Harry Potter is also known as “the boy who lived” — and Warner Bros wants to keep it that way. The studio, which has been behind the franchise from the start way back in 2001, has now created a dedicated team to oversee its ongoing relationship with Potter creator JK Rowling. The Harry Potter Global Franchise Development team will be based in London and Burbank, and will help foster the studio’s expanded creative partnership with Rowling. Warner UK, Ireland and Spain President and Managing Director Josh Berger will add the title of President of HPGFD to his current role. The team will develop and execute a “high-level strategic vision” for the Potter brand, and its ancillary businesses, working closely with Rowling’s team at The Blair Partnership and other stakeholders and partners. Berger will be supported by Polly Cochrane in London, and Paul Condolora in Burbank.
Warner says the creation of HPGFD reflects the continuing expansion of the Potter franchise. That now includes the upcoming film series Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them; the Making of Harry Potter studio tour at Warner’s Leavesden Studios outside London; the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan and the expansion of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida; a suite of Harry Potter digital services and products including the website Pottermore; and the Harry Potter stage play, which will open on the West End next year.
… Read More »
Harry Potter, The Hobbit and now … Dragonriders Of Pern? On an endless search to find big-scale fantasy books that lend themselves to global franchises, Warner Bros has optioned the Pern book series from the estate of American-Irish author Anne McCaffrey. There is a lot to work with here, with 22 volumes that make it one of the biggest selling sci-fi series ever. The first book was published in 1968, and the focus is on an elite group of warriors who take to the skies on the backs of giant, fire-breathing dragons with telepathic powers. They try to save the exotic planet of Pern from a terrifying airborne menace — a rain of deadly spores that comes with the orbit of the Red Star.
Related: Warner Bros Taps Drew Crevello As Senior Movie Production Veep
The deal was spearheaded by Warner Bros exec Drew Crevello, who joined the studio only a couple of months ago after writing for two years. He previously had been in production at Fox as a VP, where he worked on the X-Men franchise pics. Warners’ Julia Spiro also is working on the project. The series option deal comes as the studio searches keenly for another big franchise; this one could launch an entire merchandising and licensing product line. Just as important, it could be the fantasy the studio craves after Warner Bros rode Harry Potter into The Hobbit, which winds down later … Read More »
RatPac Entertainment has joined Warner Bros in the pursuit of movie rights to Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller The Goldfinch. They finally closed the deal today for a film that will be produced by Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson of Color Force, along with RatPac’s Brett Ratner, whose Hercules opened Friday. James Packer will be executive producer. It shows how prolific the relationship is becoming between Warner Bros and RatPac, which teams with Dune on the overall slate financing deal with the studio.
This ends a long drawn out negotiation and becomes the second book by the bestselling author for Warner Bros, which years ago acquired Secret History. I’d heard that the studio’s glacial pace on that book was a reason this deal took so long, but this is flat out a coup for the studio, a real prestige title. ICM Partners brokered the deal for The Goldfinch, which has been on The New York Times bestseller list for 39 weeks. Courtenay Valenti and Racheline Benveniste will oversee for the studio.
The novel focuses on Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker who survives an accident that kills his beloved mother. Abandoned by his father and unable to mesh in the elite social circle after he’s taken in by a wealthy friend, Decker stays connected to his mother through a small painting that eventually draws him into the art underworld. Read More »
Peter Jackson‘s Hobbit trilogy wraps with the final chapter The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which he gave fans a sneak peek at over the weekend at Comic-Con. WB has now unleashed the teaser trailer seen first in Hall H, in which the heroes of Middle Earth must contend with the ferocious dragon Smaug and the fast-mobilizing forces of Sauron, the latter of which took center stage in The Lord Of The Rings. Here’s the new look at the December 17 release set to hit theaters in 3D, 2D, IMAX, and High Frame Rate 3D:
Related: Q&A: Peter Jackson On His Middle Earth Exit & A Disguise That Let Him Haunt Comic-Con
George Miller blazed through Hall H with footage from Mad Max: Fury Road, which isn’t exactly a sequel or a prequel but feels very Mad Max through and through. “I was able to make the movie I wanted to make,” he told the standing-room-only Comic-Con crowd. “WB allows the filmmakers their process.”
It’s been 35 years since the Aussie filmmaker started the franchise with Mel Gibson as the iconic post-apocalyptic road warrior, the cult fave who last hit screens in 1985′s threequel Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. (One big difference in shooting the first movie and shooting this one? “It took over a week before we saw our dailies – now you see it immediately.”) Fury Road is led by Tom Hardy as loner Mad Max Rockatansky and Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa, and Miller said it lies closer in spirit to the second film.
UPDATE: Miller also unveiled four new official posters for the pic featuring stars Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult and Hugh Keays-Byrne:
Read More »
Director Zack Snyder tweeted out the reveal just now to the Comic-Con throng during Warner Bros’ Hall H panel:
Zack Snyder brought his new Batman Ben Affleck, Superman Henry Cavill, and Wonder Woman Gal Gadot to Hall H – and the fans to their feet – right off the bat at the top of Warner Bros.’ two-hour Comic-Con presentation this morning. And with the superheroes came a groundbreaking first for the convention itself: Curtains on either side of the main jumbotron crawled back to reveal supersized wraparound screens extending down both sides of the massive hall, giving the 6,000+ attendees an immersive aural and visual peek at a first teaser for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Snyder also timed a Twitter post to reveal the first look at Gadot’s Wonder Woman (check it out here.)
The original build for Warners’ Hall H presentation added 450 feet we’re told and it took four people just to open the curtains. The planning for the install began months ago and the build took about a week. Too bad it’s not permanent though: The curtains closed again immediately following WB’s panel — bummer for Legendary, Marvel, and the other studios who have to follow. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros hosts its Comic-Con panel tomorrow morning where Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is expected to be front and center, but here’s a morsel to nibble on today. I’m hearing that after he absolutely crushed the script on that film, Oscar-winning Argo scribe Chris Terrio is being courted by the studio to come aboard and script its Justice League movie. That superhero mash-up will be DC Comics‘ answer to Marvel’s Avengers juggernaut. Not that well known prior to Argo, Terrio has fast become an A-list scribe, and a favorite of writer-directors. He’s got Bunker Hill with Ben Affleck, and The Foreigner, among several big pics. Terrio’s repped by WME.
Related: Zack Snyder Locked For ‘Justice League’
Affleck’s going to star as Batman in the Zack Snyder-directed Justice League and Henry Cavill will reprise Superman, while Gal Gadot will play Wonder Woman and Game Of Thrones alum Jason Momoa is on the docket to play Aquaman. Might be the highest-priority film at Warner Bros for new film division managers Greg Silverman and Sue Kroll.
Related: Comic-Con: Ben Affleck As Batman Shows Up … Sort Of
In a most unusual spec script deal, Warner Bros has pre-emptively acquired an untitled “script-ment” from tyro screenwriter David Weil. Essentially, the studio bought the blueprint for a 7-part movie franchise featuring interconnected stories contained in The Arabian Nights. 3 Arts is the sole producer.
The script-ment is 90 pages long, and I’m told that Weil’s vision is for a period reinterpretation of very familiar stories from a public domain tale, with modern tropes and themes that lend themselves to the big tent pole CGI-driven element that is vital in fantasy fare. It is the bible for what the scribe envisions as a long running franchise. It came to Warner Bros because that is where 3 Arts’ Erwin Stoff has made numerous films that include the Doug Liman-directed Tom Cruise-starrer Edge Of Tomorrow.
Chantal Nong and Julia Spiro will oversee the project for Warner Bros. Weil is repped by CAA and Jessica Moresco at Unified Management.
A federal judge today has denied a motion seeking to disqualify lawyers repping the estate of The Lord Of The Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien in its $80 million copyright and digital merchandising lawsuit against Warner Bros and the Saul Zaentz Company. The studio and its partner in early June filed a motion to have Fourth Age’s lawyers, Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP, disqualified the almost-2-year-old suit ”because the firm impermissibly gained access to privileged information in violation of Rules of Professional Conduct.”
In today’s three-page order (read it here), U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins wrote that “Warner and Zaentz have not met their burden of showing that disqualification is necessary to preserve the integrity of these proceedings.” WB is repped by Daniel Petrocelli of LA firm O’Melveny & Meyers; Saul Zaentz Co is repped by Martin Glick of San Francisco firm Arnold & Porter LLP. Read More »
Cross-platform entertainment site All Def Digital named former Machinima executive Sanjay Sharma as the site’s first president and COO, co-founder Russell Simmons said today. Sharma also will join the site’s board, and will be responsible for day-to-day business and operational affairs while working with Simmons and other site founders on strategic direction. Simmons, the music and entertainment impresario, launched ADD last year with a string of YouTube online video shows and series featuring acts such as musicians Spoken Reasons and Odd Future, slam poetry, comedy, the reality show Love Dollhouse and more. The site has since continued to branch out on various distribution platforms and with new programming. It has partnered with DreamWorks Animation digital video unit AwesomenessTV, HBO, YouTube and Universal Music Group, where Simmons’ Def Jam Music is quartered. The company also recently announced ADD52, a deal with Samsung’s streaming music service Milk Music to release a single from a little-known music artist every week for a year.
Sharma spent five years at Machinima as one of its first employees and left a few weeks ago as EVP Strategy and Business Development after helping spearhead a $18 million round of funding led by Warner Bros in March. Sharma previously worked in Warner’s business & legal affairs operations, and for an ad-tech startup.
Read More »
Warner Bros. just issued a brief notice that it had moved up the debut by two days for Hillsong – Let Hope Rise from April 3, 2015 to April 1, the preceding Wednesday, ahead of the Easter holiday weekend. We presume this is no April Fool’s Joke. Hillsong United is an extremely successful Christian music band based in Australia, and the concert tour film is a co-production between Warner Bros. and Alcon Entertainment. It is being produced by Matthew Weaver and Jonathan Bock.
Here’s the trailer for Annabelle, a spinoff rather than straight sequel to the New Line horror pic The Conjuring. The pic is directed by John R. Leonetti, written by Gary Dauberman and produced by James Wan and Peter Safran. It stars Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard and Eric Ladin. The main lesson to be drawn from the trailer seems to be that it’s not healthy for adults to play with dolls, but perhaps we’re being too literal minded in our assessment. Annabelle opens October 3, just in time to ruin the Christmas gift lists of doll collectors everywhere. What do you think of the trailer?
Months after setting acclaimed theatre director Thea Sharrock to make her directorial debut with Me Before You, Warner Bros. has locked an August 21, 2015 release for the MGM-produced lit adaptation. Brit author Jojo Moyes penned the original script based on her 2012 novel and (500) Days Of Summer scribes Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber then came aboard as writers. Story follows small-town girl Lou and wheelchair-bound Will, who share a series of life-changing adventures when he hires her as his caretaker. Sharrock’s TV directing resume includes Sam Mendes’ BBC miniseries The Hollow Crown and Call The Midwife.
Warner Bros has acquired screen rights to I’ll Give You The Sun, the Jandy Nelson YA novel that Penguin’s Dial Press will publish in September. Book is described as a multi-faceted, cross-generational coming-of-age drama of teenage twins, Noah and Jude. Both budding artists who are torn apart in the wake of a family tragedy, they are reunited as they put the pieces back together and begin to define themselves not just as artists but as human beings as they process first love, betrayal, family, and the power of personal expression through art. Denise DiNovi and Alison Greenspan will produce. Courtenay Valenti and newly promoted creative exec Julia Spiro will oversee for Warner Bros. Read More »
Warner Bros. has boosted Niki Sherrod to SVP,Music as the film music exec goes into her eighth year with the studio. Sherrod had most recently served as VP Music after joining the company in 2006 following stints at Atlantic Records’ soundtrack division and Warner Music Group, where she served as creative director for film and TV. At WB she has overseen music including the Billboard-charting soundtrack for teen party pic Project X featuring the likes of Kid Cudi, Pusha T, and Tyler the Creator – and, on the other side of the spectrum, the Oscar-winning original score for Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity. Read More »
Warner Bros has emerged as the frontrunner for the hot project in town. The studio is in talks for U.S. and Canadian rights for The Nice Guys. Reps for the sellers say others are not out of the mix yet, but it sounds like this is how it will go down. It could be a big project. Shane Black will direct, and Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are circling the leads. This is a script that Black co-wrote with Anthony Bagarozzi, and Joel Silver is producing. It would reunite the writer and producer with the studio that made Lethal Weapon, one of Warner Bros’ most lucrative franchises. In The Nice Guys, a private eye investigates the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles and uncovers a conspiracy. Read More »
In the first of what is yet to come in terms of the major studio film announcements, Warner Bros. revealed today its cinema panel lineup at Comic-Con 2014. On Saturday, July 26 at 10 AM, the studio is bringing Peter Jackson and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies to Hall H as well as director George Miller who’ll present a sneak peek at his Mad Max: Fury Road. In addition, there will be a first look at the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending. Attending stars will be announced at a later date. In the meantime, fans can start lining up at the Gas Lamp Theatre for a 10 PM pre-Con fan screening of New Line and Village Roadshow Pictures’ upcoming “cli-fi” thriller Into the Storm on Wednesday, July 23.
However, the big question Comic-Con attendees really wanna know is: Will Disney bring Star Wars: Episode VII in any shape or form to the fanboy confab? Will J.J. Abrams possibly start that August break just a little earlier and bring the gang to San Diego? Disney did not reveal any sneek peeks of the franchise at their D23 convention last summer.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has hired Fedor Bondarchuk to direct Odysseus, the large-scale film based on Homer’s poem The Odyssey, about the Greek king who returns after a decade away fighting the Trojan War. Jeremy Doner is writing the script. Hollywood Gang’s Gianni Nunnari is producing with Bernie Goldmann and Shannon Gaulding, as well as Bondarchuk’s partners Michael Schlicht and Paul Heth.
The film is a large-scale epic, and the Russian filmmaker’s work has been getting more and more ambitious. Bondarchuk, the son of Oscar-winning helmer Sergey Bondarchuk, is an actor, producer and on-air host who last fall directed Stalingrad, a touching WWII film about Russian soldiers who hold off the Nazis and adopt a young woman and keep her safe during an increasingly hostile campaign. The film was Russia’s first movie filmed in Imax 3D format and was nominated for multiple international prizes. Stalingrad was made for around $30 million, and even though there was a high number of action sequences involving tanks and warfare, all of it was accomplished without green screen, as Bondarchuk staged his own siege. He will become the latest offshore helmer to get a crack at a Hollywood studio film, and he has an intriguing advantage: Bondarchuk is a star director in Russia and China, two territories studios are eager to court. He’s repped by Paradigm and Magnolia Entertainment. Niija Kuykendall and Jon Gonda are overseeing for the studio.
Related: … Read More »