You got to give lawyer Marc Toberoff points for perseverance. Just under three weeks after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals handed Warner Bros its seemingly final significant piece of the Superman copyright pie, the lawyer for the Man from Krypton co-creator’s heirs now wants a rehearing of the November 21 opinion by either the panel itself or the full court. “The Opinion warrants rehearing or rehearing en banc because it contravenes Congress’ clear objectives, and this Court’s carefully-circumscribed decisions,” says the 43-page petition (read it here) filed Tuesday, citing the 1976 Copyright Act. Last month’s 2-1 opinion reaffirmed a District Court decision supporting DC Comics and its corporate parent WB’s position that Mark Peary of Joe Shuster’s estate couldn’t file a copyright termination notice in 2003. WB claimed that a 1992 agreement with Shuster’s siblings, in which they were to be compensated $25,000 a year for life, already delivered all their Superman rights to the company. Leaning heavily on dissenting Judge Sidney Runyan Thomas’s opinion, Toberoff and fellow attorney Keith G. Adams say it isn’t that simple.
Looks like Warner Bros is finally free of the last copyright Kryptonite plaguing its ownership of Superman. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today handed the studio another legal win in its battle with the estates of the Man of Steel’s co-creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster – and the court did it with some degree of humor. “In this appeal, we address another chapter in the long-running saga regarding the ownership of copyrights in Superman — a story almost as old as the Man of Steel himself,” said the court’s memorandum today (read it here) reaffirming an earlier ruling for WB by district Judge Otis Wright III. ”We are obviously very pleased with the court’s decision,” said a WB spokesperson in an understatement today. The Appeals Court decision was 2-1, with Judges Stephen Reinhardt and John Sedwick in the majority and Judge Sidney Runyan Thomas dissenting. The 9th Circuit also makes a point of admonishing the estates and their lawyer Marc Toberoff for playing hide and seek with certain facts. The attorney was additionally involved in pursuing an effort with the heirs to create new Superman pics and properties via his Pacific Pictures company if the rights were secured back from WB. “We note that their failure (and that of Toberoff, their attorney and business partner) to disclose this information in the 2003 notice of termination itself appears to violate the relevant regulations governing notices of termination,” the ruling says.
While not holding up this summer’s Man Of Steel blockbuster or seriously threatening any such sequels, today’s decision removes any final hindrance the studio could have faced in further Superman or Superboy properties. On the other hand, this particular decision has been a long time coming as the appeal was argued in Pasadena on May 23 of this year.
EXCLUSIVE: After being involved in just about all of Warner Bros‘ successful efforts in translating DC Comics characters to film, David S. Goyer has been staked by the studio to a three-year first-look deal for his Phantom Four banner. The deal gets underway with an untitled Hitchockian thriller with a grounded sci-fi element that Doug Jung is writing as a potential directing vehicle for Goyer. He will produce it and his Phantom Four production president Nellie Stevens-Reed will be executive producer, and Jon Berg is overseeing for the studio. Jung scripted two projects for Paramount: Antwerp for Bad Robot and Circle Of Confusion to produce, and The Last Duel, which has Martin Scorsese attached to direct and Kevin Misher producing.
Related: ‘Man Of Steel’ Sequel Underway
Studio producing deals are hard to come by these days, but it makes good sense for Warner Bros to want Goyer close by. He most recently scripted the studio’s Superman reboot Man Of Steel, which grossed $665 million worldwide, and he is well into writing the Batman Vs. Superman follow-up that Zack Snyder will direct with Ben Affleck playing the Caped Crusader and Henry Cavill reprising. Before that, he collaborated with Christopher Nolan on The Dark Knight trilogy, with the trio of pictures grossing close to $2.5 billion worldwide. Goyer separately hatched Da Vinci’s Demons, the Starz series on which he serves as creator, writer, director and executive producer. That series, which focuses on the complex life of Leonardo Di Vinci, premiered in April.
Steven Spielberg’s Cannes Jury Duty Leads DreamWorks To Remake Deal On ‘Like Father, Like Son’
By Mike Fleming Jr – EXCLUSIVE: Who says jury duty is a waste of time? DreamWorks is negotiating right now with Fuji TV for remake rights to the Japanese film Like Father, Like Son (Soshite Chichi Ni Naru).
R.I.P. Talent Manager J.J. Harris
By Nikki Finke - Motion picture and television talent agent/manager J.J. Harris died of what is believed to be natural causes on Friday afternoon and was found today in her Beverly Hills home by her staff. She was 62
MPAA Wins Hotfile Copyright Lawsuit
By Dominic Patten - Nearly two years and a half years after first filing their suit on behalf of several studios, the MPAA today scored a victory against file-sharing service Hotfile.
Venice Film Festival: Will The Lido Shuffle Biz Into Awards Season?
By Nancy Tartaglione - The Venice Film Festival kicks off tomorrow, and with it a renewed second outing for fest chief Alberto Barbera.
Labor Day Box Office: ‘One Direction’ Winning 3-Day Weekend But Will ‘The Butler’ Take 4-Day Holiday?
By Nikki Finke - This is too close to call right now. And film order is up in the air as well. Every Hollywood studio except Sony seems certain that Lee Daniels’ The Butler from The Weinstein Company will threepeat for #1 at the end of the 4-day Labor Day holiday.
Look out Eminem — Superman and Batman are heading to Detroit. The Michigan Film Office today announced that Warner Bros’ untitled Man Of Steel sequel has been awarded a state incentive of $35 million to film there in early 2014. The office says that the sequel — in which Ben Affleck debuts as Batman and Henry Cavill reprises his Superman role from this year’s blockbuster — is expected to have $131 million worth of in-state expenditures when it films in and around Motor City. The now-bankrupt Detroit will serve as both Metropolis and Gotham in the first feature team-up between the two top DC Comics heroes. “Detroit is a great example of a quintessential American city, and I know it will make the perfect backdrop for our movie,” said director Zack Snyder in a statement Thursday. “Detroit and the entire state of Michigan have been fantastic collaborators and we are looking forward to working together on this film.” The Man Of Steel sequel is set to be released July 17, 2015.
Missed them first time round? Check them out:
Squash Those Petitions! Why Ben Affleck As Batman Is Good Move For Warner Bros
By Mike Fleming Jr - OPINION: I was as surprised as anyone when Ben Affleck was named the new Batman by Warner Bros.
Ben Affleck To Play Batman In Warner Bros’ Batman-Superman Pic; Studio Sets July 17, 2015 Release Date
Ben Affleck has two Oscars; now he’s getting a cape. Hot off a Best Picture win for his period thriller Argo, Affleck is stepping back in front of the camera to play Batman in Warner Bros‘ untitled sequel to Man Of Steel, which will bring the crimefighter together with Superman in a feature for the first time. The casting further solidifies Affleck’s relationship with Warners, which released Argo and is behind his next directorial effort Live By Night. Affleck’s July casting in David Fincher’s Gone Girl for Fox meant that Warners was allowing him to push back Live By Night, which he also stars in and is continuing to prep. The actor-filmmaker had been tight with Jeff Robinov, who left his post as Warner Brothers Pictures Group President in June after Kevin Tsujihara got the studio’s top job. When rumors of Robinov’s departure first surfaced, Affleck told Deadline’s Nikki Finke: “On the record, I don’t know what I would do if Jeff weren’t there. I don’t know from my view anyone else there who knows how to make movies. I would like to support him.”
Man Of Steel director Zack Snyder is expected to reimagine the Batman character, whose pairing with Superman he announced at Comic-Con last month. Snyder said he won’t be drawing from the Dark Knight series. “I’ve pored through the DC universe for a way to tell this thing,” he said. Affleck will star opposite Henry Cavill, who will reprise the role of Superman/Clark Kent. The film will also reunite Man Of Steel stars Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane. David S. Goyer, who scripted the first film and worked on the Dark Knight trilogy, will pen the sequel. Warner Bros has set the film to open worldwide on July 17, 2015.
BREAKING… UPDATE: Official Press Release Below… The Superman logo was just superimposed with the Batman logo on the screen at the close of the much anticipated Warner Bros-Legendary Pictures panel inside the San Diego Convention Center at Comic-Con. This momentous DC Entertainment development from Warner Bros was not on the schedule, according to Deadline contributor Ross Lincoln covering the event. Instead, Zack Snyder came out on stage and announced, “It’s official that we are going to make another Superman movie. I’ve pored through the DC universe for a way to tell this thing.” With that, Harry Lennix who plays General Swanwick in Man Of Steel began quoting from Frank Miller’s 1986 The Dark Knight Returns and Miller’s follow-up Batman: Year One graphic novel series where an older Batman tricks Superman with Kryptonite and beats up the Man of Steel — then the scene ends with Batman faking his own death, a fact Superman becomes aware of at the funeral and keeps the secret: ”In all the years to come, in all the most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.” Snyder said the filmmakers won’t be using that source but it will help them in the story they’re telling. Set for release in 2015, this sequel is to be directed by Snyder and written by David S. Goyer featuring two of WB/DC’s most iconic superheroes and is certain to compete with Marvel. Christian Bale has said he does not wish to reprise his Bruce Wayne aka Batman role so the studio will be searching for a new Batman to pair with Henry Cavill. Snyder later said, “I’m so excited to begin working again with Henry Cavill in the world we created, and I can’t wait to expand the DC Universe in this next chapter. Let’s face it, it’s beyond mythological to have Superman and our new Batman facing off, since they are the greatest superheroes in the world.” Here is the Warner Bros press release announcing that the next DC superhero movie is in pre-production uniting Superman and Batman “in one explosive new film. Man Of Steel is still in theaters has grossed $625+M worldwide while Christopher Nolan’s rebooted Batman trilogy has amassed $4 billion globally:
BURBANK, CA, July 20, 2013 – On the heels of the worldwide success of “Man of Steel,” director Zack Snyderis bringing together the two greatest Super Heroes of all time—Batman and Superman—for the first time on the big screen. The announcement was made today by Greg Silverman, President, Creative Development and Worldwide Production, and Sue Kroll, President, Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution,Warner Bros. Pictures.
The current hit, “Man of Steel,” has taken in more than $630 million at the worldwide box office to date, and climbing. Along with its star, Henry Cavill, the upcomingfilm brings back Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane. The new Batman has yet to be cast.
Silverman stated, “Zack Snyder is an incredibly talented filmmaker, but beyond that, he’s a fan first and he utterly gets this genre. We could not think of anyone better suited to the task of bringing these iconic Super Heroes to the screen in his own way.” Kroll added, “We are thrilled to be back in business with Zack and his team on this next movie. The success of ‘Man of Steel’ is a wonderful testament to the love and support that both fans and new audiences, worldwide, have for these characters. We are very excited to see what Zack has in store for all of us.”
Diane Nelson, President, DC Entertainment, noted,“Superman and Batman together on the big screen is a dream come true for DC fans everywhere. All of us at DCEntertainment could not be more excited for Zack’s continuing vision for the DC Universe.”
In a reversal of fortune, ticket sales for Chinese movies skyrocketed in the first half of 2013 to dominate the home market. Local films grossed 6.85B yuan ($1.1B), for a 144% increase on last year. Imported movies lost 21.3% of their market share with sales of $717M. Total box office for the first semester was $1.79B, up 36.2% year-on-year according to figures released by government agency the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
Leading the charge for Chinese movies this year is Stephen Chow’s Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons which opened in February and had taken $203.7M by the end of June. Despite the downturn in U.S. movie fortunes, Iron Man 3 was the second biggest grosser of the six month period at $123M, the figures showed, according to China Daily. So Young, the drama directed by actress-turned-helmer Vicki Zhao Wei which broke opening day records in April, rounds out the top three at $117M. Of the top 10 titles, four were Chinese, accounting for 54.4% of revenues in the first half. Films that are currently burning up the box office include coming-of-age drama Tiny Times which had taken $67.67M as of Sunday, Johnnie To’s Blind Detective which sold $13.65M in its first weekend and Man Of Steel whose cume was $58.20M as of Sunday according to Ent Group data.
If you haven’t seen Man Of Steel yet, don’t read this article because I’m going to be discussing a major spoiler in the film. SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
‘Man Of Steel’ Soars To $200.3M Worldwide In First 4 Days As #1: Record June Domestic Opening Of $128.7M, International $71.6M
SUNDAY PM/MONDAY AM 12TH UPDATE: Sunday matinees were running on par with Saturdays which is highly unusual. But apparently Father’s Day and Man Of Steel “make a great combo. Best Father’s Day combo of all time”, said Warner Bros Pictures President, Domestic Distribution, Dan Fellman. “Amazing result for Sunday. No drop from Saturday”! With $36.3M on Sunday, Warner Bros’ and Legendary Pictures’ tentpole has new totals: $116.7M for the three-weekend and a four-day cume of $128.7M.
SUNDAY AM, 10TH UPDATE (includes international): Warner Bros’ and Legendary Pictures’ Man Of Steel (4,207 theaters with 3D in 3,357 venues) grossed $44M in North America on Friday (including the $9M from midnights) and -18% for $36.3M Saturday (excluding those $12M from Thursday 7 PM Wal-Mart shows). Pic was light on all-time records. But, even with a longish running time of two hours and 23 minutes, the Chris Nolan-Zack Snyder-David S. Goyer-Henry Cavill PG-13 tentpole set a new June best-ever opening weekend record. It was the 2nd best debut of 2013 behind only Disney/Marvel’s Iron Man 3 (which is on the verge of crossing $400M domestic). Internationally, Warner Bros says Man Of Steel ranked #1 everywhere with a gross of $71.6M from 9,710 screens in the 24 overseas markets in release. That made for a speeding worldwide cume of $196.7M in its first 4 days.
“In North America, Superman audiences thumbed their noses at the negative reviews from film critics and gave it an ‘A-’ CinemaScore. Man Of Steel beat all expectations,” a Warner Bros executive tells me. “Interesting note that Superman’s Saturday gross is double the next ranking Top 4 films added together. That’s really dominating the marketplace.” Sunday is projected at $32.7M. Estimates now for the 3-day weekend are $113M and the 4-day opening cume is $125.1M including Thursday. As for Sunday, “always an upside to consider with a huge Father’s Day result,” Warner Bros President, Domestic Distribution, Dan Fellman tells me. Saturday’s number followed very strong matinees — the same as opening day at $15.5M. Sunday also will bring an updated international figure which currently stands at $25.9M. Playing on 331 domestic IMAX screens, Man Of Steel delivered $13.3M, a record opening for a June release and was 12% of the weekend take. “Our CinemaScore of ‘A-’ with the youngest (under 18) and the oldest (over 50) age categories both rating the film an ‘A’ should certainly generate strong word of mouth as we continue our run in the heart of the lucrative summer play time,” Fellman noted. The 3D screens generated 42% of Man Of Steel‘s box office revenue and 32% of all admissions for 6.250M for Friday. The Man Of Steel results helped total moviegoing this Friday increase +78% over last year’s box office. Pic packed a strong opening punch because of the 3D premium and immense wannasee sparked by masterful marketing. It took Nolan’s involvement to make Superman cool again (finally).