About Time stars Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander and Margot Robbie and was written and directed by Love Actually‘s Richard Curtis. The Universal/Working Title pic centers on a young man (Gleeson) who learns he can travel through time. But as he finds his true love (McAdams) and sets off on their life together, he discovers his gift has its complications too. The movie’s platform release date is November 1 before going wide the next weekend.
BREAKING: StudioCanal has filed suit against Universal Pictures alleging failure to honor fiduciary and contractual responsibilities in their longtime joint venture to fund movies produced by Working Title Films. StudioCanal says Universal owes “tens of millions of dollars and likely much more” as a result of an October 2012 audit of the joint venture’s development and overhead expenses on six of 44 movies made through the joint venture. The audit of the expenses, which according to the suit were managed by Universal, revealed that it had hidden certain off-balance sheet financing arrangements and misreported ancillary revenue from music publishing and other sources. The suit (read it here) also claims Universal double-charged the partnership for producing and other fees paid to Working Title without StudioCanal’s approval and deducted millions of dollars in unsubstantiated expenses before reporting results to StudioCanal. ”
StudioCanal says it has attempted unsuccessfully to discuss the audit and claims with Universal. StudioCanal executives flew to LA from Paris in late October for what they believed based on emails was a scheduled meeting with Universal’s team to discuss the situation. When they arrived, the Universal execs claimed they didn’t know anything about such plans, according to the suit. After that meeting Universal stopped providing accounting statements and payments, and StudioCanal alleges that subsequent attempts to communicate with Universal have proved similarly fruitless: “Universal is behaving as if its partner StudioCanal does not even exist”. The suit says Universal’s lack of cooperation has forced StudioCanal to litigate the matter.
LOS ANGELES, CA (November 14, 2012) – The Producers Guild of America (PGA) is pleased to announce that Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, co-chairmen of Working Title Films, will receive the 2013 David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures. The award recognizes a producer’s, or a producing team’s, outstanding body of work and is the PGA’s highest honor for motion picture producers. Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner will be presented the award at the 24th Annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony on Saturday, January 26th at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.
Tolstoy as re-imagined by Joe Wright and Tom Stoppard came to the Toronto International Film Festival in a big way Friday night as Focus Features’ adaptation of Anna Karenina made its North American debut. “They gave us a nice little standing ovation,” said a modest Wright who told me at the Soho House after-party this film means so much to him that he doesn’t know how he is going to follow it. He had great success early in his directing career with Oscar nominees like Pride & Prejudice and Atonement (which both featured his Anna Karenina star Keira Knightley) but then detoured to different kinds of films like The Soloist and action flick Hanna. Now that he’s back in this literary space he can appreciate the success more, he says.
Wright came up with the concept of staging the story in a theatre and then moving it in and out of that setting. It’s a unique and risky idea but really pays off in the execution. As Focus Features chief James Schamus told me, “This film is ravishing to look at.” A couple of critics have been naysayers but Schamus isn’t concerned about them. He says most will get it. Schamus plans an aggressive platform release strategy after the November 16th opening and should be relatively wide by December. Focus hopes it will draw upscale audiences who flock to this sort of thing but also younger women who may relate to the plight of Anna and the young actors cast here. It premiered in England earlier in the week and opens there this weekend.
This Anna Karenina certainly is a lot different than the version MGM and Greta Garbo served up in the 1930s. Wright’s bold concept of losing some of the naturalism and putting it in a theatrical setting wasn’t in Stoppard’s script – and he had to convince the writer it was the way to go. But in the end it all worked out. He said the premiere at Toronto’s classic Elgin theatre was almost surreal since it looked like the theatre-in-the-film-in-a-theatre. It’s an instant contender for a Best Picture, Director and Screenplay slot. Knightley’s go-for-broke work is likely to land her in the Best Actress race again, and producers also hope Jude Law as her husband gets attention in the supporting category. Pic also can easily expect Oscar nominations in numerous categories including the cinematography of Seamus McGarvey, production design of Sarah Greenwood, costume design of Jacqueline Durran, and musical score of Dario Marianelli (who is already an Oscar winner for Atonement).
Simon Baker, Rafe Spall and Stephen Merchant also star in the comedy from Studiocanal and Working Title. The companies today announced a February 14, 2013 UK release date for the Dan Mazer-scripted film about a young couple in their first year of marriage. Principal photography starts at the end of April in London. Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Kris Thykier are producers with Debra Hayward and Liza Chasin exec producing. This is Mazer’s feature directing debut; he’s best known for collaborating with Sacha Baron Cohen as a writer/producer dating back to the days of Da Ali G Show and through to the upcoming The Dictator (in which Faris also stars). In a statement, Mazer said: “I am utterly thrilled to have the opportunity to make my directorial debut supported by such outstanding producers and a brilliant cast. I consider myself blessed to unequivocally be the weakest link in the whole equation. I am foolish enough to make a film where I am unable as a director
It’s official: Atonement director Joe Wright and star Keira Knightley are reteaming for Anna Karenina, the Working Title films adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel that was written by Tom Stoppard. The film will be distributed by Focus Features in the U.S. and Universal Pictures International worldwide sometime in the second half of 2012. Working Title co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing with Paul Webster; the trio were 2008 Oscar nominees as producers of Atonement.
Universal Pictures and Working Title are out with a new trailer for Johnny English Reborn, the fumbling spy character played by Rowan Atkinson. Rosamund Pike and Dominic West also star. The film will be released Oct. 28. Why’s the studio making another installment of this franchise? Though Atkinson’s little known …
Senna, a documentary about Brazilian race car driver Ayrton Senna that has become the highest-grossing British doc in UK history, is being released in the U.S. on Aug. 12 by Producers Distribution Agency (Exit Through the Gift Shop). The Working Title production in association with Midfield Films won the World Cinema …
Over the past 16 years, Working Title has made Britain’s biggest-ever movies including Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Bean. The company headed by Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner is responsible for 96 films grossing $4.8 billion worldwide, 60% of which came from Universal’s 46 Working Title releases. (Working Title started off indie until 1992 when it was acquired by Polygram until 1999 when Universal bought Polygram and with it, Working Title.) Its movies have won six Oscars, 26 Baftas and prizes at Cannes and Berlin. Forget Korda. Ignore Puttnam. Bevan and Fellner are easily Britain’s most successful cinema magnates. Yet something almost always goes wrong every time they veer away from Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson, who are responsible for nine out of the top 10 highest-grossing Working Title films. There also has been a succession of political films and expensive thrillers. When it comes to deciding what to make, Bevan says everything starts with passion. So A Serious Man, United 93, Elizabeth:The Golden Age, Burn After Reading, and The Interpreter put him in business with big stars or big directors or both. “These are A-list people that most producers would kill to work with. More than that, they feed your mind,” Bevan told me in a recent interview. It was Fellner and Bevan who gave Joe Wright a huge break and $28 million to direct Keira Knightley in 2005′s Pride and Prejudice, which made $121 million in worldwide box office gross and resulted in 4 Oscar nods for Focus Features/Universal. But Universal lost $50 million on Paul Greengrass directing Matt Damon in 2010′s underperforming Green Zone after its gross budget swelled from $80 million to $130 million (not including tax incentives).
“The last batch of movies represented them breaking free of the Working Title formula,” says one producer who’s worked with them. “In Hollywood, you’re judged by how you’ve just done, not what you’ve made over the years. So they’ve gone back to the formulaic stuff. It’s depressing.” Still, retreating “back in their wheelhouse”, as the American phrase goes, is also smart business. For now, Working Title is playing it safer. Indian Summer, a big budget movie about the last days of Britain’s colonial rule of India in 1947, has been dry-docked even though Joe Wright (Atonement) was set to direct Cate Blanchett as Lady Edwina Mountbatten. As Bevan says in an interview with me, “You don’t produce a misfire and then not take heed from it.” Fellner adds: “It’s a consolidation period for us. A retrenchment period.” To that end, Working Title made six staff redundant in July last year, reducing headcount to around 40, which is historically what it’s always been.
Working Title’s latest release is the sequel to Emma Thompson’s Nanny McPhee Returns which Universal releases August 20th. Upcoming projects include Johnny English Reborn starring Rowan Atkinson and Gillian Anderson, as well as the Richard Curtis comedy Lost For Words, and a third Bridget Jones movie. The first Johnny English, which cost $40 million to make, earned just $28 million in America but did enormous business internationally grossing $132 million overseas. That’s typical: Working Title movies routinely make 2/3s of their gross outside of North America. Bevan tells me, “The thing that always sets us apart is that we’ve always done so well in the international marketplace. If there’s going to be any growth in this business, it’s going to be outside of North America.” And yet, waiting for Bevan and Fellner in their office building, I realize that Working Title has always struck me as being intensely London — as much a part of the city as red double-decker buses, Trafalgar Square, and pigeons. Even its logo used to look like the symbol for London Underground.
When Bevan and Fellner first sat down with then Universal CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr in 1998,
Eric Fellner, co-chairman of Working Title, is backing a new online game being created by the UK producers of Kate Modern. The game, which will launch in November, claims to blur the lines between film and gaming.
Tom Thirlwall, co-founder of We …
EXCLUSIVE: The X Files star has been cast as MI7 secret agent Pamela Head in Johnny English Reborn. The Working Title film starts shooting in September. Anderson stars opposite Rowan Atkinson, reprising his turn as the buffoonish spy. She’s represented by …