EXCLUSIVE: Platinum Dunes has already found its Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Now the Michael Bay-produced Ninja Turtles reboot has cast the sage mentor to the heroes in a half-shell. Seinfeld alum Danny Woodburn will play Master Splinter in the live action/CG hybrid directed by Jonathan Liebesman. Paramount will release the pic June 6, 2014. Woodburn’s recent credits include Mirror, Mirror and recurring roles on Fox’s Bones and Disney XD’s recently renewed Crash & Bernstein. He is repped by Global Artists Agency.
Is Michael Bay‘s production company Platinum Dunes trying to change its image away from high-cost, high-profile, high-volume pictures? If so, it’s a very smart strategy in these leaner-than-lean times at the studios. Paramount just picked up the banner’s techno-thriller The Rising, a pitch from TV writer Soo Hugh (AMC’s The Killing, The River, Zero Hour). ”Michael Bay’s guys at Platinum Dunes brought this in. It was very inexpensive,” a Paramount exec tells me. Along with Bay, Platinum Dunes’ Andrew Form and Brad Fuller are producing. For instance, this year just as Bay and Paramount were dating Transformers 4 for June 2014, Bay was starting production on the bodybuilders crime spree Pain And Gain with Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. That $25M budget movie was part of his 2-picture deal with the studio. And all the talent deferred their compensation in return for big back ends.
BREAKING: Universal Pictures, which jettisoned its Hasbro-branded project Ouija over budget, has brought in a reconfigured version of the film. The old version, which McG was to direct, had a budget north of $100 million. The new one will cost around $5 million, I hear. Get used to this kind of budget for studio genre films, particularly after the recent successes of Chronicle and last weekend’s Project X, a film which cost $12 million and grossed $21 million. Though it’s produced by Silver Pictures and Todd Phillips’ Green Hat, the picture has no recognizable actors and still crushed it at the box office.
Ouija will be produced by Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir, Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, and Blumhouse Productions. The latter addition explains a lot. Blumhouse is Jason Blum, the Paranormal Activity producer who signed a first look deal at Universal, and has brought it back in line with the kind of budgets he worked on with his films Paranormal Activity and Insidious. Now, Platinum Dunes has made low-cost/high-gross horror remakes like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Amityville Horror, but in today’s Hollywood economy, a $100 million for Ouija is just out of touch. To put it in perspective, when Universal made a gargantuan deal with Hasbro several years ago, $5 million was the penalty payment due Hasbro if the studio didn’t meet certain deadlines. That …
Universal Pictures has teamed with Blumhouse Productions, Platinum Dunes Productions and Why Not Productions on Vigilandia, a futuristic thriller written and directed by James DeMonaco. Ethan Hawke will star in the low-budget project, which starts shooting February 13. It’s the first project from the first-look deal Universal gave to Jason Blum to produce low-budget genre films. Blum, Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form will produce. Sebastien Lemercier is exec producer. DeMonaco scripted The Negotiator and Assault On Precinct 13, the latter of which starred Hawke.
Universal has dropped another board-game film adaptation from its groundbreaking six-year exclusive pact with Hasbro, sending Ouija into turnaround to join previous projects Clue, Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering. The Ouija film — which has McG attached to direct and Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form producing with Ian Bryce and Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir — will most likely be set up elsewhere, as will Clue, which is funded by Hasbro and is being produced by director Gore Verbinski’s Blind Wink shingle (see Universal Drops ‘Clue’; Gore Verbinksi Moves Forward With Hasbro Cash And New Writers). For Universal, the move is purely economics: Ouija is budgeted at north of $100 million and the studio has Oblivion, R.I.P.D., 47 Ronin, Safe House and Battleship — all big-ticket movies — already in its lineup. (Remember, it also said goodbye to the ambitious film/TV series hybrid The Dark Tower over cost concerns. Vulture is reporting that Universal was serious enough about the cost of Ouija that it is paying Hasbro a $5 million penalty for dropping it, as per terms of its 2008 mega deal with the toy giant.
EXCLUSIVE: Hollywood’s fixation with robots and the undead has fueled a spec package deal that includes underlying rights to the IDW Zombies Vs. Robots. JT Petty has used the Ashley Wood/Chris Ryall-created comic as the basis for a spec script called Inherit the Earth. The film will be a co-production between Platinum Dunes, Circle of Confusion and IDW, and produced by Michael Bay, Brad Fuller, Andrew Form, Dave Alpert and Rick Jacobs. Ted Adams is exec producer. More than one studio was interested. The film focuses on a young girl who is the last survivor on earth. She is protected by a group of robots from a pack of zombies that are intelligent and evolved. The comic title is unrelated to Cowboys & Aliens, even though it sounds like it could be on the undercard. Transformers director Bay, of course, has more than the requisite experience with robots to turn this into something exceptional. Jonathan Kadin and Hannah Minghella will oversee for Sony. IDW’s title World War Robot is being developed by Jerry Bruckheimer.
EXCLUSIVE: Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller, and Andrew Form have moved their genre-making production company to WME. It’s a return to the fold after moving from WME and spending the last year at CAA. WME reps Bay as a director.
The move comes at a time when Platinum Dunes is moving into bigger budget fare after signing a first-look deal at Paramount Pictures. On their first seven films, Platinum Dunes averaged $18 million per film; the priciest was $30 million. They’ve had an enviable track record for covering their bets. Six of those films grossed their budgets on opening weekends, and two did so on opening night. Most were remakes of fright classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror, The Hitcher, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
EXCLUSIVE: I hear that Paramount has hired the writing team of Art Marcum and Matt Holloway for close to $1 million to reimagine a new release of the live action feature Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “The studio is looking at this as its next huge franchise, like Transformers,” a source just told me. Indeed, Platinum Dunes which is Michael Bay’s, Andrew Form’s, and Brad Fuller’s company, is producing along with the original producers Scott Mednick, Galen Walker, and Maria Norman. Paramount’s Adam Goodman is fast-tracking and wants a first draft by October so the studio can take it out to directors right away for a 2012 release. The speed is understandable since Viacom Inc’s Nickelodeon acquired the global intellectual property rights to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for $60 million in partnership with sister company Paramount Pictures for the TV, film and video game franchise which the characters have spawned. ICM made the script deal for Marcum and Holloway, who shared credit on Marvel’s Iron Man (the good one…) and just wrote the Highlander reboot for Summit Entertainment. The latter will start shooting next year under helmer Justin Lin whose Fast And Furious 5 is filming right now for Universal.
Considered one of the most popular kids’ television programs of the 1980s, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was created in 1984 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. …
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount, which is already making the JJ Abrams-directed Steven Spielberg-produced Super 8, has acquired a spec package for another modestly budgeted extraterrestrial project. This one’s about alien abduction and the plan is to bring it in for about $12 million. And this one has as its producer Michael Bay, who’s currently shooting Transformers 3 for the studio. The deal was made on the basis of a two-minute teaser and a pitch. It will be directed by Bobby Glickert, and produced by Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners Brad Fuller and Andrew Form. They are out to writers to draft Glickert’s story. It’s being called the “Confidential Alien Project”, and it’s said to have things in common with Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity, both of which were shot on the cheap and released by Paramount. WME made the deal.
Glickert gets his first shot behind the camera on a feature after directing two horror shorts, Road to Moloch and The Descendent. He was a PA on Bay’s first Transformers film, and has been assistant to director Fast & Furious the past year and a half. He’s managed by Tariq Merhab.