Previews begin October 2, 2014, at the American Airlines Theatre for The Real Thing, the Tom Stoppard play that originally premiered in 1982 in London. It won the 1984 Tony Award for Best Play and most recently was produced on Broadway 14 years ago. Sam Gold is directing the latest incarnation, which will open October 30, 2014, and run through January 4, 2015, and is from the Roundabout Theatre Company. Ewan McGregor will play Henry, a playwright not so happily married to Charlotte, the lead actress in his play about a marriage on the verge of collapse. When Henry’s affair with their friend Annie threatens to destroy his own marriage, he discovers that life has started imitating art. After Annie leaves her husband so she and Henry can begin a new life together, he can’t help but wonder whether their love is fiction or the real thing. The rest of the cast has not been announced. McGregor recently wrapped production on Jane’s Got A Gun and is now filming Mortdecai opposite Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow. He’s also in the ensemble cast of another Tony winner — the adaptation Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer-winning August: Osage County which hits theaters on December 25. He is repped by UTA and United Agents in the UK.
Cannes Briefs: Epic’s ‘Thale’ Sequel; Osiris’ ‘The Kill Hole’; Darclight’s ‘Contracted’; Simon Cowell’s ‘Pudsey’; Ridley Scott’s ‘Get Santa’; More
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Epic Sets English-Language ‘Thale’ Sequel
Epic Pictures is partnering with Norway’s Yesbox Productions to finance and produce an English-language sequel to Norwegian thriller Thale. The sequel will be written and directed by Thale‘s Aleksander Nordaas. Patrick Ewald and Shaked Berenson are producing alongside Bendik Heggen Strønstad of Yesbox. Thale appeared in Toronto and SXSW last year and told the story of two crime-scene cleaners who discover a tailed female creature in a concealed cellar who has been held captive for decades. Thale was based on a mythical character in Nordic folklore called the “huldra,” a beautiful creature with female attributes that is said to seduce men by humming a beautiful song, but the men never return to their villages. Epic’s Patrick Ewald says the budget will be upped for the sequel “so that Aleksander and Bendik’s vision can be accomplished on a grand scale.”
EXCLUSIVE: The resilient indie Western Jane Got A Gun finally has its bad guy. Ewan McGregor is negotiating to play the pivotal role of the leader of an outlaw gang in the film that Gavin O’Connor is now directing. Natalie Portman plays the wife of an outlaw (Noah Emmerich) who leaves that gang after he gets shot up, and returns home. Knowing his former outlaw mates will come to finish him off and destroy her farm, Jane is forced to rekindle a relationship with a past love (Joel Edgerton), a capable gunman who can help her. This is the role that Jude Law originally was going to play, but he exited when original director Lynne Ramsay abruptly left the night before production began. After O’Connor came on to replace Ramsay behind the camera, they got Bradley Cooper to play the part, but his schedule is so impossibly busy — particularly after shooting got postponed on the David O Russell-directed American Hustle because of the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent city lockdown — that Cooper had to drop out. This was OK because the villain wasn’t scheduled to shoot until later into the production.
Busy up-and-comer Alicia Vikander is becoming quite the globetrotter. The Swedish actress who rose to prominence with the Oscar-nominated Danish film A Royal Affair, then shot Anna Karenina in England, The Seventh Son in the U.S. and has a role in The Fifth Estate which just kicked off in Germany, will head to Oz to star with Ewan McGregor in crime thriller Son Of A Gun later this month. Also boarding the Australian production are Brenton Thwaites (Maleficent) and Jacek Koman (The Great Gatsby, Top Of The Lake). Julius Avery, an award-winner for his short Jerrycan, is directing the story of the complex relationship between McGregor’s public enemy number one character and his young protégé, played by Thwaites. Altitude Film Sales is handling international rights and UTA Independent Film Group represents the producers for North American rights.
Christy Grosz is Editor of AwardsLine.
Ewan McGregor has played a lot of different kinds of roles since he first rose to prominence in 1996’s Trainspotting, but there’s one that has eluded his grasp: parenthood. In the December release The Impossible, the real-life father of four plays a man whose family is torn apart by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. He struggles to keep his two young sons safe amidst the chaos while searching feverishly for his wife, played by Naomi Watts, and eldest son, played by Tom Holland. Though it’s the third film he’s appeared in this year after Haywire and Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, McGregor doesn’t take much time off. He recently spoke with AwardsLine from the set of August: Osage County, which is currently shooting in Bartlesville, OK.
AwardsLine: How did you first hear about The Impossible?
Ewan McGregor: I heard about it through my agent, and I knew about J.A. Bayona and his film The Orphanage, although I don’t think I’d seen it until I’d read the script for The Impossible. I knew Naomi was attached—I’ve worked with Naomi before—and, yes, after reading the script I was left with no doubt. I didn’t know at the time that it was a true story, but there was something very honest and true about the writing. Another one of the main draws for me was that it was the first time in my career that I explored parenthood, although I’ve been a dad for a long time. I must’ve had some kids in films before, but not many, and I’ve never made a film that’s really about that relationship between you and your kids.
Related: OSCARS Q&A: Naomi Watts
EXCLUSIVE: One of the sleeper entries in this year’s Oscar race is the emotionally wrenching true story, The Impossible which chronicles a family split apart in the terrifying Tsunami in Thailand in 2004 and their efforts to survive and find each other, despite horrific injury and unspeakable devastation at the …
Ewan McGregor, currently working with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts in August: Osage County, will shoot heist pic Son Of A Gun in Australia early next year. The film centers …
The Impossible tells the story of a family’s experience in the devastating 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami and the chaos that followed. The film, directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. Its North American premiere is set for September at the Toronto Film Festival. Here’s the …
The Cannes Film Festival has unveiled the jury for the main competition. Deliberating with jury president Nanni Moretti will be Palestinian actress and director Hiam Abbass, British director and writer Andrea Arnold, French actress Emmanuelle Devos, German actress Diane Kruger, Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, Haitian director, writer and producer Raoul Peck and US director, writer and producer Alexander Payne. In a first, there will also be a designer on the panel: French couturier Jean Paul Gaultier.
CBS Films picked up Salmon Fishing In The Yemen as a possible awards contender after it premiered at Toronto in the fall, but the distributor decided it was too late for the tale of Middle East politics and fly-fishing to enter this year’s Oscar race. It instead has set it …
Harvey Weinstein just set a new air, land and sea world record for attending movie premieres. The Weinstein Company mogul managed to show up at three, count ‘em, three different premiere events in two different countries all on Monday night. “Yeah, this was some fun wasn’t it?” he deadpanned when I asked him about his landmark photo-op achievement.
Although he has been in Toronto this week, Weinstein had to go back to New York City on Monday night to attend the premiere of his company’s romantic comedy I Don’t Know How She Does It, which stars Sarah Jessica Parker and opens nationwide Friday. Then it was right back to Canada and two more North American premieres: Madonna’s directorial outing W.E. and the Ralph Fiennes-directed Coriolanus – and he made ito to both post-parties at Soho House. On one floor he was dining with Madonna and her exclusive guest list, then he did a walk-through one floor down at the Coriolanus preem. Then it was back up to the third floor, where he huddled with Jennifer Garner and Olivia Wilde, the stars of yet another Weinstein Company movie, Butter, which premieres here on Tuesday (I saw it in Telluride). I am told they will open the film for a one-week Oscar-qualifying run October 28 and reopen it sometime in early 2012.
As for the Madonna film, which was critically lambasted in Venice, the spin I got from one of its international reps was that it’s really not all that bad. It’s just that it’s not all that good either. There are some nice visual touches, but the material about the romance between King Edward and Wallis Simpson (written by the Material Girl herself) just isn’t all that compelling. My overall impression is that she is to be commended for trying something different with this British period piece, but for someone normally so edgy, this film very much lacks edge. It is undoubtedly an older person’s movie and facing a daunting commercial climb.
Before the film started (a half hour late), Madonna told the hometown crowd, “As you know I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, so I almost feel Canadian. Even when I have been arrested here I had a heck of a time,” she said. At the earlier Monday morning press screening, a paltry crowd of less than 100 reportedly showed up for their first opportunity to see her directing and writing effort. By the time it was finished, less than half remained in the massive 555-seat Scotiabank Theatre. But following the evening screening at the Roy Thomson Hall, the crowd gave Madonna a brief standing ovation before heading for the exits. But it wasn’t the kind of enthusiastic standing applause heard at the Machine Gun Preacher screening just one night earlier.
