EXCLUSIVE: Olivier Megaton will be back in the director’s chair for Taken 3, the latest film in the action franchise hatched by Luc Besson‘s EuropaCorp. Megaton directed the second film in the series that’s been distributed by 20th Century Fox. While it’s likely that Fox will be on Taken 3, I understand negotiations are still underway. This will be Megaton’s next project with a start date I hear could be as early as March. In a new piece of casting, Deadline understands that Forest Whitaker is in talks to join Liam Neeson and other returning actors including Maggie Grace. Neeson stars as Bryan Mills, the retired CIA agent who used his brutal skills to track down his daughter after she was kidnapped in the first film, and who was himself taken hostage in the sequel. Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr reported last summer that Neeson was closing a deal in the vicinity of $20M to reprise his role as Mills. Neeson was a reluctant participant in the first sequel, but got paid in the $15M neighborhood.
EXCLUSIVE: Get ready for a third installment of Taken, the franchise launched by EuropaCorp’s Luc Besson and released by 20th Century Fox. I’m told that Liam Neeson is closing a deal in the vicinity of $20 million to reprise his role as Bryan Mills, the retired CIA agent who used his brutal skills after his daughter was kidnapped in France to be sold into sex slavery. Neeson was a reluctant participant in the first sequel but got paid in the $15 million neighborhood. Now I hear he’s getting another raise, and that EuropaCorp is planning to start production in February.
Next will come the effort to make deals with Maggie Grace, who played his daughter in the first two films, and Famke Janssen, who played his ex-wife. They have a script well in the works from Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, who teamed for the first two films. No director has yet been set, but don’t be surprised if Olivier Megaton comes back. He’s the Besson protege who directed the last film, which cost around $45 million and grossed over $376 million. The first film cost around $25 million and grossed over $226 million, with Pierre Morel directing. I thought the original film was vastly better than the sequel. But when the sequel does better than the original at the box office, and doesn’t cost that much more, of course they will try for the trifecta. The key has been getting Neeson.
EXCLUSIVE: Signaling an intention by EuropaCorp to ramp up Stateside production, principals Luc Besson and CEO Christophe Lambert have set veteran production executive and producer Lisa Ellzey to join EuropaCorp as executive vice president of U.S. Motion Picture Production. Ellzey, a Golden Globe and Emmy-winning producer, most recently was executive vice president of production at Lionsgate and 20th Century Fox. She will report directly to Lambert. I’ve heard EuropaCorp’s intention will be to generate as many as five film projects per year here when things get up and running. The company is very prolific from its base in France.
EXCLUSIVE: Furthering its commitment to co-finance action films from Luc Besson‘s EuropaCorp, Relativity Media has signed on to co-finance and be domestic distributor for Brick Mansions, the American-ized remake of the Paris-set Banlieue 13. The film will star Paul Walker, and it will be directed by Camille Delamarre, a protege of Besson. Besson, who co-wrote the original, scripted the remake with his Taken collaborator Robert Mark Kamen. Walker will star with David Belle, who starred in the original and the sequel District 13: Ultimatum. He is also the guy credited with creating Parkour, a sport that involves agility and leaping and climbing around obstacles. There will be plenty of that in these films.
Luc Besson’s films have long been big in Japan. Now, the French multi-hyphenate is looking to establish a footprint in China. Besson’s studio, EuropaCorp, today said it has signed an exclusive co-production and distribution pact with Shanghai-based Fundamental …
Liam Neeson is back as Bryan Mills, the man with a special set of lethal skills in Taken 2, and a trailer has been released overseas that shows no shortage of action. The first film, which recast Neeson as an action superstar, had a smart script by Luc Besson and …
Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp will head to Berlin’s European Film Market with a couple of hot English-language titles, including Enemy Of The State and Live Free Or Die Hard writer David Marconi’s second outing as director, Intersection. Paris-based Europa is currently in production on the thriller that Marconi also penned. Frank Grillo, who’s been making a name for himself with recent turns in The Grey, Warrior and the upcoming Gangster Squad, stars alongside Roschdy Zem (Days Of Glory); Marie-Josée Croze (Tell No One, The Diving Bell And The Butterfly); and Charlie Bewley, who plays Demetri in the Twilight movies. The story centers on a rich and beautiful couple on their honeymoon in Morocco. After escaping a deadly multi-car pileup at a desert intersection, the group of survivors — including a wanted smuggler, an undercover cop, a kidnapper, a baby and an unconscious Australian — embark on a journey of deceit and revelation that culminates in a Tangiers souk. Delivery is for fourth quarter this year.
Wrongly convicted of espionage, Guy Pearce turns out to be the government’s go-to guy when the president’s daughter is trapped aboard an orbital maximum security prison. Maggie Grace also stars. Executive producer Luc Besson co-wrote with first-time feature directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger. Known under other names abroad …
EXCLUSIVE: Angelina Jolie is in talks to star in an untitled big-scale movie written and directed by Luc Besson. Besson currently has The Lady in the Oscar mix, but this film sounds like a closer cousin to early Besson efforts like The Professional, La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element.
I’m told that there are serious talks going on for Jolie to star next spring in a dramatic thriller that is rooted in true scientific elements. Besson’s EuropaCorp developed it and will co-finance, and negotiations are already underway with a studio for domestic distribution. The Besson film would be Jolie’s next as an actress, and it would come before she teams with director Ridley Scott on a historical epic about Gertrude Bell that The Constant Gardener scribe Jeffrey Caine is currently rewriting. I’m told there’s a high likelihood that both films will land at the same studio.