'The Fault In Our Stars' actor Nat Wolff joins 'Semper Fi'

By Jeremy Kay | Screen

EXCLUSIVE: Director says Wolff reminds him of a “young DiCaprio”.

Rising star Nat Wolff has come on board the Rumble Films and Sparkhouse Media crime thriller Semper Fi that Cornerstone Films is shopping to buyers here.

Wolff, a YA darling who starred in The Fault In Our Stars, Paper Towns and will be seen later this year in Adam Wingard’s mystery thriller Death Note, will play Oyster, the young brother to Sam Clafin’s Hopper.

Henry-Alex Rubin will direct Semper Fi from a screenplay he co-wrote with Sean Mullin. Rumble Film’s David Lancaster, who was nominated for the best picture Oscar for Whiplash, and Karina Miller of Sparkhouse Media are producing.

CAA co-represents US rights with Cornerstone to the story about Hopper, a straight-laced police officer and Marine Corps Reservists sergeant who forces his wild younger brother Oyster to face the music when he kills a man in a bar-room brawl.

After Hopper returns from a tour of duty in Iraq, he is dismayed to learn Oyster’s court appeal has been rejected and plots to break him out of prison.

“I’ve been watching Nat’s performances over the past few years and he reminds me of young DiCaprio – he’s highly likeable yet always mischievous and unpredictable,” Rubin said.

Miller added: “Oyster is a deliciously complex character – he’s part dreamer, part rebel, part man and part boy. His emotional arc is so engaging and extreme that I can’t help but get excited by the thought of watching an actor with Nat’s talent bring this character to life.”

Cannes: Cornerstone Boards Mike Leigh’s ‘Peterloo’

By Robert Mitchell | Variety

Palme d'Or-winning director set to begin production next week

Palme d’Or-winning director Mike Leigh is set to start production on his new film “Peterloo,” which Cornerstone Films is introducing to international buyers at the Cannes Film Festival. Shooting will begin Monday on location in England and continue until late August.

“Peterloo” tells the story of the infamous 1819 massacre at a peaceful pro-democracy rally at St. Peter’s Field in Manchester, England, when many working people were injured and killed.

“There has never been a feature film about the Peterloo Massacre,” said Leigh, adding that the historical event’s universal significance was becoming “ever more relevant in our own turbulent times.”

The film is produced by Georgina Love and executive produced by Gail Egan. It is co-financed by Amazon Studios, Film4, the BFI and Lipsync. Film4 developed the film. Amazon Studios is handling U.S. distribution.

It reunites Leigh with some of his regular collaborators, including cinematographer Dick Pope, editor Jon Gregory, production designer Suzie Davies, costume designer Jacqueline Durran, composer Gary Yershon and make-up and hair designer Christine Blundell. A cast of more than 100 actors has been assembled for the film.

Leigh won the Palme d’Or in Cannes for his 1996 film “Secret & Lies,” which also won the prize of the Ecumenical Jury. He has competed in the official Cannes lineup five times, most recently with 2014’s “Mr. Turner,” and won the best director prize at the festival in 1993 for “Naked.” His 2010 film “Another Year” also received special mention from the Ecumenical Jury.

Three top UK sales agents talk streaming, release windows and Brexit

By Matt Mueller | Screen

Screen spoke to Alison Thompson, Gabrielle Stewart and Stephen Kelliher.

Three leading figures in the UK film sales scene came together for a robust conversation around strategies for the present and future at the Union Club in Soho, London: Alison Thompson, former Focus Features International chief and co-founder and co-president (with Mark Gooder) of Cornerstone Films; Gabrielle Stewart, who joined HanWay Films as managing director last summer from her previous position at Bloom Media; and Stephen Kelliher, director of Bankside Films.

In a pre-Cannes conversation, they talked to Matt Mueller about their enhanced roles as executive producers, sustaining a good relationship with theatrical buyers, and why Netflix should consider revealing its figures to cautious filmmakers.

How do you adapt and build your business to survive?

Gabrielle Stewart: We’re getting involved far earlier than sales companies have traditionally done in the past. Because we are linked to Recorded Picture Company, and there is a team at HanWay that works across both companies, we’re helping producers build projects — we’re really providing quite extensive EP [executive-producer] services. We have a team that is able to help build the financing plans of producers — help them find soft money around Europe, attach casting directors, that kind of thing.

Alison Thompson: I don’t think the old rules apply anymore. We all work harder than we’ve ever worked before while the ratio of films that get greenlit versus those that don’t is diminishing. One of the advantages of being a relatively new company is we’ve been able to set up the company structure in a way that is fit for purpose for 2017. There’s more multitasking, and we’re using external consultants to come on board where we need them.

Stephen Kelliher: The bullseye of what works in today’s market is getting smaller and smaller, and we have to use every resource available to us to ensure that we’re involved in the projects that can hit that bullseye. At Bankside, we have a relationship with Head Gear Films, which will put equity financing into films that Bankside wants to sell, and we’ve also begun producing and developing ourselves.

What do your buyers need to do to continue to add value to your business?

AT: The onus is on the filmmaking community and sales agents to deliver material that can work in the commercial space. There’s no question it is tough for independent distributors right now. But it’s a little easier now to identify films that have the potential to work. We talk a lot about cinema that we represent being event cinema, by which we mean material you can ‘eventise’ from the outset. You have the right kind of talent attached, you have a very clear idea of how you are going to position a movie in the market, what the poster might look like, what kind of editorial you can expect to get around a movie, how it will work on social media, and so forth.

GS: We’re having to show distributors we will be able not only to deliver a film, but a campaign that they will be able to use to release the film. We have a new head of marketing distribution, Tom Grievson, who’s new to the international business. He’s always worked on the distribution side and I felt it was important from a pre-production standpoint to have someone thinking like a distributor, working with the producers throughout production to create the campaigns and materials. More and more we will have to deliver good campaigns as well as films.

