7 Days of Deals
Ka-ching! Who’s inking on the dotted line this week.
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Inside Netflix’s $100 Million House of Cards: Hollywood is still digesting the numbers: Netflix is paying $100 million for 26 hours of original content to stream over the Internet. Bold and innovative or risky and unsustainable? The price certainly is steep for two seasons of an untested series, House of Cards, based on a British TV political drama. And Netflix can’t keep paying $4 million for every hour of new content it collects without significantly increasing the $7.99 it charges customers. Plus, the Media Rights Capital project, starring Kevin Spacey and executive produced by The Social Network helmer David Fincher — who will direct the first episode — doesn’t necessarily have a built-in audience. “To commit as much as they did on a show that hasn’t shot anything yet is a bad idea,” one network executive snarks. “A lot of people in Hollywood can’t understand why they did that.” In fact, some analysts figure that Netflix outbidding HBO and others signals less of an overall shift in strategy than a shot across the bow of the pay cabler, which has refused to license its content. If HBO won’t strike a deal, the thinking goes, Netflix will just bid against it for A-list content. Will HBO budge? “HBO has no plans to sell its content to Netflix because we believe in high-quality, exclusive content,” network spokesman Jeff Cusson tells THR. Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos says he is not in active discussions to pick up more new shows. But the company is at various stages of dealmaking with its Hollywood content partners. A new pact with Starz, for instance, may or may not come to fruition, and upstarts large (Gregory Maffei, CEO of Starz parent Liberty Media, says he’s “in a dialogue with Amazon)” and small (Screen Media Ventures’ just-launched ad-supported platform) are entering the streaming market, another reason for Netflix to beef up original offerings. “They appear to be focused on being more like HBO,” says analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities. “In order to succeed, they are going to need some original content.” He figures paying $100 million for the 26 episodes breaks down to only $5 for each of Netflix’s 20 million subscribers. If it can milk the show for three years, then the cost is less than $2 per year, per sub. “Not that much when you think about the average subscriber paying around $120 per year,” Pachter says. — Paul Bond
The Game Duo Look To Sparkle
Sony Pictures and the creative team behind the hit BET series The Game are remaking Sparkle, a 1976 music-themed movie. Mara Brock Akil (ICM), who created and executive produced Game and UPN’s Girlfriends, will write; husband Salim Akil (ICM), who has helmed many episodes of both series, will direct. The original Sparkle was inspired by the Supremes and revolved around three sisters, who begin singing in their church choir in Harlem during the late 1950s and become a successful girl group while their personal lives unravel. Irene Cara and Philip Michael Thomas starred in the film, distributed by Warner Bros., with a script by Joel Schumacher, who would go on to direct St. Elmo’s Fire and The Lost Boys. Salim Akil is making his feature directorial debut with Jumping the Broom, a social-class comedy set to open May 6. The movie impressed Sony brass, who looked for another project for the Akils. — Borys Kit
Drew Barrymore (CAA, Hansen Jacobson) is returning to the directing chair for How to Be Single, a New Line romantic comedy that the Whip It helmer is also producing with Flower Films partner Nancy Juvonen. Single is based on the Liz Tuccillo novel published by Atria in 2008.
Kevin Costner has closed a deal to play Pa Kent in Warner Bros. and Legendary’s Superman: Man of Steel, being directed by Zack Snyder. Costner (WME, One Talent Management, Jeffer Mangels) joins Henry Cavill as Superman and Diane Lane as Martha Kent.
Megan Fox (ICM, Jackoway Tyerman) is in talks to star alongside Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann in Judd Apatow’s latest directing vehicle for Universal.
Ian McShane (ICM, Independent Talent, Gallant Management) is joining the cast of Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Killer for New Line, playing a king.
Universal has completed deals with Jason Biggs (UTA, Management 360, Ziffren Brittenham), Seann William Scott (ICM, Sloane Offer) and Eugene Levy (ICM, Anonymous Content, Morris Yorn) for American Reunion, the fourth theatrical film in the American Pie series. Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Chris Klein, Mena Suvari and Jennifer Coolidge also are in talks to reprise their roles.
A Sam Cooke biopic has taken a step toward reality now that screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (ICM, Weissmann Wolff) have finished their adaptation of Peter Guralnick’s definitive biography. ABKCO, which owns the singer’s publishing and the bulk of his master recordings, is looking for a director.
Karl Gajdusek (Verve, Benderspink), who wrote the upcoming Nicole Kidman-Nicolas Cage thriller Trespass, has been tapped for rewrite duties on Disney’s Joseph Kosinski project Horizons, formerly known as Oblivion.
Max Payne director John Moore (CAA, Gang Tyre Ramer) might helm another Fox film. The studio has picked up a pitch by scribe Peter Buchman, with Moore attached to direct and produce with John Davis.
Taylor Swift (WME, 13 Management, Milom Joyce) has joined Zac Efron, Danny DeVito and Betty White in the ensemble voice cast of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Universal and Illumination Entertainment’s animated adaptation of the children’s book classic.
Jennifer Lawrence (CAA, Hansen Jacobson) has been cast as Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games, Lionsgate’s adaptation of the Suzanne Collins young-adult novel being directed by Gary Ross and produced by Nina Jacobson.
Jon Turteltaub (WME, Oasis Media Group) will direct and produce Unreasonable Doubt, a Universal romantic comedy written by Marc Klein.
Columbia has acquired screen rights to Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything for Matt Tolmach to produce. In Foer’s (UTA) book, he enters the U.S. Memory Championship.
Jackass director Jeff Tremaine (CAA, Sloane Offer) will make his narrative feature debut with Revenge of the Jocks, a Warner Bros. comedy being produced by Tapestry. Jeff Baena, the scribe behind I Heart Huckabees, has been tapped to rewrite.
Jeff Daniels (ICM) has landed the lead in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO pilot More as the Story Develops, a cable news dramedy being produced by Scott Rudin.
Benjamin Bratt (WME, Dontanville/Frattaroli, Myman Greenspan) is joining ABC’s Private Practice as a regular.
Friday Night Lights’ Connie Britton (WME, Untitled, Hansen Jacobson) will star in American Horror Story, an FX drama pilot from Glee’s Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk.
Philip Seymour Hoffman is developing Upstate, a drama series for HBO. Brett C. Leonard and Bob Glaudini wrote the script and will executive produce with Hoffman (Paradigm, Greenberg Glusker), Emily Ziff and eOne’s Michael Rosenberg.
Heather Locklear (ICM, Brillstein, Edelstein Laird) will star in the CBS multicamera comedy pilot The Assistants.
Kevin Dillon (ICM, Gallant Management) is toplining the CBS pilot How to Be a Gentleman from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia writer-producer David Hornsby.
Christina Applegate (CAA, Management 360, Hansen Jacobson) is starring in the NBC working-mother comedy pilot from SNL writer Emily Spivey, UMS and Lorne Michaels.
Undercovers star Boris Kodjoe (Gersh, Untitled), The Vampire Diaries’ Tiya Sircar (Fortitude, John Carrabino) and Gossip Girl’s Kevin Zegers (ICM, Untitled) have been cast in Georgetown from Warner Bros. TV and Gossip Girl bosses Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire.
Friday Night Lights’ Scott Porter (Gersh, Brillstein) has joined the cast of the CW drama pilot Hart of Dixie, also from Warner Bros. and Fake Empire.
NBC has renewed The Office, Parks and Recreation and Community for the 2011-12 season.
Syfy has greenlighted three new reality series and renewed its scripted drama Being Human for a second season.
NBC has renewed Last Call With Carson Daly for its 11th season. Daly (Dixon Talent Agency, Jackoway Tyerman) was recently named host of NBC’s singing-competition series The Voice.
T Bone Burnett has signed a multiyear administration agreement with publishing house Bug Music. The Oscar- and Grammy-winning artist, producer and songwriter has been represented by the company since its inception in 1975.
Correction Damon Wayans is repped by Gersh (THR 3/25).
Tiffany Thornton, star of Disney Channel’s So Random!, has signed with UTA. …Tony-nominated actress Marin Ireland, who appears in the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce, has signed with ICM. … Alex Douglas, a staff writer on USA’s Royal Pains, has signed with ICM. … Mark Fish, a writer-producer on ABC’s Off the Map, has signed with UTA.