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Disney Casts ‘Enchanted 2′ Spell With ‘Smurfs’ Scribes

By | Tuesday July 1, 2014 @ 3:57pm PDT

Disney Casts ‘Enchanted 2′ Spell With ‘Smurfs’ ScribesEXCLUSIVE: Seven years after Disney‘s live-action princess adventure Enchanted scored Golden Globe and Oscar noms and a $340M worldwide box office, the Mouse House is moving again on a sequel. Shrek 2 and The Smurfs writers J. David Stem and David N. Weiss have been hired to write Enchanted 2, marking the scripting duo’s latest live-action family outing after penning Are We There Yet? and Daddy Day Camp for Sony.

Amy Adams starred and sang in the first pic in an eerily accurate portrayal of Giselle, the animated Disney princess who crosses over into the real world, opposite Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Timothy Spall, Idina Menzel, Rachel Covey, and Susan Sarandon. Kevin Lima directed the musical romance, which opened at No. 1 over Thanksgiving weekend 2007. Read More »

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Broadway Box Office: ‘All The Way’ Ends On $1.6M High; ‘Aladdin’ Gains To $1.5M For Disney

By | Monday June 30, 2014 @ 12:51pm PDT

Broadway Box Office: ‘All The Way’ Ends On $1.6M High; ‘Aladdin’ Gains To $1.5M For DisneyBryan Cranston ankled his Broadway gig as LBJ on another high, as All The Way ended its a limited run Sunday with another record-breaking week. The Tony winners (Best Play, Best Performance By A  Leading Actor in a Play)  took in $1,623,495, a new high figure for a non-musical,  at the Neil Simon Theatre. Average ticket price was $141.62.

On the musicals front, Disney’s Aladdin is proving more popular each week, having its best stand since opening at the New Amsterdam. It was up $176,710 to $1,623,495, according to figures released by the trade group Broadway League for Week 5, which ended Sunday.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 4.18.55 PMThe season’s newcomer, Holler If Ya Hear Me, continued to sink, taking in just $159,571 at the Palace, and the long-running Once also looks to be in trouble, grossing barely half its $922,885 potential at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.

Broadway total was up fractionally from the week before, to $29,774,659 for 33 shows, from $29,753,590. The Week 5 tally a year ago was $24,997,386, with fewer shows running.

Wicked, at $2,107,598, edged out The Lion King, at $2,044,928 for the top spot; third place was The Book Of Mormon, at $1,658,638. Mormon continued to have the highest per-ticket average, at $189.52.

The other news of the week: Sting’s musical The Last Ship (not to be confused with the new TNT drama) opened its Broadway tryout run in Chicago with a big wet kiss from the Sun-Times’s Hedy Weiss, who … Read More »

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Ben Kingsley To Voice Bagheera In Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’

By | Wednesday June 25, 2014 @ 11:25am PDT

Ben Kingsley To Voice Bagheera In Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley has joined the voice cast of Disney’s live-action The Jungle Book. He’ll play Bagheera, the black panther companion to human Mowgli first made famous in Rudyard Kipling’s 19th century collection of short stories. Idris Elba is already aboard as the villanous Shere Khan. Jon Favreau is directing the new Jungle Book from a script by Justin Marks. Disney will release the pic on October 9, 2015.

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`Newsies’, Disney’s Accidental Broadway Hit, Will Shutter In August

By | Sunday June 22, 2014 @ 2:28pm PDT

`Newsies’, Disney’s Accidental Broadway Hit, Will Shutter In Augustschumacher2Disney, which has been quick to drop the axe on its Broadway flops, including Tarzan and The Little Mermaid, announced today that its accidental hit, Newsies, will close on August 24 at the Nederlander Theatre, while still earning respectable money at the box office after a run of more than two years and grosses of over $100 million.
Based on Disney’s 1992 film — a $42.8 million box-office dud whose video built a cult following — Newsies opened in the fall of 2011 at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse, where it was planned as a dry-run for a regional tour. But a new book by Harvey Fierstein (La Cage Aux Folles, Kinky Boots) and songs from Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, along with an upbeat, high-energy production staged by director Jeff Calhoun and choreographer Christopher Gatelli impressed the New York critics, compelling Disney Theatricals chief Thomas Schumacher to change course and head for Broadway. The show, which cost about $5 million, opened the following May and won Tonys for score and choreography.
Since then, however, the Nederander box office has weakened incrementally as several other family-friendly shows came in and amped up the competition for dollars from the Disney demo, notably that company’s own Aladdin along, of course, with the now-and-forever blockbuster Lion King.

