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Casting Net: Tom Cruise developing 'Jack Reacher' sequel; Plus, Jason Momoa in talks for 'Batman vs. Superman,' more

• Tom Cruise is developing a follow-up to 2012’s Jack Reacher with Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions. The sequel will be based on Lee Child‘s Never Go Back — the 18th book in the series — where Jack is faced with a new commanding officer and a possible return to Army service. No writer or director is attached to the pic, but according to the report, all hope that Christopher McQuarrie, who directed the first film and is currently working on prepping Mission: Impossible 5 with Cruise, will return. [Deadline]
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The EW Popularity Index: Which 2012 movies had legs at the box office?

There’s no arguing who won the 2012 box-office: The Avengers smashed the competition, making $623.4 million. The Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games, Skyfall, and Breaking Dawn Part 2 also recorded blockbuster grosses, and the executives responsible for these hits can pat themselves on the backs for delivering the goods, which in these cases did not come cheap. The top 10 movies on last year’s box-office list cost, on average, more than $175 million each to produce — and that’s before a dime was spent on the marketing of a film and all the other fine-print considerations that eat into the profits.

But there’s more than one way to judge a film’s success, and while every producer might prefer to be in The Avengers‘ position, other, more modest films can claim victory as well. Back in 2005, EW devised a Popularity Index, which measured a film’s staying power in theaters; we’ve tweaked it only slightly this year to recognize the increasing number of platform releases. To get the index, we simply divided a movie’s total domestic gross by its biggest weekend tally — normally its opening frame, but not always.

The result is 10 movies that didn’t have record-breaking opening weekends, but they had legs. Many of them started slowly and gained steam as awards season heated up. Others were initially seen as disappointments, but then they just refused to go away, playing week after week to decent crowds. Most all of them had that rumored-to-be-extinct Hollywood creature: The Movie Star. Beancounters might prefer to be on that other box-office list, but the Popularity Index captures elements of quality that studios shouldn’t overlook.

Click below for the 2012 Popularity Index Top 10. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'The Hobbit' outdraws 'Django' and 'Les Mis' with $32.9 million

Bilbo-Baggins

Despite the arrival of two holiday heavyweights, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey retained the top spot at the box office for the third weekend in a row.

Warner Bros.’ $250 million fantasy prequel was held out of the top spot from Tuesday until Thursday by Les Miserables, but over the traditional weekend frame Hobbit dipped only 11 percent to bring in $32.9 million, and its domestic total now stands tall at $222.7 million. After 17 days, The Hobbit is performing well ahead of 2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring, which had earned $189.3 million at the same point in its run (though that number climbs to about $260 million after accounting for inflation), but it still trails the 17-day cumes of The Two Towers ($243.6 million), and The Return of the King ($272.8 million). Notably, those films did not have 3D or IMAX surcharges boosting their totals. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'The Hobbit' journeys back to No. 1; 'Django' and 'Les Mis' stay strong

UNEXPECTED-JOURNEY

Snowstorms in the northeast may be limiting moviegoing attendance this weekend, but inclement weather won’t stop Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf from ringing in the New Year in style.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey returned to the top of the box office on Friday, crossing the $200 million mark in the process. The $250 million Warner Bros. release grossed an estimated $10.7 million on Friday, putting it on pace for a $31 million weekend, which would bring its total to about $221 million and lift its worldwide cume past $600 million. READ FULL STORY

Box Office Report: 'The Hobbit' holds number one spot, 'Jack Reacher' and 'This is 40' disappoint

AN-UNEXPECTED-JOURNEY_510x317.jpg

It was a fairly slow weekend at the box office.

Despite a record-breaking opening, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey experienced a significant 57% drop off in its second week, bringing in an estimated $36.7 million, with an $8,952 per screen average. This brings The Hobbit’s ten-day gross to $149.9 million, tracking about 8% behind The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’s ten-day gross.

Paramount’s Jack Reacher (Cinema Score: A-) opened this past weekend in second place with a modest $15.6 million. Based on the popular Lee Child-created character, the Tom Cruise action flick has been somewhat of a box office wild card and will have to struggle to maintain momentum to make up the costs for the $60 million production. The weekend prior to the Christmas holiday isn’t usually the strongest at the box office, but last year Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol opened wide on December 21 at $29.6 million. As many have already mentioned, Jack Reacher fans are perhaps put off by the casting, since the character is supposed to be physically imposing at 6’5″.

Judd Apatow’s comedy This is 40 (Cinema Score: B-) also opened this weekend at $12 million to take third place. Though not abysmal, it doesn’t hold a candle to the $22.7 million, number one opening for Funny People, Apatow’s last directorial effort. But of course, Funny People starred Adam Sandler, which likely contributed to the strong opening. A sort of-sequel to Knocked Up (which opened at $30.7 million), This is 40 stars Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, and Albert Brooks, and boasts an impressively large cast including John Lithgow, Jason Segel, Chris O’Dowd, Megan Fox, Michael Ian Black, and Lena Dunham. But the 134-minute run time and Paul Rudd’s relatively low box office draw may have contributed to the low first weekend earnings.

Things did not fare as well for other weekend openings, including the Barbara Streisand and Seth Rogen road trip comedy The Guilt Trip (Cinema Score: B-) and Monsters, Inc. 3D, both of which failed to break the top five, bringing in $5.4 million and $5 million, respectively.

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Box office update: 'The Hobbit' plummets to $10.2M on Friday, but easily leads 'Jack Reacher' and 'This is 40'

Sure, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey set a December record last weekend when it opened with $84.5 million, but after eight days in theaters, it’s now clear that the Lord of the Rings prequel is running well behind the final LOTR film, The Return of the King, which earned $377.8 in 2003 — without 3D and IMAX surcharges.

The Hobbit dropped by a huge 73 percent from its first Friday to $10.2 million yesterday, which puts it on pace for a $33 million weekend. That would give The Hobbit a running total of about $147 million by Sunday, its tenth day of release. The Return of the King had earned $190.8 million after 10 days in theaters, and it was only about halfway to its final total, but The Hobbit is falling much faster, and it will need to hold up remarkably well over the holiday to have a shot at $300 million domestically. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'Jack Reacher' leads new releases, but can't compete with 'The Hobbit'

the-hobbit-baggins

Whether or not the world ends tomorrow, things are looking pretty dire for the four new wide releases entering theaters this weekend: Jack Reacher, This is 40, The Guilt Trip, and Monsters Inc. 3D. Of course, December movies need not earn gargantuan grosses on their debut weekends to eventually end up with respectable totals. In 2010, Yogi Bear opened with a weak $16.4 million, but thanks to easy accessibility over the holiday season, when kids are out of school and adults off of work, the film eventually topped out at $100.2 million.

Studios will be hoping for similar endurance from this week’s crop of newcomers — none of them are tracking particularly well, and all of them will likely be crushed by the second weekend of The Hobbit. Here’s how I think the box office might shake out over the Friday-to-Sunday period:

1. The Hobbit – $37 million

The Warner Bros. release has earned $106.5 million in its first six days (for reference, The Return of the King had earned $137.6 million in the same period of time), and it will likely drop by about 55 percent this weekend to $37 million, which would lift its total to about $150 million after ten days. READ FULL STORY

'Jack Reacher' premiere postponed due to Newtown school shooting

Paramount Pictures announced late Friday that tomorrow’s planned world premiere of the Tom Cruise thriller Jack Reacher has been postponed “due to the terrible tragedy in Newtown Connecticut, and out of honor and respect for the families of the victims whose lives were senselessly taken.”

Based on the pulp thrillers by author Lee Child, the PG-13 film opens with a random shooting in a public place as seen through a sniper’s rifle. READ FULL STORY

Tom Cruise perfectly comfortable in Jack Reacher's shoes

Breaking news… author Lee Child’s literary hero Jack Reacher is still six-feet, five-inches tall. And Tom Cruise is still not.

Ever since Cruise was announced to star in a film adaptation of Child’s best-seller, One Shot, some fans of the Reacher novels have dwelled on the fact that Cruise is… well, more point-guard than power-forward. When the Mission: Impossible star introduced the first footage of the Reacher movie at CinemaCon in May, he prefaced the clip by saying, “For those of you who know the books, I’m obviously not 6-foot-5, like Jack Reacher. But Lee felt that I was the right guy to drive fast cars and kick the s–t out of people onscreen.”

But until the movie opens on Dec. 21, Cruise is doomed to answer questions about it. At last night’s London premiere, he explained that Reacher’s size was a “characteristic” rather than a “character,” according to Reuters. “You know, [Child] created the character, I had my own opinion that I didn’t say to Lee, and then he came back and pretty much reflected what I had felt about it,” Cruise said. “But had he said ‘look I’d rather not’, I would not have played the character.”

Watch the Associated Press’s video clip of Cruise discussing Reacher on the red carpet. READ FULL STORY

'Jack Reacher' clip: Tom Cruise takes on 5 guys at once

Tom Cruise clearly packs a powerful punch.

In a new clip from Jack Reacher, which opens in theaters Dec. 21, Cruise stares down — and then beats up — multiple baddies by himself. “Remember,” Cruise says before taking the ringleader down. “You wanted this.”

Based on Lee Child’s popular series of novels, Reacher features Cruise as a rogue ex-military cop. The film is adapted and directed by Christopher McQuarrie.

Check out the clip — with clocks an impressive amount of groin kicks — below: READ FULL STORY

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