Impressive start for what’s sure to be a massive viral campaign for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. That’s Guy Pierce in-character as CEO of the company that employed/terrorized Sigourney Weaver in the Alien films.
Now that MGM is being run by Spyglass’ Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, most assumed that the studio would be getting back into the business of making real movies rather than just picking the bones of ancient hits in a desperate attempt to stay afloat (ala Hannibal Rising, Red Dawn, The Pink Panther, etc).
The first announcement out of the new MGM? That they’re developing television series based on Silence of the Lambs, Robocop and Dances with Wolves. Sweet jesus.
After exploiting old television shows, movies, comic books, action figures and board games, Hollywood is moving on to the next logical property: gum.
Michael Eisner and his Tornante Co. have tapped newcomer Mark Hammer to pen a feature adaptation of “Bazooka Joe,” the comic strip that comes with Bazooka bubble gum.
Hammer, who this weekend is attending the graduation ceremony at Orange County’s Chapman University, where he studied film, wrote a spec titled “Sonny Takes to Peru,” which made the studio rounds but ultimately did not sell.
That spec, however, turned into a strong writing sample that got him into meetings as well as representation at management outfit the Safran Co. Execs at Tornante, seeking to fill their open writing assignment,liked the spec and brought in Hammer, who gave them his winning take.
“Bazooka Joe” has been a comic strip used as an advertising device for the gum since the 1950s. Joe, who wears an eye patch for reasons never explained, has child-friendly misadventures, sometime joined by a host of friends with the names Pesty, Mort (always with a turtleneck sweater pulled up over his mouth), Toughie, Hungry Herman, love interest Jane and a dog named Walkie Talkie.
Bazooka, the gum and the comic, are part of trading card company Topps’ stable. Eisner purchased the company in 2007 for $380 million with a mandate to rejuvenate the brand.
For too long: this important pop culture icon has been hampered by poor story telling in the form of unfunny two-panel comic inserts. Here’s hoping they take the character back-to-basics with a complex, realistic, “darker” origin story in the vein of Nolan’s Batman films.
Since this is likely signaling a new trend, please pitch your own product-turned-movie in comments.
My personal dream casting is Dwayne Johnson for a Mr. Clean movie. I’m just sure he can capture the essence of the character: a vaguely ethnic, chrome-domed lothario who charms lonely housewives with his washboard abs and nearly-debilitating obsessive compulsive disorder.
Previously: Larry Clark’s ‘Candy Land’
The hellish zombie form of once-promising director Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids 3-D, Sharkboy and LavaGirl, Shorts) will produce and direct Predators, a remake of 1987′s Predator for FOX. No start date has been announced, but it’s probably safe to assume it will be a tentpole for the studio in 2011 or 2012.
In the mid 90′s, Rodriguez actually penned a sequel to the original franchise also using the plural Predators title. Of the hundreds of screenplays I’ve read in my lifetime, it would be among the worst.
The director also announced a whole bunch of other films at a press conference today including: Machete, Nerveracker, Sin City 2 and The Jetsons. Rose McGowan or whatever opportunistic, homewrecking coke partner he’s hooked up with at the time will star in all.
April Blair (Gummo*) is the writer. Blair’s recent credits include the Jessica Simpson Iraq War drama, Major Movie Star.
The original Legally Blonde was a critical and commercial success, raking in nearly 100 million domestically. Witherspoon returned two years later for a follow-up, but we’re going to pretend that didn’t happen.
The actress recently produced a second sequel called Legally Blondes (like Aliens, but scarier) that’s due for release this Summer. That installment is directed by ‘Savage’ Steve Holland (One Crazy Summer, Better off Dead) from a script by Chad and Dara Creasey (Pushing Daises).
The original film also spawned a fairly successful musical that ran on Broadway for almost two years. It’s currently touring nationwide.
Trivia: the working title of the film is Legally Blonde: Think Pink. I believe there are, at minimum, seven adult features with the same name. Expect lawsuits aplenty to emanate from the San Fernando Valley as this inches towards release.
* Ok, Blair was only a Post Production Assistant on Gummo but I had to credit her that way.
I remember questioning FOX’s decision to hold back Taken from September to January when the move was announced. The film had already been released on DVD/Blu-Ray worldwide last summer and high-quality streams have been plastered all over the internet for well over 6 months. As such: further delays in getting the thing in front of the masses seemed like a fatal error at the time.
Then the campaign hit. A fairly spiffy one-sheet, followed by a highly-effective trailer and series of commercials that managed to pique the interest of demographics all over the map. From December-on: I lost count of how many folks asked me about, or expressed interest in seeing the film.
Late January came and Taken proved to be enormously successful: bringing in over 24m in it’s initial frame. While no one could knock that number or the truly astounding job done by FOX’s marketing division (who have been struggling of late) it seemed like a typical front-loaded release that would drop 50%+ second weekend before going on to the greener pastures of home video.
Except it didn’t.
Weekend two saw a slight dip of 16.9% and another 20M+ weekend. It was an amazing hold and concrete evidence that the flick was enjoying far better than expected word-of-mouth.
Which brings us to a near-historic weekend three:
As of Sunday night: estimates showed an 8% drop for the Fri-Sun frame. Certainly nothing to sneeze at given the number of days since opening and the fact that they lost 75 screens last Friday. But then the actuals came out yesterday…
Not only was Taken‘s gross underestimated, the film GAINED 8% in week 3. Final gross is just two million shy of it’s OPENING WEEKEND NUMBER. Astonishing.
As Brian pointed out in his review: the film’s success says a whole lot of things about us as a nation that I’m not exactly thrilled to see validated, but hats off to the studio for literally turning something that should have been a 30M grosser into the next big franchise. Unless Neeson gets the call for Lincoln, I’m expecting we’ll see him back for Taken 2, 3, etc. as soon as next summer.
My constant warnings that Marvel’s upcoming production slate is a “suicide pact” seems to be more on the money that I’d thought:
Creating a superhero movie requires a capital-intensive production period. As a result, Marvel faces significant risk from a box-office bomb. However, the company has a unique method of financing, a $525 million non-recourse credit facility from Merrill Lynch. If a movie significantly underperforms, Marvel loses the right to produce follow-ups. The company posted production and distribution rights for 10 of its characters as collateral for the loan. Vertical integration should mitigate some risk. Marvel Publishing, which sells comic books, accounted for $34 million, or 18.6%, of third-quarter net sales and achieved an operating margin of about 37%. The publishing arm is able to identify which characters make the most successful film franchises based on the existing fan base.
Simply put: if something like Captain America tanks, Marvel completely loses the theatrical rights to the character. That is a HUGE risk considering that it’s a near-certainty that at least one of their upcoming films will under-perform.
BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
Warner Bros and Paramount Pictures
Imagine Entertainment, Working Title, Studio Canal; Universal Pictures
Mirage Enterprises; The Weinstein Company
An Evamere Entertainment BBC Films Neal Street Production; DreamWorks Pictures with BBC Films and Paramount Vantage
Fox Searchlight Pictures and Warner Bros.; Fox Searchlight Pictures and Warner Bros.
Hot off the presses, here’s 2008′s Black List!
I’ve uploaded the full PDF version.
Director Vincent Gallo has walked off of Marvel/Paramount’s production of Captain America: The First Avenger citing creative differences. Gallo and the studio publicly came to blows last week after scribe refused to remove what would have been the first* “on-camera brown shower in a major studio production” from his screenplay.
After talks broke down with potential replacements Abel Ferrara (Bad Lieutenant, Ms. 45) and Todd Solondz (Happiness) Marvel has hired Joe “Diet Ratner” Johnston to helm. Johnston is best known for his work on Jurassic Park 3 and for stubbornly refusing to develop a personal style over two decades of output.
Gallo’s treatment for the film, which was widely circulated on the internet in recent weeks, follows the exploits of Captain America (Gallo) as he battles addiction to “soldier serum” while chasing the Red Skull (Paul Caledron, Derek Luke in flashbacks) over the course of a single night in Manhattan. Along the way, he enlists a terminally-ill homeless man (Steve Buscemi) as his new Bucky; drunkenly participants in a gay bashing against a Stark Industries employee (Anthony Rapp) and his lover (Terry Crews); and encounters a husband/wife taxi driving team (Cataline Sandino Moreno, Harvey Keitel) who entice him into robbing a meth lab with promises of group sex. Treatment ends with a Shylamayan-style twist, as the entire adventure is revealed to have been the masturbatory fantasy of a young Steve Rogers in the 1920′s.
No word on whether elements of Gallo’s work will be incorporated into Johnston’s version.
* Similar sequence was filmed for the 2008 Richard Gere/Diane Lane feature Nights in Rodanthe, but excised from the final cut. Director George C. Wolfe plans to include footage in a special edition DVD that Warner Brothers will release next year.
Didn’t see this one coming:
“I want to take this opportunity… also to give you the exclusive and just talk a little bit about the fact that this will be my last performance as an actor… I’m not doing films anymore.”
“Extra’s” Jerry Penacoli, shocked by the news, further probed Joaquin. “Are you serious?” Phoenix, who was curiously being followed by his own camera crews, reiterated, “Yeah. I’m working on my music. I’m done. I’ve been through that.”
Today, “Extra” contacted Phoenix’s rep for clarification and got this response: “That is what he told me.”
While I seriously doubt that Phoenix’s “retirement” will truly last, it might be for the best for him to take some time off. He’s an enormously gifted actor, but he’s made some odd choices this decade.
I thought Phoenix was on his way to A-list leading man status just a few years ago, but he’s continually squandered his career heat by taking forgettable supporting parts in big studio fare (The Village, Ladder 49) or lead roles in B-level indie dramas (We Own the Night, Buffalo Soldiers).
Well played, Nikki…well played.
“Chocky” tells the story of a boy who has a mysterious imaginary friend with whom he frequently argues. As the boy’s father gets increasingly suspicious, it becomes clear that an alien entity has taken up residence in the boy’s consciousness. With Spielberg’s proclivity for exploring the darker aspects of childhood, the material is clearly in his wheelhouse.
Although the first film in a “Tintin” trilogy has lately been a priority for the director, that project hit a snag when Paramount’s potential financial partner, Universal, turned down a chance to put up half of the $130 million price tag.
Paramount has offered to foot the full bill, but that would be in exchange for certain undisclosed financial caveats that may be enough of a hitch to push Spielberg to another project. Of course, “Tintin” is motion-capture animation and “Chocky” would be live action, so Spielberg might try to do them simultaneously.
That title is just lovely.