Fox is pulling out all the stops for the global launch of X-Men: Days Of Future Past, with stars Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy stepping up to bat for a week’s worldwide premiere tour billed as …
WonderCon: 20th Century Fox Executes Bryan Singer PR Control During ‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’ Panel
While fans were allowed to ask questions to the string of talent from Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, The Maze Runner and DreamWorks’ How To Train Your Dragon 2 at 20th Century Fox’s WonderCon panel, the one creative talent not fielding questions from the crowd was X-Men: Days Of Future Past writer and producer Simon Kinberg. While a “no questions” policy wasn’t blatantly announced, Fox gracefully saved its X-Men presentation for the final portion of its nearly two-hour panel. And it was brief next to the half-hour-plus devoted to Planet Of The Apes. Kinberg stepped in at the last minute after the studio pulled Bryan Singer in the wake of the director being slammed with a sexual abuse civil lawsuit. Kinberg promised the crowd that he had footage that was never seen before, but that wasn’t the case: He showed the same clip that was on the MTV Movie Awards last weekend with the young X-Men including Kitty Pryde, Colossus and Iceman fighting a rather large latex figure who absorbs their powers. When Singer’s name appeared onscreen in the trailer that was shown at WonderCon today, the crowd was unfazed.
EXCLUSIVE: In the wake of shocking allegations of sexual abuse against Bryan Singer that surfaced five weeks before the launch of the new X-Men film, Singer has cancelled a scheduled appearance at this weekend’s WonderCon in Anaheim, Deadline hears. Fox instead will send Simon Kinberg as the studio prepares to launch the Singer-directed blockbuster X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Kinberg wrote and produced the film and has been a part of the X-Men universe since the beginning.
Singer had been scheduled to be on hand to do interviews for the film that Fox opens May 23. It seems fairly obvious that right now he’s not going to get the kind of questions that will help the movie, or that he could answer. Singer had been scheduled to represent X-Men among a bunch of big Fox movies vamping this weekend, appearing along with Andy Serkis, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman and director Matt Reeves from Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes; Jay Baruchel and writer-director Dean DeBlois from How To Train Your Dragon 2; and Dylan O’Brien, writer James Dashner and director Wes Ball from The Maze Runner.
EXCLUSIVE: Fox has closed a deal for Men Who Kill, a pitch by T.J. Fixman that will be developed as a star vehicle for fast-rising Michael B. Jordan. The tone of the film is an international Bad Boys and it gives the studio another project with Jordan, who comes off his breakout role in Fruitvale Station and heads into the Fantastic Four reboot after previously starring in the Fox sleeper Chronicle.
After starring as a teen in the iconic TV series The Wire and Friday Night Lights, Jordan is making the transition to adulthood among a handful of young actors vying to be in the next generation of bankable leading men. This is the first action thriller vehicle being developed specifically for Jordan, who is separately attached to play Apollo Creed’s grandson in a new version of Rocky that will re-team him with Fruitvale Station writer-director Ryan Coogler.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu Commit To September Start For New Regency’s ‘The Revenant’
EXCLUSIVE: Leonardo DiCaprio has committed to star this September in The Revenant, a gritty thriller that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu will direct for New Regency, for fall 2015 release through Fox. Gonzalez Inarritu and Mark L. Smith co-wrote the script. DiCaprio had been attached to team with Gonzalez Inarritu, but he is attached to many projects; getting the star to commit off his Oscar-nominated The Wolf Of Wall Street performance is a big development for Arnon Milchan and Brad Weston’s game plan to make tasteful, star- and director-driven fare.
Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin, Keith Redmon and David Kanter will produce with Gonzalez Iñárritu, Milchan and James Skotchdopole. Brett Ratner and Paul Green are exec producers. The film will be co-financed by RatPac and Worldview Entertainment, latter of which just partnered with Regency and Fox Searchlight in the Inarritu-directed Birdman, which was just set for release on October 17.
An adaptation of the Michael Punke novel The Revenant: A Novel Of Revenge, Inarritu Gonzalez’s next film will star DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, a 19th century fur trapper who gets mauled by a grizzly bear, and then is left for dead by cohorts who rob him. When he survives, he is as pissed as a bee-stung bear and sets out on a treacherous journey to exact revenge on those who betrayed him. Sean Penn had been circling as one of those bad guys, but he won’t be in the film.
“I did not kill my wife!” Ben Affleck‘s hubby protagonist Nick Dunne emphatically declares in the first trailer from the high-profile big-screen adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s worldwide bestseller Gone Girl. And though that catchphrase might be an echo from 1993′s The Fugitive, Dunne is a guy — unlike Harrison Ford’s …
Update, Saturday 10:25 AM: In a Reddit AMA this morning, Avatar director James Cameron expounded on the franchise’s timetable in regards to the screenplays, writing, “The second, third and fourth films all go into production simultaneously. They’re essentially all in preproduction now, because we are designing creatures, settings, and characters that span all three films. And we should be finished with all three scripts within the next, I would say, six weeks. There’s always pressure, whether it’s a new film or whether it’s a sequel, to entertain and amaze an audience. I’ve felt that pressure my entire career, so there’s nothing new there. The biggest pressure I feel right now is cutting out things I love to get the film down to a length that is affordable. There hasn’t been a problem finding new and wonderful things to include in the movie.”
In a Fortune interview earlier this week, Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch reiterated what Deadline reported back in August: That there will be three Avatar sequels released respectively in December 2016, 2017 and 2018.
EXCLUSIVE: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have taken on their first feature project since becoming the architects of the HBO series adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s Game Of Thrones, which opened its fourth season last Sunday. They’ve made a deal with Fox to write, direct and produce Dirty White Boys, the novel about three violent escaped convicts and the lawman who attempts to track them down. The 1995 novel was written by Stephen Hunter, who also wrote Point Of Impact, the novel that was turned into the Mark Wahlberg pic Shooter.
Benioff and Weiss have been forced to have tunnel vision because of the creative demands writing and exec producing the ambitious signature HBO series Game Of Thrones. This is the first project they’ve made a deal to direct together, and the first since they began the GoT journey. They said it all started while they were shooting the breeze with a bunch of writer pals.
“We’re sitting around bullsh*tting and we started talking about lines we were jealous of before it came around to the familiar topic of greatest opening lines in novels,” Benioff told me. “Our friend Scott Frank brought up the opening line of Dirty White Boys. To be honest, I’d never hear of the book before, even though we’d heard of Stephen Hunter’s sniper series. Scott mentioned that opening line from Dirty White Boys, and it made me go out and buy the book, and Dan bought the book, and then we got past that first line and just fell in love with it.” Said Weiss: “It does grab you, the first line, and what keeps you is that the characters are so well drawn, really charismatic and awful people, so flawed. I don’t think you’ll be able to print the first line, because it’s got prison-soaked racism and is just really out there.”
I thought about this, and figured, what the hell. Hunter wrote it. I didn’t. Here’s the line: “Three men at McAlester State Penitentiary had larger penises than Lamar Pye, but all were black and therefore, by Lamar’s own figuring, hardly human at all.”
EXCLUSIVE: Paul Feig has a knack for finding gem comediennes and he thinks he has got one in Miranda Hart. The British veteran has been set to join Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jude Law and Jason Statham in the untitled spy comedy that Feig is directing for Chernin Entertainment and Fox. Filming starts in Budapest on Monday and the film has been dated for Memorial Day weekend 2015·
The comedy marks the third collaboration for Feig and McCarthy, and he wrote the script, directs and produces through his Feigco Entertainment with Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping and Jessie Henderson. ”I’ve been a fan of Miranda’s for years and am so excited to bring her to the big screen,” Feig said. “I’m also hoping I’ll finally get back that lawnmower I loaned her last summer.”
With a chorus line of 40 Samba-dancing Vegas showgirls parading through the audience to the stage for a performance of a song from the upcoming Rio 2 (4/11), 20th Century Fox got its CinemaCon presentation off in style. And the studio earned high marks for attempting to put a little showmanship that has been missing from some other presentations this week. Hey this is Vegas. Let’s liven it up, folks. And Fox did.
This is not to say the rest of their “show” was not all about showing off footage from their 2014 slate. It was, but clearly they put a lot of work into impressing these theatre owners who responded strongly to what Fox was offering. Distribution President Chris Aronson appeared with a feather headdress on (he looked pretty hot) but quickly took it off for a more corporate look as he welcomed the crowd and got things rolling including those previously reported remarks regarding NATO ‘s John Fithian and 12 Years A Slave. He pointed out that the studio’s total worldwide boxoffice was $3.39 billion, the fifth consecutive year they have exceeded the $3 billion mark. He then introduced 20th’s Chairman Jim Gianopulos who expertly hosted the event as he does each year, actually managing to sound like he’s not reading stuff off a prompter – an art both he and Disney’s M.C. Alan Horn have mastered. He launched right into it by announcing “we are starting summer in April this year” and bringing on Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann to introduce clips of their comedy The Other Woman. Then it was time for the “tentpoles” as he intro’d a clip package featuring the opening scene and trailer from X Men: Days Of Future Past (5/23), extended footage from How To Train Your Dragon 2 (6/13) from their partnership with DreamWorks Animation and a harrowing scene from Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (7/11) , the latter really whetting the exhibitors appetite. Let’s just say it involves a couple of drunk guys, a playful-seeming ape and an Uzi. Wow. Even Shailene Woodley, star of 20th’s June 6th romantic drama The Fault In Our Stars, said she was still shaking from the Apes footage when Gianopulos brought her on.
On Tuesday during his annual address to delegates at CinemaCon, National Association Of Theatre Owners president John Fithian caused a stir with a real head-scratcher that has kept resonating among theater owners and some studio executives when he stated he waited to watch this year’s Oscar-winning Best Picture 12 Years A Slave at home, rather than at a cinema, because it was too “unequivocally intense.” For the head of an organization that is meant to promote movie-watching in theaters, singling out the Academy’s choice for Best Picture (with that Oscar distinction traditionally a real magnet to bring customers into theaters) was an eye-opener, and execs at 20th Century Fox to whom I have spoken were furious with the NATO chief for even suggesting, however personal, that the preferred way to see the widely acclaimed Fox Searchlight release was to wait and see it at home. This morning, near the beginning of their studio presentation at Caesars Palace’s Colisseum theatre, Fox shot back. ”All of (our) films are meant to be seen in the best possible venue, the cinema, your cinemas and that includes movies that win the Oscar for Best Picture like 12 Years A Slave,” said 20th Century Fox distribution president Chris Aronson in his opening remarks this morning that contained that not-so-veiled reference and response to Fithian’s comments.
Of course it is no secret that many Academy members were, like Fithian, reluctant to watch the intense film, either in a theater or at home on their screener. That’s one of the reasons Fox Searchlight launched their second-phase “It’s Time” campaign in order to encourage them to view the film that would eventually take the top prize for the studio. But coming from the head of NATO, these remarks really stung, especially since he so publicly supports strict windows between the theatrical release of a movie and when it can be consumed at home. One Fox exec to whom I spoke was, in a word, livid when he heard Fithian’s remarks. Another major theatre chain head who played several runs of 12 Years A Slave and still has it in some theaters (even though it first opened in October) was equally outraged by the suggestion that the film is too intense for their screens. Another said, “It’s like if you were the head of Macy’s department store and urged people to shop in their store, but to buy your underwear online.”
Craig Viveiros will helm Queen & Country for Chernin Entertainment at Fox. The project, which will star Ellen Page, is based on the Oni Press comic book series Queen & Country written by Greg Rucka. Page will play a British agent who goes on the run from her own people as she tries to bring down a terrorist on English soil.
Viveiros made shorts and commercials, including the award winner Back To Back. Viveiros then produced, wrote and directed his debut feature film, Ghosted, which starred Art Malik, John Lynch and Martin Compston. He then moved to Haiti to work as a volunteer at the country’s film institute and returned to England to make The Liability with Tim Roth, Peter Mullan and Jack O’Connell.
EXCLUSIVE: James Mangold is negotiating to direct The Deep Blue Good-By, the 1964 John D. MacDonald novel that kicked off series of mystery novels with character Travis McGee. This has long been eyed by Fox as the launch of a star-driven franchise based on the beach bum McGee, a forerunner of muscular solitary heroes like Jack Reacher and Spenser For Hire, helping (and romancing) damsels in distress as he kicks ass against the powerful. The film was originally set as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio. That’s not going to happen now, as DiCaprio has plenty of work in front of him and this film, with a most recent script draft by Mystic River novelist Dennis Lehane, is certainly ready to go. DiCaprio and his Appian Way partner Jennifer Davisson-Killoran are producing with Amy Robinson and Chernin Entertainment. Previous script drafts were done by Dana Stevens and Kario Salem.