Wally Pfister‘s directorial debut Transcendence will open on April 18 in China, a coveted day-and-date release with the U.S. Warner Bros is distributing in the States. The Johnny Depp sci-fi action drama will be exclusively released in China in 3D and IMAX 3D, a growing trend that recently saw Robocop converted to the format solely for the massive market. Trenscendence will also have a 2D release locally. Day-and-Date is a big deal in China where piracy is rampant; Disney’s Need For Speed opened simultaneously with the U.S. two weeks ago and outperformed the domestic haul in its first weekend. China is now the movie’s biggest market worldwide. Transcendence is the first product of a partnership between Alcon Entertainment and Beijing-based DMG Entertainment to finance, produce, and distribute films (LA-based Straight Up Films is also a producer). DMG has some experience here, having secured a pre-day-and-date release last year for Iron Man 3 — it went out May 1 in China and May 3 in the U.S. and went on to be the No. 2 movie in China for the year with about $125M in box office. The China Transcendence release will follow Depp’s big promotional swing through China beginning March 31 and replete with a series of primetime TV specials to be shown nationwide in the lead up …
Johnny Depp stars as an artificial intelligence researcher who uploads his consciousness into the digital ether when his body dies in Transcendence, the directorial debut of celebrated Christopher Nolan DP Wally Pfister. Consider it a companion pic of sorts to Spike Jonze’s kinder, gentler Her, with a touch of Lawnmower Man-esque menace. Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, and Morgan Freeman co-star in the sci-fi thriller written by Jack Paglen, who made the Black List with his script. Nolan and Emma Thomas are exec producers. Warner Bros. releases Transcendence April 17, 2014. Take a look:
Morgan Freeman is in final negotiations to join Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Rebecca Hall and Kate Mara in Wally Pfister’s directorial debut Transcendence ahead of a scheduled May start date for production. Freeman, repped by CAA, was in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, all of which were lensed by Pfister. Alcon Entertainment is financing and producing Transcendence, with Warner Bros already settled on an April 25, 2014 release date. The team has done a solid job keeping a tight lid on the plot of the script, written by Jack Paglen. The screenplay was developed by Annie Marter and Straight Up Films, whose company principals include Marisa Polvino, Kate Cohen and Regency Boies. Polvino, Marter and Cohen will produce with David Valdes, and Alcon’s Johnson and Kosove. Boies will co-produce. Pfister, Nolan and producing partner Emma Thomas have worked on seven films including Inception, which won Pfister an Oscar. Nolan, Thomas and Aaron Ryder are executive producing this one.
BREAKING: The directorial debut of Christopher Nolan’s longtime DP Wally Pfister continues to get more interesting. He’s added Kate Mara to the cast of Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany and Rebecca Hall in Transcendence. The pic is being financed and produced by Alcon Entertainment‘s Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove. Scripted by Jack Paglen, the screenplay was developed by Annie Marter and Straight Up Films, whose company principals include Marisa Polvino, Kate Cohen and Regency Boies. Polvino, Marter and Cohen will produce along with David Valdes, Johnson and Kosove. Boies will co-produce. Nolan, Emma Thomas and Aaron Ryder are serving as executive producers.
Mara is currently starring with Kevin Spacey in House Of Cards, the Netflix series whose second season will shoot in the spring. She is repped by UTA and attorney Neil Meyer.
EXCLUSIVE: Paul Bettany is in negotiations to star opposite Johnny Depp in Transcendence, the Alcon Entertainment film that marks the directing debut of Wally Pfister, Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer on Inception and many other films. Alcon partners Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson are producing, and Nolan and Emma Thomas are exec producers. The film was scripted by Jack Paglen and the plot is being kept under wraps. The film will start production in the spring, and Bettany will play a scientist. Warner Bros is distributing. Next up for Bettany is Iron Man 3 (he provides the voice of Tony Stark’s computer Jarvis), and he stars in the thriller Blood with Mark Strong. He was last seen in The Avengers and Margin Call. Bettany is repped by UTA, Affirmative Entertainment, and Independent Talent Group. His UK manager is 42 M&P’s Kate Buckley-Sharma.
Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor.
Don’t write that obituary for film just yet. The traditional moviemaking format remains a vital tool for the top cinematographers in the field, even as digital technology improves and offers exciting possibilities for the future. AwardsLine caught up with the men who shot some of the year’s top contenders to talk about how they shot their current films, working with the top directors in the field, and how to make it all come together in the end.
Taking part in our mock roundtable are Mihai Malaimare Jr., who used large-format 65mm film to shoot the majority of Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master; Claudio Miranda, who shot the sole digital and 3D picture of this bunch, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi; Wally Pfister, who mixed IMAX and 35mm in wrapping up Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy on The Dark Knight Rises; Rodrigo Prieto, who stitched together multiple formats for Ben Affleck’s Argo; Ben Richardson, who relied on 16mm to capture Beasts of the Southern Wild for Benh Zeitlin; and Robert Richardson, who reunited with filmophile Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained.
AwardsLine: How did you go about choosing cameras and formats for your current projects?
Rodrigo Prieto: We wanted to differentiate the different segments of the film. We were going to intercut and wanted as soon as you saw an image, say, in Tehran that you would know that’s where you are just by the texture of the image, especially because we were shooting in very different locations.
Mihai Malaimare Jr.: From the first meeting we had, we were discussing using a larger format for The Master. The reason is when you think about iconic images from that period, like from the ’30s and right after World War II, you are mainly thinking of large-format still photography. We started with VistaVision, but because the difference wasn’t that big from 35mm to VistaVision, we switched to the next bigger format which was 65mm, and that was giving us kind of the feeling that we wanted.
Claudio Miranda: Ang (Lee) was really interested in 3D. He said, “I’ve been really interested in 3D for almost 10 years now. Even before Avatar, I really wanted to see how to bring a new language to cinema.” It had to be digital, because with 3D it had to be really precise.
Wally Pfister: Chris (Nolan) sat back and said, “Here’s the deal: This film will stand on its own, but we are wrapping up a trilogy.” We had discussions early on about shooting in IMAX, and I said, “Dude, we should shoot the whole movie in IMAX.” But we pushed up against the limitations of IMAX, which is you can’t record synched sound with an IMAX camera — they’re just too noisy.
Ben Richardson: We instinctively knew that the only viable way for our budget and to get the kind of imagery we wanted was to go to 16mm. The great thing about a 16mm camera, obviously, is that as long as you have a couple batteries and a roll of film and a changing tent, you can keep shooting.
BREAKING: Johnny Depp is negotiating to star in Transcendence, the directorial debut of Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister. The project is being put together for an early 2013 shoot by Alcon Entertainment co-founders and co-CEOs Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove. Alcon will release through its output deal with Warner Bros.
The screenplay, written by newcomer Jack Paglen, was developed by Annie Marter and Straight Up Films, whose company principals include Marisa Polvino, Kate Cohen and Regency Boies. Polvino, Marter and Cohen will produce along with David Valdes (The Book Of Eli), Johnson and Kosove. Boies will co-produce. The plot of Transcendence is being kept under wraps.
Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas are serving as executive producers and Alcon is financing. Pfister won an Oscar for his cinematography on the Nolan-directed Inception. He has done seven films with Nolan and Thomas, including The Dark Knight Rises and Memento. He was also cinematographer on Moneyball and The Italian Job.
EXCLUSIVE… UPDATE: Hollywood’s major agencies have found great success repping below-the-line talent, and especially cinematographers transitioning into directors like Wally Pfister. WME‘s recently arrived agent Dan Aloni made this high-profile sign since the Academy Award and ASC Award winner has been Chris Nolan‘s constant collaborator — and Aloni reps Nolan. ICM says it will still rep Pfister as a cinematographer. But Pfister is making his directorial debut on an untitled Alcon Entertainment project which Nolan will executive produce along with his wife and producing partner Emma Thomas. (Pfister right now is searching for a cinematographer for that pic.)
Pfister has been the cinematographer on every Nolan film: Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception and the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises. Interestingly, Pfister during post-production on Insomnia reportedly tipped Nolan to Christian Bale in Laurel Canyon and suggested the duo meet, which led to Bale being cast as Batman. Pfister recently revealed that he and Nolan shot some 60 minutes of the latest Batman sequel in 65mm IMAX, a real departure for him. Pfister is also known for his work on director F. Gary Gray’s The Italian Job and Bennett Miller’s Moneyball.
It has been a good two weeks for the Pfister clan. Shortly after renowned cinematographer Wally Pfister was set to make his feature directing debut on an untitled film for Alcon Entertainment, his daughter Claire Julien was set by Sofia Coppola to join the ensemble of her new film The Bling Ring, which stars Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga and Leslie Mann. Shooting starts next week in LA. Julien joins fellow newcomers Israel Broussard, Katie Chang and Georgia Rock in the project based on real events surrounding a group of celebrity-obsessed teens who looted nearly $3 million in personal property from the homes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom between 2008-2009.
Coppola is directing her script, and producing alongside brother Roman Coppola and Youree Henley. Julien will next be seen playing a small role in The Dark Knight Rises. Pfister has been cinematographer on all of Chris Nolan’s Batfilms, and Pfister won the Oscar for his work on Inception. She’s repped by Eric Skinner, one of the eight ICM coordinators upped to agent status recently. ICM also reps Pfister.
EXCLUSIVE: Alcon Entertainment has acquired an untitled screenplay written by newcomer Jack Paglen that will mark the feature directorial debut of Wally Pfister, the Oscar-winning cinematographer whose credits include Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, and Moneyball. The deal was made by Alcon co-founders and co-CEOs Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove, who’ll start pre-production immediately for an early fall shoot.
The logline is being kept under wraps, but the screenplay was developed by Annie Marter and Straight Up Films, whose principals include Marisa Polvino, Kate Cohen and Regency Boies. Polvino, Cohen and Marter will produce along with Johnson and Kosove. Boies will co-produce.
Cinematographers Award Wally Pfister For ‘Inception’, Jonathan Freeman-’Boardwalk Empire’, Stephen Windon-’The Pacific’
LOS ANGELES, February 13, 2011 – Wally Pfister, ASC, Jonathan Freeman, ASC and Stephen Windon, ACS claimed top honors in the three competitive categories at the 25th Annual American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Outstanding Achievement Awards celebration here tonight at the Hollywood & Highland Grand Ballroom.
Pfister won the ASC Award in the feature film competition for INCEPTION. Freeman earned top accolades in the television episodic category for BOARDWALK EMPIRE (HBO). Windon was the recipient of the television movie/miniseries award for THE PACIFIC (HBO).
“All of the nominees here tonight earned the respect of their peers,” said Richard Crudo, ASC, chairman of the Awards Committee. “Once again, they showed the world that while cinematography requires mastering a complex craft, the art of telling stories with moving images comes from the heart and soul.”
Pfister, who was regrettably not able to attend, was previously nominated by the ASC for BATMAN BEGINS (2006) and THE DARK KNIGHT (2009). This is his first win.
Freeman won the Outstanding Achievement Award for the BOARDWALK EMPIRE episode “Home.” This is the second ASC Award for Freeman, who previously won in 2005 for the telefilm HOMELAND SECURITY. He has also earned ASC nominations for PRINCE STREET (1998), STRANGE JUSTICE (2000) and TAKEN (2003).
The television movie/miniseries award went to Windon for the “Okinawa” episode of THE PACIFIC. This was Windon’s first ASC nomination.
The presentation of the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award to 10-time ASC Award nominee Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC by
January 10, 2011 – Matthew Libatique, ASC (Black Swan), Wally Pfister, ASC (Inception), Danny Cohen, BSC (The King’s Speech), Jeff Cronenweth, ASC (The Social Network), and Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC (True Grit) have been nominated in the feature film category of the 25th Annual American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Outstanding Achievement Awards.
The winner will be announced at the ASC Awards celebration at the Hollywood and Highland Grand Ballroom on February 13.
“These five people have set the standard for today’s cinematography,” says Awards Committee Chairman Richard Crudo. “Although they were nominated for a variety of films, they share the common denominator of extraordinary talent and good taste. Just their mere presence on set would elevate any production.”
This is the ninth nomination for Deakins in the ASC feature film competition. He earned top honors for The Shawshank Redemption (1995) and The Man Who Wasn’t There (2002), and other nominations for Fargo (1997), Kundun (1998), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2001), No Country for Old Men (2008), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2008), Revolutionary Road (2009) and The Reader (2009). In addition to his nomination for True Grit, Deakins will also be honored as the recipient of the ASC’s 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award.
This is the third nomination for Pfister who was previously recognized for Batman Begins (2006) and The Dark Knight (2009).
Cohen, Cronenweth and Libatique are all first-time nominees.
“The artistically diverse approaches these talented cinematographers employed are