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‘Sea Of Trees’ With Matthew McConaughey Begins Lensing In Massachusetts, Japan

By | Wednesday July 30, 2014 @ 10:36am PDT

‘Sea Of Trees’ With Matthew McConaughey Begins Lensing In Massachusetts, JapanGus Van Sant‘s next directorial Sea Of Trees starring Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe and Naomi Watts is currently in production in rural Massachusetts and will be moving its production to Japan in September.  Financier and producer Ken Kao and Alex Walton’s international sales, production and financing company, BLOOM, launched and introduced Sea Of Trees in Cannes, and by the end of the festival had sold out most of the world.

Van Sant has assembled a top-notch creative team to work on the film including Oscar-winning editor Pietro Scalia, Emmy nominated production designer Alex DiGerlando (HBO’s True Detective), cinematographer Kasper Tuxen (Beginners), Oscar-nominated costume designer Danny Glicker (Milk, Up In The Air) and make up department head Felicity Bowring (The Bourne Legacy, The Social Network). Read More »

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Toronto: Sands Shift In ‘Queen Of The Desert;’ Nicole Kidman Eyed To Replace Naomi Watts As Gertrude Bell

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Looks like director Werner Herzog is going to get a new Queen Of The Desert. I’m hearing that Naomi Watts is exiting the film about the early 20th Century explorer Gertrude Bell, and that Nicole Kidman is in talks to take the plum role.

This follows a switch of the male leads earlier this year, when Jude Law departed and James Franco replaced him. Robert Pattinson also stars. Bell is the iconic explorer, writer, archeologist and attaché for the British Empire who is credited with helping to catalyze the formation of the Middle East at the dawn of the 20th century. The story plays with the sweep of Lawrence Of Arabia, potentially, and Kidman seems a nice match for the material.

Nick Raslan is producing through his Palmyra Films banner along with Cassian Elwes and Michael Benaroya. Benaroya’s Benaroya Pictures banner will finance the film. Sierra/Affinity will handle international sales.

Kidman is here in Toronto where her new movie The Railway Man premiered Friday evening. That Jonathan Teplitzky-directed film, about a brutalized WWII POW who gets to confront his Japanese torturer, is considered a prime acquisition title here in the festival here. Kidman also stars in the Olivier Dahan-directed Grace Of Monaco, which The Weinstein Company releases November 27, in the head of the Oscar race. Kidman is repped by CAA and … Read More »

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Toronto: Naomi Watts To Star In Errol Morris-Helmed ‘Holland, Michigan’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Naomi Watts is in talks to star in Holland, Michigan, a thriller that will be directed by Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris from a script by first time screenwriter Andrew Sodroski. The script is described as a suburban thriller with pitch black humor. Le Grisbi Productions’ John Lesher and Adam Kassan are producing and Sean Murphy will be co-producer. Production will start in April.

Watts will be seen next as Princess Diana in the Oliver Hirschbiegel-directed biopic Diana. She just wrapped the Ted Melfi-directed St. Vincent De Van Nuys with Bill Murray and the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed Birdman, the latter of which Lesher produced.
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‘Diana’ Release Date Set For November 1

By | Monday August 26, 2013 @ 11:16am PDT

BREAKING… Entertainment One will release Diana, the Princess Diana biopic starring Naomi Watts, on November 1 in the U.S. in limited nationwide release. The distributor plans an expansion in subsequent weeks. The Oliver Hirschbiegel-directed drama about a secret love affair that Princess Diana had shortly before her tragic death was one of the higher-profile pictures shopped at the Cannes Film Festival, and eOne bought the rights from Embankment Films and Ecosse Films. The deal for the newbie distributor and now the release date firmly in Oscar season certainly puts Watts in the Best Actress conversation. Here’s the trailer for it that dropped earlier this month:

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Hot Trailer: ‘Diana’

By | Tuesday August 6, 2013 @ 11:46am PDT

Naomi Watts is Princess Di in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s biopic Diana, chronicling the Princess of Wales’ last two years and relationship with Pakistani heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan (Naveen Andrews). EOne snagged the pic out of Cannes and is eyeing an Oscar season stateside debut. The US trailer will be out soon; until then, here’s the first-look UK version:

