Deadline Awards Watch 62: The Talking To Cate And Julia Podcast

Deadline Awards Watch ep 62In this week’s podcast, Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks with host David Bloom about which films and performers got an Oscar bump out of the WGA, Annie and Cinematographers awards shows this past Saturday; check in on the Santa Barbara film festival’s celebration of Cate Blanchett and whether the controversy over her Blue Jasmine director in will spill over into the Oscar race; dissect the Academy’s defense of its de-nomination of “Alone Yet Not Alone” in the face of complaints by, particularly, religious and conservative critics; and discuss the highlights of Pete’s sit-down with Julia Roberts this week to discuss her supporting actress Oscar nomination for “August: Osage County.”

We’ll also get Pete’s take on the week’s notable movie debuts, including the true and likable WWII story The Monuments Men, directed by and starring George Clooney with a big-name cast, and The Lego Movie, a fast-moving and smart animated film that Pete suggests could be in the Oscar hunt a year from now.

You can listen to the podcast in your choice of formats here:
Deadline Awards Watch podcast 62 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Awards Watch podcast 62 (.M4A version)
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Who’s Giving Grammy Intro To Paul McCartney And Ringo Starr?

By | Sunday January 26, 2014 @ 4:20pm PST
Mike Fleming

ringoEXCLUSIVE: The Grammy Awards will soon get underway, and the highlight of the evening will be the celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Beatles‘ invasion of America. Surviving members Paul McCartney and … Read More »

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Julia Roberts Career Tribute After Fourth Oscar Nomination: Video

By | Thursday January 23, 2014 @ 1:08pm PST
Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE: With last week’s Supporting Actress nomination for August: Osage County, Julia Roberts earned her fourth Oscar nom. She’s been named once before in the category for Steel Magnolias (1989) and twice for lead actress — for 1990′s Pretty Woman and of course her Academy Award-winning performance in 2000′s Erin Brockovich.  But … Read More »

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Wild Critics’ Choice Movie Awards Brings Out Oscar Nomination Day’s Winners And Losers; Julia Roberts Compares It To “Some Strange Fellini Movie”

Pete Hammond

19th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards - Backstage And AudienceLast night’s Critics’ Choice Movie Awards pretty much mirrored the results of the Golden Globes handed out just a few days earlier. The winners – 12  Years A Slave for Picture, American Hustle for Comedy Picture, Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Cate Blanchett, Amy Adams, Leonardo DiCaprio, director Alfonso Cuaron, Spike Jonze for his Her screenplay, and animated film Frozen – were awarded similar honors from the Hollywood Foreign Press on Sunday. The only real variation was in Supporting Actress, where Slave’s Lupita Nyong’o was the choice of the Broadcast Critics (I am a member of the group) while Jennifer Lawrence grabbed the Globe. Lawrence did win a CCMA too, though, as part of the victorious ensemble of Hustle.

Related: Critics’ Choice Movie Awards Winners

So does this mean an Oscars consensus is finally forming as awards season begins to heat up? Not really. We are still talking awards from media groups here. The real contest Critics-Choice-Movie-Awards-logo-e1379366211768starts this weekend when the first two big guild awards — SAG on Saturday and the Producers Guild on Sunday — declare their winners and the industry gets its say. These results will be significant and I am particularly looking towards the PGA (which has turned out to be a kingmaker in recent seasons, matching Oscar’s Best Picture the last six years in a row) to add some clarity to the season which at this point is wide open — although I would say, by virtue of a major Best Picture win at the Globes and CCMAs, 12 Years A Slave is having a good run this week.  And remember, for whatever reason, the Broadcast Critics Association members often seem to reflect the sentiment of Academy voters. It has a good track record predicting eventual Oscar wins.

19th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards - Press RoomBut where the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards really made its mark last night was that it came at the end of a long day where Oscar nominations were revealed. This is the second year in a row BFCA chose the same date as the Academy for a major awards season event. You might recall Ben Affleck’s “I’d like to thank the Academy…” speech last year when he won the CCMA after being snubbed by the Academy for a Best Director nomination earlier that morning.  There weren’t quite the same dramatic moments last night, but the vibe in the room was electric. A whole group of brand new Oscar nominees were in a celebratory mood, and the networking and backslapping going on was every bit as fun as the crazy atmosphere that surrounds the Globes.

Related: Bullock, Cooper Drop F-Bombs On Live Critics’ Choice Show Read More »

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Golden Globes Fashion: Who Wore What

Golden Globe Red Carpet Photos
Monica Corcoran Harel is contributing to Deadline’s Golden Globes coverage.

71st Annual Golden Globe Awards - ArrivalsYou can tell a lot about a Golden Globes nominee’s fashion poise by how she exits her limo. Not surprisingly, Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara — wearing a Zac Posen with a painted on bodice — anxiously adjusted her copious cleavage in the reflection of her car, while Cate Blanchett of Blue Jasmine regally swanned from a backseat in a high-necked, lace Armani Prive gown with nary an adjustment. Wouldn’t it have been fun if the Hollywood Foreign Press Association forced the two to switch dresses?

Related: Golden Globes: Mystery Leak On Red Carpet Confirmed As Malfunctioning Sprinkler

But let’s get right down to business. Best dressed at this year’s ceremony? Hands down, Lupita Nyong’o in a vibrant red Ralph Lauren column dress with an architectural cape. The contrast of the sleek, minimal design with the blinding color highlighted her complexion and chiseled beauty. A close second would be Blanchett’s breathtaking confection of delicate lace with a sculpted open back. Black, which can feel so funereal on a red carpet, becomes a light, airy option with a full skirt of frothy tulle and shimmering black Swarovski crystals.

Related: GALLERY: 71st Golden Globes Highlights

71st Annual Golden Globe Awards - ArrivalsOn their four-inch heels were Olivia Wilde in sequined Gucci maternity wear (reminiscent of Angelina Jolie’s Atelier Versace look in 2011), nominee Taylor Swift channeling Grace Kelly in a color blocked cherry and black Carolina Herrera and Naomi Watts in a molten silver Tom Ford with a gold crystal collar and sultry cut-outs. Amy Adams’ Valentino get up — replete with a capelet in a ’70s palette of rust, red and clementine — had a bold, retro coked up feel that felt right in step with American Hustle and flattered her slight upper frame.

Related: Golden Globes Winners: The Complete List

On to the plus-size ladies — a genre that better mirrors us mortal viewers. Plus, it’s always refreshing to see an actress on the red carpet who weighs more than a wet Cavalier King Charles spaniel. Lena Dunham of Girls highlighted her curves expertly in a clingy, citron-yellow Zac Posen, while Melissa McCarthy outlined her silhouette in a black gown bisected with silver edging that looked a bit like a crop circle of paper clips. (Her 2012 Marina Rinaldi dress still stands out as a favorite because she accentuated her shape with an empire waist.) Read More »

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TCA: HBO’s ’80s-Set ‘The Normal Heart’ Very Modern, Says Ryan Murphy

By | Thursday January 9, 2014 @ 5:22pm PST

“It’s very modern to me,” Ryan Murphy said of his HBOTCADeadline__140109155905__140109183154 production of  the 1980′s-set The Normal Heart, based on Tony-winning Larry Kramer’s play about the onset of the 2014 Winter TCA Tour - Day 1HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City.  The play ends in ’84 before there was an HIV test; Murphy’s film is about 45% new material written by Kramer, he said.  “Gay marriage is in the news, and people are fighting to be loved for who they are and to be accepted for who they are. That’s still very modern and applicable for the way we’re living today.” Murphy said he had to take out a second mortgage on his house to pay for the rights to the play — then acknowledged he was kidding, but that the rights were pricey.

Related: HBO’s ‘Looking’ Not “Just A Show For Gay People,” Says EP

“I tried to be true to those boys I feel I owe so much to,” he said of the adaptation.  “I’m married and have a child. It feels like it’s a civil rights movie. That fight paved the way for the life I have today. It’s a very painful chapter in our lives. At the end of the movie we talk about President Reagan and his legacy, and Ed Koch and his legacy”  — without whom, Murphy said, the HIV-AIDS crisis “could have been much less tragic.” Read More »

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Oscar Contenders Hit The Desert As Hollywood’s Awards Season Moves to Palm Springs

Pete Hammond

As one battle-weary awards publicist said, “Here we go again. Three months later, same drill.”

Not quite, but close.  Wasn’t it just October when we saw Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, Julia Roberts, Steve McQueen and Lupita Nyong’o hit the stage at … Read More »

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Harvey Weinstein, George Clooney And Tracy Letts On ‘August: Osage County’s Ending Change And Release Date Shift

Mike Fleming

auguEXCLUSIVE: After this week’s L.A. premiere of August: Osage County, Harvey Weinstein is prepared to make two proclamations as the film launches into a crowded Oscar season. “When it comes to Oscars, I’ll take bets on this movie, it’s going to be a surprise and a sleeper, but it’s gonna be there,” he said. His second proclamation: “I’m never again going to rush to play a movie festival anymore, until the movie is locked,” Weinstein said. “We rushed to get a version of August: Osage County because we wanted the heat of Toronto. It wasn’t finished and it has created a disconnect.”

Weinstein, George Clooney (a producer with Smokehouse Pictures partner Grant Heslov) and Tracy Letts (who adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning play into the John Wells-directed film) called me to dispel a misperception they hope will not become a problem: that because of slight changes between the Toronto version and the final cut, this was a problem picture. In this case, the early version of the Meryl Streep/Julia Roberts-starrer had a slightly different ending than it does now. The finished film is a bit longer and more polished and contains over its closing credits ”Last Mile Home”, a moving acoustic song that Kings Of Leon wrote for the film. “Our worst review has been three stars, but forevermore in the age of the Internet you read that reaction was mixed in Toronto and it colors people,” Weinstein said. “There’s something in the air and the way to take it out of the air is for the three of us to combat it.” I won’t give away the ending here, but it involves how things are left between a dysfunctional family matriarch (Streep) and the daughter (Roberts) in danger of following in her bitter footsteps. Besides Toronto, there were test screenings and the usual back and forth that resulted in what the three said is the best version of the film, the one they showed this week.

Related: Toronto: Huge Reaction For Oscar-Bait ‘August: Osage County’ – But Will It Divide Audiences? Read More »

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Julia Roberts On Palm Springs Fest Honor List

By | Friday November 22, 2013 @ 6:01am PST

Palm Springs, CA (November 22, 2013) – The 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present Academy Award® winning actress Julia Roberts with the Spotlight Award for August: Osage County at its annual Awards Gala. The Gala

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Britannia Awards: Sacha Baron Cohen Kills – LITERALLY? – And Steals The Show

By | Sunday November 10, 2013 @ 1:52am PST
Pete Hammond

There’s no question about it. Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award For Excellence In Comedy winner Sacha Baron Cohen stole the BAFTA-LA ‘s annual Britannia Awards Saturday night with a comedy routine that had half the packed Beverly Hilton audience roaring and the other half shaking in their Jimmy Choos wondering if he had really just killed an elderly woman in a wheelchair – or was it one of his patented tasteless gags? You can see for yourself when the show airs Sunday night on BBC America but the reaction was so visceral in the room host Rob Brydon had to literally calm down the normally more sedate British crowd. Some clearly thought it was real.

At any rate, the bit made the awards gathering memorable for reasons organizers probably didn’t imagine. One BAFTA exec told me later that they were up until 3 AM just trying to clear all the legalities of Cohen’s acceptance bit which involved presenter Salma Hayek on stage with someone rolled out in a wheelchair she very believably identified as Grace Collington, an actress she said appeared with Charlie Chaplin in 1931′s City Lights at the age of five. “At 87, she’s the oldest surviving actor to have worked with Chaplin in a silent movie,” she told the audience as the woman sat there. When Cohen came up to accept his award from them, “Collington” warmly presented him with one of Chaplin’s famous canes. He then proceeded to push her off the stage and she landed face down, motionless and apparently dead on the ground. “Grace Collington is the oldest, sorry, was the oldest… I dedicate my award to her. It’s obviously a tragedy, but on the bright side what a great way to go. She’ll probably make the Oscars In Memoriam section… Anyway tonight is not about her, it’s about me,” he said as the limp body was carried out of the ballroom to rollicking laughter of the sort you rarely hear at these events. Read More »

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Toronto: Weinstein’s Premiere Marathon Delivers Huge Reaction For Oscar-Bait ‘August: Osage County’ – But Will It Divide Audiences?

Pete Hammond

Just call it Weinstein Premiere-O-Rama. The company launched four movies with splashy galas at the Toronto International Film Festival in the span of 48 hours (is this some sort of weird record?). That included Saturday night’s Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom World Premiere, Sunday’s North American launch of Philomena and last night’s World Premieres of August: Osage County  and One Chance directly against each other. When I saw Harvey Weinstein at the combined Soho House after-party for the Monday films I told him he obviously loves Toronto. He was moving fast between his movies showing up everywhere, including on stage for August before it began. ”Everything came together and we just thought this would be the perfect way to get these films out there,” he said clearly beaming at the reaction.

Related: Toronto: TWC’s Epic ‘Mandela’ Debuts To Standing Ovation

All the films won standing ovations, not uncommon in movie-friendly Toronto (people like getting up on their feet here) but even by those standards the raucous, prolonged standing O for August: Osage County was definitely the most enthusiastic I have encountered at this year’s fest. And the John Wells-directed movie adaptation of actor/writer Tracy Letts’ Tony-winning Midwestern-set Broadway play about a dysfunctional family to end all dysfunctional families played like gangbusters with much audible reaction throughout. Star Meryl Streep was a last-minute cancellation due to illness and co-producer George Clooney (with Grant Heslov) didn’t make the trek to Canada for this film or Gravity in which he co-stars with Sandra Bullock since he was back in L.A. still working on posting his latest directorial gig, Monuments Men as well as shooting Disney’s Tomorrowland. But most of the cast was there including Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper, Julianne Nicholson, Abigail Breslin, Dermot Mulroney and Julia Roberts, clearly the belle of this ball. When I spoke with her afterwards she was definitely on cloud nine over the reaction the film received and obviously excited to be working with this cast and opposite Streep who manages to do the impossible and tops Streep as the bitterly funny, bitingly caustic  mother who lets it rip, particularly in the film’s (and the play’s ) signature dinner scene. Roberts is also at her best and both should be major Oscar contenders in the impossibly crowded lead actress category. This would make nomination #18 for Streep. Could anyone ever top her own record?
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Toronto: 300 Movies To See, But Who Will Get The Biggest Oscar Buzz?

Pete Hammond

The 2013 Toronto Film Festival gets underway in full force later tonight with the world premiere of DreamWorks’ awards hopeful The Fifth Estate from director Bill Condon. The fest will show off approximately 300 films by the time it wraps September 15 with the closing-night film, Life Of CrimeThat movie, up for acquisition, stars Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes and Tim Robbins and has added heat since its selection as the closer. It represents the last movie in which the late author Elmore Leonard, an executive producer, was involved.

Related: ‘Life Of Crime’ Director Laments That Elmore Leonard Won’t Be In Toronto

Among the true world premieres here — films that haven’t already been world premieres in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Sundance or Telluride — the most anticipated outside of the acquisition titles are those mostly sight-unseen movies expected to become major players in the awards race. They include August: Osage Country, which will be unveiled at a starry gala Monday that will include Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts; Ron Howard’s terrific car racing drama Rush, launching Sunday; Dallas Buyers Club with a buzzed-about turn from Matthew McConaughey on Saturday night; Nicole Holofcener’s romantic comedy Enough Said starring Emmy-winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus and repping one of the final films of James Gandolfini, on Saturday afternoon; Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, the story of the young Nelson Mandela with Idris Elba in the lead, early Saturday evening; and David Frankel’s One Chance, a crowd-pleaser about the Britain’s Got Talent winning opera singer Paul Potts that could be a big player in the Golden Globe Musical or Comedy race (see the trailer for that one here). One of its producers is Simon Cowell, and it screens Monday night. And although Spike Jonze’s December entry Her won’t be debuting until it closes the New York Film Festival on October 13, key press will be given a preview of clips along with a conversation with Jonze on Sunday afternoon as Warner Bros tries to put the Amy Adams-Joaquin Phoenix picture into the awards conversation coming out of Toronto.

Related: Analysis: What Toronto Lineup Signals For Oscar Race

As previously noted, several contenders that played Telluride, Venice or Cannes such as All Is Lost, Inside Llewyn Davis and Nebraska  are skipping Toronto altogether in favor of turning up next at NYFF later this month. By the way, Nebraska really popped at Telluride, a consensus favorite there doing even better than it did in Cannes competition. Director Alexander Payne told me he “tinkered” with the film for some time after its Cannes debut to get it to the place he wanted. Obviously he made the right choice. This one looks like it could be a major player at the Oscars — you can just feel it. “People just want a comedy right now, ” explained a modest Payne about the reception it received in the Rockies last week.

Toronto organizers shouldn’t be crying in their soup over pictures they didn’t get. This fest, once known as the Festival of Festivals, is already impossibly overcrowded. It’s like Cannes on steroids with way too much for any one person to see. You have to make Solomon-like choices if you want to cover Toronto in all its glory. I say thank god for Cannes and Telluride as it gives me a head start. Read More »

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Brad Pitt On James Gandolfini, His Co-Star In ‘The Mexican’ And ‘Killing Them Softly’

By | Thursday June 20, 2013 @ 8:30am PDT
Mike Fleming

Brad Pitt, opening this weekend in World War Z, has issued a statement on the passing of James Gandolini at age 51. They starred together, along with Julia Roberts in the Gore Verbinski-directed The Mexican, a movie that came along … Read More »

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Julia Roberts & Mark Ruffalo To Star In HBO Movie ‘The Normal Heart’, Ryan Murphy To Direct

By | Friday January 4, 2013 @ 2:09pm PST

Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

HBO announced this afternoon at TCA that it has greenlighted The Normal Heart, an original movie adaptation of the Tony-winning Larry Kramer play that will star Julia Roberts and … Read More »

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Julia Roberts To Produce Paranormal Investigation Drama For Lifetime

By | Friday November 16, 2012 @ 12:59pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: This past summer, Lifetime picked up Devious Maids, Marc Cherry’s follow-up to Desperate Housewives. Now the cable network has added to its development slate Paranormal Housewives, a light drama executive produced by Julia Roberts, her longtime collaborator Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas as well as Robyn Meisinger of Madhouse Entertainment. Written/exec produced by Miss Congeniality scribe Katie Ford, it is about an all-female group of paranormal investigators who call themselves The Paranormal Housewives. The show is inspired by the real Paranormal Housewives, a Southern California group of female professional paranormal investigators. It was launched in 2010 by Erin Potter and her friends Kirsten Thorne and Marsha Covert-Garcia in part as a response to their field being dominated by male investigators. Read More »

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Abigail Breslin Heading To ‘August: Osage County’

EXCLUSIVE: Abigail Breslin is set to be Julia Roberts’ daughter in August: Osage County. The Oscar nominee will play Jean Fordham, the 14-year old angry and acerbic pot smoking child of Roberts’ Barbara character in the … Read More »

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Oscar Winning Actresses Roberts, Theron, Jolie, Weisz Turn Evil To Boost Boxoffice Fortunes

Pete Hammond

Mirror Mirror may not have burned up the box office in its opening weekend. Its estimated $19 million made the family film a distant and weak third, but that won’t stop a trend among Oscar winning actresses from going evil. Not since … Read More »

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‘Hunger Games’ Passing $250M Domestic For #1 Again, #2 ‘Wrath Of The Titans’ Can’t Beat Original, #3 ‘Mirror Mirror’ Disappoints

March 30-April 1 Weekend Actuals

1. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) Week 2 [4,137 Theaters] PG13
Friday $18.7M, Saturday $24.7M, Sunday $15.2M, Weekend $58.6M (-62%), Cume $248.5M

2. Wrath Of The Titans 3D (Legendary/Warner) NEW [3,545 Theaters] PG13
Friday $12.3M, Saturday $12.7M, Sunday $8.4M, Weekend $33.5M

3. Mirror Mirror (Relativity) NEW [3,603 Theaters] PG
Friday $5.8M, Saturday $7.6M, Sunday $4.7M, Weekend $18.1M

4. 21 Jump Street (MGM/Sony) Week 3 [3,148 Theaters] R
Friday $4.6M, Saturday $6.3M, Sunday $4.0M, Weekend $14.8M (-28%), Cume $92.9M

5. Dr Seuss’ The Lorax 3D (Universal) Week 5 [3,264 Theaters] PG
Friday $2.1M, Saturday $3.5M, Sunday $2.2M, Weekend $7.8M (-41%), Cume $189.3M

6. John Carter 3D (Disney) Week 4 [2,397 Theaters] PG13
Friday $544K, Saturday $892K, Sunday $593K, Weekend $2.0M (-60%), Cume $66.2M

7. Salmon Fishing in Yemen (CBS) Week 4 [483 Theaters] PG13
Friday $345K, Saturday $592K, Sunday $336K, Weekend $1.3M (+81%), Cume $3.2M

