As the world continues to celebrate the legacy of boxing great Muhammad Ali, who died Friday night at age 74, Sony pictures has today announced the re-release of its 2001 biopic Ali.
Written and directed by Michael Mann and starring Will Smith, the film charts the life and career of the three-time Heavyweight champion, philanthropist and civil rights icon from 1964 to his 1974 victory over George Foreman in the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” bout. The film will play this weekend in a few hundred theaters nationwide.
“With the passing of Muhammad Ali, we have received many requests for this film to return to theaters, in celebration of his life,” said Rory Bruer, president of Worldwide Distribution for Sony Pictures. “The film truly honors everything that made Ali one of the central figures of our time, a man who commanded his sport but whose personal faith and principles made him mean so much more. Muhammad Ali truly was The Greatest, and this tribute is a great way to honor him.”
The film garnered two Oscar nominations – Best Actor for Will Smith, and Best Supporting Actor for JonVoight, who portrayed Howard Cosell. Ali also starred Jamie Foxx, Mario Van Peebles, Ron Silver, Jeffrey Wright, and Mykelti Williamson.
Source: Muhammad Ali Biopic ‘Ali’ Starring Will Smith Gets Re-Release | Deadline
I received a press release this morning with the following:
“Marvel and Stephen King are proud to announce the next chapter in the bold epic Dark Tower series. Coming this September, THE DARK TOWER: THE DRAWING OF THE THREE –THE LADY OF SHADOWS #1 continues the epic story through the eyes of one of the series fan-favorite characters [Odetta Holmes]. Perfect for new and old fans alike, the rich and vibrant world of the Dark Tower series comes alive like never before! New York Times Bestselling writers Peter David & Robin Furth alongside rising star artist Jonathan Marks bring the action from Mid-World to our world in this exciting new installment! The Gunslinger Roland and his companion Eddie Dean, the troubled young man with the ability to open doors to other worlds are now united. Together, they will find the Dark Tower. But first they must locate the 3rd member of their ka-tet, residing in our world. Enter Odetta Holmes, a wealthy Civil Rights activist living in the South. But Odetta has a dark secret, and a darker side. To uncover that secret, we’ll have to go back to the beginning…A bold new chapter begins as Odetta Holmes makes her entrance into this landmark series. Don’t miss Stephen King’s THE DARK TOWER: THE DRAWING OF THE THREE –THE LADY OF SHADOWS #1, when it comes to comic shops and digital devices this September!”
This is obviously a comic book/graphic novel adaptation of the literary series – the second book in the novel series is titled “The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three” – so don’t get too excited. But I mention it because there is a film adaptation of the massive “Dark Tower” series that’s been in some form of development for at least 4 years (I recall writing about it on the old S&A site, prior to 2011). Most recently, earlier this year, Sony Pictures has announced that it had teamed with MRC (the a diversified global media company) to co-finance the film adaptation of the first book in the series, with plans for more, which Sony will distribute, along with a TV series based on the novels.
Also, as fans of the book series will already know, the Odetta Holmes mentioned in the above breakdown of the upcoming new installment, happens to be one of the alternate personalities of Susannah Dean – the paraplegic with multiple personalities, who, by the way, also happens to be a black woman. Odetta was the original name that she was born with – a civil rights activist though more of a pacifist, in contrast to Detta Walker, the other personality. During her time as Odetta, Susannah was the daughter of Daniel and Alice Holmes, a wealthy black couple, living in New York City. At the age of five, the serial killer Jack Mort dropped a brick from a high balcony on Odetta’s head, placing her in a coma. Out of this traumatizing incident, Odetta’s damaged mind created a completely separate, second personality named Detta Walker.
The disparity between Odetta’s two personalities approaches the level of polar opposites. Odetta is a morally righteous intellectual with a significant level of education and class who participates in civil-rights protests. Detta is a violent, base individual ruled by sexual desire and fueled by hatred towards the white people Odetta passively resists. The two personalities are completely unaware of each other’s existence – at least initially. Eventually, Odetta and Detta are forced to recognize each other’s existence, and they then combine to create the singular personality of Susannah Dean.
Initially, years ago, Universal Pictures initially planned to turn Stephen King’s mammoth novel series “The Dark Tower” into a feature film trilogy, as well as a network TV series, with Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Akiva Goldsman, to direct (Howard), produce (Grazer) and write (Goldsman) respectively.
However, Universal later dropped the project over budget concerns, and word on the street was that Warner Bros picked up where Universal left off, with the 3-headed monster (Howard, Graze, Goldsman) still very much spearheading the thing.
Skip to 2012, when it was revealed that Goldsman would soon be delivering an amended draft of the script to Warners, which addressed the budget issues, and if the studio OK’d what he delivered, the project would be good to go.
And adding to excitement that the project seemed to be getting closer to becoming a reality was word that Russell Crowe would be replacing Javier Bardem, who had long been attached to play the lead role of gunslinger Roland Deschain – which wasn’t a big surprise, since Crowe, Howard and Grazer have worked together at least twice in the past.
But the one character we are most interested in, in all this, who also happens to be one of the key characters in the sprawling epic work, is obviously Susannah Dean/Odetta Holmes/Detta Walker, who will apparently be at the center of the next chapter in the book series.
The “Dark Tower” series, which King himself considers his magnum opus, is a cross-genre work, including elements of science fiction, fantasy, horror and western, with 8 novels in the series, published between 1982 and 2012.
Here’s a plot summary: In the story, Roland Deschain is the last living member of a knightly order known as gunslingers and the last of the line of “Arthur Eld”, his world’s analogue of King Arthur. Politically organized along the lines of a feudal society, it shares technological and social characteristics with the American Old West but is also magical. Many of the magical aspects have vanished from Mid-World, but traces remain as do relics from a technologically advanced society. Roland’s quest is to find the Dark Tower, a fabled building said to be the nexus of all universes. Roland’s world is said to have “moved on”, and it appears to be coming apart at the seams. Mighty nations have been torn apart by war, entire cities and regions vanish without a trace and time does not flow in an orderly fashion. Even the sun sometimes rises in the north and sets in the east. As the series opens, Roland’s motives, goals and age are unclear, though later installments shed light on these mysteries. Along his journey to the Dark Tower, Roland meets a great number of both friends and enemies. For most of the way he is accompanied by a group of people who together with him form the Ka-tet of the Nineteen and Ninety-nine, consisting of Jake Chambers, Eddie and Susannah Dean, and Oy.
And so the question I’ve always had is, who should play Susannah Dean?
In the latest fallout from the Sony hack, “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy” Creator/Producer Shonda Rhimes has responded bluntly to a leaked email exchange between Sony Pictures Entertainment chief Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin.
“Calling Sony comments”racially insensitive remarks” instead of “racist”? U can put a cherry on a pile of sh*t but it don’t make it a sundae,” the Scandal showrunner wrote on her Twitter account on Thursday afternoon.
On Wednesday evening, BuzzFeed posted excerpts of leaked emails between Rudin and Pascal in which they corresponded about a Jeffrey Katzenberg democratic fundraiser and made mention of Kevin Hart, Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained and Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years a Slave.
Earlier in the day, Hart responded with a statement of his own, saying that is “able to brush ignorance off of my shoulder and continue to move forward.”
Pascal and Rudin have both issued apologies for the email exchange.
Rhimes, who was honored at The Hollywood Reporter‘s Women in Entertainment event on Wednesday, spoke about race and gender in the industry during the breakfast.
“The view from here — way up here where the glass ceiling is broken — would be incredible. Right? So how come I don’t remember the moment? When me with my woman-ness and my brown skin went running full speed, gravity be damned, into that thick layer of glass and smashed right through it? How come I don’t remember that happening? Here’s why: It’s 2014,” she stated. Read her entire speech here.
Lost star Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is tackling another role in a Sony film, this time joining Will Smith in the studio’s untitled NFL concussion drama directed by Parkland‘s Peter Landesman. Akinnuoye-Agbaje starred recently in disaster period pic Pompeii and the upcoming Annie remake for Sony.
He’ll play real-life NFL safety Dave Duerson, a three-time Pro Bowl pick who died in 2011 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. At his request, Duerson’s brain was sent to researchers, who determined that the athlete had suffered from the debilitating symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) caused by his football injuries.Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Bitsie Tulloch, and Albert Brooks also star in the film whichcenters on Smith’s forensic neuropathologist Dr. Bennett Omalu, whose studies on CTE prompt the NFL to take brain-related injuries seriously. Ridley Scott, Giannina Facio, David Wolthoff, Larry Shuman, and Elizabeth Cantillon are producing. Michael Schaefer and David Crockett are executive producers.
Akinnuoye-Agbaje recently filmed a role in Jay Roach’s Trumbo opposite Bryan Cranston, Helen Mirren and Diane Lane. On the small screen, the erstwhile Mr. Eko turned up on Season 5 of HBO’s Game Of Thrones and soon will return to NBC’s Odyssey as series regular. Other recent films include Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World and The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete. He is repped by APA, Circle of Confusion, the Artists Partnership in the UK, and Felker Toczek Suddleson.
According to Variety.com, Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson’s “No Good Deed,” is poised to knock box-office leader “Guardians of the Galaxy” out of first place this weekend. The Sony Pictures thriller opened to $8.8 million Stateside on Friday and is headed for a $24 to $25 million launch that will provide a much-needed boost to the historically low U.S. box office earnings.
“No Good Deed” stars Elba as an escaped convict who terrorizes Henson (a DA-turned-stay-at-home) and her two children in their own house.
The film, which carries a modest $13 million production budget, stands to benefit from targeting under-served African American audiences. It reunites Elba with his “Luther” TV show director, Sam Miller, and “Obsessed” producer, Will Packer, who is also behind the “Think Like a Man” franchise, which stars Henson. Lee Clay co-produced with Packer.
Alcon Entertainment’s “Dolphin Tale 2”, which stars Morgan Freeman, also kicked past the competition with $4.3 million on Friday. The family film will likely debut to $15 million.
If weekend estimates hold, the sequel will be a bit behind the 2011 original, which opened to $19.2 million, then went on to earn $72.3 million domestic. Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Freeman, and Kris Kristofferson all returned for the sequel, along with director Charles Martin Smith.
This year’s box office champ and summer savior, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” made $2 million on Friday to place third after three consecutive wins. It’s set to gross $7.5 million by Sunday and pass $305 million.
“Think Like a Man Too” raised the roof at multiplexes this weekend, carousing its way to $30 million domestically, according to studio estimates.
The Sony Pictures and Screen Gems sequel premiered on 2,225 screens and cost a modest $24 million to produce. It was able to capitalize on star Kevin Hart’s rising profile as it held off challenges from “22 Jump Street” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”
“It’s not bad being number one,” said Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures president of worldwide distribution. “The girls versus the guys element and getting the perspective of both sexes is something that’s always appealing to folks.”
The first “Think Like a Man” closed out its run with $91.5 million stateside. The follow-up film, brings back director Tim Story, as well as cast members such as Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Regina Hall and Jerry Ferrara, sending them to Las Vegas for a wedding ceremony that involve bachelor and bachelorette parties that take full advantage of all that Sin City has to offer.
Will Smith is ready to tackle the NFL’s concussion problem having attached himself to star in the untitled drama based on the GQ article “Game Brain” for Scott Free and Sony. Peter Landesman (“Parkland”) is on board to write and direct.
The article was written by Jeanne Marie Laskas and follows Dr. Bennet Omalu, played by Smith, the forensic neuropathologist who single-handedly made the first discovery of CTE in a professional football player and brought awareness to the public. The story is described as a whistle-blower tale in the vein of “The Insider” humanizing the price paid by professional athletes in impact sports — and the political, cultural and corporate interests that fuel the business of professional sports.
The untitled feature is one of a handful of Hollywood projects revolving around the concussion problem in the NFL taking shape in the industry. Parkes/MacDonald Productions are developing a project based on the book “League Of Denial: The NFL, Concussions And The Battle For Truth” and Isaiah Washington is set to star in the indie drama “Game Time Decision,” both of which focus on the concussion issue.
Smith can be seen next in the Warner Bros. movie “Focus” opposite Margot Robbie.
The new Los Angeles-based initiative will provide an opportunity for candidates to shadow established TV directors on episodes of various hour and half-hour scripted Sony Pictures TV series. “The Diverse Directors Program will provide access and training to promising future directors and at the same time provide us with new, emerging talent behind the camera with various points of view,” SPT President Steve Mosko said. Submissions are being accepted online from May 23-June 6, or until 500 applications are received. Candidates must submit one completed example of a past directing project, letters of recommendation from entertainment industry professionals and an interview. Twenty semi-finalists will take part in an episodic directing workshop and attend networking events. The workshop will begin in June on Sony’s Culver City lot, and the curriculum will consist of six evenings of discussion and instruction from working directors and production personnel. Starting in August, three finalists will have an opportunity to shadow participating TV directors on various series and receive a weekly stipend. Participants be invited back to direct an episode of a scripted SPT series the following season. “Diversity on all levels is a central focus to many of our programs,” said Paul Martin, SVP and Chief Diversity Officer at Sony Pictures Entertainment, “and we fully believe that the Diverse Directors Program will not only provide access and experience to a diverse group of potential directors but will also become a key component of Sony Pictures’ business strategy.”
According to Variety.com, NBA champion Dwyane Wade has teamed up with Smallville producer Mike Tollin and Sony Pictures Television to create half-hour comedy pilot Three the Hard Way for Fox, based on Wade’s life as a single father. Wade will executive produce with Tollin and Mandalay Sports Media, as well as Justin Lin, Danielle Woodrow and Troy Craig Poon of Perfect Storm Entertainment.
Fellow executive producer Ben Watkins (Burn Notice) is writing the pilot script, which will tell the story of an NBA superstar named Daryl Wade and his eccentric entourage, who find themselves parenting by committee when the lead gets full custody of his two young sons. The show is inspired by Wade’s book, A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball, in which he talks about parenting his two sons and recounting his own growing-up years and rise to the NBA elite.
Three the Hard Way is the first television development project for Wade’s ZZ Prods.
Deadline.com‘s Jen Yamato reports that Peeples writer/director Tina Gordon Chism recently sold her original script Inheritance to Sony Pictures. Inheritance is a thriller that follows a young female lawyer handling the case of a New Orleans coffee magnate whose passing sparks a deadly chain of events. This project reteams Chism with producer Stephanie Allain following the pair’s collaboration on Lionsgate’s Peeples for Tyler Perry Studios.
That film marks Chism’s directorial debut and hits theaters on May 10. Sony executive DeVon Franklin snapped up Inheritance for Sony; Alex Siskin is also producing with Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal for Escape Artists. The shoot is planned to take place on location in New Orleans. Chism got her start on The Cosby Show and made her screenwriting debut with Fox’s 2002 hit Drumline before scripting ATL for Warner Bros.