EXCLUSIVE: As Deadline told you, Summit Entertainment post-Twilight Saga is continuing to bet heavily on books for its future franchises. Most are conducive to young casts. Now I can report that another young actress to watch is making the transition from TV to movies: CW’s The Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev has been cast as Candace in the film based on Stephen Chbosky’s novel The Perks of Being A Wallflower, which the author is adapting for Harry Potter‘s Emma Watson and Logan Lerman as well as Paul Rudd. This was a much sought-after lead role. The 22-year-old Bulgarian-Canadian actress played Mia Jones, the single teenage mother, on Degrassi: The Next Generation, from the show’s 6th to 9th season. She currently plays Elena Gilbert and Katherine Pierce on The Vampire Diaries and won the ”Young Hollywood Making Their Mark” category at the 12th Annual Young Hollywood Awards. (Disclosure: these awards are owned by my parent company PMC).
One day after making a deal to co-finance the next two James Bond films and other feature films over the next five years, MGM chiefs Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum solidified another piece of the reawakening studio’s puzzle by renewing its DVD deal with Fox through 2016. Here’s the official announcement:
LOS ANGELES, CA April 14, 2011 – MGM announced today that the company has renewed its worldwide Blu-ray Disc and DVD distribution pact with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment through 2016. As part of the new agreement, Fox will now oversee electronic-sell-through for MGM titles and will continue to handle MGM’s vast and extensive movie and television library, as well as distribute several upcoming new release productions in the home entertainment market, including the next JAMES BOND film, set for global theatrical release on November 9, 2012.”
“Twentieth Century Fox is a valued partner that has taken great care of the MGM library for many years with the highest degree of integrity,” said Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, Co-Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers of MGM. “They are a tremendous asset to the studio as we look towards the future.”
Relativity Media bought U.S. distribution rights to House at the End of the Street, the Mark Tonderai-directed drama that stars Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue and Max Theriot. The film’s about a mother and daughter who move into a new community and find themselves next door to a house in which a psychotic young girl murdered her parents. Locals insist the girl vanished, but when the newcomer befriends the surviving son, there’s trouble. FilmNation is handling distribution outside the U.S.
Lionsgate picked up U.S. distribution rights to the Barry Levinson-directed eco-horror film The Bay from Alliance Films. Michael Wallach wrote the script, and among the producers is the Paranormal Activity team. The pic chronicles a biological disaster unleashed from the waters in Chesapeake Bay. It’s an isopod parasite that carries an untreatable disease that jumps from fish to human hosts. ICM and CAA packaged the film.
Bridget Jones’s Diary helmer Sharon Maguire has signed on with Scott Free to direct her scripted adaptation of Fly Me To The Moon, based on the Alyson Noel novel. The book takes a Bridget Jones-like approach to the misadventures of a young flight attendant looking for sex, love and hopefully the chance to find herself, in the bustling world of international travel. Giannina Facio is producing for Scott Free, and Ridley and Tony Scott are exec producing.
Bradley Cooper is in early negotiations to play the lead role in Relativity Media and Edward R. Pressman’s reinvention of The Crow, the 1994 adaptation of the James O’Barr comic book series that Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) has been tapped to direct. Cooper would play the hero portrayed in the original film by Brandon Lee. The project is expected to begin production in the fall. Bradley next appears in Warner Bros’ The Hangover Part II, which opens May 26.
Paramount said today that it has optioned Ray Bradbury’s seminal sc-fi short story collection The Martian Chronicles, which loosely revolves around humans colonizing the Red Planet and their conflict with the martians they encounter there. The studio is seeking a writer for the project, which at one point had been in development at Universal.
The X-Men: First Class star is in final negotiations to star in Welcome to the Punch, a thriller set in London due to start filming in July. Eran Creevy is the writer-director, and the producers are Rory Aitken, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones and Ben Pugh of Between the Eyes in London. Creevy has described Welcome to the Punch as being “an epic crime thriller in the mould of Heat or Internal Affairs.” Creevy got a lot of attention over here for his 2008 micro-budget debut Shifty, which he shot for $150,000 and was nominated for a BAFTA. He has also shot music videos for artists including Take That and ad spots for Nike. McAvoy is repped by Ruth Young at United Agents in London and by UTA in the U.S.
Maggie, the John Scott 3-penned spec script about the six-week metamorphosis of a 16-year-old teenage girl into a zombie, is back on the market. The spec was close to a deal with Timur Bekmambetov (I’d heard it closed), but I’m told the exclusive negotiation has ended without a deal in place. Bekmambetov planned to produce a film that comes with vfx wiz Henry Hobson set to direct. There are three parties now circling a project, which has a $5 million budget. Now, this isn’t your standard flesh-eater zombie film. Much of it is the bond between the young girl and her distraught father as she contracts the plague-like virus that is sweeping the world, and it slowly takes hold of her.
UPDATE: Relativity Media has confirmed the deal, and they’ve retitled the script Out of the Furnace.
EXCLUSIVE: Relativity Media is making a deal with Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper to rewrite and direct The Low Dweller, one of the hottest spec scripts of 2008 that saw Relativity Media beat out four studios to pay $650,000 against $1.1 million to scribe Brad Ingelsby, who was at the time living with his parents in Pennsylvania and working for his dad’s insurance business. That deal came with an attachment from Leonardo DiCaprio to star and Ridley Scott to direct. DiCaprio is no longer starring but still producing with his Appian Way partner Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Scott with Tony Scott and Michael Costigan through Scott Free, and Energy Entertainment’s Brooklyn Weaver.
The Low Dweller is a dark drama set in 1986 Indiana. The protagonist is Slim, a man released after serving years in prison for murder who wants only to follow through on his promise to marry his long-suffering girlfriend. But when he discovers his brother has been murdered after getting involved in a gambling racket, his goals change and he avenges the murder.
The script has a No Country for Old Men spare vibe to it, and it will be interesting to see how Cooper handles the material.
The Cameron-Pace Group, announced today at the start of the National Association of Broadcasters confab in Las Vegas, “seeks to accelerate worldwide growth of 3D across all entertainment platforms including features, episodic and live television, sports, advertising and consumer products.” The company, run by co-chairman James Cameron and longtime collaborator Vince Pace, will offer next-generation camera systems, services and creative tools to the entire entertainment industry, not just film. “Our goal is to banish all the perceived and actual barriers to entry that are currently holding back producers, studios and networks from embracing their 3D future,” Cameron said. “We are dedicated to building a global brand that is synonymous with high-quality 3D and spans multiple channels, from features to episodic television, and changes the boundaries of what is understood to be 3D material.”
Cameron and Pace developed under Pace’s company PACE the Fusion 3D system, which was used for the 3D in such films as Avatar, Tron: Legacy and U2: 3D. PACE has begun the formal rebranding process, and its operation under the Cameron-Pace Group banner is effective immediately. CPG will be headquartered in Burbank, Calif., the current home to PACE.
CPG already is working on film projects that include Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, The Three Musketeers,The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Life of Pi and 47 Ronin.
After scripting such films as David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises and Stephen Frears’ Dirty Pretty Things, Steven Knight is set to make his directorial debut on his script Hummingbird. The film is set at Shine Pictures, the movie arm of Liz Murdoch’s Shine Group. Hummingbird follows a damaged ex-Special Forces soldier who finds himself trapped in the criminal underworld and assumes another man’s identity to exact revenge. 20th Century Fox will release this New Regency-financed thriller worldwide. Casting is under way on the project, which is expected to start shooting this fall. Paul Webster, who recently stepped down as Shine’s head of film, will co-produce alongside Shine, New Regency and Tracey Seaward (The Queen). Knight, Webster and Seaward worked together before on Eastern Promises. Ollie Madden from Warner Bros Entertainment UK will replace Webster as Shine’s head of film in May. Shine’s current slate includes The Gray Man, an adaptation of Mark Greaney’s thriller; Eastern Promises 2; and an adaptation of Swedish bestselling thriller 3 Seconds, with writer Matt Cook attached.
International company Entertainment One, known primarily for its TV production and distribution business, has acquired Australian independent feature film distributor Hopscotch. Hopscotch released 15 titles theatrically in 2010 and has a library of 300-plus film and television titles. Recent releases include The Wrestler, The Kids Are All Right, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and the upcoming Source Code. In the U.S, eOne is behind such shows as Hung, Haven, Rookie Blue, Skins and the upcoming Hell on Wheels.
Tobey Maguire has been cast in Ang Lee’s novel adaptation Life of Pi, the Fox movie that is shooting in India ahead of a December 2012 bow. Yann Martel’s bestseller centers on an Indian boy who escapes a shipwreck but is stranded on a life raft with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a tiger. Maguire will play a writer who interviews the boy as an adult. Maguire, who will play Nick Carraway in Baz Luhrmann’s 3D The Great Gatsby for Warner Bros, also appeared in the Lee-directed movies The Ice Storm and Ride With The Devil.
EXCLUSIVE: Tim Miller, who has done strong visual effects work through his VFX house Blur Films, was just set by 20th Century Fox to make his feature directing debut on X-Men Origins: Deadpool, the X-Men spinoff film expected to star Ryan Reynolds. Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are writing the script and Lauren Shuler Donner is producing.
In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Reynolds made his first appearance as Deadpool, also known as Wade Wilson, a smart-mouthed mercenary with terminal cancer who undergoes military experiments in an attempt to replicate Wolverine’s mutant healing factor. He comes away with the ability to heal quickly, but for the price of being indestructible he is rendered severely scarred. His acerbic attitude remains, though, earning him the nickname “The Merc with a Mouth.” Reynolds will next be seen starring as another superhero, Green Lantern, for Warner Bros.
Fox has the Matthew Vaughn-directed X-Men Origins: First Class coming out June 3. The Wolverine was expected to be the next one in production, but the studio and Hugh Jackman are looking for a new director after Darren Aronofsky fell out. The film could begin shooting in the fall, but that could take longer to get under way.
As for Miller, he created and owns Blur Studio, where he has directed numerous cutting-edge video game trailers. Blur is currently doing all the pre-vis for Ron Howard on The Dark Tower. Miller and Blur were also very involved in the …
EXCLUSIVE: Welcome To The Rileys helmer Jake Scott has been set to direct an untitled film about Jeff Buckley, the rising star musician who died tragically at age 30 in 1997. Scott will direct a script by Ryan Jaffe (The Rocker). Michelle Sy and Orian Williams are producing, and Buckley’s mother Mary Guibert will be exec producer.
Buckley, son of the famed but troubled folk musician Tim Buckley, became an influence on musicians from Kurt Cobain to Coldplay. He shunned the spotlight, though, preferring to play small clubs and who for a long time played as a session guitarist to make a living. He recorded one hit album, Grace, and was on his way to doing another when he jumped into Tennessee’s Wolf River, fully clothed, for a spontaneous swim. He got caught in the wake of a passing boat and drowned.
Despite the objections of 111 parties including plenty of creditors, U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge Burton Lifland approved Dish Network’s $320 million offer for the beleaguered vid chain. According to Bloomberg.com, the deal assumes $11.5 million in debt to studios.
Mark Gordon has renewed his deal with ABC Studios, where he has been for 10 years. Additionally, he has inked a first-look pact with Walt Disney Studios. The four-year Disney deal covers overhead for Gordon’s banner, Mark Gordon Company, on the film and TV side. “I’m so incredibly fortunate to have such a long and successful relationship with ABC Studios,” said Gordon. “I’m especially pleased we were able to expand our partnership into film with a first-look deal with Walt Disney Studios.” Despite Gordon’s long tenure at ABC Studios, I hear he also fielded offers from other studios, and it came down to the wire between ABC Studios and Sony Pictures TV.
Gordon currently has five series on the air for ABC Studios: ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, CBS’ Criminal Minds and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, as well as Lifetime’s Army Wives. Gordon is currently producing ABC/ABC Studios’ drama pilot Identity, starring Angela Bassett. “Mark is a tremendous talent with a great track record,” said Paul Lee, president of ABC Entertainment Group.
Gordon’s most recent film projects include the just-released Duncan Jones sci-fi thriller Source Code, Roland Emmerich’s 2012, and The Messenger. “Mark is a high-quality producer, and we are very happy to have him as a partner at The Walt Disney Studios,” said Sean Bailey, president, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production. Gordon’s next film release …
UPDATE: While Sly Stallone is eager to work with Walter Hill, Headshot backer IM Global claims Hill is one of several helmers being discussed for the job.
EXCLUSIVE: Sylvester Stallone has met with Walter Hill about directing Headshot, a job that became available after Wayne Kramer exited the film this week. Word was that Kramer exited because he didn’t see eye to eye creatively with Stallone, who’ll star. Said Stallone: “Initially, Mr. Kramer was hired to direct a dark comedy; however his vision was much darker and exceptionally more violent than how the project was originally conceived. It was decided that it would be better for everyone to move on and consequently Mr. Kramer was dismissed by producers earlier this week. There were no volatile clashes, it was simply a professional parting of the ways.”
As for the prospect of working with the 48 Hours and Warriors director Hill, Stallone said he has had serious meetings with the helmer: “I completely respect Walter’s incredible body of work and hopefully this legendary director will become attached to the project.” The film is slated to go into production before summer.