Emile Hirsch signed to star in a film about the short but eventful life of John Belushi. The film’s scripted and directed by Steve Conrad, based on the Judith Belushi Pisano and Tanner Colby book Belushi. Hirsch is not an obvious choice to play the stout comic actor who soared to fame in the original Saturday Night Live cast and films such as Animal House and The Blues Brothers before dying in 1982 at the Chateau Marmont at age 33, becoming a cautionary tale of excess. The film, which shoots next spring in New York, is the first feature on Belushi’s life and death since 1989′s Wired. That film starred Michael Chiklis and was based on the Bob Woodward book. It was not embraced by Belushi’s widow, who’s part of the new version. Maybe it was too soon, or just too bracing a look at a his demise. Belushi’s brilliantly talented comic partner Dan Aykroyd is exec producing the new film, with Alexandra Milchan, Bonnie Timmerman, Film 360′s Scott Lambert and Judy Belushi Pisano.
David Gordon Green won the Silver Bear for best director at Berlin for this remake of the Icelandic comedy Either Way. Now the first trailer is out for Prince Avalanche, the character study about a guy (Paul Rudd) and his girlfriend’s brother (Emile Hirsch) who form an unlikely friendship after they decide to spend the summer of 1988 painting traffic lines on a very rural highway. Lance LeGault also stars in the film produced by Lisa Muskat, Derrick Tseng, Craig Zobel, James Belfer and Green, who also wrote the script. Magnolia Pictures — which picked up Prince Avalanche after its Sundance premiere in January — opens the R-rated pic in theaters August 9, day-and-date with its iTunes debut:
Holliday Grainger and Emile Hirsch will play the infamous bank-robbing couple Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in Bonnie & Clyde, Lifetime/History’s four-hour miniseries directed by Oscar-nominated helmer Bruce Beresford and produced by Sony Pictures TV and Craig Zadan and Meron’s Storyline Entertainment. They join Oscar winners Holly Hunter and William Hurt, who were recently cast in the project. Written by John Rice and Joe Batteer, the mini is based on the true story of Clyde Barrow (Hirsch), a charismatic convicted armed robber who sweeps Bonnie Parker (Grainger), an impressionable, petite, small-town waitress, off her feet, and the two embark on one one of most infamous bank-robbing sprees in history. Hunter will play Bonnie’s mother Emma Parker; Hurt plays Frank Hamer, the Texas Ranger credited with tracking down and killing Bonnie and Clyde. Originally set up at History, Bonnie & Clyde will now air simultaneously on two A+E Networks, History and Lifetime, the latter of which has taken lead on the mini’s development and production.
Entertainment One Films has acquired North American distribution rights to Twice Born in a deal with Wild Bunch. The film, directed by Sergio Castellitto and starring Penelope Cruz and Emile Hirsch, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Pic is the story of a single mother who brings her teenage son to Sarajevo, where his father died in the Bosnian conflict years before. The plan is to release theatrically in the US and Canada next year.
BREAKING: Emile Hirsch is in talks to play Navy SEAL Danny Dietz in Lone Survivor, the Peter Berg-directed drama that is being financed by Emmett/Furla Films for a September 25 start in New Mexico. Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch and Ben Foster are already poised to play the other main roles in the drama centered around four Navy SEALs. Universal Pictures, which developed the movie, will distribute.
An adaptation of the book by Marcus Luttrell (Wahlberg), Lone Survivor tells the harrowing story of how Luttrell and his Navy SEAL team members fought to stay alive after being ambushed in Afghanistan in 2005 by Taliban forces during a covert mission in the Hindu Kush mountain region, where the team went to kill a terrorist leader. Film 44 partner Sarah Aubrey, Akiva Goldsman, Barry Spikings are producing with Emmett/Furla’s Randall Emmett and George Furla, and Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson.
Berg, who covered the Middle East terrain previously with the taut drama The Kingdom, has put in the work on this one. He wrote the Lone Survivor script after embedding with a SEAL team for a month in Iraq, an experience that really gave him a chance to see how they do their job. When I first wrote that the picture was a go as Emmett/Furla stepped up, …
Summit Entertainment posted a TV spot for the alien-invasion movie The Darkest Hour. Directed by onetime art director/production designer Chris Gorak and starring Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby and Max Minghella, the Moscow-set sci-fi thriller opens Christmas Day.
Mickey Liddell’s Liddell Entertainment closed a U.S. rights deal from Voltage Pictures for Killer Joe, the drama directed by William Friedkin that premiered Sunday night at the Ryerson Theater. This might get CAA bragging rights for the largest sale of the festival so far, with a $4 million minimum guarantee and an even larger P&A commitment. The UTA-brokered Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was also a large deal, said to be in excess of $5 million. Liddell is working on a distribution plan right now for 2012, and he will make a service deal with a distributor. Deadline revealed last night that Liddell was going to get the film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival before coming to Canada. The sexy drama stars Matthew McConaughey as the contract killer title character as well as Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon and Juno Temple. In Killer Joe, Hirsch plays a drug dealer whose cash gets stolen by his mother and has to come up with $6000 or he’s dead. He hires Killer Joe (McConaughey) when he learns mom’s life insurance policy is worth $50,000. Joe usually demands his money up front but is flexible when the drug dealer offers his sister as sexual collateral.
UPDATE: Sellers of Friends With Kids say I jumped the gun and their auction hasn’t concluded. I believe that Lionsgate is squarely in the mix, but they tell me others are still in it too and the outcome isn’t as certain as I’d heard last night for a deal that will be for U.S. only. Will update information as it develops.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE: The deal logjam here is on the verge of clearing up. Word is rampant that Lionsgate is on the verge of tying down rights to the Jennifer Westfeldt-directed comedy Friends With Kids, with a deal worth upwards of $2 million for U.S. and five other territories. The ensemble comedy stars Westfeldt, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig and Adam Scott as friends whose lives are altered when they start families. Cinetic and Red Granite are selling.
In another deal taking shape, Mickey Liddell is in talks to acquire rights to the William Friedkin-directed Killer Joe, the drama that made its Toronto debut Sunday. It is the first acquisition of the festival for Liddell, whose last year acquisitions included the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed Biutiful.
EXCLUSIVE: A major shake up is taking place at Arnon Milchan’s New Regency. Co-chairmen Bob Harper and Hutch Parker will not renew their contracts when they expire in December. I’ve confirmed with Harper that he and Parker are negotiating their exits. There had recently been a ripple of rumors about this, and there will be the inevitable speculation over whether the duo are jumping before being pushed. Harper didn’t get into that, but said that he was confirming because he and Parker were aware of the rumors and were most concerned with reassuring filmmakers with Regency projects that the duo would continue to be closely involved and see those films through to release. Harper also said the decision came after months of conversations with Milchan over whether or not to renew. Recently, they came to the conclusion that this was the best course. Milchan could conceivably name a replacement quickly, but Harper told me that he and Parker will continue to see through the completed films as well as some of the projects that are gearing up for production starts, regardless of how quickly the succession takes place.
Harper had been in the job for four years (he moved from the post of vice chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment and has worked for Fox since 1986), and Parker had been in the post for more than three years (he moved over from the post of 20th Century Fox vice chairman, and had been with the studio 13 years when he took the job). They have been involved in every facet of New Regency films, including production, marketing, distribution and administering the library. Harper said it is unclear what will happen next year, and that he and Harper haven’t solidified their plans. I wouldn’t be surprised if they remain on the Fox lot as producers or in some other capacity.
Summit Entertainment has released a trailer for The Darkest Hour, an alien invasion movie that focuses on a group of kids on holiday in Moscow when crazy things begin happening. The Chris Gorak-directed pic stars Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby and Max Minghella. It will be released Dec. 23.
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 …
Fox International Productions is producing a thriller with the working title of Bunker to be filmed in Bogota, Colombia … Gina Gershon, Thomas Hayden Church and Juno Temple have been added to director William Friedkin’s Killer Joe for Voltage Pictures. The project is adapted by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Tracy Letts from his own play. The cast joins previously-announced Matthew McConaughey and Emile Hirsch. Production stars this week in New Orleans … Anchor Bay Films has acquired distribution rights to Joker Films’ Daydream Nation, starring Kat Dennings … John Carpenter will serve as the executive producer of The Hell Within. The Barry Films project is about a woman who goes on a quest into the heart of a Brazilian jungle to save a girl, only to discover that the girl was bait … The Wagner/Cuban Company’s Magnet Releasing, genre arm of Magnolia Pictures, has acquired US rights to Thai title BKO: Bangkok Knockout.
TORONTO: The sexy part of the Toronto Film Festival is the acquisition deals and especially the unveiling of Oscar-caliber films. But pictures are also being put together. Among them: Matthew McConaughey and Emile Hirsch will star in Killer Joe, a black comedy that William Friedkin is directing for Nicolas Chartier’s Voltage Pictures. Filming begins November 8th in New Orleans. Friedkin is teaming again with Tracy Letts (Bug) who’s scripting the pic based on his play about a Dallas detective who is also a hired killer. Chartier produces with Scott Einbinder of ANA Media. UPDATE: Another Toronto title being shopped is A Dead Man In Debford, a Little Film Co pic that stars Brighton Rock‘s Sam Riley and Ray Winstone.
Summit has scheduled director Doug Liman’s Fair Game starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts for a limited run starting November 5th, expanding on November 12th, and again on November 19th. The studio also slotted Timur Bekmambetov’s The Darkest Hour 3-D for August 5th, 2011 from director Chris Gorak starring Emile Hirsch.
EXCLUSIVE: UTA was just informed today, and the actor’s agent Shani Rosenzweig is gobsmacked, I’m told. The tenpercentery had repped Emile Hirsch for seven years. The star of Speed Racer, which opened dismally over the weekend, is planning to park himself with his manager Sam Maydew, I’m told. “He claims he just doesn’t want an agent,” an insider informs me. “It’s further evidence how talent is nervous in this town. This is a total shocker.” Look, UTA helped make Hirsch one of the best-known young leading men of his generation in films like Into the Wild (for which he was nominated for several awards), Alpha Dog, and Lords Of Dogtown, The Girl Next Door. He’ll also be starring in the upcoming Gus Van Sant pic Milk. This year, he was ranked #17 on Entertainment Weekly‘s high-profile “30 Under 30″ actors list. (2008). UTA doesn’t deserve this.