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.
With Oscar season still off in the distance, the Weinstein Company has found another way to make headlines. The film-focused company is looking at spinning off its television unit as a separate entity for a potential sale or IPO, The New York Times reports. The paper cited sources as saying Harvey Weinstein is seeking a cash infusion in order to expand with one or more TV channels. The company launched its small-screen unit in 2011 with Meryl Poster, who worked at Miramax for 16 years, at the helm. NYT cited sources as saying the television unit accounts for about 40 percent of the company’s business. TWC produces more than 20 reality series including Bravo’s long-running Project Runway and its spinoffs, VH1′s Mob Wives and A&E’s Cement Heads. Lifetime last month ordered eight episodes of Threads, which The Weinstein Company is producing with Full Picture and Sara Rea Productions. Bob and Harvey Weinstein are among its exec producers. The TV unit is moving into the scripted arena with Marco Polo, a nine-episode Netflix limited series that’s filming at the new Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios for a late-2014 premiere.
Related: Harvey Weinstein Tells LA Film Czar California Is Still Competitive
EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Co.‘s culinary pic Chef is looking to add Sam Keeley to its kitchen. The Irish thesp, who’s also got a role in Ron Howard’s In The Heart Of The Sea, is in negotiations to join star Bradley Cooper, Omar Sy, and Sienna Miller in the story of a Paris chef whose career is tanked by a hard-partying lifestyle. Sober, he returns determined to redeem himself by heading a restaurant that can earn a coveted three-star Michelin rating. Read More »
Ned Benson‘s directorial debut The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby received a 10-minute standing ovation at its Cannes premiere in May. The version that played was Them, the film that Benson cut to tell a straight narrative story after two versions, Him and Her, debuted in Toronto last fall. James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain play a married couple whose relationship disintegrates when tragedy intervenes. The Weinstein Co is releasing the combined version Stateside on September 26. Six weeks later, it will put out the two earlier takes. All told, there is expected to be a big awards-season push by TWC, and in particular for the performances of Chastain and McAvoy. Viola Davis, Bill Hader and William Hurt also star. Here’s the trailer:
Well, this made me chuckle on a Monday morning. After a tease in March, Studiocanal has released a new trailer for the David Heyman-produced Paddington. The video below provides the first full look at the CGI bear with a passion for all things British who travels to London in search of a home. The UK’s Framestore, whose credits include Heyman’s Gravity, is handling VFX. Colin Firth voices Paddington while Hugh Bonneville, Nicole Kidman, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent play the live action roles. Paul King (Come Fly With Me, The Mighty Boosh) directs. The Weinstein Co’s TWC-Dimension is releasing in the U.S. on Christmas Day; Studiocanal unwraps it on November 28 in the UK.
Simon Curtis’ The Woman In Gold started shooting last week, and yesterday Deadline reported that Katie Holmes is joining Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Bruhl, Antje Traue and Tatiana Maslany in the Weinstein Company, BBC Films and Origin Pictures drama. Today comes word that Downton Abbey‘s Elizabeth McGovern and Jonathan Pryce are coming aboard with Max Irons, Charles Dance and Moritz Bleibtreu now confirmed. In his screenwriting debut, playwright Alexi Kaye Campbell penned the script that’s based on the true story of a Holocaust survivor who sets out to retrieve family possessions seized by the Nazis, among them Gustav Klimt’s famous painting, ‘The Lady In Gold’. She teams with a plucky young lawyer in a major battle to sue the government. David Thompson is producing for Origin with Kris Thykier. Harvey and Bob Weinstein are exec producers as is BBC Films’ Christine Langan. The movie will shoot for eight weeks in the UK, Austria and the U.S. McGovern is repped by the Curtis Brown Group and UTA; Pryce is with Julian Belfrage Associates and UTA.
Related: Katie Holmes Joins ‘Woman In Gold’
Heading into Cannes, the refrain was roundly the same as the one we heard going into the last big market, February’s EFM in Berlin. Whether it be from sales people, buyers or producers both foreign and domestic, there was a lament that the big projects had failed to materialize and that despite hopes to the contrary, this would be a very soft sojourn on the Croisette. One buyer called the situation a “catastrophe.” It is simply harder to pull together exciting packages, execs said, as talent attachments take longer and numbers are harder to hit. Still, if international dealmaking was in line with expectations, there was a jolt in domestic deals from the get-go. On the eve of the market, Paramount spent a record $20M on Story Of Your Life. The deal for the Denis Villeneuve-directed sci-fi pic starring Amy Adams was brokered by Lava Bear’s David Linde with WME Global’s Graham Taylor and FilmNation’s Glen Basner. Basner was also in the middle of The Weinstein Co’s landmark $7M Berlin deal for The Imitation Game. That acquisition was the real news out of Berlin, but it did not have a knock-on effect of jump-starting what ended up to be a pretty tepid EFM.
