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.
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.”
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.
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.
“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:
The Contenders 2013: Weinstein Company Hoping Vast – And Large – Array Of Films Catches Oscar’s Eye (Video)
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 …
Specialty Box Office: ‘Mandela,’ ‘Philomena’ Holiday Pushes Pay Off For TWC; Spike Lee’s ‘Oldboy’ Bombs (UPDATED)
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.
Once again, Nelson Mandela is breaking down barriers. This time it is American political barriers for the upcoming Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom. The Weinstein Company said today that former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Colin Powell as well as 2008 GOP Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain will co-host a special screening of the Justin Chadwick-directed film at the Kennedy Center. It will take place in DC on November 20 with Weinstein Co co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, Chadwick and co-star Naomie Harris set to attend. This latest Mandela screening in DC comes the same day college students will be able to see the film for free in Georgetown as part of an 8-city tour the Weinsteins and Coke-Cola are offering across the country. It also comes just over two weeks after a special screening of the film was held at the White House with star Idris Elba among those in attendance with President Obama and longtime supporter Weinstein.
EXCLUSIVE: Here’s the first subtitled trailer for Jalil Lespert’s Yves Saint Laurent. Pierre Niney plays the titular designer who burst on the scene at Dior in 1958 and went on to create one of the most enduring brands in fashion and luxury. Guillaume Gallienne plays YSL’s lifelong partner …
Contenders 2013: ‘Wolf Of Wall Street,’ ‘Nebraska,’ ‘Dallas Buyers Club,’ ‘Inside Llewyn Davis,’ ‘Fruitvale Station,’ ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler,’ ‘August: Osage County,’ ‘All Is Lost,’ ‘Place Beyond The Pines,’ ‘12 Years A Slave,’ ‘Gravity’ & More Kick-Off Panels
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline.
Deadline’s 3rd annual The Contenders event kicked off this morning at the shimmering new Wallis Annenberg Center For the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, simultaneously launching the 2013 awards season precisely four months before the 86th Academy Awards. The spotlight fell on seven different studios/distributors and 22 films competing for awards consideration, with an overview of the Weinstein Company‘s impressive offerings getting things started in a highlight reel that felt like an Oscar contender in itself. An assortment of TWC writers, producers and directors were on hand to share anecdotes and tidbits with Deadline’s Pete Hammond, including Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler, Lee Daniels’ The Butler producer Pam Williams and writer Danny Strong, August: Osage County director John Wells, and the directors of the acclaimed documentaries 20 Feet From Stardom (Morgan Neville) and Salinger (Shane Salerno). Hammond quipped that TWC was so stocked with doc contenders this year that of the 151 eligible entries, “149 felt like they were from Weinstein.” Wells recalled how Osage County co-star Meryl Streep showed up to the first table read of ther script having memorized it and going off-book. “Everyone was like, ‘Wow’,” he recalled. “It was, ‘OK, game on’.”
Related: PHOTOS: Contenders 2013 Gallery
During a session promoting the Roadside/Lionsgate feature All is Lost starring Robert Redford in what the actor has called the most challenging role of his career, sound editors Richard Hymns and Steve Boeddeker marveled at how the film – with abundant action, a single star and minimal dialogue – was literally a sound editor’s dream. And during the following panel for the Focus Features hopefuls Dallas Buyers Club, The Place Beyond the Pines and We Steal Secrets, the morning theme of patience being a virtue came to the fore. Dallas Buyers Club producer Robbie Brenner calmly discussed how her film’s journey from script to screen spanned some 20 years – and nearly fell apart at the last minute when Canadian financing dried up.
Here’s a first look at Olivier Dahan’s Grace Of Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman as legendary actress-turned-princess Grace Kelly. The film takes place during the early 1960s when Kelly was married to Monaco’s Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth), and during a political dispute between the principality and …
Weinsteins Acquire ‘Paddington’ For New TWC-Dimension; Colin Firth & Nicole Kidman To Lead Cast Of CGI Live-Action Pic
The Weinstein Co has taken North American rights to the upcoming big-screen transfer of Michael Bond’s classic kids character Paddington Bear. Paddington will be the first release under a new label for the company, TWC-Dimension, which will see Harvey and Bob Weinstein team on films for which they share a common passion. The Harry Potter franchise’s David Heyman is producing Paddington which is fully financed by Studiocanal. Colin Firth has been set to voice the CGI bear and, in a reteam with his Railway Man co-star, Nicole Kidman will play an evil taxidermist out for revenge. Also joining the cast are Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent.
This is the first-ever live action film inspired by the books which Bond began in 1958. The story follows a curious young Peruvian bear with a passion for all things British who travels to London in search of a home. Lost and alone at Paddington Station, he meets the kindly Brown family who offer him a temporary haven. It looks as though his luck has changed, until this rarest of bears catches the eye of a museum taxidermist.
Principal photography starts this month with Paul King (Come Fly With Me, The Might Boosh) directing. Shooting is set to take place in the UK with Framestore handling VFX. Studiocanal has set a November 28, 2014 event release in the UK and will go day-and-date in its other territories that include France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. TWC-Dimension will release in North America in the first quarter of 2015. Studiocanal has international sales.
The project was initially announced in Cannes in 2012 and Studiocanal chairman Olivier Courson tells me the idea was to take time developing a script that would be a “real family comedy” that’s not just for kids.
August: Osage County bowed in Toronto to a “prolonged” and “enthusiastic” standing ovation, Deadline’s Pete Hammond reported on Tuesday. The John Wells-directed drama is the adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Tony-winning play about a dysfunctional Midwest family. The who’s who cast includes Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan …