Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

Catch up on the film stories you missed this week:

Kevin and Sam Sorbo‘God’s Not Dead’s Kevin Sorbo Takes Hollywood & Media To Task As He Backs Crowdfunding Campaign For Telefilm On Convicted Abortion Doctor Kermit Gosnell
By Anita Busch
EXCLUSIVE: Kevin Sorbo is co-star of the past two weekends’ box office pleaser God’s Not Dead, which has pulled in $24M to date on a $2M budget. Now he is putting his name behind an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to help launch the tele-production of Gosnell – the story of the Philadelphia doctor who ran the abortion clinic from hell and was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder — but not without taking a shot at the media and Hollywood.

Keanu Reeves, Eli Roth To Team On Thriller ‘Knock Knock’
By Mike Fleming, Jr.
EXCLUSIVE: There are going to be plenty of film packages that spark buyers at Cannes, and here’s a fresh one that isn’t even waiting for the Croisette. Keanu Reeves has just committed to star for Eli Roth in Knock Knock, a psychological thriller that Roth wrote and will direct.

‘Game Of Thrones’ Actress Gwendoline Christie Replacing Lily Rabe In ‘Hunger Games’
By Mike Fleming, Jr.
While Lionsgate hasn’t divulged how it will deal with the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman as it goes forward with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, the studio has just confirmed that it is replacing Lily Rabe in the role of Commander Lyme with Gwendoline Christie, who plays Brienne on HBO’s Game Of Thrones. Read More »

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Cannes: Before Action Starts On ‘Crouching Tiger 2,’ Harvey Weinstein Woos Donnie Yen And Yuen Wo Ping For ‘Seven Samurai’

Mike Fleming

Right after my Deadline Hollywood colleague Pete Hammond moderated a Weinstein Company panel this morning on Big Eyes, the film that Tim Burton will direct with Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams, I … Read More »

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CANNES TOLDJA! Weinstein Co Beginning Production on ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ Sequel

Mike Fleming

Deadline’s Mike Fleming reported several months back that The Weinstein Company was setting a production start in Asia on a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Here’s the official release that just dropped confirming Crouching Dragon Hidden Tiger II — The Green Destiny and that Yuen Wo Ping, the legendary fight choreographer responsible from the high-wire action work in the original pic, will direct this one. He and sequel writer John Fusco worked together on The Forbidden Kingdom. Here’s the release:

New York, NY (May 16, 2013) – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today production of CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON II – THE GREEN DESTINY will begin in March 2014 in Asia. Yuen Wo Ping is set to direct with Donnie Yen starring as Silent Wolf and Michelle Yeoh reprising her role as Yu Shu Lien. The screenplay is based on IRON KNIGHT, SILVER VASE by Wang Du Lu, book 5 in the CRANE-IRON PENTALOGY series, on which the original CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON was based. The screenplay is written by John Fusco (FORBIDDEN KINGDOM, HIDALGO, SPIRIT) and will be produced by Harvey Weinstein and David Thwaites, co-produced by Johnny Levin with Executive Producer Anthony Wong. Yucaipa Films is co-financing the project.

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Sony Pictures Classics’ Michael Barker And Tom Bernard On Why Oscars Matter

Pete Hammond

When it comes to Oscar savvy we often hear Harvey Weinstein talked about as the kingpin of the game, but when you look at the success of Sony Pictures Classics you realize it rivals Weinstein, Searchlight, Focus and other comers in consistently, and annually, releasing and nurturing one contender after another in the quest for the elusive statuette of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Since the company was founded in December 1991, key to its success has been its co-Presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard who first worked together in similar specialty divisions at United Artists and Orion and now continue to run one of the most stable indie shops in the industry. But with a total of 25 Oscar wins  and 109 nominations just at SPC they clearly have the Midas touch, and that includes a slew of Best Picture nominations for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (their biggest hit to date), Howard’s End, Capote, An Education, Midnight In Paris and this year’s Amour which won the Palme d’Or in Cannes and has amassed five Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film, only the fifth film in Academy history to be named in both categories. With writing and directing nods for Michael Haneke as well as a realistic Best Actress bid for star Emmanuelle Riva the film looks to be another strong contender for the pair who continue to be one of the few high profile companies that still champions foreign language films. SPC serves up a wide variety of specialty fare of all types and always seems to find a footing in the Oscar race which has become an important part of their business plan. With two contenders for Best Documentary and two for Best Foreign Language Film in addition to the Best Picture bid, the pair are fixtures at every major film festival and are once again making lots of noise in their high season. I spoke to both late last week about the upcoming Oscars and what it means to their bottom line.

Deadline: How important is this Oscar business to the actual business of Sony Pictures Classics?
Bernard: It’s part of the  business for Sony Pictures Classics because we can get movies, or have movies, that won’t get the recognition that they deserve any other way. And if they get that recognition what we have found is that the boxoffice and ancillary and profits of these movies get much better. We can go all the way back to Camille Claudel when we had Isabelle Adjani and somebody close to her suggested that you should run a campaign for her for Best Actress and we said ‘it will never happen, no one will watch the movie. We can’t get them to the theatre. And the person said ‘well why don’t you send out VHS cassettes to the Academy’ so we did and sent them to the actors branch and lo and behold we got a nomination. And it took that movie to a level it would have never gotten if it didn’t happen. Read More »

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Weinstein Co Readying ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ Sequel For May Start

By | Thursday January 24, 2013 @ 2:39pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company has set a May production start in Asia on a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. There is a script by John Fusco, and TWC is in talks with veteran Chinese director Ronny Yu. Harvey Weinstein is producing.

The new film is derived from the same source material as the Ang Lee-directed 2000 film that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and three other Academy Awards. Lee isn’t involved in this one, which is based on Silver Vase, Iron Knight. That is the fifth book in the Crane-Iron Pentalogy by Wang Du Lu. Crouching Tiger was the fourth book in the series. Fusco, whose credits include Spirit, Hidalgo and The Forbidden Kingdom, is an avid follower of Wu Sia, the centuries-old genre of Chinese fiction that this series is part of.

“This was an opportunity to explore a lifelong passion I’ve had for Wu Sia, and if there wasn’t continuing source material, I would never have gotten involved,” Fusco told me.

The sequel continues to revolve around Yu Shu Lien, the character played in the original by Michelle Yeoh. It’s not immediately clear yet which actors will reprise, but some likely will. “This introduces a new generation of star-crossed lovers, and a new series of antagonists in a battle of good and evil. It has a Knights Errant quality. There is an alternate universe in the books, a martial forest that exists alongside the real world, full of wandering sword fighters, medicine men, defrocked priests, poets, sorcerers and Shaolin renegades. It’s so vast and rich, and I found characters from the second and third books in the series to create a most interesting stew while being as true to the source material as I could be.”

TWC and Sony had battled several years ago over the rights to the books left behind by the author, who died in 1977. Reports quoted his son, Hong Wang, saying his family made very little money from the original film, and that they went out to make another deal. TWC feels it walked away with those theatrical rights and is going ahead with its film, which has a budget north of $20 million. Read More »

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