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Open letter to Warner Bros. from ex-employee is brutally honest

13 August 2016 12:18 PM, PDT | Hitfix | See recent Hitfix news »

While most fans try to be supportive of Warner Bros. superhero films in the wake of critical failures (sometimes with ridiculous results), there are those who ask for more. And as a new open letter reveals, at least one of those people was inside the house. Posted on Pajiba.com, the open letter was titled "An Open Letter To Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara About Layoffs, Zack Snyder, and Donuts." An ex-employee used the pseudonym Gracie Law to admonish the studio and its head for their repeated failures with comic book movies and other franchises, as well as the effects those failures have had on people working at WB. "It is unfathomable to me that Warner Bros could mess up a movie starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and The Joker so completely. But that just had me flummoxed," they wrote. "A lot of fans might be angry (and rightfully so »

- Jill Pantozzi

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Wonder Woman Director Patty Jenkins Responds To Shady Open Letter To Warner Bros.

13 August 2016 11:36 AM, PDT | LatinoReview | See recent LatinoReview news »

Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins took to her official Twitter account to establish the truth to the open letter posted on Pajiba where a disgruntled Warner Bros. employee revealed the Wonder Woman film is a total "mess" while also calling out CEO Kevin Tsujihara and director Zack Snyder.  

Jenkins posted the following over the course of five tweets : 

"Woah, just saw this press about Ww having problems. Are they serious? This is some made up bs right here. Made up! Produce a source, anyone. You can’t because it’s entirely false. Don’t believe the hype people. Someone’s trying to spread some serious misinfo.

"Isn’t until you are intimately involved in these things that you realize how totally false these rumors can. Let me reassure you, Zero about the movie we are making has been called a mess by anyone in the know. Fact. 

"Real lasso of truth, »

- J.B. Casas

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Former WB Employee Calls Wonder Woman a Mess, Slams Zack Snyder

12 August 2016 2:17 PM, PDT | MovieWeb | See recent MovieWeb news »

It's no secret that many fans are having problems with Warner Bros. Lately, specifically because of their recent DC Comics adaptations like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. The studio has been having much larger troubles, as many of their recent movies haven't done very well. A former employee with some inside knowledge of the situation is very unhappy about it. She has published an open letter, absolutely railing against the executives at the studio, and revealing that Wonder Woman may also be a mess behind the scenes.

The letter was posted to the website Pajiba under the name Gracie Law, which is a reference to Kim Cattrall's character in Big Troulbe in Little China. The former employee claims that she has had the letter sitting around ever since Man of Steel came out, but Suicide Squad was what made her finally want to publish it. »

- MovieWeb

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Former Studio Employee’s Open Letter to Warner Brothers’ CEO Claims That Wonder Woman Is In Trouble

12 August 2016 1:17 PM, PDT | LatinoReview | See recent LatinoReview news »

Earlier today a former employee of the Warner Brothers Studio had an open letter posted to pajiba.com, and there’s really no way to sugar coat the message: the recent past, present and upcoming future are bleak.

Before going over what she had to say, maybe we should lay down some ground rules. First, obviously her comments and thoughts are negative towards Warner Bros, but let’s not turn this into a Marvel vs. DC argument.  Second, we can only assume that she is who she says she is, since a quick Google search for ‘Gracie Law’ brings up Kim Cattrall’s character from Big Trouble In Little China.  

Taking that into consideration, the comments made seem to ring true. The open letter begins with Law painting herself as a real company person while at WB, saying:

“I am a former Warner Bros employee. I have so much respect for your studio. »

- Kellvin Chavez

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‘Quarry’ Exclusive Trailer & Poster: A Vietnam Veteran Becomes a Contract Killer Upon Returning Home

10 August 2016 1:00 PM, PDT | Indiewire Television | See recent Indiewire Television news »

Cinemax has had great success with its recent run of original programming. First, there was Steven Soderbergh’s historical medical drama “The Knick,” which concluded its second season last year, and then supernatural horror series “Outcast,” which will conclude its debut season on August 12th. Now, the network is set to debut its new crime drama “Quarry,” loosely based on the series of novels by mystery writer Max Allan Collins.

Read More: ‘Quarry’ Trailer: Logan Marshall-Green Is a Wayward Vietnam Veteran in Cinemax’s Drama Series

The series follows Mac Conway (Logan Marshall-Green), a Marine who returns home to Memphis from Vietnam in 1972 and finds himself shunned by his family and demonized by the public. Alienated by his surroundings and other people, Conway becomes drawn into an underground network of contract killers that spans the length of the Mississippi River. The series also stars Jodi Balfour (“The Best Laid Plans »

- Vikram Murthi

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‘Quarry’ Exclusive Trailer & Poster: A Vietnam Veteran Becomes a Contract Killer Upon Returning Home

10 August 2016 1:00 PM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

Cinemax has had great success with its recent run of original programming. First, there was Steven Soderbergh’s historical medical drama “The Knick,” which concluded its second season last year, and then supernatural horror series “Outcast,” which will conclude its debut season on August 12th. Now, the network is set to debut its new crime drama “Quarry,” loosely based on the series of novels by mystery writer Max Allan Collins.

Read More: ‘Quarry’ Trailer: Logan Marshall-Green Is a Wayward Vietnam Veteran in Cinemax’s Drama Series

The series follows Mac Conway (Logan Marshall-Green), a Marine who returns home to Memphis from Vietnam in 1972 and finds himself shunned by his family and demonized by the public. Alienated by his surroundings and other people, Conway becomes drawn into an underground network of contract killers that spans the length of the Mississippi River. The series also stars Jodi Balfour (“The Best Laid Plans »

- Vikram Murthi

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Box Office: Can ‘Suicide Squad’ Survive Bad Reviews for Record-Breaking Weekend?

2 August 2016 1:00 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Well, at least it’s better than “Batman v Superman.”

The critics are weighing in on “Suicide Squad,” and based on the initial reactions, it’s a pretty emphatic thumbs down.  It’s still early, of course, so it’s possible that other reviewers could look more favorably on the story of a team of villains who are tasked with doing covert missions for the U.S. government.

 IndieWire’s David Ehrlich decried “Suicide Squad” as “mundane, milquetoast, and often mind-bogglingly stupid,”  the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips branded it a “headache of a movie,” and BuzzFeed’s Alison Willmore dismisses the picture as “frankly disastrous.” Needless to say, these are not the kind of notices you splash across a poster.

There were outliers, to be sure, such as USAToday’s Brian Truitt, who praised it as “excellently quirky,” and fanboy sites have been more positive.

Regardless of the frosty critical reception, »

- Brent Lang

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5 Celebrities with Unusual Hobbies

27 July 2016 10:24 PM, PDT | The Hollywood News | See recent The Hollywood News news »

Source: ign.com

Although most of us are judged by what we do for a living, our hobbies can sometimes be even more revealing about who we are and what we stand for. This is particularly true of public figures – while we often catch a very edited glimpse of our favorite celebrities on social media, the field or the silver screen, finding about what they enjoy doing in their downtime can give us completely different insights into their personalities. And these five celebrities have pastimes that might come as a particular surprise.

Tom Hanks

Source: Wikimedia

Hanks is one of America’s most beloved actors and a man of many talents. He has breathed life into characters as diverse as the loveable Forest in Forest Gump and the heroic yet modest Captain Sullenberger in forthcoming movie Sully. If you’ve seen his seminal movie Big, you already know that Hanks »

- The Hollywood News

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James Corden Forces Mila Kunis to Reveal Details About Ashton Kutcher's Penis

26 July 2016 6:50 AM, PDT | Popsugar.com | See recent Popsugar news »

James Corden has figured out the secret to getting even the most private A-list celebrities to reveal their deepest, darkest secrets on national television: threatening to make them consume the world's most disgusting foods and drinks. The late-night host did just that when he had Bad Moms costars Mila Kunis and Christina Applegate play the Spill Your Guts game when they stopped by on Monday night. When faced with drinking some clam juice, Mila chose to say whether husband Ashton Kutcher's manhood is more like a "carrot stick" or a "beer can." "I have to have one or the other?" she laughed. "Carrot stick. Beer cans are short. Oh, beer can, beer can . . . I was thinking short and stubby and long and thin. But like a Guinness." Although she avoided that round, the former That '70s Show star did end up eating cow tongue (she couldn't describe what Jupiter Ascending was about, »

- Quinn Keaney

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Will James Corden Name His Least Favorite Carpool? Or Eat [Spoiler]??

26 July 2016 4:38 AM, PDT | TVLine.com | See recent TVLine.com news »

The Late Late Show kicked off the week with an encore of “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts,” in which James Corden and Bad Mom guests Christina Applegate and Mila Kunis took turns answering very personal questions… or consuming unsavory food/drink.

And the stakes were only up-chucked upped by the fact that Applegate is a vegetarian, and some of the items were very much not. So just the idea of some of what’s placed before her has her looking green.

VideosMichelle Obama, Missy Elliott Join James Corden for Carpool Karaoke

In the video above, Kunis must »

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12 expensive and eccentric modern Hollywood movies

25 July 2016 8:02 AM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

Ryan Lambie Jul 26, 2016

They cost millions and they’re very, very odd. We take a look at 12 expensive and eccentric Hollywood films from the past 40 years...

The risk-averse nature of filmmaking means that the world’s more maverick and outrageous writers and directors have to make do with relatively low budgets. Nicolas Winding Refn drenched the screen in all kinds of sordid, violent and startling imagery in such films as Only God Forgives and this year’s The Neon Demon, but the combined budget of those probably didn’t even match the catering budget for something like Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice.

Every so often, though, a truly bonkers film slips through the Hollywood studio system - often by accident. From horror sequels to original sci-fi adventures, here are 12 incredibly expensive and gloriously eccentric Hollywood movies from the past 40 years.

The Exorcist II (1977)

Budget: $14 million

Like most films made for purely financial reasons, »

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Can Luc Besson’s ‘Valerian’ Succeed Where Recent Space Operas Have Failed?

22 July 2016 6:27 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

San Diego — As director Luc Besson and his wife Virginie Besson-Silla laid out in meticulous detail a vision for “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” — based on the French comic series “Valerian and Laureline” — their passion for the heavy genre material was certainly palpable. But it was difficult to ignore the specter of other attempted franchise launches from respected filmmakers that crashed on the rocks of “unproven intellectual property.”

Finding Dory” broke Andrew Stanton out of director jail after his 2012 Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation “John Carter” forced Disney to take a $200 million write-down. Warner Bros. took a hit on the titanically budgeted “Jupiter Ascending” last year from Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski, after holding it over from 2014 to delay the pain. Unless it’s tied to successful preexisting brands (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”), space opera just seems like a difficult sell these days. »

- Kristopher Tapley

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Sylvester Stallone denies involvement with female Expendables movie The ExpendaBelles

14 July 2016 8:55 AM, PDT | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

Way back in 2013, it was reported that a female Expendables spinoff – titled The ExpendaBelles – was in development, with Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde) signing on to direct and Sylvester Stallone and Avi Lerner said to be producing.

Well, it seems that Stallone wants it made clear that he’s not involved , with one of his reps telling Gossip.com that: “Sylvester Stallone has no involvement whatsoever in the Expendabelles project. Any and all reports that he plans to proceed with an all-female cast of the Expendables franchise are completely false and should be disregarded altogether.”

