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Multiple Film Studios Fighting Over JJ Abrams For $500M+ Exclusivity Deal

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Hollywood mega-producer, creator of hit shows Lost and Fringe, and director of the multi-billion dollar smash success Star Wars: The Force Awakens JJ Abrams is reportedly being courted by multiple film studios for an overall exclusivity deal that would reportedly fund multiple film projects straight off the bat, and also allow options for a multitude of cross-platform opportunities for the genre auteur.

Seemingly learning from his friend, idol, and mentor Steven Spielberg, Abrams is seeking a deal that would encapsulate films, TV series, digital content, music, games, consumer products, and theme park rides, seeking to become a ‘brand’ in his own right. The deals allegedly being floated are supposedly within the half-a-billion-dollars range – incredible for a creator who has yet to create a major franchise of his own, at least in the same league as Indiana Jones, Star Wars, or the MCU.

Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger and Disney studio chairman Alan Horn are seemingly in the lead for the deal, presently, with Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Jeff Shell and Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley a close second. Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara is supposedly bringing up the rear, due to their lack of a dedicated theme park, which considerably limits their expansion options. Disney are holding out in front due to their working relationship with Abrams, following his work on The Force Awakens, and current directing gig on Episode IX (both for the House of Mouse-owned Lucasfilm), however Universal already has a similar deal with Spielberg – an undoubtedly attractive prospect to the Super 8 director. If Abrams does jump ship from his regular home of Paramount Pictures, who aren’t even in the running according to sources close to the matter, it would serve as yet another significant blow for the ailing studio.

None of the parties involved have released statements to the press as of yet, seemingly wishing to play their cards close to their chest as a deal nears, and updates are expected shortly.

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Rosamund Pike and Richard Madden Join BAFTA Jury to Decide EE Rising Star Award Shortlist

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Rosamund Pike Movie Marker

BAFTA nominated actress Rosamund Pike, actor Richard Madden, actor and producer Ray Panthaki and film broadcaster, Edith Bowman, joined the EE Rising Star Award jury to help choose the shortlist for the 2019 award.

Now in its fourteenth year, recipients of the EE Rising Star Award continue to read like a who’s who of the acting world with all past nominees and winners enjoying major box office success. It is the only award at the esteemed ceremony to be voted for by the British public and previous winners include James McAvoy, Eva Green, Juno Temple, Tom Hardy, Kristen Stewart, Noel Clarke, Jack O’Connell, Will Poulter, John Boyega, Tom Holland and last year’s winner, Daniel Kaluuya.

Meeting at BAFTA’s headquarters at 195 Piccadilly, London, the jury debated which five nominees deserve to go head to head and face the public vote ahead of the 2019 EE British Academy Film Awards. The shortlist will be announced on Thursday 3rd January and the winner will be revealed at the ceremony on Sunday 10th February.

Sitting alongside Rosamund Pike and Richard Madden on the jury panel at 195 Piccadilly were an outstanding line-up of industry experts gathered to discuss the long-list of emerging talent. The jury was chaired by Alison Thompson, Co-President of Cornerstone Films. It also included Lucy Bevan, industry-leading casting director for Murder on the Orient Express, Cinderella and Pirates of the CaribbeanLeo Davis, renowned casting director for The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, Layer Cake and The Constant Gardener;and Georgina Lowe, acclaimed producer for Peterloo, Happy-Go-Lucky and Another Year. The jury was completed by prominent film and arts journalists including broadcaster Edith Bowman and film critic Anna Smith.

Rosamund Pike said: “To be asked to join this year’s EE Rising Star Award panel is an exciting honour. It’s been fascinating watching the breadth of talent in an incredible array of films. Making the shortlist decision won’t be easy as the calibre of the acting is so high but I’m looking forward to discussing and deliberating with my fellow jurors, to ensure we have the best possible shortlist for the public vote.”

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Maria Laura Antonelli/AGF/REX/Shutterstock (6323488bh)

Richard Madden said: “I was thrilled when I received the call inviting me to be a part of the decision making on this year’s EE Rising Star Award panel. It’s a very important category and it’s been exciting to watch these actors and actresses shine in their different parts. Today is going to be very interesting as we sit down to discuss who we each think deserves a nomination.”

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Lost Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Cartoon, Precursor to Mickey Mouse, Discovered in Japan

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Neck ‘n’ Neck, one of the seven Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons thought lost to the annals of time, has been discovered by an anime historian in Japan.

The cartoon, first released by Disney in 1928, was in the hands of Yasushi Watanabe. The cartoon collector had bought a 16mm copy of the feature for the equivalent of $4.40 in Osaka when he was in high school almost 70 years ago, utterly oblivious to its significance.

“As I’ve been a Disney fan for many years, I’m happy that I was able to play a role,” Watanabe said in an interview with a local newspaper. The original Neck ‘n’ Neck, which aired as a supplementary feature in cinemas, was five minutes in length. However, the cartoon was cut down to just two minutes for the 16mm version that was sold for home projection use, which unfortunately does mean that 60% of the original feature still remains lost.

Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks created Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in 1927 and created twenty-six cartoons featuring the character that were then distributed by Universal Studios. Oswald was Walt Disney’s first original character, and his success acted as the launchpad for the business that is now worth $92 billion.

Unfortunately, in 1928, Walt Disney lost control of the character following a bitter contract disagreement with Oswald’s producer Charles Mintz, and Mintz would in fact wrangle the character over to Universal full-term, where he would stay until 2006. Following the loss of his flagship character, Walt would decide to make a replacement to be the face of his new cartoon business, and went on to create Mickey Mouse who debuted that same year in the black-and-white classic Steamboat Willie.

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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Eyeing $250M Debut

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Forthcoming, magical prequel/sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is on track for a spellbinding time at the international box office.

The feature, which has been directed by Potter stalwart David Yates and penned by series’ creator JK Rowling, looks poised to potentially score a $65 million domestic debut, though some experts are placing the opening weekend figure closer to $75 million. If those higher estimates hold true, it would put the feature on par with its predecessor, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them ($74 million), which went on to garner $814 million worldwide. The Crimes of Grindelwald is hoping for a higher overall, however, carrying a budget of $200 million compared to the first film’s $175 million.

Globally, the film is on track to take in $250 million in its opening weekend, but that figure could suffer due to a harsher critical reception this time around; The Crimes of Grindelwald currently sits at a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes, and holds a 57 MetaScore, with many critcs decrying the feature as “cluttered“, “unsatisfying“, and “sleep-inducing“.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is in UK cinemas from tomorrow, starring Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, and Johnny Depp, and is rated 12A.

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