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Kagan: ‘The Help’ Is The Most Profitable Film From A Month With Few Successes

DreamWorks and Disney’s The Help and Fox’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes are the only two August releases that can be sure of making a profit, although New Line’s Final Destination 5 could make it over the line, according to the latest monthly estimate from SNL Kagan. The financial analysis firm makes its projections based on a ratio that compares a film’s estimated revenue from all sources to the costs that Kagan can calculate — which don’t include distribution fees, overhead, interest, profit participation, and residuals. A movie with expected revenue 1.75 times higher than the known costs is projected to be a winner, while those with a ratio of at least 1.4 are on the bubble. The Help easily succeeds with a 3.09 ratio vs. Apes’ 2.49. Final Destination just barely makes the gray area with 1.43. But other major releases fall short including Focus Features’ The Debt (1.18), Sony’s Colombiana (1.06), and Dimension’s Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (0.97). The biggest disappointments by Kagan’s calculations are Disney’s Fright Night (0.44), Fox’s Glee The 3D Concert Movie (0.44), Lionsgate’s Conan the Barbarian (0.48), Universal’s The Change-Up (0.67), and FilmDistrict’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (0.71). Overall, last month’s 14 releases had an average ratio of 1.24, slightly below the 1.25 for 12 films released in August 2010 and 1.45 for the 14 films in August 2009.

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Hurricane Irene: Worst Movie Weekend Of 2011? ‘The Help’ #1 Again, ‘Colombiana’ #2, ‘Afraid Of The Dark’ #3, ‘Our Idiot Brother’ #6

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 4TH UPDATE: This weekend’s numbers bounced around, especially after Rentrak, the box office reporting service, sent out the following advisory: “We wanted to make you aware that a possible 1,000 theatres could be affected by the weather on the East Coast. We’ve been hearing about closures at many theatres and wanted to advise you that both Saturday and Sunday grosses will be affected.” This is turning into the worst moviegoing weekend of 2011, in a race with only Super Bowl weekend, because of the expected miniscule $80M expected for total North American box office grosses. Theater chains like AMC, Regal, and Clearview Cinemas were closing, location counts were dropping, and major releases were finding cover. Hurricane Irene came ashore along the Atlantic Seaboard on Saturday starting in North Carolina and heading due north. Mass transit was suspended in many areas while heavy rains and high winds pounded the region, causing one studio exec to complain to me, ”Business is in the crapper right now. Any way you slice it business is getting creamed this weekend.” The storm, at one point bigger than the size of Europe, created a state of emergency up the East Coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts and will depress box office by 10%, 20%, or more. Considering that this weekend’s 3 major opening movies were only expected to debut modestly even in fair weather, studios and distributors have a Mother Nature excuse when their films underperform at the North American box office. So I can’t humiliate them for not hitting double digits. Drats!)

1. DreamWorks/Disney’s The Help is a lock again for #1 with $4.4M Friday and $5.9M Saturday for a $14.3M weekend as the bestselling book-turned-pic enters its 3.5th week into 2,778 originally booked theaters. The cume is estimated at $96.6M and should pass the $100M plateau mid-week.

2. Sony Pictures/TriStar’s Luc Besson-produced and co-written PG-13 actioner Colombiana starring Zoe Saldana as the female assassin. It did the best of the newcomers opening to $3.7M Friday and also $3.7M Saturday to a $10.3M weekend with an original booking into 2,614 theaters. It earned an ‘A-’ CinemaScore from audiences. “Given the devastating weather system on the East Coast, the film performed better than expected and is off to a solid start and should hold well for the coming holiday weekend and into the Fall,” the studio said. Sony Pictures did a distribution deal for Colombiana which was fully financed by EuropaCorp and partners TF1 Films Production, Grive Productions with the participation of Canal+ and Cinecinema. They also put up the P&A for this title. For the media and promo campaign, Sony tied into the revenge theme of the movie with custom branded promotions and tie-ins with outlets like BET where there was “back to payback” stunt. The studio placed sneak peaks of the film in programming blocks where the cable channel was broadcasting revenge-oriented titles like Romeo Must Die and A Man Apart. Zoe Saldana shot custom interstitials. On channels like G4, a sweepstakes gave the winner time with Zoe’s trainer and to remake a scene from the film. Activities also specifically targeted urban audiences and Spanish language press. TriStar Pictures and Stage 6 Films present a coproduction EuropaCorp. Directed by Olivier Megaton, Colombiana gave writing credits to Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen, and produced by Luc Besson and Ariel Zeitoun.