On the contrary, the sunny skies in Cannes, after two years of non-stop downpours, were matched by a solid … Read More »
Entertainment One will continue to distribute The Weinstein Co‘s feature films in Canada through December 31, 2019 under an extended output deal. Following its acquisition of rival Alliance Films last year, eOne released TWC titles including Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook and The Butler across all media in the territory. Upcoming titles include Paddington, St Vincent De Van Nuys, The Giver and The Railway Man. The new agreement also includes Radius-TWC’s premium VOD slate in Canada. EOne has about 23% of the local market and a series of 10 output deals with U.S. indies whose films make up roughly half of its annual slate. Nelson Kuo-Lee, Richard Rapkowski and Patrice Théroux brokered the TWC extension for eOne with David Glasser, Irwin Reiter and Andy Kim for TWC.
The streaming service has put together a decidedly international cast for its upcoming drama about the legendary 13th century traveler. Italian actor Lorenzo Richelmy stars as the title character in Marco Polo, which has begun filming in Venice before moving on to Kazakhstan and the new Pinewood Studios in Malaysia. Richelmy starred in the Italian dramedy Terra e vento and has appeared in other films including Fat Cat and Terzo tempo. The cast also includes England’s Benedict Wong (Prometheus), China’s Zhu Zhu (Cloud Atlas), Hong Kong-born and London-raised Tom Wu (Skyfall), Aussie Remy Hii (Treading Water) and Washington, D.C. native Rick Yune (Olympus Has Fallen). Creator John Fusco and Harvey Weinstein are executive producing the Weinstein Co. drama, which received a 10-episode straight-to-series order in January. Kon-Tiki helmers Joachim Ronning & Espen Sandberg are directing the first two episodes. Dan Minahan is exec producing and also directing two episodes. The series is set in China during the 1200s — a world replete with astonishing martial arts, sexual intrigue, political skullduggery and spectacular battles. Netflix plans to debut Marco Polo late this year.
Related: ‘Marco Polo’ Crew Mourns Ju Kun; Asst Martial Arts Choreographer Is Among Missing On Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Tom Hardy is headed to the BBC. The actor has signed on for Season 2 of gangster drama Peaky Blinders. The period series is set in Birmingham, England where the Shelby family lead the Peaky Blinders – a feared gang named for their practice of sewing razor blades into the peaks of their caps. Hardy will play a charismatic leader who presents a unique opportunity to Cillian Murphy‘s Tommy Shelby. Hardy’s last dramatic turn on the small screen was in 2009 miniseries The Take which aired on Sky 1. With Peaky Blinders, he reteams with his Dark Knight Rises and Inception co-star Murphy as well as with Steven Knight who created the series and also wrote and directed Hardy feature Locke. Knight is writing all six episodes of the second season which starts shooting later this month. It will see the Shelby family expand their empire as the 1920s begin. In November, The Weinstein Company acquired U.S. TV and VOD rights for the first three seasons with an option for others. Hardy is repped by CAA and United Agents.
While the normally freezing weather in Berlin is an annual lament, this year’s unseasonably balmy clime became a major focus of conversation. And, as they say, when people have nothing else to talk about, they talk about the weather… The notably lackluster European Film Market boasted a small handful of buzz titles and only a few headline-grabbing deals. As such, the usual whispers of “Do we really need to be here?” grew louder in the last week. Another talking point was the early-in-the-market news of a shake-up at Exclusive Media, the production and foreign sales company headed by well-respected veterans Nigel Sinclair and Guy East. And, reliably, Lars von Trier’s director’s cut premiere of Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 was a head-turner, albeit for star Shia LaBeouf‘s pre-screening antics here.
Berlin: Slow-Forming Packages, Timing & Talent Issues May Lead To Soft Market
Distribution consultant Jason Resnick mused yesterday, “It was the warmest Berlin ever, and yet the coldest Berlin ever.” Yet, no one was particularly shocked by the way business went here. Offshore and domestic deals were done, but folks roundly agreed there was a serious lack of oomph. As one exec told me ahead of the market, “Everybody is asking where the projects are.” Read More »
Olivier Dahan’s Grace Of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman will kick off the Cannes Film Festival on May 14, out of competition. There was some confusion yesterday when The Weinstein Co moved Grace off of its previously scheduled March 14 U.S. release date. I suspected this might have something to do with Cannes rather than with reported strife between Harvey Weinstein and director Dahan. Gaumont, which is distributing Grace in France, had, in December, changed its local release date from January 29 to March 19. That move was because the film had only just been finished. When I recently ran into Grace producer Pierre-Ange Le Pogam in Paris, I asked him if the date might change again for a surprise Cannes berth and he gave me a cryptic “Who knows?” I’m promised the biopic about actress turned princess Grace Kelly is a stunner. The film portrays a period in her life after marrying Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth) in 1956. Six years later, amid occasional difficulties in fulfilling her role, she was invited back to Hollywood by Alfred Hitchcock, to star in Marnie. At the time, France was threatening to tax, and even annex, Monaco. The film asks the question: Was Grace still an actress or was she really Princess of Monaco? Frank Langella, Parker Posey, Jeanne Balibar, Derek Jacobi … Read More »
The title will be The Senator’s Wife, the star, Oscar winner Meryl Streep and the producer, The Weinstein Co. The target: the NRA. The formidable chairman of The Weinstein Co., Harvey Weinstein, confirmed to Deadline today they will be taking on the NRA gun lobby head-on with a film entitled The Senator’s Wife which will star the just-Oscar-nominated Streep (August: Osage County) and other top talent in a movie he described as “the new Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” — the beloved Frank Capra film that starred Jimmy Stewart about one man’s fight against corrupt politicians in Washington. Weinstein announced on The Howard Stern Show that “they’re (the NRA is) going to wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them.” Weinstein, who has been one of the strongest supporters of President Barack Obama, in this film will expose the NRA for their behind-the-scenes machinations of what Obama himself called “intimidation” and “lies” that ended up defeating legislation that would have expanded background checks on gun sales. Shortly after, Obama, flanked by parents of murdered children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, held a press conference out in the Rose Garden, calling out the NRA, saying the organization led by Wayne LaPierre “willfuly lied” to the American people. “They claimed that it would create some sort of big brother gun registry even though the bill did the opposite,” said Obama of the NRA, and he added, “this pattern of spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose. Because those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators.” For the record, I took part in the We Are Better Than This campaign after my cousin’s daughter was murdered in the Aurora theater shooting, but my family members own guns and one is an NRA member. Read More »
After months of negotiations, Netflix has closed a deal for its newest original series Marco Polo, a nine-episode drama of politics, manipulation and deadly warfare among clashing empires. Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki) are directing the first episode before they go off to helm Pirates Of The Caribbean 5. The project, originally set up at Starz, will premiere on Netflix in late 2014. It will be produced by The Weinstein Co. at the new Pinewood Studios, Malaysia. Originally developed by the Weinstein Co. and Electus, the project received a 10-episode straight-to-series order by Starz in January 2012. Seven scripts were written for the series, which was supposed to film in China, something no other U.S. show has done, which proved a complex and difficult proposition. A year and a half later, last August Starz released the project, and it was taken to Netflix, which made an offer for nine episodes to be filmed in Malaysia. Electus remains involved, serving as executive producer and distributing in all non-Netflix international territories. Ronning and Sandberg will also executive produce with Dan Minahan (Game Of Thrones). The series, created and executive produced … Read More »
Philomena is heading to become one of the most successful independent films winding into awards season this year, and having compiled the box office for four weeks now, I have watched this film — based on true events and starring Judi Dench — steadily climb both domestically and internationally. Curious, I ventured out to see it last night and found a theater almost full to capacity on a Thursday night (the only seats left were a smattering of neck-benders in the front). After the picture ended, the audience erupted into applause. Strong, positive word-of-mouth is why. It was, simply put, a sweet surprise.
Related: ‘Philomena’ Puts Judi Dench Back In Thick Of Oscar Race
“Our exit polls were as high as anything we’ve had, including The Artist and The King’s Speech,” said Erik Lomis, president of distribution and home entertainment for The Weinstein Company. Exit polls are showing a very high 85% definite recommend, with 95% ranking it “excellent” or “very good,” and its CinemaScore is an A. After seeing the film, that is not a surprise. But its box office numbers might open readers’ eyes a bit:
Related: Specialty Box Office: ‘Philomena’ Debuts Strong
Read More »
When it comes to campaigning for awards Harvey Weinstein has set the bar. Last year the company had two Best Picture nominees and this year they are throwing a wide variety of films at Oscar’s wall to see what sticks. For Deadline’s THE CONTENDERS event The Weinstein Company produced an 18-minute reel covering a large range of hopefuls. Take a look.
Jeff Pope, who shared the Venice Film Festival best screenplay prize with his Philomena co-writer Steve Coogan, is prepping a biopic about legendary comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. The 90-minute TV movie Stan And Ollie will reteam Pope with Philomena distributor The Weinstein Co. It’s also a reteam for TWC with the BBC and UK production outfit Lookout Point (Ripper Street). The trio are collaborating on Stan And Ollie, and are already partnered on a six-part adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s War And Peace which signaled TWC’s serious push into the European TV arena when it was announced in October.
Stan And Ollie will center on Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s 1953 UK tour. At the time, the superstars, who had made 106 films together, were facing declining popularity and a series of personal issues. The UK tour was a redeeming success until Hardy was sidelined by a heart attack. When Laurel was offered the chance to go it alone, he refused and Hardy eventually roused himself for a few last, triumphant performances. He died shortly thereafter. Shane Allen, controller of BBC Comedy commissioning, calls Pope’s take a “love letter to two pioneers and enduring giants of screen comedy.” Cast and timetable are yet to come on the BBC In-House Comedy/BBC Worldwide/Lookout Point co-production for BBC One. The BBC’s Saurabh Kakkar, Lookout’s Simon Vaughan and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein are exec producers.
By Deadline’s Brian Brooks and Jen Yamato.
Thanksgiving weekend yielded a box office bounty for The Weinstein Co. and a turkey for FilmDistrict and Spike Lee in a holiday weekend with slim competition from indie comers. TWC made a pair of bold moves, opening awards hopeful Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom on 4 screens to a strong $100,306 take averaging $25,076 per screen; the drama starring Idris Elba as South African president Nelson Mandela built up word of mouth on the fest circuit at Toronto, Mill Valley, The Hamptons, Chicago, and AFI Fest. TWC also seized the chance to bump last week’s Judi Dench-starrer Philomena from 4 theaters to 835 theaters and the pic subsequently broke into the Top 10 with a $4,538 average and a $3.789M weekend. Dench stars alongside Steve Coogan in the true story of a woman searching for the son she gave up for adoption decades earlier, a heartwarming family tale that was primed for holiday viewing. Alas, Thanksgiving weekend wasn’t quite so kind to FilmDistrict’s Oldboy which in its own bloody way is also about the ties that bind. Spike Lee‘s remake of the brutally violent Korean thriller from Park Chan-Wook, stars Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sharlto Copley in a vengeance saga with extreme twists and turns not for the faint of heart. It took in a paltry $850K on the weekend, averaging $1,458 in 583 theaters.
In other openers this weekend, IFC Films’ doc The Punk Singer bowed to a $24K gross in three locations from Friday to Sunday. The company noted that the doc “sold out multiple shows in New York and LA for its debut. The documentary on punk singer icon Kathleen Hanna will roll out to the top 10 markets in December. And Vitagraph opened Caught In The Web in one location. It was a slow start with a $330 gross.
IFC Films added three additional theaters for Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy? in its second frame, grossing just under $20K for a $3,390 PSA. The feature averaged $10,620 in its opening last weekend in a trio of locations. Read More »
Ex-Dune Entertainment Chairman Greg Coote and private equity exec David Calvert-Jones have formed a new $50 million film finance fund through their Larrikin Entertainment media company. Catalina Capital will finance studio and indie projects aimed at global audiences, with venture capital pro Larry Lopez helming finance and raising capital from Silicon Valley and Perth, Australia. The Weinstein Company is enjoining and has taken a first look option on domestic distribution and international sales. Harvey Weinstein will serve on Catalina Capital’s greenlight committee. Catalina Capital is the first of two new investment funds to be announced by Larrikin Entertainment, and the fund’s unidentified first project is already in development.