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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 the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by Tracy Letts. Deadline first reported the pairing on the project in 2010. John Wells (Shameless) will direct. August is a dark and humorous story of the of the Weston family women. The strong-willed characters’ lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. The Weinstein Company’s Harvey and Bob Weinstein made the announcement Wednesday about the project that will begin filming this fall. Commented Roberts, “After seeing Meryl Streep’s mesmerizing portrayal as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, it has me even more excited and proud to co star with her.” Streep recently received a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. She picked up a BAFTA and a Golden Globe Award for her performance in the film also in release by TWC.

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Hot Trailer: Relativity’s ‘Mirror Mirror’

Last week we got a glimpse of Universal’s Snow White And The Huntsman directed by Rupert Sanders. The first trailer for Tarsem Singh’s take on the fairy tale arrived today. Relativity’s Mirror Mirror will make it to theaters March 16 ahead of Universal’s version set for June 1.

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Relativity Titles Its Snow White Film ‘Mirror Mirror’

Mike Fleming

Relativity Media’s Snow White movie now has a title. Mirror Mirror, described as a comedy action adventure that stars Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane and Sean Bean, will be released March 16, 2012. That puts it well ahead of Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman, which opens June 1 and looks more like The Lord of the Rings than a light fairy tale.

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Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas Returns To Rep Biz As Manager/Producer At 3 Arts

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas is joining 3 Arts as a manager/producer, returning to the rep business after 11 years. Once a high-powered dealmaker at ICM best known for guiding Julia Roberts from unknown to $20 million a picture as the world’s biggest female star, Goldsmith-Thomas left ICM in 2000 to run Revolution Studios East for Joe Roth and supervise films under Roberts’ production deal there. She has been a full-time producer since Revolution folded. An agent for more than 15 years at WMA and ICM, Goldsmith-Thomas also repped Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Connelly, Madonna and Darren Star.

The obvious question is whether she will be rejoined by Roberts, who went to CAA not long after Goldsmith-Thomas left. Goldsmith-Thomas said she comes to 3 Arts without any clients. While producing, she continued to give career advice when asked, but referred talent to agencies and management companies for years even as people asked why she wasn’t building a client list. She decided months ago to explore a return but was reticent to resurface as an agent. It would be hard returning to a job she left behind, and she never liked the poaching part of that game. She also didn’t want to give up producing, which agents can’t do. After meeting with 3 Arts’ Erwin Stoff, Goldsmith-Thomas felt she’d found the right fit. She will operate out of the management/production company’s New York base, where Richard Abate manages authors and runs the book department and Avi Gilbert manages stand-up comics.

“I’ve always loved the architecture of careers, and I missed working with colleagues in breaking down walls that have gotten thicker,” Goldsmith-Thomas told me. “I think it’s a mistake when people try to re-create the same career they had. I love what I’m doing now, and I see this as a complement.” Read More »

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Julia Roberts-Ryan Reynolds Family Drama ‘Fireflies’ Will Finally Have U.S. Bow

By | Thursday August 25, 2011 @ 9:13pm PDT

UPDATE: The feature film Fireflies in the Garden was shot in 2007 and had been languishing. But today producers Vanessa Coifman, Marco Weber, and Sukee Chew said they’ll finally release the film domestically. Written and directed by Dennis Lee, the semi-autobiographical R-rated Fireflies will be shown on Oct. 14 in New York, LA, Chicago, and San Francisco. No name of the distributor, however. The film initially bowed at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2008 from Senator Entertainment and was released in a handful of foreign territories. But with stars like Julia Roberts and Ryan Reynolds joining Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson, and Carrie-Anne Moss, the producers obviously are hoping it will find a U.S. audience.

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Does 8 Years Of $100 Million WW Grossing Films Put Jennifer Aniston In Elite Company?

Mike Fleming

When Horrible Bosses passed the $100 million worldwide gross mark recently, it became the eighth film in the last eight years to hit that milestone with Jennifer Aniston in a starring role. Right now, only a few actresses mean much at the box office, a list that includes Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon and Katherine Heigl. Has Aniston quietly joined that group?

While Aniston hasn’t had to carry all of those films, her worldwide gross track record compares favorably to the other actresses over the same eight-year period. Aside from Horrible Bosses, Just Go With It, The Bounty Hunter, He’s Just Not That Into You, Marley & Me, The Break-Up, Along Came Polly and Bruce Almighty all passed the $100 million mark worldwide. Over the same corresponding period, only Jolie had that many cross the $100 million WW mark. I didn’t count animated films, but for Jolie I did include Beowulf, because she gave a performance that was converted to performance capture format. Jolie’s other films that passed $100 million worldwide in the last eight years: The Tourist, Salt, Wanted, Changeling, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Alexander, and the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider sequel.

Roberts had six films cross $100 million worldwide in the last eight years: Eat Pray Love, Valentine’s Day, Charlie Wilson’s War, Ocean’s 12, Closer and Mona Lisa Smile. Earlier in her career, her films routinely became blockbusters, when she was clearly Hollywood’s top actress.

Streep, who’s in her 60s, has become as bankable as any female star this side of Jolie. She has had five films cross $100 million in worldwide grosses in the last eight years: It’s Complicated, Julie & Julia, Mamma Mia!, The Devil Wears Prada and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Bullock has had four films cross $100 million WW in the last eight years: The Blind Side, The Proposal, The Lake House, and Miss Congeniality 2.

Witherspoon had five films cross that mark in the last eight years: Water for Elephants, Four Christmases, Just Like Heaven, Walk the Line and Legally Blonde 2.

Heigl had four of her films cross $100 million worldwide, all since her movie career was launched by 2007′s Knocked Up. Since that movie crossed $100 million WW, 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth and Life As We Know It also passed the mark, and Killers barely missed. Read More »

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Comic-Con Photo: Lily Collins as Snow White

By | Friday July 22, 2011 @ 1:24pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Here is a first look at Lily Collins in the untitled Snow White film that Relativity Media has mounted for March 16, 2012 release, with Julia Roberts and Armie Hammer also starring for director Tarsem Singh. That puts Relativity Media in the lead against the rival Snow White and The Hunstman, which stars Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth.

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Hossein Amini Doing Rewrite On ‘Snow White And The Huntsman’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Bracing for its race against Relativity Media on rival Snow White films, Universal Pictures has hired Hossein Amini to do a rewrite of Snow White and the Huntsman, the Rupert Sanders-directed film that stars Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth. Evan Spiliotopoulos wrote the most recent draft. Amini scripted Drive, the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed film that just debuted in Cannes, and he also rewrote the Keanu Reeves-starrer 47 Ronin, which director Carl Rinsch is directing for Universal.

Universal and Relativity have been playing a game of can you top this in terms of release dates. Universal moved up its Snow White film from late 2012 to a June 1 date, which put it a month ahead of Relativity’s Snow White film, the one that stars Julia Roberts, Lily Collins and Armie Hammer, with Tarsem Singh directing. Then, Relativity Media trumped Universal by setting a March 16, 2012 release. It has created bad blood between the studio and Ryan Kavanaugh, but that is how it stands at the moment. Hossein is repped by WME.

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Hot Twitter Trailer: ‘Larry Crowne’

By | Friday June 10, 2011 @ 12:07pm PDT
Mike Fleming

On his Twitter account, Tom Hanks just debuted Employee Of The Month, a new trailer for Larry Crowne, the film he co-wrote, directed and starred in with Julia Roberts. Universal releases it July 1. It’s only the second feature Hanks has directed, after making his debut on 1996′s That Thing You Do! That film was so charming that I’m eager to see what Hanks has come up with here. Studio sez that though the trailer was called Employee of the Month, the movie will be released as Larry Crowne.

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Relativity Moves Snow White To March 16, Three Months Before Universal Rival

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Relativity Media has struck back in the ongoing competition of Snow White movies. Ryan Kavanaugh’s film shingle has pushed up its untitled Snow White project to March 16, 2012, from June 29. This comes days after Universal moved Snow White and the Huntsman up six months to June 1. I’m not sure that Uni can push forward any further. After all, you have to make the movie before you can release it. Relativity’s movie has Tarsem Singh directing Julia Roberts, Lily Collins and Armie Hammer, while Universal has Rupert Sanders directing Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth. Will both of these pictures actually make it into production under such high stakes? It sure looks that way. The one saving grace is that Universal’s film has a darker Alice in Wonderland tone, while Relativity’s seems to be an unabashed family film.

This is just one of three pictures that Relativity has dated in moves that seem to be geared directly toward this competition against Universal, the studio with which Kavanaugh had a long slate-financing relationship. Read More »

Comments 55

Snow White Battle Intensifies As Universal Moves Its Pic One Month Before Relativity Rival

Mike Fleming

BREAKING:Since neither Universal Pictures nor Relativity Media are blinking about going ahead with rival Snow White films, it seemed inevitable that Universal would not be content for its film to come out six months later. So the studio has just swapped release dates of Judd Apatow’s next untitled film (which was supposed to come out June 1), and has given that June 1, 2012 date to Snow White and the Huntsman. At present, Relativity Media’s film, The Brothers Grimm: Snow White, is dated for June 29, 2012 with shooting to begin in August. We’ll have to see whether Ryan Kavanaugh’s film division reconsiders. That Tarsem Singh-directed film stars Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer and Nathan Lane. The lesson of rival films about Truman Capote and In Cold Blood echoes loudly here. Capote came out first, won an Oscar for Philip Seymour Hoffman, and nobody cared when Infamous came out later. Being the second film on the same subject is perilous and when that prospect faced Baz Luhrmann and Dino De Laurentiis on their Alexander the Great movie because Oliver Stone beat them to the start gate, the project was scrapped.

Universal’s decision comes days after the studio finally set Thor star Chris Hemsworth as its Huntsman, which Deadline was the first to reveal would happen. He joins Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron and Sam Claflin in the Rupert Sanders-directed film. Apatow (who must be strutting after Bridesmaids defied expectations last … Read More »

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‘True Grit’ Teen Hailee Steinfeld Attached To ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Spec Script

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: True Grit star Hailee Steinfeld is attached to Sleeping Beauty, a spec package that is going out to buyers as we speak. Screenwriter Lindsay Devlin has written a revisionist take on the fairy tale that will give Steinfeld a lot more to do than nap while waiting for a charming prince’s peck to awaken her from a witch’s curse. The new version is told from her point of view as she enters the dream world and has to find her way out.

Hollywood has been absolutely smitten with fairy tales since the billion dollar grosser Alice in Wonderland. There is already a version of Sleeping Beauty at Disney called Maleficent, which is being scripted by Linda Woolverton, with Tim Burton attached and rumors that Angelina Jolie coveted for the title role of the witch. There is also Snow White and the Hunstman at Universal with Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron, and The Brothers Grimm: Snow White at Relativity with Julia Roberts and Armie Hammer; Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters at Paramount with Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton; a revisionist take on Peter Pan with Channing Tatum at Sony Pictures; and Disney’s Oz: The Great and Powerful, the Sam Raimi-directed film that will star James Franco.

The 14-year old Steinfeld was such a revelation in her Oscar-nominated True Grit turn that I’d be surprised if the Sleeping Beauty spec slumbers long. Her reps at ICM and the writers reps at APA are … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Larry Crowne’

By | Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 2:58pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Universal Pictures has released a new trailer for Larry Crowne. Tom Hanks directed, co-wrote and produced, and he re-teams with Charlie Wilson’s War co-star Julia Roberts. Hanks plays a middle-aged guy who tries to reinvent himself by going back to college. The film opens July 1.

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TOLDJA! Kristen Stewart Closing ‘Snow White’ Deal

Mike Fleming

Deadline was first to tell you in January that despite Universal Pictures’ testing of young actresses, Twilight Saga’s Kristen Stewart had materialized as a likely candidate to play the lead role in  the Rupert Sanders-directed Snow White and the Hunstman. Now, Palek Patel, who’s producing with Joe Roth, has tweeted that she’s in final negotiations to star with Charlize Theron and Viggo Mortensen in the rebooted fairy tale that’s going head to head with Relativity Media’s The Brothers Grimm: Snow White, which will star Julia Roberts. Gersh-repped  Stewart will complete production on the final Twilight installment at the end of April, and will shoot Snow White in August.

Comments 118

James Franco Closing Disney Deal For ‘Oz: The Great And Powerful’

Mike Fleming

While James Franco and Anne Hathaway have been busy pulling it together to host Sunday’s Oscarcast, Franco’s CAA reps and Disney have closed his deal to play the title role in Oz: The Great and Powerful. That puts the film on track to begin production in July, with Franco reuniting with his Spider-Man director Sam Raimi in the prequel to the L. Frank Baum novel that was scripted by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire. Joe Roth is producing.

There had been much discussion around town lately about Disney’s gyrations in trying to pare the budget of the film down to a mere $200 million, but they must have figured it out if they locked in Franco. For Franco, the multi-tasking marvel’s dance card for 2011 now looks like this: he’ll first star in the Noah Baumbach-directed While We’re Young, and then will shoot Oz. That brings him to the late fall/winter, when he’ll star in Sweet Bird of Youth, the David Cromer-directed revival of the Tennessee Williams play that will be produced by Scott Rudin. Kidman will play Alexandra Del Lago, the aging voracious movie star, while Franco will play her gigolo paramour Chance Wayne. While Franco has starred in eclectic indies and is even a recurring soap opera star, he has event film experience from the Spider-Man films with Raimi, and stars this fall in Fox’s Planet of the Apes prequel Rise of the Apes. Still, this is a … Read More »

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‘Glee’s Ryan Murphy Courted To Direct ‘Annie’ With Willow Smith

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Glee creator Ryan Murphy is Sony Pictures’ top choice to direct a re-imagining of the Broadway musical Annie, with Willow Smith playing the lovable orphan. The project was recently set at Sony Pictures by Overbrook Entertainment partners James Lassiter, Ken Stovitz, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith in the joint venture they formed with Jay-Z  to generate films. Sony Pictures has made the approach to Murphy, but it’s early days.

Though Willow Smith is a relative newcomer to  the screen (she has I Am Legend and Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl on her resume), she scored a hit record with Whip My Hair!, and Sony’s bet on her brother Jaden in the Overbrook-produced Karate Kid remake resulted in a big hit. Murphy is also well regarded at Sony, where he directed Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts and made a $5 million … Read More »

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Update: Relativity Confirms Julia Roberts In Snow White Pic

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Relativity confirmed they’ve signed Julia Roberts, and have set a June 29, 2012 release date. That puts The Brothers Grimm: Snow White six months ahead of the preliminary release plan for Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman. Relativity Media’s press release is at bottom of the story.

EARLIER 9:33 AM: Deadline revealed late last year that Julia Roberts was being courted by Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media to play the Evil Queen in the Tarsem Singh-directed The Brothers Grimm: Snow White. I’m told that the deal will close within two hours, with the talks basically down to “whether Julia gets a Town Car or an SUV.”

Committing to Roberts means that neither Relativity Media or Universal Pictures is blinking on the race to mount rival Snow White pictures for 2012 release. Universal has set a December 21, 2012 release date for the Rupert Sanders-directed Snow White and the Huntsman, which has come together strongly with Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen playing the title characters, and Charlize Theron playing the Evil Queen. Usually, rival picture races end when one project either lands a big star or makes it into production first. That’s happened on such films as the Oliver Stone-directed Alexander, which ended the Alexander the Great film Baz Luhrmann was prepping with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Relativity Media might get into production before Universal’s planned summer start, with pre-production underway and shooting to begin possibly as soon as next month, insiders said. … Read More »

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Famke Janssen Bewitches ‘Hansel & Gretel’

Mike Fleming

Big day for casting female fairy tale villains. Famke Janssen will play the leader of the witches in the Tommy Wirkola-directed Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters at Paramount Pictures. She joins Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the title characters who, 15 years after their narrow fairy tale escape from the gingerbread house, become specialized bounty-hunters looking to take down the witches that almost killed them. Janssen takes the job the same day that Julia Roberts closed to play the Evil Queen in Relativity Media’s The Brothers Grimm: Snow White. Gary Sanchez is producing the witch project. Janssen just wrapped her scripting/directing debut on Bringing Up Bobby. She’s repped by CAA and Brookside Artists.

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