OSCARS: ‘Rango’ — Gore Verbinski

By | Sunday February 19, 2012 @ 8:31am PST

Craig Modderno is an AwardsLine contributor

When Gore Verbinski met with Johnny Depp to discuss “The Lizard Project,” neither of them had any fantasy or idea that three years later the reptile would transform into the hit film Rango ($245 million in worldwide box office) and become an Oscar nominee in the Feature Animation category. “I had met over breakfast in the Valley with producer John Carls and children’s book designer David Shannon around the time I was directing Pirates Of The Caribbean,” recalls Verbinski, the director of both films. “We decided to make an animated Western with creatures in the desert. I then wrote a 12-page outline, got Johnny to commit to be the lead, then made two more films. I discovered after directing Pirates 3 that I wanted a break from the series, so I got John Logan to work on the script for Rango.” Read More »

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‘Rango’ Wins 4 Visual Effects Awards; ‘Hugo’, ‘Apes’, ‘Transformers’, Take 2 Each

Paramount’s Rango dominated this evening’s 10th Annual Visual Effects Society Awards with four wins in animated feature categories — Visual Effects, Animated Character, Created Environment and Virtual Cinematography. Hugo, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and Transformers: Dark Of The Moon took a pair of awards each in the feature categories. Boardwalk Empire and Game Of Thrones won two apiece in the TV categories. Stan Lee was honored with the VES Lifetime Achievement Award and visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull received the Georges Méliès Award. Ceremonies recognizing visual effects wizardry in 23 categories took place at the Beverly Hilton. The awards presentation will air at 7PM Pacific/10PM Eastern on ReelzChannel Sunday, February 19th. Complete list of winners follows:

Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture
Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, Cyndi Ochs, Kurt Williams

Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture
Hugo: Ben Grossmann, Alex Henning, Rob Legato, Karen Murphy

Visual Effects in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
Rango: Tim Alexander, Hal Hickel, Jacqui Lopez, Katie Lynch

Visual Effects in a Broadcast Miniseries, Movie, or Special
Inside the Human Body: Phil Dobree, Sophie Orde, Dan Upton

Visual Effects in a Broadcast Series
Terra Nova – Occupation & Resistance: Kevin Blank, Colin Brady, Adica Manis, Jason Zimmerman

Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program
Game of Thrones – Winter is Coming: Lucy Ainsworth-Taylor, Angela Barson, Ed Bruce, Adam McInnes

Read More »

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Paramount Gives TV Oscar Push To ‘Transformers’; ‘Rango’ Spots Also Target Voters

By | Thursday February 2, 2012 @ 3:05pm PST
Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE: Although studios are furiously spending big campaign bucks on new TV spots to try to bring home the Best Picture Oscar for the likes of The Descendants, The Artist, Hugo, The Help, Moneyball and others, there hasn’t been a big broad pitch and TV … Read More »

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OSCARS: Paramount Re-Releasing ‘Rango’

By | Tuesday January 24, 2012 @ 8:21am PST

HOLLYWOOD, CA (January 24, 2012) – The now Academy Award-nominated Rango, from director Gore Verbinski and starring the voice of Johnny Depp, saddles up for a one week limited engagement at the ArcLight Hollywood beginning this Friday, January 27th.

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LA Film Critics: ‘The Descendants’ Best Pic, Terrence Malick Best Director; Michael Fassbender, Yun Jung-Hee Top Actors; ‘Rango’ Best Animation

UPDATE, 2:11 PM: Alexander Payne’s The Descendants won Best Picture in voting Sunday by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association that grew increasingly contentious as the day wore on. One member identified as Amy Nicholson tweeted afterward, “While the morning vote went fast, LAFCA awards now bogged down … Read More »

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Familiar Field Battles For Best Animated Feature Annie Awards

Mike Fleming

The nominations are out for the 39th annual Annie Awards, which will be awarded February 4 at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Here are the contenders for Best Animated Feature: A Cat In Paris, Arrugas (Wrinkles), Arthur Christmas, Cars 2, Chico & Read More »

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Paramount Awards Screeners Going Online; First Streams Available This Week

It looks like Paramount will be the first major studio to take its “For Your Consideration” screeners online, announcing today a deal with Deluxe Entertainment Services Group that will provide streams of its awards-season offerings including Rango, Super 8 and … Read More »

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Katzenberg: ‘Hangover 2′ Slashed ‘Kung Fu Panda 2′, But No Comment On Netflix

UPDATE, 2:25 PM: DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has put away his pom-poms for 3D — and the higher ticket prices he has urged exhibitors to charge for it. He says that DreamWorks Animation will offer 2D versions of its films in addition to 3D because “we remain sensitive to the fact that we’re in a stressed economy bordering on a recession.” He admits that he’s “probably somewhat to blame” for the market’s overly optimistic expectations for 3D. Prospects for the technology are “in flux,” he says. But investors have become too pessimistic. His company’s commitment to 3D represents ”one of the best returns on investment of anything that DreamWorks Animation has done.”

Katzenberg won’t discuss his plan to offer online streaming rights to his films exclusively to Netflix: “We’re going to take a pass and punt on this one today. Lots of gossip and rumors and things going on. I’d prefer to take a no comment on this.” As for Kung Fu Panda 2, the CEO says it was “a terrible, terrible calamity” that the film came out in the U.S. the same week as The Hangover Part II. ”This is the first time we met a buzzsaw,” he said. The competition sliced about $20M from the expected box office sales for the animated film, he says. “It’s heartbreaking because there’s no recovering from it.” But he adds that “nowhere else in the world did this happen to us.” Indeed, while KFP2 “didn’t meet our expectations” domestically, it remains “a solid, profitable film” and “a valuable franchise.”

Nothing to report on DreamWorks’ talks to renew the distribution agreement with Paramount that expires at the end of 2012. Katzenberg says he won’t “answer a question that doesn’t have to be answered yet.” He adds that he’s unfazed by Paramount’s decision to ramp up its animation following its recent release of Rango. That film “had zero impact on us and our relationship with them.” Paramount’s plan “reaffirms the value and appeal of animation.”

DreamWorks shares initially soared more than 7% in after-hours trading. By the end of the analyst call they were up 4.3% over Tuesday’s $21.57 closing price.

PREVIOUS, 1:17 PM: DreamWorks Animation reported 2Q net income of $34.1M, up 42.1% vs the same period last year, on revenues of $218.3M, up 38%. Profits at 40 cents a share matched analysts’ consensus forecast. But the revenue number was higher; the Street expected $197.1M. Read More »

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Paramount First Studio This Year To Top $1B At Domestic Box Office

Thanks to the bounty from such films as Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Super 8, ThorRango and Kung Fu Panda 2, Paramount confirmed today that it has crossed the $1 billion mark at the domestic box office for the year. It … Read More »

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KAGAN: March Was Dismal for Movie Profits

I love these kinds of reports because they confirm for us what we already suspect. According to research firm SNL Kagan, a film must hit 1.75 on its Kagan Profitability Index to become a moneymaker. But the dozen March releases will average 1.03 … Read More »

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Bradley Cooper’s ‘Limitless’ Opens #1 On Soft Weekend; ‘Lincoln Lawyer’ #4, ‘Paul’ #5







SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 4TH UPDATE: It’s clear that too many potential moviegoers were busy watching March Madness basketball these past 3 days. After some pre-weekend uncertainty, the North American office has a clear road warrior: Virgin/Relativity’s Limitless starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro. It finished #1 with $6.6 million Friday and $7.4M Saturday and an estimated $5M Sunday for an overperforming $19M after Hollywood expected just a $10M-to-$15M result.

After that, it was a freeway pile-up with holdover Paramount’s Rango coming in 2nd because of a big Saturday matinee kiddie bump, followed by another holdover Sony Pictures’ Battle: Los Angeles coming in 3rd. Working Title/Universal’s Paul fell behind Lionsgate’s The Lincoln Lawyer*. Lionsgate is now saying 190,000 tickets were sold for The Lincoln Lawyer through the 48-hour Groupon/Fandango discount deal, with  about 20,000 actually redeemed at the box office Friday and another 18,000 redemmed Saturday (about a 20% redemption rate). This comes to about 2.5% of the box office but that’s enough Lionsgate-subsidized ticket coin to change the film rankings for this very competitive weekend. ”It was always about awareness,” Lionsgate emails. “This was a new marketing promotion that reached 4 million people for not a whole lot of money.” Here is the Top 10.

1. Limitless (Relativity) NEW [2,756 Theaters]
Friday $6M, Saturday $7.6M, Weekend $19M

I have to say it’s nice to see Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media receive a Big Gulp at the box office after a long drought on the movies he distributes. And this wasn’t even a schlocky film. It was also co-produced by Virgin Produced, Sir Richard Branson’s first film from his newly formed production company. Relativity released the upscale Limitless in the U.S. through its own maturing distribution system and in Canada via Alliance Films and now can celebrate this success. So can Bradley Cooper who’s now a bonafide post-Hangover movie star able to open a film on his name and image alone. (No way this film would have been as successful with Shia LaBeouf in the lead role which was the case when Relativity’s Rogue Pictures first took it over after it moved from Miramax to Intermedia to Universal.) The estimated gross was well above Relativity’s and Hollywood’s projections mostly thanks to a smart marketing campaign that tapped into the most intriguing elements of the pic’s high-concept plot in an easy-to-grasp way for both guys and gals. (Take that pill? For me, Bayer Aspirin with an Advil chaser has the same effect.) Best of all, the pic’s production cost supposedly just under $30 million, reduced from the $50M budget Universal had earmarked, a veritable bargain these days especially considering the presence of both Cooper who also snagged an executive producer credit and Robert De Niro. (“Our net investment is under $1 million as a result of our  successful foreign sales and soft money initiatives from the Pennsylvania tax rebate for shooting on location in Philadelphia,” a Relativity exec tells me.) CinemaScore was a B+. Exit polls showed the audience was 52% female and 48% male, while 40% was under 25 and 60% was age 25 and over. The ethnic breakdown of moviegoers was 43% Caucasian and 57% non-Caucasian including 19% Hispanic, 17% African-American, 11% Asian, and 11% other. The film was directed by Neil Burger (The Illusionist) who normally writes and helms his own films. But writer Leslie Dixon acquired the rights to the novel “The Dark Fields” by Alan Glynn and adapted the screenplay for less than her normal quote in exchange for being made one of the film’s producers. Then she and fellow producer Scott Kroopf approached Burger to direct the film.

3. Rango (Paramount) Week 3 [3,843 Theaters]
Friday $4.1M, Saturday $6.7M, Weekend $15.3M, Cume $92.5M

2. Battle: Los Angeles (Sony Pictures) Week 2 [3,417 Theaters]
Friday $4.5M, Saturday $6.1M, Weekend $14.6M (-59%), Cume $60.6M

4. The Lincoln Lawyer* (Lionsgate) New [2,707 Theaters]
Friday $4.4M, Saturday $6M, Weekend $13.4M

5. Paul (Working Title/Universal) NEW [2,802 Theaters]
Friday $4.5M, Saturday $5.2M, Weekend $13.1M

Another of those Simon Pegg and Nick Frost farces (Hot Fuzz, Shaun Of The Dead), this comedy isn’t from American filmmakers who tend to do the vast majority of their business domestically. But not even Steven Spielberg playing a small part in this E.T./Close Encounters Of The Third Kind spoof could improve modest North American grosses for Universal’s Paul. But it doesn’t much matter. Because Working Title pics make all their money overseas, and this one already has performed “incredibly” in the UK and France with $28.1M international cume, according to Universal which said worldwide grosses after this weekend are $41.3M on a $40M budget. Internationally the film continues its rollout with another five territories and has 53 more territories to go in the coming months. The film’s domestic tracking had been growing — or so the studio thought — but the pic ended smack in the middle of so-so $10M-$15M expectations. Cinemascore was a “B+” with under age 25 moviergoers giving it an “A-”. Audience composition was 56% male/44% female, and 58% over age 25/42% under age 25. Relativity Media is a partner in the film.

6. Red Riding Hood (Warner Bros) Week 2 [3,030 Theaters]
Friday $2.4M, Saturday $3.1M, Weekend $7.2M (-48%), Cume $25.9M

7. The Adjustment Bureau (MRC/Universal) Week 3 [2,660 Theaters]
Friday $1.7M, Saturday $2.6M, Weekend $5.9M, Cume $48.7M

8. Mars Needs Moms 3D (Disney) Week 2 [3,117 Theaters]
Friday $1.5M, Saturday $2.2M, Weekend $5.3M (-28%), Cume $15.4M

9. Beastly (CBS Films/Sony) Week 3 [1,810 Theaters]
Friday $1M, Saturday $1.2M, Weekend $3.2M, Cume $22.2M

10. Hall Pass (New Line/Warner Bros) Week 4 [1,905 Theaters]
Friday $825K, Saturday $1.1M, Weekend $2.6M, Cume $39.5M Read More »

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FX Acquires Six No. 1 Movies

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: FX is sticking to its strategy of buying marquee movies with the recent purchase of the TV rights to six films, all of which opened at No. 1 at the box office. The list includes Disney’s Tron: Read More »

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Johnny Depp’s #1 ‘Rango’ Reaches $38M, Matt Damon’s ‘Adjustment Bureau’ Grabs #2, ‘Beastly’ Debuts #3, ‘Take Me Home’ #11





SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 2ND UPDATE: Here is Friday and Saturday and weekend and cume North American box office grosses and the weekend forecasts. This was supposed to be Hollywood’s comeback weekend after a product-driven underwhelming start to the New Year. But Friday through Sunday is expected to reach only $135 million, which pales in comparison (-31%) to last year’s first weekend in March when just Alice In Wonderland 3D alone did $116M and the overall movie total was $196M. The result is that the movie execs are giving up on accurately predicting box office not just because of how depressed the overall marketplace has been but also because they no longer can rely on tracking to be accurate. They don’t like the year-to-date stats, either: $1.6B vs $2.1B, with revenue down 20% and attendance down 21%.

1. Rango (Paramount) NEW [3,917 Theaters]
Friday $9.7M, Saturday $16.8M, Weekend $38M, International $16.5M, Global $54.5

Remember back to the Super Bowl and that Rango ad? Well, according to a USA Today poll, it ranked higher that all the other movie ads including Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 and Transformers 3 screened during the big game. Now, after weeks of tracking strongly despite its dark and weird vibe, the reteaming of Pirates Of The Caribbean duo Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp lived up to its promise — though not the $50M opening weekend which Paramount had initially hoped. ”No question people responded to the concept of Johnny Depp in an animated film,” a Paramount exec told me. “Johnny has a track record in family movies and therefore attracts a broad family audience.” That’s a feat considering it’s a non-summer 2D toon and the kids weren’t even out of school Friday. When they were, the pic had a big Saturday matinee bump of +73% even though the film wasn’t aimed at young children but rather ages 6 to 12 and parents (who nevertheless gave Rango only a “C+” CinemaScore despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews). True, the pic might have added 15%-20% to its grosses had it been 3D. But that lizard and company played like a four-quadrant hit pic. It also helped that Paramount paired the trailer with True Grit and Little Fockers and could rely on other Viacom companies like Nickelodeon and Comedy Central and MTV for promotion.

Rival studios claim the movie cost $180M though Paramount pegs the budget at $130M. And the uber-marketing cost a pretty penny. What happened was that when Universal didn’t go ahead with his Bioshock pic, Verbinski went from just producing and prepping Rango to also directing Josh Logan’s script. One of the reasons Rango snagged Depp and impressed the critics was Verbinski’s idea to have the actors actually perform their roles, instead of the traditional approach of standing in a booth and just voicing, to create chemistry between the cast and deliver better performances. Verbinski decided to use ILM, which had done the CGI for Pirates Of The Caribbean but wasn’t in the toon biz, for the complete character animation film. Now Paramount expects ILM to keep making toons for it without any startup costs and give DreamWorks Animation a run for Paramount’s toon distribution. (“Have you checked the DreamWorks Animation stock lately? It’s becoming the biggest short in the media business,” a rival studio emailed me…)

Paramount just told me that, overseas in the 33 countries it was opening in day and date (including UK, Mexico, Germany, and Spain), Rango was #1. It opened about half the markets internationally this weekend and generated $16.5 million, led by the UK’s $3 million and Mexico’s $2.3 million.

2. The Adjustment Bureau (MRC/Universal) NEW [2,840 Theaters]
Friday $6.7M, Saturday $9.1M, Weekend $20.9M, International $10.5M, Global $31.4M

The Adjustment Bureau overperformed this weekend for definitely more than the mid-to-high teens Universal was predicting. The studio acquired the “B” CinemaScore pic (with ages up to 34 giving it either an “A-” or “B+” — from MRC for $62 million. Hey, Matt Damon running, and running, and running a la Bourne is a tried and true and derivative formula so the PG-13 actioner should have earned more. Exit polls showed the audience was 73% ages 30 years and older/27 % under 30 years of age and 47% male/53% female. Tracking indicated the film appealed to an older demographic because it’s a romance, a thriller, and a sci-fi’er all in one with known Damon and Emily Blunt starring. That made it hard to comp because it doesn’t fit neatly into any one genre. And also hard to sell since it required some unusual thinking in order to sell well. But it tracked with men and women over age 25, and Universal’s marketing department did a more than decent job. Besides North America, the pic earned $10.5M overseas when it released day and date in 21 territories: Australia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Serbia Montenegro, Singapore, Thailand, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Philippines, Poland, Spain, Turkey, and the UK. Universal stressed that The Adjustment Bureau is Damon’s biggest opening weekend overseas since 2007′s The Bourne Ultimatum.

3. Beastly (CBS Films/Sony) NEW [1,952 Theaters]
Friday $3.5M, Saturday $3.9M, Weekend $10.1M

CBS Films’ Beastly starring Alex Pettyfer in yet another career debut — this time an updated Beauty And The Beast storyline that received a “B” CinemaScore (the highest of all this weekend’s films) and an “A-” CinemaScore from teenage girls — overperformed beyond the $8M predicted this weekend. That’s better than the low expectations considering the narrow release. This pic was all about attracting 12- to 14-year-old girls, but that one quad is always hard to predict. (Comps like BandslamPost Grad and I Love You Beth Cooper all tanked.) CBS Films wanted $5M this weekend against the $17M cost. Film was pre-sold internationally. Read More »

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Paramount Coup: Justin Bieber Crashes Johnny Depp’s ‘Rango’ Press Junket

I was given this video of Justin Bieber crashing Johnny Depp’s press junket for Rango on Saturday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. Not surprising, because Depp recently took his kids to Bieber’s Miami concert and declares himself a “Belieber”. But, more importantly, Bieber’s Never Say Never and … Read More »

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Super Bowl XLV: Game Day For Movie Ads

Universal, Disney, Paramount, and Sony have all bought time for Super Bowl Sunday on Fox which is selling a 30-second commercial for a whopping $3 million this year (up from $2.8 million in 2010). Many more films will be advertised on this … Read More »

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Johnny Depp Talks About Making ‘Rango’

Johnny Depp and cast talk about voicing, and performing, in Rango, his Pirates Of The Caribbean director Gore Verbinski’s CG animated movie. Based on an original idea by Verbinski, Rango is scripted by The Aviator writer John Logan. Depp stars as an Hawaiian-shirt-wearing “chameleon with an identity crisis”:

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Hot Trailer: Gore Verbinski’s ‘Rango’

By | Tuesday December 14, 2010 @ 10:59am PST

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Hot Trailer: Paramount’s ‘Rango’

By | Tuesday June 29, 2010 @ 8:50pm PDT

Hot Trailer

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