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2013 Most Valuable Blockbuster – #5 ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Vs. #4 ‘The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug’

Mike Fleming

Hobbit Desolation Of Smaug Hunger Games Catching Fire ProfitThe final eight films in Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster movie tournament face off today. This is the second of our quarterfinal matchups and for the first time we reveal the numbers behind the numbers that show just how profitable a movie really is.


Hunger-Games-HobbitThe Matchup: There are similarities here that go beyond each of these being the second installment of huge global franchises. How huge? MGM, which was frozen in suspended animation not that long ago, is flush and considering an IPO because of the fortunes derived from its share of The Hobbit franchise, and James Bond. On the other side, The Hunger Games is doing for Lionsgate what The Twilight Saga did for its merger partner, Summit Entertainment. It is driving the fortunes of those combined companies, emboldening its creative team to take chances on building new YA franchises as it did with the weekend’s top-grossing film Divergent.

The Box Score: Here is how the films compare in revenue, ancillary projections and profits.

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UPDATE: Int’l Box Office: ‘Lego Movie’ Builds $93.5M Overseas; ‘Desolation Of Smaug’ Sets Records In China; ‘Frozen’ Hits $980M Worldwide; ‘Robocop’ Big In Brazil; More

cinemaworld3rd UPDATE, 3:20 PM PT Monday:  The Lego Movie has upped its overseas weekend cume to $24M in its 48 markets due to stronger UK and France numbers. It now has an international total estimated at $93.5M. Key building block territories yet to bow include Russia, Japan, Australia and Germany. In the UK, Lego took the wind out of the box office with a 55% share among the top five films and its gross actually increased 1% from opening weekend. It has taken $36M in the UK legosince its debut. The French opening also came in higher than expected this frame with $3.1M from 521 screens. With U.S. cumes this weekend (where it was No. 1 for the third week in a row), the worldwide total is now $276.5M. Also via Warner Bros, Best picture Oscar contender Gravity‘s new cume worldwide is $703.6M after this weekend with international repping $434.4M. We are still waiting on confirmed opening weekend numbers from China for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.

2ND UPDATE, 2:10 PM PT MONDAY: Actuals are trickling in with no huge surprises in the bunch so far. Universal added figures for Ride Along, the Ice Cube/Kevin Hart action comedy that’s been so hot Stateside. It bowed in Iceland and South Africa this weekend with $20K at seven dates and $87K at 50 dates, respectively. Its … Read More »

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OSCARS Q&A: ‘Philomena’s Steve Coogan, ’12 Years’ Joe Walker, ‘Gravity’s David Heyman & Andy Nicholson And More

Interviews by AwardsLine Editor Christy Grosz and Deputy Editor Anna Lisa Raya.

Their faces aren’t all recognizable, but these Oscar nominees were crucial elements in bringing some of AwardsLinethe season’s best films to the big screen. From putting the financial elements in place for a visionary director, to leading a team of visual-effects artists who create fantastical digital characters, to painstakingly re-creating the gunfire that will immerse actors—and the audience—into a picture, this is a formidable group. Without their technical mastery and creative perspective, this groundbreaking year in cinema would look a whole lot different.

Steve Coogan, Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture, Philomena

philomenaAwardsLine: You first heard about Philomena Lee’s plight from an article in The Guardian. Is it true you didn’t think of writing the script?
Coogan: I was toying with maybe directing (Philomena) or maybe not. I wasn’t even thinking of writing it. When I first read (the article), I was with my girlfriend and I started crying. I said, “I really would love to do something with that.” (My girlfriend) said, “Actually this could make a really good film.” I said, “But I don’t know how to do that. I don’t do dramas. I do comedy. I don’t know that world. No one takes me seriously in that world. What’s the point?” She said, “Tell Gaby (Tana, Coogan’s producing partner). Gaby said, “(The idea) sounds great. Do … Read More »

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OSCARS: A Billion Gold Coins Bring ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ Its Visual Effects Riches

By | Sunday February 9, 2014 @ 9:33pm PST

AwardsLine editor Christy Grosz contributed to this story.

The-Hobbit-Smaug-4Joe Letteri said the biggest difference between the first Hobbit and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (WB/MGM) was the kind of simulations that the Academy Award-nominated visual effects team had to create. Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds were director Peter Jackson‘s special effects wizards. The first simulation, he said, “was creating the rapids and waterfalls for the barrel chase, and the second one was the simulations that we needed for all the coins in the Treasure Hall that Smaug was moving through.” For the first effect, they had to simulate 20 tons of water through the rapids — an extraordinary feat. The waterfall, the movement of the water, looks absolutely real onscreen. With the dragon, it was the movement of coins. “Treasure Hall filled up with about a billion coins,” said Letteri. “So every time he moved, we’d have to just simulate millions of coins being pushed and displaced by the dragon.” The creature’s movements create waves in a sea of gold coins, and it is truly impressive and astonishing at times to watch. The beauty of the visual effects is that this Herculean effort by the Smaug team makes the movement of the coins look effortless. They used 40,000 gold-plated coins and then duplicated them to make a billion.

Related: OSCARS: Who Were The Unsung Heroes Of 2014′s Academy Award Pics?
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‘Gravity’ Leads With 8 VES Awards Nominations; ‘Pacific Rim’ Nabs 6

By | Tuesday January 14, 2014 @ 3:09pm PST

Los Angeles (January 14, 2014) – Today, the Visual Effects Society (VES), the industry’s professional honorary society, announced the nominees for the 12th Annual VES Awards, the prestigious yearly celebration that recognizes outstanding visual VES_Logoeffects artistry and innovation in film, animation, television, commercials and video games and the VFX supervisors, VFX producers and hands-on-the-keys artists who bring this work to life. Nominees were selected by VES members via concurrent events in Los Angeles and within the eight Global VES Sections – New York, Bay Area, New Zealand, Sydney, United Kingdom, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. The VES Awards will be held on February 12th at the Beverly Hilton.

“The artistry, ingenuity and passion of visual effects practitioners around the world have come together to tell the most amazing stories imaginable,” said Jeffrey A. Okun, VES Chair. “This year, more than ever, we have seen the fantastic become normal, the unimaginable become reality and the artistry of VFX drive box office. The VES Awards is the only place where this amazing work is showcased and honored. We are extremely proud of our nominees!”

The 12th Annual VES Awards Ceremony will be held Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at the The Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The nominees for the 12th Annual VES Awards are as follows:

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UPDATE: International Box Office: ‘Despicable Me 2′ Has $14.4M Weekend In China; ‘Frozen’, ‘Smaug’ Hit Milestones; ‘Book Thief’ Steals Spain; Scorsese Scores In Denmark; More

cinemaworld1UPDATE, MONDAY 12:39 PM PT: Actuals from the overseas weekend box office are starting to roll in with Universal among the first to report. Despicable Me 2‘s China opening weekend ended higher than the studio had predicted with $14.4M as opposed to the estimated $13.8M. The original estimate was based on a screen count of 3,000 and ultimately, Universal is now reporting the movie played at 4,500 dates, including all 141 IMAX screens, as previously noted. (It’s not unusual for screen counts to shift so drastically in China from what’s expected at the outset to what becomes reality.) In any case, DM2’s opening is the 3rd biggest ever for an animated film (on regular and IMAX screens) behind Kung Fu Panda‘s $16.2M in 2008 and Ice Age: Continental Drift‘s $19.4M in 2012. The gross in China, which is DM2‘s last international territory, brings the overseas cume to $567.8M and the worldwide cume to $935.8M. Today, DM2 will pass Finding Nemo to become the third highest-grossing animated film of all time worldwide. As for other notable updates, The Wolf Of Wall Street, which Universal has in nine territories, upped its score in Denmark in the actuals with $1.1M versus a previous estimate of $961K at 74 dates; it’s the best opening ever for a Martin Scorsese film in the country. Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug offically passed the $800M mark with a worldwide cume now … Read More »

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OSCARS: Which Visual Effects Contenders Can Fight ‘Gravity’s Pull?

Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor.

Gravity Oscars vfxExpect Gravity to be as powerful and inevitable a force in the visual-effects category at this year’s Oscars as, well, gravity. Offering more than just snazzy visuals — about 95% of what’s on screen is digital — Gravity’s visual-effects supervisor Tim Webber fulfilled many artists’ dreams by working from the start with director Alfonso Cuaron and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki to completely embed the effects into the storytelling and filmmaking process.

The space drama also has some serious cachet as a more artistic use of effects — a quality Academy voters have AwardsLinerewarded recently with trophies for Life of Pi, Hugo and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. With Gravity offering a seemingly irresistible complete package, it looks as if the other nine Academy short-list contenders will just have to aspire to impress the effects branch enough at the Jan. 9 bake-off to score one of five Oscar nominations on Jan. 16.

In addition to Gravity, the short list includes Elysium, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Oblivion, Star Trek Into Darkness, Thor: The Dark World, Pacific Rim and World War Z. The most obvious question about the list is: How did the year’s highest-profile boxoffice dud, The Lone Ranger, make the cut and Man of Steel did not? Read More »

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New Year’s Box Office Update: ‘Hobbit’ Crosses $200M U.S., ‘Hunger Games’ On Verge of $400M; ‘Frozen’ Ices Competition, ‘American Hustle.’ ‘Wolf’ Playing Hard, ‘Anchorman 2′ Nears $100M

THIS WEEKEND OPENERS: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (PAR, wide)

BoxOffice_logo__131122164403-275x206__131207011855THURSDAY, 8:09 AM: Since Christmas fell on a Wednesday this year and New Year’s Eve on a Tuesday, the studios are enjoying a long holiday run at the box office that will continue through Sunday. Through the New Year’s holiday, The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug surpassed $200M for Warner Bros.’/MGM, but it was Disney’s animated musical Frozen that has iced the competition since Sunday, taking in solid midweek numbers and climbing its way past such 2013 powerhouse grosses as Gravity and Fast & Furious 6 to earn about $263.1M at the end of calendar year 2013. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is expected to cross the $400M mark for Lionsgate either tonight or tomorrow. Sony and Annapurna’s American Hustle is rolling past $70M and the studio is hoping to edge into $90M by the weekend — a much-needed surge for the studio as it heads into the middle of awards season. However, box office for the rest of the week will be impacted by a massive snowstorm hitting the Northeast that will have about 70M people digging out and facing bitter temperatures. Paramount is reaping a big box office take for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues both here and abroad, with an estimated domestic gross of about $95.5M through Wednesday. New Year’s Day was strong for almost all of the top 12. Those pics receiving the highest percentage … Read More »

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Warner Bros Tops UK Distributor List For Third Time In Four Years

Warner-bros-logoWarner Bros UK was Britain’s top distributor in 2013, the third time in four years it has held the title, and the sixth time since rankings began in 1991. The studio says it grossed £194M ($320.3M) last year for a 16.5% share. The figures are not records as the last time Warner UK was No. 1 in 2011, it grosed £205.8M for an 18.04% share (that was the year Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 ruled the box office); and in 2010, WB UK grossed £204.1M for an 18.4% share with the first part of the Harry Potter finale and Christopher Nolan’s Inception among top films. In its post-Potter period, Warner Bros remains entrenched in the UK and in 2013 inaugurated the Warner Bros Studios Leavesden and the Making Of Harry Potter studio tour. (It also opened its first-ever West End musical, Sam Mendes’ Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.) The first two films made at Leavesden, Doug Liman’s Tom Cruise vehicle, Edge Of Tomorrow, and the Wachowski siblings’ Jupiter Ascending, both arrive in theaters in 2014. This year, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (£32.9M), Man Of Steel (£29.9M), Gravity (£27.3M), The Hangover Part III (£19.3M), The Great Gatsby (£15.7M) and The Conjuring (£10.4M) were among the highest local grossers for the studio. Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine was also handled locally by WB and became the director’s top UK movie ever with … Read More »

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Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

Catch up on your holiday news with Deadline’s best film stories of the week:

Hobbit 2 box officeChristmas Box Office: Weekend Up 10% On More Movies In Marketplace, ‘Hobbit,’ ‘Frozen,’ Together Take 34% Out Of Weekend, ‘Anchorman 2,’ ‘Hustle,’ ‘Wolf’ Follow
By Anita Busch – What a weekend. Box office was up overall about 10% from a year earlier Christmas weekend and may just slightly surpass last year’s overall record of $10.8B, according to Rentrak, to a bit over $10.9B. It’s actually just around 1% ahead so let’s not get all breathless here as there are simply more movies in the marketplace this year and ticket price and attendance figures are not yet available.

Year-End: Will Big Media Companies Hit Their Stride, Or Their Peak, In 2014?
By David Lieberman – People in and around the media business stock market may look at 2013 as the calm before the storm. The Dow Jones Media Index, up nearly 39% this year (as of mid-December), is the highest it’s been in at least a decade while stock prices are at or near all-time highs for industry leaders including CBS, Comcast, Discovery Communications, Disney, Netflix, and Viacom.

OSCARS: Ballots Are Out And The Race Is On, But Will Voters See The Movies In Time?
By Pete Hammond – OK Oscar voters, the pressure is on. Ballots are in the mail — or should we say email – as of today, and the Academy has been bending over backwards to make sure everything is going to go smoothly this year after a well-documented bumpy inaugural ride with electronic voting last season.

Brad Pitt - 12 Years a Slave posterItalian Distributor Apologizes After Recalling ‘12 Years A Slave’ Posters
By The Deadline Team – BIM Distribuzione has officially apologized for the 12 Years A Slave posters in Italy that featured more Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender than the film’s main star Chiwetel Ejiofor – ones that were unauthorized by Summit and Lionsgate.

OSCARS: Sundance Selects Ramps Up ‘Blue Is The Warmest Color’ Star’s Best Actress Bid (Video)
By Pete Hammond – At just 19 years old, new French acting sensation Adele Exarchopoulos became the youngest winner ever of the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or when the jury — led by Steven Spielberg — made an unprecedented move this past spring. Read More »

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‘The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug’ Breaks Box Office Record Down Under

By | Thursday December 26, 2013 @ 3:25pm PST

tauriel-kicks-ass-in-new-tv-spot-for-the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug-watch-now-149430-a-1385366847The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug is off to a smash hit start in Australia having opened on Boxing Day (December 26th) — a national holiday observed by most of the country. The sequel, which dominated the box office with a 60% market share of the top 5 films, grossed an estimated $4.9M in U.S. dollars from 629 screens. It holds the distinction as the second-biggest Boxing Day opening of all time, finishing 7% behind The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It also ranks as the biggest Thursday opening in Australia. Warner Bros’ Desolation Of Smaug opened about 10 days earlier in New Zealand (where Peter Jackson is making the Hobbit trilogy) with a four-day gross of $1.85M from 201 screens. That also logged a 10% higher box office gross than An Unexpected Journey’s record-breaking showing a year earlier. Smaug also gave the studio its biggest-ever weekend opening in Russia and opened in the top spot there with an estimated $18.8M from 2,115 screens, tracking ahead of the original. It has been No. 1 in Germany and has been outperforming the original Hobbit there and in France. The total take in the UK alone is more than $32M.

Related: Christmas Day Box Office: ‘Hobbit’ No. 1, ‘Wolf’ Gives Chase Read More »

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Global Showbiz Watch 20 – The Overseas Oscar Shortlist Shakeout Podcast

Global Showbiz Watch podcast 20Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione and host David Bloom talk in their latest podcast about which films survived the record-setting competition for Oscar’s best foreign-language feature to make the shortlist, as well as surprise exclusions such as The Past and Wadjda.

They also look at the week’s international box office, led by a still-scorching The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug but also by a surprisingly strong showing from the second Anchorman movie, even as Bollywood product Dhoom 3 sets yet more global records for an Indian-made film; a Chinese court’s troubling verdict for a troubling case of copycat violence based on a children’s cartoon; and J.K. Rowling’s next Harry Potter project, headed to the London stage.

Global Showbiz Watch podcast 20 (.MP3 version)
Global Showbiz Watch podcast 20 (.M4A version)
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International Box Office Update: ‘Desolation Of Smaug’ Adds $97.4M To Edge Ahead of First ‘Hobbit’; ‘Anchorman 2′ Nearly Triples 1st Pic’s Total; ‘Dinosaurs’ Roam; ‘Dhoom’ Vrooms; ‘About Time’ Record; More

International box office highlights: Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug added $97.4M in its second outing for a $278.4M cume; now running neck-and-neck with An Unexpected Journey. The studio had a record opening in Russia and has been given a China release date of February 21st. Paramount’s Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was the biggest overseas opening weekend ever for a Will Ferrell movie with $13.4M in six territories, almost tripling the first movie’s $5M international career total. Fox’s Walking With Dinosaurs landed $13.8M in 40 markets on its debut. Universal’s 47 Ronin bowed No. 1 in Malaysia for an estimated $1.1M at 91 dates, beating its Japanese start two weeks ago of $1.05M at 333 locations. The same studio’s About Time is now the biggest foreign romantic comedy ever in Korea and the studio’s biggest film in the territory this year. India’s Dhoom 3 broke records at home and abroad.

smaugUPDATE: MONDAY, 12:30 PM: Final numbers are arriving to show that The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug actually brought in a higher gross than estimated with a total haul of $97.4M from 16,840 screens in 56 markets, representing a drop of -42% from last weekend’s opening.  The international cume to date is now $278.4M and it has edged ahead of the first Hobbit (in the same markets at the same point in release). The worldwide cume is now $406M. Studio expectations are that the sequel will ultimately gross very close to the first Hobbit when all is said and done. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ended with a total international cume of $714.M. The other WBros.’ title in the marketplace, Gravity, also ended up slightly more — $4.1M from 1,769 screens in 32 markets.  The international cume to date of $398.8M for Desolation of Smaug now stands just a smidgen higher than its weekend estimate. It currently ranks number one in the UK, Germany, France and Spain in its second weekend. It is still yet to open in Australia (Dec. 26), China (Feb. 21) and Japan (Feb. 28). Totals for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire were higher than estimated. In 86 markets, it took in another $12.2M for a total cume of $394.5M.

The weekend overall was down across distributors by about 27% versus last weekend, but only 9% versus last year, data indicates. According to international estimates, Warner BrosThe Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug was the big performer overseas in its 2nd frame, adding $96M on 16,830 screens across 56 markets. The estimated haul was a 43% drop from last weekend’s opening and gives the film a $276.3M cume for parity with 2012′s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the same point in release in the same markets.

anchorman 2Among the new openers, Paramount‘s Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues had the biggest debut weekend internationally for a Will Ferrell movie. The sequel to 2004′s Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy opened in six territories outside North America and brought in an estimated $13.4M. That’s kind of a big deal when compared to the first film whose career total overseas was $5M. Ferrell is better-known now outside the States than in 2004, and with the promotional push the movie has gotten this time around, it was a safe bet the follow-up would outperform. Its five-day opening gross in the UK is estimated at $7.4M, or 725% better than the first installment, Paramount says. Australia opened at No. 1 with $5.2M from 243 theaters, nearly seven times the first Anchorman. In New Zealand, the film opened at 64 locations for $480K, slotting in at No. 2 behind the homegrown The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug. With $200K at 54 locations in Sweden, Anchorman 2 bested the entire $24K lifetime gross of the first film on its opening day (does it help that Ferrell’s wife is Swedish?). The next international territory to open will be Germany in late January. Latin America opens in early February.

Walking-With-Dinosaurs-The-3D-MovieFox‘s Walking With Dinosaurs roamed for the first time this weekend, breaking into 40 markets for a total estimated haul of $13.8M from 7,576 screens. Of those 40 markets, six are non-Fox distributed. Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale directed the CG/live-action movie that’s based on the 1999 BBC miniseries and a live touring show that was seen by more than 8 million people around the world. The 3D movie was originally financed by Reliance, and Fox picked up U.S. and other international rights back in 2010. The story is set 70 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period and follows the adventures of an underdog dino named Patchi. The voice cast includes John Leguizamo, Justin Long, Tiya Sircar and Skyler Stone. This weekend, the film claimed the No. 2 or No. 3 market share position in most bows. Read More »

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TNT Picks Up ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ TV Rights

By | Monday December 23, 2013 @ 9:47am PST
Nellie Andreeva

Hobbit-Desolation-of-Smaug-Bilbo-medFX has been picking up virtually every tentpole movie over the past couple of years. But The Lord Of The Rings franchise has been a TNT property, and the network just added the latest title, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, which finished No. 1 in the domestic boxoffice this weekend and has brought in $127.5 million domestically and $403.8 million worldwide in 10 days of release. Turner’s ties with Warner Bros., which is behind the J.R.R. Tolkien movie adaptations, help it secure the Lord Of the Rings trilogy, with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring premiering on TNT in 2004. The network followed with the premieres of The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers in 2005 and Best Picture Oscar winner The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King in 2006. The first film in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, makes its debut on TNT in 2015. It will be followed by The Desolation Of Smaug in 2016. “TNT has been the primary television home to Tolkien’s Middle Earth for nearly a decade,” said TNT president Michael Wright. “We’re proud to continue our association with these extraordinary and enormously popular epics with the acquisition of The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug.”

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Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

Miss Deadline’s top film stories? Catch up now:

Ant-Man Paul RuddIs ‘Anchorman’s Paul Rudd Superhero Material? ‘Ant-Man’ In The Offing
By Mike Fleming Jr. – The long-rumored crowning of Paul Rudd as Ant-Man is finally happening. He is Marvel’s choice to star as the title character in the Edgar Wright-directed film.

Warner Bros Sets ‘Gilligan’s Island’ As Star Feature Vehicle For Josh Gad
By Mike Fleming Jr.EXCLUSIVE: Remember Gilligan’s Island, the venerable 1960s TV series about seven castaways who wind up stranded on a tropical island after a torrential storm shipwrecks their yacht The S.S. Minnow? Warner Bros is charting a course for a feature film based on the series.

OSCARS: Nine Films On Foreign Language Shortlist; ‘The Past’, ‘Wadjda’ Miss Cut
By Nancy Tartaglione – Last weekend, I profiled 15 films that had a lot of heat ahead of the Foreign Language Oscar shortlist unveiling today. Of those 15 (plus a handful of wildcards), seven have ended up among the Academy’s nine selections that will move on to the second round of voting.

anchorman-2__131123195832-275x187BOX OFFICE: Paramount Stretching Estimates As ‘Hobbit’ No. 1, ‘Anchorman 2,’ Lead
By Anita Busch – Gotta take Paramount Pictures to task with their inflated estimates for the five-day estimated gross for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. There’s not a distributor in town who agrees that the five-day number will hit $40M. Read More »

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Global Showbiz Watch 19: The Long List Is Getting Short Podcast

Global Showbiz Watch podcast 19Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione talks with host David Bloom about the imminent shakeout in the mammoth list of 76 films vying to join a nine-title shortlist for Oscar’s Best Foreign Language Feature category, a list that includes such highly regarded notables as The Hunt, The Grandmaster, The Past, and The Grand BeautyThey also take a tour around the week’s international box office returns, which were dominated by a halfling’s hot date with a fire-breathing dragon and livened by a suddenly voracious German market; discuss what impact big new tax breaks may have had in encouraging Jim Cameron to take his Na’vi to New Zealand for three Avatar sequels; and celebrate the recent rediscovery of two short films featuring Peter Sellers at a crucial transition early in his extraordinary career.

Global Showbiz Watch episode 19 (.MP3 version)
Global Showbiz Watch episode 19 (.M4A version)
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UPDATE: Overseas Box Office: ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ Bests 1st Pic; ‘Gravity’ Pulls In Japan; ‘Frozen’ Melts Russia

the-hobbit-desolation-of-smaug-gold-pile-970x04TH UPDATE MONDAY 1:45 PM, PT: Box office for the top 10 international films this weekend was up versus last weekend, but according to industry data, it’s 25% down on the same frame in 2012. On both occasions there was a Hobbit movie at the theaters, but the discrepancy doesn’t come from how this year’s Warner Bros sequel, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, is faring compared to An Unexpected Journey: The new film is performing 3% ahead overseas. Instead, there were two non-Hollywood movies that goosed overseas box office this time last year: Lost In Thailand and One Piece Film: Z. Lost In Thailand, you’ll recall, was the mega-hit out of China that broke records in its late 2012 debut and went on to be the highest-grossing Chinese film ever with over $200M in takings. One Piece Film: Z, based on a popular manga, opened in Japan last year with $16.34M. Also last year, Skyfall was still sleuthing its way around the globe and Rise Of The Guardians was raising coin in its 5th week.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug was the big story of the weekend, rolling out in 49 markets since last Wednesday. Its international haul has come in higher than Sunday’s estimates with an overseas cume of $135.4M. It ranked No. 1 in each of its openings on about 16,405 screens and drew 3% more than An Unexpected Journey. Another Warner Bros film, Gravity, had a super opening in Japan, while Disney’s Frozen melted the Russian box office and Sony’s Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 was bright and shiny in Venezuela and Australia. Here are some of the notable happenings around the globe this weekend:

Gravity had a lot of traction in Japan where it bowed to $3.6M on 544 screens. 3D reps over 78% of the total box office. The film opened in the No. 2 spot behind local hit Lupin III Vs Detective Conan. Also in Japan, Universal’s 47 Ronin brought in another $485K at 331 dates for a 10-day total of $2.8M. The Keanu Reeves samurai pic that has been a disappointment in the territory, next opens in Malaysia and Singapore on December 19th and Indonesia on December 20th. A further 23 territories including Spain and the UK will open day-and-date with North America on Christmas weekend. Catching Fire opens in Japan on December 27th. Smaug goes out in 2014 as does Disney’s Thor: The Dark World. Read More »

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BOX OFFICE FINAL: Weather Impacts BO But Attendance Up Overall Year To Date; ‘The Hobbit’ Lighter But Strong, ‘Frozen’ Steals ‘Madea Christmas’ As ‘American Hustle’ Kicks It On Six Screens

BoxOffice_logo3RD UPDATE, 1:40 PM: Every Monday, we run the final numbers for the Top 20 for the weekend so an accurate accounting can be seen by all. Sony reported this morning that due to a computer glitch, the final per-screen numbers for American Hustle, which played on six screen this weekend, were actually $123,409 not $113,000 as it previously reported. Interesting, too, is that PLF’s (led by 92 Cinemark XD in the U.S.) and IMAX accounted for roughly $15.47M of Warner Bros./MGM’s The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug. Here is the final Top 10 from Rentrak — the full Top 20 list is at the bottom of the post.

Related: Overseas Box Office: ‘The Hobbit’ Bests 1st Pic; ‘Gravity’ Pulls In Japan; ‘Frozen’ Melts Russia

1.  The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, Warner Bros., $73,645,197, 3,903 locations, $18,869 average, $73,645,197, 1 week.

2.  Frozen, Disney, $22,568,138, 3,716 locations, $6,073 average, $164,772,211, 4 weeks.

3. Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, Lionsgate, $16,007,634, 2,194 locations, $7,296 average, $16,007,634, 1 week.

4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Lionsgate, $13,671,666, 3,563 locations, $3,837 average, $357,503,663, 4 weeks.

5. Thor: The Dark World, Disney, $2,820,055, 2,264 locations, $1,246 average, $198,245,744, 6 weeks.

6. Out Of The Furnace,”Relativity Media, $2,425,978, 2,101 locations, $1,155 average, $9,574,440, 2 weeks.

7. Delivery Man, Disney, $1,968,891, 2,041 locations, $965 average, $28,091,575, 4 weeks.

8. Philomena, The Weinstein Company, $1,820,479, 835 locations, $2,180 average, $11,083,457, 4 weeks.

9. The Book Thief, 20th Century Fox, $1,734,679, 1,158 locations, $1,498 average, $14,936,447, 6 weeks.

10. Homefront, Open Road, $1,706,286, 2,103 locations, $811 average, $18,507,155, 3 weeks.

BOX OFFICE THUMBNAIL: Weather impacts this weekend, Attendance overall up from last year: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Warner Bros, wide) playing to lighter numbers than last year’s first installment of the trilogy; Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas (Lionsgate, wide) looks to be lowest opening for a Madea title; American Hustle (Sony, limited) very strong per screens; Saving Mr. Banks (Disney, limited) not banking; Inside Llewyn Davis (CBS Films, expanded to 15 locales) per screens falling fast; Hours starring the late Paul Walker (Pantelion Films – joint venture between Lionsgate and Grupo Televisa– limited in 16 theaters and on VOD).

2ND UPDATE, SUNDAY, 9:20 AM: The severe weather across the nation – winter storms across 23 states and 100 million people – also impacted the nation’s box office this weekend. It seems to have affected the older pictures most. That being said, I will post the newcomers and top five first and then update again with the rest of the pack. Overall, year-to-date attendance is up and expected to surpass $10.7 billion (which was last year’s total). Responding to feedback from readers, will highlight numbers for easier reading.

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug brought in around another $24.4M on Saturday after a Friday haul of $31.1M and is expected at $73.6M (according to WB) for its debut weekend, industry estimates show. The Warner Bros./MGM franchise played on 3,903 theaters for a per screen of around $18,700. The IMAX numbers for Hobbit accounted for about 12.5% of the national gross or about $9.18M in 344 locales. All top 10 locations for Hobbit have IMAX screens. Internationally, The Hobbit has brought in $205M so far for the studio.

“Our suburban business was severely off last night due to the inclement weather,” said Dan Fellman, president of distribution for Warner Bros. Other veteran distributors also noted this, citing up to 50% drops last night in east coast theaters vs. 20% drops in L.A. theaters.

Frozen, the animated family film from the Walt Disney Co., held a solid second place this weekend up about 101% from Friday (family pics traditionally excel on Saturdays) to bring in another $10M in 3,716 theaters and estimates for the weekend are now around $22.3M to $22.7M for the three-day. That would bring its cume up to around $164 million in its four weeks of release. It’s per is about $6,000.

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas from Lionsgate was up 10% from Friday with an estimated take of between $15.8M and $15.9M, a far cry from other outings for the pic which in the past have opened to at least $25M. This is the first time the picture has opened in this time-frame pre-Christmas. It is in 2,194 theaters for an estimated per screen of roughly $7,200. This is Tyler Perry’s and Lionsgate’s 16th collaboration and marks its 8th Madea film together.

American Hustle, which bowed in only six theaters in N.Y and L.A., continued to do well on Saturday night for Sony, adding another $270,000 to bring its estimated weekend per screen total to around $113,000 its debut weekend. Very strong numbers. Up around 30% from Friday night. Estimates have the total gross hovering around the $700,000 mark. The critically-acclaimed picture will go wide next weekend in around 2,500 theaters.

Sony notes that the opening is higher than director David O. Russell’s two previous films, The Fighter (which had a $75,000 average and went on to make $93.6M in domestic  box office and 34.5M overseas) and Silver Linings Playbook $27,687; that went onto make $132M domestically). Both films, likewise, rode critical acclaim and positive word-of-mouth right into Oscar season.

“It’s an incredible start for an incredible film,” said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Sony Pictures. “I think David O’Russell created a film that gives crazy, cool performances that will be savored for years to come.” Those who have seen the picture that I know are planning to go back and see it again. So expect some repeat business and a long tail for this entertaining romp.

Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, on 15 screens in its first weekend out in limited release, was up around %29 from Friday and its per screen averages are running anywhere from $26,000 to $28,000 in estimates right now for the three-day. It rolls out wide next weekend in a marketplace that looks to be packed.

Fourth place is another Lionsgate franchise, Hunger Games: Catching Fire with an estimated Saturday take of anywhere between $5.7M and $5.8M so the three-day puts it at around $13.2M to $13.4M to bring its cume up to about $357M. In 3,663 locales, it has a per screen of around $3,700. Internationally, Lionsgate has the film grossing an estimated $19.5M from 83 markets, so that brings the total international cume to $372.9 million. With the domestic added in, that pushes it to around $730M worldwide in just four weeks of release.

Thor: A Dark World from Disney took in another $1.2M on Saturday and should finish the weekend with another $2.7 million or so to bring its overall cume to around $198M. It is in its sixth week of release. Read More »

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BOX OFFICE: ‘The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug’ Grosses $8.8M In Midnight Shows, Faces Different Marketplace This Year

Hobbit Desolation Of Smaug Box OfficeWarner Bros.’ The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug generated $8.8 million from midnight screenings. The studio is calling it “the second biggest midnight numbers ever in December.” Last year, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey brought in about $13 million in a similar number of theaters at midnight.

Now, this reminds me of something I haven’t thought about in a long, long time but could use a mention: The studios are always looking for SOMEthing to tout … SOME way to use the box office to tout its numbers. When this first started years ago, we used to roll our eyes as we’d be told things like, “It’s the second biggest five-day opening for a May.” Everything can be spun, right? Such as, “the second biggest midnight in the South during an election year” or “it’s the highest box office three-day during a leap year.”

Though Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug’s midnight numbers are not ones for the record books, the fact is it is still on track for a big opening this weekend (estimates are around $80 million today) in a crowded marketplace that is very different environment from last year, when theaters had Lincoln and the ending run of Twilight pulling in small numbers. This weekend Hobbit has two very strong contenders in the marketplace for box office dollars with the family film Frozen and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire“We had a fan base that was drooling to see … Read More »

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