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‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′ Enjoys Fifth Highest Industry Debut for an Animated Film in Russia

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Bart & Fleming: Selling Summer Sleepers Like ‘The Fault In Our Stars,’ ‘Jersey Boys’ ‘Begin Again’ And ‘Boyhood’

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FlemingBartColumn_badge__140510005503Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr. worked together for two decades at Daily Variety. In this weekly Sunday column, two old friends get together and grind their axes on the movie business.

faultinFleming: The success that Elizabeth Gabler’s Fox 2000 had with The Fault In Our Stars has me entertaining the unthinkable. Is it possible that between the giant lizards, robots and superheroes that populate studio tentpoles, there is room for thoughtful sleeper films in the summer? The Fault In Our Stars might be the most stirring summer sleeper success I can remember since 1990’s Ghost, another movie about loss. The Fault In Our Stars was particularly sad, young teens facing their mortality because of cancer, struggling to seize life while they can, and helpless parents who’ll never recover from outliving their kids. By the way, the big star is John Green, writer of the book. How’s that for a blockbuster formula in an escapist summer season? Next up is Jersey Boys, where the starpower comes solely from director Clint Eastwood and Frankie Valli’s famous falsetto!

jerseyboysBart: If John Green is unexpectedly the Man of the Moment, Clint Eastwood has every right to wonder how some of that zeitgeist can be transferred to Jersey Boys. Clint’s new film, out June 20, is not tracking well and his rather melancholy take on the brash musical hit has elicited mixed reactions from screening audiences. But I have to admire the venerable filmmaker: He cast unknowns, not stars (contrary to Jon Favreau’s earlier approach) and he dug into the sobering back stories of the characters while audiences were waiting to hear “Oh, What a Night.” But can filmgoers get teary while also tapping their toes? The marketing of the film ties it to the play, but it is quite a different animal.

johngreenFleming: I attended the New York premiere of The Fault In Our Stars. The collective sobbing in the theater was eerie, all from kids who’d read the book. At the party, kids carried copies of the books to shyly ask Green for an autograph. I brought my daughter and niece and asked my daughter how she could get so crazed about an author. My high school junior said that aside from his books, Green and his brother give web tutorials and they were remarkably helpful in getting her through AP History. She looked at this guy like he was Paul McCartney. Isn’t this what you went through with Love Story back in the day?

lovestoryBart: Comparisons of Fault to Love Story have been inevitable, which amuses me because, in my Paramount days, Bob Evans and I wallowed in the ample tears spilled by young movie audiences that lined up to see the Ali MacGraw-Ryan O’Neal weepie. While cancer was the common denominator of the two films, Love Story began its life as a screenplay (every studio rejected it) written by a professor of classics who’d never heard of ‘young adult’ novels. I persuaded the professor, Erich Segal, to rewrite it as a novel, then fired the first director who tried to change the story by turning it into an art picture (Arthur Hiller replaced him). But the studio shed tears when it saw the first cut of the movie; it was awful. Bob Evans and Arthur Hiller did a brilliant job of re-shooting, adding scenes and changing the structure. The movie had legs because it was one of the great aphrodisiacs in film history. Young men knew they would score if they took their dates to the film and cried together. And Paramount knew that big grosses meant never having to say you’re sorry.

beginFleming: Placing a thoughtful film in the summer is a risk. When I saw Can A Song Save Your Life by Once director John Carney at its Toronto premiere, to me it was a cross between Love Actually and Jerry Maguire, grounded by the filmmaker’s love for music. Buyers scrambled out to crunch numbers and The Weinstein Company paid $7 million for domestic rights. I don’t love the new title, Begin Again, like I did the old one, but this is an unforgettable film that will put Adam Levine on the movie map, and you won’t believe how well Keira Knightley sings and how good Mark Ruffalo is. But it opens June 27 against Transformers: Age Of Extinction, going into a July 4th weekend which has been a woodchipper for films that don’t make the grade. I am going to be bullish here and predict that the movie thrives as counterprogramming, because it is that good.

favreBart: I’m glad you feel optimistic about Begin Again because the summer box office thus far has not been friendly toward “specialty” pictures. While the studios have fared well with most of their tentpoles, art films with good casts and credentials like Belle and Words And Pictures have failed to perform. My guru of specialty films, Ted Mundorff, who runs Landmark Theaters, tells me that, by contrast, Chef has held its own for several weeks. I loved Chef but its success carries a certain irony. The movie features a nasty critic (albeit food critic); Jon Favreau, who both stars in Chef and directs it, has taken a beating from critics for his last tentpole, Cowboys And Aliens, and also for Chef — some critics resented the fact that Chef is a “feel good” movie and critics seem to like being brutalized. Like several movies of the summer, both big and small, Chef arguably has not been well marketed. The movie’s clout reflects its affectionate father-son story. The title and campaign suggest it’s about food.

boyhFleming: The specialty market should embrace Rick Linklater’s Boyhood, a coming-of-age story in the extreme in that he shot it over 12 years so you can actually see Ellar Coltrane physically age. It’s a singular achievement for a narrative effort and it should become the buzz title in the specialty marketplace when it platforms July 11 — the same weekend as Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes opens on probably 5000 more screens than Boyhood will get. At least IFC and Linklater have the novelty of a time-lapse drama to sell. Like Green was, Linklater will be most accommodating in selling Boyhood. John Green and his youth following is an anomaly; it’s hard to find something to stand up and get these fragile films some attention and love.

