EXCLUSIVE: Thomas Horn, the youth Scott Rudin saw as a 12-year-old Jeopardy! winner and then cast him to make his acting debut in the Oscar-nominated Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, has been set for …
OSCARS: Producer Scott Rudin Talks Critics Awards, Salander, His ‘Jeopardy’ Discovery And Why A Non-Baseball Fan Relates To ‘Moneyball’
EXCLUSIVE: We are in the thick of the awards season, a time of year when at least one film produced by Scott Rudin is usually in the conversation. Last year, he was producer of two Best Picture nominees, The Social Network and True Grit. This year, he’s got three in the mix. There’s Moneyball, the 9/11-themed Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. All this happened in a year when Rudin closed his Hollywood office and formally moved his producing deal to Sony Pictures (where he produced The Social Network and joined producers Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt in reconfiguring Moneyball). None of that impeded his output and when Rudin took time out for Deadline and what will likely be his only Oscar season Q&A, he pulled himself away from new films he’s making with the Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach. That is a lot of activity for any producer — and Rudin separately generates as many Broadway shows as he does films — but it’s a pace the New York-based producer is comfortable handling.
AWARDSLINE: Much was written about The New Yorker reviewer David Denby breaking an embargo that New York film critic voters agreed to abide by when they saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for the purposes of voting for their annual awards. Now, he wrote a positive review…
RUDIN: That wasn’t the issue.
AWARDSLINE: Why did it trouble you so much?
RUDIN: Because you want reviews timed to the release of the movie when they can sell tickets. Having reviews break earlier…I mean, our campaign is calibrated very carefully around closing the campaign with the release of the film. You want reviews to cume the week the movie’s opening and not a month before when they do you absolutely no good. What also concerned me was if he broke the embargo there was a decent chance other people would. It turned out that other people felt such scorn for him that nobody else did, which was kind of remarkable.
AWARDSLINE: Was it more about giving your word and not keeping it?
RUDIN: Keep your word or don’t come to the movie. It’s totally fine to say I’m not going to honor a review embargo, but you have to give me and the studio the right to say, don’t come see it. You don’t put in writing a commitment not to review until a certain date and then review it anyway because you don’t want to write about other movies that you don’t think are serious enough for you. It’s incredibly disingenuous.
AWARDSLINE: All this happened because the New York film critics moved up their deadline two weeks to be first. How valid are these lists when a late entry like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close aren’t even considered?
RUDIN: I can only answer in relation to my stuff. I mean, in the case of the New York critics, they set a deadline that was literally a day ahead of when we would be able to screen Dragon Tattoo. We were perfectly fine not screening for them, but they came to us and said they wanted to move the date by a day to include us. Because we had won it last year on Social Network, we felt we kind of owed it to them. It seemed churlish not to let them see the movie if they moved the date. We didn’t ask them to move the date; they came to us. And then I got a bunch of nasty emails from John Anderson saying, why didn’t you ask us to move the date on Extremely Loud? The whole thing seemed so ridiculous. They were all trying to get ahead of each other. Honestly, I don’t think it has hurt Extremely Loud one iota not to have been seen by the couple of groups that didn’t see it. In the end, it’s all opinion anyway. It’s great when you win those things but not great enough that you wouldn’t finish a movie well. Those critics awards come and go every year, but the finished movie is your work. I would love to have finished Extremely Loud two weeks earlier and screened it for everybody. It just wasn’t done. And the same was true with Dragon Tattoo. These were big ambitious movies that were on very very tight finishing schedules and we just couldn’t do it.
AWARDSLINE: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo deal seemed to take forever. It was obviously complicated by the fact that Stieg Larsson had passed away. What was the biggest challenge for you in pulling the rights together on the series?
RUDIN: The big issue on it was that the book was still growing in popularity, so it was hard to figure out, honestly, what a fair deal was. We’d start to make it a deal, you’d turn around and the book has sold 5 million more copies and suddenly it’s worth more. It just took a long time.
AWARDSLINE: How long?
RUDIN: Almost a year and a half. When we started to negotiate we didn’t know there were Swedish movies. Nobody told us, I had no idea. Honestly, we started out buying movie rights and it turned out we were buying remake rights. We got way down the road before anybody said, “Oh, by the way, these were made.”
AWARDSLINE: Did that make you think twice?
RUDIN: No. I think the first one especially was good and entertaining. But Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton and I felt like Lisbeth is such an astonishing character, she could go as long as you wanted her to go. So, making it a big superstar director version of it always felt like a great idea and that a Swedish language version wasn’t going to hurt it all. In fact, would probably help it.
Coming into December Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, producer Scott Rudin’s third Oscar hopeful this Fall (after Moneyball and December 21 release The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), was expected to become an immediate major player in the Oscar game, but several problems crept up including some last-minute…
The 62nd Berlin International Film Festival has set its first five competition films, and has selected the Stephen Daldry-directed Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close and the Zhang Yimou-directed The Flowers Of War to screen out of competition. The selected productions and co-productions are from Indonesia, Spain, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong/China, the Philippines, Great Britain, Germany, the U.S. and France.
Here are the films so far:
Captive, France/Philippines/Germany/Great Britain. By Brillante Mendoza (Serbis, Kinatay, Lola.) With Isabelle Huppert, Katherine Mulville, Marc Zanetta. World premiere.
Dictado (Childish Games), Spain. By Antonio Chavarrías (Susanna, Volverás, Las vidas de Celia) With Juan Diego Botto, Barbara Lennie, Mágica Pérez. World premiere.
Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, USA By Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours, The Reader) With Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow, Thomas Horn International premiere / Out of Competition.
Jin líng Shí San Chai (The Flowers Of War), People’s Republic of China. By Zhang Yimou (The Red Lantern, Hero, A Woman, A Gun And A Noodle Shop) With Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Atsuro Watabe International premiere / Out of Competition.
Kebun binatang (Postcards From The Zoo), Indonesia/Germany/Hongkong, China. By Edwin (Kara, Anak Sebatang Pohon, The Blind Pig Who Wants To Fly) With Ladya Cheryl, Nicholas Saputra. World premiere.
New trailer for director Stephen Daldry and screenwriter Eric Roth’s adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel reveals a bit more of Tom Hanks, Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock and Max Von Sydow. The Warner Bros movie opens in limited release Christmas Day and expands January 20.
Is Alexandre Desplat the new hardest working man in show business? The prolific French composer who has had four Oscar nominations in the last five years is just coming off his busiest year since gaining international notoriety in 2003 with Girl With A Pearl Earring. Since then he has been one …
There has been much speculation on the West Coast about which “work in progress from a master filmmaker scheduled to be released this year” is going to be the subject of New York Film Festival’s mystery screening Monday night at Avery Fisher Hall for only the second time in the fest’s 49-year history. It’s certainly a good ploy for Oscar attention. A lot of the guessing centers on Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar or Steven Spielberg’s War Horse or The Adventures Of Tintin — but all of those films are finished, not works in progress at this point. Another popular guess is Stephen Daldry’s post-9/11 New York-set Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close. But as fine a director as this three-time Oscar nominee is, I don’t think the word “master” yet applies, so scratch that. It could be the latest from Wong Kar Wai or Zhang Yimou, but neither of their films are set for this year yet — at least in America. Some think it may be David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but I know for a fact no one at Sony is aware if it is, and apparently it would violate his deal if he were doing this on his own. So very doubtful. That leaves a genuine “master,” Martin Scorsese, with his work, the 3D Hugo from Paramount, which is still “in progress” toward its November 23rd holiday release. However, a Paramount source who knows these things guessed it was the Daldry film while strongly indicating it wasn’t Hugo, adding, “Do you really think Martin Scorsese would premiere his movie that way?” Well, yes.
Warner Bros’ Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, about a precocious boy whose father is killed on Sept. 11, hits theaters in limited release on a crowded Christmas Day. Stephen Daldry’s adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s 2005 novel stars Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, James Gandolfini and Viola Davis. Newcomer Thomas …
Last week we looked at potential Oscar contenders released in the first eight months of 2011 (see Woody Allen, Brad Pitt, ‘The Help’ And Cast Among Early 2011 Oscar Contenders; Can They Hang On?), but as any pundit worth their prognosticator card will tell you, the game is really played out in the final four months, where the lion’s share of major eventual nominees will open and flourish on their way to the playoffs at the guilds, Globes and critics awards and the finals at the Kodak Theatre on Feb. 26.
So with the all-important official start of awards season kicking off next week in Venice and Telluride, followed closely by the Toronto International Film Festival beginning Sept. 8, here is the next installment of my early preseason primer for the likely contenders. Just keep in mind most of these films are still largely unseen, so take it all with a grain of salt. Once the movies actually are viewed, the landscape can change dramatically, and of course there is always that possibility of a real sleeper coming out of nowhere, landing a distribution deal and opening before the end of the year.
First up, a look at what the major studios have in store.
In recent years, the majors have been largely upstaged in the final vote by those upstart indies. Last year, The Weinstein Co’s The King’s Speech rode a surprise victory at the Producers Guild Awards all the way to a Best Pic Oscar win over the majors’ strong money bets The Social Network (Sony), The Fighter and True Grit (Paramount) and Toy Story 3 (Disney). In 2009, Summit’s little-war-film-that-could, The Hurt Locker, had the smallest gross of any Best Picture winner ever but still ran over the biggest entry ever from a major, 20th Century Fox’s Avatar, the most successful film of all time. Nevertheless, the rule of 10 nominees in effect for both those years certainly benefitted the majors in landing them four of the Best Pic slots in 2010 and five the previous year. Even though the Academy has now tweaked that rule to create a scenario in which anywhere from five to 10 pics can be nominated, the majors for the most part have an exceptionally strong fall slate and should remain a factor as one of them tries to reclaim the crown last given to a pure major studio release in 2006 to Warner Bros’ The Departed. And though major studios seem more obsessed in creating money-minting tentpoles these days than bathing in Oscar glory, the ego still flies on the lots and majors would like those front-row seats at the Kodak just as much as Harvey Weinstein.
Note: Independents owned by majors like Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics and Focus will be included in the next installment looking at indie contenders. This one is just for the big boys.
Kicking off Warners’ fall season Sept. 9 and before that at the Venice Film Festival is Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, a serious thriller looking at the fight to stop a major virus outbreak killing millions around the world. Although Warners is just hoping it grabs the grown-up audience and makes some nice change, it could move up in the pantheon of studio Oscar hopefuls if it makes a big impact and gets editorial interest off the entertainment pages.
Warners’ two biggest bets for a fall awards splash are the Nov. 9 release J. Edgar and Dec. 25 biggie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The latter is a post-9/11 drama with serious Oscar cred in stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock and director Stephen Daldry, whose first three films – Billy Elliot, The Hours and The Reader — each landed him a Best Director Oscar nod, a nearly unprecedented perfect track record. As for J. Edgar, it stars three-time Best Actor nominee Leonardo DiCaprio, was written by Milk’s Oscar-winning scripter Dustin Lance Black and directed by four-time winner Clint Eastwood, who with Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby has two previous Warner Bros Best Pictures under his belt. Couple that with subject matter revolving around a biographical portrait of the controversial FBI director and you have the stuff Oscar voters usually eat up — on paper at least. After weak Academy showings with Gran Torino, Invictus and Hereafter, the prolific Clint could be due for another dance with Oscar.
The studio also hopes to be back in the animation race this year with the sequel to its 2006 winner Happy Feet Two, which bows Nov. 18.