BREAKING: Universal Pictures has made a three-year deal to distribute at least six pictures produced and funded by Cross Creek Pictures. The first film in this deal will be Rush, the Ron Howard-directed Formula One drama. Cross Creek, run by president Brian Oliver and CEO Timmy Thompson, has quickly emerged as a significant film financier. They got started with the Darren Aronofsky-directed Black Swan and continue with the upcoming George Clooney-directed The Ides of March and Daniel Radcliffe-starrer The Woman in Black, which will be distributed by CBS Films.
The deal was announced by Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chairman Donna Langley, along with Oliver and Thompson.
Cross Creek is partnered with Exclusive Media Group as co-financier and co-producer of Rush, the Howard-directed drama about the battle between ’70s Formula One racers Niki Lauda and James Hunt that stars Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth and Inglourious Basterds‘ Daniel Bruhl. Peter Morgan wrote the script, and Howard and the actors shot some footage during Formula One races held at Nurburgring Race Track in Germany. It was there, in the 70s, that Lauda was almost killed in a fiery accident that is a major part of the drama. The film seems a natural fit for Universal, since Oliver’s fellow producers are Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. Both Imagine and Cross Creek have overall deals at the studio.
Aside from pictures that Cross Creek brings into the equation, the company will likely become a financier of existing Universal projects getting close to green lights. The budgets of the films will range from $15 million-$65 million, with the average film costing between $25 million-$35 million. Cross Creek is set up to generate up to four films per year, with Universal to distribute at least two of them with a wide-release commitment. Read More »
After making a splash by funding the wildly profitable Darren Aronofsky-directed Black Swan, Timmy Thompson and Brian Oliver’s Cross Creek Pictures has become an increasing presence in the independent film producing and finance game. To help manage the growing project volume, they’ve hired Becky Sloviter to be senior vice president of development and production. She started work yesterday and had most recently been veep of development and production at MGM, where she worked on such titles as the Kevin James-starrer Zookeeper and the Drew Goddard-directed The Cabin in the Woods, as well as the musical Valley Girl which is on a fast track at MGM. Before that, Sloviter had been a production exec at Stuber/Parent Productions. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Chris Hemsworth will get behind the wheel to star in the role of British Formula One driver James Hunt in Rush, the Peter Morgan-scripted drama that shapes up as the next directing effort for Ron Howard. Cross Creek Pictures is the backer, with Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Howard producing alongside Brian Oliver and Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.
Talks are underway for Hemsworth to play Hunt in the story of his rivalry with Niki Lauda for Formula One circuit dominance in the 1970s. Deals aren’t done yet, but it’s all shaping up for this picture to happen early next year. Hemsworth is already set to reprise his role as Thor in the Marvel Studios sequel that has been dated for a July 26, 2013 release by Disney. There is no distributor aboard yet on Rush, but considering that both Imagine and Working Title are based at Universal, the likelihood is that the picture will land there. The prime mover has been Oliver’s Cross Creek, which, after making a killing on Black Swan, is in the middle of several major pictures including the George Clooney-directed The Ides of March. Hemsworth’s repped by IFA and ROAR.
EXCLUSIVE: Cross Creek Pictures has stepped up to finance A Walk Among the Tombstones, an adaptation of the Lawrence Block novel that seemed to have been put to rest more than a decade ago. DJ Caruso is in discussions to direct a script by Scott Frank. It is one of two pictures Caruso is considering for his next film. The other is Preacher, the John August-scripted film for Sony Pictures and producer Neal Moritz.
Double Feature partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher are producing with Danny DeVito and Cross Creek president Brian Oliver. Shamberg, Sher and DeVito first got Frank to write a script while they were partners in Jersey Films. It had been set at Universal and once had Harrison Ford interested in playing Matthew Scudder, an alcoholic former cop who spends his retirement doing favors for friends, the kind that take him deep into the underbelly of New York City. In A Walk Among the Tombstones, a heroin kingpin’s wife is kidnapped and those kidnappers begin to send her back in pieces. The Scudder character was previously seen in 8 Million Ways To Die. Read More »
Focus Features International will be selling territories on an untitled dark comedy that will pair The King’s Speech star Colin Firth and Emily Blunt. The film will be directed by Dante Ariola from a script by Becky Johnston. The film’s financed by Vertebra Films and is produced by Cross Creek Pictures’ Brian Oliver, Johnston and Alisa Tager. UTA and CAA package it and will broker a domestic deal.
Ariola comes out of commercials and is making his directing debut. Firth plays a man who hates his job and is hated by his ex-wife and son. Feeling he missed his one shot at living the dream, he fakes his death and buys a new identity. Along the way he meets a woman (Blunt) who is also trying to leave her past behind. The pair break into empty homes and pose as the absent owners. The two find a kindship despite all the lying.
BREAKING: Exclusive Media Group chairman Guy East and Nigel Sinclair are teaming with Cross Creek Pictures president Brian Oliver to finance The Ides of March, the drama that is based on the Beau Willimon Broadway play Farragut North. George Clooney, long set as director, will also star alongside Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. Clooney and his Smoke House Pictures partner Grant Heslov wrote the script with Willimon. The Smoke House partners are producing with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way. East, Sinclair and Oliver are co-producing. Exclusive Films International will sell offshore territories at AFM. CAA, which packaged the film and raised the financing, will broker the domestic deal. I’ve heard that Sony Pictures Entertainment is a potential landing place. The film begins production February in Michigan and Ohio.
Deadline revealed September 30 that Gosling would take the role that DiCaprio originally intended to play, a press spokesman for a candidate running in the presidential primary for the Democratic Party ticket. Clooney will play the candidate, a state governor with White House aspirations. Willimon based the play on his own experiences on the campaign trail with Howard Dean in 2004. In the play, the press agent falls prey to backroom politics, the manipulations of veteran political operatives and the seduction of a young intern. Giamatti plays a rival campaign manager, Tomei plays a reporter for the New York Times, and Wood plays an intern for the campaign.