EXCLUSIVE: In its latest aggressive pre-buy to line its slate with star-driven pictures, Open Road Films has on the eve of the Cannes Film Festival closed a deal to acquire U.S. rights to The Gunman, the action thriller that stars Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance and Jasmine Trinca. It was directed by Taken helmer Pierre Morel. The film was expected to be one of the hot titles for domestic distribution at the market that starts next week. The deal was made by Open Road CEO Tom Ortenberg and Studiocanal chairman/CEO Olivier Courson. It is a commitment for a big wide release.
Based on the Jean-Patrick Manchette novel The Prone Gunman, the film stars Penn as a former Special Forces soldier and military contractor suffering from PTSD. He tries to reconnect with his longtime love, but first must go on the run from London to Barcelona and across Europe in order to clear his name. Joel Silver, Andrew Rona and Sean Penn are the producers. Adrian Guerra and Peter McAleese are exec producers. It is one of Studiocanal’s biggest productions to date. Read More »
An interesting film project is quickly coming together now with Sean Penn, Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem, which is readying to be shot in Africa. The love story, called The LastFace, will be directed by Penn and is on the verge of getting the go-ahead from River Road and Bill Pohlad, with Bill Gerber and Matt Palmieri also producing. Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is The Warmest Color) is also on board. Theron, who is romantically linked with Penn, will star as a doctor who doing humanitarian relief work in Africa amidst violent political conflicts in the region. She meets another doctor (Bardem) who is doing the same work, and the story revolves around tough moral decisions that must be made during time of civil unrest. Exarchopoulos is expected to play a journalist.
This will be Penn and Pohlad’s fourth collaboration. They previously worked together on Into the Wild, which garnered two Oscar noms. Pohlad also produced Terence Malick’s Oscar-nominated Tree Of Life, which Penn narrated and starred, as well as Fair Game. Of course Pohlad was one of the producers of this year’s Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave. Penn, Theron, Bardem and Pohlad are all Oscar winners. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Looks like the sides have been chosen for the shoot-out film The Gunman, which Taken helmer Pierre Morel will direct for Silver Pictures and Studio Canal. Ray Winstone has just joined the film. He’ll play the mentor of the hitman played by Sean Penn, who is betrayed and then hunted by the organization he worked for. On the opposite side of this twosome are Javier Bardem and Idris Elba, and they run all over Europe in a fatal game of cat and mouse. Jasmine Trinca (Miele) is the female lead. Winstone’s tough guy cred includes The Departed, Sexy Beast, 44 Inch Chest and the upcoming Darren Aronofsky-directed Noah, where he goes mano a mano against Russell Crowe in that Biblical epic. I hope this movie is as good as it sounds here, because I’d follow these four actors anywhere. The Gunman is based on the Jean-Patrick Manchette novel Prone Gunman, scripted by Pete Travis. Joel Silver and Andrew Rona are producing. Resolution reps Winstone.
EXCLUSIVE: Javier Bardem has found a couple of killer roles. He will star as the good guy (for a change) in J.C. Chandor’s next film,A Most Violent Year, which will shoot in Manhattan this fall. Chandor, who made a splash in Cannes unveiling the Robert Redford-starrer survival tale All Is Lost, wrote A Most Violent Year, which Before The Door’s Neal Dodson and Anna Gerb will produce, with FilmNation handling global sales. Bardem is also locking in to go mano a mano with Sean Penn in The Gunman, another project that made waves at Cannes by selling out its foreign territorial allotment. The film is being directed by Pierre Morel and financed by Studio Canal, with Joel Silver and Andrew Rona producing. Bardem excels in these kinds of movies, winning the Oscar for No Country For Old Men, and most recently playing the existentially tortured villain who squared off against 007 in Skyfall. He’s repped by WME and will next be seen in the stellar cast of the Ridley Scott-directed The Counselor, opposite Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz.
Listen to (and share) the latest episode from the Cannes Film Festival of our audio podcast Deadline Festivals & Markets Watch, featuring Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione. She talks with host David Bloom about which distributors and projects are making a splash so far; whether Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut, with considerable Chinese backing, can move beyond China to a worldwide hit; how a film starring Sean Penn managed to sell its international rights even before it has been shot; and the crime wave hitting the Croisette.
EXCLUSIVE: Ahead of its shooting start next month, Sean Penn-starrer The Gunman has virtually sold out for Studiocanal here in Cannes. This is the project from producers Joel Silver and Andrew Rona that Studiocanal is fully financing. Taken helmer Pierre Morel is directing the action film, which previously went by the title Prone Gunman. Silver and Rona are also in business with Studiocanal on the upcoming Jaume Collet-Serra-directed Non-Stop, which Universal is releasing Stateside. Footage from that film was screened for buyers in Cannes, which Studiocanal says helped fuel sales on The Gunman. Morel was also in town to enthuse buyers. The movie sees Penn as an ex-government contract killer whose past comes back to haunt him. Studiocanal closed deals this week in such territories as Scandinavia, Switzerland, China, Russia, Latin America, Benelux, Poland, the Middle East, Greece and Italy, where Rai acquired the pic in what is a rare direct buy for the company. Studiocanal is releasing in France, Germany, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. U.S. studios and indies are circling. I’m told the film is not part of Silver’s deal with Universal. Read More »
Sean Penn has never been one to mince words — and he doesn’t in a recent, wide-ranging interview with Esquire. When he gets around to talking about the current state of the movie biz, it seems he’s not too happy. The complete interview appears in the January issue of Esquire. Here are some excerpts:
I just did this picture that I enjoyed doing. Gangster Squad. But I do think that in general the standard of aspiration is low. Very low. And mostly they’re just doing a bunch of monkey-fuck-rat movies, most actors and actresses. And I blame them just as much as I do the business. I know everybody wants to make some money, everybody’s got a modeling contract, everybody’s selling jewelry and perfume. I’m blinded by it. Bob Dylan said in an interview one time — somebody asked him, Are you really this reclusive? He says, No, I’m not reclusive, man. I’m exclusive. Exclusivity is like intimacy.
The Weinstein Company has debuted the domestic trailer for director Paolo Sorrentino’s This Must Be The Place starring Sean Penn, Frances McDormand and Judd Hirsch. Penn plays a bored ex-rock star who at age 50 lives off his royalties in Dublin until family drama starts him on a quest across America. Release date is November 2nd:
We saw the initial trailer for Gangster Squada couple of months ago, now here’s the second. The cast for the period mob drama about the LAPD’s battle against Mickey Cohen includes Sean Penn (as Cohen), Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Mireille Enos, Anthony Mackie, Nick Nolte, Michael Pena, Giovanni Ribisi and others. Screenplay is by Will Beall, based on Paul Lieberman’s book. A release date for the Warner Bros pic is set for September 7.
Warner Bros has released the initial trailer Ruben Fleischer‘s Gangster Squad. The cast for the period mob drama about the LAPD’s battle against Mickey Cohen includes Sean Penn (as Cohen), Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Mireille Enos, Anthony Mackie, Nick Nolte, Michael Pena, Giovanni Ribisi and others. Screenplay is by Will Beall, based on based on Paul Lieberman’s book. Pic’s release date is currently up in the air, after Warner Bros shifted calendar slots in October 2012.
For the first time this millennium, the Cannes Film Festival is hosting a fund-raising event. The Haiti: Carnival In Cannes benefit will be presented by Giorgio Armani in support of Sean Penn’s J/P HRO, Paul Haggis’ Artists for Peace and Justice and Petra Nemcova’s Happy Hearts Fund and their humanitarian work in Haiti. Penn has been aiding the relief effort in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake devastated the country. Haggis’ group was established in 2009 to help poor children and families via education and health programs. Supermodel Nemcova’s Happy Hearts started its work in Haiti in 2007. A gala celebration will feature a fund-raising dinner on May 18. Money raised will go to all three orgs. Cannes previously hosted a benefit screening of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In America in support of the Institut Pasteur, and a screening of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s Elective Affinities to support the reconstruction of Venice’s Fenice which had been destroyed in a fire. Although the amFAR benefit for Amnesty International is an annual draw for Cannes folk, it’s not actually a festival event.
EXCLUSIVE: Sean Penn is in negotiations to play a small but pivotal supporting role in 20th Century Fox’s remake of The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, the comedy that Ben Stiller is directing, with Stiller playing the title role. Stiller plays the timid magazine photo manager who goes off on an escapade to find a missing negative. Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Shirley MacLaine and Patton Oswalt also star. Penn most recently wrapped The Gangster Squad, playing L.A. gangster Mickey Cohen in the Ruben Fleischer-directed period cop drama at Warner Bros. He’ll next be seen in the Paolo Sorrentino-directed This Must Be The Place and is being courted by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for The Revenant. He’s repped by CAA.
Warner Bros is releasing its period LA crime drama The Gangster Squad on October 12, 2012, a week earlier than its original October 19 date. The Ruben Fleischer directed mob-vs-cops film stars Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin in the story of an elite LAPD unit tasked with keeping Mickey Cohen and other mafia bigwigs out of Los Angeles in the 1940s and ’50s. The new date already houses FilmDistrict’s crime actioner Parker, starring Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez, as well as Sony/Columbia’s Kevin James comedy Here Comes The Boom and Paramount’s comedy Fun Size.
(SANTA MONICA, CA – January 9, 2012) — The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) announced today that renowned actor and humanitarian Sean Penn will be presented with the fifth annual Joel Siegel Award at the 17th annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. The award will be presented by fellow actor and 13-time Critics’ Choice Award nominee George Clooney. The ceremony will air live on VH1 on Thursday, January 12 at 8:00 PM ET/PT. Given annually, this special award pays homage to beloved “Good Morning America” film critic and BFCA member Joel Siegel, who lost his long struggle with cancer in June 2007. It seeks to honor those who understand, as Joel did, that the greatest value of celebrity is as an enhanced platform to do good works for others. Sean Penn founded the J/P Haitian Relief Organization in the immediate aftermath of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010.
This Must Be The Place is one of four movies added today to the lineup at next month’s Sundance Film Festival. Sean Penn plays a retired goth rock star who sets out to find the Nazi war criminal who tormented his father in Auschwitz. The movie, which also screened at Cannes, was directed by Paolo Sorrentino and written by Umberto Contarello and Paolo Sorrentinost. Frances McDormand and Judd Hirsch co-star.
The Sean Penn-starrer This Must Be The Place is among the four films that were added to the Sundance Film Festival slate today. The quartet bring the total number of feature films at the fest, set for January 19-29, to 117. Previous late additions to Sundance include The Kids Are All Right, which premiered there in 2010 and ended up being nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. This Must Be The Place, about a retired rock star who sets out to find the man who persecuted father at Auschwitz, an ex-Nazi war criminal who is a refugee in the U.S., joins the Spotlight sidebar and represents the film’s North American premiere; another late addition to the Spotlight sidebar is Oslo: August 31st. The Premieres lineup has added Philip Dorling and Ron Nyswaner’s Predisposed, a comedy starring Jesse Eisenberg as a piano prodigy who enlists the help of a hapless drug dealer (Tracy Morgan) on the of an important audition. Melissa Leo also stars. Meanwhile, director-screenwriter Don Coscarelli’s John Dies At The End has been added to the Park City at Midnight program. Based on David Wong’s novel, it centers on a drug that allows users to drift across time and dimensions, with horrific results. Paul Giamatti co-stars.
EXCLUSIVE: Longtime Fox 2000 EVP Carla Hacken is leaving the studio to become president of production for New Regency. It is the latest move in a restructuring of the company since Arnon Milchan reemerged as an active chairman and installed former Paramount Pictures production president Brad Weston as CEO with a mandate to become a more filmmaker-driven concern.
New Regency is partly owned by News Corp, whose 20th Century Fox distributes and often co-finances Regency-generated films. The move was orchestrated with the cooperation of Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman and Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler.
“Jim, Tom and Liz have been great partners and are incredibly gracious about Carla,” Weston told me in confirming the move. “They see this as a terrific opportunity for her, and a great way to help support New Regency. Arnon and I couldn’t be more appreciative.”
Hacken was an ICM agent when she was brought into the Fox 2000 fold 15 years ago by Laura Ziskin. She has worked closely with Gabler and developed such films as Unfaithful, The Devil Wears Prada, Walk The Line, Bride Wars, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and its sequel, Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Love & Other Drugs and In Her Shoes.
There has long been a tradition of cross pollination between Fox and New Regency (which is based on the lot). That includes Sanford Panitch (who moved from Fox to Regency and now steers Fox International Productions) … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Now that New Regency closed a deal to fully fund the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed The Revenant, the Biutiful helmer has set his sights on Leonardo DiCaprio and Sean Penn to play the two leads in the screen adaptation of the Michael Punke novel. I’m told they’ve met with Inarritu, but that if this cast materializes it would mean starting next fall. In the Mark L. Smith-scripted drama, DiCaprio is being courted to play 1820s frontiersman Hugh Glass, who hires on to a fur trapping expedition and is so badly mauled by a bear that he’s unable to be transported back from the wilderness. He hires two men to stay behind. Expecting him to die, they rob and abandon him instead, leaving him helpless. When he recovers, he is hellbent on revenge. Inarritu wants Penn to play one of the men who left him for dead. 20th Century Fox will distribute. DiCaprio next stars in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, and Penn is shooting Gangster Squad.
Boardwalk Empire‘s Shea Whigham has joined the cast of David O Russell’s The Silver Linings Playbook alongside Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro. Whigham just wrapped the second season of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and will next be seen in the upcoming Take Shelter and the Sean Penn-starrer This Must Be The Place. He’s repped by CAA and Principal Entertainment.