Legendary Wins Bidding War for J.D. Dillard Thriller 'Mastering Your Past' (Exclusive)

Hollywood is hot in February with the third intense bidding war in under a week.
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J.D. Dillard

Coming out on top of an intense bidding war, Legendary has picked up Mastering Your Past, the latest project from J.D. Dillard, the filmmaker behind Sleight and the recent Sundance horror movie Sweetheart.

Past hit the town market Friday, generating immediate interest from Universal, Paramount, Sony, Amazon, Lionsgate, MRC and Legendary. A slow burn heated up by the end of the weekend, scorching into several bidders. When all was said and done, Legendary came out on top for the pitch, with Dillard receiving a seven-figure deal to co-write the script with Matt Owens (Luke Cage, The Defenders) and approaching seven figures to direct. The duo also will produce.

Details are being kept under lock and key, but sources say the project centers on a black woman who enters into a relationship with a white man, only to find out that he is not quite what he seems to be. Sources say that the story also contains the twists that Dillard has become known for.

It is unclear where this project falls in Dillard’s timeline. The filmmaker has a remake of the horror classic The Fly on deck for Fox, but the studio is in flux as it deals with its impending acquisition by Disney.

Dillard, who counted J.J. Abrams as an early fan, first broke onto the Hollywood scene with Sleight, the 2016 sci-fi drama about a young street magician that supports his little sister. After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, the project was picked up by Blumhouse, which then backed Dillard’s sophomore effort, Sweetheart. The Kiersey Clemons-starring survival horror made its debut during the midnight section of this year’s Park City-based fest.

The auction for Mastering Your Past marks the third intense bidding-war situation to hit Hollywood in under a week. On Monday, Sony made an eight-figure deal for The Last Human, a sci-fi children’s book adaptation from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Meanwhile, Netflix won the rights to the Joe Hill short story Faun.

Dillard is repped by CAA, Circle of Confusion and Ginsburg Daniels Kallis. Owens, who has also written for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., is repped by CAA, Circle of Confusion and Bloom Hergott.