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The Playlist

'The Dark Tower' Still Alive At Universal, But Film Delayed And Budget Will Be Trimmed

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • May 13, 2011 12:09 PM
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  • 0 Comments
There's no question, despite the somewhat vanilla nature of its director, that Ron Howard's planned adaptation of "The Dark Tower" is one of the most ambitious projects in years, if not ever. So, despite a trouble-free first few months for the project, we weren't entirely surprised by the rumors last week that Universal, who were meant to be backing the epic three-film, two-TV-series project, were getting cold feet over spiraling costs and were considering scrapping the film entirely.

Weekend Box Office: 'Thor' Soars, Romcoms Prosper, 'Beaver' Gets Plugged

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • May 8, 2011 5:59 AM
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  • 4 Comments
As far as blockbuster debuts go, “Thor” didn’t perform too badly. The first big release of May thundered its way to a $66 million weekend, slightly above what industry analysts predicted for the God of Thunder. The film benefited from the biggest 3D berth of any major release thus far as well as the mighty marketing team of Paramount and Marvel to nab numbers that, on the surface, show potential to be a franchise-starter.

Universal On Verge Of Putting Ron Howard's Epic 'The Dark Tower' Project Into Turnaround

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • May 6, 2011 1:20 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Update: Deadline reports that pre-production has now been put on hiatus and the proposed September start date has been scrapped as Universal works to try and bring down the budget.

Weekend Box Office: 'Fast Five' Starts Off Summer With $83 Million Weekend

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • May 1, 2011 5:21 AM
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  • 27 Comments
Hooray for Hollywood, or something. The 2011 box office finally snapped out of its doldrums with more reheated crap, “Fast Five” opening to a spectacular-for-Universal $83 million. The car blockbuster’s weekend surpasses “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” as the biggest opening weekend in Universal history, and with spectacular overseas results, the film is poised to do upwards of $400-$500 million globally, topping the $353 worldwide take of “Fast And Furious,” the last film in the series.

Box Office: 'Rio' First 2011 Release To Crack $40 Million Opening Weekend; 'Scream' Goes Quiet

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 17, 2011 6:18 AM
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  • 9 Comments
There’s no way to sugarcoat this: it’s been a dismal year at the box office. Studios have their fingers crossed in regards to a tepid-looking summer schedule, but many were hoping the season could be kick(punch)-started early with a strong April, as two new films were tracking well over $40 million this weekend. And it looks like those hopes are for naught, as the number one movie for this period looks to be Fox and Blue Sky’s animated “Rio,” clocking in juuuust about at $40 million for the three day weekend. Yes, Hollywood, it's taken more than four months to register year's first $40 million opening weekend.

Weekend Box Office: 'Hop' Defeats Four Newcomers; 'Your Highness' Flops Loudly And Rudely

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 10, 2011 4:48 AM
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  • 12 Comments
Earlier in the year, the tepid box office returns were something to be ignored, as 2011 was competing with the previous year, with both “Avatar” and then the anomaly of “Alice In Wonderland” each raking in a cool billion. Well, it’s April, and it’s time for Hollywood to panic. There have been no genuine out-of-the-box hits so far this year and lots of flops, and the two (barely) $100 million grossers considered underperformers (“Rango” and “Just Go With It”). Let’s face it, part of it is a failure of marketing, but the blame must be laid on inadequate product. Even when it comes to the early year doldrums, this has been a banner year for garbage.

Allegations Of Infidelity In Paul Greengrass' 'Memphis' Script Troubled Martin Luther King Estate

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 5, 2011 5:52 AM
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  • 10 Comments
Lee Daniels' 'Selma' Also Ran Afoul Of MLK FamilyWe wished it was some kind of cruel April Fool's Day joke, but last Friday it was revealed that Universal was bailing on "Memphis," the Martin Luther King Jr. pic that was written and set to be directed by Paul Greengrass. The project was a big one. It was being prepped to start shooting in June with a release date already targeted for MLK weekend in February 2012. Universal pulled funding and claimed tight scheduling as an issue, however Deadline revealed that the estate of the late civil rights leader was "highly critical" of the film and threatened to openly and publicly condemn the project if it ever went in front of cameras. And now, more details have come to the fore.

Universal Pulls A 'Bait And Switch' For Mark Wahlberg

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 5, 2011 1:44 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Universal Pictures seem to have found a new BFF in Mark Wahlberg. The actor/producer currently has two films in the work for the studio -- the action/thriller "Contraband" and the comedy "Ted" -- and they have now picked up another vehicle to be developed for the star.

Weekend Box Office: Kids Come Out For 'Hop,' 'Sucker' Thoroughly 'Punch'ed

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 3, 2011 5:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
While Universal’s animated division remains behind Disney and Dreamworks, “Hop” became their second straight surprisingly big opening this weekend, collecting $39 million. Most called the heavily-promoted film in the high 20’s, low 30’s, but like “Despicable Me” before it, the film definitely connected with family audiences in its first frame. While “Despicable Me” eventually collected $544 million globally with a much bigger opening, “Hop” isn’t expected to bust the doors down. But due to the seasonal and family appeal, expect this thing to have legs, and while they initially weren’t counting on $100 domestic, that should be easily surmountable from here, with $150 million being a solid preliminary target. Fanciful returns for the studio, who have kept the budgets for the partly-animated “Hop” and the fully animated “Despicable Me” well under the industry-standard $100 million.

Universal Gets Cold Feet, Bails On Backing Paul Greengrass' MLK 'Memphis' Film

  • By The Playlist
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  • April 2, 2011 2:24 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Director Paul Greengrass cannot catch a break it seems. Ever since the documentarian turned feature-length filmmaker bailed on the 4th 'Bourne' movie, he's had a string of bad luck. His Iraq war thriller, "Green Zone" ballooned around the $150 million mark (even though $100 million is the figure released) and the film pulled in a paltry $35 million domestically even with Jason Bourne-lead Matt Damon as the star. Universal took a beating on the film and the friction on that picture is part of what led Greengrass to leave 'Bourne' (though it should be said that, creatively, Damon and Greengrass were exhausted and would have left the franchise regardless). Waiting in the wings all this time was a Jimi Hendrix biopic that Greengrass had been working on since the early aughts and he had even found a star in "Hurt Locker" actor Anthony Mackie, but the Hendrix estate ultimately balked and the project was deep-sixed.

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