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 …
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.
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 …
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.
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 …