EXCLUSIVE: Matt Schwartz has been hired as VP Film and Television at Weed Road/Safehouse Pictures, the shingle run by Akiva Goldsman, Joby Harold and Tory Tunnell. This marks a return for Schwartz, who began his career in development at Weed Road after a stint at ICM. He most recently has been an exec at Hutch Parker Entertainment. Weed Road/Safehouse shares a first-look deal at Warner Bros, borne of their first collaboration King Arthur, which Harold directed and which Guy Ritchie will direct by year’s end. This is the first of what is conceived as a six-film franchise hatched by Harold that Weed Road/Safehouse will produce. Goldsman most recently directed Winter’s Tale and is rewriting Insurgent, the sequel to Lionsgate’s Divergent. Said Tunnell: “Akiva, Joby and I are thrilled to bring Matt into the fold. He’s one of the best and brightest out there and we couldn’t be more excited to have him join us on the lot.”
EXCLUSIVE: After numerous attempts by Warner Bros to make a new version of the King Arthur legend, I’m hearing that Guy Ritchie is again looking to make the movie. This one is a tentpole fantasy retelling of the Arthur legend, meant to span six films. It was created by Joby Harold, who wrote the script for the first film. Producing is Akiva Goldsman through Weed Road, Harold and Tory Tunnell through Safehouse Pictures, and Ritchie’s partner Lionel Wigram. Ritchie and Wigram previously developed a version of the King Arthur saga based on a script by Trainspotting scribe John Hodge, but it lost steam when it looked like the one by David Dobkin was going to happen.
Warner Bros got closest to a production start with Dobkin’s Arthur & Lancelot, with Colin Farrell most recently at the center of talks to revive the project as Lancelot, and they chased Gary Oldman for the Merlin role. Warner Bros paid $2 million to acquire Dobkin’s script, but unplugged the film the first time because its $130 million budget was $20 million too high, with Game Of Thrones’ Kit Harington to play Arthur and Robocop‘s Joel Kinnaman to play Lancelot. Those young upstarts were unproven screen commodities. Other projects previously considered by Warners was a remake of the 1981 John Boorman pic Excalibur that had X-Men helmer Bryan Singer attached; there is also a Harry Potter-style take being produced by Donald …
BREAKING: Tom Cruise is ready to roll on All You Need Is Kill. He’s committing to the film, and Warner Bros is speeding it toward production as fast as it can with Doug Liman directing the Dante Harper script that has been rewritten by Joby Harold. Cruise will have to square that with a commitment to star in the Joseph Kosinski-directed Oblivion, which has Jessica Chastain playing one of the two female leads, and Universal testing a small list of actresses for the other role in the futuristic apocalyptic tale. I believe Oblivion will be his next film and that All You Need Is Kill will follow.
Kill is a project Cruise has been mulling for months and now they are sorting out the schedule for an actor who certainly has regained his leading-man mojo. He’ll next be seen in Rock Of Ages, and is shooting the Christopher McQuarrie-directed One Shot, though he’s right now on an international tour for Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol.
EXCLUSIVE: QED International and Safehouse Pictures have set Brian De Palma to direct the Joby Harold-scripted thriller The Key Man. That film was recently set for U.S. distribution with Tom Ortenberg’s Open Road Films and will begin production by year’s end. QED is financing the movie, about a single father who’s targeted by U.S. government agents because his body contains answers to important national secrets. The style is a throwback to paranoid 70s movies like Three Days of the Condor and Marathon Man. The Key Man will be produced by Bill Block, Paul Hanson, Tory Tunnell and Harold. Harold’s recent script work includes Awake, Army of the Dead and All You Need Is Kill. De Palma, who was part of that paranoid 70s thriller movement, last directed the 2007 Iraq drama Redacted and before that The Black Dahlia. He’s also responsible for Scarface, The Untouchables, Carrie and Mission: Impossible. De Palma’s repped by ICM.
EXCLUSIVE: Open Road Films — the new distribution company created by exhibitors AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment — just snagged U.S. rights to The Key Man, a thriller written by Joby Harold. QED International is financing the movie, about a single father who’s targeted by U.S. government agents because his body contains answers to important national secrets. QED chief Bill Block says it “recalls great films like Three Days Of The Condor and Marathon Man and is built on a fantastic story in the vein of The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure, and will appeal to a broad global audience.” The film will be widely released and include “a significant P&A commitment” from Open Road, the companies say. Key Man will be produced by Harold, Block, Tory Tunnell and Paul Hanson with principal photography due to begin by early 2012. The deal was negotiated by Open Road Films CEO Tom Ortenberg, General Counsel Elliott Kleinberg and SVP Acquisitions Ben Cotner with QED’s Block and Paul Hanson. Open Road films go to Netflix in the pay TV window following the DVD release. Ortenberg says Key Man is “one of the smartest, most original scripts we’ve seen” and predicts that it “will attract top notch talent.”