NBC‘s high profile midseason drama series Believe, co-created and executive produced by Gravity director/co-writer Alfonso Cuaron and exec produced by J.J. Abrams, is undergoing a behind the scenes change. Executive producer/showrunner Dave Erickson is expected to depart. He will be succeeded by co-executive producer/director Jonas Pate who has been named executive producer/showrunner, a rare case of a director, not a writer taking the reins of a scripted serie. He directed the important second episode of the series that follows the pilot helmed by Cuaron. Pate joins executive producers Cuaron, Abrams, Bryan Burk as well as Hans Tobeason who will now serve as on-set producer in New York where the series films. This marks the second showrunner change on Believe. Co-creator/executive producer and original showrunner Mark Friedman left the series in July. To accommodate the showrunner transition, Believe is going on a holiday hiatus a week earlier that the previously scheduled Dec. 20 start. The extra week will be used to work on scripts. The series will resume production on Jan. 6 as originally scheduled. NBC has not slated Believe yet but had been looking to launch it after the Winter Olympics, using the sports event to promote the series and benefiting from the strong awards attention Cuaron is enjoying with Gravity.
Les Revenants — an American remake of which is in development at A&E — was named best drama series of 2013 at the International Emmy Awards tonight, while Sean Bean won the best actor trophy for his role as a lit teacher with a cross-dressing alter ego in the British anthology Accused. Brazilian actress Fernanda Montenegro won best actress for her role in The Sweet Mother. The UK’s Moone Boy, about an Irish boy and his imaginary friend, took best comedy. Former The Daily Show correspondent (and newly named HBO show host) John Oliver hosted this year’s International Emmy ceremony, whose Founders Award went to J.J. Abrams, while the Directorate Award was presented to RTL Group Co-CEO Anke Schäferkordt.
Les Revenants, the French TV series based on an obscure 2004 movie that sold only 32,000 tickets in France, was a hit on Canal Plus and sold around the world — including the UK, where it aired subtitled as The Returned this year to great interest, and on Sundance Channel. The drama is about a small town turned upside down when several local people who have been long presumed dead suddenly reappear, having not aged and unaware of their own fatality. As they attempt to resume their lives, strange phenomena and gruesome murders begin to occur. A second season is planned for Canal Plus.
BREAKING…The new Star Wars movie has a new screenwriting team. It was announced online today that Episode VII director J.J. Abrams and Empire Strikes Back co-writer Lawrence Kasdan will take over as scribes for the upcoming Disney project which is set to be released in 2015. The duo are taking over from Michael Arndt. The writer, who penned the screenplay for Hunger Games: Catching Fire and won an Oscar for writing Little Miss Sunshine, was named as the sole screenwriter on the pic early last November. Arndt was also said to be working on treatments for the other two planned new Star Wars films. “I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script,” states LucasFilm boss Kathleen Kennedy in a statement posted on Starwars.com Thursday. “There are very few people who fundamentally understand the way a Star Wars story works like Larry, and it is nothing short of incredible to have him even more deeply involved in its return to the big screen. J.J. of course is an incredible storyteller in his own right. Michael Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point and we have an amazing filmmaking and design team in place already prepping for production.”
Fanboy gamers often complain that studio meddling somehow ruined a video game tied to a major movie release. It’s less common to hear an A-list filmmaker blame developers for messing with his movie. Star Trek Into Darkness …
Either the use of ’TOLDJA’ is a lovely homage to me (see left) or else someone’s infringing on Deadline’s trademark. Just kidding… The CBS/Warner Bros Television hit show Person Of Interest will be featured on nearly 40,000 limited edition …
This is a news that has been long time coming: all aired episodes of CBS/Warner Bros.’ drama series Person Of Interest are finally available digitally. The first two seasons of the crime drama are now available via …
Thirty eight years after Rod Serling‘s death, his final screenplay is heading to the screen. J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Prods. has acquired the rights to The Twilight Zone creator’s unproduced last feature script The Stops Along The Way. The project will be developed into an event limited series through Bad Robot’s deal at Warner Bros. TV and taken out into the marketplace. Details about the premise are being kept under wraps. Serling talked about the project in his final interview four months before his death when he was asked if he had a script he has special feeling for. “I just wrote The Stops Along The Way, which is, I think, a lovely script,” he said.
Emmy and Golden Globe winner Serling wrote and produced a number of TV and feature screenplays, including Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, Planet Of The Apes, and Requiem For A Heavyweight, but he is best known for his Twilight Zone anthology series, which was just named one of the top five Best Written TV Series of all time by the Writers Guild of America, West. A reboot of the TV classic is in the works at CBS TV Studios with X-Men director Bryan Singer at the helm.
‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ $164.5M Global: Lower Domestic But +80% Bigger Overseas; ‘Gatsby’ $132.1M Global, ‘Iron Man 3′ $1B
SUNDAY 9 AM, 7TH & 8TH UPDATE (WRITETHRU): The iconic space tentpole grossed a lot of money worldwide as May continues to sizzle for Summer 2013. But came nowhere near the $80M weekend and $100M total predicted. Star Trek Into Darkness from Paramount Pictures, Skydance Productions, and director J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot opened with $2M Wednesday from IMAX late shows, $11.5M Thursday, $22M Friday, $27.2M Saturday (for a +25% bump), and an estimated $21.2M Sunday. So that’s a $70.5M weekend from 3,868 theaters and an $84M domestic cume. Exit polling shows that the audience was 64% male/36% female with 27% under age 25/73% age 25 and over. Despite the passage of 4 years and the addition of 3D and IMAX for ticket premiums, 4 1/2 days of Star Trek Into Darkness barely beat 2009′s Star Trek 3-day weekend opening. Rightly or wrongly, fanboys (who are notoriously hard to please) saw the sequel as a ripoff of 1982′s The Wrath Of Khan. I felt the problem was that the latest pic’s marketing assumed people had seen the first installment and therefore didn’t target newbies. The iconic space tentpole in 3D received a coveted “A” CinemaScore to help word of mouth and 87% positive Rotten Tomatoes score setting it up for a strong weekend. The budget was a costly $190M, but the studio was predicting a 3-day weekend domestic estimate of $80M and 4-day estimate of $100M. Abrams’ first grossed $257.7M in North America but only $128M overseas where the franchise has long underperformed. STID was expected to easily beat the North American take so Abrams filmed 30 minutes using high-resolution cameras to increase the IMAX grosses which comprised 16% of domestic. To expand international, Paramount dispatched Abrams’ Bad Robot partner Bryan Burk to share 20 minutes of footage with media and distributors abroad earlier this year. It helped: international told a stronger story. Since sequels usually play well overseas, the total is $80.5 from 40 markets through Sunday, or +80% from the prior film. For comparison, STID is running +33% on a global basis compared to the 2009 reboot. Worldwide total is $164.5M. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reprise their roles as Kirk and Spock with its ensemble USS Enterprise cast and Benedict Cumberbatch debuts as the movie’s mysterious baddie in this sequel to Abrams’ 2009 reboot of the franchise, which began as a 1960s TV series. Star Trek Into Darkness, based on Gene Roddenberry’s creation, was written by credited scripters Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman & Damon Lindelof, who also are producers along with the Bad Robot duo of Abrams and Burk.
1. Star Trek Into Darkness (Skydance/Paramount) Week 1 [3,868 Theaters]
Wed $2.0M, Thurs $11.5M, Fri $22.0M, Sat $27.2M, Est Sun $21.2M
Wkd $70.5M, Dom Cume $84.0M, Intl Cume $80.5M, WW Total $164.9M
2. Iron Man 3 (Marvel/Disney) Week 3 [Runs 4,237]
Friday $9.6M, Saturday $15.8M, Weekend $35.5M,
Dom Cume $337.1M, Intl Cume $736.2M, Worldwide Total $1.073.3B
On May 16, the film crossed the $1B benchmark at the global box office in 23 days and the $300M threshold at the domestic box office in 14 days. Iron Man 3 is now the #9 highest grossing film of all time globally and the #9 highest grossing film of all time internationally. This is the 2nd Marvel Studios film and the 6th Walt Disney Studios release to reach $1B globally, and the 9th Disney release to reach $300M domestic.
3. The Great Gatsby (Warner Bros) Week 2 [Runs 3,550]
Friday $7.6M, Saturday $9.5m, Weekend $23.6M (-53%)
Dom Cume $90.1M, Intl Cume $42.1M, Worldwide Total $132.2M
Baz Luhrmann’s biggest to date here and overseas looks to make $140M domestic all in. “Domestic box office results are excellent,” a Warner Bros exec gushed. “Counter-programming can succeed with great success in a summer of tentpole fanboy event films.” Coming off the heels of a gala opening night event at the Cannes Film Event, The Great Gatsby in 3D released in 49 territories overseas and grossed a big $42.1M (ith 4.6Madmissions from almost 8,400 screens). This was 38% higher than Luhrmann’s Australia in the same markets ($30.4M) and 3x higher than Moulin Rouge ($13.8M). This weekend’s rollout abroad represent 70% of the international box office; major markets yet to launch include Australia (May 30th), Mexico (May 31st), Brazil (June 7th), Japan (June 14th). This weekend’s results included some #1 placements despite stuff competition: Russia $6.2M (Rbl 194M), UK $6.1M (£4.0M), France $4.7M (€3.6M), Korea $4.3M (KRW 4.75B), Italy $3.8M (€2.9M), Germany $3.7M (€2.8M), Spain $2.2M (€1.7M), Taiwan $779K (NT$23.9M).
Also, Universal’s May 24th domestic opener Fast & Furious 6 kicked off its worldwide release in the UK and Ireland this weekend with a record breaking #1 opening. The film grossed $13.8M (£9M) at 460 dates scoring Universal’s biggest 3-day opening weekend in that territory (smashing the previous record set by Les Miserables of $13.1M). It is the biggest opening weekend in the UK for the franchise and the highest opening weekend for Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson. F&F6 is now the 2nd biggest opening weekend of 2013 there behind IM3‘s $17.6M.
First off, congratulations to all writers, producers, actors and agents who landed new series this week. I know it wasn’t easy. Here is Deadline’s annual list of those who excelled at the upfronts. I tried to be inclusive, but if I’ve missed anyone who’s had a banner week, let me know. I’ve also compiled a list of pods and independent producers with multiple broadcast series.
Cougar Town co-creator Bill Lawrence and his Doozer banner had three new series unveiled at the upfronts this week: comedies Undateable on NBC, Surviving Jack on Fox and Ground Floor on TBS. Also, TBS recently renewed Cougar Town for a fifth season.
J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot claimed one of the top new drama series last season with NBC’s Revolution and one of the hottest sophomore shows with CBS’ Person Of Interest. The company is keeping the momentum with two new series orders for next season: Almost Human at Fox and Believe at NBC.
Independent producer Aaron Kaplan of Kapital Entertainment received two new series orders from the broadcast networks: Back In The Game at ABC and Friends With Better Lives at CBS. Additionally, his freshman ABC comedy The Neighbors was renewed and his ABC pilot Bad Management is in serious contention for a series pickup. Kaplan also received two cable series orders in the past month, for Chasing Life on ABC Family and Instant Mom on NickMom, and also has comedy series Wendell & Vinnie on Nick at Nite and pilot HR at Lifetime.
Writer-producer Julie Plec also landed two new series this week, both at the CW: She wrote/executive produces the planted Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals and executive produces The Tomorrow People. Additionally, she executive produces TVD, giving her three series on the air next season. (Fellow Tomorrow People executive producer Greg Berlanti has two, including returning CW hit Arrow.)
It’s pilot screening week, with the networks’ executives huddled in rooms watching the fruits of their development teams’ labor. The networks are still going through the process, with testing results just starting to pour in, but here is the latest pilot buzz I’ve compiled from various sources around town.
NBC had the breakout new drama of last fall, Revolution, and now the network has what could be the strongest drama pilot this season with Blacklist. I hear Blacklist and Crisis (aka untitled Rand Ravich) are considered front-runners on the drama side at NBC, buoyed by very strong testing. In fact Blacklist might be the highest-testing drama pilot at NBC in about a decade, and I also hear the male lead played by James Spader is one of the highest-testing characters ever for producing studio Sony TV. Also in the running are the J.J. Abrams-produced Believe; TV star vehicles Ironside, with Blair Underwood, and I Am Victor, with John Stamos; as well as medical drama Night Shift (aka After Hours). Also possibilities are late deliveries The Sixth Gun and the Chicago Fire spinoff.
As the launch of Star Trek Into Darkness approaches, J.J. Abrams will be asked a lot of questions at screenings and junkets, many of which will be about his plans for Star Wars VII. Abrams was more of a Star Wars fan than a Trekkie, and he hasn’t done so badly with that. (Feel free to disagree or agree.) Empire recently asked Abrams what he has in mind for a new Star Wars adventure. Here, excerpted from the Empire interview, is part of what what Abrams had to say:
I don’t know because we’re just getting started. … Even though I was never a Star Trek fan, I felt like there was a version of it that would make me excited, that I would think ‘that’s cool, that feels right, I actually would want to see that’.
… With Star Wars … I feel like I can identify a hunger for what I would want to see again and that is an incredibly exciting place to begin a project. The movies, the worlds could not be more different but that feeling that there’s something amazing here is the thing that they share.
Cory Booker hasn’t officially said he’s running to become New Jersey’s next Senator but Hollywood is planning to shovel money into his campaign treasure chest. Anointing Booker as Hollywood’s new favorite politician, invites went out this week for a “Special Evening In LA” April 25 fundraiser for the Newark Mayor at the Beverly Hills home of producer Jerry Weintraub and girlfriend, producer Susan Ekins. The event has a marquee host list that cuts across party lines and into deep wallets. It costs $5,000 a ticket to attend the fundraiser with the money going to Cory Booker For Senate. The event is one of eight the telegenic Democrat has lined up in the next two months in anticipation of a 2014 run to replace departing fellow Democrat Frank Lautenberg in the heavily Blue state. The Beverly Hills fundraiser certainly shows that backing a potential winner cuts across party lines. Republicans like Bush family confidante Weintraub and Bruce Willis are listed on the invite but so are avowed Democrats like Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was one of the largest single contributors to Barack Obama’s reelection, Steven Spielberg and new Star Wars director J.J. Abrams and their wives Kate Capshaw and Katie McGrath.
Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor.
With an average of 8.4 million viewers per episode, the apocalyptic sci-fi series Revolution has been a relative hit for NBC in a humiliating turn of events that recently saw the network finish fifth — behind Univision — for the first time in its history. Despite that success, Revolution was put on a 4-month hiatus after 10 episodes. In advance of the series’ March 25 return, Night 2 of PaleyFest 2013 featured a Revolution panel with series creator and executive producer Eric Kripke, co-creator and executive producer J.J. Abrams, and executive producer Jon Favreau. Also along for the ride were cast members Billy Burke (Miles Matheson), Tracy Spiridakos (Charlie Matheson), Giancarlo Esposito (Major Tom Neville), David Lyons (Sebastian Monroe), Daniella Alonso (Nora Clayton). and J.D. Pardo (Jason Neville). The discussion centered heavily on the show’s return and based on what the executive producers said, fans can expect a much more fast-paced experience.
Set 15 years after an unspecified event caused all electrical devices to stop working, Revolution hangs on a heavy myth arc, but as revealed during the panel the series is bucking the tradition of genre TV shows by refusing to draw things out.