The Shooting Stars program, which has close ties to the Berlin Film Festival, was created in 1998 and boasts alumni that includes Carey Mulligan, Mélanie Laurent, Domhnall Gleeson, Bill Skarsgard, Andrea Riseborough, Alicia Vikander, Archie Panjabi, Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz. Program organizer European Film Promotion has selected its next batch of 10 Shooting Stars for 2014. The young actors include Edda Magnason, the star of Sweden’s top grosser this year, Waltz For Monica, and the UK’s George MacKay whose credits include How I Live Now, Sunshine On Leith and For Those In Peril. European member countries put forth candidates who are then nominated by an international jury comprised of film industry pros. The actors have a sort of coming out during the Berlin festival when they are presented to world media and to casting directors, agents, directors and producers. Each of the actors also receives a Shooting Stars Award at a gala ceremony. The fest runs from February 6-16, 2014 with the Shooting Stars spotlight from February 8-10.
EXCLUSIVE: As Deadline Hollywood predicted last month, the Kon-Tiki directing team of Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg have landed the job directing Pirates Of The Caribbean 5. Disney, Johnny Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have all signed off on the choice, and negotiations are underway on a deal that will make quickly. The duo will come aboard to prep the massive movie for a late year or early January start.
The studio is getting the script ship-shape, and they are bullish after getting a rewrite from Jeff Nathanson. This is an enormous coup for the Norwegian directing team who just fell out of the Legendary Pictures film Spectral. I’d written recently about Disney’s short list, and the fact these guys were atop it. Fredrik Bond, who helmed The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman, was also on the list as was Snow White And The Huntsman helmer Rupert Sanders.
EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures and Norwegian Kon-Tiki helmers Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg have parted company on Spectral, a big project they signed on to direct in January with much fanfare. It was their first studio deal, made around the time their pic was creating Oscar buzz for Best Foreign Language film. The duo had been signed to a holding deal with the intention of making this film next. That deal ended, and apparently Legendary wanted to move forward and the helmers felt the script needed more seasoning and a longer development track. The script, based on a treatment by Ian Fried and with a most recent script draft by Jayson Rothwell, is described as a supernatural Black Hawk Down and it is viewed as a potential franchise. The helmers will move on to other projects, and Legendary will look to lock in a new director to get the project to the start line later this year.
Kon-Tiki, the 1951 Thor Heyerdahl-directed documentary that inspired the Weinstein Company feature nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year, is getting its own day in the sun. It will air on the Sundance Channel on May 11, to be followed by the half-hour behind-the-scenes featurette Kon-Tiki: The Incredible True Story. The docu, which won the 1951 Best Documentary Feature Oscar, was comprised of footage Norwegian scientist-explorer Heyerdahl shot while sailing from Peru to Polynesia on a balsa wood raft — a voyage he completed to support his theory that Polynesia could have been originally settled by South Americans crossing the Pacific. The 4,300-mile journey took he and his crew 101 days. The feature, shot in English and Norwegian and directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, had its platform release last weekend in one theater each in Los Angeles and New York. It took in the specialty box office’s highest per-screen average with $11,167. Kon-Tiki: The Incredible True Story actually will premiere May 3 on National Geographic Channel during its “Night of Exploration” block. Maria Menounos hosts the docu, which features interviews about the making of the feature with Rønning, Sandberg, scribe Petter Skavlan and star Pål Hagen.
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
Mud kicked up the dirt in the specialty realm with a hefty opening and some decent audiences to boot. The Roadside Attractions release directed by Jeff Nichols and starring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon bowed with $2.185 million in a release strategy Roadside says is the new path for certain indie/specialties featuring named talent. The Weinstein Company launched Kon-Tiki in one theater each in NYC and LA, taking the weekend’s highest per screen average with $11,167 among limited releases. Another big specialty release, Arthur Newman, however, tanked with a $435 average in 248 theaters. The weekend happened to coincide with the most beautiful weather in New York City in what seems like years. It was a crowded space with many new specialty releases and the lure of staying outside. But roll out they did. Sony Classics’ At Any Price had a slight opening in four theaters, IFC Films fared better with Venice opener The Reluctant Fundamentalist in three theaters, and Paladin/108 Media’s Salman Rushdie-written Midnight’s Children opened with $12,200 in two theaters. Meanwhile one film, which almost didn’t have formal distribution at all — An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty — scored a solid opening with no stars.
Roadside Attractions has verbally called out the traditional NY/LA two-to-four (or so) platform release strategy that has been the norm for many-a-specialty release. Believing it can capitalize on a blitz of media, when the film has at least one star, and a flurry of social media, the distributor has forgone the traditional limited release roll out and opened — at least in indie world numbers — fairly widely. Mud had a $6,022 average. Not gargantuan, but it debuted in 363 theaters. McConaughey and Witherspoon star in the pic, which factored into Roadside’s strategy. For comparison’s sake, Roadside’s Emperor with Tommy Lee Jones opened March 8th in 260 theaters with just over $1 million. That was nearly one-third of its come, which has topped out at a bit under $3.3 million to date. “The world moves fast. Emperor frankly didn’t have amazing reviews but had a million dollar opening,” said Roadside chief Howard Cohen. “I think the old model has come outdated especially when the PR is front loaded.” Cohen noted that their strategy with a release like Mud works when the film includes named talent. The traditional mode is still a good one theatrically when there isn’t”.
Norwegian directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg drew keen attention from Hollywood in the wake of their Oscar-nominated sea-faring adventure Kon-Tiki, pacting with Legendary Pictures on supernatural project Spectral and becoming involved with a sci-fi period piece at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot. Closer to home for the duo is Beatles, a passion project they’ve been working on for years and which has just scored the rare feat of securing rights to original recordings of the Fab Four.
Based on the best-selling book by Norwegian author Lars Saabye Christensen, which was first published in 1984, the 1960s-set coming-of-age story follows four teenage boys living in Oslo during Beatlemania. “It’s a book we grew up with,” Rønning tells me. “For us it’s like the first movie about the first youth generation that didn’t automatically do the same jobs as their fathers and mothers. It’s the first rebellion, especially in Europe and Scandinavia.” The duo, along with producer Jørgen Storm Rosenberg, acquired movie rights from Christensen in 2009, but the parties were steadfast that a film would never happen unless they got the rights for the tunes. Speaking from Norway this morning, Rønning beamed, “And now we have them and it’s amazing!”
EXCLUSIVE: To vote in the Best Foreign Language film competition Academy members must prove they have seen all five nominees. That makes the voting pool deciding this category much smaller than nearly every other one. Although Amour, also nominated for Best Picture is a heavy betting favorite, this is a category where surprises often happen. So don’t count out Norway’s entry Kon-Tiki, an early favorite among members of the Academy’s foreign language committee when it first screened on October 13th, only the second day of competition for the record 71 entries seen this year over the course of two months. The impression it made lasted and Kon-Tiki became one of this year’s five nominees and a crowd favorite. The film, which recounts the 1947 4300 nautical mile journey Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl took across the Pacific Ocean on a balsawood raft, has become a huge hit in its native country and has been picked up by The Weinstein Company for domestic release on April 19. Directors are Joaquim Roenning and Espen Sandberg (Max Manus) and its producers are Aage Aaberge and Oscar winner Jeremy Thomas (The Last Emperor). Should it win, it would not be the first Kon-Tiki movie to nab an Oscar. Heyerdahl’s own 1951 documentary feature of his journey actually won an Academy Award for that year, marking the first – and only – Oscar winning film in Norway’s history. Could Kon-Tiki be a good luck charm again for the country when the Best Foreign Language Film envelope is opened next Sunday? …
David Mermelstein is an AwardsLine contributor
If one thing links all five of this year’s nominees for the foreign film Oscar, it’s that the director of each picture was driven to make his movie because of strong, deeply personal feelings. These five films — a varied batch if ever there was one — have nothing in common in terms of where and when they are set, but they all deal, unapologetically, with powerful emotions. And those feelings are expressed not only by the characters in these films but also by their creators.
Perhaps the most obviously personal is Michael Haneke’s Amour, which achieved the rare feat of earning best picture and director noms, as well. The film has been cited for, among other things, its unblinking look at the degradations inflicted by illness on an aged couple. The German-born writer-director says that his recollections of a beloved aunt’s increasing infirmity inspired him to make the film. “I was forced to look on as someone very close to me suffered, someone for whom I cared very much”, he says, noting that the specifics of his aunt’s condition were not replicated in the movie. “What’s shown in the film is the product of lengthy research and my imagination”.
Yet one especially chilling aspect of his aunt’s situation — her asking him to assist in her suicide — was strongly echoed in the film. “Of course I had to tell her I was unable to do it”, Haneke recalls, “because I would have been put in jail if I had done it. I was grateful for that alibi, for I don’t know if I would have had the strength to do it otherwise. But she did it anyway, without my help”.
Asked whether he himself — now age 70 — worries about a fate similar to that faced by the principal characters in Amour (portrayed with uncanny and moving effect by octogenarians Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, who earned a best actress nomination for the role), Haneke responds wryly and invokes another, very different, master filmmaker. “Billy Wilder was asked a similar question”, Haneke says, “and he responded by saying that the bombardments, so to speak, are coming ever closer”.
EXCLUSIVE: Norwegian helmers Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, whose film Kon-Tiki was Oscar nominated today for Best Foreign Language Film, are near a deal to make their first big splashy Hollywood helming deal. They are signing a 7-figure pact to direct Spectral for Legendary Pictures. The script, based on a treatment by Ian Fried and with a most recent script draft by Jayson Rothwell, is described as a supernatural Black Hawk Down and it is viewed as a potential franchise.
Roenning and Sandberg have been meeting with and being offered projects by studios since Kon-Tiki began playing in Norway and then made its festival debut at Toronto in September. The film tells the harrowing tale of Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 journey, drifting 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean on a balsa raft with a small crew to Polynesia to prove South Americans were its original settlers. Shot on the high seas for $15 million (making it the most expensive Norwegian film ever), Kon-Tiki looks like it was significantly more expensive, showing the potential of directors who can get bang for their buck on logistically complicated studio-level action adventure fare.
New York, NY – November 7, 2012 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today they have acquired rights for the US, Canada, United Kingdom, and Italy from Hanway Films KON-TIKI. The film, which tells the real-life adventure of Thor Heyerdahl’s world-famous seafaring voyage, is the official Oscar® entry of Norway for Best Foreign Language Film. KON-TIKI is directed by Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg, with a script by Petter Skavlan. The film had its US premiere this week at AFI Fest.
Here’s a clip from Kon-Tiki, which plays the Toronto Film Festival at 5:30 PM today at the Wintergarden Theater after winning the Audience Award when it made its world premiere at the Norwegian International Film Festival a few weeks ago. The film, helmed by Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg, was produced by Jeremy Thomas. Roenning and Sandberg’s last film, Max Manus, is the highest-grossing film in Scandinavian history and the 2009 Norwegian Oscar entry for Best Foreign Film. Kon-Tiki opened in Norway last Friday and broke the Max Manus record for biggest opener of a Norwegian movie.