EXCLUSIVE: Montecito and Paramount have tapped scribes Eyal Podell & Jonathan Stewart to write Juliet, based on the book by Anne Fortier. Tree Line’s Cathy Konrad will produce with Montecito. The project was set up in fall, 2011 for James Mangold to direct. In the book, a young woman learns that the legend of Romeo & Juliet is actually real, and that Shakespeare’s version was simply the most popular retelling. More compelling is that she is Juliet’s direct descendant, but was kept in the dark to protect her. Podell & Stewart are coming on the project hot after having their script Seuss reach the second slot on the latest Black List. They are represented by Verve and Industry Entertainment.
Megan And David Ellison Will Each Pay 33% Of ‘Terminator’ Costs; Paramount Paying The Rest To Bring Arnold Back
EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: A spate of reports of movement on The Terminator franchise is a good sign that the franchise is finally starting to percolate again. I’ve learned that each Ellison — David and Megan, both scions of Oracle chief Larry Ellison — will finance 33% of the film’s budget, with Paramount finding the remaining third. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself said yesterday during an appearance in Sydney that he’s coming back and the movie will start shooting in January. None of this is really a surprise: Back in December, Megan Ellison, who’d spent $20 million to buy The Terminator sequel rights during 2011 Cannes, partnered on the franchise with her brother David. She makes prestige films and he makes popcorn fare like Star Trek and Mission: Impossible sequels, so the union made sense. The Wrap claimed an exclusive that Paramount would be the distributor. Well, through Skydance Productions, David makes all his movies with Paramount, so it was kind of obvious the films would likely land there. Skydance and Paramount are just coming through the gigantic ordeal of making World War Z, which, despite a massive budget, looks like it will do some serious global business.
As for Schwarzenegger, he’s been attached since back in May 2011, when Megan Ellison beat out Lionsgate and paid around $20 million for the franchise. She bought it from Pacificor, which had paid $29.5 million to pull the property out of bankruptcy. The latest rumor is that Megan Ellison would make a hail mary pass attempt to draft her Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow. That would be a coup, but it’s being denied, which means either that it’s not true, or Bigelow passed already. The project has been director-less since Fast 6‘s Justin Lin bowed out of the project when it was being developed solely by Megan Ellison. I met Lin at Sundance and he made it clear he wouldn’t return because he was not involved in the development of the script. Ellison in January hired Avatar and Shutter Island‘s Laeta Kalogridis and My Bloody Valentine‘s Patrick Lussier to write the script, so it stands to reason that the film should be ready to shoot by early next year.
Plenty of people harrumphed Wednesday when George Lucas told a crowd that “going to the movies will cost 50 bucks or 100 or 150 bucks” in the future. Well, one day later that …
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount and MGM are making a deal with Jon M. Chu to direct another installment of G.I. Joe. It was Chu who essentially guided a do-over from 2009′s G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra, and it wasn’t the easiest process. The film was refashioned with Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis as its core leads. Even then, Paramount pulled the film from its 2012 release calendar (to make it 3D and do some creative enhancements) and did the same with World War Z (to shoot a whole new third act). It looks like the studio’s gamble will pay off in both cases. G.I. Joe: Retaliation came out in March to gross $365 million globally, and WWZ is beginning to generate positive buzz after being prematurely written off because of its production issues, now that people are seeing it’s a good movie.
Paramount Pictures claims that it was the victim of a fraud and conspiracy involving JP Morgan and it’s not going to take it anymore. “Paramount Pictures Corporation brings this Cross-Complaint against Content Partners LLC and its affiliate seeking redress for a years-long scheme by Content Partners and Wall Street investment bank JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. to defraud Paramount through an unlawful and secret assignment of rights in connection with 25 Paramount motion pictures,” says the cross complaint (read it here) filed Thursday in LA Superior Court in Santa Monica by the studio. “The cross-complaint seeks relief for a contrived attempt to frustrate Paramount’s rights and tarnish its reputation in relation to a series of film financing transactions, a Paramount spokesperson told me today.
Calling Content Partners as “the Hollywood equivalent of a patent troll,” the dense legal action this week comes in response to a $45 million breach of contract and fraud suit that the asset management group brought against Paramount in 2010 over profit participation on films such as Face/Off and The Truman Show. Content Partners claimed that the studio played fast and loose with paying out money it owed. The 2010 case had been winding its way through the courts and the discovery process. It was scheduled to go to trial later this month but delayed because the judge retired. Now Paramount has fired back and set a whole new legal saga in motion. The jury trial seeking complaint filed Thursday claims intentional interference with contractual relations, fraud, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair business practices and civil conspiracy. Though mentioned throughout the complaint as being deeply involved in the alleged fraud and other claims, J.P. Morgan are not actually named as a defendant in this week’s filing.
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures has acquired The Testing, a novel by Joelle Charbonneau. Deal got made last night, with no producer attached, and it was Peter Kang’s first acquisition since moving to the studio from Fox. The book will be published this week and already has been named a #1 Indie Next 2013 Summer YA Pick and one of the Top 10 Young Adult Books for Summer by USA Today. Foreign publishing rights have already been sold in the UK, France, Israel, Korea, The Netherlands, Turkey, and Germany. The logline: In the rebuilding of the United States after natural disasters and biological war, the best and brightest high school graduates are put through a series of tests, both physical and mental, to determine whether they have what it takes to become the leaders of future generations.
UPDATED: Paramount Pictures has officially found a slot for Interstellar, the next movie from Christopher Nolan: It will be released on November 7, 2014, smack in the middle of awards season. The date first mentioned when Paramount and Warner Bros announced a rare tie-up to co-produce the sci-fi pic. The cast has been shaping up for a while, with Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Nolan regular Michael Caine already aboard. Nolan and Emma Thomas are producing with Lynda Obst, and Jordan Goldberg is exec producing. Obst commissioned the original treatment and Steven Spielberg came aboard in 2006, when Paramount owned DreamWorks and after the filmmaker became intrigued by Caltech physicist and relativity expert Kip S. Thorne and his scientific theory that wormholes exist and can be used for time travel. Spielberg set Jonah Nolan to write the script, which made it easy for Christopher Nolan to come aboard after Spielberg left the project. The ambition is that Interstellar will depict a heroic voyage to the farthest borders of our scientific understanding. There is one other film that has set that date: Disney’s 3D-animated Big Hero 6, based on the Marvel comic property.
Alexander Payne says he only finished postproduction last Friday on his Cannes competition entry Nebraska, which had its press screening this morning and will premiere tonight. Reviews coming in so far are largely mixed to very good. Even though Paramount won’t release it until November 22, Payne likes to take awhile in post to get everything right. There was initial concern about even making the Cannes date, so that is why until just a week before this year’s official lineup was announced did Paramount and Payne even decide to take a shot. He brought the film to Paris, showed it to Thierry Fremaux with only two days to spare, and landed tonight’s slot. Payne is becoming somewhat of a Cannes regular — although other than 2002′s About Schmidt, this is only his second film in competition. He has served on the juries of both Un Certain Regard and, last year, the main selection.
Nebraska, which will be one of Paramount’s Oscar hopes this year, played well to nice but brief applause from the press at the screening and at the press conference that followed (especially when stars Bruce Dern and Will Forte were introduced). It’s pure Payne in its humanist, gently funny style and captures that Middle America folksy style in beautiful black and white, but it is definitely what I would call a small film that will need tender loving care from the studio (the only major studio film in competition).
Veteran business affairs attorney Leonard Kalcheim died today at his home in Los Angeles after a long illness. He was 74. Kalcheim started as an attorney at ABC before moving to Paramount Pictures, where he worked for more than …
UPDATED: Paramount said when it announced in April that it was teaming with two China-based companies on a “cooperation agreement” for Transformers 4 that …
UPDATE: Summer 2013 has many budget busting blockbusters. But also problems that have plagued some during pre-production, filming, and post-production. Not since John Carter and Battleship has a big-budget movie received more advance negative press for its production woes than World War Z, the Marc Forster-directed adaptation of the Max Brooks zombie-apocalypse novel that stars and is produced by Brad Pitt. I was shown the movie, but not in its 3D format, weeks before its June 21 release. And each time the response from industry insiders was a version of, “Well, just how bad is it?” Paramount with these select screenings has just begun the daunting campaign of rehabilitating the film’s battered image. According to Vice Chairman Rob Moore, the studio spent $15M-$20M and 25 shooting days to make WWZ significantly better. Yet the reward has been worse advance buzz than if Paramount had kept its wallet shut and quietly released the inferior original. I don’t know if I would have penned this post had I hated the movie, but I consider myself a connoisseur of zombie fare, and this stacks up very favorably. I’m no reviewer, but I can honestly say that WWZ is better than good; try a rocking, smart, pulse-pounding big-scale pandemic with raging zombies, palpable tension, and the kind of hero star turn Pitt hasn’t performed in a long time.
You know things are bad when your star mouths off about a troubled film before it even opens. His complaints well into production were made to fill-in fixer Damon Lindelof who blurted them out in turn. Scripting issues crippled the globetrotting zombie pic from the get-go. J. Michael Straczynski’s first script was scrapped. Matthew Carnahan’s subsequent version deviated from the source novel by Max Brooks. Fans were alarmed at the prospective story changes. Then filming got underway for director Marc Forster before an ending was set – and Pitt wound up hating what was shot, preferring the project’s early geopolitical bent to the action thriller slant. The film’s initial ending was abrupt and incoherent, Lindelof told Vanity Fair, and an initial studio screening supposedly left suits in shock. “It was like, ‘Wow, the ending of our movie doesn’t work,” publicly admitted Paramount President of Production Marc Evans. “I believed in that moment we needed to reshoot the movie.” So how many hot screenwriters did it take to finish a zombie movie? Paramount turned to Lindelof to fix the pic, but the job was so big he brought in Drew Goddard. Christopher McQuarrie was tapped for even more re-writes. Reshoots skyrocketed the budget to a reported $200M, though Paramount insists they contained it. Already filmed scenes set in Russia and Budapest as well as a battle scene were chopped as crew shot 40 additional minutes for a new conclusion with reshoots that went on for a reported 7 weeks. Meanwhile a budgeting nightmare unfolded when crew wrapping the Malta set discovered millions in unpaid purchase orders forgotten in a drawer. Given the behind-the-scenes mayhem, negative early fan reactions to World War Z‘s fast-moving CG zombie swarms were the least of Paramount’s worries.
That solidly detailed Vanity Fair article created major blowback this month. It grew worse after a widely circulated flop prognostication by Wall Street analyst Doug Creutz of Cowen and Company (even though he hadn’t seen the film). “In the Vanity Fair article, we were forthcoming about the production and creative problems and how we solved them and ended up with a movie that plays great and is likely to be a global hit,” Moore told me. “The thing that really led to more negative stories was the insanity of this Cowen and Company analyst report, written by a guy who hadn’t seen the movie, the footage we showed at ShoWest, or gotten any pre-summer tracking. He just comes off the mountain top to make a prediction based on nothing, and because he’s got the letters CFA after his name, people think he must know what he is talking about, which is preposterous.”
Moore told me that chasing a fix on WWZ was the ballsiest bet like this made since he has been at Paramount. “It was no question one of the toughest decisions we’ve made as a group, but knowing what we know now, it was absolutely the right decision,” he said. He figures the release delay and extra work that went into G.I. Joe led to $100 million in extra ticket sales worldwide, and he believes WWZ will deliver an even bigger payoff. It would just be nice to see a little more understanding among the media and Wall Street analysts, to recognize that just because a film has problems during the process of production, that doesn’t mean it’s doomed.
“When you draw attention to yourself by acknowledging you have a problem you’re trying to fix, it becomes sport to the media to pick on you,” he said. “It becomes hard to say, ‘We don’t care about the short-term publicity hit, what we care about is making the best movie.’ The political pressure against you becomes great and can make it seem like it’s better to leave it alone. Here, that pressure was even bigger because it is Brad Pitt, and because of the size of the solution. But I’m telling you right here, it was definitely the right call. We now have the best version of this movie, and people will see that soon.”
HOLLYWOOD, CA (May 7, 2013) – Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions has announced that Tom Cruise has signed-on to star and produce a 5th installment in the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE franchise. The actor will reprise the role of Ethan Hunt, who was first introduced to moviegoers in 1996.
The project is expected to announce a writer and also a director shortly and will be developed by Cruise, Paramount and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, who served as producers on previous films in the hit series. Skydance Productions, who served as co-financers and executive producers of the last installment will work closely with the team in the development and production process.