Earlier today, the London Film Festival set The Imitation Game as its opening-night gala. We now have a trailer courtesy of The Weinstein Co — which paid a whopping $7M for the Morten Tyldum-directed movie at the Berlin EFM in February. Benedict Cumberbatch stars in the story of 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 World War II. Winston Churchill said Turing’s was the single biggest contribution to Allied victory, but the brilliant scientist was later prosecuted by the UK government in 1952 for homosexual acts which the country deemed illegal. He died two years later and was just granted a posthumous pardon by the Queen in December last year. The film centers on Turing and his team’s race against time to break the Enigma code at Britain’s top-secret Bletchley Park facility. Graham Moore wrote the script. Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Rory Kinnear, Charles Dance, Allen Leech and Matthew Beard also star. Weinstein will release in the awards-season corridor on November 21; Studiocanal releases a week earlier in the UK.
The 58th BFI London Film Festival will kick off October 8 with the European premiere of Morten Tyldum’s Alan Turing drama The Imitation Game. The selection will guarantee a starry opening night with Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley in attendance at the Odeon Liecester Square. The screening will also be simulcast to cinemas across the UK. Cumberbatch plays 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 World War II. The film is a nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team at Britain’s top-secret Bletchley Park code-breaking center. Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Rory Kinnear, Charles Dance, Allen Leech and Matthew Beard also star. The Weinstein Co famously paid $7M for the film in a record-breaking deal at last February’s EFM in Berlin. It will release on November 21 in the U.S., and Studiocanal is releasing in the UK on November 14.
This is billed as a European premiere, so the film is expected to turn up at one of the fall festivals — two of which, Toronto and Venice, are announcing lineups this week. Last year, the London fest scored the Euro premiere of Captain Phillips as opener and the world premiere of Saving Mr Banks for the closing night. It’s a key venue for potential awards-season contenders to get out in front of all of those BAFTA voters, … Read More »
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.
Related: Cannes: Matthew McConaughey Talks First Movie Since Oscar Win
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.
Related: How New Version Of ‘Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby’ Found Its Way To Cannes
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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.
EXCLUSIVE: In what I am told will go down as the highest price paid ever for U.S. rights on a movie at the European Film Market, The Weinstein Company has locked a deal to pay $7 million for The Imitation Game, the Graham Moore Black List script that Morten Tyldum directed with Benedict Cumberbatch playing 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. Keira Knightley also stars in a film that will be shaped as a major release for the next awards season.
CAA brokered this deal based on a promo reel that had five bidders going after it hard before TWC just took it off the table, with the feeling that it has one of its major Oscar hopefuls for the next race. TWC currently has Philomena in the Best Picture race that will be decided next month.
Compared to the small sales of Sundance, this is a whopper. Harvey and Bob Weinstein and their team headed by COO David Glasser bested five competitors that sparked to a 15-minute compilation of scenes on a picture that has just gone into postproduction. The film also stars Mark Strong and Matthew Goode, and it’s produced by Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman. It was Schwarzman’s Black Bear Pictures label that took the risk on the film after Warner Bros let it go. The TWC acquisition team of Robert Walak, Negeen Yazdi and Dan Guando chased this script for a year. TWC’s Michal Steinberg closed the deal.
Related: Benedict Cumberbatch In Talks To Play Alan Turing In ‘The Imitation Game’
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Elevation Pictures is the new Canada distribution company from ex-Maple Pictures co-founder and co-president Laurie May. The new venture was introduced at the Toronto Film Fest today, two years after Maple was sold by Lionsgate to Canada’s Alliance Films in 2011. The announcement out of Toronto was accompanied with news of Elevation’s first distribution deal for Black Bear Pictures’ The Imitation Game, directed by Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) from the 2011 Black List script. The pic starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley will be the first in a strategic alliance between Elevation and NY-based Black Bear Pictures (Broken City, All Is Lost, A.C.O.D.). CAA negotiated the deal.
EXCLUSIVE: Morten Tyldum, the Scandinavian director who made Headhunters, will helm The Imitation Game, Graham Moore’s heralded screenplay about Alan Turing, the English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist who singlehandedly helped crack the German “Enigma Code” during World War II that helped the Allies stave off defeat. Tyldul will take on the project for Teddy Schwarzman’s Black Bear Pictures, with Schwarzman producing along with Ampersand Pictures’ Nora Grossman and Ido Ostrowsky. Moore will be exec producer.
Turing’s story, which topped the 2011 Black List, is hardly a happy hero tale. Not long after he made his contribution to toppling the Nazis in WWII, Britain criminally prosecuted him in the early 1950s for being a homosexual. He chose chemical castration over prison and was so demoralized that he eventually committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple (legend has it that Turing’s advancements for what became the computer so inspired Steve Jobs that he named the company Apple). Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: When I was covering Toronto, the big talk was all about deals for completed films. But the one script buyers were talking up was The Imitation Game, Graham Moore’s heralded screenplay about Alan Turing, the English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist who single-handedly helped crack the German “Enigma Code” during World War II that helped the Allies stave off defeat. In a competitive situation, Teddy Schwarzman’s Black Bear Pictures has come aboard to finance production of the film, with Schwarzman producing with Ampersand Pictures’ Nora Grossman and Ido Ostrowsky, with Moore exec producing.
Turing’s story, which topped the 2011 Black List, is hardly a happy hero tale. Not long after Turing made his contribution to toppling the Nazis in WWII, Britain criminally prosecuted him in the early 1950s for being homosexual. He chose chemical castration over prison and was so demoralized that he eventually committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple (legend has it that Turing’s advancements for what became the computer so inspired Steve Jobs that he named the company Apple).
The script originally sold in a seven-figure spec deal to Warner Bros, when it appeared that Leonardo DiCaprio was interested in starring. The studio put J Blakeson on the project, but the deal had a quick trigger and the rights reverted back to the screenwriter, who then got the job of adapting The Devil In The White City for Warner Bros. That’s being crafted for DiCaprio to play serial killer Dr. HH Holmes, with DiCaprio and Appian Way partner Jennifer Killoran and Double Feature partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has acquired The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic And Madness At The Fair That Changed America, the 2003 non-fiction book by Erik Larson. The studio has set Graham Moore to script the story of Dr. HH Holmes, one of the most notorioius serial killers in Chicago history. Leonardo DiCaprio is attached to play Holmes. Moore created a stir with his spec script The Imitation Game, which was acquired by Warner Bros in a 7-figure spec deal before it was judged to be the top script on The Black List that was released earlier this week.
Warner Bros acquired the project from Appian Way partners DiCaprio and Jennifer Killoran and Double Features partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher. They will produce, and they acquired the book late last year with DiCaprio attached to play Holmes, the 19th Century equivalent of Hannibal Lecter. A cunning charmer, Holmes preyed on anywhere from 27 to 200 people at a time when the city of Chicago was enthralled with hosting the World’s Fair of 1893. Holmes constructed The World’s Fair Hotel, an inn more lethal than the Bates Motel, especially for young single women. The sociopath used charm and guile to lure guests into what became known as a “murder castle,” a haunt that had a gas chamber, crematorium and a dissecting table where Holmes … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Film executive Franklin Leonard has maintained The Black List for the past six years to champion hundreds of talented screenwriters and unproduced scripts. Well over 125 screenplays have been made into movies, and they’re responsible for 20 Oscars and roughly $10 billion in worldwide grosses. Today Leonard expands The Black List by launching a website that tracks Hollywood’s most popular scripts in real time. Blcklst.com bases its info on polling hundreds of high level studio and production company executives who are directly involved in moviemaking. The subscriber-only web site ($20 a month) will expand the pool of movie professionals to include agents and directors who will identify the scripts they like best. Blcklst.com algorithms will sort them by a number of criteria: most popular, and most popular dramas or comedies of the past week, month or whatever. For example, on Tuesday night, I broke news of the sale to Warner Bros of The Imitation Game about math genius Alan Turing. It has been the most popular available new script among several hundred beta-test users of Blcklst.com over the past couple of months.
One thing, though, Leonard’s website will not be open to the general public, however. Verified membership will be expanded to include agents, managers, directors, actors, and writers who will rate scripts according to what they like best. Additionally, the verified subscription format is designed to prevent data manipulation. Interestingly, there will be no “worst of” categories. (Gee where’s the fun if there’s no trashing or bashing?) The parameters … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: To anyone with an interest in those Enigma codebreakers who helped win WWII and the math geniuses whose work led to the creation of the earliest computers, then the name Alan Turing holds quite a lot of fascination. This British historical figure most prominent from 1940 through 1955 is also the subject of a big spec script sale today. First-time screenwriter Graham Moore’s The Imitation Game was snapped up by Warner Bros in a 7-figure deal. I’ve learned that the studio outbid half a dozen indie companies because Leonardo DiCaprio ”has the inside track” to play the lead and was chasing the project. But so far no talent is attached. I hear Ron Howard is interested in directing.
First-time producers Nora Grossman and Ido Ostrowsky owned the rights to Andrew Hodges’ definitive biography Alan Turing: The Enigma and worked with Moore for more than a year to get the script just right. Moore is also a first-time novelist and his crime fiction debut The Sherlockian, filled with Conan Doyle lore, received a rave review in The New York Times by Janet Maslin. People I trust tell me The Imitation Game is the best script they’ve read in years — and they read a lot of scripts. The life story of this English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, computer scientist, criminally prosecuted homosexual, and tortured soul who committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple has it all. (Reportedly, Steve Jobs named his company “Apple” as a … Read More »