UPDATE: Marketing pulled a Jesse and hit the nitrous early with a Facebook post this a.m. celebrating the final shot filmed on Fast & Furious 7. “…about to cross the finishing line… Social media likes to jump the gun. #stillfilming,” director James Wan (@creepypuppet) Tweeted this afternoon, hours after the pre-planned announcement hit social media. A studio source confirms that the pic indeed wraps today.
PREVIOUS: It’s been a long and emotional road for Fast & Furious 7, which had its premiere postponed from this weekend’s original release date to April 2015 following the death of Paul Walker. Now the Universal sequel has wrapped its Los Angeles shoot under director James Wan, with the help of Walker’s brothers Caleb and Cody. Universal’s official Fast 7 Facebook page today thanked fans for riding with them in what’s been a vocal and loyal campaign of support through the pic’s tumultuous production. The post, accompanied by a shot of star Vin Diesel, has garnered over 120K Facebook likes in just a few hours from the Fast & Furious “family” of social media-connected fans. Last week Uni sped up the pic’s release to April 3, 2015. Here’s the note:
We made it.
Today we completed the last shot in the production of FAST & FURIOUS 7.
We wanted to take this moment to express how thankful we are for your support. We felt the love and strength from our fans throughout this journey, and it’s because of you that we got here.
There was a time when we didn’t know how we could go on, or even if we should. But we listened to you, and you inspired us not only to keep going but to try and make the best FAST & FURIOUS movie yet.
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The franchise sequel had the April 10 date all to itself, but Universal said today that it’s moving the film’s release ahead a week to Easter weekend. Fast & Furious 7 now is set for April 3, which gives it an extra weekend of play before the April 17 debut of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. F&F7‘s new opening-weekend competition will be Fox romancer The Longest Ride. James Wan is directing this installment of the blockbuster series, which again stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker — in his last film — Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster and others, including franchise rookies Jason Statham, Djimon Hounsou and Kurt Russell.
Latin-American singer Romeo Santos is revving up for a role in Universal’s Fast & Furious 7. The chart-topping, Grammy-nominated musician and former lead singer of the Bachata group Aventura was joined Thursday night onstage at his sold-out Staples Center concert in Los Angeles by Fast & Furious franchise star Vin Diesel, who made the announcement. Santos’s role has yet to be revealed. Like Diesel, the NY-born musician has a huge social media following with over 2M Twitter followers and 19M Facebook fans. He’ll be joining Jason Statham, Kurt Russell, and more newcomers alongside series returners Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Lucas Black, and the late Paul Walker in the James Wan-directed sequel, which Universal will release on April 10, 2015.
Disney and Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy has unveiled a second trailer introducing the motley crew of space bandits and bruisers of the August 1 superhero team-up. Chris Pratt stars as Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) alongside Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, Benicio del Toro, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Gregg Henry, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel. James Gunn (Slither, Super) directs from the script he wrote with Nicole Perlman. The new trailer offers a closer look at the lineup of heroes and villains for those not already intimately familiar with the lesser-known Marvel comic book characters. Meanwhile GotG fans get a taste of Diesel’s tree-like superhero Groot, who delivers his one line of dialogue in the new promo: Read More »
Column: Social media has had a tremendous impact on movie and television marketing, increasing awareness and visibility for a TV show or movie across the globe in a click — a lot clicks — of a button. Some of the best social media teams right now on TV are the two Jimmys — late-night talk hosts Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel. These two are in a constant battle for viewers and they really go at each other on social media. Their social engagement across platforms and their understanding of social heralds a new generation of savvy Hollywood stars backed by sophisticated online marketing teams that understand how to push past traditional media to build a tremendous fan base. Increasingly, stars, celebrities and their teams are using social media to extend awareness of their brands — because that is what they have become — online and off, driving ratings and box office as well as bigger fan bases.
These days, a performer’s social media footprint is strongly considered when marketers start strategizing a film’s campaign. Vin Diesel is the current king of social, almost entirely because of the monster presence he’s built on Facebook. In the months since his emotional tribute on FB for his good friend and Fast & Furious co-star Paul Walker who died in a car crash, Diesel has seen his Facebook presence vault from an already whopping 54M likes to 72.3M, according to RelishMix, which tracks social-media engagement by TV shows, films and performers. And in six months, his following has jumped 46%.
Unlike Kimmel and Fallon, Diesel has no team to manage his social profile. He does it entirely on his own. “Vin is a very unique case in that he curates that himself and the voice is authentic and all the posts seem real because they are real,” says Michael Moses, co-president of marketing at Universal Pictures. “He doesn’t have a social-media team. He maintains that. He has an authentic relationship with his fans.” Moses calls it “a higher level of commitment and engagement.” Read More »
The Iron Man himself has finally joined Twitter. With only 4 tweets this morning, he’s dipped his toe into the social media universe. Within hours, Downey has tallied 912K followers. Wow, word travels fast. And why not? Iron Man is a billion dollar franchise for Marvel since they first introduced Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark in 2008. Worldwide the first film grossed $585M, the second one, $623.9M and the third, $1.2B. The next Marvel title for the actor is Avengers: Age of Ultron which will bow May 1, 2015 from Disney. Welcome to the SMU, Mr. Downey, No doubt, Disney and Marvel are thrilled. The actor has long been a strong presence on social media due to his many fans who call him #RDJ. His fans post video bits from the actor from media, on-stage award shows, red carpet appearances, and other media events showcasing the wise-cracking, irreverance. His opening Tweet:
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Summit Entertainment has hired Oscar-nominated scribe Melisa Wallack to do a polish on the Vin Diesel actioner The Last Witch Hunter, to be directed by Breck Eisner (Sahara, The Crazies). Wallack earned her first Academy Award nomination for last year’s Dallas Buyers Club, which she co-scripted with Craig Borten. Before that she wrote and co-directed 2007 dramedy Meet Bill and penned 2012 Snow White fantasy Mirror Mirror, working on both projects with producer Bernie Goldmann, who co-directed the former and is a producer on Last Witch Hunter. The supernatural tale, about an immortal witch hunter (Diesel) who partners with a witch to save humanity from the covens of New York City, was originally penned by Cory Goodman (Priest) and revised by D.W. Harper. Pic has been brewing since Summit bought Goodman’s pitch for mid-six figures in 2011 with Timur Bekmambetov attached to helm. Eisner came aboard last year to direct. Read More »
Which superstar outdrew their peers to top the international box office in 2013? The answer might surprise you. Here are the Top 10 Hollywood heavyweights of this year’s global live-action hits whose star power played a significant role in international returns (Sandra Bullock just missed making the cut). Click on a photo to launch the slideshow countdown: Read More »
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 »
The worst-kept secret of the superhero film universe is now official: Marvel has finally confirmed that Vin Diesel is voicing Groot, the extraterrestrial plant monster of comics lore, in James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy. The Fast & Furious star has been teasing the role for months and posted a photo over the weekend posing with his onscreen alter ego. Gunn added via Facebook: “Yep it is completely official. AND he’s amazing. I never knew someone could say I AM GROOT so many different ways and with such feeling (and that sounds like I’m kidding but I’m not!)” Diesel stars in the cosmic superteam actioner alongside Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax. The Marvel pic hits theaters August 1, 2014. See any resemblance below?
Related: Vin Diesel In Talks To Join ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’
Deadline’s Dominic Patten & Jen Yamato contributed to this report
7th UPDATE, 10:03 AM: Fast & Furious star Paul Walker died of trauma and burn injuries, the LA County Coroner’s office said today. The autopsy was completed last night, sources say. Walker was killed Saturday after he and friend Roger Rodas crashed in a red 2005 Porsche Carrera GT while driving it in Santa Clarita, CA. Rodas was driving the luxury car with Walker in the passenger seat. Rodas died from “multiple traumatic injuries” said the Coroner’s report, with Walker’s death resulting from the “combined effects of traumatic and thermal injuries.” Both deaths have been ruled to be the result of an accident. On a Thanksgiving break from filming Fast & Furious 7, the 40-year-old actor had been at a nearby charity event just beforehand. A LAPD investigation of the incident is ongoing, as is the Coroner’s toxicology examination. The latter is expected to take 6-8 more weeks.
Related: Universal Formalizes ‘Fast & Furious 7’ Postponement
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Vin Diesel‘s been known to skirt traditional PR channels to share intel direct to his fans. This weekend he gave his 47M Facebook followers first looks from the set of Universal‘s Fast & Furious 7, in production under Insidious 2 helmer James Wan. “Seven… Has begun…” he posted in a pic showing him wearing Dominic Toretto’s leather jacket and Letty’s necklace. A second posting revealed the below first look at Diesel with co-star Paul Walker. Uni releases Fast & Furious 7 on July 11, 2014.
SUNDAY 6 AM, 4TH UPDATE: Welcome to one of the slowest weekends at the domestic box office. The movie season is off to a weak start – just $70M total filmgoing. Yes, that’s +20% over last year but only because of higher ticket prices and more 3D premiums. And no don’t blame this on some outages at online ticketseller Fandango on Saturday – because the studios aren’t. It doesn’t help that Hollywood once again is determined to churn out unnecessary sequels and threequels.
#1 - In this case, blame Vin Diesel who now owns the Riddick role and is keeping the $38M independently financed sci-fi franchise on life support. He leveraged a lot of his own assets because he loves this galactic ex-con character or hopes to earn more coin from it or both. Universal released in 3,107 U.S. theaters while eOne Entertainment is distributing in Canada. The R-rated pic opened mediocre with $7.3M Friday and $7.1M Saturday for what Universal says is a mediocre $18.6M weekend (but Hollywood estimates at $19.2M). it opened on 314 IMAX screens in North America, delivering about $2.5M. That’s after earning a middling ‘B’ CinemaScore from audiences and grossing an unimpressive $900K from Thursday night’s domestic late shows and Friday’s midnights. Even though this actioner had this first fall weekend all to itself, it took in only 1/2 what the original made and 1/3 what the sequel earned. The 3rd installment clearly didn’t expand beyond core fanboys since the outlaw character hasn’t been featured in a film in 9 years – although it’s been in a succession of DVDs and video games. Exit polls showed the audience was 59% male/41% female, 47% under age 30/53% age 30+, and 37% Hispanic/31% Caucasian. Written and directed (again) by David Twohy, produced (again) by Ted Fields, and starring Diesel (again), Riddick follows 2000′s Pitch Black which earned $39.5M and then 2004′s The Chronicles Of Riddick whose bloated budget made $57.8M gross. Diesel has been both savvy and stupid behind the scenes of this pic. When Universal wanted him for a cameo in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, he asked for the rights to the Riddick character instead of an acting fee. Diesel and Twohy tackled the script problems and went into production on the threequel. When a completion bond fell through, Diesel personally advanced funds until bank loans were secured. Eventually Universal came back in with an equity position but also insisted on a PG13 rating. Diesel fought the studio for an R rating – and the result is more bone-crushing and blood gushing violence. Oh joy. Read More »
Vin Diesel just might be Groot. The Fast and The Furious franchise actor is in negotiations to join Marvel’s newest ensemble tent pole, I’ve learned. If it all works out, Vin Diesel would play the tree-like alien in the James Gunn-directed Guardians of the Galaxy, sources say. Earlier today, Diesel posted a captionless pic of Groot up on his Facebook page. For a while the drawing from the GOTG comic (see left) stood as his cover page before being taken down though the photo is still in his timeline. Studio boss Kevin Feige made no mention on August 10 of Diesel joining GOTG during Marvel’s presentation at Day 2 of D23. Marvel showed the same footage from the recently started lensing GOTG, which stars Chris Pratt, Benicio del Toro, Zoe Saldana and Glenn Close, as he did at Comic-Con in July. The Groot character can absorb wood to gain strength and recover from injuries as well as control trees. While hyper-intelligent, the alien seems to only ever say the line “I am Groot” over and over to those who cannot hear his real voice.
Related: Comic-Con: Vin Diesel On Marvel Rumors: “Some Very Big News Coming”
Today’s Facebook post by Diesel isn’t the first time the actor has hinted via social media that he’s joining the Marvel … Read More »
The newest trailer for Riddick has dropped. It follows a red band version that was released at Comic-Con last month. The third pic in the franchise reunites The Chronicles Of Riddick writer-director David Twohy and star Vin Diesel, who plays the escaped convict antihero for the third time. Universal releases Riddick on September 6. Check it out:
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Vin Diesel to star in World’s Most Wanted, an action adventure that Dan Mazeau will rewrite. The project originated from a pitch by Will Staples & Sean O’Keefe, who wrote an earlier draft. Neal Moritz will produce for his Original Films with Diesel for his One Race Films. Samantha Vincent and Tania Landau will executive produce.
This deal reunites Diesel with Moritz, who has produced The Fast And The Furious series, on which Diesel is now a producer, as well as xXx (they are developing a sequel). Diesel was just at Comic-Con for Riddick, as the crowd waited in vain for clarity on his possible participation in The Avengers sequel, or perhaps even playing Luke Cage in a movie. As for Mazeau, he co-wrote with David Leslie Johnson Wrath Of The Titans for Warner Bros. He recently adapted the popular Japanese manga series Bleach for Warner Bros and director Pete Segal, and he is also attached to write Yukikaze for Warner Bros. Universal’s exec veep Jon Mone and creative executive Jay Polidoro are overseeing World’s Most Wanted. Mazeau is represented by CAA, Circle of Confusion and Katz Golden Rosenman. Diesel is repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Here’s the red band trailer for the Vin Diesel-starring Riddick that Universal just dropped during its Comic-Con panel:
Vin Diesel sent a ripple of excitement through the Marvel fanboys in Hall H just now at the end of his Riddick panel. He was asked about rumors he’s been tapped to join the Marvel universe. “It’s the one thing I’m not supposed to talk about it,” he answered. But then he let loose that “there is some very big news coming at the end of this month. … Poor Marvel.” Diesel recently sent out some cryptic posts that have fueled speculation. One of many rumors is he’s been tapped to play the Vision in The Avengers 2, but nothing has been confirmed. On July 9, he wrote this on his Facebook page, which has 44M likes: “Marvel meeting today. … Only the people in the room can tell you what was discussed. … P.s. Thanks to Our page, for pushing to make it happen… you know I get tunnel vision with my work… and after that meeting today… wow!” Marvel’s Comic-Con panel is tomorrow, but the studio is expected to hold its big reveals for Disney’s own D23 Expo in August.
The official Comic-Con 2013 line-up won’t be unveiled for another few weeks, but Vin Diesel‘s given his sizable social media following a sneak peek. The Fast & Furious star debuted a teaser for September’s Riddick, the third film in Diesel’s other hit Universal Pictures franchise. “It’s been over decade, since I’ve been to Comic-Con…,” Diesel posted to his Facebook page. With a whopping 43M followers, he’s one of few stars whose own Facebook pull eclipses that of entire movie studios. David Twohy (Pitch Black, The Chronicles Of Riddick) returns to helm the threequel. Comic-Con’s 2013 edition runs July 18-21 in San Diego. Read More »