#Horror, a scandalous noir thriller that marks the directorial debut of Tara Subkoff, has just been shot. The film stars Chloe Sevigny, Timothy Hutton, Balthazar Getty, Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning, Stella Schnabel, Lydia Hearst and Annabelle Dexter-Jones. It’s produced by Brendan Walsh, Jason Ludman and Oren Segal through Radius Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: Franklin Leonard’s Black List has become a buzzy barometer for promising screenplays, but here’s a genre-centric version of the script service suited for the spooky season. The Blood List names the 13 best unproduced horror, thriller, and sci-fi scripts of the October-to-October calendar year as voted on by more than 100 film execs. This year’s #1 pick: Ink and Bone, Zak Olkewicz’s horror spec about a writer held hostage by his own creations that Dimension snapped up earlier this year. Independent manager/producer Kailey Marsh runs the annual Blood List, which has no affiliation with the more mainstream-leaning Black List but in its fifth year is turning out more and more high-profile alums. 2012 Blood List topper The Disciple Program landed at Universal with Mark Wahlberg attached to star for Morten Tyldum, while Barbara Curry’s 2011 selection The Boy Next Door is in production under the Blumhouse banner with Jennifer Lopez starring.
The 2013 edition was voted on by 108 feature execs, each of whom chose their top three favorite genre screenplays. Seventy-seven of them earned votes, with screenplays requiring a minimum of four votes in order to make the final cut. The 2013 class is announced, as it has been for four years, on Halloween:
(WARNING: STORY CONTAINS SPOILERS) The status of American Horror Story leads Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott and the Golden Globe-nominated Jessica Lange remains in flux in the wake of the FX horror hour’s season one finale last night. But if Britton, McDermott, Lange or supporting player Frances Conroy return to the show for a second campaign, it will be as entirely different characters in a brand new storyline featuring a fully (or at least mostly) new cast. Co-creator and exec producer Ryan Murphy and FX president and GM John Landgraf laid out for reporters during a conference call this morning that Horror Story was packaged from the start as a seasonal anthology. “The (haunted) house is done,” Murphy stressed. “Every season of the show will be a different haunting. That’s always been the plan. Every season of the show will have a beginning, middle and end, and all new characters and setting.” But that doesn’t mean that this year’s performers won’t be back. It’s just that McDermott and Britton won’t be starring as Ben and Vivien Harmon, respectively, nor Lange as creepy neighbor Constance Langdon. It would have been tough to pull that off, anyway, since the Harmons all were dead by the time the season drew to a close.
“We’re still negotiating with a handful (of the cast members) about returning,” Murphy said. “We’re also meeting with new actors whom we’ve targeted roles for. I will say that Connie and Dylan will …
A new, more tightly edited trailer for The Woman In Black doesn’t skimp on the chills in store for Daniel Radcliffe when he travels to an isolated village to settle a deceased client’s affairs. James Watkins directs from a script by Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, The Debt, X-Men: First Class, Stardust) adapted from Susan Hill’s novel. Janet McTeer also stars in the CBS Films release slated to open February 3.
It’s all over but the verdict. Sunday night will bring the Cannes Film Festival to a close with the announcement of winners for the various awards given for the Official Competition of this 64th Cannes affair. And it looks like a wide-open race for the coveted Palme d’Or. No one film seems to have jumped clearly ahead as there is still lots of speculation about whether it could be the Malick (cineaests here refer to the movies by their directors’ last names, not the film title), the Dardennes for the third time, the Kaurismaki, the Winding Refn, the Hazanavicius, the Almodovar or, heaven forbid(!), the von Trier. Or maybe, as so often happens, it will go to the unexpected or something no one is really buzzing about on the Croisette.
Saturday night brought the final two films in the competition. Radu Mihaileanu’s French entry La Source Des Femmes (The Source) was rapturously received at its 7 PM Lumiere premiere with a prolonged standing ovation and much applause even during the film itself. The story, or fable, of a group of women in a small village (somewhere between North Africa and the Middle East) who decide to wage a controversial sex strike unless their men help them fetch the water is entertaining and enlightening and could figure as a last-minute contender (as well as a strong possibility to be France’s entry for the Oscars). I doubt that will be the case for the final film, which premiered at 10:30 PM: Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s two-hour-and-37-minute Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, which I think may still be going on. The longest in 20-film group of contenders feels twice that length, a contemplative minimalist art film with no music and no real plot beyond anything a typical episode of CSI covers in its first five minutes. It is one of those movies fest directors love where people stare a lot, ponder a lot and talk about being bored. At least it provided some much-needed nap time; maybe the jury will give Ceylan a prize for letting them catch up on their sleep. He won an award here in 2008 for the overrated Three Monkeys, so you never know, but Robert De Niro’s jury has a lot better choices than this. Can you tell I am not a fan?
Fright films continue to scare up distribution deals. IFC has acquired North American rights to the Hong Kong slasher film Dream Home. The film, directed by Isabella helmer Pang Ho-Cheung, will be released on the IFC Midnight label. A woman buys her dream home and can’t afford it. Despite stealing at her job, her terminally ill father’s medical expenses are ruining her. She decides to let him die and collect the insurance. When that’s still not enough, she just starts killing people to keep up with the high cost of living in Hong Kong. Release is set for early 2011.
EXCLUSIVE: Francis Ford Coppola has begun quietly directing his next feature. I’m told that Coppola is shooting Twixt Now And Sunrise, a thriller with overtones of horror, and that his star is Val Kilmer. Also in the cast are Elle Fanning (Super 8) and Bruce Dern (who long ago starred in the Coppola-scripted The Great Gatsby). But the picture’s fulcrum is Kilmer, who plays a horror novelist. The film is based on a short story written by Coppola. It is shooting in Napa, on Coppola’s property. Coppola hasn’t tackled the horror genre since early in his career, when he directed Dementia 13, and of course Bram Stoker’s Dracula. And some might consider Apocalypse Now to be horror.
It wouldn’t be Halloween without Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Starting this week, fans of the vamp queen (aka Cassandra Peterson who started out back in 1981 as the hostess of a local Hollywood horror movie show and then became nationally syndicated) can see ELVIRA’S Movie Macabre every Saturday at midnight on KDOC-TV, an independent TV station based in Orange County. The first classic horror movie featured is zombie thriller Night of the Living Dead.
EXCLUSIVE: Guillermo Del Toro Talks About ‘Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark,’ And Lessons Learned Before Leaving ‘The Hobbit’
He’s a geek god when he walks the halls of Comic-Con. But Guillermo del Toro just told me he feels the phalanx of print and web media at the festival gave short shrift to the reaction of footage that he, producer Mark Johnson and director Troy Nixey presented for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. On Friday, they showed the Comic-Con crowd a chilling eight-minute prologue (think Marathon Man) and a trailer that gave a glimpse of the creatures that haunt a family in the remake of the classic 1973 telepic. It was his second Comic-Con panel, after he announced he’d scared up a writing and producing gig for the movie version of Disney’s Haunted Mansion theme park attraction.
“Haunted Mansion must have had them thinking, well that’s the big movie for this guy, but I’m telling you the most successful panel I was on was Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, where we had a house at full capacity, with 6000 asses levitated by both pieces of footage,” del Toro told me. The remake—which stars Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce—shapes up as a potential sleeper when Disney releases in January. That’s a satisfying outcome for del Toro after a twisty road which began because he was such a fan of the original, made during a golden age of horror offerings from ABC that included Trilogy of Terror and Bad Ronald. Del Toro set it up with Bob …
Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con for Deadline:
Lionsgate had their SAW VII event off-site –a cocktail party where drinks were named after the killer Jigsaw and the returning Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes), and then footage in 3D was screened across the street. Producers Mark Burg and Oren Koules are introduced, alongside director Kevin Greutert and star Tobin Bell. They announce that this will be the final film in the series. (Really? Because I thought Part 3 was supposed to be. Guess that means if this does well, the next one will be a reboot/remake). And here’s the Editor In Chief of the Guinness Book of Records, back again, to present SAW with a plaque for “most successful horror franchise of all time”. He notes that SAW III holds the record for highest grossing Halloween-timed movie also.
Seth Grahame-Smith On ‘Dark Shadows’ As Tim Burton Pic Gets Closer To Start Date With Johnny Depp As Vampire Barnabas
EXCLUSIVE: Seth Grahame-Smith, who made his Hollywood entry writing novels that put a macabre twist to literary classics and historical figures, has just snagged the high profile job of writing the new draft of Dark Shadows. The Tim Burton-directed adaptation of the 60s daytime serial will star Johnny Depp as the vampire Barnabas Collins. The film is slated to begin production in January at Warner Bros. Depp’s Infinitum Nihil and Graham King’s GK Films are producing.
Warner Bros has been trying for several years to get to the starting line on the movie adaptation of the TV series that ran on ABC from 1966-71 and had legions of fans frightened by the moody and atmospheric storyline. (Tim Burton May Push Back ‘Dark Shadows’ Start Date) Barnabas Collins (played by Jonathan Frid) was the central figure in the groundbreaking supernatural soap. As for Tim Burton’s version, John August was the first writer hired to script the project, based on the Dan Curtis-created characters. Grahame-Smith will be writing a new take under Burton. He got the job on the basis of his own bestselling novel, Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Burton and Timur Bekmambetov bought that project out of their own money as producers, and I hear that Bekmambetov is likely to make the film his next directing effort….
‘ECLIPSE’ KEEPS BREAKING RECORDS: Twilight Saga Threequel Sets Best Ever Wednesday Opening Of $68.5M; Thursday $24.2M; Six-Day July Fourth Holiday Estimated At $178M; Twi-Hards Mob Theaters In U.S., Canada, Overseas
10TH UPDATE, THURSDAY 11 PM: No. 1 at the North American box office was the Twilight Saga: Eclipse with what looks like $24.2M today for a new cume of $92.8M and $110M for 5 days with a total of $178M for the 6-day July Fouth Holiday since Wednesday. That would put the pic just shy of Spider-Man 2 which holds the July 4th holiday record with $180M.
9TH UPDATE, THURSDAY 3:30 PM: Summit Entertainment is disclosing that THE TWILIGHT SAGA: Eclipse had “an incredible start” internationally. Despite great weather and the World Cup, Eclipse launched with an estimated $19M from 22 markets. The only major territories that opened on June 30th were Italy, Brazil, and Russia. Other majors like Spain, Australia and Mexico launch today. France, Germany, S. Korea and Japan will launch in the weeks to come. Here are some highlights of opening day results: Eclipse Kicks Off Big International Run
8TH UPDATE, THURSDAY 8 AM: I can report now that the 3rd film in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga series of novels is off to a record-breaking start at the North American box office. Summit Entertainment’s ECLIPSE opened to $68.5 million today which shattered the best-ever $62 million for a Wednesday single day opening set last summer by Paramount’s Transformers 2. That $68.5M included Eclipse‘s record-setting $30M from Wednesday 12:01 AM and 3 AM showings at more than 4,000 theaters in the U.S. and Canada. Eclipse also registered the biggest single day opening during the summer play period, besting The Dark Knight‘s $67.2M. But the Twilight saga’s 2nd film, New Moon, still holds the largest single day opening record of $72 million. Eclipse is playing in 4,416 domestic locations, which sets another record for the biggest ever release in Hollywood history, surpassing Iron Man 2‘s 4,380 venues.
Stay tuned for the David Slade-directed Eclipse starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner from Melissa Rosenberg’s script to set more records over this 6-day July 4th holiday weekend. I’ve learned that 57% of the audience attending opening day did so because of the “subject matter”, while 36% did so because of the actor in the lead role, and 15% because of the actress in the lead role. Eclipse received a Cinemascore overall grade of “A” with 92% of moviegoers giving the pic an A or B.
The Vincenzo Natali-directed Splice opens this weekend with the distinction of being arguably the biggest acquisition to ever emerge from the Sundance Film Festival, based on Dark Castle’s $35 million P&A commitment.
No matter how much business the horror film scares up, it is worth looking back at a quest for domestic distribution that overcame cease and desist letters from Fox lawyers worried about the genetically-manufactured creature’s similarity to the Na’vi creatures of Avatar, and then survived nearly being dumped into a SciFi Channel premiere. Instead, Warner Bros just opened it on 2450 screens.
The track toward production began after Guillermo del Toro, Don Murphy and Susan Montford cornered Natali at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. They’d been fans of his no-budget film Cube, told him they would godfather Natali’s next scripted horror effort, and walked away with the Frankenstein-esque script Splice, and they set off to find distribution. It looked like Fox Atomic was going to finance the film right away. Not only didn’t the filmmakers get a deal, they received the stern cease and desist letter from Fox legal affairs exec Robert Cohen. Deadline got a copy of the missive.
“You can…imagine our dismay when we saw the design for the Dren character in Splice, which is substantially similar to the alien creatures in Avatar and learned that Todd Cherniawsky, a member of the Splice design team, has knowledge of the Avatar designs …
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve been told that one of the broadcaster’s upcoming projects is The Kill List, a horror film about a group of demobbed soldiers turned contract killers who run up against a devil-worshipping coven. It sounds like a schlocky pitch but director Ben Wheatley plans to shoot it in the British social realism tradition of Ken Loach. Producer Warp X is expected to start filming this summer.
Magnolia will release Wheatley’s feature debut Down Terrace in the USA this August. Metrodome, the UK distributor, is planning a simultaneous theatrical and DVD release in August too. The film, which is pitched as “Mike Leigh directing The Sopranos”, has just won the Grand Jury Prize at the Boston Film Festival. It has also won Best Film at Raindance, the Raindance Award at the Bifas and Best Picture and Best Screenplay at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas.
Wheatley went out and shot Down Terrace in eight days on a budget of £20,000 ($30,000). The film follows the disintegration of a family of small time drug dealers. Wheatley’s thinking was to write as bleak a screenplay as possible and then cast it with comedians from Brit TV comedy shows including Spaced, The Office and Extras. He figured that the UK Film Council was not going to fund yet another Brit gangster film – even though what he had in mind was very different to a Guy Ritchie movie (“You fugging Muppet”, etc). Magnolia’s …
EXCLUSIVE: Bryan Bertino, who wrote and directed the Rogue Pictures sleeper hit The Strangers, has found a new haunt. He has made a deal with Ghost House Pictures to write and direct This Man, a thriller that has a clever fact-based hook. The protagonist is an ordinary man who discovers that people he has never met have somehow seen him in their nightmares. Ghost House has acquired rights to a website that was created by Italian sociologist Andrea Natella to connect those who saw the actual man in their dreams.
Bertino’s The Strangers grossed $82 million worldwide and he wrote a sequel that Lauren Briet will direct. Bertino and his Unbroken Pictures partner Adrienne Biddle will produce This Man with Ghost House principals Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert. Ghost House’s Nathan Kahane will be executive producer.
Ghost House confirmed the deal with Raimi calling the film “a hair raising story that will be sure to delight horror fans.” The genre shingle last released the Raimi-directed thriller Drag Me to Hell.
EXCLUSIVE: Examples of tiny self-financed movies getting picked up are rare indeed. Normally, such pics disappear without a trace. But Optimum, the UK distribution arm of Studio Canal, is set to acquire this low-budget horror movie, titled F, and plans to release the shocker this autumn. The film’s pitched as “Assault On Precinct 13 set in a school”. Producers Paul Blacknell and Ernest Riera raised the sub-£1 million budget themselves through private City investors. Director Johannes Roberts is represented by Independent Talent. Their joint Black Robe production company plans to develop a slate of UK films budgeted between £500,000 and £10 million over the next five years.
But my question is this: Will billionaire Haim Saban now help partner Lionsgate fend off Carl Icahn? Anyway, Saban gets offered a ton of deals, and does very few, so this must be something special. Lionsgate and private equity firm Saban Capital Group today announced they’ve formed an equal joint venture to operate and manage Tiger Gate, an operator of pay television channels and a distributor of television programming and action and horror films across Asia. The equal partnership will grow branded Asian thriller and horror and action channels. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Established by Lionsgate in partnership with William Pfeiffer and Paul Presburger in 2008, Tiger Gate currently operates the thriller/horror channel THRILL and the action channel KIX. The channels, which launched in Indonesia in August 2009, will launch in Hong Kong and Singapore on April 28th. “Going forward, the Lionsgate/Saban joint venture will focus on expanding and strengthening Tiger Gate’s presence in Asia, as the two channels continue to rollout to other major markets in Asia. In addition to Indonesia, Hong Kong and Singapore, Tiger Gate also plans to expand their offerings to Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei in the coming year. Plans for China, India, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and the Middle East are also being discussed for the near future. The partners intend to leverage Tiger Gate as a platform to expand throughout Asia by …
MONDAY AM: Sony pickup District 9 hit $100M domestic Sunday, the 5th Wingnut Film production in a row from Peter Jackson’s company to do that. It also opened #1 in the UK this weekend. And, on Saturday, Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen, passed $400M domestic.
Labor Day weekend is traditionally a slow moviegoing holiday. So Friday’s and Saturday’s numbers were only so-so. But Warner Bros’ horror holdover The Final Destination 3-D ended the weekend a clear winner with $3.57M (-67%) Friday and $4.4M Saturday from 3,121 theaters. It’s 3-day weekend was $12.3M, and its 4-day holiday was $15.4M for a new cume of $50.5M. On Friday, it narowly edged out Fox’s romantic comedy All About Steve which opened to $3.50M Friday, and $3.9M Saturday in 2,251 venues. The Sandra Bullock (she also produced) and Bradley Cooper laffer did better than expected because it had one of the lowest Rotten Tomatoes scores I’ve ever seen: 6% positive reviews. It also had the bigger per screen average. But the pic couldn’t begin to match those actors’ big summer hits (The Proposal, The Hangover) as the season comes to a close. But by today, All About Steve fell to No. 3 behind Quentin Tarantino’s holdover Inglourious Basterds from The Weinstein Company and Universal which moved up to No. 2. All About Steve ended up with $11.2M for the 3-day weekend and $13.9M for the 4-day …