Sony Pictures Teams With Mattel To Fashion Film Franchise Based On Barbie Toyline

By | Wednesday April 23, 2014 @ 9:01am PDT
Mike Fleming

Barbie Movie Franchise SonyEXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has found what the studio believes will be its next global franchise. The studio has closed a partnership with Mattel and Parkes+MacDonald/Image Nation on a live-action comedy built around Barbie, the top-selling fashion doll. This is no development deal, it’s all moving very quickly. Studio chief Amy Pascal oversaw this deal herself, along with production president Hannah Minghella, and this movie is getting made. Jenny Bicks is writing the script and the intention is to begin production before year’s end.

The film will be produced by Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, who are also rebooting Men In Black for the studio. The exec producers are Parkes+MacDonald president Marc Resteghnini and Julia Pistor for Mattel’s Playground Productions.

bicksStudios prize franchises more than ever, and it is particularly a priority at Sony. The key to turning these brands into successful films comes down to execution, as was particularly evident in the way that Warner Bros turned The Lego Movie into something with a high cool factor for kids. The plan for Barbie is also clever. Some of the doll’s appeal has been cool clothes and of course Ken, but beyond accessorizing, the toy has always been about female empowerment. Barbie has been part of merchandise packages that span over 150 careers, and Bicks and Parkes and MacDonald won the rights from Mattel when they plugged into that with their pitch for a contemporary tale. It allows the character Barbie to use her personal and professional skills to step into the lives of others and improve them, almost like a modern-day Mary Poppins. That storyline allows for the discovery of a young actress to play the title character, and young cast to play Ken and Barbie’s best friend, putting stars around them that can change in subsequent movies. Much the way that Marvel has managed its costs with deals that call for options on future films as they create stars with their superhero movies, this seems a way to keep costs manageable for another live-action series meant to span multiple films. Read More »

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Danny Boyle In Talks For Steve Jobs Film

By | Monday April 21, 2014 @ 4:04pm PDT
Mike Fleming

boyleI can confirm that talks are down the road with Danny Boyle on the Aaron Sorkin-scripted Steve Jobs movie at Sony, based on Walter Isaacson’s book. The deal is by no means sealed, but the studio is moving … Read More »

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‘Amazing Spider-Man 2′ Swinging Strong In International Debut As It Casts Global Web

By | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 5:25pm PDT

Nancy Tartaglione contributed to this report.

the-amazing-spider-man-2-new-details-on-spideys-suitThere’s absolutely no arachnophobia in international markets for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Sony Pictures Entertainment’s latest film in its mega-franchise opened in 15 territories — including across Europe in the U.K. Spain, Germany and Belgium and in other top markets of Mexico and Australia — and numbers are just now rolling in … and they are very strong and off to a great start.

In four markets — the U.K., Germany, Australia and Belgium — the movie already has logged the biggest opening days of the year. In the U.K., Spidey grossed $2.73M, which is not surprising since it’s a top school holiday and kids are flooding into the market now. Back in 2012, The Amazing Spider-Man made $40.3M in the U.K. all in, so this is one of the most important markets for the studio. The film grabbed $1.44M Down Under in Australia, a big $1.3M in Germany and in Belgium $190K for its opening day. Other markets where Spidey opened are Austria, Denmark, Israel, New Zealand, Portugal, Switzerland, Uraguay, Bulgaria, and Sweden. Read More »

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Sony Buys Lauryn Kahn Spec ‘I’m In Love With The DJ’ For Gary Sanchez

Mike Fleming

laurynEXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has made a pre-emptive deal for I’m In Love With The DJ, a romantic comedy spec by Lauryn Kahn that will be produced by Gary Sanchez’s Adam McKay, Will Ferrell and Kevin Messick. Deal comes right after Gary Sanchez made a Sony deal for Border Guards, a comedy that will star Ferrell and John C. Reilly, with McKay directing.

The new deal is for an R-rated comedy is about a girl whose two best friends tag along on her work trip to Spain that quickly turns into a crazy hunt for a hot DJ through the electronic dance music scene. Kahn is the young writer who, after spending four years as McKay’s assistant and honing her writing skills scripting, performing and directing numerous shorts for the Funny Or Die, sold the script He’s Fuckin’ Perfect to Fox 2000 for $1 million against $1.5 million. That film, now titled The Social Life, moved to Universal with Jake Syzmanski directing Amanda Seyfried and Rebel Wilson, with Gary Sanchez producing. Read More »

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Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly Re-Team With Adam McKay On Sony’s ‘Border Guards’

By | Tuesday April 15, 2014 @ 3:42pm PDT
Mike Fleming

stepEXCLUSIVE: After cranking out two big hit comedies in Talladega Nights and Step Brothers, Sony Pictures is back in business with Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and John C. Reilly. The studio has closed a deal with Oscar-nominated … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Sony’s ‘When The Game Stands Tall’

By | Thursday April 10, 2014 @ 7:53pm PDT

The latest entry into the inspirational sports movie is based on the longest winning streak in sports history — or rather, what happened when it ended. De La Salle High School in Northern California had gone 12 years and 151 games without knowing the agony of defeat. When The Read More »

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Sony’s ‘Goosebumps’ Scares Up Ken Marino

By | Thursday April 10, 2014 @ 10:43am PDT

ken marino goosebumpsEXCLUSIVE: Comedy thesp Ken Marino (Children’s Hospital, Bad Milo) has joined the cast of Columbia’s Goosebumps, the big-screen adaptation of R.L. Stine’s popular series of young-adult horror tales. Marino will play Coach Carr, the blowhard coach at Greendale High who wades into battle when monsters overrun the school. Jack Black, Amy Ryan, and Dylan Minnette are also starring for Black’s Gulliver’s Travels helmer Rob Letterman, who landed the directing gig last March. Jess Siegler, Tania Landau, Deborah Forte and Neal Moritz (Original Films) are producing the pic, which Sony has set for a March 23, 2016 release. Read More »

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Salma Hayek Invited To Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg’s ‘Sausage Party’

By | Wednesday April 9, 2014 @ 1:41pm PDT

salma hayekThe Oscar-nominated actress will lend her voice to the raunchy animated tale of a sausage’s quest to discover the truth about his existence. Salma Hayek will play Teresa the Taco in Sausage Party, the R-rated toon written by … Read More »

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Sony Pictures, Scott Rudin Acquiring Michael Lewis Bestseller ‘Flash Boys’

By | Tuesday April 8, 2014 @ 9:25pm PDT
Mike Fleming

flashboysEXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures and producer Scott Rudin are near a deal to acquire Flash Boys, the hottest-selling book in the country. Michael Lewis’ nonfiction work is about a group of Wall Street guys who grew frustrated by a loophole that gave traders the opportunity to game the stock market. They banded together to reform the financial markets by creating an exchange that rendered impotent the act of high-frequency trading, a growing form of trading that gave insiders an advantage. A story that is the antithesis of the practices that created the 2008 financial crisis, the book traces how the Flash Boys walked away from huge-money jobs to use their expertise to investigate big banks, stock exchanges and high-frequency trading firms. They peeled back the layers to bare why many feel that Wall Street is such a rigged game. The Flash Boys are the kind of guys who would have hated Jordan Belfort, the anti-hero of The Wolf Of Wall Street.

Related: Sony Closes Slate Co-Fi Deal With Lone Star Capital, CitiBank

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Drew Goddard Near Helming Deal For Spider-Man Spinoff ‘Sinister Six’

Mike Fleming

sinsixBREAKING: Sony Pictures is nearing a deal with Drew Goddard to direct Sinister Six, the Amazing Spider-Man spinoff for the studio. Goddard wrote the script for this first of what Marvel and Sony hope will be a new film franchise that shapes up as an Avengers-like all-star team of bad guys. Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach are producing. The original six villains were Doctor Octopus, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, Sandman and The Vulture. That lineup sounds about right, given that Venom has a movie of his own, with Alex Kurtzman already set to direct that one.

Related: Sony Plans More Spider-Man Sequels & Spinoffs

drewgoddardWhy is Sony bullish on expanding the Spidey franchise? Like everyone, the studio is hungry for tentpoles, but there is another strategy at play. Much the way that Fox has held on to rights to Marvel’s X-Men franchise by pumping out spinoffs, Sony needs to keep generating films to keep the rights from reverting to Marvel owner Disney. There is no timetable for the villain film, but this one most certainly will come out after The Amazing Spider-Man 3, which is set for release June 10, 2016.

Read More »

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‘Karate Kid 2′ Locks Breck Eisner To Helm Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan

Mike Fleming

jadenEXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has locked Breck Eisner to direct Karate Kid 2, the sequel that will bring back Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan. Harald Zwart directed the 2010 original, which grossed $56 million on its opening weekend and … Read More »

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Sony Pictures Lands New Republic Article For Film On China’s First American Football League Championship Team

Mike Fleming

fatbabyEXCLUSIVE: As The New Republic turns 100 years old, Sony Pictures and Escape Artists have made a pre-emptive acquisition of “The Year Of The Pigskin,” a just-published feature by Christopher Beam about the unlikely success of the Chongqing Dockers, one of the first teams in the very first American football league to form in China. The catalyst was a 26-year-old American, the son of police detectives whose pro football dreams were dashed after a shoulder injury incurred while he was a star player at the University of Michigan. He became the team’s coach and star player. The feature is a template for a Bad News Bears-like film that will be shot in China, as the Dockers and its players with names like Fat Baby, Bobo, and Weezy get molded from undisciplined players afraid to hit one another into a group of warriors that battled for the championship against archrival Shanghai Warriors. Read More »

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Sony Looking At Other Suitors For Slate Co-Financing Deal

By | Friday April 4, 2014 @ 12:18pm PDT
Mike Fleming

sonypicEXCLUSIVE: While Sony seemed ready to go to the altar last fall on a three-year slate finance deal with Blue Anchor Entertainment that was to bring $300M-$350M in equity spread across the Sony slate, the studio has grown very impatient that the deal hasn’t closed, and I’m told Michael Lynton is now looking at other suitors for which might be a slightly different version of the mammoth deal. I’m hearing that the lead horse might well be CitiGroup and Ben Waisbren, which until now seemed reluctant to be involved in the entertainment industry after losing money in recent ventures. They are not the only party in the mix, I’m told.

Back when Blue Anchor–led by Bloom Hergott partner John LaViolette and vet producer and former investment banker Joseph M. Singer–surfaced as the favorite to make this deal, Deadline reported that Bank of America/Merrill Lynch had also been courted for funding by the studio. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Sex Tape’ Red Band

By | Tuesday April 1, 2014 @ 11:35am PDT

Sex Tape stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel as young parents whose homemade sex video is accidentally synched to a handful of other devices (including her mother’s and the mailman’s), and they embark on a wild quest to retrieve them. Jake Kasdan directs and Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper … Read More »

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CinemaCon: ‘Spider-Man’, Singing Orphans And Sex Tapes Highlight Sony’s Show For Theatre Owners

By | Thursday March 27, 2014 @ 1:58am PDT
Pete Hammond

Wednesday afternoon it was Sony‘s turn at bat to strut its stuff at CinemaCon in a no-frills, slickly produced reel that ran the gamut of the kind CinemaCon2014_badgeof movies the studio is known for. There were no stars on … Read More »

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Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

Catch up on the top film stories you missed this week:

Harold Ramis GhostbustersThird Installment Of ‘Ghostbusters’ A Go For Early 2015; Death Of Pal Harold Ramis Prompts Ivan Reitman To Turn Over Directing Reins
By Mike Fleming Jr.EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures is eyeing an early 2015 production start in New York on its next installment of Ghostbusters. There is a major change, though. In the wake of the death of his close friend and original Ghostbuster Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman has decided he won’t direct the film, after all.

2013 Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament Tip-Off – #1 ‘Iron Man 3′ Vs. #16 ‘The Conjuring’; #8 ‘Gravity’ Vs. #9 ‘Man Of Steel’
By Mike Fleming Jr.EXCLUSIVE: Oscar crowned a Best Picture winner two weeks ago, but which 2013 film deserves to be called the profitability champ?

Horror Hit ‘The Grudge’ Going Reboot Route
By Mike Fleming Jr.EXCLUSIVE: The Grudge, the Takashi Shimazu-directed 2004 film that helped establish the viability of low-cost genre films, is getting a reboot.

Divergent posterBOX OFFICE: ‘Divergent’ No. 1 On Track For $56M+ Weekend; ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ Very Soft; Faith-Based ‘God’s Not Dead’ Surprises In Top Five And ‘Budapest Hotel’ Another Strong Per Screen
By Anita BuschEXCLUSIVE: More for Divergent. $19.75M and higher for the Lionsgate film — $56M+. (56.7M when all is said and done?) Nicely positioned for international. They will likely have at least another good weekend before Captain America swoops in to do battle.

Jason Blum, Scooter Braun Prods & Jon M. Chu Team With Hasbro On ‘Jem And The Holograms’: Video
By The Deadline Team – Hasbro, Blumhouse Prods, Scooter Braun Prods and Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) are partnering to bring Hasbro’s 1980s cult classic cartoon series Jem And The Holograms to the big screen. Read More »

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Sony Layoffs Hit Distribution — Dallas Office To Close, L.A. Operations Support Group Affected

By | Sunday March 23, 2014 @ 10:29am PDT

sony-pictures-logoEXCLUSIVE: Sony is continuing its restructuring, giving notice to 13 to 15 people in its Dallas distribution office that it will close operations there on June 2nd. In addition, layoffs also have impacted the Los Angeles cash department division of Sony’s distribution operations. The department numbers nine employees and the majority of the department are also being let go. A skeletal crew will remain. The round of dismissals come after Bain Captial were brought in to help Sony streamline its operations in an effort to increase profit margins. Tough times at Sony and its never easy to let people go, but this is not unusual for companies looking to improve their stock price and Sony has been charged with cutting costs.

The latest round of layoffs come only a week after the studio cut its entire Sony Pictures Interactive team which, for the last 15 years, supported the studio’s digital marketing efforts. Word came on March 14, that the studio was going to start implementing the layoffs. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′

By | Wednesday March 19, 2014 @ 8:03am PDT

The final trailer for Sony and Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 dropped today, setting up the battle between Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker and bad guys Henry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) and Electro (Jamie Foxx). The 3D pic is due out May 2 and remember it will help set the baseline for … Read More »

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Third Installment Of ‘Ghostbusters’ A Go For Early 2015; Death Of Pal Harold Ramis Prompts Ivan Reitman To Turn Over Directing Reins

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures is eyeing an early 2015 production start Ghostbusters New Movie in New York on its next installment of Ghostbusters. There is a major change, though. In the wake of the death of his close friend and original Ghostbuster Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman has decided he won’t direct the film, after all. Instead, Reitman will help Amy Pascal find a new director to take over what everyone hopes will reboot what the studio considers to be one of its most important franchises.

In all the years Sony has tried to get this film up and running, Reitman has been the most stable part of the equation, long locked to direct his third installment. This included the long campaign to get Bill Murray to reprise his signature role, when it became impossible to even get him to read a script that Sony, Reitman and their other architect Dan Aykroyd were happy with. It has been clear for a while that Murray wasn’t going to be part of this, and momentum has been building. Then Ramis, a catalyst for some of the biggest film comedies of the 1970s and ’80s, passed away. That has changed everything.

Reitman spoke exclusively with Deadline on his decision, and I’m going to give him ample room to explain why he changed his mind after so many years of being the primary person pushing this forward.

orig“There has been all kinds of stuff, unofficially written about Ghostbusters,” Reitman told me. “I’ve been reading things online for about four years, speculation on who’s writing, what they’re writing, who’s in it, who we will use, and who’s directing. We’d decided not to comment up till now, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, and it was never clear what Bill was going to do. A lot of things happened in the last few months, the most significant of which was the passing of Harold, who was a very good friend who was extraordinarily influential in my career. We did five movies together including both Ghostbusters.”

Reitman confirmed the Murray chase, one that encompassed not one but two scripts. Read More »

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