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Two-Time Oscar Winner Kevin Spacey Jumps Bravely Into Self-Distribution With Today’s Unique Release Of His Latest Film

Pete Hammond

Kevin Spacey  continues to do things his own way.  After all, this is an actor who shortly after winning his second Oscar ran off Tribeca Talks: After The Movie: "NOW: In the Wings On A World Stage" - 2014 Tribeca Film Festivalto England to become Artistic Director of the Old Vic  rather than cashing in the way many other actors have. This is also the actor who launched an acclaimed TV series,  House Of Cards on Netflix as a binge-watching experiment and wound up at the Emmys in only his first season. And today Spacey is taking his career into his own hands again with the unusual distribution plan for his latest film, Now: In The Wings On A World Stage . a documentary which recounts the ten-month world tour in which he played Richard III. Although this terrific docu is going to play theatrically (where it can also presumably qualify for Oscar consideration), it will also be available for a download purchase at  (and which is essentially the same thing). This is a brave new world for film distribution, but so far very few big names have done it.  Louis CK sells his comedy specials this way at his own website, and even Tomorrow Night, an early film he directed and starred in that had never gotten a formal release.  Spacey told me he actually called  Louis CK for advice on this platform and learned it can be a very profitable deal (Louis CK has reportedly grossed up to $50,000 a day with some), and a better way to get more specialized projects seen in greater numbers than might otherwise be the case. Read More »

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Benedict Cumberbatch To Star As Richard III For BBC Two

benedict cumberbatchIn late March, BBC Director General Tony Hall announced the broadcaster’s greatest commitment to the arts in a generation. Part of the plans outlined at the time called for a further three filmed adaptations of Shakespeare’s History plays for BBC Two, including a new version of Richard III. Today, BBC Two confirmed on its Twitter feed that Benedict Cumberbatch will trade his kingdom for a horse as the titular king. The telefilm will be executive produced by Sam Mendes, produced by Downton Abbey‘s Rupert Ryle Hodges, written by Ben Power, and directed by former artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre Dominic Cooke in his screen directing debut. Cumberbatch, a Royal Court alum, said, “I can’t wait to work with Dominic Cooke again to bring this complex, funny and dangerous character to life.” The news comes as Cumberbatch is also gearing up for another Shakespearian lead: He’s playing Hamlet on stage in summer 2015 on the West End. Meanwhile, his Sherlock co-star, Martin Freeman, is also set to play Richard III, onstage at London’s Trafalgar Studios from July 1 to September 27 this year.

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Sam Mendes’ ‘Charlie & The Chocolate Factory’ Leads Olivier Award Noms

olivier awardsThe Sam Mendes-directed West End musical Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, which recently extended its run to May 20, 2015, tied today with the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along to lead the list of Olivier Award nominees with seven each. Charlie grabbed mentions in the Best Actor in a Musical category for Douglas Hodge as well as Best New Musical, among others. The show, from Warner Bros Theatrical Ventures, has twice broken records during its run for the highest weekly gross sales. The other Best New Musical nominees include Once, The Book Of Mormon and The Scottsboro Boys; each received six nominations. In the acting categories, Tom Hiddleston is cited for his lead turn in Coriolanus and Jude Law for his take on Henry V. Judi Dench in Peter And Alice, is up against Hayley Atwell, Anna Chancellor and Lesley Manville for Best Actress. The Olivier Awards ceremony will take place at London’s Royal Opera House on April 13. Click over for a full list of nominations: Read More »

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Alan Cumming, Michelle Williams In ‘Cabaret’ Revival From Sam Mendes And Rob Marshall

By | Wednesday September 4, 2013 @ 2:30pm PDT
Mike Fleming

The Roundabout Theatre Company has set Alan Cumming to play Emcee and Michelle Williams to make her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles in a limited run revival of Cabaret. Sam Mendes is directing and Rob Marshall is co-directing and choreographing, returning to the roles they played in the 1998 production that won the Tony Award. The book is by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, based on the John Van Druten play and stories by Christopher Isherwood. Since Cumming starred in that version, the new wrinkle here is Williams, the three-time Oscar nominee who’s coming off Oz The Great And Powerful. Read More »

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TOLDJA! Sam Mendes To Direct Bond #24

By | Thursday July 11, 2013 @ 9:06am PDT

Deadline reported in May that Sony Pictures and MGM were in talks for Skyfall helmer Sam Mendes to return behind the camera for the next installment of the James Bond franchise. The studios, along with producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, today confirmed Mendes will direct, with Daniel Craig reprising his role as Bond for the fourth time. There was a lot of speculation about Mendes returning. In March, he said he had made the “very difficult decision” not to return, citing theater and TV commitments. Wilson and Broccoli seemed resigned and they moved on, but they ultimately circled back and decided to wait for Mendes to work through the other commitments. Those include a musical version of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory which bowed on London’s West End last month. At the premiere, he told Deadline that Bond was indeed a possibility. It’s good news for Skyfall fans. The Mendes-helmed pic grossed over $1.1B worldwide to become the biggest 007 film and the eighth-highest-grossing film of all time. John Logan is writing the next, as-yet untitled movie, which will bow in the UK on October 23, 2015 and in the U.S. on November 6, 2015. Here’s today’s official release:

CULVER CITY, Calif., July 11, 2013 – Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, EON Productions; Gary Barber, Chairman & CEO, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Michael Lynton, CEO, Sony Entertainment, Inc, and Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment today announced that Daniel Craig will once again return as the legendary British secret agent in the 24th James Bond film and Sam Mendes will also return to direct the screenplay written by John Logan. The film is set for release in UK theaters on October 23, 2015 and in US theaters on November 6, 2015.

SKYFALL™, the 23rd James Bond film, took in $1.1 billion worldwide and set a new mark as the highest-grossing film of all time in the UK; it was the best-selling Bond film on DVD/Blu-ray and was the most critically acclaimed film in the history of the longest-running film franchise.

Commenting on the announcement, Wilson and Broccoli said, “Following the extraordinary success of SKYFALL, we’re really excited to be working once again with Daniel Craig, Sam Mendes and John Logan.”

“I am very pleased that by giving me the time I need to honour all my theatre commitments, the producers have made it possible for me to direct Bond 24. I very much look forward to taking up the reins again, and to working with Daniel Craig, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli for a second time,” said Mendes.

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Global Showbiz Briefs: Fox Sports; Mendes’ ‘Charlie’; Telemundo; France’s CNC

By | Thursday June 27, 2013 @ 12:58am PDT

Fox Rebrands Sports Channels In The Netherlands
Fox International Channels is rebranding the home of the Dutch national soccer leagues, Eredivisie Live, to Fox Sports Eredivisie and also is launching Fox Sports in the Netherlands. The switch to Fox Sports Eredivisie goes live on August 1 followed by the launch of Fox Sports on August 17. Fox Sports, will become the Dutch destination of top international soccer, including the Premier League, Série A, the FA Cup, the League Cup, Coppa Italia and the UEFA Europa League. The Fox Sports launch in the Netherlands follows a recent announcement of FIC’s plans to launch Fox Sports in Italy.

Mendes’ ‘Charlie’ Adds Six Months To Run
Sam MendesCharlie And The Chocolate Factory just opened Tuesday night on London’s West End, but it’s already adding six months to its run. The adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s story will be performed until May 31, 2014, The Guardian reports. Reviews have been somewhat mixed, but already the show was seen by more than 70,000 during previews. Tony and Olivier Award winner Douglas Hodge plays Willy Wonka with songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. A New York transfer for the Warner Bros. Theatrical Ventures production is still uncertain. Read More »

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Sam Mendes’ ‘Charlie And The Chocolate Factory’ Bows On London’s West End; Director Still Mulling Next James Bond Pic

By | Tuesday June 25, 2013 @ 8:52pm PDT

The Warner Bros. Theatrical Ventures production of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory had its West End opening at London’s iconic Theatre Royal Drury Lane Tuesday night. The show, directed by Skyfall helmer Sam Mendes, has been in previews for the past few weeks but opened tonight to a crowd that inclduded Uma Thurman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Episodes stars Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig, new Downton Abbey addition Nigel Harman and a host of other UK TV personalities. Olivier and Tony Award winner Douglas Hodge stars as imagination impresario Willy Wonka in a performance that was warmly received. At a three-story event in the Connaught Hotel afterwards, I asked Mendes how involved he’ll be in the production going forward and he said he’d check in every couple of weeks but is looking forward to a vacation – he worked on Charlie somewhat simultaneously with Skyfall. As for his potentially directing the next James Bond movie he says it’s on the table, but he’s been so busy with the musical that he’ll take some time before talking about Bond. His take on Roald Dahl’s classic story of a selfless boy whose life is forever changed by one chocolate bar has songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. The show provides a stunning first half introducing the hopeful Golden Ticket winner Charlie Bucket and his family. The second half brings the audience and Charlie and his four fellow Golden … Read More »

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Sam Mendes Back In The Picture To Direct Next James Bond Film

By | Tuesday May 28, 2013 @ 2:32pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures and MGM have started talks for Sam Mendes to return and direct Daniel Craig in the next installment of the James Bond franchise. Mendes helmed the last installment, Skyfall, an audience-pleasing film that grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide to become the biggest Bond film and the eighth-highest-grossing film of all time. John Logan is writing the next film.

There has been much speculation on whether Mendes would come back — right now he’s knee-deep preparing for the West End launch of the stage musical Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, which will then move to Broadway. That happened because Mendes bowed out, claiming that musical and King Lear were his new priorities and producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli seemed resigned and they moved on. Recently, he and the producers got back in touch. While Mendes’ first love is theater, it became clear that the producers wanted him and he wanted to return, and the only thing standing in the way were these stage commitments that Mendes felt obligated to do. So, they’ve decided to wait for him to work through those other commitments, and he’s now making a deal to start production probably next year. What’s the hurry? Craig doesn’t seem to have aged since he took the Bond role; he’s always in rocking shape. While Mendes looked doubtful, a bunch of names have been floated in the press, from Ang Lee to Nicolas Winding Refn and Christopher Nolan. I’m not sure there is much validity to any of them, but now it is a moot point, because Mendes will be the director of the next Bond. Read More »

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Sam Mendes Won’t Direct Bond 24: Report

By | Wednesday March 6, 2013 @ 5:24am PST

He directed the highest-grossing James Bond movie of all time, but with a full dance card, Skyfall helmer Sam Mendes has told Empire Magazine that he will not return to the 007 franchise for the next installment. “It has been a very difficult decision not to accept Michael and Barbara’s very generous offer to direct the next Bond movie,” he said. “Directing Skyfall was one of the best experiences of my professional life, but I have theater and other commitments including productions of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and King Lear, that need my complete focus over the next year and beyond.” Mendes is also working with Skyfall co-writer John Logan on psychosexual horror series, Penny Dreadful, for Showtime with production eyed to begin in London in the second half of the year. Logan is penning the next two Bond pictures.

Producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli didn’t rule out the possibility of working with the director again, however. “We thoroughly enjoyed working with Sam, he directed our most successful Bond movie ever, Skyfall. We would have loved to have made the next film with him, but completely respect his decision to focus on other projects and hope to have the opportunity to collaborate with him again,” they said.

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Showtime Lands High-Concept Drama From ‘Skyfall’ Duo John Logan And Sam Mendes

By | Friday January 11, 2013 @ 4:16pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: On the heels of their movie Skyfall smashing worldwide box office records as the highest-grossing James Bond pic of all time and landing the franchise’s first Oscar nominations in 30 years, the film’s co-writer John Logan and director Sam Mendes are headed to Showtime. I’ve learned that the pay cable network, flying high on the critical success of original drama Homeland, has landed the duo’s high-concept drama project, which Logan and Mendes took out to premium cable networks in November as a spec written by Logan. Deals are still being finalized but I hear that the project is eyeing a straight-to-series order at Showtime, with Logan and Mendes executive producing with an eye for Mendes to direct. The untitled drama, which has undergone some tweaking from the original spec to tailor it to the Showtime audiences, is described as a psychological horror drama series with literary underpinnings, including Dr. Frankenstein and his creature, set in the 1800s. This would mark both Logan and Mendes’ series debut. They are executive producing the show with Pippa Harris, Mendes’ partner at Neal Street Prods. Read More »

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James Bond At 50 Scores Big At The Academy But Could It Be The First To Get Best Picture Attention?

By | Monday November 12, 2012 @ 5:40pm PST
Pete Hammond

James Bond and Abraham Lincoln both were very impressive at the box office this weekend but they also killed at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences with packed turnaway crowds, certainly among the biggest of the year there and a good omen for their Oscar chances.

At Saturday night’s Lincoln screening the 1,012 seat Samuel Goldwyn Theatre was already full with Academy members by 7:10 and the smaller theatre in the building that seats about 80 was also at capacity just a few minutes later. In a rare moment for these official Academy screenings about 50 to 60 were turned away. One member who didn’t make it in and regularly attends almost all the Acad member weekend showings told me it was the first time in all the years he has been going that he wasn’t able to get in. The film reportedly played extremely well with a standing ovation for star Daniel Day-Lewis at the Q&A which also included director Steven Spielberg, producer Kathleen Kennedy, screenwriter Tony Kushner, composer John Williams and co-star Sally Field. I was also told that virtually everyone stayed for the Q&A which often isn’t the case. This intense interest bodes well for the film’s Oscar prospects down the line. An earlier all-Guild screening at the Westwood Bruin also drew a capacity crowd and strong response at the Q&A. Read More »

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BBC Exec Nicolas Brown To Join Top Ranks Of Sam Mendes’ Neal Street

By | Thursday November 8, 2012 @ 8:06am PST

Looking to expand its TV slate, Neal Street Productions has appointed BBC director of UK drama Nicolas Brown as a company director. He will start his job early next year and take a seat on the Neal Street board alongside founders Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris and Caro Newling. At the BBC since 2006, Brown this year took responsibility for the delivery of all BBC network drama including EastEnders, Silent Witness, The Paradise and Luther. Prior to joining the BBC, he was a producer in his own right and recently executive produced two short films for Danny Boyle’s Olympics Opening Ceremony — notably one in which Daniel Craig’s James Bond escorts Queen Elizabeth II to the Olympic stadium via helicopter. At Neal Street, he’ll work with Skyfall director Mendes and Harris on both film and TV projects. In the past year, Neal Street’s Call The Midwife was the BBC’s highest-rated new drama ever. The 1950s-set series recently completed a successful run on PBS in the U.S. Read More »

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‘Skyfall’ Duo John Logan And Sam Mendes Pair Up In TV For Vampire Hunter Drama

By and | Sunday November 4, 2012 @ 12:35pm PST

EXCLUSIVE: With the latest James Bond movie Skyfall already smashing box office records, the film’s co-writer John Logan and director Sam Mendes are re-teaming on the TV side. In what would be both Logan and Mendes’ series debut, the two have partnered for a drama project. We’ve learned that the script, written by Logan with Mendes attached to produce and possibly direct, has been sent to premium cable networks.

It is described as an origin story set in the 1800s London in the vein of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which also was set in 19th century Europe, including London, and featured an assortment of fictional literary characters. The Logan/Mendes project features such characters as Van Helsing and Doctor Frankenstein as they hunt for vampires. The drama is unlikely to have spy elements as Eon Prods., which produces the Bond films, has a long history of preventing its writers and directors from working on other ‘spy’ material, even when they’re done with a 007 movie and have moved on. In the case of Logan, he is far from done with Bond –  he already  has been tapped to write the next two installments, Bond 24 and 25. Meanwhile, Mendes was the first Oscar winner to direct a Bond pic with Skyfall. He is producing the TV project through his Neal Street Prods. Read More »

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Sam Mendes’ West End ‘Charlie’ Casts ‘Diana’ Star Douglas Hodge As Willy Wonka

By | Thursday October 11, 2012 @ 5:04am PDT

British actor Douglas Hodge will play candy/imagination impresario Willy Wonka in Sam Mendes‘ West End musical take on Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. The Warner Bros. Theatrical Ventures production is set to open next year. Hodge is currently starring in a Broadway revival of Cyrano De Bergerac and plays royal butler Paul Burrell in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s upcoming biopic Diana, opposite Naomi Watts. Mendes’ James Bond pic Skyfall opens Nov. 9 and he’ll begin previews of Charlie in London next May. New songs for the show are being penned by Smash and Hairspray duo Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Hodge is a prolific stage actor who won an Olivier, a Tony, a Drama Desk and an Outer Critics Circle Award for La Cage Aux Folles two years ago. His feature credits include 2010’s Robin Hood and 2004’s Vanity Fair. He was also just in BBC drama Bert & Dickie about the 1948 Olympic rowers Bert Bushnell and Dickie Burnell. Mendes’ Neal Street Productions and Kevin McCormick (Gangster Squad, Rent-A-Ghost) are also producing Charlie.

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Hot Teaser Trailer: ‘Skyfall’

By | Monday May 21, 2012 @ 1:06am PDT

Sony and MGM have released the first theatrical teaser trailer for the new James Bond movie Skyfall. Directed by Sam Mendes, it has Daniel Craig in his third turn as 007, Javier Bardem as the villain plus Judi Dench as M — who it turns out has or seems to have something to hide — Albert Finney and new Bond femme fatale Berenice Marlohe. Opens November 9th in the U.S.

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‘Skyfall’: Sam Mendes’ 1st Videoblog From Set Of 23rd James Bond Film

By | Wednesday February 22, 2012 @ 12:50am PST

While not quite as revelatory as, say, Peter Jackson’s 10-minute+ digital missives from Hobbiton, Sam Mendes here presents a 90-second videoblog from the set of Skyfall. The new 007 director waxes on his own Bond nostalgia and there are even a few glimpses of filming (Daniel Craig stalking in a glass building, a baggage claim carousel, the streets of London…). Interestingly, the British veteran Mendes notes this is the first picture he’s ever shot in England. Video below:

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James Bond ‘Skyfall’ Adds Helen McCrory, Ola Rapace To Cast As Cameras Roll

As filming got underway Monday for Skyfall, the names of two additional actors but not their characters’ identities were posted on the movie’s Twitter account @007: Helen McCrory (Hugo, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 & 2) and Ola Rapace, former husband of Noomi Rapace, apparently in his first English-language role. Last week’s reveal of the official title of Bond 23 was the most recent big news for the project, along with director Sam Mendes promising there would be plenty of action as well as “emotional context.” In addition to McCrory, Rapace and of course Daniel Craig, the rest of Skyfall‘s previously reported cast includes Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Judi Dench, Ben Whishaw and Albert Finney.

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AFM: IM Global Makes ‘Blood’ Pact With BBC Films

By | Thursday November 3, 2011 @ 12:40pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Los Angeles, Nov. 3: Leading independent financing, production and sales company IM Global is co-financing, with BBC Films (who developed the film), dramatic thriller BLOOD. The film will be produced by Neal Street Productions, the company of Oscar winning director Sam Mendes and Pippa Harris (Revolutionary Road, Jarhead) and Nicola Shindler’s Red Productions (Bedlam, Queer as Folk), it was announced today by IM Global founder and CEO Stuart Ford.

Nick Murphy (The Awakening) will direct the project from a script by Bill Gallagher, based on his original, award winning TV series, Conviction. It will star Paul Bettany (Legion, The Da Vinci Code), Brian Cox (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Red, The Bourne Supremacy) and Stephen Graham (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, This is England).

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‘Skyfall’ Confirmed As Title Of New Bond Movie; Budget Around $230M; Sam Mendes Says He’s Open To Follow-up

Shooting on the latest James Bond movie starts Monday, Daniel Craig revealed at this morning’s press conference for Skyfall, the 23rd 007 movie. Producer Michael G Wilson scotched UK tabloid rumors that the budget for the latest Bond film has been slashed by $100 million. “We’re in the same budget range as the last film. We haven’t had to change anything in the script. In fact, we keep adding things — everything is going to be just as it was,” he said. Director Sam Mendes also denied he was making a downbeat Bond with fewer action sequences. He would be directing action sequences himself. “There will be plenty of surprises,” Mendes promised. “The action needs to be balanced with the drama.” Mendes said he was open to directing another Bond installment, “if I still feel that it’s as much fun in six months’ time, then the answer is yes.” Read More »

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