Anna Lisa Raya is a Deadline contributor.
The second half of Deadline’s 3rd annual Contenders event at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills got off to an energized start after lunch on the outdoor terrace. Deadline Awards columnist Pete Hammond returned with Captain Phillips star Barkhad Abdi, who had one of the bigger moments of the day when he revealed he ad-libbed his momentous “I am the captain now” line in the Sony film, essentially stealing the scene from Tom Hanks. The film’s producers, Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti, were spotted in the audience joining in the roaring applause.
Related: Deadline’s Contenders 2013 – Morning Panels
Anyone who’s been waiting for David O. Russell’s follow-up to last year’s Oscar-nominated Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle (also for for Sony), will be happy to know the film was locked down today. This is per one of the film’s producers, Richard Suckle, who was on hand to discuss the genesis of the film which is loosely based on the ABSCAM scandals of the 1970s. One of his funnier reveals was that star Bradley Cooper — not wanting to perm his hair for the film — spent hours in hair and makeup every day getting it curled. Co-star Christian Bale, on the other hand, gained 40 lbs. for his role and shaved the crown of his head to perfect his character’s outlandish comb over.
Julie Delpy, co-writer and star of Sony Pictures Classics’ Before Midnight, had a lot to say about the intense writing and preparation that went into making the film appear as improvised and natural as it does. Acting the role was “extremely stressful,” she told Hammond. “There’s no plot. There’s nothing to hold onto but character and emotional arc.” Also for SPC is Tim’s Vermeer — a documentary about one man’s attempt to recreate a Johannes Vermeer painting — which was uncharacteristically directed by Teller (better known as the other half of Penn & Teller). He was thankful for his editor, Patrick Sheffield, who made sense of the over 2,400 hours of footage. Writer Kelly Marcel was on-hand to discuss Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, the only film ever allowed to feature Walt Disney as a character. She called the studio “unbelievably brave” in how hands-off they were with her and director John Lee Hancock.
Related: PHOTOS: Contenders 2013 Gallery
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A downward revision in expected annual sales of cameras and TVs, and underperformance in the motion picture division have contributed to Sony‘s tweak of its full-year forecast. Net income for the year ending in March 2014 is now … Read More »
Neill Blomkamp‘s sci-fi Chappie has added Sigourney Weaver as filming gets underway in Johannesburg. The Sony/MRC production written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell follows the preternaturally gifted robot Chappie, … Read More »
The President and CEO of Sony Corp has had a busy year, so he’s ringing in 2014 in Las Vegas — by delivering the opening speech at CES on January 7, that is. Kazuo Hirai … Read More »
President Obama warned this afternoon that the economy could head toward a “very deep recession” unless lawmakers agree to raise the debt ceiling soon. Many investors seem to agree: With lawmakers unable to agree on terms of a … Read More »
In what could be good news for the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, China is moving to repeal a 13-year ban on the sale of video game consoles within the country. The news came in … Read More »
Sony is backing off the hot 4th of July 2014 weekend with its Sex Tape, directed by Jake Kasdan. Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel star in the comedy as a couple whose raunchy home vid goes missing. But New Line‘s … Read More »
Sony‘s indefatigable top PR guy Steve Elzer will be leaving the studio in December after a 12-year run. It has to do with a consolidation of the department and the recent hiring of Charlie Sipkins. Elzer will … Read More »
The company is telling analysts and investors to hold November 21 for a “Sony Entertainment Investor Day” to be held at the Sony Pictures Entertainment lot in Culver City. No word on why — or who’ll be … Read More »
It’s hard to sell 4K television sets to people if they have little to watch on them. Sony hopes to break through that dilemma today with the introduction of Video Unlimited 4K, which it says is … Read More »
David Bloom is a Deadline contributor.
PlayStation Group CEO and president Andrew House told a press event at the big GamesCon conference in Germany today that the company’s next-generation game console, the PS4, will be released November … Read More »
The two electronics giants are angling to show off their new gadgets ahead of the introduction of new iPhones, iPads and other products from rival Apple, Bloomberg reports. Along with the Note III phone/tablet hybrid, … Read More »
It just might if it frightens them enough to accelerate their efforts to make people pay for broadband based on how much they use — the same way they pay for electricity or water. ”This isn’t just a side show,” independent analyst Craig Moffett says. “This is THE central issue defining the value of the cable industry going forward.” And the pricing model could rock streaming companies including Netflix or, perhaps, Sony. It would be “a material risk” to Netflix’s prospects if a Sony-Viacom agreement leads to usage-based pricing, Bernstein Research’s Carlos Kirjner says. Read More »
This could be a big breakthrough for tech companies that want to create an Internet-based alternative to traditional cable and satellite services. The Wall Street Journal reports that Sony has a preliminary agreement to carry Viacom‘s channels on a service it hopes to launch by year end. The programming would initially go to those with Sony devices including its PlayStation gaming console and Bravia HDTVs, with tablets and smartphones to follow according to “a person familiar with the matter.” If Sony and Viacom complete their deal it would be the first time a major programmer has agreed to provide its most popular pay TV channels to an online service. Intel and Google are among the other companies hoping to use the Internet to challenge cable and satellite video offerings. Sony’s talking with other programmers including Disney, Time Warner, and CBS.
Related: Google Wants To Launch Online Pay TV Service: WSJ
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George Clooney directs and heads a killer cast in period dramatic thriller The Monuments Men. Based on the true story of one of the greatest treasure hunts in history, The Monuments Men focuses on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by FDR with going into Germany to … Read More »
Nikki Finke who is on vacation will have a fuller Loeb vs Sony report soon.
