Not So Fast: China Says It Isn’t Increasing Movie Quota
Contrary to reports earlier this week, China is not planning to increase its quota on films imported from Hollywood. Official state news agency Xinhua said Tuesday that the quota will remain unchanged at 34, citing an official with the country’s film governing body, SAPPRFT. In February 2012, China and the U.S. signed a pact to increase the number of films approved for theatrical release in China from 20 to 34. The parties also agreed on an increased revenue share of 25%. In the first year the change was implemented, local Chinese films lost market share but since have rebounded strongly with about 58.7% of box office takings in 2013. In a statement on Monday, MPA Asia chief Mike Ellis said the org was unaware of any official plans on changing the quota system but noted that the belief that an open market “best serves filmmakers and audiences alike. … Removing the quota for international films is something we’ve been advocating for some time and would provide the widest possible movie experience for audiences while benefiting the Chinese screen community and our member studios.”
Global Showbiz Briefs: China Says Not Raising Film Quota; César Awards To Honor Scarlett Johansson; Taylor Lautner To BBC3
Not So Fast: China Says It Isn’t Increasing Movie Quota
‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt 2′ Sets Global Cast Tour: Rob Pattinson And Kristen Stewart Reunite For Joint Appearances
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that the final film in the Twilight Saga series Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is sending its cast on another major international promotional tour before the movie opens on November 16th. My sources say the countries are: Australia, Japan, Brazil, South Africa, Scotland, Ireland, England, Spain, Germany, Denmark, and Norway. The wildly successful vampire series’ studio Summit Entertainment has an added incentive setting such a big-ticket global tour: the reunion of their star-crossed lovers Rob Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. After their separation was sensationalized around the world, the pair are back together and I hear they’re about to make some of the promotional appearances together. The fans will go nuts. I’m told the global tour mirrors the substance of the finale starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner because Bella, Edward, and Jacob must assemble vampire covens from across the globe to counter the new threat of the ruling Volturi. Film is based on the last half of the 4th novel by author Stephenie Meyer and was scripted by Melissa Rosenberg and directed by Bill Condon with Wyck Godfrey, Karen Rosenfelt and Stephenie Meyer producing.
Here’s the promotional tour schedule for Stewart, Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, and the rest of the cast which also will be doing a myriad of media appearances both on national U.S. talk shows and programs and similar appearances around the globe. Dates and cast appearances subject to change. Additional U.S. cities will be announced:
October 6 – Spain: Chaske Spencer to appear at Sitges Film Festival for fan event and press.
October 14 - United States: U.S. press tour in select regional markets to be announced.
October 21 – United States: U.S. press tour in select regional markets to be announced.
October 21 – October 28 - Australia, Japan, Brazil, South Africa, Scotland, Ireland: Robert Pattinson visits Australia, Kristen Stewart visits Japan, Taylor Lautner visits Brazil, Ashley Grene visits South Africa, Kellan Lutz and Nikki Reed visit Scotland and Ireland.
October 28 – November 3 – Los Angeles, California: Worldwide press junket in Los Angeles with Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone, Michael Sheen, director Bill Condon, author Stephenie Meyer, and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg.
November 3 – November 4 – Burbank, California: The Twilight Saga Official Convention in Burbank featuring Peter Facinelli, Gil Birmingham, Charlie Bewley, Alex Meraz, Booboo Stewart, Tinsel Korey, Casey LaBow, Julia Jones, and Bronson Pelletier. (Details here.)
November 4 – November 11 – Various Cities, U.S.: The cast will do national press and talk shows.
November 12 – Los Angeles, California: World Premiere of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 at Nokia Theater at LA LIVE featuring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and the cast along with Bill Condon and Stephenie Meyer.
November 14 – November 16 – England, Spain, Germany: Premiere Tour in London, Madrid, and Berlin featuring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Bill Condon, and Wyck Godfrey
November 14 – November 16 – Denmark, Norway: Premiere Tour in Copenhagen and Oslo featuring Nikki Reed and Jackson Rathbone
The final movie poster will be revealed on Tuesday at 9 AM PT after a worldwide countdown at dawn across all of the Facebook pages of the Twilight Saga network. There will be 6 total portions revealed across 6 regional time zones, all on Tuesday morning local time, starting with New Zealand and ending with Los Angeles:
If Summit Entertainment is actually serious about a merger or a sale, the company has the benefit of wheeling and dealing while it is at a high-water mark. Summit announced today that The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1, flew past $500 million in global box office in just 12 days. The film is at $508 million today. It was released November 18 and single-handedly has brightened the overall box office picture. The film has generated $223 million domestic, making it one of only 12 films to reach $220 million in 10 days. Creatively, I thought the movie would have been much better had director Bill Condon finished Stephenie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn book in one movie. Let’s face it, the Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) wedding and subsequent pregnancy were sooooo drawn out, and nothing much happened. But then again, I am not a teenage girl or a Summit executive looking at another half-billion dollar haul once the second installment comes out next November 16.
‘Dolphin Tale’ Leaps ‘Moneyball’ To #1 But New Pics Weak: ’50/50′ #4, ‘Courageous’ #5, ‘Dream House’ #6, ‘What’s Your Number?’ #8
SUNDAY AM, 6TH UPDATE: Still on vacation in a different time zone. That’s why I’m overdue on some autopsy reports I promised and haven’t yet delivered. I’ll release them Sunday. My sincerest apologies. (Unfortunately, I can’t get used to a definition of ‘time off’ that still makes me toil almost 24/7.) That said, the newest numbers have changed the Top 10 order yet again. (It was another confused weekend like the last one!) This crop of four freshmen failed to make much of an impression with moviegoers because holdovers still ruled the North American box office. But overall the weekend is up +10% from last year:
1. Dolphin Tale (Alcon, Warner Bros) Week 2 [3,515 Theaters]
Friday $3.4M, Saturday $6.5M, Weekend $14.2M (-26%), Estimated Cume $37.5M
Terrific hold as Alcon uncorks another feel good favorite. Dolphin Tale was up 88% from Friday night thanks to the saturday matinee bump. Now it’s placing above both films it trailed last week. But the cume is still lagging. And DreamWorks Animation/Paramount just pushed up the release of Puss ‘N’ Boots to October 28th — which will deprive Dolphin Tale of an extra week of alone time with families.
2. Moneyball (Sony) Week 2 [2,993 Theaters]
Friday $3.8M, Saturday $5.5M, Weekend $12.5M (-36%), Estimated Cume $38.4M
Excellent hold especially for a 2-quadrant pic. But Moneyball‘s cume needs more beer and peanuts to fatten.
3. Lion King 3D (Disney) Week 3 [2,340 Theaters]
Friday $3.3M, Saturday $4.4M, Weekend $11M, Estimated Cume $79.6M
Very impressive, still, for this juiced up toon as all releases pass Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo to become the 4th highest-grossing animated film of all time worldwide. Snarked a rival studio exec, “I could have told them about that 2-weeks-only crap…” By the way, remind me to tell you about the months of meetings which Disney’s Frankeneisner led over the story problems posed by ‘lion cub incest’ for the sequel was released. Only on Dopey Drive…
4. 50/50 (Summit/Mandate) NEW [2,458 Theaters]
Friday $2.9M, Saturday $3.6M, Weekend $8.8M
The first thing to ponder about this male Terms Of Endearment is that James McAvoy was supposed to play the guy with cancer. Instead, Joseph Gordon-Levitt came in at the last minute. Now it’s hard to imagine this truthful dramedy starring anyone else. Levitt is really becoming one of the most interesting young actors around even if he’s not box office — yet. Summit Entertainment and Mandate Pictures gave 50/50 a surprisingly wide release this weekend: in the old days this pic would have been platformed so audiences could “find” it. But these days, with the skyrocketing costs of marketing, there’s simply no time or purpose to doing that anymore. (“It was always envisioned as a wide release picture as opposed to platform because of its playability,” an insider tells me.) Problem is, Summit thought the film would open around the low double-digits. Nope, despite an ‘A-’ CinemaScore from audiences. Summit says audience ratings & definite recommends were about 20 points above the norm, one of the
highest ever in the studio’s exit polling. More females (54%) came than males (46%). In terms of age demos: 83% were between the target audience of 18-49, 35% under 25, 57% under 30, 43% over 30. Studio sources claim the film’s negative cost is only $8 million. The question now is whether strong word of mouth will allow this pic to play for several weeks and end up with a decent cume.
As you must know by now, the screenwriter Will Reiser based the story in part on his own life, and filmmaker Jonathan Levine promoted not only the film and but also cancer awareness. Pre-release, 50/50 was tracking well with both male and females and with older and younger audiences showing interest. But the really downer disease just kept audiences away despite partnerships with national support groups like Stand Up To Cancer and Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong as well as regional orgs. Marketing-wise, the film at first was positioned as a broad Seth Rogen comedy (not another one!). But then the studio imbued it with the feel of a specialty film. TV buys focused on younger movie-goers first and then expanded to older males and females based on the evolved positioning. Summit began an extensive word-of-mouth screening program in early August and premiered it at the Toronto Film Festival to a standing ovation. Hey, don’t complain about Hollywood’s crappy movies if you won’t support the quality ones. I’m truly disappointed that this pic didn’t do better. It deserves to be seen.
5. Courageous (Sony) NEW [1,161 Theaters]
Friday $3.1M, Saturday $3.2M, Weekend $8.8M
This movie was Fireproof 2 — only substitute fatherhood problems for marriage woes, and law enforcement officers for firefighters. Like most of these faith-based films, Sherwood Pictures’ Courageous was front-loaded because of pre-sales and church groups bussed to theaters. But Sony initially expected a better opening weekend even though it was playing in only half as many locations as the other major studio releases. Still, it made the best per-screen average and rated a rare ‘A+’ CinemaScore across the board with men and women of all ages. Opening weekend exits show the audience was fairly balanced in gender (53% was female) and the reach had a slightly older skew (77% were aged 25+). These pics cost next-to-nuthin’ — Courageous made back its $2 million production budget in its first day of release. Sherwood Pictures is based in Albany, Georgia, where moviemaking ministry Sherwood Baptist Church churns out these inspirational films aimed at Christians. Sony Pictures’s secular TV media was concentrated in outlets like Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Hallmark Channel, TLC, Lifetime, and TV Land as well as more conservative-leaning outlets ranging from Fox News, CMT to Christian Broadcasting Network and Gospel Music Channel. The marketing budget was “modest and grassroots’. Like Fireproof (2008), Facing The Giants (2006), Flywheel (2003), the co-writers were Stephen Kendrick, who also produced, and Alex Kendrick, who also directed. They, along with producers Michael Catt and Jim McBride together make every movie decision at Sherwood where the four-man team also serve as pastors of the church. Fireproof opened as the No. 4 film in the nation this same time of year, eventually grossing $33 million theatrically. But it also starred former TV teen hearthrob Kirk Cameron, and Courageous was cast with unknowns.
6. Dream House (Morgan Creek/Universal) NEW [2,661 Theaters]
Friday $2.9M, Saturday $3.5M, Weekend $8.2M
Jim Robinson’s Morgan Creek shows yet again that it can’t make or market a movie to save its life. It can’t even handle publicity: MC’s morons apparently can’t find my email address because I’ve received nada from them about this opener. Then again the pic wasn’t screened in advance for critics — always an indicator of a stinker. Don’t blame Universal: it was just distributing Dream House. Morgan Creek paid for and did everything else. Badly. Directed by 6-time Oscar nominee Jim Sheridan and starring Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, and Rachel Weisz, they all must have needed the payday because they’re way too major to do this critically-panned drivel from a script credited to David Loucka. Sheridan lived to regret it because he and the producers fought over final cut. No wonder none of the major stars publicized the pic. (FYI, Craig and Weisz met on location and later married…) Seriously, this derivative haunted house tale gives new meaning to the definition of derivative. Worst were those TV ads that stole scenes from The Shining. I think it’s high time that the distrusted and disliked Robinson switches professions and starts selling used cars instead of used movies.
7. Abduction (Lionsgate) Week 2 [3,118 Theaters]
Friday $1.7M, Saturday $2.5M, Weekend $5.6M (-48%), Estimated Cume $19.1M
You’ll be reading my mea culpa Sunday when I release my long autopsy report on this domestic bomb. (Though it’s foreign rollout is better so far.)
8. What’s Your Number? (Fox) NEW [3,002 Theaters]
Friday $2M, Saturday $2.1M, Weekend $5.6M
Anna Faris is the modern-day Goldie Hawn: it’s impossible not to like her. Unless you put her in a really lousy R-rated New Regency fully-financed movie like this that Fox surrounded with a muddled marketing campaign vascillating between a female-empowerment pic and a run-of-the-mill rom-com. Problem is, daters haven’t talked about their “number” since the mid-1980s when sexually-transmitted diseases were scaring the bejesus out of singles. Audiences gave What’s Your Number? a ‘B’ CinemaScore. Pic cost only $20M. Its cost to Anna’s career may be more. (I’d like to see Faris in that remake of Hawn’s Private Benjamin she was supposed to do for New Line. It earned Goldie a Best Actress Oscar nom.) Directed by Mark Mylod and produced by Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson with screenplay credit given to Gabrielle Allan & Jennifer Crittenden, based on the book 20 Times A Lady by Karyn Bosnak.
9. Contagion (Warner Bros) Week 4 [2,744 Theaters]
Friday $1.4M, Saturday $2.3M, Weekend $5M, Estimated Cume $64.6M
Let’s just say I spent my first day of vacation getting three kinds of flu shots after seeing this movie.
10. Killer Elite (Open Road) Week 2 [2,986 Theaters]
Friday $1.5M (-57%), Saturday $2.1M, Weekend $4.8M, Estimated Cume $17.4M
I’m not letting Open Road off the hook on this dead fish, either. Autopsy report coming Sunday, too.
I’m writing it now. So put on your big-boy pants and stop whining for it.
Comments will be turned on once it’s posted.
Weekend B.O. Brawl! ‘Lion King 3D’ Still #1, ‘Moneyball’ Edges ‘Dolphin Tale’ For #2, Twilighter Taylor Lautner’s ‘Abduction’ #4, De Niro/Statham/Owen’s ‘Killer Elite’ #5
SUNDAY AM, 7TH UPDATE: I’m told this is the first time there are three $20 million pics on a September weekend. No wonder it’s been shifting like quicksand at the North American box office, with the Top 3 order changing and then changing again. Everyone agrees that Lion King 3D is now No. 1, but Moneyball and Dolphin Tale were neck-and-neck for No. 2 going into this morning. At first, Warner Bros had its Alcon Entertainment fish story ahead of Sony Pictures baseball tale — but only by $110,000. Nevertheless Sony and other studios and eventually Alcon have Moneyball ahead by as much as $500K. So I’m calling it for Moneyball. Friday night also had no clarity because of Rentrak hiccups during the day. Can’t we all just get along, especially when I’m on vacation?
1. Even Disney is surprised that its Lion King 3D is king of the jungle again in 2,330 theaters after its huge 1st-place finish last weekend. Rival studios tell me it got a boost Friday from the rain back East for a $6M Friday for an excellent hold. And another giant kiddie matinee bump on Saturday for $9.2M and on Sunday a projected $6.8M. That’s a $22.1M weekend and only a modest -30% decline from a week ago. This re-release can hit a cume of $61.6M by Monday. This is the first reissue to open #1 in 14 years. An interesting story is how Disney’s original release plan called for one weekend on 500 3D screens. Then, the studio saw the tracking for Dolphin Tale and decided to expand to two weekends on 1,500 3D screens, thus hogging most of the high-priced 3D venues. It was a shrewd targeted hit on Warner Bros, and probably cost Dolphin Tale at least $5M-$10M in box office. So here’s my question: Why is it that in all the promotional hype I’ve been sent by the studio, no one at Disney is thanking Jeffrey Katzenberg for micro-managing the original Lion King? C’mon, Mouse House, give credit where credit is due. Even if Jeffrey is a big pain in everyone’s ass.
2. Sony’s much-hyped newcomer Moneyball is now officially the best baseball-themed opening ever. (Not accounting for inflation or higher ticket prices, it beat Benchwarmers‘ $19.6M, The Rookie’s $16M, and A League Of Their Own‘s $13.7M.) It opened No. 1 Friday with $6.7M and then soared +24% to $8.3M Saturday from 2,993 theaters. (As a Sony exec told me, “$6 million would be great. $7 million amazing. $8 million would be a triumph.”) With that healthy adult bump, it scored a $20.7M weekend which is on target with the studio’s expectations. That solid number helps keep Brad Pitt’s star wattage shining and his awards chances climbing because of this well-reviewed male-centric sports movie that scored 94% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. (As Deadline Hollywood’s Awards columnist Pete Hammond opined out of the Toronto Film Festival: “This is a classic movie star role in the tradition of something that Robert Redford or Paul Newman would have done in their prime. He has never been better, and the movie is the best sports film since Bull Durham, a real triumph considering the long and winding road it took to get to the screen.”) Audiences really liked this pic: it received all A’s — male, female, young, old — from CinemaScore. By age, 36% were under 35 and 64% were over 35. But a rival studio exec points out that almost 60% of the audience was over age 50. Sony believes Moneyball could play strongly through the Fall generating a multiple that could very well exceed 4X and 5X its opening.
Marketing targeted adult moviegoers and was designed to appeal to both men and women. Call me sexist, but I thought targeting women was hopeless for a pic based on the true story of Billy Beane who rebuilt the Oakland A’s in 2002 through computer-driven statistical analysis long ignored by the baseball establishment. (This stuff makes my eyes glaze over…) But exit surveys showed the film was almost evenly split with 51% male and 49% female moviegoers. To build awareness among men, Sony had a strong presence in sports programming, especially baseball where the campaign kicked off during the MLB All-Star Game in July. Trailers aired on the MLB Network, while spots also ran in high-profile NFL games including the season opener. In recent weeks, Moneyball‘s presence was in MLB games across FOX, ESPN, and TBS and select NCAA football games. The TV campaign took advantage of primetime premieres and high-impact specials, including the Emmys and MTV’s VMAs. On cable, Moneyball had sneak peeks on Sons of Anarchy, Tosh.0, Conan and ESPN’s SportsCenter. To reach women, Sony bought spots on Dancing With the Stars and Glee while Pitt appeared on Ellen this week and was pretty much omnipresent as both producer and star.
Like most movies these days, Moneyball had a twisted and tortured history to the big screen. Michael Lewis wrote a great book, and producer Rachael Horovitz recognized the bones of a great movie. Initially, baseball freak Steven Soderbergh was involved but passed because of other commitments. Eventually Sony brought in producer Michael De Luca to join Horovitz and, 5 years later in 2009, Soderbergh was back to direct. But in a well-chrincled case of creative differences, the Oscar-winning director was jettisoned from the film just 72 hours before production was to begin when the studio changed its mind about his changes to Steven Zaillian’s adaptation. (Soderbergh’s primary addition included Reds-like testimonials from real-life players which mae it more like a documentary.) Studio chief Amy Pascal felt Soderbergh’s version wasn’t commercial enough and pulled the plug. Conventional wisdom had it that the pic was a goner. But Pitt stayed on board throughout and Pascal stuck with this project instead of taking a writedown. Funny how women are often seen as not knowing anything about sports, yet in this case it took two Hollywood females to push this one through. The project got back on track with executive producer Scott Rudin along with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who did a polish on Zaillian’s script (both get credit now). Pitt himself praises director Bennett Miller (an Oscar nod for Capote first-time out), who replaced Soderbergh and then had the vision to “crack” the film’s outsider/insider themes by making an unconventional film about them.
3. Incredibly close behind is Alcon Entertainment’s Dolphin Tale 3D distributed into 3,507 theaters by Warner Bros. It opened with $5.1M Friday and zoomed to $8.6M Saturday for a $20.2M weekend. Alcon expected the heartstrings-pulling pic to jump 60% on Saturday because of the family film bump. It did a staggering +70% more. Remember, it’s also playing in the most theaters. According to CinemaScores, parents and kids audiences are giving it an A+. The film now becomes the highest opening weekend for a live action film with an animal, passing Disney’s Eight Below. With its inspirational story, Warner Bros expected to own the family marketplace this weekend and give Moneyball a run for No. 1 this weekend. But no one anticipated the continued strength of Lion King 3D. The strategy for Dolphin Tale was to reach primarily parents and kids with this real-life story and fine ensemble cast. The studio devised a very long trailer campaign in order to get maximum exposure beginning in April and playing through the summer on everything from Rio to Cars 2. The TV strategy was robust, covering everything from kids cable in late summer before school started, through key season premieres such as Dancing With The Stars and Biggest Loser, to a wide array of sponsorships with Discovery, Teen Nick, Lifetime, Nation Geographic, Disney XD, MTV, and more. Warner Bros crafted an aggressive word-of-mouth screening program that involved 3 full rounds in the top 60 markets. Military and home schoolers were targeted as well as youth groups and other family-oriented orgs. The director and cast completed a 7-market PA tour that included a junket to accommodate Winter, the real-life star of the film who had her own live Winter-cam. Online, there was a first-time integration with the Spongebob Squarepants Facebook page given the sea theme.
4. Lionsgate’s Abduction in 3,118 theaters ended up with $3.8M Friday but went up +21% Saturday for $4.6m and an $11.2M opening for the weekend. But I’ve just learned it’s #1 this weeknd in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and Colombia as it begins its day ad date foreign rollout. Through Sunday, Hollywood eyes have been focused on its star Taylor Lautner in his first leading man role in an action thriller because he’s been very much in demand — presumably because of his enormous Twi-hard fan base and aggressive promotion of his films – but not because of any solo box office which the 19-year-old has done yet. Yes, Tay-Tay received $5M for this pic which his production company also produced. Then again, I’ve learned that Lautner’s $36M-budget action thriller was outspent 4-to-1 in marketing dollars by both Sony and Warner Bros leading up to this weekend. (Shame on Lionsgate’s Jon Feltheimer for tying everyone’s hands even after powerless Alli Shearmur pleaded.) So the jury is still out on whether this Twilight kid can open an envelope, especially in as rotten a reviewed movie as this one was based on Shawn Christensen’s $1M spec script and directed by John Singleton. (“Silly” and “convoluted” were the words used most often to describe it.) Audiences didn’t think it was quite as bad as critics, giving it a B- CinemaScore. Lionsgate can’t seem to make a decent movie (Conan The Barbarian) or market one anymore (Warrior).
For Twilight fans who can’t wait until the full one is released Tuesday, here’s Summit’s short snippet of the Breaking Dawn — Part 1 trailer, with a newlywed Bella in peril.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association held its annual lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel and presented a record $1,579,500 in financial grants to 46 film schools and nonprofit organizations. Over the past 17 years, the org best known for awarding Golden Globes in January has awarded $13.5 million through their grants program, according to newly elected HFPA president Aida Takla O’Reilly.
All this philanthropic activity comes even as the sometimes controversial group of foreign entertainment journalists remains embroiled in ongoing legal battles with their longtime Globes production company, Dick Clark Productions, over rights to their annual highly rated awards show on NBC (and an Emmy nominee this year) as well as another legal dust-up with former publicist Michael Russell.
Despite the legal woes and bad Wall Street news, the HFPA luncheon was an upbeat affair, drawing numerous entertainment execs like Fox’s Peter Rice, FX’s John Landgraf, Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh and Fox Searchlight’s Nancy Utley, among others. There was also the usual starry turnout to help hand out the checks including Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Walhberg, Gerard Butler, Kevin Bacon, Yoshiki Hayashi, Jessica Chastain, Hugh Dancy, Lea Michele, Taylor Lautner, Elizabeth Moss, Elizabeth Olsen, Jim Sturgess, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Gabriel Macht, who all took turns introducing each other in the fast-paced, breezy presentation.
Over the years, awards-season strategists have also seen the lunch as a great opportunity to get some of their potential awards contenders in front of a captive audience of HFPA voters, and it was no different this year as Butler, DiCaprio, Olsen and Chastain are all actors with upcoming releases expected to figure in year-end awards considerations. Last year at this lunch, for instance, I noticed Annette Bening and Nicole Kidman on the lineup, and both did end up with Globes (and Oscar) nods. The exposure certainly can’t hurt as they say, especially in the overly crowded fall field of contenders. At the very least, the luncheon sort of serves as one of those “unofficial” precursors of the impending season. “I guess it’s all starting all over again,” one awards consultant still suffering battle scars from last year wearily told me.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has quietly dropped out of Clue, one of the seven Hasbro games properties the studio contracted to make into movies in a ground-breaking six-year exclusive deal signed in 2008. Clue becomes the third project out of seven to be dropped by Universal (Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering were also kicked to the curb), but none of those projects are dead. In the case of the murder mystery board game Clue, Hasbro is funding the development and producing the film with Gore Verbinski’s Blind Wink. Verbinski, director of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, Rango and the upcoming Lone Ranger, still plans to direct Clue, and he and Blind Wink’s John Krauss are producing with Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir.
They’ve just hired Flash Gordon scribes Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama to write the Clue script. The writers will draft a take that Verbinski and his fellow producers came up with that retains the murder mystery spirit of the board game, but broadens the setting to a global stage. Beyond scripting Flash Gordon for Sony Pictures, Sharpless and Sazama are redrafting Dracula Year Zero. That project’s still hanging on at Universal, after being halted just short of the start line because of a high budget, when Alex Proyas was directing and Sam Worthington was going to star. ICM reps the writers.
Is all this a clue that Universal no longer wants to roll the dice on board game movies? Insiders say no. Rather, they tell me that Universal and Hasbro gradually narrowed their focus to the four films that most made sense for the studio: Battleship, the Peter Berg-directed summer 2012 action movie that stars Taylor Kitsch and Liam Neeson, with Universal just releasing its first trailer (below); Stretch Armstrong, which has Rob Letterman directing and Twilight Saga’s Taylor Lautner attached to play the rubbery title character; Candy Land, which is being written by Kung Fu Panda 2 co-writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who’ve described the film as Lord of the Rings, with edibles; and Ouija, which has McG attached to direct and Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form producing with Ian Bryce and Hasbro’s Goldner and Schneir.
With Day 113 of the NFL lockout now in the books and both sides still negotiating but reporting little progress, maybe it’s time for a breather, courtesy of Funny Or Die. No word whether the humor site is in preproduction on a feature for the NBA lockout, but seeing as …
Much like the Academy Awards, the MTV Movie Awards tonight opened with a montage featuring host Jason Sudeikis weaved into scenes from recent Oscar contenders The Social Network, Black Swan and 127 Hours. The skit’s main story was a spoof of blockbuster comedy Hangover starring Sudeikis, Twilight star Taylor Lautner, …
Lionsgate’s thriller Abduction, starring Twilight Saga mainstay Taylor Lautner in his first solo lead role and Snow White-to-be Lily Collins, hits theaters Sept. 23. John Singleton directs.
EXCLUSIVE: My scoop today comes with a big TOLDJA! Back on January 11th, I reported that three top producers including Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes were circling Taylor Lautner to star in their movies for 2012 and beyond. Now Bay’s aggressive …
Taylor Lautner Making 8-Figures Per Movie; Will Produce & Star In 2 Studio Tentpoles During 2011; Now Casting His Love Interest
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that the Taylor Lautner juggernaut continues in Hollywood as this 18-year-old Twilight Saga action star and teen heartthrob just keeps booking movie after movie. Last year’s highest paid teenage actor (for a reported $7.5 million pay day in Universal’s Stretch Armstrong …