Virgin Produced has joined The Exchange and Tenafly Film Co to bring Eric Weber‘s 1968 tome How To Pick Up Girls! to the big screen. Talks are under way with potential screenwriters and directors to adapt the feature version of Weber’s classic seduction guide. How To Pick Up Girls has sold over 3 million copies and been translated into 20 languages. The book was made into a 1978 TV movie starring Desi Arnaz Jr. Weber will executive produce the pic. Weber also wrote and directed A Jersey Christmas (2008) and Suits (1999).
EXCLUSIVE: Virgin Produced has partnered with Cinema Capital Venture Fund and Tantrik Group to launch Virgin Produced India, a venture that will create content for the fast-growing Hindi-speaking population. VPI will be Mumbai-based, and intends to be a full-service operation that will develop, produce and distribute Bollywood films and remake Hollywood content for Indian audiences. Jasbinger Mann, the Tantrik Group founder, will be VPI managing partner.
Virgin Produced launched in 2010 and has made such films as the Bradley Cooper-Robert De Niro-starrer Limitless, as well as the Gerard Butler-starrer Machine Gun Preacher and the comedy Movie 43. It also was behind the music-infused safety video for Virgin America that was directed by G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Step Up 2 helmer Jon M. Chu, which became a viral sensation with 5 million YouTube hits. VPI will be wired to be irreverent and o respond to a movie-hungry young audience in the Indian market, where over half the population is under 25.
The tie-up is a non-exclusive pact that will see Virgin Produced have the option to co-finance, co-produce and co-market a sequel to Columbia’s dystopian sci-fi pic with Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook. That’s of course if a sequel is warranted after the pic’s May 31 release. The deal means Virgin will also support the upcoming tentpole starring Smith and his son Jaden Smith and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, with those initiatives to be announced soon. The companies said that going forward they will look to develop film and TV properties together, in which Virgin Produced would co-produce and market across its expansive global platforms. In After Earth, a crash landing leaves teenager Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and his legendary father Cypher (Will Smith) stranded on Earth 1,000 years after cataclysmic events forced humanity’s escape. With Cypher critically injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help. Those themes of family and Earth’s vulnerability drew the companies together. “As a company, we saw the opportunity to team up with one of the industry’s leading film and television production companies that also embraces this mission”, Virgin co-founder Jason Felts said in the deal announcement. “That’s why we’re excited to partner with Overbrook on future films.”
EXCLUSIVE: Richard Branson’s Virgin Produced is putting together The Whisky A Go Go, a drama series project about the famous Sunset Strip nightclub targeted for premium cable. Described as a rock ‘n’ roll twist on Casino and Boardwalk Empire, Whisky A Go Go will follow the story of the Maglieri family’s rise to power on the Sunset Strip as well as the stories of the artists and musicians who rocked the stage and the youth culture that called the club their home through the decades.
The Sunset Strip Whisky, which opened in January 1964, was founded by Mario Maglieri, Elmer Valentine, Phil Tanzini, Shelly Davis, and attorney Theodore Flier. The Maglieri family has owned and operated the club for three generations, and will be celebrating their 50th anniversary in January 2014.
Virgin Produced, the film and television development, packaging and production arm of the Virgin Group run by Branson’s partners Jason Felts & Justin Berfield, is the first company that has been able to secure rights to the Whisky A Go Go, with the two companies’ strong music ties playing a role in making the deal. On Whisky A Go Go, Virgin Produced has teamed with Brooklyn Weaver’s Energy Entertainment, Mozy Mosanko, Chris Tschupp and Colton Mitchell. Talks are underway with potential showrunners and directors, and the goal is to pitch the project to pay cable networks within the next month.
Global Briefs: Jennifer Lopez Joins NuvoTV, Virgin-VEVO Deal, Lionsgate-Summit In Spain, European Film Academy Noms
Jennifer Lopez Joining NuvoTV
Lopez and her Nuyorican Productions will contribute programming, work on strategy and assist in marketing the English-language cable network that’s aimed at Latino viewers, she told Bloomberg. In exchange, she’ll receive a minority stake. “I’m going to be a creative executive and part owner who will be very involved with every aspect of the network,” Lopez said. “Development, production, marketing, I’ll be involved on every side of it so we hit all the right points.” NuvoTV said last month it raised $40M from current investors Columbia Capital LLC and Rho Capital Partners and new investors Veronis Suhler Stevenson LLC and Tennenbaum Capital Partners LLC. The money will be used for new shows and marketing, much of which will support Lopez’s efforts, CEO Michael Schwimmer said. NuvoTV is available in 30 million U.S. homes through pay-TV systems operated by Dish Network, AT&T, Verizon Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, and Time Warner Cable.