Related: Q&A: Richard Linklater Firms Summer Release, Talks 12 Years Making ‘Boyhood’

segalerichBart: Your comments about the emergence of John Green as a “star” fascinate me, because Green continues to enhance his image through his YouTube classes. To Green, there’s no contradiction between writing novels aimed at teenage girls and conducting online Shakespeare classes. He is an off-beat Renaissance man, and proud of it. By contrast, Erich Segal, who wrote Love Story, was embarrassed by writing popular fiction. He was convinced it would destroy his academic career — which it did. While John Green goes on every TV show that will have him, I had to twist Segal’s arm to submit to an interview on the Today show. To my amazement, Segal used his TV time to tell audiences that Love Story was based on a true encounter he had had with a girl. His emotional tale succeeded in selling out his first edition overnight. He later confided that there was no such girl — the fiction writer had indulged in some convenient fiction. John Green, best I can tell, admits he made up Fault, though he vaguely references some cancer victims he has encountered. Bottom line: His story, real or invented, has moved millions of readers (and film audiences) and made him a very rich man.

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‘Edge of Tomorrow’ Crosses $15M Milestone in Russia

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‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′ Takes #1 Debut in India

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Box Office: ’22 Jump Street’ Surges With $60M; ‘Dragon 2′ Hits $50M


UPDATED: The two sequels commanded most of the business at the Father’s Day weekend box office; Robert Pattinson’s “The Rover” opens to subdued numbers in its limited launch.

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BOX OFFICE: ’22 Jump Street’, No. 1, ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2? No. 2 Around $50M In Big Sequel Weekend

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Click here to view the embedded video.

OPENING: 22 Jump Street (SONY) looks like it may be $60M or a little under; How to Train Your Dragon 2 (FOX) should come in around $50M.

8th UPDATE, SATURDAY, 10:44 PM: As was indicated earlier in the day, it quieted down a bit for Sony/MGM’s 22 Jump Street and it looks like tonight it took in anywhere from $18.5M to $19.4M to put it at right around $60M or a little less for the three-day weekend. It dropped about 25% from Friday night. How To Train Your Dragon 2 from Fox/DreamWorks Animation dropped a bit more than expected as well (about 8% from Friday) and is now looking at a $17M Saturday take around $50M or a little under.22-Jump-Street-Jenko-and-Schmidt It’s a good film so expect it to play for a few weeks unimpeded.

In the No. 3 position is Maleficent from Disney which held well despite a new family-friendly entry coming into the marketplace. It was up about 21% to grab an estimated $7.15M and is on track to take in around $19M to $20M for the weekend; its total cume after three weeks is around $164M.

A Fault in Our Stars, which was the big opener last weekend from Fox with $8M, will bring in another $5.6M or so today to push its three-day weekend estimates lower to around $15.8M to $16M. It took a 12% tumble from Friday. And rounding out the Top Five is Warner Bros.’ Edge of Tomorrow, the sci-fi actioner which got a little bit better action at the turnstile Saturday night than expected — up 30% from last night — with $5.9M to push it to around $15.6M for the three-day. Still, nothing to crow about as it’s still on track for about $55.7M after two weeks in release. Tough break. That’s how it looks tonight and will have a better idea after the dust clears in the AM.

7th UPDATE, SATURDAY, 4:17 PM: 22 Jump Street is playing softer today in matinees so looks more like $60M or less right now. how-to-train-your-dragon-2-early-headerMore to come this evening but it’s dropping a larger percentage than anticipated (so hope business picks up tonight). How to Train Your Dragon 2 is packing them in on family Saturday so expect that to come in around $52M to $53M now. Stay tuned. 

6th UPDATE, SATURDAY, 7:18 AM: Sony (Columbia)/MGM’s 22 Jump Street brought in an estimated $25M last night after all the box office receipts were tallied and looks to take in the high-end of last night’s estimate, around $62M+. The Fox/DreamWorks’ Animation family-friendly pic How to Train Your Dragon 2 flew in with $18.5M and if it holds steady tonight and sees only about a 20% decline on Sunday, it will gross around $51.8M to $52M+. There’s only been a few times in box office history where two pictures opened to over $50M on the same weekend (See analysis below and click-thru to see the Top Ten chart).

So what does it all mean? Those at the studio are whispering that the budget of 22 Jump Street was $50M, however, we checked and after a $16M to $17M production incentive from filming in Louisiana and Puerto Rico, its budget ended up, according to calculations around $65M+. I can confirm that their $50M is not real. Add that same number for marketing and distribution costs here and abroad and then you must figure in participations between stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as well as the filmmakers. So it’s not all cut and dried in terms of how profitable this picture will be — higher budget than the first, higher take at the box office by far. Gotta say that the ending credits were pretty darn funny. Bravo to directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller for coming up with that (after the success of The Lego Movie, are they having a killer year or what?), and kudos all around for opening this film under the tutelage of president of marketing newbie (only 9 months in the job) Dwight Caines. I thought the movie and the dialogue were ridiculous … but the demo loved it and gave it an A- CinemaScore last night. Don’t see anything really stopping it next weekend either … another Kevin Hart offering, maybe … so distrib folks found a good date. The picture was produced by Neil Moritz.

“We have a really funny movie and it performed beautifully,” said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution. “Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum have incredible chemistry and Lord and Miller know funny. They all worked really hard. After our first screening, we knew had the highest-rated R-rated comedy ever, and the critics love it so it’s firing on all cylinders.” 22 is now the second-highest opening for an R-rated film in history behind Hangover II ($85.9M).

eret_gallery_011How to Train Your Dragon 2 … again those at the studio are saying the budget is at $145M but we’ve heard significantly higher. This family pic should do significant business internationally and we can expect it to have some long legs domestically as there is nothing that’s going to touch it until mid-July when Disney enters the market with Planes: Fire & Rescue. Sure, Relativity has an family pic coming (Earth to Echo) but it is not expected to do much at the box office. How to Train Your Dragon 2 will clean up in home entertainment, too. DreamWorks Animation delivered a well done movie and audiences loved it, giving it an A CinemaScore. Kudos to writer/director Dean DeBlois for delivering a very entertaining and well-written film.

