Could Disney finally be on track for a Best Picture Oscar winner of its own making? Who knows, but judging from the very enthusiastic reaction to the world premiere tonight of Saving Mr. Banks at London’s Odeon Leicester Square theatre on the closing night of BFI London Film Festival, it’s off to a good start. Deadline’s International Editor Nancy Tartaglione reports there was about four minutes of sustained applause as the end credits began and word at the Old Billingsgate after-party was unanimously upbeat with premiere-goers loving it. Initial reviews also seem to be strong. Before the film rolled an organist onstage warmed up the first-nighters with the score for Mary Poppins, the film that serves as the inspiration for this tale of how Walt Disney led a two-decades-long quest to bring notoriously reticent P.L. Travers’ classic book to the screen. Director John Lee Hancock, producers Alison Owen and Ian Collie and stars Colin Farrell, Tom Hanks, Ruth Wilson and Emma Thompson were then introduced to the crowd. Thompson remarked, “it’s very moving to have the film premiere in London… so let’s watch the damn thing”. There’s even a reference to the Leicester Square theatre in the movie.
London Film Festival: Disney’s ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ World Premieres – Can It Be Heading For Oscar Night?
Along with Saving Mr Banks, which closes the London Film Festival on Sunday night in its world premiere, producer Alison Owen‘s credits include a lot of movies with women’s names in the title. They range from Temple Grandin to Elizabeth, Sylvia, Tamara Drewe and Jane Eyre. Many of those, Owen said in a keynote address today, she made because she was drawn to material that explored themes that she was exploring in her own life at the time. Although it’s got a man’s name in the title, Saving Mr Banks is no different. In the film, Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney as he tries to convince Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers, played by Emma Thompson, to let him turn the beloved nanny’s tale into a film. Owen admitted that at first she thought she was making it because of her kids, but soon came to realize it was really a film for her dad. “As we developed the story, I remembered Hannah Minghella… telling me how Amy Pascal always used it as a trick question for prospective interviewees or writers — asking them who Mary Poppins was about. And the answer, of course, is not Julie Andrews, or Bert, or the children — but Mr Banks.”
In a wide-ranging discussion today, Owen, who is also founder and managing director of UK-based Ruby Film and Television, also touched on the importance of story and keeping movies alive. Below are excerpts from her address:
“‘After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the things we need most in the world.’ That’s a quote from Philip Pullman.
I believe that to be true. I have to, really – I’ve spent my work life so far finding stories, telling stories, making stories.
But I’ve spent my life telling those stories in the movie business. And, as we keep hearing from various dark brooding media outlets, movies are seriously under threat. There’s many a Cassandra out there touting the death of the movie industry, as we know it.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Christopher Lee To Receive BFI Fellowship; FremantleMedia Int’l Inks Digital Deal With China’s Youku; More
Christopher Lee To Receive 2013 BFI Fellowship
Sir Christopher Lee will be this year’s recipient of the BFI Fellowship. The organization’s highest honor will be presented October 19during the awards ceremony for the BFI London Film Festival. The Fellowship is in recognition of outstanding contribution to film or television. Last year there was a double recipient in the form of Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter. Lee, who was knighted in 2009, has more than 250 acting credits — from his feature debut in 1948 with Corridor Of Mirrors to Hammer Films’ Dracula and The Lord Of The Rings‘ trilogy. The BFI will screen several of Lee’s most iconic performances during its upcoming Gothic season. The BFI today also announced juries for the London Film Festival. The nascent competitive section will be judged by film critic and journalist Phillip French, director Lone Scherfig, visual artist Stan Douglas, actress Miranda Richardson, author Deborah Moggach, and cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto.
FremantleMedia International Inks With China’s Youku
FremantleMedia International announced Monday a multiyear digital deal with the China-headquartered portal Youku. The agreement will see a variety of FremantleMedia’s premium entertainment and drama content available to online audiences averaging 14 million unique users a day. More than 200 hours of programming will be available on Youku in the first year including recent seasons of American Idol ,The X Factor USA, America’s Got Talent, Project Runway and The Celebrity Apprentice and season 13.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Alison Owen To Keynote London Film Festival; ‘Almost Impossible Gameshow’ Production Begins
Producer Alison Owen Will Deliver Keynote At London Film Festival
The London Film Festival has announced that UK producer Alison Owen will deliver the keynote address later this month. Owen produced Saving Mr. Banks, the Tom Hanks-Emma Thompson starrer that closes the festival in its world premiere. Other sidebar events include Focus On Sustainability, which will be introduced by Colin Firth; cross-media forum Power To The Pixel; the Film London Production Finance Market; Understanding Kickstarter; and piracy and distribution workshop FindAnyFilm.com
Production Begins On ‘The Almost Impossible Gameshow’ Pilot
Viacom International Media Networks has started production on Comedy Central pilot The Almost Impossible Gameshow. The format was created and is produced by Endemol’s UK production company Initial. It features contestants who are given multiple attempts to complete five physical challenges for a cash prize. Executive producers are Steve Regan, VP Production at VIMN UK, and Lourdes Diaz, VP Development and Production for Comedy Central. At Initial, the show will be produced by Chris Lore and executive produced by Endemol UK’s head of entertainment Shaun Parry.
Listen to (and share) episode 6 of Deadline’s audio podcast Global Showbiz Watch With Nancy Tartaglione. Deadline’s international editor talks with host David Bloom about the Venice Film Festival, including unlikely Golden Lion winner Sacro Gra and another timely documentary, this one from Oscar winner Errol Morris about another former Defense Secretary, this time Donald Rumsfeld. They also discuss the grilling Parliament gave New York Times CEO Mark Thompson over fat severance packages for execs when he was head of the BBC, and the wide-ranging lineup announced for the London Film Festival later this fall.
The 57th BFI London Film Festival is screening 234 features including 22 world premieres, although many films will have already debuted at other festivals. As previously announced, the fest kicks off with Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks, and closes with another Tom Hanks-starrer, Saving Mr Banks. Galas include Venice hit Philomena; Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave; Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity (also a big hit on the Lido); the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, which bowed at Cannes; Jason Reitman’s Labor Day; and Ralph Fiennes’ The Invisible Woman, which reteams him with his English Patient co-star Kristin Scott Thomas. The festival is again spreading films out into different strands that include Love, Debate, Dare, Laugh, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Sonic, Family, Experimenta, Treasures and Shorts. It runs from October 9-20. Click over for the competition lineup:
London Film Fest Dates Set
The British Film Institute has set the dates for this year’s London Film Festival. The 57th go-around will take place from October 9-20 this year, head of exhibition and festival director Clare Stewart announced. Last year’s festival saw banner local and international premieres for the likes of Frankenweenie, Great Expectations, Argo, Amour, Beasts Of The Southern Wild and Silver Linings Playbook. The festival is currently accepting submissions for 2013. - Joe Utichi
ITV Licenses Additional Deals For ‘The Audience’
ITV Studios and ITV Studios Global Entertainment have signed new deals for The Audience, created by indie The Garden originally for Channel 4 in the UK. ITV Studios Nordic will produce 8 x 45-minute episodes for Viasat’s TV 3 in Norway, while ITV Studios Global Entertainment has secured a deal in Hungary, where Paprika Latino will produce 6 hourlong episodes for Viasat 3. ITVS GE represents the format internationally for The Garden. The Audience is from the creators of One Born Every Minute and the producers of 24 Hours in A&E at The Garden. In each episode, the show introduces someone with a life-changing decision to make who opens up their lives to The Audience – 50 ordinary people who follow them for a week and draw on their collective life experience to solve the person’s problem.
Jacques Audiard’s Cannes competition film Rust And Bone took the top prize at the 56th BFI London Film Festival this evening. This makes it two in a row for Audiard whose A Prophet was also named best film at the festival in 2009. Marion Cotillard stars as a whale trainer who suffers a horrible accident. Bullhead breakout Matthias Schoenaerts plays the man who helps her through. The London jury also praised Michel Franco’s Spanish-language After Lucia, a movie about a young girl starting over in a new town which won the Un Certain Regard prize in Cannes earlier this year and Pablo Larrain’s No, a study of how controversial advertising techniques contributed to the end of Chile’s General Pinochet. Gael Garcia Bernal stars in that film which left Cannes in May with the top Directors’ Fortnight prize. Sony Pictures Classics acquired both Rust And Bone and No earlier this year. No is Chile’s foreign-language Oscar submission and After Lucia is Mexico’s entry. The Sutherland award, which goes to the director of the most “original and imaginative” feature debut in the festival was awarded to Benh Zeitlin for Sundance smash Beasts Of The Southern Wild. The Sutherland jury also noted its admiration of Anand Gandhi’s Ship Of Thesus and Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Wadjda, the first film made by a Saudi Arabian woman. The Grierson Award for best documentary went to Alex Gibney …
The BFI London Film Festival will screen 225 features including 14 world premieres and a further 111 live-action and animated shorts. Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie is the previously announced opener and Mike Newell’s Great Expectations closes the fest. There are 12 films in the main competition, and gala presentations include Ben Affleck’s Argo, Dustin Hoffman’s Quartet, Roger Michell’s Hyde Park On Hudson and the world premiere of Rolling Stones documentary Crossfire Hurricane. The festival runs Oct. 10-21 in the British capital. Full details follow:
The 56th BFI London Film Festival is set to run from October 10-21, organizers announced this morning. Screenings and venues will increase this year, although the fest itself is running four days shorter than usual. Along with its major central locations in Leicester Square and BFI Southbank, the fest is expanding to 4 new regional London cinemas in Hackney, Bloomsbury, Islington and the oh-so-hip Shoreditch. All venues will see a jump in primetime and weekend screenings. BFI Head of Exhibition and Festival Director Clare Stewart, says, “The BFI London Film Festival is one of the jewels in the capital’s cultural crown and we want to ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to experience it.” Deadline for short film entries is June 22, features deadline is July 6.
We Need to Talk About Kevin won best picture at the BFI London Film Festival on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Scottish director Lynne Ramsay’s movie starring Tilda Swinton as the mother of a troubled boy who went on a killing spree premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May. “In the end, we were simply bowled over by one film, a sublime, uncompromising tale of the torment that can stand in the place of love,” said John Madden, chair of the judging panel. Candese Reid took the British newcomer award for Junkhearts, her first professional acting gig. The Sutherland Award for most original and imaginative feature debut went to Argentinean director Pablo Giorgelli for Las Acacias. Werner Herzog’s death-row examination Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life was chosen best documentary. David Cronenberg and Ralph Fiennes were the previously announced winners of the prestigious BFI Fellowship. Fest closes Thursday with a gala screening of Terence Davies’ The Deep Blue Sea, adapted from Terence Rattigan’s play and starring Rachel Weisz.
EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing that Magnolia Pictures is set to close a U.S. deal for Fernando Meirelles’ sexual drama 360, which opened the 55th BFI London Film Festival last night. Artificial Eye is also in talks to release 360 here in the UK on March 3 2012, I understand. Co-produced by Revolution Films, the UK production company behind IFC’s The Trip, the Peter Morgan-scripted feature follows a sexual circle of prostitution, infidelity and true love. Anthony Hopkins, Rachel Weisz and Jude Law star. Paris-based sales agent Wild Bunch is selling the BBC Films-backed project internationally. Reviews here this morning have been pretty muted: The Daily Telegraph summed up the film as a “glossily unengaging trudge through other people’s love lives,” describing one moment where a character imagines a plane carrying away his lover as “spectacularly stupid.” The Times of London gives the film a pretty dismissive 3-star review, calling the plot improbable, and said the merry-go-round structure “crushes performances into twenty-minute slots that often fail to elicit our sympathy.. The Evening Standard though was much more positive, calling 360 “a well-crafted package” and “a film of beautiful moments, elegant structure and vivid locations.”
Loach, giving the keynote speech at the London Film Festival, ridiculed senior TV executives, such as James Murdoch using last year’s Edinburgh TV Festival’s annual MacTaggart Lecture to sound off. Loach said: “I knew Jimmy MacTaggart and I have to tell you Mr Senior Executive, Mr Junior Murdoch, Mr Big-Head-of-Whatever-You-Are, you are no Jimmy MacTaggart. Jimmy would have been horrified to think his name was taken to justify the overblown self-importance of these people.” BBC director general Mark Thompson gave this year’s Mactaggart speech. Loach, who began his career at the BBC, wished “good riddance” to senior Beeb executives recently made redundant and said more should follow. The BBC is stuffed with executives who rule by committee and stifle all original ideas, he said. Loach said the BBC has become the enemy of creativity, run by “time servers” who have reduced what was meant to be a National Theatre of the air to “a grotesque reality game.” He welcomed this week’s announcement of job losses for Sharon Baylay, the highly paid marketing chief, and deputy director Mark Byford, who leaves his £475,000-a-year post with a £3.7 million pension pot and a pay-off of almost £1 million. “I’m pleased to see — we all are — that people are going to lose their jobs, albeit that they need a £1 million handshake to get out the door. Great, good riddance, maybe a few more will join them. But let’s start cutting further down,” Loach …
Danny Boyle’s film starring James Franco will close the 54th BFI London Film Festival on October 28th. The thriller depicts the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston’s attempt to save himself after a falling boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolated canyon in Utah. 127 HOURS is a Pathé, Fox Searchlight Pictures, and Film4 presentation in association with Warner Bros Pictures of a Cloud Eight/Decibel Films /Darlow Smithson production. Sandra Hebron, the Festival’s Artistic Director comments: “It is unprecedented for us to choose a Closing Night film from the same director only two years later. But 127 HOURS was the obvious choice for us – with filmmaking as bold and adventurous as its subject matter, it confirms Danny Boyle as one of the World’s finest and most visionary directors.” Danny Boyle comments, “LFF played a vital role in the journey of Slumdog Millionaire in 2008 and it’s great to be bringing new work here and renewing a happy partnership. I can’t wait to unveil the new film and I hope it provides a worthy climax to what will hopefully be two weeks of great movies for our city.” The Festival runs from October 13-28.
Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan are expected to make Red Carpet appearances on October 13th because their film Never Let Me Go is opening the London Film Festival. Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) has directed Alex Garland’s (Sunshine) adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel. Fox releases the film in the UK on January 14. Knightley, Mulligan, and Andrew Garfield (the new Spider-Man) play three schoolfriends who realise their idyllic English boarding school hides a dark secret…