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UPDATE: Todd Field, Searchlight Jump Into Bowe Bergdahl Fray After ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Filmmakers Stake Out Pic

By | Monday June 16, 2014 @ 1:24pm PDT
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Todd Field, Searchlight Jump Into Bowe Bergdahl Fray After ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Filmmakers Stake Out PicUPDATE, 1:24 PM PT: Looks like there might be competing feature projects about recently freed POW Bowe Bergdahl. Just after breaking a story that Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal are working on a film about the Army private who left his base in Afghanistan and was captured, Deadline has learned that Fox Searchlight has acquired America’s Last Prisoner Of War, an investigative article on Bergdahl by Michael Hastings, the late Rolling Stone reporter who died at age 33 in a car accident in Los Angeles last year. I’m hearing that Todd Field, the director of In The Bedroom and Little Children, is also involved. I will tell you more when I know it. Hastings was a hard-charging journo whose profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal — who ran the war in Afghanistan and who was depicted in the article as openly mocking the White House— was brought home and resigned.

mark-boal-kathryn-bigelow-image__121126060622PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 12:39 PM PT: Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer/producer Mark Boal, the team behind the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker and Oscar-nominated Zero Dark Thirty, are in the early planning stage on another timely Middle East-set feature project. They are developing a feature based on the story of Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant captured by the Taliban and held prisoner for five years after he left his base in Afghanistan. The project is taking root with Boal’s recently launched Page One shingle, which has backing from Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. She produced Zero Dark Thirty with Boal and Bigelow and will get first look at the script that Boal will write.

I’m not exactly sure what form the movie will take, but I’ve heard that the filmmakers quietly have been tracking the story for several years with a possible movie in mind. Bigelow and Boal have proved very changeable and able to adapt to developments in real time. They were ready to shop a script about a futile search for Osama bin Laden when President Obama announced that SEAL Team Six had killed the Al-Qaeda leader. Boal, a well-connected journalist who was embedded with troops in the Middle East, went back to his sources, altered course and he and Bigelow told the story of the painstaking but ultimately successful hunt for the 9/11 mastermind. Read More »

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‘Zero Dark Thirty’s Mark Boal Launches Page 1 Shingle With Megan Ellison Backing

Mike Fleming

zdtMark Boal, the journalist-turned-filmmaker who teamed with Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, has formed Page 1. The production company will hatch films and TV that will be backed by Megan Ellison‘s Annapurna Pictures. She financed Zero Dark Thirty, which Boal wrote and produced. Boal will be CEO and he has named as president Hugo Lindgren, a former editor of The New York Times Magazine and editorial director of New York Magazine. Matthew Budman will be the Annapurna executive overseeing Page 1; he worked closely with Boal on Zero Dark Thirty. Jonathan Leven will be a development/production exec. Read More »

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Pen Lit Awards Ignore Protesters, Honor ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, ‘Game Change’, Joan Didion, Kickstarter

By | Wednesday October 16, 2013 @ 12:33am PDT
Pete Hammond

Notes from Monday night’s 23rd annual Pen Center USA Literary Awards Festival:

These awards, handed out at a ritzy gala at the Beverly Hills Hotel, celebrate the “freedom to write” and generally honor books. But there were a few showbiz awards thrown in including the Screenplay honor to Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty and its television counterpart to Danny Strong for HBO’s Game Change. Kickstarter even got in on the game, winning the Award Of Honor. But the big news was happening out in front of the hotel as the Motion Picture Editors Guild followed through on threats reported on Deadline to protest the Freedom To Write award to Sonia Nassery Cole, director/co-writer/producer of Afghanistan’s 2010 Foreign Language Oscar entry The Black Tulip. Several members were there with signs claiming she stiffed them back pay for their work on the film. The protest didn’t seem to dampen the mood inside the ballroom (there was no acknowledgement of the dispute) as she won a hearty ovation when Oscar-nominated actress Shoreh Aghdashloo introduced her to receive the evening’s final award. Cole’s speech focused heavily on the fight for freedom and peace in Afghanistan, pointing out her time there was “Hell on Earth”. Her anti-Taliban book and film enabled her to fight against them, she said.”Freedom is something I have been fighting for my entire life, and for me freedom is not free. We have to fight for it every single day of our lives, especially when you go to a country like Afghanistan,” she said, although the protesters outside would probably say making a movie is “not free” either. Read More »

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Post-Oscars, Senate Intelligence Committee Closes ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Probe

By | Monday February 25, 2013 @ 4:40pm PST

It appears the Senate Intelligence Committee probe into Zero Dark Thirty is over. A Congressional aide today confirmed to Reuters that the Committee led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Senators John McCain (R-Ariz) and Carl Levin (D-Mich) has dropped its inquiry into Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-nominated film. The negative campaign from Capitol Hill had plagued the pic in the months leading up to the 85th Academy Awards, where Zero Dark Thirty went home without winning any major awards Sunday night. The Senate Intelligence Committee launched its public battle against the film in December when members issued a letter to Sony Pictures head Michael Lynton that called the film “grossly inaccurate”. The committee subsequently called for an investigation into the propriety of access given by the CIA to Bigelow and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Mark Boal, whose film depicts CIA operatives employing enhanced interrogation practices on detainees. At a WGA nominees panel this month, Boal accused his politician detractors of using Zero Dark Thirty as a “publicity platform”: “You’re talking about an institution that has lower approval ratings than head lice and cockroaches in the American public”, he said, “so I think anything they can do to, in some cases, avoid the issues that they’re voted in to do, they’ll do”.

The Osama bin Laden pic was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best … Read More »

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Does ‘Argo’s’ WGA Victory Seal The Deal For Oscar?

By | Sunday February 17, 2013 @ 11:11pm PST
Pete Hammond

Tonight’s Writers Guild of America awards show brought further clarity to this year’s topsy turvy awards race but it also brought some embarrassment to the guild. Is there any reason the WGA can’t coordinate the so-called “simutaneous” ceremonies between east coast and west coast so that winners aren’t being tweeted thoughout the room at L.A.’s JW Marriott Hotel Ballroom a full hour before they are announced to the local crowd gathered for the main awards show?

Anyone with a Blackberry or iPhone knew that Argo and Zero Dark Thirty won their respective Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay awards long before the actual winners in Los Angeles even knew thanks to word leaking out of the New York WGA East show. Argo’s scripter Chris Terrio told me he had no idea until it was announced in L.A . that he had won even though that announcement came fully an hour and a half after it was blasted across several websites including Deadline. He said he wondered if something was up when other winners on stage referred to tweets they had received indicating they had won but he never checked. Director Ben Affeck stayed home with the family but told Terrio he would be closely following events on the WGA’s live streaming site. Obviously he had reason to be happy.

Zero Dark Thirty’s Mark Boal told me his phone wasn’t working but he … Read More »

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WGA Panel: Mark Boal Strikes Back At Politicians Seeking “Publicity Platform”

By | Thursday February 7, 2013 @ 10:44pm PST

“It’s almost like it’s become a fad for politicians to use movies as a publicity platform,” screenwriter Mark Boal told Deadline of the political controversy still swirling around Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty tonight at the WGA‘s annual panel discussion with guild award nominees. Until recently the Oscar-nominated screenwriter, along with Oscar-snubbed director Bigelow, kept his feelings relatively close to his chest on the Senate critics who called for investigations into the accuracy and propriety of Zero Dark Thirty‘s account of the intelligence operations that led to bin Laden’s capture and death. With the Academy Awards less than three weeks away, he likened the Zero Dark Thirty political assault to McCarthyism: “You’re talking about an institution that has lower approval ratings than head lice and cockroaches in the American public, so I think anything they can do to, in some cases, avoid the issues that they’re voted in to do, they’ll do.”
Read More »

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Did Oscar Voter Who Spoke Out Against ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Run Afoul Of Academy Rules?

By | Friday January 11, 2013 @ 5:35pm PST
Pete Hammond

In case you are wondering if Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences member David Clennon ran afoul of official Academy rules regarding member behavior when he spoke out against Zero Dark Thirty at a media event today, he did not. Clennon said “I’m a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. The Motion Picture Academy clearly warns its members not to disclose their votes for Academy Awards. Nevertheless I firmly believe that the film Zero Dark Thirty promotes the acceptance of the crime of torture, as a legitimate weapon in America’s so-called war on terror. In that belief, following my conscience, I will not vote for Zero Dark Thirty in any category… I cannot vote for a film that makes heroes of Americans who commit the crime of torture.”

The Academy’s rules about member conduct do not extend to the First Amendment right of Freedom of Speech, even if someone like Clennon invokes his voting intentions to make a political point. The only time a member can seriously jeopardize their Academy standing is if a member or someone involved in a competing film makes disparaging remarks about another competing film or person such as The Hurt Locker producer Nicholas Chartier did in 2010 when he sent multiple emails urging members not to vote for Avatar which was also a Best Picture nominee that year. The Academy revoked his tickets to the Oscars but ultimately did not take the step … Read More »

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After Gotham Victory Lap, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Moves To D.C.; Will It Withstand Controversy Through Oscar Season And Beyond?

By | Tuesday January 8, 2013 @ 5:49pm PST
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: There were a few Amnesty International protestors outside, but Kathryn Bigelow got a warm greeting at the Newseum in D.C. for the premiere of Zero Dark Thirty. After she was introduced by MPAA head and former Senator Chris Dodd, Bigelow (named a Best Director finalist by the DGA today) touched on the torture controversy only peripherally in her opening remarks. Said Bigelow: “We had no agenda in making this film and were not trying to generate controversy,” she said. “Quite the contrary. Mark and I wanted to present the story as we understood it, based on the extraordinary research that Mark did. All of us were affected by September 11th, 2001 and the events that followed.  Among other things, it catalyzed the greatest manhunt in history.  Many of us know how it ended. Perhaps nobody knows every detail of how it happened.  We tried to bring this story to the screen in a faithful way. As a director, I make a film, and then it is up to the audience to interpret.  Each person will have their own experience with the film. This was a momentous part of our nation’s history and we wanted to illustrate the ambiguities, the contradictions, and complexities of this 10-year search. There is a tremendous debate going on about various aspects of the hunt, some of which are depicted in this film.  One thing is clear, at the end of the day it took a selfless team of individuals, many of whom we will never know or meet, to carry out this mission.  As filmmakers, we hope that this film honors their work and sacrifice.”

EARLIER, 5:22 PM: After keeping quiet for a week as three U.S. senators called Zero Dark Thirty “grossly inaccurate” and pro-torture, Oscar-winning filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal spoke out last night in the friendly confines of the New York Film Critics Circle that had voted their film the best of 2012. Tonight, the pair heads into more hostile territory for a premiere in Washington D.C., where their film has been sharply criticized for depicting a terror suspect who, after being waterboarded, gives up information that eventually leads the CIA to Al-Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. Read More »

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OSCARS: Will Criticism Or Praise Affect Race?

Pete Hammond

It looks like the U.S. Senate, a body used to politics of every stripe, is now injecting itself into Hollywood’s Oscar politics by taking visible public stands on two major Oscar contenders, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty. Disney/Fox/Dreamworks’ Oscar contender Lincoln was the beneficiary of an almost unheard of bi-partisan screening for the U.S. Senate tonight. But that was almost overshadowed earlier today when Deadline broke news of a bi-partisan letter from three key U.S. Senators, Republican John McCain and Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin, to Sony Pictures. It complained about certain aspects of the depiction of torture in the hunt for Osama bin Laden as characterized in the studio’s major Oscar contender Zero Dark Thirty. (It opened today in limited release and goes wide on January 11th, the day after Oscar nominations are announced). The scenes in question were roundly denounced by the trio: “We write to express our deep disappointment with the movie Zero Dark Thirty. We believe the film is grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Osama bin Laden.” They said they have reviewed CIA records and know the film’s “implications”  are incorrect.

