I’m told by Marvel moles there is really nothing to this rumor about Johnny Depp playing Steven Strange in Dr. Strange for Marvel Studios. The story’s being bannered by Variety online, but don’t dress for it. I’m told …
Fox Nabs Family Comedy From Chris Miller & Phil Lord, Johnny Depp And Chris Romano With Put Pilot Commitment
EXCLUSIVE: For their first sale through their overall deal at 20th Century Fox TV, Chris Miller and Phil Lord have teamed with Johnny Depp to produce Torched, a comedy project that has landed at Fox with a put pilot commitment. The single-camera family comedy hails from Blue Mountain State co-creator/star Chris Romano. It centers on a fast-talking, fun-loving dad, who through his very unique — and sometimes law-breaking — job, strives to give his young son the life he never had. 20th TV, Lord Miller and Depp’s Infinitum are producing, with Romano, Lord, Miller, Depp, Lord Miller President Seth Cohen and Infinitum’s Christi Dembrowski and Norman Todd executive producing. Miller and Lord previously worked with Depp on 21 Jump Street.
BREAKING: Disney has moved off its summer 2015 release date with Pirates Of The Caribbean 5, and the studio is now looking to slot it for summer 2016. This will create some jockeying from other studios next summer – Pirates had been slated for a July 10 release and other studios steered clear of that date — but I’m told from insiders this is not a case where they are hoisting a distress flag.
Basically, the studio and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have an advanced outline from scribe Jeff Nathanson, who is writing. They have directors Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg, who did a great job with a modest budget on Kon-Tiki, but who are new to the big scale of a film like Pirates. The studio would have to get into production by February, which would mean prepping off the outline.
The decision was made that it wasn’t worth rushing until they are sure the script is right. Why not take the time to do a proper job with one of Disney’s most important tentpoles? The first four films grossed $3.7 billion, and the last installment, On Stranger Tides, crossed the $1 billion mark. Disney has plenty for summer 2015 anyway. There is a sequel to The Avengers and the first of the next three installments of the Star Wars franchise, directed by JJ Abrams. There is also the Marvel pic Ant-Man, and Inside Out from Pixar.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is in talks with Joel Edgerton to star in Shantaram, an adaptation of the Gregory David Roberts novel that is being produced by Inifinitum Nihil partners Johnny Depp and Christi Dembrowski, and GK Films’ Graham King. Following a couple of stalled attempts to get this movie up and running after the studio paid $2 million for the rights in 2004, Depp himself jump started the process by personally courting Edgerton to play a role Depp once intended to play before the film was derailed by the Writer’s Strike.
Edgerton is being courted for the lead role of a remarkable protagonist who, at the time the book became a sensation in Hollywood, was said to have been modeled after the author in a thinly veiled memoir. He starts as an Australian heroin addict who escapes a maximum-security prison, reinvents himself as a doctor in the slums of India and eventually uses gun-running and counterfeiting skills to fight against the invading Russian troops in Afghanistan.
Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer Blast Critics Over ‘Lone Ranger’ Bomb: They “Slit The Jugular” Of Our Film
Lone Ranger stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer waited until they hit the UK press circuit to explain why the expensive Disney tent pole flopped big time at the summer box office. “This is the deal with American critics,” said Armie Hammer speaking to Yahoo UK/Ireland. “They’ve been gunning for our movie since it was shut down the first time. I think that’s probably when most of the critics wrote their initial reviews.” Hammer minced the fewest words of all the Lone Ranger gang throwing jabs at film critics he said “[jumped] on the bandwagon” and “[tried] to slit the jugular of our film.”
Depp toed the same company line, blaming an imaginary American film critics vendetta for why the Gore Verbinski-directed, Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Western reimagining failed over the 4th of July weekend and cost Disney an estimated $190M loss just a year after its $200M John Carter write-down. “I think the reviews were written when they heard Gore [Verbinski] and Jerry [Bruckheimer] and I were going to do The Lone Ranger,” said Depp. “To round it out as a big group, the American press, the journalists or whatever – yeah, I think the reviews were written 7, 8 months probably before we ever released the film.”
