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.
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.
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 …
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 …