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Berlin: So Much For Bad Blood Between Harvey And Megan Ellison; TWC Acquires Wong Kar Wai’s ‘The Grandmaster’

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: I’ve read about the supposed bad blood between Harvey Weinstein and Annapurna Pictures principal Megan Ellison over the subpar box office grosses of The Master. But any idea they’re not doing business together seems to be a bit crunched by a new deal they’ve just made. The Weinstein Company has acquired all rights in the U.S. and English-speaking Canadian territories from Annapurna on Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster, which premieres tonight as the opening film at the Berlin Film Festival. TWC also landed rights to Australia, New Zealand, and the UK from Wild Bunch.

The Grandmaster, written by Wong, Zou Jingzhi, and Xu Haofeng, was executive produced by Ellison (she has money in the movie), and produced by Jacky Pang and Wong. The film opened to critical praise last month in China and has just reached over $50 million at the box office there, making it the director’s highest-grossing film in his career.

I’m sure there is uneasiness between Ellison and Weinstein. In an interview I did with him at Sundance, Weinstein acknowledged their mutual disappointment over The Master and how it didn’t break out, with Ellison not coming near recouping the $35 million or so that she spent to make the film. In hindsight, Weinstein felt he could have helped by selling the more relate-able theme of the homebound warrior who’s lost and looking for something to believe in, rather than the origins of Scientology theme that stuck with the film and didn’t get a strong response.

It is an epic martial arts drama set against the tumultuous backdrop of 1930s China and inspired by the life and times of the legendary IP Man (Tony Leung), mentor to Bruce Lee. The story focuses on two kung fu masters, IP Man, and Gong Er, and as their worlds collide on the night of the Japanese invasion in 1936. The plot encompasses themes of war, family, revenge, desire, love, and memory. The all-star cast headed by Tony Leung Chiu Wa also includes Ziyi Zhang, Chang Chen, Xiao Shengyang and Song Hye Kyo as well as hundreds of Asia’s top martial artists. Read More »

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Cannes Planning Surprise Screening Of Non-Fest Films; What’s On The List?

EXCLUSIVE: In a move that would amount to the Cannes Film Festival‘s very own clip reel of unfinished upcoming movies, Deadline has heard that a screening of footage from select films will take place in an official venue on Thursday. Details are scarce, but pics that could be in the surprise pack include Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Impossible, the tsunami movie starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, and Wong Kar Wai’s martial arts bio The Grandmasters. Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master might also be included, although the Weinsteins showed footage from those films last night. Other films are expected to be in the mix for what we hear will be an hourlong showing that will be open to all accredited fest attendees. This is a new move for the festival and could drum up some extra heat. The screening, Deadline understands, will take place at the Salle du Soixantième — the same venue where the roof was damaged by heavy winds the other day. Only this time, the festival will look to blow the roof off on purpose.

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Wong Kar-Wai’s ‘The Grandmasters’ Will Not Be Ready For Cannes…Or Venice…

Wong Kar-Wai The GrandmastersEvery year around this time, speculation as to what films will make the cut for the Cannes Film Festival reaches a fever pitch. Titles roundly tipped as near shoo-ins this year include Walter Salles’ On The Road, David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond The Pines, Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond The Hills and Michael Haneke’s Amour. Also oft-cited are Ken Loach’s Angel’s Share and possibly Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly (which would set Brad Pitt up for his umpteenth consecutive red carpet stroll) and possibly even the latest Terrence Malick. However, I can confirm that Wong Kar-Wai’s The Grandmasters will not be ready in time despite longtime hunches to the contrary. Vincent Maraval of Wild Bunch, which is handling the film internationally, tells me not only will it not be ready for Cannes, it won’t be ready for Venice or Toronto either as Wong will still be shooting even during Cannes. Notoriously long in his process, Wong had the festival on tenterhooks a few years back when his 2046 was due to screen in competition, only the film hadn’t arrived by the morning of the screening. It all worked out in the end, but this year it’s a dead cert he’ll keep folks waiting a lot longer. Also not likely to turn up, despite speculation, is James Gray’s latest with Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner, since it just … Read More »

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