Annapurna Pictures has optioned A House In The Sky, Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout’s memoir about her 2008 abduction by rebel terrorists in Somalia, with aims to develop the project as a starring vehicle for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo‘s Rooney Mara.
The New York Times bestselling memoir tracks Lindhout’s 15 months in captivity and the psychology, motivations, and desperate extremism of her captors who kept the 27-year-old reporter in chains, nearly starved, and subjected to abuse including torture and rape. Lindhout was taken at gunpoint in Mogadishu in August 2008 along with Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan, translator Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi, and two drivers while en route to conduct interviews at a refugee camp. While Elmi and the drivers were released in January of 2009, Lindhout and Brennan weren’t freed until their families paid ransom in November of that year after the two had spent 460 days in captivity.
Lindhout later turned her experience into A House In The Sky, co-written by Sara Corbett. Mara and her team found the book and brought it to Annapurna, whose Megan Ellison will produce alongside Mara. Read More »
Oscar-nominated American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook producer Jonathan Gordon has joined Megan Ellison‘s Annapurna Pictures as the shingle’s new President of Production. Gordon previously oversaw production during his 15-year run at Miramax Films, where he exec produced Good Will Hunting, Kevin Smith’s Dogma, and George Clooney’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. He also served as President of Production at Universal Pictures under Stacey Snider. Gordon’s history with director David O. Russell began with the filmmaker’s Flirting With Disaster and led to his new position at Annapurna, which arose after he worked with Ellison, Charles Roven, and Richard Suckle on Golden Globe winner and Best Picture Oscar nominee American Hustle. Read More »
On the eve of Cannes, the international sales arm of Megan Ellison‘s Annapurna Pictures is rebranding. Formerly known as Panorama Media, the company will henceforth go by the moniker Annapurna International. The rebrand is an effort to streamline the financing and international sales arm with Annapurna’s day-to-day production and finance business under one name, Ellison and Annapurna International Head of Sales Kim Fox said today. In Cannes, Fox will start sales on American Express, a project produced by Annapurna Pictures and Charlize Theron‘s Denver & Delilah. Theron is in negotiations to star with Nash Edgerton directing. Annapurna International will continue to handle titles from the mother company as well as third party projects. Also on the Cannes slate is John Krasinski’s The Hollars with Krasinski, Anna Kendrick, Richard Jenkins and Margo Martindale starring. Ellison backed Cannes Competition title Foxcatcher which has its official bow next Monday. Sony Pictures Classics will release it on November 14 in the U.S.
Mark Boal, the journalist-turned-filmmaker who teamed with Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, has formed Page 1. The production company will hatch films and TV that will be backed by Megan Ellison‘s Annapurna Pictures. She financed Zero Dark Thirty, which Boal wrote and produced. Boal will be CEO and he has named as president Hugo Lindgren, a former editor of The New York Times Magazine and editorial director of New York Magazine. Matthew Budman will be the Annapurna executive overseeing Page 1; he worked closely with Boal on Zero Dark Thirty. Jonathan Leven will be a development/production exec. Read More »
David O. Russell‘s American Hustle just crossed the $200M for Sony Pictures and Annapurna today. The film which has received 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and all four acting categories has a domestic gross of $138.7M domestic with another $64M internationally. The Atlas Entertainment production has opened to No. 1 internationally in six territories, including UK, Australia, and New Zealand and is expanding this weekend. It is currently in 25 markets and will open in Brazil this weekend. The film has already become David O. Russell’s highest grosser surpassing Silver Linings Playbook ($132.1M) domestically last weekend. American Hustle has also now become the highest-grossing film, both domestically and internationally, for Annapurna Pictures. Its Panorama Media, is the sales rep internationally. The production company has been having a good year with two Oscar nominated Best Picture (the other being Her). American Hustle is also nominated for 10 BAFTAs which will hand out their awards on Sunday. The ensemble picture stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence. Producer Charles Roven, who produced with Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, and Jonathan Gordon, also received his first Oscar nom on the film. American Hustle was released limited on December 13 and went wide during Christmas.
EXCLUSIVE: Marc Butan, who runs Megan Ellison’s foreign sales division Panorama Media, is leaving to join sales-finance-production outfit Sierra/Affinity as co-president. He will share the president role with Sierra/Affinity’s Marc Schaberg who will be co-president and COO. Sierra/Affinity’s Nick Meyer and Butan worked together previously at Lionsgate.
At Sierra/Affinity, Butan will oversee feature film development and production activities. The idea is to have him build a slate of wide-release, director-driven commercial films with domestic and global appeal that will complement the slates built by partners OddLot Entertainment and Bold Films. As part of that, Butan will bring with him films from Panorama’s production slate: his new company will rep international rights to James Gray’s Lost City Of Z, John Hillcoat’s Triple Nine, Angela Workman’s adaptation of The Zookeeper’s Wife and Pride, Prejudice And Zombies.
Butan and sales exec Kim Fox have run Panorama since its launch at Cannes in 2012 (among its first slate projects was an untitled Spike Jonze movie that ended up being Oscar Best Picture nominee Her and last year’s Zero Dark Thirty. Backed by Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures, the unit’s goal was to ”produce, finance and arrange for worldwide distribution on a slate of filmmaker-driven projects with broad commercial appeal.” Fox will remain to run Panorama, which will handle sales of all of Annapurna’s titles as well as third-party titles but move away from production. ”As Panorama currently focuses on sales, we will continue to work closely with Marc … Read More »
Skydance Prods. and Annapurna Pictures, the companies behind the upcoming Terminator film trilogy, are expanding the franchise to television with a TV series to be done in conjunction with the first rebooted Terminator film slated for release in 2015. The series will be written and exec produced by feature scribes Zack Stentz and Ashley Miller (X-Men: First Class, Thor), with the writers of the upcoming Terminator movie Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier serving as executive producers.
The series will follow a critical moment from the original 1984 Terminator movie, taking it in a completely different direction that the film. Plot details about the upcoming Terminator movie are being kept under wraps, but it too is expected to be tied to the first movie. As the rebooted film trilogy and the new television series progress, the two narratives will be designed to intersect with each other. (Thus the head-on involvement in the series of the new film’s writers Kalogridis and Lussier.) For now, Paramount, which is Skydance and Annapurna’s partner on the feature trilogy, is not involved in the TV series, but that could change down the line. Paramount is returning to television, recently relaunching a TV division. Skydance too recently expanded into television, landing its first series, The Manhattan Project, on WGN America. The companies’ plan to intertwine the narratives of movies and TV series is reminiscent of Marvel’s efforts with Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. … Read More »
Sony and Annapurna Pictures are co-financing and producing Sausage Party, an R-rated animated film written by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg & Kyle Hunter & Ariel Shaffir. Rogen and Goldberg wrote This Is The End, the end-of-the-world comedy that just passed $100 million at the domestic box office. The raunchy animated movie centers one sausage’s quest to discover the truth about his existence. After falling out of a shopping cart, the hero sausage and his new friends embark on a journey through the supermarket to get back to their aisles before the 4th of July sale. The story is from Rogen, Goldberg and Jonah Hill, and Hill will executive produce with Hunter, Shaffir and James Weaver. Conrad Vernon (Shrek 2, Monsters Vs. Aliens) and Greg Tiernan will direct and Vernon is producing with Annapurna’s Megan Ellison, Rogen and Goldberg. Sony is releasing worldwide and eyeing a 2015 date.
Annapurna Pictures and Color Force have acquired the feature film rights to Maria Semple‘s best-selling novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette about the disappearance of a once-famous Los Angeles architect-turned recluse. Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (500 Days Of Summer) will pen the screenplay. Semple will serve as executive producer along with Color Force’s Bryan Unkeless and Annapurna’s Ted Schipper. Jacobson and partner Brad Simpson will produce alongside Annapurna Pictures’ Megan Ellison. Told via letters, emails, texts and other documents, the novel tells the story of a brilliant but slightly unhinged woman who suddenly vanishes, leaving her Microsoft-guru husband and devoted 8th-grade daughter determined to find her. The film rights were negotiated by UTA and Anna Stein of Aitken Alexander for Semple. CAA negotiated on behalf of Neustadter and Weber, who are also represented by Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment and attorney Sean Marks of Myman Greenspan.
EXCLUSIVE: Nearly 18 months after Megan Ellison pledged over $20 million for the rights to finish The Terminator‘s humanity vs the Skynet cyborgs storyline with a new series of films, she has finally closed the complicated rights deal with Pacificorp. Other than the fact no progress has been made all this time on a script, the surprise here is Ellison has enlisted her brother, David Ellison, to be her financial and creative partner. There is still no studio attached, but future Terminator films will be done as a co-production between her Annapurna Pictures and his Skydance Productions. The Ellisons will produce, while Dana Goldberg, Paul Schwake and Ted Schipper will be exec producers.
Even though Pacificorp spent $29.5 million several years ago to win the rights after Halcyon turned them over to bankruptcy court, insiders tell me that the big numbers in place 18 months ago have been adjusted downward. That is because of the uncomfortable specter of a ticking clock that has continued to wind down as no forward progress was being made. New copyright laws allow for North American rights to The Terminator to revert back to creator James Cameron in 2019 (that happens after 35 years, and The Terminator was 1984). While that law hasn’t been tested in the courts, no major film company would want to move forward on a project with a potentially catastrophic rights crisis looming. So the original pricey deal — made with the expectations there would be three films — was scaled down because the reality is they might only get to make two installments. Four films have been made so far, the first two directed by Cameron, another by Jonathan Mostow and the last, 2009′s Terminator Salvation, helmed by McG. Read More »
BREAKING: Charlize Theron‘s Denver & Delilah Films, CJ Entertainment, and Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures are joining to produce an adaptation by William Monahan of Park Chan-wook’s Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, the last in Park’s revenge trilogy. The original 2005 film centered on a woman who for reasons of her own completes a prison term for a murder she did not commit, re-emerging to punish the killer and avenge the dead. “This will be very American — and very unexpected,” Monahan said in the release announcing the deal. “Park is a genius; it’s the Everest of adaptations and I’ve got blood in my teeth to do it.” Theron will star and produce with Denver & Delilah partner Beth Kono, Annapurna’s Ellison and Chelsea Barnard, CJ Entertainment’s Ted Kim, and Monahan. Justine Suzanne Jones of Monahan’s Henceforth Pictures, AJ Dix of Denver & Delilah, Ted Schipper of Annapurna, and Miky Lee of CJ will executive produce. Ellison and Annapurna will finance.
Theron is attached to John Madden’s comedy Murder Mystery, most recently appeared in Young Adult and Prometheus, and is in the upcoming Mad Max: Fury Road. Monahan, recently completed the screenplay for The Gambler for Martin Scorsese at Paramount and Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. Both are repped by WME.
EXCLUSIVE: UPDATED: In a pre-holiday bidding battle, Annapurna Pictures has paid $200,000 vs. $500,000 (escalating to $1 million depending on the budget) for Where’d You Go Bernadette, a new serio-comic novel by Maria Semple. Color Force’s Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson will produce with Megan Ellison. I’ve also been told Annapurna Pictures is in negotiations with the writers of (500) Days Of Summer, Scott Neustadter & Michael Weber to adapt the book. The book focuses on a woman named Bernadette in Seattle, a mother who has gone missing, leaving her teenage daughter to pick up the pieces. The book is told from a number of vantage points, including emails and school letters, a stylish flourish that impressed buyers. The deal was made by UTA, for Semple and her lit agent Anna Stein at Aitken Alexander.
The book hatched a bidding battle, and the agents assigned the books to Hunger Games producer Jacobson and Twilight Saga producers Temple Hill. I’ve heard that CBS Films and New Regency were in the middle of this too, but Ellison, who financed Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, was not to be denied. It has gone to press four times and there are 60,000 copies in all formats (including e-books sold and hard copies in print). Semple also has been a writer on several TV shows including Arrested Development and Mad About You.