EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just learned that QED International has closed a deal with CAA for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s next film, Cry Macho. Bill Block’s financing company can now go to the Cannes Film Festival as the exclusive dealmaker for an Arnold movie (after some initial doubt whether it would be his pic or Lionsgate’s Last Stand). Now the global marketplace will decide whether the 63-year-old former California governor resuming his acting career is still a movie star able to carry a film. The final agreed-upon payday for Schwarzenegger, I’m told, is $12.5 million plus 25% first dollar gross, slightly up from last week’s negotiating position which already was top dollar money. QED is hot right now: it’s also put together I, Alex Cross starring Tyler Perry and Neil Blomkamp’s latest project Elysium

Al Ruddy, the 81-year-old Godfather and Million Dollar Baby filmmaker, will produce and Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer) Ruddy bought the 1975 novel by the late N. Richard Nash who’d adapted it into the Cry Macho screenplay. In his heyday, Schwarzenegger was a $25M/25% first dollar gross mega-player — and one deal even threw in his own giant jet. But only the rarest of the rare get those paydays these days. This pic calls for some acting chops for Arnold as a horse breeder who won the Kentucky Derby but whose wife and child get killed. He sinks into an alcoholic depression and winds up working for a hedge fund jerk who offers him a choice of getting fired or bringing back the rich guy’s son living with the ex-wife in Mexico. Unexpected plot twists ensue, including an Arnold-and-kid road trip back home.

Schwarzenegger has been busy trying to line up showbiz deals since he left political office. Just this week, he became attached to star in a rights package shopping by CAA to revive the iconic Terminator sci-fi franchises. But I hear it’s a hard sell closing sales overseas for that 52-episode children’s animated series The Governator which Arnold is doing with Stan Lee and producer Andy Heyward.

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