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Michael Bay’s Name Pushed Paramount To Settle Injured Extra’s ‘Transformers 3’ Lawsuit

It was announced today that Paramount has reached an $18.5 million settlement with Gabriella Cedillo, the extra who suffered a severe head trauma on the set of the Transformers 3 film on September 1, 2010. The victim’s attorney accused Paramount of doing “everything they could to avoid payment”. A source tells Deadline that the lawsuit filed in October 2010 would have gone on longer if Michael Bay’s name hadn’t been thrown into the legal mix. But the possibility that the director and his Platinum Dunes production company suddenly were to be pulled in as defendants apparently lit a fire under Paramount to speed a settlement. Today’s news comes after a year and a half of legal maneuvering, including attempts by the studio to move the case from Illinois to California, as well one already failed mediation. Then Paramount approached Cedillo’s attorneys early this year seeking a second mediation. It took just a couple more meetings between the lawyers for the settlement to be reached in late March. But it took up until today for all the paperwork to get finalized, and for Cedillo’s attorney to present the deal to the judge. “We are pleased that the Cedillo family has agreed to move forward with the settlement. This was a tragic accident and our thoughts and prayers remain with Gabriela,” a Paramount spokesperson said today.

Cedillo … Read More »

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UPDATE: Viacom Says Nielsen Snafu Led To Decline In Nickelodeon Toy Ads; Forecasts Strong 2012 Despite Economic “Headwinds”

UPDATE, 8:50 AM: Listen up Occupy Wall Streeters: Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman told analysts that the company is doing better than ever financially – yet is still cutting jobs. It reported a $130M restructuring charge in the fiscal 4Q — $77M coming from the Media Networks and $53M from Filmed Entertainment. That will mostly go toward severance payments over the next year. Viacom expects to benefit from $140M in annual savings, improving profit margins even if the economy weakens, COO Tom Dooley says. Company SEC filings indicate that the Viacom cut 320 positions over the last year, ending with 10,580 full and part time employees in September. Most of the cuts took place overseas. Dauman says that in late October the company announced that it will hire 100 people for accounting, finance and corporate support at cable channel CMT’s headquarters in Tennessee, which means Viacom is “able to bring jobs onshore.”

Dauman cited two problems that worry some investors: He cited economic “headwinds” hurting ad sales — although he quickly added that Viacom can make up for any problems with additional revenues from rising fees that cable and satellite companies pay. Also, he said that Nickelodeon lost ad sales, especially from toy companies, beginning in September when Nielsen ‘inexplicably” reported unusually weak ratings. Although Dauman offered few details, Morgan Stanley’s Benjamin Swinburne says he believes live-only ratings in Nick’s key demos fell 9% in September and 15% in … Read More »

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RAUNCH RULES: ‘Horrible Bosses’ #2, ‘Zookeeper’ #3, ‘Transformers 3′ Still #1 And Now Top Grossing 2011 Domestic Film

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM UPDATE: Better late than never. I could blame my Horrible Bosses but they’d just claim to be my Zookeeper. (The reason, actually, is far less interesting and much more banal.) That said, both new movies outperformed their tracking and scored ‘B+’ CinemaScores. Though that sucking sound you heard starting Thursday was because of the giant tracking numbers for the upcoming final Harry Potter installment which made it hard for this weekend’s releases to show strength on paper. Overall Friday through Sunday moviegoing should total $155M, or -15% from last year. Refined numbers in the morning. Here’s the Top Ten:

1. Transformers 3 3D (Paramount) Week 2 [4,088 Theaters]
Friday $14.9M, Saturday $18.4M, Weekend $47M (-54%), Cume $261M

A very gold hold. Plus it now holds 2011′s record as the top grossing domestic film so far this year. (This 3D summer’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides made the vast majority of its money abroad…) Meanwhile, I’ve heard from a reliable source that Michael Bay should make between $80M and $100M from Paramount’s Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. And, if that’s not enough to make you call Hollywood’s suicide hotline, then this might be: Transformers 3 will now be the highest grossing movie of the  year. And its 2nd weekend is running +10% of Transformers 2‘s. Internationally, pic remained #1 on the foreign circuit this weekend, grossing a big $93M from 9,926 locations in 59 markets. So after only two weekends of release, the actioner has amassed an overseas cume of $384M anf global cume of $645M.

2. Horrible Bosses (New Line/Warner Bros) NEW [3,040 Theaters]
Friday $9.9M, Saturday $10.3M, Cume $28.1M

Yet another New Line high concept/low brow comedy had a good opening day that improved on Saturday — demonstrating that raunchy vagina- and scrotum-centric comedies (like Bridesmaids, The Hangover Part II, Bad Teacher) still rule the box office this summer. Audiences sampled Horrible Bosses with 51% of men rating it an ‘A-’ and 49% of women rating it a ‘B+’. The studio tells me that the film “played evenly well” across North America, over-indexing in Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Denver, and Kansas City. With 74% ripe on Rotten Tomatoes going into the weekend, plusses were the chemistry between leads Charlie Day, Jason Bateman, and Jason Sudeikis, as well as the poison oozing from Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston. Great Warner Bros marketing tapped into the universal relatability of contempt that workers have for their bosses rather than relied on the script’s lame gags. The campaign used tag lines (‘Is your boss a slave driving you psycho?’, ‘Is your boss a sex crazed maneater?’, ‘Is your boss a total sleazy tool?’) to good effect. The studio created early awareness with a hosting slot on the  MTV Movie Awards. I don’t understand why it took this $35M-budgeted film’s producers Brett Ratner and Jay Stern (paired on Rush Hour) four years to get this to the big screen, but it got there once director Seth Gordon nailed the tone on his first pitch. Credits on the script go to Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, and Jonathan Goldstein.

3. Zookeeper (MGM/Sony) NEW [3,482 Theaters]
Friday $7.4M, Saturday $7.5M, Weekend $21M

I remember when MGM production chief Mary Parent greenlit this script and got Kevin James at a pre-Paul Blart: Mall Cop bargain price. Then MGM slid slowly into bankruptcy, and the film became collateral damage and eventually a co-fiinanced production with Sony Pictures. Along the way the budget ballooned to $80M (because of all that talking animals CGI work). So now the pressure is on for the film to perform next weekend. At least Kevin James did his job and opened the movie to around $20M which is all anyone can ask of a star. Exit polling showed that audiences were 48% general moviegoers and 52% parents and children; overall 47% were male and 53% female, with 41% under age 25 while 59% over age 25. But it doesn’t bode well that PG Zookeeper didn’t get a Saturday kiddie bump especially when it had been tracking well enough with audiences and families to convince Sony execs to move it from October 2010 into a coveted July 2011 slot. (After cancelling Spider-Man 4 in favor of a reboot, the studio was light on summer product. Given the $1+B success of Pirates Of The Caribbean 4, is that the smart move now?)

Sony made Zookeeper seem like a tentpole  with a petting zoo inside Caesar’s Palace at Cinema-Con and a screening inside the gargantuan Colisseum. The studio tapped 220 zoos and aquariums nationwide in over 50 markets for live remote broadcasts. During the NBA post-season, Zookeeper was the exclusive motion picture partner for the finals, and Kevin James taped a series of interstitials using the NBA’s talking basketball and the film’s talking gorilla. Sony is hoping Zookeeper delivers a strong multiple here but also overseas, where it debuts this week in Mexico and Germany. I was surprised that celeb voices like Sly’s and Cher’s and Adam’s (and, yes, even Judd Apatow’s) weren’t more hyped in this country. Speaking of Sandler, this is another production pairing Sandler’s Happy Madison with James; other producers are Todd Garner, Jack Giarraputo, and Walt Becker. Directed by Frank Coraci, the screenplay is credited to Nick Bakay & Rock Reuben & Kevin James and Jay Scherick & David Ronn, with story by Jay Scherick & David Ronn. Read More »

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‘Transformers 3′ Biggest July 4th Weekend: Now Tracking $416M Global Thru Fireworks; Tom Hanks & Julia Roberts In Holiday Flop

MONDAY AM, 15TH UPDATE: There were fireworks for some Hollywood action and family movies this Fourth Of July long weekend but not for Hollywood stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts whose new movie bombed. Right now total U.S. and Canadian moviegoing for the holiday looks like $239M, which is trailing last year’s $250M by -4.5% but still the 2nd biggest Fourth Of July long weekend ever.

Here’s the Top 10 :

1. Transformers 3 3D(Paramount) NEW (opened Tues) [4,013 Theaters]
Tuesday $5.5M (9 PM), Wednesday $37.7M, Thursday $21.4M
Friday $32.8M, Saturday $34.4M, Sunday $30.2M, Monday
Three-Day Weekend $97.5M, Four-Day Holiday $116.4M, Cume $181.1M
Three-Day International $217M, Three-Day Global Cume $379M, International $235M, Global Cume $416M

Paramount’s latest Transformers: Dark Of The Moon is the giant #1 movie and biggest Fourth Of July opening weekend (3-day and 4-day) ever beating Spider-Man 2‘s $88.2M and $115.8M. IMAX broke its global record with the first ever $20M-plus debut ($22.5M global). Domestically, the pic opened with some 3D-only nighttime sneaks on Tuesday ($5.5M), followed by a full release into 4,013 theaters on Wednesday ($37.7M) and Thursday ($21.4M). Now Friday brings in a big $32.9M, Saturday $34.5M, and Sunday $30.2M. That’s still -6% behind 2009′s Transformers 2 despite 3D’s higher ticket prices. Michael Bay’s robot actioner should hit $181M through the Fourth of July, compared to TF2‘s $214M. About 60% of the gross was from 3D. “We expected to start behind the last one,” a Paramount exec tells me. “This one has an ‘A’ CinemaScore and better reviews, so it should play to a better multiple.” Paramount now says it’s the only studio to ever score five consecutive $100+M films.

The movie is doing even better overseas where sequels and 3D are more popular. Internationally the movie is open in 110 countries (but not yet Japan or China) and is up +55% over the franchise’s 2nd installment. Foreign should close in on $235M through Monday for Paramount Pictures International’s biggest opening weekend ever. Transformers: Dark Of The Moon shredded a bunch of box office records as it claimed #1 in 57 of the 58 territories where it was released. The movie was the biggest opening of all-time in 7 countries, led by Korea ($30M), Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Peru. About 70% of the overall gross was generated by 3D this weekend. Combined with the domestic result, TF3 becomes Hollywood’s third highest grossing worldwide debut ever with $416M global cume for its first 7 days. (TF2 did only $360M in 2009.)

2. Cars 2 3D (Pixar/Disney) Week 2 [4,115 Theaters]
Friday $7.8M, Saturday $9.4M, Sunday $8.8M, Monday
Three-Day Weekend $26.1M (-60%), Four-Day Holiday $32M, Cume $123M
International: $207.5M, Global Cume $330.5M

3. Bad Teacher (Sony) Week 2 [3,049 Theaters]
Friday $4.5M, Saturday $5M, Sunday $4.9M, Monday
Three-Day Weekend $14.4M (-54%), Four-Day Holiday $17.6M, Cume $63M

4. Larry Crowne (Universal) NEW [2,972 Theaters]
Friday $4.1M, Saturday $4.8M, Sunday $4.3M, Monday
Three-Day Weekend $13M, Four-Day Holiday $15.7M

The pairing of veteran Hollywood stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts failed to open Larry Crowne which also was produced and directed and co-written by Hanks. (Did he tell himself to dye his grey hair with the equivalent of black shoe polish? Looked weird…) Even though the two stars did any and all publicity for it, this is a bigger repudiation for Hanks who went on a rare 5-city personal appearance tour, his first since promoting Saving Private Ryan, and met with regional press in every one of those cities. He and Roberts
appeared on one of Oprah’s final shows together in early May, which re-aired this week, but Hanks also personally co-hosted Oprah’s final two blowout shows personally.

Despite all that, the romantic comedy finished a dismal #4 with just a $13M three-day weekend and $16M four-day holiday from a wide release into 2,972 theaters. That’s a very disappointing start for two stars who individually should be able to open a new pic to at least $20M of North American grosses for a three-day weekend and presumably more when paired. (Their last film together, 2007′s Charlie Wilson’s War, also bombed.) Their latest pic received a ‘B’ Cinemascore, but just ‘C+’ from audience members under age 35. Exit polling showed moviegoers were 64% female vs 36% male, and 81% over age 35 vs 19% under age 35. Good thing Universal was only distributing, and good thing the film’s negative cost was only $30M fully financed by Vendome Pictures. But the marketing cost was at least another $30M high with a heavy rotation of expensive TV ads. This is the third movie with major stars to disappoint at the box office this summer following Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern and Jim Carrey in Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

5. Super 8 (Paramount) Week 4 [3,088 Theaters]
Friday $2.2M, Saturday $2.8M, Sunday $2.7M, Monday
Three-Day Weekend $7.8M, Four Day Holiday $9.5M, Cume $110M

6. Monte Carlo (Fox) NEW [2,472 Theaters]
Friday $3.1M, Saturday $2.3M, Sunday $1.9M, Monday
Three-Day Weekend $7.4M, Four-Day Holiday $8.7M

Fox’s counterprogramming film aimed at tween/teen girls, Monte Carlo performed about as expected with an ‘A’ CinemaScore with $8.7M for the four-day weekend.

7. Green Lantern 3D (Warner Bros) Week 3 [3,280 Theaters]
Friday $1.9M, Saturday $2.3M, Sunday $2.2M, Monday
Three-Day Weekend $6.5M, Four-Day Holiday $8M, Cume $103.6M

8. Mr Popper’s Penguins (Fox) Week 3 [2,861 Theaters]
Friday $1.6M, Saturday $1.8M, Sunday $1.9M, Monday
Three-Day Weekend $5.4M, Four-Day Holiday $6.8M, Cume $51.8M

9. Bridesmaids (Universal) Week 8 [1,389 Theaters]
Friday $1M, Saturday $1.3M, Sunday $1.3M, Monday
Three-day Weekend $3.6M, Four-Day Holiday $4.4M, Cume $153.7M
International $34.8M, Global Cume $188.5M

10. Midnight In Paris (Sony Classics) Week 7 [858 Theaters]
Friday $866K, Saturday $1.3M, Sunday $1.4M, Monday
Three-Day Weekend $3.5M, Four-Day Holiday $4.3M, Cume $34.5M

Read More »

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No, Paramount Has NOT Finally Found New Financing Partners; Variety Gets It Wrong

Writing about big film financing deals is not for every Tom, Dick, or Harriet. It usually involves intricate knowledge of behind-the-scenes discussions atop the major studios and film funds. So I suppose it was inevitable that today Variety would get it wrong by leaving such sophisticated reporting in the hands of a shallowly sourced young newcomer who mistakenly writes that “Paramount has found new investors to back its tentpoles” when actually it’s just a minor update affecting non-Paramount partners of a 5-year-old co-financing deal. ”The story is stupid, misguided, and misleading,” a top Paramount executive just told me. “Nothing has changed in our financing approach to motion pictures. There is no new financing deal. Variety has it totally wrong.”

So let me tell you what’s really going on: only that the existing investors in Melrose II continue to have the right to co-finance sequels to the specific movies originally co-funded by them starting back in 2006. (Melrose I from 2004 was a $225 million fund bankrolling 25 Paramount films.) “They have no rights to finance any go-forward Paramount pics other than those sequels. And they can’t finance any sequels that Paramount doesn’t want to make,” the top Paramount exec tells me. “This has almost no impact on Paramount. It’s merely a new financing restructuring on their end.” What happened is only that JP Morgan and Bank of America replaced Germany’s Commerzbank on June 15th as senior lenders on Melrose II. Originally, Dresdner bank had been involved, but then Commerzbank purchased Dresdner in 2009 and … Read More »

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‘Transformers 3′ $150M For First 6 Days? Now 3D Opening On 7th Day: Tuesday 9PM

UPDATE: Turns out Paramount can’t count any better than I can. (And I’m math-impaired.) I’ve just learned that Paramount is low-balling its internal projections and saying Transformers 3: Dark Of The Moon should make $150 million in the first 6 days of release starting Wednesday, June 29th, and continuing through Fourth Of July’s long holiday weekend because it’s tracking ”very good”. But the studio is set on eking out every last dollar at the North American box office and just announced an exclusive 3D and IMAX engagement beginning on a 7th day — Tuesday, June 28th at 9 PM. in locations across the country. This is the first of Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise to be shot in 3D which Paramount’s Vice Chairman Rob Moore said in a statement today was ”an incredibly engaging and immersive 3D experience” from the director. So let’s get real: a $150M/5-day result for Transformers 3 would be disastrous, especially since the pic is 3D.

