The inaugural Dream Factory event that wrapped up in Liverpool yesterday at the International Festival of Business 2014 has already brought a new project to the city. UK-based Red Union Films, Pinewood Pictures, and international distributor and financier IM Global have announced plans to co-produce eight-part crime thriller The Killing Pool. Set in Liverpool, the project is based on the novel by Kevin Sampson (Awaydays, Powder). The first in the series was published in March 2013 and features drug surveillance specialist DCI Billy McCartney as he unpeels the layers of an intercontinental heroin-dealing dynasty, forcing him to confront his ultimate nemesis. Production is set to start in early 2015.
IM Global founder and CEO Stuart Ford and Sampson are both Liverpudlians who curated the two-day Dream Factory feature film festival in partnership with UK talent management firm Independent. The event was designed to showcase local opportunities and welcomed such speakers as Mike Hodges and Mike Newell. Sampson said bringing “this caliber of production to our home city gives Stuart and myself an added buzz. Baltimore, Copenhagen, Louisiana, Malmo — now Liverpool Noir is set to make its mark.” (The book’s title is a reference to “The Killing Moon,” a song by Merseyside band Echo and the Bunnymen.)
This is a first step towards TV series production for IM Global and is part of a growing trend that sees film companies get in on the lucrative business. … Read More »
Fans hoping to catch footage from Star Wars: Episode VII or autographs from its casts will have to wait. Director J.J. Abrams and the Episode VII cast, who are knee-deep in production over at Pinewood Studios in London, will not be heading to San Diego’s Comic-Con this month sources close to the production and at Comic-Con told Deadline. Instead, Star Wars fans at Comic-Con can elbow their way into the Disney XD’s panel for its animated Star Wars Rebels series on Thursday, July 24 from 6-7 PM in Room 6BCF. Executive producers Dave Filoni and Simon Kinberg along with actors Freddie Prinze Jr. (Kanan), Steve Blum (Zeb), Taylor Gray (Ezra), Tiya Sircar (Sabine) and Vanessa Marshall (Hera) will be on hand showing exclusive content.
This is the second no-show for Episode VII since Disney’s D23 last August, when fans were expecting any type of announcement (final cast was announced back in April). Most of the buzz for Episode VII has been mounted online with TMZ posting photos from the Tatooine set in June as well as Abrams’ @bad_robot Twitter feed. Two days ago a photo was tweeted out (see below) of the new IMAX cameras being used to shoot the film … the photo gave a sneak peek of the camera shooting footage over the Tatooine dunes.
Some tidbits, none that earth-shattering, have trailed out of the Star Wars production, as they’ve scheduled a two-week break in August and added two newbies to the cast. The Lucasfilm/Disney production of Star Wars Episode VII picked the two actors after an open casting call across 11 U.S. and U.K. cities that garnered (as you can imagine) almost 70,000 applicants. The two-week hiatus in August was called as a result of schedule adjustments after star Harrison Ford broke his ankle last month. We’re told that Ford, who is undergoing physical therapy for the next few weeks, has been recovering well and is expecting to return to the set soon.
After wrapping on-location filming in Abu Dhabi in May, principal photography continues at Pinewood Studios in London. LucasFilm said that the production remains on schedule, even with the hiatus, and should wrap in the fall in time for the Dec. 18, 2015 release. Read More »
With Oscar season still off in the distance, the Weinstein Company has found another way to make headlines. The film-focused company is looking at spinning off its television unit as a separate entity for a potential sale or IPO, The New York Times reports. The paper cited sources as saying Harvey Weinstein is seeking a cash infusion in order to expand with one or more TV channels. The company launched its small-screen unit in 2011 with Meryl Poster, who worked at Miramax for 16 years, at the helm. NYT cited sources as saying the television unit accounts for about 40 percent of the company’s business. TWC produces more than 20 reality series including Bravo’s long-running Project Runway and its spinoffs, VH1′s Mob Wives and A&E’s Cement Heads. Lifetime last month ordered eight episodes of Threads, which The Weinstein Company is producing with Full Picture and Sara Rea Productions. Bob and Harvey Weinstein are among its exec producers. The TV unit is moving into the scripted arena with Marco Polo, a nine-episode Netflix limited series that’s filming at the new Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios for a late-2014 premiere.
Related: Harvey Weinstein Tells LA Film Czar California Is Still Competitive
On the heels of news that Pinewood Studios has received a greenlight for its expansion plans, Warner Bros Studios Leavesden is also getting ready to grow, adding three new stages and increasing office space. The studios, also known as the home of Harry Potter, were opened in 2012 after Warner invested more than £100M to rebuild and expand the London-adjacent facility to serve as its UK base. It has since played host to such films as Doug Liman’s Edge Of Tomorrow, Ron Howard’s Heart Of The Sea, and Guy Ritchie’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. It’s now adding to its roster David Yates’ Tarzan with Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Samuel L Jackson and Christoph Waltz. The film started production today at Leavesden, joining Joe Wright’s Pan which has been filming there since April.
To meet the constantly increasing need for space in the UK where foreign productions are being lured in droves by lucrative film and TV tax credits, Leavesden will add one new 35,000 square foot and two new 17,000 square foot buildings, as well as 20,000 square feet of adjacent office space. The work will be completed by the end of the year. At that point, the facility will have 13 sound stages. A further two buildings located next to the lot have also been acquired to grow the production office space by 105,000 square feet. Earlier this year, the studio added an extra 50,000 square feet of workshop space, a 62,500 square foot external … Read More »
It’s taken a fair few years, but Pinewood Studios now finally has the greenlight to grow. That’s welcome news at a time when the UK is bursting with film and TV series jockeying for stage space and tax breaks. The UK’s Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government today offered his positive decision on the Pinewood Studios Development Framework which will double the existing facility in South Buckinghamshire. The studio is currently host to Star Wars: Episode VII and is awaiting the next James Bond movie. In total, 100,000 square meters of new studios, stages, workshops and production offices will be added. CEO Ivan Dunleavy recently told me that if the expansion permission was granted, Pinewood would “hope to have the first phase under construction in the first year.” Today he said, “We want to begin construction as soon as possible.”
Related: Pinewood Earnings Grow Amid UK Studio Capacity Crunch; Whither Expansion?
Pinewood has been ready for this expansion for some time, but it’s been a tough road getting here. The studio originally applied for permission to grow back in 2011 and was rejected in early 2012. The local council took issue with part of the original plan that included building residences on adjacent greenbelt land. The residential aspect was removed from the proposal and Pinewood resubmitted the plans. But they were again rejected in May 2013. A public inquiry … Read More »
Pinewood Studios is today confirming its ambitious offshore strategy with the official launch of Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios. Already open for a handful of months, the studio is currently hosting The Weinstein Co. and Netflix series Marco Polo. Pinewood CEO Ivan Dunleavy tells me, “You have a UK studio in Malaysia with Weinstein the production company and Netflix the distribution platform – I think that says it all about the new world.”
Along with Malaysia, the Pinewood family now includes the flagship South Buckinghamshire location, nearby Shepperton Studios, and outlets in the Dominican Republic, Toronto, Berlin and Atlanta — where Marvel’s Ant Man is colonizing. The group is also advising Wanda Dalian on a new film and TV studio complex, Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis, which is expected to open in 2016. Read More »
Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne confirmed on Tuesday night that the UK’s relationship with Star Wars will continue. The MP was at Pinewood – where JJ Abrams’ Episode VII moved onto soundstages about 10 days ago – and tweeted, “On set of Episode VII tonight, can announce another #StarWars film will be made in UK. A #LongTermEconomicPlan in a galaxy far far away.” The Conservative politician caught a lot of flack on Twitter for the latter remark, but by and large the Star Wars movies, and other big Hollywood projects, are bringing a flood of money into the UK which has very lucrative film tax breaks. The currently filming Episode VII is due for release on December 18, 2015 and the standalone Star Wars Osborne referred to last night will also be shot next year. The spinoff is being directed by Gareth Edwards. Per local reports, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid added last night, “Given Lucasfilm’s decision to film another Star Wars movie in the UK, it is clear that the Force is strong here.” Read More »
Highlights: Edge Of Tomorrow (WB) loops $81M in 2nd frame for $111M overseas cume; Maleficent (DIS) spells another $61.7M; X-Men: Days Of Future Past (FOX) adds $41.1M, helps studio over $1.5B GBO mark; The Fault In Our Stars (FOX) twinkles with $16.5M in 17 markets; 22 Jump Street (SONY) uncovers $8.2M; Godzilla‘s cume is now $208.2 … MORE
FINAL UPDATE, 7:30 PM PST: Grosses for the last film of the weekend, Godzilla, have been added below. All numbers final.
2nd UPDATE, 4:52 PM PST: Grosses are in on everything but Godzilla as we are still waiting to hear from Warner Bros. However, they did report for the Tom Cruise sci-fi film Edge of Tomorrow. So, we have updated grosses for every other film but the Big Lizard, including Fox’s The Fault In Our Stars, Sony’s 22 Jump Street, Fox franchise X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Sony’s franchise player The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Uni’s ill-fated domestic comedy A Million Ways To Die In The West and their comedy success Neighbors, as well as Babysitting, Spanish Affairs, Her (which Uni is handling in South Korea), Fox’s The Other Woman and just got numbers in for Richard Linklater’s Boyhood which was a favorite at the Berlin Film Festival this year and has been winning awards at festivals Stateside, too. Uni is handling. All Final updated international numbers are below: Read More »
UPDATE, FRIDAY 10:20 AM: After bowing in a handful of territories on Wednesday, Angelina Jolie-starrer Maleficent expanded on Thursday to a total 35 markets including Russia, Germany, Korea, Brazil and Australia. Along with the UK, France, Italy and others which got the Disney movie on Wednesday, the total two-day overseas take is $20.1M. In the UK on Wednesday, Jolie had her best-ever opening at $2.5M (with Thursday added in, the UK now stands at $4.6M). Thursday’s $2.1M Germany opening was likewise a milestone for the actress who’s been absent from live-action movies since 2010. Russia opened to $2.4M on Thursday and France was a big No. 1 among new openers with $2.1M on Wednesday. Spain and Mexico open today with some smaller territories that will make for a total of 47 through the weekend. There will be numbers galore in the next few days as international rollouts also begin on Tom Cruise-starrer Edge Of Tomorrow and Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways To Die In The West.
PREVIOUS, THURSDAY 10:23 AM PT: Disney’s Maleficent is off to a strong start internationally. The Angelina Jolie starrer brought in $2.5M yesterday in the UK and Ireland, which the studio says was above expectations. The twist on the Sleeping Beauty tale largely shot in the UK, at London-adjacent Pinewood Studios, and also stars Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Sam Riley. The UK bow surpassed the first … Read More »
This weekend’s slate of new specialty films runs the gamut. Among the newcomers are examples of classical art house fare that have picked up accolades ahead of their release, while others are less traditional. Searchlight will open Belle, about a mixed-race woman who grew up amidst Britain’s aristocracy. Music Box Films is releasing Ida, a winner in Toronto and London about a woman who discovers her roots. First Run Features is bowing the documentary More Than The Rainbow, which hopes to capitalize on positive box office for docus about photography, while Gravitas is opening Bad Johnson, about a good-looking lad who is a hit with the ladies but gets into trouble when his appendage takes on human form no less.
Director: Amma Asante
Writer: Misan Sagay
Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson, James Norton, Miranda Richardson, Sarah Gadon
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
The roots of Belle begin around 2005 after producer Damian Jones came across a story that eventually would be at the center of Belle. Set in 18th century England, the film was inspired by a painting commissioned by the Earl of Mansfield. The story centers on an illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy admiral who is raised by her aristocratic great-uncle. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: While the second unit crew shooting Everest were in the vicinity when a tragic avalanche struck Mount Everest and so far has killed 13, there were no injuries or fatalities on the film, I can report. Principal photography on the Baltasar Kormakur-directed film is nearly over and they are finishing in Pinewood in England, but the second unit was setting up to go and shoot at Base 2 on Mount Everest near Nepal. Fortunately for the crew, they were acclimating at the foot of the summit and weren’t up where the disaster took place, when a wall of ice 1,000 feet up fell off at the left shoulder of the mountain and crashed down on Base 2. Most of the fatalities were experienced sherpas that guide climbers to the summit. Several of the sherpas involved with the Everest production rushed to help. The production will now have to wait to assess whether a trek back up the mountain to finish shooting is feasible.
The guides were carrying equipment and supplies to camps for climbers getting ready for peak trekking season — including those preparing to participate in Discovery Channel‘s Everest Jump Live, produced by NBC News Peacock Prods. Seven NBC News staffers on site are accounted for and unharmed, and Discovery said it has not had conversations as to how the disaster might impact the event’s scheduled May 11 air date. Read More »
The streaming service has put together a decidedly international cast for its upcoming drama about the legendary 13th century traveler. Italian actor Lorenzo Richelmy stars as the title character in Marco Polo, which has begun filming in Venice before moving on to Kazakhstan and the new Pinewood Studios in Malaysia. Richelmy starred in the Italian dramedy Terra e vento and has appeared in other films including Fat Cat and Terzo tempo. The cast also includes England’s Benedict Wong (Prometheus), China’s Zhu Zhu (Cloud Atlas), Hong Kong-born and London-raised Tom Wu (Skyfall), Aussie Remy Hii (Treading Water) and Washington, D.C. native Rick Yune (Olympus Has Fallen). Creator John Fusco and Harvey Weinstein are executive producing the Weinstein Co. drama, which received a 10-episode straight-to-series order in January. Kon-Tiki helmers Joachim Ronning & Espen Sandberg are directing the first two episodes. Dan Minahan is exec producing and also directing two episodes. The series is set in China during the 1200s — a world replete with astonishing martial arts, sexual intrigue, political skullduggery and spectacular battles. Netflix plans to debut Marco Polo late this year.
Related: ‘Marco Polo’ Crew Mourns Ju Kun; Asst Martial Arts Choreographer Is Among Missing On Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Sam Worthington and House Of Cards’ Robin Wright to the ensemble cast of Everest. They join Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Jake Gyllenhaal, Martin Henderson, Emily Watson and Thomas Wright in the Baltasar Kormakur-directed true saga of a disastrous attempt to scale the summit of the world’s highest mountain when they were hit by a fierce snowstorm near the top. Worthington will play Guy Cotter and Wright will play Beck Weather’s wife, Peach. Pic is shooting right now in Nepal on the base of Everest, as well as the Italian Dolomites and Cinecitta Studios in Rome and Pinewood Studios in the UK.
Universal will release the film September 18, 2015 and it’s a co-production between Universal, Working Title and Cross Creek Pictures, in association with Walden Media. Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing with Cross Creek’s Brian Oliver and Tyler Thompson, along with Kormakur and Nicky Kentish Barnes. Randall Emmett and George Furla are executive producing. The film was scripted by Children Of A Lesser God‘s Mark Medoff and Slumdog Millionaire‘s Simon Beaufoy. Universal’s Erik Baiers and Chloe Yellin are overseeing.
Worthington is repped by CAA, Anonymous Content’s Sandra Chang and Shanahan Management in Australia. Wright is repped by CAA, Michael Sugar of Anonymous Content and attorney Melanie Cook.
In a sign of the ongoing pull of the UK as a filming location, Disney Channel‘s new multi-part movie Evermoor is gearing up to shoot in Britain. Disney Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) has co-commissioned the longform live-action mystery/adventure/comedy with Disney U.S. It will air on Disney Channel in 160 global territories from the fall. Liverpool-based The Only Way Is Essex producer Lime Pictures, which is owned by All3Media, will make Evermoor for Disney. The story follows Tara Bailey, an American teen who is uprooted from her city home in the U.S. and brought to a beautiful but isolated village on the edge of some very creepy moors in middle England. As her famous novelist mom and step-dad are busy unpacking at Evermoor Manor, Tara, her brother, and her British step-siblings try to adjust to life in their new home. It’s not long before danger, mystery and intrigue unfurl.
Evermoor breaks new ground for Disney, becoming its first live-action movie produced in the UK for broadcast on Disney Channel in the U.S. But it’s no surprise such a Disney project would land in Britain. Already, the movie studio consistently films big features at Pinewood — including the next Star Wars installment later this year. And Marvel titles are regularly shot at Shepperton. But overall, new and expanded TV and film tax credits have made Hollywood sit up — and in some cases line up — to access the market which has a skilled crew base and great facilities. Read More »
UPDATE: Netflix and The Weinstein Company have just sent a statement regarding Ju Kun: “We are deeply saddened by the news about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370,” they said in a joint statement. “Ju Kun, who was on board, was an integral part of our production team and a tremendous talent. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.”
EARLIER: Among the passengers missing and believed to have perished on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is Ju Kun, the veteran martial arts expert and assistant martial arts choreographer on Marco Polo, the Netflix/The Weinstein Company series pilot that is scheduled to begin production in three weeks. The 35-year old stuntman had completed a day of training and choreography and made a quick trip from Pinewood Studios in Malaysia to his home in Beijing, which was why he boarded the flight that disappeared 35,000 feet over Vietnam. Read More »
After pretty much every name in Hollywood has been mentioned in connection with the new Star Wars movie being directed by JJ Abrams, we’re hearing that Girls star Adam Driver is actually, really truly in the mix to play the main villain in the franchise pic from Disney and Lucasfilm. Nothing is imminent, we’re told, which means the only casting that’s official so far remains R2-D2. The production has set up offices for Star Wars: Episode VII at the UK’s Pinewood studios ahead of its December 18, 2015 release date. Looks like our pals at Variety got to this one first.
Related: Best Box Office Ever? Biggest Hollywood Franchises In 2015 Collision Course
Pinewood Shepperton Inks Deal For New Studio In Wales
In a move that will bring much-needed new stages to the UK, has entered an agreement with the Welsh government for a new studio near Cardiff Bay. Under the deal, the Welsh government will acquire and fit out the former Energy Centre in Wentloog with the facility to be renamed Pinewood Studio Wales. Four stages will be built, which Pinewood will lease for a minimum of five years; it also will contribute £800,000 over the period to pay for equipment. This is good news for Britain, which has suffered from a capacity crunch as more and more Hollywood movies and TV shows come to shoot in the territory, accessing lucrative tax breaks. Pinewood has submitted proposals to expand its flagship studio outside London but has been thwarted by local government in the past two years. An appeal is pending. Also under the agreement, Pinewood Shepperton will advise on, promote and market Wales’ new £30M TV and film investment fund. Pinewood Shepperton CEO Ivan Dunleavy said the deal is “another step forward for creating a sustainable UK film and television production center.” Further, the fund arrangement “builds on our success with Pinewood Pictures and managing the Isle of Man Treasury Film and Television Fund. Our combined advisory investment funds now total £55 million making them one of the largest investment portals for new British television and film content.” Read More »
UPDATED WITH FULL LIST OF WINNERS AND REACTIONS: Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave rallied from a slow stat to win the Best Film award tonight at the 62nd BAFTA Film Awards in London. The slave drama from Fox Searchlight had 10 nominations but won just two awards, after Chiwetel Ejiofor took the Leading Actor prize for playing Solomon Northup. Despite the marquee victory in the last major kudofest before the Oscars, it still seemed as though the night belonged to Warner Bros’ Gravity. The space drama picked up a leading six wins from its 11 overall nominations, including for Outstanding British Film — which will keep the debate going about just how British the pic is. Alfonso Cuaron won Best Director and the pic cleaned up in the craft categories, taking Sound, Cinematography and Special Visual Effects in addition to a nod for Steven Price’s Original Score. The BAFTA crowd at the packed Royal Opera House in Covent Garden exploded with each win for the movie, which had a leading 11 nominations going into the night.
Related: BAFTA Shakes Up The Race But Everything Still In Play As Oscar’s Moment Of Truth Nears
Still, the 12 Years A Slave victory tonight maintains the film’s front-runner status going into the Oscars on March 2; the film also won the Golden Globe for Motion Picture-Drama. Many feel the Academy will lean the same way, honoring Gravity in the craft categories but not for the Best Picture. The two films have been going head to head all awards season, even scrapping to a rare tie in the PGA Awards contest. “It’s very important,” McQueen said backstage after the victory. “The way the public here — but not just here, in the U.S. — by going to see the picture, means a hell of a lot.” Added producer Brad Pitt: “This is an excuse for us to all get to gather and say job well done. We’re very proud of our work here, and it means a lot to us because of the people we got to work with.” Read More »