Were any doubt to remain, let it be clear: Netflix is doing its level best to make the Emmy season as big as the Oscars, with glitzy events showcasing its biggest stars to would-be voters. Case in point: Thursday night’s showcase at the TV Academy of five women from three of its most prominent programs, including Oscar winner Jodie Foster, Golden Globe winner Robin Wright, Golden Globe nominees Taylor Schilling and Kate Mulgrew and Jehane Noujaim, director of an Oscar-nominated documentary.
The first four are either actors, directors or both on Netflix series House Of Cards and Orange is the New Black,while Noujaim directed The Square, the 2013 documentary about the Egyptian democracy uprising that Netflix distributed on VOD and video in the U.S. As is typical in such gatherings with a loose theme — in this case the theme appeared be Totally Rocking Actor-Director Humans Who Are Also Women And Also Doing Great Stuff For Netflix — there wasn’t much of a narrative through-line in the conversation, but there were lots of great bits, as you might expect from a group of such smart and accomplished people doing great stuff with great shows. Herewith are some of the highlights from a thoroughly engaging evening:
EXCLUSIVE:Universal Pictures has set Sam Worthington and House Of Cards’Robin Wright to the ensemble cast of Everest. They join Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Jake Gyllenhaal, Martin Henderson, Emily Watson and Thomas Wright in the Baltasar Kormakur-directed true saga of a disastrous attempt to scale the summit of the world’s highest mountain when they were hit by a fierce snowstorm near the top. Worthington will play Guy Cotter and Wright will play Beck Weather’s wife, Peach. Pic is shooting right now in Nepal on the base of Everest, as well as the Italian Dolomites and Cinecitta Studios in Rome and Pinewood Studios in the UK.
Universal will release the film September 18, 2015 and it’s a co-production between Universal, Working Title and Cross Creek Pictures, in association with Walden Media. Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing with Cross Creek’s Brian Oliver and Tyler Thompson, along with Kormakur and Nicky Kentish Barnes. Randall Emmett and George Furla are executive producing. The film was scripted by Children Of A Lesser God‘s Mark Medoff and Slumdog Millionaire‘s Simon Beaufoy. Universal’s Erik Baiers and Chloe Yellin are overseeing.
Worthington is repped by CAA, Anonymous Content’s Sandra Chang and Shanahan Management in Australia. Wright is repped by CAA, Michael Sugar of Anonymous Content and attorney Melanie Cook.
Naomi Watts and Robin Wright are BFFs who become romantically entangled with each others’ son in Anne Fontaine’s (Coco Before Chanel) English-language debut. Oscar-winning writer Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons) adapted the script from Doris Lessing’s novella (and ostensibly not from SNL‘s Motherlover skit). Adoredebuted at Sundance under the title Two Mothers. Exclusive Media will release the pic in theaters and on demand September 6. Here’s the trailer:
With her early iconic roles of Buttercup (The Princess Bride) and Jenny (Forrest Gump) nestled into filmgoers’ collective consciousness, it’s easy to forget that Robin Wright’s roots were in TV, where she garnered three Daytime Emmy noms in the mid-1980s for her role on the soap Santa Barbara. Now, after a couple decades of a lauded but intermittent film career, Wright is back on the small-screen in Netflix’s House Of Cards, where she’s generating Emmy buzz for her deftly nuanced role as Congressman Underwood’s (Kevin Spacey) formidable wife, Claire, a cold-blooded schemer with hot flashes.
