There’s a new finish line on the Western’s long and dusty road to the big screen. Relativity today set a February 20 release date for Jane Got a Gun, which had been set for this summer and has been through three bad guys, two directors and one lawsuit. Natalie Portman stars as Jane, who rebuilds her life with new husband Bill (Noah Emmerich) after being tormented by an outlaw gang led by Collin (Ewan McGregor, who replaced Bradley Cooper, who had replaced Jude Law). But things get ugly again when the husband has a fresh run-in with the gang, leaving Jane little choice but to ask her ex-fiance (Joel Edgerton) for help. Gavin O’Connor directs the film, having taken over the chair after Lynne Ramsay exited the project on the first day of production.
Albert Nobbs helmer Rodrigo Garcia is set to direct Last Days In The Desert, a co-production from Mockingbird Pictures and Division Films. Ewan McGregor has boarded to play the dual roles of a holy man and a demon who must confront his own fate after an encounter with a family struggling to survive in the harsh desert environment. Tye Sheridan, who picked up the newcomer prize in Venice for his turn in David Gordon Green’s Joe, also stars as do Ciarán Hinds and Ayelet Zurer. Garcia wrote the script and will start principal photography this month in Southern California. Emmanuel Lubezki is lensing the picture in a reteam with Garcia after their 2000 collaboration Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her. Just last weekend, the Gravity cinematographer told Deadline of the project, “It’s a tiny little beautiful, extraordinary script that Rodrigo wrote that we’re going to shoot for five weeks.” Mockingbird’s Julie Lynn and Bonnie Curtis are producing with Wicks Walker. Walker and Nicolas Gonda are financing via Walker’s Division Films and Gonda’s Ironwood Films, in association with Aspiration Media and New Balloon. WME has domestic rights, with Hanway Films representing international here in Berlin. McGregor most recently wrapped production on Mortdecai opposite Johnny Depp. He’s next up in Gavin O’Connor’s Jane Got A Gun and makes his Broadway debut …
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.
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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.
Warner Bros has released the latest trailer for Jack The Giant Slayer. The Bryan Singer-directed pic is based on the Jack and the Beanstalk tale and stars Nicholas Hoult as Jack. The newest trailer focuses a bit less on the comedic elements and more on the action sequences. Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Warwick Davis, Bill Nighy, Ian McShane, Eleanor Tomlinson and Eddie Marsan also star. Writers are Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie and Dan Studney. Jack The Giant Slayer opens March 1st:
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
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage
Angelina Jolie stepped out in London on Sunday night to mark an endorsement for her friend Ewan McGregor and his turn in Juan Antonio Bayona’s tsunami story The Impossible. She laid on drinks at the Soho Hotel along with a private screening of the film for about 30 invited guests — including fellow thesps Noomi Rapace, Peter Capaldi and Game Of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie. These sorts of third-party-endorsed “influencer” campaigns are increasingly popular in Hollywood, where recently Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land received similar airings by the unaffiliated likes of Cameron Crowe and Aaron Sorkin. But they’re new to the UK, where most awards screenings follow the traditional actor and director Q&A format. At the event, Jolie said, “Ewan, I’ve known you for years and you’re one of my favorite actors. But I watched this and I didn’t recognize you. It’s strange; to say it’s one of the best performances of the year doesn’t really give it credit. It doesn’t feel like a performance; it comes from such an honest place.” Representing The Impossible ahead of its UK premiere on Monday were 16-year-old co-star Tom Holland, screenwriter Sergio G. Sanchez and composer Fernando Velázquez.
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 resort area where they were vacationing. Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland star in the film directed by Spain’s Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage). Distributor Summit will release the film domestically (already a smash hit in Spain since opening there in mid-October) on December 21, but already has sent out 38,000 DVD screeners to all guilds and the Academy in order to gain a foothold in the race against higher profile, better known competitors. Here is a look at the making of the film in a featurette that also includes an interview with the real-life wife and mother who fights against major odds just to see her kids and husband one more time.
Born To Be King will star Ewan McGregor as a movie extra who looks almost identical to a big star, and Kate Hudson is a famous actress battling with her co-star on their latest project but develops feelings for the extra. Peter Capaldi will direct from his original screenplay. Indomina Releasing has acquired worldwide sales rights to the romantic comedy and will shop it at AFM. Stephanie Denton will lead Indomina’s sales efforts. Alexandra Stone and Dan Lupovitz are producing, Ron Fogelman and William Parente executive produce, and Elaine Collins will co-produce. Denton and Indomina’s Rob Williams negotiated the acquisition with Lupovitz and Stone. Born To Be King is scheduled to start shooting next January at the UK’s Pinewood Studios.
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 on the complex relationship between McGregor’s public enemy number one character and his young protégé. Oz director Julius Avery is best known for the Cannes and Sundance award winning short Jerrycan. He also wrote Son Of A Gun and will make his feature helming debut with the film. Altitude Film Sales, a division of Optimum founder Will Clarke’s Altitude Film Entertainment, is handling global rights. UTA Independent Film Group has North America. Hopscotch/eOne has already taken Australia and New Zealand. Timothy White is producing via Oz-based Southern Light Films with Media House Capital’s Aaron L. Gilbert exec producing. McGregor is repped by UTA, UK-based United Agents and attorney Robert Offer. He’ll next be seen in Juan Antonio Bayona’s tsunami drama The Impossible which releases in December. Avery is repped by UTA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and attorney Bryce Menzies.
Ewan McGregor has been cast alongside Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts in August: Osage County, the movie adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play that begins production September 24. The Weinstein Company made the announcement today. McGregor will play Bill Fordham, the estranged husband of Barbara (Roberts) and son-in-law of pill-popping matriarch Violet Weston (Streep). A college professor, he left his wife for one of his students but wants to be there for his family. His marriage is disintegrating and his patience is running thin. McGregor, most recently seen in Beginners and Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, is up next in The Impossible, the Juan Antonio Bayona tsunami movie that just had its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. He is repped by UTA and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern, as well as United Agents in the UK.
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 trailer:
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 for a limited-run release March 2, 2012. Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas star in the film directed by Lasse Hallstrom and written by Oscar winner Simon Beaufoy.
EXCLUSIVE: HBO’s drama pilot The Corrections continues to assemble a stellar cast. In his first regular TV series gig, Ewan McGregor has been tapped to co-star in the Noah Baumbach/Scott Rudin project, joining previously cast Chris Cooper and Dianne Wiest. Based on Jonathan Franzen’s acclaimed book, The Corrections revolves around the troubles of a Midwestern couple (Cooper and Wiest), and their three adult children as they trace their lives from the mid-20th century to “one last Christmas” together near the turn of the millennium. McGregor will play Chip, the middle child, a Marxist academic who lost his tenure-track position over an affair with a student and now works for a Lithuanian crime boss defrauding American investors. Baumbach and Franzen co-wrote the adaptation, with Baumbach set to direct the pilot. The two are executive producing with Rudin. Trainspotting and Star Wars star McGregor, who recently starred in Beginners, will next be seen in Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire and Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Killer. UTA-repped McGregor’s only previous series stint was a guest appearance on ER, which earned him an Emmy nomination in 1997.
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.