Saban Films launched just before Cannes in May and made a statement by acquiring Tommy Lee Jones’ Competition title The Homsesman, which it will release in the U.S. via Roadside Attractions. It was the first glitzy step in a plan to release 8-10 commercial, talent-driven features per year via a distribution partner. Now it has more help under the division’s president Bill Bromiley: Jonathan Saba has been tapped as VP Marketing and Azniv Taschyan as VP Finance.
Roadside Attractions has acquired U.S. rights to Xavier Dolan’s Cannes pic Mommy. The plan is to release it in first-quarter 2015. Dolan’s fifth film centers on an explosive 15-year-old boy with ADHD and his widowed single mom. But when Kyla, a new girl across the street, enters their lives, things change. Anne Dorval, Antoine Olivier Pilon and Suzanne Clément star.
Dolan, a Canadian, moved up to the Cannes Competition lineup for the first time with Mommy after winning three prizes in Directors’ Fortnight at just 19 (he was famously miffed to be in Un Certain Regard rather than Competition in 2012 with his Laurence Anyways). Mommy won the Grand Jury prize this year.
EOne and Montreal-based Les Films Séville are handling distribution of the film in English and French Canada, while Séville International VP International Sales Anick Poirier negotiated the U.S. deal with Roadside co-president Howard Cohen and attorney Greg Bernstein.
James Garner just made it all look too easy.
That’s the only explanation I can give for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences failing to vote him an Honorary Oscar over these last few years of Governors Awards. More than once I wrote a column of “suggestions” including those egregiously overlooked artists deserving of the industry’s top award, and always near the top was my annual reminder of Garner. But I guess it is just too late now. Garner, who died Saturday night at age 86, probably just would brush off the honor anyway, thinking those more “obvious” choices were more likely to ever get an Oscar. But it is precisely because he made it all seem so effortless that he was annually passed over.
It couldn’t have been because he was also a major television star could it? Nah. Maverick , The Rockford Files, those fine TV movies, and those magical Polaroid commercials he did with Mariette Hartley were all great. And no one can deny the power of those TV movies he did including Promise, Barbarians At The Gate , Breathing Lessons, Decoration Day, The Long Summer Of George Adams and My Name Is Bill W to name a few. These showed off an actor of real range. If it were just a career in television, it would be incredibly impressive but all the obits this morning calling him a TV legend, which he certainly was, missed the point of just what Garner’s remarkable acting achievement …
Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s The Tribe is set at a Ukrainian boarding school for the deaf, and its depiction of disenchanted youth features a cast of non-professional, deaf actors. The pic’s narrative unfolds purely through sign language without subtitles, music or voice-over. It won three honors this year in the Cannes sidebar. Drafthouse Films plans a theatrical and digital rollout sometime in 2015.
In the pic, a boy enters a specialized boarding school for the deaf. Alone in this new and unfamiliar place, he must find his way through the school’s hierarchy. Sergey quickly encounters the tribe, a student gang dealing in crime and prostitution. After passing their hazing rituals and being inducted into the group, he takes part in several robberies and begins to work his way up the chain of command to become pimp-protector for two of the girls, who turn tricks at the local truck stop. Finding himself in love with one of them, he ultimately breaks all the unwritten rules of the tribe, with tragic consequences.
The deal was negotiated by Virginie Devesa and Keiko Funato from Alpha Violet and James Emanuel Shapiro and CEO Tim League from Drafthouse.
French New Wave icon Jean-Luc Godard’s 3D Goodbye To Language shared the jury prize this year at Cannes – it was his first win ever at Cannes. Now the experimental pic is getting a U.S. release beginning in October after Kino Lorber acquired all North American rights. It will open first at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and IFC Center in NYC late in the month, followed by a national theatrical rollout on 3D screens; a VOD and 3D Blu-ray release is planned for 2015.
The pic is 69 minutes long and centers on a couple whose relationship breaks down, with the second half taking a dog’s-eye view of the world. Check out the trailer here.
The deal was negotiated between Kino Lorber CEO Richard Lorber and Carole Baraton, head of international sales at Wild Bunch.
Before the screening began at last night’s Hollywood premiere of director Steve James’ Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself, Ebert’s remarkable wife Chaz shared something with the packed crowd of industry notables that her late husband told her as they were embarking on the shooting of the film. “Roger said, ‘Make sure Steve doesn’t make a movie I don’t want to see’,” she laughed. Mission accomplished, but in a cruel stroke of irony for the world’s most famous film critic, he didn’t live to see it completed.
James, best known for his 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams, has made a tough, entertaining, unsentimental and enormously moving film that everyone should want to see. It’s not just about a blue-collar kid from Chicago, who turned into a Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic. It’s mostly an unflinching and unapologetic account of a man determined to keep on keepin’ on after devastating cancer robbed him of his speech and ability to eat but not his mind, his love for movies or, most of all, his love for Chaz, his wife of 20 years who stood by him and kept him going long after others would have given up. “Roger lived his life out loud, even when he lost his physical voice,” she said. Of the movie, which is brutally honest about his illness and never looks away, my wife said, “It’s the greatest love story I have ever seen”. It is that too. Just before rolling the film, Chaz noted that she had an empty chair in the front row at the Arclight that said simply, ‘Reserved for Roger’ because “he told me I’ll always be in the front row cheering you on”.
Magnolia will release the film next week, and though the Academy’s documentary branch often ignores movies about the movies, this one is irresistible. Wouldn’t it be ironic if a movie about a film critic who wrote books called I Hated Hated HATED This Movie and Your Movie Sucks (among many others more positive to the medium) were to win an Oscar? I spotted plenty of Academy voters in the audience last night, including Acad President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.
Adopt Films has acquired all U.S. rights to this year’s Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep. The Turkish drama took the top prize despite its daunting 3-hour, 16-minute run time that even had jury president Jane Campion wondering if she’d need a bathroom break in the middle of the Palais premiere. “But it had such a beautiful rhythm and it just took me in,” Campion said at the post-awards press conference. “Actually I could have sat there for another two hours. It was all very Chekhovian. I could see myself in all of the characters.” Adopt plans a year-end 2014 U.S. release.
Upstart company Saban Films will partner with Roadside Attractions to handle the U.S. theatrical distribution of the Tommy Lee Jones-directed The Homesman, the Western that premiered at Cannes. Jones stars with Hilary Swank, Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter, Hailee Steinfeld, James Spader and Meryl Streep. Saban Films, hatched by Haim Saban, and Roadside Attractions plan to release the film this fall on November 7.
Shooting has just started on Legend, the Working Title period gangster pic that sees Tom Hardy step into dual roles as the infamous Kray twins Ronnie and Reggie. Studiocanal, which is fully financing, nearly sold out on the Brian Helgeland-scripted and directed film in Cannes. Cross Creek has North America on Legend which will go out via Universal through its distribution deal with the studio. Release is expected in late 2015. Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Chazz Palminteri, Tara Fitzgerald and Taron Egerton have also been confirmed in the cast of the film that follows the rise and fall of the notorious London gangsters in the 50s and 60s. It’s based on John Pearson’s book The Profession Of Violence. Check out the versatile Hardy as Reggie and Ronnie:
Equals was one of the hot projects in Cannes with Mister Smith closing over 35 international deals. Already starring Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult, the futuristic love story has added Guy Pearce as shooting gears up for August in Japan and Singapore. Pearce is reteaming with his Breathe In director Drake Doremus who is helming from a script by Moon‘s Nathan Parker. The picture is set in a future society where emotions have been eradicated and the new breed of humans is called Equals. They live peacefully, but when a disease begins activating in its victims everything they thought they’d escaped, they are sent away and never seen again. When Silas (Hoult) is infected, he becomes an outcast, but he notices one person who seems to understand what he’s going through, Nia (Stewart), who is able to hide her emotions. The only way for them to ensure their survival is to escape. Producers are Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer, Ann Ruark, and Jay Stern and Chip Diggins of Route One which is also financing. Exec producers are Mike Pruss, Lee Jea Woo, Choi Pyung Ho and Russell Levine.
As my French fog lifts in the wake of my return from the Cannes Film Festival it’s a good time to look at how it might have impacted the 2014 Oscar race as the calendar turns to June and we have the first big benchmark out of the way. That’s not to say that Cannes is a huge indicator of where this thing will be come Fall when it really heats up, but this is one of the better years I think in terms of Cannes and potential for its ultimate impact on the awards season. Some years are better than others. You might recall in 2011 three films in the official Cannes selection, The Tree Of Life, Midnight In Paris and The Artist all went on to Best Picture nominations with the latter even winning. It’s never too early to speculate.
Sony Pictures Classics (which had Midnight In Paris) certainly seems to think 2014 is going to similarly big so they put out a press release earlier this week touting their triumph on the Cote d’Azur . They held the hot hand this year with a flurry of titles they brought and bought to Croisette. They come out of Cannes very strong with contenders of various stripes across several categories including Best Picture for Foxcatcher and Mr. Turner (with an outside shot for Directors Fortnight entry Whiplash which actually …
The film premiered on the Croisette this month, winning the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard sidebar. Magnolia Pictures has grabbed U.S. rights to Ruben Östlund’s tragicomedy Force Majuere (Turist), which follows a Swedish family’s Alpine ski vacation that goes very wrong. When news of a looming avalanche sends people fleeing, the mother shields her children — but Dad grabs his phone and makes a run for it. When snow settles, a marriage hangs in the balance. The deal was negotiated for Magnolia’s John Von Thaden Dori Begley closed the domestic deal with Olimpia Pont Cháfer of Coproduction Office. No release plans were announced.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Shine International Preps Branded On-Demand Channel; ‘Small Time Gangster’ Heads To Romania; More
Shine International Launching Branded On-Demand Channel
In a first for Shine International, the sales and distribution division of Shine Group is launching a branded on-demand streaming channel. Initially going out in the U.S. via Roku, the channel will offer more than 200 hours of multi-genre programming including The School, Got To Dance, The Magicians, Eternal Law and The Sandhamn Murders. Content is available for free with advertising, or can be rented ad-free.
‘Small Time Gangster’ Heads To Romania As ‘Umbre’
HBO Europe will start production next month in Romania on Umbre, a local version of Australian series Small Time Gangster. The eight-parter is set to air on HBO Romania in early 2015, Film News Europe reports. The dark comedy follows a taxi driver whose side job is working for a Bucharest mobster. After he accidentally kills someone, he can’t extricate himself from the mob. Igor Cobileanski (The Unsaved) is directing from a script by Bogdan Mirica. The original aired on SBS in 2013 and is distributed internationally by DRG Formats.
Despite the tepid expectations going into Cannes, the festival turned out to be prolific with deals. In the latest, Drafthouse Films acquired the U.S. distribution rights to Cedric Jimenez’s period crime thriller La French, starring Jean Dujardin. This was a pre-buy based on an eight minute sizzle reel shown at Cannes. The buzz on that reel also got Jimenez signed by WME. It’s the first collaboration between Gaumont and Drafthouse Films. Alain Goldman and Legende Films produced the pic and Dujardin stars with Gilles Lellouche. Gaumont International head Cecile Gaget and Yohann Comte brokered the deal with Drafthouse’s James Shapiro and Tim League.
La French takes place in the late 1970s in Marseille and is based on the true story of the judge who tried to stop the French Connection, one of the most powerful drug organizations of its time. The film spans Marseille, which was the world capital of drug trafficking and the main supplier of heroin in the U.S., and NYC.
“One of our goals is to get young audiences excited about foreign language film,” says Drafthouse Films founder and CEO Tim League. “We combed the market and devoured the official selections. Nothing excited us more than La French.”
La French was shot on 35mm and will be screened theatrically in select venues in 35mm along with a collection of vintage 35mm classic crime trailers curated by Cedric Jimenez. Drafthouse Films also plans a limited edition VHS release …
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Classics just completed a U.S. rights deal for Salt of the Earth, re-teaming them with Le Pacte, with whom SPC last partnered on The Patience Stone. The film played in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival, where it earned the Un Certain Regard Special Jury Honor. It is directed by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.
Said partners Michael Barker and Tom Bernard: “Sony Pictures Classics is overjoyed to be back in business with the master, Wim Wenders, and to discover the work of Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.” Said Salgado: “Sony Pictures Classics has the legacy of releasing some of the most compelling films of our times. I’m very excited for “The Salt of the Earth” it couldn’t have found a better home in the US.”
“I’m very happy that my long-lasting relation with Sony Pictures Classics can continue now with The Salt of the Earth,” adds Co-Director Wim Wenders.
SPC quietly had an unbelievably prolific festival and has lined its 2014 slate with quality fare. They came to Cannes with the Sundance smash Whiplash, the Bennett Miller-helmed Foxcatcher (which so far seems like the Oscar film to beat), the Mike Leigh-directed Mr. Turner, the Zhang Yimou-directed Coming Home, and the well liked hockey documentary Red Army. While at the festival, SPC acquired Wild Tales, Jimmy’s Hall, Saint Laurent and Leviathan.
It’s all over but the re-runs. The 67th Cannes Film Festival unofficially ended Saturday night with the crowning of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s endless, but admired, Chekovian epic Winter Sleep being crowned with the coveted Palme d’Or. Because French elections fall on Monday the festival decided to end the key competition a day early and leave Sunday to repeats of movies shown earlier, just as they did on Saturday where fortunately I was able to catch up with Winter Sleep just so I would be prepared for its big victory. At 3 hours and 16 minutes it was easily the longest movie in the competition and still managed to prove, just as the three-hour Blue Is The Warmest Color did last year, that length doesn’t matter when it comes to impressing juries. At the post – press conference Jury President Jane Campion said she was worried initially. “I was scared when I looked at the running time and it said three hours and fifteen minutes. I thought I might need a toilet break. But it had such a beautiful rhythm and it just took me in. Actually I could have sit there for another two hours. It was all very Chekhovian. I could see myself in all of the characters,” she said. Another two hours? Don’t encourage him, Jane. Turkish arthouse fave Ceylan has been coming to Cannes for an ego boost for years and …
UPDATE 11:24 AM PT: Before my colleague Pete Hammond weighs in with his analysis of tonight’s winners and comments from the jury, here’s a little bit about what went down at the prize ceremony. There were several emotional moments with Master of Ceremonies Lambert Wilson kicking things off by saying, “The best things have an end. Not films.” He introduced outgoing Cannes Film Festival president Gilles Jacob, who is leaving the organization after joining in 1977. In a fitting turn in his last official capacity, he awarded the Camera d’Or for best first feature and received a standing ovation on his way onto the stage, and as he exited. There were not a lot of dry eyes for the rest of the running, as Best Actor Timothy Spall fought back his own tears, and Xavier Dolan, the enfant terrible of Canadian cinema, accepted his shared Jury Prize for Mommy. This was his first film in the main competition after first coming to Cannes in 2009 with I Killed My Mother in Directors’ Fortnight at the ripe young age of 20. He particularly thanked jury president Jane Campion, telling her that The Piano helped to define his career. There were some surprises, and some films that we expected would win statues. Pete will tell you more in just a bit.
Just as the festival winds down ahead of tonight’s awards ceremony, Cohen Media Group has acquired U.S. rights for Timbuktu, the Competition title directed by Abderrahmane Sissako. The French-Mauritanian film tells the story of the brief occupation of Timbuktu by militant Islamic rebels and has received strong buzz here on the ground. Co-written by Sissako and Kessen Tall, Timbuktu illustrates the fate of a previously free people at the hands of the rebels who attempted to impose religious law on the formerly freewheeling city. Sissako was last in Cannes with the out of competition Bamako in 2006. He won the FIPRESCI prize in 2002 with Un Certain Regard title Waiting For Happiness. The U.S. distribution deal was negotiated by CMG Executive Vice President John Kochman and Camille Néel, head of International Sales for Le Pacte.