UPDATE, 2:25 PM PT: I have found out more about author Don Winslow‘s move from Simon & Schuster and back to Knopf. The first of the two books he’ll write under the new pact is a sequel toThe Power Of The Dog, the 2005 seminal epic novel about the drug war that Winslow spent six years writing. It was the book that established him outside the U.S. Turns out Winslow spent the last five years writing the sequel and researching the drug biz in Mexico, the U.S. and other countries. The new book picks up the characters and storyline where the original ends, in 2005. It covers the drug scourge until the present, as seen through the eyes of a maverick DEA agent.
The book, called The Power Of The Dog Part II, is being edited by Knopf chairman/editor-in-chief Sonny Mehta, and it will be released in late 2015, ahead of the film adaptation of The Power Of The Dog. The sequel will be the first book published under the new deal, and he will follow with a four-quadrant action thriller that marks a departure for Winslow. The second book will be shopped to studios and filmmakers shortly. In addition to the Knopf deal, Winslow’s lit agency The Story Factory has made seven-figures in deals for Germany (Droemer), Italy (Einaudi), Japan (Kadekowa), France (Seuill) and the UK (William Heinemann). The other 25 territories are in the works.
The Power Of The Dog really hooked me into Winslow’s fiction. For its large canvas and sweep, it reminded me of the way that Dennis Lehane stepped up in The Given Day, and Stephen King did the same with The Stand. For Winslow, this creates a film sequel opportunity, as the first book is being adapted by Avatar 4 co-writer Shane Salerno & Nikolaj Arcel & Rasmus Heisterberg, latter of whom adapted the Swedish The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and followed with A Royal Affair. Arcel is set to direct with Salerno producing. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg, who scripted the Swedish The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and followed with the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee A Royal Affair, have found their next project. It’s a feature adaptation of The Power Of The Dog, the epic Don Winslow bestseller framed around the drug war and a 30-year struggle between a hard DEA agent and a family of cartel kingpins in Mexico.
Savages author Don Winslow has won the Raymond Chandler Award. The honor, awarded at the Courmayeur Noir Festival 2012, has been won in the past by the likes of John le Carré, John Grisham, and Michael Connelly. The private detective-turned crime novelist will be on hand to accept the award in December. His books have always sold well overseas, but Winslow is finally getting some Hollywood action on novels that include The Winter Of Frankie Machine, Satori and Power of The Dog.
“I have always been convinced that there is a strong interplay between noir and cinema, and personally I think that my writing has been heavily influenced by the big screen unconsciously because I grew up with the films, because they have been consciously contaminated by the work of directors like Truffaut, Fellini and Woo,” Winslow said. “Films like Eight and a Half and La Strada encouraged me to take risks with the creative structure of my novels, especially Savages. ”
Savages was published in Italy by Einaudi under the title The Beasts, and the same house publishes the prequel The Kings Of Cool next month.
EXCLUSIVE: After two so-so attempts to adapt James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux terrific mystery novel series into features, the New Orleans-based crime saga is being redrawn for cable TV. Fox-based producer Hutch Parker has optioned Burke’s books and is packaging the series. After how well FX and Graham Yost did with Elmore Leonard’s U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens character in the series Justified, cable sounds like just the place for Robicheaux. There is certainly a wealth of material that can be used to paint the picture of the Vietnam vet-turned police detective who works out of New Orleans and whose temper–and imposing size–often leads him to meet criminals on their own vicious terms. Burke started the series with 1987′s Neon Rain, and Simon & Schuster just released his latest, Creole Belle, the 19th book in the series. Burke’s colorful writing brings to life the French Quarter like no mystery writer I’ve read, as he and his hot-blooded, tortured hulking private eye pal Clete Purcell take on the pimps, drug dealers, Klansmen and fat cats preying on the underclass. Burke has also worked his personal outrage with the conditions that caused the disaster of Hurricane Katrina into his prose, and he has won two Edgar Awards for his work and been named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. The two attempts at features were the 1996 Heaven’s Prisoners with Phil Joanou directing and Alec Baldwin starring, and the 2009 Bertrand … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Hutch Parker Entertainment has partnered with producer Shane Salerno to develop Savages author’s Don Winslow’s bestselling 2007 thriller California Fire And Life. The producers will be going out to screenwriters and filmmakers shortly.
California Fire And Life tells the story of Jack Wade, once a rising star cop who fell from grace in a scandal and now makes his living as an arson investigator. His cardinal rule is “don’t get involved”, but when Jack sees the charred corpse of a young woman that has been written off as an accident, he becomes obsessed with hunting down the killer. Both Savages and Winslow’s new novel The Kings Of Coolare on the bestseller list. Read More »
In my view, there hasn’t been a quality author more underrated than Don Winslow. He hooked me with The Winter of Frankie Machine and Power of the Dog, but various turns in turnaround hell on his movies has made him a well kept secret for close to two decades. While I think that Universal miscalculated by moving the Oliver Stone-directed Savages from its fall berth to last weekend on not enough screens (the films Ted and Magic Mike provided stiff competition in the counter-programming to blockbusters niche that the studio sought for Savages), Winslow’s novel Savages has just gotten back on The New York Times bestseller list, and so has The Kings of Cool, his recently released prequel to the audacious drug tale. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In an intriguing pairing of two top crime novelists, a script is in the works by Don Winslow, author of novels that include Savages and The Winter Of Frankie Machine, and Chuck Hogan, whose Prince Of Thieves was turned into the Ben Affleck-directed The Town. The untitled script is a contemporary crime thriller, of course, and it will be produced by Shane Salerno. The plot revolves around two men who inevitably collide, amidst a host of supporting characters. Winslow and Hogan will each focus on one of the characters and meld the plot into a script that Salerno will bring to studios once it is completed.
Hogan has written for GK Films an untitled script that focuses on Boston’s notorious Winter Hill Gang and John Martorano, chief enforcer for James “Whitey” Bulger who became the government’s main witness. GK acquired his rights after Martorano was released following a 14-year prison stretch for a series of murders. It was during those legal proceedings that a corrupt relationship between Bulger and the FBI’s Boston office was exposed. The script is out to directors. Hogan also teamed with Guillermo del Toro on the trilogy of vampire novels that began with The Strain. The final installment, The Night Eternal, was published last fall and a film or TV deal is inevitable once del Toro completes work on Pacific Rim. Hogan is currently adapting his crime thriller Devils In Exile for Marc Shmuger’s Global Produce. The project, renamed Sugar Bandits, focuses on a group of Iraq War veterans who take on Boston’s drug trade. It goes to buyers in June. Read More »
Universal has released its first trailer for Savages, the Oliver Stone-directed adaptation of the bestselling Don Winslow novel about two pot growers from Laguna who are muscled by a Mexican drug cartel. When the cartel kidnaps the woman they share, the growers come up with a novel but dangerous way to pay the ransom. The film stars Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Benecio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch and Demian Bichir. The script was written by Shane Salerno & Winslow & Stone. Universal was impressed enough to move the film from fall into the July 6 slot. The trailer will play in front of American Reunion.
EXCLUSIVE: Simon & Schuster has moved the publication date of the Don Winslow novel The Kings Of Cool from fall to June 26. The move was made to bring the book closer to the launch of Savages, the Oliver Stone-directed adaptation of Winslow’s novel that stars Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson and Blake Lively. The Kings Of Cool is a prequel to Savages. After seeing Stone’s cut, Universal Pictures moved Savages from September 28 to July 6, where the film’s summer setting seemed more appropriate and because it seemed like a neat counterprogramming to some of those summer behemoths. S&S is also releasing the Savages movie tie-in novel May 29, and the trade paperback movie tie-in novel on June 5.
EXCLUSIVE: Looks like Universal Pictures smells a summer hit in Savages, the Oliver Stone-directed adaptation of the bestselling Don Winslow novel. After screening a cut late last week, the studio has moved the film up to a July 6 slot. It had been scheduled to be released September 28. That puts it right in the heat of the summer with a shot at counter-programming against the tentpoles. Sony opens The Amazing Spider-Man on July 4 and Fox’s Ice Age sequel opens July 13 (along with the Universal-distributed Seth MacFarlane-directed comedy Ted). The Dark Knight Rises follows on July 17.
Scripted by Shane Salerno & Winslow & Stone, the film focuses on Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch), two pot growers who refuse to knuckle under to a Mexican cartel and then have to find a way out after the cartel kidnaps the free-spirited girl they share (Blake Lively), who’ll be killed if the pot growers don’t capitulate and pay a huge ransom. They do it by ripping off the cartel’s shipments, a most dangerous game. The film also stars Benicio Del Toro, freshly Oscar-nominated Demian Bichir, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Emile Hirsch, Twilight Saga‘s Mia Maestro and Salma Hayek. Simon & Schuster recently announced it would publish a prequel novel by Winslow to coincide with the film’s fall release, and it will be interesting to see if the publisher moves … Read More »
New York, NY, January 4, 2012: Simon and Schuster announced today that Don Winslow’s The Kings of Cool, the much-anticipated prequel to his New York Times bestseller Savages will be published to coincide with the release of Academy Award winning filmmaker Oliver Stone’s major film of Savages from Universal Pictures in September 2012. Savages stars Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro (Traffic), Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights, John Carter, Battleship), Blake Lively (Gossip Girl, The Town), Demian Bichir (A Better Life), Aaron Johnson (Anna Karenina), two-time Oscar nominee John Travolta, Oscar nominee Uma Thurman, Emile Hirsch (Milk), Mia Maestro (Twilight) and Oscar nominee Salma Hayek. The screenplay is written by Shane Salerno & Don Winslow & Oliver Stone.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has acquired the Don Winslow bestselling novel Satori and will develop it as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio to play a Westerner, raised in Japan and taught an assassin’s skills, who gets caught up in the chaos of post-WWII as the U.S., Soviet Union, France and China maneuver for power in Southeast Asia in the early 1950s. Shane Salerno will write the script with Winslow, and John Lesher’s Grisdi Productions and DiCaprio’s Appian Way partner Jennifer Killoran are producing. Salerno is executive producer.
DiCaprio will play Nicholai Hel, raised in Japan by a martial arts expert and genius at Go, the complex chess-like Japanese game. The master, a Japanese general, passes on all his secrets and the student repays him by murdering his mentor as an act of devotion; the military leader would have been disgraced and killed as a war criminal.
For that act, Hel is thrown in solitary confinement in a Tokyo prison and tortured for three years. He is finally sprung by the CIA after agreeing to assassinate the Soviet commissioner to China. Hel is trained for the task by a beautiful French woman he falls in love with. Though he now sees a happy ending to the dangerous assignment, Hel is betrayed by his backers and, using his Go skills for strategy, makes his way through Vietnam hunted by American, Chinese, Russian and French intelligence agencies as well as a Corsican mob and Vietnamese criminal syndicate. It’s a sophisticated thriller, and the studio sees potential for its own Jason Bourne-type action franchise. Read More »
BREAKING: NBCUniversal’s new owners at Comcast have given a vote of confidence to the studio’s feature film operation. They’ve exercised an option on Universal Pictures’ Chairman Adam Fogelson and extended his contract through 2014. I’m told that Fogelson is, in turn, in the process of exercising the option of Donna Langley and she will continue as the studio’s co-chairman. They will also keep their executive team intact. Fogelson will continue to have full day-to-day operating responsibility for the Motion Picture Group, reporting to Universal Studios President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer (whose contract was recently re-upped through 2015) and will now also report to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke.
