EXCLUSIVE: Nonso Anozie (The Grey) will play Sergeant Dap in the film version of Orson Scott Card’s best-selling novel Ender’s Game. The film, which begins production this month in New Orleans, is a futuristic adventure about brilliant young strategist Ender Wiggin, who is drafted by the International Fleet to save the human race. Gavin Hood (Academy Award winner Totsi) will direct from a script he adapted. In addition to Anozie, Stevie Ray Dallimore (Joyful Noise) has been cast as Ender’s father John and Andrea Powell (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2) joins as Ender’s mother Theresa. The three star opposite Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, and Asa Butterfield as Ender. Anozie is repped by Meg Mortimer at Principal Entertainment and Megan Willis at the UK’s Garricks. Summit Entertainment is co-financing and will release the film domestically March 15, 2013.
EXCLUSIVE: Jeremy Renner, who received an Oscar nomination for the Ben Affleck-directed heist film The Town, is back in bank robbery mode. Renner is attached to star in King of Heists, an adaptation of the J. North Conway nonfiction book from Lion Press about one of the greatest bank robberies in American history. He’ll play George Leslie, who came to New York appearing to be a mannered gent, but secretly put together a crew and masterminded a heist of nearly $3 million in cash and securities from the Manhattan Savings Institution in 1878. Renner and his The Combine partner Don Handfield will produce with Black Bear Pictures’ Teddy Schwarzman. Black Bear Pictures optioned the book and plans to finance development and production.
Will Staples will write the script. Staples most recently sold the science fiction pitch Myth to Fox with Sam Worthington attached and Lorenzo di Bonaventura and James Cameron producing. Staples, who until recently wrote with partner Sean O’Keefe, is teamed with him on an adaptation of the Lorenzo Carcaterra novel Apaches for Jerry Bruckheimer, the pitch World’s Most Wanted at Universal and Kings of the Trail at Walden Media with Gavin Hood attached to direct. Black Bear Pictures is in production on the untitled Ramin Bahrani-directed pic that stars Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid, and begins filming A.C.O.D. with Adam Scott next spring.
Paramount isn’t confirming any of this, but I’m told that there soon should be good news and bad news on the Star Trek sequel front. The good news: With his film Super 8 set for release June 10, JJ Abrams is expected to announce shortly his return as director of Star Trek 2. The bad news: Even moving at warp speed, Abrams will be hard pressed to make the June 29, 2012 release date that the studio set for the film. I’m told that the move being considered right now is to push Trek back for a Holiday 2012 release. This comes after Paramount pushed back the other franchise film in its arsenal that has Chris Pine as its star. Pine’s also playing Jack Ryan in the reboot of the Tom Clancy-created series. Pine was expected to shoot that film first, but the script wasn’t ready. Paramount hired David Koepp to rewrite Adam Cozad’s script. Koepp just began writing this week after completing his film Premium Rush.
Why is Star Trek in such precarious shape, just 13 months before its release date? The film has three top-flight writers in Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof. Like Abrams, all of them have been busy on other films. Kurtzman directed Welcome to People. Orci has been busy on Cowboys & Aliens and in prepping the Gavin Hood-directed sci-fi epic Ender’s Game. Lindelof has been busy working on Prometheus, the Ridley Scott film for Fox that was conceived as a 3D prequel until Lindelof came on to do a rewrite and changed the concept so much that they consider it an original. The result? It doesn’t sound like they are close to having a script that will live up to the high quality of the first film that revived a dead franchise.
EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment is acquiring U.S. rights to a live-action adaptation of the Orson Scott Card science fiction novel Ender’s Game, with Gavin Hood set to direct his script. Summit, which is winding down its Twilight Saga series, is co-financing Ender’s Game and eyeing it as an opportunity to hatch another youth-driven series, with protagonists that are slightly younger than the kids in the upcoming The Hunger Games trilogy. It’s another opportunity to discover young talent, because the protagonists in the film are just entering their teens. Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are producing through their K/O Paper Products banner, along with Odd Lot’s Gigi Pritzker and Linda McDonough, the author and Lynn Hendee. Digital Domain is also an equity partner. The film will be shopped at the upcoming 2011 Cannes Film Festival, with Nick Meyer’s Sierra/Affinity brokering offshore deals. The plan is to put the film into production by early next year.
Ender’s Game is a seminal futuristic novel that Card originated as a short story in 1977 and then turned into a 1985 book that won both the Hugh and Nebula Awards and spawned a series. The storyline begins on Earth after an alien attack, when gifted children are recruited by a government desperate to fight back. The kids are taught a competitive game that’s a cross between the Quidditch matches of Harry Potter and the Jedi light saber battles from Star Wars. Only the best and brightest will be chosen. A young boy emerges as a genius strategist, and the planet’s best hope to destroy the alien Formic race.