EXCLUSIVE: Jamie Blackley has landed the co-lead in the 300 sequel that Noam Murro will direct for Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures. In the Kurt Johnstad-scripted film, Blackley will play Calisto, a teen whose desire to become the heroic man/soldier his father was leads the 16-year-old to become a leader of a small band of soldiers. He’ll join Sullivan Stapleton, who got a lead last week in the next installment of the Zack Snyder-directed 300. Blackley just wrapped the lead in lead in the Andrew Douglas-directed uwantme2killhim?, the Bryan Singer produced film about a young man entangled in an unhealthy internet relationship that results in him committing a crime. He also played one of the leads in London Boulevard opposite Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley and he wrapped a supporting role in Snow White and the Huntsman. Blackley is repped by WME, Luber Roklin Entertainment and UK-based United Agents.
EXCLUSIVE: After a long search process, 20th Century Fox and Bruce Willis have just chosen John Moore to direct Die Hard 5. The film will shoot in Russia, and the hope is to make it before Willis moves on to shoot a Red sequel for Summit Entertainment. In fact, Willis has just begun going through the same director search with Summit on a sequel to the 2010 hit Red. Robert Schwentke is busy helming Universal’s R.I.P.D. with Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. They’ve just begun casting the dragnet for directors on that film. Names like Breck Eisner are being floated, but other shooters are being considered.
As for Die Hard 5, Moore is in final negotiations and was in the running through the entire search as Fox tried to find a filmmaker that pleased Willis and the studio execs that have to shoot this movie in Russia and bring it in on a budget and a tight schedule. Fox has been looking for a new director since Noam Murro left the picture after he got the job helming 300: Battle Of Artemisia for Warner Bros. The studio started with a wish list of directors to helm the script by Skip Woods that included Joe Cornish (who directed Attack the Block), Fast Five helmer Justin Lin, Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn, and Moore. More recently, I’d heard Fox had conversations with helmers that included Gary Fleder, Paul McGuigan and 1408 helmer Mikael Hafstrom.
20th Century Fox is turning up the heat on Die Hard 5, even though its attached director, Noam Murro, left the picture after he got the job helming 300: Battle Of Artemisia for Warner Bros. I’m told that the studio has come up with a short list of directors who’ll meet to potentially helm the film scripted by Skip Woods. They are: Joe Cornish (who directed Attack the Block), Fast Five helmer Justin Lin, Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn and Max Payne helmer John Moore. The film brings the always-in-the-wrong-place cop John McClane to Russia. Bruce Willis is ready to reprise his signature role as early as this fall.
The surprise on the list is Cornish. While his feature directorial debut Attack the Block had a budget probably less than the catering bill on last weekend’s other alien invasion film opener Cowboys & Aliens, the movie has become a critical darling as it opened to $130,000 in eight theaters (it has grossed $4.3 million overseas). It would be a big jump to Die Hard 5, but remember the studio had attached Murro, whose debut was the 2008 character comedy Smart People.
Lin is hot off Fast Five, and is expected to do another The Fast and the Furious installment and is attached to the package to finish The Terminator franchise that was acquired by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures.
Refn has much momentum for Drive, the drama that played Cannes and opens in September. Refn reteamed with Ryan Gosling for Only God Forgives, another action film that shoots late summer in Thailand, and which FilmDistrict acquired for U.S. distribution late last month. Refn is also booked to remake Logan’s Run with Gosling. Then there is Moore, the Irish helmer who has directed all of his features – Max Payne, The Omen, Flight of the Phoenix and Behind Enemy Lines — for Fox. A web report indicated that Moore already had the job, but I’m told that the filmmaker meetings haven’t started yet, so that might be jumping the gun.
EXCLUSIVE: The producers of the 300 spinoff known as Xerxes have retitled their film 300: Battle of Artemisia, and they have also narrowed their focus of potential directors to two: Noam Murro and Jaume Collet-Serra. The film, a spinoff to 300, is one that the film’s original director Zack Snyder was going to direct. That was until Warner Bros and producer Chris Nolan offered him Man of Steel, and Snyder and wife and producing partner Debra Snyder put Xerxes aside and moved on to rebooting the Superman franchise because Warner Bros needed it. The Snyders have been all over this director selection process. Snyder had written a script with his 300 cohort Kurt Johnstad. Like 300, it is based on a Frank Miller graphic novel that will be shot with the kind of stylized period green-screen action visuals that became the signature of 300 and helped the film gross $456 million worldwide. Xerxes was the Persian leader seen in 300. Miller’s graphic novel told the story of how Xerxes became this peculiar god-like entity. That mythology goes back to the death of his father, Darius, from injuries sustained at the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. Darius had told his son not to attack the Greeks because they can only be punished by a god, and so Xerxes tried to transform himself into a deity to gain revenge. The new pic’s produced by the Snyders, Mark Canton, Gianni Nunnari, Thomas Tull and Bernie Goldmann. The prime mover on the film has been Legendary Pictures, which made the original with Warner Bros and has taken the lead on several big-ticket pictures since Tull recapitalized his producing/financing company. That includes the Guillermo del Toro-directed Pacific Rim with Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba and the Alex Proyas-directed Paradise Lost with Bradley Cooper.
EXCLUSIVE: Die Hard 5 is moving toward the start gate at 20th Century Fox. I’m told the studio will set Noam Murro to direct the film that has been scripted by Skip Woods. They will continue to develop the script. While Murro directed the Sarah Jessica Parker-starrer Smart People for Miramax. Murro really impressed Fox brass with his most recent campaign for the Halo video game. He’s a five time DGA nominated commercials director, won two Golden Lions at Cannes and is taking a big leap up to one of Fox’s most important projects. The studio still has to make a deal with Bruce Willis, but he has publicly expressed excitement about reprising his signature John McClane role. Willis showed he had plenty left in the tank with Live Free Or Die Hard, the Len Wiseman-directed 2007 sequel that grossed $383.5 million worldwide.
As Deadline first revealed on November 11, Willis and Rebecca Hall will team on Lay the Favorite, the Stephen Frears-directed adaptation of the Beth Raymer memoir that was adapted by DV De Vincentis. Murro is repped by CAA and Management 360.