Oct 29

According to Deadline, Oscar-winning duo Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren will play husband and wife in Roger Michell’s art heist comedy movie The Duke for Pathé. I can reveal that the film is officially greenlighted and will shoot in January 2020. The script by Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors) and Clive Coleman is based on the real-life story of 60-year-old taxi driver Kempton Bunton who, in 1961, stole a Goya painting from the National Gallery in London. Bunton sent a ransom note saying he would only return the picture on condition that the UK government agreed to provide free TV for the elderly. However, it turned out he was spinning a web of lies, with the full story not emerging for another 50 years. The incident was the first, and still only, theft in the National Gallery’s history. Producers on the project are Nicky Bentham (Moon) for her UK banner Neon Films with Pathé, Ingenious Media and Screen Yorkshire. Executive Producers are Cameron McCracken and Jenny Borgars for Pathé, Andrea Scarso for Ingenious Media, and Hugo Heppell for Screen Yorkshire. Pathé will distribute the film in the UK, France and Switzerland and will handle sales for the rest of the world, commencing at AFM next week. Yesterday, the company also announced a new entry in the Asterix & Obelix franchise of successful French movies, which will also be on its AFM slate. Director Michell is coming off the back of Blackbird, with Susan Sarandon, Sam Neill and Kate Winslet, which premiered at TIFF. Nicky Bentham has been working on the project for four years since responding to a cold email from the grandson of Kempton Bunton. “He contacted me directly saying he had a story, it was a one paragraph email. A lot of those things come through your inbox but this one caught my eye, so I started researching the details,” Bentham told us. “I thought, ‘surely that’s not true?’ But the more I looked the more I was amazed that it actually happened.” The producer visited the family, discovering a wealth of source material including press clippings, court transcripts, family photos and original writings by Bunton, who turned out to be an amateur playwright. Bentham believed the natural home for the project was Pathé, due to the company’s track record producing comparable projects (see Florence Foster Jenkins, Suffragette, The Queen). “Pathé was the first call I made. It’s a very British story in its sensibility, quirkiness and humor – I knew they’d be able to get to the best version of it.” Broadbent was such a clear frontrunner for the lead role that Bentham says they didn’t even write a list, “If you look at the pictures [of Bunton] it’s hard to imagine anyone else.” Luckily he responded quickly and positively to the material, as did Mirren when sent the screenplay.

Aug 24

An all-star cast leads the electrifying action film, Anna, arriving on Digital September 10 and on 4K Ultra HD™ (plus Blu-ray™ and Digital), Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital), DVD, and On Demand September 24 from Summit. Beneath Anna Poliatova’s striking beauty lies a secret that will unleash her indelible strength and skill to become one of the world’s most feared government assassins. An electrifying thrill ride unfolding with propulsive energy, startling twists and breathtaking action, Anna introduces Sasha Luss in the title role.

• “Dressing a Doll: Costumes of Anna” Featurette
• “Anatomy of a Scene: Restaurant Fight” Featurette
• “Unnesting a Russian Doll: Making Anna” Featurette
• “Constructing the Car Chase” Featurette

Jul 26

According to The Telegraph, Dame Helen Mirren is to become the godmother of Scenic Eclipse, an luxury exploration ship, when it is christened in New York on September 10. The Oscar-winning actress was previously a godmother for P&O’s Ventura, back in 2008. Traditionally the figurative presence of a godmother at a ship’s naming ceremony brings good luck for future sailings, and Scenic will be hoping Mirren will do exactly that, after the run-up to Eclipse’s launch was beset by delays. The ship’s maiden voyage was originally due to take place in August 2018 but financial woes at the Uljanik construction yard in Croatia, where the ship was being built, scuppered the line’s plans. Workers went on strike after their salaries were not paid. The delays caused the first voyage to be pushed back to January this year, and then to April. Now Scenic Eclipse is due to sail on August 15, from Reykjavik to Quebec, nearly a year later than first planned. “Scenic Eclipse is a unique ship that requires an equally unique person to act in this role,” said Glen Moroney, founder and chief executive of Scenic. “Dame Helen Mirren’s style, beauty and spirit of adventure are true to those embodied in the design and ethos of Scenic Eclipse. Combined with the international acclaim as one of the world’s finest actresses, Helen Mirren makes the perfect godmother to figuratively preside over the ship and bring good fortune.” Billed as the World’s First Discovery Yacht, Scenic Eclipse will have 114 suites, 10 dining options, a gym, a spa, and a yoga studio, plus two six-person helicopters and one six-person submarine. Butler service will be on offer for all guests, with an almost 1:1 guest-staff ratio. The godmother is responsible for breaking the champagne against the ship’s hull. Dame Helen Mirren said: “I am very honoured to have been chosen as the Godmother to such a beautiful vessel as Scenic Eclipse. She will have many adventures and a wonderful life as she transports her guests in immaculate style and great safety to beautiful places.”

Jul 17

According to The Mirror, Dame Helen Mirren today backs the fight to save free TV licences for the over-75s, as more than 11,000 pensioners aged 100 or over face being stripped of the lifeline. The Oscar-winning actress throws her weight behind the battle to preserve the benefit as campaigners take their crusade to Conservative HQ. Activists will deliver 36,000 letters addressed to Tory leadership hopefuls to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, demanding the party honour its 2017 election pledge to maintain the concession for the length of this Parliament. And we can reveal how curbs meaning only over-75s receiving Pension Credit will continue to benefit, will clobber the very oldest in society. Analysis by Labour shows 469,622 people aged 90-plus; 109,083 aged 95 and over; and 11,688 people aged 100 and over will lose their free licences next year. Age UK’s charity director Caroline Abrahams said: “So many of those in their 90s and beyond are in fragile or declining health, confined to their home and almost entirely dependent on their TV for entertainment and company. Read More“For this vulnerable group, the inevitable hassle and expense of buying a licence or having to self-validate their entitlement to Pension Credit to get a free licence may prove too much, consigning them to a life without television and stripping them of their connection to the outside world.” Bectu broadcasting union chief Philippa Childs said: “This staggering statistic demonstrates the real human impact on potentially the most vulnerable pensioners of the Government’s cynical decision to pass responsibility for making decisions about future funding of the licence fee for over 75s to the BBC.” The complete article can be read over at The Mirror.

Jul 09

According to Deadline, Vin Diesel has announced on Instagram that Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren are returning for Universal’s Fast & Furious 9. Both actresses’ characters were introduced in 2017’s Fate of the Furious. Theron played cyberterrorist Cipher who forced Diesel’s Dom to turn coats on his street family and operate for her. Mirren played Magdalene Shaw, the mother of Deckard (Jason Statham) and Owen (Luke Evans). Mirren will be seen again as Magdalene in the Fast & Furious spinoff Hobbs & Shaw on August 2. They join new castmember to the franchise, John Cena, whose role is under wraps. Justin Lin (Fast & Furious 6) returns to direct part 9 which is currently shooting in London. Dan Casey wrote the screenplay from a story by Lin and Alfredo Botello. Fast & Furious 9 opens on May 22 release. Diesel produces for his One Race Films alongside Samantha Vincent, and Lin produces for his Perfect Storm Entertainment. Jeffrey Kirschenbaum and Joe Roth also will produce for Roth/Kirschenbaum Films. Diesel has produced the five highest-grossing films in the Fast & Furious franchise: The Fate of the Furious, Furious 7, Fast & Furious 6, Fast Five as well as Fast & Furious. The entire action series has racked up more than $5.1 billion at the WW box office.