‘Tinker Tailor,’ ‘Drive’ Lead London Film Critics Nominations

The London Film Critics’ Circle announced its nominees Tuesday morning, with Cold War drama Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive coming out on top with six nods each. Asghar Farhadi’s Berlin winner A Separation and Lynne Ramsay’s Cannes competitor We Need To Talk About Kevin follow with five apiece, while awards darling The Artist and Steve McQueen’s Shame each have four mentions. StudioCanal, the UK arm of the French mini-major, had a strong showing with 20 nominations total. Winners will be announced January 19 in London. Here’s the full list of nominees, with local distributor in parentheses.

FILM OF THE YEAR
The Artist (Entertainment)
Drive (Icon)
A Separation (Artificial Eye)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (StudioCanal)
The Tree Of Life (Fox)

The Attenborough Award:
BRITISH FILM OF THE YEAR
The Guard (StudioCanal)
Kill List (StudioCanal)
Shame (Momentum)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (StudioCanal)
We Need To Talk About Kevin (Artificial Eye)

FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR
Mysteries Of Lisbon (New Wave)
Poetry (ICO/Arrow)
Le Quattro Volte (New Wave)
A Separation (Artificial Eye)
The Skin I Live In (Fox/Pathé)

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Lionsgate UK To Distribute Icon Titles, But No News On Library Deal

Lionsgate UK today confirmed its new distribution pact with Icon UK, saying it will handle the release of all of the latter’s titles moving forward. The deal is for rights to all films to come, but, for the moment at least, the Icon library is not included. Speculation has been that Lionsgate would take over the library, which includes PreciousMan On Wire, A Single Man, Paranormal Activity and others. Lionsgate UK already handles the home entertainment rights for the Miramax and Nu Image libraries and recently entered a multi-year licensing deal with Netflix ahead of the streaming service’s 2012 UK launch. Icon’s releases in 2011 have included Jodie Foster’s The Beaver and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. Lionsgate will now handle the release of Winding Refn’s next picture, Only God Forgives, along with Walter Salles’ On The Road, Adam Wingard’s You’re Next and the very English Postman Pat: The Movie. Read More »

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Funny Or Die: ‘Drive-Thru’

By | Monday November 21, 2011 @ 1:23pm PST

The tagline: “It’s like Drive … but more delicious.” This trailer parody is directed by Matthew Michaud who’s repped by Martin Spencer of CAA. It stars and was written by Alex Blagg, who runs the Internet content company Serious Business with former UTA agents Jason Nadler and Jon Zimelis.

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Are DVR Ad-Zappers Signaling Trouble For ‘Three Musketeers’?

TiVo’s been looking for patterns among DVR viewers who speed through certain ads — and Alex Petrilli Jr, Senior Manager of Audience Research, says that when it comes to box office sales, “the fast forward rate seems to tell … Read More »

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Post-Mortem: Why Young Guys Didn’t ‘Drive’

By | Sunday September 25, 2011 @ 7:30pm PDT

There are many box office deaths that are deserved. But few and far between are the box office deaths that get grieved. Welcome to the wake for Drive. This well-reviewed favorite at the Cannes and Toronto film festivals, with 92% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, was a cut above other movies so this is more of a post-mortem than an autopsy report. As FilmDistrict’s president of theatrical distribution Bob Berney emailed me the weekend of its opening, ”Don’t know if you’ve seen Drive or not. But it’s extreme in many ways: ultra-violent, very different pacing. As Albert Brooks (sleazy crime lord and ex-movie producer in the film) says about his character’s films, ’some critics call them European’. This film is not a typical formulaic wide release. Yes, the CinemaScore is ‘C-’ but I just think that their methodology is designed for the average, wide release film. They never anticipated asking people about a Nic Refn movie! I don’t buy it and hope they are very wrong.”

Though defined as an American genre movie, I felt the pre-release marketing with its superficial one-sheet and film trailer and TV ad failed by never distinguishing Drive as anything more special than just another Fast And Furious ripoff. Based on the book by James Sallis, with a screenplay by Hossein Amini, Drive was FilmDistrict’s widest release to date — 2,886 locations. It arrived by way of a pre-buy for U.S. from script stage. Ryan Gosling hand-picked Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson with Tom Hardy, The Pusher Trilogy). Refn, who went on to win Best Director at Cannes for Drive, has told the story of his “blind date” with Ryan when he first came to Los Angeles: Nic had the flu and was on some type of American medication and was completely out of it at the meeting. After awkwardly looking down and not saying anything, he finally asked Ryan to drive him home. (Nic doesn’t drive.) On the way, with REO Speedwagon playing, he began crying but was living the concept of the movie; a guy driving at night listening to pop music. Ryan said he was in. Through the process they became pals and planning more films together. (Then again actors respond to Refn. It’s rumored that, instead of “action”, he yells “Let’s fuck!” when starting a scene.) In Toronto, Nic, Ryan, Bryan Cranston, and scene-stealing Albert Brooks all wore dark suits and looked like they had just stepped off the set of Reservoir Dogs.

Despite all the Internet/fest hype, Drive‘s weekend box office was surprisingly low-key. FilmDistrict had projected Drive would open #2 with a $12M-$14M weekend. While many R-rated action and horror films normally drop on Saturday over the first weekend, it had a healthy 11% jump, signaling good word-of-mouth for Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, and Albert Brooks who could get supporting actor nominations for playing against type. But it eked out only an $11M weekend for #3. Younger males used to flock to such an original, violent, and stylized R-rated film that breaks a lot of rules. They didn’t. But now young guys who used to be Hollywood’s target audience are just not consistently (and indiscriminately) going to the movies anymore. The reason is either financial or too many other entertainment choices. That was the gist of internal conversations inside studios all summer when uncompelling fare like Conan The Barbarian, Fright NightCowboys & Aliens, and Green Lantern fell short with young guys. ”It didn’t dawn on us they weren’t coming to the malls,” one perplexed exec told me. “Instead, adults did.” Read More »

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FIRST BOX OFFICE: ‘Lion King 3D’ Roars #1

FRIDAY 3PM: Very early numbers show Disney’s Lion King 3D roaring back to #1 with $15M weekend in 2,330 theaters; Warner Bros’ holdover Contagion #2 with $12M in 3,222 theaters, FilmDistrict’s Drive #3 with $11M from 2,886 theaters, Sony/Screen Gem’s Straw Read More »

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Hot Red Band Trailer: ‘Drive’

Mike Fleming

Just in time for Comic-Con, FilmDistrict has unveiled a red band trailer for Drive, the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed drama that stars Ryan Gosling, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman and Carey Mulligan. Is it me, or does Gosling seem very much like Steve McQueen-esque in one of those 70s movies and Brooks … Read More »

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Big Drama At Closing Night Of L.A. Film Fest

Pete Hammond

2011 Los Angeles Film Festival Winners

The closing-night film of the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, was designed to scare the crap out of the audience. But who knew the real nightmares would come from the actual screening itself.

Just an hour into the world premiere of the movie Sunday night the Regal L.A. Live theater, the emergency warning system started flashing lights accompanied by a siren-like noise and an announcement that audience members should vacate the premises immediately due to an “emergency in the building.” Everyone got up and marched outside before the all-clear was quickly declared (a false alarm), the auditorium filled again and the film restarted at the crucial point it left off. And you wonder why producers get ulcers.

But THAT was nothing compared to the nightmare end of the movie that surrounded audience members from that screening (and the overflow house upstairs) who simultaneously had to retrieve their cellphones and BlackBerrys that had been seized for fear of piracy when they entered the theater. The crush as final credits rolled was mammoth as theater personnel slowly took claim tickets and acted like they were on a scavenger hunt. The guy searching for my phone finally came back and rather pathetically asked me, ‘Uh, what color is it?’ to which I replied ‘Black,’ like every single other friggin’ one there.

FilmDistrict (which is releasing the film Aug. 26) distribution honcho Bob Berney came over during the forced intermission of the showing to say that co-writer/producer Guillermo del Toro thought the unplanned interruption was the dirty work of Bob Weinstein or the MPAA (which gave his film an unwanted ‘R’ rating for “violence and terror,” particularly since it involved a minor, according to Berney). Read More »

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HAMMOND On L.A. Film Festival Opening: Can It Ever Challenge Toronto Or Telluride?

Pete Hammond

Although the Cannes Film Festival just ended three weeks ago, there’s always another film fest around the corner trying to steal its thunder and become part of the cinematic conversation. On Thursday night, the Los Angeles Film Festival, now in its 17th year, opened with the world premiere of the Richard Linklater (School of Rock, Dazed and Confused) comedy Bernie, with stars Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey joining its writer-director in introducing the film at downtown L.A.’s LA Live Regal Cinemas, where the fest moved last year. Not that it’s easy navigating the Los Angeles freeways at rush hour to get downtown, an off-the-beaten track place to premiere your movie, but the unapologetic black comedy and true-life tale of a small-town undertaker who caters to the much-hated Texas town’s matron until he reaches for a gun was worth the herculean effort navigating the annoying traffic jams and $25 parking fee (I didn’t read the signs carefully) just to see this splendid trio of actors deliver terrific performances backed by a great supporting group of locals who won big laughs throughout.

Bernie is an acquistion title and likely will be snapped up immediately by some enterprising distributor even though it’s not an obvious commercial hit. It is Black’s best work in some time. It could develop a following on the indie circuit though, and it certainly had the crowd (which included well-wishers like Linklater friend Steven Soderbergh and wife Jules Asner) buzzing at the crowded after-party on the L.A. Live parking garage rooftop.

Film Independent (which runs the fest as well as the Spirit Awards) board members I spoke to at the premiere are hopeful Bernie could become the fest’s first big breakout acquisition title, and reps from many indie distribs were in attendance. In fact, the fest delayed announcement of its opening film until after the Cannes festival was over because producers did not want to be inundated with calls about acquiring the film during that market and wanted to wait until it could premiere cold in L.A., a big tribute to the growing clout of LAFF. Read More »

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CANNES: 2011 Fest Ready For Its Closeup

Pete Hammond

Just as I hit the ground at the Nice airport today I ran smack into Jude Law, one of the main competition jury members of the 64th edition of the Cannes Film Festival (under President Robert De Niro), and he looked rarin’ to go as he arrived for all the hoopla and non-stop filmgoing over the next 11 days. We’ll see what he feels like after plowing through the 20 competition films as well as those out of competition such as Wednesday night’s opener, Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris, and the closer, on May 22, Christophe Honore’s 2-hour and 25-minute Les Bien-Aimes (Beloved), the longest of any film in the official competition — competing or not.

Workers were busily attaching huge billboards up on the big Croisette hotels when I cruised the tony neighborhood earlier today, but the world’s second-most-famous red carpet won’t be laid out until midday tomorrow just before Woody, Marion Cotillard, Owen Wilson and the cast of the director’s first French-set film make their way up those famous Palais steps for his love letter to Paree. It was hoped that co-star Carla Bruni, aka Mrs. Nicolas Sarkozy, First Lady of France, would be coming too, but I heard she’s not making the trip after all and neither is her husband. C’est La Vie.

Up and down the Croisette you are bombarded as usual by Hollywood product being hyped on any available space. The new Transformers film from that auteur (NOT) Michael Bay got the hot spot at the Carlton entrance right next to a display for Disney/Pixar’s  Cars 2 on one side and Cowboys and Aliens on the other. Lording over them, though, are The Smurfs and all of those Pirates of the Caribbean, which plans to make a huge splash here Saturday as the prime-time film on one of the key nights of the fest. Star power will be in force, of course, with Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz driving the paparazzi wild, which is just what Disney wants for its global launch of the film that premiered last week at Disneyland and makes another stop in Moscow before hitting the Cote d’Azur. Cannes, though a serious-minded haven for cineastes, doesn’t mind the attention either. Read More »

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Robert Rodriguez Launches Quick Draw

The company is a partnership between Rodriguez, OddLot Entertainment and Bold Films and will produce and finance action-oriented projects. The partnership is for multiple titles and all films will either be directed … Read More »

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Albert Brooks Plays Badass Role In ‘Drive’

By | Thursday August 26, 2010 @ 4:34pm PDT
Mike Fleming

This is a seminal year for Albert Brooks. After completing an ambitious science fiction novel 2030: The Real Story of What Happens To America and setting it to be published next May by St. Martin’s Press, Brooks has signed … Read More »

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