EXCLUSIVE:When Imagine Entertainment partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard re-upped in their 26th year at Universal in early 2012, like all studio term producers they watched the deal get smaller. They also went from exclusive to first look and while that might have humbled less energetic founders who’d made 50 films for the same studio, Grazer and Howard took it as license to tap into new avenues of distribution and funding to be more productive than ever.
Consider that while Howard tinkers with the finished Formula One drama Rush and casts the Warner Bros adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick novel In The Heart Of The Sea with Chris Hemsworth, Grazer is on the Croisette, beating the drum for a Pele biopic to be directed by The Two Escobars helmer Jeff Zimbalist and his brother Michael. Grazer and production president Kim Roth called the film a close cousin to the search for genius depicted in 8 Mile, only here it’s a dirt-poor kid’s journey from being part of the Shoeless Wonders (a band of soccer wunderkinds too poor to afford shoes) to a phenom who at 17 led Brazil to the World Cup. Grazer and his partners will have the film ready by the time the world is whipped into a frenzy for World Cup action next year.
* While they’ve temporarily halted the move to turn Jack Bauer loose in a 24 feature, they’ve instead decided to bring him back in a limited series, this after selling an Arrested Development revival directly to Netflix. Grazer tells me they are absolutely moving forward with a movie version of another Imagine series, Friday Night Lights, and they will likely use crowdfunding to directly tap the rabid fan base of that drama for some of the budget. “We made a terrific feature with Pete Berg, turned it into a terrific TV series and will now make a movie from that series,” Grazer said. “I’m not sure such a thing has been done before.” READ MORE »
Baz Luhrmann followed up his biggest opening day in America with his biggest opening day in France as The Great Gatsby took in $78K in partial-day results that still were bigger than his Moulin Rouge and Australia. … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Imagine Entertainment‘s Brian Grazer has bolstered his long desire to turn James Brown‘s life story into a feature film. Tate Taylor, who adapted and made his helming debut on The Help, is in negotiations to direct the untitled project. Another musical icon, Mick Jagger, has joined Grazer as producer. The film will be a co-production between Jagged Films, based on a screenplay by Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth. Grazer and Jagger will produce along with Jagged’s Victoria Pearman and Imagine’s Erica Huggins. They will now look for distribution, and to find an actor who can play Brown.
The story charts a young boy’s rise from extreme poverty and violence to become The Godfather Of Soul, one of the most influential black artists in history whose career spanned six decades. Grazer started the project at a time when the singer himself was an active part in its development, before he died in late 2006.
The Butterworths most recently scripted the Doug Liman-directed Fair Game, which starred Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. Now, the question is who has the chops to play the singer. Eddie Murphy once did a stellar impression of the singer, but that was a long time ago. Anthony Mackie? Read More »
The former California governor has invited a few friends to the first symposium of his new USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy, which the university announced last month. An invite went out today for a September 24 event announcing that James Cameron, Universal Studios president and COO Ron Meyer, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-chair Rob Friedman, Imagine Entertainment chairman Brian Grazer and Interscope Records boss Jimmy Iovine will participate. Cameron, who helmed Schwarzenegger in the two Terminator films he starred in as well as in True Lies, will join Meyer, Friedman, Grazer, and Iovine on an afternoon panel titled “The Power Of People and Innovation — Media/Hollywood Leader’s Perspectives”. Read More »
As was rumored, Imagine Entertainment partners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer will film Jay-Z’s Budweiser Made In America music festival, September 1-2 in Philadelphia. The feature will be released next year.
Translation CEO Steve Stoute will be co-producing … Read More »
The Imagine Entertainment partners are filming a documentary about Jay-Z’s Made in America music festival September 1-2 in Philadelphia. Lineup for the event includes Drake, Pearl Jam, Run-DMC, Skrillex, Rick Ross, Miike Snow, Odd Future … Read More »
I can confirm Vulture’s break that Fast & Furious franchise helmer Justin Lin has come aboard to direct L.A. Riots for Universal, with Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer producing. The project chronicles the frightening and destructive riot … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that Warner Bros is getting a new script from Akiva Goldsman for the first installment of Stephen King’s mammoth Western The Dark Tower, and that within two weeks, the studio will be making a decision on whether to green light the first leg of one of the most daring and ambitious projects to come along since The Lord Of The Rings. And here is a new wrinkle to add to the mix. Javier Bardem is no longer in the mix as gunslinger Roland Deschain. I’m told that director Ron Howard and producers Brian Grazer and Goldsman have been talking with their A Beautiful Mind star Russell Crowe about playing Deschain. While there is no deal with Crowe, that is the star that Warner Bros will be evaluating as the studio decides on whether to take a leap on an eight-volume book that has a huge following, with Howard, King and their partners planning a multi-platform presentation that could be unforgettable. The story will be told through three films and two limited run TV series.
