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Relativity Takes On Nicholas Sparks Novel ‘The Best Of Me’

By | Thursday July 25, 2013 @ 3:55pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Relativity has acquired from Warner Bros The Best of Me, a fully developed package that includes the bestselling novel by acclaimed author Nicholas Sparks, and script by J. Mills Goodloe and Will Fetters. Michael Hoffman, who is rewriting the script with Fetters, is set to direct. It puts Relativity back in business with Sparks, whose Safe Haven was released in February and grossed over $96 million worldwide. Relativity also adapted the Sparks novel Dear John, which grossed over $114 million worldwide.

Hoffman, who helmed The Last Station and The Emperor’s Club, has been working on the project since not long after Warner Bros acquired it for a sum in the vicinity of $2 million against $5 million, which at the time was the going rate for a Sparks novel. Sparks’ frequent collaborator Denise DiNovi s producing with the author and his producing partner Theresa Park. Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh joins them as producer.

It’s the second project that Relativity has acquired this week that was developed by another studio after Relativity signed on to distribute the family adventure film Echo from Disney.

Relativity production president Robbie Brenner said the company was eager to do more projects with the author. “Nicholas is one of the most creative and talented authors in the world and in The Best of Me he tells a deeply moving and unforgettable story. We look forward to working … Read More »

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Warner Bros Romancing Director Michael Hoffman For Nicholas Sparks’ ‘Best Of Me’

By | Thursday September 27, 2012 @ 9:58am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Looks like Warner Bros is getting close to the altar on another romantic film based on a Nicholas Sparks bestseller. I’m told that Michael Hoffman is in talks to direct The Best Of Me, an adaptation of the Sparks bestseller. Will Fetters, who adapted the Sparks novel Lucky One, is being courted to do a rewrite. Denise DiNovi is producing with Sparks and Theresa Park is  co-producer. Hoffman most recently helmed the Gambit remake that stars Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz.

Related: Hot Trailer: ‘Gambit’

Warner Bros originally hired J. Mills Goodloe to write the script, after it acquired the novel long before it was published by Grand Central. In fact, the studio bought The Best Of Me last summer in a room where Sparks pitched his novel idea to Warner Bros executives, even before putting pen to paper. The novel is about two former small-town high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks. Now middle-aged, they’ve taken wildly divergent paths. Neither has forgotten their first love affair, and when they return to their hometown for a funeral, they meet and confront the past and a possible future. Goodloe is beginning his adaptation immediately. Read More »

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Toronto TOLDJA!: CBS Films Closes U.S. Deal On ‘Salmon Fishing In The Yemen’

Mike Fleming

UPDATE 2, 7:03PM: CBS Films has just issued a press release confirming the acquisition:

TORONTO (September 12) – CBS Films announced today that they have acquired the U.S.distribution rights to SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN which made its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival this week. The announcement was made jointly today by CBS Films’ COO Wolfgang Hammer and EV Pof Acquisitions Scott Shooman.
Directed by Oscar©-nominee Lasse Hallström (Chocolat), SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is an extraordinary, beguiling tale of fly-fishing and politicalspinning, of unexpected heroism and late-blooming love and of an attempt toprove the impossible, possible. Ewan McGregor (Beginners) and Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau) star in the feature film alongside Oscar©-nominee Kristen ScottThomas (I’ve Loved You So Long).

Based on Paul Torday’s acclaimed novel, SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is written by Oscar©-winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and produced by Paul Webster (The Motorcycle Diaries) and executive produced by Jamie Laurenson, Stephen Garrett, Paula Jalfon, Zygi Kamasa and Guy Avshalom.
“I am so happy to have the support of the team at CBS Films for the distribution of our labor of love, ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. ’I had the best of times working on it with producer Paul Webster, writer Simon Beaufoy and the cast, Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, Amr Waked and Kristin Scott Thomas,” said Hallström.

“Lasse Hallström has done it again with this beautiful, heartwarming, and elegant picture. The performances are amazing from top to bottom,” commented Shooman who continued, “We are honored to have the opportunity to bring this extraordinary film to American audiences.”

UTA Independent Film Group set up the film’s financing and brokered the dealwith CBS Films.

 

UPDATE, 6:11PM: The deal has closed, and CBS Films has acquired U.S. rights to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Sources close to the buyer say it’s the $4 million that the sellers asked for, while sources close to the seller say it’s $5 million. Summit got the deal to that level. What’s clear is this is a healthy deal.

EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 12:26 PM: CBS Films is in advanced negotiations to reel in U.S. distribution rights to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, the Lasse Hallstrom-directed film that premiered last night at the Princess of Wales Theater. Fox Searchlight, Summit, Focus and Miramax have been circling, but CBS appears to be tying down the property for a low-seven-figure deal. Adapted by Simon Beaufoy from the Paul Torday novel, the film stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked, the latter playing a wealthy sheik who pays a fisheries scientist to stock a stream with trout. The sheik believes that fishing brings him closer to God, an experience he wants to share with his countrymen, despite the dangerous fact that some local leaders oppose it; there is a burgeoning love story between his British legal rep (Blunt) and the stuffy fisheries scientist (McGregor) who is locked in a dull marriage. Read More »

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A 14-Year ‘Gambit’ Finally Provides a Big Payoff For Producer Mike Lobell

Mike Fleming

Production begins today on Gambit, a caper comedy that stars Colin Firth as a London art curator who plans to con England’s richest man into buying a phony Monet painting. To do it, he enlists a Texas steer roper (Cameron Diaz) to pose as a woman whose grandfather liberated the painting at the end of WWII. Michael Hoffman is directing, Alan Rickman and Tom Courtenay also star, and it’s Firth’s first big job since winning the Best Actor Oscar for The King’s Speech. And the script was written by Oscar winners Joel and Ethan Coen. Isn’t Hollywood great, the way these things just magically come together?

Gambit actually took a remarkable 14 years to get to this point, a case study on how impossible it is for producers to succeed without infinite patience and an inability to comprehend the word “no.” These Don Quixote types are the only ones in the moviemaking equation who don’t cash big paychecks through the development process, collecting serious fees only when their movies get made. They have a harder road than ever, because cost-cutting studios have made first-look producer deals an endangered species. After all, producers are bringing them projects anyway. In the case of Gambit, the driving force has been producer Mike Lobell. A seasoned vet who has gotten 14 pictures made — The Freshman, Honeymoon in Vegas and Striptease among them — Lobell … Read More »

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CBS Films Acquires Colin Firth-Cameron Diaz Redo ‘Gambit’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Gambit. The film has a script by Joel and Ethan Coen, and Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz are set to star for The Last Station helmer Michael Hoffman. Firth plays an art curator who enlists a Texas rodeo queen in a scam to con England’s richest man. Shooting begins in London this May. The film is based on the 1966 Michael Caine-Shirley MacLaine British caper film.

Mike Lobell is producing with Crime Scene Pictures partners Adam Ripp and Rob Paris, and Rizal Risjad is exec producer. I’ve been writing about this movie for going on a decade, with Lobell  a tireless advocate for a picture that got close several times over the years. Now, the movie seems charmed, with Firth coming off The King’s Speech and his Academy Award for Best Actor. Diaz just starred in Bad Teacher. The picture was funded by Crime Scene. Financing was arranged by CAA, which brokered the domestic distribution deal.

CBS Films is becoming an increasingly busy player in the acquisition circuit after the success of the remake The Mechanic. Those acquisitions are meant to bolster CBS’ slate of homegrown pictures that includes the recent release Beastly.

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Cameron Diaz Joins Colin Firth In ‘Gambit’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Cameron Diaz is attached to star with Colin Firth in Gambit, the Joel and Ethan Coen-scripted remake that will be directed by The Last Station’s Michael Hoffman. The 1966 original starred Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. Mike Lobell is producing with Crime Scene Pictures partners Adam Ripp and Rob Paris. Crime Scene is financing and FilmNation Entertainment will handle offshore sales at the European Film Market in Berlin. The film will shoot in London this May.

Firth plays a London art curator who plans to con a wealthy collector into buying a phony Monet painting. He enlists a Texas steer roper (Diaz) to pose as a woman whose grandfather liberated the painting at the end of WWII. Diaz is currently starring in The Green Hornet and recently wrapped Bad Teacher. Lobell has spent the better part of a decade trying to push this picture up the hill.  Adding Diaz to the fact Gambit will be Firth’s first project since all the awards hoopla surrounding The King’s Speech, the stars have certainly aligned for Lobell and his passion project.

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‘Gambit’ Remake Gets Funding And Director

By | Thursday November 18, 2010 @ 12:22pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Things are finally looking up for Gambit, the Joel and Ethan Coen-scripted remake of the 1966 British caper comedy which originally starred Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. Upstart company Crime Scene Pictures has signed on to finance the picture, and The Last Station director Michael Hoffman has come aboard to direct. FilmNation’s Glen Basner will sell foreign territories and the picture is on track to shoot next May in London. Producer Mike Lobell has been trying to get the project made for years, and most recently had Doug Liman flirting with the job. Caine played a cat burglar who tries to rob a billionaire of his priceless statue and enlists the help of a waitress who is a dead ringer for the victim’s late wife. While the burglar has carefully planned the job in his head, the execution is complicated by his relationship with his pretty accomplice.

The filmmakers will go out to cast shortly. Crime Scene Pictures was started by Adam Ripp and Rob Paris. Backed by equity from Southeast Asia, they hope to fund 4-6 pictures over three years with budgets ranging from $2 million to $20 million. Hoffman is repped by UTA.

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