Fox has its Miracle Mop project Joy with Jennifer Lawrence and director David O. Russell and now Sony Pictures’ has its Tupperware project. What’s next? Windshield wipers? Oh, wait, they made that movie already.
Sony acquired author Bob Kealing’s non-fiction book Tupperware Unsealed for Sandra Bullock to star as the marketer extraordinaire behind the launch of Tupperware and its famous parties that made the storage product a household name and into the multi-billion company it still is today. Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up) will adapt, produce and direct this fun story about a divorcee from Detroit who convinced a plastics inventor to let her go crazy marketing a good product which, up until then, was getting little attention from consumers.
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Lionsgate has promoted Thomas Hughes, a sign, the company says, of how much importance it places on emerging online and alternate video-delivery platforms. As EVP Worldwide Digital Distribution, Hughes will oversee sales and distribution efforts in on-demand and digital video, including more than 25 digital retailers, mobile platforms and multichannel video providers. He’ll be reporting to Jim Packer, Lionsgate’s President of Worldwide TV & Digital Distribution, and continue to work closely with international TV exec Peter Iacono on global digital and VOD markets. Hughes had been SVP Worldwide Digital, and previously served under Packer at MGM as VP Worldwide Digital. Among his notable projects at Lionsgate has been the pioneering day-and-date releases of Arbitrage and Margin Call on VOD and in theaters.
Consumer Electronics Show Gets A 2015 Date
CES, the mammoth electronics confab that overruns the Las Vegas Convention Center and so much of the rest of that city each year, has set its dates for 2015. The Consumer Electronics Association, which puts on the show, says it will be run from JAnuary 6-9. For more info or to get signed up really, really, really early, go to CESweb.org. The CES site for the event already has info for hotel rooms, registration, and so much else. No link to the site for orthopedic walking shoes you’ll need after hiking across … Read More »
Sony’s PS4 videogame console will get a new game-playing cousin in the U.S. and Canada this fall, the PlayStation TV, a $99 video device that can play older PlayStation and PS Vita games on a TV set with a standard Sony game controller. A bundle including the device, a controller, an HDMI cable, a memory card and a voucher for the Lego Movie game will cost $139. It will also be able to play the next installment of Disney’s massively successful Infinity hybrid game, which uses physical figurines to unlock a variety of different kinds of game play, when that launches early next year. The PlayStation TV, under a slightly different name, has been available in Japan previously.
It was announced at Sony’s big pre-E3 presentation tonight to media and analysts, but it could lead to a much wider reach for Sony’s PlayStation platform in North America by giving access to many games from Sony’s PS Vita handheld platform, plus the upcoming PlayStation Now service that will provide access to hundreds of older games from previous PlayStation consoles. The device’s launch in the U.S. also thrusts Sony into the already crowded race with Apple, Roku, Google, Amazon and others selling inexpensive Net-enabled devices that can bring new kinds of content to a dumb traditional TV screen. The difference for Sony may be the access the new device will provide to a deep library of hundreds of older video games, which also will become available over the coming months on all of Sony’s existing game devices as well. You can watch just the part of the two-hour announcement focused on the PlayStation TV here:
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Sony‘s 22 Jump Street is getting a head start overseas prior to its domestic launch and its opening night in the UK is impressive. The film, which stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, is on its way to a $2.6M to $2.8M opening night, which would put it in the category of one of the top comedies ever to open in this territory and certainly up there with such big openers as Universal’s Ted.
It’s also outpacing the first installment, 21 Jump Street, by over three times right now and it’s on track to take about 50% of the Top Ten market share in this territory which is no small feat given that Edge of Tomorrow, Maleficent, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Godzilla are still playing.
The first installment, 21 Jump Street, bowed in 2012 and did best in English-speaking countries where the humor translated well. In fact, the UK was its biggest market with a $15.9M gross, and with Australia grabbing another $15.6M, those two English-speaking territories accounted for about 50% of the total international cume of $63.5M. It opened in March; this one is opening only a week before the World Cup starts and Sony is betting it will play right through the matches.
22 also opened in the Netherlands and took the No. 1 spot there, doubling the opening of the first installment and playing about 85% above the second film in the marketplace, … Read More »
This the latest promotion for Nicole Seligman, who has become a formidable behind-the-scenes force at Sony since she was recruited by former CEO Howard Stringer to be the company’s general counsel after she repped Oliver North in the Iran-Contra hearings and President Bill Clinton when he was impeached. In her new position she’ll directly oversee important functions at the company’s movie and music properties, reporting to Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. She’ll continue to report to Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai in her new role as Senior Legal Counsel and as she keeps her corporate duties as President, Sony Corporation of America and as a member of Sony’s Group Executive Committee.
The company says that in her new role at Entertainment she will “develop overall strategy and growth opportunities, identify and implement efficiencies within and among [Sony Pictures, Sony Music, and the Sony/ATV Music Publishing joint venture] and expand the businesses’ combined global footprint and influence.” She’ll directly oversee finance, human resources, legal and corporate communications. “I sought out Nicole for this role and am thrilled to work with her to explore new ways to leverage Sony Entertainment’s business and creative assets into new opportunities for profitability and growth,” said Lynton.
Sony vowed to streamline the entertainment operation last year after it rejected a proposal by hedge fund owner Daniel Loeb to spin off a minority stake in the businesses. (Loeb is an investor in Variety with Deadline’s parent company, PMC.) Late last year Sony hired Bain … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Sony and producer Neal Moritz have enlisted Boondocks EP Rodney Barnes to rewrite buddy action-comedy Any Means Necessary, about two estranged brothers who team up to go undercover. The project is in priority development at the studio and has Marlon Wayans attached to play one brother – a cop – opposite Mike Epps as his criminal sibling.
Film and TV vet Barnes wrote and produced Damon Wayans’ sitcom My Wife And Kids, wrote for and co-exec produced Chris Rock’s Everybody Hates Chris, and wrote and co-exec produced the Fox comedy ‘Til Death. David Elliot and Paul Lovett (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Four Brothers) penned the original Any Means Necessary script. Meanwhile, Sony’s looking for box office gold this summer with another buddy cop comedy, June’s Channing Tatum-Jonah Hill sequel 22 Jump Street. Barnes is repped by Paradigm, Principato Young and attorney Darrell Miller at Fox/Rothchild.
Jumping in with both feet, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 made a splash but not the tidal wave that was hoped for in late nights Thursday, with an estimated $8.7M to start the weekend off for Sony. The thinking from industry trackers was that the late night gross would be much more, but it could still pull in a solid $85M to $90M on opening as this movie traditionally plays well across the board demo-wise. The studio will be waiting and watching for the Saturday attendance bump that families typically bring. The 353 IMAX screens played well, pulling in $1.4M or about 16% of the $8.7M estimate. If it does 10% more today, the gross could get to $90M+.
On 4,324 screens, the film is still on track to a higher opening than the first installment for the three-day weekend. That one opened to $62M in 2012 on 4,318 runs and then ended up with a domestic cume of $262M+. The big difference was that the first opened on a Tuesday ahead of a July 4th holiday on Wednesday. The first Amazing Spider-Man (as well as Spider-Man 3) had a $7.5M opening night; that was based only on midnight screenings. This one started at 7 p.m. More screenings.
In late-night comparisons, Thor: The Dark World had a $7.1M Thursday opening (starting at 8 p.m.) and ended up with an $85.7M 3-day weekend. It was driven in large part by young males, … Read More »
UPDATED 2:35 PM: The studio said today that the feature adaptation of Pixels will hit theaters May 15, 2015, and that shooting will begin next month rather than June.
