EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures is in talks with Michael Werwie to script Operation Shakespeare, an adaptation of the John Shiffman book. Title was the code name for an international sting, led by an elite Homeland Security team, to snare foreign arms dealers from acquiring and selling U.S. military technology. The book was published this month by Simon & Schuster. Werwie is scripting Lost Girls for Warner Bros.
Related: Comic-Con: Legendary Unveils Glimpse Of New King Kong Pic ‘Skull Island’
Legendary showed at Comic-Con it can mount monster movies with the best of them, but this project follows an equally hot-button premise thriller Blackhat, the Michael Mann-directed pic that stars Chris Hemsworth, as an example the company is growing into topical subject matter. The sting focused on microchips, gyroscopes, radar-cloaking and night-vision technology that were developed and manufactured in the U.S. at extraordinary cost. The tiny weapons capable of guiding missiles, seeing through walls and triggering explosives were falling into the hands of enemies. John Shiffman, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, followed a trail that began with an Iranian arms broker and some U.S. defense contractors who put profit over national security, and the case spanned from Philly to London, Dubai, Beverly Hills and Tbilisi. Complicating matters is the Iranian’s government plot to assassinate him after he’s caught.
The screenwriter’s repped by UTA and Evolution Entertainment … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures wowed the crowd in Hall H by unveiling Skull Island, a new feature by Godzilla scribe Max Borenstein based on the mythic origins of King Kong, where mutant giant creatures rule. They set a November 4, 2016, release and are wasting no time staffing up. I’m told they’ve offered the directing job to Joe Cornish, who has been offered big movies since his low-budget alien-invasion breakthrough pic Attack The Block. I’m not sure if Cornish will take the job because he’s offered so much — like Universal’s Section Six, the Aaron Berg-scripted drama about the formation of MI6 Brit intelligence branch, for instance. But this is going to be catnip to some hotshot director. When Peter Jackson re-made King Kong, the part where they landed on Skull Island and ran for their lives from over-sized exotic carnivorous creatures was the highlight of the movie. No comment from Cornish’s CAA reps.
Last year at Comic-Con, Legendary confirmed Duncan Jones as director of its videogame adaptation. During Preview Night at this year’s confab, it unveiled the title card for Warcraft, which Universal has slated for March 2016. The Warcraft reveal was part of an invite-only event tonight where Crimson Peak director Guillermo del Toro walked participants through a Gothic Gallery based on one of the sets from the upcoming pic. Needless to say, it was a bit of time and space bender that made a very small space seem very long and dark. Also there was an Oculus VR Pacific Rim: Jaeger Pilot virtual reality experience that del Toro worked on with Industrial Light and Magic that simulated what it would be like to be one of the pilots of a 250-story monster fighting robot. The Legendary booth opens for the general public tomorrow.
Related: Legendary Locks Ben Foster To Round ‘Warcraft’ Cast
UPDATED, 7:28 PM: The Oscar-nominated filmmaker takes a break from working on Crimson Peak in Toronto to tell “Legendary fans” to expect a new TV toon based on Pacific Rim, along with the continuation of the coming book series that started with Year Zero. Watch it below:
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EXCLUSIVE: Rectify‘s Clayne Crawford has locked in a role in Legendary Pictures’ thriller Spectral. The project, described as a supernatural Black Hawk Down, stars James Badge Dale and is being helmed by first-timer Nic Mathieu. Crawford’s film and TV credits include 24, HBO pilot All Signs of Death, The Baytown Outlaws, The Glades, Jericho, and Justified. He’ll play Sergeant Calvin Toll, a focused but short-fused military lifer. Earlier this month Max Martini also joined the cast. Project originated from a pitch by Ian Fried then was scripted by George Nolfi and rewritten by John Gatins. Legendary’s Thomas Tull and John Jashni are producers on the picture, with Jillian Share and Guy Riedel exec producing. Share will oversee the project for Legendary alongside Sophie Sikora. Crawford is repped by APA.
EXCLUSIVE: In what would be his first major starring role since he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, Jared Leto is in early talks to star in director Julius Onah’s Brilliance, the Legendary Pictures adaptation of the Marcus Sakey novel that has a script by David Koepp. Noomi Rapace has been attached to play the female lead and Universal will release through its Legendary deal. This is the role that Will Smith exited, shortly before he aligned himself to the Sony project about the effect of concussions on football players, which Peter Landesman is writing to direct.
Brilliance focuses on a world where a rare set of people are born with extraordinary abilities and are called “brilliants.” At the center of the story is a federal agent with great hunting gifts who is drafted to track down a terrorist, another such brilliant who intends to start a civil war. Onah directed The Girl Is In Trouble, and Joe Roth and Palak Patel are producing with Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni. Leto is very selective about the films he commits to, and this process has been a slow roll. Leto met the director yesterday. He won his Oscar for playing a transgender woman with AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club, the first film he’d done in five years. Leto is repped by CAA.
Max Martini has closed a deal for Legendary Pictures‘ supernatural thriller Spectral, which stars James Badge Dale and is being directed by Nic Matthieu. The original treatment for the pic, which Legendary is calling “a supernatural Black Hawk Down,” was purchased from Ian Fried. The script was penned by George Nolfi with a rewrite by John Gatins. Martini, whose credits include Captain Phillips, Saving Private Ryan, Sabotage and Pacific Rim, is next up in Focus Features’ Fifty Shades Of Grey. He is repped by ICM Partners and Anonymous Content.
Just under a year from now, Legendary Pictures is set to face off at trial against producers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison in a battle over the trio being ejected from Godzilla. Having failed to keep the matter in arbitration, the studio used a motion filed last week to try to gut the producers’ claims of fraud in a cross-complaint, but the other side isn’t buying this latest move. “I think [Legendary is] very vulnerable,” says the producers’ main lawyer Stanton L. Stein of LA’s Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz Sunshine Regenstreif & Taylor. “I think they will do anything to slow down this going to trial, just like they have tried and failed in the past. They needed that property, and they used us to get it. They specified $1.3 million, first-dollar gross and a producer credit,” he adds of the deal his clients had with the studio to shepherd the Godzilla reboot all the way to the big screen. “They promised it and never delivered.”
Related: ‘Godzilla’ Sequel In The Work s At Warner Bros & Legendary
Legendary is taking an offensive approach with the motion it filed last week. “They claim that (Jon) Jashni and Legendary never intended to perform on promises allegedly made in 2009 and early 2010 that Cross-Complainants would be ‘well-treated’ on the Film and would be compensated and credited as its producers,” says the May 30 demurrer motion (read it here) from Legendary’s lawyers at Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP. Claiming that emails proclaiming such good treatment were just an opinion on the exec’s part, Legendary has sought a July 31 hearing on the motion. With potentially millions at stake, the trial between the parties is set to start on May 17, 2015. While all this legal warfare has been going on, Godzilla came out May 16 and has made more than $375 million worldwide.
Related: Legendary “Confident” Of ‘Godzilla’ Lawsuit Outcome Despite Appeals Court Loss
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EXCLUSIVE: Will Smith has decided to drop out of director Julius Onah’s Brilliance, the Legendary Pictures adaptation of the Marcus Sakey novel that has a script by David Koepp. Universal is releasing the film, which was to begin production this summer. The film’s start has moved a couple of times, and the exit came down to timing. Legendary has been in negotiations with Noomi Rapace to star alongside him. The pic focuses on a world where a rare set of people are born with extraordinary abilities and are called “brilliants.” At the center of the story is a federal agent with great hunting gifts who is drafted to track down a terrorist, another such brilliant who intends to start a civil war. Onah directed The Girl Is In Trouble, and Joe Roth and Palak Patel are producing with Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni. Smith, who recently decided to not reprise his role in the Independence Day sequel at Fox, next will be seen starring with Margot Robbie in the Glenn Ficarra/John Requa-directed grifter tale Focus, which Warner Bros opens February 27.
Universal and Legendary Pictures today set new flick Untitled 2016 Event Project for release on November 4, 2016. The companies are keeping mum on project details, however. As of now the only competition that weekend on the heels of 2016′s Halloween releases is Fox and DreamWorks’ animated Trolls pic, adapted from the wild-haired line of imp-faced children’s toys. Elsewhere in 2016 Uni’s got Ride Along 2 (January 15), The Untitled Pets Project (February 12), Legendary’s Duncan Jones-helmed Warcraft (March 11), The Mummy (April 22), and the Untitled Illumination Entertainment film (December 21) slated. Legendary’s new deal with Universal started this year after its pact with longtime studio home Warner Bros expired.
EXCLUSIVE: Legendary has closed a deal for Michael Dougherty to co-write and direct Krampus, a twisted horror comedy set around the Christmas holiday that’s co-written by Todd Casey and Zach Shields. Based on an ancient legend about a pagan demon who punishes the wicked, Krampus is similar in style to Dougherty’s cult hit Trick R’ Treat. Dougherty also co-wrote X2, the second installment of the X-Men franchise, and Superman Returns. He’s also working on a sequel to Trick R’ Treat. That is also at Legendary, which clearly likes the writer-director.
“The dark ancient origins of our holidays have always fascinated me,” Dougherty said. “I’ve been drawing twisted Christmas cards for well over a decade, so it only made sense to bring some of that morbid yuletide fun to the big screen, and Krampus was the perfect mythology to do that. Christmas has been invading Halloween for far too long. It’s time to return the favor.” Read More »
It’ll be almost a year to the day after the new Godzilla hits the big screen, but the long legal clash between Legendary Pictures and a trio of veteran producers dumped from the reboot now has a trial date. Despite Legendary’s efforts to keep the matter private, the parties will be arguing their case in front of a jury in LA Superior Court starting May 17, 2015. That could change if the two sides reach a settlement over credits and compensation for the Warner Bros-distributed tentpole. If that doesn’t happen, the trial, which ejected producers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison have been seeking since filings started flying in January 2013, is scheduled to last around 10 days. The case was reassigned to Judge Michael Beckloff earlier this week. The new Godzilla movie, from director Gareth Edwards and starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, David Strathairn, Juliette Binoche and Sally Hawkins, opens May 14.
Related: Legendary “Confident” Of ‘Godzilla’ Lawsuit Outcome Despite Appeals Court Loss
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Something caused all that damage. Earthquake? Typhoon? Bryan Cranston says the authorities are lying about what really happened. But you and I know it’s Godzilla. Warner Bros has released a new international trailer for this latest reboot of the classic kaiju property. The military is doing its best, but history shows again and again how nature points up the folly of man. Or, as Ken Watanabe puts it, “The arrogance of man is thinking nature is in our control — and not the other way around.” The Legendary Pictures actioner from director Gareth Edwards and writer Max Borenstein also stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, David Strathairn, Juliette Binoche and Sally Hawkins. It arrives May 16:
Zhang Yimou will replace Ed Zwick to direct The Great Wall, the China-set epic that Legendary Pictures principal Thomas Tull has been trying to mount for the past several years through his Legendary East division. The film, scripted by Carlo Bernard and Doug Miro, was going to shoot last year and give Legendary a foothold into the China market. Zwick went as far as casting Henry Cavill and Benjaman Walker, but it didn’t get over the wall that time. Legendary East was recalibrated in a joint venture with China Film Company, and they’re trying again with the Raise The Red Lantern helmer.
With mere weeks until the big guy is back in theaters May 16, the Godzilla battle between Legendary Pictures and producers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison over the upcoming Warner Bros-released reboot looks more likely than ever to be heading to trial. A California Appeals Court judge today rejected Legendary’s attempt to have the matter dealt with in private arbitration (read it here). Justice Judith Ashmann-Gerst said that “substantial evidence supports the trial court’s finding that the parties never had a written agreement to arbitrate their dispute.” On January 9 last year, Legendary filed a complaint to remove Lin, Lee and Davison from the blockbuster project with a puny $25,000 payout. According to Legendary, the tiny sum was all the three were entitled to under the March 2011 Producer Loan Agreement between them and the company. Today’s ruling was in response to a May 10, 2013 ruling by Judge Abraham Khan of the LA Superior Court denying Legendary’s desire for arbitration in the potentially multimillion-dollar lawsuit.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘Godzilla’
Not that Legendary is breaking a sweat publicly after fighting so hard to keep things behind closed doors. “The Court of Appeals decision today decided nothing more than where Legendary’s dispute with Roy Lee and Dan Lin will be litigated,” the company’s lawyer Dale Kinsella said today after the ruling. “Irrespective of the location of the forum, Legendary is confident it will prevail on the merits of the case, for which this recent ruling has no bearing whatsoever. Kinsella is with Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP. (UPDATE, 2:59 PM - “We are pleased that the Court of Appeal has agreed with our legal and factual position,” said the three producers’ lawyer Stanton L. Stein in a statement. “We look forward to presenting our case in a court of law before a jury. We are confident the jury will find in our favor.”) Read More »
There have been glimpses and teasers of the rebooted monster but today the first full-blown trailer of Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros’ Godzilla has dropped. Helmed by Gareth Edwards and featuring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche and Sally Hawkins, Godzilla hits the big screen on May 16.
