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UPDATE: ‘Frozen’ Helps To Warm Disney Earnings In Fiscal Q2, And Beyond

By | Tuesday May 6, 2014 @ 1:19pm PDT

The Walt Disney Company logo

UPDATE: Will CEO Bob Iger ever stop talking about Frozen? Not for a long time, it seems. He told analysts in a conference call that the hit animated film recently accounted for nine of the 10 top selling items at Disney stores. The company is “taking a number of steps to increase the characters’ presence in theFrozen Disney parks” and will also appear in “other forms of story telling” including publishing and interactive. (Disney already announced its plan to take Frozen to Broadway.) The success story supported his theme that Disney’s so-called branded movies provide it with a rich film pipeline. That includes Star Wars. “It’s amazing what pent up demand there is.” Disney will feed it with at least three spin off films.

PREVIOUS, 1:19 PM: Shares are up slightly in post-market trading after the entertainment giant topped Wall Street earnings expectations, especially at the movie studio and theme parks. Disney reported net income of $1.92B for the first three months of the year, +26.7% vs the period last year, on revenues of $11.65B, +10.4%. Analysts expected the top line to come in at $11.24B. Earnings at $1.11 a share also topped forecasts for 96 cents. Cable networks revenues of $3.63B, +5%, were a shade lower than the consensus expectations but operating income increased 15% to $1.97B. The unit’s driver, ESPN, saw an increase in affiliate fees, and lower production costs, offsetting a drop in ad revenue. Sales at the ABC broadcasting operation were essentially flat at $1.50B but operating income was up 15% to $159M as retransmission consent fees compensated for a drop in primetime ad revenues. The Studio was the hero of the quarter with revenues +35% to $1.80B and operating income +302% to $475M. The company says that it benefited from home entertainment sales for Frozen and Thor: The Dark World as well as theatrical sales for Frozen. Theme parks also exceeded forecasts with revenue +8% to $3.56B and operating income +19% to $457M. Read More »

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2013 Most Valuable Blockbuster – #7 ‘Monsters University’ Vs. #10 ‘Thor: The Dark World’; #2 ‘Frozen’ Vs. #15 ‘The Great Gatsby’

Mike Fleming

The fourth of four posts today Frozen Thor: The Dark World Profitin Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament. The subsequent rounds will play out next week.

Other Matchups:
#1 ‘Iron Man 3′ Vs. #16 ‘The Conjuring’
#3 ‘Despicable Me 2′ Vs. #14 Star Trek Into Darkness’
#4 ‘Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug’ Vs. #13 ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’
#5 ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Vs. #12 ‘World War Z’
#6 ‘Fast & Furious 6′ Vs. #11 ‘The Croods’
#8 ‘Gravity’ Vs. #9 ‘Man Of Steel’

DeadlineBracket_1stRound

SWEET 16

#7 MONSTERS UNIVERSITY Vs. #10 THOR: THE DARK WORLD

Monsters-ThorHow They Got Here: Monsters University might well be the most stealthy of all the films that grossed more than three-quarters of a billion dollars worldwide. The film was the seventh-largest domestic grosser of the year, and did near double that abroad. Pixar’s representative in the tournament turned thorin the second-largest gross of all films from the John Lasseter hit machine, second-largest G-rated film, and is Pixar’s third biggest overall film ever. Thor: The Dark World continues the Marvel superhero juggernaut, and it did particularly well in China, Russia and the UK. While the hammer-wielding hero pales compared to Iron Man, the sequel bettered the original film in both domestic and overseas for a total tally of $645 million.

The Bottom Line: Thor 2 cost $170 million to make, per our experts, and because Marvel is so stingy to everyone but Robert Downey Jr, there are modest participations here that amount to around $12 million. Monsters University cost $200 million, and that include pricey paydays for returning voicers like John Goodman and Billy Crystal. Participations clocked in at around $13.5 million.

The Winner: Neither gains much of an edge because each is MonstersIncthe second installment of a franchise, though Thor 2 probably amps up expectations of the next installments of Marvel’s biggest jewel, The Avengers. So we go to the profit numbers. According to our experts, Monsters University will return $179.8 million to Disney, besting the $139.4 million that Thor 2 returns to Disney. Total cash-on-cash return edge goes to Monsters University, at 1.36 to the 1.32 turned in by Thor 2. Disney is the big winner here, but Monsters University advances.
Read More »

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Marvel Taps Senior Exec Craig Kyle To Co-Script Third ‘Thor’

By | Wednesday January 29, 2014 @ 4:30pm PST
Mike Fleming

thorMarvel Studios has proven to be worth Disney’s $4 billion acquisition by tapping its library for film franchises. Now, the company has found the writer of its third installment of Thor by looking inward. Craig Kyle, senior vice president of Production and Development for Marvel, has gotten the job of co-writing with Christopher Yost. It’s a good way to start his foray into full-time screenwriting, and he has been signed by CAA. Yost cowrote Thor: The Dark World with Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely from a story by Don Payne and Robert Rodat. That picture became Marvel’s highest grossing film behind The Avengers and Iron Man 3. Kevin Feige is producing. Kyle was exec producer of Thor: The Dark World and has worked in exec capacities at Marvel since 2001. Yost is repped by Verve and Industry.

“I am proud of Craig and have enjoyed working with him over these past years,” Feige said. “His creative instincts have helped shape Thor and Thor: The Dark World at every level of the filmmaking process. The entire team at Marvel is very happy to continue collaborating with Craig as he continues as a screenwriter working with Christopher on the forthcoming chapter of Thor’s adventure.”

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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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BOX OFFICE FINAL: ‘Frozen’ Catches Heat And Fire To Lead The Weekend; Coen Brothers’ ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Soars

5TH UPDATE, MONDAY PM: Here are today’s final Top 10 studio-reported actuals for the December 6-8 box office frame, courtesy of Rentrak. See the full Top 20 at the bottom of the file:

BoxOffice_logo__131122164403-275x2061. Frozen, Disney, $31,616,230, 3,742 locations, (third week) -53% from previous weekend, $8,449 average, $134,253,666 cume.

2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Lionsgate, $26,185,886 4,163 locations, (third week) -65%, $6,290 average, $335,850,842.

3. Out Of The Furnace, Relativity Media, $5,220,288, 2,101 locations (first week), $2,485 average, $5,247,364.

4. Thor: The Dark World, Disney, $4,811,545, 3,074 locations (fifth week) -57%, $1,565 average, $193,711,187.

5. Delivery Man, Disney, $3,742,544, 2,905 locations (third week) -45% , $1,288 average, $24,767,326.

6. Homefront, Open Road, $3,428,440, 2,570 locations (second week) -50%, $1,334 average, $15,328,830, 2 weeks.

7. The Book Thief, 20th Century Fox, $2,625,623, 1,316 locations (fifth week) -46%, $1,995 average, $12,000,678.

8. The Best Man Holiday, Universal, $2,609,890, 1,577 locations (fourth week) -68%, $1,655 average, $67,175,505.

9. Philomena, The Weinstein Company, $2,195,341, 835 locations (third week) -40%, $2,629 average, $8,167,976.

10. Dallas Buyers Club, Focus Features, $1,505,669, 734 locations (sixth week) -40%, $2,051 average, $12,453,993.

BOX OFFICE THUMBNAIL: Out of the Furnace (wide after opening Wednesday in four theaters) looks weak. Inside Llewyn Davis (opened limited in four) is very strong. Thor: The Dark World surpasses $600 million this past week. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen both headed to $30 million weekends.

4TH UPDATE, SUNDAY 11 AM: Walt Disney’s Frozen and Lionsgate’s power franchise Hunger Games: Catching Fire warmed the box office this weekend as most of the nation was under a deep freeze. Traditionally, also, the weekend after Thanksgiving is slow and percentage drop-offs were not unexpected.

Top Five:

Disney's FrozenFrozen, driven by family-friendly Saturdays, was able to leapfrog over Catching Fire – early estimates had them in a dead heat going into the weekend. Frozen won the weekend with an estimated $31.6 million-plus take (a $134.2 million cume) in a box office weekend that had business suffer from moviegoers not wanting to venture out into biting temps. It’s per screen was around $8,400 in 3,742 locations and it saw a 126% jump from Friday to Saturday. This is the film’s second week out.

The Hunger Games: Catching FireCatching Fire is estimated around $27.6 million for the 3-day for a total cume of about $336.7 million domestically (per screen of $6,486 in 4,163 theaters). The film, in its third weekend, was down anywhere from 63% to 67% from a week earlier, but its Friday to Saturday jump this was roughly 53%. Last weekend, Lionsgate over-estimated on its domestic gross, but this week they seem to be more in line with general consensus.

Internationally, the female-driven franchise is in 83 markets and has taken in around $44.3 million this weekend, which brings its international total – oddly enough – to the same $336.7 million tally for a total worldwide cume of $673.4 million, according to its distributor.

Lionsgate also noted that the film is playing in the number one spot in India (where it opened this weekend) as well as Australia, Mexico, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, and Belgium. So, the other 76 territories it is playing in, it is not number one, but with numbers like this … who cares.  The film will open in Japan on December 27, rounding out its bows around the world.

Inside Llewyn Davis CBS Films is crowing over the huge per screen numbers for the Coen brothers movie, Inside Llewyn Davis, which with ticket sales tallying at an estimated $402,000 is about $100,500 per screen. CBS smartly added theaters on Saturday after sellouts on Friday. For news about this film, WeinsteinCo’s Philomena (no. 9 in the box office top ten with roughly $2.82 million) and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom ($19,000-plus per screen), Fox Searchlight’s 12 Years a Slave, Focus Features’ Dallas Buyers Club (which rounded out the box office top ten with $1.5 million), see Brian Brooks’ Specialty Box Office Story.

Related: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Opens To Spectacular $100K-Plus PSA Read More »

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The Takeaway On A Record Holiday Weekend? Be Fearless In Making Good Movies And Audiences Will Come

Mike Fleming

Hunger Games Catching Fire Box Office Record6TH UPDATE:  The staggering grosses turned in this weekend by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen, and the collective strong box office that will likely result in a record five-day Thanksgiving weekend come along at a fortuitous time for the movie business. Why? Because fear has ruled the roost lately, and these numbers on a diversity of mostly smart films shows clearly that if you give an audience a story well told, they will show up.

The performance of Catching Fire and Frozen are all the more remarkable if you consider that both of these films are squarely driven by female heroines. Conventional wisdom is that the marketplace could never support more than one female-driven film, because while gals will see guy movies, it doesn’t work the other way. Well, it worked big time — both films crushed the 5-day Thanksgiving domestic gross record – and it happened shortly after another female driven film, Gravity, crossed the $600 million mark in global gross this weekend. That movie would not have been made if not for a maverick advocate and you could make the same argument for a drama about Somali pirates, Captain Phillips, which has passed the $100 million mark domestically and will crack $200 million worldwide on a $55 million budget. You can look at The Best Man Holiday and Last Vegas (CBS Films’ biggest grossing film ever) and find similarly encouraging signs; good movies made for a price, finding crossover audiences.

LyntonPascal__131119192611-e1384889190694-200x357This is important, coming just on the heels of that Sony investors meeting held on the Culver City lot. It was a powwow that on the surface seemed to be a capitulation to cranky shareholders like Daniel Loeb, who, as George Clooney said, whined about two summer flops but betrayed a complete lack of understanding of how the movie business works. This weekend was a good reminder that, few legal businesses are capable of creating cash as quickly as blockbusters do. The people who make those bets are like shrewd riverboat gamblers, and if the current climate makes them fearful, they will not make good films. They are only good if they’ve got swagger and cockiness, and it would be nice to imagine a weekend like this serves as a reminder of what happens when smart risks are taken and good movies are the result.

Related: George Clooney To Hedge Fund Honcho Daniel Loeb: Stop Spreading Fear At Sony

When Sony responded to Loeb’s criticism by announcing plans to shed $100 million in overhead and trimming back its film slates to instead put more chips on TV projects, some in town wondered if Japan was planning to sell its showbiz division. Nonsense, say insiders I trust. Read More »

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Box Office Top 10: ‘Catching Fire’s Global Opening Gross Will Hit $307.7 Million

Mike Fleming

Hunger Games Catching Fire Box Office7TH UPDATE: The 1 PM football games are starting, so I will be brief. International numbers for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire are pouring in now, and they are as good as the domestic numbers. The film has grossed $146.6 million in 63 territories, which puts its global opening weekend gross at $307.7 in 65 territories. That’s 45% better than the $211.8 million worldwide that The Hunger Games grossed in its opening weekend. That puts the film halfway to matching the $286.3 million international gross of that original film. It opened in the top spot in nearly all markets, more than doubling The Hunger Games in most markets according to Rentrak. Germany and Denmark tripled their opening weekend numbers while UK, Netherlands and Sweden were 2.5 times better. Russia was 1.5 times better than the original’s opening. Meanwhile WB’s Gravity opened to $35.5 million in China. Like I said, a good weekend for everyone except Carl Icahn.

Related: Specialty Box Office: ‘Philomena’ Debuts Strong; Is It This Year’s ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’?

6TH UPDATE, 9:29 am PST: Well, Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire hit the Saturday numbers Deadline reported in timely fashion for insomniacs, and the film is now expected to hit $161.1 million. Besides trouncing the competition, and beating Twilight Saga: Full Moon for biggest November opening, how does it rate for other records? According to Rentrak, here’s the deal: Catching Fire generated the 2nd best debut of 2013 behind Iron Man 3‘s $174.1 million; it marks the fourth best opening weekend of all time, trailing The Avengers‘ $207 million, Iron Man 3 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2‘s $169.2M. Catching Fire did better than The Dark Knight Rises $160.9 million. In IMAX, Catching Fire’s domestic weekend gross is an estimated $12.6M on 347 screens, also a record for November 3-day launch as it passed Skyfall‘s $12.5 million. It certainly positions the film to surpass the $408 million grossed domestically by the first film, given there’s a long holiday weekend coming up. Lionsgate gets two more bites at the apple, as it is telling the three-book tale in four movies in a blatant cash grab. I have yet to see where this dilution of a crackling three novel story benefits anyone other than the studio when it is stretched out into another film (I think it hurt The Twilight Saga, because the third installment, Bella’s pregnancy, was excruciating.) Author Suzanne Collins is in the mix on these films, so maybe they’ll add stuff. But if these authors wanted to tell trilogies in four installments, they would have written four books, right?

Analyzing far in Catching Fire‘s rear view mirror, the other major release, Delivery Man, didn’t deliver much at all as counter-programming. Maybe the film (studio insiders said it cost $22 million) would have fared better had it opened one week ago against The Best Man Holiday, because clearly Catching Fire consumed most of the oxygen this weekend. Maybe it would have been better to simply avoid such a competitive time period. Thor: The Dark World saw a 61% drop since last weekend, and The Best Man Holiday was off 58%, showing Catching Fire fatigue. How are the Oscar films faring? 12 Years A Slave is running out of steam, Dallas Buyers Club is working in core areas and breakout potential seems dubious. Nebraska bowed just okay and Book Thief a little less than that while Philomena got off to a more encouraging start. The next big family film, Disney’s Frozen, did great in one house and opens wide November 27. The other animation juggernaut, Despicable Me 2, got a bit of new life in 295 theaters, squeaking out $342,000. Speaking of the record books, the $76 million film is at $916.5 million worldwide gross. Universal’s all-time record holder is Jurassic Park, which grossed $118 million worldwide in a 3D re-release which put it just over the $1 billion mark. In order to crack that record, Despicable Me 2 will need to open in China, which should be in the cards but hasn’t yet been solidified. Here is an updated look at how the Top 10 films will finish the weekend:

1) The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

PG-13/ Lionsgate/ New/ Runs: 4,163/ Friday: $70.1 million; Saturday: $52.8 million. Sunday: $36.9 million. Weekend Total: $160.6 million. Per-screen average: $36,586. Total domestic gross: $160.6 million. Read More »

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‘Thor: The Dark World’ Crosses $500M In Global Box Office

By | Thursday November 21, 2013 @ 11:09am PST

Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World had already eclipsed the worldwide gross of its predecessor and officially crossed $500M globally yesterday, Disney confirmed this morning. It’s the distributor’s third title to top that milestone this year following Marvel’s Iron Man 3 and Pixar’s Monsters University. For the record, to date Thor 2 has grossed $152M domestically and $352.2M internationally for a $504.2M total — the overseas figure better than the final numbers for the first Thor, Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Captain America. Those international totals include $46.1M in China, which just premiered Gravity to $9M in its first two days and is prepping for tomorrow’s day-and-date launch of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Related: Box Office Update: ‘Thor 2′ Hammers Past Predecessor In Global Gross

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Box Office Update: ‘Thor 2′ Hammers Past Predecessor In Global Gross

By | Sunday November 17, 2013 @ 5:38pm PST
Mike Fleming

5TH UPDATE: Considering that there was only one major new film in the marketplace, it has turned out to be a good weekend for the movie business. Before I get to the Top Ten, I hate to wear my heart on my sleeve, but like everyone else in America, I was completely captivated by the Batkid, and his crime fighting exploits accomplished in San Francisco after his cancer went into remission. It is a reminder that while there is plenty of cynicism in Hollywood, there is a reason this is called the Dream Factory that gives America heroes and hope. And the reaction by past Batman Christian Bale and future Batman Ben Affleck, well, if you are not touched, you should check yourself for a pulse.

Then there is Nebraska, which opened limited this week. What does it say when Paramount’s slate is chock full of films like World War Z and sequels of Star Trek and G.I. Joe, and by far the best film that studio has made is a $13 million black and white road trip movie with a former Saturday Night Live funnyman with no feature currency and a 77-year old forgotten actor who was dusted off by Alexander Payne to turn in the performance of a career that spans 53 years? Well, what it really says is this movie goes down as a total fluke. It was brought in by former Paramount Classics head Ruth Vitale, who’s long gone, but who bought it as a black and white project. The current Paramount brain trust probably gave this a harder time giving a green light than all of those other three films, but they did green light it and allowed Payne to make it his way, with Will Forte and Bruce Dern. The latter has staked a claim on a Best Actor nom at least. You would see him in a small dose in a film like All The Pretty Horses, and he pretty much lit up the screen and infused his characters with intelligence and integrity. Wait till you see what he does here, and how much this film benefits from being shot in glorious black and white.

My final observance of major box office news is our own news that we have brought Anita Busch into the Deadline fold. She will take over box office reporting and make it her own. I gotta be honest, I have to take off my shoes to count to 20, and I have no head for math. I have been filling in as best I can, while still breaking film stories and trying with Nellie Andreeva to change the narrative here and draw Deadline away from the expectation it will be a House of Hate, and instead a haven for fast breaking exclusive, attitude, sharp analysis and stylish writing. I think we’ve a major step in that direction with Anita, who understands this part of the business better than I do, and who will add insight when she takes over in early December. Nellie and I have been trying to get used to new roles. It has been daunting for me. The Wrap actually engaged some service to poll awareness of me, versus Nikki Finke. It was done about 28 minutes after Nellie and I took over, and it was comical, with an actual pie chart that shows I am lagging. For our entire run at Deadline, Nellie and I were happy to have Nikki Finke be the face and the galvanized presence. Neither of us have ever craved attention or had egos to feed, and we loved being able to simply be judged by what appeared under our bylines. As things settle down, it will be nice to get back to that and save the drama for the page.

On to Box Office.

Thor: The Dark World opened in Argentina, Paraguay and Hungary this weekend, and it still has yet to unveil in Italy and Japan. Its $38.4 million weekend (a 55% drop from last weekend) was eclipsed by the $52.5 million which the film grossed overseas (covering 94% of the world territories in which it will play) for a $90.1 million worldwide weekend take. That puts the film at $479 million globally, with a lot more to come. How did it compare with the original Thor? That pic grossed a total of $181 million domestic, so two weeks in the sequel has grossed 81% of its predecessor. The sequel has passed the global grosses of Captain America ($371 million) and Thor ($449 million). So those wondering if the sequel is measuring up, it has done 107% of the original Thor, and it is not near done. Read More »

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FX Acquires ‘Thor: The Dark World’, ‘Gravity’ & ‘Captain Phillips’

By | Monday November 11, 2013 @ 12:18pm PST

FX continues to bolster its library of theatrical hits, acquiring the TV rights to Gravity (Warner Bros), Captain Phillips (Sony) and this past weekend’s box-office topper Thor: The Dark World (Disney). It also has locked in Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2, and Prisoners. FX has been very aggressive in acquiring blockbusters, buying virtually every No. 1 movie in the box office for the past couple of years for the main network and FX siblings FXX and FXM. Other previously announced acquisitions include Iron Man 3, Despicable Me 2, Man of Steel, Fast & Furious 6, Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, The Croods, The Heat, Identity Thief, Grown Ups 2, The Wolverine, The Hangover Part III, and Pacific Rim. The new films will make their premieres on the FX Networks beginning in 2015.

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AFM: Schlock Still Rocks In Santa Monica

By | Monday November 11, 2013 @ 9:12am PST

Last week, Mike Fleming talked about the premium on star-driven films at AFM and noted that schlock is in short supply. He’s too busy focusing on the high-end films. I’m here in the corridors of the Loews in Santa Monica, and I am a schlock connoisseur. While he might be right in labeling this AFM a cut below the Surf Nazis Must Die heyday of the ’90s, allow me to butcher a Mark Twain quote and say that rumors of schlock’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. While I might be bashful to ask him this directly, has Mike pondered the tantalizing cinematic possibilities of Kama Sutra 3D? And how about All Cheerleaders Die: Revenge Is A Bitch or Dead Sea: It’s Feeding Time or even Bigfoot Wars: The Battle For Boggy Creek?

And what about the mutant electric eels running rampant in Shock Attack? Or the time-traveling Army Of Frankensteins, where a neck bolt brigade shows up to fight in the Civil War? There’s the promising Bikini Model Academy with Gary Busey and Morgan Fairchild. Hungry? The cannibal tale Bone Boys is on the menu here. 

Hands down, the schlock title to beat is FDR American Badass, with Barry Bostwick battling werewolves in a pimped-out wheelchair. It might be easy to dismiss what’s billed as a “kick-werewolf-ass movie for history buffs (or not),” but I am not here to judge. After all, did we not learn from Timur Bekmambetov that Abe Lincoln was a vampire killer and didn’t Quentin Tarantino fill us in on how Hitler and his cohorts were blown up in a theater during the premiere of the Nazi propaganda film Nation’s Pride? Here, FDR takes out Nazis as well as werewolves. MutliVisionaire Pictures seems to be getting a good response. And based on this trailer, can anyone be surprised?

Related: Domestic Box Office: ‘Thor 2’ Eyeing $86M to $87.7M Weekend

And while Thor crushed all comers at the box office this weekend, how about the D-level version of that, which Halcyon International has in God Of Thunder. Now, there’s a long history of satirical takes on movies (and the litigation that follows), but give Halcyon points for good timing.Both based on Norse mythology, as far as I can tell, the only difference between the Disney/Marvel franchise and this one is the main character’s tresses: This hero’s hair is shorter than Chris Hemsworth’s blond mane, and it looks like Supercuts was involved. It seems there wasn’t enough money in the budget for a suicide blond dye job, but Loki, Asgard and Thor are also here in a movie we’re told is “based on the Fox Comics Super Hero.” In postproduction, God Of Thunder will be in a theater, or a courtroom, near you in 2014. Read More »

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UPDATE: Domestic Box Office Top 10: ‘Thor 2′ Eyeing $86M To $87.7M Weekend

By | Sunday November 10, 2013 @ 8:47am PST
Mike Fleming

2ND UPDATE: Thor: The Dark World has performed more strongly than expected and it will finish anywhere from $85.8 million this weekend to $87.7 million, even though I have one pundit who feels it could exceed that. Though many of our commenters have taken after Thor (and me, but the latter is inevitable given who I am temporarily replacing) in the comment thread following this box office report, Thor 2 is doing what a sequel is supposed to do. It is the ninth biggest November debut ever, coming just behind last year’s 007 pic Skyfall‘s $88.36 million, and it is the fourth biggest opening weekend of the year behind Iron Man 3‘s $174 million, Man Of Steel‘s $116.6 million and Fast 6‘s $97.4 million. It is scoring with younger audiences. Internationally, it is doing twice as well overseas as here, and that means the film could land upwards of $600 million.

The key will be how it plays before the opening of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which could have a $150 million opening weekend and consume all the oxygen in the room. Marvel seems to be able to do no wrong. The studio is in a zone I’ve seen in the past only with animated films, back when Jeffrey Katzenberg‘s Disney was cranking out one classic 2D animated classic after the other (my kids were small then, I saw The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast probably 500 times each and knew the words to every tune), and John Lasseter‘s Pixar. Marvel could probably score a big hit right now with a movie devoted to Tom Hiddleston‘s Loki character. The studio will undoubtedly come back to earth at some point, as the label tries to launch new franchises like Guardians Of The Galaxy and Ant-Man, and those will be Kevin Feige‘s real test.

There’s a real horse race going on for second place, and all three of the horses have held strongly. It’s a virtual dead heat for Bad Grandpa, Free Birds and Last Vegas. The drop-offs from last week’s numbers are low considering the arrival of Thor 2. Bad Grandpa only fell 43%, Free Birds is off 30% and Last Vegas only 32% as a younger audience is giving it a shot. Since there’s a statistical margin of error in early weekend numbers, the second place winner won’t be known until the photo finish comes in tomorrow morning, when all of the final grosses are submitted and Rentrak sends out box office actual weekend grosses.

Another title worth watching is Fox‘s slow build on The Book Thief, the Brian Percival-directed adaption of the Markus Zusak WWII novel for Fox 2000. It opened in four locations and put up a per screen average of $27,000, for $108,000 total.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa had another strong weekend and looks likely to squeak out second place. I saw this movie on the anniversary of a personal tragedy, picked up my distraught son from college and took him hoping to pull him out of the rut. I suppose it is easy to critically dismiss movies rife with physical comedy, but the two of us laughed like idiots, and director Jeff Tremaine and Johnny Knoxville will always occupy a place in my heart for helping my son get through what would have otherwise been an unbearable evening. As Tremaine told me, “Sometimes, you just need to laugh.” That movie, which cost a reported $15 million, ends the weekend around $78.5 million as Tremaine continues his evolution as a filmmaker with a movie on the decadent rock band Motley Crue.

Coming in third will be Free Birds, the Relativity released animated film that could get to $30 million after its second frame. Is that a good outcome for a film with a reported $55 million budget? I saw the Relativity team at last night’s AFI premiere of the Scott Cooper-directed Out Of The Furnace (more on that in a later post), and they seemed relieved that the film was performing more strongly than was expected going into the weekend. Over half that budget was covered by foreign pre-sales in what was the first film from Relativity and Reel FX as they find their footing in animation.

As for the rest of the Top 10, the under-$30 million Last Vegas will finish fourth and get to $33 million; Ender’s Game should finish with a $44 million gross. For a franchise starter with a $110 million price tag, that just won’t get it done. Gravity continues to defy its title, ending the weekend with a domestic gross around $231 million. I’d covered all of the project’s twists and turns when Angelina Jolie dropped out and Universal punted; when Warner Bros. struggled to find a package that worked. They came at Jolie again and when she passed a second time, the studio focused in on Natalie Portman and Sandra Bullock, after looking at a field of actresses that included Naomi Watts, Marion Cotillard, Carey Mulligan, Scarlett Johansson and some others. Then Robert Downey Jr. dropped out, and George Clooney stepped up. When I saw the movie, beyond feeling overwhelmed by an auteur-de-force Cuaron outing, I kept asking myself, how the hell did this movie get made? None of WB’s financing partners would touch it (RatPac was gifted the film). It made no sense on paper, as great films often don’t. It comes down to betting $100 million on a world class filmmaker. Globally it has crossed $430 million. Most refreshingly, like its 3D counterpart Life Of Pi, Gravity has no sequel in it. It’s just a great one-off, with no future installments to water down its memory.

One of the other two noteworthy films in the Top 10 is 12 Years A Slave. I must admit, I cannot stand violence against women and children (still haven’t seen Prisoners) and maybe that’s why I have missed seeing this movie at its Toronto, NYFF and Hamptons showings. My box office sources tell me that the film’s escalation from 734 to 1144 screens, which prompted a 37% spike in business, is good – not great. But the film has a chance to play well for a long time, as awards season heats up. I will see it before then.

Richard Curtis’s About Time will finish ninth in the rankings, getting to a $6.2 million gross. Does that make it a flop? I don’t think so. I’m told by insiders that the film cost under $15 million to make, and is has already grossed $43 million overseas. You empower a writer/director like Curtis and hope you get another Love Actually. Even if you don’t, when he covers the bet like he will here, it’s good news that he can keep taking his swings.

Finally, a word about the future of Deadline’s box office reporting. This is my second weekend at it; last week I put up numbers because nobody else did. And so I did it, in between moderating panels at our Contenders Event. I have my eye on someone who’ll soon be taking this over and who will elevate it and make it their own. But I do have some observations about this beat. There is a learning curve here, just as I am learning things every day in my new adventure here in Hollywood after covering this business from Long Island for so long. For instance, I learned from last night’s Out Of The Furnace premiere that when they post a 6PM start time, what they really mean is they won’t be dropping the puck for at least an hour after that. Box office has similar challenges for a newcomer.

People who have been critical of Deadline’s box office coverage in the past have said films got thumped based on the biased observations of studios jockeying for position. I don’t know about that, but I have seen all the spinning that goes on this weekend, and it’s an easy trap to fall into if you don’t actually go see the films and be better able to judge quality. I can see the spin at work, how one studio will over-project a rival’s weekend expectations, so that when the actual numbers roll in, the movie can be spun as disappointing. Or how reporting factors in tracking service projections. Tracking is a tool that allows studios to see whether their marketing is creating awareness, and campaigns are fine-tuned in the final weeks based on those results. That tracking is not a reliable measure of performance. When some journalists see that actual film performance falls below tracking projections, they thump the movies and not the flawed tracking.

I can tell you that while I am doing this for the next couple of weeks, I will try my best to see as many of the new movies as I can, something that wasn’t a priority here. I have a healthy respect for the creative process, for how hard it is to make a movie, and all the places it can go wrong. Last night at Out Of The Furnace, I met with the director, Scott Cooper. Here was a guy who put his own imprint on a spec script by Brad Inglesby (who was selling insurance when he got paid $500,000 against $1.5 million when Ridley Scott was directing and Leo DiCaprio starring), and Cooper made it very reminiscent of one of my fave films The Deer Hunter, with timely themes of economic hardship and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in soldiers returning from the Middle East. When I told Cooper how much I liked his movie, I could see him looking hard at me, as though trying to be sure I wasn’t shining him on (I wasn’t). Maybe it won’t be this way for every film he makes, but I could tell this one has themes that are very personal to Cooper and he really threw himself into this. Maybe this sense of empathy will make me the worst box office reporter of all time. I have seen already it isn’t pleasing some readers who come for bloodsport. I figure these would have been running around in togas in ancient Rome, using phrases like “epic fail” when they stopped throwing Christians to the lions. The only blood on display here will be my own, because I tend to bleed on the page sometimes. If that’s not good enough, so be it. Read More »

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‘Thor: The Dark World’ Thursday Previews Wield $7.1M; International Cume Passes $150M

By | Friday November 8, 2013 @ 10:55am PST

Thor: The Dark World opened to an estimated $7.1 million for Thursday preview showings in advance of today’s North American opening in 3,841 theaters — including more than 3,100 3D locations. Overseas, the Marvel/Disney sequel starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman added another $10.9M in box office yesterday from key markets including the UK, Russia, and France, boosting its international cume to $152.8M. That’s before today’s expected big opening in China and other smaller markets, which will put the pic out in 92% of the world. Last night’s domestic preview grosses topped previous Thursday grosses for Thor ($3.2M) and Captain America: The First Avenger ($4M), both in 2011. The first Thor opened domestically in May of that year with $65.7M in its first weekend, on its way to $181M here and $268M overseas.

Related: Hot Trailer: ‘Thor: The Dark World’

Last Wednesday, Disney opened Thor 2 to $109.4M in 36 overseas territories, helping the distributor break its all-time international box office record of $2.302B for a calendar year with two months to go.

Disney said Thor 2‘s 3D shows will include an exclusive extended sneak peek of fellow Marvel superhero pic Captain America: The Winter Soldier ahead of its April 2014 bow.

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‘Thor: The Dark World’ Scores Superhuman $109M Overseas, Boosts Disney To Another All-Time Int’l Record

By | Sunday November 3, 2013 @ 11:02am PST
Mike Fleming

Disney scored a Marvelous haul opening Thor: The Dark World overseas early Wednesday to $109.4M in 36 territories. The film opens stateside next Friday and is already making history. Thor 2‘s early take helped bump Disney’s international box office on the year beyond its previous all time $2.302B record with two months of global cash-collecting to go. The studio brought the Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman Marvel sequel early and at #1 in key territories France, the UK, Korea, Germany, Spain, Taiwan, Australia, Russia, Mexico, and Brazil and still has Argentina, Italy, China, and Japan on the docket; at this pace it’s hurtling towards a better run than the first Thor flick overseas.

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‘Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ November Sweep Episode To Feature ‘Thor’ Crossover

By | Friday November 1, 2013 @ 6:18pm PDT

ABC’s Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to serve as a promotional platform for Marvel’s movies. Eleven days after the release of the next Marvel/Disney movie, Thor: The Dark World,  the November 19 episode of ABC’s freshman series will pick up the where the feature leaves off, Marvel announced on its Web site. Titled “The Well,” the episode is described thusly: “In the aftermath of the events chronicled in the feature film Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, Coulson and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pick up the pieces – one of which threatens to destroy a member of the team.” Star Trek: The Next Generation alum Jonathan Frakes will helm the episode, which will not feature characters or actors from the Thor movies.

Related:
Marvel’s ‘Thor 2′ Comes On Tracking Very Strong But $75M Nowhere Near ‘Iron Man 2′
ABC’s ‘Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Gets Full-Season Pickup

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‘Thor 2′ Begins International Rollout: Stronger Starts In UK & France Than First

By | Thursday October 31, 2013 @ 11:46am PDT

Thor Dark World Box Office InternationalEXCLUSIVE… UPDATE: Disney and Marvel StudiosThor: The Dark World opened in a handful of territories on Wednesday taking in $8.2M. The pic starring Chris Hemsworth was the #1 film in each market which represented only 28% of its eventual international footprint. It had stronger starts in the UK and France than the 2011 first installment. The North American opening is November 8th. Disney and Marvel see what they call “tremendous room for growth” at the box office from the first Thor which grossed just under $450M worldwide. “All signs indicate we’ll have a much higher result,” an exec tells me. “I can’t put a number on it, but by the time we report domestic numbers on November 10th, we should be in really great shape.” Thor opened to $65M in May 2011 and went on to earn $181M domestic and $268.3M international. By contrast, the Thor sequel opens in November in the majority of its international footprint this weekend starting with major territories UK, France and Korea, then Australia, Germany, Spain, Taiwan and Hong Kong a day later, and Russia, Mexico and Brazil on Friday. Next week China and India open day and date with the domestic opening November 8th. The overseas release follows the world premiere on October 22nd and global press junket in London with director Alan Taylor, producer Kevin Feige, and stars Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and more. The U.S. … Read More »

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Marvel’s ‘Thor 2′ Comes On Tracking Very Strong But $75M Nowhere Near ‘Iron Man 2′

By | Thursday October 17, 2013 @ 2:00pm PDT

Thor: The Dark WorldDisney/Marvel‘s next superhero sequel Thor: The Dark World just came on tracking this morning three weeks from release. The great news is that it’s showing very strong four-quadrant ‘awareness’ across the board building on the May 2011 original’s $65.7M opening weekend. And the good news is that it’s bringing in more ‘definite interest’ and ‘first choice’ among young and older females. But the bad news is that its projected opening weekend gross of $75M is nowhere near Iron Man 2‘s $128.1M opening weekend in May 2010. “The Avengers ‘halo’ effect is still working for these Marvel properties but not for, say, Wolverine,” a rival studio explains. Specifically, Thor still has its solid fanbase but also expanded its demographics. ’Awareness’ across the board is between 75 and 80 for every quadrant. ‘Definite Interest’ is 59 -  and only about 2 to 3 movies a year come on that high – showing great among males and good for females. The fact that it’s able to target young females is somewhat unique for a superhero movie and no doubt due to star Chris Hemsworth as the pic’s eye candy. Finally, ‘First Choice’ has a strong 18% even for older females which demonstrates that moms want to take the kids. But Thor 2 still is no Iron Man 2.

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‘Thor: The Dark World’ Gets IMAX Release

By | Thursday August 15, 2013 @ 8:13am PDT

LOS ANGELES – AUG. 15, 2013 – IMAX Corporation (NYSE:IMAX; TSX:IMX) and Marvel Entertainment, a division of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS), today announced that Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, starring Chris Hemsworth, will be digitally re-mastered into the immersive IMAX® 3D format and released into IMAX® 3D theatres internationally beginning Oct. 30.

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Hot Trailer: ‘Thor: The Dark World’

By | Wednesday August 7, 2013 @ 8:00am PDT

Alan Taylor directs the sequel to 2011′s Thor that continues the tale of the Mighty Avenger as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy led by the vengeful Malekith. Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo, Christopher Eccleston and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje star. Disney begins an international rollout in the UK on October 30, ahead of the U.S. release November 8. Check out the new trailer for Thor: The Dark World:

Watch this video on YouTube.

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