Whether this kind of ringing denouncement of the admittedly “fictional” film about the hunt for bin Laden is true or not, this is not the kind of publicity the studio wants for its Oscar campaign even though controversy is usually great for box office. With Oscar voting just starting this week any suggestion that the film’s credibility is lacking (particularly from the likes of such high ranking members of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence) is not generally on any Oscar strategist’s wish list.  But Zero Dark Thirty has been enveloped in controversy right from the beginning, and today Sony strongly suggested that the pic is being misunderstood in certain quarters. The Senators are asking the studio to put a disclaimer on the film regarding events depicted as “facts” in the movie. Whether that has any ultimate effect on the film’s awards prospects, particularly at the Oscars, remains to be seen. So far it has cleaned up with critics groups’ year-end honors and fared very well with Golden Globe and Critics Choice Movie Awards nominations. It was also named one of the AFI’s top 10 movies of the year.

Related: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Gives Sony Early Awards Heat

Controversies like this have made their mark in past Oscar races with mixed results. Attacks on the credibility of the 1999 biopic, The Hurricane, in which Denzel Washington played boxer Read More »

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U.S. Senators Slam Sony For ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Torture Scene: “Grossly Inaccurate”

By | Wednesday December 19, 2012 @ 4:08pm PST

UPDATED: Deadline has obtained a copy of a highly critical letter that Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee and two other senators sent today to Sony Pictures’ boss Michael Lynton about the torture scene in Zero Dark Thirty. In the letter, Feinstein, John McCain and Carl Levin call the Kathryn Bigelow-directed film “grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Osama bin Laden.” The senators’ letter tells Sony that “with the release of Zero Dark Thirty, the filmmakers and your production studio are perpetuating the myth that torture is effective. You have a social and moral obligation to get the facts right.” In response, Sony has pointed to a statement from Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal released last week that said in part: “We depicted a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding bin Laden. The film shows that no single method was necessarily responsible for solving the manhunt, nor can any single scene taken in isolation fairly capture the totality of efforts the film dramatizes.”

Bigelow and Boal last week went on ABC’s Nightline to defend their film against claims the filmmakers were given classified information by the Obama administration that aided in making the movie.

Zero Dark Thirty, which is being released today, already has cleaned up on the awards-season circuit, having won Best Film honors from several critics organizations and snagging four Golden Globe nominations.

Here’s the senators’ full letter:

December 19, 2012

Mr. Michael Lynton

Chairman and CEO

Sony Pictures Entertainment

10202 W. Washington Blvd.

Culver City, CA 90232-3195

Dear Mr. Lynton:

We write to express our deep disappointment with the movie Zero Dark Thirty. We believe the film is grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Usama bin Laden.

We understand that the film is fiction, but it opens with the words “based on first-hand accounts of actual events” and there has been significant media coverage of the CIA’s cooperation with the screenwriters. As you know, the film graphically depicts CIA officers repeatedly torturing detainees and then credits these detainees with providing critical lead information on the courier that led to the Usama Bin Laden. Regardless of what message the filmmakers intended to convey, the movie clearly implies that the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques were effective in eliciting important information related to a courier for Usama Bin Laden. We have reviewed CIA records and know that this is incorrect.

Zero Dark Thirty is factually inaccurate, and we believe that you have an obligation to state that the role of torture in the hunt for Usama Bin Laden is not based on the facts, but rather part of the film’s fictional narrative.

Pursuant to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s recently-adopted Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program, Committee staff reviewed more than 6 million pages of records from the Intelligence Community. Based on that review, Senators Feinstein and Levin released the following information on April 30, 2012, regarding the Usama Bin Laden operation:

  • The CIA did not first learn about the existence of the Usama Bin Laden courier from CIA detainees subjected to coercive interrogation techniques. Nor did the CIA discover the courier’s identity from detainees subjected to coercive techniques. No detainee reported on the courier’s full name or specific whereabouts, and no detainee identified the compound in which Usama Bin Laden was hidden. Instead, the CIA learned of the existence of the courier, his true name and location through means unrelated to the CIA detention and interrogation program.
  • Information to support this operation was obtained from a wide variety of intelligence sources and methods. CIA officers and their colleagues throughout the Intelligence Community sifted through massive amounts of information, identified possible leads, tracked them down, and made considered judgments based on all of the available intelligence.
  • The CIA detainee who provided the most significant information about the courier provided the information prior to being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques.

