The stock is up about 4% in mid-afternoon trading after Piper Jaffray’s James Marsh raised his price target for Lionsgate this morning by 18.5% to $32 ahead of the studio’s financial report next week for the quarter that ended in March. The analyst says that investors may be impressed by DVD and VOD sales for Twilight, which he figures generated about $150M in revenues for the quarter. In addition The Impossible, a film about the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, “largely slipped under the radar,” grossing just $19M at domestic theaters but $154M overseas. He expects Lionsgate’s TV operation to impress with results from Mad Men, Anger Management, and Nashville. Looking ahead, Marsh says that he’s “comfortable that management will find a way to extend the Twilight franchise” while Hunger Games could could do better than expected “driven by international box office and high margin merchandising opportunities.” On Monday Stifel’s Benjamin Mogil also upped his price target, in his case by 16% to $29. He says Lionsgate is “tracking materially ahead” of its financial guidance.
With the market officially wrapped, the deal pace has slowed to a crawl and the focus turns back to the movies. That’s after a week of international sales on some key titles and a few high-profile domestic deals in an environment that nevertheless was marked by caution. Oftentimes as Cannes is about to start, there are splashy announcements of domestic pick-ups on fest-related movies and that helps set the pace. In 2011, The Weinstein Co. acquired The Artist before the curtain lifted. Last year, it grabbed The Sapphires and Sony Pictures Classics bought Susanne Bier’s Love Is All You Need on Day One. This year, there were no eve-of-the-fest acquisitions on titles that are in official selection (although Warner Bros. moved in on Ryan Gosling’s How To Catch A Monster which is currently shooting and Lionsgate arrived in town having taken the upcoming The Quiet Ones). Ultimately, U.S. buyers that I spoke with ahead of the fest said they would be opportunistic, but cautious. “Everyone goes in very carefully,” Sony Classics’ Tom Bernard told me. “There’s a lot of pushback in the ancillary areas so when you’re spending money, you have to spend it wisely.”
Foreign sellers say there’s a shift in the balance of key territories. China, Russia, Brazil, the Middle East and even India – which has such a massive local box office – are becoming “significant pieces of the puzzle.” Spain and Italy remain the places that make sellers misty given the economic crises there. Rai, however, did pick up The Gunman starring Sean Penn in what was a notable buy for the company. That movie virtually sold out for Studiocanal.
Robert Redford may not be eligible for any awards at Cannes this year where his new film, All Is Lost premiered to strong response out of competition on Wednesday night, but if the reaction on the Croisette was any indication, he could be headed for the Oscars. The film, in which Redford is the only actor playing a man stranded at sea when his sailboat springs a huge leak, is a tour de force for the star and it won a 9-minute standing ovation at its debut tonight. Even the return of the rain that has plagued this festival could not put a damper on the mood of the filmmakers, Universal International (releasing overseas) and Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions (releasing domestically on October 18th). It is clearly an awards season play, not only for Redford in a role unlike any he has played but also Oscar nominated writer/director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call) who proves his first film was no fluke and shows a remarkable ability to pull off this one-man show with real filmmaking skill.
Newbie distributor Vertical Entertainment has snapped up US rights to the Russian 3D animated pic produced by Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. The Snow Queen tells the tale of a little girl who embarks on a journey to save her brother from the evil witch who’s covered the world in ice. Maxim Sveshnikov and Vlad Barbe directed the pic from a script by Barbe and Vadim Sveshnikov. Yuri Moskvin, Vladimir Nikolaev, Olga Sinelshchikova, Sergey Rapoport, Alexander Ligay and Bekmambetov are producers. Already released in Ukraine, Brazil, South Korea, Israel, Turkey, UAE, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, The Snow Queen has a sequel in the works for Winter 2014. Peter Jarowey negotiated the deal with WME’s Deb McIntosh. Wizart Distribution’s is handling international sales at Cannes, where last week Vertical acquired rights to Josh Duhamel’s SXSW film Scenic Route.
Vince Vaughn is a slacker who learns he’s fathered over 500 children as a result of a sperm bank snafu. Ken Scott writes and directs the remake of his own 2011 French Canadian film Starbuck, with Chris Pratt and Cobie Smulders co-starring. Disney/DreamWorks release the comedy November 22 opposite Lionsgate’s franchise sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire so they’ve attempted to get buzz rolling with a new teaser trailer:
Cannes Briefs: ‘Pioneer’ Sales; Adopt Takes Harry Dean Stanton Docu; Howard J. Ford Boards ‘The Tank’; Lionsgate Breaks Record; Dignity Options ‘God Of Driving’
Arrow Films has acquired all UK rights on Norwegian thriller Pioneer. It’s also sold to Benelux, Japan and Korea. Magnolia previously picked up the film for the U.S. Erik Skjoldbærg, whose Insomnia was remade by Christopher Nolan, directs the film which stars Aksel Hennie, Wes Bentley, Stephen Lang, Stephanie Sigman and Jonathan LaPaglia. The high-octane conspiracy thriller is inspired by 70s classics The Conversation, Three Days Of The Condor and Chinatown. It will be released in Scandinavia in September. TrustNordisk handles international sales.
Adopt Films has acquired all U.S. rights to Swiss director Sophie Huber’s documentary Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction, which premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival and had its U.S. debut at SXSW. The look at the actor-singer incorporates informal musical interludes by Stanton, clips from his films, and reflections by friends and colleagues like David Lynch, Kris Kristofferson, Debbie Harry, and Sam Shepard. Christian Davi, Chiemi Karasawa, Christof Neracher and Thomas Thümena produced, Huber and DP Seamus McGarvey are exec producers. Adopt plans a fall U.S. release in time to qualify the pic for the Best Documentary Oscar.
Guillaume Canet’s English-language directorial debut Blood Ties is here in the official selection, out of competition. Lionsgate has taken U.S. distribution rights in what I hear is an over $2M deal, which is understood to be the biggest of the festival so far. The film will go out via Lionsgate sister company Roadside Attractions. Canet and James Gray wrote the script about two brothers, one a cop and one an ex-con. It’s based on the French film Les Liens Du Sang which starred Canet. He stayed behind the camera for this one with Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard, Domenick Lombardozzi, Mila Kunis, Matthias Schoenaerts, Zoé Saldana and James Caan starring. Lionsgate UK took rights for that territory last year.
Nashville became the only ABC freshman drama to get a renewal after spending most of the spring on the bubble. And now that Season 2 is a go, the show will undergo some changes. For now, they appear to be limited to the production/post-production areas. Line producer Loucas George, who ran the operation on the ground in Nashville, where the series is filmed, announced on Twitter shortly after the renewal 10 days ago that his contract had not been renewed. That also applies to his team, including production supervisor Don Bensko, as the new line producer is expected to bring in his/her crew.
Changes on Nashville were expected following a rocky freshman season, with the show going through growing pains and struggling with its creative direction as well as the ratings. I’ve reported accounts of tension between co-producers ABC Studios and Lionsgate and other behind-the-scene issues, including star Connie Britton being unhappy with the experience. In an editorial for The Santa Clarita News, Bensko’s wife Micaela, lamenting the decision not to pick up her husband’s option, spoke about “14-20 hour days with an unrelenting schedule due to issues beyond their control” and “a string of endless and exhausting shoot days” as “a string of delayed scripts and tripping storylines kept everyone on edge.” She also recounted an on-set accident, in which “one of our crew lost his footing while rigging for a huge arena …
Spike Jonze wrote and directed Her, which stars Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Samantha Morton and Olivia Wilde. The film is about a guy who falls in love with the voice of a computer, a la the iPhone’s Siri. Warner Bros will open the pic November 20, 2013 in limited release, two days before fellow specialty pic Nebraska from Alexander Payne and Paramount, Disney’s Delivery Man and of course Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Her has been percolating for a while, with Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures coming aboard to finance it in March 2011. Jonze’s last feature was 2009′s Where The Wild Things Are. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has international rights. Joining Jonze as producers on the film are Vincent Landay and Megan Ellison. Daniel Lupi and Ted Schipper will serve as executive producers.
Disney announced today that the release date for DreamWorks’ Wikileaks movie The Fifth Estate has moved to October 11, more than a month earlier than its initial November 15 date. And Delivery Man has moved to November 22 from its initial date of October 4. With the shift, Fifth Estate avoids Paramount’s The Wolf Of Wall Street, Fox’s thriller The Counselor and Universal’s comedy/drama The Best Man Holiday and faces Sony/Columbia’s drama Captain Phillips, Fox’s horror pic Haunts and Film District’s thriller Old Boy. Delivery Man now goes up against Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Paramount’s Nebraska.
The sun finally came back to a windy and rainy Cannes but the weather clearly couldn’t slow the nonstop parties, premieres, deals and hype for which this festival is famous. And despite the rain on Saturday the turnout for Lionsgate’s big Catching Fire bash was wall-to-wall at Baoli Beach, with everyone including star Jennifer Lawrence crowded into the large tent. One exec there actually was happy with the monsoon-like conditions. “The rain probably kept 30% of our RSVPs away which is probably good because i don’t know how we could have squeezed them in,” he said.
With everyone drying out Sunday there seemed to be even more party-hopping than usual. At the crowded Participant Films party at the Carlton, Focus Features CEO James Schamus was accepting congratulations on his re-upping at the company. I have rarely heard him wax more eloquently about a film than Focus’ recent pickup of The Dallas Buyers Club, the movie where Matthew McConaughey lost about 50 pounds to play an early AIDS victim. It’s not dated yet according to Schamus but is planned for fall sometime. “It’s just a bloodbath trying to pick the right date in that period but this movie is extraordinary. I just so admire what Matthew has been doing with his career in the last couple of years between Magic Mike, Killer Joe, The Paperboy, Mud and now this. You know me, I don’t rave like this a lot, but he really knocks this one out of the park. It is the performance of a lifetime,” he says of the actor in a film that is sure to be a main focus of Focus’ awards-season plans.
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
IFC Films‘ Frances Ha had the last laugh this weekend, opening solid in a pair of theaters each in New York and Los Angeles. The critically well-received feature directed by Noah Baumbach and starring Greta Gerwig grossed $134K, averaging $33,500. It came fairly close to his last feature, Greenberg, which averaged $39,384 when it opened in March 2010 in three locations. But that film, which also starred Gerwig, also included Ben Stiller, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Juno Temple. Frances Ha inched out Baumbach’s acclaimed 2005 Best Screenplay Oscar-nominated The Squid And The Whale in terms of first weekend PSA. That film opened in four runs, averaging $32,461. Frances Ha‘s fellow newcomers, however did not fare nearly as well.
EXCLUSIVE: Hours after it made its world premiere in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, the Jeremy Saulnier-directed Blue Ruin was acquired by Radius-TWC. Radius co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego bought North American rights, and plan to release the film theatrically this fall. (Watch a clip from the film here.) Saulnier, whose film is one of the few American offerings in the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar, here directs a story of a man who finds his quiet life upended by unwelcome news and subsequently sets off for his childhood home to carry out an act of revenge. Proving an improbable assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family. Blue Ruin was produced by Anish Savjani, Richard Peete and Vincent Savino.
Myriad Pictures has tapped Richard Loncraine to direct Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton in Life Itself, a comedy based on the Jill Ciment novel Heroic Measures. Charlie Peters wrote the screenplay, about a long-married NY couple who find themselves swept into an emotional and comical real estate bidding war when they put their beloved downtown apartment on the market — and must come to terms with the possibility of moving from the home where they have spent most of their adult lives. Freeman and Lori McCreary’s Revelations Entertainment will produce with Latitude Productions. McCreary, Curtis Burch, Peters and Tracy Mercer are producing, and Freeman will executive produce. Myriad’s Kirk D’Amico and David Ducar negotiated international sales rights to the film and the company is introducing the project at Cannes. Its slate here includes Emanuel And The Truth About Fishes starring Kaya Scodelario and Jessica Biel; The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Him And Her with Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy; Life Partners with Leighton Meester, Adam Brody, and Gillian Jacobs; and the Derek Martini-directed The Curse Of Downers Grove with Bella Heathcote, Lucas Till and Kevin Zegers. CAA and WME Global co-rep North American rights to Life Itself.
Danish director Thomas Vinterberg, whose The Hunt was in the Cannes competition last year, will make his studio-produced English-language helming debut with the adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel, Far From The Madding Crowd. The UK’s DNA Films is producing with Fox Searchlight, which confirms that Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts will star in the new take. They’ll play Bathsheba Everdine and Gabriel Oak in the story of the ill-fated passions of a willful young woman and her three suitors. Production is scheduled for this fall in the UK with Searchlight marketing and distributing for the world. A previous film version was directed by John Schlesinger in 1967 and starred Julie Christie, Terence Stamp, Peter Finch and Alan Bates (as Oak). Mulligan is in Cannes this week in support of The Great Gatsby and Inside Llewyn Davis. Schoenaerts was in Cannes last year with Rust And Bone and is here now with Blood Ties. They are both repped by CAA; Vinterberg is repped by ICM Partners.
Cannes Briefs: Radiant Films Goes ‘Wild’; Image Acquires ‘ ZoZo’; ‘November Man’ Firms Cast; ‘Heat’ Sales Hot; ‘Oh Boy’ & ‘Child’s Pose’; Spike Lee Finds ‘Gold;’ Image Feels Domestic ‘Shiver’; More
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Radiant Films International has acquired international rights to the comedy drama Wild. Written and directed by Vivienne DeCourcy, the movie stars Ella Greenwell and Tom Hughes. It tells the story of Mary Reynolds, a visionary young garden designer who puts everything on the line in order to compete in the Chelsea Flower show. Hughes stars as Christy, an idealistic environmentalist, whom Mary enlists to help her compete at the Chelsea, the Olympics of gardening. Wild is funded by Green Earth, the Irish Film Board, RTE and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. It will shoot in Ireland and Ethiopia over the coming months. Pic is produced by Treasure Entertainment and Crowe’s Nest in Ireland, together with Green Earth in the US. Rebecca O’Flanagan and Rob Walpole will produce from Treasure, with Sarah Johnson and Chloe Kassis Crowe exec-producing. Jay Cohen from the Gersh Agency is handling U.S. rights.
Michael Benaroya, Benaroya Pictures
Michael Benaroya is just 32-years-old but he says part of the success of his Benaroya Pictures is based on an “old-fashioned” value system. “If we shake hands, we’re doing a deal.” Benaroya produced two movies that debuted in Cannes last year, The Paperboy and Lawless, and this year had Kill Your Darlings in Sundance. He says a hallmark of the projects his company boards is that they are cast driven. Upcoming, he’s exec producing Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Toxic Avenger reboot; and producing Guy Pearce and Kristen Wiig in Hateship, Loveship and Felony with Joel Edgerton and Jai Courtney. Toxic Avenger along with the Clive Owen-starrer King Of The Castle and Stephen King adaptation Cell, are being sold here in Cannes by Benaroya’s new sales arm, IFT. That venture is a partnership with Miscellaneous Entertainment to sell the theatrical feature productions from their own banners as well as third-party titles. They’re starting with a $15M fund. Although he’s had “great and not great experiences” with sales companies, not being in control of an outside agency’s priorities is an issue. This is the first market for IFT and Benaroya says he’s in town to “see what the pulse is of what’s working.” He’s also here looking to make some deals. “At every market, sales companies take out projects that sell less than expected and then come back (to LA) and say, ‘Let’s go out to equity.’” For Benaroya, that’s an opportunity. “I usually get my hooks into something before it goes back to LA.”
Jason Blum, Blumhouse Productions
Blumhouse founder Jason Blum broke the mold with 2007’s micro-budget smash Paranormal Activity which went on to gross over $108M domestically and close to $200M global. When Paramount acquired the film and released it the studio way, Blum sparked to the hybrid system. “That’s a process I connect to and love: make a movie on your own and have a studio release it.” He’s since gone on to a first-look deal with Universal which is releasing Blumhouse’s The Purge from Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes on June 7 (Paramount releases the Paranormal sequels). Blum’s focus remains on movies made for under $5M that go out on over 2,000 screens to compete in the studio marketplace. ”I don’t chase things that don’t fall into our model and so far it works pretty well. I think it’s successful because we adhere to it.” The focus is firmly on genre like Insidious and Sinister because it fits best with the model and because it’s “what we are all truly passionate about. While we might find a good story in a different area that we think could work, it would be an exception.” Blum says micro-budgets empower filmmakers. “You get a lot more freedom with a $3M budget than a $200M budget.” He tells directors, “I can’t promise you a hit, but I can promise you will live or die on your own work.” Blum is also branching out with a new sales venture, Blumhouse International, to handle foreign on the company’s films. The division has a worldwide distribution and servicing deal with IM Global and the two are introducing the new outfit to buyers here in Cannes. Blumhouse’s upcoming releases include Insidious Chapter 2 via FilmDistrict, Paranormal Activity 5 via Paramount and Jessabelle via Lionsgate. Also in development are The Town That Dreaded Sundown with Ryan Murphy producing for MGM and the Duplass brothers’ Peach Fuzz. Blum is also a producer on the just announced feature version of Sundance Prize-winning short Whiplash.
Randall Emmett & George Furla, Emmett/Furla Films
Randall Emmett has made over 70 movies, but it’s the films of the last three years or so that reflect what he and partner George Furla have strived for. “George and I always wanted to make a certain caliber of film and as you work in the business, it takes time for agencies to trust you with filmmakers and talent.” The pair have their hands in films that include the upcoming 2 Guns with Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington; Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor; Baltasar Kormakur’s Everest and, notably, Martin Scorsese’s Silence. Emmett/Furla has raised “a few hundred million” in equity in the past few years which Emmett credits as one of the company’s strong suits. The funds are revolving and have no restrictions which allows them to make “much bigger films” and provides “the freedom to do stuff we couldn’t do before.” Universal is distributing Lone Survivor and 2 Guns and Emmett says they “really enjoy having a studio partner. You get high quality producers attached to the projects which has elevated” the films. He says that when he and Furla were making smaller movies they were “day-to-day” producers – on set and on location. But “when you move to the higher budget world of filmmaking you have to know what you do well… We’re definitely producers. We secure financing, pick a project to work with, assist in casting and locking budget. But we like to allow the filmmakers to do what they want to do.” The biggest challenge for Emmett remains finding a great script and “to have a great filmmaker and talent… And then you have to get really lucky with the right release date, then bet it all on the roulette wheel.” During this Cannes, Emmett says one of his major focuses is Scorsese who is coming to town to talk up Silence. And he just wants to be along for the ride. “I’m beyond excited, it’s a milestone for sure. We’re beside ourselves.”
Cannes Briefs: Williams Sisters Doc Sells In UK; David Lynch’s Duran Duran Movie; Zac Efron Takes ‘Autobahn’; ‘Vatican Tapes’ Records Sales
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UK distributor Kaleidoscope has picked up Maiken Baird and Michelle Major’s Venus & Serena from K5 International. The documentary follows the tennis-playing Williams sisters through a year of their lives. The film will get a release timed to the 2013 Wimbledon Championship in June. The BBC will also broadcast it this summer. The film is exec produced by Alex Gibney with music by Wyclef Jean. Magnolia is releasing in the U.S. this summer.
Duran Duran will be in town next week to headline Amfar’s 20th anniversary Cinema Against Aids benefit, and they’ve also got a movie screening in the market. Arclight Films, in collaboration with Little Studio Films, is selling international rights to Duran Duran Unstaged. The David Lynch-helmed concert film previously had a one-light live online stream on YouTube and Vevo but the special director’s cut has never before been released to the public.
EXCLUSIVE: A film about two abandoned and scared boys trying to survive in New York City has found a new home. Codeblack Films has picked up US distribution for The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete. The George Tillman Jr-directed film made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25. With 13-year-old Skylan Brooks as Mister and Ethan Dizon as 9-year-old Pete, Inevitable Defeat also stars Jeffrey Wright, Jordin Sparks, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Jennifer Hudson and Anthony Mackie. Michael Starrbury wrote the movie. Jana Edelbaum, Rachel Cohen, and Bob Teitel produced with Alicia Keys, Susan Lewis, Clay Floren, Aimee Shieh, Julio Depietro, Keith Kjarval, Mary Vernieu, and Amy Nauiokas executive producing. Inevitable Defeat was the debut of multiplatinum songstress Keys as a producer. Codeblack Films was launched by Lionsgate in May 2012 to develop and distribute films and other media for the urban market. The deal with the Lionsgate division was negotiated by CAA on behalf of the filmmakers with Marc Danon, Lionsgate’s VP Acquisitions & Business Development, and Jean Chi, SVP Business & Legal Affairs.