Virgin Produced Partners With VEVO For In-Flight Programming
The deal provides the Virgin Produced Channel onboard Virgin America with VEVO music videos and original programming. Music videos from artists such as Katy Perry, Coldplay, Rihanna, will.i.am, Graffiti 6 and David Guetta are currently airing as well as an episode from the VEVO GO Shows series which features a live concert with Demi Lovato. “VEVO’s partnership with Virgin Produced brings our platform to new heights, quite literally,” said Doug McVehil, VEVO’s Senior VP, Programming, Talent & Content Operations. Each block of programming will feature a music-infused program titled VEVO Sound + City which takes Virgin Produced Channel viewers on a musical tour of one of Virgin America’s destinations. The city of San Francisco will be the first stop. The Virgin Produced Channel launched first onboard Virgin America in April.
EXCLUSIVE: The Rolling Stones and Richard Branson are teaming up again. Having released three Stones albums back in the 1990s on Virgin Records, Branson’s Virgin Produced has now acquired the rights to Robert Greenfield’s 2008 book Exile on Main Street: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones. Unlike past looks at this time in the Stones career, this film is a drama not a documentary. Like the book, the film will focus on the professional and personal relationship between head Stones Mick Jagger and Keith Richards as the band record their classic Exile on Main Street album in the south of France in the summer of 1971. Virgin Produced, partnering with City Entertainment and KippSter Entertainment, is developing the project internally. Brandon and Phil Murphy have been brought on board to write the screenplay. The Murphys, represented by Rich Cook at WME and manager Langley Perer at Mosaic, are no strangers to biopics. Among the projects on their plate currently is a Steve McQueen project for Sony and producer Jerry Weintaub. Jason Felts will serve as producer for the Stones film. Rene Rigal will oversee the project for Virgin Produced, with Joshua Maurer producing for City Entertainment and David Stern producing for KippSter Entertainment. This isn’t the only Rolling Stones film on the horizon. Brett Morgan is directing a doc on the band as part of the Stones’ 50th anniversary celebrations this year. The doc, …
The first of the film projects Relativity Media is making with its China joint venture partner Sky Land is officially underway in the Shandong province city of Linyi. The comedy 21 And Over was written and is being directed by The Hangover scribes Jon Lucas and Scott Moore and stars Miles Teller, Justin Chon, Skylar Astin and Sarah Wright. It revolves around two childhood friends who drag their straight-arrow buddy out to celebrate his 21st birthday the night before an all-important medical school interview, and the evening spirals out of control. Sky Land, a fully funded production/distribution/financing entity, is a partnership with Relativity, SAIF Partners and IDG China Media that was formed in August to “create movies which will be appealing to both Chinese and western audiences alike.” It also formed an alliance with the Chinese government-sanctioned Huaxia Film Distribution Company, making it easier to navigate the often difficult bureaucratic path for foreign entertainment companies. Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman and producing 21 And Over with SAIF’s Andy Yan and IDG’s Hugo Shong, in association with Richard Branson’s Virgin Produced. Some shooting already has been completed in Seattle.
Indie studio Entertainment One and Virgin Produced — the production unit of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group — have signed a two-year, first-look development deal in which eOne will have exclusive rights to all scripted TV development at Virgin Produced, which has been ramping up with deals since forming 11 months ago as a joint venture with Relativity Media under the leadership of CEO Jason Felts and chief creative officer Justin Berfield; the development, packaging and producing division already has a first-look deal with E! Entertainment for nonscripted TV development. The deal adds to EOne’s stable of content creators, which this year has netted NBC’s upcoming The Firm, ABC’s Rookie Blue, Syfy’s Haven, HBO’s Hung and AMC’s upoming Hell on Wheels.
FX has closed a deal for a drama series project executive produced and directed by Oliver Stone. It hails from Virgin Produced, the production arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, marking the first major scripted TV sale for the fledgling company.
Adam Gibgot will write the project, which centers on a secret group known as Darkhorses who manufacture fake news stories on grand scale to service powerful clients’ agendas. The project, whose research included interviewing a real Darkhorse, was developed internally at Virgin with Gibgot. Stone, well known for tackling conspiracy theories in his movies, Gibgot and Virgin pitched the drama to several cable networks before setting it up at FX in what the producers said was a competitive situation with Showtime. Fox TV Studios will produce. Stone is slated to direct the potential pilot and executive produce the series, which was packaged by CAA. Last year, he signed a development deal with Epix to turn Bruce Wagner’s novel Still Holding into a drama series.
Virgin Produced, which recently released its first movie Limitless on the feature side, has been ramping up its TV production operations. Its scripted TV development is overseen by head of scripted television Michael Forman. On the unscripted side, the company recently inked a a first-look deal with E!
E! Entertainment TV has signed multiyear first-look deal with Virgin Produced, the recently launched production arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. The pact is for reality programming. Virgin Produced’s unscripted development will be overseen by CEO Jason Felts and Chief Creative Officer Justin Berfield who were previously active in TV through their company J2TV. The deal with E! marks Virgin Produced’s first move in television and follows the recent launch of the company’s multiyear joint venture with Relativity Media, through which it plans to produce 2-3 films a year.
EXCLUSIVE: Richard Branson, the entrepreneur who says he is two years away from launching the commercial space travel company Virgin Galactic Airways, wants to make a movie about a guy who could certainly relate to the ambition. Branson, who this summer launched the Virgin Produced banner as a joint venture with Relativity Media, is negotiating to acquire Columbus, a script by T.S. Nowlin that has McG attached to direct a 300-style film about Christopher Columbus and his discovery of America. The script went out last week and a deal’s in the works, sources said. The pic will be produced by McG, who’s currently directing the 20th Century Fox comedy This Means War with Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy and Chris Pine.
The first film that gets Richard Branson’s Virgin Produced film shingle off the tarmac–it was innocuously mentioned as an untitled Peter Farrelly film in the announcement of Branson’s joint venture with Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity–has a bigger concentration of first class cabin-caliber actors than any under-$8 million film I can remember. And the cast is still growing. Deadline was first to reveal the Kentucky Fried Movie-style laffer when Kavanaugh replaced Overture Films as financier and the film started production. They had a good cast then, but the filmmakers keep bolstering by showing prospective talent the raucous segments shot so far, especially the Farrelly-directed seg with Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet that is especially outrageous and R-rated. Aside from Jackman and Winslet, the cast now includes Richard Gere, Anton Yelchin, Gerard Butler, Naomi Watts, Anna Faris, Johnny Knoxville, Julianne Moore, Liev Schreiber, Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Bell, Kate Bosworth, Josh Duhamel, Justin Long, Seann William Scott, Emma Stone, Jack McBrayer, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Uma Thurman. 14 segments are in the can, with 5 to go. Steve Brill, Steve Carr and James Gunn have joined a director roster that already had Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Brett Ratner, Banks and Griffin Dunne. The pic, a co-production between Greene Street and Relativity, is produced by Kavanaugh, John Penotti, Peter Farrelly and Charlie Wessler. Tim Williams and Tucker Tooley are exec producers.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Group announced that it launched Virgin Produced, a joint venture with Relativity Media for TV development, packaging and production. What the company didn’t say is that it chose as its chief creative officer and overseer of development the most diabolical of the menacing siblings from Malcolm in the Middle. Justin Berfield, who has grown up and transitioned from actor to producer with J2 partner Jason Felts, has taken that post for Branson. Felts is CEO, and they will make product to be distributed through the Rogue label. Berfield isn’t the only former kid actor I’ve come across recently who has transitioned to adulthood behind the camera. Another is Peter Billingsley, who directed the Universal comedy Couples Retreat, you have to look close to see signs of his childhood identity, as the kid who nearly shot his eye out with a BB gun in The Christmas Story. Berfield has gotten producing credits on some movies and TV projects over the past several years, and he and Felts are still working on a pic about Grateful Dead singer/guitarist Jerry Garcia.