8. Act Of Valor (Relativity) Week 6 [1,239 Theaters] R
Friday $291K, Saturday $445K, Sunday $266K Weekend $1.0M (-51%), Cume $67.7M

9. A Thousand Words (Dworks/Par) Week 4 [1,007 Theaters] PG13
Friday $241K, Saturday $428K, Sunday $233K, Weekend $903K, Cume $16.5M

10. Journey 2 (Warner Bros) Week 8 [908 Theaters] PG
Friday $215K, Saturday $361K, Sunday $234K, Weekend $810K, Cume $98.4M

SUNDAY AM, 8TH UPDATE: It’s another huge Wrath Of The Titans Box Officeweekend for the North American box office with $150M, or +25% from last year. Lionsgate’s humongous holdover The Hunger Games won the weekend domestically and nearly internationally again despite two new major releases opening against it. Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures’ 3D action fantasy sequel Wrath Of The Titans failed to come close to the original’s grosses, while Relativity Media’s Snow White comedy Mirror Mirror failed to lure families. Both received ‘B+’ CinemaScores from audiences even if critics were at best lukewarm. Meanwhile, we now know how low Disney’s $200M writeoff John Carter will go: it will be lucky to reach $70M domestic. Starting its 4th weekend in release, this disaster is already discounted at Valley Plaza 6 in Van Nuys for $2 before 6 PM and $3 after.

This weekend’s Top 5 films (rest of Top 10 below)

1. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) Week 2 [4,137 Theaters] PG13-Rated
Friday $18.8M, Saturday $26.2M, Weekend $61.1M (-60%), Cume $251.0M

2. Wrath Of The Titans 3D (Legendary/Warner) NEW [3,545 Theaters] PG13-Rated
Friday $12.4M, Saturday $13M, Weekend $34.6M

3. Mirror Mirror (Relativity) NEW [3,603 Theaters] PG-Rated
Friday $5.8M, Saturday $7.9M, Weekend $19.3M

4. 21 Jump Street (MGM/Sony) Week 3 [3,148 Theaters] R-rated
Friday $4.6M, Saturday $6.2M, Weekend $14.8M, Cume $92.8M

5. Dr Seuss’ The Lorax 3D (Universal) Week 5 [3,264 Theaters] PG-rated
Friday $2.0M, Saturday $3.7M, Weekend $8.3M, Cume $189.8M

The Hunger Games passed $200M Friday and $250M by weekend’s end. Even more impressive is that the actioner is currently the #1 movie and #1 book and #1 album in America. (The studio just cut an online-only spot with those trifecta bragging rights.) Pic played in the same 4,137 locations this weekend but with a lower screen count because of the end to its limited one-week engagement on all IMAX screens. The film held extremely well during the week, with a record breaking Monday of $10.8M. Second wave promotion exploited this second weekend’s adult curiosity about the movie. Heck, even GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney went to see Hunger Games with his family. “From Presidential candidates to talk show hosts, it seemed everyone was talking about the film publicly,” studio boasts to me.

Though Wrath Of The Titans certainly looked better than 2010′s Clash Of The Titans whose retrofitted 3D was deemed sub-par, its critical reviews fared far worse — only 25% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. Its projected weekend gross (including $1M from 1,490 domestic midnight screenings) was in line with studio expectations. But that’s still far short of the original’s $61.2M opening weekend. Then again the original made 2/3s of its money overseas ($332M of the total $495M cume) and this sequel should, too, to justify its $150M bloated cost. The PG-13 pic released day and date as a worldwide event in 60 territories and on approximately 13,900 screens (9,766 3D and 175 IMAX) in all major markets with the exception of Japan. “We’re off to a great start, with $18M on Friday for a progressive cume to date of $25M internationally,” Warner Bros tells me. In Mexico and Brazil, for instance, Wrath Of The Titans was ranked a strong #1 ahead of The Hunger Games.

In the U.S. and Canada, actioner debuts in 3,545 locations with 2,900 3D locations, 4,400 3D screens, and 290 IMAX locations. As expected, there’s very strong male support both young and older but the sequel’s marketing around “Feel The Wrath” didn’t have the campy coolness quotient of the original’s “Release The Kraken” campaign featuring Liam Neeson. And Avatar‘s Sam Worthington has proven he isn’t a box office draw. (Remember, he failed to open Man On A Ledge.)

Warner Bros positioned Wrath Of The Titans to target younger and older males including ethnic audiences with “an aggressive approach that sold the intensity of the action and the spectacular creature battles, all with great visuals and compelling music,” an exec tells me. Clearly March as a whole, and this pre-Easter weekend in particular, is now as competitive as summer or holiday periods for sizable event films despite distractions like the NCAA Final Four. The studio’s marketing strategy relied on an aggressive TV schedule and online content combined with more compelling 3D. After Jonathan Liebesman replaced Louis Leterrier as director on the 2nd installment, the sequel was supposed to be shot in 3D. But then Liebesman announced that Wrath of the Titans would be converted rather than shot in 3D even though that had been a big bone of contention with fans of the original. To reduce skepticism, Liebesman reminded that the first film Clash Of The Titans had been shot and edited as a 2D film and then converted to 3D just a few weeks before release. Whereas Wrath was conceived in 3D from the start right through editing. Even the most contrary reviews say the film is much better-looking than the original thanks to Prime Focus World, which did the original 3D as well as the sequel’s. Reception to story was decidedly mixed. Screenplay credit went to Dan Mazeau and David Johnson who also received story credit with Greg Berlanti.

As for Mirror Mirror, its $85M cost was piggybacked by a very expensive full-frills TV ad campaign that didn’t justify its disappointing $19M domestic debut. That number was below even the studio’s lowball expectations. As usual, Relativity claims its actual exposure on the film was far less — “just under $30M” — after foreign pre-sales, Montreal tax incentives, and its Netflix deal. On the other hand, Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh is newly beholden to investors like savvy Ron Burkle who may not be as patient with razor-thin profit margins as Elliott Associates once was. One thing is certain: Mirror Mirror is the opposite of the “Hail Mary” blockbuster which Kavanaugh hoped it would be to dig Relativity out of its financial mess. I’m not sure how director Tarsem Singh justifies a career trajectory that starts out with visually arresting The Cell and The Fall, continues through Immortals, and ends up here. Or why star Julia Roberts banked her cold career comeback on this hot mess. What the movie does is audaciously play the Brothers Grimm story for lame laughs. It’s 180 degrees different from Universal’s much anticipated Snow White & The Huntsman adult swordfest releasing June 1st though the two projects were developed at the same time. But Mirror Mirror‘s target audience is kids ages 6-12 and their parents. Now the studio hopes that, with schools out next week and the week after for Easter vacation, its pic won’t be played out this weekend. Overseas, the film has already opened in a dozen territories and this weekend debuted day and date in a dozen more.

Marketing-wise, Relativity partnered with Bloomspot, a leader in the local offer space, to launch on March 24th a first-ever promotional screening program for the member base in 11 U.S. markets: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC. Relativity also initiated promotions in the top 50 markets. Key digital initiatives included Annoying Orange (You Tuber), Social Queen video, parent blogging, a Snow Spell featurette on ParentsConnect.com, integrated gaming expériences on top sites targeting children like Poptropica.com, Nick.com, GirlsGoGames.com, Webkinz.com, as well as mobile apps targeted to young girls. Relativity Music Group released the original motion picture soundtrack for Mirror Mirror on March 27th and included an original score by 8-time Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, along with two new versions of the reworked Nina Hart song “I Believe in Love” performed by the film’s Lily Collins (The Blind Side) that plays over the end credits. Credits on the screen story go to Melisa Wallack and the screenplay to Marc Klein and Jason Keller.

In other box office news, the CBS Films pickup, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, cracked the Top Ten for the first time while playing in just 483 locations. Studio stresses that the film performed much better than other current and recent platform expansions at this level. “The most interesting data point is that holdover theaters (124 existing locations) were down only 18% from last week. In fact, just like last weekend, several of the top twenty runs were actually up from the previous Friday.” CBS Films will keep rolling out the pic in the weeks ahead to see how long the Salmon can run…

Here is the rest of the Top Ten with numbers refining later Sunday morning: Read More »

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Meryl Streep And Julia Roberts Cast In ‘August: Osage County’

By | Wednesday February 15, 2012 @ 6:13pm PST

Meryl Streep has been cast as pill-popping matriarch Violet Weston, and Julia Roberts will play her complicated adult daughter Barbara in August: Osage County, based on … Read More »

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