Phase 4 Films acquired all U.S. and Canadian rights to director Mark L Mann’s generation Um… Mann also wrote the screenplay for the film, with Alison Palmer, Caroline Kaplan, and Lemore Syvan producing. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Bojana Novakovic, and Adelaide Clemens and was executive produced by Nicolas Chartier, …
Despite reports that 47 Ronin was taken away from first-time feature director Carl Rinsch because of a budget that swelled to $225 million, I can tell you that Rinsch has been in the editing room all week, working side by side with the studio on the challenged Universal picture. And studio sources swear the budget will not cross the $200 million mark, despite a reshoot (that Rinsch himself directed) and despite the fact Universal has twice moved the release date of this Keanu Reeves-starrer.
At the risk of seeming like a studio apologist, I hate how difficulties in the process of putting together big-budget movies has been turned into bloodsport reporting, particularly when it is sort of accurate but exaggerated. Look, we all know that when stories crop up about films that do reshoots or extra shooting, it is not a good sign.
Sometimes, as was the case on Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, a rumored tough shoot and post-production process manifests itself into a remarkable film. Exaggerating the situation on a movie, when it is in production or in the editing room, seems unfair, almost like criticizing an artist’s painting before it is finished. I think that it encourages reviewers and audiences to discount the movie, even subliminally, and they evaluate it at least a little bit on the basis of perceived troubles.
Universal was not commenting but here’s what’s going on now: The studio has taken a more active hand in the editing process on the Universal lot, which is unusual for that particular studio but hardly unheard of with a first-time director who doesn’t have final cut. Rinsch, a respected commercials and short film helmer who had the job of directing the Alien prequel until Ridley Scott took it and turned it into Prometheus, has opinions as strong as his visual sense. That doesn’t endear one to the crew, which is probably how these rumors get started. He’s new to the game of mounting a huge film and the studio has every right to protect an investment that is at least a $175 million 3D film. But the reports he has been removed from the editing room and that he had 47 Ronin taken away from him are wrong, as far as I can see. And the studio is hardly trying to hide a bomb, not when it chose December 25, 2013 as the new release date.
The upcoming Berlin Film Festival has added titles to its Berlinale Special 2012 program including Jason Reitman’s Young Adult and Barnaby Southcombe’s I, Anna. Restored versions of classics like Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1943 The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp will also screen. According to the festival, discussions will be held following some Special screenings including Werner Herzog’s documentary series Death Row and Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut In The Land Of Blood And Honey, which were previously announced as Special titles. A talk will also be held after the screening of the Keanu Reeves-produced documentary Side By Side that includes interviews with Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, the Wachowskis and Lars von Trier among others. In a European premiere, Mark Cousins will show his 900-minute-long documentary The Story Of Film: An Odyssey. Berlin runs Feb 9-19. A full list of the just-added titles follows:
Berlinale Special Gala screenings at the Friedrichstadt-Palast:
By Jason Reitman
With Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Elisabeth Reaser
Berlinale Special screenings at the Kino International:
By Doris Dörrie
With Alba Rohrwacher, Vinzenz Kiefer, Matthias Brandt, Oliver Nägele
From the studio’s ongoing efforts to cast up big-ticket films like Akira, All You Need Is Kill, Arthur & Lancelot, Man From UNCLE, Xerxes, Imitation Game and The Twilight Zone, Warner Bros continues to be a go-to place for actors looking for star-making parts in big commercial films. A new Warner Bros project now has the attention of actor reps: Jupiter Ascending, which I’m told will be the next film by Lana and Andy Wachowski, and their first major science fiction action franchise play since The Matrix. Like that trilogy, Jupiter Ascending is an original creation by the duo, and it’s on track to start production by the spring. The studio is now discussing which A-list star to lead the cast while keeping the script and logline under tight wraps.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has preemptively acquired Crime of the Century, a pitch that marks the first sale for Fast 5 scribe Chris Morgan since he signed a two-year first look deal at the studio. Dan Kunka will write the script and Dan Trachtenberg is attached to direct, with Morgan producing …
BREAKING: NBCUniversal’s new owners at Comcast have given a vote of confidence to the studio’s feature film operation. They’ve exercised an option on Universal Pictures’ Chairman Adam Fogelson and extended his contract through 2014. I’m told that Fogelson is, in turn, in the process of exercising the option of Donna Langley and she will continue as the studio’s co-chairman. They will also keep their executive team intact. Fogelson will continue to have full day-to-day operating responsibility for the Motion Picture Group, reporting to Universal Studios President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer (whose contract was recently re-upped through 2015) and will now also report to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke.
While Universal has had its ups and downs, higher-ups are clearly convinced that Fogelson, Langley and their team are making progress. They’ve had recent hits –Bridesmaids, Hop! and Fast Five– but also had some recent misses that include The Dilemma, Change-Up and Cowboys & Aliens. In the latter case, the studio was on the hook for one-third of the film, and shared that third with Relativity Media. It has also been a year in which Fogelson and his team have made some painful decisions and let pricey productions go. That began with the Guillermo Del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness, which Universal developed for years and which was ready to go with Tom Cruise, until the studio made a late decision not to go forward because of the possibility the $150M film could carry an R-rating. Universal also dropped two projects that were in advanced stages of development: The Dark Tower, the Akiva Goldsman-directed adaptation of the Stephen King novel series that was to be made into three feature films and two limited-run TV series, with the first film and TV segment directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer and Goldsman; and Oiuja, the Hasbro board game that had McG directing and Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners producing with Hasbro. The moves were surprising because Howard and Grazer are cornerstone filmmakers for Universal; and Del Toro and Hasbro have overall deals there. Ouija is one of several Hasbro properties the studio dropped, the others being the Gore Verbinski-directed Clue, the Ridley Scott-directed Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering. These were part of a groundbreaking deal the studio made with the toymaker several years ago, but the studio and Hasbro have re-focused their attention solely on Battleship, Stretch Armstrong, and Candy Land.
Alex Winter, who started his career as half of the Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure tandem before transitioning to director of commercials and TV shows, is finally helming a movie about the formation of controversial music file-sharing service Napster. The surprise is that after 10 years of trying to make a narrative feature, Winter’s shooting it as a documentary backed by VH1, the same division that made 2008’s Anvil: The Story of Anvil. Winter originally made his deal with Paramount’s MTV Films and wrote a script, only to watch that division crater and see his birth of a technological revolution storyline drive The Social Network, which even had early Napster pioneer Shawn Parker in a key role. Rather than scrap Napster, Winter is going back to all the sources for his script, armed with a camera.
“The rise and fall of Napster and the birth of peer-to-peer file-sharing technology created by Shawn Fanning when he was a college student, changed music to movies, and made possible everything from Julian Assange, WikiLeaks to the iPod and Facebook,” Winter told me. “It became an expression of youth revolt, and contributed to a complete shift in how information, media and governments work. And it is a fascinating human story, where this 18-year-old kid invents a peer-to-peer file-sharing system, and brings it to the world six months later.”
Sony Pictures has acquired Shadow Runner, a pitch for an action thriller that will star Thor’s Chris Hemsworth. Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson will produce through the Contrafilm banner with ROAR’s Will Ward. Studio’s keeping the fictional project under wraps, but this deal has taken awhile to come together, and its original genesis was an idea by Drive scribe Hossein Amini. The inspiration was an incident in which an Israeli assassination team targeted a Hamas leader whom the Israelis believe murdered several soldiers and helped stockpile Iranian-made missiles. He was tracked to Dubai, and the Israelis managed to smuggle in an entire 17-person hit team to take him out in the corridor of a five-star hotel. The operatives were captured on a hotel security camera trailing after the victim, reemerging and getting on the elevator after he was killed. I’m told that the film won’t replicate those events, but Hemsworth will lead an elite team of operatives who take on impossible tasks. Amini will be exec producer.
EXCLUSIVE: The twists and turns on the Warner Bros adaptation of anime artist Katsuhiro Otomo’s graphic novel Akira continue. Director Albert Hughes is exiting the movie, I’m told. Insiders say that it is an amicable creative differences parting of the ways. Warner Bros will try to put him on another movie right away (Hughes and his brother Allen directed the hit The Book of Eli, and WB topper Jeff Robinov is their former agent and is very close with them). Hughes is coming to Hollywood next week to take meetings with his WME reps and look at scripts, hoping to find his next movie at Warner Bros.
As for Akira, the intention of the studio is to keep the picture on a fast track, which means they will find a director quickly. The studio has been wrestling with the approach on the film for the past year.
EXCLUSIVE: Cheryl Maisel will be leaving Rogers and Cowan and coming back to PMK*BNC as an EVP in talent. She will be bringing long-standing clients like Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves, Craig Ferguson, and others.