7 Days of Deals
DEAL OF THE WEEK; The Cannes Boom -- Too Much of a Good Thing?: Business was as steady as the rain at this year's Cannes Film Festival. The fact that studios have cut back on mid-range movies opened the gates to a flood of new financiers and sales outfits, rushing in to fill the void. That made for a relatively sunny mood even if a few Cassandras warned of possible storm clouds in the future if all the frenetic activity at this year's market leads to a glut of finished -- or, even worse, unfinished -- movies that the market can't absorb down the road.
NEW INVESTORS: Insiders were struck by the sheer number of financiers from around the globe hunting for projects. Teddy Schwarzman, the son of Blackstone Group billionaire Stephen Schwarzman, who formed New York-based Black Bear Pictures last year, was among them. Black Bear backed Broken City, which stars Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones and sold out territories in September. But while seeing opportunity, Schwarzman warned that all the competition to board projects is driving up prices. "There's one project that has at least four bids," he lamented, referring to the Western Jane Got a Gun, which Natalie Portman will star in and produce for director Lynne Ramsay. CAA is shopping Jane, seeking a mix of equity, foreign presales and a domestic distributor to finance the film, a popular recipe now that studios are cutting back on their slates.
Brian Oliver's Cross Creek Pictures, which backed 2010's Black Swan, is another of the new financiers. On the eve of Cannes, Cross Creek and Exclusive Media -- which are working together on Ron Howard's Rush -- struck a three-year co-financing and co-producing deal, beginning with A Walk Among the Tombstones, starring Liam Neeson. With Universal having bought domestic rights, Exclusive sold Tombstones to other territories at Cannes.
NEW FOREIGN SALES PLAYERS: Partnering with financiers has been a boon for foreign sales companies. Some, such as Sierra/Affinity, IM Global and Exclusive, have access to equity as well.
Making waves were year-old Red Granite -- backed by Malaysian money, it is financing Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio's The Wolf of Wall Street -- and a ramped-up eOne International. The U.K.'s Embankment Films, Tim Haslam and Hugo Grumbar's new international sales and distribution company, also turned heads with Mission: Black List, a Navy SEALs project starring Robert Pattinson.
Two new sales outfits were born out of the recent Lionsgate-Summit merger: Mister Smith Entertainment, formed by Summit veteran David Garrett and German production company Constantin Film, and Good Universe, launched by Lionsgate/Mandate alumni Joe Drake and Nathan Kahane. Mister Smith sold out its first projects -- The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and the kidnapping tale 3096 Days. To fill up its international pipeline now that it is making fewer movies itself, Universal took a slew of foreign territories on two Good Universe titles: Spike Lee's Old Boy, starring Josh Brolin, and Jon Turteltaub's Last Vegas, starring Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman.
Megan Ellison -- daughter of Larry Ellison -- is bridging finance and sales: She first formed Annapurna Pictures, financing movies such as John Hillcoat's Lawless and Kathryn Bigelow's upcoming U.S. Navy SEALs drama Zero Dark Thirty. She then launched the sales company Panorama, which hit Cannes with American Bullshit, about a '70s FBI sting operation that will star Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper for director David O. Russell, and it sold out around the globe. -- Pamela McClintock
5 BIG U.S. SALES: Few major movies were available, but buyers still shopped.
- The Sapphires: (TWC) Harvey Weinstein snapped up this saga of an Aboriginal girl group before its Cannes debut.
- Reality: (Oscilloscope) A dark comedy about a man obsessed with appearing on the Italian version of Big Brother.
- No: (SPC) The film stars Gael Garcia Bernal in a drama about the Chilean elections of 1988.
- The Angel's Share (Sundance Selects) Ken Loach's whiskey-heist comedy won the Jury Prize.
- Renoir: (Goldwyn) A biopic about the later days of the French painter starring Michel Bouquet.
Glee Stars to Mentor on Oxygen Offshot
Glee's Cory Monteith and Naya Rivera are following Lea Michele as mentors on the second season of The Glee Project. The Oxygen competition series, which saw four of its freshman-season contestants appear on the Fox musical dramedy's third year, will welcome the Glee stars in its third and fourth episodes, respectively. Monteith will oversee a bullying-focused episode, and Rivera will appear on a sexuality-themed hour. Glee Project season one co-winner Samuel Larsen, meanwhile, will return to mentor the new musical-theater contestants. Glee Project, which started slow but experienced a ratings uptick last season, will debut in its new night and time June 5 at 10 p.m. -- Lesley Goldberg
Hallmark's First Series is Visit to Cedar Grove
Hallmark Channel is throwing its hat in the scripted-series arena. The Crown Media-owned cable network has set Cedar Cove, a two-hour telefilm based on the series of books by Debbie Macomber that will serve as a backdoor pilot for the series. Andie MacDowell (Paradigm, Schiff Co., Greenberg Glusker), now seen in the ABC Family series Jane by Design, will star as a small-town family court judge in the pic, which will premiere in late 2012, with the series launching in first-quarter 2013. The move comes months after Hallmark rival Lifetime adapted its hit telepic The Client List into a drama starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. Bruce Graham (who wrote Trading Christmas, another Hallmark adaptation of a Macomber book) will pen the telepic, which hails from Orchard Road Productions. -- L.G.
Bradley Cooper (CAA) has set up American Sniper, an adaptation of the autobiography of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, as the first project for his Warner Bros.-based company, 22nd & Indiana. Jason Dean Hall (CAA, Management 360, Jackoway Tyerman) will write the script. Cooper, who is producing with Andrew Lazar and Peter Morgan, will likely star.
