Shooting on the follow-up to last year’s sleeper hit Now You See Me will take place in the U.S., Europe, and Asia “to capitalize on the property’s international appeal, with most of the original cast returning, and some exciting new additions,” Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer told analysts this morning in a call to discuss the company’s fiscal Q3 earnings. He added later that execs “absolutely see it as a franchise. We’re going to add some cast to it. We see it as an ongoing situation.” Execs pushed the theme of Lionsgate as an incubator for franchises; Feltheimer says the company has “an ability to assemble and mine the richest and most diverse portfolios of [intellectual property] in the industry.” He considers upcoming films Gods Of Egypt, Chaos Walking, and Mordecai (“a character that Johnny Depp loves,” he says) as “potential franchises — later adding The Last Witch Hunter with Vin Diesel to the list plus “another one we hope to announce shortly.” Speaking of franchises, the CEO said that timetable for the Hunger Games series remains “unchanged” — with releases planned for late November this year and next — following the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. “We’re fortunate to have his incredible talent grace our Hunger Games family,” Feltheimer says. “We send our deepest condolences to all who were close to him.” The CEO also talked up the Divergent series, noting that the studio is “gearing up to begin shooting Insurgent, the second film in the franchise, this summer in order to make our March 2015 release date.”
Global Showbiz Briefs: “Documentary” Sting Nabs Alleged Pirate Kingpin; ‘Now You See Me’ Tops Box Office In China; More
It’s The Old Consult-On-A-Movie-About-Maritime-Piracy Trick
If this real-life tale were pitched as a movie, it might go something like this: “Imagine Argo meets Captain Phillips, with a little In Bruges thrown in.” Mohamed Abdi Hassan, an alleged pirate mastermind, was arrested during the weekend after arriving in Belgium from Nairobi. He was led there by the belief that he was signing a deal to act as an expert adviser on a documentary about the Somali piracy business. Instead, he was met by authorities, who arrested him. Hassan, aka Afweyne or “Big Mouth”, was charged with hijacking the Belgian ship Pompei in 2009 and kidnapping its crew, per the Associated Press. Some of the pirates involved in that attack were caught and convicted, but Hassan remained at large. When he evaded capture in Malaysia in 2012, Belgian authorities took the undercover route and approached an alleged accomplice, Mohamed Aden, saying they wanted Hassan to “collaborate as adviser and expert in the matter on a film about maritime piracy,” federal prosecutor Johan Delmulle told The New York Times. After months of back-and-forth, Hassan and Aden agreed to travel to Belgium. When they arrived on Saturday, they were arrested and sent to Bruges for a court hearing. Today, the hearing was pushed to October 30.
‘Now You See Me’ Opens Atop Chinese Box Office With $9.1M
Heist pic Now You See Me was No. 1 at the Chinese box office over the weekend. The film about a group of magicians who pull off a complex caper made $9.1M in its first four days of release over the local holiday, FilmBizAsia reports. Local pic Love Will Tear Us Apart opened with $5.21M in its first two days and in its third weekend, Tsui Hark’s Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon took a further $6.93M for a cume of $88.7M, outperforming Hark’s last pic, 2011’s Flying Swords Of Dragon Gate.
