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Can ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ Lasso Youth?

Mike Fleming

Studios usually view Comic-Con as a venue to start momentum on projects that won’t be in theaters for up to a year. This Saturday, DreamWorks and Universal will try to turn the rabid youth demographic at Comic-Con into true believers for Cowboys & Aliens, a week before the picture opens. It’s crucially important to a movie that has a budget pegged by insiders at $163 million (whispers around town are it could be higher) big stars in Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, and the god-fathering  presence of Steven Spielberg and Imagine’s Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. It is also directed by Jon Favreau, whose Iron Man films and past Comic-Con patronage has made him a hero to that crowd.

Despite this pedigree, Cowboys & Aliens has endured a tortured development history involving more than a dozen writers. (Just five writers got screenplay credit after the Writers Guild not surprisingly held an arbitration trying to figure who did what over 14 years.) Now the movie faces even bigger challenges. It’s a mash-up of two genres that usually don’t cross paths, Westerns and science fiction. Word around town is the film has a  cash break participation pool in the 35% range. In the wake of the behemoth opening of  Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, tracking has been soft, there is no 3D conversion to justify higher ticket prices, factors that could put the … Read More »

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UPDATE: John Fogelman’s Plans Post-WME

2ND UPDATE, FRIDAY 3 PM: This morning after being intro’ed by Patrick Whitesell, John Fogelman stood up at WME’s quarterly meeting inside the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and gave a small “I-was-lucky-to-work-here” speech. He received a standing ovation. Love him or hate him (and those laid-off Morris agents who weren’t given the opportunity to transition to WME sure do), Fogelman nevertheless is a force of nature to be reckoned with in Hollywood. WME insiders don’t expect the agency to replace John on the board. ”The feeling is that there are too many people on the board already. Don’t expect them to add another name,” I’m told.

Meanwhile, Fogelman’s decision to depart WME was by no means sudden. I’m told he made the decision as far back as December right after a conversation with his kids. ”They love the Seinfeld show and were asking him why did Jerry quit. And John told them, ‘Because the ideal is that you quit when you’re at the top.’ And that started the thought in his head,” said one of my insiders. Fogelman considers the pinnacle of his career when he turned Discovery Kids into The Hub with Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner. See their photo above from this Wall Street Journal story back in November 2009. (“I launched a network. No agent had ever done that before,” John tells pals.) As well as helping his clients JJ Abrams (still managed by David Lonner) and Michael Bay on this … Read More »

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