CinemaCon: Warren Beatty's Howard Hughes Film to Get Fall Release From Fox, New Regency

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Arnon Milchan, left, and Warren Beatty

Beatty was at CinemaCon to honor veteran producer and Regency founder and chairman Arnon Milchan with the "Legend of Cinema Award" after a panel featuring a discussion about 'The Revenant.'

Two cinematic legends took the stage Wednesday in Las Vegas when Warren Beatty presented veteran producer Arnon Milchan with the "Legend of Cinema Award" at CinemaCon.

"I think I deserve another small round of applause because I wore a necktie," joked Beatty as he stepped up to the podium in front of the roomful of exhibitors.

Beatty is currently working on his passion project, a yet-untitled film about Howard Hughes, with the veteran producer who has made more than 130 films including The Revenant along with The Big Short, 12 Years a Slave, Birdman, Once Upon a Time in America and L.A. Confidential.

Beatty is directing and starring as Hughes in the film, which is being produced by New Regency and will be released by Fox. New Regency told The Hollywood Reporter that the movie will be released in the fall, in time for awards season.

"I've been thinking about making a movie that most people thought I'd never get around to making," said Beatty, mentioning his Hughes project in public for the first time.

Beatty told the story of how he first met Milchan in the 1970s, when Milchan came over to Beatty's home and told him, "I'm thinking about buying Twentieth Century Fox and I wonder if you would be interested in running it?" Beatty admitted that he thought Milchan would never make a movie.

"Maybe it's time for me to admit, as Nixon would have said, I may have been wrong," said Beatty, getting a laugh from the crowd.

"He's consistently respectful of the filmmaker, and he actually brings the art of risk-taking to a whole other stratosphere," added Beatty, calling Milchan the "Medici of the movies."

Milchan, taking part in a panel discussion moderated by The Hollywood Reporter chief film critic Todd McCarthy, looked back at his career, recalling how he put all the money he had into 1984's Once Upon a Time in America, his first film. "133 films later, I’m supposed to know everything. I know nothing," he said.

Milchan also spoke about the challenges of making The Revenant. "You don't think like a businessman when you do these things. You just go with your heart," he said.

The Revenant was the main subject of the luncheon event at CinemaCon, which revisited Alejandro G. Inarritu's ambitious, award-winning film.

Also taking part in the panel were New Regency president of production Pam Abdy, producer Mary Parent, New Regency CEO and president Brad Weston and actors Will Poulter and Arthur Redcloud.

"The story touched a nerve for me when I read the script," said Parent about first signing on to the complex project. "I was on one hand thrilled and on the edge of my seat, and on the other hand moved because it touched on what it is to be alive."

Added Weston about the intense frontier revenge tale: "We felt we just had the ingredients to be something incredibly special." 

The Revenant's grueling shoot and weather challenges became a well-known tale after extensive coverage during awards season — Inarritu's drama won three Oscars: best directing, best cinematography and best actor for Leonardo DiCaprio — and the producers revisited some of the challenges during the panel.

"Alejandro set out to create a cinematic experience and in order to do that, it meant not cheating a lot of things," said Parent of the film, which was shot almost completely outdoors in natural light.

"All the challenges we faced were worth enduring because we believe wholeheartedly in the vision," said Poulter. "The fact that it was so difficult unified us all."

Weston pointed out that there were extensive rehearsals on the shoot in order to pull off the often-complicated shots. "It's almost as if we made the picture twice because we rehearsed the film, rehearsed it on location and then went back to shoot it," he said.

Poulter said that Inarritu's careful planning allowed the actors to immerse themselves in the often-remote landscapes, making for very real reactions. "Alejandro was very keen to capture raw, real reactions to this very immersive world he set us in,” said Poulter. “There was very little invention as far as the acting department.”

Inarritu won back-to-back best director Oscars for The Revenant and Birdman. Abdy, who previously worked with the director on Babel, credits his ability to tell a personal story as part of the reason for his success. "There’s an intimacy to him as a person that he brings to all of his movies. At the center of The Revenant there’s an intimate story,” she said, adding that The Revenant was Inarritu’s own version of doing a big film like a Marvel movie. “He world-created and he transported us to a different time and place."

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