EXCLUSIVE: Scott Free Productions has hired Indian Paintbrush executive Michael Pruss to be senior vice president of Production. Scott Free has separately promoted production executive Elishia Holmes to senior vice president of Production. Both report to Scott Free President Michael Schaefer. Pruss joins Scott Free from Indian Paintbrush where he served as vice president and oversaw the acquisition of the Drake Doremus-directed Like Crazy at the 2011 Sundance Festival. He co-produced the director’s followup, Breathe In, which will be released in the fall. Pruss also developed A Murder Foretold with Chris Terrio, The Signal with Brad Ingelsby, Off The Grid with Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers and he is a producer on Hold On To Me, the James Marsh-directed thriller that stars Carey Mulligan and Robert Pattinson. Before that he was a Focus Features exec who worked on Milk, The American and Coraline. He was raised in London.
Holmes has been a rising star at Scott Free, where she is part of the team working on the Daniel Espinosa-directed Child 44 with Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman and Gary Oldman, with production beginning June 10. She is an exec producer of that film and is working on the J. Blakeson-directed Wool, as well as the mammoth Moses movie Exodus at Fox and the Blade Runner sequel at Alcon Entertainment, both of which will be directed by Scott Free principal Ridley Scott. She joined Scott Free in 2011 from GK Films, and before that was a vice president of production at Warner Bros for four years, and started as a story editor at Parkes-MacDonald.
“It’s an exciting time at Scott Free and we couldn’t be happier to welcome Michael to the company and to recognize Elisha for all of her contributions to the team”, Schaefer said. “They have impeccable taste and great relationships in the industry and I am confident that both of them are going to help us lead the
company into a successful year ahead.”
BREAKING: Park Pictures Features signed Philip Seymour Hoffman to star in God’s Pocket, the upcoming film directorial debut from John Slattery, who adapted the Pete Dexter novel with Alex Metcalf. Richard Jenkins, Christina Hendricks and John Turturro will co-star. Gersh is selling. Park Pictures Features is producing with Hoffman’s Cooper’s Town Productions and Slattery’s Shoestring Pictures, which makes its producing debut. Producing is Sam Bisbee, Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Slattery, Lance Acord and Galt Niederhoffer for Park Pictures and Emily Ziff and Hoffman for Cooper’s Town. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In a six-figure deal, producers Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz and Nick Wechsler have preemptively acquired rights to The Kill List, the new novel by Day Of The Jackal author Frederick Forsyth. The contemporary espionage tale … Read More »
Good Universe has set Captain Phillips scribe Billy Ray to direct his script Departure. Jim Whitaker will produce the sci-fi/romance film and Good Universe’s Joe Drake and Nathan Kahane will executive produce. Good Universe has the project on the fast-track and will begin casting right away. Based … Read More »
BREAKING: Michelle Williams and Joel Edgerton are set to star in The Double Hour, a remake of the 2009 Italian film of the same title. Joshua Marston, helmer of Maria Full Of Grace, is writing and will direct. … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Mulberry Films comes to the Croisette for the first time with the intention of turning strong literary works into films. First up: Purple America, an adaptation of the Rick Moody novel that Dennis Lee will direct and which Lee will co-write with Daniel Ragussis. This will be the first Moody novel headed for screen treatment since the Ang Lee-directed The Ice Storm. Published in 1998, Purple America is a dysfunctional family drama about how the ordinary, commonplace tragedies of life can sometimes make heroes out of very ordinary people. A fortysomething returns to Long Island to visit his invalid mom, and discovers her husband has bailed. He has to learn to face up to responsibilities. He has previously made a career avoiding this kind of thing, which is why he has not much to speak of in his empty life. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Bradley Cooper has now formally confirmed to star in the John Wells-directed Chef, making this one of the early projects stirring action from foreign buyers who can now visualize the Silver Linings Playbook star back in meltdown mode in this Shampoo-like drama. He plays a Paris chef named Adam Jones, who destroys his wunderkind status in a blaze of decadence and out of control behavior. He cleans up and returns to Paris sober, determined to redeem himself by spearheading a top restaurant that can gain three Michelin stars. This has been in the works a bit, and recently Cooper saw Wells’ upcoming TWC Oscar-bait movie August: Osage County and then TWC set Wells to direct Chef. They are now looking to round out that cast, and I’m hearing Michelle Williams and Marion Cotillard as potential female leads, and Omar Sy for co-starring role. The film’s produced by Stacey Sher, Erwin Stoff and Michael Shamberg. Read More »
BREAKING: Since forming 11 years ago, Focus Features has been a relative bastion of stability. That will remain so as CEO James Schamus has re-upped for a new term, and Andrew Karpen, president since 2006, has been promoted to co-CEO. Schamus will remain a creative catalyst for the company, while Karpen oversees the global business strategy for the company and will continue to spearhead the company’s digital initiatives. Together, they run all aspects of the company, including acquisitions and worldwide production, marketing, and distribution. Karpen continues to report to Schamus, who hatched the label with David Linde in 2002. Schamus reports to Universal co-chairman Donna Langley.
These are stand-up guys who come to the Croisette with the hottest project in Hollywood, and one which they are not selling here, at least not yet. That’s 50 Shades Of Grey, the adaptation of the steamy novel that has sold 70 million copies worldwide, and which Langley won in a huge multi-million dollar bidding battle, and then placed it with taste-maker label Focus, to be produced by Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca. That project is still forming and while there might be some hot and bothered whispering here at the Croisette (it’s unclear whether its partner, Universal, will let any territories go), the focus here for International head of Distribution and Sales Alison Thompson is on Mike Leigh’s new film, which stars Timothy Spall as the painter J.M.W. Turner; the Asif Kapadia-directed docu on Amy Winehouse; and new Focus titles that the Michael Cuesta-directed fact-based thriller Kill The Messenger with Jeremy Renner, and the Andrew MacDonald-directed undersea adventure film Black Sea with Jude Law. FFI will also world premiere Ruairi Robinson’s thriller The Last Days On Mars, starring Liev Schreiber, Olivia Williams, and Romola Garai in the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight section. Read More »
UPDATE, 6:08 PM: Philip K. Dick’s daughter Laura Leslie issued a statement today about the settlement between her father’s estate and Media Rights Capital. From the sound of it The Adjustment Bureau will not be … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Bold Films, Blumhouse Productions and Right of Way Films are teaming up to bring Damien Chazelle‘s Sundance Prize-winning short Whiplash to the screen as a feature. Bold Films will fully finance the film. Chazelle was basically dared by Right of Way and Blumhouse to direct a short based on his Black List script about a talented young drummer who strives for perfection under the instruction of a ruthless band conductor. That short was produced by Reitman’s partner Helen Estabrook and Blumhouse EVP Couper Samuelson, along with Nicholas Britell and was awarded the 2013 Sundance short film jury prize. J.K. Simmons will reprise his role from the short and star in the feature. WME Global is repping domestic rights and Sierra/Affinity is selling offshore territories. Read More »
CANNES: Below I’ve compiled this year’s list of what Cannes films are most often being mentioned by potential buyers. But already there’s been a bit of action in the marketplace, with Warner Bros acquiring domestic on the Ryan Gosling-directed How To Catch A Monster. Sellers feel a good appetite for deal-making is in the air. “This has been the busiest month we’ve had going into a Cannes Film Festival. The frenetic activity has never been this intense,” said Roeg Sutherland, who runs CAA’s independent film operation with Micah Green. “It’s not that a lot of new companies are jumping in like they did last year. But we’re seeing those companies coming back here with good slates, which is the healthiest thing for everybody.” I can tell you that sellers this year are cautiously optimistic this Cannes market will be closer to 2011′s when sales were made on the basis of sizzle reels. (Harvey Weinstein made a big bet on The Iron Lady after watching seven minutes of Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher, and John Hillcoat’s Lawless and Rian Johnson’s Looper sold on the basis of preview reels as well.) Not even rain in the forecast for the next couple of days can depress the upbreat attitudes here. After all, at last Cannes, the sellers market on the Croisette belonged to the umbrella salesman getting 40 Euros a pop in a nonstop torrential downpour that put a figurative damper on the entire market. We all known you cannot measure the success of Cannes the way you can Toronto and Sundance. If buyers don’t buy, sellers are in trouble. Here, a chance conversation with a high net worth individual can make the whole Cannes experience worthwhile. This is a festival of intangibles, and players have to make the time to hustle at the Hotel Du Cap where the billionaire investors roam and the movie stars are stashed until they have to come to the Croisette for premieres. That’s as glitzy as it gets here, but sellers and buyers tell me they do most of their business over a drink at the Carlton and Majestic Hotels, and to a lesser degree the Martinez. Agents especially have “how I won the war” Cannes stories of unexpected encounters that turned into game-changing deals.
Related: Hammond: Festival Kicks Off With Most Anticipated Slate In Years
“Beyond the competition and the exposure that is so good for the careers of your clients, it is an important place to create a moment that leads to films getting financed,” said UTA’s Rich Klubeck. “Two years ago, we met with the guys at Studio Canal who’d said they missed being in business with Joel and Ethan Coen. We had another meeting in New York and they wrote the check for Inside Llewyn Davis, which premieres here. It could not have been a better situation. They have proven to be perfect partners.” That deal allowed the Coens and producer Scott Rudin to shoot the 1960s folk movie without pressure to find early domestic distribution. The picture went to CBS Films after the filmmakers showed the finished product to a crowd of buyers. “We got to take our time, hear the marketing plans offered by each distributor, and pick the perfect situation,” Klubeck told me. “This is a good place where a lot of stuff happens.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: WME has signed the screenwriting team of Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith and Karen McCullah, whose breakout came off the spec 10 Things I Hate About You and whose other credits include Legally Blonde, The Ugly Truth, … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In what becomes the second significant domestic distribution deal on the eve of Cannes, Lionsgate closed a deal with Exclusive Media for North American distribution rights to the Hammer production of The Quiet Ones, the John Pogue-directed supernatural thriller that stars Mad Men‘s Jared Harris and Sam Claflin, who starred in the last Pirates Of The Caribbean. Craig Rosenberg and Oren Moverman wrote the script with Pogue.
This follows Warner Bros’ deal for the Ryan Gosling-directed How To Catch A Monster. The Quiet Ones will open April 25, 2014. Pogue wrote the script and Exclusive’s Tobin Armbrust and Simon Oakes will produce with James Gay-Rees, Steven Chester Prince and Ben Holden of The Travelling Picture Show Company. Lionsgate already had UK rights. It’s a nice start for Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger. The film is inspired by true events, and tells the story of a prof who uses controversial methods and engages his students in an attempt to raise a poltergeist from negative human energy. That can’t turn out well, can it? Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has optioned Red Queen, a novel by 22-year-old author Victoria Aveyard. Benderspink and Pouya Shazbazian are producing, and Christopher Cosmos producing in some capacity. The first in a trilogy, Red Queen is set in a fantasy world where society is divided by the color of blood. It features a 17 year old girl who, to save her family, must assume the role of a long-lost princess while secretly aiding a revolution; her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince and her against her own heart. It is pitched as Divergent meets Game Of Thrones. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Hailee Steinfeld has come aboard For The Dogs, the Phillip Noyce-directed pic that has Sam Worthington attached to star. Oren Moverman wrote the script based on an adaptation of the Kevin Wignall novel by Paul Leyden. … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Deirdre O’Connor has been tapped to write the screenplay for Fox 2000‘s movie musical revolving around the catalog of the Beach Boys. O’Connor, who was nominated for a WGA Award for her work on Lifetime’s Five … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Tom Welling has landed a role in Draft Day, the Lionsgate-Summit and Odd Lot Entertainment football movie starring Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner and Denis Leary among a starry cast and is being directed … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The production companies Benderspink and Broken Road have teamed to make a rights deal with the Middle Ages-centric Medieval Times. Their aim is to take the branded dinner and tournament venue and get medieval on turning … Read More »