Global Showbiz Briefs: PeaPie Films Gets Biz And Legal Exec; Tim Bevan: Mentor; Discovery Taps Asia-Pacific Chief

Natasha Pilbrow Joins PeaPie Films Biz/Legal Department

Kris Thykier’s PeaPie Films has added Natasha Pilbrow as head of business affairs and legal. Pilbrow was formerly with the film division of entertainment law firm Lee & Thompson LLP. London-based PeaPie is in preproduction on Stephen Daldry’s Trash and also is producing serial … Read More »

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Working Title’s Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner To Receive PGA’s David O. Selznick Award

By | Wednesday November 14, 2012 @ 11:01am PST

LOS ANGELES, CA (November 14, 2012) – The Producers Guild of America (PGA) is pleased to announce that Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, co-chairmen of Working Title Films, will receive the 2013 David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures. The award recognizes a producer’s, or a producing team’s, outstanding body of work and is the PGA’s highest honor for motion picture producers. Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner will be presented the award at the 24th Annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony on Saturday, January 26th at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

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Toronto: ‘Anna Karenina’ Risky New Version Receives Standing Ovation Opening Night

Pete Hammond

Tolstoy as re-imagined by Joe Wright and Tom Stoppard came to the Toronto International Film Festival in a big way Friday night as Focus Features’ adaptation of Anna Karenina made its North American debut. “They gave us a nice little standing ovation,” said a modest Wright who told me at the Soho House after-party this film means so much to him that he doesn’t know how he is going to follow it. He had great success early in his directing career with Oscar nominees like Pride & Prejudice and Atonement (which both featured his Anna Karenina star Keira Knightley) but then detoured to different kinds of films like The Soloist and action flick Hanna. Now that he’s back in this literary space he can appreciate the success more, he says.

Related: Toronto Oscar Talk: Ben Affleck’s ‘Argo’ And Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘The Master’

Wright came up with the concept of staging the story in a theatre and then moving it in and out of that setting. It’s a unique and risky idea but really pays off in the execution. As Focus Features chief James Schamus told me, “This film is ravishing to look at.” A couple of critics have been naysayers but Schamus isn’t concerned about them. He says most will get it. Schamus plans an aggressive platform release strategy after the November 16th opening and should be relatively wide by December. Focus hopes it will draw upscale audiences who flock to this sort of thing but also younger women who may relate to the plight of Anna and the young actors cast here. It premiered in England earlier in the week and opens there this weekend.

Related: ‘Looper’, ‘On The Road’, Marion Cotillard Kick Off Festival Packed With Oscar Hopefuls

This Anna Karenina certainly is a lot different than the version MGM and Greta Garbo served up in the 1930s. Wright’s bold concept of losing some of the naturalism and putting it in a theatrical setting wasn’t in Stoppard’s script – and he had to convince the writer it was the way to go. But in the end it all worked out. He said the premiere at Toronto’s classic Elgin theatre was almost surreal since it looked like the theatre-in-the-film-in-a-theatre. It’s an instant contender for a Best Picture, Director and Screenplay slot. Knightley’s go-for-broke work is likely to land her in the Best Actress race again, and producers also hope Jude Law as her husband gets attention in the supporting category. Pic also can easily expect Oscar nominations in numerous categories including the cinematography of  Seamus McGarvey, production design of Sarah Greenwood, costume design of Jacqueline Durran, and musical score of Dario Marianelli (who is already an Oscar winner for Atonement). Read More »

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Saoirse Ronan To Play ‘Mary Queen Of Scots’ In Working Title Feature

By | Thursday August 9, 2012 @ 2:59pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Mary Queen Of ScotsEXCLUSIVE: Working Title has attached Saoirse Ronan to play the title role in Mary Queen Of Scots, a Michael Hirst-scripted period drama. Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are already talking … Read More »

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Working Title Partners Tim Bevan And Eric Fellner Re-Up At Universal Through 2015

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has re-upped Working Title Films partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner through 2015. This comes after the studio re-upped Imagine Entertainment in January, keeping the studio’s most tenured production companies in the fold. … Read More »

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Working Title’s Tim Bevan Addresses ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ Talk

On Thursday, my colleague Mike Fleming weighed in on rumors being reported as fact elsewhere that said threequel Bridget Jones’s Baby was in trouble. Mike’s sources were adamant the movie would get made this year, denied that Hugh Grant … Read More »

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Peter Cattaneo In Talks To Direct ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The Full Monty helmer Peter Cattaneo is in talks to direct Bridget Jones’s Baby, the Universal Pictures/Working Title sequel that brings back Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. Shooting begins early next year. The directing assignment has been … Read More »

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Working Title Television Sells 6 Projects

By | Wednesday November 16, 2011 @ 11:23am PST
Nellie Andreeva

In its second full development cycle, Working Title Television has sold six series projects in broadcast and cable. This is the largest slate in the 21-month history of the TV production company, a joint venture between NBCUniversal International and Working Title Films’ Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner that in July tapped Daniel Pipski as its new head. Four of Working Title TV’s six projects are at NBC and Universal Television, which have a first-look deal with the company through the joint venture arrangement: dramas We, The Potters written by David Sussman, McMafia written by Matt Johnson & John Turman and Gypsy Tea Room written by Chris Monger, and comedy My Nuclear Family penned by Lucy Dahl. Universal TV also produces The Outside Man, a light drama Working Title TV has in the works at NBCU’s flagship cable network USA with Matt Johnson and John Turman writing. The company’s remaining project, thriller drama Off The Grid, was set up at ABC before the recent relaunch of the former NBC production arm as a full-fledged studio producing for all networks, so it will be shepherded through ABC Studios. Read More »

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Eddie Redmayne Joins ‘Les Miserables’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Hot off My Week With Marilyn, Eddie Redmayne has been set to play the role of Marius in Les Miserables, the Tom Hooper-directed musical for Universal Pictures that stars Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert … Read More »

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Anne Hathaway Joins Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe In ‘Les Miserables’

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Anne Hathaway has closed a deal to join Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe in Les Miserables, the Universal Pictures and Working Title Films musical adaptation of the stage play and classic novel. Hathaway will play Fantine, and her participation … Read More »

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Olivia Wilde Lands ‘Rush’ Role Of Suzy Miller; Russell Crowe For Richard Burton Cameo?

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: It’s a role that a lot of actresses wanted, but I’m told that Olivia Wilde will play 1970s supermodel Suzy Miller in Rush, the Ron Howard-directed Formula One drama about the rivalry between drivers Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and … Read More »

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Cross Creek Makes Three-Year Distribution Deal With Universal Pictures

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Universal Pictures has made a three-year deal to distribute at least six pictures produced and funded by Cross Creek Pictures. The first film in this deal will be Rush, the Ron Howard-directed Formula One drama. Cross Creek, run by president Brian Oliver and CEO Timmy Thompson,  has quickly emerged as a significant film financier. They got started with the Darren Aronofsky-directed Black Swan and continue with the upcoming George Clooney-directed The Ides of March and Daniel Radcliffe-starrer The Woman in Black, which will be distributed by CBS Films.

The deal was announced by Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chairman Donna Langley, along with Oliver and Thompson.

Cross Creek is partnered with Exclusive Media Group as co-financier and co-producer of Rush, the Howard-directed drama about the battle between ’70s Formula One racers Niki Lauda and James Hunt that stars Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth and Inglourious Basterds‘ Daniel Bruhl. Peter Morgan wrote the script, and Howard and the actors shot some footage during Formula One races held at Nurburgring Race Track in Germany. It was there, in the 70s, that Lauda was almost killed in a fiery accident that is a major part of the drama. The film seems a natural fit for Universal, since Oliver’s fellow producers are Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. Both Imagine and Cross Creek have overall deals at the studio.

Aside from pictures that Cross Creek brings into the equation, the company will likely become a financier of existing Universal projects getting close to green lights. The budgets of the films will range from $15 million-$65 million, with the average film costing between $25 million-$35 million. Cross Creek is set up to generate up to four films per year, with Universal to distribute at least two of them with a wide-release commitment. Read More »

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Universal Gets Russell Crowe And Hugh Jackman For ‘Les Miserables,’ Sets December 7, 2012 Release

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal has landed Russell Crowe to play Javert to Hugh Jackman’s Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, the live-action adaptation of the Cameron Mackintosh-produced stage musical that will be helmed by The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper. Universal has slotted the film for release on December 7, 2012, right in the center of Oscar season.

The film is produced by Working Title Films’ partners Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan, along with Mackintosh and Debra Hayward. Liza Chasin is exec producer. William Nicholson wrote the script based on the classic novel and the stage play. The music is by Claude-Michel Schoenberg and Alain Boublil. Said Mackintosh: “Even though I have dreamt about making the film of Les Miserables for over 25 years, I could never have imagined that we would end up with the dream director Tom Hooper, and the dream cast of Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe as the two great protagonists Jean Valjean and Javert. Not only were they born to play these roles vocally, but they thrillingly inhabit this great score. Producing this film with Eric Fellner, Working Title and Universal Pictures is indeed a dream come true and I can’t wait to hear the people sing at my local cineplex.” Read More »

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Ron Howard-Directed ‘Rush’ Revving Up This Week On German Formula One Track

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Rush, the Peter Morgan-scripted drama about the battle between ’70s Formula One racers Niki Lauda and James Hunt, will rev up for action this week. The Ron Howard-directed film doesn’t really start principal photography until after Chris Hemsworth (he plays Hunt) completes Marvel’s The Avengers in a couple of months, but he and Inglourious Basterds‘ Daniel Bruhl (Lauda) will be around this weekend at Nurburgring Race Track in Germany. A race will be held there, featuring the Formula One classic cars that were driven during the 70s. Howard will be shooting 35mm all weekend with his cast.

This is more than just an opportunity for Howard to get generic footage on a race track; Nurburgring plays a pivotal part in the drama. That’s the track where Lauda, when he was reigning world champion and the only driver to ever complete a lap on that track in less than 7 minutes, tried to rally the other drivers to boycott the German Grand Prix race from being held there in 1976 because he felt safety arrangements weren’t up to snuff. When the other drivers voted against it, Lauda took the wheel and crashed his Ferrari on the second lap. Because it was so early in the race, Lauda’s car was full of fuel; his face was badly burned and he inhaled toxic hot gases that scorched his lungs before three rival drivers got out of their cars and pulled him from the wreckage. The film focuses on Lauda’s competitive spirit, which prompted him to get back behind the wheel despite being in severe pain six weeks later in Italy to stop Hunt from taking the world title. Read More »

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Between ‘Thor’ Turns, Chris Hemsworth Revs ‘Rush’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Chris Hemsworth will get behind the wheel to star in the role of British Formula One driver James Hunt in Rush, the Peter Morgan-scripted drama that shapes up as the next directing effort for Ron Howard. Cross Creek Pictures … Read More »

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Daniel Pipski Tapped As New Head Of Working Title Television

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Daniel Pipski has been named head of Working Title Television, the joint venture between NBCUniversal International and U.K.-based Working Title Films’ Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. He replaces Shelley McCrory, who had served as Working Title TV president since … Read More »

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If Hugh Jackman Plays Jean Valjean, Will Paul Bettany Play Javert In ‘Les Miserables’?

Mike Fleming

Universal and director Tom Hooper want Hugh Jackman for the role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. So who might stalk him in the role of Javert? I’m told that Paul Bettany is a candidate and that he read … Read More »

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‘King’s Speech’ Helmer Tom Hooper Closing On ‘Les Miserables’ As Next Pic

Mike Fleming

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 … Read More »

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Universal Acquires Hot Berlin Title ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ With Oscar Winner Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has acquired domestic distribution rights to Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Spy, the Tomas Alfredson-directed adaptation of the John Le Carre novel that stars Gary Oldman, freshly minted Oscar winner Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong and Ciaran Hinds. … Read More »

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