Cannes: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard Introduce Imagine 2.0; A Pele Pic On The Croisette, A Crowd-Funded ‘Friday Night Lights’, ‘Dark Tower’, Jay-Z And One Angry White Whale

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE:When Imagine Entertainment partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard re-upped in their 26th year at Universal in early 2012, like all studio term producers they watched the deal get smaller. They also went from exclusive to first look and while that might have humbled less energetic founders who’d made 50 films for the same studio, Grazer and Howard took it as license to tap into new avenues of distribution and funding to be more productive than ever.

Consider that while Howard tinkers with the finished Formula One drama Rush and casts the Warner Bros adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick novel In The Heart Of The Sea with Chris Hemsworth, Grazer is on the Croisette, beating the drum for a Pele biopic to be directed by The Two Escobars helmer Jeff Zimbalist and his brother Michael. Grazer and production president Kim Roth called the film a close cousin to the search for genius depicted in 8 Mile, only here it’s a dirt-poor kid’s journey from being part of the Shoeless Wonders (a band of soccer wunderkinds too poor to afford shoes) to a phenom who at 17 led Brazil to the World Cup. Grazer and his partners will have the film ready by the time the world is whipped into a frenzy for World Cup action next year.

* While they’ve temporarily halted the move to turn Jack Bauer loose in a 24 feature, they’ve instead decided to bring him back in a limited series, this after selling an Arrested Development revival directly to Netflix. Grazer tells me they are absolutely moving forward with a movie version of another Imagine series, Friday Night Lights, and they will likely use crowdfunding to directly tap the rabid fan base of that drama for some of the budget. “We made a terrific feature with Pete Berg, turned it into a terrific TV series and will now make a movie from that series,” Grazer said. “I’m not sure such a thing has been done before.” Read More »

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‘Ted’ Backer MRC In Talks To Finance Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Media Rights Capital is in serious talks to take on The Dark Tower after Warner Bros declined to make what potentially amounts to three feature films and two limited run TV series. MRC’s Modi Wiczyk is a big fan of the Stephen King novel series, I hear, and the company is eager to capitalize on the positive momentum they got from developing and financing the Seth MacFarlane-directed summer sleeper hit Ted with Mark Wahlberg. MRC next has the Neill Blomkamp-directed Elysium with Matt Damon, and the company has the capital to back an ambitious project like The Dark Tower with director Ron Howard eyeing Russell Crowe as the gunslinger Roland Deschain and his quest to travel through a Western-style world woven with magic to find the Dark Tower, mankind’s only hope. Akiva Goldsman adapted the book and is producing along with Brian Grazer and Stephen King. Even though MRC was unavailable to comment, I expect this deal to make quickly. MRC has a distribution arrangement with Universal, but it’s unclear whether that studio would release the film. Universal developed it but passed on making the project before it moved to Warner Bros.

EARLIER, 5:02 PM: Warner Bros took the easy out and has passed on The Dark Tower, the ambitious multi-platform adaptation of Stephen King’s novel series. After getting an overhauled script from Oscar winning scribe Akiva Goldsman, the studio just balked on the project that Ron Howard … Read More »

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