Screen Talk: Miramax tussle

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The Independent Culture

For many movie-industry players, this year's Cannes festival and its accompanying wheeler-dealer shindig was as much about a deal not struck as about those that were.

For folks struggling through volcanic ash clouds to get there, the anticipated reveal that Harvey and Bob Weinstein had wrestled back the Miramax stable from Disney for $625m failed to materialise. The Weinstein's created the label, sold the label and are now trying to regain control after Disney shuttered it ahead of selling it off. Backed by Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Cos, the Weinstein group and Disney were closing in on the deal. But moguls will be moguls and it seems there's a difference of opinion between Burkle and the Weinstein duo over who ultimately owns what. It's a clash of the titans in the indie movie world.

Pirates targeted

As Disney gears up for a fourth instalment of its Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, the very real fight with movie pirates is getting personal in the US as litigation against individuals illegally downloading movies takes off. The US Copyright Group is leading the charge, having been hired by the producers of the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker. The Washington DC outfit is prepping a multi-million dollar copyright-infringement lawsuit against BitTorrent users who pirated Kathryn Bigelow's explosive film online. Sniffy observers note that the Copyright Group already has lawsuits against people for 10 or so other titles including Uwe Boll's Far Cry, Call of the Wild 3D and Uncross the Stars. The movie industry suing those with bad taste, as one industry joker put it.

Vanessa signs on the dotted line

While Johnny Depp's diary fills up with a roster of acting assignments including Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, his real-life love interest Vanessa Paradis (above left) is taking up an acting role in her native French tongue. She has signed to star in director Jean-Marc Vallée's return to French-language film-making with Café de Flore. French-Canadian Vallée wrote and directed 2005's C.R.A.Z.Y., his award-winning 1970s-set breakthrough, then directed Emily Blunt in Young Victoria. Meanwhile Paradis recently flexed her vocal chords for the French animated film Un monstre à Paris. She'd previously been playing a low-key role in the world of entertainment after opting to concentrate on looking after her children.

Man of many hats

With JJ Abrams' small-screen creation Lost finishing earlier this week, the multihyphenate is gearing up for large-screen domination. Abrams has hired a gun to pen a script for his untitled heist project set up at Paramount. With his producer hat on, Abrams has brought in Phil Alden Robinson (above centre), who wrote and directed Field of Dreams, to pen a big-screen version of a Wired magazine article titled "The Untold Story of the World's Biggest Diamond Heist", by Joshua Davis. Robinson has crime form, having previously penned and directed the Robert Redford thriller Sneakers. While that is stewing, Abrams is also prepping a sequel to Cloverfield, and a second outing for his Star Trek big-screen rebirth, plus a potential "groundbreaking" take on the traditional earthquake disaster movie.

One day at a time

Lone Scherfig's romcom One Day is looking to bring Romola Garai (above right) into play to star alongside Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. The movie tracks a group of people who meet during their 1988 graduation and proceed to meet one day a year for the next 20 years. Garai will play the woman Sturgess's character marries then ultimately divorces during those years. The project is based on a novel by British author David Nicholls, who adapted his own work for the screenplay.