EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-nominated screenwriter Peter Morgan has stepped onto In The Heart Of The Sea, Ron Howard’s adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick high-seas drama for Warner Bros and Village Roadshow Pictures. Principal photography starts in the UK on September 10 and marks a reteam for Howard and Morgan who previously collaborated on Frost/Nixon and the upcoming racing pic Rush. Charles Leavitt wrote the original Heart Of The Sea adaptation and Morgan recently came in to work extensively with Howard on some redrafts. Philbrick’s source material tells the fate of the crew of the Whaleship Essex. It blends fact and fiction, describing in palpable detail how the ship was stalked and attacked by a sperm whale in 1820, leaving the crew adrift for 90 days and forced to turn to cannibalism. The attack on the boat largely influenced Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
Morgan’s involvement also marks a reteam with Chris Hemsworth, who stars in Heart Of The Sea and Rush. Rush, on which Morgan is also a producer, will be screened as a gala presentation in Toronto. His other upcoming projects include a collaboration with Ang Lee on a look at the boxing world of the 1960s and 1970s, as seen through the prism of its biggest rivalries and greatest fights. That 3D picture is set up at Universal. He’s also working on a project with Film4 about Salman Rushdie and the … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: One of the last buzz titles at the Toronto Film Festival is about to find a distributor. I’m told that Mark Urman’s Paladin/108 Media is acquiring all U.S. rights to Midnight’s Children, the Deepa Mehta-directed adaptation of the 1981 Salman Rushdie novel. The film will get a platform theatrical release in April. Mehta helmed the Oscar-nominated Water and this film is based on one of Rushdie’s most famous Booker Prize-winning works. Rushdie wrote the script with Mehta and he attended the film’s gala premiere in Toronto.
Midnight’s Children is a lavish period drama about India’s shift from British colonialism to independence. The story is about two infants born on midnight August 15, 1947, the moment India achieved independence. The infants are switched at birth — one rich being raised poor and the poor child is raised rich. The story contains some magical elements, but it is a symbol of the destiny for India itself, played out over three decades. The film was financed by Telefilm Canada and Echo Lake and produced by David Hamilton, with FilmNation brokering worldwide sales.
This will mark the second Toronto deal for Paladin, which acquired the Michel Gondry-directed The We And The I.
Now, is anybody going to buy Terrence Malick’s To The Wonder? I realize the film didn’t get nearly as rousing a reaction at Toronto as did Malick’s last … Read More »
The 2011 Toronto International Film Festival has filled out the rest of its slate, which consists of 268 features and 68 short films that will unspool next month. The fest announced that the likes of Brad Pitt (Moneyball), George Clooney (The Ides of March), and U2 (the Davis Guggenheim-directed docu From The Sky Down) will be among a long list of boldface names at the fest.
Toronto added 13 films to its Masters Lineup, including the North American premiere of Gus Van Sant’s Restless, and a Discovery Programme lineup that includes the international debut of the Dee Rees-directed Pariah, which premiered in January at Sundance. The fest also announced its complete lineup for Mavericks. It includes a discussion with Christopher Plummer, who stars in Barrymore, the Erik Canuel-directed adaptation of Plummer’s Tony-winning performance as actor John Barrymore; a conversation between Deepa Mehta and Salman Rushdie; a conversation with Francis Ford Coppola, whose Twixt plays Toronto; Neil Young and Jonathan Demme as they premiere the documentary Neil Young Life; Tilda Swinton as she brings We Need to Talk About Kevin to the fest; and a discussion with Sony Pictures Classics founders Michael Barker and Tom Bernard as their distribution company reaches its 20th year milestone.
EXCLUSIVE: In competitive bidding, FilmNation Entertainment has acquired In the Event of a Moon Disaster, a Mike Jones spec script that re-imagines the first moon mission. In this version, disaster strikes and the astronauts find themselves up against insurmountable odds. Jones, a former colleague of mine at Variety, turned his attention to screenwriting and has been working steadily. Most recently, he has been collaborating with Henry Selick on an untitled Pixar project, and Jones also scripted a reboot of Popeye for Sony Pictures. FilmNation’s Aaron Ryder will produce the space mission film, and Glen Basner will handle international sales. It will be the largest-budget film so far for FilmNation, which has aggressively put together its slate of projects.
FilmNation is in talks with Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon to star in Mud, the next film by Jeff Nichols, with whom FilmNation worked on Take Shelter. It also is fully financing Paranormal Activity helmer Oren Peli’s next untitled project, and recently completed the Jennifer Lawrence-starrer House at the End of the Street and The Raven, which stars John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe; Relativity Media releases that James McTeigue-directed film early next year. FilmNation will be bringing to Toronto Take Shelter; Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In; the Hugh Laurie-starrer The Oranges; and Midnight’s Children, an adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s novel. Jones is repped by CAA and The Gotham Group.
British-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie is venturing into screenwriting with Next People, a drama series project for Showtime. Rushdie will write the script for the project, which dissects different aspects of contemporary American life. Although Rushdie is considered a British writer (he was even knighted by Queen Elizabeth), he actually splits his time between London and New York and is a major American culture buff. (And a Yankees fan).
Rushdie had expressed interest in branching out into TV writing, and a few months ago, his Hollywood reps at UTA and his literary agent Andrew Wylie started discussing the possibility of him doing a TV series. Word of Rushdie’s intentions got to Showtime entertainment president David Nevins, a fan of Rushdie’s. He flew to New York to meet with the writer and woo him to do a show for Showtime. Rushdie was reportedly impressed by Nevins’ passion and agreed to develop a show for the pay cable network. Word is he went straight to Showtime and didn’t shop the project to other networks. In addition to writing, Rushdie will executive produce with Working Title TV.
Rushdie, whose style is described as “magical realism mixed with historical fiction,” published his latest novel, Luca and the Fire of Life, in November. He first received acclaim with his second novel, 1981′s Midnight’s Children, but it was another book, the controversial 1988 tome The Satanic Verses, that brought him worldwide fame, especially after Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa … Read More »
BREAKING: The e-book rift between Random House Worldwide chairman Markus Dohle and lit agent Andrew Wylie really is in the past history books. The duo has formalized a far-reaching deal to publish a memoir by Salman Rushdie. The book will be published in 2012 and will cover the Booker Prize-winning author’s entire life, including the time when he was forced into hiding after the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa on his life following the publication of The Satanic Verses in 1988. It revives a long relationship between the author and publisher.
The seven-figure deal will involve multiple imprints under the Random House roof, and covers hardcover, paperback, audio and e-book rights for English, German and Spanish-speaking territories. Random House will publish in most of the territories, while Knopf Canada will handle the book up north. The RH imprint Jonathan Cape will publish in the UK; Germany will be handled by RH’s Verlagsgruppe Random House imprint and Spain and Latin America editions will be published by Random House Mondadori’s Literatura Modadori. The Wylie Agency will sell other territories.
This is a giant turnaround from earlier this year, when Random House issued its own fatwa on Wylie after he revealed plans to form an imprint and sell the e-book rights to his author backlists exclusively to Amazon for use on its Kindle device. Dohle rescinded his order to view Wylie as a competitor when they met and found common ground for RH to continue … Read More »