Following a relatively new tradition they started a few years ago, The Weinstein Company on Friday night brought together a group of buyers, partners and press to preview its 2013 slate and meet filmmakers and stars. Although Harvey Weinstein never once mentioned the word “Oscar”, you can tell that’s definitely what he is thinking with a diverse mix of prestige projects that should give the awards-happy company lots of campaign fodder for 2013. He said after a rocky start the company has had a very good last four years and for 2012 made more than they ever did at Miramax. He also made a plea to the international audience gathered for the presentation at the Majestic Hotel for the continued independence of European filmmaking, especially in light of problems with the European Cultural Initiative. “We can’t let Europe be the same like the United States. What’s great about European movies is they are different and as long as they reflect their culture there will always be special movies like Amour, which we didn’t release last year, and so many movies like that. So keep your eye on the newspaper when this stuff comes up for votes or things we can do to influence it, I think it’s very important,” he said.
After the 40-minute reel led by the August 16th release The Butler and ending with the long-gestating Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Weinstein told me, “It’s a very eclectic, hard-hitting lineup that I am really proud of. What am I going to say? I feel very confident about this year”. Though he may not have been directly making an Oscar-season pitch (thankfully that’s still many months off even for Harvey — well, maybe not), he did make an overt plea for his official competition entries Only God Forgives and The Immigrant when introducing Cannes jury member Nicole Kidman, star of the December 27th release Grace Of Monaco. “We have a member of the jury with us tonight and she has to go for a jury meeting to hopefully decide which movie of mine wins the Palme d’Or. I have certainly given Steven (jury president Spielberg) enough money over the years,” he said to big laughs. READ MORE »
Canal Plus‘ nightly news program Le Grand Journal, which broadcasts live across from the Martinez Hotel here in Cannes, was interrupted tonight when gunshots were heard in the crowd. Jury members Christoph Waltz and Daniel Auteuil were being interviewed on the set when the incident occurred. The audience and talent on stage quickly evacuated. Grand Journal host Michel Denisot came back on air shortly after to say that Cannes police had taken the perpetrator into custody and that he had shot two blanks into the air as well as having a fake grenade in his possession. According to Le Figaro, the departmental head of public security for the Alpes-Maritimes region said the man was carrying an alarm pistol. There were no injuries. Here’s a video of the interruption:
WWE Studios has appointed former Paramount Pictures and Miramax film executive Julie Tustin as VP Marketing. She will oversee all aspects of marketing, publicity and brand development for the studio and work out of parent company WWE’s Connecticut headquarters. Tustin most recently was SVP Special Marketing Projects at Paramount, and before that led NY-based publicity teams for studio specialty labels Fox Searchlight and Paramount Vantage. She began her career with Miramax Films.
Helped by a full-frills Cannes film festival gala event,The Great Gatsby opened in 27 markets on Thursday including United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Russia and Korea. Together with the 2nd day figures for the French-speaking markets, the tally was $5.4M, putting it on track to become the biggest opening for a Baz Luhrmann film. Spain and several other markets are set to open today. Going into Friday, The Great Gatsby has grossed $66.7M domestic since opening a week ago as Luhrmann’s biggest here.
Mads Mikkelsen, last year’s Cannes best actor winner – and TV’s Hannibal – plays the titular Michael Kohlhaas in the Arnaud des Pallières drama. Chicago-based Music Box Films has acquired all U.S. and Canadian rights in what is the first North American deal on a Competition title since the fest started on Wednesday (Worldwview picked up Jimmy P. ahead of the proceedings). The film is freely adapted from the 1811 Heinrich von Kleist novel which served as the inspiration for E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime. It’s being sold by longtime Michael Haneke collaborator Les Films du Losange, whose chief, Margaret Ménégoz, produced Amour. The story follows a prosperous and honest 16th century horse merchant who falls victim to an injustice and raises an army to restore his rights. Produced by Les Films d’Ici (Waltz With Bashir), the movie sold ahead of its first market screening. This is des Pallières’ first film to secure U.S. distribution. The cast also includes Bruno Ganz, Sergi Lopez and Holy Motors‘ Dennis Lavant. The deal was negotiated by Music Box consultant James Brown and Films du Losange’s Agathe Valentin. Music Box plans a 4th quarter 2013 theatrical release.
Cottage Countryis a dark comedy starring Malin Akerman, Tyler Labine, Daniel Petronijevic and Lucy Punch and directed by Peter Wellington. Victor Elizalde of indie Viva Pictures and Uncork’d Entertainment’s Keith Leopard said today they have acquired U.S. theatrical, VOD, home vid and digital rights while in Cannes. The story centers on Todd (Labine), who wants everything to be just perfect at the family cottage where he plans to propose to Cammie (Akerman). But things go awry with the arrival of Todd’s slacker brother Salinger (Petronijevic) and his free-spirited girlfriend Masha (Punch). When Todd accidentally dispatches his irksome sibling with an axe, Cammie is determined not to let murder stand in the way of their happiness. Read More »
Magnet picked up the found footage thriller set in space back in February and will release the pic on VOD June 27 and in theaters August 2. Europa Report marks Sebastián Cordero’s English-language debut and follows the crew of a spaceship exploring alien life on Jupiter’s fourth moon. Sharlto Copley (District 9) leads an international cast that includes Michael Nyqvist (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), Isiah Whitlock Jr. (The Wire), Christian Camargo (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn), Karolina Wydra (House), Anamaria Marinca (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days), and California-born Hong Kong star Daniel Wu (The Man With The Iron Fists). Check out the trailer:
Radiant Films International has acquired international rights to the comedy drama Wild. Written and directed by Vivienne DeCourcy, the movie stars Ella Greenwell and Tom Hughes. It tells the story of Mary Reynolds, a visionary young garden designer who puts everything on the line in order to compete in the Chelsea Flower show. Hughes stars as Christy, an idealistic environmentalist, whom Mary enlists to help her compete at the Chelsea, the Olympics of gardening. Wild is funded by Green Earth, the Irish Film Board, RTE and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. It will shoot in Ireland and Ethiopia over the coming months. Pic is produced by Treasure Entertainment and Crowe’s Nest in Ireland, together with Green Earth in the US. Rebecca O’Flanagan and Rob Walpole will produce from Treasure, with Sarah Johnson and Chloe Kassis Crowe exec-producing. Jay Cohen from the Gersh Agency is handling U.S. rights. Read More »
Over the course of a busy 15 months, Chinese media mogul Bruno Wu has announced a series of joint ventures and projects with Hollywood and UK partners. His latest announcement is a tie-up with French producer Pierre-Ange Le Pogam (Grace Of Monaco). The pair’s Angel Storm will look to make action-based Euro-Chinese co-productions and franchises. Here’s the release:
Cannes – May 17, 2013 – Bruno Wu’s Seven Stars Entertainment has formed a joint venture with French film mogul and producer Pierre-Ange Le Pogam (Grace of Monaco, Hitman) and his company Stone Angels to form Angel Storm, which will develop and produce action-based European-Chinese co-productions and franchises. The first two projects identified are SHANGHAI, which will start production early next year and TRIANGLE.
2ND UPDATE, 11:45 AM: I hear Alpha House has gotten an official pickup, joining Betas. Alpha House follows four senators (John Goodman, Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy, Mark Consuelos) who live together in a rented house in Washington, DC. Zombieland and Browsers did not make the cut.
UPDATE, 9 AM: Zombieland writer-producer Rhett Reese took to Twitter to blame the series’ pickup fail on Zombieland fans themselves: “I’ll never understand the vehement hate the pilot received from die-hard Zombieland fans. You guys successfully hated it out of existence.”
UPDATE, THURSDAY PM: There will be no Zombieland TV series, at least not on Amazon. The streaming service has passed on the pilot, as well as Browsers, as it continues to narrow down the field. Read More »
London and LA-based Cutting Edge Group invests cash in film music budgets and provides or brokers services for scoring, clearances and music supervision. In exchange, it acquires the music rights and recoups from performance royalties and secondary exploitation sources. Under a new deal with Basil Iwanyk’s Thunder Road, they’re putting a twist on slate financing. Rather than guaranteeing funds as part of a bank closing or acquiring the music rights after a film is complete, CEG is advancing development funds upfront to Thunder Road. Those funds will be secured against the producer’s forthcoming film music slate.
The first film that’s part of the deal is Keanu Reeves action-thriller John Wick, which shoots in September. The slate also includes the Daniel Espinosa-directed Gang Story starring Liam Neeson. CEG has previously invested in such films as The King’s Speech, Drive, Looper and End Of Watch. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: It didn’t take long for Vertical Entertainment to score at Cannes. The newbie indie distributor snapped up U.S. rights to Scenic Route, starring Josh Duhamel (Safe Haven, Transformers) and Dan Fogler (Balls Of Fury, Kung Fu Panda) as road-tripping buddies whose friendship is tested when they’re stranded in the desert. Co-helmers Kevin and Michael Goetz directed from a screenplay by Kyle Killen (The Beaver). The pic first premiered at SXSW. Vertical is planning an August theatrical bow, supplemented by digital/VOD and home video releases. The pick-up aligns with Vertical’s strategy to acquire and release a yearly slate of two dozen $5M-10M genre and family films anchored by name stars. Read More »
It is with a heavy heart that I write to let you know that, following several months of uncertainty, my 26-year run at Warner Bros. has come to an end.
I have had the pleasure of working alongside the most talented, creative and innovative people in our business … from our executives and staff to the amazing group of creative talent both in front of and behind the cameras. Each of your contributions helped Warner Bros. set the standard for excellence in the television industry. The magnitude of what you have accomplished has been and continues to be a truly meaningful contribution to Warner Bros.’ overall success and a matter of great pride to myself.
UPDATE, 9:34 AM: Final American Idol finale numbers are in from Nielsen. While the show remains at an all-time low, it did see an expected adjustment upward. The 8-10:07 PM Idol garnered a 3.6 rating with 14.3 million viewers, which is down 44% in ratings from Season 11′s finale and down 33% in viewership. The show was up 24% from its May 8 episode.
PREVIOUSLY, 8:19 AM: Thursday saw a flurry of finales including American Idol (3.4/11) ending its 12th season with an all-time finale low and The Office closing its doors for good. Declaring a winner from the final two female contestants, the more than two-hour live Idol was down 47% in preliminary ratings from the 6.4/18 final numbers of Season 11’s finale on May 23, 2012. It’s the first Idol finale to have less than 20 million viewers. The show, which went nearly eight minutes over the hour and will likely be adjusted up in the final numbers, pulled in 13.61 million viewers from 8-10:07 PM last night. That’s nearly 8 million viewers less than the 21.5 million who watched last year’s season finale. For the first time ever, the Idol finale wasn’t even the highest-rated show of the night — the Season 6 finale of The Big Bang Theory (4.4/16) topped Thursday. Facing off in the 8-8:30 slot, Idol garnered a 2.8 in adults 18-49 against the CBS geek sitcom. Idol was also way down from the 6.0/16 rating and 17.93 million viewers of the Season 12 premiere on January 16. Thursday’s finale was up 28% in adults 18-49 over last week’s show and saw a bounce from the 11.6 million viewers who watched May 9. With 13.608 millon watching, Fox won Thursday in total viewers and adults 18-49. (See complete list of American Idol finale viewership and ratings numbers below)
UPDATE, FRIDAY AM:Disney confirmed today that last night Iron Man 3 crossed $1B at the worldwide box office and $300M at the domestic box office. The global milestone came on the 23rd day of release around the world, making it the second Marvel Studios film (after The Avengers, which crossed the mark in 19 days) and sixth Disney pic (Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Alice In Wonderland, Toy Story 3, and Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Avengers) to cross that threshold. The domestic mark comes on the 14th day of release and is the ninth studio pic to reach that peak. To date, the pic has grossed $1.008B globally — $698.9M international and $301.9M domestic. It is the 16th highest-grossing film of all-time globally and 11th all-time internationally.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, WEDNESDAY PM: More records breaking for Summer 2013 as may continues to sizzle at the global box office. The Disney/Marvel threequel has only been in theaters for 23 days around the world but already Iron Man 3 is set to cross the $1B mark on Thursday. Its latest cumes are $294.7M domestic and $685.6M international through May 14. That makes it the 16th biggest film ever amid predictions it will finish as the 5th highest grossing film of all time when all theatrical grosses are in. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: John Lesher‘s Le Grisbi Productions is teamed with DCM Productions on The Kings Of Rome, a script that will be written by Don MacPherson. The writer penned the upcoming BBC mini Fleming, detailing the exploits of James Bond creator Ian Fleming during WWII. The drama is about an American investigator sent to Rome to collect a debt. There, he gets sucked into a Dantean underworld of corruption, sex and murder that reaches to the highest echelons of the Vatican. It’s the second pic Lesher is doing with DCM; they are teamed on Harmony Korine’s untitled followup to Spring Breakers. DCM is a Berlin-based production company which co-financed and produced the Dustin Hoffman-directed Quartet, and the Best Foreign Language nomineeKon-Tiki. Lesher’s currently in New York shooting the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed comedy Birdman, and the Guillaume Canet-directed Blood Ties, which is premiering here in Cannes. He’s also producing the David Ayer-directed WWII tank drama Fury that stars Brad Pitt, and is in pre-production on Black Mass, the story of the alliance between Boston mobster Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp) and FBI agent and childhood pal John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) that drove Bulger’s rise to power and helped him escape when he was about to be arrested. Barry Levinson is directing.
Goose’s List LLC has begun production on The List, which it is financing after buying a spec by Harris Goldberg & Kristen D’Alessio. Goldberg is directing and D’Alessio is producing. Shooting is getting underway in Los Angeles, and Patrick Fugit stars with Jennifer Morrison, Karen Gillan, Aaron Staton, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Giles Martini, Jobeth Williams and Victoria Tennant. Pic is a romantic comedy and Fugit (Almost Famous) plays a young man who undertakes the task of fulfilling a self-improvement list to secure the girl of his dreams. The journey triggers a reexamination of his true self, values and perspective on life. Goldberg and D’Alessio have their next two films financed by Goose List and they are developing several TV projects together.
Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline are headed to Sin City in CBS Films’Last Vegas. The comedy sees the four pals hold a bachelor party for the last of the gang to remain single (Douglas). Mary Steenburgen, Jerry Ferrara, Romany Malco and Roger Bart also star. Jon Turteltaub directed the pic from an original screenplay by Dan Fogelman. The domestic release is set for November 1. Check out the teaser trailer:
This is a — and possibly “the” — key question for Big Media investors coming out of the major broadcast and cable networks’ upfront programming presentations this week. As the sales pitches wore on it became clear that execs plan to spare no expense to recover from a year of dreary ratings. There’ll be 25 new programs on the Big Four networks, up from 18 planned this time last year. What’s more, “all of the broadcast networks are moving toward year-round original schedules, less re-runs [and] more frequent ‘mini-events’,” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says. He adds that networks continue to depend on star power — for example CBS landed Robin Williams for its sitcom The Crazy Ones and Turner enlisted off-camera help from Michael Bay (Transformers), Dick Wolf (Law & Order), Howard Gordon (Homeland), Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead), and Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI). “These guys don’t come cheap, and we presume they must participate significantly in the back-end,” Juenger says. Execs no doubt feel confident that their bets will pay off. For example, hit dramas could play well in international syndication. Mini-series also should appeal to streaming services including Netflix and Amazon where subscribers like to binge view.
But domestic advertisers still provide lions’ share of revenues for TV shows. And if networks are optimistic about that market, it has as much to do with whether they believe consumers will buy lots of cars as with the merits of what programmers put on the screen. “Auto represents about 13% of annual TV ad spend and is seen as a pivotal player in this year’s upfront,” says Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible. That may be good news for the networks: Car companies appear to be headed for a big year as the economy improves and consumers take advantage of today’s low interest rates. As a result, Wible says “the tone of the upfront was more in favor of the sellers than we had anticipated” — leading him to forecast “substantial CPM [unit cost] increases that will offset recent ratings losses.” UBS Investment Research’s John Janedis forecasts that cable CPMs will be up as much as 7% with the major broadcasters “slightly better,” although some advertisers will just shift dollars for late this year from the scatter market to the upfront “which will make the total dollars look a little better.” Read More »