WME has just signed Dana Stevens, the prolific feature writer who is the exec producer and sole creator of Reckless on CBS. Stevens last year adapted the Nicholas Sparks novel Safe Haven for Relativity, and her other credits include City Of Angels and the Kevin Costner baseball pic For Love Of The Game. She currently is adapting for James Cameron’s Lightstorm and Fox The Dive, the touching story of Cuban free diver Pipin Ferreras and his wife Audrey Mestres, the latter of whom died trying to better her record for a free dive, in which she plunged to an unimaginable depth on a single breath and then tried to swim to the surface. Stevens had been at UTA.
Hot book on the block today. The Longest Ride, the new novel by Nicholas Sparks, is in play today, and it will most assuredly mean a big seven-figure deal with several studios and producers/financiers lining up for the author’s latest romantic weeper. This comes days after the author of The Notebook, Message In A Bottle and A Walk to Remember and The Lucky One saw his most recent novel adaptation, Safe Haven, nearly beat out A Good Day To Die Hard in their respective opening weekends. I’m told that when UTA starts entertaining presentations by buyers, they will make it clear that the goal is to have the movie ready for Valentine’s Day 2015 release.
The book is divided into two intertwining love stories. It opens with a 90-year old man snowbound and stuck in his car after a major crash on an isolated road. As he drifts in and out of consciousness awaiting rescue, the man sees visions of his life love, who died earlier. Together they reminisce about their life together, including his difficulty in returning from WWII, and being unable to have children with her because of a war wound. They become renowned art collectors and the man has been lost since she died from a stroke. The other romance is between a young art history major and a handsome bull rider who fall …
‘Die Hard 5′ Wins Presidents Weekend, ‘Identity Thief’ #2, ‘Safe Haven’ Fades After Valentines Day, ‘Escape Planet Earth’ Weak, ‘Beautiful Creatures’ Bombs
TUESDAY 10TH UPDATE… TOP TEN GROSSES BELOW… This Presidents Weekend overall was a so-so moviegoing weekend and not a good one, even though this holiday is usually one of the hottest domestic. If only the opening pics had been better. Total moviegoing was $164M, or down -15% from last year. The race for #1 was closer than expected. Twentieth Century Fox’s critically panned A Good Day To Die Hard (3,552 theaters) went up more than +45% from Friday to Saturday and held Sunday to win the 4-day holiday. But Universal thought its 2nd place holdover, the Melissa McCarthy-Jason Bateman frenemy comedy Identity Thief, was giving it a run for its money. As a Universal exec told me, “To think we could even scare a #1 film is a great accomplishment.” So it came down to Monday’s grosses with the $92 million budgeted actioner that’s a 25-year-old franchise ending up with an unimpressive $36.7M in its first 5 days. Last time around, 2007′s Live Free Or Die Hard opened on a Wednesday and earned $48.3M for the 5 days and $33.3M for the 3-day weekend. Fox shrugged off the awful reviews – only 13% positive on Rotten Tomatoes – for this R-rated mess directed by John Moore, scripted by Skip Woods, and produced by Alex Young and Wyck Godfrey. (“What reviews? There are reviews on this movie?,” a Fox exec laughed.) On Sunday, Fox released international numbers claiming A Good Day To Die Hard had an “explosive weekend” grossing its biggest weekend ever - $61.5M from 9,595 screens in 63 markets to hold the #1 market position in 32 out of 37 new openers. The worldwide cume went past $80M.
There was another holiday to score: Valentine’s Day, always a huge moviegoing event. (2012′s was a $30 million Tuesday.) Thursday was won by Relativity’s critically panned romantic drama Safe Haven (3,223 theaters) -even though it was worse reviewed than Die Hard 5 with only 11% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. The Lasse Hallstrom-directed PG-13 pic has been fading since VDay. Maybe because this latest tearjerker adapted from romance novelist Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Dear John) starred Josh Duhamel who doesn’t have the sex appeal of Channing Tatum or the acting chops of Ryan Gosling. Both Die Hard 5 and Safe Haven earned ‘B+’ CinemaScores from audiences to help word of mouth. Bruce et al was #2 on Valentines Day because, when you think of romance, you think of Die Hard 5.
As for Friday’s release, The Weinstein Company’s critically panned PG toon Escape From Planet Earth (3,288 theaters) came in 4th Friday, then had a major kiddie business (Saturday +82%). But the $70M movie ($40M cost and #30 to open, according to Weinstein execs) earned only $20.8M this 4-day holiday even though there’s been nothing fresh in the family marketplace for months and most toons do $35M-40M on a 3-day weekend. With no new kid films for the next few weeks, let’s see what the multiple turns out to be. The film was directed by Cal Brunker.
Warner Bros’ Beautiful Creatures (2,950 theaters) opened Thursday as a huge disappointment after its ‘B’ CinemaScore. Scripted and directed by Richard LaGravenese, this PG-13 tween/teen goth romantic fantasy tried to capitalize on the Twilight target audience addicted to the book series – in this case, the first in the Caster Chronicles novels by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The marketing emphasized social media –from Instagram-released production photography to Facebook-hosted set visit contests to extensive Twitter-based interviews. There even were mall tours. But none of this could overcome the fact that the filmmakers altered the book, which annoyed fans who stayed away from the movie version.
Relativity Media and Reel FX have set the animated comedy Turkeys directed by Jimmy Hayward for release on November 14th, 2014. Turkeys features the voices of Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Dan Fogler. Turkeys for the time being has that weekend to itself. Additionally Relativity shifted the Lasse Hallström-directed Safe Haven to February 14, 2013 from February 8. Safe Haven is based on Nicholas Sparks’ novel and stars Josh Duhamel, Julianne Hough, David Lyons and Cobie Smulders. On its new date it will be up against Warner Bros’ Beautiful Creatures, The Weinstein Company’s animated Escape From Planet Earth, and Fox’s A Good Day to Die Hard, all of which open a day earlier Wednesday, February 13.
The latest from the Nicholas Sparks book-to-movie machine is Safe Haven, which stars Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel. She plays the woman with the mysterious past who arrives in a small town, he the widower who forces her to confront her dark past. Lasse Hallstrom directs. Relativity has set a Valentine’s week release for February 8, 2013.
Release: January 25, 2013
Directors: Steven Brill, Peter Farrelly, Will Graham, Steve Carr, Griffin Dunne, James Duffy, Jonathan Van Tulleken, Elizabeth Banks, Patrik Forsberg, Brett Ratner, Rusty Cundieff, James Gunn
Writers: Will Carlough, Tobias Carlson, Jacob Fleisher, Patrik Forsberg, Will Graham, James Gunn, Claes Kjellström, Jack Kukoda, Bill O’Malley, Matthew Portenoy, Greg Pritikin, Rocky Russo, Olle Sarri, Elizabeth Shapiro, Jeremy Sosenko, Jonathan Van Tulleken, Jonas Wittenmark, Ricky Blitt
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Bell, Halle Berry, Leslie Bibb, Kate Bosworth, Gerard Butler, Bobby Cannavale, Common, Kieran Culkin, Josh Duhamel, Anna Faris, Richard Gere, John Hodgman, Terrence Howard, Hugh Jackman, Greg Kinnear, Johnny Knoxville, Justin Long, Stephen Merchant, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloë Grace Moretz, Chris Pratt, Dennis Quaid, Liev Schreiber, Seann William Scott, Emma Stone, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet (Cast listed in alphabetical order)
Producers: Charles B. Wessler, John Penotti, Peter Farrelly, Ryan Kavanaugh
Co-Producers: Kenneth Halsband, Jason Barhydt, Marc Ambrose, Tom Gormican
Executive Producer: Tim Williams, Tucker Tooley, Jason Felts
Co-Executive Producers: Rene Rigal, Brian Kornreich
Release: February 8, 2013
Director: Lasse Hallström
Writers: Dana Stevens, Gage Lansky
Cast: Josh Duhamel, Julianne Hough, David Lyons, Cobie Smulders
Producers: Ryan Kavanaugh, Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen, Nicholas Sparks
Executive Producer: Tucker Tooley
21 AND OVER
Release: March 1, 2013
Directors: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Writers: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Cast: Miles Teller, Justin Chon, Skylar Astin, Sarah Wright, Francois Chau, Jonathan Keltz, Daniel Booko, Dustin Ybarra
Producer: David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Ryan Kavanaugh
Executive Producer: Tucker Tooley, Jason Felts, Jon Lucas, Scott Moore, David Manpearl, Luo Yan
Back at the first of the month Deadline scooped that Lasse Halstrom was in talks with Relativity Media to direct the adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel Safe Haven, which Relativity picked up in a heated auction last summer, and that a deal would happen quickly. Well, now Relativity is making it official. As I said before, it was a good bet for the matchup as Hallstrom directed the adaptation of the Sparks novel Dear John, which Relativity boss Ryan Kavanaugh financed. Today’s release:
Beverly Hills, CA (June 16, 2011) – Relativity Media has closed a deal with Oscar® and DGA-nominee Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules, Dear John) to direct their upcoming film Safe Haven, based on the latest novel from best-selling author Nicholas Sparks, announced Relativity’s President of Worldwide Production Tucker Tooley. The film is scheduled to head into production this year.
Sparks’ previous books have been made into such hit films as The Notebook, The Last Song, Nights in Rodanthe and Dear John. His latest, Safe Haven, is a gripping love story infused with suspense and discovery. When a young woman escaping her past moves to a small North Carolina town, and falls for a loving widowed father, he heals her heart, and helps her escape the danger that threatens her.
EXCLUSIVE: Relativity Media is in talks with Lasse Hallstrom to direct its adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel Safe Haven. I’m told that a deal will likely happen quickly. It’s not surprising that Ryan Kavanaugh would turn to Hallstrom to helm the adaptation of a book that Relativity paid around $2 million against $5 million to acquire in a heated auction last summer. Hallstrom directed the adaptation of the Sparks novel Dear John, a film that Kavanaugh financed.
The move also re-teams Hallstrom with Temple Hill partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, who produced Dear John, a film that was well received and grossed $110 million worldwide with Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried starring. Relativity Media acquired Safe Haven with a ticking clock — basically a nine-month window to develop the script, or the book would go back to Sparks and he’d keep the upfront payment. They got Dana Stevens to write a script, and they certainly met the deadline, as they are already looking at cast for a fall start date. Bowen and Godfrey are producing and so is Kavanaugh. In Safe Haven, a young North Carolina woman is determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships. As she begins to fall in love, she struggles with a dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her.
BREAKING: Relativity Media has struck back in the ongoing competition of Snow White movies. Ryan Kavanaugh’s film shingle has pushed up its untitled Snow White project to March 16, 2012, from June 29. This comes days after Universal moved Snow White and the Huntsman up six months to June 1. I’m not sure that Uni can push forward any further. After all, you have to make the movie before you can release it. Relativity’s movie has Tarsem Singh directing Julia Roberts, Lily Collins and Armie Hammer, while Universal has Rupert Sanders directing Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth. Will both of these pictures actually make it into production under such high stakes? It sure looks that way. The one saving grace is that Universal’s film has a darker Alice in Wonderland tone, while Relativity’s seems to be an unabashed family film.
This is just one of three pictures that Relativity has dated in moves that seem to be geared directly toward this competition against Universal, the studio with which Kavanaugh had a long slate-financing relationship.
In a deal that is in the vicinity of $2 million against $5 million, Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media won the auction for the Nicholas Sparks novel Safe Haven. Temple Hill partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey will produce with Kavanaugh and Sparks, and Tucker Tooley exec producing. All of them teamed on the adaptation of the Sparks novel Dear John, the Relativity-financed pic that grossed $110 million worldwide with Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried starring. Sparks has become the closest thing the movie business has to a slam dunk, and that allowed UTA to make a rather sensational ask in a sluggish book-to-movie marketplace. What is most intriguing is the quick trigger on the deal, whose heft turned off some potential bidders. Buyers got a 9-month window to develop a script. If that date passes and a script isn’t ready, the rights return to Sparks and he keeps the $2 million, sources tell me.