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Amy Ryan To Co-Star In Steven Spielberg’s Cold War Pic; Alan Alda & Two Others In Talks

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 4:29pm PDT

Amy Ryan To Co-Star In Steven Spielberg’s Cold War Pic; Alan Alda & Two Others In TalksAmy Ryan will co-star opposite Tom Hanks in Steven Spielberg’s untitled Cold War Spy thriller for DreamWorks. Production is set to begin in September and will be shot on location in New York and Berlin ahead of its October 16, 2015 release date. In talks for roles are Alan Alda, Boardwalk Empire‘s Billy Magnussen and The Knick‘s Eve Hewson. Mark Rylance is already aboard.

The pic is based on the true story of James Donovan (Hanks), the CIA attorney who is thrust behind the Iron Curtain when he is sent to negotiate the release of captured American U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers. The Coen brothers wrote the 1960s-set screenplay off Matt Charman’s original script. Ryan, repped by Gersh and attorney Dave Feldman, will play Donovan’s wife. Read More »

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Fox To Fly Co-Pilot On Steven Spielberg-Tom Hanks Spy Pic

By | Friday June 20, 2014 @ 5:17pm PDT

Fox To Fly Co-Pilot On Steven Spielberg-Tom Hanks Spy Pic20th Century Fox has come aboard to co-finance DreamWorks Studios‘ untitled Cold War spy thriller, one of two pics being helmed by Steven Spielberg. Fox also will distribute the film overseas, with DreamWorks partner Disney handling domestic. Tom Hanks stars in the pic, based on the true story of James Donovan (Hanks), the CIA attorney who is thrust behind the Iron Curtain when he is sent to negotiate the release of captured American U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers. The Coen Brothers wrote the 1960s-set screenplay off Matt Charman’s original script.

Image (2) 20th_century_fox_logo__131009230834-275x154.jpg for post 741629As we told you earlier this week, Spielberg will shoot this one first before moving on to the children’s fantasy adventure The BFG; shooting on the spy thriller is set for September, with Disney setting a wide release of October 16, 2015. It’s possible with both projects in active development that they could be shot back-to-back, which has been Spielberg’s style in the past with such productions as Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List in 1993, The Lost World: Jurassic Park  and Amistad in 1997, War Of The Worlds and Munich in 2005, and War Horse and The Adventures Of Tintin in 2011. BFG has been given a July 4, 2016, release date.

Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger are producing the spy drama, with Adam Somner and Daniel Lupi executive producing.

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Ex-HBO Film Chief Colin Callender Plays Tony Poker With `Hedwig’ `Casa Valentina’, `Harry Potter’

By | Friday May 30, 2014 @ 6:00am PDT

colincallenderAbout 18 months ago, former HBO Films chief Colin Callender moved his family back to Manhattan – he’s from the U.K. and spent the better part of three decades working with company head Chris Albrecht. He’d already started Playground LLC, with producing  interests in film, television and Broadway. Now he’s got two Tony contenders: Harvey Fierstein’s Casa Valentina, which he co-produced with Fred Zollo and Bob Cole with the Manhattan Theatre Club, and the revival of Hedwig And The Angry Inch, which has affirmed that even — or maybe  especially — as a slightly-botched-job transsexual German rock star, Neil Patrick Harris can sell out the house seven times a week at premium prices.

Related: EMMYS: Awardsline Screening Series Launches With Starz’s ‘The White Queen’

But before the Tony Awards on June 8, he has another venture that literally — well, physically, at least — dwarfs both those shows: Kenneth Branagh’s New York acting debut in the title role of the Scottish play, an import from Manchester, England having a limited run in the vast, demanding expanse of the Park Avenue Armory. What was once a regimental marching hall has been converted to the battlefield opening of the play, which promises to launch Shakespeare’s drama of power, lust and powerlust with a visceral thrill. For Callender, who got his start working at the Royal Court Theatre, it’s like going from sub-atomic particles to Gravity. Or something.
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Steven Spielberg Looks to Direct Roald Dahl’s ‘BFG’, But Untitled Tom Hanks Cold War Film Likely Next

By | Friday April 25, 2014 @ 6:35pm PDT

Steven SpielbergSteven Spielberg is planning to direct an adaptation of the Roald Dahl children’s book BFG for DreamWorks, however, his next directorial could likely be the untitled Cold War thriller starring Tom Hanks. With both projects in active BFG book by Roald Dahldevelopment, they could potentially be shot back-to-back, which has been Spielberg’s style in the past with such productions as Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List in 1993, The Lost World: Jurassic Park  and Amistad in 1997, War of the Worlds and Munich in 2005, and War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin in 2011.  BFG is a project left over at DreamWorks from the days when Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall acquired the book in 2011.  E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison wrote the script for BFG.  Story follows a young girl Sophie who befriends a gentle giant. When she hears that the other evil giants are descending upon England, she enlists BFG’s help to thwart them.  In the untitled Cold War feature, Hanks will play CIA-hired prominent attorney James Donovan, who slips behind the Iron Curtain to negotiate the release of Gary Powers, a pilot who is taken prisoner after his U-2 plane is shot down by the U.S.S.R.  Matt Charman is penning the Cold War project and Marc Platt is producing.

Related: Spielberg Circling Several Projects, Cold War Thriller Among Them

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Spielberg Circling Several Projects, Cold War Thriller Among Them

By | Monday April 21, 2014 @ 10:22am PDT
Mike Fleming

spielSister publication Variety reporting Tom Hanks wants to star for Steven Spielberg in an untitled thriller scripted by Matt Charman. Not sure if this will be next, as DreamWorks poured cold water on the Cold War project when Deadline inquired a couple weeks ago after hearing it might be next for Spielberg. In this one, Hanks would play James Donovan, a prominent American attorney enlisted by the CIA during the Cold War to slip behind the iron curtain to negotiate the release of a pilot captured when his U2 spy plane is shot down over Russia. The prolific Marc Platt is the producer.

I wonder if some of these projects, including the still-percolating Robopocalypse, will eventually square things financially for India-based Reliance, which sure seems to have so far come out on the short end of the stick after bankrolling a DreamWorks venture that seems to have run its course, and hasn’t generated much in the way of blockbuster hits since leaving Paramount. Stay tuned.

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Crowdfunding Start-Up Aims To Match Big Ticket Investors With Hollywood Financiers

By | Wednesday March 26, 2014 @ 6:01pm PDT

Junction logo copyIt’s too early to tell if movie crowdfunding just got a platinum card membership level or if serious investors now have a new way to potentially reap the rewards of a hit pic but Junction Investments is looking to evolve at least one of those business models. With Midas touch producer Jason Blum and casino king Steve Wynn on board as advisors and the Tom Hanks-starrer A Hologram For The King as its first offering, the San Francisco-based members only investment start-up launched today. The basic idea is that big-ticket investors will get “the chance to invest in fully-financed movies, film projects that will get made regardless of whether Junction participates,” according to Junction. In the case of Hologram, financier Silver Reel Entertainment are offering a piece of their deal in the big screen adaptation of the Dave Eggers novel via Junction’s online platform to outsider investors.

Unlike Kickstarter or Indiegogo, the upmarket oriented Junction isn’t about  getting the pics off the ground at all. Instead it aims to allow original investors to offer Junction investors a portion of what they put into a particular film. The real selling point here is the access and that the new Hollywood newbie investors get the same terms as the original investors. Which means, unlike more wide spread reward or credit granting crowdfunded movies like the Zach Braff-directed Wish I Was Here or the recently released Veronica Mars, backers who get onboard a film via … Read More »

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Tom Tykwer’s Tom Hanks-Starrer ‘A Hologram For The King’ Finalizes Cast

By | Thursday March 6, 2014 @ 9:55am PST

TV Land Presents: AFI Life Achievement Award Honoring Shirley MacLaine41st International Emmy Awards - ArrivalsHomeland‘s Sarita Choudhury, Omar Elba, Tracey Fairaway, David Menkin and Tom Skerritt have joined A Hologram For The King, the Tom Tykwer- written and -directed adaptation of the Dave Eggers novel that stars Tom Hanks. This is the comedic drama we broke about in June, when the project surfaced with a splash. Shooting began today in Morocco on the movie, which is a reteam of Tykwer and Hanks who did Cloud Atlas together. Hanks plays a struggling businessman who heads for a rising Saudi Arabian city, far from weary, recession-scarred America, in a last-ditch attempt to stave off foreclosure, pay his daughter’s college tuition, and finally do something great. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2012. The production will also shoot in Germany and the plan is to wrap in June. Read More »

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OSCARS: Editor Christopher Rouse Became ‘Captain Phillips’ First Mate

By | Monday February 17, 2014 @ 8:07pm PST

LR-Christopher-Rouse“It seems to me the potential benefits of an editor’s early participation [in a project] could be creatively and fiscally significant,” notes Christopher Rouse, who is Oscar-nominated for Best Achievement in Editing for Captain Phillips. Director Paul Greengrass brought his regular collaborator Rouse in six months before the start of production as Billy Ray and he were still working on the script. “Paul believes [as I do] that editing is the natural extension of the writing process, and so it makes sense I would be involved at that point. captain1Coming in early allows me to inhabit Paul’s vision fully, feed ideas into his creative process, and help him pre-empt issues that could arise during production or postproduction.” The result is a Best Picture-nominated film that continuously builds up tension the moment the blips began to appear on the ship’s radar screen indicating they are being tracked to the final gunfire with Somali pirates that frees a traumatized Phillips (Tom Hanks). Rouse brought home an ACE Eddie Award for the film just a couple of weeks ago.

Related: ‘Phillips’ IS The Captain Now As It Defies ‘Gravity’ At The ACE Eddie Awards To Win Second Guild Honor In A Row
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Berlin: Meg Ryan To Direct ‘Ithaca’ With Tom Hanks Executive Producing; The Exchange Selling At EFM

By | Wednesday January 29, 2014 @ 10:00am PST

meg ryan tom hanksMeg Ryan and Tom Hanks are reuniting. Ryan will make her directorial debut on Ithaca, which will be executive produced by Hanks and his Playtone partner Gary Goetzman. Adapted from William Saroyan’s novel The Human Comedy, the film is set in 1942 in a small town in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where 14-year-old Homer Macauley is determined to be the best and fastest bicycle telegraph messenger anyone has ever seen. His older brother has gone to war, leaving Homer to look after his widowed mother, his older sister and his 4-year-old brother. As spring turns to summer, Homer delivers messages of love, hope, pain and death to the good berlinaleofficialposterpeople of Ithaca. He’ll also struggle with one message that will change him forever. Ryan will act in the film alongside Sam Shepard, Melanie Griffith, and Ryan’s son Jack Quaid. Erik Jendresen (Band Of Brothers) wrote the screenplay. Janet Brenner, Laura Ivey, Ryan and Jendresen are producing. The Exchange is handling worldwide sales and will start shopping the title in Berlin next week. Production is set to begin this summer. Read More »

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OSCARS: Who Got Snubbed By Academy?

By | Thursday January 16, 2014 @ 5:48am PST

Oscar Snubs and Surprises

A big part of Hollywood woke up early this morning to Oscar dreams of getting an Academy Awards nomination. Some like 12 Years A Slave for Best Picture, Dallas Buyers Club’s Matthew McConaughey and Gravity‘s Sandra Bullock for Best Actress were a lock. Unfortunately, for some others, they’d barely wiped the sleep out of their eyes before there was nothing to do but go back to bed in disappointment at having not made the cut. Once again, the Academy proved there’s still a wild card factor to who will and won’t get a nomination. Having said that, after all the campaigning, all the encouraging words and all the hopes, even against the odds, it still sucks to be one of those left holding a losing hand. Here’s some of the deserving actors, directors and films who were overlooked in today’s nominations announcement by AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Thor himself Chris Hemsworth:

imagesOprah Winfrey – The former talk show queen returned to the big screen with Lee Daniels’ The Butler in a stellar performance after a 15-year absence and the Academy negates her? The SAG Awards, the BAFTAs and the Critics Choice Awards all gave Oprah a nomination for her role as boozy Gloria Gaines, the Butler’s wife, but not the Academy? What are they drinking over there?

