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Toronto: Elmore Leonard’s ‘Life Of Crime’ Near U.S. Deal With Lionsgate/Roadside

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions are nearing a deal for a tag-team release of Life Of Crime, Daniel Schechter’s black comic adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s book The Switch. The deal will be for U.S. rights and it will be worth several million dollars. I will try to get more specific when it closes. The film stars Jennifer Aniston, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Isla Fisher, Will Forte, Mark Boone Junior, Tim Robbins and John Hawkes. The picture’s World Premiere at Toronto doesn’t happen until Saturday night, when it plays as the closing-night film of the Toronto Film Festival. It has screened for buyers and press and industry.

Related: A Replay Of A Few Minutes With The Late, Great Elmore Leonard

The film features some of the characters from the Quentin Tarantino-directed Jackie Brown, which was based on the Leonard novel Rum Punch. This one takes place 15 years earlier when career criminals Ordell (Bey) and Louis (Hawkes) team up to kidnap the wife (Aniston) of a corrupt Detroit real estate developer (Robbins). The husband refuses to pay the ransom for his wife’s return and the ex-cons are forced to figure out a Plan B to get paid.

Lionsgate and Roadside have done several successful collaborations that include Margin Call and Arbitrage, and Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. Those are among the most successful multi-platform releases, but I’m hearing this will likely be a theatrical release. There is certainly a strong cast here. Schechter told me recently that he wrote the script on spec and then was invited by the author (his idol) to hunt down the rights to The Switch because he and Michael Siegel couldn’t remember where they were. Two years later, Schechter collared those rights and got Leonard’s blessing to move forward. Schechter was eager to show the film to Leonard but the author died at 87 a week before Schechter got the film finished. Leonard would have been in attendance at Saturday’s premiere as well. Read More »

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As Adaptation Of Elmore Leonard Classic Heads For Toronto, Its Director Laments That His Idol Won’t Be There To See It

By | Tuesday August 20, 2013 @ 4:50pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Like so many directors with Toronto-bound films, writer/director Daniel Schechter has been in a race to finish Life Of Crime, his adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel The Switch. Schechter was particularly in a hurry because the 87-year old Leonard’s health was shaky and he was eager to see the movie after giving a free option to a relative newcomer who was crazy enough to adapt the novel on spec and then clean up rights issues that led all the way to France. Sadly, Schechter didn’t get done in time to show his literary idol the film that will be the closing night Gala Premiere at Toronto, starring Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes, Mos Def, Tim Robbins, Isla Fisher and Will Forte.

“I would read his novels and to me it was like sheet music, where I would say, I know I can play that piece,” Schechter told me. “So I did a foolish thing. I adapted his book on spec, even though the only research I did was that I didn’t find it on IMDB. I transcribed a very good book into a script, felt I’d made some clever editorial decisions, and sent it in a Hail Mary pass to Elmore’s manager Michael Siegel. He took a shining to it, but didn’t know who owned the rights because it predated him.” Read More »

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