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Francis Lawrence To Direct ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay’ Pics

Francis Lawrence is seeing through Lionsgate‘s The Hunger Games franchise until the end. The director of the first sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, now in production, has now signed on to helm the final two installments of the series, Mockingjay Part 1 and Mockingjay Part 2, which splits the final book in Suzanne Collins’ trilogy into two films. Danny Strong is writing both Mockingjay pics, and Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth are back to star. The final two movies follow heroine Katniss Everdeen’s journey as she leads the districts of Panem in a rebellion against the tyrannical and corrupt Capitol, and she must decipher for herself who she can trust and what needs to be done, with everything she cares for in the balance.

Lawrence, whose credits include Constantine, I Am Legend and most recently Water For Elephants, replaced Gary Ross at the helm of Catching Fire in April. He was chosen in a race that came down to Lawrence and Moneyball helmer Bennett Miller, after Juan Antonio Bayona couldn’t do it. He is currently wrapping production on the pic with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jena Malone and Amanda Plummer joining the cast. Lawrence is repped by CAA and 3 Arts. Read More »

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TOLDJA! Philip Seymour Hoffman Is Plutarch Heavensbee In ‘Hunger Games’ Sequel ‘Catching Fire’

Mike Fleming

When Deadline revealed a month ago that Philip Seymour Hoffman had ended his Death of a Salesman run by leaving his longtime agency Paradigm, we were first to tell you that Hoffman was being courted by Lionsgate to play the role of Plutarch Heavensbee in the Francis Lawrence-directed The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Lionsgate has confirmed that he’s set to join Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson and will play the head game organizer in the film, which should be a welcome respite from his grueling nightly performances as Willy Loman in the Mike Nichols-directed Tony-winning Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s classic play. Here’s the release:

Santa Monica, CA, July 9, 2012- Lionsgate® and the filmmakers of THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE are pleased to announce that Philip Seymour Hoffman has been cast in the role of Plutarch Heavensbee, Head Gamemaker for The Hunger Games, in the much anticipated film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ worldwide smash hit novel Catching Fire.

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Director Francis Lawrence Chosen For ‘Catching Fire’ Sequel To ‘Hunger Games’

By | Thursday April 19, 2012 @ 5:52pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Catching Fire Hunger Games Francis LawrenceBREAKING: Lionsgate has tapped Francis Lawrence to direct Catching Fire, replacing Gary Ross as director of the second installment of The Hunger Games franchise. Deadline told you last night it came down to Lawrence and Moneyball helmer Bennett Miller, after Juan Antonio Bayona couldn’t do it. Miller was very interested, but wanted Lionsgate to push back so that he could make the Steve Carell-starrer Foxcatcher. Lionsgate wants to start production in late August, and wouldn’t do it (that’s the reason they lost Ross, who didn’t see a way to prep the picture in time). So that left Lawrence, and Catching Fire Francis Lawrencerumors have been flying all day he’d get the gig. Lawrence last helmed Water For Elephants, and before that I Am Legend and Constantine and before that videos for the likes of Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Green Day. Lawrence can jump right into the project and get Jennifer Lawrence through the second installment before Fox enforces an option for her to make the second installment of X-Men: First Class. Some feel that Fox might not even make that early 2013 start date, but there is testiness between the studios after Lawrence wasn’t made available to do promotion on X-Men: First Class because she was on Hunger Games duty. CAA and 3 Arts rep … Read More »

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Lionsgate Getting Close On ‘Catching Fire’ Director

By | Wednesday April 18, 2012 @ 7:31pm PDT
Mike Fleming

The race to replace Gary Ross as director of The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire is likely between Moneyball director Bennett Miller and Francis Lawrence, who most recently directed Water for Elephants and who handled a big scale movie in I Am Legend. I’m told that Lionsgate also met with The Orphanage helmer Juan Antonio Bayona, and that they also discussed Attack The Block director Joe Cornish. But Bayona appears to be busy–though he’s not completely out of it–and the Cornish conversation didn’t materialize into a meeting. If I had to guess, I would think the likely candidate to be Miller, who’s coming off such an impressive film. He’s very picky, but word is he is quite interested in replacing Ross in Catching Fire. The sticking point: he wanted to push until spring so he could make Foxcatcher for Fox. Lionsgate wants to start by August and doesn’t want to wait. That could put Lawrence in the driver’s seat. We should know the answer in a matter of days and possibly before the week is out.

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Scott Frank To Write And Direct GK Films Adaptation Of British Miniseries ‘Unforgiven’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Scott Frank will rewrite and direct a feature adaptation of the 2009 British miniseries Unforgiven for GK Films partners Graham King and Tim Headington. When the project was set at GK last year, Christopher McQuarrie was signed to write the early draft as a potential vehicle for Angelina Jolie. McQuarrie did his job before going off to direct Tom Cruise in One Shot for Paramount. Jolie had never been formally attached, and so it won’t be clear who’ll star until Frank does his rewrite and gets the film ready.

Frank is finishing Houdini for Sony Pictures and director Francis Lawrence, and he also scripted Hell’s Angels for director Tony Scott and Fox. Both of those are priority projects and his adaptation of the Lawrence Block novel A Walk Among the Tombstones was resurrected by Cross Creek Pictures for DJ Caruso to direct. Frank made his directorial debut on his script The Lookout.

Unforgiven is about a woman’s attempt to rejoin society after she serves a 15-year prison stretch for the murder of two policemen. The tragedy happened after the policemen came to evict her family from their farmhouse. Her hope is to live quietly and reunite with her troubled younger sister, but the paroled woman is targeted for a revenge campaign by two sons of one of her victims. Suranne Jones played the lead in the original miniseries, which was … Read More »

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Walden Media Set To Co-Finance Louis Zamperini Film ‘Unbroken’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After more than 54 years of trying, Universal Pictures is getting closer and closer to telling the unbelievable story of Olympian-turned-WWII POW Louis Zamperini in a feature film. Walden Media has just signed on to co-finance with Universal Pictures the screen adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s bestseller Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption. The Water for Elephants team of screenwriter Richard LaGravenese and director Francis Lawrence are prepping the story about the unbreakable spirit of Zamperini, the former Olympic track prodigy who endured unimaginable hardship as a WWII POW at the hands of Japanese prison guards. Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff are producing; Lawrence and Mick Garris are exec producers.

Universal bought Zamperini’s rights back in the 1950s, when Tony Curtis planned to play him right after he completed Spartacus. Zamperini, still kicking at age 93, has waited all this time to see his story turned into a feature film. Baer has been pushing the ball up the hill for more than a decade, but it turned out that the best thing to happen to the project was Hillenbrand’s book, which has drawn a fresh audience to Zamperini’s story of perseverence. Universal previously turned Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit into the Gary Ross-directed hit. In book form, Unbroken blew past Seabiscuit‘s sales figures in its first four weeks, and has been at or near the top of The New York Times bestseller list since its publication six months ago. Read More »

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Richard LaGravenese To Adapt Lou Zamperini Survival Tale ‘Unbroken’ From Laura Hillenbrand Book

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Richard LaGravenese to adapt Laura Hillenbrand’s bestseller Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Francis Lawrence is attached to direct the film about the unbreakable spirit of Louis Zamperini, the former Olympic track prodigy who endured unimaginable hardship as a WWII POW at the hands of Japanese prison guards.

LaGravenese will be working for the second straight time with Lawrence on a book adaptation. The scribe adapted the Sara Gruen novel Water For Elephants into the drama that Lawrence directed for Fox 2000 with Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz starring. Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff are producing Unbroken. Lawrence and Mick Garris are exec producers.

The studio acquired Unbroken after previously turning Hillenbrand’s book Seabiscuit into the Gary Ross-directed hit. Unbroken, which has been at or near the top of The New York Times bestseller list for 18 weeks, outsold Seabiscuit in its first four weeks. It also gave momentum to a movie about Zamperini, something Universal first tried to make in 1957, when the studio optioned his rights for a movie that was going to star Tony Curtis. Read More »

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Universal Buys Laura Hillenbrand WWII Bestseller ‘Unbroken’ For Francis Lawrence

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has acquired screen rights to Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling new book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The studio is in talks with Francis Lawrence to direct, and wants Crazy Heart helmer Scott Cooper to write the script. Lawrence, best known for helming I Am Legend, just completed Water for Elephants for Fox 2000, with Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz starring.

The studio that rode Hillenbrand’s book Seabiscuit into the winner’s circle as a film now hopes she’ll work the same magic on the story of the unbreakable spirit of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic track prodigy who endured unimaginable hardship as a WWII POW. The deal, worth 7-figures if the movie gets made, gives an important second wind to a project that Universal has been trying to make for more than 50 years. Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff will produce. Filmmaker (and Zamperini’s son-in-law) Mick Garris is exec producer.

Hillenbrand’s Random House book, currently number 2 on The New York Times bestseller list, fleshes out Zamperini’s survival story in remarkable detail. As a youth, Zamperini transformed from a Depression Era troublemaker into the “Torrance tornado,” a world class runner who became the youngest American to compete on the U.S. team. He ran in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and though he didn’t medal, Zamperini ran a final lap so fast that Adolf … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Water For Elephants’

Mike Fleming

20th Century Fox has released a trailer for Water For Elephants, the Francis Lawrence-directed adaptation of the bestselling novel. Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Inglourious Basterds‘ Oscar winner Christoph Waltz star in a love triangle under the Big Top.

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