EXCLUSIVE: Chernin Entertainment is near a deal to acquire an untitled pitch by scribes Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark will produce with Blind Wink’s Gore Verbinski and John Krauss. Chernin will buy it out of his discretionary fund, a mid- to high-six-figure deal for a pitch that sounds like a futuristic Jungle Book. It was competitive, as Disney also bid, with Verbinski and Basil Iwanyk attached to produce. Disney, of course, made both animated and live-action Jungle Book films, and Verbinski is working hard there to nail down a start date for The Lone Ranger after the film was unplugged by the studio over budget. Sazama and Sharpless scripted Dracula Year Zero, are teamed with Iwanyk on an untitled project at Summit; and are writing the script for live-action adaptation of the board game Clue, which Verbinski is developing as a potential directing project. That project was recently kicked loose by Universal and its development is being funded by Hasbro. ICM and manager Sophy Holodnik repped the writers.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has quietly dropped out of Clue, one of the seven Hasbro games properties the studio contracted to make into movies in a ground-breaking six-year exclusive deal signed in 2008. Clue becomes the third project out of seven to be dropped by Universal (Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering were also kicked to the curb), but none of those projects are dead. In the case of the murder mystery board game Clue, Hasbro is funding the development and producing the film with Gore Verbinski’s Blind Wink. Verbinski, director of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, Rango and the upcoming Lone Ranger, still plans to direct Clue, and he and Blind Wink’s John Krauss are producing with Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir.
They’ve just hired Flash Gordon scribes Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama to write the Clue script. The writers will draft a take that Verbinski and his fellow producers came up with that retains the murder mystery spirit of the board game, but broadens the setting to a global stage. Beyond scripting Flash Gordon for Sony Pictures, Sharpless and Sazama are redrafting Dracula Year Zero. That project’s still hanging on at Universal, after being halted just short of the start line because of a high budget, when Alex Proyas was directing and Sam Worthington was going to star. ICM reps the writers.
Is all this a clue that Universal no longer wants to roll the dice on board game movies? Insiders say no. Rather, they tell me that Universal and Hasbro gradually narrowed their focus to the four films that most made sense for the studio: Battleship, the Peter Berg-directed summer 2012 action movie that stars Taylor Kitsch and Liam Neeson, with Universal just releasing its first trailer (below); Stretch Armstrong, which has Rob Letterman directing and Twilight Saga’s Taylor Lautner attached to play the rubbery title character; Candy Land, which is being written by Kung Fu Panda 2 co-writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who’ve described the film as Lord of the Rings, with edibles; and Ouija, which has McG attached to direct and Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form producing with Ian Bryce and Hasbro’s Goldner and Schneir.