Relativity has optioned the Ron Chernow book Titan: The Life Of John D. Rockefeller and will develop a feature on America’s first billionaire for Lasse Hallstrom to direct. Script will be written by Craig Borten, who is Oscar-nominated for Dallas Buyers Club.
The patriarch of one of the country’s richest families, Rockefeller was ruthless in building Standard Oil, and spent 30 years dodging investigations into his business tactics until Teddy Roosevelt took him on. Rockefeller also turned into a philanthropist who gave away most of his fortune. Hallstrom sparked to telling the story of “the first Rockefeller, John D., and his rise to fame and fortune.”
It is a sprawling undertaking, but Borten is used to that. He said he met Dallas Buyers Club protagonist Ron Woodruff in 1992 and had his first script draft done two years later, and it took nearly two decades for the film to get made. On the surface, the two subjects seem entirely different but Borten sees similarities. “Each saw capitalism as a way to divide and conquer and accumulate but ultimately became most memorable for giving back,” he told me. “Lasse’s early films like My Life As A Dog and Gilbert Grape changed my view of storytelling with his humanistic approach to characters. That was a major reason for me doing this.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks is setting Lasse Hallstrom to direct The Hundred-Foot Journey, an adaptation of the Richard C. Morais novel about the rivalry between an Indian restaurant that is 100 feet away from a three-Michelin-star restaurant in France. The French restaurant is run by the famous eccentric chef Madame Mallory, who reluctantly forms a mentoring bond with a young Indian boy whose family owns the rival eatery. Their bond, and his culinary awakening, is a core of the story. I’m hearing that Helen Mirren will play Madame Mallory, but DreamWorks said no casting has been set. Shooting will begin in the fall.
This amounts to a bit of home cooking for DreamWorks and its financing partner, India-based Reliance, and it satisfies an ambition to find a film with relevance to the Indian market. Besides a well-reviewed novel, the project has pedigree: It was adapted by Eastern Promises scribe Steven Knight, and the producers are Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake.
It seems a role that is a strong fit for Mirren, whose other culinary-themed film, the Peter Greenaway-directed The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, was a bit strong for my palate. This is also the kind of movie that Hallstrom does well, as he has proved on films from Chocolat to What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, … Read More »
This weekend’s specialty releases includes Friends With Kids, which will open in over 300 locations on one end and doc Jiro Dreams Of Sushi, slated for two initial runs in New York before heading slowly out in other cities on the other. Fresh from its string of Berlin acquisitions, Adopt Films will open The Ballad Of Genesis And Lady Jaye Stateside, while New Zealand “spaghetti western” Good For Nothing makes its way to theaters from down under. Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is also among this weekend’s specialty offerings – a project he took over before shooting.
The Ballad Of Genesis And Lady Jaye
Director: Marie Losier
Cast: Genesis P-Orridge, Lady Jaye Breyer P’Orridge and Big Boy Breyer P’Orridge
Distributor: Adopt Films
One of the early pick ups by Adopt Films, the documentary about artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and his wife and collaborator, Lady Jaye was picked up by Adopt Films last Labor Day by the newly formed company co-headed by the veteran specialty distributor Jeff Lipsky who co-founded October Films back in the ’90s. “I don’t know that I’ve ever been involved with another film after distributing over 230 films that has been in production for seven years,” Lipsky told Deadline. He and partner Tim Grady made news at the recent Berlin International Film Festival picking up a number of films from the event’s competition lineup, surprising even Lipsky. “It was a surreal experience. We saw so many films in main competition that blew me away, so we decided to go for buying films. We thought we’d never get them but we did. That (experience) never happened at October or Lot 47 Films.”
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CBS Films picked up Salmon Fishing In The Yemen as a possible awards contender after it premiered at Toronto in the fall, but the distributor decided it was too late for the tale of Middle East politics and fly-fishing to enter this year’s Oscar race. It instead has set it for a limited-run release March 2, 2012. Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas star in the film directed by Lasse Hallstrom and written by Oscar winner Simon Beaufoy.
Was the 2011 Toronto Film Festival a good one for dealmaking? Even after organizers announced a 20% uptick in film deals last Friday (the festival includes foreign territories in its count), the sales kept coming. A long-expected deal with Lionsgate on the Jennifer Westfeldt-directed comedy Friends With Kids finally got done (in partnership with Roadside Attractions, which will actually release the film), and Music Box announced overnight it had acquired the Rachel Weisz-starrer The Deep Blue Sea. Lionsgate was hotly pursuing another film, the Midnight Madness sensation You’re Next, which of all the festival films seems to have the best chance of approaching the box office turned in by Toronto 2010’s breakout Insidious. There have been about 20 acquisitions so far and that many more could come in the next few weeks.
Still, can you call the Toronto acquisitions marketplace “solid” when no films have been bought so far by The Weinstein Company, Sony Pictures Classics, Focus Features, or Fox Searchlight (yeah, I revealed that they bought Shame during Toronto, but it was a deal all but sealed in Venice), or for that matter FilmDistrict, Open Road or Relativity Media, each of which jumped into the distribution business to release films that can play on upwards of 2000 screens? Buyers and sellers said it was a pretty good festival at least. One filled with mostly small deals and a show of distributor discipline that is a positive sign for an indie film sector that just started pulling out of a nosedive this time last year. Read More »
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 »
Back at the first of the month Deadline scooped that Lasse Halstrom was in talks with Relativity Media to direct the adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel Safe Haven, which Relativity picked up in a heated auction last summer, and that a deal would happen quickly. Well, now Relativity is making it official. As I said before, it was a good bet for the matchup as Hallstrom directed the adaptation of the Sparks novel Dear John, which Relativity boss Ryan Kavanaugh financed. Today’s release:
Beverly Hills, CA (June 16, 2011) – Relativity Media has closed a deal with Oscar® and DGA-nominee Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules, Dear John) to direct their upcoming film Safe Haven, based on the latest novel from best-selling author Nicholas Sparks, announced Relativity’s President of Worldwide Production Tucker Tooley. The film is scheduled to head into production this year.
Sparks’ previous books have been made into such hit films as The Notebook, The Last Song, Nights in Rodanthe and Dear John. His latest, Safe Haven, is a gripping love story infused with suspense and discovery. When a young woman escaping her past moves to a small North Carolina town, and falls for a loving widowed father, he heals her heart, and helps her escape the danger that threatens her.
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EXCLUSIVE: Relativity Media is in talks with Lasse Hallstrom to direct its adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel Safe Haven. I’m told that a deal will likely happen quickly. It’s not surprising that Ryan Kavanaugh would turn to Hallstrom to helm the adaptation of a book that Relativity paid around $2 million against $5 million to acquire in a heated auction last summer. Hallstrom directed the adaptation of the Sparks novel Dear John, a film that Kavanaugh financed.
The move also re-teams Hallstrom with Temple Hill partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, who produced Dear John, a film that was well received and grossed $110 million worldwide with Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried starring. Relativity Media acquired Safe Haven with a ticking clock — basically a nine-month window to develop the script, or the book would go back to Sparks and he’d keep the upfront payment. They got Dana Stevens to write a script, and they certainly met the deadline, as they are already looking at cast for a fall start date. Bowen and Godfrey are producing and so is Kavanaugh. In Safe Haven, a young North Carolina woman is determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships. As she begins to fall in love, she struggles with a dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her. 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.