UK-based financier Cascade Pictures, which launched at Toronto in September, has boarded its first feature, The Lady Who Went Too Far. Oscar-winning King’s Speech writer David Seidler is adapting the screenplay from Kristen Ellis’ biography, Star Of The Morning. The King’s Speech‘s Gareth Unwin, of Bedlam Productions, is producing. Story follows the true tale of Britain’s Lady Hester Stanhope, who rejected London society in the early 1800s to travel across the Mediterranean and into the Middle East, where she played a major role in stifling Napoleon’s advances towards India. The pioneering Stanhope was a controversial figure in her time and the film will mix elements of romance, espionage and adventure. A production start is being eyed for later this year. Bedlam is producing with support from Cascade, the BFI Film Fund, British Film Company, HW Buffalo & RPTVA. Cascade CEO Mark Fisher says, “Working with Gareth and David to bring this enthralling story to screen is the best opening scene for Cascade as a company.”
EXCLUSIVE: London and LA-based film music provider The Cutting Edge Group invests cash in film music budgets and provides or brokers services for scoring, clearances and music supervision. It then recoups from soundtrack and sheet-music sales along with licensing and royalties from ticket sales and TV deals. New director of business affairs and head of legal, Nora Mullally, joins after a 3-year stint consulting EMI Music. Her experience advising companies on commissioning, rights clearance and exploitation issues for film soundtracks includes working with the UK’s Celador Films on the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack. The ten-year-old CEG has been involved with such films as Looper, End Of Watch, Bullet To The Head, Drive, The King’s Speech, Atonement and Notting Hill.
Although the Harry Potter series has drawn to a close, the UK film industry believes the movies will continue to work their magic for years to come. In releasing its 2012 statistical yearbook today, the BFI pointed to long tail benefits from the Potter decade that include Warner Bros’ new studio facility at Leavesden and the skillbase the films have built across the production sector since 2001. The industry is coming off of a record year that saw the box office reach above £1B and total production spend hit £1.27B despite a drop in the number of films produced. The yearbook is loaded with such facts and figures – including the finding that Britons watched an average 87 films per person during the course of last year. However, while box office thrived, TV accounted for 77% of all film viewings. There were 5,570 unique titles available across UK television. Excluding pay-per-view, films were watched 3.9B times on TV – or over 22 times the number of cinema admissions. Stats put the industry’s direct contribution to UK GDP at £3.3B for 2010. International investment from films made in the UK including The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus and Wrath Of The Titans, was worth just over £1B. Outside the UK, British films earned $5.6B at the global box office, according to the report which can be found here in its entirety.
Independent British films had 13% of the market share driven by The King’s Speech and The Inbetweeners Movie. Cinemagoing habits are shifting with a record-breaking 42% of Britons opting for weekday screenings. Weekends only accounted for 58% of box office which is the lowest total in the last eight years. Takings for 3D films were down 20% suggesting that moviegoers are becoming more choosy. The BFI says people are more often opting for the format when they perceive a real contribution to the experience. DVD and Blu-ray sales were down 5% on 2010 with 152M units sold. VOD is on the rise, jumping 6.5% to £114M in transactions, although it hasn’t yet made up for the decline in video sales.
BREAKING: David Seidler, who won the Oscar for his The King’s Speech script, has signed with WME. Seidler famously waited 28 years for the Queen Mother to die after she asked him not to make a movie out of King George VI’s story because memories of WWII was too upsetting for her. He turned his work into a play, which is how the project got to director Tom Hooper. That play will be opening on March 27th at London’s West End Theatre. Seidler, who’d been at UTA, also wrote Games of 1940 and The Lady Who Went Too Far, both of which are out to directors. Seidler continues to be managed by Jeff Aghassi and represented in the UK by Greg Hunt.
The Weinstein Co in full awards-season glory thanks to this year’s Best Picture Oscar frontrunner The Artist leading the distributor’s 16 overall nominations. But the black-and-white silent film hasn’t been a blockbuster at the box office, having taken in only about $28 million domestically to date. So it’s not surprising to see that Bloomberg is reporting that the indie studio is looking to raise $150 million to support film operations and retire debt. The sources cited in the report said that amount could change, but that the loan would be backed by the company’s library and Union Bank is leading the deal. The studio restructured its debt in 2010 and has been working its way back up the ladder, winning the Best Picture Oscar last year with The King’s Speech and receiving critical praise this season with The Iron Lady and My Week With Marilyn.
Homegrown hits like The King’s Speech, The Inbetweeners Movie and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy helped drive the market share of U.K independent films to an all-time high 13.5% in a year that saw increased overall movie admissions, the British Film Institute announced today. In total, 171.6 million tickets were sold at the U.K. box office, a 1.4% increase on 2010 and the third highest total of the last decade. Gross value of box office was £1.04 billion, repping a 5% jump on 2010 and the first time the £1 billion barrier has been broken. Overall, the market share for all British films – whether they be independents or pictures shot locally but financed from abroad – hit 36.2%, up from 24.0% in 2010. Total investment in U.K.-based film production reached £1.26 billion. Spend on domestic features,
Though he’s not at the center of this year’s film awards season, Geoffrey Rush has a new prize to add to his mantle: The actor was named Australian Of The Year 2012 in his home country on Wednesday. Rush, an Oscar, BAFTA, Tony, Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award winner is also a 3-time Australian Film Institute honoree. His latest film, Fred Schepisi’s The Eye Of the Storm, was just picked up by Sycamore Entertainment Group for the U.S. The Australian Of The Year Awards celebrate eminent Australians by profiling leading citizens who act as role models through their achievements and contributions. In announcing the award, the org said Rush is “seen as a creative mentor by many” who “supports young actors and arts companies.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron will visit Pinewood studios today where he is expected to urge filmmakers to ramp up efforts to rival Hollywood by making more “commercially successful pictures.” Cameron’s visit comes just ahead of next week’s release of the findings of a government film policy review overseen by former culture secretary Chris Smith with input from such folk as Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. According to Cameron’s official website, the review is expected to suggest the UK’s Lottery funding scheme be rebalanced to support more mainstream films with commercial potential as well as culturally rewarding films. The news is likely to upset the independent film community, with director Ken Loach already appearing on the BBC today to say: “If you knew what was going to be successful before you made it then we’d all be millionaires. It doesn’t work like that. Public money should go to fund a wide variety of projects and people.” The review is further expected to propose that the British Film Institute reinvest returns into film companies with the most box office success.
‘Melancholia’ Tops European Film Awards, Susanne Bier Named Best Director, Tilda Swinton & Colin Firth Get Acting Honors
The European Film Awards just wrapped in Berlin where Lars von Trier’s Melancholia was honored with the top prize. However, it was Susanne Bier who took the best director honors for her Oscar-winning In A Better World. Cannes-watchers may recall that during von Trier’s press conference at the festival last May, the Danish bad-boy not so kindly singled out his compatriot during the now-infamous rant that made him persona non grata on the Riviera. “For a long time I was a Jew and I was happy to be a Jew, then I met Susanne Bier and I wasn’t so happy,” von Trier said back then. “But then I found out I was actually a Nazi. My family was German. That also gave me pleasure. What can I say? I understand Hitler. I sympathize with him a bit.”
Melancholia tonight also took prizes for cinematography and production design. Other winners include Tilda Swinton, best actress for We Need To Talk About Kevin, Oscar winner Colin Firth, best actor for The King’s Speech, the Dardenne brothers for writing The Kid With A Bike, Wim Wenders’ Pina for best documentary and Ludovic Bource for his score of Oscar hopeful The Artist. A full list of winners can be found here.
Is Alexandre Desplat the new hardest working man in show business? The prolific French composer who has had four Oscar nominations in the last five years is just coming off his busiest year since gaining international notoriety in 2003 with Girl With A Pearl Earring. Since then he has been one of, if not the most in-demand composers in the business with a remarkable output that made me tired just reading all the titles. Those Oscar-nominated scores, The King’s Speech, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Queen are just a tiny sample of the nearly 60 scores he has written in the last 10 years, a decade of major achievement for the now-50 year old Desplat who can probably safely say life really does start at 40. He has actually been actively composing for films for a quarter century but has only become an international household name in movie music circles since 2003. When I sat down with him at a small dinner last week he was in town just for 36 hours and between back-to-back Q&As with his The Ides of March director George Clooney. That morning he had just completed the score for Stephen Daldry’s Christmas release, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It was a rush job to be sure as he was brought in as a last minute replacement for the film’s first composer, Nico Muhly ( who despite having composed Daldry’s The Reader as well as serving as a music coordinator …
The European Film Academy unveiled its nominations this morning for the European Film Awards. Winners will be announced during a December 3 ceremony in Berlin. Here are the noms:
LE GAMIN AU VELO (The Kid with a Bike), Belgium/France/Italy
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY: Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne
PRODUCED BY: Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Denis Freyd & Andrea Occhipinti
HÆVNEN (In a Better World), Denmark
DIRECTED BY: Susanne Bier
WRITTEN BY: Anders Thomas Jensen
PRODUCED BY: Sisse Graum Jørgensen
THE KING’S SPEECH, UK
DIRECTED BY: Tom Hooper
WRITTEN BY: David Seidler
PRODUCED BY: Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin
LE HAVRE, Finland/France/Germany
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY: Aki Kaurismäki
PRODUCED BY: Aki Kaurismäki & Karl Baumgartner
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY: Lars von Trier
PRODUCED BY: Meta Louise Foldager & Louise Vesth
EUROPEAN DIRECTOR 2011
Susanne Bier for HÆVNEN (In a Better World)
Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne for LE GAMIN AU VELO (The Kid with a Bike)
Aki Kaurismäki for LE HAVRE
Béla Tarr for A TORINOI LO (The Turin Horse)
Lars von Trier for MELANCHOLIA
EUROPEAN ACTRESS 2011:
Kirsten Dunst in MELANCHOLIA
Cécile de France in LE GAMIN AU VELO (The Kid with a Bike)
Charlotte Gainsbourg in MELANCHOLIA
Nadezhda Markina in ELENA
Tilda Swinton in WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
EUROPEAN ACTOR 2011:
Jean Dujardin in THE ARTIST
Colin Firth in THE KING’S SPEECH
Mikael Persbrandt in HÆVNEN (In a Better World)
Michel Piccoli in HABEMUS PAPAM
André Wilms in LE HAVRE
Director Adrian Noble has confirmed a rumor kicking around stage circles for weeks: that he is turning the Best Picture Oscar-winning The King’s Speech into a stage play. This is not going to be a difficult transition. As Seidler told Deadline right after last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, he turned his long-gestating script into a play as an exercise to help him finish and get it noticed. A reading was held, and that is where director Tom Hooper’s parents heard it, then told Hooper they’d found his next project. It took Hooper some time to get around to reading it because he was working on the HBO miniseries John Adams. But they were right.
Oscar contenders The King’s Speech, The Fighter and 127 Hours will face off again, this time as finalists in the feature film category for this year’s Humanitas Prizes, which recognize writers whose work “entertain, engage and enrich the viewing public.” The series finale of DirecTV’s Friday Night Lights made the cut in the hourlong TV category alongside Fox’s House, Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva and HBO’s The Pacific, while ABC’s Emmy-winning Modern Family, which shared the comedy prize in the half-hour category with Showtime’s Nurse Jackie last year, is nominated again, along with Nurse Jackie, CBS’ How I Met Your Mother and Showtime’s The Big C. (The drama prize last year was split between Glee and The Good Wife.) The winners in 6 categories will be announced at the annual ceremony slated to take place Sept. 16 at the Montage Beverly Hills where comedy veteran Gary David Goldberg will receive the Kieser Award “which is given to an individual whose work has helped promote a greater appreciation for each member of the human family.” Here is the official release:
BREAKING: Looks like Universal Pictures has won the battle for the next film to be directed by Oscar-winning The King’s Speech helmer Tom Hooper. The dealmaking has started for Hooper to direct Les Miserables, a full-blown musical adaptation of the Cameron Mackintosh-produced perennial stage hit. This is the first film he’s begun negotiations on since winning the Oscar, but insiders in Hooper’s camp stopped short of saying it would definitively be his next film. I hear that’s how it will work out.
Mackintosh is producing with Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, and Bill Nicholson has written the script. The intention is to begin production before year’s end, somewhere in Europe. After the success of The King’s Speech — a $13 million budget film that could reach $450 million worldwide gross when it’s through — Hooper had been widely courted for his next slot. The Weinstein Company tempted him with Tulip Fever, and I’m told there was talk of an adaptation of Macbeth, among others. Hooper was tempted instead to film the musical adaptation of the 1862 Victor Hugo novel, the struggle by ex-con Jean Valjean to outrun his past and his relentless pursuer Javert. The musical, which opened in London in 1985, features such songs as I Dreamed A Dream, On My Own, and Bring Him Home. It is certainly a different film from Universal’s stage musical foray …
The Weinstein Company is ready to launch a PG-13 version of the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech on 1000 theaters on April 1, following an appeal and much discussion over the controversial MPAA R-rating the picture received because of liberal use of the word “fuck” in Tom Hooper’s original cut. April Fool’s Day seems an appropriate date for release because the whole thing seems so silly, but a good thing if you are a fan of the word “shit.” From what I’m told, the film is exactly the same length. What’s different? In that scene where King George VI (Colin Firth) tries a suggestion from speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) to curse in an attempt to get past his stutter, he now will mostly say the word “shit” about 42 times, instead of the word “fuck,” a word which isn’t used beyond the 2 or 3 times that is the limit for PG-13. Is this really what the movie business and the ratings board has come to? While Tom Hooper told Deadline during the Toronto International Film Festival that he wouldn’t change a frame of the film, I guess this was a way to do it without excising a moment of screen footage. Sources said that Hooper was involved in this dubbing effort that keeps The King’s Speech from carrying the same rating as films in the Saw franchise. The film originally got a 15 rating in the UK, but …
UK press over here are gushing that The King’s Speech quadruple Oscar major wins – Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay – will be a boost for the British film industry. But I would say it’s all downhill from here. Consider the evidence. Beginning next April, there will be no UK Film Council coordinating British Film plc. Tanya Seghatchian, head of the UK Film Council film fund — which invested just over £1 million in The King’s Speech — says the pic’s success is a “magnificent final chapter for the UK Film Council”. Of course, Seghatchian and her team will move across to new film body the British Film Institute, but people I’ve spoken to are afraid there will be no encouragement to invest in commercial British films such as The King’s Speech or Streetdance 3D. Instead, the impetus will be in to back arthouse movies, which is what the BFI has always done going back to the 1950s. Even speaking to reporters backstage at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, Firth called the decision to scrap the UKFC “short-sighted”. His sentiments were echoed by his producer Iain Canning, who said “it wouldn’t have been made without the UK Film Council”. The UKFC’s equity slug meant “they occupied a place within the finance plan that nobody wanted to inhabit,” he said.
Interestingly, the UK government’s culture department has …