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On The Road To Awards Season? Kerouac Book Finally Makes It To The Screen After 55 Years – Cannes

Pete Hammond

Critics may have been mixed after this morning’s press screening,  but the World Premiere audience at Wednesday night’s Cannes gala of director Walter Salles’ long-gestating film  On The Road was highly enthusiastic giving the film about the Beat Generation a 10 minute standing ovation. Co-producer Rebecca Yeldham said it was sweet justification for the 8 years she has been shepherding the picture with Salles. I caught up with her and the cast at the ultra-crowded after-party next door to the Palais at the oddly-named club, Magic Garden Meets LeBaron.  The film based on the famous 1957 classic book by Jack Kerouac (actually written in 1951) has had several people attempt a film version with no luck and it has taken 55 years to get to the screen. Kerouac himself even sent it to Marlon Brando right after publication  but never got a response. Francis Ford Coppola eventually secured the rights over 30 years ago but couldn’t come up with a way to make the complex film work. Finally Salles and his The Motorcycle Diaries screenwriter Jose Rivera cracked the code and after some false starts finally got the job done (Roman Coppola is also a producer on the film for American Zoetrope). IFC and Sundance Selects will distribute the film but it won’t be part of their VOD platform, but rather a major theatrical release. IFC’s and Sundance Selects President Jonathan Sehring, also at the party , said he couldn’t be higher on the film and they plan to open it in December and … Read More »

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CANNES: Weinstein Company Near Deal For ‘Wettest County’ While Distribs Fret Over Buying Pics Sight-Unseen

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company, already on a Cannes acquisition spree, has emerged as the clear frontrunner for  domestic distribution rights on The Wettest County in the World, after another all-night bargaining session between Harvey Weinstein’s acquisition team and CAA. I’m told a deal is very close. Considering how many distributors showed interest going into the weekend, it might  seem surprising that the Wettest County in the World has taken this long. Relativity Media had been the favorite all weekend since posting the highest bid, north of $5 million. I heard they got word from the producers last night that it wasn’t going to happen with them. I suspect what gave TWC the edge is its awards season experience, and a relationship that is growing between Harvey Weinstein and Megan Ellison, who financed the picture with Michael Benaroya. Ellison just sold to Weinstein world rights to the untitled Paul Thomas Anderson-directed film, which starts production next month with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix starring. I believe that The Wettest County in the World will get a platform release at year end, and open wide in early 2012.

The behind the scenes drama that has been going on all weekend illustrates the predicament for distributors on the Croisette who are trying to maintain some discipline in the closest thing to a sellers market that Cannes has seen in years. Buyers in this case wanted some control over a film that is done … Read More »

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Michael Polish Sets Cast For Kerouac’s ‘Big Sur’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Director Michael Polish has started production on the 1960s pic Big Sur, setting Dogville’s Jean-Marc Barr to play Jack Kerouac, Josh Lucas to play Beat Generation fixture Neal Cassady and Kate Bosworth to play Billie, the woman linked to both. The drama covers Kerouac’s move from New York to Northern California, as he tries to rediscover himself after badly handling the fame, drugs and decadent lifestyle that came with his groundbreaking novel On The Road. Anthony Edwards, Radha Mitchell, Balthazar Getty, Patrick Fischler, Stana Katic, John Robinson and Henry Thomas are also in the Polish-scripted film. 3311 Productions, a newly formed financing/production company, funded the film. Polish produces with 3311′s Ross Jacobson, Mark Roberts, Eddie Vaisman and Adam Kassen. Orian Williams is also producing.

It’s the second Kerouac to be recently adapted, as Walter Salles shot a screen version of On the Road with Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen.

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Amy Adams Joins Viggo Mortensen For ‘On The Road’ Trip

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Francis Ford Coppola has been working for 30 years to turn Jack Kerouac’s seminal Beat Generation novel On the Road into a movie. It is starting to look like it was worth the wait. Amy Adams and Viggo Mortensen are joining the Walter Salles-directed adaptation that will begin this month, I’m told. She will play Jane, the emotionally damaged junkie mother of two children and the wife of Old Bull Lee. Mortensen is going to play Lee. Kirsten Dunst, Kristen Stewart, Sam Riley and Tron: Legacy‘s Garrett Hedlund are also set for the pic. Script’s by Jose Rivera, who teamed with Salles on The Motorcycle Diaries. Coppola and Rebecca Yeldham are producing. The film began production today.

Adams, who next stars opposite Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in the David O. Russell-directed The Fighter, will follow On The Road by treading on more hallowed 60s ground. She’s attached to play songstress Janis Joplin in a film to be directed by City Of God helmer Fernando Mierelles that could happen next year. Mortensen just wrapped the role of Sigmund Freud in the David Cronenberg-directed A Dangerous Method.

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