Warner Bros. announced today that their untitled Whitey Bulger film starring Johnny Depp, also known as Black Mass, will hit theaters on September 18, 2015. Universal’s Jake Gyllenhaal and Jason Clarke true life disaster pic Everest is the only wide-release competition currently slated for that weekend. Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnace) is helming the drama about Boston gangster Bulger’s notorious relationship with FBI agent John Connolly, which also stars Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons, Sienna Miller, Dakota Johnson, Rory Cochran, Julianne Nicholson, and Adam Scott. Kevin Bacon joined the cast last week as the film continues to shoot through the summer.
I’m told by a company insider that Roger Bart, a Tony winner and star of Broadway’s The Producers and Young Frankenstein, has departed Finding Neverland, the Broadway-bound, Diane Paulus-staged show based on the 2004 Miramax film starring Johnny Depp. The film about Peter Pan creator J.M. Barrie and his relationship with the family that became the Darlings of his books about the ageless boy, the fairy Tinkerbell, the Lost Boys, Captain Hook and his gang of pirates aboard the Jolly Roger. The musical is slated to begin performances July 23 at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, following a U.K. tryout and hefty revisions, and run through Sept. 28. If all goes well and audiences think lovely thoughts, a Broadway run is planned for next spring. Harvey Weinstein is lead producer.
The good news for the production is that it will be swapping one Tony winner for another. Bart’s replacement in the role of American theatrical producer Charles Frohman (played in the film by Dustin Hoffman), I’m told, is Michael McGrath, who won a Tony in 2012 for Nice Work If You Can Get It. He was also a Tony nominee for his performance in Mike Nichols‘ production of …
Johnny Depp doing Harry Houdini in Lionsgate’s Summit biopic based on William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s book The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero? It’s being blasted elsewhere as a big scoop, but some followup reporting convinces us that it’s not much further along when Deadline reported on it earlier this year. It’s one of several Houdini projects in development including Sony’s Houdini. Red 2‘s Dean Parisot is set to direct the Lionsgate film from a script by Noah Oppenheim.
Lionsgate has slotted Johnny Depp-starrer Mortdecai for February 6, 2015. The action comedy, adapted from the 1970s novels by Kyril Bonfiglioli, centers on debonair art dealer and part-time rogue Charlie Mortdecai (Depp). Charlie juggles angry Russians, the British Mi5, his impossibly leggy wife and an international terrorist as he travels the globe in a race to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filed with Nazi gold. Ewan McGregor, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Olivia Munn, Oliver Platt, Aubrey Plaza, and Jeff Goldblum co-star. David Koepp directs from a script by Eric Aronson. Depp produces with Christi Dembrowski and Andrew Lazar. Gigi Pritzker exec produces. Mortdecai will open against Warner Bros’ action pic Run All Night and Universal’s Seventh Son.
The Horse’s Mouth is an ongoing feature with a collection of head-scratching comments and crazy conversations we’ve had with people across the industry that made us laugh. We thought we’d share them with you. No need to call for a retraction as no one but your assistant (if they were listening in) will know who you are. We’ll never tell:
Reporter: Are we all still on for lunch?
Publicist: Yes, but we eat fast, so don’t order any desserts or coffee.
Publicist: Can you put in that the movie had an A- CinemaScore?
Reporter: I did that already on Friday when I did all the other CinemaScores. Scroll down and you will see it.
Publicist: Ahhh, I didn’t scroll far enough. Thank u so much! Sorry to bother u on a Sunday.
Reporter: No worries … and it’s a Monday.
Reporter: I heard there were a lot of layoffs at your company today.
Exec: Oh, it was nothing. Just normal stuff.
Exec: Yeah, just one of those things. Just a normal day.
Reporter: Laying off an entire staff is a normal day?!
Exec: Well, I don’t want you to make a big deal of it.
Movies open every weekend. Some soar, some fail. Every once in a while a flop comes along that is so unexpected and devastating that everyone in town is left saying, “How the hell did that happen?” Recent examples include John Carter, The Lone Ranger and maybe even Pompeii or The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, even if the latter two sank without making much of a ripple. The $100 million Transcendence, the Johnny Depp-Morgan Freeman starrer that marked the directing debut of Chris Nolan’s vaunted cinematographer Wally Pfister, is one of those what-the-hell-happened films. Consider it grossed just $10.8 million domestic for its opening weekend, about half of Heaven Is For Real, a starless movie whose $12 million budget was likely less than Depp’s Transcendence salary. Heaven If For Real has grossed $30 million so far domestically and looks like a breakout sleeper hit.
So what the hell happened? There is blame to go around, including at Alcon Entertainment, which with its offshore partners fully financed the Warner Bros-distributed flop. Talking to numerous parties, I believe this was a movie that probably never should have been made because the script was complex, derivative, and hard to market, and it was not easy to discern who the audience should have been. It also is a case where yet again it was a mistake to give a first-time director the keys to a movie with complex subject matter that required meshing with the high maintenance of a big movie star and a giant budget. Transcendence seems similar in some ways to John Carter, where first-time live-action director Andrew Stanton had the endorsement of Pixar’s John Lasseter that led Disney execs to give him a lot of rope, and he proved out of his depth despite having directed so many animated hits. Here, Pfister got the job after standing aside Nolan as cinematographer, and proving himself a gifted visual artist on such films as The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception. Nolan, who made the film Insomnia at Alcon, endorsed his protege there and encouraged him to start on the kind of big canvas on which Nolan creates his masterpieces. But just because Pfister stands next to Nolan doesn’t mean he is Nolan, or has his ability for making the most complex storytelling palatable for the masses, like he did on Inception. The shoot was rough. Pfister and Alcon certainly put in the work here, and got the test scores to an acceptable level, but critics just hated the movie. Audiences felt the same, with the film getting a 19% rating on RottenTomatoes. And Johnny Depp, mostly seen as a computer image on a computer screen, didn’t open it the way that highly paid movie stars are supposed to.
UPDATE: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire just beat out such films as Oscar winner 12 Years A Slave and The Wolf Of Wall Street for Movie Of The Year in the conclusion of the MTV Movie Awards. Even though Johnny Depp presented, the award was accepted by Josh Hutcherson. Nobody else showed up. Yowza.
EARLIER: So what’s happening in the vitally important MTV Movie Awards? Well, Conan O’Brien–who would win if there was an award for Most Screwed Over For Network Late Night Slot after guys who came behind him have the big network gigs while he’s still the best show on TBS–took the stage on a design that seemed to be inspired by where the Sleestaks lived on Land Of The Lost. I can tell you Jared Leto won Best On-Screen Transformation for getting dolled up for Dallas Buyers Club (I bet he puts the popcorn trophy right next to Oscar on his mantle), and that We’re The Millers’ Will Poulter won for Breakthrough Performance, with Zac Efron beating out some hunks for Best Shirtless Performance and Channing Tatum for Trailblazer Award. And Jonah Hill won some award… You know what? The Yankees are right now playing the Boston Red Sox, and they’re winning and it’s Jeter’s final season. And Game Of Thrones is coming on and trust me, there will be blood. I’m sort of in charge here and screw it, I can’t watch …
The primetime special built around Johnny Depp‘s two-day China promotional tour for Transcendence aired locally Thursday night on ZheJiangTV, a national network that reaches about 1.2 billion people. With an average nightly audience of about 200 million, it would be fair to say that a lot more Chinese are familiar with Wally Pfister’s directorial debut than they may have been otherwise. The event is part of a growing belief that marketing directly to China pays off. It was reminiscent of last year’s Iron Man 3 gala that put Robert Downey Jr front and center and was also organized by DMG Entertainment. That worked out well for Iron Man 3, and a similar effect is hoped for here.
The Transcendence special was meant to be entertaining, but also had a very targeted agenda. I’m told much of the content was geared towards the audience better understanding what the film is about, and the science and technology behind it. The live audience at the events taped in late March saw Depp learn some Mandarin, share the stage with Chinese actors like Wu Xiu Bo and Wu Bing, and jam with with rocker David Tao. Singaporean pop star JJ Lin also performed a tribute to Depp singing a song from Sweeney Todd. Such efforts, it’s said, allow …
In this week’s podcast, Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione and host David Bloom look at whether Russia is likely to go ahead with a threatened cap on Western films in the wake of the Crimea crisis, two more deals affecting indie TV producers, update from Johnny Depp’s China tour into Transcendence, and mark the naming of another female filmmaker as a jury president at the Cannes Film Festival.
We’ll also take our weekly look at the international box office, led by the all-time box office record set by Frozen, whether The Lego Movie can ever catch up and big international debuts for the sequels to Captain America and Rio.
