‘Immortals’ #1 With So-So $32M Domestic But $36M Foreign, ‘Jack And Jill’ $26M

By | Sunday November 13, 2011 @ 8:01am PST

SUNDAY AM, 3RD UPDATE: Latest Top 10 grosses show better North American box office than previously thought thanks to the Veterans Day holiday weekend when school is out in 60% of the country. The good news is a break from slumping attendance with a $137M total moviegoing weekend, up +18% from last year. But the bad news is that these movies are still way underperforming what they should have done on a holiday weekend. That’s because these major studio pics were definitely not crowd-pleasers. Just check out their Rotten Tomatoes scores. But the real question is why Hollywood released two young male-skewing movies the weekend right after two major video games were released. Anecdotal evidence is that the guys were otherwise engaged. Full analysis coming:

1. Immortals 3D (Relativity) NEW [3,112 Theaters]
Friday $14M, Saturday $10M, Weekend $32M

Richard Branson didn’t waste any time blogging to his peeps today: “Congratulations to Jason and the whole team at Virgin Produced for Immortals, their follow up film to Limitless, going straight to number one at the box office this weekend. Jammy bastards!!” He’s as good at spinning underwhelming box office as Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh. Truth is Immortals started out slow: it did an unexciting $1.4M in Thursday midnight gross from approximately 900 locations then expanded runs and grosses for Friday but lost -30% Saturday. Pic eked out a $30+M weekend bow, which is a rarity these days. But you also must realize that Immortals is a 300-clone yet didn’t make even 45% of the $70.8M opening amount that the original 2D movie did back in 2006. Even with the higher 3D ticket prices. Immortals should have made $50+M, folks, given the genre and promotion. “300 was absolutely a big success, but we are in a different economy, marketplace, and time of year,” a Relativity exec told me Friday night. “Young males have been hard to get over the past year. It’s a significant accomplishment that we got them. We are well positioned to be the 3rd highest R-rated film this year and the highest R-rated action film this year. This is a win for us.” Needless to say, Relativity is known for its bluster. But it also claims reduced risk from foreign pre-sales on the supposedly $75M-budgeted film. Then explain to me why, for 2 years, Relativity was telling everybody and their mother that the budget of Immortals was $120M. (Don’t believe me? Go back and do a Google search). It sold the film internationally to foreign buyers with a budget of $120M. Now, all of a sudden, the budget is $75 million because of what Relativity says are tax rebates for shooting and doing post production in Montreal? Puh-leeze.

Audiences gave Immortals a ‘B’ CinemaScore but Rotten Tomatoes recorded just 37% positive reviews. That’s lousy considering the pic is from the producers of 300 (Mark Canton and Gianni Nunnari). Yet now Relativity tries to claim this new epic adventure is “completely original — it’s not derived from a comic book; is not based on a novel; and is not a sequel.” Tarsem Singh (The Cell, The Fall) directed and Charles Parlapanides & Vlas Parlapanides are the credited screenwriters. Marketing was aggressive and therefore expensive. It kicked off at Wondercon in April, followed by Comic-Con in July, and what even the studios says was a “barrage” of publicity media appearances, in-theater marketing, outdoor advertising, and radio/TV spots. Partnerships/alliances  included Best Buy. Relativity owns worldwide rights to Immortals; Lionsgate handled foreign sales. Alliance Films is releasing in Canada. About 70% of locations played the film in 3D.

Pic opened in over 35 international territories including China, UK, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Russia. Current estimated weekend box office is approximately $36M with a number of territories (including Indonesia and India) still to report. Relativity says this was the first title releasing through Sky Land, its joint venture with IDG and Saif Partners in China. The list of foreign output partners and additional territories is as long as my arm, including Austria/Constantin, Bulgaria/MGN, China/Sky Land, Finland/Nordisk, Germany/Constantin, Greece/Village, India/Soundspace, Israel/Forum, Italy/RAI, Japan/Universal, Netherlands/A-Film, Russia/CIS/MGN, Romania/MGN, South Africa/Nu Metro, South Korea/Next, Sweden/Nordisk, Turkey/Aqua, UK/Universal, United Arab Emirates/Gulf, Malaysia/PT Parkit, Taiwan/SSG.

2. Jack And Jill (Sony Pictures) NEW [3,438 Theaters]
Friday $9.8M, Saturday $9.6M, Weekend $26M

Sony Pictures’ Jack And Jill starring Adam Sandler was hard-pressed to equal his usual $30+M opening comedies. (Maybe moviegoers aren’t as moronic as Hollywood thinks they are.) Rotten Tomatoes gave this turkey only a 3% positive score. Pic received a ‘B’ CinemaScore but also an ‘A-” from audiences under age 18. After releasing a trailer that was as viciously derided as I’ve ever seen on Deadline, Sony is relieved this Christmas-themed PG movie at least opened. So Adam is off the hook. “It’s a family film so it will play to a better multiple through the season than his normal movies,” one rival studio exec tells me. But you’ve gotta wonder if Sandler is developing a Jim Carrey problem and the public will stop supporting him if he’s in too many stinkers like this. Sony is somewhat alarmed that Adam keeps working with the same cronies in almost every film, but the studio also can’t tell its long-time golden goose Happy Madison to stop laying eggs. Sony sources claim the film was made for $80M and, unlike many comedians, Adam’s films do healthy business overseas because he’s worked at becoming a foreign draw. “So we will be in good shape when all is said and done,” the studio assures me. Unless moviegoers keep remembering what a suckfest this was and can’t get that bad taste out of their mouths when they think of paying for another film. Folks, it’s releases like this that are killing the biz.

That said, Sony did its usual stellar job building awareness for this turkey directed by Dennis Dugan and produced by Sandler, Jack Giarraputo, and Todd Garner. The screenplay os credited to Steve Koren & Adam Sandler with story by Ben Zook. The marketing campaign targeted Sandler’s core fans, and the concept was easy to grasp. (Uh, that was the problem…) Adam did his usual plethora of appearances and promotions to support the pic. In addition to the stuff you’d expect (Leno, Kimmel, Conan, Letterman, Today Show, Regis and Kelly, ad nauseum), he also taped an intro for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, and did a recent episode of Dr. Phil featuring the real life twins from the movie. There were integrations with The X Factor and Survivor: South Pacific, interstitials on Nickelodeon, tie-ins on Comedy Central as well as promotions on TBS, ABC Family, and Univision, among others. Online Sony held an awkward sibling photo contest (awkwardfamilyphotos.com) and networked on social media with Sandler’s extensive fanbase, including his 25 million friends on Facebook.
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Brett Ratner Explains His Oscar Resignation

By | Tuesday November 8, 2011 @ 4:30pm PST
Mike Fleming

SHOCKER! Brett Ratner Out As Oscar Producer
Academy’s Statement On Brett Ratner’s Resignation

Brett Ratner has issued a letter to the entertainment industry explaining why he has resigned as producer of the Academy Awards following a litany of spectacularly dumb and insensitive statements made while promoting his new film Tower Heist. I’m told that despite a growing groundswell of Academy members calling for Ratner’s head, the Academy likely would have grudgingly hung in there with Ratner as producer. He made it easy for them by bowing out. Here is his statement:

An Open Letter to the Entertainment Industry from Brett Ratner

Dear Colleagues,

Over the last few days, I’ve gotten a well-deserved earful from many of the people I admire most in this industry expressing their outrage and disappointment over the hurtful and stupid things I said in a number of recent media appearances. To them, and to everyone I’ve hurt and offended, I’d like to apologize publicly and unreservedly.

As difficult as the last few days have been for me, they cannot compare to the experience of any young man or woman who has been the target of offensive slurs or derogatory comments. And they pale in comparison to what any gay, lesbian, or transgender individual must deal with as they confront the many inequalities that continue to plague our world.

So many artists and craftspeople in our business are members of the LGBT community, and it pains me deeply that I may have hurt them. I should have known this all along, but at least I know it now: words do matter. Having love in your heart doesn’t count for much if what comes out of your mouth is ugly and bigoted. With this in mind, and to all those who understandably feel that apologies are not enough, please know that I will be taking real action over the coming weeks and months in an effort to do everything I can both professionally and personally to help stamp out the kind of thoughtless bigotry I’ve so foolishly perpetuated.

As a first step, I called Tom Sherak this morning and resigned as a producer of the 84th Academy Awards telecast. Being asked to help put on the Oscar show was the proudest moment of my career. But as painful as this may be for me, it would be worse if my association with the show were to be a distraction from the Academy and the high ideals it represents.

I am grateful to GLAAD for engaging me in a dialogue about what we can do together to increase awareness of the important and troubling issues this episode has raised and I look forward to working with them. I am incredibly lucky to have a career in this business that I love with all of my heart and to be able to work alongside so many of my heroes. I deeply regret my actions and I am determined to learn from this experience.

Sincerely,
Brett Ratner

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‘Puss In Boots’ Claws ‘Tower Heist’ To Win Weak Weekend: ‘Harold & Kumar 3D’ Soft

SATURDAY PM, 4TH UPDATE: What a shocker! DreamWorks Animation/Paramount’s Puss In Boots claws its way … Read More »

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UPDATE: Cinemark Vows To “Push Back” Against Proposal To Make Theaters Shoulder 3D Glasses Costs

UPDATE, 6:40 AM: CEO Alan Stock made his comment in a conference call with analysts who asked what he’d do if Sony continues with its plan to stop paying for 3D glasses — leaving it to exhibitors to manage the expense. ”We think the way the glasses model works in the U.S. is a great way to work it,” he said. He added that there’s still a lot of time to negotiate before next summer, when Sony wants the change to take place. “I’m pretty confident we can work out a solution,” Stock says. “If we can’t, we’ll have to head in a different direction.” Regarding Universal’s plan, which it canceled, to show Tower Heist on cable VOD just three weeks after opening in theaters, Stock says the studio “thought they had something the exhibitors would comply with.” After Cinemark threatened to boycott the film, “there hasn’t been any further discussion of that particular test, or anything else they’re working on.” Read More »

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UPDATE: Universal Halts ‘Tower Heist’ VOD Plan As Exhibitors Agree To Further Talks

By | Wednesday October 12, 2011 @ 12:25pm PDT

UPDATE, 12:25 PM: The resolution of the spat between Universal and theater owners comes after a week of what we’re told were “dozens and dozens and dozens” of phone conversations exhibition company chiefs had with Universal Studios president Ron Meyer and chairman Adam Fogelson. Some theater owners were surprised this morning when they learned of Universal’s decision to scrap the premium video-on-demand experiment with Tower Heist. The exhibition companies had not made a specific concession, though Cinemark was joined by several smaller circuits and National Amusements in saying it would not screen the movie if the VOD plan — set for two cities, Atlanta and Portland, Ore. — went forward. But it’s considered noteworthy that the statement from the National Association Of Theatre Owners says that the trade group “recognizes that studios need to find new models and opportunities in the home market, and looks forward to distributors and exhibitors working together for their mutual benefit.” In a separate statement, Regal CEO Amy Miles reiterated the theme saying: ”We understand and respect Universal’s interest in finding a successful model for ancillary markets and we remain willing to assist Universal, and our other studio partners, in developing a strategy that is acceptable and productive for both parties.”

(Washington, D.C. and North Hollywood, Calif. – October 12, 2011) In response to Universal’s decision to cancel its planned release of Tower Heist to the home on Video on Demand just three weeks after its theatrical debut, National Association of Theatre Owners president and CEO John Fithian stated, “NATO would like to thank Universal for responding to various theater owners’ concerns and cancelling the PVOD test it was contemplating. They have been engaged with individual exhibitors on this test, and while it was something that many theater owners could not ultimately support, the open and collaborative nature of the dialogue is appreciated. NATO recognizes that studios need to find new models and opportunities in the home market, and looks forward to distributors and exhibitors working together for their mutual benefit.”

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National Amusements Comes Out Against ‘Tower Heist’ VOD Plan

By | Wednesday October 12, 2011 @ 9:30am PDT

Theaters Demand Longer Wait For ‘Tower Heist’ Premium VOD Test

Add Sumner Redstone’s exhibitor company National Amusements to the list of chains who won’t show Universal’s upcoming caper comedy Tower Heist. The 950-screen circuit said today that it won’t screen … Read More »

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Theater Owners Demand A Longer Wait For ‘Tower Heist’ Premium VOD Test

Comcast-Uni Testing ‘Tower Heist’ At $59.99
Cinemark Threatens Boycott Of ‘Tower Heist’ Over Early VOD Experiment

Theater owners seem resigned to the fact that Universal will run a premium video-on-demand test of its upcoming film Tower Heist – … Read More »

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Cinemark Threatens Boycott Of Universal’s ‘Tower Heist’ Over Early VOD Experiment

By | Thursday October 6, 2011 @ 6:00pm PDT

Comcast-Universal Testing ‘Tower Heist’ At $59.99

Cinemark, the nation’s third-largest movie theater chain, today threatened not to carry Universal’s upcoming caper comedy Tower Heist over the studio’s plan to offer the movie on video-on-demand just three weeks after its November … Read More »

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HAMMOND: Eddie Murphy Oscar Host Choice Could Be A Win-Win For Academy AND Eddie

Pete Hammond

Eddie Murphy Agrees To Host Oscars; Producers Tell Film Academy It’s Official

When you are an Oscar producer I guess it pays to have a film coming out co-starring someone who just might be the perfect Oscar host. That’s the enviable position Brett Ratner found himself in as he landed the Oscar gig just as he was editing his new film Tower Heist, which features Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy among others and is generating good inside buzz in advance of its November release. I hear test scores for Eddie were so high they talked about enhancing his part in the film. Sight unseen, it sounds — on the surface at least — like a return to the old Eddie that made him a movie superstar. So Eddie and Brett will continue the collaboration for another few months at least, and it would seem to be a win-win all around now that Murphy has officially been named host.

For the Academy, it gives them the opportunity to return to the tradition of having a stand-up comic host the show, which has always worked best, and in Murphy they have one who is a movie star, an Oscar-nominated actor (for Dreamgirls in 2006), and a guy whose past experience on Saturday Night Live and his stage gigs gives him the chops to pull this off — and a reason for the audience to tune in.

In fact, when I was in Telluride over the weekend and Nikki first broke the news of Murphy’s possible Oscar-hosting gig, I ran into Academy COO Ric Robertson and former Academy president Sid Ganis and showed them the story. Although both had not heard the report and seemed surprised, they immediately seemed to like the idea. At least that’s the impression I got. At another party I ran into producer Michael De Luca, who told me he had been offering free advice to Ratner and said he told him the key thing was to hire a comedian as host. In Murphy they obviously have one, with the added plus that he’s fresh Oscar-host meat, lending to the curiosity factor over just how well he might do in front of that notoriously nervous and fidgety Kodak Theatre audience. It’s not an easy job, even though the best comics who have done it (Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin) make it look that way. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Tower Heist’

Mike Fleming

Universal Pictures has released a trailer for the Brett Ratner-directed Tower Heist, a comedy that stars Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda and Tea Leoni. Alda plays a Bernie Madoff-like financier whose ponzi scheme wipes out the pensions of the staff of a luxury high rise … Read More »

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Matthew Broderick Joins ‘Tower Heist’

Mike Fleming

One of the benefits of shooting a movie in Manhattan is getting access to the town’s stage talent. Matthew Broderick has been set by director Brett Ratner to join the cast of Tower Heist. He joins Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, … Read More »

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Tea Leoni Joins ‘Tower Heist’

Mike Fleming

Brett Ratner, who considers The Family Man one of his best films, has reunited with its star, Tea Leoni. She’ll join him for Tower Heist, the Universal Pictures/Imagine Entertainment action comedy. Leoni, a gifted comedienne, plays an FBI agent who … Read More »

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Gabourey Sidibe, Michael Pena Join Brett Ratner’s ‘Tower Heist’ Crew

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Brett Ratner has set Oscar-nominated Precious star Gabourey Sidibe and Michael Pena to join Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Alan Alda in Tower Heist, the action-comedy that Universal Pictures is gearing up to start production in New York next month. Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer is producing. Sidibe and Pena will play employees who work in a luxury high-rise and discover their pension funds have been drained by a Bernie Madoff-like Wall Street crook who is living under house arrest in the opulent penthouse apartment. Led by the building’s manager (Stiller), the employees figure out a way to use their knowledge of the building to rip him off. Read More »

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Eddie Murphy In Universal’s ‘Tower Heist’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Eddie Murphy is set to join Ben Stiller and Alan Alda in Tower Heist, the Brett Ratner-directed caper film for Universal Pictures. Imagine’s Brian Grazer is producing, and Murphy will join Karen Kehela Sherwood and Kim Roth as executive producers. Jeff Nathanson, Ratner’s accomplice in the Rush Hour films, is rewriting the latest version by Ted Griffin. Murphy has been mentioned as a possible participant going back to the film’s original configuration as an African American version of Ocean’s Eleven, when it was called Trump Heist. Trump was dropped as was that casting equation, and now, the storyline deals with operations and maintenance workers in a luxury Manhattan high-rise whose pension funds were looted by a Bernie Madoff-like  Wall Street crook, who is living high style in a penthouse apartment, under house arrest. Read More »

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And In Other Film Deals…

Mike Fleming

Universal closed a 2-pic deal with Alan Alda. He’ll play the head of a naturist village opposite Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd in the David Wain-directed WanderLust. Then join Ben Stiller in the Brett Ratner-directed Tower Heist.

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Ben Stiller, Brett Ratner, and Brian Grazer Make NYC Heist Plans For November

Mike Fleming

A $50 million van Gogh masterpiece was swiped Saturday from a Cairo museum by thieves who took advantage of lax security, simply walked in and liberated a painting from its frame with a box cutter. In Hollywood, the planning and … Read More »

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