EXCLUSIVE: More depressing news for humans who can’t get a Hollywood movie made. Grumpy Cat, the cranky-faced kitty voted Meme of the Year at the 2013 Webby Awards, has a shot at getting her famous sourpuss on the big screen. Broken Road’s Todd Garner and Sean Robins, and Grumpy Cat’s reps (manager Ben Lashes and rep Al Hassas) have teamed up to produce and assemble a package for a Garfield-like feature film with the famous frowning feline at the center. Here, Grumpy Cat (real name Tardar Sauce) will be given the power of speech. How much movie potential can a Grumpy Cat have? Well, she has been scratching at the door of fame in a big way. Among the indicators: Grumpy Cat was named the most influential cat of 2012 by MSNBC, a most important Meme of 2012 by Mashable, and has appeared on such TV shows including Today, Good Morning America, CBS Evening News, Anderson Cooper Live, VH1 Morning Buzz and The Soup. In March, Grumpy Cat was deemed the star of South by Southwest-i by news outlets. The appearances drew lines of thousands of people that spanned for blocks. Grumpy Cat received more social mentions in four days than anyone else at SXSWi.
EXCLUSIVE: Since they got a big write up in the Wall Street Journal late last month, the “Tag Brothers” have been swarmed by movie producers hoping they would tell one of them, “you’re it.” Meaning he gets the chance to translate their story to the movie screen. Who are the “Tag Brothers?” They are the 10 classmates at Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, Washington 23 years ago whose long-running game of tag got national attention, thanks to the Russell Adams article. Now in their 40s, the former classmates have spread across the country in various fields (one’s a priest), but they stay in touch during the month of February by chasing each other across the country in an obsessive game of tag. They will jet cross country, break into each other’s homes, hide in the bushes until a target appears, or leave for a long vacation to avoid being tagged, all in the name of not ending up “It,” and having to wear that loser title a whole year.
Well, the “Tag Brothers” have just told Broken Road’s Todd Garner that he’s it. After hearing pitches from more than a half dozen established producers who wanted to turn their story into a feature film, they’ve optioned their life rights to Garner, in a deal put together by ICM Partners (which reps the guys) and UTA (which reps the WSJ). Garner will put together a package that he’ll shop to studios. Since studios have been among those making calls, it shouldn’t be a hard sell.
EXCLUSIVE: Nick Meyer’s Sierra/Affinity has committed to finance Blackout, an action thriller script by Sidney King. Broken Road Productions’ Todd Garner will produce with Sierra/Affinity, and Broken Road’s Jeremy Stein will be exec producer. A cop tasked with transporting a mysterious and dangerous criminal across town finds that job much more difficult when a city-wide blackout plunges them into darkness and chaos.
EXCLUSIVE: Ending what turned out to be a brisk week for material, New Line Cinema just closed a spec deal in the $300,000 range for Category Six, a script by John Swetnam for a “found footage” natural disaster movie. The film takes a first-person POV through video cameras and cell phones to tell the story of high school students who try to survive the worst tornado in U.S. history. The film will be produced by Todd Garner through his Broken Road banner. Garner hatched the idea. David Boxerbaum at APA and Jake Wagner made the deal. Broken Road’s Jeremy Stein and Sean Robins will also be involved in producing capacities.
The material market has been sluggish until recently, but this is the latest in a flurry of specs and pitches that sold this week. In fact, Category Six is the second one today that deals with extreme weather: Fox just acquired Riders On The Storm, a pitch that will be penned by Sean O’Keefe about a crew that pulls a series of heists in an extreme weather event. The scribe most recently sold his script Evidence to Bold Films.
Summit Entertainment has acquired Unexpected, a pitch comedy that will be written by Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson, based on a treatment by Jennifer Eatz. Todd Garner will produce with Eatz. The writers, who scripted the Katherine Heigl-Josh Duhamel-starrer Life As We Know It, this time focus on a husband and wife who find out they’re expecting their second child. While he’s thrilled, she has reservations because her first pregnancy was tough. After an untimely run-in with an ancient fertility totem, they switch bodies, and he gets to experience the business end of pregnancy.WME and Anonymous Content brokered the deal with attorney David Weber, with Summit production prexy Eric Feig and veep Meredith Milton overseeing.
EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films and Sony Pictures are teaming to acquire It Takes A Village, a comedy pitch that Keenen Ivory Wayans will write and direct about a 30-something white single career-obsessed woman who decides on a whim to adopt a child from a South Pacific island. But she comes home with the tribe’s chief and seven elders until she proves she’s mommy material.
Todd Garner will produce with Wayans and Rick Alvarez. It took two studios to make the deal for It Takes A Village. The pact that UTA brokered for Wayans is mid 6-figures upfront, but contains aggressive progress to production stipulations: after Wayans turns in the script, the studios either make it or the reps take it elsewhere. Wayans, who last directed the 2006 comedy Little Man, hopes to make this his next film. CBS Films chief Amy Baer, who spent most of her career at Columbia, put the pact together with Sony’s Columbia co-president of production Doug Belgrad, who worked closely with Wayans on White Chicks.
The family theme makes the film a departure for Wayans. From his raucous sketch show creation In Living Color to his subsequent feature comedies, family-friendly meant lining the cast with his siblings. Here, Wayans sparked to an idea by Garner (The Zookeeper), who recently became a father and was struck by the litany of mandatory child-rearing accessories–from car seats to baby-wipe-warmers–and fantasized about a stripped-down version of parenting. That led to what Wayans saw as a …