INTERNATIONAL BOX OFFICE SMASHING 4.3 BILLION
International film distribution executives, like salesmen everywhere, are perennial cheerleaders, passionately touting every new season's product as the best ever. This summer they got it rightin spades.
For the first time, five of the six Motion Picture Assn. companies topped $1 billion in overseas box office revenue for the year by the end of July (only three had passed that mark by the same time in 2006). During the weekend release period that ended Aug. 19, six films each raked in more than $10 million from foreign theaters, another first. And those are just two of the legion of records smashed during "a summer for the ages," as Disney international exec David Kornblum calls it.
This year's overseas summer season is estimated to have brought in record box office revenue of $4.3 billion, compared to last year's $3.2 billion, a hike of about 30%.
With an estimated $7 billion already in the coffers from January to August, industry execs express confidence that last year's record of $8.6 billion can be toppled. The foreign exchange rate, especially between the euro and the dollar, has also helped to bump up revenue from abroad.
"This year is definitely on track to be the biggest of all time in the international market," Sony Pictures Releasing International distribution president Mark Zucker added.
TOBY MAGUIRE ATTACKS LEAD FOR ROBOTECH
After slipping on a mask for Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire might be slipping into a giant robot for "Robotech."
After a lengthy negotiation, Warner Bros. Pictures has picked up the rights to bring anime classic "Robotech," which featured giant robots known as mechas, to the big screen. Maguire is producing through his Maguire Entertainment banner and is eyeing the lead role in what the studio plans on being a tentpole sci-fi franchise.
"We are very excited to bring 'Robotech' to the big screen," Maguire said. "There is a rich mythology that will be a great foundation for a sophisticated, smart and entertaining film."
Drew Crevello also is producing through his Supercool Hollywood BigTime Prods. Craig Zahler ("The Brigands of Rattleborge") has been tapped to write the screenplay.
"Robotech" was a cartoon series during the 1980s from Harmony Gold USA and Tatsunoko Prods. It was re-edited and re-dialogued to combine three Japanese anime series to give the producers enough episodes to air as a daily syndicated series.
FIRST BUY AT TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL
In one of the first sales from the Toronto fest, IFC Entertainment picked up all North American rights to Baltasar Kormakur's cop thriller "Jar City."
The Icelandic feature is the highest-grossing film in its country's history. It was an official selection at last week's Telluride fest and won the 2007 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival's top award. IFC will release the film via its day-and-date First Take program.
The adaptation of Arnaldur Indrioason's detective novel tracks a father desperate to discover how his young daughter died of a rare genetic disease not in his lineage, and a detective searching for the murderer of a two-bit criminal. The detective's search leads him to "Jar City," a repository for preserved body parts including the brain of a young girl who died decades earlier. Their paths collide as the mystery unfolds.
Kormakur's resume includes the Icelandic comedy "101 Reykjavik," the drama "The Sea" and the thriller "A Little Trip to Heaven" starring Forest Whitaker.
ICM reps Kormakur, and his film is one of a few the agency is shopping in Toronto. Others include Jessica Yu's "Ping Pong Playa" (with The Firm) and Roger Spottiswoode's Rwanda drama "Shake Hands with the Devil."
IFC VP acquisitions and production Arianna Bocco, and director of acquisitions and production Lizzie Nastro, repped IFC in the deal. Trust Films and ICM co-represented North American rights. Trust sales executive Natja Noviani Rosner negotiated on behalf of the company, which also represents worldwide sales.Return from Entertainment News September 8 to Entertainment News