Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp has launched an LA-based acquisitions arm to be run by Federica Sainte-Rose. As Head of Worldwide Acquisitions she will report to EuropaCorp CEO, Christophe Lambert. Also joining the department is former FilmNation exec John Zois as Director of Worldwide Acquisitions. The move to create a new division is part of Europa’s deeper push into the domestic U.S. market. It follows Europa’s deal with Relativity under which it bought into a joint venture, Red, giving it access and better control of the distribution of its movies. At Cannes, the Euro studio also unveiled a five-year, $450M JPMorgan-led credit facility to fund production and P&A for a slate of eight English-language commercial films released through that jv. That was a few months after it hired Lisa Ellzey as EVP of U.S. Motion Picture Production. The new acquisitions team will focus on films for domestic distribution through Red, as well as multi-territory film rights including France. They’ll be on the ground in Toronto.
Prior to joining EuropaCorp, Sainte-Rose was part of Universal’s worldwide acquisitions team and previously was Head of Acquisitions for Studiocanal. Lambert said today, “We are excited to welcome this amazing acquisitions team to the studio. EuropaCorp is becoming a new distribution alternative for filmmakers, who will benefit from close interaction with world class acquisitions and production executives as well as a robust marketing and distribution infrastructure both domestically and internationally.”
Online media company Refinery29 is partnering with Relativity Television and Relativity’s fashion division, M3/Relativity, to develop Refinery properties for more traditional linear TV outlets, focused on fashion and beauty topics, one of the biggest sectors in online video and other parts of the web. Under the deal, Relativity’s units will work with Refinery to turn its online content into programming for more traditional TV shows. M3′s role will in part be to bring in its prominent clients in the fashion world for on-air appearances.
“This partnership represents a great merger of two brands, Relativity and Refinery 29, which have the ability to take content development to the next level through top-tier relationships, experience and a shared vision to elevate creative programing for the most desired audience,” said Relativity Television CEO Tom Forman.
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Relativity has closed a deal to to fully finance The Disappointments Room, a psychological thriller in the vein of The Shining that will begin shooting in August with Kate Beckinsale starring for director DJ Caruso. Geyer Kosinski is producing and Robbie Brenner will oversee for Relativity.
Inspired by a true event, The Disappointments Room tells the story of one family’s terror-filled encounter within their own home. Looking for a fresh start, Dana (Kate Beckinsale) and David, together with their 5-year-old son Jeremy, move into their dream house, a beautiful old rural home. Hidden within the attic was a secret room. When frightening and unexplainable events lead Dana to discover the long lost key to this room, she accidentally unlocks a host of unimaginable horrors that reveal the house’s past is terrifyingly tied with her own. The ghost story was shopped at AFM, but those entities aren’t involved. The script was written by Wentworth Miller, the Prison Break star who wrote Stoker. Caruso has done the most recent pass on the script.
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EXCLUSIVE: In competitive bidding, Relativity has acquired Fearless, based on the Eric Blehm bestselling book on SEAL Team Six operative Adam Brown. Brown battled personal demons, including drug addiction and jail time, to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a Navy SEAL. With the support of his wife and family, and drawing on his faith, Brown persevered through relapses and overcame what should have been career ending injuries to earn a spot on the elite SEAL Team Six unit. In a final act of true selflessness, Brown volunteered for an exceptionally dangerous mission during which he was killed protecting his teammates. Like Lone Survivor, this movie is the story of a tale of courage and sacrifice and a man’s unwavering love for his family, his fellow SEAL members, and his country. Have to say I don’t think there can be too many powerful movies that remind us of the sacrifice these soldiers make under the most dangerous conditions.
Ryan Kavanaugh and Christy Fletcher of Fletcher and Co. will produce the film. Tucker Tooley will serve as executive producer. Brett Dahl is overseeing the project on behalf of the studio. The author previously wrote The Last Season and The Only Thing Worth Dying For.
Said Tooley: “Navy SEAL Adam Brown’s story is one of incredible determination, strength and heroism, and Relativity is proud to work on a film that honors him.” Resolution’s Rich Green repped the author and Linda Lichter repped … Read More »
If there is one thing Relativity Media head Ryan Kavanaugh likes, it’s making deals. He’s hammered out a joint venture with Bollywood film and TV network B4U that, the announcement says, will leverage their combined expertise, relationships and resources to create and distribute highly engaging long and short form entertainment and sports content in India, spanning film, television and digital. The plan calls for them to co-finance, co-produce and distribute Indian-language films and television shows and acquire projects in the U.S. and Indian markets; distribute third-party content in India and select Bollywood films in the U.S.; create and launch a new pay television channel in India focused on Hollywood content in both English and Hindi; launch “RelaTV” – a digital streaming technology platform to deliver compelling short- and longform content to Indian consumers; and co-produce a slate of Hollywood films including the Nicholas Sparks novel adaptation The Best Of Me. There is $100 million for co-productions, they said.
