It’s been a long time coming, but the Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off tomorrow, has now officially outlined its closing-night festivities. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Spaghetti Western in 1964, the festival will screen a newly restored 4K version of Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars. Leone acolyte and Cannes festival favorite Quentin Tarantino will host the event which is set to take place on Saturday, May 24 after the main prize ceremony. The restoration of the classic film which introduced Clint Eastwood as the Man with No Name was undertaken by the Cineteca di Bologna and the movie’s original producer and distributor, Unidis Jolly Film, with the involvement of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation.
Cannes Classics: Sophia Loren Guest Of Honor; Leone, De Sica, Hitchcock, Capra Films Among Restorations To Screen
The Cannes Film Festival is firming up plans for the 67th edition at a rapid clip this week, announcing jury members on Monday, followed by new Official Selection titles this morning and now the Cannes Classics sidebar lineup. Sophia Loren has been named the Cannes Classics guest of honor this year. Winner of the 1961 Best Actress prize in Cannes for Two Women, and president of the jury in 1966, Loren will give a Masterclass and attend the screening of her son Edoardo Ponti’s La Voce Umana in which she features. Also screening the same evening is Vittorio De Sica’s Marriage Italian Style. The decade-old Classics section is a showcase for restored and rediscovered versions of films that make up international cinema’s heritage. Screenings of each title are accompanied by the team responsible and, when possible, the original work’s director. There are 22 features and two documentaries which will screen in DCP 2K or DCP 4K. For the first time no 35mm print will be shown in the section, which Cannes notes comes with “regret for some or with celebration for others.” Following is the list of the films that make up Cannes Classics:
The Italian scribe who had a long-running collaboration with Dino De Laurentiis and co-wrote two classic Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns died Sunday of cancer in Rome at 87. Luciano Vincenzoni is best known stateside for providing quotable lines for the Man With No Name, played by Clint Eastwood in Leone’s mid-’60s films The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and For A Few Dollars More. But Vincenzoni also wrote dozens of other films including such notable Italian pics as Seduced And Abandoned (1964), The Birds, The Bees And The Italians (1966) and De Laurentiis’ The Great War (1960). His more recent credits include Malena (2000) and the Arnold Schwarzenegger actioner Raw Deal (1986).
EXCLUSIVE: Kevin Costner has dropped out of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, an exit I’m told is due to a combination of scheduling and personal reasons. Costner had agreed to play the supporting role of Ace Woody in the Sergio Leone-style Spaghetti Western. The problem was it would have tied up about two months of his schedule even though he’s not in that many scenes. Costner is playing Pa Kent in the Superman reboot Man of Steel, and doing the miniseries The Hatfields and McCoys for History (which he’s also producing) and it was a bit much. It’s too bad, because the role would have been a real departure for an actor who has mostly played good guys. Costner was going to play Woody, a humorless and sadistic trainer of the male fighting slaves who entertain the white patrons of Candyland, a hellhole that also used female slaves as prostitutes. Candyland is the club and ranch owned by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), and Ace Woody is the one who pits the “mandingo” fighters against one another, and who has little qualms about mistreating and even killing the slaves who don’t measure up. Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson star, with Foxx playing the title character, a slave-turned-bounty hunter who must take on those villains to free his slave wife. Tarantino is still testing …
EXCLUSIVE: Talks are about to get underway for Leonardo DiCaprio to play the role of villainous ranch owner Calvin Candie in Django Unchained, the Sergio Leone-style spaghetti Western that Quentin Tarantino wrote and will direct as his next film. DiCaprio is being courted to play a charming but ruthless proprietor of Candyland, a despicable club and plantation in Mississippi where female slaves are exploited as sex objects and males are pitted against each other in “mandingo” style death matches. Candie is a slave’s worst nightmare and the freed slave Django must cross him in order to reclaim his wife.
Now, deal making discussions are just getting underway, but I’m told there is a much higher likelihood of DiCaprio taking part in the film at this point than Will Smith, who had been reported as lead candidate to play the title role of DJango, a slave who is liberated and taught the tricks of the trade by a German dentist-turned-bounty hunter. That role is expected to be played by Christoph Waltz, who won an Oscar playing Hans Landa in Tarantino’s last film, Inglourious Basterds. Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction star Samuel L. Jackson is also expected to play the role of Stephen, Candie’s valet who keeps the slaves in line at Candie’s residence. Tarantino turned in his script in late April to The Weinstein Company’s Harvey Weinstein, and Sony Pictures signed on …
Foreign For Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ Goes To Will Smith’s Home Studio Sony (Though Universal Tried Hard)
EXCLUSIVE: Sources tell me that international on Quentin Tarantino’s new Spaghetti Western Django Unchained is going to Sony to co-finance production later this year and distribute sometime in 2012. This after the filmmakers met with every major studio except Warner Bros. Of course, The Weinstein Company is taking domestic. But the surprise is that Universal International didn’t have the inside track since it co-financed and took overseas on Tarantino’s last film, Inglourious Basterds, in a very successful pairing ($201M international for a global cume of $321M). Actually, Universal really wanted Quentin’s latest and tried to really step up. There was a big meeting this past Friday between Universal International and Quentin where the foreign guys went to extraordinary lengths to pull out all the stops. Employees wore T-shirts emblazoned with the languages of all the managing directors of the territories in town. And a bag of handmade scalps was presented to Tarantino — a reference to the ”100 Nazi scalps” from Inglourious Basterds to remind Quentin how well the studio did for that movie last time around. Instead, Django Unchained went to Sony because of its existing relationship with Will Smith, whom Quentin desperately wants to star in the film. “Having Will involved is the key. That’s what the filmmakers want, and they think the best chance of making it happen is at his home studio,” an insider tells me.
UPDATE: Right now, Will is still pondering his role as a slave in the script, which I just read and would be a very risky …
Back when I saw him in late February at Harvey Weinstein’s Oscar night party for The King’s Speech, Quentin Tarantino told me that his script for a Western was just pouring out of him easily, that he’d finished a draft and expected to turn in a final version within two months. As a web leak of the cover page of his new script Django Unchained attests, Tarantino finished that script two days ago, right on schedule. Here’s what I’ve heard: While Tarantino has spoken about doing a variation of the Western genre he called a “Southern,” I’m told he has actually written a spaghetti Western, that stylized and violent brand of films popularized by Sergio Leone and a few other directors in the 1960s. Tarantino will put his stamp on one of his favorite genres same as he did when he took on the war mission movie with Inglourious Basterds.
The project is moving very quickly. Tarantino is reuniting with Pulp Fiction producer Stacey Sher. Sher will produce with Pilar Savone. Weinstein, who distributed Pulp Fiction, will spearhead domestic distribution on Django Unchained through TWC. Universal International has the inside track to co-finance and handle foreign distribution because of the relationship built on 2009′s Inglourious Basterds, which grossed $200 million overseas and $324 million overall. Despite the early look that Universal International will get, Tarantino’s script is also being pursued …
EXCLUSIVE: Javier Bardem is close to sealing his deal with Universal Pictures to play gunslinger Roland Deschain in The Dark Tower, the mammoth adaptation of the Stephen King 7-novel series that’ll span three movies and a limited run TV series in between each film. Director Ron Howard begins production on the first film in September, and he’ll also direct the first TV segment. Akiva Goldsman has scripted the film and the initial TV component. Imagine Entertainment chief Brian Grazer is producing the films with Goldsman and King. Goldsman will produce the TV part through his Weed Road banner.
Bardem, who won the Oscar for his ferocious portrayal of a hit man in No Country For Old Men and who was more recently nominated for Biutiful, is a strong match to play the last living member of a knightly order of gunslingers. Deadline revealed in late January that Bardem had been offered the role of Deschain, who becomes humanity’s last hope to save civilization as he hits the road to find the Dark Tower. Along the way, he encounters characters, good and bad, in a world that has an old West feel.
Bardem’s WME reps are putting the finishing touches on the deal, and they are close enough that Howard has begun meeting with other actors to cast the roles around Bardem. It’s a complex deal, almost unprecedented, because it calls for Bardem to star in the feature film and the TV component. His deal will also include options for two sequels (the TV program that runs between the second and third films will be a prequel). I’m told it will add up to a career-best payday for Bardem. Howard and Goldsman have told me they see the trilogy as their answer to the Peter Jackson-directed adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. While Middle Earth had a mystical medieval feel, The Dark Tower vibe is one that Goldsman described as “an alternate Americana, one part post-apocalyptic, one part Sergio Leone.”
EXCLUSIVE: After Javier Bardem’s terrifying Oscar-winning turn as the assassin in No Country For Old Men, is there any doubt he’d fit as the gunslinger Roland Deschain in The Dark Tower, the mammoth adaptation of the Stephen King 7-novel series that’ll span three movies and a limited run TV series in between?
I’m told that Bardem has officially been offered the lead role by director Ron Howard and Universal Pictures. While formal negotiations haven’t yet begun, there’s a high level of enthusiasm internally that they’ve got their cowboy. Akiva Goldsman has scripted the first movie, and will write the TV component as well. Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer is producing with Goldsman and the author. Universal is financing and distributing the films, and NBC Universal Television Entertainment is backing the TV component, which will either be a limited run series or a miniseries.
It has been a heady week for Bardem. He received a Best Actor nomination for his performance as a terminally ill street hustler in the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed Biutiful, and Bardem and Penelope Cruz just welcomed their first son into the world. Since Deadline first revealed that King, Goldsman, Howard and Grazer were joining forces on the ambitious project that would tell the story on multiple platforms, speculation has been rampant over who’d play the lead role. Bardem has been mentioned, as has Viggo Mortensen and Christian Bale. Deschain …