Tag: Universal Pictures

Spike Lee’s ‘Do The Right Thing’ Returns to Theaters to Celebrate 30th Anniversary on June 28

According to deadline.comUniversal Pictures plans to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Spike Lee’s groundbreaking and still-topical film Do the Right Thing with a re-mastered 4K restoration that will hit theaters June 28.

In partnership with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and the Criterion Collection, the re-release will include one-week engagements as well as single-day showtimes June 30 at select AMC, Regal Cinemas, Cinemark, and Alamo Drafthouse theaters. There also will be 35mm screenings at select theaters in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin and Brookline, MA.

“When Spike Lee’s revolutionary Do the Right Thing was released by Universal Pictures 30 years ago this June, it ignited a national conversation on race and race relations in America that challenged our assumptions about ourselves and our country and heralded the arrival of a generation-defining filmmaker,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s President of Domestic Theatrical Distribution.

Set during one sweltering summer day on a block of Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, the film follows the interactions among neighborhood characters Mookie (Lee), Sal (Danny Aiello), Da Mayor (Ossie Davis), Mother Sister (Ruby Dee), Mister Señor Love Daddy (Samuel L. Jackson), Tina (Rosie Perez), Buggin Out (Giancarlo Esposito), Jade (Joie Lee), Pino (John Turturro) and Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn). Tensions rise as demands for a black person’s photo be added to the Italians-only Wall of Fame at Sal’s Pizzeria create heated confrontations that ultimately explode into police-instigated violence.

Public Enemy recorded the film’s anthem “Fight The Power,” which remains an influential hip-hop classic to this day (see video below). Lee earned an Original Screenplay Oscar nomination for the film, and Aiello earned a Supporting Actor nod.  On July 23, the Criterion Collection also will celebrate the 30th anniversary with a Blu-ray/DVD release of a director-approved definitive edition featuring the new 4K restoration.

Daniel Kaluuya to Star in Romantic Drama ‘Queen and Slim’ From Writer/Producer Lena Waithe and Director Melina Matsoukas

by Dave McNary via Variety.com

“Get Out” star Daniel Kaluuya is set to lead the independent romance drama “Queen & Slim,” written by Lena Waithe.  “Insecure” and “Master of None” helmer Melina Matsoukas is making her feature directorial debut.

Waithe, known for her work on “Master of None” and “The Chi,” wrote the script based on an original idea and treatment from bestselling author James Frey (“A Million Little Pieces”) and a story by Frey and Waithe. “Queen & Slim” will go into pre-production this October with production commencing in January. Matsoukas and Waithe are still searching for a fresh face for the role of Queen.

“Queen & Slim” is an exploration of America’s social and political climate through the lens of a genre-defying love story. The film centers on a black man and black woman who go on a first date that goes awry after the two are pulled over by a police officer at a traffic stop. They kill the police officer in self-defense and rather than turn themselves in, they go on the run.

Waithe is producing the film through her company, Hillman Grad Productions, along with Matsoukas’ production company De La Revolución Films and Frey’s 3BlackDot. Andrew Coles and Michelle Knudsen are also producing. “To me, this is protest art,” said Waithe. “It’s about being black and trying to fall in love in a world that’s burning down around you.”

Matsoukas said, “It’s a film that defines black love as a revolutionary act. It shows that our union is the greatest weapon against the assault on black people in America.”

“Queen & Slim” will be distributed by Universal Pictures worldwide with eOne handling distribution in select territories including the U.K. and Canada. The film will be released in North America on Nov. 27, 2019.

This is the first film greenlit under Makeready’s recently announced distribution deal with Universal. eOne is Makeready’s lead investor. Brad Weston’s production company, Makeready, is financing the film, along with 3BlackDot.

Kaluuya, who received a best actor nomination at the Oscars for “Get Out,” most recently appeared as W’Kabi in “Black Panther.” In 2017, Lena Waithe became the first black woman to win a comedy writing Emmy for the “Thanksgiving” episode of “Master of None.”

