EXCLUSIVE: Glee creator Ryan Murphy is Sony Pictures’ top choice to direct a re-imagining of the Broadway musical Annie, with Willow Smith playing the lovable orphan. The project was recently set at Sony Pictures by Overbrook Entertainment partners James Lassiter, Ken Stovitz, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith in the joint venture they formed with Jay-Z to generate films. Sony Pictures has made the approach to Murphy, but it’s early days.
Though Willow Smith is a relative newcomer to the screen (she has I Am Legend and Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl on her resume), she scored a hit record with Whip My Hair!, and Sony’s bet on her brother Jaden in the Overbrook-produced Karate Kid remake resulted in a big hit. Murphy is also well regarded at Sony, where he directed Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts and made a $5 million … Read More »
SUNDAY AM UPDATE: Weekend wonders never cease. Friday the Thirteenth weekend proved lucky for a pair of faded stars. Overall box office looks about $140M (about even with last year’s) and had something for everyone — men/women, old/young, romance/bromance, winners/losers/dropouts. It’s so competitive that The Expendables was marketing itself by pitting Sly Stallone against Pretty Woman: “Guys, don’t let Julia Roberts win”. I love the smell of napalm. North American numbers were refined this AM:
1. The Expendables (Lionsgate) NEW [3,270 Theaters]
Friday $13.3M, Saturday $11.8M, Est Sunday $9.8M, Weekend $35M
Even when The Expendables came on tracking, it looked big. And the timing couldn’t have been better what with Lionsgate getting beaten up by Carl Icahn on a daily basis, and Sylvester Stallone needing a fresh hit in his dotage. Kudos to Sly for coming up with such an irresistible concept directing and starring with today’s and yesteryear’s action heroes like Jason Statham, Jet Li, Randy Couture, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, and even Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger (for nanoseconds in cameos). “Are The Expendables wearing Dependables?” one rival studio exec snarked in an email to me.
Still, it’s the kind of old school camp that the action box office needs — and received a “B+” CinemaScore. The audience was 61% male/39% female, as expected, and 60% over age 25/40% under age 25. Older women were 26%, equal to the percentage of men under 25. Friday’s grosses included a little Thursday midnight money. And Saturday’s fell about 7%. But the weekend fell in line with Hollywood’s big prediction for the pic despite being R-rated and only 2D. … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Their first picture together, Eat Pray Love, based on the Elizabeth Gilbert bestseller, isn’t in theaters this summer until August 13th so Sony Pictures doesn’t know how it will fare yet. Nevertheless, the studio just made one of the year’s biggest pitch deals, paying Glee co-creator/executive producer Ryan Murphy $2.5 million to write an untitled star vehicle for Julia Roberts, and another $2.5 million to direct it. CAA made Murphy’s $5M deal.
In the romantic comedy, Julia will play a working woman married to a stay-at-home husband. She loses her job, their roles are reversed, and she has to adjust to motherhood. Plan B’s Brad Pitt and Dede Gardner will produce with Murphy. Pitt and Gardner also produced Eat Pray Love in which Murphy directed Roberts. That pic was put in turnaround by Paramount with Julia Roberts attached, then picked up by Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal who paid Julia $10M to play a woman who walks away from her marriage to travel the world and find herself.
I hear Pascal made this new deal because Murphy and Roberts worked so well together, and because Pascal likes what she has in Eat Pray Love even though it’s a one-quadrant movie (older females). Murphy returns to Glee but will start writing soon in hopes of putting the new picture in production next year when he has an “out” in his TV contract enabling him … Read More »