EXCLUSIVE: ARC Entertainment has acquired North American rights excluding theatrical to Seven Days In Utopia, the inspirational drama starring Robert Duvall and Melissa Leo. The film — about a down-and-out young pro golfer who becomes stranded in Utopia, Texas and befriends a rancher — was released in theaters in early September and grossed more than $4 million. Lucas Black, Deborah Ann Woll and Brian Geraghty co-star. ARC will release the movie on DVD and video-on-demand later this year. The company’s past titles include martial arts actioner Bunraku and the Sundance documentary Knuckle.
Billy Bob Thornton has set Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Kevin Bacon, Robert Patrick and Ray Stevenson to star with Thornton in Jayne Mansfield’s Car, the first dramatic feature that Thornton has directed since 2001′s Daddy and Them. The film is being funded by AR Films, whose principal, Alexander Rodnyansky, will produce with Media Talent Group’s Geyer Kosinski. Production begins June 22 in Georgia.
Thornton, who co-wrote the script with frequent collaborator Tom Epperson, has been mobilizing the picture for a while and just locked his final cast. He has also set John Patrick Amedori to play a lead in the film. A comedy with dramatic overtone, it revolves around the culture clash of two families, from different continents, in 1969.
Rodnyansky is the founder of the Ukrainian TV channel 1+1 and former CEO of CTC Media when it became the biggest independent publicly traded media conglomerate in Russia with five channels in three countries. He has produced over 20 TV series and 30 films including Elena, which received the Special Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard category at Cannes last month. “I’ve started to look for opportunities in America, and this is definitely not a single picture strategy,” he told me. “When I read that script, I fell in love with it. I was a fan of Sling Blade and Billy Bob’s other movies. No matter where you are making movies, it’s all about the script.”
The winners for the 20th Anniversary Gotham Independent Film Awards were announced tonight. The awards organized by the Independent Feature Project already announced the recipients of their honorary awards handed out this evening, including filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, actors Hilary Swank and Robert Duvall, and Focus Features CEO James Schamus. Tonight’s marquee …
The pace of the 2010 awards season seems at this early November juncture to be faster than any I can remember. (I feel like the title of the late and great Jill Clayburgh’s star turn, I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can.) Hopefuls are getting out there earlier, and more forcefully, in order to gain a foothold in the race any way they can. Examples from just two days’ worth of campaigning: Michelle Williams called me from the London set of My Week With Marilyn. Yes, she’s playing the iconic Monroe but couldn’t yet articulate what that means to her and instead wanted to talk about her awards contender, Blue Valentine. So we did before I had to run off to the Four Seasons Hotel to chat with Robert Duvall about his contender, Get Low. It was a summer release he’s now trying to keep in the conversation by doing an exhaustive series of interviews and Q&A sessions. For a guy who is about to turn 80, he could not have been more energized even with the daunting prospect of facing months of the “season” still to go. Javier Bardem called on his cell from a street corner in Madrid to recount for me the intense experience of making Biutiful. Then I had to again race to the Four Seasons for back to back bar chats with two other Best Actor wannabes, Kevin Spacey who talked Casino Jack before Aaron Eckhart arrived 10 minutes later to discuss Rabbit Hole.
With the exception of Get Low, all of the above were spotlighting work in independently made movies that are mid to late December releases. But their stars cannot afford to wait if they are to get on the map in this ultra-crowded season. The ever-busy Spacey was at the Britannias and an MPTVF event on Thursday night and also turned up Sunday evening at the Pacific Design Center for an actor-centric post-screening Q&A for SAG nominating committee members. Like an episode of Inside The Actors Studio, the packed house gave him a standing ovation. Reliable eyewitness sources tell me even more impressive standing O happened to Halle Berry two nights in a row at the same place where she Q&A’d her December stealth entry, Frankie & Alice for the NAACP Image Award voters Friday and SAG Nom Comm Saturday. They marked her indie’s first screenings but Berry wasn’t watching. She was out in the lobby doing TV interviews about what the project meant to her as an actress. Meanwhile publicists were frantically cutting film clips for the late-breaking entrant and hoping to have their DVD screeners out well before Thanksgiving. As part of her campaign, Berry will also be “in conversation” with a career retrospective Tuesday night at the AFI Fest.
Speaking of that, the AFI Film Festival opened with Twentieth Century Fox’s Love And Other Drugs. The glut of AFI galas is because it’s an inexpensive way for distribs to do LA premieres this time of year and still get maximum exposure. They included The Weinstein Co’s Blue Valentine with co-star Ryan Gosling and director Derek Cianfrance on the carpet at the Chinese. While down the street at the Egyptian, Sony Pictures Classics unveiled their comedy Barney’s Version with superlative performances from stars Paul Giamatti, Minnie Driver, and Dustin and Jake Hoffman who were all on hand for the stroll down that red carpet. The film, based on the Mordecai Richler story and previously seen in Venice and Toronto, was a hit at AFI with special praise for absent co-star Rosamund Pike who could find her way into the supporting actress race.
Parties, private screenings, Q&As and the first movie awards show of the season all in the span of 24 hours. It all proves we’re in full swing with just four months to go before the Oscars. The 14th Annual Hollywood Awards Gala drew an impressive star turnout Monday evening at the Beverly Hilton, the same room where the Golden Globes get handed out in about 2 months. I’ve often said that if the Globes are a good place to try out your Oscar speech then The Hollywood Awards are a good place to try out your Globes speech. And a long list of honorees did just that, including Robert Duvall (Actor), Annette Bening (Actress), Helena Bonham Carter (Supporting Actress), Sam Rockwell (Supporting Actor), Danny Boyle and Christian Colson (Producers – 127 Hours), Tom Hooper (Director — The King’s Speech), Aaron Sorkin (Screenwriter – The Social Network), Lee Unkrich (Animated Feature – Toy Story 3), plus plenty of below the line crafts winners, acting breakthrough awards, a career achievement honor to Sly Stallone and a humanitarian award for Sean Penn. These trophies are all negotiated with distributors and publicists who promise to buy a table and a program ad and deliver their honoree in person in return for a lot of free red carpet exposure and a shot at giving an acceptance speech in front of a smattering of industry types and several Academy voters. The event isn’t televised, but there was certainly enough star power to support a broadcast. No one really takes it seriously except as an early opportunity to trot out your contenders in hopes of moving then up a peg in the marathon race to Oscar. This is the place awards watchers get to hear speeches for the first time. There’s even a live band on stage playing corny awards show music. First time attendee Aaron Eckhart, who presented to Bonham Carter, told me he thought it was a lot of fun. It’s a warm-up, the equivalent of spring training.
New York, NY (September 30, 2010) – The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers, announced today that director Darren Aronofsky, actors Hilary Swank and Robert Duvall, and Focus Features CEO, James Schamus, will each be presented with a career Tribute at the