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Oscar-Buzzed ‘12 Years A Slave’ In Top Ten, ‘Jackass: Bad Grandpa’ Opens #1 For $32M, All-Star ‘The Counselor’ Bombs With $8M

SUNDAY AM, 4TH UPDATE: The most interesting news of the weekend, at least to me, is that New Regency’s financed and produced Best Picture Oscar frontrunner 12 Years A Slave marketed and distributed by Fox Searchlight is only playing in 123 theaters (up from 19 last weekend) yet jumped into the Top Ten. Propelled by critical raves, Jackass Bad Grandpa Box Officeit’s in 8th place despite Steve McQueen’s unvarnished depiction of mankind’s brutality from John Ridley’s screenplay based on the book by Solomon Northup. The per screen average is $17,400 for a new cume of $3.4M. There still is tremendous curiosity in Hollywood as to this pre-Civil War drama’s box office potential after it opened last weekend with an ‘A’ CinemaScore and an impressive $50,000 per screen averager. Studio says it’s playing well in art houses, African American theaters, as well as in mainstream multiplexes in markets LA, NY, Atlanta, Wash DC, Chicago, Toronto, Dallas, Houston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston and Detroit. Next week it adds 45 new cities and will increase theater count to over 400 locations across North America. Stellar cast includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodward, and of course Brad Pitt who’s also starring in one of this month’s worst box office bombs. (See below).

Are there really going to be 86-year-old Irving Zismans (aka Johnny Knoxville in 8 hours worth of industrial-strength makeup) at Halloween parties this weekend? This fourth moronic Jackass movie was outselling R-rated comedies like We’re The Millers and This Is The End at the same point in their online pre-sales cycles. So it was no surprise that Thursday 9 PM late shows and Friday midnight screenings grossed a gigantic $1.4 million and then went into Friday’s $12.6M opening total for Paramount/MTV Films’ Jackass: Bad Grandpa (3,336 theaters). Saturday’s take was down only -5% for $11.5M and a $32M weekend from 3,336 theaters. Hollywood knows never to underestimate the taste of American moviegoers which gave the comedy a ‘B’ CinemaScore. So this crapfest came in an easy #1. “Not bad for a film that cost $15M,” a studio exec tells me. It’s apparently now the 3rd best R-rated comedy opener of the year demonstrating this 2000 MTV-origin franchise isn’t played out. But this gross is far less than 2010′s Jackass 3-D opening weekend of $50.4M.

But internationally Bad Grandpa opened as the highest-grossing release in the Jackass franchise. It was let loose day and date this weekend in the UK and Germany and a number of smaller markets and grossed a healthy $8.1M from 1,014 locations in 16 territories. That’s 3X bigger than the second Jackass opening for the same group of markets and on a par with Jackass 3D despite the fact that Bad Grandpa is a 2D release and a spin-off rather than a straight sequel. In terms of admissions, there were +20% more than for Jackass 3D. The UK delivered $3.2M from 371 sites for the biggest opening for the Jackass franchise. And Knoxville’s geezer scored a big $3.1M from 285 cinemas for the #1 launch as the biggest opening for the Jackass franchise in the market. Other releasing territories: Netherlands $474K at 63 locations, Austria $410K in 50 cinemas, Finland $164K from 69 locations. Australia releases on November 14th.

Zisman’s character previously only perturbed passerbys in brief hidden-camera punk’ds. Here director Jeff Tremaine ages up Knoxville who travels with his grandson to some pretty decent reviews. (Hey, not my problem if critics want to lose more brain matter.) The marketplace was ripe for a raw comedy and Paramount marketed to frat houses around the country. The trailer launched in August on We’re The Millers and TV ads had heavy play on sports channels. At MTV’s VMAs, Knoxville as Zisman and his grandson did shtick then custom vignettes for Spike TV and Comedy Central showed the geezer screening the film at the Playboy mansion with bunnies.

Warner Bros’ Gravity fell from atop the domestic box office for 3 straight weeks to #2 and a still amazing $20.3M weekend and nearly $200M domestic cume through Sunday. In #3 is the Paul Greengrass/Tom Hanks adult drama Captain Phillips entering its 4rd weekend for Sony Pictures with an $11.8M weekend for a new cume of $70M through Sunday.

