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As 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Heads Toward Release, Universal Is Calling Shots (FIRST LOOK)

As the movie version of the bestselling erotic novel "50 Shades of Grey" heads for release on February 13, 2015, the Focus Features marketing is starting to roll out. The sexy Interview cover and less provocative headshot of Jamie Dornan, the Northern Irish actor ("Once Upon a Time") finally cast as S & M master Christian Grey, were duly unveiled on Facebook.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 18, 2014 6:00 PM
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End of an Era: Only Woman Studio Distribution Chief Nikki Rocco To Step Down

When the first --and only--female distribution chief at a major studio lasts for 18 years at her job, she's damned good at it. Well, Universal Pictures distribution president Nikki Rocco is finally stepping down at the end of 2014 after 47 years at the studio--it's the only place she ever worked.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 22, 2014 3:50 PM
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As CinemaCon Wraps, Hollywood Needs to Learn Popcorn Time (Studio Roundups, DEMO VIDEO)

We wrap up studio-by-studio takeaways from the exhibitor convention CinemaCon in Las Vegas, as movie theaters and studios are stuck in an old paradigm. And then there's Popcorn Time.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 28, 2014 8:58 PM
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Review Roundup: Waiting Five Years Didn't Save Samurai Epic '47 Ronin'

Apparently, a five-year production schedule, cycles of reshoots and a yearlong theatrical delay couldn't save the 3-D martial arts action film "47 Ronin" starring Keanu Reeves, a virtual absentee from the big screen these last few years. With eight reviews and counting, the Reeves Samurai epic currently sits at 14% on the Tomatometer.
  • By Ryan Lattanzio
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  • December 23, 2013 1:58 PM
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  • 2 Comments

'Fast & Furious' 7 Moves Back to 2015

In the wake of a postponement in mid-production due to the death of actor Paul Walker in a Valencia car crash on November 30, Universal Pictures is moving "Fast and Furious 7" from July 11, 2014, to Friday, April 10, 2015.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 23, 2013 2:03 AM
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Universal Shuts Down Production on 'Fast & Furious 7,' LA County Coroner Deems Car Crash Deaths Accidental

Universal has halted production on "Fast & Furious 7" in order to figure out how to proceed with the production without valued cast member Paul Walker, who died last weekend of thermal injuries in a fatal car accident.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 4, 2013 2:11 PM
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Universal May Give 'Fast & Furious' Director Lin Another Franchise: 'Bourne'

Universal may hang on to their star director Justin Lin, who has delivered and then some with the multi-ethnic 'Fast & Furious' series (5 & 6 delivered $628 and 788 million worldwide respectively). They discussing giving him their franchise plum: the next 'Bourne' installment.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 8, 2013 4:56 PM
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Universal Replaces Schamus with Schlessel to Expand Focus Features Brand

Universal is under new management. And another specialty division bites the dust. I may be overstating it, but safe to say, the old Focus Features--a high-class specialty division with an eye for awards worthy content--is no more. Longtime Focus CEO and co-founder James Schamus, a New Yorker of discernment who managed to work within a major studio's financial expectations for 12 years, is finally leaving the specialty division.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 2, 2013 3:06 PM
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  • 4 Comments

Festival Hits 'Prisoners,' 'Enough Said' and 'Rush' Post Strong Openings

Three film festival hits, "Prisoners" (Warner Bros.), "'Enough Said" (Fox Searchlight) and "Rush" (Universal) launched the parade of awards contenders at the fall box office. All three showed solid initial results. Wide release "Prisoners" easily took the #1 slot on Friday. Among the two limited platform openers Nicole Holofcener's romantic comedy "Enough Said," starring the James Gandolfini and Julia-Louis Dreyfuss, scored an upset by having a slightly better per screen average than Ron Howard's Formula One biofilm "Rush" in their New York/Los Angeles debuts.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • September 21, 2013 3:32 PM
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How to Make Sense of the Universal Shake-Up

It doesn't matter if you turn the studio around and score the number one summer market share. The firing of Universal co-chairman Adam Fogelson reminds us that what matters is whether or not your bosses like you. I remember seeing Adam Fogelson speak at CinemaCon a few years ago, when he was head of marketing at Universal. I thought he came off cocky. The man does not lack for confidence.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 12, 2013 10:36 PM
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