Cannes is winding down with the year’s first glimpse of titles that will hit the fall release slates for companies Stateside, with a number likely to factor into the fall awards season. But first off, of course, is summer and Memorial Day weekend. Sony Classics’ Before Midnight and FocusWorld’s We Steal Secrets: The Story Of WikiLeakswill anchor the Specialty alternative to the official onslaught of blockbusters season. Richard Linklater’s Midnight is the third installment which debuted in the ’90s with Before Sunrise, while Oscar-winner Alex Gibney’s expose on WikiLeaks will take the non-fiction spotlight along with Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton As Himself from Laemmle/Zeller Films. Indican Pictures is bowing immigrant feature A Green Story with Shannon Elizabeth, Ed O’Ross and Billy Zane, while Monterey Media will open coming-of-age story, The Lesser Blessed.
Director-writer: Richard Linklater
Co-writers: Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Kim Krizan
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Prior, Charlotte Prior
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
SPC’s Michael Barker and Tom Bernard have played pivotal parts in Richard Linklater’s career, having released his first film Slacker at Orion and later Suburbia at SPC. They were also at Sony when Columbia Pictures released the first film that now forms a trio, Before Sunrise. “We’re big fans of these films and of Rick,” said Michael Barker in Cannes. “And when we saw the first screening of [Before Midnight] in Sundance, we knew we had to have it. The producers wanted us as well, so it felt like a match that had to happen. A deal was made very quickly and it’s been such a pleasure to work on this film. It has Rick at the peak of his form in a very relaxed sort of way. It has artistry but it’s also done in an entertaining way and being in Greece is just awesome.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has hired Richard Cordiner to script Spacesuit, based on the book by Nicholas de Monchaux. This tells the true story of the unsung heroes of the Apollo space program — a team of bra and girdle designers from Playtex who successfully built the iconic spacesuit that enabled Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to walk on the moon. This improbable band of outsiders — led by a former TV repairman, a car mechanic, and their crew of spirited seamstresses — accomplished what all the aerospace giants couldn’t. It’s a long way from the shop floor of Playtex to the surface of the moon, and this incredible story tracks how it happened. Marc Shmuger’s Global Produce brought the project to the studio, and Shmuger and Tom McNulty will produce with Alexandra Loewy overseeing development. Kat Likkel and John Hoberg are exec producers and Jon Berg and Racheline Benveniste are overseeing for the studio. Read More »
BREAKING: Since forming 11 years ago, Focus Features has been a relative bastion of stability. That will remain so as CEO James Schamus has re-upped for a new term, and Andrew Karpen, president since 2006, has been promoted to co-CEO. Schamus will remain a creative catalyst for the company, while Karpen oversees the global business strategy for the company and will continue to spearhead the company’s digital initiatives. Together, they run all aspects of the company, including acquisitions and worldwide production, marketing, and distribution. Karpen continues to report to Schamus, who hatched the label with David Linde in 2002. Schamus reports to Universal co-chairman Donna Langley.
These are stand-up guys who come to the Croisette with the hottest project in Hollywood, and one which they are not selling here, at least not yet. That’s 50 Shades Of Grey, the adaptation of the steamy novel that has sold 70 million copies worldwide, and which Langley won in a huge multi-million dollar bidding battle, and then placed it with taste-maker label Focus, to be produced by Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca. That project is still forming and while there might be some hot and bothered whispering here at the Croisette (it’s unclear whether its partner, Universal, will let any territories go), the focus here for International head of Distribution and Sales Alison Thompson is on Mike Leigh’s new film, which stars Timothy Spall as the painter J.M.W. Turner; the Asif Kapadia-directed docu on Amy Winehouse; and new Focus titles that the Michael Cuesta-directed fact-based thriller Kill The Messenger with Jeremy Renner, and the Andrew MacDonald-directed undersea adventure film Black Sea with Jude Law. FFI will also world premiere Ruairi Robinson’s thriller The Last Days On Mars, starring Liev Schreiber, Olivia Williams, and Romola Garai in the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight section. Read More »
Lovefilm & Warner Bros Strike UK Deal Netflix competitor Lovefilm has entered what it calls a “milestone” deal with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution for the UK. From today, library content that includes The West Wing, One Tree Hill, Nip Tuck and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles will be available to subscribers. The Amazon-owned streaming service has 2M+ subscribers across Europe. Netflix entered the market in January 2012 where Sky also continues to build its business. The three companies each have deals with the major U.S. studios. In November, Netflix signed its own multi-year pact with WBITD that included shows like The Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: HBO Films is developing original movie The Man Who Walked Around the World. Robert Connolly (Underground: The Julian Assange Story) is attached to write and direct the project, based on the book of the same name by David Kunst and Clinton Trowbridge. It chronicles the real life adventures of the Kunst brothers. Following the Apollo moon landing, David Kunst was inspired to walk around the world. On June 20, 1970, David and his brother John walked East out of Waseca, Minnesota with a pack mule named Willie Makeit. On October 5, 1974, David walked back into Waseca, Minnesota, from the west, to become the first person confirmed to have circled the land mass of the earth on foot. David started off the journey with his brother John Kunst who was killed by bandits in Afghanistan in 1972. David was then joined by his other brother, Pete, in a show of support, and the two completed the trip together. The Man Who Walked Around The World is executive produced by Ted Hope, Jonathan Ross, Glenn Rigberg and Anne Carey.
