7 Days of Deals
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Redbox vs. Netflix: The DVD Battle Is Heating Up: Those wanting to rent Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 from Redbox had to wait 28 days after the DVD and Blu-ray Disc hit stores. For A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, another Warner Bros. title, the wait was seven days. Such is the confusion wrought by a system that sees Redbox sometimes get discs at a discount through deals with studios and other times buy them through a third party at a higher price.
Fox has a deal for a 28-day delay with Redbox that expires in April 2013. Universal's pact also is for 28 days, good for two more years after the sides re-upped March 1.
Consumers might wonder if a new release is available at one of 35,400 Redbox kiosks nationwide, but Wall Street likes the strategy. The share price of Redbox parent Coinstar rose 5 percent in the two days after the Universal deal. Analyst Eric Wold of B. Riley & Co. called it "significantly positive news" for Redbox, raising to $100 his price target on Coinstar. That's the same target he has on Netflix. His analysis would suggest a shift in power because Coinstar shares would need to rise 64 percent while Netflix would fall 10 percent.
Netflix would still be the more valuable company, worth about $5.5 billion to Coinstar's $3.1 billion (85 percent of its 2011 revenue came from Redbox), but the emergence of Redbox has been an undeniable thorn in Netflix CEO Reed Hastings' side, especially considering its willingness to play hardball on release windows and its planned rollout of a streaming service with Verizon in August.
Warners tried to double its window to 56 days for Redbox and Netflix, and while the former refused to budge, the latter agreed. Early results suggest Redbox is doing fine without a formal Warners deal. "Thus far, we're very pleased," CEO Paul Davis told investors in February. "We're getting the content out there, good national coverage, and we're meeting consumer demands."
Universal reportedly tried for a 56-day window, but the threat of a Redbox workaround -- releases bought elsewhere can hit kiosks for about $1 within seven days, crippling sales of titles in stores -- convinced the studio to re-up at 28 days.
Redbox customers never need to wait more than a month to rent new releases, something Netflix cannot claim. Disney, Paramount, Sony, Lionsgate and Summit provide discs to Redbox day-and-date with retail. "With the DVD kiosk rental segment still experiencing strong revenue growth," said Wold, "we continue to believe Redbox has more power in the home video space than most give it credit." -- Paul Bond
Murphy Brings Back Horror Favorites
American Horror Story co-creator Ryan Murphy made news in December by announcing that season two of the hit FX drama would feature a new cast. But a few key players -- SAG and Golden Globe winner Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters and Lily Rabe -- will indeed return, just playing entirely new characters. "Every year in the series is about a different haunting, so everybody will be playing the opposite of what they played," said Murphy on March 2 of the intriguing twist. The series, which last season killed and made ghosts of characters played by Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott and Taissa Farmiga, is still casting and will begin production in July for a late-October bow. Plot details are sparse, but Murphy said the second season will avoid at least two supernatural tropes. "There are so many great genre subsets of horror," he said. "Our only rule on the show is no werewolves and no vampires." -- Lesley Goldberg
Poof! $100 Million Movie Shrinks to $5 Million
Universal's planned Adaptation of the Hasbro board game Ouija has risen from the dead -- albeit in a very different form. The project, once a $100 million family adventure to be directed by McG (Charlie's Angels), was abandoned in August because of budget concerns. But thanks to producer Jason Blum, whose Paranormal Activity films have set the bar in Hollywood for low-risk, big-reward blockbusters, Ouija has been resurrected as a thriller with a budget in the $5 million range, according to sources. Original producer Platinum Dunes remains, and the studio is seeking a writer and director to execute the new vision. -- Borys Kit
Bruce Willis (CAA, Ziffren Brittenham) will star in the action thriller Five Against a Bullet for Columbia Pictures/Mimran Schur and producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Jordan Schur and David Mimran. Alex Litvak (The Three Musketeers) is writing the script, about a group of bodyguards working to protect a Mexican politician.
The Hangover star Bradley Cooper (CAA) has signed a two-year, first-look deal with Warner Bros. to make films via his 22 & Indiana Pictures banner.
Elizabeth Olsen (Gersh) is in talks to star opposite Josh Brolin in Oldboy, Mandate's remake of the acclaimed South Korean action thriller. Spike Lee is directing, Roy Lee and Doug Davison are producing, and Mandate president Nathan Kahane is executive producing.
A Better Life director Chris Weitz (WME, Morris Yorn) is in negotiations to rewrite Cinderella, Disney's live-action fairy tale that Mark Romanek (Never Let Me Go) is directing and Simon Kinberg produces.
Kristen Bell (CAA, Brookside) has been cast in Some Girls, playing an ex-girlfriend of Adam Brody in the adaptation of a Neil LaBute play.
Harry Potter star Emma Watson (WME, the U.K.'s Markham Froggatt) will topline The Bling Ring from writer-director Sofia Coppola.
Neil Cross (UTA, Independent Talent, Felker Toczek), creator of the BBC police series Luther, has been hired to write The Day of the Triffids, Ghost House's adaptation of the English sci-fi horror novel by John Wyndham.
Columbia Pictures has picked up rights to the Dutch thriller Taped to develop an English-language remake. Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher of Red Wagon will produce.
Alex Holmes (ICM), who wrote the 2008 HBO miniseries House of Saddam, will pen the adaptation of The Expats for CBS Films. The company picked up rights to the Chris Pavone novel in early February.
Producer John Davis (Bloom Hergott) has picked up rights to Archetype, a sci-fi short directed by Aaron Sims, with plans to develop it into Sims' feature helming debut. Newcomers Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy will write the script.
Idris Elba (UTA, Anonymous, the U.K.'s Ken Mcreddie, Felker Toczek) and Taraji P. Henson (Vincent Cirrincione, Stone Meyer) will star in No Good Deed, a thriller from Screen Gems. British helmer Sam Miller will direct.
Shameless star Emmy Rossum (ICM, Schiff Co.) is joining the supernatural love story Beautiful Creatures, Alcon's adaptation of the young-adult novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Richard LaGravanese wrote the script and is directing.
Warner Bros. has acquired rights to Bolivar, an Archaia Entertainment graphic novel, for Weed Road and Stephen Christy to produce. Kealan O'Rourke (Paradigm, 3 Arts) is attached to write and direct the animated project.
Matthew Perry (CAA, Doug Chapin, Surpin & Mayersohn) will reunite with Friends writer Scott Silveri and star in NBC's comedy pilot Go On as a sportscaster who attends group therapy.
Former The King of Queens star and The Talk co-host Leah Remini (UTA, The Collective, Del Shaw) will star in ABC's White Van Man, playing J.K. Simmons' sister in the pilot about a guy who takes over his father's handyman business.
Mira Sorvino (ICM, Untitled, Lichter Grossman) will star as a common-sense mother-turned-New York state trooper in CBS' drama pilot Trooper.
Jeff Goldblum (CAA, Industry, Hansen Jacobson) will guest star in NBC's comedy pilot Susan 313, playing Sarah Silverman's ex-boyfriend in the autobiographical project about a woman who starts over following the demise of a 10-year live-in relationship.
Margo Martindale (Gersh) and Beau Bridges (CAA) have joined Showtime's Masters of Sex pilot, based on sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, with the former Justified star playing a secretary and Bridges a university chancellor.
Former Charlie's Angels star Rachael Taylor (WME, Marquee) has joined ABC's drama pilot 666 Park Avenue, playing half of the couple who take over management of a creepy property.
Dane Cook (UTA, Jackoway Tyerman) will star as a grouchy alpha-male DJ in NBC's comedy pilot Next Caller Please.
Theater veteran Laila Robins (Paradigm) has joined ABC's Roland Emmerich drama, playing a senator's wife in the project about an astrophysics grad student (Max Thieriot) who learns he is the chosen one to destroy the forces of evil.
The Descendants' Oscar-winning screenwriter Nat Faxon (Innovative, Principato Young, Stone Meyer) will star in Fox's comedy pilot Ned Fox Is My Manny, about a single mother (Abby Elliott) whose brother moves in to help with her kids.
Friends With Benefits' Andre Holland (Paradigm, Brookside) has joined NBC's first-family comedy pilot 1600 Penn as the White House press secretary.
Save the Last Dance's Sean Patrick Thomas (Innovative, Untitled) will co-star in The CW's drama pilot The Selection, about a poor woman (Aimee Teegarden) chosen by lottery to participate in a competition to marry into the royal family.
Cougar Town's Josh Hopkins (Gersh, Brillstein, Kraditor & Haber) has joined ABC's comedy pilot Lady Friends about two best friends who lead vastly different lives.
Pan Am's Karine Vanasse (WME, Canada's Amanda Rosenthal) has joined ABC's pilot Scruples as a guest star. She has an option to become a regular if the fashion drama goes to series.
Newcomer Saxon Sharbino (Innovative Artists, Booh Schut Co.) will star as the orphaned 14-year-old daughter of a CIA operative in Fox's untitled teen spy drama from Bones producer Karyn Usher.
FX is developing an animated comedy from Aqua Teen Hunger Force co-creator Matt Maiellaro (Underground) and newcomer Grant Dekernion (Ginsburg Daniels) revolving around a guy just released from prison. Eastbound & Down's Danny McBride will executive produce and may voice a character.
Nikita's Tiffany Hines (Medavoy, Corsa) has joined ABC's pilot Americana, playing the best friend to Ashley Greene's character in the soapy fashion drama.
Kyle XY's Jean-Luc Bilodeau (Buchwald Fortitude, Alchemy, Stone Meyer) will star in ABC Family's drama series Baby Daddy as the lead character whose ex-girlfriend leaves their baby on his doorstep.
Switched at Birth's Vanessa Marano (Paradigm, Marano) will guest star as a patient on ABC's Grey's Anatomy.
Alcon Entertainment (The Blind Side) has formed a television unit to develop, finance and produce original programming.
HBO has ordered a four-episode docuseries about war photojournalists from Luck executive producer Michael Mann. … MTV has ordered Teen Mom 3, with a new set of girls likely to be featured from its upcoming fourth edition of 16 and Pregnant. … BBC America and the producers behind U.K. sci-fi series Misfits are teaming to develop the sci-fi series Wired and paranormal crime project The Dead Beat. … Disney XD has snagged the new Pac-Man animated series, Pac-Man: The Adventure Begins, for fall 2013.
HBO has teamed with German gaming group Bigpoint to develop a massive multiplayer online role-playing game based on the network's fantasy drama Game of Thrones.
Universal Pictures Stage Productions is developing the 1978 John Belushi comedy film National Lampoon's Animal House for the stage, with Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon) serving as director and choreographer.
THE BIG NUMBER
2 Billion: Books sold by Agatha Christie, the best-selling novelist of all time, whose estate sold a 64 percent share to Acorn Media on Feb. 29 for an undisclosed sum.
Jason Priestley, known for playing Brandon Walsh on Beverly Hills, 90210, has signed with APA.
Richard Blais, winner of Bravo's Top Chef All-Stars and host of the new Cooking Channel series Reinventing the Meal, has signed with CAA.
Nicholas McCarthy, writer-director of Sundance hit and IFC pickup The Pact, has signed with UTA.
Adam Richman, host of Travel Channel's Man v. Food, has signed with WME.
Jay Russell, who directed Tuck Everlasting, Ladder 49 and The Water Horse, has signed with APA.
Taj Stansberry, who directed Jennifer Lopez's music video for "On the Floor," has signed with Gersh.
THE NEXT BIG THING: Jeananne Goossen
Reps: Green & Associates, Magnolia
Why She Matters: The Canadian actress, who has appeared on Alcatraz and in box-office smash The Vow, landed the female lead opposite Kevin Bacon in Fox's hot Kevin Williamson crime thriller pilot.