UPDATE 2, 7:03PM: CBS Films has just issued a press release confirming the acquisition:
TORONTO (September 12) – CBS Films announced today that they have acquired the U.S.distribution rights to SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN which made its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival this week. The announcement was made jointly today by CBS Films’ COO Wolfgang Hammer and EV Pof Acquisitions Scott Shooman.
Directed by Oscar©-nominee Lasse Hallström (Chocolat), SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is an extraordinary, beguiling tale of fly-fishing and politicalspinning, of unexpected heroism and late-blooming love and of an attempt toprove the impossible, possible. Ewan McGregor (Beginners) and Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau) star in the feature film alongside Oscar©-nominee Kristen ScottThomas (I’ve Loved You So Long).
Based on Paul Torday’s acclaimed novel, SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is written by Oscar©-winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and produced by Paul Webster (The Motorcycle Diaries) and executive produced by Jamie Laurenson, Stephen Garrett, Paula Jalfon, Zygi Kamasa and Guy Avshalom.
“I am so happy to have the support of the team at CBS Films for the distribution of our labor of love, ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. ’I had the best of times working on it with producer Paul Webster, writer Simon Beaufoy and the cast, Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, Amr Waked and Kristin Scott Thomas,” said Hallström.
“Lasse Hallström has done it again with this beautiful, heartwarming, and elegant picture. The performances are amazing from top to bottom,” commented Shooman who continued, “We are honored to have the opportunity to bring this extraordinary film to American audiences.”
UTA Independent Film Group set up the film’s financing and brokered the dealwith CBS Films.
UPDATE, 6:11PM: The deal has closed, and CBS Films has acquired U.S. rights to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Sources close to the buyer say it’s the $4 million that the sellers asked for, while sources close to the seller say it’s $5 million. Summit got the deal to that level. What’s clear is this is a healthy deal.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 12:26 PM: CBS Films is in advanced negotiations to reel in U.S. distribution rights to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, the Lasse Hallstrom-directed film that premiered last night at the Princess of Wales Theater. Fox Searchlight, Summit, Focus and Miramax have been circling, but CBS appears to be tying down the property for a low-seven-figure deal. Adapted by Simon Beaufoy from the Paul Torday novel, the film stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked, the latter playing a wealthy sheik who pays a fisheries scientist to stock a stream with trout. The sheik believes that fishing brings him closer to God, an experience he wants to share with his countrymen, despite the dangerous fact that some local leaders oppose it; there is a burgeoning love story between his British legal rep (Blunt) and the stuffy fisheries scientist (McGregor) who is locked in a dull marriage.
Just as it did last year, the 2011 Toronto Film Festival has gotten off to a slow start on the acquisitions front. I spoke with many buyers after last night’s onslaught of acquisition title premieres, and the common feeling was these distributors need to fill slots in their schedules and they want to fall in love, but haven’t quite gotten there yet with most of these films. They had some reservations on just about all of the films they saw. These films will clearly find distribution homes, but the reaction means that deals will drag out because those distributors aren’t going to be posting large minimum guarantees, the way they did in Cannes.
Even the big sale of the festival so far, the Steve McQueen-directed NC-17 sex drama Shame, wasn’t a huge commitment for all the press hoopla that followed Deadline’s reveal that the film had sold to Fox Searchlight. I am hearing the deal was a mid-six figure minimum guarantee around $400,000, and a P&A commitment around $1.5 million. That sounds about right, because the filmmakers were most concerned with entering this year’s Oscar race to capitalize on the performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, and ensuring that not a frame of the picture was changed. But it doesn’t sound like a wide release picture.
As for the wide release titles, they are going to sell, but it will be a struggle for sellers to get the dollars they want. I saw one of those titles that sit atop buyer lists last night. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was scripted by Simon Beaufoy, directed by Lasse Hallstrom and stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked, the latter playing a wealthy sheik who pays a fisheries scientist to stock a stream with trout. The film is sophisticated, funny, timely and utterly charming, and I would be surprised if it isn’t snapped up by Monday or sooner. That film got the best reaction from the buyers I spoke with. The pace of auctioning has been complicated by the volume of premieres last night, including Rampart, Take This Waltz, The Oranges, the hockey comedy Goon and the Morgan Spurlock-directed documentary Comic-Con: A Fan’s Hope. Buyers had to make choices, and some were seeing films like Salmon this morning. I expect a flurry of deals toward the end of the festival, which is how it played out last year.
Since there’s little going on so far, you have time to notice things. Here are a few things I’ve noticed: