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Weinstein Company Adds Leah Holzer As Production Exec

By | Monday June 6, 2011 @ 9:27am PDT
Mike Fleming

NEW YORK, June 6, 2011 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that Leah Holzer has joined the company as vice president of production, reporting to its president of production, Donna Gigliotti, in New York.

In her post, Holzer will help manage physical production of such TWC films as the David O. Russell comedy, THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, and THE BOYS IN THE BOAT, based on a non-fiction book by Daniel James Brown about the University of Washington’s rowing team, which will be directed by Kenneth Branagh.

Prior to joining TWC, Holzer spent three years at Bob Shaye & Michael Lynne’s New York production company, Unique Features. While at Unique, she oversaw the feature development of SHIVER, the best-selling book by Maggie Stiefvater, as well as thrillers 7th SON, set up at Warner Bros., and FACE BLIND, a co-production with Mandalay Vision. Before joining Unique in 2008, Holzer was a creative executive at New Line Cinema, where she was responsible for developing and scouting literary properties. A native New Yorker, Holzer attended New York University and got her start in the film industry as production coordinator on the independent feature film PARTICLES OF TRUTH.

“Leah brings an attuned eye to every aspect of development and production,” stated Gigliotti. “She really understands how to translate the written word to the screen and will be a strong asset for The Weinstein Company. We’re thrilled to have her onboard.”

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Universal Shakeup: President Of Production Debbie Liebling Exited; Replaced By Peter Cramer & Jeffrey Kirschenbaum

EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just learned that Universal Chairman Adam Fogelson and Co-Chairman Donna Langley have restructured the studio’s production team. Veterans Peter Cramer and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum will be upped to co-Presidents of Production, replacing the current President of Production Debbie Liebling who is “leaving to pursue other opportunities”, I’m told, after 18 months at the studio. Liebling came to Universal from Twentieth Century Fox.

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On-Location Shooting Up In LA, But Not Because Of Film & TV Categories

By | Tuesday April 5, 2011 @ 6:11pm PDT

Shooting-permit organization FilmL.A. said today that on-location filming in all production categories increased 4.7% during the first quarter of 2011, the fifth consecutive quarter of gains in the region that includes the City of Los Angeles, parts of unincorporated Los Angeles County and other local jurisdictions. Still, feature film shoots declined 5.3% and TV fell 3.7%, as the bulk of overall gains in production days came from smaller projects like music videos, industrial videos and student films (up 21.5%) and commercials (up 2.4%). “The latest data suggest a softness in the industry, but not a full loss of momentum,” FilmL.A. chair Ed Duffy said. “Pilot production is up, and we have a couple big features in production, so we’re optimistic about a better set of numbers come July.”

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Warner Bros’ ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ To Shoot In Pittsburgh

By | Tuesday April 5, 2011 @ 1:46pm PDT

The Pittsburgh Film Office announced today that the city has been chosen to host the production of Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight Rises, which is set to begin shooting this summer. “We are thrilled to be welcoming the Batman film to Pittsburgh, and eager for the economic impact that our city will experience,” Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said. “This is another example of the growing film industry in our community, and we will be rolling out the red carpet for them.” Said director Christopher Nolan: “Pittsburgh is a beautiful city. We have been able to find everything we were looking for here, and I am excited to spend the summer in Pittsburgh with our final installment of Batman.” The last film in Nolan’s Batman trilogy is slated to premiere July 20, 2012.

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3 Arts & Untitled Talk Management Merger

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Management/production companies 3 Arts and Untitled Entertainment are in merger talks. I’m not certain they are going to join forces, but they are exploring it seriously. The potential mix of assets of the two companies is intriguing. 3 Arts — run by Erwin Stoff, Michael Rotenberg, Howard Klein, David Miner and Dave Becky – is particularly strong in the producing department. On the TV side, that includes 30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Recreation, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, HBO’s Bored to Death, and the FX comedy Louie. Among the features is I Am Legend, Street Kings, and All You Need Is Kill, the latter a priority project at Warner Bros that just got Doug Liman aboard to direct.

Untitled, which is run by Jason Weinberg, Stephanie Simon, Guy Oseary, Gene Parseghian and Johnnie Planco, has a strong talent list that include Daniel Day-Lewis, Hilary Swank, Alex Rodriguez, Madonna, Naomi Watts, David Caruso, Penelope Cruz, Ashton Kutcher, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Chris O’Donnell, Taylor Kitsch, Demi Moore, Blake Lively and Simon Baker.

The 3 Arts talent list includes Keanu Reeves, Tina Fey, director Francis Lawrence, Robert Pattinson, Chris Evans, Steve Coogan, Mike Judge, Greg Daniels, Jeff Garlin, Howie Mandel, Tracy Morgan, Amy Poehler, Jason Bateman and Cuba Gooding Jr.

I’m told the principals continue talking, mindful of the challenge in meshing cultures and forging a new power structure. Word about the possible union has begun to spread around Hollywood and I’m told that if a trip to the altar is going to … Read More »

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M. Night Shyamalan Sets ‘Buried’ Writer Chris Sparling For Night Chronicles Thriller

Mike Fleming

m-night-shyamalanM. Night Shyamalan has set the second feature to be made through his genre producing banner Night Chronicles. The project comes as Shyalaman promotes development exec Ashwin Rajan to president of production for the Media Rights Capital-backed genre label. Shyamalan and MRC set Chris Sparling to write Twelve Strangers, a thriller that involves a jury deliberating a case involving the supernatural. Sparling scripted Buried, the Rodrigo Cortes-directed Ryan Reynolds-in-a-coffin thriller snapped up by Lionsgate after a raucous midnight premiere screening at Sundance by the writer’s UTA reps.

Rajan is the former agent with whom Shyamalan launched the company to produce projects based on the filmmaker’s ideas. The construct of Shyamalan’s original three-year deal with MRC is to make one film a year with up and coming filmmakers. They’ve wrapped the first Night Chronicles film, the John Dowdle-directed Devil.

The thriller will be distributed next February 11 by Universal. That studio, coincidentally, is the major that so far has shown the most interest in the untitled Shyamalan-scripted thriller that CAA is shopping as his possible next directing project. I’m told Bradley Cooper would play a father on a desperate search for his missing child.  It might stray into Taken terrain, but the father taps into some supernatural powers to aid the search. THR reported that Cooper, Bruce Willis and Gwyneth Paltrow are loosely attached. There is no certainty a deal will close at Universal, and I’m told there’s interest from some non-studio backers.

Shyamalan’s now … Read More »

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Johnny Depp Re-Ups Deal With GK Films

Mike Fleming

Johnny-Depp-and-Angelina-JolieEXCLUSIVE: GK Films partners Graham King and Tim Headington have re-cemented one of GK Films’ most important relationships, re-upping Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil production shingle for another three years. Depp signed his first deal with King in 2004. Under the new deal, GK Films will fully finance and co-produce film and TV projects hatched by Depp and Infinitum Nihil president Christi Dembrowski. Deal comes at as King and Headington are poised to expand their company in big ways. They’ve hired Sony Pictures honcho Peter Schlessel to become president, and they are establishing an independent film distribution unit that will be run by respected vet Bob Berney (King has not confirmed Berney will be coming aboard or that he’s starting a distribution unit).

Depp is all over GK’s current important projects, either as an actor or producer. He just starred with Angelina Jolie in the Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck-directed drama The Tourist, as well as in GK’s adaptation of Hunter Thomnpson’s  The Rum Diary. Depp’s Infinitum Nihil is teamed with GK Films to produce the Martin Scorsese-directed Hugo Cabret, the 3D film which begins production shortly. Infinitum Nihil and GK are also producing Dark Shadows for Warner Bros, with Depp starring for director Tim Burton. Depp even provided the voice for the title character in Rango, the Gore Verbinski-directed animated film that King is producing with Verbinski’s Blind Wink Productions and John B. Carls for release by Paramount Pictures next March.

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Discovery Channel’s Gena McCarthy Becomes Lifetime’s New Head Of Reality

Nellie Andreeva

Gena McCarthyGena McCarthy has joined Lifetime as SVP reality & alternative programming. McCarthy will start on July 6, overseeing the development and production of unscripted series for the female-centered cable network and reporting to JoAnn Alfano, EVP entertainment. The top reality post at Lifetime has been vacant since the departure of Jessica Samet late last year. Lifetime has ventured into unscripted programming before, most notably with the acquisition of Project Runway under former CEO Andrea Wong. While scripted series will continue to be the focus, Lifetime’s reality portfolio is expected to grow under new president/GM Nancy Dubuc, who also runs the docu-driven History Channel. Read More »

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TOLDJA! Lionsgate Confirms ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ Deal

By | Monday June 21, 2010 @ 2:10pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Gerard_ButlerLionsgate has formally announced its acquisition of North American rights to Machine Gun Preacher, the fact-based drama about Sam Childers, a reformed badass who established an orphanage in war torn Africa and then supervised a militia to protect the kids. The film stars Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan and Michael Shannon, with Marc Forster directing the Jason Keller script based on the real life exploits of Sam Childers. Deadline told you all this last month after first reporting on the worthy project getting Forster and Butler in January. What’s new? They start shooting July 5 in Detroit and South Africa, and Madeline Carroll, Kathy Baker and Souleymane Sy Savane are also in the cast. It gives Lionsgate production execs something to think about while management fights off Carl Icahn.

Gerard Butler’s ‘Machine Gun Preacher Gets Start; Michelle Monaghan Will Play Wife

Gerard Butler In ‘Machine Gun Preacher’

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Shawn Levy And Marty Adelstein Form TV Company, Sign With 20th Century Fox TV And Tap Becky Clements As Prez

By | Friday June 18, 2010 @ 8:55am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Shawn_Levy2_-_Photo_Credit_Doane_Gregory(2)EXCLUSIVE: Veteran Brillstein Entertainment Partners TV executive Becky Clements is being tapped as president of the as-yet-unnamed new TV production company from Shawn Levy and Marty Adelstein. It will be based at 20th Century Fox TV with a 2-year overall deal that is now being finalized. The pact may also include a network commitment component, with talks about such a commitment at Fox currently underway. Company’s focus will be on developing half-hour comedies as well as hourlong comedic dramas, capitalizing on Levy’s solid track record in directing/producing comedy features, including the Night at the Museum and Cheeper by the Dozen franchises, Just Married, What Happens In Vegas and, most recently, Date Night.

martyTV and film producer Adelstein had been looking for a new president for his 20th TV-based Lost Marbles TV following the departure of Michael Thorn, who left last month to become head of drama at 20th TV. Adelstein quickly settled on Clements whom he had known for 10 years. As for a partner, Adelstein said he wasn’t looking for one. After two back-to-back partnerships with Neal Moritz and Dawn Parouse, Adelstein was fine flying solo with Lost Marbles until his reps at WME introduced him to fellow WME client Levy. ”He is such a good positive guy, very ambitious, and he has an eye for what is commercial and has mass appeal,” Adelstein said.

Meanwhile, Levy had dabbled into TV with a small … Read More »

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Tory Metzger Exiting Media Rights Capital

By | Tuesday June 15, 2010 @ 12:34pm PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: In a surprise move, Tory Metzger will leave her post as president of film production for Media Rights Capital when her contract expires at the end of the month. MRC co-CEOs Modi Wiczyk and Asif Satchu are starting an immediate search to replace her with one or two seasoned studio-level production executives to oversee a production slate that is going increase dramatically. That slate includes Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland followup 30 Minutes or Less, the Seth MacFarlane-directed comedy Ted, and the next scifi project from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp. Right behind that is a Baz Luhrmann-directed musical, as well as the David Fincher-produced drama House of Cards.

Metzger was a hot shot CAA agent who repped Ang Lee and Tom Cruise when she jumped to MRC in 2008. She has strong talent relations and gave MRC some credibility at a time when they needed it. But this was her first production job. The change has a lot to do with co-CEOs Wiczyk and Satchu’s recent deal with Universal Pictures to generate 20 pictures over five years that will be fed through the Universal pipeline. beginning in 2011. As a result, MRC’s picture output will grow from three films per year to as many as eight. It also sounds like Metzger missed the talent business and might crave a return, but I’m told she will take some time before making her next move. At MRC, she oversaw production on films like the Ricky Gervais comedy The Invention of Lying, the upcoming … Read More »

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Robert & Susan Downey Hire President And Tap Spirit of Steve McQueen For First Pic

By | Tuesday June 15, 2010 @ 11:11am PDT
Mike Fleming

Vanity Fair PartyEXCLUSIVE: Robert Downey Jr. and wife Susan Downey have named their  Warner Bros-based production company Team Downey, and hired David Gambino to be president of production. For their first producing project, the Downeys have come aboard Yucatan, a heist film originally crafted by Steve McQueen as a star vehicle for himself. Team Downey will produce with Dan Lin, with whom they worked on Sherlock Holmes.

While Warner Bros tried for several years to find a movie in the nearly 1,700 pages of notes and storyboards compiled by McQueen and discovered in a trunk long after his death, Team Downey and Lin will go back to that source material and start from scratch. The studio made a new rights deal with McQueen’s son, Chad, who’ll be an executive producer with Lance Sloane. Downey is intrigued with the material and will get first crack at starring in it.get-attachment.aspx

Gambino will move over from Silver Pictures and Dark Castle, where he produced Whiteout and the upcoming John Cusack-starrer The Factory. While numerous production execs interviewed for the job, Gambino had the advantage of having worked at Silver Pictures since 2001, including a stint as Susan Downey’s assistant while she was Silver Pictures president.

Deadline revealed in February that the Downeys were making a deal at Warner Bros, where he wrapped the Todd Phillips comedy Due Date. Downey will be engaged in films for the … Read More »

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‘Atlas Shrugged’ Director Stephen Polk Bummed About Being Replaced: Lawsuit?

By | Monday June 14, 2010 @ 5:57pm PDT
Mike Fleming

When I last checked on the project to turn Ayn Rand’s mammoth Atlas Shrugged into a feature film, Stephen Polk was excitedly discussing how he would realize a dream by coming out of nowhere to direct the film on June 11th. Well, the movie made its start date, but Polk is on the outside looking in. It’s One Tree Hill star Paul Johansson directing and starring among a low-wattage cast, considering that Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron each seriously flirted with playing protagonist Dagny Taggart. (Now that role will be played by Taylor Schilling.)

atlas-shrugged-book-coverPolk tells me he was devastated to be replaced just two weeks before production started, and even more so when a Variety announcement today omitted him completely, even as a producer. Polk isn’t shrugging this off. He has hired an attorney and predicts litigation in the near future. He said he could tell things were going awry when the budget began climbing as he tried to do justice to the book. “I had some real names seriously interested, but it had to be a real feature film, and I feel like I had the rug pulled out from under me,” Polk said. “When we talked about cast, even B-list cast, they were like, ‘we don’t need names.’ It was great material, people were interested, but there were red flags. It’s devastating to me. They replaced me with a TV actor, this has TV written all over it. They’ve fired other … Read More »

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Paramount Names New President Of Production

By | Friday June 4, 2010 @ 9:58am PDT

HOLLYWOOD, June 4, 2010 – Marc Evans has been promoted to President of Production, Paramount Pictures, it was announced today by Adam Goodman, President of the Paramount Film Group. Evans will continue to report to Goodman in his new role.

Evans, who is currently Executive Vice President of Production of Paramount Pictures, joined the company in 2003 as Vice President of Production. He has supervised production on such Paramount releases as “Star Trek,” “Mission: Impossible III” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” He is currently supervising upcoming titles such as “Transformers 3,” “Super 8”, “Rango,” “Morning Glory,” “The Last Airbender” and the fourth “Mission: Impossible” installment, which is slated to start production in August.

“Marc has grown into an invaluable contributor to the creative process and he is a natural choice to fill this role,” said Goodman. “His track record demonstrates his great ability to juggle highly complex productions with complete grace and ease. He has terrific relationships, a passion for filmmakers, and a great work ethic. We felt it very important to find someone within our outstanding team to fill this position, and we’re all so excited to be working with Marc in this new capacity.”

Prior to joining Paramount, Evans served as Executive Vice President of Laura Ziskin Productions, and Vice President of Industry Entertainment. He spent five years before that as Program Director of the Chicago International Film Festival.

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Zodiak Entertainment To Float On London and Paris Stock Exchanges

By | Thursday June 3, 2010 @ 10:08am PDT

zodiakThe world’s third-largest TV production company plans to have a dual listing in three to four years time, London-based RDF Media tells me. De Agostini, the Italian group which owns Zodiak Entertainment – the new owner of UK indie RDF – likes to float 49% of its businesses, creating cash for itself and shareholders.

Zodiak Entertainment should be worth between €750 million and €1 billion ($912 million to $1.2 billion), according to CEO David Frank. The new enlarged operation will have annual sales exceeding €500 million.

First priority will be getting Zodiak’s European formats into the US and UK, Frank says.

Frank saw the buyout as an opportunity for RDF to move from being a two-territory operation to an 18-territory business in one fell swoop. There is not much overlap between both companies apart from some accounting and legal functions in the UK production businesses, says Frank.

RDF’s reported £150 million ($219 million) price tag has raised eyebrows. It values RDF at about 12 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA). The usual multiple for these deals is around six or eight times EBITDA.

Frank founded RDF in 1993. He then floated the company on the London Stock Market in 2005, before taking it private again last year with Dutch investor Cyrte Investments. De Agostini owned 25% of the old RDF through the Cyrte fund vehicle.

Zodiak traces its origins to Scandinavia, and owns five UK TV production companies. It already operates more than 30 … Read More »

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Financiers Welcome Oz Funding Boost

By | Thursday June 3, 2010 @ 5:59am PDT

money10.jpgPractitioners I’ve spoken to have welcomed New South Wales’ A$25 million ($21 million) film incentive boost. Twenty million dollars of the increase has been ring-fenced to attract large-scale productions to the state. Recent Hollywood movies that have shot in NSW include Wolverine, Superman Returns and Star Wars Episode 3. The latest Mad Max film, Fury Road, is expected to begin shooting later this year. A further A$5 million ha been earmarked for Screen NSW’s production investment fund to support local productions.

Jennie Hughes, director of Hughes Media, says: “By way of these substantial incentives the NSW government is showing a major commitment to attracting and driving international business to NSW.”

James Vernon, managing director of Media Funds Management, adds that the future is all about international partnerships. From a financing perspective, the funding increase will go some way to making Australia more attractive as a co-production partner, he says.

“Any incentive available to the producer is welcome in the current economic environment but Australia and New South Wales specifically continue to provide local and international productions with sustained, innovative incentive opportunities,” adds Alan Harris of Atlantic South.

The government calculates a trickledown effect for the local economy through film. Every dollar invested in Australian film production returns about A$25 million to NSW, say the authorities – which sound awfully toppy to me.

Since 2008, NSW has provided A$28.4 million of production finance to 73 film and TV projects, generating A$700 million in expenditure and creating 5,000 jobs.

The local … Read More »

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Zodiak Acquires RDF To Create Indie Giant

By | Wednesday June 2, 2010 @ 12:51am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

zodiakUPDATED: Paris-based Zodiak Entertainment has closed a deal to acquire U.K.’s RDF Media Group, creating the third largest independent TV production company in the world, rdfbehind Endemol and the RTL-owned FremantleMedia, with annual sales of more than $600 million. Zodiak’s acquisition of RDF, valued at more than $200 million, had david frank 3 copybeen in the works for four months. Upon its completion, RDF CEO David Frank has been named CEO of Zodiak Entertainment. Lorenzo Pellicioli, CEO of De Agostini Group and chairman & CEO of Zodiak, will continue to serve as chairman of the combined company.

Frank stressed how complimentary the two companies’ business are. RDF has presence in the U.K. and the U.S. but has no production entities in mainland Europe. Its in-house distribution unit is focused primarily on unscripted product. Meanwhile, Zodiak’s area of operation is mainland Europe with no presence in the U.K. and the U.S. and it distributes primarily scripted product. “The overlap was minimal,” Frank said.

RDF’s U.S. outpost will now be known as RDF USA, part of the Zodiak Entertainment Group and will serve as a conduit for the Zodiak formats as they’re filtered and adapted for the US marketplace. Reflecting the fact that Zodiak is more heavily involved in scripted shows (the company’s programming mix is about 50-50 between scripted and unscripted vs. 85-15 for RDF … Read More »

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Michael Edelstein To Head NBC Uni’s International TV Production Unit

By | Tuesday June 1, 2010 @ 11:45am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Producer Michael Edelstein is returning to the executive ranks as president of international television production for NBC Universal International. Edelstein, who will relocate from Los Angeles to London, replaces former co-founder and CEO of Hat Trick Denise O’Donoghue. She, in turn, succeeded Angela Bromstad, who held the post until returning to NBC a year and a half ago. Edelstein will oversee UK production company Carnival Film & TV, which was acquired by NBC Uni in 2008, and will work closely with Working Title TV, a joint production venture formed by NBC Uni with Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner and headed by Shelley McCrory. He will also oversee NBC Uni’s international formats licensing business, headed by Yvonne Pilkington. Edelstein served as an executive producer on the first season of ABC’s Desperate Housewives and, most recently, on the ABC summer series Defying Gravity. He previously worked as executive producer at Industry Entertainment and as director current programs at CBS Entertainment.

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Focus Features ‘Eagle Of The Ninth’ Flies From September Slot To February 25

By | Wednesday May 26, 2010 @ 12:42pm PDT
Mike Fleming

eagle-of-the-ninth-channingFocus Features has set its release calendar for 2011. The big surprise? The Eagle of the Ninth has moved from its September 24 slot and instead will open February 25, 2011. Directed Kevin Macdonald, the drama stars Channing Tatum as a Roman soldier in 140 AD who travels with his servant (Jamie Bell) into the wilds of Caledonia to discover why his father, leader of the Ninth Legion, disappeared with his troops in the mountains of Scotland. While tongues will surely wag over the move, the reasoning seems sound to me. The premise is more of mainstream than Oscar, and the decision was made to avoid opening in a hotly contested period that includes Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and the Ryan Reynolds-starrer Buried. Focus is trying a move that Paramount executed with great success last fall when it moved Shutter Island from fall to February.

* Focus will begin a platform release of the Cary Fukunaga-directed Jane Eyre on March 11, 2011. The film stars Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell and Judi Dench in an adaptation of the Charlotte Bronte novel. The film just wrapped.

* Hanna, the Joe Wright-directed film, will open April 8. Saoirse Ronan plays a badass teen who takes out anyone in her path as she tries to free the ex-CIA operative father (Eric Bana) who taught her survival skills.

* One Day, the film that An Education director Lone Scherfig begins shooting in July with Anne Hathaway … Read More »

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