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HAMMOND: Fox’s ‘We Bought A Zoo’ Becomes Final Awards Screener Sent To Oscar Voters

By | Tuesday January 10, 2012 @ 3:57pm PST
Pete Hammond

With only four days to go before Oscar nomination ballots are due back to PricewaterhouseCooper’s offices in downtown LA — and with many, if not most, already sent in — 20th Century Fox’s December 23 release We Bought A Zoo landed in Academy voters’ mailboxes only yesterday, becoming the final screener of the season to be sent out. Some voters I talked to were quite surprised to see it arrive so late as there would be little time left to actually view it even if one still had a ballot. Fox hasn’t made the Cameron Crowe family film an Oscar campaign priority, instead spending the bulk of those ad dollars on their Andy Serkis supporting bid for Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and their animated hopeful Rio. So was this screener entry an odd late-inning strategy to gain Oscar attention for Zoo? NOT! Actually, I am told that for unforseen technical reasons it was delayed. Stuff happens.

Nevertheless, since Deadline informed you who was first with their screeners this year (Summit’s A Better Life got the jump on everyone back on September 7, and so far it has paid off in a surprise SAG nod for star Demian Bichir), it’s only fitting we should tell you what movie you need to complete your 2011 collection. Of course it’s still possible another screener could be coming Academy members’ way if a surprise nominee pops up on January 24 — like Adam Sandler getting a best actor nom for Jack and Jill — but for now this looks to be it. Read More »

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‘MI:4′ Among Latest Movies Headed To FX

FX said today that it has acquired commercial TV premiere rights to Paramount’s Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, Sony’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Fox’s We Bought A Zoo. The deals were completed before year’s end, the network said, meaning that for the year FX landed 28 of the top 50 highest-grossing films of 2011 (other late-season pickups included The Sitter, Puss In Boots, Real Steel, Immortals, Paranormal Activity 3, and A Very Harold And Kumar Christmas). The movies will debut on the network beginning in early 2013. “We landed 19 films that grossed more than $100 million representing two-thirds of all films that topped that mark, which was by far our best year ever,” FX Networks EVP Chuck Saftler said in a release announcing the pickups. “Our movie line-up has been a key primetime ratings driver, and it continues to provide an outstanding lead-in platform for our original series.”

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Christmas Cheer! Better Numbers For New Movies; ‘Mission: Impossible’ Still #1; Spielberg’s ‘War Horse’ Exceeds Predictions

B.O. Brawl: Warner Bros Demands Recount From Paramount & Sony

TUESDAY AM: 8TH UPDATE: Full weekend wrapup coming… Refresh for latest…

Christmas Day box office numbers for North America are up +60% compared to New Years Eve for the new holiday releases and as much as +86% for the weekend frontrunner Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and +104% for Warner Bros’ Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows in second place. As for the No. 1 movie, director Brad Bird’s Tom Cruise-Jeremy Renner starrer is definitely going to outgross the M:I franchise’s last actioner which did $135M domestic and $270M overseas. My sources say M:I4 is heading to $175M domestic and $400M overseas — with a budget estimated at $145M. Also, Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-buzzed War Horse for DreamWorks/Disney opened in 2,376 theaters today and is overperforming with nearly $7.5M jumping into 3rd place. And that’s despite its 2-hour, 26-minute running time which means fewer screenings. Also opening today is New Regency/Summit Entertainment’s sci-fi thriller The Darkest Hour which debuted today in 2,324 theaters with $2.5M. Fox’s Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked falls to 6th place, while the studio’s We Bought A Zoo moves up a notch to 5th, and Paramount’s The Adventures Of Tintin drops to 7th. More later.

As predicted, Christmas Eve grosses were very soft. (And many international theaters particularly in Europe close early on Christmas Eve and on Christmas.) Paramount’s Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol is still having the holiday season’s strongest start for #1. Either Tom Cruise’s career is back from the brink or else moviegoers are in the mood for a full-frills actionfest with heartstopping stunts — or both. The fourquel is showing that this franchise has freshened successfully. Warner Bros’ Sherlock Holmes: Game Of Shadows is holding in 2nd place, but it was supposed to win the weekend. Guy Ritchie’s thriller just wasn’t thrilling enough for audiences. And its disappointing start shows how fickle fans can be when it comes to movie stars like Robert Downey Jr. Another big surprise is the underperformance of Twentieth Century Fox’s family fare threequel Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked which may show more life over the next week. Sony Pictures’ The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is the only major studio wide release that’s R-rated this holiday period. So its lackluster grosses are such a surprise (especially because adults are flocking to specialty box office hits like Fox Searchlight’s The Descendants and The Weinstein Co’s The Artist). Maybe fans of the Steig Larsson novel were satisfied by last year’s Swedish film and weren’t feeling David Fincher’s Hollywood version. But business could pick up next week. Paramount/Sony’s The Adventure Of Tintin is already a hit overseas. But these domestic grosses underwhelm for a Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson collaboration. Then again, Americans don’t have a clue who the Belgian boy hero is.  Twentieth Century Fox suffered yet another disappointing debut when its holiday heartwarmer We Bought A Zoo opened really weak despite stars Matt Damon-Scarlett Johansson and director Cameron Crowe and heavy TV advertising and two rounds of national sneaks to build word of mouth. You’d think all those animals would have put more people in seats, like the studio’s previous hit Marley & Me, especially with an ‘A’ CinemaScore. Speaking of animals, Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-buzzed War Horse from DreamWorks/Disney opens Sunday in 2,376 theaters and is projected to make $4.5M on Sunday and $8M Monday. Its 2-hour, 26-minute running time means fewer screenings. Question is whether this is family or adult fare.

But just when the Grinch stole Hollywood’s moviegoers comes the stat that overall box office this 3-day weekend is -22% compared to last year. But the 4-day wholiday looks to be up 3% vs last year which also included Christmas Eve. Monday is a U.S. national holiday so look for better box office. That’s when we’ll see clarity on whether the entire holiday period will bring out moviegoers for what is now the very important New Year’s weekend which may lead to much better multiples and totals than usual. Latest Top 10 (order determined by weekend gross):

1. Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol (Paramount) Week 2 [3,448 Runs]
Debuted Friday December 16 in limited release; Expanded Tuesday night December 20; Officially went wide Wednesday December 21
Tuesday $1.7M, Wednesday $8.9M (including $2M midnights), Thursday $6.2M, Friday $9.7M, Saturday $6.1M
3-Day Weekend $26.5M, 4-day Holiday $40.2M
Domestic Cume $72.6M, International Cume $130M (from 50 markets)

2. Sherlock Holmes: Game Of Shadows (Warner Bros) Week 2 [3,703 Runs]
Opened wide Friday December 16
Wednesday $4.2M, Thursday $4.8M, Friday $6.7M, Saturday $5M
3-Day Weekend $17.8M (-55%), 4-Day Holiday $25M
Domestic Cume $83.8M, International Cume $46.1M (from 25 markets)

3. Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (Fox) Week 2 [3,726 Runs]
Opened wide Friday December 16
Wednesday $3.5M, Thursday $3.9M, Friday $5.4M, Saturday $2.8M
3-Day Weekend $13.3M (-43%), 4-Day Holiday $21.1M
Domestic Cume $58.1M, International Cume $42.1M (from 52 markets)

4. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Sony) NEW [2,914 Runs]
Debuted Tuesday night December 20; Opened Wednesday December 21
Tuesday $1.6M, Wednesday $5M, Thursday $3.1M, Friday $4.6M, Saturday $2.5M
3-Day Weekend $13M, 4-Day Holiday $20M
Domestic Cume $28.5M, International Cume $950K

5. The Adventures Of Tintin 3D (Paramount) NEW [3,087 Runs]
Opened Wednesday December 21
Wednesday $2.3M, Thursday $2.4M, Friday $3.5M, Saturday $2.4M
3-Day Weekend $9.1M, 4-Day Holiday $14.3M
Domestic Cume $22.3M, International Cume (Sony) $240M

6. We Bought A Zoo (Fox) NEW [3,117 Runs]
Friday $3M, Saturday $1.9M
3-Day Weekend $7.8M, 4-Day Holiday $11.7M
International Cume $1.1M (from 6 markets)

Read More »

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Fox Skeds More ‘We Bought A Zoo’ Sneaks

By | Friday December 9, 2011 @ 7:42am PST

Interesting to see how the Hollywood studios are trying to combat the holiday clutter and the box office slump. Sony and Paramount and Warner Bros bigwigs are overseas pushing product like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows. Since they all know the international market can more than make up for disappointing domestic numbers. Harvey Weinstein and Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg are personally publicizing their holiday movies/awards contenders My Week With Marilyn and The Artist, HugoThe Adventures Of Tintin and War Horse, knowing that the media can’t resist an opportunity to promo their sound bites. But over at Twentieth Century Fox, the powers-that-be have scheduled still more Saturday night sneaks of Cameron Crowe’s We Bought A Zoo this weekend in 800 across the U.S. and Canada even though pic doesn’t officially open until December 23rd. The studio’s belief seems to be that word of mouth this holiday season will be key to winning the box office derby. Even rival studios were telling me that the approximately 800 sneaks of We Bought A Zoo over Thanksgiving were sizzling. Sellouts were reported in markets from New York to LA, Minneapolis to Memphis, Salt Lake City to Boston, Detroit to Orlando, Philly to Kansas City… Apparently exit scores were over 995 in all quadrants with laughter and tears common. Audiences were multi-generational, both family and non-family alike.

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Fox To Sneak ‘We Bought A Zoo’ Four Weeks Early On Thanksgiving Weekend

Obviously 20th Century Fox must be excited about Cameron Crowe’s We Bought A Zoo because the studio has just decided to sneak it four weeks ahead of the film’s December 23rd bow. The nationwide sneaks of the holiday picture will take place on Saturday, November 26th during Thanksgiving Weekend, one of the busiest moviegoing times of the year as well as Christmas when there’s a lot of releases all at once. In a statement, Oren Aviv and Tony Sella, the studio’s marketing mavens, said:  “Once in a while, we’re lucky enough to have a picture to which audiences of all kinds and all ages respond so strongly, that it demands a big and unexpected event.  We Bought A Zoo is that kind of picture – and Thanksgiving is a great time to share it via this special very early preview.” The idea is to generate very early word of mouth, so necessary in these times of slumping box office. The studio claims test screenings of the film in both major cities and the heartland have produced “exceptional responses across wide-ranging demographics so the Studio is using one family holiday to prime the release for the next holiday”. Read More »

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‘MI4′ & ‘Tintin’ Tweak Xmas Week Dates

Spielberg Moves ‘War Horse’ Release Amid DreamWorks Money Woes

Paramount said today that it is shifting the release dates for two of its prime holiday movies. Now, the Steven Spielberg-directed The Adventures of Tintin and the Tom Cruise-starrer Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol will both open in wide release (including IMAX) on Wednesday, Dec. 21. Mission: Impossible always had that date, but today it was revealed that the actioner will begin previews in select theaters and IMAX on Friday, Dec. 16. Meanwhile, the studio had slated Tintin for a Dec. 23 bow but has moved the motion-capture pic up a bit into the midweek spot.

The week leading up to Christmas has always been a plum one for the studios, but the year it is particularly crazy. In addition to Mission: Impossible, Sony has slotted its big David Fincher action drama The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo for Wednesday. Meanwhile, Fox’s Cameron Crowe pic We Bought a Zoo bows wide Friday along with the platform debut of the Angelina Jolie-directed In the Land of Blood and Honey. On Christmas Day is Spielberg’s just-shifted War Horse, from DreamWorks/Touchstone/Disney; Summit’s sci-fi thriller The Darkest Hour; and Warner Bros’ limited release of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

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Hot Trailer: ‘We Bought A Zoo’

By | Wednesday September 14, 2011 @ 1:03pm PDT

Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson and Thomas Haden Church star in Cameron Crowe’s newest helming effort We Bought A Zoo, which now has a trailer. 20th Century Fox releases it Dec. 23. Crowe’s last feature — outside documentaries — was 2005′s Elizabethtown, which didn’t do so hot.

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UTA Signs On To Rep Kid Actor Colin Ford

By | Monday August 29, 2011 @ 9:30am PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Colin Ford, who stars as Matt Damon’s son in Cameron Crowe’s upcoming We Bought a Zoo, has signed with UTA. The 15-year-old also is about to begin production on Henry-Alex Rubin’s indie drama Disconnect opposite Alexander Skarsgard, Frank Grillo and Michael Nyqvist. Ford voices the title character on Disney Channel’s Jake and the Never Land Pirates and recurs on the CW’s Supernatural. He continues to be repped by manager Lainie Sorkin Becky at Management 360, the Osbrink Agency and attorney PJ Shapiro.

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Cameron Crowe Taps His ‘Almost Famous’ Alter Ego For ‘Zoo,’ And Elle Fanning, Too

Mike Fleming

Cameron Crowe has set Patrick Fugit and Elle Fanning is in talks to star alongside Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson in We Bought A Zoo. Thomas Hayden Church is also in the Fox film based on the Benjamin Mee memoir. Fugit, you’ll recall, played the young journalist who was essentially playing Crowe in Almost Famous, a memoirish film that chronicled the filmmaker’s experience when, as a teenaged journalist, he was hired by Rolling Stone magazine to go on the road with the Allman Brothers when the band was on the rise. Read More »

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Scarlett Johansson Near Deal For Cameron Crowe’s ‘We Bought A Zoo’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Scarlett Johansson is in final negotiations to star alongside Matt Damon in We Bought A Zoo, the Cameron Crowe-directed adaptation of the Benjamin Mee memoir for 20th Century Fox about an American who moves to England to operate a zoo. Deadline reported on Monday that Johansson had the inside track on the role, but she and the studio were apart on money. Fox was also talking to Amy Adams, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Rachel McAdams. Crowe and Aline Brosh McKenna wrote the script. Johansson has been on the short list for several plum parts recently. She is in contention to play Daisy Buchanan in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, along with several other actresses. Lionsgate also wanted her for Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, but that now appears in doubt.

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Cameron Crowe Eyes Actresses For ‘Zoo’

Mike Fleming

Baz Luhrmann isn’t the only director meeting with top young actresses for a project. Much the way that Luhrmann has a top group of  thesps he’ll read with to find Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, Crowe has a short list to play the female lead opposite Matt Damon in We Bought A Zoo, the Benjamin Mee memoir about an American who moves to England to operate a zoo.  I’m hearing that the top contender is Scarlett Johansson, but that Amy Adams, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Rachel McAdams are also in the mix. Crowe and Aline Brosh McKenna wrote the script.

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Matt Damon Headed For ‘We Bought A Zoo’?

Mike Fleming

matt-damonBreaking News… Matt Damon is in early talks to star for director Cameron Crowe in 20th Century Fox’s We Bought a Zoo. Damon’s in talks to play a man who moves his family to England to operate a zoo. The script by Aline Brosh McKenna is based on the memoirs of Benjamin Mee and Fox is pulling together a production start to release the film in late 2011.

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