ITV Studios UK has moved quickly to fill the Managing Director post that will be vacated by Denise O’Donoghue at the end of 2014. Julian Bellamy, who is currently Discovery Networks International Creative Director and Head of Commissioning, will take over from O’Donoghue later this year, ITV said today. TV veteran O’Donoghue has been MD at ITV Studios UK for four years and will remain on the board of the country’s largest commercial production company after stepping down. Bellamy has spent three years at Discovery, running production and development across 200 countries, with commissioning teams in five international bases. Prior to DNI, he ran the UK’s Channel 4, managing over 2,000 hours of original programming per year including Undercover Boss, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and One Born Every Minute. He previously held executive posts at the BBC and E4. ITV Studios’ titles include Mr Selfridge, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Breathless and the upcoming Thunderbirds Are Go! The production arm of ITV is one of the biggest growth areas for the group, which has been on a U.S. and UK shopping spree in the past 18 months.
“Independent American films are largely considered anathema to foreign distributors these days,” says Jeff Lipsky. The distribution veteran, who’s also a John Cassavetes-mentored filmmaker, knows a thing or two about the indie business. He co-founded October Films with Bingham Ray in 1991, and is also a former executive at New Yorker Films, Samuel Goldwyn Films, and Skouras Pictures. In 2011, he launched Adopt Films with Tim Grady, which recently handled Oscar nominee Omar. As a director, Lipsky has made five movies, and is shooting a sixth this fall. Some of his own films have been in official selections at Sundance and San Sebastian, and seen U.S. releases, but none has ever been distributed internationally. And that’s why he’s taking things into his own hands, making three of them available via Vimeo On Demand worldwide as of May 1: Flannel Pajamas (2006), Twelve Thirty (2010) and Molly’s Theory Of Relativity (2013). Among the stars of those movies are Justin Kirk, Julianne Nicholson, Mamie Gummer, Jonathan Groff and Cady Huffman. Two of them also have actor Reed Birney in common with In Your Eyes, the micro-budget Tribeca title that writer and exec producer Joss Whedon just announced is going out worldwide via Vimeo. The timing was pure coincidence, Lipsky says as he sings the service’s praises. “There is great potential for indie filmmakers. It doesn’t require legal contracts, you can geoblock and call your own shots… It’s not rocket science.” (Post continues below)
He says Vimeo’s quality is the same as “any of the big boys.” Although a fan of Netflix and Amazon, Lipsky contends the “problem” with those services is that they are “fantastic for consumers, but little to no money can be realized by filmmakers or distributors.” Vimeo allows for an “instantaneous” revenue stream, which is “as it should be in this world we live in.” The split with the site is 90% to the rights holder and 10% to the service, Lipsky tells me. The only risk, he says, is that it’s “not the 800-pound gorilla. You have to do a little more” to market, but it’s “whatever I want.” What he hopes is that when his next movie is completed in 2016, the Vimeo experience will create “an expectant audience clamoring to see the film in many countries.” Here’s a clip from Lipsky latest, Molly’s Theory Of Relativity, with Tony winner Huffman and God’s Pocket‘s Sophia Takal:
EXCLUSIVE: National Geographic Channel wants to stay in business with Rob Lowe. After starring as President John F. Kennedy in last year’s Killing Kennedy and narrating The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us last spring, NGC has signed Lowe to narrate the sequel. The ’90s: The Last Great Decade? will premiere over three nights in July on NGC in the U.S., followed globally in 171 countries and on Spanish-language network Nat Geo Mundo “I’m excited to be back working with the team at National Geographic Channel, who continue to show their commitment to creating great, entertaining and thought-provoking television programming,” said Lowe. “No one has really examined the ’90s like this before, and I think viewers will be fascinated by the dramatic changes we’ve seen in even the small amount of time that’s passed since Y2K.”
Before Soviet hockey stars were allowed to show their skills in the NHL, many played at home for the Red Army — and were nearly unbeatable. Sony Pictures Classics has grabbed North American, Asian and Eastern European rights to Gabe Polsky’s new documentary Red Army, about one of the most dominant teams in sports history. (Watch the trailer below.) It focuses on the story of defenseman Slava Fetisov, who starred for the Red Army during the Cold War years before becoming one of the first group of players to leave the USSR to join the National Hockey League — where he starred en route to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The pic looks at his struggle to be allowed to play in North America and his transformation from national hero to political enemy in the late 1980s. “We can’t wait to present this film to audiences everywhere,” SPC Co-Presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard said in announcing the acquisition. “This is Russian history as seen from the perspective of professional ice hockey.” Red Army was executive produced by Jerry Weintraub, Werner Herzog and Liam Satre-Meloy. It will play in the Special Screening section at Cannes next month. Here’s a look:
In this week’s podcast, Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione and host David Bloom run through all the many announcements for different segments of the Cannes Film Festival the past week, from the main competition to Critics Week to the Directors Fortnight. The big news: lots of female directors, lots of Canadians. David and Nancy also update what happened to that rumored sale of the UK’s Channel 5 and Malta’s efforts to boost its attractiveness as a filming location in the middle of the Mediterranean with better tax incentives. They wrap up with their weekly peek at news and trends in the international box office, as the Amazing Spider-Man 2 began to spin its web, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Rio 2 and Noah all passed major milestones.
This is a risky exercise. Jurists often like to play devil’s advocate when they question lawyers in open court. But the comments that Supreme Court justices made today in the hearing pitting Aereo against broadcasters likely will provide the only clues about what investors and others should expect ahead of a ruling expected in June. Guggenheim analyst Paul Gallant says he senses that “a majority of Justices would shut down Aereo if there were no potential implications on cloud storage.” But if that’s an open question, then “our guess is that the Court will find some way to thread the needle and say that Aereo is inconsistent with the 1976 Copyright Act, or send the case back to the lower courts with some negative (but not conclusive) commentary toward Aereo.”
The basic debate: Aereo says it’s merely a technology provider that enables subscribers to privately exercise their right to view signals from the free, public airwaves. Broadcasters counter that Aereo steals their content by packaging and reselling programming to the public without paying.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor: Why aren’t they [Aereo] cable companies?… I’m looking at the – everybody’s been arguing this case as if for sure they’re not. But I look at the definition of a cable company, and it seems to fit. …
Justice Elena Kagan: If Aereo has the hardware in its warehouse as opposed to Aereo selling the hardware to the particular end user, that is going to make all the difference in the world as to whether we have a public performance or not a public performance.
Chief Justice John Roberts: You can park your car in your own garage or you can park it in a public garage. You can go to RadioShack and buy an antenna and a DVR or you can rent those facilities somewhere else from Aereo. They’ve – they’ve got an antenna. They’ll let you use it when you need it and they can, you know, record the stuff as well and let you pick it up when you need it.
Len Wiseman (Total Recall, Sleepy Hollow) is set to direct Black Chapter, about an FBI agent drawn into a top secret military program in which spies train in paranormal abilities. Skydance Productions is co-financing and producing the science fiction thriller, scripted by Zak Penn (X-Men: The Last Stand) from a story conjured up by Penn and Wiseman. “Black Chapter is a science fiction story that draws from our own history,” said Len Wiseman. “I’ve always been fascinated by the mysteries surrounding the CIA’s astral projection program during its MK-ULTRA era. What if those experiments had actually worked? Would we even know?” Wiseman will also produce for his Sketch Films banner alongside Skydance’s David Ellison and Dana Goldberg. Skydance’s Paul Schwake is exec producing alongside David Bernardi for Sketch Films. Wiseman is repped by CAA and Behr & Abramson. Penn is repped by CAA and McKuin Frankel Whitehead, LLP.
