Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Sony Pictures has confirmed Deadline’s scoop that it captured the Brad Pitt WWII tank movie Fury from Bill Block’s QED. The release is at the bottom of our original break on the story.

EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 4:42 PM PDT: Sony Pictures will emerge from a big auction with the rights on Fury, the David Ayer-directed WWII tank drama that will star Brad Pitt. This is all just unfolding, and I’m told that Sony and Universal Pictures were the big players for this film. It was shopped by Bill Block’s QED, who bought the Ayer spec for $1 million, and then got a Pitt commitment that made this the hottest project in town. I’ve heard that the budget will be $80 million plus and that QED retains some territories plus a gross position for the company and for Pitt.

Fury is a WWII script by the End Of Watch writer-director, and QED will produce with John Lesher and his Le Grisbi Productions banner. Ethan Smith, Block and Lesher are producing and they are eyeing a fall production start. The action takes place in 1945 as the Nazi regime collapses and the five-man crew of an American tank called Fury battles a desperate German army. Ayer and QED reteam after the action thriller Ten, which Ayer directed and which stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington and Mireille Enos. Open Road will release it next January. Lesher produced Ayer’s End Of Watch. Pitt most recently starred in and produced World War Z, but he’s back in the WWII territory of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

I’m still working this story and will tell you more when I can confirm it.

Columbia Pictures has acquired domestic
distribution and a good portion of the available international distribution
rights to David Ayer’s epic war film FURY, with Brad Pitt set to star in the
leading role, it was announced today by QED International CEO Bill Block and
Doug Belgrad, President of Columbia Pictures. QED is producing the film with
John Lesher’s Le Grisbi Productions and Ethan Smith. Alex Ott is co-producing
the feature with Ayer. Principal photography is set to begin in September 2013
and Columbia anticipates releasing FURY on November 14, 2014.

FURY is set at the very end of World War II, in April 1945. As the Allies make
their final push in the European Theater, a battle-hardened army sergeant named
Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly
mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered and outgunned, Wardaddy and his men
face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi
Germany.

“We loved this script from the moment we read it,” Belgrad said. “This is epic
and authentic storytelling at its finest and we couldn’t be more excited to be
in business with David Ayer and Brad Pitt on this incredible story of sacrifice
and heroism.”

QED and the studio previously partnered on the worldwide hit DISTRICT 9. FURY is
Ayer’s second film with QED, which is financing and producing his ensemble
action thriller TEN, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington and
Mireille Enos, and which is set for release from Open Road Films in January
2014. FURY also reteams Ayer with John Lesher, who produced his last film, END
OF WATCH.

Josh Grode and Noel Lohr represented QED in the transaction.

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