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Disney Hit With Potential $37.5M Class Action By Former Theme Park Employee

By | Friday June 20, 2014 @ 5:01pm PDT

Disney Hit With Potential $37.5M Class Action By Former Theme Park EmployeeDisneyland was not the happiest place on Earth for at least one former employee, and he’s seeking hundreds of others who feel the same way. Reykeel Zorio this week slapped Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and finance data services Walt Disney Worldwide Services with a class action complaint, alleging he was ripped off by Disney for unpaid vacation, unpaid wages and other monies. Claiming that the class members “exceed five hundred (500) persons,” Zorio’s complaint seeking a jury trial was filed yesterday in LA Superior Court (read it here). It presently seeks less than $75,000 for Zorio and the other class members individually. However, add that all up and you get a hefty figure around $37.5 million that’s being sought from the House of Mouse.

DJP LEGAL BADGEThe three-claim class action seeking certification is intended to cover all former nonexempt employees who worked at Disneyland Park, Disney’s California Adventure Theme Park, Disneyland Hotel, Disney Grand Californian Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and Downtown Disney from 2010-2014. Zorio was hired by Disney Worldwide Services in November 2011 and was “transferred” to Disneyland. His first day of work there was November 26 that year. The 11-page complaint does not state when he left the company, but it alleges violation of labor code for denial of vacation wages, violation of labor code for unpaid wages at discharge and violation of business and practices.

Zorio’s complaint also says that a class action is the best action because … Read More »

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DeadlineNow: ‘Avengers 2′ And The Great Movie Gridlock Of 2015 (Video)

By | Thursday June 19, 2014 @ 5:15pm PDT
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Tentpoles Battle For Supremacy In 2015

Think 2014 was a big year for tentpoles? Just wait until next year. Deadline's David Lieberman and Dominic Patten look ahead to 2015 and a promised explosion of megamovies.

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Disney Taps Philip Steuer As Senior Veep Of Physical Film Production

By | Thursday June 19, 2014 @ 10:08am PDT
Mike Fleming

Disney Taps Philip Steuer As Senior Veep Of Physical Film ProductionReacting to Tony To’s move to Lucasfilm, Disney has hired Philip Steuer to be SVP Physical Production, for the studio’s live-action film group. Steuer produced Saving Mr. Banks and all three Chronicles Of Narnia films. His executive producing credits include Oz The Great And Powerful, The Rookie, and Disney’s upcoming Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, due out in October. So he has experience in logistically challenging films, and knows the studio infrastructure. For the time being, Steuer and longtime studio executive Jerry Ketcham will co-lead physical production following To’s move to Lucasfilm. The two will report directly to President of Production Sean Bailey.

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Disney Sets Release Dates For Its Two Spielberg Films

By | Monday June 16, 2014 @ 9:35am PDT

Disney Sets Release Dates For Its Two Spielberg FilmsDisney has scheduled director Steve Spielberg‘s two upcoming films leaving no doubt where his loyalties lies — first up with the Untitled Cold War pic starring Tom Hanks as a CIA-hired attorney James Donovan who goes behind the Iron Curtain to negotiate the release of downed pilot Gary Powers whose U-2 plane was shot down behind enemy lines in the USSR; it’s based on a true story that happened back in the 1960s. Image (1) tom-hanks__131216131222.png for post 652834The Coen brothers recently took over scripting duties from an original script by Matt Charman and Spielberg, Marc Platt, Krisie Macosko Krieger are producing (and Spielberg directing). That will open wide on October 16, 2015. Currently, the only pic scheduled on that date is Universal Pictures’ Crimson Peak, a ghost story from director Guillermo Del Toro and two weeks after London Has Fallen, Frankenstein and Robert Zemeckis’ untitled film. It’s a very good date to launch. Adam Somner and Daniel Lupi are exec producers. Read More »

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DeadlineNow Morning Report: World Cup Has Arrived, Los Angeles Film Festival Underway, Disney Lawsuit (Video)

By | Thursday June 12, 2014 @ 10:46am PDT
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Morning Report, Thursday June 12

World Cup kicks off today in Brazil with the home side taking on Croatia; Los Angeles Film Festival underway with Bong Joon-ho's opening-night film 'Snowpiercer'; Disney Studios targeted in age discrimination lawsuit by former Story Department exec. Dominic Patten reports.