July 4th Global Weekend: ‘Despicable Me 2′ Giant $293.2M and #1, ‘Lone Ranger’ Dismal $73.2M For Depp, ‘Let Me Explain’ $17.3M
SUNDAY NOON, 13TH UPDATE: As predicted fireworks blazed at the Fourth Of July box office which headed to $229M domestic through Sunday (+16% from last year) and a new 3-day weekend record for the holiday. But there was only bad news for Disney’s #2 too-expensive The Lone Ranger (3,904 theaters) which opened disastrously Wednesday, remained weak on Thursday, did only $10.6M Friday, and flatlined for $10.7M Saturday. That’s a very disappointing 5-day holiday of $48.9M max. The two-quadrant Western won’t cover its high $215M-$250M cost despite this holiday’s 4x multiple. The Johnny Depp-Armie Hammer starrer’s domestic cume is way below Disney’s initial lowball projection of $65M and the 3rd big-budget bomb of Summer 2013. (Two Sony pics – White House Down and After Earth- also were expensive bombs.) As Deadline was first to report, the studio in August 2011 shut down Lone Ranger for six months after the budget ballooned out of control. Too bad Disney didn’t just scrap the pic altogether. Depp’s worldwide popularity may, repeat may, help overseas where oaters usually don’t excel.Lone Ranger opened day and date in 30% of the foreign landscape but only 4 big markets: Italy and Russia (released July 2) and Australia and Korea (July 4). It made $24.3M internationally for a global cume of $73.2M through Sunday. Ouch!
Far different result for the #1 movie, Illumination Entertainment’s and Universal’s Despicable Me 2 (3,957 theaters) which only cost a very reasonable $76M. It is the #1 film in the world this weekend, opening atop the U.S. and Canadian box office with a record-breaking estimated gross of $142.1M. The 3D toon posted the biggest 5-day opening for an animated film and the top 3-day animated opening in July (earning $82.5M). Internationally, its gross widened to 6,849 dates in 45 territories to total $151.1M. The combined global cume is $293.2M. This marks Universal’s second biggest international opening weekend ever behind Fast & Furious 6 ($161M). Day after day pic kept overperforming in North America for the 5-day holiday. (“We stood here watching Rentrak and wondering, ‘Could it be?’” a Uni exec tells me.) The new worldwide cumulative easily passed $200M Saturday on its way to $300M through Sunday. Not only is DM2 performing well ahead of the original film globally but also on par with such toon franchise megahits as Toy Story 3, Ice Age 4, Madagascar 3 and Shrek 4. And the sequel’s opening is among the top animated openings of all time in every market. Pic has 18 more territories to open over the next few months.
Kevin Hart’s concert pic Let Me Explain (876 theaters) from Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment made $3.7M Friday and the studio projects $17.4M for the 5-day holiday. It’s yet another surprisingly strong debut from the standup comedian’s rabid and rapidly growing fanbase in the cheapest film and smallest theater count of the Fourth Of July field from major studios. Studio harnessed Hart’s social media network to plug the pic.
More analysis below. Here’s the Top Ten estimates:
1. Despicable Me 2 (Universal) NEW [Runs 3,957]
Wednesday $35.0M, Thursday $24.5M, Friday $30.5M, Saturday $29.6M
3-Day Weekend $82.5M, Domestic Cume $142.1M
International Cume $151.1M, Worldwide Total $293.1M
2. The Lone Ranger (Disney) NEW [Runs 3,904]
Wednesday $9.6M, Thursday $9.8M, Friday $10.6M, Saturday $10.7M
3-Day Weekend $29.4M, Domestic Cume $48.9M
International Cume $24.3M, Worldwide Total $73.2M
UPDATE, 11:24 AM: Deadline broke news last night that Johnny Depp was teetering toward the exit door on Black Mass, the Barry Levinson-directed story of Whitey Bulger, with Joel Edgerton playing his disgraced FBI pal John Connolly. There was some hope last night that after some hard negotiating, things might turn around and Depp would stay in the movie. I’m now told that’s not going to happen. The financiers, Cross Creek and Exclusive Media, are moving to recast the lead, balking at paying Depp the equivalent of $23 million to headline the indie crime drama. If you remember, Ben Affleck planned to direct buddy Matt Damon in a Bulger picture, but this news isn’t going to help those heavily booked fellas. The Black Mass team — which sold the picture heavily in Cannes — expect to have a new star in place so they can shoot the picture later this year.
