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Universal Has Best Year At Domestic Box Office With $1.352B And Counting

By | Monday November 18, 2013 @ 3:33pm PST

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA, November 18, 2013—Universal Pictures today announced that the studio has set a new record for its highest-grossing year ever at the North American box office with a total of $1.352 billion through Sunday. The previous record was set in 2012 with total grosses having reached $1.335 billion. The studio bested its previous international box office record ($1.794 billion/2012) in mid-August and the previous worldwide record ($3.129 billion/2012) in September. Universal’s total worldwide grosses to date are $3.49 billion.

Propelling Universal’s success at the North American box office this year were eight films that claimed the number one spot including: Mama ($71.6 million), Identity Thief ($134.5 million), Oblivion ($89.1 million), Fast & Furious 6 ($238.7 million), Despicable Me 2 ($365.9 million), The Purge ($64.5 million), 2 Guns ($75.6 million) and Riddick ($42 million). Identity Thief, Fast & Furious 6 and Despicable Me 2 each claimed the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office twice. Fast & Furious 6 was Universal’s top North American opening of 2013 ($117 million) and the second-highest domestic opening of the year (behind Iron Man 3). Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me 2 had the highest opening for an animated film in 2013 domestically ($83.5 million). In addition, Universal’s first micro-budget film under the studio’s production deal with Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions, The Purge, grossed more than ten times its $3 million production budget in its North American opening weekend and has gone on to gross $89.9 million worldwide.

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‘Despicable Me’ Minions Spinoff Pushed To July 10, 2015

By | Friday September 20, 2013 @ 10:27am PDT

Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s Minions in 3D will be released on July 10, 2015. It originally was slated for release on December 19, 2014. In addition, the release date for Illumination’s Untitled Project in 3D will move from July 3, 2015, to February 12, 2016. As of now, Minions has the July 10, 2015, date to itself. Oscar winner Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm lead the Minions voice cast in the pic that centers on the iconic characters introduced in the 2010 and 2013 films. The CG comedy adventure is produced by Illumination’s Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy and directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda Brian Lynch penned the screenplay. Chris Renaud serves as executive producer.

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Sandra Bullock To Voice Super-Villain In ‘Minions’ Spinoff For Illumination/Universal

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Playing against her America’s Sweetheart status, Sandra Bullock has been set to provide the lead villain voice in Minions, the Universal Pictures/Illumination Entertainment spinoff of the Despicable Me franchise. Bullock will voice Scarlet Overkill, a stylish bad-ass super-villain who is (what else?) bent on world domination. The 3D CG animated comedy has been set for release December 19, 2014.

The adorable yellow henchmen, who got their start in 2010′s Despicable Me, will be back this summer in the sequel. This spinoff establishes that Minions have existed since the beginning of time, in service of history’s most ambitiously evil villains. Through their lovable ineptitude, Minions have managed to thwart and ultimately destroy all of those bad guys. This story picks up in the 1960s, before they hench-ed for Gru. With no more super-villains  to serve, the Minions fall into a collective depression and three of them set out to seek a new evil master. They wind up at a villain convention, where they compete for the right to be henchmen for Scarlet Overkill, whose Audrey Hepburn-like high style appearance belies her world domination ambition and her aspirations to become the world’s first female super-villain. Read More »

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Illumination And Fuji TV Do Japanese Deal: ‘Despicable Me’ Minions For Fuji Logo

By | Wednesday September 5, 2012 @ 12:43am PDT

(SANTA MONICA, CA & TOKYO, JAPAN) September 5th, 2012 -Illumination Entertainment, creators of Universal Pictures’ Despicable Me and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, and Fuji  Television, Japan’s leading broadcast television network and film production company, today announced a strategic alliance in Japan. The deal brings together the creative expertise of Chris Meledandri, founder and CEO of Illumination, and Fuji Television’s Senior Executive Managing Director, Chihiro Kameyama. no immediate co-production plans on the table. The partnership will kick off in September 2012, when audiences will see the iconic Minion characters from Illumination’s hit film Despicable Me appear on the Fuji Television logo accompanying their theatrical release of Bayside Shakedown.

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Illumination And Universal Hatch ‘Despicable Me’ Spinoff About The Minions

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After coming right out of the gate with the animated hit Despicable Me and turning it into a sequel and a just-opened 3D theme park ride at Universal Studios Orlando, Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment has set an untitled feature spinoff based on The Minions as its fifth feature film with Universal. The adorable yellow-colored critters that began as henchmen for Groo in Despicable Me are now leading men (?) for a film Universal will release in 2014.

Despicable Me SequelThe film is an original story that will introduce new characters and reprise others that originated in Despicable Me, but the focus is on the antics of the yellow fellows as they interact with human characters. The script is already written by Brian Lynch, and Pierre Coffin will direct and Kyle Balda will co-direct. Coffin co-directed Despicable Me and is helming the sequel with Chris Renaud, and the two of them also do the voices for The Minions. Balda co-directed Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax with Renaud for Illumination. Read More »

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Big Media 3Q Corporate Earnings Roundup: Are CEOs Really Worried About Recession? Or Just Looking For Convenient Excuse?

Three months ago, when Big Media CEOs wrapped up their 2Q earnings, they were still relentlessly upbeat about the business. Any worries about the economy? Not then. But the messages they delivered over the past few weeks, as they discussed 3Q, were different. Although they’re still optimistic — remember, they’re paid to be salesmen — now and then you could hear expressions of concern about where things are headed. It stood out when Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman noted that “ad sales growth will face some headwinds.” Other CEOs who are known for speaking bluntly warned that other shocks may bedevil the business. For example, Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen said that his satellite company — and others in pay TV — have to fight harder against rising programming costs because “there’s a limit to the price increases that could be passed on to consumers.” Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt warned that premium channels such as HBO, Showtime and Starz “are clearly impacted by the economy as consumers try to cut back.” Either they’re genuinely worried, or they want a scapegoat to blame for things that are going bad, or may soon do so. Whatever the case, we can expect to hear a lot more about the economy when it’s time for the post-mortem on the all-important 4Q earnings.

As for industry performance matters, parents of movie studios had their usual mixed results to brag about or explain away: Time Warner benefitted from Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2. Viacom was up on Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. And News Corp beat its chest about Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and X-Men: First Class. But Disney’s Cars 2 was no match for last year’s Toy Story 3. Comcast’s Universal Pictures had nothing to compare to last year’s Despicable Me. Lionsgate suffered from Conan The Barbarian and Warrior. And DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 2 didn’t contribute as much in the quarter as Shrek Forever After did in the same period last year.

Over at the TV networks, Comcast’s NBC underperformed the Street’s already modest expectations. Execs at almost all the companies were eager to talk about the cash they expect to collect soon from political ads — as well as their favorite new ATM machines: retransmission consent deals and digital streamers including Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix. Speaking of Netflix, CEO Reed Hastings once again tried to reassure investors that he’s focused on “building back our reputation and brand strength” after his decision in July to slap a 60% price increase on customers who wanted to continue to rent DVDs and stream videos. In 3Q Netflix lost 57.7% of its market value and 800,000 subscribers. And since that customer loss was bigger than projected, Netflix shares continued to fall — they’re now down 67.3% since July 1.

Here are some other themes from the latest earnings reports:

Ad sales: They’s good, but for how long? Most television networks report that scatter prices are comfortably above the upfront market from this past summer. CBS chief Les Moonves says prices in 4Q are up by “mid-teens” on a percentage basis, while Discovery says it sees least high single digit percentages. But Disney’s Bob Iger noted that scatter prices have “slowed slightly these last few weeks.” Kurt Hall of National CineMedia — the leading seller of ads in movie theaters — was far more direct when he spoke to analysts after ratcheting down his company’s financial forecasts. “I’m sure that the broadcast and cable guys are sitting there now counting their lucky stars they got their upfront done before August,” he told analysts. “There’s a lot of uncertainty.” Read More »

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‘Despicable Me’ Becoming 2nd Biggest Toon Home Entertainment Release

EXCLUSIVE: This is the reason that Universal Studios president/COO Ron Meyer and his team trekked to Arkansas last week for a personal visit to the Wal-Mart headquarters. I’ve just learned that Universal’s first family film/toon unit from Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me made first-day sales on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital downloads of nearly $25 million Tuesday. What made the difference was the exclusive debut of three all-new mini-movies on the DVD Double Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and 3D Combo Pack starring the film’s wildly popular Minions. The mega-hit animated family comedy sold well over one million units to consumers (excluding rentals) in its first 24 hours of release and is poised to become the 2nd biggest-grossing animated home entertainment title of the year. The movie has already grossed $500+M in worldwide box office.

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OSCAR: The Awards Race Starts December

Pete Hammond

The controversial 38th International Animated Film Society’s Annie Awards announced their nominees for Best Animated Feature today:  Universal/Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me, DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon, Sony Pictures Classics’ The Illusionist, and Disney’s Tangled and Toy Story 3. What the official press release didn’t mention is that Disney/Pixar is boycotting the awards and refusing to participate due to complaints they have about the voting process among other things. Though the Annies nominated two Disney films in the top category as well as directing and writing for Toy Story 3 (how could they avoid it and maintain cred?), the group gave Disney and Pixar only 7 mentions. But the Annies showered 15 nominations on DWA’s Dragon and 39 nods overall that included films like Megamind and Shrek Forever After. It’s interesting that there was no mention of vote totals in the ASIFA-Hollywood release. Hmm. Something’s wrong in Toonville, and both Disney/Pixar and the Annies have some explaining to do.

“Hosted” screenings by notables not directly connected to the movies in contention for awards seem to be rampant these days. For instance, at the DGA in Hollywood, Sean Penn moderated a Q&A Sunday with his 21 Grams director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Javier Bardem (who received a standing ovation) after a screening of Biutiful. Similar screenings for that film have been moderated by the likes of Werner Herzog and Robert Benton with upcoming unspoolings hosted by Michael Mann and Alfonso Cuaron. The DGA has a long tradition of inviting other directors to interview contenders. Joel Coen recently talked up Sofia Coppola after Somewhere screened in NYC while Alexander … Read More »

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‘Despicable Me’ Crosses $500 Million Mark

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Despicable Me, the first film out of the gate for Universal Pictures and Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment, will cross the $500 million worldwide gross mark tomorrow. It steps into rarefied territory as the film continues to roll out around the world. The 3D animated film that starred Steve Carell recently cracked the Top 10 list of all time biggest domestic-grossing animated films. The pic, which cost $69 million to make, has grossed $248 million domestically, which puts it a distant second behind Toy Story 3, but makes it 2010′s second biggest animated film domestic grosser so far. Despicable Me also has become  Universal’s sixth highest domestic-grossing film ever, and the studio’s biggest international grossing film of 2010. The film just opened in Japan but hasn’t played yet in several territories including China. It has done $247 million overseas, and is expected to finish as Universal’s fifth all-time biggest grossing film in the international marketplace. Just as important, the picture pulled Universal out of a prolonged slump. Read More »

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OSCAR: Animation Entries Down To Wire; But Will There Be Enough For 5 Nominees?

Pete Hammond

Today the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences sent out a reminder confirming the 5 PM PT November 1st deadline for 2010 Best Animated feature entries. At this point there do not appear to be enough entries to trigger five nominations rather than the more common three but there is still time, brother. What wasn’t mentioned in the release is the number that have been received so far at the Academy. A really good clue though is a  letter I have learned that was  sent late last week updating members and potential members of the Animation committee (the ones doing the voting)  and informing them that 14 entries had been received but that it was still possible to reach 16, the magic number needed to expand the category. Last year a flurry of last minute entries flooded the Acad offices and Oscar ‘toon watchers were hoping the same might miraculously happen this year. Academy rules state that in any year with 8 to 15 eligible entries there will be three nominations allowed but if it’s 16 or more there will be five contenders, as has happened twice (including last year) since the  category was created in 2001 when Dreamworks’ Shrek became the first winner.

