Ned Benson‘s directorial debut The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby received a 10-minute standing ovation at its Cannes premiere in May. The version that played was Them, the film that Benson cut to tell a straight narrative story after two versions, Him and Her, debuted in Toronto last fall. James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain play a married couple whose relationship disintegrates when tragedy intervenes. The Weinstein Co is releasing the combined version Stateside on September 26. Six weeks later, it will put out the two earlier takes. All told, there is expected to be a big awards-season push by TWC, and in particular for the performances of Chastain and McAvoy. Viola Davis, Bill Hader and William Hurt also star. Here’s the trailer:
Cannes: Harvey Weinstein Plans Big Oscar Push For ‘Eleanor Rigby’, Jessica Chastain And James McAvoy
After a 10-minute standing ovation at its Cannes premiere this week, Harvey Weinstein is going to make a big awards-season push on The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby, and in particular the performances of Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy. Following that thunderous ovation and glowing reviews, Weinstein told his marketing team it has been a long time since he’d seen performances like these, and that they were to start working on the Oscar campaign strategy and go for it.
The new strategy will be to release the Ned Benson-directed film on September 26 at the start of awards-season films. I mean Them, the version that played Cannes, the one that Benson cut to tell a straight narrative story. Some six weeks later into Oscar season, TWC will release Him and Her, the two versions of the love story that played to acclaim at Toronto last fall. I saw Them at its later premiere screening, and came away feeling that Weinstein has a lot to work with. It is a moving story of a married couple on the rocks which showed sides of Chastain and McAvoy I hadn’t seen before. I came away actually wanting to see the other two versions, something I never expected.
One of the most interesting occurrences of the festival is how some of the best reviewed films here found their groove, something my colleague Pete Hammond has been chronicling all week. It’s clear that Bennett Miller was smart to avoid the last Oscar season so that he could take the time to make Foxcatcher as good as he could, a move done in concert with Sony Pictures Classics and producer/financier Megan Ellison. That movie also played like gangbusters here and will be right there in the Oscar mix.
UPDATE, FRIDAY AM: I’ve just gotten word that added to the below will be a new promo for Macbeth. Justin Kurzel’s version of the Shakespeare tale stars Michael Fassbender as the iconic eponymous antihero and Marion Cotillard as his scheming Lady.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE: In what’s become a highly anticipated annual event, The Weinstein Co is gearing up for tomorrow’s screening of first-look footage from its upcoming films. Two years ago, TWC first rented a plush room in the Majestic Hotel to show about 20 minutes of three of its 2012 awards contenders: Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook and The Master. It was a prescient move that got the awards conversation started. Last year, the reel was bumped up to 40 minutes and included clips from such pics as The Butler, The Grandmaster, One Chance, Fruitvale Station, August: Osage County and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. Harvey Weinstein has increasingly used this invite-only Cannes reception as a platform to tout the company’s slate and whet the appetite for releases later in the year. He’s also trotted out talent from the movies. This year’s event, co-hosted by Worldview Entertainment, goes down tomorrow at the Majestic replete with cocktails and a special press conference.
Among those set for the preview reel are Toronto sensation Begin Again, the John Carney-directed pic starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld and Adam Levine. Ivanhoe Pictures and Beijing Galloping Horse just acquired the Chinese theatrical and all platform rights. It opens in North America and Europe this summer. Also due is a new trailer from The Giver, the feature adaptation of Lois Lowry’s dystopian young-adult novel that stars Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes and Taylor Swift. It releases in August. Also with an August release, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is getting a teaser trailer, and animated soccer movie Underdogs is screening a new trailer. Un Certain Regard title The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby is unspooling a new trailer. The movie screens in UCR on Saturday in the third version to appear at a festival after two versions played Toronto, one titled Him and the other Her. James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain star as a married couple whose relationship disintegrates.
Cannes: How New Version Of Toronto Pic ‘Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby’ Found Its Way To Croisette In Un Certain Regard
EXCLUSIVE: Ned Benson, who made his feature directorial debut on The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby, recalls his beleaguered editor Krissy Boden paraphrasing fellow editor Walter Murch that, “we write one film, we shoot one film, and we cut another film.” Murch was talking about the process of making a single film and not what Benson has done, which is to carve out three distinctly different versions of the same movie. The latest will play in the Un Certain Regard category at Cannes.
When Benson unveils his film on the Croisette on May 17, it will be his second international festival and the third version to appear at a festival. At Toronto last fall where The Weinstein Company bought the film for around $3 million, Benson debuted two versions of the film that stars James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain as a married couple whose relationship disintegrates. One version, which they call Him, showed it from the husband’s vantage point, while a second film shown right after, Her, explored it from the perspective of the wife. The Cannes version, which Benson called Them, will follow the more traditional form and clock in at two hours. All three versions will be released by TWC in some form this fall.
“Insane is probably the best way to describe all this,” Benson told me. “The idea of creating a third way to see this story, to have a two-hour relationship film or give the viewer the choice of seeing it in the three hour, two-part perspective is one of the most educational film experiences I’ve had in my life. And the outcome is mind-blowing, like hitting the lottery.”
This is just one of the Cannes films TWC is involved in with issues. The fest’s opening-night film, Grace Of Monaco, was pulled from an early 2014 release date because of disagreements the distributor had with director Olivier Dahan. TWC probably won’t make a decision regarding the release of that film until the new cut is seen at the festival, and the battle has become contentious. Distributors often nudge filmmakers to consider making cuts on films they acquire, hoping to reach the widest possible audience. Though a single film clearly has a better shot at a wide audience than two long separate versions telling the same story, Benson said he wasn’t pressured by TWC to come up with the third cut.
“At Toronto, it was this hanging question that lingered,” Benson said. “It wasn’t until this year that I saw with my editor and my producing partner Cassandra Kulukundis and then talked with Harvey Weinstein about it, and he gave me the opportunity to see if it an omnipotent version could function as its own film. We got in a room and created the film that will premiere in Cannes.”
The Weinstein Company has dated three more films on its 2014 slate, all in prime position for awards season. TWC has set a September 26 limited release for The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby, a November 21 limited release for The Imitation Game and a Christmas Day bow for Big Eyes. Ned Benson’s Eleanor Rigby stars Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy as a once happily married couple who suddenly find themselves as strangers trying to understand each other in the wake of a tragedy. It faces off against Focus Features’ animated pic The Boxtrolls, Sony/Columbia’s The Equalizer, A24′s romcom Laggies, Relativity’s Hector And The Search For Happiness and Five And Two Pictures’ A Matter Of Faith. The Imitation Game stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the Allies win WWII. It’s pitted against Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and Buena Vista’s McFarland. Directed and produced by Tim Burton, Big Eyes is based on the true story of Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), who was one of the most successful painters 1950s and early 1960s.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Jean-Claude Van Damme Pic ‘Swelter’ Sells Out; ‘Rising Star’ Headed To Hungary; More
The Exchange Sells Out Jean-Claude Van Damme Pic ‘Swelter’
Jean-Claude Van Damme starrer Swelter had a hot run at the recent AFM. Sales company The Exchange says the film sold out worldwide with a North American deal currently under negotiation. The Muscles from Brussels is joined in the film by Alfred Molina, Lennie James, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Freya Tingley. Keith Parmer (Mob Rules) is director on the movie that sees a group of notorious Las Vegas casino robbers seeking out their former accomplice who’s now a cop with no memory of his past. Swelter is the first completed movie financed by Exchange Peaks Film Capital, a fund that’s financed by production outfit Grand Peaks and run by The Exchange. Among the territory deals secured during the AFM are the UK (Anchor Bay), Germany/Switzerland (Planet Media), Latin America (Swen), France (Happy Audience), Japan (Culture Convenience Club), Australia/NZ (Transmission), South Korea (Sonamu Pictures) and Singapore (Shaw), among many others. Exec producers are Grand Peaks’ Don Simpson and Nat McCormick, Laura Ivey and Brian O’Shea from The Exchange. Film Invaders’ Eleonore Dailly, Alan Simpson and Chris Ranta are producers.
‘Rising Star’ World Tour’s Latest Stop Is Hungary
Keshet International‘s hot singing competition format Rising Star is headed to yet another country. After deals in such places as the U.S. — where ABC is making its own version for next summer — France, Germany and Scandinavia, Rising Star will next visit Hungary. Local commercial network TV2 has ordered 14 episodes of the show for air in fall 2014. A UK deal on the interactive talent format is also understood to be close to fruition with ITV.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012…Cannes…. Golden Globe®-nominee James McAvoy (Atonement, X-Men First Class) will star opposite Academy® Award-nominee Jessica Chastain (The Help, The Tree of Life) in the double-feature film project for Myriad Pictures, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her.
Ned Benson (In Defiance of Gravity) wrote the two scripts and will direct both films.
The love story explores how a married couple in New York City deals with an emotional, life-altering experience, from the two different perspectives of the husband, Conor, (McAvoy), a restaurant owner, and of the wife, Eleanor, (Chastain), who goes back to college. Cassandra Kulukundis (A Late Quartet, In Defiance of Gravity) is producing. Kulukundis is also casting director (There Will Be Blood, Shattered Glass).
James McAvoy received a Golden Globe®-nomination for his performance opposite Kiera Knightley in the critically acclaimed film, Atonement. Other film credits include The Last King of Scotland with Forrest Whitaker, The Last Station with Helen Mirren and most recently in the box office hit X Men: First Class. He will next be seen starring in the new Danny Boyle film, Trance, in Eran Creevy’s, Welcome to the Punch and in Jon S. Baird’s, Filth. James is represented by UTA and United Agents.
Jessica Chastain was nominated for an Academy® Award for her performance in the 2011 critically-acclaimed drama The Help. The same year she appeared in The Debt, with Helen Mirren and Tom Wilkinson, and in Terence Malick’s
Mark Padilla has joined Myriad Pictures as VP sales and distribution, CEO Kirk D’Amico announced today. Padilla has come aboard as the distributer prepares its team for the Cannes Market. Padilla previously worked in a similar capacity for Essential Entertainment. In addition to sales and distribution Padilla will be involved in the acquisition of new titles. He reports to newly promoted SVP distribution Lisa Gutberlet. Padilla started his career at S. Hirsch Co. and subsequently moved to Arclight and in 2007 joined Essential where he worked on Barney’s Version starring Paul Giamatti and Scott Speedman, Defiancestarring Daniel Craig and Liev Schrieber, and Red Dog starring Josh Lucas.
Myriad will represent the following slate of movies to buyers at Cannes:
INESCAPABLE – Marisa Tomei, Josh Jackson and Alexander Siddig star in this thriller about a man whose daughter is kidnapped in Damascus. His past puts her future – and her life – in jeopardy. Directed by Ruba Nada (Cairo Time).
A COMMON MAN – Academy Award®-winner Sir Ben Kingsley and Ben Cross star in this action thriller about a terrorist threatening to blow up key locations in an urban city, but with an unexpected twist. The film will premiere for buyers in the market in Cannes.
BREAKING THE GIRLS – Jamie Babbit’s steamy thriller follows the relationship between two young women, one who unknowingly agrees to a double murder. Starring Madeline Zima, Agnes Bruckner and Shawn Ashmore. This film will premiere for buyers in the market in Cannes.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY, HIS STORY and HER STORY – Two films telling one story, from the perspectives of a husband and wife. Jessica Chastain and Joel Edgerton will star. Shooting is scheduled to start this summer in New York City.
Thursday, February 2, 2012 – Santa Monica…. Academy Award®-nominee Jessica Chastain (The Help, The Tree of Life) and Joel Edgerton (Warrior, Wish You Were Here) have signed on to star in a double-feature film project for Myriad Pictures: The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Hers.
The love story explores a New York City couple’s relationship during a difficult time in their marriage, from the different perspective of the husband, (Edgerton), a restaurant owner, and of the wife (Chastain), who goes back to college. Academy Award® ‐ winner and 5-time nominee William Hurt (The Kiss of the Spider Woman, Syriana) is in discussion to join the cast.
Ned Benson (In Defiance of Gravity) wrote the two scripts and will direct both films. Cassandra Kulukundis (A Late Quartet, In Defiance of Gravity) is producing. Kulukundis is also Casting Director (There Will Be Blood, Shattered Glass).