George Miller is back at the helm of the franchise that launched his career nearly 35 years ago. Mel Gibson is back too — but not as the lead. Warner Bros and Village Roadshow said today that its reboot Mad Max: Fury Road will hit screens on May 15, 2015. Tom Hardy steps into the title role for the first film in the postapocalyptic series since 1985′s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Miller directed that pic, along with 1979′s Mad Max and its 1981 sequel The Road Warrior, which made Gibson an international star. The 3D Fury Road has that May 2015 opening weekend to itself for now, but it’ll arrive a mere two weeks after The Avengers: Age Of Ultron and a week before Disney sci-fi pic Tomorrowland, starring George Clooney. Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult co-star in the film written by Miller, Nick Lathouris and Brendan McCarthy. Miller also is producing with Doug Mitchell and P.J. Voeten.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Broadchurch’ Book; ‘The Escape Artist’ Sales; Bassem Youssef; Louis Delluc Shortlist; More
‘Broadchurch’ Gets Book Treatment
Little, Brown has acquired world rights to a novel inspired by ITV crime series Broadchurch. According to Bookseller, Sphere Fiction’s Jade Chandler bought the book from Cathy King at the UK’s Independent Talent, representing Broadchurch screenwriter Chris Chibnall. He’ll co-write the novel with thriller author Erin Kelly. To be published next August, it will add material to the existing story and delve deeper into the back stories of the characters. Broadchurch, starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman, was a massive hit for ITV this year in the UK. It also aired on BBC America and is being remade by Fox with Tennant playing an American detective brought to a small town where a young boy has been killed under mysterious circumstances.
‘The Escape Artist’ Sells In Scandinavia
In related David Tennant news, Norway’s TV2 and TV4 in Sweden have taken rights to Red Arrow International’s three-part drama The Escape Artist. Tennant stars in the thriller that debuts on BBC One tonight. David Wolstencroft wrote the series that’s produced by Hilary Bevan Jones and Paul Frift of Red Arrow’s Endor Productions. Tennant plays defense lawyer Will Burton who specializes in getting people out of tight legal corners. But when his talents acquit the prime suspect in a horrific murder trial, the tables turn. I saw the debut episode last week in London and, without giving away any spoilers, I will say it packs a wallop.
Gravity just became IMAX‘s highest-grossing second weekend title ever, but French moviegoers won’t get to see it in the format when the Warner Bros hit bows in France on October 23rd. That’s because Amélie helmer Jean-Pierre Jeunet‘s 3D The Young And Prodigious T.S. Spivet has staked out the only slots at the country’s five IMAX locations. Spivet comes out on October 16th, a week before Gravity, and is expected to stay in place until Thor: The Dark World moves in on October 30th. So how did a film that lends itself so completely to the IMAX experience find itself without a window in France?
Gaumont, the studio behind Jeunet’s English-language Spivet, has a deal with IMAX for the film to be released locally and internationally in its immersive format. The pact follows IMAX’s collaboration with Pathé’s 2012 French comedy Houba! On The Trail Of The Marsupilami, as the company looks to work increasingly with local filmmakers. Spivet initially had an October 23rd release – a similar date to Jeunet’s last two films, Micmacs and A Very Long Engagement, which coincidentally were released by Warner Bros France in 2009 and 2004, respectively. Warner Bros for its part had originally been eyeing a November 6th Gravity release in France, but in February this year moved onto October 23rd. Spivet then also moved, to October 16th. Because IMAX was committed to Spivet, and doesn’t split screens in France, Gravity was effectively squeezed out. Ultimately, I’m told Warner Bros preferred sticking to its planned release strategy rather than co-opt it for just the five IMAX screens. (The latter half of October in France is hotly-contested release real estate in any format. Among the recent hits to lay claim, box office and/or prestige-wise, are Asterix & Obelix: God Save Britannia, Amour, The Artist, Paranormal Activity 2 & 3, The Adventures Of Tintin and Little White Lies.)
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Soon Latest Studio Closing Big Co-Financing Film Deal
By Nikki Finke — EXCLUSIVE: All of the Sony parent company brass from Japan including Kazuo Hirai are in Culver City this week for meetings to discuss among other things the film studio. Finally, here’s some good news for Amy Pascal et al. I’ve learned that Sony Pictures is in the process of closing a rich co-financing deal.
SHOCKER! Peter Schlessel Takes Over Focus Features
By Mike Fleming Jr. — The news that Universal dropped another bombshell today and announced that James Schamus would leave as head of Focus Features has left everyone at that boutique label reeling. But it hits the company’s New York staff hardest.
Focus Features Day 2: Who’ll Stay?
By Mike Fleming Jr. — EXCLUSIVE: Yesterday’s bombshell that caught everyone at Focus Features by surprise has given way to a collective depression among the people at Focus who watched the abrupt exit of their leader James Schamus, and learned Universal will close the Gotham headquarters after incoming head Peter Schlessel arrives in January.
After Eight ‘Harry Potter’ Hits David Heyman Follows Up With ‘Gravity’ – This Time He May Finally Be Going To The Oscars
By Pete Hammond — With Gravity looking like it is soaring at the box office today and the Harry Potter 8-pack of films successfully behind him, producer David Heyman is riding high. Of course, director Alfonso Cuaron and stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are getting the lion’s share of attention for the space drama, but Heyman is happy to give credit where credit is due.
Expanding their longterm, lucrative partnership on the Harry Potter franchise, Warner Bros and author J.K. Rowling are putting a new film series in the works. Rowling will make her screenwriting debut on Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, an original story based on the Hogwarts textbook that appears on a reading list in the first Potter tome, Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone. This is the first in a planned series of films and will feature magical creatures and characters from the Potter mythology, including the textbook’s fictitious author, Newt Scamander. Rowling says it’s not a sequel or a prequel to the Potter adventures, but will kick off in New York, 70 years before Harry’s story starts. No timeline or director has been identified yet. If the films follow the Harry Potter process, they’ll make use of Warner Bros’ Leavesden studios outside London which Warner acquired and revamped after the last Potter film was shot. Warner Bros noted today that the relationship between Rowling and the studio will be managed in London by Neil Blair of Rowling’s literary agency The Blair Partnership, and by Warner UK, Ireland and Spain chief Josh Berger.
Fantastic Beasts will also be developed across Warner Bros’ video game, consumer products and digital initiatives businesses. As part of the newly extended relationship, Warner Bros has also boarded the BBC adaptation of Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy which goes into production next year. Warner will distribute the series globally, excluding the UK. A full press release on the new arrangements follows:
UPDATED, 8:07PM… Both sides are claiming victory — of course — in the battle over The Butler. As Deadline first reported Thursday and then updated this morning, the MPAA said tonight that its original ruling in the case went too far, and it has overturned the part that excluded the Weinstein Company from using the word “butler” in the title of its historical drama. The MPAA Appeals Board’s decision — read it here and decide for yourself — says TWC can use the word “butler” in the title, but all words in the title have to be of same size/prominence. If the company indeed decides to title the film Lee Daniels’ The Butler, though, “Lee Daniels” has to be 75% the size of “The Butler.” TWC has to pay $400,000 to the Entertainment Industry Foundation as sanctions for violating the July 2 award and must pay the charity $25,000 per day to for violating today’s award, which increases to $50,000 a day if they don’t issue new digital materials (trailers, TV ads, etc.) for the film by July 26 and new print materials by August. TWC also has to pay Warner Bros’ $150,000 in legal fees. Some background, for those who might have been on safari the past few weeks, after the jump:
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, goes the old saying. While the studios continue trying to crack the nut of getting Hollywood films into China, many of the majors also have a wider global strategy that’s proving lucrative both there and elsewhere: Local-language production. Hollywood’s involvement in the area is not new. But, increasingly, movies that are co-produced or distributed by the majors in such places as China, India, Germany, Italy, Spain, Korea and Latin America are finding themselves reaping strong returns.
The markets “are huge,” especially where local box office rivals that of Hollywood pictures. Homegrown films in China, for example, generally snag about 50% of the annual market share and are currently widely outperforming Hollywood films – this week’s Iron Man 3 notwithstanding. In India, the indigenous share of a $2B market can be as much as 90%. There’s an argument to be made that Chinese or Indian films don’t cross cultural borders, but with those kinds of numbers, “Why would the film need to travel?” posits an exec.
Richard Fox, EVP International for Warner Bros., says the studio is looking to develop relationships to make Chinese-language films. “There are a lot of moving pieces in assessing which countries to focus on,” but, “if it doesn’t recoup in the country of origin, we don’t get involved,” he says. Warner recently bet well in Mexico where its comedy Nosotros Los Nobles smashed records with the second biggest opening ever for a non-animated local film.
Another studio exec says local language production “is all relatively opportunistic.” It can be a distraction to try and stay abreast of local material, but “paying attention to local markets, filmmakers and stories around the world gets you more educated in terms of worldwide taste and emerging filmmakers.” Plus, “the minute you have a hit, it’s ‘How much money are we making? Why don’t we up this business?’” Here’s a look at how the studios are speaking in various tongues:
It’s been a couple of months since the last trailer dropped for Guillermo del Toro‘s Pacific Rim. Warner Bros. India today posted the first international TV spot that features Idris Elba’s Lieutenant-Commander Stacker Pentecost who’s “cancelling the apocalypse” as Earth battles evil aliens risen from the …
Berlin: Studio-Produced Local-Language Comedies Tickle Germany’s Funny Bone; Fox Eyes Remake Of ‘The Break-Up Man’
The Berlin Film Festival may be heavy on art-house fare this year, but over at the multiplex, two German-language comedies are burning up the box office. And, they’re both produced by the local arms of a pair of …
UPDATE: Deadline has learned that Radio New Zealand journalist Cushla Norman is in fact invited to the red carpet and press conference for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. While we understand a mistake was made in uninviting the reporter, it has been rectified and her credentials have not been revoked. People close to the situation have assured Deadline that there is no media blacklist.
Norman said earlier today that her premiere and press conference credentials had been revoked because of her negative coverage. Separately, Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit production company Wingnut Films told New Zealand’s TV3 “We don’t have — and have never had — any form of media blacklist. That’s not who we are or how we operate.”
Warner Bros and New Line Cinema are fully supporting Peter Jackson and The Hobbit producers regarding the recent allegations of animal abuse. You can read their statement below:
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 15, 2012 – IMAX Corporation (NYSE: IMAX; TSX: IMX) and Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX), today announced that they have agreed to release up to 20 Warner Bros. films in the immersive IMAX Experience® over the next three years, in an extension of the core partnership that began in 2003. The arrangement will continue to align the worldwide box office power of Warner Bros.’ tent-pole film business with the fast-growing global popularity of The IMAX Experience, providing the studio with an additional, differentiated platform that consistently delivers the best experience in cinema and strong returns for studios and exhibitors.
(September 5, 2012 — Burbank, CA) – Jack Horner has been named Executive Vice President, Theatrical Communications, Warner Bros. Pictures Group. The announcement was made today by Sue Kroll, President, Worldwide Marketing, Warner Bros. Pictures, to whom Horner will report.
In this newly created position at the studio, Horner will handle corporate PR issues specifically for the film division, working closely with Kroll as well as Warner Bros. Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov; Susan Fleishman, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Corporate Communications & Public Affairs; and the film division’s domestic and international publicity units. Horner will join the studio in September.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
Co-producing the box office under-achievers Happy Feet Two, The Lucky One and Dark Shadows with Warner Bros. doesn’t seem to have hurt Australia’s Village Roadshow Ltd, which today announced a net profit of $A33.8M ($33.5M) for the year to June 30. That’s a 20.2% rise on the previous year. The company didn’t break out the results of its 47.6%-owned Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, which consists of Village Roadshow Pictures and the Concord Music Group. But managing director Graham Burke tells Deadline he’s happy with Village Roadshow Pictures’ performance, “We take a long-term perspective on our relationship with Warner. We put our money as a chip on the table with them.”
Burke highlighted the success of VRP’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, which grossed $544M worldwide, and prospects for upcoming releases including Gangster Squad, The Great Gatsby, All You Need Is Kill, Lego and Fury Road. Burke says the 20 minutes of Great Gatsby he’s seen are “breathtaking” and he fully supports the decision to delay the release till summer 2013 to give Baz Luhrmann more time. In Oz, Roadshow Films continued as the top theatrical