Hoping to piggyback on the success of National Geographic Channel‘s take on Bill O’Reilly’s best-seller Killing Lincoln, the network is again partnering with Ridley Scott and O’Reilly on Killing Jesus: A History, O’Reilly’s recently announced book that he co-authored with Martin Dugard. The book will be published by Henry Holt and Company on September 24. Today’s announcement comes as the network is in pre-production on O’Reilly’s Killing Kennedy: The End Of Camelot expected to air worldwide on Nat Geo Channels later this year. “I am thrilled to once again be partnering with National Geographic Channels and Scott Free Productions on my next book,” said O’Reilly. “Jesus is the most famous person that has ever lived — and is worshipped today by more than 2.2 billion people”. Killing Jesus tells the story of Jesus of Nazareth as a beloved and controversial young revolutionary brutally killed by Roman soldiers and recounting the seismic political and historical events that made his death inevitable and the changes that his life brought upon the world for the centuries to follow. “O’Reilly has proven with Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy that the public is fascinated with the tragic tales of these renowned historical figures, and this is one of the most dramatic stories ever told. We are privileged to once again work with National Geographic Channel to bring Bill’s vision to the screen,” said Scott. Production is set to begin this fall. Click over to read today’s release.
EXCLUSIVE: Don’t consider this etched in stone yet, but it looks like Fox is putting a rush on the Moses movie it has been developing with Ridley Scott. I’m hearing that the director and studio are courting Christian Bale to star. The project is called Exodus, which was originally scripted by Adam Cooper and Bill Collage. Peter Chernin and his Chernin Entertainment bought the film as a pitch and they are producing with Scott and his Scott Free, which joined later. Now it has become a big priority after Steve Zaillian signed on to do a rewrite. Zaillian teamed with Scott on American Gangster. Scott is looking to mobilize this as soon as he completes The Counselor. The talks with Bale are early stage.
This comes as Warner Bros deals with Steven Spielberg dropping out of its mega-Moses project, Gods And Kings, the epic-sized film about life of Moses based on the script by Michael Green and Stuart Hazeldine. The studio’s Hail Mary pass is trying to secure the services of Ang Lee, fresh from his Oscar win for Life Of Pi.
EXCLUSIVE: Deadline scooped the news today that Safety Not Guaranteed helmer Colin Trevorrow landed the plum gig of Jurassic Park 4, a move which could catapult him to the director A-list. There is a lot of movement going on among directors that will reverberate depending on who takes what job.
First up, Steven Spielberg has ended his long flirtation with directing Gods And Kings, the epic-sized Warner Bros film about life of Moses based on the script by Michael Green and Stuart Hazeldine. That puts Warner Bros in a bind because of the rival Moses project, the Adam Cooper/Bill Collage-scripted Exodus, which is gathering steam at Fox, with Ridley Scott looking to mobilize that as soon as he completes The Counselor. But Warner Bros is now out to Ang Lee, who just won the Best Director Oscar for Life Of Pi. I’m told he’s intrigued with the project but hasn’t had a formal meeting on the script. Imagine what either director can do with that subject matter, and with the ratings on History Channel’s The Bible miniseries, the audience is certainly there. Spielberg hasn’t dropped the project for another; while he postponed his next film Robopocalypse, he hasn’t replaced it with anything as he continues to develop that robot pic. Spielberg also recently told French TV he’s developing a Napoleon miniseries for TV based on Stanley Kubrick’s screenplay and research. for
EXCLUSIVE: Ridley Scott and his commercials production company RSA will team with Machinima to produce 12 short films that will focus on science fiction content that might be grown into feature franchises. Machinima is the top global video entertainment network for males aged 18-34, reaching more than 2.6 billion views monthly. It is the top-rated entertainment channel on YouTube.
Despite turning 75, Scott continues to have an appetite for cutting-edge stuff and emerging technologies. He won’t direct any of these short films but will be a hands-on executive producer with RSA president Jules Daly. With Machinima, they will select directing clients of RSA and figure out what stories to tell.
Machinima has provided a strong springboard for genre content on the web. The network distributed Mortal Kombat: Legacy, which revived the moribund Mortal Kombat franchise. It started with a short film and is now in its second season and led to a feature film in development. Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn premiered last fall and the series has received more than 3.2 million views.
EXCLUSIVE: Fox is wrapping up a deal for Kieran Fitzgerald to write the script for a reality-based disaster movie loosely inspired by the BBC faux-documentary The Day Britain Stopped. It will be developed as a potential directing vehicle for Ridley Scott.
Film Rites’ Steve Zaillian & Garrett Basch are producing with Scott Free’s Scott, Michael Schaefer, and Elishia Holmes. Kira Goldberg is overseeing for the studio. Fitzgerald is currently adapting The Tiger for Plan B and Focus. He garnered attention for his script Bambi, based on the life of former CIA agent Luis Posada. He’s repped by CAA.
On its fourth day, the Sundance Film Festival is wall to wall with some of Hollywood’s best known actors and actresses — and we don’t mean the ones who show up just to party hop. While the festival can be a great launching pad for emerging filmmakers, Park City has never been shy about letting the already well known show their wares there too. It was created by Robert Redford after all. This year sees a number of famous faces and names get behind the camera with new films. As buyers begin to dig in, expect to see these marquee names generating some serious interest as they play out of their regular position. And then there’s the plethora of Oscar winners and nominees, blockbuster and TV stars and indie superstars in front of the camera — check out our comprehensive list below.
James Franco – Executive Producer, kink; Co-director, Interior. Leather Bar. - Actor, director, conceptual artist, grad student and failed Oscar host, Franco wears many hats. This year, he’s adding producer and co-director for two separate films for Sundance. Franco produced kink, a documentary directed by Christina Voros about the Internet’s biggest producer of BDSM. Franco also co-directed Interior. Leather Bar with Travis Matthews. The film seeks to re-create the 40 minutes of Gay S&M footage rumored to be cut from 1980’s Cruising staring Al Pacino to avoid an X rating. Sure the sexual subject matter of both films is similar but Franco’s ambition is wide ranging. Franco also makes an appearance in front of the camera in Interior. Leather Bar and Lovelace.
Alicia Keys – Executive Producer, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete - The multi-platinum singer/songwriter is no stranger to cinema. More than a few films feature her tunes on their soundtracks and Keys was in front of the camera in 2006’s Smokin’ Aces. However, this Sundance is Keys’ debut as a producer. Directed George Tillman Jr. and starring Skylan Brooks, Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Hudson and Anthony Mackie, the coming of age film could be the start of a whole new career for Keys.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Director/Writer, Don Jon’s Addiction – He sings, he dances, he starred in The Dark Knight Rises and Looper last year, and now Gordon-Levitt slips into the director’s role on the comedy Don Jon’s Addiction. The actor’s directorial debut, which he also wrote the script for, stars Gordon-Levitt himself as a lady’s man who begins seeking a more fulfilling emotional life. Scarlett Jonansson, Julianne Moore, Brie Larson and Tony Danza co-star in the film.
Dave Grohl – Director/Producer, Sound City - No stranger to movie soundtracks, the Foo Fighters frontman and former Nirvana drummer has now moved into the director’s chair with his debut documentary Sound City. Debuting early in the Festival, the film is about the famous Van Nuys studio where Nirvana, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Cheap Trick, Guns and Roses and others have recorded. Even before the Festival began, Gravitas Ventures acquired worldwide VOD to Grohl’s movie.
Julie Delpy/Ethan Hawke – Writers, Before Midnight - This one’s a bit of a cheat because the duo are actually on both sides of the camera at this year’s Sundance. Premiering tonight, the Richard Linklater directed Before Midnight sees Delpy and Hawke return to their roles as Jesse and Celine from 1995’s Before Sunrise and 2004’s Before Sunset. The onscreen duo also retuned to their off screen roles as writers. Like Before Sunset, which was nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay, Delpy and Hawke crafted Before Midnight’s script with Linklater. This year marks the second time the trio have premiered their tale of the perpetually unfulfilled lovers to Sundance –Before Sunrise debuted at the Festival in 1995.
EXCLUSIVE: D.W. Harper has been set to write a new draft of The Forever War for Fox 2000 and Scott Free. It’s a directing vehicle for Ridley Scott, who for 25 years has wanted to helm an adaptation of Joe Haldeman’s 1974 seminal science fiction novel. The hope is to get the project moving with a script by Harper, who most recently wrote All You Need Is Kill, the sci-fi film that is in production with Tom Cruise starring and Doug Liman directing.
I first wrote about this one when the studio acquired the Haldeman book back in 2008, and at that time Scott told me it was “a science-fiction epic, a bit of ‘The Odyssey’ by way of ‘Blade Runner,’ built on a brilliant, disorienting premise.” Scott first pursued the book not long after it was published, but the rights were unavailable for a long time. Oscar-winning Raiders Of The Lost Ark VFX wiz Richard Edlund originally bought the rights with the intention of making his directing debut on the film, but it never got off the ground and finally Scott’s home studio was able to make a deal. His Scott Free is producing, with Vince Gerardis exec producing. Fox 2000’s Rodney Ferrell is steering the pic. Haldeman’s book won the 1975 Nebula Award and the 1976 Hugo Award.
October 31, 2012 – Academy-Award nominated director and producer Ridley Scott (Prometheus, Blade Runner) and Scott Free London are partnering with Orchard Media and Focus Features International on a slate of six genre low-budget feature films over a period of three years. Ridley Scott will executive produce and present the slate which will be focused primarily on horror, thriller and science fiction. The films will be in association with Northern Ireland Screen and will shoot primarily in Northern Ireland using resident crew, cast, services and facilities. Focus Features International will handle world-wide sales.
Ridley Scott said: “Our target is to create a structure that enables filmmakers to push boundaries and to excite audiences. Our proposed model of filmmaking allows us to give directors the opportunity to really innovate through narrative, production techniques and distribution strategies.”
Focus Features International’s Alison Thompson commented: “There’s an appetite and market for high-concept low budget films – that combined with Ridley Scott’s pedigree will be very attractive to international buyers.”
Here’s something you won’t see every day on Deadline. A reader pointed us to the 20-minute short Loom written and directed by Luke Scott, son of Ridley and nephew of Tony. It features Giovanni Ribisi and Jellybean Howie, and Dariusz Wolski is the cinematographer:
For access to a higher resolution version, …
Scott Free President Michael Costigan Leaving To Be Producer; Will Ex-Summit Exec Michael Schaefer Take Post?
UPDATE: Doesn’t look like it will take Ridley and Tony Scott long to name a new president for Scott Free. The name I’m hearing on the short list is Michael Schaefer, the former senior vice president of acquisitions and co-productions at Summit Entertainment who left that company after the consolidation of staff in the spring after the company was acquired by Lionsgate. Stay tuned.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 2:13 PM: Michael Costigan will be leaving his post as president of Scott Free, I’m told. Costigan will move into full-time producing after spending the past seven years with the Fox-based company run by directors Ridley and Tony Scott. Costigan, a former production executive at Columbia Pictures, has already been doing a lot of producing along with managing the considerable volume of directing vehicles for the Scott brothers. I’m told Costigan’s exit is amicable and that the company expects to set a new top executive before the summer is over.
Costigan is currently producing Out Of The Furnace, the Scott Cooper-directed revenge thriller that began as a Brad Ingelsby spec script that initially had Ridley Scott prepared to direct Leonardo DiCaprio. It just wrapped, with Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck and Zoe Saldana heading the cast. He also produced Stoker, the Park Chan-wook-directed drama that stars Nicole Kidman, and he’s also producing The East, which was scripted by The Sound Of My Voice team of Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling, with Marling starring with Ellen Page and Alexander Sarsgaard. Costigan also produced Cyrus and Welcome To The Rileys.
EXCLUSIVE: As Darren Aronofsky’s Noah gets ready to set sail and iconic directors Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg forge ahead with epics about Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, faithful Biblical epics are flourishing in Hollywood. It looks like there is even room for one that takes the most controversial look at the life of Jesus Christ since Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation Of Christ.
I’m told that Muse Productions’ Chris Hanley, whose credits include American Psycho, has stepped up to finance development of a film about Christ. It will be based on Jesus Of Nazareth, a book that director Paul Verhoeven co-wrote after immersing himself in the history and researching the subject for nearly two decades. Verhoeven plans to direct the film, which will be written by Roger Avary. Avary shared the Academy Award for Best Original Script with Quentin Tarantino for Pulp Fiction.
Verhoeven’s take on the life of Jesus Christ discounts all the miracles that inform the New Testament. That includes the virgin birth and the resurrection. Verhoeven doesn’t believe any of them happened. I wrote about Verhoeven’s ambitions in spring 2011, as he and his reps at ICM first tried to find funding — no small feat given some of the theories he put forth in the book.The most controversial: that Jesus might have been the product of his mother being raped by a Roman soldier, which Verhoeven said was commonplace at the time, and that Jesus was a radical prophet who performed exorcisms and was convinced he would find the kingdom of Heaven on earth, and did not know he would be sentenced to die on the cross by Pontius Pilate. That, and the discounting of the miracles that pepper the New Testament, has made this a daunting project to set up.
