UPDATE, 1:35PM: Penelope Cruz has issued a statement to clarify the open letter that she, husband Javier Bardem and director Pedro Almodovar signed yesterday, which called for an end to “the genocide perpetrated by the Israeli occupation army in the Gaza strip against Palestinian civilians.” The comments were bound to be regarded as incendiary and polarizing, taking sides in a most controversial issue. Today, Cruz explains that her reaction was not motivated by politics as much as humanitarian concerns.
“I don’t want to be misunderstood on this important subject,” she said. “I’m not an expert on the situation, and I’m aware of the complexity of it. My only wish and intention in signing that group letter is the hope that there will be peace in both Israel and Gaza. I am hopeful all parties can agree to a cease fire and there are no more innocent victims on either side of the border. I wish for unity, and peace. … I believe in a civilization that can be capable of bringing the courage to have a world where humans can live side by side.”
Related: Fear, Rockets And Anxiety Overshadowed Film At Jerusalem Festival
PREVIOUSLY, July 29: The Gaza conflict touched the film business this month when dealmakers and filmmakers ran for a bomb shelter as shelling got too close at the Jerusalem Film Festival, and when Israeli filmmakers Ronit Elkabetz, Keren Yedaya, and Shlomi Elkabetz urged their government to seek a truce with Hamas. The attention on the world stage spiked today when Spanish Oscar winners Pedro Almodovar, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz put signatures to a statement expressing outrage over “the genocide perpetrated by the Israeli occupation army in the Gaza Strip against Palestinian civilians.” Stars who take political positions on world issues do so at their own peril and at the risk of hurting their business by polarizing potential audiences. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In its latest aggressive pre-buy to line its slate with star-driven pictures, Open Road Films has on the eve of the Cannes Film Festival closed a deal to acquire U.S. rights to The Gunman, the action thriller that stars Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance and Jasmine Trinca. It was directed by Taken helmer Pierre Morel. The film was expected to be one of the hot titles for domestic distribution at the market that starts next week. The deal was made by Open Road CEO Tom Ortenberg and Studiocanal chairman/CEO Olivier Courson. It is a commitment for a big wide release.
Based on the Jean-Patrick Manchette novel The Prone Gunman, the film stars Penn as a former Special Forces soldier and military contractor suffering from PTSD. He tries to reconnect with his longtime love, but first must go on the run from London to Barcelona and across Europe in order to clear his name. Joel Silver, Andrew Rona and Sean Penn are the producers. Adrian Guerra and Peter McAleese are exec producers. It is one of Studiocanal’s biggest productions to date. Read More »
An interesting film project is quickly coming together now with Sean Penn, Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem, which is readying to be shot in Africa. The love story, called The Last Face, will be directed by Penn and is on the verge of getting the go-ahead from River Road and Bill Pohlad, with Bill Gerber and Matt Palmieri also producing. Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is The Warmest Color) is also on board. Theron, who is romantically linked with Penn, will star as a doctor who doing humanitarian relief work in Africa amidst violent political conflicts in the region. She meets another doctor (Bardem) who is doing the same work, and the story revolves around tough moral decisions that must be made during time of civil unrest. Exarchopoulos is expected to play a journalist.
This will be Penn and Pohlad’s fourth collaboration. They previously worked together on Into the Wild, which garnered two Oscar noms. Pohlad also produced Terence Malick’s Oscar-nominated Tree Of Life, which Penn narrated and starred, as well as Fair Game. Of course Pohlad was one of the producers of this year’s Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave. Penn, Theron, Bardem and Pohlad are all Oscar winners. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: One of the most compelling movie questions coming into 2014 is, what film will Steven Spielberg direct? I don’t know if this is next or far down the line, but here is a tantalizing possibility: I’m told that he has his sights on Montezuma, an epic tale of the kinship and ultimately the bloody collision between Montezuma and Cortez as the latter led the Spanish infiltration into Mexico. I’ve heard that Javier Bardem has sparked to playing the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez, and that the catalyst here is a nearly 50-year old script by Dalton Trumbo that is being rewritten by Steve Zaillian, who teamed with Spielberg on the Oscar-winning Schindler’s List.
