EXCLUSIVE: Entertainment One has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Diana, the Oliver Hirschbiegel-directed drama about a secret love affair that Princess Diana had shortly before her tragic death. With Naomi Watts as the princess, this was one of the higher-profile pictures shopped at the Cannes Film Festival and eOne bought the rights from Embankment Films and Ecosse Films. eOne will also distribute with major releases in the UK, Canada and Spain with the U.S. film coming in Oscar season later this year.
Hirschbiegel helmed the Oscar-nominated Downfall, and screenwriter Stephen Jeffreys wrote The Libertine. Watts, coming off an Oscar nom for The Impossible, stars with Naveen Andrews (best known for ABC’s Lost and The English Patient) in this drama about Diana’s covert love affair with Dr. Hasnat Khan, a Pakistani heart surgeon. This happened in the last two years of her life, before she met Dodi Fayed, and the need for privacy led to her meeting her lover in disguises. This gave her a sense of living an anonymous life, but her incredible worldwide fame became an issue. The film is produced by Ecosse Films’ Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae. Read More »
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.
Following a relatively new tradition they started a few years ago, The Weinstein Company on Friday night brought together a group of buyers, partners and press to preview its 2013 slate and meet filmmakers and stars. Although Harvey Weinstein never once mentioned the word “Oscar”, you can tell that’s definitely what he is thinking with a diverse mix of prestige projects that should give the awards-happy company lots of campaign fodder for 2013. He said after a rocky start the company has had a very good last four years and for 2012 made more than they ever did at Miramax. He also made a plea to the international audience gathered for the presentation at the Majestic Hotel for the continued independence of European filmmaking, especially in light of problems with the European Cultural Initiative. “We can’t let Europe be the same like the United States. What’s great about European movies is they are different and as long as they reflect their culture there will always be special movies like Amour, which we didn’t release last year, and so many movies like that. So keep your eye on the newspaper when this stuff comes up for votes or things we can do to influence it, I think it’s very important,” he said.
After the 40-minute reel led by the August 16th release The Butler and ending with the long-gestating Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Weinstein told me, “It’s a very eclectic, hard-hitting lineup that I am really proud of. What am I going to say? I feel very confident about this year”. Though he may not have been directly making an Oscar-season pitch (thankfully that’s still many months off even for Harvey — well, maybe not), he did make an overt plea for his official competition entries Only God Forgives and The Immigrant when introducing Cannes jury member Nicole Kidman, star of the December 27th release Grace Of Monaco. “We have a member of the jury with us tonight and she has to go for a jury meeting to hopefully decide which movie of mine wins the Palme d’Or. I have certainly given Steven (jury president Spielberg) enough money over the years,” he said to big laughs. Read More »
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. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Bradley Cooper has now formally confirmed to star in the John Wells-directed Chef, making this one of the early projects stirring action from foreign buyers who can now visualize the Silver Linings Playbook star back in meltdown mode in this Shampoo-like drama. He plays a Paris chef named Adam Jones, who destroys his wunderkind status in a blaze of decadence and out of control behavior. He cleans up and returns to Paris sober, determined to redeem himself by spearheading a top restaurant that can gain three Michelin stars. This has been in the works a bit, and recently Cooper saw Wells’ upcoming TWC Oscar-bait movie August: Osage County and then TWC set Wells to direct Chef. They are now looking to round out that cast, and I’m hearing Michelle Williams and Marion Cotillard as potential female leads, and Omar Sy for co-starring role. The film’s produced by Stacey Sher, Erwin Stoff and Michael Shamberg. Read More »
CANNES: Hollywood excess hasn’t disappeared entirely from the 66th Festival De Cannes. But it will be limited to a few studios. Warner Bros is bringing Baz Luhrmann’s lush The Great Gatsby to town for opening night and a gala event. Lionsgate is organizing a beach blowout to promote Catching Fire even though it doesn’t release until November. Fox is making a big deal of the 50th anniversary of Cleopatra, partnering with Bulgari jewelers for a reception displaying pieces from Elizabeth Taylor’s personal collection after a screening of the movie’s new restoration. Even the Cannes jury met for the first time last night, rather fittingly, for dinner at the Palme d’Or restaurant in the Martinez Hotel where the chef prepared a meal inspired by jury president Steven Spielberg’s films. And of course, billionaire Paul Allen’s yacht is expected to turn up in the bay with his annual super-exclusive party falling on May 20. But it’s not all champagne and bikinis on the boats. One exec who’s on a monster yacht each year at Cannes tells me it’s a cost-efficient way to do business rather than just a showy splurge. And even though some Cannes parties can cost $3 million, Warner Bros opened its wallets.
One executive calls it ”a victory lap” for The Great Gatsbyafter grossing way above expectations in North America. Now the studio wants to generate buzz internationally for the film adaptation of this most American of novels. No problem, because the rules state a movie can be released in its own country and still have its international premiere at Cannes. So Warner Bros is using this glitzy platform to open in 49 territories on the weekend including France, UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia and Korea.
The full cast and filmmakers will attend tonight including Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Debicki, Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, producers Lucy Fisher and Doug Wick, and several studio bigwigs led by Warner Bros Pictures chief Jeff Robinov. In 2001 Luhrmann opened the festival with Fox’s Moulin Rouge and one of the most memorable soirées, replete with Can Can girls, trapeze artists and Fat Boy Slim as deejay. The Gatsby after-party will evoke the Roaring 20s with help from partners Samsung, Tiffany, Moët, Brook Brothers and Chivas. There’s a gargantuan structure the size of an airplane hangar set up on a jetty across the port from the Palais where locals are already lining up for the screening Wednesday night. On Thursday night, the Gatsby party structure will be home to a soirée for about 800 locals. This isn’t an official festival event; rather it’s organized by the town each year and Warner Bros agreed to leave up the Gatsby décor for it.
The cheery first trailer for The Weinstein Company‘s Oscar-season dark family comedy August: Osage County, based on Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play, has dropped. The monster cast includes Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Margo Martindale, Abigail Breslin, Chris Cooper and Dermot Mulroney among others. John Wells directed and Letts wrote the adaptation. George Clooney and Grant Heslov produced it with Jean Doumanian and Steve Traxler, and it’s set for a November 8 premiere. Check it out:
EXCLUSIVE: The resilient indie Western Jane Got A Gun finally has its bad guy. Ewan McGregor is negotiating to play the pivotal role of the leader of an outlaw gang in the film that Gavin O’Connor is now directing. Natalie Portman plays the wife of an outlaw (Noah Emmerich) who leaves that gang after he gets shot up, and returns home. Knowing his former outlaw mates will come to finish him off and destroy her farm, Jane is forced to rekindle a relationship with a past love (Joel Edgerton), a capable gunman who can help her. This is the role that Jude Law originally was going to play, but he exited when original director Lynne Ramsay abruptly left the night before production began. After O’Connor came on to replace Ramsay behind the camera, they got Bradley Cooper to play the part, but his schedule is so impossibly busy — particularly after shooting got postponed on the David O Russell-directed American Hustlebecause of the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent city lockdown — that Cooper had to drop out. This was OK because the villain wasn’t scheduled to shoot until later into the production. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: After helmingAugust: Osage County for Harvey Weinstein, John Wells is getting ready to take on another big film for The Weinstein Company. He’s making a deal to directChef, the Steven Knight-scripted drama that Bradley Cooper will star in next year. 3 Arts’ Erwin Stoff is producing with Double Feature Films partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher. Timing on this picture got skewered with Steven Spielberg’s commitment last night to direct Cooper in American Sniper. Still open for debate is whether Cooper will have time to bring a revival of The Elephant Man to Broadway. The plan was for it to open in time for Tony Awards consideration for next year, but Cooper’s schedule suddenly got very crowded and it might have to be pushed until next fall.
In Chef, Cooper will play Paris chef Adam Jones, who blows his status as an up and coming chef when controlled substances lead to out of control behavior. Jones straightens out and returns to Paris sober, and becomes devoted to building a restaurant that can attain three Michelin stars, the mark of cuisine supremacy. Cooper, who made Silver Linings Playbook with Weinstein, got a peek at Wells’ August: Osage County, the play adaptation which has a cast that includes Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. They were impressed enough to offer Wells the Chef job and the deal is being made.
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. Read More »
Sam Shepard has joined the cast of Discovery Channel’s miniseries Klondike, which marks the channel’s first scripted project. Shepard replaces Chris Cooper, who pulled out last week to attend to a personal matter. Based on Charlotte Gray’s novel Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich In The Klondike, the mini tells the story of six strangers and their collective fight for survival and wealth in a small frontier town in the remote Klondike. Shepard will play Father Judge, who has come to Klondike to atone for his violent past on a mission to save souls. Scott Free Prods, Discovery Entertainment One and Nomadic Pictures produce the mini, which is in production in Alberta, Canada. ICM Partners-repped Shepard will next be seen in the movies Mud, August: Osage County and Out Of The Furnace.
Columbia Pictures’ The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has set Chris Cooper to play Norman Osborn, Deadline has confirmed. Father to Peter Parker’s pal Harry, Norman Osborn is the alter ego of the Spidey comics villain Green Goblin previously portrayed by Willem Dafoe in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films. Cooper joins baddies Paul Giamatti as Rhino and Jamie Foxx as Electro in the sequel, which director Marc Webb is now filming ahead of its May 2, 2014 3D release. Andrew Garfield is back as Peter Parker/Spider-Man with Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, joined by Shailene Woodley as Mary Jane Watson and Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn. Cooper will next be seen in The Weinstein Company’s November adaptation August: Osage County. He is repped by Untitled Entertainment.
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. 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 »
Having a script that everyone loves doesn’t always ensure the quickest path to production. Just ask Argo producer Grant Heslov of Smokehouse Pictures. Five years ago, Heslov and producing partner George Clooney hired screenwriter Chris Terrio to turn Joshuah Bearman’s April 2007 Wired article, “The Great Escape,” into a script. The previously classified true story of the CIA’s collaboration with two Hollywood insiders in setting up a fake production company and turning six trapped diplomats into a fake film crew as a way to smuggle them out of Iran was a riveting read in first-draft script form. Nevertheless, scheduling proved an issue for years until the script made its way through Warner Bros. to Ben Affleck, who was eager to make Argo his next project. With the box office hit and festival-circuit favorite firmly entrenched in the awards conversation, Heslov took time from the set of his next project, August: Osage County, to talk about arriving at the right budget number and why Smokehouse is always involved in the marketing of its films.
AwardsLine: It took Argo about five years to make it to the screen. Was it just a matter of scheduling or were other roadblocks holding things up? Grant Heslov: We found it about five years ago, and we developed it, and it was one of a few films that we had that we felt were ready to go. But George (Clooney) and I just hadn’t had time to get it made or figure out what we were going to do with it. When we were shooting The Ides of March, we heard that Ben (Affleck) was interested, so we got together with him, and that’s how that ball started rolling. Read More »
Ewan McGregor has played a lot of different kinds of roles since he first rose to prominence in 1996’s Trainspotting, but there’s one that has eluded his grasp: parenthood. In the December release The Impossible, the real-life father of four plays a man whose family is torn apart by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. He struggles to keep his two young sons safe amidst the chaos while searching feverishly for his wife, played by Naomi Watts, and eldest son, played by Tom Holland. Though it’s the third film he’s appeared in this year after Haywire and Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, McGregor doesn’t take much time off. He recently spoke with AwardsLine from the set of August: Osage County, which is currently shooting in Bartlesville, OK.
AwardsLine: How did you first hear about The Impossible? Ewan McGregor: I heard about it through my agent, and I knew about J.A. Bayona and his film The Orphanage, although I don’t think I’d seen it until I’d read the script for The Impossible. I knew Naomi was attached—I’ve worked with Naomi before—and, yes, after reading the script I was left with no doubt. I didn’t know at the time that it was a true story, but there was something very honest and true about the writing. Another one of the main draws for me was that it was the first time in my career that I explored parenthood, although I’ve been a dad for a long time. I must’ve had some kids in films before, but not many, and I’ve never made a film that’s really about that relationship between you and your kids.
EXCLUSIVE:Chris Cooper has left Paradigm, Deadline has learned. The actor is said to be in talks with CAA, according to a source but will remain agentless for the time being. This comes after a decade at Paradigm for the Oscar winner, who will continue to be repped by his managers at Untitled Entertainment. (Cooper’s manager Michael Lazo was his agent at Paradigm before leaving for Untitled in 2010; Jack Kingsrud had been handling Cooper since then.) Cooper is currently shooting August: Osage County with Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Ewan McGregor.
Although not offering nearly the same level of intense competition as the lead actor race this year, the race for best lead actress is shaping up as one of the more intriguing matchups in recent years, with a wide divide in age, experience, and roles. Although 17-time nominee Meryl Streep finally won her third Oscar last year for The Iron Lady (her first win in 29 years), it is not likely she will four-peat, despite widespread praise for her role as a wife looking to put sexual pizazz back into her longrunning marriage in Hope Springs. She isn’t even letting the studio campaign the performance, which should at least let somebody else out there have a shot, considering Streep is bound to be back in serious contention next year with the much-awaited August: Osage County. So this year there is a large group of Oscar virgins from ages 8 to 85 competing for one of those five coveted slots, but Streep aside, they will have to face an imposing trio of British Dames and past winners Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, not to mention Oscar’s French crush Marion Cotillard, and an overdue Australian dynamo named Naomi Watts, among others. Here’s the lineup from the top 10 to those looking for a way into the mix.
Jennifer Lawrence, The Silver Linings Playbook
As a young woman coming out of her own personal hell and trying to live life again, 22-year-old Lawrence proves her first best actress Oscar nom two years ago for Winter’s Bone was no fluke. Her scenes opposite costar Bradley Cooper are priceless, and she effortlessly navigates the tricky waters from flat-out comedy to heart-wrenching drama. It probably doesn’t hurt that she also starred in one of the year’s biggest hits, The Hunger Games, to cement her frontrunner status here.
Marion Cotillard, Rust And Bone
The great French star, a winner recently for her earth-shattering turn as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose is back and equally fine as an orca whale trainer who loses both her legs in a tragic accident and finds new purpose and love she never knew. Her La Vie en Rose win probably makes a second Oscar so soon less likely, and the film might not be as widely seen as other contenders, but she’s a knockout in the role. Read More »
Ewan McGregor, currently working with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts in August: Osage County, will shoot heist pic Son Of A Gun in Australia early next year. The film centers on the complex relationship between McGregor’s public enemy number one character and his young protégé. Oz director Julius Avery is best known for the Cannes and Sundance award winning short Jerrycan. He also wrote Son Of A Gun and will make his feature helming debut with the film. Altitude Film Sales, a division of Optimum founder Will Clarke’s Altitude Film Entertainment, is handling global rights. UTA Independent Film Group has North America. Hopscotch/eOne has already taken Australia and New Zealand. Timothy White is producing via Oz-based Southern Light Films with Media House Capital’s Aaron L. Gilbert exec producing. McGregor is repped by UTA, UK-based United Agents and attorney Robert Offer. He’ll next be seen in Juan Antonio Bayona’s tsunami drama The Impossible which releases in December. Avery is repped by UTA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and attorney Bryce Menzies.