7 Days of Deals
Ka-ching! Who's inking on the dotted line this week.
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Warner Bros. Opens Wallet For New Movie Material: Got a screenplay you want to sell? Warner Bros. is buying. Since April 12, the studio has picked up at least nine pitches, book adaptations and spec scripts -- far more than usual for this time of year -- at times making seven-figure deals in the process. Insiders say the moves are bringing life to the otherwise slow market for movie development. A highlight: Warners acquired Lore, an IDW comic book with Dwayne Johnson attached to star. The deal for writers Cory Goodman and Jeremy Lott was valued by sources at $1 million upfront against $2.5 million if the movie gets made, while rights to the comic sold for $500,000 against $1 million. Those numbers resemble prices paid for hot material a decade ago; during the past few years, studios have cut back on pricey script deals, especially for writers not on the A-list.
Other recent high-profile acquisitions in the seven-figure range include Live by Night, the new Dennis Lehane novel that is intended to be a vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio, and Clown, a remake of a German movie that Danny McBride will write, star in and produce with Todd Phillips (The Hangover).
Roger Hobbs' book The Ghostman fetched high-six figures against seven. Others, like the spec Son of a Bitch by Kelly Oxford, were in the low- to mid-six figures. Warners also put into active development a remake of the 1974 Sidney Poitier-Bill Cosby comedy Uptown Saturday Night, with director Adam McKay; an action thriller set in the South, written and directed by Eastbound & Down co-creator Jody Hill; and Lobo, based on the DC Comics character.
Studio insiders downplay the spree, with one exec saying, "The last couple of months had a lot of good material that appealed to us, and we're still within our budget."
Warners isn't the only studio bulking up on new material, however. In March, Sony plunked down $3 million for James Vanderbilt's spec White House Down (see below) and Universal paid seven figures for the steamy novel Fifty Shades of Grey.
But as Hollywood's most prolific studio, Warners is known to shell out for material it really wants. And the end of the Harry Potter franchise and this summer's culmination of the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman series is providing extra incentive to find the next big thing.
Says one agent, "They need material, and they need new franchises." -- Borys Kit
Who Will Save the White House First?
The race to thwart a terrorist attack on the President's residence is turning into a race to the multiplex. Channing Tatum (UTA, Management 360, Hansen Jacobson), fresh from his box-office double whammy of The Vow and 21 Jump Street, is in negotiations with Columbia Pictures to star as a Secret Service agent in White House Down, director Roland Emmerich's thriller set at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. That project, based on a hot script by James Vanderbilt (the Total Recall and RoboCop remakes), is being fast-tracked in part because another Die Hard-at-the-White House movie is in development at Millennium Films. That film, Olympus Has Fallen, has Gerard Butler starring and Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) directing. So who will get there first? Sources say both Columbia and Millennium are planning to shoot their films sometime this summer. -- Borys Kit
Zsa Zsa Home Hits the Market
The Bel-Air residence of Zsa Zsa Gabor and husband Frederic Prinz von Anhalt has been listed for sale at $14.9 million. The 8,878-square-foot Hollywood Regency-style house includes seven bedrooms and a pool on more than an acre of land. Listing agent Robert Erickson of Rodeo Realty says Gabor, 95, is selling the property, which the Hungary-born celebrity has owned since 1970, because it has "gotten too big to manage" as she deals with health issues. Gabor has hosted Queen Elizabeth and Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush at the house. "It's a very elegant home, with Louis XIV furniture, chandeliers and an oval entry. It's made for entertaining," says Erickson, who shares the listing with Roger Perry. Gabor, who has been married nine times, has claimed that Elvis Presley and Howard Hughes lived there before her, but that could not be verified. -- Daniel Miller
Rachel McAdams (UTA, Magnolia, Hirsch Wallerstein) will star in About Time, the latest romantic comedy from Love Actually filmmaker Richard Curtis. Domhnall Gleeson co-stars in the Working Title production.
Imelda Staunton (Paradigm, the U.K.'s Artists Rights) and Miranda Richardson (Parseghian Planco, the U.K.'s Independent Talent) will co-star opposite Angelina Jolie in Maleficent, Disney's live-action retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Kenneth Cranham (Made in Dagenham), Sam Riley (Brighton Rock) and Lesley Manville (Another Year) also co-star.
Taylor Lautner (WME, Management 360, Hansen Jacobson) will star in director Daniel Benmayor's action thriller Tracers for Temple Hill Entertainment. FilmNation will shop the project at Cannes.
Robert De Niro (CAA, Grubman Indursky) will star opposite Michael Douglas in CBS Films' comedy Last Vegas. Good Universe, the new company run by Joe Drake and Nathan Kahane, will exec produce and handle international sales at Cannes.
The Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev (Innovative) and Twilight's Kellan Lutz (Innovative, Zero Gravity, Morris Yorn) are in negotiations to join John Stockwell's indie pot drama Kid Cannabis, starring Project X breakout Jonathan Daniel Brown.
Clark Gregg (UTA, 3 Arts, Ziffren Brittenham), who plays Agent Coulson in The Avengers, is joining Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin in Paramount's Labor Day, the latest from Oscar-nominated director Jason Reitman.
Luke Evans (WME, Management 360, the U.K.'s United Agents) is finalizing a deal to play the villain in Fast 6, the latest installment in Universal's Fast & Furious franchise.
The Descent filmmaker Neil Marshall (ICM, Principato Young, Bloom Hergott) is attached to direct the long-gestating Dracula horror pic The Last Voyage of the Demeter, set up at Millennium Films.
Producer John Eraklis of Exodus Entertainment and Jane Fleming and Mark Ordesky's Amber Entertainment are teaming for The Bell Man of Everest, the story of environmental artist Jeff Clapp.
Alan Rickman (WME, Independent) has signed to play Hilly Kristal, founder of the seminal New York punk rock club CBGB. Randall Miller wrote the film with Jody Savin and will direct.
Mark Deklin (APA, Michael Black) will play the father of the title character in Tarzan, the 3D CGI motion-capture movie starring Kellan Lutz from Constantin Film.
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (WME, Kleinberg Lange), once a personal assistant to Martin Scorsese and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, is set to helm a horror thriller based on Archaia Entertainment's graphic novel Feeding Ground. Carlos Coto is writing the script, and Ed Pressman is producing.
Michelle Monaghan (ICM, DF Management, Sloane Offer) has joined Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan in Crime Scene Pictures' The Coup, an action thriller that John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine) will direct from a script he wrote with his brother, Drew Dowdle.
Tribeca Film has acquired Sundance entry The Comedy, which stars Tim Heidecker as an aging Brooklyn hipster.
Matt Lopez (ICM, Lichter Grossman) will write the live-action/animated hybrid adaptation of children's book Clifford the Big Red Dog for Universal, Illumination and Scholastic Media.
Sarah Jessica Parker (CAA, Schreck Rose) and Kate Hudson (CAA, Jackoway Tyerman) have joined Fox's Glee for multiepisode arcs during the upcoming fourth season, which will center on a show-within-a-show format.
HBO and Bill Maher (CAA, Brillstein, Loeb & Loeb) have paired for the newsmagazine Vice, to be hosted by the publication's founder, Shane Smith.
AMC has renewed for second seasons the Walking Dead talk show The Talking Dead, hosted by Chris Hardwicke, and Kevin Smith's Comic Book Men.
Lifetime has ordered 10 episodes of docuseries The Houston Family Chronicles, revolving around the family of the late Whitney Houston.
TNT has ordered David E. Kelley and Dr. Sanjay Gupta's Monday Mornings to series and added two unscripted entries: Donnie Wahlberg's police docudrama Boston Blue and the adventure effort 72 Hours.
TBS has picked up ABC's Cougar Town for its fourth season and ordered the unscripted comedies Who Gets the Last Laugh, a comedic prank entry from Ashton Kutcher, and Conan writer-comedian Deon Cole's viral-video show Black Box.
Raising Hope showrunner Greg Garcia (CAA) has inked a four-year development deal with CBS Television Studios.
CSI's Jorja Fox (Domain Talent, Framework) has signed a new deal to return to the CBS procedural for its 13th season.
Days of Our Lives star Kristian Alfonso (ICM) has a new deal to continue on the long-running NBC
Russell Brand (WME, Ziffren Brittenham) will host the MTV Movie Awards on June 3 from Universal City.
Dubai-based MBC Group has acquired rights to The Voice from Sony Pictures Television Arabia to air a local version of the show in the Middle East and North Africa.
Kenny Rogers (Vector Management) has signed a long-term deal with Warner Bros. Records, returning to the label that launched his career in 1967. A new album is expected this year.
Founding Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann (APA) has scored a six-figure advance to write an insider's account of the band's history for St. Martin's Press.
High School Musical's Ashley Tisdale (CAA, Perlman, Stone Meyer), through her Blondie Girl production shingle with partner Jessica Rhoades, is developing three digital series, including a scripted musical comedy set at a high school and a dating show.
Netflix has inked a deal with Fox to stream series and classic films from the studio's library to Brazil and other parts of Latin America.
News Corp. has purchased a 20 percent interest in China's Bona Film Group, which produces movies, owns and operates 13 movie theaters and manages a range of Chinese artists.
Zooey Deschanel (CAA, Seven Summits, Hansen Jacobson) has come on board to play Loretta Lynn in the musical The Coal Miner's Daughter headed to Broadway.
Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens (WME, the U.K.'s Julian Belfrage Associates) will star opposite Jessica Chastain and David Strathairn in the upcoming Broadway revival of The Heiress.
Dean Winters, known for his Allstate commercials and playing Tina Fey's sleazy ex-boyfriend on 30 Rock, has signed with UTA.
Eric Sheffer Stevens, who starred opposite Elizabeth Olsen in the horror movie Silent House, has signed with APA.
Caprice Crane, a film and television writer and author of the best-seller Forget About It, has signed with CAA.
Kriv Stenders, director of Red Dog, the highest-grossing Australian film of 2011, has signed
Rotimi, a singer-songwriter, model and actor who plays Darius Morrison on the Starz series Boss, has signed with WME. -- D.M.
THE NEXT BIG THING: Nicholas Braun
Reps: WME, Levine Okwu Erickson, Jackoway Tyerman
Why He Matters: The 10 Things I Hate About You actor stars opposite Christopher Mintz-Plasse in Friend Me, one of only two new comedies CBS picked up May 13 for the fall season.
THE BIG NUMBER
$15 million: Britney Spears' salary to join The X Factor for the upcoming season, according to sources, far outpacing the $1 million that fellow new judge Demi Lovato will earn.