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Hot Trailer: ‘Adore’

By | Monday June 24, 2013 @ 3:50pm PDT

Naomi Watts and Robin Wright are BFFs who become romantically entangled with each others’ son in Anne Fontaine’s (Coco Before Chanel) English-language debut. Oscar-winning writer Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons) adapted the script from Doris Lessing’s novella (and ostensibly not from SNL‘s Motherlover skit). Adore debuted at Sundance under the title Two Mothers. Exclusive Media will release the pic in theaters and on demand September 6. Here’s the trailer:

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Hot Teaser Trailer: Naomi Watts In ‘Diana’

By | Wednesday June 12, 2013 @ 7:01am PDT

Entertainment One has released a UK teaser trailer for Diana, the Oliver Hirschbiegel-directed drama about a secret affair that Princess Diana had shortly before her tragic death. Naomi Watts stars in the pic with Naveen Andrews as Dr. Hasnat Khan, the Pakistani heart surgeon Diana dated before meeting Dodi Fayed. Stephen Jeffreys wrote the script. The film was a hot property in Cannes last month where eOne made the acquisition for the U.S., the UK, Canada and Spain. The film goes out in the UK on September 20.

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Naomi Watts & Robin Wright Sundance Pic Gets Release Date And New Title

Mike Fleming

The steamy film that sold in Sundance under Two Mothers has gotten a release date and a new title. The Aussie-set film will now be called Adore. It stars Naomi Watts and Robin Wright as two lifelong friends, each of whom starts a torrid affair with the son of the other woman. It was acquired at Sundance by the Exclusive Media arm Exclusive Releasing, and it will be given a day-and-date release on September 6. The film’s directed by Coco Before Chanel helmer Anne Fontaine in her English-speaking directorial debut. It was scripted by Christopher Hampton, based on the novel by Nobel Prize for Literature winner Doris Lessing. Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville play the sons. Read More »

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Cannes: EOne Announces Itself As Player In U.S. Distribution By Acquiring Naomi Watts-Starrer ‘Diana’

By | Thursday May 23, 2013 @ 10:34am PDT
Mike Fleming

Diana Movie Naomi WattsEXCLUSIVE: Entertainment One has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Diana, the Oliver Hirschbiegel-directed drama about a secret love affair that Princess Diana had shortly before her tragic death. With Naomi Watts as the princess, this was one of the higher-profile pictures shopped at the Cannes Film Festival and eOne bought the rights from Embankment Films and Ecosse Films. eOne will also distribute with major releases in the UK, Canada and Spain with the U.S. film coming in Oscar season later this year.

Hirschbiegel helmed the Oscar-nominated Downfall, and screenwriter Stephen Jeffreys wrote The Libertine. Watts, coming off an Oscar nom for The Impossible, stars with Naveen Andrews (best known for ABC’s Lost and The English Patient) in this drama about Diana’s covert love affair with Dr. Hasnat Khan, a Pakistani heart surgeon. This happened in the last two years of her life, before she met Dodi Fayed, and the need for privacy led to her meeting her lover in disguises. This gave her a sense of living an anonymous life, but her incredible worldwide fame became an issue. The film is produced by Ecosse Films’ Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae. Read More »

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Clashing Buyer Screenings Causing Chaos?

By | Wednesday May 15, 2013 @ 3:56pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Ah, Cannes got off to such a nice, sunny start. But the skies opened up this evening with rain and thunder, and buyers tomorrow morning are going to have to deal with the clash of two high priority acquisition titles that are screening at the same time. At 10 AM Thursday, Pathe will show seven minutes of footage from the Stephen Frears-directed Philomena, the film that stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. It’s the true story of an Irish woman who searches for the illegitimate son she gave up for adoption in the U.S. That screening will be held at Arcades 2.

