In the latest effort mining its deep library catalog for feature film franchises, MGM said today that it is developing a new Pink Panther movie, a live-action/animated hybrid that will take its cues from the tone set by the original Friz Freleng and David De Patie cartoons in addition to that of Blake Edwards’ films. That means that the focus will be on the Pink Panther character itself more than Inspector Clouseau, who took over the spotlight for Edwards’ movies thanks to Peter Sellers’ creation of one of the most iconic comedy characters of all time. There have been 11 Pink Panther feature films (and countless cartoons and shorts) spanning five decades — like another MGM property James Bond one of the movie business’ longest-running feature franchises.
Walter Mirisch, exec producer of the original movies and TV series, has come aboard to produce the new pic along with Edwards’ widow Julie Andrews. The Simpsons Movie and Monsters Inc director David Silverman will direct. MGM’s SVP Production Cassidy Lange will oversee the film for the studio. Read More »
Josh Wiggins has nabbed a lead role in MGM‘s Max, the family adventure film being directed by Boaz Yakin. The original pic is inspired by true events. A Belgian Shepherd working in Afghanistan alongside Marines returns from service after his handler is killed. The man’s devastated family adopts the dog — erratic and still suffering from the traumas of war — who ends up bonding with and helping their troubled 14-year-old son, Justin (Wiggins). Together they unravel the secret behind his brother’s death and pull the family together again. Production is expected to start in May in North Carolina. Wiggins, repped by UTA and Leverage Management, starred in the Sundance family drama Hellion opposite Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis. That pic was acquired by Sundance Selects after it premiered at this year’s fest.
EXCLUSIVE: MGM is reviving its Barbershop franchise. The film company is negotiating a mid-seven-figure deal with Ice Cube to reprise his role as the catalyst for Barbershop 3. They are about to start talking to writers and I’m told the hope is to re-enlist Cedric the Entertainer and Queen Latifah as well. The 2002 original cost $12 million and grossed $75 million domestic while the 2004 sequel cost $30 million and grossed $65 million. MGM, whose late good fortunes are driven primarily by the 007 and Hobbit franchises, have clearly made franchise building a priority. There is a second Hot Tub Time Machine coming through Paramount at year’s end, Hercules has sequel aspirations, and there is the revival of the Poltergeist series. MGM is also working on the animated version of The Addams Family.
Cube has been thriving in franchise work. He reprises in Sony’s 22 Jump Street, which Sony releases June 13 with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum reprising their roles as bumbling narcs. And after Universal saw Ride Along gross $146 million worldwide on a $25 million budget, the studio has greenlit the sequel to start production in late June with Cube and Kevin Hart reprising. Cube is separately producing Straight Outta Compton, the F. Gary Gray-directed adaptation of the formation of NWA, the hip-hop ensemble that launched the careers of Cube, Easy E and … Read More »
It’s easy to see why the studio would rather focus on the 12-month results. With hit films including Skyfall and The Hobbit, and TV series Vikings and Teen Wolf, full-year revenues jumped 11% to $1.53B. Net income at $122.2M fell 5% but would be up 97% if you factor out the company’s asset sales in 2012 including its $55.6M gain from the sale of MGM Networks. “Growth in revenue and profitability was above our expectations and our operating income of $202 million is higher than any known or reported amount in MGM’s 90-year history,” CEO Gary Barber says. But we pretty much already knew that from the results in the first nine months. What about the new figures for Q4? The company has little to say about that. MGM had to report costs tied to the December release of The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug before most of the sales rolled in. That contributed to a 69.6% drop in net income to $12.2M on revenues of $463.7M, – 69.6%. MGM appears to be unfazed as it crows about a 2014 film slate that includes 22 Jump Street, Hercules, If I Stay, and The Hobbit: There And Back Again, as well as a TV lineup that includes the new series Fargo.
In the latest class action over a studio’s alleged miscalculation of home video revenue, the daughter of a late Hollywood producer is leading a charge against MGM. Joan J. Buck of New York claims that, in a “common and systematic [industry] practice,” the studio only calculates revenue on DVDs, tapes, VOD, streaming and such based on one-fifth of what it actually takes in. A pair of class actions were filed early last year claiming the same 20% calculation by studios — one against Warner Bros led by Hal Needham, who has since died, and another targeting Universal, Paramount, Fox and Sony. “The standard contract entered into between the business parties requires the calculation of revenue to be based on 100% of the revenue received by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer-Studios Inc.,” states the suit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here). “Contrary to the unambiguous terms of the standard contract, [MGM] engages in a common and systematic practice of paying less revenue than it receives by including only 20% of said revenue when calculating the amount payable to profit participants.” The plaintiff’s father Jules Buck partnered with Peter O’Toole on films including The Lion In Winter and What’s New Pussycat? — the latter of which she cites in the suit.
Related: Hulu Hit With Class-Action Suit Over Automatic Renewals
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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios has given a vote of confidence to the current leadership of MGM Television, extending the contracts for Roma Khanna, President, Television Group and Digital; Chris Ottinger, President, International Television Distribution and Acquisitions; Steve Stark, President, Television Production and Development; and John Bryan, President, Domestic Television Distribution until 2016. Khanna continues to report directly to MGM chairman and CEO Gary Barber, while Ottinger, Stark and Bryan will report to Khanna. “MGM television, under Roma’s direction, is stronger than ever, and is an important producer and distributor of content for television and digital platforms worldwide,” said Barber. MGM TV’s portfolio includes series Vikings and Teen Wolf, upcoming limited series Fargo as well as syndicated Paternity Court, Right This Minute and Let’s Ask America. Projects in development include a re-imagining of Fame with Nigel Lythgoe and Marta Kauffman.
EXCLUSIVE: Anne Fletcher is in talks to direct Don’t Mess With Texas, a female-driven Midnight Run-style comedy that stars Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara. MGM is fully financing the David Feeney & John Quaintance-scripted action comedy. Witherspoon will play a police officer and Vergara a prisoner forced to go on the run together. Both Witherspoon and Vergara have circled this project for some time, but these deals are coming together quickly so that the film can be shot during Vergara’s hiatus from the ABC hit Modern Family this spring. The comedy was originally bought by Universal but it shook loose and MGM put it together.
The film is being produced by Witherspoon and Pacific Standard partner Bruna Papandrea, and Dana Fox. Fletcher, whose comedy credits include 27 Dresses and The Proposal, last directed The Guilt Trip. She’s repped by UTA, and both actresses are repped by CAA. Witherspoon’s managed by LBI, Vergara by Latin World Entertainment.
Paramount will release MGM‘s Hot Tub Time Machine sequel wide on December 25, 2014, the studio just announced. Paramount came aboard in December as worldwide distributor for the pic, after MGM/UA released the first one in 2010 and grossed a so-so $50.3 million domestically (it scored better digitally and on-demand). MGM is handling select international territories on this one. Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke return for the sequel, along with Steve Pink who directs from a screenplay by Josh Heald. In the sequel, when Lou (Corddry) finds himself in trouble, Nick (Robinson) and Jacob (Duke) fire up the hot tub time machine in an attempt to get back to the past. But they inadvertently land in the future. Now they have to alter the future in order to save the past — which is really the present.
Ken Schapiro’s move from COO to the new gig — which MGM says is a promotion — likely will fuel the speculation that CEO Gary Barber is inching closer to a decision to take the studio public. Schapiro joined as COO in 2011 and Barber says that he’s “thrilled we will continue to work together moving MGM into its next phase and guiding the strategic direction of the company.” He did not name a replacement for the COO job. In July 2012 MGM filed a draft registration at the SEC for an IPO, but has largely kept mum about the subject since then. “MGM is in a very strong position and we continue to study all of our options,” Barber told debt holders in November. With his extensive background in Hollywood finance, Schapiro has the background to help shape strategy, with or without an IPO. He was involved with “all of the company’s financing transactions,” MGM says, as well as debt restructuring, its recent $75M stock repurchase, investments in new media, and the 2012 divestiture of the company’s overseas channels. He also oversaw MGM’s home video campaign for the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise. Before joining the studio, Schapiro co-founded investment management company Qualia Capital, and was COO of Artisan Entertainment — helping to turn around the video distributor and merge it with Lionsgate. … Read More »
Bernie may be dead, but nearly 25 years after Weekend At Bernie’s came out, money from the movie isn’t. To that end, 20th Century Fox and MGM were sued today for breach of contract by director Ted Kotcheff and writer Robert Klane for profits they say they are due from the 1989 comedy. Stating that the gross box office receipts for what they call “one of the most hilarious and endearing goofball comedies of the 80s” were more than $30 million and residuals for further venues for Bernie’s equal more than $16 million, the duo says they “have been, and continue to be, deprived of at least hundreds of millions of dollars.” While Fox was the distributor of the film back in 1980s, the complaint (read it here) filed in LA Superior Court today names both the studio and MGM as defendants because it says producers Gladden Entertainment Company, transferred all rights to Bernie’s to the two not long after the pic came out on July 5, 1989. Former MGM CEO David Begelman, who died in 1995, formed Gladden in 1984. Weekend At Bernie’s starred Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman as two up-and-coming corporate men trying to hide the fact their rich boss is dead and avoid the hitman after him. Hilarity ensues.
In their no-joke 6-claim complaint seeking a 2- to 3-day jury trial, Klane … Read More »
MGM is kicking off a yearlong campaign to celebrate its birthday and has produced a trailer that will be shown in theaters, on MGM’s various channels and home video products, and via social media. As part of the celebration, the studio has built 4K restorations of titles for Blu-ray including Rocky, Rainman and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, and the studio’s Leo the Lion is getting the pawprint treatment at the Chinese Theater this morning in Hollywood with Sylvester Stallone and CEO Gary Barber among those expected to attend. Although it is MGM’s 90th birthday, most of the highlights here are centered on the film library the studio still owns (lots of United Artists movies — James Bond, Pink Panther, etc). There’s not much on MGM’s Golden Era in the 1930s and ’40s — those rights were acquired by Turner and now held by Warner Bros. Still cool though. Check it out:
Warner Bros will release MGM‘s If I Stay on August 22. It will face off against Weinstein/Dimension’s crime pic Sin City: A Dame To Kill For and TriStar’s sports drama When The Game Stands Tall. R.J. Cutler directs the adaptation of the Gayle Forman novel, which follows a teenager who is in a coma after a car accident that devastates her family. Chloe Moretz, Mireille Enos and Jamie Blackley star.
Paramount will distribute the film worldwide theatrically and on home video while MGM will handle select international territories. MGM/United Artists paired on the first movie in 2010 which grossed $50.3 million domestically, a mild success theatrically but the pic did well digitally and on demand. Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke return for the sequel, along with Steve Pink who directs from a screenplay by Josh Heald. Adam Scott also stars. In the sequel, when Lou (Corddry) finds himself in trouble, Nick (Robinson) and Jacob (Duke) fire up the hot tub time machine in an attempt to get back to the past. But they inadvertently land in the future. Now they have to alter the future in order to save the past… which is really the present. The pic is produced by Andrew Panay. It’s slated for a 2014 release. MGM and Paramount have partnered on several projects including the upcoming Hercules, starring Dwayne Johnson and directed by Brett Ratner, due for release July 25, 2014 as well as G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
Related: The Financials Of ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’
EXCLUSIVE: Boaz Yakin has been set to direct Max, an original family adventure film that will begin production March 1. Yakin is writing the script with Sheldon Lettich and he will be exec producer. It’s Yakin’s first family film since Remember The Titans. He most recently wrote Now You See Me. Sunswept Entertainment’s Karen Rosenfelt is producing, while MGM‘s Jonathan Glickman and Cassidy Lange are overseeing.
The film is inspired by true events. A Belgian Shepherd Malinois military working dog returns from active service in Afghanistan traumatized by his handler’s death. Erratic and dangerous, Max is adopted by the bereaved family and bonds with the Marine’s troubled 14-year old brother. Together they unravel the secret behind his brother’s death and pull a family together again. Yakin is repped by ICM Partners.
Listen to (and share) Episode 59 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s financial editor joins host David Bloom and Jonathan Geller of Deadline’s sibling site BGR.com in talking about the mobile business, starting with the fundamental face-off between Apple and Google over mobile business models. They also talk about the prospects for Samsung, Microsoft and BlackBerry; T-Mobile’s radical new approach to the mobile phone business; a new study suggesting more than half of Internet bandwidth is consumed by just two sites, YouTube and Netflix; and the dubious future of next-generation video game consoles as Sony launches the PS4 today and Microsoft debuts the Xbox One in a week.
Separately, the two Davids pick through the most notable news from this week’s media earnings reports, including MGM’s 2012 gifts that keep giving, CBS and Dish Network doing a dance around the Hopper and Viacom’s debt to Miley Cyrus and some zombies.
Deadline Big Media Episode 59 (MP3 version)
Deadline Big Media Episode 59 (M4A version) Read More »
MGM and the producer of the James Bond movies have finally acquired all of the rights to the 007 franchise. After a legal battle royale that has gone on more than 50 years, the studio and Danjaq today announced they now have all of the rights and interests to the British spy held by Kevin McClory and his estate. McClory worked with Bond creator Ian Fleming and writer Jack Whittingham on a script for Thunderball in the late 1950s. McClory would later claim he helped created a number of iconic elements of the Bond world and gave the character a more movie-friendly persona. No details of the agreement or a settlement have been released. However, I’ve learned that the agreement over the long-standing dispute was finalized between the parties in the last two weeks.
Related: It’s Official: Sam Mendes To Direct Bond #24 Read More »
The hit movies are the gifts that keep on giving for MGM. In addition to the jump in revenues, the studio says that James Bond and the residents of Middle Earth helped to raise Q3 net income by $23M vs the period last year — once you factor out last year’s $48.5M gain from the sale of MGM Networks to Liberty Global’s Chellomedia. The reported results, including last year’s sale, shows net income of $16.59M, -29%, with the revenue boost to $242.9M. TV licensing was +84% with pay TV and streaming revenues for Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as well as TV series Vikings and Teen Wolf. MGM says that there was “no similar film content” moving through its pipelines last year. The privately held company also reports that it doubled its share repurchase plan to $150M. That indicates MGM’s “continued confidence in the company and its prospects,” CEO Gary Barber says.
EXCLUSIVE: MGM has set 12 Years A Slave scribe John Ridley to do a rewrite on Ben-Hur, a new adaptation of the 1880 Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ, which Timur Bekmambetov will direct, based on the Ben-Hur spec the studio bought from Keith Clarke (The Way Back). The intention is to begin casting soon and start production on this big sprawling film in the spring. It’s based on the book that for its time outsold every book but The Bible until it was eclipsed by Gone With The Wind. Sean Daniel and Joni Levin attached to produce, and Clarke and Jason Brown exec producing.
Sweet Chariot! MGM Is Re-Booting ‘Ben-Hur’
MGM In Talks With Timur Bekmambetov To Steer Chariot On ‘Ben-Hur’ Reboot
MGM released the 1959 Charlton Heston-starrer Ben-Hur, as well as the 1925 silent film Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ. MGM sold the Heston film to Ted Turner in the 1980s, but the book is public domain. The studio’s decision makers, Gary Barber and production president Jonathan Glickman, loved the spec that is faithful to the book and carves out an identity that is different than the 1959 William Wyler film that focused on the adult blood feud between Judah Ben-Hur (Heston) and Messala (Stephen Boyd).
Ridley most recently scripted Red Tails, but his adaptation of 12 Years A Slave has thrust … Read More »