When Luc Besson shot The Lady, he and his backers did their best to pretend it was not about Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader who spent 15 years under house arrest because of her relentless nonviolent campaign for democracy. They kept it under wraps because they didn’t want to jeopardize the chance she might be freed, and because they might have had problems during the shoot in Thailand. She was freed last November. The film is a real departure for Besson, who is best known for fast-moving action films from Taken to Colombiana. He is unveiling the film at the Toronto Film Festival in a World Premiere on September 12. They’ve given Deadline an exclusive look at the teaser one-sheet. The one on the left is Michelle Yeoh, who plays Aung San Suu Kyi in the film. Both of them were designed by Shepard Fairey.
The current wave of French directors making Hollywood films seems to have taken Jean-Luc Godard’s advice (“All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl”), amped it up with a healthy dash of special effects or 3D and taken it to the bank.
Louis Leterrier, director of The Incredible Hulk and Clash of the Titans, will in January be making Summit’s movie about magicians who rob banks during performances Now You See Me, with Star Trek writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci producing. Fred Cavayé, director of the original French version of the Russell Crowe-thriller The Next Three Days, is in talks with studios to remake his latest, Point Blank.
“I grew up watching American movies, so my lexicon is American directors like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas,” Leterrier said. “These movies seeped into my artistic DNA. At the same time, because Paris is the capital of world cinema, I was also watching French films, German cinema or kung fu movies from Hong Kong. What makes me and other French directors different from Americans is that we were feeding ourselves from other cultures.”
The communication revolution and modern travel realities are making it easier for French helmers to cross over to Hollywood. Today an agent in Beverly Hills can watch something online and make contact pretty within hours. “There’s a fluid traffic in information,” says Ron Halpern, executive vice-president of international production at Studio Canal. “The world has gotten smaller. The speed of communication means that foreign directors are on people’s radars much quicker. And when a studio is looking for something fresh and interesting, a foreign eye can often bring something.”
EXCLUSIVE: Harlan Coben, one of the biggest-selling mystery writers in America, is finally in line to have one of his books made into a major Hollywood film. And all he had to do was make a detour through France.
Warner Bros and Universal Pictures have optioned rights to Coben’s thriller Tell No One. Ben Affleck is attached to direct, and the script will be written by Chris Terrio. Terrio scripted Argo, the film Affleck is preparing to direct next for Warner Bros. Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will be the producers. The studios will co-develop the picture, with Warner Bros releasing domestically and Universal Pictures International launching it overseas. The deal involves Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp, and that’s where the French connection comes in. The new project is basically a remake of the French film adaptation of Coben’s book, which was directed by Guillaume Canet.
Coben originally set up his book at Sony Pictures in 2002. The studio hired Star Trek scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, no less. Coben has a page-turning writing style, but his mysteries aren’t seamless screen transitions. It never quite came together and Sony let it go. Canet then got involved, figured out how to make the premise work, set it up at EuropaCorp and turned it into French film. The plot involves a pediatrician who is out one night frolicking by a lake with his wife when she suddenly vanishes and he is severely beaten when he tries to find her. When she turns up murdered, he is prime suspect. That’s until she’s declared a victim of a caught serial killer. Years later, bodies turn up in the same spot and the nightmare is repeated, the pediatrician again under suspicion. Right around that time, he’s given evidence that his wife wasn’t dead at all. Canet managed to make all of that work, anchored by the fact the protagonist never got over the death of his wife. Sarah Schechter and Greg Silverman are running the project for Warner Bros, and Adam Yoelin is steering it for Kennedy/Marshall.
Sony Pictures has issued a trailer for Colombiana, which stars Avatar’s Zoe Saldana as a stone-cold assassin. It’s directed by Olivier Megaton, whom Deadline was the first to tell you would be directing Liam Neeson in Taken 2. The pic is written by the Taken team of Luc Besson and …
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
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
WEDNESDAY, JULY 21
Luke Y Thompson covers Hollywood events at the Con for Deadline:
To cover Comic-Con comprehensively would take more people than most any media outlet can actually spare; to cover most of the major …