Inside Llewyn Davis - The folksy Coen brothers’ film didn’t get a lot of love from the Guilds but the Grand Prix winner at last year’s Cannes Film Festival certainly did warrant one of the 10 possible Best Picture spots.

Related: OSCARS: 86th Academy Award Nominations

Robert Redford – He didn’t say a lot in All Is Lost but as an old man battling the sea and a lot more, the Sundance founder spoke volumes in the J.C. Chandor-helmed pic. He won a Gotham Award, a New York Film Critics Circle Award and got an Independent Spirit nomination in the process. However, 40 years after Redford last was nominated for Best Actor for The Sting, that all obviously fell on deaf ears with Academy members.

Fruitvale Station Bursting out of last year’s Sundance Film Festival, this remarkable debut by director Ryan Coogler of the last day of Oscar Grant III on January 1, 2009 was picked up by the Weinstein Company and found fans everywhere – including the White House. Yet nothing for Coolger, nothing for star Michael B. Jordan and nothing for the film – that’s just a crime.

tom hanksTom Hanks – Maybe there is a limit to how many Oscars one man can have but the actor’s performance in Captain Phillips as the taken hostage merchant mariner was certainly more than sea worthy of a nom today.

Related: OSCARS: Nominations By Picture

Emma Thompson – Not even a spoon full of sugar will help this bitter pill go down. Saving Mr. Banks was Ms. Thompson’s film. Her turn as the difficult, to say the least, Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers should have seen her as one of the ladies getting that nomination today.

August: Osage County - Yes Meryl Streep got her 18th Oscar nomination for her role as the pill popping sharp tongued widow but there was no Best Picture nor Best Adapted Screenplay for August: Osage County. Some people might not like the truth telling, but those oversights are just plain wrong.

Daniel Brühl – The German actor’s performance as Formula 1 ace Niki Lauda in Ron Howard’s Rush picked up Golden Globes, BAFTA and SAG Awards nominations for Best Supporting Actor. Sure he lost out to Jared Leto at Sunday’s GG ceremony but the Academy didn’t even put him on the track today.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler Coming out in the year of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the hit White House-based Civil Rights drama had a story for our times as well as strong performances from Forrest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey. Maybe the last film to be produced by Laura Ziskin was too epic, maybe it was too black or maybe the dust-up the Weinstein Company had with Warner Bros and the MPAA over the initial The Butler title rubbed some people the wrong way but the powerful pic deserved better.
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SAG Awards: First Presenters Unveiled

By | Tuesday January 14, 2014 @ 6:18am PST

sagawards1LOS ANGELES (Jan. 14, 2014) – Ben Affleck, Sasha Alexander, Don Cheadle, Jennifer Garner, Clark Gregg, Tom Hanks, Jared Leto, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey, Kerry Washington, Forest Whitaker, and Oprah Winfrey will be presenters at the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®, Executive Producer/Director Jeff Margolis and Executive Producer Kathy Connell announced today.

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GALLERY: 71st Golden Globes Highlights

Golden Globes 2014 photos

Nominees and celebs hit the 71st Golden Globe Awards, underway now at the Beverly Hilton. Hit the jump for full images from tonight’s fete and refresh for latest: Read More »

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Oscar Contenders Hit The Desert As Hollywood’s Awards Season Moves to Palm Springs

Pete Hammond

As one battle-weary awards publicist said, “Here we go again. Three months later, same drill.”

Not quite, but close.  Wasn’t it just October when we saw Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, Julia Roberts, Steve McQueen and Lupita Nyong’o hit the stage at the Beverly Hilton to accept their preordained Hollywood Film Awards at the Hollywood Film Festival? Yes, but that was then and this is now. And the pre-Oscar train has moved to the desert right smack in the middle of nomination voting period (ballots are due Wednesday). Palm Springs Film Fest: Meryl StreepSo in its 25th year, the Palm Springs International Film Festival‘s Awards Gala has taken on even greater importance – and urgency - if the long red carpet, rows of fans, and numbers of studio reps on hand is any indication. ”This is a red carpet that is second only to the Golden Globes,” PSIFF Board Chairman Harold Matzner said before Fox Searchlight’s upcoming May release Belle officially opened the fest Friday night. Speaking Saturday night to the crowd of 2000 black tie and gowned locals gathered for this glittery affair, which is sponsored by Cartier and features a giant stage and full orchestra as big as the Academy Awards at the Palm Springs Convention Center, he said $2.4 million had been raised for the non-profit PSIFF Society and educational programs. Not bad, but as far as Hollywood is concerned it’s also … Read More »

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Deadline Awards Watch 56: The Tom Hanks And Taylor Swift Holiday Podcast

By | Thursday December 26, 2013 @ 4:22pm PST
Pete Hammond

Deadline Awards Watch podcast 56In this special holiday edition of our Deadline Awards Watch podcast, Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks with Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi about the making of Captain Phillips with director Paul Greengrass. Pete also talks with Taylor Swift, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter behind “Sweeter Than Fiction,” the theme song of One Chance, about writing for films and her own budding acting career. If you didn’t make the in-theater screenings for these films, hearing Pete’s Q&As is almost like being there — particularly if you’re an awards voter busily working through a big DVD pile of awards contenders this holiday week. Also in this episode, Pete talks with host David Bloom about all the newly debuted films jamming this week’s box office.

Deadline Awards Watch Episode 56 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Awards Watch Episode 56 (.M4A version) Read More »

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Tom Hanks To Receive Palm Springs Festival’s Chairman’s Award

tom hanksFresh off Golden Globe and SAG nominations for his lead turn in Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks can add the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s Chairman’s Award to his cache of kudos this year. Hanks is receiving the honor in recognition of both Captain Phillips and Saving Mr Banks, his other awards season contender in which he plays Walt Disney opposite Emma Thompson. Here’s the release from the festival:

palmsprings__131119151421-200x190Palm Springs, CA (December 16, 2013) – The 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present Academy Award® winning actor Tom Hanks with the Chairman’s Award for Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks at its annual Awards Gala. The Gala will also present awards to previously announced honorees Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern, Matthew McConaughey, Steve McQueen, Thomas Newman, Lupita Nyong’o, Julia Roberts and the cast of American Hustle. Presented by Cartier and hosted by Mary Hart, the Awards Gala will be held Saturday, January 4 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The Festival runs January 3-13, 2014.

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Fleming Q&As Paul Greengrass On Oscar Contender ‘Captain Phillips’, MLK, And Why He’ll Never Make Another Bourne Film

Mike Fleming

Paul Greengrass Interview Captain PhillipsEXCLUSIVE: Conveying the kinetic energy of real-life events has become a signature for Paul Greengrass. He grew up making documentaries, and then television dramas like the IRA car bombing saga Omagh, which he produced and co-wrote. He turned that urgent cinematic style to features including 2002′s Bloody Sunday, the Oscar-nominated 2006 drama United 93, and fictional dramas including Green Zone, and the last two Bourne installments The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Here, he’s in the Oscar hunt again with Captain Phillips, and so are his dueling captains played by Tom Hanks and newcomer Barkhad Abdi.

DEADLINE: We all watched the Somali pirate hijacking play out in real time not long ago. What did you see under the surface here that made this feature-worthy?
GREENGRASS: There’s got to be something about the story that’s both accurately clear and dramatic, but also layered and complex.  That was the case here and on United 93. What was clear about both: these were siege/hostage crises that turned into tense, dramatic events with clear, compelling characters. But there was a broader more complex landscape. Why do young men become pirates, these vagabonds with AK-47s who are prepared to defy the might of the U.S. Navy? It was enough to ask, what does this event mean? It’s layered and complex and it goes to where we are today. I felt that way about United 93 and Bloody Sunday. You make the film as authentically as you know how, and if you make judgments with a spirit of open-mindedness, complexities emerge. These traumatic series of events seem to speak to the way we are.

piratDEADLINE: It sounds like you can be surprised during the journey, when things reveal themselves even when you have a strong script as your blueprint. What emerged that surprised you most?
GREENGRASS: I remember Tom and I having a long, rolling conversation early on, asking, what is this really about? What’s the question we’re trying to answer here? We ended up literally writing it on a piece of paper. Is it going to be OK? It seems banal, but it captured the state of mind of a regular guy in the Merchant Marines who goes off to sea. My father was in the Merchant Marines. All of us feel the economic pressure that causes us to work harder. Then this terrible thing happens and it becomes a question of, it’s going to be alright, isn’t it? There is a feeling of underlying unease, a general sense that the world wheels are turning fast.

DEADLINE: Your Somali pirates were played by first-time actors. Why did you keep them away from Tom Hanks until the siege occurred?
piraGREENGRASS: From day one, they were saying, when can we meet Tom Hanks? I said, not until you go through that door and take that ship. They were disappointed, but my great anxiety was this: the movie is a study of two captains, two very contrasting figures. One is captain of a large container ship from our world, the other a lawless vagabond from another world. I didn’t want Barkhad to be thinking, that’s Tom Hanks. Or even worse, that’s my friend Tom Hanks. I wanted him to have one thought only. When you go through that door, you have to scare, terrorize and seize control of that bridge. Barkhad came up with that brilliant line, ‘I’m the captain now,’ and it came from that challenge that he had to take charge. I tried to prepare him psychologically. Acting is many things, and one is an exercise of will. In any given scene, you’re trying to find where the drama and conflict is, and then deploy the actors to play at that point of conflict with precision, control, and complete will. It’s no good in a scene to have one actor lie down because the scene says it’s the other actor’s moment. Each actor has to believe that with extra will, the outcome of a scene can be different. An actor can win the scene if he exerts the most powerful will in that moment. That’s what happened. Look back at those performances by Tom and Barkhad; they really build from the moment Barkhad seizes control. For Tom, that’s the moment that he must come back from. The look on his face, a magnificent moment, where he knows his ship is going to be taken. You feel in his face the existential shock of a captain losing his ship. The psychological collapse would be immense. Tom’s performance is really about rebuilding himself from a position of hopelessness, to the end where he goes on that journey in the lifeboat that becomes more emotional and deeper. The film is their trial of strength, their test of wills and it all grew from that first moment. Read More »

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‘Captain Phillips’ Set For January Re-Release

By | Tuesday December 10, 2013 @ 7:31pm PST

captain-phillips01EXCLUSIVE: Sony is re-releasing its Tom Hanks-starring Oscar contender Captain Phillips on Wednesday, January 15 — the day before the Academy Awards nominations are announced — and hopes to expand the film into 1,000 theaters nationwide by that time. Currently, it’s in 640 locations with a mere $797 per-screen average as the film has been winding down its initial run. The true-life film about the captain of a ship taken over by Somali pirates already has made more than $100 million at the domestic box office since bowing in October. Its DVD/Blu-ray release is less than a week later on January 21, but the studio wants to sweeten its chances for Oscars before final ballots are due Feb. 25, hence the expansion. Newcomer Barkhad Abdi has garnered much Oscar buzz for his role as the young man coerced into a mission way beyond his ability. Captain Phillips brought in $510,201 this past weekend, pushing its cume to $103.5 million.

Related: Producers Michael De Luca & Dana Brunetti On Lure Of ‘Captain Phillips’

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Julie Andrews And Dick Van Dyke Light Up ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ Premiere As Disney Goes All Interactive With ‘Mary Poppins’ (Exclusive)

Pete Hammond

After earlier premieres at the London Film Festival in October and the AFI Film Fest at the Chinese Theatre in November where the original Mary Poppins premiered in 1964, Saving Mr. Banks, Walt Disney Studio’s big awards contender, finally had its official Los Angeles premiere on a cool December Monday night. It took place on the verysavingbank01 Disney studio lot where much of the movie about the making of the 1964 classic was filmed (as well as Poppins itself).  And just to add a touch of nostalgia and class itself the stars of Mary Poppins Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke  joined the cast of Banks including Tom Hanks who plays Walt Disney and Emma Thompson who plays the cantankerous author of Poppins P.L. Travers. At a photo opp before the film the Banks cast members along with Andrews and Van Dyke and studio execs Bob Iger and Alan Horn all joined in a spontaneous rendition of the catchy tune from Poppins, “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” (watch here). Those singing along included the indefatiguable two-time Oscar winning co-writer of that song and the entire score, Richard M. Sherman.

At the post party in a completely made-over igerhorn1studio commissary Horn told me how pleased they were that Saving Mr. Banks had made the AFI Top Ten Movies Of The Year list released earlier Monday. When I asked how he felt about singing with all those iconic stars he said he can’t sing and in fact was banned from trying to carry a tune in church and everywhere else. Iger also marveled at the idea he was actually singing along with everyone and modestly just said ” let’s not count the eggs before they are hatched” when I suggested that the movie was a cinch to become the Disney studio’s first home grown live action Best Picture nominee since the original Mary Poppins 49 years ago, the one and only other time the studio had such a distinction.

savingbank02The 85-year-old Sherman, who has been on cloud nine since this whole ride began, said it was completely “surreal” to be back on the Disney lot with Andrews and Van Dyke celebrating this whole experience. Only in Hollywood.  There’s something about the movie that really has created a team spirit. At a Saturday night cast Q&A with Hanks, Thompson, Colin Farrell, Jason Schwartzman and Bradley Whitford  I moderated after a SAG screening of the film, Hanks also led everyone in a rendition of “Let’s Go Fly A Kite”.  Guess it is just a movie that makes people want to sing. Hanks and Thompson had also been doing Q&As earlier that day at BAFTA  and for the Academy where I am told 700 members showed up for a 3 PM Saturday matinee. Certainly Disney, which has been having a great holiday season already with Thor and Frozen, is hoping they will be singing about Banks which opens nationwide on December 20th. I am told it is tracking well. Banks opens Friday with a special engagement at the Walt Disney Studio Theatre that includes a special studio tour of spots of where the films were made.  Read More »

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UPDATE: Haim Saban Praises Obama’s Middle East Policy At Fundraiser

By | Monday November 25, 2013 @ 10:37pm PST

Power Rangers billionaire and staunch Israel supporter Haim Saban tonight offered strong support to President Obama for his efforts to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his recent initiative in negotiations with Iran. “We’re out of Iraq, we’re out of Afghanistan and the military and intelligence cooperation with Israel — our staunchest ally in the Middle East, arguably in the world, has never been deeper and the president’s commitment to Israel’s security has never been stronger,” Saban said in his introduction to Obama’s remarks tonight at his Beverly Hills home, according to White House pool reports. “And “If Iran is at the negotiating table today, make no mistake about it, it is only because of President Obama’s resolve in striking them with the most crippling sanctions ever.” The event was the second fundraiser of the night for Obama and the first Saban has hosted for the President directly. (He’d hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton last month.) About 120 people attended tonight’s dinner — including Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson, Warner Bros’ Barry Meyer and wife Wendy, and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos — with tickets going for $16,200 each. (Read an edited and condensed version of the White House Pool report and official WH Press Office remarks from both of tonight’s fundraisers below.)

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Earlier in the evening, Obama was the headliner at a fundraiser at Magic Johnson’s Beverly Hills house. About 160 people including Samuel L. Jackson and Diane Keaton paid $2,500-$15,000 a ticket hear the commander-in-chief speak at the reception. Tomorrow morning the president will be attending a $32,400-per-guest breakfast event at the home of Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman (take a look at the original invite here). After that, he will visit and give a speech on the economy and the entertainment industry at big donor Jeffrey Katzenberg‘s DreamWorks Animation HQ, as well as meeting with studio bosses. Obama’s Southland visit, his first since August, is partially a makeup for a planned swing in September that was scrapped because of the Syria crisis.

Here are the pool reports: Read More »

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