EXCLUSIVE: Hot off the biggest animated movie of all time with Frozen, Josh Gad is reteaming with Disney. He and his writing partner Ryan Dixon will be developing an untitled comedy/family adventure for the studio. The project marks …
Based on the phenomenal grosses from Frozen and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Disney (which crossed $1BM worldwide earlier this month) now can boast that it crossed $1B internationally in record time. Frozen has just surpassed Ice Age 4 to become the worldwide leader as the highest-grossing animated film of all time in international markets with a total tally of $729.3M. In comparison, Ice Age: Continental Drift grossed $715.9M in 2012. In addition, Frozen is hovering at $400M domestically and should reach that watermark next weekend. It just skated across the $100M in Japan while Captain America 2 opened there as its final territory in its international run. Disney boasts the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the country now with Frozen leading the way.
So far this year, the studio also commands the top two positions internationally of all films in the marketplace … Frozen is No. 1 with $462M and Captain America is $385.1M for the second spot. To show the dominance internationally, the No. three movie – The Wolf of Wall Street — is $122.6M behind the Cap.
Marvel’s Captain America 2 has now grossed over $500M. In China alone, it is on the verge of passing $100 million. The sequel, 199% ahead of what the first installment did in its full run of $194M, has already passed the total international box office cumes for Iron Man 2 ($312M) and Iron Man ($267M) as well as Thor ($268M) and it did so in four weeks. In Japan, it grossed $2M, more than doubling the opening weekend of the first installment. It is still No. 1 in Korea four weeks running, too.
In this week’s podcast, Deadline Executive Editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom preview what could be a very big day in the history of broadcasting and technology, as the Supreme Court hears legal arguments Monday about Aereo and its business model. The Davids talk about what’s at stake and how it might play out, where broadcasters might go if they lose and whether a win will turn the broadcasting business upside down. They also look over that very messy, and pricey Disney acquisition of online video powerhouse Maker Studios, and examine why ESPN, pay-TV’s most valuable brand, felt compelled to pitch investors that it’s just fine despite competition, cord-cutting and other existential challenges.
UPDATED: Maker says Relativity is too late. The online studio’s deal with Disney “has been approved by Maker Studios’ Board of Directors and the majority of its shareholders and is expected to close in the next few weeks, subject to regulatory approval.” Oh, it also notes that the effort to block he deal in court “was denied today by The Superior Court of California; County of Los Angeles, Central District.” Relativity responds that it “made a compelling offer” and will “continue to aggressively explore future opportunities that align with our strategy to accelerate digital content creation and distribution.”
PREVIOUS, 8:58 AM: Is $1B in stock from Relativity worth more than $950M in cash from Disney? That’s the proposition Relativity is offering online multichannel company Maker Studios today. It sent a letter of intent last night that it says “is superior to the current offer from Walt Disney” that the Maker board accepted last month. The plan developed with help from Jefferies and Barclays includes $500M in Relativity shares, $400M in stock when Maker hits “certain financial milestones,” plus $100M in stock to go to “key talent and executives” who also “are not existing stockholders of the Company.” Relativity says that both it and Maker “are natural partners” because both “share a commitment to challenging the status quo, breaking down old models that don’t work and inventing new ones that do.” Disney believes that the deal it struck with Maker last month — $500M upfront and $450M with milestones — is binding, so we’ll see where this goes.
The proposal does not appear to be directly related to an effort by former Maker execs including co-founder Danny Zapplin to persuade the LA Superior Court to block the deal with Disney. The application for a temporary restraining order wants to put things on hold while the plaintiffs try to demonstrate that current Maker execs are “skimming tens of millions of dollars for themselves by kicking back to the other stock adverse to the common shareholder.” Disney isn’t named as a defendant in the matter.
With a submission deadline looming in a few days, more than 400 people filled the cavernous main room of a Santa Monica co-working space this week, eager to hear how their startup can create the future of entertainment, with help from a media giant and a hugely influential tech investor group.
The night’s main attraction was David Cohen of TechStars, which connects high-level tech investors with startups. TechStars has partnered with Disney to launch the Disney Accelerator, one of seven such sponsored accelerators it runs along with seven more stand-alone operations in as many cities on two continents. Soft-spoken and dressed Silicon Valley casual, Cohen told the CrossCampus gathering that the accelerator’s goal is simple: to find and fund “the next generation of entertainment.”
Disney’s proposed $500 million plus purchase of Maker Studios may have a problem from the past. The former CEO of the multichannel YouTube network wants a California judge to issue a temporary restring order against the planned vote next week on the big ticket merger. “Permitting the April 15, 2014 vote on the Merger to proceed without requiring additional disclosures would irreparably harm Plaintiffs, as well as Maker shareholders, because it would deprive them of the opportunity to make an informed vote in the Merger,” says the redacted and previously sealed application, filed yesterday in LA Superior Court by co-founder Danny Zapplin and three other former Maker execs. The TRO application alleges that something has to be done before it “will be too late” because current Maker execs are “skimming tens of millions of dollars for themselves by kicking back to the other stock adverse to the common shareholder.” The application to Judge Elihu Berle became public today. Disney is not named as a defendant in the matter.
Just days before Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens, the heirs of Captain America, The Avengers and X-Men co-creator Jack Kirby are asking the Supreme Court to hand them back the rights to the comic legends from Marvel and Disney. “The Court of Appeals unconstitutionally appropriated Kirby’s valuable copyrights and gave them outright to Marvel, effecting a transfer of wealth on a massive scale,” says the 39-page petition (read it here) filed with the high court on March 21. The petition is the latest legal attempt by Lisa Kirby, Neal Kirby, Susan Kirby and Barbara Kirby to assert that they had the right in 2009 to issue termination notices to Marvel and others on the artist’s characters under the provisions of the 1976 Copyright Act. A response is due from Marvel and Disney on April 28.
As Frozen skated its way into Japan on March 14, the question began to loom larger and larger: Could the movie break Toy Story 3‘s $1,063,171,911 in worldwide box office to become the highest-grossing animated film of all time? When Bob Iger predicted it would happen, the reality of such a possibility crystalized further. And now, in its 19th international frame, the two-time Oscar winner has overtaken Disney’s TS3, earning $1,072,402,000 to win the crown of highest-grossing global animated release, ever. It’s also raced ahead of another Disney movie, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, to make it to No. 10 on the all-time worldwide box office chart. Ironically, the new notch comes one week after Frozen fell out of the domestic Top 10 for the first time during its long run.
Something didn’t smell right today at the happiest place on Earth. A strange odor at Disneyland saw four theme park cast members taken to local hospitals earlier Friday, according to the Anaheim Fire Department. The first responders arrived on the …
UPDATE, 2:35 PM: Nearly two weeks after the first report surfaced about an acquisition of the multichannel YouTube network, the studio made it official today. Disney said Maker Studios shareholders will be compensated to the tune of $550M plus a “performance-linked earn-out” of as much as $450M more. The full release is below the original story.
PREVIOUSLY, MARCH 11: The deal isn’t set, but if it makes, it would represent the biggest bet yet that a Hollywood studio has made in a company built on YouTube, the world’s largest video site. Disney reportedly is in talks to buy Maker Studios for at least $500 million, Re/Code reports, citing people familiar with the negotiations. According to Maker Studios, the multichannel network generates 5.5 billion video views a month, with almost all of its content on YouTube. This is the latest move by a traditional media company to expand its focus on digital content. Just yesterday we reported on Warner Bros leading an $18 million financing effort for Machinima. a YouTube network aimed at gamers and other young men. Online video company FullScreen also scored an investment led by Comcast and others, and in May DreamWorks Animation agreed to pay $33 million for YouTube destination AwesomenessTV. The reported talks also come after Disney’s announcement last week that it was laying off 26% of its interactive division.