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Sony Re-Ups Escape Artists’ First-Look Deal

By | Tuesday December 13, 2011 @ 12:31pm PST

Sony has extended its first-look non-exclusive deal with Escape Artists, the indie film and TV production outfit that has been headquartered at the studio since 1998. Escape Artists, topped by Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch, is behind such recent films as The Pursuit Of Happyness, Seven Pounds and The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3 and is working on several projects including the Meryl Streep-Tommy Lee Jones-Steve Carell starrer Great Hope Springs, which is set for next December. “We have been partners with Todd, Jason, and Steve for more than a decade and we trust them implicitly for a simple reason: they have first-rate taste,” said Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal, who made the announcement of the three-year extension today alongside Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad. “They carefully choose the projects that they want to make and they have a very focused and disciplined development process. We couldn’t be more thrilled to continue our collaboration with them.” The group’s other projects in development include the Nicholas Stollar and Jason Segel collaboration Sex Tape; The Equalizer, an adaptation of the TV series; and Masters Of The Universe, based on the Mattel toy line. Escape Artists also has projects set up at other studios including Gospel For Teens, based on a 60 Minutes segment that will be produced with Chris Meledrandi and Illumination Entertainment at Universal.

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Tommy Lee Jones Squares Off With Meryl Streep In ‘Great Hope Springs’

Mike Fleming

Deadline told you back in March that Tommy Lee Jones was looking good to star as Meryl Streep’s husband in the David Frankel-directed Great Hope Springs, and now Mandate has confirmed it. Steve Carell also stars. It has shaped up as a strong cast and was one of the hot titles at the Cannes Film Festival market. Deadline revealed last Saturday that Sony Pictures took it off the table for North American distribution with a huge offer. Here is the official announcement:

 

Los Angeles, CA (May 19, 2011) – Tommy Lee Jones has closed a deal to star in GREAT HOPE SPRINGS, to be directed by David Frankel. The comedy also stars Meryl Streep and Steve Carell. Sony Pictures holds North American distribution rights to the film which will be released in the 4th quarter of 2012. The screenplay by Vanessa Taylor and featured on the prestigious Black List, follows a middle-aged couple who after thirty years of marriage attend an intense counseling weekend to examine the intimacy issues that are threatening their marriage.

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Cannes: Sony Pictures Closing Deal For Meryl Streep Comedy ‘Great Hope Springs’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The majority of deal buzz at the Cannes Film Festival market is where the Megan Ellison-financed Wettest County in the World will be dealt for distribution, I’m told the next big deal to come together will be a Sony Pictures acquisition of Great Hope Springs, the David Frankel-directed Meryl Streep comedy from Mandate Pictures. I’ll have to get back to you on whether the studio bought more than domestic distribution rights, [UPDATE: I've heard in the neighborhood of $20 million for North American rights]  but  it’s being made in Hollywood and I’m told it dwarfs any deal that’ll be made here in Cannes. It’s a film Amy Pascal really wanted on her release schedule.

Streep and Tommy Lee Jones play one half of the troubled couple and Steve Carell plays the marriage therapist who tries to help rekindle their loveless relationship after 31 years of marriage. It’s their last shot before divorce. Vanessa Taylor wrote the script. Escape Artists’ Todd Black and Film 360′s Guymon Casady are producing. Shooting starts in August.

It is the second deal in recent days for a Meryl Streep film, after The Weinstein Company won a bidding battle  Friday for Pathe’s The Iron Lady, shortly after buyers were shown five minutes of the film. Streep stars as Margaret Thatcher and Harvey Weinstein intends … Read More »

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Tommy Lee Jones For ‘Great Hope Springs’?

Mike Fleming

I’m told that Tommy Lee Jones has surfaced as the front-runner to play Meryl Streep’s husband in the David Frankel-directed Great Hope Springs. Mandate Pictures recently set Streep as one half of the troubled couple and Steve Carell to play the marriage therapist who tries to help rekindle their loveless relationship after 31 years of marriage. It’s their last shot before divorce. Vanessa Taylor wrote the script. Escape Artists’ Todd Black and Film 360′s Guymon Casady are producing. Shooting starts in August.

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Steve Carell In Talks To Join Meryl Streep In ‘Great Hope Springs’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Steve Carell has begun negotiating to star with Meryl Streep in the David Frankel-directed Great Hope Springs, I’m told. Mandate Pictures is in talks with Carell to play Dr. Feld, a marriage therapist who tries to help a couple rekindle their loveless relationship after 31 years of marriage. Streep plays the wife and Frankel will soon set an actor to play her husband. Vanessa Taylor wrote the script and Steep officially signed on to re-team with The Devil Wears Prada director Frankel earlier this month. Escape Artists’ Todd Black and Film 360′s Guymon Casady are producing. Shooting starts August.

It’s an intriguing role for Carell as he transitions to full time movie acting after leaving the long-running NBC series The Office. Carell’s run ends with the help of pal Will Ferrell, who signed on to play a branch manager over a four-episode arc that will end one episode after Carell’s Michael Scott exits. Carell will do Great Hope Springs next, followed by Burt Wonderstone for New Line. Carell will next be seen starring with Ryan Gosling and Julianne Moore in Crazy, Stupid Love. Dan Fogelman wrote the script and Glenn Ficarra and John Requa directed it, with Warner Bros releasing it July 29. WME and Media Four rep Carell.

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Meryl Streep, David Frankel Re-Team On ‘Great Hope Springs’

Mike Fleming

Meryl Streep is in final negotiations to star in Great Hope Springs, reuniting with The Devil Wears Prada helmer David Frankel-directed comedy for Mandate Pictures. Streep has been expected since last summer to star in the Vanessa Taylor-scripted comedy about a couple that hits the rocks after 30 years of marriage. They hang their future on an intense counseling weekend. Back when Mike Nichols was eyeing the project, there were rumors that Jeff Bridges might play her mate, but they were unfounded. Mandate is still looking for her mate which shouldn’t be difficult. Who wouldn’t want to play married to Streep, even an unhappy marriage?

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Barry Levinson Directs On Big Screen Again, Nick Cassavetes Acts, Jeff Bridges Walks

Mike Fleming

Some action on the feature front. Sony’s Columbia Pictures attached Barry Levinson to direct Brother Jack, a  Mosaic-produced drama based on the life of human rights activist Jack Healey. Harley Peyton wrote the script and Kelly Masterson is rewriting. Levinson’s got a little momentum from the Jack Kevorkian biopic You Don’t Know Jack which he directed for HBO to 15 Emmy nominations today…

I must amend a recent post about the lack of starpower (compared to other versions of the film contemplated over the years) in the film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. There’s a recognizable name in the cast of a movie that financier John Aglialoro put into production just before he would have lost the rights to the author’s estate. It’s filmmaker Nick Cassavetes, who’s playing the role of Richard McNamara. The film is being directed by Paul Johansson (who also plays John Galt), and Johansson acted in the Cassavetes-directed Alpha Dog. Cassavetes, who is also playing himself in current episodes of Entourage, is moonlighting as he and Warner Bros work out a cast for the remake of A Star Is Born that he plans to direct…

Despite reports to the contrary, Oscar-winning Crazy Heart star Jeff Bridges is not starring in Great Hope Springs. That’s the film that Mike Nichols is eyeing to direct and Meryl Streep is in talks to star in the saga of a couple whose 30-year marriage is crumbling and hinges on an intense couples’ counseling weekend. Bridges was never firm, and given his … Read More »

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