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Time Warner In Frame To Buy UK’s Five

By | Thursday June 17, 2010 @ 8:13am PDT

FiveThe US media group is understood to be one of those mulling a bid for the UK’s smallest terrestrial broadcaster. Endemol, ITV and BSkyB are also kicking the tyres. Would-be buyers have until June 21 to submit bids. Warner Bros declined to comment.

The attraction from Warner Bros’ point of view is that Five would provide a platform for its movies and TV programmes. And, unlike ITV, there wouldn’t be any regulatory problems with Time Warner buying Five. RTL, the European media group which owns Five, already has an output deal with Warner Bros in Germany.

Analysts predict Five could be worth anything between £200-250 million ($300-375 million). This is despite it losing £37 million last year, causing owner RTL to write down its $712 million investment to $137 million.

Dutch Big Brother producer Endemol has instructed media lawyers Wiggin to prepare its Five bid. Like Time Warner, Endemol is looking for a content platform – especially since Channel 4 has cancelled reality show Big Brother and its programmes are not doing so well in the US.

“Anything you can do to get product in front of more eyeballs makes sense,” one senior industry figure tells me.

The sale apparently includes RTL’s UK production/distribution arms Talkback (The X Factor) and Fremantle, which Endemol could then bundle together with its Tiger Aspect (Mr Bean) and docu-maker Darlow Smithson production businesses. Endemol’s famously tough CEO Ynon Kreiz – he used to be an Israeli army soldier – oversaw … Read More »

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Lionsgate Focuses On 68% Of Company Carl Icahn Doesn’t Control, Urges Shareholders Not To Panic

By | Thursday June 17, 2010 @ 7:44am PDT
Mike Fleming

lionsgate-logoIn response to yesterday’s news by Carl Icahn that his $7 per share tender offer resulted in 13.2% of outstanding shares that bring the Icahn Group’s stake to 32%, Lionsgate has focused on the 68% of stock Icahn doesn’t control. There was a high level of anxiety in the industry yesterday over the company’s future and its ability to generate product as a proxy battle looms.  Here is Lionsgate’s just-released statement:

Once again, Lionsgate’s shareholders have spoken in support of the Board and management’s strategy to create value. Holders of over 68% of Lionsgate shares have rejected the Icahn Group’s offer, with only 13.2% of the outstanding shares being tendered into the offer at its expiry.

Four months have passed since the Icahn Group announced its intention to make a tender offer, and after repeated extensions, numerous changes to its tender offer and a barrage of unwarranted attacks on the Company, including personal attacks on the Board and management, the Icahn Group remains a minority shareholder. We at Lionsgate want to take this opportunity to thank our shareholders for their continued support.

The vast majority of our shareholders have yet again demonstrated that they are serious about protecting the value of their investment in Lionsgate.

With respect to the Company’s credit facilities, Lionsgate is in advanced discussions with its lenders regarding finalization of a waiver or amendment that will prevent the potential event of default that could otherwise result from the Icahn

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Harry Potter’s Orlando Theme Park Opens

By | Thursday June 17, 2010 @ 3:20am PDT

harry potter theme park2

I still say ugh to such crass commercialism. But the studio tells me that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort kicked off its grand opening celebration last night with help from Harry Potter film franchise stars Daniel Radcliffe, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, Bonnie Wright, Oliver Phelps, Matthew Lewis, Warwick Davis, Rupert Grint and James Phelps. Hundreds of people gathered in front of Hogwarts Castle for a spectacular display of fireworks choreographed to a special performance of music from the Harry Potter films conducted live by composer John Williams. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will officially grand open to the public this Friday.

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Breakout Hit ‘Karate Kid’ Headed To FX

By | Wednesday June 16, 2010 @ 4:34pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

karate kid2EXCLUSIVE: FX has snapped up the TV rights to this summer’s first surprise boxoffice hit The Karate Kid. I hear the cable network quietly made the deal with Sony a couple of weeks before the film’s opening, a smart move given the fact that at the time the kid-friendly reboot was tracking only OK and projected to make half of the $55.7 million it grossed in its opening weekend. But the timing of the deal wouldn’t impact the price FX will be paying for the film as I hear it is the standard for a well-performing movie 12% of the final domestic boxoffice, capped at $24 million if the movie crosses the $200 million mark (Karate Kid is at $67.7 million through Tuesday.)

Additionally, FX also has picked up a package of three 20th Century Fox movies: A-Team, which also opened last weekend with a below-expectations $25.7 million, as well as earlier releases Date Night and Tooth FairyKarate Kid and A-Team are eyed for a late 2012 premiere on FX, while Date Night and Tooth Fairy would be rolled out a little earlier that year.

A-Team and Date Night are expected to play well on TV: A-Team was a popular TV show before it was made into a movie, and Date Night is toplined by TV stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey. The price for the 3 movies in the package is said to be in the 10%-12% of their boxoffice range. Date Read More »

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Changing Release Dates: Sony Pics Sked

By | Wednesday June 16, 2010 @ 4:06pm PDT

Sony Pictures LOGO6/25/10 GROWN UPS, COLUMBIA, 3000+
7/23/10 SALT, COLUMBIA, 3000+
8/13/10 EAT PRAY LOVE, COLUMBIA, 2500 +
8/27/10 TAKERS, SCREEN GEMS, 2000+
9/17/10 EASY A, SCREEN GEMS, 2000+
11/24/10 BURLESQUE, SCREEN GEMS, 2000+
2/11/11 JUST GO WITH IT, COLUMBIA, 2500+
4/22/11 BORN TO BE A STAR, COLUMBIA, 1200+
5/13/11 PRIEST 3D, SCREEN GEMS, 2500+
8/12/11 30 MINUTES OR LESS, COLUMBIA, 2500+
9/16/11 STRAW DOGS, SCREEN GEMS, 2000+
9/23/11 UNDERWORLD 4, SCREEN GEMS, 3000+
12/9/11 HUGO CABRET 3D, COLUMBIA, 2500+
1st QTR/12 21 JUMP STREET, COLUMBIA, 2500+
5/25/12 MIB 3 3D, COLUMBIA, 3000+
7/3/12 (TUE) SPIDER-MAN 3D, COLUMBIA, 3000+

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Icahn Says He’ll Own 31+% Of Lionsgate

By | Wednesday June 16, 2010 @ 1:21pm PDT

icahn lgHis $7-a-share tender offer doesn’t expire until 8 PM ET tonight. But he’ll be Lionsgate’s largest shareholder after stating publicly today he has received 12.5% of the studio’s shares from stockholders presumably including Mark Cuban. That 31% is a big jump from the 19% stake he held in the film company before he put his offer on the table. It’s also a blow to current Lionsgate management which has kept advising shareholders not to deal with Icahn. He offered $7 a share for the remainder. MORE

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‘Green Hornet’ Debuts On IMAX 3D Jan. 14

By | Wednesday June 16, 2010 @ 11:05am PDT

LOS ANGELES, CA, June 16, 2010 – IMAX Corporation and Sony Pictures Releasing announced today that The Green Hornet, the adaptation of the radio and television masked superhero character, will be released to IMAX® theatres, simultaneously with the film’s wide domestic 2D and 3D release on January 14, 2011. The film will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience® and presented in IMAX® 3D.

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Bravo’s Cori Abraham Named Oxygen SVP Development

By | Wednesday June 16, 2010 @ 11:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Another Bravo development executive, Cori Abraham, is moving to sibling Oxygen. Abraham has been named SVP development for the female-centered channel. She follows Amy Introcaso-Davis, who moved from Bravo to Oxygen in early 2008, shortly after NBC Universal’s acquisition of Oxygen. Abraham, who will oversee network’s development on both coasts based in Los Angeles, will report to Introcaso-Davis, who serves as SVP original programming and development. For the past six years, Abraham worked as VP development for Bravo where she executive produced Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, and developed the just launched Bethenny Getting Married?, and the upcoming The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Thintervention with Jackie Warner. Introcaso-Davis and Abraham worked together at Bravo for 4 years until Introcaso-Davis left to go to Oxygen.

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Paramount Ups ‘Last Airbender’ By 1 Day

By | Wednesday June 16, 2010 @ 10:30am PDT

last_airbender_movieParamount and Nickelodeon Pictures’ new date of release is now Thursday  July 1st for the 3D and 2D versions of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender. Insiders tell me, “Early tracking is very good. Especially with males. So the studio is moving up to get a head start on the holiday weekend.” Let’s also not forget that the Twilight Saga’s Eclipse will do huge business with women especially on its Wednesday opener. “And while the threequel will definitely win the weekend, the two movies can coexist,” one of my sources said.

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Casts Firm Up For Following Pics: ‘LOL,’ ‘Abduction,’ ‘Tom’s Dad’ And ‘Ghost Rider’

By | Wednesday June 16, 2010 @ 3:30am PDT
Mike Fleming

get-attachment.aspxLot of pieces were falling into place on movies yesterday. Here are some of the highlights: Miley Cyrus got a leading man for her Mandate film LOL in Douglas Booth. The British actor who makes his American feature debut after starring in the Julian Fellowes-directed From Time To Time, and playing Boy George in the BBC Two biopic Worried About The Boy. LOL is the Lisa Azuelos-directed remake of the 2009 French film Laughing Out Loud, which starred Sophie Marceau and Christa Theret… Lionsgate has lined up a cast around Taylor Lautner for Abduction, which starts shooting July 12 in Pittsburgh. Lautner plays a youth who discovers the parents that raised him aren’t his real folks, a revelation that leaves him running for his life. Sigourney Weaver will play his therapist, Maria Bello plays his mother, Jason Isaacs plays his father, Denzel Whitaker plays his best friend, and Michael Nyqvist plays the villain. They join Lily Collins, who plays his girlfriend, and Alfred Molilna, a CIA agent vested in bringing the kid in alive…Lasse Hallstrom and Patrick Dempsey are teaming up on Tom’s Dad, a coming of age story in which Dempsey plays a vaudevillian nightclub performer at a crossroads because the changing styles of comedy are making him obsolete. Point Black and Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil are producing…Crank team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor are in early talks to direct the new installment of Marvel’s Ghost Rider that is … Read More »

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End Of An Era: NBCU Top TV Marketing Executive John Miller To Step Down

By | Tuesday June 15, 2010 @ 7:35pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

NUP_131847_0125EXCLUSIVE: I hear John Miller, chief marketing officer for the NBC Universal Television Group, will step down at the end of the year.  Miller, a 28-year NBC marketing veteran, has already started telling people within the company about his plans to make  a change. He is in talks about possibly staying on at NBC Universal in a different capacity.

Miller has been CMO of the NBC Uni TV Group since May 2004, overseeing marketing and cross-promotion for all 17 divisions, including Universal Media Studios, NBC Uni TV Distribution, NBC Entertainment, NBC News, NBC Sports, Telemundo, Bravo, USA Network, Syfy, Oxygen, MSNBC, CNBC and The Weather Channel. He also chairs a marketing council for the parent company, NBC Universal, overseeing all cross-company promotion. Miller previously served as president of the NBC Agency since 1999. Before that, he was the longtime head of advertising and promotion for NBC and co-president of the NBC Agency alongside longtime partner and co-president, Vince Manze. Miller joined NBC in 1982.

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Sony Pics High-Kicking ‘Karate Kid’ Sequel

By | Tuesday June 15, 2010 @ 6:35pm PDT
Mike Fleming

karate kid2After The Karate Kid‘s opening weekend gross of $56 million blew past its $40 million budget, a sequel to the Jaden Smith-Jackie Chan-starrer seemed inevitable. Sure enough, agency sources tell me that Sony’s Columbia Pictures execs are meeting with writers to pitch their ideas on where to take the second installment. This will mean shortly that Will Smith won’t be the only man in the Smith household making sequels.

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Doug Liman May ‘Kill’: ’3 Musketeers’ DOA?

By | Tuesday June 15, 2010 @ 5:56pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Fair Game director Doug Liman is circling All You Need Is Kill, the Dante Harper-scripted adaptation of the Hiroshi Sakurazaka drama which Warner Bros acquired in a 7-figure spec deal this spring. The rumors of this pending deal come as suspicion builds that Warner Bros might well be cooling on its The Three Musketeers project, which will get beaten to the start line by rival The Three Musketeers project that Paul W. S. Anderson will direct this summer in 3D that Constantin Film will finance (and produce with Impact Pictures), with Summit Entertainment distributing in the U.S. Meetings are happening this week between Liman and Warner Bros to lock down the other job.

