EXCLUSIVE: Here’s another title that will get shopped at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival in script stage: Wayfare Entertainment and Misher Films are in pre-production on Europa, a contemporary space adventure that will be directed by Sebastian Cordero, the Ecuadorian helmer whose credits include Rage and Cronicas. District 9‘s Sharlto Copley is set to star with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s Michael Nyquist, Anamaria Marinca (she starred in the Palme d’Or winning 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days), and Asian superstar Daniel Wu. Wayfare Entertainment is fully funding the film, and Misher Films’ Kevin Misher is producing with Wayfare’s Ben Browning. Sierra/Affinity’s Nick Meyer is handling international sales. Scripted by Philip Gelatt, Europa is the story of a six-person team of astronauts from various international space stations who are sent by a private sector corporation to be the first manned mission to Jupiter’s fourth moon. Eugenio Caballero (Pan’s Labryrinth, is production designer, and the plan is to begin shooting in New York this fall. Wayfare’s Michael Maher and Jeremy Kipp Walker will be exec producers alongside Andy Berman.
FilmDistrict bought U.S. rights to Playing the Field, the Nu Image/Millennium Films Gabriele Muccino-directed comedy that stars Gerard Butler as a retired soccer star. His penchant for scoring off the field ruined his marriage and his relationship with his son. He returns to Virginia to win them back by coaching the kid’s soccer team, but that goal is imperiled by his wandering eye and the beautiful soccer moms that are all over the place. Jessica Biel, Judy Greer, Dennis Quaid, Uma Thurman and Catherine Zeta-Jones also star, with Noah Lomax playing the son. Butler and Alan Siegel produce with Kevin Misher, Jonathan Mostow, Heidi Jo Markel and John Thompson. Robbie Fox wrote the script.
FilmDistrict, run by Peter Schlessel and Bob Berney to launch films that can play in wide release, came right out of the gate with the hit film Insidious.
“We are very pleased to have closed this deal with Peter Schlessel and FilmDistrict for Playing The Field and hope it will be the first of many to come. I am confident they will do a great job bringing this picture to market”, says Avi Lerner, Co-Chairman of Nu Image/Millennium Films.
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount has turned loose the giant worm, and everything else that was part of the seminal Frank Herbert science fiction novel series Dune. The studio’s four-year attempt to make a movie out of the franchise has fallen by the wayside. Paramount and the rights holders came to a parting of the ways as the rights lapsed. “Paramount’s option has expired and we couldn’t reach an agreement,” said Richard P. Rubinstein, who controls the rights to what is considered the biggest-selling science fiction book ever. “I’m going to look at my options, and whether I wind up taking the script we developed in turnaround, or start over, I’m not sure yet.”
Dune tells the story of an interplanetary battle for control of the desert planet Arrakis and its supply of Melange, a spice that can be ingested. Those who take it live longer and have a prescient sense of awareness. The substance is necessary for space travel. The book was turned into a 1984 flop by David Lynch, but a miniseries that came later fared better.
Rubinstein said that Paramount’s exit came down to dollars, but the producer said he and the rights holders were OK with it. “Sure, it’s frustrating, how long this has taken, but most of what I’ve done that worked out well over the years, like the miniseries The Stand, took a long time,” Rubinstein said. “Since …