In the Universal Pictures-centric Wrap Up this week:

There are some Funny People at the top of the box office; Ron Howard puts together the pieces of Robert Ludlum’s Parsifal Mosaic; Judd Apatow’s films are now Universal; Charlize Theron is Florence of Arabia; Jesus Christ Superstar has been 2000 years in the making and there’ll be some action on The Lords Day (not a religious film!).
Box Office
It looks like the Judd Apatow brand may be losing some power. The Adam Sandler-headlined dramedy, Funny People, grossed just over $22 million this weekend.

With a reported $70 million budget, the film will need strong legs and good international sales to see any sort of profitability. The films serious subject matter (cancer) and long running time (2 ½ hours) are some of the main reasons cited for the lack-lustre opening.

Showing that no concept is too crazy to be popular, G-Force banked about $18 million over the weekend. With $67 million in the bank already, this looks to be producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s eighteenth $100 million grosser.

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince brought in another $17 million this weekend giving the film a magical $254 million total. That’ll buy an awful lot of broomsticks!

The Ugly Truth made another $14 million this weekend giving the Katherine Heigl/Gerard Butler comedy a $55 million total. With a production budget of under $40 million this should be a nice little earner for all involved.

“Shonky” looking comedy Aliens in the Attic grossed a not so good $8 million over the weekend. The film stars High School Musical’s Ashley Tisdale. Did somebody really think that spending close to $50 million on this was a good idea?

Horror pic Orphan should bank another $6.5 million, while Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs managed to grab another $5 million.

The Hangover keeps hanging in there and banked another $4.5 million.

With another $4 million over the weekend, Transformers 2 is fast approaching a $400 million domestic gross.

Movie News

1. Having directed film adaptations of Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons, it looks like Ron Howard will now turn his attention to the literary works of Robert Ludlum.

According to Variety, Howard is attached to direct The Parsifal Mosaic for Universal Pictures.

Road to Perdition and Thirteen Days scribe David Self has been bought in to write the script.

“[The novel is ] about a CIA operative who thinks he witnessed the execution of his lover after she was identified as a KGB double agent.”

Universal is plowing through the works of Ludlum and adapting them for the big screen. They’ve already made a trilogy of films out of the author’s Bourne books, with a fourth on the way. The studio is also developing The Sigma Protocol and now The Parsifal Mosaic.

One can only imagine that it has franchise possibilities.

Source: Variety

2. Funny People may have had a disappointing debut, but Judd Apatow won’t have to worry about being unemployed. The writer/producer/director has signed a deal with Universal Pictures to write and direct three films.

While the 2½ hour long Funny People may struggle to get to $100 million, the director’s previous films The 40 year-old Virgin and Knocked Up both hit the century mark, so it would appear that Universal are happy to give Apatow carte blanche.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

3. Charlize Theron has aquired the rights to the satirical novel Florence of Arabia (see what they did there?)

According to Variety:

Florence of Arabia is about a State Dept. employee (to be played by Theron) who, after watching her friend marry the prince of a Middle East country and subsequently get executed, fights for equal rights for the women of that country.”

Dean Craig will write the script for the film.

It sounds like a really, really boring film.

Source: Variety

4. (500) Days of Summer director, Marc Webb, is in talks to direct a remake of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Universal Pictures are apparently interested in remaking the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical, following the huge success of Mamma Mia!

Webb has a background in music videos so he’s not a total left-field choice to direct the film that’ll update the musical from it’s 70’s roots.

The film should conjure up enough controversy and tabloid sensation to ensure that it has a huge opening at least. I mean, we all remember The Passion of the Christ.

I wonder what Mel Gibson thinks?

Source: Hollywood Reporter

5. Taken writer, Robert Mark Kamen, will adapt Michael Dobbs’ high concept novel The Lords Day for the big screen.

“[The book] centers on a hostage takeover of Britain’s House of Lords by terrorists on the first day of a legislative session. The protagonist is Harry Jones, a member of Parliament who is also a former ranking military officer; when Jones attempts to stop the terrorists, he uncovers a more complex and consequential global conspiracy than anyone could have suspected.”

Sounds like Taken meets Jason Bourne by way of Die Hard. I can live with that.

The Dark Knight producer Charles Roven and Steve Alexander will produce the film for Atlas Entertainment.

The filmmakers hope that the movie will be a franchise starter.

I’m guessing that Liam Neeson is going to be top of the casting list.

Source: Hollywood Reporter.

That’s it for now. See you at the movies.