EXCLUSIVE: Millennium Films has acquired Criminal, a spec script by Douglas Cook & David Weisberg, who are best known for The Rock. This one is an action movie about the right man in the wrong body. In a last-ditch effort to stop a diabolical plot, a dead CIA operative’s memories, secrets and skills are implanted into an unpredictable and dangerous prison inmate in hopes that he will complete the operative’s mission. JC Spink, Chris Bender and Mark Gill are producing. Avi Lerner, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson, John Thompson, Christa Campbell, Lati Grobman, Christine Crow and Jake Weiner are executive producers. Millennium is giving this one the fast-track treatment it gave Olympus Has Fallen, which went from script acquisition to screen in 13 months. That $70 million budget film has crossed the $160 million global gross mark with enough territories ahead to feel optimistic it will cross $200 million on the Antoine Fuqua-directed Gerard Butler-starrer. Adam Kanter of Resolution and JC Spink represented the writers. Allison Binder represented BenderSpink.
BREAKING: The Brad Anderson-directed thriller Eliza Graves is based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe and begins production next week. If it makes it, the Millennium Films project will mark the end of a long road for screenwriter Joseph Gangemi, who penned the script adapting “The System Of Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether” 15 years ago, with three studios taking a crack at it before Millennium acquired U.S. rights at the last American Film Market. Now David Thewlis and Brendan Gleeson have joined a cast that already includes Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine in a thriller about a young doctor who comes to apprentice at a mental institution and meets a beautiful patient that he falls in love with amidst a set of difficult circumstances, which may be more complicated than they seem. Bruce Davey, Mel Gibson, Mark Amin and Cami Winikoff are producing. Executive producers are David Higgins, Christa Campbell, Lati Grobman and Mark Gill.
The busy James Franco — actor, writer, director, producer and languid one-time Oscar host — is hitting the Croisette with As I Lay Dying, an adaptation of William Faulkner’s Depression-era novel about a Mississippi family that sets out to fulfill their matriarch’s final wish. Franco directed, co-scripted (with Matt Rager) and stars in the film, along with Tim Blake Nelson, Danny McBride and Logan Marshall-Green. Millennium Films produced As I Lay Dying, which unspools in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes. Watch the trailer below:
EXCLUSIVE: James Franco, whose film As I Lay Dying screens in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes next month, has locked in his next directorial outing. He’ll helm and play a starring role in Garden of Last Days, an adaptation of the bestselling book by House Of Sand And Fog author Andre Dubus III. Shooting will begin July 8 in New York. Millennium Films is financing.
The film is being produced by Gerard Butler, Alan Siegel, Danielle Robinson and Hanna Weg. Weg, who scripted the Michael Apted-directed Enigma, wrote the script. Longtime Franco collaborators Vince Jolivette and Miles Levy will also produce. Pic is a contemporary thriller set in the seamy underside of American life about three interwoven and ultimately explosive stories: A stripper out of options who brings her 3-year-old daughter to work; an angry, lonely man who gets thrown out of the club; and a foreigner with an endless supply of cash on the brink of committing a terrifying act.
BREAKING: Australian helmer Patrick Hughes has been set to direct The Expendables 3, the latest installment in the he-man franchises presided over by Sylvester Stallone. Stallone gave his blessing to Hughes, a very successful commercials director who three years ago helmed Red Hill. Hughes met with Stallone and the Millennium Films brass last weekend, and he will start work on Expendables 3 later this week. Production begins mid-August. The Expendables 2 grossed $300 million worldwide and the pair grossed $575 million, so it is the biggest franchise play for Millennium. WME, Brillstein and Gang Tyre rep Hughes.
BREAKING: Millennium Films is starting production at the end of May in London on Good People, which will star James Franco, Kate Hudson and Omar Sy and be directed by Henrik Genz, who ismaking his English-language debut. The contemporary thriller centers on an American couple living in London who fall into severe debt renovating her family’s home. When the tenant in their downstairs apartment passes away and leaves 200,000 pounds in cash, they take it, and that’s when very bad things start happening to good people. Kelly Masterson, Paul Grellong and Christina Hodson wrote the script based on Marcus Sakey’s novel.
EXCLUSIVE: Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley and Jim Sturgess have joined Kate Beckinsale in Eliza Graves, the Brad Anderson-directed film that Avi Lerner’s Millennium Films has green lit to start shooting June 24. Based on an Edgar Allan Poe short story, the film is a turn of the century thriller about a young doctor who comes to apprentice at a remote mental institution. He meets a beautiful patient, with whom he falls in love under circumstances which may be much more complicated than they seem.
UPDATE: The deal is official, with Radius-TWC planning a fall 2013 release date. The company’s release is after the original story.
EXCLUSIVE: After a late-night Sundance courtship, Radius-TWC is closing a deal to acquire Lovelace in a deal that will climax in the range of $3 million, I hear. Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, the film stars Amanda Seyfried as Linda Lovelace, who headlined the 1972 pornographic film hit Deep Throat, which captured the zeitgeist. But she was manipulated and bullied into participating in a film which became a financial juggernaut by her coercive boyfriend Chuck Traynor, who is played by Peter Sarsgaard. Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, James Franco and Sharon Stone also star.
The picture, which premiered Tuesday night at the Eccles Theatre, had several buyers massing, but Radius-TWC heads Tom Quinn and Jason Janego moved aggressively to make a deal with Millennium Films heads Avi Lerner and Mark Gill. Millennium financed a film whose edgy, racy subject matter and star casting should hit a strong mark as a multi-platform title. This goes down as the third Sundance deal for the multi-platform division of The Weinstein Company, which got underway last year as it landed Bachelorette and made that edgy comedy a big VOD hit. Radius-TWC got this fest off to a start when it acquired the acclaimed docu on backup singers Twenty Feet From Stardom, and then bought the drama Concussion.
EXCLUSIVE: What could Avi have been thinking? Last night, after a long day and fueled by quotes from Millennium Films chief Avi Lerner, I broke a story that another Texas Chainsaw Massacre film would move forward later this year in Louisiana. I learned today from the rights holders, producer Carl Mazzocone and executive producer Mark Burg, that the green light wasn’t Avi’s to give and they were surprised because no progress on this sequel has yet been made.
After the seventh film in the splatter series surprised everyone by beating films like The Hobbit, Django Unchained and Les Miserables to win the weekend box office with a $21.7 million gross, you know a sequel is inevitable. But according to Mazzocone, its timing is his to dictate, and he and Burg say nothing will happen until they work out the creative beats with domestic distributor Lionsgate.
“The rights are controlled by Carl and Main Line Pictures, no matter what Millennium says,” Burg told me. “Millennium simply sold the foreign rights and they will not tell us when a sequel is ready to be made. The script was developed by Carl, myself and writer/director John Luessenhop. Millennium and about ten producers came aboard only when we needed their check. Maybe they’re looking for something to sell at Berlin, but they have no right to announce this sequel and if we make another it has to be as good or better than …
EXCLUSIVE: After Leatherface cut The Hobbit down to size last weekend to become the country’s top-grossing film, he’s headed back to the slaughterhouse for another helping of Texas Chainsaw Massacre mayhem. Millennium Films is moving ahead with Texas Chainsaw 4, with production to begin later this year in Louisiana.
The next installment will be spearheaded by producer Carl Mazzocone, exec producers Mark Burg, Avi Lerner, Tobe Hooper, Trevor Short, John Thompson, Danny Dimbort, Lati Grobman and Christa Campbell.
A stuntman injured during an explosion scene that left one man dead on The Expendables 2 today filed suit for damages against Millennium Films and others involved in the action movie’s production. Nuo Sun’s suit (read it here) says he was in a rubber boat on October 27, 2011 on Bulgaria’s Ognyanovo Reservoir during second unit filming on the sequel when “explosives and other similar ultra-hazardous activities” caused an unexpected explosion. “As a direct and proximate result of defendants’ negligence, carelessness and unlawful conduct, plaintiff was hurt and injured in plaintiffs health, strength and activity, sustaining severe shock and injury to and upon plaintiffs nervous system, neck, head, body, arms and legs, all of which injuries may be permanent and all of which injuries have caused and continue to cause plaintiff great mental, physical and nervous pain and suffering, for which plaintiff seeks general damages,” says the 12-page filing. This is not the first legal action to come from that stunt.
Millennium Films has acquired to rights to Eliza Graves, a thrilller to be directed by Brad Anderson (The Machinist). The movie is about a new physician who arrives to apprentice at a mental institution where he falls in love with a patient under circumstances that are more complicated than they seem. Joseph Gangemi’s screenplay is based on the Edgar Allan Poe short story “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether.” Bruce Davey and Mel Gibson are producing Eliza Graves for Icon Productions. Also producing for Sobini Pictures are Mark Amin and Cami Winikoff, and Oren Peli. Exec producers are David Higgins, Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman. Millennium plans to start production in spring 2013 and will begin making offers to principal cast next week.
FilmDistrict has acquired domestic distribution rights to the White House action thriller Olympus Has Fallen. The company will release the Millennium Films-produced movie April 5, 2013, in the U.S. This puts the picture ahead of Sony Pictures‘ similarly themed White House Down; that Roland Emmerich-directed movie is scheduled to come out June 28, 2013. In Olympus Has Fallen, Gerard Butler plays a Secret Service agent who tries to stop a takeover of the White House. Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett and Aaron Eckhart as the president also star. Antoine Fuqua is directing. Mark Gill, Alan Siegel and Butler are producing. Millennium’s Avi Lerner and Trevor Short are executive producing along with Danny Dimbort, Boaz Davidson, John Thompson and Heidi Jo Markel.
It took him 20 years, but Millennium Films’ Avi Lerner has notched his first film to pass the $300 million worldwide gross mark. The Expendables 2 just crossed that threshold. The movie, which the company said has grossed over $53 million in China, has yet to open in Japan so that number will grow higher.
Lerner, with partners Trevor Short and Danny Dimbort, formed the sales company Nu Image in 1992, and then Millennium Films in 1996. They will undoubtedly put together another Expendables installment (will Jeff Speakman finally get a call?), and they are exploring the feminine side of the action game: Millennium just hired Legally Blonde scribes Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith to write ExpendaBelles, Lerner brought in Mark Gill to raise the level of productions–let’s face it, there is some schlock in that library–and it certainly helps the cause when you put up that kind of gross on a $100 million budget.
EXCLUSIVE: After grossing $563 million worldwide on The Expendables and its recently released sequel, Millennium Films has set Legally Blonde scribes Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith to write ExpendaBelles, the title of the spinoff action film that will show the feminine side of the mercenary business. The intention is to hatch a franchise that will be driven by actresses who’ve logged time in action films over the years, much the same way that The Expendables team is comprised of action film staples. Millennium will finance with Avi Lerner and Mark Gill producing, along with Heidi Jo Markel of Eclectic Pictures and Julie Kroll of Summertime Entertainment and Boaz Davidson. Trevor Short will be executive producer.
The action game hasn’t been as steady for actresses as it has been for their male counterparts, but certainly Angelina Jolie thrives and Underworld‘s Kate Beckinsale, Resident Evil‘s Milla Jovovich, Haywire‘s Gina Carano, and Kill Bill‘s Uma Thurman have done well in the butt-kicking action realm. And there is also Alien‘s Sigourney Weaver, Long Kiss Goodnight‘s Geena Davis, Elektra‘s Jennifer Garner, Crouching Tiger‘s Michelle Yeoh, Red Sonja‘s Brigitte Nielsen, and action genre matriarch Pam Grier. Who am I missing?
BREAKING: Sony Pictures is moving its Roland Emmerich-directed White House Down from November 1, 2013 to June 28, 2013. Sony has put its film right in the heat of the summer, and clearly the studio is trying to get ahead of Olympus Has Fallen, the Antoine Fuqua-directed thriller that Millennium Films has already in production. That film doesn’t have a date yet. Both films have been described as Die Hard in the White House. White House Down stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, while Olympus Has Fallen stars Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart. The last time two distributors went at it with similarly themed projects that switched release dates was Universal’s Snow White And The Huntsman and Relativity’s Mirror Mirror. Nobody wants to be second, but in that case, Huntsman came later and fared better at the box office.
The parents of a stuntman killed last year in an explosion on a 2nd unit location for The Expendables 2 in Bulgaria have filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against NuImage, Millennium Films and individuals associated with the production. The lawsuit filed today alleges negligence in the death of Kun Liu, son of plaintiffs Zong Yu Liu and Yan Mei Bai. Liu was killed in the blast at Lake Ognyanovo about 15 miles outside Sofia. Another stuntman, Nuo Sun, was seriously injured in the accident. The lawsuit says the explosion occurred October 27, 2011 on or near a “rubber boat” during filming of a stunt for the movie. Liu’s parents are seeking general and economic damages to be determined in a jury trial plus funeral and burial expenses and court costs.
Less than two months before The Expendables 2 comes out, Sylvester Stallone today scored an action hero legal victory. Judge Jed Rakoff rejected Marcus Webb’s claims that The Expendables was his original idea and Sly stole it. Webb sued Stallone, the retro action flick’s co-author David Callaham, Millennium Films, Nu Image Films and Lionsgate in late October 2011. In his initial suit, Webb said he circulated a script several years ago among studios about “elite highly trained mercenaries” recruited to defeat a dictator. Webb alleged that the screenplay for The Expendables is “strikingly similar and in some places identical” to his The Cordoba Caper. Webb claimed that Stallone, who directed, co-wrote and starred in The Expendables, and his team must have seen his script because they were so alike. The Rocky star’s lawyers said that was unlikely especially being that one was an action movie and Webb’s was more of a caper flick. The lawyers also pointed out that Callaham had already written several drafts of what was to become 2010’s The Expendables before Webb’s script was even out there. The judge, who said a more formal order would be forthcoming, obviously agreed. The Expendables 2 comes out on August 17, 2012.
Angela Bassett will play Secret Service director Lynne Jacobs in Olympus Has Fallen. She joins Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart in the White House action drama. Olympus Has Fallen sees the president (Eckhart) and key members of his administration taken hostage, and a Secret Service agent (Butler) tries to stop the plot. Antoine Fuqua is directing. Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt wrote the script. Mark Gill, Alan Siegel and Butler are producing the Millennium Films project. Avi Lerner and Trevor Short are executive producing. The film begins shooting early next month. Bassett is repped by Gersh and Lighthouse Entertainment.