EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment is in final negotiations to make a green light commitment on The Bitter Pill, the Scott Z. Burns script that Steven Soderbergh will direct as his next film. Production will start in April on a thriller which has a budget in the $30 million range. Deadline revealed that Summit was the frontrunner for a script that wasn’t distributed widely, at least initially. David Linde’s Lava Bear and Paramount were the other initial places (producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura’s deal is there), though a few equity financiers mulled the project as well. Soderbergh sparked to the film after Warner Bros halted The Man From U.N.C.L.E. after disagreements over budget and difficulty finding the lead after George Clooney dropped out because he was getting surgery. The film is a potboiler in the Jagged Edge-Basic Instinct mold about a troubled and depressed woman who is taking serious amounts of prescription drugs to deal with the anxiety surrounding the pending release of her husband from prison. Burns wrote it several years ago and set it up at Miramax under the title The Side Effects, intending to direct it but never getting there because of his busy scripting schedule that included the Soderbergh projects Contagion, The Informant! and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The deal was shopped by UTA and Anonymous Content.
EXCLUSIVE: In the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s killing by a Navy SEAL team, Hollywood is suddenly obsessed with politically-charged fact-based mission movies. Momentum is building on one of those at Warner Bros, The Mission. David O Russell is circling the picture and the studio is courting Brad Pitt to star. This could all happen very quickly.
The picture is basically the methodical six-year mission planned by American and Colombian covert operatives to free 15 hostages from the Colombian jungle. The hostages included three Americans and Ingrid Betancourt, once a candidate for President of Colombia. The script is by Peter Landesman. Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Scott Z. Burns will produce with McLarty Media, the showbiz consulting arm of D.C.-based international advisory firm McLarty Associates.
The hostages were held by the Colombian guerilla group FARC from between six and 15 years. It was a nightmarish existence as the hostages were moved around the jungles, often cruelly chained to trees at night by their necks. The central focus of the film isn’t the ordeal of those hostages but rather on Operacion Jaque, a covert effort involving numerous governments, diplomats and intelligence services and a vast network of spies, military advisers and soldiers plus high-tech surveillance measures. Nobody would confirm that Pitt was at all involved, and I’m not sure he’ll be set, but I am convinced they are talking.