China’s Wanda Cinema Line To Add 80 IMAX Theaters
Wanda Cinema Line, Asia’s largest movie theater owner, will add 80 additional IMAX theaters to its locations throughout China, the company confirmed today. Rollout will start in 2016 and will bring Wanda’s IMAX commitment to 210 theaters in the territory. Under the terms of the agreement, up to 40 of the 80 additional theaters will install IMAX’s next-generation laser projection system. Wanda Cinema Line was one of IMAX’s first exhibition partners in China, dating to 2007. The parties signed a revenue-sharing deal in the territory in 2011. IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond recently said he plans to more than double the company’s footprint in China over the next five years. At a November Bloomberg conference, he said: “I feel like I’ve got the wind at my back. … I’m a huge China bull.” In 2012, Wanda Group expanded heavily into the U.S., acquiring AMC Entertainment in a $2.6B deal, and today that company went public on the New York Stock Exchange.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Wanda Cinema Line Adding 80 IMAX Theaters In China; New BBC Gig For Mark Freeland; More
China’s Wanda Cinema Line To Add 80 IMAX Theaters
Britain’s Public Accounts Committee, a Parliamentary oversight group, has strongly criticized the BBC over severance packages paid to senior execs that in the three years to December 2012 totaled £25M ($40.8M). “There was a failure at the most senior levels of the BBC to challenge the actual payments and prevailing culture, in which cronyism was a factor that allowed for the liberal use of other people’s money,” the PAC said today. The BBC is funded by a compulsory £145.50 license fee paid by British households on an annual basis. The committee called some of the justifications provided by the BBC “extraordinary.” The group particularly noted comments made by former BBC director general, Mark Thompson, who is now president of The New York Times Company, when he appeared before it in September. Thompson “claimed that it was necessary to pay his former deputy and long-term colleague Mark Byford an extra £300,000, not because the BBC was obliged to, but to keep Mr Byford ‘fully focused’ instead of ‘taking calls from head hunters’,” the PAC noted. In 2010, Byford was paid two years’ salary, half of it in lieu of notice, and was retained and paid for eight more months. The spokeswoman for the New York Times provided that paper with a statement from Thompson that reads in part: “Severance payments for senior managers working for public organizations are inevitably unpopular and controversial. The sole reason for making these payments was so that the BBC could rapidly reduce the number of senior managers and make far larger savings on behalf of the public… Despite some inflammatory language in the PAC report, there is absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing by anyone at the BBC in relation to these severance payments.”
New BBC director general Tony Hall, who succeeded George Entwistle after he lasted only 54 days on the job and was forced out over a series of scandals that erupted in late 2012 (and was given a controversial £450,000 payout), has moved to cap severance pay at the broadcaster. The PAC says it welcomes the changes and agrees with Hall that the BBC had “lost the plot” in its management of severance payments in recent years. PAC chairwoman Margaret Hodge said the payments had put the BBC’s reputation at risk. The stinging rebuke comes at a time when the BBC has been making some headway in rebuilding its tarnished reputation after the late 2012 crises that included child sex abuse revelations surrounding Jimmy Savile, and editorial missteps at flagship news program, Newsnight.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Thomas Bezucha Helms ‘Priceless’ Remake; BBC Adds Ex-Sony Chairman Howard Stringer; More
Thomas Bezucha Directing English-Language Remake Of ‘Priceless’
The Family Stone and Monte Carlo director Thomas Bezucha will helm the English-language remake of French romantic comedy Priceless for European film group uMedia. The original movie starred Audrey Tautou and Gad Emaleh and sold 2.15M tickets in France in 2006. Umedia’s remake has been greenlighted for production in early summer on the French Riviera. The story follows Alec, a shy and hardworking waiter at a grand hotel who is mistaken for a millionaire and seduced by a captivating American girl with expensive tastes. When Lauren discovers his true identity and limited resources, she takes off, but Alec pursues her along the Cote-d’Azur. When he ends up stranded and broke, he is saved by a wealthy woman-of-a-certain-age and finds himself kept in the same manner as Lauren, who coaches him on how the play the game as her feelings for him deepen. Pierre Salvadori directed the original which was sold internationally by Wild Bunch.
BBC Adds Howard Stringer Amid Corporate Changes
The BBC has announced a series of changes to transform how the corporation is run. At the same time, it has added former Sony chairman Howard Stringer as a non-executive director for a term of three years beginning January 1. The moves come a year after myriad crises began to plague the broadcaster including the Jimmy Savile child sex abuse scandal and the editorial missteps at flagship news program Newsnight. Among the changes are a 60% reduction in the number of pan-corporation management boards “so that senior managers will be able to make faster decisions and concentrate on running their teams and departments.” Decision making by multiple committees will shift to much greater personal responsibility, ensuring “there are no blurred lines,” the broadcaster said. “As a creative organization, individuals need to be able to take creative risks without fear, managers will not be penalized for brave, well-made decisions that were taken for the right reasons.” Speaking about the changes, director general, Tony Hall, said, “This is an important first step in making the BBC simpler and better run.”
Deadline’s International Editor Nancy Tartaglione talks in this week’s podcast with host David Bloom about winnin’ time on the Continent, as the prizes are handed out in the British Independent Film Awards and the European Film Awards, including wins for Oscar contenders The Act Of Killing, The Great Beauty, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, The Broken Circle Breakdown and Metro Manila.
Separately, David and Nancy take a look at just-unveiled British tax credits that should be a boon to film projects of all budget sizes and also may entice more overseas visual effects work to the country’s post-production houses. They also applaud the innovative new interactive trailer the BBC has trotted out to tout the imminent return to air of Sherlock, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, two years after its last episode aired.
Laurence Olivier did it, and so did Colin Firth. Now it’s Matthew Rhys‘ turn to portray Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy. Rhys is playing the iconic character in Death Comes To Pemberley, a three-part mini that unspools on BBC One in the UK over three days beginning December 26th. The suspense drama will then make its way to PBS’ Masterpiece in 2014. Based on P.D. James’ novel which revisits Austen’s most iconic characters, Pemberley also stars Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth Bennett, Matthew Goode as George Wickham and Doctor Who‘s Jenna Coleman as Lydia Wickham. The story picks up six years into Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage as they prepare for their annual ball. When Lydia arrives, she brings a shocking halt to the proceedings and a murder investigation ensues:
Global Showbiz Briefs: Warner Bros UK Preps Inaugural Creative Talent Initiative; Hugh Bonneville Reprising ‘Twenty Twelve’ Role; More
Warner Bros UK Gears Up For Creative Talent Initiative
Warner Bros UK has recruited its first group of scholars, apprentices and trainees for the inaugural season of Warner Bros Creative Talent. The first selection will participate in the program to gain industry insight and work experience across Warner’s UK film, TV, games and theater operations. The initiative is part of Warner Bros’ long-term commitment to the UK’s creative industries. Among the first folks chosen to take part are students Rienkje Attoh, Sam Coleman and Sam Hughes who are receiving the first Prince William Scholarships supported by BAFTA and Warner Bros. Four others will work as camera trainees and sound trainees on Ron Howard’s Heart Of The Sea and Guy Ritchie’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. More information on the program is available here.
Hugh Bonneville Back As Ian Fletcher In BBC’s ‘W1A’
Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville will reprise his role as Ian Fletcher in a new BBC comedy, W1A. The show is a follow-up to BAFTA-winning comedy series Twenty Twelve, from BBC In-House Comedy. Shooting starts next month on the series that sees Fletcher, the ex-head of the Olympic Deliverance Commission, taking up his next big job – the (fictional) Head of Values at the BBC. His task is to clarify, define, or redefine the core purpose of the BBC across all its functions and to position it confidently for the future. In Twenty Twelve (available on iTunes in the U.S.), the network poked fun at the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics and here looks to be taking a shot at itself after the broadcaster suffered a string of PR scandals in the past year. But John Morton, who wrote the series, says: “It isn’t a demolition job on anybody or anything, and it isn’t one giant in-joke, and this isn’t a game of guessing who is supposed to be who. If it is satirical then it’s satirical about an environment, an ethos, and the absurdities of modern corporate life itself. The key principle is to operate at a level of reality just to the left or the right of fact, to create stories that haven’t actually happened but that could happen or might have happened.“ Says Mark Freeland, head of BBC In-House Comedy: “This is a kind of love letter to the BBC. But a letter that gets mislaid, because the remote computer system is not working.” Twenty Twelve’s Morton also directs the comedy that’s produced by that show’s Paul Schlesinger and executive produced by Jon Plowman. There will be an initial run of four 30-minute episodes to be screened in 2014 on BBC Two.
Jeff Pope, who shared the Venice Film Festival best screenplay prize with his Philomena co-writer Steve Coogan, is prepping a biopic about legendary comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. The 90-minute TV movie Stan And Ollie will reteam Pope with Philomena distributor The Weinstein Co. It’s also a reteam for TWC with the BBC and UK production outfit Lookout Point (Ripper Street). The trio are collaborating on Stan And Ollie, and are already partnered on a six-part adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s War And Peace which signaled TWC’s serious push into the European TV arena when it was announced in October.
Stan And Ollie will center on Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s 1953 UK tour. At the time, the superstars, who had made 106 films together, were facing declining popularity and a series of personal issues. The UK tour was a redeeming success until Hardy was sidelined by a heart attack. When Laurel was offered the chance to go it alone, he refused and Hardy eventually roused himself for a few last, triumphant performances. He died shortly thereafter. Shane Allen, controller of BBC Comedy commissioning, calls Pope’s take a “love letter to two pioneers and enduring giants of screen comedy.” Cast and timetable are yet to come on the BBC In-House Comedy/BBC Worldwide/Lookout Point co-production for BBC One. The BBC’s Saurabh Kakkar, Lookout’s Simon Vaughan and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein are exec producers.
Listen to (and share) episode 16 of Deadline’s audio podcast Global Showbiz Watch, With Nancy Tartaglione. Deadline’s international editor talks from London with host David Bloom about a series of UK-based stories the past several days, including the very big audiences that turned out for Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary celebration on the BBC, BBC America and in dozens of other countries; what the BBC has planned at Christmas time for the newest doctor in Doctor Who, and the much-awaited third season of Sherlock; Oscar winner Emma Thompson’s long look back with BAFTA at her career so far, even as her latest film, Saving Mr. Banks, builds its own awards buzz; and Pinewood Shepperton, busy counting its cash after a strong quarter, presses for approval of a major expansion of its London facilities amid a serious studio capacity crunch that’s turning away work in the city.
The BBC has outlined its holiday programming with yet more clues about Matt Smith’s last outing as Doctor Who. The series’ Christmas episode has been titled The Time Of The Doctor, following the Season 7 finale, The Name Of The Doctor, and last weekend’s The Day Of The Doctor (along with online mini-ep, The Night Of The Doctor). The episode will air December 25th and mark Smith’s departure as it introduces Peter Capaldi as the 12th Time Lord. It will also feature Fringe‘s Orla Brady in a new role. The BBC synopsis goes like this: “Orbiting a quiet backwater planet, the massed forces of the universe’s deadliest species gather, drawn to a mysterious message that echoes out to the stars… Rescuing Clara from a family Christmas dinner, the Time Lord and his best friend must learn what this enigmatic signal means for his own fate and that of the universe.” The Day Of The Doctor smashed records on Saturday for BBC America which traditionally airs the Christmas special in step with the UK.
Showrunner Steven Moffat’s other series, Sherlock, also returns to the BBC over the holidays. (It starts on PBS on January 19th). The first episode of the new three-part series, titled “The Empty Hearse”, will pick up two years after the titular high-functioning sociopath jumped from a building in “The Reichenbach Fall”. With London under the threat of a huge terrorist attack, Holmes will make his return from the dead.
Related: Hot TV Teaser: ‘Sherlock’ Season 3
Martin Sheen will star in The Whale, a two-hour film from BBC Factual Productions and Animal Planet that’s set to premiere in December on BBC 1 and in summer 2014 on Animal Planet. Based on true events, Sheen portrays Old Thomas Nickerson, who served as cabin boy on the ill-fated voyage of the whaling ship the Essex. The two-hour drama is inspired by real-life accounts of the ship’s sinking; those accounts are said to have inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The Whale is written by Terry Cafolla (Holy Cross, Messiah). Filming took place on location in Malta this past spring and wrapped up outside of London last summer.
Sheen, repped by ICM Partners, leads the cast as the elder Nickerson with Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood, The Street) as First Mate Owen Chase; Adam Rayner (The Hunted) as Captain Pollard; Paul Kaye (Game Of Thrones, Stella) as Joy; David Gyasi (Cloud Atlas, War Horse) as Peterson; and Jolyon Coy (The Hollow Crown) as Lawrence. It also stars Jassa Ahluwalisa, John Boyega and Ferdinand Kingsley, and Charles Furness as the young Nickerson. The Whale is executive produced by Eamon Hardy and Ruth Caleb with Mike Dormer as producer; for Animal Planet, Mick Kaczorowski is EP.
BBC‘s Sherlock returns for its 3rd season on January 19 on PBS in the U.S., picking up after Season 2′s “Reichenbach Fall” finale. Here’s Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the 30-second teaser for Sherlock‘s return that was unveiled during today’s 50th Anniversary Doctor Who special:
But wait, there’s more! BBC also dropped a new teaser for its Doctor Who 2013 Christmas Special:
As part of the 50th anniversary Doctor Who celebrations, BBC America will premiere the new biopic, An Adventure In Space And Time, on November 22nd (it airs the day before on BBC Two in the UK). The film documents the genesis of the character and hails from Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss. David Bradley stars as William Hartnell, who played the first Doctor in 1963. Brian Cox, Jessica Raine and Sacha Dhawan also feature. Meanwhile, BBC America has unveiled a spoiler-y seven-minute Night Of The Doctor mini-episode, a prequel to The Day Of The Doctor 50th anniversary special that will be globally simulcast on November 23rd. It’s after the jump, but once again, beware of spoilers. The BBC further announced today that there will be a live Afterparty on the 23rd following the Day Of The Doctor airing. Outgoing Time Lord Matt Smith will appear as will other previous Doctors and companions. Boy band One Direction will appear on the show live from LA. No word yet on BBC America’s plans for the live London event. Here’s the Adventure In Space And Time teaser and the mini-episode follows on the next page:
SPOILER ALERT… SPOILER ALERT… SPOILER ALERT:
Listen to (and share) episode 14 of Deadline’s audio podcast Global Showbiz Watch With Nancy Tartaglione. Deadline’s international editor talks with host David Bloom about awards season in Europe, with nominations out from both the British Independent Film Awards and the European Film Awards; Doctor Who’s big day becomes a big week at the BBC; and Sweden’s new ratings system to measure sexism on film. Nancy and David also talk about the European perspective on a new study looking at portrayals of violence becoming more common in PG-13 films than in R-rated ones.
ABC has made another early comedy pickup, greenlighting An American Education, a single-camera project based on the BBC Three series Bad Education. Film and TV writers Peter Huyck and Alex Gregory wrote the script from a story they co-wrote with the original series’ creator/star Jack Whitehall and executive producer Ben Cavey through Tiger Aspect, which produces the British show. All four executives produce. 25-year-old British actor/comedian Whitehall is set to reprise his role as Alfie Wickers in the U.S. version where Wickers, a British transplant, is an unorthodox young teacher in the San Diego public school system. Alfie loves his students but his youthful, often naive enthusiasm and unconventional methods put him at odds with the test-obsessed administrators. He juggles his time between mentoring his students, bucking the system and pursuing the attractive new chemistry teacher. ABC Studios is producing, with filming slated for January in Los Angeles.
It is not unusual for the stars of overseas series to also star in the U.S. version, with examples including Wilfred‘s Jason Gann, Low Winter Sun‘s Mark Strong and Free Agents‘ Anthony Head. But all those shows had completed their runs by the time the U.S. series took flight. Meanwhile, Bad Education is still a hot series (watch a trailer below). It posted a BBC Three series premiere ratings records with its launch last …
When Sherlock was filming its third series earlier this year, producer Sue Vertue pleaded with fans not to post about the show’s daily locations. She made the move after pictures of stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman started popping up on the internet, leading to potential spoilers. Now, the BBC has released its own first official photo. Sherlock returns to U.S. television on January 19th in the 10 PM slot following Downton Abbey, PBS said last month. The BBC has not released its start date for the next three-episode installment of the crime series, but will air ahead of the U.S. The episodes promise to answer how Sherlock faked his own death in series 2 ender The Reichenbach Fall, and, how John Watson will take the news:
Earlier this month, I wrote about gymnastics as a possible new frontier for celebrity competition shows, and about buzz that the BBC was readying such a project. The broadcaster has now made it official, commissioning Let’s Get Ready To Tumble. The show will air live in Saturday primetime and feature British celebs teamed with international gymnasts to tackle what are being described as “never-before-seen, new-to-TV disciplines.” The announcement could mean there will soon be two celebrity gymnastics formats in the international arena. I recently reported that CORE Media is developing Celebrity Champions in the U.S., an original format that sees former Olympians coach celebrities and has Mary Lou Retton attached as anchor judge. CORE is currently talking to U.S. networks.
With its Day of the Doctor celebration just around the corner, BBC has released a 50th anniversary trailer for its upcoming Doctor Who special. The program will be simulcast in the U.S. and UK and 75 countries on November 23. Glimpse the previous incarnations of the Doctor in the newly released promo:
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘We Are The Best!’ Sold To Half-Dozen Territories; ‘Rising Star’ Heads To Italy; More
‘We Are The Best!’ Headed To Screens In Six More Territories
Lukas Moodysson’s latest feature We Are The Best! has sealed a number of new distribution deals. TrustNordisk has added France (MK2), Russia (Caravella), Greece (One from the Heart), Mexico (Cannibal Networks), Hungary (Vertigo), Estonia (Estin Film) and Hong Kong (Edko) to the list of territories where the film will be released. The tale of three young outsiders in 1980s Stockholm who form a punk band debuted in Venice. Magnolia Pictures acquired it for the U.S. after it played in Toronto.
Latest Stop For Keshet’s ‘Rising Star’ Is Italy
Keshet International has locked another deal for Rising Star, its hit interactive talent show. Sony Pictures Television Group production company Toro will adapt the format for Italy. This follows recent deals in France, Russia, Germany and the Nordics. Rising Star was one of the hottest properties at the recent Mipcom TV market and incorporates real-time voting by viewers via a free app that is fully integrated into the show.
The BBC has commissioned more than 2,500 hours of programming that will span four years to mark the centenary of World War I. As part of the ambitious undertaking Rupert Murdoch will be interviewed about his father’s role as the whistle-blower who told the world the truth about the botched Gallipoli campaign in Turkey. The season kicks off in early 2014 and will run through 2018 on BBC TV, Radio and Online and across international, national and local services. At MipTV in April, BBC controller Ben Stephenson foreshadowed some of the plans when he announced five-part half-hour series The Great War from Life On Mars’ Tony Jordan. The series is now titled The Passing-Bells and will be stripped over one week. Other highlights include drama The Ark from Sarah Phelps (Great Expectations) and starring Oona Chaplin, Hermione Norris and Kerry Fox as a dedicated team of medics; factual drama 37 Days about the lead up to war with Ian McDiarmid and Tim Pigott-Smith; four-part documentary Britain’s Great War; and My Great War, a film based on the unseen archive of hundreds of hours of interviews with veterans that the BBC shot in 1964.