EXCLUSIVE: In recent years Universal Pictures has become defined by its The Fast And The Furious, Despicable Me, Bourne and Jurassic Park franchises. But the studio’s most enduring legacy is its library of classic movie monsters that include Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, Creature Of The Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, Bride Of Frankenstein, and The Mummy. Universal is now dedicating renewed resources and an unprecedented, far-reaching commitment to revitalize its monster heritage.
The studio is in early stages of developing a substantial new production endeavor that will expand and unify a network of classic characters and stories. The architects of that narrative will be Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan. Kurtzman recently broke with partner Roberto Orci, but his big-scale projects have included Transformers, Star Trek and The Amazing Spider-Man. Morgan is the writer behind five installments of The Fast And The Furious, which has been Universal’s most reliably lucrative franchise. It’s not set in stone yet if either will write, but they will soon be going around town enlisting talent to bring new cinematic life to these enduring characters from lore, literature and Universal’s own library. While Universal has selectively tapped its Movie Monster library for The Mummy, Van Helsing, The Wolfman, and the upcoming Dracula Untold, this will be the first time that the studio has formalized an approach to these classic characters in a cohesive, connected way rather than as a series of stand-alone projects by disparate filmmaking teams. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is remaking iNumber Number, and David DiGilio has been set to script the remake of the Donovan Marsh-directed South African thriller that premiered last fall at Toronto. Universal acquired those rights shortly after the fest. Pic is an action thriller centered on an undercover police detective who crosses over from cop to robber in order to orchestrate a major heist. (Check out the original’s trailer below.) Chris Morgan will produce for his Universal-based Chris Morgan Productions. Aram Tertzakian of XYZ Films is also producing and so is Emile Gladstone. XYZ partners Nate Bolotin and Nick Spicer are exec producers.
DiGilio most recently wrote a TV series adaptation of the Tony Scott-directed Denzel Washington drama Man On Fire for 20th Century Fox TV and New Regency TV, and he sold a pitch based on the Robert Crais novel Suspect to Fox 2000 with Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson producing. For Universal, he scripted a draft of Low G, a film Louis Leterrier will direct and The Mark Gordon Company, 360 Productions and George Nolfi are producing. Paramount and Parkes/MacDonald bought his script Daemon and DreamWorks acquired The Damned with Walter Parkes producing. He also scripted the Disney pic Eight Below and created the TV show Traveler. Read More »
After an eight-month stint, Emile Gladstone is leaving Chris Morgan Productions. Gladstone had been Morgan’s long-time agent when he left ICM Partners last summer to partner with his client at Chris Morgan Productions, running the company’s film and TV divisions. Gladstone will now return to representation, launching a management/production company with Morgan as a client. I hear Gladstone never felt comfortable in the new setting, feeling he was better suited for working with multiple clients. Through his company, Gladstone will continue to work on the film and TV projects he and Morgan have in various stages. CMP has a first look feature deal at Universal, where Morgan has written the last five films in the Fast And The Furious franchise, and a first-look TV deal through 20th Television, where the company has the upcoming series Gang Related.
Golden Globes: The Deadline Film Team’s Live Blog By Anita Busch, Mike Fleming Jr., and Dominic Patten – The Golden Globes have largely been relevant primarily because of its proximity to Oscar season. You know the jokes, that this is the day you can’t find a waiter because they are all here to see if their votes lead to winners.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has acquired the Robert McCammon novel The Wolf’s Hour for Chris Morgan and Emile Gladstone to produce through their Universal-based Chris Morgan Productions banner. While Universal has done several werewolf films since launching the classic from its original movie monster library, this is a different take on the legend and it comes with a screenplay. The novel focuses around a man who is recruited by the Allies in WWII specifically for his ability to go werewolf. He’s charged with stopping a Nazi plot to drop poison gas on England, and at the same time he searches for his long lost blood brother.
The script was written by Bradley and Kevin Marcus. The brothers optioned the 1989 novel themselves, and took the time to flesh out a script that sparked Morgan and Gladstone after CMP exec Ainsley Davies brought it in. Morgan is working on the revamped Fast & Furious 7 film which goes back in production for Universal. CMP is repped by ICM Partners, and the scribes are repped by Resolution and Zero Gravity Management. Production veep Anikah McLaren will oversee for Universal.
EXCLUSIVE: Solidifying this buying season as one of the strongest ever for spec scripts, another script from an up-and-coming writer with big auspices attached has sparked a bidding war, landing a big commitment. Allegiance, written on spec by Sue Chung, with Chris Morgan executive producing, Len Wiseman directing and executive producing and Jennifer Johnson showrunning and executive producing, has gotten a put pilot commitment at ABC. It hails from 20th Century Fox TV where Morgan, Wiseman and Johnson are under overall deals. Allegiance centers on a young female FBI agent who, after a series of devastating, high-tech attacks on the government, pursues the smartest and deadliest domestic terrorist in American history: her own mother. Allegiance marks the first project for Morgan’s Chris Morgan Prods. and Wiseman’s Sketch Films under the companies’ deals at 20th TV. Chris Morgan Prods.’ Emile Gladstone is also executive producing, with Chung co-executive producing and Sketch Films’ David Bernardi possibly getting a credit.
Chung is a brand new voice. Since graduating from Harvard a couple of years ago, she worked as a news editor for various Time Inc. magazines in Manhattan and recently graduated from the Harvardwood Writer’s … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has taken a step forward on the reboot of The Legend Of Conan, which will bring Arnold Schwarzenegger back as the brawny king. The studio has closed a deal with Andrea Berloff to write the script. Best known for scripting World Trade Center, Berloff most recently adapted the French action film Sleepless Night for Warner Bros. She also wrote Straight Outta Compton for New Line and is writing a retelling of the King Arthur myth for Disney.
The franchise got a fresh start last October, when Universal and Schwarzenegger got involved, largely because of the passion of Chris Morgan, the scribe/producer who has minted money at the studio writing Fast & The Furious films. He was the one who decided to draw a parallel right back to the original raw, violent Conan films, which ended with the image of the barbarian king sitting atop his throne. The new film is about his efforts to stay there and the final cycle of a life spent obliterating anyone who got in his way. The Legend Of Conan is being produced by Fredrik Malmberg through Paradox Entertainment and Morgan & Emile Gladstone through their Chris Morgan Productions banner. Paradox owns the rights to the Robert E. Howard series, and we’re going to have to give them a mulligan on that ill-advised movie done with Jason Momoa. They are going back to Schwarzenegger, whose career as Hollywood’s top action star was launched by the 1982 Conan The Barbarian, which John Milius directed from a visceral script he wrote with Oliver Stone. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: After 18 years as a lit agent, Emile Gladstone is leaving ICM Partners to partner with client Chris Morgan in his Chris Morgan Productions banner. Gladstone is transitioning his clients within the agency–Morgan continues to be repped by ICM Partners–and he will begin running Morgan’s film and TV divisions in August.
CMP has a first look feature deal at Universal, where Morgan has written the last four films in The Fast And The Furious franchise, with another one in the works. He was also one of the writers on Wanted and the upcoming 47 Ronin. CMP has its first-look TV deal through 20th Television, where it has the series Gang Related slated for a mid-season slot. Morgan is exec producer. It will be Gladstone’s responsibility to help Morgan bolster the feature slate, and put series projects in development for 20th. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Yesterday, I broke a story about Warner Bros making big plans on a live-action feature based on the role-playing fantasy game fixture Dungeons & Dragons. Not so fast, says Hasbro, which claims that it owns the rights to D&D, and that the toymaker company has set up the project at Universal to be developed as a directing vehicle by Chris Morgan, the scribe behind the last five films in The Fast And The Furious franchise (including the upcoming Fast 6) and 47 Ronin.
Well, nobody is commenting for the record at Warner Bros, but I can tell you the studio isn’t backing down from its plans to move forward on a project that already has a completed script by Wrath Of The Titans scribe David Leslie Johnson, with Roy Lee producing alongside Courtney Solomon. Solomon actually directed the 2000 feature based on the billion-dollar fantasy game. Hasbro spokesman Wayne Charness said that “Hasbro owns the intellectual property rights to Dungeons & Dragons, period, because of Hasbro’s acquisition of Wizards Of The Coast in 1998.” Insiders on the other project maintain this has come up before, and that in a binding arbitration decision, Solomon prevailed and was proven to hold the underlying rights necessary to make the Warner Bros movie possible. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: After making a successful expansion into television, feature writer Chris Morgan is setting up TV shop. Morgan is launching a TV offshoot of his Chris Morgan Prods., which will be housed at 20th Century Fox TV with a two-year pod deal. Under the pact, Morgan will write and produce new series for the studio, as well as supervise other writers and develop projects for all networks.
Morgan, writer of the hit Fast And Furiousmovie franchise, first tested the TV waters this development season when he sold a few projects, two of which, Gang Related at Fox and Big Thunder at ABC, went to pilot. What’s more, both pilots have been garnering strong early buzz and appear strong contenders for series orders. Morgan wrote and executive produces Gang Related and co-wrote the story and executive produces Big Thunder. He has been in first position on Gang Related, which is produced by 20th Century Fox TV. The pilot was directed by Allen Hughes and stars Ramon Rodriguez, Terry O’Quinn and RZA.
After such a “fast & furious” start in TV, Morgan was pursued by multiple TV studios for a deal but opted to go with 20th TV because of what he said was “an amazing experience” with the studio’s executives during the development and production of Gang Related. “I have big goals in television, and I look forward to achieving them with the studio as my creative partner,” Morgan added. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has made a deal for The Legend Of Conan, an action film that will star Arnold Schwarzenegger in one of his signature roles as Robert E. Howard’s mythic barbarian. The deal brings Conan and Schwarzenegger back to Universal, which released the first film that launched Schwarzenegger’s movie career back in 1982. Universal has world rights on the film.
The film will be produced by Fredrik Malmberg and Chris Morgan. Malmberg is CEO of Paradox Entertainment, which holds the rights to Conan. Morgan is the Universal-based writer and producer whose credits include the last four Fast And The Furious films, along with Wanted and 47 Ronin. Morgan has hatched the story and might write the script. The caveat is that the studio wants The Legend Of Conan for summer 2014, and Morgan might not be finished writing the seventh Fast And Furious installment by then. If that happens he will be a very active producer, because this is Morgan’s dream project.
Schwarzenegger starred in two Conan films before moving on to Terminator and other blockbusters as he became the world’s biggest action star. Paradox was involved in a 2011 reboot at Millennium Films that starred Jason Momoa and misfired. Paradox’s Malmberg, who moved the project away from Warner Bros after seven years of development with big-name filmmakers because the project was moving too slowly, feels that this is the version of the film that he and everybody else always wanted to see on the screen but couldn’t while Schwarzenegger was governor of California.
“The original ended with Arnold on the throne as a seasoned warrior, and this is the take of the film we will make,” Malmberg told me. “It’s that Nordic Viking mythic guy who has played the role of king, warrior, soldier and mercenary, and who has bedded more women than anyone, nearing the last cycle of his life. He knows he’ll be going to Valhalla, and wants to go out with a good battle.” Read More »
It’s described as an action film in the vein of Chronicle, the Josh Trank-directed supernatural sleeper hit for Fox. Morgan will produce through his Chris Morgan Productions, the Universal-based shingle from which Morgan wrote and is producing The Fast And The Furious 6. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has preemptively acquired Crime of the Century, a pitch that marks the first sale for Fast 5 scribe Chris Morgan since he signed a two-year first look deal at the studio. Dan Kunka will write the script and Dan Trachtenberg is attached to direct, with Morgan producing under his Chris Morgan Productions banner.
