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Wild Bunch Boards Cristian Mungiu’s 1st Feature Since ’4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days’

By | Tuesday January 31, 2012 @ 4:36am PST

EXCLUSIVE: Wild Bunch is reteaming with Cristian Mungiu for the 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days helmer’s first feature effort since his 2007 Palme d’Or winning drama. Along with repping sales on the new film, Wild Bunch is producing with France’s Why Not and Mungiu. Set in an Orthodox convent in Romania, the story centers on a young woman’s descent into madness, her subsequent exorcism and the police investigation it sparks. Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval tells me the genre film has elements of 4 Months, but with a much more intense twist. Wild Bunch will commence pre-sales in Berlin and is eyeing a Cannes delivery date. Also on Wild Bunch’s Berlin sales slate are a series of titles likely to see play in the official selections at Cannes including West Beyrouth director Ziad Doueiri’s The Attack, a film that was previously in development at Focus. Based on the best-selling book by Yasmina Khadra, the film is about a Palestinian doctor who discovers uncomfortable truths about his wife following a suicide bombing attack. Wild Bunch has also boarded Broken, stage director Rufus Norris’ feature debut starring Tim Roth, Cillian Murphy, Rory Kinnear and Bill Milner. Adapted from Daniel Clay’s novel, story follows the turmoil a young girl faces after witnessing a violent attack. Maraval says the film could be a contender Read More »

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Participant Media Can Boast ‘Contagion’ #1 & ‘The Help’ #2; ‘Warrior’ #3 Disappoints; ‘Bucky Larson’ Bombs; Kevin Hart Still #10?

SATURDAY PM: This is shaping up as 2011′s lousiest box office weekend in North America with only $70M total grosses. Yes, even worse than Hurricane Irene’s. A lot of surprises in this weekend’s numbers and a fuller analysis is coming. But no surprise which new North American movie is No. 1:

1. With $8M Friday and +20% for $9.7M Saturday, it’s a $24M weekend for Warner Bros’ Contagion playing in 42% more theaters — 3,222 — than its nearest newcomer. This Participant Media-backed disease movie looked like yet another yikes-you’re-all-going-to-die formula pic. But I’m surprised it didn’t generate more appeal what with Oscar-winning Steven Soderbergh directing 6 Academy Award winners or nominees: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, and Laurence Fishburne. (Readers are urging me to include Oscar-honored John Hawke and Elliott Gould as well…) That added oomph to credited screenplay writer Scott Burns’ material. “Yes, it was important to be provocative and to scare people,” a Warner Bros exec tells me about the $60M-budget pic. “But both the print and trailer and TV campaign present a more well-rounded view of the mystery. We did sell the visceral experience — a smart and thrilling look at a  killer virus, the science behind it, and the aftermath.” Warner Bros took the film to Venice to solid reviews and conducted an aggressive consumer campaign. Besides, adult movies are working at the box office.

2. Entering its 5th weekend in release, DreamWorks/Disney’s hit dramedy The Help which is also backed by Participant Media made $2.7M Friday and $4M Saturday going to $9.4M from 2,935 locations for the weekend. It’s estimated new cume of $137.8M by Monday.

3. This seemingly anticipated mixed martial arts drama Warrior starring Tom Hardy (Bane in the next Batman) and Joel Edgerton was only released for 1,869 runs. It opened with $1.8M Friday and $2.1M Saturday for what was just a dismal $4.8M weekend. Another very disappointing opening for Lionsgate which was very high on this actioner. Did last weekend’s sneaks let some wannasee steam escape? Will this hurt Hardy whom Hollywood execs consider a hot soon-to-be-star?

4. Focus Features’ adult holdover The Debt earned $1.4M Friday (-45% from a week ago) from 1,874 theaters and a projected $4.5M weekend for an estimated $21.6M cume by Monday.

5. Sony Pictures’ holdover Colombiana made $1.1M Friday and $1.9M Saturday from 2,354 runs for a $4M weekend and $29.8M cume.

But I have it on good authority that Sony execs were hiding out at the Toronto Film Festival (where better-than-expected Moneyball officially premiered Friday night) rather than get tagged by its Columbia Pictures’ R-rated Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star which had one of the most annoying TV ad campaigns I’ve ever been assaulted by. Mercifully, its box office take was miniscule: $540K Friday and $570K Saturday for only a $1.2M weekend. That wasn’t even enough to make it into the Top 10 much less Sony’s hoped-for $4M. Fortunately the budget is purportedly just $10M. Usually Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production banner gives Sony box office gold: stupid pics popular with audiences. But this was fool’s gold.

