Fox recently cleared some prime summer 2015 real estate for its reboot of Marvel’s Fantastic Four, now it appears to have its actors. After a long search — Chronicle‘s Josh Trank was announced as the director at the …
Welcome to the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Scientific & Technical Awards which were handed out last night during a surprisingly entertaining ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hotel. I have been to just about every different conceivable kind of Academy function over the three decades I have been covering Oscars but this was my first time at this event which the Academy has been doing in one form or another since they started handing them out in the Oscars‘ fourth year, 1930-31. I guess I always thought this might be a rather dull sort of thing to sit through. I barely understand how to get my emails so imagine a ceremony that is all about honoring the ILM Plume System, the Flux gas simulation system, the Zeno application framework, a thesis on the fundamental concepts of deep shadowing technology, the design of the Pneumatic Car Flipper or the Flying-Cam SARAH 3.0 system? And that’s just for starters in a show that handed out a LOT of Technical Achievement certificates, Scientific and Engineering Plaques and even a couple of real Oscar statuettes toward the end of the evening (Peter W. Anderson won one of those as recipient of the Gordon E. Sawyer award this year). But there was a lot of spirit in the room and judging from the whoops and hollers that went for five guys in tuxedos going up to accept for the development of the ASC Color Decision List technology you’d think they just won Best Picture. “When I was a kid nobody told me if I wanted to win an Academy Award I should study mathematics,” one winner said wryly. Like I said this was an entertaining evening, particularly considering the geek factor. And the clips were great too, going a long way to shedding light on just what these unheralded wizards do for the movie industry.
Open Road Acquires Domestic On ‘Triple Nine;’ Michael B. Jordan, Aaron Paul, Gal Gadot, Michael Pena Join Killer Cast
EXCLUSIVE: Open Road Films has just completed a deal to pre-buy domestic distribution rights on Triple Nine, the John Hillcoat-directed heist thriller, which begins production this summer with a killer cast. Fruitvale Station’s Michael B. Jordan, Breaking Bad and Need For Speed‘s Aaron Paul, Warm Bodies’ Teresa Palmer, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman in the Batman Vs. Superman film) and End Of Watch‘s Michael Pena are in talks to join previously announced 12 Years A Slave‘s Chiwetel Ejiofor, Out of the Furnace’s Casey Affleck and Kate Winslet. Hillcoat, who just helmed that distinctive Super Bowl spot for Coke, wrote the script with Matt Cook. Open Road will release the film in 2015.
The rights deal comes on the eve of the European Film Market, where Sierra/Affinity is handling international sales for the project and will sell select territories in Berlin. In the drama, a crew of dirty cops is blackmailed by the Russian mob to execute a virtually impossible heist. The only way to pull it off is to manufacture a 999, police code for “officer down”. Their plan is turned upside down when the unsuspecting rookie they set up to die foils the attack, triggering a breakneck, action-packed finale filled with double-crosses, greed and revenge.
2013 Gotham Awards: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis,’ ‘Fruitvale Station,’ ‘Short Term 12,’ ‘Dallas Buyers Club’; Lee Daniels Talks Racism: “I Became Very Angry At White People”
The Coen brothers‘ Inside Llewyn Davis won Best Feature tonight at the fourth annual IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards but lost some of the spotlight to presenter Lee Daniels, who made some eyebrow-raising remarks. Kicking off awards season in NYC, the trophy show propelled the CBS period folk music drama and Fruitvale Station, Dallas Buyers Club, and docu The Act of Killing toward the Oscars. The raucous audience at Cipriani Wall Street chattered so loudly during Daniels’ tribute speech his The Butler star Forest Whitaker that he tried to shush them with a few f-bombs. “Forest would like to hear all you talking through my speech, so shut the f*ck up,” admonished Daniels. He wasn’t the only presenter to complain onstage about the Gothams crowd, as Julie Delpy threatened to set herself on fire to get their attention while presenting another tribute, to Before Midnight helmer Richard Linklater.
Big wins went to Fruitvale Station, which nabbed Best Breakthrough Director and Actor for Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, respectively. Dallas Buyers Club star and Oscar hopeful Matthew McConaughey won the Gothams’ inaugural Best Actor award and accepted via iPhone through co-star Jared Leto with his signature “All right, all right, all right.” Short Term 12‘s Brie Larson nabbed Best Actress honors, boosting the SXSW winner’s awards profile. Presenting Best Documentary, Morgan Spurlock took a shot at public television (“PBS: We pay more money than IFC”) before presenting the Gotham to Joshua Oppenheimer’s Oscar hopeful The Act of Killing.
Host Nick Kroll (Kroll Show, The League) struggled with the ambivalent room early on with a roast of the indie scene: “To the people from L.A. or abroad, I hope you’re enjoying your tiny hotel room you had to pay for out of pocket because Magnolia or IFC wouldn’t pony up.” Riffing on the night’s nominees, he quipped, “A common theme in this year’s movies are the horrors we inflict upon one another – slavery, war, folk music… .” Unfortunately for Kroll, he was upstaged by New York Mayor Bloomberg. “Independent filmmakers and New York have a lot in common… We both want Harvey Weinstein to be nice to us.” Boosting local filmmaking versus runaway production to neighboring Canada while presenting the tribute to his Media and Entertainment Commissioner Katherine Oliver, Bloomberg joked, “For the record: the mayor of Toronto and the mayor of New York do not have a lot in common.”
‘Fruitvale Station’ Duo Ryan Coogler And Michael B. Jordan Team With Sly Stallone On MGM ‘Rocky’ Spinoff ‘Creed’
EXCLUSIVE: MGM is setting Ryan Coogler to direct Creed, and the studio is in early talks with Coogler’s Fruitvale Station star Michael B. Jordan to play the grandson of Apollo Creed in a continuation of the Rocky saga that Coogler is going to write with Aaron Covington. Sylvester Stallone will reprise Rocky Balboa as a retired fighter-turned-trainer. This comes in the wake of a strong summer platform opening for Fruitvale Station, the film that won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Awards at Sundance, and captured Prize Of The Future at the Cannes Film Festival, where Coogler and Jordan were the toast of the Croisette. Coogler intends for this to be his directorial follow-up to Fruitvale Station so the intention is to make it happen quickly.
Now, I know the knee-jerk reaction is to say it’s hard to get excited about what amounts to the seventh film in the Rocky series. This feels different to me, mostly because of how it came together. Much the same way that Coogler burned with the desire to tell the tragic story of Oscar Grant in his feature debut and begged Jordan to play the role in the $900,000 budget film, this whole idea also came from Coogler. When he signed with WME, Coogler identified Creed as a dream project. While Coogler already had the relationship with Jordan, the agency put him together with Stallone. Stallone, who is right now heavily involved in a stage musical transfer of his original Oscar-winning 1976 film Rocky, loved the idea and felt it was strong enough for him to bring back his signature screen character. Stallone and Coogler then approached MGM’s Gary Barber and Jon Glickman, and they flipped for it. The film will be produced by Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff, who produced the original, along with Stallone and Kevin King.
The intention is for Jordan to play the grandson of Apollo Creed (played in the early movies by Carl Weathers). Raised in an upper-crust home thanks to the ring riches earned by his grandfather, the young man doesn’t have to box and his family doesn’t want him to. Yet, he has the natural instinct and gifts and potential that made his grandfather the heavyweight champion until Rocky Balboa took his crown in 1979′s Rocky II. Creed’s grandson needs a mentor and turns to Balboa, who is out of boxing completely and not eager to return.
UPDATE: At a Q&A following a Saturday night screening of Fruitvale Station in LA, star Michael B. Jordan told the audience: “I want to hear your questions tonight and answer them. But if you could keep it away from Trayvon, I think my opinion on that is not going to help anybody right now.” Jordan was there to talk about the acclaimed Sundance and Cannes Film Festival award-winning film about Oscar Grant, the young black man who was killed by a white BART officer in a 2009 New Year’s Eve incident at the Fruitvale Station stop in Oakland. ”My heart hurts so bad right now. I wasn’t going to come after I found out about George Zimmerman getting acquitted. It broke me up. That’s why I think this film means so much, because it keeps happening again and again. [We must] learn how to treat each other better and stop judging one another just because we’re different. It’s not just a black and white thing, it’s a people thing. It’s the only way that things are going to take the necessary steps to move in the right direction so things can get better because I don’t think it’s ever gonna stop, but something’s gotta f*****g change.”
Fruitvale Station opened this weekend on seven screens. The Weinstein Company‘s distribution head Erik Lomis said the movie is headed for what may be a stellar $50,000 per screen first weekend gross putting it the top tier of 2013 specialty openings. He says the company plans to expand it to another 6 markets next weekend and go nationally on July 26th.
The Cannes Film Festival is over for me, and when I come to a place like this, I find myself asking, where are the next stars coming from? Between Fruitvale Station’s Michael B. Jordan and writer-director Ryan Coogler, and Inside Llewyn Davis’ Oscar Isaac, I feel like I got three answers to that question over the course of a weekend.
I come to Cannes primarily to chase deal stories, as I do in Toronto and Sundance. At those other two, the threat of transactions leaves me confined to a hotel room waiting for action. The sporadic action here allowed me see movies and stroll down a rain-soaked Croisette. The drivers here are entirely dangerous in their tiny cars; one driver trying to turn came so close to plowing into my leg that I had to pound his hood with my fist (luckily I didn’t damage my typing finger, which would have cut my output in half). I also made time to see movies including Fruitvale Station, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Behind The Candelabra. While Steven Soderbergh ends the movie-making part of his movie career 24 years after it began here when he won Palme d’Or in 1989 for sex lies & videotape, the road is just beginning for Jordan, Coogler and Isaac. Based on the films I saw here, each has a long drive ahead.
I spoke briefly with Isaac following the Inside Llewyn Davis premiere and jokingly asked him how they possibly could have overlooked him for Les Miserables, given his remarkable singing chops. He seemed jolted for a moment and then smiled as I did, because we both knew this was much, much better. Joel and Ethan Coen created a tour de force folk-singer role for him that any actor with pipes could only dream about. “This might sound cliché, but I feel like I’ve been training 33 years just for this movie,” said the 33-year-old actor. Judging by the talk I overheard between CBS Films and Isaac’s reps about keeping room in his late-year schedule for Oscar-season stumping, Isaac wasn’t overstating the case.
Coogler, meanwhile, is a 27 year old who hails from Oakland, and who got a football scholarship and then went to study film at USC. He found his feature debut in the story of Oscar Grant, the young man whose accidental shooting by roughshod cops atop a train platform created national outrage. Jordan plays Grant and to watch him, Coogler and their cohorts staring wide-eyed at the Cannes premiere crowd at the Palais was charming. A standing ovation must have lasted 10 minutes, and I can’t recall a movie where I saw so many audience members in tears, a remarkable accomplishment since so many absorbed the dialogue through subtitles. Much of the movie’s power is Jordan’s engagingly accessible screen persona, but a lot of credit goes to Coogler. As I and other journos milled around him, I could see Coogler bristle when they put him in the “black filmmaker” category, and it doesn’t surprise me that one reason Harvey Weinstein won Fruitvale Station over other bidders is that he was the only mogul who, when speaking to Coogler, drew parallels to films like The Bicycle Thief, classics Coogler studied in school. Coogler made more right decisions in this movie than is usual for a first-time feature director. His best one: making this a family story and not an angry urban polemic. It makes Oscar’s tragedy relatable to anyone who has abruptly lost a loved one (it hit me like a sledgehammer). As for the Cannes adulation, Coogler was overwhelmed, but applied a lesson learned on the football field when he was a wide receiver. “You constantly remind yourself over and over to concentrate on catching the ball and securing it first, before you try to run with it.” It is all about attention to technique and detail, he said, and he’ll take his time figuring out the next film. It will be something he can make personal, the way he did Fruitvale Station.
EXCLUSIVE: Just as his breakout film Fruitvale was announced this morning in the Un Certain Regard category of the upcoming Cannes Film Festival, actor Michael B. Jordan …