UPDATE: A spokesperson for Millennium Films said that the log line has changed. Here is their new one: The Expendables universe has a new team. An elite group of highly trained female mercenaries are brought together for a covert hostage rescue mission. Once they are behind enemy lines, the women discover that they will also need to topple an evil dictator bent on world domination. It becomes clear there there is no such thing as the right man for the job. The Expendabelles is the ultimate story of female empowerment and kick-ass teamwork. So, there you go.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 6:18 AM: Robert Luketic has come aboard to direct The ExpendaBelles, the estrogen-powered equivalent of the testosterone-fueled Millennium Films franchise The Expendables. The move re-teams Luketic with his Legally Blonde scribes Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith and Karen McCullah, who wrote the original screenplay for the female action comedy spinoff. The film will begin shooting this summer and Luketic will soon begin casting the gals. Read More »
There might be one less name on the credits for The Expendables 3 if Millennium Films and Nu Image get their way. The producers have taken the Writers Guild of America West and scribe David Callaham to court this week for fraud, unjust enrichment and declaratory relief over the original Expendables. They claim a flawed and misinformed 2009 Guild arbitration gave the writer undeserved credit on the successful Sylvester Stallone-directed 2010 retro action pic as well as its sequels. To that end the plaintiffs want back the $102,250 that was paid to Callaham for as a “writing credit bonus” after the WGA arbitration went his way four years ago. In their demand for a jury trial and unspecified damages plus legal fees (read it here), they also want any sequel payments nixed and the court to rule that Callaham committed fraud by withholding vital correspondence from the WGA that revealed his true and much more limited role in The Expendables script. They also want the 2009 WGA ruling partially reversed and the Guild to “discipline” UTA-repped Callaham for not revealing emails in which he seemingly indicates his lesser involvement in the Expendables script.
“Plaintiffs are informed and believe that Callaham intentionally withheld these material emails, and concealed the limited extent of his contributions to The Expendables from the WGA screen writing credit arbitration panel in … Read More »
Sylvester Stallone says he “has no knowledge of Nic Cage joining Expendables 3,” the actor told Deadline today, and that reports of negotiations for the Oscar winner to join the latest film in the action franchise are false. Several news outlets reported yesterday that Stallone had confirmed Cage for the next Expendables movie, citing either a Stallone fan Facebook page purporting to be the actor’s own or comments by Stallone that appeared in Spanish daily El Pais earlier this year. In the El Pais article, Cage’s name — as well as that of Mickey Rourke, who was in the first Expendables, Harrison Ford and Wesley Snipes — were noted as additions to a third Expendables. Those statements were made during European junkets this summer for Expendables 2, when Stallone was asked at a press conference who he would like to see in a possible second sequel. Although the Cage rumors are untrue, what is a fact is that Expendables 3 is in the offering. NuImage/Millennium Films has been selling international distribution rights at AFM this past week.
EXCLUSIVE: After grossing $563 million worldwide on The Expendables and its recently released sequel, Millennium Films has set Legally Blonde scribes Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith to write ExpendaBelles, the title of the spinoff action film that will show the feminine side of the mercenary business. The intention is to hatch a franchise that will be driven by actresses who’ve logged time in action films over the years, much the same way that The Expendables team is comprised of action film staples. Millennium will finance with Avi Lerner and Mark Gill producing, along with Heidi Jo Markel of Eclectic Pictures and Julie Kroll of Summertime Entertainment and Boaz Davidson. Trevor Short will be executive producer.
The action game hasn’t been as steady for actresses as it has been for their male counterparts, but certainly Angelina Jolie thrives and Underworld‘s Kate Beckinsale, Resident Evil‘s Milla Jovovich, Haywire‘s Gina Carano, and Kill Bill‘s Uma Thurman have done well in the butt-kicking action realm. And there is also Alien‘s Sigourney Weaver, Long Kiss Goodnight‘s Geena Davis, Elektra‘s Jennifer Garner, Crouching Tiger‘s Michelle Yeoh, Red Sonja‘s Brigitte Nielsen, and action genre matriarch Pam Grier. Who am I missing? Read More »
Less than two months before The Expendables 2 comes out, Sylvester Stallone today scored an action hero legal victory. Judge Jed Rakoff rejected Marcus Webb’s claims that The Expendables was his original idea and Sly stole it. Webb sued Stallone, the retro action flick’s co-author David Callaham, Millennium Films, Nu Image Films and Lionsgate in late October 2011. In his initial suit, Webb said he circulated a script several years ago among studios about “elite highly trained mercenaries” recruited to defeat a dictator. Webb alleged that the screenplay for The Expendables is “strikingly similar and in some places identical” to his The Cordoba Caper. Webb claimed that Stallone, who directed, co-wrote and starred in The Expendables, and his team must have seen his script because they were so alike. The Rocky star’s lawyers said that was unlikely especially being that one was an action movie and Webb’s was more of a caper flick. The lawyers also pointed out that Callaham had already written several drafts of what was to become 2010’s The Expendables before Webb’s script was even out there. The judge, who said a more formal order would be forthcoming, obviously agreed. The Expendables 2 comes out on August 17, 2012.
Lionsgate is looking at converting several movies into TV series — including, I’m told, the 2010 action film about a team of mercenaries. It wasn’t on CEO Jon Feltheimer’s list this morning, though, when he briefly discussed synergy plans in a conference call with Wall Street analysts following the company’s release last night of its fiscal Q4 results. Feltheimer says he’s also considering making series from Red and Step Up, film franchises acquired with the recent purchase of Summit Entertainment. Speaking of the deal, Feltheimer noted that Lionsgate’s $500M term loan to fund it “will be paid down on schedule” and its debt will be “significantly reduced.” One of the main reasons for that, of course, is the huge success of The Hunger Games. Due to the timing of the release in March at the end of the studio’s fiscal Q4, about 90% of the profits have yet to be reported. That made Feltheimer confident enough to report that Lionsgate “will generate approximately $900 million in EBITDA over the next three years.”
Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns had to disappoint analysts who wanted him to open up about the big question of the day for his company: What’s going on with its reported merger talks with Summit Entertainment? “I’m not going to talk about any specific deal,” he said at the UBS Annual Global Media and Communications Conference. He noted, though, that a consolidation of independent film and TV companies is “a natural thing to happen.” He assured the group that Lionsgate is only interested in deals that add to its value, and don’t require it to either issue stock or take on additional debt. “We’re looking to delever, not lever up,” he says.
With that out of the way, he spoke candidly about the company’s plans for next year where he says “you’ll see us steady state for the first time” cranking out about a dozen movies and about three new TV shows. He’s encouraged about a plan to develop a TV series for ABC based on The Lincoln Lawyer – and Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management. ”I’ve known Charlie a long, long time,” Burns said. “Our goal is to keep Charlie working, keep him healthy — and we have a great partner in FX.” Burns says that a series it’s developing for Read More »
Sylvester Stallone has been sued by a writer who alleges the hit movie The Expendables copies a script and short story he filed with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2006. Marcus Webb says he then made available to Hollywood studios a script about mercenaries recruited to defeat a dictator named General Garza. Webb alleges in the suit filed in federal court in Manhattan that the screenplay for The Expendables is “strikingly similar and in some places identical” to his The Cordoba Caper. Webb seeks unspecified damages and a court order stopping further infringement by Stallone, his credited co-author David Callaham, Millennium/NuImage Films and Lionsgate. Expendables 2 is slated to open August 17, 2012.
Sylvester Stallone wants it known that despite reports to the contrary, he will not be directing the sequel to The Expendables. Stallone, who directed and starred in the crowd-pleasing original that grossed around $275 million for Millennium and Lionsgate, is heavily involved in putting together a list of directors to helm the second installment. That film’s being scripted and is expected to have the major action stars back — with Stallone lobbying for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis to return after playing cameos in the first film. The film’s also expected to broaden its coterie of action heroes beyond Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren and Terry Crews, but none of those casting decisions have yet been finalized. Stallone next stars in the drama Headshot, a drama that will be directed by Walter Hill.
20th Century Fox has acquired an untitled pitch for a large-scale science fiction adventure film that has McG attached to produce through his Wonderland Sound and Vision banner with an eye toward directing. All parties were scant on details, but the project will be scripted by David Callaham, whose credits include Doom and most recently The Expendables. It was one of two space-set sales that happened Friday, the day Battle: Los Angeles opened to strong numbers. Sony Pictures and Neal Moritz acquired Agent OX, described as a Daniel Kunka-scripted spec about a human pretending to be an alien to get info on an in-the-works invasion.
McG just wrapped This Means War for Fox with Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy and Chris Pine starring in the dark comedy. He’s also attached to direct the Ouija Board movie, which he’s developing with Universal Pictures, Platinum Dunes and Hasbro. Tron: Legacy’s Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis are writing the script. UTA reps Callaham, WME reps McG and Management 360 reps both.
The company reported a 2nd quarter net loss of $29.7 million compared to net income of $31.7 million same quarter last year. But Lionsgate did report revenue of $456.3 million, an increase of 25% over last year. The revenue rise was boosted mainly by increases in theatrical box office — Lionsgate released The Expendables, The Last Exorcism and Alpha & Omega this past quarter – as well as international and television production. The loss was due to a rise in marketing costs but also could be partially blamed on fighting its biggest shareholder, Carl Icahn, as charges associated with a July 20 debt-to-equity conversion as well as hefty legal bills contributed to the drop. Lionsgate and Icahn, who have been waging a campaign to take control of the company, are prepping to go face-to-face at the annual shareholders meeting set for December 14.
Lionsgate has recommended to shareholders that they spurn Carl Icahn’s latest offer to pay $7.50 for outstanding shares. The company just filed its Schedule 14D-9 Report. The report described a September 7 meeting of the board of directors, which unanimously rejected the offer and voted to recommend that shareholders do the same. The reasons included strings that Icahn attached to the offer, but also that Lionsgate management feels confident about recent momentum it has built with recent releases The Expendables and The Last Exorcism, both of which performed well in late August. The company also cited the surprising resilience of the film Kick-Ass, which has grossed $50 million domestic and $100 million worldwide and which just topped the DVD sales charts. Lionsgate also cited a record 26 Emmy nominations, including wins for Mad Men and Nurse Jackie, as reasons to feel bullish on the TV side. Not in the report was the week long meetings held by Lionsgate brass with directors for The Hunger Games, the first in a series of three Suzanne Collins novels that have the potential to be a game-changer for the indie, much the way that Twilight was for Summit Entertainment.
Icahn recently raised his share offer to its highest, after a starting bid of $6.50, which climbed to $7. The stock closed slightly down, at $7.14 per share.
I can’t blame Sly Stallone for wanting to milk The Expendables for all its worth. On his new Twitter account, Stallone says his director’s cut will be out in about six months but also “Inferno, which is the documentary, will be out soon – its hard core – everybodys on it.” What’s described as a brutal smackdown scene with former pro wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin when a stunt went wrong on the Brazilian set of the movie, as well as the resulting trip to the hospital where Stallone was told he needed surgery for a spinal cord injury to his neck, are all captured in the documentary Inferno: The Making of The Expendables. Sly also just finished up The Expendables‘ DVD commentary. “Turned out great, think you’ll like it.” He’s already soliciting opinions about Expendables II. (FYI, Sly asks everyone including his gardener about his films.) “I am thinking what would be the most dangerous places in the world to set the sequel?… Had dinner with Bruce Willis… I want him in Expendables II as a super villain. What do you think?”
MONDAY 2ND UPDATE: Here are the actuals for this weekend. Sony/Screen Gems’ Takers won despite a 668 locations advantage in The Last Exorcism‘s favor. I hear Joe Drake at Lionsgate phoned Jeff Blake this morning to congratulate him.
#1 Takers (Screen Gems/Sony) -32% Sunday for $20.5M
#2 The Last Exorcism (Lionsgate) -45% Sunday for $20.3M Read More »
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM UPDATE: There is now a clear consensus over which motion picture was No. 1 at the box office this weekend. Sly Stallone’s action holdover The Expendables for Lionsgate is the easy winner after a nailbiter Friday. It was followed closely by a newcomer, another of those cheap Fox spoofs, Vampires Suck, which opened Wednesday. In fact, the order of the entire Top 10 kept changing more than usual day to day because no studio could agree on the grosses. In all, there were 5, count ‘em, new films opening in North America to almost close out the summer. Yet none of them could break $12.5M by end of Sunday.
Dimension/Weinstein Co’s horror pic Piranha 3D underperformed at the box office despite those higher ticket prices. Warner Bros’ urban comedy Lottery Ticket did a better per screen average considering its middling release. With a CinemaScore of only “B”, The Switch from Miramax (with production costs shared by Mandate/Lionsgate which has foreign) showed size does matter when it comes to theater count and box office order. Jason Bateman steals this rom-com but it’s not likely to stay in play long enough for people to even see his performance. Working Title’s Nanny McPheeReturns barely made a dent in the box office despite an “A-” CinemaScore, but North America is one of the last markets to debut. Universal began opening it internationally in April to grosses over $62.9 million on a $35M budget (with tax incentives).
SANTA MONICA, CA, VANCOUVER, BC and NEW YORK, NY — August 18, 2010 — Fresh off its number one debut at the North American box office with an opening weekend gross of $34.8 million, Lionsgate has licensed THE EXPENDABLES to Spike TV for its first free television window, the two companies announced today. The film will premiere on Spike TV in April 2013. The sale follows on the heels of the Company’s recent licensing of the action hit KICK ASS to Spike TV.
SUNDAY AM UPDATE: Weekend wonders never cease. Friday the Thirteenth weekend proved lucky for a pair of faded stars. Overall box office looks about $140M (about even with last year’s) and had something for everyone — men/women, old/young, romance/bromance, winners/losers/dropouts. It’s so competitive that The Expendables was marketing itself by pitting Sly Stallone against Pretty Woman: “Guys, don’t let Julia Roberts win”. I love the smell of napalm. North American numbers were refined this AM:
1. The Expendables (Lionsgate) NEW [3,270 Theaters]
Friday $13.3M, Saturday $11.8M, Est Sunday $9.8M, Weekend $35M
Even when The Expendables came on tracking, it looked big. And the timing couldn’t have been better what with Lionsgate getting beaten up by Carl Icahn on a daily basis, and Sylvester Stallone needing a fresh hit in his dotage. Kudos to Sly for coming up with such an irresistible concept directing and starring with today’s and yesteryear’s action heroes like Jason Statham, Jet Li, Randy Couture, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, and even Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger (for nanoseconds in cameos). “Are The Expendables wearing Dependables?” one rival studio exec snarked in an email to me.
Still, it’s the kind of old school camp that the action box office needs — and received a “B+” CinemaScore. The audience was 61% male/39% female, as expected, and 60% over age 25/40% under age 25. Older women were 26%, equal to the percentage of men under 25. Friday’s grosses included a little Thursday midnight money. And Saturday’s fell about 7%. But the weekend fell in line with Hollywood’s big prediction for the pic despite being R-rated and only 2D. … Read More »