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‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Filmmakers Deny Claims White House Provided Classified Info

By | Monday November 26, 2012 @ 3:00pm PST

Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal said in an interview to air tonight on ABC’s Nightline that no classified documents were used in the making of Zero Dark Thirty, which details the Navy SEAL mission that killed Osama bin Laden. The pair told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz that claims they received top-secret help from the Obama administration on the details of the raid came down to partisan politics. “I certainly did a lot of homework, but I never asked for classified materials; to my knowledge, I never received any”, Boal said. “And I think as far as the controversy goes, you know, how can I put this — it was an election year. It was surreal and bizarre to have … I mean there were major players in the Republican Party characterizing the script and the movie before I had written a word, and I found that just really baffling”.

Related: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Debuts: Can It Overcome Controversy To Wow Oscar Voters?

Boal did tell Nightline that he spoke to people with intimate knowledge of the Navy SEAL mission, including some in the military and the CIA, but that their identities are shielded in the film. “They were proud of what they had done, but they had more or less resigned themselves to the fact that what they had done is not something they could talk about publicly,” he said. “But one of the things a movie allows people to do is talk in a way that is a little bit freer because they know that movies can change the way people look, [and] that I don’t have quite the same standards of having to reveal sources as I would if I was, let’s say, running a front-page piece in the New York Times.” Read More »

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‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Debuts: Can It Overcome Controversy To Wow Oscar Voters?

By | Sunday November 25, 2012 @ 10:20pm PST
Pete Hammond

And the hits just keep on coming. After a dry first nine months of the year, the Oscar season is heating up with one sensational contender after another. In the first half of Thanksgiving weekend, Les Miserables put itself firmly in the leading tier of the race. Now Sony Pictures’ surefire Best Picture nominee Zero Dark Thirty took over the latter half of the holiday. It earned enthusiastic standing ovations for star Jessica Chastain and director Kathryn Bigelow at a Sunday unveiling (the first major screening) at LA’s Pacific Design Center. Shrouded in controversy throughout its pre-production and shooting stages, this riveting story of the hunt for Osama bin Laden had quite a checkered history in coming to the screen. As Oscar-winning screenwriter Mark Boal explained in the Q&A following the film, he and Bigelow had been developing for the better part of a decade the story of how bin Laden eluded capture and most likely would never be caught. Then suddenly in 2011 he was nailed. That changed the whole trajectory of their story, and Zero Dark Thirty suddenly became a movie about his ultimate capture and killing.

Related: Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond, Episode 1

It’s a remarkable effort on the part of Boal and Bigelow, who won Oscars for their acclaimed The Hurt Locker three years ago. I would venture to say they will be back in the race again this year for this follow-up effort which should figure strongly in the Best Picture, Actress (for Chastain), Director, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, Cinematography, Sound Mixing and Editing and Music Score (a haunting underscore by Alexander Desplat) categories. Talk on editorial pages and among moviegoers upon its limited December 19th opening — followed by a January wide break — will only add to the Oscar potential here, with critics groups year-end honors also likely to figure into the picture.

This is turning into a hell of an Oscar race. Strategists were hoping that many of the November-December releases would fall by the wayside and clear the way for earlier contenders like Argo and Toronto sensation Silver Linings Playbook, but clearly the late-innings flicks are delivering big time, clouding the picture and adding an unusual amount of mystery to the race. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

By | Thursday October 11, 2012 @ 4:36pm PDT

Here’s the newest trailer for the Kathryn Bigelow-directed drama Zero Dark Thirty that chronicles the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden by the U.S. and CIA operatives, ending with the May 2, 2011 raid by Navy Seal Team 6 and the bin Laden’s death. Mark Boal penned the script. The Sony pic, starring Jessica Chastain, Chris Pratt and Joel Edgerton, is scheduled for release December 19.

Related: Kathryn Bigelow Bin Laden Film Getting DC Scrutiny

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Kathryn Bigelow, Summit Fight Back In ‘Hurt Locker’ Suit With Army Vet

The Oscar winning director, the studio and screenwriter Mark Boal say the First Amendment protects them in use of elements of Jeffrey Sarver’s life in The Hurt Locker. “By any reasonable measure, the film must be considered a ‘transformative’ work of artistic expression that is protected by the First Amendment,” they said in an 87-page brief (read it here) submitted earlier this week to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief goes on to say that there are only “generic similarities” between Sarver and the William James character played by Jeremy Renner in the 2008 film. This case may sound familiar. The former US Army explosive technician Master Sargent had his initial invasion of privacy 2010 suit against Bigelow, Boal and others dismissed in October 2011. At that time, Sarver was ordered to pay $187,000 in lawyers’ fees to Bigelow, Boal, Summit and the Hurt Locker production. The former Master Sgt. appealed that ruling last November. In his own brief (read it here) filed on July 2 against Playboy as well as Bigelow, Boal and others, the veteran claimed that the film’s use of his life was not transformative at all, that it violated his right of publicity and First Amendment rights have to balanced against his own right of privacy. Bigelow, Boal and Summit’s lawyers disagree. “Appellant cannot state a cause of action for … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

By | Monday August 6, 2012 @ 10:46am PDT

Here’s a first look at the Kathryn Bigelow-directed drama Zero Dark Thirty — the story of the Navy Seal Team 6′s hunt for Osama Bin Laden, which ended on May 2, 2011 with the terrorist leader’s death. Mark Boal penned the script. The pic, starring Jessica Chastain, Chris Pratt and Joel Edgerton, is scheduled for release on December 19.

Watch This Trailer On YouTube

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Mark Duplass Joins Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

By | Tuesday May 22, 2012 @ 8:14am PDT
Mike Fleming

Mark Duplass has been set in a key supporting role in Zero Dark Thirty, the Kathryn Bigelow-directed drama about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden for Sony Pictures. Duplass, just attached to star with Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Aniston in Convention, will next be seen in Safety Not Guaranteed, Your Sister’s Sister and the Alex Kurtzman-directed People Like Us.

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Universal Pictures Acquires International Rights To Kathryn Bigelow’s Bin Laden Pic

By | Tuesday May 15, 2012 @ 1:10pm PDT

Los Angeles, CA, May 15, 2012—Universal Pictures International (UPI) today announced that the studio has acquired select international distribution rights to Annapurna Pictures’ and Academy Award®-winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s upcoming feature film based on the true story of the team that hunted and eventually killed Osama bin Laden. Rights were acquired from Panorama Media, who is serving as the film’s international sales agent. The Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Project reunites Bigelow with her The Hurt Locker screenwriter Mark Boal. UPI will distribute the Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Project in the U.K., France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Scandinavia, South Africa and Spain.

The cast of the Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Project includes Academy Award®-nominee Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Jason Clarke, Mark Strong, Edgar Ramirez, Chris Pratt, Kyle Chandler, Nash Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle and Harold Perrineau Jr. Bigelow and Boal will produce alongside Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures. Greg Shapiro, Ted Schipper and Colin Wilson will serve as executive producers.

Sony Pictures will release the film in the United States on December 19, 2012.

Kathryn Bigelow’s Hunt For Bin Laden Pic Hit With Protests In India
Kathryn Bigelow Bin Laden Film Getting DC Scrutiny

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Kathryn Bigelow’s Hunt For Bin Laden Pic Hit With Protests In India, Gets Working Title ‘Zero Dark Thirty’: Reports

Members of the right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad group stormed the set of Kathryn Bigelow’s hunt for Osama bin Laden film in the Indian city of Chandigarh today, protesting the portrayal of Muslim culture in India, according to reports. Bigelow’s crew had been shooting there for four days although the director is understood not to have been on set during the unrest. Bin Laden was killed by a Navy SEAL team in Abbottabad, Pakistan last year, but unable to shoot there, the Sony Pictures and Annapurna Pictures film is instead using Chandigarh as a stand-in for Lahore — and the Hindu radicals are against the filmmakers portraying their sworn enemy Pakistan on Indian soil. (Since 1947, Muslim Pakistan and predominantly Hindu India have fought 3 wars and remain wary of one another.) Vijay Bhardwaj, a leader of the VHP, told Reuters, “We will not let them put Pakistani flags here and we will not let them shoot for the film.” A member of the crew told AFP that talks had been held with the Hindu protestors to try to defuse the situation. “Nothing has been shut down. We are still filming and will continue to do so,” the person said. Read More »

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Harold Perrineau Joins Sony Pictures’ ‘Bin Laden’

By | Thursday February 23, 2012 @ 10:18am PST

Osama Bin Laden MovieEXCLUSIVE: Directed by Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow from a script by Mark Boal, Harold Perrineau‘s role is being kept secret as with other cast in the film. Kyle Chandler, Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton and Chris Pratt are also set to star in the film which focuses on Navy SEAL Team 6′s long hunt for Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, who was killed last year, nearly a decade after ordering the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. Sony Pictures has slated a December 19th release in order to stay clear of the U.S. presidential elections in November. Perrineau recently starred in the Nicholas Cage thriller Seeking Justice in addition to starring in TV’s Lost. He is repped by APA.

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Kyle Chandler Joining Kathryn Bigelow’s Hunt For Bin Laden Picture

By | Friday February 17, 2012 @ 1:05pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Kyle Chandler is the latest name to join the ensemble of the untitled Kathryn Bigelow-directed drama about the Navy SEAL Team 6′s long hunt for Osama bin Laden. That hunt culminated with the fatal shooting last year of the Al-Qaeda leader and mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I’ve heard that Chandler will be playing a CIA agent, but nobody has confirmed any of the cast Deadline has revealed on the film, so you’ll have to take my word for it. The Mark Boal-scripted drama for Sony Pictures and Annapurna Pictures stars Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong and Edgar Ramirez. The picture is moving forward even as the Pentagon announced it is investigating charges made by Rep. Peter King that Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker tandem Bigelow and Boal somehow got inside information about the mission from the Obama administration in preparing the script. Sony Pictures has dated the film for release on December 19, deliberately steering clear of the presidential elections. Read More »

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Kathryn Bigelow’s Bin Laden Movie Looking To Add Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong And Edgar Ramirez To Killer Cast

By | Thursday January 5, 2012 @ 4:32pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: While the Republicans keep kicking Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s Bin Laden movie around like a political football, Annapurna Pictures and Sony Pictures are ready to get the mission underway. I’m told that Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong and Edgar Ramirez are circling to join the previously discussed ensemble cast of Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton and Chris Pratt.

The drama portrays Navy SEAL Team 6′s long hunt for the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Osama Bin Laden was finally killed in a covert mission last year. Reports today assert that the Pentagon will investigate charges made by Rep Peter King that Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker tandem Bigelow and Boal somehow got inside information about the mission from the Obama Administration in preparing the script. This saber rattling hasn’t affected the film’s progress: the script is now finished and the film is going forward. Sony Pictures has dated the film for release on December 19, deliberately steering clear of the Presidential Elections.

The prospect of Chastain joining the Bin Laden film has cast doubt on whether she will star alongside Tom Cruise in Universal’s Oblivion, which shoots in March. They apparently are trying to work out dates, but two informed sources tell me it looks dicey at the moment that she’ll do Oblivion. Chastain, who today was announced as star of a revival … Read More »

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Jason Clarke Lands Kathryn Bigelow’s Bin Laden Film; Elite Cast Circling Other Roles

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Jason Clarke is the first actor set for the Kathryn Bigelow-directed drama about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden for Sony Pictures and Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. An elite group of actors is being courted for the ensemble. I’m told that Clarke–who stars in the Ellison-produced The Wettest County in the World and is playing the gas station owner George Wilson in the Baz Luhrmann-directed The Great Gatsby–will play a terrorist hunter in service of the U.S. efforts to hunt Bin Laden. Also being discussed for roles are Tom Hardy (who also stars in Wettest County), Jennifer Ehle (Contagion), Guy Pearce (who starred in Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker), Idris Elba, Rooney Mara (upcoming Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Nina Arianda (Midnight In Paris). The plan is to start production early next year, so availability could be an issue for some of the actors. Mark Boal wrote the script and is producing with Ellison and Greg Shapiro.

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OSCARS: ‘J. Edgar’ Campaign Rolls Into High Gear With Eastwood, DiCaprio, Watts, Hammer At Packed Screenings, Q&As

Pete Hammond

With its splashy world premiere as the opening-night film of AFI Fest on Thursday and a series of Q&As and receptions, Warner Bros’ campaign for J. Edgar — one of its big Oscar hopefuls — swung into high gear this week. In addition to the hoopla around the premiere, director Clint Eastwood did a DGA screening and discussion with Academy directing governor and fellow DGA and Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow on Tuesday night; stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts and Armie Hammer appeared for a Q&A in front of a packed-to-the-rafters SAG audience on Wednesday night (I moderated that one); and on Friday they all appeared for yet another screening, Q&A and reception at the LA County Art Museum. The latter was a prelude to Saturday night’s inaugural Art + Film gala, where Eastwood is being honored. Warners plans many more voter opps like these in the coming weeks.

First reviews of the film that opens next week are mixed to good depending on what you read and who you talk to (Rotten Tomatoes has it at 57% fresh, but only seven reviews are up so far). But it is done in classic and classy Eastwood style and, whatever the ultimate commercial and critical fate of the film, it is absolutely clear DiCaprio has a strong stake on a Best Actor Oscar nomination. As the complex and controversial FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, DiCaprio ages from his 20s to late 70s with seeming ease and has some heavy dramatic scenes — including one in which he dons his dead mother’s dress and another fight/kiss encounter with Hammer, who expertly plays his constant companion Clyde Tolson (and could be a Supporting Actor contender himself). Older Academy voters who remember Hoover should particularly respond to this well-crafted look at his complicated personal and professional life. Read More »

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Bin Laden Film Moving After 2012 Election?

By | Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 3:21am PDT

No decision has been made yet. But studio sources say it “looks likely” that Sony Pictures, which had scheduled its hunt-for-bin Laden film for release October 12th, is moving it to later in 2012 or into 2013. That puts it after the 2012 election and ensures that the film won’t become a so-called “October surprise” and boost President Obama’s re-election chances by reminding voters that his administration caught and killed the al-Qaeda leader. Doubtful this will quiet all the partisan political talk in Washington and Hollywood about the Mark Boal-Kathryn Bigelow film.

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Kathryn Bigelow Bin Laden Film Getting DC Scrutiny

By | Wednesday August 10, 2011 @ 1:41pm PDT
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Congressman Peter King has stated his reason for asking for an investigation. The letter appears below the original text.

BREAKING: New York-based congressman Peter King has called for an investigation into the Obama Administration’s cooperation with the untitled movie that The Hurt Locker’s Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal are making about Navy SEAL Team 6′s hunt and eventual kill of 9/11 terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. The request came after a New York Times column by Maureen Dowd reporting that the film — which was acquired at auction by Sony Pictures before a script was completed — received cooperation and help in describing a mission that was classified. The filmmakers have just released the following statement:

“Our upcoming film project about the decade long pursuit of Bin Laden has been in the works for many years and integrates the collective efforts of three administrations, including those of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, as well as the cooperative strategies and implementation by the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. Indeed, the dangerous work of finding the world’s most wanted man was carried out by individuals in the military and intelligence communities who put their lives at risk for the greater good without regard for political affiliation. This was an American triumph, both heroic, and non-partisan and there is no basis to suggest that our film will represent this enormous victory otherwise.” Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal. Read More »

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Sony Seals October 12, 2012 Release Date For Kathryn Bigelow’s Bin Laden/SEAL Team Thriller

By | Thursday July 28, 2011 @ 12:01pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Sony Pictures has dated the untitled movie from The Hurt Locker team of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal on the Navy SEAL Team 6 and its methodical hunt to kill Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden. The picture will open Oct. 12, and the studio is using a strategy similar to the one employed on The Social Network, which also launched early in October.

When bin Laden was killed, Boal and Bigelow were well along on a project called Killing Bin Laden, about the so-far unsuccessful attempt to kill the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks. It immediately became the hottest project in town, and Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Films banner agreed to fund the film. Buyers materialized during the Cannes Film Festival even as Boal was rewriting the script to reflect a most satisfying third act. Deadline broke news around that time that Sony signed on as distributor. They’ve kept details close to the vest even as thesps like Warrior’s Joel Edgerton were rumored to be taking part.

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Disney Won’t Fight The Navy, Withdraws Application For SEAL Team 6 Trademark

The Walt Disney Co. has reversed course and withdrawn its applications to trademark SEAL Team 6, the name of the elite Navy unit that killed Osama bin Laden. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Navy filed its own applications for rights to “SEAL Team” and “Navy SEALs” about a week after Disney, with a Navy spokesman saying, “We are fully committed to protecting our trademark rights.” A Disney spokesman said the company was withdrawing “out of deference to the Navy.” Disney planned to use the trademark to sell merchandise and, according to a WSJ source, develop a show based on the Navy unit for ABC.

Bin Laden’s death has sparked action on several projects related to the former Al-Qaeda leader. Deadline has already reported that Sony Pictures is close to a deal to distribute a project from The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal about the raid that killed bin Laden, and also that Universal is prepping a Navy SEAL movie from Peter Berg, an adaptation of Marcus Luttrell’s Afghanistan War memoir Lone Survivor.

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Sony Pictures Bearing Down On Kathryn Bigelow’s Bin Laden Movie

By | Tuesday May 24, 2011 @ 4:41pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that Sony Pictures is negotiating to acquire U.S. distribution rights to the untitled Kathryn Bigelow-directed drama about Navy SEAL Team 6′s hunt for Osama bin Laden. Mark Boal, Bigelow’s partner on the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, is finalizing a script that changes the film from a drama about an unsuccessful attempt to hunt the Al Qaeda leader into a methodical hunt that culminates in his death. The film is being fully financed by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. Production will start in the early fall and the pic will be ready for release in 2012.

Deadline pegged the Bigelow-Boal film — formerly titled Killing Bin Laden – as a potentially hot project the night that President Barack Obama interrupted programming to announce that the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center had finally been located and killed. It most certainly has worked out that way. The project was far along at this point, and they were talking to actors like Joel Edgerton even before bin Laden was killed. Sony’s Amy Pascal has been aggressive about the film since that night, and the studio and others heard the pitch from Boal right before buyers headed off to the Cannes Film Festival. Read More »

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Cannes: Megan Ellison Wins ‘Terminator’ Rights Auction

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Megan Ellison has won an auction for the rights to make at least two more installments of The Terminator franchise, with Fast Five’s Justin Lin attached to direct and Arnold Schwarzenegger attached to star. The deal came down to Ellison’s Annapurna Films and Lionsgate, which seemed to have had the project sewn up until she came forward with a dramatic bid. The auction at the time was for a guarantee for at least half of the $29.5 million paid by hedge fund Pacificor to pull the franchise out of bankruptcy. Unclear what the winning amount was, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it hit the $20 million mark. CAA brokered the deal.

Deadline revealed the two finalists in the auction on Wednesday, and I’m told that the deal closed late Thursday. Ellison, the daughter or Oracle founder Larry Ellison, and sister of Paramount-based Skydance producer/financier David Ellison, is winging her way to Cannes right now. She has a lot going on here. Read More »

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