Perfect Storm Entertainment has added a television division to its company and brought aboard former FX executive Danielle Woodrow to run it. Formed last March as a joint venture by Fast & The Furious 6 director Justin Lin and Seven Stars Studios Bruno Wu, the newly created TV division will focus on developing scripted dramas and comedies for network, cable, digital formats, and the international marketplace. It recently inked a first-look comedy deal with Sony Pictures Television. Before leaving FX in July 2011 to take a sabbatical from TV, Woodrow was the network’s SVP Original Programming, running the Current Series department. “Danielle brings exceptional experience in television and adds an important element to Perfect Storm Entertainment. We are ecstatic to have her become a principal in the company,” said Lin today in a statement. PSE VP Ryan Andolina will work closely with Woodrow in the TV unit, which will be run out of the companies’ offices in LA, NYC, Beijing and Shanghai.
Justin Lin & Bruno Wu’s Perfect Storm Form TV Division; Hires Former FX Exec Danielle Woodrow To Run
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros won a multiple studio bidding battle for screen rights to an upcoming thriller novel by The Breach author Patrick Lee. Justin Lin is attached to direct and produce with Michael De Luca.
The untitled action thriller was just auctioned in a big pre-emptive, three-book deal that will be published next winter by Macmillan. The book is the first of a series featuring an ex-special operative named Sam Dryden. In the character-driven thriller, Dryden runs into a mysterious young girl who is not quite what she seems, and he embarks on a journey to keep her safe from a powerful government agent intent on hunting her down.
This comes as Lin puts the finishing touches on Fast & Furious 6 for Universal, which he directed and produced. That marks his fourth turn in the high-octane action series he helped revive, and Lin is now looking for other films to do through his Barnstorm Pictures banner. Barnstorm president of production Elaine Chin is also producing with Pouya Shahbazian, who manages the author.
EXCLUSIVE: Fast Five helmer Justin Lin is broadening out from fast cars. Lin has acquired screen rights to the critically acclaimed David Henry Hwang comic play Chinglish, with plans to direct and produce the screen adaptation through his Barnstorm Pictures banner. Hwang will write the script and will co-produce with Bobbi Thompson. The play, a romantic comedy with a timely, political spin, opened at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre en route to Broadway. An international tour beginning at Berkeley Repertory Theatre starts this fall. ”As soon as I saw Chinglish on Broadway, I began to envision this smart and insightful cross-cultural comedy as a film,” Lin said. “I’m excited about working with David to bring this very timely story to the screen.” Lin’s Barnstorm has a first-look deal with Universal, and the studio will get first crack at this.
Beijing/Los Angeles, March 19th, 2012: Bruno Wu’s Seven Stars Film Studios has signed a joint venture with acclaimed director Justin Lin (‘BETTER LUCK TOMORROW’, ‘FAST AND FURIOUS: FAST FIVE’) to form Perfect Storm Entertainment.
Justin Lin will partner with Bruno Wu: Chairman of Seven Stars Global Entertainment (SSGE), the parent company of Seven Stars Film Studios; and CEO of Harvest Seven Stars Media Private Equity Ltd (HSSMPEG) to create a slate of films.
EXCLUSIVE: Things are starting to move on The Terminator franchise, but a plan by rights owner Megan Ellison and Arnold Schwarzenegger to put the first of two pictures in production for the fourth quarter of 2012 has forced director Justin Lin to drop out. But borrowing the film’s signature phrase “I’ll be back,” Lin has left the door open to a return if Ellison and Schwarzenegger will wait until he completes the sixth installment of The Fast and the Furious franchise.
The Terminator franchise has been under the radar since Ellison’s Annapurna Films spent over $20 million to buy film rights during the Cannes Film Festival, with Lin and Schwarzenegger attached. Lin wants to make the film but simply won’t be available, the same situation that prompted him to withdraw from Summit’s Highlander. Lin has been working closely with Schwarzenegger and Ellison to figure a way to end the James Cameron-hatched battle between humans and the cyborgs of Skynet. It would require some effort for Ellison to get the film underway by late next year. She hasn’t got a script and I don’t think she’s even hired a screenwriter yet. She also hasn’t set a studio partner, even though several are interested.
EXCLUSIVE: Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, here for today’s world premiere of his latest film The Intruders, is Summit Entertainment’s choice to direct Highlander. That is the reboot of the 1986 film about immortals who battle with swords, and live and die by the mantra that “there can be only one.” Fresnadillo is now in discussions to direct a film that Summit will co-finance with RCR Media Group. Fresnadillo is also attached to direct a reboot of The Crow, which has Bradley Cooper attached.
Fresnadillo, who first attracted Hollywood’s attention with the genre film Intacto, followed with the superb 28 Weeks Later. Today he unveils Intruders, an intense psychological drama that stars Clive Owen as a father who cannot protect his young daughter from faceless intruders. The film also stars Daniel Bruhl, who starred Inglourious Basterds and next stars as Formula One racer Niki Lauda in the Ron Howard-directed Rush. The film is an acquisition title that is high on many buyers’ lists, and the director’s UTA reps are selling it.
EXCLUSIVE: On the heels of Justin Lin signing a two-year production deal with Universal Pictures for his newly formed company Barnstorm Pictures, the Fast Five director has inked his first TV pact — a first-look deal with Sony Pictures TV. Under the agreement, Lin will develop series projects for the studio and will also direct a pilot this coming season subject to feature availability. While he is best known for directing the last 3 Fast and the Furious installments, most recently Fast Five, which has earned more than $600M at the worldwide box office, Lin also has directed 3 episodes of the Sony TV-produced NBC comedy Community. I hear the gig, Lin’s only in TV so far, stemmed from his friendship with the series’ co-director/executive producer Joe Russo. It led to Lin setting up shop at the TV studio where director-producers Joe and Anthony Russo also have a deal.
EXCLUSIVE: After a long search process, 20th Century Fox and Bruce Willis have just chosen John Moore to direct Die Hard 5. The film will shoot in Russia, and the hope is to make it before Willis moves on to shoot a Red sequel for Summit Entertainment. In fact, Willis has just begun going through the same director search with Summit on a sequel to the 2010 hit Red. Robert Schwentke is busy helming Universal’s R.I.P.D. with Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. They’ve just begun casting the dragnet for directors on that film. Names like Breck Eisner are being floated, but other shooters are being considered.
As for Die Hard 5, Moore is in final negotiations and was in the running through the entire search as Fox tried to find a filmmaker that pleased Willis and the studio execs that have to shoot this movie in Russia and bring it in on a budget and a tight schedule. Fox has been looking for a new director since Noam Murro left the picture after he got the job helming 300: Battle Of Artemisia for Warner Bros. The studio started with a wish list of directors to helm the script by Skip Woods that included Joe Cornish (who directed Attack the Block), Fast Five helmer Justin Lin, Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn, and Moore. More recently, I’d heard Fox had conversations with helmers that included Gary Fleder, Paul McGuigan and 1408 helmer Mikael Hafstrom.
20th Century Fox is turning up the heat on Die Hard 5, even though its attached director, Noam Murro, left the picture after he got the job helming 300: Battle Of Artemisia for Warner Bros. I’m told that the studio has come up with a short list of directors who’ll meet to potentially helm the film scripted by Skip Woods. They are: Joe Cornish (who directed Attack the Block), Fast Five helmer Justin Lin, Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn and Max Payne helmer John Moore. The film brings the always-in-the-wrong-place cop John McClane to Russia. Bruce Willis is ready to reprise his signature role as early as this fall.
The surprise on the list is Cornish. While his feature directorial debut Attack the Block had a budget probably less than the catering bill on last weekend’s other alien invasion film opener Cowboys & Aliens, the movie has become a critical darling as it opened to $130,000 in eight theaters (it has grossed $4.3 million overseas). It would be a big jump to Die Hard 5, but remember the studio had attached Murro, whose debut was the 2008 character comedy Smart People.
Lin is hot off Fast Five, and is expected to do another The Fast and the Furious installment and is attached to the package to finish The Terminator franchise that was acquired by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures.
Refn has much momentum for Drive, the drama that played Cannes and opens in September. Refn reteamed with Ryan Gosling for Only God Forgives, another action film that shoots late summer in Thailand, and which FilmDistrict acquired for U.S. distribution late last month. Refn is also booked to remake Logan’s Run with Gosling. Then there is Moore, the Irish helmer who has directed all of his features – Max Payne, The Omen, Flight of the Phoenix and Behind Enemy Lines — for Fox. A web report indicated that Moore already had the job, but I’m told that the filmmaker meetings haven’t started yet, so that might be jumping the gun.
EXCLUSIVE: Megan Ellison has won an auction for the rights to make at least two more installments of The Terminator franchise, with Fast Five’s Justin Lin attached to direct and Arnold Schwarzenegger attached to star. The deal came down to Ellison’s Annapurna Films and Lionsgate, which seemed to have had the project sewn up until she came forward with a dramatic bid. The auction at the time was for a guarantee for at least half of the $29.5 million paid by hedge fund Pacificor to pull the franchise out of bankruptcy. Unclear what the winning amount was, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it hit the $20 million mark. CAA brokered the deal.
Deadline revealed the two finalists in the auction on Wednesday, and I’m told that the deal closed late Thursday. Ellison, the daughter or Oracle founder Larry Ellison, and sister of Paramount-based Skydance producer/financier David Ellison, is winging her way to Cannes right now. She has a lot going on here.
Lionsgate, Megan Ellison In Battle For ‘Terminator’ With Arnold Schwarzenegger And ‘Fast Five’s Justin Lin
EXCLUSIVE: A high-stakes battle is being waged for the right to relaunch The Terminator, with Fast Five helmer Justin Lin attached to direct and Arnold Schwarzenegger attached to reprise his signature role in one of filmdom’s most iconic franchises. Yesterday, it looked like Lionsgate would win the property with an outright purchase, with an upfront payment of at least half of the $29.5 million that Pacificor spent to claim the property in a bankruptcy auction. That was until Megan Ellison and her Annapurna Films came in with a bid that was higher. They are now fighting it out. As she usually does when she commits to a film, Ellison is staking that amount without having a distributor locked in place.
As Deadline revealed late last month, CAA brought out the package to the town, the first real activity on The Terminator project since February 2010, when the property emerged from a bankruptcy auction and into the possession of Pacificor. While there were several dealmaking scenarios offered, including an option and first dollar gross fees, it’s understandable why an outright purchase would be most attractive to the rights holders.
The Santa Barbara-based hedge fund posted a bid of $29.5 million, with the promise that additional multimillion-dollar payments for each film would go to Halcyon, the company that made the 2009 McG-directed Terminator Salvation. That’s a lot of money to lay out for an extended period of time, with interest costs rising.
I’m told that the deal will close shortly, and that the project could become another hot Schwarzenegger title at the Cannes Film Festival market that’s just getting under way. It would be the third Schwarzenegger movie there. Lionsgate also has Schwarzenegger in the action film The Last Stand, set up as the English language debut of Kim–ji-Woon. Schwarzenegger is also at the center of a QED-funded project that Schwarzenegger is also attached to star in, Cry Macho. Lionsgate has long been interested in extending the James Cameron-created universe of Skynet, John and Sara Connor, and the indestructible cyborgs. In fact, when Halcyon ran out of money and went into bankruptcy, Pacificor beat out a combined bid by Lionsgate and Sony planning to make back-to-back sequels to bring the franchise to a natural creative conclusion.
‘Terminator’ Back With Arnold To Star: Schwarzenegger In Package Shopping Now; ‘Fast Five’s Justin Lin To Direct
EXCLUSIVE: He’s baaack! Arnold Schwarzenegger is attached to star in a rights package that CAA is shopping today that will revive The Terminator, one of Hollywood’s most iconic scifi franchises. The agency is dropping the package on studios this afternoon. I’m told that already, Universal, Sony and Lionsgate, and CBS Films are looking hard at the package. There is no screenwriter attached at this point, and Robert Cort is producing. This is the first real activity on The Terminator project since February 2010, when the property emerged from a bankruptcy auction and into the possession of Pacificor. The Santa Barbara-based hedge fund posted a bid of $29.5 million, with the promise that additional multimillion-dollar payments for each film would go to Halcyon, the company that made the 2009 McG-directed Terminator Salvation. That film starred Sam Worthington as the cyborg and Christian Bale as John Connor, and the storyline launched the battle between Skynet and the human survivors of the apocalypse, the war foreshadowed in James Cameron’s visionary 1984 original film. Halcyon wanted to make several films but ran out of money. At the time of the auction, Pacificor beat out a combined bid by Lionsgate and Sony planning to make back-to-back sequels to bring the franchise to a natural creative conclusion.
While many felt at the time that Pacificor overpaid and that Lionsgate and Sony would have been better matches for the material, CAA has chosen an optimum time to seek a new deal. I wrote back in February that Universal quietly was trying to arrange for Lin to be helmer of the project. At the time, some turned up their noses. Given the strong international grosses being racked up by Fast Five and the expectations for a strong domestic opening this Friday, Lin has a lot of heat. And Schwarzenegger is looking to recapture past marquee glory ending his run as California State Governor. Schwarzenegger has circled several projects including Last Stand for Lionsgate, but here, he’s the star, returning to the signature role that once established him as the world’s biggest movie star.