Before I give you the rest of the Top 10, you should know that Kevin Hart’s Laugh At My Pain was No. 10 Friday despite Hartbeat Productions and Codeblack Entertainment releasing it into only 99 theaters. It opened to $758K Friday and an estimated weekend of $2M. But it may ultimately be beaten by The Weinstein Co’s Spy Kids 4D. (I’ll know Sunday AM.) Hart’s fans turned out for this profanity-filled film version of his recent stand-up tour. It offers less than an hour of Hart onstage but also includes such bonus footage as Hart touring his old neighborhood in Philadelphia and faking a bank heist. Directed by Leslie Small, this 1-hour, 28-minute pic and its entry into the Top 10 now establishes Hart as a bonafide star beyond just his YouTube videos which have drawn tens of millions of views. Look for the major studios to take notice.

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Hot Teaser Trailer: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

Mike Fleming

Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures have released a teaser for The Dark Knight Rises, Chris Nolan’s third and possibly final installment of the Batman franchise. Pic stars Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard, with Nolan bringing back a lot of the cast of his last film Inception.

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Steven Soderbergh Reiterates Retirement Plans: Wants “A Smallish Farewell Parade”

Mike Fleming

While I have been on record expressing the sentiment that there are many filmmakers who should retire before Steven Soderbergh, I just got off the phone with the filmmaker. And damn it, he still wants to punch out by the time he hits 50. “I’m still following my plan,” he told me. “I’ve been stupid about it, I should have kept my mouth shut, but at the same time, I don’t think there’s anything that unusual about it. By the time I finish with the series of projects I’m planning, it will be 26 or 27 films. That’s plenty and if you take volume over quality; I’m twice as good as Kubrick.”

Forecasting his exit also didn’t help in terms of preparing the industry to make a fuss over him. “I figured by giving them two years lead time, they would line up those lifetime achievement awards, but there have been no calls or anything,” Soderbergh joked. Asked what he would like, he said, tongue firmly in cheek, “The Oprah thing. A year-long daily celebration of my fabulousness would be nice. Or maybe just a smallish parade.”

Soderbergh and I were speaking about Relativity Media’s decision to release Haywire, which it financed but set distribution originally through Lionsgate. Though that picture was shot before Contagion – the thriller about the outbreak of a deadly virus that stars Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Jude Law – Haywire will be released Jan. 20, 2012, three months after Contagion. Soderbergh will talk the picture up while promoting Contagion, which he feels will help an action film that leans heavily on Gina Carano, known only to mixed martial arts fans who’ve seen her fight on the circuit. Soderbergh also liked the Relativity move because it reunites him with Relativity’s new marketing chief Terry Curtin, with whom Soderbergh worked at Universal on Erin Brockovich.

“I think it might be best for Haywire to follow Contagion, which is the kind of film people like to see me make,” Soderbergh said. “It’s in the vein of Traffic, an entertaining multi-layered story about something timely right now. Because Gina has never been in a movie before, being able to draft off Contagion will be very good. We knew she could do the right stuff, but she really delivers as a screen presence. She looks comfortable, and then she tears these guys in half.”

Soderbergh said he’ll start work in September on Magic Mike, the film that will star Channing Tatum and Alex Pettyfer as male strippers in a coming-of-age story reminiscent of Saturday Night Fever. He’ll follow by directing George Clooney in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in February. After that, Liberace with Michael Douglas and Damon will likely be Soderbergh’s swan song. While I reminded him that he’s walking away at a time when he has plenty to say and the wisdom to know how to solve problems that maturity brings, he disagreed. Read More »

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James Gray’s ‘Low Life’ Script Draws Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 5:47pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: We Own The Night writer/director James Gray is fast mobilizing his next film. It’s called Low Life, and it will star Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix, with Jeremy Renner in discussions to play the third lead. The project is being packaged by CAA. Several financiers are in the mix, but I hear that Wild Bunch will likely get it. Discussions are also taking place with domestic distributors, and deal is expected to be sealed shortly. The Hurt Locker‘s Greg Shapiro is producing.

I’m told that Cotillard will play a woman attempting to immigrate from Poland. Her American dream turns into a nightmare. While sailing to Ellis Island and a new start, her sister grows deathly ill and she is forced to trade sexual favors for medicine and food to keep her sister alive. Once they land, she is warned to keep quiet about what happened. Though she does, she walks away with immigration papers that deem her a woman with bad morals. With no place to go, she falls prey to a charming sleazebag (Phoenix), who persuades her to turn tricks in New York. Renner is close to signing on to play the sleazebag’s cousin, a magician who sweeps the young woman off her feet and is her best chance to escape the nightmarish life she has fallen into. This will be Gray’s fourth film with Phoenix, who previously starred in The Yards, We Own The Night and most recently Two Lovers. Read More »

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Warner Bros, Legendary Start Shooting ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ Final Chapter Of Christopher Nolan’s Trilogy

Mike Fleming

BURBANK, CA, May 19, 2011 – Principal photography has begun on Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ “The Dark Knight Rises,” the epic conclusion to filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

Leading an all-star international cast, Oscar® winner Christian Bale (“The Fighter”) again plays the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The film also stars Anne Hathaway, as Selina Kyle; Tom Hardy, as Bane; Oscar® winner Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”), as Miranda Tate; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as John Blake. Returning to the main cast, Oscar® winner Michael Caine (“The Cider House Rules”) plays Alfred; Gary Oldman is Commissioner Gordon; and Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”) reprises the role of Lucius Fox.

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In Other Deals: French Paper Taps Marion Cotillard For Batflick; Javier Bardem Wins Goya; Broadway Spider-Man Gets SNL Parody, More Bad Press

Mike Fleming

French newspaper Le Figaro reported Marion Cotillard is set for Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. We’ll get some clarity today, but the move makes sense given that most everyone in that cast but Anne Hathaway (Catwoman) worked with Nolan on a previous film, including Christian Bale (The Prestige), and Cotillard’s Inception cohorts Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt…

While industry attention on the weekend was mostly on the BAFTA wins by Colin Firth and The King’s Speech, Javier Bardem won Best Actor for his Biutiful performance at the Goya Awards, Spain’s version of the Oscars. The King’s Speech won Best European Film but the big winner was Agusti Villaronga’s Black Bread, which won Best Picture and eight other awards. Bardem seems like a dark horse in this race, but it sure does seem like it’s Firth’s year…

Magnolia Pictures acquired North American rights to Headhunters, the Morten Tyldum-directed adaptation of Jo Nesbo’s novel. Magnolia is likening it to another The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That is easy hype because of the geographical proximity to Sweden. But nobody in the movie business cared much about fiction that came from this region until Larsson, and it’s possible nobody will care about any of the work written by anyone but Larsson…

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Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight In Paris’ To Open Cannes Fest

Mike Fleming

Midnight in Paris, the new film by Woody Allen will open the Festival de Cannes on May 11th in the Lumière theatre, in the presence of the Jury presided by Robert De Niro.

The romcom, which was shot last year in the French capital, brings together a broad international cast, including Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard, as well as Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Gad Elmaleh and Léa Seydoux.

Following London (Match Point) and Barcelona (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), it’s the turn of Paris to be honoured by the lens of the New York film director most appreciated by European audiences.

“Midnight in Paris is a wonderful love letter to Paris”, declared Festival director Thierry Frémaux. “It’s a film in which Woody Allen takes a deeper look at the issues raised in his last films: our relationship with history, art, pleasure and life. His 41st feature reveals once again his inspiration.”

Produced by Médiapro (Spain) and Gravier Productions (New York), distributed by Mars Films in France, the film is to be released in France the same day it is screened at Cannes. French audiences will thus be able to enjoy it in 400 theatres throughout the country. For this occasion, the Festival de Cannes wishes, with the consent of its partner Canal+ and the support of the national federation of French theaters, to make the Opening Ceremony of the Festival available to any theatre requesting it, so that their audiences can experience live the entire programme of the Opening Night

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Uni Re-Teams With ‘Heartbreaker’ Talent

By | Wednesday September 22, 2010 @ 3:03am PDT

Romain Duris and Pascal Chaumeil, star and director of this year’s hit French comedy Heartbreaker, are going into business again with Universal Pictures International. London-based UPI has boarded Chaumeil’s next comedy Vivre c’est mieux que mourir (Living Is Better Than Dying), which will also star Marion Cotillard. The film goes into production summer 2011. UPI has also announced that it is co-financing two other French projects. Audrey Tatou will co-star in Jalil Lespert’s drama/mystery Des Vents Contraires. Tu Seras Mon Fils, directed by Gilles Legrand, has already gone into production. Read More »

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‘Lumières, Caméra, Action… Merde’

This morning’s Daily Mail carries an amusing story about Carla Bruni, First Lady of France, flubbing her cameo in Woody Allen’s latest 35 times. Bruni, a top model before she married President Sarkozy, committed that most basic acting error of looking straight into the camera. Zut! Even I know you’re not supposed to do that. All Bruni had to do was walk into a grocery store clutching a baguette. Allen is currently shooting Midnight In Paris on location. Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard and Rachel McAdams star.

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