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Coen Brothers’ Next Film: ‘Hail Caesar,’ A Fixer In 1950s Hollywood

By | Friday May 16, 2014 @ 12:00pm PDT

Joel Ethan Coen Hail CaesarEXCLUSIVE: Joel and Ethan Coen are putting together their next film, and it’s about a fixer in Hollywood circa 1950s who works for the studios to protect the stars of the day. Entitled Hail Caesar, the comical yarn centers on a man named Eddie Mannix who sounds a lot like the Fred Otash of his day — the famed 1950s private investigator who worked for Confidential magazine and was the muckraker of the time using wiretaps to spy on movie stars and gather dirt. Otash was a former lifeguard who became a cop, lost his job as a cop and became a private eye who wiretapped. The project is being put together now. It’s not clear if the Eddie Mannix in the script is based on the man of the same who was a MGM vp, for those of you wondering. The real Mannix was vp and general manager under Louis B. Mayer and Dore Schary. It was Mannix’s wife who actor George Reeves had the affair with. Reeves was later found with a gunshot wound to the head and it was ruled a suicide by the L.A. County coroner’s office but questions have always persisted about the death.

It was not unusual during the time for studios’ internal security to protect their assets to construct and manage the squeaky clean image of their stars. The big stars of the day were under contracts for a certain number of pictures so the powerful studios had their own go-to guys (and sometimes hired outside private investigators) to deep-six scandalous stories, whether it be romantic dalliances, drug use, DUIs, arrests, you name it. For the more serious threats, the fixers used pay-outs, strong-arming, and took care of “problems” (real or perceived) by any means necessary. It was the day of the old Hollywood star system. Read More »

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Oscar Q&A: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Helmers Joel And Ethan Coen

By | Thursday December 19, 2013 @ 9:01am PST

COENAfter making movies for more than three decades, Joel and Ethan Coen still don’t wear the auteur mantle comfortably—they seem to be having too much fun to see their brand of filmmaking as a proper job. They say many of their films begin with an opening scene or a desire to put characters into a specific setting. That includes their latest, Inside Llewyn Davis, the CBS Films release which starts and ends with star Oscar Isaac getting beaten up in an alley outside of a 1960s-era Greenwich Village folk-music club. But as matter-of-fact as they might make their work sound, the brothers have built a formidable career on creating detailed characters steeped in their very American environments. They have four Oscars apiece, for the original screenplay of 1996′s Fargo, and for best picture, director and adapted screenplay for 2007′s No Country For Old Men. More importantly, they enjoy an enviable level of creative freedom that ensures each film always contains their specific vision. They recently sat down with me at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills to talk shop, though their brotherly banter often results in laughing more than answering questions.

DEADLINE: You usually release a film a year. Are you always working on the next project even if you haven’t quite finished the last?
JOEL COEN: We don’t want to glorify it with the description of calling it work. We’re always pretending to work. We are going through the motions.
ETHAN COEN: Yeah, … Read More »

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OSCARS Q&A: Oscar Isaac On ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

By | Sunday November 24, 2013 @ 12:04pm PST
Pete Hammond

Since graduating from Juilliard in 2005, Guatamalan-born and Miami-bred Oscar Isaac has been on a steady rise. With noticeable roles in films such as Robin Hood, Drive and The Bourne Legacy, Isaac has been proving his worth as a film actor with something extra. That “something extra” has been fully realized with his breakthrough role as the title character in Joel and Ethan Coen’s tale of a struggling folk singer in the early 1960s, Inside Llewyn Davis. Since winning the Grand Prize at Cannes in May, the film has been building a high profile this season and promises to put Isaac, who does all of his own singing, right in the heart of the race.

AwardsLine: Recount how you got this role, because the audition process was drawn out for the film. The Coen brothers thought the movie wouldn’t get made if they didn’t find the right actor.
Oscar Isaac: I heard about the audition process early on, and I was like, “I have got to get into this thing because I love the Coen brothers, I play music and I can sing.” I went in (to the audition) knowing that it was loosely based on (folk musician) Dave Van Ronk’s memoirs, and I knew he was this huge 6-foot-5, 200-pound Swede. I knew (I would be) a stretch, if they were trying to do a biopic. So I came in and I had a beard and I saw a photograph of this well-known musician—dark hair, dark beard. Suddenly, I calmed down and said, “So is this a reference shot? You guys are looking for people like that?” (Someone in casting) says, “Oh, no. He came in; he killed it.” It was like all the blood being drained out of my veins. They had been looking at a lot of really great musicians for the part because they wanted to have full songs performed live in the film, which is very unusual. I learned three songs and did the audition, and about a week later, they called me in to meet with the Coens. They’re the best to audition for. They are incredibly generous, and they’re quick to laugh, even just in conversation. So it was impossible to tell how it went because, apparently, they’re like that for everybody. A month went by, and I was just begging the universe to give me this one shot. Then I got a call (from) Joel. I remember him talking for a while before saying it, but then he finally said, “We’d love for you to do (the film), if you’d want to be a part of it.” I couldn’t believe it. Read More »

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Telluride: Coen Brothers And T Bone Burnett Let Loose At Lively Tributes

By | Saturday August 31, 2013 @ 10:29am PDT
Pete Hammond

Joel and Ethan Coen have a ton of Oscars and other awards on their shelves, but the duo is fairly elusive when it comes to touting themselves and their work. So it isn’t exactly surprising that they’d never agreed to a Telluride Film Festival tribute, until this year. And the only way — a smart and entertaining one as it turns out — to lure them here was to wrap it around the use of music in their films and in particular the remarkable work they do with T Bone Burnett, who is getting equal treatment with the Coens here at the tribute shows on Friday night and this morning. The trio received the Festival’s much-prized Silver Medallion last night from their friend Barry Sonnenfeld right after a lively musical performance of Coenesque tunes by a group called The Americans and a half-hour of superbly-chosen clips from the T Bone-infused films The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou, The Ladykillers  and their latest, Inside Llewyn Davis, a grand prize winner at Cannes and set to open in December via CBS Films. It is also playing here this weekend.

Related: Hammond On Cannes: Coen Brothers’ ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

A 35-minute onstage conversation followed the Medallion presentation which was placed on a chain around their necks. “I’m feeling like Mark Spitz,” joked Ethan about the latest award they have received. As I said in Cannes, this film, set in the folk singing scene of the early ’60s,  is one of their best. Needless to say, it has great music in addition to a terrific cast including star Oscar Isaac, who should be a contender for awards (along with a scene-stealing cat). In fact one of those “stolen scenes” was an extended sequence with Isaac forced to carry the cat through New York City after he dashes out the door of his apartment. As with the other clips shown, it really demonstrates the power of music in the films of these iconic filmmakers.

Related: Awards Watch With Pete Hammond: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’
Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

By | Monday July 1, 2013 @ 1:22pm PDT

Oscar Isaac stars as a struggling musician ambling his way through NYC’s 1960s folk scene in Joel and Ethan Coen‘s December pic, which nabbed the Grand Prix at Cannes in May. Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, and F. Murray Abraham co-star. CBS Films releases Inside Llewyn Davis December 6. Watch the latest trailer:

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Hammond On Cannes: Wet Fest’s Official Competition Finally Heats Up With Coen Brothers’ ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

Pete Hammond

The first purely American entry in the 2013 Cannes Film Festival competition (opening nighter The Great Gatsby was Out of Competition), Joel Coen and Ethan Coen‘s terrific Inside Llewyn Davis had its first press screening Saturday night to strong response and big buzz on the very rainy Croisette. This tale of a talented folk singer unable to balance art and commerce, and who never quite hits the big time in the late ’50s/early ’60s emerging folk scene, is pure Coen Brothers with a winning mixture of brilliantly observed comedy and darker moments that give it an edge most reminiscent of Coen movies like Barton Fink, which won the Palme d’Or on their first try at Cannes in 1991. Joel Coen also took the Director award that year and again for The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001) among the seven previous times they have been in the Cannes competition. 1994′s The Hudsucker Proxy, 1996′s Fargo, 2000′s O Brother Where Art Thou, 2004′s The Ladykillers and 2007′s No Country For Old Men represent their other numerous chances to reap a second Palme d’Or since Barton Fink but none of them did the trick.

Judging from initial reaction, at least among the press, Inside Llewyn Davis probably makes them an early front-runner for that second Palme. We say early since the film doesn’t have its official black tie premiere at the Palais until Sunday night, only the fourth day of the competition. But with its superb acting including leading man Oscar Isaac as the morose but oddly engaging Llewyn and a great supporting cast including Carey Mulligan, John Goodman (just great), Justin Timberlake, Stark Sands and a scene-stealing cat (or cats? – you’ll see) among others, plus the Coens’ knack for catching this era in all its glory, I suspect this will remain a contender for the entire week of debuts to come. Read More »

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Coen Brothers’ ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Set For December 6 Release

By | Friday May 3, 2013 @ 2:28pm PDT

CBS Films announced today that Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis will see a limited release December 6 and expand out December 20 — during the heart of awards season. Oscar Isaac stars in the pic, which takes place in the folk-music circuit in New York’s Greenwich Village in the 1960s. Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, Murray Abraham and Justin Timberlake co-star. Scott Rudin and the Coen brothers produced. The film will also play in competition at Cannes this year.

CBS Films landed domestic distribution rights to the heavily buzzed-about film in February. Its first screening on the Sony lot drew a music crowd, a lot of movie stars and numerous studio execs, resulting in a ton of interest. Word is CBS Films got the U.S. rights for close to $4 million after beating out two other bidders.

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CBS Films Acquires Coen Brothers’ ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

By | Tuesday February 19, 2013 @ 10:01am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films has landed domestic distribution rights to Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis. The film attracted heavy interest after its first screening was held last week on the Sony lot, one that drew a music crowd, a constellation of movie stars and numerous studio execs. The result was, everybody got hot and bothered about the film. I’m hearing there were three bidders for the pic and CBS Films got the film for close to $4 million for U.S. rights. Oscar Isaac stars in the pic, which takes place in the folk-music circuit in downtown New York’s Greenwich Village in the 1960s. Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, F. Murray Abraham and Justin Timberlake co-star.

The Coens and producer Scott Rudin, reteaming after True Grit and No Country For Old Men, made the film without a domestic distributor; Studio Canal fully financed and is releasing in some international territories and brokering offshore deals in other territories. UTA negotiated the CBS Films deal on behalf of the filmmakers. Read More »

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Joel And Ethan Coen’s ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Gets Early Showing On Sony Lot

By | Monday February 11, 2013 @ 11:13am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Who says all the hot film acquisition action is taking place in Berlin?

The first screening of Inside Llewyn Davis quietly took place last Saturday night in a screening room on the Sony lot. That’s the new film by Joel and Ethan Coen that takes place in the folk-music circuit in downtown New York’s Greenwich Village in the 1960s. Re-teaming with True Grit and No Country For Old Men cohort Scott Rudin, the Coens made Inside Llewyn Davis without a domestic distributor; their only alignment was with Studio Canal, which fully financed. Now, it’s apparently time to hook a distributor for an Oscar-season berth. I’m told that the screening was informal and held for a music crowd by T-Bone Burnett, reps from most of the studios were there, except Paramount and The Weinstein Company. They’ve been in no hurry so far to make a deal, but don’t be surprised if a distributor locks this one down very quickly.

Inside Llewyn Davis stars Oscar Isaac and the cast includes Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Adam Driver, and Garrett Hedlund. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, here’s the first trailer cut for the pic:

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Hot Trailer: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

By | Thursday January 24, 2013 @ 10:55am PST

The latest from Joel and Ethan Coen stars Oscar Isaac as a singer-songwriter looking for a break in the 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene. It has yet to land at a distributor. The first Inside Llewyn Davis trailer arrived via an invitation to the film’s debut screening next month hosted by Nonesuch Records and T-Bone Burnett, who re-teams with the Coens on the music for Llewyn after earning five Grammys for his work on the duo’s O Brother Where Art Thou? Carey Mulligan reunites with Drive co-star Isaac in the film, which also stars John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, Justin Timberlake, F. Murray Abraham, and Adam Driver and Alex Karpovsky of HBO’s Girls.

Watch the video on YouTube

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FX Teams With Joel & Ethan Coen And Noah Hawley For Series Adaptation Of ‘Fargo’

By | Monday September 24, 2012 @ 4:35pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Joel and Ethan Coen are bringing one of their signatures movies to television. FX has closed a deal to develop Fargo, an hourlong project loosely based on the Coen brothers’ 1996 comedic crime drama. The Coens will serve as executive producers on the project, which will be written/executive produced by The Unusuals and My Generation creator Noah Hawley. Warren Littlefield also will executive the project, which will be co-produced by MGM Television and FX Prods.

The Fargo movie starred Frances McDormand as a pregnant Minnesota police chief who follows the trail of two bumbling criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) hired by a car salesman (William H. Macy) to kidnap his wife. The indie earned seven Oscar nominations, winning two statuettes — for the Coen brothers’ script and McDormand’s performance. (The Coens won three more Oscars for No Country For Old Men.) The title belongs to MGM’s library, making the project part of MGM TV’s strategy to mine the company’s catalogs for properties suitable for series adaptations/remakes. The company has the Teen Wolf reboot on MTV and recently announced it was teaming with American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe for Fame, a scripted series based on the 1980 MGM film and 1982 MGM TV series. MGM TV first attempted to adapt Fargo in 2003 with a pilot starring Edie Falco and directed by Kathy Bates, which was done without the Coen brothers’ participation. Read More »

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Scott Rudin Buys Film Rights To ‘The Marriage Plot’

By | Friday November 4, 2011 @ 2:44pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Using his own money, producer Scott Rudin has acquired screen rights to The Marriage Plot, the novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides that was published earlier this month by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. The novel is a love triangle about three Brown graduates in the early 1980s who wrestle with love, religion and coming of age. Eugenides previously wrote The Virgin Suicides and won the Pulitzer for Middlesex. Rudin produced the upcoming Oscar season films the David Fincher-directed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the Stephen Daldry-directed Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. He’s producing with Joel and Ethan Coen Inside Llewyn Davis, which begins production shortly. The author is repped by CAA and Janklow & Nesbit.

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Oscar Isaac Lands Lead In Coen Brothers 60s Folk Music Film

By | Thursday October 13, 2011 @ 6:29pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Oscar Isaac has landed the coveted lead role in the next film to be directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Inside Llewyn Davis, which is being made without a domestic distributor, focuses on the early folk music scene in Greenwich Village in the 60s. The Coens and their producing partner Scott Rudin are making it with only an alignment with Studio Canal, which will distribute in France and some other territories. The Coens wrote the script, and they have the usual number of stars lining up to play characters loosely based on folk singers like Dave Van Ronk and Tom Paxton. The brothers are also back in business with Rudin, their producing partner on the Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men and their last film, True Grit. Shooting will start early next year in New York.

Isaac is a fast rising actor who had a showy role in Drive and stars in the Madonna-directed W.E., is currently filming the Tony Gilroy-directed The Bourne Legacy with Jeremy Renner. Since the Coens began casting, every actor in Hollywood has been chasing these parts, so this is a real coup for Isaac. He’s repped by UTA, Inspire Entertainment and SMGSB.

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The Coen Brothers Enter Television With Hourlong Comedy At Fox From Imagine TV

By | Tuesday October 4, 2011 @ 5:04pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: In the highest-profile migration of feature talent to television so far this development season, Oscar-winning filmmakers Ethan Coen and Joel Coen are set to executive produce an hourlong single-camera comedy for Fox, which the two co-created with another feature writer, Phil Johnston (Cedar Rapids). The project, titled HarveKarbo, has received a script commitment with significant penalty from Fox. It hails from Imagine TV, whose principal Brian Grazer is credited with luring the Coen brothers to television. (Ethan and Joel Coen did their 2003 feature Intolerable Cruelty with Imagine). HarveKarbo, which will be written by Johnston, features the type of quirky, offbeat characters that have become a staple of the Coen brothers’ movies. It follows the title character — an ill-tempered LA private investigator whose cases frequently involve the depraved doings of the Hollywood elite — and his deadbeat friends in Los Angeles’ El Segundo. Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Johnston, Grazer and Francie Calfo are executive producing for Imagine TV and 20th Century Fox TV. Read More »

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Toronto TOLDJA!: CBS Films Closes U.S. Deal On ‘Salmon Fishing In The Yemen’

Mike Fleming

UPDATE 2, 7:03PM: CBS Films has just issued a press release confirming the acquisition:

TORONTO (September 12) – CBS Films announced today that they have acquired the U.S.distribution rights to SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN which made its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival this week. The announcement was made jointly today by CBS Films’ COO Wolfgang Hammer and EV Pof Acquisitions Scott Shooman.
Directed by Oscar©-nominee Lasse Hallström (Chocolat), SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is an extraordinary, beguiling tale of fly-fishing and politicalspinning, of unexpected heroism and late-blooming love and of an attempt toprove the impossible, possible. Ewan McGregor (Beginners) and Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau) star in the feature film alongside Oscar©-nominee Kristen ScottThomas (I’ve Loved You So Long).

Based on Paul Torday’s acclaimed novel, SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is written by Oscar©-winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and produced by Paul Webster (The Motorcycle Diaries) and executive produced by Jamie Laurenson, Stephen Garrett, Paula Jalfon, Zygi Kamasa and Guy Avshalom.
“I am so happy to have the support of the team at CBS Films for the distribution of our labor of love, ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. ’I had the best of times working on it with producer Paul Webster, writer Simon Beaufoy and the cast, Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, Amr Waked and Kristin Scott Thomas,” said Hallström.

“Lasse Hallström has done it again with this beautiful, heartwarming, and elegant picture. The performances are amazing from top to bottom,” commented Shooman who continued, “We are honored to have the opportunity to bring this extraordinary film to American audiences.”

UTA Independent Film Group set up the film’s financing and brokered the dealwith CBS Films.

 

UPDATE, 6:11PM: The deal has closed, and CBS Films has acquired U.S. rights to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Sources close to the buyer say it’s the $4 million that the sellers asked for, while sources close to the seller say it’s $5 million. Summit got the deal to that level. What’s clear is this is a healthy deal.

EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 12:26 PM: CBS Films is in advanced negotiations to reel in U.S. distribution rights to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, the Lasse Hallstrom-directed film that premiered last night at the Princess of Wales Theater. Fox Searchlight, Summit, Focus and Miramax have been circling, but CBS appears to be tying down the property for a low-seven-figure deal. Adapted by Simon Beaufoy from the Paul Torday novel, the film stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked, the latter playing a wealthy sheik who pays a fisheries scientist to stock a stream with trout. The sheik believes that fishing brings him closer to God, an experience he wants to share with his countrymen, despite the dangerous fact that some local leaders oppose it; there is a burgeoning love story between his British legal rep (Blunt) and the stuffy fisheries scientist (McGregor) who is locked in a dull marriage. Read More »

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Toronto: Coen Brothers Firm Next Film — Without Domestic Distributor

By | Friday September 9, 2011 @ 2:12pm PDT
Mike Fleming

If there is one thing that buyers at the Toronto Film Festival have lamented so far, it’s that many of the strongest titles were bought by distributors at script stage. Imagine the bidding that would occur if a Coen Brothers film would bring if it came to a festival without a partner? It could happen. Joel and Ethan Coen have their next film, and while the project has been on the rumor mill, the surprise is that Inside Llewyn Davis will be made without a domestic distribution partner. The film’s focus is the early folk music scene in Greenwich Village in the 60s, and the Coens and their producing partner Scott Rudin are making it with only an alignment with Studio Canal, which will distribute in France and some other territories, and look to sell the rest of foreign down the line. 

The Coens wrote the script, and they have the usual number of stars lining up to play characters loosely based on folk singers like Dave Van Ronk and Tom Paxton. The brothers are also back in business with Rudin, their producing partner on the Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men and their last film, True Grit. Shooting will start early next year in New York. Read More »

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A 14-Year ‘Gambit’ Finally Provides a Big Payoff For Producer Mike Lobell

Mike Fleming

Production begins today on Gambit, a caper comedy that stars Colin Firth as a London art curator who plans to con England’s richest man into buying a phony Monet painting. To do it, he enlists a Texas steer roper (Cameron Diaz) to pose as a woman whose grandfather liberated the painting at the end of WWII. Michael Hoffman is directing, Alan Rickman and Tom Courtenay also star, and it’s Firth’s first big job since winning the Best Actor Oscar for The King’s Speech. And the script was written by Oscar winners Joel and Ethan Coen. Isn’t Hollywood great, the way these things just magically come together?

Gambit actually took a remarkable 14 years to get to this point, a case study on how impossible it is for producers to succeed without infinite patience and an inability to comprehend the word “no.” These Don Quixote types are the only ones in the moviemaking equation who don’t cash big paychecks through the development process, collecting serious fees only when their movies get made. They have a harder road than ever, because cost-cutting studios have made first-look producer deals an endangered species. After all, producers are bringing them projects anyway. In the case of Gambit, the driving force has been producer Mike Lobell. A seasoned vet who has gotten 14 pictures made — The Freshman, Honeymoon in Vegas and Striptease among them — Lobell … Read More »

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CBS Films Acquires Colin Firth-Cameron Diaz Redo ‘Gambit’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Gambit. The film has a script by Joel and Ethan Coen, and Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz are set to star for The Last Station helmer Michael Hoffman. Firth plays an art curator who enlists a Texas rodeo queen in a scam to con England’s richest man. Shooting begins in London this May. The film is based on the 1966 Michael Caine-Shirley MacLaine British caper film.

Mike Lobell is producing with Crime Scene Pictures partners Adam Ripp and Rob Paris, and Rizal Risjad is exec producer. I’ve been writing about this movie for going on a decade, with Lobell  a tireless advocate for a picture that got close several times over the years. Now, the movie seems charmed, with Firth coming off The King’s Speech and his Academy Award for Best Actor. Diaz just starred in Bad Teacher. The picture was funded by Crime Scene. Financing was arranged by CAA, which brokered the domestic distribution deal.

CBS Films is becoming an increasingly busy player in the acquisition circuit after the success of the remake The Mechanic. Those acquisitions are meant to bolster CBS’ slate of homegrown pictures that includes the recent release Beastly.

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‘True Grit’ Co-Financier Skydance Targets ‘Star Blazers’ For Christopher McQuarrie

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: David Ellison’s Skydance Productions is negotiating a rights deal to turn the 1970s animated science fiction TV series Star Blazers into a large scale live action feature. Ellison will hire Christopher McQuarrie to write the script, with Ellison and Josh C. Kline producing with McQuarrie. The series was based on the Japanese anime series Space Battleship Yamato. Both are described as “space opera,” involving alien invasions, the near extinction of the human race, and a last dash journey through space to save the planet.

Ellison started Skydance with hopes he could emulate the studio-aligned-producer-who-can-put-up-50% model that Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures has succeeded with at Warner Bros. Ellison made a deal with Paramount Pictures in late 2009 to co-finance four to six pictures per year, and then raised a reported $350 million in debt and equity funding. His Paramount deal has gotten off to a flying start: Skydance funded half of True Grit, the $30 million Joel and Ethan Coen-directed Western that is up for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture. More importantly to Ellison’s investors, True Grit has so far grossed $165 million domestic, with foreign still rolling out.

Ellison is the son of Oracle founder Larry Ellison and an accomplished acrobatic pilot who has a particular appetite for aviation projects (though his first foray as actor-producer, the Tony Bill-directed Flyboys, landed … Read More »

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