First deal out of SXSW today is Lionsgate‘s purchase of the North American rights for Eduardo Sanchez‘s Bigfoot feature Exists. Sanchez co-directed the 1999 microbudget title The Blair Witch Project for $60K, which then-distributor Artisan morphed into a worldwide phenom with close to $250 million at the box office. Below is Lionsgate’s release for the Jamie Nash-scripted Exists:
(Austin, TX & Santa Monica, CA, March 8, 2014) — Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) has acquired North American distribution rights to EXISTS, a new horror film from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT director Eduardo Sánchez. The film played last night to a sold-out midnight screening at SXSW in Austin.
In Bigfoot’s bold return to the big screen, five friends on a camping weekend in the remote woods of East Texas struggle to survive against a legendary predator that is stronger, smarter, and more terrifying than anything they would have ever believed exists.
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One Tree Hill alum Robert Buckley has been set as a series regular in Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero’s CW drama pilot iZombie, from Warner Bros. TV. iZombie is a supernatural crime procedural that centers on a med student-turned-zombie who takes a job in the coroner’s office to gain access to the brains she must reluctantly eat to maintain her humanity, but with each brain she consumes, she inherits the corpse’s memories. Buckley, repped by WME and Interlink Management, will play Major, Liz’s former fiance who is trying to make the transition to friend.
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UPDATED: Chris Conroy has booked a series regular role on ABC’s The Club (fka untitled Susannah Grant) from CBS TV Studios and ABC Studios. The drama, already greenlighted straight to series with a 13-episode order, is an upstairs/downstairs soap set at a private country club. Gersh-repped Conroy will play rich and handsome Forty Holbrooke, who was doing OK until his mother killed herself, leaving him everything. Since then he’s been staggering through life with too much money and too little real support.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
Comedy Central resident roastmaster Jeff Ross and Jayson Blair (The New Normal) has signed on to ABC‘s multi-camera untitled Kevin Hart comedy pilot. Written by Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan based on Hart’s life and stand-up, the project takes a candid look at the post-divorce life of a couple, Derek (Romany Malco) and Lorraine (Bresha Webb) Read More »
The premiere of CNN’s new Chicagoland didn’t get totally whacked last night but it certainly didn’t make a ratings killing either – in fact it came a distant third in terms of total viewership compared to its cable news time slot rivals. The 10 PM debut Thursday of the cable news network’s heavily promoted 8-part documentary series drew 227,000 viewers among adults 25-54 with 629,000 total viewers. That was a drop in total viewership of 7% from the 673,000 that the second hour of CNN’s much less hyped And The Oscar Goes To… documentary pulled in on February 27. That also leaves Chicagoland in third place behind the 1.43 million total viewers who watched Fox News Channel’s Hannity and the 816,000 who tuned into MSNBC’s Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell.
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In terms of the key news demo, Chicagoland was up 58% from the weak 144,000 viewers who watched the Oscars docu in the same time slot last week. Yes, that’s up just over 100% from the limbo low 113,000 viewers among the 25-54s that CNN has averaged on the previous four Thursdays in the time slot. However even with the full marketing efforts of CNN both on and off-air, Chicagoland was not that much ahead of the 207,000 among the 25-54s that MSNBC got last night with The Last Word– a show that was … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Mexican actor-singer-heartthrob Jaime Camil is making his US pilot debut with a co-starring role opposite Gina Rodriguez in the CW‘s drama Jane The Virgin. Based on the successful Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgen, Jane The Virgin centers on Jane (Rodriguez), a hardworking religious girl who, due to a series of outrageous events, is accidentally artificially inseminated. International telenovela star Camil will play the series regular role of Rubio, who happens to be a world-famous telenovela star with a surprising connection to Jane. Camil, who is coming off back-to-back hit Spanish-language series in Mexico and the U.S. with Que Pobres Ran Ricos and Poy Ella Soy Eva, is currently seen on Univision’s new rom-com novela, Qué Pobres Tan Ricos. He made a successful feature debut in the US as the star of bilingual Patelion/Lionsgate hit Pulling Strings, which ranked as the third highest-grossing foreign language film of 2013. Additionally, a recent guest appearance by Camil on Devious Maids delivered strong ratings for the Lifetime series, which also has Latin roots. Jane the Virgin, from CBS Studios, is written by Jennie Snyder Urman and directed by Brad Silberling. Camil is with ROAR, WME and attorney James Mandelbaum.
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures just closed a deal for Grasshopper Jungle, the just-published Dutton YA novel by Andrew Smith. Scott Rosenberg brought in the project and is negotiating to adapt it for producer Matt Tolmach. It’s perhaps best described as Stand By Me meets Attack The Block, a coming-of-age yarn revolving around a teenager in Iowa trying to come to grips with his own sexual feelings as he and his cohorts cause a deadly genetically engineered plague that unleashes an army of 6-foot-tall praying mantises with an insatiable appetite for fighting, food, and fornicating.
Michael De Luca and Elizabeth Cantillon steered the deal for Sony. De Luca just started at the studio but he also brought in the $1 million spec Winter’s Knight last weekend. Rosenberg is best known for scripting such films as Beautiful Girls, Con Air and High Fidelity and who most recently rewrote Heist for Steve Zaillian and Steven Spielberg at DreamWorks for Scott Waugh to direct. Paradigm’s Dana Spector brokered the book deal for Michael Bourret of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. WME reps Rosenberg.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has acquired a pitch inspired by the Ellen Shanman novel Everything Nice that will be written by Karen Croner as a potential star vehicle for Charlize Theron. Theron will produce with her Denver And Delilah Films partners Beth Kono and A.J. Dix. They acquired the material themselves from the author’s Anonymous Content rep Rosalie Swedlin and attached Croner to write before making the Universal deal. Croner scripted Admission, the Tina Fey-Paul Rudd comedy released last year by Universal. This marks the latest in a burgeoning relationship between Theron and Universal. Denver And Delilah is separately developing Agent 13 at Universal, and Theron stars in the upcoming Seth MacFarlane-directed A Million Ways To Die In The West.
The hope is for her to play Michaela, an advertising exec who gets fired and takes on the only job she can get, teaching life skills to teenage girls at a public school. Lacking in the basic social skills herself, she tries her best to school her pupils in what they’ll need to know in order to survive. Theron’s repped by WME, Croner by WME and attorney Alan Wertheimer.
EXCLUSIVE: Idris Elba is in final negotiations to perform the role and provide the voice of the killer tiger Shere Khan in Disney’s live-action take on The Jungle Book. Directed by Jon Favreau, the film is a mix of live action and VFX that is being overseen by Rob Legato, whose VFX credits include Avatar, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Hugo and Titanic, the latter two of which won him Oscars. The studio has bolstered its creative team by setting as its production designers Alex McDowell (Man Of Steel, Rise Of The Guardians) and Chris Glass heading a team of concept artists that includes Michael Kutsche (Alice, Oz, Maleficent), Iain McCaig (Star Wars), and Justin Sweet (Chronicles Of Narnia). The story team is headed by Iron Man‘s David Lowery, who’s working around the clock with seven full-time illustrators, with Legacy Effects participating in creature design and rigging.
Disney is moving very quickly as it is in a race with Warner Bros on versions of Rudyard Kipling’s public domain title. The rival project is still looking for a director after Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu dropped from the project. Read More »
Chris Diamantopoulos is set to co-star opposite Stacey McGunnigle in NBC’s pilot Ellen More Or Less, written/exec produced by JJ Philbin, directed by Peyton Reed and exec produced by Jason Katims and Michelle Lee. The single-camera comedy, from Universal TV and Katims’ True Jack Productions, centers on Ellen (McGunnigle), an average-size woman who, after losing 100 pounds, begins reinventing herself in life and love. Diamantopoulos, repped by Untitled and WME, will play Ellen’s hunky colleague Jerry. He is currently playing the bipolar network head Castor Sotto on Showtime’s Episodes.
Related: 2014 NBC Pilots
EXCLUSIVE: Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen) has chosen his next film. He will direct Southpaw, the drama written by Sons Of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter set in the boxing world. Jake Gyllenhaal is now set to star as a welterweight champion who rises in his profession while his personal life falls apart. The picture, financed by The Weinstein Company, will start before the cameras this summer. Fuqua was looking at a number of projects to helm but decided on Southpaw, and his deal closed last night. Still to cast is the other lead, Titus ‘Tick’ Willis, a former fighter who was forced to retire after losing an eye and was on his way to becoming a pro trainer but retreated after his son was killed. This is a movie that could include some breakthrough performances as the script plays to cultural diversity.
The project is being produced by Fuqua, Alan Riche and Peter Riche. Gyllenhaal is currently in production on Everest alongside Josh Brolin, Emily Watson and newcomer Clive Standen (Vikings) for Emmett/Furla and Universal. He last starred in the critically-acclaimed Prisoners and in Enemy which opens later this month in limited release via A24. The actor also stars in Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler which does not yet have a distributor. Fuqua is repped by CAA, Gyllenhaal is repped by WME.
TWC-Dimension picked up rights to author Ira Levin’s 1973 Broadway thriller Veronica’s Room in December, and now has tapped Mark Bomback to pen the adaptation. The original play from Rosemary’s Baby writer Levin centererd on two students who find themselves invited to a crumbling New England estate for an audience with the last surviving member of the family that once lived there. The purpose of the visit is so that Susan, one of the students, will agree to impersonate Veronica, the long-dead sister of the fading Cissie. And that’s where the line between what’s real and what’s not begins to blur.
Bomback’s credits include Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and Unstoppable, and he did work on the Fifty Shades Of Grey movie. His script Art Of Racing In The Rain is in development at Universal. “Mark coming on board is huge for this project. He shares the same passion for Ira’s play that I do and together we hope to make something very sinister and special,” said Bob Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company. Bomback is repped by WME, Anonymous Content and Attorney David Colden. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: CAA has signed actor Taylor Kitsch. Here’s the guy who – after playing one of the great recent TV characters in fullback Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights and then a small but showy role as Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine – seemed like he was going to be the next big leading man. That was before he suffered a hellacious summer when the two big movies he starred in, John Carter and Battleship, both flopped. But Kitsch has put himself back on the track with a good showing in the Oliver Stone-directed Savages and most recently playing the Medal of Honor-winning Long Island-bred Navy SEAL Michael Murphy in the Peter Berg-directed Lone Survivor. Kitsch was last repped by WME but has been agent-less this year until now. He continues to be managed by Untitled Entertainment, and he next stars in the ensemble of HBO’s adaptation of the Larry Kramer play The Normal Heart, directed by Ryan Murphy.
Former Leverage star Timothy Hutton is set as the male lead in ABC’s drama pilot American Crime. Felicity Huffman is in negotiations for the female lead in the project, written and exec produced by John Ridley, who is fresh off winning an Oscar for 12 Years A Slave. It centers on the racially charged murder of a war veteran and the subsequent trial, which are examined through the personal lives of the players involved. Hutton, repped by Untitled, WME and Jackoway Tyerman, will play Chuck Skokie, a former gambling addict-turned-honest working man whose adult son Matt is the victim.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
Rufus Sewell is set as the male lead in ABC’s Richard LaGravenese drama pilot. In the vein of Dangerous Liaisons, the untitled project is set in New York and revolves around the love and rivalry between two equally matched, powerful socialites — Philip Fitzgerald Julien (Sewell) and Margot Worth Cole — who play out their obsessive attraction and seduction of each other through their manipulation of others. UK-born Sewell, repped by WME, previously headlined CBS’ drama series Eleventh Hour and recently co-starred in HBO’s Parade’s End. He’ll next be seen in Hercules.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Max Botkin to write Prosthesis, the visually-driven science fiction film created by Arvind Palep, who’s attached to direct. Universal acquired the property based on a 10-minute teaser trailer, blending VFX with storyboards and live-action footage hatched by 1stAveMachine, the multimedia production company that Palep co-created with Serge Patzak. Latter will produce with Gotham Group’s Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Eric Robinson, with Gotham’s Peter McHugh exec producing with Sam Penfield. An earlier draft of the screenplay was written by Walking Dead showrunner Scott Gimple.
Botkin wrote the Black List script What Happened To Monday, which is percolating at Vendome with Tommy Wirkola directing and Noomi Rapace attached to star. Verve, EML Entertainment and attorney Larry Kopeikin rep the scribe. Universal’s Anikah McLaren and Chloe Yellin are overseeing. Palep is repped by WME, The Gotham Group and attorney George Davis.
Screen Gems‘ long-in-the-works redo of Gareth Evans’ The Raid: Redemption now has a director: it’s The Expendables 3 helmer Patrick Hughes, who had been rumored for the gig for a while. The script is from Out Of The Furnace writer Brad Ingelsby and original producer XYZ Films is also producing the new one. Evans, who has already done a sequel, The Raid 2: Berandal, that comes out this month via Sony Pictures Classics, is executive producing and the original fight choreographers are involved too. The 2011 Indonesian actioner is centered on an elite DEA team trapped in a tenement run by a notorious drug lord, his assassins and personal army armed with machetes and machine guns. It gets ugly as they fight their way out. The pic was a hit at Toronto and Sony sibling Screen Gems snapped up remake rights soon after. Hughes and Ingelsby are both repped by WME, with Hughes also repped by Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown.
As Secretary of State John Kerry lent support to Ukraine’s fledging government today and took another verbal shot at Russia, NBC News said this afternoon it has added former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael A. McFaul as an analyst. McFaul will contribute across the NBCUniversal News Group — including NBC News, MSNBC, and CNBC — contributing his perspective and expertise to coverage of foreign affairs and national security. McFaul’s post in Russia ended last week. He already appeared Monday night on NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams and this morning on Today and MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss the situation unfolding in Ukraine. Read More »
TBS has finalized a deal for a pilot order to an ensemble multi-camera workplace comedy from Will & Grace creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. This would mark the duo’s first cable pilot. The untitled project (formerly known as Clipsters) is about a group of kids from high school, who ran in different circles but now all work together at a local Charlestown, MA. barbershop called Buzzy’s. Their dreams may lie across the Charles River in Boston, but for now, their work, their lives, their loves and their worries remain in the town they grew up in. The project was set up at TBS a year ago, stemming from an exploratory meeting Kohan and Mutchnick took with the network’s programming chief Michael Wright. Kohan and Mutchnick’s KoMut Entertainment and Warner Horizon are producing.
Related: 2014 TBS Pilots
At TBS, the Kohan/Mutchnick project joins a busy pilot slate that include four other comedy pilots: single-camera Tribeca and multi-camera Living The Dream, Do It Yourself and Your Family Or Mine. Kohan and Mutchnick also have an Upstairs/Downstairs dark comedy in development at Showtime. Mutchnick has been repped by WME since last year, but the TBS pilot (as well as the Showtime project) was packaged by the duo’s longtime agent Scott Schwartz at Vision Art, who continues to rep Kohan.