Berlin Briefs: Jake Gyllenhaal & Amy Adams Board ‘Ezekiel Moss’; Jessica Alba To Star In Atlas’ ‘The Wright Girls’ Directed By Kevin Connolly; More
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The Prohibition-era drama Ezekiel Moss is moving forward, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams set to star and Philip Seymour Hoffman set to direct the pic written by Keith Bunin, whose script made the 2011 Black List. A Likely Story and Mandalay Vision, which secured the project back then, are aboard, with Likely Story’s Anthony Bregman and Mandalay’s Cathy Schulman producing with PalmStar Media Capital’s Kevin Frakes and Merced Media Partners’ Raj Brinder Singh. The story follows Iris (Adams) who, emotionally fragile by the recent loss of her husband, manages to scrape by to provide for her spirited son by running a boarding house in a small town overrun by religious fervor. Their lives are forever changed when she begins to fall in love with Ezekiel Moss (Gyllenhaal), a mysterious drifter who has the divine ability to channel and physically inhabit the spirits of the dead. Exclusive Media and its president of international sales and distribution Alex Walton will handle overseas sales at the upcoming European Film Market in Berlin.
Jessica Alba has signed on to star and Kevin Connolly has signed on to direct The Wright Girls, based on the Japanese film 2LDK. Bert V Royal wrote the screenplay and production is set to begin in the second quarter of this year in LA. The story centers on Kate and Vanessa, co-stars on a past-its-prime sitcom and roommates in real life. When they realize they are both up for the same lead role in a big movie that could catapult their careers, they go from best friends to worst enemies in the course of one action-packed night. Atlas Independent’s William Green and Aaron Ginsberg will produce with Atlas Entertainment’s Alex Gartner. Highland Film Group will sell it at EFM. Alba and Connolly are repped by CAA and 3 Arts Entertainment. Royal is repped by Paradigm.
The Contenders 2013: ‘Prisoners’ Screenwriter Asks “How Did I Become So Warped To Give Birth To This Story?” (Video)
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 …
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 Dogs, Death 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:
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.
The 67th Tony Awards have added more talent to their June 9 telecast. Laura Benanti, Alan Cumming, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sally Field, Barrett Foa, Jake Gyllenhaal, Megan Hilty, Anna Kendrick, Jane Krakowski, Cyndi Lauper, Audra McDonald, Matthew …
EXCLUSIVE: Panorama Media, the production, finance and sales entity backed by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures, has boarded road trip drama Mississippi Grind. Half Nelson duo Anna Boden and Ryan …
Hollywood has been one of Barack Obama’s biggest supporters during this Presidential campaign, and with less than 24 hours until polls open, the town is out today knocking on doors, hitting the stage and picking up the phone for the incumbent. Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, longtime supporter Eva Longoria, Parks And Recreation‘s Rashida Jones and Natalie Portman are just a few of the 181 surrogates on the trail today, according to a list released by the Obama campaign (see the full list below). Mitt Romney has star support on the final day of the campaign too: American Bible Challenge host and comedian Jeff Foxworthy, Fight Club’s Meat Loaf, Kid Rock and the Oak Ridge Boys will be performing at Republican rallies today.
One of the most well known liberals in Hollywood, Jake Gyllenhaal, is a hot retweet today in what seems to be a huge change of political partisanship. In fact, it’s yet another fake celebrity Twitter account:
Jake Gyllenhaal does not have …