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 »
EXCLUSIVE: Writer-director William Monahan has signed a two-year first-look deal with Paramount Pictures. His company, Henceforth Pictures, has a number of projects already in development, including several Monahan originals. The deal comes as the Monahan-scripted reboot of The Gambler is in production at Paramount with Mark Wahlberg and Jessica Lange starring and Rupert Wyatt directing. Monahan also adapted the book Cocaine Cowboys into Desperado, a film that will re-team Lone Survivor helmer Peter Berg with Wahlberg and which Paramount will put into production in the fall.
Monahan separately has turned in a scripted adaptation of John Le Carre’s most recent novel, A Delicate Truth, to BBC Films. He has numerous other projects in the pipeline, including Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For, as well as an adaption of Sympathy For Lady Vengeance that will star Charlize Theron, with Monahan producing with Theron and Megan Ellison. He also adapted the adventure novel The Wild Geese, which was previously turned in to the 1978 film that starred Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Roger Moore. Monahan is producing that with Greg Shapiro and Patrick Milling Smith. Read More »
UPDATE, 11:45 AM: Just got a quote from Sacha Baron Cohen on his Paramount re-up. It was delivered in French, but here is the translation:
“Any studio that puts out a movie where Leonardo DiCaprio snorts cocaine from … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has just won a bidding war involving multiple studios for the Joe Gazzam script Shadow Run, an action thriller in the vein of the Bourne movies that will be produced by Original Films and Hernany Perla. The … Read More »
John Singleton has signed on to direct, re-write, and produce Morgan Creek Productions and Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films’ Tupac Shakur biopic, which is hitting up a summer 2014 shoot. The long-gestating pic about the late iconic rapper and sometimes actor known as 2Pac got renewed momentum last Fall when Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films joined Morgan Creek as co-financier. Singleton will work with Ed Gonzalez and Jeremy Haft to revise their original greenlit script. Needless to say, Shakur’s lifelong ambitions as a rap star yielded one of the more colorful and tragic life stories of recent decades. The charismatic Shakur, a legendary West Coast hip hop fixture and one of the best-selling artists of all time, dabbled in an acting career throughout the ’90s with memorable turns in Juice, Above the Rim and later Bullet, Gridlock’d, and Gang Related before he was killed at the age of 25 in a 1996 Las Vegas drive-by shooting that remains unsolved. Read More »
BREAKING: Gary Sanchez Productions, the film and television production company founded by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Chris Henchy, has hatched a sister label. Gloria Sanchez Productions will generate female-driven film and TV projects. Longtime Gary Sanchez exec … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment has found its director for Insurgent, the follow-up to the upcoming Divergent that will launch a three-pic series based on Veronica Roth’s sci-fi novels. Robert Schwentke, whose credits include the 2010 action comedy Red that also came from Summit, has been tapped for duty, and he … Read More »
After putting the brakes on their 3D live-action Tarzan pic last year, Warner Bros is charging ahead again with True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgård set to play the loinclothed Edgar Rice Burroughs hero. The pic, now in preproduction, will open on July 1, 2016, the studio said today. Skarsgård was attached to star in the David Yates-helmed pic when the studio cautiously stalled plans to move forward last spring. At the time Jessica Chastain was circling the female lead, but now the Jane role has gone to Margot Robbie who had a breakout turn in Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street this fall.
Related: Margot Robbie Set To Star In ‘Z For Zachariah’
Tarzan will tell the familiar tale of the eponymous hero, orphaned as a baby and raised in the jungle, who returns to urban London as a man. Samuel L. Jackson and his Django Unchained co-star Christoph Waltz will also star. Jerry Weintraub, David Barron and Alan Riche are producing. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Radius-TWC has closed a deal to pay $2 million to Pathe for North American rights to Paradise Lost. The Andrea Di Stefano-directed film stars The Hunger Games‘ Josh Hutcherson as a young surfer who visits his brother in Colombia and falls in love with the country, especially when he meets and marries the gorgeous girl of his dreams. Then he finds himself sucked into the family business. She’s the niece of notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, who’s played by Benicio Del Toro. The film also stars Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene’s Brady Corbet and newcomer Claudia Traisac.
The film has been slated for release later this year by Radius, whose presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego have now made three deals during an otherwise sluggish Berlin (not counting TWC’s $7 million acquisition of The Imitation Game). Radius also snapped up the Salma Hayek thriller Everly and the Danish horror pic When Animals Dream. The label’s got some momentum, with two Oscar nominations for the docus 20 Feet From Stardom and Cutie And The Boxer.
Paradise Lost is produced by Dimitri Rassam and and co-produced by Romain Le Grand on behalf of Pathe and Frédérique Dumas on behalf of Orange Studio. Miguel Angel Faura from Spain’s Roxbury and Belgium’s uMedia also co-produced.
Quinn and Janego confirmed the deal. “We have been tracking this project for months and could not be more energized by Benicio’s outstanding performance, Josh’s extraordinary turn and Claudia Traisac’s star-making role,” the pair said. “Di Stefano has delivered the goods and we feel privileged to be working alongside him on this fantastic film.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount is negotiating with 3 Arts Entertainment to acquire the film rights to the forthcoming book Thirteen Hours: A Firsthand Account Of What Really Happened In Benghazi. The book, scheduled for publication in late spring, was written by author Mitchell Zuckoff with surviving members of the Annex Security Team who fought the battle. Their names are being kept confidential. The book is going to be published by Twelve, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group, with Editorial Director Sean Desmond editing.
The script will be written by Chuck Hogan, whose novel Prince Of Thieves became the Ben Affleck-directed The Town and who teamed with Guillermo del Toro to write the vampire novel trilogy The Strain which is being turned into a series by FX. Erwin Stoff will produce, and Richard Abate is executive producer. Stoff is producing the upcoming Unbroken and Edge Of Tomorrow. Read More »
IFC Films took North American rights to Peter Sattler’s directorial debut film Camp X-Ray, which made its debut at Sundance. Pic stars Kristen Stewart, Payman Maadi and Lane Garrison, and was produced by Gina Kwon, and … Read More »
UPDATE, THURSDAY AM: As the Berlin Film Festival kicks off today, Sony Pictures Classics has confirmed its acquisition of all U.S. and Latin American rights to competition title, Aloft. This is Milk Of … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Open Road Films has just completed a deal to pre-buy domestic distribution rights on Triple Nine, the John Hillcoat-directed heist thriller, which begins production this summer with a killer cast. Fruitvale Station’s Michael B. Jordan, Breaking Bad and Need For Speed‘s Aaron Paul, Warm Bodies’ Teresa Palmer, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman in the Batman Vs. Superman film) and End Of Watch‘s Michael Pena are in talks to join previously announced 12 Years A Slave‘s Chiwetel Ejiofor, Out of the Furnace’s Casey Affleck and Kate Winslet. Hillcoat, who just helmed that distinctive Super Bowl spot for Coke, wrote the script with Matt Cook. Open Road will release the film in 2015.
The rights deal comes on the eve of the European Film Market, where Sierra/Affinity is handling international sales for the project and will sell select territories in Berlin. In the drama, a crew of dirty cops is blackmailed by the Russian mob to execute a virtually impossible heist. The only way to pull it off is to manufacture a 999, police code for “officer down”. Their plan is turned upside down when the unsuspecting rookie they set up to die foils the attack, triggering a breakneck, action-packed finale filled with double-crosses, greed and revenge. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: OddLot Entertainment has acquired the Black List script Queen Of Hearts, and has set Seth Gordon to develop the project as a directing vehicle. OddLot will produce with Brillstein Entertainment Group, with Gordon’s manager David McIlvain to … Read More »
Entertainment One has picked up U.S. rights to TIFF comedy The Grand Seduction, starring Brendan Gleeson (The Guard) and Taylor Kitsch (Lone Survivor) in the tale of a small town that … Read More »
Magnolia Pictures acquired the Sundance documentary Life Itself, which covered the life of beloved film critic Roger Ebert. Steve James of Hoop Dreams fame directed the picture, which is being eyed for summer release followed by a broadcast … Read More »
New Regency has made its latest three-year feature deal with a high-profile name, saying today it has signed a pact with Gore Verbinski‘s Blind Wink shingle. Verbinski directed three Pirates Of The Caribbean movies, last year’s big-budget miss The Lone Ranger, and the animated Oscar winner Rango, which marked Blind Wink’s first project. Under the new deal he will produce and direct films for New Regency, company president Brad Weston said in a release. New Regency and Blind Wink are already in development on two projects, the companies said. No titles were mentioned, but we are hearing that one is Pyongyang, a dark comedic film based on the Guy Delisle graphic novel that New Regency acquired last year for Blind Wink, with Verbinski directing and producing and Steve Conrad (The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty) scripting.
Today’s news follows two other recent deals from Arnon Milchan’s financier/production company under Weston. Blind Wink joins Brad Pitt’s Plan B, which migrated from its longtime home at Paramount, and Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa Pictures, which was teaming with New Regency and Paramount on Noah, which will be released March 28.
Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Fox has closed a deal to acquire rights to Marie Brenner’s 1997 Vanity Fair article “The Ballad Of Richard Jewell”, which will be developed for Jonah Hill to play the title subject. Jewell was the security guard who discovered a backpack in the Olympics compound in Atlanta in 1996. Initially hailed a hero for reporting the suspicious knapsack and then helping clear bystanders from the area before it exploded, Jewell was subsequently vilified just three days later as a potential suspect, his life and reputation torn apart in the advent of the 24 hour news cycle. Leonardo DiCaprio will play a lawyer Jewell knew casually, a Southern attorney who mostly did real estate closings and seemed in over his head, but he guided Jewell through a hellish Twilight Zone that went on even after the FBI officially cleared Jewell’s name three months later.
Brenner, whose VF article was the original source material for the Michael Mann-directed tobacco whistle-blower tale The Insider, accompanied Jewell and his attorney just as it finally became clear he had nothing to do with placing the bomb. The film will be produced by Appian Way’s DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Hill and Kevin Misher, the latter of whom brought in the article. Misher Films’ Andy Berman will also have a producing role. Mike Ireland is overseeing for Fox.
This comes as both DiCaprio and Hill are up for Oscars for Best Picture nominee The Wolf Of Wall Street. It is particularly a strong role for Hill, who continues his remarkable transition from comic actor to serious roles that started with an Oscar-nominated turn in Moneyball and continues with the Rupert Goold-directed True Story, in which Hill plays Michael Finkel, a disgraced journalist who got the chance at redemption when a suspected killer (James Franco) took Finkel’s name, and would only talk to that journalist. That project is also at Fox, with New Regency. Read More »
Sixteen years after its Sundance premiere, Louis C.K.‘s feature directing debut Tomorrow Night is getting a release – and the wait could pay off for the Louie star. He wrote and directed the black and white 16mm dark comedy, about a photo shop owner obsessed with ice cream, and took it to festivals back in 1998. But according to C.K., distributors balked and the movie sat fading into obscurity in his storage locker. (Three years later C.K. directed the underrated Pootie Tang, his only other helmed feature to date.) Since then the once-struggling comedy and TV writer has hit success with his stand-up specials and FX series. He also notably put out his 2011 comedy special Live At The Beacon Theater on his own website for $5 a pop, trusting fans not to pirate it, and took in $1M with the self-release strategy. Today C.K. followed suit with Tomorrow Night which is now available for download for $5. The film stars comedians Robert Smigel, Chuck Sklar, Rick Shapiro, Heather Morgan, Nick Diapolo, Martha Greenhouse, Greg Hahn, Carey Prusa and Joseph Dolphin and features a number of future comedy stars in small roles including Amy Poehler, J.B. Smoove, Steve Carell, Wanda Sykes, and Conan O’Brien. C.K. recently hit the promo circuit and stopped by The Daily Show with old pal Jon Stewart, who lent C.K. money to make the movie years ago as did Chris Rock, Denis Leary, Spike Feresten and Brett Butler. Take a peek at Tomorrow Night‘s trailer and take a guess if they’ll make their investment back: Read More »