Tribeca Film has acquired North American rights to Scottish director David Mackenzie’s prison drama Starred Up, which stars Jack O’Connell who is making his name quickly known after also landing the lead role as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken. O’Connell stars in this one with Ben Mendelsohn and Homeland‘s Rupert Friend, and a 2014 U.S. theatrical release is planned for the pic, which played Telluride and Toronto this fall festival season. O’Connell stars as ultra-violent 19-year-old Eric, who is prematurely transferred to the same adult prison facility as his estranged father (Mendelsohn). Eric is approached by a volunteer psychotherapist (Friend) who runs an anger management group for prisoners. Torn between gang politics, prison corruption, and a glimmer of something better, Eric finds himself in a fight for his life. Independent, who worked with Mackenzie on his Berlin Silver Bear winner Hallam Foe, is repping international sales at AFM. The deal was negotiated for Tribeca Film by Alison Diviney, Acquisitions Manager, and Independent’s Abigail Walsh on behalf of the filmmakers. Fox Searchlight will release the film in the UK in spring 2014.
Michael Chernus Joins Cameron Crowe Pic; Jolie’s ‘Unbroken’ Casts Young Zamperini; Rich Graff Joins ‘My Dead Boyfriend’
Captain Phillips‘ Michael Chernus is the latest addition to Sony‘s untitled Cameron Crowe film. Bradley Cooper and Rachel McAdams star with Emma Stone, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin and Bill Murray filling out the cast. Scott Rudin is producing the pic with a logline that’s still under wraps. Chernus is also currently recurring on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. He’s repped by UTA and Jill Kaplan.
Angelina Jolie‘s Unbroken has added newcomer CJ Valleroy to its cast. He’ll play “Young Louie,” AKA the young Louis Zamperini aged 12, in Universal’s real life tale of the Olympian turned WWII prisoner of war. Jack O’Connell has been cast as the older Zamperini. Jai Courtney, Miyavi, John Magaro, Garrett Hedlund, and Domhnall Gleeson also star. Valleroy is repped by Lane Management Group and Coast to Coast Talent Agency.
Rich Graff has landed a role in indie My Dead Boyfriend, the directorial debut of Anthony Edwards. Heather Graham stars as a woman who discovers who her couch potato boyfriend really was after she finds him dead at home. Graff plays the expired boyfriend who was also the drummer in her band. John Corbett also stars in the pic which is currently filming in NYC. …
EXCLUSIVE: Jai Courtney is in high demand with Oscar-winning actors-turned-directors; he has signed to co-star in the films directed by Angelina Jolie and Russell Crowe. He’ll start with Unbroken, the film Jolie is directing for Universal based on the unbreakable spirit of Louis Zamperini, the former Olympic track prodigy who endured unimaginable hardship as a WWII POW at the hands of Japanese prison guards. Courtney will play Hugh ‘Cup’ Cuppernell, a WWII veteran pilot who gets caught in tenacious midair gunfight alongside Zamperini, who’s played by Jack O’Connell.
Courtney will then move to The Water Diviner, Crowe’s feature directorial debut about an Australian man who travels to Turkey to attempt to locate the bodies of his three sons, who were killed there during WWI. Courtney portrays Lt-Col Cecil Hilton, the smart, efficient soldier tasked with organizing the effort to identify the tens of thousands of soldiers killed at Gallipoli. He reluctantly allows Connors to stay and look for his sons’ bodies. Crowe and Olga Kurylenko are also starring.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and director Angelina Jolie have found their villain for the Lou Zamperini tale Unbroken. Jolie has set Japanese guitarist and singer Miyavi to play the role of Mutsushiro Watanabe, known as “The Bird.” That is the guard who made it his mission to break the spirit of Zamperini, and who haunted the athlete-turned-POW’s every step after he was captured in WWII. I’m told by individuals close to the project that it was no easy task to cast this role. After a long search for the perfect actor, the filmmakers continually found themselves returning to Miyavi’s captivating audition, one that mixed grace, ferocity, sensitivity and sophistication. That audition got Miyavi his first lead role in a Hollywood film. Jolie begins production in Australia in two weeks, and Universal releases the film December 25, 2014.
Miyavi might be a new face onscreen, but he is well known in international music circles for his unconventional guitar and singing skills and music that incorporates period-authentic guitars and playing styles from the 1940s. Now he’s going back to that volatile wartime era in Unbroken. Miyavi will have to reschedule part of an upcoming Asia tour to perform the role.
“As a musician, I questioned whether I should take a break from my craft to pursue this role,” Miyavi said in a statement. “After meeting Angie, it became clear to me that an underlying theme to this story is forgiveness. This resonated with me because that is exactly what I want express through my music. I look forward to taking on this challenge whole-heartedly.”
I must say, I have been fixated on The Bird since I first saw a wonderful short segment broadcast during the Nagano Olympics, where Zamperini returned to Japan in 1998. After running so compellingly in the final lap of his distance race in the 1936 Munich Olympics that Hitler asked to shake his hand, Zamperini was expected to bring home the gold with four more years of seasoning. The 1940 Olympics were scheduled to be held in Japan but all that fell apart in war. Zamperini instead arrived as a bombardier fighting in WWII. Sent on a rescue mission aboard a faulty aircraft, Zamperini and two other crewmen were the only survivors of a crash in the Pacific Ocean. After surviving in a raft for 47 days, the near-dead men were caught by the Japanese navy. And so began a POW ordeal that would have broken most men. In that CBS segment, Zamperini found the grace to forgive his captor, and offered to do it in person. The Bird was interviewed on camera, but he refused to meet with the hero he tormented for so many years.
Kristin Chenoweth & Katrina Bowden Join ‘Hard Sell’, Angelina Jolie’s ‘Unbroken’ In Talks With Jordan Patrick Smith
EXCLUSIVE: 30 Rock’s Katrina Bowden is going from spoiled girl to bad girl. The actress will play Bo, a tough-as-nails but directionless stripper, in the teen pic Hard Sell. Kristin Chenoweth will join her in the Long Island-based indie playing Lorna Buchanan, the mother of science geek Hardy (The Three Stooges‘ Skyler Gisondo). Necessary Roughness’ Hannah Marks plays Hardy’s love interest Lake. Sean Nalaboff is directing the pic, which just began production. Bowden is repped by UTA and Management 360, Chenoweth by CAA and Untitled Entertainment.
The Angelina Jolie-directed Unbroken tells the true story of U.S. Olympian-turned-WWII prisoner of war Louis Zamperini. Universal today released the first photo of Jolie alongside Zamperini, played by Jack O’Connell in this big-time project adapted from Lauren Hillenbrand’s nonfiction bestseller. Universal optioned the rights to the book in 2010. It’s set for a Christmas 2014 release.
EXCLUSIVE: John Magaro (Not Fade Away) has been cast in Unbroken, the true story of U.S. Olympian-turned-WWII prisoner of war Louis Zamperini which Angelina Jolie is helming for Universal. Magaro will play Frank A. Tinker, an Air Force dive bomb pilot and opera singer who befriends Zamperini en route to a Japanese POW camp. Jack O’Connell won the role of Zamperini and leads a cast that includes Garrett Hedlund and Domhnall Gleeson. The script, adapted from Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand’s nonfiction bestseller, is by William Nicholson and Richard LaGravenese with a rewrite by Joel and Ethan Coen. Filming begins mid-October under DP Roger Deakins ahead of an already-set Christmas 2014 release. Magaro is repped by Abrams Artists and Authentic Talent and Literary Management.
Garrett Hedlund has joined lead Jack O’Connell in Unbroken, the true story of Olympian-turned-POW Louis Zamperini that Angelina Jolie is directing for Universal. The Inside Llewyn Davis actor will play Fitzgerald in the film based on based on the best-selling Laura Hillenbrand novel. His character is the head of the camp where O’Connell’s Zamperini is being held. Unbroken begins shooting in Australia in next month and Universal has set a Christmas Day 2014 release date. Joel and Ethan Coen have rewritten the screenplay from earlier drafts by William Nicholson and Richard LaGravenese. Variety first reported the casting. Hedlund is represented by WME and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Domhnall Gleeson will star opposite lead Jack O’Connell in Unbroken, the incredibly true story of Olympian-turned-POW Louis Zamperini that Angelina Jolie is directing for Universal. The film, based on the best-selling Laura Hillenbrand novel, begins shooting in Australia in October. Universal has set a Christmas Day 2014 release date. UK-born O’Connell nabbed the starring role last month and will play the young Zamperini from the time he was a wunderkind member of the USA track team that competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics to his survival of a harrowing plane crash in the Pacific Ocean during WWII through 47 days adrift in a life raft to becoming a POW in a Japanese prison camp. Irishman Gleeson will Phil, who was also on the raft. His deal closed after a long slog trying to work out scheduling issues, but now it’s been set, making him the second actor to board the project. Gleeson, repped by Paradigm and Ireland-based The Agency, is next up in Richard Curtis’ comedy About Time opposite Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy, which Universal releases November 1. He also is just wrapping Universal’s Scott Rudin-produced Ex Machina, which Alex Garland is directing, and also just starred opposite Michael Fassbender the indie Irish pic Frank. UPDATE: Reps have also confirmed that Finn Wittrock is in talks to join the pic. In addition to extensive theater work Wittrock has parts …
Jack O’Connell was one of three young actors who had recently tested for the role of the young Louis Zamperini in Unbroken, the Angelina Jolie-directed biopic that Universal has just dated for Christmas 2014. O’Connell has won the part and will play Zamperini from the time he was a wunderkind member of the USA track team that competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics to his survival of a harrowing plane crash in the Pacific Ocean during WWII through 47 days adrift in a life raft to becoming a POW in a Japanese prison camp. The film is based on the New York Times bestseller Unbroken: A World War II Story Of Survival, Resilience, And Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand, and production is set to start in September. O’Connell is starring in the sequel 300: Rise Of An Empire that is due out next March, and his credits include This Is England, Eden Lake, Harry Brown and TV’s Skins. He is repped by CAA in the U.S. and Conway van Gelder Grant in the UK.
Related: Angelina Jolie To Direct ‘Unbroken’
Universal has set a Christmas Day 2014 release for Unbroken, the film that tells the incredible story of Olympian and war hero Lou Zamperini based on Lauren Hillenbrand’s best-selling book. This will be Angelina Jolie‘s second turn as director following In The Land Of Blood And Honey. Unbroken is set to begin production in late September. “I’ve had the privilege of spending a great deal of time with Louie Zamperini, who is a hero of mine, and now—I am proud to say—a dear friend,” said Jolie in a statement. “I am deeply honored to be telling his extraordinary story, and I will do my absolute best to give him the film he deserves”. Deadline’s Mike Fleming broke the story last December that Jolie had been tapped to direct the pic, something she had campaigned hard for against several other directors.
Originally published by Random House in 2010, the book follows the incredible life story of Olympian and war hero Zamperini who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII—only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. The project has a long history with Universal, which first acquired the rights to tell the life story of Zamperini in 1957 and optioned the rights to Hillenbrand’s book in December 2010. Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country For Old Men) rewrote the screenplay from earlier drafts by William Nicholson (Les Misérables) and Richard LaGravenese (HBO’s Behind The Candelabra). Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff are producing and Mick Garris and David Crockett serve as executive producers. The full press release follows after the jump.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures, Walden Media and director Angelina Jolie are getting closer to the start line on Unbroken, the incredible story of Louis Zamperini based on Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling book. I’m hearing that three young actors — Alexander Dreymon (Blood Ransom), 300: Rise Of An Empire co-star Jack O’Connell and Chronicle and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 star Dane DeHaan — are screen-testing to play Zamperini as a young man. I don’t know that Jolie won’t widen her short list — she has met with reams of young actors already to get to this point — but I do believe this has the potential to be a career-making job. The actor will play Zamperini from the time he was a wunderkind member of the American track team that competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, to his survival of a harrowing plane crash on the water, to becoming a POW in a Japanese prison camp during WWII. Zamperini, who has shown an iron will in dealing with adversity, turned 96 in January and the emergence of this short list is good news because it means he hopefully will get to see the film. It is one that Universal first developed in 1956 when it was to star Tony Curtis, right after Spartacus. Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff are producing and Mick Garris is exec producer.
Jolie signed on last December to make this her second film as director after In The Land Of Blood And Honey. She had campaigned hard for the job against other directors who sparked to Hillenbrand’s book. I spoke to her at the time and she was completely dialed into the story and how she wanted to tell it. Since then, Joel and Ethan Coen rewrote a script that had been penned by Gladiator and Les Miserables co-writer William Nicholson, who rewrote an earlier draft by Richard LaGravanese, The book has now been on The New York Times Bestseller List for two and a half years, which is the fifth-longest a book has stayed there.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and Walden Media are in final negotiations with Angelina Jolie to direct Unbroken, the unbelievable story of Olympian-turned-WWII POW Louis Zamperini. The project, which Universal has developed for going on 55 years, is closer than ever to becoming a reality. Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff are producing and Mick Garris is exec producer.
For Jolie, this will mark her second film as director after she made her debut on In The Land Of Blood And Honey. This will be her first directing outing on a major studio film. It’s easy to imagine that the world’s biggest female star gets whatever she wants, but I’m told that she campaigned hard for the film against a number of other directors. Universal execs were very impressed with her sophisticated treatment of difficult subject matter. Her detailed take on Zamperini won her this job.
“In her life and in her work, Angelina has embraced stories and causes involving great struggle and triumph over tremendous odds and the basic human condition,” Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley said in a statement. “She has a real ability to illustrate the strength in human spirit which will be essential in telling Lou’s story of survival and great heroism.”
The film has a new script draft by Gladiator and Les Miserables co-writer William Nicholson, who rewrote an earlier draft by Richard LaGravanese. The script is based on Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption, the book by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand which has been on The New York Times bestseller list for over 108 straight weeks.
EXCLUSIVE: After more than 54 years of trying, Universal Pictures is getting closer and closer to telling the unbelievable story of Olympian-turned-WWII POW Louis Zamperini in a feature film. Walden Media has just signed on to co-finance with Universal Pictures the screen adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s bestseller Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption. The Water for Elephants team of screenwriter Richard LaGravenese and director Francis Lawrence are prepping the story about the unbreakable spirit of Zamperini, the former Olympic track prodigy who endured unimaginable hardship as a WWII POW at the hands of Japanese prison guards. Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff are producing; Lawrence and Mick Garris are exec producers.
Universal bought Zamperini’s rights back in the 1950s, when Tony Curtis planned to play him right after he completed Spartacus. Zamperini, still kicking at age 93, has waited all this time to see his story turned into a feature film. Baer has been pushing the ball up the hill for more than a decade, but it turned out that the best thing to happen to the project was Hillenbrand’s book, which has drawn a fresh audience to Zamperini’s story of perseverence. Universal previously turned Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit into the Gary Ross-directed hit. In book form, Unbroken blew past Seabiscuit‘s sales figures in its first four weeks, and has been at or near the top of The New York Times bestseller list since its publication six months ago.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Richard LaGravenese to adapt Laura Hillenbrand’s bestseller Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Francis Lawrence is attached to direct the film about the unbreakable spirit of Louis Zamperini, the former Olympic track prodigy who endured unimaginable hardship as a WWII POW at the hands of Japanese prison guards.
LaGravenese will be working for the second straight time with Lawrence on a book adaptation. The scribe adapted the Sara Gruen novel Water For Elephants into the drama that Lawrence directed for Fox 2000 with Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz starring. Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff are producing Unbroken. Lawrence and Mick Garris are exec producers.
The studio acquired Unbroken after previously turning Hillenbrand’s book Seabiscuit into the Gary Ross-directed hit. Unbroken, which has been at or near the top of The New York Times bestseller list for 18 weeks, outsold Seabiscuit in its first four weeks. It also gave momentum to a movie about Zamperini, something Universal first tried to make in 1957, when the studio optioned his rights for a movie that was going to star Tony Curtis.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has acquired screen rights to Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling new book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The studio is in talks with Francis Lawrence to direct, and wants Crazy Heart helmer Scott Cooper to write the script. Lawrence, best known for helming I Am Legend, just completed Water for Elephants for Fox 2000, with Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz starring.
The studio that rode Hillenbrand’s book Seabiscuit into the winner’s circle as a film now hopes she’ll work the same magic on the story of the unbreakable spirit of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic track prodigy who endured unimaginable hardship as a WWII POW. The deal, worth 7-figures if the movie gets made, gives an important second wind to a project that Universal has been trying to make for more than 50 years. Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff will produce. Filmmaker (and Zamperini’s son-in-law) Mick Garris is exec producer.
Hillenbrand’s Random House book, currently number 2 on The New York Times bestseller list, fleshes out Zamperini’s survival story in remarkable detail. As a youth, Zamperini transformed from a Depression Era troublemaker into the “Torrance tornado,” a world class runner who became the youngest American to compete on the U.S. team. He ran in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and though he didn’t medal, Zamperini ran a final lap so fast that Adolf …
Captain Phillips newcomer and Oscar-buzzed Barkhad Abdi, who plays the lead Somalian pirate in the film, told me he thought the Governors Awards meant prizes actually handed out by the Governor and he seemed a bit overwhelmed by the whole occasion. Of course these honorary awards bestowed on Saturday night at the Hollywood & Highland Grand Ballroom are not presented by Jerry Brown, but rather voted on by the Board of Governors of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. And in addition to the formal duty of putting a shiny new Oscar statuette in the hands of Jean Hersholt Humanitarian winner Angelina Jolie, Steve Martin, Angela Lansbury and Claudia Cardinale (standing in for absent Costume Designer Piero Tosi who couldn’t make the trip from Italy), this signature awards season event now in its fifth year also has become the official “must schmooze” event of the entire six month awards corridor, a place where Oscar nominee hopefuls can jump from table to table full of Academy members. As presenter Martin Short put it, “the Governors Awards are the highest honor an actor can receive in mid-November.” And there can be no question the timing of the event is extremely important for those out on the campaign trail.
But ultimately this event is about honoring those the Academy feels are worthy of career recognition, generally a lifetime achievement award. Cheryl Boone Isaacs, new president of the Academy, welcomed each of the honorees and noted the importance of the honor. “Congratulations to all of you. Your work on screen and off captivates and invigorates society. You challenge us to see each other and the world in different ways. We are all richer for your brilliance,” she said before breaking for dinner.
Once the 90-minute show began, Jolie’s In The Land Of Blood And Honey cast, actress Gena Rowlands, and George Lucas presented Jolie, the youngest winner of the Hersholt award, with her Oscar. A detailed film package clearly explained why this tireless global humanitarian is getting the award but she seemed overcome by it, saluting her late mother for the inspiration (father Jon Voight was in the audience).
EXCLUSIVE: Franklin Leonard’s Black List has become a buzzy barometer for promising screenplays, but here’s a genre-centric version of the script service suited for the spooky season. The Blood List names the 13 best unproduced horror, thriller, and sci-fi scripts of the October-to-October calendar year as voted on by more than 100 film execs. This year’s #1 pick: Ink and Bone, Zak Olkewicz’s horror spec about a writer held hostage by his own creations that Dimension snapped up earlier this year. Independent manager/producer Kailey Marsh runs the annual Blood List, which has no affiliation with the more mainstream-leaning Black List but in its fifth year is turning out more and more high-profile alums. 2012 Blood List topper The Disciple Program landed at Universal with Mark Wahlberg attached to star for Morten Tyldum, while Barbara Curry’s 2011 selection The Boy Next Door is in production under the Blumhouse banner with Jennifer Lopez starring.
The 2013 edition was voted on by 108 feature execs, each of whom chose their top three favorite genre screenplays. Seventy-seven of them earned votes, with screenplays requiring a minimum of four votes in order to make the final cut. The 2013 class is announced, as it has been for four years, on Halloween:
Catch up with the best of Deadline’s Top Film stories from this week:
SHOCKER! Charlie Hunnam Exits Christian Grey Role In ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’
By Mike Fleming Jr. – Well, here’s a surprise. Universal is going to have to look harder to find its S&M minded zillionaire Christian Grey because Sons Of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam has exited the role he only just got.
Angelina Jolie Sets Japanese Singer Miyavi As Brutal WWII POW Camp Guard ‘The Bird’ In ‘Unbroken’
By Mike Fleming Jr. - EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and director Angelina Jolie have found their villain for the Lou Zamperini tale Unbroken.
Universal Pays 7-Figure Deal For Aaron Berg ‘Section 6′ Spec
By Mike Fleming Jr. – EXCLUSIVE: It’s not only an exceptional deal for a new writer; I’m hard pressed to come up with the last clean seven-figure deal for a script with no attachments. Four studios bid on the project…