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RatPac, Edward Norton’s Class 5 Options ‘American Hippopotamus’

Mike Fleming

hippoEXCLUSIVE: Brett Ratner and James Packer’s RatPac Entertainment have acquired the Jon Mooallem article American Hippopotamus for Class 5 Films and RatPac for a feature film. Class 5′s Edward Norton and William Migliore will produce with RatPac’s Ratner. They will frame a feature around a difficult-to-believe but true story.

Responding to a meat shortage in the U.S. in 1910, two bitter enemies joined forces to try and import hippopotamuses to the swamps of Louisiana and convince Americans to eat them. Even though Theodore Roosevelt and The New York Times endorsed the theratplan, the fact that you don’t find hippo on the menu shows how well their campaign fared. Key to the movie is the rivalry of the hippo duo, both of whom were spies. Frederick Russell Burnham was a frontiersman and freelance adventurer whose exploits were the inspiration for the Boy Scouts, and he teamed with Fritz Duquesne, aka the Black Panther, a virtuoso con man and cynical saboteur who believed only in his own glorification and revenge. Burnham and Duquesne only recently had been under orders to assassinate each other, and they would return to being bitter enemies. But they took a break to try and get American hungry for hippos. Read More »

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Paramount Sets ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ Starring Eddie Murphy For Spring 2016

Axel-FoleyAxel Foley will be making his long-awaited return to the big screen in about two years. Paramount today set a March 25, 2016, release date for Beverly Hills Cop, the fourth installment of the mega-grossing 1980s movie series that has Eddie Murphy set to reprise his role as the wise-cracking detective. The new film has the pre-summer weekend to itself for now. Jerry Bruckheimer is back as producer, and Brett Ratner is directing the pic, which will see Murphy’s Foley returning to his Detroit roots. Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, the scribes behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, are writing that script. It looked for a while as if Beverly Hills Cop‘s resurrection was going to be televised. Early last year, CBS ordered a pilot from Shawn Ryan and Murphy that was to follow the adventures of Foley’s cop son, with Barry Sonnenfeld directing and Murphy set to appear in the pilot and possibly recur. But the network surprisingly passed on the project at the eleventh hour.

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Already Staked in the Warner Bros Slate, RatPac Partners Brett Ratner And James Packer Make First-Look Deal

By | Tuesday April 29, 2014 @ 8:50am PDT
Mike Fleming

francisalbertEXCLUSIVE: Already teamed with Dune’s Steven Mnuchin on a $450 million deal to co-finance the entire slate of Warner Bros films, RatPac Entertainment partners Brett Ratner and James Packer have made a deal with the studio to develop, produce and co-finance films at Warner Bros. They will take space on the Warner lot. Where do you put RatPac on that crowded lot? Where else but the headquarters that once belonged to Francis Albert Sinatra himself.

la-classic-steve-mcqueen-photo5“The offices Frank Sinatra had are the coolest ones ever,” Ratner told me. “As guys who love movie history, James and I appreciate it. Sinatra was there, Joel Silver had them, and Barbra Streisand, Sidney Poitier, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and Dustin Hoffman had them in the First Artists days. And Steven Spielberg had them too. First thing we’re doing is blowing up a picture of Sinatra, in front of that building.”

You can forgive Ratner for being a bit giddy, but RatPac’s abrupt importance to the film fortunes of Warner Bros is pretty astonishing. He has managed to keep his directing career going (he’s got Dwayne Johnson with the MGM/Paramount pic Hercules), and the first film in the RatPac-Dune slate deal was Gravity, which grossed $716 million worldwide and dropped a big fat windfall on the RatPac Dune venture right out of the gate. Read More »

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Warren Beatty’s Untitled Howard Hughes Pic Finally Takes Flight Financed By Billionaire Boys’ Club; Ehrenreich, Collins To Star In Love Story; Bening And Broderick Also In

Warren-BeattyjpgEXCLUSIVE: It took two decades, but it’s finally getting off the ground thanks to billionaires Ron Burkle and Steve Bing, Windsor Media’s Terry Semel, Arnon Milchan’s New Regency and James Packer’s and Brett Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment. The heavies have come together to finance Warren Beatty’s long-gestating Howard Hughes-based project. The roughly $26.7M production, which Beatty will direct and star in as Hughes, will revolve around Hughes’ assistant (Alden Ehrenreich, Beautiful Creatures) and his love interest (Lily Collins, Mirror, Mirror). New Regency, Beatty and Ratner are producing, with Packer executive producing. Regency will handle foreign through Fox. Bing, BurkleThey’ve already shot a small amount of film on the picture, but it starts rolling in earnest today. Beatty’s wife Annette Bening and Matthew Broderick and other surprises are expected (a la Jack Nicholson, maybe? One can only hope). The focus of the film is the love story of the two younger characters. Read More »

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Edward Norton Will Helm Passion Project ‘Motherless Brooklyn’ With RatPac Funding

By | Thursday February 20, 2014 @ 2:47pm PST
Mike Fleming

ednoEXCLUSIVE: It may have taken him 15 years to get there, but Edward Norton will star in and direct Motherless Brooklyn, his scripted adaptation inspired by the Jonathan Lethem novel. Brett Ratner and James Packer’s RatPac Entertainment have stepped up to fully finance the film for a late 2014 production start in New York. Ratner will join Norton and his Class 5 Films’ cohort William Migliore as producers, and Packer will be executive producer with Class 5’s Stuart Blumberg.

motWhile Lethem’s novel is contemporary, Norton has set the story in New York in 1954, a time of great change in the city. He plays Lionel Essrog, a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette’s syndrome, who tries to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend. Armed only with few clues and an obsessive mind, Lionel slowly unravels closely guarded secrets that have major ramifications. It leads him through Harlem jazz clubs, Brooklyn slums and sets him against thugs and Gotham power brokers to honor his friend and save a woman who might his own salvation.

This will be Norton’s second time behind the camera after he made his debut on Keeping The Faith. He set this up at New Line as the book was published, right after Norton got an Oscar nomination there for his mesmerizing performance in American History X. Norton currently stars in the Wes Anderson-directed The Grand Budapest Hotel, and most recently wrapped the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed comedy Birdman, both for Fox Searchlight. He’s repped by UTA and attorney Robert Offer. Read More »

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TCA: Brett Ratner Makes His Nazi Film For ESPN’s ’30 for 30 Soccer Stories’

By | Saturday January 11, 2014 @ 1:24pm PST

Brett Ratner TCA 30 For 30Brett Ratner came to Winter TV Press Tour 2014 to talk about his ESPN soccer documentary and to remind TV critics the Hercules movie that just opened anemically at the box office is not his Dwayne Johnson-starring Hercules movie.

Ratner is among the directors for ESPN’s documentary series 30 for 30 Soccer Stories premiering in April, including a mix of feature length and shorter 30-minute documentaries.

“I honestly feel ESPN is one of the greatest brands” enthused Ratner, who shared the stage with documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney and ESPN Films director of development Libby Geist.

Related: Between ‘Hercules’ Set-Ups, Brett Ratner Becomes Media Mogul With Eye On China

Ratner said he’s been obsessed with the sports network’s  30 for 30 documentary franchise and had been trying to find a way to get involved when someone at his company hit on an idea. “One of my passions and one of the opportunities that I’ve never gotten is to make a film that has Nazis in them. All my contemporaries, from Quentin Tarantino to, you know, obviously Spielberg, and all these guys have made their Nazi film, and I haven’t been able to tackle it yet.” Read More »

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RatPac, Running Press To Publish Ben Mezrich Book ‘Seven Wonders’

By | Tuesday October 29, 2013 @ 7:02am PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Brett Ratner and James Packer’s RatPac Press entered into a joint venture to publish Ben Mezrich’s Seven Wonders through Running Press Publishers next spring. Deadline told you back in May that Ratner and Packer set the movie rights at Fox, back when the book was a proposal. It was the first deal Ratner and Packer made since forming their company. Written by Mezrich, whose books helped in form the films The Social Network and 21, weaves the Seven Wonders into an adventure tale they all hoped would lead to a book and movie trilogy, with the latter being produced by Beau Flynn and Ratner. Here’s the official release about the book deal:

