Bits & Bytes: News Roundup

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Hollywood no longer dominates box office in the third-largest market in the world.

Mark Schilling from Variety has a great article about the diminishing Japanese box office returns for major Hollywood films: A decade ago, foreign films released in Japan grabbed a 67% market share ($1.4 billion gross), but that percentage fell to 34.3% ($689 million) in 2012 — the fifth straight year foreign films failed to cross the 50% line.

Some swings in market share can be explained by the reign of blockbusters (the “Harry Potter” series pushed Hollywood’s share up, while anything by Japanese anime auteur Hayao Miyazaki sends foreign entries packing), but a downward trend that goes back to 2006, when Japanese films took a majority share (52.3%) after 21 years of foreign reign, goes deeper.

U.S.-based media consultant Geoffrey Bossiere doesn’t believe the current pendulum swing away from Hollywood is purely a matter of box office physics. Hollywood tentpole pics, he observes, are becoming ever-more oriented toward destruction, violence and loud soundtracks. Watching such films at last year’s CinemaCon, he saw little that would entice Japanese audiences. Bossiere adds that he is not anti-tentpole: “As long as they have a really moving or tragic storyline or a really unique concept, they can work in Japan,” he says. More..

Murder, She Wrote..Again?

Octavia-Spencer1Maybe they’ll change it to ‘Murder, She Tweeted..’. NBC is reviving the onetime Universal TV series that aired for years on CBS, placing Octavia Spencer in the starring role once held by Angela Lansbury and giving the project a put pilot committment.

David Janollari and Alexandra Cunningham (“Desperate Housewives”) will exec produce the drama, which will aim for a light, contemporary feel, according to NBC. Spencer will play the hospital administrator and amateur sleuth who self-publishes her first mystery novel, then becomes an active participant in true crime investigations.

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George Clooney’s ‘Monuments Men’ Moves To Feb. 7

Sony has shifted George Clooney’s WWII drama “The Monuments Men” to Feb. 7.

Move came two days after Clooney announced that the film would not be ready in time to make its original Dec. 18 release date — forcing Sony to ditch its awards campaign. The studio had already begun marketing the film as an Oscar contender with two theatrical trailers and had hired an awards consultant to promote the film.

“Monuments Men,” which is based on the book by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter, tells the true story of a motley crew of historians and art dealers, who were sent behind enemy lines to rescue stolen art from the Nazis. The film is a Sony-Fox co-production with Sony handling the U.S. release.

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J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan Take Over Writing Duties on ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’

J.J. Abrams and “Star Wars” veteran Lawrence Kasdan have taken over screenwriting duties on “Star Wars: Episode VII,” replacing “Toy Story 3″-scribe Michael Arndt, who was originally hired to pen the project.

“I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “There are very few people who fundamentally understand the way a ‘Star Wars’ story works like Larry, and it is nothing short of incredible to have him even more deeply involved in its return to the big screen. J.J. of course is an incredible storyteller in his own right. Michael Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point and we have an amazing filmmaking and design team in place already prepping for production.”

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Paramount Moves ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ to Martin Luther King Weekend

While it is still waiting to officially date “Wolf of Wall Street,” Paramount Pictures and Skydance have made some changes to its calendar moving “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” from its Christmas Day slot to Jan. 17, 2014.

Pic stars Chris Pine and Kevin Costner and is also being released in Imax.

If director Martin Scorsese gets his final cut of “Wolf of Wall Street” done in time, it’s likely that the Christmas Day slot is where what the studio would choose. While a decision has not been made, this may be a preliminary move to make room for the film. That said, Par has not shied away from having multiple Christmas releases in the past.

The studio will release “Labor Day” limited on Christmas Day, followed by a nationwide expansion sometime in January.

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