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OSCARS Q&A: Daniel Bruhl Talks ‘Rush’ & ‘The Fifth Estate’

By | Thursday November 28, 2013 @ 3:00pm PST

AwardsLine.LogoBWAfter elevating his profile with the 2010 best picture nominee Inglourious Basterds, in which he played a loathsome Nazi soldier, Daniel Bruhl is back in the spotlight for portraying two real-life mavericks this year: Racing legend Niki Lauda in Ron Howard’s Rush, and former Julian Assange ally Daniel Domscheit-Berg in Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate. Though he says “there’s always an awkward moment when you meet the characters for the first time,” Bruhl is pleased that both of his living subjects were happy with the way he interpreted their lives. Next up for the trilingual, Berlin-based actor? Tending to the tapas bar he owns and starring opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Wright in Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man.

AwardsLine: You were able to spend some time with Niki Lauda to research your role in Rush. RWhat was the most valuable information you learned about him in those meetings?
Daniel Bruhl: I was blown away by his bluntness—something that I still envy, and I love playing characters that I partly envy. To be so 100% honest and direct with certain people, and to be fearless when it comes to solving problems or facing conflict with people face to face, is striking. I don’t know anyone who is like that. And the nice thing about him is that underneath it all is that charm, that sense of humor. The more time I spent with him, and the more times he had seen the movie, the more emotional he got. So that surprised me a bit. I’m half-Spanish, so I love hugging people. I do that all the time with friends. And he didn’t like that at first, the contact with men, and he always kept his distance from me. The first few times I stood there like an idiot. Later on, he saw me, and he said, “Daniel! Come here!” And he had that smile on his face. It’s such a relief to know that he is proud of the movie. Read More »

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OSCARS: Do Recent 2013 Dropouts Make Any Difference In Best Picture Race? Definitely Not

By | Wednesday October 23, 2013 @ 4:47pm PDT
Pete Hammond

It seems highly unlikely that films once thought since Cannes to be potential Best Picture Oscar contenders — The Weinstein Co’s Grace Of Monaco and The Immigrant, both highly touted in May — would have made the Academy’s final list, even if it goes for the full 10 nominees this year. And no one is missing them now that they’ve moved on.

The real “SHOCKER” as some breathless headlines stated yesterday, was the decision by George Clooney and Grant Heslov, who won the Best Picture Oscar just last year for Argo, to move their planned December release of the World War II thriller, Monuments Men to February. (That decision follows a similar path Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island took a few years ago, a move that resulted in the film becoming Scorsese’s most successful ever at the box office.) As Clooney told my colleague Mike Fleming Jr. earlier today, he wasn’t in this for the Oscars and December was a good luck date where his Ocean’s Eleven and Ocean’s Twelve films had played. I had always heard from the beginning that Clooney wasn’t ever really looking at Men as an Academy Award play but rather a commercial picture — his Guns Of Navarone as he reiterated in the Fleming interview. In fact a top Sony source told me in the summer that Clooney had told them he wasn’t looking to campaign it (but the exec insisted they would cross that bridge when they came to it). Of course sometimes you can have both box office success and Oscar recognition.

Related: ‘Monuments Men’ Gets Feburary 7 Release Date Read More »

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PBS Makes It Official: ‘Sherlock’ Returning January 19 At 10 PM, Following ‘Downton Abbey’

By | Wednesday October 23, 2013 @ 9:30am PDT

UPDATED, 9:30 AM: Benedict Cumberbatch, fresh off his feature film flop The Fifth Estate, will return in the better-reviewed Sherlock starting January 19 in the 10 PM time slot following Downton Abbey, PBS announced this morning. In the UK, BBC has not yet announced Sherlock’s return date, but promises the three episodes will launch there before the PBS debut. PBS also confirmed Downton Abbey’s January 5 return. Scheduling Sherlock’s three 90-minute episodes to follow Downton, PBS said in its first-quarter scheduling news, “reinforces PBS’ move into 10 PM programming on several key nights.”

In this morning’s flurry of PBS announcements, the network made a special fuss over “Cumberbatch (The Fifth Estate, Star Trek Into Darkness) and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, The Office UK) returning as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in the contemporary reinvention of the Arthur Conan Doyle classic, created by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who) and Mark Gatiss. In a separate announcement, Masterpiece exec producer Rebecca Eaton cooed, “The genius Sherlock team has done it again,” adding, “These people are GOOD!” The Fifth Estate, in which Cumberbatch received good reviews playing WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, has nonetheless gone into the books as having the worst opening weekend this year to date.

PBS also said it was announcing a number of new programs, though we’ve known for ages that American Masters had gotten its hands on the much-ballyhooed biopic Salinger. Anyway, in this morning’s announcement, PBS also says per Nielsen that its 2012-13 primetime programming saw an overall average ratings increase of 7% over the previous season and that PBS now ranks eighth among all broadcast and cable networks “in overall general audience content.” We’ll get back to when we figure out what PBS is talking about, and we advise you not to hold your breath while you wait for numbers. PBS also claimed this morning it is now surpassed, in this PBS metric, by only the four major broadcast networks, USA, Univision, and Disney — overtaking ESPN, History and TNT in the ratings. Previously, PBS says, it ranked No. 11.

PBS’s upcoming primetime schedule is, per usual, thick with Brit on Sundays, science and nature shows on Wednesday, and arts and performance programming on Fridays: Read More »

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Halloween Horror: ‘Carrie’ Falls Flat After ‘Gravity’ Wins 3rd Weekend And #1 Global, ‘Escape Plan’ Trapped, ‘Fifth Estate’ Flops

By | Sunday October 20, 2013 @ 12:00pm PDT

Technical problems delayed box office updates.

SUNDAY NOON, 5TH UPDATEFirst the good news: Warner Bros’ Gravity continued Box Office Results Carrieto defy the laws of box office playing in the widest release of 3,820 theaters. The only question mark was whether the Alfonso Cuaron/Sandra Bullock 3D space drama could orbit #1 for its 3rd straight domestic weekend despite a trio of newcomers in the marketplace. But none of the openers could muster strong openings or even 50% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. So no surprise Fandango reported that Gravity was pre-selling more tickets this weekend than most movies do at opening. (Remember: the studio mogul Jeff Robinov responsible for this yowza was forced out.) Its $31M weekend led a fresh $170.5M cume. Internationally pic has earned $114.2M from 51 territories for a new worldwide cume through Sunday of $284.7M and #1.

True to life or not (and many say not), Sony Pictures’ Paul Greengrass/Tom Hanks sea pirates drama Captain Phillips holds in 3,020 theaters for a healthy -33% and #2 with a new 10-day cume of $53.3M. Grosses rose a stunning 45% from Friday to Saturday. Overseas pic’s total is $9.1M from just 18 territories for a new worldwide cume of $62.3M.

But the Halloween horror is how Sony’s Screen Gems’ and MGM’s completely unnecessary Carrie remake fell flat on its bloody face. It couldn’t scare up $20M even as the only horror movie opening this October. Audiences gave it a ‘B-’ CinemaScore which hurt word of mouth. Weekend opening in 3,157 theaters was a disappointing $17M. Pic at first levitated $725K in Thursday late shows and Friday midnights and seemed promising based on matinee trends. Especially considering it was made for what the studios claim is $30M but also marketed with a full frills TV spend. Brian De Palma’s 1976 United Artists adaptation of the Stephen King classic novel has spawned a 1999 sequel and a 2002 made-for-TV movie and now this movie directed by Kimberly Peirce and starring Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore. But it’s an R-rated teen drama masquerading as a horror film and didn’t satisfy either Saw fans wanting gore or Paranormal Activity addicts seeking supernatural thrills. Both those genre pics have dominated the pre-Halloween box office since 2004. But Paramount decided to delay PA5 from this month to October 2014. Carrie was no substitute. Opening weekend exit polling showed the audience was 46% male and 54% female. with 56% under age 25 and 44% at 25 and older.

Lionsgate/Summit’s been there and done that Escape Plan (opening in 2,883 theaters) paired Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the kind of film their fans used to flock to. Um, those fans have vanished now that both action heroes are more likely to break a hip than open a movie. (Even Letterman joked it’s ‘Escape From Assisted Living’.) “Fans didn’t turn out for them individually in Last Stand or Bullet In The Head,” one exec points out. “Now audiences are rejecting them together.” Opening at #4 for only a $9.5M weekend, its ‘B+’ CinemaScore helped word of mouth. Directed by Mikael Håfström with screenplay and story by Miles Chapman with credited scripter Arnell Jesko, movie cost around $50 million because it was shot in Louisiana where there are hefty tax incentives. Summit claims limited financial exposure because it had many international presales and licensings and because Emmett/Furla was in for about 1/3 of the budget. Exit polling showed audience was 55% male vs. 45% female with 61% over age 30 and 39% under 30. Overseas, the duo earned $14.1M day and date from 25 territories for a worldwide cume of $23.9M.

Placing #7 is DreamWorks Studios’ The Fifth Estate flopping worse than forecast with only a $1.7M weekend even factoring its low 1,769 theater count. The per screen average was under $1,000, meaning each location played nearly empty. No wonder this hyperbolic melodrama earned only a ‘B-’ CinemaScore. Its multiple trailers and high-spend TV ads were as misguided as WikiLeaker Julian Assange played by Benedict Cumberbatch who deserved better than director Bill Condon. (He helmed among the worst reviewed installments of the Twilight series.) Pic has now earned $2M internationally for a $3.3M worldwide cume, including $1.4M in the UK where Assange is holed up inside London’s Ecuadorian embassy which has granted him diplomatic asylum. This should have been an HBO flock, which DreamWorks realizes now. With the exception of The Help and Steven Spielberg’s Oscar bait Lincoln, DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider just keeps presiding over disappointing openings like I Am Number Four, Cowboys & Aliens, Fright Night, Real Steel, Spielberg’s own War Horse, and now this. Given how small the studio’s annual output is, you’d think Snider could stop whining about financing long enough to oversee better product.

Not only does Assange hate the movie but he plotted to steal the tell-all manuscript being penned by his former second-in-command Daniel Domscheit-Berg which became one of the two books that formed the basis of The Fifth Estate film. Josh Singer (Fringe, The West Wing) adapted. But Condon claims credit for broadening the film’s scope to a “multiplicity of perspectives” ascribed to real-life and representative figures involved which is what critics panned as the weakest part of the pic. The project began shortly after DreamWorks acquired the rights to Domscheit-Berg’s Inside WikiLeaks:  My Time With Julian Assange At the World’s Most Dangerous Website. And then producers Michael Sugar and Steve Golin of Anonymous Content took the book to Singer who pitched the studio. “You could make several movies out of this material,” Singer has said, “but we had to choose one, and ultimately, the story of Daniel’s journey with Julian was the most relatable.” Cumberbatch donned  prosthetic makeup, colored contacts, bleached eyebrows, and Assange’s signature white hair, as well as intensive vocal work to capture Assange’s particular way of speaking. He reached out directly to Assange and established an email connection. Assange asked Cumberbatch not to do the role. The WikiLeaker was right.

Finishing in 16th place, Fox Searchlight/New Regency’s Oscar frontrunner 12 Years A Slave platformed in 6 markets for a total of 19 theaters. There was tremendous curiosity in Hollywood as to its box office potential because pre-sales showed the strongest per-screen opening of the weekend before it opens wide November 1. Director Steve McQueen’s pre-U.S. Civil War drama grossed $960K for an impressive per screen average of over $50,000 a theater. Written by John Ridley based on the book by Solomon Northup) the film features a stellar cast including Brad Pitt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, and Alfre Woodward. Financed and produced by New Regency, pic is being marketed and distributed by Fox Searchlight to a satisfied audience of mostly cinephiles and African-Americans for an ‘A’ CinemaScore. Next weekend adds 6 cities and expands theater count to about 125.
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WikiLeaks Continues Anti-‘Fifth Estate’ Campaign, Posts Assange Letter To Cumberbatch Online

By | Wednesday October 9, 2013 @ 1:46pm PDT

WikiLeaks and its embattled founder Julian Assange keep trying to make it crystal clear they don’t support DreamWorks‘ upcoming The Fifth Estate. Today WikiLeaks published the first of Assange’s letters to Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays him in the October 18 release, denying the actor’s request to meet prior to production. The pic directed by Bill Condon is based on Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange and the World’s Most Dangerous Website by Daniel Domscheit-Berg and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy by David Leigh and Luke Harding, which Assange calls “toxic” and “the two most discredited books on the market”. WikiLeaks previously posted a version of the Fifth Estate script online along with a rather exhaustive memo detailing everything the film gets wrong. Here’s the Assange letter:

Related: Julian Assange Calls ‘Fifth Estate’ A “Massive Propaganda Attack”

Dear Benedict,

Thank you for trying to contact me. It is the first approach by anyone from the Dreamworks production to me or WikiLeaks.

My assistants communicated your request to me, and I have given it a lot of thought and examined your previous work, which I am fond of.

I think I would enjoy meeting you.

The bond that develops between an actor and a living subject is significant.

If the film reaches distribution we will forever be correlated in the public imagination. Our paths will be forever entwined. Each of us will be granted standing to comment on the other for many years to come and others will compare our characters and trajectories.

But I must speak directly.

Read More »

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Toronto 2013: Will Deals Take Back Seat As Buyers Focus On Fest Oscar Hopefuls?

Mike Fleming

iThe Toronto Film Festival got underway last night with the Gala premiere of the Bill Condon-directed DreamWorks Julian Assange film The Fifth Estate. Today, the acquisitions market should get going with the first screening of the Jason Bateman-directed comedy Bad Words and Saturday’s premiere of Once helmer John Carney’s Can A Song Save Your Life?

Related: Toronto: Festival Dives Into WikiLeaks Controversy With Powerful ‘Fifth Estate’

Toronto has long served a dual role as a global platform to launch prestige films into the Oscar race, as well as a place where distributors can bolster slates with acquisitions of finished films that need someone to release them. The odd thing about this year’s marketplace: the biggest challenge facing sellers is to get the major buyers to focus, because they are so preoccupied with the films they are launching in the Oscar race from Toronto that dealmaking is a distant second on the priority level. Whether it’s The Weinstein Company, Sony Pictures Classics, Fox Searchlight, CBS Films or Focus Features, everybody has a viable Oscar horse. Frankly, there is less early chit-chat about deal prospects than there is about how the end-of-year releases of Oscar corridor films will be as crowded and brutally competitive as the summer season that just passed. There are way more films platforming and playing through the winter than was the cast last year. Just as some worthy summer blockbusters underperformed because of the onslaught, upcoming prestige films will be under extreme pressure to perform.

Here, the major distributors that have the funds to create bidding battles have tons of product at Toronto. SPC’s Michael Barker and Tom Bernard have nine movies playing, and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein has six. The challenge facing sellers will be to get those buyers to wrap their arms around new product that will fill slate holes in 2014. Everybody is loaded for bear for the fall and early winter. This won’t be a replay of the times past, when films like Shame, The Wrestler and Rabbit Hole were acquired and launched from festivals right into Oscar season.

Related: Toronto 2013: How Did Last Year’s Films Do?
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Toronto: Festival Dives Into WikiLeaks Controversy With Powerful ‘Fifth Estate’ Opening Night

Pete Hammond

The Toronto Film Festival got off to a strong start with Bill Condon‘s penetrating and thought-provoking The Fifth Estate, the story of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. But it’s not a dry procedural or recital of recent headlines. This riveting drama is a character study of a narcissistic personality out of control, a man not afraid to leak everyone else’s secrets but his own. Benedict Cumberbatch, who can do no wrong lately, is brilliant as Assange. And Daniel Bruhl, who plays his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg, clearly is going to have a problem this awards season: He’s not only absolutely terrific in this role, he’s equally great in Ron Howard’s Rush which premieres here Sunday. When I told him right after the film he was going to be the breakout star of this festival, he just laughed. But take my word, this guy is the real deal and this is his year — if these two stirring supporting turns don’t cannibalize each other. As the film credits finished, Bruhl came up and hugged Condon, throwing superlatives his way. Bruhl had only previously seen a very rough cut of the film and was blown away by the final results.

Related: Toronto 2013: Will Deals Take Back Seat As Buyers Focus On Fest Oscar Hopefuls?

He should be. This film is reminiscent of the great political thrillers of the 1970s. Most will probably compare it to the recent The Social Network, since it deals with the Internet and all its possibilities, but it is far more akin to the social dramas that defined ’70s Hollywood filmmaking. In fact, let me go out on a limb: This is the best film of its kind to hit the screen since All The President’s Men in 1976Condon’s direction is reminiscent of the style employed by Alan Pakula in that film and others from the era like The Parallax View and Klute. And it moves like a freight train. Naysayers may quibble with the dense storyline but the acting is uniformly excellent (David Thewlis, Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney are other standouts). Where The Fifth Estate succeeds so strongly is in taking a fluid ripped-from-the-headlines story and making it timeless. Unlike last year’s Zero Dark Thirty, which had to completely rework its story when Osama bin Laden was suddenly captured and killed, this film is a complete character study and won’t be judged by ever-changing events. Some people may not care and that’s their problem but hopefully there’s an audience out there for a smart adult drama like this, but what you take away from it could depend what, from your own experience, you bring to it. I know this much: As a study of a person whose whole world view revolves only around themselves, this is as good as it gets. Assange has, sight unseen, already dismissed the film, but in a clever coda the movie even addresses that criticism. That’s how smart this thing is. Read More »

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Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond, Episode 40

By | Thursday September 5, 2013 @ 3:55pm PDT
Pete Hammond

Listen to (and share) episode 40 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about the many highlights from the Telluride Film Festival, including a made-over 1928 Mickey Mouse short, Gravity, Twelve Years A Slave, Tracks, Prisoners, and a revamped Nebraska. They also talk about lively tributes to Robert Redford, and the Coen Brothers with their musical muse, T-Bone Burnett, and why Bruce Dern doesn’t want anyone to call him a supporting actor for his fine turn in Nebraska. Pete also previews the Toronto International Film Festival, which opens today with The Fifth Estate, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange; the film version of Tony-winning play August: Osage County, and much more in a sprawling event that will serve as the North American launchpad for many Oscar contenders this year. Read More »

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Toronto: 300 Movies To See, But Who Will Get The Biggest Oscar Buzz?

Pete Hammond

The 2013 Toronto Film Festival gets underway in full force later tonight with the world premiere of DreamWorks’ awards hopeful The Fifth Estate from director Bill Condon. The fest will show off approximately 300 films by the time it wraps September 15 with the closing-night film, Life Of CrimeThat movie, up for acquisition, stars Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes and Tim Robbins and has added heat since its selection as the closer. It represents the last movie in which the late author Elmore Leonard, an executive producer, was involved.

Related: ‘Life Of Crime’ Director Laments That Elmore Leonard Won’t Be In Toronto

Among the true world premieres here — films that haven’t already been world premieres in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Sundance or Telluride — the most anticipated outside of the acquisition titles are those mostly sight-unseen movies expected to become major players in the awards race. They include August: Osage Country, which will be unveiled at a starry gala Monday that will include Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts; Ron Howard’s terrific car racing drama Rush, launching Sunday; Dallas Buyers Club with a buzzed-about turn from Matthew McConaughey on Saturday night; Nicole Holofcener’s romantic comedy Enough Said starring Emmy-winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus and repping one of the final films of James Gandolfini, on Saturday afternoon; Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, the story of the young Nelson Mandela with Idris Elba in the lead, early Saturday evening; and David Frankel’s One Chance, a crowd-pleaser about the Britain’s Got Talent winning opera singer Paul Potts that could be a big player in the Golden Globe Musical or Comedy race (see the trailer for that one here). One of its producers is Simon Cowell, and it screens Monday night. And although Spike Jonze’s December entry Her won’t be debuting until it closes the New York Film Festival on October 13, key press will be given a preview of clips along with a conversation with Jonze on Sunday afternoon as Warner Bros tries to put the Amy Adams-Joaquin Phoenix picture into the awards conversation coming out of Toronto.

Related: Analysis: What Toronto Lineup Signals For Oscar Race

As previously noted, several contenders that played Telluride, Venice or Cannes such as All Is Lost, Inside Llewyn Davis and Nebraska  are skipping Toronto altogether in favor of turning up next at NYFF later this month. By the way, Nebraska really popped at Telluride, a consensus favorite there doing even better than it did in Cannes competition. Director Alexander Payne told me he “tinkered” with the film for some time after its Cannes debut to get it to the place he wanted. Obviously he made the right choice. This one looks like it could be a major player at the Oscars — you can just feel it. “People just want a comedy right now, ” explained a modest Payne about the reception it received in the Rockies last week.

Toronto organizers shouldn’t be crying in their soup over pictures they didn’t get. This fest, once known as the Festival of Festivals, is already impossibly overcrowded. It’s like Cannes on steroids with way too much for any one person to see. You have to make Solomon-like choices if you want to cover Toronto in all its glory. I say thank god for Cannes and Telluride as it gives me a head start. Read More »

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TIFF: What Toronto Film Fest Lineup Signals For Oscar Race – Analysis

Pete Hammond

I was interviewing Bradley Cooper yesterday and we talked about the emerging 2013 awards season. “I guess we’ll know by Toronto what it’s going to look like this year,” he said remembering he was in back to back World Premieres there last year with Silver Linings Playbook and The Place Beyond The Pines (which Focus bought at TIFF).

That’s certainly true to some degree but in terms of Oscar tea leaves, today’s announcement of the first leg of this year’s all-important Toronto International Film Festival lineup was both significant and a bit of a head scratcher that will have awards watchers looking even more intently to Telluride, Venice and the New York Film Festival to get a more complete picture of just what this season is shaping up to be.

Related: Toronto Fest Unveils Gala Premieres For Oscar Bait Films

Though there were many expected contenders among the 17 galas and 56 special presentations listed , there were curious omissions of movies that might have seemed like no-brainers to go to Toronto. Where for instance were the expected North American debuts of Cannes favorites like The Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, Robert Redford‘s tour-de-force work in J.C. Chandor’s stunning All Is Lost or Alexander Payne‘s very well-received Nebraska? Are these movies holding out for a prestigious NY slot instead?  I would be willing to bet (call it a hunch) that all three turn up in Telluride over the Labor Day weekend just before TIFF begins.  Payne loves Telluride and goes even when he doesn’t have a film to show. Redford and the Coens would seem naturals for long overdue Telluride Film Fest tributes. Neither has ever been (of course Redford has his own little ski town festival to keep him occupied). This is the perfect opportunity for that and because Telluride doesn’t announce its schedule in advance  and doesn’t label anything as a “premiere” other fests don’t mind movies that they are debuting sneaking in there first. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: DreamWorks’ ‘The Fifth Estate’

By | Tuesday July 16, 2013 @ 10:15pm PDT

Disney just released the new trailer for DreamWorks’ Wikileaks movie The Fifth Estate being released on October 11th. Financed with Reliance Entertainment and Participant Media, the dramatic thriller based on real events stars Benedict Cumberbatch as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, plus Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney in a screenplay by Josh Singer based on the books “Inside WikiLeaks” and “WikiLeaks”. Bill Condon directs, Steve Golin and Michael Sugar produce:

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DreamWorks’ ‘Fifth Estate’ Release Date Shifts Month; ‘Delivery Man’ Moved To Nov.

By | Monday May 20, 2013 @ 6:21pm PDT

Disney announced today that the release date for DreamWorks’ Wikileaks movie The Fifth Estate has moved to October 11, more than a month earlier than its initial November 15 date. And Delivery Man has moved to November 22 from its initial date of October 4. With the shift, Fifth Estate avoids Paramount’s The Wolf Of Wall Street, Fox’s thriller The Counselor and Universal’s comedy/drama The Best Man Holiday and faces Sony/Columbia’s drama Captain Phillips, Fox’s horror pic Haunts and Film District’s thriller Old BoyDelivery Man now goes up against Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Paramount’s Nebraska.

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Julian Assange Calls DreamWorks’ WikiLeaks Movie A “Massive Propaganda Attack”

By | Thursday January 24, 2013 @ 8:35am PST

Addressing an Oxford Union debate via videolink on Wednesday night, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called DreamWorks’ upcoming Bill Condon-directed The Fifth Estate a “massive propaganda attack on WikiLeaks and the character of my staff.” Throughout the address, Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since it offered him asylum in August, had what was purported to be a copy of the film’s script — though The Guardian says he never showed it to the camera. He told students the film was “fanning the flames” of war since, he claims, it starts inside a military complex in Iran with the suggestion a nuclear bomb is being built. He then asked, “How does this have anything to do with us? It is a lie upon lie.” The Fifth Estate started shooting this week with Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange and Daniel Bruhl as his confidant Daniel Domscheit-Berg and traces the early days of WikiLeaks through to the release of a series of controversial and history-changing information disclosures. The script is written by Josh Singer and based on Domscheit-Berg’s book Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange At The World’s Most Dangerous Website, and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War On Secrecy by Guardian writers David Leigh and Luke Harding.

Related: Participant Media Joins DreamWorks For WikiLeaks Movie ‘The Fifth Estate’
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UPDATE: Participant Media Joins DreamWorks For WikiLeaks Movie ‘The Fifth Estate’

Mike Fleming

UPDATE, 10:40 AM: DreamWorks has confirmed my story, and they’ve got a title for the WikiLeaks feature – The Fifth Estate. (At right is also a first photo from the production featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange and Daniel Bruhl as Berg.) I’m putting the press release after the original scoop.

PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 9:44 AM: Participant Media is closing a deal to become DreamWorks‘ partner on the untitled feature film that Bill Condon is directing about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The studio has Benedict Cumberbatch playing Assange, with Daniel Bruhl playing Daniel Domscheit-Berg, whose book, Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange At The World’s Most Dangerous Website, was one of two books that were the primary source material for the script written by Josh Singer. Steve Golin and Michael Sugar are producing.

This becomes the fifth film partnership between DreamWorks and Participant, where Jeff Skoll and Jim Berk’s focus is to generate socially relevant subject matter. Those other collaborations are the Best Picture nominee Lincoln, The Help, The Kite Runner, and The Soloist.

Related: Q&A: Participant’s Jeff Skoll And Jim Berk

This gives a clear shot at a production start on the film at a time when there has been big interest in the rogue web entrepreneur Assange. That includes one that Zero Dark Thirty scribe Mark Boal partnered on with Management 360 and financier/producer Megan Ellison that’s based on The Boy Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, an article about Assange in The New York Times Magazine written by the newspaper’s executive editor Bill Keller. Read More »

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