QED International has laid off five employees (which includes support staff and a junior lawyer) three weeks after the disastrous opening of Sabotage, directed by David Ayer and led by aging action star Arnold Schwarzenegger. The bloody pic flopped and is hanging on by its fingernails in the Box office Top 20 — it’s No. 18 in its third weekend — having grossed a mere $10M. John Hegeman, president of worldwide marketing, is still on board as he helps prepare the debut of the next Ayer-directed film, Fury, which has some star power in Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf and audience favorite Michael Pena. QED slapped down $1M to buy the WWII spec from Ayer over a year ago; it will bow in November. One insider said that QED is reallocating resources for development spending. To that point, today QED purchased Yellowstone Falls, a 52-page spec script by Dan Kunka, winning what was said to be a heated bidding war. The film, which will be produced by Kevin Misher and QED President Bill Block, is about a mother wolf who must battle to save her cubs after being separated from her mate following an apocalyptic event. The film will have nearly no dialogue and few actors. Sounds a little like Disneynature’s Bears — with mutated humans thrown in.
BREAKING: In what amounts to the biggest spec deal so far this year, Bill Block‘s QED International has paid $1 million for Fury, a WWII spec script by End Of Watch writer/director David Ayer. Ayer will direct, and QED will produce with John Lesher and his Le Grisbi Productions banner. Ethan Smith, Block and Lesher are producing and they are eyeing a fall production start. QED is selling foreign.
The action takes place in 1945 as the Nazi regime collapses and the five man crew of an American tank called Fury battles a desperate German army. Ayer and QED reteam after the action thriller Ten, which Ayer directed and which stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington and Mireille Enos. Open Road will release it next January. Lesher produced Ayer’s End Of Watch.
Describing his project, Ayer said his goal is to “bring a fresh execution to the genre. What these men went through is worthy of a complex, honest portrayal. This will have incredible, visceral action and complex rich characters. I plan to bring tank combat to life in a way that lands with a modern audience.”
BREAKING: Former New Regency marketing chief John Hegeman has been appointed by QED International CEO Bill Block to be its president of Worldwide Marketing and Acquisitions. It is a newly created position for QED, and comes as the company completes the David Ayer-directed Ten with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the John Turturro-directed Fading Gigolo with Woody Allen, and the Mac Carter fright film Haunt. Hegeman is a producer on the latter and was part of the Artisan gang that turned The Blair Witch Project into a word-of-mouth phenomenon. Block and Hegeman first worked together at Artisan during that period. Hegeman will brave the teen temperatures at Sundance looking for new talent this week and next.
EXCLUSIVE: QED International is committing to spend serious coin on scripts and pitches that it hopes will translate into features with global appeal. QED CEO Bill Block has hired Nick Reimond to steer that effort as VP of Development and Production.
QED is getting started quickly, wrapping up deals for two spec scripts: the Zina Zaflow-scripted romantic comedy 52 Percent, and Leave, a thriller scripted by Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari.
Reimond comes to QED from Scott Rudin Productions and before that spent three years at Maguire Entertainment/Material Pictures. He started at Michael De Luca Productions. Reimond will be tasked with bringing in projects as Block intends to make QED a prolific buyer of material at a time when development spending is drying up all over town.
LOS ANGELES, August 21, 2012 – QED international has appointed Daniel Diamond as President of International, it was announced today by QED International CEO Bill Block. Diamond comes to QED International from Morgan Creek Prods. where he served as President of International Distribution.
Diamond’s appointment is part of an operational expansion of QED as it heads into the Toronto Intl. Film Festival and AFM with a robust film slate including TEN, directed by David Ayres and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger; FADING GIGOLO, directed by John Turturro and starring Turturro and Woody Allen; and ELYSIUM, directed by Neil Blomkamp and starring Matt Damon. Earlier this year, Media Content Capital made an eight-figure investment in QED International.
“We’re committed to bringing the best films to our international partners, and heading into the fall markets, we’re better equipped than ever to deliver on that promise,” said Block. “Daniel will add significantly to our global fire power. His shrewd understanding of the changing rights business and his exceptional relationships in every market will allow us to achieve better market penetration globally, and we’re thrilled he can join us as we gear up for Toronto and AFM.”
Producers of Summit Entertainment’s upcoming release I, Alex Cross, directed by Rob Cohen with Tyler Perry stepping into the role created by Morgan Freeman, have filed suit against other producers who claim they should receive compensation and screen credit for the movie. Bill Block and Paul Hanson are partners in QED, which produced the project that Summit has acquired for distribution. QED claims in the suit that prolonged negotiations that began in 2008 with potential producers Jan Korbelin and Marina Grasic (who with Mark Lindsay have launched Cargo Entertainment) and their company Visitor Pictures failed to come to an agreement on Visitor’s involvement with the development of I, Alex Cross. QED claims it drafted and redrafted multiple memorandums of understanding for Visitor’s involvement that were all rejected and no agreement was reached or signed. In 2009, QED says it formally notified Visitor that all previous offers were withdrawn. QED asserts that development of the movie proceeded without Visitor, who “indeed sought to have no involvement,” according to the suit.
Now that principal photography on I, Alex Cross has finished and the movie is expected to be released next year, QED claims that Visitor has resurfaced and is demanding compensation and screen credit, probably in preparation for legal action of their own. QED and other plaintiffs Suejack Inc and JPB Businesses are seeking a court ruling in the case to remove the “cloud” cast over I, Alex Cross by Visitor’s claims before the movie is released.
EXCLUSIVE: QED International and Safehouse Pictures have set Brian De Palma to direct the Joby Harold-scripted thriller The Key Man. That film was recently set for U.S. distribution with Tom Ortenberg’s Open Road Films and will …
EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment has acquired domestic distribution rights to I, Alex Cross, the reboot of the James Patterson franchise. Tyler Perry stars as the title character, with Rob Cohen directing. Lost‘s Matthew Fox was just set to play Michael Sullivan, a psycho serial killer who viciously murders Cross’s wife when the detective thwarts his earlier attempt to commit a murder. The drama becomes a mano a mano battle between cop and the killer who is one of the most memorable villains in Patterson’s novels. Ed Burns will play Cross’s partner Tommy Kane.
Three distributors chased the picture. One was Lionsgate, which has the long relationship on all the hit films that Perry has directed and starred in. But Summit Entertainment had an “in” as well: Summit co-chairman/CEO Rob Friedman. Friedman, former Vice Chairman and COO at Paramount Pictures Motion Picture Group, had an active hand in Paramount’s release of the first two Alex Cross films, Kiss the Girls and Along Came A Spider, which starred Morgan Freeman. He personally oversaw the acquisition and has a relationship with the author.