Danny Boyle‘s production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at London’s National Theatre is coming to select U.S. cinemas June 6-7. The two-night showing is presented by NCM’s Fathom Events, in collaboration with National Theatre Live and BY Events. Boyle’s Frankenstein was written by Nick Dear and starred Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch — the actors alternated playing Dr. Victor Frankenstein and the Creature. Those performances earned the pair a joint Best Actor prize at London’s Evening Standard Theatre Awards in 2011. Boyle’s production of Dear’s reinterpretation of the gothic tale was filmed twice, so audiences can see both men in both parts. Originally performed and recorded live in March of last year, Frankenstein will be broadcast to more than 200 U.S. movie theaters. As Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva has noted, Miller has been cast as Sherlock Holmes in CBS’ pilot Elementary while Cumberbatch can be currently seen playing a modern-day Sherlock in PBS’ Sherlock, which just kicked off its second season in the U.S.
For the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, movie director Danny Boyle said he’s aiming for intimacy rather than spectacle. “We wanted to make the feel of the opening ceremony … intimate and personal,” he said in an interview today. The anticipated TV audience of a billion viewers is important, “but we wanted the 80,000 people who were lucky enough to be in there to be the conduit through which you feel this experience.” The ceremony will be called “Isles of Wonder” and it will involve a big bell and lots of nurses. The nurses are part of a tribute to the National Health Service, and the title was inspired by William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. A specially cast bell will ring out to signal the start of the opening ceremony. The bell will be inscribed with Caliban’s line in The Tempest: “Be not afear’d; the isle is full of noises.”
EXCLUSIVE: Hot off co-writing Trance for director Danny Boyle, Joe Ahearne has sold an untitled supernatural thriller pitch to Warner Bros. Dan Lin will produce under his Lin Pictures banner. Lin’s veep Jon Silk came up with an idea they are keeping under wraps and Ahearne expanded it before they pitched it to the studio and came away with a deal. Silk will be co-producer and WB’s Matt Cherniss is overseeing it. It’s the British writer’s second deal with Warner Bros, which recently hired him to rewrite Elf Quest for Rawson Thurber to direct. Thurber wrote the original draft. Ahearne will write Elf Quest and start the new pitch at the same time.
Trance, which stars James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson, is currently in production in London. Boyle will complete the shoot, then put it down to focus on directing the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. He’ll then pick Trance back up and complete the picture. Ahearne, who wrote the feature script with John Hodge, wrote and directed the 2001 BBC telepic that Trance is based on. Ahearne also created the British vampire miniseries Ultraviolet that starred Idris Elba and Stephen Moyer, and Apparitions. He’s repped by ICM and Principal Entertainment, as well as UK-based United Agents.
EXCLUSIVE: Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, here for today’s world premiere of his latest film The Intruders, is Summit Entertainment’s choice to direct Highlander. That is the reboot of the 1986 film about immortals who battle with swords, and live and die by the mantra that “there can be only one.” Fresnadillo is now in discussions to direct a film that Summit will co-finance with RCR Media Group. Fresnadillo is also attached to direct a reboot of The Crow, which has Bradley Cooper attached.
Fresnadillo, who first attracted Hollywood’s attention with the genre film Intacto, followed with the superb 28 Weeks Later. Today he unveils Intruders, an intense psychological drama that stars Clive Owen as a father who cannot protect his young daughter from faceless intruders. The film also stars Daniel Bruhl, who starred Inglourious Basterds and next stars as Formula One racer Niki Lauda in the Ron Howard-directed Rush. The film is an acquisition title that is high on many buyers’ lists, and the director’s UTA reps are selling it.
EXCLUSIVE: Rosario Dawson has won the hotly contested female lead in the Danny Boyle-directed Fox Searchlight drama Trance. She is poised to join James McAvoy and Vincent Cassel, who are both in negotiations to play the male leads in a film that will start production in September. McAvoy’s in talks to play the inside man in an art heist that goes wrong. He runs afoul of an accomplice (Cassel), and Dawson will play a woman who develops an unusual relationship with both men in a thriller that is as moderately budget and edgy as Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. Joe Ahearne and John Hodge wrote the script.
Deadline was first to reveal Trance in early May, when Boyle decided to work in a follow-up to 127 Hours even as he prepares to direct the opening ceremonies of next summer’s Olympics in London. He’s re-teaming with frequent producing collaborator Christian Colson. They will shoot the movie in the fall in London, then put it on a shelf while Boyle devotes himself to the Olympics beginning in January. When the games are over, Boyle will start cutting the film in August 2012 with the goal of having the picture ready for Fox Searchlight to release it in March 2013.
EXCLUSIVE: Director Danny Boyle will follow his Oscar-nominated 127 Hours with Trance, a thriller that will shoot in London this September. I’m told it’s an art heist gone wrong, and it’s got the dark, sexy, hard-edged tone of Boyle films like Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. The film reunites Boyle with his 127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire producing partner Christian Colson, and they are in talks with Fox Searchlight and Pathe for funding and worldwide distribution. It wasn’t clear whether Boyle would make a film before directing the opening ceremonies of next summer’s Olympics in London. Here’s how he’ll handle it. The film will be shot in September — Boyle and Colson have begun talking up British and U.S. talent — and after the film’s shooting is completed, Boyle will put it on a shelf. He’ll devote himself exclusively to the Olympics beginning next January. Next August, he’ll return to the film, and cut it with the anticipation that Trance will be ready for theatrical distribution in March 2013. The film will be in the mid-teen-budget range, which has proven to be Boyle’s wheelhouse. Slumdog Millionaire cost $15 million, while 127 Hours cost $18 million. Those films grossed $450 million or so between them. Boyle’s repped by WME and UK-based Independent Talent.
EXCLUSIVE: Timur Bekmambetov has won a spec auction for Maggie, a script that sparked a spirited auction today, with six bidders. Bekmambetov will produce a film that has a script by John Scott 3, and vfx wiz Henry Hobson set to direct. Why did so many bidders spark to the script? Aside from offering some inventive twists on the popular zombie genre, Maggie is a blueprint for a genre movie that can be made for between $4 million and $8 million. That budget range has suddenly become highly desirable for distributors looking to make genre films in the mold of Paranormal Activity.
Maggie is a 16-year old girl from a town in middle America who becomes infected by a zombie. Much the way that Danny Boyle changed the lumbering zombie stereotype by speeding up the undead in 28 Days Later, Maggie changes the lightning quick infection period evident in most zombie films, where victims become zombies in minutes. It will take six weeks for Maggie to turn, and the film tracks the transformation as she stays with her family. Trevor Kaufman will produce with Bekmambetov.
When he’s not writing scripts, the writer builds commanding for NASA’s flagship X-ray satellite. He works with the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, which takes photos of X-ray photons in deep space. Hobson was trained at the Royal College of Art in London as a graphic designer, and specializes in creating inventive title sequences for films that included Sherlock …
‘World War Z’ With Brad Pitt And Marc Forster Regroups; Can It Beat Imminent Zombie Pic Infestation?
While there have been reports that Paramount might kill World War Z because of a $125 million budget and no partners, I’m hearing that hot and heavy talks are going on with David Ellison’s Skydance and as many as two other financiers to share the load on a movie that is gearing up for production as soon as June. The plan remains for Brad Pitt to star and for Marc Forster to direct the adaptation Max Brooks’ novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. The book looked at the aftermath of a global zombie war 10 years after the conflict, with a researcher for the UN Postwar Commission interviewing survivors in countries that were decimated by flesh eaters. It was thorough, and a thoroughly creepy read. Matt Carnahan wrote the script.
The temptation is to joke about the irony of a zombie project coming back to life after it was pronounced near dead. As a devotee of great zombie movies from George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, Zack Snyder’s spirited Dawn of the Dead remake and genre spoofs Zombieland and Shaun Of The Dead, I am excited enough by WWZ that I hope it stays on its fast track. Because if it waits around much longer, Hollywood might by that time have killed off the genre with an …
The reviews are in — and London’s critics are swooning after sitting through two nights of director Danny Boyle’s production of Frankenstein at the National Theatre. Boyle had actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller playing the parts of Dr. Frankenstein and the Monster on Tuesday night. Then the thesps swapped roles for Wednesday night. The Guardian called Boyle’s production “a bravura triumph … a stunning evening”, while The Times has called it “a theatrical coup”. Oscar-winner Boyle’s work, the paper continued, “is the equivalent of jamming your fingers into a plug socket”. Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph’s review concludes: “Boyle, returning to the theatre after his Oscar-winning success with Slumdog Millionaire, pulls off something truly spectacular here. The Frankenstein story has become so familiar that it might seem an impossible task to make the old story seem fresh. Yet somehow Boyle does just that.” The Daily Express struck the only sour note, saying that Nick Dear’s script “often dragged as badly as the Creature’s foot when he learnt to walk”. The National Theatre will use high tech to beam Boyle’s Frankenstein production from the London stage to the U.S. in hi-def to 85 cinemas on March 17th and then on March 23rd. Audiences in Los Angeles will be able to see it at the Mann Chinese 6 in Hollywood. (For more background, see Danny Boyle Does …
He wryly described his career directing films, including the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire and the currently Oscar-nominated 127 Hours, as “a long distraction” recently. That’s because Danny Boyle made his name directing on the British stage, and his hot ticket National Theatre production of Frankenstein started previews tonight. It’s the first play he has directed in 15 years and his staging is unique: his actors will alternate the roles of Victor Frankenstein and The Creature. Starring Jonny Lee Miller (who starred in the recent season of Dexter as “Jordan Chase”) and Benedict Cumberbatch (star of the BBC hit Sherlock), Frankenstein will be broadcast via satellite live in hi-def to 370 cinemas globally on March 17th, including 85 sites in the U.S. The play also will be broadcast to the UK and Europe on March 24th. It is estimated that around 100,000 people worldwide will watch both shows with the idea they can compare and contrast the performances. Miller will play Frankenstein with Cumberbatch as the monster on March 17th, then they will swap roles on March 24th. It may be the only chance most people to get to see the show which sold out its initial 10-week run almost immediately. Now Frankenstein has been extended until early May, although tickets have not gone on sale yet.
The National Theatre started broadcasting theatre shows live in June 2009 when Helen Mirren starred as Phaedra. This is the 10th live transmission. Tomorrow, London’s Donmar Warehouse will broadcast Derek Jacobi as King Lear. As for Frankenstein, Boyle …
At the last Academy Awards, Barbra Streisand ripped open the envelope and revealed that Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman ever to win Best Director. No such groundbreaking moment is expected this year, but the category could offer up several surprises. With a wide open Oscar race, there’s probably a split in the offing between Picture and Director, two categories which traditionally pair up three-quarters of the time. But not always. Voters in the earliest Oscars didn’t believe strongly in a correlation between the Best Picture of the year and the person directing from behind the camera. Since then, there have been scattered years where that aberration occurred (such as for Hamlet, All the King’s Men, An American in Paris, and The Greatest Show on Earth). For Driving Miss Daisy, its director Bruce Beresford wasn’t even nominated. Going by recent history, the split has happened fairly frequently, culminating when Ang Lee took Best Director for Brokeback Mountain but Crash proved an upset Best Picture winner. Will another director be left at Oscar’s altar this year? Will The King’s Speech or The Fighter triumph, while David Fincher for The Social Network or Christopher Nolan for Inception wears the directing crown? An early signal will be the Directors Guild of America choice on January 29th. That group has a strong track record predicting the Director Oscar. Only six times since the DGA awards began in 1948 has the Guild and Academy not aligned. Here’s the alphabetical lineup of likely contenders and their chances this year:
BEN AFFLECK, The Town (Warner Bros.) – This Best Original Screenplay co-winner earned impressive notices for his first directing gig, Gone Baby Gone, and this year’s box office success, The Town, which he also co-wrote and stars in. He has won strong industry respect for his work behind the camera, but is a long shot to make the magic five. However, it looks like he’s becoming the new Clint, and that could eventually lead to his second Oscar — as a director.
DARREN ARONOFSKY, Black Swan (Fox Searchlight) – His intense indie films pull no punches. Now his dark and twisted Black Swan has dazzled the autumn fest circuit and became Fox Searchlight’s biggest box-office opener ever. Although its critical reception has been strong, it may be too much for more conservative Academy members. Nevertheless, Aronofsky’s eye-popping work here could impress enough of his peer group to land a spot in the top five.
DANNY BOYLE, 127 Hours (Fox Searchlight) – The well liked Boyle comes off his 2008 Oscar triumph, Slumdog Millionaire, with this unexpected follow-up. Using dazzling directorial tricks, styling with visual invention, and guiding star James Franco, Boyle pulls off this virtual one-man show. But some voters may be too squeamish to pop the DVD in their players after reports of faintings at early screenings. Plus, he just won, so it may be someone else’s turn.
LISA CHOLODENKO, The Kids Are All Right (Focus Features) – Previous films High Art and Laurel Canyon didn’t prepare the Industry for her confident work as director and co-writer of this warm and perceptive comedy. Showing she could assure superlative performances from major stars should further impress colleagues. But the notoriously male dominated directors’ club may not be ready to make it two in a row for her. An Original Screenplay nod is her best shot.
DEREK CIANFRANCE, Blue Valentine (The Weinstein Company) – This very personal study of the disintegration of a marriage was 12 years in the making for Cianfrance. His first feature, he elicited no-holds-barred acting from leads Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. Problem is, it may be too raw and intimate, which could overshadow the achievement. But here’s hoping it doesn’t take as long for this promising director’s second movie to reach the screen.
JOEL COEN & ETHAN COEN, True Grit (Paramount) – The Academy loves this prodigious writing/directing/producing team and have already honored them with four Oscars each, including one in this category. Can a remake of a John Wayne classic put them in contention again? The execution is flawless, and they have returned to Charles Portis’ original novel for inspiration while drawing first-rate performances. But Westerns don’t usually score for directors.
SOFIA COPPOLA, Somewhere (Focus Features) – Coppola lost Best Director for Lost In Translation in 2003 but won for her original screenplay. This latest film represents her second original screenplay and should be put in the writing category, but not necessarily in the directors’ circle again — although she did take the top prize at the Venice Film Festival (amid controversy because her pal Quentin Tarantino was head of the jury). No such problems now.
CLINT EASTWOOD, Hereafter (Warner Bros.) – A two time Best Director winner for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, Eastwood can never be counted out. He didn’t make the cut for his last two attempts, Gran Torino and Invictus. His latest, Hereafter, drew mixed reviews and disappointing box office, so he’s a Director’s category dark horse at best this year. Though, never underestimate the respect from his peers for this 80-year-old icon.
DAVID FINCHER, The Social Network (Sony Pictures) – The director behind such dark but acclaimed films like Seven, Fight Club, Panic Room, and Zodiac finally found an Oscar nod with the challenging crowd-pleaser The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and now this successful Facebook-founding flick. Critics’ plaudits are piling up, and he’s back in the heat of the race, this time going for the win from Sweden where he’s rebooting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
The director, whose 127 Hours is closing the festival, was presented with a BFI Fellowship at tonight’s awards ceremony by fellow director Stephen Daldry. Also on hand was Martin Scorsese, who paid tribute to the BFI National Archive. As for the winners, jury president Patricia Clarkson presented director Alexei Popogrebsky the Best Film award for the isolation-themed How I Ended This Summer. Andy Serkis presented the Best British Newcomer award to Clio Barnard, director of The Arbor, about playwright Andrea Dunbar. And Barnard also won this year’s Sutherland Award for most original and imaginative feature debut, presented by jurors Michael Winterbottom and Olivia Williams. Armadillo won Best Documentary. Other guests at the ceremony, held at LSO St. Luke’s, home of the London Symphony Orchestra, included ex-BBC Director General Greg Dyke and screenwriter Tony Grisoni.
Parties, private screenings, Q&As and the first movie awards show of the season all in the span of 24 hours. It all proves we’re in full swing with just four months to go before the Oscars. The 14th Annual Hollywood Awards Gala drew an impressive star turnout Monday evening at the Beverly Hilton, the same room where the Golden Globes get handed out in about 2 months. I’ve often said that if the Globes are a good place to try out your Oscar speech then The Hollywood Awards are a good place to try out your Globes speech. And a long list of honorees did just that, including Robert Duvall (Actor), Annette Bening (Actress), Helena Bonham Carter (Supporting Actress), Sam Rockwell (Supporting Actor), Danny Boyle and Christian Colson (Producers – 127 Hours), Tom Hooper (Director — The King’s Speech), Aaron Sorkin (Screenwriter – The Social Network), Lee Unkrich (Animated Feature – Toy Story 3), plus plenty of below the line crafts winners, acting breakthrough awards, a career achievement honor to Sly Stallone and a humanitarian award for Sean Penn. These trophies are all negotiated with distributors and publicists who promise to buy a table and a program ad and deliver their honoree in person in return for a lot of free red carpet exposure and a shot at giving an acceptance speech in front of a smattering of industry types and several Academy voters. The event isn’t televised, but there was certainly enough star power to support a broadcast. No one really takes it seriously except as an early opportunity to trot out your contenders in hopes of moving then up a peg in the marathon race to Oscar. This is the place awards watchers get to hear speeches for the first time. There’s even a live band on stage playing corny awards show music. First time attendee Aaron Eckhart, who presented to Bonham Carter, told me he thought it was a lot of fun. It’s a warm-up, the equivalent of spring training.
TELLURIDE: Danny Boyle says there are still a couple of things to “figure out” before a final print can be struck. But the Oscar-winning director returned today to the Galaxy Theatre at the Telluride Film Festival with the “unofficial” world premiere of 127 Hours – his first film since Slumdog Millionaire took home 8 Oscars just 1 1/2 years ago. It’s a good luck spot for Boyle as he had just finished Slumdog three days before its Telluride premiere, which became the launching pad for what would become an awards season blowout for the popular movie.
It was déjà vu this afternoon for me and others who were there that Saturday two Tellurides ago in the exact same venue. Today, the house was packed for both the 127 Hours screening and the Q&A that followed featuring Boyle, his producer Christian Colson, star James Franco, and the real life inspiration for the film, Aron Ralston, whose memoir Between A Rock And A Hard Place was the basis for Boyle’s and Simon Beaufoy’s adaptation. It’s about the harrowing true story of a young canyoneer who gets trapped in a deep narrow cave for 127 hours before extracting himself from a crushing boulder by cutting off his right arm with a small knife. And it has been expertly brought to the screen by the director who finds a way to put “urgency” in every frame despite the fact that the entire film is basically one man vs. the elements. It’s a tour-de-force for Franco, virtually never off screen in the same way Spencer Tracy triumphed in the similarly spare The Old Man And The Sea (1958). Franco’s performance could put him in contention for a best actor Oscar nod just as Tracy’s did over 50 years ago. It should be noted that Franco’s “farewell to arm” scene is graphic and not for the squeamish.
Using fast cutting, flashbacks and two cinematographers, Boyle makes this thing cook even though he ironically admitted afterwards that he’s really an “urban” filmmaker, hates the countryside, and thinks most “wilderness films are boring”. That initially made the outdoorsman Ralston wonder why Boyle wanted to film the story in the first place. Seeing it nearly finished for the first time today, Ralston says he was in tears through the second half, right from the moment the “sunlight” poked through.
For distributor Fox Searchlight, which plans a November release, 127 Hours is just one of three awards season players they have brought to Telluride. Friday night, Never Let Me Go stars Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield, director Mark Romanek, screenwriter Alex Garland and the novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, all turned up to introduce the first-ever public unveiling of this highly unusual sci-fi film dealing with themes of love and death. It’s distinguished by superb work from its promising young cast, led by Mulligan and Garfield, who all drew special praise from its very pleased author Ishiguro who described the film version of his best seller as a tremendous showcase for new British acting talent who are “inventing a style all their own”. Romanek (One Hour Photo) told the nearly sold-out crowd he had two dreams: to make this book into a film, and to come to Telluride. On Sunday, Searchlight’s Black Swan (December 1) and troupe blow into town direct from their Venice triumph for the unofficial North American premiere, billed here as a “sneak preview”.
Earlier Saturday, at the Chuck Jones theatre, a packed house caught the first screening here of The Weinstein Company’s Best Picture contender and Thanksgiving release, The King’s Speech. Afterwards the crowd greeted director Tom Hooper and stars Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush with a standing ovation. This stylishly entertaining, brilliantly acted period piece about the stuttering problems of England’s King George VI (father of the current Queen Elizabeth) and his relationship with a speech therapist is, to put it simply, catnip for Academy voters. No doubt Harvey’s already got one of the ten Best Picture slots locked up for this. Firth will be the recipient of a special tribute to his career Sunday night.
Fox Searchlight has posted a trailer for the Danny Boyle-directed 127 Hours, the harrowing survival tale of mountain climber Aron Ralston, who was forced to cut off his arm with a dull knife after it had become pinned under a boulder.
Danny Boyle’s film starring James Franco will close the 54th BFI London Film Festival on October 28th. The thriller depicts the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston’s attempt to save himself after a falling boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolated canyon in Utah. 127 HOURS is a Pathé, Fox Searchlight Pictures, and Film4 presentation in association with Warner Bros Pictures of a Cloud Eight/Decibel Films /Darlow Smithson production. Sandra Hebron, the Festival’s Artistic Director comments: “It is unprecedented for us to choose a Closing Night film from the same director only two years later. But 127 HOURS was the obvious choice for us – with filmmaking as bold and adventurous as its subject matter, it confirms Danny Boyle as one of the World’s finest and most visionary directors.” Danny Boyle comments, “LFF played a vital role in the journey of Slumdog Millionaire in 2008 and it’s great to be bringing new work here and renewing a happy partnership. I can’t wait to unveil the new film and I hope it provides a worthy climax to what will hopefully be two weeks of great movies for our city.” The Festival runs from October 13-28.