The Report: 7 Days of Deals
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Hollywood is full of strange bedfellows. Consider the curious alliance between the new Miramax, whose $633 million acquisition was engineered by construction magnate Ron Tutor and financier Tom Barrack, and the Weinstein Co., led by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who founded Miramax in 1979, sold it to Disney in 2005, then tried and failed to buy the company back last year. As Disney was wrangling with various suitors who wanted the Miramax name and its library of 700 films, the Weinsteins — who retained sequel rights to certain Miramax movies — were adamant that they would never do business with the Tutor-Barrack group. Equally steadfast, Tutor told THR in July that he wouldn’t need permission from Harvey Weinstein to make lucrative Miramax sequels or spinoffs. But once the deal closed in December, the threat of Weinstein legal action loomed. Plus, Miramax’s initial business plan is not to make movies but rather to mine the library by working with partners to exploit rights (potential TV spinoffs include Swingers and Bridget Jones’s Diary). The Miramax movies that have remake and sequel value are so intertwined with TWC — which is already in production on a fourth Scream and a fifth Scary Movie, among others —that in the end, Miramax execs felt they had to deal with the Weinsteins. And to keep making sequels, the Weinsteins felt they needed to be in business with the new owners of the library. So the animosity evaporated, and an accord was reached. Miramax can jointly make movies with TWC, but it likely will take a passive role for a small percentage of ownership, and in some cases it will handle digital ancillary rights. — Alex Ben Block
New Start for MGM: What’s Next
The Lion has emerged from bankruptcy with $500 million and new CEOs (Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum) and it will soon depart Century City for Beverly Hills. Its next move might be securing a home for its James Bond series; the past two films were released by Sony, but with other studios, including Paramount, interested in the franchise, MGM (with rightsholder the Broccoli family) is said to be driving a hard bargain for distribution rights. MGM is already partnered 50-50 with Warner Bros. on The Hobbit, the $500 million, two-part epic set to begin production in February. And Barber and Birnbaum might spend 2011 dealing with investor Carl Icahn, who many believe wants Lionsgate to make a bid for MGM. — Jonathan Handel
Sarandos Adds a Home to His Queue
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who is responsible for the rapid growth of the company’s film and TV library, and wife Nicole Avant, U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas, have purchased a five-bedroom Beverly Hills house from fashion designer Max Azria for $5.4 million. Azria, founder and chairman of BCBG Max Azria Group, decided to sell the Rexford Drive house he owned for nearly 20 years after moving to Holmby Hills about a year ago, according to Elena Jovis of Nourmand & Associates, who had the listing. Azria extensively renovated the colonial-style, 6,136-square-foot residence, built in 1923. Jonah Wilson of Sotheby’s International Realty represented the buyers. — Daniel Miller
George Clooney has finalized a deal to star opposite Sandra Bullock in Gravity for Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. Clooney (CAA) joins the Alfonso Cuaron-directed 3D outer-space thriller that has become a game of musical chairs for actors. The initial pairing for the project — about a female astronaut trying to make it to Earth after a disaster in space — was to have been Angelina Jolie and Robert Downey Jr. Then Jolie left, came back and left again, and a handful of other actresses became involved to varying degrees — all during the past eight months.
James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma) is heading back to the Wild West, though this time a modern incarnation of it. The director (CAA, Management 360), who most recently helmed Knight and Day, is attached to The Gunslinger, a revenge thriller that New Regency is picking up from turnaround at Warner Bros. Andrew Lazar is producing.
Nicolas Cage (CAA, Bloom Hergott) will star in Medallion, an action thriller directed by Simon West. Nu Image/Millennium Films has come aboard the project as financier and is out to buyers with the package. The project originally was to have starred Clive Owen.
DreamWorks Animation has picked up film rights to Maintenance, an Oni Press comic book, nabbing it out of turnaround from Warner Bros. The comic revolves around a pair of janitors who work for the world’s biggest evil-science think tank. No writer, director or producer is attached.
Sarah Jessica Parker (CAA, Schreck Rose) is set to join New Line’s New Year’s Eve, and Halle Berry (CAA, Vincent Cirrincione, Stone Meyer) and Zac Efron (CAA, Alchemy Entertainment, Felker Toczek) are in negotiations to join the all-star cast. The ensemble of the Garry Marshall-directed follow-up to 2010’s Valentine’s Day is slated to include Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank, Ashton Kutcher, Sofia Vergara, Jessica Biel, Lea Michele and Abigail Breslin.
Country superstar Tim McGraw (CAA, Michael Flutie, Jackoway Tyerman) is in negotiations to join Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds in Safe House, the action thriller Daniel Espinosa is directing for Universal.
Tron: Legacy star Olivia Wilde (WME, Ziffren Brittenham) has joined Welcome to People, the DreamWorks family drama starring Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks. The film is co-written by Alex Kurtzman, who directs and will produce with regular collaborator Roberto Orci and Bobby Cohen.
Author Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code) has taken over writing duties on the film adaptation of his most recent novel, The Lost Symbol. Columbia Pictures is developing the film version of the 2009 book that sold more than a million copies in its first day of release. This is Brown’s first screenwriting project.
Mila Kunis and Adam Scott are in negotiations to join the cast of Ted, Universal and MRC’s comedy from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. Kunis (CAA, Curtis Talent Management) and Scott (CAA, Untitled, Wendy Heller) join star Mark Wahlberg.
Rosario Dawson (CAA, Untitled, Bloom Hergott), Lynn Collins (WME, 3 Arts, Sloane Offer) and Oscar Isaac (UTA, Inspire Entertainment, Stone Meyer) are the latest to nab roles in Ten Year, the high school reunion drama that marks the directing debut of screenwriter Jamie Linden. Chris Pine, Channing Tatum, Kate Mara, Anna Faris and Justin Long also star.
Teri Polo (Gersh, McGowan Management) and Dermot Mulroney (ICM, Jackoway Tyerman) are joining Jon Voight in Beyond, a thriller from Crystal Sky’s subsidiary Crystal Edge. Joseph Rusnak, who helmed The 13th Floor, is directing the $10 million production, which is shooting in Alaska.
Don Cheadle has signed to star in Showtime’s House of Lies pilot. Cheadle (UTA, Liberman-Zerman Management) will take the lead in the half-hour dark comedy about management consultants created by Matthew Carnahan (Dirt). A February start is planned.
Brian Austin Green (ICM, Interlink Management, McKuin Frankel) and Lost star Harold Perrineau (APA) have signed to star in the hourlong TBS comedy pilot The Wedding Band. The FremantleMedia project is executive produced by Tollin Prods.
Hell on Wheels, the period drama set during the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, has received a full-season order from AMC. The series, which features rapper-actor Common, was created and written by Joe and Tony Gayton, who will also executive produce.
Discovery Channel has greenlighted two reality shows in which people discover hidden treasure amid everyday junk. The network has ordered Desert Car Kings, about an Arizona family that restores classic vehicles, and Treasure Nation (working title), about an archaeologist and anthropologist who travel the country to find overlooked artifacts.