EXCLUSIVE: The Avengers star Tom Hiddleston will play Country & Western legend Hank Williams in I Saw The Light, a film that Marc Abraham will direct and which has come together as a co-production between RatPac Entertainment, Bron Studios, and Creative Wealth Media Finance, all of which will fund the film. Abraham wrote the script based on the Colin Escott biography of Williams and Aaron L. Gilbert will produce with Brett Ratner, G. Marq Rosell and Abraham. Ratner’s partner, James Packer, will be exec producer.
Production will begin in Louisiana in October, and Hiddleston will sing such Williams standards as “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “Hey Good Lookin’,” after the film’s backers made a deal with Sony ATV to secure rights to the Williams music catalog. The film will tell the story of Williams’ meteoric rise to fame, and the price that fame took on his personal life. He died at age 29 of heart failure. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Already teamed with Dune’s Steven Mnuchin on a $450 million deal to co-finance the entire slate of Warner Bros films, RatPac Entertainment partners Brett Ratner and James Packer have made a deal with the studio to develop, produce and co-finance films at Warner Bros. They will take space on the Warner lot. Where do you put RatPac on that crowded lot? Where else but the headquarters that once belonged to Francis Albert Sinatra himself.
“The offices Frank Sinatra had are the coolest ones ever,” Ratner told me. “As guys who love movie history, James and I appreciate it. Sinatra was there, Joel Silver had them, and Barbra Streisand, Sidney Poitier, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and Dustin Hoffman had them in the First Artists days. And Steven Spielberg had them too. First thing we’re doing is blowing up a picture of Sinatra, in front of that building.”
You can forgive Ratner for being a bit giddy, but RatPac’s abrupt importance to the film fortunes of Warner Bros is pretty astonishing. He has managed to keep his directing career going (he’s got Dwayne Johnson with the MGM/Paramount pic Hercules), and the first film in the RatPac-Dune slate deal was Gravity, which grossed $716 million worldwide and dropped a big fat windfall on the RatPac Dune venture right out of the gate. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: On the eve of its publication, Harlan Coben‘s new mystery novel Missing You has been acquired in a preemptive screen rights deal by Warner Bros and RatPac Entertainment. The book is published tomorrow by Dutton. For RatPac, Brett Ratner will produce and John Cheng and James Packer will be exec producers.
In Coben’s latest, a New York City Police Department detective named Kat Donovan is exploring a dating website and discovers the profile and photo of the ex-fiance who dumped her 18 years ago. She soon she begins to unravel an intricate catfish scheme led by a brilliant and calculating killer. Coben, whose page-turners get better and better and whose last six novels debuted atop The New York Times Bestseller list, seems poised to finally pop on the big screen. Besides Missing You, his novel Tell No One is being adapted by Argo scribe Chris Terrio for Universal and director Gavin O’Connor; Six Years is at Paramount with Mark Gordon producing and Hugh Jackman attached to star, with Jonathan Stokes adapting. Coben made a deal with Lawrence Kasdan directly to team on the Coben novel Stay Close, until that process slowed when Kasdan got the call to return to draft the new Star Wars movie for J.J. Abrams to direct.
Missing You was brought in Chantal Nong, the first major project for her since being minted VP Production. … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: It may have taken him 15 years to get there, but Edward Norton will star in and direct Motherless Brooklyn, his scripted adaptation inspired by the Jonathan Lethem novel. Brett Ratner and James Packer’s RatPac Entertainment have stepped up to fully finance the film for a late 2014 production start in New York. Ratner will join Norton and his Class 5 Films’ cohort William Migliore as producers, and Packer will be executive producer with Class 5’s Stuart Blumberg.
While Lethem’s novel is contemporary, Norton has set the story in New York in 1954, a time of great change in the city. He plays Lionel Essrog, a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette’s syndrome, who tries to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend. Armed only with few clues and an obsessive mind, Lionel slowly unravels closely guarded secrets that have major ramifications. It leads him through Harlem jazz clubs, Brooklyn slums and sets him against thugs and Gotham power brokers to honor his friend and save a woman who might his own salvation.
This will be Norton’s second time behind the camera after he made his debut on Keeping The Faith. He set this up at New Line as the book was published, right after Norton got an Oscar nomination there for his mesmerizing performance in American History X. Norton currently stars in the Wes Anderson-directed The Grand Budapest Hotel, and most recently wrapped the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed comedy Birdman, both for Fox Searchlight. He’s repped by UTA and attorney Robert Offer. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Soon Latest Studio Closing Big Co-Financing Film Deal
By Nikki Finke — EXCLUSIVE: All of the Sony parent company brass from Japan including Kazuo Hirai are in Culver City this week for meetings to discuss among other things the film studio. Finally, here’s some good news for Amy Pascal et al. I’ve learned that Sony Pictures is in the process of closing a rich co-financing deal.
SHOCKER! Peter Schlessel Takes Over Focus Features
By Mike Fleming Jr. — The news that Universal dropped another bombshell today and announced that James Schamus would leave as head of Focus Features has left everyone at that boutique label reeling. But it hits the company’s New York staff hardest.
Focus Features Day 2: Who’ll Stay?
By Mike Fleming Jr. — EXCLUSIVE: Yesterday’s bombshell that caught everyone at Focus Features by surprise has given way to a collective depression among the people at Focus who watched the abrupt exit of their leader James Schamus, and learned Universal will close the Gotham headquarters after incoming head Peter Schlessel arrives in January.
After Eight ‘Harry Potter’ Hits David Heyman Follows Up With ‘Gravity’ – This Time He May Finally Be Going To The Oscars
By Pete Hammond — With Gravity looking like it is soaring at the box office today and the Harry Potter 8-pack of films successfully behind him, producer David Heyman is riding high. Of course, director Alfonso Cuaron and stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are getting the lion’s share of attention for the space drama, but Heyman is happy to give credit where credit is due. Read More »
UPDATE, 1:45 PM: More details are emerging on this possible deal. We’re hearing that RatPac Entertainment, the tie-up of producer-director Brett Ratner and Australian media tycoon James Packer, would be the majority partner in the possible Warner Bros’ slate financing deal that involves Dune Entertainment. We’re told RatPac would contribute 75% to whatever the final total might be should such a deal be struck. Ratner and Packer launched RatPac in December looking to produce and finance independent films and co-finance “blockbusters” with studio partners. Packer is personally backing the film development, production and finance company. “We intend to build a major independent film company which not only has the ability to fully finance its films, but which also offers creative independence for its filmmakers,” Ratner said at the time. We’re also hearing negotiations are moving quickly on the Warners-Dune-RatPac front, and a deal could be announced in two weeks.
PREVIOUS, 12:11 PM: Deadline’s Nikki Finke had already reported that if Legendary Entertainment‘s Thomas Tull did not strike a deal to remain at Warner Bros, the studio would either rely more on its straight financing partner Village Roadshow — or it could take on a slate deal like the one Dune Entertainment had at Fox. Well now it seems that an actual Dune option has moved up on the menu: According to sources, the studio is engaged in negotiations on a big financing deal … Read More »