EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has acquired worldwide distribution rights on The Intern, the north of $35 million budget comedy that Nancy Meyers wrote and will direct as her next film. This is the one that got shopped at last week’s AFM by Lotus. In this configuration, Worldview was out when the Warner Bros deal got done. Meyers will produce with Scott Rudin. In the film, Witherspoon will play the founder of a highly successful fashion website who is prompted to take part in her company’s Senior Intern Program. She is assigned a 70ish widower who shows up with a suit and a briefcase. Turns out he ran his own successful business before retiring. What starts initially as a clash between old-world and new-world business values grows into something more as the intern becomes a mentor to the young entrepreneur.
Related: AFM: Worldview To Finance Hot Spec Package ‘The Intern’
The prospect of Meyers making this movie at that budget level generated excitement among distributors, and The Weinstein Company and Universal also gave chase. READ MORE »
Robert De Niro is the latest Hollywood figure eyeing a bite of China’s booming economy. But the star is not prepping a movie on the mainland, instead he’s developing Project 179, an 850,000-square-foot … Read More »
The Supreme Court has answered the bell in the fight over early works based on the story of boxer Jake LaMotta – the subject of MGM‘s 1980 Best Picture nominee Raging Bull. The justices today agreed … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: HBO is carrying on James Gandolfini’s legacy with Criminal Justice. Oscar winner Robert De Niro has stepped in to take over the role originally played by the beloved Sopranos star in the pilot. De Niro is attached to act in Criminal Justice, a seven-hour miniseries, with Gandolfini remaining an executive producer posthumously. (HBO previously greenlighted Criminal Justice with Gandolfini as a seven-part limited series in May). Steven Zaillian, who has been shepherding the project for over four years, is set to direct the first hour. Richard Price wrote Criminal Justice based on the BBC series created by Peter Moffat. On the mini, produced by HBO in association with BBC Worldwide Prods., Film Rites and Tribeca Films, De Niro joins originally cast Riz Ahmed, Bill Camp, Payman Maadi and Poorna Jagannathan. Production is eyed to begin in March.
It was unclear in the immediate aftermath of Gandolfini’s untimely June death in Rome whether HBO would proceed with Criminal Justice. But because Gandolfini had been so committed and passionate about the project, which he was getting ready to start filming upon his return from Rome, the network and Zaillian began exploring ways to do Criminal Justice in his honor. The New York crime story centers on an ambulance-chasing New York City attorney, the role originally played by Gandolfini, who gets in over-his-head when he takes on the case of a Pakistani (Ahmed) accused of murdering a girl on the Upper West Side. While the lawyer part is central to the overall story, in the pilot the character only appears in the final scene. That led to discussions between HBO and Zaillian about recasting the part, not an easy task as I hear the network and Zaillian were looking for a great actor whom Gandolfini would have wanted for the role and who would honor Gandolfini’s memory with his performance. I hear their list consisted of one name only, Robert De Niro, who responded and came on board.
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SUNDAY 9:30 AM, 5TH UPDATE: No surprise that a genre scarer did so well on a weekend frontloaded by Friday The 13th. But grosses flattened Saturday because of what my sources say was the big Mayweather vs Alvarez fight which scored big TV ratings from Las Vegas last night. That cooled what initially was hot total moviegoing this September weekend to $95M, only +10% over last year’s.
Regular readers know that I believe online domestic pre-sales are a more accurate indicator of a movie’s box office opening strength than traditional tracking. So it’s meaningful that FilmDistrict’s PG13 and 2D Insidious: Chapter 2 (released into 3,049 theaters) trended as Fandango’s top horror pre-seller of the year. And the grosses produced by Blumhouse horrormeisters Jason Blum and Oren Peli on just a $5 million budget were indeed record-breaking: an impressive $20.1M debut Friday (including $1.5M in Thursday’s late shows and Friday’s midnights) and $13.4M Saturday for a $41M weekend. Pic now becomes 2013′s 2nd biggest grossing horror opening behind The Conjuring and sets 2nd largest September debut. (Only 3 live-action movies in the past decade have ever opened over $30M in this traditionally slow month. Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania did $42.5M in September 2012.) Weekend was double what FilmDistrict was expecting and another winner for CEO Peter Schlessel who tells me he credits distribution chief Jim Orr and marketing czarina Christine Birch for the huge weekend. Sequel overwhelmed the first installment’s $13.3M. Here are more stats: Blumhouse now becomes the first production company to have two movies with budgets of $5M or under gross over $30M on opening weekend in the same year. With The Purge and Insidious: Chapter Two, Blumhouse has produced 2 micro-budget films in the past four months that grossed over $30M in their opening weekends. Combined, the two movies will have earned over $65M on their opening weekends with combined budgets of $8M. Yowza! Despite tepid critical reviews, audiences gave the Insidious sequel a ‘B+’ CinemaScore for James Wan‘s direction of the cast of Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne in Leigh Whannell’s screenplay. FilmDistrict’s marketing campaign targeted a younger audience (15-34 year olds) and focused on females during cable draws like ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars and the genre’s growing Hispanic market. The studio created customized Latino creative exclusive content featurettes, radio and TV spots as well as hosted a Miami Press day. The film’s trailer launched with The Purgeand continued via Comic-Con, paranormal conventions, the Vans Warped Tour, and exposure at Six Flags. Exit polling this weekend showed audiences were 52% male/48% female with 62% under the age of 25/38% age 25 and older. Internationally, Insidious 2 opened #1 in the UK, traditionally the second biggest market for horror films after the U.S., with a bigger opening than recent hits like The Conjuring and The Purge.
This other weekend’s new release was Relativity’s and Europacorp’s co-financed and co-produced dark adult comedy The Family (3,091 theaters). It stars Robert De Niro. Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones directed and co-written by Luc Besson and executive produced by Martin Scorsese in yet another unnecessary and derivative gangster pic. With a disappointing ‘C’ CinemaScore from audiences and tepid critical reviews, this R-rated pic opened with a so-so $5.3M Friday and $5.3M Saturday for a $13.9M weekend. That’s smack in the middle of what Relativity was low-balling but no Red which in 2010 opened to $21.7M and also was aimed at older males and females. “We are pleased with the result and the film’s performance. The point is that the movie cost $30M and it’s going to make back half its budget in opening weekend,” insisted a Relativity exec – not taking into consideration P&A or the usual 3X formula. But stars are supposed to deliver openings above $20M and this movie had 3 big names who can’t draw audiences anymore on their own. This is only De Niro’s second biggest opening over his past 10 non-Meet The Parents franchise pics. (Limitless, another Relativity film, was #1.) Going to the gangster well again and again just diminishes him. Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh took a producer credit: but surely he couldn’t have fantasized yet another De Niro cash grab with lousy reviews would do any awards business? Michael Caleo of The Sopranos co-wrote based on Tonino Benacquista’s novel Malavita. Since Relativity recently revamped its in-house marketing and advertising, I’d be wasting words discussing the very forgettable campaign which surely contributed to the mediocre result. Relativity and Europacorp made this pic as part of an overall co-production and financing deal, with Relativity releasing in the U.S., Europacorp overseeing international distribution, and EOne taking Canada.
Here’s the Top Ten list based on weekend estimates:
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Henry “Razor” Sharp and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen fought twice back in the day; each won once, but the tiebreaker never happened. Fast-forward 30 years and the bitter enemies — played by cinema-ring Hall of Famers Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro — will settle things in … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: FilmNation Entertainment has acquired from Jane Rosenthal the rights to the bestselling Ann Leary novel The Good House. They’re reuniting one of the great screen couples, Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro, and Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of … Read More »
The Tribeca Film Festival has set submission dates for its 2014 fest, and it has named AT&T as its presenting sponsor. That role had been filled by American Express since the fest’s inception when it was hatched to … Read More »
Academy Award winner Robert De Niro and Oscar nominee John Travolta face off in Millennium Entertainment‘s Killing Season, the latest from helmer Mark Steven Johnson (Daredevil, Ghost Rider). De Niro plays an military retiree hunted in the woods by Travolta, who sports a goatee … Read More »
Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones, Dianna Agron and John D’Leo star in the dark action comedy The Family (formerly Malavita). Directed by Luc Besson, The Family follows a mafia boss (De Niro) and his family as they are relocated to a sleepy town … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: If you love sports films like I do, here is one that has knockout potential. Robert De Niro and Edgar Ramirez have signed on to star in Hands Of Stone, a drama written and to be directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz. Boxing fans will know where we are going from the title. Ramirez will play champ Roberto Duran. De Niro will play his trainer Ray Arcel in a drama that focuses on how each man changed the life of the other. It is set during boxing’s Golden Era, when Duran was among top notch fighters including Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler, Hector Camacho, Vinny Pazienza. Duran fought them all and won 103 of his 119 fights. The focus will be on the Panamanian boxer’s incredible brawls with Leonard, culminating in an inexplicable ending of the famous fight where Duran quit in the ring and cried “No mas,” on a night when Leonard was having his way. That was a terrible ending to a rivalry that was everything depicted by De Niro in Raging Bull, when Jake LaMotta had those classic brawls with Sugar Ray Robinson. This was back when boxing mattered, and well before it got eclipsed by mixed martial arts fighting, which is way more accessible to the public and more smartly run than is pro boxing. CAA is handling domestic rights on the film. Read More »
So the Tribeca Film Festival has found a film to close its 2013 fest. It’s Martin Scorsese‘s The King Of Comedy, with a restored print that of course stars festival patriarch Robert De Niro. … Read More »
Robert De Niro hit his stride in terms of movie recognition in 1973 when both Bang the Drum Slowly and Mean Streets put him on the map. The latter remains a special favorite because it marks the beginning of his long association with Martin Scorsese. Remarkably, De Niro … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Anupam Kher is the Indian movie star who played Bradley Cooper’s therapist in Silver Linings Playbook (“Desean Jackson is the man!” was his killer line). Kher has used his experiences from that Oscar-nominated film to form the basis for I Went Shopping For Robert De Niro, a short film he has quietly directed about his quest to find the right gift to present to Kher’s idol after filming was completed on the Best Picture nominee.
Now, Kher has acted in over 450 movies of various languages in a long career that encompasses Bollywood, American and British productions. But he is absolutely starstruck when it comes to De Niro. He is so reverential that it almost made me feel bad that when I moderated a panel at the last Tribeca Film Festival with Judd Apatow and De Niro, Apatow pushed me to ask the iconic actor when he lost his virginity, this after I forced Apatow to recount his clumsy deflowering to stop him babbling on about The 40-Year Old Virgin. I don’t think De Niro answered — he’s too shy, classy and modest to say something like “I was 8 and both women walked away satisfied” (he is Bobby De, don’t forget), but I think had Kher been up there with us, he might have decked me and Judd. Clearly to Kher, De Niro is the Desean Jackson of actors.
“Mr. De Niro has been my icon and is a legend in global cinema and it was truly one of the greatest honors for me to share screen space with him in this film,” Kher gushed. “As a reflection and dedication to Mr. De Niro, I produced and directed this short film, which I dedicated to him.”
The effort turned into 29-minute film that Kher shot in Mumbai over four months. Kher describes it as “a journey of two girls who are at the crossroads in their lives, and are tasked by with one of life’s greatest challenges, to select a gift for Mr. Robert De Niro. This incredible endeavor impacts them beyond their expectations.” Rimal Arora and Yamini Kshirsagar play the leading roles in the film, and the latter wrote the script after they were tasked by Kher to buy a gift he actually gave to De Niro (I won’t say what it is because it will spoil the ending). But suffice to say their gifting plans go awry. De Niro doesn’t act in the short, but he is pictured with his gift at the film’s end, and he gave his permission for his name to be used in the short’s title. Read More »
Unquestionably one of the highlights of any awards season is the feel-good, everyone’s-still-a-winner Oscar Nominees Luncheon, which was held Monday at the Beverly Hilton. Academy Award nominees gather together and get to meet each other in a pressure-free zone — except for the huge press turnout to cover their arrivals (there are also press conference-style interviews and poolside one-on-one opportunities for TV cameras afterwards for some of the higher-profile nominees). Basically all they have to do is report to the risers set up in the Hilton’s International Ballroom as their name is called for the big group photo of the Oscar Class of 2012.
Related: 85th Academy Awards Nominees Photo
This year, rather than going alphabetically, the Academy summoned nominees by the table number they were sitting at. The table where I was lucky enough to be invited happened to be No. 1, smack dab in front of those risers, and so nominees Denzel Washington (Best Actor, Flight), producer Kathleen Kennedy (Lincoln), costume designer Colleen Atwood (Snow White And The Huntsman), and Makeup and Hairstyling contender Howard Berger (Hitchcock) were first to be called and had to stand the longest before the shot was taken. Actually, the roll call was bookended with longtime colleagues Kennedy — who was first up — and Lincoln director Steven Spielberg, who was dead-last (just after 9-year-old Best Actress nominee Quvenzhane Wallis, who got a rip-roaring reception when her name was announced).
Overall, 16 of the acting nominees (excluding Emmanuelle Riva, Alan Arkin and Philip Seymour Hoffman) and four of the directors (Michael Haneke is directing an opera in Europe) were in attendance, along with approximately 140 others who showed up and really seemed to have a good time at the annual affair, where the nominees also get their official certificate and a sweatshirt. Another acting contender, Daniel Day-Lewis came down with the flu and was very disappointed he couldn’t make it I am told. Like Day-Lewis, I also heard Quentin Tarantino was really bummed he couldn’t attend due to a bout with the flu. Seems to be rampant these days. Read More »
It intrigues me that Christopher Walken’s latest film — which just signed for North American release by Steelyard Pictures — is titled The Power Of Few. I’ve never heard of this distributor, and maybe the film is a cinematic treat, but I’m reasonably certain this movie will come and go with little fanfare. The title is memorable because it summarizes perfectly how I wish iconic actors like Walken would run their careers. I was thinking about this over the weekend, when I again watched Django Unchained and observed how the whole movie changed from the moment that Samuel L. Jackson first came into view as the awful plantation slave patriarch Stephen. I find it one of the most memorable performances I’ve seen in the last five years, a villain to rival any Spaghetti Western antagonist ever, and am amazed how Jackson disappeared into a fully fleshed character as completely as Daniel Day-Lewis did with Lincoln and Joaquin Phoenix did in The Master, and Denzel Washington did in Flight. All three of those guys got nominated for Oscars, and Sam did not, even though it’s his best performance since Pulp Fiction. It’s easy to say it came down to Christoph Waltz’s Best Supporting Actor nomination (Leo DiCaprio was also snubbed), but I think a factor is that Jackson works so often that Oscar voters discount his great performances because it’s just one of the seven films he did in that calender year. Contrast that to Day-Lewis. When he works, you know it’s a special event, there is high anticipation and he either wins or gets nominated almost each and every time out.
To me, Walken is in the same class as Jackson, and so is Robert De Niro and Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins, and so would Sean Connery and Gene Hackman if anybody could coax those guys out of retirement. Kevin Costner is knocking on the door as well.
De Niro got an Oscar nom for Silver Linings Playbook, and it seemed to work in reverse; it seemed to help that this was the first movie in a long time where the material wasn’t beneath his vast talent, and that he proved he still had it.
As for Walken, I was at the Toronto Film Festival premiere of the Martin McDonagh-directed Seven Psychopaths last fall, and observed something rare. Gifted with dialogue from In Bruges‘ McDonagh, Walken had people cheering to just about every line he delivered, in his singular style. I wish guys like him would save themselves for just the really good stuff (like De Niro and Pacino in Heat and De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook), instead of leaving a trail of cinematic turds along the way. Read More »