Universal Pictures International has enjoyed a record-breaking 2013, notching $1.8 billion internationally, which breaks the studio’s previous record of $1.794 billion from 2012. That makes this the biggest year in UPI’s history with 14 scheduled releases to go including three wide releases. The banner year was built on global hits Les Miserables ($293M), Fast & Furious 6 ($544.4M), and Despicable Me 2 ($410M) while smaller openers like Latin hit Mama ($75.9M) and the Tom Cruise-fronted Oblivion ($197.1M) added to the bounty. Franchise sequels Fast & Furious 6 and Despicable Me 2 are currently the second and third highest grossing films internationally and worldwide. The latter is the highest-grossing animated pic of 2013 and opened at #1 in 41 territories, notching the highest grosses of all time in 15 of those territories. Uni’s supercharged Fast & Furious sequel meanwhile opened at #1 in 65 territories and earned the studio’s biggest openings of all time in 41 of them; it’s also their second highest-grossing pic in studio history behind only Jurassic Park.
SATURDAY 7:30 AM, 3RD UPDATE: Americans last night did stay glued to their TVs watching the network wrapups about the Boston Marathon manhunt and its captures and killings. (The Boston area itself was on a citywide lockdown most of Friday but only accounts for 1% of total moviegoing in the U.S.) So numbers came in slightly lower for Universal’s 2D scifi film Oblivion starring Tom Cruise and based on an original script but also on derivative storylines from no less than 4 scripters (Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski as well as William Monahan, Karl Gajdusek, and Michael Arndt). Friday grossed $13.3M in 3,782 theaters including large format and IMAX with no other new major release as competition. Even with only a ‘B-’ CinemaScore from audiences possibly hurting word of mouth, it’s predicted to open with an overperforming $38.5M this weekend. That includes the Thursday late shows and Friday midnights which together made an estimated $1,103,839 start from 1,741 venues. (Hard to talk about comps because the sneaky studios keep starting their weekend previews earlier and earlier and then fold in those Thursday/Friday totals to pad first-day numbers.)
Listen to (and share) episode 22 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Our awards columnist and host David Bloom talk about the notable films showcased by all the major studios at this week’s CinemaCon; Pete’s take on the just-announced lineup for next month’s Cannes Film Festival; and his take on the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences’ rehiring this week of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron as producers of the 86th Annual Academy Awards.
Theater owners and operators I’ve polled at CinemaCon are most uncertain about Tom Cruise‘s Oblivion opening Friday. They’ve seen the early strong overseas grosses. But stateside exhibitors lament that their audiences don’t widely go for original sci-fi, and they’re skeptical about Cruise’s domestic drawing power in the Universal pic. “It didn’t move me,” one exhibitor told me who’d seen the film. “I’d rather see Oblivion – with someone else starring,” said another. As for summer pics Sony/Columbia’s Will Smith-starrer After Earth has no buzz here – but the studio could change that with its Wednesday panel. Exhibitors expect huge demand for Marvel’s Iron Man 3 despite the ticketing dispute which Deadline broke today between Disney and some chains. Paramount’s Star Trek Into Darkness footage wowed the CinemaCon crowd yesterday. They’re also high on WB’s Man Of Steel. But only one summer pic had the unanimous vote: Universal’s Fast & Furious 6. Overseas exhibitors in particular are expecting huge results based on the franchise’s popularity and the diverse multicultural cast which appeals in foreign markets. For family fare, exhibitors are banking on Universal’s Despicable Me 2 to hit big. But Pixar’s Monsters University has theater operators disagreeing due to the lackluster interest in the Monsters Inc 3D re-release last Christmas.
The global superstar proved his dedication to the Oblivion campaign trail with a game of “Egg Roulette” Friday on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. It won’t be the only egg on Cruise’s face if domestic box office fails to follow Oblivion‘s stellar global headstart when Universal’s pic debuts, virtually unchallenged, this week:
Reviews are decidedly mixed. And domestic grosses still could portend an obit. But Tom Cruise in his new scifi pic Oblivion is in orbit overseas with a #1 opening in 48 of 52 international territories this weekend. Friday’s gross is an estimated $13.1M at 7,464 dates for an early total of $23.1M and a weekend estimate of $60.5M. That includes a record-breaking #1 opening in Russia with $1.5M, which is the biggest opening day of the year for a non-3D release. After 2 days, the box office total there is $3.2M for Cruise’s biggest opening ever in Russia. The movie is directed by TRON: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski who also produced with former News Corp #2 Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark who both oversaw Planet of the Apes. and Middle East markets and the results are outstanding. The main reason Universal cast Cruise is because he’s still a star internationally. Oblivion opens in the U.S. and Canada and 7 more international territories next weekend.
Listen to (and share) episode 21 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Our awards columnist and host David Bloom talk about the passing of Roger Ebert, perhaps the most influential film critic ever, and what it means to be a film critic in an era of Rotten Tomatoes, Reddit and Twitter. Pete also looks at what he thinks is a lock for the Cannes Film Festival, a film that will be vying for Emmy rather than Oscar glory, and reports on Tom Cruise’s premiere-night effort to help ensure the name of sci-fi epic Oblivion, opening overseas this weekend, doesn’t become the film’s fate. Pete also talks about this week’s movie debuts as the Jackie Robinson biopic 42 swings for the fences, and platform releases Disconnect and To The Wonder by director Terence Malick try to connect with audiences.
SXSW isn’t a sales-dominant fest, but two years ago Universal’s Bridesmaids debut here paid off when the Kristen Wiig pic became a $288 million global box office hit. Now studios with spring openers and genre fare are hoping SXSW can be a similar launching pad for strong word of mouth. Here are the mainstream pics hoping to squeeze hot buzz out of SXSW:
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Warner Bros.):
Director: Don Scardino, Story by Chad Kultgen & Tyler Mitchell and Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley. Screenplay by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley. Cast: Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde, Steve Buscemi. Warner Bros opens the Steve Carell – Jim Carrey magician comedy nationwide next week but the mixed critical reaction after its SXSW opening night premiere won’t help.
Evil Dead (Screen Gems):
Director/Screenwriter: Fede Alvarez, Screenwriter: Rodo Sayagues. Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore. Producer Sam Raimi’s fingerprints have been all over this quasi-remake, which was the hottest ticket in town on Day One. Raimi didn’t make the trip to Austin to stump for Evil Dead with director Fede Alvarez and fellow producer Bruce Campbell — he was busy opening Disney’s Oz: The Great And Powerful — but the gory R-rated remake made an impression on the late night genre crowd.
Related: Joss Whedon Q&A On Eve Of SXSW
EXCLUSIVE: The Tom Cruise sci-fi tentpole will now open in IMAX and in wide release on April 19. Universal had originally planned to sneak Oblivion in IMAX on April 12 but opted to push the pic a week to maximize its opening in a frame in which Open Roads’ jOBS is the only competition in wide release. Star Cruise will also have more time to promote the film overseas as it opens internationally in several territories on April 12. The move also give Universal’s April 5 opener Jurassic Park 3D an extra week on IMAX screens. The studio recently tweaked its summer slate when it shifted dates for 2 Guns and Kick-Ass 2 and announced that the Jeff Bridges-Ryan Reynolds starrer R.I.P.D. will be released in 3D.
Universal has dropped the second domestic trailer for Oblivion — the Tom Cruise sci-fi pic directed by Tron: Legacy‘s Joseph Kosinski. Cruise plays a drone repairman on an abandoned Earth who after rescuing a beautiful stranger from a downed spacecraft stumbles upon survivors of a devastating alien war. Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Melissa Leo, Zoe Bell and Andrea Riseborough co-star. Universal releases it April 12 in IMAX and April 19 wide.
Here’s an international trailer for Oblivion, the Tom Cruise sci-fi pic directed by Tron: Legacy‘s Joseph Kosinski. Cruise plays a drone repairman on an abandoned Earth who after rescuing a beautiful stranger from a downed spacecraft stumbles upon survivors of a devastating alien war. Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Melissa Leo, Zoe Bell and Andrea Riseborough co-star. Universal releases it April 12 in IMAX and April 19 wide. First impression: Why when we see Cruise’s character Jack Harper do we say in our heads Jack Reacher?
Universal has put up a new TV spot for Oblivion. The Joseph Kosinski-directed film stars Tom Cruise as one of the last humans on Earth after a devastating war with aliens. While he’s on duty as a roving drone repairman, he stumbles upon the survivor of a downed space craft. Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Melissa Leo, Zoe Bell and Andrea Riseborough costar. Oblivion launches with an exclusive IMAX run on April 12 and hits regular cinemas April 19.
Here’s Universal’s trailer for the Joseph Kosinski-directed Oblivion. It reveals quite a bit more than an international version that surfaced earlier today but has mysteriously vanished. The movie has Tom Cruise as one of the last people on an Earth ravaged by an alien war. Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko and Melissa Leo costar. It’s slated to open April 19th.
Universal Pictures has set dates for Mama and Rush and slightly shifted the Tom Cruise science-fiction adventure Oblivion. The supernatural thriller Mama “presented by Guillermo del Toro” and directed by Andres Muschietti has been dated January 18, 2013. It’s about two young girls who disappeared the day their mother was murdered but are subsequently rescued and taken in by a couple (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jessica Chastain) who sense an unseen evil presence. The Ron Howard-directed Formula 1 racing drama Rush, slated to open September 20, explores the real-life rivalry of James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brhl). Oblivion, directed by Joseph Kosinski and co-starring Coster-Waldau), has moved a week earlier to April 19, 2013 from April 26 with a special IMAX exclusive debut set for April 12.
EXCLUSIVE: Melissa Leo has been set for Oblivion, the Joseph Kosinski-directed futuristic Universal Pictures thriller that stars Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko. Production just got underway in Baton Rouge. Leo, who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Fighter, will next be seen in the Robert Zemeckis-directed Denzel Washington-starrer Flight, and she’s currently shooting the third season of HBO’s Treme. Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark are producing Oblivion with Barry Levine and Kosinski. Michael Arndt rewrote drafts by William Monahan and Karl Gajdusek. Leo’s repped by CAA and Untitled.
Universal Dates Original ‘Jurassic Park’ In 3D For July 19, 2013; Moves Tom Cruise Pic ‘Oblivion’ Up To April 26, 2013
BREAKING: Universal Pictures has confirmed the speculation that it is retrofitting Steven Spielberg’s original Jurassic Park into 3D. The studio has dated the film to bow Friday, July 19, 2013. Released in 1993, Jurassic Park grossed $915 million worldwide; I’ll bet the 3D re-release pushes it over the $1 billion gross mark. While it might merit an asterisk, the re-release would mark the first Spielberg-directed film to surpass that billion dollar mark.
At the same time, Universal has moved up the release of the Joseph Kosinski-directed Tom Cruise-starrer Oblivion to April 26, 2013. The picture, which just got underway in Baton Rouge, will be ready earlier than expected. It had originally been dated for release July 10, 2013. It become the second Cruise film this week to switch its release date, after the Paramount/Skydance adaptation of the Lee Child novel One Shot was placed into the Christmas 2012 slot.
EXCLUSIVE: Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has signed on to costar in director Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion for Universal. The sci-fi thriller, starring Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko, is set to begin production in March in Louisiana.
Based on Kosinski’s own graphic novel, the picture is set in a future where the Earth surface has been rendered uninhabitable, with most humans living above the clouds. Back on earth, those who remain have to deal with brutal alien Scavengers that stalk the ruins. But when a surface drone repairman (Cruise) discovers a mysterious woman in a crash-landed pod, it sets off an unstoppable chain of events that will force him to question everything he knows. Coster-Waldau will play Sykes, a battle-hardened, physically imposing, intelligent and extremely athletic military technology and weapons expert.
Coster-Waldau plays Jamie Lannister on HBO’s Game of Thrones, which returns for its second season on April 1st. He also starrd in the German production, Headhunters, which premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. He has also completed production on Mama, starring with Jessica Chastain, for producer Guillermo Del Toro and Universal. Coster-Waldau is repped by Impression Entertainment and WME.
EXCLUSIVE: Morgan Freeman will bring his regal presence to Oblivion, the Joseph Kosinski-directed film for Universal Pictures that stars Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko. Cruise plays the last man on a post-apocalyptic and nearly uninhabitable Earth, who stays behind to repair ships that hunt down and blast a virulent alien species. I haven’t yet been able to figure out what role Freeman will play, but I’m told it’s a critical part.
Michael Arndt is currently rewriting a script that had earlier drafts by William Monahan and Karl Gajdusek. Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark are producing through Chernin Entertainment along with Barry Levine and Kosinski. Jesse Berger and Dave Morrison are executive producers. Freeman’s last starring role in a Universal film was Wanted, and before that he twice played God in Bruce Almighty and the spinoff Evan Almighty. He’s repped by CAA and attorney Jason Sloane.
EXCLUSIVE: The hot role for young actresses is in Universal’s Joseph Kosinski-directed Tom Cruise science fiction film Oblivion. Jessica Chastain already signed on for one of two plum roles, and I’m told the studio will read three actresses for the other female lead this weekend in Pittsburgh. That is where Cruise is shooting One Shot, playing Jack Reacher in the Christopher McQuarrie-directed adaptation of the Lee Child novel series.
Captain America‘s Hayley Atwell, Inglourious Basterds’ Diane Kruger, and Kate Beckinsale have made it to the lightning round to play a mysterious young woman who crash-lands on earth much to the shock of Cruise’s character, a soldier who is one of the last men on the planet in a post-apocalyptic future where most of the population lives in clouds above an earth surface that has been rendered uninhabitable. Cruise’s character is alone as he repairs the drones that patrol and destroy a savage alien life form, until he encounters a beautiful woman who crashes in a craft, and their experience together forces him to question his world view.
Universal committed to finance and distribute the $100 million film last April, after Disney let it go because it didn’t fit the family film mold. The script by William Monahan got a rewrite from Karl Gajdusek. Kosinski hatched …