EXCLUSIVE: Olympus Has Fallen star Gerard Butler is in discussions to join Game Of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in Gods Of Egypt, the Summit Entertainment film to be directed by Alex Proyas. The script was written by Burk Sharpless & Matt Sazama, the team behind Universal’s Dracula pic. I’m told Butler is in talks to play Set, a god of the desert, storms, and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion. In Egyptian mythology, he killed and mutilated his own brother Osiris. Horus, the son of Osiris, sought revenge against Set for the killing of his father. Coster-Waldau will play Horus. They have both thrived in period macho turns, Butler in 300 and Coster-Waldau as Jamie Lannister in Game Of Thrones. Sounds like a good mano a mano match shaping up here if Butler’s deal closes. He’s repped by CAA and Alan Siegel Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: In his first foray into network television, Alex Proyas, director of such features as I, Robot, The Crow, and Dark City, is set to direct and executive produce Evolve, a drama project for ABC written and executive produced by Jaime Paglia, co-creator/executive producer of Syfy’s long-running series Eureka. Paglia’s sci-fi background will come in handy for Evolve, which is based on the Toxic City trilogy of novels by British Fantasy Award- and Bram Stoker Award-winning author Tim Lebbon. Evolve is set two years after a mysterious biological agent is released over Los Angeles when the city is still deemed too toxic to inhabit and remains sealed off from the rest of society. A small group of ordinary citizens outside the quarantined zone, who do not believe the government’s story, embark on a mission to uncover the truth of what happened to their family members who were inside the affected area. What they discover is a world where once-ordinary humans now have extraordinary abilities and powerful government forces seek to destroy them.
EXCLUSIVE: Constantin Film has acquired Joe Golem And The Drowning City, a graphic novel by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. Alex Proyas is set to adapt and direct the live-action feature, which will be shot in his native Australia. The book was published in March by St. Martin’s Press and is the second collaboration by Mignola and Golden, who also teamed on Baltimore.
The title is a supernatural-steampunk illustrated novel that follows an orphaned teenage girl, an aging magician, a lunatic scientist, a Victorian occult detective, and the stalwart sidekick, Joe Golem—a man whose strange dreams hint of a history he has forgotten–as they struggle for the fate of an alternate 1970s lower Manhattan. In this vision, lower Manhattan sank into the water during a catastrophic earthquake in 1925, leaving those unwilling or unable to abandon it to make a new life in streets turned to canals.
The Gotham Group’s Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Eric Robinson are producing with Mystery Clock’s Proyas and Peter Donaldson. Mignola and Golden are exec producing. CAA reps Proyas.
Alex Proyas is making a deal to direct Gods Of Egypt for Summit Entertainment, and write the script with Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. Set amongst the pyramids and sphinxes, the film is the story of a common thief and a god on a magical quest. Basil Iwanyk is producing through Thunder Road with Proyas and his Mystery Clock Cinema banner.
Proyas is casting his next project, The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag, for Red Granite. He previously directed Knowing for Summit. He has also helmed I, Robot and Dark City. The scribes’ credits include Dracula Year Zero and a futuristic Jungle Book.
Alex Proyas hasn’t had much luck lately. The last two films he tried to make, Dracula Year Zero and Paradise Lost, both got scratched for budget reasons. He’s just aligned himself to The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag, based on a Robert Heinlein novella from 1942. Here’s hoping he gets to the start line this time, with funding from upstart company Red Granite.
Los Angeles, CA – April 10, 2012 – It was announced today that Los Angeles based film production, finance and international sales company Red Granite Pictures will fully finance and co-produce Alex Proyas’ “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag” with Mythology Entertainment, Phoenix Pictures and Mystery Clock Cinema.
Producers are Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland (Red Granite), Bradley Fischer (Mythology Entertainment), Mike Medavoy and Arnie Messier (Phoenix Pictures), Alex Proyas (Mystery Clock Cinema) and Vince Gerardis. Joe Gatta, Topher Dow and Vincent Sieber are executive producers.
Proyas (“Dark City,” “I, Robot,” “Knowing”) will direct “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag.” The film will shoot in Australia where Proyas is a resident and operates his production company, Mystery Clock Cinema. Producers are eyeing a fall 2012 start date.
In “Hoag,” the title character is struck one evening with the realization that he has no memory of what he does during the day. Distraught over his predicament, and particularly concerned that he might be engaged in some nefarious activities, he contacts a husband and wife detective agency and asks them to surreptitiously
EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures has halted plans to begin production early next year on Paradise Lost, the epic-sized Alex Proyas-directed film about the battle between good and evil that is inspired by the John Milton poem. Bradley Cooper had been set to play Lucifer, Benjamin Walker to play the archangel Michael, and Diego Boneta playing Adam and Camilla Belle Eve, with a host of other actors lined up for the action epic. I’m told that the film isn’t scrapped; rather, Legendary’s Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni and producer Vincent Newman will continue developing it to rework a budget that had passed the $120 million mark by 10% or 15%. The picture has crewed up for an Australia shoot and the talent and below the line is learning about the postponement right now. Films including Moneyball and American Gangster had their plugs pulled within a month of production and bounced back, but it is always a shock when a large film has its start date scratched so close to production, even if it is temporary.
I’m told by insiders that this process is being likened to The Lone Ranger, which Disney had originally scheduled to begin production last fall, until Deadline revealed last August that it had been unplugged abruptly, with Disney threatening to scrap it because the studio feared the budget would turn into a runaway train and could sail past $250 million. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore …
Phoenix Co-President Bradley Fischer Forms Mythology With Scribes Laeta Kalogridis And James Vanderbilt
EXCLUSIVE: Longtime Phoenix Pictures co-president Bradley J. Fischer has formed Mythology Entertainment in partnership with screenwriter/producers Laeta Kalogridis and James Vanderbilt. With backing from private investors, Mythology will develop and package projects internally before taking them to studios and financiers. The scope is film, TV and digital, and the slate will include projects scripted by Kalogridis and Vanderbilt. Mythology starts the venture with an Antoine Fuqua-directed Showtime documentary on Death Row Records mogul Suge Knight, and a feature rights deal to late author John Bellairs’ Lewis Barnavelt series of gothic horror novels for kids. Supernatural creator Eric Kripke has been hired to write the script and produce.
First published in 1973, the book series has spanned 12 volumes, with illustrations from artist Edward Gorey. The books began with The House with a Clock in its Walls, which introduced the orphaned protagonist Lewis as he moves into his uncle’s spooky old Victorian mansion. Strange noises lead the lad to find secret passageways, hidden rooms and the unsettling discovery his peculiar uncle is a warlock. The boy finds his spell book and unwittingly resurrects an evil wizard who sets in motion a chain of supernatural events tied to an ancient secret hidden within the mansion’s walls. After Bellairs died, the series was continued by Brad Strickland.
Castings continue on Legendary Entertainment’s Paradise Lost, the action- and effects-centered take on John Milton’s epic poem being directed by Alex Proyas. The latest: Diego Boneta, who is playing the lead in New Line’s musical Rock Of Ages, has been cast as Adam. He will play opposite Camille Belle, whom Deadline reported is playing Eve. Bradley Cooper is Lucifer and Benjamin Walker plays the archangel Micheal in the film, which tells the biblical tale of the battle between good and evil that was the war that began all wars. Production is slated to begin in January.
EXCLUSIVE: I hear that Camilla Belle is Legendary Entertainment and Alex Proyas’ choice for the lead role of Eve in Paradise Lost. She would join Bradley Cooper as Lucifer and Benjamin Walker, who plays the archangel Michael in the action epic battle between good and evil that is inspired by the John Milton poem. Belle starred in 10,000 B.C. and before that played Daniel Day-Lewis’ daughter in The Ballad of Jack and Rose. Let’s see if her deal works, but this is a role a lot of young actresses wanted. She sparks the war that began all wars for the future of mankind. Belle is repped by WME. Warner Bros is distributing and eyeing a fourth quarter 2013 release.
BREAKING: Legendary Entertainment chairman and CEO Thomas Tull has promoted Jon Jashni to president, a new post. Jashni, a veteran executive and producer who joined Tull six years ago, will continue to function as chief creative officer and has been a big part of Legendary’s evolution from a co-financier of Warner Bros films to an enterprise that is generating its own films that are released by Warner Bros. Legendary’s rise has been fueled by being partner in such films as The Hangover, Clash of the Titans, the Chris Nolan Batman trilogy and Inception, as well as the upcoming Superman reboot Man of Steel. Tull’s company is generating its own tent pole films, including the Guillermo del Toro-directed alien-invasion film Pacific Rim that stars Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba, and a reboot of Godzilla. Jashni is a producer on those films as well as the Alex Proyas-directed Paradise Lost that will star Bradley Cooper and Benjamin Walker, and the Sergey Bodrov-directed The Seventh Son, which stars Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore and Ben Barnes.
EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures is negotiating with Benjamin Walker to play the archangel Michael in Paradise Lost, the action epic battle between good and evil that is inspired by the John Milton poem. Walker, who just wrapped the title role in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, will go mano a mano against Bradley Cooper’s Lucifer in what I’m told is the war that began all wars. After being cast out of Heaven, Lucifer mounts an army that battles the forces of good, and the film will have cutting-edge visual effects that will make these battles resemble 300 meets Lord of the Rings — but with winged warriors. While Warner Bros is finalizing a release date, I’m told Paradise Lost is likely to reach theaters in fourth-quarter 2013.
Production will begin in January in Sydney, which will give Cooper time to star alongside Jennifer Lawrence in the David O Russell-directed The Silver Linings Playbook for The Weinstein Company.
Paradise Lost is a sprawling fantasy epic that has taken seven years of development to get right. It was originally scripted by Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi, with subsequent drafts by Stuart Hazeldine and Lawrence Kasdan, and the latest draft by Ryan Condal. Paradise Lost is being produced by Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni, and Vincent Newman (Red Dawn). The film’s logistics are still being worked out with Digital Domain, but the picture is likely to …
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has quietly dropped out of Clue, one of the seven Hasbro games properties the studio contracted to make into movies in a ground-breaking six-year exclusive deal signed in 2008. Clue becomes the third project out of seven to be dropped by Universal (Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering were also kicked to the curb), but none of those projects are dead. In the case of the murder mystery board game Clue, Hasbro is funding the development and producing the film with Gore Verbinski’s Blind Wink. Verbinski, director of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, Rango and the upcoming Lone Ranger, still plans to direct Clue, and he and Blind Wink’s John Krauss are producing with Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir.
They’ve just hired Flash Gordon scribes Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama to write the Clue script. The writers will draft a take that Verbinski and his fellow producers came up with that retains the murder mystery spirit of the board game, but broadens the setting to a global stage. Beyond scripting Flash Gordon for Sony Pictures, Sharpless and Sazama are redrafting Dracula Year Zero. That project’s still hanging on at Universal, after being halted just short of the start line because of a high budget, when Alex Proyas was directing and Sam Worthington was going to star. ICM reps the writers.
Is all this a clue that Universal no longer wants to roll the dice on board game movies? Insiders say no. Rather, they tell me that Universal and Hasbro gradually narrowed their focus to the four films that most made sense for the studio: Battleship, the Peter Berg-directed summer 2012 action movie that stars Taylor Kitsch and Liam Neeson, with Universal just releasing its first trailer (below); Stretch Armstrong, which has Rob Letterman directing and Twilight Saga’s Taylor Lautner attached to play the rubbery title character; Candy Land, which is being written by Kung Fu Panda 2 co-writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who’ve described the film as Lord of the Rings, with edibles; and Ouija, which has McG attached to direct and Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form producing with Ian Bryce and Hasbro’s Goldner and Schneir.
EXCLUSIVE: The producers of the 300 spinoff known as Xerxes have retitled their film 300: Battle of Artemisia, and they have also narrowed their focus of potential directors to two: Noam Murro and Jaume Collet-Serra. The film, a spinoff to 300, is one that the film’s original director Zack Snyder was going to direct. That was until Warner Bros and producer Chris Nolan offered him Man of Steel, and Snyder and wife and producing partner Debra Snyder put Xerxes aside and moved on to rebooting the Superman franchise because Warner Bros needed it. The Snyders have been all over this director selection process. Snyder had written a script with his 300 cohort Kurt Johnstad. Like 300, it is based on a Frank Miller graphic novel that will be shot with the kind of stylized period green-screen action visuals that became the signature of 300 and helped the film gross $456 million worldwide. Xerxes was the Persian leader seen in 300. Miller’s graphic novel told the story of how Xerxes became this peculiar god-like entity. That mythology goes back to the death of his father, Darius, from injuries sustained at the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. Darius had told his son not to attack the Greeks because they can only be punished by a god, and so Xerxes tried to transform himself into a deity to gain revenge. The new pic’s produced by the Snyders, Mark Canton, Gianni Nunnari, Thomas Tull and Bernie Goldmann. The prime mover on the film has been Legendary Pictures, which made the original with Warner Bros and has taken the lead on several big-ticket pictures since Tull recapitalized his producing/financing company. That includes the Guillermo del Toro-directed Pacific Rim with Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba and the Alex Proyas-directed Paradise Lost with Bradley Cooper.
The start of Summit Entertainment’s trajectory began when the mini-major convinced Stephenie Meyer to sell her Twilight Saga book series after she’d been left so frustrated by how Paramount Pictures let it languish. Was it a billion dollar lucky break? As the vampire-werewolf series that fueled Summit’s recent $750 million refinancing comes to a close, Summit has bet heavily on books for its future franchises. Under production chief Erik Feig, Summit has been as prolific a buyer of books as any studio in town over the past two years. Most are conducive to young casts.
As Deadline predicted, Summit Entertainment has closed a screen rights deal for Veronica Roth’s young adult novel Divergent, which will be published by the HarperCollins imprint Katherine Tegen Books. It takes place in a futuristic dystopia where society is divided into factions as kids are categorized based on human traits. A teenage girl and guy rebel against the labels, which is a very dangerous thing to do. The buying community has compared it to The Hunger Games in tone and violent content. Red Wagon’s Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher will produce with Pouya Shahbazian. The latter works for FinePrint Productions and stirred up some dust in the early deal brokering with what I’m told were high demands like 35% of the fee from whatever established producer came onto the picture, even though the book fell …
EXCLUSIVE: With Alex Proyas poised to produce and potentially direct, Summit Entertainment has just closed a deal for screen rights to AMP, a near-future science fiction thriller novel by Daniel H. Wilson. The novel is set in a world where the technology designed to make the disabled whole, turns them into supermen. Deal was low six against seven figures.
It’s the second major happening for Wilson this fall, after Steven Spielberg committed to direct his novel Robopocalypse, about an apocalyptic robot uprising, for DreamWorks. Spielberg will start shooting the Drew Goddard-scripted film in January, 2012 and Disney’s Touchstone will distribute in 2013.
Wilson’s book has been at the center of an auction that has played out over the past several weeks. I’m told that aside from Summit, Working Title and Paramount also chased a novel that has a mix of scifi action and political allegory reminiscent of District 9. Wilson took the Summit deal because he was impressed by Proyas, who’ll shoot the picture at a modest budget in Australia under his Mystery Clock Cinema banner. Wilson is writing the book, and the plan is to hire a screenwriter who’ll take his novel pages and draft them into script form, the way Goddard did while Wilson was scribbling away on Robopocalypse.
AMP was acquired by Doubleday, which will publish Robopocalypse in June, 2011. Stephen Schneider (Area 51) will be an executive producer along …