Universal Cable Productions, Vertigo Entertainment, and producer Roy Lee (The Ring, The Departed, Bates Motel) are moving in on The House On Ashley Avenue, the 2012 horror short story from Canadian author Ian Rogers. Tale tracks the exploits of the Mereville Group, an insurance agency that deals in supernatural investigations and has in its possession a group of haunted buildings so dangerous their existence must be kept from the public. One of said houses sits, you guessed it, on Ashley Avenue. Universal/Vertigo/Lee optioned TV rights to The House On Ashley Avenue with Lee and John Middleton set to executive produce with Adam Stone, President of Production overseeing for Vertigo. Rogers is aboard as a consultant on the project, and Ellen Datlow is co-producer.
Universal Cable Prods, Vertigo’s Roy Lee Option Supernatural Short Story ‘The House On Ashley Avenue’
Just under a year from now, Legendary Pictures is set to face off at trial against producers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison in a battle over the trio being ejected from Godzilla. Having failed to keep the matter in arbitration, the studio used a motion filed last week to try to gut the producers’ claims of fraud in a cross-complaint, but the other side isn’t buying this latest move. “I think [Legendary is] very vulnerable,” says the producers’ main lawyer Stanton L. Stein of LA’s Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz Sunshine Regenstreif & Taylor. “I think they will do anything to slow down this going to trial, just like they have tried and failed in the past. They needed that property, and they used us to get it. They specified $1.3 million, first-dollar gross and a producer credit,” he adds of the deal his clients had with the studio to shepherd the Godzilla reboot all the way to the big screen. “They promised it and never delivered.”
Legendary is taking an offensive approach with the motion it filed last week. “They claim that (Jon) Jashni and Legendary never intended to perform on promises allegedly made in 2009 and early 2010 that Cross-Complainants would be ‘well-treated’ on the Film and would be compensated and credited as its producers,” says the May 30 demurrer motion (read it here) from Legendary’s lawyers at Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP. Claiming that emails proclaiming such good treatment were just an opinion on the exec’s part, Legendary has sought a July 31 hearing on the motion. With potentially millions at stake, the trial between the parties is set to start on May 17, 2015. While all this legal warfare has been going on, Godzilla came out May 16 and has made more than $375 million worldwide.
It’ll be almost a year to the day after the new Godzilla hits the big screen, but the long legal clash between Legendary Pictures and a trio of veteran producers dumped from the reboot now has a trial date. Despite Legendary’s efforts to keep the matter private, the parties will be arguing their case in front of a jury in LA Superior Court starting May 17, 2015. That could change if the two sides reach a settlement over credits and compensation for the Warner Bros-distributed tentpole. If that doesn’t happen, the trial, which ejected producers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison have been seeking since filings started flying in January 2013, is scheduled to last around 10 days. The case was reassigned to Judge Michael Beckloff earlier this week. The new Godzilla movie, from director Gareth Edwards and starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, David Strathairn, Juliette Binoche and Sally Hawkins, opens May 14.
Video Game Sensation ‘Minecraft’ Coming To The Big Screen As Warner Bros Acquires Rights; ‘Lego’s’ Roy Lee And Jill Messick Producing
EXCLUSIVE: Minecraft, one of the hottest video game franchises in the market today, is going to be made into a major motion picture. Warner Bros. just acquired the rights to the wildly popular game from Swedish indie developer Mojang AB (mojang means “gadget” in Swedish). The property already is getting huge interest from writers and filmmakers as Warners is putting together a live-action version. Roy Lee is going to produce Minecraft via his Vertigo Entertainment production company along with Jill Messick (Mean Girls and Mean Moms) who will also produce in some capacity. Lee produced the megahit The Lego Movie with Dan Lin which launched a franchise for Warner Bros and a sequel is planned. Jon Berg is the executive in charge at the studio. CAA brokered the deal for the film rights.
Minecraft is one of the top five “open world”-type games, in which players can engage in a virtual world, creating any environment they can dream up with virtual blocks. It often is described as a “open sandbox” where the users can build anything they want. Minecraft has become an Internet sensation since its introduction in 2011. I know, gamers out there will point out that the beta version was introduced in 2009 and were invited to buy and play the game before it was finished — which was a smart move by Mojang because the players basically became the company’s test market and helped develop the game itself. (It didn’t hurt their bank account either).
The legal battle between Legendary Pictures and producers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison over the Godzilla reboot seems more and more certain to be headed to trial. “We’re not interested in arbitration, we want a jury to hear this case”, said the producers’ lawyer Stanton L. Stein in a hearing today in LA Superior Court. With his clients Lee and Lin looking on, Stein made clear that a jury trial is still his goal despite an agreement today by all parties to pursue mediation. “I understand why they don’t want public scrutiny of this case. I understand why they don’t want their behavior being made public”, he added of Legendary’s efforts to have the case moved to private arbitration.
Back in January dueling suits were filed between the producers and Legendary after the studio sought to remove them from the project with a tiny $25,000 payout. The trio countered with a cross complaint January 17 accusing Legendary of breach of contract. Lin, Lee and Davison are seeking millions in compensatory damages, screen credit, and participation in sequels, prequels, or further remakes. As this legal tussle continues, Godzilla is currently in production in Vancouver with the movie set for a May 16, 2014 release.
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has emerged from a three-studio bidding battle with screen rights to remake the Korean crime film New World. The deal was mid six-figures and the film will be produced by Roy Lee and Dan Lin, with Jon Silk and John Powers Middleton exec producing. The script will be written by Will Fetters, who has been on fire at Warner Bros. He has scripted the Clint Eastwood-directed remake of A Star Is Born, as well as Crazy For The Storm for Sean Penn to direct, and he most recently rewrote the Nicholas Sparks novel The Best Of Me.
The original film was written and directed by Park Hoon-jung, who scripted I Saw The Devil and The Unjust. New World has parallels to The Departed, on which Lee was exec producer and Lin was development exec. After a mob boss is gunned down, an outright battle ensues among several mobsters who want to succeed him. One of them is an undercover cop. The pic just got released.
Producers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison today launched their own lawsuit in the escalating legal war over the Godzilla reboot. The duo filed a suit against Legendary Pictures in LA Superior Court on Thursday, with the cross complaint alleging breach of contract among other counts (read it here). Seeking a jury trial and millions in damages, this latest legal action also names fellow Godzilla producer and Legendary President/CCO Jon Jashni as a defendant. Legendary’s Chairman and CEO Thomas Tull was not named in the suit. Today’s action comes in response to Legendary’s suit earlier this month to have Lee and Lin and fellow producer Davison removed from the movie with a $25,000 payout. An action that today’s cross complaint says came about only because the trio of producers were going to assert their claims to a project that that they say they brought to Legendary and that they developed.
UPDATE: Mary Parent Boarding ‘Godzilla’, Which Is Getting A Frank Darabont Rewrite And Losing Roy Lee And Dan Lin
UPDATE, 1 PM:: I can understand why Godzilla is trying to shed producers, because there are plenty. Mary Parent is about done with a deal to come aboard on the producer roster. Parent, whose Disruption banner is based at Paramount, takes the job after working closely with Legendary on the Guillermo del Toro-directed Pacific Rim.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 8:42 AM: As it stomps its way toward a March production start, Godzilla has two significant developments in the offing. Frank Darabont, who veered into genre territory by launching the AMC series The Walking Dead, has been hired by producer-financier Legendary Pictures to do a final rewrite on the script that was written by The Seventh Son scribe Max Borenstein.
At the same time, Warner Bros-based producers Dan Lin and Roy Lee, who were among the producers who came into Legendary with a Toho rights deal for the iconic reptile, are in a huge battle with the financier-producer. Legendary, which now controls the rights, wants to drop the producers from the film. As it stands right now, the 3D picture will be produced by Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni, along with Brian Rogers, the latter of whom was on the ground floor of the Toho deal. The film will be directed by Monsters helmer Gareth Edwards and has been dated for May 16, 2014 release.
EXCLUSIVE: Mandalay Vision and Vertigo Entertainment will team on The Voices, a psychological thriller that will be directed by Marjane Satrapi from a script by Paranormal Activity’s Michael R. Perry. The script made the Black List, and Satrapi got an Oscar nom for Best Animated Feature for her first film Persepolis, adapted from her semi-autobiographical novel.
Mandalay Vision will finance the film, and Mandalay Vision’s Matthew Rhodes and Cathy Schulman are producing with Vertigo Entertainment’s Roy Lee. Mandalay Senior Vice President Adam Stone will also produce. Casting is underway, and the intention is to begin production in the early part of 2013.
Jerry Hickfang is a lovable but strange bathtub factory worker who yearns for the attention of a woman in accounting. When their relationship takes a sudden murderous turn, Jerry’s evil talking cat and benevolent talking dog lead him down a fantastical path that ultimately brings him to salvation. While the talking thing is wacky, I am totally buying into the casting of the cat as the villain and dog as hero. Both Satrapi and Perry are represented by UTA.
“Between Michael Perry’s unique voice, and Marjane’s visionary style, we couldn’t be more excited to make this picture,” said Rhodes, who is Mandalay Vision president. Lee called Perry’s script “inventive and horrifying,” and said that it was …
EXCLUSIVE: Producers Roy Lee and Taka Ichise are teaming on a live action feature adaptation of The Suicide Forest, the graphic novel from IDW Publishing. They’ve attached Hideo Nakata to direct. He helmed Ringu, which hatched The Ring, and he directed The Ring Two. They are looking for a screenwriter.