Since bowing in Korea and Mexico in late March, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah has continued to draw strong numbers overseas. As of Sunday, it had an international cume of $197.4M, and a North American haul of $93M. Paramount and Regency Enterprises today say the biblical epic rose to $207M internationally, and $93.8M domestic through Monday, pushing its worldwide cume to $300.8M. Noah was No. 9 at the North American box office this weekend with $5M at 2,537 theaters. It was No. 5 on the international chart after adding $21.6M from 6,092 runs in 56 markets. The film faced its share of controversy prior to opening, and was even banned in most of the Arab world. Nevertheless, it has hit several milestones in the course of its voyage. Domestically, its opening weekend cume of $44M was the biggest ever U.S. debut for star Russell Crowe. Overseas, the film’s releases in Russia and Brazil became the biggest ever for a non-sequel, and were the 4th biggest openings of all time, with $17.2M and $9.8M, respectively. The Russia bow was also Paramount’s best ever in the territory. To date, the movie has earned $32.8M in the fast-burn market. In Brazil, where Noah is at No. 2, it’s the highest grossing Paramount Pictures International release of all time with $23.4M …
Woody Allen Star Not ‘Fading’ As Moviegoers And Oscar Voters Ignored The Scandalous Headlines And Embraced The Movies – Analysis
Hey Woody Allen haters: if you were hoping his rare sojourn as strictly a hired actor in writer/director/star John Turturro‘s new comedy, Fading Gigolo, would flop due to his latest scandal and controversy you have to be sorely disappointed today. Not only did Gigolo NOT fail, it drew the second highest opening weekend gross for a 2014 indie release and reviews, though mixed for the movie are particularly good for Allen’s turn as a “pimp” for the aging lothario played by Turturro. With nearly $200,000 at just five theaters and a sterling $39,680 per screen average it came in only behind Wes Anderson’s hit, The Grand Budapest Hotel in terms of limited debuts this year. Millennium’s Bill Lee told Deadline Sunday the film was performing even better than they had hoped. It starts expanding next weekend. Now why is this significant?
BBC America‘s clone drama returned Saturday night with its best-ever A18-49 rating and now is the network’s second-highest-rated series in the demo, behind only Doctor Who. Orphan Black was the No. 1 television show on Twitter and Tumblr for the day and is the No. 1 basic cable drama on Twitter for the week.
Orphan Black recorded a total of 785,000 across multiple plays — premiering with 620,000 total viewers and 391,000 demo viewers. On Saturday, the series reached a new high on Twitter, reaching 1.2 million unique users with more than 43,000 tweets about the show. This is up 185% from the previous best (Season 1 finale) and nearly six times greater than the series premiere. The premiere episode alone generated nearly 36,000 tweets, beating several high-profile premieres this season including Fargo, Homeland, True Detective, Vikings, The Americans, Turn and Arrow. On Tumblr, there were 1.8 million notes on posts about Orphan Black in the month leading up to the premiere, including 277,000 on Saturday.
Related: Amazon Prime Instant Video To Stream ‘Orphan Black’ Repeats
As a guy who has covered features my whole career, I find it distressing that the only time feature folks do risky things seems to be when they are making TV projects. Because theaters and studios can’t figure it out, films are frozen in an arcane system where you wait six months for a DVD and those who don’t want to wait, or see it in a theater, have no choice but to steal it. When they work in TV, these writer-directors play in a sandbox that gives viewers the ability to see that work, whenever and wherever they want to. Joss Whedon premiered a Brin Hill-directed micro-budget relationship film In Your Eyes at Tribeca, and announced right after that he’s making it available on Vimeo for five bucks. Obviously, Whedon makes a fortune on Marvel’s The Avengers movies, but he is onto something here, and other star filmmakers should take notice and empower new filmmakers by offering small-budget films directly to their audiences. Maybe it’s going to take mavericks like this guy to hasten the glacial pace of the evolution of the way consumers digest feature films. Here is his announcement:
Fading Gigolo cashed in at the box office this Easter weekend, catapulting itself to the second-highest theater average of 2014 among specialty releases. The feature directed by John Turturro and starring Turturro, Woody Allen and Sharon Stone opened in five locations in New York and LA on Friday, grossing an estimated $198,399 through Sunday for a solid $39,680 average. That outranks A24′s strong debut for Under The Skin starring Scarlett Johansson, which opened at the beginning of this month. That film, incidentally, passed the $1M cume mark this weekend, with the Jonathan Glazer-directed experimental sci-fi pic grossing $140K in four theaters for a $35K average. The top opener by far of course is Fox Searchlight’s sizzling The Grand Budapest Hotel, which bowed to a record $202K per-theater average March 9.
The opening for Fading Gigolo portends a good run for the comedy, which centers on Fioravante (Turturro), who decides to become a Don Juan as a way of making money for his cash-strapped friend Murray (Allen). Turturro told me last week the film had sold to “top notch” distributors worldwide with strong opens in some international territories ahead of its U.S. launch. “It’s a date movie and even people in their 20s like the movie,” he said. “If they like the movie, then anyone will like the movie.” Millennium Entertainment CEO Bill Lee said this morning that Fading Gigolo is performing better than even hoped. “We saw a spectacular jump from Friday to Saturday, which goes to show that audiences were craving a funny and heartfelt film,” he said. Millennium will hold in NY and LA next week expanding the film to 25 runs in both metropolitan areas. It will head to San Francisco, Dallas, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Miami on May 2, then to additional markets May 9.
Under The Skin saw a sizable expansion and grossed more than $467K in 176 theaters, averaging $2,656. Last week, the film grossed over $309K from 54 runs ($5,727 PTA). Its cume now stands at $1,086,241.
John Benjamin Hickey, Daniel Stern, Olivia Williams, Ashley Zukerman and Rachel Brosnahan star in WGN America‘s 13-episode scripted series Manhattan, slated to premiere in July. Set during the clandestine mission to build the world’s first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, NM, Manhattan follows the brilliant but flawed scientists and their families. Here’s a sneak-peek at the teaser trailer that will air during Salem‘s season premiere on Sunday. Manhattan is from writer Sam Shaw and director Thomas Schlamme, Skydance TV, Tribune Studios and Lionsgate TV.
MPI Media Group’s Dark Sky Films banner is setting a fall 2014 theatrical release for LFO, a sci-fi comic thriller from Swedish helmer Antonio Tublen. MPI acquired all U.S. and international sales on the pic about a man (Patrik Karlson) who discovers he can hypnotize people with sound and starts experimenting on his neighbors (Izabella Jo Tschig, Per Löfberg) with his newfound analog power. Tublen wrote and directed the film which screened at Austin’s Fantastic Fest, where Elijah Wood and his SpectreVision partners caught it. They programmed it at their own L.A. festival and have come aboard to present LFO with Wood, Daniel Noah and Josh C. Waller serving as exec producers. “One of the reasons we started this company was to get behind great new genre films that deserve to be discovered by broader audiences. This is a subversive, funny and deeply unnerving low-techno thriller we’re proud to present,” said Wood. MPI’s Nicola Goelzhaeuser negotiated the deal with Alexander Brøndsted, producer and president of PingPongFilm. MPI will also be presenting LFO in Cannes. Here’s the trailer with English subtitles:
Bret Harrison, Aaron McCusker Join ABC’s ‘The Astronaut Wives Club’; Daniel London In WGN’s ‘Manhattan’
UPDATED: Bret Harrison (Orange County) and Aaron McCusker (Shameless, Dexter) have been cast as series regulars in ABC’s 10-episode drama series The Astronaut Wives Club, from Fake Empire, Groundswell Productions and ABC Studios, eyed for 2015. Written by Stephanie Savage based on Lily Koppel’s book and directed by Nick Cassavetes, it tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history during the height of the space race. Harrison will play Gordon “Gordo” Cooper, one of the original astronauts. His wandering ways pushed his wife, Trudy, to the brink of divorce, but he’s convinced her to come back so he can have his shot at space. McCusker, repped by UK’s Curtis Brown and Kritzer Levine Wilkins Griffin Nilon Entertainment, will play Wally Schirra, another one of the original astronauts who’s also a prankster.
Cannes Lineup: ‘Foxcatcher’, ‘Mr Turner’, ‘The Homesman’, ‘Maps To The Stars’ In Competition; Ryan Gosling, Wim Wenders In UCR; ‘The Rover’, ‘The Salvation’ At Midnight
Cannes Film Festival chief Thierry Frémaux is about to unveil the Official Selection lineup for the 67th running of the event which kicks off May 14 with Nicole Kidman in Grace Of Monaco. Folks are settled in at the UGC Normandie movie theater on the Champs-Elysées to get some clarity on the rampant speculation that annually precedes the daddy of all international festivals. Will Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice be in the mix? Which of the myriad French movies made the cut? Has Cannes pinned down the Foxcatcher premiere? I’ll be updating the titles as they are revealed, so keep refreshing for the latest.
Winter Sleep, dir: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Clouds Of Sils Maria, dir: Olivier Assayas
Saint Laurent, dir: Bertrand Bonello
Maps To The Stars, dir: David Cronenberg
Two Days, One Night, dirs: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Mommy, dir: Xavier Dolan
The Captive, dir: Atom Egoyan
Goodbye To Language, dir: Jean-Luc Godard
The Search, dir: Michel Hazanavicius
Jimmy’s Hall, dir: Ken Loach
The Homesman, dir: Tommy Lee Jones
Futatsume No Mado, dir: Naomi Kawase
Mr Turner, dir: Mike Leigh
Foxcatcher, dir: Bennett Miller
Leviathan, dir: Andrey Zvyaginstev
Wild Tales, dir: Damian Szifron
Le Meraviglie, dir: Alice Rohrwacher
Timbuktu, Abderrahmane Sissako
Back in February, word began to spread that longtime frenemies John Malone and Rupert Murdoch were eyeing a joint acquisition of the UK’s Channel 5. Malone-backed Discovery Communications and BSkyB, majority owned by Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, have now reportedly gone ahead and sewn up a deal. Broadcast reported that Discovery and BskyB are nearing an announcement they have acquired the broadcaster in a deal valued at £350M, which would give the former a 70% stake and the latter 30%. But media entrepreneur Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell, owner of Channel 5, has said it received several bids and was still evaluating them, according to Bloomberg. The free-to-air broadcaster was thought to be seeking a buyer with about £700M to spend, but many were skeptical it would fetch such a price; Desmond paid about £103.5M for it in 2010. Other companies that have been said to have shown interest include Viacom, Turner Broadcasting, BT, NBCUniversal and Saban Capital.
Channel 5 is notably the home of Big Brother, although its contract for the show expires in 2015. The net also airs U.S. dramas like Under The Dome, CSI and Person Of Interest; weekly average ratings hover around 4%.
Participant Media‘s network Pivot today announced the pickup of Sky Atlantic’s 12-episode drama series Fortitude starring Stanley Tucci and Michael Gambon. The series became available in the U.S. in December when Starz, which originally had committed to the project, pulled out. Pivot is designed as a younger skewing network than Starz, with its target demo being 18-34. As part of its upfront presentation, Pivot also announced an overhaul of its nightly topical series, TakePart Live. Beginning Monday, May 12, the hour-long late-night program will move to primetime (10 PM) with a new producer, Michael Davies’ Embassy Row, which is behind Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live and AMC’s Talking Dead/Bad. Also undergoing makeover is the hosting team of Jacob Soboroff and Cara Santa Maria, with only Soboroff coming back, joined by Sen. John McCain’s daughter Meghan McCain and comedian Eddie Huang.
Pivot also unveiled a development slate that includes eleven projects from production companies including IAC’s Electus, Universal Cable Prods., FremantleMedia North America/Pukeko Pictures, Funny or Die, and Eyeworks, and revealed premiere 2014-15 dates, including an August 8 debut for the sophomore season of coming-of-age comedy, Please Like Me, and the comedy Human Resources. “Our second slate demonstrates our significant investment in, and commitment to, groundbreaking content for the thought-leading segment of Generation Y we call ‘Upstanders,’” said Pivot president Evan Shapiro. Here is Pivot’s full slate: