The next phase of Mark Burnett‘s The Bible-will-conquer-the-world plan is 20th Century Fox‘s feature-length film cut of the 10-part History Channel miniseries. The studio acquired rights to Son Of God in September and will release it February 28, 2014. At the Produced By Conference in June, Burnett said: “Just on the scripted side, I could spend the next 10 years just distributing the Bible series and the movie. I believe that in the next 15 years more people on the planet will have seen our Bible series that haven’t seen it.” Fox, which also has home video rights to The Bible, certainly hopes so. Here’s the first trailer — featuring new footage — that dropped this week:
Fox is out with a new trailer for the Ben Stiller-directed The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, and who wouldn’t have wanted to be a fly on the wall when the studio reached out to Warner Bros for permission to use its signature iconic Life Magazine? I’m told it came down to a couple of phone calls directly from the amiable Fox film chief Jim Gianopulos, as the magazine division was under the same roof when rights cleared. It sounds like Warner Bros was much more accommodating to its fellow major studio than it was to The Weinstein Company when the latter tried to release The Butler and was halted in its tracks because Warner Bros protected its stake in an equally defunct property, the black-and-white, silent short film from 1916. Now even though Fox sued Warner Bros and won a big settlement over a rights dispute on Watchmen, they still managed to come together here to give Stiller a nostalgic context for the redo of the daydreaming wannabe hero. Here’s the newest Mitty trailer:
I think The Butler brawl had a lot to do with the Warner Bros lawyers being sore about having to pay Weinstein that 5% first-dollar gross on two more installments of The Hobbit, after giving him the same extravagant payday on all three The Lord Of The Rings installments. But maybe I’m daydreaming and the studio really needed to protect its 1916 gem. Harvey was never going to give away those gross points, and it turned out that Warner Bros lawyers did him a favor.
Paul Feig Hatches ‘The Heat’ Spinoff, Focusing On Jamie Denbo And Jessica Chaffin’s Characters From Melissa McCarthy-Sandra Bullock Comedy
EXCLUSIVE: The Heat team of Fox, Chernin Entertainment and Paul Feig are developing a spinoff of last summer’s hit, creating a comic vehicle that will focus on the characters played by Jamie Denbo and Jessica Chaffin. That Feig-directed and Katie Dippold-scripted film, which starred Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock, grossed $230 million worldwide.
Denbo and Chaffin played Beth and Gina, who were part of McCarthy’s cop character’s extended family. That’s the clan that sat around a kitchen table and grilled Bullock’s character on subjects including whether she was a man and if so how was she able to get such a close shave, or whether she was a narc (they pronounced it nahhc, in that truly charming/excruciating Beantown parlance). Tricia McAlpin is writing the script. Feigco’s Feig and Jessie Henderson are producing with Chernin Entertainment. They are all working out the storyline, and sparked to the potential of a vehicle for the comic duo. This by no means precludes the possibility of a sequel to The Heat, which was successful and funny enough to justify an encore.
James Cameron has won a string of Avatar legal battles recently but it looks like The Trademark Trial and Appeals Board isn’t going to be one of them. Already turned down once, 20th Century Fox was again refused its request to register the “Pandorapedia” name as a trademark on a planned Avatar-related clothing line of tagged T-shirts, PJs and more. The TTAB denied the studio’s appeal on the trademark earlier this month, saying it was too close to the trademark already used by Pandora Sportswear Corp. “We find that the marks PANDORA and PANDORAPEDIA are similar and thus…favors a finding of likelihood of confusion,” said the TTAB in its 8-page opinion (read it here). The opinion was sent out to Fox on November 8.
EXCLUSIVE: It took a week from when we first broke news that Tony Sella was heading for the exits at Fox, but the move has just been made official. Studio chief Jim Gianopulos just issued …
UPDATE, 10:36 AM: Sony and 20th Century Fox have found their February date: Monuments Men will be released February 7, 2014, we’ve learned. That date jibes what with George Clooney told us exclusively yesterday. It also means MGM and Sony’s RoboCop will move five days to open on Wednesday, February 12, ahead of the four-day President’s Day weekend that this year includes Valentine’s Day on that Friday. As part of the release plan rethink, Sony also is moving Sony and Annapurna Pictures’ American Hustle up a week — the film will now open wide December 18 after opening in limited release December 13.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, WEDNESDAY AM: Last night, Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox moved the George Clooney-directed Monuments Men from December 18 to early next year. It took less than an hour for Internet wonks to look for signs of trouble, even though Clooney said he simply couldn’t complete the visual effects and music in time to make the date. Rather than watch a repeat of what his pal Brad Pitt went through when people were inscribing World War Z headstones before anybody saw that film, Clooney asked for the opportunity to explain on Deadline. Who says no to George Clooney?
He was troubled enough to call from the Abbey Road Studios in London after reading a ridiculous “exclusive” Sharon Waxman splash on TheWrap that claimed Clooney had confided that his struggles were over tone. “I was talking awhile ago about Gravity, she says, ‘How’s it going on Monuments Men‘ and I say, ‘It’s a tricky tone,’ and she writes this piece that the movie is in trouble over tone. She doesn’t call me, and it’s absolutely ridiculous and false.”
What it sounds like to me is the same situation that Martin Scorsese went through with Paramount when they could not get Shutter Island ready before year end and moved the film to a February 19, 2010, berth. It too moved out of the Oscar corridor, but like Monuments Men, it wasn’t viewed by the studio as an Oscar entry as much as for being a crowd-pleasing potential blockbuster. All alone in the marketplace, Shutter Island grossed $128 million domestic and $295 million worldwide.
“The straight-up facts are these,” Clooney told me. “We had a really good test last week, scoring in the mid 80s, in Arizona. And when we were on the plane coming back with Jeff Blake, Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton, they said look, let’s be honest. There are lots better times to bring this movie out than December 18. How about November 22? Can you do it? Now, today is our first day at the scoring stages at Abbey Road. Then they call and ask, how about the 15th of November? We like to pull stuff off, and we said, let’s see what we can do. That was two days ago.”
Clooney then consulted the guys who are providing the effects, and got a dose of reality. “We had a meeting with all the effects guys for our CGI stuff, and, we’re just not going to get there in time,” he said. “Then we looked at the date we had, December 18. I don’t know how many movies are opening, but it’s got to be the toughest December in recent memory for box office. We said, where’s another good place to land? And we looked at February and the Shutter Island slot.”
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘The Monuments Men’
EXCLUSIVE: While Paul Feig made his first-look producing deal at Fox primarily to generate R-rated comedies like The Heat, that doesn’t mean he can’t work clean and for a family crowd. Feig has just been set to produce and oversee 20th Century Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios’ Peanuts animated feature based on the late Charles Schulz’s iconic comic strip creation.
Fox has set a November 6, 2015, release date for the film that is being directed by Steve Martino, whose credits include Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who! and Ice Age: Continental Drift. The script was written by Craig Schulz and the writing team of Bryan Schulz & Cornelius Uliano. Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz, and Uliano are producing with Feig. It’s the first animated feature for Feig, who started with the cult fave series Freaks And Geeks and has really hit his stride directing Bridesmaids and The Heat and next will helm for Fox Susan Cooper, the spy comedy that will star Melissa McCarthy and likely Jason Statham. The Peanuts gig is the realization of a dream for Feig.
Fox, Chernin Acquire ‘The Bone Season’ From Andy Serkis As Studio Hails Its Caesar With First-Look Deal
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has teamed with Chernin Entertainment to acquire The Bone Season, the first of a seven-installment sci-fi novel series by Samantha Shannon. The deal was made with Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish’s The Imaginarium, which controlled the rights and will produce with Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping.
At the same time, Fox has made a first-look producing deal with The Imaginarium. This comes after Serkis reprised his role as Caesar in the Matt Reeves-directed Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, the second installment of what has become one of Fox’s most important film franchises. Chernin Entertainment produces that series.
The Bone Season takes place in a futuristic London society, where a 19-year-old girl works in the criminal underworld. She is a dreamwalker, a rare clairvoyant who can break into people’s minds and see what they are thinking. She is kidnapped and whisked away to Oxford, an otherworldly place where dreamwalkers are used as soldiers and where she is held captive by a warden with mysterious motives. The intention is for her to remain incarcerated her whole life, but she tries to find a way into her captor’s mind. Serkis won’t act in it or direct it, and he and Cavendish optioned it early at a book fair, and helped the young author move it along.
EXCLUSIVE: Jason Statham has been working up a storm in serious films, but he’s taking time to go back to the comic roots that launched his career with Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. I’m told that …
BREAKING: 20th Century Fox Film has restructured its marketing operations into a worldwide unit, promoting Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus to co-Presidents of Worldwide Theatrical Marketing & Distribution. Under the new structure, both the domestic and international marketing and distribution teams will report to Jegeus and Hanneman. They begin their new roles immediately. This comes after Fox let Oren Aviv go as marketing chief. According to the studio, the move was made to embrace the idea of film as a global game and create cohesion between domestic and offshore campaigns.
There is no mention here of whether Fox is done making moves, and rumors continue to race that the studio could be the next landing place for Jeff Robinov, who left Warner Bros recently. Some say he won’t land until January, and I’ve heard there is question of whether he would report to Jim Gianopulos, the well-regarded Fox Film chairman/CEO who has been running the studio solo since the exit of Tom Rothman and likely doesn’t want another partnrr. Robinov went out on a good note with Man Of Steel, and looks better than ever given the success of his passion project Gravity from Alfonso Cuaron, which has turned out to be the sleeper hit of the fall. But his exit was considered contentious, and I’ve heard it has colored opinions at Fox. I’ve heard Rupert Murdoch is determined to get him—even if it is as a producer with money behind him–but all of this continues to be loose talk, until it isn’t.
As for the marketing restructure, Gianopulos said: “Our industry is more global than ever before. Paul and Tomas have proven success in the global arena, having run the industry’s most successful international operations, and coupled with our excellent domestic team, they will reshape our worldwide marketing and distribution strategies for the future.” Both will report to Gianopulos.
Fox also confirmed the exit of Aviv as Chief Marketing Officer for the domestic division. The studio indicated Aviv will announce his next move shortly.