Kevin Kline gets the French Kiss-off from Maggie Smith in BBC Films dramedy My Old Lady, which Cohen Media Group is releasing stateside September 10. Pic stars Kline as a down and out American who moves to Paris to claim a house willed to him by his estranged father. There he discovers he must wait for the current tenant, a spunky nonagenerian (Smith), to pass before he can assume ownership per French law.
Kristin Scott Thomas co-stars as Smith’s daughter in the U.S./UK co-production which marks writer-director Israel Horovitz’s debut. Producers are Gary Foster (Sleepless In Seattle, Community), Rachael Horovitz (Moneyball), David C. Barrot, and Nitsa Benchetrit. Check out the trailer: Read More »
My Old Lady has a new distributor, a new backer and a new cast member. NYC-based Cohen Media Group has picked up all U.S. and Canadian rights to the comedy-drama directed and adapted by Israel Horovitz from his play. CMG EVP Gary Rubin and Cinetic Media’s John Sloss and Steven Farneth negotiated the deal on behalf of the producers. Distributed internationally by Protagonist Pictures, the film now has the unspecified financial backing of BBC Films. Rachael Horovitz and Gary Foster are producing with Nitsa Benchetrit and David Barrot. Co-producing are David Atrakchi, Boris Mendza and Gael Cabouat for Fulldawa Films. Charles Cohen and Daniel Battsek will exec produce for CMG, while BBC Films’ Joe Oppenheimer and Christine Langan will exec produce for BBC Films. Rounding out the My Old Lady news, Kristin Scott Thomas has joined Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline, and Dominique Pinon in the movie. Kline plays a down-and-out New Yorker who travels to Paris to liquidate a huge apartment he’s inherited. But when he gets there, he learns he can’t take possession until the old woman who’s living in the apartment dies. Taking up the role that Jane Birkin was originally set in, Scott Thomas will play Chloe, daughter of Smith’s Mathilde character. My Old Lady starts shooting in Paris this month. Scott Thomas is repped by CAA and by Independent Talent Group in the UK.
Pierce Brosnan, Jessica Alba and Kristin Scott Thomas will star in the Tom Vaughan-helmed sexually charged romantic comedy How To Make Love Like An Englishman, the Matthew Newman-scripted film that is backed by Southpaw Entertainment’s Richard B. Lewis, Irish Dreamtime’s Beau St. Clair and Envision Entertainment’s Grant Cramer. Solution Entertainment will sell the film in Cannes. Brosnan plays a Cambridge University professor who is forced to reexamine his hedonistic lifestyle after meeting a great gal (Thomas). Things get complicated when he impregnates her grad student stepsister (Alba). Pic will shoot in September, financed by Envision and Merced Media Partners, and will be Executive Produced by Stepan Martirosyan and Remington Chase of Envision, Raj Brinder Singh and Kevin Scott Frakes of Merced Media Partners, Lisa Wilson and Myles Nestel of The Solution, and Jon Amiel. CAA represents the U.S. distribution rights.
The London Film Critics Circle is to present director Nicolas Roeg with the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film, the org announced Friday. The prize is the venerable group’s highest honor and has previously gone to such talent as Dirk Bogarde, Michael Caine, Richard Harris, Charlotte Rampling, Ken Loach, Judi Dench, Quentin Tarantino and Kristin Scott Thomas. Roeg’s diverse filmography includes 1971’s Walkabout, 1973’s Julie Christie/Donald Sutherland-starrer Don’t Look Now, 1976’s David Bowie vehicle The Man Who Fell To Earth and 1990′sThe Witches starring Angelica Huston. Roeg will receive the tribute at the Circle’s 32nd annual awards ceremony which was recently moved up to January 19. Nominees in the major categories will be unveiled Dec 20.
Myriad Pictures has acquired worldwide rights outside the UK for the Neil LaBute-scripted Seconds Of Pleasure. Mike Figgis will direct a film that will star Matt Dillon, Julia Stiles, Brendan Fraser, Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Hendricks. Seconds Of Pleasure explores a series of intimate and emotionally charged events that occur among a small group of people traveling together on a trans-Atlantic flight from Chicago to London. LaBute adapted it from his novel, which weaves together the intertwined yet separate stories of the six couples searching for those moments that make life worth living. Seconds Of Pleasure is a production of Scotland broadcasting giant STV. Margaret Enefer, STV Productions’ Head of Drama, Bill Shapter and LaBute are the producers. Read More »
The Weinstein Co said today it is rereleasing its war drama Sarah’s Key on 300 screens on Friday, giving the summer title a push into awards season. The film stars Kristin Scott Thomas as an American journalist living in modern-day Paris whose research for an article about the imprisonment of Jews during France’s notorious Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup in 1942 ends up turning her own world inside out. Gilles Paquet-Brenner directed the film and co-wrote the script with Serge Joncour based on the novel by Tatiana de Rosnay. Sarah’s Key made $7 million at the domestic box office after its July 22 release; worldwide, it’s made $20.5 million to date. “We know there’s an even bigger audience for the movie, and that’s why we’re re-releasing it now, in a wider pattern, and just in time for awards consideration,” Weinstein Co distribution boss Erik Loomis said. The company already has its hands full during awards season, with at least its My Week With Marilyn (release date: November 23), The Artist (November 25) and Meryl Streep-starrer The Iron Lady (December 16) angling for attention.
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 »
Just as it did last year, the 2011 Toronto Film Festival has gotten off to a slow start on the acquisitions front. I spoke with many buyers after last night’s onslaught of acquisition title premieres, and the common feeling was these distributors need to fill slots in their schedules and they want to fall in love, but haven’t quite gotten there yet with most of these films. They had some reservations on just about all of the films they saw. These films will clearly find distribution homes, but the reaction means that deals will drag out because those distributors aren’t going to be posting large minimum guarantees, the way they did in Cannes.
Even the big sale of the festival so far, the Steve McQueen-directed NC-17 sex drama Shame, wasn’t a huge commitment for all the press hoopla that followed Deadline’s reveal that the film had sold to Fox Searchlight. I am hearing the deal was a mid-six figure minimum guarantee around $400,000, and a P&A commitment around $1.5 million. That sounds about right, because the filmmakers were most concerned with entering this year’s Oscar race to capitalize on the performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, and ensuring that not a frame of the picture was changed. But it doesn’t sound like a wide release picture.
As for the wide release titles, they are going to sell, but it will be a struggle for sellers to get the dollars they want. I saw one of those titles that sit atop buyer lists last night. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was scripted by Simon Beaufoy, directed by Lasse Hallstrom and 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 film is sophisticated, funny, timely and utterly charming, and I would be surprised if it isn’t snapped up by Monday or sooner. That film got the best reaction from the buyers I spoke with. The pace of auctioning has been complicated by the volume of premieres last night, including Rampart, Take This Waltz, The Oranges, the hockey comedy Goon and the Morgan Spurlock-directed documentary Comic-Con: A Fan’s Hope. Buyers had to make choices, and some were seeing films like Salmon this morning. I expect a flurry of deals toward the end of the festival, which is how it played out last year.
Since there’s little going on so far, you have time to notice things. Here are a few things I’ve noticed: Read More »
Last year’s Toronto Film Festival started slow for acquisitions, but finished with a flurry of modest distribution deals that served notice the specialty film business had finally pulled out of its nosedive. This year’s festival hasn’t started and already there are fireworks. Deadline broke news yesterday that Harvey Weinstein would start a VOD business, making the acquisitions market for fringe films more competitive; and last night, I heard that a bidding battle had already broken out for the Steve McQueen-directed Shame, which should be sold by the time it screens Sunday. Fox Searchlight is the favorite, Sony Pictures Classics is in the mix and I’ve heard that The Weinstein Company is hovering. Bidding began right after its Telluride screening, and the mid-six figures thrown around yesterday will probably go higher. That’s huge, considering the movie is an unabashed NC-17, McQueen has final cut, and the sex-obsessed protagonist is unlikable. Oh, yeah, and the sellers want it released this year for Oscar consideration to capitalize on Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan’s Oscar-caliber performances.
Does this mean we’re in for a drunken buying frenzy? Hardly, buyers tell me. They are eager to see the films, but say there’s no title here that’s going to guarantee somebody will overpay. They are also mindful that many of last year’s deals turned out to be box office busts. More deals will be made than … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In a clear signal that Netflix is preparing for a major expansion into the UK, the streaming company has made what I believe to be its first content deal with a film company there. My sources tell me that Netflix has signed a multi-year exclusive output deal for first pay TV rights with Lionsgate UK. Netflix would not comment, nor would Lionsgate UK, but this pact sets the stage for what will be the first competition that Rupert Murdoch’s Sky has faced in the pay TV movie business in the UK for over a decade.
It is also a deal that gives Lionsgate UK CEO Zygi Kamasa an opportunity to take his company to the next level with a state-of-the-art pay TV deal that will kick in when Netflix opens for UK business. Like Lionsgate in the US, Lionsgate UK is part of the Lionsgate Group, but it operates autonomously under Kamasa, financing film productions and making acquisitions for the UK theatrical and ancillary marketplace. The company’s recent film acquisitions have included The Hurt Locker, The Mechanic and the Ralph Fiennes-directed Coriolanus. Lionsgate UK has also been getting more aggressive in generating British product. It recently completed production on the second film it fully financed, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. The Lasse Hallstrom-directed film stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas, and it premieres at next month’s Toronto Film Festival.
Netflix has so far announced it will make its first … Read More »
Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks has signed on to star in Seconds of Pleasure, which Mike Figgis is directing from a Neil LaBute script. The story takes place on an airplane and connects the lives of people on the plane through vignettes. Hendricks plays a wife who catches her husband in a compromising position. Brendan Fraser plays the husband, and Julia Stiles, Matt Dillon and Kristen Scott Thomas also star. LaBute is producing, with production to begin this summer in the UK. Hendricks, also shooting the Doug McGrath-directed I Don’t Know How She Does It with an ensemble cast that includes Pierce Brosnan and Sarah Jessica Parker, is repped by Paul Kohner Agency and KLWG Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company just unlocked the first acquisition of the Toronto International Film Festival. The film is Sarah’s Key, and TWC bought all U.S. rights to the film starring Kristin Scott Thomas that’s based on The New York Times best-selling book by French journalist and literary critic Tatiana De Rosnay. Directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, Sarah’s Key consists of intertwining past and present stories: one about the 1942 Paris roundups of Jewish families and transports of them to Auschwitz, and the other 60 years later about the journalist who learns that her husband’s family took possession of their Parisian apartment from a dispossessed Jewish family and stumbles upon the story of the little girl who locked her brother in a Read More »
Syriana’s Amr Waked will play the Yemeni Sheikh who comes up with the barmy idea of trying to stock salmon in the desert. Salmon Fishing In the Yemen stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas. Shooting starts today for 9 weeks in London, Scotland, and Morocco. Lasse Hallström is directing and Paul Webster producing for Kudos. BBC Films, UK Film Council, and Lionsgate UK are co-financing. Lionsgate is handling international sales.