EXCLUSIVE: CAA has signed Mickey Rourke, the actor who reprises his tough guy role in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. Rourke has had an up-and-down long career, but his resurgence over the past few years had a lot to do with the hard work put in by David Unger at ICM, who booked Rourke into a celebrated performance in the Darren Aronofsky-directed The Wrestler, and films that included Iron Man 2, The Expendables and Man On Fire. Rourke moved with Unger when he joined upstart agency Resolution. Rourke continues with attorney Bill Sobel.
Before Twilight‘s Kellan Lutz tackles Nu Image/Millenium’s Hercules he makes his bid for action hero status with Indonesia-set Java Heat. IFC‘s May 10 release pairs Lutz’s wisecracking American with a Muslim cop (Ario Bayu) who team up to bring down a terrorist (Mickey Rourke). Java Heat hits VOD and XBOX May 13th. See how Lutz’s action chops and Rourke’s accent measure up in the trailer:
2ND UPDATE, 6:20 PM Writethru: It’s official. Resolution Agency Chairman Jeff Berg announced just now that, after 15 years at ICM, talent and literary agent David Unger is joining. Unger is the first ICM agent to move to Berg’s new agency. Next will be lit agent Robert Lazar. Both agents had been Berg proteges with Unger taking international lead at ICM for over a decade. It looks like he will play the same role at Resolution. Unger is best known for resurrecting the career of Mickey Rourke in the Oscar-nominated role in The Wrestler. Unger’s clients include Mickey Rourke, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Steve Coogan, Lindsay Lohan, Naomi Campbell, Gong Li, Anil Kapoor, Natalia Vodianova, Fred Durst, Courtney Love, Johnny Hallyday, Emmanuelle Seigner, Olivier Martinez, Vincent Perez as well as directors Tony Kaye, Johan Renck, Malcolm Venville, Michael Haussman and screenwriter Roger Avary among others.
Unger left ICM Partners today when he’d secured his release to head to Berg’s new agency. My sources say Unger always intended to leave ICM Partners after Berg’s exit and didn’t want a partnership under Chris Silbermann’s and Rick Levy’s management buyout. I hear one of the well-liked Unger’s roles will be to lead ”the younger generation” at Resolution. Unger will continue to represent film and television actors, directors and writers, and also serve in Resolution’s media finance group. Unger will be based in the agency’s Century City offices.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with David for more than 15 years. He’s an …
EXCLUSIVE: IFC Films has picked up the U.S rights to Java Heat. They plan a nationwide theatrical release for the action thriller in 2013. Java Heat is directed by Conor Allyn, who wrote the screenplay with his father and Margate House Films partner Rob Allyn. The deal was put together by Sundance Selects/IFC Films’ VP for Acquisitions and Production Arianna Bocco with WME Global negotiating on behalf of filmmakers Margate House Films. Java Heat stars Mickey Rourke, the Twilight Saga’s Kellan Lutz and Indonesian star Ario Bayu. The Iron Man 2 star plays Malik, a twisted terrorist behind a series of embassy bombings. Jake Travers, a shot-first-ask-questions-later American played by Lutz, and Hashim, an Indonesian police detective, team up to hunt for him. In the process the duo discover the politics of terror are more sinister than they even suspected. Conor Allyn is repped by Zero Gravity Management. Kellan Lutz is repped by Zero Gravity Management and Innovative Artists. Mickey Rourke is repped by ICM Partners.
Related: AFM Round Up, Day 3
EXCLUSIVE: Mickey Rourke is in talks to join Gerard Butler in the Albert Hughes-directed Motor City, which is being financed by Emmett/Furla Films and produced by Joel Silver’s Dark Castle. The drama, which centers on a man who is double crossed and seeks revenge on the guy who put him behind bars and took his woman, will be distributed domestically by Warner Bros. Rourke is also now in negotiations to make a return trip to Sin City 2, the Robert Rodriguez/Frank Miller sequel. He’ll reprise his role of Marv, the hulking tough guy with a soft spot for women. Wait, didn’t Rourke’s compelling character get the electric chair in the last film? He’s repped by ICM Partners.
EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Michael Hall, Danny Trejo and Mickey Rourke will star in Dead in Tombstone, the Roel Reine-directed action adventure film that begins filming next week. Mike Elliott and Glenn Ross are producing through Universal 1440 Productions, and Shane Kuhn and Brendan Cowles wrote the script. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will distribute.
Trejo plays Guerrero Hernandez, leader of the Blackwater Gang of outlaws. But after freeing his half-brother, Red (Hall), from prison, Guerrero’s plan to loot the mining town of Edendale backfires spectacularly, when he is double crossed by his half-sibling. After making a deal with the Devil (Rourke), Guerrero comes back from the dead a year later to seek his revenge. The town, which has presciently been renamed Tombstone will soon have its dusty streets running knee-deep in a river of blood.
EXCLUSIVE: Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits and Olga Kurylenko have joined Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken in Seven Psychopaths. Directed and scripted by In Bruges’ Martin McDonagh, the film began production this week in Los Angeles. CBS Films is co-financing and distributing in the U.S.
Farrell plays a screenwriter who struggles to find the handle on his script, called Seven Psychopaths. He gets drawn into the dog-napping escapades of his friends (played by Rockwell and Walken). Once the beloved Shih Tzu owned by a psychopathic gangster (Harrelson) goes missing, the screenwriter finds himself fueled with all the drama he needs for his screenplay, if he can stay alive long enough to write it all down. The film’s produced by Graham Broadbent and Peter Czernin, with Tessa Ross exec producing. It’s a production of Blueprint Pictures, and Film4 is co-financing with the BFI Film Fund and CBS Films. Hanway Films is handling foreign sales. Mickey Rourke, who had been in negotiations for a role, never closed a deal and will not be in the picture. Harrelson and Kurylenko are repped by CAA, Waits by WME.
EXCLUSIVE: Mickey Rourke is negotiating to star with Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken in Seven Psychopaths, the next film by In Bruges writer/director Martin McDonagh. That means Rourke will not be reprising his role in the Simon West-directed The Expendables 2. Rourke did the first film as a favor to director Sylvester Stallone, but it doesn’t sound like there was a big financial incentive to return for a reprise on the surprise hit.
Rourke, who next stars alongside Henry Cavill in Relativity’s big ticket Tarsem Singh-directed Immortals, will instead spend the fall joining McDonagh and his In Bruges star Farrell, who plays a screenwriter in Los Angeles who struggles to find the handle on his script, called Seven Psychopaths. The screenwriter gets drawn into the dognapping escapades of his friends (played by Rockwell and Walken). Once the beloved Shih Tzu owned by a psychopathic gangster goes missing, the screenwriter finds himself fueled with all the drama he needs for his screenplay, if he can stay alive long enough to write it all down. The ICM-repped Rourke is trying to get back to the awards season form he found himself in a couple of years ago when he got Oscar-nominated for The Wrestler. McDonagh got nominated for his In Bruges script.
CBS Films acquired the rights to distribute Seven Psychopaths in …
BREAKING: Barry Levinson’s 1982 film Diner is headed for Broadway in fall 2012. Base Entertainment’s Scott Zeiger and Brian Becker have announced a musical adaptation with book by Levinson and music and lyrics by Sheryl Crow. The musical marks the Broadway debut of both Levinson and Crow, the Grammy-winning singer/songwriter. Kathleen Marshall will direct and choreograph. It follows the storyline of Levinson’s breakthrough film, which was set in 1959 Baltimore and revolved around the misadventures of six high school buddies who reunite when one of them gets married. It was a launching point for young actors Kevin Bacon, Ellen Barkin, Tim Daly, Steve Guttenberg, Paul Reiser, Mickey Rourke and Daniel Stern. “Diner was a pivotal moment in my career, and since then I have continued to live with the characters, realizing there is is much more to their story,” Levinson said. “I’m excited to be embarking on this stage version, which affords me the opportunity as a storyteller to expand on my original vision and let the characters express their innermost feeling and thoughts through song.” Levinson has been working with screenwriter James Toback on a movie about the relationship between mob boss John Gotti and his son John Jr, a film that will star John Travolta and Ben Foster.
EXCLUSIVE: Anchor Bay Films just acquired U.S. distribution rights to 13, Gela Babluani’s remake of his 2005 thriller 13 Tzameti. The film isn’t playing here at Toronto, but it will be one of a flurry of titles being shopped during the festival, something that proved very effective in Cannes, where some of the biggest acquisition deals were made on the basis of sellers showing promo reels to hungry distributors.
The remake stars Sam Riley, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Ray Winstone, Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Shannon, Ben Gazzara, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Mickey Rourke and Jason Statham. Anchor Bay president Bill Clark and EVP Worldwide Acquisitions and Co-Productions Kevin Kasha made the deal with WME Global’s Alexis Garcia.
“13 was a great pick-up for Anchor Bay Films,” Kasha said. “The film has an amazing cast and it truly keeps you guessing. We’re excited to be working with Babluani in releasing it.”
The original won the 2006 Sundance Grand Jury Prize, and Babluani won best director at the Venice Film Festival later that year. A desperate man steals an envelope promising a mysterious job that can make him a fortune. Assuming a false identity, he discovers he’s enlisted to be a numbered participant in an underworld Russian roulette competition where gamblers place bets on the contestants. The potential payoff is so high he goes through with it despite the long odds of survival.
Last year’s Toronto Film Festival started slow for acquisitions, but finished with a flurry of modest distribution deals that served notice the specialty film business had finally pulled out of its nosedive. This year’s festival hasn’t started and already there are fireworks. Deadline broke news yesterday that Harvey Weinstein would start a VOD business, making the acquisitions market for fringe films more competitive; and last night, I heard that a bidding battle had already broken out for the Steve McQueen-directed Shame, which should be sold by the time it screens Sunday. Fox Searchlight is the favorite, Sony Pictures Classics is in the mix and I’ve heard that The Weinstein Company is hovering. Bidding began right after its Telluride screening, and the mid-six figures thrown around yesterday will probably go higher. That’s huge, considering the movie is an unabashed NC-17, McQueen has final cut, and the sex-obsessed protagonist is unlikable. Oh, yeah, and the sellers want it released this year for Oscar consideration to capitalize on Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan’s Oscar-caliber performances.
Does this mean we’re in for a drunken buying frenzy? Hardly, buyers tell me. They are eager to see the films, but say there’s no title here that’s going to guarantee somebody will overpay. They are also mindful that many of last year’s deals turned out to be box office busts. More deals will be made than …
After The Expendables turned in a surprisingly strong $275 million worldwide gross, many have wondered what they would do for an encore. How’s this? Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis have just closed deals to take “substantial” roles in The Expendables 2, alongside Sylvester Stallone. This has been rumored as possible, and it basically answers the hopes of a lot of fans who weren’t satisfied when action icons Schwarzenegger and Willis turned in cameos in the original, and poked fun at the days when they were the world’s top action stars. Stallone directed the first one but stepped out and the job went to Simon West. Filming will begin in October, and Lionsgate will once again release the Millennium Films-produced actioner. Schwarzenegger and Willis are repped by CAA. Schwarzenegger is already working for Lionsgate in the Jee-Won Kim-directed action film Last Stand. Willis will squeeze in the role before going off to Russia to reprise his John McLane role in Die Hard 5, which just landed John Moore as director at Fox, and then he will make a sequel to Red. Aside from Stallone, original cast members Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crews and Jet Li are expected to return, and there is buzz about Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Do we need to start a petition for Jeff Speakman?
EXCLUSIVE: After a long search, Simon West is the choice to direct The Expendables 2, the sequel to the 2010 surprise hit action film. West, who most recently directed the CBS Films remake of The Mechanic with Jason Statham and Ben Foster, also directed Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The General’s Daughter. Production begins in the summer.
The sequel is expected to have back an original cast that includes Sylvester Stallone, Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crews and Jet Li. Stallone directed the original, which grossed $275 million worldwide, $103 million domestic. The film’s produced by Millennium Films and will be released by Lionsgate. West is repped by CAA.
Sylvester Stallone wants it known that despite reports to the contrary, he will not be directing the sequel to The Expendables. Stallone, who directed and starred in the crowd-pleasing original that grossed around $275 million for Millennium and Lionsgate, is heavily involved in putting together a list of directors to helm the second installment. That film’s being scripted and is expected to have the major action stars back — with Stallone lobbying for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis to return after playing cameos in the first film. The film’s also expected to broaden its coterie of action heroes beyond Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren and Terry Crews, but none of those casting decisions have yet been finalized. Stallone next stars in the drama Headshot, a drama that will be directed by Walter Hill.
UPDATE: Liam Neeson and Luc Besson have come to a meeting of the minds and they have worked out the scheduling snafu that made him iffy for Taken 2. Neeson’s reps at CAA are now closing the deal for Neeson to reprise what has become a signature role. Production is now being eyed for year end or beginning of 2012. Neeson will stick to his plan to take the rest of the year off, after completing the Clash of the Titans sequel he’s shooting in London. He has been working almost nonstop, wrapping The Grey for Joe Carnahan and Battleship for Peter Berg.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE: A fascinating drama has been playing out over the past few weeks on Taken 2, the sequel to the surprise global hit film hatched by Luc Besson that reinvigorated Liam Neeson. I’m told Besson has teamed on a script with Robert Mark Kamen, and that he’s in talks with his Transporter 3 director Olivier Megaton to direct the sequel. But he has been dealing with a huge problem: Neeson has all but withdrawn from reprising his role as Bryan Mills, the retired government operative who in the 2008 original decimated the Paris underworld to free his kidnapped daughter. The reason isn’t money, but rather scheduling: Besson wants to shoot it this year and Neeson wants to take time off. Continuing without Neeson is hard to imagine, but I’ve heard Besson has gone as far …
The Toronto pickup, a noirish thriller starring Mickey Rourke, Bill Murray and Megan Fox and written and directed by Mitch Glazer, begins its platform rollout in New York and Los Angeles. That’s a little less than two months before the rollout of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which Fox fell out of, a move that essentially reduced her opening-weekend screen count from 8000 to 2.
There are two AFM project packages being shopped on the same subject: Richard Kuklinski, the notorious New Jersey mob hit man. Nu Image has Boardwalk Empire‘s Michael Shannon to play Kuklinski and Benicio Del Toro and (maybe) James Franco attached to The Iceman, a film that will be directed by Ariel Vromen that is eyeing a production start next summer. Natural Selection CEO Matty Beckerman comes to AFM with a rival project, on which he said he has just closed a deal for life rights of Kuklinski’s wife, Barbara, and Pat Kane, the cop who brought Kuklinski to justice. The project, based on the Philip Carlo book The Ice Man: Confessions Of A Mafia Contract Killer, is being scripted by American History X‘s David McKenna and has Mickey Rourke attached to play Kuklinski. Beckerman is producing and said his Natural Selection will fully fund a movie that will start production in the spring. No director has yet been set.
EXCLUSIVE: In a 7-figure deal for one of the last star-driven pictures to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Image Entertainment has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Passion Play, the Mitch Glazer-directed drama that stars Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox and Bill Murray. The deal includes a theatrical release component. The picture premiered September 10 at the festival. Rourke plays a down on his luck jazz trumpeter in 50s Los Angeles, targeted for death by a mob boss (Murray). He escapes, goes on the lam and winds up in the orbit of a winged girl (Fox) who’s the main attraction of a Mexican carnival. Daniel Dubiecki, Megan Ellison and Jonah Hirsch produced and Rebecca Wang is exec producer. Glazer made his directorial debut on the film. ICM packaged the film and represented the picture at the festival, as well as Glazer, Rourke and Fox. Second high profile deal for ICM this weekend after it teamed with CAA on a Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions deal for the Will Ferrell-starrer Everything Must Go on Friday night.
Below is some footage from the film:
TORONTO: As buyers ponder Mickey Rourke’s Toronto Film Festival submission Passion Play, the Mick has pacted to play a Mafia contract killer in The Ice Man. How this squares with the likelihood he next stars as Sonny Barger in the Tony Scott-directed Hell’s Angels pic for Fox opposite Shia La Beouf, I’m not sure. Here’s a quick announcement on the deal.
TORONTO, CANADA (September 12, 2010) – Natural Selection CEO Matty Beckerman announced today out of Toronto — where he is attending the Toronto International Film Festival — a deal for the company to fully finance and produce a feature adaptation of the Philip Carlo tome THE ICE MAN: CONFESSIONS OF A MAFIA CONTRACT KILLER and have attached Mickey Rourke to star. David McKenna (who wrote AMERICAN HISTORY X and BLOW) is penning the screenplay based on the eponymous book written by Carlo. Beckerman will produce. Graham Taylor at WME Global will handle North American sales on this title.
THE ICE MAN: CONFESSIONS OF A MAFIA CONTRACT KILLER is the true story of Richard “The Ice Man” Kuklinski who for over 40 years led a completely secretive double life as both a notorious professional assassin and a doting husband and father in suburban New Jersey.
“Richard Kuklinski’s life and Philip Carlo’s true account, three years in the making, is fascinating and unlike any mafia story that’s been brought to the big screen,” says Beckerman. “This is a role Mickey Rourke was born