SANTA MONICA, Calif. and VANCOUVER, BC, March 11, 2014 — Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), a leading global entertainment company, announced today that the global blockbuster Hunger Games franchise continued to gain momentum as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire sold an estimated 3.9 million DVD and Blu-ray units in its first weekend of North American release and had the biggest digital launch in the Company’s history with opening weekend digital sales increasing nearly 40% over the first Hunger Games film.
A little more than a month after FNC’s Bill O’Reilly landed his contentious pre-Super Bowl sit-down with President Obama, Zach Galifianakis scored an interview with the president on his Funny or Die show, Between Two Ferns. In the interview, which was taped a couple weeks ago, the two men discussed why a third term would be as bad an idea as that third Hangover movie, Obama’s birth certificate, Obamacare, and the rash growing on Galifianakis’s arm. “That’ disgusting — how long have you had that? That’s one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen,” Obama said.
The 21st Century Fox COO acknowledges that with disappointments including the failure of The X Factor the “results are not what we want.” Still, Chase Carey told the Deutsche Bank Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference this morning that he likes the momentum in program development pointing to shows including 24, Hieroglyph, and Gracepoint “We have to execute in finding the shows. But I feel pretty good.” While Fox steadies itself, revenues from retransmission consent deals with pay TV distributors “will be an underpinning for profitability for the broadcast business, and that’s a stream that’s growing.” The company also expects increases in the rates cable and satellite companies pay for its pay TV channels. “We’re still not getting fair value, but you can’t get there in one fell swoop.” He adds that Fox execs “like this ecosystem….We know there’s a lot of upside left.” And with additional opportunities to sell programming to online services “the wind is at content’s back…it’s in the sweet spot today and digitization will keep it in the sweet spot.”
On other matters in the news: Carey says Fox is still figuring out how to deal with companies including Dish Network, Sony and Verizon that are angling to offer pay TV channels via the Web. “It’s early stages. I don’t know if it’s 2014, but it’s short term” before a service launches. Fox plans to “be disciplined about it and thoughtful … Read More »
“With the addition of the NFL on Thursday night our schedule is pretty darn tight,” the CBS chief told the Deutsche Bank Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference this morning. Les Moonves says he’s considering 18 pilots this year, including spinoffs of NCIS and CSI, vs about 22 last year. And “you only need 4 winners” so “you’d better be damn good or you’re not going to get on.” He acknowledged that his network’s Monday night shows have been “slightly disappointing…NBC did well with The Voice.” As a result, people should “not be surprised to see Big Bang Theory on Monday nights” in the first six weeks of the season — overlapping the eight week period when CBS will have NFL games on Thursday nights — as well as “a returning successful show or a new show” at 10:00.
On other matters: Moonves says that he’d consider turning CBS into an Internet service if the U.S. Supreme Court sides with Aereo in broadcasters’ case that charges the streaming service with infringing on their copyrights. “If Aereo should win, we could go over-the-top with CBS….We will come up with some other way to offer our content and get paid for it.” But the CEO likes the status quo, including in pay TV with its bundled channels and requirement for Showtime customers to also subscribe to expanded basic services. “There are opportunities for a la carte (pricing) but we’ve avoided them. … Read More »
6th UPDATE, MONDAY 9:09 PM PT: Updated numbers for Best Picture Oscar winner 12 Years a Slave and Pompeii have been added below. 12 Years a Slave‘s cume internationally is now $104.5M and its worldwide total stands at $157.6M.
