Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria replace Bill Damaschke as animated production heads; Fox’s 5.5 million breaks new record offsetting box office summer slump; Viacom settles ICA lawsuit


Welcome to the shake-up edition of Gene Scallop’s entertainment report. Here’s what’s topping today!


There was indeed a shakeup at DreamWorks on Sunday as 2 familiar animation exec’s took animation director Bill Damaschke’s place. Damaschke you might remember was the one behind Peabody and Sherman and Penguins of Madagascar which both flopped the box office last year. That resulted in a quick change of action at the company. Who are the two executives and could this move be a big turnaround for DreamWorks Johnny?



Johnny Trout (via The Hollywood Reporter)- Looking to restore the luster to the film side of DreamWorks Animation, Jeffrey Katzenberg has tapped veteran producers Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria to serve as co-presidents of feature animation, replacing Bill Damaschke.

Damaschke, a DWA veteran, has been with the company since 1995 and was named chief creative officer in 2011. His exit from that post follows a string of box office disappointments for DWA, including Mr. Peabody & Sherman and the spinoff Penguins of Madagascar. He had served in the top post since January 2011.




Soria and Arnold, who are intimately familiar with DWA, will head up creative development and production on all of the studio’s movies. Arnold was the lead producer on the How to Train Your Dragon franchise, including last year’s sequel. Released in June, How to Train Your Dragon 2 was DWA’s one bright spot in 2014, earning north of $618 million globally to become the top-grossing animated title of the year. It also has been nominated for a Golden Globe for best animated feature.

Soria was lead producer of the original Madagascar film in 2005, among other DWA titles. Collectively, the movies they have produced for Katzenberg’s outfit have grossed a combined $3.5 billion globally.

“Mireille and Bonnie are two of the most accomplished and prolific filmmakers working in feature animation today,” Katzenberg said in a statement. “I am confident in their ability to marshal the extensive creative resources available at our studio and lead DreamWorks’ vast ranks of artists and filmmakers as they produce the highest quality entertainment.”

Added Arnold and Soria: “Great storytelling is the heart of DreamWorks Animation, and we are honored and excited to help shape the movies that will entertain audiences around the world.”

Arnold’s credits include Pixar’s Toy Story, DWA’s Over the Hedge and Disney blockbuster Tarzan. She’s also an accomplished live-action producer, and worked on the acclaimed indie drama The Last Station.

Soria’s resume highlights include DWA’s Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and Fox’s Ever After.


Back in2011, Paramount set an 5.17 million smacker record for their big box office hits including Transformers 4: Age of Extinction which was the most expensive flick of 2014. This time, Fox leapt over the mountain with a new market share record! Did X-Men: Days of Future Past took down last year’s summer bummer Danny?


Danny Angelfish (via The Hollywood Reporter)- Thanks to a diverse slate that resonated with consumers, Fox set a new industry record at the worldwide box office in 2014.

Fox movies generated $5.5 billion in global ticket sales, well ahead of the previous industry record of $5.17 billion set in 2011 by Paramount, and one of the few times that revenue has hit the $5 billion mark.

The studio’s performance in North America was particularly notable; it bested every other studio with $1.79 billion (the next closest is $1.619 billion for Disney). In recent times, Fox has lagged behind many of the other major studios in terms of domestic revenue. To boot, Fox was able to thrive despite the overall downturn at the domestic box office, where revenue tumbled by more than 5 percent, and attendance hit a two-decade low.

Internationally, where Fox has generally been a market leader alongside Warner Bros., the studio came in at $3.73 billion, besting the previous industry record by more than $500 million.

Domestic revenue was up a staggering 66 percent over 2013’s $1.06 billion, while the international haul was up 60 percent over the $2.33 billion collected in 2013 (a soft year). Globally, Fox was up 63 percent year-over-year.


“This was a remarkable year for our studio, thanks to the talent of our filmmakers and our teams’ incredible work ethic, devotion and spirit. We are all very proud of this success, and look forward to an even brighter 2015 and beyond,” said Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus, Fox co-presidents of worldwide marketing and distribution.

Fox’s biggest earner was Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, which earned a franchise-best $748 million worldwide in summer 2014, followed by sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with $709 million.

And Fox’s The Fault in Our Stars ($304.2 million) is one of the most profitable titles of 2014, costing just $12 million to make, while Gone Girl vastly exceeded expectations, earning $356.8 million globally to become David Fincher’s most successful film of all time, not accounting for inflation. YA film adaptation The Maze Runner likewise overperformed to the tune of $339.8 million.

Warner Bros. — which had a particularly tough year — came in No. 2 in terms of global revenue with an estimated $4.73 billion, but that was down from $4.98 billion in 2013. Overseas, however, the studio narrowly set a new record with $3.17 billion, up 1 percent from the year before. Domestically, the studio fell to No. 3 with $1.56 billion, down from $1.84 billion in 2013.

Enjoying its second-best year in history behind 2013, Disney placed No. 2 domestically with $1.61 billion, up narrowly from 2013, and No. 3 worldwide with $4.44 billion, down from $4.73 billion in 2013. Internationally, revenue fell from $3.13 billion in 2013 to $2.83 billion.

Paramount improved its standing considerably with $2.82 in worldwide revenue, fueled largely by Transformers: Age of Extinction, the only 2014 release so far to hit $1 billion globally. Worldwide, Paramount was up 24 percent from 2013 ($2.27 billion). In North America, Paramount placed No. 4 with $1.05 billion, compared to $967.3 million in 2013.

Landing at No. 5 worldwide was Universal with $2.52 billion, down from $3.68 billion in 2013 (the studio’s biggest year in history). Domestically, revenue fell to $1.12 billion from $1.43 billion, while international dipped to $1.4 billion from $2.26 billion. Still, the studio can boast two of the most profitable films of 2014 with Neighbors and Ouija.

The hack-embattled Sony placed No. 6 globally with $2.49 billion, down from $3.05 billion. Overseas, revenue came in at $1.24 billion, compared to $1.91 the year before. Domestically, however, Sony was up from $1.14 billion to $1.25 billion.


Viacom’s once again in legal trouble ever since September 2011, but this time, the big media company is about to abandon ship. Sounds like this lawsuit’s going to be a lengthy process isn’t it Jim?

Jim Fish (via The Hollywood Reporter)- Viacom is about to become the latest media giant to stage an exit from the messy litigation over unpaid internships. On New Year’s Eve, attorneys informed a New York federal judge that the company had come to a deal in principle to settle a class action lawsuit challenging whether its old intern program violated minimum wage and other labor laws.
Terms of the settlement haven’t yet been disclosed, but following the deals made in recent months for ex-interns at NBCU, Conde Nast and ICM, the tentative agreement signals another turning of the page on a tradition once seen as untouchable. The significance of the latest settlement goes beyond money: By reaching peace with Viacom, the plaintiffs have scored a mini cultural milestone. Viacom is owner of MTV, a bastion of youth culture.

The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against Viacom was Casey O’Jeda, who was an unpaid intern at MTV from September 2011 to January 2012, working on the network’s mobile website. Since the lawsuit was filed, more than 300 other individuals gave their consent to join the collective action against Viacom.

In April, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman granted conditional class certification in this lawsuit and gave a green light to issue a notice to those covered by the litigation. The judge wrote that for certification purposes, attorney Lloyd Ambinder had offered sufficient generalized proof that plaintiffs were “victims of a common policy to replace paid workers with unpaid interns.”

Viacom could have challenged the ruling as Fox will be doing soon at the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. But Viacom has already made the corporate decision to pay all the interns at its various divisions.

Although the parties now tell the judge there are a number of material terms that remain to be reconciled, the deal in principle has progressed far enough that the attorneys involved are asking for a magistrate judge to assist the parties in effectuating the settlement.

The overall monetary value of the deal will be revealed in a future court filing — the proposed settlement will need to be approved by the judge — but it will likely cover all interns who worked at Viacom after August, 2010 or three years prior to when the lawsuit was filed.


We’ll keep an eye on this lawsuit as soon as it’s done.



Checking the Penguins tally, 1,960 fans sign in as DreamWorks’ feature animation takeover sounds the alarm for Team Skipper of what could mean a big reversal for them and for the rest of animation in Hollywood this year.


Old Man Winter arrived just in time as the box office marathon continues on DVD. The list’s very short, so have a look:



Get On Up
Ways to Live Forever
The Two Faces of January
The Boxtrolls



We’re in winter’s coldest grip folks, so bundle up! In the meantime, we’ll warm up soon on the next edition of Gene Scallop’s entertainment report.

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