The yearlong Dumb And Dumber To legal battle between Red Granite Pictures and producers Steve Stabler and Brad Krevoy is over. The producers today requested their racketeering allegations against the financiers be dismissed. This filing (read it here) means, I’ve learned, that the two sides have reached a confidential settlement to the lawsuit that Red Granite launched last July 15 to get the franchise’s original producers off the sequel. RGP said at the time that Stabler and Krevoy had no right to be a part of the Universal-distributed follow-up to the 1994 hit. No right translated into no credits or fees for the producers on the $35 million budget-project. While details were not disclosed, settlements in cases like this mean it’s very likely you’ll see Stabler and Krevoy in the Dumb And Dumber To credits now.
This wasn’t exactly down to the wire but it was getting close. A hearing on the claims of racketeering and other illegal activity was set for August 19. Even with today’s filing, the case itself is still formally scheduled to go to trial October 9, or just more than a month before the Jim Carrey- and Jeff Daniels-starring comedy sequel opens November 15, 20 years after the original. However, expect that to disappear from the docket soon.
Things in the case ever took an underworld turn this year when the defendants alleged that The Wolf Of Wall Street financier RGP was fueled … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Wrestling superstar John Cena is dropkicking his way into The Nest, Universal’s Tina Fey-Amy Poehler comedy about two sisters who throw one last party in their parents’ soon-to-be-sold house. Character details are under wraps but I hear the Cenation Leader is playing what could mark his first villain role after spending over a dozen years as the WWE’s All-American hero.
Pitch Perfect‘s Jason Moore is directing from a screenplay by Paula Pell, with Fey producing for her Little Stranger, Inc. banner alongside Jay Roach and his Everyman Pictures and John Lyons. Poehler is exec producing with Jeff Richmond and Brian Bell. Fey and Poehler anchor the cast which also includes James Brolin, Ike Barinholtz, Maya Rudolph and John Leguizamo. Read More »
To quote heavy metal rock gods Judas Priest, if Universal think they’re going to get the multi-claim copyright infringement Section 6 lawsuit from MGM and James Bond producer Danjaq easily dismissed, the plaintiffs just told them they’ve got another thing coming. “Plaintiffs have alleged past and ongoing conduct by Universal sufficient to constitute direct and secondary copyright infringement,” says the opposition filed this week to Universal’s motion to dismiss late last month the lawsuit over the proposed pic about the WWI creation of the UK’s MI6. The intelligence agency is the same one Bond works for in the Ian Fleming books and their hugely successful big screen adaptations. “Accordingly, this action is not, as Universal claims, “premature,’” the June 25th filing adds with a slap on the Comcast-owned studio’s past attempts to “to trivialize the monetary damages its infringing conduct has thus far inflicted.” And MGM and the Bond producers are more than a little peeved at the legal maneuvers Universal are using to get the matter out of the courts. “Universal’s reliance on the assertion that it did not write or contribute to the Screenplay is inconsequential,” says the filing (read it here) from Robert Schwartz, Cassandra Seto, and Brian Finkelstein of LA’s O’Melveny & Myers and Marc Becker of LA firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.
This all started in the federal courts on April 3 when MGM and Danjaq whacked Universal for unspecified damages and an injunction against the announced … Read More »
Is there a limit to how much NBCU promotion The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon fans will swallow? Fallon’s been doing his show this week from Universal Orlando Resort — already he’s made roller-coaster-phobic Kevin Hart ride one at the resort in exchange for plugging Hart’s new movie, Think Like A Man Too. Last night Fallon plucked a “viewer” note from his Suggestion Box: “I Love the Harry Potter theme, but I also love rap. Is there any way you can combine the two?” The Universal resort’s new Harry Potter/Diagon Alley reportedly cost an estimated $256 million. Fallon’s in-house band, The Roots, got to work. Sigh. Watch here:
1973 Oscar Winner 'The Sting' Coming To The Great White Way
A musical version of Robert Redford starrer 'The Sting' is coming to Broadway in the latest film-to-stage adaptation. Chief theater columnist Jeremy Gerard reports.
UPDATES WITH MORE DETAILS — EXCLUSIVE: Professor Harold Hill, Bill Starbuck, Max Bialystock — Broadway loves a con artist, especially one with a sense of humor. I’ve learned that the latest film tapped to tap its way to the Broadway stage is George Roy Hill’s 1973 Oscar winner The Sting. That was, of course, his second outing with the rainmaking team of Robert Redford and Paul Newman (after Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid in 1969). Set in Depression Era Chicago, the film set up Redford as a low-rent swindler who strikes a deal with Newman’s Mr. Big Time to set the stage for an elaborate revenge scam. The Sting won Oscars for Best Film along with director, screenplay (David S. Ward), costumes (Edith Head), editing (William Reynolds) and that sublime score, fashioned by the late Marvin Hamlisch with no small assist from Scott Joplin (among other things the film did so well was spark a resurgence of interest in ragtime music). Redford was a best-actor nominee.
