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Heard It Here First: Tom Hardy To Play Elton John In ‘Rocketman’

By | Wednesday October 23, 2013 @ 12:34pm PDT
Mike Fleming

As Deadline reported in June when FilmDistrict paid $10 million to acquire U.S. rights to the Elton John film Rocketman, Tom Hardy has been set to play Captain Fantastic himself in the Michael Gracey-directed biographical musical film. The script is by Billy Elliot‘s Lee Hall. Gracey’s directing Fox’s upcoming The Greatest Showman On Earth starring Hugh Jackman, and Disney’s The Muppet Man. FilmDistrict bought it when the film was the talk of Cannes, where it was shopped by UTA, the agency that structured the financing. It was there that UK-based Icon’s production arm AI Film agreed to come aboard to co-finance the film with Rocket Pictures.

Related: FilmDistrict Seals $10 Million Deal On ‘Rocketman’

The deal went down before FilmDistrict’s Peter Schlessel took over Focus Features, the latter of which will release the film. Schlessel’s distribution company paid around a $10 million minimum guarantee for a guaranteed wide theatrical release and size-able P&A. There is also a generous gross corridor after the film recoups. The film follows John’s journey from 5-year old musical prodigy who by age 11 won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, to a young man who rebelled against his strict upbringing, wore outrageous costumes and became a global icon who teamed with songwriter Bernie Taupin to sell more records than just about any musical artist of his era. Read More »

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FilmDistrict’s ‘Are We Officially Dating?’ Now Titled ‘That Awkward Moment’

By | Tuesday September 17, 2013 @ 10:50am PDT

FilmDistrict has changed the name of its Zac Efron-starrer. Formerly called Are We Officially Dating?, the pic which also stars Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller, is now titled That Awkward Moment. It’s still set to bow wide on January 31, 2014.

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FilmDistrict Shifts ‘Oldboy’ Release To Thanksgiving Weekend

By | Monday July 29, 2013 @ 4:29pm PDT

FilmDistrict is moving Oldboy‘s release to a crowded Thanksgiving Eve, November 27, about a month later than its initial October 25 date. The Spike Lee-directed film now will go up against two Weinstein Company pics: Grace Of Monaco and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. Also set for release that weekend are Fox Searchlight’s musical Black Nativity, Buena Vista’s animated Frozen, Open Road’s Homefront and the Relativity thriller Out Of The Furnace.

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‘Walk Of Shame’ Shifts Back Release Date

By | Monday June 17, 2013 @ 9:45am PDT

FilmDistrict said it will now release Walk Of Shame wide on Friday, March 14, 2014. It originally was scheduled for September 20. The Elizabeth Banks-starrer written and directed by Steve Brill is a romantic comedy about an aspiring reporter (Banks) whose dreams of becoming a network news anchor are compromised after a one-night stand with a handsome stranger (James Marsden) leaves her stranded in downtown LA without a phone, car, ID or money — and eight hours to make it to a big job interview.

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FilmDistrict Seals Whopping $10 Million Deal On ‘Rocketman’; Tom Hardy Circling Elton John Role

By | Wednesday June 12, 2013 @ 6:31pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: FilmDistrict is nearing a deal to acquire U.S. rights to Rocketman, the Michael Gracey-directed biographical musical film about Sir Elton John. The script is by Billy Elliot‘s Lee Hall, and Tom Hardy is circling to play the lead role. This film was the talk of Cannes, where it was shopped by UTA, which structured the financing. It was there that UK-based Icon’s production arm AI Film agreed to come aboard to co-finance the film with Rocket Pictures during the Cannes Film Festival. I’m told that FilmDistrict is betting big here, with Peter Schlessel’s distribution company paying around a $10 million minimum guarantee for a guaranteed wide theatrical release and size-able P&A. There is also a generous gross corridor after the film recoups.

The film follows John’s journey from 5-year old musical prodigy who by age 11 won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, to a young man who rebelled against his strict upbringing, wore outrageous costumes and became a global icon who teamed with songwriter Bernie Taupin to sell more records than just about any musical artist of his era. John’s musical catalog is part of the mix, so this is going to be a major film. Steve Hamilton Shaw and David Furnish are producing the project along with Lawrence Bender for AI Film. Sir Elton John and Access Industries’ Len Blavatnik are executive producing the film, along with Icon/AI Film CEO Aviv Giladi and FilmDistrict CEO Schlessel. Read More »

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FilmDistrict Dates ‘Selfless’ For Sept. 26, 2014

By | Wednesday June 12, 2013 @ 1:47pm PDT

Tarsem-directed Selfless will bow wide on September 26, 2014 opposite Focus Features’ animated The Boxtrolls. Ryan Reynolds stars in the sci-fi thriller that centers on a terminally ill billionaire who buys a chance for eternal life through an experimental underground medical procedure which transfers his consciousness into the cadaver of a younger man. The promise of immortality turns into a nightmare when he experiences flashbacks which begin to reveal the disturbing origins of the body he now inhabits. Carriers scribes Alex and David Pastor penned the script.

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Hot Trailer: ‘Insidious: Chapter 2′

By | Wednesday June 5, 2013 @ 10:23am PDT

FilmDistrict scored a $97M hit on a reported $1.5M budget with 2011′s indie ghost pic Insidious, helmed by Saw creator James Wan. Before Wan steps up to the Fast & Furious franchise he’ll return along with microbudget horror producers Jason Blum and Oren Peli and stars Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey and Ty Simpkins for Insidious: Chapter 2. FilmDistrict releases the sequel September 13. Check out the new trailer:

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FilmDistrict Shifts ‘Oldboy’ Release Date

By | Thursday May 23, 2013 @ 10:33am PDT

The Spike Lee-directed remake of Park Chan-wook’s cult Korean classic will now see its wide release on October 25, 2013, after FilmDistrict originally slated it for October 11. Oldboy will now bow opposite Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 5, which already had the date. Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson, Elizabeth Olsen and Sharlto Copley star in the revenge pic, which was originally part of Park’s Vengeance trilogy that included Lady Vengeance and Sympathy For Mister Vengeance. That latter movie is also getting a U.S. remake, with Silver Reel and Lotus Entertainment announcing in Cannes that they are partnering with di Bonaventura Pictures and CJ Entertainment for an English-language version from a script by Broken City‘s Brian Tucker.

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FilmDistrict Launches Boutique Distribution Label

By | Monday April 15, 2013 @ 11:53am PDT

Los Angeles April 15, 2013 – FilmDistrict announced today the launch of High Top Releasing, a new boutique label which will provide theatrical booking services to independent producers. This new label, which will exist as a standalone subsidiary under FilmDistrict, will provide distribution-for-hire services including sales, in-theatre marketing and print control support, film rental negotiation and collection capabilities to independent producers who have the ability to provide their own prints-and-advertising and marketing resources. Films released under the High Top moniker will be distinct from FilmDistrict and will not be accounted for in the studio’s box-office revenue share. The label will launch with the release of romantic drama I’M IN LOVE WITH A CHURCH GIRL, in association with Mission Pictures Releasing, which stars rapper Ja Rule, alongside Adrianne Bailon and Michael Madsen; and THE ULTIMATE LIFE, sequel to THE ULTIMATE GIFT, starring Peter Fonda, Logan Bartholemew , Bill Cobbs, Lee Meriwhether and Ali Hillis.

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FilmDistrict Boards Paranormal Horror Pic ‘The Last Word’

By | Wednesday April 10, 2013 @ 11:42am PDT

FilmDistrict has come on to co-finance and release the true story horror pic, set to hit theaters in 2014. Based on actual events, The Last Word unfolds after a young Texas man is wrongfully convicted and executed for the rape and murder of a nun. Filming on the Boss Media and A7SLE Films production begins this summer from a script by Ben Ketai (Chosen). Boss Media’s Frank Mancuso Jr is producing with Eric Gores, Peter Facinelli and Rob DeFranco of A7SLE Films and FilmDistrict’s Peter Schlessel and Lia Buman.

Related: FilmDistrict Acquires Rights To ‘Pompeii’

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FilmDistrict Acquires U.S. Rights To Paul W.S. Anderson’s ‘Pompeii’

By | Tuesday April 9, 2013 @ 4:31pm PDT

FilmDistrict has acquired U.S. rights to Pompeii, the Paul W.S. Anderson-directed action adventure film, set for a February 28, 2014 release. Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Jared Harris, Kiefer Sutherland, Carrie-Ann Moss, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Jessica Lucas star. The film centers on an enslaved Celtic gladiator who falls in love with a noblewoman on the eve of a massive volcanic eruption that destroys Pompeii, an event that also brings him face-to-face with the man who slaughtered his family years earlier. Jeremy Bolt, Anderson, Robert Kulzer and Don Carmody are producing with Martin Moszkowicz, Peter Schlessel and Jon Brown serving as executive producers. Lee and Janet Scott Batchler, Michael Robert Johnson and Julian Fellowes penned the screenplay. FilmDistrict will distribute through Sony’s TriStar Pictures. Lionsgate will handle international sales.

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Release Date Roundup: FilmDistrict’s ‘Walk Of Shame’; Summit’s ‘Escape Plan’

By | Tuesday April 9, 2013 @ 3:07pm PDT

The Elizabeth Banks-starrer Walk Of Shame will bow wide September 20, 2013. That’s the date FilmDistrict originally planned to release its horror sequel Insidious Chapter 2, but the distributor has now shifted that title up a week to a September 13, where it will face Open Road’s Machete Kills and Screen Gems’ drama Battle Of The Year. Steve Brill wrote and directed Walk Of Shame, a romantic comedy about an aspiring reporter (Banks) whose dreams of becoming a network news anchor are compromised after a one-night stand with a handsome stranger (James Marsden) leaves her stranded in downtown LA without a phone, car, ID or money – and eight hours to make it to a big job interview. Read More »

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FilmDistrict Ups Three In Business Affairs, Finance & Marketing

By | Monday March 4, 2013 @ 10:38am PST

LOS ANGELES March 4, 2013 – Independent U.S. distributor FilmDistrict announced today the promotion of three executives within the company’s business affairs, finance, and marketing divisions. Beth Lemberger will move in to the role of Executive Vice President of Business Affairs and General Counsel, continuing to report to FilmDistrict CEO Peter Schlessel; Brad Goldberg now holds the new title Executive Vice President of Media and Digital, and will continue to report to Christine Birch, FilmDistrict’s President of Marketing; and Anjay Nagpal has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Finance and Business Development, continuing to report to Chief Operating Officer Adrian Alperovich.

Read More »

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‘Insidious Chapter 2′ Release Pushed To September 20

By | Friday March 1, 2013 @ 3:02pm PST

FilmDistrict said today the sequel to the low-budget 2011 horror pic will now be released September 20, 2013. It originally was scheduled for August 30, when it would have gone up against four films including The Weinstein Company’s own horror outing Satanic. Insidious Chapter 2 now faces a less crowded field; it shares the frame with the Warner Bros action film Prisoners and Rush, Ron Howard’s biopic of Formula One racer Niki Lauda. The sequel, which started production in January in LA, returns screenwriter Leigh Whannell and director James Wan as well as Barbara Hershey and Patrick Wilson from the original, which grossed $97 million worldwide on a budget of $1.5 million.

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Sony Moves ‘Evil Dead’ Into April 5 Slot After Fox Bumps ‘The Heat’ To Summer

By | Wednesday January 30, 2013 @ 12:55pm PST

Evil Dead RemakeSony has shifted the release of its reboot with FilmDistrict of Evil Dead to April 5 now that Fox has moved its Sandra Bullock-Melissa McCarthy comedy The Heat to June 28. The bump to summer puts the Paul Feig-directed buddy cop pic in prime position to capture Bridesmaids-esque box office magic, but it left the April 5 slot wide open for anyone ready to saddle up against Universal’s Jurassic Park 3D, the only other wide release in the frame. (Fox Searchlight also advanced Danny Boyle’s Trance to fill the April 5 void, albeit in limited release.) Enter Sony/FilmDistrict’s Evil Dead, directed by Fede Alvarez and produced by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, which will counter Steven Spielberg‘s genetically engineered re-dimensionalized dinos with R-rated gore and a twist on the classic Evil Dead premise that already has the genre crowd’s attention. The early open also strategically moves Evil Dead ahead of Weinstein/Dimension’s Scary Movie 5, which opens the following week.

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Sundance: Sales Action Heating Up On ‘Austenland,’ ‘Look Of Love’ And Others

Mike Fleming

The Sundance acquisition logjam appears to be breaking. Deal-making is close on Austenland, and a deal just closed on The Look Of Love, with offers starting to be made on several other films. Word is that FilmDistrict is in talks for Austenland, which stars Keri Russell as an obsessed Jane Austen fan who visits a theme park based on the famed author’s work and her search for romance. Pic’s repped by UTA, which tells me this hasn’t been decided yet.

At the same time, a deal is closing for IFC to acquire North American rights to the Michael Winterbottom-directed Steve Coogan-starrer The Look Of Love. Coogan plays Paul Raymond, who ran Soho’s notorious Raymond Revue Bar and Men Only magazine. UTA consulted for Studiocanal on the deal. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Dead Man Down’

By | Wednesday January 2, 2013 @ 1:09pm PST

The first trailer for the Colin Farrell-starring Dead Man Down dropped today. Niels Arden Oplev directed the crime thriller, about a professional killer and right-hand man to an underground New York crime lord who’s seduced and blackmailed by a crime victim seeking retribution. The latter juicy role is being played by Noomi Rapace, who did the Swedish Girl With The Dragon Tattoo pic with Oplev. Terrence Howard and Dominic Cooper co-star in Dead Man Down, which was penned by J.H. Wyman, who co-produced with Neal H. Moritz. FilmDistrict has set a March 8 release for the movie, a month earlier than originally planned.


Watch it on YouTube: Dead Man Down Official Trailer

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FilmDistrict Moves ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ To March 22, 2013

By | Friday December 14, 2012 @ 12:34pm PST
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Perhaps trying to create more space between competing movies, FilmDistrict has moved Olympus Has Fallen to March 22. That film, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman, has a storyline very similar to White House Down, the Sony Pictures film that stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, with Roland Emmerich directing. Both are Die Hard-in-the-White House-style dramas where the the building is overtaken by terrorists and it’s up to a Secret Service agent to save the president. White House Down‘s current date is June 28, but let’s see if Sony changes that. It’s usually better to be first – Capote did much better than the similar-themed Infamous – but not always. Last year, after much jockeying, Relativity Media put its Snow White saga Mirror Mirror out first. Universal’s Snow White And The Huntsman did better, and a sequel script was just turned in.

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‘Insidious’ Sequel Set For Aug 30, 2013

The cast, writer Leigh Whannell and director James Wan are returning for Insidious Chapter 2, which FilmDistrict will release August 30, 2013. The first horror pic, released in April 2011, was one of the most profitable films of that year, grossing $97 million worldwide on a budget of $1.5 million. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions bought U.S. rights to the sequel with FilmDistrict and will handle ancillary U.S. rights and distribute in some overseas territories. Alliance Films is financing and distributing in Canada, the UK and Spain. Jason Blum, who produced Insidious, is producing through his Blumhouse Productions. Brian Kavanaugh Jones, Oren Peli, Steven Schneider, and Charles Layton are executive producing the pic, which is set to begin production January 15 in Los Angeles. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne reprise their roles in the movie, about a couple and their son, confronting the demons that possess the young boy.

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