BBC Two Preps Musical Telefilm, British Airways Docu
BBC Two has a pair of new projects on deck: a musical TV movie and an inside look at national carrier British Airways. Drama Tubby And Enid will star Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton and Olivier Award winner Michael Ball and is an adaptation of Victoria Wood’s stage play, That Day We Sang. Hilary Bevan Jones’ Endor is producing with shooting to start January 6. The story’s roots are found in the recording of Henry Purcell’s Nymphs And Shepherds as sung by the Manchester Children’s Choir in 1929. Jumping ahead 40 years, it focuses on a reunion of the same choir being filmed for a documentary. Wood writes and will direct. Meanwhile, BBC Two has greenlighted an observational documentary series about British Airways. The three-part series will feature unprecedented access to the airline and promises to be the “most in-depth analysis of British Airways in 25 years.” Lion Television is making the doc for BBC Two.
British And French TV Networks Celebrate Nelson Mandela
British and French networks are turning over time to tributes to Nelson Mandela this weekend. BBC One aired the special Nelson Mandela: The Fight For Freedom on Friday night and also will extend its news coverage. Sky1 aired the special Nelson Mandela: The Struggle Is My Life, while the news division will have presenter Jeremy Thompson live in South Africa from Saturday. I’m also told the funeral service for Mandela, who died Thursday, will be aired live. Channel 4 ran Nelson Mandela Superstar, a celebration of his life and legacy on Friday night local, and at the same time, ITV also aired a special program. In France, pubcaster France Télévisions’ France O and Franco-German channel Arte aired specials and documentaries. National network France 2 has scheduled Clint Eastwood’s Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman in an Oscar-nominated turn as Mandela, to air on Saturday night. Eastwood shot part of that movie in France.
Related: Nelson Mandela’s Death: Hollywood Reacts
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The cast of David O. Russell‘s fictional pic based on the 1970s Abscam scandal will be feted January 4 during an Awards Gala at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. The Ensemble Performance Award celebrates the film’s cast, which includes Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K., Michael Pena and Alessandro Nivola. “David O. Russell has created a viscerally powerful film,” said PSIFF Chairman Harold Matzner. “American Hustle grabs you from the start and is populated by a group of eminently believable characters as brought to life by this brilliant cast.” The festival’s 25th edition runs January 3-13.
OSCARS: ‘American Hustle’ Wows At First Industry Screening
‘American Hustle’ Best Film At New York Film Critics Circle Awards
XBox Entertainment Studios in May ordered its first drama series, Halo, and recently greenlighted its first unscripted series with the street soccer competition Every Street United. Now I’ve learned the company is venturing into comedy with an untitled half-hour project which I hear marks the first script sale to close at xBox. Like Halo and Every Street United, the comedy too is tied to gaming, which is xBox’s core business. Written by Ian Edelman, the untitled single-comedy is about four racially diverse, ex pro skaters living together in a Los Angeles. Skate boarding is big in sports video games as is soccer. And Halo, of course, is based on the popular video game. Edelman, repped by UTA, 3 Arts and Ken Richman, serves as showrunner on the comedy, with WME-repped Rob Drydek executive producing.
BOX OFFICE THUMBNAIL: Out of the Furnace (wide after opening Wednesday in four theaters) looks weak. Inside Llewyn Davis (opened limited in four) is very strong. Thor: The Dark World surpasses $600 million this past week. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen both headed to $30 million weekends.
This is my first week back reporting on the movie business after a years-long hiatus. There are new execs, the business models have changed (foreign box office has grown in importance, what we used to call the ancillary marketplace – future revenue streams – is different), and as one producer noted, P&A costs now really should be called something else since the rise of digital … so maybe, marketing and distribution costs (M&D). But overall, the game around town is pretty much the same — and that includes box office. But no matter all the jockeying, guesstimating and manipulating, the game of whether a picture beat or didn’t beat expectations (which is all about whether the tracking numbers are good or not), all that matters at the end of the day for a film is the final revenue numbers all totaled.
Related: Deadline Advisory: Anita Busch Taking Over Box Office Beat
Behind the scenes, the business has grown a little more sophisticated – or less, depending on your viewpoint – in that distributors now like to offer written “talking points” to journalists (all off the record, of course) to better guide them in their reporting. To those of you who haven’t heard of them, “talking points” are what PR people put together for their clients (executives, talent) to keep them on point and focused to push what the distributor thinks is most important: managing perceptions.
So budget numbers will be fudged and M&D costs will be muddied — all in the hope of hiding the perceived failures or real failures at the box office and to make films look more successful than they are. The domestic box office is one revenue stream and certainly the best bet at recouping your production and M&D costs, but it is not the final factor. 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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All those Kickstarter contributors to Warner Bros‘ Veronica Mars movie will be able to reap their rewards now that the studio has confirmed the worst-kept secret in town: the pic has been given a March 14, 2014 release date in select cities. (It means most backers will get a copy of the shooting script on release day while the slightly more deep-pocketing funders will get digital copies of the movie in the mail following opening day.) The film’s website scooped the studio by announcing the date on social media outlets Wednesday. In all, the pic’s crowdfunding campaign raised its target total in 10 hours back in April with donations from 91, 585 people totaling $5.7 million.
Listen to (and share) episode 62 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s financial editor talks with host David Bloom about growing interest in some corners of Washington D.C. about crafting new communications policies for the Internet age; AMC’s best concession deal in decades with a stock deal for its customers; a report that suggests breaking up the pay-TV bundle would “devastate” consumers and the oligopoly that dominates the industry; and new government efforts to measure the economy that say the country’s creative industries generated $915 billion in 2011, and what that might mean for new policies for Hollywood.
Deadline Big Media podcast 62 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Big Media podcast 62 (.M4A version) Read More »
She’s a triple threat. She writes. She directs. And of course she acts. But as she explained to a packed audience of AMPAS and Guild members on the Sony Pictures Classics panel at Deadline’s THE CONTENDERS event Julie Delpy has never quite done anything as stressful or intense as the trilogy of films that began with Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004) and now has produced Before Midnight, one of the few critical favorites from the first six months of 2013. She wrote all three films with her director Richard Linklater and co-star Ethan Hawke and now is being widely buzzed for not only her performance which just won her a Lead Actress nomination at the Independent Spirit Awards but also for the script which is among top contenders for a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination. Still she says none of it is easy and it’s all on the page as well as the screen.
The legal battle over who actually wrote the 2012 Clint Eastwood-Amy Adams baseball pic Trouble With The Curve today hit fastball territory. Just a couple of days after Warner Bros threw back in a motion to have Ryan A. Brooks and Gold Glove Productions’ multimillion dollar copyright infringement case against them tossed, the plaintiffs are now seeking a summary judgment of their own. “While often the issues related to these types of claims of copyright infringement raise factual issues requiring a full trial, the evidence presented herein as relates to these specific claims of intentional infringement weighs so heavily in favor of such a finding that it can fairly be said that no reasonable juror could find to the contrary,” says the motion filed today in federal court in LA (read it here). Along with the motion, the plaintiffs filed a number of declarations today asserting their case. Among other things, the declaration from Brooks (read it here) notes that it was an October 5, 2011 piece by my colleague Mike Fleming Jr on Eastwood joining a project called Trouble With The Curve that alerted him to the film and its supposed similarity to the scripts that he owned. Eastwood is not named as defendant in the the initial October 1 12-claim filing but WB, UTA, Gersh, director Robert Lorenz, screenwriter Randy Brown and Eastwood’s Malpaso Productions … Read More »
The freshman season of Fox comedy Dads will consist of 19 episodes, three fewer than full-season 22. The network gave the live-action sitcom a back order in October, but the exact number was fuzzy. It now has been set at 6. The reduced pickup is understandable given the fact that Dads will air its last original episodes February 4 and 11 before getting off to make room for Glee. The series’ long-term prospects remain undetermined but not bright.
Related: Decent Openings For ‘Dads’, ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’; ‘Mindy’ Down
As part of the October deal that saw FilmDistrict being absorbed into Focus Features, the latter has taken over distribution of two more titles and announced a new release date for one of them. The sci-fi thriller Selfless, starring Ryan Reynolds, originally had been set for September 2014 but now will go out wide on February 27, 2015. The Tarsem-directed pic from writers Alex and David Pastor has that weekend to itself for now. It centers on a terminally ill billionaire who buys a chance for eternal life through an experimental underground medical procedure. Focus also will handle the Zac Efron flick That Awkward Moment, which was retitled from Are We Officially Dating? a few months ago. Its release date remains January 31. Focus said last month that it will release the former FilmDistrict title Insidious: Chapter 3 in April 2015.
Related: Reshuffled Focus Features Sets New Exec Lineup
ANALYSIS: The appointment of Michael De Luca to share production president duties with Hannah Minghella at Sony Pictures has taken the town by surprise. Insiders on the lot see an improved structure that could position the studio to up the level of quality as it follow through on its mandate to take big swings for global hits. The way the new structure will work is, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group chairman Amy Pascal and Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad will focus on the studio as a whole, including administrative endeavors, and Minghella and De Luca will concentrate on building the film slates.
Related: Sony Taps Michael De Luca As Columbia Production President
Many in town have expressed surprise that De Luca would make such a move at this moment, and not just because he’s most identified with smart and edgy filmmaker-driven films and not the tentpoles that increasingly account for studio slates. They are surprised that, after transitioning from a fabled run as wunderkind production chief at New Line (and a stint at DreamWorks) to become producer, De Luca has built enviable momentum: hits include Sony’s Oscar hopeful Captain Phillips, The Social Network and Moneyball, and De Luca is in the middle of Universal/Focus’s adaptation of the EL James publishing sensation Fifty Shades Of Grey. There are dozens of other promising projects percolating. “There is no way a guy with that hot a hand is going to take that job and probably a pay cut to report to Belgrad unless there is some eventual succession plan,” barked one rival exec.
Related: Q&A With ‘Social Network’s Mike De Luca
Plenty of turbulence has occurred at Sony these past few months leading up to the recent investor meeting, but insiders tell me this structure is not viewed as a short-term solution, and they say no other shoes will be dropping. They say this move will strengthen the studio in several ways. Most important is De Luca’s value as an executive; I have gotten to know him very well, as we spent over a year working on a book about his professional and personal coming-of-age years at New Line. We shelved the project at Mike’s request, so I’m not uncomfortable writing about him here. But what I observed that the above exec is unaware of is just how much De Luca loved being an executive. Read More »
In Legendary Television & Digital‘s first major producing deal, the company has signed a multi-year pact with Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld’s Red Hour Films. The company’s TV development will continue to be run by Red Hour president Debbie Liebling, while Red Hour Director of Digital Mike Rosenstein oversees digital. “All of us at Legendary are thrilled to be working with Ben, Stuart and their Red Hour team,” Legendary TV & Digital president Bruce Rosenblum said. “Their comedic programming is broadly appealing, yet fulfills the edginess and irreverence that is so on brand for Legendary.” At Legendary, Red Hour’s development will be overseen by Tom Lesinski, President of Legendary Digital Media, on the digital side and Peter Johnson, EVP Scripted Entertainment, in the TV side. “We are very excited to partner with Legendary, though I am a little concerned that Bruce called me ‘Mr. Affleck’ when discussing the deal on the phone,” Stiller said. “Hopefully, he won’t realize he got the other Ben till after the papers are signed.”
Red Hour Films most recently had a TV deal at ABC Studios for the past two years where is developed and sold a slew of projects. Red Hour also recently received series pickups for Birthday Boys at IFC and The Meltdown With Jonah And Kumail at Comedy Central.
Red Hour’s digital deal will kick in when the company’s current pact … Read More »
Walt Disney Studios and Paramount Pictures said today that they’ve reached a marketing and distribution deal for the Indiana Jones franchise. Among other things, this agreement removes the last hurdle for Disney in moving forward with future Indiana Jones movies, which the company acquired when it purchased Lucasfilm in a multibillion-dollar deal late last year. The new deal gives Disney marketing and distribution rights to future films as well as retaining Lucasfilm’s ownership rights — which basically means they’ve got the whole shebang now. Paramount, on the other hand, isn’t left in the cold: The studio will continue to have distribution rights to the first four films. While details of the deal are unknown, Paramount also will receive financial rewards on any future Indiana Jones films that are produced and released by Disney. Moving ahead with a new Star Wars movie coming out in December 2015 and with two more in the pipeline, the studio has not confirmed that a fifth Indiana Jones has the green light. However, with today’s news and star Harrison Ford’s previous expressed interest in returning to the role, one would have to say it’s looking likely.
The drama is not being renewed, making official its cancellation after one low-rated season. Low Winter Sun, which wrapped its 10-episode run in September, marks just the second AMC scripted drama not to receive a season-season order, following 2010′s Rubicon. The co-production between Endemol Studios and AMC Studios was based on the two-part 2006 British miniseries that starred Mark Strong, who reprised his role in the U.S. redo. Chris Mundy was written and executive produced by Chris Mundy. AMC liked what it saw originally, picking it up to pilot in May 2012 and ordering it to series that December. But after drawing 2.5 million viewers in its series premiere in August following the the first of Breaking Bad‘s final eight episodes, the ratings dropped off. Today’s news comes a couple of weeks after AMC renewed its Western drama Hell On Wheels for a fourth season and 13 episodes. It also has two new dramas in the works: Turn and Halt & Catch Fire.
Fans of Ichabod Crane will get a double dose of Fox’s Sleepy Hollow on January 20. The network said today that the freshman supernatural drama will expand to two hours on the date starting at 8 PM. That means the official Season 2 premiere of The Following will shift out of its previously set slot to 9 PM January 27. The hit Kevin Bacon series will still preview January 19 in the prized slot following the NFC Championship Game as Fox originally designed. The original schedule had Sleepy Hollow moved out of its regular 9 PM slot to an 8 PM finale for The Following to take over the time period. Sleepy Hollow’s last original of the year is December 10 at it was scheduled to come back with originals on January 6. Now return on January 13 to allow for the double-up on January 20.
EXCLUSIVE: Juliette Binoche, James Brolin, and Oscar Nunez have joined Antonio Banderas in the Chilean miners movie The 33, which is based on the true events of the collapsed Copiapo copper mine and the 33 miners who remained trapped more than 2,000 feet underground. The 2010 news story captured worldwide media attention. Rounding out the cast are Kate Del Castillo (Weeds) Lou Diamond Phillips, Mario Casas, Juan Pablo Raba, Tenoch Huerta, Jacob Vargas, Marco Trevino and Alejandro Goic. Binoche replaces Jennifer Lopez in the strong female role, after Lopez dropped out in September due to scheduling conflicts after rejoining Fox’s American Idol.
Mike Medavoy secured the miners’ exclusive life rights last year and developed the project in collaboration with the men, their rescuers and their families. He will produce along with Robert Katz and Edward McGurn. Patricia Riggen (La Misma Luna, Girl In Progress) will direct. Carlos Eugenio Lavin and Leopoldo Enriquez are exec producing. The film is being shot on location in Bogata and surrounding areas with 50% of the production to be shot in Chile. It’s interesting to note that visual effects will be overseen by Ben Grossman, who won an Oscar for Hugo. Read More »
The retailer’s stock closed -12% today after it disclosed in an SEC filing that the agency is investigating two matters involving the company’s recent financial reports. On October 16 the SEC’s New York regional office told Barnes and Noble that it’s looking at a company earnings restatement in July. In addition, the SEC is curious about a charge by a “former non-executive employee” that some Information Technology expenses had been ”improperly allocated” between the Nook and Retail segments. “The Company is cooperating with the SEC, including responding to requests for documents,” Barnes and Noble says in the filing. Did the chain lose $117M of its market value today just because of an investigation? Probably not. Many investors have also become pessimistic about the number of Nook tablets and e-readers that Barnes and Noble will sell this holiday season — especially after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos attracted so much attention on 60 Minutes last week when he disclosed his experiments with delivery drones. “If you’re looking for an excuse” to sell B&N shares, then the SEC investigation “is the perfect one,” says Maxim Group analyst John Tinker.