While Universal has had its ups and downs, higher-ups are clearly convinced that Fogelson, Langley and their team are making progress. They’ve had recent hits –Bridesmaids, Hop! and Fast Five– but also had some recent misses that include The Dilemma, Change-Up and Cowboys & Aliens. In the latter case, the studio was on the hook for one-third of the film, and shared that third with Relativity Media. It has also been a year in which Fogelson and his team have made some painful decisions and let pricey productions go. That began with the Guillermo Del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness, which Universal developed for years and which was ready to go with Tom Cruise, until the studio made a late decision not to go forward because of the possibility the $150M film could carry an R-rating. Universal also dropped two projects that were in advanced stages of development: The Dark Tower, the Akiva Goldsman-directed adaptation of the Stephen King novel series that was to be made into three feature films and two limited-run TV series, with the first film and TV segment directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer and Goldsman; and Oiuja, the Hasbro board game that had McG directing and Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners producing with Hasbro. The moves were surprising because Howard and Grazer are cornerstone filmmakers for Universal; and Del Toro and Hasbro have overall deals there. Ouija is one of several Hasbro properties the studio dropped, the others being the Gore Verbinski-directed Clue, the Ridley Scott-directed Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering. These were part of a groundbreaking deal the studio made with the toymaker several years ago, but the studio and Hasbro have re-focused their attention solely on Battleship, Stretch Armstrong, and Candy Land. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Simon & Schuster has made a deal for Don Winslow to write a prequel novel to Savages, his bestseller that forms the basis of the film that Oliver Stone will begin shooting for Universal Pictures July 6, with Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Emile Hirsch, Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro starring. Simon & Schuster’s Jofie Ferrari-Adler acquired the book from CAA. The Story Factory made his publishing deal.
Savages, a book that got wide acclaim last year before its paperback publication (The New York Times named it one of the top 10 books of 2010), focuses on a couple of Laguna-based pot growers who are muscled by a Mexican drug cartel that kidnaps O, a young woman who’s their best friend and occasional bed partner. Faced with an impossibly high ransom, the growers begin hijacking the cartel’s own shipments to ransom back their friend. That book has something of a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid climax, so a sequel wasn’t in the cards. The idea of the prequel book came from Shane Salerno, who wrote the movie script with Winslow and Stone. The prequel fleshes out the relationship between the pot growers (played by Kitsch and Johnson) and O (played by Lively), and will add interaction with characters from Winslow’s other novels that include The Winter of Frankie Machine and The Power of the Dog. Winslow is already deep into the writing and … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Oliver Stone is putting together a killer cast for Savages, the drama based on Don Winslow’s bestselling novel. Stone is arranging a Pulp Fiction reunion of John Travolta and Uma Thurman, as the two actors are in talks to join the ensemble cast. Also joining is is The Town’s Blake Lively, who beat out a group of young actresses to play the role of O. Travolta will play Dennis, a burned out DEA agent, and Thurman will play O’s mom, Paqu.
They join Taylor Kitsch, already set to play who’ll play the role of former Navy SEAL Chon (Kitsch has already begun training with the real SEALs); Aaron Johnson, who plays the role of Ben; Salma Hayek, who’ll play the role of Mexican cartel queen-pin Elena; and Benicio Del Toro, who plays the vicious cartel enforcer Lado. The script is by Winslow and Shane Salerno. There are several more roles to go.
Universal Pictures is financing and distributing the film, which begins production in early July. Savages focuses on the relationship between best friend Laguna pot growers Chon and Ben, who live a cozy life with their trippy galpal, O. Their pot is so good that the Mexican cartel tries to coerce them into working for the cartel. When they refuse, the cartel kidnaps O and charges a heavy ransom to … Read More »
Despite the laughable claim of exclusivity just now by another outlet, I can report that Deadline’s March 19 scoop about Oliver Stone’s Savages heading to Universal is getting closer, but it’s not closed yet. They are now in exclusive negotiations, but they are still ironing out details. Still, as Deadline told you, Universal will be the distributor when all is done. Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch and Benicio Del Toro are set to star in the adaptation of the Don Winslow bestseller, with a script by Shane Salerno and the author. Salma Hayek is also in talks. Two other studios had been in discussions.
Johnson and Kitsch are set to play Ben and Chon, two best friends who are growers of primo pot in Laguna and who share an unusual relationship with a trippy beauty named O. Not only are they all best friends, she has been lovers with each guy. Their lucrative zen existence is interrupted by a visit from the drug enforcer Lado (Del Toro) who tells them they will have to work for his boss, a Mexican cartel matriarch (the role Hayek is in talks to play). When they refuse, O is kidnapped, the growers are forced to come up with an outrageous ransom which they accumulate by ripping off the matriarch holding their friend hostage.
Stone is right now testing actresses to play O, the role that was going to be played by Jennifer Lawrence … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Benicio Del Toro is signing on to play a deadly drug cartel enforcer in Savages, joining Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch in the drama that Oliver Stone is directing, based on the Don Winslow bestseller. The project is moving toward a potential deal with Universal, though two other studios remain in discussions. Johnson and Kitsch are set to play Ben and Chon, two best friends who are growers of primo pot in Laguna. They share an unusual relationship with a trippy girl named O. Not only are they all best friends, she has a relationship with each. Their quiet lucrative life is interrupted by a visit from the drug enforcer Lado (Del Toro) who tells them they will have to work for his boss, a Mexican cartel matriarch. When they refuse, O is kidnapped, and they are forced to come up with a fortune in ransom. They plot to do it by hijacking the cartel’s drug supply, right under the nose of Lado, who is highly suspicious.
Stone is honing the script with Shane Salerno and Winslow. Jennifer Lawrence was going to play O, until she was set for the lead in the Gary Ross-directed The Hunger Games at Lionsgate. I’m told that Stone has cast a wide net for O, looking at established names and unknowns. Salma Hayek is also in the mix for the role of the Mexican … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Savages, the Oliver Stone-directed adaptation of the Don Winslow novel, is zeroing in on a distribution deal. Universal is in pole position with two others in the running. Along with Aaron Johnson, Stone is in talks with Taylor Kitsch to play the two Laguna-based pot growers arm-twisted into working for a Mexican cartel when they kidnap O, the free spirited best friend of the growers. Kitsch, best known for Friday Night Lights and a showy small role as Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, just starred in Universal’s Battleship after completing the title role in Disney’s John Carter of Mars. The distribution situation should be resolved within the next week, but I’m hearing Universal will wind up with the picture.
Aside from Johnson and Kitsch, I’ve heard Stone is looking at Salma Hayek to play the cartel matriarch, an iron-fisted beauty who becomes intrigued and practically maternal over the kidnapped gal. But business is business, and the drug kingpin is suddenly plagued by a problem: someone is ripping off her drug shipments. What she doesn’t know is it’s the guys she’s trying to muscle. Kitsch plays Chon, an iron-hard former operative who is a remorseless killer and seems to only have room in his heart for his growing partner and O. Jennifer Lawrence has fallen out of the O role because of her commitment to The Hunger Game, and Stone … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: At a time when the Hollywood movie star landscape is being made over with new faces, Kick-Ass star Aaron Johnson is cementing his place in this new order. He has been offered two lead roles in high profile films with strong scripts and A-list directors, in parts that have been pursued by all the young guys. I believe he’ll do both films.
I’m told that Johnson has been offered one of the two male leads in Savages, the Oliver Stone-directed drama about two best friend pot growers who share a gorgeous lady and a huge problem: their pot is so good that a Mexican drug cartel has kidnapped their gal and will kill her if the growers don’t go to work for the cartel. That pic, which has a script by Shane Salerno and Don Winslow (who wrote the novel on which the movie is based) will shoot in June. Jennifer Lawrence is Stone’s first choice to play O, the kidnapped free spirited sexpot, but her commitment to The Hunger Games (Deadline told you last Friday that was happening) has made her participation uncertain at the moment.
Johnson has also been offered the romantic lead role alongside Keira Knightley in Anna Karenina, the adaptation of the Tolstoy classic tragic love story that has a script by Tom Stoppard and will be directed by Atonement helmer Joe Wright for Working Title. That film will likely shoot in the fall, so Johnson … Read More »