Marvel Studios‘ next potential franchise has a director and a writer, and now it the Doctor himself might be in. Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix is in talks to star in Doctor Strange. Those negotiations should put to an end all those Benedict Cumberbatch rumors blowing through the halls here at Comic-Con. The Wrap got this first one first. Marvel has been culling through a list of aspirants that included Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy and Jared Leto. The studio has been teasing references to the Doctor, most recently he got a shout out in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Scott Derrickson is directing and Jon Spaihts is writing the script for the pic (the first draft was penned by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer). Doctor Strange was hatched by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko during that Marvel Comics heyday of the early 1960s. He’s a neurosurgeon who becomes Sorcerer Supreme, protecting Earth against magical and mystical threats with powers of sorcery, mysticism, and martial arts. Marvel’s Kevin Feige is producing.
Phoenix had more than a few people calling doctor strange when he played a quirkier version of himself in that wannabe rapper docu I’m Still Here. But when you see his work in films from The Master to Her, it’s hard to find many leading men who do it better and commit to character the way he does. He’ll be back on the awards circuit most likely in the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed… Read More »
Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix has added a new credit to his résumé: Associate Producer. He’s come aboard youth leadership project CAMP: The Documentary, which will track a diverse group of 20 teens from across the country who gather in Big Bear, CA, to participate in a transformative weeklong art and leadership project called Camp M.O.R.E. Phoenix, the Be More Heroic org, and The River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding are currently stumping for an Indiegogo campaign to raise a $40K budget with aims to begin filming with DP Bobby Bukowski (Arlington Road, Saved!) in mid-July. Here’s Phoenix’s video appeal in support of the project, which has seven days of crowdfunding to go:
Joaquin Phoenix has finalized a deal to star in the next film directed by Woody Allen, which I’m hearing is going to begin shooting in July. As per usual there’s not much known Allen’s projects before they really get going, but his past few have included gangbusters Midnight In Paris and Blue Jasmine, the latter landing its star Cate Blanchett the Best Actress Oscar this year. The writer-director’s next pic in his seemingly endless pipeline is romantic comedy Magic In The Moonlight, about an Englishman brought in to help unmask a possible swindle in the south of France in the 1920s against a backdrop of wealthy mansions, the Côte d’Azur, jazz joints and fashionable spots for the wealthy of the Jazz Age.
Phoenix is coming off Spike Jonze’s Oscar-nommed Her, which earned the actor a Golden Globe nom, and he just finished Inherent Vice for Paul Thomas Anderson. He his repped by WME and attorney David Weber.
After Warner Bros unveiled its first trailer for Spike Jonze‘s unconventional romantic drama in August, the studio made a strategic move to December and took it to the NYFF and Rome fests, collecting kudos for star Scarlett Johansson. But early awards hopes for Johansson’s voice-only performance as a Siri-like operating system that captivates her owner (Joaquin Phoenix) were muted by an HFPA ruling that it’s ineligible for contention at the Golden Globes. Check out a new trailer for Her, which opens December 18 in limited release and expands January 10:
“I’m going to be busy working. I just don’t really have time. (Campaigning is) just not going to happen, because I’ll be in New Zealand. I’ll be on the other side of the world. You know, I get it. Everybody’s got to do their job. So you try and help and facilitate as best you can. But I won’t put myself through that kind of situation again. It’s just a grind. And I’m not a politician. I’m an actor,” Fassbender said of the whole Oscar process, which seems to grow every year and includes numerous Q&As, luncheons, meet-and-greets, private screenings, film festival tributes, presenting at endless awards shows, well-timed talk show appearances, etc etc. Many artists who suddenly find themselves the object of an all-out Oscar campaign find this part of the job even more grueling than making the actual film. And by the time the Oscars roll around they are spent.
Campaign or no campaign, in Fassbender’s case it may not matter. He’s very likely going to get nominated — and could win — for Best Supporting Actor and I think that’s a scenario whether he lifts a finger or not in doing the usual rounds. The film and the role are so strong it’s hard to imagine the actors branch ignoring him. Now after the nominations it could change, especially in a tight, competitive race where every vote counts. Read More »
The New York Film Festival closed Saturday night with the World Premiere of Spike Jonze‘s fourth feature, the irresistibly charming romantic fantasy Her, about a man who falls head over heels for his “operating system”. The studio held a simultaneous screening on the West Coast Saturday afternoon for L.A.-based critics and bloggers. Initial reaction was upbeat.