The Fault in Our Stars is going to have a second weekend drop of about 65% for Fox; we predicted last week it would take a hard hit — this, after a stellar Thursday night artificially bouyed by those $25 a pop tickets from the simulcast and a whopping $8.3M in a front-loaded three-day. It’s expected cume is going to be around $82M to $83M. Great for a pic that the studio said had a $12M aggregate budget. Profitable? Oh yeah.

Edge-of-Tomorrow-trailer-largeAfter a Friday estimated gross of $4.5M, the second weekend of Warner Bros.’ Edge of Tomorrow will drop about 48% from its opening weekend to gross a three-day of around $15M to $15.6M. That places its cume at only $55.4M to $56M+. On a big-budget — around $170M to $180M. Ugh.

NOTEWORTHY: Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past crosses $200M after four weeks in release and Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which the studio is pulling across the $200M mark domestically next week (after seven long weeks in release), crossed $700M globally last night. The first installment did $757M+ ww.  Here’s the chart:

1). 22 Jump Street (SONY), 3,306 theaters / $25M Fri. / 3-day estimated cume: $62M+ / Wk 1

2). How to Train Your Dragon 2 (FOX), 4,253 theaters / $18.5M Fri. / 3-day cume: $51.8M to $52M+ / Wk 1

3). Maleficent (DIS), 3,623 theaters (-325) / $5.8M Fri. / 3-day cume: $19.5M to $20M+ (-43%) / Total expected cume: $164M+ / Wk 3

4). The Fault In Our Stars (FOX), 3,273 theaters (+100) / $6.3M Fri. / 3-day cume: $17M (-64%) / Total cume: $83.3M / Wk 2

5). Edge of Tomorrow (WB), 3,505 theaters (+15) / $4.5M Fri. / 3-day cume: $15M to $15.6M (-48%) / Total cume: $55.4M to $56M+ / Wk 2

6). X-Men: Days of Future Past (FOX), 3,042 theaters (-597) / $2.6M Fri. / 3-day cume: $9M+ (-39%) / Total cume: $205.6M / Wk 4

7). Godzilla (WB), 2,088  theaters (-1,022) / $870K Fri. / 3-day cume: $2.9M to $3.2M (-50%) / Total cume: $191M+ / Wk 5

8). A Million Ways to Die in the West (UNI), 2,413 theaters (-747) / $925K Fri. / 3-day cume: $2.7M to $2.9M (-62%) / Total cume: $36.7M / Wk 3

9). Neighbors (UNI), 1,896 theaters (-778) / $800K Fri. / 3-day cume: $2.5M (-54%) / Total cume: $143M+ / Wk 6

10). Chef (OPRD), 1,102 theaters (-196) / $605K Fri. / 3-day cume: $2.1M (-15%) / Total cume: $14M / Wk 6

5th UPDATE, FRIDAY, 10:42 PM: Tonight it looks like 22 Jump Street‘s numbers and How to Train Your Dragon 2 grosses are right in line with our 9 PM estimates and they are going to take around 58% of the market share of the Top Ten (the way it looks right now). 22 Jump Street has an A- CinemaScore and Dragon 2 received an A. I just adjusted estimates accordingly in the chart below for Edge of Tomorrow and The Fault in Our Stars‘ second weekend. As always, numbers and positions may change in the AM. Until then … see Top Ten chart below.

22-jump-street-pics-74th UPDATE, FRIDAY 9:25 PM: It’s early, but here’s what it looks like right now — a big weekend as expected with the two opening sequels doing outstanding numbers. After a phemon Thursday late night and strong matinees today, Sony/MGM’s 22 Jump Street looks to take in around $24M+ on a path to an arresting $61.7M to $62M for the three-day to best Ted’s opening of $54.4M two years ago. Hangover 2 three years ago made $85.9M on a holiday weekend. That means Sony will have bragging rights as the biggest debut for an R-rated comedy (non-holiday) and second-biggest of all time. The Jonah Hill/Channing Tatum sequel is also on its way to best the first installment’s opening by about 70%. And overseas, Sony slid the pic into the UK right before the World Cup kick off to an $8.2M opening, roughly three times the gross of the original film and 47% more than recent hit Neighbors.

Hookfang_snotlout_gallery1The other opener, Fox/DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon 2, which debuted in late nights with $2M and also enjoyed strong matinee business, so far is expected to take in about $18M+ Friday to tally around $50.5M to $53M for the weekend — that would be a 15% to 18% increase from the first installment which bowed four years ago. It’s opening in 20 markets internationally this weekend. This animated pic, one of the best I’ve seen come out of DreamWorks Animation in a while, is expected to do much better than Jump Street overseas. (Why? The humor of 22 has a hard time translating well outside of English-speaking countries).

The Tom Cruise sci-fi actioner Edge of Tomorrow, which is still on IMAX this weekend splitting the time with Dragon 2, is holding with a 44% drop in its sophomore frame, but audiences never came for the opening weekend which was badly needed for this big-budget Warner Bros.’ film. After a very strong 2014 start, the studio seems to be flagging a bit. After this weekend, Edge will have only grossed about $56.5M but double that overseas. Still not enough.

the-fault-in-our-stars-1200-800-new-clip-the-fault-in-our-stars-grenade-scene-will-destroy-youFox’s The Fault in Our Stars, as expected will take a big hit in its second weekend, down about 60% as it looks right now and that’s after adding 100 theaters. But with a cume after this weekend of around $84.5M, it’s profitable and that’s what matters.

The other Fox property in the Top Ten, its franchise X-Men: Days of Tomorrow will pass $200M domestically after four weeks (with a ww tally of over $625M after this weekend), while Spidey’s cume will be at about $198.2M after this weekend and seven long weeks in release. And Warner Bros./Legendary Pics’ Godzilla may become the only $90M opener in history never to reach $200M; it just opened huge in China for the studio. This is what it looks like right now. Will update later.

1). 22 Jump Street (SONY), 3,306 theaters / $24M Fri. / 3-day estimated cume: $61.7M to $62M / Wk 1

2). How to Train Your Dragon 2 (FOX), 4,253 theaters / $18.1M to $18.5M Fri. / 3-day cume: $50.8M to $53M / Wk 1

3). Maleficent (DIS), 3,623 theaters (-325) / $5.9M Fri. / 3-day cume: $19M to $20M+ (-42%) / Total expected cume: $164.5M / Wk 3

4). The Fault In Our Stars (FOX), 3,273 theaters (+100) / $6.4M to $6.6M Fri. / 3-day cume: $18.5M to $19M (-61%) / Total cume: $84.5M / Wk 2

5). Edge of Tomorrow (WB), 3,505 theaters (+15) / $4.2M to $4.5M Fri. / 3-day cume: $15.6M to $16M (-46%) / Total cume: $56.5M / Wk 2

6). X-Men: Days of Future Past (FOX), 3,042 theaters (-597) / $2.6M Fri. / 3-day cume: $9M+ (-39%) / Total cume: $205.7M / Wk 4

7). Godzilla (WB), 2,088  theaters (-1,022) / $962K Fri. / 3-day cume: $3.3M (-46%) / Total cume: $191.4M / Wk 5

8). A Million Ways to Die in the West (UNI), 2,413 theaters (-747) / $925K Fri. / 3-day cume: $2.7M to $3M (-59%) / Total cume: $36.9M / Wk 3

9). Neighbors (UNI), 1,896 theaters (-778) / $805K Fri. / 3-day cume: $2.5M (-53%) / Total cume: $143.2M / Wk 6

10). Chef (OPRD), 1,102 theaters (-196) / $583K Fri. / 3-day cume: $2.1M (-19%) / Total cume: $13.9M / Wk 6

3RD UPDATE, FRIDAY 12:12 PM: Matinees for both 22 Jump Street and How to Train to Dragon 2 are performing very well today, and estimates now look like $25M for tonight for Jump Street for a $65M possible three-day take with Dragon pulling in maybe $21M tonight for a $58M-$60M weekend. This will be a big box office weekend, with two pictures expected to grab a significant market share out of the Top Ten. Stay tuned.

RelatedIntl Box Office: ‘Godzilla’ Stomps Into China

how-to-train-your-dragon-2-trailer2ND UPDATE, FRIDAY 9:33 AM: How To Train Your Dragon 2 numbers just came in and it’s a solid $2M for late nights. Given that the audience for this film is going to come in on Saturday and Sunday, it’s a respectable number. The last really big animated picture opening — and how ironic is this — was from 22 Jump Street‘s Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who gave audiences the smartly written The Lego Movie. That Warner Bros pic played across quadrants with a $17.2M Friday and went on to gross $69M for the three-day. Dragon 2 should open big and have smooth sailing for a long while as there is no wide animated release until July 18 when Walt Disney Pictures’ Planes: Fire & Rescue comes into the marketplace. Dragon 2 is a very well-done film so expect this Dragon to breathe fire for a long while. Five weeks and a July 4th holiday in between (Relativity’s Earth to Echo bows July 4, but is not expected to do much business). And that’s how you pick a distribution date! What’s very interesting (and quite unusual) this weekend is that IMAX is actually splitting the screens between Dragon 2 and the Tom Cruise-starrer Edge Of Tomorrow, giving the animated family film the day slots and the adult Edge the night slots.

22_Jump_StreetUPDATE, FRIDAY, 8:11 AM: While we’re still waiting for the late-night gross report for Fox/DreamWorks’ Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon 2, Thursday late night was good to Sony (Columbia)/MGM’s 22 Jump Street pulling in a very strong $5.5M. 22 began their late-nights at 7 PM and Dragon 2 at 8 PM.

Comparatively, Neighbors also started at 8 PM and grossed $2.5M and went on to an opening three-day of $49M. Jackass: Bad Grandpa opened at 9 PM in October of last year to a $1.4M early take and ended up opening at $32M. Ted, based only on midnights, grossed $2.6M in and went onto nab $54.4M.

Both 22 and Dragon 2 have Jonah Hill in their films (one as a co-star and the other voicing a character) and both are sequels so already have significant fan bases.Now that the teens and 20-somethings have seen the film last night, there are two moments in the film that concern homophobic slurs, including one where a bad guy calls Hill and Channing’s characters ‘faggots’ with Channing turning on the guy giving him a lecture about how horrible it is to do such a thing. Life imitates art.  As everyone knows who is not living under a rock, Hill was caught on camera calling a paparazzi a ‘faggot’ which prompted a flurry of damage control actions. He apologized and then later was attacked for not being sincere enough. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Will audiences this age care? Not according to ticket sales, but it was a hell of an irony.

According to Fandango, 22 is outselling both Ted and Neighbors (also R-rated comedies – both from Uni) right now at the same point in the ticket sales cycle, while Dragon 2 is outselling Rio 2, The Croods and Hotel Transylvania

While Hill bowed out of social media after the slur, he came back this past week on Twitter. According to RelishMix, which monitors social engagement of the fans on the Big Three (YouTube, Facebook and Twitter), Hill’s Twitter feed just spiked as he’s back at it. Channing Tatum is a social powerhouse in himself. “He’s feeding his fourteen million FaceBook and six million Twitter fans who are wildly active with his Hollywood premiere selfies,” says Marc Karzen, CEO of RelishMix. And as we all know, social media is exactly where the fan base for 22 lives and breathes.

PREVIOUSLY, THURSDAY, 12:08 PM: It will be a huge weekend at the box office with both Sony/MGM’s 22 Jump Street and Fox/DreamWHow-to-Train-Your-Dragon-2orks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon 2 opening wide. Not only do both of them have Jonah Hill involved — he co-stars in 22 and voices a character in Dragon — but they both are expected to make over $50M this weekend in a neck-and-neck race for the No. 1 spot that starts tonight; 22 is opening at 7 PM tonight and Dragon is opening at 8 PM.

It has happened before when two pictures opened to over $50M on the same weekend: Last year when World War Z and Disney’s Monsters University both opened way above $60M, in 2012 when the R-rated Prometheus and the animated family film Madagascar 3 opened over $50M, and also in 2008 when the G-rated Wall-E and the R-rated Wanted opened. The pattern, of course, is an adult-themed and family-themed pic moving in to the same weekend and emerging victorious. So it can happen again this weekend.

The first installment of How To Train Your Dragon grossed to $43.7M in March 2010 and went on to gross $217.5M domestically. This one opens as kids are on summer vacation, so I expect it higher. It is also opening in 20 markets this weekend internationally with Russia accounting for 2,250 screens of the total 3,750 or 60%.Jonah Hill, left, and Channing Tatum in Columbia Pictures' "22 Jump Street."

The sequel to 21 Jump Street tested higher than any R-rated comedy in Sony’s history, the studio said today. The first film opened to $36.3M in March 2012 — a non-summer release — and the studio boasted it was the biggest opening of a non-summer, non-sequel, R-rated comedy. Yeah, all the qualifiers, right? Comedy in itself. Anyway, the film is directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, and if they may sound familiar as they were the team behind The Lego Movie which was probably the biggest opening for a non-summer, non-sequel, PG-rated, animated film starring Batman and with a cameo by Will Ferrell. Ahem! It is already rolling out overseas. The budget for this baby is around $65.5M with profit participations with co-star Tatum Channing, Hill and the filmmakers.

Also, in its second weekend is The Fault In Our Stars which opened to a whopping $48M last weekend and is already going into profit, and the big-budget Edge Of Tomorrow, which didn’t open well last weekend for its star Tom Cruise in the states but is doing much better overseas. Much of Edge‘s storyline is, in fact, more tailored to an international audience as a lot of the action takes place Germany, France, Spain, Italy and eventually into the heart of Paris. Most people I know who have seen this film enjoy it; Warner Bros. is hoping it will have legs, but its mid-week numbers are meh.

fault-in-our-stars-posterFault In Our Stars could plummet in its sophomore frame — if it falls 50% or higher, expect it in the high teens, but its midweek numbers have been respectable. That little pic is already at at $58.1M gross since opening a week ago. Comparatively, last night, Fault grossed $5M against $3.4M for Edge which has a total to date of $35.4M.

In the matter of the big tentpoles, Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla bows in China this weekend. The Lizard opened to $93.1M about a month ago and is at $187.5M domestically. It looks to fall short of $200M, which will be the only film in history to open at over $90M and not step over that threshold. Fox’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past is currently at $195M and Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is currently at around $197.2M and the studio is pulling it over the $200M mark now after six weeks in release.

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2014 Annecy Film Festival Awards: Brazil’s ‘Boy And The World’ Takes Top Prizes

annecy logoThe 38th Annecy International Film Festival announced its top winners for the 2014 event, led by the Brazilian feature The Boy and the World (O menino e o mundo) winning both the audience and Cristal Award. The film, directed by Ale Abreu, centers on globalization and is told through colorful, crayon-like drawings.  Gkids acquired the film for U.S. distribution. It’s the second time that a Brazialian title has taken the top prize, last year’s being Rio 2096.

Bill Plympton’s hand-drawn Cheatin’ about a newly-wed wife, who becomes her cheating husband’s mistress took the Jury Award. Plympton is a two-time Oscar nominee and completed his film with Kickstarter funds. Jury Distinction went to Japan’s Giovanni’s Island (Giovanni no Shima), a Japanese-Russian language film based on true events about two children, from two different countries, who bond during the aftermath of WWII.

Other winners are as follows:

Short Films
Cristal: Man on the Chair (France-South Korea, dir. Dahee Jeong)
Jury award: Patch (Germany-Switzerland, dir. Gerd Gockell)
Jean-Luc Xiberras prize for a first film: Hasta Santiago (France-Switzerland, dirs. Mauro Carraro, Pierre Manchot)
SACEM award for original music:
 Hasta Santiago (composer Etienne Perruchon)
Jury distinction: La testa tra le nuvole (Italy, dir. Roberto Catani)
Jury distinction: Histoires de bus (Canada, dir. Tali)
Audience award: La Petite Casserole d’Anatole (France, Eric Montchaud)
“Off Limits” award: Corps estrangers (Canada, Nicholas Brault)

TV and commissioned films
Cristal for a TV production: En sortant de l’école’s Tant de forêts, (France, dirs. Burcu Sankur, Geoffrey Godet)
Cristal for a commissioned film: Tissue Animals (Japan, dir. Fuyu Arai)
Jury award for a TV Series: Tumble Leaf “Kite” (United States, dir. Drew Hodges)
Jury awards for a TV Special: La Parfum de la Carotte (France, Belgium, Switzerland, dirs. Remi Durin, Arnaud Demuynck)
Jury award: Peau “Instant T” (France, dir. Perrine Faillet)

Graduation Films
Cristal for a graduation film: The Bigger Picture (United Kingdom, dir. Daisy Jacobs)
Jury award: An Adventurous Afternoon (Germany, dirs. Ines Christine Geisser, Kirsten Carina Geisser)
Jury distinction: The Age of Curious (Great Britain, dir. Luca Toth)

Other Prizes
The Festival Connections award: Through the Hawthorn (United Kingdom, dirs. Anna Brenner, Pia Borg, Gemma Burditt)
Junior Jury Award for a Graduation Film: Interview (Denmark, Mikkel Okholm)
Junior Jury Award for a Short Film: Histoires de bus
Fipresci Prize: No Fish Where to Go (Canada, dirs. Nicola Lemay and Janice Nadeau)
The Gan Foundation prize: Adama (France, dir. Simon Rouby)
CANAL+Creative Aid Award for a Short Film: Wonder (France-Japan, dir. Mirai Mizue)

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EMMYS: Jay Carson Is The Go-To-Pol Guy On ‘House of Cards’

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Awardsline logo_use this oneAs far as Jay Carson knows, none of the 435 representatives and 100 senators who make up the United States Congress has resorted to murdering reporters. “But then, there are so many of them,” he jokes. Still, with 15 years in politics under his belt, including his current stint as senior adviser to Bloomberg Philanthropies, the consultant on Netflix’s House of Cards understands why lawmakers have fallen in love with Kevin Spacey’s murderous Machiavellian despot Frank Underwood. “Frank’s ability to get things done, even if some of his actions aren’t so legal, might actually be a nice antidote to the gridlocked Washington we have right now,” Carson insists. “He’s a man of action, as (showrunner) Beau (Willimon) says. He runs up against a wall and he’s not thinking, ‘Oh well.’  He’s thinking, ‘OK, I can go under it, over it or knock it right down.’ ”

Jay Carson House of Cards Political ConsultantCarson and Willimon met while in college at Columbia University. The seeds that became House of Cards were planted when Carson started interning for Chuck Schumer’s successful Senate campaign. “No one thought he would win,” says Carson, who brought Willimon onboard. “We became this inseparable duo. You can see from House of Cards how important it is to have someone around you can trust.”

Related: Mike Fleming’s Q&A With Beau Willimon

Jay Carson House of Cards political consultantThe pair worked together on Senate campaigns for Hillary Clinton and Bill Bradley, as well as Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in 2004, which inspired Willimon’s play Farragut North. Carson’s political career developed further—he became the press secretary for Clinton’s presidential run in 2008—and it’s in Carson’s mold that Willimon created Ryan Gosling’s character in The Ides of March.

Bringing his best friend to consult on House of Cards was Willimon’s thank you for the exposure to politics. “From the very beginning, Beau was dedicated to making the show as accurate and plausible as possible,” says Carson, whose involvement on the show begins with conversations with Willimon. “We talk constantly: ‘So in (episode) 302, we have Frank doing this; would a president do that kind of thing?’ ” he says. In the writers room, Carson consults on outlines and sends back drafts when things aren’t feeling right. “There are probably eight or 10 or 12 drafts before we’re ready to shoot. I don’t write anything; I just help out when I can.”

HOUSE OF CARDSSpeculating about whether the show’s characters have been based on real people has become quite the watercooler topic in the corridors of power—apparently even President Obama is a fan—but Carson insists there’s no direct mimicry involved. “I’ll certainly pull from real incidents that have occurred to me and the stories I’ve heard,” he says. “Everything you see on the show could happen—that’s our rule. It’s not that it has happened, just that it could.” And if a pesky reporter needs getting rid of, that’s where the leash on plausibility can be loosened. Because, as Carson says, “if what was actually going on in Washington was this exciting, Netflix would just put up 13 hours of C-SPAN and save everyone a lot of time.”

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R.I.P. Kate Mantilini:Beverly Hills Haven For Oscar Voters And So Many Others

Pete Hammond

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AN APPRECIATION: It not only was perhaps the most consistently popular and cool restaurant in Beverly Hills, Kate Mantilini which is located at mantilinithe corner of Wilshire Blvd and Doheny and just two blocks from the headquarters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, has in recent years become a key part of Oscar campaigning.  Sadly, due to a dispute over higher rent with a greedy landlord more interested in lining their pockets than in pleasing Hollywood,  Kate’s is closing its doors tonight after 27 years in the key BH location. The other Kate’s located in Woodland Hills remains open, but frankly it isn’t the same. This one was special.

6106528389_87d11b7f81The restaurant, founded in 1987 and owned by the Lewis family (Marilyn and Harry who also founded the famed Hamburger Hamlet chain and sons David, and Adam who has been running it since 2010) which is open late unlike just about every other place of its type in the area, became a real watering hole  for many Hollywood types like Mel Brooks  who has written his own obit for the place, and so many others.  It was almost impossible to go in there and not run into someone you know. It was really a hopping place, both at lunch , dinner and late night.  And it not only has been host to numerous premiere parties (including several for Matt Weiner and Mad Men, a Marilyn Lewis obsession) it was also prominently featured in the movie Heat with a key scene between stars Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, now memorialized on the walls of Kate’s. I was even in there after the Oscars and a winner with his brand new shiny statuette came in passing up the Vanity Fair party in favor of a late night snack at Kate’s.

63011_454216571374110_1400399578_nEven more importantly Oscar campaigners themselves discovered the value of Kate’s which often was swarming with Academy members and brass who frequented it either before, after or in between screenings and events at the neighboring Academy.  The only reason tonight’s closing won’t be more of a wake is because the Academy itself is shut down until October for remodeling so all their screenings have moved temporarily to Hollywood. Despite publicity about the closing some Academy Kate regulars may not even be aware. But when Awards Season rolls around this Fall –and Kate’s is gone–  there will be grieving among the membership, I guarantee you. With another popular spot, The Beverly Hills Hotel now the subject of a Hollywood boycott over social policies of its owner the Sultan Of Brunei, the Bev Hills industry crowd will be overcome by nostalgia for the way it was, especially for this place. And it won’t be all about just the hash browns, the sand dabs or the tortilla soup.

The high walls are lined with blow-up photos in its final days of the Mad Men cast as both that show and this restaurant hit the end of their run. The first time I remember seeing those giant photos was for the after-premiere party for Unstrung Heroes in 1995 which is why diners have, to this day, always had its star Andie McDowell looking down on them. But during the recent Oscar season Theimage Weinstein Company, which has its LA headquarters across the street, took over those large prized spots hovering above the dining booths for all of its contending movies, just as Universal and Focus did the year before that for Les Mis and Anna Karenina, as have others in the past. And like any campaign advertising they were charged a premium by the restaurant which certainly came to realize that there probably wasn’t a better place to reach Oscar voters in big numbers than having some sort of presence at Kate’s.  It’s illegal, according to Academy rules to send out lavish brochures of contenders to 628x471their members, but as some crafty consultants realized it wasn’t illegal just to put a few up at the entrance desk where everyone waits to be seated. Also there have been plenty of copies of Deadline’s Awardsline, Variety and other awards season publications allowed on the restaurant counter right next to the candy jar to lure advertising and Academy eyes. And members of the Writers Guild who frequented their own theatre right there on Doheny also were a constant presence at Kate’s.  In fact, I do a winter screening series for UCLA Extension Sneak Preview at the WGA and so many of the 400 or so who took  the Wednesday night class would first have dinner at Kate’s.  I always checked with Lisa Glucksman, a Kate’s  hostess, to find out what mood they were in before facing them for the Q&A following the film. Like so many who work at Kate’s Lisa became a friend. She’s also an actress and we saw some of her shows over the years including Frankie And Johnny At The Clair De Lune.

ReservationsSince word got out in mid-May about tonight’s closing, the place has been jammed with stars, producers, directors and industryites looking for one last “Kate’s fix”.  There has been a sense of disbelief, sadness and tears all around from the regulars to the staff who so many knew by name (a real rarity in this era and this town). It was like a family. It certainly had that atmosphere. One of the waiters, who joined just a few years ago, after working 30 years at the now also-vanished Hamlet at the end of the Sunset Strip told me about all the stars he has gotten to know over the years. You don’t realize it until they are gone, but these watering holes have meaning even for the biggest names.  Jim Laurer remembered serving Dean Martin2010-0225-Kate-Mantilini-00700 who hit the Hamlet alone just about nightly in his final years. And other legends like Bette Davis, Eve Arden, the Sinatra clan etc.  Kate’s had the same feel, and he felt at home there too. It was a special place where the famous and the non-famous were all treated like family.  On a personal note my wife Madelyn and I will certainly miss Kate’s.  She was there all the time doing what came to be known as “Job Whisperer” sessions, offering tough love and resume help for industry members who were out of work.

1450064_10151858743212252_271481717_nSo here’s a toast to the Kate’s Beverly Hills family, and I apologize in advance if I have left anyone out:  Brenda, Meg, Jason, Kerry, Brian, Alex, Martha, Tyrone, Robert, Jim, Melanie, Marielle,  Carmella, Steve, Isaac, Lisa and Tom. We feel your loss  — as does everyone, including those multitudes of Oscar voters, who all got to know and love Kate Mantilini in Beverly Hills.

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EMMYS: Mike Judge On How Viacom-Paramount Merger Influenced ‘Silicon Valley’ & ‘Office Space’s Impact On TGI Fridays

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Mike Judge Silicon Valley interviewFor close to 20 years, multi-hyphenate Mike Judge has kept the under-25 set in stitches with his takes of less-than types, read affable vulgarians Beavis and Butthead, the hysterical rednecks on Fox’s King of the Hill, as well as know-it-all bosses in Fox’s Office Space; the latter which continues to be a cult sensation 15 years after its release. This April, Judge launched his first live-action TV comedy series, HBO‘s Silicon Valley, and like Office Space, the show provides a close-up of the absurdities of corporate types, but this time it’s the billionaires and computer geniuses who rule Northern Cali’s tech world.  The series follows a group of nerdy programmers comprised of Richard (Thomas Middleditch), Erlich (T.J. Miller), Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and Jared (Zach Woods) who hatch the idea for the music search engine Pied Piper, only to see it stolen by the Bill Gates-ian tech lord Gavin Belson. Much like his previous projects, Judge continues to flex his finesse for nuanced, deadpan, grounded, idiosyncratic types with Silicon Valley. Though HBO only aired eight episodes this spring, Silicon Valley is on pre-Emmy nom fire with three TV Critics’ Choice noms for best comedy series, actor (Middleditch) and supporting comedy actor (Christopher Evan Welch). Click through for interview:

DEADLINE: Silicon Valley is inspired by your work experiences working in the computer tech industry. But how did you originally conceive this project, as a TV series or a follow-up to your cult film Office Space? 

Awardsline logo_use this oneMIKE JUDGE: I’ve been hovering around something like this with for a while.  Way back, before the dotcom burst in 2000, I thought about doing something like this, about a tech billionaire Paul Allen-type, but that was as a movie.  But then John Altschuler, of King and the Hill; he suggested an idea like Falcon Crest, but instead of wine and oil money, it would be tech money.  HBO came to me with an idea about gamers with Scott Rudin attached, and from that point it was always going to be a TV series. I told them that I didn’t know enough about the gaming world, but I had worked as an engineer in Silicon Valley, and I suggested we do a project about that.

Related: HBO Renews ‘Silicon Valley’

DEADLINE: What was the biggest challenge, in getting the project off the ground? Were there any nuts that needed to be cracked creatively?

'Silicon Valley' castJUDGE: This project felt charmed from the beginning.  I was a little worried before we stated the casting process.  I thought of Thomas Middleditch (as lead programmer Richard) when I wrote it. He auditioned like everybody else and was great. It was important to me that the cast was believable, that they are highly intelligent and not just goofy caricatures. They had to be both funny and good actors. We found these guys and juggled things around and wrote to them.  These guys are programmers and sit in front of the computer screen for 16 hours – how do you film that and make that funny? That was a challenge. This world is so absurd, there’s a lot of great material along the way.

Beavis and Butthead Mike Judge interviewDEADLINE: I understand that there’s a little bit of you in Richard, specifically when you were impacted by the Viacom and Paramount merger. Please explain.
JUDGE: I don’t even know all the details. It was regarding (David) Geffen and (Viacom Executive Chairman) Sumner Redstone.  I just found myself in the center of this…it was with Beavis & Butt-Head mostly.  At one point, I met with all the studios and I was going to do it with Fox and Peter Chernin, then Geffen said no, and then Redstone bought MTV. All this craziness that started with these billionaires battling over something I made in my house with pen, paper, ink and animation cells. There’s some parallels there. There’s a lot of similarities between Hollywood and the Tech world — very different character types, but just in how something becomes hot.  There’s more money in tech.

Related: Mike Judge Pokes Fun of Billionaire Vibe in ‘Silicon Valley’

DEADLINE: What Strange Brew was to Gen X, Office Space is to the millennial generation. What is it about that film that still resonates?
Jennifer Aniston Mike Judge Interview
JUDGE: It’s definitely made a big profit for Fox and there’s even merchandise [Editor’s note: The film was made for $10 million]. I started to notice it was getting a cult following a year or two after it came out. I would have thought that the world would have changed more, and that the film wouldn’t be relevant, but I think there are still bosses and offices like that.  About four years after Office Space came out, TGI Fridays got rid of all that (button) flair, because people would come in and make cracks about it. One of my ADs asked once at the restaurant why their flair was missing and they said they removed it because of that movie Office Space.  So, maybe I made the world a better place.  Sometimes, I’m surprised that it’s relevant. I thought there would be a new kind of asshole boss and this would be antiquated.  I love it when people say they related to it. It was hard to get made. The studio didn’t like the cast, the music — they didn’t like a lot of it. Then it didn’t do well right way, so I got that ‘I told you so!’ thing from them. Then to have the film make a lot of money — it was really a sweet thing.

Silicon Valley Mike Judge InterviewDEADLINE: You have a knack for capturing and lampooning corporate culture. Can you expound further on the link between Silicon Valley and Office Space? Does the new series reflect just another atmosphere of eccentrics?
JUDGE: I was never consciously thinking of a link between those two projects, but I guess the kind of absurd things that I find funny and interesting, I always feel like, ‘Hey no one made fun of this!’ I would watch CNBC and see all these commercials for tech companies, GE or Exxon and they’re just gushing about how they’re making the world a better place and ya know, it’s just kinda begging to be made fun of. There’s a new corporate culture, that wasn’t the same as there was in 1998-99 when I made Office Space, so that is what’s fun to make fun of. I think that might be why Silicon Valley feels similar to Office Space for people. I don’t use the word satire too much in my daily life, but I guess that’s what I’m doing.

Thomas Middleditch Mike Judge InterviewDEADLINE:  One of the supporting characters makes a reference to Richard (the main character) having Asperger’s syndrome, which brings to light how tech companies in Silicon Valley recruit those with autism and Asperger’s to fulfill specific roles. Was this commonplace when you worked in Silicon Valley?
JUDGE:  Back when I was an engineer, there was always a certain type that can just sit there and code away for hours, and the companies give them Snickers bars, pizza and Dr. Pepper and they’re fine and happy. They usually aren’t the ones to make a lot of money. They make good money, but what’s happened now that’s different is that there are venture capitalists who are actually more inclined to invest in somebody who has an Asperger-type of delivery when they’re pitching their concept because it makes everyone (in the room) think they are smarter.

DEADLINE: Expound on working with HBO. Was it easier shooting the series than a feature film?
King of the Hill Mike Judge interview
JUDGE: HBO doesn’t focus group test. I don’t think I ever focus group-tested any of my projects.  On King of the Hill we never focus group-tested because of the length of time it takes to animate, plus we had a 13-episode commitment. I think, they (Fox) just had no choice: It was gonna air no matter what. HBO is just the best experience with a studio I’ve ever had. They have really just been supportive and helpful  and didn’t hassle me about casting, music or anything.  Shooting the series has been a lot like shooting a feature.  We use the same kind of cameras, which have the same production value.  You can just project these episodes in a theater. It really is like shooting a movie. The good thing about this TV series is that I have more chances to develop the characters. One isn’t just putting all their eggs in one basket. There was the opportunity to shoot extra footage and add it in later.

DEADLINE: You won an Emmy for King of the Hill for best animated program. Do you have an idea of what type of comedy material floats with Emmy voters?
JUDGE: You know I’m maybe the wrong person to ask. I know so little about the Emmys. I didn’t even go when King of the Hill won. When King of the Hill would get nominated, we would lose sometimes to The Simpsons and I don’t know if the year we won, was particularly better than the years we lost. I just remember being kinda surprised when I got the phone call saying we won. It seems like they nominate good shows. The shows that win are good shows.  The Simpsons is great. I think they (the TV Academy) generally have pretty good taste, but I don’t know.