In All You Need is Kill, a soldier pressed into battle against a superior alien species, gets killed in action, and relives his last day alive over and over. Eventually, he sees things change, he becomes a better warrior and discovers hints that might be the key to altering the outcome. Numerous directors have met on the project recently, including Sam Raimi before he landed on Disney’s The Great and Powerful Oz.

Warner Bros won’t necessarily kill its Musketeers project, but there is no sense in rushing to finish 2nd in a race when the project can be made later on down the line in an unhurried stroll.

Warners Makes 7-Figure Spec Deal For Japanese Novel

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Warner Bros Promotes TV PR Executives Scott Rowe And Tammy Golihew

By | Tuesday June 15, 2010 @ 5:04pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Veteran studio publicist Scott Rowe has been named SVP of worldwide communications for the Warner Bros Television Group, and Tammy Golihew has been upped to SVP publicity of Warner Bros Television. The promotions come several months after the departure of Sharan Magnuson, SVP of worldwide publicity for WBTVG, who left because of health issues. Scott Rowe, SVP WW Comm, WBTVGTammy Golihew, SVP, Publicity, WBTVRowe will now oversee communications for WBTVG’s international and domestic cable and syndication distribution, executives, marketing and some production operations. He reports to Lisa Gregorian, EVP and chief marketing officer for WBTVG. Golihew will continue to oversee all consumer publicity and business communications for Warner Bros. TV, Warner Horizon, Warner Bros. Animation and digital venture Studio 2.0. She will report to WBTV president Peter Roth and Rowe. A 16-year Studio veteran, Rowe most recently served at SVP corporate communications, Warner Bros. Entertainment. Golihew joined Warner Bros. in 2006 as VP publicity in Gregorian’s Worldwide Television Marketing unit.

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GAME CHANGER? Paramount & Redbox Enter Pact To Release Day And Date In The Sell-Through Market After 10-Month Test

By | Tuesday June 15, 2010 @ 1:25pm PDT

paramountlogoHOLLYWOOD, CA and OAKBROOK TERRACE, IL (June 15, 2010) -Paramount Home Entertainment Inc. (PHE) and Redbox Automated Retail, LLC (redbox), today announced that Paramount exercised its option to extend its revenue sharing license agreement, providing redbox access to PHE DVD and Blu-ray titles to rent at its approximately 22,000 kiosk locations on the same day they are released in the sell-through market. PHE exercised its option following results from a 10-month analysis of DVD sell-through and rental performance.

redbox“After analyzing the data from our test period we have concluded that redbox day-and-date rental activity has had minimal impact on our DVD sales,” said Dennis Maguire, Worldwide President of Paramount Home Entertainment. “By granting redbox day-and-date availability we are allowing the consumer a choice of how to consume our movies while maximizing the profitability of our releases in the home entertainment window. We are looking forward to continuing a productive and mutually beneficial relationship with redbox.”

“We are delighted to continue our relationship with Paramount to provide consumers with convenient, timely and affordable access to their favorite movies,” said Mitch Lowe, president, redbox. “We look forward to supporting Paramount movie releases through joint marketing programs. This arrangement is a win, win and win – for consumers, Paramount and redbox. ”

Redbox and PHE first signed a trial license agreement in August 2009, with redbox agreeing to provide PHE rental data to evaluate the potential benefits

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Tory Metzger Exiting Media Rights Capital

By | Tuesday June 15, 2010 @ 12:34pm PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: In a surprise move, Tory Metzger will leave her post as president of film production for Media Rights Capital when her contract expires at the end of the month. MRC co-CEOs Modi Wiczyk and Asif Satchu are starting an immediate search to replace her with one or two seasoned studio-level production executives to oversee a production slate that is going increase dramatically. That slate includes Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland followup 30 Minutes or Less, the Seth MacFarlane-directed comedy Ted, and the next scifi project from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp. Right behind that is a Baz Luhrmann-directed musical, as well as the David Fincher-produced drama House of Cards.

Metzger was a hot shot CAA agent who repped Ang Lee and Tom Cruise when she jumped to MRC in 2008. She has strong talent relations and gave MRC some credibility at a time when they needed it. But this was her first production job. The change has a lot to do with co-CEOs Wiczyk and Satchu’s recent deal with Universal Pictures to generate 20 pictures over five years that will be fed through the Universal pipeline. beginning in 2011. As a result, MRC’s picture output will grow from three films per year to as many as eight. It also sounds like Metzger missed the talent business and might crave a return, but I’m told she will take some time before making her next move. At MRC, she oversaw production on films like the Ricky Gervais comedy The Invention of Lying, the upcoming … Read More »

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Robert & Susan Downey Hire President And Tap Spirit of Steve McQueen For First Pic

By | Tuesday June 15, 2010 @ 11:11am PDT
Mike Fleming

Vanity Fair PartyEXCLUSIVE: Robert Downey Jr. and wife Susan Downey have named their  Warner Bros-based production company Team Downey, and hired David Gambino to be president of production. For their first producing project, the Downeys have come aboard Yucatan, a heist film originally crafted by Steve McQueen as a star vehicle for himself. Team Downey will produce with Dan Lin, with whom they worked on Sherlock Holmes.

While Warner Bros tried for several years to find a movie in the nearly 1,700 pages of notes and storyboards compiled by McQueen and discovered in a trunk long after his death, Team Downey and Lin will go back to that source material and start from scratch. The studio made a new rights deal with McQueen’s son, Chad, who’ll be an executive producer with Lance Sloane. Downey is intrigued with the material and will get first crack at starring in it.get-attachment.aspx

Gambino will move over from Silver Pictures and Dark Castle, where he produced Whiteout and the upcoming John Cusack-starrer The Factory. While numerous production execs interviewed for the job, Gambino had the advantage of having worked at Silver Pictures since 2001, including a stint as Susan Downey’s assistant while she was Silver Pictures president.

Deadline revealed in February that the Downeys were making a deal at Warner Bros, where he wrapped the Todd Phillips comedy Due Date. Downey will be engaged in films for the … Read More »

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June Gloom Consumes Hollywood: The Week That Studios Sought Out Agents

By | Tuesday June 15, 2010 @ 9:43am PDT

Mount_OlympusIntensively over the next few days, extending even for the next few weeks, a gaggle of studio moguls and/or their executives have scheduled a series of meetings with top agencies in Hollywood. Yes, the movie gods are coming down off Mount Olympus in order to soak up the wisdom of the mere mortals who rep the talent. Top agencies like CAA and WME and UTA and ICM are hosting intimate confabs with 20th Century Fox (Tom Rothman and/or Emma Watts) and Warner Bros (Jeff Robinov and/or Greg Silverman) and Universal (Adam Fogelson and/or Donna Langley) and Paramount (Rob Moore and/or Adam Goodman). That’s how seriously this Summer of Discontent has unsettled the studios who are beginning to admit being relatively clueless what to greenlight next now that so many movies aren’t clicking with moviegoers. “I have three heads of studios coming into my office. They’re completely at a loss about what to do,” one top tenpercenter put it bluntly. So what are the agents going to tell the studios? Here are our writers, here are their pitches and treatments and scripts, here is the originality you should be making instead of numbing predictability. Like, duh. Could this be an opportunity for creativity? That’s what a major producer told my colleague Mike Fleming yesterday: “this sluggish summer might be a blessing in disguise for talent and producers who want to take risks but have been hamstrung for the past two years by studios that … Read More »

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Sam Raimi Hired To Direct ‘Oz’ (& Downey?)

By | Tuesday June 15, 2010 @ 4:10am PDT

raimi wizard downey

UPDATE: Let me confirm that Sam Raimi is set to direct Disney’s extravagant ‘Wizard of Oz’ 3D prequel. I understand that talks to hire Raimi for Oz: The Great And Powerful turned into a deal last night finalized by CAA. It’s a coup for new studio bosses Rich Ross and Sean Bailey, who are rolling the dice big-time by hoping that this pic will be a global hit like the billion-dollar-grossing Alice In Wonderland. “Robert Downey Jr. isn’t set yet. They are going to develop for him, if things go right. The script will be rewritten,” one of my sources says. ”The movie will happen, though.” Downey would play the Wizard Of Oz before he became the Wizard Of Oz circa the 1939 iconic film: he’s in fact a circus wrangler transported by tornado to the mysterious world of Oz where he gets mistaken for a know-it-all. This will be Raimi’s first firm project since he exited Spider-Man 4, which prompted Sony Pictures to reboot the entire franchise earlier this year. Now the only question is whether Sam Raimi can do what Tim Burton just did.

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