EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Classics just completed a U.S. rights deal for Salt of the Earth, re-teaming them with Le Pacte, with whom SPC last partnered on The Patience Stone. The film played in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival, where it earned the Un Certain Regard Special Jury Honor. It is directed by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.
Said partners Michael Barker and Tom Bernard: “Sony Pictures Classics is overjoyed to be back in business with the master, Wim Wenders, and to discover the work of Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.” Said Salgado: “Sony Pictures Classics has the legacy of releasing some of the most compelling films of our times. I’m very excited for “The Salt of the Earth” it couldn’t have found a better home in the US.”
“I’m very happy that my long-lasting relation with Sony Pictures Classics can continue now with The Salt of the Earth,” adds Co-Director Wim Wenders.
SPC quietly had an unbelievably prolific festival and has lined its 2014 slate with quality fare. They came to Cannes with the Sundance smash Whiplash, the Bennett Miller-helmed Foxcatcher (which so far seems like the Oscar film to beat), the Mike Leigh-directed Mr. Turner, the Zhang Yimou-directed Coming Home, and the well liked hockey documentary Red Army. While at the festival, SPC acquired Wild Tales, Jimmy’s Hall, Saint Laurent and Leviathan.
As Cannes concludes, Sony Pictures Classics keeps buying specialty product. The latest is a small deal for North American rights to the Andrey Zvyagintsev-directed Russian pic Leviathan, which played to strong reaction. SPC came in with five films, and bought two more in Cannes.
Deadline Hollywood has been breaking news at the Cannes Film Festival for quite some time. But this year, we decided to close our laptops and turn off our phones (just for a little bit) and hold what is the first of many big splashes on the Croisette. Deadline Hollywood’s Cocktails on the Croisette — sponsored by American Express, The Consulate General of France in Los Angeles and the Film Fraternity — drew a plethora of studio executives, filmmakers and celebrities Friday afternoon at the 67th annual fest. Hosts Co-Editor-In-Chief Mike Fleming Jr., Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and International Editor Nancy Tartaglione were on hand at the exclusive La Gold Plage to raise a glass of champagne to executives from Sony Pictures Classics, Lionsgate, Cinedigm, Blumhouse Productions, Picturehouse, IM Global, Film4, Paradigm and Resolution Agency, among others. Click on a photo to launch the slideshow: Read More »
Now that opening night is behind us and all the unnecessary vitriolic venom from some critics toward the Cannes Film Festival‘s choice for opener, Grace Of Monaco, the main official competition got underway tonight. The first film eligible for awards to screen was Mr. Turner from Mike Leigh, who has been in the hunt on the Croisette four times before and won the coveted Palme d’Or in 1996 for his masterpiece, Secrets & Lies.
Related: Cannes: Matthew McConaughey Hits Croisette To Talk First Movie Since Oscar Win – “This One Scares Me”
After seeing his latest, an uncharacteristic period piece, screen to an enthusiastic black-tie crowd at the Grand Lumiere Theatre at the Palais, I would venture to say he has just unleashed yet another masterpiece in Cannes. And given what you hope to see here at the festival, I would bet right now this one will be a major Oscar contender in several categories after it is released stateside December 19 by Sony Pictures Classics. It’s that good in terms of costume and production design, makeup, music, writing, directing and particularly acting. If there aren’t nominations for star Timothy Spall and supporting actress Marion Bailey, then something is terribly wrong with the Academy. Acting just doesn’t get better than this. Spall is simply extraordinary as 18th century English painter J.M.W. Turner in a performance that has got it all and drew early raves from critics and big applause from tonight’s audience. Yet Spall himself is modest about the whole thing and doesn’t seem to know what he has accomplished, at least according to what he told me at the film’s private dinner party at the Film Four (which financed) headquarters in Cannes. “I am so inside the movie, I don’t have any objectivity about it,” he said. “Yes, it’s fantastic every time I’ve seen it, but I don’t understand it all.” He added about the total transformation he makes in this film, I look at it and say, ‘Who’s that?’” No doubt we will be encountering him on the awards circuit many times during the next nine months. This is just the beginning. It’s a long road, but I can’t imagine Spall won’t be on it the whole time. Read More »
In its first pick-up of the just underway Cannes Film Festival, Sony Pictures Classics has taken North American rights to Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent. The film is running in Competition here and is a biopic of the fashion designer set during the period 1965 to 1976. EuropaCorp and Mandarin Cinema are producers. Gaspard Ulliel stars as Saint Laurent and Jérémie Renier as his lifelong partner Pierre Bergé. Blue Is The Warmest Color‘s Léa Seydoux plays muse Loulou de la Falaise. Deadline’s sister publication Variety was first with the break. Saint Laurent‘s official screening is on Saturday. It is one of two such movies about the icon that hail from France this year — The Weinstein Co has the other, Yves Saint Laurent.
Before Soviet hockey stars were allowed to show their skills in the NHL, many played at home for the Red Army — and were nearly unbeatable. Sony Pictures Classics has grabbed North American, Asian and Eastern European rights to Gabe Polsky’s new documentary Red Army, about one of the most dominant teams in sports history. (Watch the trailer below.) It focuses on the story of defenseman Slava Fetisov, who starred for the Red Army during the Cold War years before becoming one of the first group of players to leave the USSR to join the National Hockey League — where he starred en route to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The pic looks at his struggle to be allowed to play in North America and his transformation from national hero to political enemy in the late 1980s. “We can’t wait to present this film to audiences everywhere,” SPC Co-Presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard said in announcing the acquisition. “This is Russian history as seen from the perspective of professional ice hockey.” Red Army was executive produced by Jerry Weintraub, Werner Herzog and Liam Satre-Meloy. It will play in the Special Screening section at Cannes next month. Here’s a look:
The long road of Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher to the big screen finally has a finish line. Sony Pictures Classics has set a November 14 release date for the pic starring Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, which last week landed a competition berth at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s a prime awards-season spot for the drama, which tells the true story of Olympic wrestling champion brothers Mark Schultz (Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) and their relationship with the eccentric John du Pont (Carell), heir to the DuPont Chemical fortune, that led to murder. Right now it will share the November 14 date with Universal’s Dumb And Dumber To, Sony/Columbia’s Brad Pitt war drama Fury and Relativity’s Blackbird.
Foxcatcher was being primed for a big AFI Fest bow and an Oscar-season splash last fall before pulling out at the last minute. SPC said the move was so filmmakers “can have more time to finish the film.” It had been set for a December 2013 release. AFI Fest later set August: Osage County for the gala premiere spot. Read More »
Land Ho! the bawdy road trip comedy from Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz will be released on July 11 in New York and Los Angeles Sony Pictures Classics announced today. The film made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January where it was acquired by SPC and will make two more festival stops before its U.S. bow: at Tribeca this month and Los Angeles Film Festival in June. Land Ho! tells the tale of two retirees who vie to relive their youthful days in Reykjavik, Iceland’s spa and nightclub scene. Read More »
This marks the 12th film from Chinese director Zhang Yimou to be distributed in the U.S. by Sony Pictures Classics. The negotiations were one of the worst-kept secrets at the Berlin Film Festival. The studio made it official today, a day after Zhang signed on to helm Universal’s adaptation of the Robert Ludlum novel The Parsifal Mosaic. Here’s the release:
NEW YORK (February 18, 2014) – Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they have acquired all rights in North America, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand to Zhang Yimou’s COMING HOME starring Gong Li. The film, currently in post-production, is produced by Bill Kong and LeVision Pictures’ Zhang Zhao. Lava Bear Films’ David Linde executive produced.
Inspired by Yan Geling’s “THE CRIMINAL LU YANSHI with a screenplay written by Jingshi Zou, COMING HOME is a romance drama chronicling the journey of a Chinese dissident (Chen Daoming) from the 1920′s to the 1990′s.
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Frank Pavich’s Jodorowsky’s Dune debuted in the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar in Cannes last year before being acquired by Sony Pictures Classics and playing the fall fest circuit. A trailer has dropped for the documentary about veteran Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s ill-fated attempt to bring Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel, Dune, to the screen. In the mid-1970s, Jodorowsky (El Topo, Holy Mountain, Santa Sangre) came up with an ambitious take on the tome and spent two years in pre-production. The film was to star Jodorowsky’s own 12-year-old son Brontis alongside Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine and Salvador Dali, set to a musical score by Pink Floyd with art design by H.R. Giger and Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud. But the project ultimately went unrealized and the rights lapsed. David Lynch made his own version of Dune in 1984 with Kyle MacLachlan, Sting and Sean Young. Here’s a look at what might have been:
UPDATE, THURSDAY AM: As the Berlin Film Festival kicks off today, Sony Pictures Classics has confirmed its acquisition of all U.S. and Latin American rights to competition title, Aloft. This is Milk Of Sorrow helmer Claudia Llosa’s first English-language film. It screens next Wednesday. The deal was negotiated by executive producer Mark Johnson, Dreamcatchers’ Marina Fuentes and SPC.
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY PM, EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Classics is closing on a deal to release Aloft, the film that premieres in competition at the Berlin Film Festival. The picture is directed by Claudia Llosa, whose last film The Milk Of Sorrow won the Golden Bear Prize at Berlin. The picture stars Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy and Melanie Laurent.
Told in two different periods, the film stars Connelly as a struggling mother of two young sons who becomes a renowned artist and healer. Years later, a journalist (Laurent) tracks down the son she abandoned, and sets up a meeting between them. Murphy plays the son as an adult. The film is produced by Iban Cormenzana, Mark Johnson, Phyllis Laing, Jose Maria Morales, and Jerome Vidal. Here’s a clip:
“There are so many people doing such great work out there,” said The Invisible Woman costume designer Michael O’Connor, who is Oscar-nominated for Best Achievement in Costume Design. O’Connor — who worked on the period drama about the life of Charles Dickens — was one of the most gracious people I’ve ever interviewed, handing out credit to his staff, his director Ralph Fiennes and even to his peers on other films. “If you look at a film like Nebraska, those clothes say everything about those people,” O’Connor said. “It’s good, intelligent work.” His appreciation and passion for the work is evident in every detail of the clothing he speaks of. He’s also fascinated with the historical research that comes into play prior to the actual designs and selection of fabrics. “The looking into it is the fun part,” he said. “There are subtleties that change throughout the years, and I love monitoring and watching that stuff. You know, the men started wearing suits at this time in the 1850s. The women’s bonnets changed shape as the shape of the dresses changed. The bonnets became shorter, more rounded and less of the face is hidden. They were made with a clever craft that no one makes these days anymore. The corners, the pockets for the watches, the overall attention to detail was there always.”
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He said some of his inspiration came from the French neo-classical painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, whose work is displayed in the Louvre. He and Fiennes — who portrayed Dickens with a contagious enthusiasm — spent a lot of time thinking about what a particular character would weare. Felicity Jones, for instance, played Dickens’ very young and demur mistress. “We had discussions like, ‘Would her character really wear this kind of dress?’ Even little, tiny rickrack mossy, mustard-colored braids on Felicity’s dress, we discussed because we wanted to make sure the costume wasn’t speaking beyond the character. You didn’t want her to gleam out even though she was the lead actress, because the camera is going to find her anyway, so (in a scene with her family) you put her sisters around her in pink.” His greatest find was an original, mint condition waist coat from the period with green vine leaves and grapes on it against black that Fiennes wore in one scene. O’Connor said his director embraced the period completely because he wanted it to be a truthful film. “When the actors are wearing these clothes, it makes them feel different,” he said. Which is the same kind of thinking behind the costuming of one of the greatest films of all time, Gone with the Wind.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘The Invisible Woman’
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Sony Pictures Classics confirmed that it has acquired distrib rights to Infinitely Polar Bear, starring Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana, the film that marks the directorial debut of Maya Forbes (who also scripted the autobiographical story). The film, set in the 1970s, follows an eccentric father who tries to win back his wife by taking responsibility for their two young, hard-to-handle daughters. Sony will distribute the picture in North America, Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Russia. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Read More »
UPDATE, 2:58 PM: Sony Pictures Classics has confirmed Deadline’s report from yesterday, acquiring Ira Sachs’ Sundance pic Love Is Strange for North America, Germany and Scandinavia. Read the release below after the original story.
PREVIOUS, THURSDAY AM: Sony Pictures Classics is acquiring Love Is Strange, the film scripted and directed by Ira Sachs that stars Alfred Molina, John Lithgow, Marisa Tomei, Cheyenne Jackson, Darren Burrows and Charlie Tahan. The timely film is about two longtime gay lovers who finally get married. One of them then gets fired and is unable to pay the rent. The couple must move in, separately, with a nephew and his family in Brooklyn and the two gay cops next door. The film got a strong response when it premiered last Saturday at the Eccles Theater. The deal is being made by WME Global. The film also got a French distribution deal with Pretty Pictures right after its premiere. SPC previously acquired the opening-night film Whiplash, and then the comedy Land Ho!
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Ritesh Batra’s debut feature The Lunchbox recently screened in the Spotlight section of Sundance. It earlier played Toronto, Telluride and the AFI Fest. But the film first came to international attention when it charmed Cannes Critics’ Week audiences. That’s when Sony Pictures Classics acquired it for North America. In September, the film became the focus of some controversy when India did not select it as the Foreign Language Oscar entry. Many felt it had real chance at a nomination, or at least a shortlist slot, but India instead went with Gyan Correa’s The Good Road (it did not make it past the first stage). Sony Classics will release The Lunchbox in the U.S. on February 28. The film follows widower Saajan who is delivered the wrong lunchbox by the local dabbawalas. The meal has been prepared by Ila, a woman whose marriage is in crisis. When she learns of the error, she sends a note to Saajan in the lunchbox, kicking off their epistolary romance. Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur star. Check out the trailer:
Sony Pictures Classics has released a new action-packed trailer for Gareth Evans‘ martial arts sequel The Raid 2 ahead of its Sundance bow tonight. This is a hot ticket in Park City where the first Raid film screened after making a splashy debut at Toronto in 2011. Iko Uwais reprises his role as Rama, the Jakarta cop who battled his way through a tenement filled with criminals in the first pic only to go undercover in the sequel to uncover the corrupt baddies at the top of the food chain. Arifin Putra, Tio Pakusadewo, Oka Antara, and Julie Estelle join the fray in The Raid 2 which also sees the return of Raid actor/stunt choreographer Yayan Ruhian. SPC releases The Raid 2 on March 28 but they’re not the only studio banking on the Raid team. Yesterday at Sundance RADiUS-TWC pre-bought North American rights to Evans’ next project, The Night Takes Us, to be directed by Timo Tjahjanto (Killers) and produced by Evans with original Raid cast members starring. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The first major deal at the Sundance Film Festival is nearly done, with Sony Pictures Classics close to closing a deal for Whiplash that is in the vicinity of $2.5 million for North America, Germany and Australia. This was the festival’s opening night film. It stars Miles Teller as a school drummer with potential who strives for perfection under the tutelage of a ruthless band conductor, played by J.K. Simmons. Writer/director Damien Chazelle originated Whiplash as a prize winning short at last year’s Sundance and came back with a feature length film this time. Austin Stowell also starred.
Related: Sundance: SPWA Nabs International Rights To ‘Whiplash’
The film played through the roof, and got stellar reviews after its Thursday night bow. Yesterday, the festival was buzzing about the film, and word around was that distributors including Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate and A24 were kicking the tires. But it was SPC partners Michael Barker and Tom Bernard that swooped in to close the deal. The auction has been going on from Friday night through early Saturday. A humorous break in the action came when a Farmers Insurance commercial came on (the TV was playing in the background) featuring the insurance company’s spokesman — Simmons. Will provide more details when I get them. Most of the film’s foreign rights sold to Sony, so there is symmetry to this deal. WME Global repped the film. Read More »