Universal has released a trailer for the spy thriller Safe House, which stars Denzel Washington as a rogue CIA agent and Ryan Reynolds as the guy trying to keep him alive. It looks like it could be fun watching Washington play a tough guy with a bit of bad in him — that would be a similar formula to his corrupt L.A. cop in Training Day, which earned him the Best Actor Oscar.
The Guard star Brendan Gleeson has joined Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, Brit Marling and Anna Kendrick in the Redford-directed The Company You Keep. Gleeson will next be seen opposite Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs, in the John Cusack-starrer The Raven, and with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds in the Daniel Espinosa-directed Safe House for Universal. He’s repped by Principal Entertainment and Ireland-based The Agency.
EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment is in talks with McG to direct Puzzle Palace, the cop drama script by David Guggenheim. Summit acquired the project at a pitch early last year from Guggenheim after the scribe sold the spec script Safe House to Universal, which set Daniel Espinoza to direct Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. Puzzle Palace is being produced by Temple Hill partners Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen, who produce the Twilight series for Summit. McG most recently directed the 20th Century Fox comedy This Means War with Chris Pine, Tom Hardy and Reese Witherspoon. McG is repped by WME and Management 360.
EXCLUSIVE: Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese are getting the job turning the Hasbro toyline Micronauts into a feature film for JJ Abrams and Paramount Pictures. Along with the prospect of another Transformers film, Micronauts was one of the Hasbro brands mentioned as a priority project in a third quarter earnings conference call for investors today by Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner. Paramount recently made a deal with Hasbro for the property, to be produced by Bad Robot’s Abrams and Bryan Burk and Hasbro’s Goldner and Bennett Schneir. Micronauts marks another big job for a scribe team that had its breakthrough with Zombieland. They followed with G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation, which is now in production with Jon M. Chu directing and Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis joining a returning cast that includes Channing Tatum. The scribes wrote the X-Men spinoff film Deadpool for Fox, which has Ryan Reynolds attached to play the character he originated in Wolverine, and visual effects wiz Tim Miller set to direct. Wernick & Rheese are also adapting the graphic novel Cowboy Ninja Viking for Disney. The scribes are repped by WME.
Fireflies in the Garden premiered at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival and screened in a few overseas territories but never found a U.S. distributor — until last week, when it was revealed that the Dennis Lee drama will be shown in select cities Oct. 14. Julia Roberts and Ryan Reynolds star with Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson, and Carrie-Anne Moss. Here’s the trailer. If you were a studio boss with the chance to pick it up, would you? Because for three years, they apparently all said no.
Ryan Reynolds & Sandra Bullock Plot TV Reunion: Co-Starring In Fox Animated Comedy Written By Reynolds & Allan Loeb
EXCLUSIVE: The Proposal co-stars and good friends Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock are teaming again, this time in television. Reynolds and Bullock are expected to lead the voice cast of And Then There Was Gordon, an animated comedy from Reynolds and Allan Loeb’s recently launched TV company DarkFire, which has received a presentation order from Fox. Reynolds and Allan Loeb will co-write the script together, with Reynolds also voicing a character. Bullock is in talks to join the project as an executive producer and a lead cast member. And Then There Was Gordon centers on an ordinary child surrounded by his prodigy siblings and brilliant, but neurotic mother, a role I hear Bullock is eyed for. 20th Century Fox TV, where DarkFire has a first-look deal, is producing. Bullock would executive produce alongside DarkFire principals Reynolds, Loeb, Steven Pearl and Jonathon Komack Martin, all repped by CAA. And Then There Was Gordon seems to be the polar opposite to Fox/20th TV’s upcoming animated series Allen Gregory, which centers on a boy prodigy surrounded by average kids. This marks the writing debut for Reynolds, while Loeb’s writing credits include features Just Go With It and Wall Street 2.
UPDATE: The feature film Fireflies in the Garden was shot in 2007 and had been languishing. But today producers Vanessa Coifman, Marco Weber, and Sukee Chew said they’ll finally release the film domestically. Written and directed by Dennis Lee, the semi-autobiographical R-rated Fireflies will be shown on Oct. 14 in New York, LA, Chicago, and San Francisco. No name of the distributor, however. The film initially bowed at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2008 from Senator Entertainment and was released in a handful of foreign territories. But with stars like Julia Roberts and Ryan Reynolds joining Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson, and Carrie-Anne Moss, the producers obviously are hoping it will find a U.S. audience.
Ryan Reynolds and Allan Loeb’s recently launched TV company DarkFire has made its first sale, and it was a quick one. The comedy project Guidance, from feature writer Tim Dowling (Just Go With It, Role Models), was just taken out by 20th TV where DarkFire has a first-look deal. In their first stop at Fox, the network took the show off the market and the rest of the pitch meetings were canceled. Tyler Labine (Reaper, Mad Love) is attached to star in and produce Guidance, which is described as an adult buddy comedy set in high school. Reynolds has been very involved in the project, which has received a put pilot commitment from Fox, including attending pitch meetings. He is executive producing with the rest of the DarkFire principals, Loeb, Steven Pearl and Jonathon Komack Martin. Dowling has ties to both Loeb and Reynolds. He co-wrote comedy feature Just Go With It with Loeb and, as an actor, he did a guest spot on Reynolds’ ABC sitcom Two Guys and a Girl 13 years ago. Guidance brings Labine back to Fox where he toplined the short-lived comedy series Sons of Tucson. The actor, recently seen in Rise of the Planets of the Apes, has been in-demand in TV, toplining 3 series in the last 2 years: Reaper, Sons of Tucson and Mad Love. …
EXCLUSIVE: Deadline revealed this morning that Ridley Scott was returning to his sci-fi classic Blade Runner. His Scott Free partner and brother Tony Scott is also getting serious about a new version of a movie classic. Scott is in talks with Warner Bros to direct a reboot of the 1969 Sam Peckinpah-directed The Wild Bunch. This film becomes one of three or so that Scott is most eager to direct as his follow-up to the Denzel Washington-Chris Pine action film Unstoppable.
Scott’s next assignment will be Hell’s Angels, though its timing will depend on whether he gets the actor he wants to play gang leader Sonny Barger. I’m told that he wants Jeff Bridges. They’ve not met face to face yet, because Bridges is right now touring his self-titled musical album that he recorded after he won the Oscar playing Bad Blake in Crazy Heart. Once Bridges gets back to film work, he’s booked to star with Ryan Reynolds in Universal’s R.I.P.D. and Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures’ The Seventh Son. If Scott has his heart set on Bridges and the actor says yes, Hell’s Angels won’t get underway until next spring or later. Fox 2000′s Hell’s Angels is set around the Laughlin riots of 2001 when the Angels were caught up in a war with rival gang The Mongols. The drama revolves around a friendship that develops between …
Movie companies lately have been coming up with out-of-the-box ways to spread the word on their movies, like the promo that Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman made for The Change-Up, or the musical that Final Destination 5 star Miles Fisher made to promote this Friday’s opening. Rarely do these viral efforts feature the head of a studio. But Paul Rudd got Harvey Weinstein to take part in a Funnyordie.com bit in which the actor subjects Weinsein to the worst marketing ideas ever to sell the film that Weinstein acquired in Sundance. While Weinstein was said to have been an inspiration for Tom Cruise’s manic Les Grossman character in Tropic Thunder, the real Harvey actually seems a pretty calm screen presence.
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 7TH UPDATE: Another strong day for Twentieth Century Fox’s prequel Rise Of The Planet Of The Apeswhich scored a $19.4M Saturday (small -2% drop from Friday’s $19.7M), indicating word of mouth was good about these CGI animals and Andy Serkis. With an estimated $14.9M Sunday that makes for a 3-day weekend of $54M, lots more than the $35M which Hollywood expected. No doubt about it: origins story movies are working this summer if they’re done as well as this and X-Men: First Class which was another prequel on a Fox franchise. Nice win for former News Corp No. 2-turned-showbiz producer Peter Chernin and his film lieutenant Dylan Clark on Chernin Entertainment’s first film release. The pair said in a statement Sunday: “We’re thrilled to launch Chernin Entertainment with a film that so positively resonated with audiences. We’re proud of the artistic achievement as it is a testament to a smart script, great direction by Rupert Wyatt, stellar actor performances, the amazing visual effects created by the WETA team, and the passion and dedication of the entire crew and our partners at Twentieth Century Fox.” The other major studio new release, Universal’s The Change-Up, surprisingly ticked up (+4%) from Friday for $5.2M Saturday but that’s still a very disappointing $13.5M weekend. This truly isn’t Ryan Reynolds’ summer of stardom after the collapse of Green Lantern here and abroad. Stars are supposed to open movies to at least $20M. Overall moviegoing this weekend looks like $170M, which is up +30% from last year.
Here’s the Top 10:
1. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (Fox) NEW [3,648 Theaters]
Friday $19.7M, Saturday $19.4M, Weekend $54M
It’s not just surprising but kinda shocking that Time magazine declared this “2011′s Best Film So Far” and that even fanboy websites declared that “whatever expectations you’re likely to have going in, there’s a good chance this movie will surpass them”. Directed by Rupert Wyatt and written by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes seemed too schlocky a project for Peter Chernin to waste his time producing. Or so Hollywood thought. Its CinemaScore was an ‘A-’ and exit polls showed males making up 54% of the audience which was 59% at or over age 25. Why all the fuss over the prequel to such a dated franchise? Because Fox PR claims this is the first live-action film in the history of movies to star, and be told from the point of view of, a sentient animal — a character with human-like qualities, who can strategize, organize and ultimately lead a revolution, and with whom audiences are supposed to experience a real emotional bond. (But my commenters counter: What about Babe etc?) Fox execs point out that the studio wasn’t going to do the guys in ape suits thing again. So the film was impossible to make until James Cameron’s Avatar and Peter Jackson’s WETA Digital progressed performance capture technology to the point of the most realistic CGI ever. Given that, the claimed $93M pricetag co-financed by Fox, Dune Entertainment, and Ingenious seems absurdly modest.
Every single monkey, baboon, and ape in the movie is a product of this performance capture techonology. That earned raves from PETA and for Wyatt a Proggy Award given to animal-friendly companies, people and products. (PETA also showed up at the Ape‘ premiere in LA with signs reading, “Real Apes Love CGI,” and “Thank you, Fox for not using real Apes.”) The buzz this weekend is that Andy Serkis does an award-worthy job as the main chimp Caesar who leads the rebellion. But I don’t know why the trailers I saw mistakenly focused on James Franco who isn’t why moviegoers flocked to opening weekend. Fox was hoping for North American box office in the low-ball $30sM, so $54M is fantastic. “Phenomenal opening validating a sensational marketing effort led by Oren Aviv and Tony Sella,” a Fox exec gushed to me. Then again, tracking has been good for males and fans of the original movies, although softer for females. The fact is that the studio had a lot of ground to make up with this movie because fanboys hated the Tim Burton version from a decade ago. But this origins story scored 82% positive reviews on RottenTomatoes.
Marketing with a company called Mekanism was primarily focused online with the intent to create a global viral phenomenon and spark millions of Internet conversations about the film. There was the strategic use of digital influencers, creative content, and social media platforms to create widespread engagement for over 14 million viral video views and hundreds of millions of earned media impressions. “We’ve created excitement, driven credible word of mouth, and ensured that butts will be in seats to watch Apes Rise on opening weekend,” A Fox exec told me before Friday. WETA Digital hosted a livestream event on Facebook from WETA’s headquarters in New Zealand and gave viewers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the work on the film. The livestream event was live on Facebook’s official fan page for Avatar as well. A free online digital comic book prequel to the movie debuted prior to release from comic series writer Daryl Gregory and artists Damian Couceiro and Tony Parker to set the stage for the movie. There was a new free 5-page digital comic book story weekly since mid-July until the final 10-page conclusion on August 3rd.
2. The Smurfs - 3D (Sony) Week 2 [3,395 Theaters]
Friday $6M, Saturday $8.2M, Weekend $21M (-41%), Cume $76.2M
It’s embarrassing for me just to be writing about The Smurfs. But after just 10 days of release, the film has generated $128.9M worldwide with an overseas cume to date of $52.7M. One of the big surprises of Summer 2011, last weekend’s exceptionally strong debut in North America was followed by enormous strength in several key countries including Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Belgium, France and Germany, among others. This worldwide number is especially impressive when you consider the film has only debuted in about 3 dozen territories. In North America this weekend, The Smurfs saw big mid-week sales that led box office from Monday through Thursday. Strong ticket sales continued into the weekend and went up +37% on Saturday.
3. Cowboys & Aliens (DreamWorks/Universal) Week 2 [3,754 Theaters]
Friday $4.7M, Saturday $6.4M, Weekend $15.7M (-57%), Cume $67.3M
Not an embarrassing drop, but it didn’t have far to fall either. The big question is whether Cowboys & Aliens can make up the deficit overseas where Daniel Craig is a bigger star but also Westerns don’t do well traditionally. For an astute dissection of what went wrong, read this pre-release post by Deadline’s Mike Fleming, Can ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ Lasso Youth?. He answers the questions about why this well-pedigreed pic, despite the godfathering presence of Steven Spielberg and Imagine’s Ron Howard and Brian Grazer and direction by Jon Favreau, went into the tank. He details the tortured development history involving more than a dozen writers over 14 years. He analyzes the problems of a confused mash-up of two genres that usually don’t cross paths. And he reveals that with a cash break participation pool in the 35% range and no 3D conversion to justify higher ticket prices this movie may have been doomed from the start.
4. The Change-Up (Universal) NEW [2,913 Theaters]
Friday $4.7M, Saturday $5M, Weekend $13.5M
Universal started out the summer very high on this raunchy R-rated comedy with a $52M budget (Relativity was a financing partner) especially because The Change-Up was from the director of Wedding Crashers and the writers of The Hangover. Still it was surprising that David Dobkin would waste his time on such a tired body-switching premise, but this film won’t have the enormous playability or multiples of this summer’s other raunchy R-rated laughers. CinemaScore was a ‘B’ with an audience that was 59% Female vs. 41% male and 50% at or older than age 30 vs. 50% under
30. All along tracking had been strongest with females, with younger females demonstrating the strongest interest. “It’s disappointing. We’re kind of confounded by it,” a Uni exec told me Friday night. “This movie played like the best R-rated comedies we have.” But reviews hammered this pic and trailers looked lame. Marketing was sub-par as if red-band online trailers, one that opened the campaign and one that closed it, would put people in seats. Maybe audiences were tired after so many of Summer 2011′s R-rated comedies.
The TV campaign began early with a spot on the finale for The Family Guy in late May, followed by a run on the NBA Finals in early June and then cable, cable, and more cable channels as well as the TV talk shows. The supposedly “likeable” pairing of Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman was a key strategy in publicity, and they did many of their promotional appearances together. Universal fanned out with an extensive word-of-mouth campaign and 350 screenings across the country. But none of it worked.
5. Captain America - 3D (Marvel/Disney/Paramount) Week 3 [3,620 Theaters]
Friday $3.7M, Saturday $5.5M, Weekend $13M, Cume $143.1M
6. Harry Potter/Hallows Pt 2 – 3D (Warner Bros) Week 4 [3,175 Theaters]
Friday $3.3M, Saturday $5.1M, Weekend $12.1M, Cume $342.8M
7. Crazy, Stupid, Love (Warner Bros) Week 2 [3,020 Theaters]
Friday $3.7M, Saturday $4.9M, Weekend $12.1M (-37%), Cume $42.1M
8. Friends With Benefits (Sony) Week 3 [2,398 Theaters]
Friday $1.4M, Saturday $1.9M, Weekend $4.7M, Cume $48.5M
9. Horrible Bosses (New Line/Warner Bros) Week 5 [2,025 Theaters]
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $1.9M, Weekend $4.6M, Cume $105.1M
10. Transformers 3 – 3D (Paramount) Week 6 [1,854 Theaters]
Friday $850K, Saturday $1.3M, Weekend $3M, Cume $344.1M
Universal Pictures is thinking outside the box in trying to raise awareness for its David Dobkin-directed body-switching comedy The Change-Up, which opens Friday against Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The Change-Up has been tracking a bit softly, and the studio today sent a promo that highlights the chemistry and appeal of the film’s stars, Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds. The studio has done something else that caught my eye: Similar to when Lionsgate sold $6 tickets to The Lincoln Lawyer through Groupon, Universal is offering $6 tickets to the movie through DailyCandy Deals, the Comcast-owned online daily newsletter that offers discounts from jewelry to restaurants. Here’s the offer as it was sent to me through an email from movie site Fandango: “As a Fandango fan, you’re invited to score a special deal from our friends at DailyCandy Los Angeles. Round up the gals this weekend and ogle Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman in The Change-Up for just $6 (up to a $14 value). Even more swoon-worthy: DailyCandy will send new Deals at 40-70% off straight to your inbox, along with insider info on Los Angeles restaurants, spas, boutiques, and more.”
When Deadline broke news last month that Warner Bros has paid $2 million to acquire the David Dobkin spec script Arthur & Lancelot in a bidding war that involved Universal and Fox, insiders said the project would be fast-tracked. That was an understatement. The studio has dated the movie for a March 15, 2013 release. It’s a $90 million budget contemporary re-imagining of the classic tale that Dobkin will direct and produce, with Lionel Wigram with Jeff Kleeman exec producing. Dobkin’s about to open the Universal comedy The Change-Up with Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds. The deal essentially squashed several other sword and the stone pics that Warner Bros was developing. That included Bryan Singer’s remake of the 1981 John Boorman pic Excalibur, and the version that Sherlock Holmes director Guy Ritchie had with Trainspotting scribe John Hodge.
The Whale, a documentary about a lonely young killer whale who caused upheaval in a small Western Canadian town when he tried to make friends with humans, will be released theatrically by Paladin, company president Mark Urman announced today. Canada-born Ryan Reynolds, fresh off his starring role in Green Lantern, narrates and is an executive producer on the project. The doc will play limited engagements in late summer and expand in the fall. Paladin recently released Tom Shadyac’s documentary I Am and launches Love Etc. on Friday.
Universal Pictures has just scheduled its laffer R.I.P.D. for June 28, 2013. The Robert Schwentke-directed supernatural comedy is based on a Matt Manfredi & Phil Hay-scripted film centering on a police force comprised of undead officers, based on the Peter Lenkov comic. (R.I.P.D. stands for the otherworldly Rest In Peace Department). Zach Galifianakis was going to star but exited over timing issues since Ryan Reynolds was on the hook for a Warner Bros sequel to Green Lantern. So Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges teamed up instead. R.I.P.D. is produced by Neal H. Moritz, Michael Fottrell, and Mike Richardson.
Let’s see, back on April 28, The Wrap ripped off Deadline’s revelation that Jeff Bridges was negotiating to star with Ryan Reynolds in the Robert Schwentke-directed R.I.P.D. at Universal, after Deadline revealed that Zach Galifianakis wouldn’t be doing the movie. Now, The Wrap is claiming an “exclusive” that it’s actually happening. Lame.
EXCLUSIVE: Actor Ryan Reynolds and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps writer Allan Loeb have launched a TV company together. The company, DarkFire, will be based at 20th Century Fox TV with a two-year first-look deal. The company will focus on developing comedy projects, primarily single-camera and mostly for the broadcast networks, with Loeb himself set to write at least one pilot script a year. DarkFire’s name blends the monikers of Reynolds’ shingle with producing partner Jonathon Komack Martin, Dark Trick Films, and Loeb’s company with partner Steven Pearl, Scarlet Fire. Martin and Pearl will run DarkFire, which also will hire a dedicated TV executive as the two will continue to be involved in their separate companies’ film business.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is negotiating with Jeff Bridges to star with Ryan Reynolds in the Robert Schwentke-directed supernatural comedy R.I.P.D. The Matt Manfredi & Phil Hay-scripted film centers on a police force comprised of undead officers, based on the Peter Lenkov comic. Zach Galifianakis was going to star but exited over uncertainty of when Reynolds would be able to make the film because of the option Warner Bros holds for a sequel to Green Lantern. Bridges, who won the Oscar for Crazy Heart, is booked to star in The Seventh Son for Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures. He’s repped by CAA and Schiff Co.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Vera Farmiga to star with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds in Safe House, the Daniel Espinosa-directed drama. Production is already under way, with Reynolds playing a young agent assigned to escort a dangerous criminal to safety after they are attacked at a safe house. Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Robert Patrick and Liam Cunningham will also star in the drama. Scott Stuber is producing and Intrepid Pictures’ Trevor Macy and Marc D. Evans are exec producers. Farmiga will play a CIA operative supervising Reynolds’ character. Farmiga stars in Source Code and made her directorial debut in Higher Ground, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. She’s repped by CAA and Authentic.