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 …
UPDATE: #1 ‘Megamind’, #2 ‘Due Date’, #3 ‘For Colored Girls’ All Meet Expectations; Long Lines And Sell-Outs For ’127 Hours’
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM WRITETHRU: It’s the start of the Holiday Moviegoing Season, so celebrate! The box office sure is, because this wound up a record first weekend in November for North America with the $155+ million total of all the movies (not corrected for inflation or ticket prices) passing the Industry record of $153M set in 2003. But with all 3 big newcomers meeting their opening weekend expectations, where’s the fun for cynical me? Meanwhile, Sony Pictures had a great summer, Warner Bros led with a successful early fall, and now Paramount Pictures is showing strength: In the last 4 weeks, the studio has released 3 different films all at #1 and all opening over $40 million in 3 different genres. Here are what my sources say are Friday’s and Saturday’s Top Ten grosses with weekend and cume numbers:
1. Megamind (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount) NEW [3,944 Runs]
Friday $12.5M, Saturday $20.6M, Weekend $47.6M
DreamWorks Animation toons, like Pixar’s, do reliably strong box office, even on Date Night, with a big Saturday kiddie matinee bounce. So there was considerable surprise among rival studios starting midday Friday when newcomer Megamind 3D‘s grosses looked underperforming despite its “A-” CinemaScore, usually successful formula of hip pop culture references, a typically aggressive marketing push, and a giant release into 3,944 theaters with 2,634 of them 3D-equipped. It was as if life were imitating art, since Megamind is the most brilliant supervillain the world has ever known — and the least successful. But the problem, it turned out, wasn’t the movie. Instead, I learned that AMC theaters was experiencing computing problems and had no grosses in the system, according to distributor Paramount. The studio knew the actual number would go higher: “There are no kids out of school. Looks like mid- to high-40′s, right where everyone expected,” a Paramount exec reassured me. And it has. It opened just ahead of the first 3-day weekend of the original Madagascar ($47.2M) which was only 2D and therefore had lower ticket prices, but also ahead of How to Train Your Dragon 3D which was regarded as weak because of its summer weekend gross of $43.7M. Megamind starring the voices of Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, and Brad Pitt turns the superhero genre on its head so, naturally, the promotional campaign kicked off with a giant superhero event at LA Live where the record was set for the most superheroes ever gathered in one location. There also was a big tie-in with the World Series that featured Ferrell disguised as a character that looked remarkably like Marlon Brando’s Jor-El from 1978′s Superman. There also was an outreach on MTV for under age 25 moviegoers with Megamind auto tunes.
2. Due Date (Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros) NEW [3,355 Runs]
Friday $12.2M, Saturday $13M, Estimated Weekend $33.5M
Warner Bros’ Due Date, an unofficial reboot of John Hughes’ Planes Trains & Automobiles, opened this weekend almost exactly on target with what Hollywood expected from its wide release into 3,355 theaters. Audiences gave it a “B-” CinemaScore. The comedy starring Robert Downer Jr and Zach Galifianakis, who reteamed with his The Hangover director Todd Phillips, had been tracking on the high side of what an “R”-rated buddy comedy will do, and indeed Due Date fared almost exactly the same as The Other Guys starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg did in this genre over the summer. As usual, Warner Bros’ marketing czarina Sue Kroll promo’ed the heck out of the pic, with three different trailers and TV ads. The teaser trailer was launched with Inception in July, and the studio had a main trailer playing from September through release. WB capitalized on early opportunities with TV season premieres in September, and longer format media stunts (Downey singing “Looks Like We Made It”) that included heavy network, cable, NFL, Baseball/World Series, etc. There also was a strong WOM program that included military bases, college campuses, traditional radio, and national talk shows. As a result, Due Date generated well-balanced male and female support, capturing strong date crowd business, with its primary audience 17 and older. It also was one of those few R-rated comedy marketing that didn’t try to insult or gross out women. “The campaign sought to always capture the humor, but also ensure the tone was warm, likeable, even sweet at times — but always with outrageous comedy,’ a WB exec tells me. In the online/social media world, the studio used its existing Facebook Hangover fan page (8 million followers) to push Due Date content “giving us a much wider reach than we otherwise would have had to a perfectly targeted audience for the material,” the exec noted.
3. For Colored Girls (Lionsgate) NEW [2,127 Runs]
Friday $7.4M, Saturday $7.9M, Weekend $20.1M
Lionsgate’s For Colored Girls at first looked like the R-rated drama was wildly overperforming Friday for an estimated $28M from 2,127 theaters when the Tyler Perry-directed film was only expected to gross $20M, the equivalent of its budget. Then again, it receiced an “A” CinemaScore from audiences. ”It’s performing more on a par with Tyler’s other films,” an excited Lionsgate exec prematurely gushed to me that afternoon. But the weekend grosses were not the phenom first thought. Still, they met expectations and, ”between Tyler’s loyal female following and the cross cultural and multi generational appeal of the work, the opening weekend is feeling like we made this an event, going beyond the core African-American audience,” an insider tells me. With actresses including Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg, Kimberly Elise, Phylicia Rashad, Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Anika Noni Rose, and Kerry Washington, Perry gave each the poetic monologues dealing with love, abandonment, rape,
SATURDAY PM: Sources are giving me these early North American grosses for Friday and Saturday and weekend and cume. Numbers which will be refined tonight and/or in the morning. Analysis coming:
1. Saw VII 3D (Lionsgate) NEW [2,808 Theaters]
Friday $10.7M, Saturday $7.9M, Weekend $24.2M)
‘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
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 …
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 …