Film News Roundup: Jacki Weaver Joining ‘Penguin Bloom’ With Naomi Watts, Andrew Lincoln

In today’s film news roundup, Jacki Weaver gets cast, Mekhi Phifer’s “Obsession” gets acquired and MiLa Media launches an open script submission system.


Two-time Academy Award nominee Jacki Weaver will join Naomi Watts and Andrew Lincoln in  the family drama “Penguin Bloom.”

Weaver will portray the mother of Watts’ character in the drama, which follows a young family on Sydney’s northern beaches who must come to terms with a near-fatal accident that leaves their mother paralyzed. As they learn to adjust to her new situation, an unlikely ally enters their lives in the form of an injured Magpie chick, dubbed “Penguin” by the family.

Penguin Bloom” is adapted from the bestseller by Bradley Trevor Greive and Cameron Bloom. The film is directed by Glendyn Ivin from a script by Shaun Grant and Harry Cripps. “Thor: Ragnarok” star Rachel House is also joining the cast as a kayak coach along with Gaye Hatfield, Leeanna Walsman and Lisa Hensley.

Weaver received Oscar nominations for “Animal Kingdom” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” Production begins in Australia in August.


Creed Bratton (“The Office”) is set to co-star alongside Sean Astin and Mira Sorvino in the comedy film, “Mayfield’s Game,” Variety has learned exclusively.

Directed by A.J. Tesler and written by Jeff Carpenter, the film follows a teenage coding prodigy whose family’s video game business is on the brink of disaster. Bratton will star as the curmudgeon father.

Outside of “The Office,” Bratton’s credits include “Grace and Frankie,” “Franklin & Bash” and “Adventure Time with Finn & Jake.” On the film front, Creed recently starred in “The Sisters Brothers” opposite Jake Gyllenhaal and Joaquin Phoenix. Bratton is represented by Amsel, Eisenstadt , Frazier & Hinojosa Talent Agency.


Samuel Goldwyn Films has acquired U.S. rights to Goran Dukic’s feature film “Obsession,” starring Mekhi Phifer, Elika Portnoy, Brad Dourif, Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Kerry Cahill.

“Obsession” will open in theaters and on VOD on Sept. 27. Phifer will portray a drifter who saves  Dourif’s character from a murderous back-alley mugger only to begin falling for his wife.

The film was produced by Lindsay Lanzillotta, David E. Ornston, Elika Portnoy and Jeremy Wall. The deal was negotiated by Meg Longo on behalf of Samuel Goldwyn Films and ICM Partners on behalf of the producers.


Independent media studio MiLa Media has unveiled an open submission for screenwriters to submit screenplays for potential production and development deals.

Its MiLa Dark division is accepting submissions of feature films in the horror genre which can be produced at a micro-budget level. MiLa Studios is also accepting submissions for medium to low budget feature films in all genres.

The writers retain the rights to their submitted projects and have the opportunity to have their projects reviewed by MiLa Media’s team with the intention of collaboration. Those that are chosen will sign a production and/or a development deal.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide this opportunity for young and experienced filmmakers alike,” said Tal Lazar, co-founder and CEO. “As an educator for the past 10 years I am very familiar with the challenges independent filmmakers are facing daily, and we have set out to open the door to the industry for those who often find it closed.”

MiLa Dark has wrapped production of “The Unborn” and plans to produce 11 additional micro-budget films to be released in theaters on Video on Demand by 2022. It also produced “Every Time I Die,” starring Drew Fonteiro and Marc Menchaca, which will be released by Gravitas Ventures in theaters and on demand on Aug. 9.