Harvey Weinstein was a late addition to the official program of the Zurich International Film Festival which kicked off September 26th. He took part in the Masters series – and did not disappoint. He said Saturday that this year’s Oscars race is “the most competitive season …
Iran Reopens Its Film Industry Body After 20 Months
Iran has reopened the House of Cinema, its main film industry guild. The move comes nearly two years after it was closed, the BBC reported, citing state news agency Irna. Per the report, Deputy Culture Minister Hojatollah Ayoubi said the decision indicates new President Hassan Rouhani’s support for films. The January 2012 closure of the body was decried by prominent filmmakers, including Oscar nominee Asghar Farhadi (A Separation). At a reopening ceremony, Ayoubi reportedly said, “When a cultural issue — like the one about the House of Cinema — becomes a political one, that is (because) the situation was not managed properly.”
Toronto: Weinstein’s Premiere Marathon Delivers Huge Reaction For Oscar-Bait ‘August: Osage County’ – But Will It Divide Audiences?
Just call it Weinstein Premiere-O-Rama. The company launched four movies with splashy galas at the Toronto International Film Festival in the span of 48 hours (is this some sort of weird record?). That included Saturday night’s Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom World Premiere, Sunday’s North American launch of Philomena and last night’s World Premieres of August: Osage County and One Chance directly against each other. When I saw Harvey Weinstein at the combined Soho House after-party for the Monday films I told him he obviously loves Toronto. He was moving fast between his movies showing up everywhere, including on stage for August before it began. ”Everything came together and we just thought this would be the perfect way to get these films out there,” he said clearly beaming at the reaction.
All the films won standing ovations, not uncommon in movie-friendly Toronto (people like getting up on their feet here) but even by those standards the raucous, prolonged standing O for August: Osage County was definitely the most enthusiastic I have encountered at this year’s fest. And the John Wells-directed movie adaptation of actor/writer Tracy Letts’ Tony-winning Midwestern-set Broadway play about a dysfunctional family to end all dysfunctional families played like gangbusters with much audible reaction throughout. Star Meryl Streep was a last-minute cancellation due to illness and co-producer George Clooney (with Grant Heslov) didn’t make the trek to Canada for this film or Gravity in which he co-stars with Sandra Bullock since he was back in L.A. still working on posting his latest directorial gig, Monuments Men as well as shooting Disney’s Tomorrowland. But most of the cast was there including Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper, Julianne Nicholson, Abigail Breslin, Dermot Mulroney and Julia Roberts, clearly the belle of this ball. When I spoke with her afterwards she was definitely on cloud nine over the reaction the film received and obviously excited to be working with this cast and opposite Streep who manages to do the impossible and tops Streep as the bitterly funny, bitingly caustic mother who lets it rip, particularly in the film’s (and the play’s ) signature dinner scene. Roberts is also at her best and both should be major Oscar contenders in the impossibly crowded lead actress category. This would make nomination #18 for Streep. Could anyone ever top her own record?
Not everything goes smoothly, even at as efficiently organized an event as the Toronto International Film Festival. After this afternoon’s 3 PM press screening for Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom had to be cancelled when the film went down 40 minutes in, all eyes were on the 6 PM premiere at Roy Thomson Hall hoping another calamity would not follow and jinx the movie. No problems there and the press screening was rescheduled for 10:15 PM Saturday night. Still that’s a drag for critics who would now just have to start over. This is why publicists chew their fingernails off.
Nevertheless, the actual premiere screening went off without a hitch and earned a nice standing ovation at the end of the two-and-a-half hour biopic of Nelson Mandela. The filmmakers literally flew into Toronto just yesterday saying they hadn’t even seen this cut yet. Boasting another two performances to add to the list of Oscar-contending portrayals this year – Idris Elba as Mandela and Naomie Harris as his wife Winnie – this beautifully shot and realized epic takes us into the world of Mandela from 1942 at the beginning of his activism all the way to his election as president after being released from his Robben Island prison cell after 27 years. It is those prison scenes where the film really comes alive and Elba gets a chance to shine. That he does, in a towering portrayal of the man who stays in the headlines lately because of his frail health (he just went home from the hospital this week).
Sixty-plus years after The Catcher In The Rye began the public’s fascination with enigmatic author J.D. Salinger, a new documentary and book are ready to spill some secrets about him. Just keep them to yourselves, please. The …
EXCLUSIVE: Martin Scorsese is lending his support to the upcoming Weinstein Company release of The Grandmaster, the film directed by Wong Kar Wai. Scorsese will lend his name in presentation of the kung fu film, and above the line it will read Martin Scorsese Presents The Grandmaster when TWC releases the film theatrically in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto on August 23 and nationwide on August 30. Wong has directed such films as Chungking Express, 2046 and My Blueberry Nights, and The Grandmaster stars Tony Leung, Ziyi Zhang, and Chang Chen and is executive produced by Annapurna Pictures’ Megan Ellison. The film opened the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year. “Wong Kar Wai has turned martial arts into a modern dance,” Scorsese said.
UPDATED: The Weinstein Co. and Electus‘ Marco Polo series is on the move. I’ve learned that Netflix has made an offer for a 9-episode order to the original drama about the 13th century explorer. According to sources close to the negotiations, there is no deal in place yet because Harvey Weinstein also is considering a feature version of the project, which is fully financed, and is deciding between the two options. Marco Polo originally was set up at Starz, which gave it a 10-episode straight-to-series order in January 2012. The series was supposed to film in China, something no other U.S. show has done, which proved a complex and difficult proposition. I hear the potential series will film in Malaysia. Seven scripts already have been written, with casting on track to begin right away for a production start in the first quarter. The Weinstein Co. and Electus took out the project after it was released to them by Starz, the pay cable network confirmed.With the delays caused by the efforts to film in China, Starz has built a full slate for 2014 with 50 hours of original programming, making it difficult to find space for another series.
UPDATE: No Miramax-Weinstein Merger; Miramax Revving TV/Film Production: Joint Ventures Planned With Starz, Weinsteins, Others; ‘Copland’ Reboot As Starz TV Show
UPDATE SATURDAY 2:30 AM: Ignore those media stories claiming Miramax and The Weinstein Co are in talks for a potential merger. Even while on vacation I can tell you definitively they’re overblown. I’ve learned a merger is impossible because of The Weinstein Co‘s structure. As I first reported Friday, what is true is that Colony Capital/Miramax chief Tom Barrack and Harvey Weinstein just spent time in St Tropez conferring about ways to work together because of lots of joint venture opportunities. Such co-productions would give Harvey access to his most coveted projects from his Miramax heyday which is why he wanted to buy it back from Disney in 2010. The Weinstein Co and others are courting Miramax because its cash flow will exceed $160 million this year. “So all of the production groups would like to plug into this free cash flow with their development pipeline,” my insider said Friday.
EXCLUSIVE … FRIDAY 1 PM: Hollywood needs more production and financing right now. So the good news is that Miramax is about to become a movie/TV player ”big time” under Colony Capital chief Tom Barrack’s direct oversight following Richard Nanula’s exit. “There will be some big announcements in the next 60 days of productions and joint ventures,” one of my sources says. I’ve learned that first up is this project: Miramax and Starz have agreed to develop and cofinance a one-hour TV series based on the critically well-received 1997 Miramax film Copland. The pic’s scripter-director James Mangold is executive producing the TV show with Cathy Konrad and Adam Fields. Mangold and Bryan Goluboff (The Basketball Diaries, 2008′s In Treatment) are writing the pilot.
Last month the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences took great strides in order to bring more diversity to its membership. Now will that effort affect the actual Oscar race itself? Certainly this year distributors, particularly The Weinstein Company and Fox Searchlight, are going to be giving the Academy every opportunity to put some diversity into that race, especially in terms of a major African- American presence. Beginning with this Friday’s platformed Weinstein release of the widely acclaimed Sundance and Cannes award winner, Fruitvale Station there is a highly promising lineup of films that seriously depict the Black experience to be released in the second half of 2013. And I am not talking about Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas.
This group of movies, which also includes the increasingly-controversial The Butler (8/16- Weinstein), 12 Years A Slave (10/18- Searchlight), Mandela: A Long Walk To Freedom (11/29 – Weinstein), Black Nativity (11/27 – Searchlight), Blue Caprice starring Isaiah Washington (IFC – 9/13), the recently -released documentary Twenty Feet From Stardom (Radius-TWC) and (far less likely) even the long-delayed Winnie Mandela (Image Entertainment) starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard now being released in September, provide a bountiful opportunity to let the Academy show off its new spirit of diversity, not that they have been completely dormant in that area in recent years. Of course 2012′s Beasts Of The Southern Wild made the most recent Best Picture cut and won its 9 year old star Quvenzhane Wallis a Best Actress nomination. And Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar winning Original Screenplay for another 2012 Best Pic nominee, Django Unchained had a unique take on slavery. Two years ago the box office success of The Help propelled it towards a Best Picture nomination and acting nods for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, the latter winning for Best Supporting Actress. And just four years ago Precious won a couple of key Oscars for Supporting Actress Monique and screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher as well as Best Picture and Directing (for Lee Daniels) nominations.
UPDATE, 9:04 AM: CBS This Morning‘s hosts read part of Warner Bros‘ statement on the air but not all of it. Here it is in full:
EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: Signing an exclusive first look deal with The Weinstein Company, Cary Woods is making his way back. Back to the features game, back with Harvey Weinstein, and back from a near death experience that took almost two years of recovery. In the 1990s, Woods was a charming dealmaker with relentless optimism who was one of the producers on Godzilla (the disappointing 1998 version), and who launched a lot of new talent with Weinstein at Disney-owned Miramax. His films there included launching the Wes Craven-directed and Kevin Williamson-scripted Scream franchise, the Larry Clark-directed Harmony Korine-scripted Kids, Korine’s directing debut Gummo, Doug Liman’s Swingers, James Mangold’s Cop Land and Alexander Payne’s Citizen Ruth. They fell out over a deal extension that was as bruising as feuds with Weinstein tended to be back then. Woods calls that water under the bridge. It’s understandable he would be more zen about life; he considers himself lucky to be alive after getting hit by a truck and taking about two years to find his way back.
Woods suffered the trauma when he was in London for his son’s sixth birthday party in late 2010. The 60 broken bones and shattered face wasn’t the worst part; he lapsed into a coma and was given a 30% chance to survive, he told me. Murderball helmer Henry Alex Rubin, whom Woods hired as a 19-year old PA on Cop Land, was invited to the party because he was shooting a commercial nearby. “He called my best friend, who is my ex-wife, who flew there immediately,” Woods said. “They told her I had 30% chance to live and that I was going to be out of it for about two years. And it turned out to be close to that. My ex let me hole up in her home, where I slept 18 hours a day.”
Would you pay €1.5 million ($1.94 million) to spend a weekend at Oscar parties? Or €1.8 million to fly to the moon on Virgin Galactic with Leonardo DiCaprio? Someone did — and more. That happened at amFAR’s annual Cinema Against AIDS Cannes Film Festival gala’s very special 20th anniversary Thursday night. Co-hosts Weinstein and Kenneth Cole announced to a roomful of very high rollers that the event, held of the Hotel Du Cap, raised €25 million ($32.3 million), smashing last year’s record total of over €10 million. The ultra-high style party is a two decades long staple of the Cannes festival, and Weinstein told me if it just made a dollar more than the previous year they’d be happy. But these multimillionaires and billionaires obviously came to play this year and really stepped up at the auction that featured numerous stars including jury members Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz, along with Jessica Chastain, Jeremy Renner, Rosario Dawson, Heidi Klum, Goldie Hawn, Janet Jackson, Adrien Brody and major fundraiser/auctioneer Sharon Stone.
Hammond On Cannes: Elizabeth Taylor’s Memory Lives On At Festival As ‘Cleopatra’ Premieres And AIDS Event Hits 20th Anniversary
There are lots of stars in Cannes this year but I don’t think any of them are shining brighter at the festival than one who is no longer with us. Elizabeth Taylor may have died over two years ago at the age of 79 but she lives on, not only on the big and small screens where her many films still play, but also for all the amazing charitable work she did in her lifetime, particularly her fight against AIDS. Tomorrow night amFAR will certainly be remembering her at the 20th anniversary of Cinema Against AIDS, the signature event set during the Cannes Festival she helped start. And Tuesday night 20th Century Fox World Premiered its meticulous 2K digital restoration (it took nine months to complete) of the 1963 film, Cleopatra, infamous for the torrid off-screen love affair between its stars Taylor and Richard Burton.
On the occasion of its 50th anniversary the studio pulled out all the stops with a black tie premiere of the four-hour movie (that ironically almost bankrupted the studio), followed by a lavish party sponsored by Bulgari, the jeweler who supplied Taylor with so many of the baubles she was famous for collecting. In fact, as you entered the party on the J.W. Marriott rooftop it was hard to avoid them displayed in special glass cabinets. Included was the platinum and emerald necklace her co-star Burton gave her for their engagement in 1962. Host (and Bulgari spokesperson) Jessica Chastain actually wore it to introduce the film before taking it off and giving it back to Bulgari. She is the only person to have worn it other than Liz on her wedding day (or one of her wedding days). Also Fox brought in several original Cleopatra costumes. Fox Chairman Jim Gianopulos was there to help intro the film and told me later that the financial toll the film took on the studio has been overblown. “It turned a profit after three years,” he says although the movie’s cost was astronomical and ran off the rails. I asked Fox President of Post-Production Ted Gagliano about the story that director Joseph Mankiewicz actually had a six-hour cut and that two never-before seen hours of the film are somewhere in the Fox vaults. He says he has heard this as well but thinks it’s another in the long line of Cleopatra myths since they searched high and low and found nothing. One of the guests at the premiere, director and film nerd Alexander Payne told me after seeing the film again he wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn there was an even longer cut. “But who really needs to see a six-hour version?” he asked. Both Payne and his guest Laura Dern (whose father Bruce Dern stars in Payne’s Cannes entry, Nebraska, which premieres here Thursday) said they loved seeing the film in all its restored glory.
An esteemed party, led by Costa Gavras, Michel Hazanavicius and The Weinstein Company co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, crashed a parlay at the Palais on “Strengthening The Cultural Exception In Tomorrow’s Europe”, where MPAA head Chris Dodd was among the policy-maker panelists today. Weinstein spoke on an issue that currently has European filmmakers fighting to preserve the autonomy of their individual film industries. The U.S. and the European Union will enter trade talks later this year which could result in the removal of trade barriers between the world’s two biggest economies. But included in the draft negotiation mandate for the talks are the audiovisual and film industries. Filmmakers want the arts excluded. Hazanavicius said, “Our fear is if they kill our regulatory system, it will crush us.”
Weinstein recalled that when preserving the cultural imperative wasn’t as important in Italy, filmmakers there began turning out clones of American movies, which they felt they needed to do to compete. “We never bought any of those films,” Weinstein said. Costa Gavras and Hazanavicius also showed their support and then the whole crashing party was gone.
Earlier, as they made their way to the Palais, the filmmakers explained the stakes to Deadline. Costa Gavras said, “The big risk is having the same movies in all of these places. That is our concern.” Culture and the production of culture shouldn’t be treated “like any industry, like cars. This is different.” Each state should “have the possibility to decide how to deal with its cinema and its art.”
Filmmakers believe the European Commission’s inclusion of the audiovisual and film industries in the proposed trade talks flies in the face of the Cultural Exception. That concept has its roots in 1993 when Hollywood tried to make the arts a part of the GATT negotiations. Europe, led by France, balked at what they saw as a threat to their subsidy systems, putting them in danger of total Hollywood hegemony. Europe prevailed. But tensions are running high once again. The past month has seen a petition circulated entitled “The Cultural Exception Is Non-Negotiable!” which now has 5,000 signatories including Costa Gavras and Hazanavicius, and a lot of non-European directors, too (Walter Salles, Jane Campion, David Lynch…).
The sun finally came back to a windy and rainy Cannes but the weather clearly couldn’t slow the nonstop parties, premieres, deals and hype for which this festival is famous. And despite the rain on Saturday the turnout for Lionsgate’s big Catching Fire bash was wall-to-wall at Baoli Beach, with everyone including star Jennifer Lawrence crowded into the large tent. One exec there actually was happy with the monsoon-like conditions. “The rain probably kept 30% of our RSVPs away which is probably good because i don’t know how we could have squeezed them in,” he said.
With everyone drying out Sunday there seemed to be even more party-hopping than usual. At the crowded Participant Films party at the Carlton, Focus Features CEO James Schamus was accepting congratulations on his re-upping at the company. I have rarely heard him wax more eloquently about a film than Focus’ recent pickup of The Dallas Buyers Club, the movie where Matthew McConaughey lost about 50 pounds to play an early AIDS victim. It’s not dated yet according to Schamus but is planned for fall sometime. “It’s just a bloodbath trying to pick the right date in that period but this movie is extraordinary. I just so admire what Matthew has been doing with his career in the last couple of years between Magic Mike, Killer Joe, The Paperboy, Mud and now this. You know me, I don’t rave like this a lot, but he really knocks this one out of the park. It is the performance of a lifetime,” he says of the actor in a film that is sure to be a main focus of Focus’ awards-season plans.