Writer-director Hossein Amini‘s The Two Faces Of January, based on the Patricia Highsmith novel, has its world premiere here tonight as a Berlinale Special screening. Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Isaac and Kirsten Dunst star in the 1962-set noir that follows glamourous, …
Global Showbiz Briefs: Warner Bros UK Preps Inaugural Creative Talent Initiative; Hugh Bonneville Reprising ‘Twenty Twelve’ Role; More
Warner Bros UK Gears Up For Creative Talent Initiative
Warner Bros UK has recruited its first group of scholars, apprentices and trainees for the inaugural season of Warner Bros Creative Talent. The first selection will participate in the program to gain industry insight and work experience across Warner’s UK film, TV, games and theater operations. The initiative is part of Warner Bros’ long-term commitment to the UK’s creative industries. Among the first folks chosen to take part are students Rienkje Attoh, Sam Coleman and Sam Hughes who are receiving the first Prince William Scholarships supported by BAFTA and Warner Bros. Four others will work as camera trainees and sound trainees on Ron Howard’s Heart Of The Sea and Guy Ritchie’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. More information on the program is available here.
Hugh Bonneville Back As Ian Fletcher In BBC’s ‘W1A’
Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville will reprise his role as Ian Fletcher in a new BBC comedy, W1A. The show is a follow-up to BAFTA-winning comedy series Twenty Twelve, from BBC In-House Comedy. Shooting starts next month on the series that sees Fletcher, the ex-head of the Olympic Deliverance Commission, taking up his next big job – the (fictional) Head of Values at the BBC. His task is to clarify, define, or redefine the core purpose of the BBC across all its functions and to position it confidently for the future. In Twenty Twelve (available on iTunes in the U.S.), the network poked fun at the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics and here looks to be taking a shot at itself after the broadcaster suffered a string of PR scandals in the past year. But John Morton, who wrote the series, says: “It isn’t a demolition job on anybody or anything, and it isn’t one giant in-joke, and this isn’t a game of guessing who is supposed to be who. If it is satirical then it’s satirical about an environment, an ethos, and the absurdities of modern corporate life itself. The key principle is to operate at a level of reality just to the left or the right of fact, to create stories that haven’t actually happened but that could happen or might have happened.“ Says Mark Freeland, head of BBC In-House Comedy: “This is a kind of love letter to the BBC. But a letter that gets mislaid, because the remote computer system is not working.” Twenty Twelve’s Morton also directs the comedy that’s produced by that show’s Paul Schlesinger and executive produced by Jon Plowman. There will be an initial run of four 30-minute episodes to be screened in 2014 on BBC Two.
Harold van Lier joined France’s Studiocanal in 2007 from Summit and was most recently EVP International Distribution. He now leaves the company to become President of eOne Films International, taking over the job in January. (Just ahead of van Lier’s announced departure, Studiocanal said it has promoted Anna Marsh to the role of Head of International Film Sales.) Part of van Lier’s purview will be to launch a new financing and investment model at eOne which also says it has new production financing arrangements with City National Bank and OneWest Bank. Here’s the full press release:
Weinsteins Acquire ‘Paddington’ For New TWC-Dimension; Colin Firth & Nicole Kidman To Lead Cast Of CGI Live-Action Pic
The Weinstein Co has taken North American rights to the upcoming big-screen transfer of Michael Bond’s classic kids character Paddington Bear. Paddington will be the first release under a new label for the company, TWC-Dimension, which will see Harvey and Bob Weinstein team on films for which they share a common passion. The Harry Potter franchise’s David Heyman is producing Paddington which is fully financed by Studiocanal. Colin Firth has been set to voice the CGI bear and, in a reteam with his Railway Man co-star, Nicole Kidman will play an evil taxidermist out for revenge. Also joining the cast are Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent.
This is the first-ever live action film inspired by the books which Bond began in 1958. The story follows a curious young Peruvian bear with a passion for all things British who travels to London in search of a home. Lost and alone at Paddington Station, he meets the kindly Brown family who offer him a temporary haven. It looks as though his luck has changed, until this rarest of bears catches the eye of a museum taxidermist.
Principal photography starts this month with Paul King (Come Fly With Me, The Might Boosh) directing. Shooting is set to take place in the UK with Framestore handling VFX. Studiocanal has set a November 28, 2014 event release in the UK and will go day-and-date in its other territories that include France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. TWC-Dimension will release in North America in the first quarter of 2015. Studiocanal has international sales.
The project was initially announced in Cannes in 2012 and Studiocanal chairman Olivier Courson tells me the idea was to take time developing a script that would be a “real family comedy” that’s not just for kids.
eOne Revamps Broadcast And Digital Unit In Canada
Entertainment One is reorganizing its broadcast and digital division in Canada. SVP Television & Online Naveen Prasad is leaving the company under the restructuring, and Audrey Gardiner is being promoted to VP Licensing for eOne Films Canada and Dan Loewy becomes VP Transactional for eOne Films Canada. Together the former Alliance execs will oversee the Canadian film division’s broadcast and digital activities. Prasad had been overseeing the film group’s TV and digital activities after joining from Alliance following the takeover of that company by eOne. EOne says the reorganization will “support the group’s increasing activity in the digital sphere.” The Canadian team will work in tandem with digital leadership from across eOne’s international divisions.
New British Company Boxatricks To Focus On Creating Formats
British producers Colman Hutchinson and Steve Springford have joined with Who Wants To Be A Millionaire creators Michael Whitehill and David Briggs to launch Boxatricks. The UK company will focus on creating formats in the game and quiz show space as well as factual entertainment programs. Hutchinson was previously head of entertainment at Hat Trick Productions and Celador Productions. Springford is a former director of production at Celador. His credits include overseeing production of Millionaire, The National Lottery: Winning Lines and The Hypnotic World Of Paul McKenna. Whitehill co-created Millionaire in 1998 with Briggs and Steven Knight. Briggs previously collaborated with Hutchinson on the Brainiest format and with Springford on The National Lottery: Winning Lines. With Whitehill, he worked on The People Versus and Winning Lines.
EXCLUSIVE: Ahead of its shooting start next month, Sean Penn-starrer The Gunman has virtually sold out for Studiocanal here in Cannes. This is the project from producers Joel Silver and Andrew Rona that Studiocanal is fully financing. Taken helmer Pierre Morel is directing the action film, which previously went by the title Prone Gunman. Silver and Rona are also in business with Studiocanal on the upcoming Jaume Collet-Serra-directed Non-Stop, which Universal is releasing Stateside. Footage from that film was screened for buyers in Cannes, which Studiocanal says helped fuel sales on The Gunman. Morel was also in town to enthuse buyers. The movie sees Penn as an ex-government contract killer whose past comes back to haunt him. Studiocanal closed deals this week in such territories as Scandinavia, Switzerland, China, Russia, Latin America, Benelux, Poland, the Middle East, Greece and Italy, where Rai acquired the pic in what is a rare direct buy for the company. Studiocanal is releasing in France, Germany, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. U.S. studios and indies are circling. I’m told the film is not part of Silver’s deal with Universal.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Searching For ‘Wicker Man’, Londoño Upped At Fox Int’l Channels, Chinese Authorities Eyeing Zhang
UK distributor StudioCanal has launched a worldwide appeal to locate original film materials relating to the 1973 horror classic The Wicker Man. This year is the Robin Hardy-directed film’s 40th anniversary, and StudioCanal is aiming to release the most complete version of the film possible. The Christopher Lee starrer originally was released with minimal promotion as the second feature of a double bill with Don’t Look Now. The version shown was significantly shorter than Hardy’s original. The negatives then disappeared from storage at Shepperton Studios and allegedly were used as landfill in the construction of the nearby M4 highway, and are considered lost forever. The company is appealing to film collectors, historians, programmers and fans to support the campaign and come forward with any information relating to the potential whereabouts of original materials.
Londoño Upped At Fox International Channels
Fox International Channels has appointed Diego Londoño as COO of its European and African units. He will take over the new post immediately and retain his role as president of FIC Italy and Germany. The appointment adds decision-making responsibilities across pan-European and African programming, production, branding, communications, research and strategy to his responsibilities. Londoño, a 15-year veteran of FIC, will be charged with strengthening and expanding the company’s portfolio and exploring new growth areas.
Cannes Briefs: Ed Westwick Joins ‘Bone In The Throat’; Jessica Chastain Hosting ‘Cleopatra’ Event; 108 Media’s ‘Jug Face’; Wild Bunch Ups Carole Baraton; More
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Ed Westwick Has A ‘Bone In The Throat’
EXCLUSIVE: Ed Westwick will play the lead in the film adaptation of Anthony Bourdain’s foodie noir thriller novel Bone In The Throat. Burn Gorman (The Dark Knight Rises, Revenge) and Liam Cunningham (Game Of Thrones) have also joined the cast of the film to be helmed by commercials director Graham Henman in his feature debut. He co-wrote the screenplay with Mark Townend. Lenny Beckerman and Peter Heslop are producing the story of a sous-chef at the hottest restaurant in London’s East End who becomes embroiled in his uncle’s underground mob activity when he witnesses him commit a murder. Executive producer Maggie Monteith of Dignity Film Finance is backing the picture set to shoot in London in the fall. Westwick is repped by Michael Hallett at Emptage Hallet. Cunningham and Gorman are repped by Management 360 and the UK’s Independent Talent.
Fox, Bulgari Roll Out Red Carpet For Cannes ‘Cleopatra’
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is partnering with jeweler Bulgari to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s legendary Cleopatra. A restored 243-minute version will have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21, hosted by Jessica Chastain and attended by members of the families of stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The screening will be followed by a reception featuring pieces on display from Taylor’s personal jewelry collection. The exhibition also will include original costumes from the film which are on loan from Cinecittà. Following the Cannes premiere, Twentieth Century Fox will release Cleopatra in limited theatrical engagements in more than 200 theaters around the world. The 50th anniversary Blu-ray Cleopatra debuts May 28.
BREAKING: StudioCanal has filed suit against Universal Pictures alleging failure to honor fiduciary and contractual responsibilities in their longtime joint venture to fund movies produced by Working Title Films. StudioCanal says Universal owes “tens of millions of dollars and likely much more” as a result of an October 2012 audit of the joint venture’s development and overhead expenses on six of 44 movies made through the joint venture. The audit of the expenses, which according to the suit were managed by Universal, revealed that it had hidden certain off-balance sheet financing arrangements and misreported ancillary revenue from music publishing and other sources. The suit (read it here) also claims Universal double-charged the partnership for producing and other fees paid to Working Title without StudioCanal’s approval and deducted millions of dollars in unsubstantiated expenses before reporting results to StudioCanal. ”
StudioCanal says it has attempted unsuccessfully to discuss the audit and claims with Universal. StudioCanal executives flew to LA from Paris in late October for what they believed based on emails was a scheduled meeting with Universal’s team to discuss the situation. When they arrived, the Universal execs claimed they didn’t know anything about such plans, according to the suit. After that meeting Universal stopped providing accounting statements and payments, and StudioCanal alleges that subsequent attempts to communicate with Universal have proved similarly fruitless: “Universal is behaving as if its partner StudioCanal does not even exist”. The suit says Universal’s lack of cooperation has forced StudioCanal to litigate the matter.
EFM Roundup: ‘Rising Star’ At Content; Studiocanal Selling French ‘Starbuck’ Redo; 108 Media’s ‘Honour’
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Content Hooks ‘Rising Star’
Content Film will handle sales on romantic comedy/drama Rising Star at the EFM. Marty Lang won the Best Premier at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival last year with the …