Oscar-nominated American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook producer Jonathan Gordon has joined Megan Ellison‘s Annapurna Pictures as the shingle’s new President of Production. Gordon previously oversaw production during his 15-year run at Miramax Films, where he exec produced Good Will Hunting, Kevin Smith’s Dogma, and George Clooney’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. He also served as President of Production at Universal Pictures under Stacey Snider. Gordon’s history with director David O. Russell began with the filmmaker’s Flirting With Disaster and led to his new position at Annapurna, which arose after he worked with Ellison, Charles Roven, and Richard Suckle on Golden Globe winner and Best Picture Oscar nominee American Hustle.
Cannes: Panorama Media Rebrands As Annapurna International, Boards Charlize Theron Project ‘American Express’
On the eve of Cannes, the international sales arm of Megan Ellison‘s Annapurna Pictures is rebranding. Formerly known as Panorama Media, the company will henceforth go by the moniker Annapurna International. The rebrand is an effort to streamline the financing and international sales arm with Annapurna’s day-to-day production and finance business under one name, Ellison and Annapurna International Head of Sales Kim Fox said today. In Cannes, Fox will start sales on American Express, a project produced by Annapurna Pictures and Charlize Theron‘s Denver & Delilah. Theron is in negotiations to star with Nash Edgerton directing. Annapurna International will continue to handle titles from the mother company as well as third party projects. Also on the Cannes slate is John Krasinski’s The Hollars with Krasinski, Anna Kendrick, Richard Jenkins and Margo Martindale starring. Ellison backed Cannes Competition title Foxcatcher which has its official bow next Monday. Sony Pictures Classics will release it on November 14 in the U.S.
Mark 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.
Catch up on the stories you missed this week:
Quentin Tarantino Shelves ‘The Hateful Eight’ After Betrayal Results In Script Leak
By Mike Fleming Jr. – EXCLUSIVE: Learning today that his script The Hateful Eight leaked after he gave it to a small circle of actors, Quentin Tarantino tells me that he’s so upset that he has decided that he will not direct that film next.
Rupert Sanders Set To Helm ‘Ghost In The Shell’ For DreamWorks
By Mike Fleming Jr. – EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks has made a deal with Snow White And The Huntsman helmer Rupert Sanders to direct Ghost In The Shell, a live-action film based on the Japanese manga futuristic police thriller that has a new script from William Wheeler.
Sundance: ‘Whiplash’ & ‘Rich Hill’ Win Grand Jury Awards; Dramatic Directing Goes To Cutter Hodierne For ‘Fishing Without Nets’
By Dominic Patten and Jen Yamato – It was the first major deal of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and tonight Whiplash was the big winner at the fest’s Awards Ceremony. The Damien Chazelle-directed film about a young drummer, played by Miles Teller, and his demanding teacher, played by JK Simmons, took both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury prize and the Audience Award.
EXCLUSIVE: Although Megan Ellison and her Annapurna Pictures started the process on reviving the Terminator franchise, she has divested herself financially of involvement in the final two or three pictures that will now be solely financed by her brother David Ellison’s Skydance and Paramount Pictures. This has been confirmed to me, and I’m told she will retain an executive producer credit. No one was specific about how the funding of the films will be handled, but I’ve heard that Skydance will now fund 66%, and Paramount will pay for the rest. Others say this has not been determined, as the film is now being budgeted.
Coupled with a changeover at the top of her sales company Panorama yesterday, it might seem that Megan Ellison is tapering off. I don’t believe that’s the case. Even when she took control of The Terminator franchise when she paid $20 million or more to acquire the rights at auction around the time of Cannes 2011, this property was an anomaly for her. Her heart is in taste-maker auteur-driven fare, and she has become a patron saint of prestige films that might not otherwise get made. That is what she will focus on. Her efforts include recently named Best Picture nominees American Hustle and Her, last year’s Zero Dark Thirty and The Master, and the upcoming Bennett Miller-directed Foxcatcher.
For her brother David, Terminator: Genesis and possibly two other films to wrap up the storyline are right in his wheelhouse. He’s at home co-financing and producing large-scale popcorn pictures, and this one fits right in with his other franchises: Mission: Impossible, Star Trek and World War Z. Both of the Ellison siblings confirmed this has happened.
