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Sony Buys Spec ‘Leviathan’ For Neal Moritz

By | Monday June 16, 2014 @ 3:18pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Sony Buys Spec ‘Leviathan’ For Neal MoritzEXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has acquired Leviathan, an original sci-fi spec script by Cole Haddon. 22 Jump Street‘s Neal Moritz will produce through his Original Films banner, and Toby Ascher will be executive producer. Production president Michael De Luca steered the deal. They are keeping the logline under wraps. At Sony, Haddon wrote Dodge And Twist and Savage Planet.


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He also is the creator of the NBC series Dracula and creator of Sony/BBC America’s Nottingham. Haddon is repped by WME, Anonymous Content and Felker, Toczek, Gellman & Suddleson.

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Climb Toward ‘Cliffhanger’ Reboot Moving Forward; Joe Gazzam Set To Write

Mike Fleming

cliffEXCLUSIVE: Producer Neal Moritz and StudioCanal are ready to move forward with Cliffhanger, a re-imagining of the 1993 Renny Harlin-directed mountain climbing film that starred Sylvester Stallone. They’ve set Joe Gazzam to write the screenplay after he was among a group of screenwriters who pitched their take on a movie that still holds up as a guilty pleasure. The original was made by Carolco before that company crashed, and TriStar distributed it. StudioCanal ended up with the rights. There is no domestic distributor in place, but since Moritz’s Original Pictures is Sony-based, that studio should get a first crack at the project. Sony already has a mountain climbing project in Everest, the Doug Liman-directed film that has Tom Hardy attached to play Sir Edward Mallory, the British mountaineer who tried to be first to summit the world’s highest mountain. Cross Creek, Walden and Universal financed another film called Everest, with Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Robin Wright, Jason Clarke and John Hawkes starring in the Baltasar Kormakur-directed film about a disastrous attempt to summit the mountain in 1996 when the climbers were hit by a blizzard.

gazzamThe original Cliffhanger revolved around a traumatized mountain climber forced back into an expedition after a plane crash leaves a lot of stolen cash and bad guys strewn on the Rocky Mountains. Moritz and Ori Marmur will produce for Original, and StudioCanal’s Ronald … Read More »

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Neal Moritz’s Original Film Inks Overall Deal With CBS TV Studios

By | Wednesday June 12, 2013 @ 12:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Neal H. Moritz has signed an overall deal with CBS Television Studios for his Original Film banner. Under the pact, Moritz and Vivian Cannon will develop and executive produce one-hour and half-hour series projects. In TV, Original was previously based at Sony, where Moritz also has a long-standing relationship on the feature side. Through Sony TV, Moritz and Cannon most recently executive produced Showtime’s The Big C and NBC’s Save Me. Moritz previously executive produced the Fox/20th drama Prison Break. In features Moritz, producer of the hit Fast And Furious franchise, has the upcoming R.I.P.D. starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. He is repped by UTA for television and attorney Howard Abramson.

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Sony, ‘Fast 6′ Producer Neal Moritz Remake French Crime Pic ‘A Prophet’

By | Wednesday June 5, 2013 @ 11:27am PDT
Mike Fleming

Sony Pictures and producer Neil Moritz have optioned remake rights to A Prophet, the French film released in the US in 2010. Moritz and Toby Jaffe are producing through the Original Film banner. The Jacques Audiard-directed French film a young man’s rise to the top of a crime syndicate after he’s mentored by the boss. Pic was a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee in 2010 and won Grand Prize at Cannes and nine César Awards in France.

Moritz called the film “an epic crime saga with compelling characters and original storytelling. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to make an English-language version of the film and am grateful to have the trust of Jacques Audiard and his producers, as well as the writers Thomas Bidegain, Nicolas Peufaillit, and Abdel Raouf Dafri.”

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UTA Signs Neal Moritz For Television

By | Friday April 20, 2012 @ 5:50pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Neal Moritz’s Original Film has signed with UTA for television. The company, which has no film representation, was at CAA. Moritz, one of the most prolific feature producers on the Sony lot, has been based at Sony Pictures TV for television. Original Film has a series on the air, Showtime’s dark comedy The Big C, and a comedy pilot in contention at NBC, the Anne Heche starrer Save Me. Original Film previously co-produced with 20th Century Fox TV Fox’s Prison Break.

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Sony Pictures Taps Valiant Comics Character ‘Bloodshot’ For Live Action Feature

By | Thursday March 1, 2012 @ 9:08am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has closed a deal to acquire Bloodshot, the Valiant Comics series. The deal came out of a spec script written by Jeff Wadlow, who is being paid  $450,000 against $1 million, I hear. Neal Moritz will produce through his Original Film Banner along with Jason Kothari and Dinesh Shamdasani for Valiant Entertainment.

Bloodshot originated in Valiant Comics form in 1992 and appeared in over 70 issues, becoming the cornerstone of the Valiant Universe. The protagonist is Angelo Mortalli, a ruthless killer for the mob who is set up by the family and framed for a murder. He instead goes into Witness Protection, but is betrayed by an FBI agent guarding him, kidnapped and forcibly subjected to an experimental program in which his body is injected with microscopic computers called nanites. They erase his brain and rebuild it and his body to be a weapon with superhuman strength and healing powers. Bloodshot escapes his makers, and though he isn’t his old self, he tries to figure out who he was. Things get bad for everybody who betrayed him. The project had been rumored as a possible directing vehicle for Matthew Vaughn, but he isn’t part of this equation.

The WME-repped Wadlow got this through his own entrepreneurial spunk. He loved the comic, and made an agreement with Valiant and Original Film to write it on spec. They showed it to Sony, where Moritz has his deal. The studio bought it.

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Chernin Buys ‘Foreign Exchange’ Pitch; Shawn Harwell Writing, Jeff Tomsic To Direct

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Chernin Entertainment has acquired Untitled Foreign Exchange, a comedy pitch that Shawn Harwell will write and Jeff Tomsic will direct.  Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark and Jenno Topping will produce for Chernin Entertainment, which won the pitch with a preemptive offer made from the company’s discretionary fund. Tomsic gets the directing job after helming a number of shorts, including I’m Having A Difficult Time Killing My Parents, which debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. He’s also directed shows for MTV and VH1 and campaigns for Dr. Pepper, Hasbro and other brands. Harwell cowrote Dog Fight, the Warner Bros comedy that Jay Roach is directing with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. He also scripted Hench with Danny McBride for Warner Bros and Neal Moritz, and was a staff writer in McBride’s HBO Series Eastbound & Down. Both are repped by CAA and Tomsic is managed by Generate.

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AFM: IM Global Selling ‘Dead Man Down’ With Colin Farrell And ‘Dragon Tattoo’s Niels Arden Oplev And Noomi Rapace

By | Tuesday November 1, 2011 @ 12:01pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Los Angeles, October 28: Leading independent financing, production and sales company IM Global will fully finance DEAD MAN DOWN, to be produced by Neal H. Moritz’s Original Film and screenwriter J.H. Wyman of Frequency Films, it was announced today by IM Global founder and CEO Stuart Ford and Moritz.

Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) will direct the $30 million action thriller, which stars Colin Farrell (Total Recall, Horrible Bosses, Miami Vice, S.W.A.T.) and Noomi Rapace (Prometheus, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows).

Moritz (The Fast and the Furious franchise, I Am Legend, XXX) will produce alongside screenwriter J.H. Wyman (Fringe, The Mexican). Original’s Ori Marmur will executive produce with Reid Shane of Frequency.

Following the cinematic phenomenon The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, director Oplev and leading lady Rapace reunite for another thrilling tale of vengeance, with Colin Farrell joining the prestigious team as Victor, right hand man to an underground crime lord in New York City who is seduced and blackmailed by Beatrice (Rapace), a crime victim seeking retribution. Their intense chemistry leads them spiraling into payback delivered in violent catharsis.

DEAD MAN DOWN, a powerful action thriller and portrait of two people caught in the crosshairs of revenge, is scheduled to start shooting in early 2012.

