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Paramount Acquiring Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ For 2015 Oscar Season

Mike Fleming

Paramount Acquiring Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ For 2015 Oscar SeasonParamount Pictures is in talks to acquire U.S. distribution rights to Silence, and the tentative plan is to release the film November 2015, right in that holiday corridor where awards-bait pictures dwell. Silence is one of those pictures on Scorsese’s bucket list, an adaptation of the Shusako Endo novel that Scorsese has longed to make for more than a decade. The project finally came together when Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films principals Randall Emmett and George Furla committed the production financing, with Corsan Entertainment co-financing. Shooting will get underway in Taiwan. The film takes place in the 17th century, where two Jesuit priests face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and to spread Christianity. The script is by Scorsese’s Gangs Of New York scribe Jay Cocks, and the filmmaker has pulled together a cast including Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Ken Watanabe and Adam Driver.

silenceEmmett and Furla are producing with Emma Tillinger Koskoff and Irwin Winkler. Paramount seems a logical landing place for Silence. While Red Granite funded The Wolf Of Wall Street, Paramount released the  film, which was nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture. The studio also distributed Shutter Island and Hugo. Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions is Paramount-based and the filmmaker has a strong relationship with Brad Grey, a producer on The Departed who didn’t get a Best Picture Oscar because Grey took the top Paramount job.

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Hot Trailer: ‘A Walk Among The Tombstones’

By | Thursday May 29, 2014 @ 2:43pm PDT

Liam Neeson stars in the Scott Frank-directed thriller A Walk Among The Tombstones, based on Lawrence Block’s bestselling mystery novels. Neeson plays Matt Scudder, a former NYPD cop and unlicensed private investigator who agrees to help a heroin trafficker (Dan Stevens) hunt down the men who kidnapped and brutally murdered his wife. Jersey Films’ Danny DeVito, Double Feature Films’ Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher, Cross Creek Pictures’ Brian Oliver and Exclusive Media’s Tobin Armbrust are producing. Universal releases A Walk Among The Tombstones on September 19. Check out the trailer that dropped today:

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Liam Neeson To Star In Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’

By | Friday January 31, 2014 @ 11:37am PST
Mike Fleming

LIam Neeson Silence Martin ScorseseEXCLUSIVE: Liam Neeson will star with Andrew Garfield and Ken Watanabe in Silence, the Martin Scorsese-directed adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s novel about 17th century Jesuits who to try bring Christianity to isolated Japan. The film is being financed by Emmett/Furla/Oasis, Corsan and A1. Emmett/Furla/Oasis just funded Lone Survivor. The script is by Jay Cocks and Scorsese and production will begin in Taiwan later this year.

Related: Martin Scorsese Tests Out Script For Mob Drama ‘The Irishman’, But ‘Silence’ Is His Next Pic

Neeson is scheduled to reprise in Taken 3, but while Neeson has remade himself as an action star, Silence brings him back to the kind of work he did in Schindler’s List and in the Scorsese-directed Gangs Of New York. The film is produced by Irwin Winkler, Randall Emmett and George Furla, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Checchi Gori, Barbara DeFina and Paul Breuls, with Niels Juul exec producing. Neeson, who next stars in the action film Non-Stop, voices a role in The Lego Movie, and stars in the Seth MacFarlane-directed A Million Ways To Die In The West and A Walk Among The Tombstones,  is repped by CAA.

Related: Martin Scorsese Settles ‘Silence’ Suit

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Berlin: Forest Whitaker In Talks To Join ‘Taken 3′; Helmer Olivier Megaton Returning

By | Wednesday January 29, 2014 @ 10:16am PST

Olivier-Megaton-and-Liam-NeesonEXCLUSIVE: Olivier Megaton will be back in the director’s chair for Taken 3, the latest film in the action franchise hatched by Luc Besson‘s EuropaCorp. Megaton directed the second film in the series that’s been distributed by 20th Century Fox. While it’s likely that Fox will be on Taken 3, I understand negotiations are still underway. This will be Megaton’s next project with a start date I hear could be as early as March. In a new piece of casting, Deadline understands that Forest Whitaker is in talks to join Liam Neeson and other forest whitakerreturning actors including Maggie Grace. Neeson stars as Bryan Mills, the retired CIA agent who used his brutal skills to track down his daughter after she was kidnapped in the first film, and who was himself taken hostage in the sequel. Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr reported last summer that Neeson was closing a deal in the vicinity of $20M to reprise his role as Mills. Neeson was a reluctant participant in the first sequel, but got paid in the $15M neighborhood. Read More »

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Sony Classics Acquires Paul Haggis’ ‘Third Person’

By | Thursday November 7, 2013 @ 2:24pm PST

NEW YORK (November 7, 2013) – Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they have acquired US, German and Scandinavian rights to Paul Haggis’ THIRD PERSON. Written and directed by Haggis, the film had its world premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and features an all-star cast including Academy Award®-nominee Liam Neeson, Academy Award®-winner Kim Basinger, Academy Award®-winner Adrien Brody, Academy Award®-nominee James Franco, Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis, and Maria Bello. Michael Nozik of Hwy61 and Haggis produced the film along with Paul Breuls of Corsan, who also provided the financing. THIRD PERSON wends its way through three cities and three tales. The various stories, situated in Paris, Rome, and New York, are, at first glance, all separate, but Haggis effortlessly makes connections among them as the film unwinds, concentrating on three men and their romantic entanglements. Gradually, each one of these stories unveils its secrets, testifying to the whims and complexities of life. Surfaces are deceptive in the Haggis universe, but as each story is explored we discover untold pleasures and pains. Life is never easy: it can be deceptive, inhabited by anger and jealousy, but it can also be surprisingly joyous. Sony Pictures Classics, CAA and Paradigm negotiated the deal.

Related: Liam Neeson Among Those Lining Up For ‘Third Person’

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Hot Trailer: Liam Neeson In ‘Non-Stop’

By | Wednesday October 16, 2013 @ 9:39am PDT

Liam Neeson reunites with his Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra to tap those particular set of skills again in Universal‘s Non-Stop. The actioner takes place aboard a transatlantic flight in which Neeson’s U.S. Air Marshal is hounded by an unknown text messager to force the airline to pony up $150M, or else one passenger will be killed every 20 minutes. Joel Silver produces the February 28, 2014 release which also stars Julianne Moore:

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Liam Neeson To Get Paid – Try $20 Million – For His Particular Set Of Skills In ‘Taken 3′

By | Monday June 24, 2013 @ 5:14pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Get ready for a third installment of Taken, the franchise launched by EuropaCorp’s Luc Besson and released by 20th Century Fox. I’m told that Liam Neeson is closing a deal in the vicinity of $20 million to reprise his role as Bryan Mills, the retired CIA agent who used his brutal skills after his daughter was kidnapped in France to be sold into sex slavery. Neeson was a reluctant participant in the first sequel but got paid in the $15 million neighborhood. Now I hear he’s getting another raise, and that EuropaCorp is planning to start production in February.

Next will come the effort to make deals with Maggie Grace, who played his daughter in the first two films, and Famke Janssen, who played his ex-wife. They have a script well in the works from Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, who teamed for the first two films. No director has yet been set, but don’t be surprised if Olivier Megaton comes back. He’s the Besson protege who directed the last film, which cost around $45 million and grossed over $376 million. The first film cost around $25 million and grossed over $226 million, with Pierre Morel directing. I thought the original film was vastly better than the sequel. But when the sequel does better than the original at the box office, and doesn’t cost that much more, of course they will try for the trifecta. The key has been getting Neeson. Read More »

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Salma Hayek’s Animated Passion Project ‘The Prophet’ Draws Liam Neeson, John Krasinski, Quvenzhane Wallis And Others

By | Tuesday June 18, 2013 @ 4:38pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Liam Neeson, Salma Hayek, John Krasinski, Frank Langella, Alfred Molina and Quvenzhané Wallis have all joined the voice cast of Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, the animated feature film written and directed by Roger Allers, whose animation credits include directing Disney’s The Lion King and Open Season and whose writing and storyboard work encompasses such films as Aladdin, Beauty And The Beast, and The Little Mermaid. The film is being produced by Hayek, Clark Peterson, and Ron Senkowski. Participant Media and Doha Film Institute are financing and are exec producers.

Allers’ script was inspired by The Prophet, the iconic book that is one of the biggest sellers in history, north of 100 million copies in over 40 languages since it was first published by Alfred Knopf in 1923. Allers is directing the narrative story, while individual chapters based on Gibran’s poems are being helmed by animation directors from around the world, including Tomm Moore (The Secret Of Kells), Joan Gratz (Mona Lisa Descending A Staircase), Bill Plympton (Guard Dog And Your Face), Nina Paley (Sita Sings The Blues), Joann Sfar (The Rabbi’s Cat), Paul and Gaetan Brizzi (Fantasia 2000), Michal Socha (Chick) and Mohammed Harib (Freej).

The Prophet is on track for completion in spring of 2014.

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UPDATE: ‘Non-Stop’ Release Delayed A Week To Feb. 28, 2014

By | Monday June 3, 2013 @ 2:40pm PDT

UPDATE, 2:40 PM: Universal just announced it is moving Non-Stop‘s release to February 28, 2014, a week later than its initial February 21 date. The new date pits Non-Stop against Paramount’s sci-fi pic Almanac. It would have gone up against Tri-Star’s action drama Pompeii on the 21st.

PREVIOUS, THURSDAY PM: Universal announced it will release the Liam Neeson-starrer Non-Stop on February 21, 2014. Neeson plays U.S. Air Marshal Bill Marks who receives a series of cryptic text messages during a transatlantic flight from New York City to London. The messages demand that he instruct the government to transfer $150 million into an off-shore account and, until he secures the money, a passenger on his flight will be killed every 20 minutes. The February 21st date pits Non-Stop against Paramount’s sci-fi pic Almanac. Julianne Moore co-stars in Non-Stop which reunites Neeson with Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra and producer Joel Silver. The StudioCanal production is also produced by Andrew Rona, Steve Richards, and Alex Heineman.

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MRC, Universal Fund John Lee Hancock-Helmed ‘Highwaymen;’ Liam Neeson, Woody Harrelson Courted To Play Texas Rangers Who Killed Bonnie & Clyde

By | Wednesday April 10, 2013 @ 11:03am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Media Rights Capital has teamed up with its Ted partner Universal Pictures to co-finance Highwaymen, a drama about the Texas Rangers that hunted and gunned down Depression Era bank robbers Bonnie & Clyde. The film is coming together for a first quarter 2014 production start. John Lee Hancock will direct and Liam Neeson and Woody Harrelson are being courted to star. The John Fusco-scripted drama focuses on legendary lawman Frank Hamer, who was coaxed by a consortium of banks to assemble a posse and end the robbery reign of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in the 1930s. Casey Silver is producing.

Hamer was an old style Texas Ranger who’d survived 100 gunfights and killed 53 people, and he focused on the duo after their gang organized a jail break and killed a guard. They’ve been talking about this feature for awhile, but they will most certainly come after a miniseries on the same subject by History and Lifetime that’s being directed by Bruce Beresford and has William Hurt playing Hamer. Read More »

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Liam Neeson To Voice Villain In Animated Comedy ‘The Nut Job’

By | Friday March 1, 2013 @ 11:04am PST

Liam Neeson Nut JobLiam Neeson is already lending his voice to Warner Bros’ Lego: The Piece Of Resistance. Now the Oscar-nominated actor who brought Aslan to life in Disney and Fox’s Narnia pics is joining the voice cast of the indie animation The Nut Job, the first feature from Canadian-based ToonBox and Korea-based Redrover, in association with Warner Bros-based Gulfstream Pictures. Disney and Pixar veteran Peter Lepeniotis is directing the feature based on his own 1995 short Surly Squirrel from a script by Lorne Cameron (Brother Bear, Over The Hedge), about a mischievous squirrel who plots to rob a nut store with his rat friend Buddy.

Neeson will voice the villainous Raccoon in a cast that includes Katherine Heigl, Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Stephen Lang, Sarah Gadon, and comedian Jeff Dunham. Read More »

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Oscars: Past Nominees Hayek, McCarthy, Neeson & Travolta Set As Presenters

By | Monday February 18, 2013 @ 6:52am PST

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Actors Salma Hayek Pinault, Melissa McCarthy, Liam Neeson and John Travolta will present on the Oscar telecast, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today.

Hayek Pinault earned an Oscar nomination for her leading performance in “Frida.” She will be seen next in “Grown Ups 2.”

McCarthy earned a nomination for her performance in a supporting role in the 2011 hit film “Bridesmaids.” She stars in the recently released film “Identity Thief” and will be seen next in “The Heat.”

Read More »

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Liam Neeson Locked To ‘Run All Night;’ Helmer Jaume Collet-Serra In Talks

By | Thursday January 17, 2013 @ 8:17am PST
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Warner Bros has locked Liam Neeson to star in the Brad Ingelsby action film Run All Night, and they are negotiating with Jaume Collet-Sera to direct. The studio is aiming for a fall start. While Neeson is getting to the age where you don’t want to run much anymore, he’s thriving as an action star, after Taken and its sequel, and it doesn’t look like he’ll stop running and kicking ass anytime soon. He plays a mob hitman who, in a single night, is forced to take on his former boss. The guy has to protect his son and family, and winds up on the run from the mob and the authorities with his estranged son. Neeson and Collet-Sera are currently shooting Non-Stop for Silver Pictures, and they’ve been eyeing this as a return match. They also teamed for the thriller Unknown. Read More »

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Will Ferrell & Liam Neeson Among Additions To ‘Lego’ Pic Voice Cast

By | Friday November 9, 2012 @ 10:03am PST

Liam NeesonWill FerrellEXCLUSIVE: Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, Nick Offerman and Alison Brie have joined Warner Bros and Village Roadshow’s Lego feature film. They join Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett and Morgan Freeman in the 3D animated pic, which is set for a February 7, 2014 release. The plot follows Emmet (Pratt), an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average Lego minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant. Ferrell will play Emmet’s primary adversary, President Business; Neeson is the president’s powerful henchman, Bad Cop; Offerman is a craggy, swaggering pirate obsessed with revenge on President Business; and Brie is a member of Emmet’s team with a powerful secret.

Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street) are directing from their original screenplay — with story by Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman and Phil Lord & Christopher Miller — based on the kids toy line. Lin Pictures and Vertigo Entertainment are behind the pic; Dan Lin and Roy Lee are producing.

Related: Warner Bros Shifts ‘Lego’ Release Date

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SNL Spoofs Liam Neeson & Action Heroes

By | Sunday October 14, 2012 @ 1:15am PDT

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Liam Neeson Will Make A Lot More Than $10 Million On ‘Taken 2′

By | Wednesday October 10, 2012 @ 12:51pm PDT
Mike Fleming

I’m reading a THR piece reporting that Liam Neeson‘s Taken 2 paycheck is $10 million, up from the $1 million he received for the original. They’ve shortchanged the strapping Irishman on both counts. He’ll make more than double that when the film is done in worldwide theaters. I’ve heard Neeson got paid $12 million upfront for Taken 2, (he got $2 million for the first). And since that $12 million sequel paycheck was an advance against a comparable percentage of gross, Neeson stands to make a heckuva lot more for the special set of skills he possesses. The $45 million-budget sequel grossed $49.5 million in its opening weekend, and has already hit $117 million worldwide, according to Rentrak. Read More »

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Toronto: Emmett-Furla Acquires Action Film ‘Fair Trade’; Open Road In Talks To Distribute

By | Friday September 7, 2012 @ 10:58am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Emmett/Furla Films co-founders Randall Emmett & George Furla have acquired Fair Trade, an action thriller that had been developed by Alcon Entertainment as a potential vehicle for Liam Neeson. They want Neeson, and while it isn’t immediately clear if the actor will star, Emmett/Furla will finance the film for a summer start in Pittsburgh. The film is based on the Serbian thriller The Trap. Ericson Core (Invincible) is directing a script by Matt Aldrich. Emmett/Furla is in final negotiations with Open Road Films for domestic distribution. The Open Road team is here in Toronto unveiling one of the fest’s hot titles, End Of Watch. That David Ayer-directed film stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena. Read More »

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Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis, Casey Affleck, James Franco Lining Up For Paul Haggis’ ‘Third Person’

By | Wednesday August 22, 2012 @ 8:18am PDT

In May, I reported that offers were going out to Liam Neeson and Olivia Wilde to star in Paul Haggis’ upcoming drama, Third Person. Today, Belgian production and finance company Corsan announced that it’s in negotiations with Neeson and Wilde, along with Mila Kunis, Casey Affleck, James Franco and Moran Atias.

The Haggis-scripted film follows three intersecting storylines set in Paris, New York and Rome. Each section represents a different stage of love from the beginning to the middle and the end of a relationship.

Shooting begins in Rome on Oct 17 on a budget in the high teens, Corsan said. The company, which previously backed The Devil’s Double, is funding, producing and handling foreign sales. Haggis and Michael Nozik are producing via their Hwy61 shingle. Paul Breuls is producing for Corsan. Haggis, Neeson, Franco and Kunis are repped by CAA. Wilde, Affleck and Atias are repped by WME.

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Hot Trailer: ‘Taken 2′

By | Monday July 30, 2012 @ 6:16pm PDT

Taken 2 reteams Liam Neeson and producer/co-writer Luc Besson from the first pic, which earned $145M domestically and $226.8M globally for Fox when it burst on the scene in 2009. This one sees the bad guys come after Neeson’s family (daughter Maggie Grace and wife Famke Janssen) after he killed one of the evildoers while rescuing his daughter in Paris the first time. Olivier Megaton takes over directing duties from original helmer Pierre Morel. Fox releases the sequel October 5.

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