LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1" soared to the largest opening day of the year with $55 million on Friday at the U.S. box office. The third installment in the Lionsgate franchise is on its way to $125 million to $130 million this weekend, which would be the best debut of 2014.
Despite the strong showing, the pic is far behind the first two movies, grossing over 20% less than its predecessors. Early U.S. box office projections for "Mockingjay" were as high as $150 million.
"The Hunger Games" launched to $152 million in 2012 and last year's "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" debuted to $158 million. Unlike the two previous films, the penultimate installment isn't playing in Imax because "Interstellar" is still showing on those screens.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Chris Pratt is in early talks to star in Universal's action-adventure "Cowboy Ninja Viking."
The screenplay is based on AJ Lieberman and artist Riley Rossmo's graphic novel of the same name about a skilled assassin with multiple personalities, published by Image Comics. Scribes Paul Wernick and Everett David Reese ("Zombieland") wrote a first draft, with the most recent draft coming from Craig Mazin ("Identity Thief," "The Hangover Part II").
Guymon Casady and Ben Forkner of Film 360 are set to produce along with Mark Gordon of The Mark Gordon Company. Bryan Zuriff will exec produce. There's currently no word on who will direct the pic. Film 360 found the underlying material based on the graphic novel, and then brought the project to The Mark Gordon Company.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Like most actors, Michael Keaton claims he doesn't enjoy watching himself in his own movies. But when it comes to his buzzy starring role in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Birdman," which Fox Searchlight opens in limited release Friday, he can't stop watching himself -- as if in disbelief that it's really him up there onscreen. "I like this movie so much, I just can't get enough of it," he says over a recent lunch at Santa Monica's Miramar Hotel, the day after he'd seen "Birdman" for the third time, at an Academy screening attended by his old "Batman" sparring partner, Jack Nicholson. "I'm watching this movie and I'm thinking, God, I love this movie. And then I realized: Wait a minute, I'm in this movie!"
Coming from most people, a statement like that would sound like false modesty at best and willful self-delusion at worst, but when Keaton says it, it has a tinge of sincerity -- or, at least, of a very seductive hustle. That may be why Keaton, who's played superheroes and journalists, political speechwriters and recovering addicts, has rarely been better than as a particular breed of fast-talking dreamer-schemer: characters like the morgue attendant-pimp-inventor Bill Blazejowski in "Night Shift" (1982); the Pennsylvania auto factory foreman walking the tightrope of American-Japanese cultural diplomacy in "Gung Ho" (1986); and the hyped-up "bio-exorcist," the self-proclaimed "ghost with the most," in Tim Burton's "Beetlejuice" (1988).
To that quixotic rogues gallery, one can now add "Birdman's" Riggan Thomson, a washed-up Hollywood star best known for starring in a trilogy of big-budget superhero movies, now trying to make a comeback on Broadway in his own adaptation of the Raymond Carver story "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love." It is almost surely the richest and most demanding role Keaton has ever played -- technically demanding, in terms of how the film was shot (in continuous, 10-minute-long tracking shots that allowed no margin for error), and emotionally demanding in terms of the psychological roller-coaster the character travels within the space of any given scene.
Mare McKeever, philly.com
They’re back, pitches!
Beca, Chloe, Aubrey, Fat Amy (and her bangs) and the Barden Bellas are bringing their A-game in the re-vamped Pitch Perfect 2.
From the looks of the trailer, they’ve upgraded their styles and are obviously more comfortable together than the their slightly awkward appearance the first time around.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" will enjoy the biggest opening of the year, but just how big a launch it receives is a matter of dispute.
Lionsgate, the studio behind the $1.6 billion-grossing franchise, is staking out a broad range, projecting the film will do between $130 million to $150 million when it bows Friday in 4,151 locations in North America. Most analysts are being bolder and predicting the hotly anticipated sequel will pull in $150 million at a minimum, noting that the previous two chapters both eclipsed that mark. Should the film top $160 million, it will be one of the five best opening weekends of all time.
Whatever the final tally, it will trump the $100 million that "Transformers: Age of Extinction" racked up last June -- the year's previous high-water mark.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Melissa McCarthy is on board to star as Tinker Bell in a comedy-adventure set up at Fox with Shawn Levy directing.
Levy will produce the untitled project through his Fox-based 21 Laps production company. McCarthy will also produce via her On The Day banner.
Nicholas Stoller will write the script from an idea by Levy and McCarthy. Tinker Bell originated as a fairy in J.M. Barrie's 1904 play "Peter Pan."
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Sony Pictures has surprisingly ditched its Steve Jobs project, putting the high-profile feature into turnaround.
The studio had no comment on the story.
An informed source said that Universal was likely to make a deal for the biopic.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - The family of Sarah Jones, the camera assistant killed on the set of "Midnight Rider" earlier this year, have agreed to settle their civil lawsuit with a number of the defendants in the case, a spokeswoman for the family's law firm said on Wednesday.
The settlement was made with the film's producers. CSX Transportation, another defendant in the civil suit, was not part of the settlement, she said.
Jones was killed on Feb. 20 in a train accident on the set of the movie. Eight others were injured.