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Appeals Court Affirms $12M Award To ‘Crash’ Director Paul Haggis, Brendan Fraser & Producers

By | Monday February 3, 2014 @ 6:51pm PST

DJP LEGAL BADGEA nearly seven-year lawsuit over profits from the Oscar-winning Crash finally might be putting on the brakes. Late last week, a three-judge appeals court panel found in favor of the 2004 film’s director/co-writer Paul Haggis, co-writer/producer Bobby Moresco, producer Mark Harris and actor Brendan Fraser and Celebrating Haitian Heroes Of The St. Luke Foundationconcurred with a December 2011 lower court ruling that awarded the four $12 million. “In a bench trial the court found for the plaintiffs and awarded them over $12,000,000 in damages and prejudgment interest,” the 2nd Appellate Court said in its January 31 ruling (read it here). “We conclude that appellants have not carried their burden of showing prejudicial error, and we therefore affirm,” Judges Frances Rothschild, Jeffrey Miller and Victoria Chaney added. Since its wide release on May 6, 2005, Crash — which won Best Picture and two other Academy Awards has made more than $98 million worldwide.
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Sony Classics Acquires Paul Haggis’ ‘Third Person’

By | Thursday November 7, 2013 @ 2:24pm PST

NEW YORK (November 7, 2013) – Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they have acquired US, German and Scandinavian rights to Paul Haggis’ THIRD PERSON. Written and directed by Haggis, the film had its world premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and features an all-star cast including Academy Award®-nominee Liam Neeson, Academy Award®-winner Kim Basinger, Academy Award®-winner Adrien Brody, Academy Award®-nominee James Franco, Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis, and Maria Bello. Michael Nozik of Hwy61 and Haggis produced the film along with Paul Breuls of Corsan, who also provided the financing. THIRD PERSON wends its way through three cities and three tales. The various stories, situated in Paris, Rome, and New York, are, at first glance, all separate, but Haggis effortlessly makes connections among them as the film unwinds, concentrating on three men and their romantic entanglements. Gradually, each one of these stories unveils its secrets, testifying to the whims and complexities of life. Surfaces are deceptive in the Haggis universe, but as each story is explored we discover untold pleasures and pains. Life is never easy: it can be deceptive, inhabited by anger and jealousy, but it can also be surprisingly joyous. Sony Pictures Classics, CAA and Paradigm negotiated the deal.

Related: Liam Neeson Among Those Lining Up For ‘Third Person’

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Hammond On Cannes: Sun Comes Out As Parties, Deals And Movies Take Over Croisette

Pete Hammond

The sun finally came back to a windy and rainy Cannes but the weather clearly couldn’t slow the nonstop parties, premieres, deals and hype for which this festival is famous. And despite the rain on Saturday the turnout for Lionsgate’s big Catching Fire bash was wall-to-wall at Baoli Beach, with everyone including star Jennifer Lawrence crowded into the large tent. One exec there actually was happy with the monsoon-like conditions. “The rain probably kept 30% of our RSVPs away which is probably good because i don’t know how we could have squeezed them in,” he said.

With everyone drying out Sunday there seemed to be even more party-hopping than usual. At the crowded Participant Films party at the Carlton, Focus Features CEO James Schamus was accepting congratulations on his re-upping at the company. I have rarely heard him wax more eloquently about a film than Focus’ recent pickup of The Dallas Buyers Club, the movie where Matthew McConaughey lost about 50 pounds to play an early AIDS victim. It’s not dated yet according to Schamus but is planned  for fall sometime. “It’s just a bloodbath trying to pick the right date in that period but this movie is extraordinary. I just so admire what Matthew has been doing with his career in the last couple of years between Magic Mike, Killer Joe, The Paperboy, Mud and now this. You know me, I don’t rave like this a lot, but he really knocks this one out of the park. It is the performance of a lifetime,”  he says of the actor in a film that is sure to be a main focus of Focus’ awards-season plans. Read More »

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Cannes Briefs: ‘Space Dogs 2′; Franco’s ‘Tar’; ‘The Surprise’; ‘Rudderless’; Gosling’s ‘Monster’; ‘Starry Eyes’; Wentworth Media & Arts; ‘Lilting’; ‘Third Person’; Doha Fests

Refresh for latest…

Epic Pictures is launching sales on animated action-adventure Space Dogs 2, the sequel to 2010′s canine astronaut pic Space Dogs 3D. Vadim Sotskov of Kinoatis and Sergei Sernov are producing alongside exec producers Patrick Ewald and Shaked Berenson of Epic Pictures Group. The US-Russian project is currently in production in stereoscopic 3D. Epic is also repping global sales on action-thriller The Patrol: Operation Herrick, written and directed by Tom Petch, who is producing with Tom Stuart for AFG Film Ltd. The story of a British Army patrol battling the Taliban in Afghanistan stars Owain Arthur, Nicholas Beveney, Daniel Fraser, Alex Mcnally, Oliver Mott, Ben Righton, and Nav Sidhu.

Spotlight Pictures has come aboard to sell Tar, the biopic of Pulitzer-winner poet CK Williams that stars James Franco, Mila Kunis, Jessica Chastain, Zach Braff, Henry Hopper and Bruce Campbell. The pic follows the life of Williams (Franco) as he recalls the experiences that shaped the man he became and the writer he was destined to be. It was directed by 12 NYU film students and premiered last year at the Rome Film Festival.  The sales deal was negotiated by Vince Jolivette for Rabbit Bandini Productions with Carlos Rincon at Spotlight. Read More »

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Black Bear Pictures To Finance Mining Scandal Drama ‘Gold’

By | Wednesday October 17, 2012 @ 8:30am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Black Bear Pictures has stepped up to finance production of Gold, a script by Patrick Massett & John Zinman that is based on a true story about the 1993 Bre-X Mineral Corporation mining scandal in which vast amounts of gold were reportedly discovered in the Indonesian jungle. Black Bear’s Teddy Schwarzman will produce alongside Paul Haggis and Michael Nozik under their Hwy61 production banner. Massett and Zinman will also produce. Read More »

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Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis, Casey Affleck, James Franco Lining Up For Paul Haggis’ ‘Third Person’

By | Wednesday August 22, 2012 @ 8:18am PDT

In May, I reported that offers were going out to Liam Neeson and Olivia Wilde to star in Paul Haggis’ upcoming drama, Third Person. Today, Belgian production and finance company Corsan announced that it’s in negotiations with Neeson and Wilde, along with Mila Kunis, Casey Affleck, James Franco and Moran Atias.

The Haggis-scripted film follows three intersecting storylines set in Paris, New York and Rome. Each section represents a different stage of love from the beginning to the middle and the end of a relationship.

Shooting begins in Rome on Oct 17 on a budget in the high teens, Corsan said. The company, which previously backed The Devil’s Double, is funding, producing and handling foreign sales. Haggis and Michael Nozik are producing via their Hwy61 shingle. Paul Breuls is producing for Corsan. Haggis, Neeson, Franco and Kunis are repped by CAA. Wilde, Affleck and Atias are repped by WME.

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Olympus Pictures And Paul Haggis Set South African Father-Son Masekela Story

By | Thursday August 16, 2012 @ 4:11pm PDT

Olympus Pictures and Paul Haggis’ Hwy 61 announced today it is moving forward with a father-son project inspired by the relationship between ESPN sports commentator Selema “Sal” Masekela and his father Hugh Masekela, the jazz musician featured on Paul Simon’s Graceland album and South African apartheid activist who was exiled for more than 30 years. South African filmmaker Mukunda Michael Dewil has been hired to write and direct the film. The project follows a son emerging out of the shadow of his successful but troubled father set against a backdrop of music, surfing, and South Africa’s racism. The untitled Masekela project will be produced by Leslie Urdang and Dean Vanech of Olympus Pictures, Haggis and Michael Nozik of Hwy 61 Films, and Selema Masekela. “I first met Sal when he was a teenager working with his father on the Graceland tour,” said Urdang. “We met again many years later and the riveting narrative is a father/son story filled with surprise, danger, bravery, forgiveness, and lots of music.” Mukunda is a commercial director who wrote and directed Retribution and Vehicle 19. He is also a surfer.

Olympus Pictures, of course, is the independent production and finance company behind the upcoming The Oranges as well as John Cameron Mitchell’s Rabbit Hole starring Nicole Kidman and Mike Mills’ Beginners which won a Best Supporting Actor for Christopher Plummer. This September, Olympus will debut its two most recent features at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival – Thanks for Sharing and Mr. Pip.

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Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde Eyed For Paul Haggis & Corsan’s ‘Third Person’: Cannes

EXCLUSIVE: Paul Haggis must have a thing for the number 3. His last film was The Next Three Days and the director’s upcoming drama, Third Person, is now headed to Belgian company Corsan for world sales here in Cannes. Offers are understood to be going out to Liam Neeson and Olivia Wilde to star in the film that follows three interconnected storylines set in Paris, New York and Rome. The Paris section chronicles an on/off affair between a frustrated writer and his lover. In New York, a woman who denies trying to kill her son, is trying to regain custody. And in Rome, an American businessman falls for an Italian woman and must help free her daughter who has been kidnapped by a local gangster. Paul Breuls is producing with Haggis and Michael Nozik. Haggis wrote the script. He’s repped by CAA, and that agency packaged the film and is co-representing domestic rights with Paradigm.

Corsan previously backed and co-produced The Devil’s Double starring Dominic Cooper. Here in Cannes it’s also handling Lee Tamahori’s thriller Emperor, Roland Jaffe’s Singularity with Josh Hartnett and Killing Season starring Robert De Niro and John Travolta.

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Sean Penn, Paul Haggis & Petra Nemcova’s Haiti Charities To Be Feted In Cannes

For the first time this millennium, the Cannes Film Festival is hosting a fund-raising event. The Haiti: Carnival In Cannes benefit will be presented by Giorgio Armani in support of Sean Penn’s J/P HRO, Paul Haggis’ Artists for Peace and Justice and Petra Nemcova’s Happy Hearts Fund and their humanitarian work in Haiti. Penn has been aiding the relief effort in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake devastated the country. Haggis’ group was established in 2009 to help poor children and families via education and health programs. Supermodel Nemcova’s Happy Hearts started its work in Haiti in 2007. A gala celebration will feature a fund-raising dinner on May 18. Money raised will go to all three orgs. Cannes previously hosted a benefit screening of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In America in support of the Institut Pasteur, and a screening of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s Elective Affinities to support the reconstruction of Venice’s Fenice which had been destroyed in a fire. Although the amFAR benefit for Amnesty International is an annual draw for Cannes folk, it’s not actually a festival event.

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Martin Campbell And Paul Haggis Take On ‘Umbra’ Following Joe Carnahan Exit

By | Friday January 6, 2012 @ 11:27am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Martin Campbell has been set to direct Umbra, the Endgame Entertainment-funded drama that Joe Carnahan has dropped out of. Paul Haggis, who came on to do rewrite work on the Campbell-directed Casino Royale, has also been brought on to do a rewrite on the drama about a business man who gets a mysterious package in the mail and gets caught up in a government conspiracy. Shooting will begin in the spring.

Endgame’s James Stern is producing with Hal Lieberman and Campbell’s production partner Lucienne Papon has also joined as producer. Carnahan dropped out of the film, in what I’m told was an amicable parting for personal reasons for Carnahan, who directed the upcoming Liam Neeson-starrer The Grey, which Open Road releases January 27. The script was written by Steven Karczynski and Carnahan had done re-write work on the most recent draft. Campbell’s repped by CAA. Campbell and Haggis are repped by CAA and Haggis is managed by IPG. Campbell last directed Green Lantern.

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Bob Yari Owes ‘Crash’ Participants $12M In Profits Dispute, Judge Rules

By | Tuesday December 20, 2011 @ 8:38pm PST

In a long-running dispute over profits from the Oscar-winning movie Crash, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that companies controlled by Bob Yari owe about $12 million to director/co-writer Paul Haggis, co-writer Bobby Moresco and Brendan Fraser a member of the large ensemble cast. Tuesday’s award follwed a July ruling by Judge Daniel Buckley that found Yari’s companies in breach of contract for failing to pay profits to the trio. Buckley determined Haggis, Moresco and Fraser should receive roughly $9 million in profits and $3 million in interest. Attorney for the Yari companies Behzad Nahai said he and his clients “respectfully but vehemently disagree” with the judge’s decision. He did not say whether Yari’s side would appeal. Among details noted by the judge were that Yari should not have charged the film $1,300 for his Oscar and Golden Globes tickets nor for his $40,000 sponsorship of the Independent Spirit and Gotham awards. In addition to suits filed over profit-sharing for Crash, producer Cathy Schulman filed suit accusing Yari of firing her in retaliation for his being denied a producer credit on the movie by the PGA which in turn resulted in Yari’s not making the cut as one of the winners of the movie’s Best Picture Oscar.

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Global Showbiz Briefs: Switzerland, Australia, Italy

Zurich Film Festival To Present Paul Haggis with Golden Eye
The festival will also screen a retrospective of the Oscar-winning screenwriter and filmmaker’s work, which includes Million Dollar Baby, Crash and In the Valley of Elah. In addition, Haggis will lead one of the festival’s master class workshops, where he will discuss his work and career. Previous honorees at the festival, which will run Sept. 22-Oct. 2, include Roman Polanski, Milos Forman and Oliver Stone.

Universal, Sony Merge Home Entertainment In Australia
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Universal Pictures International Entertainment will combine operations in Australia in 2012 for the distribution of DVD and Blu-ray movies and TV shows. The new unit will be headed by Jim Bachelor, currently managing director for Universal Pictures Australia and New Zealand; and Kim Overall, managing director, Australia and New Zealand, SPHE, who will be in an advisory role. The unnamed joint venture, announced today by Eddie Cunningham, president of UPIE, and Matt Brown, EVP, international for SPHE, must still meet antitrust guidelines in Australia. Read More »

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CANNES: Elizabeth Taylor Remembered As amFAR Sets New Record

Pete Hammond

The late Elizabeth Taylor was fondly remembered during a tribute Thursday night at the ultra-glamorous  annual amFAR Cinema Against AIDS event (now in its 18th year) at Hotel Du Cap. The event co-chaired by Kenneth Cole and Harvey Weinstein broke all records, bringing in a haul of more than $10 million after an auction that also saw record prices. In clips from movies like Cleopatra and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, along with footage from her work for the organization in which she was the founding international chairman and host of the first event in 1993  Cole saluted Taylor as someone who “spoke up when others wouldn’t and said things when others can’t. I hope this will always be part of her legacy.” Weinstein added, “It was an honor to work beside her and it was an honor to watch her movies.”

Continuing the Taylor theme of the evening, two “Elizabeth” items went for big bucks in the annual auction that is always a part of this glitzy dinner, thrown near the end of each Cannes Film Festival since ’93. A limited-edition Herb Ritts photo of Taylor taken in Malibu in 1991 fetched a whopping $150,000, while an Andy Warhol dated lithograph of Liz circa 1964 fetched $400,000.

Among the stars taking part in the evening and auction were Janet Jackson, Brooke Shields, Freida Pinto, Kanye West, Rosario Dawson, Naomi Campbell, Gwen Stefani, Gavin Rossdale, Patrick Dempsey, Milla Jovovich (who opened the proceedings with a sultry “I Wanna Be Loved By You”), Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn and Sean Penn. Penn, bringing up the rear, got big laughs demanding women abstain from sex unless their men cough up $10,000 apiece in order to break the record amount for the fundraiser. Twenty-one of them did just that. Boy George performed a couple of songs, too. Among those in the crowd were three Cannes jury members including president Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman (who also participated in the auction) and Jude Law, along with Melancholia star Kirsten Dunst, who looked happy not to have Lars von Trier as her date. Read More »

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Cannes Festival Adds Pics By Persecuted Iranian Filmmakers Jafar Panahi And Mohammad Rasoulof

Mike Fleming

In a important show of solidarity, the 2011 Cannes Film Festival has added to its program films directed by Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, the Iranian filmmakers who each drew six-year prison sentences (with a 20-year filmmaking banishment for Panahi) by a strict Tehran regime that charged them with “propaganda against the state.” Essentially, the men were vilified for publicly mourning protesters killed following the presidential election. Panahi, who won Camera d’Or honors at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival for his first film, The White Balloon, and the Golden Lion in 2000 for The Circle, was arrested again in February 2010, and sent to prison in Tehran on the dubious charge of collusion and propaganda. Filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Francis Coppola, Paul Haggis and Sean Penn, and numerous festivals and humanitarian organizations like Amnesty International, have decried the harsh sentences that have cast a chill on all Iranian filmmakers.

For its part, festival organizers reveal they just got the films that were made in “semi-clandestine” conditions. Read More »

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Michael Mann Eyes ‘Gold’ Hunt As Next Film

By | Tuesday April 12, 2011 @ 5:58pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Michael Mann, who last directed Public Enemies, is closing in on his next picture. He’s getting serious about Gold, a contemporary Treasure of the Sierra Madre-type treasure hunt about prospectors and speculators involved in the chase for gold. The project is just taking shape. It had been developed by Paul Haggis, who showed it to Mann as a writing sample for scribes Patrick Massett and John Zinman. Mann liked it so much that he became the director. He’s producing through his Forward Pass banner, with Haggis and his Highway 61 partner Michael Nozik. The hope is to begin production late in the year. Read More »

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UPDATE: Martin Scorsese Lends Name To Amnesty International Protest Of Prison Sentences For Iranian Filmmakers

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Martin Scorsese, who spoke out in support of Jafar Panahi both when he was first arrested and right after he was convicted, has added his support to the petition being circulated by Amnesty International. His participation is reflected in the amended release below.

EARLIER: Amnesty International has gotten involved in protesting the 6-year prison sentence given to Iranian filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof. As Deadline revealed last week, the human rights advocate has enlisted Paul Haggis, Sean Penn and Harvey Weinstein to spearhead the petition effort meant to create international pressure as the filmmakers prepare their appeal. Here’s the formal announcement:

(New York) — Academy Award winners Paul Haggis, Martin Scorsese and Sean Penn, along with film producer and movie studio chairman Harvey Weinstein, have joined forces with British-Iranian actress and Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) spokesperson Nazanin Boniadi to condemn the harsh sentence imposed on distinguished Iranian film director Jafar Panahi.

Both Panahi and his artistic collaborator, Mohammad Rasoulof, have been given six-year prison sentences after being convicted of “propaganda against the state.” Panahi was also sentenced with a twenty-year total ban on artistic activities. The Hollywood greats have signed a petition, which Boniadi initiated with AIUSA, to urge Iranian authorities to overturn Panahi’s sentence –and encouraged others to go to www.amnestyusa.org to do the same.

“As someone who has often gotten in trouble for opening his mouth, it is hard to fathom the idea of being

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World Support Mobilizing For Imprisoned Iranian Filmmakers

Mike Fleming

The conviction and 6-year sentence given acclaimed Iranian director Jafar Panahi and his colleague Muhammad Rasoulof happened when most major directors had left town for the holiday, and has made it difficult to mobilize a concerted response. But help is on the way, as those imprisoned filmmakers plan their appeal. I’m told that Amnesty International is mobilizing an urgent petition that will be unveiled right after Christmas and which is being spearheaded by Crash director Paul Haggis. Another petition has been organized by Thierry Fremaux, festival director of Cannes. Harvey Weinstein is part of the Amnesty International campaign, and Sean Penn is involved in both efforts. The goal is to get the artistic community to help exert international pressure to free filmmakers who risk rotting in jail cells and having their careers ended for merely speaking their minds. Fremaux’s petition can be linked through http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/solidarite-jafar-panahi/, but you can read it here:

We have just learnt, with great anger and concern, about the judgement of the Court of the Islamic Republic in Teheran, heavily condemning Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi.

The sentence: six years of imprisonment without remission, accompanied by a ban of twenty years on writing and making films, giving interviews to the press, leaving the territory, or communicating with foreign cultural organisations.

Another filmmaker, Mohammad Rassoulov, has been likewise sentenced to six years in prison. Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rassoulov are going to join the many prisoners now rotting in jail

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Paul Haggis, CBS Films Plot ‘Celda 211′

By | Wednesday October 27, 2010 @ 5:36pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films is making a deal to acquire remake rights to the Daniel Monzon-directed Spanish language film Celda 211. Paul Haggis is in talks to adapt with an eye to direct. He will produce the film under his Hwy 61 Films banner, with partner Michael Nozik.The Americanized version will be titled Cell 211.

The film is an action thriller with a premise that feels like the second coming of Die Hard. A newly hired prison guard wants to make a good impression on his bosses, and he leaves behind his pregnant wife and comes in a day early to get a tour of the facility. When a brutal prison riot breaks out, he is knocked unconscious and when he awakens, the guard is forced to assume the role of a prisoner alongside the most dangerous killers alive. He tries to defuse the uprising and escape before the prisoners realize who he really is. Released in 2009, the original film swept the Goya Awards, which are the Spanish Oscars, winning Best Film, Best Director and Screenplay honors for Monzon, and five other awards. Here is a trailer from the original:

Haggis most recently shot The Next Three Days, the drama that stars Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks and Liam Neeson and opens November 19.

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And In Other Film Deals…

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Universal has bought screen rights to the Richard Aleas crime novel Little Girl Lost and has attached I’m With Cancer helmer Jonathan Levine to direct. Michael Bacall is writing the script. An NYU dropout-turned private eye learns that the high school girlfriend he thought went to medical school instead became a stripper, and was murdered…

The website Latino Review got the drop on the festering question of who would play arch-nemesis Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes 2. It will be Jared Harris, the son of Richard Harris and a Mad Men cast member. Rumors were the studio was looking to star cast for the role, with Daniel Day-Lewis and Colin Firth mentioned. Jude Law reprises, while Noomi Rapace and Stephen Fry are in the cast, the latter playing Holmes’ older brother…

Paul Haggis is reportedly going to write the script for The Equalizer, the CBS drama that’s had Russell Crowe attached…

Lost hunk Josh Holloway is joining M:I4 cast of Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, reprising thesps Simon Pegg and  Ving Rhames, and newcomers Vladimir Mashkov and Michael Nykvist.

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