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 …
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
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.
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.
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. …
“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.’“
How hard are Mark Wahlberg and director Allen Hughes working to promote their new film Broken City? Doing TV interviews in Philadelphia, the duo jumped right in and handled the broadcast’s traffic and weather report. They acquitted themselves nicely, but it seemed surprising that Wahlberg didn’t tell the newscasters to …
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount has set Oscar-winning The Departed scribe William Monahan to rewrite American Desperado, the film that is being shaped as a star vehicle for Mark Wahlberg. The film, based on the book American Desperado: My Life As A Cocaine Cowboy, focuses on the criminal exploits of Jon Roberts, who made a fortune smuggling cocaine into the U.S. for the Medellin Cartel. Roberts wrote the book with Generation Kill author Evan Wright, the latter of whom wrote the most recent draft of the script. Monahan will go back to the book for his script. Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson are producing with Film 44′s Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey. Leverage’s Michael Garnett has been overseeing the project.
The exploits of Roberts and Mickey Munday were first chronicled in the 2006 Billy Corben documentary Cocaine Cowboys, which is in the process of being developed at HBO as a series that’s exec produced by Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer.
Wahlberg has been developing the film since 2008 with the intention to play Roberts, who died of cancer last December. After returning from Vietnam, Roberts headed to Miami and fell in with the Medellin drug cartel when it was moving billions of dollars of blow into the U.S. That led to excess and danger right out of the series Miami Vice, until he was caught by the DEA. Berg originally intended to direct the film but is only attached as producer. He and Wahlberg just shot Lone Survivor and they’ll figure it out when they get the script from Monahan, who worked with Wahlberg on The Departed.