WikiLeaks and its embattled founder Julian Assange keep trying to make it crystal clear they don’t support DreamWorks‘ upcoming The Fifth Estate. Today WikiLeaks published the first of Assange’s letters to Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays him in the October 18 release, denying the actor’s request to meet prior to production. The pic directed by Bill Condon is based on Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange and the World’s Most Dangerous Website by Daniel Domscheit-Berg and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy by David Leigh and Luke Harding, which Assange calls “toxic” and “the two most discredited books on the market”. WikiLeaks previously posted a version of the Fifth Estate script online along with a rather exhaustive memo detailing everything the film gets wrong. Here’s the Assange letter:
Related: Julian Assange Calls ‘Fifth Estate’ A “Massive Propaganda Attack”
Thank you for trying to contact me. It is the first approach by anyone from the Dreamworks production to me or WikiLeaks.
My assistants communicated your request to me, and I have given it a lot of thought and examined your previous work, which I am fond of.
I think I would enjoy meeting you.
The bond that develops between an actor and a living subject is significant.
If the film reaches distribution we will forever be correlated in the public imagination. Our paths will be forever entwined. Each of us will be granted standing to comment on the other for many years to come and others will compare our characters and trajectories.
But I must speak directly.
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Deadline revealed exclusively in August that DreamWorks will remake the Japanese film Japanese film Like Father, Like Son (Soshite Chichi Ni Naru), and for some reason the trades are trumpeting it as a story a month later after the deal closed between the studio and Fuji TV. This is the film that got on the studio’s radar after DreamWorks principal Steven Spielberg saw the Hirozaku Kore-Eda-directed drama when it screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May while he headed the jury. The pic received the Prix du Jury prize there. I had heard originally that Spielberg wanted to direct, but studio insiders denied that last month. In the film, an upper middle class career-oriented couple push their 6-year-old son to succeed in school as hard as they push themselves. They are shocked to discover from the hospital where the baby was born that a mistake was made, and that their biological son is being raised by another family. When the overachievers find that the other family is of modest means and not as ambitious as they are, the wealthy couple tries to wrest their actual son away.
Related: Spielberg’s Cannes Jury Duty Leads DreamWorks To Remake Deal On ‘Like Father, Like Son’
Nice timing, Disney and DreamWorks. Aaron Paul is pistol-hot as we count the days before the Breaking Bad finale, and now comes the first Need For Speed trailer. Paul plays a mechanic who races muscle cars on an unsanctioned circuit. After doing time for a crime he didn’t commit, he’s bent on revenge on the guy who whacked his best friend. Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Michael Keaton and Dakota Johnson also star in Scott Waugh’s actioner, which is based on the EA video game franchise. It’s in theaters March 14:
EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation, DreamWorks has acquired an untitled pitch to be written by Matt Charman that tells the true story of James Donovan. Donovan was a prominent American attorney who was unexpectedly thrust into the center of the Cold War after being tasked by the CIA to slip past the Berlin Wall on his own and negotiate the release of the downed U-2 spy plane pilot Gary Powers. Charman’s repped by CAA and Fourth Floor Productions.
When it comes to this year’s Foreign Language Film Oscar race, it seems Sundance Selects just can’t catch a break. Coming out of Cannes, the company headed by Jonathan Sehring — who also runs IFC — looked like it easily could have two of the five nominees in the category, especially after its acquisitions took two of the top three prizes at Cannes. The French sensation Blue Is The Warmest Color won the coveted Palme d’Or (usually a key factor in considering a film for Oscar submission), while the Jury Prize (essentially third place) went to Japan’s moving and extremely well-received Like Father, Like Son, which so infatuated Cannes Jury President Steven Spielberg that his DreamWorks is negotiating for an English-language remake.
