EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures is eyeing Kick-Ass star Aaron-Taylor Johnson to star in Godzilla, the Gareth Edwards-directed reboot of the franchise based on the iconic Japanese reptile. I’m told that Johnson, who starred in the Oliver Stone-directed Savages and Anna Karenina and followed by reprising in Kick-Ass 2: Balls To The Wall is the frontrunner for the job. He won’t make a final decision on whether or not to take the offer until he sees the final polish that Frank Darabont is writing based on the Max Borenstein script.
Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni are taking the creative lead on this project — they just put Mary Parent on after she became a producer of Pacific Rim — and Warner Bros is distributing everywhere except for Japan. There, rightsholders Toho will handle the release. While there has obviously been a legal dust-up in the producing ranks, the film is still on course to begin production in March, with the film dated for a May 16, 2014 release. If he takes the gig, Johnson could well have a second franchise, not at all a bad thing for a young actor. He’s repped by WME and Brillstein, and Christian Hodell in the UK.
Luke Y. Thompson contributes to Deadline’s coverage of Comic-Con. This year’s event runs July 12-15.
For all the claims that Comic-Con turned a movie into a hit, an equal number of pundits can argue otherwise. The fact is, it’s impossible to argue Comic-Con is the sole driving factor behind any successful movie. It’s more like the equivalent of a Republican presidential candidate speaking at Bob Jones University or the Democratic candidate speaking at the AFL-CIO: it may not guarantee a win, but you gotta fire up the base. On the other hand, one generally can say that if a presentation bombs at Comic-Con, the movie will have trouble ahead. For example, there’s last year’s still-unreleased Dorothy Of Oz, which attempted to coast on Patrick Stewart’s laurels (last year’s gay-sex proposal to him from a fan remains the best example to date of an audience questioner slipping through the screening process), and the animated feature 9, which used an already-overplayed trailer to try and excite fans who already had seen it many times.
Related: Quentin Tarantino, ‘Iron Man 3′, ‘The Hobbit’, ‘Pacific Rim’ Juice Comic-Con Saturday Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is in talks to make Kick-Ass 2, with Jeff Wadlow directing his script. I’m told the intention is to get the film in production by August. Discussions are just getting underway with such original castmembers as Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and they will have to be signed to new deals to reprise their roles. The raucous 2010 film was directed by Matthew Vaughn; it was made for $28 million and grossed $48.1 million domestic and $103 million worldwide. The original was released by Lionsgate but became a free ball controlled by Vaughn. He can’t direct the sequel because of his commitments to his X-Men: First Class follow-up, but he is backing it and is fully supportive of handing over the reins. Wadlow, who wrote and directed 2005′s Cry Wolf, wrote the Kick-Ass 2 script for Vaughn, and it has already come before Universal’s green-light committee. I expect a deal to be closed shortly. Wadlow is repped by WME.
The funniest line in the release? Lionsgate was profitable in its fiscal first quarter in part due to “decreased costs associated with shareholder activism” — an obvious reference to billionaire Carl Icahn’s run at the studio last year. Lionsgate swung to a $12.2M profit from a $64.1M loss in the same quarter last year on revenues of $261.3M, down 20%. The earnings, at 9 cents a share, may startle analysts who were expecting a 7 cent loss. Lionsgate says that cable channel EPIX delivered a $4.8M profit this time vs a $12M loss last year. That compensated for Lionsgate’s share of the increased loss at TV Guide Network. The venture, which it co-owns with JP Morgan Chase’s One Equity Partners, lost $8.2M, up 23.8%, while revenues there fell 2.7% to $28.3M. But company watchers also likely will wonder why revenues fell short of the nearly $320M they expected. Lionsgate says it’s just a timing issue — many of its movies are out in the current quarter, not the last one. It had just one wide theatrical release in FY 1Q, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family while in the same period last year there were three, Kick Ass, Killers, and Why Did I Get Married Too. Lionsgate will talk to analysts tomorrow.
Comedy Central and MTV networks just announced the nominations for their inaugural Comedy Awards, which will air on April 10. The nominations span 15 categories in TV and film, including best comedy series and film. The best comedy series field includes awards favorites 30 Rock, The Office and Modern Family, along with largely overlooked off-beat comedies It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Eastbound & Down. 30 Rock leads the TV categories with seven noms. The film field is led by Easy A, Cyrus and Kick-Ass with four noms each, including best movie where they will face Get Him to the Greek and The Other Guys. Read More »
The King’s Speech scored eight British Independent Film Award nominations, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and two Best Supporting Actor nominations. The other nominees for Best Film include Four Lions, Kick-Ass, Monsters and Never Let Me Go. In the acting categories, Jim Broadbent (Another Year), Riz Ahmed (Four Lions), Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), Scoot McNairy (Monsters) and Aidan Gillen (Treacle Junior) received nominations. The Best Actress race is between Manjinder Virk (The Arbor), Ruth Sheen (Another Year), Andrea Riseborough (Brighton Rock), Sally Hawkins (Made in Dagenham) and Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go). Winners will be announced on December 5th. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival will present Annette Bening with the American Riviera Award. She’ll be honored at the Arlington Theatre on January 28.
Lionsgate has recommended to shareholders that they spurn Carl Icahn’s latest offer to pay $7.50 for outstanding shares. The company just filed its Schedule 14D-9 Report. The report described a September 7 meeting of the board of directors, which unanimously rejected the offer and voted to recommend that shareholders do the same. The reasons included strings that Icahn attached to the offer, but also that Lionsgate management feels confident about recent momentum it has built with recent releases The Expendables and The Last Exorcism, both of which performed well in late August. The company also cited the surprising resilience of the film Kick-Ass, which has grossed $50 million domestic and $100 million worldwide and which just topped the DVD sales charts. Lionsgate also cited a record 26 Emmy nominations, including wins for Mad Men and Nurse Jackie, as reasons to feel bullish on the TV side. Not in the report was the week long meetings held by Lionsgate brass with directors for The Hunger Games, the first in a series of three Suzanne Collins novels that have the potential to be a game-changer for the indie, much the way that Twilight was for Summit Entertainment.
Icahn recently raised his share offer to its highest, after a starting bid of $6.50, which climbed to $7. The stock closed slightly down, at $7.14 per share.
EXCLUSIVE: Screenwriter Jane Goldman has signed with WME. The British scribe is best known for teaming with director Matthew Vaughn to write Stardust and Kick-Ass. They are now scribbling away on X-Men: First Class as Vaughn heads to the starting gate. They also scripted The Debt, the John Madden-directed drama that was just accepted into the Toronto Film Festival. Separately, she adapted the Susan Hill novel The Woman in Black, which James Watkins will direct this fall with Daniel Radcliffe starring. Goldman, who has an incredible track record for seeing her penned projects make it into production, continues to be repped in the UK by Independent. This is the first time she has had a Hollywood agent. WME also reps Vaughn.