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12 July 2012

Gaming, Entertainment, Hollywood and Celebrity News

Gaming, Entertainment, Hollywood and Celebrity News: Sydney casino, Spider-Man movie, movie ratings, The Wolverine, Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, James Bond 007 in Skyfall, Highest paid actors includes "The Rock" and more...

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Australia's Lend Lease: development could host small-scale casino...

A planned $6 billion development on Sydney Harbour does not have space for a large casino but could cater for smaller-scale VIP gaming, developer Lend Lease said on Monday, which would suit a proposal put forward by billionaire James Packer.

Packer outlined a plan for an international hotel and casino at Barangaroo, on Sydney's waterfront, after his company Crown Ltd doubled its stake in its main rival, Echo Entertainment, which owns Sydney's sole casino.

Crown wants to raise its stake in Echo to 25 percent from 10 percent, as part of its plans to lobby for a second Sydney casino licence to attract more Asian high-rollers.

The developer of the site, Lend Lease, said on Monday it could focus more on plans for the hotel after announcing it has secured A$2 billion ($2.04 billion) funding for the first two commercial towers at its flagship project, including A$1 billion committed by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

Lend Lease chief executive Steve McCann said the site did not have the capacity for a mass-market casino.

"If there was going to be anything in the tower with any gaming capacity, it would be VIP-style gaming," he told analysts on a conference call.

The New South Wales state government would need to approve any gaming licence, since Echo currently holds Sydney's exclusive casino licence until 2019. The state government previously welcomed Packer's proposal as a boost to tourism.

Lend Lease has said it is in talks with a number of hotel groups for the site, including Crown.

Shares in Crown gained 1.5 percent in morning trade and Lend Lease was up 0.3 percent, against a broader market down 0.8 percent. (Reuters)



'Amazing Spider-Man' Tops Box Office, Snares $140 Million Over Six Days...

After a record-setting opening day, "The Amazing Spider-Man" remained strong through the weekend, helping the Sony/Columbia production earn $140 million in less than a week in theaters. Oliver Stone's "Savages" also opened with a decent $16 million in revenue, though music documentary "Katy Perry: Part of Me" struggled to find an audience and racked up just $7 million. Seth MacFarlane's "Ted" also continued to hit with its target demographic, hauling in $32 million and pushing its 10-day total to an enormous $120 million in domestic revenue.

With a $230 million production budget and a very large built-in fan base, expectations were understandably high for "The Amazing Spider-Man." The Sony/Columbia reboot didn't take long to find its audience, racking up $35 million in revenue on Tuesday alone and putting up solid numbers throughout the rest of the week. "The Amazing Spider-Man" ended up with $65 million in weekend revenue, helping it to hit the lofty industry expectations.

Globally, "The Amazing Spider-Man" also got off to a good start by bringing in more than $200 million in revenue outside of the U.S. After already eclipsing $340 million worldwide, "The Amazing Spider-Man" will easily cruise past $500 million in worldwide revenue in the coming weeks, though it's still unclear whether it will be able to challenge the franchise-best $890 million that "Spider-Man 3" brought in. Without any major new competition until "The Dark Knight Rises" opens in a couple weeks, "Spider-Man" should remain a box office stalwart and continue to put up some big overall numbers throughout the rest of the month.

As mainstream action audiences came out in droves to see the new version of "Spider-Man," older audience members turned up for Oliver Stone's thriller "Savages." Backed by some decent critical reviews, "Savages" ended up with a decent $16 million in opening revenue - a strong total for a $45 million production. "Savages" also doesn't have to worry about too much new competition next weekend, opening the door for another decent revenue haul.

While "Spider-Man" and "Savages" mainly hit with their target demographics, "Katy Perry: Part of Me" wasn't quite as fortunate. "Katy Perry" managed just $7.15 million over the weekend and $10.25 million in its first four days following its Thursday release. Though these are unimpressive numbers for a release of more than 2,700 total venues, "Katy Perry" also comes with a slender production budget of just $12 million. "Katy Perry" won't end up as one of the most lucrative music documentaries released in recent years, but it should end up as an overall success for distributor Paramount.

