Articles from September 2004

Johnny Depp on cover of UK's Empire Magazine!

UK Depp fans will want to rush to their local bookstore or newsstand to pick up the November issue of Empire. The cover features a shot of Johnny by Marc Seliger, taken during the GQ photo shoot in 2003, and the tagline, “Everybody digs Johnny Depp, but can FINDING NEVERLAND snag him an Oscar . . .” The blurb inside promises us a good read: “‘Everybody digs Johnny Depp’ declares our cover. And you know what? It’s true. Do you know anyone who doesn’t love the man and everything he does, whether it’s indie-centric, flipping the bird to Hollywood, or swaggering his way to an Oscar nod as Captain Jack Sparrow? We sure don’t. So when we saw his new film, FINDING NEVERLAND, and realised that it was belting, we immediately sat down with the man himself for an in-depth chat about all things Depp. And there’s not a mention of that godawful Oasis record anywhere.” The Zone thanks Emma for breaking this story and posting scans of the article; DeepinDepp for the interview commentary and her daughter Alex for the cover thumbnail; and Purplestreamers who typed a transcript and posted the full interview on the News board. Thanks to you all!

From Poppet comes word that Johnny and Vanessa are featured in the October 5th issue of OK Magazine in an article called “Celebrities in Love.” Describing them as “Glamorous, successful and madly in love,” the magazine notes that “[s]ome stars change partners as often as they change their outfits – but not these true romantics.” Thanks for the update, Poppet. . . . Rounding out the news from the UK, Floss reports that, at long last, the much-anticipated FINDING NEVERLAND trailer has been sighted in UK theaters. Floss caught it running before a showing of WIMBLEDON, with Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany. The same news comes from Down Under, where gronki saw the FN trailer before WIMBLEDON as well. U.S. Zoners have seen the trailer running with WIMBLEDON and also with SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW, and in some locations with THE BOURNE SUPREMACY. Thanks to all of you for the news.

UK premiere of THE LIBERTINE postponed indefinitely~~

According to Entertainment Film Distributors, the UK premiere of THE LIBERTINE, which was scheduled for October 22, 2004, has been postponed. No new release date has been announced. The Zone thanks Nichola and Emma for posting the news.

Happy 10th Anniversary to ED WOOD!

How time flies while you’re waiting for a DVD to be released! Today marks the tenth anniversary of the theatrical release of Tim Burton’s ED WOOD, a celebration of the courage, loyalty, and indefatigible spirit of the worst director in Hollywood history. Johnny Depp plays Ed Wood with just the right mix of desperation and enthusiasm; in interviews, he claimed he based his characterization on “the blind optimism of Ronald Reagan, the enthusiasm of the Tin Man from THE WIZARD OF OZ, and [disc jockey] Casey Kasem.”

Martin Landau won a supporting actor Oscar and a Golden Globe as the fading star Bela Lugosi, whom Ed Wood befriends. Here’s what he said about Johnny in his Golden Globe acceptance speech: “This is for us, Johnny. No matter what happens tonight, this is for us, because [. . .] if you play tennis by yourself, it doesn’t work. That guy is the best young actor in this town. Not only that, he comes in prepared, he’s ready to work, and he’s willing to take chances, and I love him.”

The Region 1 DVD of ED WOOD, promised for February 3, 2004 and then mysteriously recalled from the shelves, will be released on October 19th. Amazon.com is offering a pre-release price of $20.99. Ed Wood never made a great movie, but his life inspired one. Somewhere in the Great Beyond, he must be smiling.

Will a "leaner, meaner Miramax" be able to mount a strong Oscar campaign?

An article by Sharon Waxman in today’s New York Times questions whether Miramax–which recently cut another 55 employees and has reduced its workforce by 30% this year–has a big enough staff to mount its traditional aggressive Oscar campaign. The layoffs “leave the studio diminished just when it most needs muscle,” Waxman observes.

In the good news, bad news department, the good news from the Times story is that Miramax has chosen to put its (now limited) resources into a campaign for FINDING NEVERLAND and its leading actors, past Oscar nominees Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. The bad news is that Miramax’s other high-profile fall release, Martin Scorsese’s THE AVIATOR, will have a much better-funded campaign “because Miramax can count on cash from well-heeled Warner Brothers,” the Times reports. “Warner is covering half the film’s marketing and distribution costs, an arrangement that should support a full-scale push to win prizes for the picture and its star, Leonardo DiCaprio.”

A Miramax executive told the Times that being forced to abandon aggressive marketing might actually help the studio’s Oscar contenders, by averting the anti-Miramax backlash that hurt GANGS OF NEW YORK in 2002 and COLD MOUNTAIN in 2003. Johnny’s innate modesty and Kate Winslet’s good-natured candor could provide a refreshing contrast to past Miramax campaigns. The Zone thanks Newbie for breaking the story; you can read the Times article on the News & Views forum.

TV Alert: "On the Set of FINDING NEVERLAND" to air on Starz Family channel!

The release date for FINDING NEVERLAND must be getting closer, because the behind-the-scenes specials about the movie are beginning to appear. Beginning in mid-October, Starz Family channel will air a 25-minute program called “On the Set of FINDING NEVERLAND.” The special is set to air seven times: on October 15th, October 16th, October 17th, October 18th, October 20th, October 22nd, and October 23rd. Check your local listings for times in your areas. The Zone thanks johnnycake for bringing the program to our attention.

LIBERTINE producers on a U.S. distribution deal: "We're waiting to hear~~"

Three of THE LIBERTINE’s producers, John Malkovich, Lianne Halfon, and Russ Smith, were guests on AMC’s Sunday Morning Shootout on September 26th, where they were interviewed by Variety’s Peter Bart and producer Peter Guber. Asked the key question–Did they have a U.S. distributor for THE LIBERTINE yet?–Lianne Halfon replied, “We’re waiting to hear.” Technically, that means “No,” but it does contain hope that a deal may be forthcoming.

Malkovich and his partners indicated that they chose to make THE LIBERTINE without a distribution deal in place because they felt they would have more artistic freedom to tell the story. Having a distributor on board from the beginning or being tied to a major studio for funding would bring a certain amount of interference; the distributor’s focus would be on making the film as marketable as possible. The half-hour focused more on analysis of the producer’s job and of Malkovich’s decisions than THE LIBERTINE itself (perhaps this had to do with its still being a work-in-progress and not a candidate for critical commentary yet). The only discussion of Johnny had to do with how much his star status helped the producers obtain the necessary financing.

Asked if THE LIBERTINE’s sexual content might result in an NC-17 rating, Malkovich flashed a sly smile and replied, “It might be close.” Close . . . but the implication behind Malkovich’s remark was that although THE LIBERTINE might push the boundary of the R rating, the film would still come away with an R. That should reassure any prospective distributors who might have been watching Sunday Morning Shootout.

New FINDING NEVERLAND poster arrives in UK!

Finally . . . a brand new FINDING NEVERLAND poster has arrived to promote the film’s UK premiere. We hope to see it used in advertising across the Pond as well, since this poster seems to capture the essence of the film better than previous attempts.

Johnny Depp on LIBERTINE co-star Samantha Morton: "Her talents are endless . . . "

For the many Depp fans who have been curious about Johnny’s reaction to working with Samantha Morton in THE LIBERTINE, Johnny told an reporter from Time Out that “her talents are endless.” Interviewed during the Venice film festival for a Time Out feature on Morton, Johnny added, “She’s sharp, adorable, sweet, and a great mommy. She’s a good girl. I loved working with her.” In THE LIBERTINE, Morton plays Elizabeth Barry, the actress who fascinates the Earl of Rochester. “She has a strong hold on the reins, a great sense of who she is,” Johnny told Time Out. “She doesn’t buy into the whole game of movie stardom. She just does the work and is purely herself.” A rising star, Samantha Morton earned great reviews in MINORITY REPORT and last year received a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of a struggling young mother in Jim Sheridan’s IN AMERICA. TimeOut calls Johnny’s comments “a ringing endorsement from on high”–another indication of the kind of reputation for acting genius that Johnny possesses. Thanks to Emma for posting the story on the News forum.

Johnny Depp does interview for upcoming DVD of John Waters's CRY-BABY~~

Fans of John Waters’ cult classic CRY-BABY, the film which let Johnny Depp escape his 21 JUMP STREET pigeonhole forever, will be happy to know that a DVD version is in the works at last. (Up to now, the film was only available on VHS.) Even better, the extras on this “director’s cut” will feature an interview with Johnny! In an interview with Angela Dawson of Entertainment News Wire, John Waters confided that he keeps in touch with Johnny: “Johnny is doing an interview for the director’s cut of CRY-BABY for DVD.” Asked if he was “amazed” by Johnny’s career success, Waters replied, “Johnny, I’m not surprised. I believe I was lucky to get him when I did. Everybody knew he was going to be a star.”

The Zone thanks Joni for posting the John Waters interview on the News forum. You can read the full interviewhere.

Deppheads, do you want to go to the Oscars this year?

We all remember Johnny Depp’s marvelous appearance at the Oscar ceremony last year. While it’s too soon to know if he will receive a nomination for FINDING NEVERLAND, many critics are already placing him on the short list of likely nominees for his portrayal of J. M. Barrie. If you would like to be one of the lucky few watching the stars stroll down the red carpet in front of the Kodak Theater on Sunday, February 27, 2005–here’s your chance!

The official Oscar website is offering fans a chance to win seats in the bleachers to watch the red carpet arrivals. Please note–this is only to watch the stars arrive; it does not give admission to the ceremony. But it’s free! You can register from 1-4 people on a single entry form, and winners will be chosen by random drawing. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received. You must be at least 18 years old to register; however, minors can attend if accompanied by a parent or guardian (no one under age 5 is admitted). Zoners under 18 should try to persuade an older relative to enter and list them in the party, or ask to be attached to another Zoner’s entry form. Please note–the entry form asks for your drivers’ license number, so you might want to have that handy. If you are selected, you will be asked to supply a social security number for a background check (for security purposes). The contest ends at noon Pacific time on September 27, 2004, so get your entries in right away. Only one entry per individual or group–duplicates will be discarded. You can find the registration form here.

The Zone thanks MommaDeppLover for breaking this story. Good luck, everyone–we hope to see you in the bleachers on Oscar day!

"It has a nice, warm, honest feel to it": Johnny Depp on FINDING NEVERLAND

Johnny Depp told UK film critic Glenn Whipp that he took the role of J. M. Barrie in FINDING NEVERLAND–as he would later take the role of Captain Jack Sparrow in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN–because he was eager to make a movie his young children could view and enjoy. “I couldn’t exactly sit them down and put in FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS,” a laughing Johnny confided. “But I did want to give them something. When you become a parent, your head gets into a different space. You give to your kids, you play with your kids, and it awakens the play within you.”

Director Marc Forster confirms that he “always saw Johnny” in the role of Barrie because Johnny “has the child within him very much alive.” Johnny approves of the finished film: “I think it has a nice, warm, honest feel to it [. . . ]. We’re not glossing over his life, just focusing on a period when he was probably the happiest. Everyone knows PETER PAN. This shows the process behind it. I hate to use the word ‘inspirational,’ but it got to me, you know?” Judging by the enthusiastic response, FINDING NEVERLAND is getting to its audiences as well.

Thanks, Emma, for posting Glenn Whipp’s article on the News forum. You can read the full story here.

THE LIBERTINE's director says he is "hoping" for a U.S. distributor "sometime next year~~"

Eight Zoners–fya, RustyRed, Linda B, FANtastic JD, Babs, Wilma, Chocolat, and Lizabel–attended the September 18th screening of THE LIBERTINE as a work-in-progress at the Toronto Film Festival. Afterwards, they were lucky enough to speak with Laurence Dunmore, the film’s director. Asked if there is a U.S. distribution deal in the works for THE LIBERTINE, Dunmore replied that he is hoping for a distributor “sometime next year,” and that was the best he could offer. Sounds like there’s nothing definite yet . . . . Fanny (fya) reports that the director was extremely cordial to the fans and “signed everyone’s ticket, play book, whatever they had.” The Zoners found the film extremely moving and Johnny’s performance magnificent–“one of his best,” says fya–but would like to see a little work done on the continuity, to make the story easier to follow for those unfamiliar with Rochester’s life. Babs and RustyRed, who were seeing THE LIBERTINE for the second time, said the film affected them even more on a second viewing.

The Zone thanks everyone who attended the Toronto Film Festival for their reports and reactions. You can read fya’s account of the screening on her “Return from Toronto–Libertine” thread on the News & Views board.

Agent Sands alert–ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO to be released as a Superbit DVD in October!

For those Deppheads who can’t get enough of the enigmatic Agent Sands, ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO will be released in Region 1 as a Superbit DVD on October 26, 2004. Amazon is offering a presale price of $18.87 plus shipping for the new release. The Superbit format deletes extras and commentaries normally found on a DVD and uses that space to enhance picture and sound quality. Columbia Tristar Pictures explains that “the picture is less compressed. As a direct result, the Superbit DVD picture promises to be more detailed, with more vibrant colors and finer tonal gradations.” The Superbit DVD also allows a DTS 5.1 surround sound format. For those who want the finest possible viewing experience, this release may be for you. You can read more about the Superbit process here. Thanks to DeepinDepp and Veronica for sharing the news about OUATIM.

A new ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO gallery for the Johnny Depp-Zone!

We are delighted to announce the opening of the Zone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO gallery. This exhibit inaugurates a new section of the Zone’s galleries, called BY FILM. They will be devoted to photographs of Johnny Depp’s movie characters.

Since this week we celebrated the one-year anniversary of the U.S. release of ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO–it premiered on September 12, 2003– we decided to make Johnny’s portrayal of Agent Sands the subject of the first film gallery. Sleepy has shared sixteen of her beautiful portraits of Sands.

To find the gallery, click on the BY FILM button under SLEEPY’S SCANS on the right side of this page. Enjoy!

THE LIBERTINE, starring Johnny Depp, screens to thunderous applause at the Toronto Film Festival!

Johnny Depp’s most recent film, THE LIBERTINE, was screened as a work-in-progress at the Toronto Film Festival on Thursday night, September 16th. The Zone had several lucky representatives in the audience, including Laura(tco), Linda B, RustyRed, Babs, and FANtasticJD, who have reported their experiences as they sat at the screening surrounded by critics and industry executives. Here is a summary of their reactions:

Director Laurence Dunmore spoke briefly to introduce the movie, but there was no Q&A. There was no sign of Johnny Depp or John Malkovich at the screening. THE LIBERTINE ran approximately two hours and fifteen minutes, and Johnny’s character is in nearly every scene. The Zoners unanimously report that (a) Johnny’s performance as the doomed Earl of Rochester is magnificent and shattering and quite possibly his best work ever, and (b) the film will almost certainly earn an NC-17 rating in the United States if it remains in the version shown Thursday night. Director Dunmore did indicate that there is some editing still to do, and Zoners report that a couple of the scenes looked slightly out of focus, but that might have been artistic intent and not an editing flaw. The film is raunchy and sensual, very funny in places, and will summon tears in the end. Although there is plenty of sexual activity throughout the film, and some of it is quite explicit (hence the probable NC-17 rating), Zoners report that Johnny always keeps his clothes on (no surprise there) and most of the bawdiness involves extras. Nor is there any scene in which Johnny exchanges a kiss with another man. All the Zoners kept a sharp eye watching for that moment, since it had received so much pre-screening publicity–and it never happened.

All agree that the film is outstanding and Johnny is brilliant and unforgettable as the Earl. Although the screening audience was not composed of Depp fans–in fact, it was reported to be “full of distributors” eager to assess the film, and of course dozens of critics eager for a sneak peek–THE LIBERTINE received thunderous applause at the end. We hope those distributors are forming a line outside John Malkovich’s door today and are making very generous offers to bring THE LIBERTINE to the U.S. as soon as possible. To read more about THE LIBERTINE’s Toronto screening, see Laura(tco)’s post on the News & Views forum, and posts from RustyRed and LindaB on DeepinDepp’s Friday morning thread.

A final note–FANtasticJD reports that THE LIBERTINE carries a dedication to Johnny’s late mentor, Marlon Brando. How fitting that Johnny should dedicate his most daring performance to the man who reshaped twentieth-century film acting.

Miramax interested in Johnny Depp's THE LIBERTINE?

Hold on to your hats and grab the Maalox, Deppfans–word from the Toronto Film Festival is that Miramax, the studio which is bringing us FINDING NEVERLAND . . . eventually . . . someday . . . at least in one or two cities in the U.S. . . . is also interested in obtaining the rights to distribute THE LIBERTINE. Ian Mohr of The Hollywood Reporter writes that Miramax chairman Harvey Weinstein flew to Toronto especially to attend THE LIBERTINE screening on Thursday night, September 16th. Weinstein’s action was unusual because most studio executives were taking planes out of Toronto, not in, as the film festival winds down. Mohr adds, “Besides checking out the film, Weinstein was likely on hand to support Depp, who plays the lead in Miramax’s Oscar hopeful FINDING NEVERLAND.” While we applaud Harvey’s impulse to support Johnny’s work, one has to wonder if Miramax would be the best choice of distributor for THE LIBERTINE, given the studio’s well-known financial problems and the rate at which they are postponing the release of completed films. Surely there is a less nerve-wracking distributor out there who would like to promote THE LIBERTINE and would bring it into U.S. theaters in a timely and reliable fashion. One can only hope! Thanks, Emma, for posting the Hollywood Reporter story on the News & Views forum. You can read the full article here .

Last-minute rush to ready THE LIBERTINE for its Toronto screening!

In an article on the Toronto Film Festival, reporter Brendan Kelly notes that Johnny Depp’s THE LIBERTINE is defying festival wisdom, which calls for a showing on opening weekend to capture maximum media attention. “Toronto has become a front-loaded event [. . .] . It’s thought to be harder to sell pics later in the fest,” writes Kelly. But he adds that THE LIBERTINE, which has its first showing as a work-in-progress on Thursday evening September 16th at 6:30 pm, is breaking that opening-weekend pattern. The later screening date should not hurt THE LIBERTINE’s chances of finding a U.S. distributor, however, since Kelly notes that many acquisitions executives were staying in Toronto specifically to see THE LIBERTINE. Apparently an earlier date was not an option for THE LIBERTINE because the film genuinely is a work-in-progress and could not have been ready for screening on opening weekend. “The Depp pic could not have screened any earlier,” Kelly writes, adding that “the filmmakers reportedly were racing this week to complete last-minute post-production.” We wish them the best of luck with their last-minute labors, and a great distribution deal as a reward for their efforts. The Zone thanks Emma for posting Kelly’s article on the News & Views forum, and congratulates the lucky Zoners who are en route to Toronto to see THE LIBERTINE!

Johnny Depp was "first choice" to play J. M. Barrie, FINDING NEVERLAND screenwriter Magee tells New York audience~~

Several lucky Zoners attended the New York City screening of FINDING NEVERLAND on September 14th. They heard screenwriter David Magee discuss the filming of his first screenplay and explain some of the choices that were made in the storytelling process. Magee confirmed that Johnny Depp was the production staff’s first choice for the role of J. M. Barrie. Asked in what way Johnny’s performance differed from the way he had written the Barrie character, Magee replied that his original Barrie was very jocular. Johnny muted the laugh-a-minute aspect of Barrie and introduced “a strong underlying sadness” which gave him much more emotional depth.

The Zoners’ reactions to FINDING NEVERLAND are overwhelmingly positive. FANtastic JD calls the movie “a treasure,” Linda B says Johnny’s performance is “simply magnificent,” and rosearlene reports that she had a lump in her throat “the size of China.” Fran-is-a-fan, who saw the screening in Shreveport on Saturday night, calls Johnny’s performance “perfection.” Fran writes, “The on-screen chemistry between Johnny and Freddie Highmore (who plays Peter, the inspiration for Peter Pan) is immense–Johnny finally has met his match in this sprite of a child.” Thanks to all for posting their screening experiences–you can read all about it on the Zone’s News and Views forum.

"Johnny Depp Channels His Inner Lost Boy"–great FINDING NEVERLAND article in October 2004 PREMIERE Magazine!

The October 2004 issue of PREMIERE Magazine–the one with Angelina Jolie on the cover–contains an excellent background article on FINDING NEVERLAND by Mark Salisbury. Called “The Family of Pan: Johnny Depp Channels His Inner Lost Boy in FINDING NEVERLAND, as the Playwright Who Created a Children’s Classic,” the article begins on page 86. Salisbury gives a detailed explanation of why FINDING NEVERLAND could not be released last fall; reveals how Johnny and director Marc Forster really feel about that song of Elton John’s that plays at the end of the film (hint: not good); and shares many wonderful anecdotes that took place during filming.

Much of the article focuses on Johnny’s rapport with the four young actors who play the Davies boys . . . especially Freddie Highmore, who plays Peter. “The casting of Depp, an actor especially suited to tapping into the spontaneity of youth, was inspired,” writes Salisbury. Director Forster agrees: “The closer he got to the kids, the more they trusted each other, [and] the more he opened up with his playfulness.” Forster told Salisbury that the four boys were as close to Johnny in real life as their characters are onscreen. “He played with them, invited them into his trailer. The last day of shooting was almost tragic for the kids because they loved him so much, especially Freddie–he was so heartbroken and crying. They became a family.”

The article contains three medium-sized photos of Johnny at work: one of him filming a scene in the park; one of him conversing with Dustin Hoffman and Marc Forster; and a shot of Johnny with Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, and the four boys. Thanks to FANtastic JD for posting this news and photo scans on the News board.

Shreveport celebrates PETER PAN's 100th anniversary with a screening of FINDING NEVERLAND~~

“FINDING NEVERLAND will make a believer out of you,” writes Shreveport Times reviewer Alexandyr Kent, who attended last night’s festival screening. FINDING NEVERLAND’s screenwriter, David Magee, was the guest of honor at the event, designed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of J. M. Barrie’s children’s classic, PETER PAN. Magee spoke to the crowd about his conception of the film and the importance of the imagination. The screenplay is designed to show parallels between playwright J. M. Barrie’s real life and the fantasy world of PETER PAN, as Barrie becomes a surrogate father to the real Peter and his brothers: “The story of FINDING NEVERLAND becomes Barrie’s struggle to create a believable Peter Pan and teach the real Peter to trust his imagination,” explains Kent.

Kent gives the film a rave review, especially singling out the “complex” performance of Johnny Depp and the heart-rending portrayal of Peter Davies by young Freddie Highmore. “The magic of FINDING NEVERLAND lies in the way it subtly interweaves visions of reality with those of fantasy,” writes Kent, and he finds the film a worthy addition to PETER PAN lore. Thanks to Mad Scntst for sharing Kent’s review with the Zone!