Magnolia Pictures plans a theatrical release later this year for Jiro Dreams Of Sushi, the David Gelb-directed documentary about the life and work of master sushi chef Jiro Ono. The film premiered at the Berlinale. Kevin Iwashina of Preferred Content brokered the North American rights deal. Fortissimo Film Sales is handling international.
UPDATE, 10:45 AM: The 10-year contract will take the partnership through the 2020-21 season and calls for 100 regular-season games a year, including for the first time a national broadcast on Thanksgiving Friday. The press release is below.
PREVIOUS, 9:29 AM: There’s a conference call scheduled for later today in which NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NBC Sports Group chairman Dick Ebersol are expected to announce that NBC and Versus have retained broadcast rights to NHL hockey. Bloomberg reports that the package is for 10 years and worth $2 billion. The two networks could match any bid because they own the current rights. Among the bidders was ESPN and Turner Sports, the latter of which pulled out of the race Monday.
NEW YORK (April 19, 2011) — The National Hockey League and the NBC Sports Group have reached agreement on a landmark 10-year television and media rights deal, taking the partnership through the 2020-21 season. The expanded partnership, under which NBC remains the exclusive network home and VERSUS the exclusive cable home of the NHL® in the U.S., is highlighted by the first-ever national distribution of all Stanley Cup® Playoffs contests, including, for the first time, exclusive coverage starting with the Conference Semifinals. The agreement also calls for the NBC Sports Group to televise 100 regular season games per year and introduces a national NBC broadcast on Thanksgiving Friday. The announcement was made today by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Sports Group.
Lionsgate has formally announced its acquisition of North American rights to Machine Gun Preacher, the fact-based drama about Sam Childers, a reformed badass who established an orphanage in war torn Africa and then supervised a militia to protect the kids. The film stars Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan and Michael Shannon, with Marc Forster directing the Jason Keller script based on the real life exploits of Sam Childers. Deadline told you all this last month after first reporting on the worthy project getting Forster and Butler in January. What’s new? They start shooting July 5 in Detroit and South Africa, and Madeline Carroll, Kathy Baker and Souleymane Sy Savane are also in the cast. It gives Lionsgate production execs something to think about while management fights off Carl Icahn.
In a high six-figure upfront deal, Warner Bros and De Line Pictures won a heated auction for screen rights to Ready Player One, the debut novel by Fanboys screenwriter Ernie Cline. The movie auction occurred hours a day after the book scored a mid six-figure publishing deal from Random House for North American rights. Cline will write the script.
Donald De Line will produce with Dan Farah, who orchestrated the screen sale along with Foundry Literary. De Line worked the negotiations from New Orleans, where he is shooting Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds and director Martin Campbell. The book had Paramount and Fox chasing it hard, as well as producers that included Twilight’s Temple Hill Entertainment. Buyers sparked to the opportunity to use technology to create a virtual world, and they liked the relatable protagonist. Cline has already made seven-figures for his first book, and if the film gets made, his movie deal alone will be worth seven-figures.
The book focuses on teen Wade Watts, who escapes his bleak surroundings by logging into Oasis, a globally networked utopia where users lead idyllic lives. The game’s eccentric founder dies and offers his billion dollar fortune as the grand prize in an elaborate treasure hunt. Watts competes against rival game players and corporate foes who’ll do anything, in the Oasis world and in the real world to reach the treasure first. Paradigm and Farah Films & Management and attorney Matt Galsor rep Cline. International book rights are now being auctioned.
Sting is getting into the documentary business. The former Police front man and co-founder of The Rainforest Fund, and his manager/producing partner Kathryn Schenker, bought film rights to The Vertical Farm, the book by Dr. Dickson Despommier that the St. Martin’s Press imprint Thomas Dunne Books will publish in October.
The book lays out a system of farming in which food is grown within tall city buildings. Despommier, a professor at Columbia U, has lectured on vertical farms around the world. The film will track the first vertical farm planned to be constructed in a major U.S. city. The book deal was brokered by IPG’s Joel Gotler and Mel Parker Books.
