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Sony Banks On Meryl Streep As ‘Hope’ Springs Into Theatres & 2012 Awards Race

By | Wednesday August 8, 2012 @ 10:01am PDT
Pete Hammond

Today Sony Pictures is doing the unthinkable. It is breaking, on a wide release of 2500+ screens, a dialogueHope Springs-driven adult comedy/drama about the sex life (or lack of it) of a long-married couple both in their 60′s. And in the middle of August no less!

Sure it stars Meryl Streep, a bona fide box office draw even at her age, but  it’s highly unusual and somewhat risky business to go this wide with a movie that is clearly aimed at the much older audience who is slow to show up no matter what the attraction. The studio is opening on a Wednesday in order to build some good word of mouth and reviews for its first weekend where it must face more typical summer flicks like Universal’s The Bourne Legacy  and Warner Bros. The Campaign. Currently it stands at a decent 77% fresh for reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, a good sign for a movie that would seem like it would be more indie-oriented fodder than summertime major studio fare.

With the August release though Sony is also getting a jump on awards season as this cast  includes such Oscar favorites as 17- time nominee and 3- time winner Streep (most recently in February for The Iron Lady) as well as Supporting Actor winner Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive), along with a deadpan Steve Carell as their couples therapist who counsels them at a week-long retreat on how to put the sexual spark back into their marriage. Of course Streep tends to get Oscar noms for just showing up on the set, while Jones was last nominated for Best Actor for 2007′s In The Valley Of Elah, a bit of a surprise then since his film was a boxoffice non-starter that had largely been written off at that point indicating the Academy likes him, they really like him. Both stars are getting strong reviews so far. Whether the strategy works at the boxoffice for this very Academy-friendly fare (official Los Angeles Academy member screening is Sunday night at the Goldwyn) remains to be seen but producers Todd Black and Guymon Casady told me they are just hoping the audience turns out, and happy they decided to go the studio route even though that wasn’t initially the plan. Read More »

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Sony Eyes Jason Segel And Reese Witherspoon To Star In Nick Stoller-Helmed ‘Sex Tape’

By | Thursday October 27, 2011 @ 11:36am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures is starting to get hot and heavy with Sex Tape, the Kate Angelo-scripted comedy that the studio acquired in June in a seven-figure spec deal. The script’s about a married couple who take a night off from their kids, decide to get adventurous and spice things up by making a private sex tape. When they wake up, the tape is gone and they go on a desperate search to find it.

I’m told that Nick Stoller is in talks to direct the film, and that the studio wants Jason Segel and Reese Witherspoon to play the couple. I’ve been hearing this for awhile, and now the offers are going out. The  comedy will be produced by Escape Artists partners Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch, who came up with the idea. Stoller co-wrote The Muppets with Segel.

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Universal, Illumination, And Escape Artists To Film Harlem Teen Gospel Story

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and Illuminaton Entertainment have acquired the rights package to make a film based on the 60 Minutes segment Gospel for Teens. Illumination Entertainment’s Chris Meledandri has made the project his company’s first live action family film deal, and he will produce with Escape Artists’ Todd Black. The script will be written by Stephen Belber, who is currently adapting the book Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun, as a potential starring vehicle for Jamie Foxx. Belber most recently sold The Long Run to Sony and Overbrook Entertainment, and he wrote and directed the Jennifer Aniston-Steve Zahn-starrer Management. The rights package was brokered by ICM. Read More »

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Sony Pictures Pays Big Bucks To Buy ‘Sex Tape’

By | Friday June 3, 2011 @ 7:23pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: A low seven-figure spec script deal just went down as Sony Pictures acquired a spec script with the working title Sex Tape. Written by Kate Angelo, it’s about a married couple who get a night off from their kids, get adventurous and decide to spice up their lives by making a sex tape. When they wake the following morning, the tape is missing, and they must find out who took it and how to get it back. The project will be produced by Escape Artists partners Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch, who came up with the idea. UTA and David Fox rep Angelo, who most recently scripted the Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy The Back-Up Plan. Columbia Pictures execs Andrea Giannetti and Adam Milano will steer a project that will be fast tracked.

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Cannes: Sony Pictures Closing Deal For Meryl Streep Comedy ‘Great Hope Springs’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The majority of deal buzz at the Cannes Film Festival market is where the Megan Ellison-financed Wettest County in the World will be dealt for distribution, I’m told the next big deal to come together will be a Sony Pictures acquisition of Great Hope Springs, the David Frankel-directed Meryl Streep comedy from Mandate Pictures. I’ll have to get back to you on whether the studio bought more than domestic distribution rights, [UPDATE: I've heard in the neighborhood of $20 million for North American rights]  but  it’s being made in Hollywood and I’m told it dwarfs any deal that’ll be made here in Cannes. It’s a film Amy Pascal really wanted on her release schedule.

Streep and Tommy Lee Jones play one half of the troubled couple and Steve Carell plays the marriage therapist who tries to help rekindle their loveless relationship after 31 years of marriage. It’s their last shot before divorce. Vanessa Taylor wrote the script. Escape Artists’ Todd Black and Film 360′s Guymon Casady are producing. Shooting starts in August.

It is the second deal in recent days for a Meryl Streep film, after The Weinstein Company won a bidding battle  Friday for Pathe’s The Iron Lady, shortly after buyers were shown five minutes of the film. Streep stars as Margaret Thatcher and Harvey Weinstein intends … Read More »

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Larry Charles To Direct Jim Carrey Comedy

Mike Fleming

larrycharlesEXCLUSIVE: Larry Charles, who steered Sacha Baron Cohen through audacious comic turns in Bruno and Borat, is now ready to do the same for Jim Carrey. Charles has signed on to direct Pierre Pierre, a comedy that has Carrey playing the role of a Frenchman who transports a stolen painting from Paris to London, behaving more obnoxiously than any waiter you’ve ever encountered at Cannes. jim_carrey_me_myself_&_irene_001

This project is moving forward again after weathering some serious setbacks. Two years ago, the script by then-unknowns Edwin Cannistraci and Frederick Seton made the Black List and sold for $1 million, with Carrey to star and Juno‘s Jason Reitman attached to direct. AceVenturaNatureCalls14Fox Atomic’s Debbie Liebling and Peter Rice won the bidding battle over three others. Then: Reitman dropped out; Fox Atomic imploded; Liebling moved to Universal; Rice moved up in the Fox hierarchy. Sans champion, Pierre Pierre fell into turnaround. With Charles aboard, the comedy will be shopped again by its producers, Escape Artists’ Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch, and Category 5′s Brian Sher. They plan to make the movie for just over $20 million. dumbdumber1

As a connoisseur of physical comic performances, I salivated over the prospect of Carrey playing Curly Howard (each the best physical comic of his generation) in the Farrelly Brothers-directed The Read More »

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