EXCLUSIVE: Who says jury duty is a waste of time? DreamWorks is negotiating right now with Fuji TV for remake rights to the Japanese film Like Father, Like Son (Soshite Chichi Ni Naru). The catalyst for the deal: …
EXCLUSIVE: In a pre-holiday week Friday night deal, DreamWorks is pre-emptively acquiring The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig, a poet and short story writer. It is the first of a trilogy, and Carla Hacken is attached to be producer, one of the first deals for the former exec who signed a producing deal with the studio. The book circulated in manuscript form. The plot: 400 years after a nuclear apocalypse, society is left without technology and all humans are twins. One of each pair is physically perfect, and they are called Alphas, while the other, the Omega, bears some mutation. The apartheid society forces the mutated twins to settlements, even though when one twin dies, so does the other. This is the relationship between a brother and sister twin, and what happens when he becomes a leader in the repressed society. I’m told the author has sketched out the other two books for buyers, and they are confident there is a solid trilogy here.
How Jason Hall Went From Struggling Actor To Hot Screenwriter With ‘American Sniper’ And Two More Big Deals Coming
EXCLUSIVE: Jason Hall was marked an A-list screenwriter the moment DreamWorks and Warner Bros joined forces after Steven Spielberg agreed to direct Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, based on the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Not surprisingly, both studios want more from Hall. Warner Bros has just closed a blind script deal with him, and I’ve learned that DreamWorks is in early talks to have Hall adapt the upcoming David Finkel book Thank You For Your Service, about the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder syndrome that is becoming a major issue for vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s something Spielberg likes as a potential project down the line, though that is all early days.
I sought out Hall because I find it instructive to see how a guy with one screen credit (2009′s Spread) and another coming (an adaption of the Joseph Finder novel Paranoia) gets white-hot so quickly. Every writer’s trajectory is different, but there’s a common thread: there is no such thing as an overnight success screenwriter. It’s years of struggle to find a voice, and then maybe a lucky break. Hall came to Hollywood to be an actor, and only found his way to screenwriting because things were going so badly. “I did TV parts in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and other shows, playing the bad guy or the MacGuffin bad guy, with the half-baked mustache,” Hall told me. “I would read these terrible movie scripts, and I couldn’t get auditions. I thought, maybe I could write a terrible script for myself, but they wouldn’t even let me audition when I did that. My first script, I remember this funny lawyer telling me I was getting more than Ben and Matt did at the beginning. This producer says, I know you want to act in this, but what if I told you Milos Forman wanted to direct this, with someone else?” Still in full actor mode, Hall was direct: “I remember being in the lobby of The Four Seasons, and saying a little too loud, ‘Milos Forman can go fuck himself!’ So that went away, and then I wrote another script about a blind wrestler. I wrestled since I was a kid, and there are these great blind wrestlers who compete up to nationals. I’ve wrestled them, and you have to keep your hands on them at all times, and if you separate the ref blows the whistle and connects you again. Some of these guys are really good. So I’m ready to play this blind wrestler, and John Dahl is interested and says to me, this is perfect for Matt Damon. And I said, ‘Matt Damon can go fuck himself!’ And that went away.”
Via its arrangement with David Garrett’s Mister Smith Entertainment, DreamWorks has steadily been adding to its portfolio of offshore partners. Today’s news is that it’s pacted with the Hadida brothers’ indie powerhouse Metropolitan Filmexport in France. It’s also entered a deal with Inter-Film for Ukraine and a multi-picture agreement with MediaPro for Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. Here’s the release:
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
Sundance Selects scored in the specialty arena this weekend, opening Gimme The Loot at its IFC Center in Greenwich Village with a solid $23,400. The movie, which IFC Films’ Sundance Selects label picked up last year out of the SXSW Film Festival, reported sold-out screenings Friday and Saturday nights, boosted by Q&As with former The Daily Show personality Wyatt Cenac. It premiered at MoMA on Tuesday with Sofia Coppola, Mike Birbiglia , Elizabeth Olsen, and Josh Safdie among the attendees. Loot next weekend will head to Chicago’s Music Box, L.A.’s NuArt and the Jacob Burns Center in Upstate New York. The Weinstein Company launched Cannes 2012 entrant The Sapphires in 4 NYC/LA theaters with a decent $10,232 average. Among other openers, Paladin debuted My Brother The Devil with two runs, averaging just over $6K. Starbuck is an original that DreamWorks Sudios is adapting to star Vince Vaughn. It was a hit at home north of the border, but opened comparatively quietly here, averaging $5,482 in three theaters. Next month, distributor eOne will take it to the top 30 to 50 markets. Archstone’s A Resurrection took in $7,250 at a single cinema.
DreamWorks Takes On Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Acquiring Upcoming David Finkel Book ‘Thank You For Your Service’
EXCLUSIVE: As Steven Spielberg has been barnstorming the globe, he revealed plans for a mini about Napoleon while in France and a movie in Kashmir as he has been touring India. He’s not abandoning the home front, though. DreamWorks has acquired screen rights to Thank You For Your Service, an upcoming book by Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter David Finkel. He is also the author of The Good Soldiers, the acclaimed 2009 book about his experience embedding with a battalion of elite soldiers that led the “surge” to overtake Baghdad called for by President George W. Bush in 2007.
That book dealt mostly with the soldiers and their battlefield experiences. Finkel’s follow-up, to be published in the fall by Sarah Crichton Books, covers the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that is making it so difficult for these and other soldiers to return from the battlefield and reintegrate into society. I am told DreamWorks will soon set a major writer to script a film. It’s unclear whether Spielberg would direct this, though he certainly has done his share of war films, and PTSD is going to become a growing problem as troops continue returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, many of them traumatized by their experiences.
Steven Spielberg‘s international tour of newsy tidbits continues. Speaking to France’s Canal Plus recently, the filmmaker dropped info about his development of a Napoleon miniseries based on a screenplay by Stanley Kubrick. Yesterday, Spielberg was in India to talk about Lincoln, meet with the local industry and attend a party hosted by Anil Ambani, the head of DreamWorks partner Reliance Entertainment. He also spoke to The Times Of India about a project that DreamWorks plans to make locally. “We have finalized a script for a movie that DreamWorks and our partners Reliance Entertainment plan to make together. Part of it will take place on the India-Pakistan border in Kashmir. But we’re still trying to figure out the casting, locations and who’s going to direct it,” Spielberg told the paper. He also renewed talk of a long-gestating Martin Luther King project saying “DreamWorks-Reliance is also planning a movie on Martin Luther King Jr. I wouldn’t call it a biopic, it’s more a story of King and the movement and also about how his admiration for Mahatma Gandhi helped to shape his moral core.” DreamWorks acquired the civil rights leader’s life rights from the King Estate in 2009
EXCLUSIVE: As New Line today opens Jack The Giant Slayer and Disney readies next week’s Oz The Great And Powerful, Hollywood’s infatuation with revisionist fairy tales shows no signs of abating. DreamWorks jumped into the fray last night by closing a mid-six figure against seven-figure deal for Merry Men, a pitch for a film that will be scripted by Brad Ingelsby with Act Of Valor co-director Scott Waugh attached to direct. Neal Moritz will produce through his Original Film banner. Waugh will also be a producer through his Bandito Bros shingle and Toby Ascher will be exec producer.
I’m told that the pitch is for a tentpole re-imagining of the Robin Hood legend. There has been no shortage of movies on him, starring the likes of Errol Flynn, Kevin Costner and most recently Russell Crowe. This is an ensemble piece centered around the supporting characters Little John, Friar Tuck, Maid Marian and Will Scarlet. There is a high-concept revenge angle that tonally is reminiscent of The Dirty Dozen and Ocean’s Eleven.