Sting is separately writing an autobiographical musical in partnership with Brian Yorkie, who won the Pulitzer for his score for Next to Normal.
Fanboys screenwriter Ernie Cline scored a mid-six figure advance from Random House for North American rights to Ready Player One, his debut young adult novel. International rights are being shopped, and the movie crowd will be kicking the tires on it starting tomorrow Farah Films & Management’s Dan Farah and Foundry Literary are shopping it. A teenager named Wade Watts escapes his bleak surrounds by logging into Oasis, a globally networked virtual utopia where users lead idyllic alternate lives. When the game’s eccentric billionaire creator dies, he offers up his fortune as the prize in an elaborate treasure hunt. Watts is pitted against powerful corporate foes and ruthless competitors who’ll do anything, in the Oasis and real world, to reach the treasure first.
EXCLUSIVE: FX has snapped up the TV rights to this summer’s first surprise boxoffice hit The Karate Kid. I hear the cable network quietly made the deal with Sony a couple of weeks before the film’s opening, a smart move given the fact that at the time the kid-friendly reboot was tracking only OK and projected to make half of the $55.7 million it grossed in its opening weekend. But the timing of the deal wouldn’t impact the price FX will be paying for the film as I hear it is the standard for a well-performing movie 12% of the final domestic boxoffice, capped at $24 million if the movie crosses the $200 million mark (Karate Kid is at $67.7 million through Tuesday.)
Additionally, FX also has picked up a package of three 20th Century Fox movies: A-Team, which also opened last weekend with a below-expectations $25.7 million, as well as earlier releases Date Night and Tooth Fairy. Karate Kid and A-Team are eyed for a late 2012 premiere on FX, while Date Night and Tooth Fairy would be rolled out a little earlier that year.
A-Team and Date Night are expected to play well on TV: A-Team was a popular TV show before it was made into a movie, and Date Night is toplined by TV stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey. The price for the 3 movies in the package is said to be in the 10%-12% of their boxoffice range. Date …
Shanghai, June 11, 2010: On the eve of the Shanghai Film Festival, Fortissimo Films Chairman Michael J. Werner and The Weinstein Company’s Bob and Harvey Weinstein jointly announced that The Weinstein Company has pre-bought North American and South African rights to Fortissimo’s REIGN OF ASSASSINS (JIANYU JIANGHU). The film was produced by John Woo (FACE/OFF, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II) and Terence Chang (FACE/OFF, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II) through their Lion Rock Production banner along with Galloping Horse and Media Asia. Su Chao-Pin (SILK, BETTER THAN SEX) and Woo directed the martial arts epic which is a fast-paced action thriller set in the Ming Dynasty and stars Michelle Yeoh (CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON, SUNSHINE), as a skilled assassin who falls in love with the son of a man who was killed by her gang. Unaware that he also is a trained martial artist, their love blossoms and then tensions rise as the past comes back to haunt them.
REIGN OF ASSASSINS is expected to hit theaters in China later this year and The Weinstein Company is currently considering coinciding release dates in North American and South Africa.
Fortissimo secured the rights to REIGN OF ASSASSINS outside China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South East Asia in October 2009.
This month, Woo will head the jury at the 13th Shanghai International Film Festival and in September, he will receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Film Festival.
New York/Los Angeles – June 9, 2010 Fox International Channels has picked up all International Television and Home Video rights to AMC’s first wholly-owned original production series, The Walking Dead, based on a popular comic book franchise by Robert Kirkman. The deal includes a first-run window on all FIC’s outlets in addition to full distribution rights for the life of the series, outside of the U.S. and Canada. AMC will premiere the six-episode season one of The Walking Dead this October, followed by a global premiere across FIC.
EXCLUSIVE: Just because Brad Pitt had the good sense to bow out of the newspaper industry drama State of Play doesn’t mean he’s not infatuated with the ink-stained wretches who practice the craft. Using their development deal with Reliance, Pitt and his Plan B partner Dede Gardner have acquired screen rights to The Imperfectionist, the Tom Rachman novel published this spring by Dial Press. The book, about the inner workings of an English-language newspaper in Rome, was brokered by CAA. It is one of several projects acquired for Plan B by Reliance since the India-based giant staked the company to a deal that gives Plan B another option when home studio Paramount Pictures says no.
Reliance makes quick buying decisions and lets its producers move quickly. For instance, Pitt and Gardner just hired Alfonso Gomez-Rejon to write and direct its recently acquired Jonathan Lethem novel Fortress of Solitude, also bought with Reliance money. Gomez-Rejon is getting his writing and directing shot after serving as second unit director on the Plan B-produced Eat Pray Love and Babel.
The Imperfectionists was written by Rachman, a former wire service reporter whose stint in the AP office in Rome informs his tale. Sure, the declining role of print dailies adds to the angst, but the focus is on the reporters and editors and the collision of their personal lives and professional ambitions.
Simon Fuller has teamed up with former Barclay Capital banker Roger Jenkins to try and buy CKX, the entertainment group which owns the rights to the TV talent show. Jenkins and Fuller have amassed a $1 billion war chest to fund the CKX buyout. They are writing to the CKX board with their offer today. Fuller’s offer trumps a $550-560 million offer in March from One Equity Partners, the JP Morgan private equity arm. One Equity Partners had been working with former CKX chairman/CEO Bob Sillerman and media investor Allen Shapiro. (EXCLUSIVE: Allen Shapiro Behind Planned Deal To Buy ‘American Idol’ Parent CKX) This latest offer represents a substantial premium on CKX’s current share price, which values the company at $395 million. Clearly, Fuller believes there’s a lot of mileage left in Idol, despite the latest U.S. series ending with weak ratings and questions over its prospects.
Jenkins has close ties to investors in the Middle East, where he helped broker a £5.8 billion investment in Barclays through Qatar and Abu Dhabi, says the Financial Times. He has hosted charity events, rubbing shoulders with celebrities including Bono and George Clooney.
Fuller’s move pits him against former CEO Sillerman, who remains CKX’s largest shareholder with a 21% stake. Fuller wants to buy back 19, the company behind Idol, which he sold to CKX for $174 million. …
ABC Family has acquired the basic cable TV rights to NBC/DirecTV’s high school drama Friday Night Lights in a deal with NBC Universal Domestic TV Distribution. The deal gives ABC Family the rights to five seasons of the critically praised series whose upcoming fifth season on DirectTV and NBC is expected to be its last. Season 4 of the show now airs on NBC, while Season 5 will premiere on DirecTV on October 28.
ABC Family will air FNL starting with its first season, which is tentatively set to begin running on the cable network in September. The series, based on the feature and the book of the same name, is produced by UMS, Imagine and Film 44. Peter Berg, who wrote and directed the pilot, is executive producing with Jason Katims, Brian Grazer, David Nevins and Sarah Aubrey. Like FNL, most ABC Family series are set in high school, including flagship drama The Secret Life of American Teenager. The network’s off-network series include Gilmore Girls, That ’70s Show and Full House.
Legendary Pictures has announced a movie rights deal for Mass Effect, the Electronic Arts/BioWare videogame for Xbox 360 that will be co-financed and distributed by Warner Bros. Mark Protosevich, who adapted Marvel Entertainment’s Thor, is in talks to write the script. The scifi series takes place in 2183 and follows Commander Shepard of the SS Normandy as he leads a team on a mission to defeat an ancient alien race that invades the galaxy every 50,000 years, wiping out all organic life. Legendary is separately working on an adaptation of World of Warcraft with former Spider-Man director Sam Raimi. Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni produce with Avi and Ari Arad.
Fox 2000 has acquired movie rights to The Secret Journeys of Jack London: The Wild, the first installment of a young adult supernatural adventure series by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon. Harper Collins just acquired the series and will publish the first volume in March, 2011. Golden and Lebbon will write the script. Pete Donaldson will produce through his Donaldson Media and Consulting label.
The story follows a young Jack London, before he became the author of Call of the Wild, White Fang and Sea Wolf. He treks the frozen north in the midst of the Gold Rush. He finds many perils in the Yukon Territory, and some of them are monstrous legends come to life. While movie deals are currently hard to come by, this is another example of a film deal for a genre-bending novel that adds a graphic novel sensibility to reinterpret historical figures or literary classics. Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov are teaming on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the Seth Grahame-Smith novel, Lionsgate and Natalie Portman are teamed on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Producers Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher just optioned Paul is Undead, the Alan Goldsher novel that re-imagines the heyday of the Beatles,–if John, Paul, George and Ringo were flesh-eating zombies.
Golden previously wrote Talent, a graphic novel currently in development at Universal. Lebbon’s story Pay the Ghost is being developed at Sidney Kimmel Entertainment.
Sony Pictures Classics has acquired U.S. and Australia/New Zealand rights to Of Gods and Men, the Xavier Beauvois-directed drama that unspooled in competition at Cannes. Deal was made by sales agent Wild Bunch. Drama is the story of eight French Christian monks who live in harmony with their Muslim brothers in a monastery high in the mountains of Meghreb. That peace is tested by growing violence in the region, and the refusal by the monks to leave their home.
Earlier today, IFC Films acquired U.S. rights to the Gregg Araki-directed Kaboom, which screened out of competition and the Director’s Fortnight film We Are What We Are, which was directed by Jorge Michel Grau.
Sony Pictures Classics has acquired North American rights to In A Better World, the new film by Susanne Bier, the Danish director of After the Wedding. Deal was made by Scandinavian sales company TrustNordisk. Drama is a clash between two Danish families. SPC partners Michael Barker and Tom Bernard just acquired Mike Leigh’s Another Year.
How tough has the Cannes Film Festival marketplace been for domestic acquisitions? The deal of the day so far is Magnet Releasing’s U.S. rights acquisition of Rubber, the Cannes Critic’s Week offering about a psychopathic car tire with telepathic powers named Robert. It would be tempting to call the market flat or tired. Too easy. Here’s the teaser trailer:
Magnolia Pictures acquired US rights to the Alex Gibney-directed untitled documentary about the downfall of New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer. Gibney showed a work in progress version of the film at the Tribeca Film Festival. It chronicles the rise of Spitzer as a law and order attorney general who battled corruption on Wall Street. That led to the Governor’s Mansion, but his rise as a national political star ended when he was caught up in a prostitution scandal. Spitzer, who is resurfacing as a pundit, took his lumps by sitting for interviews with Gibney to explain the demons that took him down. The film was produced by A&E IndieFilms and Wider Film Projects. Cinetic Media made the deal.
EXCLUSIVE: An auction of screen rights for the PlayStation3 game Heavy Rain is coming to a close. I’m told a deal is near with Unique Features, the film shingle started by Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne after they exited New Line.
Using their own money, Shaye and Lynne posted top bid in an auction held by CAA on behalf of game developers Quantic Dream.
Heavy Rain has sold 1 million units since its release in February. The game’s combination of murder, rain and an inherent atmospheric gloom evokes memories of the David Fincher-directed Seven, one of the formative blockbusters at New Line when Shaye and Lynne grew that company into a rival to the majors.
Players hunt the “Origami Killer,” a serial murderer who drowns his victims four days after they are abducted, leaving only a small origami figure and an orchid on the corpse. The game becomes a procedural in which four characters try to solve the crime after another potential victim is kidnapped.
Unique has a first look deal with Warner Bros, but Shaye liked it enough to use his own money and not wait for approval to buy it. A deal should be sealed shortly.