Tag Archives: Paramount

Box office bloodbath: Hollywood has worst October in a decade

julianne moore2

Couldn’t happen to a finer group of people.

From Hollywood Reporter: Following a record September, the October box office was a bloodbath.

Revenue for the month won’t crack $560 million, the worst showing in a decade after a string of movies underperformed domestically. Through Sunday, October ticket sales stood at $539.1 million, down a steep 13.4 percent from the same time period last year, according to comScore. The last time October revenue didn’t cross $600 million, or $700 million, was in 2007.

The final weekend of the month was particularly brutal. Moviegoers already ambivalent about showing up to for the new titles on the marquee were easily distracted by Halloween parties and the World Series (to boot, Stranger Things 2 premiered on Netflix).

The malaise struck hard.

Case in point: George Clooney’s upscale dramedy Suburbicon opened to a paltry $2.8 million from 2,046, the worst showing of any film Clooney has directed and a career low for star Matt Damon outside of All the Pretty Horses in 2000. The $25 million film, also starring Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac, was skewered by critics before getting slapped with a D- CinemaScore by audiences.

It is also among the worst wide openings in Paramount’s history. The studio has endured one box-office disappointment after another this year; last month, Darren Aronofksy’s mother! opened to $7.5 million domestically for a total to date of $17.8 million. Globally, the horror film, starring Jennifer Lawrence, has earned $43 million.

Thank You for Your Service, from Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks and partner Universal, didn’t fare much better than Suburbicon after failing to drum up interest in America’s heartland. The $25 million film, starring Miles Teller as an Iraqi war veteran suffering from PTSD, opened to $3.7 million from 2,054 locations. Universal and DreamWorks hosted dozens of screenings for members of the military and veterans, hoping to emulate the success of American Sniper.

But the biggest reason for the worrisome slump was the lack of a successful big event film along the lines of past October hits Gravity ($274.1 million), The Martian ($228.4 million) or Gone Girl ($167.8 million).

This year, not one October release crossed $100 million domestically. Blade Runner 2049, which hoped to follow the same trajectory as Gravity and The Martian, has only earned $81.4 million since its release on Oct. 6. Environmental disaster pic Geostorm also faltered, earning just $23.6 million in its first 10 days. Both films are facing major losses.

To be fair, no 2016 October title cleared $100 million, either. However, five titles did earn north of $50 million; this time out, only one has, Blade Runner.

October has been a bloodbath at the box office, and unfortunately reminiscent of what was a very slow month of August,” says comScore box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “With year-to-date revenue down 5 percent and just two months left in the year, making up the difference will be a daunting task with enormous pressure on every movie to perform to get us anywhere near last year’s record $11.4 billion North American record.”

Read the rest of the story here.

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George Clooney: “Houston is Syria post Hurricane Harvey”

george clooney

Riiiiight. Because Syrian refugees and victims of Hurricane Harvey have so much in common.

Bonus: Not only does Julianne Moore want “re-education for everyone,” she also wants to “eradicate all these borders.”

From Hollywood Reporter: As George Clooney joins efforts to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Irma rips through Florida, the Hollywood star on Sunday likened Americans left homeless by catastrophic weather events to Syrians caught up in their country’s civil war.

“It’s going to take a long time … and we’ll all have to be involved, because Houston is Syria,” the multihyphenate said during a press conference for his film Suburbicon, which is screening this week at the Toronto International Film Festival after bowing in Venice. “People in Houston are now refugees based on something that had nothing to do with them. They didn’t do anything. They’re now victims and they’re out of their homes and they will be suffering for a very long time,” he added.

Harvey slammed into Texas’ Gulf Coast on Aug. 25 as a Category 4 hurricane. It was soon downgraded to a tropical storm but lingered for days, dropping up to 50 inches of rain on Houston and the surrounding area before moving eastward to Louisiana.

“We’re going to have to find ways to get involved — that’s our jobs as citizens of the world,” said Clooney. The Hollywood star directed Paramount’s Suburbicon, which features Matt Damon and Julianne Moore as a couple in over their heads with a dastardly plan in a caustic satire penned by Joel and Ethan Coen, Clooney and Grant Heslov.

Moore, also in Toronto to help promote the film, said humanitarian crises like in Syria and hurricane-ravaged Texas and Florida remind Americans they need to come together to help one another. “This is happening everywhere, with people being forced out of their homes and their nations and are looking for places to go. The only way we can help each other is by eradicating all these borders and thinking globally,” said the actress.

Damon said Suburbicon, a drama about very flawed people making very bad choices in a seemingly idyllic 1950s community, also has resonance with the Trump era. “You never know when you’re making a movie. A lot of these current events, we couldn’t have predicted,” said the actor.

A movie inspired by the true-life story of African-Americans who were harassed by their white neighbors to get them to move out of their Levittown, Pa., community in the 1950s, Suburbicon will inevitably be overshadowed by recent events in Charlottesville, Va., Damon suggested.

“Everything was there, but the lid hadn’t been torn off yet. And it seems like this presidency has reinvigorated this certain element, and emboldened them to step out into the open,” the actor said of Donald Trump’s defiant comments about alt-right provocateurs in the wake of the Charlottesville tragedy.

The U.S. president stirred controversy when he initially declined to single out the white supremacists and neo-Nazis whose demonstration against the removal of a Gen. Robert E. Lee statue had led to violence and the death of a counter-protester in Charlottesville.

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Hollywood’s summer movie season is off to a rough start

Hollyweird

Imagine my despair…

From NY Post: Tinseltown’s hopes for a $5 billion summer are already fizzling, with a couple of flicks crashing out of the gate.

Warner Bros.’ “King Arthur” and Fox’s “Alien: Covenant” both disappointed this month, and movie analysts are warning this summer’s box office won’t be as hot as last year, when Disney’s “Finding Dory” was the biggest hit.

When it comes to striking cinema gold, no one needs it more than Viacom’s Paramount Pictures and Sony’s Columbia Pictures. Paramount, which just tapped a new chief executive and got a fresh injection of cash from its China financing deal, needs to find its mojo, and quickly. The studio lost $136 million in 2016 and has paid out steep restructuring and severance charges.

Paramount is behind the upcoming “Baywatch” movie and is releasing a new “Transformers” feature. “If ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ flops, Paramount is in big, big trouble,” said Jeff Bock at Exhibitor Relations, which tallies ticket sales. “They need a billion-dollar hit.”

Sony, meanwhile, is set to roll out “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” in partnership with Disney’s Marvel. “They’re planning multiple spinoffs” for Spider-Man, according to Bock. “But you need the flagship firing on all cylinders.” Sony also is releasing “The Emoji Movie” in July, for which expectations are already set low.

The inclusion of the Iron Man character will help juice interest in “Spider-Man,” but “it’s the third reboot in 15 years,” Bock notes.

Last year’s summer box office was $4.4 billion. Anything under that number is going to have Tinseltown in a tizzy, according to the analyst.

A survey conducted by online movie ticketing service Fandango suggests that Warner’s “Wonder Woman,” out on June 2, is the most anticipated movie of the summer, followed by “Spider-Man.”

A strong first quarter at the box office and promising. However the summer sorts out, executives on the lots can always plead their newbie status.

Viacom’s Bob Bakish, who took over as acting CEO in October last year, hired new Paramount boss Jim Gianopulos in March. Twentieth Century Fox has a new chief in Stacey Snider. Sony Pictures Entertainment this month named as its new CEO Tony Vinciquerra, who starts in June. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. parent Time Warner is in the midst of being acquired by AT&T. Only Disney and Universal have left their top executives in place this year.

“I don’t think anyone will judge [Paramount’s] Jim Gianopulos based on this summer,” observes Cowen & Co. entertainment analyst Doug Creutz. “Warner really needs to do well. They had one issue with ‘King Arthur,’ and they have ‘Dunkirk’ coming out, it’s a prestige picture.”

Warner is launching the most original movies versus sequels, and will likely be the biggest spender on marketing this summer.

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Hollywood Studios, Agencies in a Daze After Trump Win: ‘Many of Us Will Be Scared and Threatened’

leocryingdeparted

From Hollywood Reporter: Early Wednesday morning, United Talent Agency CEO Jeremy Zimmer dispatched a memo to the company’s staff trying to alleviate anxiety and anger in the aftermath of Hillary Clinton’s surprise loss to Donald Trump in the presidential election.

Jeremy Zimmer

Jeremy Zimmer

Many of us will be scared and threatened and we can give comfort. Some of us will be happy because our voice was heard. Either way, it’s a challenging moment so let’s be extra sensitive and caring with others,” Zimmer wrote to the agency’s employees.

Across Hollywood, agents, studio executives, producers and thousands of rank-and-file employees showed up at work Wednesday in a daze. A majority of Hollywood’s power brokers and up-and-comers supported Clinton. Her roster of donors reads like a who’s who of Hollywood, including Universal’s Ron Meyer, Jeff Shell and Donna Langley, Warner Bros.’ Kevin Tsujihara, Sue Kroll and Toby Emmerich, Paramount’s Brad Grey, Sony’s Michael Lynton, 20th Century Fox’s Stacey Snider and Disney’s Alan Horn. Harvey Weinstein, Legendary’s Thomas Tull, CAA’s Bryan Lourd and ICM’s Chris Silbermann also were donors, and many top figures, including Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes and stars including Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney, hosted events for Clinton. (Entry to an August fundraiser hosted at Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel’s house was $100,000 per couple.)

Justin Timberlake and Jessica Beil with their hero...

Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel with their hero…

There was also super PAC money organized by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Univision’s Haim Saban on top of their personal contributions. All told, the Center for Responsive Politics reports Clinton garnered $22 million in contributions from the entertainment industry, compared to a mere $290,000 for Trump.

Now Clinton’s stunning defeat has left Hollywood in shock — and questioning whether it is out of touch with a wide swath of the country by assuming Clinton would win.

gee-ya-think

Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, who runs management and production company Grandview-Automatik, grouped his staff together for a company talk. “It was a heart-to-heart, and we talked through a lot of things,” says Kavanaugh-Jones, whose recent producer credits include the new interracial romance drama Loving. “One point that was brought up was that Hollywood can be a bit sheltered from the rest of the country, so it’s important that we are all open to hearing other people’s points of view and try to reach out across the aisle and hopefully they’ll reach back.”

baby laughing

Like UTA’s Zimmer, WME Global head Graham Taylor also sent an email attempting to rally the agency’s staff around 1 a.m. Wednesday after the news networks had called the election for Trump.

“While I had hoped for a different outcome for a myriad of reasons, I do strongly believe tomorrow we all have a united challenge to come together as a company,” Taylor wrote. “We have colleagues and clients that are both happy and upset. We have a divided country, a disrupted globe, and the level of fear and cynicism is unprecedented both in our business and the world at large.”

The major film and television studios were similarly taking stock, but top executives were loath to speak out publicly, since their companies will now have to work with a Trump administration after Democratic President Barack Obama’s eight-year administration comes to an end in January. At MGM’s offices, for instance, there was no formal note from management, but executives “have been consoling each other,” with some employees shedding tears, says one insider.

The mood inside another studio’s animation department was akin to an Irish wake, according to an insider, with employees dressed in black, gathered in a communal kitchen nursing a collective hangover.

Another top studio executive tells THR he is “completely devastated” by Clinton’s loss. Still another notes the paucity of phone calls coming in Wednesday morning as the industry focused on Clinton’s concession speech, followed by President Obama’s live address. “Safe to say it’s been an unusually quiet morning,” says the exec.

“It feels weird to conduct business as usual,” says a producer elsewhere. “How can we focus on make-believe stories when the real world seems to need so much help?”

The mood was decidedly “quiet and morose” inside UTA, a major talent brokerage that boasts Will Ferrell, Channing Tatum, and Joel and Ethan Coen among its clients. Stunned employees sat quietly in rows of desks Wednesday morning, reading Zimmer’s missive urging staff to contact clients and assuage their fears.

The question on everyone lips this morning was “How?” How could the vast polling and political punditry complex have been so far off — and how did no one inside Hollywood, save for Michael Moore, see this historic upset coming?

And yet one established Hollywood agent has a different take, even though he voted for Clinton. “This is a town that rewards disgusting behavior, so people being upset is hypocritical,” says the agency partner. “What the cool kids are upset about is that someone they don’t like and someone who is not part of the cool kids, won. Time to grow up and move on.

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Disney, Paramount and Warners Flunk GLAAD’s LGBT Report Card

Walt Disney signature

From the Hollywood Reporter: When it comes to portraying LGBT people onscreen, the Hollywood studios are falling behind the rest of the media, with three of the studios — Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros. — all receiving failing grades, according to GLAAD, the LGBT advocacy group, which released its annual studio report card yesterday.

The group’s fourth annual Studio Responsibility Index found that of 126 releases from the major studios, only 22 of them, or 17.5 percent, included LGBT characters. That percentage was exactly the same as the percentage recorded in 2014.

President of GLAAD, Sarah Kate Ellis

President of GLAAD, Sarah Kate Ellis

“Hollywood’s films lag far behind any other form of media when it comes to portrayals of LGBT characters,” Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD president and CEO said in releasing the report. “Too often, the few LGBT characters that make it to the big screen are the target of a punchline or token characters. The film industry must embrace new and inclusive stories if it wants to remain competitive and relevant.

No studio received a rating of “Good” for its 2015 releases. Lionsgate (which included LBGT characters in 33 percent of its movies), Sony (19 percent), Universal (19 percent) and Fox (12 percent) received “Adequate” marks, while Warners (20 percent) and  Paramount and Disney — neither of which included any LGBT characters in any of their movies —  got “Failing” grades.

While Disney focuses on family films, the report observed in its analysis, “As recent successful animated films and TV programs have shown (Oscar-nominated ParaNorman, Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe), LGBT people appearing in “all-ages” programming — animated or not — is not the impossible notion it once was. LGBT people are already part of families and communities around the world, and films of all genres should reflect that.”

And given that Disney also releases the Marvel and LucasFilm movies, it also argued, “As sci-fi projects have the special opportunity to create unique worlds whose advanced societies can serve as a commentary on our own, the most obvious place where Disney could include LGBT characters is in the upcoming eighth Star Wars film. 2015’s The Force Awakens has introduced a new and diverse central trio, which allows the creators opportunity to tell fresh stories as they develop their backstory. Recent official novels in the franchise featured lesbian and gay characters that could also be easily written in to the story.”

get hard movie

While the overall percentage of 2015 films with gay characters remained flat, the report pointed to “a noticeable resurgence of outright offensive depictions of LGBT, which relied on gay panic and defamatory stereotypes for cheap laughs. It cited two Kevin Hart comedies, Get Hard and The Wedding Ringer for containing “more blatant and incessant gay panic humor than we have seen in a Hollywood film in years” as well as Hot Tub Time Machine 2.

Some of the studio’s specialty film divisions turned in better showings, with Universal’s Focus Features, which distributed The Danish Girl, showing LGBT characters in 30 percent of its movies, and Sony Pictures Classics, which handled Grandma, starring Lily Tomlin, checking in at 28 percent, and Roadside Attractions at 20 percent. Fox Searchlight had no LGBT characters among its 2015 releases.

Of the 46 films released by the specialty labels, ten, or 22 percent, were LGBT-inclusive, a higher percentage than found among the studio films. That number was up from 10.6 percent in 2014.

The report called for greater diversity, noting that the LBGT characters who did appear in studio release in 2015 were mostly white (73 percent) and male (77 percent).

It also said that transgender representation in the mainstream movies was “shockingly low” with only one transgender character making a brief appearance in Warners’ Hot Pursuit to serve as a punchline.

Gaystapo

Expressing frustration with the lack of representation in the 2015 films, GLAAD said that moving forward, that an “Adequate” rating wasn’t good enough and that in next year’s report, it plans to hold studios “to a higher standard to reflect the quality and quantity of LGBT representation we are now seeing in other media. Films must do better to include LGBT characters in roles directly tied to plot and which reflect the wide diversity of our community, including people of color, those living with disabilities, and a variety of geographical and ideological backgrounds.”

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