Warner Bros’ The Lego Movie grossed higher internationally than tracking predicted over the weekend, and the animated pic has now officially crossed $200 million worldwide. The movie, from Warner Bros Pictures, Village Roadshow and LEGO System A/S, opened domestically February …
Warner Bros EVP Production Lynn Harris is leaving the studio after a ten year run there. One of the smartest execs in town, she has long been rumored for top posts in all sorts of places, to the point where, each time I’d call her she would say, “Where am I going now?” The most recent speculation was that she could wind up in a high post at Disney after Alan Horn left Warner Bros to take over that studio. Harris will stay until June 1, and she will oversee Godzilla, Jupiter Ascending, and Blended through their conclusions. The early speculation now is that Harris might go and rejoin Jeff Robinov in his new Sony deal, for which he is still raising money. They worked well together on Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes him that long to get things up and running. Harris said she hasn’t decided on anything yet.
Harris leaves after having her best year at the studio. She has a great relationship with filmmakers and had a strong hand in films from David Fincher’s breakthrough film Se7en, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights, and the Blade series at New Line, to such Warner Bros pics as Man Of Steel, the Fincher-directed Zodiac and The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, the Steven Soderbergh-directed Contagion and Magic Mike, the Spike Jonze-directed Where The Wild Things Are and many others.
There is always fallout when regimes change at studios as happened at Warner Bros when Robinov exited last summer, and when you are a candidate for that top job and it goes to someone else, the next step is often elsewhere. This marks the second respected female executive to exit the Warner Bros ranks in quick succession, after Sarah Schechter left to run Greg Berlanti’s WB-based film and TV company. While Robinov has taken most of the bows for pushing Gravity through the green light process, I’ve always heard that Harris was the unsung hero who kept it on track through all of its travails. So expect her next move to be a good one. Here is the internal memo just disseminated by Greg Silverman:
Warner Bros’ Lawyers Accused Of Calling Expert “Sexist” & “Bullying” Tactics In ‘Trouble With The Curve’ Lawsuit
If you thought the already invective-heavy multimillion-dollar Trouble With The Curve copyright lawsuit against Warner Bros and others couldn’t turn into more of a dugout brawl, think again. In a flurry of filings today in federal court before a February 24 hearing on Warners’ motion to dismiss the suit from Ryan A Brooks and his Gold Glove Productions, plaintiffs lawyer Gerard Fox stepped it up a notch — or took it down, depending on your perspective. “This shading of facts, this bullying, this name calling, and these highly unprofessional acts all indicate desperation and nothing more,” he said in response (read it here) to Warners’ scathing reply brief of last week and the actions of its lawyers Daniel Petrocelli, Matt Kline and Ashley Pearson of LA firm O’Melveny & Myers. Brooks first filed his lawsuit October 1 over the 2012 Clint Eastwood-Amy Adams baseball pic.
Specifically, in the filings today, Fox is crying foul on the lawyers for the way they characterized and treated the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses — many of whom Warners pummeled in its reply brief. “The fact that some of these experts have had their testimony rejected by some courts, while being accepted by others, is of no more significance to the facts of this case than the number of times a sitting judge is reversed,” says the lawyer. Noting a professor who the defense have used in past cases for other studios, Fox takes aim at the O’Melveny & Myers trio. “In this case they have called him, on the record, without any cause but their own taunting behavior, a sexist,” he writes in the 10-page filing today. “Moreover, during the deposition of Columbia Professor David Yerkes, defense counsel made a statement that one could opine was meant to suggest he was racist. Such unprofessional comments are beyond the pale.”
EXCLUSIVE: After a fast rise as a Warner Bros production executive, Sarah Schechter is leaving the executive suite to become president of Warner Bros-based Berlanti Productions. She will run both the film and television shingles for writer, director and producer Greg Berlanti.
Schechter, who joined Warner Bros as a creative exec in 2005, rose to VP in 2007 and SVP in 2009. Among the films she has been supervising is the Berlanti-produced Pan, which became a priority project on a first draft by Jason Fuchs. The 3D film now has Joe Wright aboard as director, Hugh Jackman playing Blackbeard and Garrett Hedlund playing Hook and it is prepping in London for June 26, 2015 release. She has also been supervising the Etan Cohen-directed Get Hard, the comedy that will star Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart; the Ben Affleck-directed adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel Live By Night; and the Jaume Collet-Serra-directed Akira. Among her other projects building steam at the studio were the Garth Davis-directed Shantaram, the Michael Sucsy-directed film based on the blog 40 Days Of Dating, and the Whitey Bulger pic that Affleck and Matt Damon have been developing. She will transition her projects to other Warner Bros execs and should be in the new job by March. Current Berlanti Productions president Melissa Kellner Berman will become a producer of some of Berlanti’s projects, I’m told.
Johnny Depp stars as an AI professor who uploads his consciousness into the digital ether when his body dies in Transcendence, the directorial debut of Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister. Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, and Morgan Freeman co-star in the sci-fi thriller from a Black List …
Warner Bros’ ‘Tarzan’ Swinging Forward With Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie & July 2016 Release Date
After putting the brakes on their 3D live-action Tarzan pic last year, Warner Bros is charging ahead again with True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgård set to play the loinclothed Edgar Rice Burroughs hero. The pic, now in preproduction, will open on July 1, 2016, the studio said today. Skarsgård was attached to star in the David Yates-helmed pic when the studio cautiously stalled plans to move forward last spring. At the time Jessica Chastain was circling the female lead, but now the Jane role has gone to Margot Robbie who had a breakout turn in Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street this fall.
Tarzan will tell the familiar tale of the eponymous hero, orphaned as a baby and raised in the jungle, who returns to urban London as a man. Samuel L. Jackson and his Django Unchained co-star Christoph Waltz will also star. Jerry Weintraub, David Barron and Alan Riche are producing.
BREAKING: Two more key roles have been cast in Zack Snyder’s upcoming Superman-Batman movie for Warner Bros. Jesse Eisenberg will play Superman’s arch enemy Lex Luthor and Jeremy Irons will play Bruce Wayne’s butler/mentor Alfred in the pic, which is set for a May 6, 2016 release. They join Henry Cavill, reprising his role as Superman/Clark Kent in what Warners is billing as a sequel to its Man Of Steel; Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne; and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince. Man of Steel stars Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane also are in the new pic.
Both castings show the young-ification of the DC Comics franchise; Caine is 15 years older than Irons, and Gene Hackman, the most prominent of past big-screen Lex Luthors, was in his late 40s and early 50s when he played the role. Eisenberg is 30. Irons, who takes over from Michael Caine who played the role in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, joins fellow Oscar winner Affleck and Oscar nominees Adams, Fishburne and Lane in the movie; Eisenberg was nominated for an Oscar for The Social Network.
The lawsuit over the 2012 Warner Bros baseball pic Trouble With The Curve just lobbed a potential legal bombshell. In a filing today (read it here), plaintiff Ryan A Brooks and his Gold Glove Productions say they have “clear and convincing proof that Defendants’ testimony and other alleged evidence rests upon fraudulent documents and things.” Citing a digital investigator looking at computer disks submitted by Warners in the case, Brooks’ lawyers claim that there is “clear evidence that the date/time stamps of the disks were manipulated to present inaccurate information about date of creation.” Despite the allegations, the studio wasn’t giving any ground. “The lawsuit is reckless and a waste of time and money. The allegations are false,” a WB spokesperson told me. Warner Bros released Trouble With The Curve in September 2012 and the pic grossed $35.8 million domestically and almost $50 million worldwide.
The filing today in federal court opposed Warner Bros’ December 4 motion for summary judgment to get the breach of contract and contract infringement case tossed. In an initial multimillion-dollar filing on October 1, Brooks alleged that the Clint Eastwood-Amy Adams pic credited to screenwriter Randy Brown was in fact written by one Don Handfield. Pushing back, WB said in December that it has “extensive, indisputable evidence” that Brown completed a number of drafts of what became the film and pushed to have the suit dismissed. Late last year, the studio submitted evidence to that end. That’s when plaintiff’s lawyer Gerard Fox brought aboard former U.S. Army Counterintelligence Special Agent Trevor Reschke as his digital investigator.
Warner Bros is getting its Peter Pan movie in ship-shape. It has just announced it has set Hugh Jackman to play Blackbeard in Pan, the Joe Wright-directed update of JM Barrie’s Peter Pan tale. He joins Garrett Hedlund, who we scooped this week landed the role of Captain Hook after being in the mix with Boardwalk Empire‘s Jack Huston and Perks Of Being A Wallflower‘s Ezra Miller. The script is by Jason Fuchs, and Greg Berlanti is producing under his Berlanti Productions banner with Paul Webster. Sarah Schechter is overseeing for the studio.
In Fuchs’ script, an orphan is taken to the magical world of Neverland, where he becomes the savior of the natives and leads a rebellion against the evil pirates led by Blackbeard. Javier Bardem at one time was offered this part, but Jackman was later rumored to be in the mix, and now it is final. For the record, that makes a pretty formidable acting duo playing the same historical figure: John Malkovich is set as Blackbeard in NBC’s upcoming pirate drama series Crossbones from Neil Cross.
The studio said today that the pic remains untitled, though it does have a July 17, 2015 release date after it was shifted last week to take the slot previously held by the studio’s Superman Vs. Batman movie. The move keeps Pan from being sandwiched between Fox’s Fantastic Four and Paramount’s Terminator reboot and took the pic off the the same date as Ted 2 from Universal.
Jackman, repped by WME, just wrapped shooting on Fox’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past, and his most recent pic in theaters was the Warner Bros’ thriller Prisoners.
Today the seemingly endless Superman heirs copyright suit might have truly leaped its final bound. Just over a month after lawyer Marc Toberoff petitioned the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for a rehearing of its November 21, 2013 opinion in favor of Warner Bros, the court has said no. “The panel has voted unanimously to deny the petition for rehearing,” said the order issued today. In saying no, the 9th Circuit closed the door on any more requests from the heirs of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster. “The petition for rehearing and the petition for rehearing en banc are DENIED. No further petitions for panel or en banc rehearing will be entertained,” said the one-page order. Long story short: That’s the end of the road for Toberoff and the Shuster heirs.
The December 10, 2013 2-1 opinion reaffirmed a District Court decision supporting the position of DC Comics and its corporate parent Warner Bros that Mark Warren Peary of Shuster’s estate couldn’t file a copyright termination notice 11 years ago. WB claimed a 1992 agreement with Shuster’s siblings, in which they were to be compensated $25,000 a year for life, already delivered their Superman rights to the company.
UPDATED: The studio’s new release date of May 6, 2016 is almost a year after the Superman-Batman movie’s original date and might sound familiar: it is the same weekend as an untitled Marvel movie, setting up a superhero …
NOMINATIONS BY STUDIO AND DISTRIBUTOR
Not counting shorts categories
Sony Pictures (includes Sony Pictures Classics) – 21
Warner Bros – 21
Paramount – 13
20th Century Fox (includes Fox Searchlight) – 11
The Weinstein Company (including Radius-TWC) – 11
Universal (including Focus Features) – 10
Disney – 7
CBS Films – 2
Adopt Films – 1
Drafthouse Films – 1
Enthuse Entertainment – 1
GKIDS – 1
IFC Films – 1
Janus Films – 1
Magnolia Pictures – 1
Netflix – 1
Participant Media – 1
Strand Releasing – 1
Tribeca Film – 1
Worldview Entertainment – 1
Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions – 1