The Berlin Film Festival has added George Clooney‘s The Monuments Men to its official program. This is the second film announced by the fest which kicks off on February 6th. Both Monuments Men and the recently-set Berlin opener The Grand Budapest Hotel were shot in Germany. This will be the international premiere of Monuments Men, which is based on a true story and focuses on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by the Allies with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. The subject is especially timely given that just this week, about 1,500 works of art were discovered in a Munich apartment, allegedly including pieces by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Paul Klee, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Edvard Munch and Emil Nolde. “Over five million cultural assets stolen by the Nazis were returned to their countries of origin in the years following World War II. As the recent discovery in Munich demonstrates, the art theft of that time is as current as ever. The Monuments Men finally gives this little-known subject a worldwide audience,” said festival director Dieter Kosslick. This is Clooney’s second directorial appearance in the official program after 2003′s Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind. Clooney also co-wrote, produced and stars in Monuments Men with Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchett. It shot at Studio Babelsberg and in Berlin, among other locations. 20th Century Fox, which has international rights, will release The Monuments Men in Germany on February 20, 2014. Sony releases in the U.S. on February 7th.
Listen to (and share) episode 47 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about the fantastic spoonful of sugar and spice that is Saving Mr. Banks, which debuted strongly at the London Film Festival. They also assess the impact of the Oscar race departures by The Monuments Men and the possible re-insertion into the race by Wolf Of Wall Street; ponder the value of the heavily attended Hollywood Film Awards and look at whether James Schamus’ surprise departure from Focus Features will sell short Dallas Buyers Club.
Finally, we’ll get Pete’s take on this week’s new movie releases, including Ridley Scott’s The Counselor, which features a glittering cast and a problematic Cormac McCarthy script; the latest hijinks from the Jackass crew, Bad Grandpa; and Cannes conqueror Blue Is The Warmest Color.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Pedro Almodóvar Set For Career Honor At EFA Awards; Senator Backs Bille August’s ‘Beware Of Pity; More
Pedro Almodóvar Set For Career Honor From European Film Academy
Pedro Almodóvar will receive the European Achievement in World Cinema award at the 26th European Film Awards in December. The European Film Academy is feting the filmmaker for his body of work, including Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown – his 1988 breakout film – All About My Mother, Talk To Her and this year’s I’m So Excited. “I am very thankful for this award,” Almodóvar said in a statement. “From its creation, the European Film Academy has been very generous with me and my closest collaborators. I share with them the joy of this award.” He will receive the award December 7 at the the EFA Awards in Berlin.
Senator Film To Finance Bille August’s ‘Beware Of Pity’
Germany’s Senator Film is backing the latest feature adaptation of Stefan Zweig’s Beware Of Pity. Danish helmer Bille August will direct. August is reteaming with his Night Train To Lisbon and Goodbye Bafana screenwriter Greg Latter, who is penning the transfer. This will be the second feature based on prolific Austrian author Zweig’s Beware Of Pity. The first was in 1946, starring German actress Lilli Palmer. Published in 1938, the book tells the story of a young lieutenant who takes pity on a paralyzed girl. He cares for her and she falls in love, but he doesn’t share her strong feelings. When she learns the truth, she makes a fateful decision. There is no cast yet, but international talent is expected to join the English-language project. Shooting starts in 2014 in Bavaria, Austria and Hungary. The film will open in Germany in 2015 through Senator. Lars Sylvest and Helge Sasse are producers. French director Patrice Leconte recently adapted Zweig’s A Promise as his first English-language film. That project drew Rebecca Hall, Alan Rickman and Richard Madden.
EXCLUSIVE: George Clooney, who yesterday sent his Smokehouse Pictures partner Grant Heslov to Hollywood to show Sony and Fox a first cut of their Oscar-season period film The Monuments Men, has spent most of his career navigating the challenge of making provocative movies at studios obsessed with tentpoles. While he’s won Oscars — the latest the Best Picture prize he shared with Heslov and producer-director Ben Affleck for Argo — Clooney is also the guy who kept a photo of himself as Batman prominently displayed on his office wall, as a cautionary reminder of what can happen when you make movies solely for commercial reasons.
Working on post-production for his latest directing effort in Italy to ready for Sony’s December 18 release, Clooney spoke to me about his new movie and how it’s getting harder to make films like Monuments, Argo and the Smokehouse-produced August: Osage County. The discussion turned toward recent critical comments made by Third Point LLC hedge fund head Daniel Loeb and the pressure he is placing on Sony Pictures chiefs Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal, centered around the under-performing back to back summer films After Earth and White House Down. Loeb, whose fund controls 7% of Sony stock, is pressing for Sony to spin off its entertainment assets and likened those misfires to historic flops Waterworld and Ishtar. Though Clooney and Heslov base their Smokehouse Pictures banner at Sony, and Loeb’s influence is growing there, Clooney has never been shy about standing up to what he feels is wrong. So, buckle up.
Said Clooney: “I’ve been reading a lot about Daniel Loeb, a hedge fund guy who describes himself as an activist but who knows nothing about our business, and he is looking to take scalps at Sony because two movies in a row underperformed? When does the clock stop and start for him at Sony? Why didn’t he include Skyfall, the 007 movie that grossed a billion dollars, or Zero Dark Thirty or Django Unchained? And what about the rest of a year that includes Elysium, Captain Phillips, American Hustle and The Monuments Men? You can’t cherry pick a small time period and point to two films that didn’t do great. It makes me crazy. Fortunately, this business is run by people who understand that the movie business ebbs and flows and the good news is they are ignoring his calls to spin off the entertainment assets. How any hedge fund guy can call for responsibility is beyond me, because if you look at those guys, there is no conscience at work. It is a business that is only about creating wealth, where when they fail, they get bailed out and where nobody gets fired. A guy from a hedge fund entity is the single least qualified person to be making these kinds of judgments, and he is dangerous to our industry.”
Why is he dangerous?
Sony Pictures played it lean and mean with a tightly produced program for exhibitors at CinemaCon on Wednesday evening that put the emphasis squarely where the theatre owners wanted it — on the product. And the studio delivered as promised with an intriguing 51-minute reel showcasing their 2013 movie slate — and in no particular order. Where other studios this week have put the emphasis on summer, Sony presented a year-round picture with a wide diversity of product and more than one potential Oscar contender.
Among the previously unseen footage in the reel were brief snippets from year-end awards contenders The Monuments Men directed by and starring George Clooney and an all-star cast, along with David O. Russell’s newly named American Hustle with virtually the entire cast of last season’s Russell Oscar darling Silver Linings Playbook. Also, Tom Hanks is starring as Captain Phillips (October) from director Paul Greengrass, a true story about a ship hijacked by Somalian pirates. If this weren’t enough to whet Oscar-watcher appetites there was generous footage from 2010 Best Picture Oscar nominee Neil Blomkamp’s (District 9) latest, Elysium, which those who have seen a rough cut tell me could be another contender for the director. Matt Damon and Jodie Foster star. There’s also a Russian production of a World War II epic, Stalingrad, from director Fedor Bonarchuk which the studio is partnering on for fall release that has “prestige product” written all over it.
Matt Damon was in town today in support of Promised Land, which has its international premiere here in competition. He was flanked by director Gus Van Sant and co-star and co-writer John Krasinski at a press conference where he spoke candidly about the film, noting his disappointment that it didn’t perform better in the U.S. When asked about the petroleum industry’s pre-emptively negative reaction to the film that deals with the controversial issue of fracking, Damon said, “People were expecting a certain kind of movie to attack and then waited to see how well it did. When the movie didn’t perform particularly well, they kind of just let it go.” Then he laughed and added, “The biggest attack we got was from critics.” The movie debuted in late December and took about $8M domestically. Damon said he hopes the film will still hit a mark with audiences (it rolls out overseas from next week). “It didn’t get the reception I would have hoped for, but it exists and it will exist… I’ve had movies bomb worse than this one and then make their money back later.” Even though he’s had “a lot of movies not well received by critics or audiences” he added, “this one, I really love it. It’s in my heart and I don’t understand what I’m hearing back.”
The actor is looking forward to returning to Berlin next month to start work on the George Clooney-directed The Monuments Men – (“Everyone else is so excited because George Clooney will be with me”) – but he said he wished the city had “the international airport it deserves.” A bugaboo for visitors from the U.S. is that the airport here doesn’t have direct connections to many non-European cities and Damon had to transfer through Frankfurt to arrive on Thursday. “As someone who loves coming here and loves working here, I would love to fly direct.”
EXCLUSIVE: Matt Damon is negotiating to join The Monuments Men, the period drama that George Clooney will direct in January in Europe as a co-production between Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox. Damon joins what continues to be shaping up as an amazing cast. Besides Damon and Clooney, the film will star Skyfall‘s Daniel Craig, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, The Artist’s Jean Dujardin, Argo‘s John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville and Bob Balaban. Clooney and Damon did the Ocean’s Eleven movies together and Syriana.
The drama, which was scripted by Clooney and partner Grant Heslov, confronts the final chapter of Germany’s rule, which came down to the absolute destruction of everything that makes a culture keep its standing, including the lives that are lost and the sacrifices that are made. All of this is in danger of being lost forever as Hitler and the Nazis try to cover the tracks of a murderous regime. A crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renown works of art that were stolen by Nazis before they are destroyed.
George Clooney Sets Daniel Craig, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin For WWII Drama ‘Monuments Men’
EXCLUSIVE: What a killer cast George Clooney has put together for The Monuments Men, the period drama he will direct in a co-production between Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox. Clooney will star with Skyfall‘s Daniel Craig, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, The Artist’s Jean Dujardin, Argo‘s John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville and Bob Balaban.
The drama, which was scripted by Clooney and partner Grant Heslov, confronts the final chapter of Germany’s rule, which came down to the absolute destruction of everything that makes a culture keep its standing, including the lives that are lost and the sacrifices that are made. All of this is in danger of being lost forever as Hitler and the Nazis try to cover the tracks of a murderous regime. A crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renown works of art that were stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys them.