Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Open Road is locking a distribution deal for Side Effects, the Scott Z. Burns script that Steven Soderbergh will direct as his next film. Blake Lively, Jude Law and Channing Tatum will star. The film is being financed by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures, with production to start in April on a thriller that has a budget in the $30 million range. This is a surprise outcome. Deadline revealed in early December that Summit was the frontrunner for a script (which had been called The Bitter Pill at the time). The script wasn’t distributed widely, at least initially. David Linde’s Lava Bear and Paramount were the other initial places (producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura’s deal is there), though a few equity financiers mulled the project as well. Soderbergh sparked to the film after Warner Bros halted The Man From U.N.C.L.E. after disagreements over budget and difficulty finding the lead after George Clooney dropped out because he was having surgery.

The film is a potboiler in the Jagged Edge-Basic Instinct mold, and Lively plays a troubled and depressed woman who is taking serious amounts of prescription drugs, which leads her into a relationship with a doctor (Law). Her intake is ostensibly designed to help her deal with the anxiety surrounding the pending release of her husband (Tatum) from prison. Burns wrote it several years ago and set it up at Miramax under the title The Side Effects, intending to direct it but never getting there because of his busy scripting schedule that included the Soderbergh projects Contagion, The Informant! and Man From U.N.C.L.E. Deal was shopped by UTA and Anonymous Content.

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