AwardsLine: You started in TV, but did you ever think you’d be back on a series? Wright: No. Never. Never imagined. The other thing is, I never watched TV—well that’s not true, I did watch Friends with my kids, but that was about it. But David Fincher said to me, “This is a new medium; it’s not television. No one’s ever done this revolutionary format. This is where the future is heading.” We’d done Girl With The Dragon Tattoo together, and I wanted to be in business with him. I’ve been in this business nearly 30 years, and you get to a point where you know who you want to work with. I wanted to work with David and Kevin and [writer] Beau Willimon. It’s a true collaboration. Read More »
Drafthouse Films has picked up North American rights in a deal with Films We Like to the sci-fi pic The Congress which opened the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar last month at Cannes. Ari Folman (Waltz With Bashir) directs the film starring Robin Wright, Jon Hamm, Paul Giamatti and Harvey Keitel. A US theatrical and VOD/digital release is planned for 2014 and Films We Like in Toronto will handle Canadian distribution. Based on legendary science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem’s 1971 novel The Futurological Congress, Folman’s adaptation blends live-action and psychedelic animation as an aging, out-of-work actress (Wright in an unusual role playing an alternate reality version of herself) accepts her final job: preserving her digital image for a future Hollywood. Twenty years later, Wright’s digital double rises to immortal stardom and is invited to take part in “The Congress” as she makes her comeback straight into the world of future fantasy cinema. The deal was negotiated by Tim League and James Emanuel Shapiro on behalf of Drafthouse Films and Brigitte Suárez and Michael Weber of The Match Factory on behalf of the film’s producers.
The steamy film that sold in Sundance under Two Mothers has gotten a release date and a new title. The Aussie-set film will now be called Adore. It stars Naomi Watts and Robin Wright as two lifelong friends, each of whom starts a torrid affair with the son of the other woman. It was acquired at Sundance by the Exclusive Media arm Exclusive Releasing, and it will be given a day-and-date release on September 6. The film’s directed by Coco Before Chanel helmer Anne Fontaine in her English-speaking directorial debut. It was scripted by Christopher Hampton, based on the novel by Nobel Prize for Literature winner Doris Lessing. Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville play the sons. Read More »
Waltz With Bashir helmer Ari Folman‘s The Congress will raise the curtain on the 45th Directors’ Fortnight sidebar at the Cannes Film Festival on May 16. The pic – a mix of live action and animation — is the adaptation of sci-fi novel The Futurological Congress by Polish writer Stanislaw Lem. Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel, Paul Giamatti, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Danny Huston star. Wright plays an actress (also called Robin Wright) who accepts a large payout from a major Hollywood studio, Miramount, to be scanned and digitized to create a virtual actress. The deal stipulates she will no longer control her likeness and the studio can use it any way it pleases, essentially kiboshing her career. For 20 years she disappears to return to a transformed world as guest of honor at the Miramount-Nagasaki Convention, where a new invention is to be revealed. Producers are Bridgit Folman, Film Gang, Pandora Film, Opus Film, Paul Thiltges Distribution, ARP and Entre Chien et Loup. Match Factory has international sales. The full Directors’ Fortnight lineup will be unveiled Tuesday.
EXCLUSIVE: In another late night Sundance Film Festival deal, Exclusive Media-owned Exclusive Releasing is closing a deal for U.S. rights to Two Mothers, the Anne Fontaine-directed drama that premiered last Friday at the Eccles Theatre. Deal is a low seven figure advance and includes a few other territories, but most of the foreign territories belong to Gaumont, which funded the film. Pic is described as a gripping tale of love, lust and the power of friendships of two lifelong female friends who fall in love with each other’s sons. Naomi Watts and Robin Wright play the moms, and Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville also star. Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher Hampton penned the adaptation of Doris Lessing’s short story.
The deals calls for a traditional theatrical release through Exclusive Releasing, the distribution company that Exclusive co-chairmen Guy East and Nigel Sinclair launched last September, headed by Scott Pascucci and Matt Brodlie. There is a significant P&A and screen commitment for what will shape up as a specialized film release in the summer. Numerous bidders circled the film, some proposing a multi-platform strategy, but Exclusive Media’s Exclusive Releasing was most aggressive for its new release enterprise. CAA brokered the deal with Brodlie and Gaumont International chief Cécile Gaget. Read More »
Animal Kingdom star Ben Mendelsohn has joined the cast of Coco Before Chanel helmer Anne Fontaine’s English-language directorial debut. Naomi Watts and Robin Wright topline the drama which has been going by the name The Grandmothers, but which is now expected to get a title change. Gaumont’s Cécile Gaget also confirms to me that Sophie Lowe of Aussie TV hit The Slap and veteran actor Gary Sweet have boarded the picture with Animal Kingdom co-star James Frecheville and Twilight: Eclipse‘s Xavier Samuel. Read More »
Oren Moverman’s corrupt LA cop drama Rampart stars Woody Harrelson, Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright, Ned Beatty, Ben Foster, Ice Cube, Anne Heche and Cynthia Nixon. Millennium Entertainment plans to launch Best Actor, Director and Screenplay campaigns for Harrelson and Moverman.
