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Skydance Promotes Jesse Sisgold To COO

By | Tuesday July 15, 2014 @ 10:00am PDT
Mike Fleming

Skydance Promotes Jesse Sisgold To COOJesse Sisgold has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer of Skydance Productions, replacing Paul Schwake. Sisgold, who was outside counsel for Skydance at his own Beverly Hills law firm before becoming president of Business Affairs and Strategic Planning in January, will report directly to David Ellison.

“In his time at Skydance, Jesse has demonstrated a deep understating of our business and creative culture,” said Ellison. “His entrepreneurial spirit makes him the perfect choice to continue paving the way for Skydance’s growth into the future.”

He will step up and oversee operations at Ellison’s shingle, which is producer and co-financier of what seems like most of the big ticket films at Paramount Pictures. That has included Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, World War Z, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Star Trek: Into Darkness. Upcoming films include the reboot of the Terminator franchise, the disaster film Geostorm, Mission: Impossible 5 and sequels to Jack Reacher, WWZ and Star Trek. Skydance also launched a TV shingle,  its first series Manhattan, to premiere on WGN America, about the quest to build the world’s first atom bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

”I’m extremely honored by this opportunity to help guide Skydance and its amazing team to the next level,” said Sisgold. “We are just getting started.”

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Skydance Television Taps Jake Rose As EVP Production

By | Tuesday May 20, 2014 @ 10:00am PDT

Skydance Television has hiredjakerose1 former Sony Pictures TV exec Jake Rose as EVP Production. Rose will oversee all television production including comedies, dramas, limited series and mini-series in the newly created post, and will report to Marcy Ross, President of Skydance Television. Rose is coming off a a ten-year stint as head of production for Sony Pictures Television Movies, Mini and Limited-Series Division where he oversaw projects such as Hatfields & McCoys, Coma, and The Company. Before Sony, Rose led Skylark Entertainment, an independent film and television production company in Los Angeles where he produced films including Jim Carrey starrer Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Street Fighter, Election, and several television mini-series including Blonde, about the life of Marilyn Monroe based upon the Joyce Carol Oates novel. Rose previously held executive positions at Walt Disney Studios and motion picture finance and bond company CBC.
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Len Wiseman To Direct Paranormal Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Black Chapter’ For Skydance

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 10:30am PDT

Len WisemanLen Wiseman (Total Recall, Sleepy Hollow) is set to direct Black Chapter, about an FBI agent drawn into a top secret military program in which spies train in paranormal abilities. Skydance Productions is co-financing and producing the science fiction thriller, scripted by Zak Penn (X-Men: The Last Stand) from a story conjured up by Penn and Wiseman. “Black Chapter is a science fiction story that draws from our own history,” said Len Wiseman. “I’ve always been fascinated by the mysteries surrounding the CIA’s astral projection program during its MK-ULTRA era. What if those experiments had actually worked? Would we even know?” Wiseman will also produce for his Sketch Films banner alongside Skydance’s David Ellison and Dana Goldberg. Skydance’s Paul Schwake is exec producing alongside David Bernardi for Sketch Films. Wiseman is repped by CAA and Behr & Abramson. Penn is repped by CAA and McKuin Frankel Whitehead, LLP.

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Don Granger Takes Exec Veep Post At David Ellison’s Skydance Productions

By | Tuesday March 4, 2014 @ 11:54am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: As David Ellison‘s Skydance Productions gets DonGrangermore creatively ambitious in the popcorn pictures it makes in partnership with Paramount Pictures, the label has added a former Par stalwart exec in Don Granger. Granger joins Ellison and Dana Goldberg at Skydance in the post of EVP Feature Productions. It is a newly created position and he will report to Goldberg, the company’s chief creative officer.

SkydancelogoAs Skydance continues to pursue tentpole films like with the reboot of The Terminator franchise, Granger seems like an ideal fit because he has spent most of his career shepherding exactly these kinds of films. He most recently worked with Paramount and Skydance producing Jack Reacher, and before that had a strong relationship with Tom Cruise as president of Motion Picture Production at United Artists when Cruise and Paula Wagner revived the label. Granger before that was senior exec at C/W Productions and before that was partner in Mutual Film Company. He cut his teeth at Paramount, where he worked from 1990-2001 and shepherded such franchises as Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, Tomb Raider and the Jack Ryan films, as well as Saving Private Ryan. The brass at Paramount is different, but many of those franchises are ones that Skydance is involved in. Read More »

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Jai Courtney Gets Offer To Play Kyle Reese In ‘Terminator’ Reboot

By | Wednesday February 19, 2014 @ 11:43am PST

"Felony" Premiere - Red Carpet - 2013 Toronto International Film FestivalThe casting for one of the key characters in Paramount and Skydance Productions’ Terminator: Genesis is almost complete — but not finalized. What’s true is that Jai Courtney has been offered the role of Kyle Reese, a gig that figures to span at least two movies that will end the story of Skynet’s battle with the resistance that began with James Cameron’s two films and two more that followed. As we told you last week, it was down to Courtney and Boyd Holbrook to land the Reese KyleReeserole originated by Michael Beihn in the first pic. If the Courtney deal makes, he will join Arnold Schwarzenegger as the signature cyborg, Game Of ThronesEmilia Clarke as Sara Connor and Zero Dark Thirty’s Jason Clarke as her son John Connor in the time-travel saga that will be directed by Alan Taylor. The film has a July 1, 2015 released date.

Related: ‘Terminator Genesis’: Between Jai Courtney, Boyd Holbrook For Kyle Reese Role?

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Skydance Taps Jesse Sisgold As President Of Business Affairs & Strategic Planning

By | Friday January 24, 2014 @ 9:14am PST

JesseSisgoldEXCLUSIVE: Jesse Sisgold has been appointed to the newly created position of President of Business Affairs and Strategic Planning at David Ellison‘s Skydance Productions. He will have oversight of business and legal affairs across all company units, as well as strategic planning for the company’s expansion, which recently has included launching a TV division last spring.  Sisgold arrives from his boutique entertainment/corporate Skydancelogofinance law firm Sisgold PC, which closed about $400 million in deals in 2013 — including every TV deal Skydance finalized from talent to distribution. Sisgold also handled development-related deals for Skydance pic projects including the Terminator reboot, Dean Devlin’s disaster epic Geostorm and the Christopher McQuarrie-directed adaptation Star Blazers. “It has been a privilege to work with Jesse this past year, and we are honored to have him officially join the Skydance family,” Ellison said today in announcing the hire. “His role will be crucial in Skydance’s growth and we are thrilled to have him on board.”

Related: Megan Ellison Won’t Fund ‘Terminator’ Revival; Skydance, Paramount Paying Read More »

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Megan Ellison Won’t Fund ‘Terminator’ Revival; David Ellison, Paramount Paying

Mike Fleming

Terminator-Arnold-as-Terminator__131206182643-575x323EXCLUSIVE: Although Megan Ellison and her Annapurna Pictures started the process on reviving the Terminator franchise, she has divested herself financially of involvement in the final two or three pictures that will now be solely financed by her brother David Ellison’s Skydance and Paramount Pictures. This has been confirmed to me, and I’m told she will retain an executive producer credit. No one was specific about how the funding of the films will be handled, but I’ve heard that Skydance will now fund 66%, and Paramount will pay for the rest. Others say this has not been determined, as the film is now being budgeted.

meganCoupled with a changeover at the top of her sales company Panorama yesterday, it might seem that Megan Ellison is tapering off. I don’t believe that’s the case. Even when she took control of The Terminator franchise when she paid $20 million or more to acquire the rights at auction around the time of Cannes 2011, this property was an anomaly for her. Her heart is in taste-maker auteur-driven fare, and she has become a patron saint of prestige films that might not otherwise get made. That is what she will focus on. Her efforts include recently named Best Picture nominees American Hustle and Her, last year’s  Zero Dark Thirty and The Master, and the upcoming Bennett Miller-directed Foxcatcher.

For her brother David, Terminator: Genesis and possibly two other films to wrap up the storyline are right in his wheelhouse. He’s at home co-financing and producing large-scale popcorn pictures, and this one fits right in with his other franchises: Mission: Impossible, Star Trek and World War Z. Both of the Ellison siblings confirmed this has happened. Read More »

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Skydance Productions Acquires Shane Salerno Sci-Fi Project In Big Year-End Deal

By | Wednesday December 11, 2013 @ 8:09am PST
Mike Fleming

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 Cameron at Fox. Salerno will write the screenplay, and Skydance’s David Ellison and Dana Goldberg will produce. Paul Schwake will be executive producer. Skydance confirmed the deal, but would not comment on its size or the film’s logline. “The second we heard Shane’s pitch, we immediately wanted to partner with him on this project,” Ellison offered. “We are thrilled to be on board.”

sal;power_of_dog_1Salerno wrote and directed the feature documentary Salinger, which was released theatrically by The Weinstein Company, and makes its TV debut as the 200th episode of American Masters on PBS. It airs January 21. A book by the same title that he co-wrote with David Shields based on the docu research became a bestseller. Salerno’s also in the middle of several high-profile producing projects including an adaptation of the seminal Don Winslow novel The Power Of The Dog, along with The Lock-Artist and another untitled script being written by Winslow and The Town‘s Chuck Hogan. Salerno is repped by CAA and Robert Offer.

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‘Terminator’ TV Series In Works In Conjunction With Film Reboot; Zack Stentz & Ashley Miller To Write And Exec Produce

Nellie Andreeva

Terminator TV SeriesSkydance Prods. and Annapurna Pictures, the companies behind the upcoming Terminator film trilogy, are expanding the franchise to television with a TV series to be done in conjunction with the first rebooted Terminator film slated for release in 2015. The series will be written and exec produced by feature scribes Zack Stentz and Ashley Miller (X-Men: First Class, Thor), with the writers of the upcoming Terminator movie Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier serving as executive producers.

The series will follow a critical moment from the original 1984 Terminator movie, taking it in a completely different direction that the film. Plot details about the upcoming Terminator movie are being kept under wraps, but it too is expected to be tied to the first movie. As the rebooted film trilogy and the new television series progress, the two narratives will be designed to intersect with each other. (Thus the head-on involvement in the series of the new film’s writers Kalogridis and Lussier.) For now, Paramount, which is Skydance and Annapurna’s partner on the feature trilogy, is not involved in the TV series, but that could change down the line. Paramount is returning to television, recently relaunching a TV division. Skydance too recently expanded into television, landing its first series, The Manhattan Project, on WGN America. The companies’ plan to intertwine the narratives of movies and TV series is reminiscent of Marvel’s efforts with Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.Read More »

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Chris McQuarrie To Direct ‘Star Blazers’ From ’70s Sci-Fi Anime Series For Skydance

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Skydance Productions has set Christopher McQuarrie to write and direct Star Blazers, the live-action adaptation of the space-set 1970s anime TV series also known as Space Battleship Yamato. McQuarrie, Josh C. Kline, David Ellison and Dana Goldberg will produce, and Shouji Nizhizaki and Paul Schwake will be exec producers.

Skydance had set McQuarrie to write back when it acquired the series in 2011. In the futuristic Star Blazers, Earth’s atmosphere has been obliterated by a distant alien race, and the survivors have one year before radiation will reach their underground refuge and wipe out the human race. The survivors get a shot of hope in the form of alien technology that can deliver a small crew across the universe and back with the means to stave off extinction. The intention is to hatch a franchise from a series that was ahead of its time, coming before Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. It becomes another big-scale film for Skydance — which is coming off World War Z, Star Trek: Into Darkness and G.I. Joe: Retaliation – with Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit coming in January. Skydance is working with Paramount and Annapurna on the Terminator reboot, and is developing Geostorm, a global disaster film which Dean Devlin will direct from a script he wrote with Paul Guyot.

McQuarrie is repped by CAA, Key Creatives’ Ken Kamins … Read More »

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Skydance Productions Ups Dana Goldberg To Chief Creative Officer

By | Thursday August 8, 2013 @ 10:00am PDT

Skydance Productions has created a whole new job for Dana Goldberg. The David Ellison-run company’s former president of production, Goldberg has been promoted to the new position of CCO. In her new role, Goldberg will oversee all aspects of creative development and production for film and television. With film projects and properties continuing to be her primary focus,  Goldberg will now also work with the television department led by Marcy Ross. “I am so proud of the company Skydance has become, and I feel truly fortunate to be working with David and the entire Skydance team,” said Goldberg in a statement. “I believe that our future is incredibly bright as we continue to make the company a welcome home for talent in both features and television.”

Related: Paramount Extends Deal With David Ellison’s Skydance

During her run at Skydance so far, Goldberg has overseen production on films including Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Jack Reacher and World War Z. Upcoming Skydance projects include the Terminator reboot and Mission: Impossible 5. Before joining Skydance, Goldberg was president of production at Village Roadshow Pictures, where she served as executive producer on films such as Will Smith’s I Am Legend, and Happy Feet.

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TOLDJA! Tom Cruise Getting Gang Back Together For ‘Mission: Impossible 5′

Mike Fleming

Paramount and Skydance have confirmed what I told you yesterday: Tom Cruise is back as star and producer of Mission: Impossible 5. No director or writer yet, officially. Here’s today’s release:

HOLLYWOOD, CA (May 7, 2013) – Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions has announced that Tom Cruise has signed-on to star and produce a 5th installment in the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE franchise. The actor will reprise the role of Ethan Hunt, who was first introduced to moviegoers in 1996.

The project is expected to announce a writer and also a director shortly and will be developed by Cruise, Paramount and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, who served as producers on previous films in the hit series. Skydance Productions, who served as co-financers and executive producers of the last installment will work closely with the team in the development and production process.

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Tom Cruise Signs Deal To Star In ‘Mission: Impossible 5′; Will Chris McQuarrie Direct?

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Ethan Hunt has accepted another mission. Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions have set Tom Cruise in a deal to star in and produce a fifth installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise. Both Paramount and Skydance have confirmed this, but they are not saying who’s writing and directing, or when they are targeting release. I’ve heard all along that the director will be Christopher McQuarrie, Cruise’s frequent collaborator who most recently wrote and directed Jack Reacher, the adaptation of the Lee Child novels that starred Cruise. The writer/director will be finalized shortly, and that person will develop the next installment with Cruise and JJ Abrams‘ Bad Robot. Abrams directed the third film in the series and he and Cruise reignited the franchise by hatching the Brad Bird-directed Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol, a film that added Jeremy Renner to the mix and saw Cruise sky-walking across the exterior glass 124 floors up on a skyscraper in Dubai. That film had a $145 million budget and a worldwide gross of nearly $700 million, the most a Cruise film has ever done.

David Ellison’s Skydance Productions will once again co-finance the film with Paramount, a role it also serves the same role on Jack Reacher. That film is in early talks for a sequel as well on a $60 million budget film that grossed $216 million worldwide. … Read More »

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Skydance Spends Big For Global Disaster Film By Dean Devlin And Paul Guyot

By | Wednesday January 9, 2013 @ 11:13am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In a seven-figure deal, David Ellison’s Skydance Productions has pre-emptively purchased an untitled global disaster film spec script written by Dean Devlin and Paul Guyot. Devlin will make his feature directing debut. Skydance’s Ellison and Dana Goldberg will produce with Devlin and his Electric Entertainment team of Marc Roskin and Rachel Olschan.

Devlin returns to the global destruction sandbox he played in when he and then-partner Roland Emmerich sold their Independence Day spec for millions, a guaranteed Fox green light and release date, and a global gross north of $800 million. They continued the destruction with Godzilla. While Emmerich continued crushing the planet with The Day After and 2012 (he and Devlin are working on two Independence Day sequels), Devlin formed Electric Entertainment and has put together movies (one was Flyboys, which featured avid aviator Ellison onscreen), and the Noah Wyle telepic series The Librarian. Devlin is currently exec producer of the TNT series Leverage. Guyot, Devlin’s co-writer on the spec, is supervising producer of that series. Read More »

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Megan Ellison Enlists Brother David For ‘Terminator’ Reboot

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Nearly 18 months after Megan Ellison pledged over $20 million for the rights to finish The Terminator‘s humanity vs the Skynet cyborgs storyline with a new series of films, she has finally closed the complicated rights deal with Pacificorp. Other than the fact no progress has been made all this time on a script, the surprise here is Ellison has enlisted her brother, David Ellison, to be her financial and creative partner. There is still no studio attached, but future Terminator films will be done as a co-production between her Annapurna Pictures and his Skydance Productions. The Ellisons will produce, while Dana Goldberg, Paul Schwake and Ted Schipper will be exec producers.

Even though Pacificorp spent $29.5 million several years ago to win the rights after Halcyon turned them over to bankruptcy court, insiders tell me that the big numbers in place 18 months ago have been adjusted downward. That is because of the uncomfortable specter of a ticking clock that has continued to wind down as no forward progress was being made. New copyright laws allow for North American rights to The Terminator to revert back to creator James Cameron in 2019 (that happens after 35 years, and The Terminator was 1984). While that law hasn’t been tested in the courts, no major film company would want to move forward on a project with a potentially catastrophic rights crisis looming. So the original pricey deal — made with the expectations there would be three films — was scaled down because the reality is they might only get to make two installments. Four films have been made so far, the first two directed by Cameron, another by Jonathan Mostow and the last, 2009′s Terminator Salvation, helmed by McG. Read More »

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Paramount Eyes Chris McQuarrie To Helm Tom Cruise In Next ‘Mission: Impossible’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After directing Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher, Christopher McQuarrie is poised to take on the next installment of Cruise’s signature tentpole. I’m told that McQuarrie is the choice to helm the fifth Mission: Impossible film that is in the early stages of being put together by Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions. They will hire writers before making it official, but he’s the guy that Cruise and JJ Abrams want.

M:I-5 is a big priority for the studio after the Brad Bird-directed Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol grossed just under $700 million worldwide. McQuarrie, who won the Oscar for scripting The Usual Suspects, has more recently become Cruise’s go-to guy as a writer. After collaborating with Cruise on Valkyrie, McQuarrie has had a credited or uncredited hand in most of Cruise’s recent films including All You Need Is Kill, Ghost Protocol (uncredited), and the Top Gun 2 film which is in limbo after the death of director Tony Scott. Paramount and Skydance also have McQuarrie developing to direct Without Remorse, the action thriller based on the Tom Clancy novel. Read More »

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Paramount, Skydance Close Deal For Tom Cruise-Attached Script ‘Our Name Is Adam’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures has closed its deal to acquire Our Name Is Adam, the T.S. Nowlin script that will have Tom Cruise play an astronaut who travels back in time and works with his younger self. I reported that Paramount would step up and not waste the first crack it had on the material through its first look deal with Mary Parent’s Disruption. The studio stepped up after it secured Skydance Productions as its partner on the film. There was buzz on the project when it looked like other studios would get a shot at the material, but that pretty much ended when Paramount entered into an exclusive negotiation last Wednesday.

This gives Paramount and Skydance yet another project with Cruise. The parties already have the Mission: Impossible franchise, the upcoming Christopher McQuarrie-directed Jack Reacher, and the sequel to Top Gun.

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Skydance Sets Laeta Kalogridis And Patrick Lussier To Script Sci-Fi Adventure

By | Monday April 16, 2012 @ 12:16pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: David Ellison’s Skydance Productions, which has been in the middle of the recent Paramount hits Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol and True Grit, is making good on its promise to develop its own original material. Ellison has set Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier to script an original science fiction adventure based on an idea hatched at Skydance.

They are keeping the idea close to the vest. Kalogridis’ scripting credits include Shutter Island and Alexander, and she was exec producer of Avatar. With her Mythology Entertainment partners Bradley Fischer and James Vanderbilt, she’s producing White House Down, the Vanderbilt-scripted drama that Roland Emmerich will direct for Sony Pictures. As for Lussier, his script credits include Wes Craven’s Dracula trilogies, My Bloody Valentine and Drive Angry. He is separately co-writing an untitled thriller for producer Jason Blum that Lussier will direct. Read More »

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Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci In Talks For Deal With David Ellison’s Skydance

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Details are sketchy at the moment, but Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s studio-based K/O Paper Products company is in negotiations to join David Ellison’s Skydance Productions. The deal would be uniquely structured, sources say; Skydance declined comment. Kurtzman and Orci are behind some of the bigger tent pole films of the past five years, including Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen as well as the Star Trek reboot and most recently Cowboys & Aliens in addition to TV series Alias and Fringe with JJ Abrams. Kurtzman and Orci are currently working on a Star Trek sequel, which they are producing with Ellison; Kurtzman, Orci and Ellison also are working together on the Tom Clancy adaptation Without Remorse, which Shawn Ryan is penning.

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