EXCLUSIVE: Tarsem Singh, whose latest film Immortals just opened and who follows with the Julia Roberts-starrer Snow White film Mirror, Mirror, has become attached to Killing On Carnival Row. That is a script by Travis Beacham that producers Arnold and Anne Kopelson originally set up six years ago. It was a hot spec and the very first sale for Beacham, whose subsequent credits include Clash of the Titans, Pacific Rim, the Disney remake Black Hole, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at Fox. The Kopelsons, who originally set it at New Line, have gotten close to making the film with Guillermo Del Toro and Neil Jordan, but they feel that Singh will put them over the top. Arnold Kopelson said he’s in talks with a studio he wouldn’t reveal but expects to begin production on the noir-style fantasy thriller next June in New Orleans. He’s starting to cast. The script takes place in the future in a city called the Burgue, which looks a lot like 18th Century London. It is inhabited by humans and other creatures, and a serial killer is on the loose. “I am thrilled that Tarsem will direct Carnival Row, which we’ve been developing over the past six years,” Kopelson told me. “His extraordinary visual sense and use of light and color can be compared to that of the great 16th Century Italian painter Michelangelo Caravaggio.” Singh has been circling several films, including Nautica with Escape …
SUNDAY AM, 3RD UPDATE: Latest Top 10 grosses show better North American box office than previously thought thanks to the Veterans Day holiday weekend when school is out in 60% of the country. The good news is a break from slumping attendance with a $137M total moviegoing weekend, up +18% from last year. But the bad news is that these movies are still way underperforming what they should have done on a holiday weekend. That’s because these major studio pics were definitely not crowd-pleasers. Just check out their Rotten Tomatoes scores. But the real question is why Hollywood released two young male-skewing movies the weekend right after two major video games were released. Anecdotal evidence is that the guys were otherwise engaged. Full analysis coming:
1. Immortals 3D (Relativity) NEW [3,112 Theaters]
Friday $14M, Saturday $10M, Weekend $32M
Richard Branson didn’t waste any time blogging to his peeps today: “Congratulations to Jason and the whole team at Virgin Produced for Immortals, their follow up film to Limitless, going straight to number one at the box office this weekend. Jammy bastards!!” He’s as good at spinning underwhelming box office as Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh. Truth is Immortals started out slow: it did an unexciting $1.4M in Thursday midnight gross from approximately 900 locations then expanded runs and grosses for Friday but lost -30% Saturday. Pic eked out a $30+M weekend bow, which is a rarity these days. But you also must realize that Immortals is a 300-clone yet didn’t make even 45% of the $70.8M opening amount that the original 2D movie did back in 2006. Even with the higher 3D ticket prices. Immortals should have made $50+M, folks, given the genre and promotion. “300 was absolutely a big success, but we are in a different economy, marketplace, and time of year,” a Relativity exec told me Friday night. “Young males have been hard to get over the past year. It’s a significant accomplishment that we got them. We are well positioned to be the 3rd highest R-rated film this year and the highest R-rated action film this year. This is a win for us.” Needless to say, Relativity is known for its bluster. But it also claims reduced risk from foreign pre-sales on the supposedly $75M-budgeted film. Then explain to me why, for 2 years, Relativity was telling everybody and their mother that the budget of Immortals was $120M. (Don’t believe me? Go back and do a Google search). It sold the film internationally to foreign buyers with a budget of $120M. Now, all of a sudden, the budget is $75 million because of what Relativity says are tax rebates for shooting and doing post production in Montreal? Puh-leeze.
Audiences gave Immortals a ‘B’ CinemaScore but Rotten Tomatoes recorded just 37% positive reviews. That’s lousy considering the pic is from the producers of 300 (Mark Canton and Gianni Nunnari). Yet now Relativity tries to claim this new epic adventure is “completely original — it’s not derived from a comic book; is not based on a novel; and is not a sequel.” Tarsem Singh (The Cell, The Fall) directed and Charles Parlapanides & Vlas Parlapanides are the credited screenwriters. Marketing was aggressive and therefore expensive. It kicked off at Wondercon in April, followed by Comic-Con in July, and what even the studios says was a “barrage” of publicity media appearances, in-theater marketing, outdoor advertising, and radio/TV spots. Partnerships/alliances included Best Buy. Relativity owns worldwide rights to Immortals; Lionsgate handled foreign sales. Alliance Films is releasing in Canada. About 70% of locations played the film in 3D.
Pic opened in over 35 international territories including China, UK, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Russia. Current estimated weekend box office is approximately $36M with a number of territories (including Indonesia and India) still to report. Relativity says this was the first title releasing through Sky Land, its joint venture with IDG and Saif Partners in China. The list of foreign output partners and additional territories is as long as my arm, including Austria/Constantin, Bulgaria/MGN, China/Sky Land, Finland/Nordisk, Germany/Constantin, Greece/Village, India/Soundspace, Israel/Forum, Italy/RAI, Japan/Universal, Netherlands/A-Film, Russia/CIS/MGN, Romania/MGN, South Africa/Nu Metro, South Korea/Next, Sweden/Nordisk, Turkey/Aqua, UK/Universal, United Arab Emirates/Gulf, Malaysia/PT Parkit, Taiwan/SSG.
2. Jack And Jill (Sony Pictures) NEW [3,438 Theaters]
Friday $9.8M, Saturday $9.6M, Weekend $26M
Sony Pictures’ Jack And Jill starring Adam Sandler was hard-pressed to equal his usual $30+M opening comedies. (Maybe moviegoers aren’t as moronic as Hollywood thinks they are.) Rotten Tomatoes gave this turkey only a 3% positive score. Pic received a ‘B’ CinemaScore but also an ‘A-” from audiences under age 18. After releasing a trailer that was as viciously derided as I’ve ever seen on Deadline, Sony is relieved this Christmas-themed PG movie at least opened. So Adam is off the hook. “It’s a family film so it will play to a better multiple through the season than his normal movies,” one rival studio exec tells me. But you’ve gotta wonder if Sandler is developing a Jim Carrey problem and the public will stop supporting him if he’s in too many stinkers like this. Sony is somewhat alarmed that Adam keeps working with the same cronies in almost every film, but the studio also can’t tell its long-time golden goose Happy Madison to stop laying eggs. Sony sources claim the film was made for $80M and, unlike many comedians, Adam’s films do healthy business overseas because he’s worked at becoming a foreign draw. “So we will be in good shape when all is said and done,” the studio assures me. Unless moviegoers keep remembering what a suckfest this was and can’t get that bad taste out of their mouths when they think of paying for another film. Folks, it’s releases like this that are killing the biz.
That said, Sony did its usual stellar job building awareness for this turkey directed by Dennis Dugan and produced by Sandler, Jack Giarraputo, and Todd Garner. The screenplay os credited to Steve Koren & Adam Sandler with story by Ben Zook. The marketing campaign targeted Sandler’s core fans, and the concept was easy to grasp. (Uh, that was the problem…) Adam did his usual plethora of appearances and promotions to support the pic. In addition to the stuff you’d expect (Leno, Kimmel, Conan, Letterman, Today Show, Regis and Kelly, ad nauseum), he also taped an intro for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, and did a recent episode of Dr. Phil featuring the real life twins from the movie. There were integrations with The X Factor and Survivor: South Pacific, interstitials on Nickelodeon, tie-ins on Comedy Central as well as promotions on TBS, ABC Family, and Univision, among others. Online Sony held an awkward sibling photo contest (awkwardfamilyphotos.com) and networked on social media with Sandler’s extensive fanbase, including his 25 million friends on Facebook.
Tarsem Singh’s Immortals chalked up an estimated $1.4 million in Thursday midnight screenings in roughly 900 locations. Frequently compared with 300, Immortals shares a couple of producers on that movie — Mark Canton and Gianni Nunnari. It’s also of interest because it offers a look at Henry Cavill, who in addition to playing the mortal Theseus in Relativity’s movie has been cast as the Man of Steel in Warner Bros’ reboot of Superman. It’ll be interesting to see how well Immortals lives up to its title as the day and the weekend progress.
The Immortals star confirms on The Tonight Show that he almost became the new James Bond (“down to Daniel and me”) and was Stephenie Meyer’s first choice for Twilight (“she apparently was very keen on me playing it, but by the time it came around to casting I was too old”). In Man Of Steel, Russell Crowe plays his father. But 11 years ago, Cavill appeared as an extra in the Crowe pic Proof Of Life. Cavill walked up to Crowe and asked what it was like to be an actor. And two days later received a photo of Russell in Gladiator signed, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Cavill says he trained two hours a day for eight months to play Superman and talks about the new look here:
Relativity Media today became the first film studio to partner with the digital music service Spotify. Tarsem Singh’s Immortals will be the first Relativity movie to get promoted on Spotify. The epic adventure pic, starring Henry Cavill, Kellan Lutz and Freida Pinto, is set for release in the U.S. on Nov. 11. The long-term agreement with Spotify was negotiated by Relativity’s digital ad agency, Palisades Media Group. Spotify, which has 10 million users, is among the companies offering a social app through Facebook that will integrate entertainment into the social networking site.
Deadline Comic-Con Movie Contributor Luke Y Thompson reports:
It’s the story every media outlet is dying to tell every year: “Comic-Con just ain’t what it used to be.” This year, however, the event — set for July 21-24 at the San Diego Convention Center — comes with some alarmist (and circumstantial) evidence: Warner Bros won’t be doing a movie presentation. Marvel Studios won’t be either, even though the tiniest teaser for The Avengers last year made for the most memorable panel. Disney initially appeared absent too. So what’s going on? Did the failure of Scott Pilgrim to triumph at the box office following a massive Con promotion last year leave studios leery?
Well, you’d think if that were the case, Universal would feel the most burned — yet they’re doubling down by holding the premiere of Cowboys and Aliens there, inviting many of the fans to attend; one would imagine the big names like Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig will at least attend.
Disney, which now owns the Muppets and Marvel Studios, is likely saving those properties for its own D23 Expo in Anaheim toward the end of August. They are, however, bringing the DreamWorks pickup Fright Night to Comic-Con (in presentation and screening form) — notably, this is a movie that will open Aug. 19, the same day the D23 Expo begins, so it makes sense to hype it sooner. Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are the big names attending; curiously, the publicity has consistently downplayed the presence of former Doctor Who star David Tenant, and he has not been mentioned as attending, though he’d be given a hero’s welcome if he did.
Warner Bros’ lack of a movie panel may largely be due to the fact that the next Superman and Batman movies aren’t ready to show much yet — Man of Steel star Henry Cavill will be there, but on behalf of Relativity’s Immortals (also Luke Evans, Kellan Lutz and Mickey Rourke; director Tarsem Singh is not currently expected). Certainly WB is showing a ton of TV previews, but I’ll leave that to my colleague Gary Hodges to discuss. The biggest question mark in my mind is what Time Warner-owned Entertainment Weekly will put on the cover of their Comic-Con issue now: traditionally, it’s been a big reveal from a Warners movie.
The biggest name being batted about right now as a possibility is Steven Spielberg, to present footage from his The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. Certainly, a Tintin presentation would be wise, as the teaser has left many (myself included) highly skeptical. The fanbase needs persuading, and since it’s Spielberg, there’s probably at least one kickass scene that can get people hyped. But Paramount’s still playing things close to the vest — when I asked a publicist there about Comic-Con plans, I was told “It’s uncertain what or if we’re bringing anything.” That’s not a denial. And there has been talk of a Captain America screening — whether that translates into an actual panel is uncertain, as the regular press junkets and such will already be in full swing for the movie, opening that week.
Months ago, Relativity Media released a teaser trailer for Immortals, the big-budget Tarsem Singh-directed pic that stars Henry Cavill, who subsequently was chosen by Warner Bros, Zack Snyder and Chris Nolan to be Superman in Man of Steel. Deadline’s comment contingent beat up on that teaser pretty good. Now, Relativity has generated the full trailer for a film that’ll be released Nov. 11. Is it any better?
Long Partnership Between Italian Filmmakers Vittorio Cecchi Gori And Giannani Nunnari Unravels In Court
For 300 producer Gianni Nunnari, the decision to sue former longtime employer Vittorio Cecchi Gori for getting axed in 2008 has so far proven as ill-advised as sending 300 Spartans to hold off the entire Persian army at Thermopylae.
A rather stunning legal judgment was rendered last week by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Amy D. Hogue. Not only did she not embrace Nunnari’s assertion that he’d been wronged to the tune of $2.5 million when Cecchi Gori showed up unannounced in his L.A. offices and cleaned house., closing the Cecchi Gori Pictures outpost and firing the staff. In a tentative decision, the judge put Nunnari on the hook for nearly $14 million, for breaching his fiduciary duties as the head of VCG’s Hollywood operations, and funneling choice film projects and fees to his own Hollywood Gang Productions shingle. The judge’s award to CGP amounts to the fees earned on several recent films: $8.6 million for 300, $3.26 million for Silence (the film Martin Scorsese has been tied to for over a decade), $1.35 million on Everybody’s Fine, and $700,000 for Immortals, the Tarsem Singh-directed Greek gods saga which gets released in November. Cecchi Gori also gets interest of 7% and the court ordered the construction of a trust that will disperse future revenues.