Film News Roundup: Helen Mirren’s ‘Winchester’ Moved Up Three Weeks, Retitled

In today’s film news roundup, Helen Mirren’s haunted house movie has been moved to Super Bowl weekend, Paul Allen’s Vulcan is backing a dance documentary, and Blue Box has picked up rights to Bruce Willis’ Chinese war drama “The Bombing.”

DATE CHANGE

Lionsgate and CBS Films have moved up Helen Mirren’s haunted house movie by three weeks to Feb. 2 and retitled the film, which had been “Winchester,” as “Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built.”

Mirren stars as firearms heiress Sarah Winchester along with Jason Clarke, Sarah Snook, and Angus Sampson. Siblings Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig are directing from their own script. Producers are Tim McGahan and Brett Tomberlin.

Winchester was convinced that she was haunted by the souls killed at the hands of the Winchester Repeating Rifle. After the sudden deaths of her husband and child, she threw herself into the 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week construction of an enormous mansion designed to keep the evil spirits at bay.

Construction at the Winchester mansion in San Jose, Calif., went on continuously from 1884 to 1922 as the original farm house grew into the world’s most unusual labyrinth-mansion (24,000 square feet built at a cost of $5 million), featuring 160 rooms; 2,000 doors; 10,000 windows; nine kitchens; 13 bathrooms; and 47 stairways and fireplaces.

“Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built” will open two days before Super Bowl LII against Paramount’s Cloverfield movie.

DOCUMENTARY BACKED

Philanthropist Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions will co-produce a feature documentary on a ballet performance curated by the New York City Ballet’s prima ballerina Tiler Peck, Variety has learned exclusively.

The documentary, yet to be titled, will cover an international performance mash-up, bringing dancers, choreographers, and genres from classical ballet to tap to breakdancing for three nights of performance at the famed Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. It’s directed by Steven Cantor (“Step,” “What Remains”) and executive produced by Allen and actress Elisabeth Moss.

Vulcan Productions and Cantor and Jamie Schutz of Stick Figure Productions are co-producers of the film, which is currently in production and is slated to be available on Hulu in 2018.

Carole Tomko, general manager and creative director of Vulcan Productions, said, “Tiler’s curation of this event is incredible, and the performances by the dancers are breathtaking. In bringing the audience behind the curtain, we wanted to show the depth of detail and work that it requires to create these performances. At Vulcan, we believe in the power of the arts to transform and we hope this documentary will reinspire audiences by giving them a fresh new perspective on the art of classical dance.”

The film charts the efforts of Peck and her friend Moss to break ballet out of its rarified environs and engage a new generation of dance fans. Dogwoof has come on board to handle international rights and will be screening a teaser for the first time to buyers at the American Film Market, which starts Nov. 1 in Santa Monica, Calif.

RIGHTS SALE

Blue Box International has picked up worldwide rights to World War II action drama “The Bombing (Unbreakable Spirit),” starring Bruce Willis, Fan Bingbing, and Nicholas Tse.

The Chinese-backed production is produced by Yang Buting and Jimmy Jiang with Mel Gibson as art director. Pia Patatian and Danny Dimbort of Blue Box International, a subsidiary of Capstone Media Group, will be launching sales at Mipcom.

“The Bombing” is based on the Japanese Air Force’s attack on the Chinese city of Chongqing, which began in 1938 and lasted until 1943. Willis is portraying U.S. Air Force Commander Jack Johnson, who trains the Chinese people under harrowing conditions how to battle against the Japanese and leads his own aviation squadron.

The film is currently in post-production with plans for a wide release in China through China Film Group in the first quarter of 2018.

“We are delighted to be partnering with China Film Group and Hollywood Int’l Film Exchange to bring this amazing true story to our international partners,” said Patatian.

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