Former Warner Bros exec-turned-producer Basil Iwanyk makes the kind of star-driven big-budget films that offshore distributors were salivating over but couldn’t find enough of during Cannes. After previously leveraging that into a deal with London-based Cutting Edge Film Group that gives it music rights to five movies in exchange for development funding, and another with Italia Films and China-based Fundamental Films that promised Italia distribution rights in Greece, Turkey and the Middle East, and Fundamental releasing rights in China in exchange for a high seven-figure fund, Thunder Road has now closed a partnership deal with Christian Angermayer’s Film House Germany that amounts to a mid-seven-figure deal over three years.
This comes as the two companies are collaborating on several projects, including Ride Of The Valkyries, a fantasy film based on the German Nibelung Saga. The first project they’ll hatch from the new deal will be No Quarter, the Alessandro Camon/Michael Wilson-scripted drama about two Iraq War vets who take different paths when they return home from the Marines. At Cannes, Iwanyk joined as producer on Ivanhoe, which is being done by Film House subsidiary Eoli Tossell. Read More »
Alive Alone, the Thunder Road produced drama that Protagonist Pictures is selling, was originally announced in Cannes with Noomi Rapace and Matthias Schoenaerts starring. Schoenaerts has had to pull out for personal reasons, and now boarding are Idris Elba and Sam Worthington for a March start. The New York-set drama marks the feature helming debut of Khurram Longi. He’ll direct form his own script which featured on both the Black List and the UK Brit List. Elba stars as an ex-detainee of Guantanamo Bay working as a taxi driver, and Rapace plays a prostitute on the run from a feared crime boss (Worthington). When their worlds collide, they unexpectedly find salvation in one another. Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk is producing with Rapace acting as executive producer. Michael Benaroya’s Benaroya Pictures is financing and Protagonist is selling here in Berlin. Elba is repped by WME; Longi, Rapace and Worthington by CAA.
Related: Cannes: Protagonist, Thunder Road Set Matthias Schoenarts, Noomi Rapace For ‘Alive Alone’
EXCLUSIVE: Hot off helming the kidnap thriller Prisoners, Denis Villeneuve is circling Sicario, a Taylor Sheridan-scripted drama that is fast coming together with Black Label financing, and producing with Basil Iwanyk’s Thunder Road. Black Label is the finance/production company formed by Molly Smith, Trent Luckinbill and Thad Luckinbill. Just as Villeneuve’s films Prisoners and especially Incendies presented thrillers with complex moral dilemmas and shocking conclusions, Sicario presents a similar opportunity for the filmmaker. It focuses on the murky legal loophole that allows mercenaries to breach the border of Mexico to corral drug kingpins, as long as they are accompanied by a legitimate law officer. In this case, a female cop from Tucson accompanies two delta force-type rangers across the border to apprehend a drug lord. Once across the border, the cop finds she has stepped into No Country For Old Men terrain, with violence and depravity she never imagined. I’m told that distributors are sparked about this one, and that CAA will broker the domestic deal. The Canadian helmer is being courted for other films, but this certainly sounds like this is right in Villeneuve’s wheelhouse.
Related: Denis Villeneuve Inks Overall Deal With Alcon
EXCLUSIVE: Thunder Road has acquired The Embassy House to use as the basis for a feature about the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya which resulted in the death of four that included U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. The book was written by Sgt. Morgan Jones and bestselling author Damien Lewis and will be published next month in the U.S. by Simon & Schuster imprint Threshold Editions. It is expected to reignite a hot-button topic. Basil Iwanyk will produce and Kent Kubena will be exec producer. The film will be written by Taylor Sheridan, whose adaptation of Comancheria has Marc Forster attached. Thunder Road is producing Sheridan’s script Sicario, and they’ve set him to script a look at Benghazi that is one part Black Hawk Down and another Lawrence Of Arabia. The book is by the ex-British Army soldier who was in charge of the security detail at the embassy. He was also close with the late ambassador, who was viewed as a positive influence in the region and whose death outraged many Libyans. It’s as much a look at how terrorists were able to breach security after red flags were waved as it is a look at the courage of the men who venture deep into hostile territories to try and win the hearts and minds of very skeptical people. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Thunder Road has acquired No Quarter, a spec script by The Messenger scribe Alessandro Camon and Michael Wilson that will be produced by Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk and Michael De Luca. No Quarter is a contemporary crime story that touches on the themes of the military and the difficulty of reintegrating back into society after serving as a soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those were themes in The Messenger. Set in Los Angeles in 2007, two friends who were combat Marines and side by side survived some of the toughest fighting in the Iraq War, find themselves on opposite sides of the law. One becomes a star cop in an elite undercover unit while the other gets into a heist crew involved with a drug cartel. These men, who once depended on each other for survival, see their friendship and loyalties put to the test. Read More »
London and LA-based Cutting Edge Group invests cash in film music budgets and provides or brokers services for scoring, clearances and music supervision. In exchange, it acquires the music rights and recoups from performance royalties and secondary exploitation sources. Under a new deal with Basil Iwanyk’s Thunder Road, they’re putting a twist on slate financing. Rather than guaranteeing funds as part of a bank closing or acquiring the music rights after a film is complete, CEG is advancing development funds upfront to Thunder Road. Those funds will be secured against the producer’s forthcoming film music slate.
The first film that’s part of the deal is Keanu Reeves action-thriller John Wick, which shoots in September. The slate also includes the Daniel Espinosa-directed Gang Story starring Liam Neeson. CEG has previously invested in such films as The King’s Speech, Drive, Looper and End Of Watch. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Here’s a movie package that should be a hot one at Cannes. Protagonist and Thunder Road have teamed on Alive Alone, a drama that marks the feature directing debut of Khurram Longi. Bullhead star Matthias Schoenarts and Noomi Rapace are attached to play the leads in a thriller that focuses on the relationship between an ex-detainee of Guantanamo Bay, and a woman who is on the run from a crime boss. Longi’s script made both the Black List and the UK-centric Brit List. Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk is producing and Peter Lawson is exec producing, with production to start January in New York City. Protagonist Pictures will sell territories in Cannes while CAA reps domestic rights.
The teaming is intriguing: the Belgian Schoenarts made his breakthrough playing the tragic protagonist in Bullhead and followed starring with Marion Cotillard in Rust And Bone, and next appears in Bullhead helmer Mikael Roskam’s Animal Rescue for Fox Searchlight, the film that also stars Rapace and Tom Hardy. Since playing Lisbeth Salander in the Millennium trilogy in Sweden, Rapace has been building up her global profile in Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, Dead Man Down with … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Crazy Heart writer-director Scott Cooper has been tapped to rewrite and helm 36th Precinct, the 2004 French movie directed by Olivier Marchal. Thunder Road optioned remake rights from French producer Gaumont, which made the original thriller. That pic starred Gerard Depardieu and Daniel Auteuil and centered on rival Paris cops who ruthlessly seek a coveted promotion and blur the lines between the police and the criminals they’re supposed to catch in the process. I’m hearing the updated version will be set in the NYPD’s anti-terrorism unit. Thunder Road boss Basil Iwanyk will produce the new pic along with Cooper, with Marchal and Thunder Road’s Peter Lawson exec producing. Marchal also helmed Gang Story, the 2011 French pic that Thunder Road also is developing, with Safe House helmer Daniel Espinosa attached to direct, Liam Neeson attached to star, and David Scarpa writing the script.
Related: Thunder Road Makes ‘Valkyries’ Pitch Pact Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Basil Iwanyk’s Thunder Road has acquired Valkyries, a pitch by scribe Nick Schoenfeld for a large-scale fantasy film based on the Norse hero Sigurd. Thunder Road made the deal in partnership with Christian Angemayer’s Filmhaus Germany. Most famously recounted in the 13th century Volsunga saga and the four-part opera by Richard Wagner, Sigurd’s feature will be drawn about his recruitment to slay the monstrous dragon Fafnir to ward off a generations-long curse. Sigurd’s exploits were also chronicled by The Hobbit author J.R.R. Tolkien. Schoenfeld, who just scripted Attila for Warner Bros, here pitched a take that blends the traditional dragon-hunting plot with an original thread involving a fallen daughter of Odin (called Valkyries) and her desire to retake a place in the heavens. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: After seeing his long affiliation with Warner Bros end late last year, producer Basil Iwanyk has taken his Thunder Road in an intriguing and entrepreneurial direction that might become the way producers embrace the end of studio overhead deals. Iwanyk has redrawn Thunder Road and made deals with Italia Films and China-based Fundamental Films. Italia gets distribution rights in Greece, Turkey and the Middle East, and Fundamental gets releasing rights in China. Besides getting an inside track on having Thunder Road films play in China, Iwanyk gets high seven-figures to fund Thunder Road’s development. In the configuration set up by CAA and Gotham-based investment bank CEA, Thunder Road will own the rest of the world on all of the projects, and has the ability to make domestic distribution deals with any studio in town.
Under his new partnership, Iwanyk’s Thunder Road has already put together at least two star-driven projects. They include a remake of the French crime film Gang Story, which has Safe House helmer Daniel Espinosa attached to direct, Liam Neeson attached to star, and David Scarpa (Daredevil reboot) writing the script. They’ve also hired Grace Of Monaco‘s Arash Amel to script the story of slain journalist Marie Colvin, that is being developed as a star vehicle for Charlize Theron. Colvin was killed in Syria last year, and the film is based on a Vanity Fair article penned … Read More »
Weinstein Company Setting Dylan Sellers To Run Production And Acquisitions As Donna Gigliotti Becomes Producer
EXCLUSIVE: Peter Lawson will leave The Weinstein Company shortly to become president of production at Thunder Road, Basil Iwanyk’s Warner Bros-based producing shingle. Lawson has been executive vice president of acquisitions and co-productions at TWC, a key member of Harvey Weinstein’s deal making team. Lawson joined TWC two years ago from Miramax Films. He spent four years at Miramax, until Disney put the brakes on the company before selling the library. Lawson worked on such films as The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Happy Go Lucky. Before that, he’d been at First Look, bringing in such films as Andrew Dominik’s Chopper and the John Hillcoat-directed The Proposition.
Lawson got more involved on the production side at The Weinstein Company on films that include the Hillcoat-directed The Wettest County in the World and the Dominik-directed Cogan’s Trade. He also worked on acquisitions like The Iron Lady, and the documentaries The Tillman Story and Undefeated. After working primarily on the acquisitions side for 13 years, Lawson felt he’d taken that side of the business as far as he wanted to.
Instead, he decided to focus fully on the development and production side of the business and found a good fit with Iwanyk. Lawson met Iwanyk when Miramax looked to acquire Brooklyn’s Finest, which Iwanyk produced. Thunder Road’s recent films include The Town, the recently wrapped sequels … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Basil Iwanyk, one of the hottest feature producers of 2010 with 3 hits: Clash of the Titans, The Town and The Expendables, is making a move in television with an overall deal at Sony Pictures TV. He will develop series projects for the studio through his Thunder Road banner. Thunder Road’s TV efforts will be spearheaded by Sony TV’s drama coordinator Kerri Anderson who has … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is acquiring a pitch for an epic-sized telling of the story of general and Roman leader Gaius Julius Caesar that will be written by Chris Boal and directed by Jonathan Liebesman. The film will be produced by Basil Iwanyk and his Warner Bros-based Thunder Road banner. I’m told that it’s an original pitch that is not a biopic as much a Patton-like approach that covers the time in which Caesar was sent to Spain on a detail no one else wanted. There, he built the 10th Legion fighting force that would eventually march on Rome, overrun the forces of his close friend-turned-rival Pompey, and establish Caesar as the unrivaled ruler of the empire. The idea is to create a sweeping drama with a big movie star part, and the pitch came with some of the action scenes choreographed. The film would end with his coronation but leaves open the prospect of a second film that chronicled his trip to Egypt and eventual assassination. Iwanyk will produce with Liebesman, with David Gardner exec producing.
Liebesman, whose Battle: Los Angeles was just released on DVD, re-teams with Iwanyk just as they wrapped Clash of the Titans 2 for Warner Bros this week. The project comes from an idea that Liebesman and Iwanyk worked on with Boal while making the Clash sequel that stars Sam Worthington, Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson. Read More »