Chronicles of Riddick surpasses Riddick who takes 7.3 million box office pot; French animation on the rise as French animation companies get their share; Disney wins dismissed copyright lawsuit with Marvel’s Stan Lee Media

 

The Riddick predecessor wins again! I’m Realistic Fish Head. With Hollywood hit hard by labor issues, movie companies are desperately making sure that the disappointing report will come to pass. Universal’s new film Riddick, the sequel to Chronicles of Riddick topped 7.3 million, wasn’t enough to pass through its previous record back in 2004. What was the problem in this film unlike the last one had Gene?

 

Gene:

Universal reports Riddick grabbed $7.3 million on Friday, lower than initial estimates had suggested would be possible earlier on Friday. The opening day figure for Vin Diesel’s sequel was down a noticeable 26 percent from the $9.9 million first day take of 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick. That puts the film on target for a modest $18.1 million opening frame.

Not even the addition of IMAX grosses or Vin Diesel’s career comeback could help muster up a stronger debut for the dormant franchise. Opening on the first weekend after a very crowded summer where audiences had their fill of action movies is also proving to have been a strategic misstep.

Early word of mouth appears to be questionable, too, with the pic’s Flixster user rating down to 72 percent after having previously boasted a 98 percent anticipation score less than two days ago. As mentioned earlier, however, the overseas potential of Riddick should still be enough to send the film into successful territory. The film is reported to have cost just $35-40 million (less than half of Chronicles’ production budget) before marketing expenses.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler will concede its three-week reign in first place to the weekend’s new release. The hit drama was down about 35 percent Friday-to-Friday with $2.37 million yesterday. The film’s total is now $85.37 million. Look for Butler to bring in $8.5 million for the weekend.

We’re the Millers brought in $2.3 million on Friday, off just 27 percent from the same day last week. Its domestic tally is now $118.22 million. Expect an $8 million weekend.

Lionsgate reports a $1.64 million Friday take for their sleeper hit, Instructions Not Included. The Spanish comedy expanded into 717 theaters this weekend following a surprising performance over the Labor Day frame. The pic’s sophomore frame is expected to bring in $6.6 million as a whole.

One Direction: This Is Us continued to show its front-loaded nature as the film dropped 87 percent from its opening day last week to $1.165 million on Friday. The film’s 8-day haul is $21.06 million and should bank $3.6 million Friday through Sunday.

Lastly, the re-expansion of This Is the End pulled a solid $585,000 on Friday, pushing its domestic gross up to $97.5 million. The total weekend haul should be around $1.9 million, significantly increasing the comedy’s odds of reaching the important $100 million milestone.

 

To recap, Riddick makes his triumphant return to battle monsters 1st, The Butler moves 2nd after making a Labor Day win last week, The Millers keep pace in 3rd, Instructions Not Included holds over in 4th, Sony One Direction drops down to 5th as the Biber reclaims the biography movie throne.

 

With Fall TV season underway, some new shows such as Xiaolin Chronicles and Chipmunks and Chipettes, French animation has taken US TV by storm. With other shows such as these two and including the ones making a comeback Perch, what are other French bidders looking for to make use of the new shows we might be watching soon?

 

Perch Perkins(via Variety)- In light of the smashing B.O. triumph of “Despicable Me” and its sequel, “Despicable Me 2,” France’s toon industry has never been so appealing to U.S. studios and TV networks, which are looking to feed their pipelines and tap into Gaul’s talent pool and funding incentives.

Into this market dynamic steps the Biarritz-set TV France Intl. Rendez-Vous, organized by Mathieu Bejot. The annual event will showcase a wide range of original or franchise-based animated series projects developed by some of France’s most powerful producers, in collaboration with U.S. partners.
 

Some major initiatives:
•Gaumont Animation bought TV rights to British author Enid Blyton’s 1949 “Noddy” (“Oui-Oui” in French) franchise from DreamWorks Classics and is developing a series about the little wooden boy for pubcaster France Televisions.
•Kidvid production company Genao, owned by Lagardere, is producing two skeins, “The Chipmunks and Chipettes,” based on “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” and “Xiaolin Chronicles,” based on “Xiaolin Showdown,” in co-production with their respective American right shoulders: Ross and Janice Bagdasarian at Bagdasarian Prods. and “Xiaolin Showdown” creator Christy Hui at ActionFliks.
•Zodiak-owned Marathon Media, the outfit behind “Totally Spies” and “Gormiti,” is producing “Blake and the Aliens,” a comedy about a 12-year-old boy chased by alien squirrels from the future, with Nickelodeon in the U.S. and Gulli in France.

France has always been considered a toon hotspot, thanks in part to such animation schools as Les Gobelins. The fact that “Despicable Me” and its sequel were entirely made at Paris-based Illumination
Mac Gu with budgets in the $70 million range and grossing $543 million and $720 million (and counting) worldwide, respectively, has only bolstered the reputation of local talent and facilities.

“ The family and kids market is very competitive, so when there’s a huge hit on the playing field everyone tends to take notice,” says Rich Magallanes, senior VP at Nickelodeon Animation.

As Marathon Media general manager David Michel points out, “ There are very few solid animation companies that are still thriving. Most are in France and Canada, and people in the industry are aware of this.”

“With the development of their international channels, U.S. companies like Turner, Disney and Nickelodeon are increasingly looking to work with local producers to build content for their pipelines,” says Gaumont animation topper Pierre Belaisch, an industry vet who launched Gulli, the first French youth-skewed channel, in 2005.

Concurs Magallanes, “We’re casting our net wide in order to stay ahead of the competition .”

That’s not to say that Nick and other U.S. networks aren’t picky about the local producers they want to partner with. “The challenges in any co-production, especially when dealing internationally, are time and communication (as well as) language barriers and sensibilities,” Magallanes says. “The benefits of working with an establishment like Marathon ultimately lie in the fact that they’re a proven entertainment company that has a history of making hits for kids.”

For Nickelodeon it’s a win-win scenario, argues Michel. “They’re able to fashion a program for their audiences with half the budget of an inhouse-produced Nickelodeon series.”

But there’s more than animation talent behind the success of France’s toon biz. There are also a slew of rules and regulations that, in effect, subsidize it. For one thing, Gallic broadcasters are required to back local film and animation in multiple ways. For instance, as a youth channel, Gulli must dedicate 42% of its entire morning programing to French animated programs. Also, state backed  subsidies and tax breaks cover 10%-80% of series budgets.

But when all is said and done, the giant U.S. market is a major lure, and collaborating with a American network or producer from the get-go also offers many upsides to French animation producers.

“When you’re making a program hoping to sell it to the U.S. once it’s completed, you’re sort of shooting in the dark. On ‘Blake and the Aliens,’ the fact that we’re working with high-level American creatives from the start to craft a series that will perfectly fit Nickelodeon’s positioning helps us move in the right direction,” says Michel, adding that “Blake” marks Marathon’s first full-on collaboration with a U.S. network on a toon skein from the development stage.

U.S. studios are also increasingly trusting French animation companies to reboot prized franchises with a modern and international flavor.

DreamWorks Classics chose Gaumont Animation over various European contenders, per Belaisch. “We’re a full-service animation studio backed by a 118-year-old fi lm company that has a track record in France and abroad, so that undeniably gives us a lot of credit,” says the exec, adding that DreamWorks is actively involved in the development of “Noddy” to make sure the series retains the franchise’s DNA.

Belaisch added Gaumont Animation wants to work more closely with U.S. majors on the development of shows for the U.S. market and overseas and will tap into the contacts of Gaumont Intl. Television, the shingle’s Los Angeles-based arm, to gain access.

“Ultimately, trans-Atlantic link-ups between France and American talent are all about combining the best of both worlds,” says Sandrine Nguyen, who runs Genao with Boris Hertzog and is producing “Chipmunks” and “Xiaolin.” “In France, we have great animation schools, as well as talented directors and character designers but we still have a lot to learn from American storyboard artists and scriptwriters .”

 

We’ve been looking into the Disney-Marvel combo for a while and that got us thinking, what if Disney somehow got hold of another Marvel typed media company? That’s what happened Thursday Angie. What do you say to this?

 

Angie Angelfish (via Dateline Hollywood)- Turns out the Walt Disney Company really does own the rights to the Marvel characters created by Stan Lee, at least according to a federal judge today. U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez Thursday granted with prejudice Disney’s motion to dismiss Stan Lee Media’s multibillion-dollar lawsuit superhero copyright suit. In his 11-page order, Martinez did little to hide his annoyance with the litigious SLMI. “Plaintiff has tried time and again to claim ownership of those copyrights; the litigation history arising out of the 1998 Agreement stretches over more than a decade and at least six courts,” he wrote of the company’s many legal moves.

This latest attempt started in mid-October 2012 when SLMI filed a copyright infringement complaint seeking the profits from the $5.5 billion it said that Disney made from Marvel superhero movies and merchandise based on characters created by Lee. In its suit, SLMI claimed that Lee, who no longer has anything to do with the company with his name, signed over the rights to comic book characters like Iron Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Spider-Man and many more that he created or would create to its corporate predecessor in October 1998 for shares in the company. In November 1998, Lee signed an agreement with Marvel handing over the rights to the same characters. In late November 2012, Disney, who purchased Marvel for $4 billion in 2009, filed its motion to dismiss, calling the lawsuit is “completely frivolous.” The November 30 motion to dismiss, like the initial suit by SLMI, was filed in Colorado.

Judge Martinez obviously agreed with Disney and he wants to make sure that SLMI think twice before trying to use the courts in such a manner again. “Taking its cue from the Southern District of New York and the Central District of California, this Court holds that Plaintiff is precluded from re-litigating the issue of its ownership of copyrights based on the 1998 Agreement, which issue was decided against it,” he wrote today. Disney was represented by James Quinn, R. Bruce Rich and Randi W. Singer of New York’s Weil Gotshal & Manges and Frederick J. Baumann and Holly Ludwig of Denver firm Rothgerber Johnson & Lyons. Stan Lee Media was represented by John McDermott of the Denver office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and Robert Chapman and Jon Jamison Hill out of the LA’s Eisner Kahan Gorry Chapman Ross & Jaffe.

 

Checking the Penguins tally, 348 fans sign in as they get closer to Team Skipper’s goal. Meanwhile, they receive a special screening as Team Monster prepares to return next week.

 

One week from Saturday, Nick invades The Big Apple as Nick’s Worldwide Day of Play makes its return! Thousands of kids are currently getting active by playing sports, exercising, or just having fun. With plenty of guest appearances and new episodes of Sanjay and Craig, Rabbids Invasion, and Monsters vs. Aliens, our Nicktoon friends are positively getting active! This is Realistic Fish reminding you to get up, get out, and go play!

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