Related: Kevin James, Josh Gad Join ‘Pixels’
PREVIOUSLY, APRIL 4: Sony Pictures announced that it will release the Chris Columbus film Pixels starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Josh Gad in summer 2015, with Michelle Monaghan and Peter Dinklage joining the cast. Principal photography will commence in June. In Pixels, aliens invade planet Earth after misinterpreting video feeds of classic arcade games as a threat. The President (James) calls on his childhood friend, Jules Brenner (Sandler), a former arcade champ-turned-home theater installer, to assist in saving the planet. Monaghan is set to play a weapons expert who also is Sandler’s love interest. Dinklage will play Sandler’s former arcade foe. Gad will portray a socially inept genius with a lot of conspiracy theories. Columbus and Sony are working with iconic vintage video game brands in order to incorporate them into Pixels. Thefilm was written by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling and based on the 2010 short by Patrick Jean and produced by One More Production. Pixels will be produced by Happy Madison’s Sandler and Allen Covert, and 1492 Pictures’ Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan and Mark Radcliffe. Executive producers are Barry Bernardi, Jack Giarraputo, Tim Herlihy, Heather Parry and Seth Gordon. Just for grins, here’s the original short … Read More »
NBC‘s Night Shift exec producer Jeff Judah insists he loves the idea of his big ensemble medical drama running on the broadcast network in the summer. “There are not as many shows on the networks, it may not get lost as much, maybe get a chance to be seen by more people — we love it.” he told reporters at NBC Press Day.
NBC series The Night Shift, about the men and women who work graveyard at San Antonio Memorial, got an 8-episode order as part of a four-show deal between NBC and Sony TV last May that included pickups of The Blacklist (with guaranteed Monday 10 PM slot), Welcome To The Family and The Night Shift, and a renewal of Community. The Night Shift pilot tested very well, with Irish actor Eoin Macken in the lead, as adrenaline junkie T.C. Callahan who, after a grueling tour of duty in the Middle East, now works in the ER. Creators Gabe Sachs and Judah executive produce with Pierre Morel.
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EXCLUSIVE: 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 »
Aussie-U.S. production company GRACE has acquired worldwide rights from Sony/ATV Music Publishing to The Beatles‘ catalog, a rare rights deal for the iconic band’s music that will be used to make the animated children’s series Beat Bugs, which is currently in development. The project is from GRACE principal Josh Wakely, who pitched Sony/ATV with the idea for the series, which uses original narratives interwoven with Beatles songs to tell the story of young bugs that live and learn life lessons in the magical universe of an overgrown backyard. Talks are underway with animation studios and licensees for distribution, with worldwide rights being sold by CAA and Hirsch, Wallerstein, Hayum, Matlof & Fishman. ”Josh’s ingenuity and creative exploration of these iconic songs in a wholly imaginative world was too good to pass up and the idea of opening up the single greatest music catalogue of the 20th Century to the next generation is something we are particularly excited about”, Sony/ATV managing director Damian Trotter said in a release announcing the tie-up.
Related: CBS To Salute The Beatles’ U.S. Debut In Grammy Special
The deal is a rarity for a catalog that has always been particular about how it is deployed — the band’s albums were slow in CD adaptation in the 1980s and weren’t available on iTunes until 2010. The Beatles are no strangers to … Read More »
Tuesday’s debut of the much-anticipated video game Titanfall likely will be a pivotal early moment for Microsoft’s newest console, the Xbox One, which has struggled to keep up with Sony’s cheaper PlayStation 4 since both launched in November. Almost four months in, Sony has sold 6 million PS4s, compared to 4 million Xbox Ones. With the Xbox One costing $100 more than the PS4, and with few other distinctive titles, Microsoft is hoping a successful Titanfall launch will keep it in the game.
Related: Microsoft’s Xbox One Breaks Sales Record, Moves 1M Units In 24 Hours
Distributed by Electronic Arts, Titanfall is a rip-roaring online-only take on standard tropes of science fiction and first-person shooters, from creators of the Call of Duty franchise. It initially will be exclusive to the Xbox One, then also be launched for Windows-based PCs and Microsoft’s older Xbox 360 console. It is not scheduled to be available on Sony consoles, an unusual move by a big third-party publisher such as EA that normally wants to make its games as widely available as possible.
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There’s less than meets the eye to a regulatory filing in Japan that seemed to show that hedge fund Third Point is no longer one of the top 10 investors in Sony. The filing, first reported by Reuters, appeared to indicate that fund manager Daniel Loeb is retreating after the company in August rebuffed his proposal urging it to spin off a minority stake in its movie, TV and music entertainment assets. But Third Point fell off the top 10 list because it shifted shares to different names, and into swaps that are not reported, I’m told. The changes give the fund more flexibility to maneuver outside the public eye, although it’s still in close contact with Sony management. Last month Loeb told his clients in a report that Sony remained one of Third Point’s “current core investments” (with Softbank and T-Mobile) and that he saw “the potential for increased value in 2014.” Sony’s rejection of his proposal “proved costly for shareholders” leading the company’s stock to “trade significantly below their sum of the parts valuation.” Sony’s U.S. shares are +21% for the last 12 months but -13% in the last six months. Still, Loeb said that he had “high hopes for CEO [Kazuo] Hirai and his lieutenants to continue their path towards greater profitability and to make difficult decisions when necessary to reach those goals.” The fund … Read More »
The new year has barely started, yet I already have a candidate for the eventual list of 2014′s most influential media execs: MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman. His sports-focused streaming video and Internet operation is poised to become an entertainment power following the announcements at International CES this month that it will drive two potentially ground-breaking new services. On February 24, WWE will launch a subscription-based online video channel, WWE Network, that will include live and on-demand library programming. (Bowman sat on the WWE board from 2003-2008.) And Sony turned heads with its plan to introduce a Web-based pay TV service that will include live programming from channels that are only available now to subscribers of traditional cable, satellite, and telco video services. MLBAM’s state-of-the-art infrastructure already handles live and on-demand streaming for college basketball’s March Madness, CBS Sports, and ESPN3, as well as Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze TV and in 2012 handled Obama for America campaign videos. As its business grows, financial types wonder whether baseball execs might take MLBAM public. So it’s a heady time for Bowman, who became Michigan’s state treasurer in 1983 at age 27 and went on to become COO of ITT Corp. Deadline checked in with the MLBAM chief to find out more about his plans with WWE and Sony, and the prospects for streaming video. Here are his thoughts, edited for length and clarity.
DEADLINE: Why do you consider the WWE Network so noteworthy?
BOWMAN: Economically it’s one of our largest clients for sure. In that sense it’s incredibly important. But what’s more important than dollars is this is the most vertically integrated brand in America. Vince McMahon controls everything soup to nuts — from the idea in his head to how it appears on every screen around the world. And he just demonstrated [at CES] he’s going to try and change what the economic rules are. He’s in an ideal situation to do that. That’s why a lot of the content players are going to watch this very carefully. Read More »
Vampire Academy is moving up and out of Valentine’s Day weekend and will now bow on Feb. 7, giving the horror pic a couple of more weeks to play before RoboCop (MGM) and the next Kevin Hart pic About Last Night coming smashing through theater doors. Okay, now that Ride Along is busting up all Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday records at the box office with an estimated $42.2M take for the three day and $48M-plus for the four-day gross, Valentine’s Day weekend looks interesting given that Sony is releasing both pictures (Robocop on the Wednesday before). About Last Night, which also stars Regina Hall and Joy Bryant, will be released through its Screen Gems moniker. Of course, one is a violent actioner and the other is a romantic comedy so much different pics, but Sony’s gotta be thrilled after seeing these grosses. Read More »
In this week’s podcast, Deadline Executive Editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom download the highlights from this week’s massive Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
They look at Yahoo’s splashy preview of its new tech, news and food sites with a presentation that reminded David L. of a network advertising upfront; discuss highlights from David L.’s talk with TiVo CEO Tom Rogers on the current shortcomings and future opportunities in TV; grapple with the WWE’s move to online subscription video; and dial into T-Mobile’s highly entertaining and potentially transformative tactics that could re-arrange the mobile phone industry.
They also peer at the physical and likely fiscal limits of the latest savior for consumer electronics companies, the 4K Ultra HD TV; and prompt a review of Michael Bay’s rather sudden departure from the stage during a Samsung presentation.
Listen to the podcast in your preferred format here:
Deadline Big Media podcast 67 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Big Media podcast 67 (.M4A version)
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Kazuo Hirai‘s keynote presentation at the International CES started slow but finished with a passionate call to arms that should resonate loudest at his own company. The CEO acknowledged that Sony has had a string of technological misfires — including its Betamax video recorder — in addition to successes such as the Walkman, compact disc, and PlayStation game consoles. “In an enterprise that makes things, we first must make that connection with people,” he says. And while “we’ve started to deliver that ‘wow’ again,” he added that Sony and the consumer electronics industry “can and must do better” by eschewing “just good enough products…These products must be fantastic objects of engagement.” He touted the advent of 4K television sets, and audio devices that deliver more nuanced reproductions than people typically hear when they listen to MP3s. “An entire generation missed that experience of listening to uncompressed audio…what the artist intended,” he says. Hirai also likes his company’s new cameras. Sensors are so sensitive that users can change the focus and depth enhancement of a photograph after it’s taken. Medical professionals also can use the sensors to evaluate someone’s skin, or determine the amount of oxygen and sugar pulsing through a blood vessel.
Related: CES: Sony To Introduce Cloud-Based Live And VOD TV Service
This would appear to be the potentially revolutionary virtual pay TV service that’s been widely anticipated by the media elite. Sony Computer Entertainment Group CEO Andrew House told the International CES confab that the Sony Entertainment Network will be introduced as a “new cloud based service in U.S. this year” and it will include the “most popular live TV programs combined with a large library of VOD content” — although he offered no specifics. It will have “an intuitive and dynamic interface that gets to know you.” Users won’t need multiple boxes, and can view across devices. They also can harness social media connections and their own viewing history to help discover new shows. House — given a segment to talk during Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai’s keynote — says that Sony “will make TV a more personalized and dynamic service” adding that “no other company is better poised to lead the TV revolution than Sony.” The big question is whether Sony will be able to offer pay TV channels apart from the conventional cable and satellite bundles. If it can, then the service might promote cord-cutting — which could upend economic assumptions for traditional media companies.
Related: CES: Sony CEO Calls For An End To “Just Good Enough” Tech Products
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Netflix seems to be everywhere at the International CES confab. Sony just announced that its new 4K Bravia TV sets will offer Netflix’s 4K programming to its subscribers — an arrangement similar to ones the streaming service unveiled today with Samsung and LG. All of Netflix’s new original productions will be shot in 4K, CEO Reed Hastings said at a Sony press conference. “It’s a chance for the Internet to really shine,” he added. His company can pump the sharp images through broadband connections that deliver data at a rate of less than 15 MB per second. “This is very practical, over WiFi if you want to,” Hastings says. After the Netflix chief left, Sony Electronics President Mike Fasulo noted that there’ll be additional 4K content from Sony’s Crackle online service and Hulu. Shows including including Trophy Wife, The Blacklist, and The Michael J. Fox Show are being shot in 4K. The company also wants consumers to create their own 4K content with a new Handycam that will sell for about $2,000, and is rolling out nine 4K television sets including one with an 85-inch screen. If you don’t mind looking completely geeky, and scaring children, the company also introduced the HMZ-T3Q — head mounted portable 3D goggles that offer the equivalent of a 750-inch screen. Fasulo called it “a theater on your head.”
Related: … Read More »