Universal Pictures

Neighbors Movie

While we’re all covering Marvel vs DC like a novelty boxing match, and some are ogling Sony’s dirty laundry, Universal Pictures quietly did the most interesting thing possible this year. The studio that brought us Lucy and Neighbors is on track to make record profits without releasing a single traditional blockbuster. As Scott Mendelson at Forbes points out, none of their films cost more than $70m to make, and only two (of 15) cost more than $40m. There was no spandex, the franchise entries were low budget horror (and the return of both dumb and his friend dumber), and there were no minions. Yet, as if by magic, Universal netted more money than they ever have before. They’re assured to be out of the Top Three when it comes to gross this year, but if they get sad about that they have the ability to buy a lot of Kleenex. Even so, there’s one reason to consider them superior to other studios and one reason to shrug at their profits.

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Back in August of last year, Universal Pictures chucked their big-budget Ouija back into turnaround – usually the kiss of death for a project like this, one meant to cost over $100m and to tap into the hallowed “four-quadrant” ground (meant to appeal to both sexes and all ages). That first pitch likened the film to something like Jumanji, which could certainly be appealing, but Universal was shy to give it the go-ahead. Even the attachment of producer Michael Bay and director McG didn’t keep them interested, and for all intents and purposes, the project being put into turnaround could have been the last we ever heard of it. But it’s not. Deadline Chesterton now reports that Ouija has slid from a big “NO” to a much smaller “YES,” with Universal back on board to make it for a 2013 release, but with a significantly tighter budget than its previous incarnation. The new film will come with a tiny little $5m pricetag, one that signals that this will be no longer be a four-quadrant blockbuster, but something closer to a genre pic. Another indication that’s so? While original producers Bay, Brad Fuller, and Andrew Form are back in, they are also joined by Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions, who has produced films like Paranormal Activity and Insidious – films with small budgets that made big box office cash. THR also reports that Blum is responsible for the film’s new direction – a “high concept, lower budget model.”

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Universal Pictures will turn a century old on April 30, and in advance of their 100th birthday, the studio has trotted out a new (shiny!) logo that touts their triple-digit age. Why they didn’t get Willard Scott to do one of those Smuckers Jam birthday label shout-out things on The Today Show, I simply don’t know, but there’s still time! Of course, that new logo is neat and all (and, again, shiny!), but what’s most exciting about this news is the studio’s announcement that they will also celebrate their centennial with the restoration of thirteen of its most famous films. THR reports that the studio has restored All Quiet on the Western Front, The Birds, Abbott and Costello’s Buck Privates, Dracula (1931), the Spanish-language Dracula (which was filmed on the same set at night), Frankenstein, Jaws, Schindler’s List, Out of Africa, Pillow Talk, Bride of Frankenstein, The Sting, and To Kill a Mockingbird. The studio plans to release the restorations throughout 2012. Many of the restorations will be sold in “collectible book style packaging with memorabilia.” Moreover, Universal is reportedly quite happy with the work on previously damaged films, particularly when it comes to crisper sound in Frankenstein and “appalling graininess” in To Kill a Mockingbird. Also, fans of Out of Africa can breathe a sigh of relief – as “Meryl Streep loses a weird wobble in her walk possibly caused by projectors that enlarged the sprocket holes.” I wish it was Universal’s 100th birthday every day!

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Bryan Singer has been talking about wanting to make a Battlestar Galactica movie for quite awhile now. But Singer is also one of those directors who always seems to be talking about wanting to make a lot of movies, so you never know what’s really going to happen and what isn’t. Recently some things have gone down to make this adaptation of the late-70s TV series (and, reportedly, not of the mid-2000s remade TV series) possible, however. Firstly, Singer’s remake of Excalibur has fallen apart, leaving a gaping hole in his schedule that should likely be filled with work on Galactica. And now, there’s even more concrete evidence that work on this project is going to start moving forward, as Deadline Rockvale is reporting that Universal has hired John Orloff to write a script. Orloff is a fairly established screenwriter already, and he most recently penned Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous and Zack Snyder’s movie about the owls which are from Ga’Hoole, so it would seem to me that his hiring is a good indication that this is project is being taken very seriously, which is good news for fans of space ships and robot people. Even better news is that Orloff seems to be a pretty obsessive fan of the Galactica universe himself. He told Deadline, “I have wanted to write this movie since I was 12 years old, and built a Galactica model from scratch out of balsa wood, cardboard, old model parts and LEDs. I love BSG, and I would […]

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Apologies to any shut-ins living in Portland (Oregon, not Maine) and Atlanta, Universal’s Tower Heist will not be coming to a television near you. It will, however, be coming to your local multiplex! Last week, a kerfuffle broke out over Universal Pictures’ plan to release Brett Ratner’s latest via their premium VOD platform just three weeks after the film opened in theaters. Though the film would only have been available via VOD to those in Portland (again, still Oregon, not Maine) and Atlanta and would have cost a steep $59.99, exhibitors promptly lost their minds over the move and vowed to not show the film at all. Cinemark, the nation’s third-largest theater chain, led the boycott, and was swiftly followed by Galaxy Theatres, Regency Theatres, and Emagine Theatres. It was clearly only a matter of time before someone backed down, and that someone is Universal. The studio will not release Tower Heist via the premium VOD platform, but that does not mean that they have abandoned the idea entirely, with a statement that calls this bump in the road “a delay (to their) planned premium home video on demand…experiment.” Despite the fact that it was exhibitors balking at the plan that clearly sunk it, Universal also said that they “continue to believe that the theater experience and a PVOD window are business models that can coincide and thrive” and that they “look forward to working with [their] partners in exhibition to find a way to experiment in this area in […]

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The relationship between film studios and movie theaters is an oddly contentious one. You’d think the two would be the best of friends as few entertainment experiences can rival watching a fantastic film in a well run theater, but instead the two parties seem consistently at odds. They’re constantly fighting over the percentage of gross profits each one should get, they’ve recently started bickering about who should foot the bill for the cost of 3D glasses, and now at least one studio is making a bold move sure to anger theater owners even more. Per the LA Times, Universal will be making the upcoming Brett Ratner joint, Tower Heist, available on VOD just three weeks after it opens in theaters. It’s limited to two markets for now, so only movie fans in Atlanta and Portland, Oregon will be able to order the film from the comfort of their living room couch for the totally reasonable price of just $59.99. Sounds high to be sure, but the average movie ticket in theaters is around ten bucks, so if you can find five more people interested in seeing Murphy, Stiller and friends in a Ratner film then you’re golden. You also probably have friends with poor cinematic taste.

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Louis Leterrier gets a bad rap in this world where your latest work is all that matters. He’s never been a groundbreaker, but the Transporter flicks were a lot of action-y fun, and he improved on the big green menace known as Hulk even with a ton of production trouble. None of that makes up for Clash of the Titans or the ophthalmology bills its 3D caused, but his next two projects sound pretty solid. We already knew about Now You See Me which sees the world of bank heists meeting the world of trick-doers magicians illusionists. Now, according to Heat Vision, Leterrier will be directing the sci-fi thriller G which features a father trying to track down his son in a world that’s stop spinning and has no gravity. A quick science digression: those two elements may not be related, but if the movie explains that the earth’s ceasing to spin is what caused the lack of gravity, foreheads will meet palms, and there will be a new movie for NASA to complain about. Producer Guymon Casady (The Expendables) is responsible for the high concept, and the production is currently looking for a screenwriter. No word yet on whether the movie will feature a McDonald’s tie-in called the McG.

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Every Sunday, Film School Rejects presents a film that was made before you were born and tells you why you should like it. This week, Old Ass Movies presents the story of the most iconic big band leader of all time from his early days of struggle, through his meteoric rise in the charts, all the way to his involvement with the USO in WWII. It’s a (slightly) fictional take on a true story full of trumpet blasts, crisp high hats, and thundering toe taps from a crowd that just can’t get enough of the stuff. Glenn Miller’s story, like maybe all great musicians, starts in a pawn shop.

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Here comes another dour, science fiction infused love story. Alright, so those aren’t exactly running amok these days, are they. Which is perhaps the reason why George Nolfi’s directorial debut The Adjustment Bureau seems so interesting.

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Relativity, Rogue Pictures and Universal have finally won the race for Sundance’s hottest ticket, the social media-centric mystery doc Catfish.

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barbie-header

It’s coming. Can you feel the excitement in the air? Finally after what seems like a lifetime of excruciating anticipation, Barbara Millicent Roberts will have her day in the cinematic sun. Better known by her nickname, Barbie, she’s on her way to a theater near you in a live action film.

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Universal Pictures, along with the folks over at Funny or Die, has released the first part of a two-part documentary about a special comedian named Randy…

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News broke over the weekend that Universal is putting the breaks on the production of Gore Verbinski’s Bioshock movie. But they promise that it isn’t going to become another Halo movie. Really, scout’s honor.

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Oh, King Candy. You look so happy.

Universal Pictures has announced a planned big screen adaptation of the board game Candyland. Seriously.

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East of Eden Gets a Remake

The classic novel is getting another film adaptation. We take a look at the murderous book and its history flirting with the big screen.

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Jason Bourne: Chasing Down James Bond

Among cinematic super-spies, Jason Bourne is currently the ‘in’ guy, despite the fact that sneaky Brit agent James Bond continues to truck right along, releasing his 22nd installment next month. But Bourne isn’t backing down.

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Jack Black to play a spy-wannabe

After delivering solid performances in three very good films in 2008, Jack Black is now looking toward the future, and it appears that he is bringing his Kung Fu Panda writers with him.

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God of War

If there is anyone who needs to do a little bit of setting the record straight, it is Brett Ratner. Though, I would surmise that the Rat isn’t really looking to get that spotlight off of himself, as he has been one of the most talked about non-working directors of 2008.

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Ron Perlman in Hellboy II

We take a look at our favorite quirks of Hellboy.

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Wanted Movie

It isn’t often that I am so impressed by a movie website, but then again, it isn’t often that I am this excited about a movie.

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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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