Nowhere Boy: Weinstein Backs Young Lennon Biopic

by Anne Thompson
March 16, 2009 8:38 AM
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New Weinstein Co. honcho Tom Ortenberg has scored his first big buy, Sam Taylor-Wood's Nowhere Boy, a UK feature about the early days of Beatle John Lennon. The picture has been filming for about two weeks; Ortenberg and Harvey Weinstein targeted the pic for a pre-buy in Berlin. They see the film as a possible year-end awards contender. Kristin Scott Thomas plays Lennon's Aunt Mimi, who helped raise him along with his mother Julia. The movie also details young Lennon's close relationship with Quarrymen bandmate Paul McCartney and ends when the early Beatles leave Liverpool for Hamburg, Germany to conquer the world. (I love Malcolm Gladwell's story in The Outliers about how the Beatles put in their 10,000 hours playing long sets in Hamburg.)

"It starts with the script," says Ortenberg, who describes the pic as a "relatable Beatles coming-of-age story about a young boy finding his place in the world, finding his passion, as his mother Julia introduces him to music and guitar when he's 15. There's something in it for everyone."

TWC acquired all rights, U.S., Germany, Latin America. They are planning a year end awards season release with an expansion January. Maple Pictures will release in Canada.

Press release on the jump:



**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY FINDS "NOWHERE BOY"
NEW YORK, NEW YORK (March 16, 2009) – The Weinstein Company (TWC) has acquired from HanWay Films all US, Latin America and German rights to Ecosse Films’ “Nowhere Boy," the John Lennon coming of age story directed by Sam Taylor-Wood, starring Aaron Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Thomas Sangster, David Morrissey and Anne-Marie Duff. The announcement was made today by David Glasser, TWC’s president of international distribution, Tom Ortenberg, TWC’s president of theatrical films and Tim Haslam, CEO of HanWay Films.

“Nowhere Boy” tells the never before seen story of John Lennon’s (Johnson) childhood. John Lennon is an ordinary fifteen year old boy on the streets of Liverpool. Funny, smart, naughty, a real edge to him. But life is not simple for John - he grew up in a family of secrets and was raised by his Aunt Mimi from the age of five. When he is suddenly reacquainted with his mother, Julia, they form an unbreakable bond. A bitter war rages between the two sisters for John's love. Faced with bringing it to an end, he learns the secret heartbreak of his past. But his mother gives him one great gift - music. A wayward boy finds his voice, and walks into The Beatles.

"The story of John Lennon’s childhood has never been told, and now Beatles’ fans will be able to gain insight into his fascinating life,” said Ortenberg. “Matt wrote an amazing script and Sam has brought together an incredibly talented cast. We’re thrilled to be working with Ecosse and Film4 the latter straight off of their success of “Slumdog Millionaire” and all of the other accomplished producers on board.”

"Reading the last page of the screenplay, I knew this was a film I had to make,” said Taylor-Wood. “We've brought together a really dynamic cast and made a phenomenal start. I'm very excited."

"We are very pleased to be working with the Weinstein Company on Sam Taylor-Wood's exciting debut,” said Robert Bernstein, who is producing the film for Ecosse Films.

Principal photography started on March 8th on location in Liverpool and at Ealing Studios. “Nowhere Boy” is an Ecosse Films productions in association with Film4, the UK Film Council’s Premiere Fund, NorthWest Vision and Media, Lip Sync Productions and Aver Media. The script was developed with the support of the UK Film Council’s Development Fund. The film will be produced by Bernstein and Douglas Rae for Ecosse Films (“Brideshead Revisited,” “The Waterhorse,” “Becoming Jane”) and Kevin Loader (“Venus,” “The Mother”). Matt Greenhalgh (“Control”) is writing the screenplay that is being adapted from Julia Baird’s memoir, ‘Imagine This.’ Harvey Weinstein has always been a huge fan of Tessa Ross and FilmFour and wanted to show the company support. TWC was initially introduced to Taylor-Wood by her mentor, Anthony Minghella, who produced her debut short “Love You More,” through his TWC financed company, Mirage Enterprises. TWC plans for a year-end release.

Rhodri Thomas and Ben Friedman from TWC’s UK office brought the project to Weinstein who fell in love with the screenplay. David Glasser, president of international distribution, and Michal Steinberg, svp of business and legal affairs and acquisitions, negotiated on behalf of TWC and Peter Watson negotiated on behalf of HanWay Films. This is the first acquisition made by Ortenberg and Glasser since Ortenberg’s arrival at TWC.

About The Weinstein Company
The Weinstein Company (TWC) was created by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the brothers who founded Miramax Films Corporation in 1979. TWC is a multi-media company that officially launched on October 1, 2005. Dimension Films, the genre label that was founded in 1993 by Bob Weinstein, is also included under the TWC banner.

