Last Jedi Targets Massive $425M Worldwide Box Office Debut

There is no question that Disney’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be be a massive box office hit, with analysts predicting a $200 million opening weekend at the domestic box office, but it’s shaping up to be an even bigger hit overseas as well. A new report reveals that Disney and LucasFilm are eyeing a roughly $225 million overseas opening weekend for a global opening weekend haul of $425 million. While that is far from the current record, it is among the top 5 of all time, and one of the biggest reasons it won’t contend for the record is that it won’t be opening in China right away.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens held the all-time global opening weekend record of $529 million, including the domestic record of $248 million and the overseas debut of $281 million, for a year and a half, until Universal’s The Fate of the Furious broke that record with an impressive $541.9 million, with 81.8% of that tally coming from overseas with an international opening weekend record of $443.2 million and a decent domestic debut of $93.8 million. If Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which is shaping up to be a critical hit as well with glowing Last Jedi reviews surfacing this morning, hits this projection, it will pass Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($422.5 million) as the fifth best global opening weekend of all time, falling just behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($483.2 million) in fourth place and Jurassic World ($525.5 million) in third place.

The biggest reason that The Fate of the Furious posted such a massive international opening weekend was due to its incredible $184.9 million opening weekend, the biggest debut in Chinese history, behind the $182.4 million debut of Furious 7. While Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($52.3 million opening, $124.1 million total) and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ($30 million debut, $69.4 million total) have fared well in China, both movies have opened in early January, and not at day-and-date with the rest of the world. The Last Jedi opens in several international markets on December 13 and 14 with its entire global rollout complete by December 15, with the exception of China, which won’t debut until January 5, 2018 in the Middle Kingdom. While this delay in China certainly won’t be disastrous, it will be interesting to see how its confirmed status as the longest Star Wars movie of all time will impact repeat viewing.

While Disney is certainly expecting both a critical and commercial hit with The Last Jedi, they are also mounting an Oscar campaign for Mark Hamill, for his performance as iconic Jedi Luke Skywalker. The studio is putting the movie in contention for all major awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, but it will be interesting to see if awards season voters will spark to this movie as much as the fans certainly have. While Star Wars movies are largely nominated on the technical side of the Oscars, Alec Guinness was nominated for his performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the very first Star Wars movie, so there is a precedent in place.

All of the studios as a whole are likely hoping that The Last Jedi opening weekend is huge, because it’s basically the last chance to turn around a truly bizarre year at the box office, since the year-to-date totals are currently 4% behind last year’s record-breaking domestic box office total of $11.4 billion, and a big opening weekend could help close the gap, along with the final wide releases of the year that are being spread out over December 20 (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, The Greatest Showman on Earth), December 22 (Downsizing, Pitch Perfect 3, Father Figures) and December 25 (All the Money in the World). The Hollywood Reporter broke the news on the global opening weekend projetion today.


Final Bright Trailer Drops Will Smith in a World Filled with Monsters

With just 10 days left until the new Netflix movie Bright debuts, a final trailer has been released with new footage. This climactic final trailer for Bright features a hot new single from Billboard’s “Breakthrough Artist” Camila Cabello and musical duo, Grey called “Crown.” This new song will also be included on Bright: The Album available on December 15th. Bright: The Album is produced by Atlantic Records and David Ayer, who were also behind the sensational soundtrack, Suicide Squad: The Album. This trailer begins with a scene showcased in a Bright clip from last week, which shows how Will Smith is not a fan of orc music.

Will Smith and Joel Edgerton take on a world of evil in the streets of Los Angeles for their highly-anticipated Netflix Film, Bright, directed by the Suicide Squad and Training Day‘s David Ayer. Bright captures the story of two LAPD police officers played by Smith (Officer Ward) and Edgerton (Officer Jakoby) fighting off orcs, fairies and one atomic blonde elf played by Noomi Rapace (Leila) to save the fantastical world as they know it. The unlikely pair must put aside their differences to protect Los Angeles from the lurking sinister forces of the underworld.

