UPDATE, 12:04 PM: By Warner Bros jumping aboard the high-profile Johnny Depp-Joel Edgerton pic Black Mass, it means the studio won’t be taking on another Whitey Bulger project in its own backyard: the one that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon had been developing for a couple of years as a starring vehicle for Damon via their Warners-based Pearl Street Films. I’m hearing that Affleck and Damon were given a day or two advance notice that the studio was putting its eggs in the Black Mass basket, but that news came just a day before the latest rewrite was turned in by Aaron Stockard, who worked with Affleck on The Town and Gone Baby Gone and who rewrote the script by Oscar nominated The Wolf Of Wall Street scribe Terence Winter. There was much enthusiasm, then radio silence, and then…Naturally there are bruised feelings that Warners will have to repair with two of its most valuable players, as this was the first project pitched for Affleck to direct and Damon to star after Pearl Street inked its overall deal there, and I’m told the studio assured the pair it wanted to make their movie.
This is all a part of the big rough and tumble game of studios needing to fill slates, and clearly someone was going to come out first with a Bulger biopic. But there are plenty of reasons to smooth any ruffles here. Affleck is directing and starring in Warner Bros’ Live By Night, an epic period crime drama that he adapted from the best-selling novel by Dennis Lehane, author of Affleck’s first directorial outing Gone Baby Gone. It’s the follow-up to the Best Picture Oscar winner Argo he made for the studio. He also is playing Batman in Warner Bros’ Batman Vs. Superman. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Johnny Depp has made his deal to star in Black Mass, the drama Scott Cooper will direct about the Boston crime kingpin-turned-fugitive Whitey Bulger, for Cross Creek Pictures and Exclusive Media. Now, they are in early talks with Tom Hardy to play John Connolly, the FBI agent and childhood pal of Bulger, who is in prison for tipping Bulger that he was about to be indicted. That led Bulger to go from ruthless Boston crime kingpin to the top of the FBI’s most wanted list. Domestic distribution hasn’t yet been decided and there are some territories that Exclusive is selling at Berlin, a task made easier by these casting developments. Production will begin in May.
Depp was originally expected to play Bulger when Barry Levinson was attached to direct, but the deal fell through over money even though the deal was near $20 million. Deadline revealed last month that talks had rekindled with Depp, and this has now become a blue-chip project, particularly when Crazy Heart and Out Of The Furnace helmer Cooper boarded it. The script is by Mark Mallouk, who adapted the 2001 Dick Lehr/Gerald O’Neill New York Times bestseller Black Mass: The True Story Of An Unholy Alliance Between The FBI And The Irish Mob. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Scott Cooper is negotiating to rewrite and direct Black Mass, the drama about the Boston crime kingpin-turned-fugitive Whitey Bulger, for Cross Creek Pictures and Nigel Sinclair and Guy East’s Exclusive Media, with Universal releasing through Cross Creek’s distribution deal with the studio. And guess what? Talks have rekindled for Johnny Depp to possibly play Bulger in the film. You’ll recall he was nearly set last year, but talks fell apart over money.
The subject matter is irresistible. Bulger had risen to the top of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List when he disappeared for a decade before he could be put behind bars. Many felt he could never have gotten that far without the help of John Connolly, an FBI agent and childhood pal of Bulger and his brother William, the former president of the Massachusetts Senate. Joel Edgerton had been in talks to play the FBI pal. Connolly was tasked with bringing down the Italian mob, and he was aided by Bulger, who burnished his own position as Boston crime kingpin by getting rid of the competition for his Winter Hill gang. Connolly was lauded for his work before things went south for him. He eventually was convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice for aiding Bulger, who is currently in a Massachusetts state prison for second-degree murder. Read More »
UPDATE, 11:24 AM: Deadline broke news last night that Johnny Depp was teetering toward the exit door on Black Mass, the Barry Levinson-directed story of Whitey Bulger, with Joel Edgerton playing his disgraced FBI pal John Connolly. There was some hope last night that after some hard negotiating, things might turn around and Depp would stay in the movie. I’m now told that’s not going to happen. The financiers, Cross Creek and Exclusive Media, are moving to recast the lead, balking at paying Depp the equivalent of $23 million to headline the indie crime drama. If you remember, Ben Affleck planned to direct buddy Matt Damon in a Bulger picture, but this news isn’t going to help those heavily booked fellas. The Black Mass team — which sold the picture heavily in Cannes — expect to have a new star in place so they can shoot the picture later this year. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Big day on the Croisette for Joel Edgerton. The Australian actor just took the bows for the Cannes opening night film The Great Gatsby, and I’ve learned that he’s just closed a deal to star alongside Johnny … Read More »
When Deadline broke the story that Johnny Depp would star as Whitey Bulger in the Barry Levinson-directed Black Mass, it raised a lot of questions about his intentions to star in Transcendence, the film directed by Chris Nolan’s visionary cinematographer Wally Pfister. His reps have now clarified the dance card of Depp, who’ll next be seen reuniting with Gore Verbinski in The Lone Ranger this summer. Here’s the deal:
LOS ANGELES (February 27, 2013) — Johnny Depp is set to star in Transcendence, the directorial debut of Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister. The film will begin principal photography in April.
The film is being financed and produced by Alcon Entertainment’s Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove and will be released by Warner Bros. The film will also be produced by Straight Up Films’ Annie Marter, Marisa Polvino and Kate Cohen along with David Valdes. Pfister will direct from newcomer Jack Paglen’s screenplay, which was developed with Annie Marter, with the most recent draft by Noah Oppenheim. Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas are serving as executive producers. Straight Up’s Regency Boies will co-produce.
Producers are not revealing the film’s plot.
Following Transcendence, Depp will segue into the crime thriller Black Mass, about notorious Boston mob boss Whitey Bulger, to be directed by Barry Levinson, with Jez Butterworth writing a new draft of the screenplay by Mark Mallouk, based on the New York Times best-seller Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerald O’Neill.
Filming is beginning in early summer of 2013.
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EXCLUSIVE: Just as Whitey Bulger rose to the top of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List when he disappeared for a decade before he could be put behind bars, the fast mobilizing movie about the Boston crime kingpin just rose … Read More »