The Terrence Malick-produced film about a boy who would grow up to be the man widely considered America’s greatest presidents was first seen by the world at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Today Amplify announced it has acquired all U.S. rights to The Better Angels. The film from first time writer-director A.J. Edwards will get a fall theatrical release later this year. That will be followed by a VOD and home video release early next year. Better Angels, which also played in Berlin earlier this year, chronicles big changes in the the family life of young Abraham Lincoln over a three-year span in in the harsh Indiana wilderness. The film also focuses on two women who shaped his life, his mother Nancy, played by Brit Marling, , and his step mother Sarah, Diane Kruger, who raised him for a while after Nancy died. The film also stars Jason Clarke as Abe’s father and Wes Bentley. Edwards worked Malick on The New World as an editor and a second unit director on The Tree Of Life and the upcoming Knights Of Cups. Malick produced Better Angels with Jake DeVito, Nicolas Gonda and Charley Beil. Jason Krigfeld, Joseph Krigsfeld, Suzanne Deal Booth and Antoine Douaihy were the EPs. The deal announced today was put together by Cinetic Media and Alan Sacks & Hayden Goldblatt of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC on behalf of the filmmakers and Kent Sanderson on behalf of Amplify.
BREAKING …Lawyers for Terrence Malick said today that it’s not his Sycamore Pictures but London-based film financing company Seven Seas Partnership who is guilty of breach of contract over the director’s long-time-in-the-making Voyage Of Time documentary series. In a counterclaim (read it here) to SSPL’s July 19 complaint over the “epic film” filed Monday in federal court in New York, Malick’s company claims that the financier “concocted the story told in its Complaint and asserted its trumped-up claims as a pretext for the fact that it either ran out of, or never had, the funds necessary to meet its financing obligations under the Agreement, or otherwise decided not to continue funding VOT in breach of its contractual obligations.” Asserting that they’ve met every milestone required and calling the initial complaint “completely without merit,” Sycamore’s counterclaim also says SSPL is using its “claims to hold hostage VOT-the films Mr. Malick has been working on for most of his professional life.” In today’s filing, Sycamore is seeking either an enforcement of the parties’ agreement over the film or the return of VOT’s copyright and the extensive production materials and footage that SSPL has claimed as theirs. And with two very different sides of the story like this, let’s be clear – there’s a lot more filings to come.
UPDATE, 12:55 PM: Sycamore’s lawyer Maura Wogan of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz just responded to the suit. “The claims of Seven Seas are without merit. The film was on budget, on schedule, and all funds were used appropriately. Additionally, Seven Seas’ decision to file this lawsuit under the cover of darkness and go public before presenting Sycamore with a copy of the suit itself speaks to the weakness of the allegations.”
PREVIOUS BREAKING, 11 AM: In Hollywood, everyone knows that legendary director Terrence Malick marches to the beat of his own drum. But his unorthodox ways has led to a lawsuit in New York Federal court, waged against his Sycamore Pictures LLC by the London-based film financing company Seven Seas Partnership. They charge that after investing millions of dollars into Voyage Of Time – a documentary series narrated by the likes of Brad Pitt about the ascent of man — the film has been a no-show, with funds and Malick’s time allegedly redirected toward his other film projects. The lawsuit (read it here) claims Malick did little or no work on what is supposed to be a trio of projects. When confronted, Malick and his company refused to open the books or produce the footage that was supposed to have been shot.
This drama Red Wing based on George Sand’s 19th century novella is directed by Will Wallace whose stepfather Terrence Malick is the executive producer. When a mysterious foster child grows up to be a perceived threat, a family is torn apart. Bill Paxton, Luke Perry, Frances Fisher, Joelle Carter, Glen Powell and Breann Johnson star. Here’s the first trailer from Integrity Film Prods:
Magnolia Pictures has released another trailer for Terrence Malick‘s film that the company picked up last fall at the Toronto Film Festival. To The Wonder stars Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem. Magnolia plans a multi-platform release with an initial theatrical rollout starting April 12th in New York and Los Angeles plus engagements in several other markets, according to the distributor’s website.
Terrence Malick‘s To The Wonder elicited strong reactions when it debuted earlier this year, first in Venice and then in Toronto. Magnolia Pictures acquired the impressionistic love story in Toronto with a view to a theatrical release in 2013. Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem star in the film that’s almost all voice-over. Here’s the trailer with Bardem narrating:
EXCLUSIVE: Wes Bentley has been cast the first teacher of the future 16th U.S. president in The Green Blade Rises, the Terrence Malick-produced film that chronicles Abraham Lincoln’s youth and those who influenced him growing up. Brit Marling will play Lincoln’s mother Nancy, who died when Lincoln was 9. The duo join a cast that already includes Jason Clarke, who plays Lincoln’s father, and Diane Kruger, who plays his stepmother Sarah. Green Blade Rises is produced by Malick with Nicolas Gonda and Charley Beil. It marks the directing debut of A.J. Edwards, who also wrote the script. He has worked with Malick as an editor on three of Malick’s films including To The Wonder, The Tree Of Life and The New World. Bentley, who appeared in The Hunger Games, is repped by WME and Untitled Entertainment; Marling, whose recent credits include Another Earth, is repped by CAA and Alan Siegel Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: In what amounts to the last major film to emerge from the Toronto Film Festival with a distribution deal, Magnolia has acquired To The Wonder, the Terrence Malick-directed film that stars Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem. Magnolia will release it in a multi-platform strategy that starts with a theatrical release in 2013.
Affleck plays an American, Neil, who falls in love with a Ukranian girl Marina (Kurylenko) he meets in Paris, and asks her to return with him to Oklahoma to start a life together. While Marina and Neil can’t connect in her new home, she makes the acquaintance of a priest and fellow exile (Bardem) who is struggling with his vocation, while Neil renews a relationship with a childhood sweetheart, Jane (McAdams). The film will be marketed by Magnolia as an exploration of love in its many forms.
EXCLUSIVE: Jason Clarke is in negotiations to play the male lead in the Terrence Malick-produced The Green Blade Rises. He will play Tom Lincoln, the father of Abraham Lincoln. The film tells of the formative years of the 16th U.S. president and the hardships that shape him including abandonment by his father in the harsh winter wilderness, a tragedy that marked him forever, and the two women who guided him to immortality. Clarke’s character has a callous, quiet demeanor, verbally and physically abusive towards Abe on many occasions, but lets his son know how proud he is of him. He is married to Sarah Lincoln (played by Diane Kruger), Abe’s beautiful stepmother.
As is typical with a Terrence Malick film, there was a lot of mystery surrounding To The Wonder ahead of its Venice debut this morning. The recent confirmation of who made the director’s final cut was followed by today’s revelation that Olga Kurylenko plays the film’s central character. But it’s Ben Affleck, with only a handful of lines in the finished film, and Rachel McAdams, ultimately in a small role, who feature in the only photo from the film that’s been in circulation for months. Asked at the pic’s press conference why that was and how she felt about it, Kurylenko deferred to the producers, “I’m just as curious as you,” she said. Producer Sarah Green jumped in to say the still was released after some early footage was shot. “We have been advised to stand by,” on publicity materials until distribution is in place, she said. “It’s obviously no question that Olga is the lead.”
As expected, Malick was not in Venice today for the premiere. “He’s buried in work,” said Green. The film left the Lido divided this morning and reviews that have trickled out thus far are respectful, if not glowing. Green asserted Malick doesn’t read reviews, “He just works.” Kurylenko also provided some commentary on Malick’s method. Her character spends most of the movie in constant movement – …
To The Wonder, Terrence Malick’s impressionistic take on love and religion, was met with a mix of bravos and boos at the end of this morning’s first screening in Venice. Applause was hearty in my section of the Sala Darsena, but people I ran into outside were struggling with the almost all-voice-over competition entry that is “the least narrative” of Malick’s movies. Ben Affleck appears in most of To The Wonder, but he probably has less than 10 lines, an occupational hazard that goes along with working on a Malick picture. Rachel McAdams seems to have suffered the same fate, showing up about a third of the way through for a brief thread that involves Affleck’s character – or “prop,” as one person put it to me. Last week, I reported that Malick left Rachel Weisz, Barry Pepper, Amanda Peet and Michael Sheen on the cutting room floor.
Malick’s last picture, Tree Of Life, certainly had its fans and detractors, but people I spoke to today felt that film had “more of a story” and “real characters.” I’ve confirmed that some footage from Tree Of Life was used in To The Wonder: the footage is “imagery that was licensed” for Tree Of Life and that what is used in To The Wonder is “less than 10 seconds”. (Fox is thanked in the credits for the footage.) …
It’s been confirmed to me by a knowledgeable source that Terrence Malick will not be in Venice OR Toronto for screenings of his latest film, To The Wonder, which debuts Sunday on the Lido. While that’s not really such a wonder, the notoriously reclusive director did come to Cannes a little more than a year ago when Tree Of Life screened — and ultimately won the Palme d’Or. That year, people were practically taking bets on whether he’d show for the movies’s official launch. He didn’t come to the press conference at the time, it was said, because he wanted the film to speak for itself. True enough. If Malick had been there that would have been the story — Brad Pitt’s presence notwithstanding. But later that day in 2011, I sat down in Cannes president Gilles Jacob’s office for a chat and it turned out Malick had been keeping my seat warm for me. Jacob told me the director had just sat for two hours in the same chair as they discussed all and sundry. At the time, Jacob said the director would likely not do the Tree Of Life red carpet since he suffered from “extreme timidity.” However, Malick ended up making a split-second appearance in Cannes’ Lumière theater that night, it was reported at the time. Can we expect something similar for this festival circuit? As one person who knows Malick well put …
Venice: ‘Reluctant Fundamentalist’ Bows With Star Turn By Riz Ahmed; Curiosity High On Anderson’s ‘Master’, Malick’s ‘Wonder’
The Venice Film Festival kicked off last night with the premiere of Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Indian-born filmmaker Nair, one of 21 female directors in the main selection – notable after a year when Cannes saw zero in competition – said yesterday she felt she was “put on this earth to tell stories about people like me who live between two worlds.”
Based on the book by Mohsin Hamid, the story follows a young Pakistani man’s rise from Lahore to Princeton to the height of Wall Street success pre-9/11. A brunette Kate Hudson plays lead Riz Ahmed’s love interest. They’re torn apart as Ahmed’s character, Changez, is treated with overt suspicion and brutality by American authorities post-9/11. Disillusioned by the American Dream, he heads back to Lahore and becomes a teacher while local radicals attempt to recruit him. Liev Schreiber plays a journalist/spook who finds an uneasy kinship with Changez while investigating the kidnapping of an American citizen.
Nair won the Golden Lion in 2001 for Monsoon Wedding and a few days later was in Toronto when planes crashed into the World Trade Center. With this film, she said, “I sought to bring some sense of bridge-making between America and the Muslim world that goes beyond myopia and ignorance.” Ahmed, easily the biggest takeaway from the movie, said “Viewers will react differently. I hope the film has respect for its audience.” The actor is known in Britain for films that include Michael Winterbottom’s The Road To Guantanamo and Trishna and the recent drama Ill Manors by English rapper Ben Drew (aka Plan B), but he has yet to break in the States. I’d expect that to change soon. At the opening night dinner, admirers positively swooned around him. Upping the “aw” factor, he mostly spent the evening tending to his date – his mother.
Venice: Terrence Malick Leaves Rachel Weisz, Barry Pepper, Michael Sheen And Amanda Peet On Cutting Room Floor
BREAKING: Terrence Malick’s To The Wonder debuts in Venice on Sunday, but a handful of actors who were initially part of the film won’t be on the big screen in the Sala Grande. I’ve confirmed that Rachel Weisz, Barry Pepper, Michael Sheen and Amanda Peet were all ultimately left on the cutting room floor. It’s an occupational hazard when you make a Malick movie that this might happen. A person with knowledge of the film tells me, “It’s just the way Terry works; it’s not a reflection on anything other than the story.” Malick is known for shooting reams and reams of footage and editing to fit his final vision. I understand there are four main characters in the film which more closely resembles Badlands than, say, Tree Of Life. Those parts are held by Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Olga Kurylenko and Javier Bardem. The actors who were excised had small roles in small facets of the main storyline. Actors apparently know the risk involved in working with Malick, but they still flock to him. In an interview with Italian daily La Stampa, Weisz recently said she thought her part had been cut but that she did the film to have the experience of working with Malick.
The 69th Venice Film Festival is shaping up to be a showcase for a handful of veteran American directors with Terrence Malick, Brian De Palma and Paul Thomas Anderson in the competition mix. Appearing out of competition with his Michael Jackson documentary, Bad 25, Spike Lee will also receive the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker 2012 award. The prize is dedicated to “a personality who has brought great innovation to contemporary cinema,” the fest said today. Alberto Barbera, in his first outing as artistic director at Venice, said, “Spike Lee is a bold creative spirit, the author of daring and corrosive films, often unpredictable and provocative in the best sense of the term. Films that challenge us to rethink our prejudices and our preconceptions.” Lee will receive the tribute on Aug 31 at the festival which runs from Aug 29 to Sept 8. Previous Glory to the Filmmaker recipients include Takeshi Kitano, Abbas Kiarostami, Agnès Varda, Sylvester Stallone, Mani Ratnam and Al Pacino.
EXCLUSIVE: The 16th U.S. president continues to a hot box office commodity. The next film about Abraham Lincoln is The Green Blade Rises, and Diane Kruger has been set to play Sarah Lincoln, Abe’s beautiful stepmother. The film was written and will be directed by AJ Edwards, with Terrence Malick producing with Nicolas Gonda and Charley Beil. This version tells the story of America’s greatest hero, the hardships that shaped him, the tragedy that marked him forever and the two women who guided him to immortality. One is his stepmother, who becomes an influential figure for the future president.
The film is being shot in black and white and will begin production in the fall. It spans three formative years of his life in the vast wilderness of Indiana. And no, there will be no vampires. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has already hit theaters, and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln will be released November 9, with Daniel Day-Lewis playing the Great Emancipator. Kruger is repped by UTA, Untitled and UK-based Ken McReddie Associates.
Venice Film Festival: Terrence Malick’s ‘To The Wonder’, Brian De Palma’s ‘Passion’ Among Competition Pics
Alberto Barbera has unveiled his first lineup as artistic director of the 69th Venice Film Festival. The main competition is heavy on Euro fare, but also includes Terrence Malick‘s To The Wonder starring Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz; Brian De Palma’s (French-produced) Passion also with McAdams and Noomi Rapace; Ramin Bahrani’s At Any Price with Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid; and Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers starring James Franco and Selena Gomez. Out of competition premieres include Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep, Susanne Bier’s Love Is All You Need and Spike Lee’s Michael Jackson documentary Bad 25. A handful of classic films will be screened in restored versions including Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny & Alexander and Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate. Talent will stroll the Lido from August 29-September 8. Below are the full in- and out-of-competition slates.
Venice 69 (Competition)
Something In The Air, dir: Olivier Assayas
Clément Métayer, Lola Créton, Félix Armand
At Any Price, dir: Ramin Bahrani
Zac Efron, Dennis Quaid, Kim Dickens, Heather Graham
Bella Addormentata, dir: Marco Bellocchio
Toni Servillo, Isabelle Huppert, Alba Rohrwacher, Michele Riondino, Maya Sansa, Pier Giorgio Bellocchio
La Cinquième Saison, dirs: Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth
Aurélia Poirier, Django Schrevens, Sam Louwyck, Gill Vancompernolle
Fill The Void, dir: Rama Burshtein
Hadas Yaron, Yiftach Klein, Irit Sheleg, Chaim Sharir
E Stato Il Figlio, dir: Daniele Cipri
Toni Servillo, Giselda Volodi, Alfredo Castro, Fabrizio Falco
Un Giorno Speciale, dir; Francesca Comencini
Filippo Scicchitano, Giulia Valentini
Passion, dir: Brian De Palma
Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace, Paul Anderson, Karoline Herfurth
Superstar, dir: Xavier Giannoli
Kad Merad, Cecile De France
Without realizing it until days later, TMZ managed to obtain an extremely rare commodity over the weekend — video of the notoriously publicity-averse director Terrence Malick. TMZ cameras cornered Benicio Del Toro to ask the actor what he thought about, for example, whether Cuba should be a state. What they didn’t know was that the man walking with Del Toro was Malick, who in the video was clearly avoiding the camera.
At various events and pre-Oscar parties this weekend I have heard over and over again the same line: “God,I just hope there are some surprises!” No matter what people seem to be personally rooting for, the one thing they really want are some good old-fashioned Oscar shockers in a year that doesn’t seem likely to have many, if any at all. That would mean anything but The Artist as Best Picture, maybe Gary Oldman or Demian Bichir as Best Actor or Glenn Close as Best Actress. How about Max von Sydow upsetting fellow 82 year old Christopher Plummer in the Supporting Actor race or The Help’s Jessica Chastain upending her co-star, favored Octavia Spencer, for Supporting Actress. The one category that in recent years has been ripe for surprise is Best Foreign Language Film. In fact the last few winners in the category were not the betting favorites so this year any movie other than Iran’s A Separation would indeed qualify as a surprise. If you want to bet the longshot there, go with Canada’s poignant, crowd-pleasing Monsieur Lazhar, the kind of film the more conservative older voters who participate in the Foreign Language process (you have to prove you have seen all five nominees in a theatre to vote) have tended to go for in recent years. But I don’t expect we will be surprised in this category, or for that matter almost any other this year.