Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer Team for Mafia Pic; James McAvoy Takes a Punch in the U.S.: Biz Break

Also in Wednesday afternoon's round-up of news briefs, Amy Adams re-teams with David O. Russell on a pic; the Academy ups exec in newly-created post; Sundance Institute adds 10 titles to new initiative; And Bollywood's first superstar dies.

Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones Set for Malavita
The film revolves around mafia family, the Manzonis, who are re-located to Normandy, France under the witness protection program. They try to fit in, but they soon find themselves falling back into familiar ways. Also joining the EuropaCorp/Relativity Media production are Dianna Agron (Glee) and John D'Leo (Wanderlust). The film begins production this summer. Luc Besson will direct from a script he is adapting from author Tonino Benacquista's book Badfellas.

Academy Appoints Andy Horn CFO
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science promoted Andy Horn to its newly created post of Chief Financial Officer. He will report to the organization's CEO Dawn Hudson. Horn has served as the Academy’s Controller since joining the staff in 2001. During that time, he has managed the year-round, day-to-day financial activities of the organization. For the annual Academy Awards, Horn participates in devising the budget and reviews expenditures, and has been involved in contract negotiations with the ABC Television Network and the CIM Group, owners of the Hollywood & Highland Center.

James McAvoy's Welcome to the Punch Headed to U.S.
IFC Films will release director Eran Creevy's action-thriller Welcome to the Punch, starring James McAvoy, Mark Strong and Andrea Riseborough. I the film, former criminal Jacob Sternwood (Strong) is forced to return to London from his Icelandic hideaway when his son is involved in a heist gone wrong. This gives detective Max Lewinsky (McAvoy) one last chance to catch the man he has always been after.

Sundance Institute to Host 10 Indies for Digital Platforms Release
The organization, which organizes the annual Sundance Film Festival, will be released on a variety of online digital platforms via its Artist Services initiative, which supports Sundance alumni in locking down distribution. Films that are immediately available to rent, download and stream include Brother to Brother (starring Anthony Mackie), Children Underground (nominated for an Academy Award), Enemies of the People (current News and Documentary Emmy Award nominee) and Dirty Work (executive produced by Edward Norton). The films will be available through various portals including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Microsoft Xbox, Sony Entertainment Network, SundanceNOW, VUDU and YouTube. For more information and additional titles, visit the Sundance Institute's website.

Around the 'net…

California Fire and Life Headed for the Big Screen
Savages author Don Winslow's 2007 thriller will be developed by Hutch Parker Entertainment. The story revolves around rising star cop Jack Wade who takes a career fall and becomes an arson investigator. But he happens upon the charred corpse of a young woman and becomes obsessed with finding her killer, Deadline reports.

Amy Adams Re-teaming with David O. Russell
The actress is boarding Sony Pictures' drama formerly known as American Bullshit. The true story centers on con-man Mel Weinberg who worked with the FBI in a complex corruption case. Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner are also on board, THR reports.

Bollywood's First Superstar Dead at 69
Rajesh Khanna, who played the romantic lead in a number of Indian films, making him Bollywood's first huge star, died Wednesday in Mumbai. He began his career in the mid '60s, taking the lead role in 120 of the 170 movies he appeared in. He was the first to have screaming fans show up consistently when he appeared in public. Women married his photograph and wrote him letters in their blood, The Guardian reports.



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