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Universal has emerged as the winner of a big bidding war for the latest spec by David Guggenheim, the Us Weekly editor-turned-hot Hollywood scribe.
Scott Stuber’s Bluegrass Films and Madhouse Entertainment are attached to produce the thriller, which is titled Black Box.
The script went in Wednesday to all the studios and quickly drew bids from every major studio except Disney. The all-day bidding war came down to DreamWorks, Warner Bros. (with Bradley Cooper attached to star and produce via his 22nd & Indiana banner) and Universal (which produced Guggenheim’s Safe House).
The story is kicked into motion when Air Force One goes down over the U.S. An investigator’s life is put in jeopardy when he discovers the plane’s black box, which contradicts the official cause that the plane went down because of technical issues.
The script is described as being tonally in the vein of Enemy of the State, the 1998 Tony Scott-directed Will Smith thriller, and Three Days of the Condor, a classic 1975 political thriller that starred Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway.
Sources said the deal was in the high-six figures.
With this latest sale, Guggenheim remains at or near the top of the heap when it comes to spec sales, a market that increasingly has become troubled in the past half-decade as branded and comic book movies have become studios’ choice of material.
His first spec, Safe House, made his name and got made into the hit Denzel Washington–Ryan Reynolds film. His spec Medallion was picked up by Millennium and made into Stolen, an action thriller starring Nicolas Cage and Malin Akerman that is awaiting release. He also sold a pitch called Puzzle Palace that was acquired by Summit with McG attached to direct. “Every thing he writes, sells!” said one exasperated but amazed exec.
He is repped by Paradigm, Madhouse Entertainment and Ziffren Brittenham.
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