Starting at exactly the same moment, Embankment Films has a private screening of Diana, the Oliver Hirschbiegel-directed Diana, with Naomi Watts and Naveen Andrews starring in the chronicle of Princess Diana’s romance with a Pakistani surgeon just before her death. That one’s being held at the Olympia 1. I’d heard rumors that some might have seen this film before they left LA for Cannes, but buyers aren’t happy. They will have to split their acquisition teams and nobody likes to bid without a proper consensus. You can’t see both, especially if you are battling the pouring rain.

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James Franco Eyeing Werner Herzog’s Gertrude Bell Pic

By | Thursday April 25, 2013 @ 9:35am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I’m not certain it’s going to happen as they try to sort scheduling issues, but Werner Herzog’s Queen Of The Desert has James Franco circling the role that Jude Law was going to play. If you recall, Herzog lined up Naomi Watts and Robert Pattinson to star in the story of Gertrude Bell’s life as a traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer, and political attaché for the British Empire at the dawn of the 20th Century. Law had signed on to the film, but exited awhile ago to do the play Henry V, and the project ground to a halt. Getting a commitment from Franco would put the picture back on track. Stay tuned. There is kind of a race on Gertrude Bell, as Ridley Scott also has one that Angelina Jolie was eyeing. But it looks like Scott is working hard on his Biblical film Exodus at Fox–Christian Bale is eyeing the role of Moses–and Jolie is preparing to direct Unbroken, the unbelievable life of Olympian sprinter-turned WWII POW Louis Zamperini. So both of them are certainly preoccupied.

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Naomi Watts To Join Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd In ‘St. Vincent De Van Nuys’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Naomi Watts is in talks to star in St. Vincent De Van Nuys, the film that Ted Melfi will direct from his script for The Weinstein Company, Chernin Entertainment and Don Cheadle’s Crescendo. Watts will join Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd. Watts will play a Russian prostitute who develops a close relationship with the title character (Murray), a cantankerous guy who becomes a chief influence on an angelic 12-year old boy whose hardworking single mother (McCarthy) foists child care duties on Murray’s character. The project, which Chernin Entertainment developed for two years with Melfi’s Black List script, has been compared to As Good As It Gets or even TWC’s recent Silver Linings Playbook for the way it mixes comedy and human pathos. Watts is coming off an Oscar-nominated performance in The Impossible. Every age appropriate hot actress in town chased this role. She’s repped by CAA and Untitled.

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Sundance: Exclusive Releasing Acquires ‘Two Mothers’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In another late night Sundance Film Festival deal, Exclusive Media-owned Exclusive Releasing is closing a deal for U.S. rights to Two Mothers, the Anne Fontaine-directed drama that premiered last Friday at the Eccles Theatre. Deal is a low seven figure advance and includes a few other territories, but most of the foreign territories belong to Gaumont, which funded the film. Pic is described as a gripping tale of love, lust and the power of friendships of two lifelong female friends who fall in love with each other’s sons. Naomi Watts and Robin Wright play the moms, and Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville also star. Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher Hampton penned the adaptation of Doris Lessing’s short story.

The deals calls for a traditional theatrical release through Exclusive Releasing, the distribution company that Exclusive co-chairmen Guy East and Nigel Sinclair launched last September, headed by Scott Pascucci and Matt Brodlie. There is a significant P&A and screen commitment for what will shape up as a specialized film release in the summer. Numerous bidders circled the film, some proposing a multi-platform strategy, but Exclusive Media’s Exclusive Releasing was most aggressive for its new release enterprise. CAA brokered the deal with Brodlie and Gaumont International chief Cécile Gaget. Read More »

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Goya Nominations Announced In Spain, ‘Blancanieves Nabs 18, ‘The Impossible’ Scores 14

By | Tuesday January 8, 2013 @ 5:44am PST

Although Blancanieves missed making the shortlist for the foreign language Oscar, the entry from Spain leads nominations for the Goyas, the country’s equivalent to the Academy Awards. Pablo Berger’s black-and-white and silent re-telling of Snow White has 18 nods in total including picture, director, original screenplay and editing. It also has six actors up for prizes including leads Maribel Verdú and Daniel Giménez Cacho. Juan Antonio Bayona’s critical and box office success The Impossible scored 14 nominations including picture, director, actress for Naomi Watts and supporting actor for Ewan McGregor. Their young co-star Tom Holland also got a nod for best newcomer. The other most heavily-nominated films are Unit 7 from director Alberto Rodríguez with 16 nods and Fernando Trueba’s The Artist And The Model with 13. The awards ceremony will be held February 17 in Madrid. Here’s a full list of nominees (in Spanish).

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OSCARS Q&A: Naomi Watts

By | Thursday November 22, 2012 @ 3:00pm PST

Christy Grosz is Editor of AwardsLine.

Naomi Watts plays the matriarch in The Impossible, the unbelievable story of a family reuniting after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Though Watts’ performance has been praised for the emotion she conveys onscreen, the actress says the role was also physically demanding. She recently spoke with AwardsLine about the challenges of working with real water and the moving meeting she had with her real-life counterpart before production commenced.

AwardsLine: When did you first hear about the story of Maria Belon in The Impossible?
Naomi Watts: My agent called and said, “There is this movie about the tsunami,” and my first reaction was, “How’s that going to work?” It just wasn’t like a slam-dunk, “Oh, I want to do that.” But then he mentioned the director (J.A. Bayona), and obviously, I knew The Orphanage and thought that film was brilliant. Meeting (Bayona and producer Belen Atienza), the level of passion that came through in that meeting was so intense and so wonderful—it was very seductive. I knew right away that I wanted to do it.

Related:  Behind The Scenes On ‘The Impossible’

AwardsLine: You spent a good amount of time researching the role and talking with Maria. What kind of questions did you have for her?
Watts: I was very nervous. I just thought, Oh, God. I’m an actor, and this is a … Read More »

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‘The Impossible’ Exclusive Featurette: Video

Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE:  One of the sleeper entries in this year’s Oscar race is the emotionally wrenching true story, The Impossible which chronicles a family split apart in the terrifying Tsunami in Thailand in 2004 and their efforts to survive and find each other, despite horrific injury and unspeakable devastation at the resort area where they were vacationing. Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland star in the film directed by Spain’s Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage). Distributor Summit will release the film domestically (already a smash hit in Spain since opening there in mid-October) on December 21, but already has sent out 38,000 DVD screeners to all guilds and the Academy in order to gain a foothold in the race against higher profile, better known competitors. Here is a look at the making of the film in a featurette that also includes an interview with the real-life wife and mother who fights against major odds just to see her kids and husband one more time.

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Impossible’

By | Tuesday August 21, 2012 @ 10:50am PDT

The Impossible tells the story of a family’s experience in the devastating 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami and the chaos that followed. The film, directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. Its North American premiere is set for September at the Toronto Film Festival. Here’s the trailer:

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Lionsgate Dates Tsunami Movie Dec. 21st

By | Wednesday July 18, 2012 @ 4:36pm PDT

Lionsgate has slated Summit Entertainment’s The Impossible, the Naomi Watts-Ewan McGregor movie about a family that survived the 2004 tsunami, to open December 21st in New York and Los Angeles. The Spanish-made movie was directed by J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage) from a script by Sergio G. Sánchez.

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Remstar Buys Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Directing Debut For Canada

By | Tuesday June 19, 2012 @ 7:07am PDT
Mike Fleming

MONTREAL/TORONTO – June 19, 2012 – Remstar Films is pleased to announce that is has acquired Canadian rights for DON JON’S ADDICTION written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and TWO MOTHERS written by Academy-Award winner Christopher Hampton and directed by Anne Fontaine. These new acquisitions are expected to be released in 2013.

Currently in production, DON JON’S ADDICTION will star Scarlett Johansson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Julianne Moore. Produced by Ram Bergman (LOOPER) and Nicolas Chartier (THE HURT LOCKER, Academy-Award winner for Best Picture), this is the first feature film written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt whose filmography as an actor includes the upcoming Batman trilogy conclusion THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and such films as INCEPTION and 50/50. DON JON’S ADDICTION is the journey of a contemporary, porn-addicted Don Juan-type as he attempts to become less selfish.

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