Only about 4.5% of the 10,000 or so domestic screens that will show New Line and MGM’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on December 14 will present it the way director Peter Jackson wants — at 48 frames per second instead of the conventional 24 frames. But Warner Bros Domestic Distribution President Dan Fellman tells me that this reflects a cautious rollout strategy, not a failure to win support from exhibition execs. Even now, “equipment is being tested” and some glitches have been corrected, he says. “So we did the right thing” by limiting the rollout to anywhere from 400 to 450 screens covering most major cities. “This is a technology that is going to change the way people see movies…You have to do it right.”
Warner Bros seemed to have bigger ambitions for the visually vivid 3D projection technology — which the studio’s calling “HFR” (for High Frame Rate) — at the exhibition industry’s CinemaCon trade confab in April. That effort hit a huge PR speed bump when several viewers said that they were unmoved by a 10-minute excerpt of the film in 48 fps. Carmike Cinemas’ Terrel Mayton said at the time that HFR “has to be a kick-the-picture-out (advancement) or it just becomes one of a long line of technology advances that’s here for a while and then move into oblivion.” Theater owners have to pay about $5,000 for a projector to handle HFR — first-generation digital ones can’t be upgraded. More recent projectors only require a software upgrade which can run $1,500. It can cost as much as $20,000 to make the change at an IMAX venue. Theaters also have to shell out more to store HFR prints than they do for conventional 24 fps digital films. Read More »
BREAKING: New Line has bought Spy Guys, an action comedy pitch to be scripted by Due Date scribe Adam Sztykiel. Jorma Taccone will direct and John Rickard will produce through his Rickard Pictures banner along with the Lonely Island Boys.
While attending a friend’s wedding in Europe, a CIA operative is framed and becomes an enemy of the state. Now on his own, he’s forced to reveal his true identity to his average Joe buddies to enlist their help. When they aid his escape, they become wanted as accomplices and must go on the run together to clear their names. This is a big fun movie in the along the lines of Ocean’s 11 meets Mission: Impossible, and the hope is that Taccone will attract a hot young ensemble cast. Taccone, who was part of the team responsible for all those SNL Digital Shorts, helmed MacGruber.
Rickard has a first look deal at New Line and is separately developing Rampage and Redemption for the studio. He is also an exec producer on Jack The Giant Killer and was a co-producer on Final Destination 5, Horrible Bosses, Hall Pass and A Nightmare On Elm Street. Michael Disco and Sam Brown will oversee Spy Guys for New Line.
Adam Sztykiel is repped by UTA and Kaplan/Perrone. Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer and Andy Samberg (The Lonely Island Boys) are repped by UTA and Mosaic.
Will Poulter has joined the cast of We’re The Millers. The actor joins Jennifer Aniston and SNL’s Jason Sudeikis in the film. Poulter, who starts shooting on the movie on July 18, plays “Kenny” a teen that Sudeikis’ character pretends is his son to use to help him smuggle drugs. Rawson Thurber directs the New Line comedy. Ed Helms also stars. Tucker Tooley, Vincent Newman, Happy Walters, and David Heyman are producing. The 19-year old Poulter starred in 2010’s The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader for Fox. The actor also recently appeared in the Dexter Fletcher-directed indie drama Wild Bill. Poulter is repped by WME and by Hamilton Hodell in the UK
EXCLUSIVE: The Break-Up scribe Jeremy Garelick has come aboard New Line’s reboot of the Police Academy franchise that launched in the 1980s and spanned seven films through the mid-’90s. The comedy, once again produced by Paul Maslansky, picks up the tale of a group of bumbling police recruits. David Diamond and David Weissman wrote the most recent draft.
Garelick, who did extensive rewrites on The Hangover, is separately rewriting Sick Day for Universal and Imagine. He’s attached to direct that film. Police Academy will be directed by Scott Zabielski, who’s making his feature debut after helming TV episodes that include Tosh.O. Garelick’s repped by UTA and Principato-Young, while Zabielski is repped by UTA and Underground.
EXCLUSIVE: In separate deals, 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin is reuniting with his To Rome With Love helmer Woody Allen, and his Rock Of Ages co-star Russell Brand. I’m told that Baldwin will be part of the cast of Allen’s next ensemble comedy, which he’ll shoot in San Francisco. Cate Blanchett and Bradley Cooper have also been rumored as participants.
Baldwin and Brand are reuniting to star in Man That Rocks The Cradle, a New Line comedy about an overworked husband and father who thinks he has found the solution to all his problems by importing a super-nanny he is told is a true kid whisperer. Turns out the live-in maid is a man. The film will be produced by Arnold and Anne Kopelson.
Man That Rocks The Cradle originated as a spec script by Josh Cagan and based on a story by Cagan and Rob McKittrick. New Line will get a writer to draft it for the actors, and a director.
It gives New Line an opportunity to make another film with Baldwin and Brand, who play club operators and sing duets in the ensemble cast of the Adam Shankman-directed Rock of Ages. Baldwin’s repped by CAA, Brand by WME.
EXCLUSIVE: New Line has reunited with Rock Of Ages team at Offspring Entertainment to option an untitled pitch that will do for Country & Western music what Rock of Ages did to 80s hair band anthems. The film will be scripted by Brandon Camp, whose credits include Love Happens and Dragonfly, and Offspring’s Adam Shankman and Jennifer Gibgot will produce. Shankman directed Rock of Ages, which New Line adapted from the Broadway show, and which Warner Bros releases June 15. Offspring president Matt Smith will be executive producer, and brought in the project.
Camp will write a Nicholas Sparks-esque love story in which the characters break into C&W standards from Taylor Swift to Johnny Cash. UTA reps Camp.
Longtime New Line Cinema marketing and publicity executive Tracy Lorie died last night of complications resulting from a brain tumor. Lorie was instrumental in Lord Of The Rings campaigns around the world and subsequently worked as a campaign strategist for Warner Bros. Lorie was named VP of international publicity at New Line in 2000 and was involved in strategies for all the company’s releases. Before joining New Line she had her own marketing company Blank Stare Productions. She also worked as a producer at Junket Productions handling interviews and other activity in support of movie campaigns. She also served as a marketing consultant to Fox and worked in publicity for MGM and United Artists. Survived by her husband Neil Sebba.
BREAKING: As Deadline revealed earlier today, F. Gary Gray is in final talks to helm Straight Outta Compton. That’s the New Line project that traces the formation of seminal hip hop group NWA, which launched careers including Eazy E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella. The group branded itself with volatile songs like Fuck tha Police and politically charges songs that reflected the growing ire of urban youth in the 1980s and set the tone for gangsta Los Angeles rap culture. The film was set up at New Line by Cube’s Cube Vision. Gray last directed Law Abiding Citizen, Be Cool and The Italian Job. He has also directed music videos for Ice Cube. Gray is repped by UTA and Principato-Young.
UPDATE: Am now being told by sources close to Jason Sudeikis that he’s more than circling the male lead as I reported below.
EXCLUSIVE: Jennifer Aniston is circling We’re The Millers, the New Line comedy about a pot dealer who pulls together a fake wife and two kids to pose as an RV road-tripping family so that he can smuggle 1000 pounds of pot cross country. Dodgeball‘s Rawson Thurber is directing. Aniston is in talks to play the fake wife, who’s actually a hooker. Her Horrible Bosses costar Jason Sudeikis is eying the role of the family patriarch (he’s the pot smuggler). The kids are juvenile delinquents. The raunchy comedy, described as a “warped Vacation,” has a script by Wedding Crashers scribes Bob Fisher & Steve Faber, and the film’s produced by David Heyman, Happy Walters, Vince Newman and Tucker Tooley, with Benderspink exec producing. Aniston is coming off Wanderlust, and she’s repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
She is separately attached to star in an an untitled comic heist thriller written and to be directed by Justin Theroux. Aniston, Theroux and Jerry Weintraub are producers. Aniston and Theroux became a couple after they worked together on Wanderlust.
EXCLUSIVE: Greg Erb and Jason Oremland have been hired to rewrite Cryptozoologists for New Line, with Beau Flynn of FlynnPictureCo producing along with Tripp Vinson.
Originally written by David Gilcreast, the film is in the vein of Men In Black meets Ghostbusters. When frequent sightings of storied mythological creatures start occurring around San Francisco, a skeptic professor and his estranged cryptozoologist brother must band together to save the city. Flynn most recently produced Journey 2: The Mysterious Island for New Line, a film that is closing in on the $300 million gross mark worldwide. Cyptozoologists also has franchise aspirations.
The scribes most recently adapted their graphic novel The Return Of King Doug for DreamWorks, with Ben Stiller attached and they were writers on the Oscar-nominated The Princess And The Frog for Disney. The scribes are repped by UTA, The Gotham Group and SMGSB.
EXCLUSIVE: New Line has acquired Pregnancy Pact, a comedy pitch that Sam Pitman and Adam Cole-Kelly will write for Red Hour Productions. The comedy follows three lifelong best friends who make an ill-conceived pact to get the women in their lives pregnant at the same time. Their goal is to avoid having to make friends with other new parents when their child is born. Instead, it tests their friendship and marriages. It’s considered a strong vehicle for three young actors, and already some are circling, though no one is attached yet. The project will be produced by Red Hour’s Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld. Erica Steinberg, who brought it in, will be exec producer. The writers, who first got on the map when their script The Diversification of Noah Miller made the Black List, are also rewriting a Russell Brand comic vehicle at Paramount, and they have just set up a pair of TV pilots. They are writing First Ones In for Jamie Tarses, Sony and CBS, and Ex-Laws for Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky and ABC Television Studios and ABC. The scribes are repped by WME and Management 360.
DreamWorks and Disney’s The Help and Fox’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes are the only two August releases that can be sure of making a profit, although New Line’s Final Destination 5 could make it over the line, according to the latest monthly estimate from SNL Kagan. The financial analysis firm makes its projections based on a ratio that compares a film’s estimated revenue from all sources to the costs that Kagan can calculate — which don’t include distribution fees, overhead, interest, profit participation, and residuals. A movie with expected revenue 1.75 times higher than the known costs is projected to be a winner, while those with a ratio of at least 1.4 are on the bubble. The Help easily succeeds with a 3.09 ratio vs. Apes’ 2.49. Final Destination just barely makes the gray area with 1.43. But other major releases fall short including Focus Features’ The Debt (1.18), Sony’s Colombiana (1.06), and Dimension’s Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (0.97). The biggest disappointments by Kagan’s calculations are Disney’s Fright Night (0.44), Fox’s Glee The 3D Concert Movie (0.44), Lionsgate’s Conan the Barbarian (0.48), Universal’s The Change-Up (0.67), and FilmDistrict’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (0.71). Overall, last month’s 14 releases had an average ratio of 1.24, slightly below the 1.25 for 12 films released in August 2010 and 1.45 for the 14 films in August 2009.
EXCLUSIVE: If eye patch-wearing antihero Snake Plissken is going to slither in a reboot, it won’t be at New Line and Warner Bros. They’ve allowed the option to drop on a remake they’ve been developing, meaning that the reboot of the John Carpenter-directed 1981 classic is up for grabs. The original starred Kurt Russell as Snake, a tough convict dropped into a futuristic New York that has been turned into a post-apocalyptic maximum security prison. He’s charged with rescuing the president (Donald Pleasence), who is held hostage by the prison kingpin (Isaac Hayes) after his plane within the city walls. Snake’s offered a pardon if he’s successful, but fitted with a lethal device that will kill him if he tries to run or misses the deadline. New Line and producer Neal Moritz have been working on the reboot, most recently with The Crazies helmer Breck Eisner attached to direct, and a script by writers that include Allan Loeb and X-Men: First Class scribe Jamie Moss. There have been rumors of interest from Gerard Butler and Jeremy Renner. Those guys were never confirmed and more recently there was word the studio courted Tom Hardy, whose work in Inception, Warrior and the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises has made him a go-to guy for tough man work. Eisner and Moritz are also working on Flash Gordon, and Eisner also is attached to The Last Witch Hunter at Summit.
UPDATE: Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson have formally announced their split and issued this statement: “We have nothing but love and respect for each other, and our decision to pursue our own separate paths after 10 amazing years together is not an easy one,” Flynn and Vinson said. “But we have reached the stage where it is time to embrace new challenges and make films on our own. This isn’t goodbye since we will be working together on many projects that will be reaching the marketplace soon. And while we can look back at a lot of success we’ve had together, we are also excited to be looking ahead to the next chapter.”
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE: Contrafilm partners Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson are splitting after a decade together. The move comes as their first-look deal at New Line is expiring. Contrafilm will be frozen as a holding company for the projects they developed together that they will continue to move forward. They tell me the split is amicable, but after two years of whirlwind projects, they took stock and decided it was a good time go solo. Each will form his own new company over the summer and both will concentrate on making mainstream commercial fare.
The move comes after Contrafilm wrapped four films: the MGM remake of Red Dawn with Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck and Josh Hutcherson; the Anna Faris and Chris Evans comedy What’s Your Number? at New … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: New Line has set Don Scardino to make his feature debut directing Steve Carell in Burt Wonderstone, the comedy that will begin production in October in Los Angeles. Carell plays a magic man dethroned by a hip younger illusionist and then must find a way to rediscover his love for magic. Scardino is best known for directing the hit NBC sitcom 30 Rock.
The script was written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, the writers of another New Line comedy, Horrible Bosses, with story by Tyler Mitchell and Chad Kultgen. Carell and his Carousel partners Vance DeGeneres and Charlie Hartsock are producing with Mitchell, Chris Bender and JC Spink.
Now that Scardino is in the fold, they will quickly set the rival magician.
New Line Cinema, launched by Bob Shaye in 1967 from his Greenwich Village apartment, has cut its final tie to New York. The company, which moved most of its operation to Hollywood in the 1990s, has let go the last of its Gotham-based staff. That was production vice president Merideth Finn, who was among the layoffs last month in the downsizing that was mandated by Warner Bros. She just sent out a farewell memo, as today was her last day. Even though Finn was the Last of the Mohicans as a Gotham-based New Line exec, it still marks the end of what was, for a long time, one of the preeminent New York companies.
EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that New Line closed a deal Friday night for The Watching Hour, a horror film written by Carey and Shane Van Dyke that will be produced by Mary Parent and Michael Connolly of Mad Hatter Entertainment. The spec’s described as a home invasion film, only with aliens. Still trying to get confirmation, but I’ve heard the writers are the grandsons of the great comic actor Dick Van Dyke. Paradigm brokered the deal.
Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro appear together in this weekend’s release of Limitless from Virgin/Relativity. So I decided to check on that other reteaming of Cooper and De Niro in the works for New Line, the heartfelt dramedy Honeymoon With Harry, with Jonathan Demme on board to direct. Well, it’s not in the works anymore because of the usual De Niro paralysis. I’ve learned that Demme recently dropped out because he grew frustrated with De Niro’s hemming and hawing about the project – even after Demme and Jenny Lumet (the same team that did the wonderful Rachel Getting Married) did a rewrite of the Paul Haggis script regularly featured on “best unmade” lists. I heard both New Line and Cooper loved the new version. But De Niro still balked.
“Demme basically said to Cooper, “De Niro will never do this. It’s a wild goose chase. Bradley, we should make this movie together,’” an insider explains to me. After circling the film since August, Jonathan was ready to go into pre-production. But Cooper “didn’t want to look disloyal by leaving De Niro on the side of the road”, another source tells me. When New Line couldn’t build a bridge between Demme and De Niro, Demme parted ways rather than “make the movie in a negative environment”. Now the pic is all but dead at New Line. Jeez, given how many lousy projects De Niro stars in these days, I find it surprising that the actor would balk at working on a movie with … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Deadline has learned that New Line will reduce its output from 8 movies a year to just 4. In addition, some of New Line’s personnel will be laid off in coming weeks. It’s all part of Warner Bros newly named movie boss Jeff Robinov plan to “downsize” the division. The mogul has been quite vocal on the need for Warner Bros to cut down on the total number of movies it releases and markets in order to be able to focus attention on its winners. Our sources say that New Line will still be freestanding — just smaller. There are no plans to exit President and COO Toby Emmerich. “But he may not like the new structure of the company and decide to move on,” an insider speculated. New Line was taken over by Warner Bros in 2008 after Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne were shown the door by Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes after a string of expensive box office failures: as many as 550 New Line staffers lost their jobs. Within the past two years, however, New Line’s movie slate has been performing well and adding to the diversity of the Warner Bros film product. In addition, New Line has the two back-to-back movies of The Hobbit in the pipeline, as well as the Bryan Singer-directed Jack The Giant Killer, the musical Rock Of Ages with Tom Cruise and Russell Brand, the spinoff on Valentine’s Day titled New Year’s Eve, the Seth Gordon-directed … Read More »