5TH UPDATE, MONDAY 12:20 PM PT: Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures’ 300: Rise Of An Empire is now tracking up 11% over the original 300 internationally. Revised numbers have just come in from Warner which says the movie took $88.8M in 58 markets. Some of the major territories were slightly down, but the overall cume was up. The Lego Movie was slightly lower than predicted at $9.6M on 5,585 screens, however the overall overseas cume is $135.4M, a small bolt off the originally estimated $135.6M. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug added a confirmed $7.5M internationally — down from the estimated $8M — and with $679.7M total; again, a breath away from the previously reported cume of $680M. As ever, numbers are updated in the territory sections below, with more to come as they roll in. Read More »
Arrow Films has acquired UK rights to God’s Pocket starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Sold by Electric Entertainment, the film is the feature directorial debut of Mad Men’s John Slattery. Electric acquired it at Sundance. IFC has U.S. distribution and Arrow will release later this year in Britain. Richard Jenkins, Christina Hendricks, John Turturro and Caleb Landry Jones also star in the film written by Slattery and Alex Metcalf. Based on the Pete Dexter novel, the movie follows a man who tries to cover up the accidental death of his stepson in a blue collar neighborhood in South Philadelphia. Arrow’s recent titles include Love Is All You Need, The Hunt and A Hijacking. Read More »
Mary Elizabeth Winstead has been spoken for. One of the most hotly pursued actresses this pilot season has been tapped as the lead of ABC‘s drama pilot Exposed, from writer Charles Randolph, Peter Traugott’s TBD Entertainment, Sweden-based Yellow Bird Entertainment and Universal TV. Based on the best-selling Swedish novels by Liza Marklund, Exposed centers on Anna (Winstead), an investigative journalist who will stop at nothing to uncover the truth, including making questionable alliances. Winstead turned down some half-dozen pilot offers this season before settling on Exposed. The actress, repped by WME and Anonymous Content, has been straddling the indie and mainstream feature worlds with roles in indies like the 2012 Smashed, which landed her an Indie Spirit nomination, and in such big-budget movies as A Good Day To Die Hard and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Nico Santos has joined the cast of the Kevin James sequel Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. He will play Brian, the sassy receptionist at a Las Vegas hotel. Santos is a frequent panelist on Chelsea Lately and a regular on Night Crew. He recently signed a talent holding deal with CBS after the network’s Diversity Showcase in January. He is repped by Greene & Associates, manager Bernie Spektor and attorney Gregg Gelman
Adam Pally and Rosa Salazar have been tapped to star in Night Owls, an indie dramedy from director Charles Hood. Pally plays as a workaholic who has a drunken one-night stand with a beautiful train wreck (Salazar) — who he discovers to his horror is his boss’ jilted ex-mistress. Pally is a regular on The Mindy Project and starred on Happy Endings. He appears in the upcoming feature comedy Search Party, as does Salazar, whose credits include Parenthood and American Horror Story. He is repped by CAA and 3 Arts; she is with Paradigm and Seven Summits Management.
CBS News investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson resigned Monday after months of ill-concealed unhappiness with the network. It was the denouement of a drama that’s been played out among The Reporters Who Cover Television for some time, with Attkisson as the heroine. But while conservatives cast her as the gutsy reporter who stood up to her network’s liberal bias and its deep-sixing of her work on Benghazi and other Obama administration evasions and departs after acrimonious contract talks fell apart, liberals cast her as the mainstream investigative journalist who fell down the agenda-driven reporting rabbit hole. Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich CC’d her network when she retweeted Attkisson’s “I have resigned from CBS,” while New York magazine headlined, “The Right’s Favorite Mainstream Benghazi Reporter Resigns From CBS.” Yeah, it went like that pretty much all day.
