The Playlist

Discuss: Does America Want To See Their Kinks At The Multiplex With 'Fifty Shades Of Grey'?

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 26, 2012 1:12 PM
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  • 6 Comments
There is no doubt that films aimed squarely at women is an underserved market. Every year there is a title or two that does solid business (think "Julie & Julia," "Eat Pray Love," "The Help") that makes Hollywood act surprised that if you give that demographic quality product, they'll turn out to see it. And so, it's not really much of shock that one of the hottest books of the year for women started a studio bidding war.

Universal Scares 'Ouija' Back To Life For 2013 Release, But As A Cheapie $5 Million Movie Instead Of $100 Million Blockbuster

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 5, 2012 3:12 PM
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  • 0 Comments
With studios no longer willing to take expensive bets, the name of the game these days has been Return On Investment. Universal spent most of the last year dumping a number of expensive projects, and severing their relationship with Hasbro which spawned the $200 million soggy blockbuster "Battleship." So far in 2012, the studio is batting .500 with two hits -- "Contraband" and "Safe House" -- and two flops in "Big Miracle" and "Wanderlust" (seriously, what is wrong with everyone, this movie is fun). But it seems one project they axed has found it's way back into development.

Universal Buys New Spy Franchise From Josh Zetumer, Scribe Behind Unused 'Bourne 4' Script

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • February 15, 2012 5:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Let's rewind back to the fall of 2009 shall we? It was ugly time inside the offices of Universal, as executives were in a battle with Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon a fourth entry in the Jason Bourne series. Not to rehash the whole drama, but essentially, George Nolfi had penned a draft that wasn't quite working and without consulting Paul Greengrass, Universal brought in Josh Zetumer to write a "parallel" script for consideration. Coming into the gig, Zetumer was a hot name, if not quite known outside Hollywood just yet. His name was a staple of the Black List and he already had "The Infiltrator" in development with Leonard DiCaprio's company Appian Way, and wrote a draft for Peter Berg's ultimately aborted "Dune." And while "Bourne 4" never came to pass, the script was still knocking around it seems some light bulbs have gone off over at Unviersal.

Universal Revives ‘Dracula Year Zero’ Without Sam Worthington & Alex Proyas; Gary Shore To Direct

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • February 11, 2012 9:15 AM
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  • 0 Comments
With movie projects dying out left and right, it only makes sense that some aborted ideas would be resurrected. Hence, "Dracula Year Zero," a dopily titled period piece about Prince Vlad, the noble-but-doomed hero who later became known as Vlad the Impaler, and later Blacula Dracula. Originally, Sam Worthington was set to star for director Alex Proyas. However, the "Dark City" helmer abandoned the film to take on the now-dead "Paradise Lost," ostensibly taking Worthington with him, and setting the stage for newbie director Gary Shore to adopt the project from a new script by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless.

Adam Sandler To Co-Write & Produce 'Candyland' For Sony

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 31, 2012 4:00 PM
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  • 3 Comments
As if the idea of a "Candyland" movie wasn't bad enough, along comes Adam Sandler. Continuing their purge of Hasbro-related franchises -- which saw "Stretch Armstrong" go to Relativity yesterday -- Universal has let their deal on "Candyland" expire as well, as Sony Pictures and Sandler's Happy Madison production shingle will now take it on. Good lord.

'Stretch Armstrong' Hits Theaters On April 11, 2014 But Not With Taylor Lautner; Relativity Producing Instead Of Universal

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 30, 2012 1:18 PM
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  • 2 Comments
2011 was the year of the great purge over at Universal. A sudden round of belt-tightening saw the studio put the brakes on a number of projects ("At The Mountains Of Madness" and "The Dark Tower" among the most high profile), but no relationship was cut more severely than the one with toymaker Hasbro. With Universal in deep to the tune of $200 million for "Battleship," they wisely realized that maybe this whole turning toys in to movies thing isn't such a hot idea and over the last twelve months dropped a number of those projects that were brewing including “Monopoly,” “The Gathering,” “Magic,” "Clue" and "Ouija" (though Hasbro is continuing to develop them). And you can now add one more to the body count.

Weekend Box Office: Audiences Smuggle 'Contraband' Into The Number One Spot Over 'Beauty & The Beast 3D'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • January 15, 2012 1:43 PM
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  • 2 Comments
After a year which sported the lowest attendance numbers in sixteen years, studios are looking for all the bright sides they can find. Thus far, 2012 has provided them, with big number one debuts for a cheap horror acquisition and, now, a solidly mid-budgeted star vehicle. "Contraband" nailed the top spot this weekend, of the four day holiday weekend, that was slightly down from last year. However, this is a solid win for Universal, who spent $40 million on the Mark Wahlberg project, gambling that the film would open uncharacteristically big for an R-rated January offering.

Universal Thinking About 'Bridesmaids' Sequel Without Kristen Wiig

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 4, 2012 2:04 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Universal had a pretty bumpy 2011, but one very bright spot on their balance sheet was the modestly budegeted, Judd Apatow produced, R-rated hit "Bridesmaids." The film was nothing short of a sensation, powering its way to $288 million worldwide, but before word could even begin to get knocked around about a sequel, the film's co-writer, co-producer and star Kristen Wiig pretty much put the kibosh on returning. She's played coy whenever asked about the prospects of a "Bridesmaids 2," but this fall her co-star in the film (and in the upcoming "Friends With Kids") Jon Hamm stated bluntly, "I don't think Kristen is going to do it."

Universal Lands Angelina Jolie & Luc Besson's Dramatic Thriller

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • December 12, 2011 4:53 PM
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  • 2 Comments
After a year spent canceling a bunch of projects, ranging from R-rated fare like "At The Mountains Of Madness," potential awards season dramas like "Memphis," ambitious multi-platform franchise endeavors like "The Dark Tower" and a slate of bad idea brand movies like "Ouija," it looks like Univeral is ready to roll the dice on an original project once again. That it has one of the biggest movie stars on the planet in a lead role certainly doesn't hurt.

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