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Toronto TOLDJA!: CBS Films Closes U.S. Deal On ‘Salmon Fishing In The Yemen’

Mike Fleming

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. Read More »

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Toronto: Where Are The Film Deals?

Mike Fleming

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: Read More »

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Broadway Reels In ‘Big Fish’ As ‘Dexter’s Michael C. Hall Is Signing For Musical

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing that Dexter star Michael C. Hall is negotiating to play the lead in Big Fish on Broadway next year. Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks, who produced the Tim Burton-directed film, are producing the musical stage adaptation. Susan Stroman (The Scottsboro Boys) is directing and Andrew Lippa (The Addams Family) wrote the music. John August wrote the book for the musical, based on his movie script from the novel by Daniel Wallace. It is expected to be quite the stage event. The part was originally written for Hugh Jackman, but his movie schedule got in the way and the producers turned to Hall. Before he became TV’s best-known serial killer by merit of the Showtime series, Hall performed in numerous musicals that include Cabaret and Chicago, so he’s certainly got the chops to play Edward Bloom, the man who filled his son’s head with so many unbelievable adventures that occurred during the course of his life.  Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney played that role in the movie.

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2011 Toronto: ‘Shame’ Will Start Dealmaking Flurry, But Buyers Wait To Be Blown Away

Mike Fleming

Last year’s Toronto Film Festival started slow for acquisitions, but finished with a flurry of modest distribution deals that served notice the specialty film business had finally pulled out of its nosedive. This year’s festival hasn’t started and already there are fireworks. Deadline broke news yesterday that Harvey Weinstein would start a VOD business, making the acquisitions market for fringe films more competitive; and last night, I heard that a bidding battle had already broken out for the Steve McQueen-directed Shame,  which should be sold by the time it screens Sunday. Fox Searchlight is the favorite, Sony Pictures Classics is in the mix and I’ve heard that The Weinstein Company is hovering. Bidding began right after its Telluride screening, and the mid-six figures thrown around yesterday will probably go higher. That’s huge, considering the movie is an unabashed NC-17, McQueen has final cut, and the sex-obsessed protagonist is unlikable. Oh, yeah, and the sellers want it released this year for Oscar consideration to capitalize on Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan’s Oscar-caliber performances.

Does this mean we’re in for a drunken buying frenzy? Hardly, buyers tell me. They are eager to see the films, but say there’s no title here that’s going to guarantee somebody will overpay. They are also mindful that many of last year’s deals turned out to be box office busts. More deals will be made than … Read More »

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Focus Features In Talks With Jeb Brody For Production Prexy Post As John Lyons Exits

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: As John Lyons prepares to leave his production president post to focus on philanthropy, Focus Features top executives James Schamus and Andrew Karpen are in talks with Jeb Brody to replace him. Brody, who is currently president of production for producer/financer Vendome Pictures, is well regarded in the indie sphere. He was a producer of Sunshine Cleaning and was the executive producer of Little Miss Sunshine while he worked at Big Beach. Brody exec produced Vencome’s first two film productions, Source Code and Larry Crowne. Lyons made public his plan right after the Cannes Film Festival.

Lyons is leaving to devote more time to his pet project, the Edible Schoolyard/NYC. He is the founder and board chairman of the charity, which mixes his passion for the environment and growing food at the schools. He will oversee an expansion of the program to schools in the five New York boroughs, and he’ll also continue his work on the board of Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Foundation, which is the national program for the Edible Schoolyard initative. He’s also on the board of GrowNYC, a non-profit that promotes environmental awareness and runs the city’s Greenmarket programs. Read More »

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Netflix Makes Pay Deal With Lionsgate UK As Streaming Company Prepares For UK Launch

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In a clear signal that Netflix is preparing for a major expansion into the UK, the streaming company has made what I believe to be its first content deal with a film company there. My sources tell me that Netflix has signed a multi-year exclusive output deal for first pay TV rights with Lionsgate UK. Netflix would not comment, nor would Lionsgate UK, but this pact sets the stage for what will be the first competition that Rupert Murdoch’s Sky has faced in the pay TV movie business in the UK for over a decade.

It is also a deal that gives Lionsgate UK CEO Zygi Kamasa an opportunity to take his company to the next level with a state-of-the-art pay TV deal that will kick in when Netflix opens for UK business. Like Lionsgate in the US, Lionsgate UK is part of the Lionsgate Group, but it operates autonomously under Kamasa, financing film productions and making acquisitions for the UK theatrical and ancillary marketplace. The company’s recent film acquisitions have included The Hurt Locker, The Mechanic and the Ralph Fiennes-directed Coriolanus. Lionsgate UK has also been getting more aggressive in generating British product. It recently completed production on the second film it fully financed, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. The Lasse Hallstrom-directed film stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas, and it premieres at next month’s Toronto Film Festival.

Netflix has so far announced it will make its first … Read More »

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Relativity To Distribute Steven Soderbergh-Directed ‘Haywire’

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Relativity Media will distribute Haywire, the Steven Soderbergh-directed action film that will get a Jan. 20, 2012 release date. Though Relativity Media financed the pic, it was originally going to be released domestically by Lionsgate. I’m told it was a better fit for Relativity. The film will be released overseas by Lionsgate. It becomes the second film in two days to move from Lionsgate to Relativity Media. The other was Machine Gun Preacher, and that one moved because director Marc Forster wanted it released this year and Lionsgate was unable to accommodate it because of a busy fall schedule.

Haywire stars mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton, Antonio Banderas and Michael Angarano.

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Ultimate Bond Girl Eva Green Gets ‘Dark Shadows’ Lead

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Eva Green has landed the female lead in Dark Shadows, the Tim Burton-directed adaptation of the 60s supernatural TV soap opera for Warner Bros. Green, who made a most memorable impression when she broke James Bond’s heart in Casino Royale as Vesper Lynd, is negotiating to play the role of Angelique. In the series, she was a powerful witch who was alternately tormented and bewitched by her love-hate relationship with Barnabas Collins. Depp will play Collins. Lara Parker played the role in the original Gothic horror soap. The French-born actress most recently starred oppposite Ewan McGregor in the romantic thriller Perfect Sense, the Sundance title just acquired by IFC. Green just signed with UTA and she is also repped by UK-based Tavistock Wood.

Yesterday, Deadline revealed that Jackie Earle Haley and Bella Heathcoate are also negotiating lead roles in the film.

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Polanski Sweeps European Film Awards

The Ghost Writer has won 6 European Film Academy awards, the European equivalent of the Oscars, this evening in Tallinn, Estonia. Polanski’s thriller won Best European Film, while Polanski picked up Best Director and shared the screenwriting award with co-author Robert Harris. Ewan McGregor won Best Actor, while production design and music were also honored. In an interview this weekend, Harris said the Swiss authorities were so understanding about Polanski’s need to finish editing The Ghost Writer, they moved editing equipment into the prison where he was being held while facing deportation back to the U.S last year. More than 2,300 academy members voted.

EUROPEAN FILM 2010
THE GHOST WRITER, France/Germany/UK
directed by Roman Polanski
written by Robert Harris & Roman Polanski produced by Robert Benmussa, Alain Sarde & Roman Polanski

EUROPEAN DIRECTOR 2010
Roman Polanski for THE GHOST WRITER

EUROPEAN ACTRESS 2010
Sylvie Testud in LOURDES

EUROPEAN ACTOR 2010
Ewan McGregor in THE GHOST WRITER

EUROPEAN SCREENWRITER 2010
Robert Harris & Roman Polanski for THE GHOST WRITER

CARLO DI PALMA EUROPEAN CINEMATOGRAPHER AWARD 2010 Giora Bejach for LEBANON

EUROPEAN EDITOR 2010
Luc Barnier & Marion Monnier for CARLOS

EUROPEAN PRODUCTION DESIGNER 2010
Albrecht Konrad for THE GHOST WRITER

EUROPEAN COMPOSER 2010
Alexandre Desplat for THE GHOST WRITER

EUROPEAN DISCOVERY 2010- Prix FIPRESCI
LEBANON, Israel/Germany/France
written & directed by Samuel Maoz
produced by Moshe Edery, Leon Edery, David Silber, Uri Sabag, Einat Bickel, Benjamina Mirnik & Illan Girard

EUROPEAN FILM ACADEMY DOCUMENTARY – Prix ARTE 2010 NOSTALGIA DE LA LUZ (Nostalgia for the Light), France/Germany/Chile Directed by Patricio Guzmán

EUROPEAN FILM ACADEMY ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Read More »

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Roman Polanski’s ‘Ghost Writer’ Leads European Film Award Nominations

By | Saturday November 6, 2010 @ 9:17am PDT

Roman Polanski’s thriller has been nominated for 7 European Film Awards including best European film, director, actor (Ewan McGregor), screenwriter, editor, production design and composer. Other leading nominees are Samuel Maoz’s Lebanon with 5 nods and Semih Kaplanoğlu’s Honey with 3. This year’s European Film Awards will take place in Tallinn, Estonia on December 4. The 2,300 members of the European Film Academy will vote for the winners. Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon won the European film, director and screenwriter awards last year.

EUROPEAN FILM 2010:

BAL (Honey), Turkey/Germany
Directed by Semih Kaplanoğlu
Written by Semih Kaplanoğlu & Orçun Köksal
Produced by Semih Kaplanoğlu & Johannes Rexin

DES HOMMES ET DES DIEUX (Of Gods and Men), France
Directed by Xavier Beauvois
Written by Etienne Comar & Xavier Beauvois

THE GHOST WRITER, France/Germany/UK
Directed by Roman Polanski
Written by Robert Harris & Roman Polanski
Produced by Robert Benmussa, Alain Sarde & Roman Polanski

LEBANON, Israel/Germany/France
Written and directed by Samuel Maoz
Produced by Moshe Edery, Leon Edery, David Silber, Uri Sabag, Einat Bickel, Benjamina Mirnik & Illan Girard

EL SECRETO DE SUS OJOS (The Secret in their Eyes), Spain/Argentina
Directed by Juan José Campanella
Written by Eduardo Sacheri & Juan José Campanella
Produced by Gerardo Herrero, Mariela Besuievsky & Juan José Campanella

SOUL KITCHEN, Germany
Directed by Fatih Akin
Written by Fatih Akin & Adam Bousdoukos
Produced by Fatih Akin & Klaus Maeck

EUROPEAN DIRECTOR 2010:

Olivier Assayas for CARLOS
Semih Kaplanoğlu for BAL (Honey)
Samuel Maoz for LEBANON
Roman Polanski for THE GHOST WRITER
Paolo Virzi for LA PRIMA COSA BELLA (The First Beautiful Thing)

EUROPEAN ACTRESS 2010:

Zrinka Cvitešić in NA PUTU (On the Path)
Sibel Kekilli in DIE FREMDE (When

Read More »

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‘Orphanage’ Helmer J.A. Bayona To CAA

Mike Fleming

Juan Antonio Bayona, who made his directing debut with the Spanish language pic The Orphanage, has signed with CAA. He’d been repped by WME. Bayona starts production today on his first English language film, The Impossible, a drama that stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. It’s based on a true story set in Thailand during the devastating 2004 tsunami. Sergio G. Sanchez wrote the script, which was set up as a co-production between Apaches Entertainment and Telecino Cinema, with Summit Entertainment distributing in the U.S. The depiction of a tsunami is a major plot point in Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, and it was a visually stunning sequence. New Line, by the way, is developing a remake of Bayona’s The Orphanage.

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Sony UK Acquires ‘Jackboots On Whitehall’

By | Friday September 24, 2010 @ 11:12pm PDT

The studio’s home entertainment arm has picked up UK rights to the WWII satire. Vertigo Films will release the puppet cartoon theatrically on October 8th. Ewan McGregor voices the hero with Rosamund Pike, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Merchant, Alan Cumming, Richard E Grant, Timothy Spall, Dominic West, Richard Griffiths, Richard O’Brien and Brit TV comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar doing other voices. Jackboots On Whitehall, tubthumped as Team America meets Inglorious Basterds, opens Raindance Film Festival on September 29th and the San Francisco International Animation Festival on November 11th. Here’s the trailer:

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TORONTO: Focus Buys ‘Beginners’ From Mike Mills Starring Ewan McGregor

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Here’s the latest of what deal makers are calling an unprecedented volume of distribution pacts for Toronto International Film Festival fare: Focus Features has acquired distribution rights to Beginners, the film that writer/director Mike Mills unveiled on September 11th. Focus acquired worldwide rights, excluding Canada, France, Australia, Scandinavia and Benelux. The deal was brokered by UTA Independent Film Group, which packaged the film. I’m told the big part of the deal is a P&A commitment of around $2 million, with a generous gross corridor for the filmmakers. There were five other offers on the table for domestic distribution. Read More »

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Jim Carrey Film ‘I Love You Phillip Morris’ Finds Buyer And Gets December 3 Release

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Roadside Attractions and Liddell Entertainment have acquired U.S. and Canadian rights to I Love You Phillip Morris. Written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the fact based film stars Jim Carrey as a married conman who falls in love with his cellmate—Ewan McGregor—and commits all kinds of crazy misdeeds like breaking out of Texas prisons four times, to be with his lover. Roadside Attractions has set a December 3 release date.

The deal closely follows an announcement by Roadside Attractions and Liddell that they completed an acquisition of the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed Biutiful, which confirmed a story Deadline broke on August 10. Biutiful will also be released in December.

The deal ends a prolonged odyssey for I Love You Phillip Morris to find its way to movie screens here. Financed by Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp, the film premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and opened on schedule internationally, grossing around $17 million. Besson’s hopes to see the film get a simultaneous domestic release turned into a nightmare. The film’s original distributor, Consolidated Pictures Group, missed the original February 12 release date, and two other slots–March 26 and April 30–were also scratched.

While the upstart company made a Canadian distribution deal with Alliance and floated in the press a plan to platform the film July 30 and release it wide on August 6, Besson and producers Andrew Lazar and Far Shariat … Read More »

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Egyptian Actor Joins ‘Salmon Fishing’ Cast

Syriana’s Amr Waked will play the Yemeni Sheikh who comes up with the barmy idea of trying to stock salmon in the desert. Salmon Fishing In the Yemen stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas. Shooting starts today for 9 weeks in London, Scotland, and Morocco. Lasse Hallström is directing and Paul Webster producing for Kudos. BBC Films, UK Film Council, and Lionsgate UK are co-financing. Lionsgate is handling international sales.

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David Mackenzie Shoots Guerrilla Rom-Com

By | Tuesday July 13, 2010 @ 3:52am PDT

Luke_TreadawayThe Young Adam and Hallam Foe director has just wrapped shooting a romantic comedy on the fly at Glasgow’s T In the Park rock festival. The movie stars Luke Treadaway (Clash of the Titans) as the lead singer of an indie Scottish band who finds himself handcuffed to the vocalist of a big US rock outfit. The Reverend Al Green handcuffs them together. Love and happiness indeed. At one point, they have to perform in each other’s sets live on stage. Of course they get together in the end.

Mackenzie has shot his guerrilla feature in just five days. The BBC is backing the project. Mackenzie is still editing his other project, Perfect Sense, starring Ewan McGregor and Eva Green. The Scottish director is represented by Sean Gascoigne at United Agents.

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