In late March, BBC Director General Tony Hall announced the broadcaster’s greatest commitment to the arts in a generation. Part of the plans outlined at the time called for a further three filmed adaptations of Shakespeare’s History plays for …
Catch up on Deadline’s top film stories you missed this week:
James Franco’s Production Company Acquires Book About So-Bad-It’s-Good Cult Movie ‘The Room’
By The Deadline Team – James Franco’s Rabbit Bandini Productions has optioned book and life rights to The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the book published last fall by Simon & Schuster from actor Greg Sestero and journalist Tom Bissell.
BOX OFFICE: ‘Lego’ Blockbuster $69M+; ‘Monuments Men’ Solid Second; ‘Vampire Academy’ Has No Bite
By Anita Busch – The Lego Movie is in the record books as the biggest animated pic opener of all time for Warner Bros., surpassing Happy Feet which opened to $41.5M in 2006 (and went onto gross $384.3M worldwide). It’s also the biggest opener ever for the studio in February.
Universal Closes $1 Million Spec Deal For ‘Mena,’ 80s Drug Tale Ron Howard Will Direct
By Mike Fleming Jr. – EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures today closed a $1 million spec deal for Mena, a script by Gary Spinelli that has Ron Howard attached to direct.
Berlin Record Deal: Harvey Weinstein Pays $7 Million For Alan Turing WWII Tale ‘The Imitation Game’
By Mike Fleming Jr. – EXCLUSIVE: In what I am told will go down as the highest price paid ever for U.S. rights on a movie at the European Film Market, The Weinstein Company has locked a deal to pay $7 million for The Imitation Game, the Graham Moore Black List script that Morten Tyldum directed with Benedict Cumberbatch playing Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the Allies win WWII.
EXCLUSIVE: In what I am told will go down as the highest price paid ever for U.S. rights on a movie at the European Film Market, The Weinstein Company has locked a deal to pay $7 million for The Imitation Game, the Graham Moore Black List script that Morten Tyldum directed with Benedict Cumberbatch playing Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the Allies win WWII. Keira Knightley also stars in a film that will be shaped as a major release for the next awards season.
CAA brokered this deal based on a promo reel that had five bidders going after it hard before TWC just took it off the table, with the feeling that it has one of its major Oscar hopefuls for the next race. TWC currently has Philomena in the Best Picture race that will be decided next month.
Compared to the small sales of Sundance, this is a whopper. Harvey and Bob Weinstein and their team headed by COO David Glasser bested five competitors that sparked to a 15-minute compilation of scenes on a picture that has just gone into postproduction. The film also stars Mark Strong and Matthew Goode, and it’s produced by Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman. It was Schwarzman’s Black Bear Pictures label that took the risk on the film after Warner Bros let it go. The TWC acquisition team of Robert Walak, Negeen Yazdi and Dan Guando chased this script for a year. TWC’s Michal Steinberg closed the deal.
‘Everest’ Update: Sony Eyes March For Doug Liman’s Pic; Universal, Baltasar Kormakur Lose Co-Fi But Still Plan November Climb
EXCLUSIVE: What’s going on with the two studio-backed movies titled Everest, about two spectacularly different incidents that took place on the same hill? Well let me tell you. Both films have weathered missteps, but the filmmakers behind each say …
WikiLeaks and its embattled founder Julian Assange keep trying to make it crystal clear they don’t support DreamWorks‘ upcoming The Fifth Estate. Today WikiLeaks published the first of Assange’s letters to Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays him in the October 18 release, denying the actor’s request to meet prior to production. The pic directed by Bill Condon is based on Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange and the World’s Most Dangerous Website by Daniel Domscheit-Berg and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy by David Leigh and Luke Harding, which Assange calls “toxic” and “the two most discredited books on the market”. WikiLeaks previously posted a version of the Fifth Estate script online along with a rather exhaustive memo detailing everything the film gets wrong. Here’s the Assange letter:
Thank you for trying to contact me. It is the first approach by anyone from the Dreamworks production to me or WikiLeaks.
My assistants communicated your request to me, and I have given it a lot of thought and examined your previous work, which I am fond of.
I think I would enjoy meeting you.
The bond that develops between an actor and a living subject is significant.
If the film reaches distribution we will forever be correlated in the public imagination. Our paths will be forever entwined. Each of us will be granted standing to comment on the other for many years to come and others will compare our characters and trajectories.
But I must speak directly.
The Toronto Film Festival got off to a strong start with Bill Condon‘s penetrating and thought-provoking The Fifth Estate, the story of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. But it’s not a dry procedural or recital of recent headlines. This riveting drama is a character study of a narcissistic personality out of control, a man not afraid to leak everyone else’s secrets but his own. Benedict Cumberbatch, who can do no wrong lately, is brilliant as Assange. And Daniel Bruhl, who plays his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg, clearly is going to have a problem this awards season: He’s not only absolutely terrific in this role, he’s equally great in Ron Howard’s Rush which premieres here Sunday. When I told him right after the film he was going to be the breakout star of this festival, he just laughed. But take my word, this guy is the real deal and this is his year — if these two stirring supporting turns don’t cannibalize each other. As the film credits finished, Bruhl came up and hugged Condon, throwing superlatives his way. Bruhl had only previously seen a very rough cut of the film and was blown away by the final results.
He should be. This film is reminiscent of the great political thrillers of the 1970s. Most will probably compare it to the recent The Social Network, since it deals with the Internet and all its possibilities, but it is far more akin to the social dramas that defined ’70s Hollywood filmmaking. In fact, let me go out on a limb: This is the best film of its kind to hit the screen since All The President’s Men in 1976. Condon’s direction is reminiscent of the style employed by Alan Pakula in that film and others from the era like The Parallax View and Klute. And it moves like a freight train. Naysayers may quibble with the dense storyline but the acting is uniformly excellent (David Thewlis, Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney are other standouts). Where The Fifth Estate succeeds so strongly is in taking a fluid ripped-from-the-headlines story and making it timeless. Unlike last year’s Zero Dark Thirty, which had to completely rework its story when Osama bin Laden was suddenly captured and killed, this film is a complete character study and won’t be judged by ever-changing events. Some people may not care and that’s their problem but hopefully there’s an audience out there for a smart adult drama like this, but what you take away from it could depend what, from your own experience, you bring to it. I know this much: As a study of a person whose whole world view revolves only around themselves, this is as good as it gets. Assange has, sight unseen, already dismissed the film, but in a clever coda the movie even addresses that criticism. That’s how smart this thing is.
Stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman were never scheduled to appear in person at Sherlock’s debut Comic-Con panel but they showed up anyway – via video. Both actors filmed short shout-outs to the very loud jam packed Ballroom 20 of the San Diego Convention Center. “Make sure you really scream and shout and ask them lots of belligerent questions,” quipped Freeman to the fans about the in-person panel of co-creators/EPs Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and producer Sue Vertue. Working on a Peter Jackson’s still filming sequel, Freeman was in full Hobbit makeup and shades in his clip. The just Emmy-nominated Cumberbatch on the other hand was more casually dressed in his pre-taped appearance. After joking that he was doing a junket for Star Trek Into Darkness and other projects before talking about Sherlock, the vacationing actor launched into a long edited mimed play on how the character survived the fall he took in the Season 2 ender and what it’s like to play a modern version of Holmes. “It’s more fun making than watching,” Cumberbatch also told the crowd as he thanked the fans for watching and showing up. The BBC show, seen here on PBS, has currently finished two episodes of its upcoming Season 3 and about to start on a third.