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Graham King Makes First Look Warner Bros Deal For GK And Brings ‘Jersey Boys’ Musical With Him

By | Thursday September 13, 2012 @ 6:17pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Graham KingEXCLUSIVE: Graham King and Tim Headington have made an exclusive first-look one year deal at Warner Bros, which puts GK Films back at the studio where he made Blood Diamond, the Oscar-winning The Departed, The Town and Dark Shadows. It’s also the studio that will release the Ben Affleck-directed Argo, which was one of the standout films that premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. GK co-financed that film and King is executive producer. King’s move is a surprise but an even bigger one is that he’s bringing Jersey Boys with him.

King had a four-picture put deal at Sony Pictures, which released the Johnny Depp-Angelina Jolie-starrer The Tourist. Sony is where he originally set Jersey Boys, the movie based on the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. King is moving that film–which will be directed by Jon Favreau–over to Warner Bros to be first film under this new deal. I’m told that though it is a plum project–the stage musical is a giant hit–GK and Sony didn’t see eye to eye over the budget and that is why the project is moving.

Jersey Boys will begin production in January and Warner Bros will release it Christmas, 2013. GK had a tough run in late 2011, where films like the Martin Scorsese-directed Hugo and In the Angelina Jolie-directed In The Land Of Blood And Read More »

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Scott Frank To Write And Direct GK Films Adaptation Of British Miniseries ‘Unforgiven’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Scott Frank will rewrite and direct a feature adaptation of the 2009 British miniseries Unforgiven for GK Films partners Graham King and Tim Headington. When the project was set at GK last year, Christopher McQuarrie was signed to write the early draft as a potential vehicle for Angelina Jolie. McQuarrie did his job before going off to direct Tom Cruise in One Shot for Paramount. Jolie had never been formally attached, and so it won’t be clear who’ll star until Frank does his rewrite and gets the film ready.

Frank is finishing Houdini for Sony Pictures and director Francis Lawrence, and he also scripted Hell’s Angels for director Tony Scott and Fox. Both of those are priority projects and his adaptation of the Lawrence Block novel A Walk Among the Tombstones was resurrected by Cross Creek Pictures for DJ Caruso to direct. Frank made his directorial debut on his script The Lookout.

Unforgiven is about a woman’s attempt to rejoin society after she serves a 15-year prison stretch for the murder of two policemen. The tragedy happened after the policemen came to evict her family from their farmhouse. Her hope is to live quietly and reunite with her troubled younger sister, but the paroled woman is targeted for a revenge campaign by two sons of one of her victims. Suranne Jones played the lead in the original miniseries, which was … Read More »

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GK Films Plans WWII ‘Battle Of Britain’

By | Tuesday October 4, 2011 @ 10:00am PDT
Mike Fleming

Graham King’s GK Films has hired Robert Towne to write The Battle Of Britain, a script about the largest and most sustained air battle to date. King and Tim Headington will produce. In 1940, the Royal Air Force battled the German Luftwaffe for control of British airspace over the city of London, which ultimately prevented a Nazi invasion of Britain. For King, it was a courageous battle his father told him about when he was growing up.

“My father lived in London and watched this spectacular dog fight over the city, so bringing this story of endurance and triumph to the big screen means a great deal to me,” King said in a statement. “I am also extremely excited to be joining forces with the iconic Robert Towne who is a master of mixing complex characters and tremendously compelling plots. Robert has a passion for history and a shared love of this particular story.” Towne most recently wrote the miniseries Pompeii for Scott Free and HBO, and he is currently writing Compadra, an hourlong pilot for Scott Free/FX/Fox 21. Next up for him is Next Of Kin for David Fincher, Sam Raimi and Josh Donen at Sony.

GK Films is next up with the Martin Scorsese-directed Hugo.

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FilmDistrict Acquires Taylor Hackford-Helmed ‘Parker’ With Jason Statham

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: FilmDistrict is closing a deal for U.S. distribution rights to Parker, the Taylor Hackford-directed thriller that will star Jason Statham. Production starts in early August. The John J. McLaughlin-scripted film is an adaptation of the Donald E. Westlake novel series, and Statham is playing a character that Mel Gibson played in the Brian Helgeland-directed Payback and Lee Marvin played in the John Boorman-directed Point Blank. Parker is a thief, but one who follows a strict moral code he’ll kill to uphold. The producers are Steven Chasman, Sidney Kimmel, Les Alexander, Jonathan Mitchell and Hackford. The film’s casting up quickly, and the movie was a prominent sales title during the Cannes Film Festival where Sierra/Affinity’s Nick Meyer sold offshore rights and made the domestic deal. Meyer has sold most world territories. Incentive Filmed Entertainment funded the film, and produced with Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Sierra/Infinity. Sierra/Infinity and Incentive Filmed Entertainment previously teamed on Shark Night 3D, a movie that will be released in September. Read More »

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CANNES: FilmDistrict To Release Angelina Jolie’s ‘In The Land Of Blood And Honey’

Mike Fleming

Angelina Jolie’s much-discussed feature directing debut now has a title and a distributor. Graham King and his GK Films partner Tim Headington, who financed it, have placed it with their FilmDistrict shingle. FilmDistrict CEO Peter Schlessel will slot  In The Land Of Blood And Honey, the Bosnia-set drama that Jolie scripted, for a Dec. 23 release in the US. The film is set against the backdrop of the Bosnian War in the 1990s and, according to a statement, “illustrates the consequences of the lack of political will to intervene in a society stricken with conflict. “The film is specific to the Bosnian War, but it’s also universal,” Jolie said in a statement. “I wanted to tell a story of how human relationships and behavior are deeply affected by living inside a war.” Said King: “Working with Angelina on this film and story has been a great collaboration and I am extremely proud of this film. The filmmaking is impeccable, and signals the arrival of a visceral and compelling storyteller.” Read More »

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GK Films Hires Focus Exec Kahli Small

Mike Fleming

Graham King’s GK Films has hired Focus Features exec Kahli Small to be executive vice president of production and development. She will report directly to King and will work out of GK’s Santa Monica headquarters. Kahli is a seven-year vet of Focus Features and most recently held the title of executive vice president of production and development. Her projects have included the Oscar-nominated Harvey Milk biopic Milk, the David Cronenberg-directed Viggo Mortensen starrer Eastern Promises, and The American, which starred George Clooney. Before Focus, she was head of production at Key Entertainment, and was an exec at MGM.

“Her reputation in the industry and track record for success are exactly the qualities that we are looking for in executives as we expand our company,” King said in a statement. The appointment comes at a time when GK (run by King and partner Tim Headington) are gearing up on several major projects. They include a movie adaptation of the hit stage musical Jersey Boys, the untitled biopic of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury that has a script by Peter Morgan and Sacha Baron Cohen starring, and a reboot of Tomb Raider. GK is about to start production on the Tim Burton-directed Johnny Depp starrer Dark Shadows at Warner Bros, and is in post production on the Martin Scorsese-directed 3D film Hugo Cabret, which Paramount releases Nov. 23. GK has also wrapped the William Monahan-directed London Boulevard with Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley and … Read More »

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GK Films Reboots ‘Tomb Raider’

By | Monday March 7, 2011 @ 7:00pm PST
Mike Fleming

In a pre-emptive strike, GK Films has come on board to acquire the feature film rights to TOMB RAIDER and will reboot the successful action-adventure franchise aiming for a 2013 release for the first film.

Produced by Graham King and Tim Headington, the films will create daring new adventures for the young and dynamic Lara Croft.

GK Films acquired the film rights from interactive entertainment company, Square Enix Ltd. In Dec 2010, Square Enix subsidiary, Crystal Dynamics, revealed a new game for TOMB RAIDER based around the origins of the Lara Croft story.

“We are very excited to be rebooting what is already a hugely successful film franchise and continuing the TOMB RAIDER phenomenon,” said King.

The original game was published in 1996 by the London based video game company Eidos and became one of the most successful video games of the time. Today Eidos (including Crystal Dynamics), is part of an international interactive entertainment group, Square Enix and the stage is set for this new chapter in TOMB RAIDER history.

A pop culture phenomenon, the original TOMB RAIDER games have sold over 35million game units worldwide and Lara Croft, along with Mario Brothers is the most recognized name in gaming history.

Starring Angelina Jolie, Paramount Pictures made two movies based on the daredevil archaeologist on a series of global missions in 2001 and 2003. They grossed a total of $432m at the worldwide box office.

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‘The Town’ Novelist Chuck Hogan Takes On Winter Hill Gang For GK Films

By | Monday October 18, 2010 @ 7:31pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Chuck Hogan, whose book Prince of Thieves was turned into the Ben Affleck-directed The Town, has signed to write the script for an untitled Boston crime drama centered around the Winter Hill Gang and its chief enforcer, John Martorano. The film will be produced by GK partners  Graham King and Tim Headington. GK produced The Town and this tale puts King back into the crime terrain that won him the Best Picture Oscar for The Departed.

The pic will chronicle the reign of the notorious criminal gang run by James “Whitey” Bulger and the court case that exposed a corrupt relationship between the mob and the Boston office of the FBI. Martorano was the government’s main witness and GK acquired his rights after he was released after serving 14 years for murder.

Hogan also collaborated with Guillermo del Toro on the bestselling vampire novel trilogy that began with The Strain and continued with The Fall, both of which are on the bestseller list. They are working on the final installment and will then look to set up the series for film or TV. 3Arts’ Richard Abate makes Hogan’s book deals and he just signed with UTA.

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Bob Berney Staffs New Shingle FilmDistrict

Mike Fleming

Hardly surprising, Bob Berney has brought together the team he worked with at Apparition to get started at FilmDistrict, the new shingle designed to generate pics that can play in 1500 to 2000 screen runs. The shingle was started by GK Films partners Graham King and Tim Headington and GK president Peter Schlessel. Here’s the release:

NEW YORK Oct. 12, 2010 The newly formed studio, FilmDistrict, a multi-faceted acquisitions, distribution, production and financing company, announced today its initial management team for theatrical operations.

“We’ve assembled a core team of industry pros to move us into the next wave of theatrical marketing and distribution,” says Bob Berney, President, Theatrical Distribution. “We look forward to working with our partners in exhibition to bring exciting films with creative campaigns into the marketplace.”

Read More »

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Graham King Wins Fevered Film Rights Auction To Broadway Hit ‘Jersey Boys’

By | Wednesday October 6, 2010 @ 12:54pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Graham King’s GK Films has won a spirited auction for feature film rights to the Broadway musical Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. Book writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice will write the script. King and GK Films partner Tim Headington will produce. The deal was described as “groundbreaking;” I’m told it was a substantial seven-figures. The play tells the story of how Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi went from blue-collar wrong side of the track origins to become an American pop sensation, selling 175 million records worldwide before they were 30 years old. Read More »

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Watch Out Summit And Lionsgate: Bob Berney Joins GK’s FilmDistrict Startup

Mike Fleming

Bob Berney has finally landed. He’s the new president of Theatrical Distribution for FilmDistrict, an upstart acquisition, distribution, production and financing company launched by GK Films partners Graham King and Tim Headington, and spearheaded by GK Films president Peter Schlessel.

Since this has been months in the making, Berney’s destination isn’t surprising, but his mandate certainly is. The company will compete against the likes of Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate and CBS Films for moderately budgeted projects that have wide-release breakout potential. FilmDistrict will generate 4 to 8 pictures per year when it gets going. Since Berney’s background is specialty fare, the expectation was that he would put GK Films into that space.

FilmDistrict will target films that have the potential to play on between 1500 and 2000 screens. A good example is a GK-financed effort that might be one of FilmDistrict’s early projects: London Boulevard, the directorial debut of The Departed screenwriter William Monahan that stars Keira Knightley and Colin Farrell.

Given Schlessel’s long background at Sony Pictures Entertainment, it isn’t surprising that FilmDistrict will have a cozy relationship with SPE in its early stages, with a number of the releases expected to go through the studio’s TriStar or Triumph labels. GK Films separately has two distribution slots per year through SPE’s Columbia Pictures banner for its larger-budget fare. The GK-financed Johnny Depp-Angelina Jolie-starrer The Tourist and the Martin Scorsese 3D pic Hugo Cabret will fill Sony slots, as will the GK-financed movie about … Read More »

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Johnny Depp Re-Ups Deal With GK Films

Mike Fleming

Johnny-Depp-and-Angelina-JolieEXCLUSIVE: GK Films partners Graham King and Tim Headington have re-cemented one of GK Films’ most important relationships, re-upping Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil production shingle for another three years. Depp signed his first deal with King in 2004. Under the new deal, GK Films will fully finance and co-produce film and TV projects hatched by Depp and Infinitum Nihil president Christi Dembrowski. Deal comes at as King and Headington are poised to expand their company in big ways. They’ve hired Sony Pictures honcho Peter Schlessel to become president, and they are establishing an independent film distribution unit that will be run by respected vet Bob Berney (King has not confirmed Berney will be coming aboard or that he’s starting a distribution unit).

Depp is all over GK’s current important projects, either as an actor or producer. He just starred with Angelina Jolie in the Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck-directed drama The Tourist, as well as in GK’s adaptation of Hunter Thomnpson’s  The Rum Diary. Depp’s Infinitum Nihil is teamed with GK Films to produce the Martin Scorsese-directed Hugo Cabret, the 3D film which begins production shortly. Infinitum Nihil and GK are also producing Dark Shadows for Warner Bros, with Depp starring for director Tim Burton. Depp even provided the voice for the title character in Rango, the Gore Verbinski-directed animated film that King is producing with Verbinski’s Blind Wink Productions and John B. Carls for release by Paramount Pictures next March.

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