Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Harrison Ford signs up for Blade Runner sequel

Blade Runner
Harrison Ford has confirmed that he will reprise his role as bounty hunter Rick Deckard in the sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 science-fiction thriller Blade Runner.

Based on Philip K Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The film was set in a decaying, eternally dark, rain-sodden Los Angeles. Blade Runner followed Deckard as he hunted down a group of genetically engineered humanoid robots, known as replicants. The sequel will take several decades after the original film, which saw Deckard fleeing the city with a surviving replicant called Rachel.

The 72-year-old Ford has a track record of revisiting roles from earlier his career. He returned to the role of Indiana Jones in 2008, nearly 20 years after 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Later this year he steps back into the role Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

For many years Harrison Ford was not comfortable discussing Blade Runner, which initially failed at the box office but went on to become a cult hit. Scott has overseen two alternative edits of the movie, both of which hint at the possibility Deckard may himself be a replicant.

Sir Ridley Scott will produce the sequel, which is set to start shooting in summer 2016. Denis Villeneuve, who directed the kidnap drama Prisoners, is reported to be in talks about the directing role.

The Blade Runner sequel is based on an idea by Scott and is being co-written by Hampton Fancher, who co-wrote the original screenplay. Fancher is working with screenwriter Michael Green. “We are honoured that Harrison is joining us on this journey,” said producers Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson. “Hampton and Michael, with Sir Ridley Scott, have crafted a uniquely potent and faithful sequel to one of the most universally celebrated films of all time, and we couldn't be more thrilled with this amazing, creative team."

Terra Firma puts £1 billion price-tag on Odeon

Terra Firma bought Odeon in 2004
Private equity group Terra Firma has announced plans to sell the Odeon and UCI cinema chain. It is expected the cinema group will have an asking price of about £1bn when put on the market in May.

Terra Firma paid 475m for Odeon in 2004 and bought UCI the same year for £250m, merging the two groups.  It tried to sell Odeon/UCI in 2011, but abandoned the process after failing to attract bids close to its £1.2bn valuation.

A second attempt to sell during 2013 also proved unsuccessful. In contrast, June 2013 saw rival circuit Vue was sold by private equity firm Doughty Hanson to two Canadian pension funds, for £935m. Odeon, Cineworld and Vue account for about 70% of the UK’s cinemas screens.

Terra Firma is chaired by Guy Hands, who believes that possible buyers for Odeon and UCI include US cinema groups, private equity firms or South American cinema operators. An alternative route would be to list Odeon and UCI on the London Stock Exchange, where rival circuit Cineworld is already listed.

Odeon’s profits before interest, tax and other charges for the year ending April 2013 fell 24% to £69.2m on a 5% slide in sales to £706.7m.

Milton Keynes pioneering Point closes

The Point
The Point in Milton Keynes, one of Britain’s first multiplex cinemas, is to be demolished to make way for a retail development. The pyramid-shaped venue closed last Thursday after a screening of Kingsman: The Secret Service.

The Point opened as pioneering 10-screen venue on 3 November 1985. It was initially run by AMC in association with Milton Keynes Entertainment Corporation. After a year it was taken over by UCI International. The opening of a Cineworld in 2002 at the Xscape entertainment centre saw audience numbers fall.

The Point was then rented to easyGroup who renamed it, who adopted a pricing model which encouraged early booking –  tickets started at 20p and got more expensive according to demand. The concessions areas were removed and people were allowed to bring their own food. However, the venture did not flourish as easyCinema could not secure first run films as distributors would not make new releases available.

The easyGroup returned the cinema to UCI in 2006. By then UCI was part of Odeon, who refurbished the venue and reopened it as a cinema.

There had been a number of attempts to save the distinctive structure. Last year Bill Griffiths, director of Milton Keynes Museum director, suggested the pyramid would make a gateway to the museum’s Wolverton site. However, Milton Keynes Council has now given owner Hammersons permission for demolition of the cinema, which will be replaced to build new shops and leisure outlets.