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2013 Most Valuable Blockbuster – #5 ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Vs. #12 ‘World War Z’; #4 ‘Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ Vs. #13 ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’

Mike Fleming

Hunger Games Catching Fire Hobbit Smaug ProfitThe second of four posts today in Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament. The subsequent rounds will play out next week.

Other Matchups:
#1 ‘Iron Man 3′ Vs. #16 ‘The Conjuring’
#2 ‘Frozen’ Vs. #15 ‘The Great Gatsby’
#3 ‘Despicable Me 2′ Vs. #14 Star Trek Into Darkness’
#6 ‘Fast & Furious 6′ Vs. #11 ‘The Croods’
#7 ‘Monsters University’ Vs. #10 ‘Thor: The Dark World’
#8 ‘Gravity’ Vs. #9 ‘Man Of Steel’





HungerGames-WWZHow They Got Here: Talk about two completely paths to success. When Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was released last Thanksgiving, the only question was how high Katniss Everdeen would soar. She didn’t disappoint, as the film blew past the holiday record for three-day and five-day totals, and it was just about as strong domestically as it was foreign. Contrast that to World War Z, the Marc Forster-directed Brad Pitt- survives-a-zombie-plague movie had all kinds of troubles during its production, and the last act of the movie got scrapped after it was shot because test audiences and Paramount Pictures didn’t like it. It was redrafted and reshot. That added $20 million or more to an already highWorldWarZ budget, but worse, the buzz around the film was that it was going to be awful. Surprise. The film’s ending worked very well, and the action shots of zombies collectively swarming over walls like insects made it the most visually compelling zombie film since Night Of The Living Dead. Is that enough to topple The Hunger Games sequel?

The Bottom Line: When it was released, many thought Catching Fire would burn long enough to surpass the billion-dollar gross mark. It didn’t come that close with an $864 million worldwide gross, but it did improve upon the first film’s tally, which is exactly what the second leg of a continuing story is supposed to do. Considering all its hardships, World War Z is lucky just to be in this tournament. Usually, when you hear a film is going to be a train wreck, it usually turns out to be just that. Catching Fire Box officeIt was laudable to see a studio be willing to pull a film out of a prime release slot, and throw more money into it to rescue it, even if naysayers questioned why it took everybody that long to realize it didn’t work and needed to be fixed. Paramount was happy enough with the results to put elements on a sequel, even if that became creatively complicated by the first film essentially solving the zombie problem.

The Winner: It’s Hunger Games in a walk. Our experts peg the World War Z budget around $269 million, though Paramount argues it was considerably less. Tack on another $160 million to market it, and Pitt’s first-dollar gross deal, and, according to our experts, this film barely broke even. You don’t invest $430 million to make and market a film just to break even, especially when it became the biggest opening of a film starring Pitt, and the biggest-grossing film in his career. Good luck on that sequel. Read More »

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IMAX Q1 Earnings Miss Forecasts Despite Strong Box Office Results

By | Thursday April 25, 2013 @ 5:40am PDT

The main culprit appears to be a drop in joint revenue sharing deals as IMAX installed four new theaters under these arrangements in Q1 vs eight in the same period last year. All told, the company reported net income of $2.9M, +14%, on revenues of $49.9M, -10.3%. Analysts expected revenues of $54.2M. And earnings per share, at 8 cents not including stock-based compensation and a one-time tax benefit, were a penny shy of the Street’s consensus forecast. Helped by films including Oz The Great And Powerful, the gross box office for IMAX’s digitally remastered films was $128.7M, +5.8%, generating Q1 revenues of $14.4M, +4.3%. The company has announced 28 titles that it will run this year but says it “remains in discussions with virtually every major studio” for additional releases with a plan to match last year’s 35. Summer films including Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Man Of Steel provide “a strong foundation for our full portfolio of films this year,” CEO Rich Gelfond says. The company had 738 theaters at the end of March, including 606 in commercial multiplexes, with plans to build or upgrade 283. The joint revenue sharing deals generated $9.4M in revenue in Q1, -19.7%. By targeting “underpenetrated international regions,” Gelfond says that IMAX will continue to promote itself as “a unique player in the global entertainment industry.”

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‘Oz The Great And Powerful’ Crosses $300M At Global Box Office

By | Thursday March 21, 2013 @ 3:37pm PDT

The Disney pic eclipsed the worldwide milestone yesterday, with the international cume now at $154.2M to go along with $152.9M domestic. Oz The Great And Powerful is likely to pass $175M on Sunday in North America, with spring break vacation and the Easter weekend still to come. Sam Raimi’s 3D fantasy crossed $100M in six days after its huge $80M+ domestic debut March 8 — the biggest opening of 2013 and the third-best March opening ever — and it held its No. 1 spot this past weekend with little in the way of competition for family eyeballs.

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#1 ‘Oz’ Holds For $281.8M Worldwide Cume; Halle Berry In #2 ‘The Call’ Beats Carell-Carrey In #3 Bomb ‘Burt Wonderstone’

SUNDAY 8 AM, 4TH UPDATE: Jetlagged from traveling but home at last. Let’s start with the domestic bad news because that’s what Hollywood craves. New Line’s The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (3,160 theaters) is a complete disaster despite no fresh comedy at the multiplex since Identity Thief opened five weeks ago. This is Warner Bros’ 5th straight box office dud, continuing what has been an abysmal beginning of the year. Despite Warner Bros’ Best Picture Oscar win for Ben Affleck’s Argo, the studio’s woes began with Gangster Squad in January and continued with Bullet To The Head and Beautiful Creatures through February, and festered with the $200 million flop Jack The Giant Slayer on March 1st. Now the studio is counting on May to deliver big grosses again with The Great Gatsby, The Hangover Part III, and the much anticipated Man Of Steel. Any hope for an upside because of the casting of Steve Carell and Jim Carrey (who’s in the Witness Protection Program in the trailers) is gone even with a modest $32M production budget. Those stars should have delivered at least a $20M if not $30M opening. Instead their pic only maxed $10.3M for its first weekend after grossing only $3.7M Friday and $4.1M Saturday. And, remember, that includes 1,800 Thursday late shows, too. Even worse, pic scored a ‘C+’ CinemaScore which will hurt word of … Read More »

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Next Disney Fairy Tale Blockbuster? How About ‘Trance’ Scribe Joe Ahearne Reimagining ‘Beauty And The Beast?’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Hot on the heels of another splashy revisionist fairy tale opening in Oz The Great and Powerful, Disney is in talks with UK-based writer Joe Ahearne to reinvent its Beauty And The Beast franchise. Ahearne most recently scripted Trance, the film that Danny Boyle directed and then completed between his production of the Opening Ceremonies of the last Summer Olympics in London. This will be live action, and most certainly 3D.

Disney is calling this film The Beast, and considering the subject matter of Trance – an art auctioneer is pummeled so badly by his criminal cohorts that a hypnotherapist is needed to coax out the memories of where he hid a priceless painting — indicates that this revisionist take on Beauty and the Beast could be a bit on the dark side.

The film will be produced by Mandeville’s David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman and Disney’s LouAnne Brickhouse will steer the project. Ahearne is repped by Resolution and United Agents in the UK. He’s managed by Thruline and Principal Entertainment.

I thought Hollywood’s infatuation with public domain fairy tales would have abated by now, because they are running out of good titles. I figured they’d be looking at limericks by now, with development titles like There Once Was A Man From Nantucket and There Once Was A Read More »

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‘Oz’ Wizardry Powers Great $150.2M Global: $80.3M Domestic Is 2013′s First Huge Weekend And Third Highest March Debut

By | Sunday March 10, 2013 @ 7:30am PDT

Box Office WeekendSUNDAY AM, 6TH UPDATE Disney‘s 3D wizardry Oz The Great And Powerful was magic for the U.S. and Canadian box office just like advance tracking showed it would be. Little wonder that the studio has gone into development of a first sequel and expects this new franchise to spin off not just films but mucho merchandising and park attractions for years to come. All after naysayers said no one could mess with a classic like The Wizard Of Oz. The $215M-costing Sam Raimi-directed fantasy was by far the biggest domestic film debut of what has been a disappointing 2013 start for Hollywood pics and opened to the third biggest March. It scored an $80.3M domestic debut – it isn’t even a holiday weekend. Overseas it made a good but not great $69.9M but that’s still a giant $150.2M worldwide. Reviews were lukewarm but a “B+” CinemaScore from audiences helped word of mouth so domestic grosses increased +25% from Friday to Saturday’s $33M for the all-important family fare bump. And that’s even with Friday’s $24.1M including $2 million from select theaters in Thursday pre-midnights and Friday post-midnights. (Friday’s early matinees also were ahead of Universal’s megahit toon Lorax.) Sunday’s gross is an estimated $23.1M. Disney played live-action Oz in traditional 2D, as well as Disney Digital 3D, RealD 3D and IMAX 3D formats. Of all filmgoers, 3D formats drew 54% and 2D 46%. In North America, audience exit polling showed that moviegoers over 25 years old made up 55% while under 25 were 45%. Couples comprised 48%, families 35%, and teens 17%. Females outnumbered males 52% to 48%. The studio ensured its TV ads for PG-rated Oz were omnipresent as part of a $100M marketing spend and mirrored the colorful chaos of those for its 2010  Alice In Wonderland mega-hit. Oz even released the same weekend as Alice. But that Tim Burton pic offered not only worldwide star Johnny Depp but also one of the first truly rich 3D experiences and scored a $116 million domestic debut and went on to earn a superb $1 billion worldwide, making 2/3s of its money overseas. This Oz wizardry was less appealing with James Franco who struggles to open box office solo. Whether this pic earns back its hefty cost depends largely on overseas grosses - and I’ve been warning that the Land Of Oz is not the globally familiar place in literature Wonderland was and is.