Zaillian is boarding this project as producer, likely alongside Spielberg and his DreamWorks team. The rights are now controlled by DreamWorks, but Zaillian’s first look deal is at Fox and I don’t know if a team-up there is in the works. Zaillian is currently producing the Moses epic Exodus for Fox, with Ridley Scott directing Christian Bale in the lead role.
This project could be retitled Cortez, since the viewpoint will be from the latter character to be played by fellow Spaniard Bardem. The project, considered one of the great unmade scripts in moviedom, has an illustrious history. Trumbo wrote it for actor/producer Kirk Douglas, with whom he did the classics Spartacus and Lonely Are the Brave. Trumbo turned in a 205-page draft in 1965, when Martin Ritt was supposed to direct Douglas in the film. It never happened. Read More »
Michael Fassbender reunites with Prometheus helmer Ridley Scott in The Counselor, starring as a lawyer who enters the drug trade only to find himself in over his head. Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, and Penelope Cruz also star in the pic scripted by Cormac McCarthy which Fox has slated for an October 25 release. Fassbender’s title character gets a few warnings from Pitt and Bardem in the first clips from The Counselor. The full trailer drops tomorrow:
EXCLUSIVE: Looks like the sides have been chosen for the shoot-out film The Gunman, which Taken helmer Pierre Morel will direct for Silver Pictures and Studio Canal. Ray Winstone has just joined the film. He’ll play the mentor of the hitman played by Sean Penn, who is betrayed and then hunted by the organization he worked for. On the opposite side of this twosome are Javier Bardem and Idris Elba, and they run all over Europe in a fatal game of cat and mouse. Jasmine Trinca (Miele) is the female lead. Winstone’s tough guy cred includes The Departed, Sexy Beast, 44 Inch Chest and the upcoming Darren Aronofsky-directed Noah, where he goes mano a mano against Russell Crowe in that Biblical epic. I hope this movie is as good as it sounds here, because I’d follow these four actors anywhere. The Gunman is based on the Jean-Patrick Manchette novel Prone Gunman, scripted by Pete Travis. Joel Silver and Andrew Rona are producing. Resolution reps Winstone.
EXCLUSIVE: Javier Bardem has found a couple of killer roles. He will star as the good guy (for a change) in J.C. Chandor’s next film, A Most Violent Year, which will shoot in Manhattan this fall. Chandor, who made a splash in Cannes unveiling the Robert Redford-starrer survival tale All Is Lost, wrote A Most Violent Year, which Before The Door’s Neal Dodson and Anna Gerb will produce, with FilmNation handling global sales. Bardem is also locking in to go mano a mano with Sean Penn in The Gunman, another project that made waves at Cannes by selling out its foreign territorial allotment. The film is being directed by Pierre Morel and financed by Studio Canal, with Joel Silver and Andrew Rona producing. Bardem excels in these kinds of movies, winning the Oscar for No Country For Old Men, and most recently playing the existentially tortured villain who squared off against 007 in Skyfall. He’s repped by WME and will next be seen in the stellar cast of the Ridley Scott-directed The Counselor, opposite Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz.
BREAKING: It has only taken 007 half a century to get his due from the Academy. Oscars exec producers will include a tribute to the James Bond franchise, it was announced this morning. It’s a good idea from the standpoint of getting the masses interested in avoiding a snore-fest like last year, but the timing is also fortuitous for honoring moviedom’s most enduring feature franchise.
The most recent installment, the Sam Mendes-directed Skyfall, recently became the first 007 film to crack the $1 billion worldwide gross mark; also, Bond celebrated its 50-year anniversary with the Skyfall release.
Related: Academy Celebrates 50 Years Of James Bond Music From ‘Goldfinger’ To ‘Skyfall’
It is a remarkable exception to how the Academy has historically dismissed the James Bond films as award-worthy. Only 1964′s Goldfinger and 1965′s Thunderball won awards, and they were for Best Effects. The 2006 film Casino Royale, which introduced Daniel Craig as 007 and is on my Top 10 favorite films, didn’t get a single Oscar nomination. Perhaps this year will be different — Javier Bardem’s villain character in Skyfall has so far been nominated for SAG and PGA Awards. I’m not sure about a Best Picture nomination, because there are so many worthy films up against Skyfall. At least the series will get a little bit of love from Oscar. Has 007 been done an injustice all these years by Oscar?
Here’s the official announcement: Read More »
More than 10 years in the making, an international treaty aimed at protecting actors’ rights is due to be signed in Beijing in the coming week. Backed by UN agency WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the treaty would extend economic and moral protection for film and TV performers. It’s geared more towards actors in emerging markets, or those where collective bargaining is not already in place. In many countries, actors whose work is sold overseas have no legal recourse for payment, nor do they have recourse if work is distorted in a way that could hurt their reputation. Ratification of the Beijing treaty by the 185 member countries would set a clearer international legal framework for those artists.
The treaty is backed by such stars as Meryl Streep, Sonia Braga and Javier Bardem. Bardem recently said, “Remuneration for the rights as an actor are very crucial. Not for people like me, but for that 90% of people that really have a serious problem making a living from what they are doing.” The treaty is designed in part to take a stance against piracy. In a recorded video message at the opening of the Beijing conference today, Streep said, “This is a pivotal time in the performers’ battle for intellectual property protection. While digital technology creates a wealth of new opportunities for performers, it also significantly increases the risk … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: When Universal Pictures said no to making three feature films and two limited-run TV series from Stephen King’s mammoth post-apocalyptic Western The Dark Tower, the partners in the film all pledged they were going to find a way to get a movie made. Well, I hear that Warner Bros is now very close to a deal that will give Ron Howard the chance to direct at least the first feature, potentially with Javier Bardem starring as gunslinger Roland Deschain. And Akiva Goldsman (who wrote the script) is producing with Brian Grazer and the author.
Basically the studio bought Goldsman’s script and are paying him to do a polish. Howard remains attached to direct, likely in first-quarter 2013. Pic is a co-production between Goldsman’s Weed Road and Howard and Grazer’s Imagine. Bardem’s participation would depend upon his availability, but he was firmly attached when the project was at Universal.
That is an amazing development for fans of the book and for a movie that has been searching for new backing since Universal let it go last July. Back then, Universal was deciding on three features and the two TV segments, which was perhaps the most ambitious movie project since Peter Jackson shot three installments of The Lord Of The Rings back to back. Read More »
The hot role that actors are lining up for is the villain in The Counselor, the Ridley Scott-directed Cormac McCarthy-written thriller that will star Michael Fassbender. I’m hearing that The Bourne Legacy‘s Jeremy Renner and No Country For Old Men‘s Javier Bardem are among the actors circling. I’ve been hearing Brad Pitt too but unclear if he would be available. This is a most charmed path for a film that was bought at year’s end by producers Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz and is heading for a May production start. Stay tuned.
As filming got underway Monday for Skyfall, the names of two additional actors but not their characters’ identities were posted on the movie’s Twitter account @007: Helen McCrory (Hugo, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 & 2) and Ola Rapace, former husband of Noomi Rapace, apparently in his first English-language role. Last week’s reveal of the official title of Bond 23 was the most recent big news for the project, along with director Sam Mendes promising there would be plenty of action as well as “emotional context.” In addition to McCrory, Rapace and of course Daniel Craig, the rest of Skyfall‘s previously reported cast includes Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Judi Dench, Ben Whishaw and Albert Finney.
Shooting on the latest James Bond movie starts Monday, Daniel Craig revealed at this morning’s press conference for Skyfall, the 23rd 007 movie. Producer Michael G Wilson scotched UK tabloid rumors that the budget for the latest Bond film has been slashed by $100 million. “We’re in the same budget range as the last film. We haven’t had to change anything in the script. In fact, we keep adding things — everything is going to be just as it was,” he said. Director Sam Mendes also denied he was making a downbeat Bond with fewer action sequences. He would be directing action sequences himself. “There will be plenty of surprises,” Mendes promised. “The action needs to be balanced with the drama.” Mendes said he was open to directing another Bond installment, “if I still feel that it’s as much fun in six months’ time, then the answer is yes.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Candescent Films, a new venture formed to make films that advance a social agenda, is financing and co-producing a small slate of films that are passion projects of A-list talent. Spearheaded by Lilly Hartley, Candescent kicks off with Native, a drama being written by Take Shelter director Jeff Nichols, with Hartley producing with Sarah Green (The Tree of Life) and Automatik Entertainment’s Brian Kavanaugh-Jones. Candescent is also the catalyst for two documentaries. Javier Bardem is the star and producer of Sons of the Clouds, an in-producton documentary that explores the political and human rights issues facing the people of the Sahara, with an emphasis on a former Spanish colony in Africa that is now occupied by Morocco and where there are more than 200,000 refugees living in camps in the desert. Bardem is producing with Hartley and Alvaro Longoria of Morena Films. Longoria directed it and is close to finished, with Candescent financing.
