Heard at Saturday’s pre-Oscar party circuit: Though he’s the rare producer twice nominated in the same year for Best Picture honors for The Social Network and True Grit, Scott Rudin turned in his tickets for the Academy Awards. I’m told that …
The Cinema Audio Society consisting of Sound Mixers and Associates from the film and television industries handed out its 47th Annual CAS Award Winners Saturday. The Society was founded to create a proper channel of communication between the related sound crafts and between those instrumental to the production and distribution …
The Deadline Team of Nikki Finke, Pete Hammond, and Mike Fleming have spent recent days interviewing the studio moguls to gauge their perspective on this very close Oscar race:
20 Nominations: 10 True Grit, 7 The Fighter, 2 How To Train Your Dragon, 1 Iron Man
DEADLINE’s Nikki Finke: You had the most Oscar nominations this year.
BRAD GREY: So every year for the last five years we have been very fortunate in that we have had a Best Picture nominee at Paramount. I certainly didn’t imagine that we would have two this year, and I’m thrilled that we do. But we were certainly hoping that we’d be in the race again. We’ve been supporting these pictures and there’s evidence by the box office that it’s been in a very profound way. I think they are both wildly deserving so it’s really nice that the Academy has recognized them.
DEADLINE: But how do you explain the most nominations of all studios?
GREY: I don’t know how you account for that, other than the fact that we are in business with great artists, great filmmakers, and really try to greenlight pictures that will have great emotion as well as great storytelling and great entertainment value. And what we look to do is to make pictures that will be commercially successful and/or critically successful, and hopefully both. We were fortunate in that the Coens really hit a bullseye with True Grit. They produced and directed a picture that is a family film for Christmas which is going to be their greatest financial success in their careers. And the picture will do over a quarter of a billion dollars around the world, which is a huge number. And critically people have responded, and audiences have responded. So we are thrilled with that and we are supporting them through this Oscar race and campaign. To my mind, we’ve already won. The Fighter is the same situation as far as I’m concerned. It’s a touching beautiful story directed by David O. Russell and I think it’s David’s best work. I love the fact that this will reinvent David and give David a greater opportunity in the future. And it is frankly all a testament to Mark Walberg’s passion because we were working with Mark for years on this project. And at first it was to be Mark and Brad Pitt, and then it was to be Mark and Matt Damon. And poor Mark kept training and retraining as people kept coming in and falling out. And then thankfully Christian Bale came in and did a stunning job with him under David’s direction. And the folks at Relativity stepped up, and our group did an extraordinary job of marketing of what in essence people were calling a boxing movie.
DEADLINE: Let’s talk about True Grit first. There already was a classic movie and John Wayne won an Oscar for it from a 42-year-old novel. How do you say yes to a remake of that? And to a western?
GREY: Well, it’s my responsibility to decide what gets greenlit at our company. And for me it’s a very easy call when the economics are right to back Joel and Ethan in anything. There is very little that Joel and Ethan could come to me with that I wouldn’t support at the right price point because I am a huge admirer of theirs. And having grown up in the business representing talent and nurturing talent and surrounding myself with the best in talent, I consider them among that group. And so I just think we are fortunate to be in business with them. So now you get to True Grit, and they had a take on how to make the book something special and to really take those characters and turn it into what would be the most commercial work that they have done because it didn’t lend itself to great violence.
DEADLINE: And that kid, Hailee Steinfeld…
GREY: She’s amazing. And they found her after looking at so many different actresses. And Jeff Bridges was extraordinary as Rooster Cogburn. So you take these two characters and you surround them with Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and everybody else, and I would bet on the Coen brothers every day. So that’s the show part. The business part was they made the picture at a very reasonable price.
DEADLINE: The budget was under $40 million, really?
GREY: Yes, we’re going to do very well, and they deserve it, and they will do very well. And we made a deal with them, as we have with so many others, where we kind of recalibrated how we make these talent deals so that once we recoup our money, everybody gets to share and everybody deserves to share. So the Coens will have the biggest payday of their career, but they have truly earned it. So that’s how you make True Grit: you bet on Joel and Ethan. And then you add to that the fact that Scott Rudin is, to my mind, one of the great producers that the industry has. So that’s a hell of a combination.
DEADLINE: Were you worried that Rudin would have divided loyalties because he also had The Social Network in the hunt for Oscars?
GREY: I just don’t think you can think that way. In the words of my dear friend and my hero Ron Meyer, he once told me when he was an agent that he had a conflict of interest the day he signed his second client. Scott is a producer who is prolific and making pictures at the same time at other studios and Scott happens to have an embarrassment of riches this year and so we share that.
DEADLINE: Many people were surprised True Grit became a Christmas family film.
GREY: I went to New York to sit with Joel and Ethan in October, and they were just cutting and very very nervous. And we had a Christmas date to hit because we saw it as a big family movie. And obviously that’s a different mindset than they are used to. Joel was saying, ‘Well, I know we can get this done, I know we can get this done’, and Ethan was saying, ‘Brad, please don’t make us make this date, please don’t make us make this date.’ And then I said to both of them: ‘Look, guys, if you can make the date, it will be well worth your while because the audiences will respond over Christmas. If you can’t, we will do our best to market and distribute this after Christmas, but you will regret it. So do your best.’ And they called me a week later and said, ‘We’re going to make the date’, and they did.
DEADLINE: Now on The Fighter, Paramount was developing it and then pulled out. Relativity comes in and cuts the budget by half. Why didn’t Paramount just cut the budget?
GREY: I think that is somewhat inaccurate. We supported Mark Wahlberg and tried to develop it for years with him. But it wasn’t coming together, and certainly wasn’t coming together at the price point that it was finally made at. And so we talked to Mark specifically about lowering the budget. But for any number of reasons, and I certainly can’t even tell you at this point why, it just never got there. But we didn’t want to derail Mark’s passion project, so we said ‘Try to figure this out.’ Relativity then stepped up at the price point that they were comfortable with.
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: Rentrak is having system issues so box office will be a bit late today. But Paramount was so worried about its No Strings Attached being a stinker that the studio didn’t even bother to give me a pre-release briefing. I don’t necessarily blame them: any movie starring Ashton Kutcher is probably a bomb since his last one — PG-13 Killers with Katherine Heigl — opened to only $15.8M for Lionsgate. And rom-coms, especially sexy R-rated ones (Ed Zwick’s Love And Other Drugs which opened to only $9.7M for Fox with Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal) have been stillborn at the North American box office with this caliber of star. But No Strings Attached surprised at the box office, not only coming in No. 1 but with a decent $20.3M. Exit polls showed 70% of the audience was female, meaning it should be the least affected by football on Sunday. As for CinemaScore, 40% of those aged under 25 gave the film an “A-” while 60% over 25 scored it a “B”.
This $25 million-cost movie started out as a Black List script titled Fuckbuddies and written by Elizabeth Merriwether. Natalie Portman came on board as a producer and star for Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollock’s The Montecito Picture Company, which co-financed in partnership with Coldspring and Paramount’s usual partner Spyglass Entertainment.
Natalie is hot after her Oscar-worthy transformative performance in Black Swan and now finds herself with 2 movies in this weekend’s Top 6. And perhaps risking overexposure because of her new pics opening in January, February, April, and May. Anyway, the pic took advantage of being the only wide opening this weekend and may hang on for $20M. (Remember, it took Ron Howard’s Dilemma starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James 4 days to even make that over the MLK long holiday.) The film had been tracking strong with 20-year-old females whom Paramount pursued aggresively not with traditional newspaper ads but instead with a big Facebook push of a sexy Red Band trailer. Meanwhile, Sony’s The Green Hornet 3D and Universal’s aforementioned Dilemma look to drop more than -35% each this weekend. Here’s the Top 10:
1. No Strings Attached (Paramount) NEW [3,018 Theaters]
Friday $7.3M, Saturday $8.2M, Weekend $20.3M
2. The Green Hornet 3D (Sony) Week 2 [3,584 Theaters]
Friday $5.1M, Saturday $8.7M, Weekend $18.1M (-31%), Cume $63.4M
3. The Dilemma (Universal) Week 2 [2,943 Theaters]
Friday $3M, Saturday $4.5M, Weekend $9.9M (-33%), Cume $33.5M
4. The King’s Speech (Weinstein Co) Week 9 [1,680 Theaters]
Friday $2.1M, Saturday $3.9M, Weekend $9.1M, Cume $58.6M
Beverly Hills, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that seven films remain in competition in the Makeup category for the 83rd Academy Awards.
The films are listed below in alphabetical order:
“Alice in Wonderland”
“The Way Back”
On Saturday, January 22, all
SUNDAY AM: Knowing it was going to be a boring box office, I took off Saturday. First, I have zero interest in country music. Sony/Screen Gems’ Country Strong, which expanded into 1,424 theaters and made $7.3M in wider release, hitting the “high end” of the studio’s expectations, with a “B” CinemaScore. The only other tidbit of interest is that a Relativity genre movie finally had an opening that didn’t suck in even if audiences gave it only a “C+” CinemaScore and its budget was a too-big $40 million. This nonsense about medieval knights and witches, again something in which I have zero interest, did around $10.7 million for the weekend. Because all the bigwigs were at the Palm Springs Film Festival for The Fighter, the Relativity spin machine was keeping its other movie’s news under wraps – probably more used to handling losers at the box office.
Meanwhile Oscar-touted movies keep racking up bigger cumes. So how does Sony Pictures continue to remind awards voters about The Social Network when it was released way back in September? If you’re Jeff Blake, you decide to re-release the Facebook origins story in about 600 nationwide theaters this weekend to take advantage of all the critical acclaim and awards hype. And then launch the DVD on January 11th with more than 8 hours of bonus extras. But you also fete the fact that The Social Network will pass $200 million at the worldwide box office within the week. The Social Network has grossed more than $94 million in the U.S. after adding another $650K to its cume.
Here are the Top 10 grosses:
1. True Grit (Paramount) Week 3 [3,124 Theaters]
Friday $4.4M, Saturday $6.5M, Weekend $15M, Cume $110.4M
2. Little Fockers (Universal) Week 3 [3,675 Theaters]
Friday $4.2M, Saturday $6.3, Weekend $13.7M, Cume $127.9M
3. Season Of The Witch (Relativity) NEW [2,816 Theaters]
Friday $3.7M, Saturday $4.3M, Weekend $10.7M
This supernatural pic made with Atlas Entertainment had a too-big production budget of $40M although Relativity claims pre-sales and tax credits are estimated to cover “a minimum of 75% of that”. This one should earn out because box office combined with the foreign output deals and Relativity’s Netflix arrangement make this the first decent opening for the company in a long time. Somehow, Nicolas Cage (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, National Treasure, Ghost Rider) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Hellboy II) got roped into this. As I said, audiences gave it only a “C+” CinemaScore, and exit polls showed its moviegoers were 52%/48% male vs female, 39%/61% under vs over age 25, and 31%/69% Caucasian vs non-Caucasian (including 36% Hispanic, 14% Asian, 10% African-American, and 9% Other).
4. Tron: Legacy 3D (Disney) Week 4 [3,013 Theaters]
Friday $2.5M, Weekend $9.8M, Cume $147.9M
The big news here is that the Disney action pic’s international is up to $143.2M (including $17.6M this weekend), as Tron: Legacy 3D opened strong in Italy this past week and is now in release in 43 territories representing 75% of the international market. It will soon expand to China, Belgium, Holland, Germany, and France. New global cume is $291.1M which helps with that $170M budget and $120 worldwide marketing cost.
5. Black Swan (Fox Searchlight) Week 6 [1,584 Theaters]
Friday $2.3M, Saturday $3.3M, Weekend $8.3M, Cume $61.4M
6. Country Strong (Screen Gems/Sony) Week [1,424 Theaters]
Friday $2.5M, Saturday $3M, Weekend $7.3M, Cume $7.4M
Sony today said this “hit the high end of our expectations” as the Gwyneth Paltrow pic featuring lotsa country music stars expanded from its 2-theater platforming in Nashville and Los Angeles. Opening weekend exits had a core audience of women who made up 73% of ticket sales and 49% of those were under 30. The film earned a “B+” CinemaScore among women and a “B” overall.
7. The Fighter (Relativity/Paramount) Week 5 [2,528 Theaters]
Friday $2M, Saturday $3M, Weekend $7M, Cume $57.8M
8. The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Co) Week 7 [758 Theaters]
Friday $1.7M, Saturday $2.8M, Weekend $6.8M, Cume $33.2M
9. Yogi Bear 3D (Warner Bros) Week 4 [3,288 Theaters]
Friday $1.1M, Saturday $3.3M, Weekend $6.8M, Cume $75.6M
10. Tangled (Disney) Week 7 [2,383 Theaters]
Friday $1M, Saturday $2.5M, Cume $5.2M, Cume $175.9M
This Disney juggernaut added another $26.3M from overseas and opened at #1 in all 10 of this weekend’s debut territories, including Australia, Brazil, Greece, New Zealand, Argentina, and Columbia. The film is currently in release in 43 territories representing approximately 55% of the international market.