The mantra over at Stan Lee Media Inc must be “if first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Certainly that is its legal strategy. Almost three months after a federal judge in Colorado granted Disney’s request for dismissal of SLMI’s multibillion-dollar Marvel superhero copyright suit, the company is back in Pennsylvania court this week claiming it owns the rights to Spider-Man. “In response to Disney’s Spider-Man claims and/or in response to [American Music Theater's] counterclaims and third-party claims, SLMI respectfully seeks a declaratory judgment … that Disney cannot bar SLMI from using or licensing the Spider-Man copyrights and trademarks by virtue of the fact that SLMI (not Disney) is the owner of various copyrights and trademarks regarding Spider-Man and has properly licensed the copyrights and trademarks to AMT,” says the third-party defendant paperwork (read it here) filed Tuesday.
The board authorized an annual dividend of 86 cents a share, up 11 cents, Disney says. It’s the 58th consecutive dividend and will be paid on January 16 to those who own shares as of December 16. “Disney had a great …
6TH UPDATE: The staggering grosses turned in this weekend by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen, and the collective strong box office that will likely result in a record five-day Thanksgiving weekend come along at a fortuitous time for the movie business. Why? Because fear has ruled the roost lately, and these numbers on a diversity of mostly smart films shows clearly that if you give an audience a story well told, they will show up.
The performance of Catching Fire and Frozen are all the more remarkable if you consider that both of these films are squarely driven by female heroines. Conventional wisdom is that the marketplace could never support more than one female-driven film, because while gals will see guy movies, it doesn’t work the other way. Well, it worked big time — both films crushed the 5-day Thanksgiving domestic gross record – and it happened shortly after another female driven film, Gravity, crossed the $600 million mark in global gross this weekend. That movie would not have been made if not for a maverick advocate and you could make the same argument for a drama about Somali pirates, Captain Phillips, which has passed the $100 million mark domestically and will crack $200 million worldwide on a $55 million budget. You can look at The Best Man Holiday and Last Vegas (CBS Films’ biggest grossing film ever) and find similarly encouraging signs; good movies made for a price, finding crossover audiences.
This is important, coming just on the heels of that Sony investors meeting held on the Culver City lot. It was a powwow that on the surface seemed to be a capitulation to cranky shareholders like Daniel Loeb, who, as George Clooney said, whined about two summer flops but betrayed a complete lack of understanding of how the movie business works. This weekend was a good reminder that, few legal businesses are capable of creating cash as quickly as blockbusters do. The people who make those bets are like shrewd riverboat gamblers, and if the current climate makes them fearful, they will not make good films. They are only good if they’ve got swagger and cockiness, and it would be nice to imagine a weekend like this serves as a reminder of what happens when smart risks are taken and good movies are the result.
When Sony responded to Loeb’s criticism by announcing plans to shed $100 million in overhead and trimming back its film slates to instead put more chips on TV projects, some in town wondered if Japan was planning to sell its showbiz division. Nonsense, say insiders I trust.
The Studio previously announced it had reached a record high on November 12, when it surpassed the $3.791 billion set in 2010. In July, Disney was the first studio to reach the $1 billion domestic box office milestone for the year, a threshold it has achieved for eight consecutive years. In August, in record time, Disney reached the $2 billion international box office threshold for the fourth year in a row, and in early November the studio surpassed its previous all-time international box office record of $2.302 billion, also set in 2010.
Walt Disney’s only biological child died today at her home in Napa, CA, of complications from a fall in September. Diane Disney Miller was 79. She was a driving force behind the construction of the Walt Disney …
Dish Network’s chairman seems to be in sync with Disney CEO Bob Iger’s comments last week: Both execs say that they’re making progress toward a new program carriage agreement with Charlie Ergen telling analysts today that he’s …
Last week, Mike Fleming talked about the premium on star-driven films at AFM and noted that schlock is in short supply. He’s too busy focusing on the high-end films. I’m here in the corridors of the Loews in Santa Monica, and I am a schlock connoisseur. While he might be right in labeling this AFM a cut below the Surf Nazis Must Die heyday of the ’90s, allow me to butcher a Mark Twain quote and say that rumors of schlock’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. While I might be bashful to ask him this directly, has Mike pondered the tantalizing cinematic possibilities of Kama Sutra 3D? And how about All Cheerleaders Die: Revenge Is A Bitch or Dead Sea: It’s Feeding Time or even Bigfoot Wars: The Battle For Boggy Creek?
