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Len Blavatnik's AI to finance Tonya Harding movie starring Margot Robbie

21 October 2016 10:30 AM, PDT

Sierra/Affinity to handle sales at Afm on Craig Gillespie drama-biopic I, Tonya.

Len Blavatnik’s AI Film will fully finance Craig Gillespie’s upcoming, I, Tonya, with Sierra/Affinity due to commence international sales at this year’s Afm.

Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad) is in negotiations to star as American figure skater Tonya Harding as well as produce the edgy comedy, with Bryan Unkeless (The Hunger Games) for Clubhouse Pictures, Tom Ackerley for LuckyChap Entertainment and Steven Rogers already attached to produce.

Blavatnik and Aviv Giladi of AI Film are executive producing. UTA Independent Film Group and CAA are representing Us domestic rights.

I,Tonya focuses on Harding’s sensationalized involvement in the 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan, which became an infamous tabloid scandal.

Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl) directs a script penned by Steven Rogers (P.S. I Love You).

Aviv Giladi, chairman of AI Film, said of the announcement: “AI Film is thrilled to be collaborating »

- andreas.wiseman@screendaily.com (Andreas Wiseman)

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IFC Midnight acquires 'The Devil’s Candy'

21 October 2016 7:30 AM, PDT

The distributor has picked up North American rights to Snoot Entertainment’s horror film following the recent premiere in Tor

Sean Byrne wrote and directed The Devil’s Candy, in which a struggling artist moves his wife and daughter to rural Texas where their new home is plagued by demonic forces. HanWay Films handles international sales.

Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby, Pruitt Taylor Vince and Kiara Glasco star.

Keith Calder and Jessica Calder produced for Snoot Entertainment.

IFC Midnight will release the film in March 2017 and brokered the deal with CAA on behalf of the filmmakers. »

- jeremykay67@gmail.com (Jeremy Kay)

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'Doctor Strange' dominates social media buzz chart

21 October 2016 6:26 AM, PDT

Inferno still receiving a lot of online attention this week.

Doctor Strange dominated this week’s social media buzz chart, according to marketing firm Way To Blue.

The next big feature from the Marvel canon, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams and Tilda Swinton, is scheduled for release in the UK on October 25.

The film amassed 7,613 comments across social media, news, forums and blogs over the last seven days, but only 328 of those registered intent to view.

The week’s second buzziest title was Inferno, starring Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones, which scored 3,551 comments, 307 of those showed intent to view. This is up from last week, when Inferno scored 1,353, with 105 registering intent to view.

No other title this week recorded a significant number of comments, with Trolls and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back performing the best of this week’s new openers.

For an explanation of the Way to Blue chart and its methodology, which tracks »

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Screen Exhibitors' Forum: cinema execs mull Brexit fallout

21 October 2016 6:16 AM, PDT

Panel considered Brexit through the lens of independent cinema.

Strong and often pessimistic opinions were expressed at yesterday’s Screen Exhibitors’ Forum: The Future Of Independent Cinema panel on “Brexit and independent exhibition”.

Panelists were asked what UK independent exhibition could look like in five years’ time following a “hard” Brexit.

“I can’t see any positives in where we are going,” stated Ian Wild of Showroom in Sheffield.

“What I fear is that there will be a narrowing of the range of films we are exhibiting in our cinemas and that there will be less films available if distributors are not able to secure European funding to bring films into distribution.”

Wild spoke of the extensive lobbying already underway to ensure that the UK remains part of the EU’s Creative Europe programme.

“The biggest issue is this domination of English-language films,” suggested Madeleine Probst of Watershed, Bristol.

BFI’s Head of UK Audiences Ben Luxford »

- geoffrey@macnab.demon.co.uk (Geoffrey Macnab)

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Tallinn: Baltic Event and Main Competition line-up revealed

21 October 2016 6:05 AM, PDT

Screen Pitch competition line-up; Queen Of Spades opens Main Competition.

Films from Russia, the Baltic states, Poland, Croatia and Georgia are among 17 projects selected for the 15th edition of the Baltic Event’s Co-Production Market (November 21-24).

The projects will be competing, among other awards, for Screen International’s Best Pitch Award which has gone in the past to projects from Finland, Estonia and Russia as well as the first ever Baltic co-production of a fiction feature film, Lithuania’s Seneca’s Day.

The prize is decided by the Co-Production Market’s participants.

This year’s selection features new projects by Latvia’s Laila Pakalnina (Insect Night), Croatia’s Vinko Bresan (What A Country!) and Poland’s Wojciech Smarzowski (The Clergy) and Dariusz Gajewski (Trust).

In addition, the Tallinn forum will serve as the venue for up-and-coming filmmakers such as Russia’s Maxim Dashkin, Lithuania’s Tomas Smulkis and Sweden’s Maria Eriksson to present new film »

- screen.berlin@googlemail.com (Martin Blaney)

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Spip signs pact with Eduardo Cisneros and Jason Shuman

21 October 2016 6:01 AM, PDT

Sony Pictures International Productions said on Friday it has agreed to a multi-year development deal with the Mexico and Los Angeles-based filmmakers.

Cisneros and Shuman will write and produce three features with Spip as the studio broadens its commitment to local language product.

“It is an ongoing priority for Sony Pictures International Productions to serve our Spanish-speaking audiences in Latin America and here in the United States,” said Laine Kline, executive vice-president of business affairs and operations. “Eduardo and Jason have an exceptional track record for capturing these important communities and beyond.”

In a joint statement, Cisneros and Shuman said, “Sony Pictures International Productions has an exciting and inspired vision of the international space, and we look forward to making great movies with them and expanding the Spanish-language markets worldwide.”

Cisneros served as associate producer on Instructions Not Included and is a founding member of 3Pas Studios, where he works with Eugenio Derbez developing feature and TV »

- jeremykay67@gmail.com (Jeremy Kay)

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Rome: Meryl Streep reveals the director she would most like to work with

21 October 2016 5:57 AM, PDT

Streep talked Michael Cimino, writing her own lines and a British obsession with class during a Rome masterclass.

Meryl Streep proved the biggest draw at the Rome Film Festival’s (Oct 13- 23) Close Encounters masterclass series.

Multi-Oscar winner Streep held court for 90 minutes during a conversation with festival director Antonio Monda.

Streep, who defined herself to the excitable audience as almost “untrainable” in her early career, revealed that despite her star-studded resume there remains one director above all with whom she would still like to work: “Of course there is… Martin Scorsese,” she enthused.

Streep recalled her work with the late The Deer Hunter director Michael Cimino:

“It was nearly 37°C and we were in a trailer,” Streep said of one memorable scene shown to the audience.

“It was supposed to be winter, we were all sweating in our pullovers; you can see me being completely wet. All but Robert, who has such »

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Alibaba Pictures secures film rights to book series 'Warriors'

21 October 2016 4:29 AM, PDT

Book series about warring cats to be developed as kids movie franchise.

China’s Alibaba Pictures Group has reached an agreement with UK-based fiction packager Working Partners and its parent company Coolabi Group at the 68th Frankfurt Book Fair, to secure the film rights for fantasy book series Warriors.

Warriors, which has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, is a series about four clans of warring feral cats. The series is written by Erin Hunter, a pseudonym for the writing team of Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry and Victoria Holmes.

Warriors follows the growth of an intrepid cat named Rusty, who ventures into a mysterious forest where he befriends a group of wild cats. Rusty joins ThunderClan as an apprentice warrior and over an epic saga ultimately transforms into the clan’s leader Firestar.

Warriors was first published by HarperCollins in the USA in 2003 and has been licensed in 35 languages around the world. HarperCollins will also »

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Tom Hiddleston joins cast of Nick Park's 'Early Man'

21 October 2016 3:53 AM, PDT

Hiddleston to voice the villainous Lord Nooth in next Aardman/Studiocanal collaboration.

Aardman and Studiocanal have announced that Tom Hiddleston has joined the cast of Nick Park’s new prehistoric comedy adventure, Early Man.

Hiddleston joins the cast voicing the pompous Lord Nooth, governor of the Bronze Age town - a money-loving tyrant and rival to the film’s Stone Age hero, Dug (Eddie Redmayne).

Nick Park said of the casting: “Tom is a wonderful actor and it’s so thrilling to see him bring our comic villain to life with his amazing talent, energy and enthusiasm. It is a great privilege to work with Tom and I’m so excited to see his character Lord Nooth emerge on screen!”

Hiddleston added: “I’ve been a fan of Nick Park and Aardman for as long as I can remember, and am incredibly honoured to be working with Nick and the team on this adventure. I’m thrilled »

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Top-grossing Russian film of 2016 secures deals

21 October 2016 3:49 AM, PDT

Exclusive: Central Partnership announces South America deals for their 2016 disaster movie, The Crew.

Russian distributor Central Partnership has announced a raft of deals on their 2016 blockbuster The Crew (Ekipazh), also known as Flight Crew.

The disaster movie, shot in digital 3D IMAX and directed by Nikolay Lebedev, is a remake of a 1979 Russian film, Air Crew (Ekipazh).

In South America, Bf Distribution has taken rights for Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador with Chile releasing the film on October 20 and Peru following with a wide release on November 24.

Juliana da Cunha Jacobsen, head of acquisitions and business affairs at Bf Distribution, commented: “The strong commercial appeal from action and natural disaster tales quickly called our attention when learning about the movie. We were absolutely impacted by the level of production and quality that the team behind The Crew was able to pull off.

“Foreign films in general are very tricky in Latin America as they generally fall in »

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Us Daily: 'Jackie' earns AFI Fest centrepiece slot

20 October 2016 6:46 PM, PDT

Fox Searchlight’s big awards season contender will screen at the festival on November 14.

Natalie Portman stars as Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy in the days immediately before and after the assassination of President John F Kennedy.

Chile’s Pablo Larraín directed the film from a screenplay by Noah Oppenheim. Juan De Dios Larraín, Darren Aronofsky, Mickey Liddell, Scott Franklin and Ari Handel produced. The festival runs from November 10-17.

Lucasfilm announced on Friday that Donald Glover will play the young Lando Calrissian in the untitled Han Solo Star Wars film directed by Phil Lord and Christopher MillerAlden Ehrenreich was previously cast as Han Solo. The film is scheduled to open in 2018.Manchester By The Seaproducers Matt Damon Kimberly Steward, Lauren Beck, Chris Moore and Kevin J. Walsh have joined the line-up at the Producers Guild Of America’s 3rd Annual Produced By: New York Conference, set to run on October 29.HBO Europe has acquired Slovakia’s Oscar »

- jeremykay67@gmail.com (Jeremy Kay)

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Disney, Fox, Picturehouse win big at Screen Awards 2016

20 October 2016 4:00 PM, PDT

Disney wins Distributor Of The Year; Fox and Picturehouse each take home four awards.Scroll down for full list of winners

Disney, Fox and Picturehouse were the big winners at the Screen Awards 2016, recognising excellence in UK marketing, distribution and exhibition.

The awards were handed out at a glamorous ceremony at The Brewery in London tonight (October 20). Broadcaster Edith Bowman hosted the event for the fifth year.

Disney Studios took home the hotly contested distributor of the year award, having delivered the biggest film of all time at the UK box office, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which also scooped theatrical campaign of the year (100 sites and over).

Twentieth Century Fox were triumphant in four categories, winning 3D campaign of the year for The Martian, premiere of the year (100 sites or above) for Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, marketing team of the year and PR team of the year (in-house). Deadpool was also highly commended in theatrical campaign »

- ian.sandwell@screendaily.com (Ian Sandwell)

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Us Briefs: Tribeca, Chanel unveil second Through Her Lens

20 October 2016 3:14 PM, PDT

Tribeca Enterprises and Chanel have announced the second annual Through Her Lens: The Tribeca Chanel Women’s Filmmaker Program to support new and emerging Us-based female writers and directors of short-form narrative films. 

Five filmmakers will receive project support and one will be awarded full financing to produce her short film, along with support of Tribeca Studios and Pulse Films to make the project.

The four other projects will each receive grant funds to continue the development of their films.

The participants are: Ani Simon-Kennedy with Camp Moonlight; Joey Ally with Displacement Therapy; A.V. Rockwell with Feathers; Catherine Eaton with On The Outs; and Sonejuhi Sinha with The Quarry.

The initiative runs in New York from October 25-27.

The Visual Effects Society said on Thursday that five-time Oscar winner Ken Ralston will receive the Ves Lifetime Achievement Award “in recognition of his enormous contributions to filmed entertainment.” The award will be presented at the 15th Annual Ves Awards »

- jeremykay67@gmail.com (Jeremy Kay)

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Momentum Pictures acquires 'Brimstone'

20 October 2016 2:31 PM, PDT

The distributor has picked up North American rights from CAA to the western-thriller starring Dakota Fanning and Kit Harrington.

Martin Koolhoven directed Brimstone from his original screenplay about a frontier woman who goes on the run from a vengeful preacher when she is wrongly accused of a crime.

Guy Pearce, Carice van Houten and Emilia Jones round out the key cast. Els Vandevorst and Uwe Schott produced.

Momentum Pictures has earmarked a day-and-date theatrical and VOD launch for March 2017.  

Dakota Fanning and Guy Pearce’s strong performances truly capture the work and vision of filmmaker Martin Koolhoven,” said Momentum Pictures’ senior vice-president of content Ian Goggins.

“We couldn’t be more proud to release Brimstone so that audiences can experience this amazing piece of cinema.” »

- jeremykay67@gmail.com (Jeremy Kay)

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'La La Land' secures AFI Fest centrepiece slot

20 October 2016 2:22 PM, PDT

Damien Chazelle’s lauded romantic musical will screen at the festival on November 15.

Venice Coppa Volpi best actress winner Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star in La La Land, Chazelle’s exuberant follow-up to Whiplash.

The film takes place in contemporary Los Angeles as two aspiring artists fall in love. Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment label will release on December 16.

As previously announced, the world premiere of Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply will open the festival on November 10 and Elle star Isabelle Huppert will receive a tribute on November 13.

Annette Bening will also be the subject of a tribute on November 16 followed by a centerpiece gala screening of 20th Century Women. Robert De Niro starrer The Comedian will receive its world premiere as a special screening on November 11.

AFI Fest runs through November 17. »

- jeremykay67@gmail.com (Jeremy Kay)

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'Manchester' dominates Gothams nominations

20 October 2016 12:25 PM, PDT

Kenneth Lonergan’s drama declared its awards season credentials on Thursday with four nods for the 26th annual Ifp Gotham Awards.

Manchester By The Sea is in the running for best feature, best screenplay for Lonergan, best actor for Casey Affleck and breakthrough actor for Lucas Hedges.

The film premiered at Sundance, when Amazon Studios acquired North American rights and Universal picked up the rest of the world.

Meanwhile Barry JenkinsMoonlight from A24 continued to build up a head of steam following its recent world premiere in Telluride and subsequent Toronto presentations, picking up a nomination for best feature and the special jury award for ensemble cast.

We wish to offer our hearty congratulations to the 2016 Gotham Awards nominees, all of whose unique and exciting artistic achievements represent the very best in independent storytelling,” said Joana Vicente, executive director of Ifp and the Made In NY Media Center.

Ifp members will determine the Gotham Independent Film Audience »

- jeremykay67@gmail.com (Jeremy Kay)

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Afm: Kirsten Dunst's directorial debut 'The Bell Jar' finds sales home

20 October 2016 8:13 AM, PDT

Cornerstone boards drama based on Sylvia Plath’s classic.

Cornerstone Films has boarded international sales on Kirsten Dunst’s (Melancholia) directorial debut, The Bell Jar.

The film is based on the literary classic written by Sylvia Plath and stars Dakota Fanning (American Pastoral) in the lead as Esther Greenwood and Jesse Plemons (Black Mass) as Lenny Shepherd.

Dunst is co-writing the screenplay together with Nellie Kim and the film is going into production early 2017. Cornerstone Films will commence sales at the American Film Market with UTA handling the North American rights.

Priority Pictures optioned the re-make rights from Studiocanal and Lizzie Friedman (The Stanford Prison Experiment) will produce together with Dakota Fanning and Brittany Kahan from Echo Lake Entertainment (Truth) with Celine Rattray (American Honey) and Kirsten Dunst as executive producers.

Set in the 1950s, Esther Greenwood (Dakota Fanning), a young woman from the suburbs of Boston, wins a summer internship at a prominent women’s magazine »

- andreas.wiseman@screendaily.com (Andreas Wiseman)

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Mipcom: Shonda Rhimes, Adi Hasak and the power of local content

20 October 2016 6:20 AM, PDT

Writer and creator Shonda Rhimes looks back at career; maverick showrunner Adi Hasak; Mipcom posts record attendance.

If content is king in an age of proliferating platforms and windows, local content reigns supreme for home-grown platforms competing with international players.

This was the message of top programming and acquisitions executives speaking on a Mipcom panel on global TV trends on Wednesday (October 19).

Mike Sneesby, CEO of Australian Svod company Stan, said original local content such as the comedy show No Activity and its psychological thriller series Wolf Creek - a spin-off the hit genre film franchise starring John Jarrett as serial killer Mike Taylor - had been at the heart of its strategy to win over local audiences.

“Initially we focused on big network and studio shows, securing a deal with the likes of Showtime, and then moved very quickly into original shows, boarding our first original show just six weeks after launching,” said Sneesby »

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Horror streaming service Shudder launches in the UK

20 October 2016 5:14 AM, PDT

Upcoming exclusive titles include Lff title Dearest Sister and French series Beyond The Walls.

Horror streaming service Shudder, backed by AMC Networks, has launched in the UK and Ireland.

Curated by Tiff Midnight Madness programmer Colin Geddes and former Fangoria editor Sam Zimmerman, Shudder will host regular guest-curated seasons and offers new premieres and exclusive titles every month.

The launch selection includes more than 200 titles, 80% of which are not currently available on any other major streaming service.

Exclusive titles launching soon include Mattie Do’s Dearest Sister, which recently screened at the BFI London Film Festival, and French mini-series Beyond The Walls, which screened at this year’s Horror Channel FrightFest.

Sadako Vs Kayako, Rob Zombie’s 31, supernatural drama We Go On, Nathan Ambrosioni’s Therapy and Alex De La Iglesia’s Witching And Bitching are among the other exclusive titles set to come to Shudder in the UK and Ireland.

Clive Barker’s [link »

- ian.sandwell@screendaily.com (Ian Sandwell)

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Dubai launches Investors Club aimed at private financiers

20 October 2016 3:50 AM, PDT

Dubai Film Festival initiative is aimed at private financiers looking to invest in the film industry.

The Dubai International Film Festival (Diff) will launch film finance initiative The Dubai Investors Club at its upcoming 13th edition, running December 7-14.

Aimed at individuals looking to invest in the film industry, Diff’s Dubai Film Market will host the bespoke event on December 8 and 9 at Madinat Jumeirah, the Arabian Resort of Dubai.

The programme will see up to 15 senior investors given the opportunity to network with global film experts in order to better understand international film investment.

Topics to be explored include film financing and distribution and risk mitigation strategies.

“The Dubai Investors Club is a unique opportunity for investors to understand the film industry and successful film financing, whilst also enjoying the film festival and the city of Dubai,” commented Abdulhamid Juma, Diff’s chairman. »

- ian.sandwell@screendaily.com (Ian Sandwell)

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