Berlin: Steven Soderbergh On ‘Side Effects’ And The “Twilight” Of His Career

Steven Soderbergh‘s Side Effects opened last Friday in the States courtesy of Open Road and starts its international rollout with tonight’s Berlin competition screening. The director, Rooney Mara, Jude Law and scripter Scott Z. Burns are all in town for support. Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones also star in the film about a successful New York couple (Mara and Tatum) whose world unravels when she begins taking a new drug prescribed by her psychiatrist (Law). It’s a thriller in the Hitchcockian sense that employs plot-twists and surprises set against the background of intersecting themes of psychology, psychopharmacology and the law.

This is Soderbergh’s fifth appearance in Berlin, “More than any other festival I’ve ever been to,” he said at a press conference this afternoon. It will also be his last for a while. The director is famously headed for an early retirement – or as he called it today, “a break” – after this film. (Although he still has his Liberace biopic Behind The Candelabra to air on HBO.) Asked why he chose to go the potboiler route before bowing out he said, “I just liked the idea of making a thriller as I near the twilight of my career.” He added that he’d been inspired by making Ché back in 2008. “However long this break ends up being, I wanted the last few things I was doing to be fun to make and to watch. Coming out the other end of Ché really made me want to have more fun.” Read More »

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#1 ‘Identity Thief’ Steals $36M Weekend (Bigger Than ‘Bridesmaids’), #2 ‘Warm Bodies’ $11.4M, #3 ‘Side Effects’ $9.5M: Blizzard Didn’t Blitz U.S. Box Office

By | Saturday February 9, 2013 @ 11:58pm PST

SATURDAY 11:45 PM, 7TH UPDATE: Well, Winter Storm Nemo raged over the Northeast Friday but box office stayed really solid. Despite movie theaters closed by nightfall and venues with lost power. Even though Northeast governors shut down all road traffic and imposed fines and even jailtime. That could have been terrible news for this weekend’s two major openers but wasn’t. Now for the dig out. Both Universal’s frenemies comedy Identity Thief and Open Roads Films’ Steven Soderbergh crime thriller Side Effects scored middling ‘B’ CinemaScores which won’t help or hurt word of mouth. Yet grosses went up double digits – +35% and +52% respectively from Friday to Saturday for the pair. True, this weekend’s total moviegoing is only $100M which is down a disappointing 45% from last year.

Even so I’m astonished that weekend trends showed incredibly strong numbers for Identity Thief (originally in 3,141 theaters) with $11.2 million Friday and $15 million (+35%) Saturday trending for $36M this weekend. Despite (or because) it was critically panned as derivative drivel, the Melissa McCarthy-Jason Bateman comedy is doing fantastic box office in nation’s center (which Hollywood derides as ‘flyover’ country). ”Everyone says Identity Thief is really good – even when it gets formulaic,” a rival exec admitted to me. And it only cost $35M, claims the studio. It’s even beating McCarthy’s Bridesmaids opening numbers - $26.2M weekend from 2,918 theaters on May 13, 2011. Of course, that Universal movie went on to do a huge multiple for the studio which would be happy with 3x now.

Identity Thief is doing 1/3 better than tracking predicted — and it was tracking well before the storm. Led initially by females, awareness and interest spread out to men, helped by 2 spots around the Super Bowl this past Sunday. But why Hollywood keeps making this story every decade is beyond me – 2003′s Bringing Down The House with Queen Latifah and Steve Martin, 1992′s HouseSitter with Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin. This one reteams Batemen with his Horrible Bosses director Seth Gordon, and it’s McCarthy’s first starring role since Bridesmaids which earned her an Oscar nomination. Identity Thief was produced by Scott Stuber, Pam Abdy and Bateman who pitched Stuber the idea while they were working together on Couples Retreat. They originally developed the film for two male leads, but then they saw McCarthy in Bridesmaids and adapted the co-lead role for her with more physical comedy. Overseas, pic opens day and date in Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Taiwan and continues rolling out abroad beginning February 21st.

#3 is last weekend’s winner, Summit Entertainment’s zombies rule comedy Warm Bodies, which grossed $3.2M Friday and $5.4M Saturday for maybe $11.7M after its big $25.1M opening a week ago. New cume is $36.8M.

#3 is Side Effects  (originally 2,605 theaters) opening with $2.8M Friday and $4.2M Saturday (+52%) for a $9.4M weekend. Open Road, underwritten by both AMC and Regal, claims it will make a profit at that result even with a production budget of $30M and a marketing spend of $20M. Open Road in January 2012 pre-bought the U.S. rights to Side Effects which was financed by Endgame Entertainment. Pic’s producers are Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, Gregory Jacobs, and Scott Z. Burns who is also the screenwriter. With a marquee director in Steven Soderbergh and a marquee cast in Jude Law, Channing Tatum, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, it’s perplexing why pic didn’t do better at the box office. Obviously, kicking off the publicity campaign with a New York Times piece doesn’t mean anything anymore. Rooney Mara even appeared on the cover of Vogue and Interview Magazine. But the hip stayed home. The trailer launched on November 2nd with Flight and the media campaign was focused on adults 18-49. A heavy word-of-mouth screening program included screenings for psychiatric doctor groups accompanied by niche publicity about the psychiatric medicine of the movie. The online campaign kicked off with a viral push for the fictional drug featured in the film. Interestingly, much of the content featured on the film’s website could only be revealed by rollover – alluding to the theme of the film that there is much more beneath the surface. Oh, well.

Warner Bros pushed up the print count to 1,405 for its Best Picture Oscar lead contender Argo in its 18th week to jump back into the Top Ten Films for a $2M weekend and $123.2M cume. And Paramount’s Top Gun reissued in 3D IMAX (300 locations) rounded out the Top Ten with $2M for the weekend  in support of the Blu-ray debut this month.

Here’s the Top Ten based on weekend estimates:

1. Identity Thief (Universal) NEW [Runs 3,141]
Friday $11.2M, Saturday $15.0M, Weekend $36.0M

2. Warm Bodies (Summit/Lionsgate) Week 2 [3,009]
Friday $3.2M, Saturday $5.4M, Weekend $11.7M (-43%), Cume $36.8M

3. Side Effects (Open Road) NEW [Runs 2,605]
Friday $2.8M, Saturday $4.2M, Weekend $9.4M

4. Silver Linings Playbook (Weinstein) Week 13 [Runs 2,809]
Friday $1.6M, Saturday $3.1M, Weekend  $6.4M, Cume $89.5M

5. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (Paramount) Week 3 [Runs 3,285]
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $2.7M, Weekend $5.7M, Cume $43.8M
Read More »

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Hot International Trailer: ‘Side Effects’

Steven Soderbergh‘s Side Effects opens Stateside on February 8 via Open Road. It will have its international premiere at the upcoming Berlin Film Festival, where the thriller is running in competition. Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones star in the … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Side Effects’

By | Friday November 2, 2012 @ 1:47pm PDT

Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones star in Steven Soderbergh‘s Side Effects, which reteams the director with his Contagion writer Scott Z. Burns. The two co-wrote this thriller about a successful New York couple (Mara and Tatum) whose world unravels when she begins taking a … Read More »

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Endgame Funds Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Bitter Pill’

By | Tuesday January 31, 2012 @ 12:21pm PST
Mike Fleming

James Stern’s Endgame Entertainment will co-finance with Private Defense Contractors the Steven Soderbergh-directed ‘Bitter Pill.’ The film stars Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures had originally been expected to finance, but that became shaky in the past few weeks. That gives the … Read More »

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Rooney Mara Takes Lead In Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Side Effects’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In her first lead role since her Oscar-nominated turn in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Rooney Mara has just committed to starring in Side Effects, the Steven Soderbergh-directed thriller. Mara will replace Blake Lively in a film that … Read More »

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Catherine Zeta-Jones Joins Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Side Effects’

By | Tuesday January 24, 2012 @ 4:13pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Catherine Zeta-Jones has been set to star in Side Effects, the thriller that Steven Soderbergh will direct. She joins Blake Lively, Jude Law and Channing Tatum, who are also negotiating. The Scott Z. Burns scripted film is being financed … Read More »

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Open Road Making Deal For Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Side Effects’; Film To Star Blake Lively, Jude Law, Channing Tatum

By | Wednesday January 18, 2012 @ 9:18am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Open Road is locking a distribution deal for Side Effects, the Scott Z. Burns script that Steven Soderbergh will direct as his next film. Blake Lively, Jude Law and Channing Tatum will star. The film is being financed by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures, with production to start in April on a thriller that has a budget in the $30 million range. This is a surprise outcome. Deadline revealed in early December that Summit was the frontrunner for a script (which had been called The Bitter Pill at the time). The script wasn’t distributed widely, at least initially. David Linde’s Lava Bear and Paramount were the other initial places (producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura’s deal is there), though a few equity financiers mulled the project as well. Soderbergh sparked to the film after Warner Bros halted The Man From U.N.C.L.E. after disagreements over budget and difficulty finding the lead after George Clooney dropped out because he was having surgery. Read More »

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