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The Hollywood Reporter Archives -

The Hollywood Reporter Archives -

Mack Chico


2009/04/09 at 12:00am

Al Pacino to play Napoleon

Al Pacino to play Napoleon

Al Pacino, who has long been interested in tackling the character of Napoleon, is on tap to play the French emperor in a screen adaptation of Staton Rabin’s children’s book “Betsy and the Emperor.”

GC Corp., the venture capital fund headed by Adi Cohen and Joseph Grinkorn, has picked up rights to the project that had been held by the Bob Yari Co. GC, which will secure financing, has assigned “Betsy” to Killer Films, with plans to begin filming in late autumn.

John Curran (“The Painted Veil”) is attached to direct from a screenplay by Brian Edgar.

Producing are Killer Films’ Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler as well as Zvi Howard Rosenman, Colleen Camp and Fonda Snyder. Cohen and John Wells will serve as exec produce.

Killer, Curran and Pacino are repped by CAA. Rosenman, Snyder and Rabin are repped by Lynn Pleshette for this project, and Camp is repped by Gersh.

Pau Brunet


2009/02/02 at 12:00am

‘Taken’ Takes First Place at the Box Office

'Taken' Takes First Place at the Box Office

What football game?

Fox’s Liam Neeson starrer “Taken” took in an impressive $24.6 million in estimated opening grosses to top domestic rankings over a weekend weakened less than expected by preoccupation with the Super Bowl.

Paramount’s PG-13 thriller “The Uninvited” scared up $10.5 million for a third-place bow, while Lionsgate’s romantic comedy “New in Town,” starring Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr., debuted in eighth with $6.8 million.

The frame’s $129 million in industry coin represented a 1% improvement over last year’s record Super Bowl frame, according to Nielsen.

Essentially, distributors enjoyed big enough boxoffice receipts on Friday and Saturday to compensate for a football-slackened Sunday.

Year-to-date, 2009 is off 10% from a year ago at $824.6 million. But that’s mostly because of seasonal calendar fluctuations.

Meanwhile, two of Oscar’s best-picture nominees staged respectable first-time expansions into wide release during the weekend, despite competition from the pigskin-championship telecast.

The Weinstein Co.’s Nazi-themed drama “The Reader” registered $2.4 million from 1,002 engagements to push its cumulative boxoffice to $12.6 million. Additionally, Focus Features’ Harvey Milk biopic “Milk” grossed $1.4 million from 882 playdates, as the Sean Penn starrer raised its cume to $23.4 million.

Also, Miramax’s drama “Doubt” — whose five Oscar noms include four cast mentions — added 198 locations for a barely wide 602 runs and grossed $801,000. That gave the Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman starrer a $27.9 million tally to date.

A fifth-place weekend haul of $8.6 million by Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” gave the actor-director and his Oscar-snubbed urban drama a career-record cume of $110.5 million. Distributed by Warner Bros., “Torino” cruised past Eastwood’s previous personal best of $102.2 million for 1993’s “In the Line of Fire.”

“He’s an extraordinary director and star whose films hold up over time,” Warners exec vp distribution Jeff Goldstein said.

Fox Searchlight’s Indian drama “Slumdog Millionaire” rang up $7.7 million in sixth place, elevating its cume to $67.2 million over a weekend in which helmer Danny Boyle captured the DGA’s feature-film award.

Sony Screen Gems’ three-quel “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans” topped second-session holdovers with $7.2 million in seventh place. The modestly budgeted action fantasy marked a big weekend-over-weekend drop of 65% but still posted a 10-day cume of $32.8 million.

Sony’s irrepressible Kevin James starrer “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” overperformed yet again, grabbing second place on the frame with its $14 million session. The “Blart” cume climbed to $83.4 million over three weeks, with a domestic run of well over $100 million now certain for the Steve Carr-helmed comedy.

“If Paul Blart was in the Super Bowl, he would get called for holding,” Sony spokesman Steve Elzer quipped.

In a limited bow during the weekend, IFC Films unspooled the romantic drama “Medicine for Melancholy” in a single New York location and grossed $14,721.

Sony Pictures Classics brought its French drama “The Class” to six theaters — the first playdates for the Oscar foreign-language nominee since Academy-qualifying runs in December — and grossed $86,514, or an auspicious $14,419 per theater, with a cume of $121,410.

SPC’s other foreign-language candidate — the Israeli animated documentary “Waltz With Bashir” from Israel — added 19 engagements for a total of 44 and grossed $185,687, or a solid $4,220 per site, as the cume reached $1 million.

Searchlight’s Mickey Rourke starrer “The Wrestler” added 151 theaters for a total of 722 and grossed $2.4 million, pushing its cume to $13.9 million.

Helmed by Pierre Morel (“District B13”), “Taken” audiences skewed 52% male, with 60% of patrons 25 or older.

“It was an all-audience film,” Fox senior vp distribution Bert Livingston said. “It’s beyond our expectations.”

“Uninvited” audiences were evenly divided between males and females, with two-thirds of patrons under 25.

“The opening was right where we were expecting,” Par exec vp distribution Don Harris said.

The critically panned “Town” drew audiences that were 65% female, with 56% of patrons 30 or older.

“It opened right in line with our expectations,” Lionsgate distribution president Steve Rothenberg said.

Looking ahead, there will be four wide openers on Friday, all boasting notable casts.

Focus unspools the stop-motion feature “Coraline,” featuring the voice of Dakota Fanning, and Steve Martin reprises his title role in Sony’s comedy “The Pink Panther 2.” Summit also has Fanning toplining its actioner “Push” with Chris Evans, while Warners’ romantic comedy “He’s Just Not That Into You” features an ensemble cast including Jennifer Aniston and Scarlett Johansson.


Mack Chico


2008/11/16 at 12:00am

Guillermo del Toro preps new version of ‘Pinocchio’

Guillermo del Toro preps new version of 'Pinocchio'

A new version of “Pinocchio” is on its way to the big screen, this one to be co-directed by acclaimed children’s book illustrator Gris Grimly and executive produced by Guillermo del Toro.

The adaptation, being made by the Jim Henson Co., will be done as a stop-motion animated feature. Henson co-CEOs Brian Henson and Lisa Henson and senior vp feature films Jason Lust are producing.

The aim is to make a dark, twisted retelling of the famous Carlo Collodi fairy tale about the wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy. In the retelling, when Pinocchio comes to life, he turns out not to be that nice of a boy, creating mischief and playing mean tricks. He eventually learns a few lessons. The story and the look of the feature will be based on the 2002 children’s book illustrated by Grimly, who is repped by Gotham Group.

Sitting with Grimly in the director’s chair will be Adam Parrish King, whose “The Wraith of Cobble Hill” won the short filmmaking award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award in the shorts category.

News of del Toro’s involvement initially broke on the horror Web site Bloody-Disgusting.

The new incarnation of “Pinocchio” looks to have better luck than the previous attempt, which involved Francis Ford Coppola. In 1991, Coppola tried to set up a live-action version at Warners; after an impasse emerged, he tried to set it up at Columbia. The project disintegrated in a costly lawsuit.

Mack Chico


2008/10/04 at 12:00am

Rodrigo Garcia lines up ‘Mother and Child’ with ‘the three amigos’

Rodrigo Garcia lines up 'Mother and Child' with 'the three amigos'

Rodrigo Garcia is ready to tango with his three amigos for the ensemble drama “Mother and Child.”

Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu will produce the writer-director’s next feature for their Focus Features International-funded outfit cha cha cha.

The $4.5 million project, produced with Mockingbird Pictures president Julie Lynn, follows the intersecting lives of a 50-year-old woman, the daughter she gave up for adoption 35 years ago and a black woman looking to adopt a baby.

Set to begin a Los Angeles shoot in late December or January, the film continues Garcia’s examination of female characters found in his dramas “Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her” and “Nine Lives.”

“Alejandro read a nearly finished draft and challenged me to finish it,” said Garcia, who has been working on the script for more than seven years. “It all takes place in the present, but it was difficult to write because it explores 30 years in the lives of these three women.” Casting for the leads is under way.

Garcia credits his cha cha cha friends — one of whom, Inarritu, executive produced “Lives” — for getting the film off the ground at a time when “hard-nosed realistic dramas” are having a tough time getting financed. “If it wasn’t for those three guys, I’m sure I’d still be shopping it around with extremely little luck,” he said.

Garcia is about to make his big-studio debut at Sony with this month’s supernatural thriller “Passengers,” starring Anne Hathaway, produced by Lynn with Mandate Pictures and Persistent Entertainment. Cha cha cha’s first film out of the gate will be Carlos Cuaron‘s soccer drama “Rudo y Cursi,” starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.

Mack Chico


2008/09/03 at 12:00am

‘Tarzan’ returns to the big screen

'Tarzan' returns to the big screen

He’s already tackled Huckleberry Finn and Mowgli, so let’s see what Stephen Sommers can do with Tarzan.

The “Jungle Book” director is in negotiations with Warner Bros. to bring a new version of the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs creation “Tarzan, Lord of the Apes,” to the big screen. “Collateral” screenwriter Stu Beattie will write the project with Sommers.

Jerry Weintraub (“Ocean’s Eleven”) is producing through his Jerry Weintraub Prods. Jessica Goodman and Jesse Ehrman will oversee for the studio.

Guillermo del Toro had been attached to direct a script written by John Collee (“Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”) when the project was announced two years ago. But “The Mummy” director will get his shot now that Del Toro is committed to a four-year stint choreographing dwarves in New Zealand for the MGM-Warner Bros. two-fer of “The Hobbit.”

With the first two “Mummy” movies, “The Scorpion King” and “Van Helsing,” Sommers, who is repped by WMA, has become a connoisseur of the big-budget, effects-driven spectacle. He recently finished shooting the summer 2009 Paramount tentpole, “G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra,” which Beattie came in to write for him.

Over the decades, Tarzan has come in for any number of epic treatments, from John Derek’s 1981 Jane-driven “Tarzan, the Ape Man,” to the 1984 drama “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes,” which famously earned pseudonymous screenwriter Robert Towne’s dog, P.H. Vazak, an Oscar nomination. Disney released its take on the jungle king in 1999, replete with an incongruous (but Oscar-winning) Phil Collins soundtrack.

Beattie and Sommers do not plan to work from the original 1914 Burroughs tome or any previous film. An entirely new approach is in the works, though more details beyond that are being kept under wraps tighter than Tarzan’s loincloth.

Beattie, has “Australia” coming out in November, which he co-wrote with director Baz Luhrmann.

Mack Chico


2008/08/20 at 12:00am

Guillermo del Toro & Peter Jackson to pen ‘Hobbit’ script

Guillermo del Toro & Peter Jackson to pen 'Hobbit' script

Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro‘s search for writers for “The Hobbit” and its companion film has ended, with the filmmakers deciding that no one is better suited for the task than they are.

Del Toro, who is directing the movies, will team with the “Lord of the Rings” filmmaker and “Hobbit” executive producer Jackson to adapt the J.R.R. Tolkien book and write its follow-up. Also joining them in the writers room are Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, both of whom collaborated with Jackson on the “Rings” trilogy.

The news caps off an eight-month search for a scribe to tackle the coveted task of bringing the literary classic to the big screen. When Jackson and New Line resolved their differences over profit participation in the “Rings” films, Jackson said he would not be writing the “Hobbit” movies because of other commitments, though he does have approval over creative elements in his role as exec producer.

Later, when del Toro came aboard, the deal was that the two would oversee the search for scribes and the writing. In the interim, three factors came into play: 1) The filmmakers saw their schedules open up, 2) During the general discussions about the films, they realized how much affection they had for the material, and 3) They also realized that in order to make the release dates, the process required people intimate with Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth. All led to the decision that they would do the honors themselves along with Walsh and Boyens.

“Hobbit,” written by Tolkien for his children years before the “Rings” trilogy, follows a young Bilbo Baggins, who finds his comfortable life turned upside down when the wizard Gandalf takes him on a journey for a hoard of treasure that involves trolls, humans, Gollum and his ring of invisibility and a dragon named Smaug.

“Hobbit” and its sequel are being co-produced, co-financed and co-distributed by New Line and MGM, with New Line managing production and handling domestic distribution through Warner Bros. and MGM distributing internationally.

The films will be shot simultaneously, with principal photography tentatively set for a late-2009 start. New Line and MGM hope to release “Hobbit” in 2011 and its sequel the following year.

Mack Chico


2008/08/19 at 12:00am

Tom Cruise to work with Sam Raimi on ‘Sleeper’

Tom Cruise to work with Sam Raimi on 'Sleeper'

As Tom Cruise goes about writing the next chapter in his career, he’s developing an interest in comic book movies.

Together with Sam Raimi, he is setting up “Sleeper” at Warner Bros. Cruise is loosely attached to star in the adaptation of the DC Comics/Wildstorm comic that Raimi would produce with his Star Road Entertainment partner Josh Donen.

Written by Ed Brubaker with art by Sean Phillips, “Sleeper,” which ran from 2003-05, centers on an operative whose fusion with an alien artifact makes him impervious to pain and allows him to pass it on to others through skin contact. He is placed undercover in a villainous organization by an intelligence agency and falls for a member of the group, named Miss Misery.

Although he remains a co-owner of United Artists — from which his longtime producing partner Paula Wagner resigned last week — he’s not tied exclusively to that company. It now looks as if his next acting gig will be the Spyglass thriller “Tourist,” as if to counter the more cerebral role he played in the UA boxoffice failure “Lions for Lambs” and the upcoming UA WWII period pic “Valkyrie,” in which he plays the anti-Nazi Claus van Stauffenberg.

“Sleeper” is the third project that Cruise has become associated with over the past two weeks –all three separate from his commitments at UA. In addition to “Tourist,” the actor has expressed interest in the Working Title-Universal comedy “Food Fight.”

Also apart from UA, the actor picked up some good notices last week for his uncharacteristic turn as a bald film mogul in DreamWorks-Paramount’s “Tropic Thunder.”

Even if Cruise opts not to do “Sleeper,” his interest in the project is propelling it forward, despite complicated rights issues that must be sorted out. Raimi and Donen have long been fans of the book, and the project could have found homes at Sony and Regency if those issues hadn’t been so complex.

“Sleeper” takes place in the same publishing universe as other Wildstorm books, and integrally featured characters from the company’s flagship title “WildC.A.T.s” as well as characters from another book, “Gen 13.”

Both “WildC.A.T.s” and “Gen 13” had been set up at different places around town and some of those deals were made before DC bought the imprint in 1999.

Warners, now involved in a legal wrangle with Fox over the rights to “Watchmen,” appears determined to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s in its contracts for “Sleeper.”

The project is being eyed not only as a starring vehicle for Cruise but also as a possible franchise for the studio.

Matt Reilly is overseeing the project for Warners while Russell Hollander shepherds for Star Road. Gregory Noveck oversees for DC. No writer is attached.

“Sleeper” sees Raimi and Donen continuing their company’s superhero, which began when they recently set up the superhero story “The Transplants” at Disney.

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