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CinemaCon: Universal’s Sequel Machine Pays Off With Exhibitors

Pete Hammond

It was Universal Pictures’ turn in the spotlight this morning as Chairman Adam Fogelson served up a look at the studio’s sequel-packed summer slate and a summary of the studio’s 2012 hits and even big miss Battleship. He announced sequels in varying stages of development: Snow White And The Huntsman (for a targeted 2015 date), Ted, Bourne Legacy, and also for 2015 another Pitch Perfect, that sleeper which earned $110 million worldwide and has become the 4th biggest digital download in history. But clearly the studio’s biggest franchise news - thinking audiences can’t get enough of a good thing – was star/producer Vin Diesel’s announcement that the cast will return for a 7th Fast & Furious with a release date already set for July 11, 2014. Marketing honcho Michael Moses told me afterwards that the 7th film will go into production with new director James Wan in August right after the cast finishes up its worldwide promotions for #6. For such a stunt driven movie, 11 months is not much time and sets it up for an imposing ‘fast and furious’ schedule. In fact these things go so down to the wire that #6 director Justin Lin couldn’t be in Vegas to join the cast (including Paul Walker and Michelle Rodriguez) and producer Neal H. Moritz on stage to talk up the new film for the pumped theater owners. Moritz said he’s been darting between London, Vancouver … Read More »

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Emmett/Furla Pacts To Make Three Films Based On Hasbro Properties

By | Thursday October 4, 2012 @ 11:38am PDT
Mike Fleming

Emmett/Furla Films will finance and co-produce three films based on Hasbro properties in the next two years. The deal was announced today by co-founders Randall Emmett & George Furla and Hasbro’s Senior Vice President and head of Hasbro Films, Bennett Schneir. Emmett/Furla and Hasbro will co-produce with Brandon Grimes; Envision Entertainment’s Stepan Martisoyan and Remington Chase and Emmett/Furla will co-finance.  First up will be Monopoly, which they hope to get into production next year. Hasbro’s last overall deal was at Universal, which made Battleship with them. The studio scrapped plans to do several other Hasbro films, some of which have been set up elsewhere. Read More »

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Universal Surpasses 2008 To Set Best Domestic Box Office Year Ever

By | Tuesday September 25, 2012 @ 9:53am PDT
Mike Fleming

Despite the rumors that Comcast had conversations with Stacey Snider and possibly Tom Rothman to take a top post at the studio, and despite the summer disappointment of Battleship, Universal Pictures has just set its best-ever result for North American box office with $1.128 billion. That beats the $1.127 billion set in 2008. Buoyed by hits like Ted, the studio will likely also beat its worldwide ticket sales record as well. It has four movies still to be released: Pitch Perfect, in wide release on October 5; the action-thriller The Man With The Iron Fists on November 2; Judd Apatow’s This Is 40, on December 21; and Les Misérables, on December 25. The films that Universal has released so far this year are: Contraband, Big Miracle, Safe House, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Wanderlust, American Reunion, The Five Year Engagement, Battleship, Snow White And The Huntsman, Ted, Savages and The Bourne Legacy. The studio is number four in box office share behind Warner Bros (22 films), Sony a(21) and Disney with 13 films. Read More »

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Comcast Chief: NBCU Earnings Torpedoed By ‘Battleship’ And ‘Five-Year-Engagement’

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told investors this morning that financial results at NBCUniversal — his 51/49 joint venture with General Electric — could be “flat, slightly down” this quarter due to disappointments at Universal Studios. “This year we have an unfortunate large miss in Battleship and The Five-Year Engagement,” he said at the Sanford C. Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference. Aside from the flops, the business is “where we expected.” But the results are head spinning following a strong Q1, with NBCU’s operating cash flow +34.3% with help from Safe House and Dr Seuss’ the Lorax. “We told everybody, don’t get used to that,” Roberts says. Elsewhere in NBCU, Roberts says that NBC’s “Bob Greenblatt is chipping away at a turnaround” for the broadcast network, while the cable networks “are great.” This summer’s Olympics in London probably won’t contribute to the bottom line, though. Comcast already accounted for the deal as an “unfavorable contract,” although Roberts says that “the Olympics haven’t begun yet so it’s all ratings dependent.” He hopes the games will “get to break even or better over the next decade” as NBCU increases showings on cable. Although Roberts initially said that there was no big surprise from the NBCU acquisition last year, he says he was startled to see “how steady the cash flow appears to be from the theme parks” with crowds flocking to Orlando’s The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter and the Transformers ride in Los Angeles. So … Read More »

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BOMBS AWAY! ‘Battleship’ Sinks To $25.3M Torpedoed By Still Strong ‘Avengers’; Lame ‘What To Expect’ Behind Limp ‘The Dictator’

By | Saturday May 19, 2012 @ 9:31pm PDT

May 18-20 Weekend Actuals

1. Marvel’s The Avengers (Disney) Week 3 [4,249 Runs] PG13
Friday $15.2M, Saturday $23.6M, Sunday $16.8M Weekend $55.6M (-46%), Cume $457.7 M

2. Battleship (Universal) NEW [3,690 Runs] PG13
Friday $8.8M, Saturday $9.7M, Sunday $7.0M Weekend $25.5M

3. The Dictator (Paramount) NEW-Wed [3,008 Runs] R
Friday $5.7M, Saturday $6.7M, Sunday $5.1M, Weekend $17.4M, Cume $24.5M

4. Dark Shadows (Warner Bros) Week 2 [3,755 Runs] PG13
Friday $3.8M, Saturday $5.3M, Sunday $3.5M, Weekend $12.6M (-58%), Cume $50.7M

5. What To Expect When You’re Expecting (Lionsgate) NEW [3,021 Runs] PG13
Friday $3.8M, Saturday $4.1M, Sunday $2.6M, Weekend $10.5M

6. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight) Week 3 [354 Runs] PG13
Friday $873K, Saturday $1.4M, Sunday $1M, Weekend $3.2M (+21%), Cume $8.2M

7. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) Week 9 [2,064 Runs] PG13
Friday $824K, Saturday $1.3M, Sunday $855K, Weekend $3.0M (-35%), Cume $392M

8. Think Like A Man (Screen Gems/Sony) Week 5 [1,722 Runs] PG13
Friday $807K, Saturday $1.2M, Sunday $678K Weekend $2.7M (-54%), Cume $85.8M

9. The Lucky One (Warner Bros) Week 5 [2,055 Runs] PG13
Friday $598K, Saturday $733K, Sunday $447K Weekend $1.8M (-57%), Cume $56.9M

10. Pirates! Band Of Misfits (Aardman/Sony) Week 4 [1,840 Runs] PG
Friday $353K, Saturday $652K, Sunday $573K Weekend $1.6M (-50%), Cume $25.5M

SUNDAY AM, 7TH UPDATE: These official Friday, Saturday, and weekend numbers for North America are way worse than anyone expected. Every film tanked except Marvel’s The Avengers which keeps sucking all the air out of the box office for … Read More »

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Hot Clip: Universal’s ‘Battleship’

By | Tuesday May 1, 2012 @ 1:49pm PDT

This new Battleship clip debuted last night on MTV and is the latest push from Universal ahead of the tentpole’s May 18 release in the U.S. Overseas, the Peter Berg-helmed big-budget actioner starring Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson and Rihanna finished its third weekend in open waters and has a $170.9 million gross so far.

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‘Battleship’ Slows To $170.9M Overseas

By | Monday April 30, 2012 @ 3:39pm PDT

Battleship Box OfficePeter Berg’s military vs aliens actioner from Universal moved into its 3rd weekend of international release and grossed an estimated $22.5M at 9,604 dates in 50 territories. That now brings the international total grosses for Battleship to $170.9M. Or, to put it in perspective, still less than what Marvel’s The Avengers from Disney made in its first 5 days of release in 39 territories last week. And with Russia and China and Japan still to come! Rival studios tell me that Battleship‘s foreign progress slowed considerably overseas because of The Avengers. But there was still some good news. Russia held at #1 for the second week in a row. In Japan, Battleship is the #1 English-language film for the 3rd week in a row. And China should do well on the Tuesday holiday May Day there and in Russia. The pic has 14 territories still to release — including Israel on May 3, South Africa on May 4 and Latin America starting on May 10 — until it opens in the U.S. and Canada on May 18. The studio set a strategy to open overseas first because of its advance bad buzz and very expensive budget. (The studio claims the cost was $209M.)

Related: Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ $185.1M Overseas: Continues Breaking Box Office Records

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Global Asylum Thanks Universal For ‘American Battleship’ Lawsuit

By | Friday April 27, 2012 @ 3:02pm PDT

American Battleship LawsuitUniversal Studios says Global Asylum stole their Battleship, but today the mockbuster producers claimed the studio’s copyright lawsuit over American Battleship is just a scapegoat smokescreen – but they “appreciate the publicity.”

“The Global Asylum has promoted the feature film American Battleship for nearly a year while Universal raised no concerns,” said Global Asylum today. “The timing of Universal’s recently filed lawsuit coincides with mixed reviews of its big-budget film, Battleship — the first movie based on a board game since Clue. Looking for a scapegoat, or more publicity, for its pending box-office disaster, the executives at Universal filed this lawsuit in fear of a repeat of the box office flop, John Carter of Mars. The Universal action is wholly without merit and we will vigorously defend their claims in Court. Nonetheless, we appreciate the publicity.” Read More »

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Universal Battles For Latino Audiences

By | Thursday April 26, 2012 @ 10:30pm PDT

In its continuing campaign to lure Latino audiences to its movies, Universal debuted a trailer specifically targeting this market titled Summer of Battles during tonight’s Billboard Latin Music Awards on Telemundo. The two-minute Spanish-English ad combines footage from the studio’s upcoming summer movies Battleship, Snow White And The Huntsman and Savages starring Latino favorites Salma Hayek, Benicio del Toro and Demian Bichir. The premise is “Three Intense Battles. One Spectacular Summer. Only in Theaters”.

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‘Battleship’ Past $100M Foreign Box Office

By | Saturday April 21, 2012 @ 2:07pm PDT

Peter Berg’s military vs aliens actioner from Universal Pictures made the milestone in its first 10 days of international release. Through this Sunday Battleship‘s first 12-day total should reach $126.7M in its first 10 days of international release. The pressure is on for the film to do well in the 50 territories where it’s now open — including China and Russia — because of its advance bad buzz and very expensive budget. (The studio claims the cost was $209M while outside sources say $250M.) Battleship doesn’t open in the U.S./Canada until May 18th because the studio set a strategy to open overseas first. This weekend it debuted in another 24 territories and should gross $56M for the weekend. It was #1 opener in 16 territories this week bringing the film’s total Number One openings overseas to 37 in the last two weeks:

– It opened #1 in Russia Thursday with $2.1 million and dominated the box office there with 78% of market share.  Friday’s gross is $2.2M with a 2-day total estimate of $4.3M (LC 126.4M) — better than both Thor and Iron Man but also helped by a big theater-building push there.

– In Ukraine, Battleship also opened to #1 and was Universal’s biggest opener in history in that territory.

– In China, Battleship gave Universal its largest opening in history on Wednesday where the film grossed $3M on opening day and has gone on to make $8.2M (LC50M) in three days — more than Fast Five (LC43M).

– … Read More »

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Global B.O. Gets Big Boost From ‘Titanic 3D’, ‘Battleship’, ‘Hunger Games’

Battleship Box OfficeUPDATE: Titanic 3D gross now stands at $190M for all international territories through Wednesday. China’s is just over $85M. Pic should cross $200M for foreign on Friday and $100M in China alone on Saturday.

11 AM: The importance of the international box office for Hollywood has never been more evident than in these weeks leading up to the official May 1st start of the summer movie season. Universal’s 2D Battleship doesn’t open in the U.S. until May 18th but it’s having another strong week at the overseas box office where its month-early debut in 28 international territories and China now bring the film’s total worldwide estimate to $72.2M and close to $100M through Sunday. Pic now opens in 24 territories. Russia opens today and early estimates predict $2.1M for the day (equal to Fast Five‘s opening day). The film released in China Wednesday and grossed an estimated $3 million on its first day for the studio’s best opener in that country (ahead of Fast Five‘s $1.7M first day which was also a Wednesday).

But that didn’t close to Fox’s massive 6-day opening weekend for Titanic 3D in China for the biggest industry opening ever. Its $67M swamped Paramount’s Transformers 3 ($56M) debut there last summer. The overall international first-weekend gross for Titanic 3D was $98.9M, putting the re-release cume-to-date at $157.1M. That’s a new record for a 3D release. That speeded the worldwide lifetime total over over $2B (including the global box office from the 1997/1998 … Read More »

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‘Battleship’ Builds $58M Foreign War Chest

By | Saturday April 14, 2012 @ 8:31am PDT

SATURDAY AM,  2ND UPDATE: Universal’s Battleship continues to screen strongly overseas with estimates from Day 2 and Day 3 bringing the 72-hour total to $58 million with all 26 international territories now open. Director Peter Berg’s military vs alien actioner opened to #1 in 24 of those new territories. Battleship opens next weekend in 24 more international territories including China (April 18) and Russia (April 19) — but not in the U.S./Canada until May 18th:

– The UK opened #1 on Friday with an estimated $1.3M (£770). That’s ahead of Thor but ahead of Wrath Of The Titans and John Carter. The total with previews is $3.7M (£2.3M).

– Spain opened #1 with an estimated $900k (€681k), better than Iron Man.

– Germany opened #1 on Thursday with $900K, which is the biggest opening for an English language film in Germany this year. It continued #1 on Friday with $1.2M, equal to Iron Man but not as big as Transformers.

– Japan opened #1 with an estimated $900k (LC 72M), higher than Thor‘s opening day.

– Thailand opened #1 with $470K, which is the biggest opening day of 2012 and Universal’s 2nd biggest opening day ever (behind only Fast Five).

– Malaysia opened #1 with $390K, which is Universal’s biggest opening day of all time.

– Korea had another strong day and Battleship remains #1 with a three-day total of $4.2M (LC 4.7M) — better than Iron Man and Thor.

Read More »

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Hot Footage: ‘Battleship’

By | Friday April 6, 2012 @ 5:17pm PDT
Mike Fleming

In addition to the better trailers for Universal’s summer tentpole Battleship, here’s some footage of the aliens in the film attacking a military base. Is it me or has the available footage graduated from a ‘WTF?’ reaction of the first and second trailer to, ‘This is a pretty cool global alien movie?’ Though I still don’t get what it has to do with the Hasbro board game.

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TOLDJA! Universal Confirms Promotional Partners For ‘Battleship’

By | Tuesday March 27, 2012 @ 4:00am PDT

Early last month I revealed that Universal Pictures was putting together $50 million in promotional partnerships to back its $200 million Peter Berg-directed film Battleship. The studio has issued a release today formalizing the arrangements, with the specific brands I identified in the original story. Below that is a Pete Berg-directed ad for Coca-Cola Zero that first aired during the NCAA Basketball tournament:

 LOS ANGELES, CA, March 27, 2012—Universal Partnerships & Licensing (UP&L) today announced it has partnered with some of the world’s most well-known brands in a historic promotional campaign to support Universal Pictures’ epic action-adventure Battleship. Initiatives to promote the upcoming film from director Peter Berg (Hancock) include unprecedented partnerships with key national brands. Coke Zero, for instance, launched one of the brand’s biggest on-pack promotions with a Battleship-themed television spot, directed by Peter Berg, that debuted last week during the NCAA® Division I Men’s Basketball Championship*. Kraft’s Nabisco brand, will promote a Battleship-themed sweepstakes on more than 10-million packages nationwide and SUBWAY® Restaurants will feature Battleship-themed materials in all of its 24,800 stores nationwide with a fully integrated campaign launching April 15, including national television support. The announcement was made by Stephanie Sperber, President, Universal Partnerships & Licensing.

Along with Coke Zero, Kraft and SUBWAY® Restaurants, partners include Chevron ExtraMile, Cisco, Hilton, Nestlé Confections & Snacks, the U.S. Navy, and the United Service Organization (USO). Partners are

Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Battleship’

By | Tuesday March 13, 2012 @ 8:48am PDT
Mike Fleming

Universal has released its third trailer for Battleship, the Peter Berg-directed summer tentpole based on the Hasbro board game. The studio hopes this megabudget Taylor Kitsch-starrer hits the target better than did last weekend’s John Carter, which will result in a “you sunk my battleship”-type torpedo blow to Disney’s financial ledger. Universal opens Battleship May 18 in the U.S. and Canada. By then it will have earned some gross overseas, where it opens April 11. Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker and Rihanna also star. This trailer gives the latter some face time. The film certainly looks like it has a global calamity scale, and Berg has brought back not only his Friday Night Lights fixtures Tim Riggins (Kitsch), but also Landry Clarkie (Jesse Plemons). Texas forever!

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‘Battleship’ Recruits $50M In Promotional Partnerships: Universal’s Big Bet Paying Off

EXCLUSIVE: Ever since Universal announced its $200M budget buster Battleship, this sci-fi action adaptation of the Hasbro naval strategy board game has been a big question mark around Hollywood. Now, with just two months before the movie opens overseas in April and then a month later in the U.S./Canada, I’ve learned that Universal has hedged its bet. The studio has secured promotional partnerships amounting to $50 million for TV, print, and online advertising as well as the value of in-store packaging. And that doesn’t even count the cross-company synergy effort within Comcast whose home-owned inventory won’t be charged against actual cost. What’s even more important is that these promotional partnerships have come in response to the studio’s pitch to Madison Avenue for Battleship, with director Peter Berg screening 20 to 30 minutes of footage for partners and exhibitors across the globe. And the feeling is that, if the ad people like it and the theatre owners like it, then the moviegoers may not be too far behind. That’s certainly what Universal Studios COO Ron Meyer, Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson, and Universal Pictures Co-Chair Donna Langley are holding their breath for. One moment of relief: I’ve confirmed that Comcast chief Brian Roberts recently saw a rough-cut of the film and emerged “all smiles”. (NBCUniversal bigwig Steve Burke hasn’t screened it in its entirety yet.) Of course this is the fickle movie biz and the film could still flop.

Right now the average Hollywood studio’s marketing spend on a blockbuster is $70+M domestic and at least that for international. Some studios have been known to spend $200+M globally like when Sony Pictures introduced its new Bond, Daniel Craig. So adding another $50M is both a marketing  and branding booster. I’ve learned that Battleship‘s promotional partners include Coke Zero which has planned the largest global packaging promotion in its history as well as TV ad campaign. Also Cisco which has made its first-ever film partnership with Battleship. Subway has a large TV campaign and in-store promotion with the movie, and Kraft, Nestle, and Chevron are on board as well. Also both the U.S. Navy (whose actual sailors were used as extras) and the USO are using the movie to promote themselves.
Read More »

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TiVo: Hollywood’s Super Bowl Ads Low Ranked By Viewers

By | Monday February 6, 2012 @ 6:22am PST

Super Bowl Spot: ‘Star Wars 3D’
Super Bowl Spot: ‘Act Of Valor’

Super Bowl Spot: ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’
Super Bowl Spot: ‘John Carter’
Super Bowl Spot: ‘Battleship’
Super Bowl Spot: ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’
Super Bowl Sneak Peek: ‘The Dictator’

The DVR company can tell what Super Bowl-related ads its customers watched, and re-watched, last night. And movie studios fared poorly in this tally, once again. None of the Hollywood ads made the top 10. The top performer among the movie promos was the pre-game preview for Paramount’s The Dictator, which ranked 24th among all ads in and around the game. Disney’s The Avengers was next at No. 43, followed by Fox’s Star Wars in 3D (No. 48), Paramount’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation (No. 53), Universal’s minute-long spot for Battleship (No. 61), Relativity’s Act Of Valor (No. 66), Universal’s Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (No. 68), Disney’s John Carter (No. 75), and Universal’s Safe House (No. 100). What ads did viewers like? Nacho Cheese ranked No. 1 and No. 3 with its “Man’s Best Friend” and “Sling Baby” spots, and M&M’s “Ms Brown” came in second.

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Super Bowl Spot: ‘Battleship’

By | Sunday February 5, 2012 @ 4:13pm PST

Pete Berg’s ‘Battleship’ Attacks Super Bowl With 60-Second Spot

This is a new 60-second spot for Peter Berg’s Battleship, which opens internationally in April and in the U.S./Canada on May 18th. Liam Neeson, Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker and Rihanna star in this Universal sci-fi actioner written by Erich Hoeber and John Hoeber:

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Pete Berg’s ‘Battleship’ Attacks Super Bowl With 60-Second Spot

By | Friday February 3, 2012 @ 12:31pm PST
Mike Fleming

If Peter Berg has his way, by Sunday night the New York Giants will be Super Bowl champions and there will be a lot more enthusiasm for Battleship, thanks to a 60-second spot that Berg and Universal will unleash during the first quarter. The first teaser got a “WTF” reaction as it introduced an alien component to a nautical theme culled from the venerable board game. Berg tells me that the the new long spot will introduce “more effects, more story and a bit more humor. Universal has spent generously for this, to show our aim to deliver major summer entertainment. The scope of the film will be apparent in the Super Bowl spot.” Berg’s influence is all over the commercial, including his convincing Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello to come up with the music for a spot which the studio won’t debut until game time.

Berg, who’ll be at the game, actually helmed two other TV spots that will be shown during the big game: He directed one for the returning NBC show The Voice, and another for the NFL which shows what the league is doing to improve awareness in trying to prevent head and neck injuries suffered on the field. Read More »

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