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Clooney, Bird secret Disney project gets new title Paladin, 108 Media acquire ‘Valley of Saints’

LOS ANGELES, Jan 29, (Agencies): Brad Bird and George Clooney’s top secret collaboration is getting a new title, Walt Disney Studios said Monday. Previously known as “1952,” the live action film has now been dubbed “Tomorrowland.” It will hit theaters on Dec 19, 2014. The aura of mystery that surrounds the project is to be expected given that the script is being written with Damon Lindelof, who was behind “Prometheus” and “Lost,” two projects that toyed frequently and effectively with audiences’ expectations. There’s also an added level of intensity, because Bird has been very much in demand after reviving the Mission:Impossible franchise with 2011’s “Ghost Protocol.”

Speculation on what exactly the film is about erupted last week, after Bird tweeted an image of a box that he said had been found in the Disney archives. Among the objects were photos of Walt Disney from the 1950s, a vinyl record, lots of fading accordion folders, a book on the history of NASA and a copy of “Amazing Stories” magazine. “The box...opened,” Bird tweeted. Its not clear if the Bird project is enmeshed in the history of the iconic studio, but the new title could be a reference to one of the theme lands at Disney’s theme parks. Moreover, Disney himself was a futurist — so are the photos of the studio chief a hint that he may be a plot point in the story?

108 Media and Paladin have acquired worldwide distributions rights to “Valley of Saints,” a Kashmiri-language film that won a pair of awards at Sundance in 2012. Musa Syeed’s film follows Gulzar, a young man who earns his living by ferrying tourists around Dal Lake in Kashmir. Gulzar has never left his isolated village, but as he plans his escape with a friend a new curfew inhibits travel from one of the world’s most politically polarized regions. Asifa, a young scientist, then hires Gulzar to ferry her around the lake, earning his affection and changing his view of the world.

In addition to winning the Audience Award for an international dramatic film at Sundance in 2012, it will compete for Best Cinematography at the 2013 Independent Spirit Awards, “I fell in love with this film at Sundance last year and now that we have our worldwide distribution operation up and running, we are finally able to give it the home that it deserves,” 108 Media CEO Abhi Rostogi said in a statement. “What Mark will do for the film in the US will greatly enhance the film’s profile around the world.”

This film will fall under a joint distribution agreement the two companies entered last August and is the third movie they have jointly acquired. They purchased Michel Gondry’s “The We and I” and Deepa Mehta’s adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight Children” last September. Both will open in the next few months. Paladin and 108 Media will sell international rights to “Valley of Saints” beginning at the European Film Market next month and will distribute the film in North America this month. “‘Valley of Saints’ is an exquisite film that feels like the work of a master despite the fact that Musa is only his in his 20’s!,” Mark Urman, president of Paladin, said in a statement.

Participant Media has acquired North American distribution rights to “99% — The Occupy Wall St. Collaborative Film,” a documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last week. Participant is planning a theatrical run and has also scheduled the film’s TV premiere on Participant’s new channel, which will launch in August. Participant did not announce who would distribute the film — or when. The film, which depicts the eruption of the nationwide movement protesting economic and social inequality, fits with Participant’s mission of making socially conscious films. Founded by Jeff Skoll and run by Jim Berk, the company has made such films as “An Inconvenient Truth”, which explored global warming, “Waiting for Superman”, which tackled public education, and “PAGE ONE: Inside The New York Times”, which examines the present state of media.

The force isn’t with the 3-D versions of the “Star Wars” prequels. Lucasfilm said in a statement Monday that it’s postponing the scheduled 3-D releases of “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack Of The Clones” and “Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” this autumn to instead focus its efforts on “Star Wars: Episode VII.” The Walt Disney Co. confirmed Friday that J.J. Abrams, creator of the TV series “Lost” and director of 2009’s “Star Trek” movie, will direct the seventh installment of the franchise, set for a 2014 release. Disney bought “Star Wars” maker Lucasfilm last month for $4.06 billion. “Episode I — The Phantom Menace” was released in 3-D last February and earned $22.4 million domestically its opening weekend. The original prequels were released from 1999 to 2005.

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