Jim Orr has joined FilmDistrict as the new president of distribution, CEO Peter Schlessel announced this afternoon. Orr will oversee all aspects of FilmDistrict’s feature distribution and will report directly to Schlessel. This follows Sclessel’s recent hiring of Christine Birch as president of marketing, and positions key executives at FilmDistrict as the company prepares for the Cannes Film Festival and market next month. Orr will oversee distribution of FilmDistrict’s slate, including Lockout (via Open Road) which opens tomorrow, Safety Not Guaranteed (June 8), Looper, in conjunction with Endgame Entertainment and Sony Pictures (September 28), Red Dawn (also via Open Road, November 2) Playing the Field (December 25) and Parker (January 25, 2013). Also in the works is a “reimagining” of the horror cult classic Evil Dead, in conjunction with Ghost House Pictures and Sony Pictures, and a sequel to Insidious, distributed by FilmDistrict.
Europa posted roughly the first five minutes of Lockout, which features star Guy Pearce being pummeled while he’s interrogated about “what happened in that hotel room.” What happened was a big fight scene during which credits unfold. Kind of over the top but OK. (In English with French subtitles.) Most of what we’ve seen before has taken place aboard an orbital maximum security prison. Maggie Grace co-stars. Executive producer Luc Besson co-wrote with first-time feature directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger. Released under other monikers abroad and re-titled Lockout for the U.S. market, the FilmDistrict/Open Road-distributed sci-fi prison thriller is now slated to open April 13.
Wrongly convicted of espionage, Guy Pearce turns out to be the government’s go-to guy when the president’s daughter is trapped aboard an orbital maximum security prison. Maggie Grace also stars. Executive producer Luc Besson co-wrote with first-time feature directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger. Known under other names abroad and re-titled Lockout for the U.S. market, the FilmDistrict/Open Road sci-fi prison thriller is scheduled to open April 20.
While the NFL and its locked-out players continued court-mandated mediation sessions today in Minneapolis, the league went ahead and released its schedule for the 2011 season and so did NBC for its flagship Sunday Night Football. If the NFL finalizes a new collective bargaining agreement in time, the season will begin Thursday, Sept. 8 on NBC with the New Orleans Saints vs. the Green Bay Packers, the first of 17 games on the network. (Last year’s Thursday opener drew 27.5 million viewers, the network’s most-watched regular-season primetime NFL game to date.)
The Sunday Night Football franchise has become a major force in NBC’s fall schedule and a key to the ratings turnaround the new regime at the network is aiming for, so it would be extra rough on NBC if the season was scrapped (broadcast nets Fox and CBS and cable nets ESPN and NFL Network also have rights to games but Fox and CBS’ games are in the afternoon, so the impact on primetime wouldn’t be as big as it would be at NBC). SNF was the No. 1 show on Sunday all 18 nights last season, averaging 21.8 million viewers, up 12% over 2009, and dominating across all male demos and scoring well in some female ones too. It’s also the network’s turn to host the Super Bowl this year.
The networks are set to to televise 11 preseason games according to the NFL’s just-released preseason schedule, which supposedly kicks off Aug. 7 when NBC airs the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, that pits Chicago against St. Louis. (ESPN will show four games, Fox three and NBC and CBS two apiece during the stretch.) The league is taking the “what-me-worry?” tack of releasing a schedule despite NFL owners locking out its players March 11, a subsequent injunction hearing to stop that action and suits and countersuits galore. The injunction request is in flux as the Minnesota judge in the case ordered a federal mediator to police renewed labor talks. The mediator, U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, met with the players’ reps today and will meet with the league Wednesday before bringing both sides to the the table Thursday to resume negotiations.