SK: In a world where people don’t need to go to the cinema anymore, what reason are you giving them to leave their house, to leave their Netflix account and go and see the movie in the cinema? You have to be able to identify those reasons from day one, and develop the materials that illustrate that audience to a distributor. And by giving people a reason, I mean having great films that are critically well received, that have a strong international festival profile, that everybody is talking about the week they’re released. Good is not good enough anymore; it has to be outstanding.

Are there opportunities that excite you, or is it a matter of working out how to navigate this landscape?

SK: The dawn of Netflix and Amazon is disrupting the traditional model, absolutely, but at the same time I wonder whether we are at the beginning of the glory days of VoD, where we will see it continue to grow and other players coming into the market. Despite all the disruption to the marketplace, from a sales company business perspective the deal with Netflix or Amazon is a very good deal to do.

GS: I also think, because there is so much money now in television, it’s creating a bigger pool of talent. It’s developing directors, it’s creating new stars. In the same way that we can be negative about the fact that it’s harder to get certain film stars because they are now filling their schedule with high-end drama series, we can also say that we’re actually generating a bigger pool of talent that is known worldwide.

AT: Looking at it from a slightly different perspective, we’ve never lived through more interesting times in our world. There is so much happening and the industry is evolving so quickly that, personally, I find it immensely exciting and fun.

SK: I agree completely. It’s not all doom and gloom.

GS: And professionals are diversifying. Traditional film producers are also doing television series, and that develops and grows their business. The studios are making less content than before and therefore they are buying more, so a lot of producers that used to work within studios are now looking to the independent world to make their films.

Does a US deal still drive international sales?

GS: The US sale ends up being the icing on the cake. Our focus is to finance the film without it and build your film for international, and then try to sell upon completion to the US. The US is a very buoyant, exciting market right now — that’s where all the upside can be found for the sales agent and the producer.

SK: If you want the film to be theatrically released in international territories, the primary driver is still US theatrical. They want to know how many screens, they want to know what the campaign is, they want that kind of surety. I’m sure we’ve all been in the situation where the best deal to do for a film has been some kind of premium VoD sale in the US, and that does have a negative impact on the ability to sell foreign for theatrical release. It’s the distinction between what’s perceived as a theatrical film and what isn’t as far as international territories are concerned. [But] if you do have the right script and the right package, the pre-sales market is still buoyant.

AT: There is still fierce competition surrounding a small number of movies. But I take a slightly different view in that I think the pre-sales model has massively diminished in value over the last five years. There are not so many movies that are now pre-sold widely prior to production. So it becomes the role of the sales agent to work on getting a sufficient number of pre-sales over the line to give financiers the confidence in the material to want to go ahead and green-light. For the vast majority of material, that is now the default position.

Now that Netflix and Amazon are among your clients, what do you say to traditional buyers who fear streaming platforms might drive them out of business?

SK: It’s challenging. I’m not sure I know the answer to the question because the traditional all-rights distributors in many cases have already stepped up to a project and pre-bought it, only for a VoD platform to come in at a later point and say, “We want it but we’ll only take it if we can have the world.” You may then be faced with a situation where you have to go back and undo those deals, and that’s difficult. From a distributor’s point of view, they might wonder, “Is this going to happen to 30%, 40%, 50% of the movies that I buy? And what happens to my release schedule, to my release date, to the sustainability of my business if this is going to happen repeatedly?” It is a real issue.

GS: I’ve not yet been in that situation but certainly at Sundance I was aware of that happening — a few of the films that became hot properties at Sundance had a few international territories sold, and that process happened. I think there’s more a risk on American independent films going into Sundance because they are often the films that get picked up by Netflix or Amazon. On European cinema, I think there is less of a risk.

Stephen, you did a worldwide deal at AFM with Netflix on Cargo. What made that the right deal for that film?

SK: There are several things you have to take into consideration. In certain cases, there will not be a theatrical release for the film. Everyone has to be comfortable with that, including the filmmakers and the producers. And, as sales companies, we also need to assess whether an offer from a VoD platform takes into account the potential upside we would see on a film if it were released territory-by-territory in the traditional theatrical model, since their deal is a flat fee with no revenue share to producers.

GS: I had this experience at my previous company [Bloom] with The Siege Of Jadotville, which Netflix offered on the world when we took it to Berlin. It was a very attractive offer on what would have been quite a challenging film for distributors, and we had to have very difficult conversations with the talent and the director at the time. What would be very helpful is if there was a way for all of us and the talent involved to understand just what the figures are. Netflix don’t give away any viewing figures, and perhaps they should start doing that with filmmakers.

Is the survival of the traditional theatrical model crucial to your business?

AT: There is no question the theatrical window for a certain kind of filmgoing experience is absolutely crucial, and it’s a very rewarding part of the business to be in. But it’s high risk. The costs of marketing in theatrical are very high and the rental terms in a number of countries are pretty onerous for distributors, so the margins of profitability are increasingly slim.

GS: There’s an opportunity for us in terms of independent cinema. I was just having a conversation with a distributor to whom I’d sold quite a big film in the past for a really big MG [minimum guarantee]. He said to me, “When you look at Moonlight and Whiplash, these smaller films are the ones that are really working. I don’t know if I would have bought that big film with the big movie stars for the big MG. I’m more excited by spreading my bets and buying four smaller films for more reasonable MGs with the hope that one will break out.” I see that as an opportunity for the type of films that we’re doing because actually some surprising films are the ones that are really working and making money. We do a lot more filmmaker meetings now with distributors because they want to understand what the director’s vision is.

SK: We still set out to make films for theatrical release — that is the core ethos within the company. When digital first came on the scene, there was this idea that so many more films were going to be distributed because there wouldn’t be the P&A costs, but actually Netflix and Amazon have focused, on the whole, on films that could have theatrical releases, so that is still where we have to position ourselves.

Although your business is international, can you see Brexit posing any particular challenges?

AT: In the here and now, the exchange rate is challenging for the Brits and, going forward, a certain kind of cinema will potentially miss the MEDIA support. There is still a question mark over whether or not the UK can stay part of it. If we don’t, that would obviously impact the export of British films into Europe and the import of European films into the UK.

GS: Because the dollar is so strong at the moment, a lot of American producers are looking to Europe because it’s cheaper for them.

AT: And from a UK sales agent’s perspective, the exchange rate is actually quite handy because we earn in dollars.

GS: But that can swing around as well — that could be a temporary thing!


Mike Leigh’s 'Peterloo' gets sales deal, gears up for shoot

By Tom Grater | Screen

EXCLUSIVE: Cornerstone boards Amazon-backed feature.

Mike Leigh’s historical film Peterloo will begin shooting next week on location in England.

Cornerstone Films has boarded international sales on the project, which Amazon Studios is co-financing and will distribute in the US. Additional financing comes from Film4, who backed the film’s development, the BFI and posthouse-financier Lipsync.

A cast of more than 100 actors has been assembled, with the production scheduled to run until late August.

Mike Leigh’s regular collaborator Georgina Lowe (Another YearMr Turner) will produce the project, Gail Egan is executive producer.

Crew include Dick Pope (cinematography), Suzie Davies (production design), Jacqueline Durran (costumes), Christine Blundell (hair and make-up), Jon Gregory (editing) and Gary Yershon (music).

Peterloo tells the story of the infamous Peterloo massacre of 1819. The event saw British government forces charge into a crowd of 60,000 that had gathered in St Peter’s Field in Manchester to demand political reform.

An estimated 15 protestors were killed and hundreds injured, sparking outcry but also further government crackdowns.

The film is being lined up as Mike Leigh’s biggest budget production to-date.

“The universal significance of this historic event becomes ever more relevant in our own turbulent times,” commented Leigh.


Cannes Hot List: 15 Titles Set to Heat Up the 2017 Market

By Tatiana Siegel and Rebecca Ford | The Hollywood Reporter

As Netflix and Amazon challenge the traditional festival sales model, dealmakers are bracing for battle over a handful of key titles.

Last year, the biggest Cannes deal saw STX Entertainment plunk down $50 million for foreign rights to Martin Scorsese's mob epic The Irishman, beating out Fox and Universal in a bidding war. Fast-forward 12 months, and that film may continue to dominate the conversation at the market this year. That's because in February, The Irishman financier Gaston Pavlovich opted out of the STX pact in favor of a worldwide deal with Netflix — a move that has implications for European distributors (Netflix forgoes a traditional theatrical release and instead launches directly to its subscribers).

"The Irishman will remain a talking point," says Bloom's Alex Walton. "For example, I was just in France and Italy, and though it's old news, people still want to talk about it. The fact that this move is taking box-office dollars away from the marketplace will reach a fever pitch come Cannes."

STX had mulled legal action against Netflix, but sources say the two sides have reached an understanding. Even so, the aftershocks can still be felt given that a $125 million film has defected to a streaming service. In fact, the presales market — a major slice of Cannes deal-making — continues to adjust to the sometimes crippling presence of Netflix and Amazon.

"Many European distributors are being impacted by the changing landscape of film distribution in the U.S. [as] a number of streaming services are getting in early and buying multiterritory deals, taking a lot of films out of the market that would have otherwise been sold here in Cannes," says CAA's Roeg Sutherland. "This is something U.S. distributors have dealt with for a number of years, with some stepping up to build their slates with early-stage prebuys."

Who will step up at Cannes 2017 — both from a domestic and international perspective — remains the question. With a fully built-out staff, Annapurna Pictures is expected to make a statement. Of course, there will be plenty of films, in various stages of production, that are expected to generate heat at the market. Here are 15 that show particular promise.



Director: Christoph Waltz

BUZZ Waltz's directorial debut, in which he will star alongside Vanessa Redgrave, recounts the story of Albrecht Muth, convicted in 2011 for murdering his much older socialite wife. Brett Ratner is producing.

STATUS Pre-production
SALES AGENT Cornerstone, ICM

Vanessa Redgrave joins Christoph Waltz's directing debut 'Georgetown'

By Orlando Parfitt | Screen

The duo will play an eccentric couple in this crime story that is based on true events.

Vanessa Redgrave will star alongside Christoph Waltz in his directorial debut Georgetown.

The Oscar-winning duo will play an unconventional couple in this crime drama inspired by the true story of Albrecht Muth, who was convicted in 2011 for murdering his much older socialite wife in Washington DC.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Auburn wrote the screenplay, with Brett Ratner producing through his production company RatPac Entertainment together with David Gerson and John Cheng.

Artist and filmmaker Andrew Levitas will also produce through his company Metalwork Pictures, which is also financing. Len Blavatnik of RatPac Entertainment will executive produce.

Cornerstone Films will oversee international sales and distribution and will commence sales in Cannes. ICM will handle the US sale. 

The true story was first reported in the New York Times Magazine in a piece called ‘The Worst Marriage in Georgetown’ by Franklin Foer.

The story centres on German-born Georgetown socialites Elsa Breht (Redgrave) and her husband Ulrich Mott (Waltz), who is nearly three decades her junior.

On the morning of August 13th 2011, hours after a lavish dinner hosted by Mott, Elsa was found dead and Mott immediately became prime suspect in her murder.

Brett Ratner said: “Christoph is one of the most acclaimed actors of our generation and I was greatly inspired by his vision in bringing David Auburn’s phenomenal script to the big screen. I really believe in Christoph as a filmmaker and I am thrilled to be producing his directorial feature debut.”

Cannes: Christoph Waltz's Directorial Debut Adds Vanessa Redgrave

By Alex Ritman | THR

The 'Inglourious Basterds' star's crime drama will be introduced to buyers in Cannes.

Christoph Waltz has found himself a formidable leading lady for his upcoming feature directorial debut. 

With three Academy Awards between them, Vanessa Redgrave will star alongside Waltz in Georgetown, a crime drama to be show in Montreal this summer. 

Based on the screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Auburn, Georgetown is inspired by the true story of Albrecht Muth, who was convicted in 2011 for murdering his much older socialite wife in Washington DC. Based on one of the city's most sensational scandals of recent times, the film will tell the story of an unconventional love affair, of an outsider striving for acceptance and the desperate struggle for significance on every level.

Georgetown will be produced by Brett Ratner (The RevenantHercules) through his production company RatPac Entertainment together with David Gerson (True CrimesOmar) and John Cheng. In addition, artist and filmmaker Andrew Levitas will produce through his company Metalwork Pictures, which is also financing. Len Blavatnik of RatPac Entertainment (SilenceHacksaw Ridge) will exec produce.

Cornerstone Films is overseeing international sales and distribution, and will introduce the film to buyers in Cannes. ICM will handle the US sale.

The true story was first reported in the New York Times Magazine entitled "The Worst Marriage in Georgetown” by Franklin Foer.

Cannes: Sam Claflin to Star in Crime-Thriller 'Semper Fi'

By Alex Ritman | THR

The 'Hunger Games' star will play a straight-laced cop who helps his brother break out of prison.

Hunger Games grad Sam Claflin is set to star in upcoming crime-thriller Semper Fi from Oscar-nominated director Henry-Alex Rubin (MurderballDisconnect). 

Claflin, recently seen in Me Before You and Their Finest and set to star in Babadook follow-up The Nightingale, will take the lead as a straight-laced cop who resolves to help his brother – found guilty of killing a man in a bar-room fight – by breaking him out of prison with his life-long friends and fellow Marine Corps reservists.

Cornerstone Films will commence sales in Cannes and co-represent the U.S. rights with CAA, which packaged and arranged financing for the film.

Produced by Oscar-nominated David Lancaster (WhiplashNightcrawler) of Rumble Films and Karina Miller (To the Bone) from Sparkhouse Media, the film will begin production out of Vancouver this summer. Sparkhouse Media is also financing.

Claflin and Rubin are represented by CAA. Claflin is also represented by Independent Talent Group.

Sam Claflin to star in thriller 'Semper Fi' from 'Whiplash' producer

By Sam Warner | Screen

Cornerstone Films to launch sales in Cannes.

Sam Claflin (Me Before You) will lead the cast of Henry-Alex Rubin’s crime thriller Semper Fi.

London-based sales agent Cornerstone Films has boarded the title and will launch sales at Cannes this month.

Henry-Alex Rubin is the Oscar-nominated director of 2005 sports documentary Murderball.

Semper Fi will be produced by Oscar-nominated Whiplash producer David Lancaster of Rumble Films and Karina Miller (To the Bone) of Sparkhouse Media, which is also financing.

Claflin plays Hopper, a straight-laced cop and Marine Corps reservist. When his younger brother accidentally kills a man in a bar-room brawl and tries to flee town, Hopper stops him and forces him to face the music.

Wracked with guilt at leaving his brother locked up in jail, Hopper and his buddies are deployed to Iraq. Battle-weary, he returns home to discover Oyster’s final court appeal has been rejected. No longer willing to live with his guilt, Hopper resolves to save his brother by breaking him out of prison, no matter what the cost. 

The film will begin production in Vancouver this summer.

Cornerstone Films is co-representing US rights with CAA, which packaged the film.

Karina Miller commented: “I couldn’t be more excited about Semper Fi. At its core it’s about what it means to truly stand by the people you love. It’s thrilling and entertaining but also emotional. In a market where it’s a struggle to get people to leave their house and actually go see a movie we plan to make a film that will do just that – get people to the theatre, entertain them, and make them feel something.”

David Lancaster added: “From the moment I read this script, I couldn’t shake the passionate feeling I have always had for the iconic film Deerhunter. Henry has shown a unique ability to draw realistic characters combined with a strong sense of place. Brotherhood, loyalty, family…. with a thrilling escape. I’m in!”

Alison Thompson and Mark Gooder also commented, “At the heart of this story is a thrilling dilemma that will leave audiences on the edge of their seat. That’s exactly what buyers are looking for.”

Claflin and Rubin are represented by CAA; Claflin is also represented by Independent Talent Group.

The Weinstein Company acquires 'Hampstead'

By Jeremy Kay | Screen

Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson star in London-set romance; TWC acquired from a promo reel.

The Weinstein Company has moved on North American rights to the Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson romance in a deal with Cornerstone Films.

Joel Hopkins directs Hampstead from a screenplay by Robert Festinger about an American widow who falls for the inhabitant of a hut on London’s Hampstead Heath that is under siege by property developers. James Norton also stars.

Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae of Ecosse Films are producing the feature, which is financed by Motion Picture Capital and Silver Reel. TWC acquired the film after watching a promo reel.

TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein said the film was “a great example of the power we all can have when we stand up for our beliefs and fight for the people and things we care most about, something that is especially important these days.”

“We’re delighted to have TWC on board as our North American partner,” said Mark Gooder and Alison Thompson of Cornerstone Films. “Their long-standing passion for this project and indisputable track record with female-driven crowd-pleasing films makes TWC the perfect home for Hampstead.”

Bernstein and Rae added: “We are delighted to be collaborating with The Weinstein Company on Hampstead. We feel they have the right sensibility and passion for the film.”

David Glasser, Talia Houminer, Negeen Yazdi and Jennifer Malloy negotiated the deal for TWC with Gooder and Thompson on behalf of Cornerstone Film and Laure Vaysse and Craig Emanuel for Motion Picture Capital.

Diane Keaton, Brendan Gleeson’s Drama ‘Hampstead’ Goes to Weinstein

By Dave McNary | Variety

The Weinstein Company has bought distribution rights for the U.S. and Canada to the drama “Hampstead,” starring Diane Keaton, Brendan Gleeson and James Norton.

“Hampstead” is directed by Joel Hopkins from a screenplay by Robert Festinger (“In the Bedroom”). The project was produced by Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae at Ecosse Films.

The film, which went into production in early 2016, was acquired by TWC based on a short promo video. The project was financed by Motion Picture Capital and Silver Reel. Cornerstone Films handled the sale.

Keaton plays an American widow who can’t quite focus on things that need attention, like her lovely old apartment, her finances and her son while living on the edge of the British countryside. While looking out across the heath from her attic window, she witnesses an unkempt man (played by Gleeson) attacked by a group of professional thugs. Shocked, she calls the police and ventures into the woods in search of the man, discovering that his home is the target of property developers using heavy-handed tactics to remove him.

TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein said, “We’re thrilled to work with Robert Bernstein, Douglas Rae and the incredible Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson on this film. ‘Hampstead’ is a great example of the power we all can have when we stand up for our beliefs and fight for the people and things we care most about, something that is especially important these days.”

Gleeson starred in Ben Affleck’s “Live by Night” and won an Emmy for playing Winston Churchill in “Into the Storm.” Keaton has been nominated for four Oscars and won for “Annie Hall.”

The deal for the project was negotiated by David Glasser, Talia Houminer, Negeen Yazdi and Jennifer Malloy for TWC with Mark Gooder and Alison Thompson on behalf of Cornerstone Film and Laure Vaysse and Craig Emanuel for Motion Picture Capital.

Adam Shankman to Direct Kate Beckinsale in ‘Chocolate Money’

By Dave McNary | Variety

In a pre-Berlin market move, Adam Shankman has come on board to direct Kate Beckinsale in mother-daughter drama “The Chocolate Money.”

Cornerstone Films will be launching international sales to buyers at the European Film Market in Berlin next month. UTA is repping domestic rights.

The project is based on Ashley Prentice Norton’s novel with Emma Forrest adapting. The story is set in 1980s New York, centered on the relationship between a rich chocolate heiress and her precocious young daughter.

The mother lives a free-wheeling, rock-star lifestyle, and her extravagant parties are legendary. Dazzled by her mother’s situation and constantly craving her attention, the daughter finds escape in reading beauty magazines and taking photos.

Beckinsale is producing with Mar-Key Pictures President Leslie Urdang, Miranda de Pencier and Kelly E. Ashton. Producers plan to begin shooting in New York City in the spring.

Beckinsale starred last year in “Underworld: Blood Wars” and “Love & Friendship.” Shankman’s credits include “Rock of Ages,” “Hairspray” and “A Walk to Remember.” He was in talks in October to direct “Enchanted” sequel “Disenchanted” for Disney.

Urdang said, “Emma Forrest wrote a profoundly witty and moving script with a role that could easily become Kate Beckinsale’s most brilliant and memorable.  Adam Shankman’s emotional accessibility and his gorgeous style will create a world we will not be able to resist.”

Shankman and Beckinsale are repped by UTA.


Adam Shankman Set To Direct Kate Beckinsale In ‘The Chocolate Money’ — Berlin

By Diana Lodderhose

Adam Shankman has been set to direct Kate Beckinsale in an adaptation of mother-daughter drama The Chocolate Money, based on Ashley Prentice Norton’s popular novel.

Cornerstone Films is handling international sales and will be launching to buyers at the European Film Market in Berlin next month. UTA is repping domestic.

Set in 1980s New York, the story follows the relationship between Babs Ballentyne, an impossibly rich chocolate heiress, and her precocious young daughter Bettina. Beckinsale plays Babs who is beautiful, whip-smart and lives a rock-star lifestyle. Her daughter Bettina, who is dazzled by her mother, constantly craves her attention. With her blurred view of reality, she fantasizes about normal family life and develops a crush on her mother’s married lover, Mack.

Some years later, Bettina enrols in boarding school where she goes on a self-destructive spree, partying and behaving in ways which she thinks will catch her mother’s attention. When Mack’s teenage son becomes part of her new circle of friends and her mother unexpectedly turns up on campus, she wonders if she will be ever be able forge her own identity or simply doomed as her mother’s daughter forever.

Beckinsale is producing with Mar-Key Pictures’ President Leslie Urdang, Miranda de Pencier and Kelly E. Ashton. Emma Forrest adapts the screenplay from Prentice Norton’s book.

Shankman has previously directed titles such as Hairspray, A Walk to Remember and The Pacifier and is also the director behind Disney’s upcoming sequel Disenchanted with Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden.

Film is scheduled to go into production in the Spring in New York.

Shankman and Beckinsale are repped by UTA.

Adam Shankman to direct Kate Beckinsale in 'The Chocolate Money'

By Tom Grater | Screen

Cornerstone Films will introduce the project to buyers at the EFM.

Adam Shankman (Hairspray) has signed up to direct Kate Beckinsale in the film adaptation of Ashley Prentice Norton’s novel The Chocolate Money.

Beckinsale will also produce with Leslie Urdang of Mar-Key Pictures, alongside Mirdana de Pencier and Kelly E. Ashton. The film is scheduled to shoot in New York in Spring 2017.

London-based Cornerstone Films is handling international rights and will commence sales at next month’s European Film Market (Feb 9-17). UTA is overseeing US sales.

The novel, adapted for the screen by Emma Forrest, is set in 1980s New York, following the heiress to one of American’s largest chocolate fortunes. The twisted comedy-drama tale follows the heiress’s daughter, who develops a crush on her mother’s married lover.

Leslie Urdang commented: “Emma Forrest wrote a profoundly witty and moving script with a role that could easily become Kate Beckinsale’s most brilliant and memorable.  Adam Shankman’s emotional accessibility and his gorgeous style will create a world we will not be able to resist.”

Alison Thompson and Mark Gooder added: “Adam Shankman and Kate Beckinsale are perfectly matched to this funny, audacious and profoundly moving story about a dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship that will resonate with buyers across the world looking for a female-driven movie with a big heart.”

Last weekend, Beckinsale picked up the London Critics’ Circle’s British/Irish Actress prize for Love & Friendship.

Cornerstone’s EFM slate also includes: Kirsten Dunst’s directorial debut The Bell Jar starring Dakota Fanning and Patricia Arquette; John Turturro’s comedy-drama Going Places starring Turturro and Susan Sarandon; The Kill Team by Oscar-nominated director Dan Krauss, starring Nat Wolff and Alexander Skarsgård; Boxing Drama Journeyman by writer, director and actor Paddy Considine; and Joel Hopkins’s Hampstead, starring Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson.

Baftas 2017 Nominations


  • ARRIVAL Dan Levine, Shawn Levy, David Linde, Aaron Ryder
  • I, DANIEL BLAKE Rebecca O’Brien
  • LA LA LAND Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt
  • MANCHESTER BY THE SEA Lauren Beck, Matt Damon, Chris Moore, Kimberly Steward, Kevin J. Walsh
  • MOONLIGHT Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adele Romanski


  • AMERICAN HONEY Andrea Arnold, Lars Knudsen, Pouya Shahbazian, Jay Van Hoy
  • DENIAL Mick Jackson, Gary Foster, Russ Krasnoff, David Hare
  • FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM David Yates, J.K. Rowling, David Heyman, Steve Kloves, Lionel Wigram
  • I, DANIEL BLAKE Ken Loach, Rebecca O’Brien, Paul Laverty
  • NOTES ON BLINDNESS Peter Middleton, James Spinney, Mike Brett, Jo-Jo Ellison, Steve Jamison
  • UNDER THE SHADOW Babak Anvari, Emily Leo, Oliver Roskill, Lucan Toh


  • The Girl With All the Gifts: MIKE CAREY (Writer), CAMILLE GATIN (Producer) 
  • The Hard Stop: GEORGE AMPONSAH (Writer/Director/Producer), DIONNE WALKER (Writer/Producer) 
  • Notes on Blindness: PETER MIDDLETON (Writer/Director/Producer), JAMES SPINNEY (Writer/Director), JO-JO ELLISON (Producer) 
  • The Pass: JOHN DONNELLY (Writer), BEN A. WILLIAMS (Director) 
  • Under the Shadow: BABAK ANVARI (Writer/Director), EMILY LEO, OLIVER ROSKILL, LUCAN TOH (Producers) 


  • DHEEPAN Jacques Audiard, Pascal Caucheteux
  • JULIETA Pedro Almodóvar
  • MUSTANG Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Charles Gillibert
  • SON OF SAUL László Nemes, Gábor Sipos
  • TONI ERDMANN Maren Ade, Janine Jackowski


  • 13th Ava DuVernay
  • THE EAGLE HUNTRESS Otto Bell, Stacey Reiss
  • NOTES ON BLINDNESS Peter Middleton, James Spinney
  • WEINER Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg


  • FINDING DORY Andrew Stanton
  • MOANA Ron Clements, John Musker
  • ZOOTROPOLIS Byron Howard, Rich Moore


  • ARRIVAL Denis Villeneuve
  • I, DANIEL BLAKE Ken Loach
  • LA LA LAND Damien Chazelle
  • MANCHESTER BY THE SEA Kenneth Lonergan


  • HELL OR HIGH WATER Taylor Sheridan
  • I, DANIEL BLAKE Paul Laverty
  • LA LA LAND Damien Chazelle
  • MANCHESTER BY THE SEA Kenneth Lonergan
  • MOONLIGHT Barry Jenkins


  • ARRIVAL Eric Heisserer
  • HACKSAW RIDGE Robert Schenkkan, Andrew Knight
  • HIDDEN FIGURES Theodore Melfi, Allison Schroeder
  • LION Luke Davies


  • ANDREW GARFIELD Hacksaw Ridge
  • CASEY AFFLECK Manchester by the Sea
  • JAKE GYLLENHAAL Nocturnal Animals
  • VIGGO MORTENSEN Captain Fantastic


  • AMY ADAMS Arrival
  • EMILY BLUNT The Girl on the Train
  • EMMA STONE La La Land
  • MERYL STREEP Florence Foster Jenkins


  • AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON Nocturnal Animals
  • DEV PATEL Lion
  • HUGH GRANT Florence Foster Jenkins
  • JEFF BRIDGES Hell or High Water
  • MAHERSHALA ALI Moonlight


  • HAYLEY SQUIRES I, Daniel Blake
  • MICHELLE WILLIAMS Manchester by the Sea
  • NAOMIE HARRIS Moonlight
  • VIOLA DAVIS Fences


  • ARRIVAL Jóhann Jóhannsson
  • JACKIE Mica Levi
  • LA LA LAND Justin Hurwitz
  • LION Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka
  • NOCTURNAL ANIMALS Abel Korzeniowski


  • ARRIVAL Bradford Young
  • HELL OR HIGH WATER Giles Nuttgens
  • LA LA LAND Linus Sandgren
  • LION Greig Fraser


  • ARRIVAL Joe Walker
  • HACKSAW RIDGE John Gilbert
  • LA LA LAND Tom Cross


  • DOCTOR STRANGE John Bush, Charles Wood
  • HAIL, CAESAR! Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh
  • LA LA LAND Sandy Reynolds-Wasco, David Wasco
  • NOCTURNAL ANIMALS Shane Valentino, Meg Everist


  • ALLIED Joanna Johnston
  • JACKIE Madeline Fontaine
  • LA LA LAND Mary Zophres


  • DOCTOR STRANGE Jeremy Woodhead
  • FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS J. Roy Helland, Daniel Phillips
  • HACKSAW RIDGE Shane Thomas
  • NOCTURNAL ANIMALS Donald Mowat, Yolanda Toussieng


  • ARRIVAL Claude La Haye, Bernard Gariépy Strobl, Sylvain Bellemare
  • DEEPWATER HORIZON Mike Prestwood Smith, Dror Mohar, Wylie Stateman, David Wyman
  • FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM Niv Adiri, Glenn Freemantle, Simon Hayes, Andy Nelson, Ian Tapp
  • HACKSAW RIDGE Peter Grace, Robert Mackenzie, Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright
  • LA LA LAND Mildred Iatrou Morgan, Ai-Ling Lee, Steve A. Morrow, Andy Nelson


  • ARRIVAL Louis Morin
  • DOCTOR STRANGE Richard Bluff, Stephane Ceretti, Paul Corbould, Jonathan Fawkner
  • FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM Tim Burke, Pablo Grillo, Christian Manz, David Watkins
  • THE JUNGLE BOOK Robert Legato, Dan Lemmon, Andrew R. Jones, Adam Valdez
  • ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY Neil Corbould, Hal Hickel, Mohen Leo, John Knoll, Nigel Sumner


  • THE ALAN DIMENSION Jac Clinch, Jonathan Harbottle, Millie Marsh
  • A LOVE STORY Khaled Gad, Anushka Kishani Naanayakkara, Elena Ruscombe-King
  • TOUGH Jennifer Zheng


  • CONSUMED Richard John Seymour
  • HOME Shpat Deda, Afolabi Kuti, Daniel Mulloy, Scott O’Donnell
  • MOUTH OF HELL Bart Gavigan, Samir Mehanovic, Ailie Smith, Michael Wilson
  • THE PARTY Farah Abushwesha, Emmet Fleming, Andrea Harkin, Conor MacNeill
  • STANDBY Charlotte Regan, Jack Hannon


  • Tom Holland
  • Ruth Negga
  • Laia Costa
  • Lucas Hedges
  • Anya Taylor-Joy

Patricia Arquette, Bel Powley Join Kirsten Dunst’s Directorial Debut ‘Bell Jar’

By Dave McNary | Variety

Patricia Arquette, Bel Powley and Stacy Martin have joined Dakota Fanning and Jesse Plemons in the movie adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar,” which will be Kirsten Dunst’s directorial debut.

Cornerstone Films has launched foreign sales at the American Film Market. The film is going into production in early 2017.

Fanning came on board the project in July to play the lead role of Esther Greenwood in the film, based on Plath’s 1963 novel. Plemons will portray the Lenny Shepherd character.

Dunst has adapted the script with Nellie Kim.

Priority Pictures optioned remake rights from Studio Canal. “The Bell Jar” was made into a feature film in 1979.

Priority’s Lizzie Friedman, Karen Lauder, and Greg Little will produce alongside Fanning and Echo Lake Entertainment’s Brittany Kahan. Celine Rattray and Dunst are executive producing.

In the book, Greenwood takes an internship at a magazine in New York City, and then begins to suffer a mental breakdown when she returns home to Boston. The novel is the only book ever published by Plath, who committed suicide in 1963.

Arquette won the a supporting actress Oscar for “Boyhood.” Powley starred in “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” and Martin starred in “Nymphomaniac.”

Arquette is represented by the Gersh Agency and 3 Arts Entertainment. Powley is repped by UTA, The BWH Agency and Authentic Talent and Literary Management. Martin is repped by WME, 42 West, and Greg Slewett as her attorney.

AFM: Arquette, Powley, Martin join Dunst debut 'The Bell Jar'

By Andreas Wiseman | Screen

EXCLUSIVE: Oscar winner Patricia Arquette joins adaptation of Sylvia Plath novel.

Oscar winner Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) and rising stars Bel Powley (The Diary Of A Teenage Girl) and Stacy Martin (Nymphomaniac) are to join Dakota Fanning (American Pastoral) and Jesse Plemons (Black Mass) in Kirsten Dunst’s directorial debut The Bell Jar.

Fanning will play the lead role in the adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s classic 1950’s-set novel of the same name about a young woman who finds her life spiraling out of control as she struggles with mental illness.

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

Dunst is co-writing the screenplay together with Nellie Kim. The film is due to go into production in early 2017.

Cornerstone Films is handling international sales with UTA handling the North American rights.

The prestige drama is one of a number of women-focused packages heating up the AFM.

Set in the 1950s, The Bell Jar charts the story of Esther Greenwood (Dakota Fanning), a young woman from the suburbs of Boston, who wins a summer internship at a prominent women’s magazine in New York City.

While she tries to embrace this newfound freedom, she finds herself neither stimulated nor excited by the city’s glamorous culture and lifestyle. Struggling with the expectation that girls her age should idolise this world, she is unable to reconcile her conflicted feelings. As her time in New York counts down, she can’t escape her memories of an idyllic childhood turned on its head, of Buddy - her home town first love - and of the rising wave of anxiety at the thought of a future life without real meaning.

Arquette is represented by the Gersh Agency and Management 360, Powley by UTA, The BWH Agency and Authentic Talent and Literary Management, and Martin by WME, 42 West, and Greg Slewett as her attorney.

John Turturro talks rediscovering Jesus Quintana

By Jeremy Kay | Screen

Wrestling with Bertrand Blier’s 1974 comedy Les Valseuses, John Turturro had a flash of inspiration for his sixth directorial outing, Going Places.

John Turturro was flummoxed. Try as he might, he could not crack a key piece of his adapted screenplay Going Places, his sixth and latest directorial outing, based on Bertrand Blier’s novel and 1974 film Les Valseuses.

The actor and film-maker was excited about his “reimagining” of the French sex comedy following the misadventures of three misfits, but was struggling to update Jean-Claude, the character Turturro himself would play based on Gérard Depardieu’s original role.

Then it came to him and, in a flash, Turturro’s long-held desire to revisit an old friend and the wildest hopes of millions of fans of The Big Lebowski were destined to align.

“I was calling him JC, and it reminded me of this character I’d done in a play many, many years ago [he declines to name the play but will say it was a Latino character] that had inspired Joel and Ethan [Coen] to write the character of Jesus Quintana,” says Turturro.

