Kate Winslet-Saoirse Ronan Romance ‘Ammonite’ Pre-Sells To Sony, Lionsgate & Transmission After Heated Auction

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Following a heated auction, See-Saw’s upcoming Kate Winslet-Saoirse Ronan romance-drama Ammonite has pre-sold to Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, Lionsgate and Transmission for key international markets.
SPWA has taken a slew of i…

Beau Willimon Rewrites The Narrative Of ‘Mary Queen Of Scots,’ As Well As His Own

Read on: Deadline.

While writing the script for Mary Queen of Scots, Beau Willimon spent a lot of time with two fascinating historical figures—Queen Elizabeth I, and her cousin, Mary Stuart—coming to identify personally with these women, for they ways in whic…

‘Mary Queen Of Scots’ Hair & Makeup Designer Talks Transforming Margot Robbie Into Queen Elizabeth I

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Like costume designer Alexandra Byrne—her friend and frequent collaborator—Jenny Shircore was daunted by Mary Queen of Scots, trying to find a new angle on Queen Elizabeth I after covering her era twice before. Winning her first Oscar with …

‘Mary Queen Of Scots’: Margot Robbie & Saoirse Ronan On Separation, Smallpox & The Power Behind The Female Throne

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The real Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart probably never met. But when you cast a film with Margot Robbie as Elizabeth, and Saoirse Ronan as Mary, it seems only right that they come together, if only for one scene. Josie Rourke’s Mary Queen of Scots m…

The Art Of Craft: Costume Designer Alexandra Byrne Dresses ‘Mary Queen Of Scots’ In Denim

Read on: Deadline.

Twice costuming Queen Elizabeth I between 1998 and 2007—withElizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age—costume designer Alexandra Byrne knew well the opportunities and challenges of dressing the Queen, going into Josie Rourke’s Mary Queen of S…

‘Mary Queen of Scots’ Hair, Makeup Artist Gave Substance and Style to Battling Queens

Read on: Variety.

Jenny Shircore has done the makeup and hair of several queens over the years: Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth” and “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (she won an Oscar for the former) and Emily Blunt in “The Young Victoria.”  In fact, she had to be convinced to …

‘Mary Queen of Scots’ Fact Check: Was Queen Elizabeth’s Ambassador Actually Black?

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Mary Queen of Scots” is director Josie Rourke’s historical retelling of one of the most fraught and interesting periods of the Elizabethan era. But how much of it is fact and how much is fiction?

The film, which is written by Beau Willimon (“House of Cards”) and based on a book by John Guy, stars Saoirse Ronan in the titular role as Mary Stuart and Margot Robbie as her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. It also showcases a number of actors of color in prominent roles in both Mary’s and Elizabeth’s courts, including decorated Shakespearean actor Adrian Lester, who is black; he portrays Elizabeth’s ambassador to the Scottish court, Lord Thomas Randolph.

Rourke told TheWrap that colorblind casting a period drama was important to her, because of the many years black and other people of color were left out of such portrayals and films.

Also Read: ‘Mary, Queen of Scots’ Film Review: Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie Make Worthy, Regal Adversaries

“I was really clear, I would not direct an all-white period drama,” Rourke said. “Adrian, who plays, Lord Randolph, grew up 40 miles from the birthplace of William Shakespeare; he is one of our eminent Shakespearean actors. I needed to cast an ambassador who could move between the two courts and help this make sense. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t cast him.”

There were people of color in England during that time. According to the U.K. national archives, Elizabeth would have employed black servants and musicians, and even had a black chambermaid, though seeing a person of color as high up as Lord Randolph would have been improbable. Rourke said, however, that she didn’t see any reason that these actors couldn’t play these prominent roles in “Mary Queen of Scots.”

Also Read: ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ Trailer Pits Saoirse Ronan Against Margot Robbie’s Queen Elizabeth I (Video)

There is also the part of David Rizzio, who plays a major role both in history and in the film. Rizzio was an Italian-born courtier who served as private secretary and was a confidante to Mary. In “Mary Queen of Scots” he is portrayed by Puerto Rico-born actor Ismael Cruz Córdova (“Ray Donovan”). Rizzio was murdered by Mary’s husband and a group of lords, having convinced Lord Darnley that Rizzio and Mary’s close relationship was the summation of adultery.

British actress Gemma Chan (“Crazy Rich Asians”), who is of Chinese decent, also plays a prominent role in the film as Bess of Hardwick, who accumulated wealth and power during the Elizabethan era, both from her close proximity to Queen Elizabeth and having survived four marriages. In “Mary Queen of Scots,” she is a confidante of Queen Elizabeth, arranging a meeting between her and Mary, and later assuming the role of Mary’s keeper during her captive days.

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‘Mary Queen of Scots’ Leads Mixed Bag of Indie Box Office Newcomers

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Though there were no wide releases this weekend, the indie box office was very busy, as “Mary Queen of Scots,” “Vox Lux” and “Ben Is Back” made their Los Angeles/New York debuts… and the results are mixed.

Of the three films, the strongest opening went to Focus Features’ “Mary Queen of Scots,” which made $200,000 from its four-screen opening for a $50,000 per screen average. That’s the mark that December specialty films are looking for. While summer indie releases can do well with a $10,000-$30,000 opening average, the December market is far more crowded. An opening of less than $50,000 is likely a sign that the film is going to fizzle out quickly, as arthouse moviegoers go for other more acclaimed films.

But even with this strong start, “Mary Queen of Scots” is not guaranteed to hold on as Christmas draws closer. The film failed to earn any Golden Globe nominations this week, and critical reception has been good but not spectacular with a 68 percent Rotten Tomatoes score. With major awards contenders like Annapurna’s “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Vice” coming soon — the latter earned a surprising six Golden Globe nominations — “Mary” could find itself squeezed out.

Also Read: Golden Globes Nominations Analysis: ‘Vice’ and ‘Green Book’ Emerge as Curious Front Runners

Josie Rourke’s feature directorial debut, “Mary Queen of Scots” stars Saoirse Ronan as the Catholic monarch, who returns from France after the death of her husband to try to establish her rule over Scotland only to have her reign sabotaged by the religious and sexist prejudices of men, a hurdle that also plagues Queen Elizabeth (Margot Robbie), who is being pushed by Parliament in England to fight against Mary’s claim to the throne. Jack Lowden, David Tennant and Guy Pearce also star, with the screenplay written by “House of Cards” creator Beau Willimon.

Two other newcomers are showing signs of taking an early exit. NEON’s “Vox Lux,” which stars Natalie Portman as a scandal-ridden pop star, earned $162,252 from six screens for an average of $27,042. Meanwhile, Roadside Attractions’ “Ben Is Back,” which stars Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges as a mother and her drug-addicted son, made $80,972 for an average of $20,243.

While those are decent numbers, they are far below those of previous award season entries from these studios and actors. Portman’s last major prestige film, “Jackie,” earned her an Oscar nomination and opened to an average of $55,000 on the first weekend of December in 2016, double that of “Vox Lux.”

Also Read: ‘Vox Lux’ Film Review: Natalie Portman’s Rock Fable Is a Bit of a Mess, But Maybe That’s the Point

As for “Ben Is Back,” its opening average is far less than the last Roadside Attractions release starring Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea,” which earned an opening average of $64,000 two years ago. It’s also well short of the opening average of another Hedges film that came out last month, “Boy Erased,” which posted a $41,400 per screen average.

Fox Searchlight’s “The Favourite” expanded to 91 screens this weekend after earning five Golden Globe nominations and is still performing regally, grossing $1.43 million for a per screen average of $15,714. With just under $3.5 million grossed overall so far, the film will expand nationwide to around 525 screens in 75 domestic markets.

Among other holdovers, “Boy Erased” reached the $6 million mark on its sixth weekend, earning $420,000 from 622 theaters to push its total to $6.3 million. CBS Films’ “At Eternity’s Gate” added $310,000 in its fourth weekend to bring its total to $1 million.

Finally, Fox Searchlight saw two more films hit milestones this weekend. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, which earned nominations for stars Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, is approaching the $7 million mark after earning $245,000 in its eighth weekend. Meanwhile, Robert Redford’s swan song “The Old Man & The Gun” has reached $11 million after 11 weekends in theaters.

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Director Josie Rourke Turned to Abbey Road Studios to Mix the Soundtrack for ‘Mary Queen of Scots’

Read on: Variety.

“Mary queen of scots,” the period drama about the life of Mary Stuart, played by Saoirse Ronan, and that of her English cousin Queen Elizabeth I, portrayed by Margot Robbie, may mark Josie Rourke’s feature film directorial debut, but as the artistic di…

Notes On The Season: Oscar Race’s Crazy Weekend; ‘Mary’s’ Two Queen Contenders; Indie Spirits Go Really Indie

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A column chronicling conversations and events on the awards circuit
“This is absolutely the single worst weekend of the year,” one exasperated publicist told me last night after the AFI Fest closing night screening of Mary Queen Of Scots.  …

‘Mary, Queen of Scots’ Film Review: Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie Make Worthy, Regal Adversaries

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Period pieces have always been a bit bittersweet for me: Stunning costumes aside, the films rarely offer something to which a woman or a person of color can connect. Historical tales often cast women as bitter and evil, or soft and in need of rescuing, and they also erase people of color completely from existence.

Contrary to what far too many filmmakers seem to believe, people of color didn’t just drop from the sky in the past few decades. We have been here all along; we’ve fought in wars, built cities, have been part of royal courts, and lived in lands as peasants, soldiers and laypeople all over the world. And women have always been a spectrum of personalities, opinions and lifestyles, muted only for the comfort of the male gaze.

“Mary, Queen of Scots” acknowledges both the struggles of women and the fact that people of color have always been part of society, even during the Renaissance and Age of Discovery. The film also provides an intense, gorgeous and fully fleshed-out story of two queens, each born to rule yet still controlled and manipulated by the very men in whom they invest their trust and lives.

Watch Video: ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ Trailer Pits Saoirse Ronan Against Margot Robbie’s Queen Elizabeth I

Adapted by Beau Willimon (“House of Cards”) from John Guy’s biography “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart”, the film opens in 1561, when Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) returns to Scotland after the death of her husband, King Francis II. Alhough Mary is the true sovereign of Scotland, the kingdom has been run by regents since her infancy, and she had little knowledge over the complex politics taking place there. Her devout Catholicism, in a land mainly comprised of Protestants, leads everyone, from her advisors to her people, to cast a suspicious eye upon her. But Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie) knows what it means to be a woman in power, and how even a throne can feel like a cage, but when it comes to dealing with Mary, Elizabeth doesn’t defy the advice of her all-male court for fear that her own people would turn against her and strip her of her crown.

First-time screen director Josie Rourke brings her stage experience to every frame of “Mary Queen of Scots.” In the theater, every second is meticulously planned out; every turn has a purpose; every moment, a need. She uses this knowledge to create scenes that are thrilling and effective, simply by focusing on the subtle details — a mischievous smile from Ronan, a wavering look from Robbie, small and precise, a process unveiling moment by moment. These minute details make Mary and Elizabeth’s long-distance battle of wits as thrilling to watch as any bloody battle scene from “Game of Thrones” or “Gladiator.”

Also Read: ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ Gets Early December Release From Focus Features

Shying away from conventional history, Willimon’s screenplay devises a new narrative for the strained relationship between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth; the writer’s take feels fresh and much more believable, and in line with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. It presupposes that the Queens not only cared for but also respected each other, but that their conflict, and ultimately Mary’s demise, was constructed by the men around them who feared women being given too much power. This isn’t a far-fetched idea if you’ve kept your eye on politics, or even the workforce, over the past few decades. Women comprise over 51% of the population and yet, even after this recent election, we see a majority of men making decisions about women’s bodies and what rights they have over them. It’s the reason there’s still gender pay inequality, and why victims of assault are persecuted in the public square. It’s not a far-fetched idea at all.

Simultaneously, it’s refreshing to see people of color cast, not merely as background pieces spread about like bacon bits in a bland salad but given speaking roles and playing real historical figures. Even in recent period films (“First Man,” I’m looking at you), excuses of “that’s just how it was” are given to excuse the erasure of people of color. Even in the 15th century, Europe had migrants from what is now known as the Middle East, as well as Asia, India, Sub-Saharan Africa, and more. Casting talented actors like Gemma Chan, Adrian Lester, and Ismael Cruz Córdova — the latter plays an unapologetically queer character, another important aspect of representation often lacking in historical films — shows a heightened sense of awareness and creates a more realistic world.

Also Read: Margot Robbie in Talks to Star in Barbie Movie At Warner Bros

But back to the Queens: The contrast between Mary and Elizabeth is both focused and balanced, and neither the camera nor the script ever gives preference to either. The dynamics and power plays between the two are smart and calculated, and uniquely feminine. There’s a particular sequence that moves fairly quickly, where Elizabeth sends her lover (Joe Alwyn as Lord Robert Dudley) to Mary to propose that Mary take him as a suitor. Mary, completely unfettered, and perhaps a little impressed, knows exactly the chess move her cousin has made, because it plays on what Elizabeth knows Mary craves the most — a partner with whom to produce an heir. Without batting an eyelash, Mary turns the play around on the famously unmarried and childless Elizabeth, which frustrates and, in a way, delights her. Those are some boss moves.

Speaking of boss behavior, bow down to Ronan and Robbie for taking two legendarily complex characters, who have been reborn countless times in film and television, and completely owning both roles. Ronan’s fiery Mary and Robbie’s emotionally complex Elizabeth truly reign divine on screen. History has not been kind even to powerful women, and “Mary, Queen of Scots” strikes a complicated balance of making sure both characters are seen not only as icons but also as imperfect, vulnerable and subjected to so much of what women in the workplace have had to endure ever since women were allowed in the workplace.



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Welcome to Random Roles, wherein we talk to actors about the characters who defined their careers. The catch: They don’t know beforehand what roles we’ll ask them to talk about.Read more…

Margot Robbie, Matthias Schoenaerts to Star in Black List Thriller ‘Ruin’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Margot Robbie and Matthias Schoenaerts are set to star in the Black List thriller “Ruin,” which will be directed by Justin Kurzel (“Assassin’s Creed”).

Ryan and Matthew Firpo wrote the script for the World War II thriller. Marc Butan of MadRiver Pictures is producing alongside Kurzel, while MadRiver’s Ara Keshishian is executive producing alongside Nik Bower and Deepak Nayar of Riverstone Pictures.

In post-WWII Germany, a Holocaust survivor (Robbie) has to make an alliance with a former SS captain (Schoenaerts) in her journey to seek revenge. Together, they hunt down the former members of the captain’s squad.

See Photo: Margot Robbie Is Sharon Tate in First Look at Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’

Principal photography is set to begin at the beginning of next year in Prague.

Kurzel made his directing debut with “The Snowtown Murders” and then followed with “Macbeth” starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. He then directed the adaptation of the video game “Assassin’s Creed.”

Robbie was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in “I, Tonya.” She will next star as Queen Elizabeth I in “Mary Queen of Scots” alongside Saoirse Ronan and Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” as well as the untitled Birds of Prey film for Warner Bros. Robbie is represented by Management 360, CAA, Narrative PR and Aran Michael Management.

Also Read: Margot Robbie Joins Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman in Movie About Fox News Scandal

Schoenaerts can net be seen in David Oelhoffen’s “Close Enemies,” which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, as well as Thomas Vinterberg’s “Kursk,” which will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. Schoenaerts is represented by CAA and UBBA.

CAA Media Finance packaged the film and is handling U.S. sales, while IMR International will handle the foreign sales.

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