EXCLUSIVE: Paradigm has signed Lynn Collins. Managed by Untitled Entertainment’s Jason Newman and Stephanie Simon, Collins starred in John Carter and also starred in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. She played Portia opposite Al Pacino in the feature adaptation of The Merchant Of Venice. Onstage, she also played Ophelia opposite Liev Schreiber in Hamlet, and played Juliet in Romeo And Juliet in the Ahmanson Theatre production.
EXCLUSIVE: While Andrew Stanton‘s live-action feature directing debut John Carter led to a precedent-setting $200 million write-down for Disney earlier this summer, the filmmaker is officially out of director jail. I’ve been hearing for months that he would come aboard to direct the sequel to Disney-based Pixar‘s Finding Nemo, with the idea that Disney would give him another shot behind the camera on a live-action film.
I’m told he’s now officially come aboard the Finding Nemo sequel and has a concept the studio loves. Pixar continues to not be helpful on this, as they don’t comment on development. It’s understandable why Disney and Pixar would be excited by this. Stanton won two Oscars for his animation work on Wall-E and Finding Nemo. That original 2003′s fish tale’s $867.9 million worldwide gross makes it still Pixar’s second-highest-grossing film and the third-biggest Disney animated film release ever. And that comes before Finding Nemo is re-released in 3D in September.
Disney has quietly joined Universal, Fox, and Warner Bros in refusing to provide DVDs to low-cost rental firms including Redbox and Netflix on the day the discs go on sale, Home Media Magazine reports. The unannounced change caught people’s attention this week when Redbox kiosks didn’t have Disney’s John Carter, released on home video this past Tuesday. But those waiting for the financial mega-bomb to hit Redbox — so they’d only have to pay $1.20 a night to see what the fuss was about — won’t have to wait long. The company will simply buy discs from retailers so it can offer them for rental by June 12. “Redbox has always worked with Disney on a per title basis, without a contract,” the Coinstar-owned company says. “We will be sourcing John Carter through alternative means.” Redbox began to do the same thing with Warner Bros releases this year after the studio said it would double the delay period to 56 days before it would offer wholesale terms for its rental discs. Redbox has agreed to terms with Universal and Fox that include a 28-day delay. Other studios including Paramount and Lionsgate provide home videos the same day they hit retail shelves.
BOMBS AWAY! ‘Battleship’ Sinks To $25.3M Torpedoed By Still Strong ‘Avengers’; Lame ‘What To Expect’ Behind Limp ‘The Dictator’
May 18-20 Weekend Actuals
1. Marvel’s The Avengers (Disney) Week 3 [4,249 Runs] PG13
Friday $15.2M, Saturday $23.6M, Sunday $16.8M Weekend $55.6M (-46%), Cume $457.7 M
2. Battleship (Universal) NEW [3,690 Runs] PG13
Friday $8.8M, Saturday $9.7M, Sunday $7.0M Weekend $25.5M
3. The Dictator (Paramount) NEW-Wed [3,008 Runs] R
Friday $5.7M, Saturday $6.7M, Sunday $5.1M, Weekend $17.4M, Cume $24.5M
4. Dark Shadows (Warner Bros) Week 2 [3,755 Runs] PG13
Friday $3.8M, Saturday $5.3M, Sunday $3.5M, Weekend $12.6M (-58%), Cume $50.7M
5. What To Expect When You’re Expecting (Lionsgate) NEW [3,021 Runs] PG13
Friday $3.8M, Saturday $4.1M, Sunday $2.6M, Weekend $10.5M
6. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight) Week 3 [354 Runs] PG13
Friday $873K, Saturday $1.4M, Sunday $1M, Weekend $3.2M (+21%), Cume $8.2M
7. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) Week 9 [2,064 Runs] PG13
Friday $824K, Saturday $1.3M, Sunday $855K, Weekend $3.0M (-35%), Cume $392M
8. Think Like A Man (Screen Gems/Sony) Week 5 [1,722 Runs] PG13
Friday $807K, Saturday $1.2M, Sunday $678K Weekend $2.7M (-54%), Cume $85.8M
9. The Lucky One (Warner Bros) Week 5 [2,055 Runs] PG13
Friday $598K, Saturday $733K, Sunday $447K Weekend $1.8M (-57%), Cume $56.9M
10. Pirates! Band Of Misfits (Aardman/Sony) Week 4 [1,840 Runs] PG
Friday $353K, Saturday $652K, Sunday $573K Weekend $1.6M (-50%), Cume $25.5M
SUNDAY AM, 7TH UPDATE: These official Friday, Saturday, and weekend numbers for North America are way worse than anyone expected. Every film tanked except Marvel’s The Avengers which keeps sucking all the air out of the box office for …
Shares are up slightly in post-market trading after Disney delivered an earnings report with a little of something for everybody. The company generated net income of $1.22B, up 21.3% vs the period last year, on revenues of $9.62B, up 6.1%. The revenue figure was ahead of analyst expectations for $9.56B. Earnings per share, at 58 cents after excluding one-time items from last year, beat forecasts for 55 cents. Growing pay TV fees and ad sales at ESPN helped to drive a 9% increase in revenues at the Media Networks unit, to $4.69B, with operating income up 13% to $1.72B. Per usual, the cable networks stole the show (revenues +12% to $3.17B, and operating income +11% to $1.5B). But the broadcasting side, which includes ABC, benefited from lower programming and production costs (revenues +2% to $1.52B, and operating income +37% to $229M). Consumer spending increased at Disney’s Parks and Resorts, sending revenues +10% to $2.9B with operating income +53% to $222M. The Studio Entertainment unit suffered from the disappointing performance of, and announced write-down for, John Carter. That sent revenues -12% to $1.18B with an operating loss of $84M vs. a profit last year of $77M. The Consumer Products division had a complicated story, with licensing revenues offsetting a decline in retail sales; it ended up with revenues +8% to $679M and operating income +4% to $679M. Finally, Interactive Media saw a revenue gain of 13% …
How ‘Death Of A Salesman’ Success And ‘Hunger Games’ Show Good Material Matched With Execution Still Wins The Day
The Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman came out of the gate and broke the house record for the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. It needed only seven performances in that first week to post a $780,000 gross. The star cast certainly helps–Mike Nichols directing Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amazing-Spiderman star Andrew Garfield and Linda Emond–but it’s a becoming a word of mouth hit and is a hot ticket until its limited run ends June 2, that will most certainly sell out long before that.
It shows what can happen when storied subject matter is handled skilfully with experienced directors and strong producers, which to me is the neat thing about the staggering weekend gross of The Hunger Games. Having read that book while Deadline was revealing the construction of that movie from the hiring of Gary Ross as director to the film’s casting, I was intrigued by the ways that director Gary Ross bobbed and weaved around gruesome plot points of that book, softening them to make the film palatable for younger audiences, while still maintaining the edge, the menace of an oppressive totalitarian regime, and the terror felt by teens thrust against their will into a bloodsport arena.
The early responses show that Disney watchers are miffed by the studio unit’s debacle with John Carter, but not enough to change their overall opinion of the company as one of their darlings. Here are some of the initial reactions. After the analyst’s name and affiliation, I’ve noted the person’s stock recommendation, any change in his or her earnings-per-share forecast for the fiscal year that ends in September, and key comments. I’ll add reports if and when they come in.
Drew Crum (Stifel Nicolaus) Rating: Buy. Change to FY 2012 EPS: -7 cents to $2.96. “(N)o change to our thesis here as we … continue to view the FY12 slate as weaker vs. last year…While discouraged by another large film loss (last year it was Mars Needs Moms) we’re not deterred and continue to focus on the positives including Media Networks + Parks.”
Disney‘s $200M write down for John Carter appears to be the biggest loss to date for a single film — exceeding the inflation-adjusted $147M deficit from Cutthroat Island, the 1995 film that starred Geena Davis and proved to be the last straw for Carolco Pictures which went out of business. But investors are just beginning to wrap their minds around how serious the debacle is for Disney. The loss far exceeds analyst forecasts of about $100M to $150M. On Wednesday, Janney Capital Markets analyst Tony Wible said that “the impairment may not be as bad as feared”: He estimated $53M, with $180M only in a “worst case scenario.” Miller Tabak & Co analyst David Joyce also was surprised by Disney’s new figures. He expected the Studio unit to lose about $37M in the current quarter; Disney now says the loss could go as high as $120M. Joyce just shaved 2 cents off his earnings forecast for the fiscal year that ends in September, bringing it down to $2.99. While the Street is clearly disappointed, it isn’t stunned. Disney shares are down less than 1% in after-hours trading. At the end of the day, the Studio just accounts for 16% of the company’s revenues and 7% of its profits. Proving that hope springs eternal, Joyce says he believes “investors will look forward to the summer franchise …
“In light of the theatrical performance of John Carter ($184 million global box office), we expect the film to generate an operating loss of approximately $200 million during our second fiscal quarter ending March 31. As a result, our current expectation is that the Studio segment will have an operating loss of between $80 and $120 million for the second quarter. As we look forward to the second half of the year, we are excited about the upcoming releases of The Avengers and Brave, which we believe have tremendous potential to drive value for the Studio and the rest of the company.”
$101.2M Worldwide: But ‘John Carter’s $30.6M Weak Domestic Weekend Lags #1 ‘The Lorax’; Eddie Murphy Bombs Again
March 9-11 Weekend Actuals
1. The Lorax (Illumination/Universal) Week 2 [3,746 Theaters] PG
Friday $9.6M, Saturday $17.9M, Sunday $11.4M, Weekend $38.8M (-45%), Cume $121.7M
2. John Carter (Disney) NEW [3,749 Theaters] PG13
Friday $9.8M, Saturday $12.3M, Sunday $8M, Weekend $30.2M
3. Project X (Warner Bros) Week 2 [3,055 Theaters] R
Friday $4M, Saturday $4.4M, Sunday $2.7M, Weekend $11.1M (-47%), Cume $39.7M
4. Act Of Valor (Relativity) Week 3 [2,951 Theaters] R
Friday $2.0M, Saturday $3.1M, Sunday $1.9M, Weekend $7M (-49%), Cume $56.1M
5. Silent House (LD Entertainment/Open Road) NEW [2,124 Theaters] R
Friday $2.7M, Saturday $2.7M, Sunday $1.3M, Weekend $6.7M
6. A Thousand Words (DreamWorks/Paramount) NEW [1,890 Theaters] PG13
Friday $1.9M, Saturday $2.7M, Sunday $1.5M, Weekend $6.2M
7. Safe House (Universal) Week 5 [2,144 Theaters] R
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $2.2M, Sunday $1.2M, Weekend $4.8M (-35%), Cume $115.6M
8. The Vow (Screen Gems/Sony) Week 5 [2,478 Theaters] PG13
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $1.7M, Sunday $866K, Weekend $3.8M (-36%), Cume $117.5M
9. This Means War (Fox) Week 4 [1,949 Theaters] PG13
Friday $1.2M, Saturday $1.7M, Sunday $846K Weekend $3.8M (-33%), Cume $46.9M
10. Journey 2 (Warner Bros) Week 5 [2,525 Theaters] PG
Friday $874K, Saturday $1.7M, Sunday $1M, Weekend $3.6M (-45%), Cume $90.6M
9TH UPDATE, SUNDAY AM: Disney just released international figures from 55 territories, representing about 80% of the foreign market where John Carter was released this weekend. It opened to $70.6M. Combined with its domestic cume, the 3D sci-fi epic has now made $101.2M. “John Carter opened in Russia on March 8, and had the highest opening day in Russian cinema history and went on to be the #1 opening weekend of the year,” the studio said “John Carter was the #1 U.S. film in all of our major opened markets in Asia, Latin America and Europe.” Globally, IMAX’s box office take this weekend was $9.5M, with Russia the standout market. (3D-crazy China opens March 16th.) IMAX accounted for 64% of North American business in 3D, or $5M, and its 289 domestic screens represented a disproportionate 17% of the film’s overall GBO. Exit studies confirmed that IMAX’s core audience of fanboys were the film’s most supportive audience.