Remember that Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen opened to a 5-day overall of $200M from 4,234 theaters. Included were 169 IMAX screens which contributed $14.5M to that total. Internationally, the robot sequel made $166.1M with a cume of $190.3M including the early debuts in Japan and the UK. So that made for $390.4M worldwide those first 5 days.

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What Will Stop Wall Street’s Anti-3D Debate?

Wall Street’s backlash against 3D movies is growing serious. Just weeks after movie executives and investors wondered how well 3D films would do this summer, they’ve begun to ask much tougher questions including: When will movie theater chains begin to cancel orders for 3D projection equipment? And could continued weakening in ticket sales force AMC Entertainment to shelve its plan to go public and raise as much as $450 million?

Defenders of the technology are urging everyone to wait and see whether there’s an uptick in 3D ticket sales for Paramount’s Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, which opens July 1, and Warner Bros’ Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part II, which opens July 15.  The films should “help provide for a more positive outlook” for 3D in general and particularly for 3D technology company RealD, says Merriman Capital analyst Eric Wold.

But investors didn’t appear to agree on Friday. RealD’s stock price fell 13.2% to $20.90 the day after executives responded to the Street’s concerns with talking points that simply urged people not to read too much into disappointing 3D sales for just a few films. RealD shares now have lost 41.3% of their value since May 19. “While management dismisses a change in consumer enthusiasm toward 3D, the public is speaking and 3D is simply being overused with ticket premiums far too high,” says BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield — who has a “sell” rating on RealD. Read More »

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Paramount Moving Up ‘T’formers 3′ Release

EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just learned that Paramount is moving up Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark Of The Moon to Wednesday, June 29th from Friday, July 1st. The studio’s big Summer 2011 blockbuster will open day and date in all markets except China and Japan on that new date. “Early response to footage, especially the 3D footage, has been great so we want to get the word out that this film is as good or better than the first and much better than the last,” an insider just told me. It’s the only action movie opening between June 24th and July 15th.

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Super Bowl Spot: ‘Transformers 3′

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Hot Teaser: ‘Transformers 3′ (Now Titled ‘Transformers: Dark Of The Moon’

Mike Fleming

Paramount Pictures has issued a teaser trailer for the Michael Bay-directed TF3 now officially  titled Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The 3D picture is set for release on July 1st:

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Possibly The Most Idiotic TMZ Headline Ever

By | Wednesday October 6, 2010 @ 2:50pm PDT

“Studio Payout Won’t Stop ‘Transformers 3′ Lawsuit”
As if anything could…

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Paramount Reacts To Film Extra Seriously Hurt By ‘Transformers 3′ Stunt Gone Wrong

EXCLUSIVE UPDATE 5 PM: Paramount just weighed in with me to say that the injured extra was not involved in the stunt, that her car was not involved in the stunt, that a “freak accident caused her injury”, that she and her car were more than 500 feet from the stunt, that she was struck by a flying metal object whose welding had come apart and not by a steel towing cable, that the stunt from Tuesday had to be repeated Wednesday because of a “timing issue” and not because it had failed, and that “nobody has done movies more safely than Michael Bay”. The studio, however, could not explain why its version of events was so at odds with the local police and media reports. “We feel horrible that anyone was injured and will take all appropriate action,” a Paramount exec told me.

9:30 AM: Safety questions on Michael Bay’s set are being forwarded to me after an actress employed as a movie extra was “critically” injured during a Transformers 3 stunt that went wrong in Northwest Indiana. According to news reports quoting local police, the movie was filming a stunt involving multiple vehicles and drivers and flying cars when a metal object struck Gabriella Cedillo’s personal 2006 Toyota. It went through the windshield and hit the 24-year-old driver who was not a stunt professional or member of the stunt personnel. The Toyota hit … Read More »

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