Cannes buyers had plenty of screenings to choose from today but the hottest movie on the Croisette right now is Philomena — or at least the seven minutes that were shown to buyers this morning. This is the Stephen Frears-directed movie that stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan and is the true story of an Irish woman who searches for the illegitimate son she gave up for adoption in the U.S. I am hearing that The Weinstein Company is in exclusive negotiations for the pic for U.S., Canada and Spain distribution rights, this after Focus Features stepped out of the bidding. The wild part: the bidding is based on a morning screening of partial footage to domestic buyers, and the action is currently at $6.5 million for a film said to cost around $18 million. That is a shockingly high number for a teaser reel, but everyone I spoke to who saw it was knocked out. The pic is being sold directly by Pathe’s Muriel Sauzay, and a deal could make this evening even as everybody heads off to movies and dinner parties.
‘Equalizer’ Update: Chloe Moretz Getting Lead in Film And Creator Michael Sloan To Write New Novels Based On Iconic Character
EXCLUSIVE: A couple of intriguing developments have happened on The Equalizer. After a strong reading with Denzel Washington, Chloe Moretz is getting the offer from Sony Pictures to play the female lead in the drama that will re-team Training Day tandem Washington and Antoine Fuqua. At the same time, Michael Sloan, creator of the 1980s TV series, has made a deal to write an original novel for Thomas Dunne Books that will continue the adventures of Robert McCall, the shadowy character originated by Edward Woodward who’ll be played on the big screen by Washington.
Moretz is a surprise choice to play the role of Teri, in that the role was originally drawn for a twentysomething. After Moretz did a chemistry reading with Washington, he was very impressed as was everybody else, and the role will be redrawn for Moretz to play a young prostitute, reminiscent of Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver. Deal has to be made, but between this and the upcoming Kimberly Peirce-directed Carrie, that little girl from Kick-Ass is turning into a young woman who’s taking on some of the edgiest roles in town.
This is the first trailer for Marvel‘s Thor: The Dark World, the sequel to 2011′s Kenneth Branagh-directed Thor. Game Of Thrones vet Alan Taylor helms this tale of the Mighty Avenger as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy led by the vengeful Malekith. Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo, Christopher Eccleston and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje star. Disney begins an international rollout October 30, including in the UK, ahead of the U.S. release November 8.
After quietly leaving UTA last week, Idris Elba is the hot actor in play, and it’s suspected he’ll either land at WME or CAA. Elba seems poised to finally make that transition from great actor to movie star, so he’s a real catch. But the gang at UTA certainly did their job; the agency booked him into Prometheus, Thor, Pacific Rim and Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom, the latter a film the agency packaged around director client Justin Chadwick. By the time he’s done starring in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim this summer and following up by playing Nelson Mandela in the Oscar-bait Weinstein Company release later this year, Elba should finally reach that level of stardom that has inexplicably eluded him. I must say that after watching his turns in The Wire and especially Neil Cross’s British crime series Luther, I find it baffling it has taken this long; how many actors out there are as good as this guy? Elba has also established himself as a serial agency jumper in the U.S. He moved from ICM to CAA, back to ICM, and then chose UTA over WME and CAA two years ago. He remains managed by Anonymous Content and agented by Ken McReddie Associates in the UK.
It’s been a couple of months since the last trailer dropped for Guillermo del Toro‘s Pacific Rim. Warner Bros. India today posted the first international TV spot that features Idris Elba’s Lieutenant-Commander Stacker Pentecost who’s “cancelling the apocalypse” as Earth battles evil aliens risen from the deep. The Warner Bros./Legendary pic also stars Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day and Ron Perlman. It opens July 12.
We’re six days from definitively learning the Cannes Film Festival lineup while hopefuls await a call from fest chief Thierry Frémaux in the hours just preceding Thursday’s announcement. Of the high-profile possibilities, we reported last month that Nicole Kidman-starrer Grace Of Monaco would not be ready, and while that intel remains correct, I’m now hearing that footage from the film will turn up on the Croisette. It’s possible it could be part of an officially sanctioned event, but I understand that has yet to be determined.
By Hollywood standards, if that Weinstein Co. footage were to be an official part of the proceedings, it could be one of the most high-profile parts of the selection since the major studios are largely sitting this one out. With the exception of Warner Bros., whose Baz Luhrmann-directed The Great Gatsby is opening the festival, I’m hearing that either the timing has not aligned or that upcoming studio films don’t jive with Cannes as a platform. “It’s a great place if you have something to promote… But it’s expensive, so it has to be the right thing for the movie,” one insider tells me. Estimates put the cost of an official red carpet Cannes screening and fête at up to $3M and beyond.
Cannes is still considered by Hollywood to be a useful marketing tool, but could it be that’s becoming truer outside of the official selection? Witness TWC, which last year rented a plush room in the Majestic Hotel to screen about 20 minutes of footage from three of its fall films – Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook and The Master. The move turned out to be a prescient means to whet the appetite for pictures that TWC was confident would be awards contenders later in the year. If the company repeats that select screening effort – which I understand it might do in a much bigger way – the top picks for this year look to be Salinger, the Shane Salerno feature doc about the Catcher In The Rye author; August: Osage County, John Wells’ Meryl Streep/Julia Roberts-starrer; One Chance, David Frankel’s pic about Britain’s Got Talent’s first winner Paul Potts; Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, the biopic starring Idris Elba, and Lee Daniels’ The Butler.
The above formula proved fruitful for TWC last year in a non-official capacity. However, for the U.S. majors, appearing in official selection is viable to launch Europe, but doesn’t mean much domestically, I’m told by someone who’s been down the road before. Another believes that to merit the whole red carpet pomp & circumstance “it has to be the right movie for the right audience because all eyes are on you. It is not the right place to toe dip… If you’re not going to deliver above expectations, why put yourself in the position?” Even DreamWorks Animation, long termed by Frémaux as a “friend of the festival” and which usually bows a movie in Cannes, won’t be there this year, I understand. Its upcoming Turbo rolls out in Europe in the fall. Typically, high-profile movies that open in Cannes are released theatrically quite quickly after the festival or are films that benefit from a very long lead critical campaign.
Former BBC Daytime controller Liam Keelan was originally named dirctor of BSkyB‘s flagship Sky 1 HD back in December, but he later pulled out to move to BBC Worldwide. After opening up the search again, Sky has now named Adam MacDonald to oversee the channel. MacDonald joins from A+E Networks UK – a joint venture of A+E Networks and News Corp.-controlled BskyB – where he’s VP of programming. Former Sky 1 director Stuart Murphy has been bumped up to oversee Sky’s entertainment portfolio Sky 1, Sky Living, Sky Atlantic, Sky Arts, Challenge and Pick TV. Sky 1 was named Channel of the Year at the Broadcast Awards in 2012 and overall, Sky has commited £600M ($975M) for UK content and production across all of its channels by 2014. Among upcoming projects, Sky Atlantic is co-producing The Tunnel and biopic Fleming; Sky Arts has the Playhouse Presents series in the pipeline with talent that includes Anna Friel, Matt Smith, Idris Elba and Vanessa Redgrave and Sky Living is co-producing NBC series Dracula.
EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company has acquired theatrical rights to Salinger, the Shane Salerno-directed feature documentary on the reclusive author of The Catcher In The Rye. The deal is seven figures, around $2 million, and covers world rights except for the previous deal that licensed U.S. television rights to PBS’ American Masters. The plan is to release later this year for Oscar season, and the deal came after Harvey Weinstein, David Glasser and the acquisition team were shown the film Sunday morning, the day of the Academy Awards. TWC was the only distributor that saw the finished film, and closed the deal right after. While everyone was partying over the Oscar weekend, TWC acquired Grace of Monaco with Nicole Kidman and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom with Idris Elba. All three of these films will be in the Oscar season discussion, as will Fruitvale, the film that came out of Sundance with strong buzz, and which TWC also acquired. After two years of winning Best Picture, Harvey Weinstein watched Argo best his two candidates, Silver Linings Playbook and Django Unchained. Looks like he really, really wants to be in the winner’s circle again.
That validates an unusual sales strategy that Salerno employed on the film with his lawyer Robert Offer. It was first shown to American Masters, which quickly closed a 7-figure licensing deal. The plan is to make it the 200th installment of that prestigious series, early next year. It was then shown to Jon Karp and his editors from Simon & Schuster, and right after they saw it, they closed a 7-figure publishing deal for a biography that Salerno wrote with David Shields.
Now, the documentary distribution rights are being sold to the only distributor that saw the film. I’m told that the entire deal for theatrical, publishing and U.S. TV rights will be north of $5 million, one of the richest pacts ever for a feature documentary.
For Salerno, this completes an eight year odyssey, and he has been made whole after investing $2 million of his own money into the documentary and the book. It also closes the circle for me; shortly after I arrived from Variety to Deadline Hollywood, Salinger passed away. This was not long after I’d seen an early cut of Salerno’s film. I thought it was absolutely fascinating. I haven’t seen it since, and the discretion shown in the dealmaking process indicates there are secrets that were held back. But here is what I said about it back then:
Too Early To Talk 2014 Oscars? Harvey Weinstein Buying ‘Grace Of Monaco’ With Nicole Kidman As Grace Kelly
EXCLUSIVE: With two Best Picture candidates in the hunt, Harvey Weinstein has begun putting together the Oscar season slate for next year. I’m told that The Weinstein Company is wrapping up a deal to acquire domestic rights to Grace Of Monaco, the Olivier Dahan-directed drama that stars Nicole Kidman as actress-turned-princess Grace Kelly, Tim Roth as Monaco’s Prince Rainier III. I’m hearing that TWC has made a big bet, paying a $5 million minimum guarantee and a P&A commitment around $10 million for a minimum 800 screen run. I was unable to get comment from TWC or CAA, which shopped the domestic rights and established the film as a hot buzz title by showing a sizzle reel footage at Berlin. TWC’s Weinstein and David Glasser made the deal Friday night here in Hollywood with CAA on behalf of Pierre-Ange Le Pogam, who produced the film with Uday Chopra and Arash Amel. Amel wrote the script. The film will be released in December, smack in the middle of next awards season, a release pattern that will be similar to the one TWC used for The Iron Lady. Inferno and Silver Reel were also in the deal. A $2 million deal for Canada is also in the offing.
The Weinstein Company (TWC) and Anant Singh announced today the acquisition, by TWC, of the North American, Australian and New Zealand distribution rights to the film of Nelson Mandela’s life based on his autobiography MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM. The film is directed by Justin Chadwick (THE FIRST GRADER, THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL) and produced by Anant Singh.
Singh began communicating with Mandela about making a film based on his life while he was still in prison and acquired the film rights to Mandela’s book at the time of its publication in 1996 and development on the film began immediately when Academy Award® Nominee, writer William Nicholson (LES MISERABLES, GLADIATOR, SHADOWLANDS) signed on. The completion of MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM sees the culmination of Singh’s most ambitious project to date.
On awarding the film rights to Singh, Mandela has said, “Anant Singh is a producer I respect very much. Given the resources and backing, he will produce a work of the highest standards and excellence, and it is for that reason, I opted for him.”
MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM, shot in South Africa, started principal photography at the end of May 2012 in KwaZulu-Natal and went on to shoot for 16 weeks at authentic locations in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Mandela’s home province, the Eastern Cape with the shoot ending in mid-September 2012.
Commenting on the deal, Singh said, “TWC is the best North American distributor for MANDELA: LONG WALK TO
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage
In 2001, BAFTA chief executive Amanda Berry spearheaded an initiative to move the ‘British Oscars’ ahead of the Academy Awards, cementing their place on the season’s roadshow. This year, a calendar of events highlights their increasing importance. The organization and its sponsors now conduct a suite of pre- and post-awards events, with several studios expected to throw big after-parties next Sunday night following the official ceremony at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Just tonight, Idris Elba deejayed at a pre-celebration of the EE BAFTA Rising Star prize at the Savoy, and I hear Harvey Weinstein will toast his nominees – who this year include Quentin Tarantino, Christoph Waltz and Joaquin Phoenix – with an intimate dinner in Mayfair on Friday.
As hopefuls fly in, Bond Street jewelers Asprey hosts the official Nominees’ Party on Saturday night for the fifth consecutive year. Guests are expected to decamp from there to a party thrown annually by Charles Finch at Annabel’s in Berkeley Square. After Sunday’s kudos, an official dinner and after-party follow at the Grosvenor House Hotel. The Weinstein Company’s annual post-BAFTA bash will also happen in Mayfair, while Universal – with hopefuls Les Misérables and Zero Dark Thirty – will host an after-party nearby, too. Sources suggest other studios with large nominations hauls – including Warner Bros. and Fox, with headliners Argo and Lincoln and Life Of Pi – would have events planned this week also.
As the UK’s Sky Living ramps up its NBC co-production Dracula with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, it’s also commissioned a slate of new series with talent that includes The Newsroom‘s Emily Mortimer and Emmy- and Oscar-nominated writer Simon Blackwell. Mortimer stars in and created the six-part comedy Doll & Em, an L.A.-set female buddy show that will co-star her real-life best friend Dolly Wells, and come replete with surprise high-profile celebrity cameos. Blackwell, whose credits include Veep, In The Loop and The Thick Of It, co-created new comedy Trying Again with actor Chris Addison, who starred in both In The Loop and The Thick Of It. The eight-part show, about a man whose fiancée has an affair with her boss, has yet to finalize cast, but is set for production this summer. The commissions follow last week’s announcements of the Sky/BBC America James Bond biopic Fleming along with a group of dramas involving Matt Smith, Idris Elba and Vanessa Redgrave which are all part of Sky’s drive to invest £600M in original content by 2014.
Jen Yamato is a Deadline contributor.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will make its official debut at the Sundance Film Festival with an event featuring new member Will Packer, producer of such films as last year’s Think Like A Man, 2007’s Stomp The Yard and the 2009 Beyonce Knowles starrer Obsessed. Co-presented with The Blackhouse Foundation, an organization that promotes black filmmakers at festivals around the country, the inaugural Sundance edition of “Academy Conversations” will take place at 3:30 PM January 19 at Park City’s Buona Vita. Blackhouse Foundation chairman Brickson Diamond will moderate the discussion. In addition to the aforementioned Sony/Screen Gems movies, Packer’s Rainforest Films produced and self-distributed successful urban titles including 2000’s thriller Trois, which spawned two sequels and launched the feature directing career of Stomp The Yard’s Sylvain White. Saturday’s event will be followed by a reception “addressing such initiatives as Awards qualification rules, filmmaker engagement, educational programs, festival grants and membership” with Academy execs Randy Haberkamp, Patrick Harrison and Torene Svitil in attendance.
While its sister channel Sky Atlantic gears up BBC America co-production Fleming, Sky Arts has assembled an all-star roster for its new Playhouse Presents showcase. The slate of new shows is part of the paybox’s commitment to increase investment in original content to £600M by 2014. The previous Playhouse Presents series, which included such talent as Jon Hamm, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Thompson and David Tenant, was the most successful ever for the Sky Arts channel. This year’s lineup includes Kylie Minogue, David Harewood, Anna Friel, Matt Smith, Idris Elba and Vanessa Redgrave, among others. Doctor Who‘s Smith will make his directing debut with Cargese starring Being Human‘s Craig Roberts and A Long Way Down‘s Joe Cole. Luther star Elba will helm The Pavement Psychologist from his own script that centers on Friel as a woman whose world is turned upside down when she meets a homeless man. Stephen Fry‘s Sprout Pictures produces. Also from Sprout, dark comedy Hey Diddly Dee will star Minogue and Homeland‘s Harewood while Redgrave stars in Union Square, a story of loneliness in the big city, written and directed by her son Carlo Nero. The series of programs starts in the UK in March.
Here’s a second trailer, which debuted as part of the CES convention in Las Vegas, for the Guillermo del Toro-directed Pacific Rim. It grows appropriately bigger from the first look unveiled last month to show off the giant robots that face off against giant alien invaders. The Warner Bros/Legendary pic starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day and Ron Perlman opens July 12. If you like it don’t worry because del Toro and scribe Travis Beacham already have a sequel in the works.
WATCH IT ON YOUTUBE: Pacific Rim CES 2013 Official Trailer
Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine.
“I think she had to be in there for 20 minutes before I yelled action.” Quentin Tarantino is referring to the time that Kerry Washington spent in the “hotbox” — a hole in the ground on a plantation where slaves were sent when they tried to escape. It’s where Washington’s character Broomhilda is locked up when her husband, Django (Jamie Foxx), arrives at Candyland — the vast Southern estate owned by her owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) in Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Her voice parched from screaming and her body weakened, Broomhilda doesn’t know that Django has come to rescue her with the help of dentist-cum-bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz).
“Kerry is very game to make things as real as possible,” says Tarantino, who as Waltz points out, can often inspire actors with their characters’ back stories, “Leaving her in the box for 30 seconds and then yelling action wouldn’t work. Nor would sticking her in the box for hours. But 10 minutes in the box could feel like 30. The idea was for Kerry to become disoriented, lose track of time in there, and contemplate what eight hours in the box would feel like. She could yell or scream.”
“But there was a safe word,” adds Washington, “so that the crew knew when I was panicking as a person, and not as an actor. This is how a lot of the film went — taking the reality as far as we could.”
The first real trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim has arrived. Written by Travis Beacham, the Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures movie about giant alien invaders from another dimension stars Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day and Ron Perlman. Pacific Rim opens July 12th, and Del Toro and Beacham are already working on the script for a sequel.
Resident Evil actress Sienna Guillory will romance Idris Elba‘s troubled English police detective Luther in the drama series’ upcoming third season. The BBC and BBC America co-production is readying a new run of four hourlong episodes that began filming last week. Per the BBC, this season puts John Luther back under intense pressure, with two conflicting crimes to investigate and a ruthless ex-cop determined to bring him down. Guillory will play Mary, a worker in a vintage clothing shop who meets Luther by chance.