Aiming at a much different demographic than "Katy Perry" this weekend was "Ted," which headed into its second weekend with plenty of buzz. After dominating the box office a week ago and posting $54 million, "Ted" dipped just 40% from its opening totals and finished the weekend with $32 million. Now with $120 million domestically in just 10 days in theaters, "Ted" is easily the top R-rated hit of the year and might even challenge $200 million in the U.S. if it can remain strong in the coming weekends.

Also continuing to hit with its intended audience was Pixar/Disney's "Brave." "Brave" earned $20 million in its third weekend in theaters, pushing it to a very solid $174 million in its first 17 days. Foreign numbers have been slow so far for "Brave," though that should also change as it gets released in its biggest overseas markets in the coming weekends. The only real problem for "Brave" is the impending release of "Ice Age: Continental Drift," which opens this weekend with an enormous built-in family audience.

Next weekend, the release schedule will slow down, as "Ice Age: Continental Drift" is the only new title slated to hit theaters in wide release. Though not as touted as some other animated franchises, "Ice Age" has been a great success for Fox, with enormous worldwide revenues despite production budgets roughly half the size of Pixar releases. The following weekend, Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises" brings a similar amount of hype as "The Avengers" and is a lock to dominate the box office well into August.

Early Studio Box Office Estimates for 7/6/12 - 7/8/12 (In Millions):

1. The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony/Columbia): $65 [$70]

2. Ted (Universal): $32.59 [$32]

3. Brave (Disney): $20.16 [$18]

4. Savages (Universal): $16.16 [$13.5]

5. Magic Mike (Warner Brothers): $15.61 [$21]

6. Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection (Lionsgate): $10.20 [$11.5]

7. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (Paramount/Dreamworks): $7.70 [$6.4]

8. Katy Perry: Part of Me (Paramount): $7.15 [$13]

9. Moonrise Kingdom (Focus): $4.64 [$2.6]

10. To Rome with Love (Sony Classics): $3.50 [N/A]



Hugh Jackman Joined By Six Additions to Cast of The Wolverine...

If director James Mangold's (3:10 to Yuma) The Wolverine hadn't been beset by weather, script and scheduling problems — title star Hugh Jackman opted to star in the musical version of Les Miserables rather than wait for those issues to be sorted out — the movie would currently be in post-production, with potentially enough edited footage to offer at least a teaser at this week's San Diego Comic-Con. As it is, Mangold is spending his time in the casting room, rather than the editing room, as he tries to put together a cast to support Jackman. In the last several days, six actors have joined the cast of The Wolverine, which takes Logan (Jackman) far away from his X-Men teammates and his wilderness retreat in Canada to Japan, where he must fight against the Silver Samurai and the deadly Hand ninjas at his command.

Written by Chris McQuarrie (Valkyrie), with rewrites by Mark Bomback (Live Free or Die Hard), The Wolverine is based on the classic Marvel Comics limited series Wolverine by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, creator of Sin City and 300. The series stripped away Wolverine's superhero trappings and thrust him into a Japanese underworld brimming with feudal warriors and mystical ninjas. According to the list compiled by Empire from various sources, the cast will include: Hiroyuki Sanada (Speed Race) as Japanese crimelord Shingen Harada, leader of Clan Yashida; Tao Okamoto as Shingen's daughter and Wolverine's love interest, Mariko Yashida; Will Yun Lee (Total Recall remake) as Mariko's mutant half-brother, Kenuichio Harada, a.k.a. the Silver Samurai; Rila Fukushima as Yukio, an assassin who drugs Wolverine before his duel with Shingen; Hal Yamanouchi (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) as Yashida; and Brian Tee (Wedding Palace) as Noboru Mori, a corrupt minister of justice betrothed to Mariko.

The Wolverine is set to begin shooting next month. It will primarily be filmed in Jackman's native Australia, but will also shoot on location in Japan.

Next Showing:The Wolverine is slated to open July 26, 2013 (Reelz)


Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson In Highest Paid Actors List...

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was listed at #4 on the Forbes annual list of the highest paid actors in the world over the past year. Johnson was reported as earning $36 million this past year, behind only Tom Cruise ($75 million), Leonardo DiCaprio ($37 million) and Adam Sandler ($37 million).


Bwin.party warns over 'predictable' Euro 2012 results...

Bwin.party digital entertainment, the world’s largest listed online gaming company, said a run of “predictable” results in the Euro 2012 football championships marred an otherwise “solid” second quarter performance.

The football tournament, in which all of the favourites progressed to the later stages, is believed to have hit the betting industry hard this summer.

Bwin said customer numbers and activity rose during the tournament but gross margins were “lower than expected”.

Despite this, the online gambling group said its casino and bingo products helped offset the weakness in sports betting and “continued pressures” in poker.

Bwin had been in negotiations with Shuffle Master (NasdaqGS: SHFL - news) to offload Ongame, its poker network, but talks were aborted at the end of last month after the two sides failed to reach agreement.

In a pre-close trading update on Tuesday, bwin said several parties were interested in buying Ongame.

The group claims it has reached a top three market position in Spain, where online gaming was recently opened up by authorities.

Looking ahead, the company warned gaming taxes in Germany and an investment in social games games that are played through sites such as Facebook would impact its performance in the second half. (News Corp)


Zynga is “all in” to acquire Bwin.party-owned poker business Ongame: Report...

Social gaming juggernaut Zynga is poised to take over online poker provider Ongame Network from its current owner, Internet gambling powerhouse Bwin.party.

An exclusive report from eGaming Review (eGR) – behind a paywall – says Zynga is ‘leading the race’ to acquire Ongame, although there are four other unnamed bidders at the table (poker pun intended).

Zynga has made a ‘verbal offer’, according to eGR’s sources, and have reportedly visited Ongame’s Stockholm headquarters last Friday.

Gambling table and slot machine maker Shuffle Master had already agreed and announced that it would be purchasing for up to $38.9 million in cash in February 2012, but it dropped those plans last week.

Interestingly, Shuffle Master said it would pay out 10 million euros ($12.6 million) of that total purchase price within five years of the transaction closing, provided that real-money online poker would be legal in the United States within such period – something that will happen eventually but is taking time.

Not familiar with Ongame? Here’s what they do, according to their website:

Ongame is the world’s leading B2B online poker provider, serving partnes including bwin, Betfair, Betsson and Unibet. Reaching over 20 million customers in more than 25 markets, with an international network licensed in Gibraltar, as well as regional networks in Italy and France.

Ongame is the premier choice for sportsbook operators, providing a poker environment optimized for recreational players and a proven track record of increasing partner revenues.

Ongame claims P5, the game engine powering its poker offering, is the ‘most advanced poker engine ever designed’.

The company is owned by Bwin.party as a result of an earlier merger, and has been dubbed by the latter as a ‘surplus asset’.

Zynga of course offers a wildly popular poker game called – wait for it – Zynga Poker, which can be played on Zynga.com, Facebook, iOS and Android devices.

In fact, Zynga Poker was the company’s very first game.

It certainly makes a lot of sense for them to buy Ongame Networks, even if it’s to keep it out of the hands of other players looking to move online with poker games as soon as it becomes legal in the US, and the company certainly has the cash on hand to make this kind of acquisition.


'Amazing Spider-Man' finishes weekend with $62M...

LOS ANGELES (AP) "The Amazing Spider-Man" had a slightly slower start at the box office than initially estimated, taking in $62 million domestically over opening weekend.

The final numbers Monday came in $3 million lower than the $65 million that distributor Sony had projected a day earlier, but it still was a healthy start for the new take on the Marvel Comics superhero.

Since opening last Tuesday, "The Amazing Spider-Man" has taken in $137 million domestically. Its worldwide total is about $340 million since it began rolling out overseas the previous week.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by Hollywood.com are:

1. "The Amazing Spider Man," Sony, $62,004,688, 4,318 locations, $14,360 average, $137,022,258, one week.

2. "Ted," Universal, $32,202,395, 3,256 locations, $9,890 average, $119,849,740, two weeks.

3. "Brave," Disney, $19,612,370, 3,891 locations, $5,040 average, $173,969,341, three weeks.

4. "Savages," Universal, $16,016,910, 2,628 locations, $6,095 average, $16,016,910, one week.

5. "Magic Mike," Warner Bros., $15,642,337, 3,120 locations, $5,014 average, $72,829,107, two weeks.

6. "Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection," Lionsgate, $10,177,029, 2,161 locations, $4,709 average, $45,822,984, two weeks.

7. "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," Paramount, $7,520,690, 2,861 locations, $2,629 average, $195,905,126, five weeks.

8. "Katy Perry: Part of Me," Paramount, $7,138,266, 2,730 locations, $2,615 average, $10,240,213, one week.

9. "Moonrise Kingdom," Focus Features, $4,519,195, 884 locations, $5,112 average, $26,780,989, seven weeks.

10. "To Rome with Love," Sony Pictures Classics, $3,104,328, 806 locations, $3,852 average, $4,863,538, three weeks.

11. "People Like Us," Disney, $2,194,535, 2,055 locations, $1,068 average, $9,190,902, two weeks.

12. "The Avengers," Disney, $2,168,124, 1,125 locations, $1,927 average, $611,127,884, 10 weeks.

13. "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," Fox, $1,944,534, 1,657 locations, $1,174 average, $34,050,910, three weeks.

14. "Prometheus," Fox, $1,815,500, 1,105 locations, $1,643 average, $122,390,274, five weeks.

15. "Snow White & the Huntsman," Universal, $1,768,355, 1,152 locations, $1,535 average, $149,756,565, six weeks.

16. "Men in Black 3," Sony, $1,680,714, 879 locations, $1,912 average, $173,089,690, seven weeks.

17. "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," Fox Searchlight, $741,091, 359 locations, $2,064 average, $41,991,873, 10 weeks.

18. "Rock of Ages," Warner Bros., $639,406, 701 locations, $912 average, $36,974,619, four weeks.

19. "That's My Boy," Sony, $621,656, 400 locations, $1,554 average, $36,100,833, four weeks.

20. "Bol Bachchan," FIP, $561,996, 98 locations, $5,735 average, $561,996, one week.

Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.


Broker snap: Taxing times for bwin.party, says Peel Hunt...

Peel Hunt has pared its target price for online gaming group bwin.party digital entertainment from 140p to 124p and maintained its ‘hold’ rating on the stock.

‘The H1 pre-close held few surprises and no real catalyst to get the shares moving. At the current point the rating reflects concerns about Germany and a lack of visibility in many of the group’s markets,’ said analyst Nick Batram.

‘This is unlikely to change in the short term and further downgrades reflect the uncertain margin environment.’

The broker says that the uncertain regulatory backdrop continues to hit the bottom line, with federal sports taxes in Germany set to reduce EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) by EUR5-10m.

Peel Hunt has reduced its clean EBITDA forecast by EUR10m to EUR165m for the year ending December 2012. The 2013 EBITDA estimate has been cut from EUR196m to EUR175m.

‘While regulation is the main factor, the business’s underlying performance is also a growing concern, particularly the rate at which poker is going backwards,’ Batram said.

Shares were down 3.25% at 104.3p by 10:56 on Tuesday.


Roger Moore croons 007 birthday song...

PARIS — One-time 007 Roger Moore has teamed up with a former Bond Girl to record a song marking 50 years of the spy's on-screen adventures, a James Bond fan club said on Wednesday.

The 84-year-old British actor took over Bond film duties from Sean Connery in 1973, making his debut in "Live and Let Die" before completing the sequence with "A View to a Kill" 12 years later.

He teamed up with Irka Bochenko, his co-star in the 1979 film "Moonraker", for the anniversary duet titled "Happy Birthday Mr. Bond!", the spy's French fan club told AFP.

Extracts will be posted online at www.jamesbond007.net ahead of the record's release in September.

Hundreds of items -- from tuxedos to bikinis and vodka martinis -- went on show at London's Barbican Centre last week to mark 50 years since Bond made the jump from Ian Fleming's novels to the silver screen with the 1962 "Dr No".

The next Bond movie, "Skyfall", directed by Sam Mendes with Daniel Craig as the glamorous spy, will hit world screens from October.

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