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CW Buys Thriller From ‘Easy A’ Writer

By | Tuesday October 18, 2011 @ 10:59am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

The CW has bought Dare, an hourlong action thriller from Easy A writer Bert V Royal, Warner Bros TV and studio-based Lin Pictures. Dare follows six young adults who find themselves forced to play a dangerous and deadly game of Truth or Dare. Royal is exec producing with Dan Lin and Jennifer Gwartz. This is the second sale for Royal, who also has single-camera comedy The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth, based on Alexandra Robbins’ book, set up at ABC with Jennifer Garner producing. On the film side, Royal, repped by Paradigm and manager Dana Jackson, recently sold spec comedy A Thousand Words Or Less to Fox Searchlight and is attached to direct.

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Comedy Central/MTV Networks’ Comedy Awards Announce Nominations

Nellie Andreeva

Comedy Central and MTV networks just announced the nominations for their inaugural Comedy Awards, which will air on April 10. The nominations span 15 categories in TV and film, including best comedy series and film. The best comedy series field includes awards favorites 30 Rock, The Office and Modern Family, along with largely overlooked off-beat comedies It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Eastbound & Down. 30 Rock leads the TV categories with seven noms. The film field is led by Easy A, Cyrus and Kick-Ass with four noms each, including best movie where they will face Get Him to the Greek and The Other Guys. Read More »

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Screen Gems Makes Deal For ‘Easy A’s Emma Stone And Will Gluck To Reunite

By | Friday November 12, 2010 @ 11:24am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Screen Gems has locked Easy A director/producer Will Gluck and star Emma Stone in deals to make another movie together. Gluck will write it, and direct and produce, while Stone will star and be executive producer. They are working out the beats of the film but the goal of Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper is to have the picture ready to start production next summer. Stone will be free by then after starring alongside Andrew Garfield in the Marc Webb-directed Spider-Man reboot. Gluck will write it while readying the Justin Timberlake-Mila Kunis Screen Gems comedy Friends With Benefits for July 22 release. Easy A has grossed north of $65 million worldwide since it was released in September. Read More »

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FACEBOOK FILM #1: ‘The Social Network’ Opens With $23M Weekend; Big In Cities: “Rest Of The Country Could Care Less”

SATURDAY PM UPDATE: Sources have given me North American grosses for Friday, Saturday, weekend, and cumes:

1. The Social Network (Sony) NEW [2,771 Theaters]
Friday $8M, Saturday $8.9M, Weekend $23M

The stories behind Microsoft and Apple only rated TV movies. But The Social Network received the full big screen PG-13 treatment as the first major pedigreed project about the Internet that wasn’t just another crime thriller. It’s that rarity in Hollywood: a younger movie with adult dialogue but not without an element of risk because it’s a drama. “Big kudos to Amy Pascal because it was not an obvious movie to make,” one Hollywood influencer reminded me. That’s why media coverage of this much-buzzed-about Facebook origins pic has been so breathless about every nuance of the marketing campaign: from the launch of the initial teaser spots to the brilliant one-sheet to the enigmatic trailer and “punk, genius, billionaire” outdoor ads.

It’s never been in doubt that this movie would be a success for Sony since it claims to have kept its budget under $40M thanks to no stars and deferred compensations for the filmmakers. But was it over-hyped? “No matter where we open, I think we will play for a long time with excellent word of mouth,” a Sony exec boasted to me. “For a film skewed towards adults this time of year, $20M is our bar and would be a fantastic start.” But Hollywood expected $25M and the pic slightly underperformed – $8M Friday (including $350K in post-midnight showings), up +11% for $8.9M Saturday, and with an estimated $6.1M that’s $23M this weekend. Still, I’m surprised box office wasn’t even better despite its middling release — like $30+M given its obvious Facebook/My Space/Twitter effect. Too bad those Harvard pretenders in the pic didn’t have more sex or dress better. And they’re brooders without even being vampires. And Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is no super-hero. But, seriously, the reason may well lie in the film’s elitism which could be keeping more mainstream audiences away. “Left coast, right coast, and a smidge of Chicago only. The rest of the country could care less,” a rival studio exec pointed out the pic’s attendance patterns to me late Friday, adding Saturday. “It’s a big city pic only.”

The Social Network isn’t just a figment of hype; it logged a “B+” Cinemascore and very positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Exit surveys showed the opening weekend audience was 53% female and 55% were ages 25 and older. Based on the book Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, the film ironically wasn’t made by a new filmmaking generation but by the same old showbiz veterans: scripted by Aaron Sorkin (who made $3 million for the writing assignment) and directed by David Fincher (who I’m told took no money upfront at first) and produced by Scott Rudin (who also deferred everything but his producing fee) and Mike De Luca, Dana Brunetti, and Cean Chaffin.

Since its Labor Day screenings for the Hollywood influencers began, it’s been touted for a Best Picture Oscar — although I worry it’s peaking too early because of its early October release date. But from a box office standpoint, that’s the same weekend Social Network star Jesse Eisenberg’s Zombieland debuted last year to #1 with $24.7M for Sony. With 2 big movies opening around $24M each to his credit, Jesse is a new and unlikely star. Justin Timberlake again demonstrates he can act. And even the pic’s unknown stars are reaping its rewards: Sony recently cast Andrew Garfield as its rebooted Spider-Man, and chose Rooney Mara for the Hollywood version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo which, not surprisingly, Fincher is directing and Rudin producing.

The Social Network‘s tracking was unexpected. At first, its awareness was highest among adults. (“Old people thought it looked cool,” laughed one insider.) Then across-the-board strength built among ages 17-34 and teens both male and female. That’s because the Internet outreach campaign for younger people didn’t kick in until 2 weeks ago while campaigns for older people have to be laid in much longer in advance. Sorkin took the movie on a college tour for Sony as part of an extensive word-of-mouth screening campign. And the studio even ran a sweepstakes online where, if you had more than 500 friends on any social network site, you could enter to win a random drawing to host a screening of the film in every state for 50 friends. “The buzz has been building, and I have never seen a crescendo that is so unanimously strong,” a Sony exec gushed to me. The Social Network Original Score Album by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross even rocked the music charts as the top seller on Amazon’s MP3 Store.

2. Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls (Warner Bros) Week 2 [3,575 Theaters]
Friday $2.6M, Saturday $5M, Weekend $11M (-32%), Cume $30.1M

What a surprise #2 thanks to a big +90% Saturday kiddie matinee bounce. Though its opening weekend numbers didn’t heat up audiences, but it’s holding well.

2. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Fox) [3,597 Theaters]
Friday $3.2M, Saturday $4.3M, Weekend $10.1M (-47%), Cume $35.8M

A decent hold from what was a decent opening a week ago. Fox still thinks it skated, and I agree.

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‘Wall Street 2′ Banks $19M For Oliver’s Best Opening; ‘Guardians’ #2; ‘The Town’ Holds

Sorry for delays… circumstances out of my control.

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: Here are the Top 10 North American grosses for Friday, Saturday, weekend and cume:

1. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Fox) NEW [3,565 Runs]
Friday $7M, Saturday $7.6M, Weekend $19M

Is it possible to make a sequel 23 years later? Only if it’s an iconic original about a still relevant subject featuring a fascinating anti-hero made by a controversial director with a fine cast. The Hustler sequel Color Of Money had a 25 year span and did fine. And for weeks tracking had been strong for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. I’ve been obsessed with this from development through casting into production because the 1987 movie was so seminal. After all, that den of thieves is as responsible for our current financial crisis as are the politicians. The question is whether filmgoers are ready to relive pain that hasn’t ended or rewind history skewed by the crazy Oliver Stone. That’s his best-ever opening not adjusted for inflation or theater counts or higher ticket prices, after his 2006 World Trade Center ($18.7M) and his 2004 Alexander ($13.6M).

Hollywood had expected more, and Fox hoped for $22M after lowering expectations for this PG-13 adult-themed economics lesson. (Many newspapers even assigned their business reporters to review it.) I hear the studio’s actual cost on the pic was $65M including a $5M tax rebate, reshoots, and additional editing post-Cannes Film Festival in May. But after a disastrous summer, Fox is relieved. After all, with Michael Douglas braving cancer, nobody was sure how much promo he could do. And with Oliver Stone putting his foot in his mouth (the part-Jewish filmmaker made several apologies after that July newspaper interview where he complained about Jewish influence in U.S. media and foreign policy and Holocaust remembrance), nobody was sure how much promo he should do.

I can’t help wondering how the movie would have differed with Javier Bardem, the first choice for the stock-shorting hedge fund villain played by Josh Brolin. The financial press says the character bears resemblance to JP Morgan head Jamie Dimon. Brolin’s firm is modeled on Goldman Sachs. Frank Langella’s persona according to the NYT is former Bear Stearns CEO Jimmy Cayne but others say it’s the firm’s ex-chairman Alan “Ace” Greenberg. Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko was partly Ivan Boesky and partly Michael Milken in the original, but now is a post-prison Nostradamus predicting doom and gloom. The real economist credited with forseeing the economic debacle is Nouriel Roubini who gets a cameo in the sequel. Charlie Sheen was supposed to be young insider trader Denise Levine. His successor Shia LaBeouf is playing Shia as always; when is this kid going to show range? Meanwhile, a long list of Wall Street types offered their help to make sure first Stephen Schiff’s and then 21 and Things We Lost In The Fire screenwriter Allan Loeb’s sequel was accurate, just as the previous generation had done for the great scripter Stanley Weiser and his film school pal Oliver both credited as writers of the original. I’m told theaters around the real Wall Street sold out Friday matinees. But Stone never got the satisfaction of seeing Wall Street 2 released “just when the market’s most volatile,” as he hoped it would be this week. That’s because Fox pushed off the April 23rd release date. Had that not happened, Douglas wouldn’t have been diagnosed yet, Stone wouldn’t have been mouthy about Jews yet, and the stock market wouldn’t have been ticking upward in turnaround yet. The later release does make the sequel more awards-friendly, especially for Michael Douglas in the Best Supporting category. I’m reminded that then Fox chief Barry Diller hated Wall Street and thought his big Oscar film that year was Broadcast News, which arrived with 7 nominations but left empty handed. Whereas Douglas won Best Actor. 

2. Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls (Warner Bros) NEW [3,575 Runs]
Friday $4.5M, Saturday $6.9M, Weekend $16.3M

Warner Bros counter-programmed with 3D flying owl warriors and marketed it like a PG-13 Narnia flick. Wanna know why tracking has been lagging for this $100M budget-buster? The title Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole was convoluted, author Kathryn Lasky’s book series isn’t widely known, the voice cast was predominantly Aussie, and Zach Snyder who directed the very violent Watchmen was making his family fare debut. (Yikes, cover those kids’ eyes!) The TV ads never even mention the connection to Animal Logic, the animation studio behind the hit Happy Feet. Sometimes I think studios try to repel audiences. Of its 3,575 theaters, 2,479 were 3D locations, of which 193 are IMAX. Read More »

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