June 8-10 Weekend Actuals
1. Madagascar 3 (DreamWorks Anim/Paramount) NEW [4,258 Theaters] PG
Friday $20.7M, Saturday $22.6M, Sunday $17.1M, Weekend $60.3M
2. Prometheus (Fox) NEW [3,396 Theaters] R
Friday $21.5M, Saturday $16.0M, Sunday $13.6M, Weekend $51.1M
3. Snow White & The Huntsman (Universal) Week 2 [3,777 Theaters] PG13
Friday $7.5M, Saturday $8.9M, Sunday $6.7M Weekend $23.1M (-59%), Cume $98.5M
4. Men in Black 3 (Columbia/Sony) Week 3 [3,792 Theaters] PG13
Friday $4.3M, Saturday $5.6M, Sunday $3.9M, Weekend $13.9M (-51%), Cume $135.9M
5. The Avengers (Marvel/Disney) Week 6 [3,129 Theaters] PG13
Friday $3.3M, Saturday $4.5M, Sunday $3.4M Weekend $11.2M (-45%), Cume $572.3M
6. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight) Week 6 [1,298 Theaters] PG13
Friday $940K, Saturday $1.4M, Sunday $938K Weekend $3.3M (-27%), Cume $31M
7. What To Expect When You’re Expecting (Lionsgate) Week 4 [2,087 Theaters] PG13
Friday $924K, Saturday $1.1M, Sunday $756K, Weekend $2.8M (-37%), Cume $35.8
8. Battleship (Universal) Week 4 [1,954 Theaters] PG13
Friday $694KK, Saturday $918K, Sunday $664K, Weekend $2.3M (-55%), Cume $59.8M
9. The Dictator (Paramount) Week 4 [1,651 Theaters] R
Friday $714K, Saturday $849K, Sunday $679K Weekend $2.2M (-52%), Cume $55.3M
10. Moonrise Kingdom (Focus) Week 3 [96 Theaters] PG13
Friday $466K, Saturday $637K, Sunday $456K Weekend $1.6M, Cume $3.7M
SUNDAY 1:30 AM, 5TH UPDATE: Any worries about a Summer 2012 domestic box office slump are officially gone. Because overall moviegoing was a whopper weekend: $175M, or +32% from last year. To Hollywood’s surprise, Prometheus (3,396 theaters) edged Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (4,258 theaters) in a dog fight for #1 on Friday. But the toon came back with a +8% kiddie bounce on Saturday to end its opening weekend with a fierce $59.6M. By contrast, the scifi thriller plunged -22% from Friday to Saturday but still ended with a big $49.5M weekend result.
No one least of all Twentieth Century Fox expected its R-rated original playing in less theaters to outgross DreamWorks Animation‘s PG-rated family threequel on opening day. In fact Fox execs kept predicting no more than a $30M-$35M weekend result in a blatant attempt to lower expectations. But Prometheus in North America debuted to an overperforming $3.561M in midnight screenings at 1,368 locations, shooting its Friday gross to $21.4M. The tantalizing combination of Alien‘s Ridley Scott as director and Lost‘s Damon Lindelof as screenwriter, plus Fox’s Avatar-savvy teaser marketing that also kept Prometheus under wraps, really motivated moviegoers. But audiences only bestowed a so-so ‘B’ CinemaScore on Prometheus – because of huge plot holes big enough to drive Mack trucks through. And that did hurt word of mouth just as I predicted and drpped to $16.4M on Saturday. So the film should end the weekend closer to $49M than $50M. Which is stil a solid result for a film the studio claims cost only $125M because of UK tax credits and low CGI costs. (By the way, that ‘R’ rating was blamed on one really gross scene.)
Fox will update overseas numbers later this morning, but the actioner was on fire when it opened internationally a week earlier. Coming into Friday, Prometheus already had amassed $51M from territories that opened last weekend and posted strong opening day numbers out of Australia, Korea and Taiwan.
Audiences loved Madagascar 3 and gave it a straight ‘A’ CinemaScore as usual. And the toon distributed by Paramount took in $20.4M Friday and $22M Saturday to win the weekend with one of DreamWorks’ best results. Toon benefitted from pent-up demand because of the lack of family movies in the marketplace for some time. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted also stampeded out of the gate with early box office results internationally Friday.