Netflix Brings Back ‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ For Ten Episode Order With Walden Media & Michael De Luca

Read on: Deadline.

The Baby-Sitters Club is back after Netflix ordered a ten-part series based on Ann M. Martin’s best-selling book series.
The SVOD service has ordered a live-action series that will follow that will follow the friendship and babysitting adventures of fi…

UTA Promotes 4 Executives to Partner

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

United Talent Agency had promoted four executives to partner: René Jones, Jim Meenaghan, Rich Shuter and David Spingarn.
They join Chief Operating Officer Andrew Thau as one of the company’s non-agent partners. With these promotions, the agency n…

Jim Meenaghan Named Co-Head of UTA Independent Film Group

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

United Talent Agency has named Jim Meenaghan the co-head of its independent film group.

The executive joins longtime group leader Rena Ronson in the department, a packaging and finance machine that reports to the agency’s David Kramer.

“The partnership of Jim and Rena will be a powerful combination for our clients working in the independent market,” Kramer said in a statement.

Meenaghan comes over from the motion picture business affairs group, which he’ll still oversee. In his new role, he’ll advise on content financing structures and distribution deals.

Also Read: Cannes Film Market ‘Healthy’ as New Players Fill Streaming Giant Void

He’ll also work with Asian markets and is tasked with expanding UTA’s footprint in independent animation (a big seller in international markets of late, like the Michael Jackson chimp stop-motion film “Bubbles,” which sold for $20 million at Cannes two years ago). The group is also a key player on the festival and awards circuit.

“I’m really happy to take on this new role and work closely with Rena and the fantastic team she has built to further expand the focus of the Independent Film Group,” Meenaghan said.

Meenaghan worked with Tang Media Partners on the formation of Global Road Studios, more recently with Australian production company Grace, and with animation studio 3QU Media. Prior to UTA, he served as head of motion picture business affairs for independent studios Walden Media and Icon Films. He started his career at Walt Disney.

During her tenure as head of UTA Independent Film Ronson has doubled the size of the department. Recent high-profile independently financed films, productions and co-productions from UTA include: “The Big Sick,” “I, Tonya,” “I Feel Pretty,” “Lady Bird,” “Hidden Figures,” “Call Me by Your Name,” and “Room.”

Last year, six films the UTA packaged earned 12 Academy Awards and three wins — including Bryan Fogel’s documentary “Icarus.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

UTA Hires Shanique Bonelli-Moore as New Corporate Communications Director

Oscar Winner Helen Hunt Signs With UTA

Ex-Weinstein Company TV Exec Megan Spanjian Joins UTA

Paramount Animation Sets Three New Films, Including ‘SpongeBob’ Sequel

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Paramount Pictures’ animation division announced three new projects at CinemaCon on Wednesday, during a presentation hosted by Jim Gianopulos.

Showing off some Viacom synergy, the most prominent of the titles is “It’s A Wonderful Sponge,” the latest film in the adventures of beloved iconoclast SpongeBob SquarePants. Details are nill on his next adventure but Tim Hill will write and direct.

Skydance, Paramount’s partner on bid budget films, joins the fray on a project called “Luck,” to be directed by Alessandro Carloni. The film follows “organizations of good luck and bad luck that secretly affects our daily lives.”

Also Read: ‘A Quiet Place’ Sequel in Development at Paramount Pictures

Finally, Walden Media and ReelFX will team with the studio on “Monster on the Hill,” about a secret world where monster wrestling is a popular sport. Bradley Raymond will direct.

Read the full projects and credits:

“Monster on the Hill” 
In partnership with ReelFX and Walden Media
Director: Bradley Raymond
Writers: Matt Lieberman, Etan Cohen
Logline: In a world where monsters are tame and monster wrestling is a popular sport, teenage Winnie seeks to follow in her father’s footsteps as a manager by turning an inexperienced monster into a contender.

“It’s A Wonderful Sponge” 
Next installment of the SpongeBob SquarePants movie
In association with Nickelodeon
Director: Tim Hill
Writer: Tim Hill

In partnership with Skydance Animation
Director: Alessandro Carloni
Writers: Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger
Logline: A comedy that pulls back the curtain on the millennia-old battle between organizations of good luck and bad luck that secretly affects our daily lives.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘A Quiet Place’ Sequel in Development at Paramount Pictures

Viacom Boss Bob Bakish Praises New Paramount Management for ‘A Quiet Place’ Success

Paramount TV Promotes David Goldman to President of Business Operations

Sleeper Hit ‘Wonder’ Crosses $300M Worldwide

Read on: Deadline.

UPDATED, 11:15 AM: Wonder, the little film that could, has just crossed $300M and that’s before it heads to Japan. So far, the film has grossed $132.4M domestically and $167.7M internationally through yesterday for a worldwide total of $300.1 million. The highest grossing territory outside of the states is China with $29.4M, followed closely by Brazil with $28.8M. After that, there is a significant drop with Italy with $14.5M, Germany ($10.3M) and Australia ($9.9). It…

Amma Asante To Direct Drama Thriller ‘The Billion Dollar Spy’ For Walden Media

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Amma Asante has been set to direct the upcoming film adaptation of David E. Hoffman‘s drama thriller The Billion Dollar Spy for Walden Media and Weed Road Pictures. Asante is a British writer-director whose A United Kingdom (starring David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike) won critical kudos both here and abroad.
The Billion Dollar Spy is the true story of a man who became the Pentagon’s most valuable spy during the last years of the Cold War. Despite numerous rejections…

The Tale Of Two Films: Walden Media’s ‘The Star’ & ‘Wonder’ Bow On Same Day

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Next weekend Walden Media will see the release of two of its films. Lionsgate is debuting Wonder on Nov. 17 and Sony is also putting the animated feature The Star into the market via their Affirm label. Both films are targeting a family audience. The Lionsgate film is based on a best-selling book of the same name about an 11 year-old boy with facial differences who tries to find his way through school. The Star is an animated film about a group of animals who…

‘A Dog’s Purpose’: How Badly Did Leaked Video, PETA Boycott Hurt Opening?

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“A Dog’s Purpose” experienced a hiccup when a leaked TMZ video from set appeared to show a dog being forced into rough water — but did that affect the film’s opening weekend?

Amblin Entertainment and Walden Media’s film, being released by Universal Pictures, opened to $18.4 million this weekend. While expectations from the studio had put the film to earn in the high-teens to $20 million range, tracking for the canine-themed movie had dropped from an estimated $24 million when the video was leaked, which sparked a call for a boycott by PETA.

The studio, Amblin and the film’s producers have refuted claims that the dog was abused or injured during the making of the film.

Also Read: ‘Split’ Wins 2nd Straight Weekend at the Box Office

According to the Los Angeles Times, dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the Arclight theater in Hollywood on Friday asking people to boycott the film. Other media outlets reported that protests were planned all over the country, including New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago.

However, an $18 million opening for the film is good, financially, given that it only cost an estimated $22 million to produce.

“All things considered, this can be considered a solid result particularly in light of the firestorm surrounding the film, the PETA boycott and the whole discussion with respect to the movie,” said senior analyst at comScore, Paul Dergarabedian.

And its CinemaScore of A will prompt good word-of-mouth among families and pet lovers and is a strong indicator that the movie is satisfying to its audiences.

Also Read: Will ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Boycott Take Bite Out of Box Office Debut?

So, yes, the film starring Josh Gad, Dennis Quaid and Britt Robertson opened to less than it had been tracking for before the video was published, but the call for a boycott wasn’t the only factor to blame.

“A Dog’s Purpose” may also have been impacted by the sleeper hit, “Split.” The film starring James McAvoy won its second consecutive weekend at the box office, blowing past newcomers “A Dog’s Purpose” and “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.”

With its solid reviews and stellar opening weekend (where it made $40 million although tracking had suggested it would earn an estimated $22 million), competition for a movie like “A Dog’s Purpose” was stiff. And tracking had been all over the place in the week leading up to the debut of “A Dog’s Purpose.”

Also Read: 5 Reasons Why M Night Shyamalan’s ‘Split’ Doubled Expectations at the Box Office

“‘A Dog’s Purpose’ wound up with a second place debut of $18.4 million and given ‘Split’s’ incredible staying power, this was likely to be the result irrespective of the controversy surrounding the movie,” added Dergarabedian.

To be fair, Lasse Hallstrom’s animal movie did fare better than other films with that subject matter. For example, 2015’s “Max” opened to $12 million. “A Dog’s Purpose” was never destined to be a mega-blockbuster, and it was inline with openings for animal-lover films like “Dolphin’s Tale ($19.1 million) and “Hotel for Dogs” ($17 million) — both of which were not tainted with any sort of PETA protest or boycott.

Dergarabedian added that it is extremely difficult to measure what sort of impact a video like this can have on box office returns.

Also Read: ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Review: Canine Tear-Jerker Fails the Sniff Test

“In general it is tough to measure the impact of scandal on any particular movie’s performance and these have to be looked at on a case by case basis,” he told TheWrap. “It’s almost impossible to statistically quantify any impact of scandal on box office receipts.”

To conclude, the leaked video and PETA’s call for boycott did have an impact on the film’s opening, but it was minimal and other factors contributed, like the diluted marketplace.

And the fact that it appeals to the four-quadrants (drawing in audiences of both genders, young and old) and that it is based on the bestselling book by W. Bruce Cameron, the film will most likely have playability over the next coming weeks.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Split’ Blows Past Newcomers ‘A Dog’s Purpose,’ ‘Resident Evil’ at Friday Box Office

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Is ‘Clumsily Manipulative Dreck’ and 6 Other Gnawing Reviews

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Review: Canine Tear-Jerker Fails the Sniff Test

Walden Media Names Naia Cucukov As SVP Development, Production

Read on: Deadline.

Naia Cucukov who has been at Walden Media since 2013, has been upped to SVP of development and production at the company. On behalf of Walden, Cucukov has overseen production for A Dog’s Purpose, The Giver, and Everest. She was also the executive producer of Steven Spielberg’s The BFG.
She will continue to identify projects and help in their development. Prior to joining Walden, she worked alongside Sir Richard Branson as Director of Development at Virgin Produced. While…