The latest tale of thievery to surface here in Cannes after last week’s $1M jewelry heist, involves China Film Group vice-president Zhang Qiang whose luggage was reportedly stolen from his hotel room. The incident caused him to cancel his participation in a press conference scheduled for tomorrow for Keanu Reeves’ directorial effort Man Of Tai Chi. I’m told the Man Of Tai Chi press conference will still be held with Reeves and producer Lemore Syvan in attendance, but that Zhang will not be there. The movie is a co-production between China Film Group, Wanda Media, Village Road Show Pictures, Universal Pictures and Company Films.
UPDATE, 1:27 PM: Yahoo‘s spin machine will be hard at work today and tomorrow trying to persuade investors that CEO Marissa Mayer isn’t wildly overpaying for Tumblr. Although the social media service has become red hot — it averages about 75.8M posts a day — it generated just $12M in revenue last year and hopes for $100M this year, Forbes says. CEO David Karp began to sell ads for the site just a year ago. Yahoo has more than enough cash to make the deal. Still, Mayer could use Wall Street’s support for the biggest acquisition that she has made since taking charge in July. Her company’s shares have appreciated about 33% so far this year because Yahoo’s investments in Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba and Yahoo Japan have been doing so well. Sales of display ads, which have been key for Yahoo, continued to disappoint in Q1. Tumblr, whose average user is under 25, could help Yahoo make more connections with young Web users. But it also could complicate Yahoo’s sales message due to Tumblr’s comparatively lax views about hosting porn, BusinessWeek notes.
The talk about Tumblr could eclipse some additional news Yahoo plans to make tomorrow: It has scheduled a press conference to unveil updates to its Flickr photo-sharing service, Bloomberg reports.
UPDATE 10:55 AM: Yahoo board has greenlighted buying the social network in a billion-dollar-plus deal that could be announced as early as tomorrow
It only has 3 of the top international markets in release. And it doesn’t open in North American until May 24th. But Twentieth Century Fox’s Blue Sky Studios toon Epic launched with almost no fanfare overseas to $14.5M from 4,674 screens in 16 markets. Mexico ($3.5M from 1,416), Brazil ($2.5M from 616), and Germany ($2.3M from 957) were the leaders with 20 additional international markets opening next Memorial Weekend alongside the U.S. The storyline bears great resemblance to Fox’s juggernaut Avatar and little to Blue Sky’s previous blockbuster franchise Ice Age. “This is an excellent launch in a competitive window,” a Fox exec told me. Epic was #1 in 8 markets, and #2 in 5 markets, because of what has been a long, long draught for family fare in the worldwide market. The last toon in theaters was DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods also distributed by Fox which is playing in 38 markets and whose international cume to date of $375.8M is the 19th highest grossing animated film of all time overseas. Worldwide cume is $552.2M.
Sony Pictures Classics has landed U.S. rights at Cannes to The Past (Le Passe), Iranian helmer Asghar Farhadi’s ambitious drama starring Oscar nominee Berenice Bejo (The Artist), Ali Mosaffa and Tahar Rahim. The film is an early contender for the Palme d’Or, with reaction and reviews very strong after it screened Friday in competition. (Watch the trailer here.) The Memento Films production’s twisting plot involves secrets, lies, deceit, divorce, affairs, comas, pregnancy and other traumatic situations. Bejo stepped into the lead role after Oscar winner Marion Cotillard had to exit due to a scheduling conflict. Paris-based Memento Films International is handling worldwide sales. Michael Barker and Tom Bernard’s SPC also handled Farhadi’s A Separation, which grossed $19.9M worldwide and won the foreign-language film Oscar last year.
SUNDAY UPDATE: Summer 2013 just keeps sizzling here and abroad. The sixth installment of the Universal Pictures franchise is looking to successfully transition from street racing to heist action to terrorist plot and kicked off this weekend in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Fast & Furious 6 is opposite Warner Bros’ The Great Gatsby (including Thursday previews) and the second week of Paramount’s Star Trek In Darkness. But F&F6 is set in London and had its world premiere there. It scored a record breaking #1 opening and grossed $13.8M (£9M) at 460 dates for Universal’s biggest 3-day opening weekend in that territory. (Smashing the previous record set by Les Miserables of $13.1M). It is the franchise’s biggest opening weekend in the UK as well as the highest opening weekend for Vin Diesel and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. F&F6 is now the 2nd biggest opening weekend of 2013 there behind IM3‘s $17.6M. F&F6 opens in North America and 59 international markets day and date on May 24th. Universal did what no studio has ever dared to do: change the genre of a successful franchise. But chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chairman Donna Langley put Chris Morgan – the screenwriter of Fast Five as well as The Fast And The Furious 3: Tokyo Drift, and Fast & Furious 4 — on the latest script to freshen the franchise yet again. Johnson is back as a federal agent alongside Diesel, Paul Walker and of course director Justin Lin (behind the camera for the 4th time) and longtime producer Neal Moritz. It also stars Jordana Brewster, …
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
IFC Films‘ Frances Ha had the last laugh this weekend, opening solid in a pair of theaters each in New York and Los Angeles. The critically well-received feature directed by Noah Baumbach and starring Greta Gerwig grossed $134K, averaging $33,500. It came fairly close to his last feature, Greenberg, which averaged $39,384 when it opened in March 2010 in three locations. But that film, which also starred Gerwig, also included Ben Stiller, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Juno Temple. Frances Ha inched out Baumbach’s acclaimed 2005 Best Screenplay Oscar-nominated The Squid And The Whale in terms of first weekend PSA. That film opened in four runs, averaging $32,461. Frances Ha‘s fellow newcomers, however did not fare nearly as well.
‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ $164.5M Global: Lower Domestic But +80% Bigger Overseas; ‘Gatsby’ $132.1M Global, ‘Iron Man 3′ $1B
SUNDAY 9 AM, 7TH & 8TH UPDATE (WRITETHRU): The iconic space tentpole grossed a lot of money worldwide as May continues to sizzle for Summer 2013. But came nowhere near the $80M weekend and $100M total predicted. Star Trek Into Darkness from Paramount Pictures, Skydance Productions, and director J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot opened with $2M Wednesday from IMAX late shows, $11.5M Thursday, $22M Friday, $27.2M Saturday (for a +25% bump), and an estimated $21.2M Sunday. So that’s a $70.5M weekend from 3,868 theaters and an $84M domestic cume. Exit polling shows that the audience was 64% male/36% female with 27% under age 25/73% age 25 and over. Despite the passage of 4 years and the addition of 3D and IMAX for ticket premiums, 4 1/2 days of Star Trek Into Darkness barely beat 2009′s Star Trek 3-day weekend opening. Rightly or wrongly, fanboys (who are notoriously hard to please) saw the sequel as a ripoff of 1982′s The Wrath Of Khan. I felt the problem was that the latest pic’s marketing assumed people had seen the first installment and therefore didn’t target newbies. The iconic space tentpole in 3D received a coveted “A” CinemaScore to help word of mouth and 87% positive Rotten Tomatoes score setting it up for a strong weekend. The budget was a costly $190M, but the studio was predicting a 3-day weekend domestic estimate of $80M and 4-day estimate of $100M. Abrams’ first grossed $257.7M in North America but only $128M overseas where the franchise has long underperformed. STID was expected to easily beat the North American take so Abrams filmed 30 minutes using high-resolution cameras to increase the IMAX grosses which comprised 16% of domestic. To expand international, Paramount dispatched Abrams’ Bad Robot partner Bryan Burk to share 20 minutes of footage with media and distributors abroad earlier this year. It helped: international told a stronger story. Since sequels usually play well overseas, the total is $80.5 from 40 markets through Sunday, or +80% from the prior film. For comparison, STID is running +33% on a global basis compared to the 2009 reboot. Worldwide total is $164.5M. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reprise their roles as Kirk and Spock with its ensemble USS Enterprise cast and Benedict Cumberbatch debuts as the movie’s mysterious baddie in this sequel to Abrams’ 2009 reboot of the franchise, which began as a 1960s TV series. Star Trek Into Darkness, based on Gene Roddenberry’s creation, was written by credited scripters Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman & Damon Lindelof, who also are producers along with the Bad Robot duo of Abrams and Burk.
1. Star Trek Into Darkness (Skydance/Paramount) Week 1 [3,868 Theaters]
Wed $2.0M, Thurs $11.5M, Fri $22.0M, Sat $27.2M, Est Sun $21.2M
Wkd $70.5M, Dom Cume $84.0M, Intl Cume $80.5M, WW Total $164.9M
2. Iron Man 3 (Marvel/Disney) Week 3 [Runs 4,237]
Friday $9.6M, Saturday $15.8M, Weekend $35.5M,
Dom Cume $337.1M, Intl Cume $736.2M, Worldwide Total $1.073.3B
On May 16, the film crossed the $1B benchmark at the global box office in 23 days and the $300M threshold at the domestic box office in 14 days. Iron Man 3 is now the #9 highest grossing film of all time globally and the #9 highest grossing film of all time internationally. This is the 2nd Marvel Studios film and the 6th Walt Disney Studios release to reach $1B globally, and the 9th Disney release to reach $300M domestic.
3. The Great Gatsby (Warner Bros) Week 2 [Runs 3,550]
Friday $7.6M, Saturday $9.5m, Weekend $23.6M (-53%)
Dom Cume $90.1M, Intl Cume $42.1M, Worldwide Total $132.2M
Baz Luhrmann’s biggest to date here and overseas looks to make $140M domestic all in. “Domestic box office results are excellent,” a Warner Bros exec gushed. “Counter-programming can succeed with great success in a summer of tentpole fanboy event films.” Coming off the heels of a gala opening night event at the Cannes Film Event, The Great Gatsby in 3D released in 49 territories overseas and grossed a big $42.1M (ith 4.6Madmissions from almost 8,400 screens). This was 38% higher than Luhrmann’s Australia in the same markets ($30.4M) and 3x higher than Moulin Rouge ($13.8M). This weekend’s rollout abroad represent 70% of the international box office; major markets yet to launch include Australia (May 30th), Mexico (May 31st), Brazil (June 7th), Japan (June 14th). This weekend’s results included some #1 placements despite stuff competition: Russia $6.2M (Rbl 194M), UK $6.1M (£4.0M), France $4.7M (€3.6M), Korea $4.3M (KRW 4.75B), Italy $3.8M (€2.9M), Germany $3.7M (€2.8M), Spain $2.2M (€1.7M), Taiwan $779K (NT$23.9M).
Also, Universal’s May 24th domestic opener Fast & Furious 6 kicked off its worldwide release in the UK and Ireland this weekend with a record breaking #1 opening. The film grossed $13.8M (£9M) at 460 dates scoring Universal’s biggest 3-day opening weekend in that territory (smashing the previous record set by Les Miserables of $13.1M). It is the biggest opening weekend in the UK for the franchise and the highest opening weekend for Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson. F&F6 is now the 2nd biggest opening weekend of 2013 there behind IM3‘s $17.6M.
EXCLUSIVE: Paris-based Backup Media has teamed up with Memento Films International to finance Cold In July, an adaptation of the Joe Lansdale cult novel that will be director Jim Mickle‘s next film. Mickle’s We Are What We Are is playing in Directors’ Fortnight section here at Cannes. Shooting on Cold In July begins in late July with an early 2014 delivery. Adapted by Nick Damici and Mickle, the film is being produced by Belladonna Productions’ Rene Bastian, Adam Folk, and Linda Moran — frequent Mickle collaborators.
The plot: Richard Dane shoots and kills an armed burglar in his living room. It’s a clear-cut case of self defense to everyone but the burglar’s father, who vows Old Testament-style eye-for-an-eye justice. Here, that means son for son. The cops, the feds, and the Dixie mafia all play a part in the ensuing mayhem. “It was important to us to find partners on the movie who would help us create an environment for Jim, where he would be protected and be able to excel as a filmmaker,” Linda Moran and Rene Bastian from Belladonna said. “We are very happy to have found the full support of the Backup/MFI team.”
Cannes: Before Action Starts On ‘Crouching Tiger 2,’ Harvey Weinstein Woos Donnie Yen And Yuen Wo Ping For ‘Seven Samurai’
Right after my Deadline Hollywood colleague Pete Hammond moderated a Weinstein Company panel this morning on Big Eyes, the film that Tim Burton will direct with Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams, I moderated another on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Destiny, a sequel to the 2000 film that won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and at the time became the biggest grossing foreign language film in America. I was joined onstage by producer David Thwaites, Harvey Weinstein, actor Donnie Yen, director and martial arts choreography legend Yuen Wo Ping (he handled action choreography of the Ang Lee-directed original Crouching Tiger). Also with us was exec producer Anthony Wong, who translated for the director. Michelle Yeoh was seen on a screen, after being set to reprise her role. Scripted by John Fusco, this film is derived from Iron Knight, Silver Vase, the fifth book in the Wang Dulu’s Crane Iron Pentalogy. Fusco borrowed from some of the other books, but made the final title his primary focus. Weinstein acknowledged he courted Yen very hard to make his first English language movie with TWC (this will be shot in both English and Mandarin), and wasted no time setting the stage for a followup. Noting that Martin Scorsese helped him get rights to Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, Weinstein …
EXCLUSIVE: Sundance Selects has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Two Days, One Night, which will be directed by two-time Palme d’Or-winning auteurs Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, and stars Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione and Olivier Gourmet. She signed on to star in February, and shooting will take place in Belgium this summer. Cotillard plays Sandra, a young woman who has only one weekend to convince her colleagues they must give up their bonuses in order for her to keep her job. Longtime Dardenne collaborator Rongione plays Cotillard’s husband. The film is a co-production between the Dardennes’ Les Films du Fleuve and Denis Freyd’s Archipel 35. Wild Bunch negotiated for filmmakers with Arianna Bocco at Sundance Selects/IFC Films.
Phase 4 Films acquired all U.S. and Canadian rights to writer-director Shana Betz’s feature directorial debut Free Ride. The film stars Anna Paquin, Cam Gigandet, Drea De Matteo, Liana Liberato, Jeff Hephner, Brit Morgan and Ava Acres. Scripted by Betz, the film is produced by Susan Dynner, Cerise Hallam Larkin, Chris Swinney and Paquin, and executive produced by Mark Larkin and Stephen Moyer. This is the first film production from Paquin and Moyer’s new production company CASM. Phase 4 will release the film later this year in theaters and on demand. Paquin and Moyer star together in HBO’s True Blood. Set in the 1970s and based on her life story, Betz’s accomplished directorial debut is a provocative crime thriller: Paquin plays a single mother who moves to Florida with her daughters in search of a better life but gets pulled into the high-stakes drug-trade business.
Wrekin Hill Entertainment acquired U.S. rights to Gabriele Salvatores’ Siberian Education. Based on the novel by Nicolai Lilin, with a screenplay by Sandro Petraglia, Stefano Rulli and Salvatores, the film stars John Malkovich, Arnas Feravicius, Vilius Tumalavicius, Eleanor Tomlinson, Peter Stormare, Jonas Trukanas and Vitalji Porsnev. Set in the ghetto of Soviet Russia, Siberian Education follows the path of two boys who are members of a gang of exiled Siberians. The best friends grow up together, mastering a unique education focused on illegal arts such as theft, banditry and weaponry. Their clan has its very own stringent code of honor, which, while criminal, sometimes actually coincides with what is generally considered ethical and moral. It is a code that must never be broken, no matter what. As the boys turn to men, everything they have come to know and learn is tested. The film’s produced by Catteya’s Riccardo Tozzi, Giovanni Satabilini, Marco Chimenz, and executive produced by Gina Gardini.
