EXCLUSIVE: In his broadcast pilot directing debut, Allen Hughes just signed on to direct the Fox drama pilot Gang Related, from 20th Century Fox TV and Imagine TV. Written by feature scribe Chris Morgan (Fast Five), Gang Related centers on a gang member sent in to infiltrate the San Francisco Police Department who rises through its ranks but must balance his obligations to his crime family with an increasing sense of loyalty to his new “family” — the SFPD’s Gang Task Force. Scott Rosenbaum serves as showrunner on the pilot, which he and Morgan exec produce with Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo.
How hard are Mark Wahlberg and director Allen Hughes working to promote their new film Broken City? Doing TV interviews in Philadelphia, the duo jumped right in and handled the broadcast’s traffic and weather report. They acquitted themselves nicely, but it seemed surprising that Wahlberg didn’t tell the newscasters to say hi to their mothers for him.
Allen Hughes spent the past two decades as one-half of The Hughes Brothers. He makes his solo feature directing debut with Broken City, a political corruption drama that stars Mark Wahlberg as an ex-cop who does a favor for the mayor (Russell Crowe) by following the pol’s philandering wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The results are murder and conspiracy, with Fox releasing the Emmett/Furla Films-financed drama January 18.
Allen and Albert Hughes burst on the feature scene with 1993’s Menace II Society, a wildly profitable slice of violent inner-city life. Together they’ve co-directed the Vietnam-era crime drama Dead Presidents, the Jack the Ripper thriller From Hell, the documentary American Pimp, and most recently the post-apocalyptic thriller The Book Of Eli. They also direct commercials and videos under their Underworld banner. I’ve known the siblings for about as long as they’ve been making features, and always found them to be strong individuals. I never quite understood the alchemy that goes into a two-man directing team, or what happens when one splits up. Who better than Allen Hughes to explain?
DEADLINE: After directing movies all these years as a team, what was the biggest challenge in not being able to rely on Albert?
ALLEN HUGHES: The biggest challenge had nothing to do with the movie-making process at all. When we took meetings, there were two of us. This is a crazy town and there are very cunning people. As the old saying goes, two heads are better than one. There was a certain amount of respect they paid us because there were two of us. And there was a shorthand we had in breaking things down to the last compound, and factoring in every angle. It made quite an impression to have two guys doing that. That’s what was missing this time around, but I felt comfortable with the moviemaking process. It’s naturally a one-man or -woman gig.
EXCLUSIVE: Allen Hughes will direct a remake of A Bittersweet Life, the 2005 Korean crime drama. The film is being fast tracked by Fox and New Regency. Anthony Peckham is being brought on to do the latest draft of the script.
Hughes, in his first film away from his brother Albert Hughes, just directed Broken City, which New Regency produced and Fox will distribute, and which was financed and produced by Emmett/Furla Films. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones. In A Bittersweet Life, the protagonist is an enforcer and manager of a hotel owned by a crime boss. The enforcer is charged with escorting the boss’s young mistress, who might be having an affair. While he’s told to kill both if in fact she is cheating, the enforcer instead beats up her lover while she watches, and makes them promise never to see each other again. The enforcer is by now smitten with the mistress, and it begins to color a series of dangerous moves he makes that put him at odds both with his boss and the boss’s crime rival. The tale becomes an exercise in vengeance as the enforcer goes up against his longtime boss.
Peckham most recently scripted Invictus and Sherlock Holmes, and is working on Yucatan and Deep Sea Cowboys. The scribe also did rewrite work on the superb Book Of Eli, which Hughes directed with his brother. Hughes is …
EXCLUSIVE: In one of its first moves since Brad Weston was named CEO and Arnon Milchan reinserted himself as the active head of the company, New Regency has come aboard the producing roster of Broken City, the Allen Hughes-directed drama that stars Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe. The film will be distributed through New Regency’s deal with 20th Century Fox. It was put together and funded by Emmett/Furla Films. In the Brian Tucker-scripted drama, Wahlberg plays a detective hired by the mayor to see if his wife is unfaithful. When her cheating partner turns up dead, the private eye devotes himself to exposing the mayor and uncovers a self-dealing real estate scandal involving the politician. Crowe plays the mayor. Wahlberg is producing through his Closest to the Hole banner; Stephen Levinson through Leverage; and Randall Emmett, George Furla and Hughes are also producing. Emmett brokered the deal.
While Milchan is finalizing a new credit line, he and Weston visited the agencies this week to let them know what they are up to. They want to turn the company into a filmmaker-driven company, engaging in the kind of films Milchan used to make, when he produced and funded pictures that included L.A. Confidential, Heat, Fight Club and JFK. New Regency is teamed with Paramount on the Darren Aronofsky-directed Biblical epic Noah, which finally got announced this week and which could start production early next year if John Logan’s rewrite of …
EXCLUSIVE: In a mid-six-figure against seven-figure deal, Emmett/Furla Films has acquired Expiration, an action script by Brian Tucker. He scripted Broken City, a drama that EFF is financing for a November 7 start date with Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe starring for director Allen Hughes. Expiration will be produced by Randall Emmett, George Furla and Tucker.
An ex-CIA operative-turned-hitman is poisoned on his final job. With 20 hours to live, he is determined to find out who poisoned him, and settle the score before he dies. It’s a big-scale $50 million-plus action film. EFF will finance it, and they will go out to directors and cast quickly to start production early next year. Aside from Tucker’s Broken City, Emmett/Furla starts production October 17 on Frozen Ground, which stars John Cusack as Alaska’s most notorious serial predator, Robert Hansen. In the span of 12 years, Hansen abducted more than 24 women and flew them into the Alaskan wilderness to hunt and murder them. Nicolas Cage plays the Alaskan State trooper on his tail, and Vanessa Hudgens plays the lone victim who escaped. At the recent Toronto Film Festival, Emmett/Furla Films unveiled a $250 million film find with Stepan Martirosyan and Remington Chase’s Envision Entertainment. Tucker’s repped by WME and Management 360.
Emmett/Furla Films, a company that has been growing more ambitious in the film financing and production arena, has teamed with Stepan Martirosyan and Remington Chase’s Envision Entertainment to establish a new $250 million revolving equity and debt fund to finance a new slate of star-driven commercial films. The fund was announced as EFF principal Randall Emmett comes to Toronto to make deals on films that include the Allen Hughes-directed political corruption drama Broken City, which stars Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe, and Frozen Ground, the fact-based thriller about a serial killer in Alaska that will star Nicolas Cage and John Cusack. Martirosyan and Chase are executive producers on the latter.
The fund carries no set restrictions on how and where capital is allocated, but it will continue EFF’s momentum. The company recently financed the Stephen Frears-directed Lay The Favorite — with a cast that includes Bruce Willis, Rebecca Hall, Vince Vaughn and Catherine Zeta-Jones — with films in the works that include the David Ayer-directed crime drama End of Watch with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anna Kendrick; Fire with Josh Duhamel, Willis and Rosario Dawson; and Freelancers, a drama that stars Robert De Niro, Forest Whitaker and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. EFF’s Emmett continues to be Jackson’s partner in Cheetah Vision Films, which has a deal at Lionsgate. EFF will make nine films this year.
Last year’s Toronto Film Festival started slow for acquisitions, but finished with a flurry of modest distribution deals that served notice the specialty film business had finally pulled out of its nosedive. This year’s festival hasn’t started and already there are fireworks. Deadline broke news yesterday that Harvey Weinstein would start a VOD business, making the acquisitions market for fringe films more competitive; and last night, I heard that a bidding battle had already broken out for the Steve McQueen-directed Shame, which should be sold by the time it screens Sunday. Fox Searchlight is the favorite, Sony Pictures Classics is in the mix and I’ve heard that The Weinstein Company is hovering. Bidding began right after its Telluride screening, and the mid-six figures thrown around yesterday will probably go higher. That’s huge, considering the movie is an unabashed NC-17, McQueen has final cut, and the sex-obsessed protagonist is unlikable. Oh, yeah, and the sellers want it released this year for Oscar consideration to capitalize on Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan’s Oscar-caliber performances.
Does this mean we’re in for a drunken buying frenzy? Hardly, buyers tell me. They are eager to see the films, but say there’s no title here that’s going to guarantee somebody will overpay. They are also mindful that many of last year’s deals turned out to be box office busts. More deals will be made than …
EXCLUSIVE: Mark Wahlberg is in negotiations to star in 2 Guns for Universal Pictures. The pic is based on a Steven Grant graphic novel, and has a script written by Blake Masters. The graphic novel is published by Boom! Studios. Marc Platt is producing along with Boom!’s Andrew Cosby and Ross Richie. The drama is about a DEA agent and an undercover naval intelligence officer who unwittingly investigate each other as each steals mob money. This has been a studio priority for some time. David O Russell had set his sights on writing a draft with the idea he might direct it with Vince Vaughn in one of the leads. Wahlberg’s repped by WME and Leverage.
Wahlberg is locked to star alongside Russell Crowe in Broken City, the Allen Hughes-directed noir drama that will shoot in November. Wahlberg is producing that Brian Tucker-scripted project with Stephen Levinson, Randall Emmett, George Furla and Hughes and Emmett/Furla Films is financing the $60 million film. Wahlberg just completed the Baltasar Kormakur-directed drama Contraband, which he and Levinson also produced with Working Title.
EXCLUSIVE: Russell Crowe is set to star alongside Mark Wahlberg in the Allen Hughes-directed independently financed noir drama Broken City. Production begins in November. Wahlberg plays an ex-cop-turned-private detective who is hired by the mayor (the role Crowe will play) to see if his wife is cheating on him. The private eye confirms those suspicions, and when the mayor’s wife’s cheating partner ends up dead, the private eye immerses himself in the mayor’s business and uncovers a real estate scandal that involves the pol dealing himself choice city-owned properties. The script by Brian Tucker made the 2008 Black List. The $60 million film will be financed by Emmett/Furla Films.
Wahlberg is producing through his Closest to the Hole banner; Stephen Levinson through Leverage; and Randall Emmett, George Furla and Hughes are also producing. Wahlberg and Levinson, partners on Entourage and Boardwalk Empire, just wrapped the drama Contraband. Crowe is costarring as Jor-El in the Superman reboot Man of Steel and just wrapped The Man With The Iron Fists.
EXCLUSIVE: Bradley Cooper is back in talks to star in The Silver Linings Playbook, as it looks like Mark Wahlberg will be leaving the film over what some were saying is a scheduling conflict. And Cooper’s Limitless costar Robert De Niro is also now in the conversation to join the cast. This is The Weinstein Company adaptation of the Matthew Quick novel that David O Russell will direct this fall. Cooper had reportedly been attached to the film last year, but more recently it looked like the star would be Russell’s The Fighter cohort Wahlberg. I’m told that talks are getting underway for Cooper to star with Jennifer Lawrence, who’ll play the female lead role.
Wahlberg will exit the movie because the production start was pushed and it now bumps up against another obligation. I’m still digging, but I think the other Wahlberg movie is Broken City, the noir drama that Wahlberg is poised to star in for director Allen Hughes. In that film, Wahlberg is in talks to play a cop-turned-private eye who gets caught up in a corruption scandal involving the city mayor. Russell Crowe has been offered the role of the mayor, so it sounds like that project is crystallizing with funding from Emmett/Furla Films. The scheduling complexity arose when Lawrence won the female lead over a crop of young actresses. Because she’s shooting The Hunger Games, she needed the picture to start later than expected, and that created the conflict for Wahlberg.
Mark Wahlberg and Allen Hughes are in early talks to team on Broken City, a noir-style drama about an ex-cop-turned-private detective who is hired by the mayor to see if his wife is cheating on him. When the mayor’s wife’s cheating partner ends up dead, the private eye immerses himself in the mayor’s business and uncovers a real estate scandal that involves dealing himself choice city-owned properties. Reps for Wahlberg and Hughes (who usually directs films with brother Albert, but each has been taking on solo projects as of late) caution that this is early going (the script had formerly been set up at Mandate), but the 2008 Black List script by Brian Tucker has now been set up to be financed by Emmett/Furla Films at a $60 million budget. Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, Randall Emmett, George Furla and Hughes will be the producers.
Emmett/Furla Films just financed with Wild Bunch the Stephen Fears-directed Lay The Favorite, starring Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rebecca Hall and Vince Vaughn, is about to begin production on the $25 million Fire With Fire with Willis and Josh Duhamel, will partner with Groundswell Productions to fund Captive and is in pre-production with Exclusive Media to co-finance the David Ayer-directed Jake Gyllenhaal-starrer End of Watch. Emmett is also partnered with Curtis Jackson in Cheetah Vision, which is in the middle of Fire With Fire. Wahlberg’s repped by WME and Leverage and Hughes by WME.
EXCLUSIVE: The twists and turns on the Warner Bros adaptation of anime artist Katsuhiro Otomo’s graphic novel Akira continue. Director Albert Hughes is exiting the movie, I’m told. Insiders say that it is an amicable creative differences parting of the ways. Warner Bros will try to put him on another movie right away (Hughes and his brother Allen directed the hit The Book of Eli, and WB topper Jeff Robinov is their former agent and is very close with them). Hughes is coming to Hollywood next week to take meetings with his WME reps and look at scripts, hoping to find his next movie at Warner Bros.
As for Akira, the intention of the studio is to keep the picture on a fast track, which means they will find a director quickly. The studio has been wrestling with the approach on the film for the past year.