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‘Huntsman 2′ Helmer Short List: Frank Darabont, Gavin O’Connor, Andy Muschietti

Mike Fleming

huntsmEXCLUSIVE: While all eyes have been on who’ll ultimately direct Ant-Man, Universal is getting down to finding a helmer for Snow White And The Huntsman 2. I’m hearing the shortlist consists of Frank Darabont, Gavin O’Connor and Andy Muschietti. Rupert Sanders helmed the first film, which grossed close to $400 million worldwide, a result that almost guarantees a second installment even if the first cost $170 million or so. This is an intriguing group of filmmakers. Darabont, after helming The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, hatched The Walking Dead and helped forge it into cable TV’s top-rated drama before getting fired. He hasn’t helmed a feature since 2007′s The Mist. Then there is O’Connor, who directed the cult favorite film Warrior as well as Miracle and stepped in and saved the Natalie Portman starrer Jane Got A Gun. Then there is Muschietti, the Mama helmer who was tapped by Universal to reboot its The Mummy franchise, before he fell out of that project. Universal and Roth Films are trying to have the Huntsman movie for 2016 — Chris Hemsworth had to say no to the Legendary sci-fi film Brilliance because he’s slotted to reteam with Kristen Stewart and do this sequel after The Avengers 2 — so a decision should be made soon. Stay tuned. Read More »

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WME Signs ‘Warrior’ Helmer Gavin O’Connor

By | Wednesday April 23, 2014 @ 2:25pm PDT
Mike Fleming

warrior-oconnorEXCLUSIVE: WME has signed Gavin O’Connor, the writer-director of the superb generational fighter tale Warrior, the indie Tumbleweeds, cop drama Pride And Glory, and the U.S. Gold Medal-winning hockey team saga Miracle.

warrO’Connor most recently directed the pilot that launched the FX series The Americans, and he came on to save the day when he signed on to direct Jane Got A Gun, the drama that stars Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor and Rodrigo Santoro. Relativity acquired the Western for release and will open the film later this year. O’Connor had been at CAA.

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Noah Emmerich Set To Play Natalie Portman’s Husband In ‘Jane Got A Gun’

By | Wednesday April 10, 2013 @ 8:05am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Noah Emmerich, whose work as a conflicted FBI agent has been a highlight of the FX Cold War series The Americans, has been set to play the final major lead role in Jane Got A Gun, the Gavin O’Connor-directed Western that stars Natalie Portman, Bradley Cooper and Joel Edgerton. Emmerich will play the outlaw husband of the title character (Portman) who is trying to keep her farm from going under. Knowing that his gang–led by a desperado played by Cooper–will come to kill her husband and destroy her farm, Jane hires her ex-lover (Edgerton) to stop them.

After that rough start when director Lynne Ramsay dropped out of the film the night before it went into production, Jane Got A Gun is several weeks into production. This will be the fifth film that Emmerich has made with O’Connor, after Tumbleweeds, Miracle, Pride And Glory, and Warrior (latter of which starred Edgerton). Emmerich also worked with O’Connor on The Americans; O’Connor directed the pilot for that freshman drama series, which stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys. Emmerich also starred with Portman in the Ted Demme-directed Beautiful Girls, which proved to a breakout for both actors. Of course, Emmerich played a married guy and Portman played a kid in that film, but hey, she’s grown up and there will be a different dynamic in Jane Got A Gun.

Scripted by Brian Duffield, Jane Got A Gun is being … Read More »

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‘Jane Got A Gun’ Has A New Bad Guy; Bradley Cooper Filling Jude Law Role

By | Friday April 5, 2013 @ 5:09pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Bradley Cooper Jane Got A Gun ReplaceEXCLUSIVE: Bradley Cooper is poised to join the cast of Jane Got A Gun, stepping in to play the bad guy role that Jude Law exited shortly after We Need To Talk About Kevin helmer Lynne Ramsay‘s abrupt exit. Cooper joins Natalie Portman and Joel Edgerton in the film that Warrior helmer Gavin O’Connor took over.

Related: ‘Jane Got A Gun’ Loses Director Lynne Ramsay On First Day

Despite a tough start, the film is now two weeks into production. The producers, including Scott Steindorff, Portman, Terry Dougas and Aleen Keshishian, have pulled off a minor miracle here. As Deadline revealed exclusively, the cast and crew found out the morning of the first day of shooting that Ramsay had withdrawn from the film. They managed to keep the crew and cast from scattering until they could set O’Connor. Then Law exited, because he wanted to work with Ramsay. I’ve seen independent films fall apart with less adversity, but these guys persevered. They got the film started, but needed to find a replacement with someone with comparable value to Law in the overseas marketplace. They’ve overachieved in landing Cooper. Read More »

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More Fallout On ‘Jane Got A Gun:’ Jude Law Exits Picture

By | Wednesday March 20, 2013 @ 10:02am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: While the troubled independent feature Jane Got A Gun got a new director this morning in Gavin O’Connor, fallout continues from Monday’s abrupt exit of helmer Lynne Ramsay. I’m told that Jude Law has formally withdrawn from the film. It is because he signed on to work with Ramsay, best known for the edgy drama We Need To Talk About Kevin. The producers of Jane Got A Gun have tried to hold its cast together when Ramsay stepped out, and this is the second significant star to drop out in the past few weeks. Michael Fassbender also exited, ostensibly because of a scheduling clash with his upcoming X-Men movie; he was replaced by Joel Edgerton. The latter worked with O’Connor on Warrior, so I would imagine he’ll hang in, and the film’s star, Natalie Portman, is also a producer on the film. Ramsay has declined comment. I’ll tell you more when I hear it.

Related:
‘Warrior’ Helmer Gavin O’Connor Rides To Rescue On ‘Jane Got A Gun’
SHOCKER: ‘Jane Got A Gun’ Loses Director Lynne Ramsay On First Day

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‘Warrior’ Helmer Gavin O’Connor Rides To Rescue On ‘Jane Got A Gun’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: When We Need To Talk About Kevin helmer Lynne Ramsay pulled a no-show and dropped out of helming Jane Got A Gun on the first day of shooting, producer and financier Scott Steindorff said they were determined to set a new director quickly and keep the picture from falling apart. Well, it looks like they’ve gotten themselves a good one. A deal is closing with Gavin O’Connor, the writer-director of Warrior, Pride And Glory, Miracle and Tumbleweeds. O’Connor will get the picture underway Thursday.

Related: More Fallout On ‘Jane Got A Gun:’ Jude Law Exits Picture

Considering how fragile independently financed productions can be, this is fairly remarkable that Steindorff and his fellow producers including Natalie Portman and Aleen Keshishian have managed to keep this picture from falling apart, and prevent the cast and crew from leaving the Sante Fe set and scattering to the winds. As Deadline revealed exclusively yesterday, the production endured what has to go down as the worst first day of shooting in movie history, when Steindorff was forced to gather the crew and castmembers Portman, Joel Edgerton, Jude Law and Rodrigo Santoro to tell them that after nine months of developing the project, the director wasn’t showing up after a series of negotiating twists and turns took place over the weekend.

Related: SHOCKER: ‘Jane Got A Gun’ Loses Director Lynne Ramsay On First Day Read More »

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‘Warrior’s Gavin O’Connor To Helm Contemporary Japan Crime Thriller ‘Yakuza’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Gavin O’Connor to direct Yakuza, a contemporary Japan-set thriller for Imagine Entertainment. Brian Grazer is producing. The focus is an American intelligence expert who becomes embroiled in the affairs of a notorious yakuza godfather and finds himself plunged into the violent criminal underworld and toxic landscape of post-tsunami Japan.

The project originated at Imagine, with a script originally written by Aaron & Matthew Benay, and rewritten by Chap Taylor. O’Connor will rewrite the script with Josh Fagin, and Imagine’s Kim Roth and Sarah Bowen will be executive producers.

O’Connor, who last helmed Warrior, is separately attached to direct Neverland, a Channing Tatum-produced revisionist look at Peter Pan for Sony Pictures that has a Billy Ray script, as well as The Samurai, a spec script he wrote with Michael J. Wilson, for Warner Bros. He’s also fashioning the Walter Tevis novel The Hustler into a stage play that O’Connor will direct. He is writing that with his Warrior co-scripter Anthony Tambackis. He’s repped by CAA.

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Gavin O’Connor To Direct ‘Neverland’ At Sony; Channing Tatum Producing

By | Thursday March 15, 2012 @ 6:16pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Gavin O'Connor NeverlandChanning Tatum NeverlandUPDATE: Channing Tatum’s rep said that he does not plan to star in the film at all, only produce.

EARLIER: Warrior helmer Gavin O’Connor will direct Neverland, the Billy Ray-scripted film that takes a new look at J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. The project is at Sony, and Channing Tatum is attached to star and produce with his partner Reid Carolin under their Iron Horse banner. The pair hatched the project together, and they brought in Ray and enlisted fairy tale go to guy producer Joe Roth, and they sold the pitch to Sony. Palak Patel is also producing. The film, described to me as an origin story of Peter Pan and Hook, rides the wave of revisionist tales after the Roth-produced Alice in Wonderland, and the craze continues with the Snow White pics Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman.

All this comes at a good time for the movie, as Tatum has become a bonafide up and coming star after The Vow, and that is expected to be enhanced with tomorrow’s opening of 21 Jump Street. Tatum’s repped by UTA and Management 360.

O’Connor, who directed the U.S. Olympic hockey team saga Miracle for Disney, directed one of the true gems of 2011 in Warrior, which was unfortunately sold by Lionsgate as a mixed martial arts film when it was a thoughtful father-son story that … Read More »

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Gavin O’Connor To Direct FX Cold War Drama Pilot ‘The Americans’

By | Thursday February 9, 2012 @ 5:01pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: In a rare TV directing gig, The Warrior helmer Gavin O’Connor has been tapped to direct FX’s Cold War period drama pilot The Americans. The project, created/executive produced by Joe Weisberg (Falling Skies) and executive produced by Justified showrunner Graham Yost, centers on two KGB spies posing as Americans in suburban Washington, DC in the early 1980s. Weisberg, a former CIA officer-turned-novelist-turned-TV writer, Yost and DreamWorks TV’s Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey are executive producing for Fox TV Studios and FX Prods. CAA-repped O’Connor’s latest feature, Warrior has been garnering accolades for co-star Nick Nolte, including an Oscar nomination.

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‘Warrior’ Co-Writer Lands Book Deal

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Tambakis, who teamed with Gavin O’Connor and Cliff Dorfman to write the underrated film Warrior, has sold his novel Swimming With Bridgeport Girls to Simon & Schuster for spring 2013 publication. This comes at a time when Tambakis and O’Connor are teamed on a stage play adaptation of The Hustler, the Walter Tevis novel that was turned into the 1961 pool hustler film that starred Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason. Tambakis and O’Connor are writing it and eyeing a Broadway bow, with Renee Zellweger aboard to play Sarah Packard, Fast Eddie Felson’s companion.

Swimming With Bridgeport Girls is a romantic comedy about a charismatic young gambler who loses everything and sets off on a quest to win back his wife, using a faulty recollection of the climax of The Great Gatsby as his inspiration. Tambakis will adapt the novel for the screen, and The Gotham Group will produce.

On the Warrior front, I am surprised that it is generating no awards-season buzz, especially for what should have been a breakout performance by Tom Hardy. Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte were also on top of their games in this tragic father-son-brother triangle.

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Lifetime Buys 1960s Drama Co-Created & Executive Produced By Renée Zellweger

By | Wednesday October 12, 2011 @ 4:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Lifetime has teamed with Renée Zellweger for Cinnamon Girl, a period drama series project set against the backdrop of the Los Angeles music and movie scenes of the late 1960s/early 1970s, which Lifetime president Nancy Dubuc called “a game changer” for the cable network. Oscar winner Zellweger co-created Cinnamon Girl with Anthony Tambakis (Warrior). The drama tells the story of four girls — Cassie, Lola, Penny and Lou — coming of age during a revolution and explores the characters’ lives at the crossroads of the era’s political, artistic, social and sexual rebellions. The genesis of the idea for project is a combination of Zellweger’s real-life journey from small-town Texas to Hollywood stardom and Tambakis’ lifelong fascination with both the Laurel Canyon music scene and the New Hollywood, auteur-driven era that began in the late ‘60s. Zellweger and Tambakis will executive produce Cinnamon Girl with Gavin O’Connor, who co-wrote Warrior with Tambakis and directed the movie. CAA-repped Zellweger and Tambakis will co-write the story, with Tambakis writing the script, O’Connor directing and Danny Bramson (Almost Famous) serving as producer and music supervisor. “Renée’s passion, clarity of character and deep emotion for this project immediately transported us to the late ‘60s/early ‘70s and created a resonance with us wanting to relive that energy,” Dubuc said. “Cinnamon Girl is a game changer for our network and is exactly the type of show we want to deliver.” The changes at Lifetime were key … Read More »

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Lionsgate Preps Sneaks of ‘Warrior’ Sept. 4

By | Tuesday August 30, 2011 @ 9:25am PDT

Lionsgate said today that it will offer nationwide sneak-preview screenings of Warrior, the Gavin O’Connor-helmed action drama starring Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy, on Sunday, Sept. 4 at 7 PM, ahead of the film’s official Sept. 9 bow. The studio is promoting the mixed martial arts pic via Twitter (it has sponsored a Promoted Trend, #WarriorMovieSneakPreview), which will offer a direct link to buy tickets to the Labor Day weekend screenings; Lionsgate hopes the hashtag will be used to discuss and share information about the movie leading up to its wide release. Tickets also can be purchased at warriorsneakpreview.com.

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Nick Nolte Joins ‘Gangster Squad’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Nick Nolte continues his recent career resurgence. He’s been set to join the cast of the Ruben Fleischer-directed Warner Bros drama Gangster Squad. Nolte will play Bill Parker, the new chief of police in Los Angeles, and the first in a awhile who hasn’t been corrupted by Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). The chief, a Purple Heart recipient at Normandy, is the one who starts the Gangster Squad, a crack team designed to bring down organized crime. Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Mireille Enos and Anthony Mackie star.

Nolte stars in the Gavin O’Connor-directed Warrior, and he just wrapped the Taylor Hackford-directed action film Parker for FilmDistrict opposite Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez and Michael Chiklis. Nolte is about to begin work on the Robert Redford-directed The Company You Keep opposite Redford and Shia LaBeouf, and he also stars with Dustin Hoffman in the David Milch/Michael Mann HBO series Luck.

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Eminem-Antoine Fuqua Boxing Drama ‘Southpaw’ Dropped By DreamWorks But Still Seeking To Answer Bell

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks has thrown in the towel on Southpaw, the boxing drama that has Eminem returning to the screen for the first time since 2002′s 8 Mile, and Antoine Fuqua directing a script by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter. The plan was to start in January. DreamWorks’ Stacey Snider, who worked closely with Eminem and his team on 8 Mile while she ran Universal, basically gave the project back to the filmmakers to set up elsewhere and that’s what they are trying to do. Maybe DreamWorks was concerned the market is crowded with  brawler films after The Fighter and the upcoming Gavin O’Connor-directed mixed martial arts drama Warrior, or maybe the studio’s cautious after its big bet on Cowboys & Aliens didn’t pay off. (I’m sure it’s coincidence that Snider once unplugged the Fuqua-directed version of American Gangster before putting the picture back together with Ridley Scott). But given the appetite of a crop of distributors looking for wide release product, I’d be surprised if this one, which is fully packaged, doesn’t get off the canvas quickly. Read More »

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Fox Chooses James Mangold On ‘Wolverine’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: James Mangold is 20th Century Fox’s  and star Hugh Jackman’s choice to direct The Wolverine, ending one of the most competitive contests among directors for a major studio film. Negotiations are about to get underway, but I’m told that Mangold will take the helming job on the sequel to the X-Men spinoff film, a post that became vacant when Darren Aronofsky dropped out of the film in March. I’d heard that Mangold was on a very short list coming into this week, along with Warrior director Gavin O’Connor and Brooklyn’s Finest helmer Antoine Fuqua. I’ve heard that Fox will look to start principal photography in the fall. Scripted by Christopher McQuarrie, The Wolverine takes place mostly in Japan. Mangold most recently directed the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz starrer Knight and Day for Fox, and before that 3:10 to Yuma and Walk the Line. Mangold’s repped by WME and Management 360.

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Hot Trailer: Gavin O’Connor’s ‘Warrior’

By | Thursday April 7, 2011 @ 4:18pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Lionsgate has issued a trailer for Warrior, a film written and directed by Miracle and Pride and Glory helmer Gavin O’Connor that seems to have a bit of familial spirit of The Fighter, transplanted to the world of mixed martial arts. It’s the story of battling brothers played by Tom Hardy (the Inception star who’s next starring in The Dark Knight Rises) and Joel Edgerton (the Animal Kingdom star who’s one of the thesps testing for Tony Gilroy’s The Bourne Legacy). Nick Nolte plays their father. The film opens Sept. 9.

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