Sony asks media outlets to destroy hacked documents

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No SPECTRE spoilers

Attorneys for Sony Pictures Entertainment, which includes Sony Pictures, has aksed media outlets to stop stories based on hacked Sony documents, according to stories in THE WRAP, VARIETY and THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.

The Hollywood Reporter posted a copy of the letter, which you can view BY CLICKING HERE.

“SPE does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading, or making any use of the Stolen Information, and to request your cooperation in destroying the Stolen Information,” the letter to The Hollywood Reporter reads.

A script for SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film, was among the documents that hackers obtained and put out on the Internet. Hackers also sent out copies of memos from Sony and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer related to the script as well as memos about the movie’s budget. Sony will release SPECTRE in November 2015.

If documents aren’t destroyed, according to the letter, “SPE will have no choice but to hold you responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use from such use or dissemination by you.”

UPDATE: THE NEW YORK TIMES reported it also received one of the letters. The newspaper, citing “two people briefed on the matter,” also reported that Sony and the Motion PIcture Association of America, are attempting to organize a letter of support from other studio heads but such a letter hasn’t been drafted.

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Captain America and spies prove to be big box office

Captain America: The Winter Soldier's poster

Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s poster

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which mixed superheroes and spies, generated an estimated $96.2 million in U.S. ticket sales, according to the Box Office Mojo website.

The movie, starring Chris Evans as Cap, set a record for an April movie opening, according to The Wrap entertainment news site.

The film concerns Cap becoming increasingly wary of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Marvel Comics spy agency. The movie addresses various plot threads going back to 2008’s Iron Man, the first production from Marvel Studios. One of two epilogues in the end titles provides a teaser for next year’s sequel to 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers. A third Captain America movie has been scheduled for May 2016.

Meanwhile, the storyline of Captain America: The Winter Soldier will affect the ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. USA Today has a story that details how in a story you can view BY CLICKING HERE. Both Marvel Studios and ABC are owned by Walt Disney Co.

Also, BusinessWeek has a story about Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios boss and producer of its movies. You can read it by CLICKING HERE.

HMSS Weblog’s guide to Bond 24 ‘silly season’

Daniel Craig during the filming of Skyfall

Daniel Craig during the filming of Skyfall

The Bond 24 “silly season” is underway as reports begin to emerge about possible casting.

The term “silly season” isn’t entirely accurate. Often, at least during the months leading to Skyfall, the reports WERE USUALLY PROVEN TO BE CORRECT.

Still, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

Read the actual story, not just the headline: The entertainment news website The Wrap ran A STORY saying that Chiwetel Ejiofor from the film 12 Years a Slave was the frontrunner to snare the role of Bond 24’s villain. The story was referenced in other entertainment site.

This got 007 fans going all over the Internet. But the story itself was less than definitive. An excerpt:

While Ejiofor does not have an official offer yet and is not in formal talks, he is being eyed for the coveted role and is widely presumed to be the frontrunner amongst the other actors under consideration.

Translation: He hasn’t been cast yet and the situation is still in flux.

That hasn’t stopped fans from debating whether the actor would be a good choice to play a new version of Blofeld.

The Wrap’s story doesn’t even come close to mentioning Blofeld. But, given that Eon and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer finally secured the rights to the character once and for all from the Kevin McClory estate, what’s a little speculation among friends?

Put another way: read the story, don’t just read the headline and don’t make assumptions.

With Skyfall, almost all the major casting news was reported accurately before an official announcement: News of Skyfall casting Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Albert Finney and other actors was reported before the official press release in November 2011. Given that track record, it could happen again with Bond 24.

Don’t take denials from Eon at face value: Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig denied Ben Whishaw was playing Q in Skyfall even though Whishaw’s agent said it was true. Sam Mendes denied he was in talks to direct Skyfall even though his publicist told other media outlets that was taking place. Barbara Broccoli denied that Skyfall co-writer John Logan had been hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 24 days before MGM announced that Logan had, in fact, been hired.

The past doesn’t guarantee the future: This contradicts the first two points, admittedly. But, as fans read news accounts about possible Bond 24 casting and other news, they should take into account the source. Moreover, they should actually seek out the actual original source.

Often, websites will mention where the news came from. They may even provide a link to the original source. But fans should, at the very least, actually read the original source before getting overly excited. It may still be difficult to evaluate how accurate the report is. At the very least, check out where the news originated and how that source phrased the news.

UPDATED: Skyfall U.S. box office prediction chart

UPDATE III (Nov. 10): BLOOMBERG.COM quoted Hollywood.com Box Office as estimating Skyfall’s opening U.S. and Canada could total as much as $80 million in ticket sales.

An excerpt:

The film earned $30.8 million yesterday, including $2.4 million in midnight showings, the box-office tracker said today in an e-mailed statement. Sales outside the U.S. and Canada for “Skyfall” are $347 million as of Nov. 8, Hollywood.com said.

UPDATE II: The DEADLINE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS WEB SITE quotes “rival studios” to Sony Pictures as saying Skyfall may have sold $37 million in tickets Thursday and Friday combined and could have an $88 million opening weekend.

UPDATE: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER says Skyfall had ticket sales of $2.2 million at Imax theaters on Thursday and $2.4 million at 12:01 a.m. showings on Friday.

ORIGINAL POST: For those interested in the business side of the movies, here’s our updated chart of Skyfall U.S. box office predictions. The movie opened at Imax theaters in the U.S. yesterday and is in wide release starting today.

“I must get to the theater NOW!”


Los Angeles Times: at least $75 million opening weekend.

BOXOFFICE.COM: $230 million total U.S.; $85 million opening weekend

Exhibitors Relations, cited in THE WRAP entertainment news Web site: $230 million total U.S., more than $70 million opening weekend.

The Wrap (citing analysts and “rival” studio executives: $75 million to $85 million weekend.

DEADLINE ENTERTAINMENT NEW WEB SITE: $215 million total U.S., described as a “guesstimate.”

BOX OFFICE MOJO: $185 million total U.S. In a STORY TODAY, the Web state is projecting an opening weekend of $78.2 million, including Thursday showings at Imax theaters.

The Nov. 9 Box Office Mojo story also says:

One thing working against Skyfall’s opening weekend figure, though, is its Thursday IMAX debut. Sony isn’t currently releasing theater count information, though the assumption is that it’s playing in at least 300 of IMAX’s over 330 domestic locations. Based on IMAX’s track record, Skyfall could earn as much as $2 million on Thursday, which is money it would have earned over the traditional three-day weekend.

Preliminary box office figures come out Sunday, Nov. 11. They will consist of actual ticket sales on Friday and Saturday with an estimate for Sunday. Final figures come out the following day.

Skyfall’s U.S. box office: how high is up?

UPDATE (Nov. 8): The Los Angeles Times in a story you read BY CLICKING HERE people who’ve seen pre-release audience surveys as estimating Skyfall’s opening weekend in the U.S. will generate at least $75 million in ticket sales. A Sony spokesman (who isn’t identified) says the studio’s estimate is $65 million to $70 million.

ORIGINAL NOV. 5 POST: Skyfall is almost halfway to being the top-grossing James Bond movie unadjusted for inflation. The question now is how high can the movie go in the U.S. market, where it opens this week.

Daniel Craig in a Skyfall publicity sill


The 23rd James Bond movie recorded $287 million in international ticket sales through Oct. 4 and $289 million in updated figures as of Oct. 5 on Box Office Mojo. It’s projected that Skyfall will also hit a U.S. record, again unadjusted for inflation. The highest U.S. sales for the 007 series was Quantum of Solace’s $168.4 million mark, which included a $67.5 million opening weekend. Casino Royale is 2006 is the top-grossing film in the series at $596.4 million.

Here’s a list of four estimates we’ve come across for Skyfall:

BOXOFFICE.COM: $230 million total U.S.; $85 million opening weekend

Exhibitors Relations, cited in THE WRAP entertainment news Web site: $230 million total U.S., more than $70 million opening weekend.

DEADLINE ENTERTAINMENT NEW WEB SITE: $215 million total U.S., described as a “guesstimate.”

BOX OFFICE MOJO: $185 million total U.S.

Skyfall is the only major movie debuting in wide release this weekend in the U.S. (A Steven Spielberg-directed biography of Abraham Lincoln will be in limited release before its general release on Nov. 16.) Also, on Nov. 16, another movie opens that could take a lot of the U.S. box office oxygen, as described by The Wrap:

(Skyfall’s) first week in the U.S. will be crucial, as the following weekend will see the debut of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2.” Summit’s finale of the “Twilight” series has topped the pre-sales charts since tickets became available online more than a month ago, and it is projected to open in the $150 million range.

While the foreign bows weren’t intentionally set up to boost the U.S. release, Sony knew they could help. “The idea was to build worldwide momentum out of the U.K. and Western Europe,” Sony spokesman Steve Elzer told TheWrap. “We employed a similar pattern on ‘Quantum of Solace.’”

In 2008, Quantum of Solace’s ticket sales fell 60 percent because of the debut of the first Twilight movie. Sony refers to the Sony Pictures unit of Sony Corp., which is releasing Skyfall and co-financed it with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Meanwhile, many Bond fans would like to see Skyfall crash beyond the $600 million worldwide ticket sale mark and reach $1 billion. That would put the movie in the conversation as all-time 007 champ even adjusted for inflation (Thunderball is the No. 1 film on an inflation-adjusted basis). It would also put it in the same box-office class as movies such as The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

MGM watch: 007’s studio decides to go with 1 CEO


Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 007’s home studio, has decided to go with just one CEO instead of two.

The company said Oct. 3 that Roger Birnbaum stepped down as co-chairman and co-chief executive officer. That leaves Gary Barber alone at the top of MGM. Birnbaum will go back to being a producer and he’ll work out of MGM.

Barber and Birnbaum founded Spyglass Entertainment and they were recruited to take charge of MGM as it went through bankruptcy. Barber now will lead MGM as it seeks to become a publicly traded company again. Birnbaum, meanwhile, will be producing remakes of Death Wish, War Games and The Magnificent Seven.

For more, you can view stories by BLOOMBERG NEWS, THE DEADLINE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS WEB SITE, THE WRAP and the LOS ANGELES TIMES.

MGM owns half the Bond franchise with the Broccoli-Wilson clan. The studio is co-financing Skyfall, the upcoming 007 film, with Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures unit.

Scrutiny and blockbuster movies

We were fascinated as coverage of the opening weekend of John Carter unfolded. While blockbuster movies have always been scrutinized, the $250 million movie shows how the 24-hour, real-time news cycle are putting more pressure than ever.

When Skyfall opens, 007 may be stalked by a new foe: distinguished representatives of the world press


It’s also a preview of what Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie, can expect when it has its U.S. debut in November. Just to be clear, we’re not predicting the same fate for Skyfall. But when the 007 film has its opening weekend in November, the movie’s box office numbers are going to be analyzed repeatedly, with updates each day until final figures are in.

Quick background: Walt Disney Co. made a big gamble to bring John Carter, created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, to the screen. It was the live-action directing debut of Andrew Stanton, who had previously helmed the feature-length cartoons Wall-E and Finding Nemo. John Carter had U.S. and Canada ticket sales of $30.2 million (the final revised figure released on March 12).

To give you an idea how quickly a film’s financial success is judged, CLICK HERE for the coverage by the Deadline Hollywood Web site, run by Nikki Finke. It begins with a short post at 11:30 a.m. New York time on March 9 that began like this after the movie received $500,000 at midnight showings:

It looks like the moviegoing public is going to bury this 3D sci-fi actioner just as everyone thought. So don’t expect any eulogies from me.

Read all the updates, and you’ll see that was just the start. Meanwhile, on the night of March 11, the New York Times, compared John Carter to Ishtar, a notorious 1987 flop. Today, just three days after the movie opened, The Wrap Web site published an analysis of how John Carter reflects deeper problems at Disney.

Now, 007 is an established movie franchise, unlike John Carter. But it’s going to get a similar examination, in part because of its budget.

Quantum of Solace, the previous 007 film, had a reported budget of $230 million, not that much less than John Carter. Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the principals of Eon Productions, denied in November there had been substantial budget reductions for Skyfall compared with Quantum.

Before Skyfall comes out, it’s likely some kind of consensus expectation number will emerge. Actual box office above that figure will be depicted as success, below it a setback. It’s also likely to be established whether Skyfall is the favorite to be the No. 1 movie for the weekend.

The coverage on Nov. 9-11 will also be influenced by the opening of previous Bond movies. Quantum had a U.S. and Canada opening weekend of $67.5 million in 2008. If Skyfall’s opening tally is falls short or exceeds that figure, that will be noted.

The movie may be declared a hit or flop on Nov. 9, the day Skyfall opens. There will be stories about Friday sales, not only the estimated total but whether its audience is skewing young or old. Saturday, Nov. 10, will see stories examining how sales compared with the previous day. Was there positive word of mouth? If not, why not? By early afternoon Sunday, Nov. 11, the preliminary weekend figures will be out, comprised of actual ticket sales for Friday and Saturday and an estimate for Sunday. Before the end of that Sunday, the reasons for Skyfall’s success or failure will be thoroughly hashed over before some fans even make it to the theater.

John Carter is merely an extreme example of how movies are covered on opening weekend. Skyfall will be subject to the same process, even if it doesn’t generate the same headlines. This happened with Quantum of Solace but it will likely be even more intense for Skyfall.