For almost 20 years, Letty Aronson has been producing the films of her big brother, Woody Allen: She worries about the commercial concerns while Allen focuses on the creative. Their partnership is such a well-oiled machine that Aronson admits, “I’m so used to the way he works, it always bothers me when someone else doesn’t work that way.” Aronson got her start as a producer working with Jean Doumanian, then took over producing Allen’s films after his working relationship with Doumanian ended in a bitter legal battle. Since then, she’s kept up Allen’s pace of making a film a year, and earned her first Oscar nomination for 2011’s Midnight In Paris. Aronson’s most recent production is Blue Jasmine, which has been a hit at the box office and has given Cate Blanchett frontrunner status for a best actress Oscar.
Related: OSCARS: Ballots Are Out And The Race Is On, But Will Voters See The Movies In Time?
AwardsLine: Has it gotten any easier to finance the films you produce, especially considering the strength of Woody Allen as a brand?
Letty Aronson: Not really. (Laughs.) Except for independent financiers in this country, we get no money from any studio, not even a discussion. After all the hullabaloo of Midnight In Paris, I didn’t get one call from any studio. But I can understand that because they don’t work the way we work. In going out and looking for money, I tell people right up front: They can’t read the script; they don’t have input into the cast; they don’t see dailies; they don’t see a rough cut. They’re really investing in Woody and his reputation. They’re not going to make hundreds of millions of dollars, either. We’re low risk, low reward. The studios don’t work that way, but in Europe, there’s never been a studio system. It’s really always been independent financiers. So it’s easier to go there (with) all these different rules and get money. We don’t want to spend a lot on the films because we would like to pay our investors back. For some, we put together a three-picture deal. If we don’t know the people, I don’t love putting together a three-picture deal because who knows if we’ll like working with them after the first picture? But it’s not any easier. A film like Blue Jasmine, which got the most spectacular reviews, is up to almost $34 million in this country. Now another film without Woody’s name on it that got those kind of reviews would earn three times that much. Read More »
In this special holiday edition of our Deadline Awards Watch podcast, Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks with Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett. Pete’s interview with Cooper, recorded early in the year, touches on Cooper’s work in The Place Beyond The Pines. Cooper also shares thoughts on doing his own stunts, learning to be a cop and the best thing about awards season a year after his breakout performance in 2012′s Silver Linings Playbook. Cooper also talks about reteaming with Silver Linings director David O. Russell for American Hustle, and his upcoming projects with directors Cameron Crowe and Steven Spielberg.
Pete also talks with Blanchett about her work in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. She talks about the “absurdity and tragedy” in every scene of Allen’s film, which has had more box office success than any in his long career, and discusses the differences between the “not verbose” Allen, Peter Jackson on The Hobbit trilogy and Terence Malick on multiple projects. She also talks about creating a character who’s very much like Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, and the challenges of balancing a career on film and on stage, including running a theater company with her husband, with the demands of raising young children.
Deadline Awards Watch podcast 57 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Awards Watch podcast 57 (.M4A version)
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It seems Cate Blanchett can do it all. She has played the Queen of England (Elizabeth I in Elizabeth) as well as the Queen of Hollywood (Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator), for which she earned a supporting actress Oscar. But it wasn’t until this year that a cinematic match made in heaven occurred when Woody Allen rang her up and asked her to be in one of his films. Their pairing in Blue Jasmine does not disappoint. As a tragic victim of her own excessive lifestyle, Blanchett is heartbreakingly real and complex, a modern-day Blanche DuBois, but so much more. The role has won her critical raves and she has remained at the top of every Oscar pundit’s best actress list since the movie was released in July. In fact today she won the New York Film Critics Circles Best Actress award for the role. With Allen’s record of directing actors to Oscars and Blanchett’s fiercely sad and funny performance, it’s a good bet she will stay on top on those lists all the way through March.
Related: New York Film Critics Circle Awards Winners
AwardsLine: What was it about the role in Blue Jasmine that clicked for you?
Cate Blanchett: Where to start? When you get the call, you’ve already said yes before you’ve even read the script because of (Woody Allen’s) body of work and his sensibility, the opportunities he provides for actors and ensembles. I was won over by the absurdity and the tragedy that exists in pretty much every scene. It’s a portrait of a breakdown in many ways, but it’s also a story (about) people having relationships based on exteriors rather than what’s going on internally.
Related: Santa Barbara To Honor Cate Blanchett As Performer Of The Year
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EXCLUSIVE: Last week, we scooped that Woody Allen would not attend the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards on January 12 where he will be the recipient of the 2014 Cecil B. DeMille Award. Now we can reveal that his longtime friend and muse Diane Keaton will accept the award on his behalf. I have learned that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association made the decision to honor Allen with the knowledge that the Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning filmmaker would not attend. Keaton was then approached about receiving the award on his behalf. Keaton and Allen met in 1968 when she auditioned and was cast in his Broadway play, Play It Again, Sam. They were a couple for 5 years and are still very good friends today. Keaton appeared in eight Allen films spanning two decades, winning an Oscar and Golden Globe for 1976′s Annie Hall.
Allen is notorious about shunning awards shows. He wasn’t present to receive any of his four Oscars out of 23 nominations and has shied away from the Golden Globes despite 13 nominations and two wins. In fact, the only awards show he ever attended was the 2002 Academy Awards as an ambassador of New York, thanking Hollywood for its support of his beloved city post-9/11. “There is no one more worthy of this … Read More »
‘Fast & Furious’ Star Paul Walker Killed In Car Crash
By The Deadline Team – The Santa Clarita office of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department just issued an update on the fatal car accident involving actor Paul Walker, declaring that “speed was a factor in the solo vehicle collision” and listing the car involved as a red 2005 Porsche Carrera GT.
PHOTOS: Paul Walker, 1973-2013
‘Catching Fire’ Holiday Haul Puts It On Track To Be Biz’s Next Billion Dollar Grosser; $573 Million So Far
By Mike Fleming Jr. – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has blown past expectations once again, and has earned $573 million in worldwide gross. This after a $28.5 million Saturday night.
DeMille Award Recipient Woody Allen Not Expected To Attend Golden Globes
By Nellie Andreeva – It looks like Woody Allen will be staying true to his principles of shunning awards shows (and Los Angeles). I hear that the Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning filmmaker is not expected to attend the Golden Globes in January, where he will be the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award. I hear the Hollywood Foreign Press Association made the decision to honor Allen without securing a commitment from him that he would attend.
OSCARS: Scorsese And DiCaprio Back In The Race As ‘Wolf Of Wall Street’ Makes A Raucous Debut
By Pete Hammond – The last shoe to drop in the 2013 awards race hit Saturday as Martin Scorsese‘s much-awaited The Wolf Of Wall Street was unveiled to SAG voters at a couple of screenings at the WGA theatre in Beverly Hills. I caught the film earlier at a small 10 AM screening for some of the cast members on the Paramount lot and then moderated the Q&A following the 6:30 PM screening of the 3 hour film. To say it was rapturously received would be an understatement. Read More »
It looks like Woody Allen will be staying true to his principles of shunning awards shows (and Los Angeles). I hear that the Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning filmmaker is not expected to attend the Golden Globes in January, where he will be the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award. I hear the Hollywood Foreign Press Association made the decision to honor Allen without securing a commitment from him that he would attend. “There is no one more worthy of this award than Woody Allen,” the HFPA said in September when making the announcement. “His contributions to filmmaking have been phenomenal, and he truly is an international treasure.”
Related: New Woody Allen Pic Titled ‘Magic In The Moonlight’
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Oscar winner Cate Blanchett will receive the Santa Barbara International Film Festival‘s 2014 Outstanding Performer of the Year Award for her performance in Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine on Saturday February 1. She’ll be honored during the 29th edition of the fest which runs January 30-February 9. “In her first collaboration with master director Woody Allen, Blanchett knocks it out of the park in the best performance of her already illustrious career,“ said Roger Durling, SBIFF Executive Director. “We’re so grateful to be able to celebrate her achievement.” In Blue Jasmine Blanchett portrays Jasmine French, a deeply conflicted and complex woman in the throes of her world unraveling. Her compelling performance generated early Oscar buzz for the film since its limited debut in July. Read the release here: Read More »
Woody Allen‘s movie titles certainly have that … Woody Allen vibe. His latest pic starring Emma Stone and Colin Firth and set in the South of France will be called Magic In The Moonlight, which evokes a certain other France-set Allen movie — Midnight In Paris. Sony Pictures Classics sure hopes so: that last SPC-distributed pic became Allen’s highest-grossing movie ever and landed four Oscar nominations, winning for Allen’s original script. Eileen Atkins, Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater, Simon McBurney and Jacki Weaver star in the new film.
Thanks to two smoking scenes in his Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen pulled the film’s India release over the weekend rather than allow government-mandated anti-smoking warnings to be inserted onscreen during scenes when characters light up. His reps confirmed the move: “Due to content in the film, it cannot be shown in India in its intended manner. Therefore, the film is not scheduled to play there.” The Oscar hopeful starring Cate Blanchett was scheduled to open in the territory in 30 theaters. India distributor PVR Pictures had no choice but to defer to Allen who retained creative control over the pic and refused to make “customizations” to accommodate India law. “He wasn’t comfortable with the disclaimer that we are required to run when some smoking scene is shown in films. He feels that when the scroll comes, attention goes to it rather than the scene,” PVR’s Deepak Sharma told BBC. Blue Jasmine has taken in $49.8M globally to date, with $18.5M coming from foreign box office.
EXCLUSIVE: The John Turturro-directed Fading Gigolo has sold in a $3 million deal to Millennium Entertainment, I’m hearing. The deal is for U.S. rights, and another source just told me the deal will close between $2 million and $3 million. The film stars Turturro as a man who aspires to be a professional Don Juan in order to raise money to help his friend. Woody Allen plays the pal, and he effectively becomes his pimp. The film premiered Saturday evening at the Isabel Bader Theatre and it also stars Vanessa Paradis, Liev Schreiber, Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara. QED International and ICM Partners is closing up the deal. I believe that it’s the first time that Woody has played a pimp in a feature film, so this is truly a cinematic first. Jeffrey Kusama-Hunte produced with QED’s Bill Block and Paul Hanson.
The deal will likely be the first of several over the next couple of days. It felt like all the oxygen left the room after the mammoth auctions for the Jason Bateman-directed Bad Words that was acquired by Focus and the John Carney-directed Can A Song Save Your Life?, which was acquired by The Weinstein Company after an all-night auction. A bunch of acquisition titles got good reaction, but nobody seems in that much of a hurry to close. Maybe a deal like this will get things moving.
Here is the Fading Gigolo trailer: Read More »
Over the past several years, Woody Allen has shuttled between the U.S. and some of Europe’s big cities to make his films. If the mayor of Rio has his way, Allen will be flying to Latin America for his next effort. Mayor Eduardo Paes told Brazilian newspaper O Globo that he will pay “whatever it takes” to get Allen to shoot there. Paes further pledged, “I’ll pay 100% of the production.” He said he’s gone to great lengths to express his desire to Allen, including speaking with his sister, producer Letty Aronson, and getting a message to him via architect Santiago Calatrava. Brazil has been in the news recently for uprisings over, among other things, government spending on the upcoming World Cup and Summer Olympics. But Paes said he would put up with expected criticisms from locals for handing over “the millions” that would be required.
Woody Allen plays pimp to John Turturro‘s unlikely Don Juan in writer-director-star Turturro’s Fading Gigolo, which was added today to next month’s Toronto Film Festival lineup. Sharon Stone, Sofia Vergara, and Vanessa Paradis co-star in Turturro’s fifth film behind the camera. Here’s the trailer:
Sony Pictures Classics is bumping up the Richard Linklater relationship sequel after a fruitful two month run. The pic has taken in $7.7M domestic and $10.6M globally so far, besting box office grosses for predecessors Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Before Midnight stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy (who also both co-wrote) reprising their characters nearly twenty years after their first all-nighter meet cute. After an initial expansion that hit nearly 900 screens in May, Before Midnight‘s screen count decreased to 78 theaters by last week. Today SPC announced it’s once again expanding the pic’s run, this time to 226 screens. Meanwhile SPC’s other critical darling, Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine, is primed for a screen boost following its stellar debut last week. The film gave Allen the best per-screen average of the year and is generating Oscar buzz for star Cate Blanchett.
The nascent awards season finally got a big shot of adrenaline this past weekend with the record-breaking limited debut of Woody Allen‘s latest, Blue Jasmine and the strong expansions of The Weinstein Company’s Fruitvale Station and Fox Searchlight’s The Way, Way Back. It’s beginning to look like Fall in July as it is clear the appetite for some serious Oscar fare is heating up. After a steady dose this summer of monsters, zombies, superheroes, guns, garbage and Adam Sandler, things are looking up and names like Fruitvale’s Ryan Coogler, Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer and Way, Way Back’s Sam Rockwell and writer/directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash might have reason to celebrate if they can keep the heat of their mid-summer splash going throughout the next few months.
But no one has started 2013 Oscar talk quite like Cate Blanchett‘s unanimously acclaimed performance in Blue Jasmine. The film’s huge weekend opening in six theaters in LA and NY has now only fueled the buzz with the Sony Pictures Classics release grabbing the best per screen average of the year and for any Allen film, even eclipsing his Oscar juggernaut of two years ago, Midnight In Paris to soar over $100,000 per screen. Oscar voters also got to see the film this weekend and turned out in droves to the Academy in Beverly Hills on Saturday afternoon with a near-capacity crowd that, according to my spies, gave the film a strong reception. “Lots of good chatter on the way out. The woman next to me said, ‘well there’s an Oscar nomination for sure’,” said one who was there. SAG Nominating Committee voters also sparked to the film and Blanchett at a packed special screening at Harmony Gold Thursday night where Blanchett, appearing for a Q&A with co-stars Andrew Dice Clay and Peter Sarsgaard, received a standing ovation. The film has a strong 85% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes just to put a cherry on top for SPC.
It’s probably always risky to make a bold prediction about anything Oscar-related in the middle of summer but Blanchett seems a cinch for a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role as a New York socialite in the midst of an emotional freefall after losing everything in a Madoff-like financial scandal perpetrated by her husband. It’s the kind of complex stuff awards are made of. In fact if the film, a more serious outing for Allen, can maintain the pace it’s setting Allen himself along with co-stars Sally Hawkins and Bobby Cannavale could be contenders.
I talked to SPC’s Michael Barker the other night about the strategy of going out in summer and he said audiences, particularly adult audiences, are ready at this point. He’s absolutely right as the turnout in theaters and the Academy proves. Also being a fresh quality picture before the glut of Fall releases all start cannibalizing each other for Oscar attention seems like a very smart move - if you have the goods. Read More »
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine sparkled at the Box Office this weekend, grossing nearly $603K, out-performing Midnight In Paris ($99,834 debut average in 6 theaters), the director’s best-grossing film to date. The Sony Classics feature opened in 6 theaters, averaging a shiny $102,128, placing the film atop the year’s specialty debuts. “It certainly belies the myth opening,” said SPC’s Michael Barker about debuting against the summer blockbusters. “When we first screened the film I remember we heard that people said, “‘Why aren’t you waiting until the fall?’ Our response was that a good serious film will be a good breath of fresh air.” Jasmine edges out Spring Breakers in the averages game in 2013. The To-Do List, meanwhile, became this summer’s largest opening specialty, bowing in 591 theaters, grossing a cool $1.535M. Coming back down to earth, Hong Kong director Johnnie To’s Drug War opened in one theater, grossing a decent $7K, while fellow Sino title Tiny Times averaged $4,167 in three runs.
Blue Jasmine‘s b.o. cha-ching apparently isn’t an aberration. Fox Searchlight‘s The Way, Way Back and TWC’s Sundance winner Fruitvale Station continue to lure discerning audiences away from the tentpoles. The company said it would take the title wide this weekend and it really delivered. The Weinsteins pushed Fruitvale out to 1,064 theaters (last week in only 34 runs) and the film by this year’s indie darling Ryan Coogler held up. It averaged $4,377 and the distributor touted its numbers Sunday. And Fox Searchlight added 582 runs for its hit The Way, Way Back, grossing $3.3M ($3,724 average). It’s been noted that the film cost a cool $10M to buy, so it will take some time to make a return for the company, but it is clearly showing momentum. Back has cumed about $9 million to date. Read More »
BREAKING …The cast of Woody Allen’s latest film is growing. Marcia Gay Harden and Jacki Weaver along with Eileen Atkins, Hamish Linklater and Simon McBurney have all joined the as yet untitled pic. As Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr reported back in April, Emma Stone and Colin Firth have already signed on to the project. Currently filming in the south of France, the Gravier Productions film from Allen is being produced by Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum. This is the director’s second movie set in France after Midnight In Paris and Allen’s eighth project overall set in Europe. Allen’s Blue Jasmine, starring Alec Baldwin, Louis CK and Cate Blanchett among others, is set to be released by Sony Pictures Classics on July 26. Weaver is repped by ICM Partners. Harden is repped by UTA and Framework Entertainment.
Having returned from his recent cinematic tour of European capitals, Woody Allen sets his new film in San Francisco. Blue Jasmine stars Cate Blanchett as a pampered New York housewife who has it all — until her wealthy husband (Alec Baldwin) is exposed as a crook and she goes “dead broke”. So she heads to the City by the Bay to crash with her sister (Sally Hawkins). Says Blanchett’s Jasmine, “Anxiety, nightmares and a nervous breakdown — there’s only so many traumas a person can stand before they take to the streets and start screaming.” Bobby Cannavale, Louis C.K., Andrew Dice Clay, Peter Sarsgaard and Michael Stuhlbarg co-star in the film produced by Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum and Edward Walson. Sony Pictures Classics opens it July 26: