Hart will first co-write the comedy along with his scripting teammates Joey Wells, Chris Spencer and Harry Ratchford. He’ll then star as a man who lives in the shadow of his NBA superstar brother (James), but gets a chance to prove himself when he and some pals attend a weekend fantasy basketball camp in Miami. Hart is certainly dominant in the stand-up arena, but posting up against this screen sibling could be dangerous. Hart is under 5’3″ while James is a towering 6’8.” That kind of sibling size differential hasn’t been seen since Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in another Universal comedy, Twins. They’ll sign a director when Hart and his cohorts turn in the script. The plan is to start production next summer when James has time off. READ MORE »
UPDATE: Universal Formalizes ‘Fast & Furious 7′ Postponement, But There Are No Plans To End Franchise
Dominic Patten contributed to this report
UPDATE, 11:33 AM: Sources involved in Fast & Furious 7 said there are no plans to scrap the franchise after star Paul Walker‘s tragic death Saturday in a car crash. And that makes business sense: The franchise is one of the most lucrative in Hollywood, having already made more than $2.4 billion for Universal. The sixth installment, released this past summer, made almost $789 million worldwide at the box office. It is too early to determine whether the production will recast or rewrite and all options are being considered. The film, which was filming in Atlanta, has roughly 50% of that location shoot completed. Other locations for the film were set for the Middle East.
PREVIOUS, 10:20 AM: Universal Pictures has formalized something that seemed obvious since the weekend. The studio has indefinitely postponed production on Fast & Furious 7 following the tragic death of Paul Walker in a car accident that occurred while the cast and crew were on a holiday break. I’ve seen reams of web speculation, even one traffic grabber that the studio might scrap the film, and wow it all seems so creepy to me. Work on the half-done production would have resumed two days ago. The studio, the director James Wan, writer Chris Morgan and producer Neal Moritz have just begun trying to figure out what to do to keep this billion-dollar franchise alive.
It seems fairly obvious the film will not make its July 2014 release date, and it also feels highly unlikely they will shoot a foot of film before the end of this year. Beyond allowing a mourning period for the traumatized cast and crew to get past the death of an actor who I’m told was the kind of guy who knew the names of everybody on set, there are major creative hurdles to overcome here. It is laudable of the studio and filmmakers to factor all of these variables and take the time to make the right decision before bringing everyone back to work. I don’t think there is a chance that the studio would abandon the franchise, as has been speculated elsewhere. Here is a formal statement by the studio:
EXCLUSIVE: Dylan Neal is the latest actor to join the cast of Universal Pictures and Focus Features’ adaptation of EL James’ bestselling Fifty Shades Of Grey. He’ll play Bob, Anastasia Steele’s (Dakota Johnson) stepfather and husband of Carla Adams (Jennifer Ehle). He begins shooting this week in Vancouver. Neal currently stars in Hallmark Channel’s Cedar Cove opposite Andie MacDowell. He is also shooting the second season of The CW’s Arrow, in the recurring role of the villainous Dr. Anthony Ivo. Jamie Dornan has been set to play Christian Grey opposite Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele in the pic directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, which will hit theaters February 13, 2015.
The British singer-songwriter who had a cameo in Fast & Furious 6 has been cast in another movie you might have heard about. Rita Ora will play Mia, the outgoing adopted sister of billionaire Christian Grey, in Universal‘s adaptation of E L James’ mega-selling novel Fifty Shades Of Grey. The Albania-born Ora has topped the British album and singles charts but hasn’t broken through in the U.S. This ought to help. She is repped by CAA and manager Sarah Stennett.
Nearing the end of its best year ever at the domestic box office, Universal announced a slew of release dates today. The recently shaken-up studio has set its reboot of The Mummy for April 22, 2016, and Seventh Son, the Jeff Bridges-Julianne Moore fantasy that Legendary picked up from Warner Bros in August, will bow February 6, 2015, a week before the arrival of Universal’s Fifty Shades Of Grey. Legendary‘s untitled Michael Mann cyberthriller for January 16, 2015. and Blumhouse’s Jennifer Lopez thriller The Boy Next Door hits theaters on January 23, 2015. The studio also is pushing its video game adaptation Warcraft — the first film that had been dated under the new Universal-Legendary partnership — from December 18, 2015 to March 2016. If that vacated date looks familiar, it’s probably because a little flick known as Star Wars: Episode VII was penciled into that slot three weeks ago. Warcraft has that new weekend to itself for now.
So what competition will the newly dated pics face when they arrive a year or two or more from now? The Mummy and The Boy Next Door have no wide openers to contend with as of yet, but the other two do. Seventh Son will go against Sony/Screen Gems’ The Wedding Ringer, starring Kevin Hart, Josh Gad and Kaley Cuoco, and the Michael Mann pic will battle — in a jolt to the neck of Old Hollywood monster movie purists — Fox’s Frankenstein. If you’re scoring along at home, that will be four score and four years after Universal stitched together its Boris Karloff horror classic.
Here’s some background from the studio on its freshly slotted pics:
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and producer Scott Stuber have set Sarah Treem to adapt Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year Of Living With Joy, the memoir by Susan Spencer-Wendel and Bret Witter that the studio bought in a seven-figure deal in June 2012. This was after the book landed a $2.3 million publishing deal from HarperCollins, back when the working title was Breathe Deeply. This is the memoir by Spencer-Wendel of facing her mortality as ALS begins to take a toll on her. Treem’s recent credits include HBO’s In Treatment, Netflix’s House Of Cards and the Showtime pilot The Affair.
Spencer-Wendel is a longtime court reporter for the Palm Beach Post who, at age 44, was diagnosed with ALS, the degenerative ailment most commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease that destroys the nerves that power muscles including the lungs. The book and movie action came from a Wall Street Journal article written about her illness. The book and movie crowds sparked to her race against time to create a record of her life before her illness overcame her.
EXCLUSIVE: Eddie Egan, who in May 2011 moved from his post as domestic marketing president to take a senior post at Chris Meledandri’s Universal-based Illumination Entertainment, is leaving the studio where he has worked for nearly the past two decades. I’m told it was a mutual decision to move on. Egan made the move after overseeing the marketing of such Universal hits as Fast Five and Bridesmaids; after moving over, the Illumination films he worked on included Despicable Me 2, which is the bridesmaid behind Jurassic Park in the title of the studio’s biggest-grossing film ever with a worldwide tally of more than $916 million. Egan also worked closely on such Illumination product as Despicable Me and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. Ron Meyer just sent out an internal note confirming the exit. While it usually takes awhile to get the full story of what happened when any exec departs, you don’t usually get this kind of send off if you aren’t well liked and respected. Here’s Meyer’s note:
After 19 years together, I am saddened to share that Eddie Egan is leaving Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment. Eddie has been an instrumental part of our success for almost two decades and he is one of the most uniformly respected and admired executives in our company. His passion and dedication have played a critical role in building Universal’s marketing organization, which is one of the best in the business. He’s also been a huge leader in the effort to grow and expand our family entertainment brand, Illumination Entertainment.
Eddie’s credits with Universal are almost too lengthy to list, but one of his biggest and most recent contributions has been in establishing Despicable Me as a global tent pole franchise with Despicable Me 2 currently boasting worldwide grosses of more than $916 million. He has helped make Illumination Entertainment an animation powerhouse with the success of Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2 and the smash hit, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.
Below is a note from Chris Meledandri about Eddie and another from Eddie to all of you:
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA, November 18, 2013—Universal Pictures today announced that the studio has set a new record for its highest-grossing year ever at the North American box office with a total of $1.352 billion through Sunday. The previous record was set in 2012 with total grosses having reached $1.335 billion. The studio bested its previous international box office record ($1.794 billion/2012) in mid-August and the previous worldwide record ($3.129 billion/2012) in September. Universal’s total worldwide grosses to date are $3.49 billion.
Propelling Universal’s success at the North American box office this year were eight films that claimed the number one spot including: Mama ($71.6 million), Identity Thief ($134.5 million), Oblivion ($89.1 million), Fast & Furious 6 ($238.7 million), Despicable Me 2 ($365.9 million), The Purge ($64.5 million), 2 Guns ($75.6 million) and Riddick ($42 million). Identity Thief, Fast & Furious 6 and Despicable Me 2 each claimed the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office twice. Fast & Furious 6 was Universal’s top North American opening of 2013 ($117 million) and the second-highest domestic opening of the year (behind Iron Man 3). Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me 2 had the highest opening for an animated film in 2013 domestically ($83.5 million). In addition, Universal’s first micro-budget film under the studio’s production deal with Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions, The Purge, grossed more than ten times its $3 million production budget in its North American opening weekend and has gone on to gross $89.9 million worldwide.
Fans of the global bestseller will have to wait longer than planned to see Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) come to life on the screen. Universal Pictures and Focus Features’ have pushed the release …
The AFM, which gets underway tomorrow, will see a record influx of Chinese companies and execs. But that’s not the only draw for Mainland players this week. The 2013 U.S. China Film Summit kicks off today in LA …