EXCLUSIVE: Anchor Bay Films has acquired Nothing To Fear, the first film produced by Slasher Films, the horror label hatched by former Guns n Roses guitarist Slash and the producing team of Rob Eric and Michael Williams. Nothing To Fear is based on an actual town in Kansas, which, according to legend, is one of the seven gateways to Hell. Anthony Leonardi III is directing. He has been the lead creature artist and storyboard artist for Constantine, Pirates Of The Caribbean 3, Rango and the upcoming 47 Ronin. Slash will be co-producing the score of the movie.
Another piece of this year’s Oscar movie puzzle was unveiled in a big way this weekend when Paramount rolled out Martin Scorsese’s 99.9%-finished version of Hugo, an ode to the early days of cinema and the eye-popping possibilities of movies. It’s the director’s first family film, 3D film and perhaps most personal film. In an intriguing and highly unusual move, Paramount held a packed screening, with tons of invited press and bloggers included, at Regal’s Downtown LA Live theaters Saturday afternoon. Then that night they also played it at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills for the Academy’s official membership screening. That last move was interesting because most films play either the weekend of opening or after for the Acad (although The Weinstein Co. unspooled their much-praised ode to the early days of cinema, The Artist, to an appreciative audience for its official Academy screening Sunday night).
It is extremely rare to show voters something that is still unfinished (one special effects shot was missing and the end credits are far from complete), but Hugo‘s media rollout has been different from the start. It was first unleashed in a much-less-finished form at the New York Film Festival last month as a “work in progress.” Reaction on the web was all over the place, generally favorable, but did not signal a major awards contender outside of the obvious technical nominations for the film’s stunning look. That screening in hindsight may have been a miscalculation.
This week, things began to heat up. Paramount had a couple of “tastemaker” screenings for AMPAS members a few days ago (one in the evening, one during lunchtime) where the median age range was said to be 60-plus — with 50 members reportedly at each. There were also reportedly 80 members who checked in for the Regal screening that was accompanied by a lively post-movie Q&A moderated by director Paul Thomas Anderson with Scorsese and his dream team of much-Oscared collaborators including DP Robert Richardson, production designer Dante Ferretti, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, composer Howard Shore and visual effects supervisor Rob Legato. Scorsese received an enthusiastic standing ovation when he was introduced, just as he did again today after a DGA screening for a Q&A moderated by James Cameron, who told him Hugo was a “masterpiece.” He added, “finally there is a Scorsese film I can take my kids to.” And Cameron also told Scorsese it was the best use of 3D he had seen, including his own films. At Saturday’s Regal Q&A, Legato actually credited the innovations in Avatar for making possible a lot of what Hugo was able to do. Musician Slash was among those also at the DGA screening and he later tweeted “Fantastic movie!”
EXCLUSIVE: Slasher Films, the genre shingle launched by Michael Williams, Rob Eric and former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, has scared up its first greenlit film. Anthony Leonardi is set to direct Nothing to Fear, and Thomas Haden Church is in talks to star. Jonathan W.C. Mills wrote the script. Leonardi is making his directing debut after serving on the creative teams of directors Gore Verbinski and Francis Lawrence, developing creatures and storyboard design for films like Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Rango, Constantine and Water for Elephants.
The pic focuses on a family’s journey toward a better life, and how it is undone by a charismatic but unbalanced man of the cloth (Church). It’s based on an actual town purported to be one of the seven gateways to hell. The picture will begin shooting in late October in Louisiana, with funding from Upload Films and upstart film investment company Middle Crisis Productions. Movie Package Company’s Shaun Redick and Ray Mansfield arranged the financing and will be executive producers. CAA reps Slasher Films and will broker a domestic deal.
EXCLUSIVE: While the outbreak of zombie and vampire films has been well chronicled, Hollywood has also become flush with Frankenstein films. The latest is an adaptation of the Peter Ackroyd novel The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein, which has just gotten Pulitzer-winning Proof playwright David Auburn signed to write the script. The project is set with RT Features, and Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert’s Ghost House Pictures. The story covers the youthful days of Frankenstein, who begins experimenting with corpses, influenced by the outspoken English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose Mary wrote the book. She’s a character in the film as well. RT Features’ Rodrigo Teixeira will produce with Tapert and Ilene Staple, while Fernando Loureiro, Jeff Vespa and Ghost House’s Nathan Kahane and Lawrence Grey will be exec producers.
That’s just one of several Frankenflicks. Universal is developing a new version of the 1931 studio classic movie with Guillermo del Toro and Scott Stuber; Summit Entertainment is developing This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, an adaptation of the Kenneth Oppel novel that is being produced by Twilight Saga’s Karen Rosenfelt; and Columbia Pictures and producer Matt Tomach recently acquired Frankenstein, a contemporary re-telling of the famous tale based on a pitch by Craig Fernandez. If that’s not enough, former Guns n Roses guitar hero Slash, whose Slasher Films is teamed with Scout Productions on a Jay Russell-attached Wake the Dead, a Frankenstein tale based on the graphic novel by Steve Niles (30 Days of Night). And let’s not forget Fox 2000’s remake of the 1975 camp classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, last heard from around Halloween, when the studio courted Glee’s Ryan Murphy, right after he wrapped an episode devoted to the original movie.
Musicians spiced up the 2011 Sundance Film Festival last weekend, with films involving Lou Reed, James Taylor and the Grateful Dead. And then there was iconic ex-Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, who spent the weekend meeting potential studio partners for three new horror films he has set under his Slasher Films producing label.
Slash launched Slasher Films last fall by setting up the Jonathan W.C. Mills-scripted fright film Nothing to Fear. He has partnered with Scout Productions’ Michael Williams and Rob Eric to acquire three horror film packages. Jay Russell is attached to direct Wake the Dead, a contemporary re-imagining of Frankenstein. It is adapted from the graphic novel by Steve Niles, whose work has been turned into such films as 30 Days of Night.
A deal is being made to produce Theorem, to be helmed by Splice director Vincenzo Natali from a script he wrote with Mike Finch. Pic is about a genius college professor who, trying to break down the genetic compound of an ancient artifact, discovers it’s a relic from hell and that he has unwittingly unlocked the equation for evil. Steve Hoban is producing.
EXCLUSIVE: Unless you answer to Rob Zombie, what musician has a name better suited to horror film making than Slash? The iconic guitarist of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver has teamed with Scout Productions to start Slasher Films. They will produce edgy contemporary horror fare with a nod to the thrillers of the ’70s and ’80s. They’ve set up their first: Nothing to Fear, a horror/thriller that follows a young family as it tries to reinvent itself by moving to a small town in rural Kansas. The family is tormented by an ancient demon with an insatiable blood lust. The script was written by Jonathan W.C. Mills, who’s currently working on the Gold Circle pic Inside Passage.