Hot Clip: ‘World War Z’

By | Wednesday May 29, 2013 @ 5:37pm PDT

Paramount‘s ramping up their World War Z campaign with less than a month to go until the costly zombie actioner opens on June 21. (Read Mike Fleming on the troubled shoot, escalating budget, and Paramount’s campaign to spin gold from bad press here.) Check … Read More »

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Brad Pitt’s Plan B Banner Promotes Jeremy Kleiner To Co-President

By | Wednesday May 22, 2013 @ 3:18pm PDT

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 … Read More »

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Paramount Out To Prove Its Zombie ‘World War Z’ Doesn’t Stink

By | Sunday May 12, 2013 @ 6:59pm PDT
Mike Fleming

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.” Read More »

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Logan Lerman Shares A Tank With Brad Pitt

By | Wednesday May 1, 2013 @ 3:37pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVELogan 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. Read More »

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CinemaCon: Paramount Kicks Off ‘Star Trek’, Brad Pitt, Michael Bay At Convention

Pete Hammond

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 … Read More »

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UPDATE: Sony Pictures Confirms Deadline Scoop; Studio Wins Brad Pitt WWII Pic ‘Fury’ Auction

By | Wednesday April 10, 2013 @ 5:35pm PDT
Mike Fleming

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: … Read More »

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Brad Pitt To Star In David Ayer’s World War II Movie ‘Fury’

By | Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 1:32pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Brad PittEXCLUSIVE: 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.

David AyerThe 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. Read More »

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Hot New Trailer: ‘World War Z’

By | Monday March 25, 2013 @ 12:56am PDT

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 … Read More »

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ABC Picks Up Comedy ‘Pulling’, Dramas From McG, David Zabel & Brad Pitt

By | Tuesday January 22, 2013 @ 7:20pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

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. Read More »

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Brad Pitt Circling Biblical Epic Villain Turn In ‘Pontius Pilate’ At Warner Bros

By | Monday January 7, 2013 @ 5:49pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Brad Pitt is circling the title role in Warner BrosPontius 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 … Read More »

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Brad Pitt’s ‘Killing Them Softly’ Dies With ‘F’ CinemaScore As Twilight Saga, James Bond, And ‘Lincoln’ Dominate Box Office Yet Again

By | Sunday December 2, 2012 @ 3:30am PST

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 … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Killing Them Softly’

By | Wednesday November 21, 2012 @ 6:38pm PST

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:


Watch This Read More »

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Paramount Preview Reel: ‘WWZ,’ ‘Pain & Gain’ Big Surprises

By | Tuesday October 16, 2012 @ 8:03am PDT
Mike Fleming

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.

Related: Paramount’s Oscar Hopeful Takes ‘Flight’ With Bi-Coastal Interactive Launch

I have to say, the footage that was most surprisingly impressive was Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain, but most of all the much maligned World War Z with Brad Pitt. Read More »

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Toronto: Weinstein Co Pushes Brad Pitt Pic ‘Killing Them Softly’ Back Into Oscar Race

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Taking advantage of a sliver of daylight in the Oscar season release corridor, The Weinstein Company has moved from an October 19 to a November 30 release on Killing Them Softly, the Andrew Dominik-directed crime drama that … Read More »

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Disney Casts Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt Daughter As Young Princess

By | Wednesday August 22, 2012 @ 4:52pm PDT

This is one of those examples of convenient casting. Four-year-old Vivienne Jolie-Pitt will appearing in the Disney 3D live action movie Malificent starring her mother Angelina Jolie as the sorceress from the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. Vivienne, who is also Brad Read More »

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‘Bullhead’ Helmer Michael R. Roskam To Helm ‘The Tiger’ For Focus Features

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Michael R. Roskam, who got a Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar nomination last year for his Belgian film Bullhead, has been set by Focus Features to make his Hollywood feature helming debut with The Tiger, a drama … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Killing Them Softly’

By | Wednesday August 1, 2012 @ 6:48pm PDT

Here’s a new trailer for Killing Them Softly, written and directed by Andrew Dominik and starring Brad Pitt as a hitman. Based on the George V. Higgins novel Cogan’s Trade. The Weinstein Company release is scheduled to open October 19th:

Watch trailer on YouTube

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Comic-Con: Drew Goddard Scripts New Ending To Brad Pitt’s ‘World War Z’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: While reports had Damon Lindelof coming in to write a new ending to the Marc Forster-directed Brad Pitt-starrer World War Z, it actually was his Lost compadre Drew Goddard who did the bulk of the writing of the finale. Lindelof, who reworked Prometheus and co-wrote the Star Trek sequel, cracked a potential new ending of the film, but Lindelof didn’t have time to do the scripting so that task fell to Goddard, who most recently adapted Robopocalypse, which is Steven Spielberg’s next film at DreamWorks.

Related:‘World War Z’ Author, Movie Poster Maestro Drew Struzan Highlight Sunday Comic-Con

Both of those guys are off to other projects, so it’s quite possible that Paramount will tap another writer to punch up this ending — if the studio decides to use it. I’m hearing Christopher McQuarrie, whom the studio is high on after he adapted and directed Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher, based on the Lee Child novels. That isn’t set in stone because McQuarrie is Cruise’s go-to guy and he will be doing some script work on All You Need Is Kill, the Doug Liman-directed action film that Cruise will next star in after he completes Oblivion. So it is questionable whether he will be available or whether Paramount will need him. No date has been set for the reshoots that will be needed to implement the new ending, but insiders say Forster will be shooting those scenes. Read More »

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Cannes Podcast: Pete Hammond On ‘Lawless’, ‘Rust And Bone’ And More

Deadline’s Pete Hammond talks about hot festival movies such as (clockwise from top left) the superb Prohibition-era shoot-’em-up Lawless with Tom Hardy and Shia LeBeouf; Rust And Bone, with an awards-worthy star turn by Marion Cotillard, … Read More »

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