EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has acquired Sagittarius A, an original sci-fi thriller pitch that Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci developed with Steven Karczynski. The script will be written by Karczynski, whose Black List screenplay The Umbra is set at Endgame Entertainment with Martin Campbell attached to direct. The scribe also adapted the Capcom video game Dark Void for Reliance and Plan B Entertainment. Kurtzman and Orci will produce for their Universal-based K/O Paper Products, with K/O president Bobby Cohen also producing. K/O executive Kim Cavyan brought in the project. Karczynski is repped by Gersh and Digital Conspiracy and Kurtzman and Orci are repped by CAA.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is setting Len Wiseman to direct The Mummy, the reboot of a franchise whose most recent incarnation grossed $1.25 billion over three films. Jon Spaihts is writing the script and the studio is eyeing a potential summer 2014 release, so things are moving quickly, with Universal eager to ramp back up one of its most venerable franchises.
The film is being produced by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci through their Universal-based K/O Paper Products, alongside former partners Sean Daniel and Jim Jacks. Latter two produced the version launched by Steve Sommers which starred Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. That trilogy was based on the Karl Fruend-directed Boris Karloff starrer that the studio made in 1932.
I spoke to both Kurtzman and Wiseman, and they said the script Spaihts is writing puts the gauze-covered villain into a modern-day context.
Universal said the first projects in the exclusive two-year deal with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and their K/O Paper Products banner will be remakes of studio library titles The Mummy alongside producer Sean Daniel and writer Jon Spaihts and Van Helsing with Tom Cruise attached. The writer-producers will set up shop on the Universal lot, and former assistants Ben Kim and Kim Cavyan will come aboard as creative executives. Kurtzman and Orci previously had a deal with David Ellison’s Skydance Productions but that didn’t take. Before that, they were with DreamWorks. Their credits include writing two Transformers movies and the Star Trek reboot as well as the disappointing Cowboys & Aliens. On the TV side, they created Fringe produce Hawaii Five-0. Here’s the full release:
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA, May 1, 2011—Universal Pictures today announced the studio has signed a two-year first-look production deal with one of the leading writing/producing teams in the entertainment industry, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, and their K/O Paper Products banner. The duo will kick off their new relationship with Universal by reimagining titles from the studio’s library including Van Helsing and The Mummy. The announcement was made by Universal Pictures Chairman, Adam Fogelson and Co-Chairman, Donna Langley.
Kurtzman and Orci have collaborated with some of the industry’s top creative minds including J.J. Abrams, with whom they wrote the third installment of Mission: Impossible, which grossed nearly $400 million at the worldwide box office. In 2007, they wrote Transformers and went on to write Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in 2009. Together, those films grossed more than $1.5 billion worldwide. More recently, the pair wrote and executive produced 2009’s Star Trek, which grossed more than $385 million worldwide. Accompanying their impressive film resume, Kurtzman and Orci have found tremendous success in television, having created the series Fringe, writing/producing Alias and in 2010, producing the reboot of Hawaii Five-O. They also currently executive produce the highest rated show on Hasbro’s The Hub, Transformers Prime.
BREAKING: Star Trek scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci have been tapped by Sony Pictures to rewrite the script for the sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man, the 3D Marc Webb-directed film that introduces Andrew Garfield as the webslinger and Emma Stone as his love interest Gwen Stacy. Sony releases the franchise relaunch July 3. The first draft was done by Amazing Spider-Man scribe James Vanderbilt. Sony has tentatively scheduled production for the first quarter of 2013.
Kurtzman & Orci are no strangers to event-sized movies. Aside from Star Trek and the upcoming sequel, which they wrote along with Damon Lindelof, their credits include two Transformers films and Mission: Impossible III. They are repped by CAA and attorney Michael Gendler. The duo will receive exec producer credits on the Spider-Man sequel, which is produced by Avi Arad, Matt Tolmach and the late Laura Ziskin.
Sci-Fi White House Drama Written By Jon Favreau, Roberto Orci, Seth Green & Michael Dougherty Gets Put Pilot At ABC
EXCLUSIVE: This is a writing team configuration that is sure to get people’s attention: Jon Favreau, Roberto Orci, Seth Green and Michael Dougherty. It certainly got ABC’s — the network has handed out a put pilot commitment to Ex-Comm, a sci-fi drama with humor, which will be written by the quartet. Iron Man helmer Favreau is set to direct the potential pilot, with 20th Century Fox TV and Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s studio-based K/O Paper Products producing. Ex-Comm is described as a present-day “presidential procedural” and a cross between the paranormal suspense of The X-Files and the political intrigue of The West Wing. It follows a newly-elected President and his top secret “Executive Committee” (a.k.a. Ex-Comm), the government’s covert team of America’s most elite minds who investigate and protect our nation from the strangest occurrences and “conspiracy theory truths” out there. Tonally, the show aims to be fun but grounded, with everything in it operating within the realm of possibility. Favreau, Orci, Green and Dougherty are executive producing with Kurtzman, K/O’s Heather Kadin and Green’s producing partner at Stoopid Monkey Matthew Senreich.
How did the writing team on Ex-Comm get assembled? Robot Chicken co-creator Green and Superman Returns/X Men 2 co-writer Dougherty hatched the idea and took it to Kurtzman and Orci’s company. Meanwhile, Kurtzman and Orci co-wrote this past summer’s Cowboys & Aliens movie, which Favreau directed. While abroad doing press for the film with the rest of the cast and crew, Orci was working on the Ex-Comm pitch, and that’s how Favreau heard about it and came on board.
Fox is joining the Western trend this development season with an untitled drama project from producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who co-wrote this summer’s big-screen Western with a sci-fi twist Cowboys & Aliens. Written by The Shield alum John Hlavin, the project is described as a Western that tells the origins of Wyatt Earp, chronicling both the well-known incidents in his life such as the Gunfight at the OK Corral and lesser-known details of Earp and his brothers bringing order to a lawless frontier. UTA-repped Hlavin, who has a feature Western, The Gunslinger, in development at Warner Bros, brought the project to Kurtzman and Orci. The three will executive produce with Heather Kadin for 20th Century Fox TV and Kurtzman and Orci’s K/O Paper Products.
JJ Abrams Moving Toward Helming ‘Star Trek 2,’ But ‘G.I. Joe’ Sequel Will Get His June 29, 2012 Release Slot
EXCLUSIVE: Now that the launch of Super 8 is behind him, JJ Abrams is moving toward a commitment to direct Star Trek 2. But just as Deadline has been telling you, there’s no way that he’ll be able to make the June 29, 2012 release date that Paramount carved out for the film. I’m told that the studio will give that slot to G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the sequel that will be directed by Jon M. Chu and stars Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson and Adrianne Palicki, with Lorenzo di Bonaventura producing.
Abrams has just returned from vacation and is hunkering down with writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof to work on the Trek script and beginning prep for a Trek sequel that will likely begin production in January and either be dated for release for the fourth quarter of 2012 or summer 2013. Abrams hasn’t formally committed and hasn’t approved a script yet, but the studio has exercised its option on the cast and they will be ready when Abrams is. All this means that Chris Pine will definitely play Captain Kirk before he reboots Jack Ryan for the same studio.
EXCLUSIVE: Harlan Coben, one of the biggest-selling mystery writers in America, is finally in line to have one of his books made into a major Hollywood film. And all he had to do was make a detour through France.
Warner Bros and Universal Pictures have optioned rights to Coben’s thriller Tell No One. Ben Affleck is attached to direct, and the script will be written by Chris Terrio. Terrio scripted Argo, the film Affleck is preparing to direct next for Warner Bros. Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will be the producers. The studios will co-develop the picture, with Warner Bros releasing domestically and Universal Pictures International launching it overseas. The deal involves Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp, and that’s where the French connection comes in. The new project is basically a remake of the French film adaptation of Coben’s book, which was directed by Guillaume Canet.
Coben originally set up his book at Sony Pictures in 2002. The studio hired Star Trek scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, no less. Coben has a page-turning writing style, but his mysteries aren’t seamless screen transitions. It never quite came together and Sony let it go. Canet then got involved, figured out how to make the premise work, set it up at EuropaCorp and turned it into French film. The plot involves a pediatrician who is out one night frolicking by a lake with his wife when she suddenly vanishes and he is severely beaten when he tries to find her. When she turns up murdered, he is prime suspect. That’s until she’s declared a victim of a caught serial killer. Years later, bodies turn up in the same spot and the nightmare is repeated, the pediatrician again under suspicion. Right around that time, he’s given evidence that his wife wasn’t dead at all. Canet managed to make all of that work, anchored by the fact the protagonist never got over the death of his wife. Sarah Schechter and Greg Silverman are running the project for Warner Bros, and Adam Yoelin is steering it for Kennedy/Marshall.
EXCLUSIVE: In its latest attempt to hatch a large-scale film that can play to a family audience, Disney has made a seven-figure deal with screenwriter and Lost exec producer Damon Lindelof to write and produce an original large-scale science fiction feature film. Other than the fact that the project has a working title of 1952, I couldn’t pry plot details out of anybody. I’m not sure if the title connotes a period the film is set in, or if it is a Lost reference. I’ve also heard that this project isn’t just being conceived for movies only, but that it has multiple platform aspirations.
The project came out of a series of meetings that Lindelof had with Disney’s production president Sean Bailey and senior exec Brigham Taylor, and it’s the first film that Lindelof is producing from the ground up. Since ending the run of Lost and serving as one of the show’s architects all the way through, Lindelof has been on fire as a screenwriter. He teamed with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci to script the Jon Favreau-directed Cowboys & Aliens. Lindelof came aboard to rewrite Ridley Scott’s 3D Alien prequel and injected enough new ideas into the Prometheus script for Fox and Scott to deem the film an original. Lindelof is right now working with Kurtzman and Orci to pull together a Star Trek sequel that can be ready to begin production later this year or early next. I’ve reported my skepticism that Abrams would ever be able to move from launching Super 8 and jump into a Star Trek sequel that will make its summer 2012 release date, because the scribes need Abrams to give a thumbs up to the 70-page story outline they’ve written, and turn that into a script.
Paramount isn’t confirming any of this, but I’m told that there soon should be good news and bad news on the Star Trek sequel front. The good news: With his film Super 8 set for release June 10, JJ Abrams is expected to announce shortly his return as director of Star Trek 2. The bad news: Even moving at warp speed, Abrams will be hard pressed to make the June 29, 2012 release date that the studio set for the film. I’m told that the move being considered right now is to push Trek back for a Holiday 2012 release. This comes after Paramount pushed back the other franchise film in its arsenal that has Chris Pine as its star. Pine’s also playing Jack Ryan in the reboot of the Tom Clancy-created series. Pine was expected to shoot that film first, but the script wasn’t ready. Paramount hired David Koepp to rewrite Adam Cozad’s script. Koepp just began writing this week after completing his film Premium Rush.
Why is Star Trek in such precarious shape, just 13 months before its release date? The film has three top-flight writers in Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof. Like Abrams, all of them have been busy on other films. Kurtzman directed Welcome to People. Orci has been busy on Cowboys & Aliens and in prepping the Gavin Hood-directed sci-fi epic Ender’s Game. Lindelof has been busy working on Prometheus, the Ridley Scott film for Fox that was conceived as a 3D prequel until Lindelof came on to do a rewrite and changed the concept so much that they consider it an original. The result? It doesn’t sound like they are close to having a script that will live up to the high quality of the first film that revived a dead franchise.
EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment is acquiring U.S. rights to a live-action adaptation of the Orson Scott Card science fiction novel Ender’s Game, with Gavin Hood set to direct his script. Summit, which is winding down its Twilight Saga series, is co-financing Ender’s Game and eyeing it as an opportunity to hatch another youth-driven series, with protagonists that are slightly younger than the kids in the upcoming The Hunger Games trilogy. It’s another opportunity to discover young talent, because the protagonists in the film are just entering their teens. Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are producing through their K/O Paper Products banner, along with Odd Lot’s Gigi Pritzker and Linda McDonough, the author and Lynn Hendee. Digital Domain is also an equity partner. The film will be shopped at the upcoming 2011 Cannes Film Festival, with Nick Meyer’s Sierra/Affinity brokering offshore deals. The plan is to put the film into production by early next year.
Ender’s Game is a seminal futuristic novel that Card originated as a short story in 1977 and then turned into a 1985 book that won both the Hugh and Nebula Awards and spawned a series. The storyline begins on Earth after an alien attack, when gifted children are recruited by a government desperate to fight back. The kids are taught a competitive game that’s a cross between the Quidditch matches of Harry Potter and the Jedi light saber battles from Star Wars. Only the best and brightest will be chosen. A young boy emerges as a genius strategist, and the planet’s best hope to destroy the alien Formic race.