After making Avatar in Wellington, James Cameron’s three sequels are now also lined up to shoot in New Zealand. The Kiwi government says it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox to see the director make each of the next Avatar installments locally. The move doesn’t come as much of a surprise given Cameron/Avatar‘s history Down Under, along with the helmer’s 2012 purchase of oodles of land in South Wairarapa, near Wellington. The news coincides with changes to the tax incentive structure in New Zealand which were also unveiled today. Under the new regs, the new Avatars could qualify for a total rebate of 25%.
When the first Avatar was made in New Zealand, it delivered more than NZ$307M in spend for the local economy. The memo of understanding on the new movies includes several commitments inlcuding a spend of at least NZ$500M ($413.1M) on local production activity – ie, most of the live action shooting and VFX. There’s also an engagement to hire Kiwis in Head of Department roles with about 90% of the live action crew expected to be local. New Zealand will also get to host “at least one” official red carpet premiere. (The original film world premiered in London.) James Cameron and John Landau have also offered to serve as founding members of a new screen advisory board. And, there is language on marketing and promotion of New Zealand and its film industry alongside the three Avatar films; the transfer of technological know-how to New Zealanders; retaining screen production infrastructure in New Zealand that could be used for industry training; and a commitment by both parties to grow the screen sector in New Zealand and to building a long term and productive relationship between the Crown and Lightstorm/Twentieth Century Fox.
Meanwhile, changes to the tax incentive scheme announced by the local government today will see a hike in the rebate from 15% to 20% for international film and television productions. A further 5% will be available for international productions that deliver significant economic benefits to New Zealand. An as-yet undefined points system will determine eligibility. Read More »
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has tapped Julia Howe as Senior Vice President, Brand Marketing reporting to Twentieth’s Worldwide Marketing EVP Vincent Marcais. Howe will oversee North America brand marketing for new live action film and franchise releases for Fox. She comes to the company from the AP where she served as Marketing Director, EMEA & Asia focusing on markets outside of the U.S. and Latin America. Fox has also upped Cameron Dillavou to Vice President, International Marketing reporting to International Marketing SVP Tom Warner. Dillavou will also work on new live-action features developing campaigns, international product offerings, and release strategies. She also spearheads the marketing of physical product with digital rights as well as the first consumer anti-piracy campaign in Russia. Dillavou first joined Fox in 2008 as Director of International New Release Marketing.
EXCLUSIVE: In a mid-six-figure deal, 20th Century Fox has acquired The Asset, a thriller that will be written by Morgan Davis Foehl, who with Michael Mann co-scripted Cyber, the film Mann is helming. Maybe it’s the fact that sophisticated movies such as Gravity, Captain Phillips and 12 Years A Slave are doing well, but there seems to be a renewed level of vigor for specs and pitches lately. This one had Paramount, Universal, Warner Bros and Sony all circling with producers, before Fox and Scott Free made the deal on Friday. Ridley Scott and Michael Schaefer will be the producers.
A former Army Ranger is enlisted to infiltrate a dangerous group of ex-Special Forces soldiers living overseas who have revolted against the U.S. government by assassinating confidential informants all over the world. The project was brought in by Scott Free’s Michael Pruss and Fox execs Mark Roybal and Ryan Jones. Pruss will be an exec producer. Foehl is repped by WME and Wirehouse Entertainment.
The animated series is “the greatest television asset of all time, and certainly of the generation,” 20th Century Fox Television chairman Gary Newman told investors today at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. He adds that “there will be one of the media companies that will want to identify with this in a big way.” Fox is telling cable networks that the 25-year-old The Simpsons has “only been on broadcast stations; it hasn’t been on Netflix or on cable yet. It hasn’t been as exploited as one might think.” And with more than 530 episodes in the can, ”a cable channel could play the series for 52 weeks and not have to repeat.” The studio also is telling potential buyers that they can be creative: For example there are enough “Treehouse Of Horror” episodes to run all through October, and sufficient episodes featuring Marge to surround Mother’s Day all through May. With new episodes continuing to appear on Fox’s broadcast network, the franchise is “stronger than ever,” Newman says. He notes that Electronic Arts’ The Simpsons: Tapped Out is “the No. 1 game in the mobile space. We’re going to be releasing another one.” Universal Studios also is doing well with its Simpsons Land … Read More »
James Finn has managed communications for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for all title releases and technology advancements since 2009. In his new role as EVP Marketing Communication, Finn’s expanded responsibilities include global oversight of corporate communications, digital marketing, media, publicity and marketing partnerships for the division. His appointment was announced today by Mary Daily, President and Chief Marketing Officer of Worldwide Marketing, to whom he will report. In his previous position, Finn oversaw the implementation of more than 200 campaigns a year and was involved in several of Fox’s most successful film and TV franchises, including Avatar, Alvin And The Chipmunks, Family Guy, Glee, Ice Age, Modern Family, Planet Of The Apes, Rio, Sons Of Anarchy, Star Wars, The Simpsons and X-Men. Read More »
Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake, Anthony Mackie and Gemma Arterton star in this drama set in the world of offshore online gambling. Lincoln Lawyer helmer Brad Furman directs Runner Runner from a script by David Levien and Brian Koppelman. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way produces the film that Fox is releasing on September 27. Here’s the first trailer:
Hugh Jackman returns as The Wolverine in the Fox superhero movie that bows Stateside on July 26. The James Mangold-directed pic is the sequel to 2009′s X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the latest in the X-Men franchise. It finds Wolverine out of his depth in modern day Japan where he faces his ultimate nemesis in a life-or-death battle that will leave him forever changed. Brian Tee, Will Yun Lee and Hiroyuki Sanada also star, with a cameo by Famke Janssen. Oscar-nominee Jackman will also strap on his Adamantium claws for Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past that’s out next year. Here’s the domestic trailer Fox released today, followed by the international one:
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SUNDAY UPDATE: Twentieth Century Fox Film Chairman/CEO Jim Gianopulos tells me that the end card anti-piracy project was suggested by the Obama administration. “It was actually an idea of Vice President Biden’s when we visited him during a MPAA Board meeting earlier this year. We thought it was an excellent suggestion and adopted the idea and will continue for all movies going forward.” So far no other studio has adopted it.
PREVIOUS… SATURDAY: It’s hard for Hollywood to explain to consumers about the losses to the movie industry caused by piracy. Especially when talking heads like studio moguls and government officials try and fail. So kudos to Ted Gagliano, president of 20th Century Fox feature post-production, who began putting end cards on the studio’s movies like this one. It’s on Walden Media/Fox’s Chasing Mavericks now in theaters. It explains the hours and jobs involved in making movies and indicates how they will be lost through piracy. “This is something we instituted starting with Taken 2,” 20th Century Fox distribution boss Chris Aronson tells me. “I think it’s a fantastic initiative and am glad we are doing it. More should.”
Related: MPAA To Candidates: Anti-Piracy Remains A “Critical” Priority
With zero fanfare today, execs for DreamWorks Animation and its new distributor Twentieth Century Fox announced DWA’s 2013-2016 slate which includes 12 CG animated films in 4 years. That, the execs say, is a major industry first. What they’re not saying is that it also seems like a desperation move for this public company. Wall Street is, to put it generously, skeptical about DreamWorks Animation’s prospects. Of the 13 analysts who follow the company according to Thomson/First Call data, only one has a “buy” recommendation. Seven rate it a “hold”. And five designate it either “underperform” or “sell”. The stock is up 5.8% so far this year but that’s lousy since NASDAQ where DWA trades is up 20.4%. And over the last 12 months DreamWorks Animation is down 5.4% while NASDAQ is up 27.1%.
The basic problem for DreamWorks is that its business model appears to be crumbling. One major concern is that Jeffrey Katzenberg‘s formula of making parodies of movie genres as well as sequel after spinoff has run its course – and the new slate looks like more of the same. (As opposed to Pixar’s boundless creativity.) Competition is growing in computer animation not just from Pixar but from Illumination Entertainment and Blue Sky Studios and so on. DVD sales for family fare are declining at an alarming pace. 3D didn’t live up to anyone’s expectations even though Katzenberg negotiated with exhibitors for its exorbitant pricetag. (Yes, consumers, he’s to blame.) Production costs keep rising. Merchandise sales for recent movies including Madagascar 3 were disappointing. Live shows are only so-so. (DWA took a $5M impairment charge for Shrek The Musical). And so on.
Which were just some of the reasons why Time Warner, Comcast, and the Walt Disney Co weren’t interested in buying DreamWorks Animation when Katzenberg thought it would be a slam dunk deal. Read More »
Twentieth Century Fox is releasing Titanic 3D through a licensing arrangement with the Mingalar Company on August 17. “In recent years, we have entered markets such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Mongolia and Papua New Guinea”, Twentieth Century Fox co-presidents Tomas Jegeus and Paul Hanneman said in a statement. “We have noted with great interest the reforms taking place in Burma under Thein Sein and look forward to visiting our newest territory when we travel Asia later this year”. The studio says it is the first in decades to release a film in Myanmar. Since it began its re-release this past spring, Titanic 3D has grossed nearly $344 million worldwide, bringing the lifetime worldwide total for the James Cameron film to $2.19 billion, to date.
Amazon-owned Lovefilm has entered a multi-year streaming deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution for recent and upcoming movies and TV series. Subscription service Lovefilm, which operates in the UK, Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Norway, also has agreements in place with Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, eOne, Studiocanal, Disney, ABC, the BBC and ITV. The first feature titles available via the pact will roll out in March next year and will begin with Fox films originally released in the UK in 2011. Fox TV titles will become available next month and will include early seasons of Sons Of Anarchy and all seasons of 24, Prison Break, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. Lovefilm rival Netflix launched in the UK in January with deals in place with such content providers as Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount, the BBC, NBCUniversal, Sony, Disney, MGM and Miramax.
EXCLUSIVE: So this now means 20th Century Fox is getting behind both Steven Spielberg’s earnest Lincoln biopic as well as Tim Burton’s horror genre film Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. (“Preferably not releasing them at the same time,” one insider told me.) Such is the dichotomy of Hollywood these days. Or, as one of Deadline’s commenters says, can’t wait for the mashups. Participant Media is also a financier on DreamWorks’ Lincoln. It’s one of only two movies which DreamWorks is releasing in 2012 along with the small Welcome To People. But the studio keeps denying that its principal financial backer Reliance is backing away despite chatter to that effect. ”Not true that they’ve closed the spiggot,” an insider tells me. “It was just a tad ambitious having six movies at once last year. They should have been staggered.” Four years in the making, Spielberg’s Lincoln stars Daniel Day-Lewis and has finished production. With a screenplay from Tony Kushner based on the bestselling book Team of Rivals by Doris Kerns Goodwin, Lincoln will be released domestically late this year through Disney’s Touchstone label. Twentieth Century Fox already is co-financing Spielberg’s Robopocalypse, a Drew Goddard-scripted adaptation of the Daniel H. Wilson epic novel about the human race’s attempt to survive an apocalyptic robot uprising. Disney will release domestically and Fox will distribute the film overseas. It will open in the U.S. on July 3, … Read More »
Twentieth Century Fox acquired the action thriller spec Narco Sub from David Guggenheim with Tony Scott attached to direct. Simon Kinberg’s Genre Films is producing with Tony and Ridley’s Scott Free shingle. Guggenheim developed the script with Kinberg and it has become a priority at Fox which is home to Scott Free and Genre. Described as reminiscent of Scott’s Crimson Tide and Man on Fire, plot for Narco Sub involves the semi-submersible crafts South American drug cartels employ to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. Tony Scott last directed Unstoppable for Fox with Denzel Washington starring. Kinberg is writer/producer of Fox’s This Means War as well as a producer on the just wrapped Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Neal Blomkamp’s Elysium. Guggenheim has a bunch of works in progress. His script Santiago based on a pitch Fox bought last year is out to filmmakers with Kinberg producing. Guggenheim also has Safe House opening February 10 with Washington and Ryan Reynolds. Also in post is Guggenheim’s spec project Medallion with Nic Cage directed by Simon West from Millennium Films. McG also just signed to direct Guggenheim’s Puzzle Palace for Summit, and Guggenheim just sold another pitch 364 to Universal for Ron Howard to direct. Steve Asbell will oversee Narco Sub for Fox, Michael Costigan and Elishia Holmes for Scott Free and Aditya Sood for Genre Films. Guggenheim’s agent is David Boxerbaum and manager is Adam Kolbrenner at Madhouse.
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 5TH UPDATE: Studios tell me this Easter Weekend began and ended with rain and storms in 2/3s of the U.S. and the first huge “up” weekend of $125M, which is +34% from last year. Twentieth Century Fox’s Rio 3D may be about a bird, but Friday and Saturday numbers showed “it’s holding like a rock,” a studio exec emailed me. Lionsgate’s latest in Tyler Perry’s franchise, Madea’s Big Happy Family, had the best per screen average of all the top-grossing pictures. This is, after all, Perry’s sixth cross-dressing film; still, the last one opened to a $41M weekend and the one before to $30M and this will be even lower by end of day Sunday. scoring an “A-” CinemaScore was Fox 2000′s Water For Elephants based on Sara Gruen’s best-selling book and written by Richard LaGravenese and directed by Francis Lawrence. Clearly, the classy ad campaign was intriguing for adults who don’t rush out to see films, and for Robert Pattinson’s Twi-hards who do. But this beautifully filmed but searing drama was considered a hard sell. It was also a fine weekend for Universal’s holdover Hop from Illumination Entertainment after passing $100M. And Disneynature’s African Cats narrated by Samuel Jackson played well for a niche nature movie that truly deserves to be seen, as evidenced by its “A-” CinemaScore. Full analysis … Read More »
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 3RD UPDATE: After some initial uncertainty, this was indeed the comeback weekend that finally ended Hollywood’s extended 2011 slump at the North American box office. Because after a weak Friday, most of these pics grossed stronger on Saturday. The overall total is around $134 million, 11.7% ahead of last year’s $119M. Meanwhile, this weekend Twentieth Century Fox’s Rio 3D posted the best G-rated family pic opening since Toy Story 3, The Weinstein Co’s Scream 4 whimpered, Warner Bros’ Arthur slipped still more, FilmDistrict’s Insidious and Soul Surfer stayed strong, and Robert Redford’s The Conspirator debuted #9 in the Top 10 despite playing in only 707 theaters:
1. Rio 3D (Fox) NEW [3,826 Theaters]
Friday $10.2M, Saturday $17.1M, Weekend $40M, Global $168M
Twentieth Century Fox’s Latin-flavored toon Rio 3D already is #1 internationally with after opening in 92 territories and a premiere in Rio De Janeiro. With this weekend’s $53.5M earned overseas from 20 territories adding to its already $79.2M from 72 territories last week, plus domestic tally of $40M, its worldwide cume is now $168M. It finally opened in the U.S. and Canada Friday and earned a top “A” CinemaScore as well as the top spot. Made by Brazilian director Carlos Saldanha as a tribute to his hometown’s natural beauty and upbeat lifestyle, the bird flew past the studio’s mid-$30s target and even Hollywood’s $38M projections. With not many schools out Friday, Saturday’s kiddie matinees overperformed. Made for just a $90M budget because of tax breaks in Connecticut where Blue Sky Studios is based, the pic is playing … Read More »
The makers of the hit toon franchise Ice Age have another winner on their hands, and Brazilian director Carlos Saldanha a tribute to his home town’s natural beauty and upbeat lifestyle. Twentieth Century Fox numbers show its newest 3D animation feature Rio flew into the international marketplace with a total estimated box office cume of $55M from 11,612 screens in 72 countries. The 6,654 3D screens (or 57% of screens) contributed 71% of the total opening weekend box office. Opening outside of school holidays almost everywhere, Rio — about a domesticated Macaw from Brazil living in Minnesota who can’t fly but travels overseas — took the #1 ranking in nearly every market, with several openings that were the biggest in their markets to date this year. Fox International co-presidents Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus commented: “This is a fantastic start for a new franchise. With consistently stellar reviews and excellent word-of-mouth around the world –- as well as no significant family competition ahead — we are well established to take advantage of the school holidays which begin in the coming weeks.” (UK and Australia holidays begin this week).
Rio will open next weekend in 19 additional markets including France, Belgium and Italy, and on April 15 in the US. When Rio began to hit overseas and showed tremendous strength, it swamped Universal’s Hop overseas. So this is shaping up as a worldwide battle between the two kid films for the Easter holidays. Last weekend, Hop got off to a … Read More »
Twentieth Century Fox execs today muscled their 2011 release schedule. First and foremost the studio’s big tentpole Rise Of The Apes moves from June 24th to November 23rd because there’s a Thanksgiving family film overload. This Planet Of The Apes origins story about genetic engineering is considered big enough to be informally nicknamed “Apetar”
The studio has enough faith in Jim Carrey’s Mr. Popper’s Penguins to move this family film featuring Jim Carrey (back doing what his fans want him to do) from August 12th to the start of the summer on June 17th.
The Big Year, about the Bird-Watching Men Of North America (inspired by the book “The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession” by Mark Obmascik) and starring Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson gets scheduled for October 14th.
The Jonah Hill “R”-rated comedy The Sitter moves from the heart of the summer on July 15th to August 5th.
Monte Carlo, the Selena Gomez/Leighton Meester starrer moves from July 1st to August 12th.
The Anna Faris “R”-rated comedy What’s Your Number? from New Regency changes release dates from April 29th to September 30th.
And, finally, the New Regency high-concept sci-fi fantasy about time as currency, titled Now and starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, moves from September 30th to October 28th.
EXCLUSIVE: First, it started out as an Alien Prequel. But then it morphed into something “more original”, an insider tells us – even though Hollywood kept referring to the project as “The Alien Prequel” right up until today when Twentieth Century Fox officially announced the new Ridley Scott production as Prometheus is now bound for worldwide release on March 9th, 2012. Returning to science fiction filmmaking for the first time since Blade Runner, Scott will direct this epic. Of the five major roles to be cast, Noomi Rapace is the first actor signed to star (as “Elizabeth Shaw”), and we hear that Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron are both circling the other big female lead (“Vickers”).
The initial draft of the script was written by Jon Spaihts (The Darkest Hour) from Ridley’s idea. Damon Lindelof (Lost, Star Trek) and Scott have since been working together on the current version which has expanded the story into new directions. We hear they were instructed to “go off and come up with what they want” using the ‘Alien DNA’. Though story details are being closely guarded, Ridley explained the outlines of the film and its genesis as follows: “While Alien was indeed the jumping off point for this project, out of the creative process evolved a new, grand mythology and universe in which this original story takes place. The keen fan will recognize strands of Alien’s DNA, so to speak, but the … Read More »