How an Oscar Nominee Make a Commercial

You don’t see a lot of commercials directed by Oscar nominees.

But if a new Procter & Gamble ad is any indication, TV would be a whole lot better if you did.

The spot, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, is, like his 2010 film, Biutiful.

Iñárritu, who earned a best director and best picture Oscar nomination for the 2006 Babel, doesn’t deliver some old detergent commercial. Rather, he presents viewers an ad called “The Best Job,” a gorgeous, cinematic love letter to mothers.

Check it out here.

– Joshua L. Weinstein

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Warner Bros. Buys Dinosaur Attack Pitch

Warner Bros. has picked up an untitled sci-fi action pitch about dinosaurs who attack modern day LA from James Cameron employee John Clisham and Mike Bayam, according to the Deadline team.

The project originally was intended to be a web series, produced by Break Media. But it got the attention of Warner execs Greg Silverman and Sarah Schechter who say feature film potential in the project and brought it into the studio.

Clisham will direct and Bayam will produce with Break Media’s Greg Siegel and Scott Nocas exec producing.

It sounds like a pretty cool project. Jurassic Park meets Godzilla with an Avatar sensibility? Total action sci-fi gold.

What’s your favorite creature attack movie? Alien? Godzilla? Jaws? Tell us in the comments section below.

– Cindy Kaplan

CAA Closed Due to Lack of Power

CAA is closed due to a lack of power.

That’s right, the top Hollywood talent agency is closed for the day due to a power outage. Take that as you will, but we’re big fans of the double entendre.

Assistants at the annual JHRTS Holiday Party

Agents are encouraged to work from home today, but since you can’t roll calls from a cell, we’re betting there’s an assistant block party somewhere in town. In our imagination, said party is sponsored by WME, who can now reign king over the other agencies. It’s not that we’re saying Ari cut the power lines…but…

 

 

In all seriousness, agents can be reached by cell and email, and we’re assuming the power will come back on asap.

– Cindy Kaplan

Benderspink Development Executive Sells Spec Script

Benderspink’s Director of Development, Christopher Cosmos, sold a feature spec script,The Fall to QED International. The company, run by the very talented Bill Block, producedDistrict 9W., and has a number of high profile projects in the works, including I, Alex Cross and Elysium. And now, thanks to the sale by Cosmos’ colleagues JC Spink, Chris Bender, and Jake Weiner, The Fall.

Aspiring screenwriters should take note: getting an industry job can be the way to get your material into the marketplace. Aside from honing your skills, you make the right contacts who have your back.Black Swan writer Mark Heyman is a development exec at Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa Pictures, and without his “day job” there, he may not have been nominated for an Oscar.

– Cindy Kaplan

 

‘Five-Year Engagement’ Leads a Crowded Weekend at the Box Office

This is the last of the moderate-sized movie weekends for quite a while.

None of the four movies that premiere this weekend, The Five-Year EngagementPirates! Band of Misfits, The Raven, or Safe, will be a blockbuster.

Five-Year, an R-rated comedy from Universal, starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, looks like it will win the weekend with around $20 million — Boxoffice.com puts the number at $22 million.

That’s an entirely respectable number for a movie that cost $30 million to make, but it’s nowhere near what next weekend’s No. 1 movie will pull in. Or the next weekend’s. Or the next, the next, the next … you get the idea.

Next weekend, The Avengers kicks off what looks to be an impressive summer. Expect Disney’s movie, which stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson, to open to $150 million or more.

The next weekend brings Dark Shadows. And the big movies keep rolling: The Dictator opens May 16, and Battleship opens two days later. The next weekend, May 25,MIB3 opens. Then Snow White and the Huntsman, then Madagascar 3 and Prometheus.

This weekend’s releases seem tame by comparison.

The Five-Year Engagement is all but certain to knock last week’s box office champion,Think Like a Man, out of the top spot. The movie, which opens at 2,936 locations, is tracking strongest among men older than 25 — and women younger than 25.

Among those men, 20 percent say they have “definite” plans to see the movie, according to the research firm NRG. 16 percent of those younger than 25 say they have “definite” interest in it. Among younger women, 35 percent express “definite” interest in Five-Year, while 33 percent of older ones do.

Five-Year is about a couple that remains engaged for five years. Segel and Nick Stoller, the writing team behind Forgetting Sarah Marshall, wrote the comedy. Stoller directed.

Although new tracking from NRG shows the R-rated The Raven, from Relativity, doing especially well — 70 percent of all those surveyed reported some awareness of the movie, 34 percent said they have “definite” interest in seeing it, and 6 percent said it’s their “first choice” — conventional wisdom has it tying withPirates, with about $12 million.

That may seem odd because the PG-rated Pirates‘ tracking is significantly worse thanThe Raven‘s: Only 61 percent of those surveyed said they were familiar with Pirates. Of those, 22 percent expressed “definite” interest in seeing it and 2 percent said it was their first choice.

But, The Raven opens in only 2,203 locations, while Pirates opens in 3,358. And Pirates is the first animated, PG-rated family film to open since Universal’s hit The Lorax in March. It’s also the lone PG-rated movie opening in wide release this weekend. The other three are R.

Even with a $12 million opening — and Boxoffice.com says it’ll be about $1 million less than that — Relativity has something good with the thriller, which stars John Cusack as the writer Edgar Allen Poe. The company acquired The Raven for about $4 million from Intrepid Pictures.

Sony ought to do just fine withPirates, as well. The movie cost about $55 million to make — nothing to scoff at, but certainly reasonable. While it’s unlikely to be a monster hit domestically, it’s expected to do very well internationally. Sony’s last movie with Aardman Animations, Arthur Christmas, pulled in about $46 million domestically and $101 million internationally.

So Pirates looks like a good bet.

Finally, there’s Safe, an R-rated action film that Lionsgate is distributing for IM Global.

The movie, which cost about $27 million to make, stars Jason Statham as a one-time elite agent who comes to the rescue of a kidnapped young girl — and outwit the Russian mob, corrupt police, and the Triads who took the child.

Its tracking is weak: 48 percent of the moviegoers surveyed by NRG reported any awareness of Safe. Only 34 percent said they had “definite” interest in seeing it, and only 4 percent said it was their first choice.

The movie is looking to take in somewhere in the $8 million neighborhood at 2,266 locations.

After this weekend, expect bigger numbers. Much bigger numbers.

– Joshua L. Weinstein

 

Todd Phillips’ Next Project Finds Writers…in the Duplass Brothers

There’s this conventional wisdom around town that says if you want to be a bigwig writer or director someday, make your own no-budget indie movie, and you’ll eventually get noticed for bigger fare.

The thing about conventional wisdom is that it’s not always true. There are a ton of indie movies showing at and entering festivals all around the world, and only a handful of breakout talent. But the Duplass brothers? Definitely in the breakout talent category.

Mike Fleming, at Deadline, reports that the duo has been hired to write the script for Todd Phillips’ upcoming comedy Mule. Phillips is best known for The Hangover and has become one of the hottest comedy directors in town. The Duplass brothers have yet to score as big as The Hangover, but their latest, Jeff Who Lives at Home was well received by critics, as were the rest of their films, most notably their debut, 2006’s The Puffy Chair and 2009’sCyrus.

This is the first studio movie for the brothers, who typically write and direct together, and in Mark’s case, act, too. Will their studio directorial debut be next? Only time will tell. But what is clear is that hard work, perseverance, and talent will eventually get you where you want to go in Hollywood. Well, at least sometimes.

– Cindy Kaplan

“Savage Planet” Spec Script Sells to Sony

Sony bought its 5th spec script of the year, “Savage Planet.”  The logline for the project is under wraps, but writer Cole Haddon is developing a number of action-adventure and thriller pieces, so it’s probably a safe bet that this latest script falls into that genre.  Last summer, he sold an action-adventure pitch to Timur Bekmambetov’s Bazaelevs Production.  He’s also worked on new twists on the Arabian Nights story and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for Warner Bros. and Skydance, respectively. And he’s got “Dracula” in the works at NBC. Pretty good for a guy with no released credits.

 

Matt Tolmach and Avi Arad are producing “Planet” with Haddon’s reps Alex Goldstone and Bard Dorros at Anonymous Content.  Haddon is also repped by Lars Theriot at ICM.Deadline first reported the sale.

For more on the spec market, including tallies of sold spec genres, buyers, and reps, check out The Scoggins Report.

 – Cindy Kaplan