UPDATE: They did it again. Lionsgate’s stock today hit an intra-day and 52-week high of $31.10 on the New York Stock Exchange. It closed at 30.92, up 0.63 or 2.08%. Lionsgate has been on a roll lately, surging in part to the successful Hunger Games and Twilight franchises. …
Will Smith’s ‘After Earth’ Fizzles Behind #2 ‘Now You See Me’, ‘Fast 6′ Still Sizzles At #1, ‘Epic’ And ‘Hangover III’ Guzzle Overseas
SUNDAY 1:30 AM, 4TH UPDATE: Still clocking in at #1 is Universal’s Fast & Furious 6 (3,686 theaters) which easily dominated the field again with $34M this weekend. The domestic cume should reach a huge $170M through Sunday. But the big story – or should I say, the sad story – is Sony Pictures/Columbia’s After Earth (3,401 theaters) starring Will Smith and his son and directed by the now unwatchable M Night Shyamalan. Big online ticketseller Fandango first spotted the pic’s underperformance when After Earth ticket sales began lagging Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment’s Now You See Me (2,925 theaters) on Thursday for shows beginning at 9 PM. The magic-themed heist thriller amazingly overtook After Earth on Friday and stayed #2 all weekend, debuting with $27.5M for the weekend. That overperforms the $20M which the studio was predicting. This pic is breaking the so-called ‘movies about magic’ curse. (But it’s really a caper flick…) The film cost right around $75M with 2/3s mitigated by foreign sales since that’s the Lionsgate model. The studio notes that grosses were strong throughout Friday and into the evening which indicates a broad audience. “Older audiences attended the matinee performances, and the younger audience came out to our late shows,” an exec tells me. Directed by Louis Leterrier (Clash Of The Titans), scripted by credited screenwriters Ed Solomon and Boaz Yakin & Edward Ricourt, and produced by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Bobby Cohen, it has an ensemble cast including Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, and Common with showy roles for vets Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. It earned an ’A-’ CinemaScore which should help word of mouth stay strong.
But #3 After Earth earned only a ‘B’ CinemaScore which won’t help or hurt word of mouth. It opened to a $26.5M weekend. That’s way less than the high $30sM to low $40sM which Sony was predicting and which tracking showed was possible right into Friday. On Friday, rival studios chortled its grosses were ”2.5 times worse than Jaden Smith’s Karate Kid reboot and half of Oblivion‘s opening” with Tom Cruise. Not hard to understand because reviews for the sci-fi newcomer were just plain awful: 13% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. To be fair, Sony Pictures rarely has a big underperformer like this. And rightly or wrongly depending on how much you care about Jaden Smith and/or nepotism in Hollywood, the studio positioned the movie as a broad family film, building on Jaden’s stardom from the worldwide hit The Karate Kid and reaching out to young teens and families. Will Smith’s residual mega-wattage was still strong enough to open the summer tentpole comfortably above $20M. But even that and Sony’s marketing prowess couldn’t overcome this Shyamalan meltdown, yet another in his string of box office stinkers which have made audiences and critics alike completely soured on him. (The director lost me forever after the execrable The Happening…) I’m told that Will really wanted M Night to direct – even though this subject matter decidedly wasn’t in Shyamalan’s wheelhouse - and they together developed the script for a “not terribly expensive” movie. But a budget of at least $130M is hardly insignificant. Still, given the fact that Smith has made billions for Sony Pictures, the studio felt it just couldn’t say no to its most successful movie partner. Now Smith and Sony must weather this very public failure. I’m told the studio worked “really hard” to fix this crapfest in post-production and that even an arrogant know-it-all like Shyamalan was aware the pic didn’t work but couldn’t fix it on his own. ”You keep hoping people are going to be as good as their best work,” one insider told me about this all-too-familiar filmdom situation. “Sometimes some collaborations bring forth amazing results. And some are not meant to be.” Without a solid opening in North America and no chance for a strong summer multiple, pic will have to depend on overseas grosses. Sony launched it internationally day and date in 3 locations this weekend, and Korea opened very strong, but the overseas rollout really begins next week and the week after. As for the studio, it still has projected winners coming up this summer like Grown-Ups 2, Elysium, Smurfs 2, and This Is The End from the Superbad/Pineapple Express comedy team.
Hoping to fill that drought in PG family fare at the domestic box office, Twentieth Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios’ Epic (3,894 theaters, the weekend’s biggest count) came in #4 and should be grossing more domestically but isn’t. Even with a big Saturday kiddie bump of +65% from Friday, it’ll only earn a $16M second weekend and $64.7 cume. But the toon’s real story will be international where it released wide Friday.
In #5, Paramount’s Star Trek Into Darkness (3,585 theaters) did a $15.2M weekend and $181M domestic cume. Now a new crop of TV ads finally are targeting new moviegoers and driving traffic among non-Trekkies.
Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures’ The Hangover Part III (3,565 theaters) was #6 for a disappointingly anemic $15M second weekend and so-so $87.1M cume. Still unclear if in the morning it will finish a place or two ahead or behind in the Top Ten. However, H3 began its overseas wide rollout this weekend and is doing huge international grosses just as expected. On Thursday, it opened in 25 markets and grossed $15.4M for an international cume of $48.2M. Taking advantage of the public holiday, Germany marked the best opening day of the year. Russia is off to an excellent start ranking #1. Other #1 countries include Italy and Brazil (heading into a 4-day holiday weekend). ”These are great numbers, especially when you consider how big Hangover II was internationally – $332M,” a Warner Bros exec tells me.
On Saturday night the only laugher in the marketplace The Hangover Part III had competition from the Vince Vaughn-Owen Wilson buddy comedy directed by Shawn Levy, The Internship, about middle-aged interns inside Google. PG-13 pic doesn’t officially open in 3,000-plus North American theaters until June 7th but Twentieth Century Fox quietly decided to sneak it in 300 theaters for one prime 7 PM show around the country. Hard to believe it’s been 8 years since these actors first teamed up for Wedding Crashers. Even harder to understand why New Line never did a sequel for that or Toby Emmerich didn’t snap up Vaughn’s original script for this. I’ve asked and received no satisfactory answer on both.
1. Fast & Furious 6 (Universal) Week 2 [Runs 3,686] PG13
Friday $10.5M, Saturday $13.6m, Weekend $34.0M (-65%), Cume $169.8M
2. Now You See Me (Summit/Lionsgate) NEW [Runs 2,925] PG13
Friday $10.0M, Saturday $10.9M, Weekend $27.5M
3. After Earth (Columbia/Sony) NEW [Runs 3,401] PG13
Friday $9.8M, Saturday $10.1M, Weekend $26.5M
4. Epic (Blue Sky/Fox) Week 2 [Runs 3,894] PG13
Friday $4.1M, Saturday $6.8M, Weekend $16.0M, Cume $64.7M
5. Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount) Week 3 [Runs 3,585] PG13
Friday $4.4M, Saturday $6.5M, Weekend $15.2M, Cume $181.0M
6. The Hangover Part III (Legendary/Warner Bros) Week 2 [Runs 3,565] R
Friday $5.2M, Saturday $6.0M, Weekend $15.0M (-64%), Cume $87.1M
Fandango is exclusively premiering the first 4 minutes of Summit Entertainment’s upcoming summer heist movie Now You See Me here with Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, and Isla Fisher plus Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Melanie Laurent and Mark Ruffalo. The movie about FBI vs illusionists opens May 31st:
Lionsgate/Summit conjured this trailer for the heist movie in which a team of illusionists rob banks during their performances and share the booty with their audiences. Louis Leterrier directs from a script by Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt. Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, Michael …
The current wave of French directors making Hollywood films seems to have taken Jean-Luc Godard’s advice (“All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl”), amped it up with a healthy dash of special effects or 3D and taken it to the bank.
Louis Leterrier, director of The Incredible Hulk and Clash of the Titans, will in January be making Summit’s movie about magicians who rob banks during performances Now You See Me, with Star Trek writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci producing. Fred Cavayé, director of the original French version of the Russell Crowe-thriller The Next Three Days, is in talks with studios to remake his latest, Point Blank.
“I grew up watching American movies, so my lexicon is American directors like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas,” Leterrier said. “These movies seeped into my artistic DNA. At the same time, because Paris is the capital of world cinema, I was also watching French films, German cinema or kung fu movies from Hong Kong. What makes me and other French directors different from Americans is that we were feeding ourselves from other cultures.”
The communication revolution and modern travel realities are making it easier for French helmers to cross over to Hollywood. Today an agent in Beverly Hills can watch something online and make contact pretty within hours. “There’s a fluid traffic in information,” says Ron Halpern, executive vice-president of international production at Studio Canal. “The world has gotten smaller. The speed of communication means that foreign directors are on people’s radars much quicker. And when a studio is looking for something fresh and interesting, a foreign eye can often bring something.”