And what about the mutant electric eels running rampant in Shock Attack? Or the time-traveling Army Of Frankensteins, where a neck bolt brigade shows up to fight in the Civil War? There’s the promising Bikini Model Academy with Gary Busey and Morgan Fairchild. Hungry? The cannibal tale Bone Boys is on the menu here.
Hands down, the schlock title to beat is FDR American Badass, with Barry Bostwick battling werewolves in a pimped-out wheelchair. It might be easy to dismiss what’s billed as a “kick-werewolf-ass movie for history buffs (or not),” but I am not here to judge. After all, did we not learn from Timur Bekmambetov that Abe Lincoln was a vampire killer and didn’t Quentin Tarantino fill us in on how Hitler and his cohorts were blown up in a theater during the premiere of the Nazi propaganda film Nation’s Pride? Here, FDR takes out Nazis as well as werewolves. MutliVisionaire Pictures seems to be getting a good response. And based on this trailer, can anyone be surprised?
And while Thor crushed all comers at the box office this weekend, how about the D-level version of that, which Halcyon International has in God Of Thunder. Now, there’s a long history of satirical takes on movies (and the litigation that follows), but give Halcyon points for good timing.Both based on Norse mythology, as far as I can tell, the only difference between the Disney/Marvel franchise and this one is the main character’s tresses: This hero’s hair is shorter than Chris Hemsworth’s blond mane, and it looks like Supercuts was involved. It seems there wasn’t enough money in the budget for a suicide blond dye job, but Loki, Asgard and Thor are also here in a movie we’re told is “based on the Fox Comics Super Hero.” In postproduction, God Of Thunder will be in a theater, or a courtroom, near you in 2014.
Listen to (and share) episode 58 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s executive business editor and host David Bloom recap another intense week of quarterly earnings announcements, led by Disney’s Marvel-ous deal with Netflix; CBS’ blithe handling of the Time-Warner Cable fight; Time-Warner’s cord-cut HBO offer; and DirecTV’s flirtation with an Aereo-like option to reduce fast-growing retransmission fees. This week also saw Twitter notch a massive IPO whose rocket-ship outcome left many analysts scratching their heads, and a moment of silence for the death of former entertainment-industry brute Blockbuster, a one-time Colossus that now is a historical footnote.
The 2013 AFI Fest opening night at Hollywood’s famed, newly IMAX’d Chinese Theatre was as AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale said “practically perfect in every way” — thanks in no small part to nabbing the North American premiere of Disney’s surefire Oscar contender Saving Mr. Banks. It was a no-brainer on AFI and Disney’s part to launch this holiday release (it opens domestically December 13) which chronicles the turbulent relationship of Walt Disney and Mary Poppins creator P.L. Travers during the the making of that 1964 musical classic which had its premiere at the very same theatre a half century ago. Director John Lee Hancock noted that in his opening remarks: “My life just keeps folding around. Just like in Mary Poppins it seems what happened has happened before. Fifty years ago there was a premiere here for Mary Poppins. About a year ago we were here filming the re-creation of that premiere, and now here we are again so it all just feels right,” he said. By the way, Poppins itself returns to the Chinese when AFI Fest hosts a red-carpet screening Saturday with stars Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice and Oscar-winning composer Richard Sherman attending.
Disney chair Alan Horn was taking congrats for the film he actually inherited when he came to the studio, and production president Sean Bailey was also singled out for praise in making this happen. Of course stars Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson were there, but both skipped the Hollywood Roosevelt after-party where Sherman was the main attraction. I told Horn this is a word-of-mouth movie if ever there was one and should be a big hit for the studio. How it fares in the Oscar race will be interesting considering the last three Best Picture winners — Argo, The Artist and The King’s Speech — all seem to be films that make audiences feel good about themselves with the former two having a special Hollywood connection just like this one. Banks seems to fit the same bill that Oscar voters have been responding to recently, effortlessly blending laughs, tears, comedy, drama and emotion. This was my second viewing in three weeks (I saw it at a small screening shortly before it had its world premiere at the London Film Festival) and it holds up. Hanks and Thompson are slam-dunk nominees here and the film has many possibilities — but it is facing weightier fare in frontrunners 12 Years A Slave, Gravity and Captain Phillips (another film with Hanks, which could make him a double nominee this year).