Friday, January 23, 2015

Random Thoughts

-  It's possible that by the time Cleopatra finally starts production, Scott Rudin may no longer be listed as a producer.  One of the last leaked emails has Amy Pascal asking Andrew Gumpert, Sony's head of Business Affairs, to start preparations to terminate his deal with the studio.  Of the films they worked on with Rudin, she was only interested in keeping Cleo and Dragon Tattoo.  Other execs at Sony like Gumpert had long expressed disgust at Rudin's abusive behavior.  Their toxic relations aside, the leaked emails have made Rudin's position as the film's producer untenable as his statements trashing both the film and its principal star have now been widely circulated.  It will surely be thrown back at him and the film -- even if it is his habit to trash everyone. 

- There was no mention of any other director besides Martin Scorsese from October onwards and by November, discussions with him were already at the point where details of a deal were being hammered out. From Gawker:  "Unbelievably excited," Jolie wrote; Pascal replied: "Me too/Lori and I talked about wigs last night."
- Once Scorsese's name entered the conversation and he expressed keen interest to Sony's Michael DeLuca (in April), Angelina was focused intently on him.  She did not totally give up on David Fincher, but while she described Fincher as "brilliant..and will create a smart woman, one no one has seen before", she seemed to agree with Pascal who wrote Scorsese was the "fucking greatest director on the fucking planet for this movie."  Pascal and DeLuca noted Scorsese "loved adored Angie" and "knowing there's potential for trust there like the kind he has with DiCaprio and De Niro."  The main issue with Scorsese is scheduling as everyone was hoping for a Fall 2014 start and he has Silence for most of 2015.  Angelina however stated she "would rather wait for Marty in 2016 or find a new and interesting artist" when Rudin pushed for Ridley Scott as a candidate to direct Cleo.  And it turns out Exodus Gods and Kings was poorly received both critically and commercially (earning just $64M to Unbroken's $110M domestic despite being in theaters 2 weeks longer)

 - Geektyrant posted Pascal's comment that she found Scorsese's version of Cleopatra "very complicated."  The original emails weren't posted and it didn't quote her reasons but we can get clues from what DeLuca wrote - that  Scorsese is a "giant history buff, loves this period of Rome, the change from Republic to Empire, and how Cleopatra almost won and the psychology of why she chose Antony really turn him on."  The fact that he sees the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra as more strategic than romantic may help explain his desire to cast Leo DiCapro in the film (presumably as Antony) together with Daniel Day Lewis (who is presumably the "Caesar we dreamt of" Pascal was referring to.) The chemistry between Leo and Angelina won't be as big an issue if they will be portrayed as two ambitious people plotting together.  But having a believable romantic pairing would help expand the film's audience -- as Pascal wrote to Rudin early last year before Scorsese entered the picture, "We are gonna have to lean on her to make it a love story."   While contemplating a shift to Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, Rudin wrote, "We ought to make this with her and Fassbender or Hardy or Cumberbatch and go home. And feel very smart."  I think any of the three would be more appropriate for the role than Leo. But if Scorsese demands it, then fine.

- Pascal's optimistic scenario (ca May 2014) is that after Scorsese finishes with Silence , they can start filming Cleo late 2015 for a Christmas 2016 release.  An early 2016 start may be more realistic since Scorsese is known to take his time in post but Silence is a small film and is said to be his least commercial venture yet.

- Looking over the list of directors Angelina proposed, other than Fincher and Scorsese, she favors indie directors  (PT Anderson, Audiard, Villenueve, Fukunaga, McQueen, Vallee).

- Salt 2 may not be dead.

- Silence has stared production this month, and targeting a 2016 release, see below.  It could do a late 2015 Awards qualifying run similar to American Sniper and Selma.

- Africa was Angelina's back-up project "if Cleo wasn't ready."  Since she can devote her full attention to By the Sea without the distractions of an Awards campaign, she should be ready to start with Africa as soon as Roger Deakins is done with Hail, Caesar!.  If they're "aiming for 2016" with Scorsese, she has until the end of the year to shoot and finish Africa before everyone hunkers down for Cleo.

-- Fussy


Martin Scorsese Locks Funding for ‘Silence’

Film Reporter

Martin Scorsese’s historical drama “Silence” has locked down funding, with Fabrica de Cine and SharpSword Films coming on to produce and provide financing.
“Silence” is scheduled to begin principal photography in Taiwan on Jan. 30, with Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver starring. The film, based on the novel of the same name by Shusaku Endo, follows 17th century Portuguese Jesuits persecuted during their mission to Japan.
“I’ve wanted to make ‘Silence’ for almost two decades, and it is finally a reality,” Scorsese said. “It is heartening to have adventurous partners like Fabrica and SharpSword to work with on this picture.”
“Silence” is set for a 2016 release.
The companies will be managing the production under joint entity FM Films. Gaston Pavlovich will produce with executive producers Dale Brown, Matthew Malek and Tyler Zacharia. Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff will also produce with Randall Emmett, Irwin Winkler and Barbara DeFina. George Furla and Chad Verdi will exec produce.
Paramount is handling U.S. distribution. Foreign markets will be distributed by AI Films/IM Global.
Garfield will star as Father Rodrigues, a 17th century Portuguese Jesuit who travels to Japan with a fellow priest amid rumors that Rodrigues’ mentor has abandoned the Church. When they arrive, they find the local Christian population driven underground by religious persecution.
Neeson will play a priest who landed in Japan over a decade earlier and has gone missing.
Paramount released Scorsese’s three most recent films: “The Wolf of Wall Street,”  “Hugo” and “Shutter Island.” It has not set a release date for “Silence.”
Fabrica de Cine co-produced and co-financed the Tom Hanks drama “A Hologram for a King” and is set to produce Richard Gere’s “Oppenheimer Strategies.” SharpSword Films is backed by Dale Brown and participated in the financing of “The Ticket,” starring Dan Stevens, Malin Akerman and Oliver Platt.

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