TWC-Dimension picked up rights to author Ira Levin’s 1973 Broadway thriller Veronica’s Room in December, and now has tapped Mark Bomback to pen the adaptation. The original play from Rosemary’s Baby writer Levin centererd on two students who find themselves invited to a crumbling New England estate for an audience with the last surviving member of the family that once lived there. The purpose of the visit is so that Susan, one of the students, will agree to impersonate Veronica, the long-dead sister of the fading Cissie. And that’s where the line between what’s real and what’s not begins to blur.
Bomback’s credits include Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and Unstoppable, and he did work on the Fifty Shades Of Grey movie. His script Art Of Racing In The Rain is in development at Universal. “Mark coming on board is huge for this project. He shares the same passion for Ira’s play that I do and together we hope to make something very sinister and special,” said Bob Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company. Bomback is repped by WME, Anonymous Content and Attorney David Colden. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Screen Gems has signed on to distribute The Last Of Us, a live-action adaptation of the PlayStation 3 vidgame from Naughty Dog. Neil Druckmann, the Creative Director for the game, will write the script. The creative architects will be Naughty Dog co-presidents Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra, as well as Druckmann and Game Director Bruce Straley. They’ll team with Sam Raimi and his Ghost House Pictures banner.
The logline: Hardened survivor Joel teams with young and capable companion Ellie to journey through a radically transformed world some 20 years after an infectious pandemic ravages humanity. The game has won numerous awards and has been a big seller since its release last summer.
Related: Warner Bros Acquires Rights To Video Game Sensation ‘Minecraft’
“Screen Gems’ Brian Dukes and Eric Ling brought this game to my attention insisting we go after it, and when I saw the quality of the storytelling, I knew the audience for this project was far greater than just the gaming community and that Neil Druckmann must write the screenplay,” Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper said. “I am thrilled that SCEA’s Riley Russell was able to get me in front of Neil and Evan Wells to plead my case. Sam and his team at Ghost House round out the perfect team to help realize Neil’s vision.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Halle Berry and producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas have christened a new company that has come out of the Oscar-winning actress’ decision to star in the CBS series Extant. They’ve hatched 606 Films, a shingle that will be housed at CBS Television Studios and is named for the anti-paparazzi bill that Berry championed to keep over-aggressive shutterbugs from harassing the children of celebrities. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law last fall after testimony by Berry, Jennifer Garner and others.
Berry and Goldsmith-Thomas have hired Kathryn Tyus-Adair to be SVP of 606 Films. She moves from Don Cheadle’s Crescendo Productions where she spent five years working on TV and film projects including the upcoming St. Vincent. She has also worked as development exec for Robert Redford, Curtis Hanson and George Tillman Jr in projects that include The Horse Whisperer, A Civil Action, Barbership and the Showtime series Soul Food. CAA reps the new company.
The production deal came as part of the deal for Berry to be co-executive producer and star of Extant, a new series that will premiere July 2 on CBS, a co-production between CBS Television Studios and Amblin Television. The series is exec produced by Steven Spielberg, Greg Walker, Mickey Fisher (who wrote the pilot), Brooklyn Weaver, Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In the third huge pre-buy deal this year, Focus Features is committing $20 million in P&A to release A Monster Calls, a film that will be financed by River Road Entertainment and Participant Media. The film will be the next directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, who helmed the tsunami film The Impossible and made his breakthrough on The Orphanage. The film is an adaptation of the children’s fantasy novel series by Patrick Ness and it is already on course to begin production this fall for release in 2016. The novel focuses on a young lad who tries to deal with school bullies and his mother’s illness by losing himself into a vivid world of monsters and fairy tales. Ness adapted his own prize-winning work.
In the configuration taking shape, Focus releases the film wide domestically and Universal Pictures International releases in Spain. Lionsgate International is a key piece of this puzzle, as Patrick Washsberger’s troops will sell all other world territories. Producing is Belen Atienza, who teamed with Bayona on his films and produced Pan’s Labyrinth. Bill Pohlad’s River Road is coming off the Best Picture for 12 Years A Slave, and I’m told Pohlad and his team will exec produce with Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll and his team, along with Wachsberger.
This becomes the first major deal for Peter Schlessel since James Schamus and Andrew Karpen left Focus and Schlessel merged his FilmDistrict shingle in the company and took the reins. While Bayona is separately attached to helm a sequel to the zombie saga World War Z 2, this film will come first. Read More »
ANALYSIS: Even though the Robert Wise original musical West Side Story is about as sacred a cow movie as you are going to find, Fox has unlocked that movie title for a remake specifically because Steven Spielberg is interested in making it. No writer has been set yet and Spielberg hasn’t done anything more than register his interest, which traditionally has always been enough to get a studio hot and bothered. Between this project and the Fox/DreamWorks team-up Robopocalypse, the Daniel H. Wilson sci-fi novel that has a Drew Goddard script and which Spielberg has said he will direct even though he stepped away to make Lincoln, it would be easy to see Spielberg directing movies at Fox for the next several years if in fact Stacey Snider makes a move to that studio after her contract expires at year’s end.
That’s just part of why the town sees Snider’s move over there as such an easy transition. It is an easier fit than when Jeff Robinov eyed Fox at a landing place but he did not want to report to Jim Gianopulos, who likes calling the shots after sharing power so long with Tom Rothman. Snider is apparently willing to do that and she has a lot of experience to offer managing a studio pipeline, skills that are rusting with DreamWorks’ comparatively small output.
Robinov is now well on his way to finding his money to start a company that will allow him to take big swings at Sony, and I’ve heard that there’s a good chance the bulk of that investment will come from Len Blavatnik, the Ukraine-born billionaire whose worth has been pegged at north of $17 billion. What better way for a man with that kind of money to jump into the perilous Hollywood movie business than with Gravity and Argo architect Robinov and the distribution and marketing might of Sony Pictures?
Related: Is Jeff Robinov Headed To Sony Pictures?
After a strong run when DreamWorks was sold to Paramount, a nasty divorce that left behind plum properties like the Transformer series, a near move to Snider’s past home Universal, and the Reliance financing/Disney arrangement which has been stepped down and has hobbled the company, I can easily imagine this finally calling a halt to the great DreamWorks experiment. The one that started with Jeffrey Katzenberg being denied the crown at the Mouse House by Disney’s Michael Eisner, and then joined into building what was to become the next great major studio by his pals Spielberg and David Geffen. I look at the recent crop of DreamWorks films, from the upcoming Need For Speed, the good but disappointing at the box office flop The Fifth Estate and the solid hit The Help, and DreamWorks just seems like an ordinary production company to me. That certainly didn’t have to be the case if the supremely ambitious principals hadn’t made all those deals that disrupted the company and instead stayed a solid course from the beginning and kept building a company on a consistent track. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: As David Ellison‘s Skydance Productions gets more creatively ambitious in the popcorn pictures it makes in partnership with Paramount Pictures, the label has added a former Par stalwart exec in Don Granger. Granger joins Ellison and Dana Goldberg at Skydance in the post of EVP Feature Productions. It is a newly created position and he will report to Goldberg, the company’s chief creative officer.
As Skydance continues to pursue tentpole films like with the reboot of The Terminator franchise, Granger seems like an ideal fit because he has spent most of his career shepherding exactly these kinds of films. He most recently worked with Paramount and Skydance producing Jack Reacher, and before that had a strong relationship with Tom Cruise as president of Motion Picture Production at United Artists when Cruise and Paula Wagner revived the label. Granger before that was senior exec at C/W Productions and before that was partner in Mutual Film Company. He cut his teeth at Paramount, where he worked from 1990-2001 and shepherded such franchises as Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, Tomb Raider and the Jack Ryan films, as well as Saving Private Ryan. The brass at Paramount is different, but many of those franchises are ones that Skydance is involved in. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Minecraft, one of the hottest video game franchises in the market today, is going to be made into a major motion picture. Warner Bros. just acquired the rights to the wildly popular game from Swedish indie developer Mojang AB (mojang means “gadget” in Swedish). The property already is getting huge interest from writers and filmmakers as Warners is putting together a live-action version. Roy Lee is going to produce Minecraft via his Vertigo Entertainment production company along with Jill Messick (Mean Girls and Mean Moms) who will also produce in some capacity. Lee produced the megahit The Lego Movie with Dan Lin which launched a franchise for Warner Bros and a sequel is planned. Jon Berg is the executive in charge at the studio. CAA brokered the deal for the film rights.
Related: BOX OFFICE: ‘The Lego Movie’ Is Lord Of Business Again
Minecraft is one of the top five “open world”-type games, in which players can engage in a virtual world, creating any environment they can dream up with virtual blocks. It often is described as a “open sandbox” where the users can build anything they want. Minecraft has become an Internet sensation since its introduction in 2011. I know, gamers out there will point out that the beta version was introduced in 2009 and were invited to buy and play the game before it was finished — which was a smart move by Mojang because the players basically became the company’s test market and helped develop the game itself. (It didn’t hurt their bank account either). Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In the second big material deal of the day, Fox has acquired Cold Comfort (aka How To Catch A Russian Spy), a film that will be developed as a directing vehicle for Marc Webb. The subject of the … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Scott Rudin Productions’ Scott Rudin and Eli Bush and Point Grey’s Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and James Weaver have together set up a trio of feature collaborations. Two of the films are based on documentaries and will … Read More »
BREAKING: Will Packer, who produced the $123.1M-to-date grosser Ride Along with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube and currently has two pictures in the box office Top 10 with About Last Night (also a Hart vehicle that has grossed $38M in two weeks), has set up his next film with Universal Pictures via his Will Packer Productions banner. It’s a comedy, Girls Trip, with Best Man’s Holiday helmer Malcolm D. Lee set to direct. It has yet to set a writer. Ride Along 2 will be Packer’s next picture with Tim Story at the helm, it was just confirmed. Ice Cube and Kevin Hart recently closed a deal to reprise their roles as the quick-witted security guard (Hart) who has his eye on his partner’s (Cube’s) sister. The sequel will start shooting a week after Think Like A Man 2 opens on June 20, 2014.
Related: ‘Ride Along 2′ Gets Rolling, Tim Story To Direct
Lee, of course, recently directed Best Man Holiday for Universal which has grossed over $71.6M worldwide. Details of the new project are being kept under wraps. Packer has risen as a formidable producer in recent years, earning him the nickname, Will “Power” Packer. His buddy comedy Ride Along opened to a record $48.6M over the four-day Martin Luther King holiday weekend this year for Universal. Sony then scheduled his The Wedding Ringer, which he is producing with Adam Fields, for the MLK holiday in 2015. Wedding Ringer is a Jeremy Garelick-written and -directed comedy starring Hart again. The bankable Packer also produced Think Like a Man, which grossed $96M worldwide.
Related: Universal Makes First-Look Pact With Producer Will Packer
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EXCLUSIVE: I went out on a limb in January reporting how badly director Robert Zemeckis and TriStar head Tom Rothman sought out Joseph Gordon-Levitt to play the role of Man On Wire subject Philippe Petit … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros closed a preemptive deal Friday night for American Blood, a 50 page proposal for a crime story by New Zealand-based bestselling author Ben Sanders for Macmillan Entertainment. Bradley Cooper is attached to star and produce through his 22nd … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: It took two decades, but it’s finally getting off the ground thanks to billionaires Ron Burkle and Steve Bing, Windsor Media’s Terry Semel, Arnon Milchan’s New Regency and James Packer’s and Brett Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment. The heavies have come together to finance Warren Beatty’s long-gestating Howard Hughes-based project. The roughly $26.7M production, which Beatty will direct and star in as Hughes, will revolve around Hughes’ assistant (Alden Ehrenreich, Beautiful Creatures) and his love interest (Lily Collins, Mirror, Mirror). New Regency, Beatty and Ratner are producing, with Packer executive producing. Regency will handle foreign through Fox. They’ve already shot a small amount of film on the picture, but it starts rolling in earnest today. Beatty’s wife Annette Bening and Matthew Broderick and other surprises are expected (a la Jack Nicholson, maybe? One can only hope). The focus of the film is the love story of the two younger characters. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Viggo Mortensen is in talks to star in Captain Fantastic, a drama written and to be directed by Matt Ross. Production will begin this summer. Lynette Howell and Jamie Patricof of Electric City Entertainment are producing. Lest you think that Mortensen is being fitted for spandex for a superhero role, think again. While unforgettable for his trilogy turn as Aragorn in The Lord Of The Rings, that’s probably as close to superhero as he’ll get. In Captain Fantastic, Mortensen will play an idealistic father who, after a decade of living off the grid in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, must return with his six young kids to assimilate back into society. What does it mean for a young filmmaker to land an actor like Mortensen, who is so particular in the roles he plays? ”Viggo Mortensen’s dedication to his craft and to the world of the story he’s telling have been an inspiration to me for years,” said Ross. “There is a depth to his art that I greatly admire. Any film he’s in is a film I want to see. He’s one of the greats. Getting to collaborate with him on Captain Fantastic is quite literally the best thing that’s happened to me since my wife asked me to marry her.”
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Fox recently cleared some prime summer 2015 real estate for its reboot of Marvel’s Fantastic Four, now it appears to have its actors. After a long search — Chronicle‘s Josh Trank was announced as the director at the … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Gravitas Ventures has acquired under-the-radar thriller Happy Camp, produced by Drew Barrymore‘s Flower Films banner and helmed by first-timer Josh Anthony, who also co-wrote and stars in the pic. Michael Barbuto, Anne … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: It was inevitable after the huge success of Ride Along that Universal Pictures executives would be salivating to get the sequel together. Tim Story will direct Ride Along 2 and Ice Cube and Kevin Hart are closing to reprise their roles as the quick-witted security guard (Hart) who has his eye on his partner’s (Cube’s) sister. The film debuted five weeks ago on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend to bring in a record opening of $41.5M. It has since grossed more than $120M worldwide as of this weekend. The three-day gross on Ride Along dropped only 9% even as they shed 283 screens with $3,460 per screen. Helluva hold.
Will Packer and Cube’s Cube Vision (Ice Cube and Matt Alvarez) are coming back to produce from a script by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? A late June/early July start is planned and all are hard at work finalizing the script which is expected to have more action and am hearing that it will be more multi-cultural to expand the demos. Smart move, all, if you want to expand into the lucrative Latin American and European markets. Yes, it’s comedy but it’s also business. Ride Along is in six territories currently with expansions into other markets yet to come, but it is getting 97% of its total box office ($121.2M) from domestic. Likewise, the bankable Think Like a Man also had 95% of its box office coming from the U.S. Universal EVP Production Scott Bernstein will oversee the project for the studio. Larry Brezner is also producing and BenderSpink, executive producing. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: For the first time, iconic sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison has allowed a film to be developed based on Repent, Harlequin! Said The Ticktock Man, the seminal story he published in Galaxy magazine in 1965. Ellison has granted an option directly to J. Michael Straczynski, whose recent credits include World War Z, Thor, the TV series Babylon 5 and Sense8, the upcoming Netflix series he is doing with Lana and Andy Wachowski.
How did Straczynski do it? He had to deliver a finished screenplay to Ellison, whose credits range from The Outer Limits and Star Trek to being acknowledged in many sci-fi works including James Cameron’s The Terminator, and serving as a Babylon 5 consultant. Only then did Ellison grant the option.
The story is about Everett C. Marm, an ordinary man who disguises himself as the anarchical Harlequin and engages in whimsical rebellion against the Ticktockman. The trouble is that if he is found out, the government could stop his heart at long distance if they learn who he is. Straczynski sees the cautionary tale as especially relevant in a post-Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street environment, or even Edward Snowden, in a story of a man who goes against the system and must pay the price for his actions. Now that the script is done, Straczynski will look for production partners and a director, and the first parties he will approach will be Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro. Ellison’s story won the 1966 Hugo Award and the 1965 Nebula Award, among others. Read More »