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Sony Exec Elizabeth Cantillon Becoming Producer; Still Shepherding Next 007

By | Wednesday July 23, 2014 @ 1:04pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Sony Exec Elizabeth Cantillon Becoming Producer; Still Shepherding Next 007Longtime Sony Pictures EVP Elizabeth Cantillon will transition from a production exec to producer with a three-year first-look deal at the studio. Cantillon has been a key exec on some of Sony’s big projects, and she will moonlight in that capacity and shepherd with MGM the next James Bond film that is gearing up for a year-end production start, as well as R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps, which Jack Black will vamp this week at Comic-Con in San Diego.

Related: Sony Pictures Vice Chairman Jeff Blake Exiting Studio After 22 Years

At the same time, Cantillon will join several studio films as producer, including some she developed as an exec. This will keep her busy as she begins building her own projects. Cantillon’s first producing project is Game Brain, the drama about what causes the debilitating long-term effects of concussions in football and other contact sports that has led to suicides of several gridiron stars. Peter Landesman is writing to direct Will Smith in the role of Dr. Bennett Omalu, the man who was first to discover CTE, based a GQ article by Jeanne Marie Laskas that was developed by producers Ridley Scott and Giannina Facio.

Related: Will Smith Eyeing Gridiron Concussion Pic At Sony With Peter Landesman Directing

Cantillon will also become a producer of the Luca Guadagnino-directed adaptation of the Robert Goolrick novel A Reliable Wife, which Andrew Kevin Walker is adapting, as well as the live-action adaptation of the PlayStation property Gran Turismo. Several other alignments are in the works for her.

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Comic-Con: Sony Dates Two ‘Spider-Man’ Films And ‘Uncharted’

Mike Fleming

Comic-Con: Sony Dates Two ‘Spider-Man’ Films And ‘Uncharted’San Diego Comic-Con has become more than a place for film studios to vamp their upcoming superhero movies. Now, they use the geek frenzy to stake out release date turf. Days after Disney and Marvel declared release dates for a flurry of superhero films the studio isn’t even ready to identify yet, Columbia Pictures has set its release plans and formalized plans to expand its $4 billion Spider-Man universe. As expected, the next film in the series will be Sinister Six, writer-director Drew Goddard’s bad guy mash-up, which is the first of several planned character and story expansions. That film has been dated for release November 11, 2016, with Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach producing.

Columbia will then release the third installment of The Amazing Spider-Man in 2018.

unchartedThe studio also announced that it has slated Uncharted for June 10, 2016, the date originally held by The Amazing Spider-Man 3. The adaptation of the Sony PlayStation vidgame will be directed by Seth Gordon, and the latest draft of the screenplay is being written by David Guggenheim. They haven’t set a star to play Nathan Drake; I’ve heard they are trying to pull Mark Wahlberg back into the mix, but the studio and the actor’s reps say nothing is happening. That film will be an Arad/Atlas Entertainment Production, produced by Charles Roven, Avi Arad, Alex Gartner and Ari Arad. Read More »

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Sony Pictures Vice Chairman Jeff Blake Exiting Studio After 22 Years

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 8:06am PDT

Sony Pictures Vice Chairman Jeff Blake Exiting Studio After 22 YearsEXCLUSIVE: Jeff Blake, who has served as vice chairman of Sony Pictures and chairman of worldwide marketing and distribution for Sony Pictures since 2005, is leaving the studio that he has been a part of for the past 22 years. Part of the innermost circle of Sony’s senior management team with CEO Michael Lynton and chair of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group Amy Pascal, the departure is a real shake-up for the studio at the highest level. Blake is the stalwart pro and has been one of the longest survivors at any studio. He worked under several Sony regimes including that of Peter Guber and Mark Canton, Jonathan Dolgen, Alan Levine, Robert Wynne, Mel Harris, the beloved John Calley, Howard Stringer, and finally Lynton and Pascal. He exits August 1.

Sony announced it at 8 AM this morning, saying, “It’s with a heavy heart and great appreciation that we want to share with you news that Jeff Blake has decided to leave SPE to pursue other opportunities … he’s been an important part of the fabric of SPE. We have all loved his legendary role as raffle master at our annual holiday party, enjoyed his gregarious laugh and sense of humor and appreciate his reputation as one of the nicest and most easy-going guys in the business.”

Image (1) sony-pictures-logo__140323172613.jpeg for post 703140With Blake’s departure, the studio loses an executive with institutional and strategic knowledge of not only marketing and distribution both domestically and internationally, but on the business itself. He has worked at three studios, having joined the business in 1974 working for Paramount Pictures in Chicago. He has also worked with the best known names in the business at Paramount and at Sony (and even a short stint at Disney) – from Charlie Bludhorn and Barry Diller to Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Stanley Jaffe, Frank Mancuso, the wonderful Brandon Tartikoff, the aforementioned executives and so many others. Katzenberg and Mancuso became Blake’s lifetime friends and mentors.

decode-pascal-articleInlineHis departure comes after Pascal and Lynton and the rest of SPE’s senior management have been under tremendous pressure after a rough round last summer and a hit-and-miss year so far in 2014. Pascal and Lynton have spent this past year making changes at the studio and shoring up their ranks with execs like Michael De Luca coming in as president of production at Columbia, and the announcement last week that Doug Belgrad is expanding duties with a new president of the motion picture group title. Those expanded responsibilities included working with the marketing and distribution team which also saw changes last year. Sony has undergone extreme cost-cutting at the studio as well with layoff after layoff. They have also worked to bring in co-financing deals and closed a big one with Lone Star Capital and Citibank, a smaller agreement with Village Roadshow and have also been waiting for former Warner Bros. executive Jeff Robinov to secure financing to start producing movies to distribute.

“Certainly there has been an air of change at Sony for the past couple of years,” said Blake. “I put it out there prior to our summer if at some point, I needed to step aside that I certainly would but, in the meantime, I wanted to make sure that there were no distractions in releasing our summer slate. I’m really comfortable with my decision, Read More »

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Sony Pictures Moves Cameron Crowe Project Out Of Christmas 2014 And Into Summer 2015

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 2:29pm PDT

Sony Pictures Moves Cameron Crowe Project Out Of Christmas 2014 And Into Summer 2015Columbia Pictures and Regency Enterprises are delaying the release date of director Cameron Crowe‘s untitled project starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams until May 29, 2015. The studio previously dated it for Christmas 2014, but execs decided after seeing the film that it was better as a summer release. That takes it out of any contention for Oscar nominations this year as well. It now will debut the weekend after Memorial Day and in a summer slot that has nothing really competing with it: Insidious: Chapter 3 and Monster Trucks. Read More »

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Sony Ups Columbia Prexy Doug Belgrad To President, Motion Pictures Group

By | Wednesday July 16, 2014 @ 8:27am PDT
Mike Fleming

Sony Ups Columbia Prexy Doug Belgrad To President, Motion Pictures GroupSony Pictures Entertainment continues to shuffle its motion picture division manpower. The studio announced this morning that Columbia Pictures president and former production president Doug Belgrad got promoted to the post of president of its Motion Picture Group. Belgrad continues to report to Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group.

Image (1) Sony-Pictures-logo__130125035333-200x312-1__140530164135.jpg for post 738072When Michael De Luca was tapped to share the production president role with Hannah Minghella, speculation ran rampant about what might happen to all of these executives. This came after a rough summer 2013, and minority shareholder Daniel Loeb complaining loudly about the flops. There was great performance pressure on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and scrutiny on everything else Sony has been doing. That sequel did not match the original’s $757 million global gross, but it cracked $700 million, which was considered good enough to keep the train moving. There was the hit sequel 22 Jump Street, and the sleeper TriStar hit Heaven Is For Real and Screen Gems’ Think Like A Man Too. Sex Tape is about to open with Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel boasting about baring all in the sexy laffer.

In the distance are the Antoine Fuqua-directed Denzel Washington film The Equalizer and the David Ayer-directed Brad Pitt-starrer Fury, with Annie and the untitled Cameron Crowe movie bowing in December in the Oscar mix. Down the line, there will be an event movie based on the venerable Barbie toyline, as well as another James Bond film, Spider-Man spinoffs, as well as reboots of Ghostbusters and Men In Black. As for the executive team, insiders tell me that Belgrad is an effective executive, and that he, De Luca and Minghella are bonding and creating their own niches. Read More »

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Sony Buys Spec ‘Leviathan’ For Neal Moritz

By | Monday June 16, 2014 @ 3:18pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Sony Buys Spec ‘Leviathan’ For Neal MoritzEXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has acquired Leviathan, an original sci-fi spec script by Cole Haddon. 22 Jump Street‘s Neal Moritz will produce through his Original Films banner, and Toby Ascher will be executive producer. Production president Michael De Luca steered the deal. They are keeping the logline under wraps. At Sony, Haddon wrote Dodge And Twist and Savage Planet.


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He also is the creator of the NBC series Dracula and creator of Sony/BBC America’s Nottingham. Haddon is repped by WME, Anonymous Content and Felker, Toczek, Gellman & Suddleson.

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Interview’ With Seth Rogen, James Franco

By | Wednesday June 11, 2014 @ 7:34pm PDT

Seth Rogen James Franco The InterviewThe trailer for Sony‘s action comedy The Interviewstarring Seth Rogen and James Franco as stars of a celebrity tabloid show who are headed to their biggest interview yet, — with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, whom they plan to assassinate. The film is directed by Rogen and Evan Goldberg. The screenplay is by Dan Sterling, from a story by  Rogen & Goldberg & Dan Sterling. Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Weaver are the producers. Not sure what this film’s premise will do for the already chilly relationship between the U.S. and the Hermit Kingdom, but hey, the trailer looks entertaining. Take a look:

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Sony, SEGA Team For ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ Pic

By | Tuesday June 10, 2014 @ 3:00pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Sonic The Hedgehog Movie Looking to launch a new family film franchise, Sony Pictures Entertainment has teamed with SEGA Sammy Group division Marza Animation Planet to develop a hybrid/live action and CG-animated feature film based on the Sonic The Hedgehog video game series. The film will be scripted by Evan Susser and Van Robichaux. 22 Jump Street’s Neal H. Moritz will produce through his Original Film banner, with Marza’s Takeshi Ito and Mie Onishi. Toby Ascher will be exec producer.

The plan is to release one movie per year. Pic will focus on Sonic’s rivalry with characters from the vidgame, including his evil nemesis Dr. Eggman. Sonic uses his stature as world’s fastest hedgehog to move at supersonic speed to protect his friends from their enemies. The game has been around two decades, selling over 140 million games and generating $1 billion in revenues. Read More »

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‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′ Crosses $500M Overseas

amazing-spider-man-2-posterSony‘s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has become the first studio film released in 2014 to cross the $500M mark internationally. As of this morning, the sequel to the reboot has an overseas cume of $500.1M. At the weekend, it added $4.7M to reach $497.3M which already surpassed the lifetime gross of the first film’s $495.9M. The Marc Webb-directed follow-up is still playing in 81 markets. Thus far this year, it’s been the No. 1 release in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Kenya, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. In China, it’s crossed $94M, making it the No. 2 Hollywood movie of the year there behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In the U.S., the cume is $193.1M. TASM2 opened overseas in late April, rolling out in an inital 14 markets for what was at the time the biggest international debut of the year at $47M. The webslinger has traditionally done particularly well overseas in his various incarnations; the only previous take to pass $500M overseas was the Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man 3 in 2007.

Related: Int’l Box Office: ‘Maleficent’ Awakens $106.1M Overseas; ‘X-Men’ Adds $95.6M; ‘Edge Of Tomorrow’ Cruises To $20.1M In Select Markets

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Sony In Talks With Jordan Vogt-Roberts To Helm ‘Metal Gear Solid’

By | Tuesday June 3, 2014 @ 3:25pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Metal Gear Solid Movie Jordan Vogt-RobertsEXCLUSIVE: Sony is finally getting it in gear on Metal Gear Solid, the live-action feature based on the top-selling video game. The studio is in early talks with Jordan Vogt-Roberts to come aboard and direct the film. Vogt-Roberts helmed The Kings Of Summer. The project is produced by Avi Arad, and it’s being steered by production president Michael De Luca. This is a long-gestating project because it just took so long for the game creators and the studio to find themselves on the same page in how to tell the story of protagonist AFI FEST 2013 Presented By Audi Closing Night Gala Screening Of "Inside Llewyn Davis" - Red CarpetSolid Snake. Created by Hideo Kojima, the game has been around on PlayStation since 1998. Snake is a soldier who infiltrates a nuclear weapons facility to neutralize the terrorist threat from Foxhound, a renegade special forces unit. Snake must liberate two hostages — one the president of a major arms manufacturer — confront the terrorists, and stop them from launching a nuclear strike.

I’ve always thought that the transfer of video games to movies has been largely disappointing considering how imaginative the games are, but Hollywood is running out of superheroes and kiddie toys, so maybe it’s high time vidgames took center stage. Read More »

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Will Smith Eyeing Gridiron Concussion Pic At Sony With Peter Landesman Directing

By | Tuesday June 3, 2014 @ 2:30pm PDT
Mike Fleming

willsmiNow that Will Smith has stepped off the pic Brilliance, the whole town is after him. I’m hearing he has aligned himself to that football concussions project that Ridley Scott and Giannina Facio have been developing. The pic, still untitled and inspired by the GQ article “Game Brain,” is at Sony, and Peter Landesman wrote the script and will direct. He made his helming debut on the JFK pic Parkland. Back when Deadline broke the story, Scott was looking to direct the concussions movie project after his massive Moses movie Exodus with Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton. Scott moved over and now will produce with Facio, along with Shuman Company’s David Wolfhoff and Larry Shuman. Landesman has completed the script, and the plan is to shoot this fall. Smith will play Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic neuropathologist who was a total outsider and made the first discovery of CTE, the concussion syndrome that has been fatal in contributing to the suicides of such former NFL superstars as Dave Duerson and Junior Seau.

Related: NFL Reaches $765M Settlement In Concussion Cases

nfAs I wrote in November, Scott got in early, intending to create a drama focusing on the debilitating effects that concussions are having on our sports heroes, and the role that league owners play in allowing it to happen. His plan is to create a morality tale on that issue, much the way that Michael Mann’s The Insider took on the tobacco industry’s complicity in covering up the addictive and cancer-causing effects of cigarette smoking. Smith’s camp denied this a couple of days ago, but things move quickly when an actor has a slot open. Smith met with the director this week, and the intention is to try and be first, as there are other concussion projects brewing. Read More »

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Sony Shifts ‘Sex Tape’ Release To July 18

By | Friday May 30, 2014 @ 9:44am PDT

Sony-Pictures-logo__130125035333-200x312 (1)The Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel starrer had been slotted for July 25, but Sony has moved it up a week to July 18. Sex Tape now avoids facing off against Paramount’s Hercules, Universal’s Lucy and Lionsgate/Summit’s Step Up All In. Instead it will go up against Universal’s The Purge: Anarchy and Warner Bros sci-fi pic Jupiter Ascending. Diaz and Segel star 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. Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper and Rob Lowe also star for director Jake Kasdan. Kate Angelo, Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller penned the screenplay from a story by Angelo.

Related: Hot Trailer: ‘Sex Tape’ Red Band

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Sony & Annapurna Set Summer 2016 Date For Animated ‘Sausage Party’

By | Thursday May 29, 2014 @ 1:37pm PDT

Sausage Party Sony It’ll be a summer Sausage Party for Sony Pictures Entertainment and Annapurna Pictures. The decidedly kid-unfriendly animated pic from the minds of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Jonah Hill will hit theaters on June 3, 2016, the companies announced today. Rogen, Hill, Kristen Wiig, Salma Hayek, Edward Norton, David Krumholtz, Nick Kroll, Michael Cera, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Bill Hader, Anders Holm, Paul Rudd, and Danny McBride make up the voice cast. Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan are directing the animated feature about one sausage’s quest to discover the truth about his existence after he falls out of a shopping cart and must return to his aisle before the July 4 sale.

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Sony Buys Kevin James Pitch ‘Stranded’

By | Wednesday May 28, 2014 @ 3:24pm PDT
Mike Fleming

kevjamesEXCLUSIVE: Sony has acquired Stranded, a pitch that will be written by Tripper Clancy as a star vehicle for Kevin James. It’s a family comedy/action-adventure idea, and they are keeping the log line under wraps. The idea came from James and Todd Garner, who’ll produce together with Sean Robins from Broken Road. Jonathan Kadin will oversee for Sony. Tripper is repped by UTA and Benderspink. The scribe has Ambassadors at Fox and Winter Break at QED. James, who’s repped by WME and Jeff Sussman, is starring in Pixels and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 for Sony.

Related: Kevin James, Josh Gad For ‘Pixels’

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Nicolas Winding Refn In Talks To Helm Sony Haunted Hotel Pic ‘The Bringing’

By | Wednesday May 14, 2014 @ 3:55pm PDT
Mike Fleming

refEXCLUSIVE: Nicolas Winding Refn is in early talks to direct The Bringing, the horror movie spec by Brandon and Phillip Murphy that Sony Pictures acquired in a competitive bidding battle in February. Matt Tolmach is producing with First Born Films’ Daniela Cretu. This is the one that got the town whipped into a frenzy partly because its catalyst was a widely circulated video of a young woman who displayed erratic behavior in an elevator at the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, the place where such killers as Richard Ramirez called home at one time or other, and where numerous suicides have occurred. The woman, Elisa Lam, was found dead in the water tanks at the roof of the hotel. The script has nothing really to do with that that tragedy but it created a germ of an idea focusing on a man investigating a death at the hotel, and the nightmare he stumbles into.

Refn must have seen the video, because while the director of Drive, Valhalla Rising and Bronson is usually courted for projects, he sought this one out. From his Copenhagen home, he is a horror connoisseur who badly wants to make a terrifying film. This sounds a bit like The Shining, where Stanley Kubrick has similar aspirations, and turned Stephen King’s novel in to the standard for movies about haunted hotels. If the deal making works out, Refn will get his chance to make one too. … Read More »

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Sony Acquires Movie Rights To Edward Snowden Book ‘No Place To Hide’ For James Bond Producers

No Place To Hide Movie SonyEdward Snowden‘s story is coming to the big screen. Sony Pictures said today that it has acquired film rights to Pulitzer-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald‘s upcoming book No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, The NSA, And The U.S. Surveillance State. The pic about the largest leak of intelligence documents and the young NSA analyst contractor behind it will be produced by Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the producers of the James Bond spy franchise. With the deal, Wilson and Broccoli will shift from their iconic fictitious 007 to a real spy story: Greenwald’s book, which hit shelves yesterday, chronicles his involvement in working with Snowden to break numerous stories about the U.S. government’s intelligence-gathering operations in the UK’s The Guardian. It is a thrilling personal narrative of the events as they unfolded sonypicand an important historical reflection on the broader implications of the NSA’s intelligence-gathering methods that have since come into question. Greenwald’s reporting for on the leak earned him the Pulitzer Prize last month.

“Glenn Greenwald’s No Place To Hide is a terrifying personal account of one of the most relevant political events of our time,” Wilson and Broccoli said in today’s announcement of the project. “We are thrilled to be working with Glenn to bring this important story to the screen.”

Sony has been the go-to studio for films based on real-life stories (think Moneyball, Captain Phillips, The Social Network, with the Aaron Sorkin Steve Jobs biopic also in the works). Now they have arguably the biggest news story of the 21st century in house. No writer has been attached. Read More »

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Tom Rothman’s TriStar Unveils First Pic Dates: ‘Ricki And The Flash’ & Robert Zemeckis’ Philippe Petit Movie

TriStarJonathan Demme’s Ricki And The Flash, written by Diablo Cody and starring Meryl Streep, will be released June 26, 2015, and Robert Zemeckis’ Phillip Petit tale starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt will bow on October 2, 2015. These are the first two films under Tom Rothman‘s new TriStar Productions at Sony Pictures.

TriStar has been ramping up its film projects since former Fox box Rothman joined Sony in August to launch the label. It beat out several suitors for Ricki And The Flash, a hot package that has Streep playing a rock n’ roll-loving woman who chased her tattered dream at the price of her family, but gets a last chance to get it right by reconciling with her estranged daughter. Shooting begins this fall with Marc Platt and Mason Novick producing. That deal came on the heels of prepping for production on the Zemeckis-directed 3D experiential film about French aerialist Petit, who crossed between the Twin Towers on a wire in 1974. Charlotte Lebon, Ben Kingsley and James Badge Dale have signed on to star with Gordon-Levitt. Read More »

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Sony Pictures Nears Co-Finance Deal With Village Roadshow

By and | Monday May 5, 2014 @ 1:13pm PDT

village roadshow sonyThe supplementary financing deal between Village Roadshow Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment won’t trump Village Roadshow’s longtime co-financing partnership with Warner Bros., whose first-look deal most recently yielded the blockbuster $450M animated hit The Lego Movie.

Deadline previously reported that SonyEntertainment CEO Michael Lynton was looking for other co-financing partners and, in fact, are ready to go with former Warner Bros. president Jeff Robinov when his financing comes together and that will be a coup. Two of the films Robinov had the insight to shepard — 300: Rise of an Empire and The Lego Movie — together have already generated over $1B worldwide for WB this year. Sony already sealed a big $200M deal with Lone Star Capital and Citibank — half debt and half equity — which Deadline reported exclusively last month. It is a multi-year agreement to co-finance the majority of their films for the next several years.

The deal with Village Roadshow is imminent but will finance only a small percentage of a few pictures — not below 25% on each. A key deal point is that Sony will continue to keep most of its territories internationally as Village Roadshow operates in only a few territories, so the deal includes Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Village Roadshow have deep pockets to finance and the deal covers select films on a picture-by-picture basis, starting with an initial quartet of upcoming titles: Antoine … Read More »

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A Sony Switcheroo: ‘Smurfs’ Reboot Pushed To 2016, ‘Goosebumps’ Moved Up To Summer 2015

By | Thursday May 1, 2014 @ 1:11pm PDT

GoosebumpsThe studio originally had set the Jack Black starrer Goosebumps for March 23, 2016, and in March it targeted the untitled Smurfs reboot for August 2015. Scratch that. Now Sony says director Rob Letterman’s adaptation of the popular R.L. Stine book series Smurfettewill start its kid-scaring on August 7, 2015, and the little blue guys will return to theaters for Round 3 on August 5, 2016. Compared to its predecessor, the live-action/toon hybrid sequel The Smurfs 2 pretty much bombed when it debuted on the same weekend last year — August 2, to be exact. So for the third go-round, Sony brass tapped Gnomeo & Juliet and Shrek 2 helmer Kelly Asbury to direct an all-animated film with new designs and environments that will focus on the creatures origins and hew more closely to the original artwork. So as it’s set now, Original Film’s Goosebumps will counterprogram Fox’s vidgame adaptation Assassin’s Creed, and Untilted Smurfs Movie has no competitors on its weekend yet.

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