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Fox Makes Epic First-Look Deal With Online Venture For Film-Centric Journalism

By | Monday August 19, 2013 @ 3:15pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has made a two-year first-look pact with Epic, a fledgling online platform designed to be a catalyst for film-centric investigative longform journalism that had formerly been the domain of national magazines. The venture was launched by Joshua Davis and Joshuah Bearman, who between them have made 18 movie option deals for their magazine work, with another two in negotiation. Most memorably, Bearman wrote the Wired magazine story that became the basis for the Ben Affleck-directed Best Picture Oscar winner Argo; and I just wrote recently about Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski signing on to script a Warner Bros movie about software pioneer John McAfee for John Requa and Glenn Ficarra to direct, based on a Wired story written by Davis after he spent weeks with McAfee on his compound in the Belize jungle before the computer wiz was accused of killing a neighbor.   
After Davis and Bearman smartly christened their new venture with a column last week by influential New York Timesman David Carr, it put studios in hot pursuit. According to the guys, five studios and one monied indie company met with them before Bearman’s UTA agents and Davis’ agents at Resolution closed the Fox deal with Circle of Confusion’s Rick Jacobs, who manages both journos. I’m told this pact will include first looks on articles that Davis and Bearman do on their own, even those not on the Epic site. Read More »

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Will Smith’s ‘After Earth’ Fizzles Behind #2 ‘Now You See Me’, ‘Fast 6′ Still Sizzles At #1, ‘Epic’ And ‘Hangover III’ Guzzle Overseas

SUNDAY 1:30 AM, 4TH UPDATE: Still clocking in at #1 is Universal’s Fast & Furious 6 (3,686 theaters) which easily dominated the field again with $34M this weekend. The domestic cume should reach a huge $170M through Sunday. But the big story – or should I say,  the sad story – is Sony Pictures/Columbia’s After Earth (3,401 theaters) starring Will Smith and his son and directed by the now unwatchable M Night Shyamalan. Big online ticketseller Fandango first spotted the pic’s underperformance when After Earth ticket sales began lagging Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment’s Now You See Me (2,925 theaters) on Thursday for shows beginning at 9 PM. The magic-themed heist thriller amazingly overtook After Earth on Friday and stayed #2 all weekend, debuting with $27.5M for the weekend. That overperforms the $20M which the studio was predicting. This pic is breaking the so-called ‘movies about magic’ curse. (But it’s really a caper flick…) The film cost right around $75M with 2/3s mitigated by foreign sales since that’s the Lionsgate model. The studio notes that grosses were strong throughout Friday and into the evening which indicates a broad audience. “Older audiences attended the matinee performances, and the younger audience came out to our late shows,” an exec tells me. Directed by Louis Leterrier (Clash Of The Titans), scripted by credited screenwriters Ed Solomon and Boaz Yakin & Edward Ricourt, and produced by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Bobby Cohen, it has an ensemble cast including Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, and Common with showy roles for vets Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. It earned an ’A-’ CinemaScore which should help word of mouth stay strong.

But #3 After Earth earned only a ‘B’ CinemaScore which won’t help or hurt word of mouth. It opened to a $26.5M weekend. That’s way less than the high $30sM to low $40sM which Sony was predicting and which tracking showed was possible right into Friday. On Friday, rival studios chortled its grosses were ”2.5 times worse than Jaden Smith’s Karate Kid reboot and half of Oblivion‘s opening” with Tom Cruise. Not hard to understand because reviews for the sci-fi newcomer were just plain awful: 13% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. To be fair, Sony Pictures rarely has a big underperformer like this. And rightly or wrongly depending on how much you care about Jaden Smith and/or nepotism in Hollywood, the studio positioned the movie as a broad family film, building on Jaden’s stardom from the worldwide hit The Karate Kid and reaching out to young teens and families. Will Smith’s residual mega-wattage was still strong enough to open the summer tentpole comfortably above $20M. But even that and Sony’s marketing prowess couldn’t overcome this Shyamalan meltdown, yet another in his string of box office stinkers which have made audiences and critics alike completely soured on him. (The director lost me forever after the execrable The Happening…) I’m told that Will really wanted M Night to direct – even though this subject matter decidedly wasn’t in Shyamalan’s wheelhouse - and they together developed the script for a “not terribly expensive” movie. But a budget of at least $130M is hardly insignificant. Still, given the fact that Smith has made billions for Sony Pictures, the studio felt it just couldn’t say no to its most successful movie partner. Now Smith and Sony must weather this very public failure. I’m told the studio worked “really hard” to fix this crapfest in post-production and that even an arrogant know-it-all like Shyamalan was aware the pic didn’t work but couldn’t fix it on his own. ”You keep hoping people are going to be as good as their best work,” one insider told me about this all-too-familiar filmdom situation. “Sometimes some collaborations bring forth amazing results. And some are not meant to be.” Without a solid opening in North America and no chance for a strong summer multiple, pic will have to depend on overseas grosses. Sony launched it internationally day and date in 3 locations this weekend, and Korea opened very strong, but the overseas rollout really begins next week and the week after. As for the studio, it still has projected winners coming up this summer like Grown-Ups 2Elysium, Smurfs 2, and This Is The End from the Superbad/Pineapple Express comedy team.

Hoping to fill that drought in PG family fare at the domestic box office, Twentieth Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios’ Epic (3,894 theaters, the weekend’s biggest count) came in #4 and should be grossing more domestically but isn’t. Even with a big Saturday kiddie bump of +65% from Friday, it’ll only earn a $16M second weekend and $64.7 cume. But the toon’s real story will be international where it released wide Friday.

In #5, Paramount’s Star Trek Into Darkness (3,585 theaters) did a $15.2M weekend and $181M domestic cume. Now a new crop of TV ads finally are targeting new moviegoers and driving traffic among non-Trekkies.

Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures’ The Hangover Part III  (3,565 theaters) was #6 for a disappointingly anemic $15M second weekend and so-so $87.1M cume. Still unclear if in the morning it will finish a place or two ahead or behind in the Top Ten. However, H3 began its overseas wide rollout this weekend and is doing huge international grosses just as expected. On Thursday, it opened in 25 markets and grossed $15.4M for an international cume of $48.2M. Taking advantage of the public holiday, Germany marked the best opening day of the year. Russia is off to an excellent start ranking #1. Other #1 countries include Italy and Brazil (heading into a 4-day holiday weekend). ”These are great numbers, especially when you consider how big Hangover II was internationally – $332M,” a Warner Bros exec tells me.

On Saturday night the only laugher in the marketplace The Hangover Part III had competition from the Vince Vaughn-Owen Wilson buddy comedy directed by Shawn Levy, The Internship, about middle-aged interns inside Google. PG-13 pic doesn’t officially open in 3,000-plus North American theaters until June 7th but Twentieth Century Fox quietly decided to sneak it in 300 theaters for one prime 7 PM show around the country. Hard to believe it’s been 8 years since these actors first teamed up for Wedding Crashers. Even harder to understand why New Line never did a sequel for that or Toby Emmerich didn’t snap up Vaughn’s original script for this. I’ve asked and received no satisfactory answer on both.

1. Fast & Furious 6 (Universal) Week 2 [Runs 3,686] PG13
Friday $10.5M, Saturday $13.6m, Weekend $34.0M (-65%), Cume $169.8M

2. Now You See Me (Summit/Lionsgate) NEW [Runs 2,925] PG13
Friday $10.0M, Saturday $10.9M, Weekend $27.5M

3. After Earth (Columbia/Sony) NEW [Runs 3,401] PG13
Friday $9.8M, Saturday $10.1M, Weekend $26.5M

4. Epic (Blue Sky/Fox) Week 2 [Runs 3,894] PG13
Friday $4.1M, Saturday $6.8M, Weekend $16.0M, Cume $64.7M

5. Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount) Week 3 [Runs 3,585] PG13
Friday $4.4M, Saturday $6.5M, Weekend $15.2M, Cume $181.0M

6. The Hangover Part III (Legendary/Warner Bros) Week 2 [Runs 3,565] R
Friday $5.2M, Saturday $6.0M, Weekend $15.0M (-64%), Cume $87.1M
Read More »

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$317M Record-Breaking Memorial Weekend! #1 ‘Fast & Furious 6′ $317M Global For Franchise Biggest; ‘Hangover III’ $82.2M; ‘Epic’ $86.6M

Box Office Hangover Part IIIMONDAY 8:40 AM, 11TH UPDATE (WRITETHRU COMING): Huge grosses continue for the Top 6 movies and still add up to the biggest Memorial Day weekend and the biggest 4-day holiday ever. That’s $317M total moviegoing, easily beating 2011′s all-time Memorial Weekend record of $276.7M. Universal’s  Fast & Furious 6 opened to an incredible ride around the globe where it is the #1 film by far. THe worldwide cume is $317M. The four-day global cume is $300 million from all 60 territories and set new records for the franchise and the studio. It’s also Universal’s highest domestic and international opening weekend of all time even without 3D or domestic IMAX. (Its overseas-only IMAX launch generated $2+M on 59 screens.) Fast 6 took in $120 million for the four-day Memorial Weekend in North America as the 2nd biggest domestic and international opening of 2013 (behind Disney’s Iron Man 3) and the 4th highest opening for Memorial Weekend in North America. Even with no superheroes, the actioner’s racially and ethnically diverse cast attracted a broad demographic, with 32% Latinos and 49% women and 43% under age 25/57% age 25 plus. Fuller wrap-up later today. For now, here are the latest domestic box office numbers with international cumes and worldwide totals as of Monday:

1. Fast & Furious 6 (Universal) NEW [Runs 3,658] PG13
Friday $38.7M, Saturday $31.5M, Sunday $26.6M
3-Day Weekend $96.8M, 4-Day Holiday $120.0M
Domestic Cume $120.0M, International Total $197.0M, Worldwide Cume $317.0M

2. The Hangover III (Legendary/Warner Bros) NEW [Runs 3,555] R
Friday $14.5M, Saturday $14.6M, Sunday $12.5M
3-Day Weekend $41.7M, 4-Day Holiday $51.2M
Domestic Cume $63.0M, International Total $19.2M, Global Cume $82.2M

3. Star Trek Into Darkness 3D (Skyd/Paramount) Week 2 [Runs 3,907] PG13
Friday $10.0M, Saturday $14.4M, Sunday $12.8M
3-Day Weekend $37.2M, 4-Day Holiday $47.0M
Domestic Cume $155.8M, International Total $102.1M, Global Cume $257.9M

4. Epic 3D (Blue Sky Studios/Fox) NEW [Runs 3,882] PG
Friday $9.3M, Saturday $13.3M, Sunday $10.7M
3-Day Weekend $33.5M, 4-Day Holiday $42.6M
Domestic Cume $42.6M, International Total $44.0M, Global Cume $86.6M

5. Iron Man 3 3D (Marvel/Disney) Week 3 [Runs 3,424] PG13
Friday $5.1M, Saturday $7.4M, Sunday $6.6M
3-Day Weekend $19.2M, 4-Day Holiday $24.3M
Domestic Cume $372.4M, International Total $774.8M, Global Cume $1.14B

6. The Great Gatsby 3D (Vill Road/Warner Bros) Week 3 [Runs 3,090] PG13
Friday $3.9M, Saturday $5.1M, Sunday $4.5M
3-Day Weekend $13.5M, 4-Day Holiday $17.0M
Domestic Cume $117.7M, International Total $85.6M, Global Cume $203.3M

SATURDAY 11:30 AM, 8TH UPDATE: Universal’s Fast & Furious 6 opened day and date with the U.S. and Canada in 59 international territories and is breaking records.  Read More »

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‘Hangover Part III’ Moves Up To May 23rd

By | Wednesday May 8, 2013 @ 11:22am PDT

UPDATE: I’ve been predicting for a while now that Thursday is the new Friday — and soon Wednesday will be the new Thursday — when it comes to movie release dates. Now Warner Bros announced this morning that it is moving up The Hangover Part III to Thursday May 23 “with traditional late shows” that Wednesday. (Toldja!) “Early exhibitor screening reactions have been sensational,” distribution czar Dan Fellman tells me after Part II was considered only mediocre at best. This is the time of year when the major studios start jockeying for position in the theaters to obtain even the slightest advantage. Not to mention to pad first-day Friday grosses. Warner Bros looks to beat the Memorial Day heat, slotting its comedy threequel a day ahead of Universal’s Fast & Furious 6. ”Sounds strange that they would want to diminish the weekend gross they will be reporting by opening one day earlier,” one Uni exec noted to me. “Perhaps they heard that Fast 6, which trade screened yesterday, was fantastic?” Warner Bros was hugely successful releasing The Hangover Part II over Memorial Day weekend 2011. Meanwhile 20th Century Fox’s CGI toon from Blue Sky Studios, Epic, also opens Memorial Day weekend, relieving  a long drought of family-friendly fare.

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Hot Trailer: ‘Epic’

By | Tuesday November 20, 2012 @ 1:52pm PST

Here’s a second trailer for Blue Sky StudiosEpic, the animated 3D film 20th Century Fox will release May 24, 2013. Ice Age‘s Chris Wedge directed the Tom J. Astle & Matt Ember script about a girl who finds herself magically transported into a secret universe deep in the forest where there is a battle between the forces of good and evil. The voice cast includes Amanda Seyfried, Beyonce, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Jason Sudeikis and Steven Tyler.

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Hot Trailer: ‘Epic’

By | Tuesday June 26, 2012 @ 1:03pm PDT

The 3D animated film from 20th Century Fox and Ice Age producer Blue Sky Studios is slated to open May 24, 2013. Epic is described as a battle deep in the forest between the forces of good and evil. When a teenage girl finds herself magically transported into this secret universe, she must band together with a rag-tag team of characters to save that world — which in turn saves the real world. The voice cast includes Beyonce, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried and Steven Tyler. Ice Age helmer Chris Wedge directed a script by Dan Shere that was developed under the title Leafmen. Here’s the trailer that debuted today.

Related: Beyonce, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Steven Tyler Lead Voice Cast For Fox Animated Film ‘Epic’

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Beyonce, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Steven Tyler Lead Voice Cast For Fox Animated Film ‘Epic’

By | Thursday May 31, 2012 @ 10:32am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios have set its voice cast for Epic, the new 3D CG-animated film by the makers of Ice Age and Rio. The Dan Shere-scripted film, which had been developed under the title Leafmen, will star Beyonce Knowles as Queen Tara, Colin Farrell as Ronin, The Hunger Games‘ Josh Hutcherson as Nod, Amanda Seyfried as Mary Katherine, Johnny Knoxville as Mandrake, Aziz Ansari as Mub, rapper Pitbull as Bufo, Jason Sudeikis as Bomba, and Aerosmith and American Idol frontman Steven Tyler as Nim Galuu. Blake Anderson and Judah Friedlander are also in the cast.

The film is directed by Ice Age helmer Chris Wedge, with Lori Forte and Jerry Davis producing. It is described as a battle deep in the forest between the forces of good and evil. When a teenaged girl finds herself magically transported into this secret universe, she must band together with a rag-tag team of fun and whimsical characters to save that world, which in turn saves the real world. Epic will be released May 24, 2013.

This becomes the first movie project for Beyonce since she took time off for maternity leave. She is also attached to star in the Clint Eastwood-directed remake of A Star Is Born for Warner Bros.

Related: Beyoncé Pregnancy Affects ‘A Star Is Born’

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