Babylon 5 creator J Michael Straczynski and digital company Graphic India have joined with Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes‘ Chernin Entertainment to turn Straczynski’s upcoming graphic novel Titans into a feature. Straczynski, whose credits include Thor, World War Z and Sense8, will write the script through his JMS banner. The logline: When ships from an unknown world crash-land around the world, the Titans on board — massive entities with no memory of where they came from or where they were going — bond telepathically with the ordinary humans who encounter them. The story follows the Titans and their humans over a decade as the world tries to use them for their own purposes. Some want military superiority, others peace; some want to build cities, others to destroy them. The result is great hope and terrible wars. Chernin Entertainment will produce with Graphic India, the joint venture that Chernin formed with Liquid Comics and CA Media LP, Chernin’s Asian investment arm. Straczynski, Sharad Devarajan and Gotham Chopra of Graphic India and Liquid Comics will also serve producing roles.
Said Straczynski: “In an increasingly international marketplace, Titans represents the kind of multinational storytelling that will play an ever more important role in both film and publishing. Sharad Devarajan and Gotham Chopra have been extremely supportive of this story, and Peter Chernin is exactly the right person to shepherd this into a successful film franchise.”
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros hosts its Comic-Con panel tomorrow morning where Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is expected to be front and center, but here’s a morsel to nibble on today. I’m hearing that after he absolutely crushed the script on that film, Oscar-winning Argo scribe Chris Terrio is being courted by the studio to come aboard and script its Justice League movie. That superhero mash-up will be DC Comics‘ answer to Marvel’s Avengers juggernaut. Not that well known prior to Argo, Terrio has fast become an A-list scribe, and a favorite of writer-directors. He’s got Bunker Hill with Ben Affleck, and The Foreigner, among several big pics. Terrio’s repped by WME.
Related: Zack Snyder Locked For ‘Justice League’
Affleck’s going to star as Batman in the Zack Snyder-directed Justice League and Henry Cavill will reprise Superman, while Gal Gadot will play Wonder Woman and Game Of Thrones alum Jason Momoa is on the docket to play Aquaman. Might be the highest-priority film at Warner Bros for new film division managers Greg Silverman and Sue Kroll.
Related: Comic-Con: Ben Affleck As Batman Shows Up … Sort Of
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures is setting Edgar Wright to direct Grasshopper Jungle, the acclaimed Andrew Smith Dutton YA novel that is being adapted by Beautiful Girls scribe Scott Rosenberg. Rosenberg is producing with Amazing Spider-Man‘s Matt Tolmach and they will be joined by Nira Park, who is at the center of all Wright’s films. Wright, you’ll remember, recently squashed his participation in Ant-Man, the Marvel Studios film that has Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas still starring, because he and Marvel clashed over visions for the wannabe franchise. Wright is staying in insect mode, but moved onto a project that suits his sci-fi sensibility and teams him with Rosenberg, as distinctive a dialogue writer as Wright is a visual director of popcorn films.
Wright’s importance here at Comic-Con wasn’t lost on me yesterday as I walked among the throng and noticed that right between the two men holding the bright yellow signs reminding us we should repent and are going to hell, a guy held an equally bold sign on a wooden stake that read “Edgar Wright Was Right.” Whether that was for him sticking to his guns on his version of Ant-Man or something else, the filmmaker is beloved here. I’ve seen him speak in years past at Marvel panels as the difficult visual effects that will shrink Ant-Man were being harnessed, and last year he was here vamping The World’s End, the alien-attacks-pub-crawlers film that was the third in the Cornetto Trilogy he made with Nick Frost and Simon Pegg.
Grasshopper Jungle, which is best described as Stand By Me meets Attack The Block, seems right in Wright’s wheelhouse. It’s a coming-of-age story that focuses on an Iowa teen trying to come to grips with his own raging hormones and sexual feelings as he and his cohorts cause a deadly genetically engineered plague that unleashes an army of 6-foot-tall praying mantises. Those bugs live the life these guys wish for, acting on an insatiable appetite for fighting, food, and fornicating. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Don’t expect Patrick Wilson, Matt Gerald and Kevin Weisman to be at tomorrow’s Marvel Studios Hall H presentation at Comic-Con. That trio has dropped out of the ever-morphing Ant-Man movie that has Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas and The Hobbit‘s Evangeline Lilly starring. The movie has been in some state of flux after director Edgar Wright dropped out over differences in creative vision with Marvel’s Kevin Feige, so not surprisingly there is speculation that the trio’s exit is for the same reason that Wright departed and was replaced by Peyton Reed. Marvel insiders adamantly dispute that.
Related: Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari In Negotiations For ‘Ant-Man’ Rewrite
We’re told by insiders that Gerald and Weisman’s characters were omitted in the newly evolved version of the script. Wilson, on the other hand, had a scheduling conflict as production on the movie got delayed, and that is why he won’t be there. Lilly is at Comic-Con to tour a children’s book and Peter Jackson’s final Hobbit installment, The Battle Of The Five Armies. We wouldn’t be surprised to see her at the Marvel panel along with Rudd, Douglas and Reed. Feige always pulls out the stops on Comic-Con, so we expect star-studded updates on Avengers: Age Of Ultron and some vamping on the imminent release Guardians Of The Galaxy. Feige is always good for a few … Read More »
Screen Gems today trotted out a Comic-Con god in Sam Raimi, who dealt the kind of catnip that fanboys love. Raimi was there with Neil Druckmann, creator of the Naughty Dog game The Last Of Us, to talk about how that PlayStation 3 survival horror action game is being turned into a feature with Raimi producing and Druckmann now writing the screenplay. Screen Gems President Clint Culpepper, whose previous big vidgame-to-movie transfer was Resident Evil, basically has given over big creative controls to Druckmann in the movie transfer. That includes casting, and choice of director.
At this point, Hugh Jackman and Josh Brolin have been the consensus fan favorites to play the role of Joel, and the choice most heavily favored to play Ellie is Maisie Williams, the Game Of Thrones star who’s so sparked about this prospect that she would have shown up for today’s panel were she not waylaid by being part of an Entertainment Weekly cover shoot for GOT.
Said Raimi: “It’s gonna be a great character journey, a great love story, and great horror fiction.” Raimi took a moment to tease the prospect of more Evil Dead: “I always loved working on that series with Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert, and my brother and I are writing the Evil Dead TV show right now … with Bruce Campbell.” They even toyed with the idea of having Campbell … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In a whopping deal, Tom Rothman’s TriStar Pictures has won the right to finance and release the $30 million budget Money Monster, a Jodie Foster-directed thriller that will star George Clooney as a Jim Cramer-like TV stock tout who is held hostage on air by a man who followed the huckster’s advice, lost his money and put his young family in precarious straits. Jamie Linden wrote the script. The thriller takes on a Network-like sensibility in that the hostage-taker warns he’ll execute the smooth-talking stock tipper the moment cameras are turned off, and the nation becomes obsessed with the drama that unfolds on their TV screens. The film begins production in the spring after Clooney completes the Coen brothers-directed Hail Caesar.
The film was packaged independently and is being produced by The Allegiance Theater’s Daniel Dubiecki, Lara Alameddine and Smokehouse’s Clooney and Grant Heslov. Drafts of the script were also done by Jim Kouf and Alan DiFiore. The huge deal was spearheaded by CAA, which reps Smokehouse and Dubiecki, and UTA on behalf of Foster. Linden is repped by Paradigm.
This becomes the latest example of a major Hollywood studio being aggressive on a fully percolated movie with star elements that is instantly ready to be added to a release slate. The budget doesn’t really seem that high, considering the star power of Foster and Clooney, and their upside will come in the film’s success from the back-end. It is also another high-profile project for Rothman’s TriStar. Much is being written about Sony Pictures, but as usual its long-term success will be determined by its picture pickers. Read More »
Marvel Studios‘ next potential franchise has a director and a writer, and now it the Doctor himself might be in. Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix is in talks to star in Doctor Strange. Those negotiations should put to an end all those Benedict Cumberbatch rumors blowing through the halls here at Comic-Con. The Wrap got this first one first. Marvel has been culling through a list of aspirants that included Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy and Jared Leto. The studio has been teasing references to the Doctor, most recently he got a shout out in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Scott Derrickson is directing and Jon Spaihts is writing the script for the pic (the first draft was penned by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer). Doctor Strange was hatched by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko during that Marvel Comics heyday of the early 1960s. He’s a neurosurgeon who becomes Sorcerer Supreme, protecting Earth against magical and mystical threats with powers of sorcery, mysticism, and martial arts. Marvel’s Kevin Feige is producing.
Phoenix had more than a few people calling doctor strange when he played a quirkier version of himself in that wannabe rapper docu I’m Still Here. But when you see his work in films from The Master to Her, it’s hard to find many leading men who do it better and commit to character the way he does. He’ll be back on the awards circuit most likely in the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed … Read More »
Here’s some food for thought for Comic-Con: Paul Rudnick, the fine playwright and screenwriter of such films as Jeffrey, Addams Family Values and The Stepford Wives, has made a Facebook post on how ever-evolving movie superheroes can really change the spandex game. Under the heading Supergay, he writes:
“Marvel has announced that in an upcoming edition, Thor will be a woman, and that the new Captain America will be black. And while there have been gay superheroes, and Archie Andrews has recently taken a bullet for his gay friend, Kevin, we could still use a re-thinking of a central icon. Because if Superman was gay:
- It would explain the cape.
- Because he’s such a good guy, he’d still save people in the states where he couldn’t get married.
- He’d get really tired of the “So are you seeing Batman?” jokes, especially because they met on Supr, a hookup site for heroes, and it didn’t really click. Read More »
Samuel Goldwyn Films has acquired North American rights to A Year In Champagne. Writer-director David Kennard’s follow-up to A Year In Burgundy focuses on France’s most famous beverage and was bought after screening at the Santa Barbara and Palm Beach fests. Pic will be released in the spring. We like drinking it but watching it? There is a lot of ground covered here. Pic covers the beverage’s history, grim and bloody, swept by war and destruction from Attila the Hun to the filthy trenches of WWI and the Nazi depredations of WWII. The environment for winemaking is desperately hard — northerly latitude, chalky soil, copious rain, frost, rot. Yet it’s these difficulties that help make the wine unique.
Said Kennard: “The winemakers of Champagne hold their secrets close to their chest: Who would guess that the world’s most famous wine is produced in a place with such bad weather and such a hair-raising history? Only by living amongst them for all four seasons of the year – as we did – are their secrets revealed: their sheer chutzpah, their reliance on luck and their enormous skill to conjure up the most magical, joyful drink from the most unpromising beginnings.”
YRF Entertainment will remake the hit 2012 Indian film Kahaani, and the company has landed Jose Rivera and Richard Regen to script it for Niels Arden Oplev, helmer of the Swedish trilogy that began with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Written and directed by Sujoy Ghosh, Kahaani was a big hit in India that grossed 16 times its budget in that country alone. The remake is titled Deity, and it’s described as a thriller about an American woman who goes to Calcutta in search of her missing husband. As she gets closer to the truth, she finds herself at the center of a dangerous conspiracy. The story unfolds in the context of a colorful, week-long Hindu festival.
“Niels is the perfect director to transform the appeal of Kahaani to Deity,” said Uday Chopra, CEO, YRF Entertainment. “Niels has an elevated understanding of both international thrillers and strong female characters and his vision for capturing the vibrancy and energy of contemporary Calcutta will appeal to audiences in the US and worldwide.” Chopra will be producer and YRF’s production and development head Jonathan Reiman will be exec producer. Financing comes from YRF, which just backed the Cannes opening film Grace Of Monaco. Upcoming for that label is Seducing Ingrid Bergman, scripted by Grace’s Arash Amel from the Chris Greenhalgh novel about Bergman’s affair with war photographer Robert Capa.
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After setting Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone to star in his next untitled film, Woody Allen has just added Parker Posey and If I Stay‘s Jamie Blackley to the cast of the film currently shooting in Rhode Island. Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum are producing. Allen’s Magic In The Moonlight will be released this week by Sony Pictures Classics.
Michael and Peter Spierig have in their crosshairs the Hammer Films’ supernatural thriller Winchester, about an heir to that firearms family fortune who believes she has been cursed by the victims and the lethal legacy of the “gun that won the West.”
The Spierig siblings will rewrite to direct the film, which will be shot in the world-famous Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. The story revolves around heir Sarah Winchester, who in 1884 began 38 years of construction on the 24,000-square-foot, 160-room Gothic mansion. It was after the sudden deaths of her husband and child that Winchester began to believe she was cursed by the family legacy, and she was instructed to build the mansion by a spiritualist medium, to appease the spirits. She never stopped building. Even though it’s a period film, I can’t imagine it will a favorite of the NRA, whose lobbying and money has kept gun makers from being held accountable to the bloodshed from their wares.
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CBS Films is moving aggressively on a sequel to its biggest-grossing film Last Vegas. David Diamond & David Weissman have been hired to write the second installment of the AARP comedy. The intent is to bring back director Jon Turteltaub, and the film’s stars Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline. The sequel will focus on the quartet’s return to their old stomping grounds in Brooklyn. They discover that borough has changed more than a little since the four grew up there.
Laurence Mark and Amy Baer will be returning as producers. Scripted by Dan Fogelman, Last Vegas was a true sleeper, hitting an underserved demographic and enjoying a long theatrical run. The film topped out at $134 million in global grosses, including $63 million domestic, and has been a strong performer on home video and VOD.
Diamond & Weissman’s scripts include The Family Man, Evolution, Old Dogs, and When In Rome. The scribes are repped by WME.
In a most unusual spec script deal, Warner Bros has pre-emptively acquired an untitled “script-ment” from tyro screenwriter David Weil. Essentially, the studio bought the blueprint for a 7-part movie franchise featuring interconnected stories contained in The Arabian Nights. 3 Arts is the sole producer.
The script-ment is 90 pages long, and I’m told that Weil’s vision is for a period reinterpretation of very familiar stories from a public domain tale, with modern tropes and themes that lend themselves to the big tent pole CGI-driven element that is vital in fantasy fare. It is the bible for what the scribe envisions as a long running franchise. It came to Warner Bros because that is where 3 Arts’ Erwin Stoff has made numerous films that include the Doug Liman-directed Tom Cruise-starrer Edge Of Tomorrow.
Chantal Nong and Julia Spiro will oversee the project for Warner Bros. Weil is repped by CAA and Jessica Moresco at Unified Management.
Longtime Sony Pictures EVP Elizabeth Cantillon will transition from a production exec to producer with a three-year first-look deal at the studio. Cantillon has been a key exec on some of Sony’s big projects, and she will moonlight in that capacity and shepherd with MGM the next James Bond film that is gearing up for a year-end production start, as well as R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps, which Jack Black will vamp this week at Comic-Con in San Diego.
Related: Sony Pictures Vice Chairman Jeff Blake Exiting Studio After 22 Years
At the same time, Cantillon will join several studio films as producer, including some she developed as an exec. This will keep her busy as she begins building her own projects. Cantillon’s first producing project is Game Brain, the drama about what causes the debilitating long-term effects of concussions in football and other contact sports that has led to suicides of several gridiron stars. Peter Landesman is writing to direct Will Smith in the role of Dr. Bennett Omalu, the man who was first to discover CTE, based a GQ article by Jeanne Marie Laskas that was developed by producers Ridley Scott and Giannina Facio.
Related: Will Smith Eyeing Gridiron Concussion Pic At Sony With Peter Landesman Directing
Cantillon will also become a producer of the Luca Guadagnino-directed adaptation of the Robert Goolrick novel A Reliable Wife, which Andrew Kevin Walker is adapting, as well as the live-action adaptation of the PlayStation property Gran Turismo. Several other alignments are in the works for her.
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San Diego Comic-Con has become more than a place for film studios to vamp their upcoming superhero movies. Now, they use the geek frenzy to stake out release date turf. Days after Disney and Marvel declared release dates for a flurry of superhero films the studio isn’t even ready to identify yet, Columbia Pictures has set its release plans and formalized plans to expand its $4 billion Spider-Man universe. As expected, the next film in the series will be Sinister Six, writer-director Drew Goddard’s bad guy mash-up, which is the first of several planned character and story expansions. That film has been dated for release November 11, 2016, with Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach producing.
Columbia will then release the third installment of The Amazing Spider-Man in 2018.
The studio also announced that it has slated Uncharted for June 10, 2016, the date originally held by The Amazing Spider-Man 3. The adaptation of the Sony PlayStation vidgame will be directed by Seth Gordon, and the latest draft of the screenplay is being written by David Guggenheim. They haven’t set a star to play Nathan Drake; I’ve heard they are trying to pull Mark Wahlberg back into the mix, but the studio and the actor’s reps say nothing is happening. That film will be an Arad/Atlas Entertainment Production, produced by Charles Roven, Avi Arad, Alex Gartner and Ari Arad. Read More »
Here’s one to get the Comic-Con crowd going as things ramp up in San Diego. I’m hearing that Edgar Wright has found his next film, after stepping away from Marvel’s Ant-Man. Wright’s looking to next direct Baby Driver for Working Title Films. The project, which Wright wrote, is described to me as a collision of crime, action, music and sound. That sounds like a close cousin to the Cornetto Trilogy of films that Wright did at Working Title, but at this point at least, it doesn’t appear that Nick Frost and Simon Pegg are part of this. They made the three comedies World’s End, Hot Fuzz and Shaun Of The Dead together. Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing with Nira Park. This is all happening on a fast track, and I will keep you posted as more details emerge. It isn’t at a studio yet, but Working Title’s deal is at Universal and so it seems natural that the film will be made there or by Focus Features, which released World’s End. CAA and Anonymous Content rep Wright.
CBS Films insiders confirm that about three weeks ago, CBS Films co-president Wolfgang Hammer quietly segued to become a consultant focusing on digital content. Among the youngest production presidents of a major company ever, Hammer ran the film division with Terry Press, who is alone at the top. Under Hammer, Les Moonves’s boutique film label went from an original mission to create homegrown films, and became a significant player in the acquisitions game in the last few years while the original productions percolated, often with good results. Last Vegas, a homegrown film, was a sleeper hit, and the label made its highest profile acquisition when it paid $4 million for Inside Llewyn Davis. That movie didn’t garner Oscar love in the major categories after the prestige folk music film got a rousing reaction at Cannes last year and won the Grand Prix, but it got CBS Films its first ever Oscar noms and Golden Globes, and grossed just north of $13 million domestic. That number could have been higher had Oscar voters embraced it more fully, the way critics did. The label has made other big festival buys including the Toronto acquisition Salmon Fishing in the Yemen to put itself on the map.
The label has What If opening in August, Pride in September and just wrapped the teen comedy The Duff for a February opening. One potential gem it hasn’t been able to get into production is the series of bestselling novels by author Vince Flynn featuring counter terrorism operative … Read More »
Here’s one to keep an eye on. I’m hearing that Matthew McConaughey has come aboard The Company Man, the Black List script by Andrew Cypiot that had been known as the Untitled Ed Wilson Project. The Oscar-winning actor’s reps caution that none of this is set in stone, but I’m hearing he’s guiding the process of looking for a director before the project is shopped as a spec later this summer. It’s based on true events. CIA agent Edwin Wilson went behind enemy lines to secure a weapons contract and report information back to the CIA shortly after the Cold War. He had a meteoric rise until company policies changed and he was unceremoniously fired. Even after, he continued to operate as a man without a country and became public enemy No. 1 to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Former DreamWorks senior exec Mark Sourian is producing with Josh Kazdan. McConaughey’s repped by CAA, Cypiot by Verve. Sounds like another gritty project for him to sink his teeth into, after his superb performance in HBO’s True Detective.