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UPDATE: Relativity Shifts ‘Desert Dancer’ Release Date To 2015, Moves Up ‘Hector And The Search For Happiness’

By | Friday June 6, 2014 @ 4:27pm PDT

Relativity_newlogoUPDATE, 4:27 PM: Relativity also said it will platform release Hector And The Search For Happiness, the Peter Chelsom-directed pic that stars Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike, Stllan Skarsgard, Jean Reno and Christopher Plummer, to September 19 in NY and LA. It was  scheduled for a September 26 bow when the studio acquired the comedy for seven figures in April. The new plan is to roll out to select cities the week after and expand further on October 3.

Desert Dancer Release DatePREVIOUS, 12:30 PM: Relativity Media had set a summer 2014 limited bow for Desert Dancer, from helmer Richard Raymond and starring Reece Ritchie and Freida Pinto. Those plans have changed, with the studio today confirming it is moving the fact-based drama to a March 20, 2015, platform release, with expansion a week later. Read More »

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Relativity Sets ‘Desert Dancer’ For August

By | Monday April 21, 2014 @ 5:55pm PDT

desert dancerRelativity Media has set a summer limited bow for Desert Dancer, from helmer Richard Raymond. Reece Ritchie and Freida Pinto star in the true story of Afshin Ghaffarian (Ritchie), an Iranian dancer who risked everything to start a dance company amidst the politically volatile climate of the country’s 2009 protests and the nation’s ban on dancing. Pic marks Raymond’s directorial debut and was written by Jon Croker (Paddington) and produced by Pippa Cross, Richard Raymond, Izabella Miko and Luis Astorquia. Desert Dancer will open in select cities on August 15, expanding on August 22.

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Andy Serkis Closes Big ‘Planet Of The Apes’ Deal; Should Fox Campaign For Oscar?

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Fox informs me that the studio will wage an Oscar campaign for Andy Serkis for Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

EXCLUSIVE: When Rise of the Planet of the Apes‘s $453 million worldwide gross was listed as a bright spot in the quarterly earnings of beleaguered NewsCorp, you know a sequel is a big 20th Century Fox priority. So who did the studio lock in first? No, it wasn’t James Franco or Freida Pinto. The studio just closed what I’m told is a healthy seven-figure deal for Andy Serkis to reprise his role as lead ape Caesar. Serkis had only signed on for one movie, so his reps had leverage in ensuring that he come back to continue leading the ape takeover in multiple future installments of the series.

Director Rupert Wyatt’s original deal came with a sequel option, so he’s locked. So are screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, who are producing with Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark. The studio is still in the idea stage and the sequel hasn’t been dated for release. As for Franco and Pinto, those decisions will likely be made when the direction of the film crystallizes. The studio certainly has the leverage there; the clever construct of the first film ended with a wallop that makes everyone expendable.

In his … Read More »

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Toronto: Sundance Selects Lands North American Rights To ‘Trishna’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: IFC’s Sundance Selects has acquired North American rights to Trishna, the Michael Winterbottom-directed drama that stars Freida Pinto and Riz Ahmed. It has been a busy 24 hours for Jonathan Sehring and Arianna Bocco, who add this deal to yesterday’s IFC acquisitions of the Lynn Shelton-directed Toronto title Your Sister’s Sister and the gory Midnight Madness title The Incident, as well as the Abel Ferrara-directed Last Day on Earth. Read More »

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‘Slumdog’ Star Freida Pinto Now Indian ‘Tess’

By | Wednesday February 16, 2011 @ 10:01am PST

The Slumdog Millionaire actress starts shooting an Indian version of the classic Thomas Hardy tragic novel on location in Rajasthan and Mumbai on February 28th. Riz Ahmed (Four Lions) will co-star as the son of a wealthy property developer who falls for the daughter of an auto rickshaw driver. Trishna will be directed by Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart). Sales agent Bankside has begun selling the film in Berlin. This is the 3rd time that Michael Winterbottom has turned to author Thomas Hardy for his source material. First he made Jude (1996), starring Kate Winslet and Christopher Eccleston, then he made The Claim (2000), a Klondike version of The Mayor of Casterbridge. Winterbottom’s producer partner Andrew Eaton tells me that Winterbottom has always been a big Hardy fan. He made a short at university based on the pig-sticking scene in Jude The Obscure and then got to film it for real 10 years later. This is the 7th time that Hardy’s tragedy has been filmed – most famously Roman Polanski’s Tess, which starred Natassia Kinski as the trusting servant girl who’s abused by the men around her.

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Sony About To Recapture James Bond #23; UPDATE: MGM Leverages 007 For Deal On Sony’s ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’

2ND UPDATE:  The new MGM brass, Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum managed to leverage the James Bond #23 film for a piece of Sony’s in-the-works big movie based on the Stieg Larsson bestseller, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which has already been shooting in Sweden under director David Fincher and starring Rooney Mara. Deadline has learned that Sony Pictures bosses Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton agreed to give MGM a co-financing deal for the big title and possibly other films already shooting, too, to help the reconstituted studio generate quick cash flow. This allows MGM to have revenue which it hasn’t had in a long time, so the books look better, and more funds for production could be forthcoming. (That’s exactly how Birnbaum and Barber built their Spyglass Entertainment in the first place: by investing in films it didn’t make, like the recently rebooted Star Trek.)

UPDATE: We’re told Paramount dropped out of the Bond bidding when MGM insisted on bringing the distribution fee under 8% and when MGM got “grabby” in wanting a piece of a Paramount established franchise that studio didn’t want to give up.

EXCLUSIVE 5 PM: Deadline hears that Sony Pictures is close to landing distribution rights to MGM’s James Bond franchise again, and specifically for the next untitled Bond #23, even though several studios are still very much in the hunt. Sony Pictures chiefs Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton distributed both Daniel Craig 007 pics, Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace, and now have moved into first position to recapture 007. That’s because Sony is agreeing to allow MGM’s new leadership to leverage the next Bond pic, and indeed the Bond franchise, to create more cash flow for the reconstituted studio post-bankruptcy. The new brass, Spyglass Entertainment co-owners Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum who are now the Co-Chairmen andCEOs of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, are finishing negotiations to co-finance a number of films with Sony. Deadline has learned that Pascal and Lynton have already found a title on the Sony slate for MGM to co-finance. That’s exactly how Birnbaum and Barber built Spyglass in the first place: by investing in films it didn’t make, such as The Sixth Sense and the recently rebooted Star Trek.

There’s no doubt this is a shrewd move by MGM, but Deadline also learned it wasn’t sitting well with the majors. Top execs at Sony and Fox and Paramount and Warner Bros were increasingly frustrated with the way that the Spyglass duo were playing one studio off another — “and enjoying it,” in the words of one exec involved. Sony at the time even described its strategy to win Bond #23 as ”pleading”. Now it looks like that worked along with agreeing to much of MGM’s negotiating terms.

Even though MGM holds sway on where Bond #23 lands, a 007 return to the Sony fold would please EON partners Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson. Amy Pascal in particular has developed a strong personal and professional relationship with Broccoli when they were making the transition from Pierce Brosnan to Daniel Craig. Broccoli  and Wilson found Craig among a list of possible 007s, and the choice wasn’t popular at first. But Pascal supported Craig. Also Sony has a reputation for spending big to market Bond: for Casino Royale, Sony spent a humongous sum worldwide to introduce the new Bond. MGM was supposed to distribute the 23rd Bond film itself, until the studio was pushed into bankruptcy. Read More »

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Is Jean-Jacques Annaud’s ‘Black Gold’ Biggest Ever Arab-Backed Pic?

Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications has brought the Doha Film Institute aboard as a co-producer of Black Gold, the Jean-Jacques Annaud-directed feature that began production in Tunisia on October 18. DFI, making its first foray into a major international feature production, will provide a mix of equity, services and locations. Even though the $55 million picture is directed by a French helmer, Black Gold is shaping up to be groundbreaking for a film that is back by Arabs with subject matter about them. An adaptation of the Hans Reusch novel The Great Thirst, Black Gold stars Antonio Banderas, Tahar Rahim, Mark Strong, Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed and Liya Kebede. The drama is about the rivalry between two Emirs in Arabia in the 1930s, just as oil is being discovered, and the rise of a young dynamic leader who unites the various tribes of the desert kingdoms. The film is being earmarked for Christmas, 2011 release, and Warner Bros has signed on to distribute in France, UK, Latin America and the Middle East, while Universal Pictures International will release it in Germany and Spain and Quinta’s Eagle Pictures has Italy. Read More »

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Antonio Banderas Takes On ‘Black Gold’

Warner Bros and Universal are sharing territories on Tunisian entrepreneur Tarak Ben Ammar’s next feature Black Gold. The story revolves around the rivalry between Arabian rulers in the 1930s just as oil is being discovered, and the rise of a young, dynamic leader who unites the various tribes of the desert kingdoms. Filming begins in Tunisia on October 18, with shooting taking place in Ben Ammar’s Empire Studios and on location in Tunisia. Tahar Rahim (A Prophet), Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), Riz Ahmed and Liya Kebede star along with Banderas. Jean-Jacques Annaud (Enemy at the Gate, Seven Years In Tibet) will direct, based on the screenplay by Menno Meyjes (Empire of the Sun, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). Warner will distribute in France, the UK, Latin America and the Middle East. Universal Pictures International (UPI) is releasing the film in Germany and Spain. Quinta Communications’ Eagle Pictures is handling distribution in Italy. Quinta says remaining territories are being finalised for a worldwide Christmas 2011 release. Ben Ammar, who sits on the board of The Weinstein Company, most recently co-produced Rachid Bouchareb’s Outside the Law.

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