Original reports has suggested that The ExpendaBelles would film last year, while a host of actresses were said to be in contention, including the likes of Meryl Streep (Into the Woods), Cameron Diaz (Knight and Day) and Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil), Kate Beckinsale (Underworld), Naomi Watts (21 Grams), Marcia Gay Harden (Fifty Shades of Grey), Li Bingbing »

- Gary Collinson

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50 Box Office Bombs, From 47 Ronin to John Carter

13 July 2016 4:00 AM, PDT | E! Online | See recent E! Online news »

Hollywood isn't taking many chances these days. In an era of reboots and remakes, original movies like Columbia Pictures' Pixels, Walt Disney Pictures' Tomorrowland and Warner Bros. Pictures' Jupiter Ascending both underwhelmed critics and underperformed at the box office. Revamped properties aren't sure bets either, as Universal Pictures' R.I.P.D. and New Line Cinema's Jack the Giant Slayer proved. Millions were spent making those blockbusters. Add in marketing costs, and the losses increase exponentially. On paper, films like 47 Ronin and John Carter seemed like good ideas. And every executive dreams of being the one to green-light the next billion-dollar franchise, à la Pirates of »

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J.K. Rowling Has Already Penned Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them Sequel

3 July 2016 5:55 PM, PDT | We Got This Covered | See recent We Got This Covered news »

It’s no secret that Warner Bros. is keen to launch a new, very likely massive franchise with this fall’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – and who can blame them? The Harry Potter series is one of the biggest cinematic cash cows ever, and with supposedly certain tentpoles like Jupiter Ascending, Pan, In the Heart of the Sea, and even Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice coming up unexpectedly short at the box office, the studio is ready for a sure thing.

Recently, at the premiere of one of those aforementioned wobbly blockbusters (The Legend of Tarzan), it became clear that J.K. Rowling is equally committed to fleshing out Fantastic Beasts. According to director David Yates, who’s directing the first installment and potentially stepping into the director’s chair for follow-ups, the bestselling author has already written a script for the first sequel.

“She’s done the first one. »

- Isaac Feldberg

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Pixels gets a brutal Honest Trailer

22 June 2016 3:05 PM, PDT | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

Screen Junkies has released an Honest Trailer for last year’s sci-fi action comedy Pixels – a movie which proves that a fun premise, a good director and Peter Dinklage are still no match for Adam Sandler. Check it out here…

See Also: Was Pixels really that bad?

See Also: Watch previous Honest Trailers here

Pixels sees Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) directing a cast that includes Adam Sandler (Grown Ups 2), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Kevin James (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2), Jane Krakowski (30 Rock), Michelle Monaghan (Playing it Cool), Sean Bean (Jupiter Ascending), Josh Gad (Frozen) and Brian Cox (The Bourne Identity).


- Gary Collinson

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Gods of Egypt review – bizarre fantasy loses its way among the digital crowds

16 June 2016 3:00 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Alex Proyas’s pec-strewn ancient vision powers up with absurdity then falls to earth with flimsiness

The Wachowskis’ barking sci-fi adventure Jupiter Ascending recently showed that there is still a market for a folie de grandeur B-movie ready to high jump over the top, powered upwards by its own silliness. Alex Proyas’s bizarre fantasy of ancient Egypt is another such – or almost – flimsy contraption of digital crowd scenes, actors in singlets revealing pecs and thighs and very, very ridiculous ancient-Egyptian-god-type hats. It’s initially fuelled with its own absurdity, like an ecologically unsafe type of diesel. But there is a falling off after half an hour or so. Geoffrey Rush is in it, playing the Sun God Ra, and on the arrival of a visitor at what appears to be his Fortress of Solitude in space, he says crisply: “When a bird lands on my boat I kill it before it can shit” – a skill he is not called upon to prove. Down in the mortal world, the treacherous god-king Set (Gerald Butler) usurps his brother Osiris (Bryan Brown) and rightful heir to the throne Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in front of a stunned crowd at the coronation, and begins an illegitimate rule. But cheeky young mortal Bek (Brenton Thwaites) may be the guy to restore Horus to his rightful place. The camera position occasionally reveals some Hobbity height-disparity between gods and humans.

Continue reading »

- Peter Bradshaw

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Warner Bros, and its disastrous movie summer of 1997

13 June 2016 2:21 PM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »




Warner Bros has struggled with its blockbusters of late. But back in summer 1997 - Batman & Robin's year - it faced not dissimilar problems.

Earlier this year it was revealed that Warner Bros, following a string of costly movies that hadn’t hit box office gold (Pan, Jupiter Ascending, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., In The Heart Of The Sea), was restructuring its blockbuster movie business. Fewer films, fewer risks, more franchises, and more centering around movie universes seems to be the new approach, and the appointment of a new corporate team to oversee the Harry Potter franchise last week was one part of that.

In some ways, it marks the end of an era. Whilst it retains its relationships with key directing talent (Ben Affleck, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Nolan for instance), Warner Bros was, for the bulk of the 1990s in particular, the studio that the others were trying to mimic. It worked with the same stars and filmmakers time and time again, and under then-chiefs Terry Semel and Robert Daly, relationships with key talent were paramount.

Furthermore, the studio knew to leave that talent to do its job, and was also ahead of the pack in developing franchises that it could rely on to give it a string of hits.

However, whilst Warner Bros is having troubles now, its way of doing business was first seriously challenged by the failure of its slate in the summer of 1997. Once again, it seemed to have a line up to cherish, that others were envious of. But as film by film failed to click, every facet of Warner Bros’ blockbuster strategy suddenly came under scrutiny, and would ultimately fairly dramatically change. Just two summers later, the studio released The Matrix, and blockbuster cinema changed again.

But come the start of summer 1997? These are the movies that Warner Bros had lined up, and this is what happened…

February - National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation

Things actually had got off to a decent enough start for the studio earlier in the year, so it's worth kicking off there. It brought Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo back together, for the fourth National Lampoon movie, and the first since 1989’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Interestingly, it dropped the National Lampoon moniker in the Us, and instead released the eventual movie as Vegas Vacation. It was a belated sequel, back when belated sequels weren’t that big a thing.

The film was quickly pulled apart by reviewers, but it still just about clawed a profit. The production budget of $25m was eclipsed by the Us gross of $36m, and the movie would do comfortable business on video/DVD. Not a massive hit, then, but hardly a project that had a sense of foreboding about it.

Yet the problems were not far away.

May – Father's Day

Warner Bros had a mix of movies released in the Us in March and April 1997, including modest Wesley Snipes-headlined thriller Murder At 1600, and family flick Shiloh. But it launched its summer season with Father’s Day, an expensive packaged comedy from director Ivan Reitman, starring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. It had hit written all over it.

Father’s Day was one of the movies packaged by the CAA agency, and its then-head, Mike Ovitz (listed regularly by Premiere magazine in the 1990s as one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, if not the most powerful man). That he brought together the stars, the director and the project, gave a studio a price tag, and the studio duly paid it. Given Warner Bros’ devotion to star talent (Mel Gibson, then one of the biggest movie stars in the world, and a major Warner Bros talent, was persuaded to film a cameo), it was a natural home for the film. It quickly did the deal. few questions asked.

That package, and CAA’s fees for putting it together, brought the budget for a fairly straightforward comedy to a then-staggering $85m. The problem, though, was that the film simply wasn’t very good. It’s one of those projects that looks great on paper, less great when exposed on a great big screen. Warner Bros has snapped it up, without - it seems - even properly reading the script. 

Premiere magazine quoted a Warner Bros insider back in November 1997 as saying “when [CAA] calls and says ‘we have a package, Father’s Day, with Williams and Crystal and Reitman, we say ‘great’”, adding “we don’t scrutinise the production. When we saw the movie, it took the wind out of us. We kept reshooting and enhancing, but you can’t fix something that’s bad”.

And it was bad.

The movie would prove to be the first big misfire of the summer, grossing just $35m in the Us, and not adding a fat lot more elsewhere in the world. Warner Bros’ first film of the summer was a certified flop. More would soon follow.

May - Addicted To Love

A more modestly priced project was Addicted To Love, a romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Matthew Broderick. Just over a year later, Warner Bros would hit big when Meg Ryan reunited with Tom Hanks for Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail. But here? The film was a modest success, at best.

Directed by Griffin Dunne (making his directorial debut), and put together in partnership with Miramax, Addicted To Love was based around the Robert Palmer song of the same name. But whilst it was sold as a romcom, the muddled final cut was actually a fair bit darker. There was an underlying nastiness to some moments in the film, and when the final box office was tallied, it came in lower than the usual returns for pictures from Ryan or Broderick. Counter-programming it against the release of The Lost World: Jurassic Park didn’t massively help in this instance either, especially as the Jurassic Park sequel would smash opening weekend records.

Addicted To Love ended up with $34.6m at the Us box office. It would eke out a small profit.

June - Batman & Robin

And this is when the alarm bells started to ring very, very loudly. Summer 1997 was supposed to be about a trio of sure-fire hit sequels: Batman 4, Jurassic Park 2 and Speed 2. Only one of those would ultimately bring home the box office bacon, the others being destroyed by critics, and ultimately leaving far more empty seats than anticipated in multiplexes.

Batman & Robin, it’s easy to forget, came off the back of 1995’s Joel Schumacher-steered Batman reboot, Batman Forever that year's biggest movie). It had one of the fastest-growing stars in the world in the Batsuit (George Clooney), and the McDonald’s deals were signed even before the script was typed up. You don’t need us to tell you that you could tell, something of a theme already in Warner Bros' summer of '97.

That said, Batman & Robin still gave Warner Bros a big opening, but in the infancy of the internet as we know it, poisonous word of mouth was already beginning to spread. The film’s negative cost Warner Bros up to $140m, before marketing and distribution costs, and it opened in the Us to a hardly-sniffy $42m of business (although that was down from previous Batman movies).

But that word of mouth still accelerated its departure from cinemas. It was then very rare for a film to make over 40% of its Us gross in its first weekend. But that’s just what Batman & Robin did, taking $107.3m in America, part of a worldwide total of $238.2m. This was the worst return for a Batman movie to date, and Warner Bros had to swiftly put the brakes on plans to get Batman Triumphant moving.

It would be eight years until Batman returned to the big screen, in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. Warner Bros would undergo big changes in the intervening period.

As for the immediate aftermath of Batman & Robin? Warner Bros co-chief Robert Daly would note at the end of '97 that “we’d have been better off with more action in the picture. The movie had to service too many characters”, adding that “the next Batman we do, in three years – and we have a deal with George Clooney to do it – will have one villain”.

Fortunately, Warner Bros’ one solid hit of the summer was just around the corner…

July - Contact

And breathe out.

Warner Bros bet heavily again on expensive talent here, with Robert Zemeckis bringing his adaptation of Carl Sagan’s Contact to the studio for his first film post-Forrest Gump. Warner Bros duly footed the $90m bill (back when that was still seen as a lot of money for a movie), a good chunk of which went to Jodie Foster. It invested heavily in special effects, and gave Zemeckis licence to make the film that he wanted.

The studio was rewarded with the most intelligent and arguably the best blockbuster of the summer. I’ve looked back at Contact in a lot more detail here, and it remains a fascinating film that’s stood the test of time (and arguably influenced Christopher Nolan’s more recent Interstellar).

Reviews were strong, it looked terrific, and the initial box office was good.

But then the problem hit. For whilst Contact was a solid hit for Warner Bros, it wasn’t a massively profitable one. Had Father’s Day and Batman & Robin shouldered the box office load there were supposed to, it perhaps wouldn’t have been a problem. But when they failed to take off, the pressure shifted to Contact.

The movie would gross $100.9m in the Us, and add another $70m overseas (this being an era were international box office rarely had the importance it has today). But once Warner Bros had paid its bills, there wasn’t a fat lot over for itself. Fortunately, the film still sells on disc and on-demand. Yet it wasn’t to be the massive hit the studio needed back in 1997.

July - One Eight Seven

From director Kevin Reynolds, the man who helmed Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves and Waterworld, came modestly-priced drama 187, starring Samuel L Jackson (in a strong performance). Warner Bros wouldn’t have had massive box office expectations for the film (although it can't have been unaware that the inspirational teacher sub-genre was always worth a few quid), and it shared production duties on the $20m movie with Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions. But still, it would have had its eye on a modest success. What it got in return was red ink.

The film’s not a bad one, and certainly worth seeking out. But poor reviews gave the film an uphill struggle from the off – smaller productions arriving mid-summer really needed critics on their side, as they arguably still do – and it opened to just $2.2m of business (the less edgy, Michelle Pfeiffer-headlined school drama Dangerous Minds had been a surprise hit not two years before).

By the time its run was done, 187 hadn’t even come close to covering its production costs, with just under $6m banked.

Warner Bros’ summer slate was running out of films. But at least it had one of its most reliable movie stars around the corner…

August - Conspiracy Theory

What could go wrong? Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts were two of the biggest movie stars in the world in 1997, at a time when movie stars still equated to box office gold. Director Richard Donner, one of Warner Bros’ favourite directors, had delivered the Lethal Weapons, Maverick, Superman, The Goonies and more for the studio. Put them altogether, with Patrick Stewart (coming to wider public consciousness at the time off the back of his Star Trek: The Next Generation work) as a villain, and it should have been a big hit.

Conspiracy Theory proved to be one of the more ambitious summer blockbusters of the era. It lacks a good first act, which would be really useful in actually setting up more of what’s going on. But Gibson played an edgy cab driver who believes in deep government conspiracies, and finds himself getting closer to the truth than those around him sometimes give him credit for.

Warner Bros was probably expecting another Lethal Weapon with the reunion of Gibson (who had to be persuaded to take Conspiracy Theory on) and Donner (it’s pretty much what it got with the hugely enjoyable Maverick a few years’ earlier), but instead it got a darker drama, with an uneasy central character that didn’t exactly play to the summer box office crowd.

The bigger problem, though, was that the film never quite worked as well as you might hope. Yet star power did have advantages. While no juggernaut, the film did decent business, grossing $137m worldwide off the back of an $80m budget ($40m of which was spent on the salaries for the talent before a single roll of film was loaded into a camera). That said, in the Us it knocked a genuine smash hit, Air Force One, off the top spot. Mind you in hindsight, that was probably the film that the studio wished it had made (the cockpit set of Warner Bros' own Executive Decision was repurposed for Air Force One, fact fans).

Still: Warner Bros did get Lethal Weapon 4 off Gibson and Donner a year later…

August - Free Willy 3: The Rescue


Warner Bros opened its third Free Willy film on the same day as Conspiracy Theory (can you imagine a studio opening two big films on the same day now), but it was clear that this was a franchise long past its best days (and its best days hardly bring back the fondest of memories).

Still, Free Willy movies were relatively modest in cost to put together, and Warner Bros presumably felt this was a simple cashpoint project. But in a year when lots of family movies did less business than expected (Disney’s Hercules, Fox’s Home Alone 3, Disney’s Mr Magoo), Free Willy 3 barely troubled the box office. It took in just over $3m in total, and Willy would not be seen on the inside of a cinema again.

August - Steel

Not much was expected from Steel, a superhero movie headlined by Shaquille O’Neal. Which was fortunate, because not much was had.

It had a mid-August release date in the Us, at a point when a mid-August release date was more of a dumping ground than anything else. And even though the budget was set at a relatively low $16m, the film – and it’s an overused time – pretty much bombed. It took $1.7m at the Us box office, and given that its appeal hinged on a major American sports star whose fame hardly transcended the globe, its international takings did not save it (it went straight to video in many territories).

It was a miserable end to what, for warner bros, had been a thoroughly miserable summer.

So what did hit big in summer 1997?

Summer 1997 was infamous for big films failing to take off in the way that had been expected – Hercules, Speed 2, and the aforementioned Warner Bros movies – but there were several bright spots. The big winner would be Barry Sonnenfeld’s light and sprightly sci-fi comedy Men In Black, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Star power too helped score big hits for Harrison Ford (Air Force One), Julia Roberts (My Best Friend’s Wedding) and John Travolta (Face/Off).

This was also the summer that Nicolas Cage cemented his action movie credentials with Face/Off and Con Air. Crucially, though, the star movies that hit were the ones that veered on the side of 'good'. For the first of many years, the internet was blamed for this.

Oh, and later in the year, incidentally, Titanic would redefine just what constituted a box office hit...

What came next for Warner Bros?

In the rest of 1997, Warner Bros had a mix of projects that again enjoyed mixed fortunes. The standout was Curtis Hanson’s stunning adaptation of L.A. Confidential, that also proved to be a surprise box office success. The Devil’s Advocate didn’t do too badly either.

However, two of the studio’s key filmmakers failed to really deliver come the end of 1997. Clint Eastwood’s Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil failed to ignite (although many felt he was always on a hiding to nothing in trying to adapt that for the screen), and Kevin Costner’s The Postman would prove arguably the most expensive box office disappointment of the year. No wonder the studio rushed Lethal Weapon 4 into production for summer 1998. Oh, and it had The Avengers underway too (not that one), that would prove to be a 1998 disappointment.

The studio would eventually take action. The Daly-Semel management team, that had reigned for 15 years, would break up at the end of 1999, as its traditional way of doing business became less successful. The pair had already future projects that were director driven to an extent (Eyes Wide Shut), and it would still invest in movies with stars (Wild Wild West). But the immediate plan of action following the disappointment of summer 1997 – to get Batman 5 and Superman Lives made – would falter. It wouldn’t be until 1999’s The Matrix (a film that Daly and Semel struggled to get) and – crucially – 2001’s Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone that the studio would really get its swagger back...

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Warner Bros. Extends Worldwide Marketing and Distribution Chief Sue Kroll’s Contract

6 June 2016 3:45 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Warner Bros. has signed worldwide marketing and distribution president Sue Kroll to a new multi-year contract, Variety has learned.

The move is described by insiders as a sign of confidence in Kroll’s abilities by Warner Bros. chairman Kevin Tsujihara. Kroll’s future has been a subject of speculation in recent months, as Warner Bros. suffered a series of box office misfires such as “Pan,” “Jupiter Ascending” and “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” Last spring’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” grossed $872.2 million globally, but some analysts were disappointed it failed to hit $1 billion.

Going forward, the studio has high hopes for “Suicide Squad,” a comic-book adaptation with Will Smith, and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” a Harry Potter spinoff. However, “The Legend of Tarzan,” a new version of the Ape-Man saga, is facing fierce commercial headwinds. It opens in July.

Kroll has been with the company for 22 years. »

- Brent Lang

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Exclusive Pride + Prejudice + Zombies Deleted Scene – “Pemberley Cutdown”

31 May 2016 6:08 PM, PDT | iconsoffright.com | See recent Icons of Fright news »

Pride +Prejudice+Zombies hit Bluray/DVD/Digital HD and 4K today, and thanks to the gang over at Sony, we’ve got an exclusive deleted scene from the Jane Austen/Zombie hybrid film. Along with the clip, we were also sent a little bit of makeup and blood, so naturally my daughter wanted to see what she could pull off on me. Check out the clip below and be sure to check this one out, it’s a fun flick!

Based on the best-selling novel by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen, the Bennett sisters and Mr. Darcy must unite to fight a zombie outbreak that has taken over 19th century England.

Lily James (Cinderella) leads an ensemble cast featuring Sam Riley (Maleficent), Jack Huston (The Longest Ride), Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows), Douglas Booth (Jupiter Ascending), Matt Smith (“Dr. Who”), Charles Dance (“Game of Thrones”).


- Jerry Smith

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