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.
EXCLUSIVE: QED International has committed to produce, finance and handle international sales for Haunt, an original horror film that Mac Carter will direct from a script by Andrew Barrer. A family that moves into a new home with a dark past. When their son becomes involved with a beautiful girl next door, and together they begin to explore their sexual awakening, they unwittingly invoke an alternative dimension of the house. Haunt will be produced by Sasha Shapiro, Anton Lessine, Bill Block, Paul Hanson, Steven Schneider, Will Rowbotham and Rivergate Entertainment’s Alex Yazlovsky. Production starts in November.
QED adds Haunt to a slate that includes the David Ayer-directed Ten with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the John Turturro-directed Fading Gigolo that stars Turturro and Woody Allen. Daniel Diamond just joined as QED president of International, and he and block will be selling territories on the slate at Toronto and AFM.
“With Haunt, Andrew Barrer has added a terrifying new chapter to the supernatural horror genre and delivered a riveting story that will truly satisfy a global audience,” said QED International CEO Bill Block. “Innovative, highly commercial genre films are a hallmark of QED, and we look forward to working with Andrew and Mac to continue that success.”
Barrer is co-writer with Gabriel Ferrari, of Sabrina The Teenage Witch for Sony and Die In A Gunfight, which made the 2010 Blacklist and is being produced by MRC. Carter is an award-winning commercial director who …
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.”
Media Content Capital has made an 8-figure investment and will become a shareholder of QED International, the financing and sales company run by Bill Block. The funds will be used to ramp up development, sales and financing operations as QED produces and or acquires four to seven films a year and grows to handle third party productions. The investment will allow Block to pay minimum guarantees to acquire offshore rights to completed film.
QED burst on the scene several years ago with the sleeper hit District 9 and the Oliver Stone-directed W. Among the films QED is currently financing and producing are the action thriller Ten, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, which Open Road recently acquired for U.S. release; the Neil Blomkamp directed Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster for Columbia Pictures; and the crime thriller I, Alex Cross, starring Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Rachel Nichols and Ed Burns for a Lionsgate/Summit release this October.
On the investment, Block said it “gives us the balance sheet to support filmmakers in getting their movies made and allows us to expand our business and platform to better serve our clients and the creative community.”
Said Media Content Capital’s Sasha Shapiro: “We believe content is increasing in value around the world. QED’s risk mitigation approach to financing new films is appealing to us. We look forward to working with Bill and the QED team in growing the business.”
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: Arnold Schwarzenegger is set to star in Black Sands, an action film that will be directed by Scott Waugh and Mike McCoy. Financed by Bill Block’s QED, the film will begin production April 1, 2012. In the script that Skip Woods has rewritten, Schwarzenegger will play a loner who wages war against a ruthless weapons manufacturer and his private army in the Southwest. The tone is Man On Fire meets High Plains Drifter. Block will be selling worldwide territories starting today.
Woods scripted A Good Day To Die Hard, which Fox is readying for production. Waugh and McCoy most recently directed Act Of Valor, an action adventure that features actual Navy SEALs. That film was acquired at an auction for distribution by Relativity Media, which paid a $13 million minimum guarantee and a $30 million P&A commitment, and scheduled the film for release on February 17, which is President’s Day Weekend.
Al Ruddy will produce Black Sands with Block and Paul Hanson. Waugh, McCoy and Max Leitman are the executive producers through their Bandito Brothers banner. Sergio Altieri and Kevin Elders wrote early drafts of the script that Woods is rewriting. scSchwarzenegger has squarely returned to his action wheelhouse since returning to acting after ending his run as California governor. He’s shooting the Kim Jee-woon-directed The Last Stand for Lionsgate, after completing The Expendables 2.
QED just completed I, Alex Cross, the Rob Cohen-directed thriller based on the James Patterson novel, with …
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 begin production by year’s end. QED is financing the movie, about a single father who’s targeted by U.S. government agents because his body contains answers to important national secrets. The style is a throwback to paranoid 70s movies like Three Days of the Condor and Marathon Man. The Key Man will be produced by Bill Block, Paul Hanson, Tory Tunnell and Harold. Harold’s recent script work includes Awake, Army of the Dead and All You Need Is Kill. De Palma, who was part of that paranoid 70s thriller movement, last directed the 2007 Iraq drama Redacted and before that The Black Dahlia. He’s also responsible for Scarface, The Untouchables, Carrie and Mission: Impossible. De Palma’s repped by ICM.
EXCLUSIVE: Open Road Films — the new distribution company created by exhibitors AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment — just snagged U.S. rights to The Key Man, a thriller written by Joby Harold. QED International is financing the movie, about a single father who’s targeted by U.S. government agents because his body contains answers to important national secrets. QED chief Bill Block says it “recalls great films like Three Days Of The Condor and Marathon Man and is built on a fantastic story in the vein of The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure, and will appeal to a broad global audience.” The film will be widely released and include “a significant P&A commitment” from Open Road, the companies say. Key Man will be produced by Harold, Block, Tory Tunnell and Paul Hanson with principal photography due to begin by early 2012. The deal was negotiated by Open Road Films CEO Tom Ortenberg, General Counsel Elliott Kleinberg and SVP Acquisitions Ben Cotner with QED’s Block and Paul Hanson. Open Road films go to Netflix in the pay TV window following the DVD release. Ortenberg says Key Man is “one of the smartest, most original scripts we’ve seen” and predicts that it “will attract top notch talent.”
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.
3RD UPDATE: Sony Pictures Snaps Up Neill Blomkamp’s ‘Elysium’; Matt Damon And Jodie Foster Set To Star
3RD UPDATE: Sony Pictures has now decided to go it alone on Neill Blomkamp’s new scifi pic Elysium for worldwide distribution. So there is no Universal Pictures’ involvement, as the studio declined to take part. MRC put the deal together.
2ND UPDATE: Director Neill Blomkamp issued this statement: “I literally could not be happier. I have a brilliant relationship with Sony. I loved them during District 9, they 100% get this film and they get me. Elysium is in very good hands.”
1ST UPDATE: EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has won the right to distribute District 9 filmmaker Neill Blomkamp’s next project titled Elysium. The producers are currently in negotiation with Universal Pictures to co-finance the film. Meetings with several other studios were cancelled as this scenario took shape. Matt Damon and Jodie Foster are set already to star along with District 9 star Sharlto Copley. Sony clearly values the relationship it built with Blomkamp after his $30 million low-budget first film became a sleeper hit that was nominated for Best Picture and grossed $210 million worldwide. That, too, was a distribution deal.
At the same time, MRC has signed an overall deal with Blomkamp, and has given a green light to a second movie. Titled Chappie, the film will go into production immediately after Blomkamp completes Elysium, which is now scheduled for a late 2012 …