After four days of pristine presentations of certified vintage (mostly) classic movies, the TCM Classic Film Festival saved its only new film for the last day Sunday with the official world premiere of the documentary Don’t Say No Until I Finish Talking: The Story Of Richard D. Zanuck. The 90-minute doc begins airing on TCM next month, and it’s not only a must for anyone interested in the extraordinary career of Zanuck, but as a primer on survival in the dog-eat-dog movie industry.
Even though the Egyptian Theatre screening was a “world premiere”, the film actually was first seen in early October at Zanuck’s memorial service at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. (Zanuck died July 13 of a sudden heart attack at age 77). As his widow and co-Oscar-winning producer Lili Fini Zanuck (Driving Miss Daisy, Cocoon) told me before Sunday’s screening, “When it was time to do the memorial I was so grateful to have this footage. There’s just nothing that could come close. There’s no montage I could have come up with or people speaking — you never would have wanted people speaking for some 90-odd minutes. And I felt so fortunate that night at the Academy to have this incredible documentary. It is not that it just follows Dick’s life, it’s that it is incredibly inspiring to people… After the memorial some people came up to me and said ‘Oh I wish I knew Dick this way’, and I said ‘You would never know Dick this way’. He wasn’t that kind of person. He didn’t see himself as a role model of any kind I think. He was just doing his best , and in his youth he was sort of rough and tumble. He would have gotten a big kick out of people finding him inspiring.”
Exhibitors I polled this week at CinemaCon had more faith in franchises than star-driven blockbusters on the 2013 slate. Like Tom Cruise in Oblivion, Will Smith is still a big deal to theater owners. He’s just not a sure thing in a slow-moving sci-fi vehicle like Sony’s After Earth, which now opens May 31. Johnny Depp scored biggest with a surprise appearance in front of elated NATO members and the promise of another eccentric blockbuster role, but the specters of Universal’s Cowboys & Aliens and Disney’s own John Carter loom over the Western. Paramount even trotted out an uncomfortable-looking Brad Pitt to boost World War Z, but exhibitors worry the zombie pic won’t be a must-see for moviegoers. Jennifer Lawrence and Lionsgate’s Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire, on the other hand, had CinemaCon attendees seeing dollar signs. Meanwhile the problem with Aubrey Plaza winning CinemaCon’s Breakthrough Performer Of The Year award (on the heels of her MTV Movie Awards stunt) is that exhibitors still have no idea who she is. The Parks And Recreation star is better known to younger TV viewers than the corporate-leaning CinemaCon crowd. And many theater owners still see television as the enemy, including Regal CEO Amy Miles, who said as much at a CinemaCon luncheon Thursday.
But mid-sized theater owners are realizing they have to cater to their audiences, and those may not always be blockbuster crowds. “My biggest movie of last year was The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel“, a 40-year owner of a Michigan resort-town cinema said. “At my theater, the biggest star is Kevin James”, another operator of a California second-run multiplex told me. One thing that was not bankable at CinemaCon 2013: High-frame-rate technology. The Hobbit stumbled at last year’s confab by pushing its 48 FPS HFR 3D to exhibitors. Despite the first pic’s $1 billion global box office, nobody this year was pinning hopes on HFR specifically in The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug this Christmas — even Peter Jackson, who conspicuously made no mention of it in his taped message to the CinemaCon audience.