EXCLUSIVE: While Anthony Mackie won’t be at the finish line for Dan Pritzker’s Bolden film, the actor has a passion project of his own that he is about to shop to distributors. The Captain America: The Winter Soldier co-star badly wants to play Jesse Owens, the sprinter whose four gold medal performance at the 1936 Berlin Olympics infuriated and demoralized Adolf Hitler and put the lie to his theory that the Germans were the superior race. Mackie got together with his We Are Marshall writer Jamie Linden, and together they are producing an Owens film that was scripted by George Olson under their supervision. With longtime manager and producing partner Jason Spire from Inspire Entertainment, they will shortly shop the script in hopes of fast tracking a feature that will focus on the run-up to the 1936 games, and the profound impact that the performance by Owens had on the world. Hitler refused to shake his hand, and the racism evident in the U.S. meant that FDR wouldn’t do it in public, either.
Mackie enters a crowding race to make a feature on Owens, who to this point was only the subject of an Emmy-winning 1984 telepic. Disney is developing a movie based on the Jeremy Schaap book Triumph, with The King’s Speech scribe David Seidler scripting a full scale biopic; another Owens film has Stephan James poised to star … Read More »
State Street Pictures has teamed with iDeal Partners onThe Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete. The George Tillman Jr-directed film stars Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, Jeffrey Wright, and Anthony Mackie. Michael Starrbury wrote the script, which follows two inner-city youths left to fend for themselves over the summer after their mothers are taken away by the authorities. Production began today in Brooklyn.
iDeal’s Rachel Cohen and Jana Edelbaum are producing with State Street’s Bob Teitel and Tillman. Alicia Keys is executive producer with Susan Lewis. Tillman, Teitel, Starburry, Sparks, and Wright are all repped by CAA, while Mackie is with UTA and Inspire Entertainment. Hudson is repped by CAA and AGPS Management.
EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Mackie is in talks to join Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck in Runner Runner, the New Regency drama to be directed by Lincoln Lawyer helmer Brad Furman. Production begins next month.
The drama revolves around the world of offshore online gaming and an increasingly tense relationship between a business founder and his protege. The film is being produced by Appian Way. The script was written by David Levien and Brian Koppelman. Mackie stars in the upcoming Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and just wrapped the Ruben Fleischer-directed Gangster Squad. He’s shooting the Michael Bay-directed Pain And Gain and is repped by UTA and Inspire Entertainment.
Tonight’s Sundance Film Festival Awards ceremony was an emotional roller coaster. The event began characteristically late with a parade of Sundance staff taking to the stage with a tiara and an apology from Festival Director John Cooper who said that actress Parker Posey wouldn’t emcee as originally scheduled because she had taken ill. “She was going to be the Sundance Queen,” Cooper said while displaying her regalia for the evening. As a last minute stand in, Black Rock director Katie Aselton took over for Posey.
Then the light mood turned dark as a large picture of indie maverick Bingham Ray who died here earlier in the week flashed on the screen. The room went silent and Cooper read from a eulogy put together by Ray’s longtime poker buddies: Magnolia Pictures chief Eamonn Bowles, Sony Classics SVP Tom Prassis, Sawyer Studios head Arnie Sawyer, and producer Ben Barenholtz. Cooper choked back tears and had to stop briefly to regain his composure. Afterward, there was quiet applause. And the show went on.
Without Posey the onstage antics were minimal. Most winners skipped acceptance speeches after Cooper advised, “Just say thank you and go on,” and Aselton added, “Really, nobody really cares…”
But then director Alison Klayman (Ai Weiwie: Never Sorry) collected her Special Jury Prize claiming she was “too nervous to say much”. She gave some quick thanks — and then asked the audience to lift a hand and give the finger en masse. She took a photo and explained, “I’ll send this to Ai Weiwei” – a gesture in support of China’s most famous visual artist who has been in and out of house arrest. Read More »
BREAKING: Anchor Bay Films has picked up U.S. distribution rights to Ten Year, the Jamie Linden-directed drama that premiered at 2011 Toronto Film Festival. The film will be released next spring. Anchor Bay has been negotiating for this for the past month, and it is now nearly done with the deal. It’s low seven figures, including minimum guarantee and P&A for what looks like a platform release. Linden, whose script credits include We Are Marshall and Dear John, wrote the script for a film that was inspired by his own high school reunion. The film has a cast of up-and-comers that includes Channing Tatum, Anthony Mackie, Lynn Collins, Rosario Dawson, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Brian Geraghty, Ari Graynor, Oscar Isaac, Ron Livingston, Justin Long, Kate Mara, Max Minghella, Aubrey Plaza, Scott Porter, and Chris Pratt.
The film tells a Big Chill-style story about a group of friends who reunite and assess where they find themselves and what they hope to accomplish in the future. The film was produced by Temple Hill’s Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, and Iron Horse Entertainment’s Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin. Eric Gores, Scott Lumpkin and Frank Mancuso Jr were exec producers. Gores and Mancuso’s Boss Media funded the film and the Paradigm Motion Picture Finance Group made the deal with Anchor Bay president Bill Clark and Kevin Kasha, exec veep of acquisitions and co-productions.
Summit Entertainment has released a trailer for Man on a Ledge, the drama that stars Sam Worthington as a disgraced ex-cop who climbs out on a ledge on the roof of a Manhattan hotel to protest his innocence. It’s clear from the trailer there is more going on here than a simple desperate plea for justice. Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris and Anthony Mackie also star in the Asger Leth-directed film, which Summit releases Jan. 13.
Last year’s Toronto Film Festival started slow for acquisitions, but finished with a flurry of modest distribution deals that served notice the specialty film business had finally pulled out of its nosedive. This year’s festival hasn’t started and already there are fireworks. Deadline broke news yesterday that Harvey Weinstein would start a VOD business, making the acquisitions market for fringe films more competitive; and last night, I heard that a bidding battle had already broken out for the Steve McQueen-directed Shame, which should be sold by the time it screens Sunday. Fox Searchlight is the favorite, Sony Pictures Classics is in the mix and I’ve heard that The Weinstein Company is hovering. Bidding began right after its Telluride screening, and the mid-six figures thrown around yesterday will probably go higher. That’s huge, considering the movie is an unabashed NC-17, McQueen has final cut, and the sex-obsessed protagonist is unlikable. Oh, yeah, and the sellers want it released this year for Oscar consideration to capitalize on Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan’s Oscar-caliber performances.
Does this mean we’re in for a drunken buying frenzy? Hardly, buyers tell me. They are eager to see the films, but say there’s no title here that’s going to guarantee somebody will overpay. They are also mindful that many of last year’s deals turned out to be box office busts. More deals will be made than … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Nick Nolte continues his recent career resurgence. He’s been set to join the cast of the Ruben Fleischer-directed Warner Bros drama Gangster Squad. Nolte will play Bill Parker, the new chief of police in Los Angeles, and the first in a awhile who hasn’t been corrupted by Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). The chief, a Purple Heart recipient at Normandy, is the one who starts the Gangster Squad, a crack team designed to bring down organized crime. Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Mireille Enos and Anthony Mackie star.
Nolte stars in the Gavin O’Connor-directed Warrior, and he just wrapped the Taylor Hackford-directed action film Parker for FilmDistrict opposite Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez and Michael Chiklis. Nolte is about to begin work on the Robert Redford-directed The Company You Keep opposite Redford and Shia LaBeouf, and he also stars with Dustin Hoffman in the David Milch/Michael Mann HBO series Luck.
EXCLUSIVE: Not long ago, newcomer Oscar Isaac tested for Tony Gilroy and the lead role in Universal’s The Bourne Legacy and made such a strong impression that the director seriously considered giving the actor the lead role that went to Jeremy Renner. Well, Isaac has just landed the role of “Number 3,” another brainwashed assassin in the film, and it’s a major role in the movie that Gilroy will direct. Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton are also expected to star in The Bourne Identity spinoff. Isaac is about to wrap filming on Steel Town, the Walden Media drama that also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis. He was most recently seen in Sucker Punch and stars in the Nic Refn-directed Drive opposite Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. He also stars in the Madonna-directed W.E., and stars in Ten Year with Channing Tatum, Anthony Mackie, Justin Long and Rosario Dawson. He’s repped by UTA and Inspire Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: In a low-seven-figure minimum guarantee deal, FilmDistrict has acquired U.S. rights to Only God Forgives, a drama that will reteam Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn with Ryan Gosling. Several distributors were in the mix, but FilmDistrict’s Peter Schlessel had an edge because Refn was pleased with the way FilmDistrict’s Bob Berney has set up the marketing for Drive. That film, which stars Gosling as a stunt driver who moonlights as the wheel man for a heist crew, played the Cannes Film Festival and drew raves. It will be released Sept. 16. Funded by Wild Bunch, Only God Forgives will shoot in late summer in Thailand, with Gosling playing a guy on the run from British police. He runs a Thai boxing club in Bangkok that is a front for a drug-smuggling operation. He winds up getting in the ring for a shot at redemption. Buyers this week read a script and started making offers this week. Gosling is next starring for his Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance in A Place Beyond the Pines and he’s also starring with Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Anthony Mackie in the Ruben Fleischer-directed Gangster Squad for Warner Bros. He’s also set to star for Refn in a remake of Logan’s Run at Warner Bros, where he’ll next be seen starring with Steve Carell and Julianne Moore in Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Legendary Pictures has announced it has made a deal to collaborate with the estate of Jackie Robinson and his widow Rachel on a feature biopic about the Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman who broke Major League Baseball’s color line. Brian Helgeland will write the script and direct the film. Legendary chairman Thomas Tull will produce and Jon Jashni will be exec producer. Notably, Dick Cook, who has been quiet since leaving as Walt Disney Studios chairman, will be an exec producer on the film, which will be made under Legendary’s overall deal at Warner Bros. Cook is on the Legendary board and he and Tull have become close. They are also big baseball fans, which led to Cook involving himself in the picture.
Hollywood has long been interested in bringing Robinson’s story to the screen. Spike Lee once tried to direct a version with Denzel Washington in the lead role. And Robert Redford has for years tried to tackle the story from the vantage point of Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers executive who signed Robinson and put him on the team. Redford has long wanted to play the role of Rickey. The project was stalled for years, though it recently got ink that it was resuscitated, mainly on the basis of Redford saying he still wanted to play the role, though there was no indication of who would fund it. Read More »
UPDATE: Fox is negotiating with The Devil’s Double star Dominic Cooper to play Abe Lincoln’s mentor Henry, the mysterious ageless guy who teaches Abe to kill bloodsuckers. The studio had been in talks with Joaquin Phoenix for that role, but it’s going to be Cooper, another up-and-comer, whose dual performance as Uday Hussein and the man forced to be his body double was the talk of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
EARLIER, 12:30 PM: Anthony Mackie is in talks to star with Benjamin Walker in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter for 20th Century Fox. Mackie will play the role of Will, Lincoln’s best friend. The role is a good one, he gets to be in the center of the vampire slaying. Director Timur Bekmambetov is putting together a group of up and comers to headline the movie. Mackie is ready to pop and is on the cover of Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue. He next stars with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt in The Adjustment Bureau and stars with Hugh Jackman in Real Steel. Mackie is repped by UTA and Inspire Entertainment. Mackie also turned in a fascinating performance as jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden in the Dan Pritzker-directed Bolden!. I’ve seen some footage from that picture, which Pritzker shot in a rather meticulous production that took forever. Pritzker completed and released an offshoot silent film Louis, which toured with a … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: A promising package for a feature film on guitar god Jimi Hendrix looks dead — confirmed as recently as of today. Even though it had financing from Legendary Pictures, and a directing commitment from Oscar-nominated Paul Greengrass, and The Hurt Locker’s Anthony Mackie poised to star. The pic wen belly up earlier this year because Experience Hendrix, gatekeeper for the dead musician’s music rights, refused to authorize the film out of fear it could hurt the music catalog.
Legendary Pictures and its chief Thomas Tull certainly aren’t the first to be interested in filming the story of Hendrix, who died in 1970 at age 27 and recorded just four albums. But is still considered the greatest rocker to ever plug in an electric guitar. Among the actors who reportedly wanted to play Hendrix at one time or another are Outkast’s Andre 3000, Eddie Murphy, and Will Smith. But each approach was rejected by the Hendrix estate, which is currently controlled by Janie Hendrix, the adopted daughter of Hendrix’s late father. Tull went ahead anyway in 2009 and paid Max Borenstein to write a script. There was reason to be optimistic: aside from co-financing films like Batman and Watchmen, Tull had the street cred of having financed the documentary It Might Get Loud, with Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, U2’s The Edge, and Jack White. Tull and producer Bill Gerber figured they’d bring a package to the Hendrix estate. The script landed The Bourne Ultimatum and United 93 helmer Greengrass, and they approached Mackie to play Hendrix.
Unfortunately, the estate rejected the package earlier this year. A statement from Experience Hendrix president/CEO Janie Hendrix to me today is as follows: ”Legendary proceeded without our permission, direction or involvement. It didn’t ‘fall apart,’ it never was. When we do the Jimi Hendrix feature film bio, we will be involved and in control from the beginning.” But producer Bill Gerber counters: “To say we proceeded without permission isn’t fair. Thomas Tull couldn’t have been more generous and eager to collaborate with the estate. He was ready go finance their version of Jimi’s story, he got a script that made The Black List and brought Paul Greengrass to the party. It boggles the mind.”
Legendary Pictures wouldn’t comment, but I’ve heard the filmmakers were told that the estate feared the movie could potentially hurt sales of the Hendrix backlist, which is what supposedly happened after Oliver Stone’s movie The Doors. (A spokesman for the estate denies this was the reason they rejected the film). The Hendrix movie could have been made anyway; while the estate controls such seminal Hendrix tunes as Purple Haze, Foxy Lady, and Voodoo Child, it doesn’t control songs written by others which Hendrix performed. That includes The Star Spangled Banner (which Hendrix played so memorably at Woodstock – see video); Wild Thing (Jimi set his guitar aflame when he sang the tune in the 1967 docu Monterey Pop), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and All Along the Watchtower. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Elizabeth Banks will play the female lead in Man On A Ledge, the Asger Leth-directed Summit Entertainment drama that stars Sam Worthington, Jamie Bell and Anthony Mackie. Banks will play an NYPD crisis negotiator who tries to talk a suicidal detective (Worthington) off a ledge. She has a past relationship with the ex-cop, who was framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Script was written by Pablo Fenjves, with Darkest Hour‘s Chris Gorak doing a rewrite and Red‘s Erich and Jon Hoeber doing a final polish. Read More »
This week, Paramount Pictures and director Brad Bird will begin testing actors to star alongside Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible 4. I’m told that three of the actors who’ll test with Cruise on Thursday and Friday are Vampire’s Kevin Zegers, Letters to Juliet star Christopher Egan, and Anthony Mackie, who starred in the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker. Cruise is producing the film with JJ Abrams, and Paramount Pictures is co-financing with David Ellison’s Skydance.
EXCLUSIVE: Dan Pritzker, son of Hyatt Hotels magnate Jay Pritzker and a fixture on the Forbes list of 400 Richest Americans, might not seem that different from all the high net worth individuals who’ve turned the film industry into their playground. Unlike Sidney Kimmel, James Robinson, Bill Pohlad, Thomas Tull or others who entered the game as producer/financiers, Pritzker took his plunge by getting behind the camera and spending nearly three years on two passion projects no studio would have made with a first-timer. Bolden! is his biopic of an obscure horn player Pritzker suspects invented jazz (he went insane and left behind no recordings, so it’s hard to verify). Louis is a 68-minute silent film–complete with title card dialogue–that turns the childhood of Louis Armstrong into an improvisational jazz riff, centered by a Chaplin-esque villainous turn by Jackie Earle Haley.
Pritzker, who began shooting both films in 2007, has released a trailer as part of an intriguing distribution strategy for Louis, the silent film that debuts in a series of concert halls with live musical accompaniment led by Wynton Marsalis. The tour starts August 25 in Chicago and includes a stop in Harlem’s Apollo Theater on August 30. As for Bolden!, some of the news is good, and some surreal. The good news: Anthony Mackie, a relative unknown when Pritzker cast him to play Buddy Bolden, is now a rising … Read More »