The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts has set nominations for its 3rd AACTA Awards. The feature prizes, considered the local equivalent of the Oscars, aren’t as young as they seem: they’re a continuum of the Australian Film Institute Awards which were established in 1958. Baz Luhrmann’s Oz-filmed The Great Gatsby scooped 14 nods followed by Kim Mourdant’s foreign language Oscar entry The Rocket with 12. The AACTAs also honor TV and gave 10 nominations to Jane Campion’s New Zealand-set BBC mini Top Of The Lake. Along with Gatsby and The Rocket, the nominees for Best Feature include Tony Krawitz’s drama Dead Europe; Ivan Sen’s thriller Mystery Road; family pic Satellite Boy by Catriona McKenzie; and omnibus The Turning, with directorial efforts by the likes of Mia Wasikowska and Justin Kurzel. Rose Byrne is nominated for lead actress in that pic, along with Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby; Tasma Walton in Mystery Road; and Naomi Watts in Adoration. Leonardo DiCaprio is nominated as Best Actor for Gatsby; Tribeca winner Sitthiphon Disamoe has a nod for The Rocket; Ewen Leslie is nominated for Dead Europe; and Hugo Weaving picked up a mention for The Turning. That film’s ensemble of helmers has a Best Director nomination along with Luhrmann, Mourdant and Sen. The AACTAs will be handed out over two events on January 28th and 30th. Following is a full list of nominees: READ MORE »
Almost exactly one year ago, Fox Searchlight released Beasts Of The Southern Wild. The Sundance sensation was significant in many ways, but it also stood out as the only 2012 Best Picture Oscar nominee to have been released in theatres in the definitely NOT Oscar-friendly first half of the year — and coming at the tail end of June it made that distinction by the skin of its teeth. The fact is, in Oscar’s modern era at least, it’s just not wise to risk a release in the first half of the eligibility year if you want to have a serious shot at Best Picture or other major Oscars. In the last five years only seven films have managed to buck the trend (Hurt Locker and Up in June 2009; Winter’s Bone and Toy Story 3 in June 2010; and Midnight In Paris and The Tree Of Life in May 2011 were the others), and that’s only because the Academy doubled its potential Best Pic noms from five to 10. In 2008, the last year there were only five nominees, no film was nominated in the top category that wasn’t released in the second half of the year.
Of course there are exceptions to every rule, and the long list of Oscar’s Best Picture winners have included early-release films that forced voters to have longer memories: Hurt Locker, Crash (May 2005), Gladiator (May 2000), Braveheart (May 1995) and Silence Of The Lambs (February 1991). The latter was particularly impressive since you would have to go back to Patton in 1970, during Hollywood’s road show era where films played a year on a single screen, to find another Best Pic winner released as early as February. That one definitely went against the grain of thinking in the modern era of Oscar campaigns.
So with the 2013 Oscar race hitting the halfway point this week, and assuming Friday’s crop of The Heat and White House Down are not Best Pic caliber, is there anything that has hit theatres pre-July that looms as a serious Best Picture contender? I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.
OK, here’s some box office hilarity for you. Even if it’s only for one night, an adaptation of a 90-year-old novel toppled fanboy favorite Iron Man 3 as the #1 film in America Wednesday. Baz Lurhmann’s …
Hammond On Cannes: Jury Takes Center Stage As Oscar Rivals Steven Spielberg And Ang Lee ”Worship” Each Other
Once rivals for Oscar in February and now fellow jurors in Cannes, Ang Lee called Steven Spielberg his “hero” as Spielberg praised Lee’s Life Of Pi, which won Best Director over Lincoln. This mutual lovefest took place as the jury for the 66th Cannes Film Festival was introduced to the world’s press this afternoon. Spielberg, who said he hasn’t served on any festival jury since 1974 (the beginning of his feature film career) is President and has been asked many times but said the timing was finally right. “I’ve been so consistently at work, especially in the spring months directing, that every time I’ve been approached to be on the jury I’ve been working so I suddenly found myself with an open year, and so that’s why this all came together this year. I am honored I was invited,” he said. Spielberg has been to Cannes many times before with films like E.T. and most recently, Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.
Asked about being on the Cannes panel with Spielberg after defeating him for the Oscar almost three months ago Lee said, “Steven and I are good friends. I worship him. I don’t know how he looks at me, but I worship him. I don’t think any result would change how I feel about him or even myself. He’s my hero.” Spielberg responding seemed at a loss for words. “I don’t know how to answer that, except to say Ang and I have been friends for a long time and we’ve never ever been competitors, we’ve always been colleagues and that will just contiinue. And certainly I worship Life Of Pi and therefore I worship Ang Lee as well.”
CANNES: Hollywood excess hasn’t disappeared entirely from the 66th Festival De Cannes. But it will be limited to a few studios. Warner Bros is bringing Baz Luhrmann’s lush The Great Gatsby to town for opening night and a gala event. Lionsgate is organizing a beach blowout to promote Catching Fire even though it doesn’t release until November. Fox is making a big deal of the 50th anniversary of Cleopatra, partnering with Bulgari jewelers for a reception displaying pieces from Elizabeth Taylor’s personal collection after a screening of the movie’s new restoration. Even the Cannes jury met for the first time last night, rather fittingly, for dinner at the Palme d’Or restaurant in the Martinez Hotel where the chef prepared a meal inspired by jury president Steven Spielberg’s films. And of course, billionaire Paul Allen’s yacht is expected to turn up in the bay with his annual super-exclusive party falling on May 20. But it’s not all champagne and bikinis on the boats. One exec who’s on a monster yacht each year at Cannes tells me it’s a cost-efficient way to do business rather than just a showy splurge. And even though some Cannes parties can cost $3 million, Warner Bros opened its wallets.
One executive calls it ”a victory lap” for The Great Gatsby after grossing way above expectations in North America. Now the studio wants to generate buzz internationally for the film adaptation of this most American of novels. No problem, because the rules state a movie can be released in its own country and still have its international premiere at Cannes. So Warner Bros is using this glitzy platform to open in 49 territories on the weekend including France, UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia and Korea.
The full cast and filmmakers will attend tonight including Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Debicki, Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, producers Lucy Fisher and Doug Wick, and several studio bigwigs led by Warner Bros Pictures chief Jeff Robinov. In 2001 Luhrmann opened the festival with Fox’s Moulin Rouge and one of the most memorable soirées, replete with Can Can girls, trapeze artists and Fat Boy Slim as deejay. The Gatsby after-party will evoke the Roaring 20s with help from partners Samsung, Tiffany, Moët, Brook Brothers and Chivas. There’s a gargantuan structure the size of an airplane hangar set up on a jetty across the port from the Palais where locals are already lining up for the screening Wednesday night. On Thursday night, the Gatsby party structure will be home to a soirée for about 800 locals. This isn’t an official festival event; rather it’s organized by the town each year and Warner Bros agreed to leave up the Gatsby décor for it.
After two years in a row of heavily influencing the Oscar race, the 66th Cannes Film Festival lineup may make it three this year. Certainly I see very long and winding Croisette lines to pick up press or market credentials at the Palais, which is adorned with posters of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in a provocative still shot from their fluffy France-set 1963 comedy A New Kind Of Love. One early clue came when the jury was announced, beginning with President Steven Spielberg and including such Oscar winners as Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz. And if it’s not enough to have those icons prominent at this year’s fest, add The Great Gatsby‘s Baz Lurhmann whose film is the opening night event with a gala after-party, and Martin Scorsese who will also be in town for a yacht party announcement of his longtime gestating directorial effort Silence on May 16th. Certainly many of the Cannes contenders both in and out of competition are from Academy Award winners and Cannes veterans back with intriguing films that make up a high profile and potent selection with advance buzz. Competing are the Coen Brothers, Steven Soderbergh, Roman Polanski and Alexander Payne plus a slew of famous names in front of the cameras both on screen and on the Red Carpet this year.
As for the competition and key sidebars, one perennial Cannes question os whether it’s a good idea to ready or even rush a film designed for year-end release in order to play at the Festival in May. Particularly of that means risking negative reviews which can be a real buzz killer. Take, for instance, Payne’s last minute entry Nebraska from Paramount, which almost didn’t appear here. In the initial forecast Deadline posted on March 13, we thought Payne’s film fit in with the auteurist nature of the fest, it’s in black and white, and its filmmaker is quite a favorite in Cannes. (He has had only one film previously in competition – 2002′s About Schmidt – and won no prize, but he not only headed the jury for Un Certain Regard in 2005 but also was a member of the main competition jury last year.) Yet shortly after this prediction I was told Cannes wasn’t in the cards due to Payne’s fondness for long post-production time. He didn’t want to be rushed. Then the studio saw the film about a week before the Cannes deadline and execs urged Payne to put it into the festival. He took Nebraska to Paris to show to Cannes programming honcho Thierry Fremaux with just two days to go before the press conference announcing the 2013 lineup. Now it is one of the most anticipated screenings even though it ooccurs towards the end of the Festival on May 23. Paramount claims it recently had a successful research screening in Pasadena and has dated the film for November 22nd, right in the heart of Oscar season (Payne is a two-time Screenwriting Oscar winner for Sideways and The Descendants).
Conversely there was absolutely no doubt Joel and Ethan Coen would be bringing their latest, the 1960′s-set Greenwich Village folk music tale Inside Llewyn Davis screening on May 19. It is their 8th time around this particular block so they are virtually Cannes regulars. CBS Films won’t release the movie stateside until December 6, another prime Oscar date.
Roman Polanski’s Venus In Fur screening on May 25 on the last day of competition is the adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway play. It brings Polanski back to Cannes for the first time since winning his only Palme d’Or (for 2003′s The Pianist, which resulted in a Best Director Oscar). It stars his wife Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Almarac and though audiences and critics weren’t too impressed with the last Polanski Broadway play adaptation God Of Carnage, this dramatic work could be more up his alley. There’s also strong interest in French director Arnaud Desplechin’s Jimmy P: Psychotherapy Of A Plains Indian screening May 18 largely due to lead actor Benecio Del Toro’s role as a Blackfoot Indian WWII vet. (But someone’s gotta change that lumbering title.) Cannes watchers also are buzzing about new works from three directors who are no strangers on the Croisette: Nicolas Winding Refn who won Best Director in Cannes for 2011′s Drive and has re-teamed with star Ryan Gosling as a drug smuggler in the May 22nd entry Only God Forgives. (I am told Kristin Scott Thomas steals this one as his mother). And though his films don’t make much noise in theatres, James Gray is a Cannes favorite and back with his fourth competition entry, The Immigrant (formerly called Lowlife) screening May 24th with a starry cast of Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner. Jim Jarmusch brings his new Vampire story Only Lovers Left Alive which stars the always intriguing Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska . It has the distinction of being the last film to make the list and the last competition film to be screened: in the 10 PM slot on May 25th.
As always with Cannes there is just too damn much to see with many sidebar competitions like Un Certain Regard, Director’s Fortnight, Critics Week, Cannes Classics and so on. Certainly the opener for Un Certain Regard, Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring and Ryan Coogler’s Sundance sensation Fruitvale Station (summer releases stateside) are both screening on the sidebar’s first day of May 16th and are instant must-sees in addition to James Franco’s directorial outing, As I Lay Dying, on May 20th.
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 4TH UPDATE: There’s more good news at the box office for the start of Summer 2013. Domestic grosses for Warner Bros‘ The Great Gatsby (3,035 theaters) just keep going strong. Big online seller Fandango tells me this female-driven film is heading into Mother’s Day and ticket sales show no signs of flagging across the country from city to heartland. Despite audiences giving it a ‘B’ CinemaScore. In addition to moviegoers showing up dressed in 1930s period costumes, exhibitors are reporting some audiences spontaneously bursting into applause when Leonardo first appears on screen. (When’s the last time that happened?) That’s prompted some Hollywood execs to speculate this is the original Titanic crowd. Warner Bros hopes the Baz Luhrmann-directed, DiCaprio starrer ”perfectly counter-programs” all the May action movies. My sources’ latest estimates for the 3D tentpole are $19.4M for Thursday/Friday, and -6% for $18M Saturday. Hollywood is expecting an overperforming $52M first weekend for the romantic drama co-financed by Village Roadshow and based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 classic novel. The #1 film is still Disney/Marvel’s Iron Man 3 (which has the biggest theater count at 4,253) with $19.7M Friday (-72% from last Friday’s huge opening) and a huge $33M Saturday for $75M this weekend. (Last year The Avengers made an incredible $103M in its second weekend…) Before Friday, IM3 grossed $794M — international cume $581.6M and domestic $212.4M. Now the North American cume should be $287.4M through Sunday. Yowza! The only other major newcomer is Lionsgate’s Peeples (2,031 theaters), a ‘Tyler Perry Presents’ comedy not written or directed by him but by Tina Gordon Chism. It received a ‘B-’ CinemaScore and weak grosses even for a tiny budget of $15M: $1.1M Friday and $1.8M Saturday for a $4.2M weekend.
Gatsby‘s success might all seem surprising considering the film’s uneven reviews. Then again these critics — the vast majority white middle-aged men — are complaining about Luhrmann’s supposed “sacrilege” in adding hip-hop to Gatsby which of course is set in the decade dubbed “The Jazz Age”. Way to make themselves look old and out of touch. (Are these the same purists who piled on when Bob Dylan went electric? I found the music a fresh touch.) While Leo’s and Tobey Maguire’s performances are praised, Carey Mulligan’s is not. Then again there were misgivings in the media from the day the extravagant Baz project was first announced – the 4th attempt to film the novel after Warner Baxter starred in 1926, Alan Ladd in 1949, and Robert Redford in 1974. But tracking told a different story: it was strong from the day Lurhmann’s version co-scripted with Craig Pearce came on — especially heavy with females but also registering decently with men. The Great Gatsby kept improving its numbers as the full frills and very effective marketing campaign took hold. Even without P&A, the movie’s cost reportedly ballooned up to $200M. But Warner Bros claims that figure is $160M, which was brought down to $105M because of ”tons of rebates” from Luhrmann’s Australia filming location. That was then split 50-50 between the studio and co-financier Village Roadshow. (Initially the budget was $80M when Sony passed, and then $120M when Warner Bros and Village Roadshow first came aboard.)
Baz Luhrmann‘s ambitious 3D Great Gatsby pic isn’t just raking in the dough in theaters. Its Jazz Age-meets-Jay-Z mash-up soundtrack has been climbing the charts fast after Tuesday’s release. According to SoundScan, early projections pegged first week sales at 90,000-95,000 copies but now the album’s headed toward 100K by Sunday and could notch a #2 debut on the Billboard Top 200 when official results come in next week. Luhrmann, exec producer Jay-Z, and executive music producer Anton Monsted gambled on slotting anachronistic new tracks and covers by contemporary hip-hop and pop artists into the 1920s-set F. Scott Fitzgerald tale.
Listen to (and share) episode 25 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Our awards columnist and host David Bloom discuss the Motion Picture Academy’s big membership meeting, likely Oscar impacts of its new rules on foreign films; the Tony Awards nomination snubs of big Hollywood names; and the week’s new movies, including Baz Luhrmann’s sleek new take on The Great Gatsby and Sarah Polley’s autobiographical documentary Stories We Tell.
It was Warner Bros Pictures’ turn for studio slate presentations at the CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas Tuesday and President of the Warner Bros Pictures Group Jeff Robinov unveiled the studio’s packed summer lineup with its familiar mix of comedy, horror, superheroes, monsters, and sequels. Robinov looked to the future and thanked all the studio’s partners: New Line, Legendary, Village Roadshow, Alcon, and MGM (on the Hobbit trilogy). He also thanked his new boss Kevin Tsujihara who won the job of Chief Executive Officer replacing Barry Meyer. ”All of us share his vision and this will be an exciting time under his leadership,” Robinov said. Distribution head Dan Fellman initiated a bunch of baseball analogies after the success of Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros’ Jackie Robinson biopic 42 last weekend. It followed a string of 5 straight box office disappointments for Warner Bros and occasional other partners (like New Line). ”Consistency has always been a hallmark of Warner Bros Pictures. But even the most consistent player can hit a few fouls,” Fellman told exhibitors. Fellman emphasized that Warner Bros is the only studio to score $1 billion box office gross domestically 12 years in a row. And International Distrib topper Veronika Kwan Vandenberg pointed out that the studio in 2012 grossed over $4 billion worldwide thanks to hits like The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Add to that the 85th Oscar-winning Best Picture success of Argo. Plus, this year Warners Bros is celebrating the 90th anniversary of its founding by the Brothers Warner in 1923.
The season starts out May 10th with the 3D drama from Baz Luhrmann, The Great Gatsby, originally intended for the 2012 awards season but held for Summer 2013 instead. Luhrmann is still tweaking the movie which will open the Cannes Film Festival on May 15th, but sent along a pre-taped introduction – complete with music underscoring to the film’s trailer. Footage was shown at last year’s CinemaCon but this was much different and in 3D. No question it looks like another visual triumph for the director of Moulin Rouge and Romeo And Juliet which starred his Gatsby lead Leonardo Di Caprio. Luhrmann said he was inspired to use 3D when he saw a 3D screening of the Alfred Hitchcock 1950s drama Dial M For Murder (also released by Warners). Even though he said the most special effect in this movie is the acting.
Director Todd Phillips publicly chided Luhrmann before introducing The Hangover Part III trailer. “It would be nice if Baz showed up. There are a lot of directors backstage. We showed up,” he said. Phillips then fed the exhibitors’ egos by saying that comedies should be seen in theaters where everyone can laugh together. Warner’s is now referring to his sleeper smash as the Hangover Trilogy.
Next was Zack Snyder, director of Man Of Steel, who turned up with the world premiere of the film’s new trailer which will play before Oblivion starting on Friday. “There’s no competition between superheroes obviously. But if there were, he would win,” said the unabashed fan of the comic book hero. “I am sorry to even have to say this now but we shot the movie on film and anamorphic. We wanted to give your cinemas a big giant movie movie.” He also acknowledged producer Christopher Nolan’s help during their first meeting in steering him in the right direction on the film. Nolan and his co-producers Emma Thomas and Chuck Roven were in the audience but oddly not introduced to the crowd. The trailer played well and Nolan seemed pleased with the reaction when I saw him afterwards.
At 70 years old, Amitabh Bachchan has acted in more than 180 films, won scores of awards and once held the top spot on Box Office India’s highest-earning actors list for 16 consecutive years. He is also a producer and singer whose family is its own industry dynasty: His wife is Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan, who worked with legendary director Satyajit Ray, and his son is Bollywood movie star Abhishek Bachchan, who is married to Aishwarya Rai. In a nod to Bachchan’s clout at home, he recently Q&A’d Steven Spielberg for a Reliance-sponsored event during the director’s swing through Mumbai. But Bachchan had never had a role in a Hollywood production until Baz Luhrmann recruited him to play underworld businessman Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby. Bachchan keeps a meticulous blog that he updates daily and on it he recently posted the story of how he came to be cast in the movie and offered some insight into the filming. The Great Gatsby premieres in New York on May 1 and opens the Cannes Film Festival on May 15. “At the end of all this,” Bachchan recently wrote, “I would require a year to recover from symptoms of acute delusion as to what, where and why I am.” His Gatsby blog post is excerpted on the next page:
Listen to (and share) Episode 17 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Our awards columnist and host David Bloom discuss this week’s Hall of Fame inductions at the TV Academy, led by one of TV’s controversial creators, Philo T. Farnsworth; the Cannes Film Festival decision to open with Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, and likely competition films there from auteurs such as the Coen Brothers, Woody Allen, and Sofia Coppola; and Pete’s take on this week’s movies of note, including Reality, Springbreakers and If I Were You.