Check out the top film stories you missed on Deadline this week:
William Hurt Pulls Out Of ‘Midnight Rider’ Movie
By Anita Busch and Jen Yamato
William Hurt, who was set to play Gregg Allman in the feature film Midnight Rider, has pulled out of the movie. The exit of its star casts even more doubt over whether the Randall Miller-directed biopic will move forward following the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones during filming in February in Georgia.
‘Midnight Rider’ Producer Made Controversial Comments About Local Filming Days Before Sarah Jones Death
By Jen Yamato
The weekend before the February 20 train accident that killed camera assistant Sarah Jones, Midnight Rider producer Jody Savin made controversial public comments at a meeting of local production crew in which she touted her company’s methods and complained about the Savannah film commission for keeping a close watch on her previous film, CBGB.
Weekend B.O.: ‘The Other Woman’ Rules And Sets Up Nicely As Counterprogramming For ‘Spidey 2′ Onslaught
By Mike Fleming Jr
So now we have a good grasp of a weekend that resulted in nearly $100 million in box office, which is up around 19% from comparable weekend last year. It is still the calm before the storm, when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 takes the stage and better do three times what The Other Woman did, or else. Read More »
BREAKING: After scoring huge ratings with the miniseries The Bible and carving out a second theatrical hit with the same footage in Son Of God, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Paramount Pictures’ Ben-Hur. Deadline has long been telling you about this ambitious new adaptation of the Lew Wallace 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of Christ, with script by Keith Clarke and Oscar winning 12 Years A Slave scribe John Ridley, and Timur Bekmambetov directing.
Sweet Chariot! MGM is Rebooting ‘Ben-Hur’
MGM In Talks With Timur Bekmambetov For ‘Ben-Hur’ Reboot
Paramount signed on to co-produce and distribute, and after the rocky time the studio had with the Darren Aronofsky-directed Noah convincing the faithful that the Biblical epic didn’t blaspheme the Old Testament tale and having the film banned in Muslim territories, it’s not surprising that they would add Burnett and his wife, the former Touched By An Angel star Downey, to help steer the project with producer Sean Daniel. The film will be released February 26, 2016. Faith-based audiences turned the Mel Gibson-directed The Passion Of The Christ into the biggest-grossing independent film ever, but the recent turn of audiences from Biblical epics to films about the existence of heaven and faith in general, shows that these audiences want faithful adaptations of the Bible stories they want to see celebrated onscreen. The next big Biblical epic coming is the Ridley Scott-directed Exodus with Christian Bale starring as Moses. Fox opens that film December 12 and if it even approximates the ticket sales of 1956′s The Ten Commandments, it will be a huge blockbuster story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt.
Related: Biblical and Faith-Based Movies: In Hollywood To Stay?
The film consists of the core story that drove the 1959 William Wyler-directed MGM film that starred Charlton Heston as the falsely accused nobleman who survives years of slavery to take vengeance on the best friend who betrayed him, as both have to choose retribution or forgiveness. In the backdrop is the journey of Jesus Christ, leading up to him being crucified. It is sensitive stuff, and a guiding hand from those producers can be like a Good Housekeeping seal to a faith-based audience that has been flocking to sleeper hits like Heaven Is For Real. Noah has crossed $300 million in worldwide grosses. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: MGM has set 12 Years A Slave scribe John Ridley to do a rewrite on Ben-Hur, a new adaptation of the 1880 Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ, which Timur Bekmambetov will direct, based on the Ben-Hur spec the studio bought from Keith Clarke (The Way Back). The intention is to begin casting soon and start production on this big sprawling film in the spring. It’s based on the book that for its time outsold every book but The Bible until it was eclipsed by Gone With The Wind. Sean Daniel and Joni Levin attached to produce, and Clarke and Jason Brown exec producing.
Sweet Chariot! MGM Is Re-Booting ‘Ben-Hur’
MGM In Talks With Timur Bekmambetov To Steer Chariot On ‘Ben-Hur’ Reboot
MGM released the 1959 Charlton Heston-starrer Ben-Hur, as well as the 1925 silent film Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ. MGM sold the Heston film to Ted Turner in the 1980s, but the book is public domain. The studio’s decision makers, Gary Barber and production president Jonathan Glickman, loved the spec that is faithful to the book and carves out an identity that is different than the 1959 William Wyler film that focused on the adult blood feud between Judah Ben-Hur (Heston) and Messala (Stephen Boyd).
Ridley most recently scripted Red Tails, but his adaptation of 12 Years A Slave has thrust … Read More »
If you didn’t read some of Deadline’s Top Film stories this week, here’s your chance today:
‘Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston Will Next Play Blacklisted Scribe Dalton Trumbo
By Mike Fleming Jr – EXCLUSIVE: When he completes his tour de force run in Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston will play the title role in the Jay Roach-directed Trumbo, the fact-based feature of the man who broke the Hollywood blacklist.
‘Prisoners’ Breaks Out For #1 With $21.4M; ‘Battle Of The Year’ #5 For Bleak $4.1M
By Nikki Finke - SUNDAY 1 AM, 4TH UPDATE: With the 65th Emmys broadcasting this weekend, Hollywood is only talking television, television, television. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: I first reported last month that MGM was courting Wanted helmer Timur Bekmambetov to helm Ben-Hur. I have now confirmed that the helmer and the studio have closed their deal for him to direct a new adaptation of the 1880 Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ, which in its time outsold every book but the Bible until it was eclipsed by Gone With The Wind. MGM bought a Ben-Hur spec by Keith Clarke (he scripted the Peter Weir-directed The Way Back). Sean Daniel and Joni Levin are producing, with Clarke and Jason Brown exec producing.
MGM In Talks With Timur Bekmambetov To Steer ‘Ben-Hur’ Reboot
Sweet Chariot! MGM Is Re-Booting ‘Ben-Hur’
This gives MGM its biblical epic at a time when History’s The Bible was such a miniseries success that Fox is going to theatrically release the truncated movie-length version Son Of God; Paramount and New Regency ready the Darren Aronofsky-directed Noah with Russell Crowe playing the boat builder; and Ridley Scott ready to direct Exodus, with Christian Bale playing Moses and Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver, John Turturro and Aaron Paul.
Bekmambetov is repped by WME, Clarke by Resolution and manager DJ Talbot.
EXCLUSIVE: I can’t say definitively that the negotiations are going to work out, but MGM is in talks with Wanted helmer Timur Bekmambetov to helm Ben-Hur, a new adaptation of the 1880 Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ, which in its time outsold every book but The Bible until it was eclipsed by Gone With The Wind. This all got set in motion after MGM bought a Ben-Hur spec by Keith Clarke (he scripted the Peter Weir-directed The Way Back), a package that came with Sean Daniel and Joni Levin attached to produce, and Clarke and Jason Brown exec producing. This happened last January, right after MGM got new funding and was flush with proceeds from the 007 pic Skyfall and The Hobbit. I have been chasing the possible deal with Bekmambetov for the past two weeks, and it seemed intriguing enough as another Biblical epic moving forward that I felt it was worth noting despite the fact they haven’t reached financial terms and I don’t know for certain that they will.
Related: Sweet Chariot! MGM Is Re-Booting ‘Ben-Hur’ Read More »