Healing To Begin Filming 18 February; Cloud Atlas Tops Chinese Box Office

Note: this is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

from Pointblank Pictures‘ website

We’re finally getting some specific details on Hugo’s next starring role in Healing, which will begin filming on 18 February in Victoria. I posted links to the film’s webpage at Pointblank Pictures on Twitter and as a comment to my previous entry a couple of days ago and began to gather additional information before I was waylaid by a certain blizzard that hit the northeastern US on Saturday. 😉 It’s heartening that several media sources have since picked up the story and filled in a few additional details. The Pointblank site remains the most comprehensive, and looks set to update on the film’s progress as filming gets underway on its What’s Happening page; according to the most recent update, some of the film’s cast are already at work on pre-production, getting to know the raptors who will play a key thematic element in the story (and, likely, do a bit of scene-stealing.)

Healing’s bird trainer Andrew Payne has a script conference with Bart the eagle

To backtrack, in case anyone hasn’t read the synopsis, here’s the plotline provided by Pointblank and the subsequent press releases:

“Healing is a powerful, moving story of redemption, the discovery of hope and the healing of the spirit – in the most unlikely place, for the most unique men, through the most unusual catalyst.

Viktor Khadem is a man who has almost given up on life, sentenced to a low-security prison farm, a completely non-threatening environment where it is still felt that some individuals can be reformed. At Won Wron, Case Worker Matt Perry has established a unique program to rehabilitate broken men through giving them the responsibility for the rehabilitation of injured raptors – beautiful, fearsome proud eagles, falcons and owls.

Against all odds, Matt takes on Viktor as his number one test case, introducing him to Yasmine, the majestic wedge tailed eagle with a 2 metre wingspan. If these two can tame each other, anything is possible.”

Hugo is to portray Matt Perry in what might finally be the role that breaks the typecasting notion that Hugo only plays villains, mostly in supporting roles. (Fans have known this idea is rubbish for years, but Hugo’s Australian films are often overlooked or unknown to too much of the general public.) Don Hany has been cast as Viktor Khadem. Also in the cast are three former costars of Hugo’s: Justine Clarke (STC’s Hedda Gabler, Dangerous Liaisons), Tony Martin (who memorably played Det. Steele in Craig Monahan’s first film, The Interview) and Robert Taylor (who played Agent Jones in the first Matrix film and is now starring on the US cable procedural Longmire).

Inside Film provided a few new quotes from director Craig Monahan about the long-planned project (He first mentioned it in interviews as early as 2005, while promoting Peaches, and even then wanted Hugo Weaving to star.) “The script is inspired by true events and the powerful connection forged by humans with birds and animals…  This project has attracted a remarkable cast and crew and we are privileged to be working with them and the dedicated staff at Healesville Sanctuary.” The film’s cinematographer is Academy Award-winner Andrew Lesnie, who shot the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, Hollywood hits like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Babe, for which Hugo provided the voice of Rex the sheepdog. (I note an animal theme here…) 😉

The film will be distributed by Pinnacle in Australia and Lightning Entertainment on the international market, though no specifics on countries and release dates is yet available. Ramascreen posted the full press release from Lightning Entertainment, which features the following quotes from Lightning president Robert Beaumont: “It’s wonderful being associated with and bringing to our buyers a film with an excellent pedigree of filmmakers and cast. HEALING brings all those qualities to the table and we have high hopes for the film….Craig [Monahan] and Alison [Niselle] have successfully crafted a script which truly captures the ability of the human being to atone, transform, and ultimately heal. HEALING is a powerfully uplifting story about redemption that moved me from the moment Craig [Monahan] and [producer] Tait [Brady] first pitched it tome. The team has attracted some of Australia’s finest creative talent to the project, one that I think will shine another spotlight on the country’s wonderful tradition of quality filmmaking.” According to the press release, the film will be introduced to potential international buyers at the upcoming European Film Market in Berlin. Screen Daily and FilmBiz Asia also covered the press release. The Lowdownunder posted a slightly different press release (probably from Pointblank) featuring a more general overview of the project and its participants.

No, we haven’t had any specific news or pics of Hugo from the set… yet. (And most of the pics of him in internet coverage of the film– even Hugo’s profile pic at Pointblank– are about ten years old.) 😉 But this sounds like a project that would be close to his heart, as it hews more closely to his personal philosophy that acting should “illuminate another human being ” than the sort of roles he’s more famous for.

In Other Hugo Weaving News:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will debut on DVD/BluRay on March 19 (in the US), according to the LA Times’ Hero Complex.  The packages will include behind the scenes footage and (if you’re getting the BluRay) a 3D option, but this won’t be the “Expanded Edition”… Warner Bros suggests that won’t be available until “the holidays” at the end of the year. I suspect they’ll release it a few weeks in advance of The Desolation of Smaug’s theatrical bow.  Fans who do spring for the early, fewer-frills BluRay release will be treated to a “special sneak peek” at the second film in the Hobbit trilogy on 24 March at noon (PST) featuring Peter Jackson. (More  details here.) Also, it should be noted that all of the various Lord of the Rings DVD packages featured different supplemental material (there were at least three different editions) until the BluRay issue belatedly compiled the whole lot in 2011, so I suspect Warner’s will try that lucrative tactic again.

Chinese audiences proved much more embracing of Cloud Atlas than US audiences despite the 40 minutes of edits to the film released there… it’s already soared to #1 at their box office and racked up $16 million (95 million yuan) in its first week; by contrast, the film made about $9 million in the US during its first week of release in October. (The film has done much better overseas than it has here.) This is heartening and may explain why the film’s DVD release has been pushed back; I wouldn’t be against a theatrical re-release here to give the ignoramuses who missed it the first time around a second chance. 😉 As Dwain Worrell (via The Washington Times) put it, “Overlooked and underrated, Cloud Atlas is overdue and well deserving of its new foreign found success and praise. The film curves the lenses of reality and wraps them around themes and concepts that are nearly impossible to explain, less etch into a two hour screenplay. Ambitious to say the least Could Atlas artfully and responsibly translates these lofty concepts in a language that speaks to the traditional nation. Far different than anything before released in China, the film has struck a chord with Chinese movie goers and its success in China proves that ‘all boundaries are conventions’.” Additional details can be read at The Hollywood Reporter, which notes that Cloud Atlas is currently outperforming Skyfall in China.

Cloud Atlas has been nominated by the Film Music Awards for Film Score of the Year, Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Score and Film Music Composition of the Year award for Tom Tykwer, Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek’s masterful score. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was also nominated in the first two of those categories for Howard Shore’s score, but I think Cloud Atlas the more unique and deserving of the two.  More details at Film Awards Daily.

New, interesting reviews of Cloud Atlas continue to turn up on a daily basis as the film is gradually released around the world and gathers more positive word of mouth. The latest: Actuallymag, The Umlaut, Listal.com, The Average Guy, and Memoirs of a Culture Stalker.

Elisa over at Random Scribblings managed to secure and post some footage of Hugo’s brief appearance at this year’s AACTA Awards, co-presenting the Best Lead Actress award with Rebecca Gibney. (Notable Aussie character actress Deborah Mailman won, for The Sapphires.) I’m not sure why this repeats (silently the second time)… maybe to give us a look at what Hugo might have tripped over that the two of them were joking about. 😉 I’m quite charmed that Hugo’s awards show teleprompter-reading skills remain unpolished after all these years. I hope that never changes.

There’s also a red carpet video from the Wellington premiere of the Hobbit featuring Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Martin Freeman, Peter Jackson and others posted by VivirdeCine to YouTube, but it’s frustratingly overdubbed, and Hugo’s interview is cut off before he finishes speaking!

Australian fans (and those with funds to travel) not already in possession of season tickets to STC’s 2013 slate will want to note that tickets to individual plays (including Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh in Waiting for Godot) go on sale tomorrow, though they’ll probably be going fast. Some productions (including Cate Blanchett in The Maids) are already sold out. More details at TheatrePeople.com and (of course) STC.

STC promo photo of Richard Roxburgh, Hugo Weaving

Finally, here’s a vintage pic of Hugo at the New York premiere of The Matrix Reloaded back in May 2003, posted by lacyleeevan via Twitter/Instagram:

Oh, and I actually did order some of that Old Georgie tea (from Adagio’s “fandom” line of Cloud Atlas teas)… I don’t usually go in for  crazy promotional tie-ins, preferring to save my limited funds for the actual film/theater tickets/DVDs etc featuring Hugo’s actual work, and the occasional magazine for the Flickr archive. But I was already a big Lapsang Souching drinker, so I indulged in the impulse purchase. It’s quite addictive, particularly when one is snowed in or shoveling out of a major winter storm. There are also blends inspired by Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw), Rufus Sixsmith (James D’Arcy), Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent), Luisa Rey (Halle Berry) and Somni 451 (Bae Doona– don’t worry, it’s 100% soap-free.) 😉 Yes, they include pics of the characters in stickers on the bags/tins, but they’re not great quality (the Old Georgie pic was very dark– was there a copyright issue?), so you should buy primarily if you enjoy the teas in that (or another) blend.

NOTE:There are some new members here, so I’m going to repeat an old instruction not to post material here without first submitting it to me for review. This isn’t a message board; I’m trying to run an orderly news column. I don’t want this to become like Tumblr, where a lot of material gets randomly reposted without proper credit or source info… Also, I often begin writing the next post as soon as new material becomes available, and post it when I have enough information to justify a post. My Twitter feed is the “raw feed” for this column, so if you have new material you think should be included, please submit it via Twitter, the comments here or a personal message. Often when a new project is announced, many different sources run stories, but I try to find and post the original sources or most complete versions of this material. In most communities, no posts are cleared without moderation; Hugonuts is a special case because I inherited it in 2005 after it was “orphaned” by the previous moderator. But I have run the community since then and want to maintain some semblance of order.

I want Hugonuts to be a breaking news column and source for new, or newly-available, material. If you have such material, submit it to me, and I’ll be happy to post it, and of course fully credit you.   Elisa from RS has an exemption because she runs a wonderful fully-fledged fansite (Random Scribblings) and often has access to exclusive or hard to find material. (There’s also a wonderful Message Board there, for fans who can start threads (or contribute to them) on any subject that interests them.)   But I do want the site to stay on-topic and have some semblance of order. I hope this is acceptable.


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