UPDATE, 1:52 PM: Tom Hanks and Ron Howard, the star and director, respectively, of Sony’s first two tentpole movies based on Dan Brown’s novels, are returning for Inferno, we’ve learned. Hanks had been expected to …
UPDATE: Tom Hanks And Ron Howard To Return For Next Dan Brown Movie ‘Inferno’; Sony Sets December 2015 Release Date
Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor
Nearly six months after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Inferno has dissolved its Inferno Distribution and Inferno International units. The former division was the sales agent behind such films as The Kids Are All Right and Killer Elite. Inferno Films and Inferno Features, separately incorporated companies with the same management, will remain in business, and ongoing film productions have not been affected, according to Inferno. Founded in 2002, Inferno executive produced, distributed and helped fund the Brad Pitt film Killing Them Softly, which was released in November but performed poorly at the box office. Its production credits also include The Grey, The Women, and Southland Tales.
There’s publishing news on two timely novels that have feature film ramifications. The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown revealed that his new novel will be titled Inferno, coming from Doubleday on May 14. The book’s set in Europe and inspired by Dante, author of the 14th century poem The Divine Comedy, the author’s journey through hell, purgatory and heaven. The movie crowd won’t care much because the protagonist is once again the Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, which means that if anybody turns this into a film, it will be Sony. That deal made right on the ground floor by late former Sony Pictures chairman John Calley continues to give and give. Brown himself wrote a draft of the Angels & Demons follow-up The Lost Symbol, and Tom Hanks is still attached and Brian Grazer is the producer. Last time I wrote about it, Game Change scribe Danny Strong was working on the script and there was interest in director Mark Romanek after Ron Howard opted out after helming the first two global blockbusters.
UPDATE: Inferno’s Bill Johnson forwarded a press release which better explains why the company filed Chapter 11. According to the release, the company can continue to do business unimpeded, and the move was to protect part of the company from a judgment involving the 2005 film Just Friends. …
EXCLUSIVE: Saoirse Ronan has been set to star in The Host, the screen adaptation of the bestselling novel by Twilight Saga author Stephenie Meyer. Scripted by Andrew Niccol, the film figures to be one of the hot titles when Inferno launches sales at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival next week. Niccol, who was originally set to direct, might resurface as the filmmaker.
Ronan, the Oscar-nominated star of Atonement, The Lovely Bones and most recently Hanna, will play Melanie Stryder, one of the last humans putting up a fight against an alien species called Souls. These parasites invade human bodies, fuse to each person’s consciousness and systematically erase their personalities. Melanie is captured by the aliens and implanted by a Soul called Wanderer, something of a legend because of all of the “hosts” she has attached to on numerous planets. Wanderer’s goal is to get Melanie to give up the remaining pockets of humans, but instead the alien finds Melanie to be unique in her unwillingness to surrender her consciousness. Wanderer is so overwhelmed by Melanie’s memories and feelings, the alien is driven to reconnect with Melanie’s old life.
The concept is more of a visual challenge than Meyer’s Twilight Saga books, but one thing they plan is for Ronan to play both Melanie and Wanderer. Meyer’s book has an enormous fan base, and the author had long resisted offers to sell it. She finally made a deal two years ago with producers Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz, who’d done the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road together. They deliberately developed the script outside the studio system, and invited the author to be very hands on in the adaptation.
SUNDAY AM: Since my weekend box office report puts all its emphasis on the big moneymakers, I want to give smaller movies some love (or hate). Here’s a separate wrapup for limited releases:
Fox Searchlight’s Cyrus finished in the 11th spot this weekend. After 5 weeks in release its per screen average …