Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

By | Sunday April 13, 2014 @ 6:35pm PDT

Catch up on the top film stories you missed this week:

Sarah Jones Midnight RiderThe Death Of Sarah Jones: Safety Concerns Raised Over ‘Midnight Rider’ Crew’s Previous Film In Georgia
By Jen Yamato
Local, state, and federal investigations are underway to determine who from the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider is responsible for the February 20 train collision on location in rural Georgia that left 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones dead and seven others injured. As the production community rallies around the tragedy and calls for stronger guidelines to ensure that similar accidents never happen again, a Deadline investigation that included interviews with people on the ground in and around Savannah has revealed several troubling factors preceding the afternoon when the crew of the movie, directed and produced by Randall Miller through his Unclaimed Freight Productions banner, placed a metal hospital bed on the live train tracks overlooking Southern Georgia’s Altamaha River.

Related:
Safety On Set: Camera Crew Outnumber Stunt Personnel In On-Set Deaths
Safety On Set: Helicopter Crashes Have Taken Most Lives On TV & Film Sets
Safety On Set: Three Workers Speak Out

BOX OFFICE: ‘Rio 2′ Runs Afowl Of ‘Captain America 2′ Which Blasts To No. 1, ‘Oculus’ Runs Over Disappointing Opener ‘Draft Day’
By Anita Busch
Even with a 56% drop in its second weekend, Disney/Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier surprised all the distribs and trackers this weekend by clipping the wings of Fox’s Rio 2.

Divergent posterLionsgate To Split Final ‘Divergent’ Sequel ‘Allegiant’ Into Two Films To Cap Sci-Fi Franchise
By Jen Yamato
EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate/Summit will adapt Veronica Roth‘s Divergent novel trilogy into a total of not three, but four films starring Shailene Woodley as the dystopian sci-fi heroine Beatrice “Tris” Prior, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairmen Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger revealed today.

Drew Goddard Near Helming Deal For Spider-Man Spinoff ‘Sinister Six’
By Mike Fleming Jr
BREAKING: Sony Pictures is nearing a deal with Drew Goddard to direct Sinister Six, the Amazing Spider-Man spinoff for the studio. Read More »

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Jane Fonda, Bruce Greenwood Join Russell Crowe-Starrer ‘Fathers And Daughters’

Mike Fleming

janefondaEXCLUSIVE: Voltage Films has set Jane Fonda and Bruce Greenwood to join Fathers And Daughters, the Gabriele Muccino-directed film that stars Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Aaron Paul, Diane Kruger, Quvenzhané Wallis and Octavia Spencer. Production just got underway in Pittsburgh. The film is a love story between a troubled father and his daughter who lives in New York 25 years after him, Crowe plays a famous novelist suffering from depression as he tries to raise his 5-year-old daughter. Seyfried plays the girl as an adult, who has struggles of her own, shrapnel from that childhood. Fonda will play the novelist’s longtime friend and literary agent while Greenwood will play the writer’s brother-in-law, who with his wife (Kruger) wages a legal battle to forcibly adopt the young daughter (Kylie Rogers). Read More »

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Berlin: ‘Mad Men’s January Jones Joins Ethan Hawke In Andrew Niccol’s ‘Good Kill’

By | Wednesday January 29, 2014 @ 5:07pm PST
Mike Fleming

januEXCLUSIVE: Andrew Niccol has cast and a title for his upcoming directorial project. He’s named the picture Good Kill, and Mad Men‘s January Jones has signed on to star as the wife of a fighter pilot-turned-drone operator. Ethan Hawke — who worked with Niccol in Gattaca and Lord Of War — is playing the pilot, Zoe Kravitz (Divergent) and Jake Abel (The Host) play members of his flight crew, and Bruce Greenwood plays his superior officer. The tension comes from the stress of battling the enemy by drone. He fights the Taliban by remote control for 12 hours a day, then goes home to the suburbs and feuds with his wife and kids for the other 12. He starts to question his mission, asking himself if he is creating more terrorists than he is killing in a war seemingly without end. Niccol wrote the script. The film began shooting at the end of last year in Morocco. Production resumes next month in New Mexico.

Related: Andrew Niccol, Ethan Hawke Team Again

Nicolas Chartier, Zev Foreman, and Mark Amin are producing for Voltage Pictures and Sobini Films. Ted Gidlow, Patrick Newall, and Cami Winikoff will executive produce. Voltage also is handling international rights and will look to finish selling the last available territories in Berlin.

Said Voltage’s Foreman: “This film will give the public a glimpse into what they are reading about and seeing on the news every day. … Read More »

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Discovery To Simulcast Science Channel’s First Scripted Film ‘Challenger Disaster’

EXCLUSIVE: Discovery Channel has decided to simulcast Science Channel’s first stab at scripted programming — the 90-minute The Challenger Disasterwhen it premieres on November 16 at 9 PM, to ensure it gets the biggest possible audience and because the movie fits Discovery’s footprint.  Discovery Channel this calendar year, is averaging 1.3 million viewers – 660,000 of them aged 18-49. Science Channel this year is averaging 304,000 viewers – 117,000 of them in the demo. When Science first announced the project in July, its GM Debbie Myers said it was the “biggest swing” in the network’s history. Produced in collaboration with the BBC and based on Dr. Richard Feynman’s memoir, What Do You Care What Other People Think?, the movie details Feynman’s participation in the Presidential Commission put together to investigate the Challenger explosion. William Hurt plays Feynman –  the Caltech physicist/Nobel laureate who, in a televised hearing, demonstrated that the Challenger’s O-ring was not sufficiently pliable, submerging a piece of it in a glass of ice water, causing it to grow stiff and bend, and Feynman to note, “I believe that has some significance for our problem,” according to press reports. At the investigation’s conclusion, Feynman’s report, “Appendix F – Personal Observations on the Reliability of the Shuttle,” was presented to POTUS, independent of the commission’s report.

The Challenger explosion was one of those where-were-you-then moments in American history; millions of TV viewers watched in horror on January 1986 as the space vehicle burst apart, killing all seven astronauts on board, including the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe, who’d been added to the crew because space travel was considered that safe; she was going to provide terrific PR for the space program by teaching some classes to school children from space. Read More »

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Toronto 2013: Will Deals Take Back Seat As Buyers Focus On Fest Oscar Hopefuls?

Mike Fleming

iThe Toronto Film Festival got underway last night with the Gala premiere of the Bill Condon-directed DreamWorks Julian Assange film The Fifth Estate. Today, the acquisitions market should get going with the first screening of the Jason Bateman-directed comedy Bad Words and Saturday’s premiere of Once helmer John Carney’s Can A Song Save Your Life?

Related: Toronto: Festival Dives Into WikiLeaks Controversy With Powerful ‘Fifth Estate’

Toronto has long served a dual role as a global platform to launch prestige films into the Oscar race, as well as a place where distributors can bolster slates with acquisitions of finished films that need someone to release them. The odd thing about this year’s marketplace: the biggest challenge facing sellers is to get the major buyers to focus, because they are so preoccupied with the films they are launching in the Oscar race from Toronto that dealmaking is a distant second on the priority level. Whether it’s The Weinstein Company, Sony Pictures Classics, Fox Searchlight, CBS Films or Focus Features, everybody has a viable Oscar horse. Frankly, there is less early chit-chat about deal prospects than there is about how the end-of-year releases of Oscar corridor films will be as crowded and brutally competitive as the summer season that just passed. There are way more films platforming and playing through the winter than was the cast last year. Just as some worthy summer blockbusters underperformed because of the onslaught, upcoming prestige films will be under extreme pressure to perform.

Here, the major distributors that have the funds to create bidding battles have tons of product at Toronto. SPC’s Michael Barker and Tom Bernard have nine movies playing, and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein has six. The challenge facing sellers will be to get those buyers to wrap their arms around new product that will fill slate holes in 2014. Everybody is loaded for bear for the fall and early winter. This won’t be a replay of the times past, when films like Shame, The Wrestler and Rabbit Hole were acquired and launched from festivals right into Oscar season.

Related: Toronto 2013: How Did Last Year’s Films Do?
Read More »

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TCA: Science Channel Dates ‘The Challenger Disaster’ For Nov. 16

By | Thursday July 25, 2013 @ 12:17pm PDT

Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

The Science Channel announced a November 16 premiere date for The Challenger Disaster, its first original dramatic film, a co-production with the BBC. William Hurt stars as American physicist Richard Feynman alongside Bruce Greenwood, Brian Dennehy, Joanne Whalley and Eve Best. The movie tells the story of Feynman’s efforts to uncover the truth behind the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy of January 1986. It exploded just 73 seconds after launch and was carried live on CNN.

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Toronto Fest Unveils Gala Premieres For Oscar Bait Films

By | Tuesday July 23, 2013 @ 8:03am PDT
Mike Fleming

The Toronto International Film Festival has set its list of 70 gala and premiere screenings, and not surprisingly it includes many of the films that figure to factor in the Oscar discussion. This includes 12 Years A Slave to August: Osage County, Rush, Labor Day, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Parkland, Dallas Buyers Club, Alfonso Cuaron’s 3D thriller Gravity and Atom Egoyan’s West Memphis 3 film Devil’s Knot. There will be plenty of starpower, including actors-turned first time directors Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Don Jon), Keanu Reeves (Man Of Tai Chi), Jason Bateman (Bad Words), Mike Myers (Supermensch), as well as Coriolanus helmer Ralph Fiennes (The Invisible Woman).

Related: What Toronto Film Fest Lineup Signals For Oscar Race – Analysis

The festival generally provides a mix of those films as well as acquisition titles that usually get released next year. Also on the list is the opening night film, the Bill Condon-directed The Fifth Estate, the DreamWorks drama about polarizing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Here’s the list made official this morning by Toronto Fest organizers:

Piers Handling, CEO and Director of TIFF, and Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, unveiled the first round of titles set to premiere in the Galas and Special Presentations programmes at the 38th Toronto International Film Festival®.

“This first round of films offers a taste of the powerhouse lineup at this year’s Festival,” said Handling. “These are

Read More »

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Universal Sets Apropos Release Date For ‘Endless Love’ Remake

By | Tuesday May 21, 2013 @ 5:27pm PDT

Cupid’s annual arrow barrage will suit Hollywood just fine next year: Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday in 2014, and Universal today slotted its remake of Endless Love for that ultimate date night. The drama stars Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde in the roles played by Martin Hewitt and Brooke Shields in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1981 film. The Shana Feste-helmed update will have a third wheel on its opening weekend in the form of another ’80s remake, Sony/Screen Gems’ About Last Night. Fox also will target couples-fueled cash will its sci-fi thriller The Maze Runner while the Weinstein Company deploys its franchise-hopeful Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters. Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘No One Lives’, ‘And Now A Word From Our Sponsor’, ‘Sightseers’, ‘Venus And Serena’, ‘He’s Way More Famous Than You’, ‘One Track Heart: The Story Of Krishna Das’

By | Thursday May 9, 2013 @ 6:41pm PDT

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Thrillers and docs populate the Specialty newcomers this weekend with genre (and genre-esque) fare ranging from a gang of highway killers who kidnap a couple to a soft-spoken couple who go on a road trip and find themselves embarking on a killing spree among the limited release titles opening in theaters. Anchor Bay Films will follow up its Rob Zombie rollout in April with No One Lives, while IFC Films will bow its British twisted comedy Sightseers. Paladin is hoping to capitalize on its North American opening of And Now A Word From Our Sponsor to shore up its international rollout, while Gravitas Ventures is banking on the story of an aspiring actress who steals a script to make a movie, in He’s Way More Famous Than You, to charm audiences. Magnolia Pictures will open Toronto doc Venus And Serena as the French Open makes its way to sports fans and Zeitgeist’s doc One Track Heart: The Story Of Krishna Das makes its way to the spiritually inclined this weekend.

No One Lives
Director: Ryûhei Kitamura
Writer: David Cohen
Cast: Luke Evans, Adelaide Clemens, Derek Magyar, Lee Tergesen, America Olivo
Distributor: Anchor Bay Films

Anchor Bay Films picked up No One Lives out of the Toronto International Film Festival last year. The thriller centers on a gang of highway killers who kidnap a wealthy couple traveling across the country, but then things aren’t exactly what they seem. “It has one of the best scenes with one of the top 10 scenes in a horror film ever,” boasted Bill Lewis, SVP Theatrical Marketing and Distribution at Anchor Bay. “We [released] the clip of the scene Wednesday. It’s such a great shot.” The company partnered with WWE Studios, the production subsidiary of World Wrestling Entertainment, which produced the film. “Their biggest fan base is also where we decided to target theatrical locations,” said Lewis. “They’re a tremendous partner with great assets and they’re behind their film 100% and lucky they have the assets to push it.” Read More »

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Michael Graziadei Joins ABC Pilot ‘Venice’, Enver Gjokaj & Brendan Hines In ‘Murder’

By | Thursday February 28, 2013 @ 3:00pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Michael Graziadei, who recently wrapped an eight-year stint on The Young & The Restless, is set to co-star in another soapy drama, this time in primetime. Graziadei has been cast in ABC‘s Romeo & Juliet-esque pilot Venice, about the haves and the have-nots of California’s most seductive city, Venice. It focuses on two rival families, the Nances and the Carvers, and a forbidden and dangerous romance emerging between them as the families battle for control of Venice. Graziadei, repped by Gersh and Main Title, will play Josh Nance, the son of Gordy Nance (Bruce Greenwood) and bother of Sophie (Odette Annable), a rising star in his father’s company, poised to take over the family business. He had a recurring role on the first season of FX’s American Horror Story.

Enver Gjokaj and Brendan Hines (Lie To Me) have been cast in ABC’s hourlong pilot Murder In Manhattan, executive produced by Ryan Reynolds. It is a dramedy set in New York centering on mother Blythe and daughter Lex (Bridget Regan) who team up as amateur sleuths. Hines will play Lex’s brother, an Assistant District Attorney. Gjokaj, repped by ICM Partners, Suskin Management and Jackoway Tyreman, will play Jack, Lex’s best childhood friend, now an NYPD directive who has feelings for Lex and helps her and her mother in their investigations.

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Odette Annable & Bruce Greenwood To Star In ABC’s Pilot ‘Venice’ Directed By McG

By | Friday February 22, 2013 @ 3:30pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Bruce GreenwoodOdette AnnableOdette Annable (Breaking In) and Bruce Greenwood (The River) have been cast in ABC‘s Romeo & Juliet-esque drama pilot Venice. Written by Byron Balasco, directed by McG and executive produced by Ilene Chaiken,  Venice is a soap about the haves and the have-nots of California’s most seductive city, Venice. It focuses on two rival families, the Nances and the Carvers, and a forbidden and dangerous romance emerging between them as the families battle for control of Venice. Annable will play Sophie Nance, the owner of the hippest boutique in Venice, who falls in love with the offspring of her family’s archenemies, Chris Carver. Greenwood plays Sophie’s father Gordy Nance, the most powerful man in Venice and head of the Nance family. Read More »

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EFM Roundup: Atom Egoyan’s ‘Queen Of The Night’; Lionsgate UK Boards British Indies

By | Monday, 4 February 2013 18:50 UK

Refresh for latest…

Bruce Greenwood Joins Atom Egoyan’s ‘Queen Of The Night’
The European Film Market kicks off at the Berlin Film Festival on Thursday and we’ll be posting rolling briefs on a daily basis from today and for the duration. To wit: Canadian director Atom Egoyan has added Bruce Greenwood to the cast of his psychological thriller Queen Of The Night which eOne is handling for international sales. Principal photography has just gotten underway in Canada. This is Greenwood’s fourth time working with Egoyan. He joins Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, Rosario Dawson, Mireille Enos, Kevin Durand and Alexia Fast. Reynolds and Enos play the parents of an abducted child. Eight years after the kidnapping, Reynolds’ character is convinced the now 17-year-old girl is alive. The film is based on an original story by Egoyan with screenplay by Egoyan and David Fraser. Ego Film Arts and The Film Farm produce with eOne distributing in Canada. France’s ARP Selection has rights in that territory.

Lionsgate UK Boards Pair Of British Indies
Simon Crowe’s SC Films International will handle two British titles that Lionsgate UK has just added to its production slate. The films reteam Lionsgate UK with writer/director Ronnie Thompson whose Tower Block and Screwed the company previously released. Thompson … Read More »

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2013 ABC Pilots

By | Monday January 21, 2013 @ 5:15pm PST

COMEDY

BAD MANAGEMENT (single-camera)
NOT GOING FOR FALL BUT STILL ALIVE
STUDIO: ABC Studios
TEAM: Sharon Horgan (w), Holly Walsh (w), Aaron Kaplan (ep), Ben Taylor (d)
LOGLINE: A slightly self-centered female boss at a high-end luxury goods department store finds her ways challenged when the boss’s son comes to town and makes youth and sex the new company focus.
CAST: Sharon Horgan, David Spade, Alan Thicke, Rachael Harris, Greta Lee, E.J. Bonilla, Bradley Dodds

DIVORCE: A LOVE STORY (multi-camera)
PASSED ON
STUDIO: Sony Pictures Television/ABC Studios/Reshet
TEAM: Michael Sikowitz (ep), Daniel Lappin (ep), Noa Tishby (ep), Pam Fryman (d)
LOGLINE: A recently divorced couple were bad together but discover they’re even worse apart and can’t seem to stay out of each others’ lives. Based on Israeli format Life Isn’t Everything.
CAST: Jason Jones, Andrea Anders, Adam Goldberg, Regina King

THE GOLDBERGS (formerly HOW THE HELL AM I NORMAL?) (single-camera)
PICKED UP TO SERIES
STUDIO: Sony Pictures Television/Happy Madison
TEAM: Adam F. Goldberg (w, ep), Seth Gordon (d, ep), Doug Robinson (ep)
LOGLINE: Family comedy set in the ’80s that centers on an in-your-face mother and hot-tempered father who love their three eccentric kids so much, they can’t bear to see them grow up; inspired by Goldberg’s experience growing up in the ’80s with a highly screwed up but loving family
CAST: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jeff Garlin, George Segal, Darien Provost, Troy Gentile

KEEP CALM AND KAREY ON (previously Untitled Andrea AbbateCrazy Gene)
PASSED ON
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox TV/21 Laps/Adelstein
TEAM: Andrea Abbate (w, ep), Marty Adelstein (ep), Shawn Levy (ep), Becky Clements (ep)
LOGLINE: Centers on the clean-nosed black … Read More »

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AFM Roundup Day 2: Aussie Stars Set For ‘The Turning’; Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy To Topline ‘Cry/Fly’, Image Acquires ‘Day Of The Falcon’ For U.S.; Arclight Acquires ‘Bronx Bull’

By | Thursday November 1, 2012 @ 4:45pm PDT

Refresh for latest news….

The Turning, a 17-part omnibus Australian film based on short stories by Tim Winton, is enlisting some of Oz’s top actors. Hugo Weaving, Rose Byrne and Miranda Otto will join a group that includes Cate Blanchett and Mia Wasikowska. The portmanteau is a series of overlapping stories about the extraordinary turning points in ordinary people’s lives set in a fictional Western Australian coastal town over 30 years. Produced by Robert Connolly’s Arenamedia, the film marks the directing debuts of Blanchett, Wasikowska and David Wenham. Among those directing other segments are Connolly, Tony Ayres, Anthony Lucas and Stephen Page. The first two segments are in the can. Turning is backed by Screen Australia, with Footprint Films/Madman Entertainment handling the Australian release and LevelK repping international sales at the American Film Market. Don Groves

Jennifer Connelly and Cillian Murphy have been set to star in the drama Cry/Fly from Latin American writer-director Claudia Llosa. Melanie Laurent also in talks to co-star as a French journalist, Variety reports. Cry/Fly is set in Minnesota and northern Canada over two time periods and tells the story a mother whose six-year-old daughter is terminally ill. A dramatic event separates the mother from her child and falcon-keeper son, but 20 years later, the son is persuaded by a journalist to embark on a search for his now-famous mother. Shooting begins in February.

Image Entertainment has landed U.S. rights to Day Of The Falcon, starring Antonio Banderas, Mark Strong, Freida Pinto and Tahar Rahim. It plans a theatrical release after an ultra-VOD release in first-quarter 2013 for the Jean-Jacques Annaud film, about the rivalry between two Emirs in the Arabia Peninsula in the early 20th century just as oil is being discovered, and the rise of a young dynamic leader who unites the tribes of the desert kingdom. The co-production between Quinta Communications and Doha Film Institute had its worldwide premiere at Tribeca last year and Warner Brothers and UPI released overseas. The U.S. deal was negotiated by Bill Bromiley and Jess DeLeo on behalf of Image and by Jeff Berg as well as Brigitte Segal and Tarak Ben Ammar of Quinta for the film….

Arclight Films has acquired the Jake LaMotta biopic The Bronx Bull, directed by Martin Guigui and with a cast that includes William Forsythe, Joe Mantegna, Paul Sorvino, Natasha Henstridge, Penelope Ann Miller, Tom Sizemore and Robert Davi. It will sell international rights to the pic based on the book written by Chris Anderson, Sharon McGehee and LaMotta….

AnnaLynne McCord, Billy Zane and Viva Bianca have been set to star in the revenge thriller Scorned, from Leprechaun director Mark Jones, who co-wrote the script with Sadie Katz. Producers are Lance Thompson of Portsmouth Pictures, Charles Ison and Martin Sprock of Horse Head Pictures, and Lightning Entertainment president Robert Beaumont. Lightning’s Audrey Delaney and Marc Bienstock are executive producers alongside Seth Willenson, and Lightning is handling international sales. The pic, in postproduction, revolves around a couple (McCord and Zane) who decide to spend a romantic weekend together. But when an unexpected text from Sadie’s best friend (Bianca) to him reveals a love affair between the two people closest to her, she becomes hell-bent on revenge….

Read More »

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GoDigital To Handle Digital Distribution For 108 Media Pics

By | Wednesday October 31, 2012 @ 1:00pm PDT

Digital distribution outfit GoDigital has pacted with 108 Media in a deal that will see GoDigital distribute eight films acquired by the Toronto-based distribution and foreign sales company. Each film will see a theatrical release through 108 Media’s partnership with Mark Urman’s Paladin, and rollouts will include traditional releases as well as day-and-date theatrical and VOD. 108 Media’s  slate includes Deepa Mehta’s adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s novel Midnight’s Children; Michel Gondry’s latest film The We And The I; the Sundance and Berlin prize-winning drama My Brother The Devil; the comic fable And Now A Word From Our Sponsor starring Parker Posey and Bruce Greenwood; Myn Bala: Warriors Of The Steppe, Kazakhstan’s entry for this year’s foreign-language Oscar race; documentaries Buffalo Girls about child boxing in Thailand and Daniland, about amateur pornographer DanLeal; and the animated film Leafie, a Korean pic that 108 is re-voicing into English for its North American release.

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Cast Lines Up For BBC-Science Channel Drama About The Challenger Disaster

A mix of North American and British talent will topline an untitled BBC/Science Channel movie about the search for what caused the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle explosion. William Hurt and Bruce Greenwood will star as physicist Richard Feynman and Air Force General Donald Kutyna, respectively. Feynman, a Nobel Prize winner who also assisted on the Manhattan Project, was instrumental in uncovering the truth, as was Kutyna whom he befriended in the process. Brian Dennehy is also on board as William Rogers, the chair of the presidential commission and Joanne Whalley will play Feynman’s wife. British actors Kevin McNally (Downton Abbey), Read More »

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Paramount’s Oscar Hopeful Takes ‘Flight’ With Bi-Coastal Interactive Launch — Minus Denzel Washington

By | Monday October 15, 2012 @ 9:26pm PDT
Pete Hammond

Paramount, expanding ways to reach awards voters, got interactive Monday with a bi-coastal launch of its Oscar-bait drama Flight, including a special screening and Q&A in New York beamed to four Arclight theaters in the Los Angeles area and another in San Francisco for invited guild members and press. Taking place the day after the film’s world premiere as the closing-night attraction of the 50th New York Film Festival, director Robert Zemeckis, writer John Gatins and several cast members including John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood, and Melissa Leo took part in the interactive post-screening Q&A that featured tweeted questions from the California venues and live queries from the NY crowd — many industry-voter types. Paramount clearly found a nice way to expand its Big Apple premiere, and it went off almost without a hitch. Almost.

The only downer for the studio was jettisoning the scheduled appearance of Flight star Denzel Washington, who was in attendance for the premiere Sunday night. He “was taken ill” according to the announcement at the outset of the Q&A, followed by audible groans from the audience. For the money being spent on this, as well as its awards launch, losing Denzel had to be a big disappointment for the studio. Still, the rest of this digital-age awards event went off without a hitch with premium network Epix teaming with Paramount to stage the interactive, multi-city event.

Other companies have begun doing this sort of thing including The Weinstein Company, which staged a couple of live interactive events like this last year with Meryl Streep among others. But the major studios, more bottom-line-oriented and not usually on the front lines of new Oscar campaign techniques, are suddenly jumping on board if recent activity is an indication. Last week, Disney/DreamWorks staged a “Conversation With Steven Spielberg And Daniel Day Lewis” following a nine-city screening of Lincoln at which audience members (mostly students) in those cities were able to text questions to the same AMC Lincoln (appropiate name) Plaza theatre that hosted today’s Flight screening. In the past, most awards-season guild screening Q&As (and they number in the hundreds) were simply for the audience that showed up and not usually even taped. Read More »

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TOLDJA! Focus Features Lands ‘The Place Beyond The Pines’

Mike Fleming

2ND UPDATE: Focus Features has confirmed Deadline’s scoop. Release is at the bottom of the story

UPDATE: I’m told that Focus Features indeed closed a distribution deal for one of Toronto’s hottest acquisition titles, the Derek Cianfrance-directed The Place Beyond The Pines. The negotiations between the Focus acquisition team and the sellers at WME and CAA went into the wee hours of the morning before the deal was made. I’m still trying to confirm the numbers, but it was a few million dollars commitment for a film that has gotten good reaction but which might need to be honed and trimmed a bit for maximum theatrical bang. The big question now is whether this will prime the pump and get the deal volume going. I’m hearing such good things about the acquisition titles that have screened so far that I’m going to say it is inevitable and that sellers and buyers have a lot of late night negotiations ahead of them over the next few days.

RELATED: Toronto: Insider Says No Weinstein Company Offer On ‘Place Beyond The Pines’

EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, SATURDAY 9:17 PM: Focus Features has become the frontrunner and is in serious negotiations to acquire The Place Beyond The Pines, the Derek Cianfrance-directed drama that came into the Toronto Film Festival as one of the highest profile acquisition titles. I’m hearing that a deal could close by tomorrow morning. Focus was among several suitors that sparked … Read More »

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NYFF Lands Robert Zemeckis’ ‘Flight’ As Closing Night Film

By | Thursday August 9, 2012 @ 12:13pm PDT
Mike Fleming

New York, NY, August 8, 2012 – The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced today that Robert Zemeckis’s FLIGHT will make its World Premiere as the Closing Night film for the upcoming 50th New York Film Festival (September 28 – October 14).

“We’re delighted to welcome Robert Zemeckis to the New York Film Festival for the first time. A director equally known for delighting audiences as well as for pushing the technological limits of filmmaking, Zemeckis has created with FLIGHT a remarkable film about one man’s journey to some of the darkest parts of his soul,” says Richard Peña, Selection Committee Chair & Program Director, The Film Society of Lincoln Center.

An action-packed mystery thriller, Academy Award winner, Denzel Washington stars in Robert Zemeckis’s FLIGHT as Whip Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot, who miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every passenger on board. Although he is immediately acclaimed as a hero, the legal, moral and ethical aspects of Whip’s behavior before and after the accident are much more ambiguous than initially meet the public eye. FLIGHT is a compelling drama anchored by a great performance from one of our most distinguished actors. The stellar supporting cast includes John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Melissa Leo, Bruce Greenwood and Kelly Reilly. The Paramount Pictures release is due in theaters on November 2.

Rose Kuo, Executive Director,

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