Welcome to the Galaxy Guardians edition of Gene Scallop’s entertainment report. Here’s what’s topping today!
Disney and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy scored a 94 million smacker record putting on a head start for August joining Transformers 4, and 3 Marvel heroes Captain America, The Marvel Heroes themselves, and the X-Men. How much did the Guardians make this time Jim?
Jim Fish (via the Hollywood Reporter)- Marvel Studios and Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy grossed a whopping $11.7 million on Monday, the best showing of the summer, save for Memorial Day. It’s also the best Monday gross for any Marvel title outside of The Avengers ($18.9 million).
That puts the tentpole’s four-day domestic total at a pleasing $106 million for director James Gunn after opening to $94.3 million over the weekend, the top August debut of all time and the third-best opening of 2014 so far after Paramount’s Transformers: Age of Extinction ($100 million) and fellow Marvel title Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($95 million).
Still, Guardians of the Galaxy won’t be able to rescue the ailing summer overall in North America, although it has helped to close the gap. Last week, summer revenue was down more than 20 percent; it’s now down by 18.1 percent, according to Rentrak.
Overseas, Guardians has now earned $74.8 million from 42 markets, pushing its early global total to $181.8 million.
The Marvel and Disney tentpole is doing far more business than expected after receiving glowing reviews for its originality and an A CinemaScore from audiences. The movie received the widest release ever for an August title (4,080 theaters), and easily surpassed the debut of previous August record-holder, The Bourne Ultimatum ($69.3 million).
In terms of non-holiday Monday grosses this summer, Age of Extinction took in $10.8 million, followed by $8.8 million for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Godzilla grossed $7.7 million on its first Monday, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, $5 million (both those tentpoles launched in May, when school was still in session).
Featuring a rag-tag group of unlikely galactic heroes, Guardians stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace and Bradley Cooper, who voices the role of Rocket the raccoon. Vin Diesel, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close and Benicio del Toro also star.
Guardians wasn’t a cheap proposition and cost $170 million to produce. That doesn’t include Disney and Marvel’s pricey and well-waged marketing campaign (it was no small feat selling a movie with no major stars).
Hype around Guardians has been so high that Marvel and Disney have already announced plans for a July 28, 2017 sequel, with Gunn returning to direct.
Last week, the Warner’s were in danger of being taken over by Fox as Rupert Murdoch planned to launch an ultimate media empire. But their plan backfired yesterday as the company realized the didn’t have the guts to take it over which caused Murdoch to raise the white flag. For now Stan, have the Warner’s dodge the bullet against Fox?
Stan Jennings Fish (via Deadline Hollywood)- The surprise announcement sent Fox shares +8% in after-market trading and Time Warner -11.9%. Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch says that his $80B offer — which the owner of Warner Bros, HBO, and Turner Broadcasting rejected — “had always been friendly.” But the company “refused to engage with us.” He says he also was swayed by the drop in Fox’s stock price as investors feared that Murdoch might overpay to become the dominant producer of movies and TV shows, with sports rights that could rival ESPN’s. To prove them wrong, he has committed to add $6B to his share-repurchase plan for the next year.
Prior to the withdrawal, several analysts had begun to wonder whether Murdoch would be able to prevail. Time Warner likely would want at least $105 a share — possibly more — and that would make it a money loser for Fox which initially offered $85 in cash and non-voting stock. Time Warner said on July 16, when word of the offer began to spread, that it was “confident that continuing to execute its strategic plan will create significantly more value for the Company and its stockholders and is superior to any proposal that Twenty-First Century Fox is in a position to offer.”
Tribeca Talks Industry: The Business Of Entertainment – At The 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, The Fox effort was “poorly received” by its investors, Morgan Stanley’s Benjamin Swinburne said this morning arguing for Murdoch’s company to drop the idea. It “is not a transaction that HAS to happen for defensive reasons, or for massive potential cost synergies. Therefore, it is a transaction that is only compelling at a certain price and assuming successful execution.”
But Murdoch’s apparent change of heart puts Time Warner in a difficult position. Its shareholders have seen the stock rise to $85.33, the highest it’s been in more than a decade — and now find it down to $75.75. That will put pressure on CEO Jeff Bewkes to prove that he can do more for them than Murdoch. Time Warner and Fox release their Q2 earnings tomorrow, followed by calls with analysts.
Here’s the Fox release:
New York, NY – August 5, 2014 – 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ: FOXA, FOX) today announced that it has withdrawn its proposal to acquire Time Warner Inc..
Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch commented:
“We viewed a combination with Time Warner as a unique opportunity to bring together two great companies, each with celebrated content and brands. Our proposal had significant strategic merit and compelling financial rationale and our approach had always been friendly. However, Time Warner management and its Board refused to engage with us to explore an offer which was highly compelling. Additionally, the reaction in our share price since our proposal was made undervalues our stock and makes the transaction unattractive to Fox shareholders. These factors, coupled with our commitment to be both disciplined in our approach to the combination and focused on delivering value for the Fox shareholders, has led us to withdraw our offer.
“21st Century Fox’s future has never been brighter. The strength of our leading franchises, combined with the power of our emerging growth businesses and the leadership positions of our international enterprises put us on a path for even greater success.”
The Board today authorized a $6 billion share repurchase program. The repurchase of an additional $6 billion of Class A Common Stock is expected to be completed in the next 12 months.
Mr. Murdoch continued, “This significant return of capital underscores the Company’s ongoing commitment to disciplined capital allocation and returning value to shareholders in a meaningful way.”
That puts Time Warner out of Fox’s den, for now.
According to our Bikini Bottom businessman, Time Warner’s stock dropped as Murdoch pressured Bewkes to merge the two companies together while Fox’s rose on the confession from the millionaire. I don’t think the Warner’s have seen the last of Murdoch.
Rock on TV fans! Because next spring, school’s in session as Nick prepares to get schooled thanks to Paramount. How many episodes will School of Rock have once it begins Dan?
Dan Barry (via Nick and More)- Nickelodeon, the number-one entertainment brand for kids, and Paramount Television divisions are teaming up for the first time to produce the new live-action, musical-comedy series School of Rock, based on the 2003 hit film from Paramount Pictures.
Nickelodeon has ordered 13 episodes of the series, which is scheduled to begin production this fall and premiere in the spring of 2015. Casting for the series will be announced shortly. School of Rock will follow the adventures and misadventures of Dewey Finn, a down-on-his-luck rocker who poses as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school as he teaches his eccentric, unconventional and overachieving students to play and love rock ‘n’ roll.
“We are thrilled our first foray into kids programming will be a straight-to-series order with our Viacom partners at Nickelodeon,” said Amy Powell, President, Paramount Television. “With Dewey’s outrageous personality and rock star sensibilities taking center stage, School of Rock will be an irresistibly fun show for the whole family.”
“School of Rock is one of those great movies that always felt quintessentially Nickelodeon in its tone and humor, and we jumped at the opportunity to partner with Paramount Television and bring it to life as a TV series,” said Russell Hicks, President, Content and Development, Nickelodeon. “Once again, kids will be able to laugh and rock!”
School of Rock will be written by Jim and Steve Armogida (Crash & Bernstein, My Family), who will also serve as executive producers and show runners. The movie’s director Richard Linklater and producer Scott Rudin will executive produce the television series.
Checking the Penguins tally, 2,086 fans sign in as Team Skipper resumes some box office crunching to see if the big gap left by Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur, can be filled in.
The summer’s biggest box office hits are here on DVD this month as we close out summer this year. Here’s some of your favorites you might find:
Need for Speed
Muppets Most Wanted
A Haunted House 2
Summer in February
Only Lovers Left Alive
The Quiet Ones
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return
We’ve only got a month left until we close out summer sweeps, but don’t worry TV and movie fans, there’s a lot of new surprises coming out this month. Stick around soon for another edition of Gene Scallop’s entertainment report.