UPDATE, 6:08 PM: Philip K. Dick’s daughter Laura Leslie issued a statement today about the settlement between her father’s estate and Media Rights Capital. From the sound of it The Adjustment Bureau will not be …
One day after the Philip K. Dick Testamentary Trust filed their latest Adjustment Bureau suit in state court, defendants Media Rights Capital responded. The company today filed an action in federal court to determine whether “Adjustment Team”, the Dick short story on which the 2011 film was based, is in the public domain or not. (Read the filing here.) This has been a source of contention between the parties since the film was released March 4, 2011. A court ruling could settle any suits over payments and profit participation allegedly due the trust from the film by resolving whether the trust actually had a binding ability to option rights to director George Nolfi back in 2001. “When the Philip K. Dick Trust filed its initial lawsuit in federal court, we looked forward to the court ruling on whether the underlying story to the Adjustment Bureau is in the public domain,” MRC said in a statement released today. “We were disappointed when the trust dropped its lawsuit before the court could reach a decision. The issue remains an important one, so today MRC filed an action in federal court asking the court to rule on the public domain issue. We look forward to a prompt resolution of this issue.”
BREAKING: Media Rights Capital partners Modi Wiczyk and Asif Satchu have closed a five-year, $350 million revolving credit facility with funding provided by a group of banks led by JPMorgan Chase, Comerica, Bank of America, SunTrust and Union Bank. The syndicate includes East West Bank, Wells Fargo, Bank Leumi and City National Bank. The funds will be used to finance MRC’s feature and television productions. MRC’s last credit facility was also $350 million over three years, secured in 2008 in the midst of the economic downturn, from a consortium of banks that included JPMorgan Chase and Comerica.
MRC, which has enjoyed strong relationships with talents and the agencies, changed its feature structure from constructing pictures it licensed for distribution to studio, (it famously made a $42.5 million deal for Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat follow-up Bruno with Universal for U.S. and English-speaking territories) to actually financing a lot of them through a five-year distribution deal with Universal Pictures. That studio has become a prime outlet for MRC fare, though it was District 9 distributor Sony Pictures that licensed the Neill Blomkamp-directed futuristic film Elysium, which stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley. It was the second MRC film for Damon, who starred with Emily Blunt in the Universal-distributed The Adjustment Bureau, which grossed $128 million worldwide. MRC is also in production on Ted, the feature directing debut of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane that stars Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis and will also be released by Universal. MRC has two more projects with Blomkamp and two with Fincher, among others. MRC makes the case-by-case decision whether the productions are licensed to studios or fall under its new distribution deal at Universal.
MRC, after a failed foray that involved programming the Sunday night lineup for the CW, is active on the small-screen front. MRC has The Ricky Gervais Show on HBO and is developing series that include the CBS sitcom How to Be a Gentleman with Entourage’s Kevin Dillon, and a serialized political drama for Netflix that is being produced by David Fincher and stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. In all cases, MRC makes deals that grant talent at the ground floor an ownership stake in the film or TV project.
In one of its biggest movie-acquisition deals in the last few years, USA Network has bought a package of more than 30 titles from Universal Pictures. Nine of them include network premiere rights, including Judd Apatow’s sleeper comedy hit Bridesmaids; the Fast & the Furious sequel Fast Five; the latest installment in the Meet the Parents franchise, Little Fockers; as well as the Matt Damon starrer The Adjustment Bureau. All four will debut on USA. There was some corporate synergy at work in making the deal, with virtually all other NBCUniversal TV networks contributing financially, including NBC, Syfy, E!, Bravo, Oxygen, Style, G4, Chiller, Sleuth and UniHD. In exchange, those nets get rights to some of the titles in the package. For instance, NBC has committed to airing Bridesmaids and The Little Fockers after their premiere on USA and has an option to pick up more. Syfy will debut two of the nine movies, to which USA is getting network premiere rights: Repo Man and Wes Craven’s My Soul to Take.
Johnny Depp’s #1 ‘Rango’ Reaches $38M, Matt Damon’s ‘Adjustment Bureau’ Grabs #2, ‘Beastly’ Debuts #3, ‘Take Me Home’ #11
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 2ND UPDATE: Here is Friday and Saturday and weekend and cume North American box office grosses and the weekend forecasts. This was supposed to be Hollywood’s comeback weekend after a product-driven underwhelming start to the New Year. But Friday through Sunday is expected to reach only $135 million, which pales in comparison (-31%) to last year’s first weekend in March when just Alice In Wonderland 3D alone did $116M and the overall movie total was $196M. The result is that the movie execs are giving up on accurately predicting box office not just because of how depressed the overall marketplace has been but also because they no longer can rely on tracking to be accurate. They don’t like the year-to-date stats, either: $1.6B vs $2.1B, with revenue down 20% and attendance down 21%.
1. Rango (Paramount) NEW [3,917 Theaters]
Friday $9.7M, Saturday $16.8M, Weekend $38M, International $16.5M, Global $54.5
Remember back to the Super Bowl and that Rango ad? Well, according to a USA Today poll, it ranked higher that all the other movie ads including Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 and Transformers 3 screened during the big game. Now, after weeks of tracking strongly despite its dark and weird vibe, the reteaming of Pirates Of The Caribbean duo Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp lived up to its promise — though not the $50M opening weekend which Paramount had initially hoped. ”No question people responded to the concept of Johnny Depp in an animated film,” a Paramount exec told me. “Johnny has a track record in family movies and therefore attracts a broad family audience.” That’s a feat considering it’s a non-summer 2D toon and the kids weren’t even out of school Friday. When they were, the pic had a big Saturday matinee bump of +73% even though the film wasn’t aimed at young children but rather ages 6 to 12 and parents (who nevertheless gave Rango only a “C+” CinemaScore despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews). True, the pic might have added 15%-20% to its grosses had it been 3D. But that lizard and company played like a four-quadrant hit pic. It also helped that Paramount paired the trailer with True Grit and Little Fockers and could rely on other Viacom companies like Nickelodeon and Comedy Central and MTV for promotion.
Rival studios claim the movie cost $180M though Paramount pegs the budget at $130M. And the uber-marketing cost a pretty penny. What happened was that when Universal didn’t go ahead with his Bioshock pic, Verbinski went from just producing and prepping Rango to also directing Josh Logan’s script. One of the reasons Rango snagged Depp and impressed the critics was Verbinski’s idea to have the actors actually perform their roles, instead of the traditional approach of standing in a booth and just voicing, to create chemistry between the cast and deliver better performances. Verbinski decided to use ILM, which had done the CGI for Pirates Of The Caribbean but wasn’t in the toon biz, for the complete character animation film. Now Paramount expects ILM to keep making toons for it without any startup costs and give DreamWorks Animation a run for Paramount’s toon distribution. (“Have you checked the DreamWorks Animation stock lately? It’s becoming the biggest short in the media business,” a rival studio emailed me…)
Paramount just told me that, overseas in the 33 countries it was opening in day and date (including UK, Mexico, Germany, and Spain), Rango was #1. It opened about half the markets internationally this weekend and generated $16.5 million, led by the UK’s $3 million and Mexico’s $2.3 million.
2. The Adjustment Bureau (MRC/Universal) NEW [2,840 Theaters]
Friday $6.7M, Saturday $9.1M, Weekend $20.9M, International $10.5M, Global $31.4M
The Adjustment Bureau overperformed this weekend for definitely more than the mid-to-high teens Universal was predicting. The studio acquired the “B” CinemaScore pic (with ages up to 34 giving it either an “A-” or “B+” — from MRC for $62 million. Hey, Matt Damon running, and running, and running a la Bourne is a tried and true and derivative formula so the PG-13 actioner should have earned more. Exit polls showed the audience was 73% ages 30 years and older/27 % under 30 years of age and 47% male/53% female. Tracking indicated the film appealed to an older demographic because it’s a romance, a thriller, and a sci-fi’er all in one with known Damon and Emily Blunt starring. That made it hard to comp because it doesn’t fit neatly into any one genre. And also hard to sell since it required some unusual thinking in order to sell well. But it tracked with men and women over age 25, and Universal’s marketing department did a more than decent job. Besides North America, the pic earned $10.5M overseas when it released day and date in 21 territories: Australia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Serbia Montenegro, Singapore, Thailand, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Philippines, Poland, Spain, Turkey, and the UK. Universal stressed that The Adjustment Bureau is Damon’s biggest opening weekend overseas since 2007′s The Bourne Ultimatum.
3. Beastly (CBS Films/Sony) NEW [1,952 Theaters]
Friday $3.5M, Saturday $3.9M, Weekend $10.1M
CBS Films’ Beastly starring Alex Pettyfer in yet another career debut — this time an updated Beauty And The Beast storyline that received a “B” CinemaScore (the highest of all this weekend’s films) and an “A-” CinemaScore from teenage girls — overperformed beyond the $8M predicted this weekend. That’s better than the low expectations considering the narrow release. This pic was all about attracting 12- to 14-year-old girls, but that one quad is always hard to predict. (Comps like Bandslam, Post Grad and I Love You Beth Cooper all tanked.) CBS Films wanted $5M this weekend against the $17M cost. Film was pre-sold internationally.
DEVIL will be released on Friday, September 17, 2010
SKYLINE will be released on Friday, November 12, 2010
KIDS IN AMERICA will be released on Friday, December 3, 2010
THE DARK FIELDS will be released on Friday, January 21, 2011
SANCTUM will be released on Friday, February 4, 2011
THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU will be …