And the hits just keep on coming.
You could tell from the smiles on the faces of Universal executives that Sunday night’s Toronto Film Festival premiere of the Formula 1 racing drama Rush was a smash hit at the Roy Thomson Hall. Not only did the filmmakers, including director Ron Howard, receive enthusiastic standing ovations, but the real-life subject of the film, Niki Lauda, received a rousing standing O when introduced after the film finished.
The story is a powerful one, revolving around the intense rivalry during one season in the 1970s between drivers Lauda and James Hunt, and what happens during the course of that year is the stuff of great human drama. Initially Universal passed on the film when first pitched, even with studio golden boy and Oscar-winner Ron Howard involved. But as circumstance would have it, it all came around again after the film was produced independently (Howard’s first indie since the start of his career with Grand Theft Auto) for a reported $45 million, and Universal is proudly releasing it after all. Universal chairman Adam Fogelson told me he is extremely excited to be launching the film and has great confidence in it. “We are going to make this work,” he said with certainty. The reaction here Sunday night can only increase his confidence.
At the Thompson Hotel post-screening party, everyone involved was getting great compliments on the finished film across the board. Especially Howard, who noted that not only men were responding but surprisingly women, too. “Women responded to the movie differently, but even with more emotion and intensity than men, both genders testing it super high,” he said of the film, which is not your typical Formula 1 racing movie, but a great character study that happens to be set in the world of auto racing. I first saw it early in the marketing process in May and thought then, and still now, that the pure emotion of the story of the rivalry between these racing icons would have great appeal way beyond the partisans of the sport. I also think it has Academy potential with no-brainer nominations for Anthony Dod Mantle’s superb cinematography, the editing, sound, Hans Zimmer’s score and Daniel Bruhl‘s stunning supporting turn as Lauda, who endures a horrific accident on the track. That’s all in addition to possible directing, writing and picture considerations.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is in talks with Benjamin Walker, who played the prexy in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, to join Chris Hemsworth and Tom Holland in In The Heart Of The Sea, the Ron Howard-directed adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick book about the whale attack on the Essex which became the basis for Melville’s Moby Dick. Brian Grazer is producing with Joe Roth, Paula Weinstein and William Ward, with Palak Patel exec producing. Warner Bros is making the film with Village Roadshow Pictures. Walker is in talks to play George Pollard, the arrogant privileged son of a whaling family who attempts to use his family name to gain captaincy, and who butts heads with shipmate Chase (Hemsworth), who knows the job and the sea much better. Pollard’s rep is ruined because of a mishap with another ship and he is relegated to night watchmen duty for the rest of his life.
He is Hollywood’s hottest new action movie star, so there’ll be a feeding frenzy when Chris Hemsworth decides to take new agency meetings. ”He is not taking meetings for now but maybe in a few months,” an insider tells us. …
EXCLUSIVE: Chris Hemsworth, who has been in the middle of two of the summer’s big films in The Avengers and Snow White And The Huntsman, is in the center of the hot package making the rounds right now, even though it’s not exactly a brand new package. Hemsworth is attached to star in In The Heart Of The Sea, which is the disaster tale that inspired Melville’s Moby Dick. Based on the National Book Award-winning book by Nathaniel Philbrick, In The Heart Of The Sea is the fact-based tale of Nantucket whaling ship the Essex, which was stalked and ultimately destroyed by a sperm whale in 1820. Stranded thousands of miles from home, the crew struggled to survive; they were lost at sea for 90 days. Eight were rescued.
This version of the project has Joe Roth producing with Paula Weinstein, Will Ward and Palak Patel. The latter, who works with Roth, used to work for Weinstein and is a big reason this project has gotten another chance to get made. I hear that DreamWorks has the inside track on the project, but is not the only studio in the mix. DreamWorks would not comment.
The script was written by Charles Leavitt, who scripted Blood Diamond. I read the book when it was first set up in 2000, when Bary Levinson and Weinstein were partners and expected to make it together at Intermedia. It was a fine book and has the makings of a logistically complex depiction of a grueling tale of survival. It stalled but came back around later when Ed Zwick became attached to direct it at New Regency.
Hot Trailer: ‘Snow White And The Huntsman’ With Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron And Chris Hemsworth
Universal Pictures has released an extended new trailer for the Rupert Sanders-directed Snow White And The Huntsman, the revisionist fairy tale that will be released June 1. The studio has also released a featurette on the making of a film that stars Charlize Theron as the sinister queen, Kristen Stewart as Snow, and Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman. The fantasy setting looks a lot like Middle Earth. Universal debuted the trailer on Comcast-owned Xfinity.com. Trailer is below, followed by the featurette. It looks pretty compelling, and the key is whether the young crowd that wants to see Snow White wrapped in chain mail and wielding a sword. Will those images be too upsetting? Similarly ominous images did not keep them away from Alice In Wonderland, which triggered the fairy tale frenzy.
Tim Adler is a contributor to AwardsLine.
It was an overcast morning in London last October when, in the magisterial headquarters of BAFTA, upstairs at 195 Piccadilly, 11 people were seated around a heavy wooden boardroom table, preparing to make a decision that could have a profound impact on some young actors’ future. Black and white photographs of previous BAFTA awards ceremonies — Britain’s closest equivalent to the Oscars — hung on the high-ceilinged walls. Sienna Miller, Simon Pegg and Harry Potter director David Yates were among those deciding who should make it onto the shortlist of eight names being proposed for this year’s Orange Wednesdays Rising Star Award. (It would be down to customers of UK telco Orange to decide on the final five young stars being groomed for stardom.) The public votes for the winner, which will be announced along with all British Academy of Film and Television Arts winners tonight in London.
James McAvoy, Tom Hardy and Noel Clarke have won the Orange Rising Star in the past. That’s why the honor is important: It acts as a kind of early-warning system for Hollywood about talent coming its way. Hardy is now co-starring in the new Batman movie, while McAvoy was the lead in X-Men: First Class. Clarke will appear in the next instalment of Star Trek. “The Rising Star award is very useful in terms of shining a light on actors who have done a couple of roles but aren’t stars yet,” says jury chair Pippa Harris, producing partner of Sam Mendes. “Because it’s a public vote, it’s fantastic in terms of giving them a platform. The award is definitely something that Hollywood looks at for fresh talent.” Clarke, who got his first break in Doctor Who, is a case in point. WME picked the multi-hyphenate for U.S. representation after he won the Rising Star in 2009.