“So I thought, ‘Wow! We’ve talked about doing something with Jesus Quintana but it was always silly.’ I started playing around with it and I thought we could be on to something with his irony and the irreverence of the character.”

While Jesus Quintana in many people’s minds is remembered as the pederast bowler from the Coens’ 1998 comedy, Turturro says of one of his most famous on-screen creations: “I knew him in a much more complex way than what people had seen in the movie, which was the trailer version of the character.”

He took the idea to the Coens to canvass their opinion, and showed them Les Valseuses. “It kind of blew their minds,” he says. “They thought it was a great idea and told me, ‘We’ve taken a character inspired from a stage play and now you want to put him in a movie which is a French movie, which was inspired by American road movies.’”

Blier, it turns out, loved old American road movies with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, and Les Valseuses was an homage of sorts. Turturro knew this first-hand, having got to know the French film-maker after approaching him seven years ago to remake Les Valseuses, which he had first seen in his youth.

“It made a big impression on me,” says Turturro, who loved the performances of Depardieu and Patrick Dewaere, and went on to devour all Blier’s films. “I liked the humour and the irreverence and the freedom.

The men were always so perplexed by women even though they thought they had the answers, and there was a level of guile and naivety that went along with their Neanderthal behaviour.”

It turns out Blier liked Turturro’s work as an actor and agreed to what the latter calls a “reimagining more than a remake, involving guys who were older but stuck in their adolescence”.

After a quick negotiation, Turturro began to write the script in between other projects. John Penotti, president of Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, was an early champion and the company committed to finance alongside New Element and Tribus P Film.

Going Places shot in New York state over the summer and from what he has seen in the editing room these past six weeks, Turturro says he is delighted — not least with his cast, which includes Bobby Cannavale as the character originally portrayed by Dewaere, Audrey Tautou in the role played in 1974 by Miou-Miou, Susan Sarandon and Oscar contender and Aquarius star Sonia Braga.

Alison Thompson and Mark Gooder’s Cornerstone Films represents international sales and is showing a promo at AFM. ICM Partners, which represents Turturro, has teamed up with Penotti to handle North America and buyers are sniffing around. It is no surprise. While the overall package sounds tantalising - a trio of troublemakers, a gun-toting hairdresser and unexpected love - people will be desperate to see the return of Quintana, aka The Jesus.

Turturro says there is more to the bowling demon with the prodigious tongue and unsavoury past than we saw in The Big Lebowski. “You see his past, how he thinks, and there’ll be a lot of surprises,” he says. “He still has his robust side to him, but without giving away the movie, he’s not walking around like this angry guy - he wants to enjoy life a bit.”

Turturro says Quintana serves as “the perfect guide” to his characters. “They’re losers with these great schemes and everything they do backfires, but they wind up doing good things for other people. They do stuff we’d all like to be able to do but there would be too many ramifications.”

Sidney Kimmel, Penotti, Robert Salerno, Fernando Sulichin and Paul-Dominique Vacharasinthu produce. Bruce Toll, Max Arvelaiz and Michael Lewis are executive producers.

First Look: Diane Keaton, Brendan Gleeson Find Unlikely Romance in 'Hampstead'

By Alex Ritman | The Hollywood Reporter

James Norton, Jason Watkins, Lesley Manville and Simon Callow also star in the drama, which Cornerstone is showcasing at AFM.

Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson sit amid the long grass in North London's famed Hampstead Heath in the first look image for upcoming romance Hampstead.

The film, which also stars James Norton, Lesley Manville, Jason Watkins and Simon Callow, sees Keaton play an American widow who forms an unlikely alliance with Gleeson's character, who has been living on the outskirts of the woods for years, as they battle with property developers using heavy-handed tactics to get their own way.

Hampstead was first introduced to buyers at last year’s AFM by Alison Thompson and Mark Gooder’s Cornerstone Films. This year, they’ll be showing the first clips from the film, which is directed by BAFTA Award-winner Joel Hopkins (Last Chance Harvey) from a screenplay by Academy Award-nominated writer Robert Festinger (In the Bedroom). BAFTA-nominated Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae from Ecosse Films (Nowhere Boy, Becoming Jane) are producing, with Leon Clarance, Mark Woolley, Laure Vaysse, Jo Monk, Thompson and Gooder exec producing.

Motion Picture Capital has fully financed the film.

Jesse Plemons Joins Dakota Fanning in Kirsten Dunst’s ‘Bell Jar’

By Dave McNary | Variety

Jesse Plemons is joining Dakota Fanning in the movie adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar,” which will be Kirsten Dunst’s directorial debut.

Cornerstone Films has come on board to launch foreign sales next month at the American Film Market.

Fanning came on board the project in July to play the lead role of Esther Greenwood in the pic, based on Plath’s 1963 novel. Plemons will portray the Lenny Shepherd character.

Dunst has adapted the script with Nellie Kim.

Priority Pictures optioned remake rights from Studio Canal. “The Bell Jar” was made into a feature film in 1979.

Priority’s Lizzie Friedman, Karen Lauder, and Greg Little will produce alongside Fanning and Echo Lake Entertainment’s Brittany Kahan. Celine Rattray and Dunst are executive producing.

In the book, Greenwood takes an internship at a magazine in New York City, and then begins to suffer a mental breakdown when she returns home to Boston. The novel is the only book ever published by Plath, who committed suicide in 1963.

Cornerstone’s Alison Thompson and Mark Gooder said “The themes explored in ‘The Bell Jar’ resonate as strongly in 2016 as they did in 1963 when the novel was first published.  Kirsten Dunst’s compelling vision for the film has a vibrant authenticity that modern audiences will embrace and we are proud to be part of the team bringing her directorial debut to the marketplace.”

Plemons’ credits include NBC’s “Friday Night Lights,” AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” and FX’s “Fargo.” Feature credits include “Black Mass” and “The Master.”