Upcoming films to be released in 2009 by The Weinstein Company and Dimension Films include: Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” starring Brad Pitt, Mike Meyers, and Diane Kruger; “All Good Things” starring Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst and Frank Langella; "H2," the sequel to Rob Zombie's 2007 reinvention of the horror classic "Halloween"; the highly anticipated musical “Nine,” directed by Rob Marshall, featuring an all-star cast including Daniel Day Lewis, Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Marion Cotillard, Sophia Loren, Judi Dench, and Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson.

About HanWay Films
Leading British independent HanWay Films was founded in 1998 and quickly established itself as a respected international sales, distribution and marketing company, delivering a diverse range of high-profile, quality films for worldwide distribution. The company arranges financing, sales and distribution for films from Jeremy Thomas’ Recorded Picture Company (RPC) as well as third-party producers and directors. HanWay Films' current slate includes Jon Amiel’s ‘Creation’ starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly’ from Recorded Picture Company, Gurinder Chadha’s ‘It’s A Wonderful Afterlife’, Scott Hicks' ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ starring Clive Owen, from Tiger Aspect, Danis Tanovic’s ‘Triage’ starring Colin Farrell, and ‘Harry Brown’ starring Michael Caine, which is being produced by Matthew Vaughn's MARV Films. HanWay also manages extensive film collections, including libraries by the BFI, Merchant Ivory, Peter Weir, Wim Wenders as well as the RPC and HanWay Libraries.

About Ecosse Films
Ecosse Films is one of Britain’s leading film and television production companies. Its productions have won several international awards including two Oscar nominations, a Golden Globe, four BAFTAs, the Golden Rose of Montreux (two nominations), The Indies Award and The Evening Standard Award.

Previous Ecosse feature films have included John Madden’s ‘Mrs. Brown,’ starring Dame Judi Dench, and Julian Jarrold’s ‘Becoming Jane’, starring Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, Dame Maggie Smith and Julie Walters. The Ecosse co-production (with Revolution Studios, Beacon Pictures and Walden Media) of Dick King-Smith’s ‘The Water Horse’ has taken in excess of $100 million at the worldwide box office. Ecosse’s feature adaptation of ‘Brideshead Revisited’ by Julian Jarrold stars Emma Thompson, Matthew Goode, Hayley Atwell and Ben Whishaw.

About Film4
Film4, headed by Tessa Ross, is Channel 4 Television’s feature film division. The company develops and co-finances film productions and is known for working with the most innovative talent in the UK, whether new or established.

Film4’s most recent releases include Danny Boyle’s, Slumdog Millionaire most recently winner of 8 Academy Awards, Steve McQueen’s Hunger, winner of, amongst other awards, the Cannes Camera D’Or, Bob Weide’s How To Lose Friends and Alienate People, Martin McDonagh’s Oscar nominated, In Bruges, Mike Leigh’s Oscar nominated and Golden Globe Best Actress winner, Happy-Go-Lucky, Michael Winterbottom’s Genova, and Alexis Dos Santos’ Unmade Beds.

Up and coming Film4 projects include Ken Loach’s Looking for Eric, Paul King’s Bunny and the Bull, Tom Harper’s Scouting Book for Boys, Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, Chris Morris’ Four Lions, Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, Kevin Macdonald’s Eagle of the Ninth and Mike Leigh’s 09 Project.

About the UK Film Council
The UK Film Council's Premiere Fund invests £8 million of National Lottery money into mainstream, commercially-driven films encouraging the involvement of British creative talent in a range of films.

Recent films supported by the fund include Mike Leigh's award-winning Happy-Go-Lucky starring Sally Hawkins; Bob Weide's How to Lose Friends and Alienate People starring Simon Pegg; Anand Tucker's And When Did You Last See Your Father?; Julian Jarrold's Brideshead Revisited; Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson's St Trinian's; Rupert Wyatt's The Escapist; and Roger Michell's Venus. New films to be released include Oliver Gerald McMorrow's Franklyn; Christopher Smith's Triangle; Oliver Parker's Dorian Gray; Stephen Frears' Cheri; Vito Rocco's Faintheart and Gabor Csupo's The Secret of Moonacre.

About Northwest Vision and Media
Northwest Vision and Media works for and on behalf of the creative and digital industries in the region with the aim of growing a world-class economy. Vision and Media provides strategic leadership, helps to build businesses through comprehensive support including funding, developing skills and talent, inspiring audiences and encouraging and investing in production. Film is a central part of its activities. As well as nurturing the region’s brightest talent through its investments in development, production and distribution including Terence Davies ‘Of Time and The City’, it also operates the 5 Film Offices in the region.

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originally posted on Variety.com

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