EXCLUSIVE: Millennium Entertainment is putting Woody Harrelson into the Best Actor Oscar race this year, closing a $2 million U.S. rights acquisition of Rampart. That is the Oren Moverman-directed police corruption drama that Moverman wrote with L.A. Confidential author James Ellroy. The plan is to open in 20 cities and launch campaigns for Harrelson and for Moverman for Best Director and Screenplay. A deal for Canadian rights is expected to close shortly. Millennium Entertainment CEO Bill Lee made the deal, and Millennium Films’ Mark Gill will be a consultant on this and get to roll up his sleeves and wage an awards-season campaign for Harrelson, who drew raves at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival for his portrayal of a corrupt cop in a drama that also stars Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright, Ned Beatty, Ben Foster, Ice Cube, Anne Heche and Cynthia Nixon. The 1990s Los Angeles police family drama explores the dark soul and misadventures of an LAPD cop whose past finally catches up with him in a department-wide corruption scandal. Read More »
Last year’s Toronto Film Festival started slow for acquisitions, but finished with a flurry of modest distribution deals that served notice the specialty film business had finally pulled out of its nosedive. This year’s festival hasn’t started and already there are fireworks. Deadline broke news yesterday that Harvey Weinstein would start a VOD business, making the acquisitions market for fringe films more competitive; and last night, I heard that a bidding battle had already broken out for the Steve McQueen-directed Shame, which should be sold by the time it screens Sunday. Fox Searchlight is the favorite, Sony Pictures Classics is in the mix and I’ve heard that The Weinstein Company is hovering. Bidding began right after its Telluride screening, and the mid-six figures thrown around yesterday will probably go higher. That’s huge, considering the movie is an unabashed NC-17, McQueen has final cut, and the sex-obsessed protagonist is unlikable. Oh, yeah, and the sellers want it released this year for Oscar consideration to capitalize on Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan’s Oscar-caliber performances.
Does this mean we’re in for a drunken buying frenzy? Hardly, buyers tell me. They are eager to see the films, but say there’s no title here that’s going to guarantee somebody will overpay. They are also mindful that many of last year’s deals turned out to be box office busts. More deals will be made than … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Management/production company Anonymous Content is about to make a major play in the talent game. I’m hearing that Doug Wald is leaving his partnership at Raw Talent, Sandra Chang is leaving as partner at Industry Entertainment, and Tony Lipp is leaving CAA. The trio will lead Anonymous Content’s talent division and create a major infusion of acting clients. It is all taking shape today.
Lipp announced internally on Tuesday that he would leave CAA to be a manager. Wald and Chang dropped the bombshells this morning at their respective management companies. Anonymous has a modest talent business that included four managers and clients like Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright, Katie Cassidy, Omar Epps and Adrianne Palicki (just cast as Wonder Woman). The newcomers will greatly expand that list, and a lot of it is emerging talent. Among the actors already set to join: Sam Worthington, Paul Dano, Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Anna Faris, Max Minghella, Jack Quaid, Patrick Wilson, Justin Chambers, Jessica Walter, Jaime King, Matt Bomer, John Cleese, Blythe Danner, Jonathan Groff, Mamie Gummer, Nathan Lane, Simon Russell Beale and Stanley Tucci. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Robin Wright is negotiating to star in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the David Fincher-directed adaptation of the Stieg Larsson novel for Sony Pictures Entertainment. She is in talks to play Erika Berger, the publisher of crusading finance magazine Millennium, and the occasional lover of journalist Mikael Blomkvist (to be played by Daniel Craig). The film is casting up quickly, even as Fincher and producer Scott Rudin take their time searching for the right young actress to play the computer hacker heroine Lisbeth Salander. Berger figures in Larsson’s sequel books The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, and Wright is negotiating a deal that includes options for both. Read More »