EXCLUSIVE: In its second significant deal at Cannes, Radius-TWC acquired North American rights to Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut Man Of Tai Chi in a low seven-figure minimum guarantee. The film is set in modern Beijing and follows the spiritual journey of a young martial artist (Tiger Hu Chen) whose unparalleled Tai Chi skills land him in a highly lucrative underworld fight club. As the fights grow tougher, he must compromise his own beliefs in order to survive. This is the second deal for Radius, which on Saturday acquired the Directors Fornight film Blue Ruin. TWC-Radius also has the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed Only God Forgives playing here at Cannes, with Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas starring.
Reeves, who also stars in the film, met Chen during The Matrix, where Chen was a stuntman and a trainer for Reeves. It’s Chen’s first lead role, and the film also stars international action fixtures like The Raid’s Iko Uwais and Jeremy Marinas. Michael G. Cooney wrote the script and Man Of Tai Chi is a co-production between China Film Group, Wanda Media, Village Roadshow Pictures Asia and Universal Pictures. Lemore Syvan is the producer.
Radius will release the film in the fourth quarter of 2013. Co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego confirmed the deal to Deadline, and issued this statement: “Keanu has done a terrific job with Man Of Tai Chi, which features some of the most kick ass fight scenes we’ve seen in a long time. Tiger Chen, Iko Uwais and a whole ensemble of hard hitting badasses deliver the goods.”
Said Reeves: “I could not hope for a better home than Radius-TWC for Man Of Tai Chi. Their passion, understanding and support of the film is what a filmmaker wishes for in bringing their storytelling to the widest possible audience.” Deal was made by Weinstein Company COO David Glasser and Quinn and Janego, who all negotiated the deal with CAA.
EXCLUSIVE: The Toronto International Film Festival has set the Godfrey Reggio-directed Visitors to have its world premiere at the festival on September 8, in a most splashy manner. The film has an original score by Philip and it is being presented by Steven Soderbergh. While that filmmaker is stepping away from directing features, he’s not done backing them and has been a big supporter of Reggio’s work since Koyaanisqatsi 30 years ago. The Toronto premiere will be presented in 4K digital projection and live accompaniment by members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Michael Riesman. The premiere will be held that Sunday at 6pm at the Visa Screening Room at the Elgin Theatre.
Said TIFF Director and CEO Piers Handling: “Reggio’s Visitors is a poignant, powerful film. Coupled with live performance by 65 Members of the TSO, this event is an opportunity for Toronto audiences to be moved and to experience film in a whole new way.”
Of his involvement, Soderbergh told me: “I was a producer on the last Qatsi film but had lost touch with Godfrey and out of the blue I emailed his producer, Lawrence Taub. He told me they were in the last stages of cutting his new movie. They brought me out to Red Hook in Brooklyn to show it to me. I loved it and said, ‘What can I do to help, what do … Read More »
The Cannes Film Festival is over for me, and when I come to a place like this, I find myself asking, where are the next stars coming from? Between Fruitvale Station’s Michael B. Jordan and writer/director Ryan Coogler, and Inside Llewyn Davis’ Oscar Isaac, I feel like I got three answers to that question over the course of a weekend.
I come to Cannes primarily to chase deal stories, as I do in Toronto and Sundance. At those other two, the threat of transactions leaves me confined to a hotel room waiting for action. The sporadic action here allowed me see movies and stroll down a rain-soaked Croisette. The drivers here are entirely dangerous in their tiny cars; one driver trying to turn came so close to plowing into my leg that I had to pound his hood with my fist (luckily I didn’t damage my typing finger, which would have cut my output in half). I also made time to see movies including Fruitvale Station, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Behind the Candelabra. While Steven Soderbergh ends the movie making part of his movie career 24 years after it began here when he won Palm d’Or in 1989 for sex lies & videotape, the road is just beginning for Jordan, Coogler and Isaac. Based on the films I saw here, each has a long drive ahead. I … Read More »
Liberty Global has put its TV channels unit on the block. The Wall Street Journal reports that John Malone’s international cable business is seeking for $800M-$1B for Chellomedia, which produces and distributes TV channels in a variety of genres including sports, movies and cooking to roughly 390 million households. The division’s reach in Latin America, Eastern Europe and elsewhere has growth potential and should draw suitors. Chellomedia’s revenue last year was $514 million, from sales to Liberty Global operators as well as third parties.
HBO In Content Deal With Amedia In Russia
HBO has inked a distribution deal with Russia’s Amedia, which produces TV series, telefilms and other programming. The 11-year-old company will offer HBO fare and other premium TV content from additional U.S. and international studios. The 5-year pact includes past and current seasons of HBO series and gives Amedia access to HBO’s future productions over the lifetime of the deal.
The final trailer before the Superman reboot takes flight has hit the web. General Zod issues an ominous message for us Earthlings: “Your world has sheltered one of my citizens. … To those of you who know his location, the fate of your planet rests in your hands.” Legendary’s Man Of Steel — directed by Zack Snyder and starring Henry Cavill in the cape, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, and Michael Shannon as Zod — opens June 12 via Warner Bros. Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne and Russell Crowe co-star. Check it out:
EXCLUSIVE: Grimm co-creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf have signed a new overall deal with Universal TV. Under the pact, the writing partners will continue as executive producers on the NBC drama, produced by Universal TV and Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner’s Hazy Mills. Grimm, which Greenwalt and Kouf co-created with Stephen Carpenter, was recently picked up for a third season with an early renewal. Grimm, inspired by the classic Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales, has been an unsung hero at NBC. It is the only series from the 2011-12 season, the first overseen by NBC’s current regime, to make it to season 3. A rare success story on Friday, Grimm is the night’s No.1 series in adults 18-49. Its most recent second season (6.9 million viewers, 2.4 in 18-49 in Live+7) was up 14% in 18-49 and 12% in total viewers vs. Season 1. Greenwalt and Kouf exec produce the series with Hayes, Milliner and Norberto Barba.Read More »
Cupid’s annual arrow barrage will suit Hollywood just fine next year: Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday in 2014, and Universal today slotted its remake of Endless Love for that ultimate date night. The drama stars Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde in the roles played by Martin Hewitt and Brooke Shields in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1981 film. The Shana Feste-helmed update will have a third wheel on its opening weekend in the form of another ’80s remake, Sony/Screen Gems’ About Last Night. Fox also will target couples-fueled cash will its sci-fi thriller The Maze Runner while the Weinstein Company deploys its franchise-hopeful Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters. Read More »
The fallout from Digital Domain Media Group’s bankruptcy continues with investors in the troubled special effects and 3D conversion firm taking the former CEO, the company’s auditors and other executives to court for fraud. Having lost millions in the James Cameron-founded company just before it went under last September, Iroquois Master Fund and Kingsbrook Opportunities Master Fund late last week filed a six claim complaint (read it here) against John Textor, his wife Deborah, various DDMG directors and auditors SingerLewak LLP. The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages as well as interest, legal fees and “such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.” The complaint in New York State Supreme Court alleges common law fraud, aiding and abetting fraud, negligent misrepresentations and omissions, negligence, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and civil conspiracy. Read More »
Rachael Harris has signed with ICM Partners. She was with UTA. Harris most recently starred opposite David Spade in the ABC comedy pilot Bad Management, which remains in serious contention for a series pickup. She also recurs on USA drama Suits and did an arc on Fox comedy New Girl. On the feature side, Harris is probably best known for role as Ed Helms’ girlfriend in The Hangover. She also starred in the indie Natural Selection, earning an Independent Spirit Award nomination, as well as the Diary of A Wimpy Kid trilogy. She next will be seen in the Yahoo! comedy series We Need Help opposite Cheryl Hines. Harris is managed by Principato Young Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: Writer-producers Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts have inked a new two-year overall deal with ABC Studios where they have been since 2010. At the studio, the duo served as executive producers on ABC’s medical drama Off The Map, as executive producers/showrunners on ABC’s GCB and most recently as consulting producers on another soapy ABC series, Revenge, this past season. Under the new pact, Berg and Harberts will serve as executive producers on the upcoming third season of Revenge, which is undergoing a showrunner transition, with executive producer Sunil Nayar replacing creator Mike Kelley.
ICM Partners-repped Berg and Harberts previously served as executive producers/co-showrunners on the NBC medical drama Mercy, as co-exec producers on the ABC dramedy Pushing Daisies and created/executive produced the WB dramedy Pepper Dennis.
EXCLUSIVE:Fox has snapped up life rights for the true crime project Narc, based on the actual story of an All-American college kid-turned-police informant. Zac Efron is attached to star as a student, frat president, and lacrosse team captain who’s busted for drugs intended for a party, then secretly turns narc and helps the cops bust criminals while carrying on his BMOC campus life. Efron’s manager and producing partner Jason Barrett will exec produce with Underground-repped Doug Banker. They’ve got a familiar friend in Fox exec Jason Young, who briefly departed the studio to help Efron establish Ninjas Runnin’ Wild in 2010 before returning as Fox’s VP of Production. Read More »
Disney Channel is not backlash intolerant. After catching flak over an episode of its sophomore comedy Jessie that made fun of a young character’s gluten intolerance in two scenes, the cable outlet has offered a mea culpa — apologizing and pulling the half-hour titled “Quitting Cold Koala.” “We are removing this particular episode from our regular programming schedule and will re-evaluate its references to gluten restrictions in the character’s diet,” Disney Channel said on Facebook. “Please accept our apologies for the upset this episode caused you and your family.”
Nashville became the only ABC freshman drama to get a renewal after spending most of the spring on the bubble. And now that Season 2 is a go, the show will undergo some changes. For now, they appear to be limited to the production/post-production areas. Line producer Loucas George, who ran the operation on the ground in Nashville, where the series is filmed, announced on Twitter shortly after the renewal 10 days ago that his contract had not been renewed. That also applies to his team, including production supervisor Don Bensko, as the new line producer is expected to bring in his/her crew.
Changes on Nashville were expected following a rocky freshman season, with the show going through growing pains and struggling with its creative direction as well as the ratings. I’ve reported accounts of tension between co-producers ABC Studios and Lionsgate and other behind-the-scene issues, including star Connie Britton being unhappy with the experience. In an editorial for The Santa Clarita News, Bensko’s wife Micaela, lamenting the decision not to pick up her husband’s option, spoke about “14-20 hour days with an unrelenting schedule due to issues beyond their control” and “a string of endless and exhausting shoot days” as “a string of delayed scripts and tripping storylines kept everyone on edge.” She also recounted an on-set accident, in which “one of our crew lost his footing while rigging for a huge arena … Read More »
Strong showings from veterans NCIS and The Big Bang Theory, sporting events like the NCAA Tournament and The Masters plus airing the Super Bowl this year, put CBS on top for the season in both viewers and among adults 18-49 for the first time since 1991-1992. With just a couple of days until the season wraps, that breaks Fox’s eight consecutive season hold on the prized demo.
There were a numbers of factors that contributed to Fox slipping into second place among adults 18-49 but certainly the network was plagued by a sharp more than 20% decline for American Idol, which hit an all time finale low last week. Add to that disappointing X-Factor season 2 numbers, Mob Doctor cratering, a lack of traction among its comedies, a lackluster baseball post-season and plethora of preemptions in the fall and Fox was lucky it was muscular enough to only tumble to second place. For all that change, some things have stayed the same. This season is the second year in a row that sees ABC in the fourth place spot despite a second-season … Read More »
Listen to (and share) the latest episode from the Cannes Film Festival of our audio podcast Deadline Festivals & Markets Watch, featuring Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione. She talks with host David Bloom about which distributors and projects are making a splash so far; whether Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut, with considerable Chinese backing, can move beyond China to a worldwide hit; how a film starring Sean Penn managed to sell its international rights even before it has been shot; and the crime wave hitting the Croisette.
EXCLUSIVE: Mike Lobell, the veteran producer whose 14-years of persistence helped make the remake Gambit happen, is getting close on three other projects with strong elements. He has re-teamed with former partner, writer-director Andrew Bergman, on A Film By Alan Stuart Eisner, an ensemble comedy which so far has Project X‘s Oliver Cooper, Shirley MacLaine and Robin Williams attached, with Rob Reiner making a cameo. Lobell reports that the film has added Sienna Miller, Isla Fisher and Audra MacDonald. Eisner is a comedy dealing with a young man making a documentary to learn what happened to his family during WWII. He is out looking for financing.
Gambit, by the way, ended up with Michael Hoffman directing a script by Joel and Ethan Coen. Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz and Alan Rickman star and CBS Films releases October 12.
At the same time, Lobell is getting traction on This Man This Woman, the adult love story written by Frederic Raphael. The project has gotten a boost with the attachment of Richard Gere, who long ago sparked to a film which focuses on the trials and tribulations of a marriage. This was the picture that once nearly went into production with Meg Ryan and Sean Penn. Lobell and Gere will now look for a director and their female lead. Read More »
Dennis Lehane will adapt Travis McGee for Fox and Appian Way, based on 1964′s The Deep Blue Good-By and 20 subsequent novels by John D. MacDonald. Leonardo DiCaprio is producing with an eye to star. The project previously had Paul Greengrass and Oliver Stone circling to direct.
LOS ANGELES, May 21, 2013 – Veteran research executive Julie Piepenkotter has been promoted to Executive Vice President of Research for FX Networks, it was announced today by FX Networks President and General Manager John Landgraf, to whom she will continue to report. In her new role, Piepenkotter will oversee all facets of program and consumer research for FX, FXM and the new network, FXX, which will debut on September 2. Based in Los Angeles, Piepenkotter joined FX as Senior Vice President, Research in 2009. During her tenure at the Network, she has overseen all aspects of program and consumer research for FX and Fox Movie Channel. She also worked with Fox National Cable Networks on special research projects. Prior to joining FX Networks, Piepenkotter spent 20 years working at The Walt Disney Company, most recently as Senior Vice President of Research for the Disney ABC Television Group in charge of program research for ABC Family, SOAPnet and consumer insights across the Disney ABC television portfolio. She began her career as a media buyer and planner with The Leo Burnett Company in Chicago.