Part of the appeal of HBO’s Entourage was that no matter how treacherous Hollywood could be, Vinnie Chase always knew he had the loyalty and friendship of his Queens, NY, pals to fall back on. That spirit seems to have gone AWOL in the negotiations to move the series to the big screen. Nearly 10 months after my colleague Mike Fleming Jr revealed that Warner Bros had greenlighted a script by creator Doug Ellin that he will direct, progress has slowed to the point that some of the gang are publicly taking shots at each other. Exec producer Mark Wahlberg, on whose life Entourage is loosely based, told TMZ last week that the film will happen “as soon as those guys stop being so greedy.” Since Jeremy Piven and Kevin Connolly already have made their deals, Wahlberg seems to be directing his remarks at Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara and Adrian Grenier, who played Chase. Grenier responded via Twitter: “I will sign any deal that gives ALL the boys an opportunity to share in the upside of success EQUALLY.” There is precedent for this in the last HBO series to transfer to the big screen: The exact same thing happened in 2004 when Michael Patrick King got the go-ahead on a big-screen version of Sex And The City.
EXCLUSIVE: Seems the stakes are rising on Paramount’s The Gambler. Brie Larson is in negotiations to play the female lead opposite Mark Wahlberg in the remake of the 1974 James Caan pic, I’ve learned. Talks are in a very early stage and details of her role are sketchy, but it could all come together in the next few days. The role would be another step into studio movies for the actress, who starred in 21 Jump Street last year. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes helmer Rupert Wyatt is set to direct the new Gambler from a script by William Monahan. Larson may not be the only new addition: The studio and producers are looking to bring American Horror Story star Jessica Lange on board as well. In August, Larson won the Best Actress Award at the Locarno Film Festival for her turn as a troubled social worker in Short Term 12, and she also was recently seen in the Sundance pic The Spectacular Now and Joe Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon. She is repped by Gersh and managed by ROAR.
EXCLUSIVE: HBO has passed on The Missionary, its Cold War spy drama pilot from Charles Randolph, producers Stephen Levinson and Mark Wahlberg and author Malcolm Gladwell. Set in late-’60s Berlin, The Missionary – written by Randolph and directed by Baltasar Kormakur — centered on Roy (Benjamin Walker), a young American missionary who gets caught up in Cold War intrigue while helping a young woman escape East Berlin. It was greenlighted to pilot in June 2012.
EXCLUSIVE: I’m in transit from Toronto, but here is a hot project coming together quickly. I’m hearing that Mark Wahlberg is circling to star and Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes helmer Rupert Wyatt is circling to direct The Gambler, a William Monahan-scripted remake of the 1974 James Caan movie for Paramount. The remake is being produced by original producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff and also Stephen Levinson. Caan played a college professor whose gambling addiction overcomes him even after he gets in big trouble with the wrong guys. James Toback wrote the original script and the pic co-starred Lauren Hutton and Paul Sorvino.
Hollywood Blues: ‘Smurfs 2′ Bombs Here And Blah Overseas; Denzel-Mark’s ’2 Guns’ Wins Weekend, ‘Wolverine’ Holds For #2
SUNDAY AM, 7TH UPDATE: This is yet another weekend that confounded and confused Hollywood as domestic numbers are coming in lower than projected and only international grosses are saving Summer 2013. Interesting that the Top Three films are all based on comic books. (Maybe that’s the reason?) Total moviegoing looks about $125M or about +8% from last year because of the glut of 3D films in the crowded marketplace.
I’m shocked how badly the #3 film Sony Pictures Animation‘s The Smurfs 2 (3,866 theaters) bombed in the U.S. and Canada where even the most wretched family fare can catch a break at the summer box office. This 3D hybrid live-action/CG animated sequel couldn’t even make in its first five days ($27.8M) what the 2011 original grossed in its first three-day weekend ($35.6M). Ouch! Guess little blue people creep me out and North Americans, too. The domestic total fell way short of the $35M first projected by the studio which blames too many PG films at the multiplex. But even the foreign cume was blah: $52.5M from 43 territories was “not enough to make up for U.S. underperformance,” a Sony exec tells me. That’s a worldwide total of $80.3M, far less than the $100M which Sony projected this weekend. Russia and Latin America beat Smurfs 1 while shockingly Europe (where the Smurfs began) did not. Let’s remember that the 2011 original made 75% of its coin overseas ($420M foreign vs $142M domestic) so Sony is was counting on a big worldwide weekend to save pic’s bottom-line. The negative cost for Smurfs 2 was $125M ($146M less production benefits of $21M). Sony also lined up for the sequel one of the studio’s largest global promotion campaigns with $150M from 100 corporations, licensees, and retail partners. (Including McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, blueberries). That’s a big deal for family fare not branded Disney, Pixar, or DreamWorks. As expected Smurfs 2 opened Wednesday #1 atop the North American box office but with only a lame $5.2M and then a lifeless $18.2M three-day weekend. Its Rotten Tomatoes score was a poor 12% but the ‘A-’ CinemaScore from audiences didn’t help domestic word of mouth. I hear the Sony brass was concerned from the outset because their sequel was out-tracked by Disney’s Planes (which opens August 9th). Smurfs 2‘s disappointment will only put more pressure on the studio from cantankerous investor Daniel Loeb who’s currently destabilizing the studio. The first film was taken out of turnaround from Paramount by then Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman/CEO Michael Lynton, now the Sony America bigwig. And that original Smurfs movie caught lightning in a bottle and grossed $563M worldwide. Because of that, Smurfs 3 already is scheduled for 2015.
Better news for Emmett/Furla Films which financed 2 Guns that’s being distributed in America by Universal with EOne releasing in Canada. Playing in 3,025 domestic theaters, it was the #1 film this weekend – 7th time Universal has claimed top spot at the North American box office in 2013 – with a so-so $27.4M. Audiences liked it much more than critics who gave it only a middling 58% Rotten Tomatoes score vs its ‘B+’ CinemaScore. The studio had trouble building awareness in the crowded marketplace so low-balled its projection of only a $22M weekend. But two marquee stars paired for the first time like Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg should open any film to at least $25M. Good thing the ‘R’-rated comedy actioner cost only $61M. I think what helped box office is that Denzel rarely appears in a bad pic so audiences trust that. And Wahlberg is a consistent draw. Their starpower clearly was pushing gross for this film based on the Boom! Studios comic book by Steven Grant and directed by Baltasar Kormakur (who reteamed with Wahlberg after Contraband) and screenwriter Blake Masters (TV’s Brotherhood). 2 Guns was tracking strongest with its target audience of young males and African Americans after significant multicultural outreach. To that end, Universal developed an 82-second English-language spot specifically for the bilingual Hispanic audience. Washington and Wahlberg made appearances on NBCU-owned Telemundo’s morning show Un Nuevo Dia which created a first ever interview paired with the Today Show. 2 Guns villain Edward James Olmos did Hispanic media and developed 10 spots with Mexican-themes. Other promotions were aimed at African-Amercans including BeET’s top rated 106 & Park and the 2nd largest black network TV One. Exit polling showed moviegoers were 14% Hispanic and 28% African-American.
In #2 is Twentieth Century Fox’s holdover, Marvel’s Wolverine (with the highest theater count of 3,924). Marvel character played by Hugh Jackman yet again dropped 59% drop from last weekend for $21.7M and a new domestic cume through Sunday of $95M. Worldwide total is $255.2M.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros/New Line’s low-cost $19M horror genre The Conjuring (3,155 theaters) crossed $100M after three weeks Saturday on its way to $135M all in. Studio says it’s now the 6th biggest horror film of all time and easily will end up as #4 or even #3.
Here are the Top Ten films based on weekend estimates:
1. 2 Guns (Emmett-Furla/Universal) NEW [Runs 3,025] R
Friday $10.0M, Saturday $9.8M, Weekend $27.4M
2. The Wolverine 3D (20th Century Fox) Week 2 [Runs 3,924] PG13
Friday $6.4M, Saturday $8.6M, Weekend $21.7M (-59%), Cume $95.0M
International Cume $160.2M, Worldwide Total $255.2M
3. The Smurfs 2 3D (Sony Animation) Week 1 [Runs 3,866] PG
Friday $5.5M, Saturday $7.1M, Weekend $18.2M, Cume $27.8M
International Cume $52.5M, Worldwide Total $80.3M
The Autobots and Decepticons have landed in Detroit. The Michigan city is doubling for a bombed out Hong Kong in Michael Bay‘s Transformers 4. The pic, starring Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci, will be shooting in the city through the second week of August. It’s set to be released on June 27, 2014. Check out the two (explosive) videos below from the set:
Universal has released an early trailer for Lone Survivor, the Peter Berg-directed adaptation of the memoir by Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell about the harrowing firefight that resulted when a group of commandos out to kill a terrorist leader were ambushed by Taliban forces in 2005. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster and Eric Bana. I can remember Berg telling me years ago that he agreed to direct Battleship because Universal pledged to make this passion project of his, which he felt was all courage and heroism; the film was funded by Emmett/Furla Films, and Universal releases the film in an Oscar-qualifying run December 27 before going wide January 10. Here’s the trailer:
The new trailer has dropped for Universal‘s 2 Guns. Baltasar Kormákur directs from a script by Blake Masters. The action thriller stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg as two undercover federal operatives from competing bureaus who are forced on the run together. The pic opens on Friday. Check it out:
Mark Wahlberg And Peter Berg Sign On To Paramount’s ‘American Desperado’ Adapted By William Monahan For Start Early 2014
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Oscar-winning screenwriter William Monahan (The Departed) has done a fresh adaptation of the book American Desperado. Now Mark Wahlberg is attached to star and Peter Berg to direct the film. Paramount Pictures is hoping for a start early next year, “but it’s still too early to tell as Bill’s draft just came in”. WME represents all three talents and was instrumental in the project getting together. Wahlberg and Berg just worked together on the Afghanistan war drama Lone Survivor set for a 2014 release by Universal. Latest pic is based on the tell-all with the subtitle My Life — From Mafia Soldier To Cocaine Cowboy To Secret Government Asset by super-criminal Jon Roberts, star of the acclaimed documentary Cocaine Cowboys, and Evan Wright, best known for his bestselling book and HBO series Generation Kill. Their collaboration began with a series of conversations over three years about Roberts’ compelling history as a New York City gangster running guns for the CIA and smuggling tons of cocaine and cash for the Medellín Cartel at the height of America’s War On Drugs during the 1980s. “As Wright’s tape recorder whirred and Roberts unburdened himself of hundreds of jaw-dropping tales, it became clear that perhaps no one in history had broken so many laws with such willful abandon,” Random House said when it was published.
“Roberts, in fact, seemed to be a prodigy of criminality — but one with a remarkable …
EXCLUSIVE: Sensing it could have a strong year-end awards season contender, Universal has decided to platform its January 10th wide release of its Afghanistan war drama Lone Survivor with a 12/27 limited (LA/NY) debut. The shift will qualify the film for Oscars and other awards and get critical and audience word-of-mouth out there before the broader previously announced early 2014 release. Having seen the Peter Berg-directed true story in unfinished form, the move makes sense for a film that, despite unrelenting graphic violence that is hard to watch at times, really packs the kind of emotional punch that should play well with awards voters.
Coming off the box office disaster of Battleship, the movie represents a strong return to form for Berg that is more in line with what he did on 2004′s Friday Night Lights than the aforementioned 2012 bloated blockbuster. The film, which stars Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Eric Bana and Taylor Kitsch (who also finds redemption after facing critical brickbats for both John Carter and Battleship), is a riveting story of four Navy SEALs involved in an ill-fated covert mission to thwart a high-level Taliban operative when they are ambushed by enemy forces in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. Notwithstanding some of the most intense and realistic battle scenes in recent memory, it goes beyond the average war film in fleshing out real three-dimensional human beings caught up in the moral consequences of war, and in that way is more reminiscent of past Best Picture Oscar winners like Platoon (1986) and Universal’s own The Deer Hunter (1978). One scene in particular is riveting to watch in which the SEALS, weighing their own chances of survival, collectively must decide if a small group of locals should live or die. Certainly the film presents moral dilemmas that will cause strong debate. It is based on the New York Times bestseller, Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account Of Operation Redwing And The Lost Heroes Of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell (with Patrick Robinson), the Navy SEAL portrayed in the film by Wahlberg.
Mark Wahlberg-starrer Lone Survivor will bow on January 10, 2014. It will face off against Warner Bros’ sports comedy Grudge Match and Lionsgate’s horror pic Jessabelle. Based on the New York Times bestseller, Lone Survivor tells the harrowing story of four Navy SEALs on an ill-fated covert mission to neutralize a high-level Taliban operative when they are ambushed by enemy forces in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. Lone Survivor is directed by Peter Berg (Hancock, Friday Night Lights). Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch and Eric Bana also star. Universal Pictures, which developed the movie with Berg, is distributing. Berg penned the adaptation after embedding with a SEAL team for a month in Iraq. Emmett/Furla Films financed the pic.
EXCLUSIVE: CSI: Miami alum Omar Miller is set to co-star opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in HBO’s untitled dramedy pilot Johnson executive produces with Mark Wahlberg and Steve Levinson. Written by Levinson, the project chronicles the lives of athletes — some retired, some still active — living in Miami. Miller will play Charles, an affable former pro athlete who is searching for his next career. Peter Berg is directing the pilot and will executive produce, along with Johnson’s manager Dany Garcia, who runs his production company. Miller, repped by Don Buchwald & Associates and MBST, next will be seen in action feature Homefront, written by Sylvester Stallone and directed by Gary Fleder.
EXCLUSIVE: A&E has given a six-episode order to an untitled docu-reality series executive produced by Mark Wahlberg, which is set in his native Boston. This marks the first unscripted series for Wahlberg, who is executive producing through his Closest to the Hole Prods along with frequent collaborator Stephen Levinson of Leverage, Bill Thompson of Bill Thompson Prods. and veteran reality producer Stephanie Drachkovitch of 44 Blue Prods as well as Jennifer Colbert who serves as showrunner.
The initial impetus for the project, which was first ordered as a pilot by A&E in November, came from the tough, hard-as-nails female characters in Wahlberg‘s Oscar-nominated feature The Fighter. Wahlberg and Thompson were inspired by the women’s spirit and set out to find a group of those types of Boston girls going through challenging times and tell their story.
Dwayne Johnson To Star In & Produce HBO Pilot About Athletes From Steve Levinson & Mark Wahlberg, Peter Berg To Direct
HBO has given a pilot order to a half-hour dramedy pilot starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This marks the first TV-starring role for the movie actor/wrestler, who is executive producing the project with his Pain & Gain co-star Mark Wahlberg and Steve Levinson. Peter Berg is on board to direct the pilot and will executive produce, along with Johnson’s manager Dany Garcia who runs his production company. Written by Levinson, the untitled project chronicles the lives of athletes — some retired, some still active — living in Miami. Johnson will play one of them, with filming eyed for the fall.
Johnson’s collaboration with Wahlberg and his manager/ frequent producing partner Levinson on the project, based on an idea by Levinson, stems from Johnson and Wahlberg’s work together on Michael Bay’s action movie Pain & Gain, which opened at No. 1 this past weekend. The two actors also are repped by the same agency, WME.
It was Universal Pictures’ turn in the spotlight this morning as Chairman Adam Fogelson served up a look at the studio’s sequel-packed summer slate and a summary of the studio’s 2012 hits and even big miss Battleship. He announced sequels in varying stages of development: Snow White And The Huntsman (for a targeted 2015 date), Ted, Bourne Legacy, and also for 2015 another Pitch Perfect, that sleeper which earned $110 million worldwide and has become the 4th biggest digital download in history. But clearly the studio’s biggest franchise news - thinking audiences can’t get enough of a good thing – was star/producer Vin Diesel’s announcement that the cast will return for a 7th Fast & Furious with a release date already set for July 11, 2014. Marketing honcho Michael Moses told me afterwards that the 7th film will go into production with new director James Wan in August right after the cast finishes up its worldwide promotions for #6. For such a stunt driven movie, 11 months is not much time and sets it up for an imposing ‘fast and furious’ schedule. In fact these things go so down to the wire that #6 director Justin Lin couldn’t be in Vegas to join the cast (including Paul Walker and Michelle Rodriguez) and producer Neal H. Moritz on stage to talk up the new film for the pumped theater owners. Moritz said he’s been darting between London, Vancouver …
Universal’s 2 Guns is directed by Baltasar Kormákur from a script by Blake Masters. The action thriller stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg as two undercover federal operatives from competing bureaus who are forced on the run together. Pic opens in theaters August 2nd:
Michael Bay‘s $25M true crime comedy stars Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Anthony Mackie as 1990s Florida bodybuilders whose plot to get rich via kidnapping and extortion goes horribly wrong. Rebel Wilson, Ken Jeong, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris, and Rob Corddry round out the supporting cast. Paramount releases Pain & Gain on April 26. Here’s the new redband trailer:
“We are happy to make it possible for Mark and Ted to make their debut appearance on the Oscar stage,” said Zadan and Meron. “And we won’t deny that Ted used his pull with our host to get himself the booking.”
Wahlberg and Ted starred in the hit summer comedy “Ted,” which is now the highest-grossing R-rated original comedy of all time.
“I’m excited to present an Oscar with Mark Wahlberg,” said Ted. “I’m spending the next month learning to pronounce ‘Quvenzhané.’“
The Ted actor and his furry co-star will be part of this year’s Oscar telecast, which happens to be hosted by the film’s director Seth MacFarlane. Mark Wahlberg made the announcement on Anderson Cooper’s talk show Anderson Live in a segment taped to air Friday. He also confirmed that there will be a Ted sequel, after the first pic about the raunchy teddy bear became the highest-grossing R-rated comedy in history this summer. Wahlberg said a deal for Ted 2 has already been locked and the script is being written now. Here’s the segment:
WATCH IT ON YOUTUBE: Mark Wahlberg Confirms Ted Appearance At The Oscars