EXCLUSIVE: New York-based Wayfare Entertainment is being re-branded Start Motion Pictures, as part of an ongoing effort of parent company Start Media LLC to unify the branding and operations of it’s growing portfolio of entertainment and media holdings. Set up five years ago by Ben Browning and Start Media CEO Michael Maher, Wayfare Entertainment has produced and fully financed films that have grossed over $130 million worldwide. Wayfare’s past films include Universal’s Sanctum produced with James Cameron, the Focus Features’ drama Its Kind Of A Funny Story, Neil Jordan’s Ondine, and the upcoming Sebastian Cordero-directed space thriller Europa Report to be released by Magnolia Pictures in summer 2013. Upcoming Wayfare projects include an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book for Disney; the recently announced Passengers, which will star Keanu Reeves and Reese Witherspoon; and a development slate including Josh Zetumer’s Villain, an adaptation of Matt Westrup’s award winning creature short The Gate and the Princess Diana conspiracy thriller Inquest.
“It is very exciting to be able to grow within a larger organization as ambitious and forward thinking as Start Media,” said Wayfare CEO Ben Browning. Said Michael Maher, CEO of Start Media “With all of the changes occurring in content generation and distribution the benefit of integrating a best-in-class engine for film content into our larger operation became overwhelmingly clear. Ben and his team at Wayfare have demonstrated an expertise in and appreciation for the realities of the independent film business, … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Game Of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire director Brian Kirk has just been set to helm Passengers in his major feature film debut. Wayfare Entertainment has come aboard to finance and produce the sci-fi pic that will star Keanu Reeves in a script by Prometheus scribe Jon Spaihts. The story follows a spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant colony planet that has a malfunction in one of its sleep chambers. As a result, a single passenger (Reeves) is awakened 90 years before anyone else. Faced with the prospect of growing old and dying alone, he eventually decides to wake up a second passenger, marking the beginning of what becomes a unique love story. That second passenger, a female, has yet to be cast. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Wayfare Entertainment has pre-emptively purchased Inquest, a spec by Sam Cohen. It’s sure to raise a ruckus over its premise, that the death of Princess Diana might have been premeditated. Based on true events, the political thriller is about a London investigator who’s hired to discover whether her death was a tragic accident or something more. When he begins to uncover a conspiracy, the gumshoe’s own safety is compromised. This possible version of events feeds into a theory that Princess Diana’s death was similar to whether Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone or was part of a larger conspiracy in the murder of President John F. Kennedy, which was covered in film with Oliver Stone’s JFK.
This whole sale was a bit shrouded in intrigue. Sam Cohen isn’t the writer’s name. I’m told it’s Josh Simon, a former studio exec who worked in the strategic planning group and as a development exec at Disney and later the DreamWorks-based Color Force, run by former Disney topper Nina Jacobson. This is his first feature sale, though he previously sold a scripted TV project to FX along with Noah Oppenheim. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Wayfare Entertainment has acquired the rights to produce and finance a feature-length version of the short thriller The Gate from its director Matt Westrup and producer Spencer Friend. Westrup will direct the feature version, while Friend will produce with Wayfare’s Browning and Sarah Shepard. Michael Maher will be exec producer. They will soon hire a screenwriter to expand the film to feature length. The Gate is a cool mutant tale that was named one of Viewfinder’s 10 best short films of 2011 and has drawn comparisons to Alive In Joburg, the short that was expanded into District 9.
“Our plan for The Gate was to always expand and build upon the world that I conceived for the 11 minute short,” Westrup said. “Wayfare Entertainment shares our vision in taking those themes and ideas, and adapting them into a sci-fi thriller that is driven by a grounded, sophisticated plot and intriguing character arcs.”
Said Wayfare’s Ben Browning: “”We’re always looking for intelligent genre films filled with spectacle. The Gate is a daring and original work that is a perfect addition to our slate.”
Here is the original short:
BREAKING: Wayfare Entertainment has set David Slade to direct Villain, a psychological thriller scripted by Josh Zetumer, who wrote the Robocop remake that Jose Padilha is directing at MGM with Joel Kinnaman. Wayfare is producing and financing the film, with shooting scheduled to take place in Alaska. The thriller follows two brothers as they confront their dark past in an unforgiving wilderness. Casting is underway for the brothers. Wayfare Entertainment’s Ben Browning, Sarah Shepard and Jeremy Kipp Walker will produce. Wayfare’s Michael Maher will executive produce with Zetumer. Said Browning: “David is a brilliant director with an eye for gritty, dark thrillers. He’s the perfect match for Josh’s phenomenal script and we are confident that we will draw top-tier talent to the project in the coming weeks.”
Deal comes after Wayfare closed a deal to produce an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s best-selling fantasy novel The Graveyard Book at Disney with Henry Selick attached to direct. Wayfare is currently in post-production on Sebastian Cordero’s The Europa Report starring Sharlto Copley, with Sierra/Affinity handling international sales. The Gotham-based Wayfare, formed in 2008, is a holding of the investment management company Observer Capital.
Slade, who helmed Twilight Saga: Eclipse, 30 Days Of Night and Hard Candy, is repped by WME and Anonymous Content, Zetumer by UTA and Management 360.