FX has teamed with Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy and Christian Colson — the Oscar-winning director-writer-producer team behind Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours — for a 10-part miniseries. Written by Beaufoy, Telemark is based on the true story of the British-trained Norwegian resistance fighters who sabotaged Hitler’s nuclear development program during World War II. “This is one of the world’s greatest stories and we want to tell it on an epic scale,” Boyle said. Telemark, produced by Cloud Eight/Decibel Films, marks Boyle, Beaufoy and Colson’s first project for American television. The trio all won Oscars for Slumdog Millionaire — Boyle for directing, Beaufoy for writing, and Colson shared in the best picture win as a producer. Telemark is the second limited series/miniseries to get a green light at FX as part of the cable network’s push in that arena. The first, Fargo, will premiere next spring.
From ‘Slumdog’ To ‘Salmon Fishing’ To ‘Hunger Games’: Oscar-Winning Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy Holds A Hot Hand
When CBS Films paid a reported $5 million for distribution rights to Salmon Fishing In The Yemen after its successful world premiere last September at the Toronto Film Festival, the initial thought according to insiders was to try and release it in time for the 2011 awards season. The move that would have made sense considering the Oscar pedigree of its director — three-time nominee Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules, Chocolat, My Life As A Dog) – and its Oscar winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, whose own three nominations for The Full Monty, Slumdog Millionaire (for which he and the film won) and 127 Hours were also Best Picture nominees. The Academy-friendly nature of Salmon Fishing could have put CBS Films in the race for the first time, or at the very least a contender for Golden Globes in the Comedy or Musical categories. But looking at the crowded landscape, the distributor decided instead to tweak the film a bit (it runs four minutes less than the 111-minute version reviewed out of Toronto) and hold it for this month, starting with a limited engagement tomorrow. That makes it instead an early candidate for the 2012 contest if it does well enough to be remembered — a difficult feat for March releases.
There are reports today that Lionsgate has started moving on Catching Fire, the second installment of The Hunger Games trilogy, with Simon Beaufoy adapting the Suzanne Collins novel, and Gary Ross returning as director of a film set for release November 22, 2013. Deadline readers might recall we told you all this last November, when progress actually began on the sequel…
The Avengers director Joss Whedon probably had his own designs on how to reveal his next film, but Mad Men‘s Abigail Spencer did it for him by telling Vulture she would be in the cast of his next film, that it would start production next month, and that it is a supernatural romance. The cynical part of me wonders if this is the supernatural romance In Your Eyes, which Whedon unveiled last Halloween as the second film (after Much Ado About Nothing) from his new microbudget feature factory Bellwether. Last I heard, Whedon wrote the script but Brin Hill will direct with Whedon’s Bellwether partner Kai Cole producing along with Night & Day Pictures’ Michael Roiff. In Your Eyes is a metaphysical love story about two seemingly polar opposites who are deeply connected in ways neither could have ever imagined.
EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate is getting serious about the second installment of The Hunger Games. The mini-major is courting Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire scribe Simon Beaufoy to write Catching Fire, the second installment of the three book series that tracks the life and death adventures of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). I’m told that Gary Ross, who directed The Hunger Games, is coming back for the sequel. He originally intended to write the outline for the second film and script it with author Suzanne Collins (they teamed to do a lot of writing on the first film), but the post production schedule on The Hunger Games has made that difficult. The film opens March 23. There is no start date on the sequel, but it is high priority. Ross and producers Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik then focused on Beaufoy. Negotiations haven’t begun yet, but Lionsgate is pushing hard for Beaufoy. Aside from Slumdog Millionaire, Beaufoy also scripted 127 Hours, The Full Monty and most recently adapted Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. There is extra heat on the series after Lionsgate released the well received first trailer. Here is that trailer again:
UPDATE 2, 7:03PM: CBS Films has just issued a press release confirming the acquisition:
TORONTO (September 12) – CBS Films announced today that they have acquired the U.S.distribution rights to SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN which made its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival this week. The announcement was made jointly today by CBS Films’ COO Wolfgang Hammer and EV Pof Acquisitions Scott Shooman.
Directed by Oscar©-nominee Lasse Hallström (Chocolat), SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is an extraordinary, beguiling tale of fly-fishing and politicalspinning, of unexpected heroism and late-blooming love and of an attempt toprove the impossible, possible. Ewan McGregor (Beginners) and Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau) star in the feature film alongside Oscar©-nominee Kristen ScottThomas (I’ve Loved You So Long).
Based on Paul Torday’s acclaimed novel, SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is written by Oscar©-winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and produced by Paul Webster (The Motorcycle Diaries) and executive produced by Jamie Laurenson, Stephen Garrett, Paula Jalfon, Zygi Kamasa and Guy Avshalom.
“I am so happy to have the support of the team at CBS Films for the distribution of our labor of love, ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. ’I had the best of times working on it with producer Paul Webster, writer Simon Beaufoy and the cast, Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, Amr Waked and Kristin Scott Thomas,” said Hallström.
“Lasse Hallström has done it again with this beautiful, heartwarming, and elegant picture. The performances are amazing from top to bottom,” commented Shooman who continued, “We are honored to have the opportunity to bring this extraordinary film to American audiences.”
UTA Independent Film Group set up the film’s financing and brokered the dealwith CBS Films.
UPDATE, 6:11PM: The deal has closed, and CBS Films has acquired U.S. rights to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Sources close to the buyer say it’s the $4 million that the sellers asked for, while sources close to the seller say it’s $5 million. Summit got the deal to that level. What’s clear is this is a healthy deal.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 12:26 PM: CBS Films is in advanced negotiations to reel in U.S. distribution rights to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, the Lasse Hallstrom-directed film that premiered last night at the Princess of Wales Theater. Fox Searchlight, Summit, Focus and Miramax have been circling, but CBS appears to be tying down the property for a low-seven-figure deal. Adapted by Simon Beaufoy from the Paul Torday novel, the film stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked, the latter playing a wealthy sheik who pays a fisheries scientist to stock a stream with trout. The sheik believes that fishing brings him closer to God, an experience he wants to share with his countrymen, despite the dangerous fact that some local leaders oppose it; there is a burgeoning love story between his British legal rep (Blunt) and the stuffy fisheries scientist (McGregor) who is locked in a dull marriage.
Just as it did last year, the 2011 Toronto Film Festival has gotten off to a slow start on the acquisitions front. I spoke with many buyers after last night’s onslaught of acquisition title premieres, and the common feeling was these distributors need to fill slots in their schedules and they want to fall in love, but haven’t quite gotten there yet with most of these films. They had some reservations on just about all of the films they saw. These films will clearly find distribution homes, but the reaction means that deals will drag out because those distributors aren’t going to be posting large minimum guarantees, the way they did in Cannes.
Even the big sale of the festival so far, the Steve McQueen-directed NC-17 sex drama Shame, wasn’t a huge commitment for all the press hoopla that followed Deadline’s reveal that the film had sold to Fox Searchlight. I am hearing the deal was a mid-six figure minimum guarantee around $400,000, and a P&A commitment around $1.5 million. That sounds about right, because the filmmakers were most concerned with entering this year’s Oscar race to capitalize on the performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, and ensuring that not a frame of the picture was changed. But it doesn’t sound like a wide release picture.
As for the wide release titles, they are going to sell, but it will be a struggle for sellers to get the dollars they want. I saw one of those titles that sit atop buyer lists last night. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was scripted by Simon Beaufoy, directed by Lasse Hallstrom and stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked, the latter playing a wealthy sheik who pays a fisheries scientist to stock a stream with trout. The film is sophisticated, funny, timely and utterly charming, and I would be surprised if it isn’t snapped up by Monday or sooner. That film got the best reaction from the buyers I spoke with. The pace of auctioning has been complicated by the volume of premieres last night, including Rampart, Take This Waltz, The Oranges, the hockey comedy Goon and the Morgan Spurlock-directed documentary Comic-Con: A Fan’s Hope. Buyers had to make choices, and some were seeing films like Salmon this morning. I expect a flurry of deals toward the end of the festival, which is how it played out last year.
Since there’s little going on so far, you have time to notice things. Here are a few things I’ve noticed: