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OSCARS: ‘Philomena’ Puts Judi Dench Right Back In The Thick Of The Race

Pete Hammond

Dame Judi Dench is poised to have a very happy new year. She is certainly no stranger to awards, but there could be more in her immediate future. She’s had 6 Oscar nominations  and one win as 1998 Supporting 1318861512_Judi_Dench_Oscars_1998_WideActress for an eight minute role in Shakespeare In Love. There are also 11 Golden Globe nominations and two wins. And then the British superstar can also boast of an astounding 25 BAFTA nominations and 10 wins split between her film and television work — the most recent coming for her final appearance as M opposite James dench6fb-toned-webBond in 2012′s Skyfall. So what does she need another one for?

The fact is she’s back in awards contention in a big way again this season in Philomena, another signature role  as Philomena Lee, a true life story of a woman who had to give up her young child for adoption in the Irish orphanage where she worked — only to search for him 50 years later and discover some startling truths along the way. She’s already racked up SAG, Globe and Critics Choice Movie Award nominations for the crowd-pleasing film (which also has a Best Drama Picture bid at the Globes too) and seems a sure thing for another go at the Oscars when nominations are announced January 16th. This would be her fifth nod (in addition to Mrs. Brown, Iris, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Notes On A Scandal) as actress in a leading role , quite a feat for a performer at any age but particularly one who just turned 79 years old earlier this month. A win would make her the second oldest ever (after Driving Miss Daisy’s Jessica Tandy) to nab the Best Actress Oscar.

Related: The Real ‘Philomena’ Answers NY Post Critic Who Condemns Her Film Read More »

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Richard Gere Courted For ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2′

By | Wednesday October 30, 2013 @ 1:18pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Fox Searchlight and director John Madden are courting Richard Gere to star in the sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the 2011 sleeper hit that grossed $136 million worldwide on a $10 million budget. Original cast members Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton and Maggie Smith are expected to return when shooting begins early next year. Gere would play a new role. WME-repped Gere most recently starred in Arbitrage. Stay tuned, I will supply more details when I get them.

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BFI: UK Films Take 15% Of Global Market Share In 2012; Auds Age At Home

UK films brought in $5.3B at the global box office, according to findings published today in the British Film Institute‘s annual Statistical Yearbook. The figure reps a 15% share of the world market and is the third-highest on record. The performance on British movies was led by James Bond pic Skyfall, the No. 1 film of all time in the UK at £103M loocally and $1.1B worldwide. Total UK box office was £1.1B. Admissions, however, were up only a half a percentage point, hampered by distractions that included the Queen’s Jubilee, the Summer Olympics and the Euro 2012 soccer tournament.

On the audience front, people 45 and over made up 36% of moviegoers. The now dominant demographic reflects a trend towards films made for and marketed to older audiences. Top among those titles last year were Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Anna Karenina. Younger audiences declined with the 15-24 age group decreasing from 31% in 2011 to 25% of the total in 2012. Marigold Hotel also led indie exports, taking $135M internationally, followed by The Woman In Black with $128M. Total UK film exports were worth £1.7B. Read More »

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Rufus Norris’ ‘Broken’ Leads British Independent Film Awards Nominations

With nine nods, Rufus Norris’ Cannes Critics’ Week opener Broken leads the nominees for this year’s Moët British Independent Film Awards. Studiocanal is releasing Broken in the UK – although it has not yet been dated – and Film Movement has it domestically. The coming-of-age drama stars Tim Roth, Cillian Murphy and Rory Kinnear, who all received acting nods. Also scoring multiple shout-outs are Ben Wheatley’s comedy Sightseers and Peter Strickland’s horror film Berberian Sound Studio with seven each and Bart Layton’s The Imposter with six. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel also has a strong showing with nods for best film and director along with acting nominations for Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson. The 15th BIFAs will be handed out on December 9 in London. The full list of nominees follows:

Berberian Sound Studio
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The Imposter

Bart Layton – The Imposter
Ben Wheatley – Sightseers
John Madden – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Peter Strickland – Berberian Sound Studio
Rufus Norris – Broken

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‘The Avengers’ Soars But ‘Battleship’ And ‘The Dictator’ Sink In Profit Tally: Kagan

The Avengers Profit MarvelOnly two of eight major movies released last month are clearly destined to make a profit — and one of them is, surprise!, Marvel’s The Avengers — according to SNL Kagan’s latest monthly tally. The firm says that The Avengers is likely to generate more than $2B in revenues from all sources (excluding merchandise sales) on total costs of $473.2M. The 4.24 ratio of expected revenues over costs is well above the 1.75 threshold that Kagan says establishes a film as clearly profitable. To account for revenue splits, expenses and variables that analysts can’t determine, the firm classifies films with a ratio of less than 1.75 but more than 1.40 as being in a gray area while those below 1.40 are deemed probably unprofitable. By that measure, Fox Searchlight’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel fared well, with a ratio of 2.60 ($169.6M in revenues on $65.2M in costs). Columbia’s Men In Black 3 is on the bubble with 1.53 ($687.2M over $450.0M). Films likely to spill red ink include include Universal’s Battleship ($450M over $401.8M), Paramount’s The Dictator ($171.6M over $176.1M), Warner Bros’ Dark Shadows ($279.3M over $293.4M), Warner Bros’ Chernobyl Diaries ($59.4M over $87.4M), and Lionsgate’s What To Expect When You’re Expecting ($66.8M over $121.5M).

Related: Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ #3 Film Of All Time

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‘Moonrise Kingdom’, ‘Marigold Hotel’ Shine As Openers Fizzle: Specialty Box Office

Among specialty releases, holdovers held the spotlight the first weekend of June. Memorial Day weekend’s record-breaking opener Moonrise Kingdom retained its crown atop the box office in the specialty arena, averaging just over $53K per theater in 16 locations. Focus Features added 13 locations for the Wes Anderson-directed feature, which opened Cannes last month. And on this Diamond Jubilee weekend, Focus is, well, jubilant: “Moonrise continues to generate outstanding results this weekend,” a Focus spokesperson said this morning. “Saturday’s large increase over Friday (42%) reflects theaters adding more seats in response to demand (there were sellouts throughout the day). The estimated $53K theater average defines the film’s powerful box office momentum.”

Related: ‘Moonrise Kingdom Topples Record, ‘Intouchables’ Strong

But the jewel in the crown is still Fox Searchlight‘s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which added 61 locations in its fifth weekend out. Set in India, the film took in  $4.6 million over the weekend, landing itself again in the overall box office top 10 with only a 25% decline from last last weekend’s gross, Read More »

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‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ Passes $100M

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Box OfficeEXCLUSIVE: Fox Searchlight and Participant Media just did with a low-budget film what several major studios can’t right now with high-budget tenpoles: it has an early summer hit. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which is being lauded as ‘The Avengers for grown ups’ passed $100M worldwide despite playing in relatively few theaters. It is the highest grossing specialty film of 2012 and has become the 7th highest grossing film for Fox Searchlight Pictures. Its domestic cume is expected to reach $20.5M this Friday after its platform release on May 4th, and its foreign cume is $81.2M after opening there in February.

The well-reviewed adult film is a success story because of a great pedigree, director, and cast. The comic/romantic/poignant adventure at an unexpected Indian resort for seven UK pensioners is directed by John Madden (Shakespeare In Love) and stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup and Dev Patel. It’s from a script by Ol Parker and based on the novel These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach. The producers are Graham Broadbent and Peter Czernin of Blueprint Pictures. It held its London world premiere in February and marks the 4th best international grossing film for Fox Searchlight, behind only Black Swan ($224.6M), The Full Monty ($212M), and The Descendants ($93.2M). “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel continues to perform beyond our wildest expectations,” Utley and GIlula said in a statement to Deadline. Participant Media CEO Jim Berk stated, “We are thrilled that this wonderful film is captivating audiences everywhere.” Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: ‘Marigold’, ‘Bernie’ Shine As Newcomers Disappoint

By | Sunday May 20, 2012 @ 10:55am PDT

Weekend openers in the specialty arena did not impress once again, taking an unfortunate cue from their studio brethren apart from The Avengers juggernaut. Even so, some holdovers including The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Bernie undoubtedly received a champagne santé by their execs today at the (very wet) Cannes Film Festival.

Among specialty newbies, Zeitgeist Films’ Elena led the per-theater race, although it opened at just one location, taking in over $9K. Sony ClassicsHysteria bowed in five theaters, averaging just over $8K, nabbing the second best of the newcomers. More disappointing were Sundance SelectsPolisse, which rolled into three theaters, averaging under $6K, while eOne’s Virginia squeaked out a $1,262 average from five locations.

Pantelion/Lionsgate’s Girl In Progress grossed $460K in its second weekend, down steeply from its debut of $1.35 million in its opener, a gross decline of 67%, while the number of theaters held at 322. Girl averaged $1,429 ($4,193 last week) and has cumed just over $2.1 million. Also in its second weekend, Where Do We Go Now? added nine locations, averaging $2,174 from a $26K gross. In its debut, the film averaged $5,592 from three theaters.

The Best Exotic Marigold HotelNow in its third weekend, Fox Searchlight’s Best Exotic Marigold Hotel took the No. 6 spot in the overall national box office — pretty impressive considering it’s in only 354 theaters. By comparison, The Hunger Games, which is in seventh place (although it’s been in release awhile) remained in 2,064 theaters. With a weekend gross of $3.25 million, Marigold has now cumed $8.2 million. By comparison, last year’s Midnight In Paris had taken in just under $7 million at the same point in release. “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has started to draw from a wider audience who are interested in a film with interesting characters, a great story, and lots of laughter,” said Frank Rodriguez, Fox Searchlight’s SVP of Distribution. Searchlight will expand the film into 1,100 theaters heading into Memorial Day weekend. Also impressive is Millennium’s Bernie which had a 133% increase in gross over the previous weekend after adding 59 locations. The Richard Linklater-directed feature grossed $511K, averaging $5,380 vs last weekend’s $6,014.


1. Hysteria (Sony Pictures Classics) NEW [5 Theaters] Weekend $40,829, Average $8,166

2. Polisse (Sundance Selects) NEW [3 Theaters] Weekend $17,680, Average $5,893

3. Elena (Zeitgeist Films) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $9,393

4. Virginia (Entertainment One) NEW [5 Theaters] Weekend $6,311, Average $1,262

5. American Animal (Screen Media) NEW [1 Theaters] Weekend $6K
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Fox Searchlight Fetes ‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ In Cannes

Pete Hammond

Fox Searchlight brought its prize-winning Sundance sensation to Cannes, as anofficial Un Certain Regard entry (one of just two American films so honored) premiered here on Friday to standing ovations at both its Debussy Theatre screenings. With the Louisiana Bayou-set film’s producers, director Behn Zeitlin and stars including Dwight Henry and  8-year old scene stealer Quvenzhane Wallis on hand the Cannes crowd ate it up. Searchlight releases it in limited runs  Stateside on June 27th.

The mystical story set in the deep Louisiana Delta’s swamp country deals with a young girl’s search for her mother after her father’s deteriorating health and environmental disaster put her life in peril. It is a unique story that has been a huge success on the festival circuit and will require special handling by Searchlight to maximize its potential. One clear secret weapon they have is the young star with the tough-to-pronounce first name Quvenzhane. When I talked to her at Searchlight’s party for the film at Croisette Beach she was loaded for bear. I started by asking her what it was like to be chosen from 3500 other girls who auditioned. “It was 4000,” she corrected me without missing a beat. Okay, okay, what’s 500 six-year- old wannabes when you are talking about a major movie role? Having had enough of Searchlight’s pleasant but relatively calm (by Cannes standards) affair she announced to the PR handler that she wanted to party … Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: Blasé Weekend For Openers; ‘Best New Marigold’ Still Strong

Specialty openers did not fare well. Sony Classics lead a rather unspectacular crowd of rollouts, bowing Where Do We Go Now? in a trio of locations, grossing nearly $17K and an average just under $6,000. Magnolia opened a pair of titles with not so good results. Comedy/thriller God Bless America debuted at just over a dozen locations, averaging $2,196 while the distributor’s I Wish appeared in five theaters, averaging a little less than $2,000. Magnolia, however, had good news with its hit doc Jiro Dreams Of Sushi. The film passed the $2 million cumulative mark and is the second highest grossing doc of the year (just under the aggressively hyped Bully).

A pair of second week holdovers fared a bit better in limited release. While The Avengers broke records with the highest second-weekend grosses ever, Fox Searchlight’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel earned a place in the overall box office top 10 with only 178 locations (an additional 151 from its debut). The Dame Judi Dench starter grossed more than $2.6 million, averaging a fantastic $14,888. Searchlight said it will expand Marigold Hotel to an additional 24 markets and add 300 theaters next weekend. A spokesperson said the feature is “playing well to moms,” adding, “It was terrific counter-programming for the adult audience against the two tentpole films in the market place.  Clearly, it was a Happy Mother’s Day for the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

And Sundance Selects First Position added 14 theaters for its second weekend, grossing $91K for a $3,800 average. The film debuted last week at five locations, averaging $10,200.


God Bless America (Magnolia Pictures) NEW [13 Theaters] Weekend $28,550, Average $2,196

Where Do We Go Now? (Sony Pictures Classics) NEW [3 Theaters] Weekend $16,776, Average $5,592

I Wish (Magnolia Pictures) Week 14 [5 Theaters] Weekend $9,960, Average $1,992

Otter 501 (Paladin) NEW [3 Theaters] Weekend $5,500, Average $1,833

Small, Beautifully Moving Parts (Long Shot Factory) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $3,300, Average $1,650

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Specialty Box Office: ‘Marigold’ Blossoms; ‘Bernie’, ‘Headhunters’ 2nd Weekend Solid

By | Sunday May 6, 2012 @ 1:49pm PDT

And here’s the specialty box office… Congratulations Marvel’s The Avengers, you win. But some people did break away from the mobs to see something different. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel did a fine job launching in 27 theaters, grossing $750K for a $27,789 average. Pretty darned good all things considered, and only a tad shy of last weekend’s $30K per-theater average for Richard Linklater’s Bernie. The people behind it weren’t shy singing its praises. “Bernie! is a potential crossover hit  best reviews of [Jack] Black’s career. His audience could show up big,” Cinetic’s John Sloss told us. His The Best Exotic Marigold Hotelcompany sold the film to Millennium back in July and he’s still looking out for it on a sunny Sunday. “We’re exceptionally pleased with Bernie’s numbers this second week.” Added Millennium Entertainment CEO Bill Lee, “It’s proving to be a true sleeper hit and continues to sell out a significant number of shows. We grossed more this weekend then we did all of last week by adding only three Texas towns. With the film’s unique sensibility and powerhouse performances we know that audiences will continue to discover Bernie as we expand it across country.”

Sundance Selects threw a nice party Friday night for its dance doc First Position — ahem — and some company execs were outside the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Brunin Munroe Theater asking folks what they thought of the film sort of anonymously. Reactions to the movie and they kept looking over to see who might be buying tickets for the next showing (“are they seeing Marley or First?” someone not necessarily from IFC rhetorically asked.) So, it did pretty well, averaging $10,200. Not a shock, the Lincoln Center screenings were pretty packed, downtown not so much but not bad.
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Specialty Box Office: ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,’ ‘First Position,’ ‘Last Call At The Oasis,’ ‘The Perfect Family’

By | Friday May 4, 2012 @ 7:04am PDT

Participant Media has two very different projects with theatrical releases this weekend. The company partnered with producers of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, starring Dame Judi Dench, which Fox Searchlight is taking to theaters in the U.S. ATO Pictures meanwhile collaborated with Participant on its water crisis doc Last Call At The Oasis, which is set for a limited rollout via ATO. Also opening in the specialty arena today are the doc First Position from Sundance Selects and The Perfect Family, starring Kathleen Turner which will has a decidedly more DIY release strategy.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Director John Madden
Writers: Ol Parker (screenplay), Deborah Moggach (novel)
Cast: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel producer Graham Broadbent and his team optioned novelist Deborah Moggach’s These Foolish Things because the concept of “personal crisis” had an appeal. The film centers on British retirees who travel to what they believe is a plush resort in India, only to find out it is less than expected. “We developed the script in the UK and landed [the final version of the script] from Ol Parker,” Broadbent told Deadline. “We approached Participant and asked if it fit in with their [focus] on social issues and then started talking to Fox Searchlight.” After partnering with Participant and Searchlight, there were some re-writes, but the production team was pleased with the results. They also tapped the experience of their producing partners. “Searchlight has had great experience shooting in India with The Darjeeling Limited and The Namesake,” he said.
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