British director Adam Smith will make his narrative feature debut with Trespass Against Us. Alastair Siddons penned the script for the gangster pic and will produce with Gail Egan and Andrea Calderwood of Potboiler Productions (A Most Wanted Man). Michael Fassbender is in negotiations to star as Chad Cutler, a man who wants out of his outlaw family’s multi-generational criminal ways. Smith’s credits include episodes of Doctor Who, Little Dorrit and Skins and the feature documentary The Chemical Brothers: Don’t Think. The British electronic music duo will write and perform the original score for Trespass Against Us. Siddons has directed documentaries Turn It Loose and Inside Out: The People’s Art Project. This is his first feature fiction screenplay. Shooting is scheduled for 2014 in the UK, and Protagonist Pictures will begin pre-selling the film at the AFM next week. It was developed by and is being co-financed by Film4. The busy Fassbender is shooting Slow West for director John Maclean in New Zealand and will take on the leading role in Macbeth for Justin Kurzel in January. He’s repped by Troika Talent and CAA.
Mike Fleming Jr broke this story last week that The Weinstein Company would acquire rights to a new version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. Weinstein and Fox Searchlight had been sparring over the pic. Here’s the company’s release today confirming the North American rights deal:
New York, NY (October 23, 2013) – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that they are acquiring U.S. and Canadian rights from Studiocanal for director Justin Kurzel’s (SNOWTOWN) big screen adaptation of Shakespeare’s MACBETH. Jacob Koskoff and Todd Louiso (THE MARC PEASE EXPERIENCE) have penned the screenplay for the film, which will star Michael Fassbender (12 YEARS A SLAVE, SHAME) and Marion Cotillard (THE IMMIGRANT, RUST AND BONE). The project is being produced by See-Saw Films’ Iain Canning and Emile Sherman (THE KING’S SPEECH). STUDIOCANAL is financing and is handling international sales. Film4 developed and is partnering on the project.
Catch up with the top film stories you missed this week:
OSCARS: Why Michael Fassbender’s Refusal To Campaign Likely Won’t Matter
By Pete Hammond - Campaign or no campaign, in Fassbender’s case it may not matter. He’s very likely going to get nominated — and could win — for Best Supporting Actor and I think that’s a scenario whether he lifts a finger or not in doing the usual rounds.
Tom Hanks Retraces A Life In Pictures, Talks Pitfalls Of Comedy & Freedom From Self-Consciousness At BAFTA Event
By Nancy Tartaglione - Tom Hanks was in London on Saturday to spend an evening with BAFTA. The British Academy’s Life In Pictures series is a walk through an actor or director’s career – Hanks’ this evening lasted two hours, which, considering his resumé, wasn’t nearly enough time to touch on every film.
Oren Aviv Exited As Chief Movie Marketing Officer At 20th Century Fox
By Nikki Finke - EXCLUSIVE: There’s yet another shake-up inside a major Hollywood studio. I’ve learned that Thursday will be the last day for 20th Century Fox Chief Marketing Officer Oren Aviv at Twentieth Century Fox even though his contract had another 18 months to go.
Tony Sella Not Out Yet At Fox Film – But Decision Day Is Monday
By Mike Fleming Jr. - Might 20th Century Fox Film chief creative officer Tony Sella be soon following marketing chief Oren Aviv out the door?
EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company is nearing a deal to distribute a new version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth that has Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard starring, This is the one being directed by Snowtown helmer Justin Kurzel, from a script by Jacob Koskoff Todd Louiso that features the original Shakespearean dialogue, but doing an ambitious job of visually framing Macbeth’s plight, as his ambitious wife coaxes him into taking underhanded means to grab power from the reigning king Duncan. The film’s produced by Iain Canning and Emile Sherman of See-Saw Films. TWC and Fox Searchlight have been sparring over the picture in the last month or so.
This puts Fassbender in the hands of Harvey Weinstein and despite what the actor said in GQ about not wanting to participate in the Oscar proceedings, Weinstein can certainly be persuasive in making stars of his movies see the benefit in at least trying to play the game. When an actor makes public comments like the ones Fassbender did, the danger is that it can come off as indifference or disdain to Oscar voters and the process. That puts the focus squarely on performance, which of course is where it should be anyway, but we all know life doesn’t work out that way. In this case, Fassbender’s work in 12 Years A Slave is so overpowering it might not matter. It certainly didn’t stop Joaquin Phoenix from getting a Best Actor nomination for his towering performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master even after the actor went public for his aversion to the whole Oscar dog and pony show.
Buried near the end of a lengthy Michael Fassbender profile in the November issue of GQ, writer Zach Baron gets the Oscar-buzzed actor to explain why he has no plans to do the campaign circuit this season for his supporting role as the vicious slave owner in 12 Years A Slave.
“I’m going to be busy working. I just don’t really have time. (Campaigning is) just not going to happen, because I’ll be in New Zealand. I’ll be on the other side of the world. You know, I get it. Everybody’s got to do their job. So you try and help and facilitate as best you can. But I won’t put myself through that kind of situation again. It’s just a grind. And I’m not a politician. I’m an actor,” Fassbender said of the whole Oscar process, which seems to grow every year and includes numerous Q&As, luncheons, meet-and-greets, private screenings, film festival tributes, presenting at endless awards shows, well-timed talk show appearances, etc etc. Many artists who suddenly find themselves the object of an all-out Oscar campaign find this part of the job even more grueling than making the actual film. And by the time the Oscars roll around they are spent.
Campaign or no campaign, in Fassbender’s case it may not matter. He’s very likely going to get nominated — and could win — for Best Supporting Actor and I think that’s a scenario whether he lifts a finger or not in doing the usual rounds. The film and the role are so strong it’s hard to imagine the actors branch ignoring him. Now after the nominations it could change, especially in a tight, competitive race where every vote counts.
Telluride has been buzzing since last night’s first screening of Steve McQueen‘s excellent slavery drama, 12 Years A Slave. One site which shall remain nameless was so overcome that the writer already just about declared the Oscar race over and done. “Guess we don’t have to go to Toronto now,” said a publicist here with another contender. One blogger stopped me on the street today after I saw the film and asked, “So do you agree with us (bloggers) the actor race is done?” he said in referring to star Chewitel Ejiofor‘s towering and dignified performance as the slave Solomon Northup, who lived to tell his harrowing tale and write a book about it in 1853. As I said yesterday, hyperbole is a big part of any festival like this and intelligent moviegoers are so thirsty for Oscar-quality adult movie fare they might have a tendency to go overboard with praise. But it’s a disservice to a very fine but challenging film like 12 Years A Slave to build up such high expectations no movie could possibly live up to it.
As I exited the packed 650-seat Herzog Theatre, I ran into Fox Searchlight co-President Nancy Utley, who was there gauging reaction to her film, which they open in LA and NY on October 18 and then roll out slowly. She agreed it is a film that should be “discovered” but, obviously happy with the ecstatic reaction so far at its first two screenings, added that this film needs special handling. “It’s a movie that will depend on critical reaction and awards play to really tell people that despite tough subject matter it’s a film they must see,” she said.
BREAKING: New Regency has made a deal to finance and distribute Assassin’s Creed, the screen adaptation of the Ubisoft video game that has Michael Fassbender attached to star. The project was hatched by the game maker’s Ubisoft Motion Pictures division, and the company will have strong creative input as the projects moves into the script stage. Details of the deal were not disclosed, but this is a whopping commitment for a franchise that has sold 37 million games, with the latest installment arriving in stores on Halloween.
“This is the perfect intersection of what we have been trying to do, and that is to work with top quality talent like Michael Fassbender,” said Regency CEO Brad Weston. “We see this as our first big commercial action franchise property. Fassbender just did 12 Years A Slave with us, and he is as good an actor as there is right now. The storyline we are pursuing has a great narrative and because Ubisoft’s games are so character- and story-driven, Assassin’s Creed lends itself perfectly to our goal to re-brand Regency as a filmmaker-driven company.”
Weston said he respected how selective the Paris-based company has been in turning their vidgame properties into features, and said he recalled taking the pilgrimage to Paris six years ago to try coaxing the company to make a deal. Ubisoft Motion Pictures is separately percolating two features based on the Tom Clancy-branded Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon video games.
Michael Fassbender just made a pit-stop in Venice before resuming shooting today on Ridley Scott’s The Counselor in London. Now comes word the actor has become attached to Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank. The comedy follows a young wannabe musician played by Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows‘ Domhnall Gleeson, who finds he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an eccentric pop band led by Fassbender’s mysterious Frank. The film is scripted by Jon Ronson, author of The Men Who Stare At Goats, and Peter Straughan who wrote the screenplay for that film as well as for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Shooting starts later this year.
BREAKING: Cameron Diaz is in final negotiations to join the spectacular cast of The Counselor, the Ridley Scott-directed drama based on the original script by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy. She will join Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. It is a strong supporting role she’ll play, named Malkina. Fassbender plays the title role of a respected lawyer who thinks he can dip a toe into the drug business without getting sucked down, which proves to be a life-threatening decision.
It continues the charmed track the film has been on since McCarthy surprised his ICM agents by delivering his first spec script late last year, with Nick Wechsler and Chockstone’s Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz (who produced the screen adaptation of McCarthy’s The Road) buying it preemptively. It has been a magnet for talent, particularly after Scott cleared the decks to direct it next, and set his Prometheus star Fassbender to star. The director’s Scott Free came aboard to produce with Wechsler and the Chockstone duo. That gave Fox first crack at the film, and the studio recently closed a deal to release the picture. Next came commitments from both Pitt and Bardem (who won his Best Actor Oscar for the Coen brothers-directed adaptation of McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men), and subsequently Cruz.