EXCLUSIVE: ICM Partners has signed Tod ‘Kip’ Williams, the Gotham-based director who last helmed the found footage sequel horror hit Paranormal Activity 2. He’s next directing Tangier, a Tom Pabst-scripted indie that will be produced by Traffic‘s Laura Bickford. I’ll always remember Williams for having the stones to take it upon himself to charm author John Irving into giving him a free option on his bestselling novel A Widow For One Year. Irving had never heard of Williams, who had only directed the festival film The Adventures Of Sebastian Cole. His producer, Ted Hope, had an in with Irving in that the author was briefly his wrestling coach at Exeter. That got Williams a foot in the door, and he sold Irving on his pitch to take only a portion of a sprawling tale (most of Irving’s books are sprawling tales), and make that the focus of the film. The result was The Door In The Floor, the film that starred Jeff Bridges, Kim Basinger and Elle Fanning.
A revived ad market boosted the media networks division, but the movie unit faltered. The result was a 3rd quarter net revenue of $3.33 billion, a 5% increase compared to $3.17 billion same quarter last year and in line with Wall Street expectations. But profit-wise, Viacom’s net income fell to $189 million from $463 million same quarter last year due to several one-time charges and dropping profits at the Harmonix gaming unit, which the company announced it will be selling. Harmonix is responsible for the Rock Band video game series. MTV Networks bought Harmonix in 2006 for $175 million. Of the film division, Philippe Dauman decided to focus on the future, saying, “Our motion picture business continues on its trajectory of controlling overhead expenses as it pursues a film strategy focused on franchises and brands. The studio is off to a great start in fiscal 2011 with the box office success of Jackass 3D and Paranormal Activity 2.” And Sumner Redstone said, “We continue to benefit from the improving economy and look forward to even brighter days ahead.”
‘Paranormal Activity 2′ Scares Up $41.5M Weekend For Record Horror Opening; Clint Eastwood’s Spiritual ‘Hereafter’ #4
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM UPDATE: Sources tell me Friday’s and Saturday’s North American grosses and weekend and cume for the Top 10 are:
1. Paranormal Activity 2 (Paramount) NEW [3,216 Theaters]
Friday $20M, Saturday $13M, Weekend $41.5M
The success of Paranormal Activity 2 is a classic case of, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Like the sleeper smash original, the sequel was made for a bare bones budget of $3 million and now is the biggest horror opening ever (record held by Friday The 13th at $40.5M). It logged a “B” Cinemscore, and the audience was 61% under age 25 and 54% female. The director of the first Paranormal Activity, Oren Peli, stayed on as producer along with Akiva Goldsman and Jason Blum. Katie Featherston, who was at the center of the first film’s action, also returned. Paramount set Tod “Kip” Williams to direct the sequel after first choice Kevin Greutert departed when Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures enforced an option that made him the director of Saw 3D, the film that opens against Paranormal 2 on Halloween weekend. Interesting choice of a filmmaker best known for directing The Door in the Floor, an inventive adaptation of the John Irving novel A Widow For One Year. Screenplay by Michael Perry, and Christopher Landon and Tom Pabst.
The production and its viral and online marketing campaign stayed true to the original, even down to the intimate handheld style of the first with its so-called “found footage” positioning and a media budget half of what a studio would …
UPDATE: Here’s some Paramount-provided propaganda. Above is the mob scene outside LA’s Cinerama Dome as the film’s Oren Peli and Katie Featherston hang with the crowds waiting for tonight’s free midnight sneak previews of Paranormal Activity 2. Below is the really stranger scene outside NYC’s Loews 34th Street. (What’s with the white hooded robes?) The pic opens wide at midnight Thursday then goes up against Lionsgate’s Saw 3D over Halloween weekend:
Paramount of course marketed the first installment of the psychological thriller precisely on the basis that the original Paranormal Activity was frightening the bejesus out of college town moviegoers. Now it’s happening again. Although Paranormal Activity 2 won’t be released until October 16th, Paramount decided to play its trailer in front of the Twilight Saga: Eclipse blockbuster that opened today. (See trailer here.) Well, after the 12:01 AM and 3 AM screenings of the vampire vs werewolves pic, Cinemark execs called Paramount today and said they have had multiple complaints in Texas that the Paranormal 2 trailer was “too scary” and they are pulling it from several of their theaters. Hey, I saw that trailer, and scary it’s not. There’s a dog. There’s a woman standing in the doorway. Jeez, I’m more scared by the prospect of Carrie Fisher playing me on Entourage. (She is. This season. Don’t ask.) But a studio exec insists, “I actually went to a couple theaters last night, and a ton of girls jumped out of their seats and screamed. All I can tell you is people complained and Cinemark pulled it down.” I say wusses, all.