On the heels of news that Pinewood Studios has received a greenlight for its expansion plans, Warner Bros Studios Leavesden is also getting ready to grow, adding three new stages and increasing office space. The studios, also known as the home of Harry Potter, were opened in 2012 after Warner invested more than £100M to rebuild and expand the London-adjacent facility to serve as its UK base. It has since played host to such films as Doug Liman’s Edge Of Tomorrow, Ron Howard’s Heart Of The Sea, and Guy Ritchie’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. It’s now adding to its roster David Yates’ Tarzan with Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Samuel L Jackson and Christoph Waltz. The film started production today at Leavesden, joining Joe Wright’s Pan which has been filming there since April.
To meet the constantly increasing need for space in the UK where foreign productions are being lured in droves by lucrative film and TV tax credits, Leavesden will add one new 35,000 square foot and two new 17,000 square foot buildings, as well as 20,000 square feet of adjacent office space. The work will be completed by the end of the year. At that point, the facility will have 13 sound stages. A further two buildings located next to the lot have also been acquired to grow the production office space by 105,000 square feet. Earlier this year, the studio added an extra 50,000 square feet of workshop space, a 62,500 square foot external … Read More »
BREAKING: Jeff Robinov’s back and with an investment from Fosun International Ltd. which will help finance his war chest that brings in a total of what sources say is a combined equity/debt structure of around $1B. Fosun just filed their paperwork with the Hong Kong stock exchange, stating that it entered the agreement on June 6.
Details of the Fosun deal structure is, as yet, unknown as the company did not disclose it nor have they disclosed any governance issues, the deal breakdown of how much equity vs. debt. In other words, its as ambiguous as can be at the moment. It is also understood that Robinov is in talks with other possible financial partners as well. Huayi Brothers still could be involved in the final deal as a distributor in certain territories and Robinov is also talking to European investors. The entire financial structure of the deal is currently being worked out, sources said.
Meanwhile, Fosun said in its filing, “pursuant to the Agreement, the company will exercise significant influence over the distribution arrangements of movies produced by Studio 8 in the mainland of China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan regions.” They also just put out a press release which is translated from Chinese that states through its investments, the deal gives Fosun the opportunity to share “Chinese elements and stories in Studio 8′s Chinese co-productions and wants to “build a global culture platform covering movie, entertainment, culture … Read More »
Veteran songsmiths Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman have hooked up with Creative Artists Agency, which will will be looking for projects in theater, film and television. CAA will work with Kraft-Engel, Shaiman’s rep in film and TV, on projects in those domains.
Kraft-Engel Management continue to be an integral part of the Marc Shaiman team and will also manage him in his theatre business.
Duo won Tony, Grammy and Olivier prizes for their score to the 2002 Broadway and London blockbuster tuner Hairspray, which went on to become a Top Ten-grossing movie musical. The pro- and private team also scored the NBC backstage Broadway melodrama Smash, for which they received Emmy, Grammy and Golden Globe noms. They were Tony-nominated for their underrated score for the stage adaptation of Catch Me If You Can, and Olivier nominated for Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, currently running on the West End.
On his own, Shaiman has Oscar nods for work on South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut; Patch Adams; Sleepless In Seattle and other work. He won an Emmy as co-writer of Billy Crystal‘s Oscar hosting and received the 2007 Henry Mancini Award. Wittman’s credits include multiple collaborations with Bette Midler, Dame Edna and others. He was the creative force behind Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me. Shaiman and Wittman’s attorney is Mark Sendroff of Sendroff & Baruch.
South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone added four Olivier Awards to their belts tonight as their Book of Mormon stage musical won top kudos at the British theater honors. The comedy musical about Mormon missionaries won Best New Musical, Best Actor (Gavin Creel), Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical (Stephen Ashfield), and Best Theatre Choreographer (Casey Nicholaw). Drama Chimerica, out of the Almeida Theatre & Harold Pinter Theatre, won Best New Play and Best Director (Lyndsey Turner), Best Set Design (Es Devlin) and tied for Best Lighting Design (Tim Lutkin & Finn Ross) and Best Sound Design (Carolyn Downing). Lesley Manville won Best Actress honors for Ghosts and Rory Kinnear nabbed top male acting honors for Othello. See full list of winners below: Read More »
The Sam Mendes-directed West End musical Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, which recently extended its run to May 20, 2015, tied today with the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along to lead the list of Olivier Award nominees with seven each. Charlie grabbed mentions in the Best Actor in a Musical category for Douglas Hodge as well as Best New Musical, among others. The show, from Warner Bros Theatrical Ventures, has twice broken records during its run for the highest weekly gross sales. The other Best New Musical nominees include Once, The Book Of Mormon and The Scottsboro Boys; each received six nominations. In the acting categories, Tom Hiddleston is cited for his lead turn in Coriolanus and Jude Law for his take on Henry V. Judi Dench in Peter And Alice, is up against Hayley Atwell, Anna Chancellor and Lesley Manville for Best Actress. The Olivier Awards ceremony will take place at London’s Royal Opera House on April 13. Click over for a full list of nominations: Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Safe House helmer Daniel Espinosa is in talks with Warner Bros to develop to direct Blood On Snow, which Leonardo DiCaprio is eyeing as a potential star vehicle. This is a two-book series that Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbo has written under the pseudonym Tom Johansson. The books, which Knopf will publish in two installments this fall and the following spring, will be produced by Kevin McCormick’s Langley Park (which is bringing Charlie And The Chocolate Factory to Broadway) and DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran’s Appian Way, which is coming off Best Picture nominee The Wolf Of Wall Street.
They will now go out to scribes to draft the tale of a hit man who’s forced to go into hiding after he fails on a job and finds himself on the run with his intended target, who unfortunately happens to be his boss’s wife. Landing Espinosa is a coup. He’s coming off Child 44 for Summit, the adaptation of the Soviet serial killer tale that stars Tom Hardy, Joel Kinnaman, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke. Espinosa is repped by UTA and Magnolia Entertainment. Jon Berg and Cate Adams are steering the project for Warner Bros.
AwardsLine deputy editor Anna Lisa Raya contributed to this article.
“Normally you’d walk into a room, the set dresser turns up three days before with 20 prop men, and they dress it. You’d look at it, you think of it, and you move things around. This was not like that at all,” said Andy Nicholson, the Oscar-nominated production designer for Gravity, who started working on the project in April 2010. This was an unusual project, an out-of-this-world set where ideas and tools and effects were created every day to bring Oscar-nominated director Alfonso Cuaron and his son, Jonas’ screenplay to life.
Related: OSCARS: Producers Craig Zadan & Neil Meron Play It Safer This Year With Star-Studded Show Led By Ellen
Nicholson had a career in architecture before he made the transition into the movie business and worked as an art director on several Tim Burton films, including Sleepy Hollow, Frankenweenie, Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He has won numerous Art Directors Guild Awards and won this year’s ADG for excellence in production design for a fantasy film for Gravity, an award he shared with his team. This is his first Oscar nomination.
Related: OSCARS: Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention For ‘Gravity’ Cinematographer
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Netflix Execs Headed Back To France For More Expansion Talks
Last week, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the company was eyeing “substantial” European expansion in 2014. His comments came a little more than a month after execs from the streaming service met with staff of French President François Hollande to discuss an entry into France. According to local media reports, Netflix execs now are due to return to France to meet with industry folk within the next week. Pascal Rogard, head of authors’ rights group the SACD, told Le Figaro that the situation is coming into focus with a possible launch later this year. Netflix is available in 41 countries including France’s neighbors to the north such as the UK, the Netherlands and the Nordic region. A French launch has been rumored over the years, but moving into the fiercely protected territory is ornery in part due to a complex film-windows chronology that prohibits movies from appearing on monthly SVOD services until three years after a theatrical release. There is no such protection for TV series, but Netflix’s House Of Cards already airs on local pay-TV leader Canal Plus, which would see the service’s arrival as competition. In a conversation with analysts, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos was asked last week whether the service would be out of certain markets with its key originals because it had already sold them to local providers. “It depends,” he said. “There’s multiple windows, and we’ll continue to have those negotiations as we get closer to those launches.” It’s expected that should Netflix enter France, it would have to adhere to obligations to invest in local content. Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti told Le Journal du Dimanche this weekend, “Netflix should be an additional player, not a stowaway.” It’s also believed that Netflix is eyeing a move into Germany. With regard to expansion, MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson said last week that “it remains difficult to figure out the ultimate size and value of Netflix’s international opportunity” due to the company’s “undisclosed new market entries, minimal transparency and continual reinvestment.” Read More »
Warner Bros UK was Britain’s top distributor in 2013, the third time in four years it has held the title, and the sixth time since rankings began in 1991. The studio says it grossed £194M ($320.3M) last year for a 16.5% share. The figures are not records as the last time Warner UK was No. 1 in 2011, it grosed £205.8M for an 18.04% share (that was the year Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 ruled the box office); and in 2010, WB UK grossed £204.1M for an 18.4% share with the first part of the Harry Potter finale and Christopher Nolan’s Inception among top films. In its post-Potter period, Warner Bros remains entrenched in the UK and in 2013 inaugurated the Warner Bros Studios Leavesden and the Making Of Harry Potter studio tour. (It also opened its first-ever West End musical, Sam Mendes’ Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.) The first two films made at Leavesden, Doug Liman’s Tom Cruise vehicle, Edge Of Tomorrow, and the Wachowski siblings’ Jupiter Ascending, both arrive in theaters in 2014. This year, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (£32.9M), Man Of Steel (£29.9M), Gravity (£27.3M), The Hangover Part III (£19.3M), The Great Gatsby (£15.7M) and The Conjuring (£10.4M) were among the highest local grossers for the studio. Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine was also handled locally by WB and became the director’s top UK movie ever with … Read More »
Harry Potter may have hung up his Firebolt, but his creator J.K. Rowling is not entirely done with the boy wizard. In September, Warner Bros and the author announced they were putting a new film series in the works starting with Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, an original story based on the Hogwarts textbook that appears on a reading list in the first Potter tome. Now, Rowling is taking Harry to the London stage. She will collaborate with a writer on, but not pen herself, a new play about the early years of The Boy Who Lived. Rowling will also be a co-producer on the project with Sonia Friedman (The Book Of Mormon) and Colin Callender, the former HBO Films president who’s busy in the UK with a Dangerous Liaisons adaptation percolating at the BBC as well as a miniseries based on Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. The Daily Mail‘s Baz Bamigboye got the jump on the story late this week, and since then, a posting to Rowling’s Facebook page says the as-yet untitled play will unveil what it was like to be the boy in the cupboard under the stairs at No. 4 Privet Drive. Read More »
Walden Media has set Cameron Fay to adapt the Frank Cottrel Boyce book Cosmic, which is one among a handful of projects that Walden is moving forward with since restructuring its company in August. The book, which has the whimsical wish-fulfillment tone of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, revolves around a boy who sneaks on the first civilian trip to outer space. Fay is currently scripting the comedy Pros And Cons for Gulfstream Entertainment. He is repped by Paradigm, Kaplan/Perrone, and Lichter, Grossman, Nichols and Adler.
EXCLUSIVE: LD Entertainment has signed on to produce and finance Santa School, a Karen Janszen-scripted family film. Patrick Aiello is producing with LD Entertainment CEO Mickey Liddell, and Pete Shilaimon. The film has elements of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, in that Santa Claus is confirmed to be real, and he wants to retire. That leads to a lengthy search for a worthy replacement. Aiello, who is producing As Above, So Below for Legendary, hatched the concept. Jennifer Monroe and Patrick Raymond will oversee for LD Entertainment. The company began by acquiring finished films, but now is branching into production.
Janszen’s script credits include A Walk To Remember, Duma, Gracie and Dolphin Tale. She’s separately adapting the Ingrid Law novel Savvy at Walden Media. She’s repped by Gersh and Rain Management.
Deadline reported in May that Sony Pictures and MGM were in talks for Skyfall helmer Sam Mendes to return behind the camera for the next installment of the James Bond franchise. The studios, along with producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, today confirmed Mendes will direct, with Daniel Craig reprising his role as Bond for the fourth time. There was a lot of speculation about Mendes returning. In March, he said he had made the “very difficult decision” not to return, citing theater and TV commitments. Wilson and Broccoli seemed resigned and they moved on, but they ultimately circled back and decided to wait for Mendes to work through the other commitments. Those include a musical version of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory which bowed on London’s West End last month. At the premiere, he told Deadline that Bond was indeed a possibility. It’s good news for Skyfall fans. The Mendes-helmed pic grossed over $1.1B worldwide to become the biggest 007 film and the eighth-highest-grossing film of all time. John Logan is writing the next, as-yet untitled movie, which will bow in the UK on October 23, 2015 and in the U.S. on November 6, 2015. Here’s today’s official release:
CULVER CITY, Calif., July 11, 2013 – Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, EON Productions; Gary Barber, Chairman & CEO, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Michael Lynton, CEO, Sony Entertainment, Inc, and Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment today announced that Daniel Craig will once again return as the legendary British secret agent in the 24th James Bond film and Sam Mendes will also return to direct the screenplay written by John Logan. The film is set for release in UK theaters on October 23, 2015 and in US theaters on November 6, 2015.
SKYFALL™, the 23rd James Bond film, took in $1.1 billion worldwide and set a new mark as the highest-grossing film of all time in the UK; it was the best-selling Bond film on DVD/Blu-ray and was the most critically acclaimed film in the history of the longest-running film franchise.
Commenting on the announcement, Wilson and Broccoli said, “Following the extraordinary success of SKYFALL, we’re really excited to be working once again with Daniel Craig, Sam Mendes and John Logan.”
“I am very pleased that by giving me the time I need to honour all my theatre commitments, the producers have made it possible for me to direct Bond 24. I very much look forward to taking up the reins again, and to working with Daniel Craig, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli for a second time,” said Mendes.
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Fox Rebrands Sports Channels In The Netherlands
Fox International Channels is rebranding the home of the Dutch national soccer leagues, Eredivisie Live, to Fox Sports Eredivisie and also is launching Fox Sports in the Netherlands. The switch to Fox Sports Eredivisie goes live on August 1 followed by the launch of Fox Sports on August 17. Fox Sports, will become the Dutch destination of top international soccer, including the Premier League, Série A, the FA Cup, the League Cup, Coppa Italia and the UEFA Europa League. The Fox Sports launch in the Netherlands follows a recent announcement of FIC’s plans to launch Fox Sports in Italy.
Mendes’ ‘Charlie’ Adds Six Months To Run
Sam Mendes’ Charlie And The Chocolate Factory just opened Tuesday night on London’s West End, but it’s already adding six months to its run. The adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s story will be performed until May 31, 2014, The Guardian reports. Reviews have been somewhat mixed, but already the show was seen by more than 70,000 during previews. Tony and Olivier Award winner Douglas Hodge plays Willy Wonka with songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. A New York transfer for the Warner Bros. Theatrical Ventures production is still uncertain. Read More »
The Warner Bros. Theatrical Ventures production of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory had its West End opening at London’s iconic Theatre Royal Drury Lane Tuesday night. The show, directed by Skyfall helmer Sam Mendes, has been in previews for the past few weeks but opened tonight to a crowd that inclduded Uma Thurman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Episodes stars Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig, new Downton Abbey addition Nigel Harman and a host of other UK TV personalities. Olivier and Tony Award winner Douglas Hodge stars as imagination impresario Willy Wonka in a performance that was warmly received. At a three-story event in the Connaught Hotel afterwards, I asked Mendes how involved he’ll be in the production going forward and he said he’d check in every couple of weeks but is looking forward to a vacation – he worked on Charlie somewhat simultaneously with Skyfall. As for his potentially directing the next James Bond movie he says it’s on the table, but he’s been so busy with the musical that he’ll take some time before talking about Bond. His take on Roald Dahl’s classic story of a selfless boy whose life is forever changed by one chocolate bar has songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. The show provides a stunning first half introducing the hopeful Golden Ticket winner Charlie Bucket and his family. The second half brings the audience and Charlie and his four fellow Golden … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has set Norwegian helmer Morten Tyldum to direct Ghostman, an adaptation of the bestselling Roger Hobbs novel. Tyldum is best known for directing an adaptation of the Jo Nesbo novel Headhunters, which led him to be hired to helm The Imitation Game, which Graham Moore wrote for Benedict Cumberbatch to star as Alan Turing. Peter Craig adapted Ghostman, a phrase that refers to a professional who cleans up messes and helps fugitives disappear. He is careful but gets sucked into a casino heist gone terribly wrong. His former mentor bankrolled the casino heist, which left several dead, and a crack addict in the wind with $1 million in cash that was supposed to pay off a drug debt. The Ghostman finds himself in a race over 48 hours to clean up the mess or his mentor will be in the cross hairs of a ruthless drug kingpin called The Wolf, and there is an attractive CIA agent in the center of things. The film’s being produced by Kevin McCormick’s Langley Park. Warner Bros bought the novel for McCormick last year. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: FilmDistrict is nearing a deal to acquire U.S. rights to Rocketman, the Michael Gracey-directed biographical musical film about Sir Elton John. The script is by Billy Elliot‘s Lee Hall, and Tom Hardy is circling to play the lead role. This film was the talk of Cannes, where it was shopped by UTA, which structured the financing. It was there that UK-based Icon’s production arm AI Film agreed to come aboard to co-finance the film with Rocket Pictures during the Cannes Film Festival. I’m told that FilmDistrict is betting big here, with Peter Schlessel’s distribution company paying around a $10 million minimum guarantee for a guaranteed wide theatrical release and size-able P&A. There is also a generous gross corridor after the film recoups.
The film follows John’s journey from 5-year old musical prodigy who by age 11 won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, to a young man who rebelled against his strict upbringing, wore outrageous costumes and became a global icon who teamed with songwriter Bernie Taupin to sell more records than just about any musical artist of his era. John’s musical catalog is part of the mix, so this is going to be a major film. Steve Hamilton Shaw and David Furnish are producing the project along with Lawrence Bender for AI Film. Sir Elton John and Access Industries’ Len Blavatnik are executive producing the film, along with Icon/AI Film CEO Aviv Giladi and FilmDistrict CEO Schlessel. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has acquired Rasputin, a pitch by American Sniper scribe Jason Hall that will be developed for Leonardo DiCaprio to play the Russian mystic who became an advisor to the Russian Imperial family the Romanovs. Embraced by Tsar Nicholas II and Alexandra as a healer for their only son, Tsarevich Alexei, who secretly suffered from hemophilia, Rasputin’s influence with the family in all matters grew to the point that rivals tried several times to kill him, finally succeeding in 1916. The film will be produced by Langley Park’s Kevin McCormick, by DiCaprio’s Appian Way partner Jennifer Davisson Killoran and Peter Morgan, who’s a producer on the Hall-scripted adaptation of American Sniper, which Steven Spielberg will direct with Bradley Cooper playing Navy SEAL elite sniper Chris Kyle.
This will become the blind script commitment I wrote that Hall had made at Warner Bros, this coming after that studio and DreamWorks teaming up on American Sniper. The screenwriter is also in early talks to adapt as a possible Spielberg project the David Finkel book Thank You For Your Service, about the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder syndrome that is becoming a major issue for vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
There have been numerous movies made about Rasputin and the controversial role he played in the Russian court, but there were new elements here unearthed by Hall … Read More »