EXCLUSIVE: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has been tapped to adapt Night Film, the Marisha Pessl noir novel for Chernin Entertainment and director Rupert Wyatt. Aguirre-Sacasa, one of the saviors who rescued the troubled stage musical Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark, has been working in every medium. He ranges from Glee to scripting the remake of Carrie and The Town That Dreaded Sundown and a screen version of Archie for Warner Bros, to writing the book for the Broadway musical transfer of Magic Mike. In Night Film, a journalist investigates the suspected suicide of a young beauty, and discovers she is the daughter of a reclusive horror film helmer and that the girl was murdered and someone is bent on revenge.
EXCLUSIVE: I’m in transit from Toronto, but here is a hot project coming together quickly. I’m hearing that Mark Wahlberg is circling to star and Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes helmer Rupert Wyatt is circling to direct The Gambler, a William Monahan-scripted remake of the 1974 James Caan movie for Paramount. The remake is being produced by original producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff and also Stephen Levinson. Caan played a college professor whose gambling addiction overcomes him even after he gets in big trouble with the wrong guys. James Toback wrote the original script and the pic co-starred Lauren Hutton and Paul Sorvino.
British actor J.J. Feild (Captain America: The First Avenger) has been cast in AMC‘s pilot Turn. Written by Craig Silverstein based on the book Washington’s Spies and directed by Rupert Wyatt, Turn is set in the summer of 1778 and tells the story of New York farmer Abe Woodhull (Jamie Bell), who bands together with a group of childhood friends to form The Culper Ring, an unlikely group of spies who turn the tide in America’s fight for independence. Feild will play Major John Andre, head of British counterintelligence in the Revolutionary War. Andre’s brand of spy craft involves turning assets through seduction, bribery, and manipulation. Feild, repped by Mosaic, UTA, Roger Charteris in the UK and attorney Steve Younger, stars opposite Keri Russell in Austenland, which premiered at Sundance and was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. He also stars in Not Safe For Work.
Rory Scovel (Zach Stone Is Going Be Famous) has been added to TBS‘ comedy pilot Ground Floor. Written by Bill Lawrence and Greg Malins and directed by Gail Mancuso, Ground Floor is an office take on Romeo and Juliet and centers on Harvard grad Brody (Skylar Astin), who falls hard for feisty and intelligent maintenance supervisor Jennifer (Briga Heelan), whose education ended after high school. Scovel, repped by CAA, Mosaic and Isaac Dunham, plays Harvard, who got …
EXCLUSIVE: Rise of the Planet Of the Apes helmer Rupert Wyatt broke off talks to direct The Equalizer at Sony with Denzel Washington. He had another obligation and skeds ultimately didn’t mesh, I’m told. Sony and Escape Artists will lock in a helmer shortly.
EXCLUSIVE: Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes helmer Rupert Wyatt might well have found his next film after stepping out of the Apes sequel. I’m told that he’s in early talks to helm The Equalizer for Sony Pictures and Escape Artists. That is the film that has had a lot of helmers chasing after the script by Richard Wenk prompted the studio to expedite Denzel Washington’s deal and set a June start date, likely in Boston. The film is a smartly budgeted thriller based on the TV series that will come in around $50 million and is designed to launch the first franchise for Washington, who’ll be paid his customary $20 million.
The film is loosely based on the TV series that starred Edward Woodward as a mysterious former covert operations officer who helps people in trouble, and was created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim. The film has that basic premise but takes off in its own way, tailored to Washington’s skills. He’ll play a solitary, monastic figure who hates injustice and devotes himself to helping people who are being victimized. The film is being produced by Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch, Alex Siskin, Mace Neufeld, Michael Sloan, and Tony Eldridge. David Bloomfield is exec producer. Wyatt’s repped by WME and Independent Talent Group.
A few things have to happen before Wyatt is locked. Though …
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has come up with a short list to replace Rupert Wyatt as the director of Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. I’m hearing that Cloverfield’s Matt Reeves is atop the list, along with The Disappearance Of Alice Creed helmer J Blakeson, 28 Weeks Later helmer Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Take Shelter and Mud director Jeff Nichols, Pacific Rim helmer Guillermo del Toro, The Impossible helmer Juan Antonio Bayona and Looper helmer Rian Johnson (Johnson’s reps deny he is in the hunt).
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox, already undergoing seismic changes with Tom Rothman’s year end exit, might have a major director to replace on one of the studio’s most important film franchises. I’m hearing that Rupert Wyatt, who helmed the superb franchise reboot Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, will leave the sequel. I’m told that Wyatt’s exit is similar to the same reason that Gary Ross stepped out of Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Wyatt didn’t feel comfortable making the May 23, 2014 release date that the studio announced in May.
BREAKING: Universal Pictures is making a deal for Agent 13, a package shopped by WME that has Charlize Theron attached to star and Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes helmer Rupert Wyatt attached to direct. I’m told the package drew bids from Paramount, MGM and Fox, but Universal won the day with a whopping deal. This comes off the studio’s multi-million acquisition of Fifty Shades of Grey. Script is by T.S. Nowlin. Theron is producing via her label Denver and Delilah. Sean Daniel and Jason Brown are producers for the Sean Daniel Company along with Union Entertainment.
All this will have to wait until Wyatt does a sequel to Apes, which is a high priority for Fox. The studio has an option on Wyatt’s services and he most assuredly is doing this next. Fox has been keen on this since the studio locked in Andy Serkis for a repeat at Caesar, the lead talking primate.
Warner Bros has lost some steam on Londongrad, the drama about about the mysterious death of former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned in 2006 with polonium-210. The studio put the picture into high gear because Rupert Wyatt wanted to direct it, and they were targeting Michael Fassbender to play Litvinenko. Now, it looks like Wyatt won’t be able to make it next. Fox has an option on him and the studio understandably wants to move fast on a sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. So either the project will wait for him or the studio will get another director.
EXCLUSIVE: Action is heating up on Londongrad, the Warner Bros drama about the mysterious death of former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was poised in 2006 with polonium-210. I’m told the studio is in discussions with Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt and that the studio is courting Michael Fassbender to play Litvinenko. The script is by David Scarpa.
As Litvinenko deteriorated in a London hostpital bed, he went public with accusations that he was done in by then-Russian president Vladimir Putin. The mystery was never really solved. I’m told that Wyatt’s producing partner Alan Moloney will join a roster of producers that include Graham King and Johnny Depp and Christi Dembrowski’s Infinitum Nihil.
UPDATE: Fox informs me that the studio will wage an Oscar campaign for Andy Serkis for Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
EXCLUSIVE: When Rise of the Planet of the Apes‘s $453 million worldwide gross was listed as a bright spot in the quarterly earnings of beleaguered NewsCorp, you know a sequel is a big 20th Century Fox priority. So who did the studio lock in first? No, it wasn’t James Franco or Freida Pinto. The studio just closed what I’m told is a healthy seven-figure deal for Andy Serkis to reprise his role as lead ape Caesar. Serkis had only signed on for one movie, so his reps had leverage in ensuring that he come back to continue leading the ape takeover in multiple future installments of the series.
Director Rupert Wyatt’s original deal came with a sequel option, so he’s locked. So are screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, who are producing with Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark. The studio is still in the idea stage and the sequel hasn’t been dated for release. As for Franco and Pinto, those decisions will likely be made when the direction of the film crystallizes. The studio certainly has the leverage there; the clever construct of the first film ended with a wallop that makes everyone expendable.