As previously exclusively reported on Deadline, The Weinstein Company had its annual product preview session for press and buyers tonight at the Majestic Hotel, and the packed crowd got first looks at several films including Paddington, Macbeth, Imitation Game, Big Eyes, Suite Francaise, St. Vincent, and the in-production-phase Jake Gyllenhaal boxing film Southpaw. Harvey Weinstein presided over the presentation, but only after the highlights reel ended was there even a mention from him of the controversy over Grace Of Monaco, the movie TWC (which has U.S. distribution rights ) reportedly threatened to back away from if director Olivier Dahan did not make desired changes to his cut. The director’s cut, and the version that opened Cannes to some derision from critics (to say the least), is being released this week in France by Gaumont. Just before its official press conference Wednesday, it was announced that TWC and Dahan had come to an agreement and TWC would be releasing the film after all. Weinstein, in Jordan for a “long-planned” humanitarian mission, missed the opening-night screening and still hasn’t seen the version shown here. At least that’s what he told reporters who cornered him after tonight’s presentation.
Related: ‘Grace Of Monaco’ Opens Fest As Critics & Royals Take Aim
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The Weinstein Company avoided any of the expected controversy at the Grace Of Monaco press conference after the first Cannes screening of the movie earlier today when it put the word out that a deal had been reached and they would be releasing the film in the U.S. (Gaumont is releasing in France later this week) after threatening to walk away. (At one point I heard they were even thinking about trying to sell it to Lifetime.) In fact the only reference to the distribution controversy came from a terse reply to a question posed to director Olivier Dahan, who now was pleased with the way it has all worked out. Speaking in French (for other questions he answered in English), he said, “Harvey will use this version of the film. If there are any changes we will do them together. There is no dispute. It is all resolved and I am happy with the whole situation,” he said.
Related: Cannes: Why Harvey Weinstein Will Miss ‘Grace Of Monaco’ Premiere
What he probably wasn’t happy with were some of the absolutely scathing reviews that appeared even before this morning’s first press screening. But critics seemed to be gunning for this one as soon as it was announced for the high-profile opening-night slot of the 67th Cannes Film Festival, which seems a little unfair. In addition to a terrific and credible turn from Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly, Dahan’s portrait of a movie star-turned-princess caught up in a lifestyle change for which she was ill-prepared and now full of self-doubt is a good-looking film that doesn’t purport to be anything other than a piece of fiction based on real events (there’s a disclaimer right at the film’s start to that effect). “Almost everything is true though. I twisted reality just a little bit without really twisting it. It’s all based on historical fact. What I’ve tried to do is to detect the heart of things,” Dahan said. This may be more of an audience film than one aimed at critics. It certainly fulfilled the glamour requirements on the red carpet as tonight’s official kickoff to the festival.
For Kidman taking on a iconic public figure like this is typical of her recent career moves. She likes to take risks. “It was such a great opportunity. I think in my whole career I have been looking for things that put me on a high wire. And this was one of those roles,” she said. No doubt about that. And she added she was not happy that Monaco’s royal family heirs have been so vocal about their displeasure with this portrayal of their mother. “Obviously I feel sad. I think the film has no malice towards the family or towards Grace or Rainier (played by Tim Roth). It’s fictionalized. We’ve said that. It’s not a biopic. It’s the essence of truth but with a lot of things you take dramatic license at times. I understand also because of them being their mother and father. And I understand the protection of the privacy of their mother and father. It’s awkward. It is what it is. But I say that with respect and I want them to know that the performance was done with love. And ultimately if they ever did see it, they would see there was an enormous amount of affection for both their parents and their love story,” she said. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: Considering the drama involved in Grace Of Monaco, many have been asking whether Harvey Weinstein will be there walking the red carpet tonight at the Palais premiere. Deadline has the answer. Weinstein’s team including COO David Glasser will be there, but Harvey will not. He’s got a good excuse. Weinstein explains: “My wife Georgina and I have been in Jordan visiting two Syrian refugee camps, Al Zaatri yesterday and Azraq today. This was a long planned trip with the UNHCR and our friend Neil Gaiman to bring attention plight of refugees who have been forced to flee Syria and the incredible work of UNHCR,” Weinstein said. “I’m wishing Olivier, Nicole, Pierre Ange and Uday and the Grace Of Monaco team all the best for the screening in Cannes tonight.”
EARLIER: Despite it being one of the noisiest negotiations in recent memory, The Weinstein Company is closing its deal to release Grace Of Monaco, which premieres tonight as the opening film of the Cannes Film Festival. This deal will be smaller than the original $5 million struck, back when the film was skedded to be released in early 2014 and before it got selected for Cannes. Read More »
On my way in from the Nice Airport today the driver flatly predicted this would be a Cannes Film Festival without rain and that, just like today, the sun would be shining non-stop on this most famous of film festivals. The reason he said it is because for the last several years Cannes has been plaugued with rainstorms literally raining on this parade of the best in world cinema. Last year’s opening night for The Great Gatsby was a virtual flood as partygoers tried to avoid the drips in the tent Warner Bros erected and had to hightail it over deep puddles of water just to get inside. I for one hope this driver is right and the festival that started 67 years ago as a valentine to cinema, sun and glamour can retain that reputation. Time will tell on that, but what is the forecast for the movies themselves, and the market they inspire? So far there is no consensus on whether this will be a Cannes to remember or one that brings in enthusiastic buyers. But there are so many titles I want to see — spread over the various competitions associated with Cannes — that it is already becoming a Solomon’s Choice in terms of picking and choosing.
Related: Cannes: Could This Year’s Lineup Lead All The Way To Oscar?
Grace Of Monaco is opening the fest Wednesday night and it is already bathed in controversy between a version opening in France vs. one The Weinstein Company planned to open for American audiences. The version being shown on opening night is said to be somewhere in between the original darker cut of director Olivier Dahan’s and the more accessible path reportedly preferred by Harvey Weinstein. It’s still not clear what will happen to the film starting Nicole Kidman as iconic film star-turned-Princess Grace Kelly in terms of a U.S. release as Weinstein Co still has not officially announced plans. But I am told Harvey Weinstein will not be arriving in Cannes until after the official opening anyway, so any awkward moments on the red carpet look like they will be avoided. But Monaco’s Royal Family has also been very vocal about its opinions on the film (although it’s not quite clear if they have seen it) and have publicly denounced it. Nevertheless it could be an interesting start to the festival that promises a little something for everyone. It will be Kidman’s third Cannes in a row having been here for two films, The Paperboy and Hemingway & Gellhorn in 2012; as a juror last year; and now opening the fest.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘Grace Of Monaco’
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EXCLUSIVE: Joseph Fiennes has been set to star with Nicole Kidman and Hugo Weaving in Strangerland, the Kim Farrant-directed film that shoots in Australia. He replaces Guy Pearce, who dropped from the project. The mystery revolves around a couple whose teen kids turn up missing in the Outback. Script is by Fiona Seres and Michael Kinirons. Pic was written about by my old Variety pal Patrick Frater last fall, and he said that its financing came from Screen Australia, the Irish Film Board and equity financier Worldview Entertainment, with Wild Bunch selling international territories.
Fiennes will next be seen in the Brett Ratner-directed Hercules, which stars Dwayne Johnson. Fiennes is repped by WME, Anonymous Content and UK-based The Artists Partnership.
Here’s a much more revealing look at Nicole Kidman-starrer Grace Of Monaco than any we’ve had before. The film, directed by Olivier Dahan, takes place during the early 1960s when Grace Kelly (Kidman) was married to Monaco’s Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth), and during a political dispute between the principality and France. The trailer below provides a take on the struggles the former Hollywood star faced over her role as Princess Grace. Frank Langella, Derek Jacobi, Paz Vega, Parker Posey and Milo Ventimiglia also star. Produced by Pierre-Ange Le Pogam’s Stone Angels, Uday Chopra’s YRF Entertainment, and Arash Amel (and written by Amel), the movie makes its world premiere as the opening-night film of the Cannes Film Festival on May 14. It also goes out in France on that same day and Warner Bros releases in the UK on June 6. The Weinstein Co has the movie Stateside.
Olivier Dahan’s Grace Of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman will kick off the Cannes Film Festival on May 14, out of competition. There was some confusion yesterday when The Weinstein Co moved Grace off of its previously scheduled March 14 U.S. release date. I suspected this might have something to do with Cannes rather than with reported strife between Harvey Weinstein and director Dahan. Gaumont, which is distributing Grace in France, had, in December, changed its local release date from January 29 to March 19. That move was because the film had only just been finished. When I recently ran into Grace producer Pierre-Ange Le Pogam in Paris, I asked him if the date might change again for a surprise Cannes berth and he gave me a cryptic “Who knows?” I’m promised the biopic about actress turned princess Grace Kelly is a stunner. The film portrays a period in her life after marrying Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth) in 1956. Six years later, amid occasional difficulties in fulfilling her role, she was invited back to Hollywood by Alfred Hitchcock, to star in Marnie. At the time, France was threatening to tax, and even annex, Monaco. The film asks the question: Was Grace still an actress or was she really Princess of Monaco? Frank Langella, Parker Posey, Jeanne Balibar, Derek Jacobi … Read More »
That duffle coat wearing bear found in a train station is coming Stateside in time for Christmas 2014. New Weinstein Co label TWC-Dimension announced today that the live-action version of Paddington will be released on December 12 of next year. “The holiday season is the perfect time to bring the humorous adventures of one of the world’s most loveable bears to family audiences everywhere,” said distribution president Erik Lomis today in a statement. The project was initially announced in Cannes in 2012 and TWC-Dimension acquired the U.S. rights in September of this year. The Harry Potter franchise and Gravity’s David Heyman is producing the first ever live action pic inspired by Michael Bond’s classic book, which were first published in 1958. Paddington is fully financed by Studiocanal. Colin Firth is voicing the CGI Paddington. The pic is a reteam for Firth with his Railway Man co-star, Nicole Kidman will play an evil taxidermist out for revenge. Also in the cast are Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent. The story follows a curious young Peruvian bear with a passion for all things British who travels to London in search of a home. Lost and alone at Paddington Station, he meets the Brown family who offer him a place to live. Paddington seems to have found a happy life the rarest of bears gets the attention of a scheming museum taxidermist. You’ll have to wait until next Christmas to find out how … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Jason Bateman, who made an auspicious feature directorial debut with the Toronto festival smash Bad Words, next will direct Nicole Kidman in The Family Fang, the adaptation of the Kevin Wilson bestseller. Bateman will also star in the film. The script is by David Lindsay-Abaire, who adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning play Rabbit Hole as a vehicle that got Kidman an Oscar nomination. Olympus Pictures’ Leslie Urdang and Dean Vanech will produce with Blossom Films partners Kidman and Per Saari, Aggregate Films partners Bateman and Jim Garavente, and QED International’s Bill Block.
QED will finance, and principal photography will begin next year.
The Family Fang is about a couple of performance artists who routinely sucked their kids into taking part in a variety of bizarre events. When the full-grown children return home in a state of crisis, they are unwittingly enlisted to help in the execution of a daring and mysterious final performance by their parents, who are hellbent on achieving the act of a lifetime. Their kids harbor more than a little resentment and blame the performance art for how badly their own lives have turned out.
Related: ‘Rabbit Hole’s Nicole Kidman And David Lindsay-Abaire Re-Team On ‘Family Fang’
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EXCLUSIVE: Damian Lewis, who has won Golden Globes and Emmys for his work as POW-turned-terrorist Nicolas Brody in Showtime’s Homeland, is near a deal to star opposite Nicole Kidman in director Werner Herzog’s Queen Of The Desert. The UK-born Lewis won’t have to hide his homegrown accent for the feature: He will play Lt. Col. Charles Doughty-Wylie, an unhappily married English war hero who engages in a turbulent affair with Gertrude Bell (Kidman), with whom he exchanged love letters with from 1913-1915 until he was killed in active duty at Gallipoli. Production is scheduled to begin in December.
Related: Toronto: Sands Shift In ‘Queen Of The Desert’
Queen Of The Desert refers to Bell, 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. Nick Raslan is producing through his Palmyra Films banner along with Cassian Elwes and Michael Benaroya. Benaroya Pictures banner is financing the film. Sierra/Affinity will handle international sales.
Lewis is represented by WME, Markham, Froggatt and Irwin, and Karl Austen.
EXCLUSIVE: Nicole Kidman will star in and produce an adaptation of The Silent Wife, the summer literary breakout novel by A.S.A. Harrison. Mazur/Kaplan partners Paula Mazur and Mitchell Kaplan have teamed with Kidman and Per Saari’s Blossom Films to option the psychological thriller and produce. Mazur/Kaplan will fund development.
The novel focuses on an affluent Chicago couple who’ve been together 20 years and seem very stable. Trouble is, while her priority is taking care of him and living an ordered life, his is screwing around behind her back. The novel cleverly alternates viewpoint from chapter to chapter, one told from his vantage point, the next from hers, and the tale builds toward catastrophe. It was the first work of fiction by the author, who died a few months before her book became such a literary sensation. The movie deal was made with Harrison’s estate, which was repped by Paradigm on behalf of Samantha Haywood and The Transatlantic Agency. Read More »
Scratch off another potential Oscar contender. Sony Pictures Classics has announced the planned December release of the Bennett Miller-directed drama Foxcatcher has been moved out of this year’s awards race and into 2014 so filmmakers “can have more time to finish the film”. The announcement is a bit startling since AFI Fest, a prime showcase for major Oscar contenders, recently had announced it for a major world premiere berth on November 8. Obviously that will have to be replaced.
Related: SPC Moves Bennett Miller’s ‘Foxcatcher’ To 2014
The film becomes the latest casualty this week in what is turning out to be a very competitive awards season. Earlier this week The Weinstein Company announced their expected contender Grace Of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman was being moved from November (after previously being scheduled for December) and on to its spring 2014 slate, effectively removing Kidman’s portrayal of Grace Kelly from the Best Actress race.
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There’s a saying I often hear when it comes to big business in China: The bigger the announcement, the less real the deal. So it’s no wonder that when Dalian Wanda Group‘s Wang Jianlin said he was going to buy AMC in 2012, folks were skeptical. And then, $2.6B later, he became the world’s largest movie theater owner last September. Now, the Wanda boss has unveiled even more ambitious plans to bring Hollywood closer to China when, surrounded by a Hollywood’s who’s who, he broke ground on the $8.2B Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis complex this weekend. Wanda separately unveiled plans to build a $4.9B Cultural Tourism City in Wuxi with theme park and movie elements. Now, it’s important to balance the hoopla with the understanding that Wang Jianlin’s core business is real estate. In China, access to prime property is overseen by a government which wants to see development. That’s why some see this as a land grab wrapped in a Hollywood story.
Hollywood turned out in force for the unveiling of the Movie Metropolis complex, with moguls like Harvey Weinsten and Patrick Wachsberger, and stars from Nicole Kidman to Leonardo DiCaprio and John Travolta rubbing elbows with China’s richest man (rumors that talent was paid 7-figure appearance fees were refuted). Even AMPAS president Cheryl Boone-Isaacs was there, on the heels of a $20M donation from Wanda. The Movie Metropolis complex will create 10,000 square meters of studios, a film museum, movie theaters, resort hotels and other “cultural tourism projects.” It will open in June 2016 and be fully operational in 2017. Wanda also announced plans to bring in over 50 domestic production companies to make 100 films and TV shows per year, with another 30 foreign movies expected to be made in China, which was a reason that some talent agency honchos made the long trip; as well as to support talent and see the level of Wanda’s commitment. Among those present was UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer. Read More »
Here’s a first look at Olivier Dahan’s Grace Of Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman as legendary actress-turned-princess Grace Kelly. The film takes place during the early 1960s when Kelly was married to Monaco’s Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth), and during a political dispute between the principality and France. Frank Langella, Derek Jacobi, Paz Vega, Parker Posey and Milo Ventimiglia also star. Produced by Pierre-Ange Le Pogam’s Stone Angels, Uday Chopra’s YRF Entertainment, and Arash Amel (and written by Amel), the film goes out Stateside via The Weinstein Co on November 27. Warner Bros is releasing in the UK beginning November 29.
The Weinstein Co has taken North American rights to the upcoming big-screen transfer of Michael Bond’s classic kids character Paddington Bear. Paddington will be the first release under a new label for the company, TWC-Dimension, which will see Harvey and Bob Weinstein team on films for which they share a common passion. The Harry Potter franchise’s David Heyman is producing Paddington which is fully financed by Studiocanal. Colin Firth has been set to voice the CGI bear and, in a reteam with his Railway Man co-star, Nicole Kidman will play an evil taxidermist out for revenge. Also joining the cast are Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent.
This is the first-ever live action film inspired by the books which Bond began in 1958. The story follows a curious young Peruvian bear with a passion for all things British who travels to London in search of a home. Lost and alone at Paddington Station, he meets the kindly Brown family who offer him a temporary haven. It looks as though his luck has changed, until this rarest of bears catches the eye of a museum taxidermist.
Principal photography starts this month with Paul King (Come Fly With Me, The Might Boosh) directing. Shooting is set to take place in the UK with Framestore handling VFX. Studiocanal has set a November 28, 2014 event release in the UK and will go day-and-date in its other territories that include France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. TWC-Dimension will release in North America in the first quarter of 2015. Studiocanal has international sales.
The project was initially announced in Cannes in 2012 and Studiocanal chairman Olivier Courson tells me the idea was to take time developing a script that would be a “real family comedy” that’s not just for kids. Read More »
UPDATE, 2:40 PM: The Weinstein Company just made this deal official (see the release below the original break).
PREVIOUS BREAKING, 10:37 AM: Harvey Weinstein has done it again. The Weinstein Company is acquiring U.S. distribution rights for around $2 million to The Railway Man, director Jonathan Teplitzky’s drama that stars Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. It’s the true story about a British Army officer who is tormented at a Japanese POW camp. Decades later, he discovers the Japanese interpreter responsible for the brutality is alive. He sets out to confront him and his haunting past. The deal for the film, which premiered Friday at Roy Thompson Hall, was brokered by CAA. Andy Paterson and Chris Brown produced. It’s the third buy for TWC after the John Carney-directed Can A Song Save Your Life? and The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: His/Hers. All of them will be released in 2014. Read More »
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 »
After receiving mixed critical response in its Venice world premiere, the Kennedy assassination docudrama Parkland took on the Toronto International Film Festival and received a good response for a movie that looks at the events of that fateful day 50 years ago from several different perspectives. Those include a young surgeon operating on the fallen President in the emergency room, Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother and mother, the FBI, Abraham Zapruder and others. Nicely directed by first-timer Peter Landesman, a former New York Times reporter, the film has the sensibility of a journalist and stays close to the known facts while still illuminating. At the premiere’s afterparty at Soho House he told me, “I wanted to create a visual language in the beginning that would allow the audience to feel like what they were seeing was happening and real… I did want to take the audience by hand and bring them into an idea that what they are watching happening is actually unfolding in front of them,” said the veteran who’s covered many international wars. He dismissed potential complaints that the filmmaker might be exploiting the Kennedy tragedy, particularly on the cusp on the 50th anniversary, by explaining that the emergency room scenes were carefully thought out:”I feel like we cut a very dignified movie. To not have any sense of the violence would be to betray what the movie is about. I actually feel that the cut’s dignified. We actually had cuts in the movie that were a lot bloodier. At the end of the day we didn’t want to alienate our audience.”
Landesman said it came about when he originally wrote a screenplay about Watergate for producer Tom Hanks (who produced this film with Playtone partner Gary Goetzman and actor Bill Paxton). That script has yet to be produced. But it led to Hanks handing Landesman a Vincent Bugliosi book written about those four days in November 1963. So he worked on it and researched it for nearly five years and decided there was a movie there that nobody had ever seen. Although Hanks was busy acting on Broadway, he was very involved. “Gary was there for every frame. And Tom was intimately involved with the development of the screenplay and the casting. You know Tom. His integrity is so important, not only as a brand and a producer but Tom’s sensibilities and instincts are so important,” Landesman said. Read More »