Candescent is also financing development of The Fifth Estate, a feature documentary to be written and directed by The September Issue‘s R.J. Cutler that examines the future of journalism in the digital age, and the role of the Internet in 21st century democracy. WME Global’s Liesl Copland packaged both of the documentaries. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The moment has come for Universal Pictures to fish or cut bait on The Dark Tower, the ultra-ambitious adaptation of the Stephen King 7-novel series that was going to encompass a trilogy of feature films and two limited run TV series. The studio has said, No Thanks. Universal has passed on going forward with the project, dealing a huge blow in the plan for Ron Howard to direct Akiva Goldsman’s script, with Brian Grazer, Goldsman and the author producing and Javier Bardem starring as gunslinger Roland Deschain. Now, the filmmakers will have to find a new backer of what might well be the most ambitious movie project since Bob Shaye allowed Peter Jackson to shoot three installments of The Lord of the Rings back to back.
This stunning development comes after Universal in May pushed plans to start production this summer on the first film. The studio claimed to be on track for a February, postponing to reduce the budget. This temporarily dispelled rumors that Universal was putting the project in turnaround, rumors that cropped up when the studio put workers on hiatus. But it was only a temporary respite. I’m told that this time, the studio reviewed Goldsman’s script for the first film and the first leg of the TV series, and would only commit to the single film. That wasn’t good enough for the filmmakers, who had already hired comic book and Heroes … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has pushed this year’s start date on the Ron Howard-directed adaptation of Stephen King’s mammoth novel series Dark Tower until February, I’m told. It was supposed to start this summer. The studio will work with the filmmakers to reduce the budget on a series that will include three feature films and two limited-run TV series. Universal has its own ticking clock: It must greenlight the film by July, or the rights revert back to the author and the filmmakers. Recent speculation had Universal contemplating putting the film in turnaround. That hasn’t happened, yet. Akiva Goldsman wrote the Dark Tower script, and Brian Grazer is producing with Goldsman. Javier Bardem has been set to play gunslinger Roland Deschain. The original plan by Universal, to mount a movie trilogy and limited-run TV series, is arguably the most ambitious Hollywood project since New Line and Peter Jackson shot three installments of The Lord of the Rings in one long shoot.
EXCLUSIVE: Javier Bardem is close to sealing his deal with Universal Pictures to play gunslinger Roland Deschain in The Dark Tower, the mammoth adaptation of the Stephen King 7-novel series that’ll span three movies and a limited run TV series in between each film. Director Ron Howard begins production on the first film in September, and he’ll also direct the first TV segment. Akiva Goldsman has scripted the film and the initial TV component. Imagine Entertainment chief Brian Grazer is producing the films with Goldsman and King. Goldsman will produce the TV part through his Weed Road banner.
Bardem, who won the Oscar for his ferocious portrayal of a hit man in No Country For Old Men and who was more recently nominated for Biutiful, is a strong match to play the last living member of a knightly order of gunslingers. Deadline revealed in late January that Bardem had been offered the role of Deschain, who becomes humanity’s last hope to save civilization as he hits the road to find the Dark Tower. Along the way, he encounters characters, good and bad, in a world that has an old West feel.
Bardem’s WME reps are putting the finishing touches on the deal, and they are close enough that Howard has begun meeting with other actors to cast the roles around Bardem. It’s a complex deal, almost unprecedented, because it calls for Bardem to star in the feature film and the TV component. His deal will also include options for two sequels (the TV program that runs between the second and third films will be a prequel). I’m told it will add up to a career-best payday for Bardem. Howard and Goldsman have told me they see the trilogy as their answer to the Peter Jackson-directed adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. While Middle Earth had a mystical medieval feel, The Dark Tower vibe is one that Goldsman described as “an alternate Americana, one part post-apocalyptic, one part Sergio Leone.” Read More »