Ongoing social movements across Brazil have led to the cancellation of Brad Pitt‘s trip to the country in support of World War Z. Protests have been raging for the past week in the South American nation over issues including a hike in public transport fares, political corruption and what’s seen as excessive spending in advance of next year’s World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Olympics. Pitt and director Marc Forster were understood to be due in Rio for a screening of the film today, but Paramount issued a statement saying, “In light of the current and ongoing events taking place in Brazil, we will not proceed with red carpet arrivals” for the film. Paramount said it will instead “offer fans of the film a screening of the movie.” The studio added, “Everyone involved with World War Z send their respect and goodwill toward the people of Brazil at this time of national unrest.”
‘World War Z’ Helmer Marc Forster Reflects On Watching His Zombie Movie Get Fed Through The Gossip Woodchipper
When Marc Forster was a kid, he was fascinated by how a collective swarming movement made everything from ants to cancer cells more potent. Those images informed the depiction of the hordes of zombies in World War Z. It had never occurred to Forster that the same phenomenon could happen to his movie. Unsubstantiated reports about overruns, creative clashes and re-shoots cropped up and then mutated and spread virally on the web. It got to the point where the question was no longer would WWZ work, but how cataclysmic a failure it might be. That began turning around when Paramount began showing the film, and it’s not a big factor as the film opens today. But what was it like for a director to get caught in such an unprecedented media maelstrom, a lot of which was based on some truth, and some inaccurate or exaggerated reporting?
“I never went through anything like that, not on Quantum Of Solace, not on anything,” Forster said during a break from promoting WWZ in Russia. “I would read that Brad Pitt and I had no communication, and we would look at each other and say, where could this come from? Is somebody just making up these stories? When articles like those come out and start spreading, it causes you to take a look at yourself, but the thing is, I never doubted the movie, or my own intuition. So few original things get made on this scale. This isn’t a sequel, it isn’t based on a superhero in a comic book. We saw it as an opportunity to take a genre and create something new and unique within it. That challenge excites me, but uniqueness always comes with criticism. As a filmmaker, all you can do is hope you get to the point where people feel as excited and as passionate about the film as you felt making it. Sure, we felt like the media wanted the project to fail, but we knew what we had, and we felt it would work. Then came the first preview, and the movie played like gangbusters.”
Brad Pitt, opening this weekend in World War Z, has issued a statement on the passing of James Gandolini at age 51. They starred together, along with Julia Roberts in the Gore Verbinski-directed The Mexican, a movie that came along just as Gandolfini was watching his star rise because of The Sopranos. More recently they starred in Killing Them Softly, and they also appeared in the Tony Scott-directed True Romance, in which Pitt played a small but memorable role as a stoner.
“I admire Jimmy as a ferocious actor, a gentle soul and a genuinely funny man,” Pitt said. “I am fortunate to have sat across the table from him and am gutted by this loss. I wish his family strength and some semblance of peace.”
Not sure how last night’s Late Night skit with Jimmy Fallon ties into Brad Pitt’s World War Z, the Paramount tentpole that comes out Friday. Maybe Pitt is stumping for a role in Les Miserables 2?
Plenty of people harrumphed Wednesday when George Lucas told a crowd that “going to the movies will cost 50 bucks or 100 or 150 bucks” in the future. Well, one day later that has become a reality. Well, sort of. Paramount said Thursday that it will offer the film world’s first “mega ticket” for an advance screening of the Brad Pitt zombie actioner World War Z in five Regal theaters around the US. For $50 — that’s a $75 value, mind you — a moviegoer with said golden ticket from Fandango gets admission to the June 19 3D showing of the flick, a download or stream of the film when it’s released on home video, custom 3D glasses, a limited-edition official movie poster and a small popcorn. (What, no soda?) The offer is good at megaplexes in Irvine, San Diego, Houston, Atlanta and Philadelphia. Maybe it’d be wise to invest that $50 in some serious running shoes in case those mega-speedy WWZ zombies really do attack.
Brad Pitt and Plan B Entertainment President Dede Gardner said today that Jeremy Kleiner is upped to Co-President of the busy production company. “Jeremy Kleiner has played an immeasurable role in the success of this company,” said Pitt in a statement. “This promotion is long overdue. We are happy to make it official.” Along with Pitt and Gardner, Kleiner produced Plan B’s upcoming World War Z, which stars Pitt and is being released by Paramount on June 21. He is also a producer on Plan B’s Twelve Years A Slave, directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, and Paul Giamatti, which will be released by Fox Searchlight on December 27. With Gardner, Kleiner oversees Plan B’s development and production slate. He joined Plan B in 2003 and rose through the ranks from Creative Executive to Producer and now Co-President.
Kleiner also is a producer on True Story from New Regency which is directed by Rupert Goold and stars Jonah Hill and James Franco. Kleiner is also an Executive Producer of Plan B and Brillstein Entertainment Partners’ ABC/ABC Studios pilot, Resurrection, and on Plan B productions Kick-Ass, Eat Pray Love, and The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee. He previously worked as a creative executive at Dick and Lauren Shuler Donner’s company before joining Plan B.
UPDATE: Summer 2013 has many budget busting blockbusters. But also problems that have plagued some during pre-production, filming, and post-production. Not since John Carter and Battleship has a big-budget movie received more advance negative press for its production woes than World War Z, the Marc Forster-directed adaptation of the Max Brooks zombie-apocalypse novel that stars and is produced by Brad Pitt. I was shown the movie, but not in its 3D format, weeks before its June 21 release. And each time the response from industry insiders was a version of, “Well, just how bad is it?” Paramount with these select screenings has just begun the daunting campaign of rehabilitating the film’s battered image. According to Vice Chairman Rob Moore, the studio spent $15M-$20M and 25 shooting days to make WWZ significantly better. Yet the reward has been worse advance buzz than if Paramount had kept its wallet shut and quietly released the inferior original. I don’t know if I would have penned this post had I hated the movie, but I consider myself a connoisseur of zombie fare, and this stacks up very favorably. I’m no reviewer, but I can honestly say that WWZ is better than good; try a rocking, smart, pulse-pounding big-scale pandemic with raging zombies, palpable tension, and the kind of hero star turn Pitt hasn’t performed in a long time.
You know things are bad when your star mouths off about a troubled film before it even opens. His complaints well into production were made to fill-in fixer Damon Lindelof who blurted them out in turn. Scripting issues crippled the globetrotting zombie pic from the get-go. J. Michael Straczynski’s first script was scrapped. Matthew Carnahan’s subsequent version deviated from the source novel by Max Brooks. Fans were alarmed at the prospective story changes. Then filming got underway for director Marc Forster before an ending was set – and Pitt wound up hating what was shot, preferring the project’s early geopolitical bent to the action thriller slant. The film’s initial ending was abrupt and incoherent, Lindelof told Vanity Fair, and an initial studio screening supposedly left suits in shock. “It was like, ‘Wow, the ending of our movie doesn’t work,” publicly admitted Paramount President of Production Marc Evans. “I believed in that moment we needed to reshoot the movie.” So how many hot screenwriters did it take to finish a zombie movie? Paramount turned to Lindelof to fix the pic, but the job was so big he brought in Drew Goddard. Christopher McQuarrie was tapped for even more re-writes. Reshoots skyrocketed the budget to a reported $200M, though Paramount insists they contained it. Already filmed scenes set in Russia and Budapest as well as a battle scene were chopped as crew shot 40 additional minutes for a new conclusion with reshoots that went on for a reported 7 weeks. Meanwhile a budgeting nightmare unfolded when crew wrapping the Malta set discovered millions in unpaid purchase orders forgotten in a drawer. Given the behind-the-scenes mayhem, negative early fan reactions to World War Z‘s fast-moving CG zombie swarms were the least of Paramount’s worries.
That solidly detailed Vanity Fair article created major blowback this month. It grew worse after a widely circulated flop prognostication by Wall Street analyst Doug Creutz of Cowen and Company (even though he hadn’t seen the film). “In the Vanity Fair article, we were forthcoming about the production and creative problems and how we solved them and ended up with a movie that plays great and is likely to be a global hit,” Moore told me. “The thing that really led to more negative stories was the insanity of this Cowen and Company analyst report, written by a guy who hadn’t seen the movie, the footage we showed at ShoWest, or gotten any pre-summer tracking. He just comes off the mountain top to make a prediction based on nothing, and because he’s got the letters CFA after his name, people think he must know what he is talking about, which is preposterous.”
Moore told me that chasing a fix on WWZ was the ballsiest bet like this made since he has been at Paramount. “It was no question one of the toughest decisions we’ve made as a group, but knowing what we know now, it was absolutely the right decision,” he said. He figures the release delay and extra work that went into G.I. Joe led to $100 million in extra ticket sales worldwide, and he believes WWZ will deliver an even bigger payoff. It would just be nice to see a little more understanding among the media and Wall Street analysts, to recognize that just because a film has problems during the process of production, that doesn’t mean it’s doomed.
“When you draw attention to yourself by acknowledging you have a problem you’re trying to fix, it becomes sport to the media to pick on you,” he said. “It becomes hard to say, ‘We don’t care about the short-term publicity hit, what we care about is making the best movie.’ The political pressure against you becomes great and can make it seem like it’s better to leave it alone. Here, that pressure was even bigger because it is Brad Pitt, and because of the size of the solution. But I’m telling you right here, it was definitely the right call. We now have the best version of this movie, and people will see that soon.”
EXCLUSIVE: Logan Lerman is joining Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf in Fury, the WWII tank thriller that David Ayer wrote and is directing for QED and Sony Pictures. Lerman will play Norman Ellison, an Army typist and the youngest and most inexperienced member of the crew who is thrust into being a tank gunner.
Sony Pictures won the right to distribute domestically and in most of the world, with some territories belonging to QED, whose Bill Block took a big risk by paying $1 million for Ayer’s spec, and then watched it pay off quickly when Pitt committed to the $80 million film. QED will produce with John Lesher and his Le Grisbi Productions banner. Ethan Smith, Block and Lesher are producing and they are eyeing a fall production start. The action takes place in 1945 as the Nazi regime collapses and the five-man crew of an American tank called Fury battles a desperate German army.
CinemaCon kicked off tonight at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with a presentation from Paramount. In only its 3rd year, what used to be ShoWest is proving to have the magic touch as once again all the major studios plus Lionsgate will be doing dog and pony shows for the nation’s exhibitors before the confab ends on Thursday. Paramount and its Vice Chairman Rob Moore were first and offered the theater owners a slickly produced and very quick reel of upcoming product, along with extended looks at its hoped-for summer blockbusters Star Trek Into Darkness and World War Z, as well as a complete screening of Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain which opens next week.
With director J.J. Abrams stuck in L.A. still mixing the film to make its May 17 release date, Star Trek sequel writer/producer Damon Lindelof (Lost) filled in and interviewed cast members on hand including CinemaCon’s Male Star Of The Year Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Alice Eve and John Cho. Pine talked about the “vulnerability” of Kirk in this installment, while Quinto emphasized Mr. Spock’s previously not-fully-explored “emotional” side. Quinto also said it was the most physical of the Trek films at least for him. The 18 minutes of footage shown in 3D certainly confirmed that, with hair-raising scenes set in a volcano, underwater, and for a sequence where Kirk …
UPDATE: Sony Pictures has confirmed Deadline’s scoop that it captured the Brad Pitt WWII tank movie Fury from Bill Block’s QED. The release is at the bottom of our original break on the story.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 4:42 PM PDT: Sony Pictures will emerge from a big auction with the rights on Fury, the David Ayer-directed WWII tank drama that will star Brad Pitt. This is all just unfolding, and I’m told that Sony and Universal Pictures were the big players for this film. It was shopped by Bill Block’s QED, who bought the Ayer spec for $1 million, and then got a Pitt commitment that made this the hottest project in town. I’ve heard that the budget will be $80 million plus and that QED retains some territories plus a gross position for the company and for Pitt.
Fury is a WWII script by the End Of Watch writer-director, and QED will produce with John Lesher and his Le Grisbi Productions banner. Ethan Smith, Block and Lesher are producing and they are eyeing a fall production start. The action takes place in 1945 as the Nazi regime collapses and the five-man crew of an American tank called Fury battles a desperate German army. Ayer and QED reteam after the action thriller Ten, which Ayer directed and which stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington and Mireille Enos. Open Road will release it next January. Lesher produced Ayer’s End Of …
EXCLUSIVE: Brad Pitt is in final negotiations to star in Fury, the David Ayer-directed drama that will start production in September. This is the Ayer script that Bill Block‘s QED International paid $1 million to acquire back in February. It was QED’s biggest spec deal ever, and when an indie company hooks a star like Pitt, it’s money well spent. Fury is a WWII script by the End Of Watch writer-director, and QED will produce with John Lesher and his Le Grisbi Productions banner. Ethan Smith, Block and Lesher are producing and they are eyeing a fall production start. QED is selling foreign.
The action takes place in 1945 as the Nazi regime collapses and the five-man crew of an American tank called Fury battles a desperate German army. Ayer and QED reteam after the action thriller Ten, which Ayer directed and which stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington and Mireille Enos. Open Road will release it next January. Lesher produced Ayer’s End Of Watch. Pitt most recently starred in and produced World War Z, but he’s back in the WWII territory of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.
Paramount just released a new trailer for the movie based on the Max Brooks bestseller adapted by Matthew Michael Carnahan, according to the iTunes landing page. After being moved out of December 2012 for extensive reshoots with a new ending crafted by Drew Goddard with input from Damon Lindelof — plus at least two trailers later, World War Z looks a lot more interesting. What do you think?
ABC made a late charge on the pilot pickup front to end what will likely be the busiest day this season. (For full list of all broadcast pilots, click here.) The network has given the green light to comedy Pulling, from Bad Teachers scribes Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky and producer Aaron Kaplan. On the drama side, picked up are dramas Betrayal from David Zabel; Venice from McG and Byron Balasco, with McG set to direct; and The Returned, from writer Aaron Zelman, Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Single-camera comedy Pulling is based on the praised 2006 British series. Eisenberg and Stupnitsky wrote the adaptation, produced by ABC Studios and Kapital Entertainment. Sharon Horgan and Dennis Kelly, creators of the original series, executive produce with Eisenberg, Stupnitsky and Kaplan. Pulling revolves around three dysfunctional women in their 30s living their lives the way they want, even if society tells them they should have it all figured out by this point. This marks the second pilot order for Kaplan today, joining CBS’ Dana Klein comedy, and third so far this season, along with NBC’s The Gates.
EXCLUSIVE: Brad Pitt is circling the title role in Warner Bros‘ Pontius Pilate, the drama about one of history’s most vilified figures. The studio acquired a script by Woman On Top scribe Vera Blasi with Mark Johnson producing through his Gran Via banner. Pitt is not committed, but it could well move that way quickly.
I revealed this project last summer, when the studio acquired Blasi’s script. I got hold of a draft and it’s very strong stuff and has the makings of a compelling period big budget film. This script follows the evolution of Lucius Pontius Pilate from the sensitive son of a Roman Knight into a ferocious soldier whose warrior exploits make him a general and puts him on a political track under the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Promised a military governorship in Egypt, Pilate is instead assigned by Tiberius to become the prefect of Judea, at a time when Jerusalem was a cauldron of religious tensions between various factions of the Jewish faith. Pilate veers from the political fast track into the express lane to hell and historical infamy. Rather than a straight ahead Biblical film, Blasi’s script reads almost like a Biblical era Twilight Zone episode in which a proud, capable Roman soldier gets in way over his head. His arrogance and inability to grasp the devoutness of the citizenry and its hatred …
Brad Pitt’s ‘Killing Them Softly’ Dies With ‘F’ CinemaScore As Twilight Saga, James Bond, And ‘Lincoln’ Dominate Box Office Yet Again
SUNDAY 7:30 AM, 3RD UPDATE: No change in the three top movies’ order at the domestic box office: Summit Entertainment’s Twilight Saga finale Breaking Dawn Part 2 is #1 for the third weekend in a row, the Eon Productions/MGM/Sony Pictures’ James Bond actioner Skyfall is a close #2, and Steven Spielberg’s Oscar buzzed Lincoln from DreamWorks/Fox/Disney is #3. It was a lean Friday but a fat Saturday. Ben Affleck’s Academy Awards-touted Argo crossed the $100M benchmark this weekend. While during the week, Wall Street called DreamWorks Animation’s Rise Of The Guardians “one of the most disappointing releases in the company’s history” – enough to hurt the public company’s share price. Analysts who expected to see $55M-$58M for the toon over Thanksgiving – not $32.6M - join Hollywood in still struggling to understand why audiences rejected the film. Toon is probably all in at just $80M.
Traditionally the weekend after Thanksgiving gives new definition to the term ‘quiet’. I’m told it’s failed to produce a wide release hit for 20 years and counting. So there were low expectations for producer Brad Pitt‘s R-rated ruthless star turn in Killing Them Softly (2,424 theaters) from his Plan B production company and Oracle heiress Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures which financed it for $15M. But Friday night it received a miserable ‘F’ CinemaScore from audiences despite decent reviews and a stellar cast including Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, and James Gandolfini. Little wonder that distributor …
Here’s the latest trailer for writer-director Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, based on George V. Higgins’ novel Cogan’s Trade. Brad Pitt stars as a mob enforcer/hit man in The Weinstein Company release that opens November 30th. The movie also features Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins and James Gandolfini:
After closing down the New York Film Festival on Sunday night with the Robert Zemeckis-directed Flight, Paramount chief Brad Grey and production topper Adam Goodman hung around Gotham for an extra day to show a promo reel from its slate through 2014.
Flanking Grey in the Paramount screening room at 15125 Broadway were Flight helmer Robert Zemeckis and David Chase, the Sopranos creator whose feature film debut Not Fade Away (see the trailer here) was part of a reel that included another Transformers and the Star Trek sequel (they showed JJ Abrams’ appearance on Conan O’Brien, where the ultra-secretive JJ was eager to show three frames of Star Trek Into Darkness, a humorous aside because you couldn’t see a thing). There was Jack Reacher with Tom Cruise who, despite being nearly a foot shorter and 100 pounds lighter than the hulking hero of Lee Child’s book, capably kicks ass in the launch of yet another franchise, with another Mission: Impossible clearly in the offing. There was the G.I. Joe sequel, pushed to next year and now in 3D and built around Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis. And the relaunch of the Jack Ryan franchise with Star Trek‘s Chris Pine, who just signed with CAA and seems an agency’s ultimate catch since he will soon be on firm footing headlining two big franchises.