Sunday, June 30, 2013

UPDATE: ‘Despicable Me 2′ Puts $50M In International Till Before Domestic Release

Illumination Entertainment‘s and Universal‘s 3D sequel Despicable Me 2 opened this weekend as one of the top 4 films internationally for the weekend alongside Man Of Steel, World War Z and Monsters University. All its rivals are playing in 40+ territories against DM2‘s seven markets. Yet the new toon opened #1 in five of its 6 new territories this weekend for a cumulative total of $50M through Sunday from the UK-Ireland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, French-speaking Switzerland, and Sweden as well as Australia which debuted last weekend. As a comparison in the same seven territories, DM2 is performing well ahead of the original Despicable Me as well as DreamWorks sequels Kung Fu Panda 2 and Madagascar 2 and 3. Gru and his manic minions open in North America in limited release Tuesday night and go wide on Wednesday before the Fourth Of July holiday. Expectations are for new records in the 38 territories with the U.S./Canada opening next weekend. Here’s a territory by territory breakdown:
UK & Ireland - Opened #1 with big $3.5M at 542 dates and 49% market share. This weekend is 4x bigger than the opening of Despicable Me. The total including last week’s previews is $23.3M (£15.2M). DM2 broke the record as Universal’s biggest opening weekend ever. In the U.K. and Ireland, Despicable Me 2set a new record for Universal’s biggest opening weekend ever and the biggest opening weekend for a film in 2013 including previews.
France - Opened #1 on Wednesday and has grossed $8M at 799 dates and 40% market share and is more than 1.5 bugger than Despicable Me. It’s the third biggest opening of 2013.
Belgium – Opened #1 and has grossed $1.3M at 71 dates including previews, or 20% ahead of Despicable Me.
Netherlands – Opened #1 and has grossed $2.4M at 131 dates and more than double of the original..
French-Speaking Switzerland – Opened #1 and has grossed $831K at 43 dates with previews, which is 2x bigger than Despicable Me for the biggest opening of 2013 in this market
Sweden – Opened #2 behind Man Of Steel and has grossed $1.6M at 140 dates with previews. It is almost 3x bigger than the debut of Despicable Me.
Australia - DM2 opened last weekend and is holding strong at #2 this weekend behind Man Of Steel’s opening. The cume Down Under is now $12.6M.
Related: ‘Despicable Me 2′ Courts Hispanic Ticket Buyers

Monday, June 24, 2013

Richard Matheson Has Died

In the class of science fiction’s most influential and original writers, Richard Matheson stands up there with the likes of Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. So it is with sorrow that we report he has died in California at the age of 87.Though his name might not immediately spark recognition the way those other two do, there is a good chance that if you enjoy the genre, you’ve read his work seen something adapted from it, including I Am Legend, published in 1954 and filmed as The Last Man On Earth, The Omega Man and the eponymous 2007 Will Smith version, The Shrinking Man, which he adapted into 1957’s The Incredible Shrinking Man, A Stir Of Echoes and several episodes of The Twilight Zone, including the classic Nightmare At 20,000 Feet.He was born in New Jersey in 1926 to Norwegian immigrants and lived with his mother after his father abandoned the family. After serving in World War II, he earned a journalism degree from the University of Missouri in 1949, but by 1950 had already sold his first story, Born Of Man And Woman to The Magazine Of Fantasy And Science Fiction, which solidified his writing career.After moving to Santa Monica in 1951, he married Ruth Ann Woodson and the couple had four children. To support both his growing family and his writing, he worked as a postal clerk and in an airplane factory, honing his stories in his spare time. The Incredible Shrinking Man saw him launched into a fresh career writing for movies and TV and even wrote an earlier treatment for I Am Legend that was intended for Hammer in London but was never made thanks to the concerns of the censor.Other work included episodes of Star Trek and his short story Duel, which famously helped kick off Steven Spielberg’s professional career. In 2010 he was rightfully inducted into the Science Fiction Gall Of Fame, and died in Calabasas. The world has lost a true talent, and our thoughts are with his family.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

James Gandolfini: Friends, Family Mourn Acting 'Genius'

LOS ANGELES (AP) - James Gandolfini, whose portrayal of a brutal, emotionally delicate mob boss in HBO's "The Sopranos" was the brilliant core of one of TV's greatest drama series and turned the mobster stereotype on its head, died Wednesday in Italy. He was 51.Gandolfini died while on holiday in Rome, the cable channel and Gandolfini's managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders said in a joint statement. No cause of death was given.[RELATED: James Gandolfini Dies of Heart Attack at 51 (REPORT)]"He was a genius," said "Sopranos" creator David Chase. "Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes."Gandolfini, who won three Emmy Awards for his role as Tony Soprano, worked steadily in film and on stage after the series ended. He earned a 2009 Tony Award nomination for his role in the celebrated production of "God of Carnage.""Our hearts are shattered and we will miss him deeply. He and his family were part of our family for many years and we are all grieving," said Armstrong and Sanders.HBO called the actor a "special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone, no matter their title or position, with equal respect." The channel expressed sympathy for his wife and children.Joe Gannascoli, who played Vito Spatafore on the HBO drama, said he was shocked and heartbroken."Fifty-one and leaves a kid - he was newly married. His son is fatherless now. ... It's way too young," Gannascoli said.Gandolfini and his wife, Deborah, who were married in 2008, have a daughter, Liliana, born last year, HBO said. The actor and his former wife, Marcy, have a teenage son, Michael.Gandolfini's performance in "The Sopranos" was indelible and career-making, but he refused to be stereotyped as the bulky mobster who was a therapy patient, family man and apparently effortless killer.In a December 2012 interview with The Associated Press, a rare sit-down for the star who avoided the spotlight, he was upbeat about a slew of smaller roles following the breathtaking blackout ending in 2007 of "The Sopranos.""I'm much more comfortable doing smaller things," Gandolfini said in the interview. "I like them. I like the way they're shot; they're shot quickly. It's all about the scripts - that's what it is - and I'm getting some interesting little scripts."He played Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in Kathryn Bigelow's Osama bin Laden hunt docudrama "Zero Dark Thirty." He worked with Chase for the '60s period drama "Not Fade Away," in which he played the old-school father of a wannabe rocker. And in Andrew Dominick's crime flick "Killing Them Softly," he played an aged, washed-up hit man.There were comedies such as the political satire "In the Loop," and the heartwarming drama "Welcome to the Rileys," which co-starred Kristen Stewart. He voiced the Wild Thing Carol in "Where the Wild Things Are" and made a rare return to the TV screen with the HBO film "Cinemate Verite."Deploying his unsought clout as a star, Gandolfini produced (though only sparingly appeared in) a pair documentaries for HBO focused on a cause he held dear: veterans affairs."Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq" (2007) profiled 10 soldiers and Marines who had cheated death but continued to wage personal battles long after their military service had ended. Four years later, "Wartorn: 1861-2010" charted victims of post-traumatic stress disorder from the U.S. invasion of Iraq all the way back to the Civil War."Do I think a documentary is going to change the world?" Gandolfini said with characteristic modesty during an interview about the latter film. "No, but I think there will be individuals who will learn things from it, so that's enough."Gandolfini grew up in Park Ridge, N.J., the son of a building maintenance chief at a Catholic school and a high school lunch lady.While Tony Soprano was a larger-than-life figure, Gandolfini was exceptionally modest and obsessive - he described himself as "a 260-pound Woody Allen."In past interviews, his cast mates had far more glowing descriptions to offer."I had the greatest sparring partner in the world, I had Muhammad Ali," said Lorraine Bracco, who, as Tony's psychiatrist Dr. Melfi, went one-on-one with Gandolfini in their penetrating therapy scenes. "He cares what he does, and does it extremely well."After earning a degree in communications from Rutgers University, Gandolfini moved to New York, where he worked as a bartender, bouncer and nightclub manager. When he was 25, he joined a friend of a friend in an acting class, which he continued for several years.Gandolfini's first big break was a Broadway production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" where he played Steve, one of Stanley Kowalski's poker buddies. His film debut was in Sidney Lumet's "A Stranger Among Us" (1992).Director Tony Scott, who killed himself in August 2012, had praised Gandolfini's talent for fusing violence with charisma - which he would perfect in Tony Soprano.Gandolfini played a tough guy in Tony Scott's 1993 film "True Romance" who beat Patricia Arquette's character to a pulp while offering such jarring, flirtatious banter as, "You got a lot of heart kid."Scott called Gandolfini "a unique combination of charming and dangerous."Gandolfini continued with supporting roles in "Crimson Tide" (1995), "Get Shorty" (1995), "The Juror" (1996), Lumet's "Night Falls on Manhattan" (1997), "She's So Lovely" (1997), "Fallen" (1998) and "A Civil Action" (1998). But it was "True Romance" that piqued the interest of Chase.He shared a Broadway stage with Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis and Marcia Gay Harden in "God of Carnage" when he received the best-actor Tony nod. He was in "On the Waterfront" with David Morse and was an understudy in a revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire" in 1992 starring Alec Baldwin and Jessica Lange.In his 2012 AP interview, Gandolfini said he gravitated to acting as a release, a way to get rid of anger. "I don't know what exactly I was angry about," he said."I try to avoid certain things and certain kinds of violence at this point," he said last year. "I'm getting older, too. I don't want to be beating people up as much. I don't want to be beating women up and those kinds of things that much anymore."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Steven Spielberg And George Lucas Predict Gloom For Hollywood

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, E3Last night Empire's focus switched from high-octane Forza Motorsport 5 news at the E3 gaming to a high-profile Q&A down the road involving two of cinema's elder statesmen. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, helping to open the University of Southern California’s new Interactive Media Building, offered a rather bleak prognosis of the future of cinema. Revealing that Lincoln was "this close" to appearing on HBO, Spielberg predicted that a few high-profile blockbuster flops will spark a radical overhaul of the Hollywood business model.

"The big danger is that there’s eventually going to be a big meltdown", Spielberg said, "where three or four, maybe even a half a dozen of these mega-budgeted movies are going to go crashing into the ground. That’s going to change the paradigm again."

"You're at the point right now where a studio would rather invest $250 million in one film for a real shot at the brass ring", he added, "than make a whole bunch of really interesting, deeply personal projects that may get lost in the shuffle."

The pair's big worries - of fragmenting distribution channels, the vast choice open to audiences and a breakdown of the narrative form – add up to a world in which their own passion projects, Lincoln and Red Tails, struggled for distribution.

Citing the popularity of premium cable networks such as HBO, the rise of on-demand streaming services and consumers with increasingly large screens in their homes, Lucas believes that the multiplex will gradually become a luxury product - with prices to reflect. "You’re going to end up with fewer but bigger theaters [and] going to the movies is gonna cost you $50, $100, maybe even $150." That, even for the most hardcore of blockbuster fans, isn't pretty.

Adds Spielberg: "You’re going to have to pay $25 to see the next Iron Man and you’re probably only going to have to pay seven dollars to see Lincoln."

These two grandees of cinema - the fathers of the modern blockbuster, lest we forget - echoed some of the concerns raised recently by Steven Soderbergh (see Empire's July issue). Like Soderbergh, they pointed to the emergence of television as a threat to moviemaking, as well as an opportunity for up-and-coming talent. "The Lincolns are going to be on television," predicted Lucas, to which Spielberg added, "Mine almost was: ask HBO. This close."

Not all filmmakers share their apocalyptic vision. Duncan Jones tweeted that the pair were "out of touch" with emerging moviemaking ideas.

Check back later this morning for the full E3 transcript. In the meantime, post your thoughts below.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug Teaser Poster

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Peter Jackson and Team Hobbit, so he’s making sure we haven’t forgotten about the second film in his trilogy by putting a teaser poster for The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug on Facebook.  The imposing image finds Martin Freeman's Bilbo trying to decide how exactly he might best enter the Lonely Mountain. Will he pretend to be a door-to-door salesman? Will he try to blast his way in with dynamite? Or will he carefully and sheepishly make his way inside with all due stealth? It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure book with a really, really obvious choice!Jackson’s second movie will of course find Bilbo and his companions making it inside the mountain, where they’ll have to deal with a certain dragon, none too happy at the intrusion into his massive treasure stash.With the first trailer for the film due this week, The Desolation Of Smaug is set to hit our cinemas on December 13. Check out Peter Jackson talking about working on the movie below.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

'Anchorman' Ron Burgundy Is Getting His Own Newseum Exhibit

Ron Burgundy's dream was to tour the countryside with his family band, but he'll have to settle for a stop at the Newseum instead. The TV news anchor so memorably chronicled in "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" is getting his own exhibit at the Washington, D.C.-based museum devoted to the history of news and the First Amendment."Anchorman: The Exhibit" will open at the Newseum on November 14 to help promote the sequel, "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," due in theaters December 20. The exhibit will include costumes worn by the Channel 4 news team in the original film, as well as props such as Ron's jazz flute and the whip wielded by rival anchorman Arturo Mendez in the movie's legendary showdown between competing news teams.A replica of the Channel 4 news desk will also be featured in the exhibit, where visitors can pose for photo ops. Visitors will also be able to film an "Anchorman"-themed news segment of their own (perhaps involving one of the National Zoo's pandas?).Cathy Trost, vice president of exhibits and programs at the Newseum, said that the movie poked at the "authority and credibility" that many Americans automatically apply to television news, and showcased how often "anchormen and women also are popular targets for pop culture laughs.""The exhibit explores the reality behind the humor of 'Anchorman' and tracks the rise of personality-driven news formats in the 1970s," Trost said.The exhibit will remain open stay classy until August 31, 2014. As for the legend himself, Ron Burgundy had this to say about the news: "I'm literally trapped in a glass case of emotion." Us, too.