EXCLUSIVE: Of course a foul-mouthed teddy bear would translate internationally since it’s a beloved global plush toy. Still, MRC/Universal’s Ted is already open in 10 international territories and was #1 in almost every territory including an outstanding run in Australia. Now Universal opens it in 10 more markets this weekend and it’s already topping the foreign box office with big grosses in Germany and Russia plus previews in the UK. There, the Seth MacFarlane/Mark Wahlberg starrer has been #1 for two days of $5.3M previews, besting Warner Bros’ and Legendary Pictures’ third weekend of The Dark Knight Rises. Universal has planned the widest-ever release for Ted‘s official opening today in the UK and Ireland. In Germany, Ted opened #1 on its first day ahead of TDKR and grossed $1.2M on Thursday, a 2012 record best for Universal in this market. In Russia, Ted had a record-breaking start as well, opening Thursday with $1.4M as the #1 film ahead of TDKR. This is a record for a Hollywood comedy. Ted‘s international total has risen to $54.5M in just 20 territories, and Universal has 38 openings yet to release in the next few months.
Hong Kong director Kirk Wong is coming out of retirement to direct martial arts actioner Six, his first feature in over 10 years. Producers have just greenlighted the picture with a November start eyed in China …
Here’s the adults-only, audio NSFW version of the toned-down green band trailer for Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane’s feature debut Ted, which aired tonight during the boundary-pushing animated TV series. Mark Wahlberg plays a grown man who meets the woman of his dreams (Mila Kunis) but has to contend …
EXCLUSIVE: The world that provided fictional backdrop to such films as The Fighter and The Departed, will come to life in a new unscripted project at A&E executive produced by Departed star and The Fighter star/producer Mark Wahlberg. Tentatively titled Teamsters, the project, which has received a pilot order, features the Teamsters Local 25 in Boston. Wahlberg is executive producing with Stephen Levinson, Kevin Harrison and Bill Thompson. “A&E strives to remain ahead of the curve while delivering first-class auspices to our audience,” said Bob DeBitetto, President and General Manager, A&E and BIO Channel. “We’re so proud to collaborate with this group of producers and offer an authentic point of view from the unique characters this world provides.”
Teamsters – produced by Wahlberg’s Closest to the Hole, Levinson’s Leverage and Harrison’s Transition Prods — provide a first-hand glimpse of the legendary union in the most aggressive and territorial city in America: Boston. Here, the Teamsters Local 25 battle for the rights of their 11,000 members. “We believe A&E is the perfect venue to create a cutting-edge show that promises to be like nothing else on television,” Levinson said.
Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster Circle Peter Berg’s ‘Lone Survivor;’ Emmett/Furla Financing For Universal
EXCLUSIVE: Emmett/Furla Films is coming aboard to finance Lone Survivor, and director Peter Berg is in talks with Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch and Ben Foster to play three of the four lead Navy SEALs. Universal Pictures, which developed the movie, will distribute. An adaptation of the book by Marcus Luttrell, Lone Survivor tells the harrowing story of how Luttrell and his Navy SEAL team members fought to stay alive after being ambushed in Afghanistan in 2005 by Taliban forces during a covert mission in the Hindu Kush mountain region, where the team went to kill a terrorist leader. Wahlberg will play Luttrell in Berg’s followup to Battleship, which stars Kitsch.
Berg and Universal first began developing the project at Universal when the filmmaker signed on for Battleship. At the time, movies with sand in them and war weren’t working, but the opening-weekend grosses of Act Of Valor indicate that audiences are once again hungry for heroic war tales, especially those involving Navy SEALs. Kathryn Bigelow and Sony Pictures are getting underway with a drama revolving around the Navy SEAL Team 6′s hunt and killing of 9/11 terror attack mastermind Osama bin Laden. Lone Survivor is a different film, but it is expected to get underway this fall. Berg and Film 44 partner Sarah Aubrey, Akiva Goldsman, Barry Spikings will be producers as well as Randall Emmett and George Furla. Wahlberg will likely be involved in a producing capacity also.
Berg, who covered the Middle East terrain previously with the taut drama The Kingdom, has put in the work on this one. He wrote the Lone Survivor script after embedding with a SEAL team for a month in Iraq, an experience that really gave him a chance to see how they do their job. Berg wanted to make the film immediately, but two years ago the studio made him a bargain: direct Battleship and then follow with Lone Survivor. The timing hasn’t hurt, at all.
Yesterday, my colleague Mike Fleming and I reported on Universal’s action pic 2 Guns starring Mark Wahlberg and with Denzel Washington in discussions. Emmett/Furla Films has today confirmed it will co-finance the film adding it has entered into an agreement with Foresight Unlimited to handle foreign distribution rights. Wahlberg’s Contraband helmer Baltasar Kormakur is directing. Emmett/Furla has also pacted with Foresight to handle romcom Rule #1 starring Reese Witherspoon. Foresight Unlimited’s Mark Damon and Tamara Stuparich De La Barra will be offering the films to buyers at the EFM with Brian O’Shea of The Exchange assisting in the sales efforts.
Rule #1 will be directed by Frozen River helmer Courtney Hunt. Randall Emmett and George Furla are producing together with Brad Epstein of Panther films and Witherspoon through her Type A Films banner. Remington Chase and Stepan Martirosyan are executive producing. Story follows a woman trying to cope with OCD who takes in an unpredictable young woman with a newborn baby in an effort to face her anxieties and ultimately get her estranged husband back.
EXCLUSIVE: Denzel Washington, whose most recent action effort Safe House premieres in New York tonight, is in discussions to take on another action drama involving Universal Pictures. He’s in early talks to join Mark Wahlberg in 2 Guns, a film that’s based on a Steven Grant graphic novel published by Boom! Studios. Baltasar Kormakur will direct the film. He’s coming off the Universal remake of his own film Contraband, which starred Wahlberg. The script was written by Blake Masters. The financing of the film is still coming together, though I’m told that Emmett/Furla Films the likely co-financier. Marc Platt is producing along with Boom!’s Andrew Cosby and Ross Richie. Randall Emmett and George Furla will likely join that roster.
Here’s the international market trailer Universal released Monday for Contraband. Directed by Icelander Baltasar Kormákur, it features Mark Wahlberg as a guy forced back into smuggling when a member of his family botches a drug deal. It co-stars Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, Caleb Landry Jones, Lukas Haas, Diego …
Here’s the first trailer for Universal and Working Title’s Mark Wahlberg-starrer Contraband, an action thriller about a security guard trying to go straight who must return to his old life of high-stakes smuggling to settle a family member’s debt with a ruthless former boss. Giovanni Ribisi, Kate Beckinsale and Ben …
BREAKING: NBCUniversal’s new owners at Comcast have given a vote of confidence to the studio’s feature film operation. They’ve exercised an option on Universal Pictures’ Chairman Adam Fogelson and extended his contract through 2014. I’m told that Fogelson is, in turn, in the process of exercising the option of Donna Langley and she will continue as the studio’s co-chairman. They will also keep their executive team intact. Fogelson will continue to have full day-to-day operating responsibility for the Motion Picture Group, reporting to Universal Studios President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer (whose contract was recently re-upped through 2015) and will now also report to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke.
While Universal has had its ups and downs, higher-ups are clearly convinced that Fogelson, Langley and their team are making progress. They’ve had recent hits –Bridesmaids, Hop! and Fast Five– but also had some recent misses that include The Dilemma, Change-Up and Cowboys & Aliens. In the latter case, the studio was on the hook for one-third of the film, and shared that third with Relativity Media. It has also been a year in which Fogelson and his team have made some painful decisions and let pricey productions go. That began with the Guillermo Del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness, which Universal developed for years and which was ready to go with Tom Cruise, until the studio made a late decision not to go forward because of the possibility the $150M film could carry an R-rating. Universal also dropped two projects that were in advanced stages of development: The Dark Tower, the Akiva Goldsman-directed adaptation of the Stephen King novel series that was to be made into three feature films and two limited-run TV series, with the first film and TV segment directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer and Goldsman; and Oiuja, the Hasbro board game that had McG directing and Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners producing with Hasbro. The moves were surprising because Howard and Grazer are cornerstone filmmakers for Universal; and Del Toro and Hasbro have overall deals there. Ouija is one of several Hasbro properties the studio dropped, the others being the Gore Verbinski-directed Clue, the Ridley Scott-directed Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering. These were part of a groundbreaking deal the studio made with the toymaker several years ago, but the studio and Hasbro have re-focused their attention solely on Battleship, Stretch Armstrong, and Candy Land.
Emmett/Furla Films, a company that has been growing more ambitious in the film financing and production arena, has teamed with Stepan Martirosyan and Remington Chase’s Envision Entertainment to establish a new $250 million revolving equity and debt fund to finance a new slate of star-driven commercial films. The fund was announced as EFF principal Randall Emmett comes to Toronto to make deals on films that include the Allen Hughes-directed political corruption drama Broken City, which stars Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe, and Frozen Ground, the fact-based thriller about a serial killer in Alaska that will star Nicolas Cage and John Cusack. Martirosyan and Chase are executive producers on the latter.
The fund carries no set restrictions on how and where capital is allocated, but it will continue EFF’s momentum. The company recently financed the Stephen Frears-directed Lay The Favorite — with a cast that includes Bruce Willis, Rebecca Hall, Vince Vaughn and Catherine Zeta-Jones — with films in the works that include the David Ayer-directed crime drama End of Watch with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anna Kendrick; Fire with Josh Duhamel, Willis and Rosario Dawson; and Freelancers, a drama that stars Robert De Niro, Forest Whitaker and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. EFF’s Emmett continues to be Jackson’s partner in Cheetah Vision Films, which has a deal at Lionsgate. EFF will make nine films this year.