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.” READ MORE »
EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks is setting Lasse Hallstrom to direct The Hundred-Foot Journey, an adaptation of the Richard C. Morais novel about the rivalry between an Indian restaurant that is 100 feet away from a three-Michelin-star restaurant in France. … Read More »
Disney announced today that the release date for DreamWorks’ Wikileaks movie The Fifth Estate has moved to October 11, more than a month earlier than its initial November 15 date. And Delivery Man has moved … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks is firming up a January production start for Glimmer, and a big reason for that is so that it will allow some scheduling room for Dylan O’Brien to play the lead. Jeremy Allen White also … Read More »
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: Read More »
BREAKING: DreamWorks and Warner Bros will team on Steven Spielberg‘s next film American Sniper, with Bradley Cooper aboard to star in the autobiography of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Cooper optioned the book himself, along with … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks just closed a deal for Las Madres, a comic pitch for a script that will be written by Lona Williams. Scott Stuber will produce. The logline: Three friends, who have recently found themselves unemployed, … Read More »
Jeffrey Katzenberg has revealed his latest film project, Tibet Code, an Indiana-Jones-style adventure based on a series of Chinese novels set in 9th-century Tibet. The DreamWorks Animation CEO announced the project, a co-production with Oriental DreamWorks’ Chinese partners, China … Read More »
BREAKING: DreamWorks Studios and Participant Media have acquired feature film rights to the story of the Catholic Church’s decades-long cover-up of its pedophile priests in Massachusetts. The scandal was uncovered by a year-long investigation by the … Read More »
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. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Dreamworks has set Nikolaj Arcel to direct Rebecca, a remake of the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film. The picture, which has a script draft by Eastern Promises scribe Steven Knight, is being produced by Working Title … Read More »
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. Read More »
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 Read More »
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. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Black List alumni Matt Cook has come on board to adapt Button Man: The Killing Game for DreamWorks. The scribe joined the film last month. Previously, Insomnia scribe Hilary Seitz and Paranoia co-screenwriter Barry Levy had worked on the adaptation of the ultra-violent graphic novel created by John Wagner and Arthur Ranson. Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn is helming Button Man. The story centers on Harry Exton, a hired gun who decides to abandon the death match that gambling millionaires have set up to amuse themselves. In the process of opting out, he finds he might not only have to kill his fellow contestants but also the guys pulling the strings. The film is produced by Roger Kass, Josh Braun, Mark Sourian and Michael De Luca. Read More »
Monolith Films has inked a long-term deal to distribute DreamWorks films in Poland. ”We feel honoured to become a strategic distribution partner of such a legendary film studio as DreamWorks. As the leading, independent distributor in Poland we have great hope that this partnership will lead to several joint projects that will be successful both on the Polish and international film distribution market,” Mariusz Łukowmski, president of Monolith group, told Film New Europe, which first reported the deal. The upcoming DreamWorks titles slated for distribution include the Vince Vaughn-starrer The Delivery Man; The Fifth Estate, a drama about the WikiLeaks scandal; and the action pic Need For Speed. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In a high-six against seven-figure pre-emptive deal, DreamWorks has acquired Shore Leave, a male-driven action comedy pitch that will be written by Steve Pink and Jeff Morris. Pink will direct the picture. The deal reunites … Read More »
The co-star of the in-limbo Fox series Ben And Kate has been added to the cast of DreamWorks‘ adaptation of the EA video game, which already stars Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper and Imogen … Read More »
DreamWorks Studios continues to line up overseas distributors as part of its agency deal with Mr Smith Entertainment back in August designed to make such arrangements easier to finalize. The new markets announced today in Europe, Africa, and … Read More »