UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson announced today Jimmy Horowitz has been promoted to President, Universal Pictures. In his new role, Horowitz will work with Fogelson, Co-Chairman Donna Langley and Vice-Chairman and COO Rick Finkelstein to shape and implement domestic strategic business initiatives and help manage day-to-day business operations. He will report to Fogelson and Finkelstein.

"Jimmy is a critical gatekeeper for our company, someone who all our filmmakers know and respect," said Fogelson. "His deep knowledge of our business and the people we work with make him a trusted strategic advisor who will play a major role in helping us shape the future of this studio."

A key member of Universal's senior management team who has worked at the studio for 18 years, Horowitz previously served as Co-President of Production and Executive Vice President of Universal Pictures, a position he held since July 2006. In that role he has supervised non-creative aspects of production at Universal and has overseen Universal's growing live stage business. Under his leadership, Universal Pictures Stage Productions has had box-office and critical success with Wicked, which has grossed over $1 billion worldwide and Billy Elliot, which won 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical in 2009. As President, Horowitz will add the oversight of Chris Meledandri's Illumination Entertainment and Universal's relationship with Relativity Media to his portfolio.

"Jimmy is a trusted colleague and friend," said Langley. "He's a skillful negotiator who has the right instincts and judgment to help us move forward Universal's agenda in the face of any challenge. This is a well-deserved promotion."

Horowitz was appointed Executive Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs for Universal Pictures in January 2002. In this position, he oversaw the business and legal affairs departments and all of Universal's term deals. Previously, he served as Senior Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs starting in October 1999. Horowitz joined Universal's feature legal department in 1992.

Prior to joining the studio, Horowitz served as counsel for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). He also practiced labor law at Manatt, Phelps, et al. and later at Greenberg Glusker, et al. until 1990. Horowitz earned his JD degree from George Washington University Law School and graduated cum laude from Tulane University in 1983 with a BA in political science.

 

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spielbergabrams.pngSource: Variety

Paramount has confirmed that J.J. Abrams will sit in the director's chair, with Steven Spielberg producing on Super 8, the top-secret project revealed earlier this week (read our earlier article here). All that is known about the flick at this time is that it is inspired by the films that Abrams loved growing up (it is not a Cloverfield prequel, as previously rumored). The first teaser will be attached to Iron Man 2.

Abrams reinvigorated the Star Trek franchise last summer, and he's currently attached only as a producer on the sequel. Paramount has already pegged a June 29, 2012 release date for the next Trek installment.

As for Spielberg, he recently committed to directing War Horse.

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5/6/10 Update (10:20 a.m. PT): MovieTickets.com is reporting 842 sold-out showings for Iron Man 2, 255 of which are for midnight shows. Meanwhile, Fandango is reporting sold-out showings at specific locations such as NYC's AMC Loews Lincoln Square Cinemas (which has added a 3:10 a.m. Thursday night/Friday morning showtime), San Francisco's Metreon, Chicago's AMC Loews 600 North Michigan, and L.A.'s Universal CityWalk Cinemas.

5/5/10 Update: MovieTickets.com is reporting that Iron Man 2 currently has 810 sold-out showings. The Paramount release also accounts for 84 percent of daily sales on the ticketing site as of 10:30 a.m. PT.

4/28/10 Update: MovieTickets.com is reporting that Iron Man 2 is outselling Iron Man by a margin of 5 to 1 at the same point in the sales cycle.

4/21/10 Update: The rush of summer blockbusters will begin on May 7 with Iron Man 2, and it's bound kick things off with a bang.

ironman2news2.png

MovieTickets.com is already reporting 49 sold-out showings for the Paramount release. Meanwhile, in a poll conducted on the site, 75 percent of moviegoers who are aware of the film plan on seeing it opening weekend.

The original Iron Man opened to $102.1 million in May 2008. BoxOffice.com is currently predicting a $145 million opening for the sequel.

 

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gretagerwig.pngSource: Deadline New York

After appearing in such mumblecore films as LOL and Hannah Takes the Stairs, Greta Gerwig is on her way to the mainstream. The young actress recently starred opposite Ben Stiller in Greenberg, and now Warner Bros. is reportedly in discussions with her about taking on the love interest role in the studio's remake of Arthur, the classic Dudley Moore comedy.

Russell Brand is playing the title role, Helen Mirren will fill the mentor position that Sir John Gielgud occupied in an Oscar-winning turn. As for Gerwig, she'll be taking over Liza Minnelli's role.

The Arthur remake could turn out to be a big hit if Brand's stock rises after the release of Get Him to the Greek this summer.

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Total tweets for May 7th Openers

upcoming050710.jpgIron Man 2 racked up another 20,339 tweets on Wednesday, or 42.6% of all buzz on Twitter for wide-release films opening in the next 4 months. By comparison, The Twilight Saga: New Moon had 72,431 tweets its Wednesday before release, and Alice In Wonderland had 17,743. Really the film keeps me guessing to say the least. There is no denying that it will be huge but its expansion this week is hardly what I would have expected given my last 9 months of research. All I can theorize is that its foreign openings really boosted its early buzz which frontloaded its number. Week's ago I had posted that I thought its ratio would be 1,500, but I then second guessed myself due to all the prerelease hype and massive numbers last week. However, as it turns out that might be not far from where we end up. If I look up other action blockbusters such as 2012, Avatar or Clash of the Titans they came in with ratios of 676, 1110, and 824 respectively. While I have no doubt this film will surpass those ratios due to the increased hype with being the first big summer actioner, being a sequel and having more of an appeal to all quadrants, perhaps 1,500 would indeed be a more realistic number.

Tweet ratings have remained largely positive (25.06% positive and 5.34% negative yesterday) which is a great sign and it has been soaking up ~50% of all upcoming movie buzz for Summer openers (on a sidenote, yesterday it accounted for a seemingly low 42% compared to other days but that was in large part due to the Machete clip which generated over 5,000 tweets). Look for it to end the week with 100,000 tweets, which when paired with a ratio of 1,500 should give it ~$67 million for Friday and $153 million for the 3 day weekend.

Check back tomorrow to see the Thursday numbers and my final predictions. Follow @AlexBOXOFFICE on Twitter for additional updates.

Twitter tracking history. (For 2009's ratio history please check here.)

alltweets043010.jpgThe ratio is the number of tweets per $1 million of Friday Box Office gross. A film with 1,000 tweets and a $10 million Friday would therefore have a ratio of 100. In general, films that appeal to very young or older audiences have lower ratios since those audiences are not big users of Twitter. By comparison, films that appeal to younger audiences (18-35) have much higher ratios since those audiences are much more active users of Twitter.

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