Dreamworks Animation has only won once  since then (for releasing 2005’s Wallace & Gromit in The Curse Of The Were Rabbit) and is back in the game big time this year with its March release, How To Train Your Dragon but would also love to see its upcoming  Megamind (Nov 5) in the … Read More »

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‘Despicable Me’ Passes $200M Domestic

It happened last night for the Universal/Illumination inaugural film and becomes the 8th pic this year– and the 4th toon — to cross the $200 million mark. It’s just beginning to roll out overseas in 44 territories over next few months, so the worldwide gross is now $234 million.

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Nolan’s ‘Inception’ #1 For 3rd Weekend; Carell’s ‘Dinner For Schmucks’ Opens #2; But Zac Efron’s ‘Charlie St Cloud’ Only #6

SUNDAY AM: As July ended, three opening studio movies — Dinner For Schmucks, Charlie St Cloud (which collapsed 32% from Friday to Saturday because Zac Efron’s High School Musical fans frontloaded the grosses), Cats & Dogs 3D: The Revenge Of Kitty Galore – made for a crowded summer box office what with holdovers Salt, Inception, and Despicable Me still going strong. Here are Friday, Saturday, weekend, and cume U.S. and Canada grosses. This weekend will be the first since June 4th without a $30+ million grossing pic. But overall ticket sales still look to total $135M a point or two ahead of last year:

1. Inception (Warner Bros) Week 3 [3,545 Dates]
Friday $8.1M, Saturday $10M, Weekend $27.5M (-36%), Cume $193.3M

Look at those dreamy legs… Chris Nolan’s original film for Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures just keeps going, and going, with great holds. It’s the No. 1 movie for the 3rd straight weekend after briefly giving way to Dinner With Schmucks Friday.

2. Dinner For Schmucks (Paramount) NEW [2,911 Dates]
Friday $8.4M, Saturday $8.3M, Weekend $23.3M

TParamount, DreamWorks, and Spyglass all financed a third of the $62M budget. (This is the first movie new DreamWorks invested in.) Paramount has worldwide distribution and will roll out international in the fall. The behind the scenes maneuvering to turn this comedy from a mediocre grosser to average moneymaker makes for an always interesting but far from atypical story. Back on June 9th, I reported that the buzz had been “it’s not working” on this pic so Paramount, DreamWorks, and Spyglass delayed Dinner For Schmucks originally … Read More »

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Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Game Plan Includes ‘Despicable Me’ Sequel, ‘Minion’ Spinoffs, Dr. Seuss, The Addams Family

Mike Fleming

Film Review Despicable MeEXCLUSIVE: Three years ago, Universal Pictures brass wooed Chris Meledandri away from his president post at Fox Animation to start its first family film unit. Over the weekend, Illumination’s first effort, Despicable Me, nearly doubled Universal’s gross predictions for a $56.4 million opening. Suddenly, the Meledandri decision looks like one of the better ones made by NBC Universal in a good long time. The studio has reinforced that by making a full commitment to the venture. Illumination’s original co-financing game plan made by former chairmen David Linde and Marc Shmuger called for Universal to fund only half the operation and film budgets, and Illumination’s founder and CEO Meledandri raising the rest. meledandri_chrisBut that plan was delayed by the credit crunch. Then Universal chiefs Ron Meyer, Rick Finkelstein and Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley told Meledandri, in a decision that went all the way up to NBC Universal’s Jeff Zucker, that they didn’t want to share and would fully fund him. Meledandri, who has autonomy but won’t make pictures that don’t excite the studio’s toppers, sparked to Uni’s financing plan because it incentivizes hustle to release and market the films. Despicable Me, for instance, was heavily cross-promoted in NBC-Universal platforms that included network, cable and theme parks.