EXCLUSIVE: Julius Onah has been set by Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures to direct the David Koepp-scripted adaptation of the Marcus Sakey novel Brilliance, which Joe Roth and Palek Patel are producing along with Legendary. It’s got tent pole potential. The tale is set in a world where a rare set of people are born with extraordinary abilities and are called “brilliants.” At the center of the story is a federal agent with great hunting gifts who is drafted to hunt down a terrorist, another such brilliant who intends to start a civil war. CAA reps Onah. Who is this guy? After a slew of acclaimed short films, he made his feature directing debut on The Girl Is In Trouble and is attached to helm The God Particle.
Here’s the new trailer for 300: Rise Of An Empire. The spinoff from the 2006 pic stars Sullivan Stapleton, Rodrigo Santoro, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, David Wenham, Jack O’Connell, Andrew Tiernan, Igal Naor and Andrew Pleavin. This version shows Headey’s queen at what appears to be her husband’s funeral pyre, accompanied by hero Themistocles (Stapleton). It hits theaters March 7.
One in a series of Deadline stories that look back on 2013 and ahead to 2014.
It was a year that saw the Weinsteins and Warner Bros clash over the title of The Butler and then get into the ring again for The Hobbitsequels. 2013 also witnessed the first fired Walking Dead showrunner wanting to take a bite out ofAMC for his piece of the cable blockbuster, a Ray Donovan EP nailed by the feds in a big-time gambling scheme right out of the Showtime Hollywood fixer series and a monster of a legal drama in the making as Legendary Pictures tried to swat some seasoned producers off its Godzilla reboot. In the end, with those cases and more, the Hollywood legal landscape of 2013 proved to be a stringent reminder of why they call it show business and not show friends.
With money and rights at the basis of most of the disputes, the complaints and motions were as numerous as locusts and as prevalent as rats, with many of them spilling over into 2014 and perhaps beyond. Just ask Barry Diller and Les Moonves as streaming service Aereo and CBS and other broadcasters suit up for a potential Supreme Court winner-takes-all showdown next year. Or Prospect Park as it fights ABC in a $125 million suit over licensed soaps All My Children and One Life To Live while having to contend with a complaint from co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz seeking a declaratory judgment from the court over non-compete clauses in his contract with the company. Sure, sometimes weapons are lowered like when Paramount and asset management firm Content Partners reached an undisclosed settlement on December 12 in their $45 million film financing slate dust-up after three years going at it in the courts. With a pivotal hearing looming, that was realpolitik in action as the sudden deal allowed the studio to sidestep dragging JPMorgan Chase, which corporate parent Viacom has significant banking dealings with, into the protracted case despite the blessing of the presiding judge. However, with the grinding duration of a lot of the legal disputes in this town, such resolution is rare, even when the end seems in sight.
Look for instance at Warner Bros and the seemingly never-ending Superman heirs’ rights battle. After a string of seemingly conclusive legal wins this year, WB and subsidiary DC Comics now could face more Krypton courtroom drama in 2014. On December 10, the co-creators heirs’ attorneys Marc Toberoff and Keith G. Adams petitioned the 9th Circuit for either a rehearing by the panel that found in the studio’s favor on November 21 or by the full court itself. If that effort fails, they could take the matter to the SCOTUS. Even with all the billings that O’Melveny & Myers get to make to WB after years of litigation, the sharp-elbowed Daniel Petrocelli and Matthew Kline must want to be able to declare a super-lawyer victory and move on – after all, they also have the Trouble With The Curve copyright suit to handle for the studio and a February 24 hearing on a summary judgment motion in that case by plaintiffs Ryan A. Brooks and Gold Glove Productions to fend off. Read More »