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Universal Drops ‘Clue’; Gore Verbinski Moves Forward With Hasbro Cash And New Writers

Mike Fleming

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. Read More »

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Paramount Taps ‘M:I4′ Scribes Appelbaum & Nemec For ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’

Mike Fleming

After the writing team of Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec revived one Paramount franchise with their script for Mission: Impossible –Ghost Protocol, the studio has tapped them to rewrite another franchise Paramount is hoping to resuscitate. They will next go to work on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The scribes just did a rewrite of Now You See Me, which Louis Leterrier will direct for Summit Entertainment. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot is being produced by Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form. The scribes are repped by WME.

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Sony Pictures Acquires ‘Zombies Vs. Robots’ For Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes

By | Tuesday February 22, 2011 @ 12:36pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Hollywood’s fixation with robots and the undead has fueled a spec package deal that includes underlying rights to the IDW Zombies Vs. Robots. JT Petty has used the Ashley Wood/Chris Ryall-created comic as the basis for a spec script called Inherit the Earth. The film will be a co-production between Platinum Dunes, Circle of Confusion and IDW, and produced by Michael Bay, Brad Fuller, Andrew Form, Dave Alpert and Rick Jacobs. Ted Adams is exec producer. More than one studio was interested. The film focuses on a young girl who is the last survivor on earth. She is protected by a group of robots from a pack of zombies that are intelligent and evolved. The comic title is unrelated to Cowboys & Aliens, even though it sounds like it could be on the undercard. Transformers director Bay, of course, has more than the requisite experience with robots to turn this into something exceptional. Jonathan Kadin and Hannah Minghella will oversee for Sony. IDW’s title World War Robot is being developed by Jerry Bruckheimer.

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McG Negotiating Uni’s ‘Ouija’ Directing Deal

By | Tuesday January 4, 2011 @ 4:46pm PST
Mike Fleming

McG is the choice to direct Ouija, the Universal Pictures supernatural action adventure that will follow Battleship as the next Hasbro branded property to move into production. Scripted by Tron: Legacy writers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, the film is being produced by Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir along with Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form. Production will begin by the summer, for release November 12, 2012. McG’s about to begin negotiations.

The big-scale movie has had directors circling it since October, after Universal  moved back the Rob Letterman-directed Taylor Lautner-attached Stretch Armstrong’s start date, making Ouija the next Hasbro pic to follow Battleship, which opens May 18, 2012. Ouija, launched by Parker Brothers in 1966, has sold over 12 million copies. Hasbro acquired it in 1991.

McG is in post-production on the Fox comedy This Means War, which stars Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine. He’s repped by WME and Management 360.

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‘Ouija’ Conjures Up Directing Candidates

Mike Fleming

The next hot directing job: Ouija, which will follow Battleship as the next Hasbro branded property to move into production at Universal since the Rob Letterman-directed, Taylor Lautner-attached Stretch Armstrong got pushed back and probably won’t start until 2013. The studio is still talking to directors, but I’ve heard that the three candidates in the mix at the moment are Taken helmer Pierre Morel, The Losers helmer Sylvain White, and Scott Stewart, who just completed the Screen Gems pic Priest. The pic is being produced by Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir along with Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form. Universal is planning to get the film into production next summer, for release around Thanksgiving 2012. That will follow on the heels of the Peter Berg-directed Battleship, which opens May 18, 2012. Ouija‘s a big picture, with a budget targeted around $80 million-$100 million. The script is by Tron: Legacy writers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. A decision will be made in the next two weeks, because all three of those filmmakers are being courted for other jobs.

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Platinum Dunes Moves From CAA To WME

By | Wednesday September 1, 2010 @ 11:34am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller, and Andrew Form have moved their genre-making production company to WME. It’s a return to the fold after moving from  WME and spending the last year at CAA. WME reps Bay as a director.
The move comes at a time when Platinum Dunes is moving into bigger budget fare  after signing a first-look deal at Paramount Pictures. On their first seven films, Platinum Dunes averaged $18 million per film; the priciest was $30 million. They’ve had an enviable track record for covering their bets. Six of those films grossed their budgets on opening weekends, and two did so on opening night. Most were remakes of fright classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror, The Hitcher, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Read More »

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Paramount Pictures And Michael Bay Team For Bobby Glickert-Directed Alien Project

By | Tuesday July 27, 2010 @ 1:03pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount, which is already making the JJ Abrams-directed Steven Spielberg-produced Super 8, has acquired a spec package for another modestly budgeted extraterrestrial project. This one’s about alien abduction and the plan is to bring it in for about $12 million. And this one has as its producer Michael Bay, who’s currently shooting Transformers 3 for the studio. The deal was made on the basis of a two-minute teaser and a pitch. It will be directed by Bobby Glickert, and produced by Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners Brad Fuller and Andrew Form. They are out to writers to draft Glickert’s story. It’s being called the “Confidential Alien Project”, and it’s said to have things in common with Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity, both of which were shot on the cheap and released by Paramount. WME made the deal.

Glickert gets his first shot behind the camera on a feature after directing two horror shorts, Road to Moloch and The Descendent. He was a PA on Bay’s first Transformers film, and has been assistant to director Fast & Furious the past year and a half. He’s managed by Tariq Merhab.

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