Cannes: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard Introduce Imagine 2.0; A Pele Pic On The Croisette, A Crowd-Funded ‘Friday Night Lights’, ‘Dark Tower’, Jay-Z And One Angry White Whale

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE:When Imagine Entertainment partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard re-upped in their 26th year at Universal in early 2012, like all studio term producers they watched the deal get smaller. They also went from exclusive to first look and while that might have humbled less energetic founders who’d made 50 films for the same studio, Grazer and Howard took it as license to tap into new avenues of distribution and funding to be more productive than ever.

Consider that while Howard tinkers with the finished Formula One drama Rush and casts the Warner Bros adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick novel In The Heart Of The Sea with Chris Hemsworth, Grazer is on the Croisette, beating the drum for a Pele biopic to be directed by The Two Escobars helmer Jeff Zimbalist and his brother Michael. Grazer and production president Kim Roth called the film a close cousin to the search for genius depicted in 8 Mile, only here it’s a dirt-poor kid’s journey from being part of the Shoeless Wonders (a band of soccer wunderkinds too poor to afford shoes) to a phenom who at 17 led Brazil to the World Cup. Grazer and his partners will have the film ready by the time the world is whipped into a frenzy for World Cup action next year.

* While they’ve temporarily halted the move to turn Jack Bauer loose in a 24 feature, they’ve instead decided to bring him back in a limited series, this after selling an Arrested Development revival directly to Netflix. Grazer tells me they are absolutely moving forward with a movie version of another Imagine series, Friday Night Lights, and they will likely use crowdfunding to directly tap the rabid fan base of that drama for some of the budget. “We made a terrific feature with Pete Berg, turned it into a terrific TV series and will now make a movie from that series,” Grazer said. “I’m not sure such a thing has been done before.” Read More »

Comments 20

‘Ted’ Backer MRC In Talks To Finance Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Media Rights Capital is in serious talks to take on The Dark Tower after Warner Bros declined to make what potentially amounts to three feature films and two limited run TV series. MRC’s Modi Wiczyk is a … Read More »

Comments 232

Warner Bros Has ‘Dark Tower’ Decision Looming: And Russell Crowe Is In The Mix

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that Warner Bros is getting a new script from Akiva Goldsman for the first installment of Stephen King’s mammoth Western The Dark Tower, and that within two weeks, the studio will be making a decision on whether to green light the first leg of one of the most daring and ambitious projects to come along since The Lord Of The Rings. And here is a new wrinkle to add to the mix. Javier Bardem is no longer in the mix as gunslinger Roland Deschain. I’m told that director Ron Howard and producers Brian Grazer and Goldsman have been talking with their A Beautiful Mind star Russell Crowe about playing Deschain. While there is no deal with Crowe, that is the star that Warner Bros will be evaluating as the studio decides on whether to take a leap on an eight-volume book that has a huge following, with Howard, King and their partners planning a multi-platform presentation that could be unforgettable. The story will be told through three films and two limited run TV series.

The Dark Tower is about the last living member of a knightly order of gunslingers, with Deschain becoming humanity’s last hope to save civilization as he hits the road to find the Dark Tower. Along the way, he encounters characters, good and bad, in a world that has an Old West feel. When I last wrote about this, Universal had dropped out and Warner Bros had sparked to the idea of taking on this franchise, possibly with HBO handling the TV component that would bridge the the first and second feature films, with another limited run TV series to follow. Given HBO’s adventurous forays into fantasy with Game of Thrones, it seems like the ideal venue. Read More »

Comments 370

Warner Bros In Talks For Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’; Will Javier Bardem Saddle Up?

By | Monday March 12, 2012 @ 5:03pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Javier Bardem Stephen King The Dark TowerEXCLUSIVE: When Universal Pictures said no to making three feature films and two limited-run TV series from Stephen King’s mammoth post-apocalyptic Western The Dark Tower, the partners in the film all pledged they were going to find a way to get a movie made. Well, I hear that Warner Bros is now very close to a deal that will give Ron Howard the chance to direct at least the first feature, potentially with Javier Bardem starring as gunslinger Roland Deschain. And Akiva Goldsman (who wrote the script) is producing with Brian Grazer and the author.

Basically the studio bought Goldsman’s script and are paying him to do a polish. Howard remains attached to direct, likely in first-quarter 2013. Pic is a co-production between Goldsman’s Weed Road and Howard and Grazer’s Imagine. Bardem’s participation would depend upon his availability, but he was firmly attached when the project was at Universal.

That is an amazing development for fans of the book and for a movie that has been searching for new backing since Universal let it go last July. Back then, Universal was deciding on three features and the two TV segments, which was perhaps the most ambitious movie project since Peter Jackson shot three installments of The Lord Of The Rings back to back. Read More »

Comments 121

‘Arthur & Lancelot’ In Warner Bros Budget Crisis: Projected $130M Cost Too High

Mike Fleming

STUNNER! Legendary Pictures Postpones January Start Of ‘Paradise Lost’

EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures’ Paradise Lost isn’t the only film being readied on the Warner Bros lot to face a budget crisis. Arthur & Lancelot, the David Dobkin script that Warner … Read More »

Comments (15)

Has ‘Dark Tower’ Found A TV Home?

By | Tuesday October 25, 2011 @ 11:53am PDT

Well, maybe it’s not official, but Brian Grazer said during an interview with MTV News that the TV portion of Imagine Entertainment’s adaptation of The Dark Tower will air on HBO. “We’ll do the TV with HBO and the … Read More »

Comments (15)

Jonathan Demme Deals For Stephen King’s JFK Book As Author Heats Up H’wood Again

It looks like Jonathan Demme is the latest big name to jump on a Stephen King project, with the director confirmed to have picked up rights to King’s yet-to-be-released novel 11/22/63, about a teacher who travels back in … Read More »

Comments 22

Ron Howard Won’t Complete Dan Brown Trilogy; Sony Now Looking For New Director

EXCLUSIVE: Ron Howard directed and produced both of Sony Pictures’ films based on Dan Brown’s bestselling novels, The Da Vinci Code (in 2006) and Angels & Demons (2009). Now I’ve learned that the Imagine Entertainment principal will not be … Read More »

Comments 41

Universal Nixes Stephen King’s ‘Dark Tower’ – No Ambitious Film Trilogy Or TV Series

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The moment has come for Universal Pictures to fish or cut bait on The Dark Tower, the ultra-ambitious adaptation of the Stephen King 7-novel series that was going to encompass a trilogy of feature films and two limited run … Read More »

Comments 123

‘The Dark Tower’ Staff Put On Hiatus As Filmmakers, Studio Address Budget Problems

Mike Fleming

Universal Pictures has put pre-production staff on hiatus as they discuss ways to bring down the budget of the ambitious adaptation of the Stephen King novel series The Dark Tower. Talks are ongoing between studio brass, director Ron Howard and … Read More »

Comments 26

Mark Verheiden To Co-Write, EP NBC’s ‘Dark Tower’ Series With Akiva Goldsman

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: TV, film and comic book writer Mark Verheiden has been tapped to co-write with Akiva Goldsman the NBC TV series The Dark Tower. The project is part of a massive joint deal Universal Pictures and NBC Universal TV … Read More »

Comments (12)

Javier Bardem Closing ‘Dark Tower’ Deal

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Javier Bardem is close to sealing his deal with Universal Pictures to play gunslinger Roland Deschain in The Dark Tower, the mammoth adaptation of the Stephen King 7-novel series that’ll span three movies and a limited run TV series in between each film. Director Ron Howard begins production on the first film in September, and he’ll also direct the first TV segment. Akiva Goldsman has scripted the film and the initial TV component. Imagine Entertainment chief Brian Grazer is producing the films with Goldsman and King. Goldsman will produce the TV part through his Weed Road banner.

Bardem, who won the Oscar for his ferocious portrayal of a hit man in  No Country For Old Men and who was more recently nominated for Biutiful, is a strong match to play the last living member of a knightly order of gunslingers. Deadline revealed in late January that Bardem had been offered the role of Deschain, who becomes humanity’s last hope to save civilization as he hits the road to find the Dark Tower. Along the way, he encounters characters, good and bad, in a world that has an old West feel.

Bardem’s WME reps are putting the finishing touches on the deal, and they are close enough that Howard has begun meeting with other actors to cast the roles around Bardem. It’s a complex deal, almost unprecedented, because it calls for Bardem to star in the feature film and the TV component. His deal will also include options for two sequels (the TV program that runs between the second and third films will be a prequel). I’m told it will add up to a career-best payday for Bardem. Howard and Goldsman have told me they see the trilogy as their answer to the Peter Jackson-directed adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. While Middle Earth had a mystical medieval feel, The Dark Tower vibe is one that Goldsman described as “an alternate Americana, one part post-apocalyptic, one part Sergio Leone.” Read More »

Comments 94

Ron Howard On ‘The Dark Tower’

Mike Fleming

While I had Ron Howard on the phone yesterday to discuss the Imagine/Reliance Writers Lab that Karen Kehela Sherwood will supervise, I wasn’t going to let him get away without providing some update on The Dark Tower, the adaptation … Read More »

Comments 20

Universal Sets Film Slate Release Dates

Mike Fleming

Universal has locked in release dates for some of its most ambitious films hatched by the team of Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley. Add these to previously set releases that include The Fast and The Furious sequel Fast Five (June … Read More »

Comments 25

Networks Go For Dramas Based On Source Material; 3 More Adaptations Enter The Fray

Nellie Andreeva

With drama sale season in full force, book and format adaptations have emerged as a red-hot commodity. ABC is working on a U.S. version of hit British series Spooks with writer Michael Seitzman, NBC is developing an adaptation … Read More »

Comments (5)

Universal Lands Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ And Plans Unprecedented Feature/Network TV Adaptation

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television Entertainment have closed a deal to turn Stephen King’s mammoth novel series The Dark Tower into a feature film trilogy and a network TV series, both of which will be creatively steered by … Read More »

Comments 389

A Post Comic-Con Wish List of 15 Films The Geek Crowd Really Wants To See

Mike Fleming

Studios brought stars and film clips to Comic-Con, seeking geek love for all of its superhero and fantasy projects. While they’re paying attention, how about some of the more ambitious films these die-hards have waited years to see? After … Read More »

Comments 41