Disney Slammed In Discrimination Suit By 26-Year Veteran Studio Exec
Radius-TWC Promises “Surprising” Launch For ‘Snowpiercer
World Cup Preview: Studios & Networks Play Games Too

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Disney Slammed In Discrimination Suit By 26-Year Veteran Studio Exec

By | Wednesday June 11, 2014 @ 4:30pm PDT

DJP LEGAL BADGEThe former director of the Story Department at Walt Disney Studios is taking the media giant to court with allegations of age discrimination and wrongful termination. In a complaint filed this week in LA Superior Court seeking unspecified damages, Kevin Brady says he was pink-slipped under false pretenses by Disney last June after nearly 26 seemingly successful years with the company. “While the Walt-Disney-Studios-logo-2__130417235820Disney defendants claimed that Plaintiff’s position was eliminated, Plaintiff was actually replaced by an individual in her late 20s or early 30s,” says the 11-page complaint filed Tuesday (read it here) by the 48-year-old.

Being that Brady was making $135,000 a year according to the filing plus heath, pension and retirement benefits, and that he is seeking special and prospective damages due to lost future earnings, this could add up very quickly into the millions if it is calculated to age of retirement. “Additionally, to the extent the Disney defendants contend that Plaintiff’s replacement was hired for a newly created position, the Disney defendants failed to consider or hire Plaintiff for this position even though it is the same or substantially similar to the position that Plaintiff held for the past 10 years of his employment,” reads the filing, which seeks a jury trial. Brady’s apparent replacement in a renamed position was a former assistant of Disney Studios Motion Picture Production president Sean Bailey. And then there’s the kicker: “Further, the Disney defendants have a history and pattern of terminating long term employees and replacing them with younger employees who have less experience at the company.” Read More »

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`Frozen’s’ Idina Menzel Lifts `If/Then’ Cast Album To Smashing Billboard Debut

By | Wednesday June 11, 2014 @ 3:30pm PDT

Idina MenzelIdina Menzel continues to show star-power, with the release of the original Broadway cast album of If/Then opening on the Billboard 200 chart at number 19. It’s the best debut since the release of the cast album of Rent in 1996 — which also starred Menzel. That Pulitzer Prize-winning show also debuted at number 19, though the comparative numbers are revealing bout the state of the music industry: Rent sold 43,000 albums to achieve that number, while If/Then had to move only 15,000 units to achieve the same ranking, for the week ending June 8, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Menzel, the voice of Elsa and the hit song “Let It Go” from Disney‘s blockbuster Frozen, was a Tony nominee for If/Then  (as she was for Rent) and won a huge following for her Tony-winning portrayal of green-visaged Elphaba in the original 2004 Broadway cast of Wicked (and that time, she won the Tony). The soundtrack to Frozen remains 2014′s top-selling album, with 2.6 million sold this year, of its 2.9 million to date according to Billboard.

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Broadway B.O. Gets Pre-Tony Boost; James Franco, Chris O’Dowd’s Mighty `Mice’ Recoups $3.8M

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Broadway Box Office Report

Big family musical 'Aladdin' saw a big bump in ticket sales without running away with a bunch of awards. Some of the smaller plays might not feel the same surge. Deadline's Jeremy Gerard and Dominic Patten discuss.

Broadway had a healthy runup to Sunday’s Tony Awards, as the total box office hit $28.3 million, an increase of $445,000 over the week before. Disney’s Aladdin took in $1.28 million (and a Tony for Genie James Monroe Iglehart),American Theatre Wing's 68th Annual Tony Awards - Press Room its best week to date, and heads into the summer tourist season with a hefty $18 million advance, according to sources. Producer David Binder also had a great week: Not only did his hit Hedwig And The Angry Inch bring home four Tonys including best musical revival and best lead actor in a musical for Neil Patrick Harris, but his revival of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men, fueled by stars James Franco, Chris O’Dowd, Leighton Meester and Jim Norton, recouped its $3.8 million capitalizations with seven weeks to go on its limited run. Read More »

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Lucasfilm Hires Disney’s Tony To As Head Of Production & Development

By | Thursday June 5, 2014 @ 9:10am PDT

disney_lucasfilm_logo__121030233602__121205001627__130419000056__130510231828Disney Studios EVP Production Tony To is crossing over to Lucasfilm, which said today the veteran is joining the company as Head of Production and Development. He will report to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy after a three-year stint at Disney and will be tasked with overseeing all live-action and animation production. That includes six new projects on the studio’s slate including Star Wars: Episode VII, the upcoming Star Wars Rebels animated series, and two recently announced stand-alone Star Wars films from directors Gareth Edwards and Josh Trank.

As part of the deal, To will continue to oversee Disney’s recently announced co-development deal with China’s Shanghai Media Group, a multi-year partnership to co-develop Disney-branded movies for U.S.-China co-productions. As part of that initiative, U.S.-based writers team with locally based Chinese writers and filmmakers to develop scripts that combine Disney’s storytelling and Chinese elements. Read More »

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‘Chronicle’ Helmer Josh Trank To Direct A ‘Star Wars’ Movie

By | Wednesday June 4, 2014 @ 9:16am PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Disney and Lucasfilm are wasting no time Josh Trank Star Wars Directormoving along on its Star Wars films. They’ve just set Chronicle helmer Josh Trank, who’s next directing the Fantastic Four reboot at Fox.

It is the second big hire of a hot young director for the franchise. After the monster Godzilla opening, director Gareth Edwards was set for an untitled Star Wars 3D stand-alone film, which Disney has dated for a December 16, 2016 release. Going young like this makes me more bullish on star-wars-logo__130325012712-200x144__131107212744what is happening here, because I felt that Lucas steered the last three films to a sense of complacency that I felt hobbled the franchise. Lucasfilm is lucky these directors grew up with the original groundbreaking trilogy, making these hot young shooters desperate to be involved here. Read More »

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Ben Stiller-Produced ‘Lonny’ Debuts Season 2 Online Amid Maker Cuts

By | Tuesday June 3, 2014 @ 8:50am PDT

Next time on lonny preview screenNext Time On Lonny, the satirical online video series executive produced by Ben Stiller‘s Red Hour Digital and Disney-owned Maker Studios, debuts the first three episodes of its second season on Maker.TV and, for today only, YouTube, with a raft of guest appearances by Hollywood notables including Adam ScottPatton Oswalt, Kal Penn, Jerry O’Connell, Kathy Baker, Haley Joel Osment and Paul Scheer. The entire season is being sponsored by Verizon, with more episodes rolling out twice a week on Maker.TV and Maker’s comedy hub, Nacho Punch. The show is a satire of reality TV, blending sketch comedy and imaginary film preview segments. It was created by Alex Anfanger, who also stars, and Dan Schimpf, who directs. Besides Stiller, Anfanger and Schimpf, executive producers of the show include Stuart Cornfeld, Mike Rosenstein and Debbie Liebling. Brillstein Entertainment Partners represent Anfanger and Schimpf.

makerstudios__140311194353-275x177Yesterday, reports surfaced that about 10% of the company’s 380 employees had been laid off, part of a continuing restructuring in the fast-changing online-video space. A Maker spokesperson declined to comment on whether any layoffs had occurred, but said, “Maker’s business is constantly evolving, and we routinely reassess our internal resources and make strategic adjustments, reducing staff in some areas while actively hiring in others.” A source close to the company emphasized the company is continuing to hire in some areas of its business. “If there is at any point a reduction, it’s not tied to the Disney acquisition,” the source said. “Maker is in a very healthy place, given the acquisition. It’s aligning its resources to its goals.” Read More »

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Disney’s Team ‘Aladdin’ Talks Tony Awards, Howard Ashman

By | Tuesday June 3, 2014 @ 7:00am PDT

GerardColumn_badgeI spoke separately with Tom Schumacher, head of Disney Theatricals, and composer Alan Menken about Tony best-musical nominee Aladdin, which has taken over the company’s Times Square flagship, the New Amsterdam Theatre. Back in the day, the New Amsterdam was home to the Ziegfeld Follies, and there’s more than a dash of Busby Berkeley spectacle in the new show, which earned mostly damned-faint-praise from critics but Aladdin, Toronto 2013which is doing great business and has an obvious future in various Disney iterations. It may not be The Lion King (really, what is?), but it ain’t The Little Mermaid, either.

With former Disney Studios chief Peter Schneider (now an independent producer), Schumacher — who started his career in L.A. working with such game-changers as director Peter Sellars and CalArts’s Bob Fitzpatrick — oversaw Disney’s animation renaissance beginning in the late 1980s and went exclusively to the theater division in 2002. The company now has three shows running on Broadway (with The Lion King and Newsies) schumacher2and though he wouldn’t at all mind heading to the stage of Radio City Music Hall on June 8 to pick up a Tony, he’s pragmatic about the value of the nomination.

“The important period is the time between the nominations and the awards,” he said of the Tonys. “That’s the opportunity to sell our show to the audience, and our team is at the top of its game.” Disney doesn’t release figures but Schumacher said that Aladdin was produced on the “same scale as Mary Poppins,” the previous New Amsterdam tenant, which, all told, is probably in the $20 million range. Of course, few producers have either Disney’s pockets or it’s cross-platforming advantages (Mary Poppins has done big business in Australia, among other markets). He hasn’t lost his taste for the offbeat: “I cried twice during Here Lies Love,” Schumacher told me. Read More »

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UPDATE: ‘Maleficent’ Conjures $20.1M In 35 Overseas Markets Ahead Of Weekend Expansion

MALEFICENT-posterUPDATE, FRIDAY 10:20 AM: After bowing in a handful of territories on Wednesday, Angelina Jolie-starrer Maleficent expanded on Thursday to a total 35 markets including Russia, Germany, Korea, Brazil and Australia. Along with the UK, France, Italy and others which got the Disney movie on Wednesday, the total two-day overseas take is $20.1M. In the UK on Wednesday, Jolie had her best-ever opening at $2.5M (with Thursday added in, the UK now stands at $4.6M). Thursday’s $2.1M Germany opening was likewise a milestone for the actress who’s been absent from live-action movies since 2010. Russia opened to $2.4M on Thursday and France was a big No. 1 among new openers with $2.1M on Wednesday. Spain and Mexico open today with some smaller territories that will make for a total of 47 through the weekend. There will be numbers galore in the next few days as international rollouts also begin on Tom Cruise-starrer Edge Of Tomorrow and Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways To Die In The West.

PREVIOUS, THURSDAY 10:23 AM PT: Disney’s Maleficent is off to a strong start internationally. The Angelina Jolie starrer brought in $2.5M yesterday in the UK and Ireland, which the studio says was above expectations. The twist on the Sleeping Beauty tale largely shot in the UK, at London-adjacent Pinewood Studios, and also stars Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Sam Riley. The UK bow surpassed the first … Read More »

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Have ESPN’s Profits Obscured A Mediocre Return On Disney’s Big Acquisitions?

By | Tuesday May 27, 2014 @ 3:41pm PDT

disney6__140311194550-275x165That’s the eyebrow raising conclusion Cowen and Co’s Doug Creutz reaches today in a bracing in-depth analysis of Disney‘s profits. The analyst has been cool on Disney for years and remains so even as company shares touch new all-time highs (including one today). But he says that ESPN has been its “primary driver of growth over the last 10 years” and fueled “the expensive transformations that Disney has undergone since Bob Iger assumed the CEO role in 2005.” Despite the much-heralded outlays for Pixar, Marvel, and theme park upgrades, returns on invested capital (ROIC) during the past decade for the other broadcast, movie, digital, and theme park businesses “have been pretty pedestrian.”

Related: Disneyland Raises Ticket Prices – Again – And Suspends SoCal Pass Sales

ESPN SportsCenterCreutz says he has been trying to make this kind of analysis for about three years but was stymied by the scant details Disney offers about ESPN’s profits. He thinks he found a good work-around, though, by assuming that the sports net looks a lot like near-pure-play cable network companies including Discovery, Scripps Networks, and Viacom (where Paramount’s earnings “are a pittance compared to the cable network contribution”). That leads him to believe that ESPN consistently delivers a ROIC of about 48% because it “can set prices for its customers, and to a certain extent, for its suppliers” at the sports leagues. Pay TV subscribers pay about $5.50 a month for ESPN, even if they never watch it. Read More »

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President Obama To Make His ‘Live WIth Kelly And Michael’ Debut On Friday

obamahollywood__120118234033-1__120615023234-1-6__121008025841-200x150__121105180912__130424210450__140430225506Just when you thought there were no more TV talk shows left on which President Obama could make his debut, Disney/ABC announced this morning he will make his first appearance on Live With Kelly And Michael this coming Friday. Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan will travel to Washington to sit down with Obama at the White House and talk about that day’s White House Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit. Disney’s portfolio of TV networks includes ESPN — but Friday Night Tykes, the controversial  TV docu-series about 8-to-9- year-old Rookies division of the Texas Youth Football Association, has its home on Comcast’s  Esquire Network. In its first season, one of two Tykes coaches got suspended after an episode in which he was seen telling his players to hit an opponent in the head. Despite that, and other, controversies, Tykes last month got a second-season order. Network programming chief Matt Hanna explained, “The first season of Friday Night Tykes sparked a national debate about competitive youth sports, and we think it’s important to continue that discussion with a second season of the series…At its heart [the program] is a series about parenting – and the question about hard we should push our children is an incredibly relevant one for parents across America.”

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