Palm Springs, CA (November 22, 2013) – The 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present Academy Award® winning actress Julia Roberts with the Spotlight Award for August: Osage County at its annual Awards Gala. The Gala will also present awards to previously announced honorees Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern, Matthew McConaughey and Steve McQueen. Presented by Cartier and hosted by Mary Hart, the Awards Gala will be held Saturday, January 4 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The Festival runs January 3-13, 2014.
There’s no question about it. Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award For Excellence In Comedy winner Sacha Baron Cohen stole the BAFTA-LA ‘s annual Britannia Awards Saturday night with a comedy routine that had half the packed Beverly Hilton audience roaring and the other half shaking in their Jimmy Choos wondering if he had really just killed an elderly woman in a wheelchair – or was it one of his patented tasteless gags? You can see for yourself when the show airs Sunday night on BBC America but the reaction was so visceral in the room host Rob Brydon had to literally calm down the normally more sedate British crowd. Some clearly thought it was real.
At any rate, the bit made the awards gathering memorable for reasons organizers probably didn’t imagine. One BAFTA exec told me later that they were up until 3 AM just trying to clear all the legalities of Cohen’s acceptance bit which involved presenter Salma Hayek on stage with someone rolled out in a wheelchair she very believably identified as Grace Collington, an actress she said appeared with Charlie Chaplin in 1931′s City Lights at the age of five. “At 87, she’s the oldest surviving actor to have worked with Chaplin in a silent movie,” she told the audience as the woman sat there. When Cohen came up to accept his award from them, “Collington” warmly presented him with one of Chaplin’s famous canes. He then proceeded to push her off the stage and she landed face down, motionless and apparently dead on the ground. “Grace Collington is the oldest, sorry, was the oldest… I dedicate my award to her. It’s obviously a tragedy, but on the bright side what a great way to go. She’ll probably make the Oscars In Memoriam section… Anyway tonight is not about her, it’s about me,” he said as the limp body was carried out of the ballroom to rollicking laughter of the sort you rarely hear at these events.
Toronto: Weinstein’s Premiere Marathon Delivers Huge Reaction For Oscar-Bait ‘August: Osage County’ – But Will It Divide Audiences?
Just call it Weinstein Premiere-O-Rama. The company launched four movies with splashy galas at the Toronto International Film Festival in the span of 48 hours (is this some sort of weird record?). That included Saturday night’s Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom World Premiere, Sunday’s North American launch of Philomena and last night’s World Premieres of August: Osage County and One Chance directly against each other. When I saw Harvey Weinstein at the combined Soho House after-party for the Monday films I told him he obviously loves Toronto. He was moving fast between his movies showing up everywhere, including on stage for August before it began. ”Everything came together and we just thought this would be the perfect way to get these films out there,” he said clearly beaming at the reaction.
All the films won standing ovations, not uncommon in movie-friendly Toronto (people like getting up on their feet here) but even by those standards the raucous, prolonged standing O for August: Osage County was definitely the most enthusiastic I have encountered at this year’s fest. And the John Wells-directed movie adaptation of actor/writer Tracy Letts’ Tony-winning Midwestern-set Broadway play about a dysfunctional family to end all dysfunctional families played like gangbusters with much audible reaction throughout. Star Meryl Streep was a last-minute cancellation due to illness and co-producer George Clooney (with Grant Heslov) didn’t make the trek to Canada for this film or Gravity in which he co-stars with Sandra Bullock since he was back in L.A. still working on posting his latest directorial gig, Monuments Men as well as shooting Disney’s Tomorrowland. But most of the cast was there including Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper, Julianne Nicholson, Abigail Breslin, Dermot Mulroney and Julia Roberts, clearly the belle of this ball. When I spoke with her afterwards she was definitely on cloud nine over the reaction the film received and obviously excited to be working with this cast and opposite Streep who manages to do the impossible and tops Streep as the bitterly funny, bitingly caustic mother who lets it rip, particularly in the film’s (and the play’s ) signature dinner scene. Roberts is also at her best and both should be major Oscar contenders in the impossibly crowded lead actress category. This would make nomination #18 for Streep. Could anyone ever top her own record?
The 2013 Toronto Film Festival gets underway in full force later tonight with the world premiere of DreamWorks’ awards hopeful The Fifth Estate from director Bill Condon. The fest will show off approximately 300 films by the time it wraps September 15 with the closing-night film, Life Of Crime. That movie, up for acquisition, stars Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes and Tim Robbins and has added heat since its selection as the closer. It represents the last movie in which the late author Elmore Leonard, an executive producer, was involved.
Among the true world premieres here — films that haven’t already been world premieres in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Sundance or Telluride — the most anticipated outside of the acquisition titles are those mostly sight-unseen movies expected to become major players in the awards race. They include August: Osage Country, which will be unveiled at a starry gala Monday that will include Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts; Ron Howard’s terrific car racing drama Rush, launching Sunday; Dallas Buyers Club with a buzzed-about turn from Matthew McConaughey on Saturday night; Nicole Holofcener’s romantic comedy Enough Said starring Emmy-winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus and repping one of the final films of James Gandolfini, on Saturday afternoon; Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, the story of the young Nelson Mandela with Idris Elba in the lead, early Saturday evening; and David Frankel’s One Chance, a crowd-pleaser about the Britain’s Got Talent winning opera singer Paul Potts that could be a big player in the Golden Globe Musical or Comedy race (see the trailer for that one here). One of its producers is Simon Cowell, and it screens Monday night. And although Spike Jonze’s December entry Her won’t be debuting until it closes the New York Film Festival on October 13, key press will be given a preview of clips along with a conversation with Jonze on Sunday afternoon as Warner Bros tries to put the Amy Adams-Joaquin Phoenix picture into the awards conversation coming out of Toronto.
As previously noted, several contenders that played Telluride, Venice or Cannes such as All Is Lost, Inside Llewyn Davis and Nebraska are skipping Toronto altogether in favor of turning up next at NYFF later this month. By the way, Nebraska really popped at Telluride, a consensus favorite there doing even better than it did in Cannes competition. Director Alexander Payne told me he “tinkered” with the film for some time after its Cannes debut to get it to the place he wanted. Obviously he made the right choice. This one looks like it could be a major player at the Oscars — you can just feel it. “People just want a comedy right now, ” explained a modest Payne about the reception it received in the Rockies last week.
Toronto organizers shouldn’t be crying in their soup over pictures they didn’t get. This fest, once known as the Festival of Festivals, is already impossibly overcrowded. It’s like Cannes on steroids with way too much for any one person to see. You have to make Solomon-like choices if you want to cover Toronto in all its glory. I say thank god for Cannes and Telluride as it gives me a head start.
EXCLUSIVE: This past summer, Lifetime picked up Devious Maids, Marc Cherry’s follow-up to Desperate Housewives. Now the cable network has added to its development slate Paranormal Housewives, a light drama executive produced by Julia Roberts, her longtime collaborator Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas as well as Robyn Meisinger of Madhouse Entertainment. Written/exec produced by Miss Congeniality scribe Katie Ford, it is about an all-female group of paranormal investigators who call themselves The Paranormal Housewives. The show is inspired by the real Paranormal Housewives, a Southern California group of female professional paranormal investigators. It was launched in 2010 by Erin Potter and her friends Kirsten Thorne and Marsha Covert-Garcia in part as a response to their field being dominated by male investigators.
‘Hunger Games’ Passing $250M Domestic For #1 Again, #2 ‘Wrath Of The Titans’ Can’t Beat Original, #3 ‘Mirror Mirror’ Disappoints
March 30-April 1 Weekend Actuals
1. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) Week 2 [4,137 Theaters] PG13
Friday $18.7M, Saturday $24.7M, Sunday $15.2M, Weekend $58.6M (-62%), Cume $248.5M
2. Wrath Of The Titans 3D (Legendary/Warner) NEW [3,545 Theaters] PG13
Friday $12.3M, Saturday $12.7M, Sunday $8.4M, Weekend $33.5M
3. Mirror Mirror (Relativity) NEW [3,603 Theaters] PG
Friday $5.8M, Saturday $7.6M, Sunday $4.7M, Weekend $18.1M
4. 21 Jump Street (MGM/Sony) Week 3 [3,148 Theaters] R
Friday $4.6M, Saturday $6.3M, Sunday $4.0M, Weekend $14.8M (-28%), Cume $92.9M
5. Dr Seuss’ The Lorax 3D (Universal) Week 5 [3,264 Theaters] PG
Friday $2.1M, Saturday $3.5M, Sunday $2.2M, Weekend $7.8M (-41%), Cume $189.3M
6. John Carter 3D (Disney) Week 4 [2,397 Theaters] PG13
Friday $544K, Saturday $892K, Sunday $593K, Weekend $2.0M (-60%), Cume $66.2M
7. Salmon Fishing in Yemen (CBS) Week 4 [483 Theaters] PG13
Friday $345K, Saturday $592K, Sunday $336K, Weekend $1.3M (+81%), Cume $3.2M
8. Act Of Valor (Relativity) Week 6 [1,239 Theaters] R
Friday $291K, Saturday $445K, Sunday $266K Weekend $1.0M (-51%), Cume $67.7M
9. A Thousand Words (Dworks/Par) Week 4 [1,007 Theaters] PG13
Friday $241K, Saturday $428K, Sunday $233K, Weekend $903K, Cume $16.5M
10. Journey 2 (Warner Bros) Week 8 [908 Theaters] PG
Friday $215K, Saturday $361K, Sunday $234K, Weekend $810K, Cume $98.4M
SUNDAY AM, 8TH UPDATE: It’s another huge weekend for the North American box office with $150M, or +25% from last year. Lionsgate’s humongous holdover The Hunger Games won the weekend domestically and nearly internationally again despite two new major releases opening against it. Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures’ 3D action fantasy sequel Wrath Of The Titans failed to come close to the original’s grosses, while Relativity Media’s Snow White comedy Mirror Mirror failed to lure families. Both received ‘B+’ CinemaScores from audiences even if critics were at best lukewarm. Meanwhile, we now know how low Disney’s $200M writeoff John Carter will go: it will be lucky to reach $70M domestic. Starting its 4th weekend in release, this disaster is already discounted at Valley Plaza 6 in Van Nuys for $2 before 6 PM and $3 after.
This weekend’s Top 5 films (rest of Top 10 below)
1. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) Week 2 [4,137 Theaters] PG13-Rated
Friday $18.8M, Saturday $26.2M, Weekend $61.1M (-60%), Cume $251.0M
2. Wrath Of The Titans 3D (Legendary/Warner) NEW [3,545 Theaters] PG13-Rated
Friday $12.4M, Saturday $13M, Weekend $34.6M
3. Mirror Mirror (Relativity) NEW [3,603 Theaters] PG-Rated
Friday $5.8M, Saturday $7.9M, Weekend $19.3M
4. 21 Jump Street (MGM/Sony) Week 3 [3,148 Theaters] R-rated
Friday $4.6M, Saturday $6.2M, Weekend $14.8M, Cume $92.8M
5. Dr Seuss’ The Lorax 3D (Universal) Week 5 [3,264 Theaters] PG-rated
Friday $2.0M, Saturday $3.7M, Weekend $8.3M, Cume $189.8M
The Hunger Games passed $200M Friday and $250M by weekend’s end. Even more impressive is that the actioner is currently the #1 movie and #1 book and #1 album in America. (The studio just cut an online-only spot with those trifecta bragging rights.) Pic played in the same 4,137 locations this weekend but with a lower screen count because of the end to its limited one-week engagement on all IMAX screens. The film held extremely well during the week, with a record breaking Monday of $10.8M. Second wave promotion exploited this second weekend’s adult curiosity about the movie. Heck, even GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney went to see Hunger Games with his family. “From Presidential candidates to talk show hosts, it seemed everyone was talking about the film publicly,” studio boasts to me.
Though Wrath Of The Titans certainly looked better than 2010′s Clash Of The Titans whose retrofitted 3D was deemed sub-par, its critical reviews fared far worse — only 25% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. Its projected weekend gross (including $1M from 1,490 domestic midnight screenings) was in line with studio expectations. But that’s still far short of the original’s $61.2M opening weekend. Then again the original made 2/3s of its money overseas ($332M of the total $495M cume) and this sequel should, too, to justify its $150M bloated cost. The PG-13 pic released day and date as a worldwide event in 60 territories and on approximately 13,900 screens (9,766 3D and 175 IMAX) in all major markets with the exception of Japan. “We’re off to a great start, with $18M on Friday for a progressive cume to date of $25M internationally,” Warner Bros tells me. In Mexico and Brazil, for instance, Wrath Of The Titans was ranked a strong #1 ahead of The Hunger Games.
In the U.S. and Canada, actioner debuts in 3,545 locations with 2,900 3D locations, 4,400 3D screens, and 290 IMAX locations. As expected, there’s very strong male support both young and older but the sequel’s marketing around “Feel The Wrath” didn’t have the campy coolness quotient of the original’s “Release The Kraken” campaign featuring Liam Neeson. And Avatar‘s Sam Worthington has proven he isn’t a box office draw. (Remember, he failed to open Man On A Ledge.)
Warner Bros positioned Wrath Of The Titans to target younger and older males including ethnic audiences with “an aggressive approach that sold the intensity of the action and the spectacular creature battles, all with great visuals and compelling music,” an exec tells me. Clearly March as a whole, and this pre-Easter weekend in particular, is now as competitive as summer or holiday periods for sizable event films despite distractions like the NCAA Final Four. The studio’s marketing strategy relied on an aggressive TV schedule and online content combined with more compelling 3D. After Jonathan Liebesman replaced Louis Leterrier as director on the 2nd installment, the sequel was supposed to be shot in 3D. But then Liebesman announced that Wrath of the Titans would be converted rather than shot in 3D even though that had been a big bone of contention with fans of the original. To reduce skepticism, Liebesman reminded that the first film Clash Of The Titans had been shot and edited as a 2D film and then converted to 3D just a few weeks before release. Whereas Wrath was conceived in 3D from the start right through editing. Even the most contrary reviews say the film is much better-looking than the original thanks to Prime Focus World, which did the original 3D as well as the sequel’s. Reception to story was decidedly mixed. Screenplay credit went to Dan Mazeau and David Johnson who also received story credit with Greg Berlanti.
As for Mirror Mirror, its $85M cost was piggybacked by a very expensive full-frills TV ad campaign that didn’t justify its disappointing $19M domestic debut. That number was below even the studio’s lowball expectations. As usual, Relativity claims its actual exposure on the film was far less — “just under $30M” — after foreign pre-sales, Montreal tax incentives, and its Netflix deal. On the other hand, Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh is newly beholden to investors like savvy Ron Burkle who may not be as patient with razor-thin profit margins as Elliott Associates once was. One thing is certain: Mirror Mirror is the opposite of the “Hail Mary” blockbuster which Kavanaugh hoped it would be to dig Relativity out of its financial mess. I’m not sure how director Tarsem Singh justifies a career trajectory that starts out with visually arresting The Cell and The Fall, continues through Immortals, and ends up here. Or why star Julia Roberts banked her cold career comeback on this hot mess. What the movie does is audaciously play the Brothers Grimm story for lame laughs. It’s 180 degrees different from Universal’s much anticipated Snow White & The Huntsman adult swordfest releasing June 1st though the two projects were developed at the same time. But Mirror Mirror‘s target audience is kids ages 6-12 and their parents. Now the studio hopes that, with schools out next week and the week after for Easter vacation, its pic won’t be played out this weekend. Overseas, the film has already opened in a dozen territories and this weekend debuted day and date in a dozen more.
Marketing-wise, Relativity partnered with Bloomspot, a leader in the local offer space, to launch on March 24th a first-ever promotional screening program for the member base in 11 U.S. markets: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC. Relativity also initiated promotions in the top 50 markets. Key digital initiatives included Annoying Orange (You Tuber), Social Queen video, parent blogging, a Snow Spell featurette on ParentsConnect.com, integrated gaming expériences on top sites targeting children like Poptropica.com, Nick.com, GirlsGoGames.com, Webkinz.com, as well as mobile apps targeted to young girls. Relativity Music Group released the original motion picture soundtrack for Mirror Mirror on March 27th and included an original score by 8-time Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, along with two new versions of the reworked Nina Hart song “I Believe in Love” performed by the film’s Lily Collins (The Blind Side) that plays over the end credits. Credits on the screen story go to Melisa Wallack and the screenplay to Marc Klein and Jason Keller.
In other box office news, the CBS Films pickup, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, cracked the Top Ten for the first time while playing in just 483 locations. Studio stresses that the film performed much better than other current and recent platform expansions at this level. “The most interesting data point is that holdover theaters (124 existing locations) were down only 18% from last week. In fact, just like last weekend, several of the top twenty runs were actually up from the previous Friday.” CBS Films will keep rolling out the pic in the weeks ahead to see how long the Salmon can run…
Here is the rest of the Top Ten with numbers refining later Sunday morning:
Last week we got a glimpse of Universal’s Snow White And The Huntsman directed by Rupert Sanders. The first trailer for Tarsem Singh’s take on the fairy tale arrived today. Relativity’s Mirror Mirror will make it to theaters March 16 ahead of Universal’s version set for June 1.
EXCLUSIVE: Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas is joining 3 Arts as a manager/producer, returning to the rep business after 11 years. Once a high-powered dealmaker at ICM best known for guiding Julia Roberts from unknown to $20 million a picture as the world’s biggest female star, Goldsmith-Thomas left ICM in 2000 to run Revolution Studios East for Joe Roth and supervise films under Roberts’ production deal there. She has been a full-time producer since Revolution folded. An agent for more than 15 years at WMA and ICM, Goldsmith-Thomas also repped Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Connelly, Madonna and Darren Star.
The obvious question is whether she will be rejoined by Roberts, who went to CAA not long after Goldsmith-Thomas left. Goldsmith-Thomas said she comes to 3 Arts without any clients. While producing, she continued to give career advice when asked, but referred talent to agencies and management companies for years even as people asked why she wasn’t building a client list. She decided months ago to explore a return but was reticent to resurface as an agent. It would be hard returning to a job she left behind, and she never liked the poaching part of that game. She also didn’t want to give up producing, which agents can’t do. After meeting with 3 Arts’ Erwin Stoff, Goldsmith-Thomas felt she’d found the right fit. She will operate out of the management/production company’s New York base, where Richard Abate manages authors and runs the book department and Avi Gilbert manages stand-up comics.
“I’ve always loved the architecture of careers, and I missed working with colleagues in breaking down walls that have gotten thicker,” Goldsmith-Thomas told me. “I think it’s a mistake when people try to re-create the same career they had. I love what I’m doing now, and I see this as a complement.”
When Horrible Bosses passed the $100 million worldwide gross mark recently, it became the eighth film in the last eight years to hit that milestone with Jennifer Aniston in a starring role. Right now, only a few actresses mean much at the box office, a list that includes Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon and Katherine Heigl. Has Aniston quietly joined that group?
While Aniston hasn’t had to carry all of those films, her worldwide gross track record compares favorably to the other actresses over the same eight-year period. Aside from Horrible Bosses, Just Go With It, The Bounty Hunter, He’s Just Not That Into You, Marley & Me, The Break-Up, Along Came Polly and Bruce Almighty all passed the $100 million mark worldwide. Over the same corresponding period, only Jolie had that many cross the $100 million WW mark. I didn’t count animated films, but for Jolie I did include Beowulf, because she gave a performance that was converted to performance capture format. Jolie’s other films that passed $100 million worldwide in the last eight years: The Tourist, Salt, Wanted, Changeling, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Alexander, and the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider sequel.
Roberts had six films cross $100 million worldwide in the last eight years: Eat Pray Love, Valentine’s Day, Charlie Wilson’s War, Ocean’s 12, Closer and Mona Lisa Smile. Earlier in her career, her films routinely became blockbusters, when she was clearly Hollywood’s top actress.
Streep, who’s in her 60s, has become as bankable as any female star this side of Jolie. She has had five films cross $100 million in worldwide grosses in the last eight years: It’s Complicated, Julie & Julia, Mamma Mia!, The Devil Wears Prada and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Heigl had four of her films cross $100 million worldwide, all since her movie career was launched by 2007′s Knocked Up. Since that movie crossed $100 million WW, 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth and Life As We Know It also passed the mark, and Killers barely missed.
Here is a first look at Lily Collins in the untitled Snow White film that Relativity Media has mounted for March 16, 2012 release, with Julia Roberts and Armie Hammer also starring for director Tarsem Singh. That puts Relativity Media in the lead against the rival Snow White and The …
On his Twitter account, Tom Hanks just debuted Employee Of The Month, a new trailer for Larry Crowne, the film he co-wrote, directed and starred in with Julia Roberts. Universal releases it July 1. It’s only the second feature Hanks has directed, after making his debut on 1996′s That Thing …