Johnny Depp started his Chinese promotional tour for Transcendence in Beijing tonight, playing guitar for about 1,000 invited guests and fans. The event was held at the 798 art zone inside a decomissioned factory that was built during the period of military-industrial cooperation between the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. Depp is in Beijing to boost the profile of Wally Pfister’s directorial debut, which opens day-and-date with the U.S. on April 18. Warner Bros is releasing Stateside. Hollywood stars are increasingly traveling to China to promote their films in the world’s second largest box office market. This two-day tour is hosted by DMG Entertainment which produced Transcendence with Alcon Entertainment and Straight Up Films. Last year, DMG pulled off a similar one-of-a-kind event in support of Iron Man 3, bringing Robert Downey Jr to town for a gala inside the Forbidden City. That show looked a little more formal, while tonight’s was more rock-and-roll, with a massive fan base coming out to see Depp. Joining him onstage was Taiwanese R&B/hard rock artist David Tao, a big local star. Depp jammed on guitar while Tao sang a tune made famous in the early 1990s by Cui Jian, aka “The Father of Chinese Rock”. Here’s an exclusive snap of the duo:
CinemaCon: Warner Bros Brings Out Heavy Star Power To Court Theater Owners – Eastwood, Depp, Freeman, Sandler, Tatum Hit Vegas
If CinemaCon delegates were waiting for a busload of movie stars to show up at the convention, Warner Bros granted their wish this afternoon delivering, by far, more star power to the stage of the Caesars Palace Colosseum Theatre than the other studios combined. Clint Eastwood, Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Melissa McCarthy , Morgan Freeman, Johnny Depp, Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis were among the names who were trotted out by the studio to the delight of theater owners in the audience. But sometimes it gets awkward up there. Tatum and Kunis just read their lines off a teleprompter, and Depp couldn’t seem to figure out if he had any. Usually at these things he just walks across the stage and waves. Sandler actually was quite funny, bantering with a very pregnant Barrymore, who was still in tears she said over the preceding clip from Godzilla. Eastwood managed a standing ovation and, in talking about the very high-decibel sound levels of the film clips, charmed his way through a brief introduction to footage from his forthcoming musical Jersey Boys.
The heavy star presence distinguished Warners’ turn in the spotlight, the last of the major studios to come to bat, in a presentation that was otherwise very corporate in its approach. Warners had much to crow about and clearly knew it after coming off a record $5.03 billion year, 10 Oscars and a personal-best 21 nominations. It also had a 2013 summer that produced another record: All seven releases earned more than $100 million each. And Warners touted early results in 2014 as being just as promising, with The Lego Movie earning $400 million worldwide so far and the sequel 300: Rise Of An Empire already up to a symmetrically perfect $300 million. Whether the studio can continue on this kind of roll is anyone’s guess as it has a year ahead that’s almost totally lacking in bread-and-butter sequels.
In this week’s podcast, Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione and host David Bloom look at a big Chinese tour by star Johnny Depp ahead of Wally Pfister’s directorial debut on April 18 with Transcendence. They stay in China to discuss Discovery’s consulting and content deal with a new pay-TV channel from Wasu Digital, then jump to the UK, which has again beefed up its tax incentives for film and TV production, even with existing facilities there already straining to accommodate demand. Nancy and David also take their weekly peek at trends in the international box office, led by Need For Speed and Noah. The U.S. champ for the weekend, Divergent, opened in 18 territories, but remains a mystery as Lionsgate holds off reporting its numbers.
Wally Pfister‘s directorial debut Transcendence will open on April 18 in China, a coveted day-and-date release with the U.S. Warner Bros is distributing in the States. The Johnny Depp sci-fi action drama will be exclusively released in China in 3D and IMAX 3D, a growing trend that recently saw Robocop converted to the format solely for the massive market. Trenscendence will also have a 2D release locally. Day-and-Date is a big deal in China where piracy is rampant; Disney’s Need For Speed opened simultaneously with the U.S. two weeks ago and outperformed the domestic haul in its first weekend. China is now the movie’s biggest market worldwide. Transcendence is the first product of a partnership between Alcon Entertainment and Beijing-based DMG Entertainment to finance, produce, and distribute films (LA-based Straight Up Films is also a producer). DMG has some experience here, having secured a pre-day-and-date release last year for Iron Man 3 — it went out May 1 in China and May 3 in the U.S. and went on to be the No. 2 movie in China for the year with about $125M in box office. The China Transcendence release will follow Depp’s big promotional swing through China beginning March 31 and replete with a series of primetime TV specials to be shown nationwide in the lead up …
Post Christian Grey’s S&M Obsession In ‘Fifty Shades’, Dakota Johnson To Play Mob Moll Opposite Johnny Depp In ‘Black Mass’
EXCLUSIVE: Fresh from what should be a star-making turn as Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades Of Grey, Dakota Johnson is in early talks to play the love interest of Johnny Depp’s Whitey Bulger character in the Scott Cooper-directed Black Mass. Bulger has a couple of women in his life, but Johnson will play Lindsey, his girlfriend and the mother of his 6-year-old son Douglas, who dies tragically. The film is coming together quickly with Warner Bros distributing worldwide with Depp as Bulger, and Joel Edgerton as disgraced FBI agent John Connolly, who grew up with Bulger and was alleged to have tipped him off when the feds were closing in, leading Bulger to go on the lam for a decade until he was finally caught. Guy Pearce will play Bill Bulger, brother of the mobster who was president of the Massachusetts Senate and a major power broker in town.
