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Universal And Scott Stuber Acquire ‘Weaponized’; ‘Safe House’ Scribe David Guggenheim Adapting Novel He Co-Wrote

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has closed a deal to turn the David Guggenheim and Nicholas Mennuti novel Weaponized into a feature with Scott Stuber producing through his Bluegrass Films banner. Guggenheim, who wrote Safe House for the studio and Stuber, will adapt the novel he co-authored. Deal was high six-figures for the book and seven-figures factoring in Guggenheim’s scripting fee.

The novel, to be published by the Little Brown suspense imprint Mulholland Books on July 30, is a thriller set in Southeast Asia. A wanted man having fled the U.S. to escape charges exchanges passports with another American tourist. Bad things result. There is a bit of topicality to the NSA-surveillance back story and the exiled protagonist, given recent developments involving Edward Snowden.

Stuber is coming off Identity Thief and Ted, and he’s producing the Michael Cuesta-directed Kill The Messenger with Jeremy Renner, and the Seth MacFarlane-directed A Million Ways To Die In The West. His exec Alexa Faigen will oversee the project with Uni’s Sara Scott. Deal comes as Guggenheim and Stuber are currently working on a sequel to the Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds 2012 thriller Safe House, and Black Box.

Weaponized marks Guggenheim’s debut as a novelist. His other scripting projects include Lionsgate’s Puzzle Palace and Fox’s Narco Sub. He’s repped by Paradigm, manager Adam Kolbrenner of Madhouse Entertainment and attorney Jamie Afifi. Mennuti is represented by Jonah Straus of Straus Literary.

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Universal Sets Scribe For Potential ‘Safe House’ Sequel

By | Wednesday September 5, 2012 @ 6:05pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Universal has hired scribe David Guggenheim to try drafting a sequel to Safe House, the hit drama that Daniel Espinosa directed with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. It’s far from a sure thing, as Washington isn’t really a sequels guy. But the film did well enough where you have to try. Guggenheim scripted the first installment. Scribe’s repped by Paradigm and Madhouse.

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Ryan Reynolds Teams With Atom Egoyan In Kidnap Thriller ‘Queen Of The Night’

By | Wednesday August 8, 2012 @ 8:30am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Ryan Reynolds has been set to star in Queen Of The Night, a psychological thriller that Atom Egoyan will direct next February in Ontario. Egoyan wrote the story, and scripted the film with David Fraser. Reynolds plays the father who discovers a series of disturbing clues eight years after his daughter is abducted, a trail that leads him to believe the now 17-year old girl is alive. He is determined to find her. The film is a co-production between the director’s Ego Film Arts and The Film Farm.

“I’m very excited about working with Ryan,” Egoyan said. “The richness of [Reynolds'] performances in such diverse films as Buried, Safe House and romantic fare such as The Proposal is extraordinary.” Egoyan just wrapped Devil’s Knot, a drama based on the bogus conviction of the West Memphis 3 for a triple homicide, despite the lack of any physical evidence. That film stars Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Mireille Enos and Alessandro Nivola.

Reynolds, who last starred in Safe House and had a wordless cameo in the Seth MacFarlane-directed Ted, called Egoyan “a provocative filmmaker [whose] films demand that we face what is most complex in our own psyches. Chloe, Felicia’s Journey and The Sweet Hereafter all possess the unique and careful touch of a true artist. I look forward to collaborating with him on this project and having an opportunity to … Read More »

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Warner Bros Taps ‘Safe House’ Helmer Daniel Espinosa For ‘The Outsider’

By | Thursday March 1, 2012 @ 4:26pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is negotiating with Safe House helmer Daniel Espinosa to helm The Outsider, a gritty action film scripted by Andrew Baldwin. The protagonist is a POW in Osaka in WWII who goes to work for the Yakuza. Sons of Anarchy producers Art and John Linson are producing. Espinosa, who helmed Snabba Cash, is in high demand after making his Hollywood debut with the breakout Universal hit Safe House, which stars Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. Espinosa is repped by UTA and Magnolia.

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‘Safe House’ Scribe David Guggenheim Lands Book Deal For First Novel ‘Exile’

By | Friday February 17, 2012 @ 1:39pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: David Guggenheim, who scripted the hit Universal Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds thriller Safe House, has just landed a deal to co-write his first novel. Exile will be published by Little, Brown imprint Mulholland Books in 2013. Guggenheim will collaborate with Nick Mennuti. The writers met while they matriculated in the Dramatic Writing department of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

Guggenheim describes Exile as “a fast-paced, Hitchcock-esque thriller about an American businessman living in exile in Cambodia, who gets mistaken for a mysterious government operative,” he said. “It’s an idea that I’ve wanted to bring to life for a long time and I’m thrilled to be collaborating with Nick.” Both were repped by Jonah Straus at Straus Literary, and Guggenheim is repped on the feature side by Paradigm’s David Boxerbaum and Madhouse’s Adam Kolbrenner. Mulholland Books senior editor John Schoenfelder will edit the book.

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‘Safe House,’ ‘The Vow’ Make B.O. History With $40M+ Weekend Each

By | Monday February 13, 2012 @ 4:45pm PST

Weekend box office for Universal’s Safe House turned out to be $40.2 million when actual figures came in today. Three-day estimates from Sunday proved a tad conservative at $39.3 million. Along with the $41.2 million actuals Sony reported today for The Vow, that means two movies posted openings higher than $40 million on the same weekend — the first time that has ever happened in the months of January and February.

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RECORD-BREAKING WEEKEND! 4 Films Open $20+M: ‘The Vow’ $41M, ‘Safe House’ $39M; ‘Journey 2′ $27M, ‘Star Wars 3D’ $23M

Feb. 10-12 Weekend Actuals

1. The Vow (Screen Gems/Sony) NEW [2,958 Theaters] PG13
Friday $15.3M, Saturday $16.7M, Sunday $9.2M, Weekend $41.2M

2. Safe House (Universal) NEW [3,119 Theaters] R
Friday $13.6M, Saturday $16.3M, Sunday $10.2M, Weekend $40.2M

3. Journey 2: Mysterious Island 3D (Warner Bros) NEW [3,470 Theaters] PG
Friday $6.5M, Saturday $12.6M, Sunday, $8.2M, Weekend $27.3M

4. Star Wars Episode I – Phantom Menace 3D (LucasFilm/Fox) NEW [2,655 Theaters] PG
Friday $8.6M, Saturday$8.5M, Sunday $5.4M, Weekend $22.5M

5. Chronicle (Fox) Week 2 [2,908 Theater] PG13
Friday $3.6M, Saturday $5.5M, Sunday $3.1M, Weekend $12.1M (-45%), Cume $40M

6. The Woman In Black (CBS Films) Week 2 [2,856 Theaters] PG13
Friday $3.4M, Saturday $4.6M, Sunday $2.1M, Weekend $10.1M (-51%), Cume $35.3M

7. The Grey (Open Road) Week 3 [2,801 Theaters] R
Friday $1.4M, Saturday $2.3M, Sunday $1.4M, Weekend $5M (-46%), Cume $42.8M

8. Big Miracle (Working Title/Universal) Week 2 [2,133 Theaters] PG
Friday $939K, Saturday $1.8M, Sunday $1.2M, Weekend $3.9M (-49%), Cume $13.3M

9. The Descendants (Fox Searchlight) Week 13 [1,581 Theaters] R
Friday $877K, Saturday $1.6M, Sunday $926K,Weekend $3.4M (-24%), Cume $70.7M

10. Underworld: Awakening (Screen Gems/Sony) Week 4 [1,657 Theaters] R
Friday $671K, Saturday $1.1M, Sunday $718K, Weekend $2.5M (-55%), Cume $58.9M

SATURDAY PM, 6TH UPDATE: “Looks like that first-ever 4 openings over $20 mil on a non-holiday weekend has happened,” a studio exec emails me tonight. (On the 2008 holiday weekend December 26-28, all four movies opened on Christmas to $20+M openings that three-day weekend: Fox’s Marley And Me $36.4M, Disney’s Bedtime Stories $27.4M, Paramount’s Benjamin Button $26.9M, and MGM/UA’s Valkyrie $21M.) By the way, this is Screen Gems’ biggest opening, topping Dear Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Safe House’

By | Thursday November 3, 2011 @ 1:49pm PDT

Universal has released a trailer for the spy thriller Safe House, which stars Denzel Washington as a rogue CIA agent and Ryan Reynolds as the guy trying to keep him alive. It looks like it could be fun watching Washington play a tough guy with a bit of bad in him — that would be a similar formula to his corrupt L.A. cop in Training Day, which earned him the Best Actor Oscar.

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Universal Sets Film Slate Release Dates

Mike Fleming

Universal has locked in release dates for some of its most ambitious films hatched by the team of Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley. Add these to previously set releases that include The Fast and The Furious sequel Fast Five (June 10, 2011), Cowboys and Aliens (July 29, 2011), Tower Heist (November 4, 2011), Battleship (May 18, 2012) and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (March 12, 2012). Here are the newly dated releases:

Larry Crowne, the Playtone production directed by and starring Tom Hanks and starring Hanks and Julia Roberts, will be released on Friday, July 1, 2011. Safe House, a Stuber production starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds and directed by Daniel Espinosa, will be released on Friday, February 10, 2012. Contraband, a Working Title production starring Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale and directed by Baltasar Kormakur, will be released on Friday, March 16, 2012. Untitled Judd Apatow, written, directed and produced by Judd Apatow, will be released on Friday, June 1, 2012. The Bourne Legacy, a Kennedy/Marshall and Captivate Entertainment production written and directed by Tony Gilroy, will be released on Friday, August 3, 2012. Ouija, a Hasbro Entertainment and Platinum Dunes production, will be released on Friday, November 9, 2012. 47 Ronin, a Stuber production starring Keanu Reeves and directed by Carl Rinsch, will be released on Wednesday, November 21, 2012. … Read More »

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Terry George Checks Into ‘Safe House’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Terry George has signed on for rewrite duty on Safe House, the Daniel Espinosa-directed Universal drama that goes into production early next year. Ryan Reynolds plays a young CIA agent who must transport a dangerous criminal — Denzel Washington — to safety after they are attacked at a safe house. David Guggenheim wrote the original script and Scott Stuber’s producing. WME-repped George takes the job just as he is also directing the first two new episodes of HBO’s Luck, the David Milch-created horse racing series that stars Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte. Michael Mann directed the pilot and is exec producing with Milch.

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Ryan Reynolds Fits ‘Safe House’ Into Sked

By | Wednesday August 18, 2010 @ 11:58am PDT
Mike Fleming

Days after Deadline revealed Ryan Reynolds was front runner for the Safe House role chased by every hot young actor in town, the actor is now negotiating to play the young CIA agent who must transport a dangerous criminal (Washington) to safety after both are attacked at a safe house. The Universal drama is directed by Daniel Espinosa and produced by Scott Stuber.

CAA is negotiating not only the deal, but how to fit the film into an array of plum projects that came to Reynolds after last summer’s breakout trifecta of The Proposal, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and landing the hotly contested title role of Green Lantern in the Martin Campbell-directed film.

Reynolds, who’ll next be seen in the Rodrigo Cortes-directed thriller Buried–he is in every frame of the movie, trapped underground in a coffin beneath the sand in Iraq–will start work in October in The Change-Up, the David Dobkin-directed Universal pic. If they can make a deal, Safe House follows early next year.

After that, Reynolds expects to make either Deadpool, the Fox spinoff featuring the wisecracking, indestructible character he played in X-Men: Wolverine, or the supernatural pic RIPD for Universal, which is zeroing in on a director. Reynolds wants to make both, so one film likely follows the other. In between, Reynolds will be the centerpiece of an extensive promotional tour … Read More »

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Who Wants To Play With Denzel? Every Top Young Actor From Ryan Reynolds To Shia LaBeouf And Taylor Kitsch, That’s Who

Mike Fleming

Ryan Reynolds has emerged as front runner in a pack of top young actors vying to star alongside Denzel Washington in Safe House, the David Guggenheim-scripted Universal Pictures drama that will be directed by Daniel Espinosa (Snabba Cash). Up for grabs is a great role of a young CIA agent who must transport a dangerous criminal to safety after both are attacked at a safe house.

Washington signed on weeks ago to play the criminal, and I’ve heard Reynolds, Shia LaBeouf, Taylor Kitsch, Washington’s Unstoppable co-star Chris Pine, Sam Worthington, Garrett Hedlund, Zac Efron, Channing Tatum, Chris Hemsworth and Jake Gyllenhaal are all in contention.  No offer has been made, but it will happen soon as the studio, Washington,  Espinosa and producer Scott Stuber make a decision shortly. Production begins early next year, with Argentina and South Africa among the places being scouted. Safe House becomes the latest must-have role that has prompted meetings, or in a bunch of cases, competitive auditions. The big derby still playing out is David Fincher’s search for a young actress to play the potential career-making role playing complex computer hacker Lisbeth Salander in the Sony Pictures Entertainment adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the first installment of a trilogy. Sony drew … Read More »

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Lena Headey To Star In ‘Safe House’

By | Thursday July 22, 2010 @ 4:58am PDT

Lena_HeadeyEXCLUSIVE: The Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles actress will lead the cast in a new Brit shocker being planned for next year. Michael Ironside (Terminator Salvation) is also attached. Offers are out to Kate Mara (Iron-Man 2) and Michael Trucco (Battlestar Galactica).

Safe House, which is due to begin filming next March, follows a team of US Marshals charged with protecting a mob-trial witness and her teenage daughter, Alice. Mother and daughter are relocated to an isolated compound high in the Californian Rockies. The location appears secure — outfitted specifically for witness protection — yet its past is steeped in mystery and violence…

Producer Steve Iles of Spirit Pictures pitches it as “Assault On Precinct 13 meets The Thing.” The director is Simon Hunter, whose last movie was Mutant Chronicles.Safe House is totally different from Chronicles, which was a big canvas,” Hunter tells me. “This is a world that I’m going to portray in an extremely realistic way.”

Andy Briggs, who wrote Aquaman for Warner Bros and has worked with Stan Lee and Robert Evans, has written the screenplay and is also producing.

The filmmakers are certainly building this one from the ground up to be a fanboy’s wet dream. Image Engine, the Canadian VFX shop which created the aliens in District 9, is in talks to do the monster design. Simon Bowles, who regularly works with Neil Marshall (The Descent), will be production designer. Prosthetics will be built by SFX veteran Shaune Harrison … Read More »

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Denzel Washington Back In Bad Guy Mode

Mike Fleming

oscars-actor-training-day-05-ssDenzel Washington is looking to join producer Scott Stuber on Safe House, a David Guggenheim-scripted Universal Pictures drama that will be directed by Daniel Espinosa (Snabba Cash) about a young CIA agent who must transport a dangerous criminal to safety after both are attacked at a safe house. First word of this came from New York Mag’s Vulture website, which puts Washington in the criminal role. That’s something Washington has done with relish in American Gangster and his Oscar-winning turn in Training Day. Washington’s coming off the Tony Scott-directed drama Unstoppable with Chris Pine. Pine also met on the project to play the CIA agent, I’ve heard, but the studio claims there won’t be a re-team. Insiders say Washington’s in discussions.

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