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.
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.
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 …