Oz released day and date in 80% of the international marketplace. It began with Russia, Germany, Australia, Korea and Italy on Thursday, and then Friday expanded into a total 46 territories, including UK, Spain, Mexico, Japan, Brazil. Talent and filmmakers did a global press tour across 8 major markets which helped Russia become the lead market with $15M followed by the UK ($5.7M), Mexico ($5.1M), Australia ($5.0M), and Germany ($4.2M).

For IMAX, the domestic performance of Disney’s Oz delivered a robust $8.2M on 307 screens, second best for its March 3D titles. IMAX’s international box office on 135 screens hit $4Ml for the weekend, setting a new record for a March opening. The Fri-Sun result in Russia was a territory 3-day record of $1.4M (per screen of $50K). IMAX’s global weekend gross for Oz is an estimated $12.2M from 442 digital only screens, which is a second-best for a March opening (bested only by Alice In Wonderland‘s extraordinary performance in 2010)..

Meanwhile, FilmDistrict’s R-rated action thriller Dead Man Down also opened but to an anemic first weekend of $5.3M from 2,188 theaters. FilmDistrict acquired the U.S. rights from IM Global, Original Film, and Frequency Films for no minimum guarantee and had a P&A backstop. Marketed to an adult audience with a focus on urban and ethnic moviegoers, the film grossed on the low end of expectations. That despite the trailer debuting on Django Unchained and promos highlighting director Niels Arden Oplev who helmed the original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo also starring Noomi Rapace. This is yet another loser for Colin Farrell who continues to demonstrate he can’t open a movie. Pic was scripted by J.H. Wyman and earned a ‘B-’ CinemaScore from audiences who were 60% male and 40% female and 75% aged 25 and older.

So Oz faced no competition at this weekend’s cineplex, especially after Warner Bros’ Jack The Giant Slayer (another $200M budgetbuster) bombed last weekend and fell apart this one. And DreamWorks Animation’s family toon The Croods doesn’t open until March 22nd. Expectedly, the Disney marketing machine was in high gear for its witches/wizards and put together a really spectacular campaign that worked. Tracking services stayed steady in the weeks leading up to release with the pic expected to earn from the $70sM to $80sM even with box office down significantly since Christmas/New Year. A high-profile Super Bowl spot with Disney online homepage takeover, followed by digital takeovers on Moviefone, Fandango, IMDb, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) and presence in major broadcast events like the Academy Awards, Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, and Rose Parade did the trick. Trailers accompanied 2012 blockbusters while the world premiere was held February 13th at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood followed by international premieres in Tokyo, Moscow, London, and Paris. Talent and filmmakers were out in force in support of the film, with appearances across daytime and late-night, print media (10+ cover stories), an E! movie special that aired March 7, and exclusive screenings and special events including Comic-Con (featuring buzzed-about Hall H panel and footage debut), CinemaCon and Daytona 500 (with James Franco serving as Grand Marshal). And end-credit song “Almost Home” by Mariah Carey released February 19th via Island Def Jam while the music video directed by longtime Carey collaborator David LaChapelle debuted on American Idol. in terms of innovation, Google Chrome Experiment “Find Your Way to Oz” designed by Disney and Google created an immersive experience and included an unprecedented Google homepage takeover on February 7th. The “Journey to Oz” Balloon Tour, sponsored by HSN and IMAX, launched February 12 while Disney theme park integrations included an exclusive 8-minute 4D sneak peek of the film throughout March and a large-scale Oz garden with entry portal, carnival area, and Yellow Brick Road through May 19.

The pre-release pressure on Disney was enormous. First came months of bad buzz. Then Wall Street was understandably nervous about another movie costing $200 million. Some business media even wrote headlines like “Oz The Great And Powerful Could Be Disney’s Next John Carter Flop”. (Granted, tracking is less and less an accurate indicator of actual theatrical performance. But John Carter, which also cost $200M, only opened to $30.1M and made just $73M domestically all-in.) This weekend success for Oz cements director Raimi as the real deal when it comes to helming blockbusters. Read More »

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Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond, Episode 16

By | Thursday March 7, 2013 @ 3:49pm PST
Pete Hammond

In episode 16 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond, our Awards Columnist talks host David Bloom about Emperor and Oz The Great And Powerful, two big movies debuting this month with some year-end awards potential. They also look at the lingering Oscars controversy over which entertainment notables were left out of this year’s ceremony’s “In Memoriam” segment, and talk about the MTV Movie Awards, which have shifted schedule to adapt to a summer blockbuster season that starts well into spring. With the nomination of Oscar winners such as Daniel Day-Lewis, Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence and the lack of nominations for the last of the Twilight films, Pete says the MTV Movie Awards also appear to be moving upscale in their choices.

Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 16 (MP3 format)
Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 16 (MP4A format)
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Super Bowl Spot: ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’

By | Sunday February 3, 2013 @ 4:18pm PST

Disney’s Oz The Great And Powerful — the Land of Oz as seen by wizard Sam Raimi:

Watch this video on YouTube.

Related: Super Bowl XLVII To Air 6 Studio Film Ads

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Disney, Google Chrome Unveil ‘Oz’-Themed Next-Gen Web Experience

By | Wednesday January 30, 2013 @ 8:06pm PST

Oz Google ChromeChasing the tech-leaning male demographic ahead of its Super Bowl ad buy, Disney today unveiled their “Find Your Way To Oz” Google tie-in, a plugin-free, in-browser web experience linking the next advance in Google Chrome technology with the world of Oz: The Great And Powerful. Similar “Google Chrome Experiments” were built in collaboration with musicians like Arcade Fire and OK Go. The first-of-its-kind web development & film endeavor utilizes WebGL to create an interactive 3D environment without having to use additional plugins like Flash or Quicktime, allowing users to navigate scenes from Sam Raimi‘s Oz. Within the Oz web experience users can capture photos and video via webcam and see them instantly integrated into the experience using emerging WebRTC technology, and compose, save, and send audio files from within the browser using a Web Audio API — accessible tools Google execs hope the web development community will adopt in their own projects. Disney, meanwhile, will be happy to get their James Franco-Rachel Weisz-Michelle Williams fantasy adaptation in front of male eyeballs and splashed across Google Chrome leading up to the movie’s March 8 debut. The Google Chrome Oz Experiment debuts to the public on February 5 and contains a new sizzle clip from the film hidden within its interactive features.

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Hot Trailer: ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’

By | Monday January 28, 2013 @ 11:18am PST

Disney unveiled a special look at its Oz The Great And Powerful last night during the SAG Awards, part of a full-court press campaign ahead of the pic’s March 8 premiere. That push includes a separate tease for an ad that will play during the Super Bowl. Here’s the clip from last night — they’ve packed quite a bit into one minute and it’s the best look yet at the Sam Raimi movie:

Watch the video on YouTube

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UPDATE: SAG-AFTRA Responds To Michigan’s Right-To-Work Vote

By | Tuesday December 11, 2012 @ 8:00pm PST

UPDATE, 8 PM TUESDAY: Michigan’s governor tonight signed two so-called right-to-work bills passed by the state Legislature that allow workers in unionized workplaces to opt out of paying union dues if they wish. SAG-AFTRA strongly opposed the legislation and issued this statement in response:

“This legislation does nothing but require that unions provide full representational services to people who refuse to pay their fair share of the cost. It’s freeloading.”

