Adopt Acquires Hit Croatian Comedy
Adopt Films has taken all U.S. rights to Croatian comedy The Priest’s Children. The Vinko Brešan-directed movie premiered at Karlovy Vary and has become the 3rd highest-grossing Croatian film in the country since it achieved independence in the 1990s. A pastiche about the slightly unethical fashion in which an idealistic young priest addresses the declining birth rate among his flock on a magically beautiful Crotian island is reminiscent of 1983’s Scotland-set Local Hero. It stars Krešimir Mikić, Zdenko Botic, Nikša Butijer, Drazen Kuhn and Marija Škaričič. Producer is Ivan Maloča for Interfilm Produkcija and Zillion Film. It was written (and scored) by Mate Matišić, based on his play. Adopt acquired the film from Paris-based Wide Management.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Adopt Acquires ‘Priest’s Children’; Bollywood Curtails Foreign Shoots; Content Media; More
Adopt Acquires Hit Croatian Comedy
EXCLUSIVE: Ang Lee, who won the Oscar for directing Life Of Pi, will next take his 3D camera technology in a new intriguing direction. I’ve learned that Lee has set up his next project at Universal Pictures, and it’s described to me as an epic look at the boxing world of the 1960s and 1970s, as seen through the prism of its biggest rivalries and greatest fights. That will include the showdown between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali that was called the Thrilla In Manila. Peter Morgan will write the script.
The movie will have a narrative that connects the 3D depiction of some of boxing’s great fights, and Lee will produce the film with his longtime producing partner James Schamus. Schamus, who is CEO of Universal-based Focus Features, has collaborated in a writing/producing capacity with Lee on films that range from Eat Drink Man Woman to Sense And Sensibility, The Ice Storm, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hulk and Brokeback Mountain. No one was commenting, so it was difficult to discern the narrative structure behind the movie, but as a guy who grew up in this era, I think there is thrilling potential in watching Lee get his 3D cameras in the boxing ring, focused on the sport’s great fights from a heyday when everybody knew who was champ, when Ali, Frazer, George Foreman, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, …
UPDATE 4:15 PM: Here is Ang Lee’s statement about his departure from Tyrant.
It is one of the most brilliant ideas for a series that I’ve seen and one about which I was very excited.
However, after spending over four years making and promoting Life Of Pi, I have recently realized that I need some rest .
Because I cannot give 100% to this exciting project at this time, I cannot allow myself to do anything that may affect the potential for this exciting new series.
I wish FOX 21 and FX the best with this remarkable project.
EXCLUSIVE 2:50 PM: Oscar-winning director Ang Lee has pulled out of directing high-profile FX drama pilot Tyrant, from Homeland executive producers Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff and Six Feet Under alum Craig Wright. Lee committed to Tyrant shortly after winning a second directing Oscar (and third overall) for Life Of Pi. But after 4 1/2 years devoted to making Life Of Pi, a year to promote it and another six months of Oscar campaigning, I hear Lee felt he didn’t have gas left in the tank. Additionally, he had made other previous commitments including his current role as a juror at the Cannes Film Festival. I hear Lee called Gordon this morning from Cannes. In a very emotional …
Hammond On Cannes: Jury Takes Center Stage As Oscar Rivals Steven Spielberg And Ang Lee ”Worship” Each Other
Once rivals for Oscar in February and now fellow jurors in Cannes, Ang Lee called Steven Spielberg his “hero” as Spielberg praised Lee’s Life Of Pi, which won Best Director over Lincoln. This mutual lovefest took place as the jury for the 66th Cannes Film Festival was introduced to the world’s press this afternoon. Spielberg, who said he hasn’t served on any festival jury since 1974 (the beginning of his feature film career) is President and has been asked many times but said the timing was finally right. “I’ve been so consistently at work, especially in the spring months directing, that every time I’ve been approached to be on the jury I’ve been working so I suddenly found myself with an open year, and so that’s why this all came together this year. I am honored I was invited,” he said. Spielberg has been to Cannes many times before with films like E.T. and most recently, Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.
Asked about being on the Cannes panel with Spielberg after defeating him for the Oscar almost three months ago Lee said, “Steven and I are good friends. I worship him. I don’t know how he looks at me, but I worship him. I don’t think any result would change how I feel about him or even myself. He’s my hero.” Spielberg responding seemed at a loss for words. “I don’t know how to answer that, except to say Ang and I have been friends for a long time and we’ve never ever been competitors, we’ve always been colleagues and that will just contiinue. And certainly I worship Life Of Pi and therefore I worship Ang Lee as well.”
The jury for the 66th Cannes Film Festival is heavy on owners of various little gold statues. Previously announced as president is Oscar winner Steven Spielberg. Joining him will be this year’s Best Director Academy Award winner Ang Lee – who competed against Spielberg in the category in February. Also aboard are double Oscar winner and Cannes Best Actor winner Christoph Waltz and Nicole Kidman, a Best Actress Oscar winner for The Hours. French actor Daniel Auteuil, is also a jury member. He won the Best Actor prize at the festival for The Eighth Day in 1996. Romanian director and Palme d’Or winner for Four Months, Three Weeks And Two Days, Cristian Mungiu, will return to Cannes after winning the screenwriting prize last year for Beyond The Hills. Rounding out the panel are Japanese director Naomi Kawase, a four time Cannes habituée who won the Camera d’Or for her first film Suzaku in 1997 and the Grand Prize for 2007′s The Mourning Forest; British director Lynne Ramsay, last in Cannes with We Need To Talk About Kevin in 2011 and there this year with a short in Directors’ Fortnight; and Indian actress Vidya Balan who also makes an appearance in the special gala screening Bombay Talkies as the festival celebrates 100 years of Bollywood cinema.
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage
Life Of Pi helmer Ang Lee caused controversy last month when he failed to thank the film’s VFX artists – including those at the troubled Rhythm & Hues – during his acceptance speech for the Best Director Oscar. Today, the director topped the bill at the opening of the 3D Creative Summit in London, appearing via satellite to discuss the visual work done on Pi.
The film’s VFX consultant David Conley presented the audience with a breakdown of the visual effects wizardry featured in two extended Pi sequences, as it pertained to the film’s use of 3D. But Lee, who praised the detail of Conley’s presentation, stuck to discussing the third dimension alone. Speaking of the cost of visual effects, he said he had feared that the economic reality of Pi would not match the artistic demands of realizing it. “It would be like the number Pi: it keeps on going and makes no sense.” 3D, then, was a way to keep the budget manageable. It added a level of authenticity that allowed him to downplay the VFX. “It gives volume. It picks up so much information and gives realism.” He added that the film’s most famous creation, the CG tiger Richard Parker, was rendered more believable because it was presented in 3D.
EXCLUSIVE: Deadline scooped the news today that Safety Not Guaranteed helmer Colin Trevorrow landed the plum gig of Jurassic Park 4, a move which could catapult him to the director A-list. There is a lot of movement going on among directors that will reverberate depending on who takes what job.
First up, Steven Spielberg has ended his long flirtation with directing Gods And Kings, the epic-sized Warner Bros film about life of Moses based on the script by Michael Green and Stuart Hazeldine. That puts Warner Bros in a bind because of the rival Moses project, the Adam Cooper/Bill Collage-scripted Exodus, which is gathering steam at Fox, with Ridley Scott looking to mobilize that as soon as he completes The Counselor. But Warner Bros is now out to Ang Lee, who just won the Best Director Oscar for Life Of Pi. I’m told he’s intrigued with the project but hasn’t had a formal meeting on the script. Imagine what either director can do with that subject matter, and with the ratings on History Channel’s The Bible miniseries, the audience is certainly there. Spielberg hasn’t dropped the project for another; while he postponed his next film Robopocalypse, he hasn’t replaced it with anything as he continues to develop that robot pic. Spielberg also recently told French TV he’s developing a Napoleon miniseries for TV based on Stanley Kubrick’s screenplay and research. for
On the heels of winning his second directing Oscar for Life Of Pi, Ang Lee will make his television directorial debut with FX‘s high-profile drama pilot Tyrant, from Homeland executive producers Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff and Six Feet Under alum Craig Wright. This represents a major coup for FX and Tyrant producers Fox 21 and FX Prods as Lee had been approached numerous times for pilots, but this is the first one he has committed to. In addition to directing, Lee is executive producing Tyrant, his first project following Life Of Pi. It tells the story of an unassuming American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation. The series was created by Raff and developed by Gordon and Wright. Raff wrote the pilot, which comes from Gordon’s 20th TV-based company Teakwood Lane. “Ang Lee has demonstrated time and again an ability to present characters with such depth and specificity that they reveal the universal human condition,” said FX president John Landgraf. “No one could be a more perfect film maker to bring Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff, and Craig Wright’s Tyrant to indelible life.”
Gordon, Raff and Wright also executive produce in association with Keshet Broadcasting. If Tyrant goes to series, Wright will serve as showrunner. With a huge commitment and A-list creative auspices, Tyrant already was fully expected to go to series, something Landgraf alluded to in January. (Backup scripts had already been commissioned.) Lee’s arrival likely sealed the deal. “The fact that the brilliant Ang Lee has signed on to direct his first project for television speaks to the extraordinary nature of Tyrant,” said Fox 21 president Bert Salke. Production of Tyrant is tentatively slated to begin this summer.
Two weeks after its U.S. parent filed for Chapter 11 reorganization, a new Rhythm & Hues facility is on course to open in Taiwan, according to Rhythm & Hues Studios Taiwan Co. manager Mike Yang. The exec told Taiwan’s Central News Agency that the new outpost will open in Kaohsiung by the end of March. A 2,640-square-meter facility is in the final stage of construction and is expected to provide space to over 200 local and foreign artists and instructors over the next five years. “Actually, all the studios, including in Los Angeles and at four other locations, are operating,” Yang said, adding that more than 10 parties have expressed interest in a merger or an acquisition of the group. Yang also told the news agency that R&H is looking to expand its business in Canada and Southeast Asia. “I’m sure we can get through the difficulties, as we are still one of the tops in this industry,” he said. On Sunday, Taiwan-born Ang Lee won the Best Director Academy Award for Life Of Pi, on which Rhythm & Hues collaborated.
Even as tonight’s Governor’s Ball was winding down, Ben Affleck was still off in a corner of the room celebrating his Argo‘s most unlikely Best Picture victory in becoming only the second film in 80 years to win the top prize without even a nomination for its director. Affleck’s roller coaster ride has been remarkable this season and as he told me earlier this weekend, and tonight after the Best Pic triumph, it has been filled with hills and valleys, but it all came together at the Dolby Theatre when First Lady Michelle Obama (from the White House) opened the envelope and announced his film as the winner.
Related: Nikki Finke’s Oscar Live-Snark
When he was left off the list of Directing nominees on January 10th he said he was really depressed, but that same night he won the Critics Choice Movie Award as Director and Best Picture, then the Golden Globe three days later, then the PGA, SAG, DGA, WGA and BAFTA honors to name a few. Suddenly Argo was the one to beat and it never wavered. Affleck’s emotional acceptance was heartfelt and perfectly described the personal journey of this actor turned first-rate director. And his acknowledgement of Steven Spielberg from the stage was a nice touch. He won, with Matt Damon, for Best Original Screenplay in 1997 for Good Will Hunting, but this was different as Affleck told me and he was going to savor this moment as long as he could before moving on into the night. It was the same for Argo’s winning screenwriter Chris Terrio who also was hanging late at the Govs Ball even though he had to catch a flight back to his New York home where he is currently writing a new script based on the Greengrass story. As he was just exiting the Ball at the Hollywood and Highland Grand Ballroom, he told me someone gave him advice that he should just try to enjoy this moment first. He seemed to have a hard time soaking it in, but he was going to give it at least this one night before getting back to work.
Argo, after vitually a clean sweep of awards season since the directing snub (which in retrospect could not have hurt), won a respectable three Oscars (also for Editing and Adapted Screenplay), tying Les Misérables for that number of Oscars. But the big winner of the night (if you can call it that) was 20th’s risky box office success Life Of Pi which nabbed four statuettes including a biggie, Best Director for Ang Lee. Had Affleck been nominated, he likely would have won since Best Picture and Director usually go hand in hand, but for whatever reason in a year with an embarrassment of riches it somehow seems totally appropiate that there was a split and Lee was given this award. If anything, Life Of Pi was a directorial achievement like no other and this Oscar was acknowledgement of that. In fact, right after Affleck was snubbed, I predicted Lee would take it, and in the last couple of weeks it was apparent a tide was building for him among Academy voters. It became one of the easiest calls of the night despite the fact that many pundits were calling it for Lincoln‘s Steven Spielberg. At the Govs Ball, Lee, who has won two previous Oscars (for Best Foreign Language Film for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Director for Brokeback Mountain), told me this one means as much or probably more because of the extreme challenges Pi provided. He was clearly thrilled with it and I told him he becomes the first director since George Stevens in the 50s with A Place In The Sun (1951) and Giant (1956) to win two Best Director Oscars for two films that did not win Best Picture, a rare occurence.
Oscar pedigree: He has two nominations this year for screenwriting and direction. Previously, 2009’s The White Ribbon received two noms for best foreign language film and cinematography.
Birds and death: “The pigeon. You can’t direct a pigeon. At most, you can entice it to move it a certain way by placing corn on the ground. But even then, it won’t obey your instructions. Of course I’m joking when I say that. The most difficult scene in the film is the one in which (Georges) suffocates (his wife). The scene is preceded by a 10-minute monologue. And Jean-Louis Trintignant had a broken wrist at that time, so we had to shoot around that. And Emmanuelle Riva was concerned about her safety physically. So it was difficult for everyone involved”, says the Amour director.
No shame: When directing Emmanuelle Riva’s nude shower scene in which she is assisted by a healthcare worker, Haneke explains: “As a director, it wasn’t difficult for me. It was far more uncomfortable for her. But it was clear from the beginning that it was necessary to shoot this scene—to capture the fragility of her situation. My job as a director was to make sure I didn’t betray her, that she wasn’t shown critically or depicted in an unpleasant light, but just to show what people in such situations have to go through”.—David Mermelstein
OSCARS: As Final Deadline Approaches Academy Urges Members To Vote; Studios Launch Last-Minute Ad Blitz
Okay Academy members, this is your last chance to vote.
And by all indications from my own admittedly unscientific survey over the weekend there are many who are choosing to wait, despite the Academy’s emails encouraging them to vote early in this final round. Part of the reason seems to be a desire to catch up on the Documentary Feature, Live Action and Animation Shorts which have been sent to the entire Academy membership for the first time, instead of requiring voters to attend special screenings. One voter told me he received his late and was trying to watch them all before submitting his ballot.
With today being a holiday, those voters who opted for paper ballots and still haven’t mailed them are out of luck if they hope to do that and still have it reach the downtown Los Angeles offices of the Academy’s accountants, PricewaterhouseCoopers, or the Academy lobby at its Beverly Hills headquarters in time before Tuesday’s 5 PM deadline. If you are a paper voter, not electronic, the best you can do at this point is have the ballot delivered in person to one of those locations before 5 PM tomorrow. And every year there are usually many that do just that. It has even numbered up into the hundreds in past years. But with the new, sometimes awkward, transition to online voting this year, that number will probably be significantly decreased.
EXCLUSIVE: Whatever happens in the Best Picture Oscar race, where Argo has emerged as a strong frontrunner thanks to an unbroken string of victories in all the key precursor awards, the race for the Best Director Oscar is turning out to be a nail-biter. Since Argo’s Ben Affleck was famously snubbed by the directors branch and won’t be competing (he most likely would have won), all eyes are turning to the five directors who actually were nominated, Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Michael Haneke (Amour), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts Of The Southern Wild) and Ang Lee (Life Of Pi).
Because Affleck won the DGA award, usually the most reliable indicator of success for the Oscar-winning director, all bets are off. Spielberg and Lee, both past winners and icons, also have the benefit of films with the most nominations with 12 for Lincoln and 11 for Life Of Pi. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook also is very strong, particularly with the all-important and very large Academy actors branch, where it became the first film in 31 years to win nominations in all four acting categories (Lincoln was close behind with noms in three acting categories — no actor in a Spielberg film has ever won an Oscar for that film, but that’s likely to change this year).
But without a single acting nomination for his film, could Lee still possibly emerge the winner? Yes. The …
Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi has turned into a success story for 20th Century Fox which had the Yann Martel book in development for several years but could never crack the supposedly “unfilmable” property until Lee got involved five years ago and figured out a way to bring to the screen this epic story of a young man and a tiger trying to survive after a disastrous shipwreck. Earlier on Wednesday the film passed the half billion dollar mark worldwide for Fox and also just passed the $100 million milestone in America alone. Nevertheless this is a strong international smash and with 11 Academy Award nominations, a remarkable feat since none were for acting, it promises to keep growing the total and has emerged as a genuine threat at the Oscars. If anything Life of Pi stands as a testament to the art and science of motion pictures, a film the director says could not have been made even five years ago. Now it has thanks to the efforts of a group of dedicated craftsmen. Below Lee talks of the challenges as do the film’s Oscar nominees for Visual Effects, Cinematography and Music in a series of exclusive new featurettes premiering now on Deadline.
Scoop hounds like myself love to lock filmmakers into projects and move on in search of the next splashy headline. A look at some recent big director developments, and at the tortured road several directors traveled before getting Oscar nominations this morning, shows that good movies really do find their way into the right hands, even if it takes forever to happen.
Among today’s Best Director nominees, Steven Spielberg only found the handle on Best Picture nominee Lincoln after he trashed an earlier version and labored more than a decade; David O Russell got Silver Linings Playbook because Sydney Pollack could not figure out how to meld humor with mental problems; Ang Lee got to crack the challenging Life Of Pi — which recently became the highest-grossing film in his career — after previous tries by Dean Georgaris and M. Night Shyamalan ended in futility. None of this is as dramatic as, say, when Spielberg traded Martin Scorsese Cape Fear in exchange for Schindler’s List, but it is intriguing how the moves of one major director impacts another, how the right guy for the picture usually ends up in the director’s chair, and why patience can be a virtue.
This morning’s just-announced DGA Award nominations are good news for the major studios and bad news for Harvey Weinstein. With Ben Affleck for Warner Bros’ Argo, Kathryn Bigelow for Sony’s Zero Dark Thirty, Tom Hooper for Universal’s Les Miserables, Ang Lee for 20th Century Fox’s Life Of Pi and Steven Spielberg for Disney/Dreamworks Lincoln, it was a clean sweep for the majors — a continuing roaring comeback in Oscar contenders for the big boys who the past two years have watched The Weinstein Company take Best Picture (and top DGA) honors with small indies like The Artist and The King’s Speech. Clearly, even as their focus is on money-making blockbusters and popcorn entertainment, the majors are no longer sitting on the sidelines when it comes to the Oscars and seem fully invested in the process this year at least.
Related: DGA Award Nominations Announced
It’s highly unusual since the advent of the Miramax takeover of Oscar seasons the past quarter century to see no independent contender in a strong position. But, at least as far as the DGA is concerned, that’s the story here, along with the fact that four of the five nominees are past DGA- and Oscar-directing winners, with Affleck the only newcomer to the DGA club after directing only his third feature film (he is an Oscar winner for co-writing Good Will Hunting). Bigelow and Hooper both won in the last three years and have made a quick return to the golden circle. Spielberg, meanwhile, is the Big Kahuna of the DGA as he is a three-time winner (The Color Purple, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan) and now 11-time nominee as well as winner of the guild’s Life Achievement Award. Lee’s enormously impressive technical feat in bringing what was thought to be an unfilmable book, Life Of Pi, so successfully to the big screen is clearly something that appealed to the sensibility of directors, so his nomination was definitely expected. This will make for one of the tightest and most interesting directing races in years at the DGA.
Los Angeles – The Visual Effects Society announced today that it will honor Academy Award® winning filmmaker Ang Lee with the VES Visionary Award at the 11th Annual VES Awards on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The award honors an individual who has uniquely and consistently employed the art and science of visual effects to foster imagination and ignite future discoveries by way of artistry, invention and groundbreaking work.
Los Angeles—November 27, 2012—The Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE) today announces that Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee will be the recipient of its 2013 Filmmaker Award to be presented at the 60th MPSE Golden Reel Awards on February 17, 2013 in Los Angeles. Lee, whose latest film Life of Pi is currently in theaters, was selected for a body of work that has demonstrated superlative artistry and has advanced the craft of filmmaking.
Finally opening wide today after a 10-year journey to the screen, director Ang Lee‘s epic and groundbreaking movie about the trecherous ocean voyage of two survivors of a shipwreck – a young man and an imposing Bengal Tiger – represents an enormous gamble for distributor 20th Century Fox. Even Lee who has won Oscars for equally groundbreaking fare such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain initally did not think this reported $120 million film based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel was viable. “I read it 10 years ago. I thought nobody in their right mind would put up more than $15 million for this. It’s too risky, too philosophical a book although it has great adventure in the middle part, the ocean part, but it’s a thinking book. So I didn’t think it was artistically filmable or technically so,” he told me when he came to town last week for a series of well-attended promotional screenings for the WGA, PGA, SAG, DGA and the Academy which drew a strong crowd Sunday night.
Lee wasn’t the only one who thought Life of Pi was unfilmable. Fox had been developing the picture with other filmmakers since aquiring the property in 2002 but until Lee got involved five years ago it was stalled. Even then it almost didn’t come together but the director prevailed in explaining his vision and the need to shoot it in 3D, his first time using that process. “I thought of 3D, that maybe with another dimension I could take a leap of faith. That was way before I knew what 3D was. It was a naive thought.