In keeping with this week's American Film Market theme, following is a rundown of deals and announcements to hit over the past day.
Notably, Wild Bunch has boarded Nick Cassavetes' Yellow, which had previously encountered some financial woes. With a private American equity partner now in place, the film is set to start shooting again in December. Wild Bunch is handling international sales.
In a rather poignant twist, Cassavetes' wife, Heather Wahlquist, stars in the film, which could be described as a sort of lighter version of A Woman Under the Influence -- in which Cassavetes' mother, Gena Rowlands, starred for his father, John Cassavetes.
The cast also includes Sienna Miller, Melanie Griffith, Luke Wilson and Ben Foster.
Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has acquired domestic rights to The River Sorrow, as part of a deal that also saw the company pick up rights for the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, says The Hollywood Reporter.
The Rich Cowan film stars Ray Liotta, Ving Rhames, Christian Slater, Giselle Fraga, Raymond Barry, Sarah Ann Schultz and Melora Walters.
As expected, Chris Rock has beenconfirmed as the lead opposite Julie Delpy in her directorial follow up to 2 Days in Paris. 2 Days in New York is being sold by Rezo Films.
According to Screen, the film now finds Paris heroine Marion in New York with her child and a new guy. Rock plays the new boyfriend, a radio host and journalist whose life will be upended by a two-day visit from Marion's French family.
Also per Screen, WestEnd Films will handle international rights on The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Justin Timberlake is scoring and supervising music for the film, which stars Zach Braff, Jessica Biel and Chloe Moretz.
Bill Purple directs the story of Henry, whose world is turned upside down when his wife is killed in a tragic accident. In an attempt to overcome his grief, Henry befriends a young homeless girl and helps her accomplish her dream of building a raft to cross the Atlantic to find her long-lost father.
Principal photography starts in April 2011.
Christophe Honore is back with a film starring Catherine Deneuve, Chiara Mastroianni, Ludivine Sagnier, Louis Garrel, Milos Forman and Paul Schneider. Les Biens-Aimees, which Screen describes as a Jacques Demy-style musical drama, is being sold internationally by Celluloid Dreams.
Lucy Walker's hot doc Countdown to Zero has sold to Paramount Pictures for Japan, says The Hollywood Reporter. The Works International is repping the Lawrence Bender produced film which premiered at Sundance and had a screening in Cannes.
Korea's CJ Entertainment has sold US rights to The Man from Nowhere to Well Go USA, Screen further reports.
IFC Midnight has taken US rights to psychological thriller Choose. SC Films is repping the film internationally. IFC Midnight plans a theatrical release in 2011 for the Marcus Graves genre film Screen says is in the vein of Seven and The Silence of the Lambs.
Magnet Releasing, the genre arm of Magnolia Pictures, has picked up US rights to Thai action movie BKO: Bangkok Knockout, adds THR.
The film is directed by Panna Rittkrai and centers on a group of friends who have to fight for their lives with one of their own is kidnapped.
Finally, Deadline reports that Myriad Pictures has acquired offshore rights to the Vivi Friedman-directed comedy The Family Tree. Pic stars Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney, Selma Blair, Christina Hendricks, Max Thieriot, Jane Seymour, Rachael Leigh Cook and Bow Wow. Davis plays a restless housewife who bumps her head during an illicit encounter with her next-door neighbor and loses her memory. Myriad is shopping at the AFM. IP Advisors is brokering North American rights.
Source: Hollywood Wiretap
In the tradition of Batman Begins and Casino Royale the clock is rolled back on the legendary icons the D—the self-proclaimed greatest band in the world—as the curtain is pulled back on their secret origins and the demons that drive them are unveiled… OK so it’s not really that deep. Though the heavy metal/comedy combo of Jack/JB/”Jabeles” (Jack Black) and Kyle/KB/”Kage” (Kyle Gass) have long played hip clubs cut an album starred in their own short-lived HBO series and amassed a devoted cult of fans their first feature film reveals how the pudgy duo first meet form the band meet their first fan (Jason Reed as TV holdover Lee) go questing the fabled Pick of Destiny—a shard of Satan’s tooth turned into a guitar pick passed among rock’s most accomplished shredders—and ultimately smack down with the devil himself. Believe it or not it’s a love story. Thanks to their long professional partnership Black and Gass comprise two perfectly crafted sides of a very polished comedy coin: Black is the wild-eyed uncontrolled id Gass is the low-energy manipulative slacker and they meet in the middle with an equal amount of unchecked delusion about their musical ability and potential. They both deftly pull off the trickiest types of comedy: smart jokes in the guise of dumb characters and it’s nice to see Black—obviously the bigger film star of the two—share the funniest bits equally with Gass. Of course all of this hinges on the audience’s tolerance for the ambitiously clueless ego-cases (and moviegoers who only love Black for his tamer version of the same persona in School of Rock should be warned—this is the cruder ruder and more profane incarnation) but we admit we’ve long had a taste for the D. They boys carry they movie squarely on their shoulders though longtime D supporters Tim Robbins and Ben Stiller stand out in cameos—the first Stiller cameo in ages that’s both amusing and non-gratuitous! Also appearing in small bits: SNL’s Fred Armisen and Amy Poehler Oscar-nominee Amy Adams Colin Hanks hard rock hero Ronnie James Dio Foo Fighter Dave Grohl as Satan and an uncredited John C. Reilly though you’ll never ever recognize him when he’s onscreen. And kudos to whoever had the inspired notion to cast Meat Loaf as JB’s pious father and Troy Gentile as the young rockin’ JB (Gentile also played a junior version of Black in Nacho Libre). Helmer Liam Lynch who also collaborated on the screenplay with Black and Gass and directed their music video “Tribute ” understands the absurd world of the D completely and demonstrates a clever assured sense of straight-faced silliness. Indeed the first ten minutes of the film alone—a mini-rock opera in itself—announce him as a comedy director to watch. Although we’re sure the bandmates themselves would take full credit for the film’s success. After all they may not have made the greatest movie in the world but in D-speak they came up with a pretty rockin’ tribute version.
The rebellious Ken Kesey, known in the 1960s for his counterculture exploits and for the 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, died Saturday from liver cancer at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene, Oregon, surrounded by his family. Kesey was 66.
"As usual he did things his own way. Even in dying, he did a really good job," son Zane Kesey told Retuers.
One of the originators of the '60s cultural revolution, Kesey, along with guru Timothy Leary, helped turn on millions of young Americans and launched the LSD-laden Age of Aquarius. Kesey was also considered one of the foremost novelists of his time. Cuckoo's Nest and his other popular novel Sometimes a Great Notion (1964) both dealt with the struggles against conformity and unbending authority.
A critical and financial success, Cuckoo's Nest was turned into a play in 1963. And then in 1975, director Milos Forman directed the Oscar-winning feature film starring Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher.
Kesey, however, was best known for his infamous 1964 road trip he took across the United States in a 1939 bus painted in psychedelic colors, which he called Furthur. With his companion, beat icon Neal Cassady, at the wheel, Kesey and his group of Merry Pranksters threw outrageous LSD parties and had wild adventures on the road. Their journey was the basis of the brilliant 1968 Tom Wolfe novel, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
"The rumor is that the bus was put in the Smithsonian, but that was just another prank. It's still in out in out yard. We'd never give it up," Zane Kesey commented.
Kesey passed away with a few projects in the works, including a film taken during the Pranksters road trip and a novel called Seven Prayers of Grandma Whittier which he started writing while he was in jail for four months in the mid-60s.
Zane Kesey said the writer spent Monday at his farm in Pleasant Hill, Oregon.
"He was doing really well and he came home. It was a beautiful day and he just walked around, then he lay down on his back on the porch and looked up at the sky for a while. It was like he was saying goodbye."
Zane also said there were plans for a "big service" and that many of Kesey's friends had flown to Eugene to be with Kesey at his death.
Well, well, little Miss Quirky and Dark Christina Ricci is joining the ever-growing ranks of actors-turned-directors. Is it written somewhere that an actor has to direct to feel truly complete? Sure, there are a few who are actually pretty good at it. But a young 'un like Ricci? We'll wait to pass judgment. At least the project she's picked is right up her alley--the indie feature Speed Queen. It's a simple and happy film about a fast-food clerk (played by Ricci, of course) who goes on a wild--and deadly--road trip with a man and woman and then tells her story to a best-selling author while on death row. The style sounds eerily familiar to another dark comedy Ricci starred in called The Opposite of Sex, where the entire story is told through narration by the main character. Yet, Ricci is playing it smart--she's chosen something that doesn't seem too hard to direct and she's sticking to what she does best--playing the bad girl you almost root for.
Jackson and Lopez go Tick-Tock
...Just like two little mice, running up and down a clock. Hey, I like that! Wait until you hear the premise and tell me if you don't think that should be the tagline to the film. Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Lopez are starring in a new Columbia Pictures film called Tick-Tock about an amnesiac who wakes up in the custody of the FBI and finds out he is the prime suspect in a series of bombings in Los Angeles. So, like, the mice running around, trying to find ticking bombs--get it? Damn it, I should be a development executive.
The Red Dragon grows
Any film that has Edward Norton in it piques my interest. He's just one of those actors that picks the most compelling projects. For example, I didn't want to see Fight Club when it first came out, but when I did finally see it, I was floored. Same with American History X. So, I trust his judgment. Now, he and another very fine actress, Emily Watson, are in negotiations to join Anthony Hopkins in Red Dragon, Universal Pictures' prequel to the Hannibal Lecter series. I was a little skeptical when I first heard about this because I'm a fan of Michael Mann's Manhunter, based on the same best-selling Lecter novel by Thomas Harris. But now that Norton is on board, it's sounding better.
The story follows special FBI agent Will Graham (Norton), who is brought out of retirement to track down a serial killer named Red Dragon. In order to catch the killer, Graham, who was once almost one of Lecter's (Hopkins) victims, has to ask Lecter, who is now behind bars, for help. Watson will play Reba, a blind woman the wacko Red Dragon works with. If they can get a great person to play the killer, we are in business. Maybe Tom Hanks would want to try something completely different. Damn it, I should be a casting director.
Another TV movie makes it to the big screen
No, they aren't making A Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story into a feature film (although I wouldn't put it past them). But once again Hollywood executives are taking what I think is material for a television movie and putting it on the big screen. It happens often, and really, it's a crying shame. In this case, the movie being made is the family drama--that should tip you off right there--Laurel Canyon with Christian Bale and Frances McDormand. In it, Bale plays a straitlaced young man who returns to his supposedly now-vacant childhood home with his fiancée after completing medical school to find his pot-smoking, record-producing mom (McDormand) still living there. He feels utter contempt for his mother's lifestyle, but when his fiancée gets lured into the dark ways of the rock 'n' roll world, mother and son must reconcile to get her back. Wow. The thing is, they disguise these dreadful sounding movies by casting top level talent to star in them. And that's supposed to make it better. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way.
Spielberg's big Catch
After a whirlwind change of hands, it looks like director Steven Spielberg is going to direct Catch Me If You Can for DreamWorks, with Leonardo DiCaprio attached to star. I like the sound of this one. The film takes its material from the real-life story of Frank Abagnale Jr., the youngest man to make the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. Apparently, he successfully impersonated an airline pilot, a doctor, an assistant attorney general and a history professor from 1964-66. He also cashed more than $4 million in fraudulent checks in 26 foreign countries. After he was caught, he became a consultant to the bureau. The film itself has been in development for several years with many A-list directors interested, including Cameron Crowe, Milos Forman, Gore Verbinski and Lasse Hallstrom. DiCaprio has been attached all along but has had to push back the start date until he finished shooting Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York. James Gandolfini was going to star opposite but had to bow out as well. Well, OK, Stevie, it's up to you now--get that thing made!