Mastoukas is a two-time Grammy Award winner for her “We Found Love” and Beyonce’s “Formation” music videos.

To read more: https://variety.com/2018/film/news/daniel-kaluuya-romance-queen-and-slim-1202878861/

John Legend to Produce Jason Reynolds’ Best-Selling Novel ‘Long Way Down’ for Universal Pictures

Author Jason Reynolds (top); Producer John Legend (bottom) [Images via Kia Chennelle/Simon and Schuster; Owen Kolasinski/BFA/Rex/Shutterstock]
by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Variety.com, Universal Pictures has optioned the rights to Jason Reynolds best-selling young adult novel “Long Way Down,” which was also a National Book Award finalist. John Legend‘s Get Lifted Film Co. and Michael De Luca‘s Michael De Luca Productions have signed on to produce the film.

Reynolds’ book has an unusual premise – the whole story takes place in 60 seconds, as a young man struggles to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the person who killed his brother.  Additionally, the book is written in free verse and is set in an elevator.

Although Legend is best known for his work as a singer and songwriter, but he has also racked up some major film credits, appearing in the likes of “La La Land” and “Soul Men,” and has produced the television series “Underground.” Legend also shared an Academy Award with rapper Common for best original song in 2015 for writing “Glory” from the film “Selma.”

Reynolds’ novels include “All American Boy” and “As Brave as You.” De Luca is the former president of New Line Cinema as well as an Oscar-nominated producer whose credits include the “Fifty Shades” trilogy, “The Social Network,” and “Moneyball.”

F. Gary Gray Confirms He Will Direct “Furious 8”

F. Gary Gray Furious 8
F. Gary Gray (PICTURE PERFECT/REX SHUTTERSTOCK)

Following Vin Diesel’s news that F. Gary Gray is his choice to direct “Fast and Furious 8,” the “Straight Outta Compton” director has made it official.  The director tweeted Thursday that he has come on board to helm the next installment of the series, which begins filming next year.

https://twitter.com/FGaryGray/status/652181877587992576?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Diesel is back to star along with Dwayne Johnson, Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson. Jason Statham and Kurt Russell are also expected to return.

Diesel is also producing along with Neal Moritz.

Universal, along with Diesel and Moritz, were focused on the search for their next director after “Furious 7” helmer James Wan decided not to helm the eighth installment. Universal went back to Justin Lin, who had previously helmed four of the installments, but his schedule conflicts with “Star Trek 3” forced him to fall out of the running.

Other helmers who were in talks included “The Signal’s” Will Eubank, “The Guest’s” Adam Wingard and Louis Leterrier. Diesel posted on his Facebook Tuesday night that he had met with Gray and was hopeful the helmer would join the shoot, but no deal was made at the time.

Gray had become one of the hottest helmers in town after successfully bringing the N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton” to life. The film not only overperformed at the box office (more than $150 million on a $20 million budget), but drew critical acclaim, so much so that it’s drumming up Oscar buzz.

article by Justin Kroll via Variety.com

“Straight Outta Compton” Debuts to Scorching $56.1 Million to Top Weekend’s Box Office

Straight Outta Compton
PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL

Straight Outta Compton” may take place more than two decades ago, but its themes of racial tension, poverty and police brutality still speak to moviegoers living in a post-Ferguson world.

The biopic about rap group N.W.A. debuted to a blistering $56.1 million this weekend in 2,757 theaters, surpassing “American Pie 2” to become the biggest-ever August debut for an R-rated movie. It’s the kind of opening usually reserved for so-called tentpole movies that trade in costumed heroes and special effects, not urban violence.

“The movie tapped into something in our culture and that made it more of a must-see,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.

Its debut nearly doubles “Straight Outta Compton’s” budget of $29 million in a single weekend, meaning the film could be among the most profitable releases of the summer. N.W.A members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre helped produce the film about the early days of gansta rap and were integral to its marketing campaign.

Universal, the studio behind the music biopic, has been having a year for the ages, as a steady stream of hits such as “Jurassic World,” “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Pitch Perfect 2,”  “Furious 7” and “Minions” have pushed its grosses to record heights. Legendary Pictures co-financed “Straight Outta Compton.”

“Straight Outta Compton’s” success overshadowed the weekend’s other new release, Warner Bros.’ “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” The stylish action-adventure wilted at the megaplexes, bringing in an etiolated $13.5 million from 3,638 theaters. That’s a particularly rough start considering that “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” cost a sizable $75 million to produce.

Universal domestic distribution chief Nick Carpou labeled “Straight Outta Compton” as a “labor of love” that benefited from being dramatically different from the kind of films flooding cinemas in recent months.

“The public was ready for something with a bit more substance that they could identify with,” he said.

The film’s opening weekend crowd was 52% female, 51% under the age of 30, 46% African-American, 23% Caucasian, 21% Hispanic and 4% Asian. It did not play in Imax or 3D, but did score in premium large format locations, where it grossed $5.1 million, representing 9% of the film’s weekend receipts.

In second place, Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” continued to get a lift from strong word-of-mouth, picking up $17 million in its third weekend. That brings the fifth film in the spy franchise’s North American haul to $138.1 million.

Fox’s “Fantastic Four” dropped steeply in its second weekend, falling nearly 70% from its debut and mustering a paltry $8 million. The film ranks as one of the biggest comicbook movie flops in history, having earned a meagre $42 million Stateside.

STX Entertainment’s “The Gift” rounded out the top five, earning $6.5 million this weekend and pushing its domestic total to $23.6 million.

Final numbers are still being tallied, but it looks as though “Straight Outta Compton” will bolster ticket sales over the year-ago period when “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” were drawing the biggest crowds.

article by Brett Lang via Variety.com

“Best Man Holiday” Tops All Expectations by Earning $30.6 Million in Opening Weekend

www.best-man-2-cast

Although Thor: The Dark World hung on to the No. 1 spot at the box office this weekend, the big story was a stellar opening for The Best Man Holiday, which trounced all expectations to debut with a studio-estimated $30.6-million.  Disney’s 3-D sequel Thor: the Dark World took in a solid $38.5-million, which represented an expected 55% drop from its opening weekend when it grossed $86 million.

The Best Man Holiday received a coveted average grade of A+ from moviegoers, according to market research firm CinemaScore. That means it joins an elite club of films that have enjoyed long and fruitful box office runs, including Argo, 42, The Help, The King’s Speech, The Blind Side and Titanic.  Going into the weekend, the distributor Universal Pictures projected that The Best Man Holiday would take in a modest $17 million, while prerelease audience surveys indicated the film would start off with around $23 million.

“There’s no crystal ball in guessing this stuff,” said Nikki Rocco, Universal’s president of distribution.  “It was fair to think this film— where 87% of the audience was African American—would open in the high teens.”  That it nearly doubled that estimate is “a phenomenal result,” said Rocco. “I would never have thought in my most non-lucid moment to expect this — the picture only cost $17-million.”  Thanks to the A+ CinemaScore, Rocco says she believes the film will eventually reach a broader audience.

The Best Man Holiday, which is about a group of friends gathering for Christmas, is a sequel to 1999’s The Best Man which grossed $34 million. Both films were directed by Malcolm D. Lee and star a number of the same actors, including Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard and Nia Long.

article by Jessica Gelt via latimes.com

Box Office: ‘Riddick’ Defies Post-Labor Day Slump With $18.7 Million, ‘Butler’ to Second Place

Riddick Movie

Vin Diesel helped light up what is usually a dark post-Labor Day box office period, with Universal’s franchise pic “Riddick” scoring a solid estimated $18.7 million domestically.  The film claimed the weekend’s No. 1 spot, unseating the Weinstein Co.’s “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which stayed strong in second place with $8.9 million. The three-week champ, which fell just 40% in its fourth frame, reached $91.9 million Stateside through Sunday.

Total domestic box office was up over this time last year by roughly 25%, thanks also to a excellent expansion for Lionsgate-Pantelion’s “Instructions Not Included.” The Hispanic-targeted crowdpleaser earned $8.1 million from just 717 locations, up from 384 last weekend, for a U.S. cume now past $20 million.

It was a sci-fi-themed weekend globally: Sony’s futuristic pic “Elysium” ranked first overseas with an estimated $21.2 million, of which China contributed $11.7 million in its first weekend locally. In total, “Elysium” has cumed $127 million internationally and $212 million worldwide.

While “Riddick” defied the post-Labor Day slump, the film still came in on the low-side of expectations. Pic opened with less than its predecessor’s $24 million debut in 2004, but the $38 million three-quel outperformed the original film, 2000′s “Pitch Black,” which grossed $11.6 million during opening weekend.

“We always try to find the right time for the right films,” said Universal distribution prexy Nikki Rocco. “This was an inexpensive venture for Universal, and we wanted Vin to have the No. 1 film.”

Not surprisingly, “Riddick” earned most of its opening from men, at 59%, with Hispanics contributing a sizable 37% of the gross. Imax also helped with fanboy appeal, posting $2.5 million of the domestic opening.

article by Andrew Stewart via variety.com

’42′ Star Chadwick Boseman to Play James Brown

'42' Star Chadwick Boseman to Play
Fernando Leon/Getty Images

According to Variety.com, Universal and Imagine Entertainment have agreed to make the long-gestating James Brown biopic after hiring “42″ star Chadwick Boseman to play the legendary artist known as the “Godfather of Soul.”  “The Help” director Tate Taylor is directing the film with Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Erica Huggins producing, along with Mick Jagger and Victoria Pearman under their Jagged Films banner. 

Jez and John Henry Butterworth wrote the script, which follows Brown’s rise from extreme poverty in Georgia to becoming a world-famous and highly influential R&B musician with a string of hits in the 1960s and ’70s including “Please, Please, Please,” “I Got You (I Feel Good),” “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and many others. Brown died in 2006 at age 73.

Several actors were vying for the role, but Boseman emerged as the top choice a few weeks ago, though no offer could be made until the movie was formally greenlit by Universal. Boseman will be seen next in Summit’s NFL drama “Draft Day” starring Kevin Costner.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson via Variety.com

Denzel Washington’s “2 Guns” Tops Weekend Box Office with $27.4 Million

2guns2 Guns, a buddy cop comedy-thriller featuring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, was the top weekend film in U.S. and Canadian theaters, collecting $27.4 million for Universal Pictures. (CMCSA).  A tale of undercover lawmen trying to catch a drug kingpin, 2 Guns taps the bickering buddy movie formula successfully mined by Hollywood in films such as Lethal Weapon and marks the seventh No. 1 weekend opening this year for Universal, part of Comcast Corp.  “The chemistry is obvious in the film,” Nikki Rocco, president of distribution for Universal Pictures, said in an interview. “Hopefully, it finds its own life in a marketplace that’s very crowded.”

Washington plays Drug Enforcement Administration agent Bobby Trench, while Wahlberg is cast as U.S. naval intelligence officer Marcus Stigman. The two reluctantly work undercover as members of a narcotics syndicate. When their attempt to infiltrate a Mexican drug cartel goes haywire, they are disavowed by their superiors and can only count on each other.  “This is a business where being No. 1 is always wonderful,” Rocco said. “It’s nice to be on a roll.”

Returning film The Wolverine was second with $21.7 million and The Smurfs 2, a family feature combining animation with live action, opened with $18.2 million in receipts for Sony Corp. (6758) to place third.

article via bloomberg.com

“The Best Man Holiday” Official Trailer Released (VIDEO)

Best Man Holiday Cast PhotoThis week, Universal Pictures released the official trailer to The Best Man Holiday, the upcoming sequel to the 1999 film, The Best Man. Writer/director Malcolm D. Lee is at the helm again, and he has reunited his all-star cast of Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Monica Calhoun, Harold Perrineau, Melissa De Sousa and Regina Hall for a story set fifteen years later during the Christmas holidays.  The movie is scheduled for wide release on November 15.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson