EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures is eyeing Kick-Ass star Aaron-Taylor Johnson to star in Godzilla, the Gareth Edwards-directed reboot of the franchise based on the iconic Japanese reptile. I’m told that Johnson, who starred in the Oliver Stone-directed Savages and Anna Karenina and followed by reprising in Kick-Ass 2: Balls To The Wall is the frontrunner for the job. He won’t make a final decision on whether or not to take the offer until he sees the final polish that Frank Darabont is writing based on the Max Borenstein script.
Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni are taking the creative lead on this project — they just put Mary Parent on after she became a producer of Pacific Rim — and Warner Bros is distributing everywhere except for Japan. There, rightsholders Toho will handle the release. While there has obviously been a legal dust-up in the producing ranks, the film is still on course to begin production in March, with the film dated for a May 16, 2014 release. If he takes the gig, Johnson could well have a second franchise, not at all a bad thing for a young actor. He’s repped by WME and Brillstein, and Christian Hodell in the UK.
EXCLUSIVE: After Deadline revealed that Universal Pictures was stepping in to finance Kick-Ass 2 with Jeff Wadlow directing his script, the big question was whether the original Kick-Ass cast of Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, among … Read More »
Universal has released its first trailer for Savages, the Oliver Stone-directed adaptation of the bestselling Don Winslow novel about two pot growers from Laguna who are muscled by a Mexican drug cartel. When the cartel kidnaps the woman they share, … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has acquired the Don Winslow bestselling novel Satori and will develop it as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio to play a Westerner, raised in Japan and taught an assassin’s skills, who gets caught up in the chaos of post-WWII as the U.S., Soviet Union, France and China maneuver for power in Southeast Asia in the early 1950s. Shane Salerno will write the script with Winslow, and John Lesher’s Grisdi Productions and DiCaprio’s Appian Way partner Jennifer Killoran are producing. Salerno is executive producer.
DiCaprio will play Nicholai Hel, raised in Japan by a martial arts expert and genius at Go, the complex chess-like Japanese game. The master, a Japanese general, passes on all his secrets and the student repays him by murdering his mentor as an act of devotion; the military leader would have been disgraced and killed as a war criminal.
For that act, Hel is thrown in solitary confinement in a Tokyo prison and tortured for three years. He is finally sprung by the CIA after agreeing to assassinate the Soviet commissioner to China. Hel is trained for the task by a beautiful French woman he falls in love with. Though he now sees a happy ending to the dangerous assignment, Hel is betrayed by his backers and, using his Go skills for strategy, makes his way through Vietnam hunted by American, Chinese, Russian and French intelligence agencies as well as a Corsican mob and Vietnamese criminal syndicate. It’s a sophisticated thriller, and the studio sees potential for its own Jason Bourne-type action franchise. Read More »
BREAKING: NBCUniversal’s new owners at Comcast have given a vote of confidence to the studio’s feature film operation. They’ve exercised an option on Universal Pictures’ Chairman Adam Fogelson and extended his contract through 2014. I’m told that Fogelson is, in turn, in the process of exercising the option of Donna Langley and she will continue as the studio’s co-chairman. They will also keep their executive team intact. Fogelson will continue to have full day-to-day operating responsibility for the Motion Picture Group, reporting to Universal Studios President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer (whose contract was recently re-upped through 2015) and will now also report to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke.
While Universal has had its ups and downs, higher-ups are clearly convinced that Fogelson, Langley and their team are making progress. They’ve had recent hits –Bridesmaids, Hop! and Fast Five– but also had some recent misses that include The Dilemma, Change-Up and Cowboys & Aliens. In the latter case, the studio was on the hook for one-third of the film, and shared that third with Relativity Media. It has also been a year in which Fogelson and his team have made some painful decisions and let pricey productions go. That began with the Guillermo Del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness, which Universal developed for years and which was ready to go with Tom Cruise, until the studio made a late decision not to go forward because of the possibility the $150M film could carry an R-rating. Universal also dropped two projects that were in advanced stages of development: The Dark Tower, the Akiva Goldsman-directed adaptation of the Stephen King novel series that was to be made into three feature films and two limited-run TV series, with the first film and TV segment directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer and Goldsman; and Oiuja, the Hasbro board game that had McG directing and Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners producing with Hasbro. The moves were surprising because Howard and Grazer are cornerstone filmmakers for Universal; and Del Toro and Hasbro have overall deals there. Ouija is one of several Hasbro properties the studio dropped, the others being the Gore Verbinski-directed Clue, the Ridley Scott-directed Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering. These were part of a groundbreaking deal the studio made with the toymaker several years ago, but the studio and Hasbro have re-focused their attention solely on Battleship, Stretch Armstrong, and Candy Land. Read More »
It’s official: Atonement director Joe Wright and star Keira Knightley are reteaming for Anna Karenina, the Working Title films adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel that was written by Tom Stoppard. The film will be distributed by Focus Features in the U.S. and Universal Pictures International worldwide sometime in the second half of 2012. Working Title co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing with Paul Webster; the trio were 2008 Oscar nominees as producers of Atonement. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Simon & Schuster has made a deal for Don Winslow to write a prequel novel to Savages, his bestseller that forms the basis of the film that Oliver Stone will begin shooting for Universal Pictures July 6, with Taylor … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Oliver Stone is putting together a killer cast for Savages, the drama based on Don Winslow’s bestselling novel. Stone is arranging a Pulp Fiction reunion of John Travolta and Uma Thurman, as the two actors are in talks to … Read More »
Despite the laughable claim of exclusivity just now by another outlet, I can report that Deadline’s March 19 scoop about Oliver Stone’s Savages heading to Universal is getting closer, but it’s not closed yet. They are now in exclusive … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Benicio Del Toro is signing on to play a deadly drug cartel enforcer in Savages, joining Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch in the drama that Oliver Stone is directing, based on the Don Winslow bestseller. The project is moving … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: At a time when the Hollywood movie star landscape is being made over with new faces, Kick-Ass star Aaron Johnson is cementing his place in this new order. He has been offered two lead roles in high profile … Read More »
Today at BAFTA Headquarters, jury member, film director, actor, and award-winning singer-songwriter Ben Drew announced the hotly anticipated nominees for the newly named Orange Wednesdays Rising Star Award 2011. The nominations recognise five international actors and actresses whose talent has captured … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Sony’s Columbia Pictures is getting closer to finding its new Spider-Man. I On Friday, studio decision-makers viewed the screen tests of most of the young actors they are seriously considering to play Peter Parker in the Marc Webb-directed relaunch of Spider-Man.
I’m … Read More »