EXCLUSIVE: Chris Evans will make his feature directorial debut on 1:30 Train, a Ron Bass-scripted film that will be funded by Wonderland Sound And Vision. Evans will star and produce with Mark Kassen, Howard and Karen Baldwin, Bill Immerman, and Wonderland’s McG and Mary Viola. I’ve heard Evans plans to direct the movie this fall, completing production before he picks up his shield to play Captain America in The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, the Joss Whedon-directed sequel for Marvel. The film is a romance in the vein of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, focusing on two strangers who meet in Manhattan and spend one night together as the conflicts in their own lives become the basis for their exploration of each other and themselves.
This becomes the first financed feature for Wonderland since director-producer McG re-launched his Wonderland banner last month with a multi-year funding partnership with Mickey Liddell’s private equity-backed LD Entertainment. This has enabled Wonderland to be a buyer and independently develop, produce and finance its own slate of feature film, television and digital projects. Wonderland’s McG and Viola worked with Evans on the upcoming Justin Reardon-directed A Many Splintered Thing, and 1:30 Train grew out of that. Evans had been involved in an earlier incarnation of the film with another director. And he never forgot the material. Now’s he’s in a position to do something about it. Evans is repped by CAA and 3 Arts. CAA will handle the domestic deal with WME on 1:30 Train.
EXCLUSIVE: Director-producer McG has re-launched his Wonderland Sound and Vision with a multi-year funding partnership with Mickey Liddell’s private equity-backed LD Entertainment. The arrangement makes McG a buyer with the financial backing for Wonderland to independently develop, produce and finance its own slate of feature film, television and digital projects. The two sides are not disclosing the size of LD Entertainment’s investment but sources indicate that the deal includes an eight-figure overhead component for Wonderland’s current offices on Sunset Boulevard. McG has brought in Alloy Entertainment’s SVP Television Gina Girolamo to run the television division of the now independent company. She succeeds Peter Johnson, who has left after a nine-year stint. Mary Viola, who has been with Wonderland for four years, will continue to oversee the company’s film slate. We hear Wonderland plans to produce 5-6 shows a year, serving as a virtual studio: co-financing, sharing distribution and owning copyright. Wonderland is believed to be the only independent production company of this scale run by a creative type, writer or director. It is a step up for Liddell’s LD Entertainment; he primarily has invested in distribution rights to prestige films like Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful, and started a distribution arm to get in the releasing game.
For the past 12 years, Wonderland was based at Warner Bros Television where it produced more than 500 hours of primetime TV series, including the CW staple Supernatural, Nikita, Chuck and digital series Aim High. McG was offered to stay at the studio with a very lucrative new deal but wanted to step out of the traditional system, an idea he had been bouncing around for years. Here is how McG explains the philosophy and the goals of the company in its new incarnation: “Wonderland is built for the most talented directors, writers, and actors to come over and get their films and television shows made. Our focus is to support the artist and get the material into production. This new relationship now puts Wonderland in a position to go straight into production on our projects. We are now a buyer and, in turn, plan to deliver product to the marketplace quickly and efficiently via traditional and emerging distribution platforms.” Liddell called McG “one of the most creative and innovative talents in the entertainment industry.” Read More »
ABC made a late charge on the pilot pickup front to end what will likely be the busiest day this season. (For full list of all broadcast pilots, click here.) The network has given the green light to comedy Pulling, from Bad Teachers scribes Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky and producer Aaron Kaplan. On the drama side, picked up are dramas Betrayal from David Zabel; Venice from McG and Byron Balasco, with McG set to direct; and The Returned, from writer Aaron Zelman, Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Single-camera comedy Pulling is based on the praised 2006 British series. Eisenberg and Stupnitsky wrote the adaptation, produced by ABC Studios and Kapital Entertainment. Sharon Horgan and Dennis Kelly, creators of the original series, executive produce with Eisenberg, Stupnitsky and Kaplan. Pulling revolves around three dysfunctional women in their 30s living their lives the way they want, even if society tells them they should have it all figured out by this point. This marks the second pilot order for Kaplan today, joining CBS’ Dana Klein comedy, and third so far this season, along with NBC’s The Gates. Read More »
We told you back in November that Hailee Steinfeld was boarding McG’s untitled action thriller starring Kevin Costner. Now Relativity Media and EuropaCorp are confirming that Steinfeld has … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: McG has teamed with The Mentalist executive producer Daniel Cerone for a female-lead crime drama, which has sold to CBS. Carrying the social media-influenced title #Resistance, the project from McG’s Wonderland Sound and Vision and Warner Bros TV centers on an unconventional young female detective for the San Francisco Police Department who won’t let criminals get away with their actions. After she finally goes too far, she gets fired from the force — only to be secretly recruited by the Chief of Police to become an undercover officer posing as a vigilante, allowing her to break the law in order to serve justice. Cerone will write the script and executive produce with Wonderland’s McG and Peter Johnson.
The project, somewhat of a female Equalizer, was put together by Wonderland VP Jeff Grosvenor. It stems from McG’s history and interest in empowered female characters and Cerone’s experience on Dexter, where he served as executive producer/showrunner, and on The Mentalist — both shows centered on characters that fight crime from outside the conventional system. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The CW is jumping down a rabbit hole to Wunderland, putting in development a contemporary reimagining of Alice In Wonderland. Fittingly, Wunderland hails from McG‘s Warner Bros TV-based production company Wonderland Sound And Vision, in association with WBTV. Written by The Playboy Club creator Chad Hodge, the drama project centers on a young female detective in present-day Los Angeles who discovers another world that exists under the surface of this ultra-modern city. Hodge will write the script and executive produce with McG and Wonderland’s Peter Johnson. This is one of two public domain properties the CW is developing as potential drama series for next season, along with Sleepy Hollow, which also is being produced by WBTV. Lewis Carroll’s classic has been closely associated with Disney via the 1951 animated film and Tim Burton’s 2010 extravaganza. Characters from the book also have been featured on Disney-owned ABC’s fairytale drama Once Upon A Time. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In one of ABC’s first major development commitments for next season, the network has bought a soapy drama from McG, producer of Fox’s The O.C., which helped usher in the current resurgence of the primetime … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In a symbolic move, on the day Chuck, whose pilot McG directed, is ending its 5-season run on NBC, McG has closed a deal to direct his first pilot since Chuck, Fox’s Guilty. The legal drama, from Greg … Read More »
Chris Pine and Tom Hardy play spies who discover they’re dating the same woman — Reese Witherspoon. The decide to go at each other rather like another 20th Century Fox pairing (we’ll let you guess which one) and “may the best man win.” Occasional hilarity and physical comedy ensue. You … Read More »
Up-and-coming scribes Chris Shafer and Paul Vicknair have been hired to write The Girl Who Conned The Ivy League, the feature adaptation of a Rolling Stone article that McG’s … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment is in talks with McG to direct Puzzle Palace, the cop drama script by David Guggenheim. Summit acquired the project at a pitch early last year from Guggenheim after the scribe sold the spec script Safe … Read More »
20th Century Fox has released a trailer for This Means War, the McG-directed comedy that pits the world’s deadliest CIA operatives and inseparable best friends against one another when they find they are dating the same woman. The operatives use all their skills and gadgetry in an attempt to prevail. … Read More »
Is it a gimmick or a true interactive programming innovation? Warner Bros Digital Distribution has launched what it claims to be the first “social series” from a Hollywood studio in Aim High. It’s an action comedy series that has … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: As it enters its second decade as a company this month, McG’s Wonderland Sound and Vision is ramping up TV development this season with 5 drama sales at ABC, NBC, Fox and the CW and several comedy and reality … Read More »
Universal has dropped another board-game film adaptation from its groundbreaking six-year exclusive pact with Hasbro, sending Ouija into turnaround to join previous projects Clue, Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering. The Ouija film — which has McG attached to direct and … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has quietly dropped out of Clue, one of the seven Hasbro games properties the studio contracted to make into movies in a ground-breaking six-year exclusive deal signed in 2008. Clue becomes the third project out of seven to be dropped by Universal (Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering were also kicked to the curb), but none of those projects are dead. In the case of the murder mystery board game Clue, Hasbro is funding the development and producing the film with Gore Verbinski’s Blind Wink. Verbinski, director of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, Rango and the upcoming Lone Ranger, still plans to direct Clue, and he and Blind Wink’s John Krauss are producing with Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir.
They’ve just hired Flash Gordon scribes Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama to write the Clue script. The writers will draft a take that Verbinski and his fellow producers came up with that retains the murder mystery spirit of the board game, but broadens the setting to a global stage. Beyond scripting Flash Gordon for Sony Pictures, Sharpless and Sazama are redrafting Dracula Year Zero. That project’s still hanging on at Universal, after being halted just short of the start line because of a high budget, when Alex Proyas was directing and Sam Worthington was going to star. ICM reps the writers.
Is all this a clue that Universal no longer wants to roll the dice on board game movies? Insiders say no. Rather, they tell me that Universal and Hasbro gradually narrowed their focus to the four films that most made sense for the studio: Battleship, the Peter Berg-directed summer 2012 action movie that stars Taylor Kitsch and Liam Neeson, with Universal just releasing its first trailer (below); Stretch Armstrong, which has Rob Letterman directing and Twilight Saga’s Taylor Lautner attached to play the rubbery title character; Candy Land, which is being written by Kung Fu Panda 2 co-writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who’ve described the film as Lord of the Rings, with edibles; and Ouija, which has McG attached to direct and Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form producing with Ian Bryce and Hasbro’s Goldner and Schneir. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: He’s baaack! Arnold Schwarzenegger is attached to star in a rights package that CAA is shopping today that will revive The Terminator, one of Hollywood’s most iconic scifi franchises. The agency is dropping the package on studios this afternoon. I’m told that already, Universal, Sony and Lionsgate, and CBS Films are looking hard at the package. There is no screenwriter attached at this point, and Robert Cort is producing. This is the first real activity on The Terminator project since February 2010, when the property emerged from a bankruptcy auction and into the possession of Pacificor. The Santa Barbara-based hedge fund posted a bid of $29.5 million, with the promise that additional multimillion-dollar payments for each film would go to Halcyon, the company that made the 2009 McG-directed Terminator Salvation. That film starred Sam Worthington as the cyborg and Christian Bale as John Connor, and the storyline launched the battle between Skynet and the human survivors of the apocalypse, the war foreshadowed in James Cameron’s visionary 1984 original film. Halcyon wanted to make several films but ran out of money. At the time of the auction, Pacificor beat out a combined bid by Lionsgate and Sony planning to make back-to-back sequels to bring the franchise to a natural creative conclusion.
While many felt at the time that Pacificor overpaid and that Lionsgate and Sony would have been better matches for the material, CAA has chosen an optimum time to seek a new deal. I wrote back in February that Universal quietly was trying to arrange for Lin to be helmer of the project. At the time, some turned up their noses. Given the strong international grosses being racked up by Fast Five and the expectations for a strong domestic opening this Friday, Lin has a lot of heat. And Schwarzenegger is looking to recapture past marquee glory ending his run as California State Governor. Schwarzenegger has circled several projects including Last Stand for Lionsgate, but here, he’s the star, returning to the signature role that once established him as the world’s biggest movie star. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: McG’s Wonderland Sound and Vision has launched a new comic and graphic novel imprint to create transmedia properties out of original ideas. The first title will be Haunted City, based on an idea by screenwriter Chap Taylor. Taylor and … Read More »