18 items from 2008
The Los Angeles Times notes that the weekend was down 37 percent over last year -- when American Gangster and Bee Movie, in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively, brought in a combined $80 million-plus -- and that Friday’s ticket sales were particularly dire, what with Halloween falling on that day. I’d bet that Saturday, too, was far off a regular Saturday’s attendance -- I’m sure I wasn’t the only person at a Halloween party on Saturday night, instead of at the movies. It might have been only the holiday that prevented Kevin Smith from getting his best opening-weekend numbers ever: Zack and Miri opened just a smidge behind Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, which debuted to the tune of a little over $11 million in 2001. »
- MaryAnn Johanson
2 November 2008 10:00 AM, PST | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Talk about having to work harder just to keep ahead.
Disney's teens-and-tweens phenom "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" this weekend again topped the boxoffice class but marked a big 64% decline from its week-earlier opening grosses. The Zac Efron starrer registered an estimated $15 million sophomore session for a 10-day domestic cume of $61.8 million.
Halloween activities hurt all comers, inflicting even more pain than some distributors anticipated. Three films were tightly grouped around second place in preliminary rankings:
-- Lionsgate horror sequel "Saw V" saw a bloody 66% drop over its second weekend, to $10.1 million and a $45.8 million cume.
Elsewhere, Freestyle Releasing's PG-13 horror film "The Haunting of Holly Hartley" bowed with $6 million in fifth place. »
- By Carl DiOrio
28 October 2008 4:00 PM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Katzenberg declined to say Tuesday whether the company will replace Geffen with another director. With his departure effective Tuesday, there are 11 DWA directors.
Geffen co-founded DreamWorks Studios along with Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg 14 years ago and has been a DWA director since its inception.
"David will remain the guardian angel of DreamWorks Animation," Katzenberg said during a conference call with Wall Street analysts.
Meanwhile, DWA posted net income of $37.4 million in the third quarter, down from $47 million a year ago on the strength of "Shrek the Third." Revenue fell 6% to $151.5 million.
The results topped analysts' expectations. DWA shares rose 7% during Tuesday's powerful rally and were unchanged after hours.
"Kung Fu Panda" got the credit for DWA's out-performance. The Jack Black-voiced film has grossed more »
- By Paul Bond
Release Date: Oct. 6
Creator: Tina Fey
Studio: NBC Universal
One can only dream that behind-the-scenes goings on at sketch-comedy television shows match 30 Rock’s wackiness. Created by Tiny Fey, the series centers on head writer Liz Lemon (Fey), who must carry the show-within-the-show amid the antics of the talent (Tracy Morgan) and a crazy executive producer (Alec Baldwin). Cleverly dealing in meta-humor may account for 30 Rock’s critical success and slow ratings. For instance, Baldwin’s character introduces a ratings scheme called Seinfeld Vision, digitally inserting the comedian into NBC programs. Naturally, Seinfeld shows up to threaten the executive. That his appearance coincided with the release of his Bee Movie was a joke lost on those accusing opportunism. Such »
She has spoken to the masses on her daily talk-show for decades, and now Oprah Winfrey is set to lend her famous voice to an upcoming Disney animated film! The talk-show icon has been added to the cast of Disney’s, “The Princess and the Frog,” says The Hollywood Reporter. John Lasseter, who holds the chief creative office at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, announced Wednesday that Oprah will voice the role of Eudora, the main character’s mother. The film, which takes place in the French Quarter of New Orleans, is slated for a late 2009 release, says the paper. Winfrey has previously voiced other animated films, most recently for “Bee Movie.”
[Read full story on The Insider] »
The talk show queen will lend her voice to the character of Eudora, the mother of the main character Princess Tiana.
The film is set in the French Quarter of New Orleans and is slated for a 2009 release.
The media queen has previous experience in animated movies - she voiced the character of Judge Bumbleton in 2007's Bee Movie. »
Earlier today, FS.net attended a Walt Disney Studios Showcase preview where it was announced that Oprah Winfrey will lend her voice to the character of Eudora in Disney's return to hand animation titled The Princess and the Frog. Eudora is mother to the lead character, Princess Tiana, who will notably be the first African American Disney princess. Oprah has assumed other voice-over roles in the past, including Bee Movie's Judge Bumbleton. At the same Hollywood event, it was announced that Randy Newman would write a total of six songs for the film, including one called "Down in New Orleans." Newman, if you didn't know, is a legendary composer who has also written music for much of Pixar's line-up. Considering that New Orleans is my all-time favorite city, which is the setting of Princess, and that I have an odd fascination with frogs, I can honestly say that despite »
- Kevin Powers
24 September 2008 5:00 AM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
At a Disney presentation in Hollywood on Wednesday, John Lasseter, the chief creative office at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, said that Winfrey will play the character of Eudora, the mother of the main character Princess Tiana, voiced by Anika Noni Rose.
The film, set for release in late 2009, is set in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
Winfrey has lent her vocal talents to several other animated and fantasy films in the past: Most recently, she played Judge Bumbleton in "Bee Movie," and she also provided dialogue for Gussy the Goose in the live-action "Charlotte's Web."
- By Borys Kit
Edited by Anonymous
Dark Horse, July 2008, $19.99
Scrambled Ink is the latest in the recent flurry of comics anthologies by animators, following the high-profile and very successful Flight series (which recently hit its fifth volume) and the slightly newer but still popular Out of Picture (which had a second volume earlier this year). It was published quietly a few months back, and doesn’t seem to have made much of a stir.
And that’s a real shame, since Scrambled Ink is more inventive and ambitious than the most recent Flight and Out of Picture books put together. (And that despite Scrambled Ink being a physically smaller book with only six stories in it.) I’m not sure why that would be – Scrambled Ink comes from animators who worked on Bee Movie, not what one thinks of as an excitingly transgressive piece of cinema – but these DreamWorks animators are »
- Andrew Wheeler
29 July 2008 1:00 PM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Inspired by a fat and lazy cartoon bear, DreamWorks Animation exceeded second-quarter financial expectations and predicted that its hit film "Kung Fu Panda" will kick in even more money in the months to come.
But as huge as "Panda" is, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said there are still no firm plans for a sequel, blaming a delay on "the snowballing of the success of the film."
"We're not ready to say yes, but there's lots of enthusiasm" for a sequel, he told analysts Tuesday. He also called it "premature to push the button on it."
President and Cfo Lew Coleman said that if there is a "Panda" sequel, it would be a 2011 release.
Dwa earned $27.5 million in the quarter, down from $61.8 million a year ago when the biggest profits from "Shrek the Third" were rolling in. On a per-share-basis and excluding some items, Dwa earned 28 cents, about a nickel better than Wall Street expected.
Revenue fell from $222.5 million in the year-ago quarter to $140.8 million this time around, with "Panda" contributing $46.4 million.
The second-biggest contributor in the quarter was "Shrek the Third," which brought in $29.9 million, mostly via domestic pay TV. The title has shipped 20.3 million DVD units worldwide as of the quarter's end.
The financially disappointing "Bee Movie" was responsible for $25.5 million during the quarter. That film has shipped 7.1 million DVDs worldwide so far.
"Flushed Away" and "Over the Hedge" brought in $7.3 million and $5.4 million, respectively, and Dwa library titles contributed $21 million.
Katzenberg boasted that "Panda" is Dwa's most successful non-sequel since the company went public in 2004, and with international boxoffice receipts coming in it will be the primary driver of third-quarter earnings. He said "Panda" is already the most successful animated film of all time in China.
The movie is expected to be the primary contributor to the fourth quarter as well, courtesy of the "Panda" DVD release set for November.
Katzenberg also announced that executive chairman Roger Enrico will become non-executive chairman and that Coleman has extended his contract through 2011.
Dwa also said it has authorized a $150 million repurchase of stock after having already bought $88 million worth at an average price of $24 per share. Dwa shares closed Tuesday at $31.29.
And the company said it plans to spend $85 million during the next two years to expand its animation studio in Glendale, including beefing up its 3D capabilities.
Katzenberg said he expects as many as 3,000 3D screens for the March 2009 release of "Monsters vs. Aliens," and he's hoping moviegoers will pay a $5 premium per ticket. Asked who sets the price for a 3D movie ticket, he said, "It's complicated."
- By Paul Bond
By Stephen Saito
Usually when an actor or filmmaker reveals who inspired them in their creation of a character, it's the type of politically correct answer sure to offend no one. Johnny Depp had no problem explaining how he channeled Keith Richards for his role as Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean"; Dustin Hoffman sent up his pal, producer Robert Evans, in "Wag the Dog." But in a business where backbiting is common and screenwriters are urged to "write what you know," it's been a longstanding tradition to say the cruelest things about others under the guise of art. In a summer that will have Tom Cruise applying his considerable cackle to a Sumner Redstone surrogate in "Tropic Thunder" and a manscaping-derelict Bruce Willis doing his meanest Alec Baldwin impression in the adaptation of producer Art Linson's Hollywood tell-all, "What Just Happened?", we thought it was high time »
- Stephen Saito
The actor: Larry Miller, a venerable stand-up comedian, improviser, and character actor who can be counted upon to improve every film or television show he appears in. Since his breakthrough role as a store clerk in 1990's Pretty Woman, he's appeared in nearly a hundred movies and TV shows, including both Nutty Professors and Christopher Guest's Waiting For Guffman, Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration. He's also lent his voice to Dilbert, Bee Movie, and Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. He can currently be seen in Get Smart, and he recently appeared in National Lampoon's Senior Skip Day, which is out on DVD. A schedule of his stand-up appearances can be found at larrymillerhumor.com. Fame (1982)—"Emcee" Larry Miller: I'll tell you something that's pretty neat. It's not necessarily an edgy story. My parents were staying with me—I'd just moved out about a »
- Nathan Rabin
2 July 2008 7:00 AM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Whether using a split screen to keep the action going or recruiting celebrities to star in ad-sponsored micro-series, networks are continuing to experiment with ways to keep viewers tuned in during commercial breaks.
Tlc recently adopted a strategy for its series "Your Place or Mine?" that treated viewers to a glimpse of what was going on behind the scenes of the home-makeover game show with a "box inside the box" format during commercials. MTV this year partnered with Dove and Alicia Keys on a five-part micro-series that aired during breaks in "The Hills" and followed the lives of three young roommates in New York.
These are just the latest examples of networks trying to stop viewers from channel surfing or fast-forwarding through commercials on their DVRs, which are now in one out of every four U.S. homes.
"The networks and markets are trying to come up with strategies that are going to have their commercials seen by as many people as possible," said Brad Adgate, senior vp research at New York-based Horizon Media. "There are going to be a lot of innovative and different ideas."
Adgate argues that those networks that skew younger -- such as Fox, the CW and MTV -- are the most aggressive in this area because younger viewers tend to channel surf more. In fact, the CW has been playing around with its commercial breaks since it launched two years ago.
At launch, the network started airing content wraps, or fully sponsored mini-episodes that ran in place of national spots on certain nights. That was followed by the 10-second "CWickies." This season, the network is set to debut "CWingers," in which viewers see part of a story line on air but must visit the Web to see Part 2 before viewing the resolution on TV.
MTV executive vp marketing and multiplatform creative Tina Exarhos said it's not always easy marrying the advertisers' needs with viewers' interests.
"We can come up with an idea that the audience loves, but it has to deliver on the sponsor's objectives," she said.
Other MTV initiatives have included a partnership with Doritos for "When Spicy Meets Sweet," a micro-series that mirrored the network's dating shows and spotlighted a new chip flavor. Doritos was so pleased with the results, MTV senior vp integrated marketing Tim Rosta said, that it dedicated its entire media budget to launch the new flavor exclusively on MTV. For the 2008 MTV Movie Awards, the network partnered with Orbit gum to create a comedic skit that aired during an entire commercial pod.
As for the Dove/Keys series, Rosta said the retention around those "was nearly perfect" from "Hills" numbers and that brand recall was high.
"If it's great content, there will be viewer interest," Rosta said. "It doesn't matter if it's a commercial, promo or the program."
Other initiatives include airing a Chevy spot directly from the 2007 Video Music Awards' red carpet with Mary J. Blige and running live, behind-the-scenes footage from the "Hills" premiere party during commercial breaks.
For its part, Fox's initiatives have included eight-second animated vignettes surrounding a taxi driver named Oleg that were intended to intrigue viewers enough to stick around during breaks. Those debuted in April 2007, about a month before Nielsen Media Research began measuring commercial ratings.
Other networks are partnering with the film studios for shortform vignettes. Jerry Seinfeld was back on NBC in the fall, promoting his Paramount/DreamWorks film "Bee Movie" in what he called "live action trailers."
In March, Discovery Communications' Tlc aired so-called "hybrid ads" during the network's "Jon & Kate Plus 8" that served as promos for the series and the Fox film "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!" The network said that both nights in which the ad aired, the commercial +3 (C3) average ratings exceeded that of the live program with an average index of 102. And according to Iag Research, which measures "definite intent" to view the movie, the ads outperformed the overall "Horton" hybrid norms on broadcast and cable by 53%.
"This was fun and creative and fit so well with the show," Discovery Communications senior vp market research Beth Rockwood said.
The news networks long ago got in the game by running news crawls across the screen during commercial breaks but recently began doing so more consistently with the presidential election on the horizon.
Espn has been offering split-screen coverage of its Irl events, whereby the race action and commercials air side by side, and recently began slotting commercial breaks at the times it felt would be least intrusive to viewers. Espn, which actually sees 99.4% of its viewing live because of the nature of sporting events, also runs a crawl during commercial breaks in "Baseball Tonight" and "Espn News."
Another approach has consisted of mock commercials being created around show content that drive viewers to other platforms.
For "The Office," a spot that aired during a commercial break centered on paper company Dunder Mifflin, where the show is set, and invited people who "like paper" to apply for jobs. "Office" stars Steve Carell, Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski appeared in the spots, which directed viewers to a mock company Web site.
Similarly, "Lost" viewers have seen fake commercials for Oceanic Airlines (the airline whose plane crashed in the pilot) and the Hanso Foundation (a mysterious organization tied to the plot of the show). All were part of an interactive, multimedia game dubbed "The Lost Experience" intended to advance the story line between Seasons 2 and 3.
With all this, executives said the evolution of the commercial break is destined to continue.
"Even when you find more things that work, you still have to keep experimenting," Discovery's Rockwood said. "When something becomes the norm, it's not going to continue to work anyway." »
- By Kimberly Nordyke
No laughing matter: Jerry Seinfled's brakes failed – and his vintage car flipped over – in the Hamptons Saturday night. But the comedian walked away unscathed. The ex-Seinfeld star was driving solo at 7:40 p.m. when the brakes on his Italian sedan malfunctioned, East Hampton Town Police Chief Todd Sarris told the New York Post. The 53-year-old reportedly tried the emergency brake and – when that failed – swerved to keep the vehicle from careening into an intersection. The two-door, 1967 Fiat Btm flipped over before coming to a halt just yards from the highway, Sarris said, adding that Seinfeld's maneuver "probably avoided a very serious accident. »
- Caris Davis
21 January 2008 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
The PGA on Monday announced producers attached to previously announced nominees in feature film and TV categories.
The names had been withheld pending completion of the the PGA's accreditation process.
The accrediting review and a related appeal process is aimed at determining which producers "performed a majority of the producing functions from development through production and post production," officials said.
Winners will be announced at the 19th annual PGA awards, set for Feb. 2 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
A complete list of nominees follows:
The Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures:
Kathleen Kennedy, Jon Kilik
Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick, Russell Smith
Jennifer Fox, Kerry Orent, Sydney Pollack
No Country for Old Men (Miramax/Paramount Vantage)
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin
There Will Be Blood (Paramount Vantage/Miramax)
The Producers Guild of America Producer of the Year Award in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures
Bee Movie (DreamWorks Animation)
Jerry Seinfeld, Christina Steinberg
The Simpsons Movie (20th Century Fox)
The Producers Guild of America Producer of the Year Award in Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures
Body of War (Phil Donahue Productions/Mobilus Media)
Phil Donahue, Ellen Spiro
Irene Taylor Brodsky
Jim Brown, Michael Cohl, William Eigen
Sicko (The Weinstein Company)
Michael Moore, Meghan O'Hara
The David L. Wolper Producer of the Year Award in Long-Form Television
Joe Davola, Gordon Greisman, Bill Johnson, Mike Tollin
Clara George, Tom Thayer, Dick Wolf
High School Musical 2 (Disney Channel)
Bill Borden, Barry Rosenbush
Phillippa Giles, Diederick Santer
The Starter Wife (USA Network)
The Danny Thomas Producer of the Year Award In Episodic Television - Comedy
Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, Charles Hanson
30 Rock (NBC)
Robert Carlock, Tina Fey
The Norman Felton Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Television - Drama
Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers, Mark Gordon, Peter Horton, Rob Corn
David Shore, Katie Jacobs, Daniel Sackheim
The Sopranos (HBO)
David Chase, Brad Grey, Ilene S. »
15 January 2008 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Joining the George Clooney starrer are Miramax drama The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Fox Searchlight's quirky comedy Juno and a pair of Miramax/Paramount Vantage co-productions -- the Coen brothers-helmed thriller No Country for Old Men and the Daniel Day-Lewis starrer There Will Be Blood.
In a practice begun last year, the PGA withheld naming any of the producers on the nominated films until the guild completes its arbitration process on producer credits. That's expected to take a week to 10 days, a spokesman said.
Meanwhile, films missing from the PGA best pic noms include some that figured prominently in early noms from other kudos groups, such as Universal's period drama Atonement and Par Vantage's Into the Wild.
Winners in all categories will be announced at the 19th annual PGA Awards gala, set for Feb. »
- Congratulations are in order to a company that some thought would just be a footnote in the Weinstein family history. Miramax films have made some smart moves...and movies in 2007 and three films that they helped make are in contention for its top feature film award. An interesting footnote pointed out by Variety is that the PGA has diverged with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences -- which has 464 members in its producers branch -- in the last three years. The PGA selected “Little Miss Sunshine” last year while the Oscar went to “The Departed”; in 2006, the PGA chose “Brokeback Mountain” and the Acad went with “Crash”; in 2005, “The Aviator” won at the PGA while “Million Dollar Baby” took the Oscar. Winners will be awarded on Feb. 2. And the nominees are: Producer Of The Year Award In Theatrical Motion Pictures"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax »
Hot on the heels of the Golden Globe awards, the Producers Guild of America has announed its five contenders for its Best Picture award: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Juno, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, and There Will Be Blood. Four of the five films also previously received Directors Guild nominations (Juno was passed over for Into the Wild by the DGA), and all films received multiple Golden Globe nods. The last of the major guild awards, the PGA honors effectively put the kibosh on such hopeful Oscar contenders as Atonement, Charlie Wilson's War and Sweeney Todd, which received no love from the Directors Guild, the Screen Actors Guild or the Writers Guild. While the nominations from the guild aren't exact precursors for the Academy Awards, a majority of guild members are also Academy voters. Bee Movie, Ratatouille, and The Simpsons Movie were nominated for the PGA's animated film award, while Body of War, Hear and Now, Pete Seeger: The Power of Song, Sicko, and White Light/Black Rain are in competition for the documentary award. »
18 items from 2008
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