, inspired by Michael Crichton’s 1973 sci-fi movie set at an amusement park, hails from from J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot, Person Of Interest creator Jonathan Nolan, writer Lisa Joy Nolan, producer Jerry Weintraub and Warner Bros TV. It landed at HBO a year ago with one of the biggest commitments ever for the premium network, a pilot production commitment, and now has been officially greenlighted to pilot with Hopkins and Wood on board. Described as a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin, the series will keep the setting of the movie, which starred Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin and introduced new digital visual techniques. Read More »
TLC is rolling out a new multimillion-dollar brand campaign and tagline, “Everyone needs a little TLC”, via print spreads and on-air spots across key media outlets nationwide, the network said today. They include People magazine, US Weekly, USA Network, E!, A&E, TNT, TBS, ABC Family, Dish and DirecTV as well as Discovery Communications’ portfolio of networks.
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Frozen, already the all-time animation box-office champ and an Oscar winner, has added another jewel to its icy crown: Rentrak says the Walt Disney Animation feature topped the charts for the first half of 2014 in digital movie purchases and rentals on VOD and electronic sellthrough. Nearly all the other films in the top 10 were Oscar nominees too, even the Jackass-produced comedy Bad Grandpa, which snagged a nomination for best makeup and hairstyling. It appears everyone spent that very chilly winter of 2014 catching up on the Oscar contenders they didn’t watch in theaters.
There is one important caveat to this list, however: It does not include any films from NBCUniversal, nor from indie studios (whatever size studio we count Lionsgate as these days, its Hunger Games sequel made the list at a not-that-surprising No. 2). Rentrak said that though it couldn’t include individual Universal films for the list, the studio’s products as a whole were No. 1 for both overall transactions and retail revenue during the period, which ran from the week of January 5 to June 29.
Under the multi-year overall production deal, High School Musical alumna Ashley Tisdale and her sister Jennifer, Blondie Girl Prods‘ VP Development and Production, will create and develop scripted and unscripted content for Asylum Entertainment. The announcement was made today by Asylum president and CEO Steve Michaels.
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Taking questions from TV critics about his performance for PBS in Douglas Carter Beane’s Tony-nominated play The Nance, Nathan Lane got asked if he thinks gay characters should be played only by gay actors. In The Nance, Lane plays Chauncey Miles, a nance performer working during the period when New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia was trying to do away with burlesque.
“No,” he replied. “We just had The Normal Heart [with] Mark Ruffalo — fantastic job. … I certainly don’t think that. That way madness lies. Only gay actors can play gay parts and straight actors can play straight — then I wouldn’t have played Nathan Detroit — one of the great joys of my life – or Max Bialystock.”
Another critic at TCA today wondered what getting another Emmy nomination, for guest starring, on ABC’s Modern Family, “has meant for your career.” Lane laughed, then responded: “It’s a tribute to those writers. … They’ve been able to maintain the quality, which is not easy. I can only say it’s been a great pleasure. … I have just to go and play with them a couple times a year. And stuff like an Emmy nomination is always icing on the cake.
“I’m hoping I’m a sentimental choice, since I’ve been nominated six times and never won,” Lane continued, He noted that he’s in the running with Jimmy Fallon and Louie C.K. for guest hosting Saturday Night … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Elisabeth Rohm, who played Assistant DA Serena Southerlyn on NBC’s Law & Order, is taking on a other DA role, this time on the new CBS drama Stalker. Rohn will play a series regular on the Kevin Williamson series, which stars Dylan McDermott and Maggie Q as detectives from the Threat Assessment Unit who investigate cases of stalking. Rohm will play Amanda, a Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney who works with the Threat Assessment Unit and a mother to a 10-year-old boy, whose attempt at a new life in L.A. suddenly is derailed when she discovers her past (aka McDermott’s Jack Larsen) has followed her cross-country. The role was listed as a lead on the pilot’s breakdown, but the character only briefly appears in the pilot and ended up as a guest spot played by Elizabeth Bogush. Rohm, who co-starred in American Hustle, is with Mavrick Artists, Untitled, Hilary Shore and Felker, Toczek,.
Written and directed by Justin Simien, Dear White People takes a satirical look at race relations in the age of Obama. Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Brandon P. Bell, Kyle Gallner, Malcolm Barrett, Brittany Curran, Marque Richardson, and Dennis Haysbert star in the Sundance prize winner that follows a group of black students as they navigate campus life and racial politics at a predominantly white college. Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions will release the film October 17. Check out the first official trailer:
EXCLUSIVE: French Canadian drama Sarah Prefers To Run has been acquired by distribution platform Film Festival Flix following its U.S. debut at Outfest. Chloe Robichaud wrote and directed Sophie Desmarais in the story of a college-bound woman who agrees to get married in order to get a grant to afford university and compete in the school’s premier athletic club. Film Festival Flix’s deal covers U.S. rights. The company will open Sarah as part of its Film Festival Flix theatrical series monthly film series that enables audiences to interact with filmmakers and actors, as well as in limited release next spring. Film world-premiered at Cannes, where it screened in the Un Certain Regard section. EOne negotiated the deal via its Les Films Séville label.
The results should keep investors busy until Apple holds its quarterly conference call where it might drop a hint about its new product plans. Apple appears to have done well in the three months ending in June with net income of $7.75B, + 12.3% vs the period last year, on revenues of $37.43B, +6%. The top line was a tad shy of the $37.99B that analysts expected. But earnings at $1.28 a share beat forecasts for $1.23.
The company sold 35.2M iPhones in the quarter, +12.7% from last year. BGC analyst Colin Gillis anticipated just 31.8M. But iPads were down 9.2% to 13.3M. The number of Mac sales increased 17.6% to 4.4M. iPod sales fell nearly 36% to 2.9M.
“Our record June quarter revenue was fueled by strong sales of iPhone and Mac and the continued growth of revenue from the Apple ecosystem, driving our highest EPS growth rate in seven quarters,” CEO Tim Cooks says. “We are incredibly excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, as well as other new products and services that we can’t wait to introduce.”
The stock price fell 4.6% to $431.09 even though the Q2 earnings reported last night were largely in line with analyst expectations, subscriptions were up impressively, and management forecasts were upbeat. What gives?
The simplest explanation is that Netflix always is susceptible to downturns because its shares are so expensive, reflecting investor optimism about its prospects. They trade for about 128 times the company’s earnings — a stark contrast to more stable media giants such as Fox, Comcast, Time Warner and CBS whose stock prices equal about 20 times earnings.
Related: Netflix Says It Sees Little Change If Fox Acquires Time Warner
And Netflix bears found some reasons to be skittish. The company will have to boost spending to secure the content it will need to serve new markets including Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg — and that could put pressure on earnings “as soon as next year,” says Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter. He’s concerned about the decline in DVD-by-mail rental subscribers; they account for “half of all operating profit for the company.” The analyst also says that Amazon’s recent streaming deal with HBO suggests that “a stand-alone subscription plan is coming” that would make the e-retailer a more potent video competitor.
Related: Wall Street Wonders: Will HBO’s Deal With Amazon Change The Online Video Game?
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The average consumer outlay for tickets, from the National Association of Theatre Owners, is down 0.6% vs the same three-month period in 2013 — mostly due to a drop in attendance for premium-priced 3D and large-screen films. Box office for the quarter was down 6.6% as tentpole films including The Amazing Spider-Man 2, A Million Ways To Die In the West, and Captain America: The Winter Solider fell short of some analysts’ expectations. Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible, for one, noted that in Q2 “64% of tentpoles underperformed [his forecasts] and offset stronger performance by Maleficent, Transformers, 22 Jump Street and Godzilla.” The $8.33 average price in Q2 was up 4.6% vs the first three months of the year, a period when studios typically release few 3D films. Consumers paid an average of $8.13 for a movie ticket in 2013.
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Animation has set Jimmy Miller’s Mosaic and Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions on Manimal, the feature based on the cult 1980s TV show about a man who fights crime using his ability to morph into animals. Miller, Ferrell, and McKay will produce along with original series co-creator Glen A. Larson, and Key & Peele EPs Jay Martel and Ian Roberts already have been tapped to write.
The original 1983 series starred Simon MacCorkindale as Dr. Jonathan Chase, a dashing and wealthy man raised in Africa who was also “master of the secrets that divide man from animal.” It was cancelled after eight episodes, only to live on in the hearts of a devoted cult fandom (flash back with a clip from Manimal below). Sony Pictures Animation’s live-action/animation hybrid will reinvent that concept as an action-comedy with heavy visual effects and animated elements. SPA President of Production Michelle Raimo Kouyate and SVP Michael Lachance are overseeing for the studio. Read More »
A day after FX series Tyrant made the decision to permanently relocate production of its freshman season from Israel to Turkey, USA Network limited series DIG too is officially pulling out of the country torn by the violence in Gaza. “Given the current situation and after careful consideration, we are relocating the production of Dig partly to Albuquerque and are continuing to explore other locations,” USA said in a statement. “Our experience filming in Israel was very positive and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to capture such an authentic landscape that will be threaded throughout the series.”
When the Gaza attack started a week ago, DIG extended its planned hiatus by week while the network and producers were exploring alternatives and holding conversation with the project’s insurance company. The series, starring Jason Isaacs as an FBI agent investigating a troubling murder of a young woman archeologist in Jerusalem, took a break after filming the first episode of its six-episode order. The pilot episode was shot throughout Israel, including Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. The decision comes as FAA this morning banned all flights to Israel for the next 24 hours following reports of a Palestinian rocket strike landing close to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. And yesterday, the US Department of State warned Americans against traveling to Israel and the Gaza Strip. Read More »