The order today by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson does not mean a ruling on the players’ injunction to stop the owners’ lockout is coming anytime soon. But U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan will meet with players tomorrow in Minneapolis and the league on Wednesday to get the lay of the land, then oversee formal talks beginning Thursday. The topic: a new collective bargaining agreement that would put an end to the month-long lockout and ensure there will be a next season. Players filed the injunction again the owner-imposed lockout after labor talks failed and the CBA expired March 11. The main issue remains how to divide $9 billion in annual league revenue, some of which comes from lucrative broadcast and cable TV contracts.
2ND UPDATE, 3:35 PM: A federal court said it could take weeks before it decides whether to grant an injunction sought by NFL players to stop a league-imposed lockout. That’s because the judge wants both sides to agree to federal mediation to help resolve an impasse in finalizing a new collective bargaining agreement, according to Bloomberg. “Both sides are at risk. This is a good time to come back to the table,” the judge said. “This is really a matter to be resolved, in my view, with the services of the federal court.” Today’s hearing in St. Paul lasted five hours.
UPDATE, 10:45 PM: The NFL and its owners have officially locked out the players, marking the league’s first work stoppage since the players went on strike in 1987. Both sides seem so far apart, it’s unclear when they might start talking again. Instead both sides appear headed for a courtroom confrontation. “We are locked out,” union president and former player Kevin Mawae said in a text message to the Associated Press. “We were informed today that players are no longer welcome at team facilities.” Meanwhile, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell posted a letter to NFL fans today after the labor talks ended. Even the spectre of the coming football season being threatened after last year’s huge ratings is enough to give panic attacks to the television moguls.
FRIDAY, 5:30 PM: Looks like NFL fans won’t have to pay up for those recession-unfriendly DirecTV packages next season. Dissolving the union this afternoon after 16 days of negotiations and two extensions to the collective bargaining agreement means individual players can file antitrust lawsuits against the league to prevent an expected lockout by owners. They did, too, with 10 signing on to a class-action suit including star quarterbacks Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. Said the former union: “The NFLPA will move forward as a professional trade association with the mission of supporting the interests and rights of current and former professional football players.” The league, meanwhile, said the players left “a very …
NEW YORK, November 7, 2010 – FilmDistrict, the recently announced company founded by Graham King, Tim Headington and Peter Schlessel, has acquired all US rights to EuropaCorp’s sci-fi action adventure film, starring Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace. James Mather and Stephen St. Leger will direct LOCKOUT from their script co-written with Luc Besson, who also serves as the producer of the film. Peter Stormare and Tom Hollander co-star.
Set in the near future, LOCKOUT follows a falsely convicted ex-government agent (Pearce), whose one chance at obtaining freedom lies in the dangerous mission of rescuing the President’s daughter (Grace) from rioting convicts at an outer space maximum security prison.
“EuropaCorp is one of the most dynamic production companies with a great track record of delivering high octane product,” says Peter Schlessel, CEO of FilmDistrict. “They make bold commercial movies which fit perfectly with FilmDistrict’s mandate to release quality films in wide distribution.”
“Luc and I, and everyone at EuropaCorp are thrilled there is a new and exciting distribution company in the US. We have great respect for Peter and the team, and this deal is about friendship and creativity,” says Pierre-Ange Le Pogam, co-founder of EuropaCorp. “We are proud and excited to be a part of this new adventure, and we plan to deliver a unique film. We are looking forward to working with Peter, Bob and everyone at FilmDistrict. It will be fun.”
“Luc and Pierre-Ange are creating a highly entertaining sci-fi film with classic action sequences, a gripping story and
EXCLUSIVE: Frenchman Luc Besson has built Europacorp by hatching moderately priced thrillers, and populating them with casts, writers and directors he works with over and over. Maggie Grace, last seen as the kidnapped teenager in the Besson-Robert Mark Kamen collaboration Taken that launched director Pierre Morel’s star, has signed on for Lockout, a drama that Sony Pictures Entertainment is in talks to distribute. The picture transports a Taken-like premise to outer space. Besson hatched the script with directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger. Guy Pearce