‘Gone With The Bullets’ Sets China Release Date
Jiang Wen’s Gone With The Bullets has secured a December 18 release date in China. The film is the follow-up to Jiang’s blockbuster Let The Bullets Fly, which made $140M worldwide in 2010. Based on a true story, 3D comedy Gone With The Bullets is set in 1920s Shanghai. Ma Zouri (Jiang Wen) and Xiang Feitian (Ge You) establish a notorious beauty pageant called the Flowers Competition. All of the city’s elite attend the gala event, but when an unexpected winner is crowned, it sets into motion a series of tragic events that change their destinies. Per FilmBizAsia, Jiang’s Buyilehu Film told local media that it hopes the title will represent China at the Oscars next year. The film will be handled internationally by Sony Pictures Releasing International. December is a hot time locally for Chinese films with U.S. movies often out of the frame. FBA says other films believed to be eyeing a December release include Tsui Hark’s The Taking Of Tiger Mountain, Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Wolf Totem and Chen Kaige’s Taoist Mountain.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Gone With The Bullets’ Gets China Release Date; ‘Samba’ Hitting French Theaters In October; More
‘Gone With The Bullets’ Sets China Release Date
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, ‘Grand Piano’, ‘Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons’, ‘Miele’, ‘Particle Fever’, ‘Bethlehem’
Wes Anderson dazzled the specialty box office in 2012 when Focus Features opened Moonrise Kingdom with one of the year’s highest per-screen averages. Now Fox Searchlight takes the Anderson mantle with The Grand Budapest Hotel, which bowed in Berlin and took the Siver Bear Grand Jury Prize. Also this frame, Elijah Wood goes indie with the thriller Grand Piano courtesy of Magnolia, while the distributor’s genre label will bow China box office behemoth Journey To The West. Emerging Pictures will oversee an Italian initiative to bring targeted films from the country “nationwide” in the U.S., starting with veteran actress-turned-director Valeria Golino’s Miele (Honey). Abramorama and BOND360 are collaborating on Sheffield documentary Particle Fever and Adopt Films will open Israeli thriller Bethlehem in more than two dozen theaters Friday.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Director-writer: Wes Anderson
Writer: Hugo Guinness
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Jude Law, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Tony Revolori
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Anderson’s latest film opens nearly two years after his last film, Moonrise Kingdom. That proved to be an opening-weekend powerhouse, smashing the screen average when Focus Features bowed the title in four theaters at the end of May 2012, grossing a whopping $523K for a dazzling $130,749 average. It went on to gross more than $45.5 million in the U.S. (Anderson’s The Royal Tennenbaums remains his biggest box office grosser to date in theaters, taking in more than $52.3M domestically in 2001. Budapest, the Berlin Film Festival opener, reunites some cast from Moonrise including Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and Edward Norton. It centers on the adventures of Gustav H (Ralph Fiennes), a legendary concierge at a famous Eastern European hotel between the wars, and Zero, a lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. Budapest has already launched to strong numbers in France where it grossed nearly $2.8M its opening weekend in 172 theaters for a strong $16,220 average, becoming his biggest opening ever in the country.
Veteran TV producer Betsy Schechter has launched Storyville Entertainment, a full-service New York-based production company that will create content for TV, film, branded and multimedia outlets. Schechter, whose credits include producing A&E’s Paranormal State and the syndie dating show Shipmates, will serve as president of the new shingle, which already is in production on a music-based documentary series for MTV International and in development on nonscripted and scripted projects for A&E, TNT, H2, MTV International, Animal Planet and National Geographic. It also is collaborating on a scripted series with Paranormal Activity producer Jason Blum. Caroline Christopher, formerly director of development for National Geographic Television and among those who helped launch Peacock Productions, has been hired as VP Development and Production. She will oversee Storyville’s development team, creating nonfiction series, specials and branded content. “Storyville serves as a hub for creativity regardless of the genre and platform, everything from non-fiction to scripted to digital to reality,” said Schechter. “What matters most and what will define our projects is that at the core are solid characters and great storytelling with a distinct point of view.”
The Tribeca Film Festival continues to roll out its lineup for this year’s 13th edition, which kicks off April 16. Here is the program slates for the Spotlight, Midnight, Special Screenings and Storyscapes sections. The fest’s shorts program will be unveiled Tuesday. Here are today’s films, which include Spotlight spots for Roman Polanksi’s Venus In Fur, the Robin Williams-starrer Boulevard from Dito Montiel, world premieres of films directed by actors Chris Messina and Courteney Cox, and of course the horror comedy Zombeavers:
Twelve-year-old David Mazouz, who played the young lead opposite Kiefer Sutherland in Touch, is taking on a lead role in another Fox drama series, the Batman prequel Gotham. He will play the iconic comic book character of Bruce Wayne who will grow up to become the Caped Crusader. Also cast in the project, based on DC characters from the Batman universe, is newcomer Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle and future Catwoman. Gotham explores the origin stories of Commissioner James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) as an idealistic rookie detective in Gotham City, along with Wayne and the villains who made Gotham City famous. The preteen Wayne is sentenced to a solitary life after the tragic murder of his wealthy parents and relies on the guidance and protection of Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) and Gordon.
Mazouz’s casting stems from a talent deal Fox inked with him following Touch‘s cancellation in May after two seasons. He was an early choice of WBTV for the role, and the studio stuck with him throughout the casting process. Rounding out the regular cast of Gotham is Bicondova as Selina Kyle, a teenage orphan, skilled street thief and pickpocket who is dangerous when cornered. Its hard not to notice the resemblance to Michelle Pfeiffer, probably the most memorable screen Catwoman. Mazouz is with Paradigm, Intellectual Artists Management and Jackoway Tyerman; Bicondova …
Bryan Singer directed the pilot for David Shore‘s hit Fox medical drama series House, which the two executive produced for its entire eight-season run. Now they are reuniting on Shore’s follow-up series, CBS‘ Battle Creek. The straight-to-series project, written by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and Shore, centers on Detective Russ Agnew (Dean Winters) and FBI agent Milton Chamberlain, who have different worldviews but are teamed up to clean up the semi-mean streets of Battle Creek, MI. Gilligan, who created Battle Creek several years ago, and Shore, who will serve as showrunner, will executive produce with Singer and Mark Johnson. Jason Taylor of Singer’s banner Bad Hat Harry will serve as a producer alongside Erin Gunn of Shore’s Shore Z. Singer is the second House alum to join Battle Creek, along with co-star Kal Penn. This is the second straight-to-series drama WME-repped Singer is executive producing; he also serves in the same capacity on ABC’s upcoming Black Box. On the feature side, he is putting final touches on his third X-Men movie, X-Men: Days Of Future Past.
Related: 2014 CBS Pilots
Here we are again after the Golden Globes, Mike Fleming and Anita Busch taking on the task of play by play during the most wide-open Oscar race we can remember. Even on the party circuit, industry insiders who usually have a grasp of who’ll walk away with Oscars were evenly torn between Alfonso Cuaron’s 3D masterpiece Gravity and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave. Then again, there were so many terrific films that got Best Picture nominations, and all of them have at least a puncher’s chance at an upset.
That includes American Hustle, where David O Russell co-wrote the Best Original Script nominee with Eric Warren Singer and got tour de force performances and nominations for Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Perfs so strong there was no room on the nomination roster for perennial Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner. The film is up for 10 awards, and has grossed over $240 million on a $40 million budget.
Then there is The Wolf Of Wall Street, with Leonardo DiCaprio giving the most emphatic and complete performance of a great career, and Jonah Hill right there with him as his crazy con man sidekick. The film is up for five nominations, including Martin Scorsese for directing a terrific adaptation from The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire vet Terence Winter.
OSCARS: Pete Hammond’s Absolute FINAL Predictions In Every Category In One Of The Most Competitive Races Ever
This column originally ran Thursday.
With no real clarity from the usually reliable guild contests and critics awards, the best picture race is one of the most unpredictable in years. Considering the preferential Oscar voting system, it is not probable there will be a winner on the first ballot because it’s unlikely any film in this great year for films will be able to muster more than 50% of the first-place votes required. The second choice on those best picture ballots could end up being the most important. The top three contenders—12 Years A Slave, American Hustle and Gravity—are in a real dog fight, which means a dark horse like The Wolf Of Wall Street, Philomena, Dallas Buyers Club or Nebraska could sneak in if a true three-way split occurs, although I don’t think that scenario is too likely. Never say never though. In 1981 for example no one was expecting a small British film called Chariots Of Fire to sneak in and take Best Picture but indeed it did. The last huge upset in the Picture race was probably Crash over Brokeback Mountain in 2005 but judging from voter interviews that year I saw a tidal wave of last minute support. This year I don’t get that. There are lots of opinions out there and it looks like …
Indie Spirit Awards: ‘12 Years A Slave’ Takes Best Feature And Dominates With Five Wins; McConaughey & Blanchett Top Actors
UPDATED WITH ALL WINNERS AND REACTIONS: The 29th annual Independent Spirit Awards ended up more like a cast party for Fox Searchlight’s 12 Years A Slave, which won five of the seven categories for which it was nominated today — including Best Feature and Best Director for Steve McQueen. The strong showing for the slave drama gives the pic plenty of momentum headed into tomorrow night’s Oscars, the marquee event in a long awards season in which 12 Years has been one of many films ebbing and flowing buzz-wise along with Warner Bros’ Gravity ahead of what’s being called one of the more wide-open Academy Awards in a long while.
Dede Gardner, a producer on the pic with her Plan B partner Brad Pitt, thanked the many people involved in making the movie (including Pitt for “getting the movie made when he said he would”). She also thanked the descendants of the film’s subject Solomon Northup. “It’s a reminder to care-take our freedom,” she said.
With most of the big studio pics in the Oscar Best Picture race sitting it out today with the focus on indie fare under a tent on the beach in mostly rain-free Santa Monica, it allowed others to shine. Dallas Buyers’ Club‘s acting duo of Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won Best Male Lead and Supporting Male, respectively. Cate Blanchett continued her hot streak winning Best Lead Female for Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, making her a solid favorite to win tomorrow night. Lupita Nyong’o won Best Supporting Female for 12 Years. That pic rounded out its wins with a Best Screenplay nod for John Ridley and Best Cinematography for Sean Bobbitt.
The Weinstein Company also had a good day during the ceremony, hosted by Patton Oswalt. Best Documentary went to the distrib’s 20 Feet From Stardom, whose subjects performed today, and Best First Feature went to writer-director Ryan Coogler for Fruitvale Station, which started its fruitful awards-season at Sundance 2012 when TWC acquired it for $2 million.
Oswalt presided over one of the most memorable parts of the show, when a black drone flew in and delivered the scroll announcing Nyong’o's win. Later, after Blue Is The Warmest Color won Best International Film, Oswalt came back out onstage covered in blood. ”Don’t touch the drone,” he quipped.
The weather, such an issue during the blustery and wet 2011 Spirit Awards, held for most of the day, with rain beginning to fall just as Blanchett reached backstage after her acceptance speech. ”There’s a storm coming,” she said to the press. “It was nice knowing you all in case we’re swept away.”
The Spirit Awards will be shown tonight at 10 PM ET/PT on IFC. But here’s how the day went down, with on-scene coverage by Deadline’s Pete Hammond, Dominic Patten and Anthony D’Alessandro and contributor Diane Haithman.
In this week’s podcast, Deadline Executive Editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom look at the many implications of Netflix’s big, big deal with Comcast to ensure better video quality of its shows streamed by their mutual customers. The deal could affect the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, net neutrality issues, the business of online video and much more, and likely will serve as a template for other content-quality deals to come. They also take a peek at a multimillion-dollar production-incentive package that persuaded Disney to shoot a Netflix-only Marvel series in New York City and preview another interesting Disney online-content venture, this one involving live streaming online of this weekend’s Oscar telecast on ABC.
César Awards: ‘Les Garçons Et Guillaume, A Table!’ Wins Best Film, Actor & Other Key Prizes; ‘Blue Is The Warmest Color’ Nearly Shut Out In Surprising Ceremony
UPDATE, 3:00 PM PT: This was a big night for Guillaume Gallienne’s Les Garçons Et Guillaume, A Table! The Gaumont-backed comedy led the night with 10 nominations coming in and picked up five key prizes: Best Film, Best Debut Feature, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing. It was heavily favored, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a bunch of surprises in the mix. Blue Is The Warmest Color walked away nearly empty-handed, taking only the Best Female Newcomer prize for Adèle Exarchopoulos. On accepting, she thanked director Abdellatif Kechiche, who was not present at the ceremony. She also called co-star Léa Seydoux, “My most beautiful love story… on film.” Seydoux ultimately lost out on the Best Actress trophy to 9 Mois Ferme‘s Sandrine Kiberlain. That film won one other prize, for director and co-star Albert Dupontel’s original screenplay. Also notable is Roman Polanski‘s win as Best Director for Venus In Fur. The helmer was visibly surprised, “I really, really didn’t expect this,” he said in his very concise thank yous.
Gallienne’s Les Garçons is a virtual one-man show that also stars and is written by the director. In the autobiographical coming-of-age tale, he plays the two lead roles — himself and his mother, a woman for whom his love is boundless and by whom he has always …
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘The Bag Man’, ‘Repentance’, ‘Stalingrad’, ‘The Lunchbox’, ‘Fatal Assistance’
Big Sony is opening Russian epic Stalingrad in a record number of IMAX theaters this weekend. The roll out may be a watershed for Russian filmmaking in the U.S. and it marks another blending of “specialty” and “Hollywood” though that isn’t really new as the grey areas have mounted for years. Hollywood’s biggest stars have long had indies intervals between studio cash cows. Cinedigm will open The Bag Man with Robert De Niro and John Cusack theatrically, while the Universal acquisition will remain with the studio’s non-theatrical lineup. Lionsgate/Codeblack will bow Repentance with Anthony Mackie and Forest Whitaker in over 150 theaters, targeting its primarily African-American audience. On the traditional end, Sony Classics will platform Cannes debut The Lunchbox this weekend, while Velvet Films will open an exclusive engagement at Film Society of Lincoln Center for Raoul Peck’s Fatal Assistance.
The Bag Man
Director-writer: David Grovic
Writers: Paul Conway, James Russo, Marie-Louise von Franz (inspired by her short story, The Cat)
Cast: John Cusack, Rebecca Da Costa, Robert De Niro, Crispin Glover, Dominic Purcell
First-time feature filmmaker David Grovic landed quite a cast for his crime thriller The Bag Man. Starring John Cusack, Rebecca Da Costa and Robert De Niro, the title centers on a criminal who bides his time at a seedy motel, waiting for his boss after killing several men and making away with a mystery bag. “We were incredibly fortunate to get essentially first choices in all the roles,” said Grovic. “Unless you’re a studio paying huge money, I think the only way you can get this quality of cast is by making it a passion project.” Grovic said that the cast responded to the script’s non-stereotypical traits including De Niro’s hair and eccentric dialog as well as Da Costa’s wonder woman outfit for starters.
Looks like CEO Josh Sapan‘s comments to analysts addressed whatever concerns investors had about AMC Networks’ mixed Q4 earnings report this morning. The company’s stock price opened slightly down but quickly, and steadily, appreciated throughout the morning: It closed +6% at $73.75 after touching $74.22, passing the previous all-time high, on November 6, of $73.39. AMC Networks‘ Q4 report startled some company watchers with its $52M charge for losses tied to the cancellation of Low Winter Sun and The Killing. The charge “was obviously worse than what we modeled and could include more than just these two shows,” MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson says. There was also some concern that it might indicate problems that could affect AMC’s upcoming series Turn and Halt & Catch Fire. Sapan wouldn’t give analysts specific metrics for assessing the performances of these shows and, in November, the Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul. While “they’re all well-done shows,” the CEO said, “they’re all reasonably pretty expensive….There is no big bargain among them.” Investors apparently decided to give AMC the benefit of the doubt. “The optimistic case says they cleaned house, got all the bad news out of the way,” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger observed. “There can’t be much risk left on the balance sheet after wiping out ~5% of the inventory.”
Sony Sets ’50/50′ Team For Chess Drama ‘Brooklyn Castle; One Of Three Pics For Scott Rudin And Seth Rogen’s Point Grey
EXCLUSIVE: Scott Rudin Productions’ Scott Rudin and Eli Bush and Point Grey’s Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and James Weaver have together set up a trio of feature collaborations. Two of the films are based on documentaries and will be made for Sony, where Rudin has his deal. All three will be produced by Rudin and Eli Bush along the the Point Grey trio.
Sony Pictures has just set 50/50 writer Will Reiser and that film’s director Jonathan Levine to craft a feature from Brooklyn Castle, based on the Katie Dellamaggiore-directed docu about the trials and tribulations of the junior unbeatable champion chess team at I.S. 318. That’s an inner-city junior high school where more than 65% of students come from homes with incomes below the federal poverty level and where budget cuts threaten to derail its chessboard dominance. The docu won the Audience Award at SXSW, and it was around the time that Rudin first acquired the remake rights. Rogen starred for Levine in the touching cancer scare drama/comedy 50/50, and he and Goldberg produced the film. Reiser’s repped by UTA and Thruline, Levine by CAA.
Rudin Productions and Point Grey have also set Console Wars at Sony, a film about the battle for video game dominance between Sega and Nintendo in the 1990s that Rogen and Goldberg …
2ND UPDATE, 10:59 AM: So maybe no one told Lisa Kudrow that the legal system could be this way, but she’s not done with her Friends residuals battle with former manager Scott Howard yet. “The jury’s verdict is merely one step in the legal process,” Kudrow’s lawyer Gerald Sauer told me today about the roughly $1.6 million decision in Howard’s favor this morning. “This case ultimately will be resolved at the appellate level. Ms. Kudrow has faith in the judicial system, and she believes that the eventual outcome of this contractual dispute will be in her favor.” At least we know Sauer will be there for Kudrow.
UPDATE 12:08 PM: If Kudrow does aim to appeal, Howard’s lead attorney says bring it on. “What generally happens now with unsophisticated actress clients is they overpay for filing a frivolous appeal that has no chance for success,” said Mark Baute to me today. “The verdict is rock solid, and we look forward to collecting 10 percent, $16,000 a month, in post-judgment interest while their frivolous appeal is pending. We will collect that interest for two years, which is how long it will take for the Court of Appeal to affirm this jury’s righteous verdict.”
R.I.P. Harold Ramis — ‘Ghostbusters,’ ‘Groundhog Day’ Comedy Veteran Was 69; President Obama, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Ivan Reitman, Billy Crystal & More Remember Him
4TH UPDATE, 7:38 AM: Fellow Chicago native President Obama released a statement today in tribute to Ramis:
Michelle and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Harold Ramis, one of America’s greatest satirists, and like so many other comedic geniuses, a proud product of Chicago’s Second City. When we watched his movies – from “Animal House” and “Caddyshack” to “Ghostbusters” and “Groundhog Day” – we didn’t just laugh until it hurt. We questioned authority. We identified with the outsider. We rooted for the underdog. And through it all, we never lost our faith in happy endings. Our thoughts and prayers are with Harold’s wife, Erica, his children and grandchildren, and all those who loved him, who quote his work with abandon, and who hope that he received total consciousness.
3RD UPDATE, MONDAY, 3:25 PM: Reactions to the passing of influential comedy helmer and actor Harold Ramis continue to roll in.
Chevy Chase on Ramis, who directed him in the classic comedies Caddyshack and Vacation: “I’m shocked and heartbroken to hear of Harold’s passing. He was truly a great friend and a great man who shunned unnecessary Hollywood-type publicity and lived with a wonderful wife, Erica. I’m deeply saddened for Erica, Violet, Julian and Daniel. Harold directed me in Caddyshack and the first Vacation. It was Harold who acted out and gave me the inspiration for the character of Clark Griswold. I was really copying Harold’s impression of Clark. He was a truly funny and highly intelligent man with great honesty and a great appreciation for the best kind of comedy. It’s just awful to lose Harold, there is just no one like him, he was so kind, so caring and so smart. God Bless him and God Bless his family.”
“Harold Ramis and I together did The National Lampoon Show off-Broadway, Meatballs, Stripes, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day. He earned his keep on this planet. God bless him,” said Bill Murray in a statement via Reuters.
OSCARS: Producers Craig Zadan & Neil Meron Play It Safer This Year With Star-Studded Show Led By Ellen
Some people were surprised when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invited 2013 Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron back to run the 2014 telecast. After all, that was the Seth MacFarlane-hosted show that caused controversy (“We Saw Your Boobs,” anyone?). You have to wonder what he might have done with 12 Years A Slave or The Wolf Of Wall Street this year! The reviews, though, were mixed to negative (I actually liked the attitude MacFarlane brought — different), with critics saying the show had too many musical segments and a James Bond tribute that, other than Shirley Bassey’s rendition of “Goldfinger,” fell flat. But it scored well in the ratings and actually added a lot of previously missing young males to the typically female-driven viewing demographic. Zadan and Meron return this year in triumph after single-handedly reviving the live Broadway musical The Sound Of Music with their smash-hit version that starred Carrie Underwood and aired on NBC in December. Critics balked at that, too, but who’s laughing now? (Peter Pan is the next live musical they will do for NBC). Perhaps in a bid for more universal appeal, the producers are bringing back past Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres for what promises to be a much safer, more female-friendly telecast. Ellen is, well, Ellen, and very likable, so you know what you’re getting. The ABC …