The result is now a momentum changer for Universal on several fronts. Despicable Me ended a prolonged hit pic slump. It plugged the studio into a … Read More »

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Weekend Actuals Lower Than Reported

oopsDon’t you hate when this happens? Distribution departments at each studio wound up overestimating the weekend box office across the board for the Top 10 movies in release. Everyone is claiming it’s an honest mistake, attributing it to the World Cups finals. But we all know that numbers don’t lie even if studios do:

1. Despicable Me (Universal) Old $60.1M, New $56.3M (-6.3%)
2. Eclipse (Summit) Old $33.4M, New $31.7M (-5%)
3. Predators (Fox) Old $25.3M, New $24.7M (-2.3%)
4. Toy Story 3 (Disney) Old $22M, New $21M (-4.5%)
5. Last Airbender (Paramount) Old $17.1M, New $16.6M (-3%)
6. Grown Ups (Sony) Old $16.4M, New $15.8M (-3.6%)
7. Knight and Day (Fox) Old $7.8M, New: $7.7M (-1.3%)
8. Karate Kid (Sony) Old $5.7M, New $5.3M (-7%)
9. The A-Team (Fox) Old $1.8M, New $1.7M (-5.6%)
10. Cyrus (Fox Searchlight) Old $1.3M, New $1.2M (-7.7%)

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IT’S GOOD TO BE BAD! ‘Despicable Me 3D’ Doubles Expectations For $60.1M Weekend; R-Rated ‘Predators’ On Target With $25.3M; ‘Eclipse’ Global Cume Now $456M; See How This Hollywood Summer Is Doing Overseas

SUNDAY AM: It was a great weekend at the box office with the total tally $202M, up an impressive +41.4% from last year. And that doesn’t factor in next week which features the most anticipated movie of the summer, Chris Nolan’s Inception. Year to date, 2010 revenues are running $5.9M, that up 5.06% over last year. But attendance is down 1.42%. Summer 2010′s grosses are even more important internationally than domestic for a lot of motion pictures. So in this extended report I’ve included additional detail on the overseas releases all heavily impacted by World Cup play:

despicable_me_movie_poster_02-550x8741. North American box office numbers show that Universal Pictures is enjoying something it hasn’t had in a very long time: a big fat hit film. That’s because weeks of great parent-kid family tracking for Despicable Me 3D translated into what even rival studios told me was ”amazing” attendance of Friday’s $21.7 million and Saturday’s $21.3M for a $60.1M weekend opening despite having two other 3D family films in the marketplace. Still, Despicable Me found 3,476 theaters, of which 1,551 locations were in 3D, and managed to double Universal’s expectations of opening domestic grosses. Exit polling data showed the film received an “A” Cinemascore and the audience was 55% kids 12 years and under and parents.

You’ve got to credit those wonderful movie trailers and TV ads that communicated the movie’s bold originality. (Who doesn’t want minions trailing them!) Despicable Me is the first 3D CGI film from Universal’s animated/family-film production company partner, Illumination … Read More »

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LA Film Festival Awards Audience Faves

By | Sunday June 27, 2010 @ 12:32pm PDT
Mike Fleming

The Los Angeles Film Festival ended with a screening of the Universal/Illumination animated film Despicable Me after the awards were handed out. Winning the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature was the Christopher Morris-directed Four Lions, and the Audience Award for Best Documentary went to the Mark Landsman-directed Thunder Soul. The Audience Award for Best International Feature went to the Roberto Hernandez/Geoffrey Smith-directed Presumed Guilty. The Short Film Award went to the James Blagden-directed Dock Ellis & The Incredible No-No. Earlier, the Jury Narrative Award went to Pernille Fischer Christensen-directed A Family and the Jury Documentary Award went to the J. Clay Tweel-directed Make Believe.

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