The trailer also gives us another look at one of the other pivotal characters, Tikka, played by Lucy Fry, who, as Jakoby reveals, has come across a “nuclear weapon that grants wishes.” It doesn’t take long for Will Smith’s Ward and Joel Edgerton’s Jakoby to realize that, if this weapon gets into the wrong hands, like Noomi Rapace’s nefarious character Leila, it could destroy the world as we know it. This trailer also illustrates how new Jakoby is to the police force, with a new scene where both Ward and Jakoby get shot at, with Ward asking if it’s the first time he’s been shot at, with Jakoby answering, “Yeah, I dislike it very much.”

The trailer also offers a new look at Jay Hernandez as another LAPD officer, revealing that he thought Ward was dead, to which he replies that he can’t be dead because he has, “too many bills to pay. The trailer also features along a very brief glimpse at another cop pairing, played by Edgar Ramirez and Happy Anderson, although it isn’t clear how they fit into the story quite yet. This movie marks a reunion for Will Smith, Jay Hernandez and director David Ayer, who all previously worked on last year’s Suicide Squad for Warner Bros.

The Netflix film stars Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry, Edgar Ramirez, Ike Barinholtz, Enrique Murciano, Jay Hernandez, Andrea Navedo, Veronica Ngo, Alex Meraz, Margaret Cho, Brad William Henke, Dawn Oliveri, and Kenneth Choi. The film is directed by David Ayer and written by Max Landis. David Ayer, Eric Newman, and Bryan Unkeless serve as producers. This movie made headlines last March when Netflix plunked down a whopping $90 million commitment for the production, including $3 million alone for Max Landis’ script, in an intense bidding war. Take a look at the new trailer below, courtesy of Netflix YouTube.

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Early Last Jedi Reviews Call It a Bold New Step for Star Wars

The review embargo for Star Wars: The Last Jedi has officially been lifted by Lucasfilm and much like the early fan reactions on social media, the critic first impressions have been overwhelmingly positive. The reviews mentioned ahead are spoiler free, but if you intend on going in completely blind, you may want to avoid reading any further. Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi is a sequel to J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens and the story begins right where the last movie left off and sets the groundwork for Abrams’ upcoming Episode IX.

Movieweb’s own Julian Roman praised The Last Jedi, declaring that it “shatters” fan theories and leaves us in a remarkable place. Roman also indicates that there’s a lot to take in for the first viewing, insinuating that repeat viewings may be in order. He had this to say.

“What you’ve pontificated, argued, and theorized about, is going to be shattered utterly. Rian Johnson takes the fabled lore from a galaxy far away into uncharted territory. He will have you spellbound. It’s a lot to comprehend at first blush, and there are a few down beats.”

Roman also went on to say that the movie “cuts no corners” in its storytelling, allowing a more complex narrative to shine. These thoughts are echoed in the majority of the early reviews for The Last Jedi.

Collider’s Matt Goldberg spoke about J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens walking familiar ground from the original Star Wars trilogy and went on to reveal that Rian Johnson went out of his way to avoid those pitfalls. Goldberg talks about the strengths, but also sees some weakness in the pacing. He explains.

“Although, like The Force Awakens, it takes more than a few beats from the Original Trilogy, Johnson feels eager to subvert our expectations, challenge the archetypes the series was founded on, and take bold steps to establishing a new concept of what a Star Wars movie can be while still feeling very much in line with previous films in the franchise. Although the movie suffers from a few pacing issues, they ultimately don’t detract from the film’s stunning craft and confident storytelling.”

There’s a lot of ground to cover in The Last Jedi, so it makes sense that there could be some pacing issues. Many find that the pacing and length of the movie are blamed on loose ends that were not explained in The Force Awakens.

Indie Wire’s Eric Kohn raves that The Last Jedi is the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back, which has been reiterated in other reviews as well as the early fan reaction. Many thought that the movie was going to borrow a lot from Empire, but that does not seem to be the case at all. If anything, The Last Jedi shares some darker tones, but nothing in the story is a direct link. Kohn had this to say.

“Under the fastidious guidance of writer-director Johnson, The Force Awakens turns the commercial restrictions of this behemoth into a Trojan horse for rapid-fire filmmaking trickery and narrative finesse. The result is the most satisfying entry in this bumpy franchise since The Empire Strikes Back in 1980.”

Ira Madison III from the Daily Beast also praised The Last Jedi, noting that she loved the Canto Bight scenes, which have come under fire from other critics. The Wrap’s Alonso Duralde also compared the movie to Empire while also calling it a lot of fun. He explains.

“If having pure fun at a Star Wars movie is wrong, I don’t want to be right. So for me, The Last Jedi falls right behind The Empire Strikes Back and maybe the original film in providing the thrills and the heartbreak, the heroism and villainy, and the romance and betrayal that makes these films such a treat even for those of us who can’t name all the planets or the alien species or even the Empire’s flunkies. (Sorry, the First Order’s flunkies.) And make no mistake: This is an entertaining chapter, but it also features loss and sacrifice and devastating consequences.”

All in all, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is receiving high praise and is even setting up an Oscar campaign for Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridely, but will it be able to live up to the expectations of the hardcore fans? That’s the real question, but it looks like it is, at the very least, a step in the right direction. Lucasfilm didn’t just hand over the reins to Rian Johnson for his own trilogy for nothing. You can read more reviews for The Last Jedi via Collider’s Twitter account.

The Force is strong with @rianjohnson’s thoughtful, subversive #TheLastJedi. @MattGoldberg reviews:

— Collider (@Collider) December 12, 2017


Highlander Remake Brings in Ant-Man 2 Writers

There can only be one. Or, in this case, two, when it comes to who is writing the screenplay for the upcoming Highlander reboot. It looks like Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari, the screenwriting duo behind Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, have been brought on board to write the script for the reboot. This project has been talked about for quite some time, but with some fresh writers on board, we may actually see it happen in the not-too-distant future.

According to a new report, Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari are currently writing Highlander, which doesn’t yet have a release date. It isn’t clear at the moment if they are writing an entirely new draft, or if they’re revising Noah Oppenheim’s (Jackie, The Maze Runner) version. The duo have been picking up heat lately, as they also have the upcoming thriller Die In a Gunfight in the way, in addition to their work with Marvel. As of now, Chad Stahelski of John Wick fame is still attached to direct the movie, but there’s no word on when production could begin as of yet. It still sounds like the studio is working things out behind-the-scenes and doesn’t want to pull the trigger until the time is right.

As of now, there’s no word on what direction this Highlander reboot will take and, since some new writers have come on board, anything that may have been rumored previously could be off the table. It also isn’t known who is going to star. At one point, Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) was attached to the lead role, but that was some time ago and he’s since become a very busy man. There were also reports that Dave Bautista of Guardians of the Galaxy was going to play the villain, but that hasn’t been confirmed either.

The original Highlander was released in 1986 and follows a Scottish swordsman who must battle his immortal counterpart so that he may become the sole member of this immortal and legendary line of men. Despite not being a huge box office hit, the movie has gained cult status and spawned four live-action sequels, in addition to an animated movie. The most recent was 2007′s Highlander: The Source. There has also been various novels, comic books and a short-lived animated series, in addition to the popular live-action Highlander show from the 90s.

Chad Stahelski is currently busy prepping John Wick: Chapter 3, which he’s expected to direct next summer. That means he’s going to be busy for a while, so this Highlander reboot, assuming Lionsgate still wants Stahelski to direct, probably wouldn’t start shooting until the beginning of 2019 at the absolute earliest. According to this new report from Omega Underground, there’s also a possibility that the Highlander reboot will be shooting in South Africa. We’ll be sure to keep you up to date as new details on the project are made available.


Disney and Fox Deal Expected to Be Announced This Thursday

It has been reported that the Disney and Fox merger is all set to be finalized this Thursday since Comcast has dropped out of the bidding war. This is big news and it will have ramifications beyond bringing the X-Men to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Some believe Fantastic Four isn’t even part of the deal. A lot of people are not excited about the merger and worry about how it could negatively impact the movie industry, but there’s not much anyone can do to stop the merger from happening now. Fox’s stock price has risen 1% and Disney’s has gone up a fraction this week since Comcast bailed out on Monday.

CNBC reportedly has a source very close to the merger deal and they claim that the deal is on the “glide path,” and that if everything goes according to plan, the deal will be finalized this Thursday with a press announcement, which would put it right in place with the reports from last week that revealed that the deal was close to being finalized. It has proven to be a heated battle, but in the end, the House of Mouse has finished on top, as expected. If the announcement does come through as predicted, Thursday could be a milestone day for Disney, which is also launching the eighth installment of the Star Wars franchise, The Last Jedi, with projections of a global debut weekend haul north of $400 million.

Speaking of Star Wars, this would give Disney the rights to the original, unaltered Star Wars trilogy, which many have asked for over the last two decades. It may be possible that a special edition might see the light of day, since Fox owning the rights was one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. The potential for the MCU to expand is now pretty much limitless, which has raised just as much excitement as it has questions. Deadpool in the Disney realm along with The Simpsons is a very interesting prospect that has creators and fans more than a little scared of what could happen to those properties.

Logan director James Mangold has thrown his opinion into the mix, claiming that the Fox and Disney merger could mean less movies. The director spoke at a recent Q&A about the subject where he revealed why he thinks it would mean less movies. Mangold had this to say.

“If they’re actually changing their mandate, if what they’re supposed to do alters, that would be sad to me because it just means less movies…The real thing that happens when you make a movie rated R, behind the scenes, is that the studio has to adjust to the reality that there will be no Happy Meals. There will be no action figures. The entire merchandising, cross-pollinating side of selling the movie to children is dead before you even start. And when that’s dead, it means you’re making a grown-up movie.”

James Mangold brings up an interesting point. There won’t be a dude in a Deadpool costume hanging out at Disneyland and they’re certainly won’t be any Cable and Deadpool Happy Meal toys to promote the movie, which is a major component to Disney’s business model.

It is unclear just what exactly Disney’s motives are for the merger, so worrying about merchandising and less movies isn’t really something to worry about at this time. That said, it’s hard to fathom that Disney will spend billions of dollars and not capitalize on the assets that Fox has already built in its storied history, including their successful R-rated projects. This is a developing story and more news is expected to drop soon, but in the meantime, head over to CNBC for more details.


Last Jedi Is Set to Break Records and Demolish the Box Office

For many fans, the entire year has been leading up to this very weekend, with Disney and LucasFilm’s highly-anticipated Star Wars: The Last Jedi hitting theaters. The movie is shaping up to pass the current records this year for opening weekend ($174.7 million), domestic gross ($504 million) and worldwide gross ($1.26 billion), which are all currently held by another Disney hit, Beauty and the Beast. Last month, The Last Jedi box office projections put the movie at just over $200 million for its opening weekend, and now with the hype even bigger than before, we’re putting The Last Jedi at $220.7 million.

While the $220.7 million mark is still more than enough to claim the top box office opening of 2017, it still falls $20.2 million short of the all-time record, $247.9 million set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While the full review embargo has yet to break, the Star Wars: The Last Jedi premiere reactions have been exceedingly positive, and it should join Star Wars: The Force Awakens (93% on Rotten Tomatoes) and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (85% on Rotten Tomatoes) as critical hits, while claiming the top spot at the box office for the third year in a row. The movie is expected to open in roughy 4,175 theaters this weekend, a slight increase from the 4,134 rollout of The Force Awakens and the 4,157 debut of Rogue One.

If this opening weekend hits these projections, then it also seems unlikely that Star Wars: The Last Jedi will break anther box office record set by The Force Awakens, the all time domestic mark of $936.6 million, which shattered the previous mark of $760.5 million set by James Cameron’s Avatar. It couldn’t surpass the $2.7 billion global record set by Avatar, or the $2.1 billion by James Cameron’s Titanic, finishing its run with $2.06 billion for third best of all time. As for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, to have a shot at contending with the all-time domestic and worldwide records, it would need both a record-breaking debut and some impressive longevity, which may be an issue since its the longest Star Wars movie ever, with the original Last Jedi cut coming in over 3 hours..

Even if it doesn’t break any box office records, The Last Jedi will still give a last-minute boost to the sagging box office, which has seen Coco win the last three weekends in a row, with hardly any new competition in theaters, as the competition cleared out to pave the way for this new adventure featuring Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker, who may be getting an Oscar campaign, Daisy Ridley’s Rey, John Boyega’s Finn and Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron. 20th Century Fox’s animated adventure Ferdinand, featuring a voice cast lead by WWE Superstar John Cena, is opening in roughly 3,600 theaters, and we’re predicting that it will debut in a far-distant second place with $20.6 million, which isn’t all that bad, considering its circumstances.

We’re predicting the top 10 will be rounded out by Coco ($9.1 million), Justice League ($5.1 million), Wonder ($4.2 million), The Disaster Artist ($3.4 million), Thor: Ragnarok ($3.1 million), Daddy’s Home 2 ($2.8 million), Murder on the Orient Express ($2.4 million) and Lady Bird ($1.9 million). Also arriving in limited release next weekend is Magnolia’s Permanent, Vertical Entertainment’s Beyond Skyline and Well Go USA’s The Thousand Faces Of Dunjia. Next weekend will be the final major weekend of the year, with Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and 20th Century Fox’s The Greatest Showman on Earth opening on Wednesday, December 20, Paramount’s Downsizing, Warner Bros.’ Father Figures and Universal’s Pitch Perfect 3 arriving on Friday, December 22 and Sony’s All the Money in the World, which replaced Christopher Plummer for Kevin Spacey at the last minute, the only wide release arriving on Christmas Day. Take a look at our top 10 projections for the weekend of December 15, and check back Sunday for the top 10 estimates, courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

1Star Wars: The Last Jedi
4Justice League
6The Disaster Artist
7Thor: Ragnarok
8Daddy’s Home 2
9Murder on the Orient Express
10Lady Bird


‘Detective Pikachu’ Gets Summer 2019 Release Date

Universal Pictures has pegged a May  10, 2019 release date for Legendary Entertainment’s Detective Pikachu, based on the popular Pokémon. The first live-action film based on the franchise is starring Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) and Kathryn Newton (Big Little Lies). Rob Letterman is directing. The film will bow on Mother’s Day and a week after an untitled Avengers’ movie from Disney.

Universal Pictures is handling all distribution outside of Japan wher Toho will distribute in Japan. Toho did the same for Legendary on reboot of Godzilla.

The Pokémon game and brand is one of those rare marketing phenomenons. It has sold 300M video games worldwide and 23.6 billion TCG cards are in 74 countries. It also launched an animated series spanning 20 seasons.


Saudi Arabia: Theater Owners Trade Group Has “Extensive Plans” For Kingdom’s Cinemas

UPDATE, WRITETHRUwith AMC weigh-in: The National Association of Theatre Owners has offered its praise to Saudi Arabia after the kingdom confirmed today that it would lift a 35-year ban on public cinemas. NATO also revealed that a delegation from the trade group led by President and CEO John Fithian has been in Riyadh during the past week meeting with various government officials in anticipation of the announcement.

Several NATO member companies have developed “extensive plans” for cinemas in the kingdom and “stand ready to develop luxurious and cutting-edge movie theaters for all Saudis to enjoy,” the org said.

It also noted that the NATO team played a role in getting the ball across the finish line in meetings with officials from Saudi’s General Entertainment Authority and the Ministry of Information. Fithian called it “an honor to play a small part in facilitating this historic decision.”

The government’s move had been expected as Deadline reported last month. An initiative to build and open cinemas was a focus of the Future Investment Initiative conference held in Riyadh in October and falls within the Vision 2030 program spearheaded by progressive Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud.

The kingdom’s cinemas were shuttered in 1982 after clerics persuaded the government to do so. New ones are expected to begin opening in March.

Vue International founder Tim Richards was one of the attendees of the Future Investment Initiative and told Deadline that Saudi Arabia looks like a very interesting opportunity. Indeed, the Middle East is a growing box office region and that 65%-70% Saudi’s population is under age 30. The kingdom’s first Comic-Con was held in Jeddah in February and attracted more than 10,000.

The kingdom’s General Commission for Audiovisual Media passed a resolution today allowing the authority to grant licenses to cinemas, and there are projected to be more than 300 by 2030, totaling 2,000-plus screens.

AMC Entertainment Holdings later added that it has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia to “explore a range of commercial opportunities for collaboration that will support the growth of the Kingdom’s entertainment sector.”

Fithian said today, “We are excited to witness the opening of the Saudi cinema market. Movies are one of the great shared pleasures that highlight our common humanity. The growing and young population of the kingdom is hungry for the cinematic experience. We anticipate that the Saudi market will grow quickly.”

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