UPDATED, 7:09 PM: Looks like Roberto Orci indeed is set to direct the next Star Trek pic — as we reported exclusively last week.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, May 9: After an aggressive lobbying campaign, Roberto Orci has emerged as the clear frontrunner to replace JJ Abrams and direct Paramount‘s third installment of the Star Trek series. I’m hearing they’re in talks. This comes after Orci parted company with longtime partner Alex Kurtzman (though they continue on TV projects). This would amount to another first-time director taking on a massive project, which has been hit (Snow White And The Huntsman) and miss (Transcendence, John Carter, 47 Ronin).
Orci could be an exception on the positive side of the ledger because he has been involved for so long as writer and producer in shaping such big scale films as the Star Trek films as well as the Transformers and Amazing Spider-Man movies. I’m told that Paramount’s partner, Skydance Productions, has been in Orci’s corner, but Paramount needed convincing. Now it all could happen at warp speed. Abrams helmed the first two films from his home base at Paramount, but surprised the studio by agreeing to relaunch the Star Wars franchise and direct the first film, at Disney. Stay tuned. Orci is repped by CAA.
Maybe hell won’t have to freeze over before you hear the words, ‘and the Oscar goes to Transformers: Age Of Extinction.‘ Paramount and director Michael Bay have gotten the Grammy-winning band Imagine Dragons to contribute original songs to the movie. The band was given footage from the film and wrote the tune Battle Cry, which figures into several sequences of the film, and Imagine Dragons contributed other original music, working with the film’s composer Steve Jablonsky. The band has also been set to perform live at the movie’s World Premiere in Hong Kong on June 19. I noticed during the premiere of Amazing Spider-Man 2 that Sony made a big production out of getting an original song from Alicia Keys. Didn’t make much of a stir, but it seems like tent pole-makers are doing whatever they can to squeeze in the possibility of any Oscar love. It will be interesting to see if these bands will want to do the rubber chicken awards season tour. Earlier this year, Bono and The Edge were everywhere, stumping for the song U2 wrote and performed for Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom, only to lose to the animated film Frozen. If nothing else, Imagine Dragons fans should be happy with strong musical accompaniment as Bay blows shit up.
It’s usually a tipoff that something’s wrong when an earnings release talks about how much cash a company gave back to shareholders in a quarter, and then focuses on future endeavors. But in Viacom‘s case, on first glance, the fiscal Q2 results out this morning look merely blah, not bad. Net income at $502M was +5% vs the first three months of 2013, on revenues of $3.17B, +1.2%. The top line was a hair shy of the $3.2B that analysts expected. Earnings at $1.13 a share beat forecasts for $1.05. The main Media Networks business saw operating income rise 9% to $949M on revenues of $2.38B, +6%. Rate hikes to pay TV distributors resulted in an 11% pop in affiliate revenues. Domestic ad sales increased 2% while worldwide was up 3%. The Paramount-led Filmed Entertainment unit told a different story with operating income down 83%, to $11M, on revenues of $831M, down 12%. Viacom attributes the drop to “lower carryover revenue from prior period releases.” The Wolf Of Wall Street didn’t howl enough to prevent a 17% drop in theatrical revenues. Home entertainment fell 30% as the studio offered fewer releases. CEO Philippe Dauman reminded shareholders that the company “returned another $2B to investors through our share buyback and dividends” and noted that Paramount “kicked off its highly-anticipated summer slate with the successful release of Noah at … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Patrick Schwarzenegger has been cast in Scouts Vs. Zombies, the Paramount genre mash-up that will be directed by Christopher Landon. Schwarzenegger, son of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, here plays the popular high school quarterback who is a rival to the boy scout troop. Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joseph Morgan and David Koechner also star. Andy Fickman, Todd Garner, Bryan Brucks and Betsy Sullenger are producing. Shooting is set to begin May 8.
Patrick can next be seen in the Kevin Connolly-directed Dear Eleanor opposite Josh Lucas, Jessica Alba, Liana Liberato and Isabelle Fuhrman. He is repped by Management 360 and Bloom Hergott.
Since bowing in Korea and Mexico in late March, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah has continued to draw strong numbers overseas. As of Sunday, it had an international cume of $197.4M, and a North American haul of $93M. Paramount and Regency Enterprises today say the biblical epic rose to $207M internationally, and $93.8M domestic through Monday, pushing its worldwide cume to $300.8M. Noah was No. 9 at the North American box office this weekend with $5M at 2,537 theaters. It was No. 5 on the international chart after adding $21.6M from 6,092 runs in 56 markets. The film faced its share of controversy prior to opening, and was even banned in most of the Arab world. Nevertheless, it has hit several milestones in the course of its voyage. Domestically, its opening weekend cume of $44M was the biggest ever U.S. debut for star Russell Crowe. Overseas, the film’s releases in Russia and Brazil became the biggest ever for a non-sequel, and were the 4th biggest openings of all time, with $17.2M and $9.8M, respectively. The Russia bow was also Paramount’s best ever in the territory. To date, the movie has earned $32.8M in the fast-burn market. In Brazil, where Noah is at No. 2, it’s the highest grossing Paramount Pictures International release of all time with $23.4M … Read More »
Paramount Pictures and China Film Co Ltd have inked a deal to produce the 3D fastasy/action feature film Marco Polo. It was announced today by China Film Co’s Zhang Qiang and Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore at the signing during the Beijing International Film Festival. This is a first-time venture between between CFC and Paramount but the second deal in days for China Film Co and a U.S. studio. On Monday, the Chinese group announced it had made an eight-figure equity investment in two Legendary Entertainment pics: the Jeff Bridges starrer Seventh Son and Warcraft, the pic based on the Blizzard online game that Duncan Jones is writing and directing.
Paramount and China Film Co said they felt Marco Polo was something that would appeal to both the Chinese and overseas markets. The adaptation will be based on historical context of the famed 13th century explorer but will go beyond the traditional “biographic” type story by positioning it as a fantasy action movie. Shooting is planned to begin in October in conjunction with Yuehua Entertainment, Phoenix Entertainment, and Huahua Film & Media Culture.
Few other details were revealed, but Moore and Zhang said the movie will be directed by an experienced action adventure director from the U.S. and feature a top-tier cast from the U.S. and China. Zhang emphasized the significance of this first-time cooperation between the two companies and hopefully the beginning of a series of future co-production films between China and Hollywood.
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Are you kidding?
Did Paramount just officially start the 2014 Oscar campaign even as we are barely getting the Emmys off the ground and the Tonys are two months away? Uh, yes. Looks like it. One top studio exec (not from Paramount) forwarded me an email he got yesterday from the Paramount Awards Office that pronounced free admission starting April 15th - two by two for Academy members and a guest- to screenings of Noah at theaters nationwide – but only Monday thru Thursday since most theater owners usually don’t like to give up seats on the weekends, especially to rich and famous movie types.
Related: Can ‘Noah’ And ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ Overcome Oscar’s Greatest Curse: A March Release Date?
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EXCLUSIVE: Just because spring has sprung doesn’t mean there isn’t still action coming out of January’s Sundance Film Festival. I’m told that Paramount is closing a low-seven-figure deal for Rudderless, the film that Shameless star William H. Macy directed. It closed the Park City festival. Paramount will acquire North American rights and several additional territories. It will start with a theatrical run in a deal that is taking shape with the Samuel Goldwyn Co. The film will be released later this fall.
Macy stars with Billy Crudup, Anton Yelchin, Selena Gomez, Laurence Fishburne, and Felicity Huffman in a musical drama about the power of a parent’s love. Scripted by Casey Twenter and Jeff Robison, the film revolves around a grieving father in a downward spiral who stumbles across a box of his recently deceased son’s demo tapes and lyrics. Shocked by the discovery of this unknown talent, he forms a band in the hope of finding peace in the wake of his loss. Keith Kjarval of Unified Pictures and Brad Greiner are producing.
WME Global is closing the deal. Macy makes his feature directorial debut on the film. Radiant’s Mimi Steinbauer is selling foreign.
EXCLUSIVE: In what should be a star-making role, Dayo Okeniyi has been set to star in Terminator: Genesis, the franchise reboot for Skydance Productions and Paramount Pictures. And here is some more good news for fans: they have made first plans to shoot three installments to put this saga to rest. The second and third films will be done back to back over nine months. The first film gets underway shortly in Louisiana.
Okeniyi and John Boyega were the two top choices for this pivotal final role, and this came down to a tug of war between storied franchises The Terminator and JJ Abrams and Star Wars, which also wanted Okeniyi to test for one of the leads of that film. Paramount and Skydance’s David Ellison stepped up and the actor unpacked his bags. Okeniyi, who co-starred in The Hunger Games and The Spectacular Now, will play a Steve Jobs genius who figures heavily into the conclusion of the film. He is Danny Dyson, who is also the son of the brainiac cyborg developer Miles Dyson, played by Joe Morton in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The young man holds the key to technology development that makes Skynet possible. He’s repped by UTA, Sweeney Entertainment, and attorney Joel McKuin.
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Here’s the first look at the Michael Bay-ified version of the iconic comic quartet. Looks like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been toughened up, a departure from the franchise’s more kid-friendly animated past more akin to the Turtles’ ’90s-era live-action iterations. Megan Fox and William Fichtner star in the origin story, which Jonathan Liebesman directs. Paramount releases the pic August 8, a busy date on the summer schedule with New Line/Village Roadshow’s Into The Storm (which also dropped its teaser today), Disney’s The Hundred-Foot Journey and Universal’s Scarlett Johansson-starrer Lucy also set to premiere that day.
Paramount has set a January 30, 2015 release date for its MTV Films-Platinum Dunes sci-fi pic now known as Project Almanac. The Dean Israelite-helmed found-footage pic originally was titled Almanac and had a late February 2013 release date. Then the studio changed the name to Welcome To Yesterday in December and moved off the schedule. The pic, from the 2012 Black List script by Jason Pagan & Andrew Stark, centers on a group of friends who stumble upon a time machine and have a little nutty fun with it until it turns out their “second-chance machine” has its drawbacks. Sofia Black-D’Elia, Allen Evangelista, Ginny Gardner, Sam Lerner and Jonny Weston star, and Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller produced.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘Welcome To Yesterday’
BREAKING: Paramount Pictures and 12 Years A Slave producer Plan B said that writer-director Adam McKay will take on Michael Lewis‘ bestselling book The Big Short: Inside The Doomsday Machine, adapting and directing the book about the housing and credit bubble that was published in 2010. It marks the latest tie-up betweento Paramount for McKay, who co-wrote and directed two Anchorman movies for the studio, including last year’s sequel that has grossed more than $170M worldwide. McKay, repped by WME and Mosaic, co-runs Gary Sanchez Prods and Funny Or Die with Will Ferrell but the bet here is this will not be a comedy. “There are those rare literary treasures — as with The Big Short — that park in the harbor and you just wait, with hope,” Plan B said in announcing the hire. “Adam McKay is a singular voice and talent and a ferocious mind — the vector of Adam and this book is what a producer dreams of.” Plan B principal Brad Pitt starred in Sony’s Moneyball, another Lewis adaptation which earned six Oscar noms in 2012 including a Best Actor nom for Pitt.
Participant Media, Paramount Home Media Distribution, and Samuel Goldwyn Films will jointly release CNN Films’ documentary Ivory Tower, the Sundance Film Festival pic chronicling crisis within the American education system. Directed by Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside the New York Times), Ivory Tower questions the value of higher education among spiraling tuition fees and student debt. Pic will hit theaters in June via Samuel Goldwyn with Paramount handling DVD and home entertainment. Paramount is also handling distribution outside of the U.S. Participant previously released Rossi’s Page One and teamed up on education-focused campaigns for Paramount Vantage’s Waiting For Superman and CBS/Pivot’s Teach. The company will spearhead a social action campaign for Ivory Tower this summer. Read More »
The trades got into it this week with Variety floating the boat that Noah star Russell Crowe‘s attempt to meet Pope Francis was spurned by the Vatican, while THR refuted that was ever real because of the feeling Crowe’s stardom would attract too much attention. So what’s the truth? Deadline has learned that Noah star Crowe, director Darren Aronofsky and Paramount executive Rob Moore did in fact get to meet Pope Francis today, after the Vatican extended an olive branch and hosted the trio in the official VIP section of this morning’s Udienza.
I think the studio was a little coy earlier in the week. This was something that Aronofsky wanted to do after he’d just made this Biblical epic. He was going to be near Rome promoting it, and has been moved by the Pope’s message of tolerance, feeding the poor and preserving the planet. But they didn’t want it to seem they were after some cheesy photo op to promote a Biblical movie. I’d heard those same rumors and called Monday, but I guess I’m glad I waited to see what would actually happen. Aronofsky was certainly moved by the experience. Read More »
Actor Logan Miller is joining Paramount‘s upcoming Christopher Landon horror comedy Scouts vs. Zombies. Miller, whose credits include two seasons on Disney XD’s I’m in the Band, Cinedigm’s Night Moves and Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, plays Carter, a class clown who yearns to get out of the scouts so he can join his place alongside the popular kids. After returning from a camping trip with his troop, he learns that his small town is under attack by zombies, and he’s forced to defend it with his fellow scouts. Scouts vs. Zombies is scheduled to start lensing in May. Logan is repped by Jennifer Patredis at Innovative Artists and Eric Skinner and Jeff Morrone at Intellectual Artists Management. Miller joins Tye Sheridan (Mud, Tree of Life) who plays the lead scout. Deadline reported exclusively in September that Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones director Landon became attached to Scouts vs. Zombies. The film is produced by Todd Garner and his Broken Road Productions, Andy Fickman and Betsy Sullenger of Oops Doughnuts, and Bryan Brucks and his Brucks Entertainment. Broken Road’s Sean Robins is exec producer.
Paramount has released the second trailer for Darren Aronofsky’s Biblical epic Noah starring Russell Crowe. Co-star Emma Watson intros the latest look at the pic after the trailer debuted earlier in the day on her social media feeds. There’s been plenty of back and forth on the Paramount-New Regency pic in a long lead-up, and now the release date of March 28 is just a couple weeks away. Until then check out the trailer, complete with the new explanatory message it is attaching to marketing material after consultation with the National Religious Broadcasters group:
Transformers: Age Of Extinction isn’t due in theaters until June 27 , but the first real trailer for the Michael Bay pic is here now. As was teased during the 30-second spot that ran during the Super Bowl last month, it looks like it’s a whole new world for Optimus Prime and crew. The sequel stars Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Jack Reynor, Nicola Peltz, Sophia Myles, TJ Miller, Titus Welliver, Han Geng and Li Bingbing and a lot of American flags from the look of this two-minute-plus peek. Check it out:
EXCLUSIVE: Big news on the MLK movie front. Paramount is in final negotiations to acquire domestic distribution rights to Selma, a feature drama about Martin Luther King‘s 1965 landmark voting rights campaign regarded as the peak of the civil rights movement, and none other than Oprah Winfrey has boarded the project as producer. Paramount is tying down U.S. and Canadian distribution rights to the film. Ava DuVernay, who came aboard the project in July, rewrote the original script by Paul Webb and slipped it to Winfrey, who sparked to DuVernay’s rewrite. We’ve been waiting for a strong cinematic tribute to the iconic civil rights leader, and this remarkably becomes the second MLK project that Winfrey is involved with. Her Harpo also is behind a seven-part HBO miniseries America: In the King Years. Selma is on a much faster track. The plan is to get rolling in front of cameras as soon as possible. Lining up a domestic deal and a name of Winfrey’s caliber were key to getting the ball rolling, and when the deal makes production is expected to start right away. Pathe UK, Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Christian Colson are already aboard as producers.
Winfrey’s presence both on and off the screen was a big reason Lee Daniels’ The Butler traveled so well overseas. The Butler has grossed $167.7 million to date — more than $50M of that internationally. This gives Selma a leg up on the other two major features that are percolating. Oliver Stone last month saw a script rewrite on his MLK biopic rejected by DreamWorks and Warner Bros, and it caused him to back out of the project. Meanwhile, Paul Greengrass still isn’t ready to move on his biopic Memphis that he plans to make with Scott Rudin.
Related: Fleming Q&As Paul Greengrass On Oscar Contender ‘Captain Phillips’, MLK
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The casting for one of the key characters in Paramount and Skydance Productions’ Terminator: Genesis is almost complete — but not finalized. What’s true is that Jai Courtney has been offered the role of Kyle Reese, a gig that figures to span at least two movies that will end the story of Skynet’s battle with the resistance that began with James Cameron’s two films and two more that followed. As we told you last week, it was down to Courtney and Boyd Holbrook to land the Reese role originated by Michael Beihn in the first pic. If the Courtney deal makes, he will join Arnold Schwarzenegger as the signature cyborg, Game Of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke as Sara Connor and Zero Dark Thirty’s Jason Clarke as her son John Connor in the time-travel saga that will be directed by Alan Taylor. The film has a July 1, 2015 released date.
Related: ‘Terminator Genesis’: Between Jai Courtney, Boyd Holbrook For Kyle Reese Role?
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