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Amazing Grace (2006)


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I, too, am excited about a Wilberforce film. There are a number of great stories from that era that have not been told, but his must be one of the most compelling.

However, I feel a little nervous about Walden handling it. I haven't been overwhelmed by their work so far, and their sister company Crusader Entertainment (both are associated with Philip Anschutz) has had a few misfires, notably with the adaptation of the Cliver Cussler novel Sahara. There are some great people involved, but I think the two companies are still working out the kinks.

Hopefully Narnia will be the start of something wonderful for them.

"Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?"

« Nous connaîtrions-nous seulement un peu nous-mêmes, sans les arts? »

Quoted on Canada's $20 bill; from Gabrielle Roy's novel La montagne secrète. The English translation, The Hidden Mountain, is by Harry L. Binsse.

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Well -- Crusader did finally cross the finish line with one of their projects, so I may have overstated the case about their 'misfires.'

Universal Picks Up Ray Charles Film    

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Universal has acquired worldwide rights to \"Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles (news) Story,\" starring Jamie Foxx (news) as the so-called \"genius of soul.\"  

The film, directed by Taylor Hackford (\"The Devil's Advocate\"), will be released Oct. 29 in the United States. It was produced by Crusader Entertainment.  

\"Sitting in a screening room and seeing this film in near-finished form and seeing what Taylor Hackford had captured onscreen was so compelling that we just had to be part of bringing this story to the widest possible audience,\" said Adam Fogelson, president of marketing at Universal Pictures, and Eddie Egan, co-president of marketing, in a joint statement.  

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

"Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?"

« Nous connaîtrions-nous seulement un peu nous-mêmes, sans les arts? »

Quoted on Canada's $20 bill; from Gabrielle Roy's novel La montagne secrète. The English translation, The Hidden Mountain, is by Harry L. Binsse.

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  • 1 year later...

From that Guardian story on Narnia's "stealth marketing":

[Walden Media honchos] Granat and Flaherty also had a meeting with deputy prime minister John Prescott, in relation to plans surrounding a biopic, planned for release at the end of 2006, of William Wilberforce (Prescott is, like Wilberforce, a Hull man); 2007 will see a large-scale British celebration of Wilberforce's achievements, in which Walden plans to be involved with "a solid education programme", according to Flaherty.

The IMDB says this movie is going to be called Amazing Grace and it will be directed by Michael Apted (Enigma, The World Is Not Enough, 42 Up, Nell, Gorillas in the Mist, etc.) from a script by Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things, Emma's War), but apart from an eclectic list of producers -- including Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line), Ken Wales (The Prodigal, Christy) and Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond), among others! -- there is no other information about this project.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Wow. What an interesting list of producers. I wonder if, to any extent, any of them are attached as a result of being previous optioners (which seems unlikely, if the script is still to be written {unless it was that bio that was optioned}). And I'd heard about Apted a bit ago and this is great news. His non-Up career has been, well, up and down, but I'm encouraged by the talent that's being brought to this production.

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  • 2 months later...

'Fantastic' star to free slaves in 'Amazing Grace'

Ioan Gruffudd, who starred in the summer hit "Fantastic Four," will play British anti-slavery pioneer William Wilberforce in "Amazing Grace."

Albert Finney, a five-time Academy Award nominee who recently joined Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott's "A Good Year," also has joined the cast. Michael Apted ("Enigma") will direct for Walden Media, the production company owned by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz.

"Amazing Grace" follows Wilberforce's 18th century political career, which placed him at odds with some of the most powerful men of the time, including the king. Finney will play John Newton, a Wilberforce confidant. . . .

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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For the first time ever, I think, I have actually created an image for my blog.

user posted image

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 2 months later...

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I just felt my first tingle of real enthusiasm for this project. Names like Mallick, Apted, Wales... and written by Steven Knight? I loved Dirty Pretty Things, with its quiet intensity and credible characters. (BTW, IMDB lists Knight as the creator of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" -- interesting resume.)

"Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?"

« Nous connaîtrions-nous seulement un peu nous-mêmes, sans les arts? »

Quoted on Canada's $20 bill; from Gabrielle Roy's novel La montagne secrète. The English translation, The Hidden Mountain, is by Harry L. Binsse.

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This is off topic only a bit, but Patricia Heaton's involvement was mentioned. She spoke very intelligently (she is very well read) recently to a group of Christians about her faith and vocation. She is involved through the production company (Fourboys Films) she runs with her husband, David Hunt.

The mission of Fourboys Films:

"FourBoys Films seeks to provoke and entertain audiences with stories that illuminate the human condition in all its terrifying glory. The evidence of Man

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  • 8 months later...
Film to premiere September 8 at Jim Wallis & Anne Lamott's politics-and-spirituality conference. Given the left-leaning nature of the event, and given Lamott's tendency to go WAY left these days (pro-abortion, pro-euthansia), I am wondering what the decision to premiere it here says about the film and/or its marketing campaign. Will the producers also pitch it to the red-staters who went nuts for The Passion, etc.?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Peter, Walden just did a deal with Fox for this film -- and Fox is rolling out an aggressive slate of Christian-themed films aimed directly at the evangelical market, all under the FoxFaith label. Fox's interest springs directly from their success with The Passion in the US (Warner released it in Canada), so, yes, this is aimed directly at that demographic. But this film is perfect for the Lamott/Wallis event.

"Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?"

« Nous connaîtrions-nous seulement un peu nous-mêmes, sans les arts? »

Quoted on Canada's $20 bill; from Gabrielle Roy's novel La montagne secrète. The English translation, The Hidden Mountain, is by Harry L. Binsse.

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Is the trailer for this out yet? I saw it (the trailer) at a big Christian industry fair a last month in Denver. Looks quite interesting, based on the story.

And to Alan, I wouldn't be so sure with your sum up of Gruffudd. I'm not very familiar with him, but if the trailer is any indication, he'll be playing the part quite dynamically.

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Joel, were you at the ICRS in Denver? That's where I saw the trailer, in the Walden booth. I was given some of the promotional material at the end of the show, but was told I couldn't have a copy of the trailer as it was still being carefully protected in advance of the pending deal with a studio (turned out to be Fox).

"Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?"

« Nous connaîtrions-nous seulement un peu nous-mêmes, sans les arts? »

Quoted on Canada's $20 bill; from Gabrielle Roy's novel La montagne secrète. The English translation, The Hidden Mountain, is by Harry L. Binsse.

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Joel, were you at the ICRS in Denver? That's where I saw the trailer, in the Walden booth. I was given some of the promotional material at the end of the show, but was told I couldn't have a copy of the trailer as it was still being carefully protected in advance of the pending deal with a studio (turned out to be Fox).

Hey! Yeah, I sure was. Not for myself, but for my parents, who happen to be authors. I've missed it the past couple years but heard it was great, thought I'd tag along this time and see what it was all about.

Yeah, I dropped by the walden booth, but I saw the trailer the night before, on the first night, after the music showcase. Funny! Wonder if we passed each other in the hall.

Listen to my tunes by visiting my website, or come say hello on Facebook and Twitter

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Tim Willson wrote:

: Fox's interest springs directly from their success with The Passion in the US (Warner released it in Canada) . . .

The DVDs, you mean? Newmarket handled the theatrical release of The Passion in the U.S., and Equinoxe handled it in Canada.

FWIW, I just checked the FoxFaith website, and I'm a little worried, because it seems pretty heavily oriented towards straight-to-video titles (the very-minor theatrical release End of the Spear being an exception, and other films like Cheaper by the Dozen and Doctor Dolittle being mainstream non-Christian films that are simply listed there because they are "family films").

And, um, ew, "Family and Christian Films everyone can enjoy!"? "Family and Christian", in that order?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Hmmm.

Just found out that the first (that I've seen) movie tie-in product is going to come from Ted Baehr. He is writing a book with co-producer Ken Wales and Susan Wales; title is The Amazing Grace of Freedom, New Leaf Press. Release date is January 2007.

(The announcement also conveniently included the pronunciation of Ioan Gruffudd's name: Yo-an Griffith. Was I the only person who didn't know that??)

Hey! Yeah, I sure was. [snip] Funny! Wonder if we passed each other in the hall.

Well, we exhibit at that show, so you likely did see me there -- you may even have come by to talk to us! We were promoting Crown Comedy, and were near the Word booth where the FoxFaith stuff happened (like the Olivia Hussey and Judge & Amy Reinhold signings). BTW, what do your parents write?

Tim Willson wrote:

: Fox's interest springs directly from their success with The Passion in the US (Warner released it in Canada) . . .

The DVDs, you mean? Newmarket handled the theatrical release of The Passion in the U.S., and Equinoxe handled it in Canada.

Yes, exactly. Fox's line is that they have sold "26-million units of the new 'christian' products" -- likely most of that was The Passion. In fact they joked in Denver that much of what they were featuring in this line until recently was The Sound of Music, Hello Dolly and Flicka.

FWIW, I just checked the FoxFaith website, and I'm a little worried, because it seems pretty heavily oriented towards straight-to-video titles (the very-minor theatrical release End of the Spear being an exception, and other films like Cheaper by the Dozen and Doctor Dolittle being mainstream non-Christian films that are simply listed there because they are "family films").

And, um, ew, "Family and Christian Films everyone can enjoy!"? "Family and Christian", in that order?

Well, as a studio, the strategy is reasonably sound: take products that are doing well in one market and sell them into other markets, i.e., take the 'faith-based product' to general markets, and take the family-safe product to 'faith-based' markets. Of course, that doesn't always work, but it could be a good thing if it helps break down the artificial wall in art between us and them, Christian and secular.

"Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?"

« Nous connaîtrions-nous seulement un peu nous-mêmes, sans les arts? »

Quoted on Canada's $20 bill; from Gabrielle Roy's novel La montagne secrète. The English translation, The Hidden Mountain, is by Harry L. Binsse.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Apparently this one won't be a Fox release ...

So, it premieres September 8 at that Jim Wallis thing in Pasadena. Then it plays to its first secular audience at the Toronto film festival September 16. And then ... it opens in theatres everywhere in February 2007. (Unless I'm forgetting some in-between screenings.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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So ... did anyone see the film in Pasadena tonight? (Or does anyone know anyone who did?)

FWIW, the film will also be opening the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis on October 19. The press release calls it the "U.S. Premiere", but that's only if you ignore tonight's Pasadena screening -- I guess tonight's screening doesn't count because there were no tickets sold for the screening itself, but rather, the movie was shown "privately" to people who registered for the broader conference?

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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You might be right. Samuel Goldwyn has done theatrical for films that are distributed on DVD by a studio, in the same way that theatrical distribution for The Passion was handled by companies that didn't touch the DVD (Passion was distributed by Fox in the US and Warner in Canada). But I don't think they'll be handling the DVD, and it could well go to Fox, Sony, Paramount, Warner or Disney (or a number of others, of course, but those seem likely to me).

The first reports I saw suggested that Fox was getting everything from Walden, but that isn't true after all. Walden is leaving the Narnia series with Disney, for example, and Charlotte's Web is staying with Paramount.

But Amazing Grace will likely end up at a studio for the home video sales. Goldwyn (or IDP, which it helped start) distributed The Squid and the Whale theatrically (DVD through Sony), Lassie (looks like a Weinstein release on DVD) and will be handling Facing the Giants (Sony/Provident will release the DVD).

IMDB lists Goldwyn as the theatrical distributor, but doesn't list the DVD distributor; if that announcement has been made, I missed it... but it should be coming soon.

"Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?"

« Nous connaîtrions-nous seulement un peu nous-mêmes, sans les arts? »

Quoted on Canada's $20 bill; from Gabrielle Roy's novel La montagne secrète. The English translation, The Hidden Mountain, is by Harry L. Binsse.

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Early reviews are mixed. Might depend on how the critic responds to the romantic framing device (not really a subplot, as such, from the sound of it).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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