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Fox Acquires ‘Malignant Man’; ‘Fast 7′s James Wan Eyeing To Direct

By | Tuesday June 17, 2014 @ 9:51am PDT
Mike Fleming

Fox Acquires ‘Malignant Man’; ‘Fast 7′s James Wan Eyeing To DirectEXCLUSIVE: Fox has acquired rights to Malignant Man, a graphic novel created three years ago by James Wan, who’ll develop it with an eye to direct. Wan helmed the first Saw film, launched the Insidious and The Conjuring fright franchises and is currently directing Fast & Furious 7 at Universal. He will produce Malignant Man with Stephen Christy and Ross Richie for Fox-based production shingle BOOM!, with Adam Yoelin co-producing.

james wanMalignant Man focuses on Alan Gates, a cancer patient with a terminal diagnosis who is resigned to his fate until he discovers that his tumor is actually a mysterious parasite. Granted a second lease on life and incredible, otherworldly powers, Alan must fight against an evil army buried beneath society’s skin, all the while unlocking the secrets of his forgotten past. Matt Reilly and Ryan Jones are the Fox execs. BOOM!, which controls the largest library of owned independent comic book material outside of Marvel and DC, has its first-look deal at Fox after previously setting up comic-based movie projects around town. Wan is repped by Paradigm.

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‘Insidious’ Chapter 3 A Go With Leigh Whannell Set To Write

By | Monday September 16, 2013 @ 10:44am PDT

Insidious and Insidious: Chapter 2 screenwriter Leigh Whannell will return to pen a third installment of the hit horror franchise for Blumhouse Productions, Entertainment One, FilmDistrict, and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions. Conspicuously absent from today’s threequel announcement is Whannell’s longtime collaborator James Wan, who helmed both Insidious pics including last weekend’s record-breaking $41M opener sequel. Wan just began filming on Universal’s Fast & Furious 7, graduating to the big budgeted blockbuster after directing genre fare including the original Saw, Death Sentence, the microbudgeted Insidious franchise, and this year’s #1 horror opener The Conjuring. Jason Blum will produce the third Insidious pic for Blumhouse Productions with Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity). Steven Schneider, Brian Kavanaugh Jones, Peter Schlessel, Lia Buman and Xavier Marchand are executive producing. Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins, and Barbara Hershey reprised their roles in Insidious: Chapter 2 which continued the saga of the haunted Lambert family and left the door open for further supernatural sequels. Whannell is repped by Paradigm.

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Vin Diesel In ‘Fast & Furious 7′: First Look

By | Sunday September 15, 2013 @ 3:50pm PDT

Vin Diesel‘s been known to skirt traditional PR channels to share intel direct to his fans. This weekend he gave his 47M Facebook followers first looks from the set of Universal‘s Fast & Furious 7, in production under Insidious 2 helmer James Wan. “Seven… Has begun…” he posted in a pic showing him wearing Dominic Toretto’s leather jacket and Letty’s necklace. A second posting revealed the below first look at Diesel with co-star Paul Walker. Uni releases Fast & Furious 7 on July 11, 2014.

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‘Insidious 2′ Stuns As Sept’s 2nd Biggest With $41M For Year’s 2nd Best Horror Pic; De Niro’s ‘The Family’ Forgotten For $13.9M

By | Sunday September 15, 2013 @ 9:37am PDT

SUNDAY 9:30 AM, 5TH UPDATE: No surprise that a genre scarer did so well on a weekend frontloaded by Friday The 13th. But grosses flattened Saturday because of what my sources say was the big Mayweather vs Alvarez fight which scored big TV ratings from Las Vegas last night. That cooled what initially was hot total moviegoing this September weekend to $95M, only +10% over last year’s.

Regular readers know that I believe online domestic pre-sales are a more accurate indicator of a movie’s box office opening strength than traditional tracking. So it’s meaningful that Insidious Chapter 2 Box OfficeFilmDistrict’s PG13 and 2D Insidious: Chapter 2 (released into 3,049 theaters) trended as Fandango’s top horror pre-seller of the year. And the grosses produced by Blumhouse horrormeisters Jason Blum and Oren Peli on just a $5 million budget were indeed record-breaking: an impressive $20.1M debut Friday (including $1.5M in Thursday’s late shows and Friday’s midnights) and $13.4M Saturday for a $41M weekend. Pic now becomes 2013′s 2nd biggest grossing horror opening behind The Conjuring and sets 2nd largest September debut. (Only 3 live-action movies in the past decade have ever opened over $30M in this traditionally slow month. Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania did $42.5M in September 2012.) Weekend was double what FilmDistrict was expecting and another winner for CEO Peter Schlessel who tells me he credits distribution chief Jim Orr and marketing czarina Christine Birch for the huge weekend. Sequel overwhelmed the first installment’s $13.3M. Here are more stats: Blumhouse now becomes the first production company to have two movies with budgets of $5M or under gross over $30M on opening weekend in the same year. With The Purge and Insidious: Chapter Two, Blumhouse has produced 2 micro-budget films in the past four months that grossed over $30M in their opening weekends. Combined, the two movies will have earned over $65M on their opening weekends with combined budgets of $8M. Yowza! Despite tepid critical reviews, audiences gave the Insidious sequel a ‘B+’ CinemaScore for James Wan‘s direction of the cast of Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne in Leigh Whannell’s screenplay. FilmDistrict’s marketing campaign targeted a younger audience (15-34 year olds) and focused on females during cable draws like ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars and the genre’s growing Hispanic market. The studio created customized Latino creative exclusive content featurettes, radio and TV spots as well as hosted a Miami Press day. The film’s trailer launched with The Purgeand continued via Comic-Con, paranormal conventions, the Vans Warped Tour, and exposure at Six Flags. Exit polling this weekend showed audiences were 52% male/48% female with 62% under the age of 25/38% age 25 and older. Internationally, Insidious 2 opened #1 in the UK, traditionally the second biggest market for horror films after the U.S., with a bigger opening than recent hits like The Conjuring and The Purge.

This other weekend’s new release was Relativity’s and Europacorp’s co-financed and co-produced dark adult comedy The Family (3,091 theaters). It stars Robert De Niro. Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones directed Family Box Office Robert De Niroand co-written by Luc Besson and executive produced by Martin Scorsese in yet another unnecessary and derivative gangster pic. With a disappointing ‘C’ CinemaScore from audiences and tepid critical reviews, this R-rated pic opened with a so-so $5.3M Friday and $5.3M Saturday for a $13.9M weekend. That’s smack in the middle of what Relativity was low-balling but no Red which in 2010 opened  to $21.7M and also was aimed at older males and females. “We are pleased with the result and the film’s performance. The point is that the movie cost $30M and it’s going to make back half its budget in opening weekend,” insisted a Relativity exec – not taking into consideration P&A or the usual 3X formula. But stars are supposed to deliver openings above $20M and this movie had 3 big names who can’t draw audiences anymore on their own. This is only De Niro’s second biggest opening over his past 10 non-Meet The Parents franchise pics. (Limitless, another Relativity film, was #1.) Going to the gangster well again and again just diminishes him. Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh took a producer credit: but surely he couldn’t have fantasized yet another De Niro cash grab with lousy reviews would do any awards business? Michael Caleo of The Sopranos co-wrote based on Tonino Benacquista’s novel Malavita. Since Relativity recently revamped its in-house marketing and advertising, I’d be wasting words discussing the very forgettable campaign which surely contributed to the mediocre result. Relativity and Europacorp made this pic as part of an overall co-production and financing deal, with Relativity releasing in the U.S., Europacorp overseeing international distribution, and EOne taking Canada.

Here’s the Top Ten list based on weekend estimates:
Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Insidious: Chapter 2′

By | Wednesday June 5, 2013 @ 10:23am PDT

FilmDistrict scored a $97M hit on a reported $1.5M budget with 2011′s indie ghost pic Insidious, helmed by Saw creator James Wan. Before Wan steps up to the Fast & Furious franchise he’ll return along with microbudget horror producers Jason Blum and Oren Peli and stars Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey and Ty Simpkins for Insidious: Chapter 2. FilmDistrict releases the sequel September 13. Check out the new trailer:

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James Wan Is Universal’s Choice To Helm ‘The Fast And The Furious 7′

By | Wednesday April 10, 2013 @ 7:04pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has begun negotiations with James Wan to direct the seventh installment of the studio’s mega-buck franchise The Fast And The Furious. I expect a deal to be made probably before the week is out.

Justin Lin made it clear back at the Sundance Film Festival in January that he wasn’t going to direct the next pic after revitalizing that franchise and helming its last four installments including the upcoming May 24 opener Fast & Furious 6. He wanted to take a break, and while he wasn’t going back to The Terminator, he still considered the reboot of Highlander a possibility at Summit. Universal Pictures has had plenty of time to consider who’ll take over the race car franchise, and recently they have been working from a very short list. Among the directors they’ve spoken to are Baltazar Kormakur, who helmed Contraband, The Deep and the upcoming 2 Guns with Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg (I don’t think Kormakur is available); Kick-Ass 2 helmer Jeff Wadlow; and The Karate Kid helmer Harold Zwart, whose next is The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones. Wan, who helmed the first installment of Saw, more recently directed the horror smash hit Insidious, and has The Conjuring upcoming.

The next film brings back longtime producer Neal H. Moritz of Original Film, and Chris Morgan is returning to write … Read More »

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NBC’s ‘Hannibal’ To Screen At WonderCon, Plus Previews Of ‘Hemlock Grove’, ‘Pacific Rim’, ‘Mortal Instruments’, ‘Hobbit 2′ & More

Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor.

Fans will get their first look at how Mads Mikkelsen measures up to Anthony Hopkins and Brian Cox when NBC screens the first two episodes of Hannibal later this month at WonderCon 2013. And Netflix will have its upcoming murder mystery series Hemlock Grove in advance of the show’s April premiere. Those and a host of other geeky confections were unveiled when the annual convention, landing March 29-31 in Anaheim, revealed the full programming schedule that boasts a heavy TV and film presence hinting of things to come later this year in San Diego (as well as some that have been there before).

Netflix will screen footage from Hemlock Grove on Friday with executive producer Eli Roth and cast including Famke Janssen, Bill Skarsgard, Penelope Mitchell and others in attendance. The same day Warner Bros plans to premiere the direct-to-DVD animated film Superman: Unbound, followed the next day with a panel shared with Legendary pictures featuring Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro and New Line Cinema’s The Conjuring director James Wan. The same day, Sony hosts a huge panel of its own to showcase three upcoming films: Novelist Cassandra Clare, director Harald Zwart and stars Lily Collins, Kevin Zegers, and Jamie Campbell Bower will preview The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones; Bruce Campbell will join director Fede Alvarez and stars Jane Levy and Jessica Lucas to talk about the upcoming Evil Dead remake that screened at SXSW; and Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson will present a new trailer for This Is The End. On Sunday, there’s a panel discussion of Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing that also screened at SXSW, while J.R.R. Tolkien fan site will host a sneak peak of The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugRead More »

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Dimension Taps Maria Bello For James Wan-Produced Thriller

By | Tuesday November 13, 2012 @ 11:35am PST
Mike Fleming

Dimension Films set Maria Bello to star in an untitled thriller to be directed by Will Canon from a Max La Bella script. The pic is based on an idea from James Wan, who’ll produce with Lee Clay. Clay worked with Bello on Beautiful Boy. Wan co-created the Saw and Insidious franchises and just wrapped The Conjuring for New Line. Shooting begins January 2013 in Baton Rouge, LA, and the film will be released by Dimension. Read More »

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Fright Film Hit ‘Insidious’ Scares Up Sequel

By | Thursday February 2, 2012 @ 4:15pm PST
Mike Fleming

A sequel to the horror hit Insidious is in the works, with Leigh Whannell returning to write the script and James Wan in talks to once again direct.  Jason Blum will produce through Blumhouse Productions and Brian Kavanaugh Jones, Oren Peli and Steven Schneider will be exec producers. Alliance Films is back as financier, and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions and Peter Schlessel’s FilmDistrict acquired U.S. rights.  FilmDistrict will distribute the film in the U.S.

The sequel news is hardly a shock, it is simply what happens when a $1.5 million budget horror film scares up nearly $100 million in worldwide grosses to become one of the most profitable films in recent memory. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne starred in the first installment, as parents of a demonically possessed kid. SPWA bought it at 2010 Toronto and FilmDistrict released it. Alliance will distribute the sequel in Canada, the UK (via its Momentum Pictures subsidiary) and Spain (via Aurum). SPWA has the rest of the world. Production begins this year and will be released in 2013. Wan and Whannel hatched the Saw franchise.

“Insidious was the most fun project I’ve ever worked on,” Whannell said in a statement.  “From start to finish it was an absolute joy—from the writing of the screenplay, all the way to the first screening of the film at the Toronto film festival.  I believe that James Wan and I … Read More »

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Evolution’s Mark Burg Cashes Out Oren Koules, Names Mike Menchel President

By | Thursday June 23, 2011 @ 8:51am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Evolution Entertainment partners Mark Burg and Oren Koules are splitting after 12 years. Burg has purchased the 50% of the management/production company owned by Koules. Burg has reconstituted the company and named former CAA agent-turned-producer Michael Menchel its new president.

This brings to an end a partnership that achieved the dream of every boutique management/production company. When these guys got through Evolution’s Gregg Hoffman the script for Saw from Leigh Whannell and James Wan, they put themselves at risk personally to come up with the money to buy it and to cover the $1.2 million budget themselves. They made a licensing deal with Lionsgate but were left owning a film that grossed $103 million worldwide. They continued in that fashion on six sequels, most of which were low budget, with the last costing around $20 million. The cumulative worldwide gross of the series reached $870 million, and Burg and Koules made a fortune. Some of it they parlayed into other fright films under their Twisted Pictures banner, with many of the films directed and populated by clients of the management company. Their client stable includes Charlie Sheen. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: James Wan’s ‘Insidious’

Mike Fleming

Upstart distributor FilmDistrict has issued a new trailer for Insidious, the horror film by original Saw writer-director team of James Wan and Leigh Whannell, produced by Paranormal Activity’s Oren Peli, Jason Blum and Steven Schneider. The film, which looks like a good old fashioned haunted house movie, opens April 1.

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Berlin: ‘Saw’ Guy James Wan Scares Up 8-Picture Deal

Mike Fleming

February 11, 2011 (Berlin, Germany) – Writer/Producer/Director James Wan has closed an eight (8) picture deal with the Icon Entertainment International (IEI), it was announced today by Wan and Hugo Grumbar, Managing Director (International) for Icon, at the Berlin Film Festival.

Wan who is best known for creating and directing the first in the “Saw” franchise of films which have gone on to gross over $850,000,000 worldwide, will produce two (2) horror films a year under the agreement with Icon. Wan recently sold the film INSIDIOUS to Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group at the Toronto Film Festival.

The first picture to be put through the slate is HOUSE OF HORROR, which is based on a story written by James Wan. Max La Bella wrote the screenplay. Javier Gutierrez (Before the Fall, A.K.A Tres Dias) is attached to direct with James Wan and Lee Clay producing.

“I wanted to have the creative freedom and the ability to work with really artistic film makers who can help me bring an original and innovative style of genre films to the public. Paradigm paved the way for this and we have chosen to partner with Icon who are a perfect fit for us,” Wan said.

Icon will handle worldwide sales for the titles and distribute in the UK through theatrical arm Icon Film Distribution. Paradigm and attorney David Fox rep Wan and Paradigm’s Motion Picture Finance Group will package and rep North American rights.

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FilmDistrict Acquires ‘Insidious’

Mike Fleming

FilmDistrict finalized a distribution deal for Insidious, the horror film by original Saw writer/director James Wan and Leigh Whannell, and produced by Paranormal Activity architects Oren Peli, Jason Blum and Steven Schneider.  The deal was long-rumored. FilmDistrict was started by Bob Berney and Peter Schlessel started with funding from Graham King and Tim Headington to generate product that can play on 1500 to upwards of 2500 screens. Insidious will come in at 2500 screens in its April 1 release. Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson and Whannell star in a thriller about a family that moves into a house they discover is haunted. After their son lapses into a coma, they try to escape and save him. After they move, they discover spirits too can pack their bags and move out.  The picture, financed by  Alliance and sold offshore by IM Global, made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival. “With Insidious, James and Leigh are redefining the haunted house genre,” Schlessel said in a statement. “By taking well-known horror movie conventions and elevating them to the next level, they’ve created a film that is fun, suspenseful and very very scary.” Brian Kavanaugh-Jones is exec producer. Here’s a scene from the movie:

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Sony Pictures Worldwide Buys ‘Insidious’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE FROM TORONTO: The Toronto deal logjam seems to be breaking. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group is closing a deal for North American distribution rights to Insidious, the James Wan-directed thriller that premiered in the Midnight Madness program  Tuesday. Leigh Whannell wrote the script. I’m told it is a 7-figure deal that is still being finalized after a marathon bargaining session following the screening. The film is a modern take on the haunted house chiller genre. It’s guaranteed a theatrical release, with a level to be determined. Wan and Whannell created the Saw franchise, with Wan directing and Whannell scripting the first pic in that series. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne play a married couple with three kids. When tragedy strikes the youngest, begin to experience things science can’t explain. Barbara Hershey and Lin Shaye also star. Pic’s produced by Jason Blum, Steven Schneider and Paranormal Activity helmer Oren Peli Stuart Ford’s IM Global has foreign on the picture and has sold out the world. CAA and Paradigm repped it.

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‘Saw’ Director James Wan Takes On Bloodsucker Tale ‘Nightfall’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: James Wan, who co-created and directed the original Saw, has been set to direct Nightfall, the film adaptation of the graphic novel. The film is a coproduction between Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s Platinum Studios and William Stuart’s Aurora Productions. The premise: a man is sentenced to time in a prison run by vampires. The graphic novel was published in 2007 and written and created by Scott O. Brown with art by Ferran Xalabarder. Wan will oversee the development of a script. His latest film, Insidious, plays in the Midnight Madness program at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival. Read More »

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