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Fox, 21 Laps Land Pitch For ‘Whiplash’ Helmer Damien Chazelle

By | Monday June 16, 2014 @ 3:29pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Fox, 21 Laps Land Pitch For ‘Whiplash’ Helmer Damien ChazelleEXCLUSIVE: Fox has acquired an untitled pitch that will be written and directed by Damien Chazelle, the breakout writer/helmer of the Sundance Film Festival sensation Whiplash. Shawn Levy and his 21 Laps banner will produce. The logline is being kept under wraps, but it is said to be a high-concept and character-driven genre film inspired by the paranoid thrillers of the 1970s.

Related: Sundance Awards: ‘Whiplash’ & ‘Rich Hill’ Win Grand Jury Prizes

Chazelle expanded his Sundance short film Whiplash into a feature, and it sold to Sony Pictures Classics after it won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance in January. The film also got a raucous reaction at Cannes in the Directors’ Fortnight section. It has been a busy period for Levy and 21 Laps. After they made a record-breaking Cannes deal when Paramount paid $20 million for North American and China rights to the Eric Heisserer sci-fi thriller Story Of Your Life (Denis Villenueve will direct Amy Adams), 21 Laps reteamed with Heisserer on the sci-fi thriller Understand, which sold to Fox. Dan Cohen and Will Rack will oversee this new project for 21 Laps, and Mark Roybal and Sarah Schweitzman will oversee for Fox. Chazelle, who is expected to next direct La La Land with Emma Watson and Whiplash star Miles Teller, is repped by WME, Gary Ungar, … Read More »

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Oscars: How Cannes May Have More Impact Than Ever On The 2014 Race

Pete Hammond

As my French fog lifts in the wake of my return from the Cannes Film Festival it’s a good time to look at how it might havethe-academy-oscars-new-logo-1 impacted the 2014 Oscar race as the calendar turns to June and we have the first big benchmark out of the way. That’s not to say that Cannes is a huge indicator of where this thing will be come Fall when it really heats up, but this is one of the better years I think in terms of Cannes and potential for its ultimate impact on the awards season. Some years are better than others. You might recall in 2011 three films in the official Cannes selection, The Tree Of Life, Midnight In Paris and The Artist all went on to Best Picture nominations with the latter even winning. It’s never too early to speculate.

Related: DeadlineNow: Early Frontrunners In The Oscar Race (Video)

sony-pictures-classics-logoSony Pictures Classics (which had Midnight In Paris)  certainly seems to think 2014 is going to similarly big so they put out a press release earlier this week touting their triumph on the Cote d’Azur . They held the hot hand this year with a flurry of titles they brought and bought to Croisette.  They come out of Cannes very strong with contenders of various stripes across several categories including Best Picture for Foxcatcher and Mr. Turner (with an outside shot for Directors Fortnight entry Whiplash which actually … Read More »

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Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

Catch up on the stories you missed this week:

TarantinoQuentin Tarantino Shelves ‘The Hateful Eight’ After Betrayal Results In Script Leak
By Mike Fleming Jr. EXCLUSIVE: Learning today that his script The Hateful Eight leaked after he gave it to a small circle of actors, Quentin Tarantino tells me that he’s so upset that he has decided that he will not direct that film next.

Rupert Sanders Set To Helm ‘Ghost In The Shell’ For DreamWorks
By Mike Fleming Jr.EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks has made a deal with Snow White And The Huntsman helmer Rupert Sanders to direct Ghost In The Shell, a live-action film based on the Japanese manga futuristic police thriller that has a new script from William Wheeler.

Whiplash Sundance AwardSundance: ‘Whiplash’ & ‘Rich Hill’ Win Grand Jury Awards; Dramatic Directing Goes To Cutter Hodierne For ‘Fishing Without Nets’
By Dominic Patten and Jen Yamato – It was the first major deal of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and tonight Whiplash was the big winner at the fest’s Awards Ceremony. The Damien Chazelle-directed film about a young drummer, played by Miles Teller, and his demanding teacher, played by JK Simmons, took both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury prize and the Audience Award. Read More »

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Sundance Awards: ‘Whiplash’ & ‘Rich Hill’ Win Grand Jury Prizes; Dramatic Directing Goes To Cutter Hodierne For ‘Fishing Without Nets’

Whiplash Sundance AwardIt was the first major deal of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and tonight Whiplash was the big winner at the fest’s Awards Ceremony. The Damien Chazelle-directed film about a young drummer, played by Miles Teller, and his demanding teacher, played by JK Simmons, took both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury prize and the Audience Award. “This is awesome, thanks so much,” said Chazelle accepting the pic’s Audience Award earlier in the evening. Little did he know the fest hit would go on to win Sundance’s top dramatic prize. The U.S. Documentary Award went to the Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos-directed Rich Hill,Sundance Film Festival Winners 2014 about three small town Missouri boys seeking better from their sometimes bleak environment. Also making waves with buzzy Sundance awards tonight were first-time director Justin Simien, whose conversation-sparking Dear White People nabbed a Special Jury Prize for Breakthrough Talent; the Ethiopian World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award winner Difret, exec produced by Angelina Jolie; and the Nick Cave docu 20,000 Days On Earth which snagged both Best Directing and Best Editing in the World Cinema Documentary category.

offerman mullallyHosted by Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, this year’s Awards started over 30 minutes later than its scheduled 6PM PT kick-off time. Once things got going, after a lurid but lame routine by the hosts, it moved fast. Like last year when Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who had his own directorial feature debut Don Jon premiere at Sundance 2013, hosted the awards ceremony, Offerman and Mullally both have films at the festival. The Parks & Recreation star fronted Nick Offerman: American Ham, which premiered on January 23 in Salt Lake City, and Mullally is one of the voices in the English-language version of the animated pic Ernest & Celestine, which was screened January 18 as part of the new Sundance Kids selection. Offerman and Mullally opened with a monologue that centered more on their sex life than indie film. “In short, we have seen your movies and we have found them arousing,” deadpanned Offerman. Read More »

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Sundance: Sony Pictures Classics To Get ‘Whiplash’ In Fest’s First Major Deal

By | Saturday January 18, 2014 @ 4:50am PST
Mike Fleming

whiplEXCLUSIVE: The first major deal at the Sundance Film Festival is nearly done, with Sony Pictures Classics close to closing a deal for Whiplash that is in the vicinity of $2.5 million for North America, Germany and Australia. This was the festival’s opening night film. It stars Miles Teller as a school drummer with potential who strives for perfection under the tutelage of a ruthless band conductor, played by J.K. Simmons. SundanceWriter/director Damien Chazelle originated Whiplash as a prize winning short at last year’s Sundance and came back with a feature length film this time. Austin Stowell also starred.

Related: Sundance: SPWA Nabs International Rights To ‘Whiplash’

The film played through the roof, and got stellar reviews after its Thursday night bow. Yesterday, the festival was buzzing about the film, and word around was that distributors including Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate and A24 were kicking the tires. But it was SPC partners Michael Barker and Tom Bernard that swooped in to close the deal. The auction has been going on from Friday night through early Saturday. A humorous break in the action came when a Farmers Insurance commercial came on (the TV was playing in the background) featuring the insurance company’s spokesman — Simmons. Will provide more details when I get them. Most of the film’s foreign rights sold to Sony, so there is symmetry to this deal. WME Global repped the film. Read More »

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Sundance: ‘Whiplash’ Gets Bites And Hockey Takes Stage On Sunday

By | Friday January 17, 2014 @ 11:00am PST
Mike Fleming

hansenSundance is overcrowding Main Street already early Friday, and it didn’t take long for the deal-making to begin. Of the two hot Thursday titles, Dinosaur 13 found a home with Lionsgate and CNN Films, and the other title Whiplash is in play with Lionsgate/Roadside and A24 the outlets I’ve heard in the mix though the sale might take a little time because others like Radius-TWC are catching up to it. The pic played great in the room, I’m told.

Related: Sundance: Sony Nabs International Rights To  ‘Whiplash’

Sundance2014_badge__140109214059__140116020608Elsewhere, hockey players are massing again for the seventh annual Luc Robitaille Celebrity Shootout fundraiser which takes place Sunday from 2:30-4:30 at the Park City Ice Arena. It’s a mashup of former pro players, celebs and executives. While I risk Tom Bernard passing me on Main Street and hip-checking me into Banksy’s defaced wall painting, my understanding of the proceedings is this: real former NHLers Robitaille, Brendan Shanahan, Chris Chelios, Sean O’Donnell, Ron Duguay, Larry Murphy, Claude Lemieux, Anson Carter and Brad May skate around at half speed and try to keep a straight face as they humor the huffing and puffing hockey player wannabes David Boreanaz, Steven R McQueen, Michael Vartan, Andie MacDowell, Isaiah Mustafa, Alan Thicke, Michael Rosenbaum, musicians John Ondrasik, Taylor Dayne, Matisyahu and Sony Pictures Classics’ Bernard, Read More »

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Sundance: Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Nabs International Rights To Fest Opener ‘Whiplash’

By | Thursday January 16, 2014 @ 9:06pm PST

whipl__140117002425Park City, UT (January 16, 2014) – Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (SPWA) has acquired rights to several international territories to this year’s 2014 Sundance Film Festival opening night feature film, WHIPLASH, starring J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller. Territories acquired include: UK, Scandinavia, Benelux, Eastern Europe (ex CIS), Greece, South Africa, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Latin America.

Related: Fleming On 2014 Sundance Forecast: Thriving Indie Biz Makes Appetite Strong; Un-Commercial Slate Could Limit Big Deals

Sundance2014_badge__140109214059__140116020608The deal was made by SPWA’s Michael Helfand, Jon Freedberg and Chan Phung and international sales agency Sierra/Affinity on behalf of Bold Films. Directed and written by Damien Chazelle (Guy And Madeline On A Park Bench), WHIPLASH is adapted from a short film that won Sundance’s jury award for fiction in 2013 (also written and directed by Chazelle). Producers are Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, Michel Litvak and David Lancaster; with Jason Reitman, Gary Michael Walters and Couper Samuelson executive producing. Bold Films financed the movie.

Related: 2014 Sundance: Fest Films With Highest Wanna-See From Buyers

Read More »

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Fleming On 2014 Sundance Forecast: Thriving Indie Biz Makes Appetite Strong; Un-Commercial Slate Could Limit Big Deals

Mike Fleming

Sundance2014_badge__140109214059__140116020608The Sundance Film Festival market gets underway tonight, and it could start with a bidding bang for Whiplash, seen here first as a short and now a feature starring Miles Teller as a drummer trying to survive his ruthless school band conductor (J.K. Simmons). Then again, buyers could find it’s not the second coming of Precious, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, or last year’s gem Fruitvale Station. It will still sell if that happens, it will just take longer, with its prospect for a meaningful theatrical release dimming with each passing day.

Park City Prepares For The Sundance Film Festival - 2014 Sundance Film FestivalMore than any recent year in memory, this Sundance program might well have been programmed by Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid screenwriter William Goldman, because of how the fest follows his famous adage about Hollywood that “Nobody knows anything.” It’s harder than usual to predict this fest’s breakout films because nothing jumps off the page as a can’t-miss. How does that make buyers feel? One buyer likened himself and his competitors as being like a bunch of old men on a beach, with shorts, black socks, and metal detectors, combing the sand for that diamond ring someone dropped amidst the beer can pull tops and other debris. “You’ve got to cover the whole beach or you’ll miss something,” he said. “On paper, a lot of these films have good casts and potential until you see them, get disappointed and find something in the little movie which has no stars, and is much harder to market,” the distributor said. “There are so many buyers here and so much competition, you really have to be on your toes and see everything.”

Related: 2014 Sundance: Fest Films With Highest Wanna-See From Buyers

frankThere is a sense of deja vu here for the number of past Sundance directors returning with projects (they include Zach Braff, Mike Cahill, Richard Linklater, Lynne Shelton, Gregg Araki and Jake Paltrow), but also because of programming decisions which seem to increasingly bring the fest back to its origins of prizing smaller left-of-center fare. Read More »

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Sundance 2014: Fest Films With Highest Wanna-See From Buyers

By | Thursday January 16, 2014 @ 4:32pm PST
Mike Fleming

Sundance2014_badge__140109214059__140116020608Here are the 2014 Sundance Film Festival titles brought up most often in talks with buyers. It’s a hard year to handicap them; sellers haven’t previewed them for buyers, and sometimes the great ones sneak up on you. Not on the list is Boyhood, the film that Richard Linklater made using the same cast over a 12-year span. IFC is believed to have an in on that film, which makes its official premiere in Berlin.

Related: Fleming On 2014 Sundance Forecast: Thriving Indie Biz Makes Appetite Strong; Un-Commercial Slate Could Limit Big Deals

whiplWHIPLASH – Writer/Director: Damien Chazelle, Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Austin Stowell. In U.S. Dramatic Competition. The kid just want to play drums in the school band, but the ruthless band conductor and his taskmaster way might drum him out of the group. 1st Screening, Today,  6:00 PM – Eccles (UPDATE: Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions picked this up Thursday night for several overseas territories as it kicked off the fest’s opening night.)

I, ORIGIN – Writer/Director: Mike Cahill. Cast: Michael Pitt, Brit Marling. A Biologists make a startling discovery. A Sci-Fi followup to Cahill’s Sundance entry Another Earth. 1st Screening – Saturday, January 18th, 3:30 PM – Eccles

Related: Sundance: A Look Back On How Last Year’s Acquisitions Fared At The Box Office

INFINITELY POLAR BEAR – Writer/Director: Maya Forbes, Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana. In U.S. Dramatic Competition. A man who suffers from bipolar syndrome cares for his two daughters while their mom starts a career and he struggles to keep his demons at bay. 1st Screening – Saturday, January 18th, 12:15 PM – Eccles

WISH I WAS HERE – Writer/Director:  Zach Braff. Cast: Braff, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Jim Parsons, Ashley Greene. Braff plays a struggling dad who tries to home school his children. This is one of the high profile titles here, by merit of its widely publicized Kickstarter fundraising campaign. Braff helmed Garden State. 1st Screening – Saturday, January 18th, 11:15 AM – MARC Read More »

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‘Fast & Furious 7′ Adds Djimon Hounsou; ‘Glee’s Melissa Benoist Gets ‘Whiplash’; Liana Liberato Joins ‘If I Stay’

By | Wednesday September 11, 2013 @ 5:50pm PDT

Djimon Hounsou is adding his muscle to Universal‘s Fast & Furious 7, the studio announced today. He’ll join franchise veterans Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and Tyrese, along with new baddie Jason Statham. The sequel helmed by James Wan is due to hit theaters July 11. Hounsou is repped by CAA, manager Peter Safran and Sloane, Offer, Weber and Dern.

Glee‘s Melissa Benoist has been cast in Whiplash, adapted from writer-director Damien Chazelle’s Sundance-winning short film. J.K. Simmons plays a brutal jazz teacher who unloads his frustrations on a novice drummer (Miles Teller) who begins to lose his humanity in his quest to play with the country’s top jazz orchestra. Benoist just finished filming Imagine with Al Pacino and Annette Benning. She’s repped by UTA, Authentic Talent & Literary Management and Frankfurt Kurnit.

Liana Liberato will play Chloe Moretz’s best friend, a sarcastic book nerd, in If I Stay. R.J. Cutler’s film is based on Gayle Forman’s YA novel about a comatose teenager who has an out-of-body experience in the hospital and must choose between living a difficult life or giving up. Liberato, whose credits include Trust and Stuck In Love, is repped by Management 360 and CAA.

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‘The Spectacular Now’s Miles Teller Gets ‘Whiplash’

By | Monday August 5, 2013 @ 3:12pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Miles Teller, who went from Project X to The Spectacular Now, has signed on to star in Whiplash, a feature that’s being made from the Sundance Short Film Jury Award-winning pic of the same title. Damien Chazelle, who wrote the short, will direct the full-length feature, which starts shooting in September.J.K. Simmons portrays a brutal jazz orchestra teacher who unloads his frustrations on a novice drummer (Teller) who begins to lose his humanity in his quest to become the core skins pounder of the top jazz orchestra in the country. The tone they’re going for is Full Metal Jacket at Juilliard — and if you’ve seen Simmons’ work in the HBO series Oz, he’s quite a tormenter when motivated. Whiplash is produced by Bold Films, Jason Reitman, Helen Estabrook, Jason Blum and Couper Samuelson. Bold Films is financing the picture. Teller is repped by CAA. Teller next co-stars in Divergent, and co-stars opposite Zac Efron and Michael B. Jordan in Film District’s Are We Officially Dating. The Whiplash short was made specifically to get funding for a feature-length version, and it worked.

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Cannes: Bold, Blumhouse, Right Of Way Strike Up Band For Feature Version Of Sundance Short ‘Whiplash’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Bold Films, Blumhouse Productions and Right of Way Films are teaming up to bring Damien Chazelle‘s Sundance Prize-winning short Whiplash to the screen as a feature. Bold Films will fully finance the film. Chazelle was basically dared by Right of Way and Blumhouse to direct a short based on his Black List script about a talented young drummer who strives for perfection under the instruction of a ruthless band conductor. That short was produced by Reitman’s partner Helen Estabrook and Blumhouse EVP Couper Samuelson, along with Nicholas Britell and was awarded the 2013 Sundance short film jury prize. J.K. Simmons will reprise his role from the short and star in the feature. WME Global is repping domestic rights and Sierra/Affinity is selling offshore territories. Read More »

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