The three-time Oscar nominee worked with many of Hollywood’s most iconic leading men — including Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Glenn Ford, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, and Frank Sinatra — and such storied directors as William Wyler, Frank Capra, Otto Preminger and Robert Wise. Eleanor Parker died Monday in Palm Springs of pneumonia complications. She was 91. She earned back-to-back Best Actress Academy Award noms for Caged (1951) and Detective Story (1952) and added a third just three years later for Interrupted Melody (1955). Parker starred in dozens of films and TV shows during her 50-year career, but she’s perhaps most widely remembered as the Baroness in the 1965 Best Picture winner The Sound Of Music. On the big screen, she also starred in such films as Scaramouche, The Man With The Golden Arm, The King And Four Queens, A Hole In The Head and Panic Button. By the 1970s, Parker was focusing on TV, and she earned a Best Actress Golden Globe nom for the 1969-70 series Bracken’s World. She went on to appear on such series as Hawaii Five-O, Vega$, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island and Murder, She Wrote.
Amid the hustle, bustle and occasional tussle of holiday shopping and preparation, sometimes you just want to have a pint with your pals. The World’s End stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright have the right idea in this season’s greeting sent out tonight by Focus Features. I guess pulling in $46 million worldwide could put you in a celebratory mood.
In September, Universal Pictures International crossed the $2B mark at the overseas box office for the first time in its 101-year existence. In keeping with that record performance, it could soon see animated sequel Despicable Me 2 break another record, becoming the highest-grossing film (animated or not) in Universal’s history. That’s because it recently secured a January 10th release date in China, the booming box office territory that is now the world’s second-largest market. China has been good to Universal; films like Les Misérables and Fast & Furious 6 were big hits there this year. Although the first Despicable Me was not released theatrically in China, local audiences are familiar with the Minions through VOD and DVD. China is the last international territory where DM2 will go out after making more than $551M abroad. Combined with the domestic cume of $367.2M, the worldwide total is now $918.7M. To reach the record goal of becoming the studio’s biggest hit ever, it would need to make about $11M in China. That’s not a stretch.
But with the yin, sometimes comes the yang. Shifting territories to Japan, in what looks like a rare misstep for the studio, 47 Ronin — the pricey 3D samurai film starring Keanu Reeves and a Japanese cast – opened in its first territory on Friday and fared worse than expected. I understand the studio puts the production budget, after tax incentives, at $175M. Over the weekend, estimates for the film in China were $1.3M at 333 dates for a No. 3 spot behind two local pics. But the actuals told a different tale and came in with a gross of $1.05M in the No. 5 slot. It is still the top film from a major for the weekend in a territory that is notoriously keen on local pics. Insiders say the Japan result is “not a catastrophic hit” for the studio’s financial year with accounting adjustments having been anticipated. Although the result is an underperform, I’m cautioned that “Japan is the kind of market where opening weekend doesn’t necessarily forecast the rest of the film’s run.” The sun hasn’t set, in other words. The film rolls out in Singapore and Malaysia on December 19th, Indonesia the next day and has 15 more territories opening the last weekend of 2013, including the UK and Spain. It launches in U.S. on Christmas Day.
Japan can be a thorny territory. It lost its standing as the world’s No. 2 movie market when it was outpaced by China in 2012. And Japanese films have consistently been dominant at home since 2008, hitting a 47-year high of 65.7% in 2012. Tastes have changed over the years as moviegoers seek lighter fare. Among the films that are performing more strongly than 47 Ronin was Lupin vs. Conan, an animated TV series adaptation, the likes of which often have a built-in success factor. An exec in Japan told me this summer, “Almost every hit movie is related to TV.” Or they’re animated and franchise pics. That’s borne out by the fact that this year, of the top 10 films in Japan, only two are from Hollywood. One is animated sequel Monsters University and the other is Ted, the Universal pic that hails from Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane. Based on an 18th century Japanese legend, 47 Ronin skewed to older audiences.
More (and diverse) international box office to come…
EXCLUSIVE: Patrick Heusinger (Gossip Girl, Royal Pains) has been cast as the male lead in Tin Man, NBC’s drama pilot from top feature writer Ehren Kruger. Set in the near future, Tin Man is a psychological crime thriller that focuses on fugitive robot Adam (Heusinger) accused of first-degree murder, who may hold the key to the future of human evolution, and the young female public defender forced to fight for his cause. Adam, a robotic valet, became a murder suspect after his builder and master was found stabbed to death. Kruger is executive producing the pilot with Daniel Bobker and John Glenn. D.J. Caruso is directing. Heusinger got the attention of NBC executives with his arc on the network’s drama Revolution this season. He is with Gersh and Kyle Luker.