The Dark Tower is about the last living member of a knightly order of gunslingers, with Deschain becoming humanity’s last hope to save civilization as he hits the road to find the Dark Tower. Along the way, he encounters characters, good and bad, in a world that has an Old West feel. When I last wrote about this, Universal had dropped out and Warner Bros had sparked to the idea of taking on this franchise, possibly with HBO handling the TV component that would bridge the the first and second feature films, with another limited run TV series to follow. Given HBO’s adventurous forays into fantasy with Game of Thrones, it seems like the ideal venue. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Imagine Entertainment is moving forward with a new version of George Orwell’s 1984. Noah Oppenheim has been set to adapt the cautionary tale about a totalitarian future society, and a man whose job it is to rewrite history tries … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Gavin O’Connor to direct Yakuza, a contemporary Japan-set thriller for Imagine Entertainment. Brian Grazer is producing. The focus is an American intelligence expert who becomes embroiled in the affairs of a notorious yakuza godfather and … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Imagine Entertainment will develop a feature based on the life of legendary surrealist artist Salvador Dalí, with Paige Cameron writing the script. Brian Grazer will produce and Imagine’s Anna Culp will be executive producer along with Cameron.
The Spanish painter … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: When Universal Pictures said no to making three feature films and two limited-run TV series from Stephen King’s mammoth post-apocalyptic Western The Dark Tower, the partners in the film all pledged they were going to find a way to get a movie made. Well, I hear that Warner Bros is now very close to a deal that will give Ron Howard the chance to direct at least the first feature, potentially with Javier Bardem starring as gunslinger Roland Deschain. And Akiva Goldsman (who wrote the script) is producing with Brian Grazer and the author.
Basically the studio bought Goldsman’s script and are paying him to do a polish. Howard remains attached to direct, likely in first-quarter 2013. Pic is a co-production between Goldsman’s Weed Road and Howard and Grazer’s Imagine. Bardem’s participation would depend upon his availability, but he was firmly attached when the project was at Universal.
That is an amazing development for fans of the book and for a movie that has been searching for new backing since Universal let it go last July. Back then, Universal was deciding on three features and the two TV segments, which was perhaps the most ambitious movie project since Peter Jackson shot three installments of The Lord Of The Rings back to back. Read More »
On the heels of Imagine principal Brian Grazer producing last month’s Academy Awards, he is looking to get the company into the live TV arena. I hear that Imagine TV is actively looking for … Read More »
OSCARS: Noms Surprise As Academy Goes Its Own Way
OSCARS: Who Got Snubbed By The Academy?
OSCARS: 84th Academy Award Nominations
When controversy ended the short reign of Brett Ratner, who was originally chosen to co-produce the 84th Academy Awards with Don Mischer, followed by the exit of Ratner’s chosen host Eddie Murphy, it looked like this year’s Oscars were in deep trouble. But Academy president Tom Sherak quickly enlisted Brian Grazer to step in and join Mischer at the helm, and they hit the ground running, persuaded Billy Crystal to agree to host for the first time in nearly a decade and calmed the stormy Oscar seas. But until this morning’s nominations, they weren’t exactly sure just what kind of show they were gonna have. After all, the Academy instituted a new rule that allowed for anywhere between 5 to 10 nominees depending on the level of enthusiasm and first-place votes each film received — instead of the set number of 10 in the last two years or 5 in previous years. That there are 9 films that made the cut (a first for the Academy) had both producers and Sherak breathing a sigh of relief when I talked to them after the announcement. They all seemed genuinely excited at the prospects for the show. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In a move that continues the longest standing production deal Universal Pictures has ever had in its 100-year history, the studio has extended its deal with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard through 2016. These mega-producer deals have been getting trimmed all over town, though, and the Imagine deal has shifted from an exclusive to a first-look deal. Going forward, Howard will be able to direct more films elsewhere, and Grazer can produce at other studios. He is now producing the upcoming Academy Awards with Don Mischer. The Imagine extension was just finalized by Universal chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chairman Donna Langley.
The last deal Grazer and Howard made with the studio was set to expire in 2013. Imagine has made around 50 films since the partners first were brought into the Universal in 1986 by Ron Meyer, at the time Grazer’s former agent at CAA and had just transitioned to the top job at Universal. Like every producer-studio relationship, the Universal and Imagine arrangement has been tested in the past few years. The studio said no to The Dark Tower, a feature trilogy and two limited-run TV series adapted from the Stephen King novel series that Howard was to direct, with Javier Bardem starring and Grazer producing with Akiva Goldsman and King. The filmmakers continue to develop the project and expect to make it elsewhere. Universal and Imagine also mutually decided to not go forward with Cartel, a drama that Asger Leth was going to direct. Read More »
The clock has started on 24, the feature version of the Imagine Entertainment/Fox series. The project brings back Kiefer Sutherland’s tireless government operative Jack Bauer. Mark Bomback — a favorite writer at 20th Century Fox writing The Wolverine and … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Feature director Paul Greengrass has joined Fox’s untitled CIA drama project from writer Joe Weisberg (Falling Skies), Imagine TV and 20th Century Fox TV. This marks the first foray into U.S. television for British director-writer Greengrass, who will … Read More »