Christopher McQuarrie Returns To Write, Direct GK Films Adaptation Of British Miniseries ‘Unforgiven’
EXCLUSIVE: Christopher McQuarrie is back steering the feature adaptation of the celebrated UK miniseries Unforgiven. He has signed on to write, direct and produce alongside Graham King, whose GK Films has tried for several years to turn the mini into a film and got McQuarrie to return.
Unforgiven is a drama-thriller about the intrigue and violence that unfolds when a woman completes a 15-year prison stretch for the murder of two policemen who’d come to evict her family from their farmhouse. Her hope is to live quietly and reunite with her troubled younger sister, but she unwittingly becomes a target for revenge. Suranne Jones played the lead in the mini, which was written by Sally Wainwright and directed by David Evans. McQuarrie was originally going to write the project after King bought it in 2010, and he was going to write it as a potential star vehicle for Angelina Jolie. He left to direct Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher. While McQuarrie is expected to next direct Cruise in Mission: Impossible 5, Unforgiven has again become a priority project for him. McQuarrie separately scripted Cruise’s next film at Warner Bros, All You Need Is Kill. He won the Oscar for scripting The Usual Suspects.
EXCLUSIVE: Scott Frank will rewrite and direct a feature adaptation of the 2009 British miniseries Unforgiven for GK Films partners Graham King and Tim Headington. When the project was set at GK last year, Christopher McQuarrie was signed to …
Another piece of this year’s Oscar movie puzzle was unveiled in a big way this weekend when Paramount rolled out Martin Scorsese’s 99.9%-finished version of Hugo, an ode to the early days of cinema and the eye-popping possibilities of movies. It’s the director’s first family film, 3D film and perhaps most personal film. In an intriguing and highly unusual move, Paramount held a packed screening, with tons of invited press and bloggers included, at Regal’s Downtown LA Live theaters Saturday afternoon. Then that night they also played it at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills for the Academy’s official membership screening. That last move was interesting because most films play either the weekend of opening or after for the Acad (although The Weinstein Co. unspooled their much-praised ode to the early days of cinema, The Artist, to an appreciative audience for its official Academy screening Sunday night).
It is extremely rare to show voters something that is still unfinished (one special effects shot was missing and the end credits are far from complete), but Hugo‘s media rollout has been different from the start. It was first unleashed in a much-less-finished form at the New York Film Festival last month as a “work in progress.” Reaction on the web was all over the place, generally favorable, but did not signal a major awards contender outside of the obvious technical nominations for the film’s stunning look. That screening in hindsight may have been a miscalculation.
This week, things began to heat up. Paramount had a couple of “tastemaker” screenings for AMPAS members a few days ago (one in the evening, one during lunchtime) where the median age range was said to be 60-plus — with 50 members reportedly at each. There were also reportedly 80 members who checked in for the Regal screening that was accompanied by a lively post-movie Q&A moderated by director Paul Thomas Anderson with Scorsese and his dream team of much-Oscared collaborators including DP Robert Richardson, production designer Dante Ferretti, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, composer Howard Shore and visual effects supervisor Rob Legato. Scorsese received an enthusiastic standing ovation when he was introduced, just as he did again today after a DGA screening for a Q&A moderated by James Cameron, who told him Hugo was a “masterpiece.” He added, “finally there is a Scorsese film I can take my kids to.” And Cameron also told Scorsese it was the best use of 3D he had seen, including his own films. At Saturday’s Regal Q&A, Legato actually credited the innovations in Avatar for making possible a lot of what Hugo was able to do. Musician Slash was among those also at the DGA screening and he later tweeted “Fantastic movie!”
When New Yorker Martin Scorsese took the stage at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall to unveil a work-in-progress screening of his first 3D film Hugo, the standing ovation showed that the filmmaker was dealing with a home-field advantage. Deadline revealed yesterday that the New York Film Festival’s mystery film by a master filmmaker would be Hugo, and the place was packed last night. NYFF’s Richard Pena started the proceedings by asking journalists not to review the film, or tweet while it was playing. Scorsese added his own caveats. He said that the film was not completely color corrected, that some of the visual effects weren’t quite there yet, and that the 3D and music were also not quite complete. I saw the film’s producer Graham King before the screening, and he said while they couldn’t get the film finished in time to be part of the early fall festival hoopla, they came up with this idea as a way not to miss out completely, and the NYFF agreed to it for the first time since Disney came to them with an unfinished print of Beauty and the Beast.
With the exception of a couple of intricate shots, the film looked like it was rounding into shape quite nicely. I won’t review it, but will say it will be a worthy addition to the upcoming awards season.
BREAKING: I can confirm that tonight’s New York Film Festival mystery film is Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, the John Logan-scripted adaptation of the Brian Selznick novel Hugo Cabret. The festival revealed late last week that it would feature a film by a master filmmaker, and speculation covered everything from Clint Eastwood’s J Edgar to Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I’m told that Richard Pena will introduce the picture at Avery Fisher Hall, but I’m not sure if Scorsese will be in the house. The film isn’t quite finished, but it will be shown in 3D, though there might be some green screen moments. Paramount releases Hugo on November 23. Scorsese hasn’t shown an unfinished film like this before (though he did once tell me that The Last Temptation Of Christ qualified as that when Universal rushed it into release because protesters were dragging crosses in front of the houses of studio higher-ups like Sid Sheinberg), and the NYFF hasn’t shown an unfinished print like this since Disney’s Beauty And The Beast in 1991. But it’s a great opportunity to build buzz on the movie, Scorsese’s first family and 3D film.
EXCLUSIVE: FilmDistrict is closing a deal for U.S. distribution rights to Parker, the Taylor Hackford-directed thriller that will star Jason Statham. Production starts in early August. The John J. McLaughlin-scripted film is an adaptation of the Donald E. Westlake novel series, and Statham is playing a character that Mel Gibson played in the Brian Helgeland-directed Payback and Lee Marvin played in the John Boorman-directed Point Blank. Parker is a thief, but one who follows a strict moral code he’ll kill to uphold. The producers are Steven Chasman, Sidney Kimmel, Les Alexander, Jonathan Mitchell and Hackford. The film’s casting up quickly, and the movie was a prominent sales title during the Cannes Film Festival where Sierra/Affinity’s Nick Meyer sold offshore rights and made the domestic deal. Meyer has sold most world territories. Incentive Filmed Entertainment funded the film, and produced with Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Sierra/Infinity. Sierra/Infinity and Incentive Filmed Entertainment previously teamed on Shark Night 3D, a movie that will be released in September.
Angelina Jolie’s much-discussed feature directing debut now has a title and a distributor. Graham King and his GK Films partner Tim Headington, who financed it, have placed it with their FilmDistrict shingle. FilmDistrict CEO Peter Schlessel will slot In The Land Of Blood And Honey, the Bosnia-set drama that Jolie scripted, for a Dec. 23 release in the US. The film is set against the backdrop of the Bosnian War in the 1990s and, according to a statement, “illustrates the consequences of the lack of political will to intervene in a society stricken with conflict. “The film is specific to the Bosnian War, but it’s also universal,” Jolie said in a statement. “I wanted to tell a story of how human relationships and behavior are deeply affected by living inside a war.” Said King: “Working with Angelina on this film and story has been a great collaboration and I am extremely proud of this film. The filmmaking is impeccable, and signals the arrival of a visceral and compelling storyteller.”