The Japan branch of Universal Studios Parks & Resorts and Warner Bros’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction was originally unveiled in May 2012 with a target late-2014 opening date. They made it: The opening day will be July …
The Tribeca Film Institute has unveiled its grant winners for this year’s TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund, which supports filmmakers with cash and guidance on their films that focus on science, math and technology. It’s always a cool bunch of projects in a genre that is surely underserved, and with this year’s batch of winners getting $150,000 the fund has now awarded more than $1 million in its 12-year history. This year’s three winners include Imitation Game, based on the life of British mathematician and logician Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch; the Weinstein Company acquired it for $7M at EFM this year, the highest price ever for a U.S. rights deal there. (With that kind of cash in the mix I guess the Sloan grant is more of a tip-of-the-hat kind of thing.) Recent TFI Sloan projects include 2030, the climate change pic from Vietnam that opened the Panorama section this year in Berlin; the Sundance pic and Indie Spirit Award nominee Computer Chess; and Focus’ A Birder’s Guide To Everything starring Ben Kingsley and Kodi Smit-McPhee. This year’s recipients, chosen by a jury that included John Slattery, Meg Ryan, Dark Knight scribe Jonathan Nolan, will be honored at the Tribeca fest that kicks off April 17. Part of the Alfred P Sloan Foundation-sponsored events this year include a 10-year retrospective screening and panel for Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind on April 21. Here are this year’s winners:
Chernin Entertainment and Gary Sanchez Productions’ Match Maker is based on Don Van Matta Jr’s ESPN The Magazine article “The Match Maker: Bobby Riggs, The Mafia And The Battle Of The Sexes,” centering on the 1973 exhibition tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs that drew 50 million …
New Line Cinema and Village Roadshow Pictures will release the Steven Quale-helmed Into The Storm on August 8, 2014. This is the first teaser for the pic, which is told through the eyes and lenses of professional storm chasers, thrill-seeking amateurs, and courageous townspeople, throwing you “directly into the eye …
Abby Singer, a veteran production manager and assistant director and a DGA member for more than 60 years, died this morning of cancer and old age at the Motion Picture & Television Country House in Woodland Hills. He was 96. Singer got his start working as an assistant for Harry Cohn’s right-hand man Jack Fier at Columbia Pictures in 1949 after a stint in the Navy and moved on to Universal in 1957 to work in TV. He eventually landed at Mary Tyler Moore and Grant Tinker’s MTM Productions, where he oversaw such series as Rhoda, Phyllis, The Bob Newhart Show, WKRP In Cincinnati, The White Shadow, Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere. His last film as unit production manager was on 1997′s Family Plan. He later taught at the American Film Institute Conservatory.
But Singer’s name is known to film and TV crews everywhere for a production shot that came to be known as the “Abby Singer shot.” Partly thanks to his training under notorious tightwad Fier, Singer spent his long career honing his skills at saving productions dough, and his idea was to begin moving crew and gear to the next location one shot before the last shot of the day, with the idea that the next location would be set up ahead of time — thereby saving money and precious shooting time. (The last shot of the day, by the way, is known as “the martini.”) Here’s a Spring 2011 interview in the DGA Quarterly with Singer where he recalled how his namesake shot came to be:
“It was probably on Wagon Train, although I can’t be sure,” he says. “Working in TV we made many moves per day—from the back lot to the stage, or from one stage to another. I’d say to the guys, ‘One more shot and then we’re moving,’ so when we moved, they were all prepared. The time saved could add up to a full hour of shooting for the director.”
GKIDS has become a regular on the Oscar scene despite its indie status with four Best Animated Feature nominations since 2010 — most recently backing this year’s nom Ernest & Celestine and notching two noms in the category in 2012 with A Cat In Paris and Chico & Rita. So today’s deal in which it has acquired North American rights to Studio Ghibli‘s The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya is legit news, especially when GKIDS says it will release the pic this year and make an awards push. The animated movie from Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata is his first in 14 years. It was released in November in Japan and was a hit, telling the story of the heroine at the center of an ancient Japanese folk story, the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. The plot: Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo, a tiny girl grows into an exquisite young lady, raised by an old bamboo cutter and his wife. From the countryside to the grand capital city, even unseen she enthralls all who encounter her, including five noble suitors. Ultimately however she must face her secret fate.
Erik Feig now shares the co-president title of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group with Steve Beeks, who continues as co-COO of Lionsgate. The long-term deal, terms of which were not disclosed, comes after the former head of production at Summit helped oversee a film slate that made more than $2.3 billion at the 2013 box office including The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Now You See Me. Here’s today’s release:
SANTA MONICA, CA, February 25, 2014 – Motion picture executive Erik Feig has been promoted to Co-President of Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group and has signed a new long-term agreement, the Company announced today. He oversees all aspects of feature film development and production for the Company’s Lionsgate and Summit film labels.
The Company’s feature film slate generated more than $2.3 billion at the global box office in 2013, led by the second film of Lionsgate’s blockbuster Hunger Games franchise, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the 10th highest-grossing film of all time at the domestic box office, and Summit’s sleeper hit Now You See Me, which grossed more than $350 million worldwide.
“Erik has assembled a tremendous production slate over the past two years, and he will be a critical, innovative and disruptive part of our future as we continue to evolve as a next generation global content leader,” said Lionsgate Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer.
Seth Meyers tweeted out the news today that his former Saturday Night Live castmate Fred Armisen will lead the band on the new Late Night With Seth Meyers. Armisen, who plays a mean drums (check on the video below), currently stars on IFC’s sketch series Portlandia opposite Carrie Brownstein — …
Jason Segel is starring as the late author David Foster Wallace in The End Of The Tour, which co-stars Jesse Eisenberg and will be directed by James Ponsoldt. Mark Manuel and Ted O’Neal’s Kilburn Media has come aboard to fully finance the pic, which was written by Donald Margulies from Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky’s book Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace. The fact-based movie follows Wallace and Lipsky (Eisenberg) on the book tour supporting Wallace’s best-known novel Infinite Jest. Along the way, friendship, jealousy and competition emerge between the two writers as they discuss women, culture, depression and the pros and cons of fame. Wallace committed suicide in 2008. Newly launched sales outfit Fortitude International will shop the pic at EFM.
Multimedia studio Electus is teaming with fellow IAC property CollegeHumor Media to form Electus Digital. Drew Buckley, Electus’ COO, will oversee the new division, which will encompass website properties CollegeHumor.com, Dorkly.com and WatchLOUD.com; YouTube channels WatchLOUD, Nuevon and Hungry; and production companies dumbdumb …
Warner Bros is getting its Peter Pan movie in ship-shape. It has just announced it has set Hugh Jackman to play Blackbeard in Pan, the Joe Wright-directed update of JM Barrie’s Peter Pan tale. He joins Garrett Hedlund, who we scooped this week landed the role of Captain Hook after being in the mix with Boardwalk Empire‘s Jack Huston and Perks Of Being A Wallflower‘s Ezra Miller. The script is by Jason Fuchs, and Greg Berlanti is producing under his Berlanti Productions banner with Paul Webster. Sarah Schechter is overseeing for the studio.
In Fuchs’ script, an orphan is taken to the magical world of Neverland, where he becomes the savior of the natives and leads a rebellion against the evil pirates led by Blackbeard. Javier Bardem at one time was offered this part, but Jackman was later rumored to be in the mix, and now it is final. For the record, that makes a pretty formidable acting duo playing the same historical figure: John Malkovich is set as Blackbeard in NBC’s upcoming pirate drama series Crossbones from Neil Cross.
The studio said today that the pic remains untitled, though it does have a July 17, 2015 release date after it was shifted last week to take the slot previously held by the studio’s Superman Vs. Batman movie. The move keeps Pan from being sandwiched between Fox’s Fantastic Four and Paramount’s Terminator reboot and took the pic off the the same date as Ted 2 from Universal.
Jackman, repped by WME, just wrapped shooting on Fox’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past, and his most recent pic in theaters was the Warner Bros’ thriller Prisoners.
EXCLUSIVE: Jesse Sisgold has been appointed to the newly created position of President of Business Affairs and Strategic Planning at David Ellison‘s Skydance Productions. He will have oversight of business and legal affairs across all company units, as well as strategic planning for the company’s expansion, which recently has included launching a TV division last spring. Sisgold arrives from his boutique entertainment/corporate finance law firm Sisgold PC, which closed about $400 million in deals in 2013 — including every TV deal Skydance finalized from talent to distribution. Sisgold also handled development-related deals for Skydance pic projects including the Terminator reboot, Dean Devlin’s disaster epic Geostorm and the Christopher McQuarrie-directed adaptation Star Blazers. “It has been a privilege to work with Jesse this past year, and we are honored to have him officially join the Skydance family,” Ellison said today in announcing the hire. “His role will be crucial in Skydance’s growth and we are thrilled to have him on board.”
Open Road’s animated indie pic The Nut Job opened this past weekend and grossed $25.7 million over the four-day MLK Day holiday — a record for the best animated debut for a non-studio film. Now the sequel as been set for January …
One in a series of Deadline stories that look back on 2013 and ahead to 2014.
Some of 2014′s most important sporting events won’t take place on a grassy field or an indoor court. They’ll play out in board rooms as TV execs continue their struggle to balance the diverging interests of those who love sports, and others who don’t — but still have to subsidize the programming as part of the pay TV bundle. Sports accounts for about 33% of cable and satellite company programming costs, Barclays Equity Research’s Kannan Venkat estimates. That percentage will grow: Sports prices are rising about 10% a year while other channels rise about 7%. DirecTV CEO Mike White says consumer frustration could soon begin to boil. “There’s a point where you have to stand up for the 99% who are angry about their bills.”
Will 2014 be the year when distributors make a serious effort to slow their rising sports costs? It’s possible, especially in dealings with regional sports channels — particularly in Los Angeles. Time Warner Cable is about to introduce a service for Dodgers games, SportsNetLA, following its launch last year of SportsNet and Deportes which show Lakers games. The cable company is said to want other distributors to pay $5 per subscriber per month for the Dodgers, roughly the same price MSG charges for its regional service that offers the New York Knicks and Rangers. But so far other distributors have not stepped up to the plate. DirecTV could help everyone hold out; the No. 1 satellite company has led the charge against high-priced regional sports networks. It declined to carry the Pac-12 Network which is home to two schools (UCLA and USC) in the key LA market, the University of Texas’ Longhorn Network, and Comcast-owned sports services in Portland, Philadelphia and Houston. (The Houston network filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September.)
Can’t help but think James Schamus receiving the WGA East‘s Evelyn F. Burkey Award for “bringing honor and dignity to writers” is the guild’s way of making sure it thanks the now former Focus Features boss for his years mentoring art house fare from writers like Dustin Lance Black, Charlie Kaufman, Larry McMurtry & Anne Proulx, and Jose Rivera as well as himself (Lust, Caution and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). Shamus was the longtime CEO at Focus before a full rethink of the business at NBCUniversal in October saw him removed and replaced by FilmDistrict’s Peter Schlessel, part of a plan to focus on more mainstream and genre films (at least in part) in the future. One of Shamus’ final films in Focus’ pipeline is Dallas Buyers Club, the kind of film Focus has so successfully shepherded through many an Oscar season. “This film is very important and we have believed in it from the beginning”, Schamus told our Pete Hammond after the movie’s LA premiere October 18. “We are taking this one all the way to the altar, all the way, and I am going to be there for it.” Here’s today WGA East release, which comes a day after it said it would award The Wire creator David Simon with Ian McClellan Hunter Award for Career Achievement during the WGA Awards on February 1:
The Publicists of the International Cinematographers Guild (IATSE Local 600) have announced some of this year’s nominees, with winners to be unveiled at the 51st annual Awards Luncheon on February 28 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Last year, Deadline’s Pete Hammond and Mike Fleming were both nominated for the American press award, with Hammond winning for a second time (he’s the only U.S. journalist to win it twice). This year Fleming is back on the nominee list alongside Variety‘s Tim Gray, Entertainment Weekly‘s Jeff Jensen, Access Hollywood‘s Scott Mantz and ComingSoon.net’s Ed Douglas. Here are the rest of the noms unveiled today: