A new version of The Abominable Snowman is getting underway courtesy of British horror label Hammer and producer Ben Holden (The Quiet Ones, The Woman In Black: Angel Of Death). The screenplay, by Pusher scribe Matthew Read and Angel Of Death‘s Jon Croker, puts a contemporary twist on the 1957 original which hails from Hammer’s own archives. That film starred Forrest Tucker, Peter Cushing and Maureen Connell and followed a British scientist who joins an American expedition in the Himalayas as they search for the legendary yeti. The new film will be a modern take on the yeti myth and see an expedition’s illegal ascent up a formidable, unclimbed peak which accidentally awakens an ancient creature. Depending on when this film goes, it could tie into the current zeitgeist for Himalayan climbing projects that includes two studio-backed Everest movies and Fox’s Everest event series. Hammer has had a resurgence in the past few years with films like 2010′s Let Me In and 2012′s The Woman In Black. Its 2014 slate includes the Jared Harris-starrer The Quiet Ones and Woman In Black sequel, Angel Of Death. Abominable Snowman falls in line with the label’s plans to reimagine its own source material for new audiences.
War Horse‘s Jeremy Irvine and British actress Phoebe Fox (Switch) will star in Hammer’s follow-up to The Woman In Black. Tom Harper is directing The Woman In Black: Angel Of Death, which picks up 40 years after the original film that starred Daniel Radcliffe and grossed $130M worldwide. The new story is set during World War II after the government has seized the eerie Eel Marsh House and a group of evacuated children arrives to awaken its scary tenant. Jon Croker, a story editor on the first film, wrote the screenplay. Exclusive has international sales and will introduce the title to buyers at Cannes. EOne will co-finance and distribute in the UK, Spain and Canada.
The British Film Institute has released box office and production stats for the UK in 2012 that offer up a mix of good, bad and unsurprising news. Box office was up just a touch after being dented by summer events that turned attention away from the multiplex. At the same time, investment from abroad dropped drastically after a record 2011 that included the shoots of The Dark Knight Rises, Dark Shadows, Skyfall, Prometheus, Snow White And The Huntsman, World War Z and Wrath Of The Titans.
The overall UK spend of features that started production in 2012 was £927M ($1.47B), a 29% drop on 2011’s record-breaking £1.29B. A total of 26 so-called inward investment movies, including Warner Bros.’ All You Need Is Kill, Red 2 for Lionsgate/Summit, Paramount’s Jack Ryan and Universal’s Fast And Furious 6 and Kick Ass 2, contributed £631M compared to the 34 films in 2011 which spent £1B. Simon Oakes, producer of 2012′s top indie, Woman In Black, thinks the trend is cyclical. “I don’t think this is a forever stat. We’ll probably see this year that it will come back up again. Look, if there was an intention not to spend money by the U.S. studios in the UK, Warner Bros. wouldn’t have spent money on Leavesden,” Oakes tells me about the £100M+ Warner invested on a London-adjacent studio facility after the end of the Harry Potter franchise.
Hammer’s The Woman In Black series is giving another sophomore helmer a shot. Tom Harper, who’ll direct follow-up Angel Of Death, has mostly worked in UK TV with 2009′s The Scouting Book For Boys his only feature. Before James Watkins directed this year’s $130M-grossing Daniel Radcliffe-starrer Woman In Black, he had only one feature under his belt, too. Angel Of Death has yet to cast but will reunite the entire production team from the original. The new film is set 40 years after Woman In Black during World War II, when the government has seized the eerie Eel Marsh House and a group of evacuated children arrive to awaken its scary tenant. Exclusive Media, Talisman, Cross Creek Pictures and Alliance Films are producing and Roy Lee of Vertigo is exec producing.
Here’s another new company on the growing list of ventures involving veteran execs to be formed in recent months. Optimum founder Will Clarke, former Exclusive Media managing director Andy Mayson and former Pathé International exec Mike Runagall have jointly created UK-based Altitude Film Entertainment. It’s described as a “vertically integrated film company focusing on production, financing and international sales and with a strong commercial outlook” and with “the financial capability to get projects off the ground.” Clarke and Mayson are joint CEOs with Runagall managing director of Altitude Film Sales. The first partnerships are with directors James Watkins (The Woman In Black), Owen Harris (Holy Flying Circus) and Ben Craig (Modern Times) along with playwright Matt Charman and producer Gregor Cameron. With Watkins, Altitude is developing The Loch, a new take on the Loch Ness myth. Altitude is also teaming with Cameron and Harris to make Kill Your Friends, set in the Britpop era of the late 90s and based on John Niven’s novel. Finally, it’s producing Ben Craig and Matt Charman’s action adventure Mythica.
There’s more life in hit horror pic The Woman In Black. Hammer, Alliance Films and Cross Creek Pictures are teaming with Woman In Black author Susan Hill on The Woman In Black: Angels Of Death. The story will continue the tale of the character created by Hill, 40 years later. Jon Croker, who worked as a story editor on the first film, has been tapped to pen the next installment which is being developed by Hammer and Talisman Productions and produced by Hammer parent company Exclusive Media, Talisman, Cross Creek and Alliance. Roy Lee of Vertigo Entertainment is executive producing. The first film, set in the early 1900s, starred Daniel Radcliffe as a young lawyer sent to a remote corner of the UK to sort out the papers of a recently deceased client. At Eel Marsh House, he discovers the vengeful ghost of The Woman in Black. The new picture will focus on a couple and the experience they have when they encounter the same eerie house. Director and cast have yet to be announced. Alliance’s UK distribution arm Momentum Pictures released The Woman In Black earlier this year with the film taking $33 million at the local box office and becoming the highest grossing British horror film of the past 2 decades. It recently crossed the $120 million box office mark worldwide.
Enjoying a resurgence with The Woman In Black, venerable British horror studio Hammer has chosen the Cinema And Television History (CATH) Research Centre at the UK’s Leicester De Montfort University to house its script archive. The CATH center will catalogue and curate a collection that includes screenplays from most of the studio’s film and TV productions from 1947-1990 along with extensive corporate paperwork, correspondence and other ephemera. This is the first time the archive will be opened to public research and study. Last month, Hammer announced a global restoration project for its library of films in partnership with Studiocanal, Pinewood and other international players and with the participation of 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros and Paramount. The studio was founded in 1934 and has produced such films as Frankenstein Created Woman,
‘Chronicle’ Tackles ‘Woman In Black’ For #1; Both Overperform For $22M Vs $21M Super Bowl Weekend; ‘Big Miracle’ Bombs $8.5M
Feb. 3-5 Weekend Actuals
1. Chronicle (Fox) NEW [2,907 Theaters] PG13
Friday $8.6M, Saturday $10.1M, Sunday $3.3M, Weekend $22M
2. The Woman in Black (CBS Films) NEW [2,855 Theaters] PG13
Friday $8.3M, Saturday $9.6M, Sunday $2.9M, Weekend $20.9M
3. The Grey (Open Road) Week 2 [3,207 Theaters] R
Friday $3.1M, Saturday $4.8M, Sunday $1.4M, Weekend $9.3M (-53%), Cume $34.6M
4. Big Miracle (Universal) NEW [2,129 Theaters] PG
Friday $2.3M, Saturday $3.9M, Sunday $1.6M, Weekend $7.8M
5. Underworld Awakening (Screen Gems/Sony) Week 3 [2,636 Theaters] R
Friday $1.7M, Saturday $2.7M, Sunday $1.1M, Weekend $5.5M (-56%), Cume $54.3M
6. One For The Money (Lionsgate) Week 2 [2,737 Theaters] PG13
Friday $1.7M, Saturday $2.6M, Sunday $911K Weekend $5.1M (-55%), Cume $19.6M
7. Red Tails (LucasFilm/Fox) Week 3 [2,347 Theaters] PG13
Friday $1.5M, Saturday $2.6M, Sunday $666K, Weekend $4.7M (-54%), Cume $41.2M
8. The Descendants (Fox Searchlight) Week 12 [2,038 Theaters] R
Friday $1.4M, Saturday $2.4M, Sunday $731K, Weekend $4.6M (-29%), Cume $65.5M
9. Man on A Ledge (Summit) Week 2 [2,998 Theaters] PG13
Friday $1.5M, Saturday $2.2M, Sunday $621K, Weekend $4.4M (-46%), Cume $14.6M
10. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Warner Bros) Week 7 [2,505 Theaters] PG13
Friday $1.2M, Saturday $2M, Sunday $609K, Weekend $3.8M (-46%), Cume $26.7M
SUNDAY AM, 5TH UPDATE: I’m back in front of the computer tonight. It’s been a bigger-than-predicted box office this Super Bowl weekend — $110M moviegoing overall which is +33% from last year as February starts out hotter than tracking showed for these low-budget genre films. Friday night numbers seesawed into the wee hours of Saturday morning until Fox’s scifi found-footage spectacle Chronicle came out ahead by $300,000 over CBS FIlms’ Daniel Radcliffe thriller The Woman In Black. By Sunday Fox is clearly #1 for the weekend with grosses $22M vs $21M respectively. Trust me, no one in Hollywood projected either movie would get near $20M so this gives new meaning to the term ‘overperform’. Best, both films are a low-cost/high-reward bonanza for the two studios, especially because budgets were kept low as well as the marketing spends. Better yet, both films managed to attract the elusive young audiences who were missing for the last six months of 2011. ”What is great is that young people went to both movies in droves,” an exec tells me. Though it’s the weekend’s biggest budget debut, Universal’s Big Miracle is a disappointment – only an $8.1M weekend which is less than the $10M execs hoped for. Last week’s big winner, Open Road’s The Grey, is showing a solid hold. Full analysis coming.
Top 10 (based on weekend gross)
1. Chronicle (Fox) NEW [2,907 Theaters]
Friday $8.6M, Saturday $10.2M, Weekend $22M
Fox Filmed Entertainment chief Tom Rothman is one of the more controversial execs in Hollywood. When he gets it wrong, he gets it very very wrong. But when he gets it right, others copy him. I’m told that Rothman had a specific POV going into Chronicle: something original and fresh and strong that connected with young audiences who’ve been missing from the multiplexes during 2011. And he wanted it made with new storytellers and new actors. Now this weekend’s good reviews, ‘B’ CinemaScore, and young-skewing numbers (exit polls show 57% of filmgoers were under 25) indicate Mission Accomplished. Another in a successful line of found footage movies since 1999′s The Blair Witch Project, little 84-minute and mild PG-13 Chronicle cost just $12 million to make in South Africa and Canada with tax credits is from first-time director Josh Trank who also directed some scenes for the Paranormal Activity 2 DVD and screenwriter Max Landis, the son of infamous John Landis. Produced by John Davis and Adam Schroeder, the film plays like a personal documentary from an unseen amateur filmmaker as it chronicles the story of 3 teen angsters with telekinetic powers. Best of all, the pic takes aim at smug Seattle. Fox was hoping to open to an $8M weekend, so the $22M result should make the arrogant Rothman even more insufferable. His studio owns international, too, where it will top the UK, Australia, others. How it’ll fare on Super Bowl Sunday remains the only question mark, but Fox stresses that the audience is not just males. (And the big game, by the way, has a 50/50 male/female audience.)
There’s so much interesting, not the least of which is the marketing. Fox sold the movie with zero newspaper ads. And used Twitter quotes instead of review quotes, even though reviews were strong. There also was an all-Skype press junket tapping into the tech theme from the movie. The first trailer on YouTube garnered more than 6 million views in a week and extraordinary social feedback. After the trailer launched on MTV.com in October, Fox found that the conversations/engagements it spawned was more than 15 million interactions in just 2 days on Facebook. (“That’s like everyone in greater LA talking about Chronicle 15 weeks before they can see it in theaters,” an exec tells me. “This was a huge signal for how people were responding to the materials.” The recent viral stunt – ‘Flying Teens’ on YouTube – exceeded all expectations and video was featured on national and local news outlets. Online influencers played a huge part: in early January Fox held a digital press summit and debuted never-before-seen footage to a select group of digital press. A custom film-themed video was released by DeStorm called “If DeStorm Had Telekinesis” which included a cameo of that other YouTube star Mystery Guitar Man. On January 8th during the Atlanta Falcons-New York Giants game, Fox sponsored the first ever motion picture-themed QR-coded “billboard” which flashed onto TV screens.
2. The Woman in Black (CBS Films) NEW [2,855 Theaters]
Friday $8.3M, Saturday $9.5M, Weekend $21M
“Little scrappy CBS flms definitely seems in a better place because it did so much more with so much less,” a rival exec tells me. “Less people… Less money… Less of everything except Tom Rothman bellowing.” Then again Les Moonves is no wallflower and he’s seeing some light at the end of his movie-side tunnel. CBS Films acquired the U.S. distribution rights to gothic horror The Woman in Black for just $3M, aggressively beating out bidders that included Summit, The Weinstein Co, and Relativity. Then kept its marketing spend to only $14M under guru Terry Press. It’s all part of the struggling film studio’s newly aggressive business plan of acquisitions under COO Wolfgang Hammer. And it’s working: this third acquisition deal is CBS Films’ first hit. (Best previous opening was The Back-Up Plan‘s meager $12.2M.) Audiences gave pic a so-so ’B-’ CinemaScore but it didn’t matter. Now all studios should take another look at Daniel Radcliffe who clearly has an enormous following and strong post-Harry Potter drawing power. After ubiquitously stumping for the film, Radcliffe may well be responsible for this pic skewing younger. Not only hasn’t he slept since December, but he did a ton of interviews all while doing two shows a day in How To Succeed In Business On Broadway. The vast majority of social media chatter about the film mentions Radcliffe, and CBS Films connected with his existing fan base for the strongest Facebook and Twitter numbers for any film opening this weekend.
Director James Watkins (Britain’s Eden Lake) helmed a script by X-Men: First Class scribe Jane Goldman based on a 1983 novel by Susan Hill that was previously turned into a hit stage play and 1989 miniseries. The film is a co-production between Cross Creek Pictures, Hammer Films, and Alliance Films and produced by Simon Oakes, Richard Jackson, and Brian Oliver. (The initial impetus: Oakes, President/CEO of Hammer, was in the process of re-launching the historic brand.) Marketing began with a 60-second trailer on Twilight Saga’s Breaking Dawn Part 1 to reach women. “We identified our target of young females and didn’t waste a single dollar,” one exec tells me. “We knew we had a movie that played so we let screenings and publicity attract the other three quadrants.” The film unit made the most if its access to CBS promotional support (on TV and online) which is worth more than gold these days.
3. The Grey (Open Road) Week 2 [3,207 Theaters]
Friday $3.1M, Saturday $4.8M, Weekend $9.5M (-52%), Est Cume $34.6M
4. Big Miracle (Universal) NEW [2,129 Theaters]
Friday $2.2M, Saturday $3.9M, Weekend $8.1M
Why does anyone hire Drew Barrymore for anything? She’s box office poison. Just hearing her screeching through that trailer was torture to my ears. (Though a studio exec told me it was one of the better testing.) And didn’t anyone understand that crusty grey whales are not cute? Geez, get a clue. With the biggest budget of this weekend’s opening films — $40M — the Working Title film came in $2M less than ever the studio’s low expectations. Universal was so embarrassed that it didn’t even bother to give me a marketing report. This pic was all about counterprogramming the Super Bowl and its campaign obviously targeted moms and girls who would most likely interested in this true-life adventure tale. The film also opened in Russia and Portugal this weekend and begins rolling out in the rest of the world on February 9th. Not much else to say about yet another Uni disappointment.
A new, more tightly edited trailer for The Woman In Black doesn’t skimp on the chills in store for Daniel Radcliffe when he travels to an isolated village to settle a deceased client’s affairs. James Watkins directs from a script by Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, The Debt, X-Men: First Class, Stardust) adapted from Susan Hill’s novel. Janet McTeer also stars in the CBS Films release slated to open February 3.
Harry Potter not creepy enough? In this thriller based on a novel by Susan Hill adapted by Jane Goldman (among the credited scribes on Kick-Ass, The Debt and X-Men: First Class) Daniel Radcliffe plays a solicitor who treks to an isolated village to settle a deceased client’s affairs. Bad things happen when the title character materializes in an upper window of the goosebump-inducing mansion. Janet McTeer also stars in the CBS Films release slated to open February 3.
CBS Films’ The Woman In Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe as a lawyer who travels to a remote English village and discovers that the ghost of a scorned woman is terrorizing the locals, opens Feb. 3. James Watkins directed a script by X-Men: First Class scribe Jane Goldman. Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer co-star in the horror thriller, a remake of a 1989 TV movie that was adapted from a play that was adapted from Susan Hill’s novel.
Fox Searchlight has changed the release date of its Alexander Payne-directed The Descendants. The comedic drama starring George Clooney and Judy Greer was slated for limited release Dec. 16, 2011 but has been moved up to Nov. 23. That gets the pic away from Warner Bros’ new Sherlock Holmes movie but also the Weinstein Co’s Meryl Streep-starrer The Iron Lady, which could be seeking the same audience. Now Descendants‘ toughest direct competition on the new date might be another Weinstein pic, the Cannes hit The Artist. On Wednesday, Paramount moved Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol from Dec. 16 to Dec. 21.
Also, CBS Films has shifted the date on The Woman in Black from Jan. 20, 2012 to Feb. 3, 2012. The thriller stars Daniel Radcliffe as a lawyer who travels to a remote village and discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorizing the locals.
EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to The Woman in Black, the gothic horror thriller that stars Harry Potter‘s Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer and Shaun Dooley. I’m still pulling together the facts on this one, but I’m told that CBS Films moved aggressively to beat out bidders that included Summit Entertainment, The Weinstein Company and Relativity Media.
It becomes the third acquisition deal for the increasingly aggressive CBS Films, following The Mechanic and Gambit, the Michael Hoffman-directed film that began production today with Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz starring.
Radcliffe plays a young lawyer who travels to a remote village, where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman who is terrifying the locals. James Watkins directed a script by X-Men: First Class scribe Jane Goldman. The film is based on a 1983 novel by Susan Hill that was previously turned into a hit stage play and 1989 miniseries.
Daniel Radcliffe isn’t waiting to take his final Harry Potter bows to extend his career into adulthood. Saw him on Broadway in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, and he is quite good onstage. Now, Momentum Films and Exclusive Media Group’s Hammer has released a teaser trailer for Radcliffe’s first post-Potter feature, The Woman In Black. Radcliffe plays a young lawyer who travels to a mysterious house to settle the affairs of the spooky mansion’s owner. The film is eyeing a February 2012 release.
EXCLUSIVE: Hinds will play the local landowner who counsels Daniel Radcliffe as he investigates this Victorian mystery. Radcliffe and Hinds have just worked together on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, with Hinds playing Prof Dumbledore’s brother. McTeer will play Hinds’ on-screen wife, Mrs Daily. Based on the modern classic novel, The Woman In Black has been adapted by Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass), and will be directed by James Watkins (Eden Lake). Shooting begins September 23. Exclusive Media Group – parent company of producer Hammer Films – is co-financing with Canadian
EXCLUSIVE: Screenwriter Jane Goldman has signed with WME. The British scribe is best known for teaming with director Matthew Vaughn to write Stardust and Kick-Ass. They are now scribbling away on X-Men: First Class as Vaughn heads to the starting gate. They also scripted The Debt, the John Madden-directed drama that was just accepted into the Toronto Film Festival. Separately, she adapted the Susan Hill novel The Woman in Black, which James Watkins will direct this fall with Daniel Radcliffe starring. Goldman, who has an incredible track record for seeing her penned projects make it into production, continues to be repped in the UK by Independent. This is the first time she has had a Hollywood agent. WME also reps Vaughn.