BREAKING: Jeff Robinov’s back and with an investment from Fosun International Ltd. which will help finance his war chest that brings in a total of what sources say is a combined equity/debt structure of around $1B. Fosun just filed their paperwork with the Hong Kong stock exchange, stating that it entered the agreement on June 6.
Details of the Fosun deal structure is, as yet, unknown as the company did not disclose it nor have they disclosed any governance issues, the deal breakdown of how much equity vs. debt. In other words, its as ambiguous as can be at the moment. It is also understood that Robinov is in talks with other possible financial partners as well. Huayi Brothers still could be involved in the final deal as a distributor in certain territories and Robinov is also talking to European investors. The entire financial structure of the deal is currently being worked out, sources said.
Meanwhile, Fosun said in its filing, “pursuant to the Agreement, the company will exercise significant influence over the distribution arrangements of movies produced by Studio 8 in the mainland of China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan regions.” They also just put out a press release which is translated from Chinese that states through its investments, the deal gives Fosun the opportunity to share “Chinese elements and stories in Studio 8′s Chinese co-productions and wants to “build a global culture platform covering movie, entertainment, culture … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Entertainment is negotiating with Seth Gordon to direct Uncharted, the live-action adaptation of the top-selling PlayStation vidgame series Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. This brings the Horrible Bosses and Identity Thief helmer back to his origins, where he helmed the celebrated documentary The King Of Kong and immersed himself in video game culture. The film is an Arad/Atlas Entertainment Production, produced by Chuck Roven, Avi Arad, Alex Gartner, and Ari Arad.
The most recent script of Uncharted is by Safe House scribe David Guggenheim, and the studio was hot enough on that draft that they set him to write Bad Boys 3. The project has had several prominent filmmakers involved over the years, most recently David O Russell, before he left to helm the Roven-produced American Hustle, a Best Picture Oscar contender. Next step is to find a protagonist to play Nathan Drake, the treasure and antiquities hunter and descendant of the famed explorer Sir Francis Drake. With a female journalist and his mentor by his side, Drake attempts to find the lost treasure of El Dorado. It is a big-scale adventure film. Read More »
Changes continue at Sony Pictures amid the wake of the pre-Thanksgiving announcement that it plans to cut $250M in costs during the next few years as it shifts focus from movies to TV. Layoffs were announced today including Sony Pictures Technology President Chris Cookson, as his department is being absorbed into Sony Pictures Entertainment. A source familiar with the situation tells Deadline that the number of job cuts was “under 50″ and that they also affect Sony’s home entertainment unit and ani/VFX house Imageworks. “As part of the Company’s previously announced efforts to evolve its operations, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is absorbing the functions of Sony Pictures Technologies into various core businesses,” SPE spokesman Charles Sipkins said in a statement. “Regrettably, Chris Cookson will leave the Company as a result. In related moves, SPE has streamlined technology groups across its businesses to accelerate creative and technological innovation. The entire Company wishes to express its deep gratitude to Chris, his team, and the other groups involved in these changes.”
UPDATED, 1:50 PM: “We do very much have the ambition about creating a bigger universe around Spider-Man. There are a number of scripts in the works” involving characters and villains in the series, Sony Pictures Entertainment chief Michael Lynton told analysts in a Q&A session wrapping up his operation’s first meeting with investors. But he didn’t offer details, except that Sony is “working closely with Marvel and Disney.” But lest fans of the Marvel world take that to mean that Spider-Man could finally join his buddies in an upcoming The Avengers or other Marvel/Disney film — think again. Sony’s longtime rights deal with Marvel for Spider-Man allows them to exploit any character within the superhero’s universe — including villains, girlfriends or even Aunt May. But Disney, which acquired Marvel in 2009, owns merchandising rights to Spider-Man and those related characters, so any further exploitation would have to involve Disney.
While Sony today promised to hold down costs, especially for films, Lynton says that “we have in no way shape or form lost our commitment to the movie business. The movie business sits at the heart and soul of the company.” And he wouldn’t feel constrained from approving a major project. “We never once found ourselves lacking for capital” when it comes to a needed investment including an acquisition. That also was true when Disney snagged Marvel. With theme parks and several cable channels, Disney has “a few more channels to exploit” the properties. “You have to measure it against that backdrop.”
As a thank you to America’s troops, active military personnel and veterans will be admitted with one guest to see Columbia Pictures’ White House Down on July 4 at any Regal Entertainment Group, AMC, Cinemark, or Carmike Cinemas theater, Sony Pictures Entertainment said today. The free admission is available on July 4 only. Those eligible must show proper military ID and seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Channing Tatum stars as Capitol Policeman John Cale who’s just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. It’s now up to Cale to save the president, his daughter, and the country. Roland Emmerich directs from a script by James Vanderbilt.
EXCLUSIVE: Winter’s Discontent is the 2008 Black List script by Paul Fruchbom which Sony acquired for Atlas Entertainment a few years back. The well-liked project, which taps into the current zeitgeist of adult comedies, is moving forward with Billy Crystal attached to star as a widower who moves into a reputed, active mature community in an attempt to reinvigorate his sex life. Frank Oz, director of such pics as In & Out and Death At A Funeral, has come aboard to helm. Sony Pictures will distribute domestically and has taken rights in select foreign territories. Atlas is producing and Sierra Pictures is financing. Sierra/Affinity starts foreign sales in Cannes. Charles Roven and Alex Gartner are producing. Exec producers are Nick Meyer, Marc Schaberg, Kelly McCormick and Jake Kurily. Crystal recently starred in Parental Guidance and is next up in Monsters University from Pixar. He’s repped by CAA and managed by David Steinberg and Larry Brezner. Oz is repped by CAA. Read More »
A stuntman seriously injured while attempting to perform a stunt for the DVD release of the 2011 movie Ghost Rider 2 has filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Sony Pictures Entertainment and two other companies. The stuntman, Michael Gaboff, says in the suit filed Friday (read it here) that he was hired in April 2012 as an independent contractor to perform a stunt for the movie’s DVD release that the production teams knew or should have known involved serious risks and failed to take proper safety measures. Gaboff’s suit says he was to ride a motorcycle up a ramp after being set afire and leap across a lake and land in the water. The suit also alleges members of the production teams exhibited “conscious disregard” for Gaboff’s concerns about the risks. The stunt went wrong and Gaboff landed on hard ground, breaking numerous bones including his lower back and neck and suffering other injuries including second-degree burns. The suit says Gaboff was “rendered sick, sore, lame, disabled, and disordered, both internally and externally and suffered … numerous internal and external injuries, severe fright, shock, pain, discomfort and anxiety.” Read More »
A stuntwoman who says she was injured on the set ofJustifiedduring a late night shoot in 2011 today sued Sony Pictures and various individuals connected with the FX series. Citing “severe and permanent physical and mental injuries,” Lisa Hoyle and her husband Robert Jakubik have filed a suit (read it here) for Negligence, Premises Liability and Loss of Consortium for injuries the Stuntchicks employee suffered during a car crash stunt on February 3, 2011 at Santa Clarita Studios. While Hoyle and her husband don’t specify any dollar amount in their complaint, they are certainly looking for more than loose change. The nine-page filing seeks general damages “in an amount to be proven at trial” as well as loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, legal fees, “medical and related expenses” and “other and further general and special damages in a sum according to proof at the time of trial” and further relief as the court “deems just and proper.” The plaintiffs are requesting a five-to-seven day jury trial in the matter. The defendants in the case are Sony Pictures Entertainment, Woodridge Productions, Santa Clarita Studios Corp, Don Kurt, Gary Lennon, Mark Glick, Susan Carpenter, Alison Troy and over two dozen other unnamed individuals. (UPDATE - Woodridge Productions, Kurt, Lennon, Glick, Troy and Carpenter were dismissed as defendants in the suit in the spring of 2013)
Sony Pictures-MGM’s 23rd James Bond pic Skyfall became the 14th film ever to reach $1 billion globally, with a domestic cume of $289.6 million and $710.6 million internationally. Sony, which a month ago posted the studio’s best-ever performance at the box office with $4 billion worldwide, announced Skyfall‘s latest milestone today. Skyfall is the third pic this year to hit $1 billion globally, after Disney/Marvel’s The Avengers ($1.5B) and Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight Rises ($1.1B). Skyfall, by far the highest-grossing James Bond movie, is still going strong (No. 11 this weekend with $4.6M domestic), and has yet to bow in China.
BREAKING…Sony Pictures today announced its biggest movie year ever at the global box office, passing $4 billion for the first time in the studio’s history. Thanks in large part to Skyfall becoming the biggest 007 film of all time (not adjusted for inflation, higher ticket prices, or IMAX premiums.) This weekend, the 23rd James Bond actioner grabbed a global cume of $669.2M and passed the $599.2M worldwide total taken in by Casino Royale in 2006. The box office success of Skyfall helped to push Sony Pictures past its previous high $3.585B set in 2009. The announcement was made by Jeff Blake, chairman of Worldwide Marketing and Distribution for Sony Pictures. “Exceeding $4 billion globally is a true rarity in this industry and it’s an extraordinary accomplishment for all of us at Sony Pictures,” Blake said in a statement.
Besides Skyfall, contributing to the studio’s worldwide box office record this year was The Amazing Spider-Man ($754M), Men In Black 3 ($624M), and Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania ($283M) as well as strong performers Resident Evil: Retribution, Underworld: Awakening, The Vow, and 21 Jump Street. Right now the studio is ranked #1 in North American market share and had nine #1 films at the domestic box office with as of today totals $1.628B domestic and $2.4B overseas. That international box office figure is also a record for the studio. This year Sony Pictures has one more film on its release calendar, Zero Dark Thirty, from the Oscar-winning … Read More »
CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves today confirmed longtime speculation that CBS would be interested in buying Sony Corp.’s movie and television studio businesses if they were to become available. “We love our current portfolio, but as a content company, we would want to look at them,” Moonves told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. Moonves emphasized that CBS has no specific plans regarding Sony right now. Some observers have speculated Sony would sell its movie and TV studio businesses if the opportunity arose. Moonves’ remarks to the Journal came as his new extended compensation package — which includes an extra $14.5 million in stock on top of other stock and salary — were filed with the the Securities & Exchange Commission.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
September marks a new watershed in the fight for home entertainment dollars in Oz. Nearly every Hollywood film, including new releases The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Men In Black 3 and The Five-Year Engagement, and most indie titles, will be available simultaneously on VOD and DVD. The collapsing of windows has been driven by the U.S. majors looking to boost VOD revenues to help compensate for the contracting DVD business. The strategy has been welcomed by Oz’s many VOD services who say it’s resulting in a lift in buy-rates. Brendon Moo, general manager of Foxtel On Demand and Pay Per View, says subscribers per capita buy four times as many movies as those who subscribe to Britain’s BSkyB.
The gap between DVD and VOD releases was originally 90 days. In the past few years that was shortened to 60 days and progressively to 45 and 30; now it’s zero except for independent distributors like Anchor Bay and Eagle Entertainment. The first simultaneous DVD/VOD release was The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button in 2010. Sony Pictures began releasing its films day-and-date earlier this year and Tim Harris, director digital & acquisitions, says, “We expect revenue to grow as the consumer embraces the convenience and quality of the format.” Home entertainment retailers are keen Read More »
A second suspected LulzSec hacker was arrested Tuesday on charges he took part in an extensive computer breach of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Reuters reports. Raynaldo Rivera, 20, of Tempe, Arizona, surrendered to U.S. authorities in Phoenix six days after a Los Angeles federal grand jury accused him and co-conspirators of stealing information from Sony Pictures’ computer systems in May and June 2011. LulzSec then boasted about the breach and published names, birth dates, addresses, emails, phone numbers and passwords of thousands of people who had entered contests promoted by Sony. An accused British hacker, Ryan Cleary, 20, was indicted by a federal grand jury in June on charges related to LulzSec attacks on media companies including Sony Pictures, Fox Entertainment Group and PBS. The FBI said Rivera’s co-conspirators included Cody Kretsinger, 24, a confessed LulzSec member who pleaded guilty in April to federal charges in the Sony attack. Kretsinger is slated to be sentenced on October 25.
A federal grand jury in Los Angeles has indicted a 20-year-old Brit on charges related to the hacking of computer systems at Fox Entertainment Group, Sony Pictures Entertainment movie and TV studio as well as PBS, Reuters reports. Ryan Cleary is already in jail in the UK, accused of hacking computers with the group LulzSec. He was indicted on Tuesday. LulzSec, an offshoot of global hacking group Anonymous, has taken credit for hacking attacks on government and corporate websites. LulzSec hacker Cody Kretsinger two months ago pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to taking part in an extensive computer breach at Sony’s studios. Prior to that Anonymous leader “Sabu” or Hector Xavier Monsegur, had pleaded guilty to hacking charges and provided the FBI information on fellow hackers.
Men In Black 3 opens Friday and it’ll be on plenty of 3D screens despite disagreement between exhibitors and Sony Pictures Entertainment over who should pay for 3D glasses. Movie studios have been footing the bill for the glasses but Sony’s announcement last year that it would end payments with the release of MIB3 rankled major exhibitors. As discussions continue neither side is budging — at least publicly. Sony is keeping quiet but Bloomberg reports that executives from Regal Cinemas and Cinemark have said they won’t give in, and the National Association of Theatre Owners indicates nothing has changed on either side. The movie is obviously booked into theaters in 3D and 2D because as the saying goes, the show must go on. So will that surcharge for 3D tickets, which theaters and studios split as they do regular ticket prices. Meanwhile negotiations continue although Sony has already made clear it doesn’t intend to continue paying for the glasses indefinitely.
Sony has won a three-way bidding war for action-comedy spec El Tigre by first-time screenwriters Aaron Buchsbaum and Teddy Riley. Sale was for mid-six figures after bidding among Sony, Paramount and MGM. Mosaic is producing the project about a family vacation gone horribly awry when the father is mistaken for the most ruthless drug lord in Mexico, El Tigre. The scribes have industry day jobs. Riley works for Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun; Buchsbaum works for director Shawn Levy. Scribes are represented by Paradigm’s Mark Ross and Ida Ziniti and attorney Jeff Frankel. They’re managed by Michael Lasker of Mosaic.