Comic-Con Q&A With Edgar Wright: How Working Title Partner Eric Fellner’s Health Scare Put ‘The World’s End’ Before Marvel’s ‘Ant-Man’

By | Thursday July 25, 2013 @ 9:59am PDT
Mike Fleming

Edgar Wright came to San Diego with cohorts Simon Pegg and Nick Frost to show the Comic-Con crowd The World’s End, the final installment of a trilogy of films that began with Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz. The trio greeted a raucous crowd that had spent about 12 hours or more camped outside the theater to get an early glimpse at the Working Title-produced comedy that Focus Features bows August 23. Wright took a few minutes to talk with Deadline.

DEADLINE: You had the Hall H crowd at the Marvel panel frothing last year when you took the stage and showed cutting-edge footage of Ant-Man, which Marvel hopes will launch a new superhero franchise. The crowd loved seeing the protagonist going from microscopic to full size. But you pushed that movie and came to San Diego with The World’s End. How did that happen?
WRIGHT: I had a chance to do Ant-Man in 2011. Simon was busy with three franchises, if you count Tin-Tin along with Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. We had the story down and it was in the back of my mind that if we didn’t do this film soon it might never happen, and we owed it to the fans. But then something else happened. [Working Title partner] Eric Fellner was diagnosed with cancer. When I found out about that, I’d literally just finished another screenplay for him and it was on delivery that he told me. He has given me permission to tell this story. That changed everything. Eric was our knight in shining armor on Shaun Of The Dead. That film was in turnaround, developed by Film 4 and they’d gone bust. Lots of other British companies had passed on it. Working Title, ironically the biggest British company, came in and saved the day. He wanted us to do another film together; we’d even done the deal for it. When I found out he was ill, one of many emotions I felt was, if we didn’t make this film, and something terrible happened, I would never forgive myself on not making good on my promise to do it. I wanted Eric to see this movie.

Related: Comic-Con: ‘The World’s End’ Isn’t The End For Wright, Pegg & Frost

DEADLINE: What did you do?
WRIGHT: Me and Simon began writing it the very next week; in fact, we wrote it in Eric’s office in Beverly Hills. He was having chemo and said, please take my office, do it there. We wanted to make the film anyway, but it became a very personal thing. The happy news is, we’ve made it, he loves it and he’s got a clean bill of health. He came out of that ordeal and went straight into a tough period where he made Les Miserables and our film. It informed the movie script. The film is about regrets and these guys saying, I’ve got to do this thing. That sentiment became personal. To Marvel’s credit, when I went to see them to tell them to their face I wanted to do Ant-Man but that I wasn’t doing it next, Kevin Feige and Louis D’Esposito said they understood. We’ll see you in a couple years, they said. Read More »

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Working Title’s Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner To Receive PGA’s David O. Selznick Award

By | Wednesday November 14, 2012 @ 11:01am PST

LOS ANGELES, CA (November 14, 2012) – The Producers Guild of America (PGA) is pleased to announce that Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, co-chairmen of Working Title Films, will receive the 2013 David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures. The award recognizes a producer’s, or a producing team’s, outstanding body of work and is the PGA’s highest honor for motion picture producers. Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner will be presented the award at the 24th Annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony on Saturday, January 26th at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

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Saoirse Ronan To Play ‘Mary Queen Of Scots’ In Working Title Feature

By | Thursday August 9, 2012 @ 2:59pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Mary Queen Of ScotsEXCLUSIVE: Working Title has attached Saoirse Ronan to play the title role in Mary Queen Of Scots, a Michael Hirst-scripted period drama. Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are already talking … Read More »

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Working Title Partners Tim Bevan And Eric Fellner Re-Up At Universal Through 2015

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has re-upped Working Title Films partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner through 2015. This comes after the studio re-upped Imagine Entertainment in January, keeping the studio’s most tenured production companies in the fold. … Read More »

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Peter Cattaneo In Talks To Direct ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The Full Monty helmer Peter Cattaneo is in talks to direct Bridget Jones’s Baby, the Universal Pictures/Working Title sequel that brings back Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. Shooting begins early next year. The directing assignment has been … Read More »

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Working Title Television Sells 6 Projects

By | Wednesday November 16, 2011 @ 11:23am PST
Nellie Andreeva

In its second full development cycle, Working Title Television has sold six series projects in broadcast and cable. This is the largest slate in the 21-month history of the TV production company, a joint venture between NBCUniversal International and Working Title Films’ Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner that in July tapped Daniel Pipski as its new head. Four of Working Title TV’s six projects are at NBC and Universal Television, which have a first-look deal with the company through the joint venture arrangement: dramas We, The Potters written by David Sussman, McMafia written by Matt Johnson & John Turman and Gypsy Tea Room written by Chris Monger, and comedy My Nuclear Family penned by Lucy Dahl. Universal TV also produces The Outside Man, a light drama Working Title TV has in the works at NBCU’s flagship cable network USA with Matt Johnson and John Turman writing. The company’s remaining project, thriller drama Off The Grid, was set up at ABC before the recent relaunch of the former NBC production arm as a full-fledged studio producing for all networks, so it will be shepherded through ABC Studios. Read More »

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Eddie Redmayne Joins ‘Les Miserables’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Hot off My Week With Marilyn, Eddie Redmayne has been set to play the role of Marius in Les Miserables, the Tom Hooper-directed musical for Universal Pictures that stars Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert … Read More »

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Anne Hathaway Joins Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe In ‘Les Miserables’

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Anne Hathaway has closed a deal to join Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe in Les Miserables, the Universal Pictures and Working Title Films musical adaptation of the stage play and classic novel. Hathaway will play Fantine, and her participation … Read More »

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Olivia Wilde Lands ‘Rush’ Role Of Suzy Miller; Russell Crowe For Richard Burton Cameo?

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: It’s a role that a lot of actresses wanted, but I’m told that Olivia Wilde will play 1970s supermodel Suzy Miller in Rush, the Ron Howard-directed Formula One drama about the rivalry between drivers Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and … Read More »

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Cross Creek Makes Three-Year Distribution Deal With Universal Pictures

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Universal Pictures has made a three-year deal to distribute at least six pictures produced and funded by Cross Creek Pictures. The first film in this deal will be Rush, the Ron Howard-directed Formula One drama. Cross Creek, run by president Brian Oliver and CEO Timmy Thompson,  has quickly emerged as a significant film financier. They got started with the Darren Aronofsky-directed Black Swan and continue with the upcoming George Clooney-directed The Ides of March and Daniel Radcliffe-starrer The Woman in Black, which will be distributed by CBS Films.

The deal was announced by Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chairman Donna Langley, along with Oliver and Thompson.

Cross Creek is partnered with Exclusive Media Group as co-financier and co-producer of Rush, the Howard-directed drama about the battle between ’70s Formula One racers Niki Lauda and James Hunt that stars Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth and Inglourious Basterds‘ Daniel Bruhl. Peter Morgan wrote the script, and Howard and the actors shot some footage during Formula One races held at Nurburgring Race Track in Germany. It was there, in the 70s, that Lauda was almost killed in a fiery accident that is a major part of the drama. The film seems a natural fit for Universal, since Oliver’s fellow producers are Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. Both Imagine and Cross Creek have overall deals at the studio.

Aside from pictures that Cross Creek brings into the equation, the company will likely become a financier of existing Universal projects getting close to green lights. The budgets of the films will range from $15 million-$65 million, with the average film costing between $25 million-$35 million. Cross Creek is set up to generate up to four films per year, with Universal to distribute at least two of them with a wide-release commitment. Read More »

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Universal Gets Russell Crowe And Hugh Jackman For ‘Les Miserables,’ Sets December 7, 2012 Release

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal has landed Russell Crowe to play Javert to Hugh Jackman’s Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, the live-action adaptation of the Cameron Mackintosh-produced stage musical that will be helmed by The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper. Universal has slotted the film for release on December 7, 2012, right in the center of Oscar season.

The film is produced by Working Title Films’ partners Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan, along with Mackintosh and Debra Hayward. Liza Chasin is exec producer. William Nicholson wrote the script based on the classic novel and the stage play. The music is by Claude-Michel Schoenberg and Alain Boublil. Said Mackintosh: “Even though I have dreamt about making the film of Les Miserables for over 25 years, I could never have imagined that we would end up with the dream director Tom Hooper, and the dream cast of Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe as the two great protagonists Jean Valjean and Javert. Not only were they born to play these roles vocally, but they thrillingly inhabit this great score. Producing this film with Eric Fellner, Working Title and Universal Pictures is indeed a dream come true and I can’t wait to hear the people sing at my local cineplex.” Read More »

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Ron Howard-Directed ‘Rush’ Revving Up This Week On German Formula One Track

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Rush, the Peter Morgan-scripted drama about the battle between ’70s Formula One racers Niki Lauda and James Hunt, will rev up for action this week. The Ron Howard-directed film doesn’t really start principal photography until after Chris Hemsworth (he plays Hunt) completes Marvel’s The Avengers in a couple of months, but he and Inglourious Basterds‘ Daniel Bruhl (Lauda) will be around this weekend at Nurburgring Race Track in Germany. A race will be held there, featuring the Formula One classic cars that were driven during the 70s. Howard will be shooting 35mm all weekend with his cast.

This is more than just an opportunity for Howard to get generic footage on a race track; Nurburgring plays a pivotal part in the drama. That’s the track where Lauda, when he was reigning world champion and the only driver to ever complete a lap on that track in less than 7 minutes, tried to rally the other drivers to boycott the German Grand Prix race from being held there in 1976 because he felt safety arrangements weren’t up to snuff. When the other drivers voted against it, Lauda took the wheel and crashed his Ferrari on the second lap. Because it was so early in the race, Lauda’s car was full of fuel; his face was badly burned and he inhaled toxic hot gases that scorched his lungs before three rival drivers got out of their cars and pulled him from the wreckage. The film focuses on Lauda’s competitive spirit, which prompted him to get back behind the wheel despite being in severe pain six weeks later in Italy to stop Hunt from taking the world title. Read More »

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Between ‘Thor’ Turns, Chris Hemsworth Revs ‘Rush’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Chris Hemsworth will get behind the wheel to star in the role of British Formula One driver James Hunt in Rush, the Peter Morgan-scripted drama that shapes up as the next directing effort for Ron Howard. Cross Creek Pictures … Read More »

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Daniel Pipski Tapped As New Head Of Working Title Television

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Daniel Pipski has been named head of Working Title Television, the joint venture between NBCUniversal International and U.K.-based Working Title Films’ Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. He replaces Shelley McCrory, who had served as Working Title TV president since … Read More »

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If Hugh Jackman Plays Jean Valjean, Will Paul Bettany Play Javert In ‘Les Miserables’?

Mike Fleming

Universal and director Tom Hooper want Hugh Jackman for the role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. So who might stalk him in the role of Javert? I’m told that Paul Bettany is a candidate and that he read … Read More »

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‘King’s Speech’ Helmer Tom Hooper Closing On ‘Les Miserables’ As Next Pic

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Looks like Universal Pictures has won the battle for the next film to be directed by Oscar-winning The King’s Speech helmer Tom Hooper. The dealmaking has started for Hooper to direct Les Miserables, a full-blown musical adaptation of the … Read More »

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Universal Acquires Hot Berlin Title ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ With Oscar Winner Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has acquired domestic distribution rights to Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Spy, the Tomas Alfredson-directed adaptation of the John Le Carre novel that stars Gary Oldman, freshly minted Oscar winner Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong and Ciaran Hinds. … Read More »

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Working Title Buys New Childrens Franchise

By | Friday February 18, 2011 @ 10:32am PST

London-based Working Title has optioned The History Keepers, a new children’s novel due to be published by Random House Children’s Books in the UK this fall. It’s being pitched as “Harry Potter meets Doctor Who.” Actor-turned-screenwriter Damian Dibben’s debut novel … Read More »

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‘Unknown’ Director Jaume Collet-Serra Draws ‘Red Circle’ Remake

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: As his new film Unknown gets its international premiere in Berlin today and rolls out in U.S. theaters, director Jaume Collet-Serra is making a deal to direct Red Circle, the remake of the 1970 Jean-Pierre Melville-directed Le Cercle Rouge. … Read More »

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