The Coen brothers‘ Inside Llewyn Davis won Best Feature tonight at the fourth annual IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards but lost some of the spotlight to presenter Lee Daniels, who made some eyebrow-raising remarks. Kicking off awards season in NYC, the trophy show propelled the CBS period folk music drama and Fruitvale Station, Dallas Buyers Club, and docu The Act of Killing toward the Oscars. The raucous audience at Cipriani Wall Street chattered so loudly during Daniels’ tribute speech his The Butler star Forest Whitaker that he tried to shush them with a few f-bombs. “Forest would like to hear all you talking through my speech, so shut the f*ck up,” admonished Daniels. He wasn’t the only presenter to complain onstage about the Gothams crowd, as Julie Delpy threatened to set herself on fire to get their attention while presenting another tribute, to Before Midnight helmer Richard Linklater.
Big wins went to Fruitvale Station, which nabbed Best Breakthrough Director and Actor for Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, respectively. Dallas Buyers Club star and Oscar hopeful Matthew McConaughey won the Gothams’ inaugural Best Actor award and accepted via iPhone through co-star Jared Leto with his signature “All right, all right, all right.” Short Term 12‘s Brie Larson nabbed Best Actress honors, boosting the SXSW winner’s awards profile. Presenting Best Documentary, Morgan Spurlock took a shot at public television (“PBS: We pay more money than IFC”) before presenting the Gotham to Joshua Oppenheimer’s Oscar hopeful The Act of Killing.
Related: OSCARS: An Early Look At The Best Picture Race – Frontrunners In A Crowded Field
Host Nick Kroll (Kroll Show, The League) struggled with the ambivalent room early on with a roast of the indie scene: “To the people from L.A. or abroad, I hope you’re enjoying your tiny hotel room you had to pay for out of pocket because Magnolia or IFC wouldn’t pony up.” Riffing on the night’s nominees, he quipped, “A common theme in this year’s movies are the horrors we inflict upon one another – slavery, war, folk music… .” Unfortunately for Kroll, he was upstaged by New York Mayor Bloomberg. “Independent filmmakers and New York have a lot in common… We both want Harvey Weinstein to be nice to us.” Boosting local filmmaking versus runaway production to neighboring Canada while presenting the tribute to his Media and Entertainment Commissioner Katherine Oliver, Bloomberg joked, “For the record: the mayor of Toronto and the mayor of New York do not have a lot in common.” Read More »
Writer/Director Ryan Coogler‘s Sundance Film Festival sensation Fruitvale Station is now, just ten months later, hitting the awards season with strong impact. He was nominated Tuesday for Best First Feature at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, but as he told an audience of AMPAS and Guild members at Deadline’s THE CONTENDERS event earlier this month, the motivation for making his debut feature came from a much deeper place than just creating a prize-winning movie. The trip from real-life events to bringing them to a worldwide audience had a profound impact on the young filmmaker.
EXCLUSIVE: Just over 12 hours after tonight’s screening with President Obama of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom at the White House, Harvey Weinstein will be back at the Executive Mansion to talk film again. This time the Weinstein Company co-chairman will be with First Lady Michelle Obama at 10 AM PT for the Careers In Film symposium she is hosting Friday. Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler and One Chance director David Frankel will join Obama and Weinstein. Naomie Harris, who plays Winnie Mandela in Long Walk To Freedom, also will be participating. The filmmakers’ discussion will be moderated by Gayle King. Coogler also will be joining the Obamas, Harris, Weinstein and Mandela director Justin Chadwick and star Idris Elba at the screening tonight, I’ve learned. The Friday event is designed to teach high school students from Washington DC, NYC and Boston about the film industry. Read More »
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline.
Deadline’s 3rd annual The Contenders event kicked off this morning at the shimmering new Wallis Annenberg Center For the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, simultaneously launching the 2013 awards season precisely four months before the 86th Academy Awards. The spotlight fell on seven different studios/distributors and 22 films competing for awards consideration, with an overview of the Weinstein Company‘s impressive offerings getting things started in a highlight reel that felt like an Oscar contender in itself. An assortment of TWC writers, producers and directors were on hand to share anecdotes and tidbits with Deadline’s Pete Hammond, including Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler, Lee Daniels’ The Butler producer Pam Williams and writer Danny Strong, August: Osage County director John Wells, and the directors of the acclaimed documentaries 20 Feet From Stardom (Morgan Neville) and Salinger (Shane Salerno). Hammond quipped that TWC was so stocked with doc contenders this year that of the 151 eligible entries, “149 felt like they were from Weinstein.” Wells recalled how Osage County co-star Meryl Streep showed up to the first table read of ther script having memorized it and going off-book. “Everyone was like, ‘Wow’,” he recalled. “It was, ‘OK, game on’.”
Related: PHOTOS: Contenders 2013 Gallery
During a session promoting the Roadside/Lionsgate feature All is Lost starring Robert Redford in what the actor has called the most challenging role of his career, sound editors Richard Hymns and Steve Boeddeker marveled at how the film – with abundant action, a single star and minimal dialogue – was literally a sound editor’s dream. And during the following panel for the Focus Features hopefuls Dallas Buyers Club, The Place Beyond the Pines and We Steal Secrets, the morning theme of patience being a virtue came to the fore. Dallas Buyers Club producer Robbie Brenner calmly discussed how her film’s journey from script to screen spanned some 20 years – and nearly fell apart at the last minute when Canadian financing dried up. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: MGM is setting Ryan Coogler to direct Creed, and the studio is in early talks with Coogler’s Fruitvale Station star Michael B. Jordan to play the grandson of Apollo Creed in a continuation of the Rocky saga that Coogler is going to write with Aaron Covington. Sylvester Stallone will reprise Rocky Balboa as a retired fighter-turned-trainer. This comes in the wake of a strong summer platform opening for Fruitvale Station, the film that won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Awards at Sundance, and captured Prize Of The Future at the Cannes Film Festival, where Coogler and Jordan were the toast of the Croisette. Coogler intends for this to be his directorial follow-up to Fruitvale Station so the intention is to make it happen quickly.
Now, I know the knee-jerk reaction is to say it’s hard to get excited about what amounts to the seventh film in the Rocky series. This feels different to me, mostly because of how it came together. Much the same way that Coogler burned with the desire to tell the tragic story of Oscar Grant in his feature debut and begged Jordan to play the role in the $900,000 budget film, this whole idea also came from Coogler. When he signed with WME, Coogler identified Creed as a dream project. While Coogler already had the relationship with Jordan, the agency put him together with Stallone. Stallone, who is right now heavily involved in a stage musical transfer of his original Oscar-winning 1976 film Rocky, loved the idea and felt it was strong enough for him to bring back his signature screen character. Stallone and Coogler then approached MGM’s Gary Barber and Jon Glickman, and they flipped for it. The film will be produced by Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff, who produced the original, along with Stallone and Kevin King.
The intention is for Jordan to play the grandson of Apollo Creed (played in the early movies by Carl Weathers). Raised in an upper-crust home thanks to the ring riches earned by his grandfather, the young man doesn’t have to box and his family doesn’t want him to. Yet, he has the natural instinct and gifts and potential that made his grandfather the heavyweight champion until Rocky Balboa took his crown in 1979′s Rocky II. Creed’s grandson needs a mentor and turns to Balboa, who is out of boxing completely and not eager to return. Read More »
New York, NY – July 15, 2013 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today the special “FRUITVALE STATION: The Story of Oscar Grant,” a behind the scenes look at the making of the film, will premiere exclusively on BET Networks on Monday, July 15, 2013 from 7:30 – 8:00 P.M. ET/PT. The special will also re-air on CENTRIC on Friday, July 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The full-length film opened to limited release on July 12, 2013 to rave reviews and tremendous box office success, and tells the real-life story of Oscar Grant played by rising star Michael B. Jordan. Monday’s making-of special will trace the remarkable journey of this film from production to Sundance to Cannes and now in theaters across the country. TWC is proud to collaborate with BET who has championed this film from its very beginning starting with the Sundance Film Festival. BET recognized early on the importance of director Ryan Coogler’s feature debut film and the significance of Oscar Grant’s story. They have shown tremendous support for the film including – the BET Experience screening in late June, featuring the film and its star Michael B. Jordan at the BET Awards earlier this month, partnering with TWC on the film’s New York premiere on July 8th, and online features onBET.com.
Related: Specialty Box Office: ‘Fruitvale … Read More »
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
The Weinstein Company has managed to hit the zeitgeist on plenty of occasions, but this is one has eerie timing. The same weekend that the Trayvon Martin verdict was read, the company also happened to release its Sundance Film Festival ’13 winner Fruitvale Station in 7 theaters, pulling in a broad reach of audiences even as the Twittersphere linked the film with last night’s George Zimmerman verdict. Director Ryan Coogler’s drama, which won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and was picked up by TWC at the festival, tells a story that draws parallels with the Martin case which has gripped the 24 news cycle the past couple weeks. Fruitvale Station grossed $377,285 for a stellar $53,898 average in its opening weekend.
Related: ‘Fruitvale Station’ Star Michael B. Jordan Almost Cancels Q&A After Zimmerman Verdict
TWC’s president Theatrical Distribution, Erik Lomis acknowledged the timing of the film’s release, though he chalked most of the film’s success to its quality rather than timing Sunday morning: “It’s a counter-programmer to the summer popcorn fare. It’s a movie that really makes you think and makes you look inside. It has a great message about a tragic situation and we’re proud of the film and the talent. These numbers speak for themselves.” Relating it to the Martin verdict he noted: “It’s a similar issue and in the public sphere — we didn’t plan that of course. I think our picture has a very important message and we want as many people to see it as possible.” Lomis noted that the film played across the spectrum with a 43% white and 29% African American audience over the weekend. Read More »
UPDATE: At a Q&A following a Saturday night screening of Fruitvale Station in LA, star Michael B. Jordan told the audience: “I want to hear your questions tonight and answer them. But if you could keep it away from Trayvon, I think my opinion on that is not going to help anybody right now.” Jordan was there to talk about the acclaimed Sundance and Cannes Film Festival award-winning film about Oscar Grant, the young black man who was killed by a white BART officer in a 2009 New Year’s Eve incident at the Fruitvale Station stop in Oakland. ”My heart hurts so bad right now. I wasn’t going to come after I found out about George Zimmerman getting acquitted. It broke me up. That’s why I think this film means so much, because it keeps happening again and again. [We must] learn how to treat each other better and stop judging one another just because we’re different. It’s not just a black and white thing, it’s a people thing. It’s the only way that things are going to take the necessary steps to move in the right direction so things can get better because I don’t think it’s ever gonna stop, but something’s gotta f*****g change.”
Fruitvale Station opened this weekend on seven screens. The Weinstein Company‘s distribution head Erik Lomis said the movie is headed for what may be a stellar $50,000 per screen first weekend gross putting it the top tier of 2013 specialty openings. He says the company plans to expand it to another 6 markets next weekend and go nationally on July 26th. Read More »
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
The theatrical rollout of the Sundance Film Festival‘s Grand Jury Prize winner is an anticipated and likely nerve-racking occasion for insiders. This year, newcomer Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station holds the mantle. The film won the festival’s top jury prize in addition to the Audience Award. Last year’s big winner Beasts Of The Southern Wild – also from a newcomer, Benh Zeitlin – opened in the summer, going on to rack up critical awards as well as Oscar nominations and solid but not explosive numbers at the box office. Fruitvale‘s debut will hopefully add shine to what has been a mixed to blasé bag in the Specialty arena of late. Also this weekend, fellow Sundance winner Crystal Fairy (a World Cinema prize winner) is also hitting the big screen via IFC Films. The film was a spontaneous undertaking while filmmaker Sebastián Silva and star Michael Cera awaited financing for another project. Cannes 2012 award winner The Hunt from veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg also joins the newcomer list Friday. The dark but acclaimed film has been a hit at home and other territories, but how it will translate in the U.S. remains to be seen. The weekend’s largest Specialty rollout in terms of location count, though, comes from India. Reliance will open Bhaag Milkha Bhaag in over 100 theaters across the country. Comparatively more limited new arrivals this weekend come from Samuel Goldwyn Films (Still Mine) and Anchor Bay Films (Pawn Shop Chronicles).
Director-writer: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray, Ahna O’Reilly
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Fruitvale Station occupies a coveted place in the specialty/indie world, winning the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic Feature as well as the Audience Award in the same category. Its wins also naturally carry expectations. Last year’s jury prize winner, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, bowed with a $42,426 PSA in four theaters and went on to cume nearly $12.8 million domestically. It also managed to accumulate a slew of year-end awards as well as multiple Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress in a Leading Role, not bad for a film with no known actors. Fruitvale Station, however, boasts known talent including Oscar winner Octavia Spencer and Friday Night Lights actor Michael B. Jordan. “We’re excited and have high hopes for Fruitvale Station,” said TWC president of Theatrical Distribution Erik Lomis. “Beasts is not a model for this, but it did prove that you don’t have to open at the end of year to receive acknowledgment. There needs to be an alternative [to the summer blockbusters]. It’s a powerful film and we’re going to take it out nationally.” Read More »
Last month the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences took great strides in order to bring more diversity to its membership. Now will that effort affect the actual Oscar race itself? Certainly this year distributors, particularly The Weinstein Company and Fox Searchlight, are going to be giving the Academy every opportunity to put some diversity into that race, especially in terms of a major African- American presence. Beginning with this Friday’s platformed Weinstein release of the widely acclaimed Sundance and Cannes award winner, Fruitvale Station there is a highly promising lineup of films that seriously depict the Black experience to be released in the second half of 2013. And I am not talking about Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas.
This group of movies, which also includes the increasingly-controversial The Butler (8/16- Weinstein), 12 Years A Slave (10/18- Searchlight), Mandela: A Long Walk To Freedom (11/29 – Weinstein), Black Nativity (11/27 – Searchlight), Blue Caprice starring Isaiah Washington (IFC – 9/13), the recently -released documentary Twenty Feet From Stardom (Radius-TWC) and (far less likely) even the long-delayed Winnie Mandela (Image Entertainment) starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard now being released in September, provide a bountiful opportunity to let the Academy show off its new spirit of diversity, not that they have been completely dormant in that area in recent years. Of course 2012′s Beasts Of The Southern Wild made the most recent Best Picture cut and won its 9 year old star Quvenzhane Wallis a Best Actress nomination. And Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar winning Original Screenplay for another 2012 Best Pic nominee, Django Unchained had a unique take on slavery. Two years ago the box office success of The Help propelled it towards a Best Picture nomination and acting nods for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, the latter winning for Best Supporting Actress. And just four years ago Precious won a couple of key Oscars for Supporting Actress Monique and screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher as well as Best Picture and Directing (for Lee Daniels) nominations. Read More »
The 2013 Un Certain Regard prizes were handed out by Thomas Vinterberg’s jury this evening in Cannes. Cambodian director Rithy Panh won the top award for his first-person story The Missing Picture. The Jury Prize was given to the well-liked Omar by Oscar nominee Hany Abu-Assad. Alain Guiraudie won the Directing Prize for the controversial but acclaimed erotic thriller Stranger By The Lake which Strand Releasing picked up this week. The Un Certain Talent award was given to the ensemble of actors from Spanish director Diego Quemada-Diez’ The Golden Cage. And Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station was honored with the Prize of the Future. His film, which won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award in Sundance, held a berth in UCR that’s usually reserved for movies that made a name in Park City. Eventual Oscar nominee Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts Of The Southern Wild ran in UCR last year. Read More »
Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights) stars in Fruitvale Station as Oscar Grant, the 22-year-old Bay Area man whose fatal 2009 shooting by Oakland BART police sparked outrage and protests against police brutality. The Weinstein Co. nabbed Ryan Coogler’s directorial debut out of Sundance for $2 million before it won the fest’s U.S. Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. Now the pic’s set for a July 12 release, eyeing awards season. Check out the trailer:
EXCLUSIVE: Just as his breakout film Fruitvale was announced this morning in the Un Certain Regard category of the upcoming Cannes Film Festival, actor Michael B. Jordan has changed agencies moving from UTA to WME. Jordan plays Oscar Grant in the Ryan Coogler-directed fact-based drama about a troubled young man who tries to remake himself into a responsible citizen for the sake of his child, and who was gunned down by cops on a San Francisco train platform. The film premiered at Sundance, where it won the Grand Jury Price and Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic Film. It was bought there by Harvey Weinstein. TWC has retitled the film Fruitvale Station and will release the film July 26.
Jordan has been doing strong work since he was a kid. That includes the softhearted drug dealer Wallace in HBO’s The Wire and QB Vince Howard on the NBC series Friday Night Lights. He then starred in the Fox sleeper hit Chronicle and returned to TV for a season of the NBC series Parenthood. He recently filmed the comedy Are We Officially Dating?, the Tom Gormican-directed pic that also stars Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Imogen Poots and Mackenzie Davis. Jordan continues to be managed by The Schiff Company and lawyered by Gregory Slewett.
The Weinstein Company picked up Fruitvale, about the fatal 2009 shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant on San Francisco’s BART by security guards, during the Sundance Festival for north of $2 million. It was one of the biggest deals of the fest, and the Ryan Coogler-directed drama went on to win Sundance’s U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. Now the distributor has changed the film’s name to Fruitvale Station. It remains set for a July 26 release and will be part of TWC’s Oscar-season arsenal for its story about the final day of Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a young man who has been in trouble with the law but is decent at heart and tries to straighten out his life to care for his girlfriend and young daughter. The shooting galvanized protests against police brutality in Oakland.
Fruitvale and Blood Brother were the big winners tonight at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Awards. Fruitvale, about the fatal shooting of 22-year old Oscar Grant on San Francisco’s BART by security guards in 2009, won both the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic and the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award. “This will not be the last time you guys walked to a podium,” said former Fox Filmed Entertainment Co-Chair Tom Rothman as he gave the Grand Jury Prize to the Fruitvale filmmakers. The documentary Blood Brother also had a double win tonight. It took home the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary and the Audience Award for U.S. Documentary. Jill Soloway won the Directing Award for U.S. Dramatic for Afternoon Delight and Zachary Heinzerling took the Directing Award for U.S. Documentary for Cutie And The Boxer. The fast-paced ceremony was hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who had his own directorial feature debut Don Jon’s Addiction premiere at this year’s Festival and was picked up by Relativity Media for a summer release. Check out the full list of tonight’s winners:
U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Award
Fruitvale / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ryan Coogler) — The true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family and strangers on the last day of 2008. Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Ahna O’Reilly, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray.
A very emotional director Ryan Coogler gave … Read More »
UPDATE: The Weinstein Company has confirmed Deadline’s break on this deal. Release appears below original story.
EXCLUSIVE: Harvey Weinstein is salting his Oscar arsenal for next year. After a heated auction with numerous bidders, The Weinstein Company is in exclusive negotiations to acquire Fruitvale for a bit north of $2 million, and a commitment for a big theatrical release. Deal covers English-speaking territories, I hear. The Ryan Coogler-directed drama is about the last day in the life of 22-year-old Oscar Grant before he was killed in a case that galvanized protests against police brutality in Oakland. It is the first big theatrical deal for Weinstein at the festival. The bidding on this one has been going hot and heavy since last night with multiple distributors. Weinstein got into exclusive deal talks after late-hour negotiating that also included Fox Searchlight, Paramount Pictures, Focus Features and CBS Films.
Related: Sundance: Is ‘Fruitvale’ This Year’s ‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’? Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Fruitvale, the Ryan Coogler-directed drama about the last day in the life of 22-year-old Oscar Grant before he was killed in a case that galvanized protests against police brutality in Oakland, is at the center of a multi-distributor auction that will be wrapped up first thing Monday morning at Sundance. I’m hearing that the deal will be worth just north of a $2 million minimum guarantee with commitments for screen commitments and a theatrical release, with P&A. The suitors in the mix at this late hour are led by The Weinstein Company and Fox Searchlight, with Paramount Pictures and Focus Features in the mix. Read More »
The ever-quirky National Board Of Review has crowned Her as the year’s Best Film and its helmer Spike Jonze as Best Director. It only adds to what is becoming a year without consensus — at least so far, after the New York Film Critics Circle named American Hustle their best film yesterday and the Gotham Awards chose Inside Llewyn Davis. The latter won Best Screenplay from NBR, but there was no mention of Hustle anywhere on its list this morning (see the full list of winners below). Also largely ignored were three films most pundits put at the top of their Oscar frontrunners: 12 Years A Slave, Gravity and Captain Phillips. The latter was completely dissed and 12 Years and Gravity mentioned only in NBR’s Top Ten list, but NO individual awards other than a technical citation for Gravity’s “creative innovation”.
Unlike last year when NBR and NYFCC agreed on Zero Dark Thirty as Best Pic and Director , this morning’s list was far apart. The groups’ only matches came for The Wind Rises in animation, Stories We Tell in Documentary and Fruitvale Station as best first film. NBR’s acting choices of Bruce Dern and Will Forte in Nebraska, Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks and Octavia Spencer for Fruitvale represented a completely different quartet than the NYFCC picks of Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto and Jennifer Lawrence. But for those who harbor Oscar hopes, don’t despair. The National Board of Review, which describes itself as “a select group of knowledgeable film enthusiasts and professionals, academics, young filmmakers and students”, has had a lousy track record in recent years of picking eventual Oscar winners. In the past five years only one of their Best Film picks — Slumdog Millionaire — and just two acting choices — Christopher Plummer and Penelope Cruz — went on to win Academy Awards. They haven’t had a Best Director in common with Oscar since Martin Scorsese for The Departed in 2005 — the same year they chose Letters From Iwo Jima as Best Film. Here is NBR’s full list of winners:
Spike Jonze, HER
Bruce Dern, NEBRASKA
Emma Thompson, SAVING MR. BANKS
Best Supporting Actor
Will Forte, NEBRASKA
Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spencer, FRUITVALE STATION
Best Original Screenplay
Joel and Ethan Coen, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
Best Adapted Screenplay
Terence Winter, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
Best Animated Feature
THE WIND RISES
Read More »