EXCLUSIVE: It does seem strange. Ralph and Joseph Fiennes, James McAvoy, Daniel Day-Lewis, Emily Watson, Keira Knightley, Kate Winslet, and many other famous UK thesps don’t run their own production companies or have cushy vanity deals at homegrown studios like their U.S. counterparts. “Since Britain doesn’t have a studio system, we don’t have room for vanity shingles. And when they do get set up, they tend to languish because actors then go to Hollywood for the big money,” says London-based United Agents’ Lindy King. That, in a nutshell, is why so many famous UK stars are still only actors for hire.
By contrast, Hollywood studios have lots of vanity deals with actors, though few with British talent behind them. Out of the roughly 150+ total first-look deals which the major Hollywood studios maintain, only 7 are with UK-based production companies and none are run by British stars – Working Title (Universal Picture), Sam Mendes’s Neal Street Productions (Focus Features), Harry Potter-producer Heyday (Warner Bros), Wallace and Gromit-maker Aardman Animations (Sony Pictures Entertainment), Elton John’s Rocket Pictures (Walt Disney Studios), Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free (Twentieth Century Fox), and James Bond factory Danjaq Productions (what’s left of MGM). British producers such as Harbour Pictures (Calendar Girls), DNA Films (Never Let Me Go) and Marv Films (Kick-Ass) once had first-look deals with Disney/Miramax, Fox Searchlight, and Sony respectively but no longer. “A lot of these U.S. vanity deals are expiring or not being renewed. [But] Hollywood [should] look at the UK in terms of it’s being a sweet spot. I mean, we punch above our weight in terms of talent.” Thykier used to run the Marv Films production company with Matthew Vaughn — but their deal foundered after Sony passed on many of their projects like Kick-Ass, The Debt, and Harry Brown. READ MORE »
The films that have played the Toronto International Film Festival either came in with a distributor, or hoped to leave with one. The festival’s closing night film, Last Night, is the exception. The drama, written and directed by Massy Tadjedin, arrived as a Disney film, but might very well leave the festival with someone else. How appropriate for a drama about infidelity! The picture was dealt to Miramax by producer Nick Wechsler and Gaumont two weeks after production began. After the deal closed, Daniel Battsek’s specialty shingle imploded. The Mouse has spared the film from being part of the assets in the never-ending sale of the Miramax library. (It did the same for The Switch, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and the John Madden-directed The Debt, which also stars Worthington.) While The Debt made its debut at Toronto with distribution set, family-friendly Disney has been non-committal about releasing Last Night because of its infidelity theme. I’m told the picture has been quietly shopped during the festival by CAA, and there are three offers on the table. It will be up to Disney whether the studio wants to let it go to a specialty distributor more excited about releasing an edgy drama with a strong cast. Read More »
Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan are expected to make Red Carpet appearances on October 13th because their film Never Let Me Go is opening the London Film Festival. Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) has directed Alex Garland’s (Sunshine) adaptation of Kazuo … Read More »
William Monahan, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Departed, has signed with management firm Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar. Sugar joins WME’s Chris Donnelly and attorney David Fox on Monahan’s rep team. Monahan is in post-production on London Boulevard, making his directing debut … Read More »
The Tate’s current chief operating officer will replace Richard Pulford as chief executive of the Society of London Theatre in November. Right at the top of Bird’s in-box will be trying to get the Olivier theatre awards on TV. … Read More »