Tom Hardy has officially been set to co-star with Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, the gritty thriller adapted and helmed by Alejandro González Iñárritu from Michael Punke’s novel The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge. Oscar-winning Gravity cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki is also onboard for the New Regency and RatPac co-fi production with filming set to start on September 22 ahead of a Fall 2015 release. Iñárritu and Mark L. Smith adapted the story of a 19th century fur trapper (DiCaprio) who’s mauled by a grizzly bear, left for dead, and robbed. When he survives against all odds he sets out on a treacherous journey to exact revenge on his betrayers.
EXCLUSIVE: The Avengers star Tom Hiddleston will play Country & Western legend Hank Williams in I Saw The Light, a film that Marc Abraham will direct and which has come together as a co-production between RatPac Entertainment, Bron Studios, and Creative Wealth Media Finance, all of which will fund the film. Abraham wrote the script based on the Colin Escott biography of Williams and Aaron L. Gilbert will produce with Brett Ratner, G. Marq Rosell and Abraham. Ratner’s partner, James Packer, will be exec producer.
Production will begin in Louisiana in October, and Hiddleston will sing such Williams standards as “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “Hey Good Lookin’,” after the film’s backers made a deal with Sony ATV to secure rights to the Williams music catalog. The film will tell the story of Williams’ meteoric rise to fame, and the price that fame took on his personal life. He died at age 29 of heart failure.
EXCLUSIVE: Brett Ratner and James Packer’s RatPac Entertainment have acquired the Jon Mooallem article American Hippopotamus for Class 5 Films and RatPac for a feature film. Class 5′s Edward Norton and William Migliore will produce with RatPac’s Ratner. They will frame a feature around a difficult-to-believe but true story.
Responding to a meat shortage in the U.S. in 1910, two bitter enemies joined forces to try and import hippopotamuses to the swamps of Louisiana and convince Americans to eat them. Even though Theodore Roosevelt and The New York Times endorsed the plan, the fact that you don’t find hippo on the menu shows how well their campaign fared. Key to the movie is the rivalry of the hippo duo, both of whom were spies. Frederick Russell Burnham was a frontiersman and freelance adventurer whose exploits were the inspiration for the Boy Scouts, and he teamed with Fritz Duquesne, aka the Black Panther, a virtuoso con man and cynical saboteur who believed only in his own glorification and revenge. Burnham and Duquesne only recently had been under orders to assassinate each other, and they would return to being bitter enemies. But they took a break to try and get American hungry for hippos.
EXCLUSIVE: I’m back on my feet after an awful case of jet lag, in time to lob a couple end-of-day stories as the Cannes Film Festival continues supplying splashy deals into the waning days. The Weinstein Company tonight is now in exclusive negotiations to acquire The Water Diviner, and is in position to land the directorial debut of Russell Crowe. This comes after Crowe traveled to the Croisette and presented about 12 minutes of footage to an array of distributors at the Majestic. He then hung around and met with them. The distributors I spoke with all came away very impressed by what Crowe had done. In the end, he and his WME Global reps felt that Harvey Weinstein would be the right man for the job of releasing the film. TWC has offered $4 million with the promised of a wide release. Crowe and Weinstein worked together years ago on Master And Commander.
In the film, Crowe plays an Australian man who travels to Turkey to find his three sons, who went missing after the brutal Battle of Gallipoli during WWI. I am told that there is an epic quality to the subject matter in the script by Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastasios, covering a war that absolutely decimated a generation of young Australian men. Anyone who saw Peter Weir’s Gallipoli knows the scale of carnage. I’ve heard The Water Diviner has a Braveheart quality to it.
Warner Bros has slotted the animated 3D action pic Ninjago for September 23, 2016. Building off the Lego Group’s popular ninja-inspired minifigures, Ninjago will mark the directorial debut of Tron: Uprising’s Charlie Bean. The Lego Movie team of Dan Lin, Roy Lee, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are producing. Jill Wilfert, Seth Grahame-Smith, John Powers Middleton, James Packer and Steve Mnuchin are executive producing and Bryan Shukoff and Kevin Chesley penned the screenplay.
In March, Warner Bros set Chris McKay to direct its sequel to The Lego Movie, so the Ninjago pic would be more precisely called a spinoff. And why not: The first film has turned in a worldwide gross of $452.4 million since its February release. McKay was animation co-director on The Lego Movie, which was made under the direction of Lord and Miller. They are producing both pics, with Michelle Morgan & Jared Stern writing a treatment for Lego Movie 2.
In making today’s announcement, Warners domestic distribution president Dan Fellman said: “Following the huge success of The Lego Movie, we are very excited to build on the Lego franchise. We know there are already Ninjago collectors who can’t wait to see their favorite characters on the big screen. This promises to be a terrifically fun and thrilling entry into our Fall 2016 slate, with broad audience appeal.”
EXCLUSIVE: Alec Baldwin is the latest actor to join Warren Beatty‘s untitled Howard Hughes project, portraying the reclusive billionaire’s lawyer Bob Maheu. Beatty has been tapping some of his friends for various roles. Those who have already been reported by Deadline include Martin Sheen, Matthew Broderick, and Beatty’s wife Annette Bening. The two leads are Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures), who plays Hughes’ assistant, and the young assistant’s actress love interest, played by Lily Collins (Mirror, Mirror). The focus of the film is the love story between those two characters. Beatty portrays Hughes.
An interesting note about the real Maheu is that the senior go-to guy for Hughes was widely reported at the time of Hughes’ death to have never actually have seen his boss and received all his instructions on hand-written notes. He was a very interesting man — a spy during WWII, he worked for the CIA and ultimately testified in the Senate about Hughes giving money to Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon. He also sued and won a defamation lawsuit against Hughes in his later years. Baldwin shot his role over two days.
Already Staked in the Warner Bros Slate, RatPac Partners Brett Ratner And James Packer Make First-Look Deal
EXCLUSIVE: Already teamed with Dune’s Steven Mnuchin on a $450 million deal to co-finance the entire slate of Warner Bros films, RatPac Entertainment partners Brett Ratner and James Packer have made a deal with the studio to develop, produce and co-finance films at Warner Bros. They will take space on the Warner lot. Where do you put RatPac on that crowded lot? Where else but the headquarters that once belonged to Francis Albert Sinatra himself.
“The offices Frank Sinatra had are the coolest ones ever,” Ratner told me. “As guys who love movie history, James and I appreciate it. Sinatra was there, Joel Silver had them, and Barbra Streisand, Sidney Poitier, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and Dustin Hoffman had them in the First Artists days. And Steven Spielberg had them too. First thing we’re doing is blowing up a picture of Sinatra, in front of that building.”
You can forgive Ratner for being a bit giddy, but RatPac’s abrupt importance to the film fortunes of Warner Bros is pretty astonishing. He has managed to keep his directing career going (he’s got Dwayne Johnson with the MGM/Paramount pic Hercules), and the first film in the RatPac-Dune slate deal was Gravity, which grossed $716 million worldwide and dropped a big fat windfall on the RatPac Dune venture right out of the gate.
EXCLUSIVE: On the eve of its publication, Harlan Coben‘s new mystery novel Missing You has been acquired in a preemptive screen rights deal by Warner Bros and RatPac Entertainment. The book is published tomorrow by Dutton. For RatPac, Brett Ratner will produce and John Cheng and James Packer will be exec producers.
In Coben’s latest, a New York City Police Department detective named Kat Donovan is exploring a dating website and discovers the profile and photo of the ex-fiance who dumped her 18 years ago. She soon she begins to unravel an intricate catfish scheme led by a brilliant and calculating killer. Coben, whose page-turners get better and better and whose last six novels debuted atop The New York Times Bestseller list, seems poised to finally pop on the big screen. Besides Missing You, his novel Tell No One is being adapted by Argo scribe Chris Terrio for Universal and director Gavin O’Connor; Six Years is at Paramount with Mark Gordon producing and Hugh Jackman attached to star, with Jonathan Stokes adapting. Coben made a deal with Lawrence Kasdan directly to team on the Coben novel Stay Close, until that process slowed when Kasdan got the call to return to draft the new Star Wars movie for J.J. Abrams to direct.
Missing You was brought in Chantal Nong, the first major project for her since being minted VP Production. …
EXCLUSIVE: Martin Sheen has joined the cast of Warren Beatty‘s untitled Howard Hughes project, the script of which is being kept tightly under wraps. Sheen and Beatty are old friends but this is the first time they’ve worked together. Sheen, who will next be seen opposite Rooney Mara in Stephen Daldry’s Trash, been on and off the set for director Beatty, who is also producing and plays Howard Hughes. The story centers Hughes’ assistant (played by Alden Ehrenreich) and his love interest (Lily Collins). The pic, known around town as the untitled Warren Beatty project, also includes Annette Bening and Matthew Broderick.
The project was funded by billionaires Ron Burkle, Steve Bing, Windsor Media’s Terry Semel, Arnon Milchan’s New Regency and James Packer and Brett Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment. It’s a $26.7M negative. Ratner and Beatty are producing with Packer exec producing.
Before tonight’s Academy Awards, catch up on the top stories you missed this week on Deadline:
Oscars Finally Here – Record Voting Turnout According To Academy But What Does It All Mean?
By Pete Hammond – The robocalls and emails apparently did the trick as Academy CEO Dawn Hudson reports the 86th Oscar contest is responsible another significant high mark in the Academy’s efforts to turn out the vote.
OSCARS: Pete Hammond’s Absolute FINAL Predictions In Every Category In One Of The Most Competitive Races Ever
By Pete Hammond – With no real clarity from the usually reliable guild contests and critics awards, the best picture race is one of the most unpredictable in years. Considering the preferential Oscar voting system, it is not probable there will be a winner on the first ballot because it’s unlikely any film in this great year for films will be able to muster more than 50% of the first-place votes required. The second choice on those best picture ballots could end up being the most important.
Warren Beatty’s Untitled Howard Hughes Pic Finally Takes Flight Financed By Billionaire Boys’ Club; Ehrenreich, Collins To Star In Love Story; Bening And Broderick Also In
EXCLUSIVE: It took two decades, but it’s finally getting off the ground thanks to billionaires Ron Burkle and Steve Bing, Windsor Media’s Terry Semel, Arnon Milchan’s New Regency and James Packer’s and Brett Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment. The heavies have come together to finance Warren Beatty’s long-gestating Howard Hughes-based project. The roughly $26.7M production, which Beatty will direct and star in as Hughes, will revolve around Hughes’ assistant (Alden Ehrenreich, Beautiful Creatures) and his love interest (Lily Collins, Mirror, Mirror). New Regency, Beatty and Ratner are producing, with Packer executive producing. Regency will handle foreign through Fox. They’ve already shot a small amount of film on the picture, but it starts rolling in earnest today. Beatty’s wife Annette Bening and Matthew Broderick and other surprises are expected (a la Jack Nicholson, maybe? One can only hope). The focus of the film is the love story of the two younger characters.
EXCLUSIVE: It may have taken him 15 years to get there, but Edward Norton will star in and direct Motherless Brooklyn, his scripted adaptation inspired by the Jonathan Lethem novel. Brett Ratner and James Packer’s RatPac Entertainment have stepped up to fully finance the film for a late 2014 production start in New York. Ratner will join Norton and his Class 5 Films’ cohort William Migliore as producers, and Packer will be executive producer with Class 5’s Stuart Blumberg.
While Lethem’s novel is contemporary, Norton has set the story in New York in 1954, a time of great change in the city. He plays Lionel Essrog, a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette’s syndrome, who tries to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend. Armed only with few clues and an obsessive mind, Lionel slowly unravels closely guarded secrets that have major ramifications. It leads him through Harlem jazz clubs, Brooklyn slums and sets him against thugs and Gotham power brokers to honor his friend and save a woman who might his own salvation.
This will be Norton’s second time behind the camera after he made his debut on Keeping The Faith. He set this up at New Line as the book was published, right after Norton got an Oscar nomination there for his mesmerizing performance in American History X. Norton currently stars in the Wes Anderson-directed The Grand Budapest Hotel, and most recently wrapped the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed comedy Birdman, both for Fox Searchlight. He’s repped by UTA and attorney Robert Offer.
EXCLUSIVE: Fresh from completing the Biblical epic Noah with Russell Crowe, Darren Aronofsky has set his Protozoa Pictures to new three-year first look deals to develop film and TV projects. Aronofsky has made a feature deal with New Regency, which backed his film The Fountain as well as Noah. Aronofsky has set his first ever TV deal with HBO, where Protozoa will develop material for Aronofsky to direct and for the company to produce.
Noah, which New Regency made in partnership with Paramount Pictures, will be released March 28. This marks the second major talent deal made by Arnon Milchan’s financier/production company under Brad Weston, after Brad Pitt last month moved his Plan B producing banner from Paramount and into a 3-year deal with New Regency (which co-financed Plan B’s 12 Years A Slave) and RatPac partners James Packer and Brett Ratner. Noah was Aronofsky’s first film since he helmed the sleeper blockbuster Black Swan. The deal was confirmed for Deadline and Aronofsky issued this statement:
Year-End: Hollywood Film Biz Still Cautious, But Slow Boat To China Speeding Up After Busy & Edifying 2013
While Hollywood continues figuring out how to do business in China, and execs remain cautious, there is a sense that 2013 was a tipping point in the complex relationship between the world’s two box office leaders. As Hollywood’s focus turns to maximizing global grosses, the town is increasingly looking for ways to cozy up to the territory that adds 10 theaters a day to service its 1.3B+ population. And China is also strongly courting Hollywood. In September, Wanda’s Wang Jianlin unveiled ambitious plans to bring the industry closer to the Mainland and emphasized China’s place at the center of the global biz, urging players to cooperate for a piece of the pie. Then, at November’s U.S./China Film Summit in L.A., China Film Co-Production Company’s Zhang Xun offered, “We have a huge market and we want to share it with you.” Here’s a look at some of the key happenings in China in 2013 and a taste of what to look out for in the coming year:
Considering that global movie ticket sales reached precedent levels after a particularly robust holiday period and a mostly sizzling summer, 2013 was one of the most turbulent years I can remember in the executive suites of major studios. Studios were overhauled all over town to better compete in an arena that is more of a global pursuit than ever, with victory belonging to whoever can build and maintain the most franchises.
Purists will decry the fact that Hollywood’s brightest minds are mostly focused on repackaging derivative concepts for maximum global grosses, but evidence of the rewards are right there in the gross charts: Six of the top seven biggest films were sequels that provided the kind of results that keep studio conglomerate parents happy, keep studio chiefs employed, and slate co-financiers coming back for more. Sure, studios will still get involved with awards-season prestige films like The Wolf Of Wall Street, American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave, but often only when someone else pays to make them. This franchise fever pushed costs of blockbusters to ridiculously high levels, and left top execs and producers explaining, and sometimes packing, when some badly misfired. Add that to internal power struggles at places like Universal and Warner Bros, and you needed a scorecard to keep up with the executive changes — which came fast and furious, especially after the brutal summer blockbuster season. Among them:
*Universal fired film chairman Adam Fogelson in a move that surprised him along with everyone else in town but Ron Meyer and Donna Langley, with whom he engaged in a quiet power struggle. Fogelson was blindsided by the result, coming hours after he presided over the Toronto premiere of Rush. The Comcast-orchestrated move that put Jeff Shell in charge of filmed entertainment after he did well running NBCUniversal’s international operations. Meyer was upped to vice chairman of NBCUniversal and Langley as sole Universal Films chairman and picture picker. Even though the studio placed third in market share and Despicable Me 2 could become the studio’s biggest-ever box office hit when it plays in China, Universal also flubbed franchise launch attempts like R.I.P.D. and 47 Ronin, and Kick-Ass 2 proved that once was enough. Universal has sequels to Jurassic Park, The Mummy and Ted coming, and a new salty adult franchise in Fifty Shades Of Grey for 2015. Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures moved in to hatch pictures and co-fi Universal titles like Jurassic World, hedging the studio’s bets as it moves forward. Langley’s biggest challenge has been retooling the studio’s most lucrative franchise, Fast & Furious, which was halfway completed when star Paul Walker died tragically in a fiery car crash. Right after Fogelson was ousted, longtime Focus Features chief James Schamus was dismissed just as suddenly. He was replaced by Peter Schlessel, the whip-smart former Sony dealmaker who’d been running FilmDistrict and who clearly will be charged with broadening the highbrow Focus slate to include more low-risk high-return genre films like the FilmDistrict hit Insidious. Schamus’s co-chairman, Andrew Karpen, declined to relocate and stay on, dramatically changing the complexion of that prestige company.
*The final shoe dropped after Warner Bros gave the top job to Kevin Tsujihara instead of Warner Bros movie chief Jeff Robinov. At a time when Robinov should have been taking victory laps after his bets on filmmakers paid off so well with Ben Affleck’s Argo, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel and Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, Robinov instead left in a frosty exit to form his own moneyed film venture. This, and the equally tempestuous exit of Legendary’s Tull after a lucrative franchise-fueled run, left Robinov’s successors Greg Silverman and Sue Kroll under big pressure to assert themselves to find new franchises. The studio re-upped Village Roadshow Pictures and replaced Legendary with James Packer, Brett Ratner and Steven Mnuchin’s RatPac Dune in a slate co-financing deal that will spread $450 million or more over 75 films. While Warner Bros brass tired of Tull imposing his creative will and cherry-picking Warner Bros titles to co-fi, RatPac Dune will not do that, and I heard the studio was able to exclude certain plum titles from the arrangement. But Warner Bros also gifted RatPac Dune with a co-fi stake in Gravity after it was completed, creating a big windfall for a fledgling venture. It’s ironic given nobody in Hollywood but Robinov seemed to want to make that movie — an expensive auteur effort that has zero sequel potential. One challenge for the new team at Warner Bros: keeping Robinov from peeling away the directors he empowered, from Christopher Nolan to Affleck, Snyder, Luhrmann, The Hangover‘s Todd Phillips and Cuaron to make movies at the new company he and Graham King are expected to launch at Sony. Silverman is respected and Kroll is regarded as arguably the best marketer in town and the studio’s global distribution and marketing operation is as good as there is, but the pressure’s on even though Warner Bros topped other studios in market share. It also has what seems like a strong year with franchise launches in Godzilla and LEGO, another installment of 300 (so what if everybody died in the original?), and a Hobbit finale. Beyond Hobbit, New Line continues to do its part on the franchise front, hatching a Horrible Bosses sequel for 2014 and gearing up another installment of its sleeper 2013 road trip comedy We’re The Millers.
*After two costly summer misfires in After Earth and White House Down, a lackluster Smurfs sequel that fizzled the franchise, and disappointing returns on the Matt Damon-starrer Elysium, Sony Pictures chairman Amy Pascal found herself in the cross-hairs of minority activist shareholder Daniel Loeb. The result: seismic changes in its executive structure and game plan moving forward. The studio dropped marketing head Marc Weinstock, corporate PR chief Steve Elzer and home entertainment chief David Bishop, and then added former New Line president-turned Fifty Shades Of Grey producer Michael De Luca to share president of production duties with Hannah Minghella. The studio vowed heading into its fall investor meetings that it would cut $250 million in costs through 2016, and make fewer movies in 2014 and pour the money into TV. I keep hearing that was temporary window dressing, and after adding former Fox chief Tom Rothman to revive TriStar, which creates another buyer on a lot full of them, Sony will continue to try and create franchises to go along with its Spider-Man and 007 stalwarts. Sony secured a big slate co-fi investment from John LaViolette and Joseph Singer’s Blue Anchor that begins with George Clooney’s The Monuments Men. And then there is the prospect of the venture by Robinov/King which would give Sony huge movies to release and gain market share and bragging rights, without actually having to fund them if they don’t want to. If 22 Jump Street and especially The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hit as well as is hoped, some of that pressure could be alleviated as the studio presses ahead with reboots of past franchise successes Ghostbusters and Men In Black.
Brad Pitt’s Plan B Move Unveiled: Moving To Deal With New Regency And RatPac Partners James Packer And Brett Ratner
EXCLUSIVE: So, what is happening with Paramount and Plan B, the production shingle run by Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner? We can report definitively that the company is moving to a new 3-year pact with New Regency and RatPac partners James Packer and Brett Ratner. This new marriage, which starts when the Plan B deal at Paramount expires at month’s end, comes after New Regency co-financed the Oscar contender 12 Years A Slave, and they are in postproduction on True Story, the film directed by Rupert Goold, with James Franco and Jonah Hill starring. Plan B has five projects percolating at New Regency, Arnon Milchan has a strong relationship with Pitt that goes all the way back to Fight Club, and Weston has a strong relationship with Pitt and Gardner from the New Regency business and when Weston ran production at Paramount. Those projects include Black Hole, The Operators and Big Bucks.
