Starz has put in development Airborne, a drama series from writer Gideon Yago (The Newsroom) and Spartacus executive producer Rob Tapert. Airborne is a coming-of-age story set at the dawn of the Vietnam War. It follows a young helicopter crew as they fight for survival, sanity, their souls, and each other in a country — and war — that are descending into chaos. “Even though we are using Vietnam and the early days of air cavalry as a backdrop, our hope is to bring the audience timeless stories about what makes a hero and how a group of young people fight to retain their humanity in the midst of a surreal and terrible conflict,” said CAA-repped Yago, who will write the script. He is a former MTV News and CBS News writer and correspondent. “Airborne will capture the human story of war — a story of love, loss and sacrifice,” said Tapert, who will executive produce, while Aaron Lam will produce for Starz. The announcement comes on the heels of FX putting in development a limited series about the Vietnam War from Stephen Gaghan.
Angelfall was initially self-published by author Susan Ee before it was courted by publishers and finally released in the fall by Amazon Children’s Publishing. The second book in the young-adult fantasy series is due next year. Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert and Good Universe have acquired multipicture rights for a feature adaptation with Raimi and Tapert producing and Good Universe’s Joe Drake and Nathan Kahane exec producing. “Susan is a brilliant writer”, Raimi said. “She has created a fantastic world with instantly engaging and real characters. I immediately connected with the material and knew that she had conceived the perfect combination for a great fantasy film.”
Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell are readying to remake their cult horror hit The Evil Dead, tapping Fede Alvarez to write and direct the redo and putting the project on the fast track via Raimi, Tapert and Nathan Kahane’s Ghost House Pictures. Alvarez, who came to the producers’ attention via his short film Panic Attack, penned the script with Rodo Sayagues, and scribe Diablo Cody is doing revisions on the latest draft. In the original 1981 film that starred Campbell, five friends at a remote cabin in the woods unknowingly summon demons from an ancient civilization, causing all sorts of bloody and gory problems. The movie spawned a pair of sequels: Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. Raimi, Tapert and Campbell, the original film’s producers, will produce the new incarnation, and Ghost House partners Kahane and Joe Drake will executive produce. Nicole Brown and J.R. Young will oversee the project for Ghost House. Lionsgate will handle international sales on the film. Two things come to mind: The in-camera special effects were the best parts of the original, so it will be interesting to see how modern VFX will be utilized. Also, the news that Juno scribe Cody is on the case is interesting, though she does have a horror film under her belt having penned the Megan Fox-starrer Jennifer’s Body, which didn’t do much at the box office. Stay tuned on both fronts.
EXCLUSIVE: While the outbreak of zombie and vampire films has been well chronicled, Hollywood has also become flush with Frankenstein films. The latest is an adaptation of the Peter Ackroyd novel The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein, which has just gotten Pulitzer-winning Proof playwright David Auburn signed to write the script. The project is set with RT Features, and Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert’s Ghost House Pictures. The story covers the youthful days of Frankenstein, who begins experimenting with corpses, influenced by the outspoken English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose Mary wrote the book. She’s a character in the film as well. RT Features’ Rodrigo Teixeira will produce with Tapert and Ilene Staple, while Fernando Loureiro, Jeff Vespa and Ghost House’s Nathan Kahane and Lawrence Grey will be exec producers.
That’s just one of several Frankenflicks. Universal is developing a new version of the 1931 studio classic movie with Guillermo del Toro and Scott Stuber; Summit Entertainment is developing This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, an adaptation of the Kenneth Oppel novel that is being produced by Twilight Saga’s Karen Rosenfelt; and Columbia Pictures and producer Matt Tomach recently acquired Frankenstein, a contemporary re-telling of the famous tale based on a pitch by Craig Fernandez. If that’s not enough, former Guns n Roses guitar hero Slash, whose Slasher Films is teamed with Scout Productions on a Jay Russell-attached Wake the Dead, a Frankenstein tale based on the graphic novel by Steve Niles (30 Days of Night). And let’s not forget Fox 2000’s remake of the 1975 camp classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, last heard from around Halloween, when the studio courted Glee’s Ryan Murphy, right after he wrapped an episode devoted to the original movie.
UPDATE: Mandate Pictures has won the auction for The Day of the Triffids. The film will be produced by Ghost House, the partnership between Mandate, Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert. The deal is seven-figures and I’ve heard it’s the most that Mandate has paid for a project package. Raimi wants to direct it; the original was one of his favorite films as a boy. Raimi and Tapert will board the producer roster, joining Michael Preger, Angry Films’ Don Murphy and Susan Montford, and Mark Gordon, who previously worked with Raimi on A Simple Plan.
EXCLUSIVE: Suitors are bidding on a rights package to do a new version of The Day of the Triffids. I’m told that Warner Bros bidding for David Yates, who graduated from directing the British miniseries State of Play to do the final four Harry Potter films. Among the other bidders is Mandate Pictures, on behalf of Sam Raimi. The deal will be in the seven-figures when the dust clears, and it was wrapped up by Mandate’s Nathan Kahane.