Apparently, The Most Hated Man In Hollywood just wasn’t comfortable being labeled “The Most Dangerous Man To Our Industry” by George Clooney for all the world to read (via Mike Fleming’s exclusive Deadline interview and carried by Yahoo this past weekend). So now Third Point hedge fund CEO Daniel Loeb claims today he’s backing off Sony. But only after the putz created chaos and confusion inside a stable and successful studio, destabilized Michael Lynton’s and Amy Pascal’s and Jeff Blake’s management because two summer films After Earth and White House Down bombed at the domestic box office in what is a cyclical business, and imperiled many current jobs and future projects there. It’s disgusting. Not only does he seek to profit from the misfortunes of countries (Greece) and corporations (Sony after Howard Stringer crashed and burned the once great electronics giant), but in this case bullies a major entertainment company to the brink. Now Loeb will simply retreat to his East Coast dream homes and not give Hollywood another thought until the next time he feels the urge to kvetch. Kudos to Clooney for having the balls to hold up Loeb to public scorn. And congrats to Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai for not panicking or pressuring top executives to leave just to appease Loeb. Nice work, too, by producer Lynda Obst who gave a very forceful and cogent defense of SPE on CNBC yesterday. As for Ashton Kutcher and his worthless opinion, let’s see how his career careens when his Jobs indie flops and CBS/Warner Bros no longer pays him to make Two And A Half Men even more unwatchable.
Related: Sony Rejects Daniel Loeb’s Entertainment Spinoff Proposal
Loeb today did an about-face and claimed to Variety he was backing off Lynton, Pascal, et al: “We support Hirai, and to the extent that he supports his management team and they can meet the board’s initiatives around transparency and profit margin improvement, I see no reason [the current executives] cannot do that. It is a decision for Mr. Hirai to make.” This is after Hirai sent a letter to Third Point (which owns 7% of Sony) and rejected Loeb’s unsolicited proposal to spinoff Sony’s entertainment unit. Suddenly Loeb was calling Hirai’s letter “thoughtfully written and detailed in its discussion of profitability and transparency. There was a lot there for shareholders to hang their hats on.” Loeb also admitted “it is probably unfair to focus on one or two bad movies, just in the way that Third Point from time to time can have one or two bad months or a bad year. … We’re really not focused on individual movies or their slate. I know I mentioned that in the last letter, but at this point it is more productive to support management and the goals advanced by Mr. Hirai in his letter.”
Loeb clearly never counted on being outed by Clooney for “knowing nothing about our business” and dissed so publicly and forcefully and publicly by the filmmaker. Loeb replied: “Notwithstanding the fact that the media likes to create a stir, I admire Mr. Clooney’s passion for Sony and his loyalty to Sony and his friends there.” But Loeb nervily suggested he and Clooney share a “common goal: a more disciplined company with better allocation of capital means less money spent on bureaucracy and more investment in motion pictures. We are all for intelligent investment in creative content. I believe our interests are aligned in a way he probably doesn’t realize.” Read More »
UPDATE: The battling continues in this war of words. Daniel Loeb’s hedge fund Third Point tonight made clear it won’t stop destabilizing Sony and its entertainment division after the Japanese parent company rejected Daniel Loeb’s pressure to spinoff its showbiz unit. Third Point said it will “explore further options to create value for shareholders” and “welcomes Sony’s commitment to greater transparency and expects this will foster a culture of accountability. Sony has clearly recognized the performance issued we identified. In the new spirit of transparency, management should communicate more specific plans to improve entertainment results. A renewed focus on profitability and better margins should reduce bureaucracy and thus free up resources to invest in high quality motion pictures, filmed entertainment, networks and music, aligning shareholder interests, the creative community and consumers.”
Earlier today, Sony told Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb today it is rejecting his proposal to create a stock for its entertainment assets and then sell up to a 20% stake to the public. The board has “unanimously concluded that continuing to own 100% of our entertainment business is the best path forward and is integral to Sony’s strategy,” CEO Kazuo Hirai says in a letter to the hedge fund manager. “We do, however, expect to increase disclosure regarding Sony’s entertainment businesses.” Hirai adds that he’s “very focused on increasing margins at [Sony] Pictures.” That’s a particular sore point for Loeb, especially following the box office results for After Earth and White House Down, which he said last week “bombed spectacularly.” In response, actor George Clooney told my colleague Mike Fleming Jr. that Loeb is “a carpet bagger…who is trying to spread a climate of fear that pushes studios to want to make only tent poles.” Hirai says that he’ll cut costs while also “aggressively investing in our global television production business” and “building upon our diversified film slate strategy.” He notes that Sony has “instituted an even more exacting ‘green light’ process for film production, focusing more intensively on overall slate profitability as well as per film returns-on-investment.” Sony’s decisions were based on its belief that demand for premium content will grow “at unprecedented levels” as broadband and mobile devices become nearly ubiquitous. Shareholders “will benefit from owning all, rather than a part, of these valuable [content] assets.” Loeb is an investor in Variety with Deadline’s parent company, PMC.
The letter follows below:
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The new report should provide more fodder for the campaign by hedge fund titan Daniel Loeb to revamp Sony’s entertainment operations. With disappointing results from After Earth and a drop in home video sales, Sony says … Read More »
It’s no more Mr. Nice Guy for the founder of hedge fund Third Point, a major investor in Sony. In a letter to his investors today, Daniel Loeb says he’s fed up with the performance of the electronics giant’s movie, TV, and music businesses — which … Read More »