Related: Hammond On Cannes: ‘Blue Is The Warmest Color’
It seemed at the time that both would be a cinch as their respective countries’ entry in the race, and Sundance Selects was riding high. But as Deadline reported in July, a quirky Academy rule that requires a foreign entry to have opened by September 30 in its country of origin KO’d Warmest Color’s chances, despite Sehring’s best efforts to turn it around. Unfortunately Wild Bunch, the film’s French distributor, was dead set on releasing it October 9, and a qualifying run was ruled out. Now, in what for me is an even more stunning setback, the seven-member Japan Movie Producers Association ignored its country’s high-profile Cannes winner and instead chose a more obscure film, The Great Passage (Fune O Amu) from 30-year-old director Yuya Ishii, the youngest ever to represent Japan in the Oscar contest. That film was released in April — doing nice, if unremarkable, business at the box office. Like Father, Like Son is scheduled for a September 28 release in Japan, a date presumably chosen to make it eligible for the Oscar race. But it’s not to be. Read More »
The Toronto Film Festival got off to a strong start with Bill Condon‘s penetrating and thought-provoking The Fifth Estate, the story of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. But it’s not a dry procedural or recital of recent headlines. This riveting drama is a character study of a narcissistic personality out of control, a man not afraid to leak everyone else’s secrets but his own. Benedict Cumberbatch, who can do no wrong lately, is brilliant as Assange. And Daniel Bruhl, who plays his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg, clearly is going to have a problem this awards season: He’s not only absolutely terrific in this role, he’s equally great in Ron Howard’s Rush which premieres here Sunday. When I told him right after the film he was going to be the breakout star of this festival, he just laughed. But take my word, this guy is the real deal and this is his year — if these two stirring supporting turns don’t cannibalize each other. As the film credits finished, Bruhl came up and hugged Condon, throwing superlatives his way. Bruhl had only previously seen a very rough cut of the film and was blown away by the final results.
Related: Toronto 2013: Will Deals Take Back Seat As Buyers Focus On Fest Oscar Hopefuls?
He should be. This film is reminiscent of the great political thrillers of the 1970s. Most will probably compare it to the recent The Social Network, since it deals with the Internet and all its possibilities, but it is far more akin to the social dramas that defined ’70s Hollywood filmmaking. In fact, let me go out on a limb: This is the best film of its kind to hit the screen since All The President’s Men in 1976. Condon’s direction is reminiscent of the style employed by Alan Pakula in that film and others from the era like The Parallax View and Klute. And it moves like a freight train. Naysayers may quibble with the dense storyline but the acting is uniformly excellent (David Thewlis, Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney are other standouts). Where The Fifth Estate succeeds so strongly is in taking a fluid ripped-from-the-headlines story and making it timeless. Unlike last year’s Zero Dark Thirty, which had to completely rework its story when Osama bin Laden was suddenly captured and killed, this film is a complete character study and won’t be judged by ever-changing events. Some people may not care and that’s their problem but hopefully there’s an audience out there for a smart adult drama like this, but what you take away from it could depend what, from your own experience, you bring to it. I know this much: As a study of a person whose whole world view revolves only around themselves, this is as good as it gets. Assange has, sight unseen, already dismissed the film, but in a clever coda the movie even addresses that criticism. That’s how smart this thing is. Read More »
DreamWorks Studios has tapped Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines) to helm its post-WWI set lit adaptation The Light Between Oceans. Author M.L. Stedman’s debut novel and international bestseller is about a lighthouse keeper and his wife who find a boat washed ashore on their remote Australian island with a dead man and a baby girl inside. They choose to bury the body and raise the child as their own, with devastating consequences. Harry Potter vet David Heyman will produce for Heyday Films with Jeffrey Clifford. Rosie Allen shepherded the project to Heyday and will exec produce. Said DreamWorks head Stacey Snider: “We certainly believe [Cianfrance] can make a modern epic from M.L.’s poignant novel and will be able to capture the great epic sweep and emotional honestly of this story.” Cianfrance is repped by CAA and Electric City Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: Who says jury duty is a waste of time? DreamWorks is negotiating right now with Fuji TV for remake rights to the Japanese film Like Father, Like Son (Soshite Chichi Ni Naru). The catalyst for the deal: DreamWorks principal Steven Spielberg seeing the Hirozaku Kore-Eda-directed drama when it screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May while he headed the jury. The film received the Prix du Jury prize there.
DreamWorks insiders confirm a deal is in the process of being made, but they deny that Spielberg is eyeing the film as something to possibly direct when the remake is developed. In the film, an upper middle class career-oriented couple push their 6-year-old son to succeed in school as hard as they push themselves. They are shocked to discover from the hospital where the baby was born that a mistake was made, and that their biological son is being raised by another family. When the overachievers find that the other family is of modest means and not as ambitious as they are, the wealthy couple tries to wrest their actual son away.
EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks has just acquired Noble Assassin, based on a book proposal by Paul Kix. They’ve also attached Jane Eyre helmer Cary Fukunaga to direct. It’s the war-time story of French aristocrat-turned-anti-Nazi-Saboteur Robert de la Rochefoucauld, who joined the British Special Operations Executive and was trained in every manner of dark arts before being sent back to France to help organize the resistance, blowing up train stations and munitions factories, enduring months of torture and escaping his own execution.
The book has been set for U.S. publication by Harper Collins and foreign rights will be sold at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar is producing with Fukunaga. ICM Partners brokered the deal.
The Indian actor has been cast in DreamWorks‘ adaptation of Richard C. Morais’ best-seller. Om Puri has starred in dozens of films during his four-decade career but probably is best known stateside for East Is East (1999). The Hundred-Foot Journey follows an Indian family that moves to France and opens an Indian restaurant a hundred feet across the street from a Michelin-starred French restaurant. The ensuing battle between the eateries tests the power of family, loyalty and love. Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon also star in director Lasse Hallstrom’s film, which is produced by Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake. Steve Knight wrote the script. Disney will release the pic in the US on August 8, 2014.
EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks is in talks with the estate of author John Steinbeck to make a new version of The Grapes Of Wrath. The novel was turned into a classic 1940 film by John Ford, the director who won one of two Oscars out of the seven nominations the picture received. I’d heard this suddenly became a hot movie property, and that Steven Spielberg swooped in to take it off the table over other bidders. I’d also heard that Spielberg was eyeing it to direct, but DreamWorks said definitively that he is only interested in producing the picture, and will absolutely not direct it. It might be awkward turf since director Ford was one of Spielberg’s formative influences. There is some rationale to this, if DreamWorks was looking to capitalize on the 75th anniversary of Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. That anniversary happens next year, and Spielberg is next committed to directing Jason Hall’s adaptation of American Sniper with Bradley Cooper starring.
For those who didn’t read it in high school, The Grapes Of Wrath is about a poor family of tenant farmers forced to move off its land in Oklahoma because of drought and hopeless economic conditions. Spurred by the promise of high wages for farm workers, the Joads head to California, but are beaten down by poverty and hunger in the Great Depression. The film introduced … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In a pre-holiday week Friday night deal, DreamWorks is pre-emptively acquiring The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig, a poet and short story writer. It is the first of a trilogy, and Carla Hacken is attached to be producer, one of the first deals for the former exec who signed a producing deal with the studio. The book circulated in manuscript form. The plot: 400 years after a nuclear apocalypse, society is left without technology and all humans are twins. One of each pair is physically perfect, and they are called Alphas, while the other, the Omega, bears some mutation. The apartheid society forces the mutated twins to settlements, even though when one twin dies, so does the other. This is the relationship between a brother and sister twin, and what happens when he becomes a leader in the repressed society. I’m told the author has sketched out the other two books for buyers, and they are confident there is a solid trilogy here. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Jason Hall was marked an A-list screenwriter the moment DreamWorks and Warner Bros joined forces after Steven Spielberg agreed to direct Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, based on the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Not surprisingly, both studios want more from Hall. Warner Bros has just closed a blind script deal with him, and I’ve learned that DreamWorks is in early talks to have Hall adapt the upcoming David Finkel book Thank You For Your Service, about the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder syndrome that is becoming a major issue for vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s something Spielberg likes as a potential project down the line, though that is all early days.
I sought out Hall because I find it instructive to see how a guy with one screen credit (2009′s Spread) and another coming (an adaption of the Joseph Finder novel Paranoia) gets white-hot so quickly. Every writer’s trajectory is different, but there’s a common thread: there is no such thing as an overnight success screenwriter. It’s years of struggle to find a voice, and then maybe a lucky break. Hall came to Hollywood to be an actor, and only found his way to screenwriting because things were going so badly. “I did TV parts in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and other shows, playing the bad guy or the MacGuffin bad guy, with the half-baked mustache,” Hall told me. “I would read these terrible movie scripts, and I couldn’t get auditions. I thought, maybe I could write a terrible script for myself, but they wouldn’t even let me audition when I did that. My first script, I remember this funny lawyer telling me I was getting more than Ben and Matt did at the beginning. This producer says, I know you want to act in this, but what if I told you Milos Forman wanted to direct this, with someone else?” Still in full actor mode, Hall was direct: “I remember being in the lobby of The Four Seasons, and saying a little too loud, ‘Milos Forman can go fuck himself!’ So that went away, and then I wrote another script about a blind wrestler. I wrestled since I was a kid, and there are these great blind wrestlers who compete up to nationals. I’ve wrestled them, and you have to keep your hands on them at all times, and if you separate the ref blows the whistle and connects you again. Some of these guys are really good. So I’m ready to play this blind wrestler, and John Dahl is interested and says to me, this is perfect for Matt Damon. And I said, ‘Matt Damon can go fuck himself!’ And that went away.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks is setting Lasse Hallstrom to direct The Hundred-Foot Journey, an adaptation of the Richard C. Morais novel about the rivalry between an Indian restaurant that is 100 feet away from a three-Michelin-star restaurant in France. The French restaurant is run by the famous eccentric chef Madame Mallory, who reluctantly forms a mentoring bond with a young Indian boy whose family owns the rival eatery. Their bond, and his culinary awakening, is a core of the story. I’m hearing that Helen Mirren will play Madame Mallory, but DreamWorks said no casting has been set. Shooting will begin in the fall.
This amounts to a bit of home cooking for DreamWorks and its financing partner, India-based Reliance, and it satisfies an ambition to find a film with relevance to the Indian market. Besides a well-reviewed novel, the project has pedigree: It was adapted by Eastern Promises scribe Steven Knight, and the producers are Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake.
It seems a role that is a strong fit for Mirren, whose other culinary-themed film, the Peter Greenaway-directed The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, was a bit strong for my palate. This is also the kind of movie that Hallstrom does well, as he has proved on films from Chocolat to What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, … Read More »
Disney announced today that the release date for DreamWorks’ Wikileaks movie The Fifth Estate has moved to October 11, more than a month earlier than its initial November 15 date. And Delivery Man has moved to November 22 from its initial date of October 4. With the shift, Fifth Estate avoids Paramount’s The Wolf Of Wall Street, Fox’s thriller The Counselor and Universal’s comedy/drama The Best Man Holiday and faces Sony/Columbia’s drama Captain Phillips, Fox’s horror pic Haunts and Film District’s thriller Old Boy. Delivery Man now goes up against Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Paramount’s Nebraska.
EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks is firming up a January production start for Glimmer, and a big reason for that is so that it will allow some scheduling room for Dylan O’Brien to play the lead. Jeremy Allen White also stars. O’Brien is busy starring in Maze Runner for Fox, but he’s in talks for the lead, I hear. He’s repped by WME. He’s also in the TV series Teen Wolf, and the schedule was moved so he could complete the season of that show before going off to do feature work. Ringan Ledwidge directs the sci-fi thriller about a group of teenagers who discover a portal to the past. When one of them changes history, the effects start to snowball with tragic consequences. Josh Schwartz and Carter Blanchard wrote the script. Madhouse’s Adam Kolbrenner and Ryan Cunningham produce with Mark Sourian.
Via its arrangement with David Garrett’s Mister Smith Entertainment, DreamWorks has steadily been adding to its portfolio of offshore partners. Today’s news is that it’s pacted with the Hadida brothers’ indie powerhouse Metropolitan Filmexport in France. It’s also entered a deal with Inter-Film for Ukraine and a multi-picture agreement with MediaPro for Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. Here’s the release: Read More »
BREAKING: DreamWorks and Warner Bros will team on Steven Spielberg‘s next film American Sniper, with Bradley Cooper aboard to star in the autobiography of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Cooper optioned the book himself, along with Andrew Lazar’s Mad Chance, and it has turned out to be quite a coup for the actor. Jason Hall (Paranoia) wrote the script and will executive produce, with Spielberg, Cooper, Lazar, and Peter Morgan producing. Kyle, an expert marksman who spread his love for weapons by teaching others how to shoot, was recently and tragically gunned down along with a pal by a fellow discharged vet they had taken to a Texas shooting range to deal with his post-traumatic stress disorder.
The film is based on the book American Sniper: The Autobiography Of The Most Lethal Sniper In U.S. Military History by Kyle, Scott McEwan and Jim DeFelice. The film chronicles Texas native Kyle’s journey from rodeo cowboy to SEAL Chief with the highest number of sniper kills in U.S. military history. The book spent 18 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list and 13 weeks at No. 1. Cooper’s production company, 22nd & Indiana Pictures, optioned rights to the book a year ago with Lazar’s Mad Chance. Sheroum Kim overseeing for 22nd & Indiana and Jon Berg is overseeing for Warner Bros. DreamWorks’ Kristie Macosko Krieger and Adam Somner … Read More »