It’s that time of year — when awards-season schadenfreude begins to swirl, and rivals begin whispering in our ears about the flaws in everybody else’s offerings. Against that backdrop, a video for a lecture bureau by Leonardo DiCaprio posted last summer has conveniently begun re-circulating on the web just days after the Oscar polls opened (watch it below). It’s a short testimonial extolling the motivational speaking skills of The Wolf Of Wall Street subject Jordan Belfort, whom DiCaprio plays in the movie in all the unapologetic decadence that caused his downfall. DiCaprio qualifies his praise for his screen alter ego by mentioning Belfort’s lawbreaking past, but backing even a reformed bad guy could be a slippery slope during Oscar season; there has been heavy scrutiny over whether Belfort has profited from his book and movie (he claims the money has gone to repay victims), and just days ago the daughter of one of Belfort’s stock-hawking cronies spoke out about the lasting damage created by their collective misdeeds. Critics and audiences already are debating whether Martin Scorsese‘s Oscar contender makes Belfort’s reckless behavior seem too seductive.
Related: Leonardo DiCaprio On Creating Fact-Based Black Comedy Without Glorifying Crooks
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When I emerged from watching The Wolf Of Wall Street, I came away thinking the movie had done for stock brokers what Marathon Man did for dentists. The Martin Scorsese-directed film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as hedonistic drug-addicted stockbroker conman Jordan Belfort, who with dimwitted cohorts plunders his way to such decadence and immorality it’s a wonder he survived long enough to be arrested and sent to prison. The three hours of darkly comic debauchery has in some quarters been met with a “how dare you” reaction, a polarizing response that could be an issue during awards season for the $100 million film financed by indie Red Granite and released domestically by Paramount Pictures. The 71-year old Scorsese has provoked that kind of reaction several times in his career with films ranging from The Last Temptation Of Christ to Goodfellas and Casino, the latter two of which, like Wolf, left behind bitter victims of the mayhem perpetrated by the film’s main characters. The shrapnel is new to DiCaprio, who both starred in and produced the film through his increasingly prolific Appian Way shingle. Here, DiCaprio discusses that fallout and the challenge of trying to uncompromisingly depict bad guys without judging them.
DEADLINE: Appian Way was just building steam when you got involved in producing Jordan Belfort’s memoir Wolf Of Wall Street. Why did Belfort’s story fit into the profile of movies you wanted to make as producer, while sparking you as an actor as well?
DICAPRIO: Coming into it as an actor, I set my entire production company up in order to find material that not only was interesting and out of the box from an actor’s perspective, but that could be developed that way from the original source material. A lot of times, I’d gone through the process of getting a great book or finding a great story, and then too many people get their hands on it and it turns into something entirely different. It is very difficult to reverse that process. When I first picked this up, I found it a cautionary tale written by Jordan. His life is much different now, but he’s looking back and reflecting on a very hedonistic time period where he gave into every possible temptation. Greed was the main motivating factor, and he was unapologetic. He realized he’d completely lost his way, but there was an honesty to it that you rarely find. You rarely find someone willing to vilify themselves so completely and not trying to create false enemies to blame so they don’t have to look inward. Everything Jordan wrote in this book was so raw. The crash of 2008 was a huge motivator for me as well to want to really see what’s going on in our culture that creates people like this. Greed is a timeless virtue. I’ve been talking about greed a lot in interviews, and you can’t pinpoint it to any specific time period, or any civilization or even just human beings. It’s a fundamental characteristic of survival. As we are progressing into the future, things are moving faster and we are way more destructive than we’ve ever been. We have not evolved at all. Read More »
At the Golden Globes nomination press conference at the Beverly Hilton this morning, a lot of the talk wasn’t so much about who got nominated but who didn’t. I’m talking about you, Oprah! The star of stars didn’t make the cut and won’t be walking that red carpet (at least as a supporting actress nominee). I thought she was powerful enough just to call in and order one of these things. But Winfrey, along with everyone else associated with Lee Daniels’ The Butler, was snubbed big time. Yesterday, the Weinstein Company’s late summer hit had scored big at the SAG awards with three nominations, including one for Winfrey, and appeared to be on the rebound after being left off the AFI top 10 list Monday. But the awards-season gods giveth and then they taketh away. Conversely, yesterday’s big snubee at SAG, The Wolf Of Wall Street, saw its fortunes improve with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association naming it a nominee for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical and one for Leonardo DiCaprio, a perennial Globe favorite gaining his 10th nomination (he won in 2004 for The Aviator).
Related: Golden Globe Awards Nominations: ‘12 Years A Slave’ & ‘American Hustle’ Lead Pack
Other than Oprah (unfairly in my opinion) missing out in supporting (Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts, Lupita Nyong’o, June Squibb and a surprise nod for Blue Jasmine’s Sally Hawkins made the grade there), there weren’t many jaw-dropping surprises in film (TV was another matter entirely – sorry Claire Danes). That is unless you think Ron Howard’s Rush getting a Best Motion Picture Drama slot over the likes of Butler and Saving Mr. Banks (which, as at SAG, received only one nod for star Emma Thompson) is a stunner. Hate to say I TOLDJA , but I predicted that in this column yesterday. I have spoken to several HFPA members over the past few weeks and nearly every one of them brought up that film’s name as a favorite. Although the independently-produced Universal release didn’t do well at the box office in the U.S., it has great international appeal being a European-set film about the 1970′s rivalry between Britain’s James Hunt and Austrian Niki Lauda (played by Daniel Bruhl who grabbed a supporting actor nod today). The HFPA is an organization made up of international journalists, and the film held a special appeal for them. Read More »
The last shoe to drop in the 2013 awards race hit Saturday as Martin Scorsese‘s much-awaited The Wolf Of Wall Street was unveiled to SAG voters at a couple of screenings at the WGA theatre in Beverly Hills. I caught the film earlier at a small 10 AM screening for some of the cast members on the Paramount lot and then moderated the Q&A following the 6:30 PM screening of the 3 hour film. To say it was rapturously received would be an understatement. Leonardo DiCaprio received a standing ovation when I introduced him, and co-star Jonah Hill also won huge applause from the packed-to-the-rafters house who also enthusiastically cheered co-stars Rob Reiner (who plays DiCaprio’s dad and stole the show at the Q&A), Jon Favreau, P.J. Byrne, Ken Choi and Cristin Milioti. I heard the film also received the same kind of enthusiastic response at the earlier screening too. Paramount also threw a party to kick things off in style. Celebration was in order since Paramount at one time wasn’t even sure the film would be ready as Scorsese has been editing to make a 2013 date. Originally it was scheduled for a November 15 release but moved to Christmas bumping Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit into January to make room for Wolf‘s wide release awards run.
Formal reviews are embargoed but as an initial observation I would label the movie ”Scorsese’s Satyricon,” a wild ride full of contemporary debauchery to say the least (DiCaprio compared some of it to Caligula), with a fine ensemble and a frenetic pace that belies its three hour running time. Even at that length it never lags. It is the perfect companion piece to Goodfellas and puts Scorsese right back in the thick of the Oscar race, if Academy members, particularly older ones, can deal with the almost non-stop parade of sex, drugs, nudity and rock and roll. Violence, a Scorsese staple in this type of film, is missing but there are a number of remarkable set pieces including a storm-driven yacht voyage that has to be seen to be believed (Rob Legato supervised the special effects team). An NC-17 was avoided by some reported judicious cutting but it’s hard to imagine the stuff that didn’t make it in considering the edgy material that did. Read More »
The latest teaming of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio will hit theaters just in time for an Oscar run. Paramount‘s The Wolf Of Wall Street is opening December 25. It originally was scheduled for November 15. The studio cleared the Christmas Day slot last week when it moved the Chris Pine starrer Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit to January 17. It’ll be a busy holiday at the megaplex, with Wall Street going up against openers including Universal’s Keanu Reeves actioner 47 Ronin, Warner Bros’ aging-boxer comedy Grudge Match, Ben Stiller’s take of The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty for Fox, Open Road’s Justin Bieber docu Believe and the Weinstein Company’s August: Osage County.
Related: ‘Foxcatcher’ Is Latest Film To Drop Out Of Oscar Race
Miss Deadline’s best film stories this week? Catch up here:
Heard It Here First: Tom Hardy To Play Elton John In ‘Rocketman’
By Mike Fleming Jr. - As Deadline reported in June when FilmDistrict paid $10 million to acquire U.S. rights to the Elton John film Rocketman, Tom Hardy has been set to play Captain Fantastic himself in the Michael Gracey-directed biographical musical film.
Oscar-Buzzed ’12 Years A Slave’ In Top Ten, ‘Jackass: Bad Grandpa’ Opens #1 For $32M, All-Star ‘The Counselor’ Bombs With $8M
By Nikki Finke - The most interesting news of the weekend, at least to me, is that New Regency’s financed and produced Best Picture Oscar frontrunner 12 Years A Slave marketed and distributed by Fox Searchlight is only playing in 123 theaters (up from 19 last weekend) yet jumped into the Top Ten.
J.J. Abrams & Lawrence Kasdan Take Over As ‘Star Wars’ Scribes
By Dominic Patten - The new Star Wars movie has a new screenwriting team. It was announced online today that Episode VII director J.J. Abrams and Empire Strikes Back co-writer Lawrence Kasdan will take over as scribes for the upcoming Disney project which is set to be released in 2015. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros. is near a deal for Blood On Snow, the first of a two novel series by The Snowman author Jo Nesbo. It will be developed as a potential star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio to be produced by him and Appian Way partner Jennifer Davisson Killoran and Langley Park’s Kevin McCormick. Latter is producing an adaptation of Nesbo’s The Son at Warner Bros.
I hear this was a pricey deal, upwards of $500,000 against $2 million.
The book has been written under the pseudonym Tom Johansen, and it is about a hit man who is asked by his boss to kill the man’s wife. Trouble is, he falls in love with her and things get messy from there. The book was sent out to buyers Friday by Nesbo’s agent Sylvie Rabineau at RWSG. The Norwegian novelist will publish the novel next spring through Knopf, with the sequel, Blood On Snow 2: More Blood, to be published the following year. A year after that, Nesbo will release The Kidnapping, which is kind of connected to all this in that the kidnap victim is Tom Johansen, as Nesbo’s pseudonym becomes a character in his own right. Nesbo and Niclas Salomonsson are exec producing the film.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Dalian Wanda Group wants a Hollywood studio to join a joint venture meant to build a massive studio and grow film and other media investments in the region. This has been part of a weekend in which stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman, moguls like Harvey Weinstein, and agents including UTA’s Jeremy Zimmer and WME’s Mike Simpson attended a launch party for Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin to unveil plans to spend up to $8.2 billion on an entertainment center in Qingdao he says will include a theme park and the world’s largest film studio. Wang Jianlin is reportedly China’s richest man, and WSJ reports he has made deals with four top talent agencies to attract talent that will be part of his plan to make 30 films each year.
We will have to see how this works out. India’s Reliance Entertainment made first-look deals five years ago with a coterie of stars and their companies to generate films with Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Nicolas Cage, Brett Ratner, Chris Columbus, Jay Roach, Jim Carrey, Julia Roberts, Playtone’s Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, and Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment. Each was a seven-figure commitment from Reliance, which has nothing to show for its investment. Read More »
BREAKING: Warner Bros is acquiring Wilson, the just published Putnam biography of Woodrow Wilson, the academic-turned-politician who led the United States into joining the allies in WWI. The deal is being made to develop the film as a potential star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio, with he and Appian Way partner Jennifer Davisson Killoran producing with Berg.
The book was 13 years of work for Berg, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his bio Lindbergh. Here, he tells the story of an academic who comes off as the great forgotten president, who, over the course of his presidency at first resisted and then rose to the occasion and led the U.S. into the war, claiming that it would make the world safe for democracy. The studio and Appian Way sparked to the similarities between circumstances surrounding WWI and the current political tensions in places like Syria.
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EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has made a preemptive acquisition of King Harald, a pitch that Mark L. Smith is writing as a potential vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio. The subject: Harald Hardrada, the 11th Century conqueror who has been called the last great Viking king. The deal also calls for a blind script deal for Smith, who scripted The Revenant, a New Regency project that has Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu attached to direct, and a potential cast of Sean Penn and DiCaprio. He also scripted for Appian Way Endurance, a movie about Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton, who led an expedition of 28 to the South Pole in 1914. When ice crushed the ship, Shackleton found a way to lead the entire crew back to safety despite the lethal cold. Smith also scripted an untitled biker film for Warner Bros based on an idea by Tom Hardy, who is eyeing it as a star vehicle to play a returning Vietnam vet in the 70s who falls in with a biker gang in San Francisco and then falls for the leader’s girlfriend.
King Harald will be produced by DiCaprio and his Appian Way partner Jennifer Davisson Killoran. King Harald was King of Norway for two decades, but his quest for power and thirst for battle led to his being exiled for a time to Russia and then returning in triumph. The … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In the first major deal made by Greg Silverman since he was promoted to run Warner Bros‘ worldwide feature film production arm, the studio has acquired the upcoming S. Craig Zahler crime novel Mean Business On North Ganson Street as a reteam of Django Unchained stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx. Zahler will write the script and DiCaprio and his Appian Way partner Jennifer Davisson Killoran will be the producers. Sarah Schechter is steering it for the studio.
The book is in galleys and in the process of being shopped to publishers. The tale starts off with a bang: DiCaprio is a hardened detective who, after being told by a man that his beautiful wife is missing, tells him she is a hooker who obviously made off with his money. After the man commits a desperate tragic act right in the squad room, the disgraced detective is sent to a hellhole rust belt town called Victory, Missouri, where violent crime is skyrocketing. Partnered with an equally bad-assed detective who was demoted for publicly brutalizing a suspect (Foxx), the new partners get to do some real work. Police officers start showing up dead execution-style, and the cops think it might be open season on Victory’s police department. Read More »
Martin Scorsese reteams with Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf Of Wall Street, their biographical crime pic based on the memoir by Jordan Belfort, the hard partying “boiler room” stockbroker who scammed $200M from investors and was indicted for securities fraud in 1998. Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Jean Dujardin, Rob Reiner, Kyle Chandler, Margot Robbie and The Walking Dead‘s Jon Bernthal co-star. Paramount is planning an award-season release November 15. Check out the first trailer, punctuated by the new Kanye:
Watch this video on YouTube.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has acquired Rasputin, a pitch by American Sniper scribe Jason Hall that will be developed for Leonardo DiCaprio to play the Russian mystic who became an advisor to the Russian Imperial family the Romanovs. Embraced by Tsar Nicholas II and Alexandra as a healer for their only son, Tsarevich Alexei, who secretly suffered from hemophilia, Rasputin’s influence with the family in all matters grew to the point that rivals tried several times to kill him, finally succeeding in 1916. The film will be produced by Langley Park’s Kevin McCormick, by DiCaprio’s Appian Way partner Jennifer Davisson Killoran and Peter Morgan, who’s a producer on the Hall-scripted adaptation of American Sniper, which Steven Spielberg will direct with Bradley Cooper playing Navy SEAL elite sniper Chris Kyle.
This will become the blind script commitment I wrote that Hall had made at Warner Bros, this coming after that studio and DreamWorks teaming up on American Sniper. The screenwriter is also in early talks to adapt as a possible Spielberg project the David Finkel book Thank You For Your Service, about the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder syndrome that is becoming a major issue for vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
There have been numerous movies made about Rasputin and the controversial role he played in the Russian court, but there were new elements here unearthed by Hall … Read More »
Would you pay €1.5 million ($1.94 million) to spend a weekend at Oscar parties? Or €1.8 million to fly to the moon on Virgin Galactic with Leonardo DiCaprio? Someone did — and more. That happened at amFAR’s annual Cinema Against AIDS Cannes Film Festival gala’s very special 20th anniversary Thursday night. Co-hosts Weinstein and Kenneth Cole announced to a roomful of very high rollers that the event, held of the Hotel Du Cap, raised €25 million ($32.3 million), smashing last year’s record total of over €10 million. The ultra-high style party is a two decades long staple of the Cannes festival, and Weinstein told me if it just made a dollar more than the previous year they’d be happy. But these multimillionaires and billionaires obviously came to play this year and really stepped up at the auction that featured numerous stars including jury members Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz, along with Jessica Chastain, Jeremy Renner, Rosario Dawson, Heidi Klum, Goldie Hawn, Janet Jackson, Adrien Brody and major fundraiser/auctioneer Sharon Stone.
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Dennis Lehane will adapt Travis McGee for Fox and Appian Way, based on 1964′s The Deep Blue Good-By and 20 subsequent novels by John D. MacDonald. Chernin Entertainment and Leonardo DiCaprio are producing, with the latter eyeing to star. The project previously had Paul Greengrass and Oliver Stone circling to direct.
Doing something he says he has never done in his entire career, director Martin Scorsese has come to Cannes to personally sell a film to foreign buyers. But it is not just any film but rather a passion project called Silence he has been hoping to bring to the screen for 23 years. The adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s novel about Jesuits and the dawn of Christianity in 17th Century Japan is not the kind of thing studios are rushing to make but Scorsese, who actually toyed with becoming a priest at one time, is determined to make it.
Related: Martin Scorsese To Make Noise On ‘Silence’ At Cannes
Today Emmett/Furla Productions threw a reception with Scorsese on the Johnny Walker And Sons Voyager Yacht where the Oscar-winning film icon basically pitched his wares. When I sat down to speak with him he said he was starting to lose his voice after two days in Cannes meeting buyers and convincing them that he was really going to finally roll cameras on the movie he has had in development longer than any other. “I think this is the first time I have done this, to sell a movie, but it’s a special picture. I have been working on it since 1989. Everytime it started to move away from me I went back to try to get it. It’s one I really want to make and I … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: HBO Films is developing Gorbachev, a movie about former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev from Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Appian Way and Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone. Gorbachev serves as a consultant on the project, which captures the dissolution of the USSR through his eyes. Gorbachev was the first and last President of the Soviet Union, serving from 1988 until the union’s dissolution in 1991. He ushered democracy into the Soviet block by introducing glasnost and perestroika and helped end the Cold War.
The movie, written by former Hell On Wheels showrunner John Shiban and executive produced by DiCaprio, Jennifer Killoran, Hanks, Goetzman and Industry Entertainment’s Keith Addis, stems from DiCaprio’s relationship with Gorbachev. The two met when the Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner appeared in DiCaprio’s environmental movie The 11th Hour. Gorbachev later presented the actor with an environmental award at the Cinema for Peace Gala in Berlin. Appian Way and Addis originally developed the project with another writer, Paul Webb. Shiban came in with a new take. The pitch was taken to HBO, which came on board and brought in its go-to producers for marquee long-form projects, Playtone. In addition to Gorbachev, serving as consultants on the movie are Gorbachev’s long-time aide Pavel Palazhchenko, who started off as his … Read More »
Baz Luhrmann’s 3D adaptation of The Great Gatsby will kick off the 66th Cannes Film Festival on May 15, organizers said today. The Warner Bros drama will screen in the out-of-competition selection. The latest adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke. It opens in the U.S. on May 10 but day-and-date with its May 15 Cannes launch in France.
This was basically a no-brainer decision. Luhrmann is a favorite of the festival, and his 2001 musical drama Moulin Rouge still remains one of the splashiest opening nights in Cannes history with an elaborate, very expensive party thrown by distributor 20th Century Fox afterward. Those who were there (I was among them) will not soon forget the extragance of it all, and certainly if any other movie might deserve the same opulent treatment it is Luhrmann’s Gatsby, which was delayed from an awards-season opening in 2012 by Warner Bros so the director could continue to refine the ambitious film. Whether the studio will spring for a kickoff like a party Jay Gatsby himself might throw remains an open question, especially since it won’t be the world premiere of the film, but nevertheless it is worth the speculation.
Exhibitors actually got their first look at the 3D drama almost a full year ago when Warners previewed footage at CinemaCon in Las Vegas as part of their 2012 slate sneak look. After it was delayed by the studio into a 2013 debut, a Cannes opening seemed inevitable, particularly with the prospect of getting big star names like DiCaprio, Maguire and Mulligan to come to the Croisette for a glamorous European premiere. Read More »