Related: New Regency, RatPac To Co-Finance Cameron Crowe’s Sony Film
Read More »

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Between ‘Hercules’ Set-Ups, Brett Ratner Becomes Media Mogul With Eye On China

Mike Fleming

Brett Ratner took a few minutes away from directing Dwayne Johnson in the MGM/Paramount film Hercules: The Thracian Wars to talk about being in the center of a herculean $450 million slate financing deal that RatPac-Dune Entertainment finally closed with Warner Bros. It is an arrangement that will cover as many as 75 of the biggest films made by Warner Bros and New Line for the next few years.

Ratner tells me that this is a straight financing deal, but one that will allow and his RatPac-Dune partners James Packer and Steven Mnuchin to build library assets. It is just one piece of what could become a very interesting puzzle. Ratner said that Packer, son of the late media mogul Kerry Packer, got out of the media holdings that were his father’s preoccupation and instead has put his money in a number of ventures that include casinos in Macau. That whetted his appetite for investing in China’s fast-growing film business.

Related: China’s Wanda & Hollywood: How Much Is Real?

“Part of our strategy will be to expand into China, to co-finance Chinese movies and films that not only work around the world but Asia in particular,” Rather told me. “We are already developing some movies we feel will work in the Asian market.” Read More »

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Warner Bros Sets RatPac-Dune To Co-Finance Slates After Legendary Exit

Mike Fleming

As Deadline reported in the summer, Warner Bros Pictures has found its replacement to fill the void left when Thomas Tull moved Legendary Pictures down the road to Universal. RatPac-Dune Entertainment has made a multi-year agreement to co-finance as many as 75 upcoming titles at up to $450 million. The announcement was made today by Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara and by Steven Mnuchin, Brett Ratner and James Packer of RatPac-Dune Entertainment, the film finance vehicle formed by Mnuchin and RatPac Entertainment to co-finance the Warner Bros Pictures slate.

Related:
RatPac Could Be Lead Funder With Dune In Warner Bros Slate Deal
Oz Billionaire James Packer Partners With Brett Ratner On RatPac

The co-fi deal starts with the October 4 release Gravity, and the December 25 release Grudge Match. The studio laid off risk in the past with Village Roadshow Pictures and Legendary.

“We are very pleased to be entering into this relationship with RatPac-Dune Entertainment,” said Tsujihara. “This agreement gives us increased strength and flexibility in the motion picture division and an even greater ability to manage risk as we continue to produce high-quality filmed entertainment for the global audience. We look forward to working with their team as we move forward in this exciting new partnership with a truly great organization.” Read More »

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WME Signs Director-Producer Brett Ratner

By | Wednesday May 29, 2013 @ 6:45pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: WME has just signed Brett Ratner, the director and producer. This comes at a time when Ratner is getting ready to direct Hercules, which stars Dwayne Johnson, and he’s also been very active in producing such projects including the Ben Mezrich book Seven Wonders, which Fox bought for him to produce with Beau Flynn. Ratner had been at CAA. The signing comes on the heels of Ratner donating $1 million to the museum of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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Brett Ratner Donates $1 Million To Academy Museum

By | Wednesday May 29, 2013 @ 12:35pm PDT

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has announced that director Brett Ratner is donating $1 million to the Academy Museum. Ratner is no stranger to the Academy. You’ll recall that he stepped down as Oscar producer two years ago after outcries over an anti-gay slur he uttered while promoting his film Tower Heist for Universal. Host Eddie Murphy soon followed Ratner’s exit. Here’s the Academy’s release:

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today a $1 million gift from director Brett Ratner to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

“Brett has a sincere love of movies and film history, and we are excited to welcome him to our group of supporters,” said Bill Kramer, the museum’s managing director of development.

The Academy launched the Museum’s capital campaign in 2012 and has already secured more than half of the campaign’s $300 million goal in commitments. The campaign is chaired by Bob Iger and co-chaired by Annette Bening and Tom Hanks.

“Thanks to the generosity of founding supporters like Brett, we are now able to realize the long-held dream of the Academy and that of the global film community to build a museum dedicated to the history and future of the movies,” said Iger.

“I feel blessed to be part of such a magnificent museum. I was blown away by the recent Kubrick exhibit at LACMA, which the Academy co-sponsored. I couldn’t be more excited

Read More »

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Fox Buys Ben Mezrich’s ‘Seven Wonders’ Book; Brett Ratner, Beau Flynn Producing

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox is making a deal for Seven Wonders, a book proposal about the seven wonders of the world that is being eyed as a summer action/adventure film. They hope it will span a trilogy. FlynnPictureCo’s Beau Flynn and RatPac Entertainment’s Brett Ratner are producing. The book’s being written by Ben Mezrich, whose Bringing Down The House was turned into the film 21 and whose Accidental Billionaires was a basis for The Social Network. The book will be published next year. Ratner was an exec producer on 21.

This is the first project for the newly formed RatPac Entertainment – the venture that joined James Packer and Brett Ratner in film finance and production partnership. Ratner and Flynn are right now producing and Ratner is directing Hercules, which stars Dwayne Johnson and starts shooting in June for MGM, with a July 25, 2014 set.

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‘Smash’, ‘Amazing Race’, Anderson Cooper, Brett Ratner Honored At GLAAD Awards

By | Saturday March 16, 2013 @ 10:45pm PDT

NBC’s Smash and CBS’ The Amazing Race were honored tonight at the 24th GLAAD Media Awards in New York City.  Smash was named best drama series and Amazing Race took the nod for best reality series. How To Survive A Plague, a film chronicling the rise of activism in the early years of AIDS, was named best documentary.

Dressed as a Boy Scout, Madonna presented the previously announced Vito Russo Award to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Russo, who died in 1990, was a film historian who voiced concerns about how gays and lesbians are portrayed in the media. Movie director Brett Ratner received GLAAD’s inaugural Ally Award. The award for Ratner represented a turnaround from a little over a year ago when he dropped out as producer of last year’s Academy Awards after joking at an early press conference that “rehearsing is for fags”. Ratner since worked with the group to produce a public service campaign, GLAAD Coming Out For Equality.

A list of last night’s awards follows. Read More »

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Brett Ratner Revs Roman Polanski Racing Docu ‘Weekend Of A Champion’ For Netflix

By | Thursday February 28, 2013 @ 4:11pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Movies periodically get fixated on auto racing, like the great documentary Senna and the upcoming Ron Howard-directed Rush. Now we’ll find out how a barely seen documentary shot by Roman Polanski can do, one shot back when he and his cameras were granted the kind of access to the track in Monaco that you just couldn’t buy today. And the way Polanski shot it, you can tell in just a few seconds that if the average person tried driving that course, you’d need to call your insurance agent by the first hairpin turn.

Rat Documentary Films, Brett Ratner‘s documentary film arm, has acquired the North American rights to Weekend Of A Champion, Polanski’s 1971 portrait of the legendary Formula 1 race car driving Champion Jackie Stewart on the weekend of his victory at the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. This is a film that was shot while Polanski was at his peak, and it has never been released in the United States. This becomes the first in a 12-picture deal that Rat Documentary Films has with Netflix; his objective is to produce or acquire cool feature documentaries. Here, Ratner and Polanski began talking about this deal and Polanski recalled with fondness the experience of shooting with Stewart. I’ve seen footage and it is pretty compelling stuff. Read More »

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Brett Ratner Boards ‘FarmVille’ Animated Series

By | Thursday February 7, 2013 @ 11:04am PST

Brett Ratner has joined with Six Eleven Media to produce a TV version of the successful online game FarmVille. The Hercules director and the Canadian production company aim to make a half hour animated series out of the farming simulation social networking game. “FarmVille is one of the most exciting brands out there today and its cross-platform opportunities are endless. I am thrilled to be expanding the brand with existing fans and also engaging a whole new audience,” said Ratner in a statement Thursday. No network is attached currently to the proposed FarmVille series. Ratner will serve as executive producer with Six Eleven Media’s Kirk Schenck & Charles Bishop and Independent producer Nina Gelb. FarmVille was launched in 2009 by game maker Zynga and has become one of the most popular games on Facebook and MSN Games. A FarmVille 2 sequel was released last Fall. Ratner’s upcoming Hercules, with Dwayne Johnson in the title role, is set to be released by Paramount on August 8, 2014.

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Paramount Dates ‘Hercules’ August 8, 2014

By | Wednesday January 16, 2013 @ 5:50pm PST

Paramount‘s Brett Ratner-directed Hercules, starring Dwayne Johnson as the legendary strongman, will hit theaters August 8, 2014, a week after Disney/Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy is slated to bow. Hercules is an adaptation of the 2008 Radical Studios graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars, which takes the supernatural out of classical mythology and places it in a more real-world context. If the MGM-Paramount co-production is a hit, it could signal the beginning of a franchise; the graphic novel was followed by a sequel, The Knives Of Kush, in 2011. The film’s script is by Ryan Condal, with revisions by Evan Spiliotopoulos. Ratner, Beau Flynn and Barry Levine are producing, with Peter Berg, Sarah Aubrey and Jesse Berger executive producing. Production is scheduled to start soon. Aside from Johnson, no other cast has been announced.

Related: Paramount & MGM Team For ‘Hercules’; Dwayne Johnson To Star, Brett Ratner To Direct

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High-Concept FBI Drama From Brett Ratner, Barry Schindel & Georgeville Lands At ABC

By | Monday January 7, 2013 @ 2:53pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Feature director Brett Ratner and Law & Order veteran Barry Schindel have teamed for Tomorrow, a drama project at ABC financed by Reliance’s Georgeville Television, the independent TV studio formed last spring by Motion Picture Capital’s Leon Clarance and Deepak Nayar and producer Marc Rosen.

Like all Georgeville projects, Tomorrow, now in development, has a script-to-series commitment, meaning that if ABC likes the script it would trigger a 13-episode series order. Created and written by Katherine Lindberg and Ted Cyr, Tomorrow is a high-concept law enforcement procedural about an FBI agent who gets trapped in a time travel scenario. Ratner, who is set to direct, and Schindel, who serves as showrunner, executive produce with Lindberg, Cyr and Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar and Nicole Romano. Read More »

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Oz Billionaire James Packer Partners With Brett Ratner On RatPac Entertainment

By | Tuesday December 11, 2012 @ 1:35pm PST

James Packer Partners With Brett RatnerAustralian media scion James Packer is getting into the Brett Ratner business. The billionaire will personally back film development, production and finance company, RatPac Entertainment. Ratner and Packer are looking to produce and finance independent films and co-finance “blockbusters” with studio partners. Two projects have been identified to be co-financed, although details have yet to be disclosed. “We intend to build a major independent film company which not only has the ability to fully finance its films, but which also offers creative independence for its filmmakers,” Ratner said in a statement that was short on information. Packer is the chairman of Oz-based gaming and entertainment company Crown Limited. He is the son of the late Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer. In October, his Consolidated Media Holdings voted in favor of a $2.1B takeover bid by News Corp.

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Paramount & MGM Team Up For ‘Hercules’; Dwayne Johnson To Star, Brett Ratner To Direct

By | Wednesday November 7, 2012 @ 2:37pm PST

Dwayne Johnson really will play the classic strongman Hercules onscreen. The Brett Ratner-directed Hercules action film will be co-produced by Paramount and MGM, the companies announced today. Johnson and Ratner’s names have been attached to the project since early spring. The screenplay was adapted by Ryan Condal from Radical Studios’ graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars; Evan Spiliotopoulos did script revisions. Beau Flynn, Barry Levine and Ratner will produce. Peter Berg, Sarah Aubrey and Jesse Berger will executive produce. Production is scheduled to start in early 2013. Condal is repped by WME. Ratner is repped by CAA. Johnson is repped by WME and The Garcia Companies.

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