EXCLUSIVE: Idris Elba is in final negotiations to perform the role and provide the voice of the killer tiger Shere Khan in Disney’s live-action take on The Jungle Book. Directed by Jon Favreau, the film is a mix of live action and VFX that is being overseen by Rob Legato, whose VFX credits include Avatar, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Hugo and Titanic, the latter two of which won him Oscars. The studio has bolstered its creative team by setting as its production designers Alex McDowell (Man Of Steel, Rise Of The Guardians) and Chris Glass heading a team of concept artists that includes Michael Kutsche (Alice, Oz, Maleficent), Iain McCaig (Star Wars), and Justin Sweet (Chronicles Of Narnia). The story team is headed by Iron Man‘s David Lowery, who’s working around the clock with seven full-time illustrators, with Legacy Effects participating in creature design and rigging.
Disney is moving very quickly as it is in a race with Warner Bros on versions of Rudyard Kipling’s public domain title. The rival project is still looking for a director after Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu dropped from the project. Read More »
Chinese director Wu Tianming died Tuesday of an apparent heart attack at his home in Beijing. Wu, known as the “Godfather of the Fifth Generation” directed several films in the 1970s and ’80s that helped reshape Chinese cinema including 1986′s Old Well and 1995′s award winner King Of Masks. He got his professional start at Xi’an Film Studios as an apprentice to Cui Wei and eventually took over the studio in the late 1970s, over the next decade-plus helped guide the careers of such noted Chinese filmmakers as Huang Jianxin, Tian Zhuangzhuang, Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou. His last directing job was 2003′s Gadfly, a 20-part TV miniseries based on the E.L. Voynich novel.
Stellan Skarsgard has been cast in the lead role of Abi Morgan’s new BBC series River. Morgan, who has scripted features including Shame, The Iron Lady and the upcoming Suffragette, won an Emmy last year for writing the now cancelled BBC series The Hour. River reteams her with the BBC for a six-part series she created. Kudos is producing. The drama centers on John River (Skarsgard), a brilliant police officer who walks a professional tightrope between a pathology so extreme he risks permanent dismissal, and a healthy state of mind that would cure him of his gift. The series is due to air in 2015.
Also at the BBC, Ben Chaplin, Downton Abbey‘s Joanne Froggatt and Silent Witness‘ Emilia Fox have been confirmed to join drama showcase The Secrets. The strand is a series of five stand-alone films that highlights new writing talent. It’s made by Working Title TV for BBC One. The above are joining a host of British names that includes Olivia Colman, Alison Steadman, Ashley Walters, Helen Baxendale and Sarah Solemani. BAFTA-winning director Dominic Savage will helm the five films, each of which starts with one incident and then follows five different stories stemming from the event. Read More »
AwardsLine Editor Christy Grosz contributed to this report.
There’s a lot of overlap between sound mixing and sound editing but both have a lot to do with creating believability of the story and mood of a picture. For Universal/Emmett Furla’s war pic Lone Survivor, a team of three are nominated for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing (Beau Borders, Andy Koyama and David Brownlo) and one is nominated for Sound Editing (Wylie Statemen). The film, which is told from the viewpoint of Navy SEAL hero Marcus Luttrell, is the story of Operation Redwings and its ill-fated mission fighting al-Qaeda in the mountains of Afghanistan. It begins with the camaraderie of the Navy SEALS at the base before their mission, continues as they move stealthily into overwatch positions, erupts in a bloody battle and ends in a remote village.
To capture the first section when the audience becomes familiar with the team, Borders noted that the soundscape is very “smooth. They’re on an active military base, so you’ll hear the sounds of jets and helicopters. They kind of bleed over cuts and even the music really just swells and kind of comes and goes, and everything has a little more of a thinned and almost pleasant and almost romantic feel to it,” he said. But when they are called into their mission, the adrenaline kicks in. “That’s when the helicopters are really big and … Read More »
When it comes to predicting who will take home Oscars for adapted and original screenplay, don’t look to the recent Writers Guild Awards for any significant clues. Usually the guild will give some indication of which way the winds are blowing among the scribes of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, even though the 372-member writers branch has different criteria and eligibility rules than the more stringent 20,000-plus WGA membership. The WGAs differ from other guild awards in not nominating any movies not made under their basic agreement or within guild guidelines. That isn’t a huge factor this year, as the Academy matched the WGAs’ nominee list in original screenplay and chose three of the same adaptations (Oscar nominees 12 Years A Slave and Philomena were not allowed to compete in the WGAs). Lone Survivor and August: Osage County nabbed the other two nominations, although neither won. In fact, in a highly unusual result, the WGA winners, Her for original and Captain Phillips for adapted, have not been considered slam-dunks to pull off the same trick at the Oscars on March 2.
Related: ‘12 Years A Slave’ Writers Win 2014 USC Scripter Award: John Ridley, Solomon Northup
Phillips is listed as a 100-to-1 shot on betting website Gold Derby, … Read More »
Vancouver-based 3D specialists Gener8 Media is expanding into VFX postproduction with a newly created division called The Feder8tion, to be headed by 20th Century Fox veteran Jennifer Meislohn. She comes to the company after almost a decade at Fox, where she was VP Visual Effects overseeing films like the Oscar-winning Life Of Pi, Chronicle, Night At The Museum, and the converted Titanic 3D. Gener8′s new VFX department will specialize in composite, set extension, and environment visual effects and is planning on adding 30 staffers by summer’s end. “I’ve seen firsthand the impact that Gener8 has had on Hollywood’s 3D conversion industry,” said Meislohn. “From a groundbreaking process and technology to a growing list of major studio clients and films, Gener8 is fast becoming recognized as a key player for unbeatable quality and service. I’m very excited to get The Feder8tion up and running and help expand the business in a broader direction.” Gener8 has established itself in the field of 3D with proprietary stereo conversion services and credits on The Amazing Spider-Man, Harry Potter, Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 3 as well as developing cloud-based data management via its Cumul8 system.
Related: Gener8 Lands Financing For 3D Conversion
Frozen, the animated musical from Walt Disney Studios Animation, has slid past the $300M mark domestically, according to estimates Tuesday night. The film is on its way to becoming the highest-grossing Disney Animation release in history … one insider said it could become their Billion dollar baby. This, of course, begs the question — will Frozen‘s huge success take it all the way to the Great White Way? It a natural for Disney. The soundtrack just hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart today and the film itself seems custom-made for a stage presentation for a holiday season as soon as the ice freezes in Rockefeller Center. “There’s been no discussion on doing that with Frozen yet, but we are obviously aware how powerful it is and how powerful the music is,” said one top Disney executive. At present, Disney is prepping for Aladdin which bows on Broadway on March 20th. And, as everyone knows, The Lion King has become a huge success — for a while a permanent fixture – on Broadway, winning six Tony Awards and playing throughout the country and on stages worldwide (in many territories). It has, as of year-end 2013, become the first Broadway show ever with $1B in cume gross; it has been running 17 years to pass Les Miserables as the 4th longest running show on Broadway. So, it would make sense for Frozen to follow in its footsteps to become the next worldwide juggernaut. The Lion King box office success also spawned two direct-to-video films, a spinoff TV series and several video games. In fact, the previous record-holder at the worldwide box office for Disney was the original The Lion King, which in 1994 ended up with a total gross on its initial run of $313M domestically and $452M internationally for a total worldwide cume of $765M. Read More »
Terry Dove will be responsible for distributing Kaleidoscope’s slate of independent features and documentaries in the UK, the company announced today. Dove moves to Kaleidoscope from 20th Century Fox where he served as executive sales director. He is credited with releasing nearly 500 films over a 20-year career including Titanic, Star Wars, Die Another Day, Minority Report, Ice Age, and Little Miss Sunshine. Dove begins his new position on January 2.
Since Kate Winslet was first nominated for her supporting role in Sense And Sensibility in 1995, she has been up for Oscars five more times, finally winning a statuette for 2008’s The Reader. But take a look at her four other Oscar-nominated turns — 1997’s Titanic, 2001’s Iris, 2004’s Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and 2006’s Little Children — and you will find no discernible thread linking these performances. Each is truly unique and thoroughly Winslet, much like her current Golden Globe-nominated role in Jason Reitman’s Labor Day, in which she plays Adele, an agoraphobic single mom caught up in an unexpected and dangerous relationship with con on the run Frank (Josh Brolin). In some ways, the film is an old-fashioned romance like that “other” love story she did that was set aboard a sinking ship, and it once again proves Winslet is an actress who likes working without a net.
AwardsLine: How is Labor Day different from your last few roles?
Kate Winslet: I’m often drawn to characters that are more obviously one thing. They’re passionate, and there is always an element of strength because I think every person possesses that in some way, even if they’ve experienced hardship in their lives. I could see the challenge for me with (Adele) was that I didn’t want her to be just one thing. I didn’t want her to be just the shaky-handed person who didn’t like going outside. She is a woman who has a gigantic heart, and, certainly in her past, it beat much fuller and faster. I felt very strongly that through Frank and falling in love with him some of those sides of her would come back to life a little bit. Read More »
For Playboy‘s 60th anniversary issue, the magazine needed an iconic subject for the Playboy Interview, and I hit the lottery. I got to talk with actor-writer-director-producer Ben Affleck about his life and the remarkable second act that he wrote for himself as writer-director of Gone Baby Gone and The Town, which culminated in the Best Picture Oscar for Argo. Naturally, the first topic on the menu was his surprise decision to become the latest in a long line of actors to play the Caped Crusader in Batman Vs. Superman. At the time we met, Affleck was watching as the Internet exploded negatively to his Bat-candidacy. Having weathered career hardship before and come back stronger for it, Affleck was unconcerned by the Bat-zealots who actually started online petitions against him.
Related: Why Ben Affleck As Batman Is Good Move For Warner Bros
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ABC has firmed up its midseason scheduling plans. With Super Fun Night only getting a Back 4 order, the network will try out another new comedy series, Mixology, in the Wednesday 9:30 PM slot behind Modern Family. The high-concept series, which takes place at a bar over the course of one night and features a 10-member core cast, will premiere on February 26. ABC previously used flagship Modern Family to launch another single-camera young ensemble comedy, Happy Endings, which recently ended its run. Meanwhile, Suburgatory will return to its original Tuesday 8:30 PM slot where it was so successful in its first season, launching Season 3 on January 15 to succeed departing Back In The Game.
Related: Fall 2013 Freshman Series Scorecard: Gainers and Slackers
ABC is making changes to some previously announced midseason moves. Once Upon A Time and Revenge are still slated to return from their winter hiatuses on March 9, joined by new drama Resurrection. But Revenge will move to 10 PM, with Resurrection taking over its 9 PM slot. With its supernatural theme (Resurrection is about deceased loved ones returning to a small town), it is considered a better fit for dark-ish fairytale drama Once than the glitzy soap Revenge. On Thursday, ABC was to launch adventure reality series The Quest, from The Amazing Race creators, on January 2. The competition has now been pushed to summer, with cooking reality series The Taste and CIA drama The Assets taking over Thursday night while Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal are on hiatus, returning on February 27. In another tweak, Nashville — originally slated to go on hiatus like Once, Grey’s and Scandal under ABC’s newly adopted split-season model before returning on February 26 — will now stay on, airing a total of four originals in January and February. I hear ABC brass felt that maybe they were taking too many dramas off, and Nashville‘s strong DVR following could help it through repeats. Of the freshman dramas, Betrayal will have aired its entire limited-run first season before it goes off the air, while Once Upon A Time In Wonderland will air its fall finale on Dec. 12 and will return with a few more originals in the spring. New procedurals Killer Women and Mind Games will split the Tuesday 10 PM slot previously occupied by cancelled drama Lucky 7. Here are ABC’s new mideason premiere dates, followed by descriptions of the new series: Read More »
Simon Andreae, the former Channel 4 exec in the UK and former Discovery Channel exec in Los Angeles, is a guy best known for programs that mulled why the RMS Titanic sank and whether God created the universe, but also the first televised human autopsy, first televised exorcism and, of course, the series Naked And Afraid. He is replacing the Fox exec crowned Point Man For Perversity by The New York Times, Mike Darnell.
Related: Mike Darnell Moving To Warner Bros TV
In August, Andreae announced that after an eight-year stint in the U.S., he’d launched Scarlet Media and would be returning to the UK with a contract with Sony Pictures TV, reporting to SPT exec Andrea Wong, who used to head reality TV at ABC. Based in London, Andreae would develop factual and factual entertainment formats and specials for British TV and international markets.
While for public consumption Andreae is replacing Darnell, the job is smaller than it was under Darnell — and pays less, which eliminated a few of the candidates who’d been in talks, sources report. Andreae will oversee development; Fox veteran David Hill will hang on to the network’s current reality franchises American Idol and The X Factor. That’s maybe just as well for Andreae given that the two singing competitions had become something of a high-class headache for Darnell, what with Idol’s numbers still good but tumbling, and X Factor‘s promised gimongus crowd continuing to not show up for a third season despite yet another judge-panel makeover. Read More »
BREAKING: 20th Century Fox Film has restructured its marketing operations into a worldwide unit, promoting Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus to co-Presidents of Worldwide Theatrical Marketing & Distribution. Under the new structure, both the domestic and international marketing and distribution teams will report to Jegeus and Hanneman. They begin their new roles immediately. This comes after Fox let Oren Aviv go as marketing chief. According to the studio, the move was made to embrace the idea of film as a global game and create cohesion between domestic and offshore campaigns.
There is no mention here of whether Fox is done making moves, and rumors continue to race that the studio could be the next landing place for Jeff Robinov, who left Warner Bros recently. Some say he won’t land until January, and I’ve heard there is question of whether he would report to Jim Gianopulos, the well-regarded Fox Film chairman/CEO who has been running the studio solo since the exit of Tom Rothman and likely doesn’t want another partnrr. Robinov went out on a good note with Man Of Steel, and looks better than ever given the success of his passion project Gravity from Alfonso Cuaron, which has turned out to be the sleeper hit of the fall. But his exit was considered contentious, and I’ve heard it has colored opinions at Fox. I’ve heard Rupert Murdoch is determined to get him—even if it is as a producer with money behind him–but all of this continues to be loose talk, until it isn’t.
Related: Exclusive: Oren Aviv Exited At 20th Century Fox
As for the marketing restructure, Gianopulos said: “Our industry is more global than ever before. Paul and Tomas have proven success in the global arena, having run the industry’s most successful international operations, and coupled with our excellent domestic team, they will reshape our worldwide marketing and distribution strategies for the future.” Both will report to Gianopulos.
Fox also confirmed the exit of Aviv as Chief Marketing Officer for the domestic division. The studio indicated Aviv will announce his next move shortly. Read More »
WikiLeaks and its embattled founder Julian Assange keep trying to make it crystal clear they don’t support DreamWorks‘ upcoming The Fifth Estate. Today WikiLeaks published the first of Assange’s letters to Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays him in the October 18 release, denying the actor’s request to meet prior to production. The pic directed by Bill Condon is based on Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange and the World’s Most Dangerous Website by Daniel Domscheit-Berg and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy by David Leigh and Luke Harding, which Assange calls “toxic” and “the two most discredited books on the market”. WikiLeaks previously posted a version of the Fifth Estate script online along with a rather exhaustive memo detailing everything the film gets wrong. Here’s the Assange letter:
Related: Julian Assange Calls ‘Fifth Estate’ A “Massive Propaganda Attack”
Thank you for trying to contact me. It is the first approach by anyone from the Dreamworks production to me or WikiLeaks.
My assistants communicated your request to me, and I have given it a lot of thought and examined your previous work, which I am fond of.
I think I would enjoy meeting you.
The bond that develops between an actor and a living subject is significant.
If the film reaches distribution we will forever be correlated in the public imagination. Our paths will be forever entwined. Each of us will be granted standing to comment on the other for many years to come and others will compare our characters and trajectories.
But I must speak directly.
Read More »
Bryan Cranston’s next TV series announced this morning: H2’s new original 10-hour series Big History, debuting November 2 at 10 PM. He’s the narrator. “I was asked to be the voice of 13.7 billion years of history,” Cranston said in today’s news. The series is an offshoot of the Big History Project, based on the Big History academic movement spearheaded by historian David Christian of Australia’s Macquairie University; it gets funding from Bill Gates. Here’s the announcement from H2, the History Channel digital net: Read More »
The prolific author claims in a new lawsuit that an LA man has falsely claimed that he controls the rights to a recent series of adventure books by Clive Cussler. In a suit filed Tuesday in LA Superior Court (read it here), the Sahara and Raise The Titanic author says John Fassett – “who represents himself as a motion picture and film producer,” according to the suit — was claiming rights to The Oregon Files and using names including Cussler Studios and Oregon Entertainment Group “to obtain substantial sums of money from third parties to which defendants are not entitled and by which defendants have been unjustly enriched.” Cussler is suing for unfair competition and slander of title, among other causes, and is seeking a permanent injunction against using the author’s name or claiming rights to the book series. He also seeks tripled damages, punitive damages and restitution. Attorneys Bert Fields, Charles N. Shephard, Caroline S. Heindel of Green Glusker Fields of Los Angeles represent the plaintiff.