Universal Pictures has nixed plans to release Joe Carnahan’s comedy-thriller Stretch on its scheduled March 21st release date. Although it made our “Most Anticipated” list for the first quarter of 2014, no replacement date is currently set up. It’s a bit of an odd move, especially for the normally successful production banner of Jason Blum, Blumhouse Productions, which specializes in turning low-budget pictures into big box office returns. Universal allowed Blum to shop the picture to other distributors, but when a deal couldn’t be reached, the rights reverted back to the studio, which is now “exploring creative options” for release. Hit the jump for more.
[Update: We've updated the article with comments on the situation from Carnahan himself.]
Universal Pictures has set the release dates for the following films:
- Dracula – Director Gary Shore’s origin story starring Luke Evans (Fast Six) in the title role will move from an August 8, 2014 release to an October 3, 2014 opening.
- Search Party – Scot Armstrong’s directorial debut starring Thomas Middleditch, TJ Miller and Adam Pally opens September 12, 2014.
Hit the jump for more on both pictures, including the reason behind the Dracula delay.
Legendary Pictures is hitting the ground running with its new distribution deal under Universal. After severing its relationship with Warner Bros., Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures is eyeing Dracula as its first project with Universal. Production on the film is already underway in Ireland with Luke Evans taking on the titular role, but Variety reports that Legendary is in talks to come aboard and co-finance the project. Gary Shore directs the pic, which tells the origin story of the classic creature and is slated for release on August 8, 2014.
Additionally, Legendary is considering co-funding the high-profile Jurassic Park 4. Hit the jump for more on the studio’s deal with Universal.
The Purge rode an intriguing hook—for a twelve-hour period every year, all crime is legal—to gross $36.4 million at the box office this weekend on a lean $3 million budget. Given the high return on investment and repeatable premise, you know what comes next: Universal and producer Jason Blum have announced development on The Purge 2.
The Purge is essentially a home invasion thriller that centers on a family played by Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, and Adelaide Kane. I imagine the studio and Blum will explore the greater Purge universe to find a new story, so there is no guarantee the cast will return. At this stage, it is also not clear if writer/director James De Monaco will return. See Blum’s Twitter announcement after the jump.
Universal Pictures had a pretty impressive 2012 despite the high-profile bomb Battleship. The R-rated comedy Ted has now raked in over $500 million worldwide, and with a sequel already in development, Universal is looking to tee up a couple of other franchises in the near future. Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson recently sat down for an interview in which he revealed that the studio is actively developing a sequel to this year’s comedy hit Identity Thief, they’re working on a Snow White and the Huntsman sequel without director Rupert Sanders, they hope to make more Bourne movies, and they’re looking to get the anticipated Fifty Shades of Grey adaptation in theaters by Summer 2014. He also talked a bit about their approach to the Van Helsing reboot.
Moreover, a separate report has surfaced claiming that Universal is also eyeing a potential franchise for last month’s horror film Mama, though the pic’s director isn’t exactly keen on expanding the premise into a sequel. Hit the jump to read on.
We’ve got a host of new images from the following Universal Pictures films opening in 2013:
- About Time – A new image featuring Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson, who star in this time-traveling sci-fi dramedy from writer/director Richard Curtis. About Time opens May 10th.
- Fast and Furious 6 – One new image of Paul Walker and Vin Diesel who return for the sixth installment of the streetcar franchise directed by Justin Lin. Fast and Furious 6 opens May 24th.
- Identity Thief - 16 images from director Seth Gordon’s crime comedy starring Jason Bateman as a victim of Melissa McCarthy’s thieving. Identity Thief opens February 8th.
- Jurassic Park 3D – A new image from the 3D re-release of the 1993 Steven Spielberg movie, roaring into theaters on April 5th.
Hit the jump to see the images.
Universal picked up a sci-fi action script that The Adjustment Bureau director George Nolfi will co-wrote with Andrew Knauer. Nolfi and Knauer met while working on The Last Stand, Knauer’s spec script that lured Arnold Schwarzenegger back to movies. Nolfi was hired to rewrite The Last Stand, and was impressed enough to recruit Knauer to collaborate on the “high concept” sci-fi actioner. Details beyond that description are unfortunately scarce, but THR confirms Nolfi is looking to direct and produce alongside Michael Hackett (Paycheck).
I was really impressed with The Adjustment Bureau, especially since it was Nolfi’s directorial debut after a decade as a writer on the likes of Ocean’s Twelve and The Bourne Ultimatum. I am excited to see what Nolfi has to offer going forward. He has several chances to impress me lined up, including the Facebook thriller XOXO (produced by Darren Aronofsky) and the Cuban missile crisis drama One Minute to Midnight.
It’s hard to overestimate the impact of Universal’s classic monster movies. They brought the themes and techniques of German Expressionism straight to Hometown U.S.A. and forever defined our notion of horror movies in the process. Every Halloween decoration ever made owes them some debt. Every onscreen boogeyman and misunderstood outcast can trace their roots back to them. They’ve become so ingrained in pop culture that we scarcely acknowledge their existence anymore… save during moments like this one, when they make the leap onto a new medium. As part of their 100th anniversary celebration, Universal has packaged eight of them into an “Essentials” Blu-ray collection, a handsome set that nonetheless stumbles into a number of expected pitfalls. Hit the jump for my full review.
If you’ve been following along with us here at Limited Paper, you know that we’re currently knee-deep in Fantastic Fest 2012, right here in our hometown of Austin, TX. As everyone expected, Mondo’s going to have a huge presence at Fantastic Fest this year, dropping new posters for Dredd 3D, Room 237, Looper, and…well, there are a few other surprises in the works, and we’re going to be covering the Mondo presence at Fantastic Fest 2012 all weekend long.
But let’s pause for just a moment to look ahead, all the way to October 19th. What’s happening then? Oh, nothing wildly exciting: just the biggest gallery show Mondo’s ever held, one centered entirely upon their Universal Monsters license. After you’ve changed pants, meet me after the jump for everything we know about October’s Universal Monsters show at the Mondo Gallery.
47 Ronin is an intriguing project, in part because Universal plucked Carl Rinsch from relative obscurity to direct the 3D samurai tentpole. It seems the studio regrets that decision, and wants to heighten the intrigue in all the worst ways a cinephile can imagine. Rinsch has reportedly been removed from the editing room; Universal co-chairwoman Donna Langley will oversee the final cut. A source involved with the production said the budget escalated from the planned $175 million to a prohibitive $225 million, although the studio denies that number. Keanu Reeves stars as one of the 18th century samurai who seek to avenge their master’s death, which lends some star power to the movie. But the rest of the cast—featuring Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Kô Shibasaki, and Rinko Kikuchi—is mostly Japanese. [Edit: To clarify, I have no problem with the nationality of the other actors. See explanation in the comments.] Add in the period setting and the lack of built-in brand awareness, and it is surprising Universal trusted an unproven director with so much money in the first place.
But Universal is ready to rectify that. Find out how after the jump.
Safe House grossed $200 million worldwide once it was released in February. This fact surprised me, but that’s on me, because the natural result of an action movie that co-stars Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds is $200 million. And the natural result of $200 million is Safe House 2. According to Heat Vision, Universal has commissioned Safe House writer David Guggenheim to write that follow-up to the winter hit. Neither Washington nor Reynolds is signed for another movie, and Heat Vision could not get their sources to confirm whether Guggenheim is writing a prequel or a sequel.
To go into more detail, we will need to get into spoilers for Safe House. At Collider, we our spoiler safe house is after the jump.
Universal is prepping the Blu-ray release of Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection on October 2. The box set features Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera, and Creature from the Black Lagoon. There are 12 hours of bonus features and a 48-page book with behind-the-scenes photographs and original posters. Notably,Creature from the Black Lagoonis presented in 3D as it was filmed. Basically, if you are a fan of the Universal monsters, this sounds like a godsend.
Hit the jump for the press release with details on the special features that accompany each movie and a look at the box art.
We learned last month that, in addition to a direct sequel to Despicable Me, Illumination Entertainment is planning a spinoff centered on the minions. The movie will look to corner the holiday toy market, as Deadline hears that Universal (Illumination’s distribution partner) has scheduled the untitled minions spinoff for December 19, 2014. Not much is known about the movie, other than its focus on the unintelligible-yet-adorable yellow creatures and their interactions with humans, and it will be 3D. Despicable Me directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud are returning to helm both Despicable Me 2 (scheduled for July 3, 2013) and the spinoff. Illumination’s Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy are producing. Hit the jump to watch the minion-centric teaser for Despicable Me 2.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk) has been tapped to pen Earthquake, a disaster pic produced by J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk for Universal. The picture is a fresh take on natural disaster fare and only shares a title and a subject with Universal’s previous effort in 1974 starring Charlton Heston. Earthquake may now set itself up to compete with New Line’s own earth shaking project, San Andreas 3D. Deadline reports that the Universal project first had David Seltzer (The Omen) attached to write in 2008 and now gains momentum with Black in the mix. The writer’s most recent projects include J. Edgar, an adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s book Under the Banner of Heaven for Warner Bros. and a script for Fox’s Barefoot Bandit.
While Universal Pictures skipped CinemaCon/ShoWest the past couple of years, they more than made up for it with the best presentation of 2012. While all the studios have great-looking movies arriving in 2012 and 2013, I wanted to see every single movie Universal talked about at CinemaCon In addition, not only did they bring in the movie stars and directors, they world premiered footage from nine movies including Les Miserables, Ted, Savages, This is 40, R.I.P.D., Oblivion, The Bourne Legacy, Snow White and the Huntsman, and 47 Ronin. In addition, they made sure to remind attendees that while filming hasn’t started on Fast and Furious 6 (the working title), it’s arriving next May, and Despicable Me 2 opens in July. For what I thought about all the movies plus a complete video blog recap, hit the jump.