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‘Final Destination 5′ Is First For UltraViolet In The UK; Will British Users Have Clearer Picture Than In The U.S.?

On December 26, Warner Bros’ Final Destination 5 will become the first UltraViolet-enabled title to be released in the UK via DVD, Blu-ray and Triple Play. From then on, all of the studio’s future home entertainment releases in the UK — including Happy Feet Two, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and The Dark Knight Rises — will fall under the UltraViolet “buy once, play anywhere” scheme. As with its practice in the U.S., Warner will offer the streams via Flixster.

Warner Bros was the first to release UV titles in the U.S. back in October with Horrible Bosses and Green Lantern. Although I was told by a Warner UK spokesman that there is no industry evidence as yet on the impact of the added UltraViolet aspect, the Associated Press today reports that consumers of those earlier films found the system didn’t work as expected. Warner Bros UK spokeswoman Deborah Lincoln, who had not read the AP report but was aware of certain complaints, tells me the confusion was largely related to the fact that those first titles didn’t have download ability to certain devices — which she assured me was not going to be the case in the UK. In part, she said, the confusion may have come from early media reports regarding UltraViolet touting it as an anytime, anywhere technology for all devices including IOS — … Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: UK, Africa, Australia

‘Arthur Christmas’ Slays ‘Em In The UK
Sony Pictures Animation and Aardman’s Arthur Christmas jumped to the top of the UK box office this weekend – in its fourth week of release. This bit of holiday magic came courtesy of a £1.9 million weekend take for a cume of £11.5 million. The film has been holding steady in second place since it bowed on November 11 and this weekend faced off against Happy Feet Two for the family audience. Largely positive notices and the British voice cast — including James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton — have no doubt been a local draw. Sony Pictures Releasing UK’s Peter Taylor said: “Opening a movie at No. 1 in such a competitive market as the UK is difficult enough, but to reach the top of the chart in the fourth week of release is almost unprecedented. We are all delighted.”

Tom Hooper Decides Against 3D For ‘Les Miserables’
Although director Tom Hooper flirted with the idea of filming the new movie version of the hit stage musical Les Miserables in 3D, the Oscar-winning helmer of The King’s Speech has decided to stick with 2D. Hooper told the BBC he had been “very tempted” to use 3D but worried that some audiences might “physically struggle” with the format. Not to worry, purists. “I can definitely announce it’s good old-fashioned 2D,” Hooper said at the British Independent Film Awards. “I wanted to make a film that would touch everyone. I believe the story is so strong, 3D is not essential.” Hooper added that the casting of Eponine and Cosette would be announced soon. “I’ve never done a film where big star actors are as obsessed with being in it as this.” Starring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe as Javert, Read More »

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No Box Office Bounty For T-Day Weekend: ‘Breaking Dawn’ Still #1, ‘The Muppets’ #2, ‘Happy Feet’ #3, ‘Arthur Xmas’ #4, ‘Hugo’ #5

FRIDAY PM/SATURDAY AM, 4TH UPDATE: Full analysis later this morning. But overall Thanksgiving holiday weekend moviegoing is looking like $230 million, which is still down -12% from last year. So the North American box office slump continues. Nevertheless, the Friday after T-Day is traditionally the biggest moviegoing day of the year, and this one didn’t disappoint. Parents and kids did come back into theaters Friday for some of the new family fare which didn’t speed out of the theatrical gate Wednesday or Thursday. It helped that critics bestowed good reviews and audiences gave great CinemaScores to Disney’s rebooted The Muppets which earned an ‘A’ and Sony Pictures’ Arthur Christmas an ‘A-’. But Summit Entertainment’s holdover Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 1 is still the undisputed winner of the holiday weekend derby. Martin Scorsese’s 3D film Hugo scored 97% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoesis and is holding its own considering that it’s playing on 2,000 less screens than all the competition. But it also cost a fortune after going wildly over budget. Meanwhile, The Weinstein Co didn’t provide new numbers yet for platforming its Oscar-buzzed My Week With Marilyn which added 61 markets including Canada for 244 runs Friday. It made $156K Wednesday and $155K Thursday for a projected $2M for the 5-day holiday. The Weinstein Co’s other Academy Awards-touted … Read More »

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Layoffs Follow ‘Happy Feet Two’ Flopping

By | Thursday November 24, 2011 @ 7:32pm PST

It’s bad enough that Happy Feet Two went over budget by $50 million. Or that my sources say Warner Bros plugged it figuring the sequel to the smash-hit 2006 Best Animation Oscar winner would be another big earner. But it’s not. The holiday pic is tanking. Now comes even worse Christmas news. According to an online article today in IF magazine, the Australian digital production company behind Happy Feet Two is laying off 600 staffers in early December. Sydney-based Dr D Studios is the 2007 joint venture between filmmaker George Miller’s and producer Doug Mitchell’s Kennedy Miller Mitchell, which is Australia’s most successful production company, in partnership with The Mapp family’s Omnilab Media Group, which is Australia’s largest film services company. Dr D Studios was intended to rival Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital in New Zealand as a home for high-end effects and digital feature film production. The IF article says some employees were also offered positions at a new company that KMM plans to set up early next year. Now, a retrenchment like this usually follows the end of a big-budget film like Happy Feet Two, and KMM’s Doug Mitchell recently said the business was restructuring as it faced a production gap before the Dr D’s next production, the 4th Mad Max film titled Fury Road.

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‘Breaking Dawn’ Breaks Box Office Slump: $139.5M Domestic Weekend & $283.5M Global Total; ‘Happy Feet 2′ Disappoints

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 8TH UPDATE: Oh sure, you’re too cool (or too male) for the Twilight Saga global phenom. But Summit Entertainment’s Breaking Dawn Part 1 is shattering the four-month-old North American box office slump and shooting the overall moviegoing weekend of $222 million up +14% from last year’s total. Hollywood should be grateful to females young and old for keeping the business buoyed this weekend now that young males have abandoned indiscriminate moviegoing. (Seriously, give thanks early.)
Here is the Top 10 rundown. Full analysis later:

1. Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Summit) NEW [4,061 Theaters]
Friday $72M, Saturday $40.7M, Weekend $139.5M

Yowza! Summit Entertainment was cautiously optimistic that this fourth Twilight Saga installment Breaking Dawn Part 1 could break records. It recorded the 5th best opening weekend of all time, the 3rd best-ever Single Day and Friday opening, and the 2nd best midnight debut. Despite director Bill Condon receiving the worst reviews of the franchise, audiences gave it a ‘B+’ CinemaScore, with females bestowing an ‘A-’. Also, the penultimate pic based on Stephenie Meyer’s vampire romance novels soared internationally as it rolled out in 54 markets around the globe with $144M from Wednesday through Sunday screenings. The global total is now $283.5M. This installment had a budget of $110M budget, the buggest of the franchise. The fact that Breaking Dawn couldn’t exceed New Moon‘s numbers ($142.8M domestic, $296.6M global) isn’t dampening Summit’s relief one bit. Given the dismal state of box office for the past four months, the studio saw that its Twilight Saga is as popular as ever, grossing over $1 billion in international alone to date.

2. Happy Feet Two (Warner Bros) NEW [3,606 Theaters]
Friday $5.9M, Saturday $9.3M, Weekend $22M

Given how well family fare is doing at the North American box office these days, the real test for this 3D sequel to George Miller’s beloved 2D toon will be over Thanksgiving weekend. But for now Happy Feet Two is grossing only half of the 2006 original, which opened to a $41.5 weekend. “One word: disaster. Despite being in 3D,” a rival studio exec snarked to me. But another noted, “No doubt all the families are waiting until next week to go to the movies.” Pic released on the anniversary of the original and received a ‘B+’ CinemaScore from audiences. Hollywood expected an opening in the high $30sM. Nope. Not even close. And next week The Muppets movie debuts so more competition for the tots and their parents. On the other hand, singing and dancing CGI penguins are hard to resist.

3. Immortals (Relativity) Week 2 [3,120 Theaters]
Friday $3.8M, Saturday $5.1M, Weekend $12.2M (-62%), Cume $52.9M

That’s an unfortunate drop for a 300-clone that underperformed last Friday. Immortals is not the Hail Mary that Relativity hoped it would be.

4. Jack And Jill (Sony) Week 2 [3,438 Theaters]
Friday $3.5M, Saturday $5.2M, Weekend $12M (-52%), Cume $41M

This Jack And Jill won’t have the usual gazillion multiple of most of Adam Sandler/Happy Madison comedies.

5. Puss In Boots (DreamWorks Animation/Par) Week 4 [3,415 Theaters]
Friday $2.5M, Saturday $5M, Weekend $10.7M, Cume $122.3M

This toon cat Puss In Boots still has a few more than nine lives left.

6. Tower Heist (Universal) Week 3 [2,942 Theaters]
Friday $2.1M, Saturday $3.2M, Weekend $6.9M, Cume $53.3M

7. J. Edgar (Warner Bros) Week 2 [1,947 Theaters]
Friday $1.8M (-57%), Saturday $2.6M, Weekend $5.9M (-47%), Cume $20.6M

8. Harold & Kumar 3D Xmas (NL/Warner Bros) Week 3 [1,808 Theaters]
Friday $915K, Saturday $1.2M, Estimated Weekend $2.9M, Cume $28.3M

9. In Time (Fox) Week 3 [2,591 Theaters]
Friday $520K, Saturday $750K, Estimated Weekend $1.6M, Estimated Cume $33.4M

10. The Descendants (Fox Searchlight) NEW (opened Wed) [29 Theaters]
Friday $318K, Saturday $493K, Weekend $1.2M, Cume $1.3M

Alexander Payne’s dramedy starring George Clooney had good momentum heading into its opening weekend expansion into 11 additional markets (including Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, San Diego, Denver, Minneapolis, and Toronto). Fox Searchlight’s The Descendants had made $79K from Wednesday and Thursday grosses at 5 theaters (2 in NY and 3 in LA) and this weekend scored an outstanding $42,150 per screen average. The production budget was $20 million with tax rebates and the Academy Awards talk should help the film perform through March. “This comedy/drama is attracting the over-30 upscale audience who is aware of the terrific reviews we have received,” a Fox Searchlight exec tells me. “And exhibition is very excited about the film after seeing it at the Show East Convention in late October.” On Wednesday before Thanksgiving, The Descendants increases to over 60 markets and about 425 theaters. “We feel the Thanksgiving Holiday is an excellent time to be playing wider as it is counter programming to the 3 wide kids films opening on this date. At Searchlight, we fell it really is a marathon and not a race with our releases.”

The initial marketing campaign was launched virally in early May with a web teaser called “Who is he?” which consisted only of a scene from the film with George Clooney goofily running to his neighbor’s house to ask – you guessed it – “Who is he?” Then, at the end of May, Searchlight launched The Descendants trailer on The Tree Of Life linking auteur filmmakers Alexander Payne and Terrence Malick and continued through the summer and into the fall. The film was an audience and critical favorite when it premiered at the 2011 Telluride Film Festival, and the buzz carried over into The Toronto Film Festival. The film went on to play over 15 more festivals including New York and London. Searchlight is now working with various museums and film societies across the county to set Alexander Payne retrospectives and to target urban art house cinefiles initially and eventually upscale suburbanites over Thanksgiving and through December. Read More »

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