BREAKING: Warner Bros and Zack Snyder have found their Wonder Woman. They’ve cast Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot in the iconic role and she will be part of Batman Vs. Superman, the film that will see Henry Cavill square off with Ben Affleck. Gadot has been in three Fast & Furious films, as well as Knight And Day and Date Night. Given that Warner Bros has bolstered its starpower with Affleck and has Cavill returning from the summer hit Man Of Steel, it makes sense to groom new stars in the supporting roles, the way that Marvel has done. All this is clearly gearing toward the long-awaited Justice League film, all based on the DC Comics characters.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is making a deal with Aaron Stockard to do script work on the Whitey Bulger movie that Ben Affleck plans to direct, with Matt Damon playing New England’s most notorious gangster and a man who has inspired numerous movie and TV bad guys, most recently played by James Woods on the Showtime series Ray Donovan. Affleck and Damon are producing through their Warners-based Pearl Street banner.
The script was originated by Boardwalk Empire creator and writer Terrence Winter, and the hiring of Stockard shows that Affleck and Damon are serious even though there is a rival project, Black Mass, that threatens to go into production first. Stockard worked with Affleck as a writer on his directing vehicles Gone Baby Gone and The Town.
Deadline broke the story on the film in late 2011, and the plan is for Affleck to also co-star along with Damon and his brother Casey Affleck, making it a real Good Will Hunting reunion.
Ben Affleck told Jimmy Fallon last night he thought he could handle any rough handling after Zack Snyder cast him as Batman in Warner Bros’ Batman vs. Superman pic. “I handle sh*t,” he cracked. Apparently he has rethought his stance:
Did you miss Deadline’s top TV stories of this week? Check them out here now:
Ben Affleck & Glenn Gordon Caron Crime Drama Gets Fox Pilot Order, Affleck To Helm
By Nellie Andreeva - EXCLUSIVE: One of the hottest filmmakers, Oscar winner Ben Affleck, and one of the best-regarded series creators, …
EXCLUSIVE: One of the hottest filmmakers, Oscar winner Ben Affleck, and one of the best-regarded series creators, Glenn Gordon Caron, have teamed for The Middle Man, a crime drama series. The project, which was taken out last month with five outlets pursuing across broadcast, cable and digital, has landed at Fox with a pilot order. In his TV directing debut, Affleck is set to helm the pilot written by Caron who will serve as showrunner. The two are executive producing through Affleck’s Pearl Street Films, whose Chay Carter will also serve as an executive producer. Like most of Affleck’s movies, The Middle Man, from Fox, Pearl Street and Caron’s Picturemaker Prods., takes place in his native Boston. Described as a classic Boston crime story, it is set in the 1960s and tells the story of Rudy MacAteer, an FBI agent charged with taking down the Italian mafia, and his confidential informant, Irish-American gangster Mickey Flood. MacAteer’s efforts inadvertently give rise to the Irish mob, as he finds himself bending the laws he is governed by.
The Middle Man‘s genesis goes back to the 2009 filming in Boston of Affleck’s The Town when he and Carter met writers Michael Yebba (Ordinary Man) and Emilio Mauro (God Only Knows). An early version of the project was developed but it was moving on a slow track while Affleck was busy with Argo. He and Caron were introduced by WME, which reps both, and Caron came on board this summer. He wrote The Middle Man on spec based on a story he developed with Yebba and Mauro who will serve as co-executive producers on the pilot. Casting is expected to begin immediately, with production slated to begin in early 2014.
Look out Eminem — Superman and Batman are heading to Detroit. The Michigan Film Office today announced that Warner Bros’ untitled Man Of Steel sequel has been awarded a state incentive of $35 million to film there in early 2014. The office says that the sequel — in which Ben Affleck debuts as Batman and Henry Cavill reprises his Superman role from this year’s blockbuster — is expected to have $131 million worth of in-state expenditures when it films in and around Motor City. The now-bankrupt Detroit will serve as both Metropolis and Gotham in the first feature team-up between the two top DC Comics heroes. “Detroit is a great example of a quintessential American city, and I know it will make the perfect backdrop for our movie,” said director Zack Snyder in a statement Thursday. “Detroit and the entire state of Michigan have been fantastic collaborators and we are looking forward to working together on this film.” The Man Of Steel sequel is set to be released July 17, 2015.
Missed them first time round? Check them out:
Squash Those Petitions! Why Ben Affleck As Batman Is Good Move For Warner Bros
By Mike Fleming Jr - OPINION: I was as surprised as anyone when Ben Affleck was named the new Batman by Warner Bros.
OPINION: I was as surprised as anyone when Ben Affleck was named the new Batman by Warner Bros. While I know I will be incurring the Wrath of Khan from a certain segment of Deadline readers for saying this, I do not share the alarm expressed by just about all 300+ Deadline commenters who’ve condemned the move and feel it’s awful for Affleck, Warner Bros, and humanity as a whole.
This is the biggest Affleck surprise I can recall since I saw Gone Baby Gone and was surprised to see that he was a helluva filmmaker. I guess what I’m saying is, Affleck has earned some rope from us; he knows what he is doing. I know he’s read the script, and he loves the concept. After watching Robert Downey Jr unexpectedly (at the time) establish himself as a global superstar after he auditioned for and won over Marvel for Iron Man, I see a lot of upside for Affleck to bolster his global viability, without a lot of career risk. This is a giant coup for the fledgling Greg Silverman-Sue Kroll regime at Warner Bros. Not only in their effort to create global hits, but also in their effort to strengthen studio ties to Affleck after the turbulent exit of Jeff Robinov (who’ll be looking to bring guys like Affleck over if and when he ever takes the top film job at Fox).
Even though I couldn’t understand all of the gravelly dialogue lines he delivered from beneath the Batmask, Christian Bale’s three turns as the Caped Crusader gave him global cred. They didn’t discount his other screen performances, either. That’s because, like Affleck and Downey, Bale wasn’t a newcomer when he took the job (newbies from George Reeves to Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh seem to get imprinted by the role and disappear after). His Batman persona also didn’t stop Oscar voters from giving Bale the trophy for his performance in The Fighter.
Affleck isn’t the same guy he was when he made 2003′s Daredevil, or when he hurt his career by starring with off-screen squeeze Jennifer Lopez in Gigli. After that, he smartly worked his tail off to write his career a second act as a writer-director who stars in his own films. That is his identity now. He’s the guy who directed, produced and starred in the reigning Best Picture Oscar winner Argo, and he has The Town and Gone Baby Gone under his belt. Name another filmmaker outside of Christopher Nolan whose last three films stack up with that kind of quality? Even if he moonlights as Batman, it doesn’t change that true identity. And I thought he did a great job acting in Argo and The Town.
Also, those painful career lessons made Affleck shrewdly selective. If this works, he will have created a great role he can return to in between his directorial outings, the same way that Downey will do for future Avengers installments. Affleck won’t have to carry these movies himself, and I’d be surprised if he made a freestanding Batfilm.
I have been waiting for Warner Bros to turn a corner with its DC Comics crimefighter universe, beyond Batman and Superman. They’ve taken a step in that direction even if it is by combining those two characters. Now, they have a bona fide leading man in the fold (because Henry Cavill could not pack a movie house right now if he wasn’t wearing the red cape). Suddenly, the next step, the inevitable Justice League film, looks intriguing and I bet more big names will enlist by the time that movie gets made. Sure, I’d feel better if Nolan was still steering it all, but a lot of people liked Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel. The DC franchise effort seems to be in good hands. And imagine if Affleck really likes the job enough to rescind his previous pass and direct that Justice League movie?
BREAKING: Warner Bros has set Scott Cooper to re-write and direct The Stand, the seminal post-apocalyptic Stephen King novel. That means that while the studio has Ben Affleck as its new Caped Crusader for Batman Vs. Superman, Affleck has withdrawn from The Stand. He had been set in late 2011 to write the script and direct. Affleck is busy directing and starring in his scripted adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s Live By Night for Warner Bros.
Warner Bros is teamed on the project with CBS Films, which is co-producing and co-presenting and possibly financing the project together. Dave Kajganich wrote the first draft. Published in 1978, the mammoth novel covered a biological apocalyptic disaster that decimated the population. The survivors then had to try and piece together a new form of humanity and it became a good vs evil struggle, with elements of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. King was at his best, both in creating depictions of the demise of civilization and in the arcs of characters good and bad who became important in a new order. The novel is so sprawling that I always wondered how it could be compressed into a feature, and it was turned into a solid miniseries. Now, Cooper will try to mount what for Warner Bros continues to be a big priority project.
Ben Affleck To Play Batman In Warner Bros’ Batman-Superman Pic; Studio Sets July 17, 2015 Release Date
Ben Affleck has two Oscars; now he’s getting a cape. Hot off a Best Picture win for his period thriller Argo, Affleck is stepping back in front of the camera to play Batman in Warner Bros‘ untitled sequel to Man Of Steel, which will bring the crimefighter together with Superman in a feature for the first time. The casting further solidifies Affleck’s relationship with Warners, which released Argo and is behind his next directorial effort Live By Night. Affleck’s July casting in David Fincher’s Gone Girl for Fox meant that Warners was allowing him to push back Live By Night, which he also stars in and is continuing to prep. The actor-filmmaker had been tight with Jeff Robinov, who left his post as Warner Brothers Pictures Group President in June after Kevin Tsujihara got the studio’s top job. When rumors of Robinov’s departure first surfaced, Affleck told Deadline’s Nikki Finke: “On the record, I don’t know what I would do if Jeff weren’t there. I don’t know from my view anyone else there who knows how to make movies. I would like to support him.”
Man Of Steel director Zack Snyder is expected to reimagine the Batman character, whose pairing with Superman he announced at Comic-Con last month. Snyder said he won’t be drawing from the Dark Knight series. “I’ve pored through the DC universe for a way to tell this thing,” he said. Affleck will star opposite Henry Cavill, who will reprise the role of Superman/Clark Kent. The film will also reunite Man Of Steel stars Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane. David S. Goyer, who scripted the first film and worked on the Dark Knight trilogy, will pen the sequel. Warner Bros has set the film to open worldwide on July 17, 2015.
2ND UPDATE: WARNER BROS SHAKE-UP – Jeff Robinov Quitting Movie Studio After No New Contract Offered And Kevin Tsujihara’s War Of Silence; Sue Kroll, Dan Fellman, And Greg Silverman May Become Triumvirate
FRIDAY 5 AM, 2ND UPDATE: I’ve learned that Jeff Robinov’s attorney Skip Brittenham officially notified Warner Bros on Thursday that it is in breach of the movie mogul’s contract, and he wants to negotiate his exit.
THURSDAY 6 PM UPDATED THROUGHOUT… EXCLUSIVE 2:45 PM: The destabilization of once rock-solid Warner Bros continues. I’ve learned that Jeff Robinov has decided to leave as Warner Brothers Pictures Group President after months of waiting in vain for Time Warner Jeff Bewkes and Warner Bros Chairman Kevin Tsujihara to offer him a new contract when his expires in December. Robinov is on vacation in New Mexico and this week enlisted both his attorney Skip Brittenham and his friend and former Warner Bros chairman Bob Daly to negotiate his exit. Robinov’s frustration follows Bewkes and Tsujihara placing him inside the ‘cone of silence’ in recent weeks ever since the home entertainment chief was appointed as the new Warner Bros CEO and soon to be chairman. No phone calls of congratulations came from Bewkes or Tsujihara to Robinov after last weekend’s record-setting global successful opening of Man Of Steel or any of the studio’s Summer 2013 big worldwide releases, The Great Gatsby and The Hangover Part III.
[EXCLUSIVE below: Ben Affleck and Baz Luhrmann reflect on their relationships with Robinov while Christopher Nolan's is detailed.]
Witnesses tell me that on the LA to NY plane trip to the Superman premiere June 10th, Tsujihara sat for the five hours not saying a word to Robinov who was sitting opposite him. This cruel behavior was in full view of not only Robinov’s execs but also of the Man Of Steel filmmakers like Christopher Nolan whom Robinov had brought to the studio. I’m told that at the Red Carpet gala at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, which should have been his triumph, Robinov left demoralized after just 15 minutes. This, after he and Tsujihara used to be close friends who went on family vacations together. “I’m constantly being marginalized. My job is shrinking day-to-day,” Robinov confided to a pal the other day. “Kevin is starting to push me out by both the things he’s doing and the responsibilities he’s assuming. It’ll end up with everyone reporting to him. The result is that people at the studio are wondering how they can benefit from this or how they can not get hurt by this. Sitting around is not something I can do, or, by the end of the year, the studio will be in a massive mess.”
I’ve learned that the structure being contemplated for Warner Bros Pictures is not for any one person to replace Robinov, who was a rarity in recent Hollywood in that he did both the business and creative top job at a studio. Instead, his Warner Bros Pictures executives Sue Kroll, President of Worldwide Marketing; Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution; and Greg Silverman, President of Production, would run the studio as a triumvirate under Tsujihara who will take over the business side even though he has no such movie experience.
To understand how Warner Bros Pictures filmmakers may feel about today’s developments, my conversations below may provide some intel. When rumors about Jeff Robinov being forced out as President of Warner Bros Pictures Group first surfaced this spring (Related: NEW WARNER BROS SHAKE-UP: Jeff Robinov Quitting Movie Studio After No New Contract Offered), I spoke to Ben Affleck to get his thoughts on what he called their “dream relationship” during and after The Town and Argo:
On the record. We have history. After Gone Baby Gone  was well regarded but didn’t make money. The phone was not ringing off the hook. but Jeff called. ‘I’m a fan. I loved the film. Let’s sit down and have coffee. I’d really like you to direct movies for us. What do you want to do.” I went from no scripts to 15 Warners’ scripts, he was giving them all to me. He was the only person at a studio doing that. I also have a great relationship with Sue Kroll. But with Jeff, I never hear from anybody to make changes. I’m not told, ‘It tested poorly. Fix it.’ He sticks with me through screenings. I needed $1 million for a couple of reshoots on The Town. ‘You’re the horse I bet on,’ he tells me. ‘I believe in filmmakers.’ It’s a dream relationship.
When George [Clooney] moved his deal out of Warner Bros, all the projects didn’t move with him. Jeff gave me the script for Argo after calling George and Grant [Heslov] to see how I’d hit off with them. I stayed on budget. But I always felt if I had a problem I could call Jeff. Argo was viewed as a very challenging movie itself, skewing older when the public wants a superhero movie. But those two guys – jeff and Sue – really found a way to sell the movie. Sue supported by Jeff was 100% on board. They’re almost a symbiotic relationship. It was obviously an incredible year but if they wouldn’t have bet on us, if they’d not spent a lot of money on us, we wouldn’t have won the Oscar. It was a wonderful experience and why I want to support Jeff.
I’ve seen Jeff’s sensibility change into his job, gracefully and gradually leading with a lot of authority. I have spoken with [Jeff] Bewkes and Kevin [Tsujihara] and Barry [Meyer] but not in great detail as things are evolving at the studio. I’ve kept abreast. I’ve talked about it to Jeff. He’s what I really care about. How we’re going to make it down the road or get along without him I don’t know. Jeff naturally was very disappointed when he didn’t get the top job. He and I have spent a lot of time cultivating this relationship and I never thought that would have culminated in this career high or the most incredible year of my life.
Again, on the record, I don’t know what I would do if Jeff weren’t there. I don’t know from my view anyone else there who knows how to make movies. I would like to support him. So many places are filled with frustrations and run by people who haven’t been sure-footed or have the right taste. Hopefully, it’s about taste. Not everybody has it. Picking Zack Snyder was not obvious. Being able to take risks and make decisions not supported by conventional wisdom. Studios have the power and don’t often cede the power to the director.”
I also received this on-the-record statement from Baz Luhrmann at the same time, which was right before The Great Gatsby hit theaters in May:
Last year, when we were moving towards a Christmas release date for Gatsby, Jeff Robinov said to me, ‘Perhaps you’ll be able to make the release date. But will it be the movie that you want it to be? If you had more time to work on the visual effects and music, would you have a better chance of realizing your vision for the film?’ Jeff was resolute that the most important thing was for me to do my best possible work, and by moving ‘Gatsby’ to the summer, he gave me the time and resources to do it. He showed incredible leadership in not being concerned with the possible media controversy about moving the release date; his sole concern was that Gatsby be the best film that it could be. For which I’ll always be profoundly grateful.
But no Warner Bros Pictures film relationship is more important than with Christopher Nolan. According to several accounts, Robinov’s relationship with Nolan began right after Memento was released in March 2001. Within a month, Nolan’s agent Dan Aloni called Robinov and told him he should meet with the helmer. At first Nolan was going to direct Troy (released in 2004) but wasn’t feeling it. With that Robinov asked if there was anything else Nolan wanted to do – and learned that the director had always had an interest in Batman. At the time, the studio didn’t have a take on a reboot of its lucrative DC Comics franchise. But Nolan came in and brilliantly pitched Robinov who immediately set up a meeting with then studio chief Alan Horn who also bought into it.