The first in a series of four graphic novels written by El Torres with artwork by Gabriel Hernandez, the thriller revolves around Aokigahara, a vast forest outside Tokyo which is called the most famous suicide spot in the world. Legend that spirits of past suicides roaming among the trees. An American ex-pat living in Tokyo must enlist the help of a forest ranger in Aokigahara to help free him from the clutches of an evil spirit haunting him from the Suicide Forest.
IDW’s Ted Adams and John Middleton will be executive producers. CAA and Circle of Confusion rep IDW, while Nakata is repped by UTA and Ichise by ICM Partners.
EXCLUSIVE: Producers Roy Lee, John Middleton and Lawrence Grey have partnered in Primal Pictures, a new genre arm of Vertigo Entertainment. The company will share the first look deal that Vertigo has with Warner Bros, and a big part of Primal’s mission is to put the studio into the ultra-low-budget genre game. Primal will also produce a slate of micro-budget films with independent equity financing.
Warner Bros has just given a green light to Hidden, a $10 million thriller that will begin production this summer. That film was acquired late last year, based on the 2011 Black List script by Matt and Ross Duffer, twin brothers who’ll direct the horror thriller about a family hiding in a bomb shelter after escaping a mysterious outbreak. Lee, Middleton and Grey are producing with Mason Novick. Richard Zanuck also just joined the project as producer.
Warner Bros just acquired for Primal Pictures The Cure, a script by Beau Michael Thorne about a dying woman whose husband arranges for experimental medical treatment, only to discover the cure has horrific consequences. Michael Connolly and Mad Hatter Entertainment will also produce.
This deal puts Warner Bros in line to participate in what has become a steady stream of narrative and found footage thrillers with low budgets and young audience appeal. These films routinely clean up at the box office, often earning back their budgets during opening weekend and outperforming mid-budget films with stars. Warner Bros just got into the …
EXCLUSIVE: In what might be the first solid spec sale of 2012, Warner Bros made a preemptive acquisition of The All-Nighter, an actioner scripted by Brad Ingelsby. Deal was mid-six figures up front and the film has Roy Lee and Brooklyn Weaver attached as producers. Ingelsby in 2008 made a big spec deal for the revenge thriller The Low Dweller to Relativity Media with Leonardo DiCaprio attached. In The All-Nighter, the scribes focuses on how, in a single night, an aging mob hitman is forced to take on his former boss. The guy has to protect his son and family, and winds up on the run from the mob and the authorities with his estranged son.
Lee has a first look deal at Warner Bros, and it’s the second project he has set in as many days, after Warner Bros acquired the David Cohen pitch The Vatican, to be directed by The Devil Inside helmer William Brent Bell. The All-Nighter was brokered by WME and attorney Jeff Frankel.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has bought an action/sci-fi pitch created by David Karlak titled Rise, marking the scribe’s first studio sale. Roy Lee and Underground will team to produce the project, the details of which are under wraps. Lawrence Grey is also a producer, and John Middleton is executive producing. Karlak, who has gained buzz around town thanks to his short film The Candidate, is repped by Paradigm, Underground and attorney Dave Feldman. Saw franchise writers Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan teamed with Karlak to write the pitch.
Mandate Pictures just announced that Spike Lee will direct Oldboy, a remake of the cult 2003 South Korean film directed by Park Chan-wook that won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. Mark Protosevich has adapted the screenplay and will co-produce; Roy Lee and Doug Davison will produce via Vertigo Entertainment with Lee’s 40 Acres & A Mule. Mandate president Nathan Kahane will executive produce. Lee and Protosevich are repped by CAA. Dan Freedman, SVP business affairs, negotiated the deals for Mandate. This is the project that Steven Spielberg and Will Smith were looking to collaborate on back in 2008, with DreamWorks seeking the remake rights at the time. The film originally was set up at Universal before Mandate took over. The story centers on a man who is kidnapped on his daughter’s birthday and held for 15 years in solitary confinement without explanation. He is eventually released and sets out on a path to take revenge on those who destroyed his life.
EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films has acquired Flight 75, a pitch for a thriller that will be directed by The Grudge helmer Takashi Shimizu. Project was bought on a treatment by Shimizu and a writer will be set momentarily. It is described as a claustrophobic thriller set on a transpacific airliner where the passengers encounter what appears to be a supernatural force. Shimizu reteams with Grudge producer Taka Ichise, who’ll produce with The Ring‘s Roy Lee and Insidious‘ Steven Schneider. John Middleton is exec producer. Shimizu has been looking for the right fit for his next English-language project and this is expected to be it. They hope to get it mounted by the fall. It becomes another in a flurry of projects set up by CBS Films, which has Gambit in production with Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz; just put Ed Zwick on the Vince Flynn bestseller American Assassin; and an adaptation of the Marie Lu novel Legend, to be directed by Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies). ICM reps Shimizu.