“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 Dr. Richard Kimble — who has the deck stacked against him when it comes to his murdered better half (Rosamund Pike). Or so it seems. One of Flynn’s inspirations for the novel stemmed from the psychology and dynamics of couples’ long-term relationships. CinemaCon attendees got an early look at the trailer last month. Fox will release the David Fincher film on the first Friday in October — in the same spot the director’s 2010 awards-season darling, The Social Network, launched. Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Missi Pyle and Patrick Fugit round out the cast. Take a look and see if you can get Richard Butler’s eerie cover of the Charles Aznavour’s song “She” out of your head:
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. Read More »
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.” Read More »
Over two years since notorious cyberlocker Megaupload was shut down on January 19, 2012, Hollywood today has gone on the legal offensive. Disney, 20th Century Fox Film, Paramount Pictures, Universal, Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros. today filed a mega-lawsuit against the site and its principals in federal court in Virginia (read it here). Alleging that the site infringed upon “thousands of plaintiffs’ copyrighted works,” the studios and the MPAA are seeking million in damages from the profits Megaupload made off their copyrighted material or “the maximum statutory damages, in the amount of $150,000 per infringement,” as the 21-page complaint says. All of which means potential billions and billions.
“Infringing content on Megaupload.com and its affiliates was available in at least 20 languages, targeting a broad global audience. According to the government’s indictment, the site reported more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and cost U.S. copyright owners more than half a billion dollars,” said the MPAA’s SEVP and Global General Counsel Steven Fabrizio today. “Megaupload — and sites like it that are built on stolen works — damage the consumer experience online and undermine the creators who don’t get compensated for their work,” he added. This case starts up as the Department of Justice case against Megaupload and its New Zealand-based founder Kim DotCom, who is among the defendants here, languishes in the courts. Since … Read More »
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.” Read More »
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. Read More »
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.
Related: CinemaCon: ‘X Men’, Other Women, Lots Of Girls And An Ape Steal Show
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.” Read More »
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. Read More »
If you’re keeping track of these things, a Canada-based lawsuit claiming James Cameron‘s Avatar was based on someone else’s work has been thrown out. It’s the fourth legal victory since last year for Cameron, producer Lightstorm Entertainment and 20th Century Fox over similar allegations again the 2009 mega blockbuster. Fox said today a federal court in Vancouver issued an order dismissing the latest complaint filed by local writer and restaurateur Emil Malak, who alleged that the pic copied elements of his script Terra Incognita. Malak was seeking $100M but dismissed the claim after the first day of hearing on Cameron’s motion for summary judgment. Malak originally filed suit in 2010 in BC Supreme Court but dropped that case too.
Paul Feig is producing Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios’ attempt at the first big-screen CGI version of Charles Schulz’s iconic comic (UPDATE: Readers were correct to point out there have been other Peanuts features). From this first look that dropped today it’s clear this take won’t offer many of those hard-R moments like the ones found in some of Feig’s recent fare like Bridesmaids or The Heat. But he’s a big fan of the comic — saying Peanuts was “my Star Wars” and that Charlie Brown and Snoopy helped inform his cult TV hit Freaks And Geeks. Steve Martino is directing the pic from a script by Craig Schulz and Bryan Schulz & Cornelius Uliano. A November 6, 2015 release date has been set. Is this what you expected?
EXCLUSIVE: Charles Leavitt has just landed another high-profile adaptation gig, inking with 20th Century Fox to adapt Michael Koryta’s book Those Who Wish Me Dead, which Steve Zaillian’s Film Rites is producing. The project has been out to several top guys since Fox acquired rights to the thriller last fall and it was Blood Diamond scribe Leavitt’s take that impressed. The novel revolves around a teenage murder witness lost in the Montana wilderness, the twin assassins hunting him, a survival expert tasked with protecting him, and a forest fire that threatens to consume them all. Little Brown publishes the book in May.
The Paradigm-repped Leavitt has been busy. He’s jumping into this job after delivering Wild Bunch, the Warner Bros pic to which Will Smith is attached to star and Jerry Weintraub will produce. He also adapted World Of Warcraft for director Duncan Jones, Universal and Legendary, which is now in production; and he wrote the first pass at Nathaniel Philbrick’s bestseller In The Heart Of The Sea, the Ron Howard movie that Warner Bros will release in March 2015 after a Peter Morgan redraft.
EXCLUSIVE: In the second big material deal of the day, Fox has acquired Cold Comfort (aka How To Catch A Russian Spy), a film that will be developed as a directing vehicle for Marc Webb. The subject of the book is keeping his name under wraps, and it is being co-written by Ellis Henican, a longtime pal of mine from Newsday who’s still a columnist there and a bestselling author. Several studios and directors were in the mix on this one, because it’s such a strong star vehicle for a comic actor in the vein of Jonah Hill.
This is the true account of an American civilian-turned-self-taught spy, who worked with the FBI to bring down a Russian intelligence agent on American soil. Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar and Bard Dorros are producing, with Webb also serving as producer. Fox’s Emma Watts and Kira Goldberg negotiated this with CAA and Hannah Gordon and Peter McGuigan at Foundry Literary + Media. Scribner will publish the book.
Next up for Webb is The Amazing Spider-Man 2, out this summer for Sony Pictures.
EXCLUSIVE: After spending several years looking to generate a sequel or two to the 1996 Fox smash hit Independence Day, it looks like director Roland Emmerich and co-writer and producer Dean Devlin are going to have to take on those Earth-leveling aliens without Will Smith. I’m told reliably that Smith informed the studio that he won’t be joining in on a sequel that the filmmakers hope to have in theaters for July 4 weekend, 2016. That marks the 20th anniversary of the 1996 original that grossed $811 million worldwide and launched Smith on a trajectory to become the world’s most bankable movie star. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Fox has closed a deal to acquire rights to Marie Brenner’s 1997 Vanity Fair article “The Ballad Of Richard Jewell”, which will be developed for Jonah Hill to play the title subject. Jewell was the security guard who discovered a backpack in the Olympics compound in Atlanta in 1996. Initially hailed a hero for reporting the suspicious knapsack and then helping clear bystanders from the area before it exploded, Jewell was subsequently vilified just three days later as a potential suspect, his life and reputation torn apart in the advent of the 24 hour news cycle. Leonardo DiCaprio will play a lawyer Jewell knew casually, a Southern attorney who mostly did real estate closings and seemed in over his head, but he guided Jewell through a hellish Twilight Zone that went on even after the FBI officially cleared Jewell’s name three months later.
Brenner, whose VF article was the original source material for the Michael Mann-directed tobacco whistle-blower tale The Insider, accompanied Jewell and his attorney just as it finally became clear he had nothing to do with placing the bomb. The film will be produced by Appian Way’s DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Hill and Kevin Misher, the latter of whom brought in the article. Misher Films’ Andy Berman will also have a producing role. Mike Ireland is overseeing for Fox.
This comes as both DiCaprio and Hill are up for Oscars for Best Picture nominee The Wolf Of Wall Street. It is particularly a strong role for Hill, who continues his remarkable transition from comic actor to serious roles that started with an Oscar-nominated turn in Moneyball and continues with the Rupert Goold-directed True Story, in which Hill plays Michael Finkel, a disgraced journalist who got the chance at redemption when a suspected killer (James Franco) took Finkel’s name, and would only talk to that journalist. That project is also at Fox, with New Regency. Read More »
Bernie may be dead, but nearly 25 years after Weekend At Bernie’s came out, money from the movie isn’t. To that end, 20th Century Fox and MGM were sued today for breach of contract by director Ted Kotcheff and writer Robert Klane for profits they say they are due from the 1989 comedy. Stating that the gross box office receipts for what they call “one of the most hilarious and endearing goofball comedies of the 80s” were more than $30 million and residuals for further venues for Bernie’s equal more than $16 million, the duo says they “have been, and continue to be, deprived of at least hundreds of millions of dollars.” While Fox was the distributor of the film back in 1980s, the complaint (read it here) filed in LA Superior Court today names both the studio and MGM as defendants because it says producers Gladden Entertainment Company, transferred all rights to Bernie’s to the two not long after the pic came out on July 5, 1989. Former MGM CEO David Begelman, who died in 1995, formed Gladden in 1984. Weekend At Bernie’s starred Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman as two up-and-coming corporate men trying to hide the fact their rich boss is dead and avoid the hitman after him. Hilarity ensues.
In their no-joke 6-claim complaint seeking a 2- to 3-day jury trial, Klane … Read More »
Actress-filmmaker Lina Esco has been cast as a regular in Ryan Murphy‘s HBO pilot Open, a provocative exploration of human sexuality and relationships. It centers on five central characters played by Michelle Monaghan, Scott Speedman, Wes Bentley, Anna Torv and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Esco will play Gina, a smoking hot and extremely ambitious employee at Jonathan’s sports management agency (and the object of his sexting and extra-curricular exploits) who will stop at nothing to get the job promotion AND her man. Esco, repped by Luber Roklin, co-starred opposite Miley Cyrus in LOL and wrote and directed her first film, the provocative Free The Nipple. Read More »
UPDATE, 11:05 AM: James Cameron has issued a statement through Fox about last week’s Bryant Moore ruling: “Sadly, a cottage industry has arisen of fortune hunting plaintiffs seeking to ‘strike it rich’ by claiming their ideas were the basis for Avatar. As I have previously stated, Avatar was my most personal film, drawing upon themes and concepts that I had been exploring for decades. Our film was also the product of a team of some of the world’s most creative artists and designers, and it is an insult to all of them when these specious claims are made. I am grateful that Judge Titus and the other jurists who have dealt with these cases have recognized the complete lack of merit of these offensive lawsuits.”
PREVIOUS, MONDAY AM: It took over two years but the highest-grossing movie of all time, James Cameron and Fox are finally free of yet another Avatar lawsuit. “In conclusion, the story of Jake Sully and his exploits are the original work of the Defendants and the Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate any valid claim of a violation of his copyrights,” a federal District judge in Maryland wrote late last week of sci-fi writer Bryant Moore’s $2.5 billion lawsuit (read it here). The Memorandum Opinion and a following Order by Judge Roger Titus effectively ends the case with a summary judgment and other orders in Cameron and Fox’s favor. Moore will also have to pay all legal costs in the case.
Related: Sam Worthington & Zoe Saldana To Return For ‘Avatar’ Sequels: Fox Eyeing End Of Year Start Read More »