Trachtenberg created a stir recently when his short film Portal: No Escape was posted on YouTube and got close to 7 million hits. The seven-minute film is inspired by the video game series. Crime of the Century is an original idea hatched by Kunka and Trachtenberg, which revolves around a high-octane heist with a science fiction twist. Kunka notches his second big sale this year after his spec Agent Ox sold to Sony and produce Neal Moritz.
As for Morgan, he’s writing Fast & Furious 6 and is a go to guy for Universal on big films, with credits that include Wanted and 47 Ronin, the latter of which is in post production with Keanu Reeves starring. ICM repped Morgan, Kunka and Trachtenberg, and Trachtenberg’s managed by Oasis Media Group and Kunka by Madhouse Entertainment. Below is Trachtenberg’s short film:
EXCLUSIVE: Chris Morgan’s new production company, which inked a two-year first-look deal at Universal after the scribe’s success with the studio’s Fast Five this summer, has hired Adam Fishbach as VP and Ainsley Davies as Director of Development. Fishbach had been at Morgan Creek Productions. Chris Morgan Productions is headed by Morgan, who also wrote the third and fourth installments of the Fast and the Furious franchise as well as Wanted. He currently is writing and producing Fast & Furious 6 and penning Bakugan, which will be directed by Harald Zwart with Scott Stuber and Mike Drake producing. He also wrote 47 Ronin, the Keanu Reeves-starrer. Morgan’s company also is producing Heatseekers alongside Platinum Dunes and Paramount. Morgan’s repped by ICM.
Universal announced today it has made a two-year term deal with Fast Five screenwriter Chris Morgan, who also penned the studio’s hits The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, and Wanted. Morgan most recently penned Universal’s upcoming 3D epic action-adventure 47 Ronin, starring Keanu Reeves and Hiroyuki Sanada. The production agreement includes a first-look deal. He is already started on the script for the sixth installment of the Fast And Furious franchise. “Universal has been an amazing partner during the past few years,” Morgan said in the statement. “The confidence and support I’ve received from Adam Fogelson, Donna Langley and Jeff Kirschenbaum have meant so much to me professionally, and even more so personally. I’m incredibly excited by this evolution of our relationship and look forward to producing many great films together.” Uni co-chairman Donna Langley called Morgan “a talented and collaborative partner.” Morgan is currently assembling his production team, which will be housed on the Universal lot. He is currently developing three projects to produce: The Eye of the World, with Universal; The Vatican Tapes, with Lionsgate; and Heatseekers, with Platinum Dunes at Paramount.
EXCLUSIVE: Shortly after Arnold Schwarzenegger left the Governor’s Mansion and Tweeted his desire to resume his acting career, there seems to finally be some action on his signature franchise, The Terminator. I’m told that interest is kicking back up. One interested party: Universal, which is looking for a directing vehicle for Justin Lin. He helmed the last three installments of The Fast and the Furious franchise, including the latest Fast Five, which Universal releases April 29. I’ve heard that the plan would be to possibly pair him with Chris Morgan, who aside from Fast Five has credits on big scale Universal films that include the upcoming Keanu Reeves actioner 47 Ronin and Wanted.
Since being acquired in bankruptcy court last February by Santa Monica-based hedge fund Pacificor for $29.5 million, The Terminator has maintained radio silence, surprising given the voracious studio appetite for branded tent pole projects that lend themselves to 3D technology. Part of the reason was the subpar results of the last film, but also the bankruptcy auction which left the two most likely distributors, Sony Pictures and Lionsgate, walking away in disgust. Pacificor, one of the debt holders that forced Halcyon partners Victor Kubicek and Derek Anderson into bankruptcy, was the surprise winner, bidding close to the $30 million that Kubicek and Anderson paid to acquire the rights back in 2007 from producers Andy Vajna and Mario Kassar.