7 Days of Deals
Ka-ching! Who's inking on the dotted line this week.
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Cannes Report: Harvey's Big Buying Spree: Just as he commandeered the Academy Awards in February, Harvey Weinstein has turned the Cannes Film Festival and its market into a veritable Weinstein Fest.
The Weinstein Co. arrived with two upcoming films in competition: Lawless, a Prohibition era-drama starring Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf; and Killing Them Softly, a Brad Pitt mob tale. By midfest, Weinstein moved quickly to tie up a third, picking up U.S. and other territorial rights to The Sapphires, the true story of an Australian Aboriginal girl group that toured Vietnam in the 1960s. Another awards-season play, a la The Artist? Weinstein played down speculation, telling THR: "It's a modest movie. I just think it's fun and smart. Anything beyond that is a mitzvah."
On its way to Cannes, TWC added to its dance card by picking up Quartet, a British comedy directed by Dustin Hoffman; Haute Cuisine, a French culinary comedy; and The Oath of Tobruk, a politically charged documentary from French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy about the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. And in its most provocative move, the company is finalizing a deal for John Stockwell's Code Name: Geronimo, about the Navy SEALs' pursuit of Osama bin Laden. That film could compete with Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty, which Sony will release in December, though Weinstein insisted, "I haven't even looked at it yet," adding that he has made no decision about a release date.
After showing footage of Quentin Tarantino's upcoming Western Django Unchained, Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master and David O. Russell's The Silver Linings Playbook, TWC was busy selling foreign rights to Silver Linings and the not-yet-filmed Meryl Streep drama August: Osage County. And the company wasn't alone.
The market was crowded with new sales entities like David Garrett and Constantin Film's Mister Smith Entertainment, Joe Drake and Nathan Kahane's Good Universe and Megan Ellison's Panorama. Typical of the hot titles were Roger Donaldson's espionage thriller November Man, starring Pierce Brosnan, being shopped by The Solution Entertainment Group; and Tombstones, starring Liam Neeson, which Exclusive Media and Cross Creek Pictures are co-financing.
The domestic acquisitions market was biding its time a bit because big titles such as Lee Daniels' The Paperboy, starring John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey and Nicole Kidman, were scheduled to screen late in the festival, which concludes May 27. Jeff Nichols' Mud, starring McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, had an early market screening that drew a mixed response, so its Palais premiere May 26 has become even more critical. -- Gregg Kilday
Sandler Charmed by Book of Heroes
Shrek and Where The Wild Things Are stand out as exceptions, but picture books are notoriously hard to adapt to film. So when David Hollander (CAA, 3 Arts) was asked to take on Heroes for My Son, Brad Meltzer's best-selling collection of photos of real-life historical figures, he initially passed. "I thought it was really sweet, but it's just a compilation of images and some paragraphs," says Hollander. "There's no narrative." But the next day, while walking with one of his three kids, a thought hit him: Why not insert the author into the book? From there, Hollander conceived the story of a man who takes his alienated son on a trip and uses tales of historical heroes to buy more time with him. The script lured Adam Sandler, whose company has set it up at Columbia as a Sandler dramatic vehicle. The key idea behind making the book relatable, says Hollander, is that, "As a parent, you pray that your kids think of you as a role model in the first order." -- Borys Kit
The Dark Knight Returns (With a Female Robin)
As the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises draws near, Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment are plotting a fall home video release for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, the first of two animated movies based on Frank Miller's 1986 graphic novel. The studio has lined up a voice cast including Peter Weller (RoboCop) as Batman and Modern Family middle child Ariel Winter as the series' female Robin. (Also in the voice cast are veteran character actors David Selby, Prison Break's Wade Williams and Michael McKean.) One of the most influential comics of all time, Dark Knight Returns is set in the near future after Batman retires and Gotham City is overrun by hooligans. A 55-year-old Bruce Wayne is forced to don the cape once more, partnering with Robin to stop the Joker. "I've seen the other Batman movies and said to myself, 'How can I make her different from the other Robins, other than just being female?' " says Winter. "She's really tough, and she needs to have an edge in her voice, so I tried a lower register for her." The four-book miniseries was praised for its mature and psychological take on superheroes. It served as a major influence on Christopher Nolan's Batman movie trilogy, the last of which opens July 20. The animated movies will be the 15th and 16th in Warner Premiere and DC's best-selling line of DVD titles. Miller's Batman: Year One was made into an animated feature in 2011. -- B.K.
Sandra Bullock (CAA, 3 Arts, Ziffren Brittenham) and Melissa McCarthy (CAA, Schiff Co., Nelson Davis) are teaming for a buddy comedy about an uptight FBI agent and an unconventional Boston cop. Bridesmaids' Paul Feig will direct and executive produce the Fox project, written by Parks and Recreation's Katie Dippold.
Larry David (WME) is in negotiations to star in an improv-heavy comedy that Greg Mottola (Superbad) will direct for Fox Searchlight. David came up with the idea and is working with The Dictator writers Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer and David Mandel to write the treatment and produce the project with Bradley Thomas.
Mark Wahlberg (WME, Leverage, Sloane Offer) is attached to star in The Disciple Program, a Universal thriller written by Tyler Marceca. Morten Tyldum (Norwegian thriller Headhunters) is attached to direct.
The Five-Year Engagement director Nicholas Stoller (UTA, Ziffren Brittenham) is in negotiations to helm the Seth Rogen-Zac Efron comedy Townies at Universal.
Blade Runner co-writer Hampton Fancher (APA, Matt Saver) will conceive an idea for a sequel to the 1982 sci-fi film for director Ridley Scott and Alcon Entertainment.
Writer Scott Z. Burns (UTA, Anonymous, Jackoway Tyerman) has been tapped to work on Fox's sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Chernin Entertainment is producing.
D.V. DeVincentis (UTA, Management 360, Morris Yorn) will write Disney's big-screen adaptation of 1970s series The Night Stalker, which has Johnny Depp attached to star and Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) attached to direct.
I, Robot director Alex Proyas (CAA, Loeb & Loeb) is in negotiations to take on Gods of Egypt, Summit's fantasy project set in ancient Egypt.
Juno Temple (UTA, Troika) is joining the cast of Maleficent, Disney's live-action retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale starring Angelina Jolie.
Nancy Meyers (WME, Ziffren Brittenham) will polish the script for Sony's planned royal wedding romantic comedy written by (500) Days of Summer duo Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber. Matt Tolmach is producing.
Spanish director Isabel Coixet (CAA) will direct The Age of Adaline, a fantasy romantic drama from Lakeshore, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Anonymous Content.
David Guarascio and Moses Port (UTA) will take over for Dan Harmon as showrunners on NBC's Community for its upcoming fourth season.
Adult Swim has given pilot orders to eight projects, including an animated Harold & Kumar series and an animated comedy from Harmon revolving around a genius inventor and his not-so-bright grandson.
The Office has tapped Dan Sterling (UTA, Sloane Offer) and Brent Forrester (UTA, Levity, Jackoway Tyerman) as executive producers for its upcoming ninth season.
Model Rob Evans (Major Model Management) will serve as a new judge on The CW's America's Next Top Model.
Luther creator Neil Cross (UTA, Felker Toczek) will develop for NBC the 10-episode pirate drama Crossbones, based on Colin Woodard's book The Republic of Pirates.
USA Network is developing six dramas and four comedies, including Bryan Fuller's Mind Fields, which blends science, creativity and a love story; an untitled drama from Dick Wolf; and Silicon Valley comedy The DiCicco Brothers, from executive producer Kelsey Grammer. USA also is prepping docuseries Romancing the Globe, from Mark Burnett, and has ordered unscripted entry Bride or Best Man to pilot.
TNT has put seven dramas into development from such producers as Tom Clancy, Steven Bochco, Shane Brennan (NCIS: Los Angeles) and Howard Gordon (Homeland). On the reality side, Nigel Lythgoe and Matthew McConaughey are teaming for a music competition series.
TBS is prepping three scripted shows -- including two from Conan O'Brien's production company -- plus a talk show with Norm Macdonald and a "physically challenging" competition game show.
CBS has renewed Rules of Engagement for a seventh season. … Oxygen has picked up freshman Best Ink.
ReelzChannel will televise the Creative Arts Emmy Awards for a second straight year. The Sept. 15 ceremony will be broadcast a week later.
Universal Music Group has invested in Schoolboy Records, the label founded by Justin Bieber manager Scooter Braun. The deal includes an agreement to distribute future releases as Braun becomes a creative consultant to UMG chairman Lucian Grainge.
American Idol host Ryan Seacrest is buying talk show host Ellen DeGeneres' Beverly Hills nine-bedroom compound for $37 million, according to a well-placed source.
China's Dalian Wanda Group will acquire AMC Entertainment Holdings in a $2.6 billion deal that will create the world's largest movie theater owner. Wanda said it intends to invest as much as $500 million in AMC.
Yahoo has agreed to sell half of its 40 percent stake in Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba for about $7.1 billion.
Ryan Kavanaugh's Relativity Media is close to acquiring a controlling stake in German producer-distributor Senator Entertainment.
Ben Silverman's Electus has greenlighted K-Town, a web series exploring the lives of young Asian-Americans in Los Angeles' Koreatown.
Shout! Factory has acquired Timeless Media Group, which holds distribution rights to such classic TV series as The Virginian and Peter Gunn and the Roy Rogers: King of the Cowboys movie collection.
Juliette Lewis, star of Natural Born Killers, has signed with Buchwald/Fortitude.
Musicians Norah Jones and Amos Lee have signed with WME in North America. Jones stays with CAA outside the continent; Lee is with Agency Group in Europe.
Madeline Carroll, who starred opposite Gerard Butler in Machine Gun Preacher, has signed with UTA.
Bill Skarsgard and writer-producer Brian McGreevy of Netflix series Hemlock Grove have signed with the Hirsch Wallerstein law firm.
Luke Bracey, who starred in the Selena Gomez film Monte Carlo, has signed with CAA.
THE NEXT BIG THING: Grant Gustin
Reps: CESD, Robert Stein
Why He Matters: The Glee standout, 22, nabbed his first starring role in the Lifetime telepic
A Mother's Worst Nightmare. And a growing online fan campaign is pushing for him to play the key Finnick role in the next Hunger Games film.
The Big Number: 25 -- Average number of dead bodies shown per episode of Starz's Spartacus: Vengeance, topping HBO's Game of Thrones (14) and The CW's Nikita (9) in a survey conducted by funeral planning site Funeralwise.com. CBS is the most deadly network.