EXCLUSIVE: Brad Pitt is circling an untitled WWII romantic thriller which Steven Knight has scripted for Graham King‘s GK Films. While it’s not a done deal yet and not yet set with a distributor, I’m hearing it’s serious and that a big director will be set with an eye toward starting production early next year.
Pitt produced and co-starred in Best Picture Oscar winner 12 Years A Slave, and he just finished another WWII battlefield film, the David Ayer-directed Fury, which Sony Pictures releases November 14. Pitt also worked the WWII terrain in the Quentin Tarantino-directed Inglourious Basterds. He also starred in and is prepping a sequel to World War Z. He’s repped by CAA and Brillstein.
Knight scripted Eastern Promises, and more recently the British series Peaky Blinders, the Helen Mirren-starrer The Hundred Foot Journey for DreamWorks, and he wrote and directed Locke with Tom Hardy. He’s repped by CAA and United Agents.
EXCLUSIVE: It’s back to the drawing board for a director on the untitled movie about Queen frontman Freddie Mercury that Graham King‘s GK Films is making at Sony. King has quietly parted ways with British actor-turned-helmer Dexter Fletcher, who got the job after directing the musical Sunshine On Leith. I’ve heard that the two didn’t see eye to eye on what will be an R-rated pic about Mercury, who’ll be played by Ben Whishaw. I’m told the actor is still firmly in place but their hope to keep production on pace might be optimistic, given that Whishaw is booked for the next James Bond picture. Whishaw stepped in after Sacha Baron Cohen dropped out in what has been a struggle to get the film just right before starting production.
Related: Sacha Baron Cohen Exits Freddie Mercury Biopic
They went as far as starting soft preproduction on a film that was skedded to begin shooting in the summer. I had heard that perhaps Sony was wavering, but the studio adamantly denies it. They hope to keep close to that start date and name a new helmer shortly. With the band’s songs part of the package, the pic will tell the formative coming-of-age story of the group, culminating in Queen headlining Live Aid in 1985 and … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Christopher McQuarrie is back steering the feature adaptation of the celebrated UK miniseries Unforgiven. He has signed on to write, direct and produce alongside Graham King, whose GK Films has tried for several years to turn the mini into a film and got McQuarrie to return.
Unforgiven is a drama-thriller about the intrigue and violence that unfolds when a woman completes a 15-year prison stretch for the murder of two policemen who’d come to evict her family from their farmhouse. Her hope is to live quietly and reunite with her troubled younger sister, but she unwittingly becomes a target for revenge. Suranne Jones played the lead in the mini, which was written by Sally Wainwright and directed by David Evans. McQuarrie was originally going to write the project after King bought it in 2010, and he was going to write it as a potential star vehicle for Angelina Jolie. He left to direct Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher. While McQuarrie is expected to next direct Cruise in Mission: Impossible 5, Unforgiven has again become a priority project for him. McQuarrie separately scripted Cruise’s next film at Warner Bros, All You Need Is Kill. He won the Oscar for scripting The Usual Suspects. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Graham King and Tim Headington have made an exclusive first-look one year deal at Warner Bros, which puts GK Films back at the studio where he made Blood Diamond, the Oscar-winning The Departed, The Town and Dark Shadows. It’s also the studio that will release the Ben Affleck-directed Argo, which was one of the standout films that premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. GK co-financed that film and King is executive producer. King’s move is a surprise but an even bigger one is that he’s bringing Jersey Boys with him.
King had a four-picture put deal at Sony Pictures, which released the Johnny Depp-Angelina Jolie-starrer The Tourist. Sony is where he originally set Jersey Boys, the movie based on the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. King is moving that film–which will be directed by Jon Favreau–over to Warner Bros to be first film under this new deal. I’m told that though it is a plum project–the stage musical is a giant hit–GK and Sony didn’t see eye to eye over the budget and that is why the project is moving.
Jersey Boys will begin production in January and Warner Bros will release it Christmas, 2013. GK had a tough run in late 2011, where films like the Martin Scorsese-directed Hugo and In the Angelina Jolie-directed In The Land Of Blood And … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE… 2ND UPDATE: I’ve learned more info now… Graham King’s GK Films is laying off SVP Grey Rembert because “she’s a books person and brought in great books, but having a books person is a luxury for anyone and especially for an indie company”. The company also recently hired Abby Ex as VP Production & Development from The Weinstein Co and she’s seen as Rembert’s replacement. But I’m told GK Films will be hiring more physical producers shortly. In addition, the company and COO Bahman Naraghi “mutually decided” to part ways, albeit reluctantly and only because I’m told that Naraghi now wants to change careers and become a film producer. The COO will be replaced. Meanwhile, PR’s Mic Kramer just snagged a new job at Paramount so that’s why he’s leaving.
Rembert had been with Graham a long time: the former DreamWorks production executive was a lit specialist who joined King’s Initial Entertainment Group as VP of Development back in 2006. She was put in charge after GK Films acquired the feature film rights to the Lara Croft adventure Tomb Raider aiming for a 2013 release. She’s also the exec who brought Brian Selznick’s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret into GK Films which lost a heartbreaking mint on Martin Scorsese’s 2011 big-budget 3D family fare Hugo.
Naraghi in 2008 joined Graham King’s GK Films in the newly created role of COO and was tasked with leading the Santa Monica-based company’s financial and operational development and plan, … Read More »
Graham King’s GK Films has acquired film rights to 5th Wave, a young adult sci-fi suspense thriller with a love story at its center. When the human race is on the verge of extinction, one of the last survivors on Earth, an extraordinary young woman, goes on a mission to track down her younger brother who was abducted by the extra-terrestial creatures colonizing the planet. She is forced to align herself with a young man who holds a secret. Together they are they only ones to save mankind. The novel’s by Rick Yancy. Novel was sold as a partial to Putnam, which just sold German rights. King and Tim Headington will produce with Tobey Maguire. I expect Sony to become the distributor on the project, though they say that hasn’t happened yet.
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 »
Another piece of this year’s Oscar movie puzzle was unveiled in a big way this weekend when Paramount rolled out Martin Scorsese’s 99.9%-finished version of Hugo, an ode to the early days of cinema and the eye-popping possibilities of movies. It’s the director’s first family film, 3D film and perhaps most personal film. In an intriguing and highly unusual move, Paramount held a packed screening, with tons of invited press and bloggers included, at Regal’s Downtown LA Live theaters Saturday afternoon. Then that night they also played it at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills for the Academy’s official membership screening. That last move was interesting because most films play either the weekend of opening or after for the Acad (although The Weinstein Co. unspooled their much-praised ode to the early days of cinema, The Artist, to an appreciative audience for its official Academy screening Sunday night).
It is extremely rare to show voters something that is still unfinished (one special effects shot was missing and the end credits are far from complete), but Hugo‘s media rollout has been different from the start. It was first unleashed in a much-less-finished form at the New York Film Festival last month as a “work in progress.” Reaction on the web was all over the place, generally favorable, but did not signal a major awards contender outside of the obvious technical nominations for the film’s stunning look. That screening in hindsight may have been a miscalculation.
This week, things began to heat up. Paramount had a couple of “tastemaker” screenings for AMPAS members a few days ago (one in the evening, one during lunchtime) where the median age range was said to be 60-plus — with 50 members reportedly at each. There were also reportedly 80 members who checked in for the Regal screening that was accompanied by a lively post-movie Q&A moderated by director Paul Thomas Anderson with Scorsese and his dream team of much-Oscared collaborators including DP Robert Richardson, production designer Dante Ferretti, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, composer Howard Shore and visual effects supervisor Rob Legato. Scorsese received an enthusiastic standing ovation when he was introduced, just as he did again today after a DGA screening for a Q&A moderated by James Cameron, who told him Hugo was a “masterpiece.” He added, “finally there is a Scorsese film I can take my kids to.” And Cameron also told Scorsese it was the best use of 3D he had seen, including his own films. At Saturday’s Regal Q&A, Legato actually credited the innovations in Avatar for making possible a lot of what Hugo was able to do. Musician Slash was among those also at the DGA screening and he later tweeted “Fantastic movie!” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Action is heating up on Londongrad, the Warner Bros drama about the mysterious death of former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was poised in 2006 with polonium-210. I’m told the studio is in discussions with Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt and that the studio is courting Michael Fassbender to play Litvinenko. The script is by David Scarpa.
As Litvinenko deteriorated in a London hostpital bed, he went public with accusations that he was done in by then-Russian president Vladimir Putin. The mystery was never really solved. I’m told that Wyatt’s producing partner Alan Moloney will join a roster of producers that include Graham King and Johnny Depp and Christi Dembrowski’s Infinitum Nihil.
Lifetime is developing a period drama series about The Hollywood Reporter founder William Wilkerson, which is being produced by Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil and Graham King’s GK TV. The project, written by Rob Cooper (Stargate: Universe), chronicles the colorful life of Wilkerson, a compulsive gambler who started off as a film executive in New York; lost all his money on Black Friday; founded The Hollywood Reporter; launched a slew of Hollywood nightclubs, including Ciro’s; founded The Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas; and got entangled with the mob and had to go into hiding in France. “He was the original Don Draper,” GK TV president Craig Cegielski told British trade TBI, which broke the story. “He eventually became the conduit between the mob and Hollywood.” According to TBI, Depp may make a cameo appearance on the potential series, which seems a rather unorthodox choice for female-centric Lifetime. On the film side, Infinitum Nihil and GK Films are collaborating on the upcoming Hunter S. Thompson adaptation The Rum Diary starring Depp, who also toplined GK Films’ movies The Tourist and Rango.
When New Yorker Martin Scorsese took the stage at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall to unveil a work-in-progress screening of his first 3D film Hugo, the standing ovation showed that the filmmaker was dealing with a home-field advantage. Deadline revealed yesterday that the New York Film Festival’s mystery film by a master filmmaker would be Hugo, and the place was packed last night. NYFF’s Richard Pena started the proceedings by asking journalists not to review the film, or tweet while it was playing. Scorsese added his own caveats. He said that the film was not completely color corrected, that some of the visual effects weren’t quite there yet, and that the 3D and music were also not quite complete. I saw the film’s producer Graham King before the screening, and he said while they couldn’t get the film finished in time to be part of the early fall festival hoopla, they came up with this idea as a way not to miss out completely, and the NYFF agreed to it for the first time since Disney came to them with an unfinished print of Beauty and the Beast.
With the exception of a couple of intricate shots, the film looked like it was rounding into shape quite nicely. I won’t review it, but will say it will be a worthy addition to the upcoming awards season. Read More »
VIDEO: Martin Scorsese Introduces ‘Hugo’
HAMMOND: NY Film Festival Mystery Movie
BREAKING: I can confirm that tonight’s New York Film Festival mystery film is Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, the John Logan-scripted adaptation of the Brian Selznick novel Hugo Cabret. The festival revealed late last week that it would feature a film by a master filmmaker, and speculation covered everything from Clint Eastwood’s J Edgar to Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I’m told that Richard Pena will introduce the picture at Avery Fisher Hall, but I’m not sure if Scorsese will be in the house. The film isn’t quite finished, but it will be shown in 3D, though there might be some green screen moments. Paramount releases Hugo on November 23. Scorsese hasn’t shown an unfinished film like this before (though he did once tell me that The Last Temptation Of Christ qualified as that when Universal rushed it into release because protesters were dragging crosses in front of the houses of studio higher-ups like Sid Sheinberg), and the NYFF hasn’t shown an unfinished print like this since Disney’s Beauty And The Beast in 1991. But it’s a great opportunity to build buzz on the movie, Scorsese’s first family and 3D film. Read More »
Graham King’s GK Films has hired Robert Towne to write The Battle Of Britain, a script about the largest and most sustained air battle to date. King and Tim Headington will produce. In 1940, the Royal Air Force battled the German Luftwaffe for control of British airspace over the city of London, which ultimately prevented a Nazi invasion of Britain. For King, it was a courageous battle his father told him about when he was growing up.
“My father lived in London and watched this spectacular dog fight over the city, so bringing this story of endurance and triumph to the big screen means a great deal to me,” King said in a statement. “I am also extremely excited to be joining forces with the iconic Robert Towne who is a master of mixing complex characters and tremendously compelling plots. Robert has a passion for history and a shared love of this particular story.” Towne most recently wrote the miniseries Pompeii for Scott Free and HBO, and he is currently writing Compadra, an hourlong pilot for Scott Free/FX/Fox 21. Next up for him is Next Of Kin for David Fincher, Sam Raimi and Josh Donen at Sony.
GK Films is next up with the Martin Scorsese-directed Hugo.
EXCLUSIVE: FilmDistrict is closing a deal for U.S. distribution rights to Parker, the Taylor Hackford-directed thriller that will star Jason Statham. Production starts in early August. The John J. McLaughlin-scripted film is an adaptation of the Donald E. Westlake novel series, and Statham is playing a character that Mel Gibson played in the Brian Helgeland-directed Payback and Lee Marvin played in the John Boorman-directed Point Blank. Parker is a thief, but one who follows a strict moral code he’ll kill to uphold. The producers are Steven Chasman, Sidney Kimmel, Les Alexander, Jonathan Mitchell and Hackford. The film’s casting up quickly, and the movie was a prominent sales title during the Cannes Film Festival where Sierra/Affinity’s Nick Meyer sold offshore rights and made the domestic deal. Meyer has sold most world territories. Incentive Filmed Entertainment funded the film, and produced with Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Sierra/Infinity. Sierra/Infinity and Incentive Filmed Entertainment previously teamed on Shark Night 3D, a movie that will be released in September. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Graham King’s GK-tv and Gale Anne Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment have partnered with FX Prods and Fox International Channels to co-produce hourlong period drama series Port Royal. The project, based on the original idea by Hurd, will be developed for FX in the U.S. and Fox’s international channels abroad. GK-tv and Valhalla first unveiled Port Royal at last month’s MIPTV, drawing interest from multiple suitors before teaming with FIC and FX, “a network that never shies away from provocative storytelling, which is ideally suited to the decadent and dangerous world of Port Royal,” GK-tv president Craig Cegielski said. Port Royal reunites The Walking Dead executive producer Hurd with FIC, which distributes internationally the hit AMC series. Set in the late 17th century on the island of Jamaica, Port Royal chronicles the namesake port’s notorious rise as the “richest and wickedest city” in the new world, and as a self-governing safe haven for cutthroat pirates, corrupt politicians and ruthless merchants. Executive produing the project are Hurd and GK-tv’s Graham King, Tim Headington and Cegielski.
Angelina Jolie’s much-discussed feature directing debut now has a title and a distributor. Graham King and his GK Films partner Tim Headington, who financed it, have placed it with their FilmDistrict shingle. FilmDistrict CEO Peter Schlessel will slot In The Land Of Blood And Honey, the Bosnia-set drama that Jolie scripted, for a Dec. 23 release in the US. The film is set against the backdrop of the Bosnian War in the 1990s and, according to a statement, “illustrates the consequences of the lack of political will to intervene in a society stricken with conflict. “The film is specific to the Bosnian War, but it’s also universal,” Jolie said in a statement. “I wanted to tell a story of how human relationships and behavior are deeply affected by living inside a war.” Said King: “Working with Angelina on this film and story has been a great collaboration and I am extremely proud of this film. The filmmaking is impeccable, and signals the arrival of a visceral and compelling storyteller.” Read More »
Graham King’s GK Films has hired Focus Features exec Kahli Small to be executive vice president of production and development. She will report directly to King and will work out of GK’s Santa Monica headquarters. Kahli is a seven-year vet of Focus Features and most recently held the title of executive vice president of production and development. Her projects have included the Oscar-nominated Harvey Milk biopic Milk, the David Cronenberg-directed Viggo Mortensen starrer Eastern Promises, and The American, which starred George Clooney. Before Focus, she was head of production at Key Entertainment, and was an exec at MGM.
“Her reputation in the industry and track record for success are exactly the qualities that we are looking for in executives as we expand our company,” King said in a statement. The appointment comes at a time when GK (run by King and partner Tim Headington) are gearing up on several major projects. They include a movie adaptation of the hit stage musical Jersey Boys, the untitled biopic of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury that has a script by Peter Morgan and Sacha Baron Cohen starring, and a reboot of Tomb Raider. GK is about to start production on the Tim Burton-directed Johnny Depp starrer Dark Shadows at Warner Bros, and is in post production on the Martin Scorsese-directed 3D film Hugo Cabret, which Paramount releases Nov. 23. GK has also wrapped the William Monahan-directed London Boulevard with Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley and … Read More »
Graham King’s GK-tv and Gale Anne Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment have partnered to develop and produce Port Royal, an hourlong series based on an original idea by Hurd. Set in the late 17th century on the island of Jamaica, the series will chronicle the namesake port’s notorious rise as the “richest and wickedest city” in the new world, and as a self-governing safe haven for cutthroat pirates, corrupt politicians and ruthless merchants. Executive producing the project are Hurd, King, GK-tv’s Craig Cegielski and GK Films’ Tim Headington. Hurd exec produces AMC hit The Walking Dead. GK-tv’s first series, Camelot, premiered on Starz on Friday and will have a screening at MIPTV tomorrow.
Larry Angrisani has been appointed senior vice president of World Marketing and Publicity for Graham King’s GK Films. He’ll be responsible for campaigns for TV, film and new media, based out of GK’s Santa Monica offices. Angrisani spent 7 years at Miramax Films, where he was senior veep of International Publicity and Awards. Angrisani brings Joelle Benazra, who was International Publicity Manager at Miramax and will take the same job at GK.
Since Miramax got out of the release business, Angrisani spearheaded the Golden Globe campaign for Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, consulted for the Cinequest Film Festival and was an awards strategist for USA Network. At Miramax, he worked on international campaigns for films that included There Will Be Blood, Gone Baby Gone, No Country for Old Men and The Queen, among others. “After working on so many quality films and with an extensive list of accolades to his credit, Larry will bring a creative energy to the company as we continue to grow our brand,” King said.