The companies got into trouble after they ran ads for FilmDistrict‘s 2013 thriller Olympus Has Fallen that include the distinctive Emergency Alert System warning sounds, the FCC says today as it proposed what it calls the largest ever penalties for its misuse (watch the ad below). Viacom will be hit hardest with a $1.12M fine for airing the ad 108 times over five days on Spike, VH1, MTV, Comedy Central, MTV2, Centric, and BET. NBCUniversal will have to cough up $530,000 for running the ad 38 times over six days on Syfy, USA, and five regional sports networks. And ESPN follows with $280,000 for running the ad 13 times over four days on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNEWS. “The FCC has long prohibited the transmission of actual or simulated EAS Attention Signals or tones in circumstances other than a real alert or an authorized test of the EAS system,” the FCC says. The cable companies said that the rules don’t apply to them because they don’t participate in the EAS program, the FCC notice notes.
2013′s White House action hit Olympus Has Fallen will be sequelized as NuImage/Millennium Films bring returning stars Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, and Morgan Freeman to London. This time around POTUS (Eckhart) and his trusted Secret Service bodyguard Mike Banning (Butler) plus an English MI6 agent are the only ones who can stop a plot to take down London during the Prime Minister’s funeral. Angela Bassett and Radha Mitchell also reprise their roles in London Has Fallen as the director of the Secret Service and Mike’s wife, respectively, while Freeman is back as Senator Allan Trumbull. The project is out to directors. Butler, Alan Siegel, Mark Gill, Matt O’Toole, and Danny Lerner are producing. Avi Lerner, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson, John Thompson, and Christine Crow are exec producing. Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger, who scripted the first Fallen flick, will write the sequel. Filming begins in May in London, and the pic will be offered at AFM.
#1 ‘The Croods’ Toons Up $108M Globally, #2 ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ Rises To $30.5M, Tina Fey & Paul Rudd Soft In ‘Admission’
SUNDAY 9:30 AM, 7TH UPDATE: Distributor Twentieth Century Fox is reporting that DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods made $63.3 million internationally — including $16 million from overseas previews the weekend before – for a worldwide cume of $108 million. Toon was playing on 11,870 screens in 47 markets and 86 countries representing 60% of the International marketplace. It was a confirmed #1 opening in 44 markets. Top market weekend Highlights included:
Russia: US$12.9M, including previews, from 2,166 screens. #1 in the market. 74% from 3D. Industry biggest non-franchise animated opening in Russia. Mexico: US$9.5M, including previews, from 1,911 screens. #1 in the market. 40% from 3D. Industry biggest non-franchise animated opening in Mexico. United Kingdom: US$8.3M, including previews, from 1,100 screens. #1 in the market. 45% from 3D. Germany: US$4.3M, including previews, from 986 screens. #1 in the market. 78% from 3D. Brazil: US$4.2M, including previews, from 674 screens. #1 in the market. 72% from 3D. Industry 2nd highest non-franchise animated opening in Brazil behind Rio. Spain: US$3.4M from 695 screens. #1 in the market. 20% from 3D. Italy: US$3.3M rom 788 screens. #1 in the market. 47% from 3D. Argentina: US$1.4M from 231 screens. #1 in the market. 60% from 3D. 3rd highest opening weekend ever for Fox in Argentina.
The Croods opens in 19 markets next weekend, including Australia, Belgium and Holland, followed by 3 markets (including Taiwan) the weekend of April 4, and then 3 more markets (including France) the weekend of April 12. School holidays start this week and next in many international markets.
