The Guillermo del Toro-directed robots vs. monsters movie may be doing monster box office in China, but an officer in the People’s Liberation Army is no fan. “Hollywood has always been the best American propaganda machine,” wrote Zhang Jieli late last week in a PLA Daily op-ed about Legendary Pictures-Warner Bros‘ Pacific Rim. The PLA Daily is an official China military publication. “The decisive battle against the monsters was deliberately set in South China Sea adjacent to Hong Kong,” Zhang wrote in the editorial, published Friday. “The intention was to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to maintaining stability in the Asia-Pacific area and saving the mankind,” he claims. The wide-ranging piece, which also cites Fox’s Ice Age and the James Bond movies, says that Pacific Rim and other blockbusters are pushing “American values and global strategies”. While sidestepping the fact that all non-domestic movies in China need government approval to be shown there, it urges the Chinese military to steel themselves against the Western influence. “Soldiers should sharpen their eyes and enforce a ‘firewall’ to avoid ideological erosion when watching American movies,” Zhang warned. “More importantly, they should strengthen their combat capability to safeguard national security and interests.” Game site Kotaku first reported the op-ed. Other state media organs such as Xinhau and the People’s Daily quickly picked up the PLA Daily article.
Universal has confirmed that Len Wiseman has dropped off Universal’s reboot of The Mummy franchise, which will get a new round of movies after the last reboot trilogy grossed north of $1.25 billion worldwide before running out of steam. Do we need another Mummy? I wouldn’t think so, but apparently we do need to reopen that sarcophagus, especially since studios are whiffing badly in attempts to create new intellectual properties. They instead seem bent on running tried and tested past successes into the ground.
Leaving The Mummy might be the best thing for Wiseman, a props man who got off to an impressive start as a director by launching the ambitious Underworld. He helped hatch that series, which added some real flourishes to the vampires and werewolves genre. Since then, Wiseman has gone through a succession of sequels (Live Free Or Die Hard) and remakes (Total Recall), becoming a symbol of a time where Hollywood studios place too little emphasis on originality and instead prize utterly familiar product studios hope might put up big global numbers. Wiseman needs an original movie, and fast.
Why does Hollywood go back to the well so often on tired retreads? Because, as this summer has proven, it’s damn near impossible to create new intellectual properties that are not based on bestselling book series with vast reading audiences like Twilight Saga or The Hunger Games. Some of this summer’s non-sequel misfires, like After Earth, The Lone Ranger and R.I.P.D., surely deserve to be one-offs. But even worthy, imaginative films like Pacific Rim have it rough. They get measured and dismissed quickly, not helped by the fact that press coverage has become reliant on imprecise tracking service estimates that give journalists a touchstone to dismiss movies even before anyone has seen them. Early low tracking on Pacific Rim fueled advance stories that the movie would be a flop, which it wasn’t. When The Wolverine‘s opening weekend didn’t match high advance tracking estimates, journalists bashed the movie (which is quite good), and not the faulty tracking services that overestimated the opening weekend numbers in the first place. Pacific Rim also wasn’t helped by a marketing campaign straight out of Transformers, and it wasn’t until too late that Warner Bros switched to spots that showed the movie had heart and wasn’t just a collision of robots and over-sized alien monsters from beneath the sea.
If there are two originals this summer worth sequel-izing, I would nominate Pacific Rim and World War Z. Despite being real crowd-pleasers, these will not be easy decisions because their high production budgets require each to do upwards of $400 million worldwide before serious sequel talk even begins. WWZ passed this threshold and is at $475 million, while Pac Rim is at $226 million but playing strong in Asian territories including China. All of this raises the currency of worn franchises like The Mummy. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has bragging rights today for distributing the Legendary Pictures 3D scifi actioner around the world after co-financing it. I’ve learned the studio discovered this morning that last weekend’s results came in $500K higher than forecast on … Read More »
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 9TH & 10TH UPDATE: The Top 3 order changed again this weekend. Holdover Despicable Me 2 is still #1 with around $44.7M beating newcomers Growns-Ups 2($42.5M for #2) and Pacific Rim($38.3M for #3). Universal’s and Illumination Entertainment’s 3D toon is #1 worldwide passing $400M global gross and $200M from North America. Warner Bros’ and Legendary Pictures’ mecha anime-inspired scifi battle was the only original newcomer fighting 2 sequels. Because of good reviews and CinemaScores, the hope is to “broaden out” the 3D film’s audience for the next four weeks of IMAX screenings. The $180-$220m costing pic’s worldwide cume is now $91.3M after opening in 50% of international territories this weekend. More later.
SATURDAY 10 AM, 8TH UPDATE: What a surprise Friday’s domestic box office turned out to be as Summer 2013 continues to sizzle. Total moviegoing this weekend is close to $200M which is a humongous +29% from last year. At first the three top films looked neck and neck throughout Friday. After predictions of possible disaster, Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures’ 3D Pacific Rim (3,275 theaters and 331 IMAX screens) seemed strong throughout the day but then “ran out of IMAX tix and pre-sales at last” according to an exec. It ended Friday #2 with $14.6M and an expected $37M weekend. With audiences giving it an ‘A-’ CinemaScore, the scifi winner-takes-all actioner may have an upside with word of mouth. Or else the hype just failed to hold. International is a big part of Pacific Rim‘s strategy day and date in 38 territories in a crowded marketplace with 9,700 screens including the Top 12 markets. But Sony Pictures/Happy Madison’s Growns-Ups 2 (3,491 theaters) wound up #1 Friday with a middle-of-the-road ‘B’ CinemaScore (same as the original) despite terrible reviews. Goes to show that this summer’s audiences are still starved for comedy. And that no one can count out Adam Sandler and his $80M ensemble or Jeff Blake’s strong marketing department. It made $16.3M for $42M, beating the first’s $14.4M/$40.5M. Internationally, Sony is releasing it day and date in just Spain and some small territories this weekend Germany next week, and then a wide rollout. But even though Universal’s and Illumination Entertainment’s global #1 holdover Despicable Me 2 placed #3 Friday, it must wait for the Saturday kiddie bump to see if it can land on top of the worldwide box office again. The 3D toon did $13.3M domestic Friday (-56%) and should end up $43M. Pic reached $404.6M at the worldwide box office today and crosses $200M later today after just one week in release. Film only cost a very reasonable $76M and has 18 more foreign territories to open over the next few months. Read More »
Guillermo del Toro must really like working with Robert Maillet. First he directed him in the soon-to-open Pacific Rim, and now the actor has snagged the role of the world-conquering vampire The Master in FX’s drama pilot … Read More »
Here’s the third and final trailer for Guillermo del Toro‘s Pacific Rim. This one sees Idris Elba‘s Stacker Pentecost enlist Charlie Hunnam’s washed-up pilot Raleigh Becket for a last-ditch attempt to save humanity. Becket will team with rookie Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) to steer … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Idris Elba, the talented star of Luther and The Wire who has been in play for the past couple months, has just signed with WME for all areas. This comes at a great time for Elba, … Read More »
“To fight monsters, we created monsters” – so goes the tagline for Guillermo del Toro’s summer tentpole for Warner Bros. A new 4-minute Pacific Rim featurette gives viewers a look inside the massive robots deployed to battle the kaijus that have emerged from the sea in the … Read More »
Next week is all about television upfront presentations in NYC. But National CineMedia and NCM Media Networks are holding a ‘cinema upfront’ event on May 15 featuring filmmaker Guillermo del Toro with never-before-seen footage from his Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros summer tentpole Pacific Rim. This ‘Bigger Picture’ presentation and lunch will … Read More »
It was Warner Bros Pictures’ turn for studio slate presentations at the CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas Tuesday and President of the Warner Bros Pictures Group Jeff Robinov unveiled the studio’s packed summer lineup with its familiar mix of comedy, horror, superheroes, monsters, and sequels. Robinov looked to the future and thanked all the studio’s partners: New Line, Legendary, Village Roadshow, Alcon, and MGM (on the Hobbit trilogy). He also thanked his new boss Kevin Tsujihara who won the job of Chief Executive Officer replacing Barry Meyer. ”All of us share his vision and this will be an exciting time under his leadership,” Robinov said. Distribution head Dan Fellman initiated a bunch of baseball analogies after the success of Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros’ Jackie Robinson biopic 42 last weekend. It followed a string of 5 straight box office disappointments for Warner Bros and occasional other partners (like New Line). ”Consistency has always been a hallmark of Warner Bros Pictures. But even the most consistent player can hit a few fouls,” Fellman told exhibitors. Fellman emphasized that Warner Bros is the only studio to score $1 billion box office gross domestically 12 years in a row. And International Distrib topper Veronika Kwan Vandenberg pointed out that the studio in 2012 grossed over $4 billion worldwide thanks to hits like The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Add to that the 85th Oscar-winning Best Picture success of Argo. Plus, this year Warners Bros is celebrating the 90th anniversary of its founding by the Brothers Warner in 1923.
The season starts out May 10th with the 3D drama from Baz Luhrmann, The Great Gatsby, originally intended for the 2012 awards season but held for Summer 2013 instead. Luhrmann is still tweaking the movie which will open the Cannes Film Festival on May 15th, but sent along a pre-taped introduction – complete with music underscoring to the film’s trailer. Footage was shown at last year’s CinemaCon but this was much different and in 3D. No question it looks like another visual triumph for the director of Moulin Rouge and Romeo And Juliet which starred his Gatsby lead Leonardo Di Caprio. Luhrmann said he was inspired to use 3D when he saw a 3D screening of the Alfred Hitchcock 1950s drama Dial M For Murder (also released by Warners). Even though he said the most special effect in this movie is the acting.
Director Todd Phillips publiclychided Luhrmann before introducing The Hangover Part III trailer. “It would be nice if Baz showed up. There are a lot of directors backstage. We showed up,” he said. Phillips then fed the exhibitors’ egos by saying that comedies should be seen in theaters where everyone can laugh together. Warner’s is now referring to his sleeper smash as the Hangover Trilogy.
Next was Zack Snyder, director of Man Of Steel, who turned up with the world premiere of the film’s new trailer which will play before Oblivion starting on Friday. “There’s no competition between superheroes obviously. But if there were, he would win,” said the unabashed fan of the comic book hero. “I am sorry to even have to say this now but we shot the movie on film and anamorphic. We wanted to give your cinemas a big giant movie movie.” He also acknowledged producer Christopher Nolan’s help during their first meeting in steering him in the right direction on the film. Nolan and his co-producers Emma Thomas and Chuck Roven were in the audience but oddly not introduced to the crowd. The trailer played well and Nolan seemed pleased with the reaction when I saw him afterwards. Read More »
After quietly leaving UTA last week, Idris Elba is the hot actor in play, and it’s suspected he’ll either land at WME or CAA. Elba seems poised to finally make that transition from great actor to movie star, … Read More »
It’s been a couple of months since the last trailer dropped for Guillermo del Toro‘s Pacific Rim. Warner Bros. India today posted the first international TV spot that features Idris Elba’s Lieutenant-Commander Stacker Pentecost who’s “cancelling the apocalypse” as Earth battles evil aliens risen from the … Read More »