If there is a single theme linking the three films under discussion this morning at the Weinstein panel at Deadline’s the Contenders event, it’s how single-minded obsession impacts the lives of the obsessed and their friends and families alike. Nowhere was that more evident than in discussion of The Founder, which tells the story of controversial businessman Ray Kroc, who ended up acquiring and then building out the McDonald’s empire.
As played in the film by Michael Keaton, Kroc is a driven, thirsty man looking for a big score and willing in the end to step over anyone to find it. And according to co-star Laura Dern, who plays Kroc’s long-suffering wife Ethel, Keaton perfectly captured Kroc’s intense narcissism, which Dern compared obliquely to another huckster businessman.
As Dern put it this morning, the film gets across “having a fire that defies compassion of others around you” — one she wryly said “we’re witnessing … everywhere you look right now.” That obvious but apt reference to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump got huge laughs from the audience; nervous laughs as it happens. We are only three days out from the election.
Dern told moderator Pete Hammond of Deadline that she was privileged to have been able “to watch Michael be so radically brave” in the role and said he captured “something in the eyes of a man who loses himself,” which the film explores while chronicling Kroc’s rise to corporate titanhood.
The John Lee Hancock-directed film, which has been moved around the release schedule, is getting an Oscar-qualifying run before going wide on January 20.
Also under discussion this morning, Lion, directed by Garth Davis and written by Luke Davies, with Davis and star Dev Patel on hand at the DGA Theatre in WestHollywood. The drama is based on the nonfiction book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley. Lion will be released November 25 by The Weinstein Co. The film bowed at Toronto to critical raves for the filmmakers and its stars Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham and Nicole Kidman.
Finally, director Stephen Gaghan and producer Teddy Schwarzman were on hand to talk up their Matthew McConaughey-starring Gold. The film was inspired by the Bre-X mining scandal, when gold supposedly was found in the jungles of Indonesia. After the Canadian company announced it to the world, its stock soared and Bre-X went from rags to riches — until it was revealed that the gold was fraud.
The Weinstein Co. acquired the film after a CAA auction for a whopping $15M minimum guarantee and a P&A guarantee north of $20 million to release it on more than 2,500 screens.
Gold was scripted by Patrick Massett & John Zinman and Black Bear Pictures’ Teddy Schwarzman financed the film. TWC wasn’t sure the film, which also stars Bryce Dallas Howard and Edgar Ramirez, would be ready in time for an Oscar-qualifying run, but it is getting just that when it gets released on Christmas Day.
As part of the presentation, a clip about Weinstein’s summer hit Sing Street was also shown off.