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Jonathan Stokes To Script Harlan Coben’s ‘Six Years’ For Paramount, Hugh Jackman

Mike Fleming

sixEXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures has set Jonathan W. Stokes to adapt Six Years, the Harlan Coben novel that was bought by the studio early this year as a potential star vehicle for Hugh Jackman. Mark Gordon is producing. The logline: a man watches his life love marry another man. The groom dies six years later and the guy can’t help but try to glimpse the widow at the funeral. She’s not the same woman. The book was published last March and became another bestseller for Coben, whose Tell No One was turned into the Guillaume Canet French film, with remake rights at Warner Bros where Argo scribe Chris Terrio is writing it.

Stokes wrote three scripts that made the Black List. They are Blood Mountain, which is being financed independently by Derby Street Films and Movie Package Co. with Lawrence Bender producing and Sergei Bodrov attached to direct, and Stokes executive producing; Murders & Acquisitions, which is set up at Warner Bros. with Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg producing; and Border Country. He recently scored a three-book deal, up starting with the debut novel Addison Cooke And The Treasure Of The Incas. for Penguin imprint Philomel Books. Stokes, who also scripted El Gringo, is repped by UTA, Management SGC and attorney Gregg Gellman.

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The Contenders 2013: ‘Prisoners’ Screenwriter Asks “How Did I Become So Warped To Give Birth To This Story?” (Video)

Pete Hammond

With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, it may also be time to reflect on what is easily one of the most harrowing movies of the year, Prisoners. The film, which starts out at a Thanksgiving day celebration that turns tragic when two young girls from different families are snatched in broad daylight, was a blacklisted script by Aaron Guzikowski that the writer says was meant more to focus on those who feel the loss rather than the actual act itself. Alcon produced the film which launched at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals and for which director Denis Villeneuve and stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Melissa Leo are getting plenty of Oscar buzz. There’s also buzz for the original screenplay by Guzikowski who explores what dark recesses of his mind led to the film’s birth during the Warner Bros panel at Deadline’s THE CONTENDERS event earlier this month.

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James Mangold, Hugh Jackman Sinking Claws Into Another ‘The Wolverine’ Film

By | Tuesday November 5, 2013 @ 6:24am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Twentieth Century Fox has begun negotiations with James Mangold to return for another installment of The Wolverine, with Hugh Jackman bringing back his signature character with the razor sharp adamantium hooks. This comes after The Wolverine played very strongly overseas, enough to now sit as the second highest grossing X-Men film of all time. The film has grossed $413 million worldwide, with $132 million domestic and $280 million in international revenue.

RELATEDComic-Con: Q&A With ‘The Wolverine’ Director James Mangold

Here’s where it is right now. Mangold is making a deal to write the treatment, with X-Men franchise matriarch Lauren Shuler Donner producing. The storyline is being kept under tight wraps. I think Mangold did a bang up job on his first superhero film. When I met him at Comic-Con San Diego, he said he tried to veer from the usual superhero formula–if hero doesn’t succeed, world is doomed–and instead make it a character-driven storyline. There were plenty of action pieces, samurai swordplay and reasons for Logan to work up that famous temper, but at its core the film worked because the stakes were subtler and the storytelling somehow more intimate. Mangold is repped by WME and Management 360, Jackman by WME.

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Hugh Jackman Brings In $1.85 Million In Major Saturday Night Dolby Theatre Benefit For MPTF

By | Sunday October 13, 2013 @ 2:12am PDT
Pete Hammond

Hugh Jackman proved Wolverine has the stuff as his “One Night Only” concert at the Dolby Theatre raised $1.85 million dollars for the Motion Picture & Television Fund Saturday night in Hollywood. Each year the MPTF has produced a musical evening saluting the best of Broadway shows turned into movies, but this year 20th Century Fox Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos decided to shake it up and ask frequent host Jackman to stage his hit Broadway one-man show as a benefit for the fund. To say it was a hit is an understatement. Many in the audience had flown in from as far away as Sydney, Australia  for the opportunity of seeing Jackman (who is also again a Best Actor Oscar contender this year for his wrenching role in Prisoners) perform his act and it also drew a major Hollywood contingent including stars like Tom Cruise and studio heads such as MPTF topper Jeffrey Katzenberg and Universal’s Donna Langley who watched her Les Miserables star perform a song from that film to a standing ovation.

Among other highlights Jackman reprised his Tony winning performance in a medley of Peter Allen songs from The Boy From Oz. He also performed numbers from Guys And Dolls  and Carousel, both iconic musicals he had been … Read More »

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Hugh Jackman Joins Neill Blomkamp’s Sci-Fi ‘Chappie’

By | Sunday September 29, 2013 @ 5:00pm PDT

Hugh Jackman is joining the cast of Chappie, from District 9 and Elysium helmer Neill Blomkamp. He’s attached to play the rival of Dev Patel’s character in the South Africa-set sci-fi pic about an android cop (mo-capped by Sharlto Copley) who’s kidnapped by gangsters (Yo-Landi Visser and Ninja of the rap duo Die Antwoord). Sony and MRC are co-producing the pic.

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‘Prisoners’ Breaks Out For #1 With $21.4M; ‘Battle Of The Year’ #5 For Bleak $4.1M

By | Sunday September 22, 2013 @ 1:13am PDT

SUNDAY 1 AM, 4TH UPDATE: With the 65th Emmys broadcasting this weekend, Hollywood is only talking television, television, television. Yes, I’ll be interrupting my vacation and live-snarking the small screen awards starting Sunday at 5:00 PM PT. But only because the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences was hoping I wouldn’t. As for the big screen, total moviegoing should be only $75M, or -9% from last year. Both Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal plugged, plugged, plugged Prisoners (playing in 3,260 theaters) to a $7M opening Friday and then up +28% to $9M Saturday for a decent $21.4M domestic weekend. Their pairing didn’t produce the hype that Christian Bale or Leonardo DiCaprio might have as originally planned. But Jackman and Gyllenhaal did their jobs to open this R-rated Alcon Entertainment developed, financed, and produced dark kidnapping thriller distributed by Warner Bros to a $20+M debut like stars should. (Who was the bigger draw? Definitely Hugh… Jake usually can’t open an envelope.) Prisoners is the 2nd biggest three-day opening for Alcon founders Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove behind Blind Side‘s $34.1M.

With a ‘B+’ CinemaScore despite a longish 2 hour, 26 minute running time, pic had a lean budget of $46M and a stellar supporting cast (Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo). During a slow September, this adult drama directed by Denis Villeneuve (Foreign Language Oscar nominee Incendies) and written by Aaron Guzikowski (whose script wound up on Hollywood’s prestigious Black List) could have legs here and overseas. The marketing strategy was “to sell a visceral, taut, beautifully made thriller with powerhouse performances that asks the question, ‘What would you do if this happened to you?’” Warner Bros Pictures’ Worldwide Marketing President Sue Kroll tells me. The film emerged with great buzz from the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals from cinefile and mainstream media. (EW critic Owen Gleiberman ranked it with classic vengeance films Straw DogsDeath Wish, and Kill Bill.)

This weekend’s new underperformer is Sony Pictures’ Screen Gems 3D teen dance pic Battle Of The Year (released into a middling run of 2,009 theaters) which dropped from #4 to #5. Inspired by director Benson Lee’s award-winning documentary Planet B-Boy, and co-written by Brin Hill (Won’t Back Down), pic stars Josh Holloway (Lost) and Grammy bad boy Chris Brown, it’s obviously a tired genre despite a fresh ‘A-’ CinemaScore from audiences. So Friday’s $1.4M and Saturday’s $2.0M (+45%) for the $4.6M weekend is half what the studio was forecasting for pic’s $20M-range cost. Media campaign was designed around television especially to target young females, clubbers, and urban audiences. Integrations and takeovers included Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance where dancers from the film performed on-air during the show’s finale, and BET’S 106 & Park where the winner of a national dance contest performed during a special BOTY cast show. Online and social media included Tumblr, VEVO, Buzznet, Instagram, Vine and hip hop sites.

No updated numbers yet for the following: The Wizard Of Oz: IMAX 3D, whose pre-sales big online ticketseller Fandango proclaimed were “looking great and powerful” in limited release. The PG upgrade of the 1939 classic released into 318 theaters and made $750K Friday and is targeting $2.8M this weekend. Platforming in 5 theaters this weekend is Universal/Imagine’s Ron Howard’s Formula One critical darling Rush starring Chris Hemsworth, for $66K Friday and a $223K weekend. Pic opens wider on September 27th when I’ll post a full report and see if car racing pics are cursed at the box office. Fox Searchlight’s James Gandolfini-Julia Louis-Dreyfus comedy written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, Enough Said, opened Wednesday in 4 runs. With $62K Friday and a $210 weekend, one of the final movies from The Sopranos star has a cume of $263K.

Here’s the partial Top Ten list based on weekend estimates:
Read More »

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Telluride: Surprise ‘Prisoners’ Rocks The Fest And Becomes Instant Oscar Contender

Pete Hammond

Hyperbole at film festivals is to be expected, BUT even with direct competition from Brad Pitt and the Coen brothers, the reaction to the first public screening Friday night anywhere of director Denis Villenueve’s thrilling and penetrating drama Prisoners at the 40th Telluride Film Festival was completely unexpected and significant. This was a “surprise” screening (although I predicted it) and filled the 650-seat Herzog Theatre. For weeks some I spoke to thought on the basis of the trailer and more mainstream elements of the film that it was probably an unworthy commercial film that somehow snuck into the more tony environ of Telluride. Uh, no. This is a first-class motion picture experience unlike any other that I, for one, have experienced in a long time. But it’s not an easy sell.

The applause was strong and early critical praise is over the moon. Pundits will have to add this Alcon production being released by Warner Bros on September 20 to the list of strong Oscar contenders. That is, if  audiences and Academy members can handle the intensity of this superbly directed and produced film that features career-best performances, for sure, from Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman (OK, I liked Les Miz too a lot), plus a brilliant supporting cast including Melissa Leo going for another supporting win; Terence Howard; the great Viola Davis; Maria Bello; and Paul Dano, who goes through the ringer for his art. You can easily compare this gem to critically acclaimed pictures like Zodiac, Seven, Mystic River and any number of films in the genre. Director Villeneuve doesn’t shy away from the comparisons. He says he is a great admirer of David Fincher and Clint Eastwood. In fact one of his editors, Joel Cox, is an Eastwood regular. Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘X Factor’ Musical; Hugh Jackman Honored In Zurich; Beijing Fest In Venice & More

London’s ‘X Factor’ Musical Finds Its Simon Cowell
Nigel Harman, the former Eastenders star who has a role in Season 4 of Downton Abbey, has been tapped to play a character based on Simon Cowell in I Can’t Sing! The X Factor Musical. The show will be directed by Olivier Award-winner and Tony Award-nominee, Sean Foley. It’s set to premiere at the London Palladium on March 26, 2014. Cowell and Sony Music’s joint venture Syco Entertainment is partnering with Stage Entertainment UK to launch the show that’s written by British comedian Harry Hill.

Hugh Jackman Honored At Zurich Film Festival
Hugh Jackman will receive the Golden Icon Award at the Zurich Film Festival which runs September 26 – October 6. The fest’s most prestigious symbol of recognition is awarded “in appreciation of the lifetime achievements of an actor or actress.” Jackman’s latest film, Prisoners, will be screened at the fest. “Hugh Jackman is in a class by himself as a multi-talented entertainer with a global following,” said fest co-director Karl Spoerri. “There is nothing he can’t do and he proves this time and time again with every project he’s involved in. We’re honored to recognize his brilliant career at the Zurich Film Festival.” Read More »

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Telluride: No ‘Prisoners’ Hugh Jackman Or Jake Gyllenhaal For Special Screening

Pete Hammond

Also at the Telluride Film Festival picnic I ran into Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve and its producers, Alcon’s Andrew Kosove and Kira Davis. The trio were anxiously awaiting the festival’s reaction to their incredibly tense thriller. I had speculated pic would be a surprise entry here and indeed it as now been officially announced as one of Friday night’s screenings. (The festival also confirmed my earlier prediction that Fox Searchlight’s 12 Years A Slave will screen Friday, ratcheting up the Oscar-wattage considerably). I am told Prisoners stars Hugh Jackman is in Japan promoting The Wolverine and Jake Gyllenhaal is starting a new film and also couldn’t make the trek to Telluride. But both will be at the Toronto premiere next week along with the rest of the impressive cast. Villeneuve is no stranger to Telluride and was last here in 2010 for his Oscar-nominated Incendies.

Related: Telluride: Oscar Contenders Flock To Rockies As Festival Season Arrives

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Hot Trailer: ‘Prisoners’

By | Thursday June 27, 2013 @ 7:05pm PDT

Award-winning filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) directs a deep ensemble cast in Prisoners, about two families whose lives are upturned when their young daughters go missing together. Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, and Viola Davis play the distraught parents, with Jake Gyllenhaal as a cop trying to pick up the missing girls’ trail. Paul Dano and Melissa Leo also star in the drama written by Aaron Guzikowski. WB opens the pic September 20. The new second trailer reveals no shortage of plot points, so viewer beware:

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Wolverine’

By | Wednesday June 12, 2013 @ 6:11pm PDT

A new trailer for Fox‘s summer X-Men standalone adventure The Wolverine has hit the web, with more of a peek at villainess Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) and the Japan-set plot. Hugh Jackman reprises his role as the Marvel superhero Wolverine as James Mangold directs the postconverted 3D pic, which opens internationally July 24 ahead of a stateside July 26 bow. Check it out:

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Hot Trailer: Hugh Jackman’s ‘Prisoners’

By | Friday May 31, 2013 @ 11:46am PDT

The story of Prisoners revolves around a small-town carpenter (Hugh Jackman) whose young daughter and her best friend are abducted. After the cops fail to find them, Jackman’s character takes the law into his own hands, but in the process runs up against a detective (Jake Gyllenhaal), a hot-shot cop with confidence to burn, assigned to the case. Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, Viola Davis, Maria Bello and Paul Dano also star. Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) directs from a script by Contraband scribe Aaron Guzikowski. It’s set for a September 20 release. Check out the trailer:

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Wolverine’

By | Tuesday May 21, 2013 @ 6:10am PDT

Here’s the newest trailer for Fox‘s The Wolverine starring Hugh Jackman that will begin showing this weekend in theaters attached to Fast & Furious 6. The James Mangold-directed 3D pic opens wide July 26 and this offers the clearest look yet at the Japan-set plot.

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Wolverine’

Hugh Jackman returns as The Wolverine in the Fox superhero movie that bows Stateside on July 26. The James Mangold-directed pic is the sequel to 2009′s X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the latest in the X-Men franchise. It finds Wolverine out of his depth in modern day Japan where he faces his ultimate nemesis in a life-or-death battle that will leave him forever changed. Brian Tee, Will Yun Lee and Hiroyuki Sanada also star, with a cameo by Famke Janssen. Oscar-nominee Jackman will also strap on his Adamantium claws for Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past that’s out next year. Here’s the domestic trailer Fox released today, followed by the international one:

Read More »

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Aaron Sorkin Disappears From Hugh Jackman Broadway Musical ‘Houdini’

By | Tuesday January 29, 2013 @ 4:15pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Aaron Sorkin has dropped out of the Broadway production of Houdini, on which he was to make his librettist debut for a musical slated to star Hugh Jackman as the famous magician. Sorkin has put a lot of work into the musical, but had to drop out because of scheduling. He had to go back and write the second season of his HBO series creation The Newsroom, which will be broadcast in the summer. He’s also hard at work adapting the Walter Isaacson book Steve Jobs for a feature film for Sony Pictures on the Apple genius.

That left him pressed to have enough time to finish the musical in time for the producer’s plan to open on Broadway during the 2013-2014 season. Sorkin’s reps are in conversations with the Houdini producers for them to continue developing the musical utilizing Sorkin’s initial concepts and other materials. Stephen Schwartz is writing the music and Scott Sanders and David Rockwell are producing.

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OSCARS Q&A: Hugh Jackman

By | Saturday December 29, 2012 @ 1:52pm PST
Pete Hammond

Hugh Jackman has carved out an image as a major movie star who can easily switch gears from action to drama to comedy and all things in between. But until now the man who made Wolverine a household name has never done a movie musical. That’s a bit surprising since Jackman also happens to be a classically trained musical star outside of movies. He’s starred in stage classics like Oklahoma!, won a Tony on Broadway as Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz, an Emmy for hosting the Tonys, and worldwide recognition for his singing and dancing as host of the Oscars. He recently did a one-man musical show on Hugh JackmanBroadway, and that’s one of the reasons he says he is even in Les Misérables and making his long-overdue debut as star of a musical on the big screen.

AwardsLine: Would you consider this to be one of the toughest screen roles you’ve done?
Jackman: For sure. There is not an element that really wasn’t the toughest. One of the reasons I did the Broadway show was to make sure I was vocally fit to not only sing it, but sing it all day long, wake up the next day, and have another 12 hours of it. I put on 29 pounds from beginning to end. Tom (Hooper) told me, “I want people to worry, I want your friends to think you’re sick.” The physicality, the emotional (aspect) acting-wise, was tough.

AwardsLine: You rarely see musicals of this size anymore.
Jackman: That’s true. It’s a big risk. I’m not surprised it’s taken 27 years to get there. Read More »

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Oscars: Parties, Q&As, Campaigning More Rampant Than Ever As Voting Continues

Pete Hammond

Joaquin Phoenix and Anthony Hopkins may not approve, but Oscar season campaigning on the party circuit has been at fever pitch.

“We’ve never seen anything like this. We’re exhausted. We are out every night it seems and the invitations keep coming,”  one Oscar-winning Academy member told me recently. He was referring to the glut of invites to parties, lunches, screenings with Q&As and everything else for which Oscar season campaigning has come to be known. He pointedly added that none of it has ever influenced his vote but he is not turning down the elaborate food spreads and the chance to mingle with contenders. “Just don’t tell anyone who invites me to these things, but  it doesn’t really have much impact on the way I fill out my ballot,”  he added with a smile.

That won’t stop Oscar strategists from trying and the campaign activity this season seems like it pushed into high gear much earlier than normal and hasn’t let up, even as the Christmas break quickly approaches and the town starts to shut down. Don’t tell that to the relentless Weinstein Company who will still have some of their contenders out on the stump even over this holiday weekend. Quentin Tarantino who, despite seeing his Los Angeles premiere for Django Unchained cancelled Tuesday night out of sensitivity to the Newtown tragedy, was out doing a Q&A and reception for a packed screening at the Academy last night and will be doing the same thing for BAFTA-LA Friday night. Read More »

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OSCARS: Hugh Jackman On ‘Les Miserables’: Video

By | Thursday December 20, 2012 @ 12:24am PST

The actor and the movie’s director Tom Hooper describe the rigors of performing in the musical in this behind-the-scenes video from Universal:

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Bryan Singer Tweets: He’s Got Jean Valjean Returning For ‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’

By | Wednesday December 19, 2012 @ 10:19am PST
Mike Fleming

It’s not that much of a surprise, but Bryan Singer last night took to Twitter to confirm that Hugh Jackman will put on his claws and play Wolverine in X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Jackman, who’s about to open as Jean Valjean in the Oscar-bait picture Les Miserables, joins Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, who are also reprising the roles they originated in the first X-Men, which Singer directed. I’m sure that more of that original core cast will be back — paging Halle Berry, James Marsden, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin and Rebecca Romijn — but Singer has become infatuated with Twitter and wants to dole out the info as he locks in cast. I’m just glad he’s back in the saddle because his first two X-Men films were the best of the bunch. Here’s his tweet:

@BryanSinger

I would officially like to welcome @RealHughJackman to the cast of #Xmen Days of Future Past. Very excited! More to come…

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