The Drake Doremus-directed sci-fi pic Equals that we told you in the fall would star Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult is shaping up, and with financing in hand is now set to head to Berlin‘s European Film Market next month as a prime sales target. Scott Free has come aboard with Indian Paintbrush to back the film, and Exclusive Media will sell foreign rights at EFM. Nathan Parker (Moon) penned the script, and Doremus was talking up the project when he was doing press for his last pic Breathe In. Steven Rales’ producer/financier Indian Paintbrush has had a relationship with Doremus since his Like Crazy. Stay tuned.
EXCLUSIVE: Upstart producer/financier Story Mining & Supply Co has teamed with Scott Free to acquire rights to the V.E. Schwab novel Vicious. SM&SC’s Jeffrey Sharp and production president Evan Hayes will produce with Ridley Scott and Michael Schaefer, along with Allison Gillogly. She brought in the book, which was published in September by Tor Books. The acquisition was made through the development fund of SM&SC, which was formed this fall by Sharp and writer-director-financier Jim Kohlberg. Kohlberg and Sharp are behind Starz’s Outlander and The Yellow Birds, scripted and directed by David Lowery.
Vicious is about two ambitious pre-med students who discover that under the right conditions, a person can develop extraordinary supernatural abilities. Once they move from theoretical to experimental, things go horribly wrong. Their friendship becomes corrupted by terrible power on both sides, setting the stage for an epic rivalry fueled by ambition, jealousy and revenge — a toxic mix when fueled by superpowers. CAA repped the book with Waxman Leavell Literary’s Holly Root.
EXCLUSIVE: In a mid-six-figure deal, 20th Century Fox has acquired The Asset, a thriller that will be written by Morgan Davis Foehl, who with Michael Mann co-scripted Cyber, the film Mann is helming. Maybe it’s the fact that sophisticated movies such as Gravity, Captain Phillips and 12 Years A Slave are doing well, but there seems to be a renewed level of vigor for specs and pitches lately. This one had Paramount, Universal, Warner Bros and Sony all circling with producers, before Fox and Scott Free made the deal on Friday. Ridley Scott and Michael Schaefer will be the producers.
A former Army Ranger is enlisted to infiltrate a dangerous group of ex-Special Forces soldiers living overseas who have revolted against the U.S. government by assassinating confidential informants all over the world. The project was brought in by Scott Free’s Michael Pruss and Fox execs Mark Roybal and Ryan Jones. Pruss will be an exec producer. Foehl is repped by WME and Wirehouse Entertainment.
Scott Free Non Fiction, the unscripted division of Ridley Scott’s Scott Free, has partnered with TV personality Bill Rancic for a reality series project. Titled Training Day, the project, which is being taken out, will feature Rancic testing his mettle in adrenaline-charged training sessions for the country’s most dangerous jobs. In the vein of Dirty Jobs, Rancic will embed with tough men and women — from ice road truckers to SWAT teams — to get a firsthand look at the grueling work and prove he has what it takes to perform at an elite level … and survive. Scott and Rancic will executive produce with Giannina Facio, Mary Lisio and Colet Abedi. On the unscripted side, Scott Free most recently produced the series Crimes of the Century for CNN.
EXCLUSIVE: In a mid-six figure deal, 20th Century Fox has pre-emptively bought Tranquility Base, a spec script by first-time scribe Daniel Turkewitz. Scott Free’s Ridley Scott and Michael Schaefer and Brooklyn Weaver and Jonathan Krauss will produce what was described to me as a big-scale science fiction film that has elements of Lord Of The Flies in space.
Key to the deal coming together were former Indian Paintbrush guys Mark Roybal and Michael Pruss. Roybal, who ran Indian Paintbrush for Steve Rales, became a Fox exec and Pruss moved over to Scott Free as an exec. Pruss will be exec producer and Rock Shaink will serve in a co-producing capacity on Tranquility Base.
Turkewitz is an NYU graduate who got his masters in screenwriting. Welcome to Hollywood, young man. He was repped on the deal by Weaver and atty Jeff Frankel.
EXCLUSIVE: Scott Free Productions has hired Indian Paintbrush executive Michael Pruss to be senior vice president of Production. Scott Free has separately promoted production executive Elishia Holmes to senior vice president of Production. Both report to Scott Free President Michael Schaefer. Pruss joins Scott Free from Indian Paintbrush where he served as vice president and oversaw the acquisition of the Drake Doremus-directed Like Crazy at the 2011 Sundance Festival. He co-produced the director’s followup, Breathe In, which will be released in the fall. Pruss also developed A Murder Foretold with Chris Terrio, The Signal with Brad Ingelsby, Off The Grid with Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers and he is a producer on Hold On To Me, the James Marsh-directed thriller that stars Carey Mulligan and Robert Pattinson. Before that he was a Focus Features exec who worked on Milk, The American and Coraline. He was raised in London.
Holmes has been a rising star at Scott Free, where she is part of the team working on the Daniel Espinosa-directed Child 44 with Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman and Gary Oldman, with production beginning June 10. She is an exec producer of that film and is working on the J. Blakeson-directed Wool, as well as the mammoth Moses movie Exodus at Fox and the Blade Runner sequel at Alcon Entertainment, both of which will be directed by Scott Free principal Ridley Scott. She joined Scott Free …
EXCLUSIVE: Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Prods has signed a two-year, first-look deal with AMC to develop and produce scripted cable projects for the network. The pact, Scott Free’s first such first-look agreement with a cable network, stems from the production company’s collaboration with AMC on The Terror, a drama series project based on the 2007 best-selling novel by Dan Simmons, which was taken in for development by AMC in February. The Terror is joined by two other Scott Free drama projects developed under the first-look deal. One is an untitled futuristic, dystopian, sci-fi saga from executive producer and writer Jason Cahill (Fringe) and producer and Emmy-winning prosthetic makeup artist and The Walking Dead co-executive producer Greg Nicotero, who also has a deal at AMC. The other, Raiders, from executive producer and writer Evan Wright (Generation Kill), was among the finalists at this year’s AMC pilot script showcase held this month. It is a WWII drama about a rogue U.S. Navy commander who leads an unconventional warfare unit into the heart of Africa on a mission that will bend the arc of history. This marks AMC’s second first-look deal with a production company. The first one, announced in February, also is with producers who have strong feature pedigrees, Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg and their Double Feature Films.
Nat Geo Teams With Joaquin Phoenix & Casey Affleck, Scott Free And ‘Undefeated’ Helmers For Special About Last Days Of Life
EXCLUSIVE: National Geographic Channel has greenlighted a provocative documentary special from top auspices: Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck; Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin, directors of the Oscar-winning 2011 documentary Undefeated; and Scott Free, the company behind NatGeo’s hit factual drama special Killing Lincoln. The Verité documentary chronicles people’s final days before death, celebrating their lives and legacy through documentary footage, home movies, personal testimonials and interviews with friends and family members. “This is an incredible (project) documenting people in their last days and tackling the notion of death in an uplifting way,” NatGeo president Howard T. Owens said. Phoenix and Affleck, who previously collaborated on the headline-making 2010 film I’m Still Here, executive produce with Michale Muller through Strawhouse. Jules Daly will produce and David Zucker and Mary Lisio of Scott Free will executive produce, with Lindsay and Martin also producing. Production on the special will begin this spring, with broadcast set for fall 2013.
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Entertainment has made a two-year exclusive first-look deal with Michael Costigan and his COTA Films. It brings him back to the lot where he spent nine years as an executive working on such films as Charlie’s Angels, Gattaca, The People Versus Larry Flynt, Girl, Interrupted and Bottle Rocket.
The deal was brokered by Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad and president of production Hannah Minghella.
Costigan left Sony and was exec producer of Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, before he took the role of president for Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free, where he served from 2005 to 2012. There, he was exec producer of Prometheus, The Counselor, Robin Hood, Body Of Lies and American Gangster from the Scott brothers, and he produced the Mark and Jay Duplass pics Cyrus and Welcome to the Rileys. More recently, he produced Stoker, the Park Chan-wook-directed film that stars Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode, and the Zal Batmanglij-directed The East, which stars Brit Marling, Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgard. Both those films premiered at Sundance. Costigan also produced Out Of The Furnace, the Brad Ingelsby-scripted drama directed by Scott Cooper and starring Christian Bale, Casey Affleck and Woody Harrelson.
National Geographic Channel Reteams With Bill O’Reilly And Ridley Scott For ‘Killing Kennedy’ Film About JFK’s Assassination
EXCLUSIVE: Ahead of next month’s premiere of National Geographic‘s Killing Lincoln, the cable network has greenlighted Killing Kennedy, a new film from Killing Lincoln producer Scott Free about the assassination of John F Kennedy. Like Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy will be based on a book by Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly. Killing Kennedy: The End Of Camelot, O’Reilly’s latest New York Times bestseller with co-author Martin Dugard, is a follow-up to the duo’s hugely successful Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever, which has sold more than 1 million copies. The new two-hour factual drama will keep the narrative storytelling devices used by O’Reilly in the book, published in October, which recounts Kennedy’s assassination and its impact on America. “The common parallels between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy are astonishing, with both assassinations profoundly changing the nation during crucial moments in its history,” O’Reilly said. “While Kennedy’s assassination continues to garner many conspiracy theories, our story is based on facts — some that haven’t been publicly known. And with National Geographic Channel and Scott Free once again at the helm, I have the utmost trust and faith that they will bring the story of Kennedy and Camelot to life.” Casting on the two-hour film, which will combine historical insights and archives with dramatic storytelling in the signature style of the Scott brothers, is expected to begin shortly for a sprint start of production. “Collaborating with National Geographic on Bill O’Reilly’s follow-up was an easy decision,” said Scott Free principal Ridley Scott. “They share the same passion of storytelling, willing to take creative leaps and risks to keep viewers entertained to tell the provocative story of Kennedy’s last days, a pivotal and historic moment.”
Screenwriter Chris Terrio has landed a two-script deal at Warner Bros that will follow his reteaming with Argo producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov on a project with director Paul Greengrass, Deadline has confirmed. The Greengrass project with Clooney and Heslov is at Sony where the pair’s production shingle Smoke House is based. Clooney is attached to star in the original tale that unfolds amid New York crime syndicates. Terrio’s initial script for Warner Bros is expected to be next in line. In addition to his screenplay for Argo, Terrio’s resume includes directing and co-writing Sony Pictures Classics Heights as well as scripting the upcoming Tell No One and A Murder Foretold.
Scott Free Productions and 20th Century Fox are moving forward in developing Hugh Howey’s Wool series of post-apocalyptic e-novelettes with UK writer-director J Blakeson in early talks for the project, Deadline has confirmed. Fox and Scott Free acquired rights to the best-selling e-books earlier this year. Ridley Scott and Steve Zallian are producing. Blakeson wrote and directed The Disappearance of Alice Creed and co-wrote The Descent Part 2.
October 31, 2012 – Academy-Award nominated director and producer Ridley Scott (Prometheus, Blade Runner) and Scott Free London are partnering with Orchard Media and Focus Features International on a slate of six genre low-budget feature films over a period of three years. Ridley Scott will executive produce and present the slate which will be focused primarily on horror, thriller and science fiction. The films will be in association with Northern Ireland Screen and will shoot primarily in Northern Ireland using resident crew, cast, services and facilities. Focus Features International will handle world-wide sales.
Ridley Scott said: “Our target is to create a structure that enables filmmakers to push boundaries and to excite audiences. Our proposed model of filmmaking allows us to give directors the opportunity to really innovate through narrative, production techniques and distribution strategies.”
Focus Features International’s Alison Thompson commented: “There’s an appetite and market for high-concept low budget films – that combined with Ridley Scott’s pedigree will be very attractive to international buyers.”
EXCLUSIVE: Scott Free has made official news that Deadline broke on July 5. Former Summit Entertainment executive Michael Schaefer has been named president of the Fox-based company run by Ridley and Tony Scott. The post became vacant when longtime president Michael Costigan left to become a producer. Here’s the announcement:
In an announcement today, Ridley and Tony Scott appointed Michael Schaefer to the position of President, Scott Free Films. In his new position, Schaefer will oversee production and development for all projects under the Scott Free banner. Schaefer most recently served as Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and Co-Productions at Summit Entertainment. Movies he worked on during his time there include the Academy-Award winning film The Hurt Locker, 50/50 and Source Code. Prior to Summit, Schaefer worked at The Weinstein Company as VP of Production and Development.
“I am very excited to join Scott Free, one of the most dynamic and respected production companies in the business. Having the chance to work with two visionary film makers like Ridley and Tony, plus Justin, Jules and the entire team, is a dream come true, ” said Schaefer
“We are delighted that Michael has agreed to join us here at Scott Free,” said partners Ridley and Tony Scott. “He has impeccable taste, strong relationships and great business instincts and we look forward to working with him.”
Scott Free President Michael Costigan Leaving To Be Producer; Will Ex-Summit Exec Michael Schaefer Take Post?
UPDATE: Doesn’t look like it will take Ridley and Tony Scott long to name a new president for Scott Free. The name I’m hearing on the short list is Michael Schaefer, the former senior vice president of acquisitions and co-productions at Summit Entertainment who left that company after the consolidation of staff in the spring after the company was acquired by Lionsgate. Stay tuned.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 2:13 PM: Michael Costigan will be leaving his post as president of Scott Free, I’m told. Costigan will move into full-time producing after spending the past seven years with the Fox-based company run by directors Ridley and Tony Scott. Costigan, a former production executive at Columbia Pictures, has already been doing a lot of producing along with managing the considerable volume of directing vehicles for the Scott brothers. I’m told Costigan’s exit is amicable and that the company expects to set a new top executive before the summer is over.
Costigan is currently producing Out Of The Furnace, the Scott Cooper-directed revenge thriller that began as a Brad Ingelsby spec script that initially had Ridley Scott prepared to direct Leonardo DiCaprio. It just wrapped, with Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck and Zoe Saldana heading the cast. He also produced Stoker, the Park Chan-wook-directed drama that stars Nicole Kidman, and he’s also producing The East, which was scripted by The Sound Of My Voice team of Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling, with Marling starring with Ellen Page and Alexander Sarsgaard. Costigan also produced Cyrus and Welcome To The Rileys.
Deadline revealed last week that 20th Century would acquire film rights to Hugh Howey book Wool, an e-book being called science fiction’s answer to Fifty Shades Of Grey. Here’s the confirmation:
RANDOM HOUSE’S CENTURY ACQUIRES NEW SELF-PUBLISHED PHENOMENON HUGH HOWEY WITH FILMS RIGHTS SNAPPED UP BY RIDLEY SCOTT AND STEVE ZAILLIAN FOR 20th CENTURY FOX
After a fierce bidding war reminiscent of Fifty Shades of Grey, 20th Century Fox has just acquired the film rights. Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free are partnering on the deal with Film Rites’ Steve Zaillian and Garrett Basch. Kassie Evashevski at United Talent Agency brokered the deal on behalf of Kristin Nelson at NLA.
In the spirit of The Hunger Games, Wool is a high-concept novel set in a stark future; the air outside is no longer breathable, so the last community on Earth lives underground in an enormous silo. Survival is everything, and some will do anything to ensure it. The upcoming Shift Trilogy is a prequel to the story of Wool.
After a hotly contested 5-way auction, Jack Fogg, Editorial Director at Century has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to Wool and The Shift Trilogy by Hugh Howey from Jenny Meyer at Jenny Meyer Literary Agency on behalf of Kristin Nelson, president of The Nelson Literary Agency (NLA).
Much like EL James’s Fifty Shades trilogy, Wool has become a word-of-mouth sensation since the author self-published on Amazon.com, garnering over 600 five-star reviews and selling over
BREAKING: I’m hearing that 20th Century Fox is the frontrunner to acquire Wool, a self-published e-book that has become an internet sensation and is being called the sci-fi version of Fifty Shades of Grey. Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free are partnering on the deal with Film Rites’ Steve Zaillian and Garrett Basch. Producer credits are still being worked out, but they will include Scott Free’s Elisha Holmes and Michael Costigan. Fox’s Steve Asbell will oversee it.
There has been something of a stampede of bidders, including Lionsgate, for a book was written by Hugh Howey. Wool is about a dystopian future where the last inhabitants on earth band together in safe bunkers called silos. No one is allowed outside until a secret is discovered that could change the course of humanity, as well as reveal its devastating past. Bidders sparked to the book and the grassroots groundswell of reader interest reminiscent of Fifty Shades Of Grey, which sold for a fortune to Universal. UTA is repping the book on behalf of Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency and attorney Wayne Alexander.
As a former film production and finance lawyer, Dusi will provide Scott Free London with experienced business affairs knowledge and will manage the company’s legal and contractual negotiation across its growing slate of film and TV projects. He will also take primary responsibility within the company for raising production finance.
With a strong background in UK and European film production, Dusi made his name with the launch of Aria Films in 2002 – an integrated film production, financing and consultancy outfit. He went on to produce or executive produce a number of feature films including Gareth Maxwell Roberts’ Kill Kill Faster Faster, Peter Greenaway’s Nightwatching, Sallie Aprahamian’s Broken Lines starring Paul Bettany and Olivia Williams, and Paul Morrison’s Little Ashes starring Twilight Saga star Robert Pattinson.
EXCLUSIVE: Based on a 30-minute reel being shown to distributors as we speak, bidding is getting hot and heavy on The Grey, the Joe Carnahan-directed drama about an oil-drilling team struggling to survive in the wilds of Alaska after their plane crashes smack in the middle of a territorial rogue wolf pack. Liam Neeson, Dallas Roberts, James Badge Dale, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo, Nonso Anozie and Joe Anderson star in the film. CAA is shopping the Scott Free-produced pic, and I’ve heard that Warner Bros, Open Road, Summit, Lionsgate, The Weinstein Company and FilmDistrict are all in the mix.
The movie’s had heat on it since CAA showed a three-minute reel right after the Cannes Film Festival. The ask is in the $8 million range minimum guarantee and a release upwards of 3000 screens and the deal will certainly be in the seven-figures based on what I’ve heard about the footage. But the bidding is complicated by one thing: the filmmakers are insisting that The Grey be released later this year. It makes sense for a cold-weather film that has a Neeson performance that could be in the Oscar mix. And the film is ready to build buzz that starts with festivals like Toronto. The complication is, several of the distributors have crowded late-year release schedules. This could give an edge to a distributor like Tom Ortenberg’s Open Road, which is looking for exactly this kind of wide-release film.
EXCLUSIVE: Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Prods, which has been a player in scripted television, most recently with acclaimed CBS drama The Good Wife, is strengthening its commitment to unscripted TV by signing a new two-year deal with Mary Lisio ro serve as SVP of non-fiction and branded entertainment. Lisio oversees all non-scripted projects at the company, most recently shepherding the special Gettysburg for History. Sam Rockwell, who co-starred in Ridley Scott’s Matchstick Man, has come on board to narrate the two-hour special, which will premiere May 30.