Catch up on your holiday news with Deadline’s best film stories of the week:
Christmas Box Office: Weekend Up 10% On More Movies In Marketplace, ‘Hobbit,’ ‘Frozen,’ Together Take 34% Out Of Weekend, ‘Anchorman 2,’ ‘Hustle,’ ‘Wolf’ Follow
By Anita Busch – What a weekend. Box office was up overall about 10% from a year earlier Christmas weekend and may just slightly surpass last year’s overall record of $10.8B, according to Rentrak, to a bit over $10.9B. It’s actually just around 1% ahead so let’s not get all breathless here as there are simply more movies in the marketplace this year and ticket price and attendance figures are not yet available.
Year-End: Will Big Media Companies Hit Their Stride, Or Their Peak, In 2014?
By David Lieberman – People in and around the media business stock market may look at 2013 as the calm before the storm. The Dow Jones Media Index, up nearly 39% this year (as of mid-December), is the highest it’s been in at least a decade while stock prices are at or near all-time highs for industry leaders including CBS, Comcast, Discovery Communications, Disney, Netflix, and Viacom.
OSCARS: Ballots Are Out And The Race Is On, But Will Voters See The Movies In Time?
By Pete Hammond – OK Oscar voters, the pressure is on. Ballots are in the mail — or should we say email – as of today, and the Academy has been bending over backwards to make sure everything is going to go smoothly this year after a well-documented bumpy inaugural ride with electronic voting last season.
Italian Distributor Apologizes After Recalling ‘12 Years A Slave’ Posters
By The Deadline Team – BIM Distribuzione has officially apologized for the 12 Years A Slave posters in Italy that featured more Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender than the film’s main star Chiwetel Ejiofor – ones that were unauthorized by Summit and Lionsgate.
OSCARS: Sundance Selects Ramps Up ‘Blue Is The Warmest Color’ Star’s Best Actress Bid (Video)
By Pete Hammond – At just 19 years old, new French acting sensation Adele Exarchopoulos became the youngest winner ever of the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or when the jury — led by Steven Spielberg — made an unprecedented move this past spring.
Catch up on Deadline’s best film stories of the week:
Emerging Star Gal Gadot Set To Play Wonder Woman In ‘Batman Vs. Superman’
By Mike Fleming Jr. – Warner Bros and Zack Snyder have found their Wonder Woman. They’ve cast Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot in the iconic role and she will be part of Batman Vs. Superman, the film that will see Henry Cavill square off with Ben Affleck.
Paul Walker’s Manager Matt Luber Looks Back On 18 Years Growing Up Together
By Mike Fleming Jr. – EXCLUSIVE: When they help build a Hollywood star career, agents and managers know it can all end in a moment. That usually comes in the form of a phone call, informing them that client has dropped them for another rep. While that is hard to bear, I have been imagining how much worse it has been for Luber Rocklin Entertainment’s Matt Luber. His 18-year run with Paul Walker ended with a Saturday phone call as Luber and his daughter were leaving a sports bar to attend a college football game in Phoenix. That is when Luber learned that Walker had died instantly at age 40 in a tragic car crash.
Ben Affleck On Playing Batman, And How Not To Accept An Academy Award
By Mike Fleming Jr. – For Playboy’s 60th anniversary issue, the magazine needed an iconic subject for the Playboy Interview, and I hit the lottery. I got to talk with actor-writer-director-producer Ben Affleck about his life and the remarkable second act that he wrote for himself as writer-director of Gone Baby Gone and The Town, which culminated in the Best Picture Oscar for Argo.
UPDATE: Universal Formalizes ‘Fast & Furious 7′ Postponement, But There Are No Plans To End Franchise
Dominic Patten contributed to this report
UPDATE, 11:33 AM: Sources involved in Fast & Furious 7 said there are no plans to scrap the franchise after star Paul Walker‘s tragic death Saturday in a car crash. And that makes business sense: The franchise is one of the most lucrative in Hollywood, having already made more than $2.4 billion for Universal. The sixth installment, released this past summer, made almost $789 million worldwide at the box office. It is too early to determine whether the production will recast or rewrite and all options are being considered. The film, which was filming in Atlanta, has roughly 50% of that location shoot completed. Other locations for the film were set for the Middle East.
PREVIOUS, 10:20 AM: Universal Pictures has formalized something that seemed obvious since the weekend. The studio has indefinitely postponed production on Fast & Furious 7 following the tragic death of Paul Walker in a car accident that occurred while the cast and crew were on a holiday break. I’ve seen reams of web speculation, even one traffic grabber that the studio might scrap the film, and wow it all seems so creepy to me. Work on the half-done production would have resumed two days ago. The studio, the director James Wan, writer Chris Morgan and producer Neal Moritz have just begun trying to figure out what to do to keep this billion-dollar franchise alive.
It seems fairly obvious the film will not make its July 2014 release date, and it also feels highly unlikely they will shoot a foot of film before the end of this year. Beyond allowing a mourning period for the traumatized cast and crew to get past the death of an actor who I’m told was the kind of guy who knew the names of everybody on set, there are major creative hurdles to overcome here. It is laudable of the studio and filmmakers to factor all of these variables and take the time to make the right decision before bringing everyone back to work. I don’t think there is a chance that the studio would abandon the franchise, as has been speculated elsewhere. Here is a formal statement by the studio:
7th UPDATE, 10:03 AM: Fast & Furious star Paul Walker died of trauma and burn injuries, the LA County Coroner’s office said today. The autopsy was completed last night, sources say. Walker was killed Saturday after he and friend Roger Rodas crashed in a red 2005 Porsche Carrera GT while driving it in Santa Clarita, CA. Rodas was driving the luxury car with Walker in the passenger seat. Rodas died from “multiple traumatic injuries” said the Coroner’s report, with Walker’s death resulting from the “combined effects of traumatic and thermal injuries.” Both deaths have been ruled to be the result of an accident. On a Thanksgiving break from filming Fast & Furious 7, the 40-year-old actor had been at a nearby charity event just beforehand. A LAPD investigation of the incident is ongoing, as is the Coroner’s toxicology examination. The latter is expected to take 6-8 more weeks.
Fast & Furious star Paul Walker died Saturday in a Southern California car crash at the age of 40. He had recently been filming Universal’s Fast & Furious 7 sequel. Read more here. Click on photos after the jump to launch a slideshow.
4TH UPDATE 10:20 PM: The Santa Clarita office of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department just issued an update on the fatal car accident involving actor Paul Walker, declaring that “speed was a factor in the solo vehicle collision” and listing the car involved as a red 2005 Porsche Carrera GT. According to sources, the man behind the wheel was Roger Rodas, a friend of Walker’s and owner of Always Evolving, a Valencia-based performance shop for high-end vehicles, who listed Porsche Carrera GT as one of his top 3 favorite cars of all time on the company’s web site. The two, who shared a love for cars, are believed to have gone for a ride at the end of the charity event for Reach Out Worldwide, which both Walker and Always Evolving supported.
3RD UPDATE: The shocking death of 40-year old actor Paul Walker has begun to overwhelm a holiday weekend in Hollywood, and studios that worked with the easygoing star are reaching out with statements. Walker recently wrapped Brick Mansions, the remake of the parkour-heavy French action film Banlieue 13 that Relativity will release next November 27. He grew close with Relativity president Tucker Tooley, who said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the sudden death of Paul Walker. Paul was an incredibly talented artist, devoted philanthropist and friend. Our hearts go out to his family and our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
Others who worked with the model-handsome star said that he loved surfing, loved his daughter Meadow, and that he was an animal lover. Despite his financial success from the Fast & The Furious franchise, Walker lived a relatively modest and simple life and did not get caught up in the trappings of being a movie star. He was a likeable young man who was devoted to his family. His full name was Paul Walker IV, and his father, grandfather and great grandfather all bore the same name.
Universal Pictures, where Walker made the Fast & Furious movies he was best known for, hasn’t yet disclosed how this tragedy will impact the movie that is now in production. Of Walker, the studio said in a statement: “All of us at Universal are heartbroken. Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the Fast and Furious films, and to countless fans. We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Paul’s family.”
2ND UPDATE: Fast & Furious star Paul Walker was riding as passenger at the end of a charity event for Reach Out Worldwide at the time of his death, according to an update to his Paul Walker‘s official Twitter and Facebook page: “It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide. He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in which both lost their lives. We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news. Thank you for keeping his family and friends in your prayers during this very difficult time. We will do our best to keep you apprised on where to send condolences. – #TeamPW”
— Paul Walker (@RealPaulWalker) December 1, 2013
PREVIOUS 6:58 PM: Fast & Furious actor Paul Walker has died, his rep team has confirmed. He was 40. TMZ first reported Walker was one of two passengers killed in a car crash in Santa Clarita County, California. The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff department has confirmed to Deadline that a fatal collision occurred Saturday afternoon at 3:30 PM on Rye Canyon Loop in Valencia where two victims inside a vehicle engulfed in flames were pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of the collision is under investigation.
The sequel to summer hit Fast & Furious 6, which scored the best worldwide opening in Universal’s history, continues to …