EXCLUSIVE: Buffy Shutt and Kathy Jones are out as heads of marketing at Participant Media. They leave Friday after being there for more than eight of the company’s 10 years, a milestone Participant hits after being formed by eBay founder Jeff Skoll, with Jim Berk as CEO. Shutt and Jones grew up in features, together running marketing for TriStar and Universal, and they helped Participant market with social media campaigns issue-oriented films that include The Help and Lincoln, and the Oscar-winning The Inconvenient Truth and The Cove, Good Night, And Good Luck, and Syriana, and Waiting For Superman. Participant has evolved into a more diversified company and that is why this is happening. I’ve confirmed the exit, which was attributed to a restructuring, and officially I’m told it was a mutual decision to part ways. The company will hire a new marketing head who’ll come in as senior vice president, reporting to feature and documentary heads Jonathan King and Diane Weyermann.
OSCARS: Harvey Weinstein On His Dark Horse Best Picture Candidate ‘Philomena,’ And, Well, Everything Else
Each year, Harvey Weinstein has taken time out from his Sundance buying frenzies to do an Oscar-season interview that touches on his Academy hopefuls, all the films he bought in Park City, and politics. Well, January’s Sundance couldn’t have been duller — outside of his multiplatform arm RADiUS, The Weinstein Company made zero buys there for the first time in forever — but so much has happened since that we needed a catch-up call to get it all in. Here, Weinstein touches on everything from watching Philomena get the Best Picture Oscar nomination over higher-profile TWC films to Quentin Tarantino’s leaked The Hateful Eight script to his battle with Warner Bros over The Hobbit gross points, to the NRA. And, just as he came out of Toronto with the big acquisition in Can A Song Save Your Life?, Weinstein walked away from Berlin with The Imitation Game, the drama about genius British mathematician Alan Turing, whose work cracking the Nazi Enigma Code made him a bona fide WWII hero but who later was prosecuted for being homosexual, chemically castrated and eventually committed suicide.
DEADLINE: We started this interview at the tail end of Sundance and you uncharacteristically hadn’t bought a single movie. You went right to Berlin and paid a record $7 million for U.S. rights to The Imitation Game. What happened?
WEINSTEIN: One of the things I’ve never been great at is discipline, but we just didn’t feel like there was anything we had to have at Sundance. We decided that, like with Can A Song Save Your Life? at Toronto, we wanted the movie. Imitation Game was a project all of us followed, and those 20 minutes gave that zeitgeist feeling to me, David Glasser, everyone on our team. Negeen Yazdi, who runs our English office, tracked this one so hard that it was like she was trying to break the Enigma Code.
DEADLINE: How hard is it to make such a big commitment based on a 20 minute compilation of scenes?
WEINSTEIN: It was easier in that we all knew the script and could see the level of performance Morten Tyldum got in his first English language film. Alan Turing is not outwardly very sympathetic. He’s brilliant, but the way that Benedict Cumberbatch played him showed us these guys found the right level of vulnerability, genius and the arrogance of the character, too. We felt after reading the script that you could get this wrong, from the tone to the casting. The reason we didn’t make it ourselves was, it felt like a near impossible walk on a tightrope. Morten walked the tightrope. And Keira Knightley is so brilliant in Can A Song Save Your Life and she was helpful and loyal in pushing it our way that we wanted this huge run she is about to have to be with us.
Bruce Dern Calls It A “Geezer’s Dinner”, But Oscar Nominees Show Up In Force At AARP’s Movies For Grownups Awards
The Oscar luncheon has become a lynchpin for other events and award-related activities since so many nominees are in town for the occasion. It’s a last-gasp attempt to get them out to as many events as possible before final ballots go out Friday. The Dallas Buyers Club group, the Wolf Of Wall Street and several others had AMPAS Q&As lined up Monday evening. But perhaps the biggest event — judging by the Oscar-nominated star power it drew – was AARP‘s 2014 Awards Gala on Monday night saluting Movies For Grownups. Their mission as they say is to “honor outstanding writing, acting and filmmaking with distinct relevance to the 50-plus audience”. Considering the average age of Oscar voters, this is a good place to be seen. Among the winners were 12 Years A Slave as Best Movie For Grownups, Gravity’s Alfonso Cuaron as Best Director, Nebraska’s Bruce Dern and Philomena’s Judi Dench as Best Actor and Actress, 20 Feet From Stardom for Best Documentary, and Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke for their Before Midnight screenplay. Susan Sarandon received the life achievement award from presenter Melissa McCarthy. Best Buddy Picture was CBS Films’ Lost Vegas with star Morgan Freeman and director Jon Turtletaub on hand. Best Grownup Love Story appropriately went to Nicole Holofcener for the terrific and sadly Oscar-overlooked Enough Said.
Related: 86th Academy Awards Nominees Photo
Golden Weekend: ‘American Hustle’ One Of Many Films Taking Advantage Of Pre-Globe And SAG Q&A Circuit (Video)
Second only to Academy Awards week , the days leading up to tonight’s Golden Globes are chock-full of enough industry happenings and parties to drive a contender crazy. And though I spoke to many Globe voters over the weekend at these events I couldn’t get much of a consensus about what actually might win tonight, which is somewhat out of the norm for a show that’s usually a little more predictable.
What is predictable is this is one weekend that really brings the stars out. It started Friday with the AFI Awards Lunch and accelerated from there. Saturday alone there were plenty of destinations with the Film Independent Brunch at BOA, the BAFTA tea at the Four Seasons, Paramount’s packed pre-Globes party at Chateau Marmont, The LA Film Critics banquet, an Australian party, a CBS party and on and on. Globe nominees and awards contenders were hustling from one to another. At the crowded, star-studded BAFTA party I saw Cate Blanchett‘s publicist trying diligently to get the popular (and mobbed) Blue Jasmine nominee out of the room and back on the road. “We’ve got three more things to go to after this, ” she said. Even more impressive, the stars and filmmakers have been working in several Q&As between all the pre-parties for awards consultants taking advantage of having talent in town for the weekend. Even though the Oscar nomination and Golden Globe polls closed Wednesday, it hasn’t stopped campaigners or slowed down the volume of Q&As aimed at getting those votes. You’d think talent might get a few days off from this particular circuit, but with SAG voting in full swing, and other guild contests going into Phase 2 it’s apparently still prime time. Most important, the Academy’s more stringent restrictions on Q&As for Phase 2 don’t go into effect until Thursday after nominations are announced so studios don’t have to use up one of their precious four Q&A slots allowed from January 16 through end of balloting in late February and can still get some free bang for their buck. As one consultant told me: “We’re still not limited by the number of Q&As we can do. I think it’s a new trend to take advantage of everything going on around the Globes.”
As Deadline was the first to reveal last fall, Richard Gere is starring in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2, which Fox Searchlight has announced is beginning production in India with John Madden at the helm. Gere, David Strathairn and Tamsin Greig join returning stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel and the rest of the cast. This is the first ever sequel made by Fox Searchlight, and the rare adult-themed prestige film to get an encore. The first film was a surprise global hit which grossed $135 million worldwide.
Dame Judi Dench is poised to have a very happy new year. She is certainly no stranger to awards, but there could be more in her immediate future. She’s had 6 Oscar nominations and one win as 1998 Supporting Actress for an eight minute role in Shakespeare In Love. There are also 11 Golden Globe nominations and two wins. And then the British superstar can also boast of an astounding 25 BAFTA nominations and 10 wins split between her film and television work — the most recent coming for her final appearance as M opposite James Bond in 2012′s Skyfall. So what does she need another one for?
The fact is she’s back in awards contention in a big way again this season in Philomena, another signature role as Philomena Lee, a true life story of a woman who had to give up her young child for adoption in the Irish orphanage where she worked — only to search for him 50 years later and discover some startling truths along the way. She’s already racked up SAG, Globe and Critics Choice Movie Award nominations for the crowd-pleasing film (which also has a Best Drama Picture bid at the Globes too) and seems a sure thing for another go at the Oscars when nominations are announced January 16th. This would be her fifth nod (in addition to Mrs. Brown, Iris, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Notes On A Scandal) as actress in a leading role , quite a feat for a performer at any age but particularly one who just turned 79 years old earlier this month. A win would make her the second oldest ever (after Driving Miss Daisy’s Jessica Tandy) to nab the Best Actress Oscar.
The Weinstein Company’s Philomena and holdovers The Great Beauty, 12 Years A Slave, and Dallas Buyers Club lent some zest to the Specialty Box Office this weekend, with Philomena platforming in New York and L.A. in four theaters and grossing $133,716 for a strong $33,429 average. Ahead of the Stephen Frears-directed feature’s roll out Friday, TWC said they expected the film would pique audience attention, especially among the sometimes lucrative mature movie-going set. TWC’s president of theatrical distribution Erik Lomis said the title had very positive word of mouth screenings in various parts of the country including the Midwest, which has motivated the distributor to open the film fairly wide after this weekend.
“It’s right in the range where we were hoping it would be,” said Lomis Sunday morning.”It plays to an older audience, and we knew it would. We think we’re positioned well as it expands nationally next weekend.” Lomis said the film’s exit polls were “through the roof” with 94% giving it an “excellent” or “very good” reaction. Philomena lead Judi Dench starred in 2012 hit The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, scoring heavily with mature audiences. Fox Searchlight released Marigold to box office acclaim, grossing over $46.4 million domestically last year. On a straight screen average comparison, Philomena‘s opening weekend is actually higher, coming in at $33,429 vs Marigold‘s initial $27K PSA, though that film opened in 27 theaters. TWC, naturally, is hoping to follow some of that film’s success.
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Philomena,’ ‘Weekend Of A Champion’, ‘Narco Cultura’, ‘Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy’, ‘Bettie Page Reveals All’
Documentaries take the spotlight this weekend ahead of next week’s Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. The Weinstein Company, however, is bucking that weekend trend with Stephen Frears’ Philomena, which it hopes will lure the frequently lucrative older demographic into theaters. Roman Polanski’s “lost” documentary Weekend Of A Champion, which has been re-discovered and given a clean-up and a present-day update for its bow four decades later this weekend. The film looks at Formula One racing through champion Jackie Stewart in post ’60s Monaco. Sundance’s Narco Cultura joins the non-fiction offerings via Cinedigm along with Michel Gondry’s animated Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy?. The IFC Films title is closing out this year’s DOC NYC event Thursday night. Last year, DOC NYC featured Bettie Page Reveals All, which also hits theaters this weekend, giving a big screen look at one of the world’s most famous pinup figures.
Director-writer: Stephen Frears
Writers: Jeff Pope, Martin Sixsmith (book)
Cast: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Mare Winningham, Barbara Jefford, Ruth McCabe
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
A best screenplay winner in Venice and the best narrative feature audience award winner at the Hamptons International Film Festival, Stephen Frears’ drama centers on a world-weary political journalist. He follows the story of a woman’s search for her son who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and forced to live in a convent. “We screened it and we knew we had something really special — Judi and Steve Coogan are great,” said TWC’s president of Theatrical Distribution.
EXCLUSIVE: Fox Searchlight and director John Madden are courting Richard Gere to star in the sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the 2011 sleeper hit that grossed $136 million worldwide on a $10 million budget. Original cast members Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton and Maggie Smith are expected to return when shooting begins early next year. Gere would play a new role. WME-repped Gere most recently starred in Arbitrage. Stay tuned, I will supply more details when I get them.
One of the most anticipated films in the Venice competition, Stephen Frears’ Philomena blew a breath of fresh air onto the Lido this morning. Essentially a Judi Dench/Steve Coogan two-hander, it screened to laughs, tears and lots of applause – the latter both during and after the film. Following a series of intensely serious movies – some of which, like Gravity, have been very well-received – festgoers were still looking for a genuine crowd-pleaser. Although Philomena treats a very delicate subject matter, which resulted in the pulling out of a lot of hankies in the Sala Darsena, it’s also a very funny and heart-warming film. The Weinstein Co. won a bidding war for it in Cannes after Pathé screened a seven-minute reel for buyers.
Philomena was positioned to open here using a similar strategy to The Queen. Frears also directed that film which won Helen Mirren the Best Actress Volpi Cup, a screenwriting prize for Peter Morgan and the International Critics Prize (FIPRESCI). It later garnered six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress which Mirren won. Philomena next heads to Toronto. An exec involved in the film recently told me they hoped to arrive at that festival “with a little bit of a reputation.” Given today’s reaction, that hope would appear fulfilled.
UK films brought in $5.3B at the global box office, according to findings published today in the British Film Institute‘s annual Statistical Yearbook. The figure reps a 15% share of the world market and is the third-highest on record. The performance on British movies was led by James Bond pic Skyfall, the No. 1 film of all time in the UK at £103M loocally and $1.1B worldwide. Total UK box office was £1.1B. Admissions, however, were up only a half a percentage point, hampered by distractions that included the Queen’s Jubilee, the Summer Olympics and the Euro 2012 soccer tournament.
On the audience front, people 45 and over made up 36% of moviegoers. The now dominant demographic reflects a trend towards films made for and marketed to older audiences. Top among those titles last year were Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Anna Karenina. Younger audiences declined with the 15-24 age group decreasing from 31% in 2011 to 25% of the total in 2012. Marigold Hotel also led indie exports, taking $135M internationally, followed by The Woman In Black with $128M. Total UK film exports were worth £1.7B.
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Unfinished Song’, ‘Between Us’, ‘A Hijacking’, ‘Somm’, ‘The Attack’, ‘Downloaded’
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
Like last week, a number of Specialty offerings are seemingly undeterred to go up against some of the biggest Summer juggernauts. Narratives and features will open in limited release going up against World War Z and Monsters University. The Weinstein Company will debut its Terence Stamp/Vanessa Redgrave starrer Unfinished Song, while Monterey Media will open Between Us from Slamdance co-founder Dan Mirvish. Magnolia will release Danish-produced drama/thriller A Hijacking, while fellow foreign release The Attack from Cohen Media Group will also begin its run Friday. Joining the fray are two docs. Samuel Goldwyn Films is organizing wine tastings and more along with its new roll out, Somm. And Abramorama will open Downloaded featuring heavy-hitters from the music biz.
TWC came on board Paul Andrew Williams’ Unfinished Song while it was still completing production. The comedy/drama revolves around a grumpy pensioner who honors his recently deceased wife’s passion for performing by joining the unconventional local choir to which she used to belong, a process that helps him build bridges with his estranged son, James. “It has an older audience but it plays to a younger one if we can get them in,” noted TWC’s president of Theatrical Distribution, Erik Lomis.
This turned out to be the first big bidding battle of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which is now winding down. The Weinstein Company won out after sparking to the seven-minute teaser reel shown to buyers during the fest, outbidding others including Focus Features. Now it will join the distributor’s already bursting awards-season slate that includes Sundance winner Fruitvale Station, August: Osage County with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, Long Walk To Freedom with Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela, the Lee Daniels-directed The Butler, Grace Of Monaco with Nicole Kidman, and the Shane Salerno-directed documentary Salinger. Here’s the official release:
CANNES (May 23, 2013) – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today from the 2013 Cannes Film Festival that they are acquiring distribution rights in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Spain to director Stephen Frears’ (HIGH FIDELITY, THE QUEEN) dramedy PHILOMENA. Seven minutes of the film were shown to buyers in Cannes on May 16th, with TWC outbidding a number of other studios vying for rights. Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope penned the screenplay, which is based on the 2009 novel The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith. The project stars Judi Dench (NOTES ON A SCANDAL, THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL) and Coogan (THE TRIP, WHAT MAISIE KNEW) and was produced by Coogan, Tracey Seaward and Gabrielle Tana. Baby Cow’s Henry Normal, BBC Films’ Christine Langan, Pathé’s Francois Ivernel and Cameron McCracken and Magnolia Mae Films’ Carolyn Marks Blackwood executive produced.
Exhibitors I polled this week at CinemaCon had more faith in franchises than star-driven blockbusters on the 2013 slate. Like Tom Cruise in Oblivion, Will Smith is still a big deal to theater owners. He’s just not a sure thing in a slow-moving sci-fi vehicle like Sony’s After Earth, which now opens May 31. Johnny Depp scored biggest with a surprise appearance in front of elated NATO members and the promise of another eccentric blockbuster role, but the specters of Universal’s Cowboys & Aliens and Disney’s own John Carter loom over the Western. Paramount even trotted out an uncomfortable-looking Brad Pitt to boost World War Z, but exhibitors worry the zombie pic won’t be a must-see for moviegoers. Jennifer Lawrence and Lionsgate’s Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire, on the other hand, had CinemaCon attendees seeing dollar signs. Meanwhile the problem with Aubrey Plaza winning CinemaCon’s Breakthrough Performer Of The Year award (on the heels of her MTV Movie Awards stunt) is that exhibitors still have no idea who she is. The Parks And Recreation star is better known to younger TV viewers than the corporate-leaning CinemaCon crowd. And many theater owners still see television as the enemy, including Regal CEO Amy Miles, who said as much at a CinemaCon luncheon Thursday.
But mid-sized theater owners are realizing they have to cater to their audiences, and those may not always be blockbuster crowds. “My biggest movie of last year was The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel“, a 40-year owner of a Michigan resort-town cinema said. “At my theater, the biggest star is Kevin James”, another operator of a California second-run multiplex told me. One thing that was not bankable at CinemaCon 2013: High-frame-rate technology. The Hobbit stumbled at last year’s confab by pushing its 48 FPS HFR 3D to exhibitors. Despite the first pic’s $1 billion global box office, nobody this year was pinning hopes on HFR specifically in The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug this Christmas — even Peter Jackson, who conspicuously made no mention of it in his taped message to the CinemaCon audience.
LOS ANGELES (April 10, 2013) __ 20th Century Fox Film has promoted Danielle Diego to EVP, Fox Music; Joe Hartwick, President of Physical Production, announced today. In her new position, the 17-year Fox vet will be responsible for overseeing music supervision for films across all Fox Film Divisions: 20th Century Fox Film, Fox Searchlight, Fox 2000 and Fox Animation.Prior to her new post, Diego served as SVP of Fox Music and music supervised numerous film including EPIC, RIO, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, WOLVERINE; THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT, THE NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM franchise, DRUMLINE and most recently LIFE OF PI, which won both the Golden Globe and Academy Award® for Best Original Score.
EXCLUSIVE: We all know that tensions rise during those final weeks leading up to the Academy Awards as media outlets decide who’s worthy and who’s not. So this begs the question: with so much money and prestige at stake, is it possible for even major and reputable media outlets to voice any negativel opinions while Oscar campaigning is underway? Especially if they want Academy Award contenders to take out ads and sit for interviews and come to parties? Increasingly, no.
It’s well known that The Hollywood Reporter and Variety cravenly promise Oscar hopefuls flattering coverage. But Vanity Fair? Granted, its year-round showbiz coverage has all the heft of a marshmallow. But its Deputy Editor Bruce Handy this Oscar season wrote for the magazine’s website one brief but hardly brutal column dissecting Jessica Chastain‘s body of work. This wasn’t some freelancer: this was the magazine’s #2 who dared to express mild criticism about the Best Actress Oscar nominee for Zero Dark Thirty. ”I’m surprised it’s being hailed as one of the year’s great performances, and that it has earned her an Oscar nomination for best actress,” Handy opined. “It’s not the sort of flashy thing, like playing a transgendered murder victim or quadriplegic boxer, that the Academy normally rewards.” He included much praise but also said Chastain was an “empty vessel”‘ and “recessive presence” who doesn’t “quite hold your eye”.
The piece posted on the VF website January 25th at a pivotal point in Oscar campaigning: just before final paper ballots went out and online voting began. Within a day, the analysis was gone. Not just gone from the VF website but really really really erased from the Internet at large. (Replaced by this sassy VF error message flaunting top editor Graydon Carter.) Publicists for Sony Pictures and Chastain’s BNC flackery told me it was “not true” that VF deleted the article. But, to its credit, Vanity Fair owned up to it. Explained VF spokeswoman Beth Kseniak: “We took it down because it ran counter to what a number of people at the magazine believed.”
Ran counter to what? Its 19th annual Vanity Fair Hollywood issue whose centerpiece was a 44-page Bruce Weber portfolio completed over 8 days photographing 125 people including 75+ actors? Or this year’s crop of invitations to the VF Hollywood party? (Actual attendees, who haven’t been diissed by the magazine in decades, included Ben Affleck, Daniel Day-Lewis, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway, Ang Lee, Chris Terrio, Quentin Tarantino, Amy Adams, Jennifer Aniston, Elizabeth Banks, Jason Bateman, Kate Beckinsale, Len Wiseman, Halle Berry, Orlando Bloom, Kate Bosworth, Russell Brand, Adrien Brody, Sandra Bullock, Gerard Butler, Sacha Baron Cohen, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chris Evans, Jane Fonda, Jamie Foxx, Richard Gere, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jon Hamm, Armie Hammer, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Hugh Jackman, Tommy Lee Jones, Taylor Lautner, Michael Pena, Chris Pine, Natalie Portman, Daniel Radcliffe, Jeremy Renner, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Amanda Seyfried, Hilary Swank, Channing Tatum, Marisa Tomei, Chris Tucker, Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Reese Witherspoon, Judd Apatow, Steve Martin, Melissa McCarthy, JJ Abrams, Jerry Bruckheimer, Tim Burton, Helena Bonham Carter, Cameron Crowe, Tom Hooper, Ron Howard, Penny Marshall, Brett Ratner, David O. Russell, Bryan Singer, Steven Spielberg, Aaron Sorkin, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz, Barbara Broccoli, Brian Grazer, Kathleen Kennedy, Graham King, Jane Rosenthal, Megan Ellison, Jim Berkus, Ari Emanuel, Kevin Huvane, Bryan Lourd, Richard Lovett, Patrick Whitesell, Michael Barker, Tom Bernard, Rob Friedman, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Donna Langley, John Lasseter, Jeff Robinov, Sir Howard Stringer, Harvey Weinstein?)
Here’s the article which Vanity Fair worked so hard to erase. Judge for yourself:
The Jessica Chastain Conundrum: Greatest Actress of Her Generation or Found Art?
By Bruce Handy
Movie acting is a strange, alchemic art. This weekend, for instance, you can go to your local multiplex and see Jessica Chastain play a credibly fierce C.I.A. officer in Zero Dark Thirty. Then you can go next door and see Mama, in which Chastain plays the least fierce, least credible punk rocker in the history of film. Maggie Smith could have done it with more edge and nerve.
WGA Awards Winners: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’s Mark Boal, ‘Argo’s Chris Terrio, ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Louie’, ‘Girls’, ‘Portlandia’, ‘Searching For Sugar Man’s Malik Bendjelloul (LIVE)
Deadline Editor in Chief Nikki Finke is writing from on-scene coverage by Deadline’s Awards Columnist, Awardsline’s Anthony D’Alessandro, and contributor Ray Richmond. The 2013 WGA award winners are named here. There will be an update to this post on Monday morning:
LOS ANGELES… Refresh for latest… Speeches & Color To Come
The 65th Annual Writers Guild Awards Los Angeles ceremony tonight honored outstanding achievement in writing in film, television, radio, new media, and other awards categories. The presentation at the JW Marriott LA Live was going on simultaneously with the New York City ceremony. (WGA East Awards 2013 Ceremony - LIVE). Or at least it was supposed to. Instead, the LA event lagged NYC’s by almost an hour. Which meant award winners were being announced first by WGAE and then trickling into the WGAW audience to ruin any suspense. ”This is outrageous,” one audience member emailed me from the scene. “Word of Chris Terrio’s Argo win for Adapted Screenplay in NYC came in right after Lincoln nominee Tony Kushner accepted his Paul Selvin award from Steven Spielberg. No award for Adapted Screenplay still in sight in LA. WTF?” What a mess. Unfortunately, the WGAW had no control over the East’s announcements. Traditionally, NYC gives out some news and radio kudos that the West doesn’t. However, the WGAE took to tweeting all the winners, which is another reason why they started beating the announcements …
LOS ANGELES /BERLIN/DOHA– February 13, 2013 – Participant Media, the leading provider of entertainment that inspires and accelerates change, known for such critically acclaimed and commercially successful films as An Inconvenient Truth, Food, Inc., The Help, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, and Doha Film Institute (DFI), a leading cultural organization established to support the growth of a sustainable film industry in Qatar and the Middle East, and backer of critically-acclaimed films such as The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Where Do We Go Now, May in the Summer, and Just Like a Woman, have formed a $100 million revolving fund to finance a slate of feature films, it was announced today by Jim Berk, CEO of Participant Media, and Abdulaziz Al-Khater, CEO of Doha Film Institute. The five year revolving fund provides production and development funding for 12-16 feature films, with Participant and DFI working in collaboration to develop the films as well as oversee production and arrange worldwide distribution.
In addition to the Film Fund, Participant and DFI are exploring a joint venture to create content for Participant’s new television channel, launching in August; establishment of a distribution outlet for DFI’s film production through Participant’s media interests in the US and other territories; creation of an Arabic version of TakePart.com, Participant’s on-line division and Social Action Network to jointly create Middle-Eastern based content in Arabic and English for distribution around the world; and establishment of a Middle East branch of Participant to be based at DFI’s Qatar headquarters.
The British Film Institute has released box office and production stats for the UK in 2012 that offer up a mix of good, bad and unsurprising news. Box office was up just a touch after being dented by summer events that turned attention away from the multiplex. At the same time, investment from abroad dropped drastically after a record 2011 that included the shoots of The Dark Knight Rises, Dark Shadows, Skyfall, Prometheus, Snow White And The Huntsman, World War Z and Wrath Of The Titans.
The overall UK spend of features that started production in 2012 was £927M ($1.47B), a 29% drop on 2011’s record-breaking £1.29B. A total of 26 so-called inward investment movies, including Warner Bros.’ All You Need Is Kill, Red 2 for Lionsgate/Summit, Paramount’s Jack Ryan and Universal’s Fast And Furious 6 and Kick Ass 2, contributed £631M compared to the 34 films in 2011 which spent £1B. Simon Oakes, producer of 2012′s top indie, Woman In Black, thinks the trend is cyclical. “I don’t think this is a forever stat. We’ll probably see this year that it will come back up again. Look, if there was an intention not to spend money by the U.S. studios in the UK, Warner Bros. wouldn’t have spent money on Leavesden,” Oakes tells me about the £100M+ Warner invested on a London-adjacent studio facility after the end of the Harry Potter franchise.