Director Antoine Fuqua arrives to the 2013 UCLA Neurosurgery Visionary Ball at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on October 24, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California
*Director Antoine Fuqua will next take on the world of boxing in “Southpaw,” a drama written by “Sons Of Anarchy” creator Kurt Sutter.
Jake Gyllenhaal will star in the pic as a welterweight champion who rises in his profession while his personal life falls apart, reports Deadline.com. The movie, financed by The Weinstein Company, is scheduled to begin production this summer.
Fuqua was looking at a number of projects to helm but decided on “Southpaw,” and his deal closed last night, according to Deadline. Still to cast is the other lead, Titus “Tick” Willis, a former fighter who was forced to retire after losing an eye and was on his way to becoming a pro trainer but retreated after his son was killed.
The project is being produced by Fuqua, Alan Riche and Peter Riche.
*When Robert Townsend was in his prime of filmmaking, “Hollywood Shuffle“ and “The Five Heartbeats“ were classic results.
Nowadays, he says black films are made a little differently — with a powerful tool.
He credits social media and the Internet as a whole to promote black filmmaking.
Antoine Fuqua visits BET’s ’106 & Park’ at BET Studios on March 21, 2013 in New York City. (March 20, 2013)
*Antoine Fuqua’s name is rarely mentioned without the phrase, “director of ‘Training Day’” somewhere close by.
After all, the Pittsburgh-born filmmaker got an Academy Award-winning performance out of star Denzel Washington, who beat Russell Crowe’s nominated performance for “A Beautiful Mind” during the 2001 ceremony.
Although Fuqua, 47, is proud of “Training Day” and its critical and commercial success, he admits he’s growing weary of studios putting the “director of Training Day” tag in front of everything he does.
Up next for Fuqua is a documentary on rap mogul Suge Knight and a biopic on drug lord Pablo Escobar.
Actress Melissa Leo attends the premiere of Lifetime’s ‘Call Me Crazy: A Five Film’ at Pacific Design Center on April 16, 2013 in West Hollywood
*Melissa Leo is negotiating to join Denzel Washington in the Antoine Fuqua-directed “The Equalizer” for Sony Pictures.
The film, based on the ’80s CBS TV series, would reunite Leo (who won an Oscar for “The Fighter”) with Fuqua, who directed her in “Olympus Has Fallen.”
Washington plays McCall, a retired covert operative who, seeking redemption for his dark deeds, quits a CIA-like agency and puts an ad in the paper that reads simply: “Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer.”
Leo will play McCall’s former handler when he worked counter-terrorism. She provides him with intelligence about who he is facing when he runs up against a new adversary. The film begins production mid-June in Boston.
Leo next stars in the Lee Daniels-directed “The Butler”, and in the final season of HBO’s “Treme,” with that series returning in late October. She was just cast in the Fox series “Wayward Pines.”
*Every Black person in the film industry doesn’t think the same. Director Antoine Fuqua made that plain recently when he told black British publication The Voice that Hollywood isn’t racist.
“I wouldn’t use the term racist, as much as I would say the playing field is not even in Hollywood,” Fuqua he said. “But ultimately, you have to put in the work.
“It’s very easy to cry racism when you’re not qualified to do the work or your work isn’t transcending to where you want it to be. Hollywood is a business and you have to look at it that way.”
He added, “I do see other things – like people who don’t understand or are ignorant to our culture. But I wouldn’t call them racist. If anything, it’s our job to expand their minds to our experience.”
As far as Black interest stories in Hollywood, he chalks that up to the lack of African Americans in high positions.
“There are no African-Americans that run major studios and most of the executives at the top level are not African-American. So when the people in those jobs are developing stories, nine times out of 10, their stories won’t be about African Americans – they’ll be about people who look like themselves.
“To say that those people are racist is not necessarily the case.”
How P.C. of him.
The director admitted most of the people who have pushed him along throughout his career have not been Black.
“99.9 per cent of the people that have given me my opportunities in this business were not African-American,” he says. “Denzel [Washington] gave me a great opportunity when we did Training Day together, and I also became friends with Mr. Sidney Poitier, who has given me great counsel and advice.
“But in terms of people in the studio system, most of the people who have given me my jobs were not African American. So I can’t sit back and say Hollywood is racist.”
*According to Deadline, Antoine Fuqua‘s “Olympus Has Fallen,” released by FilmDistrict, is looking solid at the box office in its opening weekend.
“Olympus,” which cost $70 million, grossed $10 million on Friday and $12.8 on Saturday for $30.8 million.
Pic scored an ‘A-’ with audiences which helped word of mouth. That’s a relief because the movie’s cost of $70M is one of the bigger budgets this small indie film company has ever released.
Plot of the White House takeover by terrorists is newly plausible considering sequester spending cuts meant the U.S. government couldn’t even afford White House tours anymore because of Secret Service staff shortages. No surprise that the film did publicity at the recent CPAC convention for conservative politicos.
The film was tracking strongest with males ages 18-plus and over performed its expected high teens. Director and producer Fuqua with Mark Gill assembled a solid cast of Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Ashley Judd, Robert Forster and Rick Yune.
Meanwhile, DreamWorks Animation‘s PG rated pre-historic newcomer “The Croods” led the domestic box office. It’s looking for a $44 million weekend opening.
For more info and the full top ten list, click over to Deadline.