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Cannes: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard Introduce Imagine 2.0; A Pele Pic On The Croisette, A Crowd-Funded ‘Friday Night Lights’, ‘Dark Tower’, Jay-Z And One Angry White Whale

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE:When Imagine Entertainment partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard re-upped in their 26th year at Universal in early 2012, like all studio term producers they watched the deal get smaller. They also went from exclusive to first look and while that might have humbled less energetic founders who’d made 50 films for the same studio, Grazer and Howard took it as license to tap into new avenues of distribution and funding to be more productive than ever.

Consider that while Howard tinkers with the finished Formula One drama Rush and casts the Warner Bros adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick novel In The Heart Of The Sea with Chris Hemsworth, Grazer is on the Croisette, beating the drum for a Pele biopic to be directed by The Two Escobars helmer Jeff Zimbalist and his brother Michael. Grazer and production president Kim Roth called the film a close cousin to the search for genius depicted in 8 Mile, only here it’s a dirt-poor kid’s journey from being part of the Shoeless Wonders (a band of soccer wunderkinds too poor to afford shoes) to a phenom who at 17 led Brazil to the World Cup. Grazer and his partners will have the film ready by the time the world is whipped into a frenzy for World Cup action next year.

* While they’ve temporarily halted the move to turn Jack Bauer loose in a 24 feature, they’ve instead decided to bring him back in a limited series, this after selling an Arrested Development revival directly to Netflix. Grazer tells me they are absolutely moving forward with a movie version of another Imagine series, Friday Night Lights, and they will likely use crowdfunding to directly tap the rabid fan base of that drama for some of the budget. “We made a terrific feature with Pete Berg, turned it into a terrific TV series and will now make a movie from that series,” Grazer said. “I’m not sure such a thing has been done before.” Read More »

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Cannes: Pele Biopic In Works With Imagine Entertainment

By | Thursday May 9, 2013 @ 1:35pm PDT

BREAKING: The soccer icon’s life story will be told by writer-directors Michael and Jeff Zimbalist (The Two Escobars) after Imagine Entertainment and Seine Pictures licensed his life rights via Sports Licensing International B.V. The pic is in preproduction now with an August start date planned. Exclusive Media will sell worldwide rights at the Cannes film market, with Pele scheduled to make an appearance on the Croisette to pump up the project. Brian Grazer, Ivan Orlic, Kim Roth and Dany Wolf are producers; Pelé, Paul Kemsley and Guy East are exec producers. Domestic rights are repped by CAA and WME.

The feature film will tell the story of who most consider the best soccer player in the history of the game. It will follow his rise to glory from impoverished youth in Brazil to a soccer prodigy who led soccer-mad Brazil to its first-ever World Cup title in 1958, when at age 17 he became the youngest player to play in the final, scoring two goals to beat Sweden. His teams won three World Cup titles.

The subject matter is right in the wheelhouse of the Zimbalists. The Two Escobars was a riveting ESPN 30 For 30 documentary that told the story of the collision of Colombia’s national team (led by defender Andres Escobar) and notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar during the 1994 World Cup in the U.S. (check out the trailer for it below). Jeff Zimbalist also directed the 2005 docu Favela Rising, about the role of the AfroReggae movement in uniting a violent Brazilian slum. Read More »

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