Johnson, who is the daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, is expected to return for what will be three and possibly four movies made from the E.L. James book. The first film, which also stars Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey, will be released by Universal and Focus Features …
Johnny Depp To Make Big Swing Through China For ‘Transcendence’; Events To Be Broadcast Across Country
In April 2013, China pulled out the stops for Robert Downey Jr’s splashy visit to Beijing in support of Iron Man 3. That included a red carpet gala at the Forbidden City; the only time a Hollywood film had ever been celebrated inside the imperial Taimiao Temple. The extra push paid off: The movie went on to be No. 2 at the Chinese box office for 2013 with over $121M. Marvel’s partner on Iron Man 3, DMG Entertainment, hosted the event and is now planning something similar for Johnny Depp and sci-fic action drama Transcendence. In his first visit to the Middle Kingdom, Depp’s two-day tour kicks off on March 31 and I’m told it will be “as exciting and uniquely DMG/China,” but also tailored specifically to Depp and the film, with a different location, themes and content. DMG says Depp will appear alongside “the most acclaimed Chinese actors, the most popular Chinese musicians, and the most influential Chinese artists at events that will be broadcast across China” in the lead up to the film’s local premiere. Transcendence is the first product of a partnership between Alcon Entertainment and Beijing-based DMG to finance, produce, and distribute films. Warner Bros releases the pic in the U.S. on April 18. There …
UPDATE, 12:04 PM: By Warner Bros jumping aboard the high-profile Johnny Depp-Joel Edgerton pic Black Mass, it means the studio won’t be taking on another Whitey Bulger project in its own backyard: the one that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon had been developing for a couple of years as a starring vehicle for Damon via their Warners-based Pearl Street Films. I’m hearing that Affleck and Damon were given a day or two advance notice that the studio was putting its eggs in the Black Mass basket, but that news came just a day before the latest rewrite was turned in by Aaron Stockard, who worked with Affleck on The Town and Gone Baby Gone and who rewrote the script by Oscar nominated The Wolf Of Wall Street scribe Terence Winter. There was much enthusiasm, then radio silence, and then…Naturally there are bruised feelings that Warners will have to repair with two of its most valuable players, as this was the first project pitched for Affleck to direct and Damon to star after Pearl Street inked its overall deal there, and I’m told the studio assured the pair it wanted to make their movie.
This is all a part of the big rough and tumble game of studios needing to fill slates, and clearly someone was going to come out first with a Bulger biopic. But there are plenty of reasons to smooth any ruffles here. Affleck is directing and starring in Warner Bros’ Live By Night, an epic period crime drama that he adapted from the best-selling novel by Dennis Lehane, author of Affleck’s first directorial outing Gone Baby Gone. It’s the follow-up to the Best Picture Oscar winner Argo he made for the studio. He also is playing Batman in Warner Bros’ Batman Vs. Superman.
Warner Bros has made a slight shift to the release of Wally Pfister‘s debut feature Transcendence, which now will open Friday, April 18, instead of Thursday the 17th. Johnny Depp stars in the sci fi action drama as an AI professor who uploads his consciousness into a computer with startling results. Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, and Morgan Freeman co-star.
‘Jackass: Bad Grandpa,’ ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ Among Top Make-Up Honors; ‘American Hustle,’ ‘Behind the Candelabra’ In Hairstyling
After a ten-year hiatus, the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Awards are back and were awarded tonight in a black-tie ceremony with 500 in attendance at the Paramount Studios Theater. Fourteen categories were honored in film, television, commercials and live theater. Two of the films honored tonight — Jackass: Bad Grandpa and Dallas Buyers Club are also in contention for Best Achievement in Make-up and Hairstyling Oscars this year. Katherine Gordon won for hairstyling for American Hustle and although she is in London for the BAFTA Awards, she did send a friend to pick up the awards with a statement thanking Christian Bale “for having the courage of ten men and ten women for allowing that comb over.” Robin Mathews, who was honored for best make-up for Dallas Buyers Club noted that the entire movie was shot in 23 days and she only had a budget of only $250 which left many in the audience to gasp. Mathews actually used cornmeal and grits to give the illusion of dermatitis and had to make her actors look healthier and sick in the span of one day as the actors maintained their weight. Stephen Prouty and Tony Gardner (of Alterian) were on hand to receive the award for Jackass: Bad Grandpa and spoke about the three hours it took every day …
Johnny Depp stars as an AI professor who uploads his consciousness into the digital ether when his body dies in Transcendence, the directorial debut of Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister. Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, and Morgan Freeman co-star in the sci-fi thriller from a Black List script by Jack Paglen. Transcendence is the first product of a partnership between Alcon Entertainment and Beijing-based DMG Entertainment to finance, produce, and distribute films. Warner Bros releases the pic April 17. Here’s the new trailer: