Nigerian Censor OKs ‘Half Of A Yellow Sun’ Release
Nigeria has given a greenlight to the distribution of Chiwetel Ejiofor starrer Half Of A Yellow Sun. The drama will be released August 1, after being certified by the National Film and Video Censors Board. It previously was due to open in April, but some scenes were deemed objectionable at the time, the BBC notes. Thandie Newton also stars in the adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s best-selling novel. Set in 1960s Nigeria, the story brings audiences into a country torn apart by civil war and shows how the interwoven lives of four central characters intersect during a struggle to establish an independent republic of Nigeria. Biyi Bandele is the director. In a statement, Shareman Media and FilmOne Distribution thanked Nigerians for their “patience and support”.
‘My Man Can’ Game Show Headed To France French television network NRJ 12 has ordered a local version of Red Arrow International’s game show format My Man Can. The premise sees four women gamble with the abilities of their partners, putting their man’s courage and skills to the ultimate test. It’s been sold to more than 30 countries worldwide. In France, Enibas Productions will produce it under the moniker, Cheri T´es Le Meilleur (Sweetie, You’re The Best).
EXCLUSIVE: New Regency has acquired the nonfiction book Marching Powder and will develop it as a star vehicle for Chiwetel Ejiofor. He is coming off an Oscar nomination for 12 Years A Slave, which New Regency produced with River Road, Plan B and Fox Searchlight released. Pic will be based on the Rusty Young and Thomas McFadden book Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America’s Strangest Jail.
Ejiofor will play McFadden, a convicted English drug trafficker who ran tours inside Bolivia’s notorious San Pedro prison. Young, an Australian journalist, heard about McFadden’s prison life while backpacking in South America, and he bribed the guards to allow him to live in the prison and share a cell with McFadden. The two went on to chronicle one of the strangest and most compelling prison stories of all time. Basically, the inmates ran the place. They were expected to buy their cells from real estate agents. There were shops and restaurants, and hundreds of women and children live with imprisoned family members. Corrupt politicians and drug lords lived in luxury apartments. While kids ran around during the day, some of Bolivia’s busiest cocaine laboratories percolated at night. Read More »
IM Global is coming to the Riviera with its biggest Cannes slate ever, and has just added a project that’s got a big awards pedigree. Oscar nominated writer Billy Ray (Captain Phillips, The Hunger Games) is set to helm The Secret In Their Eyes from his own screenplay that’s adapted from Juan José Campanella’s 2009 Foreign Language Film Oscar winner. Best Actor Oscar nominee and BAFTA winner Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow are playing the lead roles in the crime thriller. Oscar and Emmy winner Mark Johnson (Rain Man, Breaking Bad) is producing along with John Ufland. IM Global starts sales on the project in Cannes with production scheduled to start this fall in Boston.
Ejiofor will play a former MI-5 agent who returns to Boston on a joint task force with the FBI, still obsessed by the unsolved murder that continues to haunt him. As he inches closer to solving the crime, he uncovers a shocking truth that will shed a terrifying new light on past events. IM Global founder and CEO Stuart Ford says, “Billy has written a wonderfully intelligent, twisting screenplay and we’re lucky enough to have attached two world class acting talents at the top of their game for Secret. We’re confident of bringing further great cast on board as we move towards production.” Johnson adds, “The thought of combining the originality of the original film with the talent of Billy Ray and the support off IM Global is irresistible.” Ford, Matt Jackson and Campanella are exec producing. CAA arranged financing for the film and reps domestic rights. Ray is repped by CAA and Management 360; Ejiofor is repped by CAA and Alex Irwin at Markham, Froggatt and Irwin; and Paltrow is repped by Shani Rosenzweig and Tracey Jacobs at UTA and Aleen Keshishian at Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
As IM Global evolves into what founder and CEO Stuart Ford calls “an international facing studio,” the company continues to work with diverse filmmakers from all corners. Ford says, “It’s very exciting and a real privilege to be the platform for so many great movies and such phenomenal talent.”
The Secret In Their Eyes joins a host of other IM Global titles including Forsaken from Gravity co-writer Jonas Cuaron. Formerly known as Desierto, the thriller stars Gael García Bernal and Jeffrey Dean Morgan Read More »
The 1963 Oscar ceremony marked a significant milestone in the history of the Academy Awards—and for African-American actors. Sidney Poitier took the best actor prize for Lilies Of The Field, an “Amen” moment, to quote the best picture nominee’s famous song, if ever there was one. Until Poitier, only Hattie McDaniel, who won best supporting actress in 1939 for Gone With The Wind, held the distinction for any African-American actor, and it would take another two decades after Poitier’s seminal win for it to happen again (when An Officer And A Gentleman’s Louis Gossett Jr. won a supporting statuette in 1982). After presenter Anne Bancroft opened the envelope and excitedly read Poitier’s name, he bounded to the stage as the orchestra played “Amen” and he famously called it, “a long journey to this moment.” Poitier said he didn’t expect to win, and many predicted Tom Jones star Albert Finney would take it. (Neither Finney nor the other nominated actors—Paul Newman (Hud), Richard Harris (This Sporting Life) and Rex Harrison (Cleopatra)—were in attendance, but that was not uncommon in Oscar’s earlier days.) After all, Tom Jones would prove to be the evening’s big winner, taking best picture and three other Oscars.
UPDATED WITH FULL LIST OF WINNERS AND REACTIONS: Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave rallied from a slow stat to win the Best Film award tonight at the 62nd BAFTA Film Awards in London. The slave drama from Fox Searchlight had 10 nominations but won just two awards, after Chiwetel Ejiofor took the Leading Actor prize for playing Solomon Northup. Despite the marquee victory in the last major kudofest before the Oscars, it still seemed as though the night belonged to Warner Bros’ Gravity. The space drama picked up a leading six wins from its 11 overall nominations, including for Outstanding British Film — which will keep the debate going about just how British the pic is. Alfonso Cuaron won Best Director and the pic cleaned up in the craft categories, taking Sound, Cinematography and Special Visual Effects in addition to a nod for Steven Price’s Original Score. The BAFTA crowd at the packed Royal Opera House in Covent Garden exploded with each win for the movie, which had a leading 11 nominations going into the night.
Still, the 12 Years A Slave victory tonight maintains the film’s front-runner status going into the Oscars on March 2; the film also won the Golden Globe for Motion Picture-Drama. Many feel the Academy will lean the same way, honoring Gravity in the craft categories but not for the Best Picture. The two films have been going head to head all awards season, even scrapping to a rare tie in the PGA Awards contest. “It’s very important,” McQueen said backstage after the victory. “The way the public here — but not just here, in the U.S. — by going to see the picture, means a hell of a lot.” Added producer Brad Pitt: “This is an excuse for us to all get to gather and say job well done. We’re very proud of our work here, and it means a lot to us because of the people we got to work with.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Open Road Films has just completed a deal to pre-buy domestic distribution rights on Triple Nine, the John Hillcoat-directed heist thriller, which begins production this summer with a killer cast. Fruitvale Station’s Michael B. Jordan, Breaking Bad and Need For Speed‘s Aaron Paul, Warm Bodies’ Teresa Palmer, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman in the Batman Vs. Superman film) and End Of Watch‘s Michael Pena are in talks to join previously announced 12 Years A Slave‘s Chiwetel Ejiofor, Out of the Furnace’s Casey Affleck and Kate Winslet. Hillcoat, who just helmed that distinctive Super Bowl spot for Coke, wrote the script with Matt Cook. Open Road will release the film in 2015.
The rights deal comes on the eve of the European Film Market, where Sierra/Affinity is handling international sales for the project and will sell select territories in Berlin. In the drama, a crew of dirty cops is blackmailed by the Russian mob to execute a virtually impossible heist. The only way to pull it off is to manufacture a 999, police code for “officer down”. Their plan is turned upside down when the unsuspecting rookie they set up to die foils the attack, triggering a breakneck, action-packed finale filled with double-crosses, greed and revenge. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE:Monterey Media has secured rights to Half Of A Yellow Sun, co-starring Golden Globes-nominated 12 Years a Slavethesp Chiwetel Ejiofor. Half of a Yellow Sun is based on the novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and features Ejiofor as a revolutionary who falls in love with Olanna (Thandie Newton), one of two sisters whose stories unfold against the backdrop of the Nigerian-Biafran War. Anika Noni Rose also stars in the drama directed by Biyi Bandele. Half of a Yellow Sun is produced by Shareman Media and BFI in association with Metro International Entertainment and Kachifo Limited in association with Lip Sync Productions LLP and A Slate Films. Metro International’s Natalie Brenner and monterey’s Scott Mansfield negotiated the deal. The film, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, will open theatrically in early Summer. Read More »
2ND UPDATE, 4:10 PM: BIM Distribuzione has officially apologized for the 12 Years A Slave posters in Italy that featured more Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender than the film’s main star Chiwetel Ejiofor – ones that were unauthorized by Summit and Lionsgate. “We apologize for creating and releasing unauthorized posters for 12 Years A Slave in Italy featuring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender in a manner inconsistent with approved advertising materials. All inappropriate materials have now been withdrawn. We are very proud of the film and regret any distraction this incident may have caused.”
UPDATE, TUESDAY PM:We’ve now learned that Italian distributor BIM Distribuzione has agreed to stop distributing the materials in question and is in the process of recalling the unauthorized materials already in circulation.
PREVIOUSLY: Studios want to create buzz for their films, but you can probably bet this is not the kind of buzz envisioned for Oscar hopeful 12 Years A Slave. Posters for the race drama recently released in Italy feature separate images of Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender (who had small roles in the pic) prominently over a much tinier image of the film’s main star, black actor Chiwetel Ejiofor. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Ever since its debut at the Telluride Film Festival over the Labor Day weekend, Fox Searchlight‘s 12 Years A Slavehas been annointed, at least by some eager-to-call-the-race-early media members, as the movie that could take it all at the Oscars. Though it is far too early to say that with any conviction (it doesn’t open in theaters until next week and hasn’t even played its official Academy screening yet), it continues to register strongly on the Fest circuit. It hit the New York Film Festival Tuesday night where the cast led by Chiwetel Ejiofor, director Steve McQueen and other key creative players received a standing ovation, just as they did in Telluride and Toronto. Next week the film hits the BFI London Film Festival on October 18th, home turf for its British star and director, but telling a very American story. Searchlight clearly would be more comfortable not to be shackled with the front-runner label before the movie is able to catch its boxoffice wind. It’s always a perilous position as there is nowhere to go but down (just ask Social Network about that), but the film has drawn critical raves wherever it’s played and early audiences are clearly moved. The subject matter however is not easy, often gut-wrenching to watch, and needs to be carefully nurtured by Fox Searchlight which plans a slow rollout beginning next Friday. Read More »
BREAKING: Andrew Dosunmu will direct Focus Features’ drama with music Fela Kuti, which is currently in development. Focus CEO James Schamus and co-CEO Andrew Karpen announced the hiring. This is the film that has been developed with Chiwetel Ejiofor attached to star, and while a deal hasn’t gone down and nothing is definitive, he is hot stuff coming off the lead role in 12 Years A Slave. The film is separate from the Broadway musical. Focus has its own feature rights package that include Fela’s music, rights gathered by producers Lydia Pilcher and Leigh Blake.
Fela, considered Africa’s answer to Bob Marley, is as famous for his Afrobeat musical style — a fusion of jazz, funk and West African drums — as he was for speaking out against government oppression in Nigeria. He was a larger-than-life figure, had 27 wives, and his outspoken nature proved costly when his house was raided and his 78-year-old mother thrown to her death from a second-story window. He deposited the coffin on the steps of the Nigerian leader’s home. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose, and Chiwetel Ejiofor star in the Toronto-bound romantic drama adapted from Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s award-winning novel. Sisters Olanna (Newton) and Kainene (Rose) are privileged twins who return to 1960s Nigeria from abroad and take starkly divergent paths as the nation falls into a violent civil war. Biyi Bandele wrote and directed the pic which is produced by Andrea Calderwood and exec produced by Yewande Sadiku, Muhtar Bakare, Gail Egan, Norman Merry, and Peter Hampden. Metro is repping sales out of Toronto. Here’s an exclusive clip from Half of a Yellow Sun:
Chiwetel Ejiofor stars for director Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) in the true story of Solomon Northup, a free-born black man who was kidnapped, drugged, and sold into slavery in 1841 before regaining his freedom 12 years later. Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Quvenzhane Wallis, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, Scoot McNairy, Garrett Dillahunt, Alfre Woodard, Dwight Henry, and Michael K. Williams also star in the drama which Fox Searchlight will open October 18 with an eye on awards season. Watch the first 12 Years A Slavetrailer:
The Steve McQueen-directed Twelve Years A Slave is set for a limited platform release beginning December 27, Fox Searchlight announced today. Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Brad Pitt star in the film from Regency Enterprises and River Road that’s based on the true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom in the pre-Civil War America. It centers on Solomon Northup (Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York who is abducted and sold into slavery. Solomon faces cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner played by Fassbender) as well as unexpected kindness. In the 12th year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Pitt) will forever alter his life. The all-star cast also includes Oscar-nominee Quvenzhané Wallis, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Paul Giamatti, and Lupita Nyong’o. John Ridley penned the screenplay that’s based on the book by Northrup. McQueen and Pitt also produce along with DeDe Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Bill Pohlad, Arnon Milchan, and Anthony Katagas.
BBC Two’s star-studded five-part period drama Dancing On The Edge centers on a black jazz band in early 1930s London and debuts Monday in the UK. We’ve learned that Encore is in negotiations for the U.S. rights to the miniseries that stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matthew Goode, John Goodman, Jacqueline Bisset, Angel Coulby, Anthony Head, Janet Montgomery and Jenna-Louise Coleman. Stephen Poliakoff created the show tracing the rise of the Louis Lester Band as they find fame amongst the parties and performances of London’s upper class society. Although many recoil, the city’s more progressive socialites, including members of the Royal Household, take the band under their wing. Ruby Film and Television produces the series for BBC Two, backed by Endgame Entertainment, Playground, Creative England and LipSync Productions. Producers are Faye Ward and Nicky Kentish Barnes; Poliakoff exec produces with Alison Owen and Paul Trijbits. ITV Studios Global Entertainment is distributing outside the U.S. Here’s the trailer:
EXCLUSIVE: CAA has signed Chiwetel Ejiofor, shortly after the British actor starred as the principal character in the Steve McQueen-directed Twelve Years A Slave, opposite Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt.
Ejiofor, for my money one of the best actors around, has credits that include Dirty Pretty Things, Love Actually, Children Of Men, American Gangster, Salt and Inside Man. His next acting turn comes in the BBC production of the Stephen Poliakoff-directed Dancing On The Edge. He also wrote and directed the short film Slapper and is adapting the William Kamkwamba book The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind.
With the move, he ends a long run at ICM Partners. Ejiofor continues to be repped in the U.K. by Alex Irwin of Markham, Froggatt and Irwin and Jenne Casarotto of Casarotto, Ramsay & Associates, and attorney Robert Wallerstein.
Steve McQueen and Chiwetel Ejiofor are going to be seeing a lot of each other. McQueen has come aboard to direct Twelve Years a Slave, which will star Ejiofor in a true story about a New York man who was kidnapped in the mid-1800s and forced to become a slave on a Louisiana cotton plantation. Brad Pitt’s Plan B is producing. The news comes more than a year after Deadline told you that McQueen and Ejiofor are teaming on a Focus Features film based on the Broadway musical Fela!, about African musician-activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Ejiofor has learned to play piano and saxophone for that role. It’s unclear which of these movies will be made first. McQueen — who made waves with his debut film Hunger, about the Irish hunger strike that starred Michael Fassbender and earned the helmer the Camera d’Or at Cannes in 2008 — will premiere his latest feature, Shame, this fall in Venice. …
Film Movement has acquired North American rights to the Cannes Film Festival drama Corpo Celeste, the Italian-language feature that played in the Directors Fortnight sidebar. Alice Rohrwacher’s debut feature follows a 13-year-old girl’s coming-of-age in the poor southern Italian province of Calabria. The company plans a first-quarter 2012 theatrical launch day and date with VOD, with a national rollout to follow. Read More »
The Isle of Man-based equity investor has announced its first TV drama, a six-part thriller for the BBC. Until now CinemaNX has invested in features, covering up to 100% of the budget. Company Pictures (Skins) is making The Shadow Line, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (Children of Men) and Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who). Stephen Rea and Anthony Sher also feature. The writer/director is Hugo Blick (Marion and Geoff), who also produces. Company is making the conspiracy thriller with Blick’s regular producer Baby Cow. The Shadow Line will screen in 2011.
CinemaNX is always the lead investor in projects, which must shoot a minimum of 50% of their schedule in this small island off Liverpool. Ecosse Films is currently making romantic comedy The Decoy Bride on the Isle of Man, starring David Tennant, another ex-Doctor Who.
It’s also been releasing its own features through a tie-up with UK cinema chain Vue. Two features have been self-released this way, Me and Orson Welles and The Disappearance of Alice Creed. Next up for distribution are Chico and Rita and Albatross. It is also editing 3D motorcycling documentary TT3D about the famous Isle of Man TT race.
Other UK financiers tell me they cannot understand how CinemaNX keeps funding films when features like Me and Orson Welles and The Disappearance of Alice Creed do so poorly at the UK box office. However, I’m told that Orson Welles has washed its face, while The Disappearance of Alice Creed has been a … Read More »