PREVIOUS, 2:27 PM FRIDAY: Remember when Michigan was going to be the next go-to state for Hollywood productions, with choice incentives that included an almost 50% tax credit on TV and film projects? It lured native son Sam Raimi’s Disney pic Oz The Great And Powerful among others to film there. Now, economic realities have led to heavy caps that have watered down the credits (the anatomy of one Michigan studio’s downfall was nicely dissected this week in the NY Times), driving away Hollywood in the process. Now Hollywood’s biggest union SAG-AFTRA is drumming up support to fight bills passed this week in the state House and Senate that would make Michigan a right-to-work state. That would make it illegal for unions to collect dues from non-union workers and is seen by local governments as a business-friendly law — 23 other states have done the same thing. Obviously, unions like SAG-AFTRA feel otherwise. Here’s what the Hollywood guild has sent around, asking members to sign … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’

By | Wednesday November 14, 2012 @ 6:48am PST

Disney debuted the first trailer for Sam Raimi’s Oz The Great And Powerful back in July at Comic-Con. Today brings a new, longer look at the film that stars James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz. Based on the books by L. Frank Baum, the origin story centers on Oscar Diggs, a small-time circus magician of dubious ethics, who’s hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz. There, he meets three witches who aren’t so sure he’s the great wizard everyone has been expecting. The movie comes on March 8, 2013.

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Comic-Con: Disney Unveils ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’, ‘The Lone Ranger’, And More

Luke Y. Thompson is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of Comic-Con.

The Disney panel at Comic-Con offered the first trailers for Sam Raimi’s Oz The Great And Powerful and Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger. Raimi’s Oz impressed and revealed plot details. New trailer for Burton’s Frankenweenie looks pretty much as expected amd Wreck-It Ralph shows 10 minutes of videogame crossover fun.

Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick introduced the latest Frankenweenie trailer in 3D (the one that’s been everywhere online, but its mix of retro-Universal monster-style narration and black-and-white stop motion looked great on the big screen). When Tim Burton, who was on hand, was asked what informs his sense of comedy, he replied “Growing up in Burbank.” Here’s the Frankenweenie trailer:

There was also a funny clip was shown in which a foreign-accented, Vincent Price-like science teacher becomes, shall we say, excessively enthusiastic about describing the science behind a man being struck by lightning. This leads to all the kids in the classroom speculating about why the town is cursed with so much lightning: is it the creepy windmill? The souls of dead miners? Funny stuff, and stays securely in the ’50s B mold.

The second clip included a very cool 3D moment of stop-motion fish in a giant tank, as the Igor-like kid blackmails Victor into trying to revive a dead fish for him. They succeed, but it turns out to be invisible except for the skeleton. Igor promises not to … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’

By | Thursday July 12, 2012 @ 4:02pm PDT

Here’s the first trailer for Disney‘s Oz The Great And Powerful. The trailer screened today at Comic-Con along with one for The Lone Ranger that we’ll post as soon as it’s available. Directed by Sam Raimi and starring James Franco and Mila Kunis, Oz is slated to open March 8th next year:

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Oscar Winning Actresses Roberts, Theron, Jolie, Weisz Turn Evil To Boost Boxoffice Fortunes

Pete Hammond

Mirror Mirror may not have burned up the box office in its opening weekend. Its estimated $19 million made the family film a distant and weak third, but that won’t stop a trend among Oscar winning actresses from going evil. Not since Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Olivia DeHavilland and other multi-Oscared legends collectively turned to horror films in order to regain boxoffice clout in the early 60′s have we seen so many Oscar winning actresses decide bad is good for a career, at least as far as playing mean  queens and witches.

Taking a cue from the billion dollar success of Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland  which featured a hilarious turn by Oscar nominated Helena Bonham Carter as the  Red Queen, it seems a plethora of Academy Award winning female stars have jumped on the fairy tale evil bandwagon, perhaps in order to prove that Oscar also can still mean gold where it counts, at the boxoffice where none of this award-laden crop have been ‘the fairest of them all’ lately. Mirror Mirror’s conniving queen Julia Roberts is just the tip of the iceberg of this trend. Now with Charlize Theron in June’s Snow White And The Huntsman  , Angelina Jolie about to start Maleficent in a couple of months  and Rachel Weisz having wrapped playing the Wicked Witch Of The East in Oz The Great And Powerful, we have three other Oscar winners of the past decade jumping into the fray. It reminds me of the famous ad line for the 1949 melodrama Beyond The Forest:  “Nobody’s As Good As Bette Davis … Read More »

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Who Needs Comic-Con? Disney Reveals All At D23 Expo

Pete Hammond

Disney Announces Two New Pixar Films
Who needs Comic-Con when you can do it yourself?

That must be exactly what Disney is thinking as it continues its massive second annual Disney D23/ Expo, the “ultimate fan event” taking place all weekend long at the Anaheim Convention Center right next to Disneyland (the name refers to 1923, the year Walt Disney started his studio).  It’s an offshoot of the official Disney Fan Club and includes a ginormous exhibition center with every imaginable opportunity to buy Disneyana, numerous fan events and celebrity-sighting opps, and then there was today’s centerpiece: a near-three-hour preview of movies in the pipeline from Disney, Pixar and Marvel (which announced a partnership with the company in 2009 that is just now gearing up).

Call it “Mickey Con”. It’s all a bit overwhelming, so no wonder it takes three days just to get through it all. The event continues through the end of Sunday.

After his major presentation of the new Disney slate in the gargantuan arena in front of 4200 seemingly rabid fans (and a few more restrained press members), I caught up with Walt Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross in the Green Room for an exclusive interview in which he talked about the possibilities of a fifth Pirate.s of the Caribbean film as well as his first comments on the demise of  Pirates team Johnny Depp and Jerry Bruckheimer’s about-to-shoot Western The Lone Ranger, which Deadline’s Mike Fleming first reported had been dropped by Disney due to budgetary concerns on the pricey pic. When I asked Ross if there was anything new to report  he said, ”Nothing definitive. There is nothing new. I’m hoping to do it, I’m certainly hoping. I think it’s a compelling story and no one wants to work with Jerry and Johnny more than me, so we’ll see how it works.” And about the possibility of a fifth Pirates? The situation is obviously clouded with the Lone Ranger situation, but again he used the word “hopeful.” Read More »

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Zach Braff Joins ‘Oz: The Great & Powerful’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Zach Braff is in final talks to join Disney’s Oz: The Great and Powerful, the Sam Raimi-directed film for Disney. Braff will play the role of Frank, the loyal but under-appreciated assistant to Oz (James Franco), a charismatic circus magician who is treated as a powerful wizard after his balloon blows off course into Oz and the townsfolk want him to eradicate a Wicked Witch and bring peace. Mila Kunis will play the witch Theodora, Michelle Williams will play Glinda and Rachel Weisz will play Evanora. The pic starts shooting in July in Michigan, with Joe Roth, Josh Donen and Grant Curtis producing and Palek Patel exec producing. Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire wrote the script, with Disney releasing the 3D film March 8, 2013.

Braff takes the role after writing his first play, All New People, which opens off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theatre with opening night July 25. Braff is also starring in the Tribeca Films feature High Cost of Living. He’s repped by CAA and Management 360.

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Disney Sets ‘Oz: The Great And Powerful’ For March 8, 2013

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Disney has staked out the weekend of March 8, 2013 to release the Sam Raimi-directed 3D Oz: The Great and Powerful. The film is still casting, but James Franco stars as the title character, with Mila Kunis playing Theodora, Michelle Williams in talks to play Glinda and Rachel Weisz in talks to play Evanora. The film begins production late July in Michigan. Franco plays the charlatan circus magician whose balloon is blown off course. It lands in Oz, where he’s treated as a real wizard by the colorful citizens who see him as the man to rid the lands of a wicked witch. Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire wrote the script, and Joe Roth is producing. Josh Donen and Grant Curtis are also producing and Palak Patel is exec producer.

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James Franco Closing Disney Deal For ‘Oz: The Great And Powerful’

Mike Fleming

While James Franco and Anne Hathaway have been busy pulling it together to host Sunday’s Oscarcast, Franco’s CAA reps and Disney have closed his deal to play the title role in Oz: The Great and Powerful. That puts the film on track to begin production in July, with Franco reuniting with his Spider-Man director Sam Raimi in the prequel to the L. Frank Baum novel that was scripted by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire. Joe Roth is producing.

There had been much discussion around town lately about Disney’s gyrations in trying to pare the budget of the film down to a mere $200 million, but they must have figured it out if they locked in Franco. For Franco, the multi-tasking marvel’s dance card for 2011 now looks like this: he’ll first star in the Noah Baumbach-directed While We’re Young, and then will shoot Oz. That brings him to the late fall/winter, when he’ll star in Sweet Bird of Youth, the David Cromer-directed revival of the Tennessee Williams play that will be produced by Scott Rudin. Kidman will play Alexandra Del Lago, the aging voracious movie star, while Franco will play her gigolo paramour Chance Wayne. While Franco has starred in eclectic indies and is even a recurring soap opera star, he has event film experience from the Spider-Man films with Raimi, and stars this fall in Fox’s Planet of the Apes prequel Rise of the Apes. Still, this is a … Read More »

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