Sony picks up apocalyptic '2012'


Sony Pictures Entertainment has picked up Roland Emmerich's apocalyptic spec script "2012." The studio is planning a July 10, 2009, release.

Emmerich, known for his big-budget disaster event movies, co-wrote the script with his "10,000 B.C." co-writer Harald Kloser and will direct. Emmerich and Kloser also will produce.

"2012" was the first big spec to hit the market since the end of the writers strike. Emmerich and his CAA agents went out with it Tuesday, with the script hitting only the studios' top brass. Emmerich then followed up with meetings Wednesday.

While a deal almost was assured, many studios bowed out quickly. Some didn't like the story, describing it as a "Roland Emmerich greatest-hits package." The script blends the idea of the Mayan calendar, which predicts the world ending in 2012, with natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, typhoons and glaciers plaguing the planet and a large cast of characters dealing with the mayhem.

Others balked at the price tag. The project comes with a $200 million budget. Even more prohibitive was Emmerich's quote on the deal: $20 million against 25% of first-dollar gross, sources said. Even if the movie comes in on budget, it will require success in the international marketplace to recoup costs.

Still, for certain studios looking to quickly fill their sparse 2009 release schedules with a tentpole, "2012" was what the doctor ordered.

Emmerich's most recent disaster film, 2004's "The Day After Tomorrow," was a smash for 20th Century Fox, bringing in more than $186 million at the domestic boxoffice. It cost $140 million. His "10,000 B.C." is tracking strong and opens March 7.
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