In addition to the information above, former CIA Director Leon Panetta wrote Senator McCain in May 2011, stating: “…no detainee in CIA custody revealed the facilitator/courier’s full true name or specific whereabouts. This information was discovered through other intelligence means.”

Read More »

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OSCARS Q&A: Mark Boal

By | Sunday December 16, 2012 @ 8:00pm PST

Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor.

Mark BoalAs a journalist and a screenwriter, Mark Boal is no stranger to writing about modern soldiers and the wars they fight. Zero Dark Thirty reunites Boal with director Kathryn Bigelow — both won Oscars for The Hurt Locker — to chronicle the hunt for Osama bin Laden. It’s a subject that made the movie infamous long before its release as pols and pundits accused the White House of trying to bolster its image by granting Boal and Bigelow improper access to classified information about the May 2011 raid that killed the Al Qaeda leader. While Boal denies the charges — the released documents fail to prove improper access — the movie itself has at last emerged to defy political pigeonholing and throw a shock into awards season. Eschewing policymakers and presidents, Zero Dark Thirty relies on first-hand accounts of events and focuses on Zero Dark ThirtyCIA analyst Maya, who spends a decade obsessively hunting Bin Laden. Like all the characters in the movie, Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, is based on a real person — although not so much so that anyone can identify the real agent. Speaking with AwardsLine less than a day after Zero Dark Thirty first screened, Boal reflected on the intense process of putting together a complex film under such unusual pressures.

AwardsLine: You’ve been telling stories about today’s soldiers and modern wars. What do you find so attractive about these subjects?
Mark Boal: Ever since 9/11, I found myself interested in chronicling the war and the war on terror and the way that this giant machinery was affecting individuals. As a screenwriter, I’m fascinated by people that put themselves at such great risk. And there’s so many inherently dramatic components — for example, the intelligence community — that make fertile ground for a dramatist. Read More »

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‘Zero Dark Thirty’s Mark Boal Forming Page One Venture For Journo-Driven Films

By | Monday December 10, 2012 @ 11:05am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After tapping his own background in journalism to write and produce the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker and now Zero Dark Thirty with Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal‘s next project will be to try to empower other journalists to see their reporting form the basis for screen projects. He’s forming Page One Productions, a development and production company to acquire and shepherd topical TV and features based on other reporters’ stories. Boal will use his association with CAA and Management 360 to get things up and running.

At a panel moderated by Billy Ray at the WGA Theater last night in Beverly Hills, Boal explained: “I want to marry up screenwriters with reporters, and try to encourage movies that plug into the culture. And if more screenwriters became producers, I think that would be a good thing. That’s assuming of course that this film does okay. If it bombs, forget I said any of this.” Read More »

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‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Filmmakers Deny Claims White House Provided Classified Info

By | Monday November 26, 2012 @ 3:00pm PST

Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal said in an interview to air tonight on ABC’s Nightline that no classified documents were used in the making of Zero Dark Thirty, which details the Navy SEAL mission that killed Osama bin Laden. The pair told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz that claims they received top-secret help from the Obama administration on the details of the raid came down to partisan politics. “I certainly did a lot of homework, but I never asked for classified materials; to my knowledge, I never received any”, Boal said. “And I think as far as the controversy goes, you know, how can I put this — it was an election year. It was surreal and bizarre to have … I mean there were major players in the Republican Party characterizing the script and the movie before I had written a word, and I found that just really baffling”.

Related: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Debuts: Can It Overcome Controversy To Wow Oscar Voters?

Boal did tell Nightline that he spoke to people with intimate knowledge of the Navy SEAL mission, including some in the military and the CIA, but that their identities are shielded in the film. “They were proud of what they had done, but they had more or less resigned themselves to the fact that what they had done is not something they could talk about publicly,” he said. “But one of the things a movie allows people to do is talk in a way that is a little bit freer because they know that movies can change the way people look, [and] that I don’t have quite the same standards of having to reveal sources as I would if I was, let’s say, running a front-page piece in the New York Times.” Read More »

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‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Debuts: Can It Overcome Controversy To Wow Oscar Voters?

By | Sunday November 25, 2012 @ 10:20pm PST
Pete Hammond

And the hits just keep on coming. After a dry first nine months of the year, the Oscar season is heating up with one sensational contender after another. In the first half of Thanksgiving weekend, Les Miserables put itself firmly in the leading tier of the race. Now Sony Pictures’ surefire Best Picture nominee Zero Dark Thirty took over the latter half of the holiday. It earned enthusiastic standing ovations for star Jessica Chastain and director Kathryn Bigelow at a Sunday unveiling (the first major screening) at LA’s Pacific Design Center. Shrouded in controversy throughout its pre-production and shooting stages, this riveting story of the hunt for Osama bin Laden had quite a checkered history in coming to the screen. As Oscar-winning screenwriter Mark Boal explained in the Q&A following the film, he and Bigelow had been developing for the better part of a decade the story of how bin Laden eluded capture and most likely would never be caught. Then suddenly in 2011 he was nailed. That changed the whole trajectory of their story, and Zero Dark Thirty suddenly became a movie about his ultimate capture and killing.

Related: Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond, Episode 1

It’s a remarkable effort on the part of Boal and Bigelow, who won Oscars for their acclaimed The Hurt Locker three years ago. I would venture to say they will be back in the race again this year for this follow-up effort which should figure strongly in the Best Picture, Actress (for Chastain), Director, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, Cinematography, Sound Mixing and Editing and Music Score (a haunting underscore by Alexander Desplat) categories. Talk on editorial pages and among moviegoers upon its limited December 19th opening — followed by a January wide break — will only add to the Oscar potential here, with critics groups year-end honors also likely to figure into the picture.

This is turning into a hell of an Oscar race. Strategists were hoping that many of the November-December releases would fall by the wayside and clear the way for earlier contenders like Argo and Toronto sensation Silver Linings Playbook, but clearly the late-innings flicks are delivering big time, clouding the picture and adding an unusual amount of mystery to the race. Read More »

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Kathryn Bigelow, Summit Fight Back In ‘Hurt Locker’ Suit With Army Vet

The Oscar winning director, the studio and screenwriter Mark Boal say the First Amendment protects them in use of elements of Jeffrey Sarver’s life in The Hurt Locker. “By any reasonable measure, the film must be considered a ‘transformative’ work of artistic expression that is protected by the First Amendment,” they said in an 87-page brief (read it here) submitted earlier this week to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief goes on to say that there are only “generic similarities” between Sarver and the William James character played by Jeremy Renner in the 2008 film. This case may sound familiar. The former US Army explosive technician Master Sargent had his initial invasion of privacy 2010 suit against Bigelow, Boal and others dismissed in October 2011. At that time, Sarver was ordered to pay $187,000 in lawyers’ fees to Bigelow, Boal, Summit and the Hurt Locker production. The former Master Sgt. appealed that ruling last November. In his own brief (read it here) filed on July 2 against Playboy as well as Bigelow, Boal and others, the veteran claimed that the film’s use of his life was not transformative at all, that it violated his right of publicity and First Amendment rights have to balanced against his own right of privacy. Bigelow, Boal and Summit’s lawyers disagree. “Appellant cannot state a cause of action for … Read More »

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Universal Pictures Acquires International Rights To Kathryn Bigelow’s Bin Laden Pic

By | Tuesday May 15, 2012 @ 1:10pm PDT

Los Angeles, CA, May 15, 2012—Universal Pictures International (UPI) today announced that the studio has acquired select international distribution rights to Annapurna Pictures’ and Academy Award®-winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s upcoming feature film based on the true story of the team that hunted and eventually killed Osama bin Laden. Rights were acquired from Panorama Media, who is serving as the film’s international sales agent. The Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Project reunites Bigelow with her The Hurt Locker screenwriter Mark Boal. UPI will distribute the Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Project in the U.K., France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Scandinavia, South Africa and Spain.

The cast of the Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Project includes Academy Award®-nominee Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Jason Clarke, Mark Strong, Edgar Ramirez, Chris Pratt, Kyle Chandler, Nash Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle and Harold Perrineau Jr. Bigelow and Boal will produce alongside Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures. Greg Shapiro, Ted Schipper and Colin Wilson will serve as executive producers.

Sony Pictures will release the film in the United States on December 19, 2012.

Kathryn Bigelow’s Hunt For Bin Laden Pic Hit With Protests In India
Kathryn Bigelow Bin Laden Film Getting DC Scrutiny

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Kathryn Bigelow’s Hunt For Bin Laden Pic Hit With Protests In India, Gets Working Title ‘Zero Dark Thirty’: Reports

Members of the right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad group stormed the set of Kathryn Bigelow’s hunt for Osama bin Laden film in the Indian city of Chandigarh today, protesting the portrayal of Muslim culture in India, according to reports. Bigelow’s crew had been shooting there for four days although the director is understood not to have been on set during the unrest. Bin Laden was killed by a Navy SEAL team in Abbottabad, Pakistan last year, but unable to shoot there, the Sony Pictures and Annapurna Pictures film is instead using Chandigarh as a stand-in for Lahore — and the Hindu radicals are against the filmmakers portraying their sworn enemy Pakistan on Indian soil. (Since 1947, Muslim Pakistan and predominantly Hindu India have fought 3 wars and remain wary of one another.) Vijay Bhardwaj, a leader of the VHP, told Reuters, “We will not let them put Pakistani flags here and we will not let them shoot for the film.” A member of the crew told AFP that talks had been held with the Hindu protestors to try to defuse the situation. “Nothing has been shut down. We are still filming and will continue to do so,” the person said. Read More »

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Kathryn Bigelow’s Bin Laden Movie Looking To Add Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong And Edgar Ramirez To Killer Cast

By | Thursday January 5, 2012 @ 4:32pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: While the Republicans keep kicking Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s Bin Laden movie around like a political football, Annapurna Pictures and Sony Pictures are ready to get the mission underway. I’m told that Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong and Edgar Ramirez are circling to join the previously discussed ensemble cast of Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton and Chris Pratt.

The drama portrays Navy SEAL Team 6′s long hunt for the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Osama Bin Laden was finally killed in a covert mission last year. Reports today assert that the Pentagon will investigate charges made by Rep Peter King that Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker tandem Bigelow and Boal somehow got inside information about the mission from the Obama Administration in preparing the script. This saber rattling hasn’t affected the film’s progress: the script is now finished and the film is going forward. Sony Pictures has dated the film for release on December 19, deliberately steering clear of the Presidential Elections.

The prospect of Chastain joining the Bin Laden film has cast doubt on whether she will star alongside Tom Cruise in Universal’s Oblivion, which shoots in March. They apparently are trying to work out dates, but two informed sources tell me it looks dicey at the moment that she’ll do Oblivion. Chastain, who today was announced as star of a revival … Read More »

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Jason Clarke Lands Kathryn Bigelow’s Bin Laden Film; Elite Cast Circling Other Roles

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Jason Clarke is the first actor set for the Kathryn Bigelow-directed drama about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden for Sony Pictures and Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. An elite group of actors is being courted for the ensemble. I’m told that Clarke–who stars in the Ellison-produced The Wettest County in the World and is playing the gas station owner George Wilson in the Baz Luhrmann-directed The Great Gatsby–will play a terrorist hunter in service of the U.S. efforts to hunt Bin Laden. Also being discussed for roles are Tom Hardy (who also stars in Wettest County), Jennifer Ehle (Contagion), Guy Pearce (who starred in Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker), Idris Elba, Rooney Mara (upcoming Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Nina Arianda (Midnight In Paris). The plan is to start production early next year, so availability could be an issue for some of the actors. Mark Boal wrote the script and is producing with Ellison and Greg Shapiro.

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