UPDATE: MGM & Bond Producer Slam Universal In Latest ‘Section 6′ Lawsuit Action

By | Monday April 14, 2014 @ 4:14pm PDT

DJP LEGAL BADGEUPDATED, 4:10 PM: The Section 6 lawsuit that sees two studios pitted against each other is starting to move faster than the opening sequence of a James Bond movie. Just three days after Universal responded to the multi-claim complaint from MGM and Bond producer Danjaq, the plaintiff today fired back with a response to the response. “Defendants thus admit that they not only have no plans to stop their infringing conduct, but that they are forging ahead—right now,” says today’s 4-page filing in federal court (read it here). “Even worse, as Universal knows from public reports, plaintiffs are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the next James Bond motion picture,Universal-Pictures-logo-2013__140130232555__140321183123-275x141__140404181950 slated for theatrical release in October 2015 and home video release in early 2016,” the filing adds. On April 3, MGM and Danjaq hit Universal with a complaint for unspecified damages and an injunction against the announced Aaron Berg-written World War I spy drama. The plaintiffs charged that mgm__130913144151-200x137__131115203538Section 6 was a rip-off of the James Bond properties, which they own. On April 11, Universal claimed in a filed of its own that the film was not even greenlighted and was still in the very early stages of development and did not infringe on the Bond copyright at all when the script was in its final form. “In essence, Universal’s response is to claim: ‘Just trust us, we’re trying to fix it. But it will take time.,’” the filing says. “That is no basis for Universal to avoid the targeted discovery plaintiffs seek. Without that expedited discovery, any attempt by plaintiffs to obtain preliminary relief would be tantamount to shooting at a moving target. The Court cannot possibly ascertain the status quo under such circumstances, let alone fashion appropriate relief to address it.” Judge Dean D. Pregerson will have to weigh in on this soon, but it sounds like both studios can use an M to separate them in this you said/I said schoolyard brawl.

PREVIOUSLY, 10:39 AM: Looks like Universal have brought their own legal license to kill on board in the Section 6 lawsuit with MGM and James Bond producer Danjaq — in more ways than one. Just over a week after being hit by a multi-claim copyright infringement suit by the duo, the studio has responded and they’ve brought a top operative in Bert Fields to handle things for them. Read More »

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Studios Slam Megaupload With Mega-Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

DJP LEGAL BADGEOver two years since notorious cyberlocker Megaupload was shut down on January 19, 2012, Hollywood today has gone on the legal offensive. Disney, 20th Century Fox Film, Paramount Pictures, Universal, Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros. today … Read More »

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Universal Slapped With ‘Section 6′ Lawsuit By MGM & James Bond Producer

By | Friday April 4, 2014 @ 11:09am PDT

DJP LEGAL BADGETurns out there’s not enough room in Hollywood for two British agents with a license to kill. Aiming for a clean shot, MGM and James Bond producer Danjaq earlier this week went after Universal in federal court over the latter’s Section 6 project. Calling the WW1-set Aaron Berg-scripted pic a “James Bond knockoff” the plaintiffs want unspecified damage and they want  the Universal-Pictures-logo-2013__140130232555__140321183123-275x141court to declare an injunction shutting down the Universal property that Joe Cornish was recently brought on board to helm. “This lawsuit concerns a motion picture project, in active development, featuring a daring, tuxedo-clad British secret agent, employed by ‘His Majesty’s Secret Service,’ with a ‘license to kill,’ and a 00 secret agent number on a mission to save England from the diabolical plot of a megalomanical villain,” the heavily censored April 3 filing says (read it here). “Most moviegoers would assume from that description alone that this lawsuit concerns the next James Bond picture. It does not.” Read More »

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CinemaCon: Universal Excites Convention With First Looks At ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’, ‘Minions’, ‘Fast & Furious 7′ And Angelina Jolie’s Potential Oscar Juggernaut ‘Unbroken’

Pete Hammond

Universal wowed exhibitors this morning with a presentation that went way beyond just showing off what they have this summer. Among the films CinemaCon2014_badgegetting their first look anywhere was Scarlett Johansson’s summer action flick Lucy, the long-gestating follow-up to Dumb And Dumber with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels back in Dumb And Dumber To, plus hot-button first looks at footage from 2015 releases including with the late Paul Walker in the April 2015 Fast & Furious 7 and Valentine’s Day 2015 opener Fifty Shades Of GreyAccording to the studio’s Donna Langley, this was the first time anyone has viewed any of it outside of the Universal hierarchy. CinemaCon 2014 - The State Of The Industry: Past, Present And Future And Universal Studios PresentationIt was a good teaser but stopped shy of showing any of the really hot stuff. The 2015 spinoff of Despicable Me, Uni’s biggest domestic hit ever (the sequel that is), Minions also got a hearty response from the pumped-up crowd who is anxious for a few hits. It looks like over the course of the next two years this studio is determined to give some to them. But despite all of this news-making footage it was clearly Angelina Jolie who stole this show. As the only star Universal trotted out onstage, she was there this time as the director of their Christmas Day release Unbroken, and introduced seven minutes of footage from what definitely looks like a possible Oscar juggernaut. It has all the makings. Read More »

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Jon Favreau Joins Universal Crime Thriller ‘Term Life’

By | Monday March 10, 2014 @ 2:44pm PDT

Jon FavreauEXCLUSIVE: Hot off the debut of his most recent film at SXSW, the multihyphenate has booked his next acting gig. Jon Favreau will co-star in Universal‘s crime thriller Term Life, which stars Vince Vaughn as a … Read More »

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Elizabeth Banks To Direct ‘Pitch Perfect 2′ For Universal

By | Monday January 27, 2014 @ 1:11pm PST

Elizabeth Banks Pitch Perfect 2Actress and producer Elizabeth Banks is making her feature directorial debut with Universal’s Pitch Perfect 2, the sequel to the 2012 $115M hit about a college student who joins an a capella group. Banks, … Read More »

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Rebel Wilson Lands Two Great Roles In First Week Of 2014

By | Sunday January 12, 2014 @ 7:46am PST
Mike Fleming

rebelwScoring her second great role of the new year, Rebel Wilson will play the sharp-tongued roommate of Amanda Seyfried’s character in the Jake Szymanski-directed He’s F-ing Perfect, based on the script by Lauryn Kahn that will be produced by Gary Sanchez. … Read More »

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‘Despicable Me 2′ Has $4.13M 1st Day In China; Eyes $14M Weekend; After Six Months On International Release, How Did It Score Big Despite Local Piracy?

dm2 posterIt’s already been out for six months elsewhere, but Despicable Me 2 drew big numbers in its opening in China. The film bowed in China on Friday, the first major U.S. title to debut in the country this … Read More »

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Universal Dates Judd Apatow-Amy Schumer Comedy ‘Trainwreck’ For July 2015

By | Wednesday January 8, 2014 @ 11:15am PST

Amy SchumerThe Judd Apatow-helmed comedy starring comedian Amy Schumer has been set for release on July 24, 2015. That’s a major summer date for Schumer’s feature film debut following her 2013 breakout on her eponymous Comedy Central sketch … Read More »

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Universal Sets ‘Fast & Furious 7′ Release For April 2015; Paul Walker Remains Front And Center In The Sequel

By | Monday December 23, 2013 @ 4:46am PST

Fast & Furious 7 release dateUPDATE: Universal has formally announced the new 2015 release date for Fast & Furious 7, after Vin Diesel revealed it on his Facebook page. The studio has also given a sense that the late … Read More »

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R.I.P. Seagram Scion Edgar M. Bronfman

By | Sunday December 22, 2013 @ 5:30pm PST

Edgar Bronfman deadCanadian billionaire businessman Edgar M. Bronfman died Saturday. He was 84. Bronfman inherited the reins of the Seagrams biz empire in 1971 from his father Samuel and acted as Chairman and CEO. Son Edgar Read More »

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Producer Seeks ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ Movie Rights Case Dismissed

By | Monday December 16, 2013 @ 1:44pm PST

DJP LEGAL BADGEThe moves over who owns the rights to make a Dungeons & Dragons movie and who is actually going to make one have taken another roll of the dice on the legal tabletop with studios Universal and Warner Bros watching on the sidelines. More than half a year after Hasbro filed a copyright and trademark infringement complaint against d-d__130909214111Sweetpea Entertainment on May 14, the latter is seeking a partial dismissal of the case. Hasbro has a potential D&D deal with Universal and Sweetpea has an agreement with Warner Bros. With a team led by heavyweight entertainment lawyer Patricia Glazer of Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard Avchen & Shapiro, producer Courtney Solomon’s Sweetpea filed a motion for partial summary judgment on December 13 (read it here). “To establish copyright infringement, a plaintiff must show that the defendant has used protectable elements of the plaintiff’s copyrighted works in an infringing work. Here, plaintiffs allege that a script entitled Chainmail infringes copyrights they own. Chainmail, however, was not written by Sweetpea, nor did Sweetpea have a hand in developing the script. “Chainmail was written without any involvement by Sweetpea,” says the 14-page motion filed in LA federal. To put it simply Sweetpea may have looked at  script from a studio but they’re not making Chainmail as some sort of D& D derivative. Sweetpea has requested a hearing on its motion for January 24. Read More »

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UPDATE: Paul Walker’s Charity To Receive Some Proceeds From ‘Hours’ Box Office And Soundtrack, ‘Fast & Furious 6′ Home Video Release

By | Thursday December 12, 2013 @ 6:15pm PST

paul-walker-photo__131201214231-275x342__1312022057352nd UPDATE 6:10 PM: Pantelion Films, the joint venture between Lionsgate and Grupo Televisa, said today that it will donate a portion of its box office take for Paul Walker-starring drama Hours to the late star’s charity, Reach Out Worldwide. The company, which will bow the movie Friday in 16 theaters and on VOD, did not specify what percentage of the gross it will donate nor exactly when that would happen. Walker died November 30 in a car crash near Los Angeles.

Related: Paul Walker’s ‘Fast & Furious’ Family Mourns His Death

UPDATED 1:55 PM Friday: Benjamin Wallfisch, who composed the music for the upcoming Paul Walker drama Hours, said today that he and Varèse Sarabande Records will donate a portion of the soundtrack’s sales and royalties to the late actor’s nonprofit, Reach Out WorldWide. The film, which stars Walker as a father struggling to keep his daughter alive in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, opens Friday.

Related: Photos: Paul Walker, 1973-2013

PREVIOUSLY: The studio hasn’t made any decisions about the future of Fast & Furious 7 yet in the wake of the death of Paul Walker on November 30. But Universal said today that it will donate some of the proceeds from the upcoming Fast & Furious 6 DVD, Blu-ray and digital release to Walker’s charity Reach Out WorldWide. Here’s the release:
Read More »

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Universal Sticks With ‘Fast & Furious 7′ Date As Fox Shifts ‘Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes’ Release

By | Tuesday December 10, 2013 @ 12:32pm PST

20thcentury1The jockeying by the studios to get the best playdates for their summer 2014  tentpolefare is continuing with 20th Century Fox moving the release date of its 3D offering Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes up a week from … Read More »

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Legendary Locks Ben Foster To Round ‘Warcraft’ Cast

By | Wednesday December 4, 2013 @ 4:08pm PST
Mike Fleming

fosterLegendary Pictures and Universal closed deals with Lone Survivor star Ben Foster, Vikings‘ Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Toby Kebbel, Dominic Cooper and Rob Kazinsky to star in Warcraft, the live action adaptation of the Blizzard Entertainment … Read More »

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‘Dumb And Dumber To Hit Theaters In November 2014

By | Monday November 18, 2013 @ 5:04pm PST

The L-O-N-G-time-coming sequel will arrive in less than a year — well, four days less. Universal said today that Dumb And Dumber To, starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Read More »

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USA Today Makes Headlines – Unintentionally – With “Race-Themed” ‘Best Man Holiday’ Gaffe

By | Sunday November 17, 2013 @ 4:11pm PST

USA Today landed in hot water today by with a clumsily written headline that came off as polarizing to some readers. “Holiday Nearly Beat Thor as Race-Themed Films Soar,” USA Today headlined in its box office report, prompting many to … Read More »

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Contenders 2013: ‘Captain Phillips,’ ‘American Hustle,’ ‘Tim’s Vermeer,’ ‘Before Midnight,’ ‘Saving Mr. Banks,’ ‘Lone Survivor,’ ‘Despicable Me 2’ & ‘The Croods’ Bid For Oscar

Anna Lisa Raya is a Deadline contributor.

The second half of Deadline’s 3rd annual Contenders event at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills got off to an energized start after lunch on the outdoor terrace. Deadline Awards columnist Pete Hammond returned with Captain Phillips star Barkhad Abdi, who had one of the bigger moments of the day when he revealed he ad-libbed his momentous “I am the captain now” line in the Sony film, essentially stealing the scene from Tom Hanks. The film’s producers, Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti, were spotted in the audience joining in the roaring applause.

Related: Deadline’s Contenders 2013 – Morning Panels

Anyone who’s been waiting for David O. Russell’s follow-up to last year’s Oscar-nominated Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle (also for for Sony), will be happy to know the film was locked down today. This is per one of the film’s producers, Richard Suckle, who was on hand to discuss the genesis of the film which is loosely based on the ABSCAM scandals of the 1970s. One of his funnier reveals was that star Bradley Cooper — not wanting to perm his hair for the film — spent hours in hair and makeup every day getting it curled. Co-star Christian Bale, on the other hand, gained 40 lbs. for his role and shaved the crown of his head to perfect his character’s outlandish comb over.

Julie Delpy, co-writer and star of Sony Pictures ClassicsBefore Midnight, had a lot to say about the intense writing and preparation that went into making the film appear as improvised and natural as it does. Acting the role was “extremely stressful,” she told Hammond. “There’s no plot. There’s nothing to hold onto but character and emotional arc.” Also for SPC is Tim’s Vermeer — a documentary about one man’s attempt to recreate a Johannes Vermeer painting — which was uncharacteristically directed by Teller (better known as the other half of Penn & Teller). He was thankful for his editor, Patrick Sheffield, who made sense of the over 2,400 hours of footage. Writer Kelly Marcel was on-hand to discuss Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, the only film ever allowed to feature Walt Disney as a character. She called the studio “unbelievably brave” in how hands-off they were with her and director John Lee Hancock.

Related: PHOTOS: Contenders 2013 Gallery
Read More »

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Universal, Fox Executives – Past And Present – Gather To Honor Chris Meledandri At Fulfillment Fund Dinner

By | Thursday October 24, 2013 @ 1:05pm PDT
Pete Hammond

“I feel sort of a disconnect. It’s overwhelming. Very surreal,” the Fulfillment Fund Stars 2013 benefit gala honoree Chris Meledandri told me as he made his way around the Beverly Hilton ballroom last night. “There are some very interesting machinations intertwined in the room.”

It seems like every studio executive — current, fired or in limbo — that had great success with Meledandri’s brand of filmmaking was there. There was a Fox contingent honoring the man who brought them the Ice Age franchise including Chairman Jim Gianopulos, former co-Chair Tom Rothman, Peter Chernin  and creative advertising whiz Tony Sella who may, or may not, be staying at Fox under the new re-structure. And of course a Universal contingent that included Ron Meyer, Donna Langley, new Chairman Jeff Shell, old Chairman Adam Fogelson, and Comcast’s Steve Burke among others.

Meledandri’s latest hit is Despicable Me 2, and when your movie makes over $800 million it’s not surprising to see thankful executives turn out in force. But as Meledandri said it was an “interesting machination”: Fogelson was one of the event co-chairs with Chernin, Meyer and Langley (among others) but sat a few tables away from the Uni power center. Another former Universal chairman, Marc Shmuger, was also in the room making for one of those uniquely ironic Hollywood nights — but a fun one with Ed Helms hosting. Presenter Steve Carell, who voices Gru in DM2, got the biggest laugh of the night in introducing Meledandri. “Chris now enjoys a successful partnership with Universal Studios and has provided them with a string of hits. Conventional wisdom tells us that he will soon be fired,” he said. I checked: The Universal table was laughing too. Read More »

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