EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that the deal coming together will turn bestselling author James Patterson’s crime novel Double Cross into a 2nd movie starring Tyler Perry as the famous Washington DC crimefighter/psychologist. Perry’s first turn as Alex Cross opens this Friday from QED. Summit Entertainment is distributing in the U.S. It’s Perry’s first lead role that he didn’t produce or direct or write – and his reviews so far have been rather good. Certainly a lot better than I expected from the star of the crossdressing Madea movies. Although the critics have been harsh on helmer Rob Cohen and the film as a whole. QED International’s Bill Block put together Alex Cross at a cost of only $25M (lowered to $23M with Louisiana tax subsidies). He chased down the book rights from Patterson for under $1 million, then hired Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson to pen the screenplay with Patterson. Then Block and Patterson sought out Tyler’s WME agent Charles King. After meetings in Atlanta, QED signed the actor for $5M upfront. Perry took over the role from Morgan Freeman who first played Alex Cross in the films Kiss The Girls and Along Came A Spider. Amazingly, Perry didn’t want to write, direct or produce the movie. He didn’t even want to move the location to his home base in Georgia for all his creature comforts. And he had the leverage, too. Instead Perry wanted QED to run the project so he could focus solely on his acting. Maybe next time Perry should direct, too.
ABC Inks Script-To-Series Deal With Gaumont For Drama Based On James Patterson’s Character Michael Bennett
EXCLUSIVE: Gaumont International Television, the independent TV studio behind upcoming series Hannibal on NBC and Hemlock Grove on Netflix, has signed a deal with ABC for another potential straight-to-series project, James Patterson’s Bennett. The drama, based on bestselling author James Patterson’s character Michael Bennett, has received a script- to 13-episode commitment, meaning ABC has ordered a script and if the network brass likes it, it will trigger a 13-episode order. Gaumont used the same model for Hannibal, which was written by Bryan Fuller.
James Patterson’s Bennett will be written by Ildy Modrovich (Necessary Roughness), who will executive produce with Patterson. Patterson’s Bennett novels center on New York Detective Bennett, a character Patterson says was “inspired by the brave heroes of the NYPD”. The top-selling New York detective series of all time, it consists of five novels so far: Step On A Crack (2009), Run For Your Life (2009), Worst Case (2009), Tick Tock (2010) and I, Michael Bennett (2012).
NEW YORK, April 19, 2012 – Sonar Entertainment and James Patterson Entertainment will produce Patterson’s New York Times best-selling book series Private as a 13×60 original series for television. James Patterson, one of the world’s most prolific, popular and top-selling authors, will serve as Executive Producer. The announcement was made today by Stewart Till, CEO, Sonar Entertainment and Steve Bowen, President of James Patterson Entertainment.
Producers of Summit Entertainment’s upcoming release I, Alex Cross, directed by Rob Cohen with Tyler Perry stepping into the role created by Morgan Freeman, have filed suit against other producers who claim they should receive compensation and screen credit for the movie. Bill Block and Paul Hanson are partners in QED, which produced the project that Summit has acquired for distribution. QED claims in the suit that prolonged negotiations that began in 2008 with potential producers Jan Korbelin and Marina Grasic (who with Mark Lindsay have launched Cargo Entertainment) and their company Visitor Pictures failed to come to an agreement on Visitor’s involvement with the development of I, Alex Cross. QED claims it drafted and redrafted multiple memorandums of understanding for Visitor’s involvement that were all rejected and no agreement was reached or signed. In 2009, QED says it formally notified Visitor that all previous offers were withdrawn. QED asserts that development of the movie proceeded without Visitor, who “indeed sought to have no involvement,” according to the suit.
Now that principal photography on I, Alex Cross has finished and the movie is expected to be released next year, QED claims that Visitor has resurfaced and is demanding compensation and screen credit, probably in preparation for legal action of their own. QED and other plaintiffs Suejack Inc and JPB Businesses are seeking a court ruling in the case to remove the “cloud” cast over I, Alex Cross by Visitor’s claims before the movie is released.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has acquired remake rights to Phasma ex Machina, the small independent feature directing debut by Matt Osterman that was the toast of the genre film festival circuit. The studio acquired the project as a pitch for a horror movie called Our House, and the studio has attached Gary Shore to direct the remake and Nathan Parker to write it. John Davis is the producer along with Nick Spicer of XYZ Films. Shore and Parkers are already collaborating on a feature version of Cup of Tears for Universal and Working Title, based on the stylized samurai short film that Shore directed. That short has created heat and prompted Universal to make several deals with him. I’m told that the hope is for Shore to direct Phasma ex Machina, potentially follow with an adaptation of the James Patterson book series Maximum Ride, and then helm a feature version of Cup of Tears.
EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment has acquired domestic distribution rights to I, Alex Cross, the reboot of the James Patterson franchise. Tyler Perry stars as the title character, with Rob Cohen directing. Lost‘s Matthew Fox was just set to play Michael Sullivan, a psycho serial killer who viciously murders Cross’s wife when the detective thwarts his earlier attempt to commit a murder. The drama becomes a mano a mano battle between cop and the killer who is one of the most memorable villains in Patterson’s novels. Ed Burns will play Cross’s partner Tommy Kane.
Three distributors chased the picture. One was Lionsgate, which has the long relationship on all the hit films that Perry has directed and starred in. But Summit Entertainment had an “in” as well: Summit co-chairman/CEO Rob Friedman. Friedman, former Vice Chairman and COO at Paramount Pictures Motion Picture Group, had an active hand in Paramount’s release of the first two Alex Cross films, Kiss the Girls and Along Came A Spider, which starred Morgan Freeman. He personally oversaw the acquisition and has a relationship with the author.
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