EXCLUSIVE: Open Road is locking a distribution deal for Side Effects, the Scott Z. Burns script that Steven Soderbergh will direct as his next film. Blake Lively, Jude Law and Channing Tatum will star. The film is being financed by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures, with production to start in April on a thriller that has a budget in the $30 million range. This is a surprise outcome. Deadline revealed in early December that Summit was the frontrunner for a script (which had been called The Bitter Pill at the time). The script wasn’t distributed widely, at least initially. David Linde’s Lava Bear and Paramount were the other initial places (producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura’s deal is there), though a few equity financiers mulled the project as well. Soderbergh sparked to the film after Warner Bros halted The Man From U.N.C.L.E. after disagreements over budget and difficulty finding the lead after George Clooney dropped out because he was having surgery. READ MORE »
Open Road Making Deal For Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Side Effects’; Film To Star Blake Lively, Jude Law, Channing Tatum
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has acquired the Don Winslow bestselling novel Satori and will develop it as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio to play a Westerner, raised in Japan and taught an assassin’s skills, who gets caught up in the chaos of post-WWII as the U.S., Soviet Union, France and China maneuver for power in Southeast Asia in the early 1950s. Shane Salerno will write the script with Winslow, and John Lesher’s Grisdi Productions and DiCaprio’s Appian Way partner Jennifer Killoran are producing. Salerno is executive producer.
DiCaprio will play Nicholai Hel, raised in Japan by a martial arts expert and genius at Go, the complex chess-like Japanese game. The master, a Japanese general, passes on all his secrets and the student repays him by murdering his mentor as an act of devotion; the military leader would have been disgraced and killed as a war criminal.
For that act, Hel is thrown in solitary confinement in a Tokyo prison and tortured for three years. He is finally sprung by the CIA after agreeing to assassinate the Soviet commissioner to China. Hel is trained for the task by a beautiful French woman he falls in love with. Though he now sees a happy ending to the dangerous assignment, Hel is betrayed by his backers and, using his Go skills for strategy, makes his way through Vietnam hunted by American, Chinese, Russian and French intelligence agencies as well as a Corsican mob and Vietnamese criminal syndicate. It’s a sophisticated thriller, and the studio sees potential for its own Jason Bourne-type action franchise.
BREAKING: NBCUniversal’s new owners at Comcast have given a vote of confidence to the studio’s feature film operation. They’ve exercised an option on Universal Pictures’ Chairman Adam Fogelson and extended his contract through 2014. I’m told that Fogelson is, in turn, in the process of exercising the option of Donna Langley and she will continue as the studio’s co-chairman. They will also keep their executive team intact. Fogelson will continue to have full day-to-day operating responsibility for the Motion Picture Group, reporting to Universal Studios President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer (whose contract was recently re-upped through 2015) and will now also report to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke.
While Universal has had its ups and downs, higher-ups are clearly convinced that Fogelson, Langley and their team are making progress. They’ve had recent hits –Bridesmaids, Hop! and Fast Five– but also had some recent misses that include The Dilemma, Change-Up and Cowboys & Aliens. In the latter case, the studio was on the hook for one-third of the film, and shared that third with Relativity Media. It has also been a year in which Fogelson and his team have made some painful decisions and let pricey productions go. That began with the Guillermo Del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness, which Universal developed for years and which was ready to go with Tom Cruise, until the studio made a late decision not to go forward because of the possibility the $150M film could carry an R-rating. Universal also dropped two projects that were in advanced stages of development: The Dark Tower, the Akiva Goldsman-directed adaptation of the Stephen King novel series that was to be made into three feature films and two limited-run TV series, with the first film and TV segment directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer and Goldsman; and Oiuja, the Hasbro board game that had McG directing and Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners producing with Hasbro. The moves were surprising because Howard and Grazer are cornerstone filmmakers for Universal; and Del Toro and Hasbro have overall deals there. Ouija is one of several Hasbro properties the studio dropped, the others being the Gore Verbinski-directed Clue, the Ridley Scott-directed Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering. These were part of a groundbreaking deal the studio made with the toymaker several years ago, but the studio and Hasbro have re-focused their attention solely on Battleship, Stretch Armstrong, and Candy Land.
Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con for Deadline:
First up is Warner Bros’ GREEN LANTERN writer Geoff Johns, who says the week he spent on the movie set was the best week of his life. And we have some footage to see: The screen goes black, as a voice tells us we all have been selected, but before we can be recruited, we must be tested. Green swirling energy appears on the screen, as the voice tells us to focus our mind and “move the light with your will”. Then images: Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan holding the alien power ring. The purplish corpse of dying alien Abin Sur. Peter Sarsgaard’s head getting bigger and veinier. Blake Lively looking out the window. Voiceover of Reynolds uttering the familiar Green Lantern oath: “In brightest day, in blackest night…”