EXCLUSIVE: The Blind Side helmer John Lee Hancock is in early talks with Disney to direct Saving Mr. Banks, the Kelly Marcel-scripted saga of how Walt Disney waged a 14-year courtship to persuade Australian author P.L. Travers to sell him rights to make a film out of Mary Poppins. Disney is near a deal to acquire the Black List script, which is set up with producer Alison Owen of Ruby Films. Disney seems a natural place for the script, considering the studio owns many rights from making the 1964 classic film that starred Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and David Tomlinson, the latter of whom played Mr. Banks in the film. This is a hot project — names like Tom Hanks to play Disney and Meryl Streep to play Travers have been in the wind — and Disney’s intention is to put it into production this year.
The heart of this script comes from how close Travers felt to her story of a nanny with magical powers. Mary Poppins was highly personal, and reflected hardships in her own life and her relationship with her father, who died when she was 7. Disney finally persuaded her to let him make the film, but she was prickly all the way to the end. While Mary Poppins was lauded immediately, she hated the animated sequences in the film so much that she refused … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The Blind Side director John Lee Hancock has been set to write and direct The Partner, based on the John Grisham bestseller. The project is set up at New Regency, whose principal, Arnon Milchan, previously adapted the Grisham novels A Time To Kill, The Client and Runaway Jury, back in the day when Grisham was getting up to $8 million for movie rights to his legal thrillers.
Hancock has also been circling Highwaymen, the John Fusco-scripted drama about the vet cops dragged out of retirement to hunt down bank robbers Bonny and Clyde. If Hancock commits to that film, he’ll do The Partner next.
Published in 2005, The Partner is about Patrick Lanigan, a young partner in a white shoe Biloxi law firm with a wife and newborn daughter. Trapped in a burning car one night, he died, leaving behind only ashes. But Lanigan is disillusioned enough by his life to fake his death and steal $90 million from his firm. He just has to hope the wrong people don’t catch up with him as he goes on the run. CAA-repped Hancock made his directing debut on The Rookie, after scripting such films as A Perfect World and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
EXCLUSIVE: John Lee Hancock is returning to television. The Blind Side writer-director has teamed with Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Dan McDermott’s recently launched TV company for an untitled crime drama project that has been sold to ABC. Hancock is set to write, direct and executive produce the drama, which centers on an unorthodox protagonist described as Walter Mitty of the crime world. Hancock will executive produce with di Bonaventura and McDermott for ABC Studios where Di Bonaventura Pictures Television is under a 3-year deal. Hancock dabbled in TV in the late 1990s with brief stints on Falcone and L.A. Doctors, which he created, but has spent the last decade in movies, most recently writing and directing The Blind Side. After several years of struggling to get the movie made with Julia Roberts turning down the lead and 20th Century Fox dropping the project altogether, Hancock saw his film rake in $256 million in North America alone and earn star Sandra Bullock an Oscar. Di Bonavenura Pictures TV is off to a fast start in its first development season. The company has already sold several projects to ABC, including a drama from Changing Lanes scribe Michael Tolkin and ER showrunner David Zabel about a complex female ADA and comedies The Wonderful Women of Will’s World from writers David Diamond and David Weissman, about a man who juggling his two ex-wives, his new younger wife and his three children; … Read More »
Screenwriter John Fusco has taken on the job of adapting Peter Guralnick’s Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley, the book that Fox has been trying to pull together for more than a decade. Steve Bing is producing the film now for Fox 2000. The book covers the formative years of Presley up to his enlistment in the Army. Fusco has been busy writing the Starz series pilot Marco Polo for The Weinstein Company and Electus. On the feature front, John Lee Hancock has come attached to his script Highwaymen, the Casey Silver-produced film that takes a look at the Bonnie & Clyde story, from the vantage point of the lawmen who came out of retirement to end their robbery reign. That was the project that had been set up as a potential final pairing of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting tandem of Paul Newman and Robert Redford, but Newman’s health was failing and the project never got off the ground. Fusco’s repped by UTA and Anonymous Content.
EXCLUSIVE: Disney has attached The Blind Side director John Lee Hancock to helm Electric Boy Genius, a film that will be scripted by Doug Wright about a real life Doogie Howser of electrical engineering. The film is based on a 2002 GQ article that Disney optioned years ago about Ryan Patterson. While in diapers, he was stuffing knives into electrical sockets and learning the power of electricity the hard way. After he watched his father do wiring work on the family home, the youth mastered the principles of electrical flow. He was building robots by the time he was in high school and developing innovations like an electronic sign-language translator. The GQ article, written by Andrew Corsello, told of Patterson’s entry into the 2001 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, which he won. That got him a job working in aerospace robotics for Lockheed Martin. Read More »