EXCLUSIVE: Benedict Cumberbatch‘s next high-profile role looks like it will be playing English mathematician Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, Graham Moore’s heralded screenplay that went from Warner Bros to Teddy Schwarzman’s Black Bear Pictures. Headhunters helmer Morten Tyldum recently signed on to direct, and I hear it will be Cumberbatch (he’s in deep conversations but hasn’t yet signed a deal) who plays the genius most responsible for cracking the German “Enigma Code” during World War II that helped the Allies stave off defeat, and who would later be prosecuted by Britain in the early 1950s for being a homosexual. Schwarzman is producing along with Ampersand Pictures’ Nora Grossman and Ido Ostrowsky. Moore will be exec producer.
This is the 2011 Black List script that originally got set at Warner Bros with Leonardo DiCaprio expected to star. In what seems shocking today, the hero was forced to make a radical choice, and he chose chemical castration over prison. He was so demoralized that he eventually committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple. Black Bear is fully financing. With the helmer and Cumberbatch, I can’t imagine some distributor will jump on this Oscar-bait undertaking. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: When I was covering Toronto, the big talk was all about deals for completed films. But the one script buyers were talking up was The Imitation Game, Graham Moore’s heralded screenplay about Alan Turing, the English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist who single-handedly helped crack the German “Enigma Code” during World War II that helped the Allies stave off defeat. In a competitive situation, Teddy Schwarzman’s Black Bear Pictures has come aboard to finance production of the film, with Schwarzman producing with Ampersand Pictures’ Nora Grossman and Ido Ostrowsky, with Moore exec producing.
Turing’s story, which topped the 2011 Black List, is hardly a happy hero tale. Not long after Turing made his contribution to toppling the Nazis in WWII, Britain criminally prosecuted him in the early 1950s for being homosexual. He chose chemical castration over prison and was so demoralized that he eventually committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple (legend has it that Turing’s advancements for what became the computer so inspired Steve Jobs that he named the company Apple).
The script originally sold in a seven-figure spec deal to Warner Bros, when it appeared that Leonardo DiCaprio was interested in starring. The studio put J Blakeson on the project, but the deal had a quick trigger and the rights reverted back to the screenwriter, who then got the job of adapting The Devil In The White City for Warner Bros. That’s being crafted for DiCaprio to play serial killer Dr. HH Holmes, with DiCaprio and Appian Way partner Jennifer Killoran and Double Feature partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher. Read More »
My former colleague Adam Dawtrey had a good scoop about Harry Potter director David Yates helming a feature version of the long running BBC science fiction series Doctor Who. That’s going to take several years to get a script, and he’ll need a job in the meantime. Warner Bros, which employed Yates on four Potter films including the finale, is trying hard to tempt him to direct Imitation Game, the script that the studio paid seven figures to buy last month. The Graham Moore-scripted drama is about Alan Turing, the genius and WWII hero who poisoned himself with a cyanide laced apple after being criminally prosecuted for being a homosexual. Studio has been waiting weeks to hear if Yates will bite. Stay tuned.
EXCLUSIVE: Film executive Franklin Leonard has maintained The Black List for the past six years to champion hundreds of talented screenwriters and unproduced scripts. Well over 125 screenplays have been made into movies, and they’re responsible for 20 Oscars and roughly $10 billion in worldwide grosses. Today Leonard expands The Black List by launching a website that tracks Hollywood’s most popular scripts in real time. Blcklst.com bases its info on polling hundreds of high level studio and production company executives who are directly involved in moviemaking. The subscriber-only web site ($20 a month) will expand the pool of movie professionals to include agents and directors who will identify the scripts they like best. Blcklst.com algorithms will sort them by a number of criteria: most popular, and most popular dramas or comedies of the past week, month or whatever. For example, on Tuesday night, I broke news of the sale to Warner Bros of The Imitation Game about math genius Alan Turing. It has been the most popular available new script among several hundred beta-test users of Blcklst.com over the past couple of months.
One thing, though, Leonard’s website will not be open to the general public, however. Verified membership will be expanded to include agents, managers, directors, actors, and writers who will rate scripts according to what they like best. Additionally, the verified subscription format is designed to prevent data manipulation. Interestingly, there will be no “worst of” categories. (Gee where’s the fun if there’s no trashing or bashing?) The parameters … Read More »