Read More »

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Fox Acquires Action Pitch ‘Riders On The Storm’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox had acquired Riders On The Storm, a pitch for an action film that will be written by Sean O’Keefe. The story follows a sophisticated heist crew that pulls off high-end robberies during severe weather events. The deal was worth mid-six figures. Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox are producing with Richard Leibowitz of Union Entertainment. The project originated as a video game concept hatched by Richard Wickliffe.

Union Entertainment was going to turn it into a vidgame, but instead it morphed into the feature pitch that had several studios interested when ICM pitched it. O’Keefe split up with writing partner Will Staples, but they are working together on a rewrite of the Lorenzo Carcaterra novel Apaches for Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney. They also wrote World’s Most Wanted for Neal Moritz and Universal and an Alaskan adventure movie for Walden Media and producer Mark Johnson. O’Keefe is managed by Brian Lutz.

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It’s Official: Comedy ‘Save Me’ Gets Cast-Contingent Pilot Order At NBC

By | Tuesday September 27, 2011 @ 6:41pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

NBC Nears Cast-Contingent Pilot Order To John Scott Shepherd/Neal Moritz Comedy
NBC has closed the deal for a cast-contingent, off-cycle pilot order to comedy Save Me. The single-camera project hails from writer John Scott Shepherd, Sony Pictures TV and Neal Moritz’s studio-based Original Films. Save Me centers on a woman who, after an accident, starts to believe that she is channeling God. The project was originally developed by NBC’s head of comedy Tal Rabinowitz while she was SVP comedy at Sony TV. Save Me was initially set up at Showtime just as current NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt was leaving the pay cable network last summer. Shepherd is executive producing with Original Films’ Moritz and Vivian Cannon as well as Scott Winant (Californication). Save Me reunites many key auspices who worked together on the Showtime comedy series The Big C, including Greenblatt, who developed and greenlighted the series at Showtime; Rabinowtz, who developed it at Sony TV; as well as Sony and Original Film, which are producing the dark comedy starring Laura Linney.

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NBC Nears Cast-Contingent Pilot Order To John Scott Shepherd/Neal Moritz Comedy

By | Friday September 23, 2011 @ 3:53pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that NBC is finalizing a deal for an off-cycle pilot order to single-camera comedy Save Me. The order to the project, from writer John Scott Shepherd, Sony Pictures TV and Neal Morirz’s studio-based Original Films banner, is cast-contingent. Save Me centers on a woman who, after an accident, starts to believe that she is channeling God. The project was originally developed at Showtime. Shepherd is executive producing with Original Films’ Moritz and Vivian Cannon as well as Scott Winant (Californication). Shepherd, whose credits include the features Joe Somebody and Life or Something Like It and the ABC series The Days, wrote the 2009 ABC drama pilot See Kate Run. This is the second project to get a pilot order by NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt after being originally developed at Showtime. The first was Smash, which Greenblatt first shepherded at the pay cable network during his stint there. At NBC, the musical drama was eventually picked up to series and is slated for a midseason launch behind reality hit The Voice. Additionally, Greenblatt and Sony/Original Film worked together on the Showtime comedy series The Big C. This is the second off-cycle pilot order so far this season, following ABC’s deal for The Manzanis, a multi-camera family comedy written by sitcom veterans Marco Pennette and Dave Flebotte, which has Kirstie Alley attached to star.

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Toronto: ‘Intruders’ Helmer Juan Carlos Fresnadillo Is ‘Highlander’ Frontrunner

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, here for today’s world premiere of his latest film The Intruders, is Summit Entertainment’s choice to direct Highlander. That is the reboot of the 1986 film about immortals who battle with swords, and live and die by the mantra that “there can be only one.” Fresnadillo is now in discussions to direct a film that Summit will co-finance with RCR Media Group. Fresnadillo is also attached to direct a reboot of The Crow, which has Bradley Cooper attached.

This is a coveted job that became an open directing slot when Justin Lin dropped out to make the sixth installment of The Fast and the Furious.

Fresnadillo, who first attracted Hollywood’s attention with the genre film Intacto, followed with the superb 28 Weeks Later. Today he unveils Intruders, an intense psychological drama that stars Clive Owen as a father who cannot protect his young daughter from faceless intruders. The film also stars Daniel Bruhl, who starred Inglourious Basterds and next stars as Formula One racer Niki Lauda in the Ron Howard-directed Rush. The film is an acquisition title that is high on many buyers’ lists, and the director’s UTA reps are selling it. Read More »

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New Line Dropping ‘Escape From New York’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: If eye patch-wearing antihero Snake Plissken is going to slither in a reboot, it won’t be at New Line and Warner Bros. They’ve allowed the option to drop on a remake they’ve been developing, meaning that the reboot of the John Carpenter-directed 1981 classic is up for grabs. The original starred Kurt Russell as Snake, a tough convict dropped into a futuristic New York that has been turned into a post-apocalyptic maximum security prison. He’s charged with rescuing the president (Donald Pleasence), who is held hostage by the prison kingpin (Isaac Hayes) after his plane within the city walls. Snake’s offered a pardon if he’s successful, but fitted with a lethal device that will kill him if he tries to run or misses the deadline. New Line and producer Neal Moritz have been working on the reboot, most recently with The Crazies helmer Breck Eisner attached to direct, and a script by writers that include Allan Loeb and X-Men: First Class scribe Jamie Moss. There have been rumors of interest from Gerard Butler and Jeremy Renner. Those guys were never confirmed and more recently there was word the studio courted Tom Hardy, whose work in Inception, Warrior and the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises has made him a go-to guy for tough man work. Eisner and Moritz are also working on Flash Gordon, and Eisner also is attached to The Last Witch Hunter at Summit.

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Jason Bateman Going ‘Insane Laws’ Route With Vince Vaughn

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is in early talks with Jason Bateman to star with Vince Vaughn in The Insane Laws, a comedy that will mark the feature directorial debut of screenwriter Jeremy Garelick. Universal picked up the project in March after Sony Pictures put it into turnaround. Neal Moritz and his Original Film banner is still producing it, and Vaughn has been eyeing it for some time. He and Garelick have been close since Garelick co-write the Vaughn-starrer The Break-Up. Garelick also did uncredited script work on The Hangover. The plan is for Bateman and Vaughn to play longtime best friends, who’ve shared everything, from college to the time both got married and had kids at the same time. Cut to when those kids are away at college, and, unbeknownst to their parents, falling in love. The best friend relationship is sorely tested when the daughter of Vaughn’s character gets pregnant. The actors just did a read-through of the material, and it could be in production by the fall. Studio is high on Bateman after he starred with Ryan Reynolds in the David Bobkin-directed role-changing comedy The Change-Up, which opens Aug. 5. CAA and 3 Arts rep Bateman, while UTAnd Principato-Young rep Garelick.

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Sony Pictures Lands Pitch ‘Save The Date’

By | Tuesday May 10, 2011 @ 8:15am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has acquired Save the Date, a pitch that will be written by Tom Gormican and produced by Neal Moritz and his Original Film banner. The romantic comedy is set around wedding season in New York City. In the run-up to a big celebration, the lives of many Gotham couples intersect as they explore the question of what marriage means today, and why anybody chooses that fate. Toby Ascher is exec producer and Liz Buraglia is supervising for Original. Deal was worth low six-figures for Gormican, whose script Are We Officially Dating? landed on last year’s Black List. The scribe, who’s repped by Underground and WME, recently was hired to write Emily Post for Warner Bros.

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Who’s Reading For ‘Total Recall’ Gals?

Mike Fleming

Sony Pictures is casting up its Total Recall remake, which Len Wiseman will direct with Colin Farrell starring in the role originated by Arnold Schwarzenegger. There are two major female roles in the film, and several top actresses are vying for them. First, there is the role of Lori, who started out the 1990 Paul Verhoeven-directed original as the happy homemaker wife of Douglas Quaid, only to transform into the bride from hell. That’s the role that really launched the star of Sharon Stone (who would star in Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct)  and I’m told that Kate Bosworth and Inglourious Basterds‘ Diane Kruger [UPDATE: Kruger's reps said she opted out of the reading] are reading this week for that role. Those readings began yesterday.

There is also the role of Melina, which was originated by Rachel Ticotin, playing the woman who helps the protagonist get to the bottom of the futuristic scandal on Mars. I’m told that Eva Mendes and Paula Patton are reading for that role. Studio insiders warn me that list is not inclusive, and I’ve heard that Jessica Biel could be in contention for Melina, Eva Green too, and that Mendes is also being considered for the Lori role. Neal Moritz is producing.

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Sony Pictures Buys Spec ‘Agent OX’ For Neal Moritz

By | Friday March 11, 2011 @ 8:28pm PST
Mike Fleming

A vigorous spec auction ended late Friday night with Sony Pictures paying mid-six figures for Agent OX, a Daniel Kunka script about a human spy on an alien planet. Neal Moritz is producing. Deal closed at 7:30 West Coast time. Producers all over town took the spec into different studios, including Peter Chernin at Fox, Walter Parkes at DreamWorks, Benderspink and Brad Weston at Paramount and Marc Platt at Universal. Moritz settled matters by paying about $300,000 out of his discretionary fund. Kunka’s repped by ICM.

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Sony Re-Ups Prolific Producer Neal Moritz Through 2015

By | Tuesday March 8, 2011 @ 11:11am PST
Mike Fleming

CULVER CITY, Calif., March 8, 2011 – Neal H. Moritz, founder of Original Film and producer of such high-profile forthcoming motion pictures as Battle: Los Angeles and Fast Five, has extended his first-look development and production pact with Columbia Pictures for three more years, it was announced today by Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures. The extension of Moritz’s deal comes 18 months before his current deal was set to expire and continues a successful partnership and collaboration with Sony, the studio that has been his home since he produced I Know What You Did Last Summer in 1997.

“We have been working together with Neal for nearly 15 years and over that time, we have partnered with him and his team on more than 20 films, most recently with The Green Hornet and Battle: Los Angeles,” Belgrad said. “He is simply one of the best and most prolific producers in the business. He knows what audiences want and is completely dedicated to delivering hits that audiences worldwide consistently enjoy while being fully conscious to bring his projects in on budget and on time.”

“Neal is an important member of the Sony Pictures family and the kind of producer you want in your corner. He has terrific taste for stories that excite the imagination of audiences everywhere. We have established a level of trust and confidence in him that can only come from the kind of long term success

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Ice Cube Joining ’21 Jump Street’ And Shops Directing Vehicle ‘Chrome And Paint’

Mike Fleming

Ice Cube is negotiating to join Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street. He is also preparing to shop Chrome and Paint, a gritty Boyz N’ The Hood-style drama that Cube wrote with Eva Vives as a starring and directing vehicle that focuses on custom car culture of South Central Los Angeles. In 21 Jump Street, Cube will play the precinct captain role originated by Steven Williams in the TV series that launched the career of Johnny Depp. Phil Lord and Chris Miller are directing the pic for Sony Pictures. Cube livens up the cast, but if they are planning to replicate the series plot about undercover cops that infiltrate schools, I’m still waiting to see if they cast anybody that remotely looks like they might be proofed in a bar. Depp was a baby-faced 24 when he started the series: Tatum is 30 and Hill is 27. Shooting begins in late April and Neal Moritz is producing.

Cube will jump into that film after he finishes a role in the New Line romancer New Year’s Eve, matched with Hilary Swank. Cube, who directed the 2010 Oakland Raiders documentary Straight Outta L.A. for ESPN, hasn’t directed a narrative feature since 1998′s The Players Club, which he also wrote. In Chrome and Paint, Cube uses the subculture of tricked out Mercedes, BMW and Low Rider cars to frame a drama about the temptation to place materialism above all else. Cube’s … Read More »

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