Focus World will debut the WikiLeaks docu from Oscar-winner Alex Gibney (Taxi To The Dark Side) on May 24, marking the first in a slew of upcoming films about the whistleblowing website and its founder Julian Assange. That includes DreamWorks and Participant’s Bill Condon-helmed The Fifth Estate, opening November 15, and the Mark Boal/Management 360/Megan Ellison project in development. Here’s the just-released trailer:
Created by the comics legend with a script by Dan Gilroy (The Bourne Legacy), Annihilator is the story of Ming, a Chinese expatriate recruited by the U.S. military for a secret ‘super soldier’ program and granted incredible powers through genetic enhancements based on various animal species DNA. Josephson told Deadline “I’m always interested in anything that Stan Lee is doing,” adding that “Dan Gilroy’s script is terrific”. Josephson confirmed he is now starting to look for a director.
Josephson’s credits include Fox TV’s Bones and the Disney film Enchanted. He’s also producing The Most Dangerous Man In The World, based on the biography of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The Warrior’s Way executive producer Douglas Falconer is co-producing Annihilator along with Chinese state-run company National Film Capital, which is also co-financing.
South African director Ralph Ziman has taken over helming Kite, a live action remake of Yasuomi Umetsu’s 1998 Japanese anime film that originally had the late David R. Ellis directing. Samuel L. Jackson is starring with India Eisley (The Secret Life Of The American Teenager) and Callan McAuliffe (Underground: The Julian Assange Story, The Great Gatsby) also now aboard. Ellis, whose credits included Snakes On A Plane and Shark Night 3D, died in January. Pre-production is underway in Johannesburg with principal photography to begin this month.
The original Kite was controversial for its graphic depictions of sex and violence involving an orphaned girl who’s taken under the wing of a pair of corrupt detectives investigating her parents’ murder. The new version is described as a character-driven action film that charts the story of Sawa (Eisley), a young woman living in a failed state after the financial collapse, where a corrupt security force profits on the trafficking of young women. When Sawa’s policeman father is killed, she vows to track the murderer down with the help of his ex-partner, Karl Aker (Jackson).
Jackson said, “The zest and enthusiasm David Ellis had for this project led to my commitment to do it. That same commitment to David leads me to fulfil my obligation to see his dedication fulfilled.” Ziman is best known for 2008′s crime actioner Gangster’s Paradise: Jerusalema.
Anant Singh and Distant Horizon’s Brian Cox will produce alongside co-producers Moises Cosio and Alberto Muffelmann of Detalle Films. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Benedict Cumberbatch‘s next high-profile role looks like it will be playing English mathematician Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, Graham Moore’s heralded screenplay that went from Warner Bros to Teddy Schwarzman’s Black Bear Pictures. Headhunters helmer Morten Tyldum recently signed on to direct, and I hear it will be Cumberbatch (he’s in deep conversations but hasn’t yet signed a deal) who plays the genius most responsible for cracking the German “Enigma Code” during World War II that helped the Allies stave off defeat, and who would later be prosecuted by Britain in the early 1950s for being a homosexual. Schwarzman is producing along with Ampersand Pictures’ Nora Grossman and Ido Ostrowsky. Moore will be exec producer.
This is the 2011 Black List script that originally got set at Warner Bros with Leonardo DiCaprio expected to star. In what seems shocking today, the hero was forced to make a radical choice, and he chose chemical castration over prison. He was so demoralized that he eventually committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple. Black Bear is fully financing. With the helmer and Cumberbatch, I can’t imagine some distributor will jump on this Oscar-bait undertaking. Read More »
Addressing an Oxford Union debate via videolink on Wednesday night, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called DreamWorks’ upcoming Bill Condon-directed The Fifth Estate a “massive propaganda attack on WikiLeaks and the character of my staff.” Throughout the address, Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since it offered him asylum in August, had what was purported to be a copy of the film’s script — though The Guardiansays he never showed it to the camera. He told students the film was “fanning the flames” of war since, he claims, it starts inside a military complex in Iran with the suggestion a nuclear bomb is being built. He then asked, “How does this have anything to do with us? It is a lie upon lie.” The Fifth Estate started shooting this week with Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange and Daniel Bruhl as his confidant Daniel Domscheit-Berg and traces the early days of WikiLeaks through to the release of a series of controversial and history-changing information disclosures. The script is written by Josh Singer and based on Domscheit-Berg’s book Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange At The World’s Most Dangerous Website, and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War On Secrecy by Guardian writers David Leigh and Luke Harding.
UPDATE, 10:40 AM: DreamWorks has confirmed my story, and they’ve got a title for the WikiLeaks feature –The Fifth Estate. (At right is also a first photo from the production featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange and Daniel Bruhl as Berg.) I’m putting the press release after the original scoop.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 9:44 AM: Participant Media is closing a deal to become DreamWorks‘ partner on the untitled feature film that Bill Condon is directing about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The studio has Benedict Cumberbatch playing Assange, with Daniel Bruhl playing Daniel Domscheit-Berg, whose book, Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange At The World’s Most Dangerous Website, was one of two books that were the primary source material for the script written by Josh Singer. Steve Golin and Michael Sugar are producing.
This becomes the fifth film partnership between DreamWorks and Participant, where Jeff Skoll and Jim Berk’s focus is to generate socially relevant subject matter. Those other collaborations are the Best Picture nominee Lincoln, The Help, The Kite Runner, and The Soloist.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
EXCLUSIVE: The Australian Broadcasting Corp. has ordered Old School, an eight-part series about an ex-criminal and an ex-cop who go into business together, from Matchbox Pictures. Global sales outside Australia will be handled by NBCUniversal International, which owns 60% of Matchbox, producers of The Slap, Underground – The Julian Assange Story and The Straits. In the vein of New Tricks, the BBC comedy-drama series about a bunch of retired cops turned sleuths, Old School was created by Paul Oliver and will be executive produced by Matchbox’s Tony Ayres and Helen Panckhurst. Matchbox has a busy slate for 2013 including reality shows The Real Housewives for Foxtel, Formal Wars for the Seven Network, Next Stop Hollywood for ABC, children’s drama Lost Boys for ABC, drama series Return To The Devil’s Playground for Foxtel and Ayres’ theatrical feature Cut Snake, which will star Sullivan Stapleton and Ryan Kwanten.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
The long-time rivalry between Australian media tycoons Rupert Murdoch and the Packers- Frank Packer and his son Kerry- which involved fisticuffs at one point, will be chronicled in the miniseries Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story. Set in the period 1960-1975, the production will detail the struggles between Murdoch and the Packers in the newspaper and television industries. “Through 15 years of political intrigue, raw corporate power and high-rolling luxury, these fierce rivals used every means at their disposal to build their empires – and ultimately came to respect and admire each other as titans on the world media stage”, according to the synopsis. Power Games is produced by Southern Star Entertainment’s John Edwards for the Nine Network, which the Packers owned until 2007. Read More »
James McAvoy is deep in negotiations to join DreamWorks’ WikiLeaks film, Deadline has confirmed. “It’s close to being done,” an insider said today. McAvoy would play Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the right-hand man to WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange. Domscheit-Berg’s book Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange At The World’s Most Dangerous Website is partially the basis for the film. The Twilight Saga’sBill Condon will direct. DreamWorks also acquired WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War On Secrecy, by David Leigh and Luke Harding, for the film. Josh Singer wrote the script.Benedict Cumberbatch will play Assange in the as-yet-untitled film. And there is no shortage of WikiLeaks and Assange films on the horizon: Universal and Marc Shmuger have an Alex Gibney-directed documentary, while HBO, Universal and Megan Ellison are also working on WikiLeaks films. McAvoy is repped by UTA and United Agents.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
Australia’s Benedict Samuel has a handful of credits to his name including the telemovie Underground: The Julian Assange Story, the TV soap Home And Away and the miniseries Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo. Now, the 24-year-old National Institute of Dramatic Art graduate has signed with WME, where he’ll be repped by Boomer Malkin. Benedict is the younger brother of Xavier Samuel, who’s making a name in Hollywood with roles in the final two Twilight sagas, Catherine Hardwicke’s Plush and Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous plus the Aussie movies Drift, Bait 3D and A Few Best Men. Benedict is repped by Management 360 and in Australia by United Management’s Natasha Harrison.
The conversations on DreamWorks‘ Julian Assange film that Twilight Saga’s Bill Condon will likely direct is now with Benedict Cumberbatch playing the WikiLeaks founder, and Robocop‘s Joel Kinnaman playing his former right hand man, Daniel Domscheit-Berg. The studio would not confirm this, but it seemed intriguing and dishy enough to discuss. DreamWorks acquired the booksWikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War On Secrecy, by David Leigh and Luke Harding, and Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange At The World’s Most Dangerous Website, written by Domscheit-Berg. Josh Singer wrote the script. Read More »
Gale Anne Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment and Australian-based film company Arenamedia will produce The Shipkiller, an adaptation of the Justin Scott epic revenge thriller novel. Australian filmmaker Robert Connolly (Balibo) is attached to direct and Hurd will produce for Valhalla with Connolly producing via Arenamedia. Henry Morrison and Andrew Myer are executive producing.
The highly regarded high seas novel is described as “an odyssey of revenge that embraces the distant waters of the world, from the titanic storms of the South Atlantic to the oil-slicked reaches of the Persian Gulf.” One man is determined to win at sea the justice he has been denied on land. Read More »
An Australian TV movie that chronicles the WikiLeaks founder’s years as a teenage computer hacker in Melbourne in the late 1980s screens Saturday at the Toronto International Film Festival. Newcomer Alex Williams plays Assange, with Rachel Griffiths as his activist mother Christine, Laura Wheelwright as his girlfriend, and Anthony LaPaglia as the cop who investigates the case. Written and directed by Robert Connolly and based on the 1997 novel Underground: Tales Of Hacking, Madness And Obsession On The Electronic Frontier by Suelette Dreyfus, the telepic was commissioned by Australia’s Network Ten, which will air it next month. NBCUniversal International is distributing worldwide. Assange is currently holed up inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid being arrested and extradited to Sweden for questioning about alleged sexual misconduct or to the U.S. over Wikileaks’ release of confidential diplomatic information.
Here’s more fodder for those movies gearing up about WikiLeaks and founder Julian Assange. After months of house arrest in Britain and an eight-week stint hiding out in London’s Ecuadorian embassy, Assange was today granted asylum by Ecuador. Britain then threw down the gauntlet and vowed to extradite Assange anyway. The controversial figure had been awaiting extradition to Sweden on allegations that he sexually assaulted two women. In June, he entered the embassy and petitioned for asylum, fearing that Sweden would ultimately surrender him to the U.S. – which would also like to prosecute him. Via WikiLeaks, Assange has caused embarrassment to and drawn the ire of the U.S government for publishing hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and classified documents. Ecuador said it granted the asylum because it believes Assange would be politically persecuted if extradited.
Assange is currently the subject of a host of TV and film projects (and until recently was himself hosting talk show World Of Tomorrow from the house in England where he was holed before moving to the embassy). Australian TV movie, Underground, starring Rachel Griffiths, Anthony LaPaglia and newcomer Alex Williams as a young Assange, is debuting in Toronto next month. NBCU International will start sales at the festival. Then there’s the WikiLeaks feature that’s being developed by DreamWorks. Deadline recently reported that Jeremy Renner is looking at playing Assange in that one and that the studio is talking to Bill Condon about directing. Further, Universal and Marc Shmuger have an Alex Gibney-directed documentary, and HBO, Universal and Megan Ellison are also working on films. Read More »