MoviePass: Star Wars: Episode VII changes course as Michael Arndt passes the screenwriting torch to J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan.
-FilmLedger: It was announced on StarWars.com today that producer-director J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan will be taking over the screenwriting responsibilities for Star Wars Episode VII. Michael Arndt worked on it for about a year and now as the production start date draws nearer, Abrams and Kasdan have taken the reins. Kasdan is a consultant on the project, having worked for Lucasfilm in the past as screenwriter of Raiders of the Lost Ark and co-screenwriter of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Production is set to begin at Pinewood Studios in London in the spring 2014. The expected release of the anticipated Star Wars sequel is in 2015.
-411mania: Al Norton: I have to open with the question everyone’s been waiting all summer for you answer…How ‘bout those Red Sox?!?!?!?
Ben Affleck: Obviously its very exciting. Its so strange to be in a world where the sox have a chance to win their third world series in ten years when I grew up in a Boston where even one seemed so remote. I will definitely take it though! It’s a fantastic thing for the great baseball fans here and a great source of pride for the city. Knock wood they can get it done. This is a very good Cardinals team.
Al Norton: I saw you on Jimmy Fallon and I have to agree with you; your work as Girth Brooks was deserving of recognition from Emmy voters.
Ben Affleck: Robbed for my Girth Brooks. What can I say? You win some and lose some.
Al Norton: Do you remember your first thought when the idea of you playing Batman was originally presented to you and was there a tipping point in your decision making process, a moment where you started to think, “I really want to do this”?
Ben Affleck: Initially I was reluctant as I felt I didn’t fit the traditional mold but once Zack showed me the concept, and that it would be both different from the great movies that Chris and Christian made but still in keeping with tradition I was excited. Doing something different and new is always tricky and part of the thrill and the risk is that initially it confounds expectations. The truth is, it’s the movie and the execution of it is what all the actors depend on and I believe in Zack’s vision.
Al Norton: Warner Brothers CEO Kevin Tsujihara recently said that this version of Batman would be “tired and weary and seasoned and been doing it for awhile”…Is that how you envisioned him as well and what would you add to the description on the Bruce Wayne side of things?
Ben Affleck: Yes, Kevin described it aptly. I don’t want to go further because I want to be able to capitalize on what is new about this iteration by having it be a surprise to the audience.
Al Norton: Who was your favorite Batman?
Ben Affleck: It has been done very well many times before.
Al Norton: Were you looking to get into television or was it simply that TV was the best milieu to tell the story of The Middle Man?
Ben Affleck: The Middle Man was an idea pitched by some guys I met while doing The Town. They had an interesting period take on the Winter Hill gang, and fictionalizing it for the sixties seemed really interesting. There is so much story to tell there that television is the only medium I think the story can work in.
Al Norton: I know that there is a lot of talk about how TV is THE medium right now for telling character driven stories - is that part of the appeal for you to jump into the series development arena the way you have the last few months?
Ben Affleck: Television is clearly the best place to see dramas now—probably for the first time ever. Studios don’t even bother making them much and both cable and broadcast have made huge investments in drama. Extremely talented people are all over television and its to all our benefits. I cast most of my movies from people on great television shows.
Al Norton: I am sure it must be tough to find time to keep up with series with your schedule but are there any shows you watch? Or perhaps a better question is, do you have a list of shows you really want to watch if you had the time?
Ben Affleck: Game of Thrones is my current obsession (dying for its return). Homeland is terrific. Downton Abbey is great. I read Damon Lindeloff’s pilot and know some people on the show. Its going to be amazing. There is an abundance of riches right now.
MoviePass: Looking at the Rotten Tomatoes reception of the two big movies out this weekend, The Counselor, only at 37% for critics and 53% for viewers, seems to be disappointing both parties given the all-star cast while Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is looking better with an impressive 82% positive user reviews vs. 63% among critics. If you see one (or both), tell us what you thought!
October has already been a record breaking month with Gravity passing the $300 million mark in the global box office. After its third weekend Gravity was still holding the #1 box office position leading audiences and industry professional alike to wonder, who will finally end Gravity's impressive box office reign? Last weekend's releases offered a cornucopia of cinematic experiences which may explain why no one movie was able to break through the pack. The appropriately timed Carrie failed to out gross Captain Phillips which also held its #2 position in the weekend box office for the second weekend in a row. Fan favorites Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn’t breach the top three with their action vehicle Escape Plan. It was also a light weekend for Oscar hopefuls The Fifth Estate and 12 Years A Slave. Can Ridley Scott’s star-packed thriller The Counselor or Jackass’ Bad Grandpa pull in enough audience members to claim the top slot or will one of last week’s releases make a comeback?
The Counselor (111 mins) Cormac McCarthy’s first original screenplay is directed by Ridley Scott in this thriller starring Michael Fassbender as the titular Counselor who finds himself in over his head after striking a deal with a drug cartel. Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt also star.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (92 mins) After inheriting his 8-year-old grandson, Irving Zisman begins an unusual journey across America. Starring Johnny Knoxville, the film follows Billy and Irving as they anger, shock, and confuse unsuspecting bystanders.
Moviepass: Variety reports that Fifty Shades of Grey has a new lead in Jamie Dornan after dropping ‘Sons of Anarchy’ star Charlie Hunnam.
Variety: Northern Irish actor Jamie Dornan has been tapped to replace Charlie Hunnam as Christian Grey in the Universal and Focus adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Dornan plays Sheriff Graham Humbert in ABC series “Once Upon a Time”; he’s also played a serial killer in BBC Two crime drama “The Fall,” and he appeared in Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette.” The 31-year-old thesp performs in an Irish folk duo and has modeled for Calvin Klein, Christian Dior and Armani. His modeling experience may be useful, as the part will require him to act in explicitly sexual scenes.
Dakota Johnson will co-star as Anastasia Steele, with Sam Taylor-Johnson on board to direct.
Universal and Focus Features declined to comment.
The project was hit with a huge curveball when Hunnam departed after being attached for just a month. Universal said Hunnam’s exit was due to scheduling issues with “Sons of Anarchy” and upcoming movie “Crimson Peak,” but some sources said battles over a rewrite and the actor’s doubts about the role may have played a part in his decision.
When Hunnam exited, U and Focus execs decided to go for more of a discovery and brought in Dornan and Billy Magnussen to test with Johnson last Friday. Though the studio considered bringing in more actors to test, as of Wednesday morning sources said no one else had been brought in.
Universal will now work quickly to land thesps for the remaining supporting roles that include Steele’s roommate Kate, a role for which U had already been testing actresses prior to Hunnam’s exit.
Michael De Luca is on to produce the adaptation of E.L. James’ sexy bestseller, which is set to bow Aug. 1, 2014.
MoviePass: FilmDistrict has released a featurette showing the physical transformations Josh Brolin went through to portray Joe Douchett in Spike Lee’s remake of Oldboy. The film releases November 27th!
MoviePass: Tom Hardy is set to portray Sir Elton John in biopic Rocketman.
Deadline: As Deadline reported in June when FilmDistrict paid $10 million to acquire U.S. rights to the Elton John film Rocketman, Tom Hardy has been set to play Captain Fantastic in the Michael Gracey-directed biographical musical film. The script is by Billy Elliot‘s Lee Hall. Gracey directed Fox’s upcoming The Greatest Showman On Earth starring Hugh Jackman, and Disney’s The Muppet Man. FilmDistrict bought it when the film was the talk of Cannes, where it was shopped by UTA, the agency that structured the financing. It was there that UK-based Icon’s production arm AI Film agreed to come aboard to co-finance the film with Rocket Pictures.
The deal went down before FilmDistrict’s Peter Schlessel too over Focus Features, the label which now has a high profile Tom Hardy film. ’s distribution company paying around a $10 million minimum guarantee for a guaranteed wide theatrical release and size-able P&A. There is also a generous gross corridor after the film recoups. The film follows John’s journey from 5-year old musical prodigy who by age 11 won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, to a young man who rebelled against his strict upbringing, wore outrageous costumes and became a global icon who teamed with songwriter Bernie Taupin to sell more records than just about any musical artist of his era. John’s musical catalog is part of the mix, so this is going to be a major film. Steve Hamilton Shaw and David Furnish are producing the project along with Lawrence Bender for AI Film. Sir Elton John and Access Industries’ Len Blavatnik are executive producing the film, along with Icon/AI Film CEO Aviv Giladi and FilmDistrict CEO Schlessel.
MoviePass: Stay classy, MoviePass subscribers, only 2 more months of waiting till San Diego’s manliest news team returns to the big screen. A new trailer for the Anchorman 2: the Legend Continues has been released in anticipation of the Christmas Day opening.
Even though Stephen Lang‘s Col. Miles Quaritch character seemed to have run his course in 20th Century Fox’s Avatar, director James Cameron has revealed that Lang is not only returning for the sequel, he’s going to be part of the next three films. It sounds like he’s the closest thing to a mix between Star Wars‘ Darth Vader and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator character. “Steven was so memorable in the first film, we’re privileged to have him back,” Cameron said. “I’m not going to say exactly how we’re bringing him back, but it’s a science fiction story, after all. His character will evolve into really unexpected places across the arc of our new three-film saga. I really look forward to working with such a gifted actor, who’s also become a good friend.”
Cameron has been working out brainy plot details throughout his career — how many times has the time travel concept from the original Terminator film been swiped over the years — so I’ll bet he’s come up with something thrilling. As for Lang, he’s been turning in memorable performances since going back to the Michael Mann TV series Crime Story and in character roles in films like White Irish Drinkers. Good on Lang, who’s repped by Innovative.
Deadline revealed that Cameron was going to shoot three movies one after the other, and that he had set War Of The Worlds scribe Josh Friedman to write one, Rise Of Planet Of The Apes’ Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver to write another and Salinger writer-director Shane Salerno to script the third in what is the most ambitious production schedule since Peter Jackson shot The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit trilogies in succession.
Box Office: ‘Gravity’ No. 1 Again With $31 Million; ‘Fifth Estate’ Flops With $1.7 Million
Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity and Paul Greengrass' adult drama Captain Phillips served up a one-two punch at the North American box office as they stayed at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, to beat a host of newcomers.
Gravity fell only 28 percent in its third weekend to $31 million, pushing its domestic total to $170.6 million and worldwide total to $284.8 million. Starring Tom Hanks, Captain Phillipslikewise impressed. The Sony pic dropped 33 percent to $17.3 million for a 10-day domestic total of $53.3 million.
Overseas, Warner Bros.’ Gravity also placed No. 1 for the third consecutive weekend, taking in $33.5 million from 51 markets and crossing the $100 million market for a foreign cume of $114.2 million.
Captain Phillips opened to a promising $9.1 million in 11 international markets, including a No. 1 finish in the U.K. with $5.6 million and ahead of other adult dramas including Argoand The Social Network.
Heading into the weekend, many box office observers believed Sony and MGM’s Carrie had a shot at crossing $20 million in its North American opening, but the remake topped out at $17 million to come in No. 3. The pic was fueled by females (54 percent) and moviegoers under the age of 25 (56 percent).
Directed by Kimberly Pierce,Carrie stars Chloe Grace Moretz in the title role oppositeJulianne Moore. MGM and Sony’s Screen Gems spent under $30 million to produce the horrorpic, which received a B- CinemaScore and opens more than three decades after Brian De Palma's original Carrie opened in theaters.
Sony’s three films — Captain Phillips, Carrie and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 — claimed spots No. 2 through No. 4 on the box office chart, with Cloudy 2's total domestic gross now at $93.1 million.
"It’s not a bad place to be," said Sony president of worldwide distribution Rory Bruer. "In regards toCarrie, it opened within our expectations, although maybe on the lower end. Overall, the picture was made very reasonably and it will be success for us.”
Coming in No. 5 was newcomer Escape Plan, the action pic hoping to capitalize on the teaming ofSylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But hopes were dashed as the movie only took in $9.8 million, marking another blow for Schwarzenegger’s campaign to resurrect his acting career.
Summit Entertainment and Emmett/Furla films partnered on Escape Plan, which cost north of $70 million before tax rebates. The pic, formerly titled The Tomb, received a B+ CinemaScore and was fueled by males (55 percent).
Escape Plan is doing marginally better overseas, where it has now earned $14.1 million from 34 territories. It opened No. 2 in Russia over the weekend with $3 million.
Bill Condon's adult thriller The Fifth Estate fared even worse in its North American launch, grossing an abysmal $1.7 million from 1,769 theaters to place No. 8. The movie — marking the worst debut of 2013 so far for a movie opening in more than 1,500 theaters — received a B CinemaScore, mirroring mixed reviews.
From DreamWorks and Participant Media, the $26 million film stars Benedict Cumberbatch asJulian Assange, the controversial founder of WikiLeaks. Insiders close to the project concede that Americans appear to have little interest in WikiLeaks or its founder. However, Fifth Estate is likewise struggling overseas, where it has only taken in $1.6 million so far.
In North America, Fifth Estate was even edged out by Nicole Holofcener's dramedy Enough Said, starring the late JamesGandolfini opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, which appeared back on the top 10 chart as it upped its theater count to 757 locations, grossing $1.8 million for a total $10.8 million.
Gravity's stellar box office run continues to impress box office observers. It remains a huge draw in 3D and in Imax, which has now delivered a total $38 million in total ticket sales. Over the weekend, Imax grosses clocked in at $7.4 million, the second best showing for a film in its third weekend afterAvatar.
MoviePass: The Hollywood Reporter takes an exclusive look at the Warner Bros warehouse where thousands of props, costumes, and documents spanning decades of Hollywood history are carefully curated by Leigh Adams.
The Hollywood Reporter: ”Welcome to Warner Bros.’ very own Batcave. The 128,000-square-foot facility, hidden in a faceless Sun Valley, Calif., corporate park, is home to the Warner Bros. Corporate Archive, which houses decades’ worth of costumes, props, scripts, correspondence, memos and animation art — almost anything to do with a Warners movie and, more recently, a Warners-made television show, is saved and stored here.
The man behind this chamber of secrets is Leith Adams. For the past 22 years as the Corporate Archive’s executive director and, for 14 years before, manager of the Warner Bros. Archive at USC, Adams and his team of eight have been collecting and preserving everything from letters between William Faulkner and Jack Warner to costumes from such movies asThe Matrix and, yes, The Adventures of Pluto Nash.
Adams visits active productions and looks for important objects that he deems worth saving, based on years of experience. About to gut a building on the lot? Call Leith. Tearing down a set? Call Leith.
But on Halloween, Adams, 66, will retire. “What he leaves behind is a culture that values our history; that values how we will be seen 100 years from now,” says Barry Meyer, Warners’ outgoing chairman. So on a crisp October day, as he prepared to hand the reins over to Barbara Hall, a 14-year veteran of the Academy, Adams invited THR inside his rarely seen vault.”