Tonight at 9 PM, American Masters for its 200th episode unveils the Shane Salerno-directed documentary on the life of J.D. Salinger, followed by Charlie Rose’s interview with the filmmaker who spent a decade and his own money uncovering secrets of …
BREAKING: WNET’s American Masters will open its 28th season by showing a director’s cut of Shane Salerno’s feature documentary Salinger that will be 15 minutes longer than the theatrical version. The prestige program has promised that the longer cut will bare more previously unseen photos, testimony and secrets about reclusive author J.D. Salinger, including his harrowing days fighting the Nazis in WWII.
American Masters was the first to close a deal for the movie, followed by a book deal with Simon & Schuster and then a theatrical pact with The Weinstein Company. The latter later announced it would work with Salerno to develop a narrative movie about the life of the author of such literary classics as The Catcher In The Rye.
American Masters: Salinger airs January 21. I’ve watched this documentary come together over the past five years (back when I saw an early cut) and I didn’t really understand some critical resentment over baring the life of an author who was phobic about his privacy, because, after all, isn’t every worthy biographical documentary invasive? Salinger made its theatrical debut at the Toronto Film Festival last fall, with the book and movie fueled by Salerno’s unearthing of numerous bombshell revelations culled from years of research. These ranged from previously unseen photographs to, most significantly, the reveal that Salinger was in fact writing books from his bunker while he was in seclusion, and that those will eventually see the light of day.
EXCLUSIVE: In what might be the last big material sale of the year, Skydance Productions has acquired in a pre-emptive seven-figure deal an untitled science fiction project based on an original idea by Shane Salerno, who is currently co-writing one of the three Avatar sequels for James …
As the 40th Annual Telluride Film Festival winds down, The Weinstein Company has kept a relatively low profile for most of the fest. But TWC caused a stir in offering up the World Premiere and first public screening ever of Salinger, writer/director/producer Shane Salerno‘s riveting and stunning portrait of reclusive author J.D. Salinger. The documentary begins its theatrical run on Friday and will appear on PBS‘ American Masters in January. It should be a certain Oscar contender for Best Documentary Feature, not only for its superb execution but also as an investigative piece that has elicited major revelations about never-before-known Salinger literary works left behind by the author who died in 2010, which are scheduled now to be released to the world between 2015 and 2020.
The film got a one-time only “surprise” sneak preview (but was tipped over the weekend by Deadline’s Mike Fleming) at the Palm at 9 AM this morning and was followed by an onstage conversation moderated by filmmaker Ken Burns. Salinger historian David Shields, cinematographer Buddy Squires, one-time Salinger muse and friend Jean Miller were in attendance joined via Skype by Salerno and Salinger friend/one-time editor A.E. Hotchner. Early reaction from the packed screening was thumbs up, even for a movie-satiated crowd who have been watching one great film after another since the festival began on Thursday.
EXCLUSIVE: James Cameron and 20th Century Fox have upped the number of Avatar sequels they’ll make from two to three, and they’ve set three high-level screenwriters (one is a team) to get the movies in shape to be shot simultaneously. That is easily a recipe for the most expensive set of pictures ever made, and an ambitious production plan not seen since New Line and Peter Jackson made three The Lord Of The Rings films back to back. Back then, Jackson was coming off The Frighteners. Fox at least has the confidence of knowing Cameron’s last two films are the biggest-grossing pictures in movie history, with Avatar at the top by a wide margin. It’s still a gutsy play; it is not unimaginable that three Avatar installments could cost close to $1 billion. The original grossed $2.8 billion.
Cameron has set War Of The Worlds scribe Josh Friedman to write one film; Rise Of Planet Of The Apes‘ Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver to write another; with the third to be written by Shane Salerno, who wrote and directed the upcoming documentary Salinger and who previously worked with Cameron on a remake of Fantastic Voyage at Fox. The writers will collaborate with Cameron separately and co-write three separate movies with him.
The three pictures will be filmed simultaneously with production beginning next year. The release of the first sequel will be in December 2016, with the second to follow in December 2017, and the third a year later. Avatar 2, 3, and 4 will be produced by Cameron and Jon Landau through their Lightstorm Entertainment banner. Lightstorm will work once again with Joe Letteri and his team at WETA Digital on the three films.
The choice of writers came after Cameron and Landau spent weeks meeting with A-list screenwriters vying for the job. They’ve been working with Cameron from his Manhattan Beach studio.
The Weinstein Company has released its first trailer for Salinger, the Shane Salerno-directed documentary that Harvey Weinstein acquired after he and his team were the only film guys to see the film, the morning of the …
TOLDJA! Weinstein Company Confirms Worldwide Rights Deal For Shane Salerno Docu ‘Salinger;’ Sets September 6 Release
BREAKING: The Weinstein Company finally confirmed what Deadline told you exclusively on February 27: that the studio acquired theatrical rights to Salinger, the Shane Salerno-directed feature documentary on JD Salinger, the reclusive author of The Catcher In The Rye. TWC has set a September 6 theatrical release for the film. As Deadline reported, the deal is seven figures, around $2 million, and covers world rights except for the previous deal that licensed U.S. television rights to PBS’ American Masters. This was one of the most unusual deals in awhile, and came after Harvey Weinstein, David Glasser and the acquisition team were shown the film on the morning of the Academy Awards.
TWC was the only distributor that saw the finished film, and closed the deal right after. Salerno and his lawyer Robert Offer made three big deals for the movie, showing it only to parties that made deals, which allowed the filmmaker to avoid any leakage of revelations in the film that might have resulted with a screening for multiple buyers. It was first shown to American Masters, which quickly closed a 7-figure licensing deal to make it the 200th installment of that prestigious series early next year. It was then shown to Jon Karp and his editors from Simon & Schuster, and right after they saw it, they closed a 7-figure publishing deal for a biography that Salerno wrote with David Shields. So the movie has played three times, and resulted in deals north of $5 million, making it one of the richest pacts ever for a feature documentary. It took Salerno eight years and $2 million of his own money to make the movie and the book happen. Here is the official release from TWC:
EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company has acquired theatrical rights to Salinger, the Shane Salerno-directed feature documentary on the reclusive author of The Catcher In The Rye. The deal is seven figures, around $2 million, and covers world rights except for the previous deal that licensed U.S. television rights to PBS’ American Masters. The plan is to release later this year for Oscar season, and the deal came after Harvey Weinstein, David Glasser and the acquisition team were shown the film Sunday morning, the day of the Academy Awards. TWC was the only distributor that saw the finished film, and closed the deal right after. While everyone was partying over the Oscar weekend, TWC acquired Grace of Monaco with Nicole Kidman and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom with Idris Elba. All three of these films will be in the Oscar season discussion, as will Fruitvale, the film that came out of Sundance with strong buzz, and which TWC also acquired. After two years of winning Best Picture, Harvey Weinstein watched Argo best his two candidates, Silver Linings Playbook and Django Unchained. Looks like he really, really wants to be in the winner’s circle again.
That validates an unusual sales strategy that Salerno employed on the film with his lawyer Robert Offer. It was first shown to American Masters, which quickly closed a 7-figure licensing deal. The plan is to make it the 200th installment of that prestigious series, early next year. It was then shown to Jon Karp and his editors from Simon & Schuster, and right after they saw it, they closed a 7-figure publishing deal for a biography that Salerno wrote with David Shields.
Now, the documentary distribution rights are being sold to the only distributor that saw the film. I’m told that the entire deal for theatrical, publishing and U.S. TV rights will be north of $5 million, one of the richest pacts ever for a feature documentary.
For Salerno, this completes an eight year odyssey, and he has been made whole after investing $2 million of his own money into the documentary and the book. It also closes the circle for me; shortly after I arrived from Variety to Deadline Hollywood, Salinger passed away. This was not long after I’d seen an early cut of Salerno’s film. I thought it was absolutely fascinating. I haven’t seen it since, and the discretion shown in the dealmaking process indicates there are secrets that were held back. But here is what I said about it back then:
EXCLUSIVE: Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg, who scripted the Swedish The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and followed with the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee A Royal Affair, have found their next project. It’s a feature adaptation of The Power Of The Dog, the epic Don Winslow bestseller framed around the drug war and a 30-year struggle between a hard DEA agent and a family of cartel kingpins in Mexico.
Arcel will direct, and the script will be written by Heisterberg, Arcel and Shane Salerno. Salerno will produce through The Story Factory. This is the same Salerno who wrote, directed, produced and financed the J.D. Salinger documentary Salinger that earlier this week was licensed in the U.S. for an American Masters broadcast and is being shopped for feature distribution after a companion biography sold in a 7-figure deal to Simon & Schuster.
