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Leonardo DiCaprio In Early Talks For Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Talks are about to get underway for Leonardo DiCaprio to play the role of villainous ranch owner Calvin Candie in Django Unchained, the Sergio Leone-style spaghetti Western that Quentin Tarantino wrote and will direct as his next film. DiCaprio is being courted to play a charming but ruthless proprietor of Candyland, a despicable club  and plantation in Mississippi where female slaves are exploited as sex objects and males are pitted against each other in “mandingo” style death matches. Candie is a slave’s worst nightmare and the freed slave Django must cross him in order to reclaim his wife.

Now, deal making discussions are just getting underway, but I’m told there is a much higher likelihood of DiCaprio taking part in the film at this point than Will Smith, who had been reported as lead candidate to play the title role of DJango, a slave who is liberated and taught the tricks of the trade by a German dentist-turned-bounty hunter. That role is expected to be played by Christoph Waltz, who won an Oscar playing Hans Landa in Tarantino’s last film, Inglourious Basterds. Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction star Samuel L. Jackson is also expected to play the role of Stephen, Candie’s valet who keeps the slaves in line at Candie’s residence. Tarantino turned in his script in late April to The Weinstein Company’s Harvey Weinstein, and Sony Pictures signed on … Read More »

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Foreign For Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ Goes To Will Smith’s Home Studio Sony (Though Universal Tried Hard)

EXCLUSIVE: Sources tell me that international on Quentin Tarantino’s new Spaghetti Western Django Unchained is going to Sony to co-finance production later this year and distribute sometime in 2012. This after the filmmakers met with every major studio except Warner Bros. Of course, The Weinstein Company is taking domestic. But the surprise is that Universal International didn’t have the inside track since it co-financed and took overseas on Tarantino’s last film, Inglourious Basterds, in a very successful pairing ($201M international for a global cume of $321M). Actually, Universal really wanted Quentin’s latest and tried to really step up. There was a big meeting this past Friday between Universal International and Quentin where the foreign guys went to extraordinary lengths to pull out all the stops. Employees wore T-shirts emblazoned with the languages of all the managing directors of the territories in town. And a bag of handmade scalps was presented to Tarantino — a reference to the ”100 Nazi scalps” from Inglourious Basterds to remind Quentin how well the studio did for that movie last time around. Instead, Django Unchained went to Sony because of its existing relationship with Will Smith, whom Quentin desperately wants to star in the film. “Having Will involved is the key. That’s what the filmmakers want, and they think the best chance of making it happen is at his home studio,” an insider tells me.

UPDATE: Right now, Will is still pondering his role as a slave in the script, which I just read and would be a very risky … Read More »

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Quentin Tarantino Saddles Up For Spaghetti Western ‘Django Unchained’

Mike Fleming

Back when I saw him in late February at Harvey Weinstein’s Oscar night party for The King’s Speech, Quentin Tarantino told me that his script for a Western was just pouring out of him easily, that he’d finished a draft and expected to turn in a final version within two months. As a web leak of the cover page of his new script Django Unchained attests, Tarantino finished that script two days ago, right on schedule. Here’s what I’ve heard: While Tarantino has spoken about doing a variation of the Western genre he called a “Southern,” I’m told he has actually written a spaghetti Western, that stylized and violent brand of films popularized by Sergio Leone and a few other directors in the 1960s. Tarantino will put his stamp on one of his favorite genres same as he did when he took on the war mission movie with Inglourious Basterds.

The project is moving very quickly. Tarantino is reuniting with Pulp Fiction producer Stacey Sher. Sher will produce with Pilar Savone. Weinstein, who distributed Pulp Fiction, will spearhead domestic distribution on Django Unchained through TWC. Universal International has the inside track to co-finance and handle foreign distribution because of the relationship built on 2009′s Inglourious Basterds, which grossed $200 million overseas and $324 million overall. Despite the early look that Universal International will get, Tarantino’s script is also being pursued … Read More »

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