For his directorial debut Bad Words, Jason Bateman took on the raunchy underbelly of spelling bee tournaments–or, at least posited a situation where a rule-bending, middle-aged grump forced participants to the lowest common denominator. Now, the Arrested Development star has set his sights on a new project: an untitled “FBI wedding comedy” for Universal Pictures. READ FULL STORY
Tag: Universal (1-10 of 11)
The untimely death of actor Paul Walker this weekend raises numerous questions about the future of the massively popular franchise that made him a star. Production on the seventh installment of Universal’s Fast & Furious films will likely be delayed, and it’s unclear what adjustments will need to be made in the story or how many of Walker’s scenes were left to shoot.
The Hollywood Reporter and Variety reported this weekend that Universal execs met with director James Wan to discuss any necessary rewrites and how to continue production on the film following Walker’s tragic death. The cast was scheduled to continue shooting early this week in Atlanta, but THR reports the crew will likely not be back to work on the film at least until mid-week.
NBC-Universal employees have been told the recasting of Christian Grey in the company’s film version of the erotic best-seller Fifty Shades of Grey will be finalized in the next few weeks.
A company-wide “town hall” on Wednesday covered a variety of subjects, but Fifty Shades was the inevitable hot topic in the wake of last weekend’s announcement that Charlie Hunnam was dropping out as Christian Grey, according to an NBC-Universal employee who attended the meeting.
The source, who requested anonymity because the meeting was private, also said NBCU officials confirmed Fifty Shades will still be released next year and that co-star Dakota Johnson remains committed to her role as Anastasia Steele.
The meeting was held primarily to introduce Jeff Shell, who is taking over as Chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.
In a move that completely changes the personality of Focus Features, Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley announced yesterday that Peter Schlessel will take over for longtime CEO James Schamus. The 54-year-old Schamus co-founded the company in 2001 and built a reputation for Focus as a home for mature prestige pictures like Brokeback Mountain, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Moonrise Kingdom, and Lost in Translation. Schamus was a New Yorker who also taught film at Columbia University, and he was as much identified with his impeccable taste as his trademark bow-tie. Ted Hope, Schamus’ former colleague at Good Machine, tweeted, “To me this really means the end of indie film — as we once knew it… Schamus = superstar.”
Schlessel, a former Sony exec, had been founder and CEO of FilmDistrict, which itself will be absorbed by the new, revamped Focus Features. At FilmDistrict, he’d produced movies like Looper, Drive, and Insidious: Chapter 2, and Universal is turning to him “to maximize its potential by including a greater variety of movies on Focus Features’ film slate.”
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Ride Along, an upcoming buddy comedy from Universal, pairs Kevin Hart’s jittery, fast-talking security guard Ben with Ice Cube’s glowering, tough-as-nails cop James. (So much for effing tha police.)
The premise: Ben is dating Angela (Tika Sumpter, late of Gossip Girl). James, Angela’s overly protective older brother, doesn’t approve of the union — specifically, because Ben is both a “clown” and a “little man-Smurf.” When Ben tells James that he’s planning to propose, the cop asks Ben to prove his worth by coming with him on a ride-along. Think Training Day minus drama, plus Kevin Hart being thrust into a wall by a gun’s recoil.
The Purge scared up quite the box office haul this weekend. Well-surpassing its low budget in its first days in theaters, the Ethan Hawke thriller has already earned what seems to be an increasingly common next step for financially successful movies: a sequel.
Though Jurassic Park 4 recently found its director with Safety Not Guaranteed director Colin Trevorrow, the film just lost its release. In a statement today, Universal announced that it’s moving the film from its June 13, 2014 release to “a later date” — though the studio “could not be more excited” for the film’s vision. Earlier this year the project appeared to be gaining steam again, with original helmer Steven Spielberg on board as executive producer alongside producer Frank Marshall and a script from Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, who rebooted the Planet of the Apes franchise.
No new release date has been set. Read the full statement below:
Harry Potter fans, break out your wands and invisible cloaks.
An inside source confirms to EW that a Potter “mini movie” — following the franchise’s eighth film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 — is being filmed at the Harry Potter studios in Hertfordshire, England with cast members including Helena Bonham Carter (as evil death eater Bellatrix Lestrange).
The mini movie will appear exclusively at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter themed area at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure in Florida, as well as Potter-themed areas under construction at Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Hollywood. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando opened to the fan-frenzied public in 2010.
Universal Orlando spokesman Tom Schroder declined to comment when reached by EW.
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What’s worse than a red room of pain? Hollywood and copyright.
Smash Pictures Inc., the makers of Fifty Shades of Grey: a XXX Adaptation, a porn movie version of the kinky bestseller, are being sued by Universal Studios (which acquired the rights to make a film version) and Fifty Shades Ltd. (a U.K. licensing company) for copyright infringement and false advertising, among other charges.
“Defendants [had a] knowing and willful violation of Plaintiffs’ copyrights in E L James’s bestselling novels Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed (the “Fifty Shades Trilogy”) by way of the production and distribution of adult films that take wholesale the dialogue, characters, and storyline from the Fifty Shades Trilogy,” said the lawsuit filed Tuesday and obtained by EW.
A part of the lawsuit is quotes director of the XXX Adaptation gave to media last year that said the porn would be “very true to the book.” Universal argues in the lawsuit: “XXX Adaptation is not a parody, and it does not comment on, criticize, or ridicule the originals. It is a rip-off, plain and simple.” The suit also features chunks of text from both the book and the movie to show how similar they are.
A spokesperson for Universal did not return EW’s request for comment.
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There’s been a lot of confusion about the state — or existence — of a Snow White & the Huntsman sequel. Released this past June, the film, which starred Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, and Chris Hemsworth, grossed $389.2 million worldwide. But after incriminating pictures surfaced of Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders (Snow White‘s married director), one of the questions many have wondered is how a sequel with Stewart and Sanders could possibly be made.
Last night, the speculation hit a fever pitch when the Hollywood Reporter reported that Stewart has been dropped from any sequel plans (though neither Stewart nor Sanders ever committed to a sequel, which means they can’t actually be dropped from one), saying that Universal is exploring different spin-off options with hopes to start filming in July. Then Deadline reported that the studio is weighing whether they should proceed with a straight sequel or instead have a film that is focused more on the character of the Huntsman (Hemsworth). Meanwhile, Universal says only, “We are exploring options to continue the franchise and no decisions have been made.”
So what’s actually going on here? Nearest we can tell, not much of anything. At this point, Universal seems to be mulling over how to best extend their money-making franchise, and which direction makes the most sense for a sequel, or spin-off, should they opt to make one.
Update: Universal Co-Chairman Donna Langley has released a statement: “We are extremely proud of Snow White and the Huntsman and we’re currently exploring all options to continue the franchise. Any reports that Kristen Stewart has been dropped are false.”
Jodie Foster defends Kristen Stewart, blasts the public for ‘destroying childhoods’
Robert Pattinson on ‘GMA': ‘I’d like my fans to know… ‘
The Kristen Stewart scandal: Why it hurts her image, and helps it
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