2ND UPDATE, 9:23 AM: It has been quite a week for J.D. Salinger. The Shane Salerno documentary Salinger has been shown to only two parties so far, and in both cases, the result was a smashing deal. First to see it was the American Masters team, which quickly paid low-seven figures to license U.S. domestic TV rights and make it the 200th installment of the prestigious program in January. Second to see it were the Simon & Schuster editors, who quickly made a worldwide rights deal on the companion book, The Private War Of J.D. Salinger. Agency sources tell me that deal was closer to $2 million than $1 million for the sprawling book by David Shields and Salerno. It will be published in September, just ahead of the theatrical release.
Next up: the feature distribution deal. I don’t get the impression there will be a big gang bang screening and then an auction; it will be a subtler, more selective process than that. But the goal is to lock in a distributor who’ll give it a nice theatrical play in the months before the American Masters premiere next year, and figure out DVD and those other ancillaries excluding U.S. domestic TV rights. By the time all this is done, it should be a nice outcome for Salerno and the eight years and $2 million he invested to assemble both the film and the book.
EXCLUSIVE: Hutch Parker Entertainment has partnered with producer Shane Salerno to develop Savages author’s Don Winslow’s bestselling 2007 thriller California Fire And Life. The producers will be going out to screenwriters and filmmakers shortly.
California Fire And Life tells the story of Jack Wade, once a rising star cop who fell from grace in a scandal and now makes his living as an arson investigator. His cardinal rule is “don’t get involved”, but when Jack sees the charred corpse of a young woman that has been written off as an accident, he becomes obsessed with hunting down the killer. Both Savages and Winslow’s new novel The Kings Of Cool are on the bestseller list.
In my view, there hasn’t been a quality author more underrated than Don Winslow. He hooked me with The Winter of Frankie Machine and Power of the Dog, but various turns in turnaround hell on his movies has made him a well kept secret for close to two decades. While I think that Universal miscalculated by moving the Oliver Stone-directed Savages from its fall berth to last weekend on not enough screens (the films Ted and Magic Mike provided stiff competition in the counter-programming to blockbusters niche that the studio sought for Savages), Winslow’s novel Savages has just gotten back on The New York Times bestseller list, and so has The Kings of Cool, his recently released prequel to the audacious drug tale.
‘Savages’ Author Don Winslow And ‘The Town’ Author Chuck Hogan Team Up To Write Crime Thriller Script
EXCLUSIVE: In an intriguing pairing of two top crime novelists, a script is in the works by Don Winslow, author of novels that include Savages and The Winter Of Frankie Machine, and Chuck Hogan, whose Prince Of Thieves was turned into the Ben Affleck-directed The Town. The untitled script is a contemporary crime thriller, of course, and it will be produced by Shane Salerno. The plot revolves around two men who inevitably collide, amidst a host of supporting characters. Winslow and Hogan will each focus on one of the characters and meld the plot into a script that Salerno will bring to studios once it is completed.
The deal comes at a time both authors are breaking out. Universal shifted the Oliver Stone-directed adaptation of Winslow’s Savages from a fall to July 6 slot, with a cast that includes Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta and Salma Hayek. That script was written by Salerno & Winslow & Stone. Salerno & Winslow are currently adapting Winslow’s period spy thriller Satori for Warner Bros, with Leonardo DiCaprio starring and John Lesher and Jennifer Davisson Killoran producing and Salerno executive producing. Winslow has also written a Savages prequel novel, The Kings Of Cool, which Simon & Schuster will release June 19. Several of Winslow’s other books are in play as movie properties.
Hogan has written for GK Films an untitled script that focuses on Boston’s notorious Winter Hill Gang and John Martorano, chief enforcer for James “Whitey” Bulger who became the government’s main witness. GK acquired his rights after Martorano was released following a 14-year prison stretch for a series of murders. It was during those legal proceedings that a corrupt relationship between Bulger and the FBI’s Boston office was exposed. The script is out to directors. Hogan also teamed with Guillermo del Toro on the trilogy of vampire novels that began with The Strain. The final installment, The Night Eternal, was published last fall and a film or TV deal is inevitable once del Toro completes work on Pacific Rim. Hogan is currently adapting his crime thriller Devils In Exile for Marc Shmuger’s Global Produce. The project, renamed Sugar Bandits, focuses on a group of Iraq War veterans who take on Boston’s drug trade. It goes to buyers in June.