EXCLUSIVE: Religion-themed pics are all the rage, and I’ve learned that Gravity and Harry Potter producer David Heyman is set to produce the adaptation of Reza Aslan’s Zealot: The Life And Times Of Jesus Of Nazareth. The bestseller was acquired by Lionsgate in December, and former Focus Features chief James Schamus is penning the adaptation.
Iranian-American writer and scholar Aslan’s book was published in 2013 and named one of the best of the year by Publishers Weekly. It’s a historical account of the life of Jesus, analyzing the various religious perspectives on him as well as the creation of Christianity. Set in 1st century Palestine, the story challenges long-held assumptions about the Galilean. “Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Dr. Aslan sheds light on one of history’s most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived,” Lionsgate said when it picked up the title. Aslan added at the time that his objective in writing the book was to “illuminate the life of Jesus in a humanistic, as opposed to religious, context.” While Schamus pens the transfer, I hear that top directors have expressed interest.
Heyman will produce with Jeff Clifford. The pair also is teamed on The Queen Of The Tearling, the adaptation of Erika Johansen’s upcoming novel that’s part of a trilogy to be published by HarperCollins this year. Mark L Smith, who co-wrote Alejandro … Read More »
Here’s a first look at the eponymous bear in the David Heyman-produced Paddington. The Weinstein Co’s TWC-Dimension label is releasing the movie in the U.S. on December 12; it will go out ahead of that in the UK on November 28 via Studiocanal which is fully financing. Colin Firth voices Paddington, the curious young Peruvian bear with a passion for all things British who travels to London in search of a home. Lost and alone at Paddington Station, he meets the kindly Brown family who offer him a temporary haven. It looks as though his luck has changed, until he catches the eye of a museum taxidermist played by Nicole Kidman. Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent also star. Paul King (Come Fly With Me, The Mighty Boosh) directs. The UK’s Framestore, which received so much recognition on the recent awards circuit for its work on Gravity, is handling VFX.
With Gravity looking like it is soaring at the box office today and the Harry Potter 8-pack of films successfully behind him, producer David Heyman is riding high. Of course, director Alfonso Cuaron and stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are getting the lion’s share of attention for the space drama, but Heyman is happy to give credit where credit is due. He actually was the one who brought Cuaron aboard for Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban. “We had a great experience on Harry Potter“, he said in a recent interview at Chateau Marmont. ” I asked him to do it which was a big thing.” This time around it was Cuaron who asked Heyman to get involved on Gravity and produce it with him.
“When he asked me to do it I jumped — there was not a moment of hesitation” Heyman said. “One, it’s a lovely compliment that he asked, and as a producer it’s what we dream about. I knew it was going to be challenging. He’s always pushing, never settling. We finished the film early this year and we hadn’t done the mix. He looked at the film and he said ‘Damn’. He had an idea which was to take the spacecraft and flip it because it was coming in top-up. You’re in outer space, there’s not up and down, so if you flip it’s fine but it took 10 weeks. One shot, two minutes. But he’s always pushing and never settling. So I knew it was going to be extraordinary, but to actually now be here and feel the response is pretty great,” he said.
That’s an understatement. The film was rapturously received at all three big fall festivals — Venice, Telluride and Toronto — a decision Heyman said was easy to make considering Cuaron is the director of such films as Y Tu Mama Tambien, A Little Princess and Children Of Men. “I think Alfonso is a filmmaker where festivals are responsive because there’s real art to his direction. It’s beautiful, fluid motion and I think there was faith in that and I think Warners, to give them credit, took a big leap in making this film. You know a female-driven action movie, not inexpensive, with one character alone for most of the time. But they believe in the filmmaker. Then they poured money into it . For a year and a half we had nothing . We were trying to figure out how to do it, and then when Alfonso decided he wanted to change the shot around, that’s probably 100K , they said ‘sure, go ahead and do it’. And then putting it on the festival circuit, they just believed in it,” he said.
Related: Venice: ‘Gravity’ Exerts Strong Pull
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The Weinstein Co has taken North American rights to the upcoming big-screen transfer of Michael Bond’s classic kids character Paddington Bear. Paddington will be the first release under a new label for the company, TWC-Dimension, which will see Harvey and Bob Weinstein team on films for which they share a common passion. The Harry Potter franchise’s David Heyman is producing Paddington which is fully financed by Studiocanal. Colin Firth has been set to voice the CGI bear and, in a reteam with his Railway Man co-star, Nicole Kidman will play an evil taxidermist out for revenge. Also joining the cast are Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent.
This is the first-ever live action film inspired by the books which Bond began in 1958. The story follows a curious young Peruvian bear with a passion for all things British who travels to London in search of a home. Lost and alone at Paddington Station, he meets the kindly Brown family who offer him a temporary haven. It looks as though his luck has changed, until this rarest of bears catches the eye of a museum taxidermist.
Principal photography starts this month with Paul King (Come Fly With Me, The Might Boosh) directing. Shooting is set to take place in the UK with Framestore handling VFX. Studiocanal has set a November 28, 2014 event release in the UK and will go day-and-date in its other territories that include France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. TWC-Dimension will release in North America in the first quarter of 2015. Studiocanal has international sales.
The project was initially announced in Cannes in 2012 and Studiocanal chairman Olivier Courson tells me the idea was to take time developing a script that would be a “real family comedy” that’s not just for kids. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has optioned the 1962 J.G. Ballard novel The Drowned World for Heyday Films. Harry Potter series producer David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford will be the producers for Heyday, and Warner Bros’ Jon Berg is overseeing it.
The deal comes right after the 50th anniversary of the book, which is set during 2145 and imagines a terrifying world in which solar radiation has melted the ice caps. Jungles have overrun continental Europe, and London is for the most part left submerged under water. The protagonist is a biologist who lives on the 35th floor of a high-rise, where only two floors sit above the water line. He battles a savage environment, and primordial creatures that prowl the undergrowth. Oh yeah, and there are also the Mad Max-like anarchists who rule the city and terrorize its inhabitants. Read More »
Chase Novak‘s Breed: A Novel was published in September by Mulholland Books and centers on a couple that undergoes an experimental fertility treatment that turns them into bloodthirsty savages, leading them on a desperate quest to find a cure. Summit has acquired rights and hired Burr Steers to write and direct the horror thriller, which will be produced by David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford of Heyday Films. A sequel novel is already in the works. The Breed deal marks the second partnership for the Lionsgate company and Heyday, after the studio acquired Erin Morgenstern’s novel The Night Circus and tapped Moira Buffini to write it. Last month, DreamWorks Studios was in exclusive talks to acquire M.L. Stedman’s debut novel The Light Between Oceans, which Harry Potter series producer Heyman will produce with Clifford.
Steers most recently directed Charlie St. Cloud and 17 Again, and his writing credits include How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days and Igby Goes Down, which he also helmed. He is repped by CAA and Gotham Group; CAA brokered the deal for Novak in conjunction with Janklow & Nesbit Associates. Read More »
BREAKING: DreamWorks Studios has acquired feature film rights to Leigh Bardugo’s young adult fantasy debut novel Shadow And Bone. Harry Potter producer David Heyman will produce alongside Jeffrey Clifford. The book was published in June 2012 by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, and is the first in a planned three-book series called the Grisha Trilogy. A young woman must learn to control her newly discovered power in order to save her country from the Shadow Fold, a creature-filled darkness that threatens to overrun the land. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Brothers has acquired screen rights to The Planet Thieves, an upcoming young adult novel by Dan Krokos that will be published next May by Tor/Macmillan. The film will be produced by Heyday Films and Benderspink along with Pouya Shahbazian. Heyday’s David Heyman is coming off the Harry Potter series, which seems somewhat appropriate since it was pitched to the studio as Harry Potter set in space. Read More »
Saoirse Ronan is returning to her period roots with the David Heyman-produced Testament Of Youth. The Atonement actress, who’s lately made a detour into action, has become attached to the adaptation of Vera Brittain’s World War I memoir. The tome, adapted by Calendar Girls’ Juliette Towhidi, traces Brittain’s experiences as a disillusioned nurse during the war and the beginning of her career as a journalist and pacifist. Heyday Films and BBC Films are producing.
Presenting its slate in Cannes today, BBC Films also announced it is reteaming with My Week With Marilyn director Simon Curtis for The Golden Lady. Playwright Alexi Kaye Campbell wrote the script. David Thompson of Origin Pictures is producing. At the center of the film is Maria Altmann, a refugee from Nazi Austria who waged a legal campaign with lawyer Randy Schoenberg to reclaim several world famous Klimt paintings that had been stolen by the Nazis. Among them was his most famous golden portrait of Maria’s aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer.
Michael Bond’s first Paddington book was published in 1958, but the film version will be a modern take. Harry Potter producer David Heyman and Studiocanal are teaming for the CGI live-action adaptation. Paul King (Bunny And The Bull) will direct the story of the curious young bear who travels from Peru to London’s Paddington station where he’s taken in by an English family. Studiocanal is financing and has distribution via its subsidiaries in the UK, France and Germany. The company will also handle international sales.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has made a whopping deal to acquire screen rights to Unholy Night, the new novel by Seth Grahame-Smith. Grahame-Smith will write the script, and he and KatzSmith partner David Katzenberg will produce with Heyday Films’ David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford. I’ve heard that the deal is in the vicinity of $2 million upfront for the rights to the book and for Grahame-Smith to adapt it. The studio got first look at the book, as both KatzSmith and Heyday are based at Warner Bros. That is where Heyman produced the Harry Potter film series and where Grahame-Smith scripted the Tim Burton-directed Dark Shadows. Unholy Night, an action/adventure surrounding the Three Wise Men of the Nativity, will be published in April by Grand Central.
Setting up a film based around the birth of Jesus Christ gives Warner Bros its third high-profile movie based on a seminal religious story. The studio has been discussing the possibility of Steven Spielberg directing Gods And Kings, an epic-sized film about the life of Moses scripted by Michael Green and Stuart Hazeldine. And Warner Bros recently set up a project being scripted by Joe Eszterhas and Mel Gibson (who has first option to direct) about the heroic story of Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee, who teamed with his father and four brothers to lead the Jewish revolt against the Greek-Syrian armies that had conquered Judea in the second century B.C. Maccabee’s triumph and struggle against tyranny and oppression where people gave their lives so that others would be free to worship is celebrated by Jews all over the world through Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Jeffrey Clifford, the former creative exec at Disney and Warner Bros who ran Montecito for Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollock for the last four and one-half years, will move back to the Warner Bros lot to run Heyday Films for David Heyman. The deal isn’t done but Clifford will be set in the president post this week, I’m told. At Montecito, Clifford has a producing role in such films as Up in the Air, I Love You Man, and No Strings Attached. This is a signal that Heyman will ramp up his picture output at the studio. He has been consumed for the past decade, producing Harry Potter movies for Warner Bros. That odyssey comes to an end with the final installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a book that was split into two movies. Heyman’s in post on the picture, which will be released July 15. Heyman next is producing Gravity, the Alfonso Cuaron-directed 3D science fiction adventure film that will star Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Heyman will remain in London, where the Potter films were shot, and where Gravity will also be filmed.