3. FilmDistrict’s Guillermo del Toro-written and co-produced haunted house movie Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, starring Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce was originally booked into 2,760 theaters. It debuted with $3.6M Friday and $2.9M Saturday and will make $8.6M this weekend. It earned an unfortunate ‘C-’ CinemaScore from audiences. “All things considered, not a bad Saturday and ultimately the weekend total was good despite the hurricane,” said FilmDistrict’s Bob Berney. ”Our key large urban East Coast markets were really killed.” Females under 25 responded strongest to Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark and in markets with large Latino populations. Berney has known Guillermo since distributing his Academy Award-winning Pan’s Labyrinth at Picturehouse. that’s also where Berney released The Orphanage which del Toro exec-produced. Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark had been in the works for some time ever since del Toro made Mimic for the original Miramax. Guillermo based the new movie on a 1973 TV pic that had “scared the crap” out of him as a kid in Mexico. Del Toro chose director Troy Nixey from his work in comic books and a short film that Guillermo really responded to. Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark was shot while Guillermo was in New Zealand preparing The Hobbit (remember that?) and would fly over to Melbourne where Nixey was shooting and remained very involved in the $28M production. After Disney sold Miramax to the Colony Capital/Ron Tutor group, FilmDistrict acquired Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark around Sundance this year. It was the closing night pic at the LA Film Festival and put together a Comic-Con panel with del Toro and Guy Pearce. Attendees called it the most highbrow discussion of the Con steeped in both film history and profanity. Guillermo has a “Presents” credit on the film and his pedigree has been one of the key marketing points of the film. “Jeanne and I were really happy to be working with Guillermo again,” Berney emailed me. “He really is the ’hardest working man in show business’ and the most generous and nicest guy as well. Not to mention that he holds the record for ‘F bombs’ at Q&As and panels around the world.”

4. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (Fox) Week 4 [3,374? Theaters]
Friday $2.6M, Saturday $3.6M, Weekend $8.6M, Cume $148.4M

5. Spy Kids 4D (Dimension/Weinstein Co) Week 2 (3,305? Theaters)
Friday $1.5M, Saturday $2.5M, Weekend $5.7M (-51%), Cume $21.7M

6. The Weinstein Co’s not-so-raunchy R-rated comedy Our Idiot Brother showcasing Paul Rudd surrounded by Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer originally booked into 2,555 theaters. It opened to $2.3M and $2.5M Saturday for a $5.7M weekend. It earned a disappointing ‘C+’ CinemaScores from audiences. This film was acquired by TWC and Ron Burkle’s YUK Films at the Sundance Film Festival for $6 million in exchange for U.S., Germany, France, Japan, and Benelux rights. Alliance has Canada via their recent acquisition of Maple Films. Directed by Jesse Peretz from a script he wrote with his sister Evgenia, he reached out to producer Anthony Bregman (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) who in turn enlisted producer Peter Saraf (Little Miss Sunshine) and they put the whole deal together in a few weeks. TWC’s marketing campaign involved not only the traditional media buys but a lot of extras on the Internet as well — like the Funny Or Die video with Harvey Weinstein and Paul Rudd. Rudd went on MLB.com talking sports. There also was a ’Search for Willie Nelson’ (the dog’s name in the film) viral campaign. And an Idiot Photo Booth social campaign. Our Idiot Brother gave writing credits to Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall and producing credits to Stefanie Azpiazu, Caroline Jaczko, Aleen Keshishian, Anthony Bregman, Peter Saraf, and Marc Turtletaub. Read More »

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HAMMOND On L.A. Film Festival Opening: Can It Ever Challenge Toronto Or Telluride?

Pete Hammond

Although the Cannes Film Festival just ended three weeks ago, there’s always another film fest around the corner trying to steal its thunder and become part of the cinematic conversation. On Thursday night, the Los Angeles Film Festival, now in its 17th year, opened with the world premiere of the Richard Linklater (School of Rock, Dazed and Confused) comedy Bernie, with stars Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey joining its writer-director in introducing the film at downtown L.A.’s LA Live Regal Cinemas, where the fest moved last year. Not that it’s easy navigating the Los Angeles freeways at rush hour to get downtown, an off-the-beaten track place to premiere your movie, but the unapologetic black comedy and true-life tale of a small-town undertaker who caters to the much-hated Texas town’s matron until he reaches for a gun was worth the herculean effort navigating the annoying traffic jams and $25 parking fee (I didn’t read the signs carefully) just to see this splendid trio of actors deliver terrific performances backed by a great supporting group of locals who won big laughs throughout.

Bernie is an acquistion title and likely will be snapped up immediately by some enterprising distributor even though it’s not an obvious commercial hit. It is Black’s best work in some time. It could develop a following on the indie circuit though, and it certainly had the crowd (which included well-wishers like Linklater friend Steven Soderbergh and wife Jules Asner) buzzing at the crowded after-party on the L.A. Live parking garage rooftop.

Film Independent (which runs the fest as well as the Spirit Awards) board members I spoke to at the premiere are hopeful Bernie could become the fest’s first big breakout acquisition title, and reps from many indie distribs were in attendance. In fact, the fest delayed announcement of its opening film until after the Cannes festival was over because producers did not want to be inundated with calls about acquiring the film during that market and wanted to wait until it could premiere cold in L.A., a big tribute to the growing clout of LAFF. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark’

Mike Fleming

FilmDistrict has released a full-length trailer for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, the remake of the creepy 1973 telepic made at a time when ABC was cranking out the scares with such films as Bad Ronald and Trilogy of Terror. Troy Nixey directed it and Guillermo del Toro produced with Mark Johnson. Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce and Bailee Madison star. The film will close the Los Angeles Film Festival and opens wide in theaters Aug. 26.

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Guillermo Del Toro Tapped As Guest Director Of LA Film Festival

Guillermo del Toro has been announced as Guest Director of the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival, which is set to run June 16-26 in downtown LA. The world premiere of FilmDistrict’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, co-written by del Toro and Matthew Robbins and directed by Troy Nixey, will be the closing-night film; Dark, a horror film that stars Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce, will be released domestically on Aug. 26. The festival also said it will host a special screening of Warner Bros’ Green Lantern on June 16.

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FilmDistrict To Distribute ‘Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark’ Remake

Mike Fleming

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark has been acquired for domestic distribution by Peter Schlessel and Bob Berney’s FilmDistrict. The film will get an August 12 release and was the final and perhaps most potentially commercial of the films made by Miramax Films before the library was sold last year. The Troy Nixey-directed remake of the 1973 TV movie was produced by Guillermo Del Toro and Mark Johnson, and stars Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce. Del Toro wrote the script with Matthew Robbins. The film follows a family that moves to Rhode Island to an old mansion they plan to restore. Pint-sized creatures dwelling there want the girl. The film got a rise out of the Comic-Con crowd last year, but took forever to land because of the library sale. It fits FilmDistrict’s goal to find films that can play on 2500 screens and above. Here’s a recent trailer:

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Lagging Miramax Deal Delays Two Films

EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that Miramax transaction between owner Disney and soon-to-be new owners, construction magnate Ron Tutor and Tom Barrack’s Santa Monica-based Colony Capital (led by former Disney CFO Richard Nanula), won’t be finalized until the end of the year or soon after because of “strictly logistical reasons”. (“Standard practice in a deal of this magnitude,” one insider tells me.) As a result, it has impacted two movies: The Debt, which was supposed to be released on December 29th, and Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark the end of January. Now both pics are postponed until parent company Filmyard, which is what Tutor and Barrack are calling their new film company umbrella over Miramax, takes over. No new dates have been set.

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Hot Trailer: ‘Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark’

Mike Fleming

An early trailer is making the rounds for Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, the remake of the 70s ABC scary telepic that Guillermo del Toro co-wrote and produced. While del Toro made a splash at Comic-Con announcing he’d co-write and produce Haunted Mansion, he was most excited about the Con crowd reaction to this film, which was made through Miramax but remained at Disney, which will release it January 21, 2011.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark in HD

Trailer Park Movies | MySpace Video

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Comic-Con #15: Round-Up Of Other Panels

Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con for Deadline:

A round-up of some other panels, in brief…

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES
Should they have called this, BATTLE: L.A., since it was actually shot in Louisiana, and that would provide plausible deniability? Regardless, the look being strived for here is obviously BLACK HAWK DOWN meets DISTRICT 9. Aaron Eckhart leads an army team to find survivors in a besieged Los Angeles that has been bombarded by alien artillery fire. He has three hours to get in and out before the U.S. Military’s bombs drop (implied, but not said in the clip, is that these bombs will be nuclear). Read More »

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EXCLUSIVE: Guillermo Del Toro Talks About ‘Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark,’ And Lessons Learned Before Leaving ‘The Hobbit’

Mike Fleming

He’s a geek god when he walks the halls of Comic-Con. But Guillermo del Toro just told me he feels the phalanx of print and web media at the festival gave short shrift to the reaction of footage that he, producer Mark Johnson and director Troy Nixey presented for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. On Friday, they showed the Comic-Con crowd a chilling eight-minute prologue (think Marathon Man) and a trailer that gave a glimpse of the creatures that haunt a family in the remake of the classic 1973 telepic. It was his second Comic-Con panel, after he announced he’d scared up a writing and producing gig for the movie version of Disney’s Haunted Mansion theme park attraction.

Haunted Mansion must have had them thinking, well that’s the big movie for this guy, but I’m telling you the most successful panel I was on was Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, where we had a house at full capacity, with 6000 asses levitated by both pieces of footage,” del Toro told me. The remake—which stars Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce—shapes up as a potential sleeper when Disney releases in January. That’s a satisfying outcome for del Toro after a twisty road which began because he was such a fan of the original, made during a golden age of horror offerings from ABC that included Trilogy of Terror and Bad Ronald. Del Toro set it up with Bob … Read More »

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Comic-Con 2010 Preview: Friday, July 23


comicon 2010

FRIDAY, JULY 23

STAR WARS DAY (This is a meaningless appellation unless and until George Lucas sees fit to say or do anything regarding the proposed live-action TV series.)

Luke Y Thompson covers Hollywood events at the Con for Deadline:

10:15-11:15 AM: Aloha, Earth! Have you heard they’re doing a new HAWAII FIVE-O TV show? Do you care? Well, you might want to attend the panel anyway, as the show’s executive producers are STAR TREK/TRANSFORMERS scribes Orci and Kurtzman, the director of the pilot is UNDERWORLD’s Len Wiseman, and it stars Daniel Dae Kim (LOST) and Grace Park (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA). Sure, they’ll try to steer the discussion toward this new show rather than talk about what you actually want them to talk about, but it’s a chance to see ‘em all at once anyway. Room 6BCF

11:00 AM-12:00 PM: Star Wars Day: Hasbro Panel. If you’re at Comic-Con, chances are you’ve owned STAR WARS toys at some point. Wanna see some new ones? This is the place. Room 7AB

11:00 AM-1:00 PM: Comic-Con How-To Session: Costuming with Sabrina Belly Dancer. From the official schedule: “Sabrina will show how to create a costume bra top for hall costumes or a masquerade performance.” In saying that, it has practically guaranteed that all the creepy raincoat dudes will come out of the woodwork for this one. Room 18

11:00 AM-12:00 PM: Mattel and DC Comics: A Heroic Partnership. Fans of action-figure collecting love Mattel’s DC superhero toys, and hate how hard … Read More »

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Miramax’s ‘Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark’ Scares Up January Release Date

Mike Fleming

katie-holmes-on-set-of-dont-be-afraid-of-the-dark-july-091-679x1024While its struggle to unload Miramax Films and its library continues, Disney has just set a January 21, 2011 release date for the Miramax thriller Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. The Troy Nixey-directed film, written by Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins, stars Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce. The film is a remake of the 1973 ABC telepic. A young girl, sent to live with her father and his girlfriend, and she is stalked by a swarm of tiny, nasty monsters. The filmmakers expected that the picture would be lost in a custody battle to whatever company won the Miramax library. Despite the fact that the film will be R-rated, there is enthusiasm that it is staying with Disney. I’m told the studio quite likes the film, and while they don’t do R-rated stuff, they can make an exception on the Miramax label.

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