EXCLUSIVE: Chris Columbus is negotiating to become attached to direct The Secret Lives of Road Crews, an action comedy script by Kevin Lund and T.J. Scott about a clandestine group of road crew workers who are the last line of defense against a subterranean alien race. The script was originally bought as a spec by DreamWorks for producer Hal Lieberman several years ago, and it was one of the projects that former DreamWorks production president Adam Goodman brought with him to Paramount when those studios divorced. Lieberman is the producer, and Craig Mazin was brought in to do a rewrite. Goodman pitched it to Columbus and they are negotiating right now, but he has quietly been working on it. They are out to writers to get another pass on the script. Brad Weston had also been a producer on the project, but he will likely move to executive producer after taking the CEO post at New Regency. Columbus last directed Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and his 1492 just produced the hit DreamWorks film The Help. He’s repped by WME.
BREAKING: Jason Bateman is attached to star with Bridesmaids‘ Melissa McCarthy in the Universal comedy ID Theft. Bateman is producing the comedy with Scott Stuber. Script’s by The Pursuit of Happyness scribe Steve Conrad with Craig Mazin rewriting. The premise was originally for a guy who gets his identity stolen by another guy, and it was written for Bateman and another actor. That changed after Bateman saw McCarthy’s scene stealing role in the summer hit Universal comedy Bridesmaids and he pushed for her to be the identity thief. This is meant to be McCarthy’s first film when Mike & Molly goes on hiatus, shooting in April 2012. Bateman has become an increasingly industrious producer, most recently setting up a movie deal for Under the Banner Of Heaven, the drama based on the Jon Krakauer non fiction book that got set up at Warner Bros, with Ron Howard directing and Dustin Lance Black writing. Bateman is producing the Brian Grazer, Shannon Costello and Stephanie Davis.
FX Nabs Rights To ‘Hangover Part II’
In a move that seems to be about commerce as much as comedy, Warner Bros has started the process on a third installment of The Hangover. Though my sources say there are no deals and that the players involved won’t really get cracking on it for months, it seems likely that Craig Mazin will be writing the three-quel. Reports are surfacing based on an interview he did to promote the film; others involved have hinted at the third pic as well. While Mazin doesn’t have a deal, after Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures just announced that the comedy crossed the $200 million worldwide mark and became the fastest comedy to surpass that number, developing the third film seems inevitable. The picture also blew past the Memorial Day weekend record for an R rated film.
Warner Bros hasn’t announced it’s going for three, and the timing of this film actually took longer than the last one: The Hangover Part II was commissioned before the original picture opened, because test audiences responded so well that Warner Bros knew it had a big hit. Now, there are hurdles to overcome. Warner Bros threatened to scrap The Hangover Part II because of salary disputes with stars Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms. Those guys were paid less than $1 million collectively to star in the first blockbuster, but luckily for the cast, they had no options for a sequel. Their reps smartly dug their heels in, and the trio each got around $5 million against 4% of gross, which ought to mean pretty good backend paydays for The Wolf Pack.
So Amazon decides to form Amazon Studios and to give away $2.7 million to wannabe screenwriters. (Here’s the actual 21-page Amazon Studios Development Agreement contract they have to sign.) Sounds good, right? Not necessarily creatively or financially. It’s easy to understand why Amazon wants to get involved with the creation of entertainment and not just its distribution. Or why filmmakers would want to break into the biz through this contest that gets them noticed, lets them win money, and maybe even lets Warner Bros release their movies. But a growing echo chamber of Hollywood scribes is warning wannabes to beware because of problems with copyright, authorship, Amazon Studios’ free 18-month option on a writer’s work the moment it’s uploaded, and rewriting by Amazon readers. Here’s some of the most confounding language:
Amazon Studios invites filmmakers and screenwriters from all over the world to submit full-length movies and scripts, which will then get feedback from Amazon readers, who will be free to rewrite and amend. Based on reaction (“rate and review”) to stories, scripts and rough “test” films, a panel of judges will award monthly prizes… You agree to be automatically entered into any future contests for which your work is eligible. The specific contest rules for future contests will be posted on this page when they are announced.
Prominent scribe and blogger John August asks this: ”Do you really want random people rewriting your script? To me, this feels like the biggest psychological misstep of the venture… Sure, most aspiring screenwriters …