EXCLUSIVE: There is anxiety in Culver City today as word gets around on the Sony lot that significant layoffs are coming as soon as Monday. “You wouldn’t be wrong to describe it as a high state of panic over here,” …
EXCLUSIVE: Screen Gems has signed on to distribute The Last Of Us, a live-action adaptation of the PlayStation 3 vidgame from Naughty Dog. Neil Druckmann, the Creative Director for the game, will write the script. The creative architects will be Naughty Dog co-presidents Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra, as well as Druckmann and Game Director Bruce Straley. They’ll team with Sam Raimi and his Ghost House Pictures banner.
The logline: Hardened survivor Joel teams with young and capable companion Ellie to journey through a radically transformed world some 20 years after an infectious pandemic ravages humanity. The game has won numerous awards and has been a big seller since its release last summer.
“Screen Gems’ Brian Dukes and Eric Ling brought this game to my attention insisting we go after it, and when I saw the quality of the storytelling, I knew the audience for this project was far greater than just the gaming community and that Neil Druckmann must write the screenplay,” Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper said. “I am thrilled that SCEA’s Riley Russell was able to get me in front of Neil and Evan Wells to plead my case. Sam and his team at Ghost House round out the perfect team to help realize Neil’s vision.”
2ND UPDATE, 12:01 PM PT: After much back and forth Saturday involving Sony, Universal and a last-ditch overture from Warner Bros, Sony finally closed its deal for Winter’s Knight, the Viking-mythology-tinged origin story of St. Nick and Christmas. Sony emerged as front-runner when it agreed to pay $1 million to newbie scribes Ben Lustig and Jake Thornton, for the biggest spec sale of this year so far. That was the easy part. Deals were then made for producers Marc Platt and Lawrence Grey. More challenging was making a deal with the white hot Kon-Tiki helmers Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, but that effort was led by incoming Sony Pictures Production President Michael De Luca. His persuasive pitch was that he plans to bring in the next generation of emerging filmmakers, much the way he did at ’90s New Line with the likes of David Fincher and Paul Thomas Anderson. That, and a precedent-setting mid-seven-figure salary for the directing team, sealed the deal. If Disney can keep to its schedule and get the next Pirates of the Caribbean to set sail before year’s end, the directors will make that after completing the pilot for the Netflix/Weinstein Company series Marco Polo, and Winter’s Knight will come after. Also intriguing is how this movie will lengthen the movie credit resume of L. Frank Baum, best known for The Wizard Of Oz. The subject matter is his 1902 book The Life And Adventures Of Santa Claus. Of course, Baum’s work has fallen into public domain, meaning anyone can pillage it for movie ideas. At the rate Baum is going, with all the Oz incarnations and now this work being turned into big money Hollywood films, he might end up spinning in his grave almost as fast as Shakespeare, long Hollywood’s most heavily exploited public domain wordsmith.
EXCLUSIVE: Dylan Minnette has been cast as the co-lead in Sony Pictures’ Goosebumps, the adaptation of the iconic Scholastic YA scary book series written by R.L. Stine. Sony nabbed the rights to the books and tapped Black’s Gulliver’s Travels helmer Rob Letterman to direct last March. The pic is loosely based on the series and is scripted by Darren Lemke and Mike White. Minnette will play Zach Cooper, who moves with his family move from NY to to the idyllic town of Greendale, MD, where his secretive new neighbor turns out to be author R.L. Stine (Black). When the many, many demons in Stine’s mind are set free by Slappy, a demonic ventriloquist’s dummy, it’s up to Zach and Stine’s niece Hannah (Odeya Rush) to put the evil genies back in the bottle. Deborah Forte and Neal H. Moritz are producing.