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Wherefore Art Thou, Juliet? In Latest Pic Migration, She Moves From Sony To Warners

By | Monday March 10, 2014 @ 9:03am PDT
Mike Fleming

rupert-sanders-directorEXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is in, and Sony Pictures and New Regency are out of The Juliet, an adaptation of the Alfred Bester short story that was developed by Charles Roven’s Atlas Entertainment. The film has a script by Henry Bean that is being rewritten by Paul Haggis, and Snow White And The Huntsman helmer Rupert Sanders is attached to direct. At one point it looked like Sony would make it this spring. Atlas’s Roven and Alex Gartner are producing with Frank Beddor of Automatic Pictures.

It makes me wonder, what is going on in Hollywood? I have been around long enough that I actually broke the story of when Warner Bros, clashing with John Hughes over $2 million in budget, allowed Fox to grab Home Alone and turn the $18 million film into a $477 million worldwide gross blockbuster. After that, studios used to never let projects go for fear of being embarrassed, a possibility that was reinforced when Paramount inexplicably let the option lapse on the Twilight Saga, the billion-dollar franchise that built Summit Entertainment. Studios used to keep everything, or heap on overhead costs that made them prohibitively expensive, or attach first-dollar-gross obligations, like the 5 percent that Harvey Weinstein got on The Lord Of The Rings and is trying to enforce on The Hobbit.
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Rupert Sanders Set To Helm ‘Ghost In The Shell’ For DreamWorks

By | Friday January 24, 2014 @ 4:12pm PST
Mike Fleming

rupert-sanders-directorEXCLUSIVEDreamWorks has made a deal with Snow White And The Huntsman helmer Rupert Sanders to direct Ghost In The Shell, a live-action film based on the Japanese manga futuristic police thriller that has a new script from William Wheeler. The film is being produced by Avi Arad, Ari Arad and Steven Paul. Fueled by the personal passion of Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks acquired the project several years ago with ambitious plans to shoot it in 3D.

ghostCreated by Masamune Shirow, Ghost in the Shell was first published in 1989 by Kodansha, one of the largest publishing companies in Japan. It went on to generate two additional manga editions, three anime film adaptations, an anime TV series and three videogames. DreamWorks released the second anime film.

The story follows the exploits of a member of a covert ops unit of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission that specializes in fighting technology-related crime. Read More »

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Warner Bros Taps Rupert Sanders To Helm ‘Napoleon’

By | Tuesday November 12, 2013 @ 4:00pm PST
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Looks like it’s Warner Bros‘ week to hire directors. The studio has signed Rupert Sanders to direct Napoleon, a Scarface-style look at the French leader that will be produced by Gianni Nunari. Jeremy Doner wrote the script and Niija Kuykendall will oversee for the studio. This comes a day after the studio tapped Joe Wright to direct Pan. Sanders made his feature directing debut on Universal’s Snow White And The Huntsman, which grossed near $400 million worldwide. He’s got 90 Church with that studio and producer Joe Roth, and he’s developing Juliet for Sony and New Regency, with Charles Roven producing, as well as the screen adaptation of the Frederick Forsyth thriller The Kill List for producers Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz and Nick Wechsler. Sanders is represented by CAA and attorney Carlos Goodman.

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Universal Sets ‘Breaking Bad’s George Mastras To Pen Cop-Mafia Clash ‘90 Church’

By | Monday August 12, 2013 @ 1:08pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Universal Pictures has set Emmy-nominated Breaking Bad writer/producer George Mastras to adapt the Dean Unkefer book 90 Church: The True Story Of The Narcotics Squad From Hell to be directed by its Snow White And The Huntsman director Rupert Sanders. The  project will be produced by Huntsman’s Joe Roth and Palak Patel, who’ll produce with Deborah Giarratana.

90 Church refers to the address of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics when it was formed in New York City to combat organized crime and drug traffic in the mid-1960s through early ’70s. While the FBI refused even to acknowledge organized crime, 30 agents stood alone against a well-organized Mafia and vicious drug cartels. To survive against impossible odds, the agents used incredibly brutal and cunning tactics to make cases and bring the war to a stalemate. Using an ever-expanding network of criminal informants held together by secret immunity deals, the sinister reputation of 90 Church grew along with the rising body count. The book is fictionalized but based on true events, written by one of the agents who worked in the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. That bureau later merged with another and became the DEA. The studio bought the book preemptively last summer.

Mastras, who was Emmy-nominated for writing the Dead Freight episode in Breaking Bad‘s final season, is repped by CAA and manager Dan Halsted.

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Rupert Sanders To Helm Frederick Forsyth Thriller Novel ‘The Kill List’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Snow White And The Huntsman helmer Rupert Sanders has come attached to direct The Kill List, an adaptation of the new Frederick Forsyth thriller that was acquired by producers Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz and Nick Wechsler. Give those producers credit for wasting no time, as they just bought the book last month. After they acquired the Cormac McCarthy spec script The Counselor, they had that film in production in record time at Fox with Ridley Scott directing and a cast headed by Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz.

Sanders, who made his feature directing debut on Huntsman, has always been a big fan of Forsyth’s espionage thrillers, and Kill List reminded him of this Hemingway line: “There is no hunting like the hunting of men, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”

The producers are now meeting with writers to jump start the adaptation, and Sanders will be very involved in that process. Pic will be a co-production between Chockstone Pictures and Nick Wechsler Productions. Roger Schwartz is a co-producer. Read More »

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Disney Getting Close On ‘Pirates 5′ Director; Here’s The Short List

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: With The Lone Ranger in the can, Disney, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Johnny Depp have turned their attention toward setting sail on a fifth installment underway of Pirates Of The Caribbean. While a number of pie-in-the-sky giant directors are being mentioned, here are three helmers I hear are on the short list. Fredrik Bond, who helmed The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman, has been a favorite of Bruchkeimer and has been rumored for some time. The hot new candidate is the Kon-Tiki directing team of Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, who just fell out of the Legendary Pictures film Spectral; and I am also hearing buzz about Snow White And The Huntsman helmer Rupert Sanders. The Kon-Tiki guys are the names I’m hearing most often, but no offer has been made and there will probably be a few more meetings prior to any of that happening. Production is being slotted for late this year or early next year, but the director will be locked within the next few weeks. Disney made an unexpected choice for the last film, Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with Rob Marshall, and that grossed over $1 billion. Given the names here, they’re clearly looking to inject fresh creative energy to the mix. Stay tuned.

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‘Huntsman’s Rupert Sanders To Next Helm ‘The Juliet’ For Sony And New Regency

By | Monday October 15, 2012 @ 2:37pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures and New Regency are making a deal with Snow White And The Huntsman helmer Rupert Sanders to next direct The Juliet, an adaptation of the Alfred Bester short story that was developed by Charles Roven’s Atlas Entertainment at Sony. Henry Bean wrote the script.

Atlas’s Roven and Alex Gartner are producing with Frank Beddor of Automatic Pictures. The intention is to begin production in the spring. The film is story set in a near futuristic science fiction landscape. Sony and New Regency will co-finance and co-distribute, and New Regency will distribute the film through its existing distribution partnership with Fox. Sam Dickerman will shepherd the film on behalf on SPE and Kara Francis Smith for Regency.

Sanders made his directorial debut on Snow White And The Huntsman, the Universal film that grossed $400 million worldwide. Sanders is repped by CAA and Independent Talent.

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Universal Buys ’90 Church’ For Rupert Sanders And Roth Films As Studio Ponders ‘Huntsman’ Spinoff

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has just acquired the Dean Unkefer book 90 Church: The True Story Of The Narcotics Squad From Hell, to be published by Random House in the US and Virgin Books in Europe in May 2013. This is a significant deal and it will reteam Snow White And The Huntsman director Rupert Sanders with producers Joe Roth and Palak Patel, who’ll produce with Deborah Giarratana. They will begin looking for a high-end writer immediately.

The book was sold by CAA in a preemptive deal with the studio, with execs Jeffrey Kirschenbaum and Maradith Frenkel overseeing it. Sanders has been developing the sequel to Snow White And The Huntsman, a movie which did just under $400 million worldwide. That project is now moving on a slower track, as the studio tries to figure out whether it wants to make a sequel, or instead a spinoff that focuses on Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman character. David Koepp, who I’d reported back in April was hired to script a straight sequel, isn’t going forward at the moment and no script will be written until Universal figures out the next move. Studio likes the spinoff idea greatly. Because the Huntsman package sold in a five studio bidding battle, Sanders has no option tying him to either film, but he is squarely in the mix. Read More »

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Universal Gets Rolling On ‘Snow White And The Huntsman’ Sequel

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Studios are relying heavily on sequels this summer, but the toughest thing to do is to introduce something new that launches a franchise. It looks like Universal has done that with Snow White And The Huntsman. I’m told that the studio is making all the moves that indicate another chapter is in the offing, and on a fast track.

Universal commenced David Koepp to write the sequel script, which Deadline revealed in late April might happen. The studio is now talking with director Rupert Sanders about a return, after he made his feature directing debut on the first installment. Sanders is interested; he had a great time making the first movie. But unlike most first time directors, he doesn’t have to come back. That’s because Snow White And The Huntsman was sold in an auction by CAA that included a presentation by Sanders of how he was going to shoot the film. Sanders was part of the package, as was producer Joe Roth, and that gave the agency leverage to make a much better deal than a first timer usually gets. The filmmaker is in demand now, but he hasn’t chosen his next film and a sequel might well be it. I understand that the actors in the film have options for two sequels, so that part of the equation shouldn’t be too difficult.

While there were plenty of potshots taken by journalists at Universal and … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Relativity’s ‘Mirror Mirror’

Last week we got a glimpse of Universal’s Snow White And The Huntsman directed by Rupert Sanders. The first trailer for Tarsem Singh’s take on the fairy tale arrived today. Relativity’s Mirror Mirror will make it to theaters March 16 ahead of Universal’s version set for June 1.

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Hot Teaser Trailer: ‘Snow White And The Huntsman’

Mike Fleming

Universal Pictures has released a new teaser trailer for Snow White And The Huntsman, the studio’s big revisionist fairy tale that stars Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron. Rupert Sanders directed the film, which will be released June 1, 2012. That’s several months behind Relativity Media’s Mirror, Mirror, but these are obviously vastly different versions of the Snow White tale.

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‘Snow White And The Huntsman’ Banner




Universal has released new artwork for Snow White And The Huntsman. The three-character banner shows Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth as the title characters and Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen. Directed by Rupert Sanders, it’s slated to open June 1, 2012. Relativity’s rival movie — a lighter version of the same fairy tale directed by Tarsem Singh — recently titled Mirror Mirror, reaches theaters first on March 16.

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Joe Roth Taking Producer Role In Angelina Jolie-Starrer ‘Maleficent’ For Disney

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: If Joe Roth were any more closely associated with fairy tales, he’d be one of the Grimm Brothers. Roth, who help start Hollywood’s feverish devotion to fairy tale films by producing the $1 billion-grossing Alice in Wonderland, is negotiating to become producer of Maleficent, Disney’s re-telling of its 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty, this time told from the vantage point of the evil witch. It’s no secret that Angelina Jolie wants to play that character. The script was written by Linda Woolverton, who scripted Alice in Wonderland as well as Disney’s recently re-released The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. They are looking for a director after a preliminary courtship of Alice helmer Tim Burton didn’t work out.

Aside from Alice in Wonderland, Roth is producing Disney’s Sam Raimi-directed Disney pic Oz: The Great and Powerful with James Franco, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz, as well as Snow White and the Huntsman, the Universal Pictures epic that is being directed by Rupert Sanders and stars Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth.

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Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson Re-Upped Through 2014

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: NBCUniversal’s new owners at Comcast have given a vote of confidence to the studio’s feature film operation. They’ve exercised an option on Universal Pictures’ Chairman Adam Fogelson and extended his contract through 2014. I’m told that Fogelson is, in turn, in the process of exercising the option of Donna Langley and she will continue as the studio’s co-chairman. They will also keep their executive team intact. Fogelson will continue to have full day-to-day operating responsibility for the Motion Picture Group, reporting to Universal Studios President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer (whose contract was recently re-upped through 2015) and will now also report to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke.

While Universal has had its ups and downs, higher-ups are clearly convinced that Fogelson, Langley and their team are making progress. They’ve had recent hits –Bridesmaids, Hop! and Fast Five– but also had some recent misses that include The Dilemma, Change-Up and Cowboys & Aliens. In the latter case, the studio was on the hook for one-third of the film, and shared that third with Relativity Media. It has also been a year in which Fogelson and his team have made some painful decisions and let pricey productions go. That began with the Guillermo Del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness, which Universal developed for years and which was ready to go with Tom Cruise, until the studio made a late decision not to go forward because of the possibility the $150M film could carry an R-rating. Universal also dropped two projects that were in advanced  stages of development: The Dark Tower, the Akiva Goldsman-directed adaptation of the Stephen King novel series that was to be made into three feature films and two limited-run TV series, with the first film and TV segment directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer and Goldsman; and Oiuja, the Hasbro board game that had McG directing and Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners producing with Hasbro. The moves were surprising because Howard and Grazer are cornerstone filmmakers for Universal; and Del Toro and Hasbro have overall deals there. Ouija is one of several Hasbro properties the studio dropped, the others being the Gore Verbinski-directed Clue, the Ridley Scott-directed Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering. These were part of a groundbreaking deal the studio made with the toymaker several years ago, but the studio and Hasbro have re-focused their attention solely on Battleship, Stretch Armstrong, and Candy Land. Read More »

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Hossein Amini Doing Rewrite On ‘Snow White And The Huntsman’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Bracing for its race against Relativity Media on rival Snow White films, Universal Pictures has hired Hossein Amini to do a rewrite of Snow White and the Huntsman, the Rupert Sanders-directed film that stars Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth. Evan Spiliotopoulos wrote the most recent draft. Amini scripted Drive, the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed film that just debuted in Cannes, and he also rewrote the Keanu Reeves-starrer 47 Ronin, which director Carl Rinsch is directing for Universal.

Universal and Relativity have been playing a game of can you top this in terms of release dates. Universal moved up its Snow White film from late 2012 to a June 1 date, which put it a month ahead of Relativity’s Snow White film, the one that stars Julia Roberts, Lily Collins and Armie Hammer, with Tarsem Singh directing. Then, Relativity Media trumped Universal by setting a March 16, 2012 release. It has created bad blood between the studio and Ryan Kavanaugh, but that is how it stands at the moment. Hossein is repped by WME.

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Sam Claflin Crowned Prince For ‘Snow White And The Huntsman’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is setting Sam Claflin to play the role of the prince in Snow White and the Huntsman, the Rupert Sanders-directed re-imagining of the fairy tale that stars Kristen Stewart as Snow White and Charlize Theron as the evil queen. The studio is still working on its huntsman, and as Deadline was the first to tell you, the offer is with Thor star Chris Hemsworth. Claflin just starred in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and he has just been offered the title role opposite Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore in the Warner Bros/Legendary supernatural thriller The Seventh Son. Claflin could make that film, which starts in March, and then follow with Snow White and the Huntsman. CAA and Independent Talent rep him.

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Universal Targets Hugh Jackman For ‘Snow White And The Huntsman’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Sensing a possible opening with Hugh Jackman because The Wolverine lost its director and a plan to shoot in Japan turned precarious, Universal Pictures has offered Jackman the huntsman role in Snow White and the Huntsman. The Rupert Sanders-directed film has Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron ready to star. Also, I’ve heard Universal is in talks with Hossein Amini to come aboard and do some script work on a project slated to begin production mid-September.

Whether Jackman accepts is unclear. Jackman would obviously have to be paid a premium to pump up the star power of a film that will  reach theaters after its rival, Relativity Media’s The Brothers Grimm: Snow White. That film has Julia Roberts playing the evil queen, but unproven thesps Armie Hammer and Lily Collins in the leads. Clearly, Jackman’s priority is his signature  razor-clawed X-Men mutant hero. He has been very hands on developing The Wolverine with screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie, and he himself drafted Darren Aronofsky, who exited earlier this month. Jackman and the studio are just getting started on finding a replacement. I’ve heard names like Duncan Jones, director of the well-reviewed Source Code, and David Slade, the Twilight Saga: Eclipse helmer who was in the mix before Aronofsky got hired. Read More »

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‘Tron: Legacy’s Joseph Kosinski Passes JJ Abrams To Become King Of First-Timers

Mike Fleming

Before it got released on DVD today, Tron: Legacy managed to play in theaters long enough to establish Joseph Kosinski as the highest-grossing first-time director of a live-action film in Hollywood history. The film’s $399 million global gross recently eclipsed the $397.5 million gross that JJ Abrams turned in on 2006′s Mission: Impossible 3.

Now, such a distinction is relative. Tron: Legacy cost between $165 million and $170 million to make and a comparable amount to market. Sam Mendes made his debut on the $15 million American Beauty, which grossed $356 million worldwide in 1999. Jan De Bont’s debut on the $30 million Speed turned in a $350 million worldwide gross in 1994. Ticket prices were lower when American Beauty and Speed were released, and Tron: Legacy had the extra benefit of higher 3D pricing. American Beauty and Speed were extravagantly profitable. Disney will make some money on Tron: Legacy, but they won’t need to back up the Brink’s truck.

But Tron: Legacy’s performance certainly gives the studio reason to think it has poured the foundation for a franchise. Disney has begun work on a sequel, which Kosinski is constructing with original writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. Maybe because of Tron: Legacy’s pricey launch and heightened expectations, I had the impression that the film had been a bit underwhelming, despite a $44 million opening weekend. But looks are deceiving. For one … Read More »

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Update: Relativity Confirms Julia Roberts In Snow White Pic

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Relativity confirmed they’ve signed Julia Roberts, and have set a June 29, 2012 release date. That puts The Brothers Grimm: Snow White six months ahead of the preliminary release plan for Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman. Relativity Media’s press release is at bottom of the story.

EARLIER 9:33 AM: Deadline revealed late last year that Julia Roberts was being courted by Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media to play the Evil Queen in the Tarsem Singh-directed The Brothers Grimm: Snow White. I’m told that the deal will close within two hours, with the talks basically down to “whether Julia gets a Town Car or an SUV.”

Committing to Roberts means that neither Relativity Media or Universal Pictures is blinking on the race to mount rival Snow White pictures for 2012 release. Universal has set a December 21, 2012 release date for the Rupert Sanders-directed Snow White and the Huntsman, which has come together strongly with Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen playing the title characters, and Charlize Theron playing the Evil Queen. Usually, rival picture races end when one project either lands a big star or makes it into production first. That’s happened on such films as the Oliver Stone-directed Alexander, which ended the Alexander the Great film Baz Luhrmann was prepping with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Relativity Media might get into production before Universal’s planned summer start, with pre-production underway and shooting to begin possibly as soon as next month, insiders said. … Read More »

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