8TH UPDATE, SUNDAY AM: So 2012 keeps posting strong box office, and this weekend’s $140M is up +8.6% over last year. Universal’s $70M-budget holdover Dr Suess’ The Lorax is a huge #1 again. But Disney’s 3D sci-fi newcomer John Carter finished a feeble #2 considering its whopping $250+M cost. Friday’s domestic box office numbers for director Andrew Stanton’s actioner came in even weaker than predicted but rival studios tell me the loincloth epic experienced an unexpected double-digit bounce on Saturday. Clearly word of mouth, like the ‘B+’ CinemaScore from audiences, is helping although reviews were decidedly mixed. Only Monday actuals will confirm whether Disney got its “miracle” and John Carter‘s North American box office opening this weekend had a ’3′ in front of it. But that still means a massive $100+M writeoff for the parent company if this dismal opening affects the new pic’s international fortunes. The studio’s Prince of Persia, for instance, opened similarly weak in North America, then made up its domestic deficit overseas. Disney made a gigantic worldwide day-and-date push for John Carter and says Russia was especially ”very strong”. “We have some good starts in Europe, with some softer than we hoped. A few Asian territories are strong where this type of film plays well,” an exec tells me.
To summarize: this flop is the result of a studio trying to indulge Pixar… Of an arrogant director who ignored everybody’s warnings that he was making a film too faithful to Edgar Rice Burroughs’s first novel in the Barsoom series “A Princess of Mars”… Of the failure of Dick Cook, and Rich Ross, and Bob Iger to rein in Stanton’s excessive ego or pull the plug on the movie’s bloated budget … Of really rotten marketing that failed to explain the significant or scope of the film’s Civil War-to-Mars story and character arcs and instead made the 3D movie look way as generic as its eventual title… Disagree all you want, but Hollywood is telling me that competent marketing could have drawn in women with the love story, or attracted younger males who weren’t fanboys of the source material. Instead the campaign was as rigid and confusing as the movie itself, not to mention that ’Before Star Wars, Before Avatar‘ tag line should have come at the start and not at the finish. But even more I think John Carter is a product of mogul wuss-ism as much as it is misplaced talent worship. More detail to come.
Disney wasn’t the only studio mourning. Eddie Murphy has yet another bomb in DreamWorks/Paramount’s A Thousand Words which received a ‘B-’ CinemaScore. “A Thousand Words is the last live action movie to be released by Paramount that was produced by Dreamworks,” the studio made a point of telling me. Directed by Brian Robbins, the PG-13 comedy (with a zero score on Rotten Tomatoes) demonstrates the tragic degree to which reviewers and audience have deserted Eddie Murphy. Paramount marketing targeted a 4 1/2-week campaign to reach all African American adult audiences and older women. But I found that the spots never explained the movie’s premise adequately. On the other hand, no one cared. The trailer debuted last November. Lots of TV and radio were bought for female-oriented programs as well as high-profile NBA games. A week-long BET promotion released this past week along with promotions on Lifetime and Comedy Central. Paramount also made use of Tyler Perry’s popularity by piggybacking with his cable show House Of Payne and movie opening Good Deeds. Individual TV shows included BET’s The Game, VH1′s Basketball Wives, E!’s Khloe and Lamar and Ice Loves Coco. There was a “best of” Eddie Murphy content piece, with slideshows and additional videos. “With the scale of all partners combined, these placements potentially reached an audience of over 97 million monthly unique visitors online,” an exec tells me. Eddie himself did an extensive publicity campaign for the pic. And yet the movie tanked. Where Eddie’s career goes from here will be debated. He should have hosted the Oscars. Now he really needs to go back into television…
Open Road made a point of telling me it was only distributing the R-rated horror pic Silent House as “a service deal for our friends at LD Entertainment (formerly known as Liddell Entertainment”. Embarassing that audiences gave the genre film Silent House the dreaded ‘F’ CinemaScore. The film was budgeted at under $1M and and acquired by LD Entertainment at Sundance 2011 where the indie remake of the acclaimed ultra-low-budget Uruguayan film La Casa Muda (based on true events) premiered. In 2003 directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau enjoyed huge success with the low-budget thriller Open Water. Genre movie fans take their horror seriously.
Here’s the Top 10:
1. The Lorax (Universal) Week 2 [3,746 Theaters]
Friday $9.8M, Saturday $19.3M, Weekend $39M, Cume $121.9M
2. John Carter (Disney) NEW [3,749 Theaters]
Friday $9.8M, Saturday $12.3M, Weekend $30.6M
3. Project X (Warner Bros) Week 2 [3,055 Theaters]
Friday $3.9M, Saturday $4.5M, Weekend $11.5M, Cume $40.1M
4. Silent House (LD Entertainment/Open Road) NEW [1,890 Theaters]
Friday $2.6M, Saturday $2.7M, Weekend $7M
5. Act Of Valor (Relativity) Week 3 [2,951 Theaters]
Friday $2.0M, Saturday $3.1M, Weekend $7M, Cume $56.1M
6. A Thousand Words (DreamWorks/Paramount) NEW [2,124 Theaters]
Friday $1.9M, Saturday $2.7M, Weekend $6.3M
7. Safe House (Universal) Week 5 [2,144 Theaters]
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $2.2M, Weekend $4.9M, Cume $115.7M
8. The Vow (Screen Gems/Sony) Week 5 [2,478 Theaters]
Friday $1.2M, Saturday $1.7M, Weekend $4M, Cume $117.6M
9. Journey 2 (Warner Bros) Week 5 [2,525 Theaters]
Friday $850K, Saturday $1.8M, Weekend $3.6M, Cume $90.7M
10. This Means War (Fox) Week 4 [1,848 Theaters]
Friday $1.2M, Saturday $#1.6M, Weekend $3.7M, Cume $46.8M
I spent Oscar week in Los Angeles, and after lengthy chats with film executives and agents, I detail below the long-term issues concerning Hollywood. But first, to sum up: I’m convinced they’ve never seen their business in a greater state of disarray than it is right now. Vets who’ve done this for decades admit they feel less confident than ever about the formula to create hits, and are perplexed why it has become next to impossible to create movie stars anymore (Channing Tatum was on all their lips after The Vow, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy less so after This Means War, but beyond Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington, Adam Sandler and Will Smith, do any actors draw reliably at the box office?). And there was a palpable lack of excitement for the Oscars, which is clearly hamstrung not by the imagination of its producers, but rather the Academy’s unwillingness to get off its high horse and start showing audiences around the world what they really want to see.
We are in a period where major studios have been burned enough by tentpole bets that nearly all have become infatuated with making films that cost under $10 million. One exec held his arms wide to express the divide that has become the priority for studios. One side represented films that cost nothing and had no stars, while the other represented $100 million-$200 million bets that …
Disney sent a message to thousands of financial analysts and Wall Street types aimed at drawing their attention to about-to-bomb $250M-budget John Carter even though it’s looking like a $100 million writeoff. Talk about tone deaf. “The best part is the subject line of the email. Disney obviously hasn’t noticed that The Lorax came out last weekend.” Enjoy:
From: Walt Disney Pictures
Date: March 8, 2012 2:47:10 PM EST
Subject: See “The First Blockbuster of the Year” tomorrow: Get Tickets Today
Hollywood is in a tizzy over the early tracking which just came online this morning for Walt Disney Studios‘ John Carter opening March 9th. “Not good. 2 unaided, 53 aware, 27 definitely interested, 3 first choice,” a senior exec at a rival studio emails me. Another writes me, ”It just came out. Women of all ages have flat out rejected the film. The tracking for John Carter is shocking for a film that cost over $250 million. This could be the biggest writeoff of all time.” I’m hearing figures in the neighborhood of $100 million. And the studio isn’t even trying to spin reports of the 3D pic’s bloated budget any more.
Now, to be fair, this very soft tracking has been expected. The studios’ private reports have shown for some time very soft awareness and very little wannasee. So what’s Disney’s explanation? “It’s the last leftover from the previous regime of Dick Cook,” an executive who works for successor Rich Ross reminds me. “We’re not running away from the movie. Our job is to sell it.” Then again, Cook also left Ross Alice In Wonderland to sell, too, along with other hits and a few misses.
Here’s Disney’s game spot for John Carter, directed by Andrew Stanton and starring Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins and Willem Dafoe. Opens March 9.
Here’s a teaser for Disney’s Super Bowl spot for John Carter. There’s a contest tie-in for a trip to Super Bowl XLVII in 2013 in New Orleans. Details within.
Today we stumbled upon this Japanese-subtitled/voiceover trailer for Andrew Stanton’s John Carter. It reveals a little more of Disney’s upcoming movie based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ series of Barsoom (Mars) stories. The first was published almost 100 years ago. Many sequels followed. To today’s readers the author’s voice may seem quaint, archaic. Cultural and stylistic shortcomings aside, Burroughs’ storytelling is surprisingly compelling. Some commenters have dismissed what they’ve seen in previous trailers as derivative or outright ripoffs of dozens of other movies. Burroughs’ writing suggests the reverse. Mars has been a problematic movie subect for Disney and others but Pixar veteran Stanton is no slouch and his name alone will lure some fans to theaters to see his labor of love for themselves. John Carter opens domestically March 9.
Disney has released a new trailer for John Carter, the science-fiction epic based on the series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs that stars Taylor Kitsch as the Confederate veteran and gentleman warrior who finds himself mysteriously transported to Mars, where he becomes a planetary legend.
Disney Announces Two New Pixar Films
Who needs Comic-Con when you can do it yourself?
That must be exactly what Disney is thinking as it continues its massive second annual Disney D23/ Expo, the “ultimate fan event” taking place all weekend long at the Anaheim Convention Center right next to Disneyland (the name refers to 1923, the year Walt Disney started his studio). It’s an offshoot of the official Disney Fan Club and includes a ginormous exhibition center with every imaginable opportunity to buy Disneyana, numerous fan events and celebrity-sighting opps, and then there was today’s centerpiece: a near-three-hour preview of movies in the pipeline from Disney, Pixar and Marvel (which announced a partnership with the company in 2009 that is just now gearing up).
Call it “Mickey Con”. It’s all a bit overwhelming, so no wonder it takes three days just to get through it all. The event continues through the end of Sunday.
After his major presentation of the new Disney slate in the gargantuan arena in front of 4200 seemingly rabid fans (and a few more restrained press members), I caught up with Walt Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross in the Green Room for an exclusive interview in which he talked about the possibilities of a fifth Pirate.s of the Caribbean film as well as his first comments on the demise of Pirates team Johnny Depp and Jerry Bruckheimer’s about-to-shoot Western The Lone Ranger, which Deadline’s Mike Fleming first reported had been dropped by Disney due to budgetary concerns on the pricey pic. When I asked Ross if there was anything new to report he said, ”Nothing definitive. There is nothing new. I’m hoping to do it, I’m certainly hoping. I think it’s a compelling story and no one wants to work with Jerry and Johnny more than me, so we’ll see how it works.” And about the possibility of a fifth Pirates? The situation is obviously clouded with the Lone Ranger situation, but again he used the word “hopeful.”