The trio set to turn the movie into a stage show betrays a slightly cocky sensibility on behalf of the producing team headed by Broadway’s Araca Group (A Raisin In The Sun, Cinderella), newly-appointed EuropaCorp president Matt Gross’s Gross Entertainment (Body of Proof, Dirty Sexy Money, Across The Universe, ) and Universal Stage Productions (Bring It On: The Musical): Bob Martin, who won a Tony as co-writer of the nostalgia drenched The Drowsy Chaperone, will team with Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann, who won Tonys for the decidedly unconventional, entertainingly agitprop musical Urinetown, which recently opened in London. Read More »
In a move that comes as about as much as a surprise as James Bond liking his martini shaken not stirred, Universal today responded to the multi-claim Section 6 lawsuit from MGM and Bond producer Danjaq with a request that the federal court throw out the “threadbare allegations about hypothetical future infringement in works yet to be produced.” In fact, Universal accuses MGM and Danjaq of using the possibility of their Aaron Berg-written WWI-themed pic about the formation of the UK’s MI6 as a pretense for larger aims. “In an effort to claim an unfounded monopoly on the British spy genre, and to scare away Universal and any other would-be competitors to James Bond, Plaintiffs rushed to file this needless action,” notes today’s filing (read it here). Berg himself has also filed a heavily redacted motion for dismissal (read it here) for his “undeniably original creative work.” This latest move from entertainment legal mastermind Bert Fields and Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP partner Aaron Moss requests a June 30 hearing on the motion for Universal Studios and NBCUniversal Media, LLC. Represented by David Aronoff and Amber Henry of LA firm Lathrop & Gage LLP, scribe Berg is seeking the same date for a hearing on his motion too.
“Universal moves to dismiss on the ground that the Complaint states no claims upon which relief may be granted against Universal,” says the 19-page filing … Read More »
Universal’s Monster High, based on the Mattel toy line about the teenage sons and daughters of the world’s most famous monsters, will hit theaters October 7, 2016. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Hairspray, Chicago) are producing under their Storyline Entertainment banner. Fake Empire’s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage wrote and are also producing the live-action feature addition to the Monster High franchise which already includes several Nickelodeon TV specials, YA novels, webisodes, and an animated direct to DVD movie. Also dated for the 2016 summer season is a new Universal R-Rated Comedy project. The previously unannounced feature will debut May 13, 2016 in the early summer comedy slot that’s worked box office magic for the studio, most recently with the Zac Efron-Seth Rogen comedy Neighbors.
“I think the film business is going to be a tremendous growth business,” said Jeff Shell today. Speaking at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference in Beverly Hills, the Universal Filmed Entertainment chairman rebuffed Jeffrey Katzenberg’s proclamation earlier this week at the same conference that “movies are not a growth business.” “Domestic ticket sales are flat but if you look internationally most of the markets are growing like crazy,” Shell said, noting that globally is where the vast majority of box office comes from now. The studio boss’ comments came just hours after Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes slapped down the DreamWorks Animation CEO’s remarks. DWA shares are down around 11% today after it took a $57M writedown for Mr Peabody & Sherman.
Related: Katzenberg At Milken: “Movies Are Not A Growth Business”
Shell was joined on the Entertainment: The Big Picture panel today by A+E Networks president and CEO Nancy Dubuc, CBS boss Les Moonves and Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick.
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UPDATED, 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, 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 Section 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 »
Over 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 filed a mega-lawsuit against the site and its principals in federal court in Virginia (read it here). Alleging that the site infringed upon “thousands of plaintiffs’ copyrighted works,” the studios and the MPAA are seeking million in damages from the profits Megaupload made off their copyrighted material or “the maximum statutory damages, in the amount of $150,000 per infringement,” as the 21-page complaint says. All of which means potential billions and billions.
“Infringing content on Megaupload.com and its affiliates was available in at least 20 languages, targeting a broad global audience. According to the government’s indictment, the site reported more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and cost U.S. copyright owners more than half a billion dollars,” said the MPAA’s SEVP and Global General Counsel Steven Fabrizio today. “Megaupload — and sites like it that are built on stolen works — damage the consumer experience online and undermine the creators who don’t get compensated for their work,” he added. This case starts up as the Department of Justice case against Megaupload and its New Zealand-based founder Kim DotCom, who is among the defendants here, languishes in the courts. Since … Read More »
Turns 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 court 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 »
EXCLUSIVE: 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 thief who plans and sells heists to the highest bidder. He takes his estranged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) on the lam when a job goes bad. Hunted by mob bosses, contract killers and dirty cops, he takes out a life insurance policy on himself to leave something for his kid. One problem: It doesn’t take effect for 21 days. Production began March 1 on the pic, which Vaughn, Micah Mason Victoria Vaughn and Kevin Frakes are producing with Raj Brinder Singh exec producing. Peter Billingsley will direct from a screenplay by A.J. Lieberman, who created the original graphic novel with Nick Thornborrow. PalmStar Media Capital and Merced Media financed Term Life. Favreau most recently directed and stars in Chef, which bowed Friday at the Austin fest. His recent onscreen credits include The Wolf Of Wall Street, Iron Man 3, Identity Thief and People Like Us. He is repped by CAA and attorney Geoffrey Oblath.
Related: Universal’s ‘Term Life’ Adds Mike Epps, Jordi Molla, William Levy
Actress 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, who’s set to appear in a run of upcoming pics including WB’s The Lego Movie and the YA sequel The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, produced the first Pitch Perfect after shepherding it from Mickey Rapkin’s book to screen. She also turned in a small comedic role playing a singing competition commentator in the first film, which went on to become a breakout hit worldwide and on DVD/VOD with a Billboard-charting soundtrack album. In addition to helming Banks will also produce with Max Handelman for Brownstone Productions alongside Gold Circle Films’ Paul Brooks. Pitch Perfect scribe Kay Cannon (30 Rock, New Girl) is returning to script the sequel and will co-produce with Gold Circle’s Jeff Levine. Scott Niemeyer of Gold Circle will exec produce.
Scoring 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. Seyfried will play a social media-savvy girl who is pessimistic about love and vets her friends’ dates to find flaws. When that process leads her to uncover the perfect guy, she decides to use her Internet research skills to turn herself into his perfect match. Wilson landed a part that a lot of actresses chased, and it comes after Wilson landed a showy role as the night guard at a London museum that is the setting for the Shawl Levy-directed Night At The Museum 3.
It is nice to see Wilson flourish by being herself after winning turns in the films Bachelorette and especially the sleeper hit Pitch Perfect. You’d like to think that Hollywood can create role models of all shapes and sizes for young women, but it is difficult. I felt badly for Melissa McCarthy when Rex Reed made nasty reference to her weight in Identity Thief, because she is undoubtedly the most gifted physical comedienne working today. There has been a lot of back and forth about the reception given to actresses who are not anorexic supermodels, and it most recently flared up when Lena Dunham, Judd Apatow and others on the show took offense at TCA … Read More »
It’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 year – and its last territory worldwide. The animated sequel took 25M yuan or $4.13M on 3,000 screens on opening day, giving the Universal and Illumination Entertainment film the biggest first-day gross for an animated movie in China since Ice Age 4 in 2012, according to the studio. DM2‘s first weekend in China is projected to hit $14M for an international cume of $567.1M, making it the 4th highest-grossing animated film of all time overseas. Combined with its domestic take, the estimated worldwide total is expected to be $935.1M on Sunday. By Tuesday, I’m told DM2 should surpass Finding Nemo to become the 3rd highest-grossing animated film ever worldwide behind Toy Story 3 and The Lion King. It remains to be seen whether DM2 can pass Jurassic Park as Universal’s top-grossing film of all time. It had already become the studio’s highest-grossing ‘first-release’ film ever, surpassing the original JP‘s $921M in the past few weeks. However, in order to outgross JP with its 3D re-release factored in, it would need to do over $1.1B worldwide. With China its last territory, plus the fact that Chinese New Year starts at the end of January meaning local … Read More »
The 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 comedy show Inside Amy Schumer, which returns for a second season in April. In August, Deadline’s Mike Fleming broke news of the then-untitled project and Universal/Apatow’s bet on Schumer as the next female comedy star to follow in the footsteps of Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) and Lena Dunham (Girls). Schumer scripted Trainwreck for Universal and developed it with Apatow, who is also producing with Barry Mendel through his Apatow Productions.
Related: Universal, Judd Apatow Make Movie Bet On Comedian Amy Schumer
UPDATE: 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 Paul Walker’s character will remain part of the movie, an outcome that was among the wildly speculative reporting that followed his tragic death in a car crash. “Continuing the global exploits in the franchise built on speed, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker lead the returning cast of Fast & Furious 7…” is how the studio put it. Universal, director James Wan, franchise scribe Chris Morgan and producer Neal R. Moritz postponed the film–the tragedy occurred Thanksgiving weekend, and work was supposed to begin that following Monday–and took an appropriate amount of time to give their cast a chance to grieve their very popular cast mate, and creatively come up with a way of continuing a storyline that was halfway done and has to be completed by writing around a main character that hadn’t finished his narrative arc. Expect to see shooting resume early next year. Some of this is sensitivity to business: Fast & Furious is by far Universal’s most lucrative billion dollar film franchise, and the studio is smart to allow some distance from one of the most tragic occurrences in the film business in 2013, which still would have been fresh in peoples’ mind had the film kept … Read More »
Canadian 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 Bronfman Jr. later became CEO focusing on media investments and eventually lost entertainment interests including Universal Studios to Vivendi in 2000. Bronfman Sr. also served as the longtime President of the World Jewish Congress, the international organization which elected him in 1981. During his tenure Bronfman helped spearhead an initiative to grant restitution to Holocaust victims, resulting in a $1.25 billion settlement payout in 2000 from Swiss banks. He stepped down from his WJC post in 2007.