EXCLUSIVE: Deadline scooped the news today that Safety Not Guaranteed helmer Colin Trevorrow landed the plum gig of Jurassic Park 4, a move which could catapult him to the director A-list. There is a lot of movement going on among directors that will reverberate depending on who takes what job.
First up, Steven Spielberg has ended his long flirtation with directing Gods And Kings, the epic-sized Warner Bros film about life of Moses based on the script by Michael Green and Stuart Hazeldine. That puts Warner Bros in a bind because of the rival Moses project, the Adam Cooper/Bill Collage-scripted Exodus, which is gathering steam at Fox, with Ridley Scott looking to mobilize that as soon as he completes The Counselor. But Warner Bros is now out to Ang Lee, who just won the Best Director Oscar for Life Of Pi. I’m told he’s intrigued with the project but hasn’t had a formal meeting on the script. Imagine what either director can do with that subject matter, and with the ratings on History Channel’s The Bible miniseries, the audience is certainly there. Spielberg hasn’t dropped the project for another; while he postponed his next film Robopocalypse, he hasn’t replaced it with anything as he continues to develop that robot pic. Spielberg also recently told French TV he’s developing a Napoleon miniseries for TV based on Stanley Kubrick’s screenplay and research. for Read More »
This morning’s just-announced DGA Award nominations are good news for the major studios and bad news for Harvey Weinstein. With Ben Affleck for Warner Bros’ Argo, Kathryn Bigelow for Sony’s Zero Dark Thirty, Tom Hooper for Universal’s Les Miserables, Ang Lee for 20th Century Fox’s Life Of Pi and Steven Spielberg for Disney/Dreamworks Lincoln, it was a clean sweep for the majors — a continuing roaring comeback in Oscar contenders for the big boys who the past two years have watched The Weinstein Company take Best Picture (and top DGA) honors with small indies like The Artist and The King’s Speech. Clearly, even as their focus is on money-making blockbusters and popcorn entertainment, the majors are no longer sitting on the sidelines when it comes to the Oscars and seem fully invested in the process this year at least.
Related: DGA Award Nominations Announced
It’s highly unusual since the advent of the Miramax takeover of Oscar seasons the past quarter century to see no independent contender in a strong position. But, at least as far as the DGA is concerned, that’s the story here, along with the fact that four of the five nominees are past DGA- and Oscar-directing winners, with Affleck the only newcomer to the DGA club after directing only his third feature film (he is an Oscar winner for co-writing Good Will Hunting). Bigelow and Hooper both won in the last three years and have made a quick return to the golden circle. Spielberg, meanwhile, is the Big Kahuna of the DGA as he is a three-time winner (The Color Purple, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan) and now 11-time nominee as well as winner of the guild’s Life Achievement Award. Lee’s enormously impressive technical feat in bringing what was thought to be an unfilmable book, Life Of Pi, so successfully to the big screen is clearly something that appealed to the sensibility of directors, so his nomination was definitely expected. This will make for one of the tightest and most interesting directing races in years at the DGA. Read More »
Even as Oscar nomination polls were closing Friday afternoon, the awards season action was already shifting to the Southern California desert as the 10-day Palm Springs International Film Festival kicked off, not only with its highly publicized Saturday night gala where enormous statuettes are handed out to Oscar hopefuls looking for a boost in the race, but also as a genuinely impressive public showcase for world cinema.
42 of the 71 official Oscar foreign entries are on display at the Fest (which runs through January 13) including 8 of the 9 finalists which made the shortlist. Many of those filmmakers nervously awaiting results, of which of the 9 become the 5 nominees, were at the fest all weekend, even as a select group of about 30 high-profile Academy members (including Meryl Streep, who told me last year she had a great time on this uber committee) in New York and Los Angeles were viewing the finalists and making their choices (to be announced with other Oscar nominees on Thursday morning). Read More »
Tom Hooper has had a distinguished career in television for more than a decade, earning an Emmy in 2006 for Elizabeth I and nominations for Prime Suspect 6 (2003) and John Adams (2008). But his feature-film career consisted of only two small films—Red Dust (2004) and the critically acclaimed but little-seen The Damned United (2009)—before he hit the mother lode with The King’s Speech in 2010, winning both the DGA Award and the Academy Award for best director on his very first time out. Now, defying the odds again, Hooper is back with the movie version of the worldwide musical smash, Les Misérables. This overnight film-business success at age 40 is among those top-tier contenders who could take it all again for finding a way—after producers have spent a quarter-century trying—to make Les Mis sing on screen as powerfully as it did on the stage.
AwardsLine: I was talking to Hugh Jackman about the audition process, and he said at that point you weren’t even involved. When did you get involved?
Tom Hooper: I was involved. I didn’t want everyone to think the film was going to happen until I worked out how I was going to cast it. People always wanted to make the film regardless, but I needed to have the right cast. We needed actors that could sing at this level. The audition back in May of last year was huge—it was an extraordinary moment. That’s when I knew I had a movie. I’d go so far to say, the movie wouldn’t exist without Hugh Jackman. There was no second choice; I still don’t have a second choice. (He’s) an extraordinary actor and singer, with extraordinary musical-theater training. He had a great moral compass, very fitting for this very spiritual man. When he sang, he accessed an acting I had never seen in film. The singing really opens up new possibilities for these actors—possibilities you can’t do with normal dialogue. The sheer power of singing
Related: OSCARS: The Directors Read More »
Awards strategists for other horses in the ever-tightening race for Best Picture may not want to hear this but Universal Pictures today may have unleashed the 800-pound-gorilla in the Oscar race. That is, if initial reaction to today’s launch … Read More »
Sacha Baron Cohen is in talks to play bad guy Monsieur Thenardier in Les Miserables, the feature film adaptation of the musical that Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe will headline for director Tom Hooper. Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and … Read More »
‘Arthur Christmas’ Slays ‘Em In The UK
Sony Pictures Animation and Aardman’s Arthur Christmas jumped to the top of the UK box office this weekend – in its fourth week of release. This bit of holiday magic came courtesy of a £1.9 million weekend take for a cume of £11.5 million. The film has been holding steady in second place since it bowed on November 11 and this weekend faced off against Happy Feet Two for the family audience. Largely positive notices and the British voice cast — including James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton — have no doubt been a local draw. Sony Pictures Releasing UK’s Peter Taylor said: “Opening a movie at No. 1 in such a competitive market as the UK is difficult enough, but to reach the top of the chart in the fourth week of release is almost unprecedented. We are all delighted.”
Tom Hooper Decides Against 3D For ‘Les Miserables’
Although director Tom Hooper flirted with the idea of filming the new movie version of the hit stage musical Les Miserables in 3D, the Oscar-winning helmer of The King’s Speech has decided to stick with 2D. Hooper told the BBC he had been “very tempted” to use 3D but worried that some audiences might “physically struggle” with the format. Not to worry, purists. “I can definitely announce it’s good old-fashioned 2D,” Hooper said at the British Independent Film Awards. “I wanted to make a film that would touch everyone. I believe the story is so strong, 3D is not essential.” Hooper added that the casting of Eponine and Cosette would be announced soon. “I’ve never done a film where big star actors are as obsessed with being in it as this.” Starring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe as Javert, Read More »
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 »
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 »
BREAKING: NBCUniversal’s new owners at Comcast have given a vote of confidence to the studio’s feature film operation. They’ve exercised an option on Universal Pictures’ Chairman Adam Fogelson and extended his contract through 2014. I’m told that Fogelson is, in turn, in the process of exercising the option of Donna Langley and she will continue as the studio’s co-chairman. They will also keep their executive team intact. Fogelson will continue to have full day-to-day operating responsibility for the Motion Picture Group, reporting to Universal Studios President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer (whose contract was recently re-upped through 2015) and will now also report to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke.
While Universal has had its ups and downs, higher-ups are clearly convinced that Fogelson, Langley and their team are making progress. They’ve had recent hits –Bridesmaids, Hop! and Fast Five– but also had some recent misses that include The Dilemma, Change-Up and Cowboys & Aliens. In the latter case, the studio was on the hook for one-third of the film, and shared that third with Relativity Media. It has also been a year in which Fogelson and his team have made some painful decisions and let pricey productions go. That began with the Guillermo Del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness, which Universal developed for years and which was ready to go with Tom Cruise, until the studio made a late decision not to go forward because of the possibility the $150M film could carry an R-rating. Universal also dropped two projects that were in advanced stages of development: The Dark Tower, the Akiva Goldsman-directed adaptation of the Stephen King novel series that was to be made into three feature films and two limited-run TV series, with the first film and TV segment directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer and Goldsman; and Oiuja, the Hasbro board game that had McG directing and Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners producing with Hasbro. The moves were surprising because Howard and Grazer are cornerstone filmmakers for Universal; and Del Toro and Hasbro have overall deals there. Ouija is one of several Hasbro properties the studio dropped, the others being the Gore Verbinski-directed Clue, the Ridley Scott-directed Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering. These were part of a groundbreaking deal the studio made with the toymaker several years ago, but the studio and Hasbro have re-focused their attention solely on Battleship, Stretch Armstrong, and Candy Land. Read More »
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 »
Director Adrian Noble has confirmed a rumor kicking around stage circles for weeks: that he is turning the Best Picture Oscar-winning The King’s Speech into a stage play. This is not going to be a difficult transition. As Seidler … Read More »
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 »
Universal and Working Title’s adaptation of Les Miserables, which has The King’s Speech helmer Tom Hooper directing, is eyeing Hugh Jackman to play the lead role of Jean Valjean. But that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal — in fact, … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is negotiating to turn the Green Day-fueled Broadway musical American Idiot into a feature film. Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning Milk scribe, is in talks to write the script, and Michael Mayer will direct. Mayer helmed the stage run of the musical, which is closing on Broadway April 24 and launching a tour in the fall. Black most recently scripted J. Edgar, the Clint Eastwood film that stars Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover.
The musical, which uses the songs of the punk band’s seminal 2004 album to tell the coming-of-age story of three small-town guys, was optioned before its opening last spring by Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. They previously turned the stage hit Mamma Mia! into a Universal film. It is expected that Green Day lead singer/songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong will be courted to play the role of the drug dealer St. Jimmy. Each time he did a stint in the role on Broadway, the grosses rose considerably at the St. James Theatre. The band was actively involved in the formation of the musical. Read More »
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 »
The Weinstein Company is ready to launch a PG-13 version of the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech on 1000 theaters on April 1, following an appeal and much discussion over the controversial MPAA R-rating the picture received because of liberal use … Read More »
At the post-Oscar bash held by The Weinstein Company and at the Vanity Fair party, it became clear that Harvey Weinstein might well have opportunities to capitalize on the momentum created by The King’s Speech. I ran into Quentin Tarantino, who said that he has completed the script for his Western, and that compared to recent scripts like Inglourious Basterds and Kill Bill that took so long to crystallize, this one came together much quicker and just flowed out of him. He wasn’t more descriptive than that before I lost him in the crowd, but my understanding is he’ll deliver within two months and then TWC will begin moving toward a production start.
At the same time, Oscar-winning The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper seems to be getting serious about resuscitating the Deborah Moggach novel Tulip Fever as a possible next directing vehicle. That project had been on the verge of being put in turnaround at Paramount, but the studio could be involved as a co-financier with TWC. The film’s set in 17th Century Amsterdam, where a married woman and an artist hired to paint her portrait begin a passionate affair and gamble on the booming market for tulip bulbs as a way to raise money to run away together. The film has been a passion for such directors as John Madden and Peter Chelsom over the past decade, and once had Keira Knightley and Jude Law once planning to play the lovers. Hooper is also mulling Les Miserables among possibles. There was a real sense of company history at the Weinstein bash, as Harvey Weinstein entered to loud applause and immediately engaged in a bro hug with Tarantino, with the likes of Robert Rodriguez, Eli Roth and others standing nearby… Read More »
So tonight’s Academy Awards scorecard for independent films were 7 major Oscars, including the 19th Best Picture of the past 30 years for non-studio movies. The Independent Film & Television Alliance compiled this list: Best Picture: The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Co); Best … Read More »