Bart-weary and rather randy fourth-grade teacher Edna Krabappel made her debut during the first season of The Simpsons nearly a quarter-century ago. Last night, the character and actress behind her were given a final farewell. Marcia Wallace, who died in October, voiced Edna in more than 175 episodes of the venerable toon and won an Emmy for it. In Sunday night’s second of two original episodes, the educator’s widow, Ned Flanders — complete with black armband — reminisced about a night dancing with her. And neighborhood bully Nelson Muntz, something of a closet softie, chimed in as well. Here’s the scene, which aired as an epilogue:
The veteran publicist who worked with such luminaries as Bob Hope, Cary Grant and Michael Jackson has died. John Blanchette, who also guided Zsa Zsa Gabor’s career for more than three decades, was 68. He died March 4 at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica after a brief battle with leukemia, the Santa Monica Mirrorreported. He was the owner and president of Blanchette & Associates Public Relations. He worked on promotions for projects including Best Picture Oscar winner Argo, Emmy winner Behind The Candelabra, Il Postino and L.A. Confidential and his list of clients also had included Debbie Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Delta Burke and Valerie Harper. Before starting his own company, the native of Sudbury, MA, worked in publicity at Fox TV, KCBS Los Angeles and New World Pictures. Since the late 1990s, also wrote syndicates features on travel, wine, and food and was co-producing a TV special on Napa Valley.
EXCLUSIVE: Boutique agency Verve has signed German writer-director Bora Dagtekin, whose hit comedy feature F*ck You Shakespeer (Fack Ju Gohte) has been burning up the German box office since its debut last fall. Elyas M’Barek (The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones) stars as a bank robber who disguises himself as a substitute teacher to recover stolen money buried beneath a newly constructed high school. The raunchy, politically incorrect comedy produced by Rat Pack Filmproduktion and distributed by Constantin Films has grossed over $72.7M US to date in Germany and earned Dagtekin comparisons to The Hangover‘s Todd Phillips. Dagtekin’s previous hits in Germany include the acclaimed 2006 comedy series Turkish For Beginners (Türkisch für Anfänger), which ran for three seasons and nabbed awards including an International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences nomination. F*ck You Shakespeer lead M’Barek also starred on that show as well as its hit 2012 film adaptation, which Dagtekin scripted and co-wrote. Verve is in Austin showing F*ck You Shakespeer around this week at SXSW. Check out the NSFW trailer: Read More »
Nick Jandl (Green Lantern) and Cameron Scoggins (The Happy Sad) have signed on to CBS’ untitled David Marshall Grant drama pilot, from CBS TV Studios and Timberman-Beverly. The soapy medical show, based on an Israeli format, revolves around quadruplets – three brothers and a sister – who grew up on a reality show. Jandl, repped by Greater Vision Artists, will play Jonathan, the oldest of the quadruplets who’s fresh out of his residency and new to Easton Hospital, an eminent institution headed by his mother (Jamie Lee Curtis). Scoggins, repped by Gersh and Perennial Entertainment, will play Michael, another one of the quadruplets who runs an inner-city clinic. Read More »
Tuesday’s debut of the much-anticipated video game Titanfall likely will be a pivotal early moment for Microsoft’s newest console, the Xbox One, which has struggled to keep up with Sony’s cheaper PlayStation 4 since both launched in November. Almost four months in, Sony has sold 6 million PS4s, compared to 4 million Xbox Ones. With the Xbox One costing $100 more than the PS4, and with few other distinctive titles, Microsoft is hoping a successful Titanfall launch will keep it in the game.
Distributed by Electronic Arts, Titanfall is a rip-roaring online-only take on standard tropes of science fiction and first-person shooters, from creators of the Call of Duty franchise. It initially will be exclusive to the Xbox One, then also be launched for Windows-based PCs and Microsoft’s older Xbox 360 console. It is not scheduled to be available on Sony consoles, an unusual move by a big third-party publisher such as EA that normally wants to make its games as widely available as possible.
This has been an ongoing back-and-forth process over the last several years, with the broadcast networks at different times opting to fold current programming into their drama and comedy departments or re-establish standalone current operations. Fox now is doing the former, promoting head of drama Terence Carter and head of comedy Suzanna Makkos to EVPs, with both adding oversight of respective current series to their development duties. Under the previous structure, Carter and Makkos ran drama/comedy development and then paired up with their current programming counterparts to shepherd their newly picked-up series for the first season. Both will report to Fox COO Joe Earley. In their previous roles, Carter and Makkos had reported to Fox Chairman Kevin Reilly, while current programming had reported to Earley. Earley now is taking over more day-to-day responsibilities at the network, with Reilly pulling away from those to focus on big-picture issues, like the network’s new pilot model.
As part of the restructuring on the comedy side, Lauren Levy Neustadter has been promoted to SVP, and Samata Narra has been a VP for the past several months, both serving as Makkos’ senior lieutenants. On the drama side, … Read More »
“It’s official. Cheryl is back,” Simon Cowell tweeted today, of former TheX Factor UK judge Cheryl Cole. She’s returning in the same capacity for the 11th iteration of the singing competition series in that country. Cole famously left that show — after a successful run in which she mentored the eventual winner two of the three seasons she was on the panel — to come to the U.S. and be a judge/mentor on the doomed American version, only to get pulled after two audition rounds of the first season. That was the first inkling U.S. viewers got of the revolving door that would be the American TheX Factor judge/mentor panel. At that time, there was much speculation that her Newcastle accent had done her in, which Fox reality TV guru Mike Darnell denied. Nicole Scherzinger, who originally had been signed to co-host with Steve Jones, was named to replace Cole. She lasted only one season as judge/mentor; ditto Paula Abdul. Cowell himself is returning to the mothership, after his show struggled through three so-so seasons in the U.S. and was canceled last month. It will be his first season back on the flagship The X Factor, which has suffered a ratings decline. Last month, Cowell said, “I’m absolutely thrilled to be returning to The X Factor UK. … It’s been three years since I last judged the … Read More »
Adult Swim is looking to stir a debate with a series order to Black Jesus, a half-hour live-action scripted comedy from The Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder. The show stars newcomer Gerald “Slink” Johnson (Grand Theft Auto V) as Jesus living in present-day Compton, CA on a daily mission to spread love and kindness throughout the neighborhood with the help of his small but loyal group of downtrodden followers. The series pickup for Black Jesus comes on the heels of the Jesus race controversy triggered by Fox News star Megyn Kelley’s recent “Jesus is white” comments.
Black Jesus co-stars Charlie Murphy (Are We There Yet), Corey Holcomb (The Cleveland Show), and John Witherspoon (The Boondocks). Production on the new series has begun in Los Angeles for a premiere later this year. Possibly because of its subject matter, the network had kept the project pretty quiet. Its May 2013 upfront slate included a live-action pilot by McGruder but no premise was announced. McGruder, who created the series, will serve as executive producer through his 5 Mutts Prods. along with writer-director Mike Clattenberg (Trailer Park Boys) and LEG’s Norman Aladjem and John Bravakis. Johnson previously guest starred in an episode of McGruder’s Adult Swim animated comedy Boondocks.
Production and management outfit Anonymous Content has appointed Dave Fierson as Head of Business Operations. He most recently was head of the business and legal affairs department at Alcon Entertainment and before that was a senior counsel at Sony’s Screen Gems and an attorney in Paramount’s network TV production division. Anonymous Content CEO Steve Golin made the announcement today.
Lionsgate has come on to develop Epic Fail, a comedy from producer Nicky Weinstock and Ed Helms, who co-developed the original idea. Helms is now attached to star in the pic, which centers on an elite but unorthodox Special Forces team that takes their dysfunction and excessive firepower on a desperate mission to save America — led by the only soldier more badass and more mustachioed than a Navy SEAL: The Walrus.
Mike Arnold and Chris Poole will pen the screenplay. The duo has several scripts in development including the Black List script The Grackle. Weinstock is producing via his Invention Films banner along with Helms and Michael Falbo’s Pacific Electric Picture Company shingle. Invention’s Whitney Thomas will executive produce. Lionsgate’s Erik Feig, Matthew Janzen and James Myers will oversee for the studio.
Helms, Arnold and Poole are repped by CAA and Principato Young.