Modern Family co-star Eric Stonestreet (ICM, Thruline, Felker Toczek) has joined the cast of Identity Thief, Universal's comedy starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy.
Castle star Stana Katic (Abrams, Thirdhill, Nelson Davis) has joined CBGB, Randall Miller and Jody Savin's feature revolving around the seminal New York rock club. Katic will play rock pioneer Genya Ravan in an ensemble including Alan Rickman, Rupert Grint and Avatar's Joel David Moore, who will play Ramones frontman Joey Ramone.
Jon Favreau (CAA, Jackoway Tyerman) will reprise his role of Happy Hogan, the bodyguard of Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark/Iron Man, in Marvel Studios' Iron Man 3.
Gary Oldman (APA, Douglas Urbanski) will star opposite Joel Kinnaman (AMC's The Killing) in the MGM remake of RoboCop, which Jose Padilha is directing.
Anthony Hopkins (UTA, the U.K.'s Independent Talent, Stone Meyer) is in negotiations to join Red 2, Summit's sequel to the hit 2010 action movie.
Universal is developing a movie based on Lego's line of robotic toys called Hero Factory. Michael Finch and Alex Litvak (Verve), who wrote the 2010 sci-fi hit Predators, will pen the script. The Mark Gordon Co. and Ben Film 360, the production arm of Management 360, would produce.
Canadian producer-distributor Entertainment One is in talks to acquire rival Alliance Films. It said any transaction would be partly financed through an equity placing.
Trikita Entertainment of Russia, Lumiq Studios of Italy and Bavaria Film Partners of Germany will jointly produce an English-language screen adaptation of the classic Russian science-fiction novel Chelovek-Amfibiya (Amphibian Man).
Game Change director Jay Roach (WME, Mosaic, Behr & Abramson) has inked an exclusive two-year overall deal at HBO.
Gary Unmarried producer Ric Swartzlander (ICM) will take over as showrunner of Cougar Town, which is moving from ABC to TBS for its fifth season.
JoAnna Garcia (WME, John Carrabino) will co-star opposite Justin Kirk in NBC's freshman comedy Animal Practice.
Giuliana Rancic (WME, 3 Arts) will develop series and specials ideas for E! under a new three-year deal with the NBCUniversal cable network that keeps her on E! News and Fashion Police.
True Blood co-executive producer Mark Hudis (UTA) has inked an overall deal with HBO to develop new series for the network and take over for Alan Ball as showrunner on the vampire drama should it earn a sixth-season renewal.
True Blood's Grant Bowler (Buchwald/Fortitude, Untitled) will star as Richard Burton opposite Lindsay Lohan's Elizabeth Taylor in the Lifetime biopic Liz & Dick.
Barry Josephson's (Bloom Hergott) Josephson Entertainment has signed a first-look deal with FremantleMedia to develop drama properties.
In Treatment's Gabriel Byrne (Paradigm, The Agency) will star as a warrior turned ruler in Vikings, History's first scripted series.
Luck actor Jason Gedrick (IFA) has signed on for a multiepisode arc as a manager at a strip club on the seventh season of Showtime serial killer drama Dexter.
Sean Hannity has inked a deal to remain with Fox News Channel for at least four more years.
Chuck star Zachary Levi (CAA, McKuin Frankel) is reteaming with Spike TV for All Access specials timed to Comic-Con, the Consumer Electronics Show and E3.
HLN will air the 39th annual Daytime Emmy Awards on June 23, marking the first time the ceremony will be shown on cable. … Science Channel has acquired off-network syndication rights to Warner Bros. Television's Fringe. … ReelzChannel will show the U.S. debut of the miniseries World Without End.
International Creative Management has finalized its deal to buy out majority owner Rizvi Traverse Management and ex-chairman and CEO Jeffrey Berg to form a new partnership structure. Control of the agency, now called ICM Partners, will rest with its agents and executives.
Actress Nia Vardalos (Paradigm) has signed a deal with HarperCollins division HarperOne for a child-adoption memoir chronicling her journey to motherhood.
NBCUniversal is in talks to buy Microsoft's 50 percent stake in its MSNBC.com joint venture. A deal would end the remaining core part of a partnership struck in the mid-1990s before the first Internet boom.
Mexican-based Cinepolis, the world's fourth-largest theater circuit with 2,800-plus screens in Latin America and India, is investing more than $300 million to digitize its entire chain by 2013.
M.I.A. has signed with Jay-Z's Roc Nation management. She joins a growing lineup that includes Rihanna, Shakira, Santigold, Wale, Mark Ronson, Ester Dean and Melanie Fiona.
The Voice coach Cee Lo Green (WME, Primary Wave, Stone Meyer) and his pet Persian cat Purrfect are remixing the "Meow Mix" jingle in a partnership with Del Monte Foods.
THE REP SHEET
Kelly Rowland, a founding member of R&B group Destiny's Child and a former judge on The X Factor in the U.K., has signed with ICM Partners.
Writing team Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell (Unknown) has signed with WME.
Alessandra Mastronardi, who appears in Woody Allen's To Rome With Love, has signed with CAA.
Ruta Gedmintas of NBC midseason drama Do No Harm has signed with UTA.
Director Sanaa Hamri (Shameless) has signed with CAA.
Dillon Casey (The CW's Nikita), who appeared in The Vow, has signed with APA.
THE NEXT BIG THING: Nic Mathieu
Reps: WME, Anonymous Content, Loeb & Loeb
Why He Matters: The veteran commercials director is stepping up to features with The Wind, a top-secret Warner Bros. sci-fi project set in a space colony from a script by A-list writer David Koepp, who will also produce.