Catch up on the top film stories you missed this week:
The Death Of Sarah Jones: Safety Concerns Raised Over ‘Midnight Rider’ Crew’s Previous Film In Georgia By Jen Yamato
Local, state, and federal investigations are underway to determine who from the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider is responsible for the February 20 train collision on location in rural Georgia that left 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones dead and seven others injured. As the production community rallies around the tragedy and calls for stronger guidelines to ensure that similar accidents never happen again, a Deadline investigation that included interviews with people on the ground in and around Savannah has revealed several troubling factors preceding the afternoon when the crew of the movie, directed and produced by Randall Miller through his Unclaimed Freight Productions banner, placed a metal hospital bed on the live train tracks overlooking Southern Georgia’s Altamaha River.
EXCLUSIVE: Domestic rights to Home, the thriller from writer-director Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact), have been acquired by IFC Midnight following the pic’s premiere last month at SXSW. The Midnight selection stars Naya Rivera (Glee), Catalina Sandino Moreno, Ashley Rickards (Awkward), Wyatt Russell and Ava Acres in the story of an ambitious real estate agent (Moreno) who’s selling a house with a checkered past. When she tries to help the runaway daughter of the property’s owners, she and her sister (Rivera) cross paths with a sinister supernatural force. IFC Midnight will release Home in theaters and on VOD this year. Sonny Mallhi’s Candlewood Entertainment financed the film – its first feature – which was exec produced by Gina Resnick, Kyle Heller, and Jeremy Platt. Nate Bolotin of XYZ Films, Bec Smith of UTA Independent Film Group and by IFC’s Sean Berney negotiated the deal. XYZ Films is also handling international sales and have already sold rights in the UK (The Works) and France, Germany, and Spain (Wild Bunch).
EXCLUSIVE: Hot off their SXSW debut Honeymoon, the filmmaking team of Leigh Janiak and Phil Graziadei have signed with Verve. The film, which Janiak directed and Graziadei wrote, played strongly at the festival and Magnolia Picture’s genre label, Magnet Releasing, acquired the worldwide rights and will release domestically later this year. Pic stars Rose Leslie and Harry Treadway and is produced by Patrick Baker and Esme Howard. Honeymoon will next play at Tribeca.
The film centers on young newlyweds who travel to remote lake country for their honeymoon. Shortly after arriving, he finds her wandering and disoriented in the middle of the night. As she becomes more distant and her behavior increasingly peculiar, he begins to suspect something more sinister than sleepwalking took place in the woods.
BREAKING: Sony Pictures is nearing a deal with Drew Goddard to direct Sinister Six, the Amazing Spider-Man spinoff for the studio. Goddard wrote the script for this first of what Marvel and Sony hope will be a new film franchise that shapes up as an Avengers-like all-star team of bad guys. Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach are producing. The original six villains were Doctor Octopus, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, Sandman and The Vulture. That lineup sounds about right, given that Venom has a movie of his own, with Alex Kurtzman already set to direct that one.
Why is Sony bullish on expanding the Spidey franchise? Like everyone, the studio is hungry for tentpoles, but there is another strategy at play. Much the way that Fox has held on to rights to Marvel’s X-Men franchise by pumping out spinoffs, Sony needs to keep generating films to keep the rights from reverting to Marvel owner Disney. There is no timetable for the villain film, but this one most certainly will come out after The Amazing Spider-Man 3, which is set for release June 10, 2016.
Radius-TWC has acquired worldwide rights to indie horror-thriller Creep, from Blumhouse Productions and the Duplass brothers. The microbudget two-hander stars Patrick Brice as a videographer who answers an online ad to film a stranger (Mark Duplass) in a remote mountain town for a personal project that turns sinister. Brice co-wrote the pic with Duplass and makes his directorial debut with Creep, which will be released later this year. It marks the first collaboration between Duplass and Jason Blum, who produced the film together and have pacted with Radius-TWC to turn the first film into a full trilogy. The second and third films already are in the works. “I’m a huge fan of the renegade tactics of Blumhouse and Radius, and I couldn’t be more psyched to partner with them on this utterly insane new franchise,” said Duplass. Following Creep‘s SXSW premiere, the duo spoke with Deadline about their surprise creative alliance (read it here). Radius-TWC is also releasing Duplass’s Sundance film The One I Love in August. The company’s co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego negotiated what I hear was a seven-figure deal with Submarine’s Josh Braun.
After keeping production on the hush for two years, filmmaker Don Coscarelli has released a teaser trailer for Phantasm: Ravager, the fifth installment in the horror franchise spawned by his 1979 cult pic Phantasm. News of Phantasm V‘s existence dropped only yesterday. Principal photography is now complete under new director David Hartman, the Emmy-nominated animation director (Transformers Prime, Roughnecks: Starship Troopers) who did VFX on Coscarelli’s Bubba Ho-Tep and last year’s John Dies At The End. Coscarelli co-wrote Phantasm V with Hartman and produced for his Silver Sphere banner. Brad Baruh exec produced. Original cast members Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Kat Lester and Angus Scrimm are back as is franchise vet Reggie Bannister as Reggie, whose decades-long search for the sinister Tall Man leads him to the Tall Man’s home world:
Magnolia Pictures’ genre label Magnet Releasing has acquired world rights to Leigh Janiak’s Honeymoon, which had its world premiere at SXSW this month. The pic starring Game Of Thrones‘ Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway next plays at Tribeca in April and the film will be released domestically later this year. The story centers on young newlyweds who travel to remote lake country for their honeymoon. Shortly after arriving, he finds her wandering and disoriented in the middle of the night. As she becomes more distant and her behavior increasingly peculiar, he begins to suspect something more sinister than sleepwalking took place in the woods. Janiak co-wrote the film with Phil Graziadei; Patrick Baker and Esmé Howard produced. Magnolia Pictures International will rep the film at Cannes. “Honeymoon is an auspicious debut from the very talented Leigh Janiak, who has a preternatural mastery of tone and mounting dread, not to mention a deft hand with actors,” said Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles. The deal was negotiated by Magnolia’s SVP Acquisitions Dori Begley and VP Acquisitions Peter Van Steemburg with ICM Partners and the filmmakers legal counsel Gray Krauss Stratford Sandler Des Rochers LLP.
Wednesday afternoon it was Sony‘s turn at bat to strut its stuff at CinemaCon in a no-frills, slickly produced reel that ran the gamut of the kind of movies the studio is known for. There were no stars on hand as is custom for many of these presentations, but Sony prefers instead to serve up cocktails at a pre-reception and let the movies do the talking for themselves. And leading the pack was certainly Spidey as the studio prepares to launch yet another Amazing Spider-Man flick with Andrew Garfield reprising the role for a second time. Set to launch it in some markets mid-April, and domestically as the official start to Hollywood’s lucrative summer season on May 2nd, Sony showed off about 30 minutes of footage from the new film and exhibitors were obviously happy to see it. Anything that’s made as much money as this franchise is always a welcome guest at this convention. And distribution chief Rory Bruer was not shy in touting its virtues, even mentioning that the studio plans to further milk the franchise by launching a number of spin-off films including an Avengers-style Sinister Six edition as well as a movie toplining Spidey villain Venom. Oh what a tangled web they are weaving in Culver City, but after a weak 2013 summer, Sony is hoping to come roaring back strongly in this year’s hot weather months. … Read More »
After facing off in Magnolia’s upcoming The Sacrament, Gene Jones and AJ Bowen have been set to reunite in horror pic Dementiafrom BoulderLight Pictures. Jones, who appeared in No Country For Old Men and House Of Cards prior to his role as a charismatic cult leader in Ti West’s June release The Sacrament, will star as an elderly veteran diagnosed with dementia who begins to suspect his live-in nurse harbors a sinister secret. Bowen (You’re Next) has been cast as his son in the pic which also co-stars Kristina Klebe (Proxy), Marc Senter (Red, White, and Blue), Graham Skipper (Almost Human), and Hassie Harrison. Dementia is produced by relative newcomers Raphael Margules and J.D. Lifshitz, whose BoulderLight shingle produced this year’s indie horror Contracted as well as the upcoming Uncaged, also starring Jones. Helmer Mike Testin was DP on Contracted and will make his feature directorial debut on Dementia as production ramps up next week in L.A. Script is by Meredith Berg who made the genre-focused Blood List with Faceless. North American sales will be handled by XYZ Films with BoulderLight repping international. Jones is repped by Ann Steele Agency; Bowen is with One Entertainment; and Berg is repped by Marc Manus.
The final trailer for Sony and Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 dropped today, setting up the battle between Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker and bad guys Henry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) and Electro (Jamie Foxx). The 3D pic is due out May 2 and remember it will help set the baseline for all those spinoffs planned involving Venom and the Sinister Six, with helmer Marc Webb, five writers and two producers charged with crafting the expanded universe.
Blumhouse Productions’ Jason Blum and filmmaker Mark Duplass aren’t the likeliest pair to join forces, but the microbudget horror maven and the indie veteran found common ground when they linked up just over a year ago on a found-footage pic Duplass was hammering out with director pal Patrick Brice. Creep follows the unfolding tale of a videographer (Brice) who answers a Craigslist ad to shoot video of a stranger (Duplass). The two filmed the pic on the fly shaping the story as they went. When Creep began looking like a horror pic, Duplass rang Blum, who then came aboard as producer. The film premiered last week at SXSW.
Blum, who made his fortune and his name on 2009′s game-changer Paranormal Activity, has seen his reputation as a hitmaker climb as audiences keep buying tickets for his insta-franchises including Insidious, Sinister, and The Purge. In a SXSW keynote speech, he lined out the secret to Blumhouse’s success: low budgets of $1M-$3M, directors with something to prove (and, often, bad studio experiences under their belts), no CG, no rebate-state shoots outside of L.A., and scale pay for cast and crew with a cut of the profits if the movie is a hit.
However Creep‘s future shakes out, Duplass is ready to embrace alternative channels of distribution. The actor-writer-director-producer got his start with his and brother Jay Duplass’ indie drama The Puffy Chair, one of Netflix’s early streaming success stories. He’s now produced and distributed nine more features using his own Blum-like formula developed over the past decade working in indie film. Creep is the first of their two features together, with Universal and Blumhouse’s Stephen King adaptation Mercy also on the way. Blum and Duplass explained their simpatico methods during SXSW: Read More »
It’s been two years since China passed Japan to become the world’s No. 2 box office territory, and Columbia Pictures is making a big push to raise its profile there. The company said today that it has sealed partnership deals with Chinese filmmakers and companies to expand its local-language production in the planet’s most populous country. The first project on tap is The Monk, a martial arts action from Palme d’Or-winning director Chen Kaige, which is shooting on location in Hebei Province. Sony Pictures Releasing International plans a summer 2015 bow for the Chen Hong-produced pic, which follows a young monk who is forced to leave his impoverished monastery and must rely on his extraordinary martial arts skills to survive on the outside. He comes across a rare book about a lost martial art — a book coveted by a sinister father and son who will go to any lengths to obtain it. New Classics Media will distribute The Monk in China. The pic marks Columbia’s second recent production in Mainland China, following the upcoming Gone With The Bullets, Jiang Wen’s follow-up to his 2010 action comedy Let The Bullets Fly, which made $140M worldwide.
A down-on-his luck salesman gets a strange phone that sets him on a series of 13 tasks, each more sinister — and lucrative — than the last. Mark Webber stars in director Daniel Stamm’s 13 Sins, which had its world premiere Friday at SXSW as a Midnighters. Rutina Wesley, Devon Graye, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Richard Burgi, Tom Bower, Ron Perlman co-star in the Radius-TWC pic, which Stamm (The Last Exorcism) scripted with David Birke. It’s available on demand March 14 and in theaters April 18. Here’s the rather violent red band trailer:
TWC-Dimensionpicked up rights to author Ira Levin’s 1973 Broadway thriller Veronica’s Room in December, and now has tapped Mark Bomback to pen the adaptation. The original play from Rosemary’s Baby writer Levin centererd on two students who find themselves invited to a crumbling New England estate for an audience with the last surviving member of the family that once lived there. The purpose of the visit is so that Susan, one of the students, will agree to impersonate Veronica, the long-dead sister of the fading Cissie. And that’s where the line between what’s real and what’s not begins to blur.
Bomback’s credits include Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and Unstoppable, and he did work on the Fifty Shades Of Grey movie. His script Art Of Racing In The Rain is in development at Universal. “Mark coming on board is huge for this project. He shares the same passion for Ira’s play that I do and together we hope to make something very sinister and special,” said Bob Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company. Bomback is repped by WME, Anonymous Content and Attorney David Colden. Read More »
Game Of Thrones‘ Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway star in writer-director Leigh Janiak’s horror thriller that will have its world premiere Friday in the Midnighter section at SXSW. Honeymoon centers on a couple who travel to remote lake country (why always a lake?) for their honeymoon. But as she becomes more distant and her behavior increasingly peculiar, he begins to suspect something more sinister. ICM is repping worldwide rights.
Marjane Satrapi’s English-language debut The Voices premiered this year at Sundance and stars Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, and Jacki Weaver. Lionsgate has landed U.S. distribution rights to the horror comedy, which centers on a lovable but disturbed factory worker (Reynolds) who yearns for the attention of a woman in accounting. When their relationship takes a sudden turn, the man’s talking pets — a sinister cat and benevolent dog — lead him down a fantastical, murderous path. Michael R Perry wrote the script and Matthew Rhodes, Adi Shankar, Roy Lee and Spencer Silna produced. The film is presented by Lionsgate and 1984 Private Defense Contractors and is a Mandalay Vision, Studio Babelsberg and Vertigo Entertainment production. Satrapi’s first feature, Persepolis, was nominated for an Animated Feature Oscar in 2008. CAA and UTA co-repped the deal.
The 2014 Tribeca Film Festival unveiled 47 of its 89 feature-length films in its lineup today in the World Narrative and Documentary Competition selections as well as the out-of-competition Viewpoints pics. Thursday will see the remainder in the Spotlight, Midnight, and Special sections. The fest kicks off April 16 with the already announced opening-night film, the Nas documentary Time Is Illmatic. Dior And I will screen opening night for the World Documentary competition, the Rory Culkin-starrer Gabriel from U.S. writer-director Lou Howe will open the World Narrative competition, and Summer Of Blood will open Viewpoints — all world premieres and all to screen April 17. The fest runs through April 27. Here’s the lineups in the three sections: Read More »
Valentine’s Day, not surprisingly, is a ripe date to open a romantic comedy. Monterey Media is hoping to tap those love bird dollars with its Paris set Girl On A Bicycle with a fairly hefty 60-market bow in major cities including New York and Los Angeles. China Lion will open Beijing Love Story, appealing to its Chinese-American audience with the filmed version of a popular television show. But Valentine’s Day can also offer work that perhaps goes against the grain. Cavu Pictures will open Lucky Bastard, which boasts an NC-17 and a story involving a young man winning a “date” with a porn star. Zak Forsman’s Down And Dangerous skirts the manufactured holiday as well with a film that filmed in L.A. on the edge of the law.
Girl On A Bicycle
Director-writer: Jeremy Leven
Cast: Vincenzo Amato, Nora Tschirner, Paddy Considine, Louise Monot, Stéphane Debac
Distributor: Monterey Media
Agency Paradigm presented German-U.S. production Girl On A Bicycle to Monterey Media last spring. The company found appeal with its Paris setting and the fact it’s a romantic comedy. The feature follows an Italian who drives a Parisian tour bus. He has proposed to his German girlfriend, but things turn upside down when a woman pulls up beside his bus on her bicycle. “We found the film so very charming, and the opportunity of Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday this year was just the right convergence of circumstances,”said Monterey Media managing partner Scott Mansfield. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Blumhouse horror pic Visions has added another TV name to its cast. Eva Longoria will join Isla Fisher, Anson Mount, and Community‘s Gillian Jacobs in the film which also has The Big Bang Theory‘s Jim Parsons in talks to co-star. Fisher stars as a pregnant woman who moves with her husband to the countryside where she is plagued by visions of a sinister hooded figure. Longoria will play Fisher’s fashionable, acerbic and funny city gal pal who disapproves of her friend’s life choices. Visions is directed by Kevin Greutert from a script by Lucas Sussman. Universal is set to distribute the Jason Blum-produced pic as the latest in the companies’ fruitful microbudget genre collaborations while Blumhouse International is repping rights at the Berlin Film Festival. Meanwhile Longoria directed Episode 1 of Lifetime’s Devious Maids, the Marc Cherry dramedy she’s an exec producer on which returns for its second season on April 20. On the big screen she’s also set to star in upcoming pics Frontera with Michael Pena and Ed Harris, Refugio from Damian Bichir, and Any Day opposite Sean Bean and Kate Walsh. Longoria is repped by CAA, Brillstein Entertainment and Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal Laviolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman.