Check Out Our New Look

Nat Geo’s Chris Miller Takes Prexy Post At Exclusive Media Group

By | Wednesday February 2, 2011 @ 6:26am PST
Mike Fleming

Los Angeles, CA (February 2, 2011) – Guy East and Nigel Sinclair, Co-Chairmen of Exclusive Media Group (“Exclusive”), announced today that the company has brought Chris Miller on board to serve as President of Film Finance Operations for Exclusive, and as the new President of Spitfire Pictures.

Miller makes the move to Exclusive after spending three years as the Head of Production for National Geographic Films Worldwide.  While at National Geographic, Miller worked on several other high profile projects including Peter Weir’s The Way Back, a co-production with Exclusive Films, as well as on The Last Lions, a new Natural History film event by world renowned filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, to be released in North America next month.  Prior to joining National Geographic, Miller in 2001 co-founded Visionbox Media Group and Visionbox Pictures, where he served as president for six years, creating original content in digital formats for the marketplace.  Over the six years at Visionbox, Miller and the company had a hand in such film productions as The Cooler, Never Die Alone, Believe In Me, L.A. Riot Spectacular, The Illusionist, The Matador, The Painted Veil, as well as acclaimed documentaries such as Darfur Now and Arctic Tale.

“Chris Miller’s track record in the film industry speaks for itself.  We think he is an amazing addition to our team,” say Sinclair and East.

Miller joins Tobin Armbrust and Matt Jackson within

Read More »

Comments (5)

AMPAS Narrows Makeup Contenders

Beverly Hills, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that seven films remain in competition in the Makeup category for the 83rd Academy Awards.

The films are listed below in alphabetical order:
“Alice in Wonderland”
“Barney’s Version”
“The Fighter”
“Jonah Hex”
“True Grit”
“The Way Back”
“The Wolfman”

On Saturday, January 22, all members of the Academy’s Makeup Branch will be invited to view 10-minute excerpts from each of the seven shortlisted films. Following the screenings, members will vote to nominate three films for final Oscar consideration.

The 83rd Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2010 will be presented on Sunday, February 27, 2011, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Comments (0)

OSCAR: Voters Receive Final 2010 Screener

Pete Hammond

Here’s the story of an Oscar campaign aiming not to be first, but dead last: Academy members have begun receiving what is believed – and intentionally planned – to be the final screener of the season, Peter Weir’s independently produced and distributed adventure epic The Way Back. For those with short memories, the first screeners mailed this awards season were Sony Pictures Classics’ Mother And Child and Animal Kingdom on September 28th. The Way Back is one of four indie dramas making up the final quartet of 2010 contender releases in limited runs beginning today. The others, all in theatres more easily accessed on the Academy voter-centric Westside of Los Angeles are Roadside Attractions’ Biutiful, Sony Pictures Classics’ Another Year and The Weinstein Company’s Blue Valentine. But awards strategists for The Way Back‘s distributor, Newmarket, decided to hold back mailing the DVD screener to Oscar voters until Monday of this holiday week, the same day nominating ballots were also being mailed by the Academy. The thinking was that, rather than getting lost in the pile of hopeful discs, it would be fresh in mind just as members start thinking seriously about filling out their ballot. As one of the film’s strategists told me today, “We think voters will take notice of it coming at the tail end of the screener process and be curious to watch it, particularly since it is a film by Peter Weir who has been nominated … Read More »

Comments (17)

‘Man On A Ledge’ Adds Ed Harris And Titus Welliver

Mike Fleming

Ed Harris has joined the cast of Summit Entertainment’s Asger Leth-directed thriller Man On A Ledge. Titus Welliver, who’s pulling double duty as an Irish arms dealer on Sons of Anarchy and also on The Good Wife, has also joined the cast that now includes Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell and Anthony Mackie. Harris, who appears in two Oscar season films: Peter Weir’s The Way Back and Touching Home, plays a powerful businessman who is integral to the plot of a disgraced ex-cop who threatens to jump off the ledge of a building, while his brother pulls a heist nearby. Welliver plays a touch Bronx detective in charge of the crime scene.

Comments (0)

OSCAR: Director Peter Weir To Get Another Shot With ‘The Way Back’ Qualifying Run

Pete Hammond

In my September 3rd post about The Way Back’s world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, I indicated that Newmarket would likely be scheduling a December Oscar qualifying run before a wider release date on January 21st. It was never locked in stone – until today when it was confirmed that director Peter Weir’s epic story of a group of prisoners who escape a Siberian gulag and walk through five different countries to freedom will indeed platform in Los Angeles on December 29th. The film gets a wider release on 500 screens January 21st shortly before the Academy Awards nominations are announced. Read More »

Comments (6)

Chris Ball Hatches Wrekin Hill, Will Release Peter Weir’s ‘The Way Back’

By | Thursday September 30, 2010 @ 8:02pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Chris Ball, Newmarket president and co-founder, will leave to form Wrekin Hill Entertainment, a new specialty film production and distribution label. Ball will continue his association with Newmarket’s owner, Exclusive Media Group, getting the new shingle started by releasing the Peter Weir-directed The Way Back, the harrowing period survival tale that stars Ed Harris, Jim Sturgess, Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong and Colin Farrell. Wreckin will also release the Billy Joel documentary The Last Play at Shea. Both pictures were financed by Exclusive. Wrekin will also release Hesher, the Sundance Film Festival acquisition Hesher, starring Joseph Gordon Levitt, Natalie Portman and Rainn Wilson. All three films will be released in tandem by Newmaket and Wrekin Hill, but the latter will be the active shingle.

Ball will be joined at Wrekin Hill by longtime Newmarket colleagues Rene Cogan, who was Newmarket COO-CFO and John Crye, who had been Newmarket’s president of production and acquisitions.

The move comes at a time when Exclusive is building up its US theatrical releasing business. The overall company, funded by Cyrte Investments, is spearheaded by co-chairmen Nigel Sinclair and Guy East. Exclusive’s first production is Weir’s The Way Back, while sister division Hammer Films produced Let Me In, the remake of Let The Right One In. The third production division is Spitfire Pictures, which mostly focuses on documentaries like Last Play at Shea, which focused on Joel’s final concert … Read More »

Comments (3)

Weir’s ‘The Way Back’ Has Telluride World Premiere: But Will Oscar Campaign Follow?

Pete Hammond

TELLURIDE: Peter Weir’s The Way Back is about an epic journey of survival, an appropriate metaphor for the film’s own treacherous journey through the current wobbly state of the movie industry which just didn’t seem to know what to do with this stunning adventure, the kind of movie Hollywood used to make all the time. Finally yesterday, as many were arriving for the Telluride Film Festival, Newmarket announced it will handle  the film for U.S. release just after the first of the year. It coincided with Telluride’s career tribute to Weir today and the World Premiere (the only fall festival slot for the film) tonight. My interview with Weir is below.

Produced under the Exclusive Films label (which owns Newmarket) and co-produced by National Geographic Entertainment and Imagenation Abu Dhabi, Weir’s The Way Back is currently planned for a fairly wide break on over 600 screens on January 21, according to Newmarket’s VP of acquisitions John Crye. It’s a particularly aggressive rollout for the indie company whose past distribution successes have included such award magnets as Memento, Monster, Whale Rider, and Mel Gibson’s controversial blockbuster The Passion Of The Christ. With this kind of DNA, it would seem natural that part of the master plan would also include a late December Oscar qualifying run. But both Crye and a PR rep for the film would only say that is a distinct possibility even though they acknowledge the film deserves one.

Perhaps Newmarket is waiting for reaction and reviews out of Telluride. But, c’mon, it’s unheard of to open a prestigious film like this from a 6-time Oscar nominee (4 in the directing category) with a cast including Ed Harris (here in Telluride for the premiere), Colin Farrell, Jim Sturgess, and Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Lovely Bones) in the middle of January without trying to get some of Oscar’s fairy dust sprinkled on it. At the very least, the breathtaking and challenging cinematography of longtime Weir collaborator Russell Boyd, already an Oscar winner for Weir’s most recent film, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (nominated for 10 Academy Awards in 2003) would seem a slam dunk. But the film has many other attributes as well, including those actors and Weir’s impeccable direction. Which is why Telluride Fest directors Gary Meyer and Tom Luddy said the film was an obvious choice the minute they saw it.

When I talked to Peter Weir earlier today in advance of his career tribute and the World Premiere tonight, he thought an Oscar run Read More »

Comments (14)

Director Peter Weir’s Film Gets Distributor

Mike Fleming

The Way Back, Peter Weir’s first film since 2003′s Master and Commander, has come off the board as an acquisition title before it screens in Telluride. Newmarket acquired U.S. rights and will distribute the film next January. It doesn’t exactly count as a real acquisition, since Newmarket is owned by Exclusive Media Group, which financed a film that was shopped for a long time. The cast is strong but the subject matter grueling. Colin Farrell, Ed Harris, Jim Sturgess and Saoirse Ronan star in the fact-based tale of prisoners who escape from a Siberian gulag and walk all the way to Tibet, and freedom.

It will be very interesting to see such tough subject matter in the hands of an iconic filmmaker like Weir, who has shown mastery on tough subjects in films like Gallipoli and The Year of Living Dangerously. Just as it will be interesting to see what Danny Boyle does with 127 Hours, where James Franco plays Aron Ralston, the hiker who was forced to cut off his arm after it was pinned for days under a boulder, and who then walked down the mountain and lived to tell about it.

Newmarket also acquired and will release through early next year prestige festival pickups Agora, Creation and Hesher. The indie community is hoping Newmarket can reestablish itself as a formidable distribution company–its past successes under other regimes include The Passion of the Christ, Memento and The Prestige–and those questions should be answered soon enough.

Comments (8)