Universal said today that Luc Besson‘s sci-fi actioner starring Scarlett Johansson will unspool July 25, two weeks earlier than its announced date. Lucy had been set for the action-packed weekend of August 8, where it was pegged against Warner Bros’ tornado flick Into The Storm and Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, along with Disney’s The 100-Foot Journey. Instead, the EuropaCorp film co-starring Morgan Freeman will bow versus Paramount’s Hercules, Sony’s comedy Sex Tape and Lionsgate/Summit’s musical-drama sequel Step Up All In. Lucy stars Johansson as a woman who is tricked into transporting some very bad stuff that — unbeknownst to her captors — ends up transforming her into a merciless warrior. Vengeance and mayhem ensue.
UPDATED: Boasting a bankable Hollywood star in a decidedly unconventional narrative, Jonathan Glazer’s stunning Under The Skin starring Scarlett Johansson (who also stars in this weekend’s fellow opener Captain America 2) proved a winning mix in the Specialty Box Office for distributor A24 in its opening weekend. The film, Glazer’s first in 10 years, grossed a robust $140K in four L.A. and NYC theaters. That comes in at a $35K screen average, easily the biggest since the The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s bombshell $202K PTA when it opened March 9. Under The Skin‘s initial numbers also bode well for A24, which opened in 2012 and had a streak of box office successes over last year, including Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, which had an $87,667 PTA when it opened last March ($14.1M cume), The Spectacular Now ($49,354 PTA in 4 theaters last August and a $6.85M cume), The Bling Ring ($42,879 PTA in 5 theaters last June and a $5.8M cume) and Ginger & Rosa ($14,279 PTA in 3 theaters in March 2012, $1M cume).
Said A24 this weekend: “[Under The Skin] opened to rave reviews and sold out shows in New York and Los Angeles this weekend. This unique cinematic event is second only to The Grand Budapest Hotel as the highest limited specialized film opening of the year. Scarlett Johannson, who stars in both Under The Skin and the Captain America sequel, was a box office star this weekend dominating the box office with Captain America and Under The Skin having the highest per screen average in the country.”
A24 noted that the title, which it acquired out of Toronto last year, is “an art movie that people are embracing.” A spokesperson told me Sunday that they “couldn’t sell more tickets” at its showing in New York’s Union Square.
Luc Besson and Scarlett Johansson have teamed for Lucy, a sc-fi pic that centers on a woman caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior. Morgan Freeman co-stars, and Universal is releasing the pic from Besson’s EuropaCorp on August 8. Check out the trailer that dropped today. It reveals Johansson in full bad-arse mode a la other great Besson female heroes like Anne Parillaud in the original La Femme Nikita, Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element and Zoe Saldana in Colombiana:
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘The X Factor’ Musical ‘I Can’t Sing’ Pushes Back Previews; Quentin Tarantino To Present Honorary Cesar To Scarlett Johansson; More
‘X Factor’ Musical ‘I Can’t Sing’ Delays Previews By Two Days
Previews of Simon Cowell‘s The X Factor musical, I Can’t Sing, have been postponed by two days at the London Palladium. Stage Entertainment and Syco Entertainment are producing the show and say they’ve decided to start previews on March 1 as opposed to February 27 due to “technical issues caused by the ambitious staging of the new musical comedy.” Rebecca Quigley, producer for Stage Entertainment, said, “As audiences will soon see, the production is hugely ambitious, and the volume of installation and scale of the set means that technical work has taken slightly longer than could have been anticipated to make the show audience-ready.” Nigel Harman (EastEnders, Downton Abbey) is playing a character based on Cowell in the musical that’s directed by Olivier Award-winner and Tony nominee Sean Foley. British comedian Harry Hill wrote the show.
Quentin Tarantino To Present Scarlett Johansson’s Honorary Cesar
Quentin Tarantino has been enlisted by France’s Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma to present Scarlett Johansson with this year’s honorary César Award. The director will hand the award to Johansson this Friday at the 39th César Awards ceremony in Paris. Tarantino himself received the prize in 2011.
Global Showbiz Briefs: China Says Not Raising Film Quota; César Awards To Honor Scarlett Johansson; Taylor Lautner To BBC3
Not So Fast: China Says It Isn’t Increasing Movie Quota
Contrary to reports earlier this week, China is not planning to increase its quota on films imported from Hollywood. Official state news agency Xinhua said Tuesday that the quota will remain unchanged at 34, citing an official with the country’s film governing body, SAPPRFT. In February 2012, China and the U.S. signed a pact to increase the number of films approved for theatrical release in China from 20 to 34. The parties also agreed on an increased revenue share of 25%. In the first year the change was implemented, local Chinese films lost market share but since have rebounded strongly with about 58.7% of box office takings in 2013. In a statement on Monday, MPA Asia chief Mike Ellis said the org was unaware of any official plans on changing the quota system but noted that the belief that an open market “best serves filmmakers and audiences alike. … Removing the quota for international films is something we’ve been advocating for some time and would provide the widest possible movie experience for audiences while benefiting the Chinese screen community and our member studios.”
It’s that most wonderful time of year again — Banned Super Bowl Ad time! SodaStream is a relatively new, second-year entry — this time with an ad featuring Scarlett Johansson. Typically banned Super Bowl ads are pretty low-rent stuff and they’re ixnayed owing to shoddy production, controversial or skeevy content — sometimes companies make and submits ads knowing it hasn’t a prayer of getting into the game, for the sake of the publicity — I know, shocking, right?
With Johansson, the company’s sure the banned ad will go viral in an even bigger way than did last year’s banned SodaStream ad in advance of the game — that one had only depicted truck drivers wearing uniforms featuring Coke and Pepsi logos. This year’s SodaStream ad is far more sophisticated — and easier to tweak, so as to maybe end up in the game after all, for double the exposure. This year’s ad was “banned” because it ends with Johansson purring “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi” after extolling the virtues of her employer’s sodas over the competition (and major Super Bowl advertisers).
Watch banned Johansson ad here:
After Warner Bros unveiled its first trailer for Spike Jonze‘s unconventional romantic drama in August, the studio made a strategic move to December and took it to the NYFF and Rome fests, collecting kudos for star Scarlett Johansson. But early awards hopes for Johansson’s voice-only performance as a Siri-like operating system that captivates her owner (Joaquin Phoenix) were muted by an HFPA ruling that it’s ineligible for contention at the Golden Globes. Check out a new trailer for Her, which opens December 18 in limited release and expands January 10:
I have learned Scarlett Johansson, who plays Samantha, Joaquin Phoenix’s Operating System in the upcoming Spike Jonze film Her has been ruled ineligible to compete for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for this year’s Golden Globe awards. Johansson’s role is strictly a voice over performance – she is only heard, not seen – and would mark a history-making nomination for the Oscars and the SAG awards where she is eligible. Warner Bros has been campaigning for consideration in the category and she recently was named Best Actress at the Rome Film Festival for her role in Her (12/18) which only added fuel to this fire. Warner Bros should be disappointed in the decision by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association but plan to continue bringing her performance, which has won critical raves, to the attention of awards voters. No one has ever been Oscar nominated (or Globe nominated) for a voice over part or for a performance capture role despite past campaigns for actors like Andy Serkis who played Gollum in the Lord Of The Rings films and most recently was touted for his work as Caesar the ape in 2011′s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.
Rome Film Festival: ‘Her’s Scarlett Johansson Named Best Actress For V.O. Performance; ‘Dallas Buyers Club’, Matthew McConaughey Also Nab Awards
The eighth Rome Film Festival closed last night and unveiled its winners naming Scarlett Johansson Best Actress for Spike Jonze’s Her, in which Johansson voices a Siri-like Operating System but doesn’t appear onscreen. That’s a nice early accolade for Warner Bros., which releases the romance in limited release December 18 before expanding in January. And it’s the first step in what Deadline’s Pete Hammond predicted could be a groundbreaking awards season coup for Johansson’s voice-over performance in the pic. Also nabbing top honors out of Rome were Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who won Best Director for Sebunsu kodo (Seventh Code), and Dallas Buyers Club, which landed Matthew McConaughey the Best Actor prize and also won the Audience Award. Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace was named best first or second feature. Scroll down for full winners:
Luc Besson Talks Paparazzi Interference On Taipei ‘Lucy’ Shoot, But Confirms He Never Planned To Leave: AP
French director Luc Besson today publicly commented on incidents in Taiwan that earlier this week led to reports he was cutting his shoot time there short on sci-fi film Lucy. According to the Associated Press, Besson spoke with journalists in Taipei this afternoon and slammed overzealous paparazzi who made shooting at night “a nightmare.” But he denied he ever thought about getting off the island early. “I read in the newspaper that I was ready to leave,” he said. “This is wrong.” This confirms a report by Deadline’s sister publication Variety in which Christophe Lambert, CEO of Besson’s EuropaCorp, said the helmer wasn’t going anywhere until finishing his stint as planned. (It also speaks to what Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr wrote on Monday about Besson’s “stones” being such that the director was not one to run scared.) Besson shot in Taipei for 11 days with star Scarlett Johansson and was irked that shutterbugs were angling for shots of the actress in costume. “We don’t want pictures with new dresses of Scarlett,” he said, per the AP. “Sometime I lost a bit of my concentration because I’m bothered by that.” He pointed to two unnamed agencies from Hong Kong for special condemnation, the AP reported. With the Taiwan shoot now wrapped, Besson said work on the movie about “pure intelligence” will take another year.
The pack mentality of web journalists rushing to pick up every report in every publication around the world legitimizes exaggerated stories and all you can do is try to put proper perspective on them later. Seems that was the case with today’s early reports that director Luc Besson was cutting short his Taipei shoot of the science fiction film Lucy because paparazzi were being over aggressive trying to get snaps of Scarlett Johansson in costume. My former colleague Patrick Frater got to EuropaCorp CEO Christophe Lambert, who told our sister publication Variety that Besson isn’t going anywhere until he finishes his stint there as planned. I interviewed Besson at Deadline Hollywood’s Contenders Event two years ago when he released The Lady, and he talked about sneaking into Burma when it was controlled by a strict military regime to shoot scenes for his film about the outrageous injustices perpetrated against Aung San Suu Kyi. Not only did Besson covertly get his shots, he filmed a crowd scene and asked everyone there to not put any information or photographs online because it would imperil him and his crew and possibly get the film’s subject (who was under house arrest) in more trouble. Not a single shot appeared anywhere, he said. Would a guy with stones like that run scared because of some pesky shutterbugs? C’mon.
It’s two years since The Avengers, and Steve Rogers is still adjusting to a contemporary existence in Marvel‘s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Here, Chris Evans is paired with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Sundance icon Robert Redford, in his first superhero effort. Marvel has just released a trailer for its April 4 release. Trailer timing coincides with the November 8 release of another Marvel sequel, Thor: The Dark World.
Listen to (and share) episode 46 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about early awards frontrunner 12 Years A Slave, whose Michael Fassbender may snag an Oscar nomination despite his likely absence during the campaign months, and lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who already is hitting the awards circuit ahead of the film’s debut this weekend. We also look at a very different kind of performance, Scarlett Johansson’s sterling voice work in Spike Jonze’s quirky Her and whether it can make Academy history; the AFI Fest snares a world premiere with Lone Survivor; and the Pen Center USA literary awards, where one winner’s work faced a noisy protest by her film’s editors.
Finally, we’ll get Pete’s take on this week’s very full slate of new movie releases, including Bill Condon’s nervy meditation on journalism and whistleblowers in the Internet age, The Fifth Estate; Robert Redford’s remarkable solo journey in All Is Lost; the surprisingly enjoyable action film Escape Plan, featuring great chemistry between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone; and a remake of the horror classic Carrie, with Julianne Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz.
Catch up with the best of Deadline’s Top Film stories from this week:
SHOCKER! Charlie Hunnam Exits Christian Grey Role In ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’
By Mike Fleming Jr. – Well, here’s a surprise. Universal is going to have to look harder to find its S&M minded zillionaire Christian Grey because Sons Of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam has exited the role he only just got.
Angelina Jolie Sets Japanese Singer Miyavi As Brutal WWII POW Camp Guard ‘The Bird’ In ‘Unbroken’
By Mike Fleming Jr. - EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and director Angelina Jolie have found their villain for the Lou Zamperini tale Unbroken.
Universal Pays 7-Figure Deal For Aaron Berg ‘Section 6′ Spec
By Mike Fleming Jr. – EXCLUSIVE: It’s not only an exceptional deal for a new writer; I’m hard pressed to come up with the last clean seven-figure deal for a script with no attachments. Four studios bid on the project…
The New York Film Festival closed Saturday night with the World Premiere of Spike Jonze‘s fourth feature, the irresistibly charming romantic fantasy Her, about a man who falls head over heels for his “operating system”. The studio held a simultaneous screening on the West Coast Saturday afternoon for L.A.-based critics and bloggers. Initial reaction was upbeat.
Whatever the December Warner Bros. release’s many attributes, its awards potential is yet to be determined. But I would say if it catches on with the Academy crowd at all, it could be poised to make Oscar history in at least one category. Scarlett Johansson, who poignantly voices Samantha the computer system that organizes Joaquin Phoenix‘s life and strikes up an intense and heartbreaking personal relationship with him, could possibly become the first solely voice-over performance to win an acting nomination. It’s never happened in the past that an actor, unseen on screen and strictly doing voice work has been able to nail a nomination from the Academy’s actors branch. But if ever it was going to happen this is the year, and Johansson’s is the performance. Her work (she replaced Samantha Morton) is exemplary. She’s also great in the current Don Jon as well. I am told by a Warner Bros. source working on the campaign that they have checked and the role is eligible. They plan to run her seriously for Best Supporting Actress and, if successful, will make …
Bet you can guess which two Esquire magazine franchises have been ordered as specials by NBCU’s Esquire Network. If you guessed the franchises are: women, and bars — you’re right! Women We Love is an hour-long “celebration of some of the most captivating, impressive and alluring women from entertainment, sports, pop culture and more.” And we’re guessing you’ve already figured out it’s going to coincide with the mag’s annual “Sexiest Woman Alive” issue in November in which Scarlett Johansson is, for a second time, named SWA — because Esquire is apparently running out of them. In the magazine, Johansson says, sexily, “You know, I gotta hustle…I’m a 28-year-old woman in the movie business, right? Pretty soon the roles you’re offered all become mothers. Then they just sort of stop.” In the cable TV special, “fascinating women who inspire us with their beauty, intelligence, style and passions” will “share their thoughts on everything that inspires and interests them, from their work to travel, fashion, humor and relationships.” Women We Love will premiere Tuesday, November 19 at 8 PM ET, produced by Wilshire Studios with Jennifer Lane serving as executive producer.
EXCLUSIVE: In its second deal of the festival, A24 is closing U.S. rights for a bit more than $1 million on Under The Skin, the Jonathan Glazer-directed atmospheric thriller that stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien who preys on hitchhikers, who get a one-way ticket to her planet. Nick Wechsler and James Wilson produced it and Walter Campbell wrote the script. The film premiered Monday at the Princess Of Wales and talks went on through last night. A24 made the fest’s first deal with an acquisition of Locke. CAA and WME repped the title.
Sexy Beast helmer Jonathan Glazer‘s latest film, Under The Skin, had its official screening in Venice tonight. The tale of an alien traveling around Scotland in human form stars Scarlett Johansson. The movie next heads to Toronto, and FilmNation has international sales. Here’s the first official clip: