USA Network is shaking things up this summer with a schedule that features four returning series moving to new time slots, joined by two new shows, dramas series Rush and Satisfaction, paired together. This is a rare new drama series launch on USA where the newbies are not slotted behind established series. Rush and Satisfaction (formerly untitled Sean Jablonski) will premiere July 17, airing Thursdays at 9 PM and 10 PM, respectively. Rush, from writer-director Jonathan Levine and Fox 21, examines the world of renegade physician Dr. William Rush (Tom Ellis), a “medical fixer” who privately caters to LA’s elite. Satisfaction, from Universal Cable Prods, stars Matt Passmore and explores modern marriage at its midpoint. (watch the first trailer below).
USA Picks Up Medical Drama Pilots ‘Rush’ & Complications’ To Series, Confirms ‘White Collar’ Renewal
Dr. Lawson, meet Dr. Rush and Dr. Ellis. USA Network has given 10-episode series orders to two medical dramas whose protagonists share DNA with the lead in Royal Pains, ER physician-turned-concierge doctor Hank Lawson. Rush, from writer-director Jonathan Levine and Fox 21, stars Tom Ellis as on-call doctor. Complications, from Burn Notice creator Matt Nix and Fox TV Studios, stars Jason O’Mara as an ER doctor. It’s been a big week for Nix with two series pickups, comedy The Comedians at FX and now Complications.
Related: 2014 USA Network Pilots
Complications appears to be part of a two-project deal between USA and FtvS that also includes the renewal of White Collar for a six-episode sixth season, which we scooped last night. As usual, USA does not acknowledge whether this is White Collar‘s final season and likely will make the announcement closer to the show’s airing, as it most recently did with Psych.
OSCARS: From ‘Philomena’ To ‘Saving Mr. Banks’, Composers Show Creativity And Agility With This Year’s Scores
David Mermelstein is an AwardsLine contributor.
This year’s bevy of awards contender films is not only uncharacteristically large but also varied, particularly in how they were scored. The lack of similarity is apparent in everything from genre to instrumentation and even transcends musical matters, touching on the very core of the process. Specifically, when the composer is handpicked to buttress feelings and emotions primarily expressed in visual terms, what is his or working relationship with the director? Several prominent composers spoke about that intimate union, which in some cases was a new collaboration and in others a welcome reteaming.
Alexandre Desplat first worked with Stephen Frears on The Queen in 2006 and gratefully accepted the director’s offer to work on this year’s Philomena, a bittersweet road movie starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. “The story is intimate and deeply moving, and Stephen thought I could emphasize that,” Desplat says. “The story is such that it’s difficult not to be in tears: This little woman who seems to be lost but is actually ahead of everyone. It was so appealing to me. I came out with the main theme rather quickly.”
After elevating his profile with the 2010 best picture nominee Inglourious Basterds, in which he played a loathsome Nazi soldier, Daniel Bruhl is back in the spotlight for portraying two real-life mavericks this year: Racing legend Niki Lauda in Ron Howard’s Rush, and former Julian Assange ally Daniel Domscheit-Berg in Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate. Though he says “there’s always an awkward moment when you meet the characters for the first time,” Bruhl is pleased that both of his living subjects were happy with the way he interpreted their lives. Next up for the trilingual, Berlin-based actor? Tending to the tapas bar he owns and starring opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Wright in Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man.
AwardsLine: You were able to spend some time with Niki Lauda to research your role in Rush. What was the most valuable information you learned about him in those meetings?
Daniel Bruhl: I was blown away by his bluntness—something that I still envy, and I love playing characters that I partly envy. To be so 100% honest and direct with certain people, and to be fearless when it comes to solving problems or facing conflict with people face to face, is striking. I don’t know anyone who is like that. And the nice thing about him is that underneath it all is that charm, that sense of humor. The more time I spent with him, and the more times he had seen the movie, the more emotional he got. So that surprised me a bit. I’m half-Spanish, so I love hugging people. I do that all the time with friends. And he didn’t like that at first, the contact with men, and he always kept his distance from me. The first few times I stood there like an idiot. Later on, he saw me, and he said, “Daniel! Come here!” And he had that smile on his face. It’s such a relief to know that he is proud of the movie.
A month after Burn Notice wrapped its seven-season run on USA Network, the series’ creator Matt Nix is eying a return to USA’s primetime with gritty medical drama Complications. The project, from Burn Notice producer Fox TV Studios where Nix is under an overall deal, is one of three drama pilot orders at USA, along with two projects for FtvS corporate sibling Fox21: Novice, from Hell On Wheels creators Joe and Tony Gayton, and Rush, from filmmaker Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies). The three pilots join the recently ordered untitled Sean Jablonski hourlong pilot as well as period/sci-fi drama pilot Horizon, now in production, as the network is ramping up development with some of its long-running shows coming to an end. Burn Notice is over, with Psych expected to follow it out the door with its upcoming final season. Meanwhile the future of Necessary Roughness is uncertain. The bet on Nix’s Complications mirrors USA’s strategy with new drama Graceland, recently renewed for a second season, which comes from the creator of another of USA’s signature series, White Collar‘s Jeff Eastin. The new pickups also expand USA’s efforts to break out of the network’s blue sky, popcorn entertainment comfort zone with grittier, darker projects. “These pilots illustrate our continued commitment to creating the next evolution of powerful original dramas for which USA is well known,” said USA president Chris McCumber. “This particular mix of dramas comes from some of the top writers and producers in the industry, each of whom bring a distinct point of view and unique talent for developing high stakes storylines and compelling characters.” Here are details about the three newly picked up pilots:
‘Cloudy With Meatballs 2′ Beefs Up For $35M And Easy #1, ‘Rush’ Slows To Small $10.6M, ‘Baggage Claim’ Gets Lost With $9.2M, And ‘Don Jon’ Can’t Seduce Past $8.8M Weekend
SUNDAY 8 AM, 6TH UPDATE: A total of 4 major releases this weekend amounted to a soft domestic box office with total moviegoing slightly below last year’s. Sony Pictures Animation’s 3D sequel to its 2009 instant children’s classic, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2, managed to meet the studio’s lowball expectations of almost $35M, ahead of the first Cloudy‘s $30.3M opening even though sequel didn’t open in IMAX like that did. Result was the 4th biggest September opener of all time, but only a so-so toon result considering the big ones should manage $40+M debuts. The ‘A-’ CinemaScore, same as the original’s, helped word of mouth for the all-important Saturday kiddie bump which amounted to +63% over Friday since parents and their offspring lately have been underserved in the marketplace. Of course, it was also a massive release compared to the middling runs of the other newcomers this weekend. Studio said 80% of the audience was families - 37% parents, 43% children under age 12 and 20% were general moviegoers aged 12 and up. With a budget of $78M on CWACOM2, Sony Animation is taking a page from Universal’s Illumination Entertainment (makers of the hugely profitable Despicable Me franchise) and keeping costs modest. The division which turned 10 last year is now under Bob Osher and his head of production Michelle Raimo Kouyate. In the past five years, toon unit has created 3 franchises: Smurfs (whose sequel is crossing $300M worldwide), Hotel Transylvania ($348M), and CWACOM ($245.8M). Cloudy 2 opened day and date in only 3 territories – Central America, Chile, and Vietnam – this weekend. Directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn, pic has a large voice cast including Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Neil Patrick Harris, and Benjamin Bratt. Not sure why I should describe the pic’s marketing campaign since Sony Pictures unfairly fired film marketing chief Marc Weinstock when the fact is the studio’s 2013 product has mostly underwhelmed and the brass didn’t want to blame themselves. Even in this case, critics gave Cloudy 2 only 58% fresh reviews on Rotten Tomatoes complaining that the sequel wasn’t as “clever or inventive as its predecessor but compensates with enough dazzling visuals”.
Ron Howard’s Formula One R-rated adult actioner Rush from Imagine Entertainment and Revolution Films, with Universal distributing in the U.S. only, expanded after platforming a week ago. It earned an ‘A-’ CinemaScore from audiences to add to stellar reviews from critics. But ticket sales remained slow and disappointing – only an $10.3M weekend and $10.6M domestic cume - so the curse of car racing pics lives on. Note that Rush‘s negative cost to financiers Exclusive Media and Cross Creek was only $38M. Movie should do better overseas where Formula One is a major sport. It was #1 in the UK and has banked $17.6M in 21 territories where Exclusive is distributing. Entertainment One Group is releasing in Canada. When you’re a 2-time Academy Award winner (A Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon) and rich and successful to boot, you’ve earned the right like Ron Howard to pursue your passion projects especially when his directing debut was Grand Theft Auto back in 1977. Even more so when you find your own financing for them like he’s done here. Rush was directed by Howard who reteams with Frost/Nixon scribe Peter Morgan to rev the 1970s true story rivalry between Grand Prix racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. It stars Chris Hemsworth who if he’s truly the next worldwide action star (after success in Thor and The Avengers and Snow White And The Huntsman) should have opened this film far bigger helped by a full frills TV campaign. Problem is pic is only appealing to older males and building among older females but not drawing younger moviegoers. Howard directs and Morgan scripts to much acclaim as well as produces with Andrew Eaton, Eric Fellner, Brian Oliver, and of course Imagine partner Brian Grazer. But the low gross could affect the pic’s Oscar chances despite awards buzz since its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and 90% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Fox Searchlight’s PG-13 waste-of-time rom-com Baggage Claim also won an ‘A-’ CinemaScore despite dismal critical reviews – only 18% positive on Rotten Tomatoes and opened with $9.2M. The studio was so embarrassed by this dopey premise pic that it never bothered sending me any pre-release or post-release intel about it. That said, films about a flight attendant’s love life belong back in the 1960s. The 2013 twist that she’s African-American is just lame. Written and directed and produced by David E. Talbert (whose first movie was 2008′s First Sunday and who gave his wife an exec producer credit because he cribbed from her female friends’ conversations), pic stars Paula Patton who co-starred in FSL’s 2010 Just Wright and whom many believe wouldn’t have such a thriving movie career if she weren’t married to Robin Thicke. Unfortunately Taye Diggs and Djimon Hounsou also co-star in this crapfest. I rarely praise Tyler Perry but he would have found a fresher way to position this.
Still, at the box office it beat out Relativity’s R-rated Don Jon‘s $8.8M weekend. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directing, writing, and starring vehicle, pic followed its January Sundance debut with a late night bidding battle that ended with Relativity paying a $4 million advance and a $25 million P&A commitment for a film financed by Voltage Pictures’ Nicolas Chartier on just a $3 million budget. (Although Relativity says it’s $5M-$6M.) Even an interesting supporting cast of Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, and Rob Brown didn’t help. Too bad pic received a disappointing ‘C+’ CinemaScore with audiences despite 81% positives on Rotten Tomatoes with critics. A HitRecord/Ram Bergman production, it looks like a mistake to have bowed to Gordon-Levitt’s wishes and distributed Don Jon in 2,422 theaters in North America without platforming first. (Remtrack is releasing in Canada, and Voltage International overseeing international.) What’s sad here is that a film called original, unexpected, and daring for trying to reinvent the tired rom-com genre was overlooked by audiences despite a plethora of TV advertising and other awareness. Marketing kicked off with the MTV audience via the VMAs a month ago followed by very heavy and high profile cable including Comedy Central’s James Franco Roast and the usual sports games. Interestingly, Relativity was the first studio to drive audiences from a TV spot directly to the film’s official Tumblr Page. Gordon-Levitt took over IMDB.com as guest editor and Xbox Live: Home Channel hosted a full-day roadblock right after Grand Theft Auto V was released. Despite Don Jon‘s low gross this weekend, Relativity claims this is one of the highest recent openings for a directorial debut by an actor. Let’s remember that Ben Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone only did $5.5M its first weekend – and he became a major helmer.
Here’s the Top Ten list based on weekend estimates:
1. Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 3D (Sony) NEW [Runs 4,001] PG
Friday $9.2M, Saturday $15.0M, Weekend $35.0M
2. Prisoners (Alcon/Warner Bros) Week 2 [Runs 3,290] R
Friday $3.3M, Saturday $4.8M, Weekend $11.0M (-46%), Cume $38.8M
3. Rush (Imagine/Universal) Week 2 [Runs 2,297] R
Friday $3.6M, Saturday $4.3M, Weekend $10.3M, Cume $10.6M
4. Baggage Claim (Fox Searchlight) NEW [Runs 2,027] PG13
Friday $3.2M, Saturday $3.8M, Weekend $9.2M
5. Don Jon (Relativity) NEW [Runs 2,422] R
Friday $3.2M, Saturday $3.4M, Weekend $8.8M
Listen to (and share) episode 42 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s awards columnist and host David Bloom wrap up last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmys and what they may suggest will happen in this weekend’s Primetime Emmys show. They also take a look at whether 12 Years A Slave is indeed the Oscar frontrunner after snagging the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival. Finally, Pete gives his take on this week’s new movie releases, including Ron Howard’s very fast new entry in the Oscar race, Formula One biopic Rush in limited release, the intense thriller Prisoners starring a full slate of Oscar winners; Thanks For Sharing with Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Ruffalo; and Enough Said, a romantic comedy from Nicole Holofcener featuring one of the last films with the late James Gandolfini.
Listen to (and share) episode 41 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about several terrific films coming out of the Toronto International Film Festival with strong awards momentum, including Rush, August: Osage County, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, The Fifth Estate, Dallas Buyers Club, Philomena and Parkland. Pete says a couple of smaller films debuting at Toronto may have a chance for Golden Globe recognition, including One Chance and Enough Said, where, at its Toronto screening, Julia Louis-Dreyfus took to the stage to remember her late co-star James Gandolfini. Just a couple of days ahead of this weekend’s Creative Emmys ceremony, Pete looks at the ultimate no-win situation for durable TV stars who can’t quite snag a statue, including Bill Maher, Bob Newhart and Angela Lansbury.
Pete also looks at the weekend’s film debuts, including likely box-office winner Insidious: Chapter 2 from horror auteur James Wan, and The Family, a fish-out-of-water comedy featuring a prominent cast, and Wadjda, an excellent specialty release from Saudi Arabia’s first female director.
And the hits just keep on coming.
You could tell from the smiles on the faces of Universal executives that Sunday night’s Toronto Film Festival premiere of the Formula 1 racing drama Rush was a smash hit at the Roy Thomson Hall. Not only did the filmmakers, including director Ron Howard, receive enthusiastic standing ovations, but the real-life subject of the film, Niki Lauda, received a rousing standing O when introduced after the film finished.
The story is a powerful one, revolving around the intense rivalry during one season in the 1970s between drivers Lauda and James Hunt, and what happens during the course of that year is the stuff of great human drama. Initially Universal passed on the film when first pitched, even with studio golden boy and Oscar-winner Ron Howard involved. But as circumstance would have it, it all came around again after the film was produced independently (Howard’s first indie since the start of his career with Grand Theft Auto) for a reported $45 million, and Universal is proudly releasing it after all. Universal chairman Adam Fogelson told me he is extremely excited to be launching the film and has great confidence in it. “We are going to make this work,” he said with certainty. The reaction here Sunday night can only increase his confidence.
At the Thompson Hotel post-screening party, everyone involved was getting great compliments on the finished film across the board. Especially Howard, who noted that not only men were responding but surprisingly women, too. “Women responded to the movie differently, but even with more emotion and intensity than men, both genders testing it super high,” he said of the film, which is not your typical Formula 1 racing movie, but a great character study that happens to be set in the world of auto racing. I first saw it early in the marketing process in May and thought then, and still now, that the pure emotion of the story of the rivalry between these racing icons would have great appeal way beyond the partisans of the sport. I also think it has Academy potential with no-brainer nominations for Anthony Dod Mantle’s superb cinematography, the editing, sound, Hans Zimmer’s score and Daniel Bruhl‘s stunning supporting turn as Lauda, who endures a horrific accident on the track. That’s all in addition to possible directing, writing and picture considerations.
I was interviewing Bradley Cooper yesterday and we talked about the emerging 2013 awards season. “I guess we’ll know by Toronto what it’s going to look like this year,” he said remembering he was in back to back World Premieres there last year with Silver Linings Playbook and The Place Beyond The Pines (which Focus bought at TIFF).
That’s certainly true to some degree but in terms of Oscar tea leaves, today’s announcement of the first leg of this year’s all-important Toronto International Film Festival lineup was both significant and a bit of a head scratcher that will have awards watchers looking even more intently to Telluride, Venice and the New York Film Festival to get a more complete picture of just what this season is shaping up to be.
Though there were many expected contenders among the 17 galas and 56 special presentations listed , there were curious omissions of movies that might have seemed like no-brainers to go to Toronto. Where for instance were the expected North American debuts of Cannes favorites like The Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, Robert Redford‘s tour-de-force work in J.C. Chandor’s stunning All Is Lost or Alexander Payne‘s very well-received Nebraska? Are these movies holding out for a prestigious NY slot instead? I would be willing to bet (call it a hunch) that all three turn up in Telluride over the Labor Day weekend just before TIFF begins. Payne loves Telluride and goes even when he doesn’t have a film to show. Redford and the Coens would seem naturals for long overdue Telluride Film Fest tributes. Neither has ever been (of course Redford has his own little ski town festival to keep him occupied). This is the perfect opportunity for that and because Telluride doesn’t announce its schedule in advance and doesn’t label anything as a “premiere” other fests don’t mind movies that they are debuting sneaking in there first.
EXCLUSIVE: Sensing it could have a strong year-end awards season contender, Universal has decided to platform its January 10th wide release of its Afghanistan war drama Lone Survivor with a 12/27 limited (LA/NY) debut. The shift will qualify the film for Oscars and other awards and get critical and audience word-of-mouth out there before the broader previously announced early 2014 release. Having seen the Peter Berg-directed true story in unfinished form, the move makes sense for a film that, despite unrelenting graphic violence that is hard to watch at times, really packs the kind of emotional punch that should play well with awards voters.
Coming off the box office disaster of Battleship, the movie represents a strong return to form for Berg that is more in line with what he did on 2004′s Friday Night Lights than the aforementioned 2012 bloated blockbuster. The film, which stars Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Eric Bana and Taylor Kitsch (who also finds redemption after facing critical brickbats for both John Carter and Battleship), is a riveting story of four Navy SEALs involved in an ill-fated covert mission to thwart a high-level Taliban operative when they are ambushed by enemy forces in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. Notwithstanding some of the most intense and realistic battle scenes in recent memory, it goes beyond the average war film in fleshing out real three-dimensional human beings caught up in the moral consequences of war, and in that way is more reminiscent of past Best Picture Oscar winners like Platoon (1986) and Universal’s own The Deer Hunter (1978). One scene in particular is riveting to watch in which the SEALS, weighing their own chances of survival, collectively must decide if a small group of locals should live or die. Certainly the film presents moral dilemmas that will cause strong debate. It is based on the New York Times bestseller, Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account Of Operation Redwing And The Lost Heroes Of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell (with Patrick Robinson), the Navy SEAL portrayed in the film by Wahlberg.