Now, the track record for cross-pollination between India and Hollywood has been sketchy so far. Reliance must still be scratching their heads after backing first-look deals with top acting and directing talent and getting nothing to show for it. They’ve fared better with DreamWorks, but that company has an uncertain future, as Steven Spielberg’s partner Stacey Snider negotiates her way to a top exec job at Fox. India’s UTV made forays with stars including Will Smith and Overbrook, and M. Night Shyamalan, but they didn’t lead to much, either.
On paper, the appeal into expansion in India is a no-brainer. There is rapid urbanization, multiplex growth and content is prized. “By 2020, India is set to become the world’s youngest country, and its citizens are adopting new technology platforms – from smartphones to smart TVs – at a dramatic rate,” Kavanaugh said. “This joint venture positions us well to deliver enthralling content across rapidly emerging distribution channels.” Read More »
There’s a new finish line on the Western’s long and dusty road to the big screen. Relativity today set a February 20 release date for Jane Got a Gun, which had been set for this summer and has been through three bad guys, two directors and one lawsuit. Natalie Portman stars as Jane, who rebuilds her life with new husband Bill (Noah Emmerich) after being tormented by an outlaw gang led by Collin (Ewan McGregor, who replaced Bradley Cooper, who had replaced Jude Law). But things get ugly again when the husband has a fresh run-in with the gang, leaving Jane little choice but to ask her ex-fiance (Joel Edgerton) for help. Gavin O’Connor directs the film, having taken over the chair after Lynne Ramsay exited the project on the first day of production.
EXCLUSIVE: Relativity has closed a 7-figure deal for U.S. distribution rights to Hector And The Search For Happiness, the Peter Chelsom-directed comedy that stars Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike, Stllan Skarsgard, Jean Reno and Christopher Plummer. Relativity has dated the film for a September 26 platform opening, expanding wider on October 3. The script was written by Maria von Heland, Chelsom & Tinker Lindsay.
Related: Simon Pegg On A ‘Search For Happiness’
The film is based on the bestselling novel by François Lelord, and Pegg plays a disillusioned psychiatrist searching the globe to find the secret to happiness. The film is a co-production between Egoli Tossell Film, Erfttal Film and Screen Siren Pictures film, in association with Head Gear Films and Film House Germany. It was produced with the participation of Telefilm Canada, the German Federal Film Board (FFA), Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF). It was co-produced by Wild Bunch Germany and Construction Film. The producers are Judy Tossell, Klaus Dohle, Christine Haebler and Trish Dolman, with Phil Hunt, Compton Ross and Christian Angermayer. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: As it whips up buzz for the April 11 launch of the genre thriller Oculus, Relativity has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Somnia, the horror film directed by Oculus helmer Mike Flanagan. The film stars Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, Annabeth Gish, Jacob Tremblay and Dash Mihok.
The deal continues the relationship between Relativity and Intrepid Pictures. Intrepid and Demarest produced, and Demarest Films co-financed Somnia with MICA Entertainment, the latter of which also co-financed Oculus. Relativity has committed to a wide release of Somnia. The film revolves around an orphaned child whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps.
The film is produced by Trevor Macy, Sam Englebardt and William D. Johnson. Flanagan and his Oculus partner Jeff Howard wrote the screenplay. Mali Elfman and D. Scott Lumpkin are exec producers. Paradigm reps Intrepid with Reder & Feig, and they brokered this deal. APA reps Flanagan and Howard. Sierra/Affinity is handling international sales.
House Of Cards‘ Sebastian Arcelus and Gerald McRaney are joining the cast of Relativity’s Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Best Of Me. Directed by Michael Hoffman (The Last Station, The Emperor’s Club), The Best Of Me tells the story of Dawson and Amanda, two former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart, when they return to their small town for the funeral of a beloved friend. Their bittersweet reunion reignites the love they’ve never forgotten, but soon they discover the forces that drove them apart twenty years ago live on, posing even more serious threats today. Read More »
We got a peek at horror pic Oculus back in January and now Relativity has dropped the official trailer. Doctor Who‘s Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites star as siblings Kaylie and Tim, whose parents were killed 1o years ago in a brutal act blamed on Tim. When he’s released from custody, Kaylie sets out to prove a malevolent supernatural force was really behind their parents’ murder by returning to their childhood home. Katee Sackhoff and Rory Cochrane also star. Mike Flanagan directs from a screenplay he co-wrote with Jeff Howard, based on their short story. Oculus hits theaters on April 11.
Relativity and Clear Channel are renewing their multi-platform marketing agreement to promote Relativity film releases, the companies announced today. Over the next 18 months, Relativity will provide exclusive content that will be shared through various Clear Channel platforms, including its digital music service iHeartRadio, national radio programs and top-rated local radio stations. Also included are digital and mobile ad units, digital outdoor billboards in strategic locations such as Times Square and national and local commercial inventory. Radio personalities such as Ryan Seacrest, Elvis Duran, Dan Patrick and Steve Harvey will also provide promotional support. Since the initial partnership was launched in 2011, the companies have collaborated on campaigns for the films Limitless, Immortals, Act Of Valor, Safe Haven and Free Birds. Relativity’s upcoming releases include Kevin Costner-starrer 3 Days To Kill (February 21); supernatural horror pic Oculus (April 11) and live-action family adventure Earth To Echo (July 2).
Relativity has dated the resilient Natalie Portman-starrer for August 29. Gavin O’Connor was tapped to direct the indie Western following Lynne Ramsay’s controversial exit in March. Brian Duffield penned the screenplay. The film centers on Jane Hammond (Portman), who turns to her former lover Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton) for help in defending her home and husband from the outlaw Bishop Boys gang. Ewan McGregor plays the villainous leader of the gang, a role he took over after Bradley Cooper pulled out. Jane Got A Gun will face off against Universal’s thriller The Loft and Lionsgate’s horror pic Jessabelle.
EXCLUSIVE: Looking to keep its The Crow screenwriter Cliff Dorfman firmly in the nest, Relativity has signed the scribe to an exclusive first-look deal. This comes after Dorfman scripted a Relativity Crow reboot that goes into production early next year with F. Javier Gutierrez directing and Luke Evans playing the role originated by Brandon lee.
Related: ‘The Crow’ Flies With Luke Evans
Dorfman came to the project after serving as a writer-producer of Entourage and co-scripting the Gavin O’Connor-directed Warrior. Under the new deal, he will bring in projects of his own to write and will work on pre-existing Relativity films. Relativity President Tucker Tooley said the company wants long-term relationships with the right talent, and Dorfman fit that bill. “Cliff did an incredible job on The Crow, and we look forward to having his edgy and evocative writing style on a wide-range of the studio’s projects,” Tooley said. Dorfman is represented by Resolution and Apostle’s George Heller.
The McG-directed action thriller starring Kevin Costner had been slated for the busy Valentine’s Day slot but now will open February 21. Three Days To Kill faces a much less crowded opening field led by Sony TriStar’s volcanic actioner Pompeii. The film from Relativity and Luc Besson’s Europacorp centers on an elite government hitman (Costner) who finds out he has a terminal disease and decides to give up his high-stakes life to build a relationship with his estranged wife and daughter, whom he’s kept at arm’s length to keep out of danger. But when his agency offers him an experimental, potentially life-saving drug in exchange for one last mission, it’s an offer he can’t refuse — even if he must go after the world’s most ruthless terrorist while babysitting his daughter. Three Days To Kill was written by Besson and Adi Hasak and co-stars Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld and Connie Nielsen.
Relativity is straying from its Nicholas Sparks safety zone for its third adaptation of the author’s work. After scoring with a pair of successful Valentine’s week openings — and eventual grosses — for Safe Haven (2013) and Dear John (2010), Relativity will bow The Best Of Me on October 17, 2014. The second-chance tale of former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart will go up against Universal’s James Brown biopic Get On Up and Fox’s Romeo and Juliet-meets-Day of the Dead toon Book of Life that weekend. Best Of Me is directed by Michael Hoffman, who co-wrote the pic with J. Mills Goodloe and Will Fetters.
EXCLUSIVE: It seems a long time ago that Don Jon’s Addiction announced Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a writer/director to be reckoned with, after the film followed its January Sundance debut with a late night bidding battle that ended with Relativity paying a $4 million advance and a $25 million P&A commitment. That is a whopper for a film that was financed by Voltage Pictures’ Nicolas Chartier for around $3 million. Some eight months later, Relativity is releasing the film on 2400 screens under the title Don Jon. Gordon-Levitt plays the title character, a buff bartender who prefers internet porn to his many living and breathing bed partners. The film’s subject matter made it a hard R movie even though there is depth behind its provocative theme. It won’t be hard for this picture to be a financial win, especially if it catches a zeitgeist wave. Relativity production president Robbie Brenner said they held a buzz-building simultaneous screening in 100 cities last week and the crowds were as raucous as the one that first saw the film in Sundance. She and Tucker Tooley said they have done everything they promised Gordon-Levitt in Park City and they hope hard to serve as a home for a new film making voice. I interviewed Gordon-Levitt after his January premiere in Park City, and we did it again this week as he explains the process of going from festival sensation to mainstream ambitions.
RELATED: Sundance: Fleming Q&As Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Buyers Circle His Helming Debut ‘Don Jon’s Addiction’
DEADLINE: I am curious about what it’s like to see your film become a festival hit and then have to wait almost a year before the public sees it. How much has your movie changed since Sundance?
GORDON-LEVITT: We got a chance to finish the movie, basically. We got a version ready for Sundance, but really, it wasn’t finished. It didn’t have its opening credit sequence, I hadn’t had a chance to refine the voice over. There were a lot of tweaks needed in the editing. It is basically the same movie. No lines got cut, no story moments were lost and no real time was cut from the movie. The screws got tightened, and I think it is a lot better than it was at Sundance. Read More »