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TNT Developing Runaway Bride Drama Produced By Robert Zemeckis

By | Friday November 2, 2012 @ 4:55pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: TNT has put in development Cold Feet, a drama executive produced by Robert Zemeckis. The project, in the vein of It’s A Wonderful Life, centers on a runaway bride who, when she wishes she had never been born, sees the effect her absence has on the people she loves and decides to stick around to make things right. It is written/co-executive produced by Dave Ryan (General Hospital, All My Children), who started his career in features, before segueing to daytime TV. This is his foray into primetime TV. Jack Rapke, Zemeckis and Jackie Levine executive produce through Lupara Prods. Ryan is repped by CAA, which also reps Lupara, as well as Alan Gasmer, and Nick Gladden.

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Paramount’s Oscar Hopeful Takes ‘Flight’ With Bi-Coastal Interactive Launch — Minus Denzel Washington

By | Monday October 15, 2012 @ 9:26pm PDT
Pete Hammond

Paramount, expanding ways to reach awards voters, got interactive Monday with a bi-coastal launch of its Oscar-bait drama Flight, including a special screening and Q&A in New York beamed to four Arclight theaters in the Los Angeles area and another in San Francisco for invited guild members and press. Taking place the day after the film’s world premiere as the closing-night attraction of the 50th New York Film Festival, director Robert Zemeckis, writer John Gatins and several cast members including John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood, and Melissa Leo took part in the interactive post-screening Q&A that featured tweeted questions from the California venues and live queries from the NY crowd — many industry-voter types. Paramount clearly found a nice way to expand its Big Apple premiere, and it went off almost without a hitch. Almost.

The only downer for the studio was jettisoning the scheduled appearance of Flight star Denzel Washington, who was in attendance for the premiere Sunday night. He “was taken ill” according to the announcement at the outset of the Q&A, followed by audible groans from the audience. For the money being spent on this, as well as its awards launch, losing Denzel had to be a big disappointment for the studio. Still, the rest of this digital-age awards event went off without a hitch with premium network Epix teaming with Paramount to stage the interactive, multi-city event.

Other companies have begun doing this sort of thing including The Weinstein Company, which staged a couple of live interactive events like this last year with Meryl Streep among others. But the major studios, more bottom-line-oriented and not usually on the front lines of new Oscar campaign techniques, are suddenly jumping on board if recent activity is an indication. Last week, Disney/DreamWorks staged a “Conversation With Steven Spielberg And Daniel Day Lewis” following a nine-city screening of Lincoln at which audience members (mostly students) in those cities were able to text questions to the same AMC Lincoln (appropiate name) Plaza theatre that hosted today’s Flight screening. In the past, most awards-season guild screening Q&As (and they number in the hundreds) were simply for the audience that showed up and not usually even taped. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Flight’

Paramount‘s Flight stars Denzel Washington as a hero airline pilot with a secret and is Robert Zemeckis’ first live-action film in more than a decade. John Goodman, Melissa Leo and Don Cheadle co-star in the movie, written by John Gatins. The studio is positioning this one for an awards-season run: it closes the New York Film Festival on Sunday and opens wide November 2. Here’s the trailer:

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NYFF Lands Robert Zemeckis’ ‘Flight’ As Closing Night Film

By | Thursday August 9, 2012 @ 12:13pm PDT
Mike Fleming

New York, NY, August 8, 2012 – The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced today that Robert Zemeckis’s FLIGHT will make its World Premiere as the Closing Night film for the upcoming 50th New York Film Festival (September 28 – October 14).

“We’re delighted to welcome Robert Zemeckis to the New York Film Festival for the first time. A director equally known for delighting audiences as well as for pushing the technological limits of filmmaking, Zemeckis has created with FLIGHT a remarkable film about one man’s journey to some of the darkest parts of his soul,” says Richard Peña, Selection Committee Chair & Program Director, The Film Society of Lincoln Center.

An action-packed mystery thriller, Academy Award winner, Denzel Washington stars in Robert Zemeckis’s FLIGHT as Whip Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot, who miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every passenger on board. Although he is immediately acclaimed as a hero, the legal, moral and ethical aspects of Whip’s behavior before and after the accident are much more ambiguous than initially meet the public eye. FLIGHT is a compelling drama anchored by a great performance from one of our most distinguished actors. The stellar supporting cast includes John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Melissa Leo, Bruce Greenwood and Kelly Reilly. The Paramount Pictures release is due in theaters on November 2.

Rose Kuo, Executive Director,

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Robert Zemeckis Signs Overall Deal With Fox TV Studios

By | Wednesday August 8, 2012 @ 10:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Robert Zemeckis is making a major move into television, inking a deal with Fox TV Studios. Under the overall pact, the Back To The Future writer/director Zemeckis and his producing partner Jack Rapke will develop and produce original programming for cable through their company ImageMovers. “Bob and Jack are a rare breed, as gifted and accomplished creatively as they are in production; we are excited and determined to make them as much of a dynamic brand in television as they are in film”, said FtvS president David Madden. He notes that he has had a long-standing relationship with both Zemeckis and Rapke as he served as an executive on the Zemeckis-directed Romancing The Stone and made many deals with Rapke in his previous role as a top agent at CAA. “So we’re looking optimistically back to the future”, Madden quipped.

Zemeckis, Rapke and partner Steve Starkey formed their company ImageMovers in 1998. Primarily focused on movies, their first feature was box office hit Cast Away, directed by Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks. The company’s sole series credit to date is Showtime’s period drama The Borgias, now in production on its third season. With its cable focus, FtvS seems a good fit for Zemeckis whose previous series efforts have been primarily in cable, except for the Back To The Future kids cartoon. Before The Borgias, he executive produced anthology series Tales From the Crypt and Perversions Of Science, both for HBO. … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Robert Zemeckis-Directed ‘Flight’

By | Wednesday June 6, 2012 @ 6:12pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Here’s an early trailer for Flight, Robert Zemeckis’ return to live-action directing after his foray into performance capture animation. It is nice to see the helmer of movies like Forrest Gump, Cast Away and Back To The Future return to the screen, particularly with Denzel Washington as a troubled pilot who saves his passengers in a crisis, but has some baggage that endangers his career.

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Leslie Zemeckis Making ‘Bound By Flesh’ Docu On Siamese Vaudeville Sisters

By | Wednesday April 11, 2012 @ 10:36am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Leslie and Robert Zemeckis are teaming on Bound By Flesh, a documentary she will direct on Daisy and Violet Hilton, Siamese sisters joined at the hip who graduated from wax museums and the carnival sideshow circuit to become the biggest moneymaking act on vaudeville. At their peak, they worked alongside Jack Benny, Bob Hope and Burns and Allen. Robert Zemeckis, her husband, will be executive producer, with Jackie Levine producing.

Born in Brighton, England, the sisters were conjoined twins and their mother, a single barmaid, sold them to her boss, who sniffed a freak show fortune. They were taught to dance and sing, and were exploited throughout their childhood until they eventually sued and won their freedom. They went on to have a successful career until the business phased out. Zemeckis is planning a spring, 2013 release. Zemeckis helmed the documentary Behind the Burly Q, and created the one-woman burlesque-inspired show Staar: She’s Back and Mistresser Than Ever!, and she recently produced the film Staar, which stars Carrie Fisher and Jeffrey Tambor. Her docu Behind the Burly Q is currently airing on Showtime.

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Universal Buys Novel Manuscript ‘Demonologist’ For ImageMovers

By | Wednesday February 22, 2012 @ 4:16pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal has acquired Demonologist, a novel manuscript by Andrew Pyper. The book will be sold at auction shortly, but most important the film project will be produced by ImageMovers partners Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey. The studio made a preemptive deal for rights to the manuscript. The plot: When a professor who studies Paradise Lost accepts a free trip to Italy, a demonic spirit appears to kill his daughter, and he must go on a dark journey of discovery in hopes of getting her back. Pyper is repped by UTA and Toronto-based Anne McDermid & Associates.

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‘Back To The Future’ Heading To Broadway?

By | Thursday February 2, 2012 @ 9:34am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Will Robert Zemeckis’ 1985 classic Back To The Future become the latest film to get a Broadway stage production? I’m told that Zemeckis is in early talks with his co-writer Bob Gale and the film’s composer Alan Silvestri to explore a stage transfer. A stage musical would be an intriguing way to reintroduce a franchise which, over three films, grossed nearly $1 billion worldwide. Zemeckis’ ImageMovers would be involved if this goes forward. The time travel film, which starred Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, holds up as well as the other live-action films Zemeckis directed. I’m still pissed that Universal scrapped the theme park ride based on the film. Silvestri, by the way, composed the music for such Zemeckis films as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump and Cast Away.

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Parkes & MacDonald Plan Feature Version Of Jon Robin Baitz’ Play ‘Other Desert Cities’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald have acquired film rights to Other Desert Cities, the Jon Robin Baitz stage play. Parkes/MacDonald used the development fund it launched with Imagenation Abu Dhabi to make the deal. Baitz will write the script and will co-produce, with Parkes and MacDonald producing. They haven’t yet involved a studio.

The play opened on Broadway at the Booth Theatre this month after a run last season at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre. In the play, Stacy Keach and Stockard Channing play an old Hollywood couple who’d once counted Ronald and Nancy Reagan as close friends. Their retirement to Palm Springs is upended by continuing friction with their kids, a reality TV producer and a novelist daughter who has gotten past her writer’s block by writing a tell-all memoir that bares family secrets.

Parkes and MacDonald produced the screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sweeney Todd, and they adapted Catch Me If You Can, for the stage (they produced the film). They are currently in production on the Robert Zemeckis-directed Flight starring Denzel Washington, and they are in post-production on Men In Black 3D, which Sony releases May 25, 2012.

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Robert Zemeckis Sets Writers For ‘Garden Gnome Attack’ Film

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Chad Damiani and JP Lavin have just been hired to adapt How To Survive A Garden Gnome Attack for Robert Zemeckis and his Imagemovers banner. The film is a live action film (the garden gnomes will be animated), based on the Chuck Sambuchino novel, which was optioned by Sony Pictures Animation. Zemeckis and his ImageMovers partners Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey are producing with The Gotham Group’s Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Eric Robinson. The book is a survival guide, preparing the homeowner on the off chance the lawn ornaments stage a home invasion. The intention is to make an edgy PG-13 version, so the gnomes will be scary. Zemeckis is developing the film as a potential directing vehicle. The scribes’ most recent credit is Max Steel for Paramount and producer Joe Roth, and they adapted the comic book Geronimo for producers Alexandra Milchan and Antonio Moura Santos Jr. The writers are repped by WME and Luber/Roklin.

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OSCARS: Animation Feature Race Heats Up – But Will Spielberg’s ‘Tintin’ Make The Cut?

Pete Hammond

There is always controversy about what is true animation, particularly with the motion capture process which uses real performances by actors and then essentially animates the scenes. I’m told that key members in the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’s animation branch conferred Tuesday night for a meeting which lasted 4 hours. Among the topics said to come up was the issue of motion capture (aka performance capture), and an insider with knowledge of the situation told Deadline that they “apparently” have decided to send a letter to the filmmakers of Mars Needs Moms, Happy Feet 2 and Tintin asking them what their “intent” was in the use of the Mo Cap process before deciding whether those films qualify. In its formal rules, the Academy states that “motion capture by itself is not an animation technique” and that the films must be done in frame-by-frame animation.

This year, 3 potential nominees use the Mo Cap process: director Simon Wells’ box office bomb Mars Needs Moms (from its co-producer Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers), George Miller’s sequel to his Oscar-winning Happy Feet, and most notably Steven Spielberg’s long-awaited entry into the animation world The Adventures of Tintin (which he also produced with Peter Jackson and Kathleen Kennedy). Based on the Academy’s past actions, it is likely that all 3 would qualify, and it would seem unlikely that the Academy would take on Oscar winners Zemeckis, Miller and Spielberg on … Read More »

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John Goodman Boards Paramount’s ‘Flight’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: John Goodman has joined the cast of the Robert Zemeckis-directed Flight, which stars Denzel Washington as an airline pilot who averts a plane crash, only to come under a cloud for possible substance abuse problems. Goodman will play a friend of the pilot who helps him come to terms with his problems. Goodman, who stars in the Michel Hazanavicius-directed silent film The Artist, is shooting the Ben Affleck-directed Argo and most recently wrapped the Stephen Daldry-directed Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Goodman’s repped by Gersh.

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Paramount And Robert Zemeckis Eye Kelly Reilly For ‘Flight’ Lead

By | Monday September 12, 2011 @ 6:55am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount is negotiating with Kelly Reilly to play the female lead opposite Denzel Washington in Flight, the Robert Zemeckis-directed thriller. This is a real opportunity for the British actress, who scores a role that a lot of actresses wanted. The short list going into the weekend was Reilly, Olivia Wilde and Dominique McElligott. In the John Gatins-scripted drama, Reilly is negotiating to play Nicole Devlin, a drug addict who is at rock bottom when she meets Whip (Washington), a commercial airline pilot who heroically flies a damaged plane to safety, saving saving 98 lives on a flight carrying 106 people. That achievement comes under a cloud when an investigation ensues over whether or not he had been drinking. The pilot and the girl become friends as each tries to get their demons under control. Reilly, whose credits include Sherlock Holmes, its upcoming sequel and Pride & Prejudice, is repped by ICM and Troika in the UK.

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It’s Official: Robert Zemeckis And Denzel Washington Aboard Paramount’s ‘Flight’

By | Friday September 9, 2011 @ 1:26pm PDT

Deadline revealed a couple of weeks ago that Robert Zemeckis was dropping out of the Warner Bros drama Replay so he could direct Denzel Washington in the Paramount thriller Flight. Paramount just made that move official today:

HOLLYWOOD, CA (September 9, 2011) — Paramount Pictures announced today that Academy Award ® winner Denzel Washington will star, and Academy Award ® winning director Robert Zemeckis will helm, FLIGHT for the studio. Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald will produce under the Parkes/MacDonald production banner along with Zemeckis, Steve Starkey, and Jack Rapke under their ImageMovers banner. The movie is set to begin shooting this October in Atlanta, GA.

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Paul Greengrass In ‘Fear Index,’ Robert Zemeckis Out Of ‘Replay’ As He Takes ‘Flight’ With Denzel Washington

Mike Fleming

Back in June, Deadline revealed that Fox 2000 had acquired the Robert Harris thriller novel Fear Index, about a scientist who uses a revolutionary system of computer algorithms to trade on the volatility of the world’s financial markets. His hedge fund is wildly successful until he is targeted by an intruder who breaks into his home. At the time, I’d heard that Paul Greengrass was attached to direct, and his reps at CAA denied it. I wrote it anyway. Now, Harris has said in an interview for his soon to be published book that Greengrass is indeed going to direct and the filmmaker’s reps are now acknowledging it’s true. The novel will be published next month in the UK and January in the US. Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark and Jenno Topping are the producers. and Harris is scripting it. Greengrass next directs the Somali pirate pic A Captain’s Duty with Tom Hanks starring for Sony Pictures.

Robert Zemeckis has officially dropped out of the Warner Bros drama Replay, and the studio is trying to put the Jason Smilovic-scripted film back together with another filmmaker. Zemeckis exited because he has finally committed to direct Denzel Washington in the Paramount thriller Flight. Read More »

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Universal Makes Two-Year Deal With Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers

By | Tuesday August 2, 2011 @ 4:47pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Universal has closed a two-year first-look producing deal with Robert Zemeckis and his ImageMovers shingle. ImageMovers will stay in its current headquarters and will not be based on the Universal lot. There doesn’t appear to be a specific movie that Zemeckis will make that triggered the deal; rather, studio brass just wanted to be in business with them. Zemeckis and partners Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey had a rather unceremonious exit from Disney, closing its Marin County animation facility and then watching the Zemeckis-produced performance capture film Mars Needs Moms flop badly at the box office. Zemeckis has devoted himself to the 3D performance capture format, but that seems to have run its course. Every studio is vying to have Zemeckis direct a live-action film, even though the studios know that his company deal is a very rich one. He is the guy, after all, who directed Cast Away and Forrest Gump, and he’s responsible for the Back To The Future franchise that was huge for Universal. Zemeckis has been mentioned as a possible director on several projects including the Paramount drama Flight, for which Denzel Washington has been mentioned as possible star.

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Paramount Wants To Take ‘Flight’ With Robert Zemeckis

By | Wednesday April 20, 2011 @ 6:58pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures is in early discussions with Robert Zemeckis to direct Flight, a live-action feature that has been scripted by John Gatins. Denzel Washington is loosely attached. Zemeckis, who has focused for the last decade on directing and producing performance capture animation films, last directed a live-action film with 2000′s Cast Away. Flight has similar harrowing moments to the unforgettable airplane crash that left Tom Hanks stranded on a deserted island. The fictional tale revolves around a commercial airline pilot named Whip Whitaker. When his plane malfunctions and a crash seems imminent, he saves the day with some heroic flying and manages to land the plane with minimal casualties. He’s instantly hailed as a hero, but as an investigation into the cause of the crash unfolds, it becomes clear that he was flying under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The film is the pilot’s journey as he is encouraged to wear a hero label he thinks he doesn’t deserve, while the pilot’s union and airline try to keep the facts under cover because of the high stakes involved. Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald are producing.

Gatins, who scripted Real Steel and just signed on to script the sequel to that Hugh Jackman-starrer, had long intended to direct Flight. But Zemeckis has been looking hard at a number of scripts to mark his return to live-action directing, and Paramount became very interested in making a deal with the director. This is … Read More »

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DreamWorks Revs Up ‘Real Steel’ Sequel

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Disney doesn’t release Real Steel until Oct. 7, but already DreamWorks is getting the machinery moving on a sequel to the Shawn Levy-directed drama that stars Hugh Jackman. I’m told the studio has commissioned John Gatins, who scripted the first film, to start on the second installment. It’s unusual to see that occur so early, but I can recall it happening when Warner Bros commissioned a Hangover sequel after early tests showed the movie was going to be a big hit. Development on the sequel’s just getting under way, and deals will have to be made with Jackman and Levy. Gatins is repped by UTA.

DreamWorks has gotten strong response to internal screenings of the film, and at a CinemaCon presentation of footage in Las Vegas. The film is a Rocky-meets-Transformers tale of a prize fighter whose pugilistic skills are rendered obsolete when human boxers are replaced by robots. The fighter (Jackman) becomes a boxing promoter and finds a discarded robot that wins and wins. The fighter also discovers he has a 13-year old son, who comes along for the ride as the robot heads toward the top against scary competition. Read More »

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