Twentieth Century Fox’s Ridley Scott vanity project The Counselor (3,044 theaters) only opened #4 to a meager $8M weekend. Studio claims the cost was only $25M. Good thing because audiences gave the derivative drug thriller a dreaded ‘D’ CinemaScore despite a standout cast of Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz in No Country For Old Men author Cormac McCarthy’s first screenplay. Not much reason to talk about the film’s marketing or creative plan since Fox ran off the top execs running both departments in recent days. So why did this turkey get made? “Tom Rothman did it for Ridley because he’d made so much money for the studio with Prometheus,” an insider tells me. “But even people who’ve seen it can’t figure out what it’s about.” Ouch! Exit polling showed that the audience was 49%/51% male-female, with 85% aged 25+ and 15% aged 25 or under. “Some good grosses in the big city, core runs where audiences are more likely to be receptive to challenging, provocative filmmaking,” a Fox exec Sunday. “We’re extremely proud of our filmmaker Ridley Scott as well as our phenomenal cast who all came together to make this film for a very reasonable price. We opened in a few international territories this weekend so the end result for our modestly budgeted film is far from being known at this time. But suspect we will be in good shape financially at the end of the day.”

Overall the weekend is $100M, or +15% from last year. Here’s the Top Ten list:
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Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond, Episode 47

By | Friday October 25, 2013 @ 11:48am PDT
Pete Hammond

Listen to (and share) episode 47 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about the fantastic spoonful of sugar and spice that is Saving Mr. Banks, which debuted strongly at the London Film Festival. They also assess the impact of the Oscar race departures by The Monuments Men and the possible re-insertion into the race by Wolf Of Wall Street; ponder the value of the heavily attended Hollywood Film Awards and look at whether James Schamus’ surprise departure from Focus Features will sell short Dallas Buyers Club.

Finally, we’ll get Pete’s take on this week’s new movie releases, including Ridley Scott’s The Counselor, which features a glittering cast and a problematic Cormac McCarthy script; the latest hijinks from the Jackass crew, Bad Grandpa; and Cannes conqueror Blue Is The Warmest Color.

Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 47 (MP3 format)
Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 47 (M4a format) Read More »

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Hot International Trailer: ‘The Counselor’

The international trailer for Ridley Scott’s The Counselor has arrived via 20th Century Fox UK (hence the double L in the titles below). This is the longest look at the film so far and includes a bit more on the story. Michael Fassbender stars as a lawyer who gets in over his head when he enters the drug trade. Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, and Penelope Cruz also star. Fox releases in the U.S. on October 25 and in the UK on November 15.

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Hot Trailer: Ridley Scott’s ‘The Counselor’

By | Wednesday August 7, 2013 @ 9:04am PDT

We saw the first clips yesterday from Ridley Scott‘s The Counselor and now the full trailer has dropped. Michael Fassbender stars as a lawyer who enters the drug trade only to find himself in over his head. Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, and Penelope Cruz also star in the pic scripted by Cormac McCarthy which Fox has slated for an October 25 release. Check it out:

Watch this video on YouTube.

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Hot Clips: Ridley Scott’s ‘The Counselor’

By | Tuesday August 6, 2013 @ 12:40pm PDT

Michael Fassbender reunites with Prometheus helmer Ridley Scott in The Counselor, starring as a lawyer who enters the drug trade only to find himself in over his head. Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, and Penelope Cruz also star in the pic scripted by Cormac McCarthy which Fox has slated for an October 25 release. Fassbender’s title character gets a few warnings from Pitt and Bardem in the first clips from The Counselor. The full trailer drops tomorrow:

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Hot Teaser Trailer: Ridley Scott’s ‘The Counselor’

By | Tuesday June 25, 2013 @ 1:37pm PDT

“You may think there are things these people are simply incapable of — there are not.” Brad Pitt speaks that ominous line in the new international teaser trailer for Ridley Scott‘s follow-up to last year’s Prometheus. The Counselor follows a lawyer (Michael Fassbender) who wades into treacherous waters when he gets involved in the drug trade. The Fox 2000 thriller written by Cormac McCarthy (No Country For Old Men) also stars Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, John Leguizamo and Goran Visnjic. It’s produced by Scott, Nick Wechsler, Steve Schwartz and Paula Mae Schwartz. Fox releases the pic, titled The Counsellor in the UK, on October 25:

Watch this video on YouTube.

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Fox Dates ‘Frankenstein’ & ‘Chipmunks 4,’ Sets 2017-2018 Animated Slate

By | Monday June 10, 2013 @ 4:08pm PDT

Following Disney/Pixar’s 2016-2018 animated slate announcement, 20th Century Fox has updated its release schedule through 2018. Ten untitled Fox/DreamWorks Animation/Blue Sky animated pics have been dated for 2017 and 2018, though only one will face off directly against Disney, when the Untitled Fox/DreamWorks Animation/Blue Sky project goes head to head with Untitled Pixar Animation pic on June 16, 2017. Fox also set its Daniel Radcliffe-starring Frankenstein for October 17, 2014, and sequel Alvin & The Chipmunks 4 for December 11, 2015. Ridley Scott‘s The Counselor starring Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, and Javier Bardem has been moved up from November 15, 2013, to October 25. The animated Day of the Dead-themed Book Of Life will arrive a week early, moving to October 3, 2014. Here’s the full Fox slate update: Read More »

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Ridley Scott Resumes ‘The Counselor’ Monday

The filmmaker put the movie on hiatus for two weeks. He left the set of The Counselor so he could travel from London to Hollywood and handle his brother’s affairs after Tony Scott’s tragic death. Now director/producer Ridley Scott is starting production back up on The Counselor for Fox Monday, with Michael Fassbender back on set Tuesday in London. Film moves to Alicante, Spain, in a couple weeks.

Related: Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Cormac McCarthy Sells His First Spec Script

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John Leguizamo Sets Two Films Before Making ABC Pilot

By | Monday July 30, 2012 @ 5:10pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: John Leguizamo, who just made a deal to star in the ABC pilot Only Fools and Horses, has just signed for roles in the Ridley Scott-directed The Counselor and the Jeff Wadlow-scripted Kick-Ass 2. In The Counselor, he’ll play a low level drug dealer, in a Cormac McCarthy-scripted film that stars Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz. In Kick-Ass 2, he’ll play Javier, the bodyguard assigned to protect aspiring evil guy Red Mist, the role to be reprised by Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Aaron Johnson and Chloe Moretz are back along with Nicolas Cage. Leguizamo is repped by UTA and The Collective.

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As Penelope Cruz Signs ‘Counselor’ Deal, Reteam With Almodovar Looms Large

By | Monday June 11, 2012 @ 4:46pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: As expected, Penelope Cruz has joined the stellar cast of the Ridley Scott-directed The Counselor, and I’m told that she is planning to team up again this summer with director Pedro Almodovar in Los Amantes Pasajeros, the comedy he will shoot this summer in Madrid. The title’s translation is The Brief Lovers, and reports say it’s about an affair on an airplane. It is what the actress considers a special collaboration between herself and Almodovar, whose films together include Broken Embraces, Volver, All About My Mother and Live Flesh. Cruz joins Paz Vega, Lola Dueñas, Javier Cámara, Cecelia Roth, Carlos Areces, Raúl Arévalo and José Maria Yazpik.

In The Counselor, Cruz will star with Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem and Cameron Diaz in a drama that has been called No Country For Old Men on steroids. Cruz is repped by CAA, Untitled and Spain-based Katrina Bayonas.

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Cameron Diaz Joining Ridley Scott’s Killer Cast For ‘The Counselor’

By | Wednesday May 9, 2012 @ 8:25am PDT
Mike Fleming

Cameron Diaz Cast CounselorBREAKING: Cameron Diaz is in final negotiations to join the spectacular cast of The Counselor, the Ridley Scott-directed drama based on the original script by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy. She will join Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. It is a strong supporting role she’ll play, named Malkina. Fassbender plays the title role of a respected lawyer who thinks he can dip a toe into the drug business without getting sucked down, which proves to be a life-threatening decision.

It continues the charmed track the film has been on since McCarthy surprised his ICM agents by delivering his first spec script late last year, with Nick Wechsler and Chockstone’s Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz (who produced the screen adaptation of McCarthy’s The Road) buying it preemptively. It has been a magnet for talent, particularly after Scott cleared the decks to direct it next, and set his Prometheus star Fassbender to star. The director’s Scott Free came aboard to produce with Wechsler and the Chockstone duo. That gave Fox first crack at the film, and the studio recently closed a deal to release the picture. Next came commitments from both Pitt and Bardem (who won his Best Actor Oscar for the Coen brothers-directed adaptation of McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men), and subsequently Cruz. Read More »

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Ridley Scott Drafts Brad Pitt And Javier Bardem For ‘The Counselor,’ With Fox Circling

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Back in February, Deadline revealed that Ridley Scott was aiming high for a nemesis to play alongside Michael Fassbender in The Counselor, with Brad Pitt and Javier Bardem on the wish list. I’m told now that Scott is on the verge of getting both actors into the movie. There are rumors swirling that Angelina Jolie is in discussions to play the female lead but that is less solidified. They’re all in talks for a film that starts production late June. Fox is negotiating to distribute, which was expected because of Scott Free’s first look deal that gave the studio first crack at the package. If all this works out, I can’t imagine Fox lets this one get away.

It has been a charmed fast track for this project ever since it was first shown to producers Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz, who adapted McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Road. They took McCarthy’s first spec script off the market quickly. Scott sparked to it and agreed to make it his next film after Prometheus, and he soon had that scifi film’s star, Fassbender, aboard to play the title role of a respected lawyer who thinks he can dip a toe into the drug … Read More »

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Top Actors Lining Up For Villain Role In ‘The Counselor’

Mike Fleming

The hot role that actors are lining up for is the villain in The Counselor, the Ridley Scott-directed Cormac McCarthy-written thriller that will star Michael Fassbender. I’m hearing that The Bourne Legacy‘s Jeremy Renner and No Country For Old Men‘s Javier Bardem are among the actors circling. I’ve been hearing Brad Pitt too but unclear if he would be available. This is a most charmed path for a film that was bought at year’s end by producers Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz and is heading for a May production start. Stay tuned.

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TOLDJA! Michael Fassbender Commits To Ridley Scott-Directed ‘The Counselor’

By | Tuesday February 21, 2012 @ 12:01pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Michael Fassbender has committed to star in The Counselor, the Cormac McCarthy-scripted thriller that Ridley Scott is making his next film. Deadline told you February 9 that Scott went right to Fassbender, who stars in Prometheus for Scott and 20th Century Fox. Scott has landed one of the hottest actors in Hollywood, is eyeing a May 1 start date, and talking to a number of high-profile actors to take part in a film that insiders are describing as “No Country For Old Men on steroids.” The Counselor is reminiscent of the rough-and-tumble world depicted in the Oscar-winning adaptation of McCarthy’s novel No Country For Old Men. The protagonist is a respected lawyer who thinks he can dip a toe in to the drug business without getting sucked down. It is a bad decision and he tries his best to survive it and get out of a desperate situation. Read More »

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Ridley Scott Commits To Next Direct McCarthy’s ‘The Counselor’; Will Michael Fassbender Play Title Role?

By | Thursday February 9, 2012 @ 5:24pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The Cormac McCarthy script The Counselor might well be traveling on the fastest track toward production of any film in recent memory. I’m told that Ridley Scott has now committed to make The Counselor his next film. Other sources tell me that Scott has been talking to his Prometheus star Michael Fassbender about playing the title role. While a formal offer hasn’t been made, I believe there’s a high likelihood that Hollywood’s hottest actor will star in the film.

Scott is eyeing a May 1 start date, and he is talking to a number of high-profile actors to take part in a film that insiders are describing as “No Country For Old Men on steroids.” Let’s put the whole thing in perspective: McCarthy’s ICM agents, who expected him to turn in a new novel, were surprised that he instead took a detour and turned in his first feature spec script in December. The agents started talks on a rich spec deal with The Road producers Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz. Negotiations started before the end of the year and the deal was done in mid-January. Read More »

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Ridley Scott In Talks For Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Counselor’

By | Tuesday January 31, 2012 @ 5:55pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Ridley Scott is in talks to direct the Cormac McCarthy-scripted drama The Counselor. Scott has several films he’s considering, but there is a strong possibility this could be his next film and his followup to Prometheus, the 3D space film which Fox releases this summer. I guess this is what happens when one of the premiere living authors like the Pulitzer Prize-winning McCarthy takes a break from his novel writing to turn out his first spec screenplay. McCarthy, whose novels have been turned into the films No Country For Old Men, The Road and All the Pretty Horses, did just that in late December, and sold the script to The Road producing team of Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz.

Scott had been mulling several options, including an historical epic about Gertrude Bell that The Constant Gardener scribe Jeffrey Caine is currently rewriting, and Child 44 at Summit Entertainment. But Scott has been talking directly to McCarthy and it’s looking likely that he and his Scott Free Entertainment banner will come aboard the film and join Wechsler and the Schwartz’s as producers. Those producers control all rights, and haven’t committed the film to any studio, but I can see their phone sheets filling up by tomorrow morning.

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Pulitzer Prize-winning Author Cormac McCarthy Sells His First Spec Script

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: While Cormac McCarthy’s novels have been turned into No Country For Old Men, The Road and All the Pretty Horses, he’s left the film adaptations to others. McCarthy has surprised everybody by writing his first spec screenplay. Nick Wechsler, Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz, the producing trio behind the adaptation of McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winner The Road, have just closed a deal to take The Counselor off the table with a preemptive acquisition.

The terrain of the script is reminiscent of the rough and tumble world depicted in No Country For Old Men. The protagonist in The Counselor is a respected lawyer who thinks he can dip a toe in to the drug business without getting sucked down. It is a bad decision and he tries his best to survive it and get out of a desperate situation. While McCarthy’s ICM agents Binky Urban and Ron Bernstein were expecting McCarthy to deliver his next novel, he instead surprised them with the spec script before returning to the book. The producers moved quickly and spent their own money to buy it in a sizable deal. They tell me they will go looking for a filmmaker as they talk to financiers.

“The spec falls smack in the middle of what everyone responds to with Cormac’s novels,” Wechsler said. Steve Schwartz told me: “Since McCarthy … Read More »

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