SUNDAY 9:15 AM, 6TH UPDATE: (Top Ten list below) It shaped up as a hot weekend with an extra-strength Saturday and 3 films scoring $20M-plus this weekend. An estimated 13% of K-12 were on school break for the start of the Passover/Easter holidays so family fare ruled. Specifically, DreamWorks Animation‘s PG pre-historic newcomer The Croods (4,046 theaters, including over 3,000 in 3D) led the domestic box office with the widest release. It grossed $11.6M Friday and went up +67% because of the Saturday kiddue bump to $18.9M and an estimated $14.1M for a $44.7M weekend opening. Exit polling showed domestic demos were 57% female and 55% aged 25 and up. Its ‘A’ CinemaScore from audiences obviously helped word of mouth despite only 64% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes endangering its multiple. Pic cost $135M. Rival studios point out this is one of the softest of March openers from DreamWorks Animation and believe it could max out around $155M domestic. (2010′s How To Train Your Dragon also debuted to $43M and went on to make $217M all in - but its reviews were 98% positive.) Fact is that in recent years DWA’s films are badly trailing Pixar’s in terms of domestic openings and multiples – and Wall Street is taking note and depressing the share price of this publicly held company. (Katzenberg should blame himself: he personally lobbied theaters to drive up the price of 3D tickets beyond what parents are willing to pay now after the technology’s novelty wore off.) Distributor Twentieth Century Fox claims this is a “strong opening” for a non-sequel animated film and believe The Croods will really toon up for the next two weeks when kids are on vacation everywhere. Then again, this is the first DWA release by Fox after Jeffrey Katzenberg switched distribution from Paramount so all the execs are relentlessly upbeat. “Terrific opening for DreamWorks Animation/Fox and the beginning of a great partnership,” one suit gushed. Film isn’t exactly The Flintstones in terms of comedic campiness for animation, but TV ads succeeded in making this pic look pleasantly palatable to parents and kids. Directed by Chris Sanders & Kirk DeMicco, and produced by Kristine Belson and Jane Hartwell, voice cast includes Nic Cage, Emma Stone, and Ryan Reynolds none of whom are considered marquee names these days. About 25 overseas markets opened for previews last weekend but only 5 of the top markets (UK, Russia, Germany, Brazil, Mexico). Rival studios claim it’s telling that Fox kept the grosses quiet. But the studio says The Croods will add a big number this weekend to the $16M already in the international till.
Peter Schlessel’s FilmDistrict enjoyed its biggest distribution opening yet with #2 Antoine Fuqua’s R-rated action thriller Olympus Has Fallen (3,098 theaters). It grossed $10M Friday and $12.8M Saturday for $30.5M its first weekend. Pic scored an ‘A-’ with audiences which helped word of mouth. That’s a relief because the movie’s cost of $70M is one of the bigger budgets this small indiefilm company has ever released. Exit polling showed 53% male vs. 47% female, 73% aged 25 years and older. Plot of the White House takeover by terrorists is newly plausible considering sequester spending cuts meant the U.S. government couldn’t even afford White House tours anymore because of Secret Service staff shortages. No surprise that the film did publicity at the recent CPAC convention for conservative politicos. FilmDistrict acquired distrib rights from Avi Lerner’s Millennium Films which produced and financed. The film was tracking strongest with males ages 18-plus and overperformed its expected high teens. Director and producer Fuqua with Mark Gill assembled a solid cast of Gerard Butler (who also produced and desperately needed a box office hit), Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Ashley Judd, Robert Forster and Rick Yune for the script by credited writers Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt.
Disney’s holdover Oz The Great And Powerful (3,805 theaters) is still going strong at #3 with $5.7M Friday and a +80% Saturday kiddie bump of $10.2M for another $23M weekend and $178.5M cume. And #4 is Sony/TriStar’s holdover pickup The Call (2,507 theaters) with $8.7M weekend (-48% from a week ago) and $30.9M cume.
Right now for #5 is Focus Features’ Tina Fey/Paul Rudd new low-budget comedy Admission (2,160 theaters) which grossed $2M Friday and $2.7M Saturday for as soft as $6.4M this weekend. Audiences gave it a mediocre ‘B-’ CinemaScore which didn’t help. Exit polling showed the audience skewed older (47% over age 50, 63% over age 35) and 68% female and 81% Causasian and 63% college graduates. Oh, Tina, Tina, Tina. You’re the funniest woman on the small screen in my opinion. But Red States may be holding a grudge over your SNL Sarah Palin impressions. And surely you can do better on the big screen than pairing with Paul since he’s box office poison. Pic underperformed studio expectations and barely met the low end of tracking. Even Focus admits grosses are soft despite its middling release and modest $13M cost. Because it’s a $30M-plus P&A pricetag just to open any pic these days. Focus saw a weekend that not only starts the waiting period for college acceptance letters but also had few moviegoing options for adult females aged 25+. ”There is also an opportunity to play well through the next few weekends as the older end of our female target 35+ also tends to patronize films in the 2nd and 3rd weeks of release,” a Focus exec told me. Hard to believe this convoluted script based on the Jean Hanff Korelitz novel adapted by credited screenwriter Karen Croner was so clumsily directed by one of my favorites, Oscar nominee Paul Weitz (About A Boy, In Good Company) who also produced. Low-brow TV ads didn’t help the pic any by failing to hint at moments of poignancy no matter how misplaced. Meanwhile Fey, Weitz, and everything else about the film were tagged with poor reviews.
And #6 is A24′s Spring Breakers (1,104 theaters) in expanded but still small release. Quirky yet iconoclastic writer and director Harmony Korine’s R-rated hallucinatory dramedy stars James Franco with Disney/ABC Family princesses trying to shed their virginal images - Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and Vanessa Hudgens – all with Korine’s wife Rachel hellbent on a Florida vacation to the dark side. It scored the top limited opening of 2013 last weekend based on per screen averages from 3 theaters in NYC and LA. But it’s no arthouse film nor Beach Blanket Bingo. Instead this cheaply made ($4M cost) seamy sexploitation encouraging drinking and drugs and violence is from the distribution outfit backed by Guggenheim Partners which owns The Hollywood Reporter and made sure the celebrity sheet cravenly hyped every angle of the lurid film and its cast and their SXSW appearance and theatrical opening. A24 acquired domestic rights from Annapurna Pictures whose Megan Ellison tellingly didn’t take a producer credit. (Was she too embarrassed?)
The weekend is way down (-33%) from last year because the Top Ten total won’t even equal the $152.5M opening of The Hunger Games. Based on weekend estimates:
Listen to (and share) episode 18 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Our awards columnist and host David Bloom discuss Hollywood in the age of conglomerates; TV with a conscience and this week’s notable films, including The Croods, Olympus Has Fallen, Admission and Starbuck. Pete also talks about Mad Men, whose Season 6 premiere party he attended, what to expect from this season, and what the show’s Emmy prospects this year might be.
Twitter‘s new Vine app has buzz in the microblogging platform since being introduced in January. Now FilmDistrict is using the looping video tool to promote their March 22 actioner Olympus Has Fallen. Oscilloscope led the way last month by cheekily announcing they were releasing their indie It’s A Disaster in 6-second chunks on the app: “It was so clear to us that six-second loops of video, edited in-phone, and posted in real time was and will be the future of film distribution”, quipped a studio press release. FilmDistrict’s approach is more straightforward. Fans are encouraged to upload ’6-Second Video Review’ of the Gerard Butler-starrer to Vine which are then culled online at Olympus6SecReviews.com. With the White House action-thriller hitting theaters this week, the distributor’s been folding nontraditional marketing methods into its campaign, including
The first trailer has dropped for Olympus Has Fallen. Directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman, Olympus Has Fallen has a storyline very similar to White House Down, the Sony Pictures film that stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, with Roland Emmerich directing. Both are Die Hard-in-the-White House-style dramas where the building is overtaken by terrorists and it’s up to a Secret Service agent to save the president. Olympus Has Fallen is slated for a March 22 release.
BREAKING: Perhaps trying to create more space between competing movies, FilmDistrict has moved Olympus Has Fallen to March 22. That film, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman, has a storyline very similar to White House Down, the Sony Pictures film that stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, with Roland Emmerich directing. Both are Die Hard-in-the-White House-style dramas where the the building is overtaken by terrorists and it’s up to a Secret Service agent to save the president. White House Down‘s current date is June 28, but let’s see if Sony changes that. It’s usually better to be first – Capote did much better than the similar-themed Infamous – but not always. Last year, after much jockeying, Relativity Media put its Snow White saga Mirror Mirror out first. Universal’s Snow White And The Huntsman did better, and a sequel script was just turned in.
FilmDistrict has acquired domestic distribution rights to the White House action thriller Olympus Has Fallen. The company will release the Millennium Films-produced movie April 5, 2013, in the U.S. This puts the picture ahead of Sony Pictures‘ similarly themed White House Down; that Roland Emmerich-directed movie is scheduled to come out June 28, 2013. In Olympus Has Fallen, Gerard Butler plays a Secret Service agent who tries to stop a takeover of the White House. Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett and Aaron Eckhart as the president also star. Antoine Fuqua is directing. Mark Gill, Alan Siegel and Butler are producing. Millennium’s Avi Lerner and Trevor Short are executive producing along with Danny Dimbort, Boaz Davidson, John Thompson and Heidi Jo Markel.
BREAKING: Sony Pictures is moving its Roland Emmerich-directed White House Down from November 1, 2013 to June 28, 2013. Sony has put its film right in the heat of the summer, and clearly the studio is trying to get ahead of Olympus Has Fallen, the Antoine Fuqua-directed thriller that Millennium Films has already in production. That film doesn’t have a date yet. Both films have been described as Die Hard in the White House. White House Down stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, while Olympus Has Fallen stars Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart. The last time two distributors went at it with similarly themed projects that switched release dates was Universal’s Snow White And The Huntsman and Relativity’s Mirror Mirror. Nobody wants to be second, but in that case, Huntsman came later and fared better at the box office.
EXCLUSIVE: Radha Mitchell has joined the cast of Olympus Has Fallen. The actress will play “Leah” the wife of Gerard Butler‘s Secret Service character in the White House thriller. Mitchell, who starts filming next week in Shreveport, Louisiana, joins Butler, Angela Bassett and Aaron Eckhart in the film. Olympus Has Fallen sees the president, played by Eckhart, and key members of his administration taken hostage. Butler’s character tries to stop the terrorist plot. Antoine Fuqua is directing. Mark Gill, Alan Siegel and Butler are producing the Millennium Films project. Avi Lerner and Trevor Short are executive producing. Mitchell also plays the lead in ABC’s new drama series Red Widow. (see the trailer here) Based on an Dutch series, Red Widow is about a woman pulled back into her family’s criminal past. The show, written and executive produced by The Twilight Saga screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg and produced by ABC Studios, starts filming its season in Vancouver in August. Radha Mitchell is repped by ICM Partners and managed by Rick Ax.
Angela Bassett will play Secret Service director Lynne Jacobs in Olympus Has Fallen. She joins Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart in the White House action drama. Olympus Has Fallen sees the president (Eckhart) and key members of his administration taken hostage, and a Secret Service agent (Butler) tries to stop the plot. Antoine Fuqua is directing. Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt wrote the script. Mark Gill, Alan Siegel and Butler are producing the Millennium Films project. Avi Lerner and Trevor Short are executive producing. The film begins shooting early next month. Bassett is repped by Gersh and Lighthouse Entertainment.
BREAKING… Antoine Fuqua has been offered Olympus Has Fallen, the White House takeover script by Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedikt that Gerry Butler will star in for Avi Lerner’s Millennium. Fuqua is thinking it over, but he’s mulling numerous other jobs too, including Chicagoland, a crime story for New Line with a script by Peter Morgan. He’ll also be in the mix for the 24 movie when that comes back around on Kiefer Sutherland’s next hiatus. Fuqua’s repped by CAA. There is a reason for Lerner to want to hurry, after Roland Emmerich signed to direct a similar project, White House Down at Sony. Both are Die Hard At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and how many of those can you have?