Independent Box Office: Woody Allen’s ‘Blue Jasmine’ Debut is Year’s Best

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This weekend’s debut of Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” is one of the veteran writer-director’s best ever, and easily the year’s strongest specialty box office opening.

The comedy, starring Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin, took in $612,726 from just six theaters for distributor Sony Pictures Classics. That’s a spectacular $102,128 per-screen average, topping the $87,667 average that “Spring Breakers” managed on three screens in March.

The “Blue Jasmine” debut tops that of “Midnight in Paris,” Allen’s 2011 hit that went on to take in $151 million globally. That film opened to a $99,834 average, also from six theaters.

“Paris” received four Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Allen won for Original Screenplay; the success of “Blue Jasmine” is sure to set off awards buzz for the movie and Blanchett in particular. Read more

Hugh Jackman’s ‘The Wolverine’ Wobbles in U.S. but Rips Up Foreign Box Office

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“The Wolverine” dominated the U.S. box office over the weekend, but the estimated $55 million haul for the Hugh Jackman superhero movie was less than distributor Fox had hoped for.

It didn’t come close to matching the $85 million three-day debut 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and could wind up being the lowest domestic opening in the six-film “X-Men” franchise. “X-Men: First Class” debuted to $55.1 million in 2011 and the original “X-Men” opened to $54.4 million back in 2000.

But the Marvel comics-inspired “Wolverine” was a force overseas this weekend. It opened in 126 countries – every major market except Japan and China — and brought in $86 million, the best foreign opening for an X-Men movie ever. And Its $141 million in first-weekend global grosses surpasses its $115 million production budget.

The significance of the international number in today’s market can’t be underestimated; Hollywood’s biggest films typically take in roughly 70 percent of their grosses from overseas these days. “The Wolverine” finds Jackman’s mutant loner in Japan where he takes on the Yakuza and grapples with the loss of his healing powers.

Bombs! Flops! Duds! How the Summer Box Office Could Still Be Biggest Ever

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For all the megaflops this year, the sky isn’t falling on the box office: Summer is still pacing to be the biggest ever, thanks to more hits than bombs, the biggest of which have already been detonated.

While there’s been an unprecedented string of high-priced flops — five films with budgets well north of $100 million have opened to less than $25 million over the last month — the season is still running ahead of last year by 10.7 percent.

“This month has brutal, but none of these misfires have been a surprise,” BoxOffice.com editor-in-chief Phil Contrino told TheWrap. “With so many huge movies in the marketplace, it was a given that there were going to be some major casualties.”

With a few exceptions, the hits have been just as predictable this summer — and there have been more of them than misses. The total domestic gross for the summer to date is $3.42 billion, better than last summer’s $3.09 billion to this point, according to BoxOffice.Mojo.

Despicable Me 2′ Rules World For 3rd Straight Week at Box Office

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Despicable Me 2′ was the No. 1 film at the worldwide box office for the third week running, as the minions added another $35.4 million from overseas this weekend.

That ups its international total to $308 million and pushes it past the lifetime international gross of the original, which took in $293 million from abroad in 2010. Combined with its U.S. gross of $276 million, “Despicable Me 2” is now at $587 million worldwide.

Two films off to slow starts at the domestic box office, received some good news from overseas.

“Pacific Rim” was No. 2 at the foreign box office this weekend, just behind “Despicable Me 2,” rolling up $34.8 million. That brings the foreign total for Guillermo del Toro’s 3D giant robots epic to $110 million and more than $178 million worldwide.

And DreamWorks Animation’s 3D family film “Turbo” brought in a solid $22.6 million from 28 markets for distributor Fox, roughly a quarter of its eventual foreign rollout.

“Red 2” began its international rollout this weekend in 11 markets and took in $7.6 million. It opened No. 1 in South Korea with a strong $5.2 million.

Sony Sets Release Date for Tom Hanks-Dan Brown Thriller ‘Inferno’

Tom Hanks stars in Columbia Pictures' suspense thriller "Angels & Demons."

Inferno,” the film adaptation of the new Dan Brown novel with Tom Hanks attached to star, will be released on Dec. 18, 2015, Sony said Tuesday.

David Koepp is adapting the book from the author of “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels & Demons,” and was released in May.

Both novels feature the central character Prof. Robert Langdon, who was played by Hanks in the two earlier films, both of which were box-office hits.

In “Inferno,” the villain threatens to unleash a plague and leaves clues from “The Inferno,” Dante’s 14th-century poem about hell. Read more

Veronica Mars’ Movie Replaces Leighton Meester With Twin Sister Singer Andrea Estella

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“Veronica Mars” creator Rob Thomas has been doing a really great job bringing the cult series’ original players back for the movie. But, a scheduling conflict is keeping Leighton Meester from reprising the role of Carrie Bishop.

Thomas announced on Sunday that indie pop band Twin Sister singer Andrea Estella has been cast in the part of “the gossip queen of the 09ers” who falsely accused Neptune High teacher Mr. Rooks (Adam Scott) of having an affair with her to protect her best friend on Season 1 of the series. Read more

Independent Box Office: ‘The Way, Way Back’ Averages $30K Per-Screen in Debut

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The Way, Way Back” is to a fast start at the specialty box office.

The coming-of-age tale from from writer-directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash brought in an impressive $525,000 in its debut in 19 theaters over the weekend. That’s a $30,263 per-screen average, the best of any film in release this weekend.

Fox Searchlight acquired the film, which stars Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell and newcomer Liam James, at this year’s Sundance film festival. It’s the tale of a 14-year-old (James) forced to go on summer vacation with his mother (Collette), her overbearing boyfriend (Carell) and his daughter (AnnaSophia Robb), who finds a pal in a waterpark manager (Rockwell).

George Lucas, Tony Kushner, Herb Alpert Among National Medal of Arts Honorees

George Lucas, Herb Alpert, Tony Kushner and Elaine May are among the National Medal of Arts honorees to be awarded July 12 in White House ceremonies.

Lucas is to be honored for his contributions to American cinema. “By combining the art of storytelling with boundless imagination and cutting-edge techniques, Mr. Lucas has transported us to new worlds and created some of the most beloved and iconic films of all time,” the White House said his citation will read.

Alpert, the founder of A&M Records, and the Tijuana Brass, will be honored for his varied contributions to music and the fine arts.

Playwright/screenwriter Kushner, best known for 1993’s “Angels in America,” will be honored for his contributions to the theater and films. “Whether for the stage or the silver screen, his scripts have moved audiences worldwide, marrying humor to fury, history to fantasy and the philosophical to the personal,” said the White House

MTV, VH1, CMT Partnering with Monster DNA to Promote, Fund Indie Artists on July 4th

For 12 hours on July 4, MTV, CMT and VH1 are going to be all about music.

The networks’ owner, Viacom, and the headphones company Monster DNA are teaming up to promote “Music Independence Day,” during which indie musicians will be featured on TV and the two companies will match online donations that viewers make to unsigned artists on a Web destination called the Artist Platform.

“Hopefully that tip will allow them a start in their career,” said Jeannie Scalzo, svp of brand sales for MTV, VH1 and CMT.

Viacom and Monster DNA are pledging $100,000 in all to unsigned artists, with each act able to receive up to $500. “We want to include as many artists as we can,” Scalzo said. “Spreading the wealth is the best way to make this successful for everybody.”

Each network will have a different focus—and feature different artists, independent and otherwise—throughout the 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. programming block. For MTV, the theme is block parties; for CMT, it’s barbecue. In addition to the unsigned groups, viewers can expect to see the likes of Ke$ha, The Lumineers and Hanson, to name a few.