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Elizabeth Debicki, Isabella Rossellini Join Virginia Woolf Biopic ‘Vita & Virginia’

49 minutes ago

Elizabeth Debicki and Isabella Rossellini have joined the cast of Virginia Woolf biopic “Vita & Virginia” for Protagonist Pictures, it was announced Wednesday by Protagonist CEO Dave Bishop. The finance, production and sales company has also closed a deal with distributor Thunderbird Releasing to take all U.K. rights on the film.

The Night Manager” star Debicki, who recently appeared in James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2,” will play Virginia Woolf opposite Gemma Arterton in the period drama, which tells the true story of the unconventional love affair between socialite Vita Sackville-West (Arterton) and Woolf. Rossellini’s role has not been announced.

“‘Vita & Virginia’ is the true story of two of the most fascinating and progressive women of their time, who end up in the throes of a passionate affair which shapes their work and changes their lives forever,” said Vanessa Saal, managing director of sales and distribution for Protagonist.

Set »


- Robert Mitchell

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Cornerstone Films Takes Worldwide Sales on Jehovah’s Witness Film ‘Apostasy’

2 hours ago

Cornerstone Films has boarded Daniel Kokotajlo’s directorial debut feature “Apostasy” ahead of its world premiere at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival. The sales company will introduce the film to buyers in Toronto.

Apostasy” is based on Kokotajlo’s own experiences as a former Jehovah’s Witness, telling a story of the complex nature of faith, family, duty and love. It follows the story of two sisters (Sacha Parkinson and Molly Wright) in Manchester’s Jehovah’s Witness community whose faith and family connection is tested when one if condemned for fornication with a non-believer and the other is pressured to shun her sibling. Siobhan Finneran plays the girls’ equally devout mother. Robert Emms also stars.

“Daniel has sensitively questioned the notion of unconditional familial love [and] while doing so created three powerful roles for strong and complex women struggling to find their place in their community and in their relationships with one another,” said »


- Robert Mitchell

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Content Media Boards ‘Bees Make Honey’ for Worldwide Sales

2 hours ago

Content Media was acquired worldwide sales rights to British murder mystery comedy “Bees Make Honey,” the company announced Wednesday. The film, which stars Alice Eve, is set to make its world premiere at the Raindance Film Festival in London, Sept. 23. Content will introduce the film to buyers in Toronto next month.

The sophomore feature of Eve’s younger brother Jack Eve, who wrote, directed and produced the film, “Bees Make Honey” is set in England in 1934. It sees Alice Eve’s high society widow, hosting her annual Halloween costume party for her friends, secretly employ a police inspector to solve the crime of the murder of her husband that took place at the same event one year earlier.

“Jack has taken a traditional ‘Who Dunnit?’ format, infused it with a Baz Luhrmann like energy, and combined it with a wonderful old school British comedy,” said Jamie Carmichael, president of film at Content.

Bees Make Honey »


- Robert Mitchell

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Wide House, ICM Partners Board Nancy Buirski’s ‘The Rape of Recy Taylor’ (Exclusive)

3 hours ago

After joining forces on Raoul Peck’s “I am Not Your Negro,” Wide House is re-teaming with ICM Partners for Nancy Buirski’s “The Rape of Recy Taylor,” a historical, yet timely documentary which will world premiere at Venice Film Festival.

Wide House handles “Recy Taylor”‘s worldwide sales outside of North America which is being handled by ICM Partners.

Slated for Venice’s Horizons section, the documentary feature tells the story of Recy Taylor, a 24-year-old black mother and sharecropper who was gang raped by six white boys in 1944 Alabama.

Although Recy Taylor was represented by Rosa Parks, who rallied support and triggered an unprecedented outcry for justice, her six assailants were never prosecuted. It took nearly 70 years for the rape to be acknowledged by authorities, explained Anais Clanet, the boss of Paris-based Wide House.

Recy Taylor’s courage inspired other black women to speak up and their noble efforts to take back their bodies led »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Sanfic: Alfredo Castro to Star in ‘My Tender Matador’ for Forastero (Exclusive)

3 hours ago

Chile’s Alfredo Castro, star of multiple Pablo Larrain’s titles and Venice Golden Lion winner “From Afar,” is attached to play the lead role of La Loca del Frente in “Tengo Miedo Torero” (My Tender Matador), a big-screen adaptation of the only novel of Pedro Lemebel, maybe the most politically transgressive of writers who emerged in the last years of Chile under Augusto Pinochet.

The casting of Castro, star of Larrain’s breakthrough “Tony Manero” and last seen in Cannes Critics’ Week entry “Los Perros,” is a first building block in a flagship project from leading Chilean production house Forastero which speaks of  its heightened ambition to make films that enroll Latin American co-production and high-level talent to leverage big festival play into overseas theatrical distribution.

“My Tender Matador” also looks on paper like a highlight at San Sebastian’s main industry event, its Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum, which runs Sept. 24- »


- John Hopewell

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Sanfic: Chile’s Roberto Doveris Producing ‘The Prince,’ Santiago Muñoz’s Directorial Debut (Exclusive)

3 hours ago

Santiago De Chile — Chilean helmer-scribe Roberto Doveris (“Plants”) is producing “The Prince,” the directorial debut of veteran art director Santiago Muñoz, with a prestige cast headlined by Chile’s Alfredo Castro (“Tony Manero,” “From Afar”) and Argentina’s Gaston Pauls (“Nine Queens”).

“The Prince” is slated to start shooting in February. It will also be the first time Doveris lead produces a film. He is currently preparing his second directorial outing, “The Sequel.”

Muñoz’s multiple art director credits include Alicia Scherson’s “Il Futuro” and her seminal feature debut “Play,” as well as Cristian Jimenez’s “Optical Illusions” and Pablo Larrain’s HBO Latin America TV series “Profugos.”

Chile’s Marianne Mayer-Beckh of El Otro Film (“Rara”) and Nicolas Grosso of El Tiro Films (“Rara,” “La Visita”) in Argentina, have also boarded the drama as co-producers. Castro and Pauls lead a cast that includes newcomer Juan Carlos Maldonado who plays the ‘Prince’ and dozens of extras »


- Anna Marie de la Fuente

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Sanfic: Documenting Art Theft: Cristóbal Berríos Discusses his World Premiere ‘Stealing Rodin’

4 hours ago

Santiago De Chile — In 2005, the Palace of Fine Arts in downtown Santiago, Chile, hosted a collection of sculptures by the French master Auguste Rodin. Late one morning, after a party celebrating another of the museum’s exhibits, security guards were shocked to find that one of the Rodin pieces had gone missing during the previous night’s festivities. For a frantic afternoon officials at the museum debated how to move forward. Authorities were contacted and a search begun. But, just as things moved into high gear, a young man, a local art student, Luis Onfray, showed up with the statue in his backpack, claiming he had found the piece in a patch of flowers in the park across the street. As quickly as the robbery had been discovered, the piece had been returned. The story of the pieces abduction, however, and its evening on the town, had just begun to unfold and the international art community would »


- Jamie Lang

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5 Joker Stories to Tell Instead of an Origin Film

12 hours ago

As one of the most infamous names in all of comic book history, the Joker has bedeviled Batman across platforms including movies, video games, and television — so it’s only natural that he might get his own movie. News broke on Tuesday that a Joker origin film is in the works with “The Hangover” filmmaker Todd Phillips in talks to co-write and direct, and Martin Scorsese possibly involved in an unspecified role.

But fans are questioning if an origin story is really the best way to go. The Clown Prince of Crime’s true identity and past are notoriously hazy in most continuities. Even in “The Killing Joke,” which many fans regard as the closest thing to a definitive origin, the character says, “If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice.”

“The Killing Joke” has already been adapted into an animated film, and was met with many negative reviews. So »


- Matt Fernandez

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Robert De Niro’s Comedy ‘War With Grandpa’ Gets February Release

12 hours ago

TWC-Dimension Films has set a Feb. 23 release date for its family comedy “The War with Grandpa,” starring Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken.

Tim Hill directed the movie, which also stars Uma Thurman, Rob Riggle, Cheech Marin, Oakes Fegley, Jane Seymour, and Faizon Love. The film was written by Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember, and Dave Johnson and produced by Phillip Glasser, Marvin Peart, and Rosa Morris Peart of Marro Films.

The film was shot over six weeks in Atlanta. It was originally slated to be shot in Toronto for an Oct. 20 release date.

Fegley portrays the grandson of De Niro’s recently widowed character, who moves into the house and takes over the grandson’s bedroom. The grandson schemes with friends to devise a series of pranks to drive him out, but finds that his grandfather isn’t going to give up easily — leading to an all-out war.

The »


- Dave McNary

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SAG-aftra Election Ending Bitterly With 2000 Strike Still in Dispute

13 hours ago

Voting is ending for a particularly acrimonious SAG-aftra presidential election with results due to be announced as early as Thursday afternoon.

The counting of the ballots, with about a quarter of the 144,000 dues-current members expected to vote, will begin at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday.

The contest has featured accusations of election fraud and bungling the recent contract negotiations (made by Esai Morales and Membership First); negligence on safety issues and allowing massive staff salaries (made by independent stuntman Pete Antico); and Membership First’s alleged incompetence in the 2008 negotiations and its long opposition to the SAG-aftra merger (made by the Unite for Strength faction headed by current president Gabrielle Carteris).

The divisions within SAG-aftra run deep and have existed for the past two decades. Remarkably, the two main factions — the moderate-leaning Unite for Strength and the self-styled progressives of Membership First — have managed to revive the debate over the six-month commercials strike in 2000. Supporters of the »


- Dave McNary

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Joker Origin Film in the Works With ‘Hangover’ Director Todd Phillips

15 hours ago

The Joker may be getting his own origin tale.

Sources tell Variety that “War Dogs” and “The Hangover” director Todd Phillips is in talks to co-write and direct an untitled movie centered on the origins of the most iconic Batman villain, the Joker.

Martin Scorsese is in talks to have some sort of role on the film, but it’s currently unknown what that role would be.

Related

Ranking the Jokers From Worst to Best

This yet-to-be announced new banner under DC Comics would give the studio the opportunity to expand the canon with unique story angles that aren’t included in its current cinematic universe.

Scott Silver will join Phillips as a co-writer on the film, which will delve into what it took for the Joker to become to be a mastermind criminal. Sources say the story will take place in the ’80s and have more of the look of a gritty crime drama than comic »


- Justin Kroll

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Premium VOD Paralysis Reflects Poorly on Studios, Exhibitors (Analysis)

18 hours ago

It’s been a rough summer for the movie business. Box office for the season is down by double digits versus last year, and by single digits year-to-date. Exhibition stocks are getting hammered. And some analysts believe the third quarter of the year could be just as woeful.

Which makes recent reports suggesting the major studios are considering striking a deal to launch a premium VOD window with Apple and Comcast as soon as two weeks after titles begin their theatrical run entirely understandable.

The studios and exhibitors have been bogged down in negotiations that seem to have intensified in recent months, yet go back seven years without resolution. Yes, this is a complex situation, but it’s not the Middle East peace process, either. It’s well past time a deal got done for the sake of both of their struggling businesses.

Instead, we have this absurd new two-week proposal being floated, which »


- Andrew Wallenstein

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‘Star Wars’ Han Solo Spinoff: Michael K. Williams Role Cut Following Reshoots

19 hours ago

While the “Star Wars” Han Solo film may be back on track, not everything could be saved in reshoots.

Sources tell Variety Michael K. Williams’ character has been cut from the film, due to his commitment to “The Red Sea Diving Resort.” He booked the biographic drama after he had finished filming Han Solo, and was unable to return to reshoot any new material for the film.

Reshoots began in June after Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were let go and replaced by Ron Howard, and they are expected to run into the fall. Williams’ role in “The Red Sea Diving Resort,” which also stars Chris Evans, is significant and made it impossible for him to balance the schedules of both shoots.

Related

Star Wars’ Han Solo Spinoff: Lord & Miller Fired After Clashing With Kathleen Kennedy (Exclusive)

Plot details for the spinoff are unknown, but Williams did tell Deadline Hollywood, which first reported the news, »


- Justin Kroll

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‘Heartstone,’ ‘Sami Blood’ Among 2017 Nordic Council Film Prize Contenders

20 hours ago

Haugesund, Norway — Icelandic director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson first feature “Heartstone” (“Hjartasteinn,” pictured) and Swedish director Amanda Kernell’s “Sámi Blood” (“Sameblod”) are among the nominees for the Nordic Council Film Prize, the prestigious Dkk 350,000 ($55,000) Nordic film award which will find its owner on Nov. 1 during the Council’s session in Helsinki, Finland.

Their competitors are Danish director Christian Tafdrup’s “Parents” (“Forældre”), Finnish director Selma Vilhunen’s “Little Wing” (“Tyttö nimeltä Varpu”) and Norwegian director Izer Aliu’s “Hunting Flies” (“Fluefangeren”), the Nordisk Film & TV Fond announced Tuesday night at the opening of the New Nordic Films market at the 45th Norwegian Intl. Film Festival at Haugesund.

Scripted by Guðmundsson, and produced by Anton Máni Svansson, Lise Orheim Stender, Jesper Morthorst and Guðmundsson, “Heartstone” is set in a small, remote Icelandic fishing village and follows two teenage boys, Þór and Kristján, who are close friends – one is trying to win the heart of a girl, while »


- Jorn Rossing Jensen

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Industry Leaders, New York Legislators Urge Governor to Sign Diversity Tax Credit Bill

20 hours ago

Leaders of New York’s film and TV production community and local legislators called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the TV diversity tax credit bill that would earmark $5 million in state incentives in an effort to open doors for more women and people of color as writers and directors.

Robin Thede, creator and host of Bet’s upcoming “The Rundown with Robin Thede” and “House of Cards” creator Beau Willimon were on hand for the news conference in Manhattan. Thede, Willimon and others made the case for implementing the tax credit to help spur more diverse hiring practices throughout the industry.

Related

New York Legislators Approve Groundbreaking TV Diversity Tax Credit

“I am this bill,” Thede said. “I am living proof that something like this would be beneficial for many people.”

Thede ranks as the first and only woman of color to head the writers room of a late-night TV series, from »


- Cynthia Littleton

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Deauville Film Festival Unveils Lineup, Doug Liman’s ‘American Made’ Set to Open Festival

20 hours ago

Doug Liman’s “American Made,” an action-packed biopic headlined by Tom Cruise, is set to open the 43rd edition of Deauville American Film Festival.

David Lowery’s “A Ghost Story,” Chloé Zhao’s “The Rider” and Marc Webb’s “Mary” are among the 14 films on track to compete at the festival.

A Ghost Story,” a supernatural drama which reunites Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara after Lowery’s “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” premiered at Sundance.

The Rider,” which world premiered at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight and nabbed the Art Cinema Award, centers on a young cowboy who embarks on a road trip across America after suffering a near fatal head injury.

“Mary” stars a Chris Evans as a single man raising his child prodigy niece who is drawn into a custody battle with his mother.

Several competition films deal with race relations in America. Daryl Wein’s “Blueprint,” for instance, centers around a young Black man in South »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Remembering Jerry Lewis, the World’s First Rock Star of Imbecility

20 hours ago

Jerry Lewis, who died last week at 91, was hardly the first comedian to make people laugh by acting transcendently idiotic. The Marx Brothers took hilarious head-spinning dives into the outer limits of surreal silliness. So did Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello and the Three Stooges. But Jerry Lewis was the world’s first rock star of imbecility.

If you watch one of his comedy routines with Dean Martin from the ’40s and ’50s, you see something amazing. Martin, brandishing his sleepy-eyed cocktail-lounge machismo, was the straight man, and Lewis, flitting and prancing around him, was a one-man circus of slapstick brain damage — he jumped on people, he brayed out words in a mincing baby voice, he crossed his eyes and giggled at his own jokes, and every so often he slipped in a crack so smart that it let you know everything he was doing was a put-on. Yet it was Martin, the »


- Owen Gleiberman

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Andy Serkis’ ‘Breathe’ Joins 2017 Hamptons Film Festival Slate

21 hours ago

Breathe,” the film directed by Andy Serkis that will premiere next month at the Toronto Film Festival, has been named a centerpiece film at the 2017 Hamptons International Film Festival, which has also announced an initial batch of titles on the slate including Alexandre Moors’ “The Yellow Birds” with Toni Collette and Jennifer Aniston and Vincent Gagliostro’s “After Louie,” starring Alan Cumming.

Related

Variety Announces 10 Actors to Watch for 2017

Serkis’ directorial debut “Breathe,” which will screen in East Hampton as the Sunday Centerpiece of the festival, stars Andrew Garfield and Clarie Foy in a story about a man and his wife who defy the medical establishment in order to live life to the fullest after Garfield’s character contracts polio at age 28. Serkis is on tap to attend the festival.

Also joining Hiff’s 25th anniversary lineup is “Lbj,” starring Woody Harrelson as the titular president and directed by Rob Reiner, who »


- Variety Staff

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Morgan Freeman to Receive SAG Life Achievement Award

21 hours ago

Morgan Freeman has been named the 54th recipient of the SAG Life Achievement award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment.

Freeman will be presented the accolade at the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 21 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The award is given annually to an actor who fosters the “finest ideals of the acting profession.”

Freeman has won a Screen Actors Guild Award, an Academy Award, HFPA’s Cecil B. DeMille Award, an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, seven Image Awards, a Silver Berlin Bear and a Kennedy Center Honor. SAG-aftra made the announcement Tuesday.

“I am thrilled to announce Morgan Freeman as this year’s recipient of the SAG Life Achievement Award,” said SAG-aftra President Gabrielle Carteris. “Some actors spend their entire careers waiting for the perfect role. Morgan showed us that true perfection is what a performer brings to the part. He is innovative, fearless »


- Dave McNary

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First Look: Christian Bale Is a Cavalry Captain in Scott Cooper’s ‘Hostiles’

22 hours ago

Le Grisbi Productions and Waypoint Entertainment have released the first image from Scott Cooper’s upcoming western “Hostiles,” which is set for an international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next month.

The film, set in 1892, stars Christian Bale as a legendary Army Captain who, after stern resistance, agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief (Wes Studi) and his family back home to tribal lands. The perilous journey takes Bale and his detail from New Mexico to the grasslands of Montana. Along the way they pick up a young widow (Rosamund Pike), whose family has been murdered on the plains by hostile Comanche natives. Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, Ben Foster, Jonathan Majors and Timothee Chalamet also star.

Related

Scott Cooper’s ‘Hostiles’ Finds New Frontiers Outside the Studio System

Cooper’s last film, “Black Mass” — starring Johnny Depp as Boston gangster Whitey Bulger — also played the Toronto film festival. He »


- Variety Staff

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