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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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BOX OFFICE PREVIEW: ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′ Expected To Swing Past First Installment Domestically By Healthy Margin

By | Thursday May 1, 2014 @ 10:42am PDT

Amazing Spider-Man 2 Box Office PreviewHoping to carry the momentum from its overseas debut, where it has already racked up $155M in two weeks, Sony‘s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 bow domestically tonight on 4,324 screens (including 353 IMAX) and is expected to open about 30% higher than the first installment for the three-day weekend. The picture has always played well across all demos, but this time around, ticket sales are outpacing the first Amazing Spider-Man in 2012 and currently represents 90% of Fandango’s weekend ticket sales.

Fandango chief correspondent Dave Karger said that this one is outpacing the buzz of the first one, which is good news for the studio: “We’re selling more tickets for the sequel than we did for the first film.” As it should be.

Related: Hot Trailer: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

There is one notable difference: The first Amazing Spider-Man opened during the July 4th holiday, which landed on a Wednesday, so its opening was on a Tuesday and it grossed $35M. It went onto make $62M on its first weekend (post-Fourth of July). The sequel is opening minus a holiday weekend, so if this one grosses maybe $15M tonight, and then another $30M-$35M on Friday, it looks on track for a $90M+ weekend. If estimates come in lower after Friday night attendance, all eyes will be on the Saturday bump.

sonypicInternationally, the film is still rolling out with France and Brazil bowing tonight and then China on Sunday. By then, Spidey will be in around 40 markets. With an international opening of $47M, the Sony tentpole marked the biggest opening of 2014 when it bowed two weeks ago in 14 markets. In the UK/Ireland, Spidey grabbed $15M and marked a 49% bigger opening than Captain America: The Winter Soldier in the territory. But in 2012, the first installment has a UK opening-weekend tally of $17.1M. The same group of markets, Sony says, opened comparably to the first, and watching its rollout, that is very true: some markets are higher and some have been lower. Spider-Man has done particularly well overseas traditionally, although it has yet to top the $1B mark like other Marvel titles have done. China should be a great box office catch for this film as the first installment did exceptionally well, grossing a total of $48.8M in 2012. Latin America is also usually very strong for Spider-Man as is Japan, Korea and Russia — which together brought in $96.8M in 2012.

The performance of Amazing Spider-Man 2 is crucial for the studio. The production budget is said to be around $255M, with about $185M-$190M spent on marketing. That means all in it needs to make more than $752.2M worldwide (which is what the first installment grossed). About 65% of the first installment’s gross came from international markets. The domestic audience has declined slightly for Spider-Man so if it does not perform strongly stateside, it will need to make up the difference internationally or vice versa. Read More »

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‘True Detective’ Helmer Cary Fukunaga Teams With John Legend For Pulitzer Winner ‘The Black Count’

By | Monday April 28, 2014 @ 11:35am PDT

Black Count Movie Cary Fukunaga John LegendEXCLUSIVE: On fire since the success of HBO‘s True Detective this year, director Cary Fukunaga has lined up his next project I’ve learned. Teaming with John Legend and his Get Lifted Film Co. partner Mike Jackson, Fukunaga will adapt and helm a big-screen version of The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, And The Real Count of Monte Cristo for Sony. Get Lifted have optioned the Pulitzer-winning 2012 biography written by Tom Reiss that chronicles the life and adventures of French Revolution-era General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas. Jackson and Ty Stiklorius will 2014 Winter TCA Tour - Day 12014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter - Arrivalsproduce the pic with Fukunaga’s Parliament of Owls. Legend, his manager Troy Carter and Sony’s Josh Bratman will serve as executive producers. “Cary’s exceptional talent as a writer/director will bring to life all of the action and drama that have made The Black Count such a compelling read,” Michael De Luca, who is overseeing the pic for Sony told me today. “He’s got a great take on the material and we’re thrilled to be working with him, John, Thais, Troy and Mike,” added the Columbia Pictures President of Production.

Related: Cary Fukunaga To Direct Scott Silver-Scripted ‘Noble Assassin’

Born to a French nobleman and a slave woman of African descent, Dumas became the highest-ranking person of color to ever serve in any European army. A favorite of Napoleon for a time, Dumas was also the first non-white to become a brigadier general in the French military. Dumas’ exploits were used as the basis for the novels of his son Alexandre Dumas. Better known today than his father, the younger Dumas wrote The Three Musketeers and The Count Of Monte Cristo. Read More »

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Ex-Sony PR Stalwart Steve Elzer Hangs New Shingle

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 12:11pm PDT
Mike Fleming

elzerSteve Elzer, the longtime corporate communications vet for the movie divisions of Sony Pictures and New Line, has launched Elzer & Associates, Inc, a boutique PR firm that will build clientele consisting of corporations, production companies, execs, filmmakers and philanthropists in the entertainment community. He starts the company with ex-Imageworks  exec Rachel Falikoff, who will become an SVP.

Elzer, who left the studio late last year, launches with several clients that include Newscard, a start-up built around social media and how consumers comment on professional news photographs taken at entertainment and sporting events; and Court Five, the production company hatched by Jane Fleming and Mark Ordesky, who worked with Elzer at New Line and oversaw production on The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. They are about to launch the ABC fantasy-based reality series The Quest. Also aboard is Stradella Road, the company created by marketing exec Gordon Patterson to develop global marketing campaigns for studios and networks, specializing in the digital space. Read More »

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Mark Strong Joins Sacha Baron Cohen In Sony Comedy ‘Grimsby’

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 11:30am PDT
Mike Fleming

markstrongMark Strong has been set to star alongside Sacha Baron Cohen in Grimsby, the Louis Leterrier-directed comedy for Sony Pictures. Scripted by Baron Cohen, Phil Johnston and Peter Baynham, the comedy is about a British black-ops spy (Strong) whose idiotic brother is an English football hooligan (Baron Cohen). Read More »

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‘Zombieland’ Scribes Wernick & Reese To Script Ubisoft’s ‘Watch Dogs’ For Sony & New Regency: Video

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 9:20am PDT
Mike Fleming

watchEXCLUSIVE: Zombieland scribes Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese have been set to script Watch Dogs, a live-action feature based on the upcoming Ubisoft video game. Sony and New Regency are developing the film with Ubisoft. The story centers on Aiden Pearce, a hacker who turns the city of Chicago into his personal stomping grounds to carry out his own brand of justice after a violent family tragedy. He is certainly adept physically, but his true gift is his ability to tap into a citywide computer system and control everything from traffic lights to accessing intel that allows him to engage the bad guys, and thwart attempts to kill innocents.

ZOMBIELANDWernick and Rheese are currently developing Epsilon, a spec they sold to Sony for Greg Berlanti to direct and for Michael De Luca to produce. The scribes are repped by WME and Hansen, Jacobson. This is the third screen collaboration for New Regency and Ubisoft: Tom Hardy is starring in the Doug Liman-directed Splinter Cell, and Michael Fassbender is starring in Assassin’s Creed, which will have a director shortly. Here is a trailer that gives a better idea of Watch Dogs‘ movie potential.

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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 quickly to get this to the start line. A report in THR says Leonardo DiCaprio is the choice to star, and his name was in circulation at the very beginning when the book first was optioned by Sony with producers Mark Gordon and Guymon Casady, who were joined by Scott Rudin when Sorkin came aboard to adapt. DiCaprio just committed to The Revenant with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for fall, so the timing might not work. But this is a movie on a very fast track. Boyle’s repped by WME.

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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

By | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 12:38pm PDT
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 In The Loop writer Jesse Armstrong to pen Border Guards. It’s a comedy that McKay is eyeing to direct, with Ferrell and Reilly playing two hapless but earnest friends who decide to give purpose to their lives by protecting America’s borders from illegal immigrants. In the process they find themselves accidentally stranded in Mexico without identification and must sneak back into the U.S. It’s only related to the previous films in that Ferrell and Reilly pair so well together.

tallaFerrell, McKay, and Kevin Messick are producing through Gary Sanchez Productions. Michael De Luca and Jonathan Kadin will oversee for Sony. The scribe, who’s repped by CAA, is a British comedy writer who with writing partner Sam Bain created the Channel 4 sitcoms Peep Show and Fresh Meat, and the Danny Boyle-directed series Babylon. Armstrong, who earned an Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination for co-writing In The Loop, also scripted a biopic on Republican strategist Lee Atwater for Gary Sanchez with McKay attached to direct.  Ferrell is repped by CAA and Mosaic and John C. Reilly by WME and Framework.

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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 Game Stands Tall focuses on the lives of the players and coaches and their families after the streak was snapped. Backlash, self-doubt, serious illness, death. The ensemble cast features Jim Caviezel, Laura Dern, Michael Chiklis and Alexander Ludwig. Thomas Carter (Coach Carter) directs the Mandalay/TriStar pic, which was written by Scott Marshall Smith. Sony opens it August 22 — just in time for kickoff around the country. Here’s the trailer:

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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 Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir. She joins a voice cast that includes Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Michael Cera, Edward Norton, and David Krumholtz. After falling out of a shopping cart, the hero sausage and his new friends embark on a journey through the supermarket to get back to their aisles before the Fourth of July sale. Sony and Annapurna Pictures are co-financing and producing. Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan direct. Sony is releasing worldwide and eyeing a 2015 date. Hayek most recently appeared in Grown Ups 2 and Here Comes The Boom and next stars in How To Make Love Like An Englishman and Everly.

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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

Read More »

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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 ended with $343 million worldwide. Eisner, repped by CAA and Management 360, most recently directed the gritty horror film The Crazies. It is an important film for the studio that has placed a premium in the care and feeding of franchises with global appeal. The original 1984 Karate Kid is a beloved film, but let’s face it, that crane deal at the end would never have worked, and this kid is way more believable as a martial artist.

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