Whatever the December Warner Bros. release’s many attributes, its awards potential is yet to be determined. But I would say if it catches on with the Academy crowd at all, it could be poised to make Oscar history in at least one category. Scarlett Johansson, who poignantly voices Samantha the computer system that organizes Joaquin Phoenix‘s life and strikes up an intense and heartbreaking personal relationship with him, could possibly become the first solely voice-over performance to win an acting nomination. It’s never happened in the past that an actor, unseen on screen and strictly doing voice work has been able to nail a nomination from the Academy’s actors branch. But if ever it was going to happen this is the year, and Johansson’s is the performance. Her work (she replaced Samantha Morton) is exemplary. She’s also great in the current Don Jonas well. I am told by a Warner Bros. source working on the campaign that they have checked and the role is eligible. They plan to run her seriously for Best Supporting Actress and, if successful, will make … Read More »
Warner Bros. has dropped the first trailer for Spike Jonze‘s HER, about an introverted man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with an artificially intelligent operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Amy Adams and Rooney Mara also star in the pic written and directed by Jonze, which WB has set for a November 20 debut:
EXCLUSIVE: All actors want to work with Paul Thomas Anderson and it’s no surprise he’s lining up a killer cast for his adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novelInherent Vice. I hear Reese Witherspoon is the latest marquee name to join Joaquin Phoenix, Owen Wilson and Benicio Del Toro in the film. Book takes place in Los Angeles at the turn of the 1970s, as drug-fueled detective Larry “Doc” Sportello investigates the disappearance of an ex-girlfriend. Witherspoon re-teams with Phoenix, with whom she had a triumphant pairing in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line. Witherspoon won the Oscar for her portrayal of June Carter and Phoenix got an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Johnny Cash. Warner Bros will distribute Inherent Vice. She’s repped by CAA and Management 360.
EXCLUSIVE: National Geographic Channel has greenlighted a provocative documentary special from top auspices: Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck; Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin, directors of the Oscar-winning 2011 documentary Undefeated; and Scott Free, the company behind NatGeo’s hit factual drama special Killing Lincoln. The Verité documentary chronicles people’s final days before death, celebrating their lives and legacy through documentary footage, home movies, personal testimonials and interviews with friends and family members. “This is an incredible (project) documenting people in their last days and tackling the notion of death in an uplifting way,” NatGeo president Howard T. Owens said. Phoenix and Affleck, who previously collaborated on the headline-making 2010 film I’m Still Here, executive produce with Michale Muller through Strawhouse. Jules Daly will produce and David Zucker and Mary Lisio of Scott Free will executive produce, with Lindsay and Martin also producing. Production on the special will begin this spring, with broadcast set for fall 2013.
BREAKING: Joaquin Phoenix is in talks to reteam with The Master helmer Paul Thomas Anderson onInherent Vice, an adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon detective novel. Annapurna Pictures’ Megan Ellison is backing the picture, as she did The Master. Phoenix is Oscar nominated in The Master, in one of his career best performances. He’s repped by WME and Sloane, Offer, Weber and Dern.
Even though Joaquin Phoenix turned in a standout performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’sThe Master, looks like we shouldn’t expect him to be a fixture on the rubber chicken circuit. When Phoenix, who was Oscar-nominated for Walk The Line, was asked by Elvis Mitchell in Interview about the prospect of being put out on the awards circuit again, he responded thusly: “…I think it’s bullshit. I think it’s total, utter bullshit, and I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t believe in it. It’s a carrot, but it’s the worst-tasting carrot I’ve ever tasted in my whole life. I don’t want this carrot. It’s totally subjective. Pitting people against each other . . . It’s the stupidest thing in the whole world. It was one of the most uncomfortable periods of my life when Walk the Line was going through all the awards stuff and all that. I never want to have that experience again. I don’t know how to explain it — and it’s not like I’m in this place where I think I’m just above it — but I just don’t ever want to get comfortable with that part of things.”
Well, Joaquin, when your distributor is Harvey Weinstein, and he won the last two Best Picture Oscars, you will probably have to make the rounds no matter how you feel. You can take solace in the fact it can’t be more uncomfortable … Read More »
A Venice Film Festival audience lined up starting at about 8 AM today to catch the first press screening of Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. The packed house was hushed throughout the entirety of the film with only a handful of walkouts. Although immediate reaction following the screening was enormously positive, applause when the credits rolled was muted. After sitting through 2 hours of a gorgeous yet emotionally grueling and difficult-to-decipher picture, folks say they’re still parsing the movie. As one industryite and self-professed fan of Anderson’s work said to me this morning, “I would have preferred if it moved from Point A to Point B, not because I’m illiterate about film or need signposts along the way, but it seems to keep circling around.” An across-the-board consensus, however, is that Joaquin Phoenix should earn a Best Actor Oscar nomination. His portrayal of a disturbed World War II veteran Navy man is disturbing itself for the masterful way he embodies such an enigmatic character.
The Weinstein Company releases The Master on September 14th in the U.S., and sneak screenings around the country have resulted in largely glowing reviews. Curiously, a scene that was part of one of the original trailers for The Master — in which Phoenix’s Freddie Quell screams at Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd, aka The Master: “I know you’re trying to calm me down, but just say something that’s true!” — was not in the version screened in Venice this morning. Nor was a scene in which Quell is being questioned about “an incident.”
Anderson is known for operatic tales, whether set against the backdrop of the porn industry, the San Fernando Valley during a frog storm, or the Southern California oil boom. But this one will be a tougher sell to audiences not used to the director’s work. The movie has been regarded as a thinly-veiled treatise on Scientology, and someone who’s not heard all of the Scientology talk before seeing the film would immediately recognize references to it. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE:The Weinstein Company is near a deal to acquire U.S. rights to an untitled period drama that James Gray wrote and directed, with Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner starring. Gray has completed the film, and The Weinstein Company will release it next year. The project was one of the juicier packages shopped at the recent Cannes Film Festival by CAA and Wild Bunch. Greg Shapiro, Anthony Katagas, Gray and Worldview CEO Christopher Woodrow are producers. CAA and Worldview made the deal with TWC execs David Glasser, Dan Guando and Negeen Yazdi.
Gray wrote the script with Richard Menello. Early on it was called Low Life and American Dream, but Gray’s camp says it is currently untitled. The film takes place in 1920, as two sisters immigrate to New York from Poland, and when one falls deathly ill, things turn nightmarish for the other sister, played by Cotillard. She is forced to trade sexual favors for medicine and food to keep her sister alive. Once they land, she is warned to keep quiet about what happened. Though she does, she walks away with immigration papers that deem her a woman with bad morals.
With no place to go, she falls prey to a charming sleazebag (Phoenix), who persuades her to turn tricks in New York. Renner plays the parasite’s cousin, a magician … Read More »
The Weinstein Company has provided the first images from The Master, the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed film that stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams. In this clip there is no Hoffman, who plays a man who creates a belief system and watches it take off in post-war America. Phoenix plays a guy looking for something to believe in, who becomes the title character’s right-hand man who then begins questioning his course. Many reports have claimed this movie is about Scientology, but from what I’ve heard it is as applicable to Mormonism or any modern-day belief system that launches and draws a following. The film, which languished at Universal and then was orphaned because of its $35 million budget, finally got made because Megan Ellison had the money to allow Anderson to see through his vision. It is always a compelling vision, so good for Ellison, who can afford to take a risk on an auteur.
UPDATE: Sources tell me that the project that Morton, Adams and Mulligan and Phoenix are doing was written by Spike Jonze himself, and not Charlie Kaufman. The film is about a guy who falls in love with the voice of a computer, similar to the Siri feature on the new iPhone.
EXCLUSIVE: I am hearing that Samantha Morton, Amy Adams and Carey Mulligan are in discussions to star with Joaquin Phoenix in the untitled project that Spike Jonze will direct, with a script by his Being John Malkovich and Adaptation scribe Charlie Kaufman. It’s very difficult to get any confirmation on the project because the filmmaker is secretive as is the financier, Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures. Deadline was first to reveal the project when it was shopped early last year to financiers and Ellison took it off the table.
At the time, I’d heard the film is a satire about how world leaders gather to figure out all the seismic events that will take place in the worlds, from oil prices to wars that will be waged. The Principato-Young-repped Morton next stars in John Carter; the WME/Brillstein Entertainment Partners-repped Amy Adams next plays Lois Lane in Man of Steel and soon stars with Clint Eastwood and … Read More »
The family of late actor River Phoenix is disputing a director’s claim in a trade paper report that they are on board for a proposed re-release of Dark Blood, the 1993 film that Phoenix was shooting when he died of a drug overdose at age 23 in front of the Viper Room nightclub in West Hollywood. In the report, director George Sluizer said that he was reediting the film, planned to ask Joaquin Phoenix to overdub the voice of his brother and that Sluizer had stayed in touch with the family. All this is news to the Phoenix clan, per a spokesperson. “Despite George Sluizer’s claim that he has been communicating with River Phoenix’s family in regard to releasing River’s last film, Joaquin Phoenix and his family have not been in communication with the director nor will they participate in any way.”
EXCLUSIVE: Along with everything else about the 2001 Toronto Film Festival, the launch of Magnolia Pictures was quickly forgotten on September 11, as co-founder Eamonn Bowles and other indie film execs scrambled to find ways to get home. Magnolia marked its 10th anniversary at 2011 Toronto. While the company still doesn’t carry the profile of some other indie distributors, Bowles and co-owner Todd Wagner said their model — mixing traditional indie theatrical distribution with emerging digital technology — has made them distinctive and profitable. VOD revenues now often outpace theatrical for Magnolia films, and they return profit to filmmakers because of low P&A spends. Bowles and Wagner have been honing the VOD model since they were branded charlatans by theater chains in 2005 when Steven Soderbergh’s micro-budget film Bubble was released simultaneously on movie screens, VOD and DVD. Wagner and partner Mark Cuban put Magnolia and other film assets under the 2929 Entertainment banner on the selling block earlier this year, but pulled them back when they didn’t get a high price. Wagner said he’s staying.
Magnolia releases 35-40 films each year now, with upcoming releases that include the 2011 Toronto title Melancholia (which got Lars von Trier banned by Cannes for making dumb pro-Nazi comments). Some Magnolia efforts follow a theatrical release cycle, others go direct to DVD. But VOD has increasingly become the distributor’s calling card and Wagner said proof of its viability came when Harvey Weinstein poached Magnolia execs Tom Quinn and Jason Janego to start a VOD venture for The Weinstein Company.
“Harvey’s been in the industry forever, and he thought it was a good enough model to hire some of our folks away,” Wagner told me. “I’m flattered. There are other people doing this now, from IFC to John Sloss. To me, it’s validation that we’ve hit on something. But we’ve got an advantage, a unique collection of assets in the Landmark Theater chain, a home video division, and HDNet. The big theater chains still absolutely won’t play Ultra VOD titles, so having a theater chain is helpful. As is having the television network for the relationships it has made us with all the MSO’s. These synergies allow us to be freewheeling in how we license content. And producers are coming back to us with films because we are cutting them checks. That rarely happens elsewhere because of all the P&A that stands in front of them.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: We Own The Night writer/director James Gray is fast mobilizing his next film. It’s called Low Life, and it will star Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix, with Jeremy Renner in discussions to play the third lead. The project is being packaged by CAA. Several financiers are in the mix, but I hear that Wild Bunch will likely get it. Discussions are also taking place with domestic distributors, and deal is expected to be sealed shortly. The Hurt Locker‘s Greg Shapiro is producing.
I’m told that Cotillard will play a woman attempting to immigrate from Poland. Her American dream turns into a nightmare. While sailing to Ellis Island and a new start, her sister grows deathly ill and she is forced to trade sexual favors for medicine and food to keep her sister alive. Once they land, she is warned to keep quiet about what happened. Though she does, she walks away with immigration papers that deem her a woman with bad morals. With no place to go, she falls prey to a charming sleazebag (Phoenix), who persuades her to turn tricks in New York. Renner is close to signing on to play the sleazebag’s cousin, a magician who sweeps the young woman off her feet and is her best chance to escape the nightmarish life she has fallen into. This will be Gray’s fourth film with Phoenix, who previously starred in The Yards, We Own The Night and most recently Two Lovers. Read More »