Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Days after he scored a seven-figure deal from Universal for Snow White and the Huntsmen, producer Joe Roth is in the center of another auction. In a competitive situation, QED and financier/producer Norton Herrick have committed to fund Ten, a drama that will begin shooting in December with Bruce Willis starring. Patrick Allesandrin is directing a script by Skip Woods. Roth and Palak Patel will produce with QED principals Bill Block and Paul Hanson, Herrick and Woods. Basically, the backers committed to fund a picture with an under $35 million budget. They’ll set a distributor shortly.

This becomes the seventh film collaboration for Roth and Willis either while Roth was producer or studio exec. It was Roth who bailed Willis out of a Disney jam after the actor abruptly dropped out of the in-progress Broadway Brawler because of disputes with director  Lee Grant. Facing a lawsuit and on the hook for the $17.5 million cost to scrap the movie, Willis was persuaded by Roth to make a three-picture deal, the smartest decision the actor made outside of saying yes to Die Hard. Willis replaced Sean Connery as the star of Armageddon, getting around $3 million upfront (the rest of his usual payday offset the Broadway Brawler costs). That was followed by The Sixth Sense and The Kid. The 3 movies grossed $1.3 billion worldwide. Roth just produced Alice in Wonderland, QED just financed the Michael Mann-produced drama The Fields with Sam Worthington. Herrick, an industrialist-turned film producer, just wrapped The Vanishing on 7th Street with Hayden Christensen and Thandie Newton. CAA brokered the Ten deal.

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