EXCLUSIVE: This is shaping up to be one of the most ambitious projects yet for Amazon Studios. I hear that the production arm of the online retailer’s streaming service is finalizing …
EXCLUSIVE: Shawn Christensen won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short for Curfew, which he wrote, directed, and starred in. Now the musician-turned-filmmaker, who also fronts the NY indie band stellastarr*, has cast Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries), Emmy Rossum, and Ron Perlman in the untitled feature film based loosely on his Oscar short. Pic follows Richie (Christensen), who at the lowest point of his life gets a call from his estranged sister asking him to look after his 11-year-old niece Sophia for the night. Fatima Ptacek played the niece role in the original Curfew and will reprise the role again in what will mark Christensen’s feature directing debut.
The Daniel Stamm-directed psychological thriller is an English-language remake of the Thai pic 13: Game Of Death, about a guy who receives a mysterious phone call informing him that he’s on a hidden camera game show where he must execute 13 tasks to receive a big cash prize. He accepts the challenge as he’s in debt but soon he realizes he’s in over his head. Ron Perlman, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Tom Bower and Devon Graye have been added to the cast that already is toplined by Mark Webber and Rutina Wesley. The movie, to be distributed by Dimension Films in the U.S., begins shooting tomorrow.
After a judge last week denied a motion to dismiss, a lawsuit is tentatively scheduled to play out in LA Superior Court on August 8 that pits former William Morris literary agent Dave Phillips against William Sherak, president of the 3D conversion house StereoD. Phillips alleges in court papers that after inviting Sherak to be his 50/50 partner on emerging 3D technology that Phillips had been retained to shop in Hollywood, Sherak betrayed him. By the time 18 months worth of meetings culminated in the deal that led to the formation of StereoD, Sherak emerged with a 32% stake in that company and signed a 3-Year $14 million deal to run it after Deluxe acquired StereoD in May. Phillips was offered $30,000 to sign a release and go away.
Sherak, the son of Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak, is accused of breaching an oral agreement and his fiduciary responsibility to Phillips. At issue is whether the technology Phillips plugged Sherak into (it originated with Kerner, an offshoot of George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic) led to the deals that formed StereoD and should be counted in the 50/50 3D deal split Phillips said he and Sherak agreed to in an oral (not written) contract. Phillips claims in his complaint that Sherak often assured him their position would be protected because of his father’s industry clout, but that he eventually became evasive after Phillips was offered the $30,000. Stereo D has quickly become a major player in 3D conversions of films that include Captain America, Avatar, Jackass 3-D, and Thor.
Phillips claims that he brought Sherak into the 3D mix because they were longtime friends and he knew Sherak’s father would use his clout to put them in rooms with the Hollywood heavyweights needed for deals that would enrich the duo with finder fees. According to Phillips’ complaint, the elder Sherak orchestrated meetings with the likes of Ron Perelman, Deluxe’s Cyril Drabinsky, Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Lightstorm’s Jon Landau. The elder Sherak also arranged for Fox to provide a print of The Rocky Horror Picture Show to be converted into 3D for demos.
Along the way, the younger Sherak arranged meetings with Christopher Mallick, the financier of Middle Men, a film Sherak produced. These meetings evolved into a focus on 2D to 3D conversion technology called VDX that wasn’t owned by Kerner, but rather a Japanese inventor named Kuniaki Izumi. The filing indicates Phillips and Sherak were involved in bringing Izumi in from Japan to meet Mallick, who shortly after dropped his Kerner pursuit. He struck a deal with Izumi that paid the inventor $1 million for technology that became the core of Stereo D. Mallick gave equal ownership stakes in StereoD to himself, Sherak and Middle Men star Giovanni Ribisi. Phillips was not included.
Just in time for Comic-Con, FilmDistrict has unveiled a red band trailer for Drive, the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed drama that stars Ryan Gosling, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman and Carey Mulligan. Is it me, or does Gosling seem very much like Steve McQueen-esque in one of those 70s movies and Brooks …
EXCLUSIVE: In the first major deal of the American Film Market, FilmDistrict has acquired North American distribution rights to Drive, the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed adaptation of the James Sallis novel that stars Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver and is targeted for death after a heist goes wrong. Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks and Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks round out a strong cast. FilmDistrict was started by GK Films partners Graham King and Tim Headington and run by Peter Schlessel and veteran distribution exec Bob Berney. They hatched the company to generate or acquire films with strong casts that can play on between 1500 and 2000 screens. Drive certainly fits that bill. The film is about two weeks from wrapping and has a budget under $30 million despite shooting in Los Angeles. FilmDistrict will look to release in late summer or early fall, 2011. Michel Litvak’s Bold Films financed the picture with Odd Lot Entertainment ‘s Gigi Pritzker, Linda McDonough and Bill Lischak. Marc Platt is producing with Bold and Odd Lot. Several indie companies chased the film including Summit and Lionsgate, and WME Global’s Graham Taylor closed the deal.