EXCLUSIVE: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Stephen Frears, and author Martin Sixsmith (The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee) discuss the origins of Weinstein sleeper Philomena in the exclusive featurette below. Dench stars in the pic as Philomena Lee, an Irish woman who enlists the help of a writer (Coogan) in her search for the son that was taken away from her 50 years prior. Coogan and Jeff Pope won Best Screenplay honors at the Venice Film Festival and nominated for the Golden Globe. Philomena is also Globes-nominated for Best Actress (Dench) and Best Picture. Check it out:
Stephen Frears‘ untitled Lance Armstrong film is currently shooting on location in Europe with Dustin Hoffman set to come along for the ride once production moves to the U.S. for the final stages. Lee Pace (The Hobbit trilogy) has also boarded the movie. Hoffman and Pace are joining Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Guillaume Canet and Jesse Plemons in the film about disgraced Tour de France champion Armstrong. Foster plays the cyclist with O’Dowd as journalist David Walsh. Trance‘s John Hodge wrote the screenplay based on sportswriter Walsh’s book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit Of Lance Armstrong. The film charts Armstrong’s rise through the 1990s and early 2000s, his battle with cancer and his dominance of pro cycling. It also follows Walsh who was at first charmed by Armstrong, but ultimately became an integral figure in exposing the doping rife within the sport. Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing as are Kate Solomon and longtime Frears collaborator Tracey Seaward — who most recently worked with the director on Philomena. Studiocanal is fully financing and will distribute in its own territories.
Related: Ben Foster To Play Lance Armstrong
Deadline told you exclusively in July that Stephen Frears would be directing Ben Foster in a movie about disgraced Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong for Working Title. Now, they’ve finally confirmed all this and that Studio Canal will fully fund the untitled project for an October 18 start date. Foster will be joined by Chris O’Dowd, who’ll play journalist David Walsh. Guillaume Canet and Breaking Bad‘s Jesse Plemons have key supporting roles. Trance‘s John Hodge wrote the screenplay based on sportswriter Walsh’s book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit Of Lance Armstrong. The film charts Armstrong’s rise through the 1990s and early 2000s, his battle with cancer and his dominance of pro cycling. It also follows Walsh who was at first charmed by Armstrong, but ultimately became an integral figure in exposing the doping rife within the sport.
Related: Ben Foster To Play Lance Armstrong
Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing as is longtime Frears collaborator Tracey Seaward — who most recently worked with the director on Philomena — and Kate Solomon (United 93, Green Zone). Working Title’s Liza Chasin and Amelia Granger will executive produce. Studiocanal is distributing in its own territories and will kick off international sales at the AFM.
They are in a race …
EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: Stephen Frears‘ Lance Armstrong movie is further along than I thought. I’m told that Ben Foster is already in final talks to play Armstrong in the film, which was scripted by Trainspotting’s John Hodge and covers Armstrong’s career from his cancer ordeal to the scandal that brought him down. Always a good actor, Foster has a lot of momentum coming into what could be a careermaking role. He will next be seen in two films that premiered at Sundance, IFC’s Ain’t Them Body Saints and Sony Pictures Classics’ Kill Your Darlings. Foster, who last spring made his Broadway debut opposite Alec Baldwin in Orphans, stars opposite Mark Wahlberg in the Peter Berg-directed Navy SEAL saga Lone Survivor, which Universal releases December 27. The hope is to begin production on the Armstrong film this fall. He is repped by WME, Hodge by United Agents. Still no official comment from reps or Working Title.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 10:19 AM: Director Stephen Frears, in Hollywood promoting his HBO film Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight at TCA, is moving fast on another fact-based movie based on an iconic athlete. I’m told that Frears and Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner have teamed up on a feature film on the doping scandal that enveloped the Tour de France and led to the downfall of 7-time champion Lance Armstrong in the biggest doping scandal in the history of sports. I’m still trying to get all the details, but they are eyeing a start as soon as this fall on the movie. That makes Frears a surprise entry in a crowded field, and that doesn’t even factor in a Sony Pictures Classics deal this week to release the documentary The Armstrong Lie.
Danny Glover, Barry Levinson, Pablo Schreiber, Ed Begley Jr., Bob Balaban and Kathleen Chalfant have boarded Stephen Frears’ HBO movie Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, which dramatizes the machinations of the Supreme Court as Ali pursued Conscientious Objector status. They join previously cast Christopher Plummer, Frank Langella and Benjamin Walker. Glover will play Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Justice to serve on the Supreme Court; Levinson will play Justice Potter Stewart, who was an unpredictable voter on the Court; Begley Jr. will play Justice Harry Blackmun, President Richard Nixon appointee to the Supreme Court; Balaban will play an Advocate for Vietnam Veterans who argues a case before the Court; Schreiber will play Covert Becker, a Supreme Court clerk who doesn’t hide his contempt for liberals; and Kathleen Chalfant will play Ethel Harlan, Justice Harlan’s wife. Written by Shawn Slovo, Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight is executive produced by Frank Doelger, Tracey Scoffield, and Jonathan Cameron.
BREAKING: One day after the close of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, The Weinstein Company has finally closed a film acquisition deal. TWC completed a U.S. rights deal on the Stephen Frears-directed Lay the Favorite, the D.V. DeVincentis-scripted adaptation of the Beth Raymer memoir about a young woman who gets in with some older gamblers who figure out how to manipulate the Vegas sports book system. Bruce Willis, Rebecca Hall, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Vince Vaughn, Laura Prepon and Joshua Jackson star. The deal was in the $2.2 million range. Distribution is being worked out for the fall, and the plan is a combination of day and date theatrical release in 50 markets and release on VOD. That gives Tom Quinn and Jason Janego–who were hired last fall to start a multi-platform releasing company for TWC–a solid star-studded project to work with. The deal was brokered by the film’s financier, Emmett Furla Films’ Randall Emmett, CAA and TWC’s David Glasser, Quinn and Janego. Emmett said they had offers that were higher, but felt most comfortable with TWC. “Stephen Frears has made several movies with Harvey Weinstein, and that made this a perfect fit for the film.”
The Sundance Film Festival is infamously where relatively unknown filmmakers travel to Park City and maybe leave the mountain resort on the road to glory. But this year may have more well-known names swaggering down Main Street with projects than in recent years. Here’s a snapshot of the film famous you’ll be hearing about at Sundance and why:
SPIKE LEE, director/producer, Red Hook Summer - Spike has a long history going in and out of the studio system and hitting the pavement at Sundance where he returns with his latest. The director often laments how difficult it is to get money for projects despite making $300 million on Inside Man. Fast forward several documentaries later, and Lee picks up the feature filmmaking mantle again about an Atlanta boy who is sent to spend the summer in a Brooklyn NY housing project with the grandfather he’s never met. With all titles screening in the festival’s Premieres section headed to Sundance without a distributor in place, Lee is once again counting on his indie roots for this pic.
JULIE DELPY, writer/director/star, 2 Days In New York - Delpy opened the Sundance Film Festival with Before Sunrise way back in 1995. Now she returns with 2 Days In New York – a follow up to 2007′s 2 Days In Paris. Delpy took her recent films including 2 Days In Paris to Berlin for their debuts, but is headed to Sundance with the latest. The film has sold some international territories already and the feature’s American setting is ripe for a Sundance splash, according to the film’s sales company Rezo. In no small part due to star Chris Rock who plays opposite Delpy. In the film, Delpy reprises her 2 Days In Paris character Marion who lives with her new lover Mingus (Rock) and their two kids from previous relationships. The couple get an unexpected visit from her father (played by Delpy’s real-life dad), her oversexed sister, and her outrageous boyfriend.
STEPHEN FREARS, director Lay The Favorite - You would think two Oscar nominations for Best Director not to mention multiple Awards for 2006′s The Queen (including a win for actress Helen Mirren) would mean a golden ticket for future projects and a studio backer. But such is not the case anymore and Frears will join fellow filmmakers vying for distribution at Sundance. Pic has a well-known cast including Rebecca Hall, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bruce Willis, and Joshua Jackson. This latest follows a beautiful but ditzy gal who moves to Las Vegas and meets a pro sports gambler who hones in on her natural skills for numbers to his advantage.
MICHAEL STIPE, executive producer, Me@ The Zoo - The former R.E.M. front man has his hand in film for decades now, most prominently beginning in the late 1990s as executive producer of Velvet Goldmine and producer of multiple Oscar-nominee Being John Malkovich. Ubiquitous at Sundance in the early part of the 2000s, his last big project there was 2004′s Saved via his Single Cell Pictures. His other production company C-Hundred Film Corp (with filmmaker Jim McKay) is taking Me @ The Zoo to Sundance this year where it is screening in competition. The film follows video blogger Chris Crocker whose YouTube plea “Leave Britney Alone!” has been viewed gazillion times.
The 2012 Sundance Film Festival has filled out the film schedule with a Premieres lineup of features and documentaries that add some star power to the festival. As Deadline reported last week, the festival added the Stephen Frears-directed Bruce Willis-starrer Lay The Favorite as well as a film by Julie Delpy, another that stars Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon, and another with Bradley Cooper. Most of the films come without distribution, so they will add to what is being forecast as potentially heavy dealmaking. Here’s the list:
2 Days in New York / France (Director: Julie Delpy, Screenwriters: Julie Delpy, Alexia Landeau) — Marion has broken up with Jack and now lives in New York with their child. A visit from her family, the different cultural background of her new boyfriend, her sister’s ex-boyfriend, and her upcoming photo exhibition make for an explosive mix. Cast: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alex Nahon.
Arbitrage / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nicholas Jarecki) — A hedge-fund magnate is in over his head, desperately trying to complete the sale of his trading empire before the depths of his fraud are revealed. An unexpected, bloody error forces him to turn to the most unlikely corner for help. Cast: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Nate Parker.
Bachelorette / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Leslye Headland) — Unresolved issues between four high school friends come roaring back to life when the least popular of them gets engaged to one of the most eligible bachelors in New York City and asks the others to be bridesmaids in her wedding. Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, James Marsden, Adam Scott, Kyle Bornheimer.
California Solo / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Marshall Lewy) — A former Britpop rocker has long settled for an unfettered life working on a farm outside of L.A. When he’s caught driving drunk and faces deportation, he must confront past and current demons in his life to stay in the country. Cast: Robert Carlyle, Alexia Rasmussen, Kathleen Wilhoite, A Martinez, Danny Masterson.
Celeste and Jesse Forever / U.S.A. (Director: Lee Toland Krieger, Screenwriters: Rashida Jones, Will McCormack) — Celeste and Jesse met in high school, married young, and at 30, decide to get divorced but remain best friends while pursuing other relationships. Cast: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Ari Graynor, Chris Messina, Elijah Wood, Emma Roberts.
For A Good Time, Call… / U.S.A. (Director: Jamie Travis, Screenwriters: Katie Anne Naylon & Lauren Anne Miller) — Lauren and Katie move in together after a loss of a relationship and a loss of a rent controlled home, respectively. When Lauren learns what Katie does for a living the two enter into a wildly unconventional business venture. Cast: Ari Graynor, Lauren Anne Miller, Justin Long, Mark Webber, James Wolk.
GOATS / U.S.A. (Director: Christopher Neil, Screenwriter: Mark Jude Poirier) — Ellis leaves his unconventional desert home to attend the disciplined and structured Gates Academy. There, he reconnects with his estranged father and for the first time questions the family dynamics. Cast: David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga, Graham Phillips, Justin Kirk, Ty Burrell.
LAY THE FAVORITE / U.S.A. (Director: Stephen Frears, Screenwriter: D.V. DeVincentis) — An adventurous young woman gets involved with a group of geeky older men who have found a way to work the sportsbook system in Las Vegas to their advantage. Cast: Bruce Willis, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rebecca Hall.
Liberal Arts / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Josh Radnor) — When 30-something Jesse is invited back to his alma mater, he falls for a 19-year-old college student and is faced with the powerful attraction that springs up between them. Cast: Josh Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, John Magaro, Elizabeth Reaser.
Price Check / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michael Walker) — Pete is having trouble resolving a happy marriage and family life with rising debt and a job he hates. When his new boss pulls him into the maelstrom that is her life, money and opportunities come his way, but at what price? Cast: Parker Posey, Eric Mabius, Annie Parisse, Josh Pais, Cheyenne Jackson.
Red Hook Summer / U.S.A. (Director: Spike Lee, Screenwriters: James McBride, Spike Lee) — A young Atlanta boy spends his summer in Brooklyn with his grandfather, who he’s never seen before. Cast: Clarke Peters, Jules Brown, Toni Lysaith, James Ransone, Thomas Jefferson Byrd.
Red Lights / U.S.A., Spain (Director and screenwriter: Rodrigo Cortés) — Psychologist Margaret Matheson and her assistant study paranormal activity, which leads them to investigate a world-renowned psychic. Cast: Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Olsen, Toby Jones.
Robot and Frank / U.S.A. (Director: Jake Schreier, Screenwriter: Christopher Ford) — A curmudgeonly older dad’s grown kids install a robot as his caretaker. Cast: Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler.
SALT LAKE CITY GALA FILM
Shadow Dancer / United Kingdom (Director: James Marsh, Screenwriter: Tom Bradby) — When a widowed mother is arrested in an aborted bomb plot she must make hard choices to protect her son in this heart-wrenching thriller. Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Aidan Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson, with Gillian Anderson and Clive Owen.
The Words / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal) — Aspiring writer Rory Jansen finds another man’s haunting memories in a collection of lost stories and claims them as his own, propelling him to literary stardom. Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde with Zoe Saldana. CLOSING NIGHT FILM
Catherine Zeta-Jones has closed her deal to star in Broken City, joining Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe in the Allen Hughes-directed drama. Zeta-Jones will play the philandering wife of the mayor of New York (Crowe). When a Brooklyn detective (Wahlberg) is hired by the mayor to identify his wife’s lover, and the lover turns up dead, the detective takes it personally and uncovers a wider conspiracy involving his employer. Brian Tucker wrote the script and Randall Emmett, Stephen Levinson, Wahlberg and George Furla will produce. The $50 million film is being fully funded by Emmett/Furla Films and New Regency recently came on as producer, with Fox distributing. Shooting begins November in New York. Zeta-Jones recently completed three big films. She’s coming off the Adam Shankman-directed Rock Of Ages with Tom Cruise, Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin, starred with Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel and Dennis Quaid in Playing The Field, and starred in the Stephen Frears-directed Lay The Favorite with Bruce Willis and Vince Vaughn. She’s repped by WME.
Stephen Frears, director of Dangerous Liaisons and The Queen, will receive this year’s European Film Academy Lifetime Achievement Award. Having already received the Spanish Goya, the French César, and the British BAFTA, Frears told the EFA organizers by phone, “It’s very nice to be complimented by Europe. … Of course, I’m never quite sure whether England is part of Europe. We’re divided about this and have complicated feelings. But what matters is to keep European film going. And I’m totally committed to that. Nothing else matters. If the films are good, then people will go and see them.” The 24th European Film Awards ceremony takes place on December 3rd in Berlin.
Emmett/Furla Films, a company that has been growing more ambitious in the film financing and production arena, has teamed with Stepan Martirosyan and Remington Chase’s Envision Entertainment to establish a new $250 million revolving equity and debt fund to finance a new slate of star-driven commercial films. The fund was announced as EFF principal Randall Emmett comes to Toronto to make deals on films that include the Allen Hughes-directed political corruption drama Broken City, which stars Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe, and Frozen Ground, the fact-based thriller about a serial killer in Alaska that will star Nicolas Cage and John Cusack. Martirosyan and Chase are executive producers on the latter.
The fund carries no set restrictions on how and where capital is allocated, but it will continue EFF’s momentum. The company recently financed the Stephen Frears-directed Lay The Favorite — with a cast that includes Bruce Willis, Rebecca Hall, Vince Vaughn and Catherine Zeta-Jones — with films in the works that include the David Ayer-directed crime drama End of Watch with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anna Kendrick; Fire with Josh Duhamel, Willis and Rosario Dawson; and Freelancers, a drama that stars Robert De Niro, Forest Whitaker and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. EFF’s Emmett continues to be Jackson’s partner in Cheetah Vision Films, which has a deal at Lionsgate. EFF will make nine films this year.
Last year’s Toronto Film Festival started slow for acquisitions, but finished with a flurry of modest distribution deals that served notice the specialty film business had finally pulled out of its nosedive. This year’s festival hasn’t started and already there are fireworks. Deadline broke news yesterday that Harvey Weinstein would start a VOD business, making the acquisitions market for fringe films more competitive; and last night, I heard that a bidding battle had already broken out for the Steve McQueen-directed Shame, which should be sold by the time it screens Sunday. Fox Searchlight is the favorite, Sony Pictures Classics is in the mix and I’ve heard that The Weinstein Company is hovering. Bidding began right after its Telluride screening, and the mid-six figures thrown around yesterday will probably go higher. That’s huge, considering the movie is an unabashed NC-17, McQueen has final cut, and the sex-obsessed protagonist is unlikable. Oh, yeah, and the sellers want it released this year for Oscar consideration to capitalize on Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan’s Oscar-caliber performances.
Does this mean we’re in for a drunken buying frenzy? Hardly, buyers tell me. They are eager to see the films, but say there’s no title here that’s going to guarantee somebody will overpay. They are also mindful that many of last year’s deals turned out to be box office busts. More deals will be made than …
EXCLUSIVE: Russell Crowe is set to star alongside Mark Wahlberg in the Allen Hughes-directed independently financed noir drama Broken City. Production begins in November. Wahlberg plays an ex-cop-turned-private detective who is hired by the mayor (the role Crowe will play) to see if his wife is cheating on him. The private eye confirms those suspicions, and when the mayor’s wife’s cheating partner ends up dead, the private eye immerses himself in the mayor’s business and uncovers a real estate scandal that involves the pol dealing himself choice city-owned properties. The script by Brian Tucker made the 2008 Black List. The $60 million film will be financed by Emmett/Furla Films.
Wahlberg is producing through his Closest to the Hole banner; Stephen Levinson through Leverage; and Randall Emmett, George Furla and Hughes are also producing. Wahlberg and Levinson, partners on Entourage and Boardwalk Empire, just wrapped the drama Contraband. Crowe is costarring as Jor-El in the Superman reboot Man of Steel and just wrapped The Man With The Iron Fists.
Mark Wahlberg and Allen Hughes are in early talks to team on Broken City, a noir-style drama about an ex-cop-turned-private detective who is hired by the mayor to see if his wife is cheating on him. When the mayor’s wife’s cheating partner ends up dead, the private eye immerses himself in the mayor’s business and uncovers a real estate scandal that involves dealing himself choice city-owned properties. Reps for Wahlberg and Hughes (who usually directs films with brother Albert, but each has been taking on solo projects as of late) caution that this is early going (the script had formerly been set up at Mandate), but the 2008 Black List script by Brian Tucker has now been set up to be financed by Emmett/Furla Films at a $60 million budget. Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, Randall Emmett, George Furla and Hughes will be the producers.
Emmett/Furla Films just financed with Wild Bunch the Stephen Fears-directed Lay The Favorite, starring Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rebecca Hall and Vince Vaughn, is about to begin production on the $25 million Fire With Fire with Willis and Josh Duhamel, will partner with Groundswell Productions to fund Captive and is in pre-production with Exclusive Media to co-finance the David Ayer-directed Jake Gyllenhaal-starrer End of Watch. Emmett is also partnered with Curtis Jackson in Cheetah Vision, which is in the middle of Fire With Fire. Wahlberg’s repped by WME and Leverage and Hughes by WME.
Vince Vaughn has joined the cast of the Stephen Frears-directed Lay The Favorite. Emmett Furla Films and Wild Bunch are financing the Random House Films project, which has just gotten underway. Stephen Frears is directing the adaptation of the Beth Raymer gambling memoir, with Bruce Willis, Rebecca Hall, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Anthony Bregman’s Likely Story, Emmett Furla partners Randall Emmett and George Furla and Ruby Films’ Paul Trijbits are producing, with Curtis Jackson exec producing.
Zeta-Jones will play the wife of a legendary gambler (Willis). Hall plays a young woman who becomes involved with the guy as he figures out how to gain an edge on the Vegas sports book system. Vaughn plays the role of Rosie, a Long Island bookie that Raymor once worked for. D.V. De Vincentis wrote the script and is also producing. Vaughn’s repped by CAA.
Pathe And Emmett Furla Replace Focus On ‘Lay The Favorite,’ With Catherine Zeta-Jones Joining The Gambling Film
EXCLUSIVE: Focus Features has been scratched before getting to the start gate on Lay The Favorite, but I’m told that Pathe and Emmett Furla Films have come to the rescue as co-financiers. Not only that, but Catherine Zeta-Jones is in talks to join a film now set to begin production in April. The movie adaptation of the Beth Raymer gambling memoir already had Stephen Frears ready to direct Bruce Willis and The Town‘s Rebecca Hall.
As Deadline originally revealed, that cast was set by Focus Features through its co-financing joint venture with Random House Films. But the film came in at a $20 million budget, which didn’t make sense for Focus. Random House, …
EXCLUSIVE: If you’re handicapping Lay The Favorite – the Stephen Frears movie adaptation of the Beth Raymer gambling memoir — take Bruce Willis and The Town‘s Rebecca Hall. I’ve heard they are the front runners for Raymer’s tale about how she became involved with some older guys who figured out how to gain an edge on the Vegas sports book system. D.V. De Vincentis wrote the script for Focus Features and Random House Films. Neither Willis nor Hall are sure bets, though. Willis is also circling the Wes Anderson-directed Moon Rise Kingdom, and Hall recently read for the role of Daisy Buchanan opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire in the Baz Luhrmann-directed adaptation of The Great Gatsby.