Woody Allen‘s movie titles certainly have that … Woody Allen vibe. His latest pic starring Emma Stone and Colin Firth and set in the South of France will be called Magic In The Moonlight, which evokes a certain …
India Oscar Controversy: Film Body Demands Apology From ‘Lunchbox’ Helmer As Questions Linger Over ‘Good Road’ Pick
Ever since it debuted in Cannes and was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics, Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox was largely considered the favorite to be submitted by India as the Foreign Language Oscar entry. But last week, the selection committee chose Gyan Correa’s The Good Road. In the intervening days, The Lunchbox filmmakers, local and international press and other pundits have decried the choice. The committee in turn demanded an apology from Lunchbox helmer Batra for “unsavoury comments” that crossed a boundary, it said in a long letter. Batra produced his mea culpas today, but also urged a rethink of the way films are chosen. Batra wrote, “I sincerely hope that the annual reactions to our Academy selections from the national press, and this year from even the international press, prompt a new policy for the selection. Sir, please use your good offices to give us a transparent, objective process with a public and not a secret jury. It is a direct and humble request, not a criticism.”
Egypt Submits ‘Winter Of Discontent’ To Foreign Language Oscar Race; Iran Picks ‘The Past’ Amid Criticism
UPDATED: Egypt’s Winter Of Discontent has been selected by the Filmmakers Syndicate to compete for this year’s Foreign Language Oscar. Ibrahim El-Batout’s film screened in the Venice Horizons section in 2012 as well as at the …
Scratch off another potential Oscar contender. Sony Pictures Classics has announced the planned December release of the Bennett Miller-directed drama Foxcatcher has been moved out of this year’s awards race and into 2014 so filmmakers “can have more time to finish the film”. The announcement is a bit startling since AFI Fest, a prime showcase for major Oscar contenders, recently had announced it for a major world premiere berth on November 8. Obviously that will have to be replaced.
The film becomes the latest casualty this week in what is turning out to be a very competitive awards season. Earlier this week The Weinstein Company announced their expected contender Grace Of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman was being moved from November (after previously being scheduled for December) and on to its spring 2014 slate, effectively removing Kidman’s portrayal of Grace Kelly from the Best Actress race.
iThe Toronto Film Festival got underway last night with the Gala premiere of the Bill Condon-directed DreamWorks Julian Assange film The Fifth Estate. Today, the acquisitions market should get going with the first screening of the Jason Bateman-directed comedy Bad Words and Saturday’s premiere of Once helmer John Carney’s Can A Song Save Your Life?
Toronto has long served a dual role as a global platform to launch prestige films into the Oscar race, as well as a place where distributors can bolster slates with acquisitions of finished films that need someone to release them. The odd thing about this year’s marketplace: the biggest challenge facing sellers is to get the major buyers to focus, because they are so preoccupied with the films they are launching in the Oscar race from Toronto that dealmaking is a distant second on the priority level. Whether it’s The Weinstein Company, Sony Pictures Classics, Fox Searchlight, CBS Films or Focus Features, everybody has a viable Oscar horse. Frankly, there is less early chit-chat about deal prospects than there is about how the end-of-year releases of Oscar corridor films will be as crowded and brutally competitive as the summer season that just passed. There are way more films platforming and playing through the winter than was the cast last year. Just as some worthy summer blockbusters underperformed because of the onslaught, upcoming prestige films will be under extreme pressure to perform.
Here, the major distributors that have the funds to create bidding battles have tons of product at Toronto. SPC’s Michael Barker and Tom Bernard have nine movies playing, and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein has six. The challenge facing sellers will be to get those buyers to wrap their arms around new product that will fill slate holes in 2014. Everybody is loaded for bear for the fall and early winter. This won’t be a replay of the times past, when films like Shame, The Wrestler and Rabbit Hole were acquired and launched from festivals right into Oscar season.
The nascent awards season finally got a big shot of adrenaline this past weekend with the record-breaking limited debut of Woody Allen‘s latest, Blue Jasmine and the strong expansions of The Weinstein Company’s Fruitvale Station and Fox Searchlight’s The Way, Way Back. It’s beginning to look like Fall in July as it is clear the appetite for some serious Oscar fare is heating up. After a steady dose this summer of monsters, zombies, superheroes, guns, garbage and Adam Sandler, things are looking up and names like Fruitvale’s Ryan Coogler, Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer and Way, Way Back’s Sam Rockwell and writer/directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash might have reason to celebrate if they can keep the heat of their mid-summer splash going throughout the next few months.
But no one has started 2013 Oscar talk quite like Cate Blanchett‘s unanimously acclaimed performance in Blue Jasmine. The film’s huge weekend opening in six theaters in LA and NY has now only fueled the buzz with the Sony Pictures Classics release grabbing the best per screen average of the year and for any Allen film, even eclipsing his Oscar juggernaut of two years ago, Midnight In Paris to soar over $100,000 per screen. Oscar voters also got to see the film this weekend and turned out in droves to the Academy in Beverly Hills on Saturday afternoon with a near-capacity crowd that, according to my spies, gave the film a strong reception. “Lots of good chatter on the way out. The woman next to me said, ‘well there’s an Oscar nomination for sure’,” said one who was there. SAG Nominating Committee voters also sparked to the film and Blanchett at a packed special screening at Harmony Gold Thursday night where Blanchett, appearing for a Q&A with co-stars Andrew Dice Clay and Peter Sarsgaard, received a standing ovation. The film has a strong 85% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes just to put a cherry on top for SPC.
It’s probably always risky to make a bold prediction about anything Oscar-related in the middle of summer but Blanchett seems a cinch for a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role as a New York socialite in the midst of an emotional freefall after losing everything in a Madoff-like financial scandal perpetrated by her husband. It’s the kind of complex stuff awards are made of. In fact if the film, a more serious outing for Allen, can maintain the pace it’s setting Allen himself along with co-stars Sally Hawkins and Bobby Cannavale could be contenders.
I talked to SPC’s Michael Barker the other night about the strategy of going out in summer and he said audiences, particularly adult audiences, are ready at this point. He’s absolutely right as the turnout in theaters and the Academy proves. Also being a fresh quality picture before the glut of Fall releases all start cannibalizing each other for Oscar attention seems like a very smart move - if you have the goods.
NEW YORK (July 29, 2013) – Sony Pictures Classics announced today they have acquired worldwide rights to the documentary TIM’S VERMEER, directed by Teller of PENN & TELLER fame. Produced by Teller’s stage partner Penn Jillette and Farley Ziegler, the film follows Tim Jenison, a Texas based inventor, as he attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all of art: How did 17th century Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer (“Girl with a Pearl Earring”) manage to paint so photo-realistically,150 years before the invention of photography? Jenison’s epic research project ultimately succeeds as he uses 17th century technology — lenses and mirrors — to develop a technique that might have been used by Vermeer, supporting a theory as extraordinary as what he discovers.
Oscar winner Alex Gibney followed Lance Armstrong for four years chronicling his return to cycling after retirement as he tried to win his eighth Tour de France. Unexpectedly, the documentary filmmaker was also there last year when Armstrong admitted …
Keri Russell strays just a weensy bit from her badass Soviet spy character in FX’s The Americans for her latest film role. In the Sundance rom-com Austenland, she plays Jane, a single gal with a borderline-unhealthy Jane Austen obsession who’s looking for her very own Mr. Darcy. She books …
The Los Angeles Film Festival kicked off Thursday night with the North American premiere of Pedro Almodovar’s raunchy screwball comedy I’m So Excited! at LA Live’s Regal Cinemas. And if the jaded opening-night LA crowd did not demonstrably respond (there was just small polite applause at the end) with the enthusiasm past Almodovar films have enjoyed from Cannes to New York, it did send off the 11-day fest on a fun note. In no small part that owes to the fact that the pic is about sex and Almodovar himself explained the film’s title as “like being very horny”. Sony Pictures Classics is releasing the film and was pleased to grab the prestigious opening slot of the Film Independent signature film fest. And of course LA Film Fest was thrilled to get Almodovar.
SPC co-president Michael Barker told me afterwards that this is the first of Almodovar’s films to premiere in North America outside of New York. “The time was right for this one and Pedro was totally on board with coming here with it as well”, he said. In fact an ebullient Almodovar told me he was extremely impressed with the Regal’s massive screen and bright projection even though Sony took him to dinner during the movie. “I actually wanted to stay and watch. I grew up seeing movies in big theatres like this. I love the experience.” According to the two-time Oscar-winning director (All About My Mother, Talk To Her) his latest is the #1 box office attraction this first half of the year in his native Spain. And, as he tells it, that was no easy trick due to the failing economy which has seen double-digit declines and caused a steep downturn in moviegoing. Almodovar suggested people prefer to watch downloads on the Internet rather than pay the money for a moviegoing experience and that saddens him, although he’s glad his film is surviving in Spanish multiplexes despite the hardships. For him this pic was a bit of a lark after the more serious The Skin I Live In, which played in competition in Cannes in 2011. I’m So Excited! is about a jetliner en route to Mexico which encounters technical problems and then all hell ensues — a freewheeling farce that at least one Oscar voter told me later left him with tears running down his face due to laughter. Others were not as enthusiastic. It doesn’t matter. This likely won’t be an awards contender — comedies rarely are — but it returns Almodovar to his initial wild style of humor and that’s always welcome.
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
UPDATE 2:00 PM: Sony Pictures Classics‘ Before Midnight has struck box office gold Memorial Day weekend. The start of the summer 2013 blockbuster season will be for Fast & Furious 6 to celebrate, but Midnight clearly resonated with audiences searching for an alternative. The film, directed by Richard Linklater, opened in 5 theaters grossing $321,914 and averaging $64,383. In 2004, Warner Independent debuted Before Sunset in 20 theaters, averaging $10,971. That film went on to gross $5.82 million domestically. “We think the reputation of this film stands on its own whether you’ve seen those or not,” said SPC co-president Michael Barker. “So it has the benefit of being related to those films, but it also has the benefit of being the finest of the three.” SPC will take Before Midnight wide June 14th. In other openers, Sony Classics also opened Fill The Void in three locations. That film took in $79,164, averaging a solid $26,388.
Last weekend’s specialty box office winner Frances Ha held steady in its second weekend. IFC Films added 56 theaters in its second weekend of release, grossing $708,000 for a $11,800 average. Noted IFC Films: “Frances Ha expanded to the top 20 markets to fantastic results this Memorial Day weekend. Initial runs remained very strong with minimal drops signifying the comedy’s positive word of mouth. The new markets were also excellent buoyed by phenomenal reviews (93% on Rotten Tomatoes) and an extensive advanced screening program. Frances Ha will continue its aggressive platform release as the film will open the top 50 markets this weekend.”