EXCLUSIVE: Marc Butan, who runs Megan Ellison’s foreign sales division Panorama Media, is leaving to join sales-finance-production outfit Sierra/Affinity as co-president. He will share the president role with Sierra/Affinity’s Marc Schaberg who will be co-president and COO. Sierra/Affinity’s Nick Meyer and Butan worked together previously at Lionsgate.
At Sierra/Affinity, Butan will oversee feature film development and production activities. The idea is to have him build a slate of wide-release, director-driven commercial films with domestic and global appeal that will complement the slates built by partners OddLot Entertainment and Bold Films. As part of that, Butan will bring with him films from Panorama’s production slate: his new company will rep international rights to James Gray’s Lost City Of Z, John Hillcoat’s Triple Nine, Angela Workman’s adaptation of The Zookeeper’s Wife and Pride, Prejudice And Zombies.
Butan and sales exec Kim Fox have run Panorama since its launch at Cannes in 2012 (among its first slate projects was an untitled Spike Jonze movie that ended up being Oscar Best Picture nominee Her and last year’s Zero Dark Thirty. Backed by Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures, the unit’s goal was to ”produce, finance and arrange for worldwide distribution on a slate of filmmaker-driven projects with broad commercial appeal.” Fox will remain to run Panorama, which will handle sales of all of Annapurna’s titles as well as third-party titles but move away from production. ”As Panorama currently focuses on sales, we will continue to work closely with Marc …
If Metallica can rock Comic-Con, why not Wong Kar Wai? The Weinstein Co. is bringing the director to the annual San Diego pop culture confab for promo duties and to host the first US screening of the pic about martial arts legend Ip Man, which TWC snapped up hours before it opened the Berlin International Film Festival. Tony Leung stars in The Grandmaster as the man whose exploits include famously training a young Bruce Lee. Wong co-wrote the actioner, whose exec producers include Megan Ellison of Annapurra Pictures. Your fight coordinator is Yuen Woo-ping (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Matrix, Drunken Master), which means plenty of high-speed and slo-mo action. Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen and Zhao Benshaw co-star in the pic, which smashes its way into theaters August 23. TWC’s Comic-Con premiere is set for Saturday July 20th at midnight at the Reading Gaslamp 15. Here’s the new trailer:
Paramount has confirmed the long in the works deal to cofinance and distribute the reboot of James Cameron’s Terminator franchise creation. Highbrow picture maker Megan Ellison spent over $20 million for the rights in 2011, and the project didn’t go very far. Things finally started percolating when Megan Ellison and her Annapurna Pictures joined forces with brother David Ellison, whose Skydance Productions has a deal with Paramount and makes popcorn movies. Avatar’s Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier have been working on the script for months. Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as the title character and the hope is to get at least two movies done before North American copyright reverts back to Cameron, who might want a fortune or might want to retire the franchise. Here’s the announcement:
Skydance Productions, Annapurna Pictures and Paramount Pictures have jointly announced they will partner on a rebooted “TERMINATOR” movie, to be released by Paramount Pictures on June 26, 2015.
The first in a stand-alone trilogy, “TERMINATOR” will be produced by Megan Ellison of Annapurna and David Ellison of Skydance. Dana Goldberg and Paul Schwake of Skydance will serve as executive producers. Laeta Kalorgridis (“Avatar,” “Shutter Island”) and Patrick Lussier (“Drive Angry”) are attached to write the screenplay.
Launched in 1984 with star Arnold Schwarzenegger as the title character, “TERMINATOR” spanned 3 subsequent films, which have earned over
Megan And David Ellison Will Each Pay 33% Of ‘Terminator’ Costs; Paramount Paying The Rest To Bring Arnold Back
EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: A spate of reports of movement on The Terminator franchise is a good sign that the franchise is finally starting to percolate again. I’ve learned that each Ellison — David and Megan, both scions of Oracle chief Larry Ellison — will finance 33% of the film’s budget, with Paramount finding the remaining third. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself said yesterday during an appearance in Sydney that he’s coming back and the movie will start shooting in January. None of this is really a surprise: Back in December, Megan Ellison, who’d spent $20 million to buy The Terminator sequel rights during 2011 Cannes, partnered on the franchise with her brother David. She makes prestige films and he makes popcorn fare like Star Trek and Mission: Impossible sequels, so the union made sense. The Wrap claimed an exclusive that Paramount would be the distributor. Well, through Skydance Productions, David makes all his movies with Paramount, so it was kind of obvious the films would likely land there. Skydance and Paramount are just coming through the gigantic ordeal of making World War Z, which, despite a massive budget, looks like it will do some serious global business.
As for Schwarzenegger, he’s been attached since back in May 2011, when Megan Ellison beat out Lionsgate and paid around $20 million for the franchise. She bought it from Pacificor, which had paid $29.5 million to pull the property out of bankruptcy. The latest rumor is that Megan Ellison would make a hail mary pass attempt to draft her Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow. That would be a coup, but it’s being denied, which means either that it’s not true, or Bigelow passed already. The project has been director-less since Fast 6‘s Justin Lin bowed out of the project when it was being developed solely by Megan Ellison. I met Lin at Sundance and he made it clear he wouldn’t return because he was not involved in the development of the script. Ellison in January hired Avatar and Shutter Island‘s Laeta Kalogridis and My Bloody Valentine‘s Patrick Lussier to write the script, so it stands to reason that the film should be ready to shoot by early next year.
Berlin: So Much For Bad Blood Between Harvey And Megan Ellison; TWC Acquires Wong Kar Wai’s ‘The Grandmaster’
BREAKING: I’ve read about the supposed bad blood between Harvey Weinstein and Annapurna Pictures principal Megan Ellison over the subpar box office grosses of The Master. But any idea they’re not doing business together seems to be a bit crunched by a new deal they’ve just made. The Weinstein Company has acquired all rights in the U.S. and English-speaking Canadian territories from Annapurna on Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster, which premieres tonight as the opening film at the Berlin Film Festival. TWC also landed rights to Australia, New Zealand, and the UK from Wild Bunch.
The Grandmaster, written by Wong, Zou Jingzhi, and Xu Haofeng, was executive produced by Ellison (she has money in the movie), and produced by Jacky Pang and Wong. The film opened to critical praise last month in China and has just reached over $50 million at the box office there, making it the director’s highest-grossing film in his career.
I’m sure there is uneasiness between Ellison and Weinstein. In an interview I did with him at Sundance, Weinstein acknowledged their mutual disappointment over The Master and how it didn’t break out, with Ellison not coming near recouping the $35 million or so that she spent to make the film. In hindsight, Weinstein felt he could have helped by selling the more relate-able theme of the homebound warrior who’s lost and looking for something to believe in, rather than the origins of Scientology theme that stuck with the film and didn’t get a strong response.
It is an epic martial arts drama set against the tumultuous backdrop of 1930s China and inspired by the life and times of the legendary IP Man (Tony Leung), mentor to Bruce Lee. The story focuses on two kung fu masters, IP Man, and Gong Er, and as their worlds collide on the night of the Japanese invasion in 1936. The plot encompasses themes of war, family, revenge, desire, love, and memory. The all-star cast headed by Tony Leung Chiu Wa also includes Ziyi Zhang, Chang Chen, Xiao Shengyang and Song Hye Kyo as well as hundreds of Asia’s top martial artists.
Her credits include Avatar, Shutter Island and Alexander, produced White House Down. Lussier scripted Wes Craven’s Dracula and directed My Bloody Valentine. Skydance’s David Ellison recently hired the scribes to write an original scifi adventure film, with an idea initiated by Skydance. Megan Ellison paid a fortune for the rights several years ago, and recently teamed with brother David, whose company finds big ticket action films like Terminator to be in its wheelhouse. David, who just produced Jack Reacher, had the relationship with the scribes, though interestingly Kalogridis also is tight with Terminator creator James Cameron. Megan Ellison is in the thick of the Oscar race with Zero Dark Thirty and The Master.
EXCLUSIVE: Nearly 18 months after Megan Ellison pledged over $20 million for the rights to finish The Terminator‘s humanity vs the Skynet cyborgs storyline with a new series of films, she has finally closed the complicated rights deal with Pacificorp. Other than the fact no progress has been made all this time on a script, the surprise here is Ellison has enlisted her brother, David Ellison, to be her financial and creative partner. There is still no studio attached, but future Terminator films will be done as a co-production between her Annapurna Pictures and his Skydance Productions. The Ellisons will produce, while Dana Goldberg, Paul Schwake and Ted Schipper will be exec producers.
Even though Pacificorp spent $29.5 million several years ago to win the rights after Halcyon turned them over to bankruptcy court, insiders tell me that the big numbers in place 18 months ago have been adjusted downward. That is because of the uncomfortable specter of a ticking clock that has continued to wind down as no forward progress was being made. New copyright laws allow for North American rights to The Terminator to revert back to creator James Cameron in 2019 (that happens after 35 years, and The Terminator was 1984). While that law hasn’t been tested in the courts, no major film company would want to move forward on a project with a potentially catastrophic rights crisis looming. So the original pricey deal — made with the expectations there would be three films — was scaled down because the reality is they might only get to make two installments. Four films have been made so far, the first two directed by Cameron, another by Jonathan Mostow and the last, 2009′s Terminator Salvation, helmed by McG.
The Weinstein Company has provided the first images from The Master, the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed film that stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams. In this clip there is no Hoffman, who plays a man who creates a belief system and watches it take off in post-war America. Phoenix plays a guy looking for something to believe in, who becomes the title character’s right-hand man who then begins questioning his course. Many reports have claimed this movie is about Scientology, but from what I’ve heard it is as applicable to Mormonism or any modern-day belief system that launches and draws a following. The film, which languished at Universal and then was orphaned because of its $35 million budget, finally got made because Megan Ellison had the money to allow Anderson to see through his vision. It is always a compelling vision, so good for Ellison, who can afford to take a risk on an auteur.
The past year has seen the emergence of producers from varied backgrounds who are working on high-profile projects with major talent. This year in Cannes, a constantly heard refrain is that there is an abundance of quality product. Below are some of the key producers responsible:
Megan Ellison: The daughter of Oracle founder Larry Ellison has deep pockets and good taste that have put her at the forefront of today’s hot producers via her Annapurna Pictures. She’s also respected for what one distributor says is her “strategy of working only with strong directors.” Of the official selection films in Cannes, she produced John Hillcoat’s Lawless. Last year at Cannes, she won a bidding war for the rights to make 2 more Terminator installments. On her upcoming roster are Kathryn Bigelow’s hunt for Bin Laden pic, being sold by the sales company she’s backing, Panorama Media. There’s also Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths (sold by Hanway), Paul Thomas Anderson’s upcoming The Master, which the Weinsteins have and Inherent Vice starring Robert Downey Jr as well as Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher with Steve Carell and Channing Tatum and also via Panorama. Deadline also recently reported a big deal is in the works for Ellison and Annapurna to fully fund American Bullshit, the drama that has David O Russell attached to direct, with Christian Bale also attached and Bradley Cooper in talks.
Red Granite: When Red Granite Pictures launched its international sales division in Cannes last year, they did so in style. You can tell a lot about a company from the way it throws a party and Red Granite’s last year is one people still talk about. Kanye West performed with Jamie Foxx joining him to duet on Gold Digger while Leonardo DiCaprio, Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt rocked out on the beach. In 2011, Red Granite’s first production, Westfeldt’s Friends With Kids, was released and the company has steadily been building its roster of impressive product including Wolf Of Wall Street with DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese and Out Of The Furnace starring Christian Bale, Zoe Saldana and Casey Affleck which Scott Cooper is directing. Red Granite is also selling those pictures. Exec Joe Gatta tells me the company’s vision is to “make quality movies first and foremost. It’s a tough business; we have a lot of competition and we want to stand out as a company that’s getting the movies made.” Gatta says Red Granite wants to “grow, but grow steadily.” That could “in the future” include distribution, but the company will definitely grow its sales division under Danny Dimbort, the former Millennium/Nu Image partner who Gatta calls “the best in the business.” The goal for Red Granite is to be doing 3-5 productions per year with some third party pick-ups in the mix.
Los Angeles, CA – April 26, 2012 – Annapurna Pictures, Megan Ellison’s nascent production company, has agreed to back Panorama Media, a new production, financing, and international sales entity based in Los Angeles. Panorama will be run by company President Marc Butan and its Head of International Sales Kimberly Fox.
Panorama’s mandate is to produce, finance and arrange for worldwide distribution on a slate of filmmaker-driven projects with broad commercial appeal. In addition to originating product for the worldwide marketplace, Panorama will also serve as the international sales agent on select Annapurna projects and quality third party titles.
Panorama will launch at Cannes 2012 with its initial slate of films including the currently shooting Kathryn Bigelow project, a new project written and directed by Spike Jonze and Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” project. The Company expects to announce several other titles in the weeks leading up to the market.
“I fully believe in Marc and Kim’s ability to develop and expand this business,” said Ellison, “I consistently see projects that I would like to support in addition to my current slate. Panorama will provide the extra bandwidth which will allow us the opportunity to get involved with these films.”
“I am looking forward to building an operation which suits the needs of both filmmakers and distributors worldwide while living up to the high standards set by Annapurna and its films,” said Butan.
“There is a great opportunity in the international markets today,” Fox adds,” Distributors are seeking, more than ever, high end theatrical titles – exactly
EXCLUSIVE: While the acquisitions landscape is showing signs of that pre-Cannes dullness, a big deal is in the works for Megan Ellison and her Annapurna Pictures to fully fund American Bullshit, the drama that has David O Russell attached to direct, with Christian Bale also attached and Bradley Cooper in talks. The Eric Singer-scripted drama–which not surprisingly will get a different title–is about the 70s FBI sting operation Abscam that took down a bunch of U.S. congressmen. It is being produced by Charles Roven and Richard Suckle through Atlas Entertainment. Sony Pictures is the likely distributor; Atlas developed the film there. The studio was always looking for a partner, but Ellison evidently has decided to take all the risk and fund a budget I’m told is in the mid-$30 million to $40 million range. The hope is to close a deal and start production in January, but deals have to be made with talent and Russell has several possible next projects, including the Warner Bros Colombian hostage rescue pic The Mission that has the eye of Brad Pitt.
You might remember Deadline wrote about the project after Russell’s camp initially denied he was involved (I stupidly held it), and then his name started surfacing in trade reports and I tried to decipher who was bullshitting whom. Deadline revealed then that the potential star was Bale, who won …
UPDATE: Sources tell me that the project that Morton, Adams and Mulligan and Phoenix are doing was written by Spike Jonze himself, and not Charlie Kaufman. The film is about a guy who falls in love with the voice of a computer, similar to the Siri feature on the new iPhone.
EXCLUSIVE: I am hearing that Samantha Morton, Amy Adams and Carey Mulligan are in discussions to star with Joaquin Phoenix in the untitled project that Spike Jonze will direct, with a script by his Being John Malkovich and Adaptation scribe Charlie Kaufman. It’s very difficult to get any confirmation on the project because the filmmaker is secretive as is the financier, Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures. Deadline was first to reveal the project when it was shopped early last year to financiers and Ellison took it off the table.
At the time, I’d heard the film is a satire about how world leaders gather to figure out all the seismic events that will take place in the worlds, from oil prices to wars that will be waged. The Principato-Young-repped Morton next stars in John Carter; the WME/Brillstein Entertainment Partners-repped Amy Adams next plays Lois Lane in Man of Steel and soon stars with Clint Eastwood and …
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.
EXCLUSIVE: Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures has acquired and will finance Bitterroot, a drama that is being produced by Gore Verbinski’s Blind Wink banner and Scott Aversano. The film will likely mark the feature directorial debut of Chris Milk, an inventive helmer of music videos. The script is by Michael Gilio. Blink Wink’s Verbinski and Jonathan Krauss will produce with Aversano and his Aversano Films banner.
The film has long been a passion project for Verbinski, who originally set it up at Universal with the intention of directing it. He’s preoccupied with The Lone Ranger and decided to produce instead. Bitterroot, which was set up under the title Black Hole (the script made the Black List) is the story of an aging rancher in Montana who gets swindled out of his life savings in a bank scam. When nobody seems to be accountable, the rancher saddles up his horse, puts on his duster, grabs his guns and trots off to Bitterroot to get his money back. The Occupy Wall Street movement and general frustration over the lack of corporate accountability stemming from the 2008 financial meltdown gives the film a timely man against the system premise.
The intriguing part of this is Milk getting his feature shot. There has been an influx of imaginative video and commercial directors debuting on big features, and Milk is as accomplished as any of them. He first …