The Weinstein Company is helping Netflix compete with pay cable channels. Today the two companies announced a deal that “will make foreign language, documentary and certain other movies from The Weinstein Company exclusively available for Netflix members in the U.S. to watch instantly.”

In other words, when films like Oscar frontrunner The Artist, Ralph FiennesCoriolanus and Madonna‘s W.E. make their TV debut, it won’t be on HBO or similar channel, but on the Netflix Watch Instantly service. This deal doesn’t cover the full Netflix slate, and could well have taken place because TWC’s own research shows that a movie like The Artist is likely to do better with the Netflix subscriber base than it is on cable. Still, the end result is that this is a blow to cable company deals. Will other similar contracts between studios and Netflix follow?

Read the press release below. Read More »

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Madonna‘s first directorial effort — 2008′s Filth and Wisdom — wasn’t exactly well received, but you don’t get to be a pop icon of her magnitude without thick skin and a lot of persistence. The multihyphenate returned to the director’s chair this year for W.E., a drama consisting of two interlocking tales: one, the very well-known historical romance between Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough) and King Edward VII (James D’Arcy); the other, a contemporary affair between a married New Yorker (Abbie Cornish) and a museum guard (Oscar Isaac). Watch the first trailer after the jump.

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If you’re more interested in the typical fall slate of festival entrees than summer’s glut of tentpole action fare, this is a great week. The Toronto International Film Festival announced the first wave of films that will play the fest in September. This is a batch of about 50 titles, which makes up only a small chunk of the programming. Usually TIFF features between two and three hundred films. But these are some of the highest-profile entries.

Below you’ll find rundowns on the new films from George Clooney, Bennett Miller, Jay & Mark Duplass, Todd Solondz, Francis Ford Coppola, Cameron Crowe, Sarah Polley, Fernando Meirelles, Lars von Trier, Marc Forster, Steve McQueen, Alexander Payne, and Lynne Ramsay. No announcement yet of the Midnight Madness programming choices, always some of my faves, but this is a great start. Read More »

After a bit of delay in finding a distributor, Madonna‘s second directorial effort W.E. has a home at The Weinstein Company. Moreover, the Weinsteins plan to release the picture sometime in 2011 — a last-minute calendar addition that could mean one of two things. Either the movie has actual awards potential, or The Weinstein Company needs a movie, now, that can fill some space in November. Read More »

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Joseph Fiennes and Eva Green will travel back to Camelot, the Starz series that re-tells the story of King Arthur. Fiennes is Merlin, while Green will be Morgana. Solid casting with both, though I’m not certain that I’ll ever be able to look at an Arthurian film or TV series without having to leap the hurdle of some of Excalibur‘s actors. Nicol Williamson and Helen Mirren are pretty difficult to top as Merlin and Morgana. In this Camelot Jamie Campbell Bower is Arthur, and Tamsin Egerton is Guinevere. [Reuters]

After the break, the great Amy Ryan goes back to HBO and Madonna’s possibly interesting new film finds its last major player. Read More »

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Mario Van Peebles is currently directing Curtis Jackson in Things Fall Apart and, based on Jackson’s past thespian efforts, that’s not terribly exciting. But now Ray Liotta is joining the cast, so that’s a positive turn. Jackson is playing “a star football running back…who faces a personal tragedy as well as his own mortality while in his senior year in college.” Liotta will now play his doctor, which will make a nice change from playing intimidating cops and the like, which Liotta gets all too often.  [Variety]

After the break, Lone Scherfig (An Education) and Madonna get new talent for their next films. Read More »

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Madonna is lining up some impressive talent for her sophomore directorial effort. W.E. already features Vera Farmiga and Abbie Cornish, and has now added Ewan McGregor. The film features parallel narratives. In one, McGregor will play King Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry the American woman Wallis Simpson, played by Farmiga. The other storyline features Cornish as a modern woman obsessed with Simpson, and who is having an affair with a yet to be cast man. Madonna wrote the script for W.E. with Alex Keshishian. [Screen Daily]

After the break, more additions to Salvation Boulevard, Everything Must Go and The Fields. Read More »

A Good Year

Abbie Cornish gave one of last year’s great performances in Bright Star, and was rather overlooked when awards time came around. She has, however, won a better sort of recognition for a good performance: more work. The actress will appear in Neil Burger‘s Dark Fields, and in W.E., the sophomore directorial effort from Madonna. Read More »

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