Cannes Briefs: Mongrel Acquires Canadian ‘La Grande Bellezza’; Cohen Books ‘Inventor And The Tycoon’; Zombie Western From ‘Iron Sky’ Producer; Glavkino Expansion
Paolo Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) won’t make its world premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival until Tuesday, but Mongrel Media has already stepped in to acquire all Canadian rights. The plan is for a fall 2013 release. The film — Sorrentino’s fifth competition on the Croisette — tells the story of an aging writer who who bitterly recollects his passionate lost youth against the backdrop of modern Rome. It stars Tony Servillo, who also starred in Sorrentino’s Il Divo, which Mongrel also released in Canada.
Cohen Media Group has acquired National Book Award winner The Inventor And The Tycoon, Edward Ball’s recently published book about the true story of photography and motion picture pioneer Edward Muybridge and wealthy industrialist and politician Leland Stanford. The acquisition was negotiated by Cohen chairman and CEO Charles S. Cohen and ICM agency, which reps Ball. The book focuses on a shocking incident: At the time of his work with Stanford that resulted in the creation of one of the first motion pictures, Muybridge killed a drama critic friend of his young wife after he discovered the man may have fathered their baby son. At his murder trial Muybridge refused to deny his actions and was acquitted on the grounds of “justifiable homicide.” Stanford arranged for his defense. “Edward Muybridge’s great accomplishments are well known, but his life story has faded over time”, Cohen said. “Edward Ball’s remarkable book brings Muybridge and all his uniqueness back to life, and we are thrilled to be able to bring his story to the screen.”
Antonio Banderas will play Mario Sepulveda, aka Super Mario, in The 33, the feature version of the saga of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days in 2010. Martin Sheen and Rodrigo Santoro are also joining the ensemble. Mike Medavoy secured the miners’ exclusive life rights last year and developed the project in collaboration with the men, their rescuers and their families. Patricia Riggen (La Misma Luna) will direct with production scheduled to begin in the fall. Good Universe is handling international sales. Medavoy and Edward McGurn are producing with Carlos Eugenio Lavin and Leopoldo Enriquez exec producing.
In a multi-territory deal, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisition has acquired Germany, Austria, German-speaking Switzerland, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and Latin America on Focus‘ Jude Law-starrer Black Sea. Kevin Macdonald is directing the film about a submarine captain on a risky hunt for sunken treasure. FFI also sealed a deal with BackUp Media which invested against rights in France, Benelux and French-speaking Switzerland. Other territories sold include Australia and New Zealand (eOne), China, CIS, Israel and South Africa.
Senna helmer Asif Kapadia will direct Ali And Nino for UK producer PeaPie Films. IM Global is handling worldwide sales with production set for early 2014. Atonement scribe Christopher Hampton adapted the epic WWI love story that’s set in Azerbaijan where Ali Khan Shirvanshir, the male descendant of a royal Muslim family, falls in love with Nino Kipiani, a beautiful, Christian, Georgian princess. It’s based on the novel by Kurban Said that was published in 1937. PeaPie’s Kris Thykier (Kick-Ass, One Chance) is producing. Lelya Aliyeva is executive producer. Kapadia works across documentaries and fiction. His 2001 film The Warrior won the BAFTA for Best British Film. He’s an exec producer on Cannes official selection title Monsoon Shootout and is also due to direct an as-yet untitled Amy Winehouse documentary.
SNL‘s season finale also marked the final show for cast standout Bill Hader, who reprised his beloved character Stefon on “Weekend Update”. But with Seth Meyers also departing this year for late-night hosting duties, the segment morphed into a filmed Graduate-style gay marriage bit with a few special guests: