The Report: 7 Days of Deals

10:24 PM PST 01/25/2011 by THR staff
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival

Ka-ching! Who’s inking on the dotted line this week.

DEAL OF THE WEEK: Like Crazy — Inside a Sundance Bidding War: Within moments of its credits rolling Jan. 22, Like Crazy had buyers falling in love. UTA sales agents Rich Klubeck and David Flynn barely made it to the Eccles Theater lobby before being rushed. Harvey Weinstein — who personally visited director Drake Doremus, producers Jonathan Schwartz and Andrea Sperling and stars Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones the night before during a cast-and-crew dinner at Silver on Main Street — wanted the film immediately, as did Summit Entertainment. Later that evening, once the sales reps had moved back to the agency’s condo, Focus Features put in a sizable offer for the youth-skewing drama about a strained long-distance relationship. But by then, the producers and reps had begun talking with a surprise bidder: Paramount. The studio, which hadn’t been active at Sundance since absorbing its Paramount Vantage label in 2007 (though it did buy Waiting for Superman before last year’s fest), sent top execs Adam Goodman and Matt Brodlie, who together with Indian Paintbrush’s Steven Rales were willing to pay $4 million for worldwide rights to the microbudgeted pic and commit to a high-seven-figure P&A campaign (nearly $10 million) and a potential awards push. Paramount sees big potential in the film, which co-stars Winter’s Bone actress Jennifer Lawrence. Fox Searchlight tried to spoil Paramount’s party with a last-minute multimillion-dollar offer, but at about 6 a.m. — 16 hours after the first public screening — Paramount and Indian Paintbrush’s Mark Roybal sealed the deal. Klubeck, Flynn, Schwartz and Doremus’ Morris Yorn attorney Lawrence Kopeikin repped the filmmakers. — Jay A. Fernandez and Daniel Miller

OTHER DEALS

My Idiot Brother | The Weinstein Co. paid about $6 million for director Jesse Peretz’s slacker comedy, which stars Paul Rudd. TWC partnered with financier Ron Burkle on the pickup and will release the film in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Japan. Anthony Bregman of Likely Story and Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf of Big Beach Films produced, with Big Beach also financing. UTA brokered the deal for the filmmakers with lawyer Jackie Eckhouse, who reps Big Beach.

Red State | Kevin Smith found an enthusiastic buyer for his horror thriller: himself. The director had teased an “auction,” but after gathering distribution execs and media at the Eccles on Jan. 23, he instead launched into a diatribe decrying the state of the indie business and announced he paid $20 to release the film. First stop: Radio City Music Hall on March 5.

Homework | Fox Searchlight paid more than $3 million for the romantic comedy, starring Emma Roberts and Freddie Highmore and directed by first-timer Gavin Wiesen. P. Jennifer Dana, Kara Baker, Gia Walsh and Darren Goldberg produced. Searchlight execs Ray Strache, Tony Safford and Megan O’Brien negotiated with ICM, which repped the filmmakers.

Martha March May Marlene | Fox Searchlight paid a little under $2 million for worldwide rights to Sean Durkin’s dark drama. Elizabeth Olsen stars in the story of a young woman struggling to re-acclimate to regular life after fleeing a cult. UTA repped the filmmakers.

Margin Call | Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate teamed to pay a little less than $2 million for J.C. Chandor’s star-packed political drama toplined by Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons and Paul Bettany. UTA and Cassian Elwes repped the film.

The Ledge | IFC Films paid more than $1 million for Matthew Chapman’s drama about a man threatening to jump off a high-rise. The film was repped by ElwesKevin Iwashina of Parlay Media and producer Mark Damon’s Foresight Unlimited, who negotiated with IFC Films execs Arianna Bocco and Betsy Rodgers. Michael Mailer also produced.

Life in a Day | Buck | Page One | National Geographic acquired U.S. rights the user-generated documentary Life in a Day from director Kevin Macdonald and producer Ridley Scott. Nat Geo plans to release the film in partnership with YouTube, which spearheaded the project. Nat Geo exec Kattie Evans negotiated the deal with Tim Haslam of HanWay on behalf of Scott Free U.K. … IFC sister division Sundance Selects picked up North American rights to the doc Buck, about real-life horse whisperer Buck Brannaman. … Magnolia and Participant teamed to buy U.S. rights to Page One, a behind-the-scenes look at the New York Times.

Marvel’s Black Superhero Movie
Black Panther, which Marvel Studios recently put back in development by hiring scribe Mark Bailey, has struggled for years to see the big screen. The character, considered the first black hero in mainstream comics, initially appeared in 1966 in the pages of Fantastic Four. A movie version was in development at Columbia during the early 1990s with Wesley Snipes on board. A green light never came, but Snipes remained attached even when the property transferred to Artisan Entertainment. Marvel reacquired Panther rights in 2005 when it absorbed character licenses from Lionsgate, which bought Artisan in 2003. Bailey (CAA), a writer on documentaries like HBO’s Pandemic: Facing AIDS, might seem an odd choice for Panther, but going against the grain is a tradition at Marvel: Remember, Alvin Sargent (Ordinary People) was tapped to write the first Spider-Man movie. — Borys Kit

FILM

After a lengthy search, Anne Hathaway has nabbed the female lead opposite Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. Hathaway (CAA, Management 360) tested for the role of Catwoman in recent weeks along with Jessica Biel and Keira Knightley. Tom Hardy also stars as the villain Bane.

Showrunner Josh Schwartz (Chuck, Gossip Girl) will make his feature directing debut with Fun Size, a Halloween comedy that his Fake Empire shingle is developing for Paramount. Schwartz (WME, McKuin Frankel) is producing with partner Stephanie Savage and Anonymous Content. Paramount picked up the script by The Colbert Report scribe Max Werner in May.

Sony has picked up Elysium, Neill Blomkamp’s big-budget follow-up to District 9, which also was released by the studio. Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley co-star in the allegorical sci-fi film.

Robert Downey Jr. has fallen out of Disney’s Wizard of Oz prequel Oz, the Great and Powerful, and the studio is courting Johnny Depp to take over the role. Sam Raimi is directing.

Producers Barry Josephson and Michelle Krumm have optioned film rights to The Most Dangerous Man in the World, a biography of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange written by Australian reporter Andrew Fowler. A writer has not been hired.

Relativity Media will distribute mystery thriller The Raven, starring John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe. Director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) recently wrapped production on the Intrepid Pictures film, in which Poe’s final days are spent hunting down a serial killer inspired by his writings.

Jon Bon Jovi and Seth Meyers have joined New Year’s Eve, New Line’s follow-up to the hit Valentine’s Day. They join a huge ensemble that includes Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Sarah Jessica Parker for director Garry Marshall.

TELEVISION

HBO Films has optioned Bye Bye, Life: The Loves and Deaths of Bob Fosse, a forthcoming biography of the actor-choreographer by Sam Wasson. X-Men director Bryan Singer (WME, Bloom Hergott) is attached to direct the adaptation, a feature to air on HBO. Neil Meron and Craig Zadan (Hairspray) are executive producing with Singer. Sony Pictures Television will co-produce. No writer is on board.

NBC has ordered its first pilots under new NBC Entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt. Smash, an hourlong musical series from producer Steven Spielberg, revolves around characters who come together to put on a Broadway musical. I Hate That I Love You, from 20th Television, is a single-camera romantic comedy about a budding lesbian relationship from Will & Grace alum Jhoni Marchinko.

USA Network has picked up two scripted series. A Legal Mind, from Universal Cable Prods., centers on a Manhattan corporate lawyer played by Love and Other Drugs actor Gabriel Macht (ICM). Hypnotic’s Doug Liman and Dave Bartis are executive producers. Necessary Roughness, from UCP and Sony Pictures Television, stars Callie Thorne (Gersh, Untitled Entertainment) as a Long Island divorcee who takes a job as a therapist for a pro football player to make ends meet.

CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux will move from the White House beat to anchor CNN Newsroom from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. weekdays. She will replace Tony Harris, who left the network Dec. 31.

REAL ESTATE

Winona Ryder has sold her four-bedroom Spanish home on North Doheny Drive in the hills above West Hollywood. The deal, which sources said is in the low $3 million range, closed Jan. 21. The home, listed for $3.95 million, was built during the 1930s.

MUSIC

Yusuf, who recorded as Cat Stevens during the 1970s, has signed an expansive deal with BMG North America, which will handle administration, collection and exploitation of the artist’s back catalog and more recent releases.

DIGITAL

AOL has cut deals to launch a late-night video block with content from online shows hosted by Adam Carolla, Kevin Pollak and Kevin Smith. The nightly package, which bowed Jan. 24, features highlights from Carolla’s and Smith’s podcasts and Pollak’s online chat show.

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