7 Days of Deals
Ka-ching! Who's inking on the dotted line this week.
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Jackson Explains Triple-Feature Hobbit Plans: The original deal to make two Hobbit movies was undoubtedly one of the most complicated in Hollywood history, with an array of players including Warner Bros., New Line, MGM and other rights holders. Warners chairman and CEO Barry Meyer is said to have told associates that never in his 40-plus years in the business had there been more meetings in pursuit of a project. So, clearly organizing a third Hobbit film in a matter of weeks was not going to be simple. Still, once director Peter Jackson and collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens decided that three movies was the preferred approach, the deal announced July 30 came together fast. "If anybody had been a big hindrance, it wouldn't have happened," says a source with ties to the movies. "It was such a short window of time to make this decision, if anybody had said no, it would have been two movies."
Previously, the budget for the two movies was estimated, probably conservatively, at $500 million. A source says the production cost of the third could run between half and two-thirds as much as one of the other two films thanks to work that's already been done. (Marketing No. 3 will add to the total.) But the final cost is not yet known because the studio is awaiting a full script for the third movie.
Jackson, Walsh and Boyens pitched the idea for a trilogy to executive producer Alan Horn and New Line's Toby Emmerich and Carolyn Blackwood in early July. Then Jackson returned to shooting a few weeks of pickups on the first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, set for release Dec. 14, and left the dealmaking to the execs. "I'm sure it's been the biggest nightmare in the world for them to try to actually work it all through," he tells THR. Sources say deals for the cast to return were done before Jackson announced the third, as-yet-untitled film on Facebook.
Jackson says shooting of "essentially every page of script" of the first two Hobbit films is completed. Cast and crew were always set to return to Jackson's facilities in Wellington, New Zealand, in June to finish "a few pickups to complete some battle stuff." That will now be extended to a few more weeks of additional shooting.
"There's some areas of the story to develop and expand," Jackson says. The second movie, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, is set for December 2013, and the third film will be slotted into summer 2014.
New Line president Emmerich says the trilogy decision was not an obvious one. "Everyone involved had to make a grand leap of faith," he says. "As cynics have pointed out, The Hobbit is not an exceptionally long book, but Peter has phenomenal creative integrity and truly believes this is the best way to tell the story. We all had to trust each other, and Peter, and we sincerely believe it will be great." -- Kim Masters
Modern Family Stars Get Richer
In the end, the hardball strategy worked. After a nearly yearlong salary renegotiation that culminated with a boycotted table read and a dramatic lawsuit, the cast of ABC's Modern Family will get significant raises from studio 20th Century Fox Television in exchange for extending their seven-year deals for an expected eighth season. Sources tell THR that the six adult actors -- Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O'Neill, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara -- closed deals July 27 for about $175,000 per episode for the upcoming 24-episode fourth season, escalating to about $350,000 per episode for the eighth. That adds up to about $4.2 million for the coming season, up from the estimated $1.56 million the cast made at its third-season rate of $65,000 per episode. (O'Neill, a bigger star pre-Family, also will get a six-figure bonus per episode.) The cast also will receive a quarter of a percentage point of backend revenue that the show generates, which could become significant once Modern Family hits syndication on the USA Network and local stations in 2013. (Estimates say the show will generate as much as $2.5 million an episode in that first run.) Some observers questioned the cast's aggres-sive strategy of filing suit in Los Angeles Superior Court to void their deals under California's law barring personal services contracts longer than seven years. But that public maneuver, as well as skipping the first scheduled table read of the new season, sent a clear message that the 20th offer -- which sources say was about $150,000 per episode and zero backend -- was not going to satisfy the cast. Now that the adults are signed, 20th's attention is focused on locking up the kid actors, who learned from their TV parents and are now attempting their own contract renegotiation. -- Matthew Belloni
Ridley Scott (WME, Ziffren Brittenham) and writer Steven Zaillian (WME, Gang Tyre) have acquired rights to the 2003 BBC pseudo- documentary The Day Britain Stopped and have set up the project -- about a man-made disaster that ignites a global catastrophe -- at Fox.
Ryan Seacrest (CAA, Hansen Jacobson) will produce Food Fight, a Paramount comedy based loosely on the ABC reality show Food Revolution that starred celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who also will produce with Adam Sher.
Aline Brosh McKenna (CAA, Hansen Jacobson) will rewrite the Annie remake at Columbia. Emma Thompson penned a previous draft of the hip-hop musical, which is being produced by Will Smith and Jay-Z and stars Smith's daughter, Willow.
The Lincoln Lawyer producer Scott Steindorff (CAA, Stroock) has acquired Origin, a forthcoming young-adult book by Jessica Khoury. Dylan Russell also will produce.
MadTV co-creator Fax Bahr and Harry Dunn (CAA, Circle of Confusion, Ziffren Brittenham) has sold to Sony De-Friended, a comedy pitch. Steve Tisch, Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal of Escape Artists are producing.
Taylor Kitsch (WME, Untitled, Hansen Jacobson) and Brendan Gleeson (the U.K.'s The Agency, Principal) have joined director Don McKellar's The Grand Seduction, a remake of a Canadian hit.
The Daily Show alum Dan Bakkedahl (Paradigm, Principal) will co-star in the Sandra Bullock-Melissa McCarthy female buddy cop comedy The Heat for Fox.
Glee star Cory Monteith (UTA, Red, Hansen Jacobson), Emily Hampshire (Thruline), Kevin Zegers (ICM) and Karine Vanasse (WME) have joined All the Wrong Reasons, a Canadian indie feature from writer-director Gia Milani.
Rachel Nichols (UTA, Management 360, Stone Meyer) is in talks to join Justin Long in The Ten O'Clock People, adapted from a Stephen King short story. Tom Holland (Child's Play) directs.
Terrence Howard (CAA, Ascend, Timaeus) and House of Lies actress Dawn Olivieri (APA, Mosaic, Bloom Hergott) are joining Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sam Worthington in Breacher, an action thriller directed by David Ayer (Street Kings).
Sony Pictures Classics has picked up North American rights to Dror Moreh's Israeli documentary The Gatekeepers.
Just Wright writer Michael Elliot (WME, Jackoway Tyerman) will adapt Terry McMillan's novel Getting to Happy as a Fox 2000 sequel to 1995's Waiting to Exhale.
Carter Burwell (First Artists) will compose the score for Seven Psychopaths, directed by Martin McDonagh and starring Woody Harrelson and Colin Farrell.
Screen Australia has greenlighted the Robert Pattinson starrer The Rover, from Animal Kingdom writer-director David Michod. Guy Pearce will co-star.
Homeland producer Howard Gordon (WME, Gendler & Kelley) has set up a company at 20th Television, where he'll develop and oversee new projects.
Ricky Martin (CAA) has inked a TV holding deal with NBCUniversal to develop and star in his first network series.
Laurence Fishburne (Paradigm, Landmark, Del Shaw) has joined NBC's upcoming Hannibal, recurring as an FBI agent.
Better With You star Jake Lacy (ICM, Beth Rosner) has joined NBC's The Office as a series regular for the ninth season.
'Til Death's Kat Foster (Paradigm) has joined the ABC midseason comedy Goodwin Games as the childhood sweetheart of Scott Foley.
Jenna Dewan-Tatum (ICM, Sanders Armstrong, Bloom Hergott) will co-star opposite Adam Levine on the second season of FX's American Horror Story, playing half of a couple known as "The Lovers."
Stephanie Hunt (Collier, Untitled) has joined the ABC midseason comedy How to Live With Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life) as a friend of star Sarah Chalke.
Josh Gad (ICM, Brillstein, Ziffren Brittenham) will guest star on the season premiere of Fox's New Girl as a Zooey Deschanel suitor.
Lifetime has ordered to pilot producer Renee Zellweger's Cinnamon Girl, based on her move from Texas to Hollywood.
Kal Penn (Gersh, Industry, Fuller Downs) will co-star in the CBS comedy pilot Ex-Men, joining Paranormal Activity 3's Chris Smith (Paradigm, Principato-Young) in the comedy about guys living at a short-term rental complex.
FX has ordered to pilot The Bridge, based on a Dutch format that kicks off with the discovery of a body on a bridge. Writer-producers Meredith Stiehm (WME, Felker Toczek) and Elwood Reid (WME, David Colden) are attached.
Paranormal Activity producer Jason Blum will executive produce The Experiment, a found-footage mystery at MTV based on a story by Brian Horiuchi (Terminal D) and Miguel Sapochnik (House).
18 to Life alum Tiio Horn (Magnolia, Green & Associates, ART) will play a gypsy witch-prostitute on the Netflix series Hemlock Grove.
FremantleMedia has signed Random House to a first-look TV deal to launch Random House Television.
USA Network is developing a family drama from Psych creator Steve Franks (ICM, Thruline) set in the business world and a comedy from Royal Pains creator Andrew Lenchewski (CAA, Jackoway Tyerman) about an unconventional teacher.
AMC is developing Area 51, based on a book by Annie Jacobsen. Todd E. Kessler (The Good Wife) and Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead) will exec produce.
NBC's The Voice has added Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong as a mentor.
Showtime will end The Big C with four hourlong episodes. … MTV has renewed Awkward for a third season of 20 episodes. … FX has renewed Louie and ordered seven more episodes of late-night series Brand X With Russell Brand. … USA has ordered 10 episodes of unscripted musical series The Choir. … Discovery Channel has ordered five- part series One Car Too Far from Thom Beers. … Bravo has renewed Kathy Griffin's talk show Kathy for a second season.
The E3 convention wil remain in Los Angeles through 2015.
The cover to 1990's Amazing Spider-Man No. 328, drawn by Todd McFarlane, has sold at auction for $675,250, a record for American comic art.
A Chewbacca headpiece used in the original Star Wars trilogy has sold for $172,200 at auction.
Glee star Amber Riley (Coast to Coast, Felker Toczek) has signed on for a brief fall run in Cotton Club Parade, a musical about the famous Jazz Age venue.
Meredith Vieira Productions, the shingle run by the Emmy-winning journalist, has signed with ICM Partners.
Will Sasso, who starred as Curly in the April film The Three Stooges, has signed with Paradigm.
7ate9, which produces branded content for studios and networks like Disney, has signed with UTA.
Chris Van Dusen, a writer for ABC's Scandal and Grey's Anatomy, has signed with CAA.
Self-help author Robin McGraw (Inside My Heart: Choosing to Live With Passion and Purpose), a regular on husband Dr. Phil's show, has signed with WME.
NEXT BIG THING: Richard Armitage
Reps: WME, the U.K.'s United Agents. Why He Matters: The veteran British character actor, 40, is stepping into the blockbuster big leagues as Thorin in The Hobbit trilogy and as the recently announced leading man in New Line's untitled tornado thriller.