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‘Mockingjay Part I’ Wings Way To $67.5M After 3-Days: Int’l Box Office Update

7 hours ago

Update Saturday Am Pt: With an estimated $55M at the domestic box office on Friday, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I fell about 22% shy of Catching Fire‘s $70.95M first day in 2013. However, the international rollout is providing some serious wind beneath Mockingjay‘s wings. It’s playing on 17,000 screens in 85 overseas markets, including key European and Latin American dates. It won’t hit China until 2015, but Asia has not been a massive bullseye for Katniss & Co over the course of the franchise. Still, even without China, and with Korea still entranced by Interstellar, Mockingjay‘s estimated three-day overseas total is $67.5M. In order to best Catching Fire first frame, where it played in 63 markets, Mockingjay will have to soar above $146M. That included $12.9M earned in China which was a day-and-date release last year. Below are updated figures from key territories since Wednesday’s kick-off; I’ll be »


- Nancy Tartaglione

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Charles Sipkins Exiting Sony As Corporate PR Head

21 November 2014 3:26 PM, PST

Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton just issued an internal notice that Svp Communications Charles Sipkins has resigned to pursue other opportunities. “We thank him for his contributions and wish him success in the future,” the memo said.

Sipkins, whom I always found to be an effective, stand up guy, came aboard in August 2013 after working with several media companies in his role at crisis PR firm Sard Verbinnen, including advising for Yahoo and Peter Chernin. He oversaw all aspects of the company’s corporate communications and the existing Spe team, and joined during that summer where Sony was in the news a lot as it fended off Third Point hedge fund CEO Daniel Loeb, who criticized the studio for poor box office performances from such titles as After Earth and White House Down among other things and wanted parent Sony to spin off its entertainment assets. Sony didn’t budge, »


- Mike Fleming Jr

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SAG Pension & Health Plan Whistleblower Craig Simmons Wasn’t First To Ring Alarms

21 November 2014 2:19 PM, PST

Exclusive: Fully two years before whistleblower Craig Simmons alerted the U.S. Department of Labor to alleged malfeasance at the $3 billion SAG Pension & Health Plans, fellow employee Gary Mathis made virtually identical allegations to the federal agency, Deadline has learned.

Mathis and Simmons both filed claims and wrongful-termination suits, with decidedly different outcomes. Mathis’ claims were rejected by an arbitrator, but Simmons’ claims went public, with coverage so intense it led to the resignation of Bruce Dow, the benefit plans’ longtime CEO. The Simmons arbitration resulted in a confidential settlement, and that Dol probe is ongoing.

Mathis says that while the investigation into his charges led to the subsequent inquiries, “I got nothing out of it,” he told Deadline, which has obtained the Labor Department complaint he filed in 2009 (read it here). “Craig reached out to me when he was going through his lawsuit, and I met with him and with the FBI. »


- David Robb

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Wme Signs ‘Starry Eyes’ Directing Duo

21 November 2014 2:13 PM, PST

Exclusive: Writing and directing partners Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer have signed with Wme as their dark thriller Starry Eyes continues to climb the iTunes charts. The partially crowdfunded indie about a wannabe Hollywood actress (Alexandra Essoe) who makes a demonic pact for fame debuted in select theaters and digital platforms last weekend via Dark Sky Films, which snapped up the pic after the film’s well-received debut at Austin’s South By Southwest this March.

SXSW is also where Widmyer and Kölsch started getting rep calls, signing with Aperture Entertainment manager Adam Goldworm shortly thereafter. The duo have been writing together since meeting as Long Island, NY teenagers almost 20 years ago and are currently scripting erotic thriller Geminia, which is positioned to be their next project after Starry Eyes. They’re also developing a large-scale sci-fi project called Bliss.

Here’s the trailer for Starry Eyes, which is currently »


- Jen Yamato

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‘Nsync’s Jc Chasez Cast In Topher Grace Movie Musical

21 November 2014 1:11 PM, PST

Exclusive: Topher Grace’s musical comedy One Shot has added another crooner to its cast. Singer-songwriter and record producer Jc Chasez, a founding member of the seminal boy band *Nsync, will join Grace and Taye Diggs in the film about a failed Broadway performer turned stage manager who must wrangle the eccentric cast and crew of a new play to save the show’s opening night.

Grace is starring as said stage manager in addition to producing the indie film, which shoots next month in Mexico City. Chasez will play Grace’s nemesis, the star of the musical play within the movie who sleeps with his ex-girlfriend. Isaac Rentz is directing from a script by Gerry De Leon and Greg Lisi. Daniel Posada and Jason Tamasco are also producing One Shot for Mexico-based Dark Factory Entertainment with Alex Garcia of Ag Studio.

Chasez dabbled in acting with guest starring roles »


- Jen Yamato

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Brenton Thwaites Boards ‘Pirates 5′ Ship For Disney

21 November 2014 12:32 PM, PST

We reported on Halloween that Brenton Thwaites was among  a handful of heartthrobs Disney was courting for the role of British soldier Henry in the fifth Pirates Of The Caribbean romp. Now the studio in is final negotiations with the young Aussie, who played Prince Philip in the studio’s Maleficent this year. The studio has set a July 7, 2017, release date for the next installment of the multibillion-dollar franchise starring Johnny Depp.

Thwaites has had a busy year, starring opposite Ewan McGregor in the crime thriller Son Of A Gun and with Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep in The Giver. He also starred in sci-fi thriller The Signal and Ride, the indie comedy from writer-director-star Helen Hunt  in that bowed at Afm. Thwaites also is set to topline Alex ProyasGods Of Egypt with Gerald Butler and Geoffrey Rush, which Lionsgate will release in February 2016. He is managed by Industry Entertainment. »


- The Deadline Team

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Finding The Kid Who Could Stand Up To Bill Murray: Ted Melfi On ‘St. Vincent’ At The Contenders

21 November 2014 11:36 AM, PST

St. Vincent writer/director/producer Ted Melfi talks with Pete Hammond at Deadline’s The Contenders event about, literally, first having to track down the notoriously elusive Bill Murray.

That task behind him, Melfi then had to find, as he puts it in this video shot at Deadline’s Oscar showcase The Contenders, a kid who could stand up to Bill Murray. It took 1,600 candidates to find ‘The Kid,’ Jaeden Lieberher.

Other stars of the comedy, which came out last month, include Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts and Chris O’Dowd. Other producers were Peter Chernin, Fred Roos and Jenno Topping. The Weinstein Company is handling distribution.

The film, which cost an estimated $13 million to make, has grossed almost $34 million since its Oct. 10 release.

Did you see the movie? What did you think? Let us know.

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- David Bloom

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‘Strange Magic’ Trailer: George Lucas’ Animated Fairy Tale

21 November 2014 11:23 AM, PST

The first trailer has dropped for Lucasfilm’s next project, animated fairy tale Strange Magic. Goblins, elves, fairies and imps collide, sparked by the battle over a powerful potion. Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Kristin Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph and Sam Palladio provide the voices and Gary Rydstrom directs and co-wrote the screenplay with David Berenbaum (Elf),and Irene Mecchi (Brave) based on a story by George Lucas. Strange Magic will be released January 23 via Touchstone Pictures.

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- The Deadline Team

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Millennium Entertainment Bolsters Digital With Amplify

21 November 2014 10:34 AM, PST

Millennium Entertainment continues to beef up it digital distribution capabilities with the acquisition of Amplify’s Los Angeles operation, the multi-platform distrib banner financed by Preferred Ventures and Digital Media investor Chris Kelly.

As part of the deal, Amplify’s Logan Mulvey, who has served as CEO for the past year, will serve as Millennium’s Svp of Digital Distribution, effective immediately. Along with Mulvey, Amplify’s La-based employees will be joining Millennium in various roles within marketing and digital distribution. Amplify will continue to operate exclusively from New York as a theatrical and digital content distribution company.

“Following our acquisition of Variance Films in March of this year, our goal has been to consolidate the digital and theatrical distribution operations of Amplify into New York. It was also important to us that those working in our La office find an opportunity that would allow them to remain in La. »


- The Deadline Team

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‘Hunger Games’ Box Office: Thursday’s $17M Start Kicks Off Arctic B.O. Weekend

21 November 2014 7:45 AM, PST

The Eastern seaboard’s deep freeze couldn’t keep away those Hunger Games fanatics determined to pay $17M in tribute to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, which began its pummeling of the box office competition Thursday night — though with less severity than its predecessors.

Despite a start more sluggish out of the gate than earlier Hunger Games installments, the third rendition of Lionsgate’s Ya juggernaut remains a social media phenom. The Jennifer Lawrence-starring series measured RelishMix’s biggest Internet crater yet for a film: the adaptation collected more than 602 million clicks on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, the largest tally on record for a movie. By comparison, the original Hunger Games collected nearly 375 million clicks across the social-media universe, while Catching Fire did almost 500 million.

The franchise, which has grossed $1.5B worldwide over two pics, has always been a late-night wonder, though this iteration was slightly chilled: Catching Fire »


- Scott Bowles

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Bill Cosby To Remain In ‘Painted Down’ Docu As It Seeks Distribution Deal

21 November 2014 7:40 AM, PST

Bill Cosby may have been dumped by everyone else amid allegations of sexual abuse, but documentary filmmaker Nonie Robinson is sticking by him. Cosby was one of many black actors she’s interviewed for her documentary Painted Down, which tells the little-known history of white stunt performers who were “painted down” to make them look black so that they could double for black actors. In his interview for the film, Cosby recounted how this was done to his white stuntman on the 1960s TV series I Spy. Robinson said that Cosby will stay in her film, which is still in production and seeking distribution – a task that may prove more difficult now that one of its stars has fallen from grace.

“It’s all very sad and I support Mr. Cosby, who has been nothing but generous, kind and a mentor to me working in this project,” she told Deadline. »


- David Robb

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‘Imitation Game’ No Pretender At UK Box Office

21 November 2014 6:05 AM, PST

The Imitation Game has played a huge part in reclaiming the priceless contribution made by Alan Turing during World War II, with Benedict Cumberbatch deservedly receiving strong notices for his performance as the brilliant and tragic scientist.

For a film that celebrates mathematical genius, it is perhaps fitting that some new analysis is revealing just how stellar its UK box office opening has been. Morten Tyldum’s film outperformed expectations with its eye-catching debut for Studio Canal at the UK box office — the first territory the film has been released in — with $4.2 million from 465 theatres and counting.

That starry opening is even more impressive considering it came out against strong holdover Interstellar, still holding on to the top spot. The Imitation Game achieved a very high 90% “definite recommend” from its core audience, according to exit poll figures. Its opening was 107% higher that that of Argo, 81% higher than Philomena and 26% higher »


- Ali Jaafar

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‘Everly’ Producers Eye Black List Action-Thriller ‘Dig’

20 November 2014 5:18 PM, PST

Exclusive: Vega, Baby!, the new production and finance outfit from Ricky Budhrani and Everly producer Adam Ripp, has optioned Black List 2013 genre script Dig, by scribe Adam Taylor Barker. The action-thriller set in the Appalachian Mountains tracks Sol, a tough-as-nails grave digger out for revenge after his father-in-law kidnaps his daughters.

Vega, Baby! opened up shop in August with backing from Singapore-based financiers and recently added an acquisitions and distribution arm, picking up horror pic Ghoul for release in 2015. The company is moving fast on Dig, packaging the project to shoot next year.

Ripp and Everly co-producer Brett Hedblom will produce for Vega, Baby! Productions with Andrew Deane of Industry Entertainment, and Andrew Pfeffer. Rizal Risjad, Ricky Budhrani and Michael Botti are executive producers. Vega, Baby!’s Everly, starring Salma Hayek was acquired by Radius-twc and is awaiting release. Barker is repped by ICM Partners, Industry Entertainment, and attorney Lev »


- Jen Yamato

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‘Reach Me,’ A Dozen More Reach Out To Specialty Film Audiences This Weekend

20 November 2014 4:17 PM, PST

A long time in the making, Reach Me, from filmmaker/actor John Herzfeld brings ‘positive thinking’ and ‘self-help’ to the big screen. It stars a bevy of Herzfeld’s actor friends and friends of friends, including Sylvester Stallone, Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Connolly.

The title is one of a dozen or so newcomers opening in limited release this weekend. Music Box’s Happy Valley and Kino Lorber’s Monk With A Camera are among Friday’s debuting documentaries.

Happy Valley, named after the area where Pennsylvania State University is located, dives into the child sexual-abuse scandal that rocked Penn State, while Monk looks at an unlikely ascetic who gave up life in the fast lane.

Kino Lorber also is launching Iranian Western Vampire pic A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, which it is releasing with Vice Films. The title, which was born out of a previous short film, debuted at Sundance in January. »


- Brian Brooks

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‘You’ll Be The Death Of Me’ Hooks Evan Katz As Director

20 November 2014 1:45 PM, PST

E.L. “Evan” Katz has signed on to direct You’ll Be The Death Of Me for Lionsgate. Todd Lieberman, David Hoberman and Alex Young at Mandeville are producing from a script by Mark Hammer. The comedy thriller follows two single New Yorkers whose budding romance is complicated by the attention of a masked knife-wielding psychopath. Katz is repped by Gersh, manager Jeremy Platt and attorney Kim Stenton. The director’s film Cheap Thrills, about a scheming couple who put a struggling family man and his old friend through a series of twisted dares one evening, bowed at SXSW and stars Pat Healy, David Koechner, Ethan Embry and Sara Paxton. Pic sold to Drafthouse Films, won the Audience Award and was the critic’s pick for Best First Feature.

Photo Credit: Randy Perry

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- Anthony D'Alessandro

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‘Pitch Perfect 2′ Trailer: Anna Kendrick & The Barden Bellas Are Back

20 November 2014 1:31 PM, PST

A new trailer has dropped for Pitch Perfect 2. Check out the Barden Bellas’ performance of Anna Kendrick’s hit “Cup” in the second installment of the musical which grossed more than $113 million worldwide. Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Rebel Wilson, Adam DeVine, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Alexis Knapp, and Ester Dean are all back for round 2. Elizabeth Banks-helmed Pitch Perfect 2 bows on May 15.

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- The Deadline Team

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Oscars: Live Action Shorts Shortlist Set

20 November 2014 12:37 PM, PST

Los Angeles, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 10 live action short films will advance in the voting process for the 87th Academy Awards®. One hundred forty-one pictures had originally qualified in the category.

The 10 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:

Aya,” Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis, directors (Chasis Films)

Baghdad Messi,” Sahim Omar Kalifa, director, and Kobe Van Steenberghe, producer (a team productions)

“Boogaloo and Graham,” Michael Lennox, director, and Ronan Blaney, writer (Out of Orbit)

“Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak),” Hu Wei, director, and Julien Féret, producer (Ama Productions)

Carry On,” Yatao Li, director (Rochester Institute of Technology)

“My Father’s Truck,” Maurício Osaki, director (Lupi Filmes)

Parvaneh,” Talkhon Hamzavi, director, and Stefan Eichenberger, producer (Zurich University of Arts)

The Phone Call,” Mat Kirkby, director, and James Lucas, writer (Rsa Films)

Slr,” Stephen Fingleton, »


- The Deadline Team

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Taye Diggs Joins Topher Grace Musical Comedy ‘One Shot’

20 November 2014 12:00 PM, PST

Topher Grace’s backstage musical comedy One Shot is getting a Broadway vet in Taye Diggs. The singer-actor has joined the cast of the indie film, about a failed star turned stage manager (Grace) who must wrangle the eccentric cast and crew of a new production to save the show’s opening night. Isaac Rentz is directing from a script by Gerry De Leon and Greg Lisi; Grace, who’s currently in theaters in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, is also producing.

Diggs will play Malcolm, a flamboyant member of the production. Diggs of course got his start originating the character of Benny in 1996′s Tony-winning Rent, a role he reprised in 2005 when the musical was adapted into a film by Sony and Chris Columbus. By then he was well into a film and TV career with How Stella Got Her Groove Back, The Wood, The Best Man, and a run »


- Jen Yamato

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Mel Gibson In Talks To Direct ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ With Andrew Garfield Starring In War Hero Pic

20 November 2014 10:26 AM, PST

Exclusive: Mel Gibson is in talks to take on directing duties on Hacksaw Ridge, based on the true story of Desmond T Doss, the first conscientious objector in U.S. history to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. Andrew Garfield is also in discussions to play the lead role.

Doss was a U.S. Army medic who served in World War II during the Battle of Okinawa and refused to kill. President Truman awarded him the Medal of Honor for saving so many lives.

This is not a done deal yet, and Deadline understands that talks are moving forward delicately and slowly. If Gibson does step back into the director’s chair, the subject matter would seem to suit his tastes to a tee. Throughout his career in front of and behind the camera, Gibson has shown an abiding fascination with protagonists prepared to suffer for their principles but ultimately prevailing over hardship. »


- Ali Jaafar

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‘The Theory Of Everything’: A Brief History Of Stephen and Jane Hawking At The Contenders

20 November 2014 10:18 AM, PST

The producers of The Theory of Everything – Anthony McCarten (also the screenwriter) and Lisa Bruce – talk in this video shot at Deadline’s The Contenders event about the years-long process of filming the love story of physicist Stephen Hawking and first wife Jane Hawking. Bruce also talks here with Deadline’s Pete Hammond about the strong female character at the film’s heart whose presence (and memoir) made this biopic unusual among so many Hollywood movies.

James Marsh directed the film, which stars Anthony Redmayne as Stephen and Felicity Jones as Jane. Other notable cast members include David Thewlis and Emily Watson. Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan also produced. The film, which debuted strongly in limited release two weeks ago, is distributed by Focus Features.

Have you seen the film? What did you think?

»


- David Bloom

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