We’re told that this move is not acrimonious and that the relationship is fine between the Brads, as in Brad Pitt and Paramount chief Brad Grey. In fact, they completed their biggest film, World War Z — it was the highest-grossing film in Pitt’s career, though it’s unclear how profitable it was because of the high cost of re-shooting — and they are starting progress on a sequel that Juan Antonio Bayona directing. But the feeling was the Plan B label fit better with New Regency after the collaboration on 12 Years A Slave and so many other projects.
The move happens shortly after Pirates of the Caribbean producer Jerry Bruckheimer took residence at Paramount in a first-look deal he moves to from Disney. He joins Lorenzo di Bonaventura and David Ellison’s Skydance and JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot at the studio. Paramount doesn’t make a ton of movies, and a lot of Plan B’s projects languished. There should be more opportunity to get movies made in this deal, where Regency and RatPac go 50/50 on Plan B-developed projects. New Regency had a distribution deal with Fox. The way it works is, New Regency and RatPac finance future films from Plan B, and RatPac has the opportunity to co-finance the projects that Plan B currently has with New Regency.
New Regency sees this as a coup, a next step for a financier/producer establishing itself with tastemaker fare.
How Sony Pictures Answered Critics Going Into Thursday Investor Meeting With Cuts, Jeff Robinov Courtship, Blue Anchor Co-Fi
Oscar season is in full swing and is dominating attention, but the most important discussions taking place in town are being done with bankers in back rooms as heavyweight producers and co-financiers move around and will dramatically shape the future of studio event film slates for years to come. The players in the drama still to formalize landing places are Jeff Robinov and Graham King, Jerry Bruckheimer, John LaViolette and Joseph M. Singer’s Blue Anchor Entertainment. This after Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures left Warner Bros for Universal, and was replaced by Brett Ratner, James Packer and Steve Mnuchin’s RatPac Dune, which will co-finance the slates of Warner Bros going forward. Two of the next big moves seem to squarely involve Sony Pictures, whose heads Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal head into investor meetings on the Sony lot in Culver City on Thursday with some pending alliances that will greatly reshape their operations.
The above players will be dealing in billions of dollars of production financing. RatPac Dune’s Ratner, Packer and Mnuchin fell into a right-place-at-the-right time windfall just as its Warner Bros deal commenced, and got kissed into Gravity as its first film. That put the venture off to a flying start as the film crossed the $500 million worldwide gross mark. I hear that Tull and Legendary might well get that deal underway in high style by co-financing Universal’s surefire blockbuster Jurassic World, though studio insiders said I’m getting ahead of myself because there is not yet a shooting script to show Legendary. While the RatPac Dune deal covers Warner Bros’ full slate, Tull gets to cherry-pick the films Legendary will co-finance, and the deal calls for a big Universal commitment on films that Legendary generates. This deal was papered by Uni president Jimmy Horowitz and chased aggressively by NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke as well as Donna Langley.
BREAKING: Brett Ratner and James Packer’s RatPac Press entered into a joint venture to publish Ben Mezrich’s Seven Wonders through Running Press Publishers next spring. Deadline told you back in May that Ratner and Packer set the movie rights at Fox, back when the book was a proposal. It was the first deal Ratner and Packer made since forming their company. Written by Mezrich, whose books helped in form the films The Social Network and 21, weaves the Seven Wonders into an adventure tale they all hoped would lead to a book and movie trilogy, with the latter being produced by Beau Flynn and Ratner. Here’s the official release about the book deal:
Olga Kurylenko has been cast opposite Russell Crowe in The Water Diviner, which will be Crowe’s helming debut. The story, which takes place four years after the battle of Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I, centers on Australian farmer Connor (Crowe), who travels to Istanbul to discover the fate of his sons, reported missing in action. He forges a relationship with the beautiful Turkish woman (Kurylenko) who owns the hotel he stays in. Andrew Mason and Troy Lum of Hopscotch Features and Keith Rodger of Crowe’s Fear of God Films are producing the pic, written by Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastassios. Its a RatPac Entertainment film and is executive produced by Brett Ratner and James Packer. Kurylenko, whose recent credits include Oblivion, Terrence Malick’s To The Wonder and Starz’s recently ended mob drama Magic City, just finished filming Vampire Academy and November Man opposite Pierce Brosnan. She will start work on Water Diviner when it begins shooting in Australia on December 2, then move on to Momentum opposite Vincent Cassel and Shea Whigham early next year. Kurylenko is repped by CAA and Tavistock Wood.