The comedy from Darko Entertainment, Aggregate Films and MXN stars Jason Bateman in his feature directorial debut. He plays a 40-year-old Guy Trilby, who finds a loophole in the National Spelling Bee rules and enters the competition. As he dusts his preteen rivals, a reporter (Kathryn Hahn) digs into Guy’s …
EXCLUSIVE: Yesterday’s bombshell that caught everyone at Focus Features by surprise has given way to a collective depression among the people at Focus who watched the abrupt exit of their leader James Schamus, and learned Universal will close …
Here’s the official release from Focus Features confirming Deadline’s morning scoop:
TORONTO, September 7th, 2013 – Worldwide rights to the comedy Bad Words, directed by and starring Jason Bateman, have been acquired by Focus Features for a 2014 theatrical release. Focus CEO James Schamus and co-CEO Andrew Karpen made the announcement today at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the movie is having its world premiere.
Bad Words, a Darko Entertainment/Aggregate Films/MXN production, was represented at Toronto by Creative Artists Agency and Hicks Professional Law Corporation, which made the deal with Focus at the Festival. The movie is the feature directorial debut of Mr. Bateman, who last starred in the blockbuster comedy Identity Thief and is currently an Emmy Award nominee for Arrested Development. Mr. Bateman is also a producer of the new movie through his company Aggregate, with Academy Award nominee Mason Novick (Juno) of MXN and Darko’s Sean McKittrick and Jeff Culotta. Andrew Dodge wrote the original screenplay; it is his first to be produced, and it was selected for “The Black List” in 2011.
In the movie, Mr. Bateman portrays Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old man seeking catharsis in his life. He seizes the ideal that this will come for him through…the National Spelling Bee; after discovering a loophole in the rules, Guy zealously joins the competition and easily outpaces the pre-teen field in match after match. As reporter Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn of Afternoon Delight) delves into Guy’s story, Guy finds himself forging an unlikely friendship with a competitor, awkward 10-year-old Chaitanya (Rohan Chand of Homeland), which may spell things differently for his future. Bad Words also stars Screen Actors Guild Award winner Allison Janney, Ben Falcone (Bridesmaids), Rachael Harris (The Hangover), and Philip Baker Hall (Argo).
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 8:48 AM: Focus Features is making a big acquisition of Bad Words, paying in the vicinity of $7 million for world rights, I’m told. It marks the first big money deal at Toronto. The film marks the directorial debut of Jason Bateman, who stars as a man who discovers a loophole in the rules of the National Spelling Bee. He dominates the pre-pubescent competition with keen spelling skills and and a propensity for trash talking. He forms an unlikely friendship with an awkward boy of Indian descent, and all the while a reporter trails him trying to find his real motivation for disrupting the spelling bee world.
After receiving mixed critical response in its Venice world premiere, the Kennedy assassination docudrama Parkland took on the Toronto International Film Festival and received a good response for a movie that looks at the events of that fateful day 50 years ago from several different perspectives. Those include a young surgeon operating on the fallen President in the emergency room, Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother and mother, the FBI, Abraham Zapruder and others. Nicely directed by first-timer Peter Landesman, a former New York Times reporter, the film has the sensibility of a journalist and stays close to the known facts while still illuminating. At the premiere’s afterparty at Soho House he told me, “I wanted to create a visual language in the beginning that would allow the audience to feel like what they were seeing was happening and real… I did want to take the audience by hand and bring them into an idea that what they are watching happening is actually unfolding in front of them,” said the veteran who’s covered many international wars. He dismissed potential complaints that the filmmaker might be exploiting the Kennedy tragedy, particularly on the cusp on the 50th anniversary, by explaining that the emergency room scenes were carefully thought out:”I feel like we cut a very dignified movie. To not have any sense of the violence would be to betray what the movie is about. I actually feel that the cut’s dignified. We actually had cuts in the movie that were a lot bloodier. At the end of the day we didn’t want to alienate our audience.”
Landesman said it came about when he originally wrote a screenplay about Watergate for producer Tom Hanks (who produced this film with Playtone partner Gary Goetzman and actor Bill Paxton). That script has yet to be produced. But it led to Hanks handing Landesman a Vincent Bugliosi book written about those four days in November 1963. So he worked on it and researched it for nearly five years and decided there was a movie there that nobody had ever seen. Although Hanks was busy acting on Broadway, he was very involved. “Gary was there for every frame. And Tom was intimately involved with the development of the screenplay and the casting. You know Tom. His integrity is so important, not only as a brand and a producer but Tom’s sensibilities and instincts are so important,” Landesman said.